Web Serial: Episode One
Updated: Jan 20
A Dark Attachment
Warnings: Language, adult themes, mild violence
Genre: Horror, paranormal, magical realism
Over time, she had learned to enjoy the rush of goosebumps over her skin and the way hair stood up on the back of her neck. Sometimes, the fear kept the soul stitched to the body. More often than not, however, the fear merely made for interesting playback on the monitors.
Memphis Monroe had become accustomed to dark places and disembodied tappings since before she could drive. Dilapidated buildings were more home to her than any of the apartments and houses she shared with her mother and brother in the last three decades.
Tonight, she had stepped into an abandoned barn on the edge of an expansive property where a young family had begun renovating a turn of the century fixer upper.
Construction always brought out the other side, the dimension she often walked through in her search for answers.
Holding the digital recorder in one hand, Memphis smiled at the darkness. Something was watching her. She could feel the heavy, dark gaze focused on her, even in the pitch blackness. The camera in her other hand never so much as wavered. Among her colleagues, Memphis was known for the ice in her veins, for that steady camera even in the face of pure terror.
She stepped carefully around the fallen beams and rotted wood laying at her feet. Frayed rope lay coiled near the remains of a horse stall, which stood only to her knees now.
Since they had already walked the area during the day, Memphis paid no mind to the bones lying scattered on the manure-covered floor. The team already determined the remains were neither human nor fresh.
“Hello.” Memphis called out as she stood in the center of the barn. “Is the spirit who walks these grounds in here tonight?”
Wood creaked to her left. Memphis considered turning, but remained facing the pile of bones.
Her awareness reminded her, again, that something was watching her in the dark. Memphis marked the awareness as behind her, slightly to the left. It had not made a sound, so far as she knew, nor was it tapping on the walls or otherwise making itself known.
They were not sure what occupied the area around the barn and often stretched over the grounds. From the level of anxiety rising in her chest, Memphis was comfortable enough to believe it was on the wicked spectrum.
“Are you going to show yourself?” Memphis asked, adjusting her tone to invoke a subtle tease. “You seem to like showing off for the construction crew and Alice. Do you like Alice?”
A chill rushed behind her, the feel of it disturbing enough that Memphis opted to turn, at last.
By turning back and to the left, Memphis felt her eyes lock onto a spot in the inky darkness. Halfway up the support beam pitted by time, Memphis felt the presence glaring back at her.
“I want to see you.” Memphis encouraged. “Can you do something to show me you’re here?”
The crickets singing out in the tall grass had gone quiet. She could not hear the whine of the wind or the hum of their generators in the truck holding the rest of her team. Memphis suddenly felt alone in this decrepit place. A gaze she could not really see reflected malice back at her.
The digital recorder in her hand beeped twice, an alert that the batteries were running low. Memphis snorted with mild amusement. “Are you draining my batteries? How am I gonna prove we talked if I don’t have my recorder?”
Memphis pocketed the useless device, switching the night-vision camera into her right hand. She glanced over her shoulder, sending a two-fingered wave to the static camera set up at a hole in the rear wall of the barn. The indicator light moved to the right and then back to center, a communication from her team that they had her in frame.
Not that there was a chance Marisol Monroe would let her child out of her sight.
With that heavy, malevolent feeling on her back, Memphis shifted her gaze back to that dark corner. Again, she felt as though she locked eyes with the presence lingering there, though she could make out no change in the pitch darkness.
“I know you’re there.” Memphis continued. She aimed the camera in her hand toward the spot she could feel the stare.
On the night vision screen, she noted a small anomalous light hovering where the support beam stood. The weight of that malevolent stare continued to send her preservation instincts into overdrive, though her eyes told her there was nothing to be seen. In this line of work, Memphis knew better than to trust her eyes.
Memphis’ breath lodged in her chest. Her free hand dropped to the leg of her jeans. She hesitated a moment, then swiped her clammy palm on her thigh. The camera squeaked a little under the pressure of her grip.
The thing staring at her in the dark wanted something.
Legs wobbly, Memphis took another step toward that beam, where the now-vanished ball of light hovered moments before. A hum filled her ears, replacing the sudden, oppressive quiet. If anything were to move in a five mile radius, Memphis was sure she would hear it with her stressed out auditory system. Heaviness filled the air, forcing Memphis to take deeper breaths in an effort to get more oxygen into her lungs.
A low rasp, something akin to a growl, reverberated in her left ear.
Memphis swung to the side, taking a startled step away from the demonic sound. Her camera, as steady as she could keep it, moved with her, focusing on the area where that strange, malicious sound had echoed from.
“Are you trying to scare me?” Her voice wavered. It’s working.
The goosebumps on her skin swelled as though multiplying. Her heart slowed for a beat before it began to pound relentlessly against her breastbone. What she would call the usually rational part of her brain told her to drop the camera and run. Memphis wished she could give into that compulsion, but it was so familiar in her line of work, she suppressed it without thinking.
The side of her she always considered to be the daredevil desperately wished she had brought another recorder or a spirit box.
Digging deep into that daredevil side, Memphis forced her voice into a lighter tone.
“I just want to communicate with you.” Her voice echoed in the stillness. Memphis slowly panned the camera from left to right. The heavy gaze remained on her from that place on the pitted beam, but now she felt something else had entered the room. “Can you do something to show me your power?”
With the air thickening around her, Memphis continued to pan the camera in a slow circle. Her instinct told her not to take her eyes from the beam, but curiosity continued to make her decisions.
As her camera passed in front of the static tripod at the rear, Memphis caught another ball of light. She paused her motion, astonished when the ball of light swelled into a mist.
“Guys.” Memphis addressed her team, her voice audible on the static camera’s mic. “Are you getting this?” Before she could say anything more, a loud, malicious hiss sounded in her ear. Memphis shrieked, her camera moving with her toward the sound that sent chills racing over her body. Her heartrate skyrocketed so swiftly, Memphis was left with intense vertigo.
Her hand flew to the side of her head, the camera falling out of her hands. It landed on the dingy floor with a loud clang.
The sound acted as a starting bell.
Three knocks sounded on the wood around her. Memphis opened her eyes, her head still spinning, into near total darkness. She could no longer see the steady green light of the static camera.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Memphis knew how small, how tight her voice sounded. A rush of chilled air encircled her.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
“Are you doing this?” Memphis asked, unable to shake the twenty years of paranormal investigating, even in the face of fear. “Mocking the holy trinity?”
She threw her hands up to defend her face, but nothing could have prepared her for the impact.
Memphis’ feet swept from under her, the force tossing her a solid few feet backward. She landed in the remains of the horse stall, on the bed of animal bones abandoned long ago. Rotted wood and thick dust fell onto her.
Her shriek died as breath rushed from her lungs. All around her, she heard another hiss, a growl. This time, it mocked her.
Mom. Mom. Mom.
The entity’s cold fingers wrapped sharply around her ankle, pulling her with force toward the broken gate of the decrepit stall. As the gate gave way under her body, Memphis tried in vain to bat the creature away from her.
When the motion stopped, Memphis found herself unable to breathe. The hot, humid Virginia air refused to fill her lungs, as though something were compressing her chest. Indeed, a moment later Memphis realized something had sat on her chest. It had its cold hands around her neck, its weight heavy between her breasts.
Though every instinct told her not to look, Memphis opened her eyes.
The creature sitting on her chest was a being of pure nightmare. Squat, bald, with peeling gray flesh and holes of black where its eyes ought to have been. She could see through the entity, as though it were not quite solid. The weight of it, however, threatened to separate her body from soul.
Memphis knew there were things she could do in this moment. Toss holy water. Recite the Lord’s prayer. Hope like hell her team got inside before she died.
All the things she ought to do, however, flew out of her brain. Memphis could only squirm on the ground, trying to reach for a physical body that was not there, gasping for air that would not come.
The creature on top of her grinned it's unholy grin, sharpened teeth and hollow eye sockets clearly visible though nearly translucent skin.
Spots formed directly in her gaze, over the creature intent on murdering her. Memphis had another errant thought, that she didn’t want her mother to witness her death.
A heartbeat before she lost the battle for consciousness, a wave rolled over her body.
Memphis sat up, released from her attacker. Her mouth opened wide, taking in a great lungful of air. She turned onto her side, afraid she was about to retch all over the floor.
With the presence gone, Memphis’ ears finally reengaged. Sound came back in a cacophony she could not decipher. With sound back, she noted that her entire body was wet, as though someone had tossed a bucket of water all over her.
Hands grasped for her shoulders. Still panicked, still locked in that demonic embrace, Memphis tried to fight it away. She could see the thing on top of her, its long fingers around her throat, though the rest of her perception chanted that her release meant it was no longer there.
But the body her hands contacted was real, solid, not the ethereal visage of a demon.
Her eyes focused in the darkness, revealing the familiar, terror-stricken face of her brother.
“Tana?” Memphis sobbed his name, lurching for her elder sibling and wrapping her arms around his neck.
“I got you. Come on.” Montana Monroe lifted his sister into his arms, pulling her off of the wet floor.
Memphis began to lose consciousness again as the rest of the team met them at the door, looking panicked and excited in ways only paranormal investigators could after a demonic attack.
She looked back, just once, as Montana rushed her toward the van.
The creaky barn door closed slowly, deliberately and with an audible click.
Memphis opened her eyes, smiling a little at the image of her big, brave brother in his favorite Iron Man pajama pants. His dark hair was tousled as usual over his dark eyes, the old white tank top frayed at the bottom.
He was, in one image, everything that reminded her of home.
“Mom wanted me to bring you some soup.”
Montana closed the door with his foot before stepping further into the room and laying a tray on her bedside table. Memphis, still exhausted from the attack the night before, refused to sit up.
“Did you check for EVPs?” She asked, still clinging to her pillow and the last vestiges of sleepiness.
He sat on the edge of her bed. Though his weight was familiar, even welcome, she felt the flicker of panic at being so close to someone else. The feel of the demon’s fingers on her throat, the weight of it on her chest was still too new, too fresh.
“We didn’t get anything on the digital recorders, but your camera caught something.”
“Light anomalies?” Memphis offered.
“Yeah.” Montana nodded his head. “And something else.”
Intrigued now, Memphis dragged her body to a seated position. She ignored the soup on the tray, but reached for the iced Dr. Pepper beside it. Montana moved to the side, allowing Memphis to curl into his side, her legs tucked into a crisscross-applesauce style.
Carbonated soda burned her throat as Montana booted up the battered camera. Memphis had received her share of ribbing for finally, finally, dropping a camera on an investigation. She defended herself with the marks on her throat and the demonic attack only broken up by Montana’s bottle of holy water being tossed onto her struggling body. Marisol had shut it down after that, leaving her youngest child to be doctored up.
The jokes would continue…someday.
“So, this is right before the demon pounced.” Montana said.
On the screen, Memphis watched the rickety barn come in to view. Her camera work, familiar as any other on her team, was enough to give some perspective on what was about to happen.
The image shook, shifted.
“Ok, Super Investigator drops her camera.” Montana did not smile, but the fraternal tease was evident.
Memphis did not respond, too intent with what was happening on the screen.
Her voice sent a shiver of fear racing up her spine. It was the cry of a child seeking protection. How had her mother remained in the van?
“Ok, here’s the growl we caught.” Montana did not comment on her childlike cry. “And you hit the deck.”
Memphis watched as one foot was visible on her dropped camera. She appeared to try to get her footing, but a beat later, more of her body was dragged before the camera.
“Oh, my God.”
“I know.” Montana agreed. “You got pulled, it was obvious.”
Memphis leaned further over his shoulder, her hand gripping the soda began to ache.
“It’s on top of me here.” Memphis offered, watching her legs tremble. “I couldn’t breathe.”
“Yeah.” Montana nodded once. “Listen.”
The siblings fell silent. Memphis struggled to breathe on the screen, her choking audible. With the ears of a professional, Memphis heard it without Montana’s prompting.
A rasp of a voice, more animal than human was distinctly audible on the camera audio.
Bile churned in her stomach. Memphis turned away from the screen, set the glass on her side table. As she shook her head, a bitter tang erupted on her tongue. The demonic voice reverberated in her head.
“Yeah.” Memphis’ entire body gave one, strong shake as though to rid herself of the sickness clinging to her. “I’m going back to bed.”
Montana’s eyes were on her, his brow furrowed in that way he got when he didn’t know what to say. He palmed the camera, jerked his thumb toward the food on her tray. The very thought of eating made sick tickle the back of her throat.
“I will.” Memphis promised as she burrowed beneath her still-warm coverlet. “Tell Mom I’m fine.”
He closed the door behind him with a quiet snap. Memphis immediately closed her eyes, willing her mind to stop replaying the attack on a loop. She had done a thousand investigations, had confronted a hundred demons. This one would be no different.
Just before she allowed sleep to overtake her, Memphis heard it. On the wall behind her headboard…