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Darkness Brutal (The Dark Cycle) by Rachel A. Marks



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Author: Rachel A. Marks

Publisher: Skyscape

Genres:

Publish Date: July 1, 2015

ISBN-10: 1477830790

Pages: 424

File Type: epub,mobi,lrf,lit,htmlz,pdb,azw

Language: English

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Book Preface

The demon is crouched in the corner, between the Cheetos and the onion dip. It’s a small one, only about four feet tall: a low-level creeper. I flick my gaze over the spot like I don’t see it and open the cooler door to get a Coke.

I watch the cashier behind me in the security mirror as he finishes ringing up a customer. He notices me—eyes my ratty hoodie, grungy backpack, scruffy jaw, tattooed fist gripping the cooler handle—and reaches one hand under the counter, probably to grab the butt of a shotgun or a bat he’s got hidden there. He’s totally oblivious to the real danger that’s hanging out in the junk food aisle.

The bell on the door rings as the customer leaves.

I walk past the demon, hoping it doesn’t sense my awareness. It’s not here for me, though; its bulbous black eyes are trained on the cashier. Its scarred and misshapen wings twitch and knock at the shelf as its leg muscles tense, like it’s ready to pounce. Clawed feet dig into the linoleum floor, surrounded by traces of black ash and sulfur that seep from its skin.

I set the can of Coke down on the counter and toss a Snickers up there too—dinner of champions.

“Hey,” I say to the cashier. The chill of being too close to the demon crawls over me, but I clench my jaw and ignore it.

The cashier nods back, ringing up the soda. “Two fifty.” He glances at my tattooed hand again—probably looking for a gang symbol, which he won’t find. Then he studies my face, like he’s trying to memorize it for the cops, just in case: about seventeen years old, olive-skinned male, dark brown hair, hazel eyes, five foot eight, looks like a homeless junkie.

He’d be right about everything but the junkie part. I am homeless these days. Everything I own is in the backpack I’m wearing.

I pull change from my pocket. It clangs onto the counter, along with an old stick of gum, some lint, a rubber band. And a Star of David.

Damn. Forgot I had that in there.

I slip the gold star into my pocket again, but not quick enough. The chill of the demon stings the back of my legs as it comes alert to my presence.

“You know, forget it. I’m good,” I say to the cashier. The medallion was blessed by a rabbi a few weeks ago—it’s supposed to keep me from seeing things. It doesn’t work, obviously. Instead, it has the opposite effect. I’d meant to ditch it, but … well, I have a lame inability to ditch anything.

I head for the exit, leaving my meal and change. It’s my fault, really. I should’ve known better than to roam around on the night of the full moon without taking precautions. I almost make it to the exit before the smell of sulfur fills my nostrils. The demon’s right behind me.

“I wouldn’t follow me if I were you,” I say. I really don’t want to deal with this shit tonight.

“What’d you say?” the cashier asks. “Don’t want no trouble here.”

I ignore the guy and turn to face the demon, scanning the shelves for salt or rye, but there’s not much rye in a Circle K. My stomach rises, the scent of sulfur bringing back old memories.

My sister, Ava, screaming in her crib, the demon’s claw digging into her tiny shoulder, marking her. Mom on the floor, eyes wide to another world, the blood spreading beneath her like a growing shadow …

I start to whisper a prayer for protection under my breath: “The light of Elohim surrounds me; the love of Elohim enfolds me. Wherever I am, Elohim is …” The demon hisses at me, backing away a little. “I’m telling you. Just leave me be,” I say.

Saliva drips from its teeth, and it makes a garbled noise in its throat, like words, but all backward and upside down. It can’t hurt me, not physically, since it’s not corporeal. Right now, it’s like the demon’s behind glass, on the other side of the Veil that separates the human world from the spirit world. It’s only able to influence people, to whisper into their minds, telling them to do dark things. It feeds off their negative emotions. And it’ll likely cause bad shit to happen if it follows me.

“You want this?” I ask, pulling the Star of David from my pocket again and dangling it in front of the demon’s hole of a nose. It seems more interested in the tattoo on my hand, though, and hesitates at the sight of it.

“Get the hell out!” the cashier yells. “I’m callin’ the cops!”


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