Keep in mind that proper editing won't be done until the book is finished, though I try to keep it error free as I go.
Now here's the first installment.
He awoke suddenly to find the car careening down an embankment into a curtain of blackness. His right foot frantically searched for the break, abruptly found it, and then slammed it to the floor. But by then the car was moving way too fast. The wheels of the Intrepid grabbed as best they could, but the car continued for a while, sliding over weeds, pine straw, and dirt, plowing headlong through patches of underbrush to sideswipe a lanky old pine tree. It seemed both an instant and an eternity before the tires found solid purchase and the auto groaned and squeaked to a stop gently kissing the trunk of a massive, white oak.
Jack Mason exhaled a lung full of hot, bated breath then nervously swiped back a lock of his coal black hair.
Something spit and spewed from the bottom of the car. Smoke and steam wafted out from the hood like an apparition drifting off into the night.
He twisted the key in the ignition, but already knew what to expect. The car was dead. Even the dashboard lights failed to blink.
He opened the driver side door into the velvet blackness and swung his legs out. When he did his foot kicked against an opened can of beer that had fallen into the floorboard. He instantly reached down and retrieved it. There was only a little bit of the foamy liquid remaining. He brought the can to his lips and drank what was left. He crushed the can and tossed it into the pile of empty beer cans that littered the passenger side floorboard.
He righted the large red and white Igloo cooler that lay canted next to him on the edge of the seat. He opened it and removed the last can of beer submerged in the icy water.
He had passed out. That was a cold realization. He had only come awake when the car left the road and began its jarring descent down this wooded landscape.
He thought of his cell phone. He had it in the seat beside him when he left the house, but it was no longer there. He started moving around to see if the phone had fallen and somehow slid under the seat beside him. When he did something caught under his feet. He reached down to see what it was. It was his cell phone.
The phone was dark. A portion of the back cover was missing. The front glass was broken. He pressed several buttons to see if he could bring it back to life. Nothing helped. The phone was dead.
He pushed himself out of the car and struggled to his feet, quickly grabbing the top of the car with his free hand. His legs were wobbly as if they were made of soft rubber.
Where was he? He stared out into the blackness of woods while he waited for a bit of strength and balance to return to his half inebriated and shaken body. Gradually he loosened his grip on the roof of the car and popped the top on the can of beer. For a moment it foamed over, then it was to his mouth where he took a big swallow.
The last real location he could recall was the Mity Darn Quick convenience store. He had stopped there for a twelve pack. He wasn’t sure how far he had driven since he had left the store, but it was far enough to have finished nearly all of the twelve pack.
What next? Any thought of fixing the car himself was out of the question. A mechanic he was not.
He could spend the night in the car. That was an option. Of course he’d be taking a chance that some cop would notice where he had left the road and cut a swath down the embankment. If they found him in the car he would surely go to jail. If he was convicted of another DUI that would be three. That would make him a three time loser. Not good.
He sighed. Okay, first he’d find a way out of here back to the paved road. From there he’d figure out what to do next.
He began to climb and stumble his way up the trail of flattened weeds and scrub trees broken by the onslaught of the automobile.
At the top of the hill he stood for a moment on the dirt shoulder of the two lane blacktop. The night was unusually dark. A scatter of clouds, like thick strands of dark cotton, blanketed the moon and most of the stars. When he looked to his right, down the paved road, he saw only darkness like a deep, lightless tunnel. There was nothing there to induce him to head in that direction.
He finished the beer that he had been carrying and tossed the empty can across the street. It ‘clanged’ on the hard asphalt momentarily silencing the serenade of crickets that were hidden somewhere in the darkened underbrush.
He looked to his left and spotted a street lamp about a hundred yards away on the opposite side of the road. Just behind it, caught in its soft ambient glow, was the faint outline of a house.
He started in that direction. If he could persuade the tenant to call him a taxi (provided this area had taxis) he’d have the driver take him to a hotel. Sometime in the morning, or possibly early afternoon, he would decide on what he needed to do.
The alcohol was working on him as he shambled along the shoulder of the highway, occasionally stumbling and laughing about it. What should have been a serious situation was passed off as just another slice of his muddled life.
He came adjacent to the house before he was fully aware of it. It stood upon a slight hill across the street from him. It looked down on him as if it were a brick sentry warily eyeing his approach.
His breathing was labored as if he had walked for miles, though in his mind it seemed like mere moments. That was one of the unique things about alcohol. It seemed to possess the magic to manipulate time. To shorten or lengthen its cadence as it saw fit.
He looked up at the house as he crossed the road. It was not very big. A single story. A two bedroom, he guessed. Nevertheless, it looked imposing sitting on the hill, its brick structure nestled on three sides by thick woods. A single light, like a malevolent eye, shone dully from a front room.
He puffed as he fought his way up the slight incline of the driveway. By the time he got to the top he was panting furiously. He leaned over to prop his hands upon his knees. His lungs felt as if they were going to explode. He stepped off the driveway heading away from the house. He needed the support of a good, sturdy tree. Just for a few moments. It might be a bad idea to show up at a stranger’s house all out of breath. He didn’t need to scare anyone into calling the cops on him.
He stepped into an area of deep darkness to an old sweet-gum-tree. He slipped under the branches and sat down against the trunk. The street lamp was behind him, its rays successfully blocked by the big tree. To his left the light from the house was much too faint by the time it stretched its way to him.
After a few minutes his breathing had steadied somewhat. He pushed to his feet and was about to head back over to the driveway when he spotted movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head. From his position he could see one side of the house and a little behind the house.
Something was moving through the woods behind the house. He wasn’t quite sure what it was. It looked to be a blackened outline, but was also a bit luminous. It was as if the object contained some kind of inner light. It reminded him of a small lamp with a low wattage light bulb covered by a black lampshade.
As he watched in sheer fascination he noted that the adumbrated form did not bend and curve with the contours it slid across as a normal shadow would have. Instead it moved through the woods as if it were a physical being.
At first he thought that it was a person. But then he realized that he could see the trees and brush through the figure as if he were looking into a fog.
When the figure came closer stepping into the clearing that encircled the house Jack could swear that this was the silhouette of a man. To him this appeared to be a rather tall man of medium bulk. There were still no clear definitions of the face, or sharp lines to the arms or legs so it could still be a woman, though his intuition told him that it was a man.
Jack watched the shadow figure walk straight into the brick wall adjacent to the corner of the house, and to his utter amazement the shadow wasn’t stopped by the structure. It disappeared into the wall as if it were being soaked into the very fabric of the bricks.
He was momentarily stunned. He didn’t know what to make of what he had just witnessed. He was suddenly curious as to what had just happened. Had it gone into the house? Or was it just an apparition that had vanished into the night as quickly as it had appeared?
He crossed the driveway to a spot a few yards across from the living room window but far enough away from the window to still be in the shadows. He could see into the living room through partially open curtains. A plump, gray haired man was reclining in a black leather recliner. He was half dozing, half watching, a big screen TV that sat a few yards in front of him.
The scene looked too normal. For a long moment he was about to dismiss what he thought he had seen only a few seconds ago and credit it to his half-drunk state and an overactive imagination. Then it appeared through the interior wall, its somewhat hazy body like a reflection off of dirty glass.
Jack felt as though as icy finger were running the length of his spine. He had a very bad feeling about all of this.
The old man did not seem to notice when the shadow stepped directly in front of him. He continued to gaze at the television screen as though bored.
Jack couldn’t understand it. The old man was looking straight at the shadow, but there wasn’t the faintest reaction from him. Couldn’t he see the gray, fuzzy outline standing before him? Or was it something with Jack himself? Maybe it was he who was seeing something that wasn’t there not the other way around.
The shadow was still as though looking down on the man contemplating its next move. Then, slowly, it stepped forward bent down, and fell over on top of the man melting into the man’s flesh until there was nothing left of it.
The old man suddenly flailed his arms wildly and pushed himself straight up in his seat gasping as if all the air in his lungs had fled. After only a few moments he fell straight down, his whole body as stiff as wood, to hit flat on his face.
For the next minute the only sounds were the gentle murmur of the television and Jack’s own nervous breathing.
He watched with a mixture of both terror and awe as the shadow came out of the man into a kneeling position on the carpet. Then, to Jack’s horror the shadow turned its blank, gray head to stare through the living room window. To stare directly at him.
Luckily Jack was still in a darkened spot out of the rays of light that came through the living room window. Even so, he stood as still as possible in case whatever this was could detect movement from him.
After long moments the shadow figure finally pushed to its feet. It turned away from the window and walked back out the way it had come.
For several moments Jack remained frozen in place afraid to even breathe too hard.
This didn’t happen he told himself. No, it couldn’t have! It was the alcohol. Somehow it was causing him to hallucinate.
Yet, the old man was still on the floor. And now Jack thought that he could see blood trickling from the man’s nose, ears, and mouth.