The Dex-Files — a Darkhouse excerpt

So, the Dex-Files is com­ing out in August. That’s right. You heard me. Due to over­whelm­ing (and frankly, fright­en­ing) response, peo­ple really want their fill of Dex. From his crazy POV.

Well you’ve got it. Or, you will get it. There will be 3–5 scenes from each Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror book writ­ten exclu­sively from his POV. And some of those scenes will be Perry free. Mean­ing, you haven’t read it before. This is good stuff, people.

Any­way, I thought I’d give you a sam­ple of what the Dex-Files will con­tain. I’ll release one of this excerpts each month until the release date. The last POV scene I posted, Red Fox bar scene, will be fur­ther elab­o­rated in the com­pi­la­tion (I mean, we want Dex with the shovel AMIRITE?). Same goes for this scene here…

*if you have an aver­sion to curse words, I mean, come on…but don’t read further*

*also note this is unedited and may change prior to publication*

DARKHOUSEDEX POV — The first encounter

The room smelled like shit. Shit, sea­weed and decades of decay. It was too bad Smell-O-Vision never went any­where, because the smell of the old light­house would have been just as ter­ri­fy­ing as the sight of it.

Speak­ing of, there wasn’t much to see here. Down­stairs was empty. This floor gave up noth­ing except doors that wouldn’t open and I was begin­ning to doubt Old Cap­tain Fish­sticks was actu­ally haunt­ing the place. Just because pansy-assed ghost hunt­ing shows were clam­or­ing to film the light­house, didn’t mean any­thing was actu­ally here. Had I been duped by the hype? No. Not me. That was impossible.

I stopped in the mid­dle of the room and sighed, the cam­era feel­ing extra heavy on my shoul­der.  A migraine tick­led my tem­ples and I pinched the bridge of my nose, hard. I hated feel­ing like a fuck-up fail­ure. I couldn’t go back to Jimmy empty-handed. I sup­pose I could, see­ing as the Nazi didn’t really know what I was up to, but it didn’t mat­ter. He’d sniff it off of me like some fuck­ing dog. He’d know I was down here, try­ing to find some­thing bet­ter for myself.

Then there was Jenn. She was worse. She said she was sad when I left the show, but I could see through those tears of her. I knew what they meant. She was secretly pleased I took off with the tail between my legs, like she won yet another bat­tle or some­thing. Three years with some­one and you get to know their tac­tics pretty well. You can see that smug smile beneath the “But I’ll miss you.” The one that says I’ll be noth­ing with­out her, that I’ll fail on my own.

I didn’t want Jenn to be right. But look­ing around this dis­gust­ing, dark relic with the kelp and the crash­ing waves out­side, waves that seemed to laugh at me, well, fuck, she prob­a­bly was right. Again.

I chewed on my lip absently and looked above. I had more of this place to see. I wasn’t going to give up yet. After all, I was here. And even though the mon­sters were hid­den behind veils of pre­scrip­tion, I was still the same boy as I was back in New York. They still wanted me, even if I couldn’t see them.

My pride would be the death of me one day.

THUD.

A loud clat­ter sounded out from the floor below. It sounded hard, like some­thing had top­pled over from a great height.

I froze, feel­ing just a lit­tle spooked. I walked across the room and paused near the stair­case, wait­ing for more.

From down­stairs came a scur­ry­ing noise, like a very large rat was pok­ing around. I care­fully turned off the cam­era light and waited. My ears lis­tened hard, try­ing to fig­ure out just what the hell it was.  From what I remem­bered, ghosts didn’t usu­ally make much noise. They didn’t move around like they were try­ing to be quiet and fail­ing at it. Rats didn’t move like that either, espe­cially not on the West Coast.

I picked up another sound now. Foot­steps. Then a metal­lic jangling.

It was def­i­nitely a person.

I was def­i­nitely fucked.

I took in a deep breath and ignored all the pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios that waited for me below. What was the point in fig­ur­ing out who it was, or what was going to hap­pen? If I got out of there with­out them see­ing me, then wor­ry­ing was fruitless.

I made my way down the stairs, paus­ing every other step to keep track, until I reached the bot­tom floor. I could hear tiny gasps of ragged breath cou­pled with a whim­per­ing sound. I could see only dark­ness, except for weak light that spilled in through one of the rooms. There was a win­dow where there hadn’t been a win­dow before.

You need move your ass now, I thought to myself. But before I could do any­thing, I felt this…this…I don’t  know what the hell it was, like a mag­netic pull, like the air before a thun­der­storm. An energy rolled toward me like a freight train. It made me stop, stunned and still.

There was another whim­per, almost like a sigh, then feet slap­ping the damp ground.

Before I had chance to process that the foot­steps were com­ing toward me, some­thing col­lided straight into my chest. There was a scream, a girl­ish shriek (not my own), and I was shoved back­ward by some­thing small and solid. The ground smashed into my shoul­der, then my head, but it didn’t mat­ter. The CRASH of my cam­era was the most painful thing of all.

I groaned and rolled over, feel­ing for the machine.

Oh please, please, please, please, please, I thought in a panic. I can’t afford this, I can’t afford this!

I heard the other per­son, the beast that hit me, stir­ring and moan­ing, then they hit the ground again with a thump that sounded painful. Part of me didn’t give two shits about the ass­hole that might have ruined the most impor­tant thing in my life. The other part of me felt kind of bad, espe­cially when it became appar­ent that the ass­hole was some fuck­ing chick. She was mak­ing lit­tle ter­ri­fied squeaks.

Then she made no noise at all.

Moth­er­fucker. Now I had a bro­ken cam­era and some tres­pass­ing broad who was either dead or unconscious.

I hoped she wasn’t a cop.

My hand made con­tact with the cam­era, and from the ini­tial feel I was cop­ping, it didn’t seem like much dam­age was done to the out­side. My fin­gers instinc­tively found the light and switched it on. I let out a breath of relief as the dark­ness was vio­lently illuminated.

As was the girl, lying on the ground beside me. Her eyes were closed and she wasn’t moving.

Shit, shit, shit.

I got on my knees and placed my hand on her neck, feel­ing for a pulse. She stirred a lit­tle and moaned, which meant she was at least par­tially alive. Not dead. I hadn’t killed her. So I had that going for me.

I couldn’t see her prop­erly in the com­pet­ing dark­ness and blind­ing glare, but she seemed damn young. She was small, with a round face that glowed ghostly pale. A cam­era hung from her neck and onto the floor. With­out think­ing, I reached up and brushed a strand of black hair off of her fore­head. She was warm, almost fever­ish. Still not dead.

At my touched she moved a lit­tle and tried to open her eyes, rais­ing her arm up to block out the light.

Don’t move,” I said, my voice com­ing out bro­ken and hoarse. The last thing I needed was for her to wreck her­self even fur­ther.  Just because she was alive, didn’t mean she was well.

She dropped her hand reluc­tantly and I took the light away from her face, plac­ing the cam­era down on the ground beside her head. It cre­ated crazy shad­ows along the planes of her face. Her pert nose turned into a beak. If I let my imag­i­na­tion run away with me, there were a mil­lion things she could have mor­phed into. I was lucky I hadn’t skipped my pills ear­lier, like I had been think­ing about doing.

I touched her face again, just to make sure she was still a per­son. She was. She was still soft, and warm, and alive.

Was I being creepy?

Her eyes flut­tered open and I could barely make out a shade of blue in them before panic tore them wider and she tried to jerk away.

I pressed her shoul­der down to the ground to keep her still.

Seri­ously,” I told her. “You might be really hurt. Please don’t move.”

She obeyed and lay back down.

I’m OK,” she said through dry lips. Her voice was light and scared. But she didn’t sound like she was in any trauma. Her eyes searched my face with­out really see­ing me.

I still had one hand on her shoul­der and the other on her face.

I was def­i­nitely being creepy.

I took my hands away and inched back a bit to give her space to breathe — and me space to run. She looked no older than 20, so she obvi­ously wasn’t a cop but she was here, in a place I had no right to be. I eyed the hall in the dark­ness, won­der­ing if get­ting out of the build­ing was going to be as hard as get­ting in. I hoped she wasn’t about to call for help. Or press charges.

She eased her­self up and looked war­ily around the dark­ness, her eyes focus­ing on the cam­era. I could see the wheels turn­ing behind those shad­owed eyes, won­der­ing what the fuck was going on.

I’m so sorry,” I said. Even though she tech­ni­cally ran into me, I had to pla­cate things before they escalated.

I was upstairs and I heard this crazy clat­ter from down here,” I explained, my voice speed­ing up as my heart raced. There was too much adren­a­line in my sys­tem and the med­ica­tion was screw­ing around with it. “And I thought maybe it was the cops or some­thing. I didn’t know what the fuck to do. I thought I could get out of the way I came in, but I saw you there, and then I saw the win­dow prob­a­bly at the same time you saw the win­dow and I’m…I’m so sorry if…well, you’re obvi­ously OK.”

There was a pause. She didn’t seem to buy any of that.

Who are you?”

The mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion. What would my answer be today?

That depends on who you are,” I said honestly.

In the shad­ows I saw her cock her brow.

I asked you first.”

Why did I have to run into the most ques­tion­ing peo­ple? I exhaled and reached back into my pocket. My new busi­ness cards were printed just last week – she’d be the first per­son to have one.

Who­ever she was.

She took it from her hands, hes­i­tant, like I was hand­ing her poi­son. So sus­pi­cious.  Tsk, tsk.

I picked up the cam­era and aimed it at the card. It gleamed under the light. So did the chipped pol­ish on her gothy-looking fingernails.

She read it out loud and flipped it over, then looked up at me, some­how even more con­fused. The light lit up her face better.

Are you from West Coast Liv­ing or something?”

I let out a small laugh. “Fuck no.”

I started to rock back on forth on my feet, need­ing an out­let for the energy that was rum­bling inside my bones.  She was a curi­ous lit­tle thing, but some­thing about her made me ner­vous. Wary. Like she could be even more dubi­ous than I was. Like she had a mil­lion secrets to tell and I would never hear any of them.

Who­ever she was.

Well, Dex Foray, I have a feel­ing that what­ever you guys are doing here tonight, you’re doing so with­out the per­mis­sion of my uncle, who owns the lighthouse.”

Shit. Fuck. Shit.

Her uncle owned the light­house. I felt the routes in my brain rewire as they pre­pared for the extra adren­a­line, the gal­lop of my heart.

But…wait…

There’s no one else here,” I said. “It’s just me.”

She laughed, clearly not believ­ing me.

Look, I don’t care,” she said and there was just enough ease in her voice to make it true. “I’m not going to report you. I shouldn’t even be here myself. Just get your crew together or what­ever and get out of here before you do get in trouble.”

I stopped rock­ing. What the hell was she going on about? My crew?

It’s just me,” I told her again. “Did you see some­one else here?”

She frowned but kept her gaze on mine. “Yes. I heard you upstairs, and I was going to go out the win­dow, but I saw the shadow of some­one pass by. Outside.”

A shud­der ran down my spine and roll of nau­sea waved through me. I skid a bit closer to her, my pants drag­ging on the damp ground.

Are you sure you saw something?”

If she had seen some­thing, and it obvi­ously was not me, then I was hooped up the ass. Maybe she was too, but I just couldn’t get a proper read­ing on her. That weird energy slinked off of her in bursts and messed with my head a lit­tle bit.

Yes, I saw some­one,” she said with a tinge of doubt. “Some­one walked past the win­dow, swear to God.”

I wasn’t sure if her God was one I could hold truth to.

Where did you come from? Did any­one come with you?”

Like your uncle…or the cops…or your 250-pound MMA boyfriend.

She shook her head. I placed the light closer to her face, feel­ing like I needed to do a bit of inter­ro­gat­ing to get to the bot­tom of this. She winced at the glare.

Sorry,” I mum­bled. “I…well, nevermind.”

Nev­er­mind?” she spat out. Her eyes nar­rowed and not from the light. “You just broke into my uncle’s light­house. Don’t you tell me to nevermind.”

Whoa. All I was going to do was apol­o­gize again for doing exactly that. Well, fuck. For­get it. I was done. I was out of here.

With a grunt, I got to my feet and stretched up into the moon­light that was now creep­ing from the nearby win­dow.  It would be an easy escape. I picked up my foot to go, but I stopped.

I couldn’t leave like this.

She looked so help­less at my feet. And I did have man­ners somewhere.

I reached for her hand. She even­tu­ally took it, feel­ing all too tiny in mine, and I brought her to her feet. She stag­gered a bit, almost keel­ing over, her cam­era swing­ing, and all I could think about was maybe she fell a lot harder than I thought. Maybe she wasn’t really “all there” and we’d need an ambu­lance after all.

I put my hands on the sides of her arms and stepped closer to her, try­ing to keep her from fal­ter­ing. She was short as hell and that was say­ing a lot since I wasn’t very tall to begin with.

You OK?” I asked, already know­ing she was the type who’d say she was fine even if her limbs were chopped off. I saw a flash of some­thing – hope? — in her eyes before she twisted us around and I was illu­mi­nated and her face was hid­den in the dark. I searched out her fea­tures but couldn’t get them. It was unnerv­ing to not see the round pale face and watch­ful eyes.

Just a bit dizzy,” she said. The fact that she admit­ted that much didn’t sound very good. I began to think where the near­est hos­pi­tal was, whether I could get her there in the High­lander, if I would need to call her uncle first. Who would then slap me with some tres­pass­ing charges and a pos­si­ble assault charge, because men were dicks and no one would believe a girl could run into me, espe­cially not one pixie-sized.

Good,” I said, try­ing to look into her eyes, try­ing to keep things light. I smiled, think­ing it might help my cause. “Promise not to sue?”

I won’t. Can’t speak for my uncle, though.”

Damn it! Just where was he any­way? Why was she explor­ing a light­house in the dark with­out him?

Why are you here?” I asked, more and more curi­ous about this lit­tle goth girl.

She dropped her gaze to the ground, even though I couldn’t see her anyway.

We’re hav­ing a bon­fire at the beach,” she said. Her voice went higher, younger, and I got the dis­tinct impres­sion that she was feel­ing guilty about some­thing. “I got sick of hang­ing around teenagers and wanted to come here. My uncle never let me come here when I was younger. I didn’t tell any­one, I just left. I was hop­ing to film stuff.”

Hop­ing to film some stuff? As if she couldn’t get any more intrigu­ing. What kind of stuff, exactly. What had she heard about the lighthouse?

She let out a small gasp and started fid­dling with some­thing. Her cam­era. I picked up mine and shone the light on her and while she was squint­ing uncom­fort­ably at the glare, I took her SLR in my hand and peered it over. Aside from scratches that were prob­a­bly there before, there was no damage.

It’s fine,” I told her, try­ing to sound reas­sur­ing. “I thought you wrecked the shit out of mine when you ran into me.”

I pat­ted my cam­era which made the light bob against her face. She didn’t look very impressed. Who could blame her.

You’re right,” I said, before she could. “Who cares? I prob­a­bly deserve to have this cam­era smashed.”

Even though it would put me back at square one. I couldn’t think about that.

Thump.

I froze. The sound had come from upstairs. Where I had just been. Where noth­ing else had been. Unless…

I looked at her, putting the light closer to her face. It was Bad Cop time again.

You sure you came alone?” I whispered.

She replied, “Are you?”

I nod­ded. She didn’t. It then occurred to me that I had no clue what her damn name was. She never offered it up. I didn’t know any­thing about her.

This could have all been a trap. They might have known I was com­ing here. I don’t know how, but maybe they saw the High­lander from a dis­tance. Maybe tres­passers were a weekly occur­rence. Maybe they lured ghost-hunters here and then robbed them. Or raped them. I’d prob­a­bly let lit­tle miss doe eyes do the hon­ors, but I had no idea how strong her uncle was.

She dropped her eyes from mine and looked at the win­dow. The only easy way of escape.

But if she was think­ing of run­ning, that meant she was afraid. It meant she didn’t know who, or what, was upstairs.

And if they didn’t come with her…they were already here.

I leaned into her and smelled some­thing like a fresh breeze radi­at­ing from her neck.  It took me a moment to find my tongue, find the words to say, “Are you one hun­dred per­cent sure that no one else came with you here?”

I wanted to pull away for her response but that energy, that smell, kept my nose and mouth locked near her neck for just a few more seconds.

 

 

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