Dogs are amazing creatures, they have shared our history with us for tens of thousands of years. They have been faithful, loving companions who share our hearths, guard our property, even fight alongside us. And they do this in spite of how poorly, even cruelly, they are treated by people. Their very nature is to love and it takes a great deal to break that bond.
But Thomas DiLuna has enlisted their aid in a crusade of his own. He sees them very differently than others do, and now he is turning them to service in his own cause. A cause no less than to topple the reign of humankind on earth.
Man’s best friend just changed his mind.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The idea has been in my mind for several years. I'm a previoously published (traditionally) young adult author. This is my first foray into the horror, adult genre. My great love of dogs, my own philosophies and an imagining of what could be were the driving forces behind my sitting down to actually write the novel.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My personal background is varied and the characters came to me as a combination of people I have known and others I have 'known about'. Having been a teacher in middle school and written for them, I felt it was time to write for others as well. With that intent, I cast back in my memories through all those people I've known, or maybe just seen and formed opinions about to create my composite characters.
She cautiously picked her way under the cover of darkness through the high desert landscape between the buildings and her car. It was utterly black with nothing to guide her except starlight. She had chosen a moonless night and did not even dare a flashlight, moving slowly and deliberately, wincing at every tiny sound she made. One misstep, one sound loud enough for them to hear, the alarm would be raised and the yard lights would come on. And it would be over. She had one chance, this chance.
It took seemingly forever, but she reached the car and quietly, slowly, opened the door. She had earlier left it unlocked and moved the interior dome light setting to ‘off’. Easing behind the wheel, she fumbled for the ignition with the keys she had clutched all the way from the main building. Clutched to the point her fingers were palsied and shaking. Just let me get it started, that’s all I need and then…
The ignition clicked with the lifeless sound of a dead battery.
No! No, it can’t be! Nothing was on, I started it just hours ago!
“Andrea? Going somewhere?” The voice was soft, velvety and yet pulsed with menace. She stifled a shriek but her terror was obvious.
“T-Thomas! Oh, you scared me. N-no, I was just checking the car. I- I had been out earlier and couldn’t remember if I had closed the door, if I had closed it right. I-I-I hadn’t, the light must’ve drained the battery.”
“Why were you checking it, my dear? Care of the vehicles isn’t your function here.”
“Yes, yes, you’re of course right, I just thought I would make Tino’s job easier, I had been the last one to use the car and thought I would take responsibility for making sure it was in order.” She forced a strangled smile, unsure if even his eyes could see her blanched face in the dark.
A soft chuckle came from the form just outside the door. “Well, that didn’t go very well, did it? Good intentions aside, it appears you’ve made Tino’s job more difficult.” He paused. “It is good to know of your purpose, I thought- possibly- you might be trying to leave the facility under cover of dark, perhaps?” Other forms emerged in the dark, lower to the ground, even harder to see. Forms that moved with a sinuous grace.
Her blood froze even as her heart pounded. “T-Thomas, Thomas, please!” her voice squeaked. “I-I don’t want to be a part of this anymore. Please let me go, p-please! I won’t tell anyone about anything! I won’t betray you, I swear it!”
“Then why try to leave under cover of darkness?” The voice in the darkness purred with soft malice. “Why prepare the car in advance? Why turn off the interior lights?”
Oh, God, she realized then that one of those things had been outside and had seen her, ratted her out to DiLuna. “Anyway, no need to concern yourself about the car; it should start again just fine after the battery cable is put back.”
Terror rose. She whimpered an apology, begged for another chance. She wouldn’t do this again, she promised, promised she wouldn’t…
“No,” he replied icily, “I fancy you won’t. Cain!”
Cain! No, no! Not that one, where? Something moved in the back, something that had been there in the dark all along. Something that heaved itself up over the back of the seat. She opened her mouth to scream but a lightning movement, a slash, and all that came out was a liquid gurgle. A metallic odor filled the clear, crisp air. Blood sprayed across the dash and the inside of the windshield, even more so as she convulsed multiple times before her eyes glazed over, then slumped across the steering wheel as life left her body.
Thomas DiLuna stood silently, unmoved for the unfortunate victim. Not even two years she had given in his service caused him even so much as a flicker of regret.
“Fa’her?” the voice was rough, deep, throaty.
“Wah we do wif her?”
DiLuna had already decided that matter. “Seth, bring up the supplies.” Dark forms eased to his side producing a bottle of alcohol and a can of gas. “She can’t just disappear, there will be questions, people will come around. That, we cannot have.” That damned sheriff will come around. A syringe was produced. As the bottle of whiskey couldn’t be poured down what was left of her throat, DiLuna injected the needle into a vein and forced the contents into her lifeless form. He popped the hood and gave orders to reconnect the battery cable. In minutes, he and Cain were driving toward the Gorge, the lifeless form shoved to one side. The car came to a stop and was left idling. He pulled his former assistant’s body upright behind the wheel and strapped her in, her blood all over his clothing. He snorted his disgust, shaking it from his hands; his clothing would need to be burned straight away. He chucked the half empty bottle onto the passenger seat, shifted the car into drive, and slammed the door. “Good-bye, Andrea.” Headlights played over dry grasses until their light was lost in the void.
Taos Gorge is a chasm cut by the Rio Grande, the town of Taos itself lying several miles to the south. At the point of the bridge, popular as a tourist attraction and unfortunate home to many suicides, it plunges over six hundred feet below. Here, at DiLuna’s facility, it was still more than four hundred feet, four hundred feet onto boulders along the river.
The car arced into the darkness, plummeted, turning end-over-end, and struck. Struck and erupted into, in DiLuna’s view, satisfying flame. She had been drinking would be the report, he told himself, and the flames would obscure or even obliterate any trace of the real cause of death. He doubted the authorities would look too closely into the matter, anyway. People died in drunken accidents up here all the time and this would be looked at as just another. Perhaps they would even rule it a suicide.
A form slid up through the darkness. “Fa’her?” A different voice this time, somehow more refined.
“Andrea gone. Who do her work?”
“No one, Seth, no one.” He smiled to himself. He had needed to do something about her anyway since her utility had expired. “We no longer need her. We’re almost ready.”
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