Terror in the Shadows vol. 16: Terror in the Shadows Anthology
Terror in the Shadows vol. 16: Terror in the Shadows Anthology
Terror in the Shadows vol. 16: Terror in the Shadows Anthology

Terror in the Shadows vol. 16: Terror in the Shadows Anthology

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Beware of shadows bearing gifts…

A young girl’s dollhouse comes alive at night, and its tiny residents possess a terrifying power. Fate stalks a young cult survivor as she struggles to escape a premonition of her own death. And a beautiful antique jewelry box reveals a dark hunger that threatens to consume its new owner…

Scare Street unleashes a dozen delightfully dark tales of horror in this ghastly new collection. A special gift, wrapped in black paper and tied with a blood red bow—just waiting for you to open it and see what’s inside…

So go ahead, untie the ribbon, peel away the shiny paper. Give it a little shake. Is something moving inside? As you lift the lid, you see two glowing eyes and a mouth filled with shark-like teeth.

Then you realize you’ve been misled... It’s not a present for you after all.

Before you even have a chance to scream, the monster claims its gift—you.

205 pages


Reflections

The hotel was a monolithic building of exposed brick and iron. Pressed against the tour bus window, Odette peered through the driving rain to marvel at the sheer size of it. As the bus inched into a parking spot on the opposite side of the road, Vanessa leaned across Odette to get a better look.

“So, that’s Hotel Blood, huh?” Vanessa whispered.

The building seemed to grow before their eyes, rearing up until the top floors scraped against the darkening sky. The afternoon light managed to penetrate the low-lying clouds and caught on the upper floor windows, while the rain poured down the siding to bubble into the garbage-riddled gutters.

The blare of a car’s horn snapped Odette from her daze. She blinked rapidly, suddenly aware that everyone around her had already begun to fuss with their equipment bags. Neither Odette nor Vanessa could believe their luck when they stumbled across Road and Rites, a cross-America bus tour company tailored to ghost hunters and cryptozoologists. For the past month, they had traveled from New York to LA, exploring abandoned asylums, camping out under haunted bridges, hiking through bayous and woods, and chasing down every local legend they had stumbled across. Hotel Caligula was one of their last stops and the one everyone had been looking forward to. Mike, their tour guide, had to block the aisle to stop the mass exodus.

“Okay, guys! I know we’re all eager to get going, but you’re going to have to listen to me for a second,” he called out over the chatter. “Everyone, look outside. This isn’t exactly a good neighborhood, so let’s be smart. Stick with the group, keep your valuables out of sight, and don’t leave any bags unattended. Got it? Come on, guys, I know you’re all tired and restless, but I’m going to need some verbal recognition here.”

Hunting ghosts together for a month had been a surprisingly good bonding exercise, and they all sang their response in perfect unison. “Okay, Mike.”

They chuckled as he responded like a long-suffering kindergarten teacher in desperate need of a drink. He made a show of moving his arm and allowing the crowd to funnel out into the rain. By the time Odette and Vanessa had repacked their belongings, they were the last ones out. So many people filled the streets that there was barely enough room to get their suitcases out from the vehicle’s undercarriage. Odette lost count of how many people she had apologized to by the time she had all of her belongings. It didn’t take long for the crosswalk sign to change, but they still got soaked to the bone.

Despite her rush, Odette couldn’t keep from studying the towering structure before her. With the rain pouring into her eyes and the sun quickly setting, it was hard to make out any details. She was halfway across the road when the evening lights kicked on, releasing a stark glow that struck the golden lettering bolted above the narrow entrance. Hotel Caligula. Odette’s breathing hitched in utter disbelief that she was actually here. She was finally going to stay at Hotel Blood.

“Odette!” Mike’s bellow made her jump, and she looked over to see him on the sidewalk, swinging his arms in an exaggerated walking motion. “We just talked about sticking with the group.”

“Sorry!” The wheels of her suitcases bounced against the drenched asphalt as she ran the rest of the way across the road.

Vanessa waited for her on the edge of the sidewalk while the others crammed into the front entrance’s narrow channel.

“Can’t focus for five seconds?” Vanessa teased.

Odette was in too good of a mood to do anything but shrug. Water sloshed around her suitcase as she dragged it out over the gutter, and, at last, they joined the people funneling into Hotel Caligula. Crossing the threshold changed everything. The rundown Los Angeles street was replaced by Old Hollywood glamour. A row of hanging Art Deco light fixtures gave the air a golden hue. A strip of marble flooring stretched out for a few yards before it reached the check-in desk. On either side, decorative stone pillars separated the main strip from the darkened sitting areas. A scattering of lamps fought back the shadows to create an ambient, candle-like glow.

The busy street noise was replaced by the steady trudge of the mob crossing the wet marble floor. A heady mix of anticipation and adrenaline flooded Odette’s veins, making her hands tremble and her heart flutter. I’m here. I’m actually here! Water trickled into her eyes, making the grand hotel blur around the edges of her vision. The air felt different, heavier in a way, just like she knew it would.

“Wow. Would you look at this place?” Vanessa said as she shuffled along behind Odette.

“See why I wanted to come here, now?”

“Oh, yeah.”

Mike herded the group to one side of the hallway and did a quick headcount to make sure there weren’t any strays. Carefully avoiding the long trails of rainwater that streaked the marble flooring, Vanessa and Odette joined the others, all of whom were only half-listening as they restacked their soggy bags and wrung out their clothes.

“You all know the drill by now,” Mike said. “I, as your fearless leader, have done all the grunt work. As always, you will need to show some identification and sign their disclaimers. I’ll grab the keys and will hand them out as we get to the elevators. I’m going to ask nicely that you don’t wander off just yet. I’m also reminding you that we have dinner reservations tonight.”

Everyone gave mild hums of agreement that Mike decided was good enough, and they all set off toward the reception desk. The whole spectrum of humanity clustered by the pillars and lingered in the sitting area. People who had clearly been homeless and struggling for years stood chatting with people plastered in Hollywood glitz. Expensive perfume and body odor wafted through the humid air. A naked man passed them at one point and, from what Odette could gather, only their tour group seemed to take any notice. Stifling a giggle, Vanessa leaned forward to watch the man walk away.

“I really like this place.”

Odette shook her head but couldn’t help but giggle.

Slicking her blonde hair off her face, Vanessa looked around again and gave a low whistle. “This place is a lot better off than I thought it would be. You know, given the clientele.”

“I guess marble holds up.”

“But why build something so pretty in such a shady part of town?”

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