Fiend: The Manifestation, is the first part in a trilogy. Visually stunning with dynamic characters, the novel will grab you and refuse to let go.
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Nothing much happens in the sleepy resort town of Larkin, Wisconsin. Until Adam, the town's sheriff, begins having the same nightmare over and over. Is it a sign of things to come or is Adam just going insane?
When Adam is visited by a mysterious woman that only he can see, he realizes that things are about to get a little more harrowing in his small town. His dreams are visions of the future and it is up to him to keep his town safe from the terror that is about to unfold.
Fiend: The Manifestation, is a gripping tale told by new author, Phil Bolos. Chilling and disturbing, Fiend will keep you turning the pages to discover who sins the gruesome, apocalyptic battle between good and evil.
From the air, a town takes on a whole new appearance. Instead of streets seeming like a maze of intersections and turns, the entire network becomes clear and simple ways of maneuvering from one end of town to another seem obvious. The everyday habits of people in the town stand out as they move from one building to another, socializing as they go.
As the crow flew over the town, it took in these observations and stored them for later use. People were a strange breed to the crow and it knew that they posed a serious threat to him if he wasn’t careful. With a quick flutter of his wings, the crow turned away from the town and soared out over the lake. Sunlight danced across the ripple covered surface and reflected up against the bridge that led out of the town.
Just beyond the bridge, parked on the side of the road, sat a police car. The crow, flying far above the tops of the tall pines, eyed the vehicle. It cawed loudly, flapped its wings and soared away.
For the sixth day in a row, Adam found himself parked on the shoulder of Route 47, sitting in his squad car and staring down the open stretch of highway leading away from town. To his left was a large, white wooden sign hanging on chains between two massive pine trees:
Larkin, Wisconsin 2 Miles
The town of Larkin, where Adam held the office of sheriff, was not what one may call a “happening place”. On average, three cars left town every hour and on average, three cars came back. The highway served as the main way in and out of town and for all practical purposes, aside from a few small dirt roads that were used mostly by the cattle farmers, was the only way.
Every so often, moving out of some distant pines, Adam could see a deer cautiously make its way across the road and disappear into the opposite side. The enormous trees provided shelter for the hundreds of birds that chirped happily in the early morning air, giving the final rustic touch to this quiet stretch of road.
Not what you would call the most active street on the planet, yet Adam still found himself drawn to this spot. As he sat with the open road in front of him and the town to his back, Adam’s recurring nightmare flashed before him: the man-in-black walking down this very highway, fire consuming the land behind him, and the penetrating dread that there was nothing that could stop him. Adam leaned back in his seat and let out a sigh. Something was coming down that road, straight for him and his town, and this nightmarish vision was just the first taste of it.
Adam jolted in his seat. Standing outside the passenger window was Paul Dricken, the town priest. He tapped the glass two more times with a gentle smile on his face. Adam let out a slow breath to calm his heart and then unlocked the door. Paul hopped in, closing the door behind him, and looked at Adam who had returned his attention to the road, loosely playing with his lower lip. Paul looked down the road for a moment, searching for an answer to the question that had plagued him for the past six days.
“What are you looking at?” asked Paul, his eyes scanning the tree line. When no answer came after several seconds, Paul turned his gaze to the sheriff. Adam was still looking down the road, but his hand had stopped playing with his lip. Now holding it, he pinched it out in front of his teeth like a small bird bath.
“Adam?” said Paul, giving the sheriff a light slap on the shoulder. Adam jumped, as if pulled out of a deep sleep.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Adam, running his fingers through his short, light brown hair. “Just the road I guess.”
Paul eyed him suspiciously for a time before continuing.
“For a week now, you’ve been sitting here.” Adam shifted in his seat, obviously uncomfortable about the direction the conversation was taking. “I’m your friend, but I’m also your priest. If you don’t want to talk to me as your buddy, you can talk to me as a spiritual counsel.”
“Yeah, I know,” replied Adam, fumbling with the keys hanging in the ignition. “But, some things you just have to figure out for yourself. You know?”
“You’re talking about the dream,” said Paul, adjusting to face Adam. “Did you have it again last night?”
“Every damn night,” said Adam, leaning back so his head rested on the seat. Sunlight reflected off the hood of the cruiser and lit up his light brown eyes. “I don’t know what it means or why I keep having it. If I had it one night and never again it wouldn’t bother me, but eight nights in a row?” His voice trailed off.
“Why?” he continued, “Always on this same road with that same guy walking toward me with the same smirk on his face, wearing that same blue bow tie.”
“The man in your dream is wearing a blue bow tie?” asked Paul, happy that Adam was finally opening up.
“I didn’t notice it at first. But after I had it a few times, I started to pick up on more details. The real creepy thing is that every night he’s a little bit closer.”
Adam lowered his head but kept his eyes fixed on the horizon. His voice deepened as his fear of the vision took control of his emotions.
“It’s almost like I can feel him getting closer.”
Paul felt chills run up his spine as Adam said this. He tried to imagine having the same dream every night with the ghostly apparition set against the apocalyptic background. He looked back down the road and tried to picture what Adam saw.
It was hard but a faint image of terror began to form in his mind’s eye.
“You want to get some coffee?” asked Adam.
This time it was Paul who didn’t reply.
“Oh. Yeah. Coffee sounds good.”
The diner was quiet in the morning. Rarely did customers show up until their lunch breaks. Farmers would come in from the fields for a sandwich and a break from the noontime sun, while business owners would close up shop for an hour and come over for a friendly lunch. Adam and Paul shared the eatery with two waitresses and three older women who were obviously gossiping about something of major importance. Their heads were hunkered together over their cups of constantly stirred coffee to hear each other’s whispers even though no one was within thirty feet of them. Paul looked at them from across the polished tiled floor and wondered what the big secret was.
Ceiling fans slowly rotated their blades and refreshed the air, circulating the scent of bacon and eggs. A waitress came by and brought coffee, asked if they wanted any menus, but both men declined. After adding cream and sugar and tasting the dark liquid, Paul noticed that Adam hadn’t touched his cup and was gazing out the large front windows. Outside, a logging truck with its trailer full of massive logs of pine and oak rolled by and spewed a geyser of black exhaust into the air. The floor vibrated slightly as the powerful diesel engine accelerated toward the highway.
“Still thinking about it, aren’t you?” asked Paul, taking another sip of his coffee. Adam looked at him for a moment and then smiled.
“You know me too well,” replied Adam, leaning forward to tinker with his cup.
“I know a troubled mind when I see one.”
“Man, ten years ago I never would have thought I would hear those words come out of your mouth,” said Adam with a chuckle.
“Back in those days we were still crazy college guys looking to get wasted at the next ideal time and location,” said Paul. “I miss those days sometimes. Now, by eight-thirty at night I’m looking for an excuse to go to bed and would rather curl up with my dog and a book than a handle of vodka and a girl I barely know.”
Adam burst out laughing at the comment. Paul shared in the laugh, both out of the humor of it and at Adam’s change of mood. They talked for a time about the college days, about living in the old townhouse they had rented and the ridiculous parties they had thrown. After an hour of reminiscing and downing cups of coffee, the earlier discussion in the car on the highway seemed like a distant memory. Paul checked his watch and let out a sigh of disgust.
“Okay, I have to get over to the office. I have a meeting to run about this weekend’s bake sale.”
“Wow tiger, that sounds like fun. Can I come along?” Adam said with a smile. Paul put on a sarcastic smirk and rolled his eyes.
“I have to use the facilities real quick,” said Paul standing up. “Can you give me a ride back over to the church?”
“Thanks. I’ll be right back.”
Adam watched Paul walk across the diner to the washroom and chuckled to himself as Paul said good morning to the group of whispering ladies. They all flashed Paul a big smile but quickly went back to their gossip as soon as he passed. The men’s room door slowly closed behind the priest until it thudded against the frame.
Out of the corner of his eye, Adam saw a shimmer of light pass by the breakfast bar. When he looked, he saw a young, pleasant-looking woman sitting on one of the stools. He didn’t remember seeing her when they ordered coffee and hadn’t noticed her come in. She was looking at him with kind eyes. Adam nodded at her, and she nodded in reply. As he finished his coffee, the woman got up and walked over to him.
“Do you mind?” she asked, motioning toward the seat Paul had occupied. He hesitated for a moment, struck by her beauty – bright blue eyes accented by blonde hair and ruby lips. Her smile was soft and inviting.
Attractive, Adam thought.
“Please,” he replied, gesturing for her to sit. She smiled and sat down.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,” the woman said. “It sounds like you two are very close friends.”
“Yeah, best friends, you could say,” said Adam, fidgeting with his coffee cup as he fought to control the unexplained feeling of butterflies in his stomach.
“That’s perfect,” the woman said with a big smile. “You can rely on each other with complete trust.”
“We always have and always will,” replied Adam, feeling strangely comfortable talking with this complete stranger. He noticed the woman lean closer to him as if she had a secret to tell him, so he moved forward in his seat.
“You’re going to need each other, more than ever, after he has chosen the seven,” said the woman. Adam blinked, not knowing how to respond.
“Excuse me?” He wondered if perhaps he had misunderstood what she had said.
The woman slowly reached out and took Adam’s hands in her own. A surge of energy rushed through him. His body stiffened, as if electrified, his head shot back, eyes locked on the ceiling. The butterflies became almost unbearable, as if thousands of them were trying to break free from his chest. He sucked in a deep breath as an incredible, yet soothing, warmth spread from his hands into his arms and numbed his senses as it passed through his flesh.
“You are not alone in this,” said the woman. Her words, sounding as though they floated in from miles away, slipped into his ears and relaxed every muscle they touched. The warmth moved over his shoulders and into his chest and back. An amazing sense of calm swept through him.
“The one you see can be stopped,” whispered the woman. “There are those who will fight him. But you need to be strong enough to do what is right, to do what the others cannot.”
Adam tried to let his breath out, but the air was locked in his lungs. The warmth had spread past his waist and into his legs. The butterfly feeling was immense, like nothing he had ever experienced. One of her hands reached out, touched his left cheek, and guided his head so his eyes locked with hers. As the soft heat filled his entire body, Adam watched the woman’s eyes changed from blue to green.
“Only together can you stop him,” said the woman. “Your advantage lies within your hearts. Don’t be afraid to use them.”
She smiled and kissed his hand. When she let go, Adam’s world went black.
Slowly, Adam’s eyes opened. Standing over him were the three older women and the two waitresses. Each was waving a menu that cast an irritatingly cool breeze across his face. Suddenly, their images were blocked out by a familiar face. Paul was shaking him by the shoulders and offering him water, concern dominating his face.
“You alright? You passed out on the floor,” said Paul, shaking a glass of water so Adam could hear the ice clink. “Do you need a drink?”
A drop of condensation slipped off the edge of the glass and struck Adam on the cheek. For a moment he felt nothing, then he shivered as the water droplet slid across his skin. The warmth he had felt just moments ago was gone and the water’s cold temperature stung in comparison.
What happened? he thought to himself
The blue-eyed woman slammed back into his thoughts.
“Is she still here?” asked Adam, his voice, barely audible, cracked as he finished the question. The women stopped fanning him and Paul cocked an eyebrow.
“Is who still here, sheriff?” asked one of the gossipy women.
“The blonde woman,” said Adam, pushing himself up, “the lady that was at the bar a minute ago.”
Paul looked at the waitresses who shrugged their shoulders at the question. “We were the only ones here, man,” said Paul with a look of confusion. Adam quickly scanned the diner and found that Paul was correct: no one else was in the restaurant.
The woman was gone.
The sheriff shook his head for a moment to try and clear his thoughts. Just as Adam was about to accept that he had dreamt the woman as he was passed out, he noticed that his left cheek was numb and very warm.
After handling the awkward situation at the diner and dropping Paul off at the church, Adam again found himself back in his car, gazing down the road that haunted him each night. However, this time his thoughts of the man in the blue bow tie were pushed aside by the experience he had gone through while Paul had been in the restroom. He looked out the driver’s side window at the center line and wondered why all of this was happening to him. Who was this strange woman who visited him? What had the woman meant by saying “you’re not alone?” Who were these seven people who were going to be chosen? And most importantly, who was the man in the blue bow tie and what did he want?
Adam let out a long breath, rubbed the stubble on his chin, and let his mind wander. On the horizon, storm clouds were brewing; tall, dark monsters slowly expanding and contracting. He leaned back in his seat and waited.