Fiction extract: Death Night by Todd Ritter

Monday, June 22nd 2015

Death Night

Then the sirens started, so distant and muffled that Kat at first thought they were just another part of the dream. But they continued, even after Henry, the table and the paper all vanished. That’s when she knew they were real.

Kat listened without opening her eyes. Although they were far away, she could tell the sirens belonged to the fire department and not her police force. The ones on the firetrucks were louder and deeper — the baritones to her patrol cars’ tenor.

Sliding out of bed, she went to the window and saw the reason for the sirens — a fire, glowing orange and eerie in the distance. She couldn’t tell how large it was or pinpoint its exact location. All she knew was that she needed to be there, no matter how much she wanted to crawl back into bed. Pausing only long enough to yawn, she started to put on her uniform a mere hour and a half after taking it off.

She was mostly dressed by the time her phone rang. As expected, it was Carl Bauersox, her deputy, sounding much more energetic than she did. Working the night shift, he was used to being alert at this hour. Kat was not.

“We’ve got a fire, Chief.”

“I know,” Kat said. “I hear the sirens. What’s burning?”

“The museum.”

He was referring to the Perry Hollow Historical Society and Exhibition Hall, a collection of documents, artifacts and photographs that dated back to the town’s founding and beyond. Because of its unwieldy name, and because most of the town’s history resided within its walls, people simply called it the museum.

“Is it bad?”

“Looks like it,” Carl said. “It’s a big draw, too. We’re going to have a crowd control problem on our hands in a minute.”

This didn’t surprise Kat. Fires weren’t common in Perry Hollow, and she was sure a good portion of the town would come out to gawk. They certainly couldn’t sleep. Not with all those sirens echoing down the streets.

“Hold them off as best you can. I’ll be there soon.”

When she was finally on the road, her own sirens blaring, Kat noticed that the fire was visible from all over town. Even from six blocks away, she could see the licks of flame flashing over the rooftops of neighboring buildings. A thick column of black smoke, rising straight up into the night sky, punctuated the blaze like an exclamation point.

Crossing Main Street, she noticed plenty of residents staggering along the sidewalk in tossed-on sweatpants, sneakers and robes. All of them were headed in the same direction she was, drawn moth-like to the flames. Crowd control problem indeed.

She brought her Crown Vic to a stop a block away from the museum, parking sideways in the middle of the street. It wasn’t much of a roadblock, but it would be enough to keep any cars from trying to come through. Plus, it was easy to move out of the way to let in firetrucks from neighboring towns, if it came to that.

Kat hoped it wouldn’t.

Then the sirens started, so distant and muffled that Kat at first thought they were just another part of the dream. But they continued, even after Henry, the table and the paper all vanished. That’s when she knew they were real.

Kat listened without opening her eyes. Although they were far away, she could tell the sirens belonged to the fire department and not her police force. The ones on the firetrucks were louder and deeper — the baritones to her patrol cars’ tenor.

Sliding out of bed, she went to the window and saw the reason for the sirens — a fire, glowing orange and eerie in the distance. She couldn’t tell how large it was or pinpoint its exact location. All she knew was that she needed to be there, no matter how much she wanted to crawl back into bed. Pausing only long enough to yawn, she started to put on her uniform a mere hour and a half after taking it off.

She was mostly dressed by the time her phone rang. As expected, it was Carl Bauersox, her deputy, sounding much more energetic than she did. Working the night shift, he was used to being alert at this hour. Kat was not.

“We’ve got a fire, Chief.”

“I know,” Kat said. “I hear the sirens. What’s burning?”

“The museum.”

He was referring to the Perry Hollow Historical Society and Exhibition Hall, a collection of documents, artifacts and photographs that dated back to the town’s founding and beyond. Because of its unwieldy name, and because most of the town’s history resided within its walls, people simply called it the museum.

“Is it bad?”

“Looks like it,” Carl said. “It’s a big draw, too. We’re going to have a crowd control problem on our hands in a minute.”

This didn’t surprise Kat. Fires weren’t common in Perry Hollow, and she was sure a good portion of the town would come out to gawk. They certainly couldn’t sleep. Not with all those sirens echoing down the streets.

“Hold them off as best you can. I’ll be there soon.”

When she was finally on the road, her own sirens blaring, Kat noticed that the fire was visible from all over town. Even from six blocks away, she could see the licks of flame flashing over the rooftops of neighboring buildings. A thick column of black smoke, rising straight up into the night sky, punctuated the blaze like an exclamation point.

Crossing Main Street, she noticed plenty of residents staggering along the sidewalk in tossed-on sweatpants, sneakers and robes. All of them were headed in the same direction she was, drawn moth-like to the flames. Crowd control problem indeed.

She brought her Crown Vic to a stop a block away from the museum, parking sideways in the middle of the street. It wasn’t much of a roadblock, but it would be enough to keep any cars from trying to come through. Plus, it was easy to move out of the way to let in firetrucks from neighboring towns, if it came to that.

Kat hoped it wouldn’t.

ToddRitter

And you can pre-order Death Night (published by Avon) due out on 25th June from amazon right HERE.

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