Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Street Savior Excerpt

Unfortunately, due to health issues, I haven't been able to meet my original goal of finishing Reading The Dead: Street Savior. There are still several chapters remaining until the book is completed. Since they include the all-important climaxes, I'm taking my time to get them exactly right.

With a word count surpassing 170,000, I'm on target for my original estimate of 180,000 words. The final tally may be a little more, actually.

I'm pleased to offer this exclusive sneak peek of a fun scene from the upcoming book. Before that, however, I would like to remind you that the first 100 pages of the book are still available online at

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy this Anna Nigma moment from Reading The Dead: Street Savior.

Marcie Yang stared at the closed booklet in front of her, rather than at the anxious faces of her classmates. The exam room reeked of perspiration and desperation. She could sense the other students fidgeting uncomfortably at their desks and resisted the urge to do the same. Her mind was a closed box from which everything she learned strained to escape. It took all of her will to settle her rattled nerves and remember her studies.

"You have two and a half hours to complete this exam," Professor Rodney Cooper announced from the front of the room. He was a surly little man with a cheap toupee and an even cheaper suit. "Be sure to sign your papers and read all questions very carefully. Some are multiple choice, but others require you to show your work fully. Marks will be docked for any questions not fully answered."

Marcie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She regretted not being religious. Some divine inspiration might have helped right about now.

Cooper studied the clock overhead, comparing it to his wristwatch. "Okay..." he started, pausing for the second hand to finish its rotation, "And you may begin!"

The breathless silence filling the chamber gave way to a flurry of shuffling papers. Marcie joined the din, flipping open her cover to view an assortment of multiple-choice questions. She grabbed her pencil and went to work answering them.

After breezing past the first four questions, her confidence rose. By the time she reached her first challenge, her trepidations were gone and the knowledge tucked away in her memory flowed freely. She concentrated on the work, and set aside everything else around her.

The question was a head scratcher. She read it thoroughly and carefully analyzed the problem. Her writing hand remained idle at the side of the booklet.

As she considered her choice of answers, a chill tickled her flesh. Her arms prickled and the fine hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. An icy cold seeped along her arm and settled into her writing hand. In the time it took to realize something strange was happening, everything from her elbow down suddenly went numb.

"Wha—?" she cried breathlessly.

Scared, Marcie tried lifting her dead hand. It budged less than an inch off the desk, before dropping lifelessly. At the same time, her deadened fingers tightened their grip on the pencil.

She reached for her cold wrist, terrified that something was wrong with her. Before touching it, however, her writing hand began to move on its own. It hopped onto the margin of her test book and began waving and jerking out of control.

Marcie jumped in her seat, covering her mouth to keep from screaming. She peered around in terror, looking for help and assurances that she wasn't the only one seeing this. Her classmates kept their faces buried in their papers.

The only person to notice her was Professor Cooper. He frowned at his gawking student and gave her a quick nod, warning her to keep her eyes on her own work.

She breathed hard and watched her hand slide over the paper with a mind of its own. The notion that she might have fallen asleep and started dreaming while studying occurred to her. She bit her lip hard enough to feel it. Whatever this was, it was no dream!

Her hand stopped. Warmth returned to her fingers. Marcie lifted her pencil, staring at it curiously. Her eyes dropped to the message that her possessed limb scrawled in the margins of her test page.


Her relieved sigh quickly turned into a low growl. "Anna!" she grumbled, flipping her pencil over and rubbing out the words with her eraser. "Damn it! Cut it out! I'm busy here!"

"Miss Yang!" a voice boomed at the head of the class. "Is there a problem?"

Marcie popped her head up. Cooper's stern face stared back at her.

"No! No problem!" she piped. "Just talking to myself!"

"Well, stop!" he snapped. "You're disturbing the other students."

Marcie gazed around. Her antics had earned the attention of every sour face in the room. She shrunk in her seat and dropped her gaze to Anna's message, now partially erased. Holding back a curse from her lips, she rubbed the remainder off the sheet.

The heat of everyone's stares dissipated as they resumed their tests.

No sooner had she finished and turned her pencil lead-side down when the familiar chill threatened to seep through her nerves a second time. Her wrist jerked on the page, moving to write another message.

"Agh!" Marcie cried.

This time, she pulled her hand away from her hijacker's invisible grasp before Anna could deface her test any further. Her pencil flipped out of her fingers and flew into the air, bouncing off the desk of the boy in front of her and rolling onto the floor.

Marcie covered her face with her hands and whispered, "Okay! I'll meet up with you later at the shop! Just, please, go away!"

"Miss Yang!" Cooper barked. "I'm not going to warn you again! One more outburst and you'll be asked to leave!"

"Sorry! Sorry! I'm sorry!"

The student ahead of her wordlessly handed her back her pencil. She nodded her thanks, her face bright red. Marcie peered around. The entire room stared back at her. She threw herself back into her work, but focusing on the questions in her excited state was akin to deciphering a foreign language.

She held onto her pencil at both ends and took measured breaths to settle herself. When at last the lecture hall had gone back to ignoring her again, she placed the pencil end-down on the side of the page and waited.

She sat still for close to a minute, watching her writing hand for any further attack from her paranormal companion. Anna must have been satisfied with her response and decided to leave her alone. Breathing a relieved sigh, she reread the question. There was still time to salvage her grade, provided she could settle her nerves and concentrate.

After a moment's consideration, Marcie moved her pencil to place a checkmark next to option A. However, before she wrote her answer, the cold invaded her hand again, pulling it towards her and scratching a mark next to B.

She scowled. Her invisible tormenter hadn't let up yet!

Marcie flipped her pencil over, preparing to erase the answer. As the rubber tip touched the page, however, she noticed something in the question's wording that gave her pause.

"Oh! That's right!" she whispered.

Marcie looked up, smiling. She caught the professor frowning at her and her happy expression faded away.

She closed her mouth, dropped her head, and moved on to the next exam question. Her poltergeist pal troubled her no further. Though she refused to look up from her paper, for the next two hours, she heard the soft titters of her classmates inundating the exam room.

Cooper's hairpiece had mysteriously extricated itself from his head without him realizing it and now adorned the potted ficus standing in the corner. His alarmed shriek upon spotting it there, fifteen minutes before the exam completed, would earn him the moniker of Fernhead by his students from that day onward.