FLAME IN THE DARK
- Series: A Soulwood Novel (Book 3)
- Release Date: December 5, 2017
- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Ace
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451473337
- ISBN-13: 978-0451473332
Latest News From Faith’s Blog
Part Two and Three didn’t make it into the blog tour on Thanksgiving. So here it is for the fans! If you missed the first part, check out the Bea’s Book Nook blog tour and
How Occam Got His Name
Daddy was a traveling preacher, with four Texas churches in Dickens, Ralls, Crosbyton, and Spur, and he and mama parked their RV in a different town every weekend, leading hellfire-and-damnation services in homes or small churches or empty storefronts, meeting all day, every Sunday, with the rare fifth Sunday off. That was the weekend his daddy stayed fighting drunk or passed out drunk.
They didn’t stay anywhere long, except Dickens, where they rented a small furnished house with a root cellar. It came with real beds, which was a nice change. It even had a window unit air-conditioner to keep the place sorta cool. Trace liked Dickens, and he liked Wayman. Making friends was hard for the son of a plastered pickled preacher man—which is what he’d heard his daddy called once. Friends had been scarce mot all his life. But Wayman played pranks, like blinding him with a flashlight and then running into the night.
“Wayman!” Trace shouted. “Blast it all! Where’d you run off to?” His vision was still messed up by the spots cast by the flashlight-to-the-face joke by Wayman, but not fast enough. He’d have to follow the footprints in the sandy bottom of the wash—Wayman’s and the bobcat’s. The cat had been this way several times, the prints overlapping one another. Bobcats were generally more scared of humans than humans were of them. But this one was bigger than normal. “Wayman!”
This was a fifth Sunday, and he and Wayman had gone into the hills to camp and watch the meteor shower. And hide from his daddy’s fists and his drunken sermonizing, and from Wayman’s mama’s boyfriend who was a little too friendly for Wayman’s comfort level.
From up ahead, Wayman squealed his little-girl-squeal, and Trace at least figured out what general direction his friend had run off to. “Stupid idiot.” Trace trudged along the wash, casting the occasional glances up into the night sky and the millions of stars that city folk never saw. No meteors yet.
“Over here, you ass crack!” Wayman shouted.
“We’ll never get back to the tent and the bikes,” Trace shouted as he trudged around the small hill. “And there ain’t even a path to the top. You ever heard of rattlesnakes?”
From the side of the wash, Trace heard a whistling sound and a rough vibration, kinda like a purr, like a housecat would make. A huge housecat. Probably the maker of the bobcat prints. Biggest he’d ever seen. “Dang idiot. Rattlesnakes and bobcats. Shesh.” Louder, he said, “I got a gun, cat. I’ll shoot you if you come at us.”
“This hill right here,” Wayman said. “It’s got a flat top, no rocks to hide snakes and it’s right beside the wash, so we can find our way back by following our own footprints.”
And the bobcat prints they had seen and been following through the sandy bottom, but Trace didn’t say that. It might sound like he was afraid, and ‘bein’ afered’ was fer woosies,’ according to Wayman.
They climbed up the hill and studied the surrounding land. Just like Wayman had said, no rocks, no plants, high flat land, unappealing to snakes and other critters.
“Here,” Wayman said, passing him a bottle of water. “I brung six in the bike basket, along with salt tablets in case we sweat too much. With your three water bottles, the Spam and the bread and the Cheetos, we got enough water and food to last two days. And if we run out, I know how to find water most anyplace. My grampa done showed me.” Grampa Iron Mountain was pure Comanche, or so Wayman’s mama said, and she had the black hair and eyes of the local redskins—what his daddy called the native people when he was drunk and no one was around.
His own mama shushed Daddy when he talked bad about people. Trace kinda thought she might like Wayman’s mama. They talked about cooking sometimes. But Mama had a hard time keeping friends too.
Daddy couldn’t hide the smell of liquor on his breath on Sunday mornings, and his congregations tended to dry up and drift away after a year or two, so they were always moving around. Trace had learned to make friends fast and give them up just as quick. Preacher Oakum and his wife Miz Lizzie moved on pretty often, to find another town on a crossroads that led to still other towns that needed saving. But Trace liked Wayman. Wayman was the best friend he ever had.
Trace took the bottle, glad his friend knew so much about camping and the outdoors and the wilderness around them. The towns where they had lived were smaller than Satan’s mercy—according to his daddy—but Trace had never spent any time in the wasteland. He opened the top and drank. Recapped it. He lay down on the small Indian blanket Wayman had brought, his hands behind his head. It brought his sweaty underarms up to his nose, but there wasn’t nothing wrong with a little sweat, and nothing he could do about it in August neither.
Together, they stared up at the sky to watch at the Perseid meteor show. The meteors came in bunches, shooting across the heavens like fireworks or missiles, some seeming directly overhead. One, closer than the others, blasted down in the hills to the northeast, exploding with a flash of light and a faint tremor through the ground.
They both sat up fast, eyes on the faint halo of light in the dark. “Dayum, Trace. I bet we could make us some money picking up the pieces and selling ‘em.” Wayman pulled a compass and shined his flashlight on it. “Got it.”
Trace sighed, not wanting to tell his best and only friend that, even with the compass reading, it would be nigh to impossible to pinpoint the landing location and then even harder to find and pick up the meteor pieces. So he lied. “Yep. Maybe we’ll go there some day and find diamonds all over the ground.”
“Space diamonds!” Wayman said. “We’ll be rich.”