Authors: Karina Halle
Book Two in the Experiment
in Terror Series
BY KARINA HALLE
Metal Blonde Books on
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Copyright 2011 by Karina
Cover art by Bret
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The parched air swarmed
furiously with sky-seeking embers that spanned the spectrum of
orange and yellow. They emerged from flames of the fire with the
vibrating sound of cracking bones and formed abstract waves in the
space above my head before drifting off into the
The campfire was
mesmerizing. It swallowed up all of my concentration. I needed to
think, to draw in some underlying message that was hidden in the
dark corners of my surroundings.
I closed my eyes and shut
out the dancing light. With the cessation of my sight, the crackles
grew louder and the hollow sound of drumming began in the distance.
I felt the air reverberate with each solid blow and let the noises
flow throughout my body until they nestled somewhere at the base of
I needed information. I
searched internally for something, anything. I noticed myself
taking a deep breath through no conscious effort of my own and felt
the threads of my mind reaching out blindly. I didn’t know what I
was looking for exactly but I would know when I found
An uneasy, nauseous feeling
came over my senses like a heavy cloak. My eyes flew open. The
silhouette of a small woman stood before me. She had bright yellow
eyes that peered at me malevolently, increasing my urge to
Something has been
unearthed here,” I said in an uneasy voice that wasn’t my own. Like
shots from a seizure-inducing video game, images of destroyed
tombstones, shovels and dirt, bones lying scattered across a desert
land, high-soaring birds against an endless blue sky, four-legged
beasts dancing to the tune of a drum, all flowed in rapid
succession across my mind’s eye.
The woman smiled at me with
That’s all you’ll be
finding,” she said. “There is no death here.”
Not yet,” I found myself
saying. I slowly turned to the sound of the drumming. A black
figure with no face was banging away on a native drum. The edges of
the fire were suddenly alive with the slinking figures of wolves.
They advanced towards me, each step timed with the pound of the
drum until I was completely surrounded.
The wolves leaned back in
unison and straightened up until they all stood on their hind legs.
They walked awkwardly, unpredictably, like some sort of disturbing
canine zombie and within seconds they were within striking
The last thing I remember
was looking into their eyes and seeing the eyes of my sister, my
mother, even Dex, these horribly human eyes, before they started to
tear me apart, limb from bloody limb.
Are you nervous,
I barely heard my own name.
My mind still tried to process the remaining fragments from the
dream I had the previous night. It took me a few seconds to realize
that my sister, Ada, was speaking to me.
What? Yes, of course I’m
nervous,” I told her.
Well, you look a little
green,” she said.
I felt a little green. Not
only did I have this overall icky feeling from the dream, I had my
internet debut to worry about.
It was a Sunday night and
Ada and I were sitting anxiously on my bed, the wide screen of my
computer facing us with an impersonal glow. In a few moments my
parents would join us, hopefully with a bag of popcorn and lowered
expectations, and we would watch a webisode that would make or
break my life.
Four weeks ago my life was
a lot different. I was just a lowly receptionist at an advertising
agency, living at home with my parents and floundering in an
uneventful existence. Then one night, while visiting my Uncle Al’s
estate on the Oregon coast, I became involved in something that can
only be described as “supernatural.” I still don’t have an
explanation, but I knew it was worth telling everyone about. I
recounted the incident on my sister’s blog, posted a few videos I’d
shot on YouTube, and suddenly everyone wanted to know what happened
to Perry Palomino that night (which, in hindsight, was really
nothing, but with my shaky camera work, it looked like
One thing did happen
though, while I explored my Uncle Al’s haunted lighthouse; I
stumbled across someone else who shouldn’t have been there. His
name was Dex Foray, a Seattle-based filmmaker who was scouting
locations for a potential ghost hunting show on the website he
worked for, Shownet. OK, maybe the term filmmaker is a bit
grandiose. Shownet specializes in low-budget, mildly entertaining
shows broadcasted primarily on the web. Their current repertoire
, a show that was apparently more popular than I had thought,
at least among the men. It consisted of Dex’s girlfriend, the
uber-hot and annoyingly exotic Jennifer Rodriguez, who hosted the
show that taught hapless men how to pair cheap wines with cheap
meals. And when I say cheap, I mean Burger King. Anyway, adding to
the highbrow mix was our show (of which, at this point, I didn’t
even know the name of).
See, after our run-in, and
after I got quasi-famous on YouTube, Dex contacted me in hopes of
producing the ghost hunter/ghost whisperer/ghost seeker show with
me as the host. I said yes, because, well, what else did I have to
do. Before I knew it, we returned to Uncle Al’s estate,
investigated the abandoned lighthouse where everything originally
went down and attempted to get it all on film.
I’m still not sure what we
ended up capturing. Over the last three weeks, I’d only been in
sporadic contact with Dex and the most I’d seen of the final
footage took place on his laptop during the drive to Shownet’s
office in downtown Seattle. The only thing that I really had any
control over was writing the blog piece that would accompany the
webisode. We hoped that if tonight’s episode did well (it was just
a demo, after all), we could branch the show into its own website
and have my blog piece run alongside the footage; this way people
would get a greater sense of what actually happened versus what we
managed to catch on film. In the future we could also have little
bios, maybe a Twitter feed about what we were investigating and
other interactive components. Of course, if tonight flopped, we
would have nothing.
Part of me believed things
would work out and that Dex was gifted enough to make something
compelling out of nothing, but the other part was certain we were
doomed. I mean, for one, neither of us had any idea what we were
doing. Although strange things have happened to me in my lifetime
(things I was becoming more and more aware of), I didn’t consider
myself a ghost whisperer. I didn’t know jack shit about the
supernatural, how to communicate with them, how to conjure them, or
anything like that. There are tons of people out there who deal
with the paranormal (did you know you can get a degree in
Demonology? I mean how fucked up of a major is that?), tons of TV
shows and blogs that involve psychics and ESP and EPGs and infrared
cameras and whatnot. But me? I knew nothing. I was pretty sure Dex
didn’t have the slightest clue when it came to the supernatural,
either. Other than the fact that he’s quite supernatural himself.
In other words, the dude’s crazy.
I’ll admit, up until
recently, I had been pining for Dex. Not in some lovey-dovey way
but I certainly felt myself grow more attracted to him over the
three days we spent together. I guess there’s a lot to be said for
those situations where epic circumstances bring complete strangers
together. That’s pretty much what happened to us, well to me,
anyway. But after some time and distance between us, he didn’t
occupy my thoughts in quite the same way.
That’s probably because I
had more important things on my mind. When Dex’s boss/partner at
Shownet, Jimmy Kwan, agreed to let us have our show, he made it
very clear that I would have to be available for shooting between
Thursday and Monday night, the pay wouldn’t be very good, and I
most likely needed a job on the side.
The thing is, I had a job.
In fact, I had been promoted recently, which actually excited me (I
had worked at the advertising agency for over a year and there was
nary a hint that I would ever move up from receptionist). However,
with the new shooting schedule, I would have to get the agency to
let me work part-time.
I was cautiously optimistic
that not only would they let me work Tuesday to Thursday, but that
they would allow me to keep my promotion. That said, I didn’t end
up saying a word to my boss about this whole scenario until
It didn’t go down very
well. I got
Apparently, my boss took my
request as a form of ungratefulness. That wasn’t the case, of
course, but what else was I supposed to do? Well, I guess I could
have said no to the low-paying gamble of an internet show and yes
to a proper career and money. Leave it to me to the do the most
selfish and irresponsible thing.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve
been dealing with lately. I spent the whole weekend in a state of
catatonic shock, barely getting out of bed. It’s ironic because I
had dreamt about the day I could say goodbye to my job and now that
it actually happened, I was completely horrified. Granted, I had
always prayed that I would be let go in some massive layoff so I
could spend my days in total freedom while receiving unemployment
pay. But instead I got myself fired. It was humiliating,
devastating and 100% my fault, which made it that much
Thankfully, the only person
who knew about my predicament was my sister Ada. My parents would
eventually find out but I wanted to keep that from happening for as
long as possible.
All of this made tonight’s
show even more important. I hoped it would be just good enough so
my parents would have some faith in the project and faith in me.
That way when it came time to tell them about how I got fired they
wouldn’t see me as such a hopeless case. Maybe they would both
magically think that this show held the key to my future success
and financial independence. I knew that was asking a lot,
especially since I didn’t really believe it myself. In three weeks
I went from thinking my life was finally going somewhere, to
cursing myself for gambling on something so…silly.
will be fine,” Ada said, placing her hand on my shoulder. I jumped
out of my daydream (again) and looked down at her small hands, her
nails impeccably manicured for a 15-year old. I appreciated the
irony that a high school student was telling her older sister that
everything would be OK. Of course she would think that. Ada was a
gorgeous, skinny, popular 10
grader with a successful
fashion blog and the world on a platter. I was her 22-year old
loser sister who just lost her job due to her own
I swallowed hard, trying to
hide the bitterness somewhere deep inside, and gave her a meek
smile. “You promise?”