This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The stillness of the night drags on, broken only by an occasional distant howl. In the middle of the forest, there is a house far away from the rest of the world. Inside, a little girl is sleeping soundly. When she is woken, she has no idea of what woke her: the house is silent. Perhaps the silence itself woke her.
She slips from her bed, throwing her quilt haphazardly to one side, and lightly sneaks out of her bedroom into the open hallway. “Hello?”
She pushes open the door to her father’s room with a creeeak. “Dad? Dad, are you sleeping?” She climbs up onto the bed...and it is empty. Her heart begins to beat rapidly as childhood’s greatest fears are realized; she is alone, and a pesky thing in the back of her small mind called instinct is whispering “Danger, danger!”
“Dad? Where are you?” she calls, walking into the house’s large living room. The curtains are pulled shut, but the door is slightly -- very, very slightly -- ajar. Slivers of silvery-white light snake their way through the crack and illuminate the house just enough for the child to see she is well and truly alone.
What could have happened to him, she thinks, out here in the middle of the forest? Terrifying thoughts come to mind, especially when she hears the cries of wolves...and the sounds of heavy footsteps in the woods. They’re coming closer. She pushes the door shut and opens up one curtain just a bit, peering out with frightened curiosity.
A few of the animals are slinking close to the house. Two, no, three, moving her direction in the way that hunting beasts do. The girl watches in frightened fascination. She’s lived in the wilderness all her life, so predatory animals are familiar to her. This isn’t the first time she’s seen wolves. But something is different about these: the way they move, for one. They move like men, never with all four feet touching the ground.
One of them breaks away from the others, coming still closer to the house. The girl is unable to take her eyes away. The beast walks right up to the window where she crouches, narrowing its eyes and growling. She shrinks back, and it stares intently at her. Studying her. There is a quality about it that seems almost human.
No, no “almost.” There is most definitely something human about it. Its hands are like human hands, and there’s just something about its eyes. Something familiar. The girl looks away, shuts the window, runs back to her room and pulls the blanket over her head, as any shaken child would do. She tries to sleep but can’t -- she’s haunted by the sight of the wolf, anxious over the whereabouts of her father, and scared of what might be out there with him.
When the sun’s come up again, she hears the door open. She runs to the front hallway and sees her father there in the doorway. He’s ragged, flustered, and dirty, half naked, with strands of his curly dark hair matted with sweat and something that looks like dried blood. “Dad!” she cries.
He looks surprised. “Sweetheart? How long have you been up? Is everything okay?”
“I woke up last night, Dad. You weren’t in the house, and I was scared, and....” She trails off, unable to tell him what she witnessed the night before. About the creature -- it was no wolf, of that she is now certain -- and the way it looked at her.
He kneels down to be on eye level with his daughter. “Hailee,” he says seriously, “there are strange things in this world, okay? If you saw something last night, I don’t want you to tell anyone. Someday I’ll explain it, someday when you...when it’s safe for you to know. Someday, this will all make sense. But for now, this is our little secret. Okay, my sweet? Can you do that?”
She nods, though she does not understand his words. “Okay. I can do that.”
He smiles, ruffling her hair. “That’s my girl.” As her dad stands up, she swears she sees his eyes flash, changing color. She swears for a second that his eyes are bright, shining gold.
Lauren Suzmeyan-Raine: I'm so glad you found a place to post your stories. I was horrified when I saw yours had been taken down, they are definitely the best 'reading' stories I've ever read. And I've made it my business to read every one I can. Well done.Lauren
EchoOblivion: I was hooked from start to finish - couldn't put it down! Excellent story, compelling characters, well-built world and just the right amount of mystery. I would definitely recommend if you are a fan of post-apocalyptic sci-fi, with a few zombies-like creatures thrown in for good measure. Can't wa...
Talon Richey: The answer to that question is NO! I absolutely loved the book, it has a way of lifting the magic right of the page and into the imagination. The story is well thought out and connects so easily with its self that as a reader i felt like it could actually be real. defiantly in my top five favori...
colt: i love your books! all of them! i am so happy for you! when i first read your book i thought "this seems really interesting" and i just got hooked had to have more, i wondered if you had a sequel to the first one, and you did, i was so excited that i had to start reading it. your series left me t...
ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...
ElNachoWOTC: The grammar is tight and easy too read while packing a great vocabulary and you use a lot of vivid imagery with your words. One of the biggest things I noticed right away is the gritty realism you managed to cram into this book while going into a lot of exotic fantasy material. Including issue...
Tiffany Thomson: This story is not something I would normally pick up and read but I'm so glad I did, I wasn't able to put it down and my husband was yelling at me at 3am to put it down and go to bed (just waited for him to doze back off before picking it back up) I really hope Natalie brings out another book eit...
Marijana1: The melancholy present throughout this story has the power to influence and etch into the minds of the readers, to stay there and refuse to leave even after they have finished reading the story. This is a deep, powerful story, making the readers wonder about everything – about love, about their e...
Yellow: If you are looking for something original try Evening Goddess. Karina takes you on an adventure filled with tragedy and dangerous situations. The mixture of a serious plot and sexual situations keep you reading to discover what challenges she will face next. The novel will make you laugh, cry...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."