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   Chapter 1 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 6240

Updated: 2018-02-02 12:47

Chapter 1

Elena woke curled in a ball beneath her covers. Only her nose was sticking out into the cool morning air. Bad dreams chased her through the night and left her with only vague shadows and a raging headache. Deep in her comforter cocoon she groaned.

'At least it is Sunday, ' she thought. The store was closed on Sundays. Today was the one-day out of the week where the clamoring of customers was silent. Briefly she toyed with the idea of rolling over and trying for a few more hours of sleep but let the thought drift away as insubstantial as smoke. The pounding in her head would never allow it.

She sighed dramatically for her own benefit and sat up in bed. Her covers thumped around her waist exposing her t-shirt clad form to the morning chill. Fall was fading fast and soon Elena would have to break down and turn on the heat, watching her electric bill soar higher as the temperatures crept lower. She rubbed her goose bumps, slid out of bed and began gathering her supplies. A clean pair of jeans, a warm sweatshirt, and thick woolen socks formed a bundle in her arms. She topped it off with clean underwear and trudged into the bathroom.

Elena glanced at herself in the bureau mirror as she passed. She could almost see the headache pounding behind her black eyes and making her cap of chin length black hair bounce in time to the beat. She absently ran a hand through her hair, still surprised by how short it was. For most of her life she had worn it long in a braid reaching nearly to her waist. She shook her head, dismissing the thought before it could fully form and continued on to the bathroom.

Her headache pounded drum beat echoes of her footsteps. 'It just isn't fair', she grumbled to herself as she turned on the water in the shower. 'If I'm going to suffer in the morning I should have at least had the benefit of a wild time the night before to go with it.' Somehow she didn't think a night balancing her business receipts counted. As Elena stepped into the spray, flashes of her nightmares danced in her head. There weren't enough images to make a complete picture of what had haunted her night so she let the water wash them down the drain with the suds.

The old pipes began to rattle and whine. Elena glared at the tiled wall, knowing the sound signaled the death of her hot water supply. She decided to save washing her hair for later and reached down to turn the water off. The hot water failed as her hand reached the tap and she yelped as icy droplets rained down on her back. She quickly shut the water off as her headache mocked her.

Once dry and dressed she headed to the kitchen knowing from experience that caffeine would dull the pounding. She opened the freezer only to find that all but three lonely little coffee beans had already given their lives for her morning cup.

"Damn, " she said to the open freezer. She had forgotten to go shopping again. The freezer didn't answer and she slammed it shut. Elena glanced at the kitchen wall clock. 9:12. The coffee shop around the corner opened at 9 am on Sundays. Visions of v

ats of freshly brewed coffee swam through her aching head. She could also buy a new bag so Monday morning would not see a replay of this scene. She smiled, shoved her feet into a pair of leather clogs and grabbed her purse. She checked to make sure her keys and wallet were inside and headed out the door.

The street had that peculiar Sunday morning quiet to it. Everyone going to the early service at church had already left and everyone else was either still asleep or dawdling over his or her first cup of coffee. She took a deep breath of the cool air. Fall winds were definitely getting some bite to them. Bare black trees stretched cold fingers to the sky and sighed for their lost colors as the wind skritched through them and sighed over the parked vehicles lining the street. Elena hurried her steps without sparing them a glance.

As she rounded the corner, the scent of fresh coffee beckoned her forward and into the shop. With the exception of the sleepy eyed clerk, the shop was empty. Elena grabbed a bag of coffee beans as she crossed to the counter.

"May I help you, " he asked.

"I'd like this, " she said indicating the bag. "And a large coffee please."

"Regular or decaf?"


"Columbian or French roast?"

Elena dimly wondered if it mattered.


"Any flavors in that?"

"No thank you just the coffee."

"How about a shot of espresso?"

Elena ground her teeth.

"No thank you."

He poured the coffee and rang up her charges. She paid and walked out of the store, her newly acquired bag held under her left arm like a football while the cold fingers of her right hand gripped the steaming cup. At the door she paused to pry the lid off her cup and drop it into the trashcan. The clerk's belated, have a nice day drifted towards her as the door swung shut behind her.

As much as she wanted to gulp her hard won cup of coffee, the liquid's temperature was too high for her to do more than take delicate sips. She walked slowly, trying not to spill and hoping the cool air would steal some warmth from her drink. She felt tiny bites of heat as she sipped, the heat, rather than the taste, registering on her tongue.

She looked up from her cup and saw two men walking towards her, no doubt heading to the coffee shop, as it was the only business open on this street at the moment. They had a similarity of appearance that marked them as coming from the nearby military base. After seeing so many of the military personnel around, the sight no longer surprised her as it had when she first moved to town.

She dismissed them as they passed, her mind beginning to run through her household chores for the day. She heard a shuffling behind her and thinking one of the men had tripped she started to turn towards the sound. She felt a sharp pain in her neck and before she could raise a hand to the sting, Elena felt her knees crumble. Strong hands caught her as she fell but they missed her cup of coffee as it slid from fingers that refused to work. She watched it spill on the white concrete sidewalk as darkness took her.

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