FIRST LOOK–WICKED DARLINGS BY C. A. KUNZ*“Why isn’t this darn thing working?” Cat murmured as she fiddled with the locket her Aunt Ròs had given her. She kept pressing on the Celtic knot engraving on the back of it, but nothing happened. “I could really use your help right about now Aunt Ròs,” she huffed as she put the locket back around her neck.
It suddenly dawned on Cat that she hadn’t taken her blood pill yet. She opened her messenger bag and searched for the medicine bottle. “Where’d I put it? It was in here, I swear,” Cat said in frustration. “What am I going to do without my pills? This isn’t good.”
Cat began to feel very alone as she scanned the area around her. She was surrounded by a thick forest of gnarled and twisted trees, with no other sign of life anywhere. There were only pockets of light that shone through the patchy canopy overhead. She sensed that she was being watched through the thicket, but couldn’t see anyone or anything in the distance. Cat grabbed a hold of the ring Ryan had given her that she wore around her neck, and kissed it for good luck.
“Where is everyone, and why haven’t they come for me yet? I thought Blanche said my family would meet me in here.” Hearing a light rustling behind her had Cat looking back at the way she had come into the forest. What was that? She thought. Cat watched to see if the two varulvs that had chased her into the forest were coming toward her. She was slightly confused, but relieved when nothing came. Why did those varulvs just stop at the entrance of the forest? It was like they gave up chasing me, or something.
A howl in the distance made Cat jump. “Maybe I spoke a little too soon,” she said, and then proceeded to hurry down a semi-present trail that led deeper into the woods. As she continued to run, the light that once shone through the canopy overhead became less and less until the whole forest was plunged into very faint light, causing everything to look dark grey.
Suddenly a tree branch swung out in front of Cat. She faded to the side, dodging it, but stumbled over a group of large tree roots sticking out of the ground in the process. Cat tumbled down an embankment and slid to a halt as she reached the bottom.
Cat rose to her feet and began dusting herself off. “Did that tree just trip me? What’s with this place?”
*The novel is still in revisions, so this may appear differently in the release.