The Dex-Files by Karina Halle
FROM THE AUTHOR
Greetings my fair readers. You are about to go where very few people have gone before – inside the mind of Declan “Dex” Foray. I must warn you that if you haven’t read all the books in the Experiment in Terror Series (including OLD BLOOD! It’s very important to understanding this book, all the books), put down your e-reader and go do so now. Go on. I’ll wait.
If you have read all the books, feel free to carry on. I wouldn’t want the series (which is told from Perry Palomino’s POV) to be spoiled for anyone. Now, I must warn you that Dex’s head is not always a pretty place. You probably know that already and that’s why you love him (or want to kill him. Same difference). It’s a place that sometimes doesn’t make sense. One minute it’s dark and terrible, the next it’s completely smutty and perverted. I tried to clean it up but you know what – you can’t bleach this man’s brain. So, if you’re OK with graphic sex, swearing and the usual Dex Foray, fuckery, well…I think you’re in for a treat.
I was six years old when I got my first taste of hell.
I woke up to a horrible howling noise, like a dog caught in the throes of deep emotional pain, agony that went beyond the physical. It was chilling. Terrifying. Like, make your balls shrivel up into pricks of ice sort of terror. It quickly plucked away whatever ignorance my sleep had thrust on me and slapped me in my young face. This wasn’t a dream. This was as real as all hell. There was a monster in my house, the kind that preyed on little boys, but it wasn’t under my bed or in my closet. It was next door. Or, as it seemed to be, the floor below, scratching and howling its way from the kitchen.
It was my mother. And from the sounds of glass breaking and furniture scuffling, my dad had found her. The howling intermixed with his booming voice, his threats, his pathetic cries that betrayed the collected man he was always trying to be. It sounded ugly. It always sounded ugly but tonight I was especially scared. When a vicious cry was followed by the sound of someone being shoved into a wall, I’m not ashamed to say I promptly wet myself. Pissing your pants seemed the only thing to do when the monster was loose and I made a silent, na?ve prayer to the man upstairs, praying that it was my mother who was thrown against the wall. I’m callous, maybe. I’ve been called worse. But if it were my father, and he was out cold, she’d come looking for me next.
I thought about pulling the covers over my head and hiding from it all like a coward, but that never worked. I would pretend all I could that my blanket was my invisible cloak and it would shelter me from everything bad in the world but I learned at a very young age that there was no such thing as shelter. Maybe I would have been safer if I didn’t care. Maybe indifference could have been my protector. But I still loved - and feared - my parents. That love is what scared me. It gave them the upper hand. They sure as fuck didn’t love me.
I heard a shuffling from outside my door, slow and light. It was only Michael, though it rattled my wee body to think things were bad enough that he got out of bed. Michael was just three years older but he might have well been another decade. He was the golden boy, the child of light. I was the runt, the child of dark. I feared. Michael didn’t.
I quickly jumped out of bed and scurried across to the door, purposely missing the part of the floor that I knew squeaked. I turned the knob silently and saw Michael’s shadow just down the hall, heading toward the stairs. Half of him was lit up by a dying night light.
He stopped as soon as he heard me and though I could barely see it, I could feel the look. It said go back to bed, you’ll get us in trouble. Only I could get us in trouble just by being awake. I still don’t know why my mother had it in for me. Sometimes I think she saw a lot of herself in me, even at such an age. That’s a fucking terrifying thought. I’d be lying if I said that, and other things, didn’t keep me up at night.
That look though from Michael, that was the most I’d ever seen him scared. It felt good, selfishly good, to know he wasn’t inhuman, that he feared things too. Maybe not the way I did, but hell if I hadn’t been wondering if my brother was born without a soul. Now I knew he was just older and better at hiding it than me.
I opened my mouth to say something but he placed his finger to his lips. We listened. The wailing had stopped. There was no more noise.
The fresh piss felt cold against my legs and I was suddenly, acutely embarrassed of what I had done. It’s damn funny how Michael had that effect on me.
Even funnier was how I remember reaching out for his hand, looking for some sort of pathetic comfort in my blood relative, my Mikey. He jumped as if my very touch startled him or scathed his skin. Yet he let me hold his hand, even though it was tiny and clammy and I grasped him hard, until bone rubbed against bone. I never felt as grateful to my brother as I did at that moment, for not letting go. Yeah the asswipe would let go later. Fuck, he’d order up my own execution if he could (don’t think he wouldn’t try). But at that moment, I wasn’t alone.
We made our way down the stairs, holding hands. You’d think it would be less scary without the yelling and the damn woman howls, but the silence was hazed with suspense and unheard threats, and forget the smell of urine emanating from me, I was this close to shitting myself.
When we reached the floor we heard a very slight tinkling of glass. We both froze and Michael’s grip on mine intensified. Just for a second. But it was enough.
The sound was followed by a groan. Then a flopping sound of body and skin against shiny tiled floors. This wasn’t good. This was very, very bad.
I wanted to turn and run. I think I may have tried. But Michael held me there and we both watched as a dark figure came crawling out of the door to the kitchen. She moved on the floor like a drunk snake. That’s what she was, after all. A fucking drunk snake out to eat us alive.
She didn’t get far. Her arms were outstretched and reaching for us but she got two feet before she gave up and passed out. She smelt like wine and evil. Like sweat and sadness. Of all the feelings that hit me at that moment, I felt...bad. Looking back, I pitied her.
Michael and I stood there, staring dumbly at our unconscious mother. Michael’s eyes were hard in the darkness, tiny pinpricks in the black. I wonder, did he feel hate toward her? Did he still love her? Did he feel loved? Or was he as confused as I was, forever mixing up love and hate and fear and females. I’ll never know. I don’t think I even care.
The spell of shock wore off when we heard another sound from the kitchen. My father was stirring. My first instinct was to run and hide. I feared him in a different way. That I’d get a spanking for wetting my pjs. That I’d be told I was nothing but a fuck up (not so much in those words, I was six after all, but I got the gist. I’m no dummy). But he didn’t notice in the darkness. He appeared in the doorway, standing over my mother, with an expression of hopelessness and utter disdain on his face. This is what I get, it said.
Instead he said, “You boys are getting a nanny. We can’t live like this.”
Same difference, I suppose.
My name is Dex Foray and I’m a hypocrite. Proud of it, too. I call my mother a monster but I’m the one who took her last name. Maybe because unlike my dad, she never left me. There’s something to be said for sticking around…even if it kills you.
I’m a hypocrite because I can’t stand weakness in others, even though I’m born of weakness myself. I dish it out and then laugh when they try and dish it back. Like I’m above it. And sometimes I think I am.
I’m a hypocrite because I hunt ghosts and I’ve pretended all this time that the ghosts haven’t been hunting me.
And I’m a hypocrite because I judge people. I judge the fuck out of everyone I meet, from their music tastes, to their jobs to their lifestyle choices. I judge them but fuck them if they dare judge me. They think they understand this monster in me, the monster in all of us. But they don’t.
They don’t know where I’ve come from.
They don’t know my side of the story.
But now you do.