Hello everyone! I hope the New Year has already been treating you better than 2020 & 2021!!
Here is Chapter 1 from the new novel, The Hidden Within written by my father, T.D. Barton and I. This is the upcoming sequel to The Hidden from 2017. We sincerely hope you enjoy it. The full novel will be out in a couple months so keep your eyes open for it!!!
Throbbing, pounding pain split Makenzie’s skull and a gnawing hunger roiled her guts. She was running noiselessly along a path through a wooded expanse. Driven by an irresistible urge that she did not understand, but had no desire to resist, she forged ahead at a breakneck pace. At last, she paused and sniffed the heavy night air, pungent with the scent of rotting plants and vegetation lining the forest floor. Ahead she sensed the mordant smell of human flesh, coated enticingly with a sheen of sweat brought on by fear and exertion. Her prey was straining to escape, running, and stumbling blindly amongst the trees, crashing loudly through the underbrush.
While paused, she looked down at her hands and stared at the long, black claws that glistened in the moonlight at the ends of her shaggy fingers. With a snarl she brought them up and scratched at her fur-covered belly. From deep within, she felt a blood-chilling howl building up, swelling the walls of her throat. She was no longer Makenzie; she was something else. Something not human but dangerously primeval—savage and powerful. The thing tilted its head back straightened its neck and let go. Rumbling out into the night, the ghastly sound reverberated among the trees and dense foliage of the forest. When at last it died down, the sound of the various denizens of the dark had been silenced. An eerie quiet had settled in and not one cricket or tree frog dared to be the first to break that silence. Finally, a lone owl hooted in the distance and the sounds of the night resumed. Chuffing out a hot breath, the beast started running again. Soon she would overtake her victim and its blood would course hotly down her throat.
From far above in the night sky, she looked down at herself and the young man who staggered along a few yards before. Dimly Makenzie was becoming aware that this was not real. Another fierce nightmare was dragging her against her will through a primordial wood in the form of a beast, primitive and feral.
Shay-rah… Shay-rah… the name seemed to whisper on a breeze through the branches. But when the beast cocked its long ears forward, twitching them back and forth, she realized the whispers came from within her own mind.
Silently she prayed that she would not wake up. This time please let her catch her prey. She lusted for the taste of his flesh. Not yet, she was almost there… almost… there… almost…..
The world was a shit-brown smudge, smeared across her field of vision. Makenzie wanted to shake her head to clear it, but she found she couldn’t move, wanted to bring her balled fists to her eyes and wipe away whatever this film was that blocked her sight. But her arms lay limp and unresponsive by her side.
Groggy and frighteningly confused, she tried to call out for help; but only a strangled, weak mewling sound escaped her throat. She licked her lips and blinked rapidly. Her breathing was slow and sluggish as she drew in great gasps and released them with a shutter.
Slowly a wavering shadow began to coalesce above her and, as she continued to blink and roll her eyes, the image of a face appeared, still very fuzzy in outline but nonetheless recognizable as that of a man. Her own face scrunched up into a scowl of fear and loathing and she squirmed against the restraints that held her pinned like a specimen beneath a microscope.
It dawned on her that the man was saying something. The voice drifted in from far away and she struggled to understand the words. It sounded like “Offend me….offend me….mistake us.” The ringing in her ears was so strong as to overwhelm any sound from the outside and she felt her head would explode. No, not offend me, not that….it was… Makenzie.
That’s it: Makenzie. Yes, Makenzie….and then Ms. Jacobs. It was a name. Her name. Yes, her name was Makenzie Jacobs. Always had been. So there, that solves that. This man hovering his round black face over her was calling her name. Okay, so now she could go back to sleep. She closed her tired eyes and began to nod off.
But the man wasn’t through. His hands grasped her arms on both sides, and he shook her, gently at first and then with a more firm and aggressive urgency.
“Ms. Jacobs, can you hear me?” he said and this time she could understand his voice more clearly. He looked away and Makenzie stared up at his stubbly chin, noticing the cleft at the point of it. She fixated on it for a moment, watching it bob and weave as he seemed to be talking to someone off to the side.
“Bring her some water, I think she’s coming around,” he said. And a female voice replied in the affirmative. “Yes, doctor,” the woman said, and footsteps echoed across Makenzie’s consciousness.
The doctor looked down at her again and his face seemed genuinely concerned, but, true to his profession, he maintained a certain aloofness, so as not to become too involved. She was merely a patient, not a person.
“You’ve been given a shot to revive you and your head should begin to clear very soon, he said. “Just try to remain calm and relax.” Makenzie thought she detected a slight Jamaican accent in his voice.
“Can you talk? Do you know where you are?”
She wrinkled her brow and coughed dryly. Try as she might, she had no recollection of where she was or what had brought her here.
All she could recall was her name and the name brought her no sense of satisfaction, as though she should be ashamed of the person it represented. Why should she be repelled by her own name? Who is Makenzie Jacobs and why was she here? Dimly she seemed to recall another name. It was something else she used to answer to long ago… What did it mean? The name whispered around inside her mind and then was gone again.
The doctor scowled and peered intently into her eyes. His breath wafted by her nose, bringing a faint aroma of sage along with it. A hand suddenly appeared; the arm attached to it leading to a white sleeve which dissolved into a blur off to the left of her vision. It was a woman’s hand, and it held a plastic cup full of water, which was brought to her mouth. She gingerly sipped the cold water, and it blessedly soothed her parched lips and raspy mouth. After a short pause for breath, she raised her head for a deeper drink, and this loosened her knotted throat.
“I’m in a hospital,” she croaked. “Car crash…”
The doctor frowned and looked off to the side again. As he spoke to the woman Makenzie stared up at him and her attention this time was centered on a vein, an artery actually, which throbbed at the base of his throat. Again, she licked her lips, but this time not because of thirst, rather something else coursed through her, like the blood in his pulse. It was something more akin to hunger.
He looked down again and gave her a warm smile. The strange feeling faded away.
“Makenzie, the crash was a long while ago.” Do you remember?
She tried to set up but was still immobilized. Why was she restrained? Was she severely injured? Her mind flashed pictures of crunching metal and screeching tires and she remembered being tossed around like a ragdoll. The smell of burning gasoline seemed to fill her nostrils. Flashes of memory, disjointed and surreal, slammed through her mind. She saw glimpses of that night— swirling images that terrified her. It was more than she could handle. There was nothing there that Makenzie wanted to remember.
“It’s all right. It’s all right, you’re not hurt. Shhhh,” the doctor’s voice was soothing but firm. “You’re okay…okay. Please. Just relax.”
She began to calm down, but still looked from side to side, bewildered, and upset.
She looked the doctor in the face.
“Do you remember your parents? Their names?”
Gazing into the distance she stammered, woodenly, “J-Jillian? …. Carter?”
“Good. Very good. Jillian and Carter Jacobs.” He smiled, showing even white teeth, professionally capped.
“Ms. Jacobs, my name is Doctor Doakes. Your parents love you very much. And they’ve brought you to me, uh, to us to try to help you. Do you remember that?”
She knitted her brows. “The crash… it was…” Her voice trailed off.
“Yes, it was a terrible crash.” he said. “But that’s not why you are here.”
“Makenzie, you’ve been suffering from lapses…hallucinations…periods of violence and rage. Recently you were involved in an incident at your parents’ house. The fundraiser. Is…any of this coming back to you?”
Again, he searched her uncomprehending face. The girl had no idea what he was talking about.
“You hurt some people and the police had to be called. Mrs. Jacobs says that you have become increasingly irrational and impossible to deal with at home and they, well we all feel it would be good if you could spend some time here with us until we can sort out just what is going on with you.”
Makenzie jerked her head sideways in a bird-like fashion and looked out the window.
“No crash. Not a hospital,” she said, and her voice sounded flat, unemotional. Quite calm now, she looked back at Dr Doakes and in a voice dripping with sarcasm she said, “I’m in a nut-house. The fucking bitch has put me away.”
Slowly she shook her head from side to side.
“So, she got what she has always wanted. I’m out of the picture. No more embarrassing outbursts from crazy Makenzie. Senator Jacobs can bury her little girl, and no one will ever know. This is what she had planned all along. Well, it’s not going to happen, I can tell you that. For once, Jillian is not going to get her way.”
Suddenly she began straining against the straps which held her to the bed. She thrashed and squirmed like a demon unleashed. Her struggles became so violent that Dr. Doakes and his nurse, Kim both stepped back momentarily startled.
“Bullshit!” screamed the agitated young lady. “This is fucking bullshit! And she’s not going to get away with it!”
“Aaaaarrrr!” she screamed and as the screams began to trail off into wails of anger they started to sound almost like the howls of a wounded beast.
Frothing at the mouth, she balled her fists so tightly that her long nails began to slice deeply into her own palms, bringing forth rivulets of blood.
“I’ll kill her!” She howled. “Aaaaa-I’ll kill ‘em both! You can’t keep me here! Do you get that assholes? You can’t! I’ll fucking kill you all! Rip out your fucking throats! I will! You can’t stop me!”
Tightening his grip on her upper arms the doctor shot a meaningful glance at Nurse Kim, who turned and prepared a syringe. Returning to the struggling doctor she handed the sedative to him.
“Here we go again, Doctor,” she said, shaking her head sadly. “Here we go again.”