A fatal car crash. The sole survivor. And the dark hooded stranger that wants her dead.
When a terrible accident—not accident—stole my parents’ lives, my whole perfect life changed. My memories are hazy, and there are scars on my wrists. I’ve been locked away for my own protection…until I prove my sanity, until I lie. There was no hooded figure on the road that day, no one standing over me as I lay paralyzed watching my parents burn.
I am Cassidy Lockheart…20-year-old orphan.
Determined to free my caged mind, I find myself far away on an unexpected trip to help return my forgotten past. The snow was part of my life before, but now it’s like a blank slate, until an avalanche changes everything. But I’m not alone. These other ‘lucky’ trip winners may not be the strangers they pretend to be. And my hooded attacker…I see him everywhere.
Is this real? Or delusion caused by head trauma?
Either way, I’m being watched. I can sense it. I can feel it. Someone is after me; maybe they’re after us all. The avalanche was no accident. It was staged to deliver us to this abandoned place. A place where the walls whisper dark secrets of a sinister past…a past no one can escape. Trapped, this snow won’t let up…it won’t let us leave. My lost memories hold clues, but they’re buried so deep, polluted and twisted in my every waking nightmare. What is real? I don’t have the answers. But I need them. Time is ticking and if I don’t figure this all out soon it will be too late.
The past is coming for us all…and it wants blood.
Warning – This book contains some graphic scenes that are only for an adult audience.
Psychological Thriller / Horror
“Think of the tension of Silence of the Lambs combined with the horror of Carrie and you have Nerve Damage. This is a psychological thriller that won’t let you put it down, yet you are almost too scared to turn the page!”
Diane Richmond (devoted bookworm) ★★★★★
This chilling tale from J.L. Myers is a suspenseful and twisted addition to other great psychological thrillers from the likes of Sarah A. Denzil, K.L. Slater, and Dot Hutchison.
“What do you mean there?” I looked down at the large rundown dwelling, my lungs feeling unexplainably tighter. When I panned back across the others, I saw mirroring staid expressions across their faces before setting my frown on Jill. “You know this place?”
Jill shook her head, blond strands of hair that had escaped her plaits now dusted with frost. “No. Of course not. It’s just the…the place looks creepy. Haunted even.”
“There are no such things as ghosts,” Katherine said with a shake of her head, patting Jill’s shoulder while still holding on to Brad’s other side.
Brad, unlike the others, appeared relieved at the find. “Despite the look of it, I’d rather wait out indoors than out here in the fucking elements. I need to get off this damn leg too.”
Stan’s unfocused eyes shot from the white expanse below and up at Brad’s words. “Might even have power and food. It’s worth a look.” He began slowly down the hill with Katherine’s help to drag Brad along. He called back over his shoulder at us. “Take the long way around, unless you feel like a dip in that iced-over lake.”
My mouth gaped as I studied the wide expanse separating us from our surprise shelter. If Stan hadn’t said anything I’d never have known. “How do you know there’s a lake?”
Instead of answering, Stan let out a grunt as Brad swore and Katherine squeaked. Not even fifteen yards diagonally down the hill, they’d hit a soft patch.
“The whole way around is going to be a snow trap,” Jeremy called out as the others clambered out of the snow. “We’re going to have to cross the lake.” His gaze narrowed at a shivering Jill then at me. His lips twitched as he nodded up at the horizon where only an orange hue glowed with failing strength between the treetops and the blackening sky. He shrugged his shoulders with a deep sigh. “We don’t have a choice. We can’t stay out here.”
When he began after the others, Jill took off to keep up as if being alone out here with the fall of darkness and the rising chill, compared to where we were headed, was suddenly too much to take on.
I hesitated, watching after the five of them as they fought the soft snow and whipping wind to reach the concealed lake. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I couldn’t shake the shiver up my spine. Something felt wrong. But what were my options? Stay outside and freeze to death, or seek refuge until we could send out for help or chance our luck over the fallen snow to get back to the resort?
“Wait up!” I followed them down the hill, gaining on Jeremy and Jill who still clutched her arm. The snow below us seemed to thin out as I kept my focus on the growing facade of weathered wood on the two-story-plus-attic chalet. There was at least one chimney I could see. “Maybe there’s a wood stack inside. We could build a fire…” I shuddered at the flash of spitting flames and remembered shrieks as my mom burned. I struggled to keep my breath normal as I gasped. “Ah…except I don’t have a lighter or matches.”
Jeremy faced me while continuing to walk backward. “Lucky for us I packed matches.” He patted his backpack. “They’re in a watertight—”
“Ahh!” Jill’s cry cut Jeremy off but didn’t drown out a loud crack. And then she was gone. Swallowed by the ground.
“What the hell?” The snow had thinned and even hardened. We were on a buried build-up of ice.
I went to rush forward without thinking, but Jeremy caught my arm and yanked me back a few steps. “Cassidy, no!” he rushed as more cracks rang out. I felt one beneath my feet as I stared at the place Jill had disappeared from. “She fell through the ice.”
Through the falling specks of white, I saw it. A jagged cut with thick edges marked a hole in the snow, white specks disturbing the surface that looked like a rippling mirror. “We have to help her!”
“I know. We will.”
More cracks sounded and Katherine cried out as Stan tugged Brad and her back. “If we come back we’ll all sink.”
“Cowards,” I muttered, pulling free of Jeremy’s grip. A gurgled shriek cut the icy air as a hand bobbed out from the hole. My eyes were pleading. “What do we do?”
Jeremy lowered his backpack gently and I copied, cringing as more cracks forked out like hairline fractures along the ice we’d cleared in our retreat. “Follow my lead. It’s just like the soft snow. Larger surface area.”
We both got down on all fours, then our bellies, using our hands and feet to propel us slowly forward. With each foot closer that hand bobbed up again. Only one…because she couldn’t use the injured one? Was she getting paler? It was hard to tell in the fading light. Her cries as her head broke the surface were getting shorter, quieter. But we were almost there. One more foot…
A louder crack made us freeze. I’d felt the vibration, close but not beneath me. “Jeremy…”
“I can’t go any further. But you’re almost there.”
I was in this alone. Jill’s life was in my hands. Her fingertips were on the jagged hole’s edge, her head was just above the water. “Help me, please. I can’t die here. I escaped. I got out. Don’t let me—”
Her head dipped below the water as her fingertips slipped from the edge. I scampered forward, heart pounding and fear peaking as cracks threatened to swallow me too. Biting off one glove I plunged my hand into the water and felt—nothing. My hand pulled from the freezing cold. There was nothing to see but black ripples as bubbles floated up. “Jill!”
I went to plunge my whole arm down into the depths and froze like a statue. A hand had broken the surface. Large, masculine, and blue. It wasn’t Jill’s. I gasped. “What the hell…”
“Grab her!” Jeremy called out as the hand sank back down.
But I couldn’t move as my skin crawled like it was alive with flesh-eating bugs. I couldn’t comprehend what I’d just seen.
Sudden movement revealed Jeremy scrambling despite the fresh cracks, but he was too late. And yet he didn’t stop, shoving me back as he dove head first into the hole. And then he was gone too, a splash left in his wake.
Shock, confusion, and everything else abandoned, I dared to meet the edge, hearing the frantic voices from the rest of our group carried on the wind as I stared. I had to do something. I had to—
Jeremy’s head broke the surface with a gasp. His lips were already blue. “I can’t find her. I’m going back—”
The edge he gripped snapped off and he plummeted down below the surface.
My soaked and freezing arm plunged back down, the cold like being stabbed with a million needles. But he wasn’t there as I flailed my arm around like a lifeline. There was nothing to grip onto. My arm came free, eyes searching the disturbed black pool when I heard a dim thudding.
Instincts drove my actions, and I followed the sound on all fours until I felt the vibration—right beneath me. I shoved the snow back from the icy surface. Jeremy was below, hair gravity free and lips pinned as his face squeezed with lacking oxygen. Panic had a tight hold of me, but then I saw something…another face. A boy’s with light blond hair and scared features. Suddenly not below the water but in my mind and above the surface, he pulled the hand of another kid from the water. “I won’t let you go,” the boy promised as he hauled with all his might.
Vanishing without explanation, Jeremy’s face now all I saw, I felt the fear I’d seen on that boy’s face deep in my gut. I had to save him. I couldn’t let him go. I had…there had to be something. I glanced around frantically. The others were too far away, still screaming words at me I couldn’t make sense of with the thumping in my ears. Then I saw something closer. Our backpacks. I slid a few feet across the ice to them, but as I tore through the main zippers and rummaged, spilling clothing and croissants, I found nothing hard or big enough to work as a hammer to break the ice.
Mind racing as I scampered back, I felt a twinge of relief to see his face where I’d left him. Jeremy was still alive, but I could see the twitching across his face. In seconds his body would force him to breathe. To take in a lungful of water. And I couldn’t let that happen. I needed… I patted down my body knowing I had nothing…until I got to my boots. Heavy and with square edges across the front made to clip into skis.
I tore the clips open, cutting my frozen fingers on the latches. Then I tugged one boot free. “Watch out!” I screamed, hoping he could hear my warning as I held the boot high above my head. Then I drove it down. Once. Twice. Third time—crack! I hit four more times, ignoring the forking cracks beneath me as I widened the hole. “Jeremy!” I cried out when I was done.
But I couldn’t see him.
My hand delved in deep, all the way to my armpit, and I blindly searched the—
Someone snatched hold of my wrist, and I jerked up at the shock. Then I saw his face. “Jeremy!” Tipping back on my butt, I used all my strength to pull him up and out, sweating and cursing until he came free with a grunt of power to land on top of me. He rolled straight off, landing on his side, spluttering water and gasping for air.
After a few long minutes he rolled onto his back, still struggling for breath as I sat beside him and stared at the death I’d just pulled him from. The others were still calling out, but I didn’t have the energy to respond. Didn’t have the brainpower to care what they knew at this point. Because the outcome was clear in who was sitting next to me and who wasn’t. “She’s gone, isn’t she? Jill’s…gone.”
Jeremy levered up beside me, water squeezing from his clothes as the front compressed. His cheeks were red, but his lips were still a horrible shade of blue. “I…I saw her. I tried to grab her but she was too low. Sinking. She wasn’t moving…”
In her teen years, Jessica spent many school hours writing poetry and dark short stories and took up sketching some of the terrifying things that came from the graphic night terrors she’d grown up with.
As an adult and after meeting the love of her life, Jessica got married and started a small construction business with her husband. With the birth of her son, Jessica suffered PPD and found escape in her books and their fantasy landscapes. It was at this time that her need to write flourished. In 2009 the decision was made and the first words to her New Adult Paranormal Romance novel What Lies Inside were written.
When Jessica isn’t immersed in writing about extraordinary characters with dangerous abilities and deadly obstacles to overcome, she likes to spend time with her two kids and husband, curl up with a good book, or watch anything and everything supernatural.