For the 2022 Peachville Fall Fair group hop on Facebook, authors were asked to write a scene starring some of our favorite characters spending time at the fair, so of course I had to write about Collin, a beloved side character from Death of the Moon! And of course he had to check out the haunted house where he meets one of the MCs from the book for the first time.
This takes place before the events in Death of the Moon.
I hope you love this little intro story as much as I loved writing it!
A chainsaw rattled the building.
Screams filled the crisp autumn air, followed up immediately with hysterics. Giggles. Laughter. Mirth.
Collin stepped back into the shadows between the skeletons and—was that supposed to be a ghost standing over the casket?—swatted at the threads hanging from the air in a macabre rendition of a spider web.
Humans are weird.
No, seriously. They set up these fairs with attractions meant to scare them and laugh it off. Little did they know, the creatures that attend these things can be much, much scarier.
Not that Collin was scary. He was a squirrel. Cute! Adorable! Not scary at all!
On the flip side, he’d counted no fewer than four werewolves, a werejackal, and a racoon shifter from his vantage point in the “haunted” house. Now raccoons? Those were scary.
And this was just in the last hour.
He’d have to be careful.
If he’d known how many shifters and weres would be here, he may have rethought this stopover on the way to Ohio, where he could seek asylum in the Independent community. These had to belong to a pack or pride—surely they couldn’t all be Independents. He wasn’t that lucky. And packs would have to report him.
But … they wouldn’t come here at least.
To do that, he needed money. Traveling like this wasn’t cheap, and he’d started out with a whopping two cents to his name—they didn’t need money. What was the point? They didn’t interact with humans unless they absolutely had to.
One more haul and he’d be free. What better place than a dark building these humans paid to walk through just for the thrill of it?
The chainsaw echoed throughout the “haunted” house again, immediately followed by squeals of laughter and fake screaming. What was up with the guy wearing a hockey mask while wielding a chainsaw, anyway?
Humans are weird.
A door creaked open one room over from his hidey hole. Two people stepped into the chamber—a man bundled up in a scarf, coat, and gloves and a tiny, beautiful woman with long white-blonde hair piled atop her head in twists and pinned together with ornate clips that glinted in the low lighting.
The man leaned down, grumbling quietly at the woman, his voice carrying a light accent Collin had never heard before. “I don’t understand why you brought me here, Ari. It’s too fecking loud.”
Ari patted the man on the arm with long, slender fingers barely peaking out of the garment she wore. It wasn’t a kimono. What had Zazzie called it? A yuka-something. “I will admit, I had not quite expected the noise. I am sorry, Little Wolf. Perhaps we should leave after this if we do not find what we are here for.”
Collin tuned them out. His gaze caught on a shiny orb peaking out from the twists in her hair. Was it glowing? Maybe she’d have more shiny trinkets in her pockets …
No stealing from the preternatural. They’d catch him for sure!
Collin clenched his hands into fists and pressed tight against the wall.
But … maybe if he was quick?
A hand clamped down on his wrist before he even realized he’d gone for it anyway, with his hand partially stuffed in the werewolf’s pocket. A small whimper escaped him even as his fingers curled around the small object in his hand.
Damn, damn, damn.
“S-sorry.” Collin tried to yank his arm away, but the werewolf held fast. The werewolf raised one eyebrow from behind the dark glasses he wore. They reflected oddly in here, more mirrored than glass.
“Oh, let him have it, Little Wolf. It is nothing important.” After the werewolf released his wrist, the one the he’d called Ari pierced him with her ethereal gaze, eyes sparkling with power. What in the world was she? “Now, then. Must you continue to pilfer from the unsuspecting lot here? Or would you like a ride to your destination?”
Come again? Collin quickly pocketed the trinket he’d taken—he’d look at it later—and squared his shoulders. “Who are you?”
“Forgive our manners. You may call me Ari. Ari Fushimi and this is Litt—”
The man cleared his throat and shook his head. “I’m Alec Channing. I take it he’s … ?”
Ari smiled softly. “Yes, I do believe so.”
He’d heard of these two before. They were the ones he’d been heading to Ohio to meet and ask for asylum. The unofficial leaders of the Independent community.
They could keep him safe.
Collin held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Channing. Ari.”
Alec growled. “Call me Alec.”
Biting his lip, Collin tilted his head. “Sure thing, Mr. Channing.”
The werewolf threw his hands into the air and stalked toward the exit to the room. “Let’s get out of this fecking place, yeah?”
Ari offered Collin her arm, strolling along at a more leisurely pace through the rest of the “haunted” house. They walked through the red room where a demented butcher hung from the ceiling by a hook through his head. The door on the other end led to a pitch black passage way but the walls were too narrow to go anywhere but onward.
They caught up to Alec just before the exit. “Can we leave now?”
“What say you, Collin? Would you like to come home with us? I will get started on more permanent lodgings as quickly as possible.” Ari asked, smiling up at him. Had he told her his name earlier? He must have.
She offered everything he’d wanted.
He should be wary, but something about her made him trust her. “Please?”
Maybe now everything would be okay.
“C’mon kid. She’s probably got everything sorted out already, anyway.” Alec chuckled and opened the door leading outside.
“Sounds good, Mr. Channing.”
With an exasperated sigh, Alec stepped through the door. The trio calmly strolled past the man in the hockey mask. He lifted the chainsaw and revved it menacingly.
Humans are weird.