Get a sneak peek of my latest book, The Ghost’s Call, below!
Check out my guide to the Afterlife Calls universe here, too!
Now, on with the prologue…
The lightbulb flickered in my hand. I jerked my hand away. I wasn’t risking electrocution or burning for anyone. The last thing I needed was to be electrocuted while changing a lightbulb in a client’s house. Especially when they weren’t even there because the place wasn’t finished yet. That’d go down great. Not.
‘Edie, I thought I told you to turn the electrics off!’
‘I did!’ she called back from somewhere in the old house.
‘Are you sure?’
She didn’t reply immediately, but I heard footsteps running through the house to the fuse box in the hallway. A second pair of scurrying footsteps followed her.
‘It’s all off, Mum!’ she shouted from the other side of the house.
Fiddlesticks. That wasn’t good. There was only one thing that would cause a disconnected lightbulb to misbehave. And I didn’t like the direction that pointed in. Not one bit…
The ladder wobbled underneath me.
‘Edie!’ I called. Without anything else to hold on to, I grabbed the stubborn lightbulb to steady me. Plummeting onto a wooden floor wouldn’t do my creaky joints any favours.
‘Mum!’ she called back, reaching the living room door. Thank god she had enough stamina for both of us.
Our dog, Tilly, stood behind her, a startled look on her fluffy white face.
The ladder steadied, so I tried again to unscrew the lightbulb in the living room. The previous owner must’ve been the World’s Strongest Man, because the way that thing was attached wasn’t normal. And I should know: odd jobs like that were my job.
The ladder juddered again.
No, not the ladder.
What the hell? An earthquake? We didn’t get earthquakes like that in England. It was bloody Hucknall, not San Francisco. We weren’t near a fault line. We were in the Midlands. We weren’t even near the sea!
‘Mum!’ cried Edie, her voice vibrating with worry as she ran over to me. Had she ever experienced an earthquake before? When was the last proper one in England? The nineties?
She grabbed the ladder to steady it as the earthquake slowed. I clung to the light fitting for dear life, suddenly glad it was fastened on so well.
Tilly ignored us both, running over to the window and barking. It didn’t take much to make her bark – she was a typical westie in that regard – so that wasn’t unusual. But what she could see – what all three of us could see – wasn’t just unusual. It was unnerving.
My eyes were glued to one of the most haunting sights I’d ever seen. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping I was hallucinating, but I definitely wasn’t.
‘Mum, is that—?’ Edie began, but she couldn’t finish her sentence. She knew what it was. We all did. But she was in shock. She’d never seen anything like it. Heck, neither had I, and I’d been around for more than twenty years longer.
I descended the ladder and followed Tilly to the window.
There was an eerie fogginess about the drizzly day, but that wasn’t what had our attention. We were used to the soggy, grey, autumnal weather. There was no other kind unless it decided to lie to us and pretend it was still summer for a couple of days.
What we weren’t used to was seeing dozens of ghosts floating above the houses. If we hadn’t been in a house at the top of a hill, we may never have noticed them. But oh, we had.
We craned our necks to get a better view. There were so many ghosts they almost covered the clouds. Where could that many have come from? Was it related to the earthquake? Had the souls been trapped and been freed by…something?
While there were a lot of them, I couldn’t make out what they looked like or what they were wearing. They were a sea of blurry white figures, made worse by the crappy weather.
Nearby, dogs howled and cats meowed, trying to alert their owners to threats they couldn’t see and would never understand. Poor things. They thought they were helping. Their owners thought they were barking at thin air. Echoes of their owners shouting at them in unison travelled through the air.
‘That’s not normal, is it?’ said Edie, looking at me. She bent down to pick up Tilly, who was still barking like she was trying to warn us. She was our little Westie Warning System, but in this case, we couldn’t do anything to change what she was warning us about. It wasn’t like there was a ghost floating towards us, or someone at the front door with a parcel. This was a sea of ghosts as far as we could see.
I suppressed a shudder and put my arm around my daughter. ‘No, it definitely isn’t.’