Excerpt from Soulfinder - Chapter One
When the tire blew, Faith knew she was in
She drove for at least another mile, on the
rim, at about four mile an hour, hoping
against hope that she would get somewhere,
anywhere. Suddenly the car lurched, probably
because her foot slipped off the clutch in
between first and second gear, and then the
engine died. She immediately slammed the
clutch to the floor and turned the key in
She tried again, pumping the gas slightly,
but there was nothing. No sputtering, no
clicking, no sound of any kind.
This could not be happening.
Sitting in the near dark on a curvy mountain
road somewhere off of California’s Highway
One, Faith knew she was in over her head.
It was dusk, probably closer to dark than
dusk, but she didn’t want to think about
that. She didn’t even know where she was.
She quickly reached around and locked all
four car doors, then took a deep breath and
tried not to panic. A game plan was needed
and hysteria was not going to help that. She
had a spare, probably even a jack, but she
had no idea how to change a tire. And even
if by some miracle she figured it out, it
wouldn’t do her much good to have four
working tires on a dead car. She needed
help, plain and simple. Having a cell phone
would be nice right about now, but she’d
lost it somewhere between here and Ohio.
“This is great,” she muttered. “Why doesn’t
someone just stamp helpless female
across my forehead?”
She looked out the window to the left. There
was nothing but dense, over populated trees
clawing their way up the side of the
mountain. She looked to the right. That
would be the edge of the cliff. There was
air, and not much else. Facing forward
again, she stared blankly out the windshield
and wondered how long she’d been sitting
here, because there already seemed to be
less daylight. She didn’t even have a
flashlight. A real world-class traveler. She
turned to dig through the jumbled disaster
of the back seat and found the map, though
finding it did her little good. The car, a
1988 Chevy Nova, was long since without its
dome light. After a few minutes of intense
squinting in the dark, she tossed the map
aside. It was useless.
Faith tried the car again, three times more,
and was met with the same response each
time. It was definitely dead. She slumped
back in her seat and felt the cold fingers
of fear creeping up to squeeze her
diaphragm. She turned to face her traveling
companion, a black and silver German
shepherd, who simply sat and looked at her.
He didn’t have an answer to their dilemma,
but his presence was still a great comfort.
At least she wasn’t completely alone.
But they were three thousand miles away
California. She never should have come. The
entire trip had been nothing but one
mishap-filled adventure after another. Four
days of travel, living on granola bars and
water, sleeping in the car at rest areas,
all to come and surprise a friend who wasn’t
even here. Brilliant.
Faith stared at the map as it lay crumpled
up on the floor in front of the dog,
watching it blur as her eyes filled with
tears. So much for sightseeing. She should
have been paying closer attention to where
she was going. She didn’t even know what the
name of this road was.
After feeling sorry for herself for about
thirty seconds, she forced the tears back
and sat up. She was not going to give in to
this. She looked at the dog. “You want to
get out and stretch your legs?”
He perked up considerably, so Faith
unbuckled his doggie seatbelt and opened her
door. He was on his way across her lap when
she suddenly put an arm up to stop him.
“Wait a minute.”
Maybe she shouldn’t get out of the car. She
was stranded, a very long way from home, and
no one knew where she was. Anything could
happen and it wasn’t difficult to imagine
the worst. Some psycho-maniac could grab her
and whisk her away to some God-forsaken
place, never to be seen or heard from again.
She was lost, in the soon to be dark, in the
middle of nowhere, with no cell phone, no
flashlight, no self defense skills, she was
a woman and she was alone.
She was the perfect victim.
The tears were coming back quickly now. She
took a few more deep breaths. The dog. She
had the dog. He would do his best to
protect her if she needed it, she knew he
would. He currently sat looking bewildered
as to why she had said the word out
and he was still in the car. Faith tried to
keep her imagination in check, but she had
no idea what to do. She’d been sitting here
for nearly half an hour now and not a single
car had gone by.
The Nova was stopped in a dangerous area.
Like most mountain roads, this one was full
of curves. She took another good look out
the passenger side window. There was nothing
there to offer protection from the side of
the mountain, not even a guardrail, and it
looked like a pretty rough ride going down.
It probably wasn’t a good idea to be sitting
in the car if someone came flying around the
curve behind her. Besides, civilization
might be right around the corner, and it was
getting darker by the minute.
Faith got out of the car. Happily, the dog
followed. After reaching back inside to
switch on the vehicle hazard lights, she
collected her keys, her purse, the dog’s
leash and her backpack. It already contained
the bare necessities for both of them. After
double checking that all four doors were
locked, she left the car behind and
hesitantly began to walk in the direction
she had been driving.
She hadn’t gone more than fifteen feet when
she heard a car coming.
Terror stricken, Faith froze, her mind
racing. God only knew who was in that
vehicle. Should she hide? Or flag them down?
It could be a Good Samaritan. It could just
as easily be a serial killer. She tried to
fight her fear, but at the last minute it
got the best of her and she dashed to the
side of the road to hide in the brush,
pulling the dog down with her. The car, or
truck by the sound of it, was coming fast.
“Please, God,” Faith whispered, as she
clutched the dog to her chest, “Keep us
The words barely escaped her lips when she
heard the horrible, ear splitting screech of
brakes hit hard. The tires smoked, skidded,
strained against the weight of the vehicle,
and it was almost enough, but not quite. It
was a truck, a Dodge Ram four wheel drive
dually to be exact, and it hit the Nova with
a loud THUNK.
Faith watched in absolute horror as her car
was pushed over the edge of the mountain.
Her breath began to come in ragged gasps.
Wincing, she listened to the muffled sounds
of her car forcing its way through the thick
foliage down the side of the mountain. After
a thunderous crunching sound and more than a
few loud pops, all fell silent. The car had
struck something large, probably a tree.
Thank God they had gotten out when they did.
Her heart was pounding frantically in her
chest, but she knew she couldn’t keep
hiding. She had to see if anyone in the
truck was hurt. She stepped out onto the
road at the same time the driver of the
He saw her in the beams of his headlights
and quickly walked toward her, obviously as
shocked as she was. “Was that your car?”
Wide eyed, Faith nodded.
“Is there anyone in it?”
He stared at her. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” She blinked. “Are you?”
“Um, yeah. I think I’m fine.”
He was visibly shaken, but appeared
uninjured. Though Faith couldn’t see him
well in the dark, he appeared to be young,
maybe late twenties, and he was tall with
broad shoulders. She watched as he nervously
raked a hand through his hair, trying to
come to terms with what had just happened.
He walked back to his truck, retrieved a
flashlight, and then went over to look for
Faith walked up to stand beside him. Her
anxiety went straight through to the dog and
he sniffed at both the air and the man
beside them cautiously. The car had gone
down about thirty feet. Its hazard lights
blinked up at them pathetically.
This was unbelievable.
As Faith stared at her car, she began to
shake. A flat tire was one thing, but this?
This was something out of a nightmare. She
was alone, didn’t know where she was, didn’t
know who she was standing beside, and her
car was stuck on the side of a mountain.
What did one do when one’s car was stuck on
the side of a mountain?
“Was the engine turned off?”
She filched at the sound of his voice.
“The engine. You didn’t leave it running,
He turned and walked back to his truck.
Faith stared after him, and then sank down
to sit on the side of the road. She noted
how his dome light popped on when he opened
his door. How nice. He retrieved a jacket
from his truck and brought it to her.
Wordlessly, she took it from him and put it
on. Then he left the flashlight with her and
went back to the truck to get his cell
Dome light, flashlight and cell phone. Well,
wasn’t he just Mr. Resourceful? It appeared
that he had everything under control. It
also appeared that he was going to try and
help her. It was nice that he hadn’t simply
driven away and left her here. Just as long
as he wasn’t an axe-murderer.
Faith continued to watch him as he stood
next to his truck and made a call. She hoped
he was calling the police to report the
accident. Of course, maybe he was calling
his family first, that was a possibility. Or
his partner in crime. If it was the latter
of the two, she could easily imagine how the
conversation might go: Yeah, I got a real
good one this time. I knocked her car right
off the cliff. I’ll bring her home just as
soon as I get her tied up.
He finished his call and reached back inside
the truck. When he emerged again, Faith held
the light up on him. He glanced over at her
curiously, but she didn’t lower the light.
Not until she was reasonably sure he wasn’t
packing any duct tape.