By Lyn Croft
By Lyn Croft
Lyn examined the paperwork before. The reality of it still hadn’t set in completely, though the excitement pulsed in her veins as she tried to bring to light what was really happening. Her name marked the first page, as well as the title of the publishing company that had chosen her.
Hellfire Publishing had chosen her book, and now all she had to do was sign her name on the dotted line.
Gripping the pen before her, she moved her hand to the final line of the contract, hesitating just before the ink bonded to the paper. Words she spoke earlier echoed in her head; voicing an unsung warning of what she hade said. It was just a joke, yet something inside her gut stirred, creating an almost uneasiness within the pit of her stomach.
“Before I sell my soul to Hellfire...” Lyn laughed it off. It was just a joke anyways. There was nothing to worry about. She was just nervous, wondering if she was truly good enough to make it. But, they wanted her. Well, she had to be good enough. Right?
The pen carried across the line, etching her name permanently into the paper, binding her to this publishing company. As she gathered the papers back together, she carefully began to slide the contract into the manila envelope, already stamped and ready to go. The edge of her finger caught the paper, thinly slicing into her skin, and releasing a delicate crimson line. Lyn hissed at the pain and began nursing the wound. She slipped the contract in and sealed the envelope, not realizing her blood had left a mark on the contract itself. Sealed, she ran to the mailbox to drop off her future.
~~~6 Months Later~~~
Etched against the display of trees and a darkening sky, the eerie mansion stood before her . The grey sky wrapped itself around the building, blanketing it with a coldness that sent shivers down her spine. Lyn’s hands reached up to knock on the solid oak, as a voice whispered in the back of her head to run, and never look back. She tucked it away, ignoring its warning, as she nervously tapped her knuckles to the door.
The wooden frame before her creaked as the mahogany doors pried apart. Lyn eagerly stood, waiting to see who would be greeting her. A dark hallway opened up before her, but there stood no one. Eerie stillness was her only greeting.
“Hello?” Lyn called into the vast shadows.
Silence answered her back. She stood a moment longer, and then decided to enter cautiously. Looking around, she could see stone walls decorated with scattered portraits. She studied them as she made her way down the corridor, gazing at the wonderment of how beautiful each one of them looked.
One caught her eye immediately. It was Dawn Binkley, Chief Editor of Hellfire Publishing. She looked just like her photo from the websites. Lyn tried to let the familiarity of her face set in and ease the jittery feeling coursing through her veins. Something in the air was unsettling, rattling her nerves, but still she pressed on.
Several portraits marked the walls as she carried on. She saw Ran’s portrait further down. His eyes seemed to follow her as she walked by, studying her and welcoming her in a way that chilled her core. The painting was the same as the photo she had seen earlier from online. It was as if he had been painted in the renaissance era, and not aged a day since. His soul seemed ages old, as he beckoned with his eyes for her to proceed.
Lyn passed by the rest of the paintings, more familiar faces peering down at her with idle eyes. All the authors and staff for Hellfire were there, staking their place along the cemented corridor. At the end of the hallway, she found another portrait being placed by a man in a workers jumpsuit. It was Jen Gunn, Hellfire’s newest “demon” being displayed. She gawked in amazement at how accurately captured these authors seemed to be portrayed. It was if their soul’s were bound within, just as the oil of the paints had trapped themselves to the canvas.
Suddenly, she realized she hadn’t seen hers. Maybe they would be making her sit down for this later. Then again, Lyn truly hoped not. She didn’t consider herself photogenic in the least bit. And she found no need for her “mug” to become supersized and plastered on a wall for all to see.
Another set of doors beckoned at the end of the walkway. Lyn pressed gently through them, as goose bumps riddled her arms. She marked it off to the decorum and ancient ora, trying to turn this fear inside of her as just a result of the scenery around her. It had to be set up like this on purpose; to get a rise out of its visitors. Nothing more, nothing less. They were a horror publishing company, after all.
“Lyn!” a female’s voice called her name.
To be continued next week...