ForNevermore Part 1

Serialized Fiction

All Noella ever wanted was a normal life.

But normal died with her mother, minutes after she was born. And again when her father was murdered before her eyes on her seventh birthday. It was as though true love could never touch her.

Now Noella lives with her aunt in Aurora Falls, a sleepy town in upstate New York where she spends school days hiding from the people who torment her, and weekends working at a coffee shop in quiet misery, harboring a secret crush on her best friend, Sam.

Noella’s only happiness comes when she closes her eyes and visits her dream world, a place where her father still lives, and she’s in love with a mysterious man named Dante, a stranger with a pure heart and death in his fingers.

Noella never imagined the dream world was real, buried within our own. Until her dreams, and nightmares, started spilling into her waking life, alongside a series of grisly murders.

Just when she thinks she’s losing her mind, Dante appears with a dire warning: Noella is not who, or what, she believes. Nothing is what it seems, and she is in mortal danger.

Dante has been searching for Noella for all his lives.

He has loved her nearly as long.

But if he touches her, she will die.

Death isn’t done with Noella. Dreams crash into reality in a paranormal dark fantasy of love, fate, horror, and secrets which threaten to unravel Noella, and everything around her.

Can they survive the evil that haunts them or are they doomed to be ForNevermore?

Fornevermore Part 1 A Dark Fantasy

::EPISODE 1:: CHAPTER ONE

Aurora Falls, New York

Friday, October 26

9:50 p.m.

On the short list of things worse than what had already happened to Noella Snow today, being murdered was definitely one of them.

It was her 17th birthday, and was officially her worst birthday in 10 years. Considering what happened on her 7th birthday, that was saying a lot.

She was working the counter at Keefer’s Koffee, Aurora Falls’ pathetic excuse for an echo of Starbucks, and wondering why she’d even agreed to cover Tammy’s shift. She looked at the clock for the hundredth time. Ten minutes until closing. It seemed as if the clock was conspiring to keep her from the bed she couldn’t wait to fall into, where she could pull the covers over herself, and try to forget this day ever happened.

Noella was wrapping unsold brownies in thin sheets of ice blue cellophane so they’d be “fresh” for the morning rush, while ignoring the urge to shove one, or five, in her mouth. Sure, it would dull the day’s pain . . . for a few minutes. But once she swallowed, the dull ache would return, stronger, accompanied by her old friend guilt.

Treat yourself, it’s your birthday, girl.

It was her birthday, and she had grown into a slim young woman, but neither changed a childhood of name-calling, with barbs such as Thunder Thighs, Chunky Monkey, and Patti Fatty, crushing trust and reducing her confidence to crumbs.

Noella slid the tray of brownies into the cooler with a decisive shove, just as the front door dinged and split the silence of the nearly empty coffee shop. She looked up, and felt a cold snake of terror slither across her shoulders, then down her spine.

Noella wasn’t sure how she knew, whether it was the voices she’d taken pills to silence, or a hunch, but she knew for certain that death had entered Keefer’s.

The weird thing was that guy didn’t look dangerous.

He was young and handsome, even in soft wash jeans and a moody-looking leather jacket. His blue New York Mets hat and thick mop of brown hair made him look like any one of the hundreds of guys who came into the coffee shop. But there was something in his eyes that bled into Noella’s, something that said:

He is here to kill me.

Diner

Most nights there were at least four or five people scattered among the 10 booths peppering the front arc of Keefer’s. They usually lingered around, hooked to the Wi-Fi, and taking a million years to leave, keeping Noella from closing and getting on with what little life she had. Tonight, of course, the place was tumbleweeds. She hadn’t had a customer in 15 minutes, punctuating both the loneliness of her birthday, and her new vulnerability.

Tony, the shift manager, was out back taking the evening’s trash to the dumpster, though Noella knew he was really just sucking down yet another cigarette. Tony smoked more minutes than he worked, making him a generally useless co-worker.

Useless or not, I could really use him right now.

“Welcome to Keefer’s,” she said, trying not to sound nervous. “What can I get you?”

Mets Hat said nothing as he drifted toward the counter, his eyes studying the menu on the wall above and behind her as if he were trying to figure out a menu written in Swahili.

But his eyes weren’t really reading the menu. They were reading Noella.

That wasn’t uncommon. Though Noella considered herself plain, that didn’t stop any number of creepy guys from coming in, undressing her with their eyes, and worse. Sometimes they’d comment on the faint heart-shaped birthmark on her left cheek, as if they were the first in the world to notice it, and wanted a medal for coming up with some lame come-on line involving hearts.

Perverts were everywhere, and Noella had more or less learned to ignore the bore of their gazes. But this guy wasn’t a pervert. Or at least just a pervert. This guy was terror on two legs.

Noella’s mind flashed to the recent reports which lit the maudlin smiles of every local TV news anchor for the past several months — 12 murdered or missing girls in the last half year. Unsolved crimes with no suspects or clue what the killer looked like. Another chill shot through her core and something whispered in her mind.

He looks like this guy right here.

Noella scanned the counter looking for anything she could use as a weapon. Her eyes settled on the closed drawer where she’d set the knives they used to slice bagels and sandwiches.

Hurry up, Tony!

Noella was aware of the murders, as it was impossible to live in the town and not be. This was upstate New York, not exactly a hotbed of crime, let alone serial murders, so corpses left in the streets tended to attract attention. Hardly a day went by in the shop where someone wasn’t talking about their connection, no matter how tangential, to one of the victims. But the murders weren’t anything Noella gave particular attention to, or worried about. Until now.

Mets Hat stood silently in front of her, hands in his jacket and anxiety all over his face. The longer he stood there, staring, the more convinced she became that she was staring at the serial killer everyone was looking for.

Where in the hell are you, Tony? It doesn’t take that long to smoke a cigarette!

Noella wanted to flee, turn and run as fast as she could, out the back door without so much as a glance behind. But she felt foolish. Her logical side – the side the pills made stronger – whispered: He’s just weird, not a murderer at all. Also, serial killers aren’t usually cute, are they?

If Noella ran from the store, she may as well draw another bull’s-eye on her head. She didn’t need to give the kids at her school yet another reason to make fun of her. And certainly word would get back to them if she ran out of the shop like a crazy person. So she stayed put, praying to whoever might listen that Tony would return and calm the crumbling walls of resolve around her. She glanced back through the door behind her, and into the storage room where the exit door was propped open.

No sign of Tony, yet.

Come on, man. You smoking the whole pack?

Noella’s leg began to shake. She had to pee.

“Find anything you like?” she asked.

The man’s eyes looked past her, toward the back room. The side of her brain that the pills couldn’t calm began its chatter again.

This is it. He’s got a gun in his pocket. 

Mets Hat turned his head in an odd way, as if he’d heard the voices in her head. Their eyes met again, and the hair on her arms went angry and standing. Noella glanced at the closed drawer with the knives, then down at the panic button on the floor, maybe four feet away,  trying to decide which she should run to first. The knife would help her immediately, if she were able to defend herself. But the button could bring the police, and their guns, eventually.

He stared at her as though he could read the conversation in her mind and feel the weight of her decision. His eyes went narrow, and Noella felt a sudden tear inside her mind. A violation. She wondered if he was really inside her head, or if it was only the side of her mind that never went quiet or stopped playing tricks.

His eyes lit up in a manic glee, which eerily echoed that in the eyes of the man who killed her father 10 years ago tonight. You don’t forget those details, no matter how hard you try.

This is it.

He pulled the gun from his pocket before Noella could reach the panic button.

She screamed as her foot stomped down on the button, anyway.

“Shut up and give me all the money in your register!” he yelled, pulling a thin canvas bag from inside his jacket, and throwing it into her arms.

Noella stared at the bag, her mind reeling as a fog of terror swallowed her ability to move.

“Open the register!” the man growled, thrusting the gun inches from her face.

Oh God, he’s not even wearing a mask!  He’s gonna shoot me so there are no witnesses.

Noella stood, frozen to the spot.

Move, move, move, just do what he says!

But she couldn’t. And she became certain that in her fear of doing anything which would get her shot, he would become frustrated enough to pull the trigger.

“Now!” the man screamed again, and Noella jumped.

Just stay calm, give him what he wants, and hopefully he will leave.

Tony’s voice called from the back, surprising both her and the robber.

“Did you say something?” Tony asked as he stepped from the back room, reeking of smoke, pulling white earbuds from his ears. Tony’s eyes widened in shock, bouncing from the gun to Noella, then back.

He turned, and made it one hastened pace toward the back room before Mets Hat pulled the trigger and shot Tony in the back of the head. The gunshot thundered through the coffee shop and pierced Noella’s ears. She cried out, holding her hands over her ears, staring at Tony as he stumbled a few steps, then made a final sideways shuffle. He dropped, face cracking ceramic in a bloody crunch.

Noella cried out, her voice and breath threatening to leave her.

She stared at Tony’s dead body, and flashed back a decade, seeing her father die in front of her.

No, no, no.

She turned to Mets Hat, tears in her eyes. “Please don’t kill me,” she begged.

He looked more surprised than Noella. She had expected him to pull the trigger since she first saw death in his eyes. He obviously hadn’t been planning to . . . until now.

He opened his mouth but said nothing. The death in his eyes retreated, leaving behind a broken shell of emotion. “Oh my God . . . What did I do?”

His eyes darted back and forth, panicked, trying to figure out what he was going to do now. He just killed a man. And now he had to determine whether to flee or take care of the only witness. Noella was frozen, not daring an inch, for fear of spooking Death to take another shot.

He’s going to kill you.

You saw his face. You saw him kill someone. He can’t let you live.

Their eyes locked, and he looked down at the gun in his hand. “I’m sorry,” he said, raising the gun to her head.

 

TO BE CONTINUED … 

Tomorrow at 8PM EST

About David Wright

Dave is the co-founder of Collective Inkwell, in which he and Sean Platt re-invented serial fiction. Hailing from the quaint town of [REDACTED], Dave's renown for putting children in jeopardy (in his fiction, anyway) has made him world famous.

Comments

  1. :-O

    Great start 😀
    *runs off to part 2*

  2. Good stuff.

  3. David Wright says:

    Thanks, Anita and Carl! Glad you’re enjoying it.

  4. Oh my god, why haven’t I read this before? Perfect shocker for an opening scene! I’m hooked so hard I didn’t even want to leave this comment before leaping to the next one.

  5. Mark Messick says:

    This is awesome.

    It kept me guessing, and has me totally engaged…

    And it’s only Part I!

  6. Mary Jo McFalls says:

    Just simply awesome….you got me hook line and sinker! I am one who is easily distracted, squirrel! I am just wondering how I will focus at work, while thinking about getting back to the next chapter to experience more spine tingling literary theatrics!

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