Come. Take me by the hand and walk with me. Together we will explore horrible secrets and terrible truths. It will be a dark and thrilling trip into some very scary places. You will meet a young boy whose tragic death earns him an invitation to the greatest party of the year. You will find yourself in a world where an eleven year old girl can’t stop grieving the loss of her beloved pet until late one night she bears witness to an unspeakable atrocity that finally eases her pain. You might sympathize with a neglected child so desperate for attention he takes matters into his own hands by casting a spell on his sister’s favorite toy. For those of you that may be thinking that these tales are for young readers only, you’re DEAD wrong. I promise a disquieting scare for all horror fans. You may forever see the world in a different light. A dark light. Where sunshine chills your flesh to the bone and moonlight guides the path toward your greatest desires. Are you ready? It is time to take our fateful journey down the many profound and mysterious roads that are these Haunted Hallways.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.54(d)|
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By Lenore Lost
iUniverse, LLCCopyright © 2013 Lenore Lost
All rights reserved.
The Thing That Lives in the Dark
Tessie stood, defiant and enraged before her murdering, traitorous parents. Her heart beat so hard inside of her small chest she was nearly deafened by the booming thunder in her ears. Her little fists were drawn into hard round knots of fury that shook at her sides. And her clear green eyes were turning cloudy and dark as the tempest raged within her.
"Tippy is gone, Tessie." Said her mother.
"What do you mean Tippy is gone, where is he? I want my dog!" She screamed.
"Don't yell at your mother, Tess. You'll wake the baby." Said her father.
"You killed my dog! You killed him because he peed on the floor.
You know he couldn't help it. He didn't mean to!"
"Tessie, we didn't KILL Tippy." Said her mother. "Tippy was old and way too much trouble to take care of anymore. The doctor gave him a shot and he just went to sleep, that's all."
"You're a liar! You were afraid the baby might get sick from the mess. That's all you care about anymore is the stupid baby! Who will guard me at night from the thing that lives in the dark? I need Tippy. I need him!"
"Go to your room Tess!" Ordered her father. "I'm tired of having to warn you about waking the baby and I'm sick to death of this thing that lives in the dark. Now go on."
Tessie looked from her mother, to her father, then back at her mother. Her trembling mouth drew down, her jaw jutted out and her eyes crept long and narrow, "You'll be sorry." was all she said.
As Tess stormed down the hall to her bedroom she heard her father say, "She's got to get over these ridiculous outbursts. I'm sick of it! And all over a dumb old dog!"
The baby's room was lit with a softly glowing night light that cast eerie shadows across the dark walls. Tessie could still remember the night her father had come into her room and yanked the night light from the wall socket beside her bed. She'd cried and begged him not to take the light away. But he had yelled and told her she was too old for such foolishness. The blackness had eaten at her every night since then. Like some malignant tumor that grows and grows. Tippy had protected her from the thing that lives in the dark. He had protected them all. His presence was what had kept them safe at night. Not the light. She knew that now as she stood staring into the baby's decidedly dangerous room. Listening to the quiet sounds of the thing that lives in the dark.
The next morning Tessie woke to the high pitched wailing one can only associate with absolute horror. As she ran down the hall toward the sounds of her parents desperate screams, she knew that they were coming from the baby's room.
Tessie stood in the doorway watching her father sob into the cup of his hands as her mother cradled the lifeless baby in the pale crook of her arm. Tears streamed down her mother's quivering, pained face and pooled inside of the baby's dead, glassy eyes.
"The baby's gone, Tessie." Said her mother.
Tessie felt the tight curl of her lips and realized that she was smiling. "I told you you'd be sorry." said the thing that lives in the dark.
THE ENDCHAPTER 2
A Gathering of Goblins
Today is Halloween. And for a young boy named Andrew that means his favorite holiday has finally arrived. He is so excited about tonight that he can hardly wait until it gets dark so that he can slip into his Ninja costume and go trick-or treating with his best friend, Ricky. They were both Ninjas last year and it was totally cool because even the bigger kids thought they looked the part.
Andrew has noticed that it is unusually chilly outside even for late October. A fierce wind whips the branches of the trees with such violent force that all up and down the street you can hear them screaming as if in horrible pain. The sound of the hollering trees has given Andrew goose bumps. His body is tingling all over. He reminds himself that Halloween wouldn't be any fun at all if the world weren't filled with frightening screams. Besides, it's just the wind. And Andrew now knows that he has much bigger things to worry about than spooky sounds.
This morning on the way to school Ricky's sister, Amie, told them that Halloween is not the harmless kids holiday everybody thinks it is. She said that Halloween is the one and only night of the year when the spirits of the dead are able to take the form of humans and walk among us here on earth. And no one knows that they are Goblins because they look just like all the other kids in their scary masks. But the Goblins aren't wearing any masks. And if you take the time to notice you'd see that they aren't laughing and joking around like normal kids. They're quiet and creepy. And they keep to themselves.
Amie knows a lot about such things. She's part of a group of girls that even the Goth kids are afraid of. They call themselves The Girls Of Five. One girl for each point on the pentagram. A five sided star used in witchy rituals. The pentagram is drawn on the ground before The Girls Of Five begin trying to connect with someone on the Other Side. Tonight, Amie, Laurrie, Angela, Kristy and Kim are going to hold a séance inside Glendale's Forest Lawn Cemetery where all the celebrities go after they die. Angela wants to speak with Michael Jackson. She's a psychic and has taught the others to read tarot cards and all kinds of mystical stuff. She even predicted a major earthquake once. And she always knows what color underware you're wearing. And whether they're boxers or briefs. Either way she KNOWS. She is TOTALLY psychic.
Andrew and Ricky were poking each other in the ribs and laughing, trying to act like what they were hearing didn't bother them. Then Tiffany, who was walking with them and who happens to be the smartest girl in school by far, told them her own story. And it got harder for Andrew and Ricky to pretend they weren't getting scared. Tiffany said that three years ago on Halloween she contacted her grandma, Lula on an Ouija board. "At first it was really cool." she said. "But then things changed. And things got real scary. Scared me so bad I broke the board in half and threw it in the trash." she said. Suspense hung in the air between the four of them for what felt like forever until Andrew couldn't take it anymore. He finally blurted out, "What happened, Tiff? What was so scary that it freaked you out so bad?" Tiffany cleared her throat and said, "Well, it was real creepy. She started calling me, Emily. Then she'd go back to calling me, Tiffany, then Emily, back and forth like that. I have never known an Emily and as far as I know neither did my grandma. But that doesn't mean she didn't once know an Emily in her past, you know?" Her audience, held captive, shook their heads in understanding. "I started to get the feeling that maybe there was someone else interrupting my grandma and I. The seeker of Emily."
Amie said, "Nice choice of words, Tiff. The seeker. I love it."
"Right. Well, I finally asked this SEEKER what it wanted with the mysterious, Emily and my grandma answered."
"There was no seeker?" asked Amie.
"Well, I thought I was wrong about there being an interloper. Another spirit invading our conversation. Wrong about the SEEKER. My grandma said that I'd remember all about Emily very soon. That I had buried the memory deep in my subconscious because it brought up other, more painful memories I have chosen not to think about for a very long time. But not to worry because she loved me and was always watching over me. And I was like, oh, grandma I love you too and I miss you. But ... Turns out I was right."
"About what?" asked Ricky.
"Yeah. Right about what? asked Andrew.
Tiffany sighed and her eyes shone with the beginning of tears. She said, "I knew something was way off after that. Out of nowhere she started swearing and calling me all kinds of bad names and said she wanted to kill me." She rubbed her arms in a brisk manner as if to relieve the chills creeping up her spine. "I finally worked up the courage to ask who I was speaking with and the reply I got was not good."
Andrew and Ricky had stopped joking around and were busting with curiosity. Andrew said, "Well, what did it say? Who were you talking to?"
"The seeker." Said Amie.
"Right." Said Tiffany. "the SEEKER was a demon."
The boys both said, "Woah!"
"A demon seeker. Oh my god, Tiff!" said a surprised Amie.
"Yeah. He said his name was Abatu. That he was an earthbound form of destructive energy and the chief of death and human sacrifice."
The boys looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Ricky started making ghostly boo sounds but shut up fast when his sister, Amie spoke up. She said, "Oh no! Emily. Emily Herron! The high school cheerleader that was raped and killed like five years ago!"
"Right." said Tiffany. "We were all so young back then I guess I had completely forgot about it. Forgot HER. And what had happened to her. But the demon, Abatu, MADE me remember."
All three of the others said in unison, "What did he do?"
A pent up tear broke free of Tiffany's eye and she quickly wiped it away with the back of her hand.
"It said, don't you remember the day you heard about the murder of the pretty high school girl named Emily? And what you did the moment you first heard?"
Tiffany had started to walk at a much slower pace. Her heart was heavy with the burden of remembering. The others had slowed as well, as if they knew they were about to be forced to help carry the weight of whatever it was that their friend was about to reveal.
"I remembered then. In an instant." Said Tiffany. "First thing I did was run to tell my grandma, Lula. She was living with us then. Her bedroom door was closed and normally I would've knocked before going in. But not that day. That day I was scared and all I knew was that I NEEDED my grandma. So I threw opened her door and that's when I found her."
"You found her ..." Amie was coaxing her friend to the conclusion of this increasingly dire and painful revelation.
They had all stopped in their leaden tracks and waited for whatever it was that was coming. "I found her dead."
There was a mutual gasp from the other three kids. "She wasn't just laying there dead in her bed though. That would've been bad enough."
Amie had wrapped her arm around her friend and held her trembling hand in her own. "She was sitting up in bed gripping the phone as if she were trying to call for help. Her mouth was frozen wide in a silent scream. Her heart pills were on the floor near the bedside table. She'd been having a heart attack and knocked her medication to the floor in her panic and there was no one there to help. Instead of being there to save her I was outside playing until the neighbor kid told me about the death of Emily."
The anguished girl was crying now. No more holding back. "It was me." said Tiffany.
"I wasn't there when she needed me. I killed my own grandma," she sobbed.
Andrew took her other hand and said, "No, Tiff. It wasn't your fault. You were just a kid."
"I know" said tiffany. "But her eyes were open. Big and round. And in her glazed stare I saw the truth. The disappointment and disbelief. She died screaming for me."
Amie said," Wait Tiff, you don't know that—"
"Let me finish" said Tiffany. "I had let her down. It's true. Because I HAD heard her calling my name. She called for me and I just kept right on doing what I was doing 'cause I thought she was just gonna ask me to make her something else to eat and I'd just made her a grilled cheese." The sobbing girl squeezed both Amie's and Andrew's hands tight as if tethering herself to this world before her seeker came for her in wrath and injustice at her behavior on that awful day in the past.
"The doctor told us to cut back on her favorite foods because her cholesterol was so high. So I IGNORED her. And she died."
There was nothing more to be said. Her friends took turns hugging her and she finally calmed down. She began walking again and the others followed suit.
They didn't pick up their usual pace until Amie said something that scared the crap out of them.
"Someone in this neighborhood is going to die tonight." she said. "I can feel it. And Angela told me so last night. She is psychic, remember." She shivered.
They all did.
They walked the rest of the way to school in an uncomfortable, determined silence. The bright autumn morning had turned. The sky pushed down, oppressive and troublesome. Dark, low flying clouds morphed swift from one fright to another as if the kids were being escorted by a flock of shape-shifting tricksters full of harmful intent.
Birds of prey.
Home from school now Andrew stands on the sidewalk in front of his house listening to the wind whisper in the trees one minute then scream the next. Andrew was feeling an unusual, akward anxiety. Tiffany's telling of her grandma's corpse sitting up in bed, wide eyed with a scream caught in her throat and Tiffany's name plastered on her lips, demons pretending to be your loved one from the afterlife, saying terrible things and threatening to kill you. Amie's and Angela's morbid prediction that someone was going to die right here in this neighborhood tonight. ANGELA, the totally psychic girl with the uncanny ability to predict ALL things. Not just the color of your underware. But most of all: The terrible learning of the dead kids walking the streets come Halloween night. The dead coming out to PLAY. Stinking of the ground they were buried in.
You can bet I'm gonna be watching out for the Goblins, Andrew decides. Now that he knows they'll be out there tonight lurking about, trying to pass themselves off as normal kids, when in reality they are none other than the walking dead, real ZOMBIES, he feels he will be better off. Safe even.
With his hands tucked in the pockets of his Levis Andrew stands and appreciates the cool props his neighbors have decorated their yards with. On the south corner of the street where the Dexter's live there are ghosts suspended high in the branches of an enormous California Palm. A wicked witch on her broomstick is in pursuit of three white gossamer ghosts as if rounding them up for a late night excursion. Where the Haile's live there is a huge, hairy spider with sharp, deadly fangs perched atop a cheery purple and blue Hydrangea bush. Across from their house the Lombardo's have displayed a party of grinning skulls hovering inside the many lit windows. They look like long dead dinner guests that never managed to find their way out.
Directly across the street from Andrew's house is where weird Mr. Reeper lives. Sometime today he has placed a carved pumpkin in the small window beside the front door. It stares hatefully at Andrew with a wicked, toothy grin and evil looking eyes. As if it were daring Andrew to enter the strange old house. Like that's ever gonna happen! He thinks. Andrew doesn't like the sinister pumpkin anymore than he likes the spooky old house. It's different than all the other houses in the neighborhood. The other homes are fresh with paint, have pretty green lawns, bright colorful flowers in shapely beds of rich fertilized soil where palm trees of all kinds grow big, lush and beautiful beneath the perpetual southern California sunshine.
Mr. Reeper's house is dark and gloomy. There are no spectacular palms swaying in the wind in his yard. Mr. Reeper's spooky trees have shed their dead leaves where they lay decaying in big piles. They remind Andrew of grave sites. And the bare trees look like hard, white bone, their branches like skeletal fingers grasping at the sky. As Andrew shudders at this morbid thought it dawns on him how strange it is that the only time he's ever aware of the old man's presence inside the ruined house is on Halloween. Every year there is a pumpkin glowing fiendishly from inside of that filthy window. The rest of the time the tattered and faded curtains are drawn shut and there is no sign of life whatsoever inside of Mr. Reeper's house.
That night after dinner Andrew ran to his room and put his Ninja costume on and waited for Ricky to show up in his matching outfit. Ten minutes later as Andrew sat in front of the TV, watching Freddy Krueger turn dreams into nightmares Ricky called. And things got weird.
Ricky told Andrew that he got hurt real bad. "Like totally messed up blood dripping bad." said Ricky. Andrew said, "Whoa, dude. Are you okay? What happened?" Several seconds passed before Ricky answered. "I can't make it tonight, Andrew. I'm sorry." For the second time a worried Andrew asked his friend, "Ricky, what happened?" Again there was a very long, eerie pause before Ricky spoke. His voice had changed. It dropped real low. And in a raspy whisper that sounded more like a hiss he said, "I'm better now, Andrew. It doesn't hurt anymore. And I've almost stopped bleeding."
Then the line went dead.
Excerpted from Haunted Hallways by Lenore Lost. Copyright © 2013 Lenore Lost. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1—The Thing That Lives in the Dark, 1,
2—A Gathering of Goblins, 5,
3—The Hunter, 23,
4—Edgar's Barn, 29,
5—The Darkest Night, 39,
6—Destiny's Clown, 43,
8—The Graveyard, 65,
9—Dead Head, 69,
11—Ragged Ann, 79,
12—The Witches of Drydendale, 87,
13—The Intruder, 127,
14—Bad Medicine, 139,
15—The Last Laugh, 153,
16—The Bettin' Man, 167,
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