Prologue and Chapter 1
The Road Goes Ever On and On: Book One: Down from the Door Where it Began
Part One: The Storm
Prologue: The Command
The room was of dark stone lit only by a few candles in the far corners. An elderly man clad in all white, with long white hair and a beard to match, stood behind a velvet clad table. His eyes were closed and his right hand was outstretched over a sphere, about the size of a bowling ball which glowed with a dull fiery orange.
“She has knowledge that no one in this world has. She has many books, my lord, and can recite all our history,” the old man said. “This one will be of great value to us.”
“What is her name?” came a deep voice from within the sphere.
“Tabitha,” the old man replied.
“Bring her to me,” the sinister voice said.
“Yes, my Lord. But, my Lord, how will we get this one to speak?”
“She will speak for me,” the voice laughed.
Chapter One: Lightning and Thunder
I trudged up the apartment complex stairs, jumping as lightning flashed just outside the window and a rumble of thunder sounded. Wind whirled around outside in heavy gusts, making the light poles sway, and the windows rattle.
I live in an apartment with my boyfriend of three years, Joe. Parental approved and all, even to move a town away. It was greatly accepted with the strategic decision to move into a building that’s about a block away from the nursing home where we both work, less money spent on gas, and not too far to go in the nasty winters that so love to plague Iowa. I had walked today (which I usually I do, unless it’s a really nasty winter day, too dangerous in a white out) since it had been forecasted to be clear all day and night, but this storm had just rolled in within the last hour. And I would’ve been home before the storm even came into the area, but I had a shit coworker. So I got off at ten instead of nine. Again. My boss is going to be pissed, payroll is going to be pissed, and I’m pissed. Overtime out the wazoo, that is always blamed on the collective crew, rather than the one person who is forty-five years old and is more attached to her phone than I am to my books. This is saying something, by the way. Well, at least the storm decided to wait until I got home to break. Mostly.
As I came up to the third floor apartment, loud talking and simulated gunfire could be heard through the stairwell door, from an apartment five feet away from said stairwell. I groaned and wondered why Mrs. Nelson wasn’t standing in the hallway, waiting to scorn me. She’s always on my ass for something, we walk too loud, we have too many friends, our TV is too loud. Granted, I agree with her on these things when we have friends over, which is actually quite rare, maybe it’s our turn to host the game night every other month, and I’ve told them to keep it down, but I can hear her dogs and smell her piss scented carpet twenty-four- seven. Anyways…
Nobody noticed me as I walked in while a loud crash of thunder shook the building and made the lights flicker momentarily. “Hey,” I said, closing the door and kicking off my shoes as the rumble died off.
“Tabi!” Raven squealed, jumping up from her place on the couch.
“It’s my Tabi!” Kim yelled putting her laptop on the coffee table as Raven bounced towards me for a hug. Kim and Raven were sisters though the only things they had to show for it were their petite builds and last name. Raven had naturally tanned skin, dark hair and was much more of the introvert one, whereas Kimmy is pale, blonde and over the top happy. Happy all the time, in fact. There was about a two year’s difference between them, with Raven on the lower end.
“Do not hug me,” I said, holding out a hand to stop Raven. “I reek of bleach.”
“Why were you playing in bleach?” Jerry asked. I rolled my eyes. Jerry was tall and very skinny with black hair and a dark mustache to accompany his soul patch.
“Because I’m the only that cleans anything at work,” I replied, walking over to the recliner that Joe always claims for himself. Joe is not much taller than me with olive tanned skin. He had long, dark, curly hair, glasses and a faint goatee finished off my nerd. “I’m gonna shower,” I said pecking him on the cheek.
“Okay babe,” he said, returning the kiss. “Love you!”
“Love you too,” I said, turning to go.
“Don’t take too long! I wanna show you the new recipes I got from school!” Kimmy said, almost bouncing with excitement.
“Sweet,” I said, smiling. “Oh, and guys, this storm is going to get pretty bad.”
“I doubt that,” Travis said. He was the shortest of the group, topping out at five-three. He had dirty blonde hair and a very faint mustache. He had a rounder face and trouble pronouncing his ‘r’s. He is also Kimmy’s ex, who broke-up with her only so he wouldn’t be that jealous boyfriend who got paranoid while she was three hours away at college. I’m still routing for the two to get back together.
“Whaaaatever,” I said, going to gather up some pajamas for my shower.
I was almost the odd one out, even after over three years. I’m not a gamer like the others, and have very little interest in games. I prefer my books and writings. I’m roughly five-four with brown hair and pale skin. I’m not as skinny as Kimmy or Raven, but I’m not overweight either. Though I am a bit of a black sheep within the group, I have been thoroughly accepted by everyone present.
Drew and Cate were the two that were missing, and the two were my least favorite. They are the tallest and the biggest of the group, with perhaps the biggest egos. They were both roughly six foot and very large. Cate was very…well endowed, and since she started dating Drew again, the fourth time this year, she’s gotten this sense of entitlement, thinking she’s better than everyone else because Drew came ‘crawling’ back to her. But he’s no better than she is, he’s got an ego to rival his girlfriend’s chest, and I suspect he’s only with her to stop all the calls and texts about how much she loves him, which is borderline stalking. They’re both ass-cravats anyways, and I’ll leave it at I’m ecstatic that the two aren’t here.
While I was in the shower I could hear the storm steadily getting louder. When I was certain that I had gotten all the bleach residue off of me and out of my hair, I got out.
I joined the company in the living room with my laptop, wrapped in my cozy, mismatched pajamas. To my dismay I found that Drew and Cate had showed up and were sitting on the floor kissing and hugging. I rolled my eyes and resisted the urge to gag as I sat down between Kimmy and Raven. Raven made a face of disgust as Cate and Drew started some tongue action. Ugh, Joe and I don’t even do that in private, let alone in front of everyone.
I sighed and opened my laptop with the intent to check the weather before Kimmy got too carried away with her recipes. I jumped as a loud crash of thunder echoed all around the building.
“Right, this storm wasn’t going to amount to much,” I said to Travis as lighting flashed outside the windows.
“Will you check the weather babe?” Joe asked as the lights dimmed significantly.
“I was planning on it,” I replied as thunder shook the building.
“So how was work?” Cate asked, sitting up as Drew went towards the fridge. I considered ignoring her question as I clicked on the radar.
“I had to work with Denise again,” I said flatly.
“No wonder you were so late,” Kimmy commented.
“Yeah,” I muttered, waiting for the page to load.
Lighting flashed dangerously close to the building and the lights went out. The following crack of thunder was deafening and the hum of the electricity coming back on was drowned out by a collective round of ‘damnits’ as the guys lost their game. I snickered.
“How’s the radar?” Joe asked, stretching.
I looked back at my screen and cocked my head to the side. “Really weird,” I said, zooming in on our area.
“How so?” Joe asked looking at me.
“The storm is only around…us,” I said, zooming in out our block. “Literally, come look.” Green, yellow, red, and magenta blotches surrounded our block. Everyone gathered around the couch to look.
“Damn,” Drew said. “Purple? Do we have a tornado warning?”
“It says there’s no severe alerts,” Kimmy said, pointing to the bottom left. Suddenly a high pitched siren pierced the air.
“Well, now we do,” Jerry said dully.
“Let’s go!” Raven said, jumping to her feet.
“You know, there never is a real tornado in the area right?” Drew asked.
“Even high winds can do damage to a building,” I said, getting up and grabbing my shows off of the floor. My heart was racing, though I feigned calmness.
“Come on guys!” Raven yelled. “I’m scared!”
Cate bellowed. Everyone stopped fighting for their shoes to glare at her.
“There’s no movement outside.”
We all listened hard, suddenly hearing a dull roar behind the building.
“That sounds like-” Joe began.
“Go, go!” Kimmy screeched, running towards the door.
I pulled my shoe off that was half way on my foot, and flung the door open, and lead the charge towards the stairs. The roar was steadily growing as the lights went out for a second time. Cursing echoed down the line of us, I threw the stairwell door open with a bang, and I ran into someone.
“Ugh, who the hell did I just run into?” I asked rubbing my face.
I heard everyone’s distinct voices say “not me” as a stray flash of lighting lit up the stairwell. A tall, dark being stood in front of me, the face was ugly and distorted with yellow teeth jutting from its mouth, and a foul odor was coming from the creature. I screamed and jumped backwards. “What is it, babe?” Joe asked from somewhere behind me.
Before I could answer there came a sort of growl or laugh from the creature. I backed into the wall as the sound of running footsteps flew by me. I grabbed the shirts of the two people closest to me and pulled them after me as I took off down the stairs. I released the shirts as I started going down the stairs, not looking back as I heard a loud ‘oof’ that sounded as though it had come from Cate. I heard following footsteps and continued to run. As I came to the first landing I put my foot into nothingness. I tried to steady myself, but failed and I fell forward screaming.
“Tabi,” I heard Kim and Raven yell, far above me it seemed, and then they began to scream as well.I felt a sudden strong wind and I simply knew no more.