Hello everyone! I'm back from Texas and am getting so close to finishing the novel. As a special treat, I'm giving you all a preview of Silence of Souls. Below the cut, you'll be the first to see the cover and read an excerpt from Chapter 1! I hope you'll like it.
Be aware, you're getting the raw, unedited version here. You might find some typos or errors that need to be fixed, and I assure you I'm working on it to give you the best product I possibly can. This is for your enjoyment, to get a little taste of what's coming soon. This is copyright Stefanie Oberhansley, so please respect my work and don't copy it without giving credit. (Otherwise I won't be able to do special previews like this in the future. However, please DO share the link to the page and invite your friends to come check out this special preview.
The book will be released early August 2012.
Julia strolled up and down the aisles, looking at different products as she tried to remember whether or not they needed them at home. Her cart began to fill, and she was mentally tallying the items in the cupboards and fridge, improvising a shopping list in her head as she went along. She dodged between the other customers, returning their friendly, empty smiles whenever they were offered.
The sleepy music piping through the market’s outdated sound system was interrupted with an abrupt scream. Julia dropped the can of beans she had in her hand, and perked up her ears. Another scream, and uneasy mumbling filled the front of the store. Julia walked slowly to the end of the aisle, uncertain about what she would see when she got there, and peeked her head around the corner, hiding behind a display of potato chips to safely catch a glimpse of the action.
When she saw the cause of the commotion, she gasped. A man had walked in to the market, and he was badly wounded. Dark drips of thick blood left a trail behind him, though Julia couldn’t quite tell where the blood was coming from. The man was severely injured; his shredded pants and shirt revealed many deep cuts on his arms and legs. His face looked as though it had been caught in a lawn mower, and had it not been for a salt-and-pepper beard donning his chin, Julia would not have even been sure it was a man at all. His face was covered in dark blood and his own chewed flesh, but his eyes were a pale yellow. The skin on his body was a dull grayish hue that made the yellow eyes seem that much brighter.
People were gathering around the injured man, but everyone seemed too startled at his appearance to attempt getting close to him. He staggered and limped around as he looked at the gathered crowd without saying a word. The store manager came through the mob and approached the man. Julia looked at the injured man’s feet: she could have sworn that his left foot was hanging on only by a thin string of shredded muscle, dragging behind him as he walked on the stump of his ankle. She shuddered, blinking her eyes to try to correct an image she knew must not really be there.
“Sir, are you alright?” asked the manager, with a shake in his voice.
The injured man didn’t answer, but gave out a low sound that seemed to be a combination between a growl and a moan.
“It looks like he was hit by a car,” one of the people in the gathering offered.
“Someone call 9-1-1!” shouted another.
The injured man darted his eyes back and forth between the people of the crowd. Julia watched intensely, keeping herself hidden behind the bags of chips.
“Sir,” said the store manager, trembling while trying to keep an assertive air about him. “Sir, let us help you. We’re going to call you an ambulance. Just stay calm, okay?”
The uncertainty and fear on the manager’s face grew as he reached his hand out slowly toward the injured man, attempting to help him. The injured man let out another low moaning growl sound, but this time it was louder and more vicious. Without warning, the injured man lunged toward the manager’s outreached hand and grabbed it forcefully, catching the manager completely off-guard. He pulled the manager in toward him, and the manager struggled in vain as he tried to get away. Julia’s eyes widened as she witnessed the bearded man bite down hard and deep into the flesh of the manager’s upper arm. The manager cried out in pain, fighting to get the injured man off him, as the crowd began to panic and scream.
Julia watched, frozen in terror, as the injured man bit the manager, swallowing down large chunks of flesh. Blood poured out on the floor. A tall man in a leather jacket and boots rushed over to try to help the manager, but the injured man clawed at him and tried to bite. People started running in all directions, trampling over each other.
Through the open door of the market, two more people came in, looking as injured as the first man, both with the same grayish feel to their skin and strange yellow tint to their eyes. One was a man in a long, white lab coat with torn black pants. The other was a young woman in a short skirt and a purple button-up blouse. The second man was missing his hand and bleeding profusely onto the floor. His bottom lip looked as though it has been torn off violently, and he drooled through the open wound.
The woman had deep bite marks all over her legs. Her bare feet had left bloody footprints on the white linoleum floor. Pieces of the skin on her head were missing, and it looked as though some large animal had mauled her and ripped a portion of hair and flesh from her scalp. Blood had been running down her face from the wound on her head, and it was dark and crusty. There was bright, wet blood dripping down from her mouth.
The pair stood there for a brief second, their yellowish eyes scanning the fleeing crowd. Julia could see the second man open his mouth wide, releasing a slop of reddened saliva, and the woman was groaning. The second man locked his eyes on the tall man that was trying to help the store manager and dashed toward him. The tall man, preoccupied with getting the first injured man off the store manager, did not even notice the second man coming straight toward him until the second man had his teeth locked firmly on the tall man’s shoulder.
The woman had started chasing after an old lady who wasn’t able to move quickly enough to get out of the way. She clawed and scratched at the old woman, tearing away the cloth from her oversized sweatshirt until skin was exposed. The old woman shrieked as her arm was bitten, and Julia could hear a bone snapping and breaking as she watched the young bloody woman tear the old woman’s forearm clean off and begin eating it.
The first man sat on the floor, now eating the store manager without interference. Julia watched as the store manager’s body started to convulse uncontrollably. The bearded man eating him got frustrated with an unsteady meal, and got up to feed with the second injured man on the tall man. Julia couldn’t blink. Her eyes were fixated on the store manager, who appeared to be having a violent seizure. Suddenly, his body stopped, and he lay completely still on the floor.
Other customers darted around, trying to find a safe place to be, screaming in terror and confusion. Some of the customers had tried to help out the victims that were being attacked, but it always seemed to be in vain. No one was prepared for anything like this. Any attempt to prevent further harm to those who had already been attacked seemed to only result in more people being bitten, scratched, and mutilated. Julia stayed behind the chip display, uncertain where to go and too shocked at what she was seeing to rationalize that she was in danger as well.
Seven more injured people came wandering in to the store. Some of them were grunting, growling, and moaning. They looked as though they had been chewed on, some with rather prominent spaces of missing flesh with thick, dark blood pooling around the floor. Without a second thought, the seven made their way out toward the crowd, grabbing and tackling the bystanders who were not as quick as others, and biting into them violently. People in the store were running, some fighting the attackers, and others trying to help those that were too injured to move.
Julia looked across the chaotic scene, completely baffled. She hadn’t even noticed the tears in her eyes or the shaking her entire body was doing as she watched the unbelievable event unfold. In all the mayhem, it was a small movement that caught her eye. She glanced back over to the body of the store manager, seeing his hands move and twitch. Julia stared in disbelief; there was no possible way that the store manager could be alive, not after the massive amount of physical trauma and blood loss he had suffered.
Julia squinted her eyes, trying to get a clearer picture, certain that her eyes were playing tricks on her when she saw the store manager sit up. He looked around, his eyes glossy and yellow, and he heaved himself up and snarled. He got up from the floor heavily, and stood still for a moment as he tried to gain his balance. His eyes looked like they were covered with a milky film, and they darted around between the other people scrambling around the store.
Julia couldn’t believe what she was seeing; this had to be just a terrible nightmare she was due to wake up from any minute. The store manager, who had been mauled by a madman and clearly dead, was up and walking around. Her breathing became even more labored, and she could feel the terrified pounding of her heart through her entire body. She heard a piercing scream and turned to see another injured man chasing after a teenage girl and her mother. As they were trying to escape, the teenager knocked over a shopping cart, and the injured man tripped and fell over it, landing just a few feet in front of where Julia stood. Trying to remain silent and unseen, Julia felt instant regret when a small whimper escaped her mouth before she could stop it. The injured man turned his head and glared right at her as he picked himself up from the floor.
Her feet were welded to the floor in pure horror as Julia watched the injured man take a step toward her. His mouth opened up to let out a rumbling grunt, and a trail of drool and blood flowed out. Julia could not quite tell where the man had been injured: his face and clothes were covered in blood, some of it old and some quite obviously fresh. Bits of human tissue speckled his clothes, teeth, and skin.
Instinct told her to run, sheer dread held her unwillingly in place. The injured man stepped closer and closer to Julia, his eyes locked on hers, unblinking. He opened his mouth wider, bearing his bloodstained teeth. Time shifted into slow motion as Julia stood there, waiting for the oncoming attacker to bring her world to an end. The entrance to the store was blocked, and Julia knew there was no way out of the dire situation she had stumbled into. She trembled, accepting her fate of becoming a crazed cannibal’s meal.
The air brushed her face and fluttered her hair. Out of the corner of her eye she watched a blur swing forcefully down, and the loud banging of metal on flesh and bone made her jump. The oncoming injured man stopped dead in his tracks and fell to the floor, his pale yellow eyes rolling into the back of his head. Julia looked over to see a young man, no more than twenty-five years old, standing with a shovel in his hands. He looked down at the injured man lying on the floor, and then quickly turned to look at Julia. She flinched slightly when he grabbed her wrist.
“C’mon,” he said. “We gotta get out of here!”