I haven’t done anything interesting enough to talk about lately, so instead, I’m gonna plug my friend Jennifer Hudock‘s new novella, On Raven Wings.
Here’s an excerpt:
On Raven Wings
Screaming tires spit chunks of rock and painted a cloud of dust on the road behind them. The Charger hugged the turn dangerously, and Eric squinched as he leaned forward to grip the dashboard. Kenny licked his lower lip and grinning, looked back out at the road in front of them.
“Relax man,” Kenny said. “I could drive this road blindfolded.”
Tendrils of smoke drifted into the front seat on the currents of Andy’s laughter, and Eric’s fingertips dug deeper into the dashboard. Several times he opened his mouth to speak, but lack of courage stopped him until Andy’s giggling in the backseat finally pushed him to say, “If you wreck my car, I’ll kill you.”
Kenny flashed the charming rows of his perfect teeth across the car. A stretched black curl fell over Kenny’s forward, across his line of vision and he huffed it away with a confident breath, “You need to chill, man.”
Coughing, Andy slid down the backseat and pressed his knees into the back of Eric’s seat, escalating Eric’s temper.
“Seriously, man,” Eric glowered over the seat at Andy. “Cut it out.”
“Kenny’s right, you need to chill,” Carmen bumped herself forward and shouldered into Sara. Her bangle-braceleted arm held the joint to Kenny’s lips, and he inhaled. “Don’t be such a pussy, Eric.”
One of Carmen’s bracelets caught on Kenny’s jacket as she withdrew and the car reacted to the jerk with a leftward leap. Eric clenched his stomach muscles so tight he almost puked. At seventeen, Kenny was on his second driver’s license suspension and shouldn’t have been driving to begin with. He had been Eric’s best friend since the second grade though, and often all it took was a clever, trust-me smile to convince Eric that Kenny’s brand of trouble was fun. Someone almost always got hurt, or wound up in trouble.
Eric watched the speedometer jump ecstatically against one-thirty-five, and the roar of the motor vibrated his body inside and out. The simplest turn had become a nightmare that not even Eric could close his eyes to anymore and it was only a matter of time before they went spinning over an embankment to their death. .
“All right, you had your fun.” Teeth clenched, knuckles white on the dashboard, Eric roared, “Kenny, stop the car! I mean it, stop the fucking car.”
Most people signaled their own negligence with phrases like “trust me,” but Kenny said nothing. He implied the sentiment in the dangerous twitch of his lips. His gaze lingered sidelong as he approached a blind turn that would surely be the end of them.
“I’m going to be sick,” Eric’s heart dropped into his stomach.
“Dude, trust me.” Those words were like a death sentence
“Jesus, Kenny,” he drew in short, intoxicating breaths through his nose. “Jesus!” The second time was more like a prayer, a last ditch effort to save them from the certain doom that waited beyond that turn. Eric closed his eyes, repeating the small mantra, “Please God, don’t let us die. I’ll do anything. I’ll do anything. . . I’ll do anything. . .”
The car spun effortlessly around the curve. It hardly trembled at top speed, barely even lifted its tires off the asphalt. Kenny straightened it out with a whooping, “Woo!”
Relief flooded like cool water through Eric, battling the heat of adrenaline pumping his heart and warming his cheeks. His trust in Kenny was completely renewed, despite the nausea he felt. Completely confident, Kenny half-smiled and shook his head, “I told you to tr—”
Time froze. Somewhere in the suspension of reality Sara cried, “Kenny!”
Her warning shot through both passenger and driver like a bolt of electricity, but the shock wasn’t enough to register a quick reaction. Eric turned forward in his seat. The girl in the middle of the road looked right at him, and panic gripped Eric as the horrific truth that was about to take place entranced him. The girl’s eyes were calm, blue as winter, as death itself, and she smiled in welcome—as though she had waited all her life for that exact moment.
Kenny tried to react, but his arms stiffened as he gripped the wheel and stamped down on the brakes. His body elongated as the scream of rubber on asphalt carried them through an eerie silence, and then her body slammed into the windshield and rolled across the hood of the car like thunder. Carmen wailed from the backseat and the car spun out of control. Kenny scrambled, his fingers slipping across the steering wheel as if it had been slathered in butter.
And then Eric looked toward Kenny. Dumbfounded, he seemed to stop trying to regain control of the vehicle and the horror of the moment spanned across forever. They had killed someone and were all going to die, Eric realized, and then the terror halted as the driver’s side of the car impacted with the limestone cliff. Gravity drew Eric left and then immovable force threw him into the passenger side window. There was a painful light and realization, and then there was nothing.
Pretty cool, huh?