FRACTURED: When Shadows Arise
By Cathy Hird
Although the sun was close to setting, heat made the air above the black road shimmer. Sweat formed on Korina’s neck, and for a moment, she considered skipping her evening run. But exercise was the only way to keep tuned up for soccer, and a run got her out from under her parents’ noses. She headed away from the road toward the cooler rail trail.
No one else was out. The crunch of dry gravel under her feet was the only sound. Being alone was not an issue in this sleepy community, but she still wished her friend Dara had bowed out of the work at home to join her.
A cat disappeared into the dark beneath the shrubs. Funny, she hadn’t noticed the animal on the trail. Time to get focused with a sprint.
Something caught her eye near the ground. A shadow crept along beside the path, then disappeared. Get a grip, girlfriend! You’re just anxious about tomorrow’s physics exam. That, or Sunday’s soccer game against the toughest team in the league.
A touch on her shoulder made her skin sting. Why hadn’t she heard this creep catch up with her? She whirled around. The trail was empty except for her long shadow stretching across the gravel.
Her silver necklace went cold, and the crystal pendant became heavy as a bowling ball. A black mist rose from the ground, reached out to touch her. Korina stepped backward. Numbness spread down her arm.
A streetlight turned on behind her, and the mist retreated. She stepped into the circle of light, breathing heavily. Something slunk away into the brush. Must have been a big cat. The heat and the dimming light of the setting sun made her think there was a mist. And imagine someone touched me?
Car lights cut through the bushes casting sharp shadows like abnormally long hands with reaching fingers. Her shoulders relaxed: these shadows made sense.
Korina ran down the well-lit side road toward the highway. She rubbed her shoulder, but couldn’t feel the touch of her fingers. Maybe she had pinched a nerve bumping into a tree when the shadow freaked her out. She rubbed harder.
At the edge of the busy road, Korina jogged in place until there was a break in the traffic. Crossing the street, she headed for home, keeping an eye on the shadows under the bushes, looking for a stray cat. She refused to inspect every shrub looking for a crawling, slinking mist-shadow that did not exist.
No more jogging alone. The next night, Dara would have to give up everything else to join her.
FRACTURED: When Shadows Arise ~ Buy it HERE
Step onto the rail trail outside a quiet Ontario town for an evening jog. A normal thing to do, until…
As grade twelve exams finish, Dara anticipates a summer working in the family market garden and hanging out with her friend Korina. But when her friend heads out to jog on the rail trail outside Thornbury, a shadow-creature attacks her. The next night, at the mound south of the town, when William joins them to mark the solstice, a giant shadow-creature threatens the teens. As they band together to dig into the mysterious origin of the shape-shifting shadows, they realize that the dangerous creatures are connected to Dara’s father…
In this story, familiar sites become places of mystery and danger as Celtic mythology and ancient alchemy come to life. The fractured limestone, shale beaches, and rail trails become thresholds from ordinary life into something unexpected. Three young people getting ready for university discover the make-up of the world is very different from what they learned in school as their skills and courage are tested.
Cathy Hird is a shepherd and a weaver. She runs a small sheep farm with her family and shepherds two rural churches near Owen Sound. Cathy weaves tapestries and scarves, and her writing draws together the threads of ancient myth and modern questions. Fractured: When Shadows Arise is her third novel and the first book in the Cup, Sword, and Stone Trilogy. Cathy writes a weekly column for OwenSoundHub.org, short stories, and some creative non-fiction. She is an avid reader who loves uncovering the worlds others build.