Monday, February 10, 2014

The Forgotten Girl Prologue and Chapter 1

The Forgotten Girl--a Dark Thriller and standalone--is up for preorder! You can read the prologue and first chapter below :)

Twenty-three one-old Maddie Asherford is haunted by a past she can’t remember. When she was fifteen years old, there was a tragic accident and she was left with amnesia.

In the aftermath, Maddie’s left struggling with who she is—the forgotten girl she was six years ago or the Maddie she is now. Sometimes it even feels like she might be two different people completely—the good Maddie and the bad one.

Good Maddie goes to therapy, spends time with her family, and works on healing herself. Bad Maddie rebels and has dark thoughts of hurting people and sometimes even killing them.

Maddie manages to keep her twisted thoughts hidden for the most part. That is until she starts having blackouts. Each time she wakes up from one, she’s near a murder scene with no recollection of what happened the night before and this helpless feeling like she’s losing control of her life. Maddie doesn’t want to believe she’s a killer, but she begins to question who she really was in her past. If she was bad Maddie all along and that maybe she was a killer.

***This is from the unedited version and content may change***  Mature Content Warning, 17+ for language and violence***


The heart is a fascinating. It’s the center of it all. Pumps blood through the body. Fuels it. Feeds it. Starves it. It’s steady when we’re steady. Is erratic when we’re erratic. When goes silent, everything inside us stops moving. When we’re alive, it’s the fuel to that life. It feeds the adrenaline. Soars it through us. Makes us able to do more than we’re normally capable of. The same thing goes for when we’re afraid. Fear. It’s as potent than life and the more afraid we are, the faster our hearts beat.
Right now, my heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest as I stare at the dark sky, rain pouring down as lightning bolts slap against the earth, barely able to turn my head. My hair, clothes, skin, lungs, are drenched and my eyelashes blink fiercely against the raindrops. Tips of pine trees and a massive steel water tower are in my peripheral vision. Glass is scattered around my head, a halo of piercing thorns, cutting my scalp. The puddles on the pavement ripple against my back. Lights shine on me from somewhere and blood trickles from my head into my eyes.
I don’t know how I got here, where here is, or who the hell I am. I know nothing except I’m lying in the middle of the road and it’s nighttime. My arms are kinked and twisted above my head and my legs cut up and sprawled out in a position that’s awkward and unnatural. There’s something clutched in the palm of my hand, metal with sharp edges that are splitting open my trembling palm. I should let whatever it is go… but I can’t find the will to unfold my fingers from around it. In fact, I want to hold onto it. Just thinking about letting go sends my heart slamming against my chest, faster, faster, faster. I’m scared… alive… scared… alive. I can’t tell which one. I feel dead.
Am I dead?
The thought sends a strange calmness to my chest and my heart gradually slows, the cold not so bad. Death. Is the thought of dying calming me? Or is my heart dying and I’m dying with it?  I’m not sure whether to keep trying to breathe or just let go. Do I want to die? Why does it feel like the answer is yes and no?
I attempt to turn my head, look around, figure out where I am. With a lot of effort, I manage to slant my head to the left but immediately regret it when I’m blinded by a light… two lights. Is that death?
Blinking several times, the rain washes the blood away from my eyes and I make out where the lights are coming from.  Headlights of a car parked in the middle of the road... I’m lying in the middle of the road. Wait. Why am I lying in the middle of the road? Was I hit by a car? Why can’t I remember?
I attempt to flip over onto my stomach, but my legs, arms, torso, aren’t having any part of it. I need help.  Someone help me! I open my mouth to scream, but the rain drowns me, floods my mouth and lungs.
I shut my eyes and listen to the descending rhythm of my heart. Slower. Stiller. Vanishing. Water rivers over me, icy, cold, but I’m so warm inside. Numb. The pain erasing. Fading. I can’t hear the rain anymore. I think I might be dying…
“Can you hear me?” A voice drifts through the stillness, but I’m not sure if it came from inside head or outside in the rain. I know it though… I think…
With effort, I open my eyes. It’s darker, one of the headlights blocked out by something… a tall figure standing in the rain.
“Who’s… there?” My voice is hoarse, feeble, helpless.
The stranger doesn’t respond, silently walking toward me. Boots crunch against the wet pavement, splash through the puddles. With each step, my heart beats quicker. Thump. Thump. Thump. Blood crashes through my body. I can feel the rain again. Feel the blood running down my head. Feel the pain. It feels like I should get up and run, move, but I still can’t move and suddenly they’re standing right above me. I can’t see they’re face through the veil and the light hitting the back of them, but my heartbeat quickens with every second they stare at me. Fear. I think I’m afraid. Of them? Or of dying?
“Who… are… you…” I croak, my body quivering as I lie there helplessly.
They continue to stare for a while before crouching down beside me. I have the strangest compulsion to reach up and claw their eyes out, hurt them, but I can’t lift my arms up.  They lean over me, sheltering my face from the rain with theirs. I still can’t see their expression or facial features, but know their watching me. My heart thrashes deafeningly inside my chest. Quicker. Quicker. Quicker.  My chest moves with it, gasping for air. I can’t hear, see, think. Who am I?
The person assesses me with their head titled to the side, then they reach over me, their fingers seeking my hand. I start to shake, thrash my body, scream, my heart racing so fast inside my chest it aches deep inside my muscles. My adrenaline soars, blood rushes through my body. It’s too much. I get dizzy, the world becoming colors and shapes that I can’t make sense of anything. But I feel the touch of fingers on my hand as they pry my fingers open easily, despite my desperation to hold onto it. The object falls out. Plink. Hits the pavement. My heart crashes against my chest so hard it knocks the breath out of me. I suck in a breath and scream as loud as I can. Then everything goes black.

Chapter 1

8 years later…

I’m considering killing my therapist. Leaning over his mahogany desk, clubbing him over the head with the smiley face paperweight, and watching him fall out of his chair and onto the floor. I’d calmly get up and walk over to him. Then crouching beside him, my fingers would enfold around his neck and I’d squeeze until he gasped his last breath. I wonder how pallid his face would be toward the end, if his veins would be more defined, if a plea would escape his lips. Please don’t do it. I have a family. I don’t want to die. I’m so sorry, Maddie, for making you sit through this endless torture of therapy sessions, making you feel more insane with each one. To which I’d reply, I’m not Maddie. I’m Lily.
It’d probably take a lot of strength, more than Maddie has, but the adrenaline rush might give Lily enough. The only thing I’m unsure of is if I’d get cold feet halfway through—if Maddie would take over. If perhaps my dark and morbid thoughts were never meant to be lived out. That they were just put there to torture me.
I might find out soon if my therapists keeps asking me what’s going on inside my head.  Too much pushing and I’ll finally break down and tell him what’s really taking up most of my brain space. That I want to try killing him, not just because he’s wearing on my nerves today, but so I can finally discover who I really am inside. Lily or Maddie. Good or bad. If he got angry and told me how crazy I was acting, I would simply blame it on Lily, the voice within me, urging me to do it.
But then I’d actually have to explain who Lily is. A name of purity, innocence, and beauty, it probably doesn’t seem so bad. A flower commonly used at weddings, which represent happy times, full of smiles, kisses, and hearts. Of course, it’s also the most common flower used at funerals.
I remember when I was at the hospital after the accident I’ll never be able to remember, after I’d finally woken up, Lilies were the first things I saw. A black and purple vase full of blooming lilies, white like the snow outside my window. They were supposed to cheer me up, a present from my grandmother, but I only felt inner peace when they started to wilt and die. It reminded me of how I felt inside. Dying off, life slipping away, unnourished. Maddie was dying and Lily started to rise in her place. The problem is, I’m not sure which one to be anymore. Who should live and who should die.
“Maddie, did you hear anything I just said at all?” Preston Wrightson, my therapist for the last two months, waves his hand in front of my face. There’s a sharpened pencil in his hand and I flinch back when it nearly pokes my eye out. “Sorry,” he apologizes, quickly withdrawing his hand holding the pencil. “But you were zoning out on me.”
“As much as I think I could rock the pirate look,” I say, touching my eye that survived a near punctured. “Maybe you should start working on your depth perception before you go waving around sharp objects.”
He sighs, that oh Maddie and your sarcasm sigh, and then looks down at the manila folder in front of him, the one that carries eight years of notes about me, notes taken from him, along with my five previous therapists.  I can only imagine what they say. Difficult. Uncooperative. Confused. Childish. I’ve heard it all before and there precisely right. I am all those things and more, if only they could crack into the more part and explain it to me.
After reading today’s notes over, he sighs again, and then shuts the folder. There’s disapproval in his expression when he glances up at me. “Maddie, you’ve barely spoken today at all.” He overlaps his hands on the desk, scooting his office chair forward. “It seems like for the last couple of visits, you’ve kind of regressed from when I first met you.”
Slanting my head to the side, I bring my foot up onto the chair and rest my chin on top of it. “Maybe I just don’t have anything to say anymore.” I pause, contemplatively, an idea sparkling inside Lily’s side of the mind. “Or maybe it’s just your dazzling, prince charming looks that have me all distracted. Perhaps that boy band combo you got going on,” I lift my hand and gesture at his boyish good looks, blonde hair, blue eyes, dimples, GA suit, looks that I’m sure many women are drawn to, “It’s very hard to form words when I’ve pretty much go my own ken doll right in front of me.” I’ve actually always despised ken dolls or at least I think I did. After the accident, my mom gave me boxes of my old stuff, full of things like toys, drawings, clay vases and sculptures. There were a few Barbies and ken dolls in it and all the ken dolls head’s were ripped off. I wonder what it means. What was going on through my head when I did it? Whether I popped the heads of the doll because I thought he cheated on Barbie or something or if maybe I just enjoyed the act of popping off his head.
Preston’s mouth sinks to a frown and he squirms uncomfortably. “I thought we discussed that you can’t flirt or flatter me anymore. It’s wrong and I can’t allow it.”
“Oh, it’s not flattery, Preston,” I say, lowering my foot to the floor and leaning forward in the chair, tucking a stand of my chin-length black hair behind my ear. “Because I’m not a fan of ken dolls.” I wink at him.
He shakes his head, reaching for his pencil again. “Maddie please, knock it off.”
“Sorry.” There’s zero sincerity in my voice.
He sighs, writing down a note. “You say you don’t like ken dolls but how do you know that for sure?” he asks. I’m not quite sure if he’s using ken doll as a metaphor or not, but regardless I find it amusing. “Is it because of something you remember? Or is it just a hunch you have?”
“A hunch that I don’t like plastic, blonde haired, atomically incorrect dolls?” I ask and when he nods, completely serious, I have to bite on my lip to keep from laughing at him as Lily whispers for me to have fun with him. Play a game with him, like cat and mouse. “Well, I’m not sure if it’s a memory per se,” I say with an exaggerated sigh. “So much as a dream I keep having?”
Curiosity rises in his expression. “And what happens in the dream?”
“Headless dolls are walking around everywhere.”
He’s delighted, eyes bright, and illuminated. “And are the dolls doing anything in particular as the walk around?”
“Yeah, they’re biting each other, like zombies.” I slant forward and whisper, “And the strange part is that whenever I wake up, I have the strangest desire to go find a doll and eat it.”
He looks disgust for the briefest seconds and then his repulsion shifts to irritation as I smile and relax back in my chair, crossing my leg, Lily quieting down as she gets the satisfaction she craves. “Relax, I’m just fucking with you Preston.”
He frowns. “Maddie, you know as well as I do that every time you lie, it makes it harder for me to believe you.”
“Maybe that’s what I want.”
He shakes his head.  “No, I think it’s your way of avoiding the truth and what you’re most afraid of.”
“Which is?”
“The fear of your past,” he says, glancing at my folder.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I say calmly, despite the rise of fear inside me. Does he know my secret?  “I’m not afraid of my past.”
He gives me a sympathetic look. “Maddie, I know it’s hard to think about, but it has to bother you—the fact that you may never truly remember anything before the accident.”
Oh. That fear. I relax, but try to appear heartbroken on the outside. “But the idea that I might scares me.” I press my hand to my heart, like I’m it aches to speak of it, when really I feel nothing.
He nods understandingly, buying straight into my next lie.  “That’s an understandable fear, Maddie. I’m sure anyone in your situation would probably feel the same way.”
Oh, I doubt anyone is feeling how I’m feeling at the moment, except for maybe serial killers. And maybe a dominatrix. “So what do you suggest I do?” I ask innocently. “To help calm the fear?”
“Talk about it,” he suggests simply. “It’s what we really need to start working on during these sessions. Talking and communicating.” He taps his finger on top of the folder. “It seems like your previous therapists thought the same thing.”
“I’m sure they did,” I mutter, glancing at the clock. Is it time to go yet? Almost. “But how am I supposed to talk about things with someone I don’t trust.”
“You don’t trust me?” he asks with a pucker at his brow.
I look at him. Eyes so full of concern. So nice. Polite. And yet, he irritates me about as much as my previous therapists. “You have to earn trust, just like you said.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do,” he promises me, sitting up straight in the chair. “You can trust me. Anything that’s said in here is strictly confidential.”
“I know.” I scratch at the back of my neck. Yeah, you say that now, but I’m sure the feeling would change the moment my real thoughts spilled out of me.
He opens his mouth to say something but I get to my feet, interrupting him, as the timer goes off, announcing the end of our session.
“Oh, times up,” I say, faking disappointment as I pick up my bag from off the floor. “I guess I’ll have to wait until next week to spill all my inner desires out to you.” I wink at him again, and then before he can say anything, I start to leave.
“Maddie,” he calls out and sighing, I turn and face. He’s stood up and is loosening his tie as he gathers papers on his desk into a stack. “I want to try hypnotherapy on you again next week, if that’s okay.”
I shrug, sliding the handle of my bag onto my shoulder. “Sure, but I don’t know why. It never works.”
“I know the previous times haven’t worked that well,” he says, pulling his red tie completely off and tossing it onto his desk. “But I’d like to try a new method if that’s okay.” He unbuttons the two buttons on his collar shirt, giving me a clear shot of his neck, the one I pictured strangling a few moments ago.
“Whatever you think. You are the doctor after all.” I point to his PhD on the wall, black bold letters with his name on it. “Or at least according to that you are.”
He releases an exhausted breath. “I’ll see you next week, Maddie.”
I wave as I walk out the door, keeping a neutral expression until I get outside. Then I smile. Not because the sessions over. But because it’s almost time to let Lily out for the night.


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