Author: R.J. Garcia
Title: The Stars Forgot Us
Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing
Publication Date: March 30th, 2022
Genres: Paranormal, Suspense, Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Jacob Kelly would love to go back to simpler times. Before his parents ’divorce and the onset of his brother’s Schizophrenia. But when he returns to his hometown, things feel off. After a series of strange occurrences, Jacob fears his new house is haunted or worse, yet he is losing his mind.
To his surprise, Jacob discovers a mysterious teenage runaway, Sanctuary Daniels, living in the house. She reveals she has been kept by a figure known only as Mother, in a place where downstairs children are languishing prisoners, and upstairs children do Mother’s bidding.
Jacob’s investigation into Sanctuary’s allegations, along with their budding romance, are cut short when she is reclaimed by evil beings. Beings who unleash terror upon Jacob and his family. Now he must journey to a real haunted house to save his first love and fight for his very life.
I was four years old. I poured the cereal into the bowl, but the milk sloshed and spilled. A puddle quivered on the counter. I left the mess along with my half-eaten bowl of Corn Flakes and stood in the center of the room. I noticed it. The line of salt around the parameters of the kitchen had blown away near the back door. Gramma always prayed and sprinkled it there. The still and quiet cottage held its breath. I swallowed hard, and my bare feet scampered across the cool parquet floor. I had to let her know.
The stairs leading to the second floor were narrow, confining, and creaky. I felt the curve of the doorknob twist in my small hand. My eyes glided over lovely eggshell-blue walls in the small square room. The air was usually warm and cozy, only now it was tainted with a foul smell as if Gramma had an upset stomach. I caught sight of the sewing machine with floral material left in mid stitch and made my way to her. Her body stretched out across the length of the bed. My hands held two fistfuls of the comforter. Wet with water, not blood. Then I reached up and shook her shoulders, making the row of wrinkles on her neck jiggle. Yet her sweet but sagging eyelids stayed closed.
“Gramma,” I said, scared.
A tall lady appeared. Her reddish-blonde hair was twisted in a curious knot.
I started to shake my grandmother harder. But nothing. Panic flooded my chest. Tears fell as I gazed over at the lady. “Help her. Help my Gramma.”
The lady calmly said, “Humans die and soil themselves. You are in part like them, Sanctuary. But you are also from a noble, superior bloodline. As far as I know, one of a kind. And I’m taking you home.”
More images skidded in. I was getting into a dark car. Digging the little tips of my pink fingernails into a stiff leather, watching the scenery pass. First, I glimpsed the woods and soon a pretty house, after pretty house, until we finally pulled into a twisty drive. A beautiful house out of a fairy tale materialized. I beheld the place in wonder.
Once I got out of the car, the air was scented with a fragrant aroma emanating from enormous lilac bushes, which nearly blocked the front windows. A garden gnome peeked at me from an overgrown azalea bush as Mother led me by the hand. We entered, and ceilings soared twenty feet high, appearing so much bigger from the inside. It must have been an illusion. I walked down a long rectangle of pale gray carpet onto a hard and polished wood. Mother threw the heavy front door shut, making the floor tremble under my feet. My gaze flitted to a pair of oversized leather chairs fit for giants facing one another while gaudy art cluttered the walls. One painting, in particular, caught my attention. A bloody battlefield in the sky. Angels and demons in mortal combat.
“Do you like it?” Mother asked, but I didn’t answer.
I felt like I was a small animal in an open field, ready to be pounced on and devoured at any moment.
“Well, come along,” she instructed.
At the top of the ascending stairs, there was a long corridor lined with closed doors. The jittery feeling accompanied me as Mother led me down that hall. Finally, she opened a door to reveal a pink canopy bed and red roses on the wallpapered room. There was a built-in shelf full of beautiful dolls and teddy bears, a jack-in-the-box, and wind-up toys. Somehow, this lovely room felt like a cage.
She feigned a smile. “It’s all for you.”
“I just want Gramma.”
Mother dropped to her knees and forced me close to her chest, encasing me in a firm embrace. She let go and said, “You are mine.”
I was cold and shaky. I bowed my head but didn’t dare argue.
R.J. Garcia is a wife and proud mom. She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has published several non-fiction pieces. She has been writing short-stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!