Book extract

Shadows in the Mist

by Maureen McMahon

The night was cool and I regretted not grabbing a jacket. I stood on the sandy bluff at the top of the beach steps, staring out across the inky expanse. The wind was strong, moaning morosely, setting the reeds and grasses shivering. The house behind me was lit like a birthday cake. The sound of music and laughter, the clink of glasses and the gabble of voices drifted out, muted by distance. I wrapped my arms around myself and searched the beach. David must be out here somewhere, unless he went back in during the séance and was hiding out upstairs.

         I was just about to turn and go when a light caught my eye. I stared through the dark and saw it again—just a flash, then gone. I frowned. It was coming from the room at the top of the lighthouse. No one should be up there. The entrance was boarded up long ago, the structure itself deemed unsafe. Leo would’ve had it pulled down years ago, if not for the local historical association who were trying to raise enough revenue to restore it. If one of the guests had decided to do some exploring, they could very well end up hurt.

         I wondered briefly where the security guards were as I hurried down the steps and across the beach, making my way to the rocky spit. I could hear the waves breaking against the outer rocks. I stood on the rocks and peered up the sheer walls to the small walkway with a balustrade that ringed the top. There was a window just below it and I could make out a dull glow coming from within.

         I had to feel my way across the rocks. I wished I had a flashlight but I reasoned if I went back for one, whoever was in there might be in trouble before I could warn them. My dress hindered my progress. I pulled the white skirt as high as possible and tied it up on one side to keep it from encumbering my movements. I was glad I wore flat shoes.

         The entrance appeared untouched. All the boards were in place. I pulled at them. One whole side was loosened and came away easily leaving a good-sized gap to squeeze through.

         Don’t let them get away with it! The message replayed in my mind. Where had it come from? Why had I said it?

         And why now, of all times, did it suddenly fill my head? Then I remembered. It was Rudy Coleman who said those same words—words spoken by my father in a ghastly dream. Coincidence? I shivered and reached a hand out in the dark interior to touch a heavy spider web. I must concentrate on what I was doing. There’d be time later to ponder that incident.

         The moonlight fell across the stone floor through the gap where I entered, barely illuminating the winding staircase. The steps were stone, set against the wall, circling up into the blackness above. I started up, one hand on the wall, the other on a banister that felt none too secure. I heard a faint scuffling coming from above. I should call out—there was no need for me to go up at all. But something kept me mute. Some inner voice bade me to go slowly, carefully and most of all, quietly.

         I crept on, feeling with each step, keeping as close to the wall as possible. I soon stopped holding the railing. It was very loose and there were huge sections missing altogether. The darkness was all-consuming, stifling—like the air, which was stale and musty, heavy with mildew and mold. The wall under my hand was damp and furred, fissured with cracks that attested to the deterioration of the foundation.

         By the time I was halfway up, my heart was beating uncontrollably and I had to pause, a cold sweat beginning to dampen my palms and underarms. I knew now why I didn’t call up. The movements above weren’t reckless. There was no laughter or raucous noise as one would expect from people who may have left the party for a bit of exploration. Whoever was here, was here for a purpose and instinct told me he or she wouldn’t welcome discovery.

         For a moment, I hesitated. I should go back and get help. If I could find David or Grant or Colin—or one of the security guards… But, having come this far, I was unwilling to retreat. Pure, illogical curiosity kept me moving upward.

Back to Book Extracts Menu



Make a Free Website with Yola.