Whispers in the Dark: The Dollmaker's Curse Series Book 2
Whispers in the Dark: The Dollmaker's Curse Series Book 2
Whispers in the Dark: The Dollmaker's Curse Series Book 2

Whispers in the Dark: The Dollmaker's Curse Series Book 2

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A deadly spirit weaves fantasy and illusion for its prey...

Fiona Garris barely remembers her old life as a freelance photographer. Now she finds herself thrust into a terrifying world of supernatural horror. Evil has been unleashed. And she is the only thing standing between innocent lives and a group of miniature killers…

After surviving her first brush with death, Fiona must once more join forces with Tick Tock, as they race to stop another evil toy that has escaped from her uncle’s vault. A ventriloquist doll known as Baskin, traps its prey in a web of illusions and dreams, making them live out their fantasies.

But the doll’s spell comes with a hefty price… It feeds upon the life force of those it enthralls, reducing them to withered husks. Now, more and more people are falling victim to Baskin’s enchantment. And there’s only one way to pierce the veil of illusion it has created.

To stop this malevolent creature, Fiona must team up with her greatest enemy… Ambrose Wilkes. The man responsible for the chaos they are in.

Will Fiona and Wilkes stop Baskin in time?

Or will they themselves fall to Baskin’s deadly whispers?

199 pages

Chapter 3

The interior of the Webber Building looked like a mosaic designed by a madman. The basic structure was there, and it looked like a hundred other old apartment buildings she’d seen in her life. A sterile little lobby area with a sofa and some potted plants was on one side. A bank of tiny mailboxes lined the opposite wall, and at the far end of the lobby were a pair of elevators. But a handful of holes in space separated Fiona from the elevators. More windows, portals to other places that didn’t really exist, were peppered across the lobby and extended into the walls of the building’s interior.

She needed to find her uncle but had no idea where to begin. Her first instinct had been to look across the street where, in her mind, she had left him. But she had not done that. Her truck wasn’t even parked out there. There was no motel, no room in which she and Henry had spoken. And if the motel was an illusion, maybe her interaction with Henry had been as well. Maybe she’d lost him at Baskin Tool and Die. Or even earlier. Maybe she’d already been in this place for hours and didn’t realize it.

Wilkes opened the door behind her and entered the lobby as well, taking stock of the room.

“I thought you were going upstairs,” he said.

“Just getting my bearings,” she explained.

The illusions were too real, and it frustrated her. There had to have been a moment when she first entered Baskin’s circle of influence. But she had no way to determine when that had been. On the road? she thought—but perhaps not. She was confident the morning had been real. Getting Henry and driving to find Baskin had been real. But then, at some point, things went sideways.

“So, the people outside, they’ll just see the diner here?” she asked.

Wilkes shook his head.

“Maybe. Some will see this building, I’m sure. Or this park here,” he said, pointing at an illusion of green grass and blue skies.

“And everyone just thinks it’s normal,” she marveled.

“As you did at first.”

“Search down here. I’ll start at the top. If we meet in the middle… well, we’ll have to think of a Plan B,” she said, heading towards an elevator. If Henry had fallen prey, he could be in any illusion in the building, thinking it was real as well. He could be with an illusion version of Fiona, having no idea he was trapped. There were too many variables for her to try to figure out.

“Plan B is death,” Wilkes told her.

“Just do your job,” she said, not looking back at him.

She sidestepped an illusion at the elevator and looked for a stairwell. She didn’t want to see how an elevator handled passing in and out of fake reality. She figured it would be safer to walk.

Wilkes said nothing else as she left him behind. The stairwell door was down a hall to the left. She passed by an illusion bubble in which a man seemed to be on a boat. He was dancing with a woman much younger than he was. Fiona glanced inside, and the woman's image flickered, giving away her fakeness. She was beautiful, though, whoever she might have been. And the man, the real man, looked as though he were as happy as could be. He didn’t even notice the thin tendrils of ethereal webbing that had descended on him.

The difference between Baskin and Krov was stunning. Krov was a nightmare. A killer who terrorized and caused pain and suffering. But Baskin… she didn’t even know what to call it. It was killing its victims but doing it with joy and nostalgia. It trapped people in what looked like pure happiness. It was all an illusion, sure. But the people never realized. It was insidious.

You can catch more flies with honey, her mother would say from time to time when Fiona was a child. It was years before she even heard the end of the sentence and understood what her mother meant. But it was what Baskin did. How much easier was it to hunt prey when the prey wanted to stay put? When they were too overjoyed to know they were being consumed?

Fiona ascended the steps, listening to her own footfalls echoing up the stairwell. The edges of a handful of illusions pushed through the walls, but only just. The stairway itself was all but devoid of them. She suspected most of the victims were people in their apartments who never even realized they needed to flee. Each one probably held its own bubble. And one of them had to hold Baskin. A needle in a haystack, she thought. A ventriloquist dummy in a sea of lies.

She reached the top of the stairs and pushed the door open. Wind pulled at her hair. She’d gone all the way up to the building’s rooftop. A handful of paces from the door, an illusion bubble sat in the center of the empty space. It almost looked like a snow globe, just a sphere that held its own world inside, while the real world still existed all around it. Fiona lifted the glasses, and the illusion rushed forth.

She was in a brightly lit room, with photographs displayed in simple frames along the walls and small, free-standing displays. She recognized the place right away. It was the Metro, the museum downtown. She’d been to numerous photography shows there in the past.

She dropped the glasses quickly, and the illusion receded, giving her the freedom to approach it on her own terms, to look inside like she was part of some immersive game. A woman was in it, sitting on a bench and just looking at one of the displays, a faint smile on her face. Fiona approached, and the illusion moved and shifted to accommodate the glasses’ enchantment.

There was no sign of the doll in the illusion. She moved forward, causing it to move around her, showing off the gallery space. There were no hidden rooms or doors that led to dark places here. No doll feeding on clueless victims.

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