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The Stelladaur Series, Book 2

Fading Heart

Fading Heart

Chapter 1
Vantage Post

Reilly tried to move but the weight of the beam pressing on his thigh and across his chest made it nearly impossible. Inhaling was difficult. A searing pain in his upper left leg intensified with each shallow breath. The euphoric melody he heard as he went through the portal in the reading room only moments before had vanished. Instead, the screeching and screaming of people running past him sounded like familiar haunting wails—though he didn't know why—and made him shudder from the neck up. Thunderous cracking sounds as great wooden beams crashed to the ground made him wish he could jump to his feet and run. But he could only cover his ears in an attempt to keep the cacophony from breaking his eardrums. His nose twitched from a pungent smell—thick and spicy—that added to the queasy feeling in his gut. It wasn't the invigorating aroma of leather, plank floors and oiled hardwood in the old library. Reilly wondered if he had tripped going through the portal and banged his head. Or maybe he hadn't made it through at all. Was the paneled door he had stepped through just the entrance to a large storage closet? Did a massive earthquake hit at that moment? Flinching, he twisted slightly as another beam crashed to the ground only feet away. He grunted as he pulled himself up on his elbows, and he felt the wood slide down his chest a few inches. He strained to lift it off his legs, but it barely budged, and he fell back down in pain.

"It's coming down! We're going to die!" someone yelled.

"No!" another protested. "Run!"

Turning in the direction of the voices, Reilly saw a throng of people racing towards him, but they passed by as if he didn't exist.

"Hey! Somebody help!" he shouted. But no one seemed to hear him above the clamoring sounds of the shaking earth and falling debris.

Blinking to clear his blurred vision, Reilly spotted a clump of strange red mushrooms poking up from a cluster of matted ferns. Again, he strained to lift himself up on his elbows, despite the pain, and gripped the beam lying across his legs to support his upper body. His fingers slipped on the damp, mossy wood and he realized it was not a beam but a large tree branch...

Another thick branch crashed down, landing crisscross over the one on his leg. Then it rolled off, causing the one that pinned him to the ground to scrape down to his shin with a mighty force. He screamed in pain but barely heard himself above the rumble and violent shaking.

Slowly, Reilly sat up, relieved to be able to do so, and he breathed more deeply. Blood seeped through his torn pant leg and stained the fabric. Pulling it back, he saw the culprit—a piece of wood piercing his thigh like a giant sliver. He yanked it out and yelled even louder. As the blood began to gush a strange odor permeated his nostrils, and he covered his mouth to keep from retching. Feeling dizzy, he hung his head to his chest, letting his tangled hair cover his eyes. It was difficult to breathe again, and he couldn't tell if the reeling motion came from inside his body or from the moving ground. Still trapped at the ankle, he fell back again and closed his eyes.

Can I think if I'm dead? Can I bleed?...

© S.L. Whyte