Past midnight, Chyna Sheperd, twenty-six, gazes out a moonlit window, unable to sleep on her first night in Napa Valley, where her best friend’s family lives For her, instinct proves reliable tonight. A murderous sociopath, Edgler Foreman Vess, has entered the house, intent on killing everyone
inside. A self-proclaimed “homicidal adventurer,” Vess lives only to satisfy all appetites as they arise in his way, to immerse himself in sensation, to live without fear, remorse, or limits, to live with intensity. Chyna is trapped in his deadly orbit.
Chyna is a survivor, toughened by a lifelong struggle for safety and self-respect. Now she is tested as never before. At first her sole aim to get out untouched and alive-until, by chance, she learns the identity of Vess’s next victim, a faraway innocent girl only she can save. Driven by a newly discovered thirst for meaning beyond mere self-preservation, Chyna musters every inner resource she has to save an endangered girl. Even though, moment by moment, the terrifying threat of Edgler Foreman Vess bearing down upon her intensifies.
Throughout this piece, I personally had one great realization: to appreciate everyone and everything around me. This chilling tale by Koontz makes the reader realize just how easily, recklessly, and quickly everything that a person holds dear in their life can be snatched away in all but an instant. A family is simply wiped out of existence by the act of one, powerfully evil man. Throughout my experiences in life, mostly the loss of my parents, I can even honestly say I still take my day to day life for granted.
All the while, the question “What if…?” rings menacingly in my mind, as I’m sure it does with everyone. Fill in the ellipses with anything utterly tragic and one could quite simply disregard the statement. However, what if that “something utterly tragic” did come to pass. How can one cope with the situation? Would you hide under the bed until it all blew over, or would you finally muster every ounce of courage in your body to just crawl out and try to help, even with a paralysis caused by sheer terror gripping all of your limbs.
It seemed madness to take this risk when safety was assured simply by her staying put. But personal safety at the expense of others was cowardice, and cowardice was a right only of small children who lacked the strength and experience to defend themselves. (Koontz 31)
Will you be the Chyna Sheperd who saved the imprisoned innocent? One can only wonder how to begin to deal with the situation. It was once said, “Life is precious,” the defense of the life the people in my life lead in my life is starting to be one of top priorities as of late. Whether it be reminding them to drive slow through the horrid weather of glorious Michigan or to stay away from the temptations that every high school student encounters, I feel good knowing that I’m watching out for my friends and family. If a Edgler Foreman Vess decides to enter my life, I will be ready. I will muster the courage to crawl out from underneath that bed, and chase down my fears and face them head on. I only hope to show half the courage, determination, and toughness that Chyna Sheperd had to overcome. The fear of my personal Vess will not stop me to fight for the little trapped girl in my life, whoever or whatever that girl is in my life. Also, on a minor note, justice reigns rightfully through, and a just demise for the villain occurs in this piece, whoever said that no crime goes unpunished
A tornado of blood-red fire whirled in his open mouth, dragon fire spouted from his nostrils, his face vanished behind an orange mask of flames, yet he came onward, stubborn as a sunset, screaming. Chyna pushed the girl behind her, but then Vess abruptly veered away from them, and it became clear to her that he hadn’t seen them. He was seared blind, chasing neither her nor Ariel but an undeserved mercy. In the middle of the highway, he fell across the yellow lines and lay there, jerking and twitching, writhing and kicking. On one level, Vess knew the fading scream was his own, but his suffering was so intense that bizarre thoughts flared through his mind in a blaze of delirium. Vess was very afraid in the strangeness of the consuming fire, and then he was not a man anymore but only an enduring darkness. (Koontz 427-428)