Amateur ghost-hunter Perry Palomino has battled ghosts, fought off skinwalkers and skirted the fine line between life and death. But can she survive bunking down in Seattle for a week with her partner (and man she secretly loves) Dex and his perfect girlfriend, Jennifer? And can she do so while being tormented by a malicious spirit from Dex’s increasingly shady past? With love and life in the balance, Perry must discover the truth among the lies or risk losing everything she's ever cared about.
I closed the door behind me with nothing more than a gentle click and started walking down the hall back the way I came.
A loud POP came from behind me while the hall in front of me became a smidge darker. The loud and unexpected noise caught my breath and made me jump mid-stride. I stopped and stood still.
Another quick POP followed by another level of dimness. I turned around expecting to see someone but what I saw was the overhead lights at the very end slowly going off.
Pop. Pop. Pop. They were fizzling out and leaving the once-bright hallway in darkness, as if some invisible being was going along and removing the bulbs. I knew enough that the scenario wasn’t all that crazy.
The dark was catching up with me. I turned and started to run as quietly as possible, chalking it all up to faulty wiring on a stormy night. But as I neared the stairwell at the end, the stairwell lights went off and so did every other light in the hallway.
The darkness engulfed me. I paused, disoriented and scared out of my wits.
Thump, thump, thump.
The sound of footsteps raced toward me from the far end of the hallway. They didn’t sound quick but they were coming.
I ran blindly for the door and felt around for it until my hands connected with the handle. I yanked it. It wouldn’t open. The door had locked behind me. There was blackness outside and in. I whirled around, hearing the footsteps still coming, this strange, slow and sloppy run.
They stopped somewhere in front of me, maybe a few inches away. I held my breath. All I could feel was that terrifying notion that something was standing in the dark and watching me. Wanting me.
“Please let me die.” The voice from earlier came from down the hall.
“Yes, please let me die,” another voice came, this one closer to me and from the left.
“He let me die,” said one more. This one sounded familiar. This one wasn’t a human being, a patient in a room with no hope or normal life left. This one had an accent. This one was dead. It was coming from right in front of me.
I slowly stuck my arm straight out in front of me. I wanted to see how close it was. I waved it around but hit nothing.
Raucous laughter erupted from the rooms. It caught on like a wave, crashing down the hall until it was all I could hear. Insane, unforgiving, unrelenting laughter, the type that you’d hear being howled at the moon. It reverberated through the hallway until it forced me to cover my ears.
I thought about calling Dex. He could come down and let me out. I could tell him I went to look for the bathroom on this floor. I took one hand away from my ear and took out my phone, conscious of not crushing the vulnerable, secret meds in my pocket.
The lights above me suddenly came on with the sound of snapping wires and the low hum of a generator kicking in. The area just in front of me was illuminated, hurting my eyes. I could see again.
And there was nothing there.
The same went for the rest of the hallway. As each light went back on, it showed how empty the place was. And the laughter stopped along with it.
Until the end.
The last light went on.
There was a woman standing beneath the waxy light bulb. In the middle of the hall. Facing me. She was far enough away that I couldn’t make out her face. But I knew from the snakelike angle of her head that I didn’t want to.
She stood as still as night, not moving. Just facing me like a gunslinger during a standoff.
I slowly lifted up my hand that had the phone and dialed Dex while keeping my eyes on her.
She still hadn’t moved. But I knew it was misleading.
I put the phone to my ear and after a few rings (I could almost hear it ringing on the floor above) he answered.
“Perry? You OK?”
“I’m locked on the second floor,” I whispered. “Please come and let me out right now.”
“OK, one sec,” he said. I heard him hang up, a few footsteps from above and then the sound of the third-level door opening onto the stairwell. I breathed a sigh of relief, not taking my eyes off the figure at the end.
Which was good. Because she twitched. And now, she was moving, walking toward me, twice as fast as a normal person, almost gliding down the hall as if she were on skates.
Her arms were outstretched, her head wobbled back and forth with each quick stride, and a thick flow of blood flowed off of her, falling to the floor behind her like a red bridal train.
It happened so fast.
She was there.
And then she was in my face.
Author of The Experiment in Terror Series
Look for Book #5 - On Demon Wings - out May 13th, 2012
From April 16-20 Darkhouse will be FREE on the following sites!
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