It’s Week 4 of our #EXCLUSIVE Excerpts from #ShiftersHallowsEve and this week we’re indulging in a little Hallowed Destiny by Candace Blevins…
I parked at a diner just outside the Chickamauga Battlefield and pulled my bicycle out of the back of my SUV. I made sure my phone was in one pocket, pepper spray in another, and felt my exercise bra to be sure my dad’s two-hundred-dollar flashlight was still secure. I hadn’t told him I was borrowing it because I didn’t want to answer all the questions about why I needed it. As far as my family was concerned, I was spending the night with a friend and staying in where it was safe.
A year ago tonight — Halloween — I’d been abducted by sick demon worshipers, and would’ve been killed by them as a human sacrifice had I not found a way to escape. They carved symbols into my flesh, and I’d forever have to wear bangs to hide the scars on my forehead.
On my eighteenth birthday two weeks ago, I’d had the first part of an extensive tattoo started on my chest. I planned to cover the horrible, evil scars with something beautiful, but it’d take a while.
Dread pooled in my stomach as I pedaled my way toward the spot I’d been staked to the ground. They’d stripped me naked and spread me out so it was impossible to hide any part of myself from them. They apparently wanted a virgin to kill in offering to whatever sick deity they worship.
To keep it from happening again, I’d planned to have sex with the first person who came along afterwards, but it hadn’t worked out. The asshole I’d been dating — the one who’d claimed to be a good Christian boy — broke up with me two days later because he was afraid the marks on my skin made me evil.
Much to my parents’ chagrin, I’d turned my back on the church and started dating the star quarterback at the local high school — with every intention of giving myself to him at the first opportunity. He lived two doors down so it hadn’t been too hard to sneak and see him when I told them I was going for a bike ride.
Unfortunately, I’d freaked and started crying when he got my panties off, and he’d told me I was too high maintenance.
So a year later I was still a damned virgin, and may end up staying that way. Those fuckers had messed me up in the head, and when the quarterback had undressed me, the only thoughts in my head were how I’d felt when my kidnappers had stripped me and staked me spread eagle on the ground.
My pastor’s wife told me I needed to find a way to put this behind me — to close the door on it and look forward. I wasn’t sure how to do that but figured going back to the scene of the crime on Halloween night was a good start. I’d researched the area on Google Earth and found what I hoped was the best spot to ride my bike into the woods. I looked all around to be sure no cars were near, and flicked my bike’s headlight off as I veered into the pitch dark of the forest.
I stopped a few yards in because I couldn’t see anything, and I planted my feet on either side of my bike and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark. My heart raced and my pulse thundered in my ears, but I assured myself no one else could hear it.
Several long minutes later, I thought I might be able to pick out the trees, but not well enough to walk, much less ride. I propped my bike on a tree with a sigh, and turned the flashlight onto the lowest setting. I hadn’t planned to use it at all this close to the road, but it didn’t look like I had a choice.
Each step forward took every bit of willpower I possessed. I wanted to turn and run back to the road, but I just knew I’d never move past this unless I could face my fears. If I could walk into the woods on Halloween and stand in the spot I’d fought my abductors, perhaps I’d be brave enough to have sex with someone and finally lose my pesky virginity.
I counted fifty steps before I turned the flashlight a little brighter, and I pulled my phone from my pocket and re-engaged the directions to the GPS coordinates I’d chosen. I hoped the location I’d found on the map would get me close enough so I’d be able to find the spot once I was nearby.
I had crazy dreams about it. It often felt more like I’d been rescued, but I also kind of vaguely remembered getting an arm free and grabbing the knife from one of the men and then going to town on my kidnappers as I cut myself free. But then there was the dream where a woman levitated me up to sit on a tree branch while monsters fought monsters. Were there good monsters? Some of them looked half-human and half-animal, truly grotesque… and yet in my dreams they fought the evil men who’d abducted me.
I had less than a quarter mile to walk, but it felt like I walked miles in the dark — carefully placing each foot and listening for sounds of anything larger than a possum.
When I finally arrived at the GPS spot, I turned my dad’s flashlight to full strength — all twenty-eight hundred lumens.
And was shocked to see a white lion sitting fifty yards away.
I couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. My feet were cemented to the ground as the lion looked down and away as the too-bright light must’ve hurt his eyes.
Two seconds later he turned and gracefully leapt through the air, and within seconds he’d run off to the side and out of the beam. I turned the light in every direction but couldn’t find him again. Had I hallucinated him? Lions are not indigenous to Tennessee.
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