Looking for New Releases? Cover Reveals? The latest Book News? How about Author Giveaways and Promotions?
Want to find it all in one place?
Travel with me as I journey through
A Wonderful World of Words - Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance and so much more.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Search This Blog
Abby Normal (The Abby Normal Series Book 1) an Urban Fantasy, Horror by Samuel Thomas Fraser
The Abby Normal Series Book 1
by Samuel Thomas Fraser
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror
Abby Henderson has lived her whole life under a dark cloud. When she was born, a demon called the Deacon claimed her family as his property. When she turned 13, she was traumatized by an ominous psychic vision. When she turned 14, her dad had a psychotic breakdown and tried to kill her.
She’s just turned 25, and now people are dying all around her.
This is all according to the Deacon’s plan. He believes that Abby is the key to a ritual that will unleash an ancient evil on the world, and he will stop at nothing to make sure that ritual succeeds.
Now, Abby is in the fight of her life against an enemy that defies all reason. Together with her pious girlfriend, her magic-slinging ex-teacher, and a hotheaded Amazon with a machete, Abby will have to use every trick in the book to outlast the Deacon. Because if she can’t, her next birthday is going to be Hell.
Another match failed, and Don’s cigarette remained stubbornly
He cursed, insinuating that the match had had improper carnal
knowledge of a family member. He threw a hard look at the matchbook, trying to
intimidate it into cooperating with him. He promised the matchbook that this
really was his last cigarette, honestly, and wasn’t a man’s last cigarette more
than enough reason to give him a light?
And it was going to be his last one, too. For real this time. He
had sworn to Karen he would quit when the baby arrived, and he’d already cut
down to only two or three smokes a week.
But. But, but, but. He had said “when the baby arrives” and not a split second before.
And Karen had been in labour nearly eleven hours now.
hours in the worst storm to come up the coast of BC in 15 years. Don had heard
of natural births before, but this was fucking ridiculous.
They’d all told him it had to be this way, Karen included.
Something about ley lines and chaotic energies and ancient traditions.
Something about imbalance in the mystic equilibrium, which would alter the
electric potential in the atmosphere and wreak havoc on the complex mechanical
systems in a hospital.
In Don’s opinion, the whole thing had a pretty pungent odour of
He finally got his cigarette lit and took a walk around the beach.
The island was a half-mile of rock and trees, with one log cabin stuck in the
middle of a clearing on the nearby hill. It was what Don’s father-in-law would
have called ‘a real strip-of-piss’. As lightning struck the next island over,
Don told himself there wasn’t anything to worry about. Really, there wasn’t.
That 200 pounds of rugby muscle wasn’t just for looks: he knew how to handle
himself in a fight. So did Karen, if it came to it.
Not to mention the retinue of freaks, said a voice in his head. Then, Holy shit,
there’s a Word of the Day for you.
“Lovely night for it, eh?”
Don turned and saw a man approaching him from the cabin. Enter
Freak Number One, said the voice.
The man shouted at Don over the howl of the wind, and his long
Inverness coat billowed behind him. “I said, ‘lovely night for it, eh?’”
Don didn’t answer as the man in the Inverness coat drew close to
him. He was shorter than Don’s six-three, and much thinner, with goofy
oversized ears and a square chin, but there was something about him—some
presence in his bright green eyes—that was naturally, effortlessly commanding.
One of the green eyes winked, and the man in the Inverness coat
whispered, “Oh, to be in Canada now that autumn’s here.” He spoke with a soft
English accent and a cheeky, joking note in his voice.
Don wasn’t in much of a joking mood, and he looked straight past
the Englishman to the log cabin. “How is everything in there? I mean… is she
The Englishman shook his head. “Not quite yet, but I’d say she’s
very near, going by the state of things.” He glanced at the sky as he said
this, as if the ‘things’ in question would suddenly blow down from one of the
dark clouds above.
Don turned back toward the water, and the Englishman closed his
eyes like he was meditating. It was several minutes before the Englishman
gripped Don’s shoulder and whispered, “She’s here.” As the wind died away, Don
heard an infant crying in the distance. He threw his cigarette into the waves
and charged toward the cabin, excited and terrified in equal measures. He could
hear the calm, measured footsteps of the Englishman jogging after him.
Inside the cabin, Karen Henderson was lying on a creaky twin bed
in one corner, trying to soothe what looked like a very noisy pile of old
dishrags. She was a small, round-faced woman, like a child’s doll come to life.
Not at all, then, like the two women flanking the bed, who could both have
passed for angry villagers in a Universal monster movie.
The woman on the right was a tall, muscular Haitian with a lot of
dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. Natalie Arnaud wore a bulky, dirty trench
coat over an equally dirty tank top, khaki pants, and heavy steel-toed boots.
The whole ensemble suggested that she’d been working nights in either a
munitions factory or a slaughterhouse.
The woman on the left looked like an older version of Karen. Stout
of frame and straight of back, ‘Grandma’ Meg McAllister had a glass of single
malt scotch in her hand. It was not her first one of the night.
Don stood with his back to the door for a moment, staring at the
squirming, noisy bundle in Karen’s hands, until the Englishman gave him a
nudge. “I think some introductions are in order, Donald.”
Karen looked up and nodded, beckoning Don over to her. As he
approached the bed, she glanced at the Englishman and said, “You too, Simon.”
The two men huddled around the bedside as Karen gave the child a gentle pat on
the back and said, “Don… say hi to your daughter.”
Grandma Meg put down her Scotch and gently placed the child in
Don’s arms. His whole body froze as the baby’s weight settled against him, and
he imagined that the slightest tremor would offend her. Only his mouth moved as
he whispered, “She’s gorgeous…”
This was, of course, a clever lie. She was a newborn baby, and all
newborn babies look like flesh-shaped balloons filled with prune juice and
raspberry jam, but as far as Don was willing to admit, the child was perfect.
“So, what do we call her?” Simon asked. “Only I feel like ‘Small
Human-in-Progress’ is a tad wordy.”
Karen smiled and shook her head. “We call her ‘Abigail’.”
Grandma Meg nodded and took a sip of her scotch. “Aye,” she said,
in a broad Yorkshire accent, “Abigail Margaret ‘enderson.” Then she smirked and
added, “My suggestion, of course.”
Don nodded and rocked the child in his arms. “Abigail. Abby, for
short.” He leaned in close to his daughter and whispered, “Do you like that? Do
you like ‘Abby’?”
Abby made a gurgling noise of assent and reached for Don’s nose
with a fat, sausagey arm. As her eyes opened and she took a first look at the
room around her, the party went quiet and just watched her, forgetting that
there was a world beyond their log cabin.
So it came as a huge shock when somebody knocked on the door.
Knock-knock-knock. For a second, nobody moved. Then Natalie pushed aside her trench
coat, letting her hand rest over the hilt of the long machete she had strapped
to her leg.
Knock-knock-knock. Grandma Meg reached for the Webley revolver she’d holstered at her
hip and thumbed the hammer nervously.
Knock-knock-knock. Simon closed his eyes and nodded once. “It’s him.”
The door crashed against the wall as a rush of freezing wind
howled through the cabin. Don held Abby close to his chest and turned his back
to the chill, while Natalie and Grandma Meg trained their weapons on the figure
in the doorway.
The newcomer was not quite a man, nor was it quite a monster. It
was human in shape, but it was cloaked in a set of white floor-length robes,
with gold at the sleeves and collar, and a purple hood that hid its eyes.
The thing in the robes glided into the cabin, hands folded in front
of it, heedless of the venomous looks it received. Behind it, the door slammed
shut and locked itself. The thing whispered, “The weather is… pleasant, is
it not?” Its voice was like the crunch of dead leaves underfoot, and the
way the corners of its mouth twitched upward suggested that it was attempting
Natalie stepped forward and touched the point of her blade to the
creature’s throat. “What the hell do you want, you son of a bitch?”
The robed figure raised its hands submissively. “Such language,”
it wheezed, “and in the presence of a child…”
Natalie leaned in and pressed the blade harder. The robed figure
winced as the tip of the blade bit into its neck, and a thin track of blood
seeped into the collar of its robes. “I’m warning you, Deacon,” she hissed.
The Deacon flicked one of his raised hands and the machete sank to
the floor like a lead weight, taking Natalie with it. He moved his hand again,
and the weapon leaped out of Natalie’s grip and flew toward Grandma Meg. The
Deacon made a fist and the machete screeched to a halt, its tip inches from
Grandma Meg’s heart.
“Do not test me, woman,” the Deacon hissed at Natalie. “I do not come here to quarrel
with any of you. But, if I am met in the spirit of war, I will take steps to…
defend myself!” He opened his fist, and the machete jumped forward another
inch. Grandma Meg retreated back against the wall.
Simon raised his hands. “All right! Everyone just take a deep
breath. This is not a fight we wish to have.” Then, pointedly, to Natalie, “Any
With a curt nod to Simon, Natalie backed away from the Deacon and
raised her hands. Behind her, Grandma Meg dropped the Webley and kicked it
across the floor. The Deacon flicked his hand again, and the machete veered
right, sinking into the far wall.
“Cooler heads prevail…” the Deacon whispered, glancing at Simon. “And the wisdom of the
ages shines bright.” He turned and glided toward Don, extending a hand.
Abby whined and kicked as the Deacon’s slender fingers brushed against her
swaddling clothes. “Please. I wish to consider my… investment.”
Don shook his head. He didn’t realize it, but every muscle in his
body was vibrating with fear and fury. “She’s a baby…” he whispered. “She’s
just a baby…”
The Deacon’s thin lips stretched into a grin. His teeth were like
piano keys: shining white and perfectly straight. “Soon,” he vowed, “she
will be much, MUCH more.”
Before Don could respond, the Deacon tore Abby from her father’s
arms and rearranged her swaddling clothes, smiling the whole time. Don looked
back at Karen, who was struggling to rise from the bed. But the labour had left
her exhausted, and she sank back into the pillows.
The Deacon bowed his head over Abby and opened his mouth. Don and
Karen both gagged as the Deacon pressed his tongue to Abby’s pink flesh, right
over her heart, then tracked it up her chest, her throat, all the way to the
top of her head. Abby began to sob and Don’s hand curled into a tight fist. But
he dared not move. Not against the being that had saved his life.
When the Deacon was finished, he licked his lips and hissed, “I
can taste it on her already. I can feel the energy crackling and burning within
her. She will have great power before long…” The Deacon passed Abby back to
her father, and he tried to calm her down. “You see? I have no ill
intentions toward you, Hendersons.” He bowed low in an exaggerated gesture
of mock-respect. “I will, of course, honour our arrangement, so long as you
do me the same courtesy.” He straightened up again and pointed a thin, bony
finger toward the wall behind Karen. “Use your time wisely, for it is
Scritch-scratch-scritch. Wood chips sprinkled onto the bedspread as an invisible knife
carved a number into the wall, right above Karen’s head. “Render unto
Caesar,” the Deacon rasped, “that which is Caesar’s… and render unto
God…” He pointed at Abby and loosed a short, devious laugh. “The things
that are… God’s…”
Nobody heard him. They were too fixated on the number above
Karen’s head, which glowed bright red like a fireplace ember. In the howling
storm outside, a bolt of lightning struck the shore opposite the tiny
The following thunderclap made Abby cry again and snapped everyone
back to reality. Don looked back and saw the Deacon had vanished. The door of
the cabin was still locked tight, and the only sign that he had ever been there
was the mark carved into the wall.
THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
“Abby? It’s time to go. Abby? I say, Abby?”
Abby Henderson felt a hand jostling her shoulder and looked up
from her school planner. She’d been doodling in the margins again and hadn’t
heard the final bell. All the other desks in the classroom were empty, and the
only person left was her English teacher, Mr. Lockhart. “What time is it?” she
asked, setting down her pencil.
“Nearly quarter past three,” Mr. Lockhart replied. “I rather think
it’s time you were getting home.”
Abby craned her neck to look out the door of the classroom. The
hallway was teeming with kids running in every direction, riding that Friday
afternoon high. “Can I have five more minutes?”
Mr. Lockhart followed Abby’s gaze out the door and saw three tall,
athletic girls in green t-shirts, with yellow printing on their chests that
said “FBSS VOLLEYBALL”. A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. Riley Carson,
Jenna Jackson, and Lisa Sheehan. They were speaking in hushed tones, looking in
the direction of Mr. Lockhart’s room every now and again, and laughing behind
“Ah,” he said, and marched toward the door. “I’m glad you asked me
that, Abigail!” he announced, putting on a show for the girls outside. “You
see, I think what Irving intended with ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ was—” He
shut the door fully and turned back to Abby. “That lot giving you trouble
again, are they?”
“‘Again’ suggests they stopped at one point,” she muttered.
Ever since elementary school, Abby had had trouble with bullies.
It was bad enough that she was too shy to ask a stranger for the time of day,
but she wasn’t what you would have called a “traditional beauty” either: she
was thin as a rail no matter what she ate; her frizzy brown hair stuck out
every which way like a startled ficus tree; and a row of shining braces in her
mouth spanned a large gap between her front teeth. Nor were there many girls
her age who took to Sinatra, Stephen King, and The Twilight Zone the
same way she did. The kids in her neighbourhood even had a nickname for her:
Abby Normal. As in, “That girl is very strange.” “Strange? She’s not strange,
she’s Abby Normal!”
But it seemed that all the heckling and the insults had gotten
exponentially worse since Abby had started Grade 8 at Frederick Banting
Secondary School. The trouble had begun early in September. Abby was in a Grade
8/9 split PE class with Riley and Lisa, and one of the first classes of the
semester had been indoor volleyball. Missing two consecutive passes had been
bad. Fumbling her first serve right into the net had been worse. But when Abby
went for an overhead serve and smashed the ball right into Lisa’s face? That
was when she had irreversibly fucked up.
Abby was losing track of how many times she had tried to apologize
in the last month, but every time she met Lisa’s eye, the other girl would just
sneer at her from behind a chipped front tooth and a bent nose.
“You mustn’t be afraid of people like that, Abby,” Mr. Lockhart
said as he crossed to the desk beside her. “There will always be people in this
world who don’t take to you, wherever you go, and at some point, you just have
to let them alone. Filter out their venom and live your life on your terms.” He
pulled out the orange plastic chair and lowered himself into it, a look of
profound discomfort creasing up his face. “Blimey, these things are
uncomfortable. I can see why so many of you little animals don’t sit still.”
Abby giggled behind her hand, and this got Mr. Lockhart giggling.
He always knew how to make her smile.
Abby had known Mr. Lockhart for a few years before she came to
Fred Banting. He was an old friend of Karen’s and he often joined her for a cup
of tea at the Henderson house on the weekend. He always had a silly grin on his
face and a cunning look in his eye, like he was privy to some grand secret that
he wasn’t going to tell you, and his soft English accent made everything he
said sound a lot cleverer than it probably was. Truth to tell, Abby adored Mr.
Lockhart, and he excited her in a way her other teachers didn’t. She rated a
consistent C+ average in all her other classes, but she was one of the top
three English students in her grade. When nobody else was paying attention, Mr.
Lockhart would always smile at Abby and say, “Top of the class, Henderson.”
The chatter outside the classroom died down and Mr. Lockhart went
to the door for another peek. “Looks like they’ve moved on. Best make your
escape while you can.”
Abby got up and grabbed her bag. “You don’t have to tell me
As she left the room, Mr. Lockhart waved her goodbye and told her
to give her parents his best. Abby confirmed that she would, then pulled her
portable CD player from her backpack and slipped on her headphones. Nothing
like a bit of Bob Dylan for that rainy walk home.
She passed two more classrooms and the first-floor girls’ bathroom
before she heard the footsteps behind her. This was joined by some stifled
giggling, and then the world went dark as someone slapped their hands over her
“Guess who?” the someone laughed.
Abby smiled and grabbed the someone’s wrists. “Hello, Kelly,” she
said as she turned around and locked eyes with the fair-haired, freckle-faced
ninth-grader standing behind her.
Kelly Munro pouted. “How did you know?”
Abby laughed. “Who else around here has this many Band-Aids on
their hands?” She turned Kelly’s hands over in hers and inspected them. “Or
this much dirt under their fingernails?”
Kelly snatched her hands away and rubbed them on her pants. “So I
like to roughhouse a bit. Big whoop.”
“I’m serious. Speaking as someone who just had her nose an inch
away from your hands, you need to wash them suckers.”
Kelly rolled her eyes, still smiling. “Fine, Mom. If it’ll shut
you up.” She tugged Abby’s headphones off her head and heard a few chords of
Bob Dylan leak out. “Are you still listening to this garbage?”
Abby snatched her headphones back and stuck out her tongue. “Bob
Dylan is not garbage. And ‘Watchtower’ is one of his best.”
Kelly shook her head. “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the
Hendrix cover blows this version out of the damn water.”
Abby sighed dramatically. “You poor, naïve child. Must you
continue to fight me on this?”
Kelly smiled and marched into the girls’ room. “Pistols at dawn,
butt-munch. And who are you calling ‘child’?”
Abby followed her and said, “What are you doing here anyway? Don’t
you have soccer practice on Fridays?”
“Cancelled ‘cause of the weather,” Kelly grumbled. “It’s pissing
rain today.” She soaped up her hands and looked at Abby’s reflection in the
mirror. “So, what’s the story, Jaws? You decided what you want to do for your
birthday? Thirteen! That’s a big number.”
Now Abby rolled her eyes. About two days after they’d first met,
Kelly had decided that Abby’s new name was “Jaws”, because of the gap between
Abby’s large front teeth. It wasn’t as funny as Kelly thought it was, but it
beat the hell out of “Abby Normal”.
Abby put her CD player back in her bag and said, “I was actually
thinking about a sleepover at my place. We could put sleeping bags out in the
living room, roast marshmallows in the fireplace, tell ghost stories—”
“Sacrifice a rooster and summon Ichthuantl’k’til, Dark God of the Everlasting
Fire?” Kelly suggested. She shut off the water and shook her wet hands in
Abby’s face. “There. All clean.”
Abby laughed and smacked Kelly’s hands away. “You’re kind of a
bitch, you know that?”
“Okay, I’ll shut up. So, who all were you thinking of inviting?
Besides me and my awesome personality?”
Abby shrugged. “I don’t know. Wanda. Lauren. Samantha. You know.”
Kelly nodded. “The usual suspects, huh?”
Abby stifled a smile, slouched, and scrunched up her shoulders.
She adopted her best sleepy-eyed hangdog look, like Benicio del Toro in the
film, and slurred, “Gimme de fuggin keys, you cogsugger, whadafuck.”
Kelly toppled against the sink, shrieking with laughter, which
sent Abby into hysterics as well.
Then the bathroom door opened, and they both stopped laughing. In
walked Lisa, Riley, and Jenna, who circled Abby and Kelly like sharks hungry
for chum. Lisa, the Queen Bee of Fred Banting, crossed her arms and snapped,
“What are you losers laughing at?”
Abby looked at the floor and went very quiet. “N-nothing,” she
“Nothing! Nuh-nuh-nuh-nothing!” Lisa crowed. “Guess all that metal
in your face makes it pretty hard to talk right, doesn’t it, Abby Normal?”
Kelly was about to step up and smack the grin right off Lisa’s
face, so Riley, who was a head taller than Kelly, grabbed her by the shoulders
and held her back. Meanwhile, Jenna moved around to the sink and pumped the
soap dispenser while Abby fumbled for a response.
“Actually, we heard you two from outside,” Lisa continued. “The language
in here! Ugh! You know what they used to do to kids who swore at school?” She
spun Abby around to face Jenna. “They’d wash out their mouths!”
Jenna shoved her hand—and the inch-thick coating of soapy froth
around it—right into Abby’s face. As Abby gagged and coughed bubbles, Kelly
broke away from Riley and ran at Lisa. “What the fuck is your problem, bitch?”
Lisa grabbed Kelly’s wrists and held her off. “Back off, Munro!
There’s plenty of soap in here!” She planted her feet and shoved Kelly to the floor.
With one hand, Abby helped Kelly up. With the other, she scrubbed the soap out
of her own mouth. Meanwhile, Lisa and her coven vacated the bathroom, laughing.
“What a cow,” Kelly muttered. Abby didn’t respond, still spitting
out soapy bubbles, and Kelly noticed that Abby was crying. “Hey, come on,
Jaws—” Abby sniffled and ripped a paper towel out of the machine to wipe her
eyes. “Come on, Abby. Lisa Sheehan’s had her head up her ass since
Abby blew her nose into the paper towel. “I know. But why does it
have to be me all the time? I’ve apologized up and down for the volleyball
Kelly patted her on the shoulder. “I don’t think it’s that
anymore. I think it’s ‘cause you’re smart. And Lisa hates smart.”
Abby sniffed and smiled. “Thanks, Kel. You’re pretty smart too.”
Kelly held up a gold charm bracelet. “Goddamn right I am.”
Abby gasped. “Ohmygod! Is that—did you—”
Kelly spoke for her. “Is that Lisa’s favourite bracelet? And did I
swipe it off her wrist when she pushed me? Yes. Yes, I did.” Without another
word, she walked into the nearest stall and dropped the bracelet straight in
“Oh. My. God. You are bad, Kelly Munro!”
“Especially when people mess with my friends,” Kelly snarled. She
flushed the toilet, shouting at Abby over the rush of water. “So, tell me again
about this sleepover thing?”
“Within minutes,” Kelly whispered grimly, “half the student body
had gathered outside her dorm room to see what the matter was.” She paused and
let her hand fall into the flashlight’s beam, casting a ghastly shadow on the
It was the last Saturday of October, and Abby could not have asked
for a better atmosphere for a spooky birthday/early Halloween sleepover. The
rain was coming down in buckets from a coal-black sky, and the wind was
throwing pine needles and dead leaves at every flat surface for ten blocks. The
fire was crackling, the bag of marshmallows was half-empty, and the five girls
had already polished off three rounds of s’mores. Wanda—supposedly the most
“grown-up” of Kelly and Abby’s friends—was currently building her fourth,
despite Abby’s warnings that she was going to fall into a sugar coma.
“The girl reached up,” Kelly continued, “her hand trembling, and
pointed.” Here, she extended a hand and pointed just above her friend Lauren’s
head. Lauren shuddered and implored Kelly not to do that. “And there, on the
wall above her roommate's body, was a message written in blood: ‘Aren't you
glad you didn't turn on the light?’”
Kelly dropped the flashlight and clapped her hands together. A
terrified shriek rippled through the living room as one of the girls burrowed
into her sleeping bag.
“Jeez, Kelly! Warn us before you do that!”
Kelly smiled. Of course Samantha would have been the one to break
“It’s just a story, Sammy,” she said as she picked up the
Samantha crawled back out of her sleeping bag, her glasses akimbo
and her red hair flying everywhere. “Yeah? Well, I think your ‘story’ made me
pee a little bit.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Kelly thrust the flashlight
toward Abby. “Come on, Jaws. Your turn. Let’s see what Stephen King’s biggest
fan has to say for herself.”
“Cawmf omf, Avvy!” That came from Wanda, whose mouth was full of
s’more. Translation: Come on, Abby!
“It’s your turn!” said Lauren.
Samantha, who had forgotten all about her previous scare, pumped
her fist in the air and chanted, “Sto-ry! Sto-ry! Sto-ry!”
Abby stood and handed the flashlight back to Kelly. “Oh, you’ll
get your story,” she vowed, “but not yet, ‘cause I need to use the bathroom.”
The others moaned and protested like candy had just been outlawed.
Lauren was especially pouty: “You can go after your story!”
Abby shrugged, gave a quick apology, and climbed
the stairs. As she went, she could hear Kelly whispering to the others: “I bet
my story was too scary for her. That’s why she has to go all of a sudden.”
In the years to come, Abby would often think back to this night,
and she would curse herself for not seeing the warning signs.
The first thing she should have noticed, as she walked down the
hall, was the night light right outside the bathroom. As she got near it, it
buzzed and flickered wildly, creating a dizzying orange strobe effect. But Abby
barely noticed; the house was old, and the wiring was less than reliable.
The second thing she should have noticed, as she closed the
bathroom door, was the noise. A low, groaning whisper seemed to come from
behind the walls. It was the same collection of sounds, repeated over and over:
Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Again,
Abby ignored this. The pipes in the house made a lot of weird noises in the
dead of night, and the wind was really howling outside. It was surely just a
breeze blowing around the house that made it sound like whispering.
The third thing she should have noticed, as she sat down, was how
cold it got. The toilet seat felt like it was made of ice, and Abby felt a
shiver run up her entire body. Her teeth chattered and she had to tuck her hands
under her arms for warmth. But still, she put this down to the house. Her
parents had often complained of a distinct draught in this part of the house,
and the heating was completely knackered.
As she flushed and went to wash her hands, Abby assured herself
that the night of ghost stories, bad weather, and spooky TV was simply starting
to play tricks on her. There was nothing lurking in the shadows waiting to grab
her. Besides, she had other things on her mind: she knew a thousand ghost
stories by heart, but she still had to pick one that would scare the hell out
of her friends. Bloody hook on the door handle? Too obvious. Caller
inside the house? Way overdone. Killer... in the... back... car...
Suddenly, the room tilted dangerously. Abby’s legs went numb and
she grabbed the vanity to keep herself from falling. With hands and a head that
were suddenly made of lead, she turned off the water and pulled herself back
up. She tried to yawn but closed her mouth as soon as she opened it. She wanted
to throw up all of a sudden, and opening her mouth would surely break the seal.
Abby looked in the mirror to see if she could see what was wrong.
But what she saw looking back at her was more wrong than anything she could
There was no Abby and no bathroom on the other side of the mirror.
There was instead a large, decrepit hospital room with cracked tiles in pale
white and snotty green. Rusty, leaking pipes snaked up drab concrete pillars to
a ceiling fifty feet high. The walls were covered in rows upon rows of strange
sigils and pictograms like Abby had never seen.
In the center of the room was an obsidian altar measuring twelve
feet by seven. There were no tool marks on its smooth surfaces, and it looked
as though nature itself had constructed it that way.
And then she heard the chanting. It was a low, guttural sound, a
canid growl with a serpentine back beat. And it was the same odd collection of
non-words that she had chalked up to the whispers of the wind not two minutes
ago: “Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi.” The
chanting seemed to come from everywhere at once, but the room was empty.
And then it wasn’t. A horde of weird figures in black robes and
blood-red hoods marched across the mirror, close enough that Abby thought she
could reach out and touch them. Of course, when she tried, all she felt was the
smooth glass. Yet still the figures marched, paying Abby no mind. It was as if
the mirror had ceased to be a mirror, and had become a window into some dark,
unknown dimension beyond time and space.
The image changed, and Abby jumped back. The hooded figures were
standing in a V-formation, facing her. Thin, luminous bands of coloured light
surrounded the figures at the front of the V, and when Abby concentrated on the
lights, she could instantly tell what the hooded figures were thinking. They
were watching her. They wanted her. She couldn’t see their eyes, or much above
their mouths, but one look at those auras and she could feel their eyes boring
into her. They were still chanting that horrible chant in perfect unison, but
lower this time. The words came in a hoarse, whispering chorus. “Kha’al
Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi.”
At the very point of the V, one figure was not chanting. His robes
were not like the rest, either: rather than black, he wore brilliant white,
with gold accents at the collar and sleeves, and a hood of deepest purple. Abby
looked past the figure to his black-and-green aura and her eyes read it like a
barcode. In the image centers of her brain, she saw a large serpent, the size
of a city bus, with the snarling head of an alpha male lion and two gargantuan,
veiny bat-like wings on its back. The aura whispered to Abby that this
lion-snake creature was the white-robed figure, with all his coverings removed,
and that he was in charge. And he was called the Deacon.
Abby didn’t know where these people had come from or why they were
so interested in her. She didn’t know how she instinctively knew so much about
them, things that she didn’t want to know. She just wanted to get out of here.
She backed up, flat against the shower door, and the Deacon started to speak.
Abby decided she’d liked the Deacon better when he was just
staring at her. Every sound he made pierced the air like a gunshot, even though
he barely spoke above a whisper. The words he spoke made no sense to Abby, but
his followers obviously understood perfectly.
“Ko kxx grav ak ra sytqa lach, Kha’ell Ag’haz lekxxo tov godaj-xu.
Ek rataz haec Godaj-pael, ek-eli karnu godaju izot ynhash allac cymhael li
tazhael. Paka ko sidit karnu.”
As the Deacon spoke, the hooded figures stared even more intently
at Abby. Slowly, they began to chant again, but a different chant this time.
“Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx.”
Abby knew she had to get away from here. More than anything she
wanted to run, to scream for help, but her legs were paralyzed and her mouth
refused to make any sound beyond a small, terrified squeak.
The Deacon raised his hand, and the chant grew louder, faster. “Ka
ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx.”
The hooded figures were working themselves into a frenzy, though
they remained stock-still. Their auras intensified, and Abby could see in their
deepest hearts the monsters they really were. Hybrids of humanity and cetacean,
baying hounds with too many eyes, goat-legged monstrosities with tentacles
falling out of their mouths. Every one had a monster in its core, like the
Deacon and his lion-snake, and the monsters were rabidly excited.
“Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx.”
Abby’s heart was pounding. The hooded figures followed the
Deacon’s example and raised their hands, trying to reach for her. The chanting
was still getting louder and faster.
“KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX!”
And then the impossible happened. The glass separating Abby from
this terrifying spectacle dissolved, and the Deacon glided forward like a
phantom. His hand reached out of the mirror.
Abby started to cry. Her heart jackhammered against her breastbone
and the sweat poured off her like a waterfall. A voice inside her head was
screaming, RUN! Open this door and RUN! But she knew she couldn’t. Her
whole body was shaking, and she couldn’t get it under control long enough to
take two steps in any direction.
“KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA
AG’HAZ DUL KXX!”
The voice in her head continued: If you can’t run, then scream.
Cry, yell, bang on the door, just get somebody’s attention! Just do something,
anything, that will help you GET! OUT! OF! HERE!
And then the Deacon spoke again. But this time, Abby understood
what he was saying. “Abigail. Abigail... Henderson...”
He knew her name. Dear God, he knew her name. How did he know her
Suddenly, Abby found her voice again. And she screamed.
Her friends heard her from downstairs, and they all jumped to
their feet as Abby came sprinting out of the bathroom, still screaming blue
She so badly wanted to get away from the Deacon that she
completely forgot about the stairs. When she reached the end of the
second-floor hallway, she turned and took another step, but her foot dropped
into empty space. As her whole body pitched forward, Abby realized her mistake
two seconds too late.
Crash. Bang. Thud.
Smash. Boom. Smack.
Bump. Whack. Thwack.
Crash. Bang. Thud.
Abby’s friends were speechless as they gathered at the bottom of
the stairs, huddling around her limp, pale body. She was covered in scrapes and
reddish bruises and one of her wrists was bent the wrong way around.
Terrified, Kelly bent down to check on her friend and then shouted
upstairs: “MRS. HENDERSON!”
What made you want to be a writer?
When I was 19, I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
That’s a very broad term for a whole host of developmental disorders from low-functioning
autism to Asperger’s syndrome (which is what I have). Day-to-day, having
Asperger’s isn’t as much of a hindrance for me as it is for some people, but
social interaction can be very difficult sometimes.
In conversation, I often fixate on one topic for too long,
and if it’s a topic I’m passionate about, I’ll just start monologuing and I
won’t stop. On the other hand, if I don’t have as much interest in a topic, I
may not say anything for ages, because I’ll feel like I have nothing I can sensibly
contribute. If I do try to contribute, I’ll trip over my words and ramble while
my brain screams at me that I’m not making sense and the best time to shut up
was about fifteen seconds ago. Sometimes I can be too blunt, and because I
can’t pick up on nonverbal cues, I won’t realize it if I offend someone until
they tell me they’re offended.
This is a long way of saying that writing gives me a sense of
control. When I can dictate both sides of a conversation and steer it toward a
conclusion of my choosing, I feel so much more relaxed than if I have to go to
a job interview or (heaven forbid) on a date. As a kid, I was always making up
stories and losing myself in imaginary worlds even at times when I really
shouldn’t have been. I played soccer for a bit when I was about eight or nine,
but when I was on the field, I always spent more time fighting imaginary
pirates or secret agents than I did chasing the ball and paying attention to
the game. When I reflect on that time now, I realize that I was always trying
to escape into a world that was more predictable than my own. There’s a 50%
shot at victory in a soccer game, but in a battle with imaginary pirates, I
would always win. I write because it gives me a clear goal to work toward, and
I always know how the beginning and the middle will beget the end. That’s the
same reason I enjoy acting and building LEGO sets: I always know from the first
page what will happen on the last page. As for real life? Yeah, not so much.
What made you want to write this book?
Abby Normal is what happens when you take a nerdy theatre
kid, stick an English degree in his hands, and pump his brain full of Beowulf,
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and HP Lovecraft. As a result of my education and my
general geekery, I have a very wide range of literary and cultural interests
that don’t always jibe with one another. The writing of Abby Normal was a
process of taking all those interests and stuffing them into one box, then
trying to craft a narrative that would at least make them all look like they
belonged together. In this book, the astute reader may find bits and pieces of
Buffy, The Dresden Files, Doctor Who, BioShock Infinite, Alice in Wonderland,
Alan Wake, and much more besides. Ultimately, I wanted to write a story that
would entertain me, and if that meant ripping off (or as we say in the
business, “paying homage to”) other stories that have entertained me over the
years, that was a price I was willing to pay.
Samuel Thomas Fraser is a writer and actor from the rainy mountains of Vancouver, BC, Canada. A lover of medieval literature and truly weird fiction, Sam holds a BA in English and a Certificate in Creative Writing from Simon Fraser University. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in outlets including The Macabre Museum and Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies Vol. 1. As a performer, he has inhabited such memorable stage roles as Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest and Charlie Cowell in The Music Man. Abby Normal is his first novel.