Here's the first chapter of my current WIP, tentatively titled SPIRIT DETECTIVE. I started it a while ago, but put it off to the side to write MIRROR, but it's calling to me again so I thought I'd pull it out and see what people thought. It's rough as it only has the bare minimum of editing done, but hopefully that won't detract.
Blurb: I don't have a blurb yet. Sorry.
My heart accelerated in my chest as I stood looking at the abandoned house in front of me. Simply put, it was falling apart. Most of the windows were broken, their dark depths imploring me to follow my instincts and leave. The paint was peeling and chipping, revealing the termite riddled wood beneath it. The once white porch sagged and groaned under my feet, begging me to leave. The door was broken and tilted at an odd angle, leaving the house open to the elements. The ripped screen door squealed as it opened as if some unseen person was inviting me in.
Just step in Rowena, I told myself with a quick glance over my shoulders. My best friend, Lucas stood at the end of the cracked sidewalk where the squeaky gate for the splintered picket fence opened and shut with the wind.
He grinned at me, brushing back a stray blonde hair the wind had blown into his eyes. “If you’re scared, Ro, just say so. We’ll go home.”
With a growl, I yelled back, “I’m not scared.” The one remaining shutter slapped against the house, causing me to jump. Luke barked out a laugh and I straightened my shoulders and turned to face the house again.
It’s just a house. It’s just a house, I repeated like a chant in my head as I stepped toward the gaping hole that was the front door. The wind blew through the house, causing a sound like a moan to emit from it and me to stop in my tracks as my heart jumped into my throat.
My hand trembled as I reached for the knob. Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah, that stupid ten-dollar bet, a bet I’d made on a dare.
Luke and I had been sitting outside on my front porch, drinking soda and playing truth or dare, but--because we knew everything about each other--it was more along the lines of dare or dare. He’d dared me to spend an hour at the abandoned house and bet me ten dollars I couldn’t do it. I’d, of course, taken it.
If it had been just the ten dollars I’d have backed up and gone back home, laughing, but it wasn’t. There was a much more important thing on the line than just a measly ten dollars. My pride.
I’d never welched on a bet, or chickened out from a dare. I wasn’t planning on starting now.
With a deep breath, I pushed aside the tilted door and jumped when the last rusted hinge broke and the door feel into the house and crashed to the floor.
“Well, geez, Ro. Why don’t you just wake the dead while you’re at it?” Luke called, his voice laughing at me.
“Very funny,” I yelled over my shoulder and winced when my voice echoed throughout the house.
Taking a minute to let my heart settle again, I looked around inside. I’d never seen it before. If you took the outside into consideration, the inside looked pretty good. If you didn’t take into count the spider webs and dust that covered every square inch I could see.
With another deep breath, I took the first step through the doorway and then stopped to turn around. “I’m in. Start the clock.”
“Got it,” Luke called back and even through the howling wind I could hear the beep that symbolized the start of my hour.
Well, I’m in. Now what? I’ve got a whole hour to kill. Might as well explore.
The house was three stories and I decided to start on it and then work my way down. A house this old had to have something interesting in it. The dust on the floor was so thick I left footprints in it with each step.
It had been abandoned for as long as I could remember, but my mom and her Bunko buddies talked often about the Mooney Mansion. It had been the first house in Seminole County in the late 1800s. The Mooney’s had had a whole plantation of celery, hundreds of acres, but when they died, the children had sold off the land an acre at a time until only the land surrounding the home was left. Eventually the house was sold off to pay the taxes.
Since then, the house had been bought and sold numerous times, no one staying longer than five years; earning it it’s haunted house title.
It didn’t appear too scary, now that I was inside. In fact, the inside looked pretty darn good. The staircase creaked slightly with each step, but the wood appeared to be in good shape and the carpet was only slightly threadbare.
At the landing for the second floor, a mouse scurried in front of me, squeaking at me as if yelling at me for ruining it’s nighttime stroll. I slapped a hand across my mouth to block the little yelp that tried to escape and continued on up to the third floor, trailing my hand along the surprisingly smooth banister.
A shiver racked my body as a breeze blew through the hall and I frowned as I wondered where it had come from. There weren’t any windows and the doors to the rooms were all shut.
I paused. Which way should I go? Left? Or right? After a quick game of “Eeny Meeny Miney Moe,” I went left.
A feeling of unease settled in my belly almost immediately as I walked to the room at the end of the hall. Whatever was in that room I was sure I didn’t want to know about, but I was still strangely pulled to it.
A flash of memory came to me as my hand wrapped around the crystal doorknob.
My mom and her friend Kate had been sitting outside on the front porch of my home the summer after I’d turned five. They were both sipping their tea and gossiping about neighborhood news and almost daily pastime.
“Did you hear about the old Mooney place?” my mom had asked, her face showing the hope and excitement it always did when she was sure she had something juicy to tell.
“No. I thought that young couple bought it a few months back, but they’ve never done anything with it,” Kate replied, sipping her tea.
My mom beamed. “No, and they won’t. The woman was staying there about a week ago trying to decide on paint samples while her husband went to get food. Well, she went to one of the rooms on the third floor, but the door was locked.”
Kate sniffed and then winked at me. “Well, couldn’t she get a key?”
My mom rolled her eyes. “Kate. The doors don’t lock. Not the bedroom doors.”
“So, anyway, thinking the door was just stuck, she rammed the door with her shoulder and the door opened as easy as you please.”
Kate shrugged. “Maybe she just didn’t push hard enough the first time.” She smiled down at me and then, when she was sure my mom wasn’t looking, slipped me a piece of toffee she had hidden in her skirt pocket.
I took it with a smile and carefully unwrapped it, hoping my mom wouldn’t hear the telltale crinkle of the wrapper.
My mom still looking away from us said, “Maybe, but when she stepped into the room you’ll never believe what she saw.”
Kate rolled her eyes at me, causing me to giggle. “What?
“Well,” my mom said, leaning forward toward Kate, dragging out the story, “she opened the door and on the walls, written in blood, were words.”
I choked on the piece of candy, and Kate gave me a few thumps on the back to dislodge it, while she laughed. “Oh, come on, Lynn. You don’t really believe that, do you?”
My mom laughed and shook her head. “No, of course not, but she did. Screamed like the devil himself had visited her and ran straight out of the house. When her husband came to get her, she demanded they leave right then and there. Don’t know if he saw it, but they left that night, leaving everything they had there. ”
Another cold chill shook my body as I turned the knob easily in my hand and stepped into the room with my eyes closed. I was sure this was the room they were talking about. Why else would I have been drawn to it?
A voice in my head told me to turn around and wait for the remaining minutes downstairs, but despite being scared out of my mind I was insanely curious. Would there be words written on the walls?
The minute I stepped through a breeze blew through and slammed the door shut, causing me to jump and yelp again. My eyes flew open and I took a relieved breath. The room was empty, minus a few stray pieces of furniture.
The room was large, especially for a home as old as it was. The wallpaper was torn, almost shredded in places, showing the slat walls behind it. In the corner was a trunk. I wandered around the room, tracing my fingers over the wall, half hoping to find a switch that would open a secret door.
I paused when I got to the trunk and then, wanting a closer look, knelt in front of it, my hands shook for some unknown reason as I touched it. It was metal and had strange symbols etched onto its black sides. There were three locks in the front that prevented me from opening it, each lock in the shape of a skull.
In the hopes of finding the key, I searched the room oblivious to the time. I noticed a roll-top desk on the wall by the door and slid the top up and searched the drawers. When my fingers probed the middle drawer, they found a hole only big enough for my finger. I slipped it in and pulled up, revealing a secret space. Cautiously, I slid my hand in the space and felt something cold and metal brush against my fingers.
When I pulled it out, it was a strange looking skeleton key, which matched the chest. I rushed over to it and slipped the key in the middle lock, smiling when I heard a soft click. Excited, I unlocked the remaining two locks and pushed open the lid, revealing a trunk full of old clothes.
The smell of lavender permeated my nose as I pulled each article out. This was so cool. These clothes had to be hundreds of years old. The little white muslin I’d just pulled out had to be from the Victorian era at least. The high-neck and sweeping skirt proved it.
I don’t know how long I spent going through the chest before I found a leather-bound book and wooden box.
I opened the wooden box first and pulled out a necklace. The charm on the end of it was three triangles interconnected within a circle. With a shrug, I slipped the leather cord around my neck, letting the symbol rest between my breasts.
The book was the only thing left, so I flipped through it.
“It’s just a bunch of mumble jumble,” I said in disgust. I flipped to the first page and tried figuring out what it said. Thinking maybe it would make more sense I read it aloud, stumbling over the handwritten words.
være på vakt forbannelsen av gudene
snakker ikke ordene nedenfor
skjenket på deg øyet av tre.
The minute I finished, a bright light filled the room, blinding me. And I started screaming as a searing, shocking pain ran through my head, as if I’d been struck by lighting.