The following material is copyrighted by Kristy Hutchison. All rights reserved.

Chapter One (Partial) - A Backward Glance

This sets up why my main character, Grace, ends up moving to Scotland; it's part of a downward spiral that continues to progress until she finds herself willing to take bigger risks than she would have otherwise considered. 

I moved here from a place where the sunlight was abrasive and cruel; where it not only beat down on you, it also beat you down. Not having been blessed with tolerant skin, my objective was to stay indoors when the sun was feeling particularly sadistic, which happened to be most of the time. My primary reason for remaining in this purgatory was that I had been blessed with a wonderful husband, and this was our home. Even if it made me wilt a little, this was where everything important to me thrived.

My husband and I were high school sweethearts. Cupid smacked me with his arrow as soon as Christian descended the stairs of the bus for the first time. All I could think was ‘wow’--he had a stunning combination of black hair and sapphire blue eyes; the moment they met mine, he had me. He had just transferred in from a rival high school and there was already a lot of buzz surrounding him. Fresh meat always caused a stir but he also had charisma. He was impish in a good hearted way, the fabled bad boy that all the girls drooled over; but if you took the time to dig deeper it became apparent that that part of him was purely superficial. At his core he was thoughtful, reliable, and smart as a whip. He was my best friend, he was my champion, he was my lover, and he was my protector.

We dated for three and a half years before we left the protective cocoon of our high school, three and a half years before we would have to navigate the unfamiliar world beyond its doors. While our friends’ relationships eventually dissolved over distance and time, there was never any doubt in my mind that Christian and I were going to last forever. We were soul mates.

When he proposed the following year he didn’t make a spectacle out of it, instead it was a private affair. There was no plane with a banner, no trail of rose petals on the floor, and he didn’t try to choke me to death by hiding a ring in my chocolate mousse. Instead, he chose a quiet rainy night and his platform was the living room floor.

On movie night, it was my job to run the equipment while he took care of the food. “Babe, can you stick the DVD in while I get the popcorn started?” he had asked. I should have known something was up, his eyes glinted with even more mischief than usual. When I opened the case, I found an old-fashioned ring inside where the movie should have been; it was the one I’d been eyeing for months whenever I’d forced him to accompany me to my favorite antique stores. The thoughtfulness of his gesture left me speechless. His proposal was short and sweet: “I love you, Grace. Will you marry me?”

With tears streaming down my face I shot across the room, leapt into his arms and screamed, “Yes!” repeatedly as I clung to him for dear life. To the delight of our friends and family we were married six short months later.

Two years is a blink of the eye, it’s nothing, but that’s all we had. We had only just begun to plan our life together when everything completely fell apart.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. The sun seemed a little brighter than usual, but it was still cool outside because the humidity was low. I wanted him to get up so that we could take a short walk through the neighborhood before it roared to life with the sounds of lawn mowers and edgers. On that particular morning he was being Mr. Grumpypants, but as usual his moodiness didn’t last long. After a brief romantic interlude, and the promise of more to come when we returned home, he was in much better spirits. He even promised to make me chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

In the last few weeks there had been several reports of petty crime in the surrounding area, but the offenses were minor and the victims anonymous. As many people do, we assumed that we were well able to take care of ourselves and therefore impervious to crime. That day was no exception. We walked the streets in ignorant bliss, holding hands as we quietly enjoyed each other’s company. I can see his face as clearly as if it were yesterday, how his eyes sparkled as he teased me, the grin he tried to suppress as he awaited my reaction, and the warmth of his embrace as he feigned an apology while I pretended to be upset with him. The two of us were completely absorbed in our own little game, oblivious to anything around us.

Under normal circumstances, three people walking together in our subdivision wouldn’t be cause for concern, but something about this particular group made me tremendously uneasy. They looked out of place with their pants hanging slack below their waists, soulless faces shadowed by hoodies when it wasn’t even chilly outside. If they had been teenagers it might not have seemed odd, but these were grown men and they had a coldness to their eyes that set warning bells off in my head.

Christian pulled me closer. To an observer it might have appeared as if we were just making room for them on the sidewalk, but I felt the tension in his hands; they made him edgy too. Every fiber of my being was screaming at me to grab Christian and run as fast as I could. The smiles they gave us were devoid of emotion, and as they passed, the pungent aroma of their body odor, mingled with the alcohol they’d drunk, was almost overwhelming.

Then the danger appeared to be over, and I almost scolded myself for being so judgmental. But before my guilt took root, a voice came from behind us, husky and slightly foreign, “That’s a pretty girl you got there’s a shame she’s going to have to watch you die.”

I turned just in time to see the bat make contact with Christian’s head. Instinctively, my hands reached for him, grabbing his sleeve in a vain attempt to stop him from falling. I felt a hand on my shoulder, turned to confront it, and the bat slammed into my stomach, knocking the wind out of me. As my body hit the pavement my eyes were immediately drawn to Christian. The blow to his head had stunned him and he was still on the sidewalk curled into a fetal position.

Before I could even call out to him, the other two men grabbed me and pulled me toward a shadowed recess between two houses. Their fingers dug into my arms as I struggled to escape their grasp. They began to grope at me with their rough hands. One of them ripped my shirt open and tried to unbutton my jeans while the other put a filthy hand over my mouth. It smelled of alcohol, cigarettes, and blood. I knew that fighting them off would have taken more strength than I possessed, but that didn’t deter my efforts. I kicked wildly, blindly attacking anything I connected with. When one of them managed to pin my legs, I tried to detach myself from the assault, to pretend it was happening to someone else--as if I were watching a movie.

It didn’t work.

The two men in front of me effectively blocked my view; I could no longer see Christian, but my ears were assaulted by the screams that accompanied the muffled sounds of the bat as it struck his body again and again. There were actually two screams: one was a roar of sadistic brutality, and the other, an answering plea for mercy--not for himself, but for me. Through my tears I saw the second man begin to fumble with his belt buckle, watched his hands shake from the adrenaline surging through his body. His excitement made him clumsy, and I hoped it would buy me some time. I turned into a wild animal, ready to scratch and bite or do anything within my power to avoid the inevitable. When the opportunity arose I did bite, and was backhanded for my efforts. I began to wonder what my death would feel like.

Not long after that I blacked out.

When I regained consciousness it was all over. I was lying on the ground, covered in filth, and very much in pain. Someone had finally heard the commotion and called the police. One of the officers had been kind enough to cover me with his jacket, and someone with a soothing voice was running a cool washcloth over my face. There were several people on the sidewalk where I’d last seen Christian, concern on some of their faces, revulsion on others...pity in the one that accidentally met my eyes. When someone stepped away to get a towel I saw the bloodied figure lying on the ground. I screamed, and didn’t stop screaming until they sedated me. He barely looked human.

It’s impossibly hard to watch someone you love suffer and not be able to do a damn thing about it. It’s all the more debilitating when the people responsible for it manage to get away.

They told me it took less than fifteen minutes for the ambulance to arrive, but it felt like an eternity. I didn’t know if Christian was dead or alive. I could only guess that he was still breathing because when they loaded him onto a stretcher, they didn’t cover him with a body bag.

Chapter 11 (Partial)
- Nightmares

When I woke up, I glanced at the clock to see what time it was. It was three o’clock in the morning, a time that some referred to as the witching hour, the hour that spirits are supposedly most active. I absolutely hated waking up at three, but it happened a lot. I usually just rolled over and went back to sleep, but tonight the hair on the back of my neck was standing at attention and there were goose bumps on my arms. I usually dismissed these feelings of unease as paranoia, but occasionally I would get out of bed to prove to myself that I wasn’t paralyzed by fear. With that in mind, I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and headed toward the bathroom. At least I knew I wouldn’t have to suffer through that horrible bathroom dream again tonight.

Once I returned to bed, I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I tossed and turned, looked up at the ceiling, and tried to count sheep. A short while later I glanced up and saw that there was a dark silhouette standing in front of me at the foot of my bed. I must have fallen asleep without realizing it. I’ve had some particularly vivid dreams in my time. I’d always dreamt in color, often felt sensations, and sometimes even smelled things--but this dream was particularly life-like. Something smelled absolutely foul, and even in my dream-like state I thought, ‘great, I didn’t escape the bathroom dream after all.’

Suddenly another shape entered my room, and I would have sworn that it came from my hallway, from behind the mirror. In fact, it seemed to appear from the place where I’d always thought the secret room had been; but I knew for certain that there was no secret room. And there was fog in my hallway. I wondered what was on the television that had found its way into my dreams.

One time I’d dreamt that I was in bed watching a video on MTV. There was a death metal band wearing ghoulish costumes and makeup, playing a slow rhythmic dirge in the fog. Then the picture changed, and I saw a bed made of bones with leather stretched between the posts to form a mattress. The lead singer growled the lyrics, ‘The Elephant Man is dead...I used his bones to make my bed.’ I tried to change the channel with a remote, but every channel was the same. Then I got out of bed and tried to do it manually with the same result. I pushed the power button but the television stayed on; I even unplugged it.

Then the location changed. I was in a forest and someone was standing in front of me explaining that there was a werewolf on the loose, and he had just killed a little girl. I asked how I would recognize a werewolf if I saw one, and the man said, “Just before they kill you, they make you smell their hands...because they never wash them. It’s like a badge of honor, they can smell the blood of all their victims, and it’s foul.” Then he looked into my eyes, licked his lips, and brought his hands to my nose.

That had been my most disturbing dream, until now.

It took me several more moments to realize that I was no longer asleep, if I ever had been in the first place. When it sunk in, I couldn’t even scream. I had always been afraid of how I might react if I were to once more face something horrific, because I knew there was a distinct possibility that I might shut down completely. But it’s funny how differently a person can feel when they’re actually facing danger. Sometimes there’s just no time for cowardice. Whether it did any good or not, I was ready to run.

It’s too bad that my feet got tangled up in the sheets, effectively immobilizing me.

With an animalistic growl, the new shape lunged at the shadow I had seen at the foot of my bed. My heart was pounding. It was difficult to see exactly what was taking place because it was dark, and everything was happening so quickly. I could see that there were two participants locked in this struggle, and I was pretty sure that, even though it sounded absolutely ludicrous, one of those things wasn’t human. I was scared, and my eyes must have been playing tricks on me, because the one facing me looked an awful lot like a corpse. The sight was so disturbing that once I’d seen it, I was frozen in place despite the fact that I’d managed to untangle my feet.

I attempted to sort it out in my head, certain that it was just my imagination playing tricks on me. My cousin had once told me that I looked like a witch in the dark, and she freaked herself out so badly that we’d had to turn a light on before she would calm down and go to sleep. The monster I was looking at must have been created in much the same manner--my own fear was manifesting a fiend out of what was likely just shadows playing across sunken human cheeks.

But human or not, I hadn’t invited either of these shadows into my room.




When the darkness came it took her like a lover
Floating down to cover her like a dancing cloak
Entering insidiously with spindly fingers
So that she barely noticed until it fully engulfed her
And the sadness was a slow rhythm
So that when she cried it was in iambic pentameter
The feeling was brutal and she faced it alone,
Afraid she would never feel vibrant again

A scream built from within her,
Clawing its way up her throat
She tried to suppress it, but it ripped and it tore
Until she howled...

It was then that she felt it growing inside of her
A tiny seed of strength, sprouting day by day
Speculative tendrils that filled her with optimism

And some called her a monster for her newfound voice
But their words didn't sting,
Instead she was bolstered by their implication
Because people fear monsters--but monsters fear nothing
And so faith began its return and hope came like rain
Streaming all around to trumpet the new day
She got her resolve from no one, she drew it from within
Able to stand on her own and face what came with certainty...
Her path was clear of obstacles
And she danced as she took it

Knowing that what people fear most is themselves

A smile burst out like flame

And in that moment she arose from her own ashes
A new road ahead, a world to explore,
And life was full of possibility once more.

Frankenstein Girl

I am this Frankenstein girl
With seams that hold me together
Stronger than you who are whole
I am the sum of the parts that you gave me

I was born in your head
But you are not my master
I am a scary place you can't seem face
because I don’t reflect you

I am this monstrous invention
Wrought by your hand
I am this Frankenstein girl
With seams that hold me together…

And I am stronger than you.