Here is a sneak peak of my debut novel, Harbinger, originally released through Trident Media Group and now to be released in paperback and e-book form this winter through Hobbes End Publishing. This isn’t the absolute final edit so changes are to come…but here’s a look inside!
Mitch Joiner was the first in the town to realize something was wrong. He realized it only a brief moment after stepping out from his gated yard onto the worn, cracked sidewalk that ran alongside Bell Street.
Whenever he noticed the sign or was reminded of his address, Mitch would internally scoff and scorn the name of the street on which he lived. He knew the man for which Bell Street had been named. It was the famous Jimmy Bell, and Mitch was of the opinion that he’d been nothing but a two timing shyster. His living relatives were no different. It was hard to imagine, when one looked at the white trash the Bell family had become, that they used to be one of the most prominent families in Rowley, highlighted by the boisterous and portly mayor, Jimmy Bell.
That job should have been mine, Mitch would think with a pent up bitterness that only had grown uglier over the years.
It was truly ironic that Mitch had ended up living on the street that bore the name of his past rival. Living on that street was a constant reminder of his past strife – of his personal failure that he never had been able to get over.
That day however, when Mitch Joiner stepped out onto Bell Street, he didn’t think about the festering hatred that he harbored for the late Jimmy Bell or any of his wretched spawn that still populated the town. That day, Mitch could only notice one thing, and that thing was a peculiar absence.
Where the hell are all the birds?
Mitch Joiner had gone for a morning jog every day of his life since he was twenty, and the streak was still well alive fifty-one years later. It was a habit he prided himself on, and he made sure to bring the fact up every time he encountered a new acquaintance.
Regardless of the circumstances, Mitch had never missed a single day of his routine. If he was out of town he made sure to get up at the crack of dawn and take a jog. If he had early responsibilities to attend to on the upcoming day he would get up even earlier. Jogging was Mitch’s way of getting away from the past and assuring himself that he would never suffer the same fate as his parents.
Mitch had watched two parents die in their early fifties. His father’s heart had been unable to pump blood throughout the bloated body years of unchecked gluttony had given him while his mother had become another statistic by falling to lung cancer thanks to her thirty years of smoking. Those events influenced Mitch to such a degree that he promised to never follow in his parent’s footsteps. He would be fit and live a long life free of the concerns of health and longevity.
Even at seventy–one he could run two miles without stopping, and a third if he was feeling particularly limber that day. He had always taken pride in the fact that he was in better shape than most of the lazy children of the town. The old man had some step, and he figured with how well he had treated himself over the years he would live to be a hundred.
He was wrong.
The birds weren’t chirping that day; not a single peep could be heard from either side of the eerily silent Bell Street. This struck Mitch as strange. Almost every time he had gone to take his daily jogs (save for the times when it was down pouring, times which he still trucked through the weather for his run) the birds were singing happily all up and down the street, and merrily from those adjoining it. There were sparrows, blue jays, and cardinals; all delightful little animals gracing the morning with their song.
For a man who was so bitter toward his past and people in the present, the carefree innocence of the birds had always provided him moments of peace and relaxation. For a short time it was like he could experience a sense of true freedom and happiness – feelings he had never been able to obtain on his own.
But that day there was nothing.
Just dead silence.
Not only did he not hear any birds, Mitch didn’t hear any resonance of a sound at all. There were no birds, no sound of distant cars, no scraping of loose trash blowing across the street, no echo of the wind as it carried itself throughout the town – there was absolutely nothing.
Just dead silence.
This shouldn’t have been all that unusual. Rowley was a sleepy town of two thousand residents with one traffic light, no bustling nightlife, and scarce few morning commuters. At ten before six it wasn’t a shocker to have the streets barren of people and vehicles but Mitch still couldn’t shake the creeping suspicion that something just wasn’t right.
Then Mitch saw the fog moving from the intersection of Bell and River Street, gravitating from its position toward Mitch with a speed that fog shouldn’t possess. Mitch couldn’t help but be hit with a sinking feeling of trepidation as he saw the strange haze. At first he couldn’t put his finger on exactly why it disturbed him – he had more than his fair share of experience jogging through inclement weather. Rain, sleet, snow, or hail Mitch had gone right on jogging.
But there was just something odd about this fog, and his insides churned as he stared at the approaching, billowing, wispy wall of gray.