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The Nightmare Project
The Nightmare Project
Book One in The Dangerous Minds Trilogy
by Jo-Anne Russell
Genre: Dark Fiction Psychological Thriller
Release: October 26, 2012
Editor: Tanja Cilia
Line Editor: Valerie Haley
Cover Designer: Marion Sipe
When Julia Montgomery’s mind, body and soul become the rope in a tug-of-war between the living and the dead, there is nothing she won’t do for the right side to prevail; if she only knew which side was right.
The sound of someone’s shuffling feet brought her attention to her door where she caught a glimpse of Gun as he passed by, looking in as usual. He spoke not a word but gave her that “look,” as if he was up to something. The deformed side of his face disappeared before she looked away.
To her, he was the scariest patient on her floor, and not just because he botched his own murder-suicide, or the fact he had partially blown off half his face; but his silent stare with his one good eye sent a chill over her that Death himself couldn’t contest.
Julia slipped off the bed and quietly stuck her head out the doorway. Gun was still walking down the hall to the TV room. Once there, he stopped and turned back as if sensing her presence. She quickly pulled herself back into the room, but knew he had seen her.
As if the asylum itself knew she needed a diversion, the meal bell rang. She was relieved and realized that she was hungry. Julia walked to the dining area and sat alone, as usual. Veronica stared at her from the next table, her eyes glaring from behind lids heavily made up with black shadow. Julia stared back and ate as though nothing was going on at all. She barely tasted the bland chicken and salad, but she was too hungry to care. Veronica sat frozen for several moments. She suddenly sprang to her feet and upended her plate. She kicked her chair back and went straight at Julia. Julia readied herself for the fight to come, but her view of Veronica was suddenly blocked by a blur of gray and blue stripes. The man had his back turned to her, but she knew who it was right away.
“Sit back down, and don’t make me say it twice.” Gun raised his arm as if to strike.
Veronica stopped dead, and then made a run for the door.
The petrified look on Veronica’s face would have brought a small measure of pleasure to Julia, had she not been so preoccupied with Gun’s peculiar intervention.
“Thank you,” she started to say, but he didn't turn to look at her. He left the dining area—and his full plate of food—behind.
No one else seemed to realize what had just happened. The other patients, too medicated to care, continued eating their meals.
Julia finished eating and returned to her room. The day’s strange events whirled around in her head like clothes in a tumble dryer. Her head ached and her mouth felt parched. She sipped water from a plastic cup. The water cooled her mouth but did not quench her thirst. She’d had nothing but problems with Veronica since day one, for no apparent reason. But after several attempts at making nice then simply ignoring her, she realized Veronica wanted a fight.
“May I come in?”
The voice was quiet.
Julia turned from the sink and nodded at Ben.
He rolled the medic-cart through the door and readied her medical cocktail.
“I’m sorry for what I said earlier, Ben. I’m just not feeling like myself today.” She took the little cup and downed the pills all at once. Ben cringed as he watched.
“I don’t know how you can do that,” he said.
“Take that many pills all at once. Except for Suicide Suzanne next door, I’ve never seen someone else do it. The very thought makes me gag.”
A small giggle escaped her. He really did look like green at the gills. Ben’s skinny frame stood behind the medic-cart. Hunched over it, he looked shorter than his six feet. His bleached-blond hair didn’t really look out of place on his tanned body, although she had heard the goons making fun of him. Ben was not a goon to her. He was different from the others, friendly. And he really seemed to care.
“You’re not the only one,” said Ben as he put the little cup in the garbage. He picked up his chart and put a check mark beside her name. “Gun’s been acting a bit strange too. I saw him in the dining room tonight.”
Julia sat on her bed and looked up at him. “I don’t get it either,” she said. “He walked by earlier and looked in, but kept on walking. After the Veronica thing he didn’t even say a word to me. He just walked away.”
Julia could feel the medication taking effect. She didn’t have much time to change, before Marge would be there to tie her down for the night. Ben put the clipboard down and wheeled the cart to the door.
“Hard to say what goes on in the minds of the insane,” said Ben as he wheeled the cart out.
“Hey!” Julia tossed her pillow at him. In her medicated state, her hindered timing caused the pillow to hit another target; Marge. She stood in the doorway, unimpressed, and growled, “Time for lights out.”
Julia assumed “the position”—her hands at her sides and her legs straight out, ready for the ties. Marge looked at her and flicked off the lights.
“What about the ties?” Julia asked in surprise. Marge had never forgotten them before.
“Dr. Jamison said no, not tonight. He wants to try something new.”
“But, what about the nightmares?”
“Your door will be locked, so don’t worry. The doctor knows what he’s doing.”
Marge walked over to the bed and handed Julia her pillow. When she left, Julia faintly heard the door’s lock click into place. She drifted off into the darkness.
“Well, my fellow lovers of horror, there's another powerhouse author who knows how to scare the soul out of your skin. And I'm not kidding. I was truly frightened. Two bony thumbs up and a special ringing of the jester bells for this great book.”
-Charles Day, Author of YA novel THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF & novelette mystery THE PLAN
“My Thoughts: I'm always on the lookout for a good horror/psychological suspense book. The Nightmare Project hit right on the spot. Thrills, suspense, horror, and a bit of paranormal. It's enough to give you goose bumps, especially if you're reading this late at night. (Like I did!) This is the first book in the Dangerous Minds Trilogy, and after reading this one, I can't wait for more! I have to know what happens.”
-Storm Goddess Review
About the Author:
Jo-Anne Russell is a horror writer and HWA member living in Lindsay, Ontario Canada.
Her taste for the macabre has provided her imagination with a feast that fuels her writing and creativity. If you like horror, the bizarre, or you just don’t like to sleep at night, give her books and short stories a try.
Her debut novel The Nightmare Project the first in the trilogy called Dangerous Minds, will soon be available.
Author's Other Works:
Her latest flash horror can be found at most book / E-book retailers in the anthologies: Monster Gallery, by Static Movement, Behind Locked Doors, by Wickes East Press, In A Dark Place, and At The Water’s Edge, by Rattles Flash fiction, of Brazen Snake Books.
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