To friends and family their writer's ultimate fans and brutally honest critics.
The hunch is getting stronger.
It is waking up in cold sweat in the dead of night and trying not to scream, and if someone had asked what the matter was. She would have just stared at the person who ask, though no one ever would, her reply in a nonchalant tone. “It doesn’t matter.”
Halia Newswick, a thirty-two year old, has held the same dead-end job since she got out of high school. She waits tables in her small town of Basin, Idaho’s only fine dining establishment where they serve “Fresh” fish and steak, which costs a pretty penny. The slogan, ‘The Finest and Freshest Fish’, Okay is true; granted living in Idaho they don’t have direct access to salt water. Halia has amazed herself over the years, working five nights a week and with every second of her shift, successful keeps from vomiting all over the place. The establishment, labeled as ‘fine dining’ is a very dingy place. The once glossy hard wood now traveled dull and is now coming apart in places. The walls are the ‘old barn wood’ theme or had been until it recently was replaced with rust colored wallpaper. The manager’s main reason for this was because of less maintenance. Only Halia seems to have problem with this; she didn’t like to see things change, especially for the worse. Speaking of change she never drives toward an actual career. It was and has often been suggested that she could be an editor because of her extreme understanding of words, though it didn’t suit her. (She didn’t want to ruin her love and enjoyment of reading by being forced to do it) but then again neither dose being a waitress but it is job and it pays the bills.
Halia is an attractive woman and takes care of herself, until recently. Of course, she could say she is fine all expect for lack of sleep and bad headaches mostly like caused by the not sleeping. She has lived in the same town all her life but no one knows a thing about her following death of her mom, Ellen Newswick in 2004 she battled with lung cancer of a few years. Ellen, a single mom, her douchebag of a husband of three years just up and left on the day of Halia’s birth taking every cent with him, which wasn’t that much. Ellen worked two jobs late into her pregnancy. She didn’t try to find him; instead she devoted herself to Halia and to giving her a good and memorable childhood. Halia would agree that she had one of the best, though they didn’t have a lot of money most of the time. They had each other and had fun together, though when Halia was out of school and both were working they started going on trips around Idaho. When her mom passed away it did hurt but she did not shut down completely because she knew that her mom won’t want that of her. She recalls a playful argument between them that always come up when they were on the road.
“I talked to that nice young man who lives two houses down from us.” Ellen would say in her sly way.
“Mom,” Halia replied with a smile, “No, I am not interested.”
“Why honey? Don’t you dream of being happy?”
“I am happy. What about you I don’t see you looking for yourself.”
“Oh honey I am past my prim.” Ellen laughed.
“Again let’s leave this talk to the wind and enjoy ourselves.”
Ellen would nod and never go on about it, until the next road trip that was.
Halia is and never has been a people person, yes, the irony is that she has a job waiting tables! The thought of being in a relationship annoys her, sure, yeah, she is being very self-centered. She had seen what her dad did to her and her mom and she sees it at the dinning establishment all the time, friends eating and bashing their wives or husband, for being too clinging or for being a slob or not having the money to support their impulse spending habits. Halia sees it as too stressful.
The written word is Halia’s addiction, her love and has been ever since a young age. It in of itself gives comfort and an escape from the world around her, stories helped her cope with her mom’s death better than any human could. They open their arms to embrace and make her comfortable and safe. They don’t go on making suggestions about what she should do for help or to feel better, which is something she hates about people. Words are just there to take you somewhere, where in fact she could learn in her own way and only if she allows the teachings to touch her. If not she would just read to get lost in the words of the story. Regardless of the different number of titles and authors she has read she has a favorite author. His awe and spellbinding works ones that pull you in and don’t let go are the ones she will read over and over again. Halia feels a mixture of emotions if she were to speak this out loud to anyone who would ask, not that anyone would, it is that she views him as like a far off father figure. Not like other crazy people who would take that to the next level, but it is her way of comforted especially after her moms death.
Halia is leaving work at 10:00 pm on a Tuesday bound for home. Her tiny one bedroom house is just at the end of Gendral Street, five blocks north from her work establishment. Halia owns a car but only put it to use when she leaves town, which isn’t very often or when it is just too cold to walk. On a nice evening like tonight, with a slight breeze hitting her tan face causing her black hair to dance behind her shoulders, why would she want to be stuck in a car? She hums a tune one of which comes to her on these walks though she can’t recall the song. The town is still though it is a nice spring night and it is not at all that late. Walking pass the darken windows of second-hand cloths shops and antiques shops, seeing herself as youngster holding her mom’s hand as they went through the shops, where on rare occasions when her mom could afford it she would get a candy bar or a soda. After the death she had thought, along with the rest of town, that she would up and move. To where though, now that was what was the question. Halia couldn’t leave for the simple reason that her heart belongs in Basin. Not because of the people or even the memories it is because she feels at home.
Out of nowhere something strikes her, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end and she looks about the street light lit street and darken shop windows, curious. It isn’t paranoia, as if eyes are on her spying her every movement. No, it is as… she couldn’t think of it. Just like the illusive feeling of the dreams that she has been having for a couple of months, or what she thinks are dreams, because she can never recall anything not even sounds or colors. She continues on, walking at her normal pace as the nightly headache rears its annoying head. It always goes away after she eats; she is thankful for small favors. The headaches started to appear regularly about the same time when she started waking up in the cold sweats.
Arriving home, she smiles happily as her books greet her warmly. The books lay in neat piles arranged by genre. All of them follow this pattern as they circle her living room in alphabetical order. Starting closest to the door is adventure and action books ending with the war and witches/wizards books under the little window that looks out to the street. Paperbacks are stacked thickest to thinnest with no more than twenty books per pile. The hardbacks are the same but max is twenty-five. There is not a book here that she has not read; the total tally of books is one-hundred and forty-eight. However the books by her favorite author are sitting on a table beside her computer desk totaling up to fifty-five books. She finds books to be the best company because of the give and take type of relationship; she can talk to them and in turn they take her on fun and wild rides.
She turns on her computer, which sit in the center of the living room. As she passes the button on the monitor on her way to the kitchen, to get a little something to keep the headache minute while she showers to rid herself of the smell of fish. She opens one of her five cupboards and grabs a single Fiber One bar lying on the bare wood of the cupboard, taking off the wrapper and trashing it. Halia bites in to it not hiding the fact that she is hungry. She sighs and nods satisfied as some crumbs fall to the floor. She heads to the left of the kitchen in to a little hallway and goes into the bathroom.
The steam clears what is left of her headache as she dresses in sweat pants and a tee-shirt. She goes back in to the kitchen to make a turkey sandwich with ranch and slice tomatoes on sour dough. Armed with the sandwich and a soda she goes to her computer where she pulls up the forum for fans of the author she adores. She stops in the middle of her first bite eyes wide as she read that a newsletter presenting the town in which He is going to unveil his newest book. (He has been writing this book for a year and a half not share anything about it). Halia finishes her bit to keep in the drool that is now gathering at the corner of the mouth, her dark sunken eyes glued to the screen as she reads feverishly and chews just as quick.
The newsletter reads that He will be Mason, Utah at the Lessee Auditorium on Saturday starting at 2, so book your spot now.
Halia jumps and lets out a little whimper as she clamps her hand over her mouth having bit her tongue. Water wells up at the corners of her eyes and she drops her half-eaten sandwich, running to the kitchen and spits out what is in her mouth accompanied with some blood. She then hears the voice of her mom, ‘See what happens when you eat too fast’. Halia just smiles and slowly shakes her head as she goes for an ice-cube. Dabbing her tongue with it she sits back in front her computer. Halia, as well the others on the forums, have been trying to guess what the book might be about and also discuss why he had chosen to hide this book. This came with a lot of outlandish claims and sparks several arguments among the boards. Halia neither comments nor really reads the angry comments because some of them attacked the author which upsets her so she just avoids that thread. When she thinks of why he did it. It is not for the fact that he didn’t think his readers would take to it as well as his other works. No, it is the fact that he can play with his fans, that is what Halia believes why he has done it. Even though this place is like home to her and she could post anything without any negatively because she has a few that she would consider friends. Every since she discovered this site five years ago she spends most of her time on the site chatting with other fans. She wished that she would found it during high school to give her people who shared the same love that she did. At school she had to hide because kids would take her books from her hands and would tease her with them.
Her eyes trail to ‘Book Your Spot Now’ words slightly waving in the vision, beckoning her to do it. It is Thursday; she has the money and time from work that she needs to burn. Placing the reminder of the ice-cube in her mouth and wiping the fingers dry on her sweat pants she takes hold of the mouse. There is no reason for her to think twice about it after looking at the books that sit next to her.
Thinking about it, she is looking at the books and starts to laugh because of the true realization of it. The man that she looks to as a father figure has in fact been the base of most of her childhood nightmares. So, how she could enjoy being terrified yet adores and speaks of the man so highly? This is the true question to see if her sanity is in check, and the answer is honestly disturbing. Halia would not and has not felt so safe and warm while being terrified. She could still remember clearly the day she got her first book by Him and that long lovely, terrifying night.
It was her last day of first grade and she had the highest reading level in her grade and school. Her comprehension of words at that age was phenomenal. A gift from her mom was a brand new paperback by Him, a novella, Midnight. Ellen bought the novella for her daughter knowing that it was scary but she also knew that her daughter would love it.
That night, Halia begun to read by following something that the writer had said before the first story started, “These following four stories are on the scary side, however should you want a truly terrifying experience. Wait for night to fall then go in to your bedroom, making sure to leave the door open. Take a flashlight and hide under the bed sheets then begin.” Halia did exactly that. She submerged herself in the first story eyes flying along the words, with her breath quickening in relation to the running character she was following. It wasn’t until the flashlight fell from her unfocused hand was when she felt added effects that surrounded her while she read. Yes, it had worked; she had been afraid to remove the sheet let alone move, and to make it worse her door was wide open. Who knew what could be standing there, should she venture a look from beneath the sheets. She stared at the book in fascination and wondered if he, himself had this exacted experience and wanted to share it. From that moment on his books become a special kind of drug to her that other book could not match
Now Halia is holding the worn novella in her hands, the once brilliant night sky with a bold moon near the top of the cover, the title in the center and his name lining the bottom. It has the faded look, not as shiny as it had been when she received it that day; the moon has gone from a stand out bold to a soft old moon losing its light. The title faded from its standout white to gray, the corners are ragged and there is a prominent crease making the title hardly readable on the binding.
“I want him to sign this.” She whispers.
The headache starts up again.
On the screen sits her hotel confirmation for tomorrow through Sunday. It will be great to get away and see her favorite author in the flesh. She wants to pack but she has this steady thumping on the left side of her temple. She places the heel of her palm flat against her temple applying slight pressure and sighs when it stops for a moment or two. This damned headache is keeping from expressing her true joy, which is possibly a good thing. It is keeping her composed. She would normally be the equivalent to a chicken with its head cut off and it would have been ten times…twenty times worse than any vacation she went on with her mom because this will be her first vacation in nearly twelve years. The last one had been with her mom, before losing her battle with cancer. They had gone up to Yellowstone National Park and the Craters of the Moon, it had been a well enough trip but it killed Halia to watch her mom wither from the woman she once was.
Halia since then never went on another one because her trip partner was gone. Now this one is one that she wants and she feels an odd sense that she would have gone whether she had the money or time. She quickly shakes that feeling away because she doesn’t like it. The book tucked securely under her arm she goes to the kitchen for the Excedrin, swallowing two white pills of hopeful sweet relief. Then to her bedroom to pack; she sets a blue luggage bag open on her bed. She sets the paperback down beside the bag and then proceeds to throw two days worth of underwear, socks, a single pair of pjs and a comfy outfit for the ride home. It is the outfit that she is going to wear to the event is what she can’t decide on: a flowing black dress with shoulder covering strap and a wide white stripe circling the middle under the breasts or a grayish suit with wooden toggles down the front and black slacks with matching toggles on the pockets. Neither she has ever worn.
Her stomach then turns and not in the excited way. Halia holds very still afraid to move for she might find she will need to change her pants or clean the rug whichever comes first. The thumping in her head is also thumping very uncomfortably in her guts. With every thump she feel something creeping up closer to her mouth, the gray like water with white stuff flowing in it with the nasty sour taste. She presses her lips together and her palms against her temples with tears tricking down her cheeks hoping for it to subside. It does, after a moment or two and when it does she decides to leave the rest of her packing for the morning.
Crawling in to bed and for a moment, she thinks that maybe she shouldn’t go, the feeling that she shook away earlier has come back and this time is unyielding. Gooseflesh covers Halia’s skin and she attempts to close her mind to it. She refuses to believe the sense that is trying to swarm her mind that this will be her final vacation. Closing her eyes tight and is trying not to anticipate the uncomfortably throbbing feeling in her gut coming back. Halia drifts off to sleep with just a slight thump in her head.
The hunch growing stronger still.
Halia wakes up screaming unable to hold it back for the first time in months. She lays there staring at the ceiling in the early morning feeling clammy. Halia groans as her entire head pulses. On a happier note this makes her smile end up being a quarter raised lip and one eye squint matching the look of one with a brain freeze. She decides that she is going to wear the gray suit to the event. Against her better judgment she rises from the bed slowly and gets ready for the long day of being in the car. She showers and dresses in her gardening jeans with her hair pulled back with a bandana. Breakfast is a bowl of Honey Clusters and the bag packed with her suit, she is feeling good. Picking up her bag in her left hand and her paperback in the other she heads to the car, all the while ignore the feeling of dread, the feeling she won’t explore or let settle.
Armed with plenty of Excedrin and quick finger food she is ready to go in her 1980 rust bucket Toyota Celica, of a deep amethyst color. The once brilliant purple is now dotted with spots of rust and long scratch all the way down the passenger side, to which she has never hid the truth.
She had gone shopping one cold, early December night in Boise (which is an hour and fifteen minutes south of here). Halia was on the highway coming home when she hit a patch of black ice, and over corrected into the guard rail.
She sets the bag on the seat beside her and places the book on top of the bag. On the floor of the passenger side the food and pills. The paperback acting as the inspirational drive should her headache get bad or should her stomach act up again. It is seven o’clock and should things go smoothly she will arrive in Mason at eleven allowing her to relax for the remainder of the day.
Right off the bat, Halia already suspects that this drive is going to be difficult; the radio is refusing to work. She has no tapes either. She lets out a puff of breath and slouches forward peering through the top negative space in the steering wheel. Running ideas through her head of what she could possibly do to help pass the time, such as she could go buy a tape. Though she is not sure what she wants to hear and doesn’t want to spend hours in store waiting for one to grab her attention. There is always stopping by a thrift store or she may be lucky at a brand-name store and uncover an audio book on tape of Midnight. She would surly love that but tapes are hard to find in a regular brand-name store. However there are rundown thrift stores where people drop of their once treasured items now old for someone else to discover their wonder as if it is new, having no idea that it sat forgotten for years in a dusty old attic before it is found and brought to the store. What drives that idea away is the fact that if she did find one, what if the tapes don’t work? There are games that she knew, but has no friend to play with or compete against. On the stretch of road between Basin and Boise going 45 mph with nothing but bare rolling foothills on either side for an hour will be accompanied by silence.
“Why did my radio have to not FFFffucking work.” She spits clenching the steering wheel, “if this is a way to get me to address something I won’t. Do not want to, nor need to. I am happy and fine.” She pounds out as the headache makes it’s come back. She quickly grabs for a bag of pretzels.
As she munches she speaks to the car, “There is something that my mom always said and it is this, ‘Never dwell on troubling things; as soon as you do they will drag you down and make your life miserable’. That is one of the best and truest pieces of advice I have ever received .”
Halia smiles in spite that she is talking aloud to no one. It is like trying to remember that warning from mom and saying out loud to either just to remind herself of it or to make sense of it. She always did that but in her mind when she was alone but she guesses that there is just something on her mind that is keeping her from doing that now. Halia actually found talking aloud to be kind of a stress reliever. Then she suddenly laughs as she a random memory rises to the surface of her mind.
She was ten and it was the Fourth of July. Her mom surprised her with a bucket load of fireworks, when her mom had told her that they couldn’t afford any. It held sparklers, strobes, and firecrackers of all kinds, roman candles, ground spinners, bottle rockets and box of Saturn missiles. Halia remembered being so excited that she was praying for sun to go down early so they could play. Of course, at the time (and still is the case now with Halia), they were inexperienced working with fireworks. Dusk had fallen and the world around them became smoky and filled with various bangs and explosions following beautiful display of colors. Standing on their driveway ready to join the fun of the night, carrying the bucket of fireworks. Halia’s mom set the bucket down then plucked a box of matches from her fanny pack. Halia was standing beside her mom shaking with anticipation wanting to start while hearing the others families playing. Her mom grabbed a firecracker and removed a match. Ellen handed Halia the box of matches and Halia watched her mom strike the match on the concrete driveway and lit the firecracker and threw it out. BANG! Halia jumped and fumbled the box but was smiling a wide stuck smile. Her mom asked if she wanted to throw one. Halia, who was shaking, stiffly nodded. Her mom fished out another firecracker and instructed Halia to throw as soon as it is a lit. She nodded stiffly. Holding the firecracker as steady as she could, her mom struck the match on the side of the box. At the same time as the cracker was a lit, to their right; BANG! It had startled both of them, and that is all it took for the match and firecracker tumbled in to the bucket. They had run for cover and watched the show as fireworks flew, exploding and lighting up from every which way. Bottle rockets hit house windows and landed in pools; fireballs shot down the street and an entire box of Saturn missiles launched into their front door. Halia and her mom stood huddled together as they used the side of the house as protection, should they need it. They weren’t the least bit up set. They were roaring with laughter as their stray fireworks were causing their neighbors to duck and run.
That is one memory that Halia never forgot.
Halia is two hours and thirty minutes in to the trip when she reaches the town of Raky. It is half the size of Boise though it still holds that small town feel. Not a lot of big corporations populate the area; it is mostly locally owned and family businesses here. This is where Halia decides to stop to use the restroom and grab something substantial to eat. She stop at The Red Dish Diner where she is going to try to get rid of the headache. Halia pulls in and goes to step out when she nearly collapses with the hard thumping of her head. She bites her lower lip and holds on the car to steady herself. A few moments pass when the thumping beings to calm down some, at least enough for that she could walk.
Every hour I need to pullover and get out of the car and walk around. She concludes in private thought before she walks stiff legged into the diner.
“Welcome. Just one?” the waitress, with the name Hope asks.
“Yes.” Halia answers.
Halia follows Hope, who could only be a few years younger than her, with extremely curly red hair framing her face. Hope’s face is the smiling waitress face that her own boss wants her to have. Halia has no doubt that she is sociable. The diner has a retro look; lots of red with gold trim and a single strip of gold down the center of the red seats and tables.
Hope selects a booth for her to sit at with view of quiet Main Street.
“Can I start you off with something to drink?” She asks.
“Coffee. Black.” Halia says shortly just trying to get rid of her so she could go to the restroom.
When she does leave, Halia hurries to the restroom praying that she’ll make it. She does, barely.
After having done relieving herself she can now go and apologize to Hope for being short and bitter because she understands that bitter costumers can ruin the day.
Returning to her booth she finds her coffee waiting for her; she takes her seat not taking up the menu because she knows what she wants. She takes a sip of her coffee and regrets it, for it burns her already injured tongue. She then thinks in sarcasm, Well, I hope I wasn’t planning to taste my food. She smiles despite the pain of her tongue. At that moment Hope returns to take her order.
“I just want to say that I am sorry for being short with you. I am waitress and I understand.”
Hope smiles and wave it off with her hand holding the ticket book, “I have learned to not let in bother me, but I thank you for apologizing for your actions. That is rare.”
Halia nods and orders a small order of biscuits and gravy. She sits and smiles, feeling fine for the time being. The thumping has stopped and she watches as the warm light bathe the town.
As she eats her meal the narrow strips of walls that frame the windows and doors catch her attention. It is red but she can see the brush strokes and angle every which way. It makes her laugh though not it a mocking way but in admiration. She forks another bit into her mouth and notices something about the booth across from her. The color is starting to fade, not much to be instantly noticeable but it is beginning to show signs of age.
Stronger still the hunch grows.
Halia arrives in Mason a little after one in the afternoon on the account of her stopping every hour. She never has been to Mason, Utah and now she wishes she would have come here earlier. It has a rustic colonial structural design baring bold colors that seem like the paint just freshly applied. The streets the look freshly paved and painted and the fire-brick sidewalks with no scuffs or dust of time. The windows of the shops sparkle with the fresh wipe down with some cleaning agents. Halia drives to Bangor Street which has her hotel and is three blocks from the auditorium where He will be speaking.
As she drives she realizes that there is nobody out not even a parked car. This really bothers her and she stops dillydallying with the cleanness of the city and goes to her hotel. She gets out of the car and carefully stretches, rubs her tired eyes and when she removes her hands from her eyes, Halia sees the town teeming with people. She just stands wide-eyed, mouth agape and shaking, as the feeling that she keeps pushing away comes back. She leans back against the car, eyes shut tight, hands clutched in a fist, biting her lower lip and with all her might pushes the feeling away.
Whatever it is that is trying to get her attention is putting up a tough fight but ends up giving up.
Halia relaxes but now there is the headache. She is fine with it as oppose to not seeing. She grabs her book, her bag and heads inside the hotel. She just hurries in with down cast eyes, using the reflection of the floor to make sure she didn’t run into anyone. Reaching the counter Halia, in a frustrated voice rattles off her name and how long she is staying. She just stares straight at the keyboard never making eye contact.
Halia could hear the woman uncomfortable sigh as she looks up the information. Halia slightly shakes her head and trying to not think about what had just happened outside, but this troubling thing isn’t so easily to just shove under the rug to be tread on till it worn away. It happened, she saw and that it what is making it non trash able like all the other troubling things.
“Room 147 on the second floor. Enjoy your stay.” The woman says in flat annoyed tone as her thin fingers hold out Halia’s room key.
Halia snatches the key and hurries up stairs. She unlocks the door and disappears inside. Now she understands why the room had only been forty-five dollars and fifty-five cents for the three nights. Inside the door and immediately to the left is a small bathroom with a possibly clogged sink, a toilet and a small shower. The mirror above the sink is not longer a mirror for the amount of shit that has caked on over the years. The carpet has a lot of water damage and she make her way in to the living space. No TV or even a mini bar, not that she would use it. The coverlet on the twin bed is a grayish, color; Halia sets her bag on the bed, but keeps the book in her hand as she moves to the only small square window and looks out. It is a side street just off Main Street behind the hotel. There are people walking around as is expected, but at the beginning when she first entered the town there hadn’t been anyone. Why hadn’t the- No, stop, why are you thinking about this? Halia shouts at herself. She still can’t escape the feeling that indeed something is happening inside, though she will not dwell. With that she does the only she could do; she lays down and tries to sleep the strange happening away.
The hunch is overwhelming strong.
Halia wakes up on Saturday the day of the event, however she cannot get fully excited. The thumping is relentless, her vision doubles and her guts are in tight knots. She cries because of the pain and more for the fact that she might not make it to the event. To never ask the most important question, ‘What is wrong’. That is a taboo phase to her and her mom, once again going against her better judgment she fights though the now seemly permanent pain, and gets ready for the event.
All of Halia’s quick fixes to at least make dealing with the pain bearable are not helping at this point. She looks at herself in the mirror before walking to the Lessee Auditorium seeing her reflection makes her almost lose what she is all ready trying so hard to keep down. He face is deathly looking, eyes sunken in with dark bags under them. She is clammy as well as her vision not the best. She opt not to drive and walks to the Lessee Auditorium.
Halia starts down to the street with her book in her hand. She has to squint to see and her balance is not that good either, constantly shaking her head and stopping to recheck herself. Halia is being stared as people see her exit the hotel, ‘Great they’re going think that I am drunk and I am not going to in to the event’. She thinks through the thumping. The dread feeling kicks into overdrive the closer to her destination she gets. Halia stops with a hard stomp of her foot to the ground even thought it causes her pain. ‘Please, just let me see him. Just give me that, then I’ll…’ she stops trying to understand. She’ll do what? There is nothing that she can do and the doctor is out of the question, it will just be a waste of time because they will say to just get some sleep or some other home remedy will be best other then pills or the damn symptoms will go away the day of the appointment to that she reminds steadfast.
She continues to the auditorium only her vision has normalized, which is perfectly fine with her. Three block and to the right on King Street is the large domed auditorium with people crowding the door trying get in and cars of sorts lining the street. Halia straightens herself up smooths her hair with one hand and clutches nervously to the paperback in the other. The nervousness feeling did not complement her already clammy feel. She would admit, if asked, if she is nervous about meeting Him. She would say is excited, the nervousness stems from her not liking large crowds of people. Entering the auditorium among the mass of fans, hold her book to her chest and shrinks into herself as she glides with them from the lobby to the auditorium. The thing she worries about is screaming because of the volume of the crowd is not agreeing with her headache. Passing through the doors Halia looks at the stage as she sits in an aisle seat, which is six rows from the stage in the center section. She sits with her book on her lap staring at the stage, waiting. She has made it and a smile comes to her lips.
A chubby man addresses them, “I am Lloyd Middel and I want to thank you for coming here.” He pauses as there is applause, “Now this man need not introduction, the master of storytelling…”
The applause drowns out the rest of the sentence and He enters from the left part of the stage, Halia body tingles and she is star struck. She is finally seeing the man to who she has looked up to for all these years, even more so after her mom died. A fragile looking man with metallic gray hair, faded red tee shirt tucked in to his blue jeans surveys the audience in amazement and admiration from behind his glasses.
“All this hype. You guys know that this is a book reveal not a rock concert, right?” He asks ending in a wide thin lip smile.
There is a round of applause.
“Thank you! Now, it is weird for me to be up here. I am a fucking writer!” He says. A pause following that, with a smile he continues, “This is the very reason for the book which is why I am standing before you. Before I reveal the name let me tell you why I hid it,” A sly smile creeps across his lips, “I did it just to mess with you. You know why?” He stops as there is muttering. Halia just smiles because she had known that. The writer says in a low cracked voice, “Because I can. Am I the master of horror or not!” he cackles as there is applause. Chucking he begins again “All right here is the moment and the reason we are all here. This new book title is, The Wordslinger's Oath. So there are writers, we are after the money or fame or both. However, there are Wordslingers now these people are truly remarkable. It dangerous as they life among their characters. I know, you all mutter, but they do. Just remember this, if you pick up a book and if the character or the storyline is scarily close to your own life. You just might have picked up your story, it just changed at your touch... ”
Halia is just listening, fixed as all the others are doing, excited for the book. The thumping has faded and her gut no longer screams out. She is able to listen to her favorite author speak, unhindered. She is truly enjoying herself when out of nowhere she straightens up in her seat as flashes of images appear in her mind’s eye. Ones that she would have awaken from in cold sweat if asleep. Unfortunately, she is awake and can’t shut it off as if they embedded in her mind like all the stories that she has ever read are. Her head seems to explode like that bucket of fireworks on the Fourth of July. She sees what the outcome of what she is seeing and someone is up in the balcony, which is closed for this event. This someone is up there in black to be one with the shadows, angry with Halia’s favorite author however the reasons are obscure with undefined madness. They are intending to end his life here. Halia looks at the author as he speaks unawares and in her mind’s eye is seeing the gunmen taking aim.
In a split second decision where there is only one choice, Halia stands and sprints for the stage. She doesn’t hear the gasps that come from the audience as Halia pays no attention her eyes fixed on the writer who is watching her come at him transfixed. Her head rocks with the sudden excretion of energy causing her eyes to lose focus, but never causing her to divert from mission.
Halia jumps up the stage and leaps sprawled out in front of Sheldon King, shielding him as a shout rang out. Both Halia and Sheldon fell to the stage as the auditorium erupts in to chaos.
Halia looks at King with a smile as she is seeing with him the clearest eyes while Halia’s pain melts away. That is when she admits in her final moments, only to herself, that her mother would have lived if only she hadn’t tried to hide it and listened to Halia begging for her to go to the doctor, thought Halia never followed her own advice.
Halia Newswick, hailed as a hero and in the autopsy report it states that she had been dying from a brain tumor…