Sanctuary City – First Chapter

COMING in February 2019



April 20, 2017

At first, Timothy McDonald thought he was seeing things. His truck jerked over the potholes, making his headlights bounce erratically, distorting once familiar shapes and shadows. A thick line of trees bordered the old logging road, blocking out the sunrise to the east.

He swiped a beefy hand across his eyes and turned down the thrashing guitar riffs blaring from his speakers as if that’d help him see more clearly. It’d been a long night what with Sandra showing up sloshed, hauling him out of bed for another round of Jack Daniels. He’d offered a feeble protest, but her dimples won him over the same way they did twenty years ago at Sanctuary High School.

As his rusted-out 1986 Ford Ranger slowed, Timothy knew it wasn’t lack of sleep causing hallucinations—there was something crawling on the side of the road, dragging across the pine needles.

Something bloody.

He slammed on the brakes, skidding to a stop.

A pale arm rose from the pile of flesh.

Timothy leapt out of his Ford and was nearly on top of the small form when he drew up short. He yanked off his John Deere tractor hat, tore at his hair, and bellowed into the dark. “Jesus Christ. It’s a goddamn little kid.”

He knelt down. It was a girl, maybe his niece Jeannie’s age, stuck somewhere between a child and a teenager. Other than that, he couldn’t tell anything about her except she had long hair matted with blood. Her head was turned toward him, resting on her arm. His fingers trembled as he lifted a sticky clump of bloody hair away from her face, revealing a large brown eye. His body heaved with relief when a small sound, barely a sigh, emerged from her tiny mouth.

He fumbled for his cell phone before he realized he’d left it in the truck.

“Hang in there. I’m gonna get help.”

Panic flashed across the brown eye and a small sound bubbled out of her mouth. He squeezed her hand softly.

“I won’t leave you. I promise. I’ll be right back.” He tried to sound reassuring.

He raced to the truck. It took three tries for his fingers to stab the right numbers.

“Holy Christ, this is so bad,” he said when 911 answered. “Got a little girl up here on Old Courtemanche Road by Whiskey Flats, just come crawling out of the woods and she’s hurt bad, real bad.”

“What’s the nature of her injuries?” The dispatcher sounded bored.

Timothy glanced over at the girl lit up in the halo of his headlights. She hadn’t moved.

“She’s bleeding something fierce. Everywhere. Like a goddamned horror movie. Get someone up here fast. Please. Goddammit, quit asking me questions and get someone up here now.”


THE READING ROOM review (under it’s former title, Shadow Man)

An ancient evil has surfaced and it’s up to one woman to stop it.

From Anthony, Barry & Macavity finalist …

When Maggie Bychowski is first hired as a police officer in Sanctuary City, the small northern California town seems to live up to its bucolic name. But Maggie soon finds her job in jeopardy because in this town the thin blue line is as crooked as a drunk walking heel-to-toe.

Meanwhile, another threat is seeping into town. Shadowman, an online fantasy character, lures local girls into doing his bidding with enticing stories of life in his luxurious mansion.

When a shocking crime strikes the town and Maggie suspects that all is not as it appears, the powers that be mobilize to protect their own. But Maggie is determined to uncover the truth, no matter how ugly—or difficult to believe—it may be.