Following up on my last post, I thought I’d continue celebrating
the upcoming release of book five by sharing a sample from book 2 of The Temple of the Blind. Taking place nearly a year after the events
of The Box, Gilbert House introduces new characters, new settings and new
Gilbert House: Book Two of The Temple of the Blind
by Brian Harmon
The second floor
of Gilbert House was nearly identical to the first. It had the same wide hallways, the same tiled
floor and ceiling and the same eerie atmosphere. But like the basement, it lacked the spacious
common room in the middle. Apparently,
these existed only on every other floor.
Albert supposed that this was probably why they were designed so much
larger than the lounges at Lumey. They
would have had much more traffic.
Albert and Wayne
started down the hallway, sweeping away the stubborn shadows with their
“I don’t like
this,” Wayne murmured. “It’s wrong.”
“So you keep
saying,” replied Albert.
“Yes, I do. And I’ll keep saying it until I leave.”
you here.” Albert glanced back and
realized that the girls were no longer right behind him. He turned and saw that they both were
standing in the middle of the hallway near the stairwell, shining their lights
up at the ceiling.
Albert asked, but was shushed by Brandy.
something upstairs,” Nicole whispered.
“What kind of
something?” Albert asked.
“Sort of like
footsteps,” Brandy replied.
again the way the doors had been opened ahead of them, as though someone had
beaten them here. Could that intruder
still be here somewhere, stalking around in the darkness?
The four of them
stood silently, their eyes and flashlights fixed on the ceiling tiles.
nothing,” Brandy said after a while, but the tone of her voice was not
Albert walked back
to the stairwell and shined his flashlight up into the darkness. There was nothing up there. At least nothing he could see. He couldn’t help but remember the temple,
however, and how they had never really been alone, even though they never saw
When he returned
from the stairwell, Brandy took his hand and leaned against him, as if craving
his warmth. “I don’t like it in here,”
she confessed. “It doesn’t feel right. It’s not like the temple at all.”
nodded. There was something different about this place.
The four of them
started forward again, their flashlights still gravitating now and then toward
the ceiling. Albert, always alert,
always aware, noticed that Wayne
lagged purposefully behind. He was
considering turning back, perhaps without even telling them. He did not very much trust these three
strangers he’d found snooping around Gilbert House’s ruins.
could leave if he wanted to. Albert
would not blame him. Perhaps that would
be the smart thing to do, to get out before anything happened, before it was
too late. They should all probably get the hell out of this
weird building. Not all forgotten places
were meant to be found, after all.
But the temple had
been calling them back. The first
journey had been dangerous, but they weren’t completely unprepared. They had the box. And the box was the map that kept them on the
path. Whoever sent them there did not
send them to die. If so, they never
would have made it home. Albert was
fairly certain that they would never have left the sex room if the strange man
with no eyes hadn’t removed the flashlight and left them unable to see the
At least, he assumed it was the man with no eyes; he
never saw anyone else.
His mind kept
returning to the statue between the sex room and the frigid water through which
they’d been forced to swim. He called it
the faith statue. It encouraged them to
have faith, to push forward regardless of the discomfort that waited for them
in the passage ahead. And looking back
now, it was their faith in the box that kept them safe. Sure, there were other dangers. The deadly pit of spikes had been waiting for
them at the hate room’s exit, for example.
And there were those creatures…
But he’d trusted
the box. And he’d trusted those strange,
stone sentinels. And now he was trusting
the envelope that the girl with the pierced nose and eyebrow gave to him.
Besides, it wasn’t
like he had much choice. The only thing
that awaited him at home was more of those eerie telephone calls.
Albert opened the
door to one of Gilbert House’s second floor rooms and looked inside. For a moment he only stood in the doorway,
not quite understanding what he saw. The
room was as dark as a grave, just as the ones below it had been, but its window
was not covered. Dusty glass reflected
the beam of the flashlight back at him, a slightly distorted reflection of
himself looked back at him with his own puzzled expression.
There had to be
something blocking the sunlight. They
hadn’t been in here long enough for it to have gotten dark. It was not yet even six.
Brandy and Nicole
peered in after him as he walked across this empty room and shined his light
through the glass. He expected to find
another wall on the other side of the window pane, but there was none. His flashlight’s beam passed through the
glass and planted a weak disk of light on the ground two stories below.
“What is it?”
Brandy asked, stepping up behind him.
“It’s the ‘Alfred
Hitchcock Dimension’,” Albert replied, borrowing the phrase from Nicole. “Wherever we are, it’s nighttime.”
Brandy and Nicole
peered past him and out into the darkness beyond the glass. After a moment, Wayne
also joined him at the window.
Very little could
be seen of that dark, outside world, but what could be made out was vastly
different from the landscape that surrounded Gilbert House when they were
outside. Through this window, sizable
trees could be seen nearby, their limbs bare of leaves. But there were no trees of that size within
many yards of the building as they had seen it, and those farther away had not
yet even begun to turn their autumn colors.
Also, the ground beneath them appeared to be void of the grass and brush
that had overrun the forest floor for as far as they could see. There was nothing out there but naked earth.
It should have
been startling, staring out at a nighttime scene when the sun should be burning
brightly in the sky, but after facing the reality of Gilbert House’s multiple
floors, they were numb to this shock.
Each of them, after all, had already contemplated the idea of some alien
world lurking beyond these walls.
And yet, the
logical part of their minds continued to deny it. Perhaps it was still an illusion. Perhaps this entire building was still
somehow underground, and all they were looking at was a cavern floor and some
fake trees. But that wouldn’t explain
how they could be so far underground without knowing that they had
breaking the glass and taking a good look at whatever was out there, but that
might be a mistake. He knew nothing
about this place. Just like when he was
exploring the temple, he didn’t dare do anything reckless. For all he knew, the air out there could be
“Well,” said Wayne,
at last stepping away from the window, “I still don’t know where we are but I
know where we’re not.”
“That’s the first
step,” Nicole said smartly and turned away from the window.
“Come on guys,”
Albert said. “Let’s check out the rest
of this…” He paused, still shining his
flashlight through the window.
“What is it?”
Brandy asked, concerned.
Albert shook his
head. “Thought I saw something out
“If you did,”
suggested Nicole, “maybe you should keep it to yourself.”
“Don’t worry. It wasn’t anything. A little breeze in the trees, I think.” But thirteen months ago, he learned never to
dismiss anything, no matter how unlikely or bizarre it might seem, and he
continued to stare through the window as he backed away.
The four of them
exited the room and walked on down the hallway, pausing at each door to peer
“Did you hear
that?” Nicole asked, shining her flashlight at the ceiling again.
“I heard it,”
“I’ve been hearing
it for a while now,” Wayne said,
“but I didn’t want to alarm anyone.” He
looked up at the ceiling, visibly nervous.
since we left that first room,” said Albert, loath to admit it, but seeing no
point in keeping it to himself.
“What is it?”
“I don’t like this
at all,” Nicole said.
Albert opened one
more door and peered inside, then closed it again. “Okay guys, this is getting a little
weird. I don’t think we can keep
pretending we’re alone in here. If
anyone wants to bail, now would be the time.”
The three of them
looked at him, surprised.
“What the hell are
you talking about?” Brandy asked. There
was a distinct edge to her voice, but Albert ignored it.
“I’m talking about
you and Nicole going back down those stairs and back outside where you know
it’s safe. Wayne,
too, if he wants.”
Nicole looked doubtfully
at Wayne and Albert saw that she
wanted to go. She was very brave, but
she was getting scared. Hell, so was
too, wanted to go. He could see it in
his eyes, but there was something else there, too. Curiosity, perhaps, but more likely
“I’m going to
check things out. If I’m not out in a
couple hours, get the police. They won’t
buy it, but they’ll figure things out for themselves once they’re inside.”
“I’m not going
anywhere,” Brandy insisted, and there was a flush in her cheeks that Albert
rarely saw. She was afraid, but she was
also mad. She was mad at him for even
suggesting such a horrible thing, that she were to abandon him and run away, leaving
him to face whatever might lurk in Gilbert House alone.
Albert sighed. “It might not be safe in here, okay. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’m not leaving
you!” Brandy exclaimed, her voice loud enough to echo.
was a shuffle, followed by movement.
Whatever it was, it was now moving away from them.
“I’m not going
anywhere, either,” Nicole said, and if not for the way her eyes jittered toward
the ceiling, Albert might have believed that she hadn’t heard the noise.
nodded. “Okay then.” He looked at Wayne. “You’re still free to go.”
shook his head. “Nope. I’m going to stick it out.” It was bold words, spoken courageously, but
he still wanted to turn and run all the way back home to his bedroom.
“All right, then,”
Albert said. He looked up at the
ceiling. “What do you suggest we do now?”
“This might seem a
little crazy,” Wayne said. “But maybe we should go upstairs.”
Albert, Brandy and
Nicole exchanged a surprised look.
up there,” Wayne explained. “It might be a squirrel or a rat. It might be some guy in a hockey mask. I don’t know.
But I know we probably outnumber it.”
His eyes lifted apprehensively to the ceiling. “Besides,” he added, “we’ll have to check out
the next floor eventually anyway.”
“He’s got a
point,” Albert said. “And besides, maybe
that’s what we’re in here to find.” He
turned and walked on down the hallway.
Another stairwell loomed in the shadows ahead.
“I don’t like it,”
Nicole said. “It seems risky.”
“It is,” agreed
Albert. He stepped up to the foot of the
stairs and looked up into the darkness with his flashlight. For just an instant, he thought there was
something up there, something just disappearing into one of the upper hallways,
but it was gone before he could register it.
He remembered that feeling of being watched that he’d felt while
examining the concrete wall at the bottom of the other stairwell and wondered
again whether he’d really imagined it.
“I’ll go first.”
They began to
ascend the steps to the third floor, Albert in front, Brandy and Nicole close
behind and Wayne at their
The third floor
was different from the first. Instead of
a single double doorway at the center of the wall on the left, the entire wall
between the restroom and the shower room was a row of large, glass windows. At the very center, a single pair of glass
doors allowed access into the room, which looked to Albert like a solarium
except for the fact that there seemed to be no sun to shine into it.
into the hallway and shined his light around.
Aside from the glass wall, everything on this floor was the same as
those below it. He turned and looked
back at the others. Brandy was standing
near him. Nicole was just at the top of
the steps behind her. Wayne
was waiting several steps below her.
They were all watching him, waiting to for him to tell them it was
What happened next
happened extremely fast.
out of the darkness of the stairwell and landed on the steps with a resounding
impact that shook the very floor beneath them.
A large, hulking shape lunged as the darkness became a chaos of darting
flashlight beams. The silent hallways of
Gilbert House were suddenly filled with piercing screams and a horrible,
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