Taste of future book

some unreleased content for my loyal followers. Enjoy!

The Cranes of Saint St.
by Dan Pagano
It stormed the night Rose Crane was taken. In the middle of the night all is still and Mr. Obadiah Crane has just drifted off to sleep. It has been a difficult delivery and at this point all the Cranes can do is wait. Mrs. Violet Crane’s eyes flutter open and she can just make out the hazy shapes of figures creeping into her room. She starts awake, sitting up and in a blink the shapes vanish before her blurry eyes. So Violet rubs her eyes and has a long look around, her mind now awake and alert. She fears for her unborn baby, her first and like every mother she is protective. ‘It must’ve been my imagination’ she decides and lays her head back down.
Then something moves again, but this time a large hand clamps tightly down over her mouth. The skin of the hand is smooth and gray, like riverstone and the fingers are long and spindly with bulges at the knuckles. Violet looks up at her assailant when she notices another standing directly in front of her at the end of her hospital bed. The creature’s head, for it is a creature and not a person, is long and thin, a kind of rounded off oval shape. She looks into its eyes, those eyes! In them she sees the dancing light of a thousand dead stars, and worlds never glimpsed by human eyes. She sees a field of impossible flatness and a perfect horizon beyond it.
Violet crouches beside a small brook to get a drink. The water sparkles with the light of the red sun overhead and she becomes intensely aware of the strangeness of her surroundings. ‘I am not at home. This is not Earth, so I must be dreaming! No…my baby!’
She starts awake. It is morning now and her baby is gone. Her womb, which had been so full of life and promise, is empty. Violet Crane wails pitifully and her exhausted husband starts awake. Obadiah Crane rushes to her side. “What happened? What’s wrong?”
“My baby! Our baby! The grays took her! I was falling asleep, she had just settled down and I was going to get some rest when I saw them! They were creeping across my room when they grabbed me! One of them hypnotized me or something and I started dreaming. By the time I realized what was happening it was too late! They took her Obie, they took her!”
The doctor made his examination of her and sure enough the baby was gone. Violet was inconsolable and Mr. Crane was confused beyond words. The official explanation was stillborn but the fact remained that his daughter was gone. The doctor conveyed her condolences and the only thing that remained was to go home.
The house was empty after that, after all their plans for a baby, their first child. Her room had been covered with pink wallpaper with baloons on it. And inside her crib, her toys and by the bedside her changing table and stacks of unused, now useless diapers. The despair was palpable. But Obadiah still had his professorship down at Harvard, where he taught anthropology. He was currently in the middle of his first book, a volume about ancient Mesopatamia which his publisher was eagerly awaiting. The book had been put on hold so he could witness the birth of his daughter, but that was gone now, all gone.
His wife Violet had begun to pull away from him. She remained insistent that these grays, aliens had taken their child, taken Rose! Mr. Crane dismissed this as ludicrous, the ramblings of a bereaved mother. He was after all a man of learning and such an assertion was impossible, absurd!
She stopped doing anything for awhile after, sinking into a deep depression. It was another full year before she picked herself up, dusted herself off and began looking for work. That was four years ago today and after an exhaustive search of the surrounding area she settled on opening her own tarot reading business. It truly amazed Mr. Crane the amount of people willing to throw away their money on this nonsense, but he was grateful his wife had found her niche, so he left it at that.
Present day
Mrs. Violet Crane takes her last reading in at about 5 in the evening. She is anxious to finish with the task as she is eager to meet her husband at the airport when he returns from his business trip. (He is on a dig site in old Mesopatamia, present day Iraq, doing field research for his next book. Mr. Crane has become the world’s prominent authority on ancient religions and civilizations and his books are selling like hotcakes.)
She shows the woman to the table where she does her readings and she politely takes her seat. There is a meekness to this woman, a fear which radiates from her. She is quiet and painfully shy, but Violet can sense deep trouble and pain in her.
The woman is plainly dressed and in her early twenties by the look of her. Her long brown hair is neatly pulled up into a bun and kept on top of her head. She does not wear makeup, which is strange for a girl her age. And she wears a pendant with a seal of protection against the evil eye. This fact alone tells Violet she is a witch or attached to a coven, as she herself once was when she met her husband.
Violet draws her breath in, feeling at once the cold touch of the past returning. “My name is Sabrina Gardner” the client begins. “And I have come to you in desperate straits, as I have nowhere else to turn.” Sabrina fidgets with her hands nervously as her eyes dart from side to side. She has the look of someone shellshocked. But she continues.
“About a year ago my boyfriend at the time and I moved in together over in Saugus. It was an old place and we were excited since it was our first place together. So in the first week there we started decorating, you know fixing the place up a little. And it wasn’t long until the activity started.
“First came the knocking at night, sometimes on the walls and sometimes on the ceilings. Then we would hear the sound of feet running across our roof at night, so Mark would go out through the skylight to look but there was no one there. We thought little to nothing of this, but the more we ignored it, the worse the activity got. The next few days chairs started to move on their own, cabinet doors were left open and doors would slam with no one near them. The final straw was the disembodied voice in the night. It said May the dead rise and smell the incense. It was unsettling to me, but Mark had clearly had enough. He ran down the stairs, jumped in his car in the middle of the night and raced off alone. I never saw him after that. I think it was the fear that kept him away” she admits through teary eyes. “Some people just can’t handle the truth: that there is another world all around us, a spiritual world filled with ghosts, demons and angels. This world is beyond our comprehension, though we catch glimpses of it from time to time.”
“I don’t understand” Violet replies. “You seem so at peace with all of this. And I can tell you are a sister of the second path, so why have you come to me?”
“There is more. Shortly after Mark left I learned I was pregnant. So I quit going to school and got a full time job waiting tables. My tips helped me pay my bills but in the next couple of months the activity not only increased, it got sinister.
“I started having these vivid dreams where these tall men, shadow men really, with featureless faces and shifting forms. I would dream that these beings were observing, watching me and using their strange devices to take measurements and perform tests. I began to believe these dreams were real, but I was reluctant to tell the others of my coven about them.”