Vicious Rumer, page 1
Praise for Vicious Rumer
‘Brutal, stylish and relentless, Vicious Rumer is a blistering read’ – Chris Whitaker, author of All The Wicked Girls
‘This dark, twisting tale never does what you expect. Rumer is a strong, relentless heroine fighting the odds’ – CJ Daugherty, author of The Echo Killing
‘Razor sharp. A savage YA journey in the vein of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series’ – Lucas Maxwell, UK Librarian of the Year 2017
‘Unpredictable, brutal, and utterly compelling’ – A Fantastical Librarian
‘A gripping and moody psychological thriller. It’ll keep you up all night’ – Closer
‘A rare treat. Rumer is dark, demented and dangerous to know. I can guarantee you’ll love her, just pray you never ever meet her’ – The Eloquent Page
‘One of the best YA thrillers I’ve read this year. You’ll want to tell everybody about Vicious Rumer’ – Bookmark That
‘I loved Vicious Rumer so much! Impossible to put down and Rumer is one of the best female protagonists I’ve ever read. Think Jessica Jones meets Ellen Ripley!’ – Between The Pages
‘Clever and compelling… A must read’ – Set the Tape
‘If you’re looking for a no-holds-barred thriller, look no further. Vicious Rumer boasts a Luther-ish kind of noir that makes for a loaded, dark story’ – The Roaring Bookworm
‘A pulse-pounding read full of action, danger and violence’ – Book Reviews By Lynn
‘Dark, twisted and totally engrossing. Vicious Rumer reaches beyond the page and yanks the reader in. What a thrill!’ – Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen mystery series
‘Deftly blends horror and classic noir for a gripping mystery with an unhinged heroine’ – Erin Callahan, author of The Art of Escaping
‘A twisty, action-packed supernatural Maltese Falcon recasting Sam Spade with Lisbeth Salander’ – Troy H. Gardner, co-author of the Mad World series
About the Author
Joshua Winning is an author and film journalist who writes for Total Film, SFX and Radio Times. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog, devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead and sat on the Iron Throne while visiting the Game Of Thrones set in Dublin. Jeff Goldblum once told him he looks a bit like Paul Bettany.
A geek at heart, Joshua grew up watching Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story on repeat, and was raised on a steady diet of Whedon, Cameron and Lucas. His literary heroes include Robin Jarvis, Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier. As a journalist, he has interviewed some of the most exciting names in the film industry, including Jodie Foster, Ryan Reynolds, Charlize Theron and Christopher Lee. He dreams of getting Sigourney Weaver to yell ‘Goddammit!’ at him one day. Joshua’s dark fantasy series The Sentinel Trilogy is published by Peridot Press.
This edition first published in 2018
6th Floor Mutual House, 70 Conduit Street, London W1S 2GF
All rights reserved
© Joshua Winning, 2018
The right of Joshua Winning to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
ISBN (eBook): 978-1-912618-01-9
ISBN (Paperback): 978-1-912618-00-2
Design by Mecob
Printed in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives Plc
Dear Reader Letter
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Praise for Vicious Rumer
About the Author
Dear Reader Letter
CHAPTER THREE TWO DAYS BEFORE THE HAMMER
CHAPTER SEVEN FOUR YEARS BEFORE THE HAMMER
CHAPTER NINE TWO DAYS BEFORE THE HAMMER
Article from Crystal Visions magazine
THE DEAD ROOM
CHAPTER ELEVEN TWO DAYS BEFORE THE HAMMER
CHAPTER TWELVE FOUR YEARS BEFORE THE HAMMER
CHAPTER FOURTEEN ONE DAY BEFORE THE HAMMER
Article from The Sunday Times
CHAPTER NINETEEN ONE DAY BEFORE THE HAMMER
CHAPTER TWENTY THE DAY OF THE HAMMER
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE TWO YEARS BEFORE THE HAMMER
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO THE DAY OF THE HAMMER
Article from The Sun
CHAPTER THIRTY TWO YEARS BEFORE THE HAMMER
THE CROOK SPEAR
With grateful thanks to Mike Duley who helped to make this book happen.
I’ve killed more people than I can count but I never meant to. I’m not a murderer. Not in the way you’re thinking, because I never wanted to kill anybody. Not really.
People have spat threats at me for years.
You’re dead, Rumer !
You just bought a one-way ticket to hell!
I am SO going to kill you!
But they don’t mean it. They can’t know what it’s like to end somebody’s life, and when it’s over, it’s over. That’s how it seems to me. No pearly gates. No chorus of angels. They put you in the ground, heap dirt on the box. Life goes on.
The people I killed, I couldn’t help it.
Remember that when I tell you what comes next.
I’m holding a hammer. It’s already bloody and the guy in the chair is screaming. When he’s not screaming, he’s sobbing like a baby. Like he needs his mummy, but mummy’s not here and I figure if I shatter a few more bones, he’ll remember that.
The sight of him makes my gut spasm.
No. Be angry. Angry because he should be talking by now. Not making me do this. I’m so exhausted I’d disintegrate if he threw a punch but he doesn’t have that option with his hands bound up in masking tape.
‘Rumer, enough. You don’t want him to pass out.’
The voice comes from over my shoulder. Gruff and male. I barely register it. Everything has an unreal quality, like the cellar has no air and the floor’s a bog of sucking cement.
Besides, I know what I’m doing. This is what it takes, right? I’ve been messed around, dragged halfway to hell and back, and all I need is for this guy to talk. Surrender a black pearl of information. Then I can drop the hammer and try to forget what I did to his face.
The guy’s a mess. He’s bound up in the chair, beaten beyond recognition, his shirt and jeans soaked with sweat and blood. Some of it’s on my hoodie but I try to ignore it. Because none of this is real, right? I’m daydreaming, or night-dreaming, and soon I’ll wake up with springs in my back and the leaky ceiling of my flat above me.
Except he’s looking at me. One eye’s puffy and closed up, like it can’t bear to watch any more. I don’t blame it. I probably look half mad. Sweat plasters my hair to my face and I’m shaking, static crackling in my ears.
I have to do this. I have to.
The growl rumbles up from my gut. ‘Tell me what she wants and I’ll stop.’
The thought that she’s after me nearly sends me crazier than I already am. She’s on her way now. I know it. Clutching cursed pendants and muttering hexes and seeking me out in the night, determined to undo me. Unmake me.
If I let that happen, none of this will matter.
‘Tell me what she wants!’ My voice is a shriek and he may be a mess on the outside, but he can tell I’m a mess on the inside.
The non-closed-up eye rolls in its socket, focuses on me. The guy spits blood at the floor. Some of it gets on my boot.
And for the first time I think I might kill somebody on purpose.
Two things about me:
1. I never looked for trouble a day in my life.
2. Trouble always, always finds me.
TWO DAYS BEFORE THE HAMMER
The back of the van is as cold as a meat locker and so dark I can’t see. It wants to eat me. The dark. I’ve spent long enough in dark places to know. I’m slumped against the freezing metal and the van shakes me like it’s trying to digest me, but I’m being stubborn and just sitting here, knees drawn up to my chest and trying to
The dark’s so complete that, when I first came to, I thought I was underground. Buried deep. Soil cramming into my mouth. The nightmare I’ve had since I was a kid. My first instinct was to choke it down, fight the clawing panic, surrender to the shadows, but that would have meant giving in, and Rumer Cross is no fucking coward.
I cough but there is no soil in my throat. I’m not in the ground. The back of the van’s echoey and so cold my fingers are numb, and I’m here because of him.
The man in the street asked for a light then he knocked mine out. I was outside my place and I saw the fist coming, but I didn’t move in time. He must have bundled me into the van I saw at the kerb. The engine grumbles somewhere behind me and, as annoyance hollows out my gut, I spy a hairline crack of light where the rear doors must be.
My head pounds and I go to scratch fingers through my hair, but they won’t move. My wrists are bound behind me.
‘Guy’s a pro,’ I mutter.
What does he want? And why the hell didn’t I duck when he made a knuckle sandwich with his hand? That one I can answer; I didn’t duck because nobody ever looks twice at me. I’m used to slithering around invisibly because I’m a shadow.
And I’m only half being dramatic. I’ve learnt to get by unnoticed – not that there’s anything that noticeable about me anyway. I could be any twentysomething city chick, my jeans a little rattier, my home-cut black hair more tangled, always getting in my face, which is a sun-shy kind of pale. Kids at school called me ‘Oddzilla’ and ‘Tumour’ thinking it would hurt me. Fuck them.
That punch hurt, though. My mouth feels weird. Numb and… big. Swollen. The guy must have a serious collection of rings. I run my tongue over my teeth and taste metal. A jag of pain shoots through my gum. One of them is broken.
Forget the teeth.
I can’t remember what the guy looks like. It was raining and my hood was up, so I didn’t see him until he was right by me and, when he asked for a light, the rain got in my eyes.
He caught me at a bad time. I’d lost the guy I was shadowing and I was in a foul mood.
JOSHUA WINNING SERIES:
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