Chad stopped dead still. His feet rooted themselves to the broken pavement as he turned his ear toward the sound, straining to assure himself he had heard it. The only sound now was the dim ambience of passing traffic coming intermittently down the alley. Chad’s jaw clenched. He looked about for some means of defense. He stooped. Old Faithful, the rusty trashcan lid. Of course. As he lifted it, the lid fell away and dropped with a clang to the ground, leaving the weather-beaten handle in his grip. So much for Old Faithful. Chad dropped the handle to the ground.
Then he heard it—that haunting laugh, muﬄed behind the mask, that had dogged his steps day in and day out. Chad whirled toward the head of the alley, then back again, peering intently into the shadows. His gaze darted up the walls of the high-rise buildings that towered up on either side. There was no sign of his antagonist. His mind must be playing its cruel games with him again.
Then Chad remembered why he had entered the alley in the ﬁrst place. He listened, a little perplexed, but he couldn’t hear the small weeping voice any more. Cautiously, Chad moved farther into the shadows.
“Hello!” he called as loudly as he dared. “Anyone here? Do you need help?”
A couple more steps into the dark. “Hello? Anyone?”
Still no answer.
Then he heard the sound again—a low whir. This time there could be no mistake. He was here. The Masked Player had come. Chad crouched, unsure of his best defense. He craned his neck this way and that, trying to catch a glimpse of his assailant in the dark. The street at the head of the alley was at least a hundred feet away. He preferred not to make a dash for it until he knew the location of his enemy.
Suddenly, he heard the muﬄed manic laugh again, but this time it was closer, as if it came from directly above. Half by instinct, Chad dove aside.
Jake Pendleton, known by his pen name JakePen, is a talented young Christian writer from North Carolina. His passion is high fantasy (also known as epic fantasy), and he has been crafting his upcoming novel entitled The Darkness Rises for nearly 5 years. JakePen loves sports, music, books, church, and fun times with friends. And he’ll never turn you down on a chance to go to the theaters. He plays guitar and piano, and writes songs in a variety of genres, including film scores. While primarily interested in fiction, JakePen will write other styles in a heartbeat, and he has an amateur interest in filmmaking. JakePen writes a blog, which includes a couple fantasy short stories, at www.jakepenwritesfiction.com. His Facebook fan page iswww.facebook.com/jakepenbooks. Happy reading!