Authors: Karina Halle
Dex looked overjoyed to be
reunited with his electronics again. I looked up at Fred, who had a
grandfatherly face and a huge beard.
What’s going to happen to
Boy Boy?” I asked. “What about Rudy’s bar?”
Don’t you worry about those
things. I’m sure Boy Boy will show up and I know Will could use a
good friend right now. Everything’s in our hands. You guys just go
Maximus got up and
stretched his large frame. “He’s right you know. I got us all hotel
Thank goodness. I couldn’t
stay here another night without going insane, and I knew that the
place would be buzzing with the investigation until the wee hours
of the morning.
We shuffled out of the
house. Fred patted us on the back and sent us off. We didn’t get a
chance to say goodbye to Will but maybe that was for the best. We
did get a chance to wave at Miguel, who stood on the porch, shotgun
in hand. He kept his face stony and tipped his hat at us. For some
reason, it meant a lot.
We got into Maximus’s car
and drove in silence up the road. A few minutes later, the Jeep
came into view, stalled in the middle of the road, just where we
had left it.
Maximus parked his car and
handed me a room key. “Here you guys go. Room 13, for luck. See you
in the morning.”
I looked down at the room
key. There was only one of them. I guess I was sharing with Dex,
then. I met Maximus’s jovial eyes. He smiled to himself.
We got out of the car. He
waited until Dex was successfully able to start the car before
We didn’t waste much time
either. I never wanted to see the dark, unending desert again. Dex
gunned the car and we drove straight to the hotel. The drive was
quick and silent and I don’t think either of us breathed until the
lights of the hotel came into view like a comforting beacon. We
exhaled gratefully and made our way to the room.
Maximus’s car was parked
just a few doors down, another promising sight.
Dex flung open the door. It
was a small room, a bit dusty with a few roaches scattering when I
flung on the light, yet it was the most welcoming sight. It was
downtrodden but it felt safe.
Of course, there was only
one bed. Figured Maximus would set it up like that for a laugh. I
didn’t care though. Even if I had been put in another room, I would
not have been able to sleep without Dex at my side. Especially not
on this night, of all nights.
We put our bags down. I
pulled out a clean tee shirt and slipped it on in the bathroom. I
didn’t even look in the mirror. I was too tired and on autopilot to
deal with anything else except going to bed and putting this whole
trip behind me.
I came out of the bathroom
and Dex went in. We still weren’t saying much except for a few
small talk phrases. That was fine with me.
I got in on my side but
left the side table light on.
Dex came out of the
bathroom. I turned to look at him. He was thinner now, somehow. I
felt like I was looking at him through new eyes. I was envious of
how he could lose weight after only a few days, but I think I was
feeling a bit skinny as well. His chest was bruised and scratched
up from who knows what. He looked like a rough and tumble warrior,
world weary after war. I liked that idea of him very much. The
tattoos scrawled across his chest and arm only added to the
He got into bed and
switched off his bedside light.
Do you mind if I keep mine
on?” I asked. He shook his head.
Of course not.”
He rolled on his back and
stared up at the ceiling.
It won’t keep you
Kiddo, nothing is going to
keep me up tonight,” he answered. He turned his head to look at me
and opened his arm invitingly.
Are you going to come here
or not?” he asked, half serious.
I smiled shyly and moved
over, resting in the crook of his arm and placed my head on his
warm chest. His heart thumped steadily beneath it. The sound was
With his other hand he
brought the blanket in higher around us, tucking us in.
I started to drift off. But
there was one thing I had to say.
I hope you never stop
I could have sworn his
heart skipped a few beats. He tensed. Then relaxed.
As long as you’re around,”
he said softly, “I’ll be alive.”
Dex,” I said again,
mumbling into his chest.
I was fired from my job.
I see. Why didn’t you tell
I don’t know.”
You’ll be OK, kiddo. You’ll
He squeezed me with his arm
and placed a poignant kiss on my forehead.
I told you I’d get to the
bottom of you,” he said.
I smiled. I hoped he would.
Bit by bit.
The next morning we said
our goodbyes to Maximus. It seemed we had many goodbyes over that
weekend but this time we knew it would stick. For now, at least. He
seemed adamant that he would be visiting the Pacific Northwest
The drive back to the
airport was a long one. Thankfully, the air conditioner was working
again and blasted away the thick, muggy air that swooped down on
the plains with the incoming clouds. There was a constant threat of
rain that never came. It suited our moods.
As Dex drove, I flipped
through all the stuff we captured on our cameras and found that the
majority of the stuff was fairly useable. We didn’t capture
anything conclusive, not that I thought otherwise, but if Dex could
do his editing magic, I think we had a damn good story.
We talked more about the
show, what we should do next and what our plans were. We knew we
were extremely amateurish. If we were going to be taken seriously
at all, we would need to invest in fancy gadgets like EPGs, motion
detectors, heat detectors and all that sort of stuff the pros on TV
all had. Once we had equipment like that, it would help us out
immensely in providing some sort of proof that people needed,
instead of just some low-budget version of
The Blair Witch Project
I also thought we needed to
come up with some sort of plan with regards to the victims. If we
were going to go around messing up people’s lives and filming them,
whether we were invited or not, we needed a way to fix things after
we left. It was a tricky subject. Who would we call? There are
capture them into a neat little box. There were priests, but not
everyone was religious. I don’t even know what Dex believed
We’ll cross that bridge
when we come to it,” he told me. “One thing at a time.”
We were almost to
Albuquerque when we had to stop and fill the rental SUV up with
He started pumping and I
walked around the car, stretching my legs and arms. I walked over
to a fence post that bordered on the desert. Here the sun was
peeking out, giving hope to the doom and gloom we had driven
through. I hoped this was a sign of leaving that past
I sighed and took in a deep
breath. I still couldn’t really think about what happened. Dex and
I didn’t talk much about it in the car, other than in business
terms. To keep having our lives at stake…that was something to
think about, too. I mean, did I need special health insurance or
something? What if I had died last night? What would have
Of course, I couldn’t get
insurance without a job anyway. And that’s what was waiting back at
home for me. After all of this, I was going home to the same old
situation. It wasn’t as terrifying as before. Nothing would ever be
as terrifying after this weekend. But it was still something I
couldn’t run from, no matter how hard I tried.
And I couldn’t run from my
feelings for Dex either. I turned around and watched him top up the
tank. I wished the mere sight of him didn’t set my insides
He was going back to Jenn.
Did that kiss mean anything? Was it one of those, ‘I’m going to die
so why not,’ kind of things? Or did it mean more? And now that he
survived a weekend without drugs, did it mean he didn’t need them
in the first place? Maybe there was nothing wrong with him in the
Too many questions. I
thought I’d get answers to something this weekend but all it did
was raise new ones. I had a feeling this was going to happen every
time I was with him.
I kicked a stone with my
boot and started sauntering back to the Jeep. Our flight was
departing in a few hours and we needed to get going.
Dex was waiting for the
receipt to come out of the gas pump when I heard a SWOOSH from
above me and saw a shadow cross the ground.
I looked up.
A huge hawk passed by my
head, with inches to spare, and swooped towards the back of Dex’s
head, claws outstretched.
Dex!” I screamed and
started running towards him.
Dex turned in time to see
the hawk coming at him. He ducked, grabbed the gas pump from its
holder and swung it at the bird.
He missed but the hawk
veered off, crying loudly.
I ran up to Dex, heart in
my throat, and we watched it fly into the sky.
That’s the craziest thing
I’ve ever seen,” a woman cried out from behind us.
We both turned and looked
at her. The plump, thirty-something woman held onto her dazed, ice
cream eating son and made her way to her car, shaking her head in
Dex smiled at her. “We’ve
The woman looked perplexed,
but continued on her way. The little boy locked eyes with me in all
Dex walked around and got
into his side of the car.
I neatly placed the gas
nozzle back, got in my side, and we drove off down the road,
towards civilization and the way home.
I kept my eye on the door
side mirror to see if the hawk would appear, flying behind us, but
it never did. Until next time, maybe.
Keep reading for an excerpt
from Book Three of the Experiment in Terror Series,
Dead Sky Morning
DEAD SKY MORNING
My mind reeled awake like
the slow wind of undeveloped film. Everything was black. Very
black. A shade of coal darker than anything behind closed eyes. But
my eyes weren’t closed at all. They were open and squinting against
a light mist that burned them like salt.
Where was I?
I couldn’t bring my mind
around fast enough to remember anything concrete. But there were
thoughtless flashes. The reel in my head spun wildly, more shady
images skittering past the spokes. There was a forest. I was
running. I was hunted down by hounds. Or humans on four legs. Their
grotesque figures flickered in the woods like a waning pilot
My watery grave.” The
phrase floated around in my head.
I lay still. I was on my
back, on top of something awkward and bony. I told my limbs to move
but nothing happened. I concentrated, desperately finding some
light my retinas could latch on to, to give some meaning to where I
was and what was happening to me.
There were sounds,
suddenly, like ear plugs were plucked out of my head. I heard
muffled cries, like someone was yelling from far away and the
sloshing sounds of water encompassing the space around me. I had
the distinct feeling that I was floating as my inner ear rolled and
swayed inside my heavy head.
All my senses were coming
to me now. I could smell seawater and a putrid, decaying odor, like
rotted fruit and mold. I felt dampness at my back and, bit by bit,
the sensation that my hands were floating in ice cold
I tried to move my arms
again and this time they responded sluggishly. They had been in
water all this time even though the rest of me was dry. I moved
them out to the sides and they struck barriers with a force I
barely felt through my numbed skin. The sound of the impact echoed
around me. It told me I was in some sort of box or…or…
Panic swept through me. I
moved again, feeling like I was balanced precipitously on top of
something very peculiar. Whatever it was, it was smaller than the
length of my body and I noticed my legs had dropped off below at an
angle. I kicked them up. A spray of ice water fell up on top of my
shins and my waterlogged boots thunked against something
I felt all around me,
wildly placing my hands and feet on whatever surface they could
reach. I was in a box after all. The space above my head was only
about half a foot before a damp wooden ceiling cut me off from the
rest of the world.