It’s officially Stolen‘s release day – it’s now available in eBook and paperback for your reading pleasure! The reviews on Goodreads so far have just been GLOWING. I’m just so thrilled!
We’re doing a Facebook Event all day long – complete with giveaways and discussions! Drop in for a bit and say hello.
To get you started, see below for the first scene from this YA Fantasy book, the first in a series. I hope you enjoy it!
Part I: Freefall
Chapter 1: An Embarrassment
didn’t think about how much concrete and steel stood over her head as she
stepped carefully down the decaying hallway of Ferris Factory. The building had
been abandoned for so long that the mildew and fungus ran rampant from the
moisture that crept down the crumbling walls, so a respirator was a
requirement. Ferris Factory was only two stories tall from the outside, but the
floors underground felt endless. The elevator shaft only went down three floors
when it had been operational; the rest of the floors could only be reached with
the stairs. She doubted any of it had been inspected by the fire marshal.
best friend, Kaeja, walked so close behind that she could feel her warm breath
on the back of her neck. The only sound that echoed up and down the hallway,
besides their footsteps, was the snap of Shaleigh’s camera. The photos were why
they risked their lives to explore dangerous places: to document the decrepit. It
was thrilling to explore a place that nobody else would see. Eventually all the
walls would fall, and Ferris Factory would decay into memory. Shaleigh and
Kaeja would have the only remaining proof it even existed, especially since it
was clear that nobody was supposed to know about this section of the factory.
rat skittered out of a heap of moldy paperwork and Kaeja took a deep breath
until it passed. “This is the worst one yet. By far.” Shaleigh grinned, though
her respirator concealed it. “Come on, we had to come back and take the stairs
down. We couldn’t just end it at the base of the elevator.”
you see that?” She swung the flashlight to the side. “I couldn’t even hang a
picture on that wall. Four floors down was enough, five floors is just begging
to get hurt.”
was right, the walls of the hallway curved inward like a bow string. Shaleigh
hadn’t noticed how bad it was until she mentioned it. “We’ll be quick.”
snapped as many photos as she could while Kaeja held the flashlight. It
illuminated a good portion of the hall, but the beam had little effect against the
thick, sick air. The light ought to have made the place more inviting, but it
only made the shadows darker. It was hard for Shaleigh to keep her hands steady
for the photos; fear and exhilaration kept combating within her. Sure, this
place was terrifying and could collapse at any moment, but the thought of
capturing a world that would never been seen again, of documenting the
forgotten before it disappeared, made her tap the shutter button of her camera
faster. “I wish we had more time. I’d love to look inside some of these
me,” Kaeja said, her eyes shadowed by the reflections of the flashlight on
her mask. “These halls are creepy enough, thanks.” The light flashed
across some metal scraps against the bowed wooden wall. It was hard to tell if
it had been left behind by the workers, or if it had fallen from the ceiling.
“Didn’t they used to make cars here?”
that’s it.” Shaleigh snorted as she tapped on a dirt-encrusted sign that
warned visitors that the hallway was a high security corridor. “Whatever
helps you sleep at night.”
an old building, but that doesn’t mean they were hiding anything down
what’s with the high security? They had to be doing something illegal down
here. The maps we found don’t even show these floors. I heard it used to be a
hospital,” Shaleigh glanced back to her with a smile. “Dad heard it from a
colleague at work. They used to keep dangerous people here.” Kaeja stared at
her, the beam from the flashlight in her hands trembling.
high-pitched squeal of metal echoed down through the insides of the building,
as though the entire structure was shifting under its own weight. The squeal
turned into a groan that shook the very floor beneath their feet. Both teens
froze, barely daring to breathe as debris fell from the ceiling. Seven levels
of exhausted steel, wood, and plaster shifted over their heads. They stood in
silence waiting for the walls to give way, waiting to be buried beneath the
rusty metal beams, discolored linoleum floors, and rat-infested insulation; but
the building remained steady.
noise stopped. Particles drifted in the air.
doesn’t sound very good, does it?” Shaleigh whispered.
don’t like it. I don’t care what you say, this is the lowest I’m going. Five levels
below ground is far enough.”
stifled a laugh, “That’s what you said when we found the stairs.”
high-pitched noise erupted down the hall causing both teens to jump. It didn’t
sound metallic…it didn’t sound like the building at all.
stared down the hallway with wide eyes. The noise broke into a whimper, and
then there was silence. It only lasted maybe a few seconds, but they both knew
what they had heard. Someone was down there with them.
turned to look behind them, but without the flashlight beam it was too dark to
see anything. “Was that—was that behind us?”
spun around, temporarily blinding Shaleigh in the process. “I don’t know.
I thought it came from in front of us.”
darkness felt like a cage all around them. The beam of the flashlight, darting
forwards and backwards down the hall, seemed so small and insignificant now.
Someone was in the darkness. Someone was watching them. Shaleigh stepped around
Kaeja and started back toward the stairwell. “We should go.”
grabbed her arm and Shaleigh could feel her clammy fingers through the sleeve
of her jacket. “Are you crazy? You said that’s where it came from.”
else are we going to get out of here?”
could give no argument and shook her head. “Shaleigh…” she
okay, we’ll do it together.” She put her camera around her neck and took
Kaeja’s hand. They walked slowly towards the door of the stairwell, side by
side, fingers clasped in a death grip.
a moment, Shaleigh thought she saw movement ahead of them and stopped. Kaeja must
have seen it too because she swept her flashlight left and right, searching for
whatever it was. Just before the beam of light reached one of the doors,
Shaleigh was certain she spotted a shadow move into one of the rooms.
Kaeja whispered giving their joined hands a tug. Shaleigh realized she had been
gripping too hard and loosened her hold but didn’t say a word. Her eyes were
fixed on where the shadow had been. As they drew closer, an arm stretched out,
hairy with long, black fingernails, and pulled the door closed. There was a
splash as though something heavy had fallen into a pool of water from behind
screamed. A bolt of adrenaline hit Shaleigh and she grabbed Kaeja’s arm.
Together they ran. As they passed the door, the knob began to turn with a creak.
She wasn’t sure if Kaeja had seen it or not. “Keep going!” she yelled,
all pretense of caution forgotten.
the stairwell came into view, they sped up. Shaleigh slipped on a wet spot and
her foot skidded. She would have sprained her ankle if she hadn’t grabbed for
the wall. What a stupid way to die,
she thought as she regained her footing. She had to keep her head straight,
because panicking in an old, decrepit building was a sure way to get hurt or killed
by whatever was after them. She forced them to slow down to climb over a pile
of broken boards and nails. Shaleigh had thought it odd to have it so close to
the stairwell when they’d first come down, but now she saw it as a marker, a
warning perhaps, to keep trespassers out. As she helped Kaeja down the opposite
side of the rubble, she heard limping footsteps approaching them.
coming!” Shaleigh cried and together they sprinted for the stairwell. The
flashlight bounced beams off the walls.
hit the metal door like a battering ram, shoving it into the rusted railings of
the stairs, causing it to reverberate like a gong up and down the concrete
shaft. Shaleigh gripped the metal rail, feeling the flecks of paint come off on
her hands, and the raw rust beneath. She exchanged a glance with Kaeja, both trying
to catch their breath. The respirator was humid with her breathing and she
couldn’t wait to rip it off when they got outside. She looked up the dark
stairwell above them and grimaced. There were too many floors between them and
gasped and reached out to grab Shaleigh’s arm. Shaleigh stared at her. She
thought she could make out footsteps from the hall they just left, but it was
so faint it was hard to make out. It could have just been the sounds of the
building, but she didn’t want to take any chances. Taking a deep breath,
Shaleigh led the way as they started up the stairs.
floor, two floors, three floors.
that the sound of the doorknob beneath them being turned? Kaeja hurried to her
side as they continued to climb. Both were audibly gasping now. It wouldn’t
take much for their pursuer to know where they went. Shaleigh’s thighs were
burning. She could sprint up a flight or two of stairs, but this was tough. It
didn’t help that she was already out of breath before they even started
if it’s locked us in?” Kaeja asked between sucking in gulps of air.
didn’t respond. She didn’t want to even consider that option.
climbed two more flights of stairs. Kaeja reached the door first. They both let
out a sigh of relief when the door opened. Panting, they jogged to the main exit,
a pair of massive iron doors that looked like they belonged in a mausoleum.
Neither of them said a word as they descended the short flight of broken steps
to the grass. Shaleigh ripped off her respirator, Kaeja did the same, and they
both exchanged grins as they crossed the grass-pocked concrete walkway. It felt
good to feel the heat of the day on her skin too. The sun was sinking in the
west, but the air was sweet with wild honeysuckle and a light breeze rustled
the old oaks. Shaleigh relaxed a bit but could tell by Kaeja’s expression that
she wouldn’t be able to relax until they had left the property completely.
concrete walkway fell away to tall grass that came up to their hips, as they
sidestepped small pine trees that were beginning to take over the lot and moved
further away from the building. The chain link fence that surrounded the
property sported multiple warning signs for trespassers, though they were faded
from exposure. Kaeja pulled back the corner of fencing they had used to get in,
and they both climbed through without saying a word. Kaeja paused, took a deep
breath, and relaxed her shoulders.
know you’ll hate to hear this, Kaeja,” Shaleigh started. “But I think
I’m done with Ferris Factory for a while.”
laughed. “No complaints here. I’m going to add that we never go
underground again either. I am not running up that many stairs again, no matter
how great you say the pictures will be.” Shaleigh couldn’t help but laugh.
The downtrodden path through the woods made it a short walk to reach the bus
stop. Shaleigh unwrapped the scarf from around her head and shook out her
twists. The breeze felt wonderful on her scalp. They dropped everything into
Shaleigh’s backpack as they walked. The main road was surprisingly empty for a
Sunday afternoon. After exploring inside of decomposing buildings for a while,
she had new respect for even the simplest things. The bench for the bus stop,
covered in graffiti and bearing a single broken board, looked like a luxury.
sprawled across the broken wooden bench and covered her eyes with her arms.
“Wow, what a rush!”
know!” Despite her smile, Shaleigh still glanced over her shoulder, as
though expecting the person from the building to be slinking toward them
through the woods. “What do you think it was?”
stared up into the sky. “Someone crazy, I’m sure. It’s a good thing they made
some noise. I don’t like the thought of them sneaking up on us like that.”
She sat up and patted the bench beside her.
obliged, her legs were still shaky. “Did you see that hand?”
shuddered, “Looked like he hadn’t seen the light of day in forever.”
She stretched her arms over the back of the bench. “This is exactly why I
don’t like the big ones. There are too many hiding places.”
small ones aren’t much better,” Shaleigh added. “Sometimes it feels
like a shot right out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you know?”
nodded and the two grew silent from their own nerves. Kaeja’s leg jumped up and
down, as though at any moment she would jump up into a sprint. Shaleigh kept
resisting the urge to look over her shoulder once more. The bus couldn’t come
I need to think about something else.” Kaeja said with a tense smile.
“You’ve got a party coming up tonight, don’t you? You get to get all
dolled up. I know you don’t like the people much, but I do envy you getting to
sighed. “I had almost forgotten about it.” She checked her watch. It was a
good thing they had left when they did because she still needed to get home and
clean up. “If you like it so much, you can totally go for me.”
dad would never let me. He needs you there.”
scooted closer and put an arm around her shoulders. “I’m sorry. I guess
that is pretty hard on you. Do they ask you a lot of questions about him?”
nodded. She hated the tight feeling she got in her chest whenever she thought
of those stupid parties. She hated the fact that she had to go. Why in the
world did Roseworth College have so many of them anyway? It was like they
wanted to torture her.
to change the subject, she picked up her camera from around her neck. After
checking to make sure nothing had been damaged in their mad dash, she asked,
“Want to see the pictures?”
nodded but looked concerned. Shaleigh ignored it.
brilliant light of the flash somehow made the dark halls of Ferris Factory less
frightening, less dangerous. If only people were so easy to strip of fear.
Pick up a copy of Stolen today to find out what happens next!