by Shari Arnold
Publication date: October 16th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Normal is so overrated. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Kate Triumph tells herself everyday. But the truth is she lives in constant fear that someone will discover how not normal she really is. With her startling speed and her unusual ability to heal, Kate believes she’s something of a freak.
Then Andrew Shore arrives.
He claims he’s her father, sticks around for a few days and leaves her a plane ticket. “Come to Mercer Island,” he says. “Give me a chance to get to know you.” Soon Kate is floundering in a world of new: new address, new car, new high school and, of course, new father. Not to mention Zack, her intriguing new neighbor, who makes her want to abandon her steadfast rule of never allowing anyone to get too close. But when she discovers someone is trying to kill her, life for Kate gets a bit more complicated. And a lot less normal.
I’m not used to the wetness of the road, the slick gravel under my feet. I concentrate on the neighborhood around me, memorizing each street sign I pass so I can find my way back to Andrew’s house. But soon the fog moves in, swallowing first the houses and then each and every last street sign. It closes in on me like a cocoon of white and my chest tightens with alarm.
I have no idea where I am. Or how to get home.
I pull my cell phone out of my pocket but it’s dead. I forgot to charge it last night.
I’m cursing my stupidity when just off in the distance I hear it.
I turn around and wait for a figure to arrive — hopefully someone who might know where Andrew lives — but the footsteps stop.
All I can hear is my breathing and a bird chirping somewhere in the neighborhood.
I take a few more steps and when I hear them echo back I pause again.
Tiny tingles of unease trickle down my back but the fog continues to keep its secrets.
I wait for the footsteps to catch up, still convinced they’re helpful rather than dangerous. They’re moving slowly, almost hesitant, as they close the gap between us.
I have to admit as much as I want to see whoever is out there, the idea of someone breaking out of the fog so close to me kind of freaks me out.
I start walking faster this time, almost a jog, but with each step I take, the footsteps echo back twice. Finally, when our steps are in sync I stop and peer through the fog.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” I call out. I grip my arms around me, suddenly cold.
But no one answers me.
I imagined it. That’s the only explanation. I shake it off and start running again, my pace much slower than normal. Then I stop. Nothing. I take four more steps. Silence. A couple more. More silence.
I take a deep breath and relax. This was a stupid idea, running in fog. Next time I’ll know better.
Something sharp is poking my foot from inside my shoe and when I bend down to investigate I find a small white pebble has wedged itself between my shoe and sock. It only takes a second to dig it out and toss it into the road, but when I straighten up I hear it again.
Footsteps. Slow at first and then they quicken to a run.
Are these footsteps new? Or are they the same ones from before? I decide to wait it out before I start moving again.
A twig snaps directly behind me and then the footsteps stop.
I spin around. Nothing. No face, no motion in the fog.
I open my mouth to call out once more but something tells me to stay silent.
A low guttural laugh breaks through the fog directly behind my right ear and my heart stops altogether.
Shari Arnold grew up in California and Utah but now resides in Connecticut, with her husband and two kids, where she finds it difficult to trust a beach without waves. She writes Young Adult fiction because it's her favorite. And occasionally she takes photographs.