Today we welcome to Book Lovers Inc. Paige Cuccaro, who is celebrating the big splashy re-release of her Hellsbane series with the introductory prequel novella Commencement, showing heroine Emma Jane Hellsbane (great name for an urban fantasy heroine!) graduating college. Commencement will be followed by the paperback re-release of the first book in this kick-butt urban fantasy series, named after its heroine. Of course, that first book is titled Hellsbane. If you want a chance to get in at the start of this urban fantasy series, there’s a giveaway at the end of this post. Today being Halloween (I hope you all have some spooky and fun events planned!), Paige shares with us one of the most scary events of her life. Take a seat and continue reading, but do keep the lights on! Just saying…
I have my own creepy ghost story I’d love to share.
Okay, so it was years ago, back when I was seventeen or so. My family’s home is out in the boonies—farm fields surrounded by deep forest. One night me, my best friend, Dee, her boyfriend, Steve, and his best friend, Gerry, were hanging out near my home on a tiny one lane bridge off a dead end road. The dead end road passed beside a long open field. At the other end of the field (maybe a quarter of a mile long) was a small brick building owned by a local company. They manufactured something…I was never sure what. But it was just a small one story building with six normal sized windows on each side.
Growing up I’d heard the stories about the horrible accident that happened in that building. Rumor was a worker had gotten caught up in some of the machinery and had been mangled so badly he died. Who knows if that actually happened? But there were all kinds of stories about lights turning on and off at night when no one was there and people seeing someone passing across the windows when the business was closed. The point is the place was supposed to be haunted by this poor dead employee.
So, this dark night Steve and his friend Gerry were riding Gerry’s dirt bike and it’d broken down at the edge of the building’s parking lot. My friend, Dee and I had driven them in my car to Gerry’s house to get some tools, then back to the bike. I should mention that in the country there aren’t many street lights. Some people have what we called Dusk to Dawn lights provided by the power company, but you don’t really find them along wooded roads or in open fields. The point is, it gets really, really dark.
The building had two lights though and Gerry had left his dirt bike leaning against the pole of one of them. Like I said, it was a small business, small building and therefore a small parking lot—gravel covered. So the tall light was only about ten feet from the corner of the building. Dee and I dropped them off right next to the bike, then drove the quarter mile to the dead end road at the other end of the field to wait for them.
I parked my car right off the main road and Dee and I sat on the little bridge to wait for Steve and Gerry to ride through the field on the repaired bike. It was dark, but we all lived in the area so it wasn’t uncomfortable.
We’d been waiting about thirty minutes when we heard this weird moaning sound. It kind of sounded like a wind up siren that wasn’t quite working right. Dee and I got really quite, listening, trying to figure out what it was.
Then suddenly the sound of feet rushing through knee high grass joined the weird moan, and someone said, “Keep going. Just keep going.”
Dee and I peered through the darkness in the direction of the voice but couldn’t see anything until Steve and Gerry were about 15 feet away…no bike, no tools, both running full tilt through the black night.
They flew over the big steal gate that closed the entrance to the field, ran up the road toward us, ran passed us, over the bridge right up to my car and jumped in. As they raced by I heard Gerry yell. “Get in the car! Get in the car! Get in the Car!”
Steve didn’t really say anything, he was too busy making that weird mewling sound like a broken siren, his arms pumping like a steam train, eyes wide hair—I kid you not—on end!
Dee and I aren’t exactly the brave-in-the-face-of-danger sort, so when our guy friends ran past us, skin pasty white, eyes as big a coke bottles saying, “Get in the car!”
We got in the car!
I think I might have broken the land speed record getting us out of there. We drove to the nearest brightly lit spot—the truck stop down the road—and parked. Steve was shaking like I’d never seen in the back seat. His pale skin had a kind of green tint to it. Gerry was sitting next shaking his head saying, “That didn’t happen. That didn’t happen.”
It took about fifteen minutes for the guys to calm down and when they finally did they told us what had happened after we dropped them off.
Gerry was kneeling down, working on the bike. Steve was standing on the other side handing him tools. Steve’s back was to the building, and Gerry’s view of the building was blocked by Steve. After a few minutes Steve heard a knocking sound. He asked Gerry if he heard it and when he stopped to listen, he said he did.
They stared at each other for a second, listening… knock-knock-knock…knock-knock-knock. Gerry said, “Sounds like someone knocking on a window or something.
Steve turned around and Gerry leaned to the side and both boys looked at the last window nearest them on the building. There, inside the dark building stood a man, light brown hair, kind of long to his shoulders, dressed in a green worker’s uniform. They met his eyes for a half second and then the man backed up four or five steps.
Suddenly his face creased, anger glinting in his eyes and raced straight at the window. The impact of his head against the glass was audible, hitting so hard his skull exploded like a ripe melon. Blood splatter everywhere, gray matter dripping in the mix.
The boys screamed, dropped their tools, let the bike fall and ran. They got maybe twenty feet before they first heard the pound of foot steps behind them. Neither one dared look back, but they knew whoever—whatever was chasing them was gaining fast. Gerry was out in front, with Steve only three or four strides behind. So when something snagged the back of Steve’s shirt, they both knew it.
Steve felt himself jerked back, his feet going out from under before he landed hard on his butt. Gerry didn’t stop. He yelled back, “Keep going! Keep going!”
His friend scrambled to his feet, fighting against the hands pawing at him, trying to hold him down. He didn’t look at what was grabbing him, he just fought his way free started running again. He caught up with Gerry and both boys didn’t stop until they reached my car.
I considered that maybe Gerry and Steve were just messing with us, but if they were, they’re amazing actors. They insisted on leaving their dirt bike and tools in the parking lot where they’d dropped them until the next day, knowing anyone could steal them. So if it was all a trick just to scare me and Dee, they were risking a lot.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared as I was that night. And to this day I still refuse to look at that end window when I drive by the little building.
Writing was never a foregone conclusion for me. I once had dreams of being a psychologist, a pediatrician, a school teacher, a photojournalist, a bartender, and/or an EMT. And then I met my husband and my world came into focus. Being wife and mother are my highest priorities and greatest joy. But escaping to the fanciful, sexy worlds twirling through my mind is an absolute necessity. Putting those worlds, and the cornucopia of characters that people them, on paper is just plain fun.
Paige lives in Ohio, with her husband, three daughters, three dogs, three cats, a parakeet and a bearded dragon named Rexy, in an ever shrinking house. When she’s not writing she can be found doing the mom thing with a book in one hand and a notepad and pen in the other. Ideas come without warning and the best way to stimulate your imagination is to enjoy the imagination of someone else.
Commencement by Paige Cuccaro
Book # 0.5 in the Hellsbane series
Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn for frat guys…
Emma Jane Hellsbane knows something evil is worming its way through her college campus—she can feel it. Literally. Her freakish ability to feel other people’s emotions as though they were her own has always been monumentally awkward, and it’s easier for her to just pretend it doesn’t exist. But this time her paranormal ability just might help her save lives.
Emma Jane’s fairly certain that whatever the hateful, egomaniacal, Godlike thing is, it’s set up shop inside her boyfriend, the frat boy/soccer star Justin. And if she doesn’t figure a way to get it out of him soon, Justin’s soul will be the appetizer to the main course—the whole student body. Problem is, the big baddy is granting sinister wishes, and with each one the risks grow higher and the phrase Be careful what you wish for becomes a real-life dire warning. Of course for Emma, what feels like it could be the end is in fact just the beginning…
Entangled Publishing has generously offered an ebook copy of Commencement by Paige Cuccaro!
All you have to do is leave a comment
1) either share with us a creepy story that either happened to you or someone you know,
2) or tell us your favourite/least favourite thing about Halloween!
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, 10 November 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.