Title: Dark Halo
Author: Christopher Kokoski
Publication Date: June 2012
Publisher: Blackwyrm Publishing
Available Formats: eBook, Paperback
Blog Tour: First Rule Publicity
Description: In a town besieged by shadowy, demonic forces, a father races against time to save his family.
Thirty-five-year old Landon Paddock has deserted his wife and daughter, abandoned his business, and secluded himself in his late parent’s southern Indiana ranch. But he’s barely lapsed into a drunken coma when a mysterious, winged stranger appears during a violent lightning storm, chasing him out into the maddening night with his estranged 15-year old daughter.
As layer after layer of reality is dissolved by a series of violent encounters, the only way to survive might be for Landon to band together with the family he destroyed to make one last stand against a sinister army of unthinkable magnitude.
“Come on,” he said, jogging off the front porch. Mud squished between his toes and the storm pounded him from all sides. When he wrenched open the driver’s side door, one of the rat-things pounced at him.
Stumbling backwards, Landon slipped in the mud and landed on his back. The rat tore at his chest with sharp nails, beady eyes glinting in the rain.
Katie sloshed around the truck as he grabbed the creature and flung it away. Two more rodents came from under the pickup, attacking his legs. Blood seeping from wounds on his chest, he kicked at them, unable to use the rifle at such close distance. He struck one and it tumbled to the side, but the other one latched on to his shin, digging its teeth into his leg.
Howling, he shook his leg, but the rat would not give. So instead, he grabbed it with his free hand and yanked. His flesh tore, sending pain throbbing up to his thigh.
Out of the storm, from both sides, creeped three more, baring their rodent-teeth, yellow eyes luminous.
“Get in the truck,” he yelled, squeezing the rat’s body until it finally released him.
Katie scrambled into the driver’s seat and turned the key. The engine caught and revved to life. Something, somehow, had turned it off earlier.
Landon tossed the rat at one of the others and forced himself toward the pickup as another creature leaped onto his back. Pain suddenly flowed from that direction. “Go. Go,” he said, shaking the rifle as he had his leg moments before.
Whipping her head back and forth, she said, “I can’t. I won’t leave you.”
“Go. I’ll jump in the back.”
Landon gripped the rifle with both hands and slammed down hard on the head of the creature attached to this shin. It slumped to the mud, dead. Before Katie moved the Ford, the one on his back climbed his spine like a ladder of flesh and bone. Flinching, Landon rammed the side of the pickup back first, crushing the rat.
Dizzy, blinded by the rain, Landon spun in a circle, battering the night with his rifle.
The Ford’s headlights flashed on and illuminated the front porch. Katie pulled the truck to the right, swinging the twin beams back to the driveway.
Landon thought he heard Katie say something but her voice was lost in the storm. Searching the darkness around him, he wondered how many more creatures were out there.
Katie yelled something else. She turned the truck completely around, the passenger’s side door now facing him.
From the bed of the pickup sprung another rat. He ducked and it flew over his head. Two more that he would have sworn weren’t there a moment ago clawed at his feet. Dancing around in the mud, Landon swatted at them with the rifle.
Through the thick swags of the storm flickered dozens of gold-tinted eyes. Landon counted six pairs of them before something bit into his calf.
Clenching his teeth against the pain, he clasped the side of the truck bed with one hand and, leaning forward, slung himself over the side.
The storm had filled the bed of the truck with more water, but had not yet washed out Katie’s boyfriend’s blood or the bits of his shattered face.
Splashing into that sick pool, Landon felt disease itch its way all over his body. He didn’t know if he shuddered more because of the slimy substance of the water or the fear of those rat-things. Amazingly, he still clutched the rifle in one hand. He quickly fished the extra clip out of his pocket and reloaded.
The Ford lurched forward. As they drove toward the main road, Landon looked back, but could no longer see the house, as if it were a ghost ship swallowed by the sea.
Turning toward the front of the pickup, he thought of the severed hand, the flashing lights that had flooded his house, the winged creature and those rat things. He was sure they all pointed to the truth behind what was happening, but he could not figure it out.
Or maybe he didn’t want to, because maybe the truth would shatter every notion about life and reality, every assumption, every firm foundation he had ever known.
Wading to the open sliding window that separated him from Katie, he realized how much pain he was in. Blood flowed from open wounds on his arms, chest and legs. He would need medical attention.
Bumping along the driveway in the truck bed, Landon supported himself by holding onto the lip of the window. When he glanced up, he no longer felt like he was looking at the familiar night sky, rather a gaping doorway to a place more terrifying than hell.
About the Author:
Christopher was born in Kansas, the son of an Army Ranger and Black Hawk pilot. He grew up in Kentucky and Germany, and graduated from Murray State University in 2002 with a degree in Organizational Communication. He spent the next three years laboring over his first book, Past Lives, while getting married to his college sweetheart, having a beautiful daughter, and more or less finding his stride in life.
He currently lives in Southern Indiana and works in Louisville, Kentucky as a national trainer. He has presented at local and national conferences on a wide spectrum of topics including communication, body language, cultural sensitivity and influence. Other notable activities include writing articles, short stories, novels and training materials for national and international audiences.
Christopher continues his passion and dedication to writing by working on additional novels, including a sequel to the Past Lives series. His most recent book is the standalone paranormal thriller, Dark Halo.
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