The Nightmare Room
The Messy Man Series Book One
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Publisher: Harmful Monkey Press
Date of Publication: 1/25/2018
Number of pages: 273
Word Count: 45,000
Tagline: The past is always present in the Nightmare Room.
A boy in a basement, a man in a booth and a darkness that threatens to swallow them both…
New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter’s ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.
They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town—a house purchased by Peter’s father at auction and kept secret until now—and start to settle into their new life.
But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur—mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/8Qtce0shydM
The man threw open the basement door. A rush of mildewed air rose up from the darkness, like the hideous breath of some subterranean thing. He flicked on the light, and the cascade of descending stairs came into view. Among their number was the treacherous one midway down, the one that bent like a bow at the slightest weight.
“Are you going down on your own or do I have to make you?”
The boy looked up at his father. The anger that had fueled him thus far was fading, seemingly sapped by the trip from the boy’s bedroom. Instead, his father looked pained. If he didn’t know better, he might think the Old Man was about to cry. But his father had said he was tired. Dead tired. And perhaps it was as simple as that.
“I’ll go,” the boy whispered, and he took the first tentative step down.
The change in temperature was immediate; it was like diving into a cold pool. He took another step down, and another.
He paused on the third step and looked back at his father. The bare bulb above paled the man’s countenance. The grey circles under his eyes made him look like he’d been bludgeoned.
“Git!” the Old Man snarled. The boy went. When he reached the sagging step, he stopped, took a breath and leaped over it. His heel hit the lip of the next step, but the wood was damp, and the boy came down hard on his butt.
“Get some sleep. And no more dreams.”
As if he could help it.
His father closed the door, and the lock clicked. It would not open again until morning.
The boy descended the final few stairs and stepped onto the floor. Ice-cold cement sucked heat from his soles. He squinted, trying to adjust to the dark.
The usefulness of the light bulb ended a few feet into the basement. And there was no more source of light until he reached the…
The gears in his head ground to a halt, stopping short of allowing the dreaded name to be uttered.
He started picking out objects around him. The solemn metal face of the furnace, a stack of water softener salt bags, the frame of an old bicycle.
Straight ahead lay a distance of twenty or so feet before he’d come to a door. Three-quarters of that stretch was in pitch black. To get to the door, to get to the room, he had to dash through the darkness until his hand found the doorknob. Then, he would throw the door open, reach to his right, flip the wall switch and presto. An island of light in an ocean of black.
He girded himself for the sprint.
He hesitated…but why? He’d already made this run two times this week. Both Monday and Thursday, he’d awakened screaming, bringing down the Old Man’s wrath, and sending him here. To the penalty box. To time out. To the Night—
The boy startled at the sound of his own voice, and he lurched into motion. He hurtled into the darkness, his feet slapping the floor, echoing off the walls in hollow applause.
He bumped into something and spun, temporarily throwing himself and his inner compass off balance. He skidded across the floor and came to a stop.
Heart pounding in his chest, he quickly located the lit stairs off to his left. He made a rapid calculation and turned to face the invisible pathway to the room. He bolted, coming to a halt only when he slammed head-on into the door.
His hand floundered before finding the knob. He launched into his practiced routine. Open door, flip switch, step inside.
In seconds, the boy slipped into the room and slammed the door shut. A pink light overhead bathed him in imaginary warmth—he had made it.
He stepped back and sank into the waiting beanbag chair, facing the door. The small room with its mint green walls and rollaway bed felt almost welcoming, an odd feeling for a place that was meant as a punishment.
The boy pulled a quilt from the bed and wrapped it around him tight. For the first time in his life, he felt safe here in this room—in the Nightmare Room.
Because he hadn’t bumped into something out there in the dark. He had bumped into someone.
He was almost certain of it.
He kept one eye on the door as the minutes hummed past on the illuminated clock on the nightstand. He busied himself with crayon and paper, doodling to keep his mind quiet. Soon, his vision began to flutter; the room began to strobe. And, in the space between two breaths, the boy sank into his beanbag chair and fell into a fitful sleep.
The doorknob twitched.
The boy bolted upright. He pressed back into the chair. His whole body started shivering, and he feared he would wet himself for the second time that night.
A thought…no, a voice crept into his head.
The door quivered as if someone was leaning against it, trying to stifle a laugh. Nails scratched against the wood.
“Dad?” the boy whispered.
The door shuddered.
“Is that you?” Knowing it was not.
Chris Sorensen spends many days and nights locked away inside his own nightmare room. He is the narrator of over 200 audiobooks (including the award-winning The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix) and the recipient of three AudioFile Earphone Awards. Over the past fifteen years, the Butte Theater and Thin Air Theatre Company in Cripple Creek, Colorado have produced dozens of his plays including Dr. Jekyll’s Medicine Show, Werewolves of Poverty Gulch and The Vampire of Cripple Creek. He is the author of the middle grade book The Mad Scientists of New Jersey and has written numerous screenplay including Suckerville, Bee Tornado and The Roswell Project.