I hope you’re all enjoying Ghoultown! It’s now available on Amazon and you can read it for FREE on Kindle Unlimited :D As I said in the previous post, I’m so excited to have this novella back out into the world. Originally published in 2013 by Musa Publishing, when the rights reverted back to me I had contemplated self publishing it but decided against it. I’m pleased it found a home at Vamptasy Publishing and so happy that SJ Davis gave it a new home. Now freshened up by a new round of edits (thank you, Catherine!), I hope both new and original readers love it :)
Boston is on its knees: one hundred sixteen infected, eighty-two dead. There is no sign that the attacks from the Dark will stop anytime soon.
In training with the FBI’s Reaper Team, Delilah Dalton and Milly Shores—two nineteen year olds with gifts to deal with the dead and the Dark—are caught up in the gruesome case. A case that will push their abilities to the limit.
If the team can’t stop the killing soon, South Boston will be nothing but a blood-drenched feeding ground for dark beasts.
The coppery taste of blood sang loudly in Delilah Dalton’s mouth, and the stench was so strong that vomit threatened.
And the door to the nice, brick house hasn’t been opened yet, she thought as a tinge of dread made her stomach tighten.
Coldness bit at the exposed skin on her face—late January in New England at its best. The brisk wind sank into the bottom of her jeans, wet from walking though just-plowed streets, but Delilah barely felt it. The death beyond the door made almost everything around her dull.
“There’s nothing out here, but in there,” Delilah raised an arm and gestured towards the white door, “while there’s no ghosts, I feel can feel leftover energy.”
“There’s no past out here either,” Milly Shores added, close to Delilah’s left side. “Whatever did the killing left no trace of the events out here.”
Whatever had gone wrong in the house was still in the house. Not the actual thing that had killed, but the evidence was still there—bodies, blood, things that would tell them what was doing the killing.
The other five crime scenes had held none of those.
The spirits of the dead had been long gone by the time their team had arrived, and the bodies of the dead had been eaten almost completely to bone—most of the bodies just had bits of stringy muscle clinging to bone. But here… Here there was something.
“I’m opening the door,” Quinn Isles announced, reaching for the doorknob.
Delilah knew that tone. His empathic gift was picking something up.
“Go in behind him,” Roman Casey said to her and Milly. “Tremble, Dawn, and I will be behind you.”
Delilah didn’t look at him, though he stood beside her. She heard the slight excitement in the Exorcist’s voice. The kind of excitement that said he knew they were about to have a break in the case. She’d known Roman since she was twelve, and now, at age nineteen, she could finally say she completely understood how much of a relief that feeling could be.
“Open it, Quinn,” Tremble Papadopoulos said from behind her. His gift was that of summoning non-human beasts, and his deep voice was not one that could be resisted.
Quinn turned the knob and pushed the door open. Delilah fought not to vomit, turning her head away from the door at the same time Milly did. They looked at each other, sharing an expression of disgust, covering their mouths and noses with their mittened hands.
Quinn, a retired Paranormal Detective for the FBI, walked through the door, which opened up to the living room. After a moment, she and Milly followed.
They stopped about five feet in—their eyes tearing up from the intense smell, which was worse now that they were close to it. The seventy-five degree temperature in the house was certainly not helping. No bodies were in the living room, but blood was splattered everywhere.
“They were surprised,” Milly said.
Everyone looked at her.
“And they saw someone they knew . . .” She shook her head. “I can’t see the person, but the sense is the person is male.”
Milly walked by Delilah and made her way slowly through the room. Her gift was seeing the past events of the dead. All she had to do was connect to the energy of a haunted area, and she could follow the path of a ghost wherever it led.
“Something came at them from behind the man . . . . There are flashes of black hair, beautiful coal eyes . . . .” she trailed off. “Teeth. I turn and run. I shout for everyone to run, to get out, but we can’t. The male has done something, I know this. He’s walled us in.”
Delilah kept close watch on her friend as Milly slipped further into the past, into whoever she was seeing through. While it didn’t happen often, it always made Delilah nervous when Milly started saying ‘I’ instead of the usual ‘he’ or ‘she’. Even knowing that certain members of the team could pull her back to the present because that alone could physically harm Milly.
Milly turned and walked toward Quinn, pausing next to him. She raised her hand to the swinging door. “I can’t get through the door. Something’s blocking me, keeping it closed . . . . I freeze. Something’s behind me, making a hideous sound. A hungry, raw growl that reverberates through me, making every nerve in me aware that I’m about to die and can’t do anything about it. But I’ll fight. No one in the house has a gift, but I’ll fight.”
She turned her head slightly, as if she were looking at Quinn, but that’s not what she was doing. “I push energy at the dark being without looking fully behind me. My energy doesn’t affect the being at all.
“I turn.” She turned, but didn’t move from the spot she was standing. Her hazel eyes, more yellow and brown, widened ever-so-slightly in surprise. “The eyes . . . there’s bronze with the coal . . . a wrap around the face, like you would wear in the desert to protect from the sand . . . .” Milly held her breath, and a sigh came seconds later, the past letting her go. At times, when in the past, Milly couldn’t come up with the word she needed because the person she was seeing out of couldn’t. That was rare, though.
Milly looked at Dawn. “Bronze in the eyes. The pupil was completely bronze, the coal black surrounded it. The entire eye was black except the pupil.”
Dawn Roland nodded—Delilah saw the movement out of the corner of her left eye. Dawn was the Spook Squad’s researcher—give the woman the barest of details on an attacker, and she could usually find the answers within twenty-four hours, normally less.
But Milly had just given them the first real evidence in this case to go on. Though, the description pointed to the one thing they were all dreading. The one being they were all hoping it wouldn’t be.
“Whoever was in the house with this family made certain they could not get out,” Milly said.
“We’ll discuss that when we’re done here,” Tremble told her. “You’ve given us plenty to go on.”
“She’s not the only one who can sense it,” Quinn said, running his hand through his salt and pepper hair.
Delilah had known Quinn for years, since he and his family had moved to Vermont when she was six years old. He and his wife, also an empath, had moved back to Boston five years ago. In her opinion, half of his gray hair had come from the last week and a half, when the case had pulled him back to the fold.
“No, she’s not,” Tremble said. “Whatever did this was summoned, and it’s ancient . . . as I’m certain, from Milly’s description, we all now know.”
“Pain, fear, and the will to live,” Quinn said, shaking his head. “Something was feeding on those emotions. But what I’m feeling is the leftovers, almost as if whatever was taking the emotions didn’t have time to finish its meal.”
They’d already figured out that more than one dark beastie had been involved. Too many dead, too many bitten, too little-to-nothing at the crime scenes. That took more than one beast.
The smell of death once again became prominent to Delilah’s nose, and she suddenly realized where the energy she’d felt outside was coming from. “The energy I’m feeling is coming from behind the door.”
“No dead?” Roman asked.
She looked at him as he walked up beside her. “No, just leftover energy. Much like the emotions that Quinn’s feeling.”
“For whatever reason, things didn’t end well for our attacker and his dark beings. Otherwise, this scene wouldn’t be giving the evidence it is. Remember that when you walk through this door.”
He was looking directly at her and Milly. Delilah knew he was just reminding them because these were fresh bodies, so to speak, and the scene wouldn’t be pretty. She and Milly were in training, and though they had seen many ghastly things, this would probably be one of the worst.
They carefully walked through the blood on the floor and stood about two feet behind Roman and Quinn. Dawn and Tremble waited the same distance behind them. Delilah stuffed her mittens into her coat pocket and shared a brief look with Milly before looking ahead again.
Roman opened the swinging door easily, nothing impeding his way through, which solidified what Milly had seen. Whoever had instigated the attack had been keeping everyone in, while keeping the outside world out.
The wretched odor was much more potent once the door was opened. Delilah froze for a moment then pushed the smell back in her mind, forcing it into the background. The others could push out smells such as this one in a less than blink. She was getting there—close, but not quite.
She didn’t need to step fully into the room—the kitchen, it turned out—to see the first body. It was lying on top of the small island. Blood, bits of internal organs, and muscle caked the granite surface. Her gaze was glued to that body as she carefully walked into the blood-soaked room, taking small steps so she wouldn’t slip. The closer she drew, the more she realized why she was unable to look away.
“No wonder,” she whispered.
“No wonder what, Delilah?” Quinn asked as he approached the body from the other side of the island.
Looking up at him, she shook her head. “I thought that maybe whoever was orchestrating the killings was taking the spirits once they left the body, like a Syphon can, but that wasn’t what I was sensing at all. They were being taken as they left the body, while they were dying.”
Quinn’s face paled slightly at her words, and she didn’t blame the empath. What she said would be the reason emotions were left behind. Even she knew that much leftover residue was not a good sign of things to come. Something had gone very wrong during the attack.
“So this woman’s spirit was taken while she was still being . . . eaten?” Quinn asked.
Delilah nodded then looked at the rest of the room, or rather, what was in it. The amount of blood and bits of flesh and tissue in the room hit her suddenly, as did the five other bodies. One was almost completely bone, the other four were close behind—stringy flesh and muscle scattered over them. One still had their face intact with an expression of pure fear and horror still there and eyes open.
“The others,” she started, then cleared her throat, wiping it of the emotion she was feeling. “I can’t feel anything from them. But this one . . .” She shook her head, looking at the island once more. “This one’s still very fresh.”
“Too fresh. I can still feel the filth from the Dark,” Roman said, voice grim. “Whatever was in this room was interrupted, and not only was it interrupted, it was pushed out. Someone exorcised it from its meal,” he said, his arms spreading out to address the carnage that surrounded them. His eyes narrowed. “We missed our killers by less than an hour.”