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The Dark Spirits Beneath

Kason Laufenberg

Copyright © 2020 by Kason Laufenberg

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the written permission of the publisher, except for use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

To everyone who perceives more beneath the surface

Power is the by-product of understanding.





1. The Chilling Dream

2. Familiar Feeling

3. Expect the Unexpected

4. Confusion and Mistrust

5. More Questions, Little Answers

6. Blind Panic

7. The Strange Force

8. In the Middle of the Delusion

9. No Time to Waste

10. The Fall

11. Darkest Place

12. Terrors of the Night

13. Secrets and Theories

14. Aftermath



Since she was a young girl, Layla discovered that she possessed an odd, uncanny ability, she can sense the dead, buried just beneath her feet. As one might imagine, this leads to what could be considered by most to be a fairly traumatic upbringing, culminating in her eventual flight as a teenager from her rural hometown in the Pacific Northwest, making a point of actively getting as far away from the dense forests and wilderness as possible.

Years go by, and Layla finds a new and exciting life in the American Southwest, as a grad student studying archaeology at the University of New Mexico. Utilizing her unique talents in secret to advance herself, and assist her colleagues in locating a handful of valuable finds, Layla insists that she possesses nothing more than instinct and dumb luck.

However, her advisor, in particular, knows a good thing when he sees it, and asks her to join him, on his research expedition in search of a lost Mayan city, He's convinced that, between his notes and Layla's uncanny insights, that they could be at the precipice of the most important Mesoamerican archaeological find in recent history! But it's Layla's instincts that tell her that there are darker things to be found in the jungle. More than just old pyramids and ruins. Reluctantly, Layla now finds herself once again lost and frightened in the wilderness, a place where survival is the most requested need.


The afternoon sun bled through the branches and emerald green leaves of the canopy, casting long, meandering shadows. Causing every vibrant corner of the forest to wake and whisper. Each wave, each gentle rise, and fall of the billowing breeze serving only to further perpetuate this aesthetic, inhaling and exhaling, breathing in a cycle of life anyone would count themselves lucky enough to witness.

Despite all this, the only such person to take in the scene was a young blonde girl, nine years of age, as she traipsed lightheartedly through the wilderness, skipping and leaping from shadow to shadow. She smiled. This... was her forest. Out here, she had always felt most at home. She knew these trees better perhaps than her own backyard. And even in the dim, dusky light, she never faltered, and her strides remaining confident and sure.

As the young girl ventured deeper and deeper, she had begun to notice, more and more, the thick, green leafy foliage, as it relentlessly overtook the trail, and the thick canopy of trees, effectively blocking out the majority of warmth and illumination to be found. Still, she showed no sign of slowing. No sign of worry. And with her loyal German Shepard, Hillary, trotting close by her side, she knew that here, in this forest, she was always safe. Here, she had absolutely nothing to fear.

The young, reckless intruder spent her afternoon running down hills, exploring animal burrows, and climbing and jumping from rocks and thick overturned tree trunks, as most young girls her age are want to do. She giggled to herself and took extra care to mind the slick moss that covered most of these climbing surfaces, making sure each of her footfalls landed accurate and true. All the while, watching as Hillary bounded and barked excitedly close behind.

Slowing her pace for a while, the two companions took a moment to rest, as the girl laughed, and they both panted furiously, straining to catch their breath. In the solitude, the two companions listened, as the enchanting chorus of the birds and the trembling leaves echoed from every corner of the forest. And as the scene and its rich, harmonious song continued to play out, the girl watched as the few remaining shafts of afternoon sunlight danced in playful, complimentary rhythm among the trees and swaying branches.

She really loved being out here! Here, where everything always seemed to feel so alive. So open. So wild. As if, all her life, she has always had this little world all her own, to explore and adventure in, however she saw fit. Away from the house. Away from that tiny town. Stone Creek. That never felt like her true home. Here... she could be whatever she wanted to be. In an instant, she was a courageous explorer, discovering lost civilizations, ancient ruins, and treasures buried and forgotten in time. Another, she was a brave and virtuous armor-clad knight errant, fighting in the name of honor, riding throughout the realms, perhaps even vanquishing an evil dragon menace, and rescuing the fair damsel in distress. Here, nothing was ever off-limits to her. Because, as the impulsive young girl discovered, a long time ago, in this forest, nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, as it is in so many other little corners of the world--places, that manage to remain tucked away, reserved exclusively for exploration and childhood wonder--those were the places where there would always be real magic.

After a while, the two adventurers slowed to

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