First chapter of DARK AND DEADLY THINGS...
It is a strange feeling in life to watch your ghost hunter of a father live on TV while eating popcorn next to your dead mother.
That’s not entirely true. It’s a strange feeling to be sure, and my mother is most assuredly dead. But she isn’t next to me. She’s across the room, standing between the old mahogany grandfather clock that needs to be dusted and the old cabinet television that belonged to my grandma in the eighties. It doesn’t work anymore, the television that is. Now the cabinet is used as a stand for the newer TV version, one that I don’t have to get up and change the channels on.
My mother looks like television static. She’s glitching, coming in and out of focus. Her white gown is splattered with dark, red blood. Her hair is black and soaking wet. If I didn’t know better, and I do know better, I’d say there would be a puddle of water under her when she disappears. But there won’t be. There never is. I hate to admit that I’ve looked before. Guess I’m a curious sort.
I don’t know why my mother is in a white gown or why her hair is wet. The last time I saw her, she had on jeans and a black t-shirt. And I have no idea where the blood came from, and she can’t tell me. Oh she moves her mouth like she’s trying to communicate. She even screams at me sometimes, silent screams that break my heart and make me cover my eyes. I don’t want to see her. I don’t want to see any of them.
They never found my mom’s body.
I think she’s trying to tell me what happened to her, but I can’t make it out. I’m sorry about that. I’ve even tried the Electronic Voice Phenomena machines I used to use on the hunts. Heck, I got an EVP app on my phone to try to understand her. Nothing works. I’ve told her that many times. I’m not sure she believes me. I’m not sure I believe myself.
I toss another popcorn kernel in my mouth and try my hardest to ignore her. She doesn’t make it easy.
Voices from the television draw my attention.
“Is there anyone here with us?”
“God, Silas, these EMF readings are off the chart.”
My mother glares in my father’s direction on the screen.
She’s not happy with him.
I can relate.
She glares in my direction.
She’s not happy with me.
I can relate to that too.
“Yeah, huge spikes in this corner too. Think we should do a reading?” Silas asks like he doesn’t know the answer. Like this isn’t one big scam, with every word and every camera angle painstakingly mapped out. I know this because up until six months ago, I was right there with them. Beside my father, gathering evidence and kissing Silas in dark corners in the supposedly haunted house on the night vision camera.
It made the network happy.
Truth be told, it made me happy.
I truly thought Silas Ford loved me. I think he did at one time. I know I loved him.
Then Mom died.
And I turned twenty-one.
After that, the world went to hell.
Mom has glitched next to the window. I can see the curtains blowing through her. This won’t cause me to need therapy in the least. Somehow, I don’t think any therapist worth his or her salt will believe me anyway.
The host, Stan, comes over to Silas and my dad, joining their EMF discussion. Stan reminds the viewers that we are live at Hale House, the sight of many violent hauntings. Mama and little girl Hale believe in the ghosts. The dad doesn’t. College-aged son, Abel, doesn’t either. He’s in the living room with the rest of the family, watching the ghost hunt unfold on the live feed along with the folks tuning in.
The network has done a live Halloween event for the past five years. This is the one that means the most. Do or die. Canceled or renewed. I overheard my dad and Mr. Owens at the studio talking a few weeks before I quit. Ratings are way down, and they are having a dry ghost spell—a dry real ghost spell, that is. If they don’t get better evidence quick, it’ll be over with. No more Dark and Deadly Things.
Little does Mr. Owens know that my dad faked evidence way before that.
How do I know that?
My mom glitches again, and I throw another piece of popcorn in my mouth. I shouldn’t be watching the show. I should be out with my friends getting drunk or, at the very least, watching something that isn’t this. I don’t know why I’m curious about it. I guess I want to give my dad the benefit of the doubt. Even though he’s been faking ghost evidence for months, I want this time to be the real deal. Just once I want to think the best of him.
My mother’s mouth moves, and her brows furrow.
I suppose it’s bad to want real ghosts to be haunting the Hale House. I mean, from what I’ve gathered from Stan, a bastard who can’t keep his hands to himself, the little girl and the mom are pretty scared. The ghost, or whatever it is, has been knocking things around the house and slamming doors—typical things, in my experience. What makes this case unique is how adamantly the father is against it. Like he is living in complete denial. I’m rooting for the little girl. I know what it’s like to see things and have no one believe you.
The show cuts to my dad and Silas walking into the living room with the mom, dad, sister, and brother Hale. The little girl, who can’t be older than six, is huddled in her mom’s lap. The mom looks equally scared. The dad… I think he’d rather be anywhere else. The son? He’s… He looks about my age and is pretty to look at. Brown hair that is a bit too long. A five o’clock shadow. I can’t tell what color his eyes are, but I can bet they are one thing… dreamy.
My mom glitches and is gone.
I’m sure she will turn up again sometime.
I don’t mean to sound callous about my mom. I hate that she’s dead. I hate it so much. I love my mom, and at first I loved having her around, even in ghost form. But there’s nothing I can do for her. I can’t help her. I don’t know how she died, though I have an idea. Her body was never found.
I want to help her, and I can’t. I want to make it better for her, and there’s no way. How can you save something that is already dead? How can you fix it? No one believes me. Not even my dad, world famous Ghost chaser Roger Morgan, believes me… and he’s paid to find ghosts.
“We haven’t finished our investigation yet, but I wanted to sit you guys down and show you what we’ve found.”
“You’ve found nothing,” I mumble to the television as I slurp my drink. “Because you are a big fake!”
If there had been a ghost on television, I would have seen it. I don’t know why or how or when it started, but I’ve always been cursed to see ghosts, which, I suppose, is handy for a ghost hunter. Only my dad never believed me, and when I found out he was faking evidence, well, no matter how well Silas Ford kissed, I was gone like the wind.
Of course, by that time, I don’t think it mattered much to Silas either.
The family sits down at a large round table. The front door is to their back. The kitchen door is behind Silas and Roger. A hallway is to the family’s left.
“I want you to take a listen to what we found,” my dad says.
“Baby…” The EVP plays. “Baby.”
“Baby!” The mom jumps up. “It’s saying baby. Did you hear that, John?”
The father shakes his head. “Sounds like static to me.”
Clearly not static to me and obviously not to the people watching. The show’s live twitter feed, which is scrolling on the bottom as it airs, is going crazy. One lady even claimed to see a black figure in the hallway beside the Hale family. Good Lord. Everyone in this world has gone mad.
I suppose I have my father to thank for that. He used to catch real evidence. Now he manipulates millions of viewers.
The little girl is shaking.
My appetite is gone.
“That’s not what I heard, Mommy.” She’s adamant about this. “It doesn’t say baby. It says her name. It says Molly. And it says it’s going to kill you and me because you made her do it.”
“That’s enough!” John Hale slams his fist into the table, hushing the little girl instantly. She buries her face in her mother’s neck. “Stop this. Stop all of it. You faked the recording. I know you did! I’ve been reading up on you.”
I sit up and put the bowl of popcorn on the table. Oh my… this might be getting good.
“I haven’t. I’ve never…”
“Don’t play stupid with me, Roger Morgan. I know all about you. Faking evidence when you can’t find any.”
“You invited me here.” My dad sits up straighter, and his eyes cut to the camera and back to John.
This is live television, people. My dad’s livelihood is on the line. If this goes sour, he loses everything… everything that’s important. He’s already lost me.
“She invited you!” He points his finger accusingly at his wife whose face has turned the same color as my father’s. “She did! I think she’s filling my daughter’s imagination with nonsense!”
My father puts his hands out as if to calm John Hale. “Listen, I haven’t faked anything…”
Lie number one.
“That said, I have something else to show you… something we caught…”
The little girl shakes her mother’s shoulders. Even from here, I can see the fear in her eyes. “It doesn’t say baby, Mommy. It says Molly. It says it’s going to kill us because of you.”
The mother pulls the daughter close and rocks her gently. The mom looks terrified. I would too if some ghost called Molly said she was going to kill me.
The men aren’t paying attention to them. Of course they aren’t. My dad hasn’t paid attention when any female speaks in months.
“If you just watch.” My father motions toward the computer screen next to him on the table.
“I don’t want to see it. Get out of my house.” John Hale stands, as does my father.
Silas stays sitting, and he smirks at the camera.
“Sir, you do have ghosts here. I know you do! But I wanted to reassure you… reassure your wife and daughter that no matter what we caught on EVP, there’s no reason to be afraid. I don’t think it has any malicious intent.”
John Hale’s eyes grow to be the size of saucers. “It said it was going to kill my wife and daughter, if you believe what Lindsey says! How much more malicious can you be?”
“You said you didn’t believe it.” My dad, always the voice of reason.
While Mr. Hale and my dad get into a verbal fight, which I’m afraid will escalate into a physical one—not that the network would mind, they’d probably love the publicity—something on the TV screen catches my eye. It’s behind the family, in the hallway coming from the bedrooms.
A black mass.
And it’s coming fast.
No… no… no!
The hair on my arms stands up as I accidentally kick the coffee table, knocking the bowl over and scattering popcorn to the floor. No. I’ve only ever seen something like that one time. I don’t want to see it again. This one is moving so much faster than the last one!
I fumble in my pocket until I find my cellphone and call my dad. He needs to get the family out. Now! They can’t go through what I went through!
I hear his phone ring on television, stopping his fight with John mid-insult. He pulls the phone from his pocket and looks at the name. Then my father looks straight into the camera, straight into me.
“Pick up the phone!” I scream.
My mom glitches in front of the television. She’s yelling something at me, something I don’t have time to understand. Without thinking, I sling the coffee table out of the way and slide through her until my nose is right on the television screen. “Answer your phone!”
The black mass glides through the doorway. “Dad!” I scream. “Answer the phone!” John Hale is still yelling at my father, but he is looking at the camera mounted toward the ceiling. Looking at me.
He taps it a few times and shakes his head, as he puts the phone back into his pocket.
“Dad, no!” I bang on the television harder. I end the call and fumble as I hit the redial button. He has to see it. He has to feel it.
I can feel the mass from here. Dark, violent, evil.
The mass stops right behind my father.
The little girl, Lindsey, points from the safety of her mother’s lap.
Mary hugs Lindsey and grabs her son by the leg. “You’re not getting them!” she screams.
The lights flicker.
Then the TV goes to static.
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About Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin is an Amazon bestseller and award-winning author. She loves abandoned house photography, ghost stories, and trying to figure out what goes bump in the night.
New Series Progress
Books by Kelly Martin
The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe
The Heartless Series:
Dark and Deadly Things
Dark and Devious Things
Dark and Dreadful Things
Dark and Desperate Things
Dark and Dangerous Things (AUG. 2017)
Fairy Tale Series
Betraying Ever After
The Beast of Ravenston
The Glass Coffin
The Deception of Devin Miller
B.I.G. is Beautiful: A Love Story
Out of the Blue
The Black Heart
Crossing the Deep
Saint Sloan Series
Love in the 80s
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
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