Me and my buddy Frank on a night-time hike. We’re making our way through the woods when suddenly, an ear-piercing howl slices through the air. We stiffen in place and I slowly turn to him. “Did you hear that?” I whisper. In the faint light of the moon I see the whites of his eyes. “You bet your nuts,” he whispers back. Snatches of words float past our ears: “Fill a large pot with 14 cups water…” “Add onions, carrots, and celery…” “Season with salt and pepper…” My forehead wrinkles in puzzlement. I turn to Frank and see that he’s wearing the same perplexed expression as me. I say, “That sounds familiar…it sounds like…” Frank’s arm jerks up. He points over my shoulder and screams, “MARTHA F*CKIN’ STEW—” He doesn’t have time to finish. A blond, asymmetrical bob flashes by me and arrows into Frank. I see him collapse to the ground like he was just hit by Batman. His voice rises in an unintelligible cry before it’s replaced by a wet gurgle. Martha’s crouched on top of his lifeless body, ripping into him with hands that end in razor sharp talons. This isn’t the sweet, unassuming mom we’ve seen on our suburbia-affirming cooking shows; this is M. Diddy—the dark heart of Martha that arose from her stay in prison. I’m still frozen when she turns to me, Frank’s blood dripping down her chin. She snarls, revealing a triple row of fangs, and I see that her eyes have turned completely black. With shaking hands, I open my eReader to Echo. Magic flash. Suddenly, the harsh glow of helicopter spotlights slice through the woods. Over the rhythmic chop of rotors, a voice booms from a megaphone: “MARTHA, THIS IS THE SEC. SURRENDER YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY.” She raises her forearm to shield her eyes from the light, and hisses like a vampire in the sun. Machine gun fire pummels the earth around her, cracking and splintering through heavy underbrush. I see a passing glimpse of her darting into the woods, pursued by a strike team of Securities and Exchange Enforcers.
When you’re in the woods and you hear the sinister sounds of recipes being read like a death catechism, you had best be prepared. Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle