Today on the blog, we have a special excerpt from Spook House by Michael West.
There are some places in this world that go far beyond any normal definition of “haunted.” These places are so evil, so diabolical, that they become gateways to Hell itself. The Fuller Farm is one such place.
It is said that old man Fuller conducted unspeakable acts, blood rituals and human sacrifices, all in an attempt to gain the ultimate knowledge, the ultimate power. And then, he was killed–horribly murdered on his own lands, leaving the house to stand as a vacant monument to his wickedness. But once a door is opened, it can never really be closed.
Now, the stars are right. The gateway is ready to once more unleash unspeakable horror upon the town of Harmony, Indiana. And this will be one Halloween that they will never forget!
Excerpt from Spook House:
Hicks hurried back up the stairs, hearing the old wood creak. When he reached the kitchen, he turned his light back on the steps, saw his own shoe prints amid the others, but his pointed both ways. It was a mystery.
Or a big practical joke. The paw prints could’ve been faked. Stone could’ve walked down there, dropped his stuff, then slipped on some kind of costume before he ran back up here to –
What? Wreck his own car? Scare his girlfriend out of her mind, to the point that she tasered his ass when the joke went too far?
It made no fucking sense.
Hicks lifted his flashlight to the ceiling, still needing to check out the second floor. He moved quickly down the hall, searching for a staircase. Along the way, his light washed over sawhorses and other bits of construction equipment, and when he finally found the landing, his beam caught something else.
They were hung on the wall with strips of duct tape, protected in plastic sleeves that glowed in his light. The licenses had been issued to the Harmony Indiana Fire Department, and they detailed electrical and structural work that was planned for the next month and a half. Hicks gave them a quick read, and he found something at the bottom of one of the forms that gave him pause.
Description of work: Temporary use for haunted house from 10/13/2012-10/31/2012 and occupy per plans.
This place was going to be a Halloween attraction? Really? Hicks had heard all the horror stories about this place, and he didn’t buy into supernatural bullshit, but still ... turning the sight of real-life tragedy into some cheap spook house? It seemed wrong to him, disrespectful, like dancing on somebody’s grave.
It came from upstairs.
Hicks whirled, lifted his light and gun toward the sound. The stairs bent around a corner. He proceeded with caution, one step at a time.
And then he was in the upstairs hallway, his gun like an extension of his own hand, a metal finger pointing the way. Half a dozen doorways lined the walls, presumably leading to a like number of rooms. Some rooms lacked doors, while in others, the doors stood wide open. The only closed door belonged to the room at the end of the hall.
Of course. Perfect.
He crept down the hallway, pausing to check each of the side rooms as he went. They were all empty; bare floors, bare walls. Within those walls, however, he could hear movement – a sound he knew well from his city beat. Rats. Scampering around in there, hidden behind the dingy floral wallpaper.
This isn’t the city. It’s probably just a family of cute little field mice.
Probably, but it still gave him the creeps.
Through the boarded slats of the front windows, he saw the red and blue strobes of his cruiser. So close, yet so far away. Part of him wanted to run for it, but that part was being drowned in adrenaline.
You wanted excitement.
He nodded to himself and marched on. The door at the end of the hall grew larger, closer, until he could reach out and touch the tarnished knob. He gave it a push and it opened easily. He waited a moment before advancing.
Rusted bedframes leaned against the walls like metal skeletons, and the floor sat buried beneath mounds of black trashbags. Hicks opened one of the bags to look inside. Old habits died hard. He’d made some pretty good busts in his day by looking through meth house trash.
The bag stank of ammonia.
Hicks holstered his Glock and reached into the bag. He grabbed a wad of fabric, then brought it out into his light. He drew out the corner of an old tablecloth with a delicate, lacy trim. Baby mice clung to it. Tiny. Naked and pink. Their eyes still tightly shut. They were anything but cute.
He dropped the fabric and stepped back, watching as the little animals hit the floor and moved away from his light like mutant slugs; their tiny arms and legs pushing and pulling them to safety beneath the mound of Hefty bags.
“Jesus,” he muttered again.
His radio sounded, startling him. “22-06?”
“We regret to inform you that your husband died of a heart attack. But don’t worry, ma’am, we’ll be sure to honor his memory by using the story in ads for our new haunted house. That’ll really pack ‘em in!”
Hicks snickered to himself, then took a breath and keyed his radio. “Go ahead, 22-06.”
“22-06, what’s the situation on your 10-91V?”
“Ten-four. Just completed my sweep. Request 11-41 for female, approximately thirty years of age, suffering from post-traumatic shock. Unable to locate second victim.”
“Ten-four, 22-06. Sending EMS unit your way.”
Officer Hicks backed out of the room, calming down, his heartbeat slowing as he descended the stairs. He headed back outside to wait for the ambulance and Miami County Animal Control. As he walked away, he glanced back over his shoulder at the darkened doorway.
What would the fire department charge for admission, he wondered, and why would anyone pay to go in there?
To be continued…
Michael West is the critically-acclaimed author of The Wide Game, Cinema of Shadows, Skull Full of Kisses, and The Legacy of the Gods series. He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their bird, Rodan, their turtle, Gamera, and their dog, King Seesar.
Every Halloween, he turns his garage into a haunted house.
A big thank you goes out to Michael West for writing Spook House and Seventh Star Press for letting me be a part of this blog tour.