TUESDAY, AUGUST 6, 1985
THE NIGHT was now still as the boy lay on his back. The ground beneath him littered with pine needles and broken branches of summer’s demise. The grass, which encircled him, swayed in the slight breeze. Its blades, interwoven in separate stages of breath and decay, bent and rose in a melody of submission. The moon, flush only two days before, shadowed as it succumbed to the end of its cycle.
If he could see, the boy would have noticed the stars above his head, effervescent in the cloudless sky as they shone majestically before withering into nothingness. If he could feel anything other than pain, he would have felt the breeze as it whispered across his bared chest.
But the boy knew none of this.
He saw only opaque nonexistence behind his swollen eyes. His perceptions were internal. His mind capable only of what was developing within him. And yet, ascending to the top, like the froth on the beer he had drank before all of this began, the voice of his sputtering heartbeat emerged. Its pace coexisting with the dry hum pulsating in his ears.
As he listened, the two sounds broke apart, the chant of each flowing in a different direction. And in a layer which encased them, another sound rose. An off-key piece of a song he couldn’t quite place floated somewhere in the distance.
He tried to make sense of what had taken place. Of how he came to be here. Fading thoughts of betrayal ran through him as he labored to stay alive.
His breath snagged.
Fear sliced through his brain. His mind shivered into fragments, shards of thoughts scattering like a shower of hypodermic needles. Dried tears, entwined with the blood seeping from the wounds beaten into his head, stained his battered face.
Although the boy wanted to move, he could not.
His life essence wept into the earth, after the pipe had crashed again and again into his body, after the blade plunged over and over into his chest. His left eye brutalized by the abuse. His throat ravaged, his lips, torn and bloated, his gums savagely inflamed, displaying empty hollow sockets where his teeth had been.
But all this the boy could endure. If he could rise above the suffering, he would survive.
Hope arrived as a whisper and blanketed his misery. It flowed into a quiet awareness, a liberation from the blackness he could see coming to greet him. He steadied himself for a deep inhale.
The boy felt his ribs rise.
He tried to swallow the blood and excess saliva which had pooled in his mouth. Something was in his throat.
His eyes shot open.
But the boy was oblivious to this; he remained sightless as his mind concerned itself only with the assailant now lodged inside his trachea.
He began to sink.
His bones no longer felt the plot of earth on which he lay. Colors and sounds whisked by as the boy tried to lift his arms to stop his descent. Blood surged through his lungs. His pulse grew deafening, relentless, drowning out the sounds escaping him as he struggled to inhale. Faces swam in his mind. Friends from school, his siblings, his parents. Memories popping up in brisk progression as he slipped further away.
Deeper into the blackness.
As his breathing moved in and out in a strand of stuttered hisses, a peculiar sensation overtook him. Its ambiance beckoning with the sensation of embracing a favorite childhood toy.
And silently, the boy let go.
Finding himself submerged inside this welcome cocoon of nothingness, the boy realized his suf
had dissolved. Here, in this new place, he could finally recognize the sounds coming from the darkness below.
There were only two.
The haunting words of Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast and laughter—the melody surrounding him as his friends walked away.
And on the dried August grass of a sparsely inhabited field north of Houston, Texas, a body lay.
Five Stars. "Are you a true crime fan? As someone who has always clung to the adage that truth is stranger than fiction, I certainly am. And when it comes to the content and characters in Out Here in the Darkness by Abra Stevens, I know that for some readers the truth in this book will not only be stranger than fiction but a lot harder to stomach. You can't just close this book and tell yourself "Good thing that never happened!"
With that warning in mind, prepare to be shocked and even somewhat nauseous when you read how on one summer night, five teens brutally murdered one of their peers in a field near a cemetery. Stevens does not spare the gory details. Not only is what these teens did abhorrent, but the events leading up to it and the group's justification of the act are repulsive.Out Here in the Darkness is a well-researched book that combines actual details of police efforts to find those responsible with specific court transcripts once they face the justice system for sentencing. But what elevates this true crime story above becoming a dry recording of facts is Stevens' ability to make these young criminals real people who have gone astray. Through the exchange of dialogue between the teens, and their likely personal reflections before and after the act, readers recognize that several of these teens were once just kids raised in anything but ideal circumstances.
Though their crime was monstrous, Stevens doesn't leave readers thinking of them as monsters. Abra Stevens' interest in the psychology of these murderers is shown most toward the end where the author devotes several chapters to exploring one of them, Mike Cravey, as he serves his 33-year prison sentence. This section is most enlightening, and readers who care more about the whys than the whats behind violent acts like the one depicted will think about those whys long after they close the book." - Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
"In Out Here in the Darkness , Abra puts you at the scene of a brutal murder and then she lets you experience what is going on with the group of killers, as other crimes unfold. As the police investigation begins, the reader becomes part of the investigation team trying to bring the perpetrators to justice. You are next placed in the courtroom as the trials precede. And finally, you are placed in the position to make your own judgment regarding true justice." - Earl Musick, retired Lieutenant, Houston Police Department and retired, Harris County Assistant District Attorney
"Abra spent many months and drove many miles researching these tragic crimes. She writes with such detail that she takes you to the scene of the crimes with her literary skills!!" - Dan McAnulty, retired Captain, Houston Police Department.
"Out Here Into the Darkness, by the amazing Abra Stevens, is a kaleidoscopic cocktail of true crime storytelling, psychological profiling and pop culture commentary all set to a heavy metal soundtrack of teenage angst and traumatic events taking place in 1980s Texas. An alluring read that leaves you thinking about both the story AND the facts long after you've put the book down, I highly recommend this tale to anyone looking for something just wonderfully different enough to read it more than once!" - Jaysen Buterin, The Mad Ones Films, Beta reader.
"Disturbing, Shocking, Mind Blowing and Gripping, Out Here in the Darkness, Abra Stevens horrifying debut novel of misguided teens, will stun any fan of the true crime genre and gratify readers who like a well written tale. If there was ever a book that made you feel like a "fly on the wall," this is the one! Not only is Stevens story extremely well researched, the dialogue, the interviews, well-organized, it's the special attention to detail that transforms a person back to the mid 80's to a virtual movie-set in your mind. So well written, exciting and with some original surprises, we can only hope that Stevens has more tales to tell!" - John Miller, Beta reader.