Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast

Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast

By:  Jonathan Winn  Completed
Language: English
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Eidolon Avenue: Where the secretly guilty go to die. One building. Five floors. Five doors per floor. Twenty-five nightmares feeding the hunger lurking between the bricks and waiting beneath the boards. The sequel to Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast (“a great read...powerful and jarring” - Cemetery Dance) returns to the voracious Eidolon as it savors The Second Feast. A narcoleptic man in apartment 2A battles a vengeful past determined to rob him of everything as he runs from the barbaric disaster of a delusional love. A woman in 2B, reinventing herself to please a callous boyfriend, discovers the horrors that wait in the shadows of her self-renovation. The man in 2C, a teacher at the nearby Catholic girl’s school, collapses beneath the brutal consequences of his lecherous desires. An older woman in 2D, after decades dedicated to the church, is cornered at last by the grisly carnage beating at the hollow center of her faith. And a college student in 2E, hungry to escape an ignored life of invisible anonymity, finds herself captured between the pages of a ravenous book. All thrown into their own private hell as every cruel choice, every drop of spilled blood, every silent, complicit moment of cowardice is remembered, resurrected and relived to feed the ancient evil that lives on Eidolon Avenue. ©️ Crystal Lake Publishing

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17 Chapters
PROLOGUE
PROLOGUEThere is a place on Eidolonthat stands five stories tall.Beyond locked doors,dreams dreamt no more,the tenants await their fall.And on this dayon “Eye-da-lon,”which waits five stories tall,vindication sweetfeeds the hunger repleteas the walls inside whisperLet’s eat.
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APARTMENT 1A
APARTMENT 1ALUCKYMonday, 3:24 PMIt’s said all of Shanghai wept when she died.It’s said over three hundred thousand marched in a funeral procession four miles long that blustery March day in 1935. It’s also said that somewhere in the sobbing throng several women committed suicide. Their silent screen Goddess, Ruan Lingyu, ending her life with a fistful of sleeping pills at the too-young age of twenty-four spawning a grief only death could calm.Whether or not myth wrestled with fact to become legend, and some claimed it did, everyone agreed this was a sad full stop to the short sentence of what might have been a glorious career.A week later, in one of the many squalid shacks that still hug the outskirts of Shanghai, an early birth followed this now iconic end, the young mother’s overwrought anguish shocking her into the delivery of a small, sickly daughter. A dangerous unlucky beginning for a dangerously lucky life.Or at least that’s what little Ruan Liu’s family said.Dec
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CHAPTER TWO
CHAPTER TWOIn a shining villa in the center of Shanghai, her thighs burning, her back aching, and her knees rubbed so raw they all but whimpered, Lucky kneeled, silent, waiting and more exhausted than any almost twenty-four year old should be.The Revolution had arrived almost a decade ago on the heels of a brief, bloody civil war. The Communist storm which had darkened the horizon for years had finally crept in and swept out the poor, the infirm, the religious. And now, outside the city, in the rural areas, thousands were dying in what was feared would be an historic famine. The old and weak falling first. Small children left to starve in the fields under the watchful eyes of hungry prey. The trees plucked of their leaves and stripped of their bark, the birds silent in their absence.But far from the devastation and desolation, Lucky worked.Her father dead and her mother dying, the family had abandoned Bad Luck Lucky. Closed their hearts, closed their pocket books, and closed th
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CHAPTER THREE
CHAPTER THREENestled in a pile cluttering the coffee table sat a discarded pouch of Lipton bleeding into the sunken oval of a porcelain saucer.“It’s good, isn’t it?” Evangelical said. She lowered the mug into a nearby abyss, the porcelain finding the saucer and a watery pool of its own russet-hued blood with a gentle clank.“It can fell armies,” Lucky heard herself saying.And raise kings, came the remembered words from Madame Xuo’s red room.The vengeful wraith of the woman with the white face and a slash of scarlet for lips waited opposite Lucky. From a small, low chair that had once sat in a distant past, she was near the window in the here and now, her eyes low, her tongue crawling with secrets and lies and things best left unsaid.“I’m sorry?” Evangelical said.Madame Xuo stared at Lucky, her knees not kneeling as they rested not on the grimy grey of a familiar carpet, but on ancient boards that were cracked, splintered and covered with dust. Nearby, Yin Ying stood too ta
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CHAPTER FOUR
CHAPTER FOURHer teeth were missing, she heard someone silently say, a girl from a distant, remembered conversation.Lucky’s tongue felt thick as it moved. Her teeth were safe and sound.She stood in a hall. A narrow hall. One with many doorways and an end that didn’t end, the long space leading to an unavoidable dark.The low table was gone. As was Yin Ying and the brazier. The dragon no longer whipped ‘round the baseboards and the wiggling of her flesh had quieted.The red remained. A haze that snuck along the floor, and climbed the walls, and ducked into the shadows hugging the ceiling.Lucky blinked, and then blinked again. Fingers flexed and her chest rose in a deep breath. Her mouth tasted of sick. And a sour burn stained her throat, stinging her nose when she swallowed.She’d drunk the tea. She remembered. She closed her eyes, the heat of the red room returning.A dragon chased its tail. Two clay pots waited. Madame Xuo sat silent and watching and dead. Then alive, bendi
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CHAPTER FIVE
CHAPTER FIVEBelow her, the waves of Hangzhou Bay slapped the pilings of the dock. Around her, men worked, barefoot, the thick denim of their pants rolled up to the knees. Or stood, smoking strong tobacco rolled in cheap paper.She needed help, but couldn’t speak. There’d been a hall. A narrow space with a low ceiling and many doors. The light was red. The walls reflected red. The floor more glowing red. Even the shadows waiting at what could be the end of the hall—for the hall had to have an end, yes?—were red.Madame Xuo had stood in a mountain of bodies. Arms without fists that flailed and hit. Crude legs that thumped the floor as they tried to crawl, and lift, and stand. Teeth too large for mouths that sliced faces in two. Gashes that still whimpered, still wept, still bled.And Madame had spoken. There’d been a warning, and then blood. But the air, it was cool and inviting. There’d been silence, then. And knowing what the future held, she’d stepped into the dark, the shade, th
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CHAPTER SIX
CHAPTER SIXWeeks passed.She kept to the alleys and dark corners of Central Shanghai. Silent and still, she’d stand, testing the shadow. Watching its limits, seeing its strength. Encouraging its growth.She’d watch it move as she did. Watched it stop when she stopped. She’d lift her arms and see it rise. Stretch her arms and watch it widen. She’d push her hands in front of her and grin as it stained the ground at her feet.It sighed when she wept. It laughed when she smiled. And fed by her frustration and a lifetime of bitter sadness, it strengthened as their shared anger grew.She learned that, with the move of a hand, she could make the stranger who walked like her father stumble and fall. She learned that, with a simple breath, she could make another stranger, a callous man with cruel eyes like the man from the dock, cough and reach for his throat, his face turning red as he struggled for air.Week after week, she and the shadow grew closer, their bond deepening, the two beco
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CHAPTER SEVEN
CHAPTER SEVENWe need to talk,” Evangelical had said, sudden, premature crow’s feet creasing the smooth corners as she narrowed her eyes.On Eidolon below, the crowd had grown. They stood, finding their forms. Heads tilted skyward. Arms hung, the fingers flexing into angry claws. Blood inched from between snarling teeth to spill over lips and drip onto chins.Inside where it was dry and warm, Lucky stared at Father. “You will call me ‘Lucky.’” He sat opposite her, dressed in a suit that shone silver in the grey light of this rainy day, dark glasses resting on the bridge of his sharp nose. He ignored her, pursing his lips as he thought, his cheekbones sharpening as he briefly sucked his cheeks in.Far from the past in which he’d lived and ruled, the watch on his wrist was still worth the salaries of ten families in Hong Kong. And the sheen of his still black hair, the oil making it look like a helmet squatting on top of his head, spoke of an American influence as did the American ci
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CHAPTER EIGHT
CHAPTER EIGHTIn a warehouse on the outskirts of Hong Kong, Lucky stood, fearless, unapologetic and ready for war.She’d risen too fast. One of the first women invited to officially join, she’d turned them down. “You work for me,” she’d famously said. And she was right. Her shadow made her untouchable. She could say no. She could argue with the Father and the Uncles, as the various leaders of this secret society that ruled Hong Kong and much of mainland China were called.She could do what she wanted. Ignore tradition and duty. Sit first, sip tea first, stand to leave first. Walk out the door when she wanted. No one, not even the most vicious, the most powerful, could even think of challenging her.Yet some did.Years ago an example was made. An example of what could happen if you dared strike Lucky or scream at Lucky or treat Lucky like any other worthless woman. An example that, in hindsight, terrified Lucky herself. One so ominous that it sent a chill down her spine that linger
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CHAPTER NINE
CHAPTER NINEIn the warehouse, shamans chanted and priests prayed. Scented smoke filled her lungs and somewhere someone was splashing Holy Water. In the shadows, Father and the Uncles stood.They were trying to take her shadow from her.It was working.She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t think clearly enough or quickly enough to fight. Every word they said lifted the dark. Every prayer they prayed peeled the shadow from her flesh. Every mutter and murmur and sigh stripped the shade from her soul.And it was agony. Her insides clenched. Her skin shrank to the bone. She fell forward, her arms wobbling as they supported her. Her face tensed. As if her eyes were being pulled from their sockets. Her tongue was swelling and her mouth tasted of blood. Her teeth felt like they were being pried from the safety of their homes. Her head was filled with the sound of a great wind, or a great ocean. A keening cry from the earth and the sky as she felt her flesh drawn inward an
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