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Darkwood Falls Paranormal Investigators: The Dead Truth

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There was a point in Shawn Nelson's life when she felt she lost everything. She was 26 years old and lost her job, broke up with her douche-bag boyfriend, and moved in with her neurotic cousin, Brandon. In a desperate need for a job, she accepted a position at the same place her cousin worked. . . which happened to be a ghost-hunting group; The Darkwood Falls Paranormal Investigators. This was the last place she thought she'd work because she didn't believe in anything she couldn't see. Not only that, but one of her new co-workers was being a complete ass-clown to her since her very first day of work. Does Shawn come to realize that some things are more real than she ever believed? Is her own cousin hiding something from her he should have told her years ago? Does her shit-donut coworker ever stop being such a jerk? You'll have to read to find out!

Horror / Thriller
M. C. Schmidt
5.0 2 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

This is an original work by M.C. Schmidt. Do not plagiarize. It is copyrighted.

Disclaimer: There is a lot of cursing in this book, so it if makes you uncomfortable, I just wanted to give you a heads up, and I apologize in advance.

Let me know if you see any grammar or spelling errors. I have edited this book so many times, but I keep missing things every single time. Sorry if you see any mistakes.

I dedicate this book to my soulmate; my cat, Dexter Schmidt. :)

“It is hopelessness, even more than pain, that crushes the soul.” -William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.

I was nine years old when I saw the ghost in the basement. I didn’t know she was a ghost at the time, I just knew I didn’t want to be in the same room as the lady with the bloody neck.

There are specific pieces of that memory that flash through my mind. The blood flowing from the pale lady’s throat stands out to me the most. I remember how red the blood looked in contrast to the white gown it was dripping on, and how sticky it looked in her dark hair. She reached out to me, her mouth moving as if she were trying to speak, but no sound came out. Of course, she couldn’t talk when her vocal cords were severed.

Seeing something like that is like being punched in the face. It comes out of nowhere, and you don’t know how to react at first. You freeze and the pain is delayed a moment until your brain registers what happened. That’s when you finally decide to take action, and whether it’s to run or fight is up to you.

As a terrified nine-year-old, I chose to run. I remember dropping my Sweet Valley Kids book on the dusty floor, then bolting up the stairs, my legs feeling like they weighed twice as much as they usually did. My foot caught on one of the steps and one of my white Keds went flying off. I smacked my chin on a step, and scraped my arms and legs, but I immediately pulled myself up. Adrenaline kept me from feeling any pain in the moment. When I reached the basement door, I started beating on it with my fists. I screamed. I cried. I begged for help.

I know you’re wondering why I didn’t just open the door by turning the damn knob. I already knew I wouldn’t have any luck there. The door was locked. I hadn’t locked it. I knew bloody-neck-lady hadn’t locked it either.

I was twenty-six years old when I stood in my cousin’s apartment living room soaking wet from the January rain, and clutching a duffel bag full of clothes. I didn’t believe in ghosts. I didn’t believe I saw what I saw when I was nine. I didn’t believe in anything.

“Rum or tequila?” Those were the first words my cousin, Brandon Nelson, said to me that night.

“Rum,” I said, dropping the wet duffel bag on the floor.

Brandon disappeared into the kitchen. I took off my drenched coat, tossed it on the couch, then dumped my weary body beside it. Pushing my wet hair out of my eyes, I gazed around at my cousin’s apartment. If I were to drop in on anyone else unexpectedly, they would have a few standard messes around the house. I might find some clothes on the floor, random dishes laying about, or at the very least, a speck of dust or a crumb. It made me think of that line from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: “And the one speck of food that he left in the house was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.” Brandon’s apartment was where mice came to starve. Not only that, but it smelled strongly of Febreze and lemon pledge. It was making my eyes water.

Other than the size of crumbs, Brandon had little else in common with the Grinch. For example: he was not green. He was also not likely to have a heart three sizes too small. It was actually quite the opposite. He was one of the sweetest people I knew.

Brandon came back into the living room with two glasses, a two-liter of soda, and a bottle of coconut rum featuring an eye-patched, peg-legged pirate on the front label.

“Okay, Shawn,” Brandon said, pouring the pirate-liquor in both glasses, “tell me again what happened. You were talking so fast on the phone, I could barely understand you.”

I looked up at my cousin. Another thing he didn’t have in common with most people, is that if you dropped in on anyone else at 10 o’ clock at night, they would probably be in their pajamas, or some kind of comfortable clothes. Brandon was still dressed in a blue button-up shirt and khakis.

“Are you the sympathetic bartender who wipes down the bar and listens to some sad girl bitch about her pathetic fucking life?”

“You still have the same foul mouth, I see,” Brandon said, taking a seat in the recliner next to the couch and leaning forward to pour soda in both glasses.

“Fuck yes, I do,” I said, grinning.

He slid one of the drinks on a coaster across the coffee table to me. “Well?”

“Okay, apparently you aren’t supposed to call your boss a bitch-a-saurus rex,” I said.

Brandon, who had been taking a sip of his own adult beverage, coughed and started choking. “What the hell is that?” he said, laughing.

I shrugged. “I don’t know. A cross between female dog and a dinosaur? Either way, it sounded good in my head, but not out loud to her.”

“So, she fired you?”

“That’s putting it mildly. Then when I told Matt, he flipped the fuck out,” I said, waving my hands wildly over my head as if that proved just how flipped out he was.

“Ah, yes. Matt,” Brandon said, darkly.

“You never liked him, did you?”

“Let’s just say he’s not who I would have preferred you to date,” he said, standing up and grabbing my wet duffel bag from his carpet, then taking it into the kitchen.

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. We broke up,” I said loud enough he could hear me from the kitchen.

He came back into the living room with a huge smile on his face.

“You could at least try to hide the fact that you are so pleased!” I said, snatching my glass from the table and taking a sip of my pirate-liquor.

“Sorry,” he said, returning to his recliner. He didn’t look it.

“It’s okay. I’m just joking anyway. Matt was always the reason why I stayed at that boring, demeaning job. He said it was stupid to quit a job with decent pay and benefits. He wouldn’t let me quit.”

“Wouldn’t let you?”

“Yes. You heard right. I am a spineless jellyfish. I always have been. Always will be,” I said, taking another drink, and feeling the alcohol burn all the way down my stomach. It was a satisfying feeling at the moment.

“That’s not true,” Brandon said.

“It is. You and I both know it from the amount of people I have just let treat me like garbage through the years. I was just scared.”

“But you broke up with him tonight.”

“Yeah, and I ran like a scared little girl after I did it. I threw all of my shit in my car and drove the hour across Kentucky from Snakewood to Darkwood Falls,” I said. “I ran. That’s what I’m good at . . . running from my problems.”

“I don’t think this is running. This is getting rid of the problem.”

“Well, thanks for letting me stay here. I promise I’ll be out of your hair as soon as possible,” I said, taking another big gulp of my drink, then setting it on the table.

“You’re not in my hair. Honestly, I don’t mind the company. Stay as long as you want,” he said.

“You say that now . . .” I said, watching him slide the coaster under my glass. “I at least need a job as soon as possible. Do you know of any place that’s hiring?”

“I do. . .” he seemed to hesitate.

“Okay, where?”

“The place I work.”

“And where is that? You’ve never told me. You act like it’s some big secret. Are you secretly a Hogwarts teacher, and the rest of us muggles aren’t supposed to know?” I joked.


“Nothing. Never mind. Just tell me what it is.”

“You don’t believe in certain things . . . ” he said, cautiously.

“Are you a pastor at a church? Come on, Brandon. Spit it out.”

“It’s a group. A paranormal group,” he finally admitted.

“A what?”

“We’re called the Darkwood Falls Paranormal Investigators,” he said quickly, avoiding my eyes.

“Um. Excuse me? Can you say that again?”

He took a big drink of his own beverage. “This is why I didn’t want to tell you. I knew you’d treat it like a joke. You don’t believe in anything you can’t see.”

“Yes. True.”

“We help people. If they think something is haunting them, we help them.”

“You mean like the ghost hunters on TV?” I said, gesturing to Brandon’s flat-screen that was currently off.

“Pretty much.”

“Hmm,” I said, picking up my glass again.

“Look, you said you needed a job, and I’m giving you an option. I can get you an interview with Richard, and at least you’ll have a job until something better comes along.”

“Who is Richard?”

“Richard Parker. He’s the leader of the group. The founder.”

I sighed. “Okay. Sounds great. Thanks, Brandon. This is just such a shitty situation.”

“Well, you could look on the bright side . . .” Brandon started to say.

“Here we go. We have Brandon Nelson’s list of sunny platitudes for every occasion,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“It balances out your pessimism,” he said, smirking.

“Well, have you ever seen a ghost on any of these investigations?” I asked him.

I was trying to be as polite as possible considering the guy had no hesitation about letting me live with him on the spur of the moment. He was also offering me a job, even if it did seem silly to me. I wasn’t exactly in a position to be picky about anything.

Brandon grabbed the bottle of pirate-liquor from the middle of the table, and started to pour himself another drink. “If I said yes, would you believe me?”

I finished off my drink, thinking carefully about my response. “I believe that you believe you have,” I finally replied.

“Not everything can be explained, Shawn.”

I said nothing in response and stared hard at my now empty glass I was clutching in my hands, trying to think of what to say next. I was distracted by a buzzing sound and my phone vibrating in my jeans pocket.

I pulled it out. “It’s Matt,” I said, feeling my stomach drop.

“Are you going to answer it?”

“No,” I said, hitting the reject button, and shoving it back into my pocket.

“I notice you don’t seem that upset about this whole break up thing,” Brandon pointed out.

“You mean because I’m not crying hysterically and eating a bucket of ice cream?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“I think the relationship was over a long time ago. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. There always seems to come a point in every relationship when you just look at someone and you think, ‘I really wish you would swallow a razor blade.’”

“Wow! That is both frightening and graphic. Also, I don’t think everyone feels that violent all the time.”

“Oh. It’s just me, I guess,” I said, shrugging. “It was like tonight was the last straw.”

“Well, I am honestly glad you left that whole situation,” he said. “Now, I do have a guest room you can stay.”

“That’s fine. I just need some sleep.”

“I’ll help you bring in the boxes from your car tomorrow. Right now, I’m going to go give Richard a call while you settle in.”

Brandon set his glass down on his coaster, took his cell phone out of his pocket, and walked down the hall toward his bedroom.

I sunk back into the couch, feeling weary. I looked around the apartment again. Something on one of Brandon’s many bookshelves caught my eye. It was a photo with a silver frame. It held an old picture of Brandon and I as kids, opening presents under the Christmas tree. I looked to be about six years old in the photo, so that would have made Brandon nine. I smiled to myself as I gazed at the picture. Even though we weren’t siblings, we still looked similar. Our bright blue eyes stood out, complemented by the white and blue lights on the tree behind us. My red hair was significantly darker than Brandon’s. While mine was a deep, cherry red, Brandon’s was more of a brownish auburn. We had both always been short our whole lives. I was now twenty-six years old, but only stood at 5′1, and Brandon only about 5′6.

A feeling of deep exhaustion was washing over me. I rubbed my heavy eyes. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep them open after such an eventful day that had ended with a rum drink. I sat up to grab the pirate-liquor, and began pouring another drink. This was certainly not where I wanted to be at the age of twenty-six. People expect you to do things a certain way. You’re supposed to go to college right out of high school, get your degree, and get a good, practical, decent paying job. You're supposed to get married and have children in your perfect home with the white-picket fence. That is not where life had taken me. Instead of having any of those things, I was a college drop-out who just quit my practical, decent paying job, and dumped the person who everyone had thought I was supposed to marry and have kids with. I didn’t have my own place, since I was now living with my cousin, which felt only marginally better than living in my parents’ basement. However, I knew that’s where I would have been if I had parents to go home to. Basements were not for me, though. I’d rather live in a ditch. Something told me that even though Brandon and I had always been best friends growing up, that we still had our significant differences, and it was possible that living together might cause us to clash a bit.

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself as I sat there on that couch, gulping down my second drink. I felt hopeless. Miserable. But neither of those feelings were a change from anything else I had ever felt in my life. I had never been happy, and it didn’t look like things were ever going to change for me. Not for the good, anyway. I was not the person society expected me to be, and for that, I felt like an absolute failure. What was the fucking point of me doing anything if it never worked out? Everything was fucking pointless.

Hopelessness. In my opinion, it’s the worst feeling there is. You can be angry or sad, and still have the motivation to keep living. Hopelessness takes away every single bit of that motivation from you. The question is; how do you keep going when you’ve reached the ultimate level of hopelessness? What do you do when you feel like there is absolutely no way your life could ever get better, no matter how hard you tried to fix it? It takes a strong person to reach the absolute depths of that feeling and still keep going. I didn’t feel like that strong person. I only felt dead inside.

“Okay,” I heard Brandon’s voice as he emerged from the hallway, “Richard agreed to give you an interview tomorrow at 8:00 am.”

“Great. Thanks, Brandon,” I said, starting to yawn, and setting my empty glass back on the table.

I saw his eyes dart to my coat I had thrown on the cushion next to me. “Oh, sorry,” I said, reaching for it.

He grabbed the coat before I could, “No problem. I’ll hang it up for you.” He gave a small smile before turning to make his way to the coat rack beside the door.

I wondered how long Brandon would be able to put up with his messy, pessimistic, hopeless younger cousin.

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