Blog Tour: Pretty Dark Nothing (Pretty Dark Nothing #1) by Heather L. Reid
Pretty Dark Nothing
(Pretty Dark Nothing #1)
Heather L. Reid
Pub April 23rd 2013
It’s time to choose: Love or lies, faith or fear, darkness or destiny.
Seventeen-year-old Quinn hasn’t slept a full night in twenty-three days. She’s terrified of the demons that stalk her dreams, pull her into a deep dark nothingness and whisper hauntingly of her death. Exhausted, Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, and Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. If Quinn can learn to trust her heart, and Aaron can discover the secret locked away in his fragile memory, their combined power could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.
What had been one creature—one voice—became dozens as more of the leathery beasts appeared, taking shape from the wisps of fog that swirled around Quinn. She wanted out of the locker room—to find her friends, Coach White, anyone—but the tiny fog beasts blinked in and out of her vision like strobe lights, disorienting her, and making it impossible to find the door.
She covered her nose to block out the choking sulphurous smell that filled the air and groped for the row of lockers to her right. Demons weren’t real—they only existed in bad horror movies; they didn’t haunt girls’ locker rooms or jump through broken mirrors. If she was going to hallucinate, why couldn’t she see unicorns instead of evil, scary demons? A rope of fog wrapped around her forearm, solidifying into a long, leathery tail, complete with scaly head and pointy claws. She screamed and grabbed for the beast, but the thing disappeared into a patch of fog and dissipated into the air.
A dream, a delusion, nothing more. Sleep deprivation was known to cause hallucinations; she’d looked it up online. But how could it be lack of sleep when she’d slept a full eight hours the previous night? Or maybe all the caffeine pills and energy drinks had altered her mind, sent her on some sort of bad trip.
Blink. One monster landed on her head and laughed maliciously.
Blink. One hovered over her back, the beating of its wings blowing strands of hair around her face.
Quinn batted it away.
Blink. One appeared on each shoulder.
“You’re crazy,” the left one said.
“Pathetic,” the right one added.
Another hovered in front of her face.
Quinn stood perfectly still, back against the lockers, and gazed into its orange eyes. Her chest burned, and sweat dripped from her nose.
“What do you want?”
It opened its mouth in a maniacal grin, revealing three rows of teeth. Its breath smelled like rotten eggs.
Quinn heaved and covered her mouth to keep from vomiting.
“Your soul,” the voice boomed as the demon swiped at her cheek.
She covered her face to protect her eyes, and a long talon scraped across her hand. Quinn whimpered as blood oozed from the cut. Faster and faster the beasts flew around her, disorienting her. A cacophony of shrieking ensued as they fought to be heard over one another, spewing words of hatred, each more terrible than the last.
Others filled the empty space, forging a spasmodic coffin around her. Brown ones, black ones, green ones, beating their leathery wings, screeching, jeering, and cheering the whisperers on. Desperate, she dropped to her knees and closed her eyes. She felt along the floor, the cold, hard concrete bruising her knees as she crawled forward in search of the door. Enraged by her flight, the beasts screamed together in a macabre choir. She tried to block the sound of their shrieks by humming a tune of her own, but the louder she hummed, the louder they screamed.
“Get this party started,” she sang, her light melodic voice clashing with the metal on metal sound of the beasts.
The demons pulled her hair and scratched her bare skin. She jerked and flinched with each strike. They were like a swarm of bees, everywhere at once. All she could do was bat at them, tuck her chin to her chest, and keep moving. Picturing the layout of the locker room in her mind, she crawled to the right until she felt the wall.
“All right,” she sang as she scooted on her knees, following the wall around until she felt the corner of the lockers.
“Gotta get this party started. Oh, yeah.”
The monsters continued their hideous chorus, and she smelled their fetid breath each time one came near.
“Gonna party all night.”
She opened her eyes.
“Gonna party just right.”
She blinked as the fog pulsated around her. There, to her right, was the purple door. Tears of happiness momentarily replaced her tears of fear. She got to her feet and ran.
Quinn tore through the wall of fog. Eyes closed, she grabbed for the handle and pulled hard. A force greater than her own held it shut. She yanked until she thought her arms would rip apart. Then she tried pushing, ramming her shoulder against the metal in desperation.
Buzzing around her head, the demons laughed as she kicked and screamed at the unmovable door.
Another solid click, and it finally gave way, its momentum crashing it against the outside wall and bouncing it back, clipping her shoulder as she bolted through it. The dissonant choir stopped.
A wave of cool air enveloped her. She pulled in a deep breath to clear her lungs of the rancid, sulphurous air. Her heart pounded in her ears. She didn’t want to open her eyes, afraid of what she might—or might not—see, afraid the demons might be playing with her, so she kept them closed. They were silent, but that didn’t mean they were gone.
Hands splayed in front of her, she moved until the concrete blocks brushed against her fingers. Exhausted, she leaned her back against it, and sank to the floor. She listened for any movement, voices, anything, but all she heard was the frantic beating of her own heart. Nothing touched her, the hall smelled of dust and sweat, completely normal.
Quinn sobbed hysterically, wiping at the river that poured down her cheeks. The salt stung the scratches on her hand where the beasts had clawed her. She examined her palm—a piece of glass had lodged in her skin. Scratches from the shards of broken mirror she’d been crawling over. Nothing more. Either she was crazy and they weren’t real, or she wasn’t and they were. She wasn’t sure which was worse.
Heather L. Reid is both American and British and has called six different cities in three different countries, home. Her strong sense of wanderlust and craving for a new adventure mean you might find her wandering the moors of her beloved Scotland, exploring haunted castles, or hiking through a magical forest in search of fairies and sprites. When she’s not venturing into the unknown in her real life, she loves getting lost in the worlds of video games or curling up by the fire with good story. For now, this native Texan is back in the Lone Star State, settling down with her Scottish husband and dreaming up new novels to write.