Four days left until the release date for Permanent Damage. Ten stories. A teaser every day for each story to whet your appetite, give you a hint of the plot and the feel of them.
Today we find a man who’s used to seeing his own ghosts. Let’s see how well he deals with someone else’s . . . .
NEW YEAR, OLD GHOSTS
I placed the photograph on top of the pile of books and watched the agitated dust spin and dance in the light. Dust really is what we leave behind — dead skin cells and tiny fragments of hair, fibers from the clothes we wear. Dust is older than life itself and its motes hold more memories than you could ever count.
“It’s all right,” I said quietly. “You can come out now.”
I stood there motionless, waiting for the barest whisper of a sign. None came, and I nodded — he would show himself when he was ready, or not at all. I went to start my morning.
I ran the shower as hot as I can stand it — I always needed to, mornings after Cecily’s visits, needing to rekindle some kind of inner warmth. I stood under the pounding water and just let my attention drift, thinking of nothing at all, feeling just animal pleasure in the heat and letting the tension bleed out of my shoulders and back.
The shower curtain was pulled sharply back. Just a few inches, maybe a foot, but enough to snap me back to the moment. I shut off the water and reached out for my towel, wrapped it around my waist, and opened the curtain the rest of the way.
Easier to see, in the steam-filled room, an absence the shape of a man. It stood there for just a moment, only disappearing when I stepped out into the room, letting the steam billow into the space where it had been standing.
Already fading in the heat, letters on the bathroom mirror, drawn by a dead finger. CAREFUL.
“Permanent Damage” — Available Oct 1, 2012. Pre-order now!previous post: “Permanent Damage” Teaser Six: HEROES AND VILLAINS | next post: “Permanent Damage” Teaser Eight: THE OLD APARTMENT