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Listen closely. A creak, almost too light to be heard…was it the shifting of an old house, or footsteps down the hallway? Breathe softly, and strain to hear through the silence. That breeze against your neck might be a draught, or an open window. Slip into the pages of Spine and you’ll be persuaded to leave the lights on and door firmly bolted. From Steven Jenkins, bestselling author of FOURTEEN DAYS and BURN THE DEAD, this horror collection of eight stories go beyond the realm of terror to an entirely different kind of creepiness. Beneath innocent appearances lurk twisted minds and scary monsters, from soft scratches behind the wall, to the paranoia of walking through a crowd and knowing that every single eye is locked on you. In this world, voices lure lost souls to the cliff’s edge and illicit drugs offer glimpses of things few should see. Scientists tamper with the afterlife, and the strange happenings at a nursing home are not what they first seem. So don’t let that groan from the closet fool you. The monster is hiding right where you least expect it. “If you love scary campfire stories of ghosts, demonology, and all things that go bump in the night, then you’ll love this horror collection by author Steven Jenkins.” COLIN DAVIES – Director/Producer of BAFTA winning BBC’s The Coal-House.
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All Eyes On Me
It’s a Wonderful Death
The Devil’s Apprentice
Watch Over Me
One Pill For Perfect Vision
Also Available - Blue Skin: Book One
Also Available - Blue Skin: Book Two
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Also Available - Thea II: A Vampire Story
Also Available - Burn The Dead - Quarantine
Also Available - Burn The Dead: Purge
Also Available - Burn The Dead: Riot
Also Available - Eyes On You: A Ghost Story
Also Available - Under: A Short Horror Story
Also Available - Fourteen Days
Also Available - Rotten Bodies: A Zombie Short Story Collection
About the Author
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“He’s coming,” Nathan whispers from under the bed, his grip on my arm tightening.
“Shhhh. You have to stay very still,” I warn, my faint words almost inaudible. “He’ll hear you.”
The creaking of floorboards, the sudden ice-cold chill in the air, causes Nathan to tremble. He squeezes my arm even harder, his tiny fingernails digging into my skin. “He’s found us, Mum.”
I say nothing, my stare locked on the two large leather-booted feet directly in front of us. Pulling Nathan closer, my hand over his mouth, I watch the dead man circle the bed. “Naaathaaan,” he hisses deep from lungs that no longer exist. “There’s no need to hide. I just want to play with you.”
He knows we’re under here. I’m sure of it. I can sense it. He’s taunting us, revelling in our misery, our fear, like he does every night. I wish we had a better place to hide, somewhere a little more cunning than under the bed. But he moves so fast; there’s never any moment to hide. It’s only a matter of time before he finds us, hurts us, tries to smother us. Locks on doors and windows don’t keep the dead out. They always find a way in; through the cracks, through the air vents, the chimneys. We had the chimney sealed up last year, like most of the free world. But we were too late. The dead came for us just one year after that fateful day.
The day the world changed forever.
That’s the trouble with the world, with science: it can’t be left in the dark about anything. It has to delve, to pick at every mystery and miracle that creeps under the noses of scientists, and doctors. Why can’t we leave some anonymity to faith, or even fantasy? Do we really need to know how every clock ticks? How every engine runs? What it really is to be dead?
Is there nothing left out there to explore?
When Doctor Conrad Leigh Wilson first tried to prove the existence of ghosts, no one took him seriously. I mean, he wasn’t exactly the first to attempt it, to set up a camera, heat-sensitive equipment, electromagnetic detectors. All this had been done to death by minds even greater than his own.
But no one expected Wilson to actually succeed. To show the world, without a shadow of doubt, that death is not the end. Death is merely the beginning.
You see, the great, inspiring doctor invented a device: the use of powerful electromagnet fields and radiation to hold a spirit in one place, long enough to weaken it, to bring it to its knees. This was his breakthrough, his life’s work, his gift to us all. And now he could prove how naive the sceptics were. Some thought that the study was an abomination of God, of Creation itself. While others believed it gave solace in knowing through scientific fact that the afterlife no longer had to be taken on good faith.
But for me, for my late husband, James, and many others, it petrified us. We couldn’t shake off the feeling that something terrible was about to happen.
We couldn’t have been more right.
Once the world accepted the existence of ghosts, suddenly every house, every school, every office, became a breeding ground for the departed. Almost as if the great doctor had opened the floodgates for the dead to come out of the shadows, out from the dark corners, to join the rest of us. The living.
Over the next few years, numbers of reported disturbances skyrocketed. You could watch, with your very own eyes, loved ones pass away, only to rise again. But the good ones never stay on earth for more than a few minutes, just time enough to bid their farewells before being summoned towards a bright, blinding light. To peace.
Only the twisted, sadist, tormented sprits get left behind. There is no light for them. No Hell. No judgement. There is only the earth, to wallow in their mistakes, their misery, their self-pity.
But now we see them. Every last one of them. And every day we watch them gain strength, power. Hatred. You can run, but they’ll catch you. You can hide, but they will find you. The dead are always near, always watching.
Nathan doesn’t really understand what’s going on, what these things are. He thinks they’re just bad people, strangers to stay away from. He’s only six for Christ’s sake. He’s just a baby. But he knows they’re dangerous. I’ve taught him well. The line between life and death has been crossed; it has lost all meaning. He misses his father dearly, like any child would. I know that much, even though he can barely remember the man. He still talks about him, still asks me to tell stories about him. I tell him about all good times we had, all the wonderful days spent at the beach, on sunny holidays, weekends at his grandparents’ farm. I don’t tell him about the bad stuff. He doesn’t need to know yet. One day I’ll tell him though. When he’s older. When he can fully understand what kind of a father James was.
I’ll tell him the truth one day. Tell him what I did to his beloved father.
“Mummy!” Nathan screams, a cloud of cold air coming out of his mouth. “He’s got my leg!”
I turn to see James, crouched down on the floor, his hand on Nathan’s exposed ankle. “Leave him alone!” I yell, struggling to pull Nathan free. “You can’t have him! He’s not yours to take!”
This is our life now.
One day I will die. If I’m to stay on earth for what I did to James, so be it. At least I’ll always be near my little boy.
You had your filthy hands on him in life.
But I won’t let it happen in death…
There’s that scratching again. Inside the wall. Haven’t slept a wink in two days. Mum says it’s just old house creaks and squeaks, but I know different. There’s something living in there. Could be mice…or rats; that would explain the rustling and scraping. But it doesn’t explain the whispers.
I know it’s probably all in my head, that it’s just the sounds of the night forming words in my mind. But last night I’m sure I heard it hiss my name.
This was two in the morning and Mum and Dad were fast asleep, so it couldn’t have been them. And this is the attic room; I can barely hear anyone call up to me from downstairs. The walls, the door, they’re so thick, so old; almost no sound escapes. And why would they be calling me so early? Talking in their sleep perhaps?
Well, tomorrow Dad promised that he’d check the crawl space behind the wall for rats, put down a few traps. I think he’s doing it just to shut me up. But I don’t mind; I’ll gladly shut up if I can get a good night’s sleep again.
Dad unscrews the wooden panel that leads into the crawl space. The panel is just an old kitchen cupboard door that Dad put on when we moved in three months ago. I hated sharing a room with Rachel in the last house. Having my own space is great. And my little sister was never going to have the attic, especially with that steep staircase. She’s only five; she’s still a baby. But who am I to talk? I’m fourteen, and I can’t sleep ‘cause of a stupid bloody noise in the wall.
Dad props the panel up against my chest of drawers, and then switches on his torch. “If there’re rats in here, Henry, I’ll find ‘em.”
“What if they’re hiding?”
“Doesn’t matter. If they’re in here, I’ll see their droppings. And smell ‘em.”
I nod and step back as Dad crawls on his hands and knees and disappears into the wall.
The sound of echoed shuffling fills the room. Don’t know how he has the guts to go in there. I wouldn’t even if you paid me. Rats, bugs, claustrophobia. Monsters. No thank you. Must be a father thing. Wonder if you just stop being scared of things the day you become one? Can’t see it myself though. Think I’ll always be scared of those things. I’ll probably have to call my own kids to kill a spider, or to climb into the crawl space to hunt for rats. Or maybe I’ll just phone Dad.
At least ten minutes pass, and Dad still hasn’t come out. The sound of him rummaging has stopped and all I can hear is the fast beat of my heart. “Dad?” I say, nervously, stepping closer to the hole. “Everything all right?”
One hand on the wall, I bend down to look into the black hole. “Dad?” I repeat, this time a little louder. I can feel the panic start to creep over my body as I wait for an answer.
Please God let him be okay.
“Dad!” I shout. “Answer me!”
“No need to shout, Boy,” Dad says as his head appears out of the hole.
Sighing in relief, I step back and give him room to climb out. “Why didn’t you answer me when I called you?”
Dad stands up and brushes the dust off his shoulders and arms. “Sorry, Henry. I thought I saw something right in the back. I needed to stay quiet so I could catch the little bugger.”
“You saw something? What was it?”
“It was nothing. Just a house spider.”
My eyes widen in horror. “A house spider! Did you kill it?”
Dad shakes his head, flicking off more dust in the process. “Nope. Couldn’t catch him. Too fast.”
“What if he climbs out when I’m sleeping?”
“Don’t be so silly, Henry. This is an old house. There’s obviously going to be a few creepy crawlies lurking behind the walls.”
The thought of a giant spider crawling over my face in bed sends a shiver down my body. Think I’d prefer it to be a monster rather than a spider. “Just make sure you screw that panel on properly, Dad. Don’t want anything getting out.”
“Yes, Sergeant,” he says in a solider voice, saluting me. “Right away.”
I roll my eyes with a thin smile. “Very funny.”
Dad goes down on one knee again, picks up his screwdriver, and puts the panel back up, covering the hole. “Nothing’s getting out of here, Henry,” he says with confidence as he attaches it with the screws, “apart from,” he turns to me, his eyes wide, “THE GHOST!”
I snort. “What ghost?”
“The ghost of the missing boy. Hasn’t your mother told you the story yet?”
I give him a look of distrust, knowing full well how much Dad loves to tease me. “Grow up, Dad. I know you’re lying. I haven’t heard of a missing boy.”
“Really? Why do you think we got the house so cheap?”
“Because it’s bloody tiny, that’s why.”
“Watch your language, Henry. You’re not in school now.”
“We got this house for a bargain. Rising damp, giant spiders, a ghost boy in the attic, rats in the walls.” He starts to make his way out of the room. “Oh, and did I mention—it was built on an Indian burial ground, too?”
I shake my head as Dad leaves the room.
It’s been almost an hour since I came to bed and not a peep out of the wall. Whatever was in there, Dad must have scared it off. Hopefully not pissed it off. I thought I heard scratching about ten minutes ago, but it must have come from downstairs.
I close my tired eyes and pray for sleep to come. Normally, I hate going to bed; Mum usually has to pull me away from the couch. But now, as my head aches and my eyes sting, I’d gladly take my bed over another night sat in front of the TV, watching some rubbish film just to stay up a few minutes longer.
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