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Authors: Karoleen Vry Brucks

Valley of Dust

BOOK: Valley of Dust
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VALLEY OF DUST

 

 

 

 

Karoleen Vry Brucks

Copyright © 2012 by Karoleen Vry Brucks.

Library of Congress Control Number:      2012910186

ISBN:         Hardcover                              978-1-4771-2535-9

                  Softcover                                978-1-4771-2534-2

                  Ebook                                    978-1-4771-2536-6

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

 

To order additional copies of this book, contact:
Xlibris Corporation
1-888-795-4274

 

 

I would like to dedicate the book to My Family.

1
 

S
INCE I WAS a little girl, I’ve always had the same dream. In that dream there was a gorgeous man with eyes all knowing. They were a brilliant hue of blue with just a speck of green. Every night the dream would be the same. “Don’t change, my dear, you are more than just a puppet.” He would always say this with a beautiful smile, and with a blink of an eye he would vanish. That is maybe why I have never changed anything about myself. You could say I was sort of an outcast or black sheep. Anything would describe me but normal. I was beyond normal; even my family saw it. I was an adventurous child from the beginning of life. While girls played dolls, I was climbing trees and finding new adventures in every nook and cranny I could find. I was never accepted by either gender. All the children thought I was too outspoken and strange. Even their parents would shy away from me. It bothered me at first, and that’s when I started having those dreams. Even though those dreams helped me out when I was down, they were never my true strength. All along I knew I had the will to push forward and climb as high as my hands could take me.

Now I am twenty-two years old and practically a starving artist. By day I am studying art at Penland School of Crafts, one class at a time, and by night I am the spunky bartender showing my art though alcoholic drinks. I think my best times are at that bar when people around me relax and let loose; with my drinks, they become more like me: eccentric. My customers, after their first drink, allow themselves to not hold back on how they feel; they express their feelings truthfully whether they are happy or sad. In that moment they are truly free from their day-to-day existence. In my experience as a bartender, it was easy for intoxicated people to let loose. The drunk always had their excuse for later. That’s when I realize how sad those people are. They would completely do a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn and change back into a completely different person unable to express how they deeply feel. They go back to becoming puppets in this sick society. I, however, will never be a puppet. I looked for adventure, the unknown, taboos, and anything considered artsy. If I wanted a tattoo, I got it. Piercing? Done that. I was never one to shy away from a chance to try something new. Well, there was one thing. I never really got a chance to date. Men at first sight would see this tall stunning redhead with ivory skin and aqua green eyes; but the moment I opened my mouth, people got creeped out by me. I was too open, too expressive, just me. Growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina, my sisters and their friends had the most creative time making up nicknames for me that somehow managed to last my whole school life. I didn’t fit in, no matter what crowd I tried to fit into. I was just too different.
Oh well
, I thought. I already have someone in my mind, and I wouldn’t settle for anyone less, even if he was only in my dreams.

Tonight was going to be a restless night,
I thought when I stared at the clock. Damn, it was already 3:00 a.m.; these night shifts were making me nocturnal. Bartending was a great job for being a student in need of cash. It paid for rent, food, clothes, and enough for one class a semester; but I never really got a good night’s sleep. To think about it, it had been a year since I remember sleeping at a halfway decent time. I needed to wind down, and that’s when I decided to go for a jog. I shoved some tennis shoes on and decided it was time to run off my excess energy. It was a small town in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, and the safety record was great in this part of town. I had my tracksuit on, cell phone, keys, and shoes. I was all set to go jogging down Deer Park Lake Road.

When I got outside, the moon was beautiful. This would be a simple jog. No noise, just my feet to the pavement. This was a wonderful feeling, the wind brushing through my hair while I kept a good pace. I wasn’t the best jogger, but I enjoyed releasing my wound-up energy from work. The jog was going good until all of a sudden a feral cat jumped out in front of me. “Oh shit!” I screamed. I barely dodged the cat, and before I knew it, I was losing my balance and heading to fall flat on my face. Prepared to fall down, I was shocked my balance came back to me. I did not fall, apparently, until I realized someone had my arm. “Who’s this fox?” he hissed in my ear. I cringed at the smell of him. He smelt of booze and cigarettes. Suddenly I felt his hands rummaging through my pockets, throwing my cell phone and keys to the ground. My body felt tense and defiled while he groped me in search of something.
Shit,
I thought.
He was out to rob me and I didn’t bring my wallet
. “So the fox forgot her money. I guess her body will do.” He smirked. “No please!” I screamed. There was no use. I had a knife to my throat, and I could feel my skin slice every time I wiggled.
Was this how I would lose my virginity?
I thought.
My first and last time and probably end up in a cold case file like on TV
? I was about to use every bit of energy I could muster and let the knife slice my throat, but as I was about to make my move, I felt warm blood all over my tracksuit. The warm feeling of blood and my rapist’s face looking shocked took me aback for a moment. That’s when I realized this was not my blood, or at least I hoped not. “Shit!” I screamed as the rapist, with a hole through his stomach, fell on top of me. In that instant I saw a glimpse of a tall man with long flowing silver hair. He looked so beautiful, so graceful, and with a blink of an eye he was gone.

Then I realized there was a problem here. The guy who was about to rape me was brutally murdered, and I was the only one left unharmed. I screamed for what felt like hours until out of the blue a car drove by. They must have seen me or heard me screaming because they pulled over to see what was going on. I was so scared by the sound of the car I threw what was left of that rapist off me and tumbled to my cell phone and found what looked like a good-enough branch to use as a weapon. I didn’t know who to trust; everything happened so fast. My tracksuit was covered in what seemed like every ounce of that bastard’s blood, and now there were two people coming toward me. I realized by the look of one of them that I wasn’t the only one terrified; the woman caught one sight of me and ran into her car holding a cell phone to her ear. I hoped she would be calling for help. The man, however, stayed and crept closer to me. “Miss, are you okay?” he asked calmly. “Stay back. I have a weapon. Don’t come any closer!” I screamed. He stood there and didn’t move. He didn’t look like he wanted to harm me, but now was not the time to let my guard down. I had been attacked by a rapist and then witnessed a murder from a vigilante while being left seemingly unharmed. Within those tense minutes of staring at each other, I heard something wonderful. I heard sirens everywhere. Cops, firefighters, and EMS all were arriving for me. I dropped my stick and fell to the ground crying.
I had survived,
I thought. The man watching me must have thought I had fainted, because he went to catch me even though I had been hostile to him. “Over here, guys. I think she is in shock,” he said. Lights were all around me and voices were calling to get my attention; in that moment I blacked out.

I awoke in a hospital. I looked down to see I had an IV in my arm and a bandage around my neck. I felt like I should be panicking, but I was very relaxed. This odd sensation in my chest was intense, like it was weighing me down. I knew it had to be a strong narcotic. It also hid all of my pain, which was shocking since I hated IVs. It was a relief to be safe but at the same time nerve wracking. What had they given me? I heard a worried woman’s voice call out to me, “Miss, miss, are you awake?” I focused my eyes on the woman making all that noise. She was a slightly curvaceous woman with a beautiful cheery face. I tried to speak, but all that would come out was a muffled sound. “Don’t worry, miss, I’ll have the doctor come in to see you.” She ran off before I could utter any other gibberish. I didn’t want her to go. I hated being alone, and she had such an appealing presence. It felt, for a moment when she spoke to me, that I had some comfort.

My room was sterile; it reminded me of death. I could smell ethanol and whatever other chemicals they used to sterilize my room, and I felt utterly alone. “Ahhh, I see you are awake, Ms. Holmberg,” the man had spoken. I cringed at my last name.
It was so embarrassing
, I thought. My father was an immigrant to this country and settled down with a United States citizen; they had three kids. I was the middle child with the foolishly weird name. “Well, anyway, Ms. Holmberg, my name is Dr. Murphy. You are at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. How is your pain? We gave you some morphine while we stitched you up and Ativan to calm your nerves. Do you need any more?” “No,” was all I could muster. The doctor explained to me in great detail where I was and how I got to this hospital. Apparently I was drenched in blood when the EMS arrived, and I was so wound up from the trauma that they had to heavily sedate me with etomidate. I knew the feeling of calmness in a place like this meant I had to have been sedated with some hard-core stuff. I knew I would never have come to a hospital willingly if I hadn’t been sedated. Hospitals reminded me too much of how frail we were. I had too many bad memories at hospitals. This hospital reminded me of my grandfather’s death, something I had tried to forget so long ago. He was someone I truly loved, and I hated being reminded of the days of his passing. Instead I always tried to remember him before his sickness took over.

I found that I had stitches in my neck; they were dissolvable stitches, but I wasn’t supposed to overexert myself while they healed. The doctor had told me he was having a hard time making the stitches keep the wound close. This worried the doctor as my blood platelets were not functioning as well as he thought they should be. The doctor told me something that shocked the very core of me even with all the drugs coursing through my veins. He apologized to me about how the man who came in with me did not make it. Since I had been sedated so long, the doctor assumed I was with that wretched man when actually he was the one who put me here. My face must have looked frightening as I looked at the doctor angrily. The doctor was taken aback when I showed no remorse about the dead man but instead intense anger. I told him in precise detail what I remembered without straining my neck too much. I explained that the man who died was my attacker and in no way would I know a bastard like him. The thought of how that guy wanted to rape me and had a knife to my neck brought chills down my body realizing how close I had been to death. The doctor had given me a saddened look with my response. Then he apologized and told me I needed to give a statement to the cops soon, but he could hold them off until I was ready. Angrily I nodded to the doctor to start my interrogation. I decided I might as well get the investigation over with as I hated to keep things unfinished.

About twenty agonizing minutes went by until the doctor finally brought the detective, or that’s what I assumed since he was not in his uniform. The only thing coplike about this man was the gun and badge attached to his belt. He was in a suit, and you could tell he must have played football in the past by how stocky he was. The detective was nowhere near handsome, and he had quite a few years on him. I hoped this wasn’t one of those corrupt cops like I heard about from many of my coworkers. I had heard so many rumors from people about how cops never listen to you and then twist your words. I cringed; was I really ready for this guy? I knew it had to be done, so I thought,
What the hell, I had nothing to hide
. Then the detective spoke with a deep penetrating voice, “Miss, are you sure you’re ready to give me your statement?” I nodded. “Okay, Ms. Holmberg, please try not to strain yourself. My name is Detective Jones. Please start from the beginning.” By his demeanor, he definitely did not seem like a bad cop; I could tell by the way he spoke, especially since it was my job to know how to read my customers. He was a courteous man to me, constantly asking if I was okay. His image looked all tough on the outside, but I knew deep down he was a big softy on the inside. I explained to him in great detail how I was out jogging early in the morning and out of nowhere I was attacked by the now very dead man in the morgue. I told him how I thought I was going to be raped and/or die, whichever that dead pervert was going to do first. That’s when I told him I felt warm blood all over me, and instead of my own, I found it was that of the man who tried to harm me. I remembered how traumatized I was, and I explained how I screamed for what seemed like forever, or at least until help arrived. “Miss, did you get a look at the vigilante who murdered your attacker?” He spoke urgently, but sadly I could not remember. I shook my head; my memory was so foggy from that night after what that guy had done to me. “Well, Ms. Holmberg, if you remember anything, please give me a call. By the way, your attacker was on you and the hole came from his spine first. There is no way you could have been involved in his death, so do not worry about being a suspect in his murder, and please work hard to remember who was the person who killed that man. I thank you for answering my questions, and if you do remember any other details about the vigilante, don’t hesitate to call. You were lucky. I am glad you came out with just a few injuries.” He smiled, tipped his hat, and left. Everything was out of place like I was trapped in an endless dream and I couldn’t wake up. Tears should be falling down my face, but none came. The nurse ran in to my room when my heart rate alarms went off. She looked pale staring at my bandages and pressed the call button for the doctor. Within minutes the doctor came in, putting something in my IV.
What the hell was he doing?
I thought.
And why was the nurse pressing on my neck? Was she trying to choke me?
“It will only hurt for a second, miss,” the doctor said, and I knew what was happening: something was wrong with my neck, and I was drugged again. The medicine took its effect, and I was nodding off. The air felt heavy, and everything went dark.

BOOK: Valley of Dust
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