Midnight Screams: Banshee Series Book 1
Midnight Screams: Banshee Series Book 1
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When Benton dreams, people die…
Every time Benton sleeps, he becomes a trapped passenger within a murderer’s skin; able to hear, see, and feel every part of their kill. When he wakes up, he knows it’s only a matter of time before his dreams become reality. No matter how hard he tries to stop the murders, it always ends the same way – with death.
After ten years of constantly relocating, his parents have decided to settle in Fort Wayward. A quiet Albertan town where Benton could focus on graduating high school and living an idyllic teenage life. That is, until he finds a dead body in his backyard.
Benton’s hopes for normalcy come crashing down as something new begins stalking his dreams. Something that’s not human. And, for the first time, he’s not the only one watching.
As his dreams and reality collide, Benton finds himself facing a monster beyond his understanding. In his fight for survival, Benton soon discovers why death follows him, why monsters draw close, and why he always wakes up screaming.
Fifteen minutes had passed and Nicole still couldn’t bring herself to knock. Her hand remained in the air, an inch from the wooden door, ready for the moment she finally scraped together her remaining shreds of courage. Nervous energy simmered under her skin and she bounced on the balls of her feet to try and work some of it out of her system.
“This is crazy,” she said out loud to break the silence. “You can do this. You do it all the time. Knuckles against the wood in a rhythmic fashion.”
She strained her breath through her teeth and said with all the casualness she could muster. “It’s just Vic.”
Hearing it out loud brought home how ridiculous she was being. She shrugged the tension out of her shoulders, put on her best smile, and knocked sharply on the front door. It swung open. The normal gentle squeak sounded like a gasping scream as it echoed through the bowels of the farmhouse. Nicole had never realized how well the drapes blocked out the honeyed light that normally filled the space. Drawn, only a soft glow managed to creep around the edges of the thick cloth, leaving the rest to the shadows. Her picnic basket’s wicker handle dug into her palms as she twisted her hands around it.
“Hello?” her voice quivered. “Mrs. Morton?”
The house remained deathly silent. Nicole inched one foot across the threshold and craned her neck to glance around the living room. Nothing moved and her stomach began to twist into a painful lump. Clocks could be set by the Morton family’s routine. It was fifteen minutes past midday on a Sunday. They should be in the middle of preparing their lunch right now.
A large amount of her childhood had been spent within these walls and she had never once hesitated to enter. But, as she looked around the familiar surroundings, something deep inside of her told her not to go in. Nicole flicked her eyes around the space, trying to pinpoint some kind of physical change that might be behind the tightening in her chest. Everything was just as she had remembered it, down to the deer statue with a chip in its right antler, and the cups Victor had made in their grade school art class. They had all leaked horribly so were used to decorate empty bookshelves instead. Nothing had changed. Still, she didn’t want to go in. She didn’t want to admit what was keeping her out.
“I’m just going to leave a note,” she called out to no one.
As if in answer, the kettle began to whistle, shrill and sharp. Nicole strained to hear the slightest sound of movement. The kettle was the kind that had to sit on gas burners to work. There was no way any of the Mortons would leave it unattended. But the rest of the house held its silence, holding its breath as the high-pitched squeal continued. She bounced restlessly on her toes. With one hand still clutching the basket handle, she lifted her other to her choker necklace. Thin trails of beads dropped down from it as she twisted them around her digits. No one came. Nothing stirred.
The sound pressed against her skull like a metal weight. She adjusted her grip, feeling her thundering heartbeat as she twisted and untwisted her fingers. Muttering under her breath, she rushed through the house, the heels of her boots clacking against the wood boards. A large pot of meat stew was on the stove next to the kettle and it filled the kitchen with a warm, hearty scent. She placed her basket on the countertop and quickly switched off both burners. The kettle’s cry drained away, drifting off until it finally died and returned her to the heavy silence. A cold chill worked its way down her spine and pooled in the pit of her stomach. She snatched up the basket again just to have something to do with her hands.
“Hello?” Nicole put a conscious effort into making her voice as cheerful as possible. “Anyone home?”
A sudden thump made her whip around. Footsteps. They thundered across the patio, the thin shafts of light flickering as someone passed through them. Nicole staggered back as she watched the person run. One moment they seemed to be in the living room, the next, merely a shadow playing across the windows from the outside. She watched the shadowed figure as it passed across the windows. But just before the person reached the front door, she blinked and it was gone.
“Mr. Morton?” she squeaked. It wasn’t him, she knew that, but it was a comfort to hear a voice, even if it was her own. “Vic?”
Her legs didn’t want to work, but she forced herself to dart back to the door. The sunlight burned her eyes, blinding her momentarily as she stepped out onto the porch. She blinked rapidly as she searched the farm’s front yard. Rolling plains stretched out in every direction, offering very few places for anyone to hide, but she couldn’t find a single trace of life. Not so much as a stray bird ghosting across the cloudless sky. Her grip tightened against the basket handle until her knuckles ached. Reluctantly, she turned to head back inside.
A startled yelp escaped her. Victor had silently slipped into the doorway. He stood staring at her, his eyes cold and unblinking.
Her words died in her throat as her surprise faded, and she was able to really see him. Only weeks ago, he would have filled the space with his impressive bulk. Now, his paling and blistering skin stretched over his bones like paper. His hair resembled wire as it hung down across his sunken and bloodshot eyes. The cracks in his lips ran deep enough for droplets of blood to seep out as he spoke.
“What are you doing here?”
It took a forced effort to arrange a smile onto her face. “Vic, I didn’t hear you. How are you feeling?”
Victor shifted his attention to the spot just to the side of the door. “She doesn’t want you here.”
Nicole leaned forward slightly, peeking around the corner to catch a glimpse of who he was looking at. No one was there.
“Your girlfriend?” she asked softly.
His eyes snapped back onto her. Nicole straightened instantly, her smile wavering under his unblinking glare. Every instinct told her to run, and it was only her mantra of ‘It’s Vic’ that kept her in place. Her heart throbbed so hard it created a stinging void within her chest, and her voice was far too chipper, even to her own ears.
“You know, you’ve never actually told me her name.”
Victor’s only response was to shift his eyes back to that empty spot behind the wall.
“Vic,” she rushed to say. “What’s going on with you?”
“With me?” he snarled.
She cringed under the outburst. Victor was normally sweet. Gentle. The type of guy that held onto his childlike nature with a sense of pride. All of that had crumbled in just a few weeks. Now he was volatile, unpredictable, and angry. Always angry.
Her words tripped over each other as they tumbled out of her mouth. “I just mean that we haven’t spoken in a long time. Catch me up. What’s new?”
Victor opened his mouth, but before he could respond, his attention shifted again. For a moment, he did nothing more than stare, as if listening to something she couldn’t hear. Nicole could barely contain the restless energy that crackled through her like a lightning storm. She jumped when Victor suddenly reached for the door.
She slammed her hand against the door, keeping him from closing it.
“Wait! Vic, look, I think that your girlfriend and I have gotten off on the wrong foot and I’ve been wracking my brain to try and figure out why.”
Anger flared across his face at the mention of his girlfriend, but he waited as she hurried through her words. She took that as a good sign. Even as she felt his anger like blades of ice.
“And I think that it’s my fault.”
Caught off guard, he didn’t offer any resistance as she pushed the door open a little more. Quickly, she checked the spot he kept glancing at, but still couldn’t see what he was looking at.
Victor didn’t attempt to keep his skepticism from his voice. “Really?”
“We’ve all known each other our entire lives. I took that for granted and I think I might have misjudged how daunting it would be for her to come into such a tight knit group. She might even feel unwanted. So, of course you’ve been pulling away, right?”
She held his eyes, her lungs turning to stone in her chest. It wasn’t exactly a lie, just a severely bent and edited truth, but Victor had always been able to read her. As such, it had been years since she had ever tried to put anything past him. Nicole searched the withered edges of his face, trying to pinpoint if he would believe her or not. The world teetered on a razor’s edge. She couldn’t begin to predict what would happen if he didn’t believe her, or if his girlfriend didn’t, and it was that uncertainty that made her restless and dizzy. Adrenaline pulsed through her, her body screaming at her to run. Unable to take the silence a moment longer, she continued her rehearsed speech at a rapid pace, thrusting the picnic basket at him with both hands.
“I made muffins. I thought that we might give them to her together. You know, sit down, and really get to know each other. Is she here?”
“She doesn’t want you here.”
“Are you sure you can’t tempt her?” She swung the basket slightly before him. The scent of freshly baked muffins trailed into the air, mixing with creamy white chocolate and fresh mint. They were his favorite. He hadn’t been able to resist them since she perfected the recipe. “They’re fresh from the oven. The chocolate is still gooey.”
Without a word, he let his eyes drift again. It felt like all her insides plummeted at once, leaving only a gaping hole inside that filled her with ice. He wasn’t staring at the regular place. His unblinking eyes were locked on a spot just over her right shoulder. Locking her legs, she refused to turn around.
“Can’t we just try?” she stammered. “We both love you, Vic, so we already have an ice breaker. And muffins!” She rattled the basket in a way that she hoped was tantalizing.
There was no light in his eyes as he watched her. No warmth. Not even the slightest hint of recognition. Nicole shifted as she waited, her arms beginning to cramp from holding the basket on outstretched arms. Then the wind shifted and she heard it. A hushed trail of whispers, words flowing too low and fast for her to make any sense of them. Nicole turned towards it before she could stop herself. There was no one else out on the patio, but the words continued. Heated breath washed against her ear.
Her heart lurched into her throat, swelling until she wheezed around it. She whirled back to face Victor. She began to shake, her knees threatening to drop out from under her. The whole world was reduced to the pair of hands rising up from behind Victor’s back. The fingers were unnaturally long, their joints displaced, allowing them to bend and twist in ways that would break human digits. Each nail was a perfect dagger of black opal. The thin, frail arms continued to grow, rising higher and higher until they towered over him. With liquid fluidity, they wrapped around Victor in a tight embrace. But there was no one behind him. All the while, the whispering continued.
She couldn’t speak. Couldn’t understand what she was seeing. Cold sweat prickled along her spine as Victor’s eyes rolled back into his head. When he spoke, his voice was as dead and severed as his gaze.
“Don’t come back.”
Victor slammed the door shut. The world turned silent. She didn’t know how long she stood there, staring at the door, images of the arms burned into her mind. Her body shook as she finally managed to take in a full breath.
Her whisper barely broke the silence.
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