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Judith's Prophecy: Big Sky Terror, #1

Judith's Prophecy: Big Sky Terror, #1

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Judith's Prophecy: Big Sky Terror, #1

Length:
360 pages
13 hours
Released:
Sep 14, 2020
ISBN:
9781622537266
Format:
Book

Description

A small-town Montana vampire hunter seeks vengeance for his family's deaths, but when he learns of a string of ritualistic murders, he's forced to take on a different job: stopping an ancient apocalyptic prophecy.

From their off-grid campsite, Easy and Ben follow the trail of a bloodsucking syndicate boss. When the investigation leads to local disappearances, the duo discovers the aftermath of vampire rituals, and learns of an ancient prophecy.

Although Easy and Ben aren't sure if the prophecy is real, they know they must defeat the syndicate to stop the deadly rituals. If they fail, it may mean Hell on Earth for the rest of Judith, and the start of a long foretold vampire uprising.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS the first book in the chilling "Big Sky Terror" series, where horror comes to life in the great state of Montana. [DRM-Free]

BOOKS BY D.W. HITZ:

  • BIG SKY TERROR – Book 1: Judith's Prophecy
  • BIG SKY TERROR – Book 2: Judith's Blood
  • BIG SKY TERROR – Book 3: Judith's Fall (Spring 2021)

MORE GREAT HORROR FICTION FROM EVOLVED PUBLISHING:

  • The "Lorestalker" Series by J.P. Barnett
  • The "Writer's Block" Series by A.K. Kuykendall
  • "The Enigma of Twilight Falls" Series by Mike Robinson
  • "The Holocaust Engine" Series by David Rike & Stephen Patrick

 

 

Released:
Sep 14, 2020
ISBN:
9781622537266
Format:
Book

About the author

D.W. Hitz lives in Montana, where the inspiring scenery functions as a background character in his work. He is a lover of stories in all mediums. He enjoys writing in the genres of Horror, Supernatural/Paranormal Thriller, and Science Fiction/Fantasy. Originally from Norfolk, VA, D.W. has degrees in Recording Arts and Web Design and Interactive Media. He has been a creative his entire life. This creativity has driven him in writing, music, and web design and development. He aspires to tell stories that thrill the heart and stimulate the imagination. When not writing, D.W. enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, camping, and playing with the dogs.


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Judith's Prophecy - D.W. Hitz

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~~~

JUDITH’S PROPHECY

Big Sky Terror – Book 1

Copyright © 2020 D.W. Hitz

~~~

ISBN (EPUB Version): 1622537262

ISBN-13 (EPUB Version): 978-1-62253-726-6

~~~

Editor: Mike Robinson

Cover Artist: Richard Tran

Interior Designer: Lane Diamond

~~~

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:

At the end of this novel of approximately 73,097 words, you will find two Special Sneak Previews: 1) JUDITH’S BLOOD by D.W. Hitz, the next (second) book in this Big Sky Terror series of chilling horror thrillers, and; 2) THE BEAST OF ROSE VALLEY by J.P. Barnett, the multiple award-winning first book in the Lorestalker series of creature feature horror adventures. We think you’ll enjoy these books, too, and provide these previews as a FREE extra service, which you should in no way consider a part of the price you paid for this book. We hope you will both appreciate and enjoy the opportunity. Thank you.

~~~

eBook License Notes:

You may not use, reproduce or transmit in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews, or in accordance with federal Fair Use laws. All rights are reserved.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only; it may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return to your eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

~~~

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Books by D.W. Hitz

BIG SKY TERROR

Book 1: Judith’s Prophecy

Book 2: Judith’s Blood

Book 3: Judith’s Fall [Coming Spring 2021]

~~~

...and more to come after that.

Books 4-6 (a second trilogy in the greater series) are already in the planning stages.

~~~

www.DWHitz.com

BONUS CONTENT

We’re pleased to offer you not one, but two Special Sneak Previews at the end of this book.

~~~

In the first preview, you’ll enjoy the First 2 Chapters of the next (second) book in this Big Sky Terror series of chilling horror thrillers by D.W. Hitz, JUDITH’S BLOOD.

~~~

~~~

GRAB THE FULL EBOOK TODAY!

FIND LINKS TO YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER HERE:

The BIG SKY TERROR Series at Evolved Publishing

In the second preview, you’ll enjoy the First 2 Chapters of THE BEAST OF ROSE VALLEY by J.P. Barnett, the multiple award-winning first book in the Lorestalker series of creature feature horror adventures.

~~~

~~~

Barnett’s plot is clever and irresistible, and his book is a sheer pleasure to read. Horror, thriller and mystery fans alike will find much to their liking in this intriguing story about the unknown. The Beast of Rose Valley: Lorestalker #1 is most highly recommended. ~ Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews (5 STARS)

~~~

OR GRAB THE FULL EBOOK TODAY!

FIND LINKS TO YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER HERE:

The LORESTALKER Series at Evolved Publishing

Table of Contents

Copyright

Books by D.W. Hitz

BONUS CONTENT

Table of Contents

Dedication

JUDITH’S PROPHECY

Prologue

Chapter 1 – Tap ‘er Light

Chapter 2 – Boulders and Burials

Chapter 3 – Into the Borrow Pit

Chapter 4 – The Whiskey Ditch

Chapter 5 – A Great Falls Masquerade

Chapter 6 – A Hot-Headed Speed Goat

Chapter 7 – Spendy Horse Feathers

Chapter 8 – Pretty as a Peach

Chapter 9 – Midnight Hospitality

Chapter 10 – Queen City Escapades

Chapter 11 – Posse-Up

Chapter 12 – Hometown Parade

Chapter 13 – A Thunderhead Rising

Chapter 14 – A Prickly Pear Patch

Chapter 15 – Field-Dressing a Buffalo

Chapter 16 – Ballet in the Bush

Chapter 17 – Scrubbing Up with Sage

Chapter 18 – Sweet as Huckleberry Syrup

Chapter 19 – A Stranger in the Bunkhouse

Chapter 20 – The Hog Pen Stench

Chapter 21 – Gone to Slaughter

Chapter 22 – Sanitarium

Chapter 23 – From Hellrock with Love

Chapter 24 – A Bright Day under the Big Sky

Chapter 25 – A Small Stone

Chapter 26 – A Large Ripple

Chapter 27 – Skating through Slush

Chapter 28 – A Bushwhacker Siesta

Chapter 29 – Daguerreotypes and a Jockey Box

Chapter 30 – The Edge of a Frontier

Chapter 31 – Mount Judith Expedition

Chapter 32 – A Grizzly in Wolf’s Skin

Chapter 33 – Bitterroots and Sweet Dreams

Special Sneak Preview: JUDITH’S BLOOD by D.W. Hitz

Acknowledgements

About the Author

More from Evolved Publishing

Special Sneak Preview: THE BEAST OF ROSE VALLEY by J.P. Barnett

Dedication

For Christina,

for putting up with me.

~~~

For Wolf and Kaari,

for making me want to be better, every day.

Prologue

Seven and a Half Years Ago, miles beyond Mars.

Faint light from the approaching star reached the asteroid’s body, lighting dimples and crevices across its surface. Scars and battered fissures from its eons of travel had carved a worn face over its hard granite core. At a quarter-mile wide, it appeared to any Earth observers as little more than a speck.

The object rotated in a slow vertical roll, coming closer. Descending....

***

Seven years ago, Judith, Montana.

Easy Jacobs smelled waffles as he stepped into the kitchen. He heard a low mumble of voices around the corner from the den, one of which he recognized as a Pokémon repeating its name. It meant Lori, the thirteen-year-old babysitter from down the street, was already here and hanging with Bryan.

Maybe, just maybe, Easy would make it to work on time today.

Golden-oak trimmed cabinets circled the kitchen and stretched to the ceiling. Easy was sure it was the height of design in 1991 when the home was built. The wood matched the flooring, the walls, and the stairs, drawing in intimacy like a warm winter lodge. The home was a cozy corner—Easy, Sarah, and Bryan’s cozy corner.

Bryan giggled a two-year-old’s machine-gun laugh, and the smells and sounds of the summer morning made Easy smile. He took a travel mug from the cabinet and slid it beneath the Keurig. He loaded the machine with a dark roast and pressed the button.

Tugging at the collar of his black Polo, Easy inhaled the aroma of the first drips streaming into his cup.

Mr. Jacobs? Lori called from the den.

Yes, Lori?

Oh... just making sure that was you.

Yeah. Just me.

Easy rounded the counter that separated the kitchen from the dining room and its connected den. He cocked his head as he took in the sight of Bryan folded inside a wolf-print fleece blanket, bouncing up and down with excitement for the onscreen Pokémon.

You guys doing okay? Easy asked. You need anything?

Lori flung her long blonde locks around as she turned to him. Um, some cereal would be nice. Please?

Sure.

Easy took a step back toward the kitchen, and a sound, like a passenger jet, roared overhead. It struck Easy as strange, as jets didn’t fly on this side of town. He stopped and looked toward the ceiling. The sound grew louder, lowering in pitch and shaking the frame of the house. Pictures shook on walls. Dinnerware rattled inside cupboards, and glass clinked inside the china cabinet.

Mr. Jacobs? Lori looked around the room, wrapping her arms around the toddler.

It’s an earthquake! Come, stand in the doorway. He pointed to the pathway between the dining room and the sunroom then darted into the den, scooping up Bryan. In truth, it felt nothing like an earthquake, but he had to offer something, some plan to help the babysitter and his son.

Lori leaped from the floor, and the three raced toward the doorway. Easy held out his hand to guide her through the growing cacophony.

***

Sarah Jacobs’ hand was outstretched toward the handle of her Chevy Tahoe when the noise swelled from the sky. This morning, like most others, she was out the door a half an hour before Easy. And just like other mornings, her arms were balanced with her satchel, her purse, her coffee, and her keys as she headed toward her vehicle.

Then came the roar from above.

Sarah dropped her things on the concrete driveway and clasped her ears. The collapse of her items was as soundless as if they had fallen into a void. Her eyes searched up for the offender.

In the blue heavens above the Rockies, a golden fireball tore through the air. Its head grew larger and brighter. Its tail was white, then yellow, then orange, then black, reaching up into the nothingness. It was coming for her. Right at her. It was going to kill her.

Sarah’s knees went numb. She thought of Bryan, sweet Bryan. Her heart jumped. She thought of Easy and his reassuring embrace. Her eyes glanced at the house. She should go to them. But her legs wouldn’t move. Her eyes went back up. It was larger, closer, twice the size. How did it grow so fast? She could feel it, if only in her head. Its heat seemed to reach across the air between them and warm her face.

No, Sarah muttered. As the word squeaked out, her legs released, and Sarah sunk to the ground. Her eyes shuttered, flinching in anticipation, and the monstrous ball of fire shot over her head, over her neighborhood, over the town.

Sarah spun, and the two-mile-wide ball of flame crashed into the side of Mount Judith—the landmark mountain on the north side of town glowed as white as the unfiltered sun. It burst into an expanding sphere of golden flame that washed across the trees, the nature trails, and into the housing subdivision on the side of the ridge. The homes that were perched there above the town were swallowed by a howling wall of fire and wind. The roar forced Sarah to cover her face.

***

Easy held Bryan against his chest as a wave of pressure slammed through the house. A portrait of Easy and Sarah on their wedding day jumped from the wall next to the china cabinet. Easy watched his bride dive to the floor beside the dining room table and shatter into canvas and splinters. China jumped inside its cabinet. Cracks ripped the ceiling’s drywall. The kitchen clanged and banged inside its sink and cupboards.

And then there was silence.

Bryan wrapped his arms around as much of Easy’s shoulders as he could and buried his face in Easy’s chest. Lori huddled next to Easy in the doorway, cowering and looking up at an unseen sky.

Easy surveyed the house, holding the back of Bryan’s head in his palm. A moment of awe and gratitude enveloped him as he looked down at his son. Then the thought occurred to him that Sarah had just left the house a minute ago.

Easy charged toward the front door, Bryan riding in his arms. He grabbed the knob and yanked it inward, and in the doorway stood Sarah. Relief flooded over Easy. He took another step and wrapped his one available arm around her. He squeezed and hugged his family, and he saw Mount Judith over the homes across the street. His mouth dropped.

***

A quarter-mile below the Earth, blood dripped from the fangs of four keepers of the sacred cavern. Their meal flowed down their altar like a red river, along the curves of the sacrificial slab and between their thin thirsting lips. The slender beings drank without words, performing their duty as they did every day.

The paltry meal, a single human between four of them, barely satisfied their needs. It left as much wanting as the ritual did fullness.

Marisan fed farthest from the prophetic wall. His eyes had not seen light in nearly a hundred years, since before he had been assigned to the order. And now his retinas began to ache. Pain seared through his pupils, shoving him backward from the altar. Marisan squealed at the sensation.

Krus growled as his companion shrunk away within a bright rose light. He pulled his face from the altar. Liquid streamed down his jaw and his neck. His head turned until his gaze reached the wall and its four-story-tall scriptures.

Across the vast surface of the ancient blood-drawn words, light emerged, shining from each line of text and each illustrated entity. The rock walls, floors, and ceiling hummed in harmony with the illumination. The prophecy glowed brighter, and the rock vibrated harder, until the cavern was flushed with light, and the chamber roared with a deafening din.

The keepers shouted to each other in excitement, It’s time!

Chapter 1 – Tap ‘er Light

The vast sea of stars interrupted Easy’s focus with reminders of infinite possibilities ... until the canyon walls rose, and the stars went out, and he was haunted again by the memory of Hellrock Canyon. Haunted by that night when his life was ravaged and remade.

He remembered this road now. He remembered why he never came down here. Why he ignored the clues of a possible nest in the area. The trees and the beauty of this part of the forest were worthless when those memories came back, and he was forced into thinking of how similar it was to that wretched place.

There’s no time for that now. They’re gone. Focus on the job.

Diving deeper into the trees, the washboard-ribbed road rattled the white pickup’s interior. The calming scent of pine drifted through open windows but failed to penetrate Easy’s demeanor. As his headlights slid from one ponderosa to the next, Easy’s thoughts bounded between his memories, tasks, and objectives.

Most pressing tonight was finding Julia Carlisle. Three days prior, she had concluded her shift at Judith Credit Union, and no one had admitted to seeing her since. When the custodian at Custer Elementary School reported her broken-windowed and blood-stained Jeep for being illegally parked, Julia had become a local headline.

A Judith native, Julia’s disappearance gnawed at the threads of this tightly-woven community. There weren’t many families she hadn’t connected with, either through school, church, or volunteering at the Food Bank. The blonde-haired woman’s bright smile had been quickly plastered across the town’s news outlets and social media feeds, though Easy and few others understood the real danger she faced.

Easy swerved left and right, dodging potholes, as the air’s smell turned sour. He noticed his passenger, Ben DuBois, sink and shift in the bench seat at the rocking of the vehicle. Easy glanced over.

There it is, Easy said. Smell it?

Ben shook his head. This must be the way. God, you’d think they’d want to keep a lower profile. That smell is disgusting.

In the three years since Easy had interrupted a bloodsucker ambush on Ben and his family, Easy felt the two had grown into a pretty solid team. Easy excelled above Ben in taking down vampires, but Ben brought much-needed technical knowledge to the table. When it came to the job, they had learned to rely on each other and play to each other’s strengths.

Easy shifted in his seat. It makes me think it’s a nest of ferals.

I hate ferals. They always fucking stink. You’d think that would make it harder for them to hunt, you know—they’d starve to death, and we wouldn’t have to deal with them.

That’s why they’re feral. They can’t get enough food.

Whatever it is, their nasty. I swear, the first time I saw one, I thought it was a zombie.

Easy chuckled. You watch too many movies, my friend.

"I expand my mind." Ben smirked, as he brought his hands together and spread them back apart, opening his fingers wider and wider like a blooming mushroom cloud.

Okay, Ben. Expand away.

So, you think these guys will know anything about the big boss?

No way to know until we ask. Fingers crossed though, right?

Yeah.

I’ll bet they know something. Even the dumbest vampires know things. Living a long time is its own education. So, either Julia’s there, or they have some crumb of information we’re looking for. One way or another, we’ll make something out of this. Another rung up the ladder? Maybe. Just take them alive, then we’ll see.

The incoming odor grew, until the smell of rotting flesh and stale blood overpowered the forest’s pine perfume. It clung to Easy’s nostrils, sealed by dust from the gravel road.

As the abandoned Hendrix cabin’s deteriorating logs and shattered windows peeked through the trees ahead, Easy killed the headlights and stopped the pickup.

Let’s go to work. He turned off the engine, climbed from the rig, and quietly closed the door. He waited for Ben at the front of the vehicle and patted down his gear. Pistol, check. Mags, check. Sword, check. He slid a steel mesh glove over his left hand and yanked it until it felt firm. He stretched his fingers and clenched his fists.

Ben joined Easy, his pistol in hand. Alive, right? His loosely-hung backpack swiveled as Ben pivoted, scanning the trees.

Yeah. Easy stepped forward, toward the cabin. Take them alive.

The cabin squeaked softly as the cool night breeze jostled its rusted tin roof. In the lull between gusts, joists creaked and settled. Through its paneless windows, the trashed inner-remains of the Hendrix’s once-loved vacation spot could be seen. Broken furniture and spray-painted walls teased of high school parties and trespassing vandals.

The stench hung like a trail, leading Easy and Ben to a dirt path on the right side of the cabin. They followed drag-marks along the ground, to a set of downward-leading stairs. Across from the final step, a grayed plywood door blocked their path. The smell was near nauseating as Easy pulled back the door and exposed the bowels of the structure.

Easy peered into the blackness of the earthen-floored space and listened. There was no noise, nothing beyond his own measured breaths. He took a slow step inside, ignoring the quickened pace of the thumping within his chest. His pupils widened at the sight of a pair of black-clawed hands.

Nothing brings a man to attention like claws emerging from the dank and moldy dark.

Easy raised his sword, its blade glinting in the moonlight. He lunged forward and cleaved one clawed hand from its master before gliding down and removing the other. Flopping onto the ground, the severed hands’ digits curled inward, their inch-long claws piercing their palms.

The monster howled. Easy’s left hook cratered its jaw. His steel glove painted road rash across the right side of the thing’s face. It collapsed, unconscious and silent.

Something shuffled in the dirt to his left. He turned. Wet, yellow fangs flew from the darkness. Easy swung and bisected the bloodsucker’s skull. The vampire’s still-blinking head tumbled right. Its blood-gushing corpse crumpled forward.

Shit! Easy broke his silence.

I thought we wanted them alive, Ben said from the doorway.

We do. Sometimes you just react, you know.

Easy took a wide step right around the dead vampire’s head, avoiding the swelling pool of black blood. He paused, allowing the quietness of the room to permeate his ears. After a moment of silence, he said, Light.

Ben pulled a three-inch-wide ball from his pocket. He squeezed it until it clicked, and tossed the sphere into the center of the crawlspace. On impact, its LEDs lit and flooded the room in bright-white illumination.

Putrefying carcasses of wild game and long-missing locals lay at the base of the far wall. Their bones were intertwined, confusing where one corpse ended and another began. Maggots crawled in and out of chunks of clinging meat and fur, while segments of fractured skulls lay scattered about.

On the right, a nest of moldy clothing and blankets decorated the abandoned cabin’s basement. Quilts, shirts, towels, and coats, likely pillaged from their victims, were stacked in a rounded form and adorned with blood, mud, and dirt.

A feeding pit formed a deep, stiff, and sticky depression in the room’s center. It sunk into the earth like a bowl made from blood-enriched clay.

In the middle of the feeding pit’s depths: the body of Julia Carlisle, recently deceased. She wore dark blue-jeans with sparkling stones on the rear pockets and a white blouse, just as described in her missing person report. Her punctured and gnawed arms extended back toward the carcass pile. More than half of her forearms’ flesh had been removed, along with the meat of her calves.

Gagh! Ben’s face twisted in disgust. Fucking bastards.

Easy knelt over Julia’s corpse, breathing a slow, reluctant breath. He gently lifted her arms, setting them at her sides, and brushed her hair away from her neck. Rest in peace, Julia, Easy said, standing.

He swung his sword with an intended merciful grace, cleanly removing Julia’s head from her shoulders. At least we found her. At least they’ll recover her body and have some closure.

Grab him, Easy pointed to the handless bloodsucker.

Ben draped a steel mesh bag over the creature’s head. He tied its arms behind its back and dragged it from the structure.

Easy swept his eyes around the room and said a silent prayer. He picked up two gasoline-filled water bottles Ben had left by the door and doused the walls, the bedding, the carcasses, and Julia Carlisle. Easy stepped past the plywood door, sparking fire from his Zippo. With a final, forlorn look to Julia’s remains, he touched his lighter to the wall.

Flames flickered and devoured. The cabin grew into a fiery blaze, as Easy and Ben lifted their captive into the pickup’s bed and sealed it. They climbed into their seats and watched the inferno ahead.

I was really hoping she wasn’t here, Ben said.

Yeah. Me too.

Ben turned to Easy. Take ‘em alive, huh?

I know, I know.

"Get a little too excited, did you?"

Easy squinted at Ben with a sideways smile and turned the key.

The cabin crumbled in on itself, radiating a yellow and orange glow onto the surrounding woods. Firelight painted the pickup orange as Easy turned the vehicle around and accelerated. With their captive stirring in the pickup’s bed, the pair of vampire hunters absconded into the woodland dark.

Chapter 2 – Boulders and Burials

In Montana-time, the prisoner transport was a quick trip. The white pickup traveled thirty minutes through a few back roads and fifteen through a few miles of wooded switchbacks, until the pair of hunters were greeted by a staged, boulder-strewn campsite. Firewood had been stacked to the right, and a log pyramid stood ready to burn in the fire-ring. Chains hung swaying in the breeze, secured to a century-old ponderosa pine.

Easy reversed the pickup until it was three feet from the chain-bearing tree. You want the fire or the vamp?

The fire, Ben said. Obviously.

Okay. Try not to burn the forest down, all right?

The duo exited the vehicle, regrouping at its rear. Easy raised the topper’s door and dropped the tailgate. The prisoner stirred and moaned. His steel bag rattled as his head rocked.

Yeah, Ben said, scowling and pinching his nose. I’ll take the fire. He unhooked a bungee, loosening a three-gallon gas can, and carried it off to the fire-ring.

So, you’re with me then.

Easy grabbed the beast’s foot and dragged until it tumbled free from the lifted pickup. He studied the vampire’s clotted and recovering forearms. He looked to the hanging chains, which ended in wrist shackles. Well, that’s not going to work.

A gust of warm wind and a flash of orange-and-yellow light repelled the dark, chilly night. Easy glanced at the roaring fire, embracing the smell and chuckling. Give me a hand over here.

I thought you were doing the bloodsucker?

He’s got no hands! Easy’s forehead wrinkled. He pushed the beast against the ponderosa. Give me some help securing him.

Really? Ben whined, joining Easy at the tree. It’s your fault he has no hands, you know.

Just hold him while I wrap these chains.

Ben pushed the beast against the tree, turning his head away from its putrid smell. Easy circled the iron around the vampire’s arms and looped back, locking each side’s shackle into the other. He let the beast hang free and yanked away the steel-mesh bag.

The vampire shook its head, effusing a layered odor of death and decay into the air. The demon occupied the

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