Here's a brief excerpt from my Young Adult Paranormal novel I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter. In this segment, the protagonist, 16-year-old Devin Mulwray, is exploring the old Rousten Manor in the dark with his friend Clive and they've just lost their source of light: a smartphone. Devin then has his first encounter with the spirit haunting the manor:
Devin felt around carefully. The darkness was so absolute he couldn’t see his hands in front of him.
He took a step to the side. There was a gruesome creak that went on as long as Devin kept his foot where he’d just put it. He pulled back, taking a full step backward, stumbling slightly over a bump in the carpet. Some other assorted groans and scuttlings echoed out. The darkness and chill were unnerving and a cold sweat broke out on his forehead. Devin wiped it away and after his hand passed across his eye, he noticed the glow of a dim light.
“Hey, Clive. You found the phone?”
Clive’s voice came from further away and lower than he expected. “No, still MIA.”
“Then what’s that glow?” Devin’s eyes darted, scanning around him, searching for the light’s source. He rotated to face what seemed like his previous position. Then his attention was drawn back to the shape of the stair banisters. A dim reddish-gray color glimmered above the railings against the darkness. Devin squinted, trying to discern where the light originated. As he watched, the colors pulsated in strength, from a misty incoherence to a firmer radiance.
“What glow?” Clive’s question came from further off, somewhere to Devin’s right.
“Where are you, man?”
“I don’t know. If I knew where I was I wouldn’t still be down here.”
“Intruggghhhlle,” came a guttural, smothered voice.
“You don’t have to call me names. I know this didn’t turn out so great, but it’s hardly my fault.”
“I didn’t call you anything,” said Devin, trying to maintain an even tone.
“Intruggggher,” came the underground-sounding speech again.
“Very funny,” said Clive drily. “I love the deep fuzzy voice. So creative.”
Devin scanned for Clive’s location, but his friend’s shape was completely undetectable. The dim red glow didn’t provide enough light to illuminate any space beyond the staircase. But when Devin looked back to the rusty glimmering, it was no longer a formless glob of weak light. Now there was a pronounced shape to it. A cloudy oval that was phasing into a gray shade behind a rust-colored bubble.
Devin took a few steps closer, the glow giving him some sense of direction. As he watched, the low, boomy voice sounded again. It came from the direction of the staircase and again repeated a single utterance, although this time its resemblance to an actual word as opposed to a muddy gurgle was closer.
Devin was going to say something to Clive, to urge him to check out the manifestation hovering over the staircase, a manifestation far more visible than any of the formless, noisy disruptions noticed in the manor so far, but his tongue was stuck to some newly adhesive part of his mouth and his uncooperative throat felt constricted by an unfamiliar tension.
As he watched, unmoving, the fuzzy globes continued their permutation. In the cloud of gray-maroon fogginess, densities started coalescing. A pair of dark rusty lines grew clearer near the bottom of the uppermost blob and deeper grey arcs appeared above. A weathered, lined, lighter gray prominence filtered into visibility at the top.
Devin felt he was watching a slow resurgence, a reformation of a long dormant entity. The densities and shades of color reconfigured in a slow but increasingly consistent mold.
The voice sounded out again. Devin tried focusing on the shape without letting his eyes drift or unknowingly distort the shapes or turn them into some object that wasn’t objectively there. But this time the voice coincided with a motion of the newly defined dark red gashes near the bottom of the wavering oval.
The lines moved in rhythm with the word, acting like a mid-air mouth floating in the misty glow.
Devin tried to call for Clive again, but his throat adamantly refused to work properly.
The glob continued to coalesce. If the maroon-shaded, thick-worm shapes near its bottom were looking more and more like a mouth, then the deep gray, recessed ovals above were becoming recognizable as a pair of grim, admonitory eyes, in a single, pupil-less, slate shade. A prominent, thick wedge of variegated grayness was poking forward into the dimensions of an uneven, rumpled nose even as Devin watched.
“Intruder,” it spoke again. And this time there was no doubt that the word came from the apparent mouth still settling into clarity. The positioning of the lips, in sober, thick straight lines, added to the sonorous tone of the voice, leaving little doubt that the word, never very positive, was being used in an incriminating sense.
Devin felt like he was under accusation, as though he needed to make a defense, explain that he and Clive had good reasons to be in the house, although they might appear to be unwarranted intruders. He felt compelled to give an explanation for being on the property to appease this possessive, angrily hovering head, but even as he ran through the reasons frantically in his mind, he couldn’t force himself to speak.
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