The Markers, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing
Date of Publication: 10/03/2013
Word Count: ~60,000
Charlie Kale knows life isn't easy. But for the first time, this truck driver might have finally found her little piece of happiness. She's got it all—her big rig, friends, a great mentor, and a man about to join her on the road.
That is, until the good things in Charlie's life all fall apart, and she finds herself at the mercy of a sexy but mysterious gunman who claims to be a member of a secret order dedicated to fighting the supernatural monsters that filter over into our world.
She's given a choice—join up or die, and while the gunman might be insane, Charlie’s hell-bent on not dying.
Too bad it looks like that might not be an option.
By three in the morning, I’d already been on the road for hours. My eyes were starting to droop, the lights of passing cars playing hypnotist in the dark.
Now I remember why I don’t run nights. Running nights was like childbirth—or so I’ve heard—you suffered through, and then a few trips later, you’d already forgotten how tired you felt, how each mile was a struggle of will to keep your eyes open.
In driving school, they always told you to never drive tired. They didn’t mention that everybody did it, or it was impossible not to.
Just one more hour. If I can just get another hour—maybe hour and half—the sun will come up, and I’ll get a nice boost, and then it’s not too far after that.
I yawned and took another swig of my coffee, trying to suck the lukewarm mixture down in a single gulp. I grimaced at the candy-bar mixture. I preferred it black, but there were only so many cups of mud a person could drink before it started to feel like your stomach lining was about to peel off. In my case, that number was six.
Jeff was the one who had shown me how vital it was to load the mixture with enough cream and sugar to turn it into slurry. And he still hasn’t answered my text. It wasn’t like him. Maybe he didn’t get it? Should I send it again?
I made a note to call him when I got the chance, and then I rounded a bend and went blind. The driver coming from the opposite direction—a jeep, or maybe a lifted truck, I couldn’t tell—had his high beams misaimed, and they were blasting me straight in the face. Grateful for the low traffic, I stared down at the white line and tried to keep my truck straight.
And then, the lights started flickering and dancing in the lane. The glow alternately brightened and dimmed as the car moved, and I realized the driver was swerving. He or she was either drunk or having a heart attack, and neither one of those was very good.
Like so many other times in my short career, I did the only thing I could do. I eased off the fuel and prayed to whoever might be up there. Please keep this truck safe.
Finally, the headlights whizzed past me. I had enough time for a quick second of relief as the sudden darkness made spots dance across my vision—and then I heard it, an awful, thumping groan, and I felt the truck shudder. I glanced in my mirror and saw the trailer swing. I whipped the steering wheel to correct the motion, but it had already gone too far. Fifty-three feet of aluminum bucked like a sidewinder crossing the desert. I steered right, trying to take myself off of the road, but by then, the trailer had started to tip.
If a trailer rolls, the truck goes with it. Jeff had told me that a thousand times. Now I’d get the chance to find out if it was true.
The trailer turned in slow motion, with a groan I could feel all the way to my bones. Gravity shifted, and the world swiveled through my dash as the entire cab filled with the sounds of every item I owned falling at once.
Over the crashes, I heard Diesel’s whine, and there was just enough time for a ping of regret.
I’m sorry, boy. I didn’t know it was going to be this way.
And then the side of my head exploded into a cascade of pain and fire, and everything went dark.
About the Author:
Well-traveled and uncoordinated, Maria Violante is the best-selling author of several books in the realm of speculative fiction--all of them crossovers that require hyphens in the genre description (see:
gladiator-dystopia-rom-sci-fi, shifter-western-historical, or gunslinger-mercenary-urban fantasy.)
She enjoys a well-roasted coffee, Bell's Winter White Ale, and lives in Michigan with her Chihuahua, Beau, also known as “Piggy Wiggy”.