Cast Down Series; Preview
The following is a brief excerpt from Cast Down. The series of three books (one available now, two coming soon) are companion novels that will not need to be read in any particular order to be enjoyed, although they are related with several characters making "crossover" appearances in each.
Branches scratched lightly at the window of the little girl’s bedroom as she chattered happily at the invisible friend in the rocking chair. “An’ then next year, I’m gonna go to school the whole day,” she announced happily. She paused and listened intently for a few moments, cocking her head and paying close attention. “You want another towel? Okay, Melissa, I’ll go ask Mrs. Henderson for one,” she agreed as she jumped to her feet and ran out of the room.
Maureen Henderson dried off the last dinner plate and put it back into the cabinet. She folded the dishtowel adorned with brightly colored roosters and hung it back in its place. With her own children long grown and her grandchildren many miles away, it gave her a certain comfort to babysit weekly for the new little girl on her street. Five year old Carrie Carson was a sweet little thing, and never gave her any trouble at all. Carrie and her parents had moved into the neighborhood several months earlier. They were a young, hardworking couple who tried their best to provide a happy, stable home for their daughter, while making sure to take time for just the two of them as well. Carrie had just begun attending half day kindergarten and was thrilled to be a “big girl”.
Maureen rubbed her arthritic fingers as she turned away from the kitchen sink and started toward the living room. She could hear her independent little charge playing upstairs, and she herself was eager to get back to the book she’d been reading. She saw the novel where she’d left it on the arm of the big chair in front of the fireplace. Her goal, while close, was still out of reach once she heard the thumping of small feet coming down the staircase, followed by the call of her name.
“Yes, sweetheart?” she asked, turning to see the little blonde girl standing in the archway.
“Mrs. Henderson, may I please have another towel for my friend?” Carrie asked.
“Another towel?” she chuckled. “My goodness, your friend likes to stay clean, doesn’t she? What did she do, take another shower?”
“No, ma’am, she’s just still wet,” Carrie tried to explain. Melissa had been coming to visit ever since the Carsons had moved in, and the other little girl was always dripping wet. Fortunately for Carrie, she didn’t leave any puddles that her parents might blame her for.
Mrs. Henderson headed towards the staircase. “Well, let’s just go get another towel out of the linen closet and see if we can’t get her dried off for good this time,” she suggested. At the top of the stairs, just outside the bathroom door was a small linen closet and Mrs. Henderson retrieved the same clean, dry towel she’d given the youngster earlier for the same purpose. “Where’s your friend now, in your bedroom still?”
“Yes, ma’am, she likes it there,” Carrie replied, accepting the towel and leading the way to her private palace. The rocking chair moved slowly, back and forth, the motions barely noticeable.
Maureen shivered as she approached the chair with Carrie. “Getting awfully chilly in here. Maybe it’s time to close these windows after all.” She moved away from the rocking chair toward the window to close it against what she assumed was a cold breeze. When she reached the window, she noticed that it was already shut and locked. In addition, she noted that it was distinctly warmer by the window than it had been in the middle of the room – where the rocking chair sat. She glanced up to the ceiling for a possible open vent that might be causing the chill, but there was no vent there. She then took a step back towards the middle of the room and immediately felt the temperature drop as she approached the rocker again. She watched Carrie as she stood behind the chair, ministering to her invisible friend, making futile gestures with the towel. “Is your friend not dry yet?” she asked, mustering an uneasy smile.
Carrie sighed dramatically. “No, ma’am. She doesn’t ever dry off. She says she can’t dry off, she keeps falling into the pool.”
The chair rocked violently backwards and froze suspended at an unnatural angle. Maureen Henderson felt suddenly sick to her stomach.