An Excerpt from A Demon Inside
by Rick R. Reed
© 2015 by Rick R. Reed
BLURB Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.
But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter’s terror
I walk to the stairway and look up. Up there, he lies asleep. I mount the steps slowly, knowing exactly where each one creaks. I avoid those places, wanting to be as silent as the night. Darkness and cold are almost palpable things pressed against my spine. Soon he will feel my blackness surrounding him, enfolding him in a blanket of rotting stench, a coverlet of cold.
Hunter lay asleep, the book open across his steadily rising and falling chest, his mouth open in a snore.
The light beside the bed was still on, but soon enough the dull illumination flickered… and died. Hunter turned in his sleep, and the book toppled to the floor. The sound it made roused him, and he opened his eyes to darkness. He sat up.
The first thing he noticed was the smell. Distant but growing, the odor was unmistakable—it was the same as last night. Hunter shuddered, slumped down in bed, and pulled the covers over his head. Underneath the blanket he had already begun to quake and shiver. The near suffocating warmth of the goose down comforter was no match for the chills and shivers pulsing through him. Hunter closed his eyes, praying the smell wasn’t the preamble to a repeat of the night before.
He curled into a tight ball, fetal, as he heard the creak of his bedroom door opening. He squeezed his eyes together and listened as the bottom of the door whispered across the wood floor, followed by the sound of a footstep. Hunter stuck his thumb in his mouth, something he hadn’t done since he’d been a small boy, barely aware he was doing it.
Another footstep. Hunter could swear the feet sounded wet, as if they’d come from a marsh. There was a soft squishing sound.
A whispering voice, raspy, cut through the darkness, distinct. Hunter tightened all his muscles and whimpered.
“Hunter.” There was warm, throaty laughter.
Slowly the blanket covering him began to move down. Hunter lay frozen, paralyzed. He felt the cold night air rush over him as the warmth was drawn away. The comforter continued to move downward, almost of its own accord, until Hunter lay exposed and shivering.
The laughter came again, almost a croaking. Hunter sucked in his breath, his heart thundering in his chest. In spite of the icy air in the house, his face was slick with sweat. Hunter didn’t want to breathe. Each inhalation forced him to take in a stench so powerful it coated his lungs in wetness and decay.
Hunter dared to open his eyes. Above him loomed… nothing. The darkness of the room was complete. Although he was certain he hadn’t done it, the heavy draperies had been drawn across all his windows, shutting out the moonlight. All Hunter saw was darkness so complete he felt he could reach out and touch it, scoop it up by the handful.
The voice continued to whisper his name, teasing. He couldn’t place where the voice emanated.
“I’ve come to see you again tonight.”
Hunter rolled onto his side, pulling his hands up over his ears. He could feel a weird sense of calm course through him as his terror began to morph into a peculiar numbness. Was this what going into shock felt like? Hunter pushed himself to speak, whispering the words into the pitch. “Who are you? What do you want?”
The response was a booming laugh that made him want to scream.
“I want you, of course. You, Hunter.”
“Get out of here!” Hunter at last shrieked. All sorts of thoughts came to him at once, the most prominent being that Michael Burt, no matter how clever, how deranged, how evil, could not be responsible for this. If anything, this was hysteria, Hunter’s own mind luring him into madness, causing hallucinations, trying to scare him away from the house for a reason he could not fathom.
It felt like the thing in his room—and he still couldn’t see anything but darkness—was pure, unadulterated evil. This last thought was preposterous, wasn’t it? Thinking like that surely was insane.
Hunter swallowed and tried to reach deep down within himself to find some reserves of courage he wasn’t even sure he possessed. But if he didn’t fight back, this thing—whoever or whatever it was—would win and would oust him. And if there was one thing he was sure of, it was that this thing wanted him out.
But this was his home, and he was not going to be forced out by a few bumps in the night. He sat up slowly as he allowed his terror to turn to rage. Even though he had the unshakeable and deeply disquieting fear that someone was there in the room with him, someone who meant him great harm, he forced himself to get up from his bed and shout, “Get the hell out of here. This is mine. Do you understand? Mine!”
Hunter had to cover his ears, sinking to his knees as the room filled with screams, sighs, groans, and laughter. All of it deep and penetrating, all of it at a roaring, ear-splitting volume, degenerating finally into a cacophony of voices, all speaking it once, unintelligible.
Hunter had no words left. He slumped to the floor and simply screamed. He trembled, falling forward and covering his head with his hands.
The room went silent.
And then the laughter began again, softly at first, hardly above a whisper.
“Hunter. I’m going to fuck you. Just wait.”
Hunter dragged himself to the bedside table, groped upward, and switched on the lamp.
The room was empty.
Hunter pulled himself up and moved to the mirror above the dresser. His face was completely white, eyes bulging slightly. Panting, he watched as the color slowly seeped back into his face. He reached out and touched his reflected image and then jerked his hand away from the icy glass. He touched his face, noting it was almost as cold as the glass. He looked deep into his own eyes, staring into the blackness of the pupil, trying to peer into that darkness, to see if somewhere inside lay the answer to his terror.
Completely unbidden, a tear fell, followed by three more. Hunter sniffed and forced himself to stop. He pulled the draperies open. To his dark-adapted eyes, the room filled with silver moonlight, almost day-bright.
And it was empty.
Rick R. Reed Biography Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.” Web: http://www.rickrreed.com Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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