A whisper disturbed the small peace that sleep had granted me—a whisper that washed into my dreams and took them over.

"There is something you need to see..." Unconsciously I recognized the spirit's voice—Sarah. She saved my life in the well and earned my trust. I relaxed, following where she led, and found myself in a moonlit forest.

A loud crack sent me sprawling to the ground. Not a gunshot. A tree branch snapping? Another crack, this time closer. I pushed myself out of the dirt and ran. Ignoring the branches tearing at my face and hair, I kept running. My chest burned, my heart pounded in my ears, but I pushed on.

Just when I thought I couldn't go a moment longer, the dark waves of the lake glittered in the moonlight. I'd made it. There were cabins nearby—cabins with people in them who might help me.

Finding help was my only thought. I started to run faster but then tripped and fell. I scrambled up, but it was too late—people surrounded me on all sides.

How many were there? A dozen? How had they found me? A flashlight switched on and pointed straight in my face. I raised a hand to shield my eyes, and rough hands grabbed me. Before I could protest, a body pinned me to the ground. I opened my mouth to scream, but they stuffed something into it.

The light turned away, and someone crouched down next to me. A face appeared inches from mine. A small, dark man with cruel eyes came close, his foul breath washing over me.

I tried to scoot away, but I couldn't move. The heavy weight on top of me made it hard to breathe.

The small man whispered, "Now, now, no screaming. We wouldn't want to wake anyone. They might ruin all our fun." He stroked my cheek and I recoiled as far as I could. "Don't worry. It will all be over soon. No use fighting and making it harder on yourself."

The man stood up and turned toward whoever was holding the flashlight. As he turned, I saw the silhouette of a long, thick rope. He gestured with the rope toward the dark lake. "Let's get her ready."

When he turned back, the light bathed him full in the face. Insanity blazed from his eyes. Terror filled me, and I began fighting desperately to escape.

He jerked me to my feet, forcing my arms behind my back and binding my hands together. The rope dug into my flesh.

I struggled, and as I did, someone hit me on the side of the head. Dizzy, I slumped forward, half conscious. I was barely aware when they tied my legs together. A slap in the face brought me back, and I blinked to see the water's edge nearing.

They dragged me closer. Too close...

From behind me, a man said, "It's your lucky day. Not everyone gets the chance to be tested."

They pulled me upright by the rope—one man held me by my feet, the other by my shoulders. They swung me back and forth and then flung me through the air. The moment before I slammed into the water, someone from the shoreline yelled, "Welcome to judgment day."

I sank. I struggled to get free, but the rope bound me too tightly and my clothes weighed me down. I felt myself sinking farther into the cold, dark water. The desire to scream, to open my mouth and shout, was strong, but I held my breath. I kicked desperately, chafed my wrists until they burned trying to escape the thick rope. I began to panic. There was no one to save me. No one to come to my rescue.

I was going to die.

I couldn't hold my breath any longer. I opened my mouth and choked on the black water as it poured down my throat. I was drowning. I frantically looked out into the murky darkness. Nothing but blackness stared back at me. I'm dying! I tried to scream, but there was only silence.

A void filled my mind...

And I came back to myself.

I gasped, my mind racing, and looked around. What was that?

"I can help you find her." A voice filtered through the dark.

"Sarah?" I asked. Wait... I know where I am, I thought, glancing around again. I was in that place—that dark corner of oblivion I'd inhabited when Wanda had taken over my body.

"They killed me. This is what they did to me."

It was Sarah's death I had just witnessed in my vision, my dream. She'd been chased, captured, tied up, and then thrown into the lake by a group of madmen. They drowned her.

Her voice whispered, "But before they hunted me down... I'll show you...show you where to find her." Images flashed through my mind.

I was Sarah again.

I stood in front of a big house. No, not a house—a hotel. I could just make out water sparkling in the moonlight a long ways below. We weren't far from the lake—we were on the mountain above it. My hands were bound behind my back, and I'd been forced to my knees in the gravel. Hands grabbed me and dragged me up the driveway. I couldn't scream past the gag in my mouth.

I looked around for help in desperation. Lights blazed from within the hotel. Loud noises came from the open front door. Around it, a group of people mingled, dressed in long, dark cloaks. The people turned in unison, quieting as they watched the men drag me.

No one stepped forward to help.

No one protested.

They just stood there, watching in silence.

The crowd parted as I was tossed onto the front steps. They pulled me to my feet, shoved me through the front door, and then to a doorway that led down into darkness. I tottered on the top step before someone pushed me, and down I went. I tumbled down the stairs and bounced off the stone wall, wrenching my shoulder. I didn't stop until, finally, with a loud thud, I hit hard against the ground below.

I lay there, stunned. The pain from my shoulder shot through me. I heard the sound of heavy steps on stone as my captors followed me down, laughing harshly. I moaned and struggled to rise, but before I could make it to my feet, rough hands pulled me up and dragged me down another hallway. They shoved me through a set of large wooden doors that slammed loudly behind me.

The room was dark. I slumped to the ground, trying to catch my breath through the white-hot pain in my shoulder. I took one deep breath before I sensed another presence. My eyes grew accustomed to the darkness and I made out forms huddled nearby...

"They killed me. Hunted me like an animal," Sarah's voice wailed.

With a rush of color and sound, I felt my perspective changing again. I was no longer in the basement, but back underwater, trapped in the dark liquid of the well, drowning all over again.

The cold surrounded me—my lungs seized, my body sank farther down...

There was a rush of light and a pain so strong it made me gasp. Air rushed into my lungs as strong arms pulled me from the water—no, from my dream. Luke leaned over me, his face hovering just above mine. The fingertips of his left hand lit up the dark loft.

"Colina." He caressed my face.

"Wha—?" My throat burned. I tried again. "What happened?"

"You were choking. I tried to wake you, but...I couldn't. You were struggling like you couldn't breathe."

I was drowning. I sat up.

"Take it slow." He wrapped an arm around me.

"It—it was Sarah. She came to me. She showed me what happened to her. I was her...I became her..." My words came out stilted, "I died."

"You relived her death?"

"I did. Men chased her down and threw her in the lake."

His hand reached for mine. "Did you see the men? Did you see or hear anything that would help us identify them? Help us track them down?"

"Luke... I saw everything. Macaven—he killed Sarah, too. And I know where he has your sister."

*****

Awakening, Dark Rituals Book 1 - Wattpad Featured (Full book available)Read this story for FREE!