The Well Within: Part 1 - An Urban Fantasy Novel
From the bestselling author of The Game of Gods Joshua Kern and newcomer Lewis Savage comes a riveting, multi-part novel that introduces a brand-new urban fantasy story where magic is real.
Kaitlyn was supposed to be alone that night. No one else should have been there. She was wrong, and someone else paid the price.
Jack was exploring the inside of an abandoned school building late one night when noises begin to echo down from above. His whole world changed thanks to what he discovered at the top. Thrust into the world of magic, Jack's family is forced to adapt and change because of his actions.
Worse, apparently monsters are not only real, they want to sample his flesh.
Join Jack and his family as they get to know Kaitlyn, a girl with magic who will change their lives forever.
Release date: April 28, 2020
Print pages: 164
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The Well Within: Part 1 - An Urban Fantasy Novel
The imposing form of the old and supposedly haunted building loomed in front of Jack and his friend Steve. Steve had convinced him that tonight was the night they went on an adventure, never mind that it was a school night or that nothing exciting ever happened in their sleepy Colorado town. Steve was determined to start something, and he had chosen the old haunted building as the place to start.
It was an old school building that had been abandoned since the late fifties when a fire had broken out on the third floor. Supposedly three students and a teacher had died in the fire, that was the legend anyway. It was also untrue, Jack had asked around and actually looked through old newspapers on the fire. Part of the story was true, there had indeed been a fire, but no-one had died in it. The fire had been long suspected to be the work of an arsonist, but it had never been proven. The fire had started late at night after everyone had gone home for the night.
None of that meant the building wasn’t scary looking and more than a little intimidating. It was. It was also dark and there seemed to be a palpable aura of unease that practically dripped from the building.
There was a crash in the building and the windows on the third floor flared with an unearthly light. Jack stumbled back in fright at the noise and the sight of the briefly glowing windows. There was a noise behind him as rocks ground together followed by the sound of feet hitting the ground in rapid succession. Steve had run away and left him alone.
What a great friend he was! Jack thought sardonically before focusing his attention back on the building in front of him. His eyes were drawn to the third-floor windows as he thought about the flash of light and the crash of noise. He wondered what could have caused it?
Another crash rent through the night air a split-second before light flared white-hot through the panes of aged glass.
Before he could convince himself it was a bad idea, Jack found his feet already carrying him towards the large imposing doors of the building. They were monstrous things, large and heavy to the extreme. One of them hung slightly open on a busted twisted hinge. Jack squeezed himself through the small gap between the doors and entered the dark building.
Jack thumbed the back of his flashlight, illuminating the darkened interior with its bright light. Old faded wallpaper and posters lined the walls, mixed with vast splotches of water damage. Weathered tiles full of holes hung from the ceiling drooping chaotically. Carpet clung to the edges of the room, everywhere else it had long since been worn down or eaten by rodents leaving unpolished wood in its wake.
Darkened hallways lined either side of the entryway leading into the unknown. A stairwell at the back of the entry-hall dominated his attention as he stepped carefully over the creaking floorboards and onto the first rotted step. He tested each step with care before settling his full weight onto it.
Another crash sounded from above causing Jack to crouch in fright his feet on different stairs. His flashlight swung wildly as his wide eyes looked at the ceiling as dust fell in droves around him coating his face and dark-colored clothes.
Quickly he stood and rushed up the rest of the stairs, no longer bothering to test each of them before using them. A large open space greeted him as he crested the top of the stairs.
This particular set of stairs went no higher. To get to the third floor he would have to find a different set of stairs. Jack swung his flashlight around trying to decide which way to go. A large classroom stood in front of him, its door missing revealing a black hole into the room. On either side, he could see more classrooms extending down long dark hallways. The water damage up here was worse, causing the walls to bloat outward in places. Some sort of thin off-white tile had been used to cover the floor instead of the carpeting that had been eaten away on the ground floor.
The thin tiles curved up at their edges threatening to catch the feet of anyone not paying proper attention to where they walked. The glue that had been holding them down was yellowed and no longer affixed to the tile in many places. The water had loosened and destroyed its bond over time, warping the tiles and damaging the wood underneath.
Jack looked at the tiles warily, with only the light of the flashlight to see by he would have to choose his steps very carefully. The tiles didn’t look sharp or anything, but he didn’t think falling on them would be a pleasant experience either. It would be best to choose a different route for now if he was able. The hallways to the left seemed to have suffered the brunt of the water damage with nearly all of the tiles he could see being warped and curled in places. The right while also suffering from the same kind of problem didn’t appear to be as bad. There were tiles that way that didn’t look warped at all.
To the right then, Jack thought with a weak grin. He hadn’t been thinking clearly when he had rushed inside, now that he had a chance to calm down he was beginning to regret his hasty actions. There was no telling what he might be walking into. Ghosts or monsters of some kind, or maybe a drug dealer cooking up some kind of drug. The possibilities were endless and the chance of him getting hurt or worse grew with each new one he thought up.
His feet wavered in indecision as he tried to convince himself that it was nothing dangerous and that he should continue on for just a little longer. Truth be told while this was not the way he had wanted to explore this building, he had always wanted to do so. He just would have preferred to do it during the day, and not at night while something kept exploding above him.
He squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth as he fought against himself. The supernatural world did not exist, there was no such thing as ghosts and monsters. Whatever was causing the noise had a logical and probably reasonable explanation, and that wouldn’t be drug dealers. The flashes of light were much too conspicuous to be someone like that, they tried to avoid attention not draw it to them like these flashes of light and noise were doing right now.
Jack felt the knot that had developed in his stomach loosen at these thoughts and felt himself step forward at last. Opening his eyes, he kept his flashlight trained on the floor as he began to carefully weave his way down the long empty hallway. Classrooms that were missing their doors, or just had them hanging open crept up from the corners of his vision as he tried to ignore them. He might have convinced his feet and stomach that monsters weren’t real, but that didn’t mean he was going to willingly look into the abyss and tempt it to prove him wrong.
A creak sounded above his head causing him to stop and point his flashlight at the ceiling. The ceiling was bare and devoid of any covering, instead revealing a mass of wires and old ductwork alongside old ratty insulation. His eyes caught on some motes of dust slowly falling to ground from where they had been disturbed. Something or somebody was definitely up there.
More noise began to filter down as he concentrated on his hearing choosing to close his eyes once more. It sounded like someone was talking, well cursing was more likely from the harsh tone he could hear. It was impossible to understand any of the words; however, it was obvious that whoever was up there was not in a good mood.
Feeling slightly more at ease knowing for certain that it was a person and not a monster he opened his eyes and continued on down the hall. The sound of someone talking harshly above him continued to filter softly down until he was able to discern that the person talking was female. He still couldn’t understand what she was saying but he was now certain that whoever was up there was female.
The far edge of where his flashlight beam illuminated caught his eye as he saw the end of the hallway. Hopefully, he would find some stairs leading up when he got there. He found himself intensely curious about what kind of girl would be in a place like this so late at night, and he really wanted to know just what she was doing and why she was so mad.
His feet caught on the edge of a linoleum tile in his sudden rush to find the stairs causing him to stumble forward and onto his knees. His dark jeans protected his knees as he slid onto them and then slightly forward. A particularly loud explosion sounded as he finished his short slide. Light, filled the end of the hallway as it filtered down from a stairwell that he couldn’t see just yet.
His hands clapped over his ears at the loud noise dropping the flashlight in his haste to protect his ears. The flashlight spun when it hit the floor causing the beam of light to illuminate the entire hallway in rapid fashion. All around him he could see clumps of dust and other heavier things falling to floor coating him in yet another layer of dust.
With a disgusted sigh, he pulled a hand from over his ear and raked it through his shaggy hair in an effort to dislodge the dust and anything else that might have gotten stuck in it. His light brown hair hung over his eyes as he ran his fingers through his hair before being pulled back into position once more. He liked his hair slightly longer than was fashionable, it was only when something got into his hair that he regretted having it longer than necessary.
His other hand finally dropped from his ear as he picked up the flashlight from where it had fallen. He had just finished standing when he heard a noise of a different sort than he had been hearing. It was a deep long cracking noise that he could feel at the very core of his being, it rumbled through him like a large deep bass drum.
Spinning in place, he shined the flashlight back down the hallway from where he had come not seeing anything but falling motes of dust. The deep cracking noise continued pulling his eyes toward the ceiling as he felt a rumble through his feet. There was a crash as a large piece of ductwork fell from the ceiling and rolled across the damaged flooring.
Jack stumbled backward in fright at the noise catching the heel of his foot on a piece of warped tile and falling hard onto his back. Pain shot through his back as it crushed the sharp edges of tile that had been pointing upwards as he fell. The air in his lungs exploded outwards with a gasp as he lay there in shock.
Over his head, he could see an actual crack forming in the ceiling that continued to grow, snaking its way down the hall. His eyes widened in terror as he realized what was about to happen just before it did. Forcing his sore and breathless body into a roll he hugged the side of the hall as the ceiling began to fall down around him. Curling into a ball he tried to protect himself during the long moments that seemed to stretch into eternity as the upper floor fell around him. The sound of wood falling around him and the loud crashing of metal filled the air and deafened him momentarily.
Jack kept himself curled up tightly until the wood had finished settling around him. Carefully he began the long and laborious process of extracting himself from the mess that now surrounded him. Somehow during everything that had just happened he had managed to keep his grip on his flashlight. The air was heavy with dust and other particulates clogging his mouth immediately and forcing him to cover his mouth with his shirt in an effort to get air that he could actually breathe.
Right away he could see just how lucky he had gotten. Where he was had been hit lightest of the rest of the hallway with most of the floor still holding strong above his head. The rest of the hall though was blocked from where the floor above had actually collapsed.
Hopefully the stairs he was near would allow him to go down as well as up, otherwise, he was going to have a problem. Then he remembered the voice he had heard above him earlier. Whoever had been up there might be buried in the mess in front of him requiring his help.
Choosing his steps carefully he made his way to the pile of debris that now blocked the rest of the hall.
“Hello?” He called out before coughing from the thick layer of dust and grime that had clung to his tongue and lungs. “Hello? Are you alright?” He tried again calling out after covering his mouth with his shirt.
He remained quiet as he strained his ears to hear through the still-shifting rubble. A low moan reached his ears as he stood there. With a sudden burst of energy, Jack surged towards the top of the pile his feet slipping and sliding as he struggled to the top. From the top, he could see that only a small portion of the floor above had collapsed into the hallway.
The bottom of the third floor was still a few feet above him even at the top of the pile. He had been expecting to see much more damage than there was. The sound of everything falling around him as he hugged the wall still filled his head with noise minutes later. Another moan trickled through the air and reached his ears. The noise was slightly muffled and the thick dust that filled the air made everything more than a few feet away hazy and indistinct.
Choosing his steps carefully he began his descent from the top of the debris pile and back to the ruined floor. The pile stood just over six feet in height, slightly above the top of his head. Each step needed to be carefully placed otherwise he would find himself stuck or slipping onto one of the many sharp or pointy pieces of metal and wood.
A shallow cough and groan buried beneath rubble echoed up from beneath his feet. Marking the spot in his mind he looked forward and leaped from the pile, landing on a warped piece of old aluminum ductwork. It crumpled beneath his feet as he landed cushioning his fall and helped to prevent him from sliding into anything dangerous.
Stopping to catch his breath he looked back at where he had just jumped from. It was probably a good thing that he had jumped from where he had, everything below that point was covered in a thick layer of chalky dust and pieces of insulation. The chances for him to slip and injure himself would have been too high.
Carefully he extracted his feet from the crumpled and malformed aluminum taking care of where he placed his feet. His flashlight firmly in hand he studied the edge of the pile trying to decide where he would most likely find her.
She hadn’t been at the top of the pile, so that meant that she had fallen down and then been covered. From where he had heard her coughing it seemed likely that she was near the edge and had been further covered when everything had settled.
A rasping cough came from the floor near his feet.
“Hello?” He called out crouching near where he thought it had come from.
“Is someone there?” A raspy voice asked weakly.
“Are you alright? I’m going to try and get you out. Just hang on!” Jack found himself calling out as he began to panic at the thought of the person being hurt. He had no medical training, he had no idea what needed to be done for anything serious.
“I… I think I’m fine, but everything is pressing on my stomach, so I can’t breathe properly.” The raspy voice forced out in a weak rush.
“Hold on, I’m going to get you out of there!” Jack said as he began pulling pieces of wood from the pile and throwing them behind him. If the speaker was having trouble breathing, then he needed to work as quickly as possible.
With that thought in mind, he began talking aloud, letting his voice fill the air as he continued moving the pile of debris.
“I came here tonight on a mutual dare from my friend, we thought it would be interesting maybe even a small adventure. The rumors about this building have everything ghosts to monsters living here. I even heard one once about a fire-ax wielding psychopath. I don’t think anyone takes them seriously anymore, but no-one is allowed in the building normally and we hadn’t heard of anyone exploring it either, so we decided that we were going to.” Jack stopped talking for a moment as he grunted under the weight of the wood he was moving. “Anyway, we get here and practically right away we see lights flashing on the top floor and this loud crashing sound. He ends up running away in fright, while I stupidly decide to come inside by myself. For all I know you really are an ax-wielding psychopath who is going to eat my face as soon as you’re free!” Jack paused at that thought. “You’re, not, are you? I mean you’re not some crazy person that is going to kill me as soon as you’re free, right?”
The bubble of laughter that sounded forth from the pile was clearer than before, he must be nearly there.
“No, I’m not going to eat your face or kill you!” The now clearly female voice laughingly said.
“Humph never can be too careful.” Jack sniffed as he resumed moving the pile. “Can you breathe easier yet? I’m not entirely sure where you are.”
“Yes, there isn’t as much weight on me now as there was before. I can feel everything shifting above me.” The words were as he moved another large piece of flooring from the pile.
With how much had ended up on top of her he was amazed that she was still alive. He shuddered to think what would have happened to him if he had been the one to have this much weight fall on him. She must have gotten supremely lucky to have survived, or maybe she was just tougher than him. It wouldn’t be that hard, he may have been six feet tall, but he was fairly scrawny. He was built more for speed than for strength, and he was, fast, that is. He had been on the track team since middle school, running in all the events. Speed is all he had, however. He had tried cross-country once and it had nearly killed him, he was not built for that kind of endurance either. No matter how hard he tried to push himself that had never changed.
With one last heave, he managed to shift another large piece of smashed ductwork to the side revealing a lightly tanned hand with bright purple almost lavender painted fingernails. Before he could stop himself, Jack found himself reaching for the newly revealed hand praying that it belonged to whoever he had been speaking to and not someone else.
The skin was warm, and the fingers wrapped around his own, and then everything went white as he felt his body being thrown backward with an impossible force. He felt his back impact a wall and then something hit his stomach stealing the remainder of his breath from his battered body.
Flashes of white suffused his vision as he struggled for breath. He had lost his grip on his flashlight and saw it laying on the ground its beam of light pointing away from him. His eyes caught on the figure standing before the pile of rubble.
She was glorious looking in her pair of smudged tan cargo pants and tight black top revealing tight muscled arms. Long dark blonde hair clung to her face and fell in waves down her back, a layer of dust and grime caked her face except where sweat had run through it. She was beautiful, and she was sparking with electricity.
Jack felt his breath hitch in his throat as there was a sharp pain from deep in his stomach. Glancing down he saw a long piece of metal sticking from his stomach blood dripping down its length.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to kill me!” He managed to gasp out as he felt gravity begin to pull heavily at his eyes. The pain was there distantly in his mind, but the sudden cold he felt throughout his entire body was managing to keep it at bay. His eyes flickered open one last time and he saw the girl from before running towards him in slow motion.
Silly, he thought, if she was just going to move that slowly towards him then why even bother. He should have stayed home, he could have been in his bed asleep and warm right now. Instead, he had a hole in his stomach and was colder than he had ever been in his life. A shiver swept through his body causing his stomach to spasm around the metal sticking through it tearing the wound open more.
Jack felt his eyes close as everything began to grow dim, and then he knew nothing more.
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