Spook House Excerpt
The wooden steps should’ve been warped, cracked and pitted with rot, instead they were smooth and sturdy and bore Jeff’s weight with ease. They didn’t even creak. He shone his flashlight down at his feet and saw light-colored planks marbled with woodgrain, the screw heads so new they glowed like tiny mirrors in his beam.
New steps? Why would somebody put new steps up to an old house?
He lifted his eyes and his light to the vacant doorway and stepped through into darkness, his confusion deepening. The scent of fresh-cut pine hung thick in the humid air. Plywood? Yes. Someone had cut up sheets of plywood and fastened them to the hallway floor.
Jeff peered into the empty room to his left, shined his flashlight on neon yellow saw horses and scattered boxes of decking screws.
They’re fixing the place up? This place?
And the way they were going about it…
Fresh wood on the hallway floor, but the rooms on either side still had their original flooring, frosted with years of dust. There were footprints, like tracks in new-fallen snow, various sizes and treads. A flurry of recent activity. The walls, however, showed no sign of being touched. The original floral wallpaper was still there; yellowed, dingy, torn in spots—hanging strips exposing a landscape of scarred and cratered plasterwork, wooden ribs showing through scattered holes—but there was no rhyme or reason to it. And attached to all this corrosion was a bright white smoke detector, fresh out of the box, its sensor light blinking red like a warning beacon in the dark.
What the hell?
Jeff continued down the hall, illuminating one mysterious anachronism after another. More new smoke detectors on more crumbling, barely touched walls. Shiny fire extinguishers in otherwise neglected rooms. Electrical outlets mounted on the outsides of walls, sometimes just above the old-fashioned, existing outlets; external wiring sealed in metal pipes that ran along the rotting baseboards to points unknown. It was as if the remodeling crew wanted to preserve all this decay.
He turned a corner into the kitchen. It didn’t appear that the workmen had come this far. He found a floor that was a fresco of small tiles, some cracked, some missing; cabinets without doors, some of which had fallen from their roosts, leaving more pits and holes in the plasterwork; and a sink basin full of debris. The window above was boarded, allowing fingers of moonlight to reach in along the far wall.
Jeff turned his light and found a closed wooden door, the only one he’d seen in the house so far. The hinges were original, rusted and tarnished, the knob covered in a Celtic pattern both intricate and ornate. He paused, then reached out and opened it, wincing at the scream of metal against metal. The tiny spotlight found wooden steps descending into absolute darkness.
Probably a dirt floor. That’s the way they did it back then, wasn’t it? Dirt floors and wooden shelves full of canning jars. Would there still be fruit after so many years?—rotten and mummified, mutated into all variety of science experiments? Part of him was dying to find out.
And if those stairs give way and you fall? What then? Maybe it’s not dirt. Maybe it’s concrete. Maybe you’ll bust your head wide open and that’ll be it.
Jeff nodded. He was just about to walk away and head back out to the car, when he saw something.
He froze, thinking he’d only imagined it, but no, there it was again.
A soft, yellow-green glow, fading in and then fading out.
He paused, thinking it over, then his curiosity got the better of him. He held his watch up to the light, knowing Sheri would follow through with her threat to call the police if he wasn’t out there on schedule. He still had seven minutes, however.
Plenty of time for a quick look.
Jeff started down the stairs with caution, testing each step before applying his full weight. Cobwebs dangled in his path. He brushed them aside, then wiped his hand on his jeans in disgust. It looked as if no one had been down here in forever, and yet that light…
It came again, illuminating red brick walls and a latticework of old copper pipes that hung from the rafters.
But what the hell is it? A television screen left on? Maybe it’s part of a new security system to go along with the new smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? None of this makes any sense.
Jeff reached the basement floor (dirt, just as he’d imagined) and flashed his light around. Bricks and support posts had turned the cellar into a maze of storerooms. Water-damaged boxes and wooden pallets sat stacked in corners, filling the confined space with the stench of their gradual corruption. And at the end of a very long, very narrow hall, an archway glowed with that mysterious yellow-green aura.
He stepped through the arch and a sharp odor assaulted his nostrils almost immediately, overpowering everything else. Chlorine. He coughed against it, and covered his mouth and nose with his hand to block it out.
Still the smell persisted.
Jeff looked around for the source and his eyes filled with tears. He could still see, however. He just couldn’t believe what he saw.
The brick on the opposite side of the room was cracked, a single fracture that snaked its way up the entire length of the wall; nearly three feet wide at the floor, tapering down to a paper-thin line near the rafters. It glowed. The crack actually glowed, filling the room with wavy, spectral light…and something else. A thick, yellow-green fog, heavier than the surrounding air; it poured from the break, hiding dirt beneath a churning blanket of mist.
Jeff took a step toward the crack and was immediately seized by a coughing fit, that chlorine stench burning the lining of his nose.
A chemical spill? Did the workmen breach some underground tank? Oh God…what have I just exposed myself to?
He heard an animal snarl behind him and spun around, aiming his light in the direction of the sound, seeing nothing but brick and molder in all directions. Then, in the darkness beyond the arch, something moved; he heard the whisk and patter of feet, the crash of falling debris. Whatever it was, it was between him and the stairs.
Oh shit! Jeff coughed, his nose and throat blazing, his eyes fogging with fresh tears. What the hell is that? What have I—
A scream made him jump, then he heard a guitar riff start in. His ring tone: Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” He shoved his hand into his pocket and yanked out his cell phone, silencing the Prince of Darkness, seeing a familiar smiling face on the touch screen. “Sheri?”
“Time’s up. Get your ass out here and let’s go.”
He glanced into the dark hallway. Had the thing out there heard the music? Was it coming for him now? He hunkered down, trying to keep his voice low. “Sheri, listen to me…There’s something down here, and it—”
“I’m serious! ” Jeff was rocked by another coughing fit, and tasted blood in his mouth. He wiped his lips with the back of his hand and saw red streaks across his knuckles in the flashlight.
That animal snarled again, but it was not coming toward him. It sounded distant, trailing off. He heard the loud drumming of hurried feet on wood.
It was climbing up the stairs.
Before he could warn Sheri, however, something lashed out at him from behind and wrapped itself around his wrist, something pink and laced with purple veins, something covered in a thick coat of slime. It was a tentacle. Rows of suckers on the underside flexed and puckered like countless wanton mouths. Jeff’s teary eyes bulged from their sockets as the tentacle tightened its grip, its pressure crushing in on the bones of his wrist. He lost his grasp on the flashlight and it fell into the yellow-green fog that pooled around his feet.
Another tentacle whipped at Jeff, wrapped itself around his waist. It was larger than the first, thicker and more muscular; it flexed and constricted and yanked him back across the floor, the heels of his sneakers digging deep furrows in the dirt, gouges that quickly filled in with mist. Jeff’s cell phone slipped through his fingers and joined the flashlight in the chlorine haze. He could still hear Sheri’s voice, however; she sounded more angry than frightened.
“Stop it! I mean it! This isn’t funny!”
No, Jeff thought, this isn’t funny at all!
The back of his head slapped against the brick and birthed a fireworks display in his watery eyes. More tentacles came from behind him; they curled around his chest, around his legs. They were actually extending from the crack in the wall, trying to pull him through.
Jeff opened his mouth to scream, but the tentacles bulged and tightened and squeezed all the air from his lungs with a glut of blood. He heard his ribs crack and break. The splintered bone stabbed through his organs, flooding him with wave after wave of searing pain. Warmth washed over his body—his blood defying gravity, flowing back into the light. The insistent tentacles yanked and tugged, and his spine snapped in two, the jagged lips of the crack in the wall raking Jeff’s flesh like teeth as he was pulled through it.
Before he was wrenched completely into the break, however, before his skull finally imploded, before his brain was flattened to the thickness of a flapjack and scraped back into the yellow-green light beyond, Jeff’s final thought was of Sheri.
To be continued…don't forget to drop by other blogs doing excerpts as they all follow on so you can read more of the book!
Tour Dates October 25-November 27:
10/25 Great Minds Think Aloud - Review
10/26 Bookishly Me - Review
10/27 Red Headed Bookworm -Excerpt
10/28 Book and Movie Dimension -- Review
10/29 Azure Dwarf Horde of Science Fiction & Fantasy - Review/Giveaway
10/30 Reading Aways the Days -Interview/Giveaway
10/31 Ginger Nuts of Horror - Review
11/1 WTF Are You Reading? - Review
11/2 Darlenes Book Nook - Guest Post
11/3 JeanzBookReadNReview - Excerpt
11/4 The Independent Review - Review
11/5 Fictional Candy - Character Post
11/6 Book Den - Review
11/7 Vilutheril Reviews - Excerpt
11/8 Beauty in Ruins - Review
11/9 Beagle Book Space - Review
11/10 Bunny’s Review - Review
11/11 Splash of Our Worlds - Review
11/12 A Book Vacation -Guest Post
11/13 A Daydreamer’s Thoughts - Review
11/14 Crossroads Reviews - Review
11/15 Bee’s Knees Reviews - Review
11/16 From the Bootheel Cotton Patch - Excerpt
11/17 Sheila Deeth - Review
11/18 Kayla’s Reads and Reviews - Excerpt
11/19 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia - Review
11/20 I Smell Sheep - Review
11/21 Ali’s Bookshelf - Excerpt
11/22 Full Moon Bites - Excerpt
11/23 The Cabin Goddess - Review
11/24 Stuck in Books - Guest Post
11/26 The Rabid Fox - Review/Interview
11/27 Jess Resides Here - Excerpt