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Abby Normal (The Abby Normal Series Book 1) an Urban Fantasy, Horror by Samuel Thomas Fraser

Abby Normal 
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 unlit.
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.
Jesus. Eleven 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 bullshit.
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 here yet?”
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 irony.
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 of us.”
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 short.”
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 strip-of-piss island.
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.


“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 their hands.
“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 twice.”
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 eyes.
“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 mumbled.
“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 kindergarten.”
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 thing.”
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 the toilet.
“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 back wall.
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 first.
“It’s just a story, Sammy,” she said as she picked up the flashlight.
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... seat...?
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 have dreamed.
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.
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.
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 name?
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 murder.
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. 

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