Title: The Prophet
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Urban Fiction/Apocalyptic Fiction
Editor: Tia Silverthorne Bach with INDIE Books Gone Wild
Publication Date: December 3rd, 2018
The Prophet: https://amzn.to/2PdZuMn
Jo Michaels is…
Hi, I’m Jo. Let’s forget all the “Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah” stuff and just go with it. I’m a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.
I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I’m married to. Along with my children, he’s my whole world.
I’ve lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I’ve had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I’ve written about in Yassa.
One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I’d love to hear from you.
The Prophet: https://amzn.to/2PdZuMn
Chapter One ~ Death
Bronya lifted a hand. “Shhhh, I hear something.” Turning her head to the side so she could pay attention to the noises reaching her ears, she noticed Shelia crouching and staring straight ahead. Soft sobbing sounds were coming from inside the car parked across the street. Bronya’s eyes followed the line of Shelia’s gaze and fell on two figures, both male.
“I see you,” whispered Shelia. Before she could be stopped, she took off like a flash and ran straight for the men.
Cursing, Bronya followed; already igniting the power in her hand. Red sparks flew as she knocked the figures aside so Shelia could get to the car. Another red flash and the door flew off the hinges, revealing a third form huddling inside.
At once, the woman scrambled out of the car and fell to the asphalt.
Shelia stopped running and took a defensive posture, creeping slowly toward the mass of hair and limbs tangled on the ground.
Bronya could hear soft words being spoken. “It’s okay. We’re here to help.”
A shrill scream pierced the night air, and both girls put their hands over their ears to shut it out. Then, everything went quiet. It seemed the city hushed to listen to the momentary scream of the woman now lying silent and prone on the road.
“Shit!” Shelia ran forward and put her fingers to the young woman’s neck. “Call an ambulance! No pulse! We’re too damned late!”
“Hello? Operator? I need an ambulance!” Bronya rattled off the names of the cross-streets and approached the girl at the operator’s request. “Yeah, she has no pulse. There’s blood everywhere.”
Footfalls echoing in the distance signaled the retreat of the two men. Everything was quiet except Shelia’s heavy breathing.
She was frantically doing CPR, via instructions yelled out by Bronya, as the whining siren of an ambulance shattered the new quiet. Tires squealing, the vehicle pulled up and two EMTs leapt out, equipment in hand. Bronya clicked her phone off, pulled Shelia back, and stood nearby, watching.
After working furiously over the girl for a number of minutes, the medics lifted her onto a stretcher and everyone climbed into the ambulance. The two girls shrank back against the walls, trying to stay out of the way.
Dark hair, matted with blood, fell around the pillow and framed the girl’s face. She had a nasty bruise below her left eye and red welts here and there on her arms. But there was still no clue as to where the blood was coming from. Bronya scratched her head and chewed the inside of her cheek while her eyes roamed over the mess in front of her. One of the medics was suddenly in her face. “Do you know who did this?” he asked.
Bronya and Shelia both shook their heads.
His voice dropped to a low growl. “Are you the girls that called nine-one-one?”
Taking point, Bronya lifted her hand into the air. “I did that. We found her this way. There were two men, but they ran off when we got here.”
“Two men? Can you describe them?”
“No. It was too dark. I only saw silhouettes and figured they were men because of the way they were standing. You know, leaned to one side, hands in pockets, kinda puffed up like they were big, bad dudes.”
“Do you know this young woman?” He gestured to the girl.
“No.” Bronya shook her head. “We were just walking by and heard crying coming from the car. When we checked it out, we found her and called you guys.” She knew damned good and well who the girl was, but explaining how they knew where she was going to be would take too long and raise too many eyebrows. Playing dumb seemed the best option.
Coralie smiled. She’d been friends with Regina for years. Another search and the name of the understudy for the part of Elphaba made Coralie groan. Fawne Holt! Why did it have to be her? Their long-standing rivalry was just going to get in the way and cause tension on stage.
A split-second decision was made to speak with the director about choosing a new understudy. Coralie headed off to see if he was in his office.
She walked up the stairs, knocked on his door, and waited. Just as she was turning to leave, the door flew open and a young-looking man with hair standing on end, a loose tie, rumpled clothing, and no shoes was suddenly staring at her. All ability to speak was stolen as she looked at him. This guy is the director?
“Well?” He held his hands out to the sides.
“Um, I seem to have caught you at a bad time. I’ll come back later.” Again, she turned to go.
She spun back around to find him scratching his head.
“Oh!” His face lit up. “You mean the way I look!”
Coralie nodded and gave a nervous giggle.
“No, no, this is the way I always look. I sleep here most nights when a production is in the works.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Well, come on in! I’m sure you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to talk to me.”
Stepping through the door, she was overwhelmed by the mess in front of her. Clothes were strewn all over the furniture, empty pizza boxes covered the tops of tables, and paper was scattered everywhere.
“Sorry about the mess.”
“No problem,” she lied.
He stuck out a hand. “Trenton Harris, nice to meet you.”
“Coralie Meyers. You, too.” She wiped her hand on her jeans when he released it.
“Ah, one of my leading ladies! Here, have a seat!” He tossed a jacket and pair of shorts off the couch into a pile on the floor.
Carefully, she lowered herself to the edge of the cushion and perched there. He plopped down on the chair across from her and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped. “Now, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?”
“It’s my understudy…” She trailed off, not sure if she should even mention it.
“What about her?”
“Well, it’s just that… See, she and I have had…”
“You don’t like each other; right?”
“Yeah.” It was a lame excuse and she knew it. Trying to recover, she added, “I’m just afraid it’s gonna cause unneeded tension on stage.”
Nodding like he agreed, he asked, “And you’re playing the part of Elphaba, right?”
“I have to tell you, I don’t usually make changes once the cast has been chosen.”
“Mr. Harris, I completely understand where you’re coming from, but—”
He lifted a hand. “Changing a casting after it’s been posted is like cutting off and re-attaching a limb. It’s painful.”
“I understand. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
Shifting in his seat, he narrowed his eyes at her. “If I accommodated your request, I’d have to do things for other people, too. It’s better to not set any kind of expectation. But I thank you for the warning that things may get difficult.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry I bothered you.” She stood up to leave.
Trenton rose with her and opened the door. “You didn’t bother me. I want you to feel comfortable coming to me with anything, okay?”
“Okay. Thanks.” Halfway down the stairs, she heard the door close. “Fat lot of good it did me. Now I just look like a damned diva,” she muttered.