- Author: Gary Lewis
Book online «Sheep's Clothing Gary Lewis (best books to read in your 20s txt) 📖». Author Gary Lewis
Gary J. Lewis
Copyright © 2021 Gary J. Lewis
All rights reserved.
Cover Design by Stefanie Saw
A deafening howl pierced the silence of the night. It erupted from somewhere in the woods to disrupt the stillness that once was. As the sound echoed through the westernmost hills in the forests of Virginia, it awakened the residents of this small town. Something unnatural had swept into Pine Bluff and as it continued to cry out from the darkness, it seemed to yearn for the terror that it called.
It was still dark outside when Janice rolled out of bed to see the red curtains swaying. “Was it a noise or was I dreaming?” Stacks of old schoolwork shuttered on a dusty desk as the breeze carried in an unusual chill for early summer to shake apart the comfort that once rested in her room.
She stepped across the dark green carpet, dimly lit by the cracked door of the ensuite bathroom that cast light across her brown double dresser where a stack of old yearbooks from Pine Bluff High were now paperweights for last year's photography projects and unfinished college applications that piled above its dull, hardwood surface.
As she approached the open bedroom window of the two-story house that she called home, she glared down into the front yard. Beyond the barely visible weeping willows that hugged the side of the house, nothing could be seen. While she stared out into the darkness, she felt it stare right back into her as if it wanted to taste her deep inside and when she gave the curtains a tug, she could feel that it didn't belong.
Her large, circular dresser mirror was still pinned with clusters of old photos. As she stepped toward it, a heavy feeling pressed from her heart into her throat, threatening to erupt its way through her watery eyes. One of the pictures was out of place. Janice reached to barely scoot it to the left so that her dad's face peeked out just enough to still conceal his boat.
After rubbing her eyes, she grabbed her phone and scrolled through her messages. "Vance never replies at night." Her eyes rolled to match the pitch of her sigh as she tossed the phone on the bed.
Last summer’s clothes crowded her closet where she slipped out of her red nightgown before pausing to glance across the room. The layer of clutter that was beginning to cover a once neatly organized space held the remnants of a life that had once been. Somewhere between the darkness that still peered in through the window and the disaster that was forming in her room, her fears of what might be clashed with sad memories of what had been. The calamity where they met could only take place in the spot where she now stood naked in front of the mirror as she turned to brush her long, light brown hair.
As soon as she was dressed, the bright red numbers on Janice’s alarm clock caught her attention. "Damn. Almost six thirty." She huffed as she grabbed her phone and rushed for the bedroom door. Mom will be home soon.
Ceramic dishes clattered and soap suds began to rise as Janice hurried to catch up on chores, trying to brush off her painful thoughts along with the darkness that crept outside. But as she glanced up at the kitchen window above the sink, she saw the glow of dawn lighting the clouds into a red streak of flame. The sun didn't offer its usual promise of an ordinary day. Instead, it felt like an omen of terrible changes, rising from beyond the view of the horizon, threatening to swallow everyone she still had into the blood red haze that illuminated the clouds.
The steaming sink pushed a mountain of soap suds higher while she grabbed garbage bags until the sharp crunch of gravel from the driveway halted her in place. "Crap. She can't be home early. Not today.” She crammed plates and bowls into the dishwasher and tugged at the trash can in such a rush that the bag ripped. Garbage tumbled out across the once clean linoleum floor.
"What else could go wrong this morning?" She tried to sigh away her frustrations as she scrambled to grab the crumpled, empty soda cans and wadded paper towels scattered around her feet.
A loud knock banged from the kitchen door. Janice jumped with a gasp, dropping a pile of garbage back into the floor. As she approached, she glimpsed a tall, thin figure when she passed the window. His light brown hair formed feathered waves that brushed to the side. "David!" She smiled as she swung open the door. "Come on in."
"What'd you get yourself into this time, Jan?" David asked. He swooped down and started tossing the scattered rubbish into the trash bag.
She continued smiling as she swayed her hand aside. "Oh. It's nothing. Just one of those days." The pressure of her problems pushed to be vented to someone who would actually listen, but there was still work to do.
"Can you finish tying these bags while I find Peetie and give him his bowl of dogfood?" She set the bag in the floor and turned to fill the metal bowl on the counter.
"Sure thing." David's voice sounded with the quickly wrapping plastic behind her.
"By the way, where is Peetie?” he asked. “I didn't see him when I pulled up."
"I don't know. He's been acting kind of skittish lately. Did you check around back?"
"Yeah, Jan. You know every time I drop by, I walk circles around your house before I come to the door."
She giggled as she carried the bowl outside. He always finds a way to take my mind off everything.
Outside, she strolled beyond the smooth, brown paint of the concrete carport on the kitchen side of her beige house. From the cool, sharp gravel