by Jennifer Siddoway
The Earthwalker Trilogy
Publication Date: May 20, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Inspired by the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, Wynnona Hendricks finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, fighting for her right to live.
The Demon Lord, Aidan, has activated her latent powers carefully hidden behind a mortal facade and now, she must conquer the Seven Deadly Sins or be sent to Hell herself as one of his minions. The only one who seems to believe in her is Caleb, the angel who chose to spare her life rather than risk the shedding of innocent blood, but by doing so, may have started a war between the factions, throwing the Mortal Realm into mayhem.
Follow Wynn as she fights to protect her family from being ripped apart, including her mother, who isn’t what she seems.
My sister is exactly what society thinks a young woman should be—intelligent, graceful, kind—everything I wish I was, but am not. Even when we were children it was obvious that we were not cut from the same cloth. Sometimes I wondered how we could ever be related. She spent her afternoons picking wild flowers and playing dress-up in her room, while I wanted to be a pirate and practiced by wailing on our younger brother. Had I been born in antiquity, they’d have burned me as a witch for sure. In some cultures, my red hair would have been reason enough, but if that didn’t do it my fiery temper would have finished the job—patience was not one of my virtues.
Aidan held the girl aloft by her neck and unhinged his lower jaw. She struggled hard against him, but a rasping came from deep inside his throat and he began drinking in a cloud of mist that swirled around her body. She continued to kick and scream, but Aidan just drank in deeper and her attempts at fighting became feeble. Eventually, her eyes turned white and she went limp within his arms.
I rolled up the sleeve of my shirt and removed the wristband I was wearing to expose the irritated patch of skin, or more appropriately, lack thereof. On the inner side of my forearm was a large section of flesh that had sloughed away to reveal a pattern of black and reddish scales. My hair was still the fiery, red that it had always been, but instead of curling gracefully down my back it looked as though it had been set ablaze with heatless flames. I still maintained a woman’s figure, but my skin was covered in hard back scales and a pair of enormous, leathery wings sprung outward from my back.
As I stared at my reflection in the mirror and tried to formulate a statement in my mind, the words would just not come. “I’m…”
“Beautiful,” Aidan finished for me. “And may I just say what a pleasure it is to be seeing you at last.”
“I’m a monster…” I muttered dismally.
He rolled his eyes dismissively and sat up in his seat. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, love. I’m telling you, you are no such thing.”
I always dreaded these visits.
Not that I don’t love my mother, because I do, I just find it emotionally draining to sit in her room day after day, week after week, with a smile plastered on my face while everyone knows that she will probably never wake up. I hated everything about it—the stiff medicinal smell, the too bright fluorescent lighting overhead, even the shiny white floors and generic artwork that hung in every guest room. But most of all, I hated the way that coming here made me feel. Helpless.
The constant reminder of how insignificant we all were and how little control we had in the grand scheme of things.
I’d accepted that Mom was gone for quite some time now, but Dad still struggled to come to terms with it. He tried to put on a strong face for us kids, but I could see the toll it was taking on him. I looked over and saw his tired eyes after a long night in his office where he resigned himself to work because sleep just would not come. The firm had given him emotional leave for the first few weeks after Mom’s accident, but the truth was he’d never really recovered. He went through the motions and managed to pull through, but something inside him had broken.
I was curled up in the windowsill with my French book open in my lap from when I’d been reviewing vocabulary earlier. It was one of my easiest classes since Mom went to culinary school in Paris and spoke the language regularly at home. Our class was studying the terms for members of the family, which seemed painfully ironic at present. The words “Mere – mother” jumped off the page and plunged into my heart like a thousand little pinpricks. My eyes flickered to the frozen form lying motionless in the hospital bed.
I barely recognized her through the light of her heart monitor.
Every week she looked more pale, more fragile—nothing like the headstrong woman who’d raised me. All color had drained from her cheeks and her once ebony hair hung limply in braids across the pillow. Even so, she was still one of the most stunningly beautiful women I’d ever seen.
Barely visible between the creases of her left hand was a subtle reminder of the woman she used to be. A long, thin scar wrapped around the knuckle of her index finger from one of her numerous mishaps in the kitchen. I’d never understood how a professionally trained chef like her managed to nick herself so often, but apparently my clumsiness was inherited.
At the end of the bed hung her medical chart, carrying various lab workups and endless test results. I re-read the cover page for the third time since we arrived:
Name: Michele Hendricks,
Admitted: October 21st 2014,
I wrapped my arms around my chest and scowled at the inoffensive manila folder. It had been over a year now and the doctors were still no closer to finding a diagnosis. Originally, they thought it was a stroke but numerous scans of her head had all come back negative. There just was no explanation for it.
So here we sat, week after week, month after month, waiting for some fairy godmother to come wave her magic wand and give us the cure that medical science couldn’t.
Absentmindedly, I glanced at the clock on the wall to see how much longer we’d be forced to endure this and my stomach began to grumble. At the sound of a melodic fanfare, I turned back towards my brother pounding mercilessly on the buttons of his DS. I didn’t play video games much myself, but looking over Nathan’s shoulder as he did was one of my favorite pastimes. I smiled to myself at his furious expression when the musical sting announced that his character died. When my stomach grumbled loudly again, I turned my attention towards our father. “Dad, I’m kind of hungry. Do you think we could we start heading back?”
He glanced up from his blackberry and nodded with a sigh, “Yeah, it’s almost 7:30. Let’s get you kids home. Elyse, are you coming with us?”
“Actually, I was going to meet Kevin for some coffee,” she answered sweetly. “But I could walk you out if you’d like.”
Dad grunted in acknowledgment and grabbed his coat from the back of his chair. “Sounds great, hon.”
We all gathered our things and turned to take one last glance at Mom in her bed, the heart monitor beeping in the background. The moonlight filtered through the window, casting a ghostly shadow throughout the room. One by one, we shuffled towards the doorway and made our way into the hall. Dad lagged behind to step over to her bedside and give her a kiss on the forehead.
“Goodnight, dear,” he whispered. “We’ll see you again next week.”
I looked away uncomfortably when his voice cracked with raw emotion. It was the same exchange that happened every week, yet something in his tone this time made the words seem so sad and intimate I felt the need to give them privacy. His best friend and lover, his wife, for over twenty years was dying. No amount of “emotional leave” would change that.
Reluctantly, Dad pulled himself away and headed out the door, bringing the three of us with him.
Focus, I commanded myself sternly. Belphegor laughed at my apparent failure, but then a curious wrinkle came to his eye. His faces twisted into an unnatural and uncomfortable grimace. “What are you—doing…?”
“You’re the one who told me to eat, don’t you want to fill your own belly?” I mocked him callously. “I thought you’d find it satisfying.”
His visible discomfort only encouraged me as I visualized what was happening inside, using everything I had to keep up the summoning charm. Below his fingers, the skin started pulsating and bulging as something stretched and pushed from the inside of his gut. He groaned at the pressure and discomfort of an alien presence adulterating his very being. If he was trying to stop me or attack, I couldn’t tell—my heart and blood were pumping so hard. His moans turned into wails and shrieks as his clutching fingers could not contain the writhing snakes that suddenly exploded from his body, dragging with them the oversized and redundant viscera that remained firmly entangled within their twisted throes.
I hardly had time to savor the wet, sizzling flops of roiling snake and entrails hitting the ground before the demon vanished with a final screech. I stooped, panting and seeing red, as I collapsed on the ground from expending so much energy. He had been right, the auras had made me stronger. I don’t think I could have summoned that on my own. My eyes drifted in and out of focus, but then the indistinct light before me coalesced into Caleb standing there in all his angelic glory. The way he was looking at me didn’t have the usual tenderness though, and I actually shrank from the harsh anger burning in his eyes. “You mind telling me what in the world that was?” he demanded.
About Jennifer Siddoway
Jennifer is a Florida based, Indie Author who writes paranormal romance and fantasy for young adults. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children. Demon Dialysis is a contemporary Young Adult Fantasy and her debut novel.