Cold air, chills me, I reach for my blanket but I’m not on my bed.
Where am I?
I know where I am.
Cautious and careful, I take a step across the rough stone floor, my bare feet scrape against the uneven stones. I clip and cut my big toe on a sliver of rock.
“Damn it!” Sticky and wet, I leave a trail of blood behind me as I take another step in the darkness, darkness that envelopes me. It’s not wonderful in this nothingness. I’m afraid of the unknown.
A breeze through my hair, a creak, a groan. I hear each and every sound, feel the fluctuation of the air as it moves. I jump.
Footsteps, distant off in the never where, click against the stone, slow and deliberate. They follow me, the owner of those footsteps observes me, even as I hide in the shadows. I quicken my pace, my toe stings, I stumble against the stone wall.
Curiosity steels through me. I glance in the darkness behind me, the urge is too strong to not know who’s chasing me. My eyes play tricks on me because I think I see a figure floating between the dark spaces.
What is that?
Whatever it is it observes me without hiding from me. His gaze bores through me leaving me empty.
My fingers find the wall and graze the uneven, chipped stones. It’s how I see in the penetrating darkness when my eyes fail me. I feel the edge of the wall and turn right like I’ve done before. I know this hallway.
I feel for the door, for the cool steel against my fingers. It’s closer than it was before. I found the door.
“Gracie, you’re an empath,” Alden sneers.
A white mist drifts up covering me, smothering me. “You’re special, Gracie. Your mom will be so proud. Jake and Shay will have to respect you…” the voice hisses in my ear.
The fog undulates and dances, twirling around me. He knows about Jake and Shay. He knows when mom gets home. I drown in his mist and my head spins as it wraps and squeezes me. I need to get away from him, before he hurts me.
“Gracie help me!” The girl’s scream pierces the darkness; I feel her fear, her stress and her pain. The mist constricts me; I can’t breathe. “Gracie, please help me!” Her small scared voice sears my brain, but I have to get away from him.
“NO!” I scream and wiggle from the mist, before it swallows me. I run! I run as though I’m running forever, before I jump into nothingness. But I don’t fall. I’m not sucked into oblivion. I fly.
Excerpt from Gracie Madison Feels the World by Sheryl Steines, coming Summer, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, I submitted hundreds, of hundreds of hundreds of resumes (I'm not kidding) to companies hiring writers, copywriters, editors, and proofreaders. I didn't have hundreds of interviews.
I ended up getting a job as a customer service rep, probably the worse job in the world. Plan B was to work as a technical/business writer until I wrote THAT book.
As always, life got away from me and twenty years of struggle to work as a writer, I found myself at my 20th class reunion not where I expected to be.
It's where I sat at Joy's table with her and her friends. Not really friends but we knew each other and it was fun to catch up. Until…
Until I learned that Joy was a published author. I was jealous. Green with envy, so much so it hurt. So much so it made me rethink that goal I had at seven years old, I wanted to be a published author.
And this is where Gracie Madison comes into play. I retold that story to Joy through Facebook several years ago. She joked that I should name a character after her.
I could have done the easiest thing and named my main character Joy. I could have, but I didn't. I thought about the type of book I wanted to write and Gracie Madison was born. I know I didn't name her after Joy but I did…hehe…
Gracie Madison Feels the World, a story about a teenager with exceptional powers, the powers of empathy, specifically, she's the Empath of Joy.
So thank you Joy Meredith for living out your dreams and making me so jealous, I had no choice but to work on mine.
Gracie Madison out, Summer 2016.
Thanks for the gorgeous cover art by: Mallory Rock. Malloryrock.com