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Jovan Crncevic leads a cult worshiping the old one Dread Shev’kha. They have taken Amber White and her daughter Bobbi prisoner and are holding them in a farmhouse where they have slaughtered the occupants. Another prisoner, Barry Coehlho, remains bound in the bus which the cultists used in their masquerade as a group of Catholic monks offering aid in the aftermath of a series of massive tsunamis.
Crncevic had given Amber and Bobbi one of the upstairs bedrooms in the house. Unlike some of the other rooms, no blood stained this room. One door opened to the upstairs hallway, another to a small bathroom. A large picture window provided a view of a barn and the fields beyond it.
Bobbi lay curled on the large canopy bed, along with the Victorian dresser and other furnishings, a holdover from a bygone day.
Thinking that maybe once dark fell she could tear the sheets into a rope and escape with Bobbi, Amber looked out the window. One of Crncevic’s men leaned against the wall of the house. She could not tell which from this angle.
She closed her eyes and bowed her head. “Please, dear Lord, watch over Bobbi and me. And if it is your will, spare us from whatever those evil men mean to do with us. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
In times past, prayer had always calmed her and given her strength when she faced challenges but this time…this time fear continued to knot her throat.
She looked over at Bobbi, no longer even crying, just curled on the bed. Her face streaked with the dried tracks of tears.
She swallowed in a vain attempt to clear the knot in her throat then turned to the door to the hallway. If she could do nothing for herself perhaps…at least…she opened the door.
Simon sat in a high-backed wooden chair next to the door. Simon looked at her and shook his head, clear warning that she was not to leave the room.
Amber swallowed again. “Your master said he might have a use for Barry, Mr. Coelho. Do him no good if he dies of thirst, or heatstroke. At least let me take him some water.”
Simon stood. He placed his right hand on the doorknob.
“Wait here.” He pulled the door closed.
Amber stepped back from the door and waited. Shortly, the door opened and Crncevic entered the room.
“So you want to take water to the other one?” Crncevic smiled. “Very well. Take some. Take him some food even. Flee if you like.”
He pointed at the bed. “But your brat stays here.”
Amber shook her head. “I won’t go anywhere. Just…can a little kindness hurt?”
“Of course.” Crncevic stepped back through the doorway. He swept his arm open indicating she was free to leave the room.
Amber sidled past him, then almost tripped down the stairs. The bodies, at least, were gone. Only spatters of blood marked the locations of the slaughter Crncevic’s men had wrought.
In the kitchen she found a pot of soup on the stove, still warm from where it had simmered. Someone had turned off the oven, leaving the half-cooked chicken within. A pan of biscuits, still raw and apparently waiting their turn in the oven sat on a sideboard. A colander of greens sat in the sink to be washed.
Feeling guilty for disturbing other people’s, even dead people’s belongings, she rummaged in the cupboards until she found plastic bowls and glasses. Another cabinet turned up a serving tray. Someone had removed all the knives from the silverware drawer and the knife block next to the cutting board was empty.
In the refrigerator she found a pitcher of lemonade. She placed the pitcher and a glass on the tray, filled the bowl from the pot and set that on the tray as well. She picked up the tray and backed out the kitchen door onto the rear porch of the house.
Someone had brought the bus up the gravel drive so she did not have far to walk. In the gathering gloom of twilight, she carefully climbed the steps into the bus. Inside she saw movement as Coelho, still tied to his seat, lifted his head.
“Sorry I can’t rise to greet you.”
Amber set the tray on the seat across the aisle from Coelho.
“I am so very sorry that I got you into this.”
“Not your fault,” Coelho said. “I invited myself along.”
“Maybe…” Amber looked over her shoulder. Nobody had followed her. “Maybe I can…”
She leaned close, leaning down to examine the knots that tied Coehlho’s hands to the grab rail on the back of the seat.
“You’re not going to get those untied.” Coelho tugged on one. “They used a lighter to melt the knots. Don’t suppose you have a knife?” He chuckled.
“‘Fraid not,” Amber said.
“Is it too much to hope that you weren’t planning to eat your dinner in front of me?”
“Oh! I’m sorry.” Amber picked up the glass and filled it from the pitcher. “Here.”
She held the glass to Coelho’s lips and he drank greedily, some of the lemonade slopping down the front of his shirt.
When he drained the glass, Amber picked up the bowl and began spooning soup into Coelho’s mouth. As she fed him, tears welled up then spilled down her cheeks.
“God has abandoned us,” she whispered.
Coelho bit down hard on the spoon for a moment. When he opened his mouth, Amber removed the spoon and started to scoop up some more soup. Coelho turned his head to look her in the eyes.
“Don’t give up faith,” he said. “I don’t know much, but I know one thing. God will not abandon you. He will not abandon your little girl. So you keep faith and you trust in the Lord.”
Amber forced a smile and nodded. She returned to feeding Coelho.
Soon, the bowl was empty. Amber gave him another glass of the lemonade then rose to return to the house.
Fear still filled her, terror unlike anything she had known in her life. And yet, somehow, she found strength as well, strength to cope.
God would not abandon them. She knew He would not.
No one prevented Amber from leaving the room, or indeed the house. One of Crncevic’s men always followed her at a distance when she left the house but even that was unnecessary. Crncevic knew he held a leash that Amber could not break.
Bobbi remained in their rooms at all times, forbidden from even setting foot outside.
Amber climbed the steps of the bus, a tray containing a modest breakfast in her hands.
The smell assaulted her nose. She closed her eyes and cursed herself for a fool.
Coelho looked up from his seat. “I’m sorry.”
Amber set the tray down on one of the seats.
“No, I’m sorry. I should have thought.” She shrugged. “There’s not much I can do except see about cleaning you up.”
“Really, you don’t have to…”
Amber shook her head. “I changed Bobbi’s diapers. I’m sure I can handle this.” She thought for a moment. “Can you hold on for a bit?”
Coelho laughed dryly. “Do I have a choice?”
“I’ll be right back.”
Amber ducked back into the house and up to the room she shared with Bobbi.
“Mommy?” Bobbi looked up from the bed.
“No, Mommy. I can wait.”
Amber sat on the bed and gathered Bobbi in her arms. “Remember what I told you, sweetie?”
Bobbi nodded. “Even when things look bad, God is still with us.”
Amber kissed the top of Bobbi’s head. “And when things are bad?”
“Look for who you can help?”
“That’s right. And I’ve got to go help Mr. Coelho. Okay?”
Feeling guilty but trusting that the ghosts of the farmhouse’s owners would understand, she dug through the drawers in the dresser. The farmer had been large, maybe something of his would fit Coelho well enough. She found a pair of sweatpants in a lurid purple and held them up. They looked like they might fit.
Sweatpants folded and tucked under her arm, she returned to the kitchen. Crncevic looked at her from the table as she selected a large pot and filled it with warm water. He shrugged. She dropped a dishrag in the pot and grabbed the bottle of dish soap and several more dishrags from one of the drawers. Burdened by her selections, she backed out of the door and returned to the bus.
Her nose wrinkled as she knelt next to Coelho.
“I am so sorry,” he said.
“It’s okay,” Amber said. “Nothing you could do about it. Let’s just get you cleaned up.”
She bent and untied his shoes. She pulled off the left shoe, then the right.
Coelho sighed. “Oh, my.”
Amber looked up.
The corner of Coelho’s mouth twitched.
“When you’re stuck sitting so long,” Coelho said, “your feet swell. I never knew simply taking your shoes off could feel so good.”
“Well, let’s see what else we can do.” Amber reached up. She hesitated a moment, her hands held halfway to Coehlho’s waist. She set her jaw and continued, tugging the hem of Coehlho’s shirt out of the way before unfastening his belt.
Soon, she had his soiled pants and underpants off. A quick glance up showed Coelho’s face burning scarlet but she kept her own blush down by sheer willpower.
She selected one of the clean dishrags and used it to wipe up as much of the mess as she could. Already the skin of Coelho’s thighs was red and inflamed from sitting in waste. As gently as she could, she wiped the area with a wet cloth. She took a third rag, wet it, then applied a small amount of dish soap to it. She kneaded the rag to work the soap through it.
“I’m afraid this is probably going to sting.”
“Did I ever tell you what a wimp I am?” Coelho said with a smile.
“Well, you’re just going to have to be a big boy and put up with it, aren’t you?”
Still working gently, Amber scrubbed Coelho’s skin where the waste had soaked in. Coelho hissed as the cloth rubbed sores on his legs. Blood welled from tiny pockmarks.
Finally, Amber selected one more cloth, soaked it in the water, and used it to rinse the soap from Coelho. She set the dirty cloths and pot of water aside then picked up the sweatpants.
“Purple pants?” Coelho chuckled. “If I was going to get angry and turn big and green, I think it would have happened already.”
Amber smiled at the sally. “Let’s just get you dressed.”
Coelho lifted first his right leg, then his left, to allow Amber to work the pants onto his legs, then pressed his feet against the floor to raise his hips so she could pull the pants up to his waist.
“That feels much better,” Coelho said.
“I’m glad,” Amber said. “I’ll try to get out more often to help you relieve yourself. For now, let’s just get you fed.”
She tossed the dirty rags out the door of the bus. Using the one final rag, she scrubbed her own hands until nearly raw before dumping the water into the gravel. She then brought the tray of food from the front seat back to where Coelho sat tied and began to feed him.
When you’re scared, she told herself, look for who you can help.
When an accidentally detonated nuke from a stolen submarine releases something never before seen, Sea Hawk pilot Lieutenant Steve Pomerantz is sent to investigate. He finds a blue-green monster ten times the size of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex and seemingly impervious to every weapon in mankind’s arsenal.
Earthquakes in the South Pacific, at a location dubbed as the most remote spot on Earth, raise tsunamis all along the West Coast. Air Force Captain Jamal White, pilot of a C-130 Hercules is pulled off of search and rescue duties to ferry two scientists to investigate. What they find is a new continent arisen from the deep. And on that continent something stirs, bringing terror and madness in its wake.
Two monsters, one from the frozen North Atlantic, one from the remote South Pacific, on a collision course with the survival of mankind hanging in the balance.