Read An Excerpt From The Sounding by Carrie Salo
Chapter 1 – Bonnie and Clyde
Clyde Parker was about to die.
He didn’t know it, but that did not matter. Knowing would not have changed it.
Clyde took another long pull on his beer, tossing his head back all the way so that the liquid drained right into his stomach. He still had another sixpack to finish. And he would finish it.
Roy’s foot was on the cooler, and Clyde kicked it off. “You’re always in the damn way,” he said in a heavy, sloppy voice, like his tongue and his lips were working too hard.
“And you’re always bitchin’,” Roy put his foot back on the cooler, but only after Clyde found his next drink. He knew personally how ugly Clyde could be with a bottle in one hand and the other closed in a fist.
They were silent then, except for the wet sighing of their lips on their bottles. Ashton Bay lapped quietly at the stony beach in front of them. The still water reflected the lights of the college campus; it looked like a large, black carpet with specks of lint had been rolled out before them.
“So what can we smash tonight?” Clyde put both arms on the back of the bench behind him, as though he had a girl on each side.
“We don’t want to keep the coach too busy,” Roy joked, but he leaned forward away from the big hands on the bench. “Or the cops,” the last part he muttered.
“You’re such a pussy, Roy. When it came to making tackles, you ran the other way, and when it comes to getting back at the son-of-a-bitch who cut you off the team, it’s the same shit.”
Roy snorted and squeezed his beer tighter.
“At least I was kicked off for drinking.” Clyde spat, and his sweaty brow furrowed in anger. “The old man must’ve been pissed as hell though,” he grunted. “How much do you think it was . . .five grand worth of football equipment we trashed last night?”
Roy didn’t answer. He could tell Clyde was beginning to rant. Maybe by the time he was done, he would be too drunk to make it off the bench.
“That’s what happens when you cut an All-American football champion for having a few beers. Not only do you lose the whole season, but it comes back to bite you in the ass. Shit man!” Clyde took one beefy arm off the bench and swiped Roy hard on the back. “That was some fun shit, destroying the team room. I really should try out for baseball. I sure as hell can swing a bat,” he laughed at his joke loudly, spittle flying out of his mouth like small satellites while his pupils rolled between broken blood vessels. Lately, even on the rare occasions when he was not either drunk or hung over, his eyes were always narrow and red. They reminded Roy of the eyes at his Aunt’s pig roast – after they were slowly cooked into greasy, red discs.
“I’ll show that asshole. I can do anything…” Clyde dragged his words as he noticed Roy’s silence. “What’s the matter Roy? Still worried the cops will come and haul your ass to jail?” Clyde whimpered at him mockingly.
No, I’m thinking about how damn ugly you are. Roy remained silent.
“Are you sweating it, worried you’ll see your face on a wanted ad tomorrow? ‘Roy and Clyde, fugitives of the law,’” Clyde laughed turning his head for a mock mug shot. “You’re such a chicken shit Roy, they’d have to change the poster so people would recognize you. More like Bonnie and Clyde, since you’re such a woman.”
“Goodnight, Clyde,” Roy got up off the bench, tossed his empty on the ground, and started to walk back to campus.
But even drunk, Clyde was very fast. With three large, fumbled steps, he easily blocked Roy’s path.
“Clyde . . .” Roy started to speak, but Clyde pushed him hard towards the bench, sending his arms pin-wheeling. Then Clyde was leaning over him, using all his height and weight, menacing like a charging bull with his head down and shoulders out. Roy braced himself for the second hit, his hands up defensively. “Clyde!”
“Shhhh . . .” Clyde suddenly put a finger to his lips. His eyes lit up in a hungry sort of way, looking over Roy’s shoulder.
Roy followed his gaze and saw the girl on the campus walkway at the top of the hill, one strap from her bag slung over her shoulder. Her hair glistened orange in the glow of the lamppost, and she walked with a slight swing, making the shadows move rhythmically around her. She was looking down at her feet, lost deep in thought; or maybe she already saw them, and was trying not to make eye contact.
“Well, here comes something nice,” Clyde tried unsuccessfully to keep his voice low. “Come on,” he moved up the hill towards the walkway.
“What?” Roy watched him with bleary eyes for a few moments, and then followed. “Clyde, let’s not–”
“Very nice,” Clyde said louder, meaning for her to hear this time. The girl looked up, scanning the shadows, definitely seeing them now. Her rhythmic walk turned stiff, like a person who has seen an angry dog and wants to run, but knows better. Clyde reached the walkway a few yards ahead of her. She gave a wary smile as she came to a halt, trying to feel out a threat or a joke.
“Hey baby. Where you headed?” Clyde took another step.
Her eyes narrowed, then moved side to side, as if she were trying to read something. Roy guessed she was trying to decide – were they just drunk and harmless, or if not harmless, were they at least too intoxicated to catch her if she ran? Roy decided for her and shook his head slightly in her direction, encouraging her backwards. Clyde is not harmless. And you had better be fast.
But she did not turn back. Lowering her head as if walking into a wind, she came quickly, holding her bag tight enough to make her knuckles show whitely.
“Don’t be that way.” Clyde cooed and moved into the center of the walkway. He spread his legs wide enough to bridge it edge to edge. “We’re not making you nervous are we?”
Don’t stop. Just go around us like we’re not here, Roy coached silently.
“Of course not,” the girl replied loudly, her sneakers whispering as she moved with short, rapid strides off the walkway and onto the grass.
Don’t talk to him – just keep going.
“You should come back to my place,” Clyde said darkly as she sidestepped him, and he leaned down towards her face as if to kiss her.
She smelled his sour breath and saw the stubble on his chin, the way his teeth looked slimy and his lips too full. “You’re disgusting,” she hissed as she turned her face away and moved past him.
Shit. Roy watched Clyde’s face contort with anger.
Clyde kicked out his foot, catching the girl’s ankle midair. She began to fall forward, catching herself for just a second on the very edge of the
walkway. But a quick shove from Clyde brought her all the way down hard. Her one free hand smacked against the cement, followed by the side of her
cheek, and her bag dumped around her. For a moment, there was only the sound of pencils rolling.
“See now. You should’ve just said . . . excuse me. Maybe then . . . I would’ve let you by,” Clyde’s breath came in gasps, as though he had been
running. “Hurry and grab her,” he said, already grasping one arm tightly.
“Clyde . . . Clyde, come on man. Let’s just help her get her bag, and get the hell out of here,” Roy’s voice cracked. The girl was moving, but there
was a small smear of blood on the walkway where her face had been. Roy was afraid for her.
“Do you want someone to see her?” Clyde’s voice held a high note of panic. He began to haul her back towards the beach. “COME ON BONNIE! HELP ME GET HER THE FUCK OUT OF THE LIGHT!”
The noise of Clyde’s words jumpstarted him, and Roy ran to the other side of the girl, trying to help her gain her feet, stumbling to keep up with
Clyde’s strides. Why doesn’t she scream? Roy thought, feeling the urge rising in himself as they drew away from the light on the down-sloping hill.
They were almost to the water when the girl found her legs, locking them and dragging her feet awkwardly. She tossed her head back, and Roy
saw the blood black on her lips and chin, strands of her hair stuck to it.
She met his gaze with horribly wide eyes, and said coolly, “Let me go.”
The calm, icy tone made even Clyde hesitate, and Roy released on command. There was still fear in the defensive posture she held, her free arm
out and in a fist. But there was something else too. Roy looked nervously for someone in the darkness. It seemed she wasn’t afraid of them, but of
something else altogether.
“Now,” she commanded.
“SHIT!” Clyde screamed, and then hissed out a high-pitched tone Roy would have sworn his voice was not capable of.
“What the hell?” Roy cursed confused. “What is wrong with you? We need to just take her back–”
“She burned me,” Clyde howled, and his voice was tight with pain.
“Shhh . . .” Roy’s whisper shook. “Someone is going to come and–”
But Clyde grabbed the girl by her shirt and, with one immense, open hand, hit her across the cheek with a force that made Roy nauseated. He felt a
spray of wetness on his bare arms and face, and he knew it was the girl’s blood, maybe from her nose or mouth, or both.
“Stupid bitch,” Clyde spewed. “Do you know who I am?
Incredibly, she still stood, leaning on her knees and wheezing, perhaps between broken teeth. “Clyde. That’s enough,” Roy pleaded. But Clyde had
grabbed her again.
“Disgusting, right? Do you have any idea who the fuck I am?”
The girl pulled her body straight and then seemed to wait, breathing with her mouth open as Clyde pulled his arm back to hit her.
Clyde’s hand became limp in the air, and he squinted at the girl, pausing indefinitely.
Her eyes were glowing at him with a strange, blond light.
Was she wearing glasses, which were somehow catching the lamppost light just right? How drunk was he? He moved his face closer to hers, straining. From the rims to the eyelids, he could see nothing except light: no pupil, no iris, no veins or color, just a horrible shining. His confused mind
tried to remember something about the science of fireflies.
In perfect mimicry, the girl grabbed Clyde by the shirt and then raised her hand so quickly, Roy hardly saw her move. There was an awful tearing noise as her open palm connected with Clyde’s face. He fell away from her heavily, and rolled several times down the hill and stopped on his back, quiet.
The girl turned and rose up on her toes, ready to run. Roy could see her entire body shaking even in the dark.
“Holy shit! Are you o–” Roy touched her wrist, and then he felt it: a prickling like he had been lying on his arm all night without moving. His
fingers stiffened and he found he could not release her even as the sensation crept up his arm and neck to his face. She burned me, echoed in his head, but he wasn’t sure where the words came from anymore. The girl’s figure waved in front of him, as though he were looking at her through a funhouse mirror.
Her eyes glowed like two tiny penlights, and he was suddenly sure his body was no longer solid, that she melted his insides completely. Roy began to cry as his knees buckled. “Don’t let me tip over. I’ll spill out all over everything.”
She let him fall before she ran.
And then Roy was on the ground watching neon flashes fade from his vision. They were still there even when he closed his eyes, and he felt like he
had been looking at the sun too long. He was entirely exhausted. He turned so that his cheek rested on the cool grass. Clyde was there on his right,
looking up at the stars and unmoving.
“Clyde?” Roy’s voice sounded cottony and he swallowed trying to find enough saliva to wet his tongue. He rolled to his side, then onto his elbows,
and inched over to the still form. It was excruciating to move. “Clyde?” he whispered, pulling himself up as high on his elbows as he could.
At first, he couldn’t make out what he was seeing in the dark. It looked like Clyde’s face had been painted in tar and was still shiny in places where it was not yet dry.
Then he realized Clyde did not have a face at all; only a soupy mess of skin and cartilage where his features used to be.
“No . . . no, no, no.” Roy whipped his head back and began moving away. Once he started screaming, he did not stop.
Synopsis: In the Book of Revelation, a man named John has a prophetic dream. He dreams of the final prophecies that will come to pass – and the seven archangels that guard them. Each angel waits to sound their trumpet at God’s appointed time, preparing humanity to fight and win the final battle.
2,000 years later, Father Chris Mognahan is a member of the Hetairia Melchizedek, a secret society within the Catholic Church that studies Biblical omens. The society asks Chris to investigate an unusually grotesque crime – a murder on a college campus where the killer’s hand literally burned off the victim’s face.
While the killing seems isolated at first, the society ties the murder to the final Biblical prophecy and a terrifying omen that the order of the prophecies is about to be disrupted. The final battle is coming too soon – long before humanity is prepared to win it.
Suddenly, Chris finds himself fighting against time and hell to keep the prophecies in order and stop an early Armageddon. He is joined by a band of unlikely allies, and together they find themselves in Rome above the Vatican Necropolis – the city of the dead – where the future is revealed to them in ancient texts.
They are not alone, however; an evil as old as time itself hunts them. As they travel across continents on their mission, the demonic force follows relentlessly, waiting in every shadowed corner, and every dark place.
As Armageddon descends, Father Chris finds that his only hope lies in a young woman within the group who has a secret gift – and their belief that God Himself may have sent her to keep the final angelic trumpet from sounding out the early end of the Earth.
About The Author:
Carrie Salo is a dark storyteller and emerging author of supernatural thrillers. Classically trained at an Ivy League university, she studied the works of master storytellers seven stories underground in the muffled heart of one of the world’s largest libraries. Carrie looks to wield unrelenting suspense in her own exploration of all things (especially true things) that keep us awake at night. Her extensive travels have led her to many haunted places, including the private, underground catacombs of the Vatican. The Sounding is her debut novel.
Visit her at: www.carriesalo.com