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Judith's Fall: Big Sky Terror, #3

Judith's Fall: Big Sky Terror, #3

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Judith's Fall: Big Sky Terror, #3

Length:
361 pages
4 hours
Released:
Jul 12, 2021
ISBN:
9781622537303
Format:
Book

Description

Vampires think their prophecy is fulfilled, but Easy won't stop until he proves them wrong.

Mount Judith held the worst battle that Easy and his team had ever fought, and the scars will haunt them forever. The Apocalypse has begun, and the world is falling apart all around them, but a single hope shines within their midst.

Easy has one last mission to complete if he's going to stop this Apocalypse, one final life to save if he's going to save the rest. Yet when it comes time to make the choice, he must decide who's more important: those he loves, or the rest of humanity.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS the third 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

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:
Jul 12, 2021
ISBN:
9781622537303
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.


Book Preview

Judith's Fall - D.W. Hitz

Chapter 1 – The Southern Hound

Jacksonville, FL.

Armand couldn’t shake the feeling that bugs were crawling across his skin. His hair had been standing on end all night, and the sensation of tiny, invisible legs and feelers nearly drove him insane. He slid inside the late-90s Mercury he used for work and pulled the door shut. He ran his hands over his forearms, trying to brush the awkwardness away. It didn’t work.

With a long exhale, Armand stared through the night at the single-story house in the middle of the cul-de-sac. The home couldn’t have been more than a few years old, but its stench smelled like a decade’s worth of neglect. The odor still hung inside his nose, scents of ammonia and musk that only wolves would like.

He had planted the cameras as well as he could. Two of them, in the living room and master bedroom’s air vents. He double-checked the angles and clarity on his phone when he set them up, but the haste he was forced to do it under gave him a nagging sense that he had screwed some part of it up. And there was his own scent. If he had stayed any longer, it might have been detectable, even under to the nauseating aroma of the house. Now, all he could do was hope he did it right.

Armand unlocked his phone and went back to the app the techies had sent over. It looked like a little magnifying glass in front of Sherlock Holmes’s hat. Cute. He tapped it.

On his phone, Armand saw the living room, cluttered, with chairs, magazines, and beer cans scattered across the floor. If he didn’t know who lived in that house, he would have thought it was squatters. He swiped his finger left, and the view shifted to the bedroom camera. Three stained and linenless mattresses laid haphazardly on the floor.

Signal’s good. Now we wait for Fido.

Thirty minutes elapsed, and Armand checked his watch. 4:15 AM. Right on time, a blue Chevy SUV drove past. Bass thumped from the vehicle, pounding like a rolling nightclub.

The wolves, still looking like humans, stopped in their driveway and parked in front of the garage. Their headlights went out, and the doors popped open—all four of them.

No, Armand said. They were supposed to be alone. He tossed his phone on the passenger seat. The entire camera setup was a waste of his time.

Armand watched as two men and two women, all in their twenties, stepped out and headed toward the front door. They laughed and stumbled. The women wore glowing bits of jewelry, one on her wrist, the other around her neck. As they reached the entrance, the man in front opened the door, and both women’s hands shot to their faces and covered their noses. The females took a step back, and the men grabbed them and yanked them inside.

Come on... Armand laid his hand on the door’s handle and stared into his rearview. A pair of headlights sped up the street from behind him. His fingers twitched against the cool plastic. His heart thumped.

A black SUV tore past the Mercury. Its brakes squealed through the cul-de-sac. It stopped directly behind the Chevy, and two twenty-somethings hopped out and hurried to the front door. The light from inside lit their grinning faces, and the last one slammed the door shut behind him.

Armand jerked on his door handle. It creaked, and he imagined it breaking in half from his pull. He jumped to his feet and ran, not even sure if he closed the car door. His lungs filled with air and released. His hands sweat.

Four wolves. Two humans. I can do this. Armand patted the knife handle on his right hip. Then, the one on his left. The fabric on his pants and sleeves slid across him. It rubbed and sang with a soft zip, zip, zip. Armand imagined it whispering, We’re coming.

Ten feet from the front door.

A woman shouted, No, get off of me!

Another female voice screamed.

Five feet.

Armand freed two bola-launchers from his vest. The spring-loaded tubes were just taller than his grip. He poised his right thumb over one launcher’s release button and reached for the door with his left.

Another scream. Men laughed. Men cheered. You go first, one said. Okay, said another.

Armand twisted the knob. The idiots had been in such an excited state going in, they left it unlocked. He pushed it an inch and let it sit. He freed his knife from his left side. The thirteen-inch kukri blade was as dark as the night, except for a thick silver inlay on both sides of the spine. He gripped it, ready to swing. Another scream, and Armand launched his left foot into the door.

Four men stood in a circle in the living room. They panted, hunched forward. On the ground, in the middle, a woman laid unconscious. The one with a glowing necklace wept beside her. All the room’s eyes turned to the front door.

Armand stormed inside, raising his bola-launcher. He aimed at the right-most man and pressed the release.

Get h— the man said before a silver-chained bola circled and locked around his neck. Smoke sizzled from burning skin, and the man twitched and dropped. Blood gushed from below the burning, tightening strands.

While Armand moved two paces, he dropped the empty launcher and raised the second. Click, silver streaks flew.

You mother— another twenty-something said from across the circle. Shiny metal seized his throat and yanked him backward. Smoke from his neck followed his body down.

Get him, a man on the left shouted. He ran towards Armand. His eyes shined yellow, and drool rolled over his lips. His fingernails hardened and grew. Fangs surged up inside his jaw as his mouth stretched forward.

No time for that, Armand grumbled. He leaped, swinging his blade from the left.

The transforming beast raised his arm to stop the knife. Steel and silver sliced through the limb, then the neck. It carved a hunk from the left shoulder, and a half-changed head thumped against the white, tile floor. The neck spewed as much smoke as it did blood as the body went limp and collapsed.

A howl snapped from the far side of the room. Armand dropped his empty launcher and freed his second kukri. His eyes met the final male.

A brown wolf stared over the bloody living room. Its growl rumbled over the twitching and moaning of its strangling friends. Drool seeped through the gaps between its two-inch-long fangs. Its snout was as long as Armand’s forearm, and it towered above the women in the center of the room.

Armand stared back into its yellow eyes. Come on. He waved it closer with his right blade.

The beast sprinted three steps and launched itself into the air. It soared over its prisoners, jaws spreading.

Armand leaned forward. His legs, his arms, coiled like springs, ready to explode.

The beast eclipsed every other object in the room as it descended on Armand. He sprang forward, ducking under the monster. He spun to his left and swung his blades.

A black and silver blur sliced through one of the beast’s front legs. Another tore into its side below the ribs.

The wolf’s chest thumped against Armand, crashing into him and slamming Armand into the floor. It howled and snapped at the air. The beast shot up to its feet and stared down at Armand. Its three legs trembled.

Armand swung his blades down to his waist and thrust them up into the monster’s gut.

The werewolf howled. Blades ran up into its chest, slicing ribs, and the monster canine drove its teeth downward, clamping onto Armand’s left shoulder.

Hot blood poured over Armand. He howled back and jerked his knives up harder. He heard the gurgle of blood inside the wolf’s breath and knew he had found the spot.

One more.

Armand pounded his blades deeper. He felt the rhythm of the monster’s heart through each handle, and he twisted. The heartbeat spasmed and ceased. The pressure on his shoulder relented.

Fuck. Armand sighed. This wasn’t how this night was supposed to go. It was supposed to be surveillance. It was supposed to be assassination after they had gone to sleep. It wasn’t supposed to be a rescue mission for idiot ravers.

He shoved the wolf over and climbed to his feet. He rubbed his shoulder, testing his body armor. No holes. Thank Christ for that.

Two crying women. Two whining gasps from men.

Both females were awake now. They stared at Armand, at his blades, at the blood that soaked his clothes.

Armand looked them over, head to toe. No blood on them, wounds or scratches, other than a swelling black eye on one. He had gotten there in time.

Get out of here, Armand grumbled.

The women trembled. They crawled to their feet as they stumbled over the dead wolf then ran through the door.

Armand walked to his left and stood over the gagging werewolf. It convulsed and clawed at its neck. Each time its finger touched the bola chain, its digits smoked, melted, and bled. The creature jerked its fingers back and then tried again.

Isn’t that pitiful? Armand kneeled over its head. The fumes were sour and burned his eyes. He crossed his blades over the monster’s neck like a pair of scissors and dragged them through the beast’s flesh. The head rolled, and the gagging ceased.

Armand uncoiled the bola from the corpse and carried it to the other wolf. Beast number two scratched at its throat, mirroring its brother. Armand took its head and then his bola.

I imagine those aren’t cheap, a raspy male voice said from the doorway. He spoke in a hard-edged Germanic accent.

Armand guessed who it was before standing. He spun and faced the entrance.

A slender man with long brown hair and a trench coat watched Armand. His hand swung by his side, holding a lit cigarette. Smoke crept over his pointed teeth and between his thin lips.

Is that disguise supposed to fool me? Armand’s head leaned left. He smirked at the tydrex.

The slender being came inside and closed the door with a gentle press. His skin and hair faded from tan and brown to pure while. Scars and carved runes raised from his skin, and the tips of his fingers showed stubby white claws.

Now, we’re at least being honest with each other. Armand squeezed the grips of his blades. What do you want?

The tydrex dropped his cigarette on the tile floor and stepped into the living room. Blue arcs of electricity zapped between his fingers. His gaze traveled from wolf to wolf. He glanced at the bloody runes on the walls, the scarlet-runed circle where the females had cowered on the floor, to Armand. He stopped six feet from Armand, and the zap between his fingers quieted.

Nothing, it seems. The tydrex shook his head. You’ve done my job for me. He turned around, his eyes focused on the door. He paused on the edge of the living room. Unless you really want a fight?

Armand watched the contractor’s hair sway forward and back. He had taken down a tydrex or two in the past, but it wasn’t easy, and it had been part of the mission. Tonight, it wasn’t.

Armand crouched back down to the wolf’s corpse at his feet and wiped the blood from his blades. Not tonight.

The tydrex nodded. His hair waved and flushed with a brown tint, and his skin darkened. He grasped the doorknob and said, Until next time, then. That is, if your kind lasts through the flood.

What? Armand watched as the creature opened the door and disappeared in a blur. Asshole.

Armand left the house, back into the humid night. He found his car door an inch from being shut completely. He opened it and dropped into his seat. He picked up his phone to call for a cleanup crew but instead saw a message from Hanson.

The text read, Call me when you get this. Change in plans.

That’s weird. Armand dialed dispatch. The next job was supposedly one Hanson had a hardon for. A priest on the Southside was said to have turned bloodsucker, and choir boys had gone missing.

Yeah, Hanson said from the other end.

What’s up?

You finished at the Beaches job?

Yeah. Armand slid his key into the ignition. Was about to call for cleanup.

Good. I’ll let ‘em know. I need you to go home and pack your shit for a trip. You’re going out west, Montana.

What? That far? Why wouldn’t someone from Denver go?

They did. Sent a guy last week, but he hasn’t checked in, and they can’t spare anyone else. They said vamps are popping up all over the place, and they called in a favor.

Shit.

Yeah, I know. I’ll expect you at the airport by dawn. You’ll fly into Denver and resupply before heading north on a company jet. Your destination is Judith, Montana.

Chapter 2 – Empty Roads

Very few words were spoken in the Suburban. The unease was such a foreign sensation. Easy put all his energy into gripping the wheel and getting the night’s survivors back to camp.

Ben had said something about trying to make right for his mistakes. They’d bandaged his arm and thigh using the first aid kit in the back, an addition after Easy’s wolf bite several days prior.

Sean would only say he had lost Theresa. He wouldn’t explain anything more. He refused any help with his wounds. He pressed torn pieces of his clothing into them.

They both stared at the falling snow as if it may provide some solace.

Jess sat in the back of the Suburban. She caressed her friend’s head while gazing at the road behind the SUV. She repeated the mantra, It’s going to be okay, so many times, Easy tuned her voice out.

He focused on the road. He studied the berm along its edge, judging just how wide his path was in the increasing sea of white. There was no risk of oncoming traffic. Everyone was sick, dead, or turned. But he stayed in his lane. Part of his mind refused to accept that what had happened over the past forty-eight hours was real. He couldn’t. Not right now. Right now, he just had to get everyone home, safe. He had to at least get that right.

The Suburban roared up the hills, a lonely howl in the night. It came to rest in its usual spot at the campsite, and deafening silence sent a chill down Easy’s spine. The ride was over. He had to deal with this now.

Without looking back, Easy said, Ben, can you make it to the camper on your own?

Yeah, Ben muttered.

Sean, Easy said, if you go with Ben, I can stitch you up too, after I help get Maddy in.

Sean opened his door. I’ll live. He got out and headed to his camper.

Easy went to the rear and opened it. Jess was looking up, still stroking Maddy’s head. Each survivor was sticky with dried blood, but Maddy was the worst. It formed a layer over her entire body, thick like red mud.

Easy scooped Maddy up under her knees and her back as he would a child. Can you open the camper?

Jess sighed. Yeah. She slid from the vehicle, shut the rear, and led the way. She opened the camper door and stepped back, so Easy could pass.

Easy went straight to the tiny bathroom. He set Maddy in the corner of the shower and backed away. She stared into the bathroom wall, unmoving. You got it from here?

Yeah. Jess stood between Easy and the door.

The air felt dense, oppressive. They were back at camp now; it wasn’t supposed to feel this way. It was supposed to be a relief, but instead, Easy felt shame and remorse, in some ways worse than in the Suburban. Worse than in the pickup they had escaped the mountain in. Worse than when he watched one after another of Judith’s townsfolk get ripped to shreds. It was as if he had abandoned his responsibility to the town by leaving it. As if he had run away in fear. It wasn’t fear, though, was it? They had to flee. They had to escape. There was no way they could have killed that many vampires and escaped with their lives. If there was any chance of fighting back, they had to retreat first—didn’t they?

Easy and Jess faced each other in the camper’s narrow walkway. Both of their arms hung limp at their sides, both of their faces hung in forlorn exhaustion.

The view in front of Easy tore at him, as much as the sorrow he already felt. This woman was the hardest fighter he had ever known. She was dedicated to the core, never flinching, and always kind to him. And now, she stood in front of him like a completely different person. The fire was gone from her eyes. It was more than just weariness. It was like she was broken, a shadow.

Easy put his hand on Jess’s shoulder. He wanted to say it would be okay, that they’d figure a way out of this hole, that there would be sunlight at the end of the tunnel. But he didn’t know if he believed that right now, not after seeing half his town slaughtered for their blood. And he just didn’t have the energy to fake it.

Jess closed her eyes and dove into Easy’s chest. She pressed her arms around him and squeezed. She wept so softly that Easy could barely hear it, but he did. He folded his arms around her and hugged her back. She squeezed tighter. She wept louder.

Easy felt chills. His heart thumped faster. He summoned the energy to say what he thought he needed to, even if the words sounded hollow. We’re going to figure this out. Somehow.

Figure out what? The death was so deep. There was so much of it. It permeated their world as much as the air they breathed. The vampire souls? They were gone. Flown away like hundreds of flocks of birds, migrating for the winter. Never before had Easy felt like such a liar. Such a failure.

Easy held her tightly for several minutes, until her tears and her grip lightened. He loosened his embrace, and Jess leaned a few inches back. Her eyes glistened with tears as she looked up into his gaze, and Easy felt something he wasn’t ready for. There was something there in this intimacy, a spark that had been warming for some time. A feeling between the two of them that had been growing, that this embrace was somehow fueling. But now wasn’t the time for that. He felt a warmth in his veins pushing him forward. He felt her curves against his chest and under his arms. But...now wasn’t the time for that.

Easy slowly lowered his arms and released her. He took a step backward. Are you going to be okay?

Fuck. Yeah, Jess said through sniffling. Her gaze shied to the floor, and she backed into the bathroom.

Easy took a step forward. He didn’t want to go, but he needed to. He needed to address Ben’s wounds. He needed to check in on Sean. Though right now, he didn’t want to leave her feeling dismissed. He took her hand gently. It was soft, warm. We’ll figure this out, okay?

Jess nodded.

I’ll come back later, okay?

Okay.

***

When Easy opened the door to his camper, he saw Ben at the kitchenette table and their medical supplies laid out on top of it. Ben had taken off his shirt and pants and held a bottle of whiskey in one hand, a shot glass in the other. The gauze and tape on his arm and thigh were more red than white.

Shut the damn door, Ben slurred. Were you born in a barn? He chuckled at himself and poured a shot.

Easy climbed up the stairs and closed the door. He took the seat across from Ben and shed his boots and coat.

Ben guzzled his shot and poured another. You want one? He held out the glass, sloshing a quarter of it over the side and onto the table.

Easy recognized the huckleberry graphic on the glass was from the Whiskey Ditch, and he wished he knew where Edgar was. Maybe Maddy would be in a speaking-way later on and be able to say what happened.

No, Easy said. Better not, unless you want your stitches to zigzag across your arm.

O—kay, Ben tossed the shot back into his mouth.

Let me see the arm.

Ben set his glass on the table and leaned the limb over toward Easy.

Easy unraveled the dressing. You want to tell me what the Hell happened to you today? Where you went?

Ben poured another shot with a wobbling stream. I don’t know where I am right now. He set the bottle down and served himself the whiskey with his free hand. He gasped and sighed and stared at the ceiling.

Easy just shook his head.

The gunshot was ugly, and blood streamed down Ben’s arm, but after everything they’d seen that night, Easy was grateful it wasn’t worse. The shot was a through-and-through, without hitting the bone or any major blood vessels. Easy cleaned it and stitched both sides. He did his best at putting a healing spell on both sides of the arm and assumed he did it right when an orange glow radiated from the markings.

Easy looked up from the arm and saw Ben’s eyes closed. Okay. He went ahead and poured a single shot for himself and threw it back. He stood and looked at Ben’s hip. This might be messy.

He grabbed a garbage bag from the kitchen and spread it out on his bed. He put a towel over that, and then carried Ben over and laid him on top of it.

After peeling back Ben’s boxers on the side of his hip and undoing the bandage, Easy saw the best news he’d had all night. The wound was only slightly deeper than a graze. It was four inches long and bleeding but not deep at all. Easy cleaned it and stitched it up and looked down at Ben, jealous of how soundly he was out of it.

***

Easy knocked on the door to Sean’s camper. He carried a bag of medical supplies.

Yeah? Sean shouted, annoyed.

It’s Easy. I wanted to check on you. See if you needed any medical attention.

The door clicked and opened. Sean looked out and around the courtyard. He pointed to fresh bandages on his arms and legs. I’m okay. His expression said otherwise. His eyes were sullen, barely open. His mouth was flat, emotionless.

Easy lifted the whiskey bottle from his bag. You sure?

Sean nodded and stepped back. I suppose I could use a little medicine.

Easy and Sean sat across from one another at the table. Easy set two shot glasses down and filled them both. He lifted his in the air and tilted it back, drinking. He let the burn settle in his throat before swallowing. He wanted to feel the burn.

Sean tossed his back and set down his glass, watching Easy, waiting for a refill.

Easy topped off both glasses again. He lifted his glass and paused. To those that didn’t come home.

Sean glanced down and then took his shot. He laid his hand on the table, glass in his grip, and tapped it with his index finger.

Easy drank. Can you tell me what happened up there?

Sean set his glass down with a thunk and pointed to it. When Easy had filled it up again, he said, Maybe tomorrow. He threw the whiskey back and passed the empty glass to Easy. Thanks for coming by.

Easy nodded and stood. He put the glasses and the bottle back in his bag and reached for the door. Tomorrow.

Yeah.

***

Easy stopped in front of Jess’s door and paused. He reached out to knock and hesitated. Should he really be coming back over to her camper? Maybe he should let her settle in and sleep? Maybe he shouldn’t bother her?

She may need help with Maddy. She may want to talk about what happened tonight. It’s my job to make sure they get help if they need it—I brought them into this mess. Those things were all true. They were also excuses he knew he was making for himself. He wanted to go back in. He wanted to get swallowed in her arms as he was before and forget about the

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