From the shadows blaze s.., p.1

From The Shadows (Blaze series Book 1), page 1

 

From The Shadows (Blaze series Book 1)
 


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From The Shadows (Blaze series Book 1)


  FROM THE SHADOWS

  David Carter

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2017 David Carter

  Cover design © 2017 by SelfPubBookCovers.com

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  All rights reserved.

  For Diane.

  You’re the best.

  May you always put up with me.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  A huge thank you to my sister, Heather Sleet. Your time and input on this novel will forever be appreciated.

  To my fellow New Zealand indie author, Jo. Meverington; this book would never have seen the light of day without your guidance. You’re a legend!

  Last of all, I would like to thank my editor, Sally Odgers, for her time and endless wisdom (and putting up with all the violence and profanity in my manuscript!)

  I’ll never forgive you for making me re-write this novel from start to finish, but it was totally worth it!

  Visit Sally’s website:

  www.affordablemanuscriptassesssments.com

  Also by David Carter

  Blaze series

  From The Shadows

  Sinners & Scarecrows

  ”Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t

  - you’re right.”

  Henry Ford

  Find David on Facebook: @davidcarterauthor.com

  Prologue

  20th March 1985

  “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”

  “What is it you wish to confess, my child?”

  The woman hesitated. “I fear I will not love the child I carry within me...”

  “Do you not love all of your children?”

  Tears welled in her eyes. “Yes, of course, Father, with all my heart. But this child is somewhat different.”

  “And what causes you to feel this way?”

  “I am too ashamed to say...” She sniffled.

  “We are all sinners before God,” the priest replied. “There is no sin so great he cannot forgive.”

  She wept quietly, then said, “The child I carry within me—” She paused to wipe the tears from her eyes.

  “Go on,” he encouraged her.

  She finally released her burden. “The child I carry within me...is not my husband’s...”

  Chapter 1

  24th December 2016

  “Merry fucking Christmas,” said Blaze as he gazed into the heart of the raging inferno.

  He stood mesmerized by the speed and intensity of the flames as they consumed the cluster of buildings before him, with only one thought on his mind: come and get me, motherfucker.

  He heard sirens blaring from a distance, as the volunteers of the Glendale Fire Service were only moments away. But no part of him considered making a break for it. He was sending a message, and wanted everyone to know he was the one responsible for the havoc inflicted upon the small country town.

  He had finally come full circle. And in this moment of utter madness, he felt an inkling of peace within his soul.

  He’d been running from his demons ever since he was an eight-year-old boy, and now he had returned to his hometown, at thirty-one years of age, with a sack full of chips weighing down his shoulders.

  The prospect of revenge had transformed his mind into a bubbling volcano—slowly building pressure over a vast period of time—waiting for the precise moment to burst and eradicate every living form within its radius after twenty-three years of hate, injustice, and rage had festered to the depths of his core.

  The chorus of sirens was in full bloom as the fire engines arrived on the scene, with the local police only moments behind. Blaze remained motionless, in a trance-like state, ignoring the presence of the authorities while basking in the chaos without remorse or concern. From his distorted view, the destructive scene was a spiritual moment—or at least as spiritual as he was ever going to experience, as he refused to believe in any form of higher beings or powers beyond what the human eye could physically conceive.

  As he savoured his euphoric state, his skin tingled, and shivers pulsed through his body as the fire devoured the once-mighty buildings along with the ghosts of his morbid past.

  At last he lifted his gaze, smirking as the flames danced on the lower echelons of the midnight sky and destroyed the generations of history, memories, and sacred teachings within the char-grilled walls. He took pleasure in the warmth of the blistering heat as it radiated on his ruggedly-handsome face. Then, to monument the moment forever, he ripped off his plain black T-shirt, exposing his chiselled upper body. The gallery of tattoos covering his arms, back, and shoulders was revealed in all its glory, giving anyone who looked on with interest a showcase of outlandish words and images that defined his life’s journey.

  The main feature covering his back was the grotesque image of a skeleton nailed to a cross, engulfed in flames, beneath the words: SINNERS & SCARECROWS.

  He pulled his switchblade from the pocket of his black denim jeans. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose as he craned his neck back in preparation, before wincing with each stroke as he carved into the flesh on his chest. Warm streams of blood oozed from the shallow trenches and trickled over his torso, slowly gathering momentum as they flowed down towards his abdomen, leaving behind a streaky snail trail of masochism in their wake.

  Never before had he felt such pleasure from pain. He had endured more than his fair share over the course of his life, although it had never been self-inflicted. He was performing a ritual, a rite of passage, a cleansing of his soul. The patch of once-blemish-free skin was now a permanent reminder to keep fighting the darkness that shackled his thoughts, dreams, and sleepless nights since boyhood.

  He had etched the word: BLAZE into his skin, as a badge of honour. It symbolised the intensity of the moment. It described the furnace that seared his sanity; it defined his alias.

  His given name was Bobby Blaise, but from the day he ran away from home as an angry, misunderstood eighteen-year-old, he had used his adopted street-name, the first thing he truly loved about himself, and refused to answer to anything else.

  Senior Constable Karl O’Brian and Constable Luke Turner of the Glendale Police Force burst out of their factory-fresh, predominantly white and blue, Holden Commodore, a long-overdue acquisition for their division. They hurdled the waist-high chain-link fence that surrounded the perimeter of the historic site, and sprinted across the summer-brown grass.

  They were wild beyond belief that something of such magnitude was happening on their watch, in their town, in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.

  O’Brian was first to take aim. He pulled his TASER from its holster, and without second-guessing himself, shot Blaze square in the back, piercing him between his shoulder blades.

  Blaze cursed loudly as fifty thousand volts of electricity fried his internal organs, forcing his muscles into violent, involuntary spasms. He resisted with all his strength, remaining on his feet while rapidly breathing through clenched teeth.

  O’Brian stood there, gobsmacked, as Blaze remained in an elevated, conscious state. He was further dumbfounded when the man turned around to face him, and said, “Is that all you got, Pig?”

  Turner reached for his TASER, firing it at Blaze’s chest.

  This second assault shocked the living
shit out of him. He flopped to the grass in a blood-stained mound of insanity. His head hit the ground with a dull thud, and his intense blue eyes rolled up into his skull. He lay inert after the series of aftershocks.

  Turner looked at O’Brian in dismay. “Jesus Christ! He’s the toughest piece of shit I’ve ever seen in all my years in the force! Where the bloody hell did he come from?”

  O’Brian knelt his tall, lanky body down on one knee and cuffed Blaze’s wrists behind his back. “I’m not sure,” he replied. “But you’re not wrong there,” he paused for a moment, staring grimly at the handiwork on Blaze’s chest, “not to mention he’s fucking insane…”

  O’Brian’s ordinarily brown eyes seethed red with anger as he surveyed the damage Blaze had caused, before sighing with relief as Blaze was rendered helpless. He pulled his cell phone from his light-blue shirt pocket and called the Glendale Hospital. When the receptionist picked up, he said, “I know it’s Christmas Eve and virtually everyone’s at home, but I need an ambulance sent over to the boarding school, pronto!”

  He clicked off after assurance it would be dispatched immediately.

  For O’Brian and Turner, it was a drastic change from the usual night-shift routine: Chinese takeaways, copious amounts of coffee, and as much internet-surfing as anyone could desire; Turner spent many hours lifting weights to prefect his muscular physique. Glendale had a relatively low crime rate as befitted a small farming community in the central region of the North Island in New Zealand. Agriculture shows, antique fairs, summer corn festivals, and the famous Glendale Winter Carnival were the only main attractions for the neighbouring towns in the district. It was often said in jest by the locals: ‘If you want to find the middle of nowhere, Glendale is the place to look.’

  Blaze had just burned down St Mary’s Christian Boarding School. He’d attended St Mary’s for his entire education, and loathed the memories of those years with a smouldering passion. There were many reasons he hated the school, but one reason stood out above the rest. There was a dark secret buried deep within the hallways that he had sworn to avenge. It was a secret worth the sacrifice of freedom, or his life if necessary. Either way, he had vowed to exact his revenge before he was done breathing.

  His demonstration of fire and brimstone was only the beginning.

  The ambulance arrived as the fire brigade worked tirelessly to bring the flames under control. Giant clouds of smoke billowed from the windows into the sky, forming a thick, hazy mist against the backdrop of the full moon. The paramedics stabilised Blaze and dressed his wounds, before loading him into the rear of the ambulance.

  O’Brian and Turner went along for the ride, guarding their prized catch. He was driven to the hospital’s triage unit and given a routine examination, before being discharged and taken to the Glendale Police Station where he was locked in one of the cells awaiting his day in court.

  Blaze closed his eyes as he lay back on his bunk. He imagined his future ahead of him: locked away behind cold, steel bars, surrounded by the scum of the Earth – all neatly bundled together in a heartless nest of squalor. His life would be run by rules and regulations that even on his best day, his cavalier attitude towards authority wouldn’t allow him to respect or keep. He grinned at the mere thought, as he knew from the beginning when he set the wheels of his plan in motion, that life behind bars awaited him. It was a harsh reality, but it never deterred him for even the slightest moment.

  Because he didn’t give a shit.

  Chapter 2

  “Has the jury reached a verdict?” asked Judge Matthew Jones.

  “Yes, Your Honour,” replied Sharon King.

  “On the charge of arson in the first degree: how do you find the defendant? Guilty or not guilty?”

  It was ten days since the fire. Sharon prepared herself to deliver the verdict to the Glendale Courtroom.

  She had lived in the backwater town for all thirty years of her life and avoided mandatory jury service up until Blaze’s trial. She had always wrangled her way out of it, as she managed her own bar and grill and didn’t have enough staff to cover any unnecessary absenteeism.

  Her business had started out slowly at first, but over time it had flourished and she’d employed more staff—meaning that on this occasion she had to bite the bullet and serve her community.

  She was nervous; public speaking was not her strong suit. And she was hesitant to be on this particular jury, let alone be the one to drive the final nail into the coffin of the accused. Her heart pounded rapidly as she stood up from her seat among the jurors. All eyes diverted their attention to her petite, desirable body as she tugged at the long-sleeved black cardigan she wore over the top of a white blouse.

  She endeavoured to calm her nerves as she looked around the courtroom. It was one of many original and historical sites in Glendale.

  Judge Jones sat to Sharon’s right at the head of the room; his long, black robe bulged over his gross body.

  The gallery was up a small flight of stairs at the back of the room to Sharon’s left. It was packed-to-the-rafters with staff and students from St Mary’s, all with an eager desire to see justice dealt to the demon that burnt down their house of learning and employment. While she observed the audience, she spotted one of her dearest friends, who also happened to be the only person in the gallery related to Blaze.

  Elizabeth Blaise was in her late fifties, wearing an elegant, avocado-green dress with a fashionably tailored suit jacket. She was a renowned figure in Glendale, and Sharon had known her as a child. In more recent years, a mother-daughter bond had formed as Elizabeth took Sharon under her wing when her parents died in a plane crash. The tragedy occurred on the same week that Sharon had opened her bar and grill, but with Elizabeth’s love and support, she’d pushed through the pain and now ran the most popular eating and drinking establishment in Glendale.

  Sharon scanned the remainder of the courtroom. Its cold, lifeless, concrete walls were painted a horrid tan colour, which she was sure was the original layer of top-coat. It had square, wooden-frame windows set in the walls with frail panes of glass that had withstood the elements of time. The floor was covered in hideous red carpet that over many decades had faded to more of a salmon pink.

  What an appalling setting for someone to spend their last few hours of freedom in, she thought.

  She focused on the man in the hot-seat. Blaze was handcuffed, but he slouched back in his chair as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

  Sharon had never quite understood Blaze. She remembered him as a quiet, withdrawn character with a hot temper at St Mary’s all those years ago. They had never been more than acquaintances, and her boyfriend at St Mary’s constantly picked on him for having no friends. She had tried to persuade him to leave Blaze alone, both from innate kindness and also from fear for her boyfriend’s safety. She had heard the rumours. As it turned out, the rumours were true.

  One afternoon in her penultimate year of high school, she watched on in horror as Blaze put her boyfriend in his place. Blaze had been minding his own business while walking up the stairs to the second-floor in one of the giant blocks of classrooms. He’d heard Sharon’s boyfriend behind him, mouthing-off his usual bullshit and nonsense, but ignored him.

  Her boyfriend decided to up the ante. “Hey, Bobby-boy, what’s it like being the only friendless faggot in school who takes-it-up-the-ass?”

  Blaze took a deep breath and resumed his path towards the top of the stairs—until he heard the idiot say, “Ooh, that’s right, I forgot: it’s your sister’s ass that you ram like a redneck. That’s even worse than being gay, you sister-fucking douche! I bet you can’t wait till your kids grow up and call you, ‘Uncle-Dad’!”

  Blaze could take a certain level of abuse, but a line had to drawn somewhere, and Sharon’s boyfriend had just crossed it. If there was one thing you never did: it was to insult Blaze’s sister—the one person in his family who loved and respected him for his unique self.

  Blaze spun on the step, deli
vering a savage blow to his face. The moron didn’t go tumbling down the stairs as he’d hoped, so before he could react, Blaze grabbed a clump of hair and smashed his face into the steel handrail of the stairs, destroying his nose and picture-perfect rows of teeth.

  Game over.

  Blaze retaliated without any fear of the consequences. In his mind’s eye, he was in the right. Sharon’s boyfriend had insulted him one-too-many times for no reason and paid the price. Sharon couldn’t remember exactly what she’d said to Blaze after the incident, but she’d never forgotten what he had to say for himself when she confronted him.

  He’d said: ‘Your loudmouth, fuckwit of a boyfriend deserved what he got.’

  That was all. The truth as he saw it.

  He was suspended from St Mary’s for the maximum length of five days, which was kind considering the school board of trustees had wanted him thrown out permanently. The principal had convinced the board that he was being tormented by other students and should be given another chance, but with strict conditions: no further signs of violence, and a report from his teachers to be given daily to the school board, monitoring his grades and behaviour. Sharon was one of three students who gave testimony to the board, confirming he was constantly bullied by her ex-boyfriend and others. This proved the winning ticket, saving him from expulsion.

  Sorry, Bobby, I won’t be your saviour again.

  Her mind focused as she snapped back to reality, and delivered the much-anticipated verdict to the courtroom. “Guilty, Your Honour.”

  The gallery erupted with raucous cheers and applause at the landslide victory to the prosecution. Blaze turned and peered up to the gallery behind him, seeing an ocean of elated teachers and students beaming in jubilation. One woman cheered the loudest of them all, clapping her hands harder than two heavy weight boxers going toe-to-toe. It was the principal of St Mary’s. She was devastated that her life’s work had been burned to ashes. She was furious that a former student she’d fought tooth and nail to save from expulsion was the culprit. Fast-forward fourteen years and all she wanted was to see him thrown in prison.

 
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