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Stone Guardian

By:Danielle Monsch

Stone Guardian (Entwined Realms, Book 1)

By Danielle Monsch

Chapter One

Jack Miller aimed his shotgun at the monster’s grey-skinned head and pulled the trigger. Green sludge and bits of bone and flesh splattered through the air to land on the street, the gory aftermath releasing a noxious, sulfurous odor.

Shit! Head whipped around, on search for others. He’d hoped to avoid these creatures, but his luck was overall fucked today. The noise would bring more monsters, more death. There was no further advantage to keep creeping around in shadows. It was time to haul-ass.

After the earthquake an hour earlier, the streets now resembled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle strewn around. A car wouldn’t make it three feet. Shotgun reloaded, he took off through the jagged mess, years of trail running keeping him upright.

A low undertone of anguish surrounded him, cries from people needing help, unable to escape from their stone prisons. He didn’t pause. I’m getting my wife. I’m sorry, but you’re on your own.

His Lauren, who he had last seen rubbing her nine months pregnant belly, giving him that crooked smile at his panicked question, “Is it time to go to the hospital? Should we call Ana to get the boys?”

She waved him out the door in the peaceful morning light saying there was still time, she would start to take care of things, now go be a good cop and let the captain know paternity leave was about to take their best detective away.

Six hours after she kissed him goodbye, Jack stepped into his standard public-servant-worn office, on return from a jail run. His own cell phone out of commission due to a run-in with a perp, Jack reached for the desk phone to call Lauren and see how she was feeling when the phone rang. He picked it up. “Detective Miller.”

“Yes, is this the husband of Lauren Miller?”

Jack’s skin goose bumped at the detachment in that voice, as practiced as any cop who worked homicide for twenty years. It took two tries to swallow and relax his throat enough to speak. “I’m Lauren’s husband.”

“Detective, this is County General. Your wife has been admitted, and I’m afraid that an emergency situation has devel-”

The ground buckled and twisted and threw him against the wall. The building creaked and groaned, the high-pitched crack of shattering glass sharp in his ears.

The floor still moved. He struggled to regain his footing and watched the earthquake tear through the city from his third-story view. Buildings wrenched from the earth, cars tossed through the air, glass shattered in visible streams. Outside a maelstrom of loud, crashing noise accompanied by the acrid smell of smoke and burning gasoline.

As the destruction continued outside another change took place. Nothing physical signaled this wreckage, but against his skin was scraping, surging, scratching, a changing of air and atmosphere – something shaking up his guts, fucking with him down to the bone and beyond.

Wrongness. Jack locked his knees and leaned against the scarred-wooden desk. Acid surged up his throat and he kept swallowing hard against the urge to keel over and vomit.

“CODE 999! CODE 999!”

Moments later a volley of gunfire sounded outside. A stampede of footsteps pounded past his door. The precinct went into crisis mode.

Jack stepped into the swarm of cops heading for the munitions locker. The sergeant handed out weapons, only taking enough notice to make sure he was handing to a cop. “Don’t forget the sting grenades,” Sarge called out as officers suited up in Kevlar, riot gear, and automatic weapons.

Running to the front of the station, Jack heard the horrified scream of “What the fuck are those?”

Disbelief stopped Jack dead as he exited the station and looked what was coming down the road.

Dear God…

The rookie behind him plowed hard into his back. It didn’t knock him over, but it shook him out of the daze.

Training took over, and as he drew his gun and began firing, he catalogued the monsters descriptions. Humanoid features, heights 6’5” to 7’5”, built like weightlifters. Grey-green skin, with overlarge heads and features misshapen like they’d been pummeled thirteen rounds in the ring. Jaws shoved forward with tusks protruding upwards like ivory knives.

They were every nightmare had by every little boy made flesh.

They carried swords and axes and bows like they stepped out of a medieval exhibit. The metal surfaces gleamed in the late-afternoon sun, the glint menace personified as it shone in his eyes.

The bullets of the .45’s weren’t doing enough damage. Jack shouted behind him, “Get me a shotgun!”

Cops fired while several monsters broke into a run and ran at them in a full-frontal assault.

Gun empty, Jack looked around for a weapon. A sword lay on the ground. Not seeing any other options, he picked it up.