Excerpt from Soulfinder - Chapter One

When the tire blew, Faith knew she was in trouble.

Real trouble.

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 the ignition.

Nothing happened.

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 from home.

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.

Too fast. 

“Please, God,” Faith whispered, as she clutched the dog to her chest, “Keep us safe.”

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 truck did.

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 the car.

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. “What?”

“The engine. You didn’t leave it running, did you?”



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 phone.

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.

Soulfinder by Author Saraiah Faith Gracie, Copyright 2010