A visit on Halloween, a new assignment, and the Gypsy: Golem Excerpts
Thank you for your interest in reading a few Golem excerpts. What we have below are three excerpts, one from each of the main characters introduced in the Character Introduction Blogs. All excerpts are spoiler free and provide a good introduction to Annette Flemming, Detective John Ashton, and Alena Francon. Just enough to get you into the mood for Halloween and the horror novel Golem.
Golem will be released on October 5th in digital, paperback and hardcover formats. Digital format also available on Kindle Unlimited. Click here to preorder.
Enjoy the excerpts.
~ P.D. Alleva
Sam scuffled to the bathroom door.
“Oh, Sam,” Annette said. “You scared the bejesus out of me.”
Sam sat in front of the bathroom door, panting as if he’d run a few miles, a whining, fearful wheeze beneath his breath. His tongue dripped across his canine teeth.
Sam whimpered, rolled his tongue in, and backed away from the bedroom door. Annette surveyed the room. Another trick-or-treater? Maybe, she thought, but at this late hour? Anything is possible. She looked in the mirror, stretched her nose to make sure all the blood was gone (it was), then took a glance through the open window. The street was empty although leaves were bustling in the wind being carried on its heels.
Strong wind getting stronger!
She closed the window and locked it, then pulled off her towel—wiping some dried blood from her chest with it—and tossed her nightgown over her shoulders followed by a thick velvety robe.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. KNOCK!
Is this a joke, she thought and hurried to the hall, knotting the robe around her stomach as she stomped to the stairs when lightning and thunder rolled together.
Maybe they need help?
She raced down the stairs.
Knock, knock. More like a tapping this time. Or maybe a rapping. She couldn’t remember which one.
Rap Rap Rap.
She approached the door, reached for the dead bolt, and paused. Her hand pulled away from the lock as if it had a mind all its own. Her left hand on the doorknob, her right hand found the middle of the door and gently rested on the thick wood. She stretched her neck to the window. Staring back were those kids, and Annette recoiled from the window. Her stomach churned.
She was about to scream but held her hand over her mouth instead. “Who is it?” she stuttered, a crack in her speech.
The voice that answered was monotone and matter of fact. She couldn’t tell if it were boy or girl. “May we come in?”
“Why do you need to come in? Was there an accident? Do you need an ambulance?”
“May we come in?”
Pause. Brow furrowed. She pursed her lips and swallowed.
“Where are your parents? Aren’t they with you?”
“They’ll be here soon. May we come in?”
Annette nervously and slowly peeked through the window. As if this was anticipated, the little one was looking, staring, blank faced and…peculiar. Yes- the clothes were tattered, but what does that mean, their parents are poor? Probably trick-or-treating in the good neighborhood. But there was more not yet revealed. Their eyes, Annette thought. What’s wrong with their eyes? The little one, boy or girl she wasn’t sure although the dress definitely indicated girl, was mesmerized and blank faced. And the eyes. Yes, Annette could see it now. Her eyes were pitch black! No pupils, no iris, just jet, metallic bulging black eyeballs.
It was the older one who continued to speak through the door. “May we come in? Our parents will be here soon.”
Annette noticed Sam wasn’t barking. Noticed Sam wasn’t anywhere close to Annette.
“May we come in?”
Thunder! Lightning! Annette’s breath stuttered, constricted. She snapped her head around, looking through the hallway. Pitter patter pelts of rain snapped against the back windows. Lightning illuminated an empty backyard.
There’s no one there, no one out back. Am I going to leave needy children out in a rainstorm?
Then the little girl said, “Let us in!” Annette knew it came from the little one because the voice changed. Although still monotone there was a softness to it only little children carried.
The wind lifted into a frenzy. The rain fell hard now, showering the windows. Thunder. Lightning. Wind. Rain. Heavy rain.
“Can we come in?”
“Parents will be here soon.”
“Let us in.”
Annette caught sight of Sam at the top of the stairs. The retriever cowered in anticipation of Annette’s next move. Now the storm strengthened with a swirling, squall filled wind that howled through the house. She gripped the dead bolt, and Sam whimpered and whined and rushed down the hall to the bedroom.
“It’ll be all right,” she said. “They’re just kids.”
Excerpt 2: Detective John Ashton: The war hero gets his badge and his first assignment.
He could taste it like a tinge of metal on his tongue. He was about to receive his first assignment. Like a bloodhound on the scent of a hot trail, his anticipation brought him to the edge of his seat.
“Do you know district attorney Charles Xavier?”
Hearing that name formed goose bumps on John’s arms. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. Of course he knew DA Xavier, his daughter had gone missing almost two years ago. The investigation was still ongoing. High profile case too. John’s apt anticipation took a turn into pure one hundred percent excitement. Couldn’t believe it really, his blue eyes gleamed with that same excitement and he did all he could to taper down that smug, way-too-happy smile. This isabout a missing child. Mental check: learn to hide your excitement.
“Not personally but I have kept up on the investigation regarding his daughter. As much as I possible could with limited access and…”
“It’s a dead end,” Knowles interrupted him. Maybe he didn’t like the excitement he saw in Ashton’s face. Maybe he had no time for new recruits and their let’s save the worldattitude. Maybe he wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible. Still, his “dead end” declaration was disappointing. “I’m sure that child is calling someone else mommy and daddy right now or fertilizing daffodils. Either way, the politics in the situation is obviously paramount. We’ve exhausted all avenues over the last year. Came up empty and still empty. We normally would close this case but considering it’s the DA, as a courtesy, it’s still open.” John listened, waiting, anticipating, eager for the assignment to be handed to him; he could feel it in his bones. “However, there is a new lead.” Knowles looked up from his pad, his brown eyes stiff as if he was sizing up his new detective, looking for any sign that could break him. Knowles rolled his tongue inside his cheek and sat back, still holding his pen over the pad he’d scribbled on. “Have you ever heard of Alena Francon?”
The name did ring a bell, although John couldn’t place a face with the name. “Sounds like high society,” is what spat out of John’s mouth.
The captain didn’t laugh as John expected. He sat there, stiff and staring mindlessly at John
“High society is just the tip of the iceberg with this one. Remember the ClairField Hotel?”
John did remember the ClairField. Who in New York didn’t, especially after a fire ravaged and destroyed the hotel earlier in the year?
“Of course,” John replied. “Did she have something to do with the fire?”
“Officially, no. Officially hot coals left unattended by the destruction crew started the fire. Unofficially, we have reason to believe she isthe reason for the fire. A few firemen pulled her out, a bit delirious too. Kept going on and on about the children. Had a delirious story to go with it.”
John crinkled his brow. “Story?”
Now Captain Knowles laughed, more like a chuckle of disbelief. His eyes were cast down, as if he’d found some bug on the floor. “Said the Golem had kidnapped and was holding captive a horde of children in the hotel.”
To this John perked up. “Really? Did they find any remains?”
Captain shook his head, and brushed his shirt off then sat forward. “None. We ceased the search after hearing her story.” He laughed again. “She indicated this Golem is a statue that came to life. Talk about a wild goose chase.”
Excerpt 3: Alena Francon: In the back room with the Gypsy
She awakened with a heavy gasping inhale. Alena had been placed on a cot, which she surmised was in the shop’s back room. Sweat beaded her face and forehead. And she felt sick, her stomach wrenched, and her head weary. Maleva, her back to Alena, stirring a pot on a small half stove on the far end of the room.
“You sick,” Maleva said continuing to keep her back to Alena. Daylight struggled to find its way into the room through the room’s single window that had either been painted black or was covered in soot from years of neglect, giving a dark soft glow to the room that could not have been any larger than six feet by five feet.
She remembered vomiting. Remembered passing out in Maleva’s arms.
Whatever Maleva was concocting she mixed frantically as if the recipe called for furious mixing or she was hurried due to a lack of time. “I’m making a tonic. It’ll help with the sickness.” Her voice was different, hoarse, but somehow high pitched as if there was a snicker behind the thickness. “Old gypsy remedy,” she said pouring the liquid into a small cup. The scent was God-awful; it turned Alena’s stomach into a wrenching, grinding twist of boiling acid. Alena draped her legs over the side of the cot. The cement floor was cold to her bare feet. She wondered where her shoes were. She held her head in her left hand, her right hand across her stomach.
“Always safe…” Maleva said forcing the cup into Alena’s left hand. “For those with child.”
The dark liquid steamed from the cup. Alena turned her nose away.
“Drink,” Maleva said. “You will be better soon.”
I want to go home, Alena thought. To lie down in her own bed, beneath the sheets and nurse herself back to health. To comfort her baby.
“Drink,” Maleva repeated forcing Alena’s hand—and cup—to her lips. “You have fever.”
She was hot, burning even, her head seemed to weigh a thousand pounds, difficult to hold up, and she was fighting off the need to flop back down on the cot and stay. Alena wanted her own bed, not this decrepit cot in this small dark back room. Not with the gypsy woman. Away from the darkness to the comfort and light of the ClairField where she’d always felt strong and delighted.
“Drink,” Maleva said. “Drink and feel better.”
Alena stared into the cup through wet, narrow eyes. Steam rose from the cup and circled her head, as if the steam forced her head down and her lips to the brim. The thought of her mother passed through her mind. She’d always possessed an aggressive demeanor. If her mother were here now she’d be telling Maleva exactly where to stick her cup. But she wasn’t here. Alena was alone. Alone with the exception of Maleva, standing and hovering like a brick wall, guarding against Alena’s escape.
Or attempting to stay Alena’s eyes from the goat in the corner sitting on its hind legs wrapped and shaded in darkness. The room buzzed with waves of unrelenting continuous vibrations. A slight humming beneath the buzz as Alena’s eyes rolled behind limp eyelids then resurfaced on the goat. Its chin raised high and proud, the goat watched Alena through the corner of its black eyes as if anticipating Alena’s response. No baa, only silence, and Alena noticed a cowbell tied around the goat’s neck. She thought the goat smiled but dismissed the notion. Maleva brought the goat inside when Alena passed out. Why wouldn’t she, after the bridesmaids’ taunts? Of course she would demand the goat come inside.
She could never remember drinking, but she knew she did. She remembered the taste, like drinking liquid dirt and the pain that followed. Like acid depleting her insides. Remembered hearing Maleva say, “Good girl. Good girl,” as she took the cup from Alena’s hand. And how Maleva changed then as if somehow she’d become lighter and younger as if the stress of old age was torn from her thoughts.
Maleva escorted Alena through the shop where sunset beamed through the windows with a gold tint that drove the beat generation into a frenzied cycle of cheer and high energy.
Sunset, Alena thought. How long have I been here? She remembered telling the bridesmaids she’d meet them for a late lunch and now evening was ushered across the city. She couldn’t recollect the last few hours. Had she been sleeping the entire time? She stood at the door, almost afraid to leave and venture through the street festival. She thought they’d pass judgment, thinking she was some fall-down high society drunk.
“A gift for you,” Maleva said, standing behind her.
Alena turned and Maleva was holding that small statue, the gypsy statue she’d said provided protection.
“Will you take it?” Maleva again, her eyes staring. Alena thought she looked younger.
Will she ever let me leave? Alena thought. She took the statue. And Maleva smiled, her head bowed. “Manners, my dear,” Maleva said and for a brief moment Alena was confused. A perplexed gaze on her countenance. “For the statue,” Maleva said. “A gift.”
Alena looked at the statue in her hand and those beady little eyes that watched her. She wanted to smash the statue and run; to curse Maleva for whatever had taken place in this shop; for whatever atrocities Maleva had subjected her to while unconscious. Alena’s skin crawled. Felt that stinging pain in her stomach.
“Thank you,” Alena said in a soft hush.
Again, a smile from Maleva and Alena noticed how white her teeth now were as the memory of Maleva’s yellow grin passed through her thoughts. Alena squeezed the statue.
“You go,” Maleva said. She opened the door for Alena.
“Go,” she repeated. “And may the gods be with you.”