Dreadful: Wolves in the Ice (Free Version)
So, for those of you who attended Louisville Super Con, I promised a free version of Dreadful: Wolves in the Ice. I was under the impression that I could send mass emails with attachments through my host/website tool, Wix, but that isn't the case. So instead I'm posting the entire story on the website for free! Everyone on my email list will be informed about this... and no one else, at least as far as the near future is concerned.
If you want to download a Kindle version of the story, Click Here, it is only $.99 and it is much easier to keep where you were in the story between reading sessions.
Last thing before you delve into the blood soaked world of Dreadful, I have that Indiegogo going at the moment to help turn The BulletProof Ghost Novel series into a comic book series. Click Here to pledge for great, unique rewards.
Text and Photo Copyright © 2018 by Jacob Harris (Jake dh)
Cover Art Copyright © by Jacob Harris (Jake dh)
All rights reserved. No part of this book or story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission from the publisher/author.
Dreadful™ created by Jacob Harris (Jake dh)
Cover Illustration by Scott Loesch
Edited by Tim Heerdink
Cover Formatting by Jake dh
Author Photo by Susan Hayes
To my ChloWorm
Brightening All of My Days From Here On
Lynn sat at the bar in the dingy tavern, staring at the liquor selection. The bottles were lined up and sorted by type and quality. In this place, the quality wasn't spectacular, but it got the job done. She fought back tears as she drank her final mixed drink of the night. She needed to drive, and besides, she didn't fly back home to get drunk in this shit hole and cry.
It really hadn’t been home in over ten years. She didn’t realize how small Eleveson was until she left Alaska. The place didn’t have over three hundred people living within city limits. Lynn started to think about the hill down the street. Her brother used to take her there to ride down on that metal sled he loved. That thing was probably a hell of a lot more dangerous than they realized, but so were most toys back then. Made of metal, which begged for a sharp edge to form. Unintended cuts and tetanus would follow if they didn’t keep an eye on the wear and tear.
Lynn sipped on her Bloody Mary, which was normally a morning drink, but she really wanted one. The night hadn’t quite arrived yet. It was her guilty pleasure when she was upset. The tomato juice and vodka slid down her throat when she noticed the guy at the end of the bar smiling at her. Shit, she thought. This guy was going to hit on her. She really didn't want this right now, but she did come to a bar. She thought the parka would be enough to keep the locals from trying to get up on her. She was wrong.
The man came over and sat next to her. She expected him to smell like whiskey and smoke, but he actually smelled pleasant. What came out of his mouth was not. "Hey, pretty lady," he said, slurring his speech. “What brings you up here? You don't look like a native, honey,” he was uncomfortably close to her.
Lynn sighed but decided to humor this guy before she left. “Technically, neither of us are natives, big guy,” she motioned to his pale-skinned face, “but in the way you mean it, you would be wrong. I used to live about three miles from here.” She sipped her drink. “That was a long time ago.”
The man chuckled. “You sound sad, honey. I’mma goin' hunting tonight. You should go with me,” he said a lot louder than she thought he meant to. His hand moved to the small of her back. “We'll have some fun.”
Lynn guided his hand away from her. “I need to leave. Another drink, and I won't be able to drive.” She got up and moved toward the door. “You probably shouldn't drive at all. Maybe walk home or call someone?”
The man nodded. “Yeah, maybe I'll get a ride to my hunting spot near Elk's Clearing,” he basically yelled at her. Several of the patrons’ heads whipped around in reaction to his loud declaration. A few of them kept staring at him after the others had moved on to whatever drunken conversations they were having beforehand.
Lynn left the bar shaking her head. She opened the door to the outside. The wind howled. Snow swirled around through the air and into the bar. This probably wasn’t the worst of what was coming. Lynn needed to get to the cabin as quickly as possible.
The parka clad woman looked back into the bar. That guy was hitting on another woman. Sloppy and stumbling, he said basically what he had screamed at her. He took another long drink of… something brown and dark. She knew that guy was going to get himself killed. He was either going to wreck whatever shit-heap he drove or shoot himself accidentally. Hopefully he would only shoot himself. It wasn't her job to make sure he got home okay. She had her own problems. Lynn forced the door shut.
Lynn swore she would never come back to Alaska. She hated this place. The cold, it got to her. She had spent the last eleven years where the weather shifted and got used to semi-normal seasons. Her dad would have taken the term ‘normal’ personally. He loved Alaska and was heartbroken when she left to live her own life. She couldn't stay forever, Lynn told him. She didn't think that would be the last time she saw him. She couldn’t have known.
The storm was getting intense. These rural roads were hell on a good day, but this was not a good day… well, night at this point. She just wanted to get to her dad's cabin. He left it to her in his will. It was the only thing he left her. Lynn's brother got everything else. Of course, he did. Her brother never left. Derrick was perfect, and everyone in the family just loved him. His only sister, not so much.
Lynn needed to be alone after what happened in New York. After what Allun did, she just needed to be away from everyone. Just for a while. She started to cry again. “Goddammit,” she said out loud. “You're not going to let him hurt you anymore,” she said, wiping the moisture from her cheeks.
She was having a hard enough time seeing without crying her eyes out. The snow was really picking up. She slowed down below twenty miles per hour. Her headlights could barely cut through the white static in front of her.
THUD! Lynn heard it. She felt it. Her bumper collided something. Oh my god, she thought. Lynn eased on her brakes to come to a controlled stop. Even if she hit someone, slamming on her brakes and sliding around wildly was likely to get her killed too. Did she hit a person? Surely not. Who the hell would be out in this blizzard? No, she thought. Lynn exited her car. Snow and ice hit her in the face with a dozen little stings. She pushed her way through the blistering wind and sleet.
The figure on the ground looked like a person, “Oh shit. No, no, no,” she said frantically. "Mister?" She could tell it was a man as she crept closer, and she noticed he was breathing. She felt a bit relieved, but he could still be seriously injured.
She noticed something else as she was right on top of him. The man was naked. Completely buck-ass naked. "The hell?" She bent down to check his pulse. He isn't going to last long like this, she thought. Why the hell is he naked? Maybe this is like a mob hit or something. Alaska style. Throw someone out in a blizzard and let them freeze. That's silly, she dismissed the idea. It didn't matter. She needed to get him in the car and get him to a hospital.
The man's eyes sprang open, and he leapt up to his feet. The naked man grabbed Lynn’s arms and slammed her against the car. He was so strong. “What the hell happened? Who are you?” he said, shaking his head. He tried to clear his head from the car impact. “Did you hit me with your goddamn car?”
“It was an accident. I couldn't see. Are you okay?” she squeaked out. She was scared for a totally new reason now. This guy was crazy. She tried to wriggle out of his grasp, but his hands acted like vice grips. Not just for a naked skinny guy in the middle of a blizzard but strong for any person. She couldn’t budge an inch.
The man let go of her and grabbed his head. With her newly acquired freedom, Lynn backed up as the man yowled into the frigid night, "It's too late," he said, whipping his head around. His eyes shifted from brown to a glowing bright yellow. "I put it off for too long. I can't control it." Lynn heard bones cracking in the man's body as he screamed in agony. "Guess you'll have to do, lady." He gave her a sinister stare as his incisors grew a few inches in front of her eyes. Blood started to pour out of the man's mouth as the tendons and muscles in his body shifted in a grotesque manner. The skin next to his toothy grin split from the side of his cheek as he let out an inhuman shriek. A distorted howl.
Lynn ran to her driver's side door. The contorted, naked man was distracted as he... whatever was happening to him. She put her foot on the accelerator as hard as she could but only spun out. Lynn momentarily forgot what it was like to drive in real snow. The frantic woman gently put her foot down and got traction. Lynn went around the man as she swore she saw his head was stretching. Every inch of change audibly fractured his bones and ripped his flesh. His teeth were sharp and jagged. Those yellow eyes burned through her with insatiable hunger.
Whatever the hell was going on, Lynn was getting out of here. She was well on her way. Suddenly, she felt another impact. This time on the back of her car. Like something had slashed her rear left tire. She span 180 degrees. Lynn just held on as she had zero control over the spinning chaos. She closed her eyes until she heard the clatter of shattered glass and denting metal. Lynn swore she was screaming, but it didn’t seem to rise above the chaotic crashing around her.
Lynn felt blood flow down her face. Some of the glass hit her like a shotgun blast. She saw that the passenger side had hit a tree and shook the dizziness from her head. She needed to get the hell out of here. She reached for the door with her bleeding hand. Blood smeared on the handle as she fumbled the door open.
Lynn saw her rear tire as she fell into the snow, still off balance from the impact. It had been ripped open. Were those claw marks? She looked around. The snow was coming down even harder, but she somehow could feel that the contorted man could still be after her.
Her father's cabin couldn't be more than half a mile east into the woods. She could make it. She knew it. Lynn put one foot in front of the other, wrapping herself in the only blanket she had, and headed into the white nothingness.
Lynn attempted to run now. As fast as her legs could propel her through the snowstorm. She knew these woods well enough. She spent a lot of time here as a kid, but a lot had changed. Lynn just needed to keep running. Her hand reached into the front pocket of her coat. Lynn searched for her cell phone. She hadn't even thought about calling someone. No one was going to be able to get to her soon, but it was worth a shot. She kept looking up at the path in front of her. Running face first into the frozen bark of a sturdy tree is the last thing she wanted. Lynn looked at her cracked screen. It must had been damaged in the crash. Hoping the smart phone would still work, she frantically tapped her call function.
Lynn brushed her red hair out of her face as she dialed 911. There was a voice on the other end. “Hello,” Lynn tried to yell over the wind, “I'm near Elk’s Clearing. There's been an accident.” She couldn't hear the person on the other end. It wasn't likely they could hear her. "Shit!" Whether it was the wind or the damage to the phone, help wasn’t coming.
Lynn shoved her slightly damaged phone into her coat. She remembered that the drunk asshole said he was going to be at Elk’s Clearing. "No," she said. It was worth a shot. The guy might have a gun. If that naked... thing was still after her, then a gun would come in handy.
Lynn made a slight detour to the right. She trudged through the two-foot deep snow. The crunching of the already freezing snow was all she could hear for a moment. She focused on pushing her way to the clearing. It was the only thing that mattered.
That's when she heard snarling. Through the howling wind, she heard an animal growling. Lynn span around to see those yellow eyes. Even through the swirling dots of white, she could see those eyes. It was all she could see as she quickly turned around to sprint toward that clearing.
Lynn tripped over a downed tree as she stumbled through the woods into the clearing. The snow was starting to let up. She could hear herself think for a moment and shook the snow off of her head as she heard a voice further into the clearing.
“The bloody hell?” the voice called out. The man's accent was distinctively British. “What are you doing here?”
She made out the man's face. The asshole from the bar? It was indeed the man from the bar, but he wasn't disheveled and drunk. He was in an insulated trench coat with a sock hat w