Guest Author Spotlight

In the Spotlight: Valda Dracopoulos

Growing up, I was quite an imaginative child. There is always a story on my mind. You could find me deep in thought with my head in the clouds. One day, I decided to get them down on paper. The words just flowed and came naturally. Writing became one of my passions and it stuck until adulthood. I have been writing my whole life just for the fun of it. My friends and family saw potential in my writing and convinced me to share it with other people. That is why I decided to publish mystery novels. So many people enjoyed reading my short stories, so why not try to reach a wider audience by publishing a novel? That hard work, with a little push from loved ones, brought me to where I am today. I am really excited about sharing my mystery novels with all of you. With all the stories I have in my head, I definitely have quite a lot to share with you!

Visit Valda at: https://valdadracopoulos.com/

I’m so pleased to offer you an excerpt from Valda’s thrilling novel, Woven Web, as well as a bonus short story, “Through the Eyes of a Killer”. Enjoy!

Woven Web

Chapter 1

            I glance out the window, and as far as you can see, there’s nothing except abarbed-wire fence and grass that sways with the wind. 

            A spider works spinning on the bush outside the window, “You’re setting a trap.”  The sun is bright and reflects off the web; it’s then that I notice the clock on the nightstand, tells me it’s almost eight, and everyone should be awake.  I realize that something isn’t right.

            Quickly I throw on a pair of jeans and tee-shirt and pull my long curly red hair into a ponytail.

            The house is quiet.  Usually, if I oversleep, they call me to get up and do my chores.  We typically are up early and have our tasks done before seven.  As I leave my room, I turn to make sure nothing is out of place, and my bed is neatly made.        

I head to the kitchen, my usual morning routine, and sniff the air, but notice there’s no smell of coffee or bacon.  I see the coffee maker hasn’t been touched.  The kitchen is clean.  Where are my parents?  They always greet me.  Did they go somewhere without me?  A chill rushes down my spine.  Why did they not wake me?

            It’s quiet outside, and that adds more worries.  I don’t see my parents anywhere, and the door to the barn is shut.  The truck is parked in its place.  I stop and turn to the house and back to the barn.  I try to decide where to go and what to do.

            Do I get my chores done and wait for them?  Maybe I should go back to the house and see if they overslept.  I turn toward the house and rush to their bedroom.  I open their bedroom door, hoping to find them asleep only to stop in my tracks when the bed is unmade and empty.  Startled, I turn and run to the barn.

            I reach for the barn door, and it takes all of my strength to push the heavy wooden door to the side.  I step inside, smelling the scent of fresh hay and dust.  The warmth and moisture of the enclosed barn cause me to fan myself.  I walk further into the vast open area, cautiously moving because it’s dark inside.  The only light is the sun penetrating through the cracks of the boards at the back of the barn.  I suddenly smell the scent of something metallic or coppery.  I stop in horror when I see both my parents sprawled out on a thick mound of hay. 

            I fall to my knees and blink, thinking this can’t be real, and I must be dreaming.  They’re still in their pajamas.  I turn quickly and look around.  Was this an accident?  Is someone here?  I lean over Daddy since he is the one closest to me.  “Daddy, why are you here,” I say and feel something gooey and sticky on my hands.  I bring my hands closer to my face and see that it is blood.  I quickly hold his wrist and try to get a pulse, but all I can feel is my heart pounding in my chest.  Maybe they’re still alive; I have to help them.  I reach for Mother and try to get her pulse, but it’s only the pounding of my heart.  I lean over them and see the gaping hole in their chests and know that every minute counts.  I place my hands over the hole in Dad’s chest, trying to stop the bleeding.

            I realize the blood isn’t pumping.  I reach over and place my hand on mother, but again the blood doesn’t seem to be pumping.  I want to help them, but I don’t know what to do.  I hope I’m not too late.   

I rush back to the house to grab the phone, punching in the number to the Sheriff’s office.  Lucille answers the phone.  I know Lucille because she plays the piano for the services on Sunday.

            “It’s Rebecca Wilds.  I just found my parents in the barn, and they’re all bloody.  I don’t know what happened.  I need an ambulance and the Sheriff.”  I say all in one breathe.

            “Becca, is this a joke?”  Lucille asks.

            “No,” my voice cracks as I choke back a sob “it’s not a joke.”  How could she think I would joke about something so serious?  My voice shakes as I yell, “Get the ambulance and the Sheriff now.”

            “Was this some kind of accident?”  Lucille asks.

            “I don’t know what happened.  My parents are in their pajamas.  I didn’t see anything that would have caused an accident.  I rushed to the phone to get help.”  I lean against the wall because my legs are shaking. 

            “You said your parents are hurt.  How bad are they hurt?  Are they conscious?  You said you couldn’t get a pulse.  The Sheriff is on the way.  You lock the door and wait for him.  Do you understand?”  Lucille says, and I hear a commotion on her end of the line.  I can hear people shouting.

            “My parents are a bloody mess.  They’re in the barn, and I ran back to the house.  I didn’t see anything, and no, they aren’t conscious.  I can’t get a pulse.  I tried, but my heart is beating so hard that was all I could feel.  I’ll lock the door and wait.  I know that every minute counts.  What can I do to help them?”  I say and wait for Lucille to respond. 

“Becca, you need to lock the back door and just wait for the Sheriff.”

I hang up the phone.  I rush to the door and lock it.

            My eyes widen as I realize that whoever harmed my parents might be in the house or still in the barn.  My hands shake as I grab the butcher knife and stand at the kitchen sink with my eyes fixed on the barn door. 

            Fear creeps over me, thinking that someone could have been in that barn.  Why did something happen to my parents?  They are good people and would never hurt anyone.  Then I realize my parents could still be alive, and I begin to pray for God to save them and keep them alive.  I’m crying and gasping for air, but I’ll not leave my post.  I’m staying fixed on the door to the barn.

            I tremble as I realize the dog didn’t greet me at the door or follow me to the barn.  Where is Bruiser?  I think about getting that cute puppy a little over a year ago.  He was playful and grew so fast.  Those golden retrievers are smart dogs; maybe he is hiding out somewhere.  I swallow hard and keep my eyes fixed on the opened barn.

            Every little sound causes me to jump.  I keep my eyes on the barn, but I have an eerie feeling that someone could be in the house. 

            Could I have done more?  I was so scared; I didn’t know what to do.  I feel like I’ve failed them.  Please, God, let them be alive.

            The wail of sirens breaks the silence; I strain to see flashing lights on the main road.  I sigh and realize I must have been holding my breath.  The emergency vehicles turn onto the lane, and I stand firm until they are parked and out of the car. 

            I rush out the back door and over to the Sheriff.

            “Sheriff, they’re in the barn.  They’re exactly the way I found them.”  I shout as tears stream down my cheeks.

            The Sheriff looks at me and looks at my shirt.  I look down and realize I’m covered in blood.

            “Rebecca, you stay here by the car.  I don’t want you getting in the way.  Did you move or touch anything?”

            “The only thing I touched was the door to the barn when I opened it.  My parents were lying there on a mound of hay.  I checked them for a pulse.”  I burst into tears, and my body shakes.

            “Stay here, and I’ll take a look.”  He walks into the barn and motions for the paramedics to follow him.  I stand next to his car and wait for the news.  I wait for the news that my parents are alive.

            The waiting grows weary, and I lean against the car.  I shift my feet feeling the heaviness of my body and pace back and forth.  I swallow, and my mouth is dry and parched.  I look around in all directions for any signs of Bruiser, but I don’t see him.  I keep waiting with no sign of the paramedics moving my parents to the ambulance.  I wonder what is taking so long.  The Sheriff comes back to the squad car and radios for help.  My heart sinks, thinking that I may have lost my parents.  I’m only sixteen, and school starts on Tuesday.  What does my future look like now?  What happened to my parents?

            “Why don’t you tell me what happened.”  The Sheriff says, leaning beside me.

            “I got up and dressed.  Turning to my clock, I noticed it’s almost eight.  I was shocked that my parents didn’t wake me.  I rushed to the kitchen, but they weren’t there, and then I rushed to the barn.  It was a struggle to open that heavy door, but I got it open, and I saw them just lying there.  I checked for a pulse before running to the house to call the station.  What happened to them?  Was it an accident?”

            “Did you hear anything?  Did you notice any unusual sounds during the night?”  The sheriff asks, looking at me.

            “I heard Bruiser bark.  I turned to the clock on my nightstand; it was around two.  I figured that he saw a possum and had it cornered.  I fell back to sleep.  I heard a shuffling noise but thought nothing of it.  I didn’t even wake enough to think about the sound.  I heard the sound of gunshots but thought Dad must have shot a possum.  How are my parents?  Are they going to be okay?”  I ask, looking at the Sheriff, hoping for good news.

            “Rebecca, do you know anyone that would want to hurt your parents?”

            “No, I know that Mr. Carson and Dad always seem to get in an argument, but I never heard Dad speak badly about anyone.”

            “Do you know how to shoot a rifle?”  The Sheriff looks at me.

            “Well, yes, doesn’t everyone?  You have to know out in the country because of all the varmints.”

            “Do you have a rifle?”  The Sheriff looks deeply into my eyes.

            “No, there is a rifle in the house, but I don’t have one,” I say, thinking he must think I shot my parents.  “Were my parents shot?”

            “Maybe, you should show me that rifle and let me look around the house.”  The Sheriff nods at the house.  I lead him inside, and we walk to my parent’s bedroom.  I walk to the closet and open the door and reach for the rifle.

            “I will take that.  Is that the only gun in the house?”  The Sheriff asks.

            “The only one I know anything about,” I say, turning to look at the unmade bed, “You see, my Dad didn’t care for guns.  That gun was only to shoot unwanted critters.”

            “Someone woke your parents.  Who do you think would have done that?”  The Sheriff stares me down.

            “I don’t know, Sheriff.  I only know that someone harmed them, and I am terrified to be without them.  Why would someone come to our house and harm my parents and leave me?”  I say, shivering at the thought of losing them.

            “Get your things you’re going to the station with me.”  The Sheriff orders, and I walk to my room.

            He follows me to my room.  I pick up my purse and look around at my bedroom and wonder why they were taken, and I was left.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Through the Eyes of a Killer

I gaze across the street at the attic window of what used to be the Lawrence house.  A young couple bought it, and today they’re moving furniture.  I take a sip of iced tea and rock back and forth in the old porch rocker.

Carson, his mother’s voice echoes in his head; don’t be sitting out front staring at those people.  It just isn’t polite.  Little did she know; he didn’t care.  She was always so strict and always telling me what to do.

I remember back twenty years ago when I was seventeen.  Charlie and I met out at the sand pits to swim in the lake.  We were getting out of the lake and at the edge of the water when Charlie told me he had a date with Amanda.  She was my girl.  I had liked her since junior high.  Charlie knew how I felt about her.  I’d never asked her out, but she was mine.  How could you betray me like that? 

I picked up a big rock and smashed him in the head as hard as I could.  I heard the sound of his skull cracking and saw the blood gushing.  He fell into the water face down.  I watched as he lay there lifeless.  I could have helped him; at that point, I think he was still alive.  No way was I going to help him go out with my girl.  Amanda is mine.  I looked around to make sure there was no one around.  That’s why we liked the place; it’s always deserted.

I stepped back into the water and pulled his lifeless body to the center of the lake.  I wanted to tie him to a rope and something heavy to sink his body, but then it wouldn’t look like an accident.  I left him there and got out of the lake.  He was my best friend.  That’s what happens when you mess with something that’s mine.

The days that followed I felt stronger and better than ever.  It’s like all of Charlie’s strength was transferred to me.  I felt powerful.  I realized I now have the power to take life.  But that feeling didn’t last.  So, I had the desire to kill again.  Charlie was only my first; there have been seven more. 

I smile as I think how Amanda turned to me after Charlie died.  She and I grew close and dated for a while.  I went away to college then we parted.  She’s still single and calls me often.  Maybe I’ll start dating her again.

I’m the guy that all the parents want to date their daughters.  The funny thing is they still do.  I guess I would be considered a catch.  I’m handsome, athletic, educated and have a great job.  Little do they know I have a lust for killing? 

I watch the young couple as they continue to unload.  The woman is very attractive, and something tells me she’d make a good number nine.  In the attic of their new house is the scene of my number five.  It was Mrs. Lawrence; she was too nosy for her own good.  I caught her up in her attic and smothered her then pushed the body down the stairs.  She was old, so the police thought it was an accident.  I’m good at finding ways to make it look like an accident; at least most of the time.

No one would ever suspect me; the church going guy that grew up here.  I ease out of the rocker and grab my empty glass to go inside.  I can still watch my next target from inside the house.  I can’t kill her at the house.  Two deaths in the same house might look suspicious.  I’ll have to watch her and plan for the kill.

I still have time because my last kill gave me a lot of strength.  It was a high school boy.  He fought hard, and he was strong and powerful, but I was stronger.  I remember he and his friend were at the park late.  No one was around as they sat drinking and throwing rocks into the river.  His friend said he had to get home and left him just sitting on the edge of the water.  My task was so easy.  I waited for his friend to leave.  I crept slowly up behind him and smashed his head with a rock.  He fell forward, and I pushed him into the river.  The current of the water swept him away, and I was left with his strength.

I smile as I think of each of my victims.  Each selected for different reasons — some for being careless and in a remote place.  But Charlie and Mrs. Lawrence deserved what they got.  She was nosy, and he was stealing my girl. 

The young woman across the street is just beautiful and vibrant.  I have to have her.  I look at the clock and realize it’s almost time for church.  I shrug knowing that I don’t want to go, but who would ever suspect this church going guy ever to do such a horrible thing.

I smile at the thought and lick my lips knowing the thirst for blood is still there.  I climb into my car and drive to church.  I’m just blocks away when a big rig honks his horn.  I look up and realize I’ve run the red light and collide with the truck.

****

            A few days later the hearse pulls into the cemetery, and the pallbearers take Carson’s casket out of the back. 

            The minister stands to speak to the crowd that has gathered.

            “Carson was a nice man.  It’s a shame that his life was taken too soon.  The police said that Carson was reading a text when he collided with the truck.  It’s just an example of life is short.”

            Amanda smiles knowing the text was from her.  She knew Carson hurt people and well; it was just karma.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Previous Authors in the Spotlight:

Shattered – Lori Lee Palmer lorileepalmer.com FB Lori Lee Palmer, writer.

Clarabelle Comes Clean – Timothy J. Verret https://www.timothyjverret.wordpress.com www.facebook.com/timothy.j.verret.

Nocturne in Ashes – Joslyn Chase https://www.facebook.com/StoryChase

The Light and the Darkness – Lyn Blair https://lkblair.com

The Seafood Capital of the World – exerpt – Jonathan Byrd https;// byrdmouse.com

Lost Hope – exerpt – Edmund Stone https://edmundstoneauthor.com,

Wylde – Chapter 1 – S.E. Laughter S.E. http://selaughter.com/

My Best Mistake – Chapter 5 — Carole Wolfe https://www.carolewolfe.com/

The Babysitter — Justin Boote justinboote@gmail.com

What the World Needs Now — David Rae Davidrae-stories.com

Flickerings –Evie Haskell . http://www.echaskell.com

The Love Birds Saga I–Margherita Crystal Lotus. https://thecrystallotus.com

Where There’s a Will-Chapter 1–Pat Leo pat843@cox.net

The Unholy Warrior–Rebecka Jäger Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/rebeckajager/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebeckajagerwriter/ Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JagerWriter

Love is Messy (Finding You Again – Book 1)–Callie Sutcliffe https://calliesutcliffe.com

The Dieppe Raid — Des Dixon ddesmond@gmail.com

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead–Jodi Elderton http://jodielderton.com

The Raven Watched–Karin Weiss https://kweisssite.wordpress.com%20%20

Blessed Mother, Blue Sky–Terry Chase http://www.drterrychase.com

Heidi–Izzy Richards https://izzyrichardsblog.wordpress.com

Darkness in the Amazon–Stephanie Colbert https://www.stephaniecolbert.co/