Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1)

By: Karina Halle



I stood in a round, white room with only a porthole-shaped window to break up the monotony. The view outside was nothing more than an inky void. The smell of tidal pools and rotting kelp seeped in through the cracks where the silicone had crumbled away. I didn’t know where I was or why I was there. But I knew something had summoned me.

I spun around, suddenly conscious of a door, and saw a saffron-colored glow spilling out from underneath the doorframe, mildly illuminating the stark walls. Chilled air flowed in with the light and tickled the tops of my bare feet. The blue nail polish on my toe was chipped, making it look like I had half a toenail. This caught my attention more than the cold hardwood floor and the rough splinters beneath.

The lights went out. The door whooshed open, almost soundlessly, and a huge rush of arctic wind battered my body, whipping my nightgown around me like a pink, polyester flag.

The floorboards creaked. I felt the weight of some unknown mass travel along the length of them to my feet. I couldn’t move and I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

The lights from outside the room came on again, illuminating the air abrasively. My eyes stung. A pounding sound filled my ears. I covered them with my hands until I realized it came from my very heart.

In the doorway I saw a silhouette of a man.

My heart, and the pounding, stopped. The man came for me, a mass of unfathomable malevolence. I screamed and screamed until the black depths of his silhouette was all I could see. I fell into him, fell into the darkness, in one never-ending cry.


A pair of hands grabbed my arms and pulled me up. They shook me until the darkness behind my eyes bled out into a blinding white.

And suddenly, I was in my bedroom lying underneath a smorgasbord of tangled sheets with my sister Ada peering over me. Her forehead furrowed with concern, making her look years older than fifteen.

She let go of my arms and stepped back.

“You scared the shit out of me, Perry,” she grumbled.

I propped myself up on my elbows and looked around my room at the concert posters on the walls and stacks of vinyl and CDs in the corner, taking comfort in their familiarity. My rarely touched electric guitar rested haphazardly against the window seat, a pleasing contrast to my stuffed animal collection.

I eyed my alarm clock. Two minutes until it blared uncontrollably. The observation was hazy, like I was not quite in my body yet.

“Well?” Ada said, crossing her arms. She was still in her pajamas, but her heavy-handed makeup was meticulously applied.

“Well what?” I repeated.

“Um, hello! Any explanation why your screams made me put down my mascara in mid-stroke and come rushing in here?”

“You have good hearing?”


Her voice bordered on a shrill hissy fit. Ada was always a degree or two away from full-on teenage angst.

“Well, I don’t know. I had a bad dream. Or something…”

It was a dream now, wasn’t it? My memory was disintegrating into bits and pieces, and the more I tried to recall it, the more I came up blank. But that feeling, that horrible feeling of dread still clung to the recesses of my mind like sticky cobwebs. Even the bright autumn sunshine that shone through my window wasn’t cleaning it up.

“Or something,” Ada scoffed. “It sounded like you were being murdered, you know. You’re lucky Mom didn’t hear you.”

She peered at me closer, inspecting my face for signs of mental illness. She did that often.

I rolled my eyes and got out of bed, feeling self-conscious with my thunder thighs rolling beneath my long Bad Religion T-shirt that doubled as a nightgown. Ada was as thin as a rail, but in the most envious way possible. She got the wholesome, toothsome Swedish good looks from my mother’s side of the family. Smooth skin, bright eyes, naturally blonde hair that she bleached (for some reason) and a long, lean build.

As my own luck would have it, I got my dad’s Italian side. Short (I’m 5’2”) with thick dark hair and big gray/blue eyes that acted as a mood ring (so I’ve been told). I’ve got a curvy build…at least that’s what I say when I feel like being nice to myself. In reality, I used to be about sixty pounds heavier, but despite the weight loss, it’s not enough. The fact is, I’m always blaming everything on those last fifteen pounds.

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