I’ve had a couple questions about the new story I’m working on Shadowcast. Shadowcast is the prequel to Awakening. It’s set in the 1920’s. Here’s the deal about the book–I signed a contract for the Dark Rituals with FFFDig, but this next story is mine to do with what I wish, so I decided to post it on Wattpad as I’m working on it. I have the first three Wattpad chapters up with more to come hopefully every week. You can check it out ere…. https://www.wattpad.com/story/73618184-shadowcast-the-dark-past
P.s. If you haven’t read Awakening yet you can read the whole story on Wattpad until 8/15/2016 https://www.wattpad.com/story/5529034-awakening-the-dark-rituals-book-1-wattpad-featured
First chapter of ShadowCast for you to check out….this is a work in progress (not the fully edited and polished version)
Shadowcast by Catrina Burgess
The year is 1925
Sophie wandered the darkened house, like a ghost moving through someone else’s home. A flash of lightning threw twisting shadows across the room and through her already charged nerves. She tried to shake off the anxiety that thunderstorms always caused her. Please god, don’t ever let me see the dead. The thought of her mother’s spirit suddenly appearing sent a violent shudder through her. She jerked her head as she caught a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye. She forced herself to turn and look into a dark corner. There was nothing there. There was no one here; she was alone in the parlor.
Sophie moved in a small island of flickering candlelight and looked down at the goosebumps covering the exposed skin on her forearms. This nightgown used to cover her arms all the way to her wrists, but she had outgrown it. She looked up and caught her flickering reflection in the mirror. The girl looking back at her was no longer a little girl; she was becoming a young woman. At fifteen, her forehead was too broad, the lines of her face too sharp, to angular, to ever be considered beautiful. Her Scottish heritage was evident in the pale skin and long dark curly hair kissed with auburn highlights. It was her eyes that drew the most comments. Large green eyes brimmed with thick dark lashes. Cat eyes, her father called them. Eyes that seemed to change color with her mood. They were sometimes green, other times they held a hint of blue, and when she was angry they glowed until they became almost silver.
If eyes were the window to your soul, what did people see when they looked into hers, she wondered. She had seen too much, been through too much hardship in her fifteen years, and yet the eyes staring back at her weren’t full of hatred for the world. They didn’t have a hard edge, somehow they still held a certain innocence, a naivete.
She looked away, embarrassed. Her fingers picked at a hole on the edge of the sleeve. She looked down at the torn material. She would try to mend it, yet again. There was never enough money to buy new clothes, often barely enough money to keep a roof over their heads.
The wood floor creaked. Her head shot up. She could have sworn another shadow moved. The candles threw shadows against the walls and made her imagination run wild. Her gaze swung around the room. A circular table sat in the middle of the room perched on top of a Persian rug. An ornately decorated mirror hung on one wall, so massive it almost covered it entirely. Thick black drapes surrounded the bay windows and on the other wall hung a strange, and slightly unsettling tribal mask. At first glance, it looked like some type of deer or antelope, but on closer inspection the mask took on a more human shape. The horns that jutted out from the top become devilish in nature. She wondered, not for the first time, where her father had gotten the mask. Probably bought it off some foreign sailor down at the docks. She knew he walked down there late at night. He roamed the streets nowadays from dusk to dawn. Her father would be home soon. He seldom slept. He barely ate. Three weeks ago, when they buried her mother, all life, all reason had left her father’s eyes. He was a shell of a man with only one purpose left — to contact his beloved Rose.
She looked around at his room he had created. The dark shadows, the black drapes, the devilish mask — it was all there to cultivate a certain environment. One that was more conducive to the spirit world. That’s what he would say if you asked him. But she knew the truth. It was what the clients expected. What they paid for. A certain amount of chills and thrills that went along with every séance.
Some of them came for pure entertainment. But there were many that showed up with hearts full of sorrow. With a desperate need, a soul-wrenching desire, to see a lost loved one. And those were the ones Sophie felt sorry for. The fact that her father was now one of them filled her with deep sadness and confusion. Her father was making the rounds on the séance circuit. He had sat with no less than five psychics in the last two weeks. When she first heard the news she had been incredulous. When she confronted him, he calmly explained to her that he needed their counseling, their help in finding his beloved Rose. He was frantic to get word from Rose from the other side of the river — the afterlife.
She could no longer deny it — a man who had spent a lifetime pretending to speak to the dead now thought he actually could. Sophie wasn’t sure how or when her father’s mind had snapped. But it had, and she had to face the truth — sometime after her mother’s death her father made the transformation from con artist into one of the marks.
There was a loud bang at the bay windows. Sophie spun around. She could make out the tree branch knocking against the glass panes. The wind had picked up outside. The storm’s fury was increasing. All day dark clouds had hung threatening overhead in the sky. Another bang, followed by the sound of rain pelting against the roof.
Sophie made her way to a side table and carefully lifted an ornate silver candle holder filled with a lit red candlestick. She raised the candle high into the air and made her way down the hallway and into the dark kitchen. No candles burned in the kitchen. It was odd being in here at night when things were quiet and calm. Gone were the normal hustle and bustle, the frantic activity and hurried voices that normally filled this room in the daytime. A cook and a kitchen maid used this space to create lavish cakes and tarts each day.
You can’t charge them a small fortune and not give them something to gobble down, her father was fond of saying.
He did that, charged the rich a small fortune to talk to their departed. People so desperate to hear any word from those loved ones on the other side they would shell out money to partake in one of her father’s famous séances.
She walked over and opened the back door. She stood in the doorway and sighed out loud as raindrops splashed against her face.
She could leave. Walk out the door and head off in search of her mother’s people. It was something she daydreamed about ever since her mother’s death. But guilt filled her, as it always did, at the thought. She couldn’t leave her father. She had made a promise to her mother, on her deathbed, that she wouldn’t abandon him. It was not an easy promise to keep — Colin Campbell was not an easy man to live with. Her father was incapable of showing any real feelings or affection. He could put it on, fake at emotion when he needed to. During séances, he became a man full of empathy and passion, at least that’s what the marks always saw, but what they saw was just an act, put on by a gifted actor. A gifted con artist. When the séances were over, and the marks had gone home, her father would retreat back to his true self — a man who seldom talked and hardly ever smiled. Someone who spent most of his time alone in his bedroom with a whiskey bottle. A man who seemed to have little time or energy for his family.
When her mother was alive, she had always made excuses for him. Her mother would regale her with tales of a man full of laughter, full of life. But that man had disappeared when Sophie was born. No matter what her mother said Sophie had always known the truth — her father didn’t love her. At least not in the way most fathers loved their children. There were no fatherly hugs, no kisses on the cheek, no stories read at bedtime. Her father never took her to play at the park. He treated her more as a nuisance.
The desire to leave and be free was so strong she could almost hear her mother’s voice on the wind calling out for her to run. To leave this place before it was too late. But she knew it was just her imagination.
Ever since her mother’s death Sophie would turn a corner and, for the briefest moment, she thought she could see her mother’s form standing down at the far end of the hallway. Or sometimes she could have sworn she could hear her mother calling out to her. But in her heart, she knew it was just the grief-filled hallucinations of a young girl who desperately missed her mother.
Sophie leaned forward and as she did a burst of wind blew out the candle flame, throwing her into utter darkness. She looked out into the ink black night. If the moon was out, it was now covered in thick storm clouds. A sudden movement caught her attention. Was there something standing at the back of the yard? A dark form, a dark shadow by the back fence? She stood, transfixed, staring at it. And then there was a murmur of sound carried on the wind. Sophie’s heart thumped hard in her chest. There it was again — a murmuring of voices as if there were people talking, just out of earshot. If she took a step, maybe two into the yard she might be able to hear what they were saying.
Every instinct inside her told her not to move forward, but she did. Almost as though she was no longer in charge of her limbs or her mind she found herself inching out into the darkness until she stood in the middle of the yard. The cool, wet grass beneath her bare feet, she stood staring at the back fence, her ears straining to try and make sense of the sounds she was hearing. Rain poured down from the sky, and before long her hair was plastered against her face, her nightgown was soaked. And yet she kept standing there in the rain. It wasn’t until she began to shiver that she seemed to catch herself and come back to her senses. She was standing in the rain getting soaked, for no good reason. There was nothing out there. It was all in her imagination. She had a wild imagination, one that her mother had teased her about, and her father now condoned her for.
She shook her head as if trying to clear her thoughts and her senses. There is nothing out here. She kept repeating the words over and over to herself as she made her way back inside the house.
Want to read more? I’m posting chapters as I get them done over on Wattpad – https://www.wattpad.com/story/73618184-shadowcast-the-dark-past