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Catharsis
Catharsis
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Skyla Dawn gives an overview of the book:

Live the Journey...Experience the Horror...Discover the Truth. CATHARSIS tells the story of a troubled young woman with special gifts and heavy burders... In an attempt to escape mysterious forces that may ultimately destroy her, Eve Shelby packs up her little sister, Dez, and embarks on a journey with a group of fellow telepaths. After a car accident leaves one person dead and Dez missing, Eve finds she must come to terms with her unique abilities and personal demons if she's going to survive and find her sister. But you can't always escape what you are...
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Live the Journey...Experience the Horror...Discover the Truth.

CATHARSIS tells the story of a troubled young woman with special gifts and heavy burders...

In an attempt to escape mysterious forces that may ultimately destroy her, Eve Shelby packs up her little sister, Dez, and embarks on a journey with a group of fellow telepaths.

After a car accident leaves one person dead and Dez missing, Eve finds she must come to terms with her unique abilities and personal demons if she's going to survive and find her sister.

But you can't always escape what you are...

Read an excerpt »

I was insane. I knew it. Normally that conclusion would take a person years to come to, but I've always been a bit ahead of everyone else. So I was nuts and fully aware of it. That happens.

In between contemplating my sanity and awareness that I lacked it, I had been surveying my surroundings. I suppose it was only fitting that I stood in front of an old psychiatric building. You know, with the whole craziness-thing. But I wouldn't be getting any treatment there; boards criss-crossed over the windows, murals and profanities were graffitied over the front of the building...the place was abandoned. All that was missing was the classic "condemned" sign over the door.

Clutched in my hand was a piece of paper with the address of the old building. I unfolded it, smoothed the crinkles, and re-read my scrawled writing. This was indeed the place he wanted me to meet him at.

As I stuffed the paper back in my pocket, I glanced around once more. The hospital was the only building in sight, but I saw nothing that suggested people were gathered within; no cars, no lights, no one ready to welcome me at the door. To make an already creepy situation complete, night had fallen quickly. With it came a cool breeze that stirred the fine strands of my hair. The final rays of light perished beyond the building, and the remaining fragments had turned my copper tresses a rather unflattering shade of orange.

My internal alarm bells were going wild at this point. That he planned to meet me only two counties from the small town where I lived freaked the hell out of me. Remember, I'm crazy, but not stupid. How the hell did he know where I lived? Though I wanted to turn back, I couldn't leave without information—without a reason for being drawn there.

I started up the steps.

I inspected the door, but it was nailed shut and wouldn't budge. Though most of the windows were similarly barred, the boards over one were loose enough for me to pry them off.

I paused—okay, more like "froze"—as complete darkness confronted me. This was just too much. An abandoned building in the middle of nowhere, pitch black, meeting people I didn't know...

Luckily, I came prepared. Not prepared in that I was packing an Uzi, but when I left the car I did think to bring a flashlight. I brought out the weak light and shone it inside. Even with the light, I found I had no desire to enter.

I recalled Rune's words from his last e-mail. The message had been short, impersonal, and ended with: This relates to what you are, and it's important we meet. At the bottom I found an address, a time and date, and now two weeks later at the rendezvous point, he was nowhere to be found.

That he specified "what" and not "who" had been weighing on my mind ever since I read the message. "What" was I? Just a normal twenty-year-old girl. Prior to the cryptic e-mail, I hadn't heard from Rune in over a month, and I'd started to worry. The hope of finding out what he meant had drawn me to meet him against everything sane I'd ever been taught.

Out of nowhere, an image of my mother came to me. I pictured her standing with me as I peered inside the abandoned building. "Eve," she would say, "are you that stupid that you'd run off and meet some person you met off the internet?" I would not resist the urge to say "yes," of course, because I'm just mouthy that way. Then she would dutifully point out that Rune might be part of a cult, or a fifty-year-old man, and all that. That's what mothers are there for, right? So concerned for my well being, she would forbid me to do anything but turn around and drive home immediately. And what daughter wouldn't want to listen to her mother?

With a smile, I climbed through the broken window and into the darkness.

Once inside, I wandered around the chairs scattered throughout the foyer and cast the light over the walls. The same graffiti from the outside spilled onto the interior walls. Becky luvs Jamie...Steve L. was here... some drawings of questionable anatomical correctness... Really riveting stuff.

I followed the writing as it extended past the receptionist's desk and down the primary corridor. At the end of the hallway were two flights of stairs. One led up, the other down.

Great, I thought. I sure as hell wouldn't be going down there.

"You looking for something?"

I nearly leapt a full foot off the ground as I heard the voice behind me.

"So are you?" the guy said as I turned around. From the shadows stepped a tall young man I didn't recognize. His hair was dark and short; eyes deep-set and equally as dark; skin either olive or tanned, though I couldn't tell which in the ugly glow of the flashlight. He was incredibly broad; his shoulders had to span twice what mine did, and I'm not exactly petite. I did not want to get cornered by this guy.

"Maybe," I replied warily, taking two steps back for every one he took forward.

He paused, looked me up and down, and then flashed a crooked grin that did manage to ease my nerves a bit. "Indigo?"

That was my internet I.D. Slowly, I nodded. "Rune?" I guessed, hoping I was wrong because this wasn't how I pictured him.

"Nope, he's not back yet. Gone to pick up someone else."

"And that would make you...?"

"Jupiter."

I remembered Jupiter well. Always with a crude joke to offend us girls, never a serious thought in his head, and completely the opposite of how he looked at this moment. Even in the poor light, I caught the concern in his expression.

"The others are downstairs," he said as he started past me.

I backed up. As I've established, I was crazy for showing up there in the first place, but I would not be going downstairs with that guy, even if he was Jupiter.

"You coming?"

"I'm thinking no."

"Look Indigo, we don't have much time."

"If it's that important, maybe everyone could come up here," I suggested. "Or maybe come to a crowded, well-lit public place."

"It isn't safe—"

"But the basement of an abandoned building two kilometres from civilization is?"

"If you wait and talk to Rune—"

"Talk to me about what?"

As I turned around, I suddenly felt as though I was surrounded. No, scratch that—not felt like. Was surrounded. Stairs behind me, a wall to my left, Jupiter to my right, and now this guy—who I surmised was Rune—was in front of me.

"You're Indigo?" he asked. I kept my flashlight on Jupiter while he was off to the side, and tried to make out Rune's features in the dark. He was slender but not really thin, and a bit taller than Jupiter. Straight dark blond hair just barely brushed his shoulders, and he looked pretty much as I had pictured him, with the exception of his clear blue eyes. They seemed far more hostile than I imagined quiet, gentle Rune's to be.

"Did Arrow make it?" Jupiter asked.

Rune gave the slightest shake of his head to indicate "no."

"Shit," Jupiter muttered.

"Arrow?" I repeated. It had been nearly three weeks since I'd heard from him, but I'd told myself that it was because he'd gone back to school and was busy.

Rune nodded. "He lived only twenty miles east of here...until recently."

"What happened to him?"

"He's dead."

"What?!"

"Supposedly he hung himself." Rune's face was void of all emotion as he spoke, and I wondered if I really did look at the same person I had chatted with for over a year. There was something far more aged about the guy before me—a weariness in his eyes that suggested he was much older than twenty.

"What the hell do you mean 'supposedly?'" I asked.

"How many people do you think we've been corresponding with online?"

"I don't know...twenty-something?"

"Twenty-six. So far nineteen are either dead or missing, all within the last month."

"Dead or missing?" I asked with a healthy dose of skepticism in my voice. "What the bloody hell is going on?"

"I don't think this place is safe," Jupiter said, and Rune met his eyes.

"It isn't," Rune replied. "If they've found Arrow then they might know we're here." For a moment both he and Jupiter seemed to forget I was there...and I really hate it when people ignore me.

"They who?" I interrupted.

"We have to leave, Indigo," Jupiter said. "And you have to come with us."

"Oh, do I?" I challenged.

"You'll—"

"Uh, no, I think I'll be staying here where people aren't psychotic."

"Indigo—"

"Jupiter," Rune said, his tone warning. With a sigh, Jupiter turned and started down the stairs.

"I'll get the others," he announced, as if it had actually been his idea to leave the conversation.

Once Jupiter was out of sight, I inched my way around Rune and toward the other end of the hallway.

"So why did you want to meet me here?" I asked.

"Something's happening," he said. "I don't know the details—yet—but while we were talking in that chat room, it seems like someone has been tracking us down."

"Uh, could it be you? You're the one who found me."

"Jace has been taking care of that."

"Jace found out where I live?" I asked and Rune nodded. Jace was a computer hacker or something. I never really asked what he did, since I guess I just wrongly assumed he wouldn't invade my privacy.

"No matter how they found us, Arrow's dead, and they probably know where you are."

"So? I haven't done anything to anybody or anything..." I paused to search my memory for a moment. Had I done something? No, I was pretty sure I'd remember committing an act worthy of someone murdering me.

"This isn't because of something we've done," he said calmly. Too calmly, in fact. I'll admit, only Rune would be that unfazed about someone being out murdering people. "It's because of who—or, more specifically, 'what'—we are."

"And what are we?" I asked, mocking his tone because truthfully I wasn't sure how else to react.

"You know what I'm talking about," he said quietly.

"Christ, are you like on crack or something?" I said, ignoring his words. "I don't even know you, and yet you show up here, expecting me to believe someone's coming to kill me?"

"Not just coming—may already be here."

"So is this the part where something freaky happens to scare me into going with you? If so, I’m sorry, but I've already seen that movie several times."

"You know I'd never try to contact you if it wasn't serious."

"Actually, Mr. Ominous, I was pretty sure you'd never try to contact me because you didn't know who I was!"

"I still don't. Jace is the only one who knows our real identities."

"Then do you mind bringing him up here so I can kick his ass?"

"Lisa's missing," Rune said. "Presumed dead."

"Lisa?" I repeated in disbelief. As far as good friends who I'd never actually met went, I put her near the top of the list.

"Her car was found smashed against a tree a week ago, but there was no body. However, the police found blood. A lot of it."

"Gosh, is it okay if I just take your word for it?" I muttered.

"I've got the articles back at the motel—"

"Ooh, and if I go in your car with you, can I have some candy too?"

"Fuck, we don't have time for this!" Jupiter shouted. He was still downstairs, but probably eavesdropping from the bottom step.

I took a few more quick steps back as Rune reached for something in the back pocket of his jeans. It was a small notebook, and he scribbled something down, tore the sheet from the book, and reached out to hand it to me.

"Take it," he said, but the request sounded more like a command.

"What is it?" I asked instead of accepting it.

"The address of a motel. We'll be there until Monday morning. When you change your mind, you can meet us there—"

"Thanks, but no." I started back toward the front of the building.

"We need to go immediately."

"Well then, go. You know, some people have jobs and responsibilities they can't just walk away from. Besides, I've heard your supposed story, and I've made the executive decision to leave."

I didn't need to glance back to know he followed me. So long as I could reach the window...

"Do whatever you have to do," he continued. "Give the address to a safety contact or something—"

I stopped at the window and slipped outside.

"Indigo—" Rune reached out and grabbed my arm.

I glanced at his hand, and then back in his eyes.

"See," I began. "The thing about my safety contact..."

Rune froze as the arm of a man—who stood just out of his sight—jutted out and pressed the six-inch blade of a knife to his throat.

"...is that I brought him," I continued sweetly. "And he's packing a weapon."

"Let her go," Malcolm Trottier, my tall-dark-and-handsome knight-in-shining-armour, said in a deep voice. It was like the warning growl of one caveman to another.

Cautiously, Rune released my arm, but he didn't take his eyes from mine.

"Indigo—" he began.

"I'll be going now," I said. "It was nice chatting with you, psycho."

"What the hell—she's leaving?" Jupiter shouted from behind Rune. I heard his footsteps pounding toward us.

"We'll be at the motel on the main highway two miles north of town," Rune said.

"Have fun," I called as Mal and I started for the car.

"Eight a.m.," Rune said.

"Whatever," I returned.

"If you don't come with us, you'll die," Jupiter yelled.

"At least you waited to threaten me until we were in front of a witness," I shouted as I opened the car door. "That'll help when I call the police."

Malcolm kept his silence until we were in the car. I fastened my seatbelt and stared out the window uncomfortably as he turned his dark eyes toward me.

Please don't say anything, please don't say anything...

"You took a risk, Eve," he said quietly.

"That's why I had you come, dear, " I replied in my usual sharp tone of voice. "And we didn't get murdered, raped, or kidnapped, so I'd say everything ended up okay."

"Eve."

I hated it when he used that tone. The tone meant to make me come clean about whatever untruths I spoke. Perhaps that was what broke us up almost six months earlier—that tone. It actually wasn't his fault, and I knew that, but I felt better thinking he was solely to blame.

"Eve, who was that guy?"

"Just a friend," I replied casually.

"You're friends with cult members now?"

"He was just concerned for my well-being," I said, perhaps a little too defensively. Damn Malcolm and his right-ness...he always made me react like that. Oops, that would be me blaming him for stuff again. Oh well.

"Concerned?" Mal asked with surprise.

"He may be delusional, but at least he cares."

"As opposed to me?"

"Shit, I didn't mean anything by it," I said quickly. Christ, he could be so sensitive sometimes. "Let's just go."

"Are you going to meet them at that motel?"

"C'mon, I deserve more credit than that."

"Are you?" he persisted.

"Of course not," I said. "I'm not that crazy." Technically speaking, I wasn't lying. At that moment, I was certain that even I wasn't loony enough to have any more contact with Rune.

But sometimes I surprise even myself.

skyla-dawn-cameron's picture

CATHARSIS was a free serialized novel with chapters posted on my site monthly from February 2004 to October 2005. Because it was a free thank you to the fans and originally published on the internet, I'm not seeking a traditional publisher, but will instead have the eBook available for free and the paperback available at Lulu.

Both the Standard Edition and the Special Edition are available now. The standard edition is just the basic story with no bells and whistles--it's for the casual fan, and it's the same thing you can download in eBook format here. The special edition contains the extended epilogue, prequel novelette, and a bunch of other stuff. That one isn't an eBook--it can only be read as a paperback.

About Skyla Dawn

Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever. Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed...

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