Dead Man's Curve
by Alex Van Tol
Genre: YA Horror (novella)
Release Date: October 17th 2016
Leap Books' Shine
It’s been two years since Booker broke up with Rachel, and he wants to get her back. Only problem is, he doesn’t realize it until he and his four friends are hip-deep in a deadly nightmare. They've run over a wispy figure on the highway on Halloween night and now something is preying on them, one by one, going after their deepest fears.
Lost and scared in the New England wilderness, the group realizes they’re trapped in their own twisted version of The Blair Witch Project. They're powerless against dark forces. When Rachel's life is threatened, Booker realizes it’s up to him to figure out a way to stop the unholy madness.
If he’s man enough to face it head on.
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“The clothes are the least of our problems,” she says. There’s fear in her voice. As she speaks, the light above us flickers. She reaches toward me and pulls my mask down, below my chin.
I look around. We’re sitting against the wall in a long, dim hallway. A few old metal chairs sit askew, tipped over on the dirty linoleum floor. Paint peels from the walls, its faded blue-green leaves curling away from the pinkish concrete below. Several doorways lead off the corridor, but no light comes from any of them. Something hisses through the pipes that run along the ceiling. One of them drips somewhere far away.
“Where are we?” I ask. A pile of broken beds hulks darkly at one end of the hallway, their legs a tangled forest of metal tubing. Heavy double doors block the other end of the hall. A reddish light shines through their round windows. They remind me of portholes. Or windows to hell.
I push the thought away. A bedpan, a scale and an old wheelchair form an obstacle course of abandoned equipment, separating us from the double doors.
Fuck. An old hospital. Far away, deep inside some other part of the rotting building’s bowels comes the haunting sound of someone screaming.
Rachel closes her eyes. “Welcome to my nightmare.”
“Then we need to get out of here,” I whisper. “STAT.” I stand and pull Rachel to her feet. My legs feel like rubber. My hand burns, but when I look at it there is no blood. No scab, even. Just a wide, pale scar across my palm where the cable seared through the skin.
An elevator dings in the wall nearby and I jump, my heart slamming. I hadn’t even noticed it. Rachel gasps and turns toward the sound. An old-fashioned curved display lights up above the doors. An arrow arcs across its face, pointing to each floor as the elevator moves. I watch, horrified, as the arrow shows the elevator’s descent.
“What the hell?” Rachel’s eyes are huge. “Why is it moving?”
“I don’t know. But I’m not sticking around to find out.”
“Oh, god.” Rachel’s got my hand in a death grip and she’s not letting go. I’m worried that she’s breathing so fast. They don’t teach you about hyperventilation in first aid. All I know about curing it is that it has something to do with breathing into a paper bag, and I’m not sure where I’d find one down here.
“It’s okay. We’re getting out of here,” I say.
“Which way are the stairs?”
“I don’t know.” I’m getting tired of hearing myself say those words. I rub my thumb across the back of her hand in what I hope is a reassuring way as I look up and down the hallway. Even though things are terrible, there’s something so good about having Rachel with me right now. She gives me confidence. Makes me feel stronger than I actually am. Even if she’s losing her shit, she’s still braver than any other chick I know.
Girl. Any other girl I know.
My adrenaline spikes. “What about that door at the end?” I ask, pointing to the circles of red light.
Rachel shakes her head. “I don’t want to go down there, Booker.”
I turn and look behind me, to where all the beds are piled up. “Well, this way is blocked. We won’t be able to move all that stuff out of the way in time.”
“We could try.” I can hear the desperation in her voice.
I almost take a step in that direction, but then I realize how ridiculous the idea is. There must be a dozen beds down at that end of the hall, all jammed together in a car-crash of a stack job. And they’re heavy hospital-grade beds, metal frames and all. We’d cut ourselves, or worse, crush a bone. “No way,” I say. “And anyway, who’s to say whatever is behind that door is any safer?”
Rachel studies the blocked doorway. She presses her lips together.
Ping! 7. Her hand tightens around mine.