(Dark Coven #1)
by Sara Caldwell
Seventeen-year-old Harper Duncan never fit in anywhere her family moved…and they moved a lot. But after her parents and brother die in a tragic accident, she finds out she’s adopted, and her birth mother lives in a remote retreat called Raven Dock. Harper ventures north and discovers a dark family secret: her birth mother is a witch. And she’s one too. As Harper Learns about her own hidden powers, will she choose to embrace her chilling heritage, or return to the safety of the ordinary world?
I yawned and leaned against my pillow, finally drifting to a fitful sleep as the Valium fully kicked in. I dreamt I was running in slow motion toward the accident, watching the college student pull Danny from the car. I saw Mom’s head leaning on Dad, who hung upside down, skull crushed and blood streaming down his face. The ghastly image seared forever in my mind. I noticed the jade pendant dangling from his neck. It seemed to sparkle and swirl until it transformed to a child’s bloody shoe bobbing in green water.
A screech of brakes woke me with a start. The jeep came to a sudden stop. In front of us, a deer crossed the road with her fawn.
“See what I mean about rush hour?” joked Russ.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out Dad’s pendant. I rubbed it with my thumb as I reflected on the dream. Why was a child’s bloody shoe in it? Was it symbolic of Danny’s death? Probably, since I’d been thinking about him a lot on the plane ride.
I glanced out the window and watched a crow circle above us. We’d gotten off the main road onto one that looked like it hadn’t been repaved for decades. Russ had to maneuver around some serious potholes. We were also at a much higher altitude, surrounded by dense forest pine. Dusk was settling in, casting deep shadows. I asked if we’d make it to Raven Dock before dark. Russ doubted it, though we were only thirty minutes or so away.
I caught a flash of movement in my peripheral vision and looked to see what it was. Something moved between the trees. And then, I saw her—a stark naked woman, with dark hair almost to her knees, running deep in the woods. She stopped and seemed to glance my way, but I couldn’t make out her face for the shadows.
I yelled at Russ to stop and told him what I’d seen. He pulled over, and we quickly jumped out. The woman ran on, disappearing from view.
“A naked woman, you say?” asked Russ, scratching his head. “It’s less than forty degrees; she’d freeze to death.”
I ran to the spot where she had looked at us, to see if I could find her. Had she been kidnapped? Raped? Left for dead? Did she think we would hurt her as well? I called out many times to let her know we were there to help. But she never responded. I looked down at the ground, which was covered with broken branches, shards of bark, and small rocks. How could she run over all that without cutting up her feet?
Russ plodded heavily behind me. I don’t think he believed what I’d seen because he kept hemming and hawing about the time. If anyone was out here, he guessed she must be from Raven Dock. It was the only place for miles around. They were a bit ‘hippy-dippy,’ so maybe it was some kind of game. He suggested we find out if anyone was missing at the retreat, and then send out a proper search party if necessary. I didn’t want to leave her all alone out here, but Russ reminded me it would be pitch black soon and then we’d be lost too. I shivered as we headed back to the jeep. My mind reeled with what that poor woman had possibly gone through.
Sara Caldwell teaches screenwriting and digital media courses at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandizing (FIDIM) in Los Angeles. She has won many awards for her writing, including Best Original Screenplay at the Burbank International Film Festival. Sara has always been drawn to the supernatural and has produced a number of award-winning short horror films through House of Gorey Productions, along with her husband Walter Gorey. She is also a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA).
Like Harper in Raven Dock, Sara spent her childhood as a tumbleweed, moving around the United States and even to Guatemala, Spain and England. She's run three marathons, authored three nonfiction books, and has three cats that enjoy perching on her shoulder while she writes at her kitchen table. It goes without saying that three is her lucky number. She's also working on the remaining novels for the Dark Coven series, the next of which is titled Darkest Hour.
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