By Karen Lynn Tunnell
Light Horror 254 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud
Mattie Cochran discovers an antique baby rattle in the attic of her grandparent’s Texas farmhouse. A search for the rattle’s original owner takes her to the overgrown family plot where she loses her way in an alter-dimension—or perhaps she’s simply lost her mind. When Mattie stumbles upon her grandmother’s diary, she begins to piece together the unsavory secret that’s plagued the women in her family for generations.
Mattie’s eyes searched the room like twin moths frantic for the warmth and reassurance of light. Forcing her focus on a far corner, she could see pale light sifting through in slivers. She formed the word blinds with her lips. It was her first cohesive thought in a long time.
Too much sleep and a medicine after-taste made a nauseating mixture in her mouth.
An itch. She tried to raise her hand to her nose but found herself paralyzed.
No, not paralyzed. Bound!
Panic leapt up, pumping her heart to an allegro beat. She could feel straps at her thighs and shins only allowing her legs to thrash sideways across starched bed sheets. But her arms were crossed on her chest like a mummy.
The realization her captor was a straitjacket sparked a memory. But the spark sputtered out. Her mind seemed to be washed clean. And it was maddening. She opened her mouth to cry out and the skin on her bottom lip split open, the metallic taste of blood seeping through.
Then she heard a bump. Or a step. The sound was subtle but audible. She could sense someone else in her tomb-like room, hear breathing at a different pace than her own. Turning her head slowly to the left, despite the protests of pain from her neck, she could make out a shadowy figure.
A man. He’s tall and thin. Or is it a coat rack?
Car lights angled through the blinds, shining on one end of the room, flashing on the man/coat rack and crossing to the other till they angled out.
Mattie’s first attempt at speech was barely a whisper. “Who are you?”
No answer, just breathing getting closer. Relying on the memory of the flash of light, Mattie pictured a man with a hat. And intense eyes.
Mattie tried again, achieving a hoarse squeak. “What do you want?”
Still no answer.