Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Is Almost Here

The Perfect Halloween Story–Elijah Dart:

Angel of Death

 There’s nothing like a spooky story to get you into the Halloween mood. If you’ve been on the hunt for the perfect holiday story, well look no further. Check out the story of Elijah Dart! Filled with ghosts, reapers, a talking grim, and a boy discovering his destiny presented to him in a graveyard on All Hallow’s Eve. Follow Elijah as he fights his way through unlikely odds and learns the true meaning of becoming the next Angel of Death.
This book was designed entirely by Husband & Husband. Written by Jonathan L. Ferarra and illustrated by Aaron Ferrara. We hope you enjoy!
The next Angel of Death has been chosen… Before his fourteenth birthday, ordinary Elijah Dart would not have gone snooping around in a graveyard, joined an old ghost for tea, or battled hellhounds with an ancient scythe. It all lead back to the day he followed the Reapers through the graveyard on All Hallow’s Eve – the day he learned he would train to take his father’s place as the next Angel of Death. From the imagination of Jonathan L. Ferrara (THE BLACKWELL FAMILY SECRET: THE GUARDIANS OF SIN; Dragonwell Publishing) comes a tale of whimsical adventure, unlikely friends and foes, and a touch of darkness that is sure to be an enjoyable read for audiences of all ages.
A Halloween Treat just for you! Here is the first chapter of Elijah Dart: Angel of Death.
The Omen of Death
Elijah heaved himself behind a tombstone. He had no idea of who was buried there; and to be perfectly honest, he was too frightened to care. He panted heavily, his icy breath puffing out in misty clouds. His body ached terribly. He didn’t think he had the strength to carry on. Feeling already defeated, Elijah pushed his back against the cold marble tombstone. A dark figure glided past him, briskly moving across the graveyard.
“Elijah…” the figure’s voice was both cold and hollow. “I know you’re out there. It’s pointless to run from me. I know this boneyard better than the back of my hand. I will find you, boy.” His eyesight skimmed over the markers spread endlessly out in every direction he turned.
“Come out… come out… wherever you are.”
The voice of the figure caused a prickling sensation along Elijah’s skin, his toes curling inside his worn-out shoes. He closed his eyes in hopes of calming himself down. He couldn’t manage to budge a single muscle. Fear seemed to paralyze him. While Elijah sat helplessly hidden behind the tombstone his mind churned with bleak thoughts. This could be it. I may never see my family again. Would they miss me? Would anyone miss me? How bad could death really be? Would it hurt?     
The man’s patience seemed to be slipping away rapidly. “Elijah!” he shouted in a frustration.
“I’m over here.”
The shrouded character whirled around in response. His lips curled into a grin. He smiled at Elijah, refusing to bother with an exchange of words. He just acted. The man lifted a pistol, pointing it directly at Elijah’s chest. Elijah didn’t even hear it go off, but he felt a bullet pierce his side. His shoulders sagged forward instantly, his lips parting from bodily shock. It was like a bomb had gone off inside him in which the explosion vibrated within his flesh. He collapsed uncontrollably, his knees plunging into the dirt. The side of his torn torso pulsed with agony, but Elijah managed to peer into the empty eyes that stared back at him without a hint of empathy or remorse. Elijah compressed his hand against his side. His wound was now numb, but he could feel warm blood pouring out of him. Everything from that moment on felt like it was progressing in slow motion, prolonging his already decided fate.
Elijah toppled over. His cheek collided with the dirt. The man’s cackle rang in his ear, fading gradually as Elijah’s soul drifted from his body, the world. He began to convulse, twitching with every gasp of air, feeling as though he had swallowed broken glass. But that, too, went numb. He couldn’t feel a thing now. There was nothing he could do to overcome death. It had come for this fourteen-year-old boy. He would never get the chance to grow into a man, attend college, or pursue a career for himself after. He would never know what it was like to fall in love. He would never get married nor have children of his own. He would never know old age. A whole life terminated before it had the chance to begin.
It’s true what they say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes….
The Dart Family of Raven’s Lane was quite possibly the oddest bunch of people within the whole city. That was saying something, considering the Dart’s lived in Los Angeles, California where the common are the rare, and the bizarre are the everyday. Yes, the Dart Family was a strange group of individuals; and the fact that their unkempt Victorian home sat on the very edge of the city’s first graveyard only added more mystery to the family. But there was a reason for the family’s bad reputation, coincidentally enough; it was as well the very reason why they lived in what is known as the City of Angels.
Some would say that Gregory, head of the Dart household, was much too cheerful a man which earned him much gossip from his neighbors who, by the way, didn’t care for the entire family one bit. No one on the street could begin to understand how the owner and manager of G.R. Cemetery could find life so pleasant. Gregory wasn’t bothered whatsoever by his judgmental neighbors, but instead rather content with whom he was. On the other hand, the same could not be said about his wife who cared very much and put far too much effort in trying to please everyone on their street. Helena Dart was more beautiful than one could imagine which procured her some nasty stares from the envious. She had all the makings of a starlet, pushed by her family (back in Virginia) to move to Hollywood in hopes of some day becoming a legend. Although she did have immediate success, Helena only had but a short life on screen in which she gave all away to be the wife of a cemetery owner and a stay-at-home mom. The bitter housewives of Raven’s Lane spent their time criticizing Helena’s garden, the lack of upkeep of her home, and most of all, her four quirky children.
The eldest of Gregory and Helena’s brood were twin boys, Cory and Steven. Let’s just say one of them would have been bad enough. They were a menacing duo that was always sure to leave trouble in their wake. After a series of horrible events (including a near death experience from Rupert Davies from next door) all of the mothers along Raven’s Lane banded together and forbid their children to associate with the twins.
Then, there was the youngest member of the Dart Family, sweet little Myra. She was as beautiful as her mother and shared in all of her traits from her wavy blonde hair to the big doll-like eyes that seemed as though they were forged from pure emerald. Only six-years-old and Myra was the brightest in her class, but even so, Ms. Gilly had called for a parent-teacher conference on a number of occasions. The most recent was in regards to Myra’s drawings. Though elegantly executed and more detailed than even the most skillful of artists, they were to say at the very least, disturbing. Some of her works included zombies, others hooded men in graveyards. The latest was of a fat woman as opaque as a ghost standing in a kitchen, preparing a meal. Myra came to call this fat lady Bertha – her imaginary friend that she would rather play with than any of her classmates.
Lastly, there was the Dart’s middle child. He was the wallflower of the family and perhaps the strangest one of them all. His name was Elijah. There wasn’t too much to say about this boy. Actually, there was nothing that seemed special about him at all. He was typical and awkward with nothing exciting to report. His hair was a mousy brown, shaggy mess. He was a scrawny boy, smaller than most kids his age. He was so petite that he was often teased because of it. He liked to read, but that was about the only thing he enjoyed doing in his life. That was all. There was nothing else about Elijah Dart that was interesting enough to say…at least for now.
The bright morning sun slipped through the cracks in the blinds and poured onto Elijah’s face. He moaned and groaned while he jerked off. He really didn’t want to wake up. Elijah wasn’t a morning person. Actually, he wasn’t what you would call a night owl either. There wasn’t a specific time of the day he really enjoyed. Every day just simply dragged on and blurred together. No time of the day was pleasant because no day was pleasant. Every day was the same – even today, on his fourteenth birthday.
Elijah blocked out the sunlight with his pillow and buried himself beneath it. He refused to get up, attempting to convince himself to fall back asleep. His attempt was thwarted when his bedroom door swung open, and his mother and father came marching in singing the birthday song.
“Happy birthday to you…”
As they sang, Elijah slipped further underneath his sheets, trying to mute them out the best he could, but it didn’t stop them. In fact, more voices joined in, increasing the volume. He could make out his sister’s mesmerizing voice that was quickly overshadowed by Cory and Steven’s obnoxious crooning that sounded a lot like a dying bird.
“Happy birthday, dear Elijah… happy birthday to you!”
“It’s not my birthday,” he refused to acknowledge. “It’s too early to be considered a birthday.”
He felt his father’s prickly chin near a small portion of his exposed ear that his pillow and sheets failed to conceal. “We’ve got pancakes…. chocolate chip pancakes….”
Elijah’s pillow tumbled off his head as he emerged with excitement. He bit his bottom lip with anticipation as he spotted the tall stack of pancakes being held in his mother’s hands. Syrup gushed down from the top of the stack like an erupted volcano of deliciousness. Chocolate chip pancakes were the only thing Helena Dart could make without fail. Every other recipe she knew resulted in a horrible disaster. Elijah licked his lips as his mother handed him his pancakes along with a fork.
His father plucked a chocolate chip off of Elijah’s plate and scooted down beside him on the bed. “Happy birthday, kiddo.” He elbowed Elijah gently in the ribs, “The big fourteen.”
“It’s not the big fourteen,” Cory said sourly.
“There’s nothing big about fourteen,” Steven added bitterly. “It’s a stupid birthday. Not even worth celebrating.”
“Really stupid birthday,” Cory agreed, “The worst one so far.”
Elijah ignored his brothers and used his fork to cut into his pancakes.
Steven looked to his mom. “We sang to him. Can we start celebrating Halloween now?”
Helena’s patience with her twins already started cracking. “Can’t you just enjoy five minutes with your brother?”
Cory and Steven mimicked each other’s posture. They folded their arms across their chest and pouted childishly.
Cory blew his messy hair out from his menacing eyes. “It’s not our fault Ellie’s birthday is on Halloween. Whose birthday is on Halloween?! How stupid is that?!”
“Cory!” their mother shouted at them.
“It’s alright, mom. They can leave. I don’t care,” Elijah assured her.
Helena waved away the twins and they quickly obeyed before she had the  chance  to change her mind.
Elijah’s father squeezed his shoulder. “Don’t worry, Elijah. The twins are seventeen. All they care about is girls, cars, games, and more girls. You’ll catch up to them soon enough.”
“I hope not,” Elijah mumbled through a large piece of breakfast, “they’re brats.”
“They are such brats.” Helena threw herself against a wall dramatically. She pressed the back of her hand against her forehead. “What kind of a mother am I? My own sons make me want to strangle them. They’re complete nuisances! The both of them! I can’t even go shopping with them without being escorted out of the mall by either a manager, security, or the police! Oh Gregory, I don’t know how much more I can bear.”
Myra crawled up Elijah’s bed and plopped herself beside him. They giggled together as they watched their mother going on and on about the recent mischief the twins had caused. It was more entertaining to them than most sitcoms. Gregory went to comfort his wife the best he could.
Elijah shared his pancakes with his sister, and Myra gave him a hand-drawn card with the fat ghost named Bertha holding onto a red balloon and a banner above her head reading, ‘Happy Birthday!’
“The card is from Bertha,” Myra noted. “I’m going shopping with mom today to pick out your gift. I’ll give it to you later after dinner.”
Elijah studied the card. The fat lady picture caused a light prickle along the back of his neck, making him feel a tad uncomfortable. Regardless, Elijah gave his sister a peck on the cheek and thanked her for the card.
“I told you, Elijah. It wasn’t from me. The card is from Bertha. You should thank her.” Myra leaned closer to Elijah and shielded a whispered comment behind her tiny hand, “You don’t want to be rude. Bertha doesn’t like rude people. She says they’re the reason why the world is so bad. That’s why she hates the twins! But Bertha likes you. She always has. That’s why she made you the card.”
Elijah nodded and whispered back, “Got it.”
“She’s over there.”
Elijah followed the direction of his sister’s finger, pointing to the far corner of his bedroom near his desk. On the desk sat a typewriter. That’s right, a typewriter. Not a computer like most kids Elijah’s age would have. A typewriter. Not even a semi-nice one, but a very, very, very old one with missing letters.
“Thank you…. Bertha,” Elijah told the empty space beside his desk.
Myra had a smile on her face as she turned back to Elijah. “She says, ‘you’re very welcome.” Helena had calmed herself down, even though she was still breathing a little hard and her face was more red than usual. “So Elijah, what would you like for your birthday dinner?”
He shrugged his shoulders as his mother took the empty plate away from him. “I don’t care. Whatever you guys want.”
“It’s your birthday,” his father insisted. “Now, what would you like?”
There was absolutely nothing that his mother could make that sounded appetizing, but he offered a request to satisfy his parents. “Lasagna?”
“Perfect, I’ll get right on it.” Helena stopped in the frame of the door and turned back to to face her daughter. “Myra, dear, would you like to help me make your brother’s birthday dinner? We can get it started and then go shopping in the Valley for his present.”
“Alright.” Myra jumped off Elijah’s bed and took her mother’s hand in the doorway. “Can Bertha come with? She loves shopping.”
Helena’s face drained of color. “Ye-yes. That should be fine.”
Gregory gave his wife a look that told her it would be all right and it was only an age thing. But imaginary friends were not something Helena was accustomed to. Myra was the only one of her children who had had one, and she didn’t know how to handle it properly. Nonetheless, Helena managed like she always did.
Gregory crossed the room and sat at the edge of his son’s bed while Elijah went into his closest to pick out an outfit for the day. Most kids at school, if not all kids, would be wearing a Halloween costume today, but Elijah wouldn’t be among them. He never bothered with the holiday because his parents never bothered with it. None of the Dart children were allowed out on this night, so they never had trick-or-treated before. Gregory and Helena weren’t typically strict parents, but for some strange reason, they were very much so on Halloween.
“Do you want to know what your mother and I are getting you for your birthday?” his father asked him.
Elijah continued to rummage through his closet. There was nothing too appealing in it, only hand-me-downs from the twins. He usually wore a wool sweater that was a great deal larger than himself considering the fact that both of the twins were twice his size. He also wore jeans that had to be strung up around his waist by a lengthy, leather belt. His shoes were the worst part of his wardrobe. They were tattered, hardly attached to the soles anymore. Clearly, the Darts weren’t a very wealthy family.
“What is it?” Elijah replied once he retrieved his usual ensemble for the day. He didn’t care much for presents. He couldn’t remember one he had ever liked. There were a series of birthday and Christmas presents he had gotten in the past, each one more disappointing than the last. He cringed as he remembered them. He didn’t like the mountain bike he had gotten last year, or the baseball bat the year before that. He recalled the Playstation, but Elijah was never fond of videos games. He couldn’t even remember what had ever happened to it for that matter. He was given a new outfit, but never wore it because of the style his mother chose. That was just to name a few; but there were many others, none worthy of remembrance.
“You’re going to really like this one…” Gregory drew out the suspense, but Elijah was still without enthusiasm.
His father seemed to be more eager than he was, but Elijah tried to fake his excitement with a forced smile. “What is it?”
“A dog!” Gregory announced.
“A dog?”
“That’s right, kiddo. Your mom and I finally caved. We knew you’ve always wanted one, and we think you’re old enough now to take care of one. So, while you’re at school today, I’ll be heading to the pound. By the time you get home, you’ll have a new furry friend.”
Elijah pondered this for a moment. His beginning thoughts were all negative which is exactly how he often dealt with news. I would have to feed it… Walk it… Give it baths, too… I would have to pick up its poop!
“Come on, kiddo. Act a little bit happier about it. You’ve always wanted a dog.” His father held out for a smile, waiting, hoping for a smirk at least. After a long pause, Elijah cracked a forced smile. “There we go!”
Elijah went up and hugged him. “Thanks, Dad.”
Gregory ruffled Elijah’s matted hair. “You deserve it. You’re a good kid.” He glanced at his pocket-watch. “You better hurry up. Your bus will be here soon.”
Gregory closed the bedroom door behind him as he left, giving his son some privacy to change. Elijah grabbed his homework out from his typewriter reel. He frowned at the splotches of ink smeared across his essay. He quickly stowed his homework into his messenger bag before he forgot it; but while he did so, something dark flashed in the corner of his eye. Elijah walked over to the window that overlooked his backyard. It wasn’t much of a backyard as it was acres upon acres of tombstones. That’s right, the Dart house sat on the edge of G.R. Cemetery. It was a very old graveyard, large as well, not like they build them these days. It wasn’t well kept, it was like a small forest of tall trees, dead plants, thorny vines, and endless weeds.
Elijah skimmed the treetops that, mind you, weren’t very green. There he saw what he was meant to see. It was the first sign of Elijah’s new destiny. The fate of this boy would be decided by what he saw. His eyes widened at the omen of death. There were dozens of ravens in the trees, some standing upright on tombstones, and even more littering the grounds. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands of them. The exact amount Elijah couldn’t be sure of, but he wondered what they were all doing here. Little did he know, he was about to find out.

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