New book. Follow along with Jack as he writes, in real time! Here is chapter one if you missed it. Now here is chapter two.
by JACK DEY
A whisper from the wilderness calling.
Miles from help and with no possibility of rescue, Caylin froze like a petrified child enchained in a bizarre dream, while things intensified rapidly around him. Peering over the satin cover and wondering whether he would ever see the light of dawn, the shadow bent its form to fit the shape of the cobweb-ridden and open joist ceiling to parts of the sagging wall, then down to the rotting floor timbers to where he and Lisa were lying.
Whatever or whoever these intruders were, they had become bolder and he suspected they were using the prop of their vehicle’s strong headlights piercing the window glass, to fashion an escapade into the room and project panic onto the cottage’s decaying back wall. Violently intimidated, Caylin shuddered, recognising that the coup was working and he was just too afraid to move or show his face above the protection of the timeworn window frame. Traversing between waking Lisa and pulling the covers up over his head, Caylin hoped that the situation would simply fix itself and go away. But another grating screech assaulted the tin roof and put an end to that hope.
The still air ignited into a dry and prickly canvas, crackling the tension in the cottage and forcing Caylin’s terrified body to flinch with fright. It seemed that whoever was making the attack knew exactly what they were doing, twisting the ethereal rules of engagement far above his capabilities, and the more he procrastinated, the deeper the quandary sank. As bravery’s golden lustre tarnished and transformed into a yellowing shade of fear, Caylin began to wonder… could he ever possibly make a manly defence of his sleeping wife, or would saving his own skin become the sole focus of his endeavour, hiding under the blankets while the villains did and stole whatever they chose?
Stiff with dread and ridden with chaotic thoughts, Caylin tried to decide which would be the worst of the two evils to confront… the shadowy intruder – outside, or the highly strung and unpredictable feline autocrat he’d married – inside. As the stalemate progressed even further, Caylin’s mind degenerated into a dichotomy of paralysis and latent energy, scrambling on the verge of shameless screaming. Yet nothing penetrated Caylin’s craven armour, his highly tuned self-preservation mechanism and intolerance to personal pain, faster than a perceived criminal taking an innocent to the cleaners. In this case, the perceived innocent was him, and it was then that the courtroom lion began to stir, as it did when he was defending a downtrodden client helpless in the grip of a corporate monster and pleading with the misgivings of law while relying on Caylin’s wit to bring justice.
Scrambled by impossible thoughts and with his superhero cape tangled around his throat and threatening to choke him, Caylin once again became the embodiment of the courtroom lion. Not only fearless, but expected to be, he soared high above his timidity with vehement passion, mentally taking down his opponents with unbridled argument and cunning… or whatever tactics seemed to fit at the time. Then again, that was the gymnastic and protected world of courtroom theatre, and not the playing fields of realism and the dominion of actual criminality.
When Lisa offered an unconscious snort, it almost seemed she was reminding him that the rise of the courtroom lion was directly attributed to her, and her intense desire to make him a worthy meal ticket. It was she who coached him in ruthlessness, tutoring him in the schoolroom of belittlement and posturing, while using a cursive knife to slice apart his character in everything Caylin attempted to do. As her protégé, Caylin watched and learnt everything Lisa taught with impassioned audacity and attention to detail. The zeal to impress her overwhelmed and fed Caylin’s appetite to win, and apply the same belittlement tactics against the opposing counsel and their quaking clients. Sometimes crossing a line and becoming more criminal in his approach, than those he was seeking to prosecute.
Comfortable In his natural environment and with little left of the conscience he’d been endowed with at birth, Caylin had become a force to be reckoned with and a ferocious adversary. He enjoyed every part of the courtroom fight, while inflicting retribution onto those he considered criminal bullies, people who represented the twisted face of fear in his past. Intoxicated with the kill, Caylin smelt the scent of legal blood and pounced, creating the carnage and the financial rewards Lisa expected. Little did he suspect that the same lust for wealth and prestige would eventually devour him, as well.
Bowing the knee to his wife’s ruthless idol, Caylin pushed her unrestrained desire to lofty heights, while Lisa created a new weapon for use in Caylin’s arsenal. Unlike his services, the dimension of fees were on a sliding scale, always ascending with the degree of difficulty and the subsequent success in the win, while making Lisa a fortune and a semi-satisfied woman… until the next fanciful and expensive fad caught her attention.
Driven by the force to succeed and the hope that at some point he would appear like an equal in Lisa’s eyes, Caylin had stooped to become counsel for many more criminals than he’d like to admit. On the flip side, they paid him well, making the offering at Lisa’s feet just a little easier to achieve, but inadvertently, he’d opened the prison door and perhaps allowed the criminals to walk away from many recriminations they probably should not have.
Smirking in the face of fantasy and gaining a sense of courage, Caylin’s mind turned to the expensive silver BMW parked some distance from the room and left to suffer in the elements of the open air. Something he would never usually consider, or do. The vehicle represented the only highly prized remnant of the once privileged existence he took for granted, until Lisa changed the rules and forced him to leave his business partnership and the comfortable and prosperous city life behind.
Locked within its electronic security, briefcases containing their personal details, bank account information and deeds to the property, along with copious amounts of liquidated cash… proceeds of every conceivable possession that he’d ever owned. Lisa had viciously and meticulously auctioned off to the highest bidder, the contents of his affluent life and the identity he worked so hard to sculpture. But any vehicle security, no matter how sophisticated the price tag, was only as good as the integrity of the glass windows that kept the thieves at bay. The thought of criminal types violating his beloved car and the remains of his former life created a cold sense of indignity, inflaming the courtroom lion and pushing him through the bars of his fearful prison, preparing for an all-out assault… whatever that was supposed to look like.
Taking a sideways glance at Lisa to see if she was awake and somehow clandestinely tracking the event, another gentle snort gave away her condition and left Caylin in no doubt. If his car and any semblance of a future were to remain within his grasp, he had to act now and without any assistance from her. Grasping the phone for light and reaching for his keys, Caylin suspected that his opulent toy had drawn attention from opportunistic bandits, and in so doing, they would stumble upon a small fortune. Although they were isolated and many scores of miles from the closest town, the vehicle stood out like a beacon on a dark sea, tempting any thug, with a come-and-get-me sign written all over its expensive paint.
Suddenly, the shadow began to advance and displayed like a massive scorpion against the cottage walls, until a desperate distress call abruptly bellowed out into the night and from the direction of the BMW, sending Caylin’s mind into a panic. With staccato claxons blaring and piercing LED lights flashing amber and then red, the circus reflected against the cottage walls as the troubled machine offered its own defence. In the process of self-preservation, the vehicle calamity awoke the deadly lioness from her sleep.
Incensed by the interruption and the cacophony loud enough to wake the dead, Lisa brazenly grabbed at a set of keys of her own. Immediately the outcry ceased, silenced by a deliberate stab at a sophisticated remote and without a single thought… something might be wrong. Staring in disbelief but noticing that all light had evaporated, Caylin suspected the intruder had met its match in the blaring deterrent designed into the opulent car, and had fled the scene in haste.
“Someone was out there, Lisa,” Caylin rasped, whispering harshly into the darkness.
“Don’t talk nonsense, Caylin! You can’t scare me! That stupid vehicle should’ve been sold when I told you to! Now it’s acting up and costing me money every moment you hold onto it!” Lisa chafed impertinently, lifting her voice, just in case any would-be-attacker dared to take her on.
Lost for words against an avalanche of scorn, Caylin retreated into silence just as a malicious paradox rattled his mind. If the situation was reversed and it was Lisa who was in trouble and not his beloved car, could he ever consider coming to her aid, or would he just simply leave her to defend herself and ultimately be the recipient of desperate criminal actions? However, Caylin had no plans to intentionally put himself in that position to find out. Huffing sarcastically and knowing he was being diminished again in her eyes, the insult left Caylin detached. Somehow he knew… she would always escape as the victor in any circumstance and leave the criminals licking the deep, clawing wounds inflicted by Lisa’s stinging tongue.
Intensely frustrated with the interruption to her sleep and squinting as Caylin shone his torchlight around, Lisa’s torso once again dropped to the mattress. “Are you going outside to investigate, Caylin?!” Lisa spat mockingly. “No! I didn’t think so! What was I thinking?!”
Wearied of being treated like a coward, Caylin’s indignity exploded, throwing off the sheet and angrily heading for the door.
Somewhat surprised but full of disdain, Lisa retaliated, “Give my regards to the boogieman, Caylin. Perhaps you’d rather sleep with your car tonight and hold its hand! I hope she appreciates you!”
Pulling hard against the cottage’s front door, its timbers rigidly stiff and bowed hard against the floorboards, Caylin eventually overcame its resistance with a heave and a deeply offended s-c-r-a-p-e before tentatively heading through its opening and into the waiting terrors of the night. Were the intruders still here and where would they be hiding?! Caylin began to second-guess his disgruntled actions.
Lingering on the porch and lifting his phone above his head, he hoped the struggling light could somehow impersonate the sun and expose everyone of Lisa’s purported boogiemen. Straining his eyes and peering into the darkness beyond the limited glow, Caylin attempted to identify shapes before they became hostile threats. Listening to the timid warning voice echoing around inside his head, he agreed to loiter before attempting any further exploration. Heart pumping and mind on high alert, Caylin finally took a step onto the disintegrating porch, trusting the strongest slat with a portion of his weight. Pausing, waiting and listening, the labouring floor timber made a suspicious complaint under the duress of his slender load and threatened to fracture, dumping his appendage onto the unseen ground below the porch’s splintered timbers.
“Shut… the door!” the intolerant lioness roared from the locale of the mattress, almost making him scream with the unexpected outburst. She seemed to enjoy watching Caylin look like a fool and squirming out of his comfort zone.
Swallowing the panic and obeying immediately, Caylin intentionally pounded the resisting door into its frame with an exuberant shove, in so doing bringing about a shower of dust from the cottage’s rafters. A not-so-subtle huff and a mumbled sneer sounded out from the vicinity of Lisa’s voice, signifying she was less than impressed with his efforts and about to blow a fuse. Quickly spinning on his heels but keeping the light above his head, Caylin searched again the limits of its beam, only to run directly into the first repulsive obstacle. Slung in its web and ready to defend itself, an enormous, black-bodied spider blocked his path, reflecting the intense light in its unmoving stare. Seeking a way around, but partially hypnotised by the ugly creature, Caylin’s light picked up on another sinister reflection, and it made him jump.
Beating like a drummer’s solo, his heart threatened to stop under the stress as he pondered the wisdom of his mission. Releasing the breath trapped in his lungs with a massive sigh, the BMW’s distant number plate made a connection with Caylin’s quivering mind and discounted the impression of something terribly sinister hiding close to the ground. Waiting for his courage to return, the quaking lawyer kept a wary eye on the massive spider and attempted to process a safe path to continue. Mentally sorting the first two threats into an acceptable file, Caylin began to hunt for the original ruckus and its shocking cause, but there appeared no signs of a criminal vehicle or the obvious intent they carried.
Avoiding the gaping holes knitted into the porch floorboards, Caylin stepped around until he found solid ground and then edged some distance into the ominous night. Turning a half-circle and concentrating his source of light back onto the cottage, a massive tree stood like a giant against the structure and spread its muscled limbs over the roof, identifying and expelling yet another of many unexplained terrors.
Nervously approaching the silenced BMW, Caylin searched the gravel for telltale signs, however, the stony ground, washed clean by eons of heavy rain, had retained little soil to report an imprint or anyone being remotely close to the car. Checking the vehicle’s security with a sweep of the light and convinced nothing was disturbed, he then concentrated the beam further out. Beyond the rim of the aureole, the tangible blackness may have been hiding a different scenario, but Caylin’s bravado was faltering and he was getting too far away from the safety of the cottage.
Staring up at a starless sky, nothing moved, not even a breath of wind, and trouble seemed to glow in the night. All around, static electricity sparked, too insignificant to be lightning, yet able to crackle the atmosphere with strange purple splotches, painting an eerie picture against the horizon and once again challenging Caylin’s mettle. Working up the nerve to extinguish the light for a clearer perspective, Caylin stood in the darkness, turning a full circle while his eyes accustomed to the night, but something in the ambience was wrong… dreadfully wrong!
Everywhere he turned, it felt like he was being watched, calculated and weighed up, but there appeared little physical evidence for the presence of a prowler or the powerful light he’d seen inside the cottage.
Far off in the distance, a flash ignited, pinpointing the epicentre of a silent battle, or perhaps an electrical storm was raging over some unfortunate outpost; but whatever was happening, it wasn’t good and Caylin had come to the limits of his valour. Waves of dread rippled over him as if something had grabbed at his spine, while the strangling oppression settled like smothering heat over his body, prompting the hairs to bristle on the back of his neck.
Losing the battle for courage, Caylin reignited the light as alarm toyed with his imagination, and the emotional tug-of-war sent the slender lawyer running for cover.