I actually had to stop reading this book last night and find something "lighter" to do, because the Big Evil was the last thing I wanted to have on my mind when I turned off all the lights. From the publisher: Years ago, after their blood brother ritual, Gage, Fox and Caleb emerged from the woods, each with a Call me a wuss, but The Pagan Stone scared the living daylights out of me. From the publisher: Years ago, after their blood brother ritual, Gage, Fox and Caleb emerged from the woods, each with a piece of bloodstone. Now, it will become their weapon in the final fight against the demon they awakened. Winner take all Shared nightmares, visions of blood and fire, and random violence plague the longtime friends and Quinn, Layla and Cybil, the women bound to them by Fate.
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The third book in the Sign of Seven Trilogy series For old friends Where there is no vision, the people perish. He carried his shoes-the tattered laces of the ancient Nikes tied to hang on his shoulder.
The hems of his jeans were frayed, and the jeans themselves had long since faded to white at the stress points. At the moment, he supposed he looked no more kempt than the scattering of beach bums still snoring away on the sand.
At the moment, despite the need for a shower and a shave, his luck was up. Nicely up. Grab it while you can, he thought, because tomorrow could suck you dry. Time was already running out: it spilled like that white, sun-kissed sand held in a closed fist.
His twenty-fourth birthday was less than three months away, and the dreams crawled back into his head. Blood and death, fire and madness. All of that and Hawkins Hollow seemed a world away from this soft tropical dawn. But it lived in him. He unlocked the wide glass door of his room, stepped in, tossed aside his shoes. After flipping on the lights, closing the drapes, he took his winnings from his pocket, gave the bills a careless flip.
With the current rate of exchange, he was up about six thousand USD. Not a bad night, not bad at all. In the bathroom, he popped off the bottom of a can of shaving cream, tucked the bills inside the hollow tube. He protected what was his.
Just packed up what was his, stuck out his thumb and booked. Escaped, Gage thought as he stripped for a shower.
He could make more money at cards than he could with his back. All he needed was a game. He stepped into the shower, turned the water hot. It sluiced over tanned skin, lean muscles, through thick black hair in need of a trim. He came and went as he pleased, ate when he was hungry, slept when he was tired. He set his own rules, broke them whenever it suited him. Nobody had any hold over him. Not true, Gage admitted as he studied the white scar across his wrist.
Not altogether true. Blood brothers. The middle-class boy, the hippie kid, and the son of an abusive drunk. And that had changed everything. Or had it? Gage wondered. Had it just opened what was always there, waiting? He could remember it all vividly, every step, every detail. It had started as an adventure-three boys on the eve of their tenth birthday hiking through the woods. Gage stepped out of the shower, rubbed his dripping hair with a towel.
His back had ached from the beating his father had given him the night before. He remembered that, as he remembered how the light had flickered and floated over the gray table of the Pagan Stone.
And the explosion, the heat and cold, the force and fear when that mixed blood hit the scarred ground of the clearing. He remembered what came out of the ground, the black mass of it, and the blinding light that followed. The pure evil of the black, the stunning brilliance of the white. He carried it still, as he knew Cal and Fox carried theirs.
Three pieces of one whole. He supposed they were the same. Madness came to the Hollow that week, and raged through it like a plague, infecting, driving good and ordinary people to do the horrible. And for seven days every seven years, it came back.
So did he, Gage thought. What choice did he have? Naked, still damp from the shower, he stretched out on the bed. There was time yet, still some time for a few more games, for hot beaches and swaying palms. The green woods and blue mountains of Hawkins Hollow were thousands of miles away, until July.
In sleep came the screams, and the weeping, and the fire that ate so joyfully at wood and cloth and flesh. Blood ran warm over his hands as he dragged the wounded to safety. For how long?
Where was safe? And who could say when and if the victim would turn and become attacker? Madness ruled the streets of the Hollow. In the dream he stood with his friends on the south end of Main Street, across from the Qwik Mart and its four gas pumps.
They ran toward him, the three of them, even as Moser held up his lighter like a trophy, as he splashed in the pools of gas like a boy in rain puddles. They ran even as he flicked the lighter. It was flash and boom, searing the eyes, bursting in the ears. The force of heat and air flung him back so he landed in a bone-shattering heap. Fire, blinding clouds of it, spewed skyward as hunks of wood and concrete, shards of glass, burning twists of metal flew.
Gage felt his broken arm try to knit, his shattered knee struggle to heal with pain worse than the wound itself. Gritting his teeth, he rolled, and what he saw stopped his heart in his chest. Cal lay in th e street, burning like a torch.
No, no, no, no! He crawled, shouting, gasping for oxygen in the tainted air. There was Fox, facedown in a widening pool of blood. It came, a black smear on that burning air that formed into a man. The demon smiled.
He woke with the stench of burning gas scoring his throat. He got up, got dressed. Dressed, he began to pack for the trip back to Hawkins Hollow.
The Pagan Stone
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