Monday, January 24, 2011

Dead of Night excerpt by Victor J Banis

In Dead of Night, master storyteller Victor J Banis spins the tale of Calvin, whose parents were brutally murdered in a Manson-like intrusion. Calvin narrowly escapes the same fate. He spends time in an expensive private mental hospital, but when he returns home, he senses the presence of evil in the shadowy old mansion. Someone seems to follow him along the halls, and whispers just beyond his hearing.Gradually the terror escalates. A hand shakes him awake at night, just as it did on that fatal night. Cringing in his bed, he hears his father being murdered all over again, and then his mother. But is the mansion haunted-or is it Calvin?

Dead of Night
MLR Press (December, 2010)
ISBN: 978-1-60820-269-0 (print)
978-1-60820-279-9 (ebook)


I had the impression that there was something there in the house with me, some evil presence that followed me along those shadowed hall and whispered just out of the range of my hearing, something vague that I could not put my finger on.

I did not try, though, to name it, nor think why it was there. I did not want to know. But I was aware of it, always there, always following me.

At first, there was nothing concrete that I could describe, nothing happened—until that business with the beds…

* * *

He had been there for several days, without incident, when Calvin woke one night from a bad dream that fled his memory at once and only left him a lingering sense of unease. He lay for a moment, staring up at the ceiling, invisible in the darkness, and it came to him gradually, a feeling that he was not alone in the room.

Unmoving, he strained his ears at the silence. At first, he heard nothing, but then he became aware of faint noises that he could not identify, coming from the other bed in the room.

That had been Bobbie's bed and it had never been removed when Bobbie had left home. Year in, year out, it had remained exactly where and how it was, always neatly made up for the sleeper who no longer occupied it.

Now, though, Calvin grew increasingly certain that someone did occupy it. It sounded as if someone were in that bed, someone who slept badly, tossing and turning, the breathing increasingly heavy.

It gave him a feeling of horror, to think that someone was in the very room with him—not just in the house, where he had believed he was completely alone, but here, in this room, in the bed no more than five feet away from his—the bed into which he had so often crept, to cling to the safety of his brother's embrace. But whatever was there, it was surely not safety it offered.

He felt physically ill, and so terror stricken that for long moments he was unable to move at all. He lay as if some great weight was upon him, pressing him down, crushing the air from his lungs until he could scarcely draw a breath. His thoughts chased here and there, settling nowhere, like leaves before an autumn wind.

It was no use, though—he knew he would have to move, would have to see for himself what was in the room with him. It took all the strength, all the courage that he could summon just to turn his head, to look in that direction. He had left the curtains pulled back, and the waxing moon cast its faint light through the window.

His bed creaked faintly as he moved. He looked toward the other bed, the bed that should have been empty, and as he looked, something happened, so sudden and so startling that his heart actually seemed to stop beating.

Someone sat up in his bed. Not in Bobbie's bed, nearby, but in his own bed, directly beside him.
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