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ExtraOrdinary (Ebook)

ExtraOrdinary (Ebook)

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Ryder Carlsson stands perfectly still in the shadowed hallway of Clarendon House’s upper east wing. Until a moment ago, her only company in the gloom were the taffeta-clad women and top-hatted men in the portraits hanging along the walls. Goosebumps prickle down her arms. She lifts the thermal camera. Aims the lens towards the figure standing at the far end of the hall.
Breathe. Focus.
Keep it together.
It’s a fight to hold the device steady.
The house is an ice-box without its hearth fires burning, but the heat coming from the fires would screw up the equipment readings, and taint the evidence. Evidence just like this. Ryder tightens her hold. Don’t mess it up. Get it recorded. Prove it’s not all in her head. But there is nothing on the screen. She jiggles the camera, glaring at it.
“Seriously? Come on. It’s right there.”
The thermal image shows a hallway emanating shades of mostly blue and green, no trace of the fiery reds or burnt oranges that would indicate body heat. A muted yellow surrounds a potted palm in a thigh-high vase, but a heat signature there is to be expected, the plant is a living thing. The same can’t be said though for the obscure blob beside it; vaguely human-shaped, short and squat, with broad shoulders, and a rounded bald head. Ryder squints. The silhouette wasn’t there a few seconds ago, was it? Nope. Maybe? She’s been stalking the hallways of this turn-of-the-century freezer for a few hours now. Between the chill, the late hour and her own desperation, it’s possible her imagination is messing with her. Ryder lowers the camera, letting it rest against her jeans. She presses her lips tight. The figure is still there. A darker pitch of black among the shadows. This is insane. Or she is. It’s one or the other, always has been, and the well-worn thought never fails to churn her stomach like a bad egg.
All at once a rustling sound reaches her. Something moves the fronds of the potted palm. A chill finds its way beneath Ryder’s ponytail. She glances at the camera but it indicates no change, and the EMF meter in her pocket is silent as a tomb. Ryder clenches her jaw to stop her teeth from chattering, and a familiar panic coils itself around her insides. Her eyes sting, beginning to water, but she refuses to blink.
Stop freaking out. This is not in your head, don’t go there. You’re not crazy. Think straight.
But if she was thinking straight, she’d be doing what most other fifteen year olds are doing this long weekend; shopping, video game marathons, or lying on the couch eating junk food and binge watching TV.
Definitely not hunting ghosts.
Ryder swallows hard. Her dry eyes won’t stay open a second longer. Ryder closes them. This has to be real. They all have to be real. Not hallucinations. Medical journals have a list of clinical terms for people who imagine things that aren’t there. Chances are the doctors wrote down a few of them on her mum’s file. Ryder’s dad won’t say much about the woman who walked out on them, but once, years ago, she overheard him describe her mother as delusional, and completely lost.
Ryder opens her eyes and blinks against the darkness. The gloom at the end of the hallway is exactly that, gloom. Empty space. The apparition is gone. If it was there at all. For a moment, she doesn’t move. Doesn’t breathe. A blooming heat fills her cheeks. Frustration loosens her jaw.
“No. No, you don’t. I saw you. You were there.” Ryder shakes the camera, taps it against her hand; blues and greens, and a flash of fire engine red as the focus hits her skin. “I saw it. It was there. Damn it.”
She breaks into a jog, pulling a flashlight from the depths of her jacket pocket. Her ponytail beats out the rhythm of her steps against her back, and her purple Dr Martens thump against the thick, lavishly embroidered carpet. She strides past the watchful portraits. The paintings are probably priceless, or at least ridiculously expensive, but right now they are just plain creepy. Elegant ladies in corsets and reams of flowing silk, and steely-faced men in elaborate lace collars, their eyes following Ryder’s every step. Another shiver darts across her shoulders and she shrugs against it. Her faded denim jacket is one of the better gifts from her dad, but it’s not exactly designed for the midnight chill.
The walkie-talkie at her waist clinks against the metal studs on her belt, and the sound is oddly comforting. The device reminds her she’s not entirely alone. She’s dragged two others into her search-and-find mission. Right now Sophie and Christian wander the rooms and halls of Clarendon too. Sophie is a willing accomplice, but Christian not so much. Ryder runs her fingers over the top of the walkie-talkie but stops short of using it. What would she say? Hey guys, seeing things again. Take my word for it. She shakes her head, and her long brown hair sweeps over her shoulder. Raising the flashlight, the beam settles on the palm. It is planted in a vase so intricately painted it would be at home in a Chinese emperor’s throne room. Ryder jabs her booted toe against the base. The vase tips, sending a sprinkle of chocolate brown soil and white stones onto the carpet. “Oh crap.” Ryder lunges, grabbing the rim, fingers digging into the soil as she pulls it upright. It’s heavier than it appears. The coarse leaves scrape against her neck. “Great, sure Ryder, break the antiques. Make the night perfect,” she sighs.
When her grandad, Jack, told her she could come and hunt in Clarendon House, she thought Christmas had arrived half a year early. Until then, Ryder had no clue Jack was good friends with the owner of the old mansion. And maybe this was why he kept it a secret. She’s been here just a few hours and has almost broken what is, no doubt, an expensive antique. Ryder dusts off her hands. The walkie-talkie at her waist sputters and hisses before Christian’s voice booms the length of the hall. “So, Carlsson. Does this town have a Burger King or something? Seriously craving a double cheese right about now.”
Ryder winces, turning down the volume. “No. I told you on the way up here, the town barely has a bakery, let alone fast food. Seriously Chris, you ate like a fiend on the train, how can you be hungry?”
The train ride from Hobart to Evandale is just over three hours, and for two hours and fifty minutes of it, Christian ate.
“Just how I roll, my friend. This belly needs constant filling.” He lets out a satisfied sigh, but his mouth is too close to the mic, and it sounds like the venting of a steam train. “Seriously though, I’m so bored. Have you had enough fun looking for imaginary things that don’t exist yet?”
Ryder considers her reply, her fingers hovering just above the receiver button.
“This is Sophie, do you read me. Over.” The youngest member of the trio by three months and two days.
Stifling a groan, Ryder pushes down on the receiver. “Considering it’s only the three of us here, Soph, you don’t need to say your name and over every time you radio in.” She’s lost count of how many times she’s told Sophie that since they arrived three hours ago.
“Roger that, Captain.” Sophie’s voice echoes through the cheap walkie. “Having any luck? Sad to say, the ghosts aren’t biting over in the west wing. The EMF meter is pretty quiet and no drastic temperature changes. How bout you, Ry? Picking up anything with that sixth sense thingy of yours?” There is a pause, then the walkie crackles. “Over.”
Ryder hesitates. Not because of the ‘over,’ and not because Sophie wouldn’t believe her. Sophie believes every little speck of dust they catch on camera is an entity of some kind. Ryder could tell her she just had tea and sandwiches with the Queen of England’s ghost, and Sophie would squeal with delight. Which doesn’t help anyone’s sanity. “No, nothing tonight.” Ryder clears her throat. Until she has something tangible recorded, she will say nothing. “I can barely see my own shadow, let alone anyone else’s. I’m going to head downstairs. Maybe it’s time for a biscuit break.”
“Roger that, over.” Sophie signs off, and Christian mumbles something about burgers, but Ryder clips the walkie-talkie back to her belt and doesn’t bother to reply. She surveys the empty space in front of her, chewing on her bitten-to-the-quick thumbnail. Goosebumps erupt along the length of her arms, but that’s been happening all night. Aside from the lack of heating, insulation in the old house isn’t great; there are gaps everywhere, beneath doors and in between window panes, letting in a draft. And there’s every chance she’s letting Clarendon House’s haunted reputation get to her. If she can’t find evidence in a place supposedly riddled with paranormal activity, then she’s back to scrolling through medical websites that will tell her seeing things in the shadows and hearing voices, is most definitely not normal. Ryder shakes herself, trying to ease the stiffness in her shoulders. She paces back up the hallway. The untied laces on her left boot flick against the carpet.
As she passes by the open rooms, moonlight filters into the hall in elongated patches. She glimpses the tusk-like moon hanging in a clear sky. Odd. It was so dark in the hallway just a few moments ago, she expected to see a cloud-heavy sky. Her flashlight sweeps across the room, passing over the brass bedhead, and onto the bed itself where a sheet of clear plastic covers the double mattress and burgundy satin bedspread. A cluster of white pillows nestle around a wide-eyed porcelain doll dressed in a turn-of-the-century gown which matches the bed covers.
“That’s not creepy, at all.” Ryder turns to walk away. And the world tilts and spins. She clutches at the door frame. Spots fill her vision. No stranger to fainting, Ryder forces herself to take a deep breath. When she was younger and having blood tests what felt like every second day, dizzy spells happened on a regular basis. Keep breathing, deep breaths, the nurses would tell her. Just like then, it works now. The wave of dizziness sweeps by as quickly as it arrived. Gingerly, she straightens, still hanging tight to the frame. “Okay, maybe I need a burger too.” She laughs, uneasily.
The hallway has grown dim again. She glances towards the window. The moon is there, with not so much as a mist drifting past it. But it’s dull, like it is trapped behind a sheer curtain. Squeezing her eyes open and shut a couple of times doesn’t shift the gloom. Ryder lifts one hand, not certain she’s steady enough to let go entirely, and brushes her fingers over her face. Her skin is icy cold.
“Very funny, Ryder.” Christian’s voice, very close and very loud, rocks Ryder back on her heels. Her flashlight’s beam darts through the air like a maddened firefly and, much to her own horror, she screams.

Ryder Carlsson can hear the shadows whisper. And they are calling her name.
Olessia is a runaway with a secret so dangerous, it could destroy worlds.

When the two girls meet, an extraordinary adventure is set to begin.
In the shadowy halls of Clarendon House Ryder stumbles upon a mysterious stranger. Olessia is a girl like no one else on Earth. Powerful and hot-tempered, she is on the run, determined to escape the fate that awaits her. But Olessia's enemies are not about to let her slip away, and they are prepared to tear our world apart to find her. Caught up in the chaos, Ryder and her friends must fight to stay one step ahead of the terrifying, otherwordly creatures sent to destroy Olessia.

But just who is Olessia truly running from? The whispering shadows know the answer. Is Ryder brave enough to listen?

The Extra trilogy begins right here.
'Thrilling! Creepy! The perfect YA novel. A FINALIST and highly recommended,' - The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. A SciFi Fantasy story. 

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