Book Excerpt: Femmes du Chaos by Kristen Duvall @kristen_duvall
From heroes to villains, Femmes du Chaos sets out to show the world what the fairer sex is really made of. You’ll meet women of all ages and from many different walks of life… Warriors and schoolgirls, side-by-side in one place. One thing connects them all, and that is their ambition. Whether they use their ambition for good or evil, well that’s for them to decide. Gritty, fantastical and sometimes uncomfortable to read, Femmes du Chaos is a tour de force that holds nothing back. There will be violence and there will be blood.
Here are a few of the femmes you’ll meet in this thrilling collection:
Sylvia: The bounty hunter with a dark past who is hellbent on revenge. When the justice system fails her, she sets out to correct their mistakes.
Layla: The ballerina who wants to be a star who’s spent her life being overshadowed and under-appreciated. What happens when she stumbles across magic that makes her sister the star she’s longed to be for so long? Let’s just say, you’ve never seen sibling rivalry like this before.
Mallory: A young girl who can see the future in her dreams. She’s saved lives in the past, and her dreams are warning her to not return to the world they all left behind. Faced with starvation, no one wants to believe her about the multitude of horrors that wait for them above. After all, monsters don’t exist… Or do they?
Some will survive and come out stronger in the end… And some will let the darkness consume them. After all, no two girls are ever alike.
Kristen Duvall is a writer of tales both real and make believe. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides in Southern California with her boyfriend, her Great Dane and her rescued calico kitty. She’s been writing and sharing her work online for several years now, and has decided to take the plunge into publishing her work for the world to read. She dabbles in horror, science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction. She enjoys both Adult and Young Adult fiction and loves to write strong female characters. You may follow her on Facebook or visit her website.
The Princess and the Piper (title may change) – A utopian version of The Prince and the Pauper, only with lesbians.
The Caged Girl – A romantic tale of a girl, a boy and decapitation. First in a forthcoming sci-fi/dystopian series.
Here There Be Dragons – YA or possibly middle-grade story of a girl on a mission to do the impossible.
The Devil’s in the Details – A horror novella about the devil’s right-hand man.
Bonnie and Clyde
The dream was always the same.
A single yelp of pain that forever echoed in Sylvia’s ears. A streak of crimson left by Bonnie as she’d crawled for help; help that didn’t arrive soon enough. Even in the dream, it never did.
Bonnie was dead. Murdered.
Sylvia woke up drenched in sweat, just as she had that hot July morning when she’d heard the awful cry followed by peals of drunken laughter.
She’d tried to chase the bastards down, but the cops had gotten to them first. They were lucky.
Two years in prison. Two measly years was all they’d served.
“They came to me in my dreams. The people we left behind, I mean.”
“And what did they say to you, Mallory?” Dr. Russell tilted her head, paper and pen in hand as she took notes.
“My friend, Zora spoke to me. She told me that I should never come up again.” I refused to look the doctor in the eye as I spoke. “Or else.”
“Or else what?” Dr. Russell stared at me and let the silence fill the room as I deliberated whether or not I should tell her. Finally, the silence became too much.
“They’d eat me.” I lowered my voice before continuing, “she’d eat me.”
The doctor nodded as she wrote something down. “Tell me about the dream. Start at the beginning.”
“It all started at six fifty seven a.m. when the announcement was made to exit the shelter. Then my dad woke up and we had the last of our rations while everyone celebrated outside,” I said. I chewed on my fingernail, not sure if I should go on.
“What happened next?” she asked.
They opened the doors anyway of course.” I shrugged my shoulders. “And they were there. Only they weren’t the people we left behind, they were… monsters.”
“Mmm I see…” The doctor wrote something else down on her notepad.
“My dreams come true, you know.” I stared at her as she stopped writing and looked up at me.
A Fate Worse Than Death
Lisette was pulled to the edge of the pool first. Gag firmly placed in her mouth, her eyes were wide with fear as tears fell in thick droplets onto her favorite dress, the pink one with white lace at the collar. Lisette struggled as the guard effortlessly shackled her feet to the large weight. Kicking and squirming, she fought for her life, but her slight frame was no match for the strength of the guards.
The mechanism was as cruel as it was simple in design. Lisette’s feet were chained to the weights on a platform that would drop out from under her, dragging her down into the murky depths of the pool below. Chains were attached to both sides of the weight, and on a whim, the executioner could shorten or prolong a prisoner’s life for the pleasure of the crowd by simply raising or lowering the weight.
“Two minutes. I give her two minutes unless old Ira decides to have some fun with her,” the guards wagered amongst themselves as the one standing beside Meredith winked at her.
Meredith noted the attendance of the king in his usual front row seat, along with Queen Odelia who glared at her. A toddler dressed in blue ruffles played at their feet. The king nodded to the executioner who started his ascent up the stairs to the mechanism’s crank. The queen looked rather pleased with her king and reached for his hand as they shared a smile between them.
The Trails I’ve Walked
I walked along the beaten trail, breaking twigs of off the bushes I passed. Once in a while, I would see a rock that caught my eye and stick it in my pocket if further investigation proved to keep my interest. I really didn’t pay any attention to the scenery around me; Godzilla could have snuck up on me without me even noticing. If I focused too much on my surroundings, the desolation of the land around me would make me realize how utterly alone I was in the world. I preferred to be a part of something smaller, my own personal world instead. So that day, I just walked and tried to shut out the ugly voices in my head that talked about finding the nearest cliff to jump off of. I managed to shut them out and stopped when I heard something else.
Laughter. A little boy’s laughter.
“Who’s there?” I grabbed a stick that lay at my feet for protection.
More laughter echoed around me, the trees distorting the sound so I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Behind me? I turned around. No one. Only trees and thick brush. The leaves on a bush to the left of me rustled making me spin with my stick raised, ready to attack.
“Who’s there? Tell me and maybe I won’t hit you!”
More giggling was followed by a voice that seemed to be all around me that said, “Silly girl!”
A loud rustling noise outside drew her attention to her bedroom window. A dog barked a warning in the night air outside. The sound of the dog’s barking was quickly followed by a sharp yelp of pain and then silence. The chickens in the pen outside squawked as terror suddenly seemed to infect the entire coop. A moment later, perfect silence descended upon her again.
Claws scraped against the wall outside the house. Panic threatened to overwhelm her as the sound of scraping, like nails or knives, moved down the side of the house and toward the door. Her heart raced even faster and time slowed to a crawl. It was the wolf. It was here. For her.
Fire in the Sky
The Nelsons were neighbors of her parents, and had once been her neighbors too.
Two little girls with names sewn upon their pink and yellow dresses sat in their stroller. Lily and Laney, identical cherubs with dimpled cheeks and just enough white blonde peach fuzz atop their heads to clip into a tiny barrette. Lily smiled up at Brynn, showing two teeth just starting to make themselves at home.
After trying for many years, it appeared the family had finally been blessed with children. Brynn smiled, happy for them for a brief moment. Then reality set in.
“Four tablets, please.” Peter Nelson spoke softly as his wife stared down at her feet, soaked tissues clutched tightly in her hand.
Looking up with tears streaming down her cheeks, Mandy Nelson glared at Brynn. “Traitor. Your science has failed you and here you are like the rest of us.”
The Chosen One
I did exactly as I was told. I took Harmony out to the pond and dipped her into the icy water. The little girl screamed and squirmed, fought against my hands and almost made me drop her. Cupping my hands and filling them with water, I soaked the girl’s hair, making her blonde curls lie flat against her head.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” I whispered the lies I didn’t even believe myself.
I couldn’t stop shaking, and it wasn’t from the cold or frigid air. I held Harmony’s head so she wouldn’t look over to the side of the pond after making the mistake of looking myself. I finished wetting the baby down and made the call, just as father told me to do. I had the script, written down in front of me. The story may have been fake, but the tears were very real.
“Hello? I’m afraid there’s been an accident… Yes, she fell in trying to save her daughter… No, the little girl is safe… But I don’t know about the mother…”
Devils and Darlings
First it was Eden Leary, in her bed one summer night, no sign of a break-in. Her little neck at an angle unnatural to the human body. Her trachea completely smashed, pieces of flesh missing from her arms and legs. Scars dotted her body in places often hidden to the average eye. Her father was behind bars; her mother in the mental hospital on suicide watch.
“Who could do that to their own child?” Mrs. Jones said. “They always seemed like such a nice couple.”
“She said she didn’t know where the scars came from, that she assumed she had been rough housing with her brother.” Mrs. O’Shea shook her head. “She knows damn well where those scars came from.”
Then it was Riley Jones. Her mother had stepped out of the playroom for only a second. She heard a scream only to return to find her little girl laying in a pool of blood, her face torn completely off.
Mrs. Jones ended up in the same institution as Mrs. Leary, knowing she should have taken more pills.
The Price You Pay
“Why so jumpy, Mario?”
He wouldn’t look at me. “I did something wrong, Liz.”
“What did you do?”
He just shook his head, refusing to answer me even as I stared him down.
“Did you steal something?”
He shook his head, his dark shaggy locks flying wildly around his head. “No, I only meant to borrow something… But Mr. Simms caught me…”
I shuddered despite the heat. “What were you trying to borrow?”
“The newspaper… I saw a photo of some people holding signs on the front page and I wanted to know what the story was about. I was going to ask you to read it to me –”
“What did he do?” I interrupted him because it didn’t matter why he did it, it only mattered that he was caught.
“Nothing. That’s what I’m afraid of.”
I stood there in silence with him, listening to every sound outside the gates.
“I’m sure you’re fine, Mario.” I lied to both myself and him. Mr. Simms made his wife look like generous, and I was thankful that I rarely had to deal with him.
He nodded but remained quiet as he continued trimming the hedges. Finished outside, I made my way to the pool house to finish up the rest of my duties there. Down on my knees, scrubbing the toilet, I heard something that made my heart stop.
A scream was followed by heavy footsteps and then silence. I slid to the floor, trying to wedge myself between the wall and the toilet, hoping they wouldn’t come for me too. Mrs. Simms had caught me watching TV… What if she’d told her husband? Had they even talked after that happened? I couldn’t breathe, afraid someone would hear me. I wanted to cry, but forced myself to remain silent until I heard the gates slam shut and a vehicle drive off. Rushing out of the pool house, I saw the black van as it pulled away. My heart nearly stopped and I ducked behind a bush for several minutes until I was sure the van was long gone. I bit my lip and whimpered, trying so hard not to cry out loud.
Mario was gone.