Release Date: February 5, 2014
Publisher: Solstice Shadows Publishing
“Okay, girls,” Coach Spencer yelled above the chatter around me. “We’re going to get warmed up for this year with a little run around the outer track.” She gestured toward a field off to the right of the building. I could see a dirt track wending its way along the edge, disappearing into a copse of stubby trees and scrub brush at the far end. “Four laps,” Spencer added. A general groan went up, and I was glad that the discussion at lunch had distracted me from eating too much. Late August in Texas is hot.
“Well?” the coach said. “Get going!”
We started off at a trot toward the field, many of the girls around me still complaining. For a moment, I considered hanging back with the crowd, but Andrew had told me that Spencer coached the girls’ track team. I wanted to impress her. So I stretched my legs out as I hit the track and settled in to a long stride, my breathing still easy.
The afternoon sun beat down on my head. I watched the small grove grow closer, anxious for some shade. By the time I hit the bend in the track that led into the thicket, I was yards ahead of the rest of the runners—so when I rounded the curve and tripped over the body, I was all alone.
It didn’t take long for everyone else to catch up, but it seemed like an eternity as I scrambled back, crab-like. It took a moment for my brain to translate the messages my eyes were sending it—the images coalesced slowly, like one of those magic pictures with the 3D images inside.
He had been stretched out spread-eagle across the trail, head and feet half-concealed in the brush on either side. Blood pooled around him, sticky and half-dried at the edges. His shirt had been ripped open and a slash opened him from his throat to his stomach.
As the other girls rounded the bend, I realized that the high, keening noise in the background was the sound of my own screaming. As soon as I realized it, I stopped, but several of my classmates picked up where I left off.
My hands and knees were coated with blood where I had landed; my skin was tacky with it. I crawled over to the nearest bush and vomited.
Coach Spencer shoved her way through the girls and stuttered to a stop, her hand to her mouth. “Oh, God,” she said. “It’s Cody Murphy.”
Margo Bond Collins is the author of a number of novels, including Waking Up Dead, Fairy, Texas, and Legally Undead (forthcoming in 2014). She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.
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