Not five minutes after busting my gut on the track, I spot a dead kid standing next to my car. Just waiting for me, like they always do. I try to groan but I’m still too out of breath to bother. How do I know he’s dead? If you don’t count the crimson smile across his neck (a deadly blow most likely inflicted by the finest of blades) and the flat pastiness of his brown skin, you wouldn’t know the difference. But I’ve done this long enough to familiarize myself with them.
It’s not the nicest of names, but it about sums them up.
Dead people—or ghosts, if that makes you feel better. Unfortunate souls that have found themselves departed from the living. They’re not always as gory as this dude, but majority of them are. Sometimes they’re just normal people dying of natural causes. I prefer the natural over the gore, to be honest.
It takes a moment for me to notice the kid, because my mind is still processing the encounter I had this afternoon in the school office. Linda, the woman who handles attendance, is damn close to filing a complaint against me, I’m sure. First thing she does each time I walk through the door is let out the loudest sigh.
“I still don’t have anything for you, Aiden,” she’d said earlier that day, for the dozenth time.
“It’s been six months, Linda. How could there be nothing? Look, I’m only asking for, like, a small hint.”
She typed away on her computer, unimpressed. “It’s against school regulations for me to release personal information on any student. Especially to another member of the student body.” Linda said this last part with a quick death stare in my direction, before going back to her computer screen. “I’ve told you. If you keep doing this, I’m gonna have to tell Father Williams.”
I leaned against the doorframe, my head tilted in that desperate way puppies use, hoping just maybe she’d take an ounce of pity on me.
Linda stopped what she was doing and faced me. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Koren Banks and her family have taken a leave of absence. That’s all I can offer you.”
I pushed myself from the door and leaned over her desk, whispering, “I just want to know that she’s okay.” If the desperation in my voice wasn’t clear enough, I hoped she’d see it on my face.
Linda looked deep in my eyes and said, “I’m not at liberty to say.” But this time, this one single time, she sounded like she wished she could.
And just like that, the anxiety I’ve dealt with for months has tripled.
I know absolutely nothing about Koren’s strange disappearance, but apparently someone does. They just can’t, or won’t, tell me.
After that, I do what always helps me burn off steam. Run. Though it doesn’t do any good when shortly after I clear my head, I find that I’m needed once again. Being a Gateway can be exhausting.
So when I finally take notice of the Bleeder who’s incapable of standing still, already in panic mode, it’s the last thing I want to deal with right now.
“Aw… come on, man. I just got off the track. Can’t this wait?” I say this as I half-drag, half-walk my way through the dark school parking lot, backpack hanging off one shoulder.
My yellow VW Bug glows brightly under the lamppost, the light creating a white halo around it like some godly beam shooting straight from the sky. Fitting. Dead kid paces back and forth next to my car, which I find disconcerting. Something’s making him twitch, and if I have to guess, I’d say it’s the reality of finding out he’s dead. That can’t be an easy thing to digest.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” he says as he paces. His hands tap against his legs, tap taptap tap, like his nerves have hit full throttle. Not that I blame the kid. Kid might be the wrong word, though. He looks about my age, seventeen, maybe a year or so older. Black shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers.
The Gateway Through Which They Came, by Heather Marie
Genre: young-adult, paranormal-horror
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: August 25, 2014
Cover Artist: Ricky Gunawan
About The Gateway Through Which They Came:
To seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory—the territory of being a Gateway. It’s hard enough doing the exchange, sending even one Bleeder away without being seen, but when Koren Banks—his childhood friend and the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago—comes back into his life, the Bleeders begin seeking him out in droves.
When confronted by a Dark One, a Bleeder gone rogue, Aiden finds himself infected with an evil inside of him that wants nothing more than to be released. Fighting the urge to let the darkness consume him, Aiden realizes that not only does the Gateway send things away—it also brings things back. But who the other Gateway is summoning these shadowed beings is just another item on the list. A list that continues to grow more complicated by the day.
As the infection begins to take form—bringing to life a monster daring to claw its way out—Aiden seeks guidance to learn the truth of the man responsible for his curse. The Dark Priest whose resurrection has reformed the Brethren of Shadows; a group of men and women who seek a life full of Darkness, and thrive for the reign of their Dark Priest to lead them once again.
With his trusted protector guiding him, a local priest named Father Martin, Aiden soon discovers that he isn’t just another Gateway like his fellow brothers—but a Mortal Gateway created by the blood of a human and an Original—making him far more vulnerable to the energy of the Dark Priest and the power he offers. But what he asks of Aiden in return could mean the death of them all, humans and Gateways alike. The choice should be easy for any Gateway, but the manipulative beast thriving inside of Aiden proves otherwise.
With Koren and his two best friends, Trevor and Evan, by his side, Aiden fights to rid the world of the evil that’s been released by the Dark Priest, while saving the girl he loves from her haunting past. Time is running out, and Aiden must find and stop the Gateway that’s releasing the Shadows into the world. As if that task alone isn’t enough, Aiden may be the only one capable of abolishing the Dark Priest and his Order before he finds himself consumed into a world of evil—and before the monster lurking inside Aiden takes control.
Find The Gateway Through Which They Came Online:
About The Author
About Heather Marie:
Heather Marie lives in Northern California with her incredibly hard working husband, whom she loves ridiculous amounts. When she isn’t writing, she spends majority of her time reading or planning her next Harry Potter marathon. Heather has always been a fan of the darker side of things most people shy away from. With her love for the classic Universal Monsters, and the slasher films she watched throughout her childhood, she found herself fascinated by the macabre.
Though she hopes to expand her work to YA dark contemporary in the future, Heather considers herself a writer of stories that showcase the unknown, and at times, the harshness that is reality. She adores her troubled characters and her ghostly fiends, creating worlds that are both strange and beautiful. All of this with a healthy dose of romance, of course.
Her debut, THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME, is a YA supernatural horror due to be released from Curiosity Quills, Summer 2014.
Find Heather Marie Online: