Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Teaser | Allusive Aftershock by Susan Griscom


An enormous amount of shaking jerked me awake.

My freaking bed was bouncing underneath me. A deep growl from somewhere below rose to a violent rumbling, rocking me and everything else around in my bedroom. I bolted up in my bed not really fully awake enough to comprehend exactly what was going on. My eyes darted to the swaying floor lamp threatening to tumble over in the corner. For a moment, I sat frozen, unable to move as I watched my silver jewelry box slide off my dresser and crash to the floor. Bracelets, earrings, and necklaces scattered over the hardwood surface.

Shoving the covers aside, I jumped out of bed and tripped over the blankets hanging from the side of the mattress, falling on my hands and knees in my haste to get to my parents’ room. I picked my wobbly self up and took off toward their doorway, colliding with my dad. We held on to one another to steady ourselves from the swaying movement of the rumbling house.

My little sister screeched from down the hall, “What’s happening, what’s happening?!” I glanced toward the sound of her piercing squeal, which only fueled the deafening roar with more hysteria.

“Go to your mother.” My dad shoved me in the direction of their king-sized bed as he took off toward the room my four-year-old sister and brother shared.

I jumped into my mom’s out-stretched arms and we huddled together in the center of the bed. For a split second I thought, are we at war? It may have been a stupid notion, but you’d be surprised at what flips through your mind in the middle of a disaster. I didn’t know what war felt like, but I was positive it had to be something this frightening.

My mom’s arms wrapped tighter around my shoulders, the bed bouncing and rocking beneath us as I tried to think who might be bombing us. Because, if we were being bombed, surely that big blast of light would come at any minute and it would all be over. Somehow, through my fear I wracked my brain trying to remember which countries possessed nuclear weapons. North Korea came to mind, a topic we’d discussed at length in history class only last week.

The bedroom windows shook and rattled and I thought they would explode any second. A crashing sound came from somewhere else in the house and the earsplitting shatter of glass rang in my head. As my mom and I huddled together, I stared out the large sliding glass door leading to the swimming pool. Traces of the early morning sun made things barely visible as water sloshed around, spilling over the edge. The surrounding pavement rippled in waves.

The bedside lamp toppled over and I almost jumped out of my skin when the bulb exploded as it hit the hardwood floor. This is it. I was sure my life was over.

My father shouted from down the hall, “They’re okay!”

My mom sighed, squeezing her arms around my body even tighter and whispering close to my ear, “It’s an earthquake.”

“An earthquake?” I wasn’t quite sure which was worse, being blown to smithereens or swallowed by the earth as it cracked wide open. Maybe the roof would cave in and crush us to death. Not that it mattered. Dead is dead.

In what seemed like an eternity of seconds later, the shaking stopped.

The roaring and rumbling ceased and quiet settled around us except for my sister’s whimpering and my dad’s soothing voice.

The sudden stillness seemed eerie, as if it was only temporary and the shaking and rumbling would start up again any second.

My mom cupped my face in her hands and made me look in her eyes. “Are you okay, Adela?” Her voice had the uncanny ability to soothe me even in a nerve-wracking situation like this. Maybe that’s why my dad called her Angel, aside from the fact that it was short for Angelica. Angelica Castielle … sort of had a solacing ring to it, I always thought.

I nodded and swiped away the uncontrollable tears rolling down my cheeks.

“Come on, let’s go see the twins.” We got up from the bed and walked down the hall to the twins’ room. Aaron, my little brother and Ambrosia, my little sister sat on the bottom bunk; our dad between them, his big hand fluffing Aaron’s hair. His broad smile lightened the situation as he glanced up at my mom and me. Aaron studied his fingers, twisting them in his red Superman blanket and Ambrosia sniffled against Dad’s broad chest.

“There, it’s all over now,” he cooed softly and squeezed them close.

My mom took a step toward them and they jumped into her arms. I hung back, leaning against the door, too devastated at the sight of the toys and decorations that had fallen off the shelves and now lay strewn about on the floor. A picture of me and the twins my mom had made us pose for last Christmas lay face up on the floor, the glass of the frame broken into a million tiny pieces. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. The last thing the twins needed was to see me cry.

“Look, Mommy, my fire truck ladder.” Aaron’s bottom lip protruded slightly, but he managed to keep his tough boyish bravado in check as he held two halves of a white plastic ladder in his hands.

“Sorry, sweetie.”

“Give it here, pal. I think I can glue it.” Aaron handed the two pieces of the ladder to my dad and sat back down beside him on the bed.

Dad patted Aaron on the head and stood, approached me, and placed his fingers under my chin as I lifted my eyes to his. “Okay, Dely?”

Words stuck in my throat and a sob threatened, so I only nodded.

He smiled but his eyes stayed firm and serious as he walked out of the room. I turned and ran after him. “Dad, what about the horses?” I asked, struggling to clear the sob from my voice.

“I’m gonna get dressed and check on them now.”

“I want to come.”

“I think your mother needs you here.”

“Dad, please? Big Blue needs me. The earthquake had to scare him. He’ll be so frightened. Please.”

This time, his dark eyes smiled along with his mouth. “Okay, Adela. But once we see he’s okay, you’re back here, helping your mother.”

“Okay, I promise.” I sprinted to my room and stopped in the doorway, taking in the horrible sight. My favorite picture lay on the floor. I picked it up and turned it over before placing it back on the dresser. Luckily, there wasn’t a scratch on it. My mom had taken it two years ago at my fifteenth birthday party. Max and I had just had a cake fight, and we smiled for the camera with our heads close together, faces smudged with chocolate frosting. I loved that picture; it represented one of the happiest times in my life. I turned to grab the pants I’d left draped over the back of the glider in the corner of my room, a habit that always invoked a threat of donation to Goodwill by my mother. On my way, I tripped over the jewelry box still sitting in the middle of the floor. I sighed at the sight, all my jewelry tangled and scattered around the floor, including the delicate heart pendant my mom had given me on my seventeenth birthday four months ago. I picked it up and put it on, stared at the other stuff on the floor, and sighed. I’ll worry about the rest of the mess later.

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About the Author
Susan Griscom writes paranormal romance, but her playing field delves into a different milieu than the usual vampires and werewolves. Some day she might write about fangs and fur, but for now she prefers sticking to strong heroes and heroines confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers and abilities beyond the norm, mixed with a little romance to get the blood boiling.

A self-proclaimed dreamer, her favorite pastime is reading, but writing is her passion.

Susan, a member of Romance Writers of America, lives in the Sierra Foothills in Northern California with her very romantic husband, her small yippy dog, Riley, and her humongous black cat, Saké. Her family consists of his and hers; four wonderful sons and one beautiful daughter, four grandchildren and two more on the way. Susan has said that when a story takes hold and pulls her into the fantasy, that's magic.

You can visit Susan at http://www.susangriscom.com/ or email her at susangriscom1@gmail.com or susangriscom@hotmail.com.

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