Excerpt: EYE OF THE STORM

new eye“Daddy?” M.K.  whimpered through the phone, her voice choked and tremulous with tears.

“M.K.?” Paul gasped, his heart, breath and mind all shuddering to a sudden, icy halt.  “M.K., sweetheart, where―?”

“Daddy, help us!” M.K.  cried hoarsely, bursting into tears.  There was static on the line, poor reception, and her words kept fading in and out, breaking up.  “Oh, God, he…please, Daddy, Uncle Jay is hurt! He’s hurt real bad! You…you have to help us! Oh, God, please…!”

Her voice was shrill and cracked with terror, and it cleaved Paul’s heart, staggering him.  “Where are you?” he asked.  “M.K., honey, listen to me.  You’re breaking up.  Calm down and tell me where you are.”

“I don’t know!” she screamed.  “I don’t know! I can’t get out! Uncle Jay said to run away, to find someplace where the phone would work, but there’s nothing but rooms! Rooms and walls and busted windows! Daddy, please, I’m scared! I can’t―”

A huge burst of static hissed in Paul’s ear, and he grimaced, jerking the phone back momentarily.  “M.K.?” he said, drawing it hesitantly to his head again.  There was nothing but silence, a smooth, dead line, and he felt his heart twist in sudden horror.  “M.K.? Oh, God―Mary Kate! Mary Kate―answer me!”

He checked the display screen on his phone.  She was calling from Jay’s cell.  He frantically tried to redial, but kept hitting a recording that told him the cellular customer he was trying to reach was out of the service area.

“Goddamn it!” Paul cried after the fifth such attempt.  He hurled the phone across the room and shoved his hands against his temples, forking his fingers through his hair.  “Goddamn it!” he yelled again, and then his voice broke, an anguished choking sound escaping him.  He sat down heavily against the foot of his bed and pressed his palms over his eyes.

Think, goddamn it, think! he told himself.  You know where they are.

“No,” he whispered, gritting his teeth, his voice seeping through in a hiss.

Yes, you do.  You’ve seen it before, more times than you can count

“I didn’t do this,” he breathed.

It’s where you brought Melanie Geary.

“No…”

where you brough Aimee Chesshire

“No, I didn’t…I didn’t…” Paul whispered.

You see it every time you close your goddamn eyes

“I didn’t do this!” he cried, throwing his head back and shouting at the ceiling.  “I didn’t do this, I didn’t―goddamn it, I would never hurt my children!”

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