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  • Writer's pictureBrianna Sugalski

SERIES SNEAK PEEK: The Soul Seekers, by Alice J. Black

This week, you can relive Peyton's dark and whimsical ventures with the dead in Alice J. Black's Soul Seekers series! The 10-novel series will be available in its entirety with a box set on Tuesday—here's a sneak peek of Alice's prequel, Leak of Madness...

Leak of Madness (Soul Seekers #0.5), by Alice J. Black

My eyes opened in the dawn with no need of a clock. My body was timed perfectly and most of my mornings started before the sun rose.

I blinked once, twice, and cleared the sticky glue from my eyes with the heel of my hands.

My head pounded with a dull ache at the base of my skull and as I pushed myself up on my elbows, my stomach churned. I sucked in a deep breath, hoping to settle the nausea until I could sort myself out. But all I did was inhale a lungful of thick cloying air that came with the acrid taste of smoke; I knew that the smell had mostly dissipated by now—maybe it was a visceral reaction because I knew what happened here.

I knew exactly where I was. A knot formed in the center of my stomach, hard and hot.

As I sucked in another breath through my mouth, I coughed and retched, turning onto my side as bile spewed from my throat in a hot torrent. It hit the floor and splashed back against the surface. Groaning, I wiped the flecks from my cheeks. My stomach cramped and my throat burned with the acidic taste. I retched again, my belly bucking as it tried to rid itself of the poison. My vision blurred again as stars swam across the forefront of my mind, unconsciousness dangerously close. Then it passed and I was able to breathe again. My vision returned.

Finally, when my body ceased its assault and my sight cleared enough, my mind recoiled from the vomit on the floor and instead returned to the stink that clung to the inside of my nostrils. I knew with a prickling sense of dread exactly where I was.

The funeral parlour.

I’d lived there my whole life. Not in the funeral parlour, itself, but above it. That was until a fire ravaged it…my parents still inside.

I pushed myself to a sitting position, my legs dangling where they didn’t reach the floor. I dropped my head into my hands, closing my eyes while I waited for the dizziness to stop completely. It had been a long time since I threw up the morning after going on a bender. My body was so used to the abuse I put it through on a daily basis that it rarely protested when I woke anymore. Instead, it hungered for more.

When my head finally cleared, I lifted it to take in my surroundings properly.

I was in the morgue beneath the main building. I found myself on a metal slab. A table that had seen thousands of bodies passing over it. How fucked up was this? Around me, I recognized the familiar body lockers. They used to be kept cold but now they were turned off, the familiar buzz of the giant fridge gone, replaced by thick silence. In front of me, I saw a metal bench, some of the tools still littered there.

I groaned and shook my head. I’d woken up in my old house plenty of times since the fire and was declared unsafe, but never in the morgue.

The house had suffered badly. The funeral parlour, where guests were seen, was ravaged and our family home above had been incinerated, most of our belongings gone. But the morgue itself was left mostly untouched by the fire that had raged through the house.

The fact that I had woken up on a slab where hundreds of dead bodies had said their final farewell made me sick. The fucking morgue. Like a premonition of my death.

The sour whiff of my own vomit caught my nose again and I groaned. It had been a while since my last drink…hours. I could already feel the knot in my stomach tighten. The anxiety that I felt every time I wondered where my next drink would come from. It wouldn’t be long until the symptoms really kicked in. I had to get out of there.

I slid down from the bench, avoiding the puddle of spew, and rolled my neck. So much for that old saying, sleep like the dead. I felt like I’d been bundled into a box and lain there for hours. Everything ached. I stretched my arms out above me, working out the kinks as I tried to ignore the tremors beginning in my hands. That’s how it always started. The withdrawal. And it would only get worse.