Chapter 1

26.4K 696 357

Bad things happen in the dark.

Gwen Coleman pushed the unsettling thought aside as she entered the unlit basement. She glanced behind her at the doorway which was slightly ajar; the soft glow from the hallway the only light she had to see by.

"It's just a basement," she told herself as she took a shaky step down the wooden staircase. The room was silent except for the rapid thudding of her heartbeat.

She sucked in a breath when she heard a scratching sound coming from underneath the stairs. Her hands tightened around the box of Halloween decorations she was holding.

"There's nothing to be afraid of," she whispered as she descended onto the concrete flooring. "It's probably a rat. Or a mouse. Please be a mouse."

Still standing in front of the bottom step, Gwen unexpectedly felt something brush against her ankle. She squealed and tumbled forward, the box of decorations falling to the ground.

"Damn," she groaned as she slowly pushed herself up and picked up her box. Her eyes darted around the dimly lit space as she took a steady breath to calm herself. She made a mental note to buy some mouse traps.

A slamming of the door startled her and just as suddenly, she was cloaked in darkness. She nervously licked her lips as perspiration dotted her forehead. Gwen juggled the box in her left hand as her right hand reached out to guide her way in the darkness. She felt her feet bump into a box, knocking it over. She quickly sidestepped it. When her fingers wrapped around a thin metal cord, she pulled it downward and was encased in a flickering dim yellow light. The single hanging bulb swung back and forth casting dancing shadows all around her.

She felt an icy chill brush against her cheek, causing her to gasp. She quickly rushed towards one end of the basement and stood on her toes to place the box on the top shelf. A long creak filled the air and for a terrible moment, Gwen thought she wasn't alone. She closed her eyes in fear, her hands still on the box of decorations as the disturbing thought returned.

Bad things happen in the dark.

"Gweeennn," an unfamiliar whisper sang out to her. "Gweeennn, where are you?"

She swallowed hard as her body tensed with dread. Within moments a hand wrapped itself around her shoulder. A cry of panic escaped her throat as laughter surrounded her. She spun around to see Noah, her husband, holding his stomach in amusement.

"You idiot!" Gwen lightly shoved her hand against Noah who had picked up the box she had accidentally knocked over earlier.

"Did I scare you?" he smirked.

"No, I just peed my pants for fun," she answered dripping with sarcasm.

Noah made a show of sniffing the air, "I thought I smelled something weird."

Gwen cracked a smile before rolling her eyes, "You know I hate being in the dark. Why did you do that?"

He shrugged, "If you want to be the next Stephen King, you need to get over this fear you have of the dark. Besides, consider it payback for having me move all the other boxes down here. I didn't realize that when we moved, I'd be doing all the heavy lifting."

"I told you to hire professional movers," Gwen reminded him.

"Well if someone had a real job, maybe we could afford those professional movers."

His comment didn't carry any heat but Gwen's smile still faded. It was an argument she was tired of having. Her decision to become a published author was one she stood by. Unfortunately her speech about following her dreams was becoming steadily more difficult to make with each rejection letter she received. How could she explain to her husband that she loved creating imaginary worlds that helped readers escape from their boring lives? Originally, it was her grandmother that had spawned a fascination with the paranormal in Gwen. The elderly woman loved to tell tales of lost souls, poltergeists, and demons. Despite the strangeness of it, Gwen's dream was to write a horror book good enough to be published so that she could dedicate it to her grandmother. Instead of explaining this to her husband, she decided to change the subject.

Phantom LensRead this story for FREE!