As you are all aware, authors tend to put a bit of themselves into their stories. This is especially true of me. Well, not the enhanced abilities part of Ruthorford, but other things. In this story, a young woman finds herself in a strange town with no memory of her past or present. In reality, I am missing a year of my life. I found out when someone showed me pictures of that time and I had no memory of it. I sought professional help and even tried hypnotherapy, to no avail. I don’t know if it was from the trauma of my mother’s death or from several falls off of my horse, but a year is gone. And, trust me, having others tell you about it, doesn’t help. You then have their memories, not yours. So, with this in mind, enjoy an excerpt of Silent Warrior.
Silent Warrior by Shanon Grey
She glanced over at her dashboard where her phone sat in its cradle, the screen blank. She tightened her grip on the steering wheel and took a deep breath, still hesitating, hoping the conditions would improve, saving her from having to call. They didn’t.
Steeling herself, she said, “Call home.” Silence.
Her voice stronger, she commanded, “Call home!” Again, silence.
“Call 911.” Nothing.
“Call anyone.” She could hear the plea in her voice.
Her GPS had dutifully gotten her this far. She’d been following it since she’d gotten off the interstate outside of Atlanta. It had looked like a good state road, well-marked, wide. That was until she drove straight into the wall of snow. One moment the air and ground were clear, except for the last of the fall leaves on the ground and, the next, she was driving through a whirlwind of snow, fast covering the ground, as well as the road. The next time she’d looked at the phone, the screen was blank. She’d thought about stopping and turning around, but figured it was Georgia, how much snow could there be. Yet, the snow kept coming and the houses got fewer and farther from the road.
She kept thinking about that snow wall. From the top of the hill she’d come over, the road had stretched out in front of her like a bright ribbon, trees lining both sides, the fall colors covering the trees and ground. What looked like a fog bank had formed on the other side of the bridge ahead of her—not an uncommon occurrence when the temperatures changed as suddenly as they had in the past few hours. She crossed the bridge and drove through what appeared to be a sheer wall of air, making her ears pop. On the other side, however, everything had suddenly turned white. That’s when she realized her GPS was no longer giving her directions and her phone wasn’t responding. Feeling her panic rise, she rationalized—her destination couldn’t be more than ten or fifteen miles ahead, and she’d certainly brazened worse.
Trying to relax, she studied the scenery. It was magical, the rolling hills and the black fencing against the white. At least what she could see of it. As she drove under a low hanging branch, snow dropped onto her windshield, obscuring her vision. She hit the brakes. Several things seemed to happen all at once. The windshield wiper cleared enough on the right side of the window for her to see the bright yellow sign with a zigzagging black arrow on it. She heard a screeching sound overhead, with a melodious whistle seeming to answer from far away, and her car started to skid.
“Oh, shit!” she swore as the car left the road, slid down the drop-off, and slammed into a tree. The airbag deployed and everything went black.
Sim heard the owl screech and sent a whistle out in response, expecting to hear the great white owl call out in answer. He stopped and listened. Nothing. Normally, it would circle above him calling out any danger. It had been a long time since that had happened. With Dorian and Morgan ensconced in The Shoppe of Spells as the official GateKeepers and Eryk and Jasmine close by as backup, the owls flew quietly, enjoying being owls. He figured they’d earned their leisure, having kept Ruthorford and its surrounding lands protected and safe for almost two centuries. But they still flew and they still watched. And—they remained his friends.
He started tromping through the snow once more, the long stick he took on his hikes giving just the tiniest bit of added stability. Not that he needed it. He could balance on the head of a pin, his aunts teased him. Looking around, he stopped and took a deep breath. The land rolled out before him like a white carpet, undulating down the dormant lavender fields. The snow flew in swirls, spinning and dancing in the wind. The slight hum of the air moving through the trees surrounded him. In the distance he heard the owl. Not the screech warning of the Gulatega but something else. He looked to the sky, whistled, and waited. The faint sound of wings moving in from the west made him turn. The great snowy owl swooped down, circled him, and flew up, almost disappearing into the fat flakes of snow whirling about. Once more, the owl called and swooped down, this time gliding off toward the west. Sim closed his eyes, and when he opened them, the world around him had taken on a different look—brilliant colors shimmering through what now appeared as just a thin fog. He spotted the aura of the owl and, picking up his walking stick, took off at a run, following the owl. With long, fast strides, he raced across the pasture until the owl disappeared into the woods. At the edge, he stopped and whistled. The owl responded on the other side, near the road. Sim blinked and the world returned to a silvery white and he picked his way through the dense woods.
The lights from the vehicle hit his face and he raced toward them. The angle was off, pointed more toward each other than ahead. That’s when he saw the tall tree rising in the middle, the headlights bent around it. The owl, sitting atop the roof, chortled twice, stretched its broad wings, and took to the air. He let out two low whistles in thanks and moved around the car.
Smoke rose from the hood. It took several hard tugs on the door of the small SUV before it opened. A girl lay to the side, across the console. He pulled off his glove, at the same time closing and reopening his eyes to adjust his vision, and scanned her as he put his fingers to the side of her neck. Her pulse was a bit thready, but her aura, although spiking a bit, didn’t indicate any major trauma. Sim patted her arm. When he got no response, he pulled her upward. They needed to get away from the vehicle.
As he was jockeying her unconscious body around in the car, she moaned, turned, looked at him, screamed, and immediately fell unconscious once more. Great. It would have been one hell of a lot easier had she been awake and helping. The angle of the car, the slope of the ravine, and the door, all thwarted his movements. He swung her legs out of the car and stepped back. Rubbing his hands together, he watched the energy spike between them. Still concentrating, he lessened the energy and clasped his hands tighter, feeding the energy back into his body. He grasped the steering wheel and shoved it up, out of the way. He unhooked her seat belt and put one arm under her legs and one behind her back and lifted her out, backing up the ravine. Once on the road, he started running toward town, through the ever-swirling snow, giving only the slightest flinch as the car behind him exploded into flames.
I hope you enjoyed this short except of Silent Warrior, a Ruthorford suspense, perfect for the new year. It is available in digital and print on your favorite devices and at Amazon, as well as others through Smashwords.
Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3qIrEmG
Smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1058868