Title: The Mission (A Bulwark Anthology Book 10)
Author: C.C. Bolick
Genre: Paranormal/Ghost Suspense
As an Air Force pilot recruited for a secret government agency, Amber Dallas is prepared for dangerous missions. People with powers, threats from space—no problem. What she isn’t prepared for is a mission to the small town of Bulwark.
After the violent attack of two teens, Sheriff Clay Finnes dispels rumors the girls tried to contact an evil spirit. He has no ambition to work with the FBI or anyone else. But Amber grew up in Bulwark. She knows this place is the capitol of strange events and she knows what happened to the girls has happened before.
Twenty years ago, Amber left Bulwark without looking back. To complete her training and reach agent status, she’ll face her worst fear. No one remembers that night except Amber…
Downtown Bulwark was a scene cut from an old movie. On first inspection, one could confuse it with a hundred other rural towns. A wide street made of concrete instead of asphalt carried her past old brick stores and the hospital. Also, the sheriff’s office, where she didn’t stop. This place looked so much like she remembered it gave her shivers. Cars sat along the street next to parking meters that still used coins.
A diner reminded her she’d never eaten breakfast. The sun should be high in the sky by now, but who knew with the fog? Amber wanted to stop, but some invisible force pushed her on.
Until she noticed Old Jericho Road.
It was one of the few places Daddy always told her to avoid. Don’t go down Old Jericho Road, he’d insisted when she rode her bike into town. At the end of this road was an abandoned cotton mill. She thought of the old structure that was once the hub of activity for the town. For years Daddy operated a loom but never drove that way after the mill closed. Teens would ride down there to smoke dope or worse.
Up ahead, a pool of water took up both lanes of the road and stretched for two car-lengths. This wasn’t runoff from the storm. She slowed the SUV to a crawl about twenty feet from the water.
She parked to one side of the road and pulled on a black ball cap with the letters FBI. Her cover story was locked and loaded. She slid her gun into the holster within her suit jacket. With a deep breath, she climbed out of the SUV.
The first thing she noticed was the smell of decaying flesh. The second was the lack of sound. No engine noises, no calls from birds, and no more thunder. Still, the sky seemed ready to blast her at any moment.
Amber walked to the water. The surface was calm as glass with a green hue. A foot deep, maybe two. Depth was hard to tell with so many pits in the road. She inched the toes of her black boots closer. Her reflection stared back. No one could consider this green sludge water, more like sewage.
She’d seen this sludge before. A gloomy night flashed before her eyes. Lightning split the sky like a raging fire. The green goo surrounded her, called to her…
After twenty years of fighting the memories, a warm sensation flooded her. No need to worry about this mission or ever leaving Bulwark again. No one at the agency would care if she didn’t return. She moved closer, sliding the tip of her boot forward until it almost touched—
“I wouldn’t do that.”
Amber snapped out of the trance and stumbled back from the sludge. A man dressed in a uniform stood next to her SUV. A gun hung in the holster at his hip. Even from this distance, Amber knew the man stood almost a foot taller than her. He was built solid with wide shoulders and large hands, one of them close to the gun.
Could this be the sheriff? A truck with Bulwark’s emblem on the driver’s door sat on the road behind the SUV. “Who are you?”
He approached where she stood at the edge of the water, taking his time as he walked. “Sheriff Clay Finnes. I could ask you the same question, but I’ve got an idea of how you’d respond.” The sheriff tipped his wide-brimmed hat and glanced at her badge. “Standing too close to the shores of Lake Bulwark is dangerous. Good thing you’re no tourist.”
“That’s what some of our residents nicknamed this heinous body of water. Comes and goes as it pleases. Was gone for several months and then two nights ago—”
“It reappeared,” she said.
“I assume you’re the agent come to investigate what happened to those girls.”
“Amber Dallas. Agent Dallas.” He didn’t have to know the title wasn’t official yet.
“I hear you might have roots here.”
She glanced behind her and took a few more steps away from the green sludge. “I left this town twenty years ago.” Short, simple. Maybe he wouldn’t push for more details this soon.
“I remember you, all right. You were the weird one who liked to wear all black and talk about magic.”
Was that how everyone remembered her? “That wasn’t me. Marie was the one who thought it would be cool to learn magic. She bought books and pretended to practice spells from movies we watched, but I never believed in that stuff.”
“The two of you were close,” he said.
“Marie was all I had. She looked after me.”
“When your agency told me the name of the agent they were sending, I wondered if it could be the daughter of Farmer Dallas.”
Amber cringed. Why did this sheriff have to know anything about her? “I’m not my father.”
“No, you’re prettier.” His tone softened. “Have you been by the property?”
“I saw what was left of the house. Burned to the ground six years ago during a lightning storm.”
He bristled at her matter-of-fact tone. “Hope you weren’t planning a trip down memory lane.”
“Nothing of the sort.”
“If you didn’t come to visit the past, what made you leave your desk and drive down here?”
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
The Mission is a fast-paced ghost story with an agent-in-training from The Fear Chronicles set in the creepy town of Bulwark. A Bulwark Anthology features reoccurring characters who face strange events in this small southern town.
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 32 books featured in the Scary Reads for Halloween Event:
Runs October 27 – 31, 2020.
Winner will be drawn on November 3, 2020.
C.C. Bolick grew up in south Alabama, where she’s happy to still reside. She’s an engineer by day and a writer by night—too bad she could never do one without the other.
Camping, fishing… she loves the outdoors and the warm Alabama weather. For years she thought up stories to write and finally started putting them on paper back in 2006. If you hear her talking with no one to answer, don’t think she’s crazy. Since talking through her stories works best, a library is her worst place to write… even though it’s her favorite!
C.C. loves to mix sci-fi and paranormal—throw in a little romance and adventure and you’ve got her kind of story. She’s written a dozen books including the Leftover Girl series, The Agency series, and The Fear Chronicles.
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