Chapter One

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I know the answer to a question that's plagued every generation.

Is there life after death...?

We all want to know the answer. At the same time we don't. Fear stops us from absorbing the reality of this query. I'm not talking about heaven or hell. What you believe or what I believe. I don't care to debate myths ancient or modern. I will not dispute how the mystic has represented itself in every story we recount to the generation that befalls our own.

We all know the unexplained is real. And we all know how to turn our head and go about our busy lives, acting as if the body we haunt is immortal and the crisis of today is more valuable than the state of our soul.

When we lose someone the brutal truth of mortality stills us. It focuses our attention on the moments we let pass as if they were ordinary. Some take this lesson to heart; they change for the better—after their sorrow hurts less, that is. Others don't.

Death touches everyone.

Only the few have seen behind the veil that lies between the unknown and us. Some are cursed with this vision. They feel the residual vibration of our ancient world. Some cringe in agony. They draw in as they feel the artic chill of a spirit loom closer. Emotions over take them. Their senses are stimulated to a point where their minds shape what others cannot see. I've watched 'sensitive souls' channel a spirit so violently that their life was hanging by a thread.

For every cursed soul who cannot ignore the thin veil they sense draping our perception, there are others seeking answers. Hunters—callers. Each of these paranormal investigators can tell you the exact moment when they turned from skeptic to a believer. Fear resonates in the tone of their voice, the glint in their eyes, how they draw their arms close to their body and stare into nothing. Sometimes I think they hunt to prove to themselves they're not crazy.

I'd imagine very few have convinced themselves they were mistaken. The truth is, the more you look, the more you see. When you open a door, the unknown will step through. Like in our world, the wicked show the least shyness. I've found most of those beings are petrified. When death came they rooted themselves in our plane of existence fearing the hell they were sure their acts deemed them worthy for. No one wants that kinda zip code.

For them, forming attachments to dwellings, artifacts, people—they adore paranormal hunters almost as much as sensitive souls—means survival.

I'm not a sensitive or a hunter calling out to the dead, not really.

They called me.

I can't recall a time when I didn't notice the dead. Even before I started to look for others like my crew and myself I knew I was different. I knew to act as if I never perceived the hidden world lacing through my own.

My crew...

Two of my best friends and the guy I knew was cut from my soul have always been there. Our families were friends and had lived through their own tragedies long before we were ever an idea.

My crew is like me.

Kinda, at least. We all hear the darkest of souls whisper around us. We've all found our own way to deal with it. When we call out to the dead, when we glare down the darkness—we never see—sense the same thing. Madison sees and feels the emotions of the souls, she knows what kind of shade they're throwing—what they really mean. Aden sees every missed chance to the path of righteousness the souls feel was robbed from them. His twin, my guy, Draven, sees the evil corners of the damned—he feels the torment of the damned and its victims—every moment that shocked the soul, or lead to it.

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