Donald Roberts

Drama Crime Thriller


Donald Roberts

Drama Crime Thriller

Blackthorn Hollows

Blackthorn Hollows

55 mins

In a perfect world, the kind that those fools living under the veil of Utopia, never having seen the reality masked in the light of censorship by those who don’t want the world to see beyond the reality they create, we are led to believe that the wars and tortures and evils of the corporeal being are the true horrors of with which we live, and true it is that these things, the crazed murderers, the mad scientists, the creators of weapons of mass destruction, the slaughters are indeed a kind of evil to send our minds into the chaos of fear.

All these things are, for the most part, for the most people, just words on a page in a book, or newspaper, magazine or radio and video news broadcasts washed and cleansed before our ears and eyes can consume them and deliver them to are brains, pasteurized and fictionalized into a world of the darkest mayhem that exists outside our Utopias, seldom and/or never to touch us.

But the real horrors are the ones that touch only a few, those who can see beyond the censorship, beyond the veil, into that place we call the supernatural, the paranormal and the depths of fear. But in truth these and other horrifying elements are as real as the censored reality, merely an alteration seen by those who are capable of adjusting their mind to view juxtaposed images of reality, both or the many unscathed by the censorship of, “It doesn’t really exist.”

I lingered before my laptop, at a small round table, gazing out the window of my room in the Blackthorn B&B, out over the dimly misted sun lit street of the ghostly remains of Blackthorn Hollows, wondering if the thrill of horrors that befell this quiet over grown hamlet would ever leave my mind or if the icy chill would melt from my veins. At that moment I thought not, but too, I lent my focus to getting the story down before it faded, and my internal censor washed it clean of its reality.

My name is Zak Vancura. Beware of messengers in the storm who tell you tales of darkness and beg of you to venture out to unmask an evil devouring the souls and spirits of…

There was a rain drizzling from the dark clouds of the mid-spring sky, lingering longer than usual over Twin Bluffs Harbour. The memory of the murders that shook the foundations of our town was still vibrating faintly in the background of our collective minds.

Monday morning. I sat at my desk typing out a story to go with the photos of the Twin Bluffs Harbour Maple Festival. It was a delight to be writing something light and airy after weeks of those dark times of winter. Yet something inside of me had been awakened and though as tragic and even horrifying as the fall from innocence had been I found the whole adventure exhilarating and a part of me longed for more, though maybe not with the wraithish aftermath we had endured, and in part still did.

After a dozen paragraphs, all bright and cheery, congratulating the organizers on their success and the tappers for their delicious offerings I found myself in need of lunch, my stomach grumbling like it hadn’t been fed in days, even after a big breakfast.

I wriggled into my parka and shoved my feet into my wellies and lifted my big black umbrella from its hook and finally ventured out into the rainy cold, a shivers searching down my spine.

It seemed, just as I closed the door a huge bolt of lightning struck across the sky, simultaneously with a crack of thunder that seemed to shake the whole town in a way that could have been mistaken as a small earthquake. When I looked around I saw others who had ventured out into the weather, glancing around anxiously, up and down the street and at each other, then in a burst of relief they all gathered in a laugh, myself included. I decided our nerves were still a little on edge.

I turned left at the bottom of the steps descending from the walkway from my office door only because it put the wind and rain at my back and made my way to The Harbour View Restaurant to find something to fill that hollow in my stomach that felt like hunger.

It wasn’t. The feeling was still there, and it had been all day. The thing is, I should know better. This hollow feeling has happened before, not long ago and many times over my life as a reporter, the feeling when something I have seen or heard or maybe read that warns me that there is a story looming on the horizon of the near future, and the feeling is never wrong and not always good, or bad. I never know until I get there. But on this occasion as I wolfed down a hungry man’s lunch and filled in the spaces with sweets and was still hungry I realized as the coffee washed it all down I was being warned once again.

Of course, most people who don’t get these premies, don’t believe in them and so I keep it to myself and just follow the lead. It happened to be a cold wet stormy day this time, but it can come on those wonderful, bright sunny days of summer too.

After paying my bill I headed back to the office, walking into the wind now, blocking the rain with my umbrella like a warriors shield against a foe and watching the lightning flash across a dark gray sky. I wasn’t surprised when I climbed the steps to my office door to find someone pushed into the corner out of the wind and rain hidden under a dark purple hooded raincoat, waiting for me. The cowling hung down over her eyes and a scarf covered her chin leaving only pale thin lips showing. It seemed almost natural to find her there.

She said: 

Chapter Two

She said, “I read everything you write Zak Vancura and I think I have a story you might be interested in. It’s a mystery, a very dark and scary one, but you must come to Blackthorn Hollows to investigate.” It was a soft, child like voice and the owner did not ask to go inside. When she finished she slipped away down the alleyway between the joined office and laundromat and the clothier shop next door.

“Wait. Who are you?” I called after her, but the effort was fruitless.

I went inside, shivering, partly from the chill in my bones and partly from the thrill of having a potential exciting headline for my paper. The hollow feeling in my stomach was replaced by the vibration of anticipation as I checked the virtual map on my computer for Blackthorn Hollows, a place I had heard of once, long ago, when I first came to Twin Bluffs Harbour and started my newspaper editor/owner/ writing life.

Hidden from the archives in a moldy old, forgotten file I had found back then, a dark and dreadful story about Blackthorn Hollow. Now it had been brought back to mind only this time, beckoning me to its hearth.

But before I relate my mere part in all this I will describe the more recent events of this isolated hamlet, now mostly just and over grown memory, though the Manor now The Blackthorn Hollow B&B had been kept in good repair and rented annually to various haunted house enthusiasts who manufactured their own little ghostly appearances tales and objects floating about and of course things that go bump in the night and over the decades like most such places a legend of hauntings about mayhem and murder that accounted for the abandonment somewhere just after world war one, which most agreed was the downfall of the Hollow because most of the young men had gone off to war and never returned, at least not in the physical world. But it was the story of murder that attracted the ghost hunters and thrill seekers.

Those who actually owned the manor were in themselves a bit of a mystery, heirs still carried the name Belmont, of which there remained only two, Edward, first in line to inherit the estate and Ry Anna, second in line, both unmarried and well off, it was said in their own right. They were waiting for Uncle Seymore to die. At 85 he didn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, but the two cousins were responsible for the up keep.

It was never to be sold off and was managed by the estate executor Simon La Florin, who had himself inherited the client from his father and grandfather before. La Florin was responsible for renting the manor throughout the year and did so moderately successfully drawing enough revenue to maintain the place, pay the taxes and pay the grounds keeper who also did most of the direct renting, showing the place when potential clients arrived, and his wife cooked the breakfast when B&B guests stayed. They resided on the premises.

This particular incarnation of seasonal guests began in the spring of this year in the city of Toronto when a group of would be, recreational ghost hunters, mediums and amateur parapsychologists discovered the long lost legend of murder and mayhem at Blackthorn Hollows.

It all began like this, seemingly an innocent venture into the wilds and mysteries of lost and nearly forgotten villages on the largest fresh water island in the world.

It Began:

In a little café, its name forgotten now, seven enthusiasts of what might be considered a spooky nature, gathered in conversation as a group to discuss their next adventure into the Debunkers, which was the name of their club.

They were accompanied by two guests who had approached the club to go off on an expedition to Blackthorn Hollows, where they would most certainly find the real thing. I should state that the group was actually made up of very level headed professional people who searched out these ghostly place to debunk the legends that be-shadowed them.

Cousins Edward and Ry Anna Belmont, the last living heirs to Blackthorn Manor wanted the group to once and for all prove the hauntings were real by the victims of a gruesome murder that happen long ago, soon after the close of world war one, now a hundred years plus in the past. The cousins believed the place would be worth a fortune if the hauntings could be substantiated. It would bring hundreds of guest to the B&B. “We could rename it, ‘The Blackthorn Manor Haunted Bed and Breakfast.” Ry Anna announced excitedly.

One member of the group, Rendall Comvy replied emphatically, “We do not prove that these places are haunted. We prove that they aren’t.”

“I am sure you will be disappointed,” said Ry Anna. “Besides, if this group can’t disprove the haunting, since you are well known, it will put us in an even better light.”

“Let’s do it.” Tammy Lowen another member of the club, who half believed haunted houses did exist, chirped excitedly

“I’m in.” Landon Ford raised his arm enthusiastically followed By Rees Morton, Weland Brin and Syndi Welsh making the vote unanimous.

“I’ll get my cameras together..” Weland Brin, the clubs photographer and videographer announce,” then said, “This place does have electricity.”

Ry Anna answered, “Of course. It has all the modern conveniences though it all works off a generator.

“That makes it perfect,” Tammy Lowen the clubs chronologist and secretary, cheered.

“We must have our expenses covered.” Club President of the Year Rendall Comvy insisted.

“Of course. Your rooms and meals will be provided as well as travel expenses, gas and ferry fees and such.” Replied Edward, (Eddy), Belmont. “And funeral expenses if necessary.” he added in a little dramatic humour at which no one laughed.

The meeting ended on that note. Eddy placed a business card on the table and the owners of the Blackthorn B&B slipped away with out further conversation.

“I do believe we have a project at last. It has been too long since the last one.” Said Rendall.

Chapter Three

I have heard about Blackthorn Hollows and the string of murder that occurred long ago. My research turned up bits and pieces of the post, world war one murders. There were three victims, one was poisoned, on was stabbed and one was asphyxiated. At the time, the now, Blackthorn B&B was a boarding house. There murders have remained unsolved mysteries and Blackthorn Manor accumulated dozens of ghost stories in the years since.

I packed up my camera, mini-Usb voice recorder and laptop and headed for Blackthorn Hollows B&B. Little did I know I was heading for…well…I shall let you decide that.

My first job was to find Blackthorn Hollows. It was not shown on any maps, not even virtual maps on the computer. All I knew was that it was off Highway 6 probably between the Slash and Squirrel Town Road, which turned out to be right but it was on a whim that I turned down New England road and about two kilometers along, where the road curves left I found a narrow dirty road, barely wide enough for my car, with a sign, almost completely faded out and hidden among the tree branches, Blackthorn Hollows B&B, By Reservation Only.

The snow had been ploughed off leaving a track of half melted mud, still passable but my tires left deep ruts. Several times I had to break when deer darted out of the woods just feet ahead of me. It was good that 20 kilometers an hour was my best speed and down to 10 here and there and I didn’t dare stop completely. I think the momentum was the only thing that got me through.

Just before I came to Blackthorn Hollows was a narrow, wooden bridge that creaked and cracked as I rolled over it. It crossed over a creek bed that was running hard with the spring melt.

It might have been the creepiest drive I had ever experienced what with the grey gloom of the day and the skeletal trees that swayed in the light wind rushing among their branches. A ghostly thing it felt like.

Finally, I came to Blackthorn Hollows and was surprised to find several ghostly remnants of long abandoned houses stretched along both sides a narrow street. At the very end where the street circled in a Cul de sac stood the Blackthorn Hollows B&B. I was surprised to find it lit up with electric lights, but then a I parked and climbed from the car I heard the steady drone of a generator and just off to the right of the B&B I spied two large propane tanks.

Things seemed like they were looking up.

Just as I got out of the car the wind picked up and it started to rain, that kind of rain that freezes as soon as it touches something solid. It got gloomy and now a little scary, the real kind of scary that comes with storms and isolated places.

I grabbed my equipment and ran for the veranda, taking the six steps up in two excited leaps.

A sign on the door read, “Please Pull The Bell Chain.” I found it and gave it a yank. I heard the bells inside clank and clatter. A minute later the door opened and a woman, somewhere in her thirties I guess greeted me. Recognition was in her pale blue eyes.

“Zak Vancura. What ever brings you here.” She said in a slumbering voice.

“I had a visit from a rather strange lady, who told me that I was certain to find a great story for my newspaper.”

The woman afforded me a cool smile. She said, “I can’t imagine who that would have been, but she was quite right. We are having a ghost hunting party with a group from Toronto. My cousin and I arranged it some time ago. They are coming actually to prove our place is not haunted.”

I replied, “I trust the hauntings are by the three people who were murdered here a hundred years ago.”

The woman grinned, “You have done your home work Zak Vancura. Please come in.”

As we stepped inside a man about the same age joined us. The woman quickly introduced him. “Zak Vancura. This is my cousin, Edward Belmont, and I am Ry Anna of the same surname.”

I thought her choice of words a little archaic but let it slip by.

“When is the group expected to arrive?” I asked.

Edward answered, “Any time now. We sent our van to guide them here from Little Current. Blackthorn is not easy to find.”

“That’s great. Maybe I could a few photos of the manor while we wait.” I replied.

“Take as many as you like. We could use the publicity.” Ry Anna invited.

I had an hour alone, taking shots of the rooms and stairways, narrow hallways, and scores of little dark corners. I even found a narrow set of stairs that curled up into the attic. I was just about to climb them when the group of haunting debunkers arrived. As I retreated I heard something overhead go ‘Thump’

It was quite the calamity of grunts, groans clunks, and crashes, grumbles and bangs as the group hauled in their equipment that looked half like a mobile film studio and half like something parascience fiction.

I snapped dozens of pictures, some close ups of the seven members of the group and a couple of group shots. They looked to me like something straight out of a comic book, old versions of Archie and his gang. I worked hard not to laugh outwardly.

They had just brought in the last of their gear when the storm of all storms announced its arrival with a blinding flash of lightning, a crash of thunder that shook the manor and a wind that howled like a clutch of banshees.

I ran out to my car and grabbed my travel bag. I wasn’t going home before the morning.

Edward Belmont showed me to a room. No Charge. It was a back room on the main floor, small but comfortable enough. What can one expect for nothing.

Chapter Four

It took most of the afternoon for The Debunkers group to get their equipment set up and functioning properly.

 It was dinner time, or, as Mrs La Florin called it, High Tea, the nine of us sat down at the B&B guest dinning room table. There were no servant to dish the food out, so we passed the it around boarding house style to the left. It went rather smoothly actually.

Of course, the talk was about the storm, which was still blasting the hollows. Then, when were sitting back tucking away sweets and coffee the two cousins started on about the murders of their two grand uncles and aunt.

Ry Anne and Edward took turns telling the story.

“You must realize of course police investigations then were slim on experience and numbers. I am not sure there was much of a police force here. So, it was always suspected that a stranger came to Blackthorn and murdered three people, one by poison, one by stabbing and one by asphyxiation. In those days boarders came and went, but there was a second suspect, the member of the family, Grand Uncle Steven Belmont who inherited the old place. Seven years later on the day of the three murders

He died an uncanny, horrible death when a storm just like this one came up though there was no sign of physical trauma. The coroner of the day said that the look on the deceases face was fear. Later, after an autopsy it was discovered he had had a heart attack, at least officially. The local paper put out a story about ghostly revenge and that’s when the hauntings began, strongest this time of year around the date of the original murders.”

I asked, “Have there been any other suspicious deaths since?”

“Nothing you would call suspicious.” Answered Ry Anna, “However there were several accidents over the years up until the early 1950s. It was about then that the last residents other than the Belmonts abandon the hamlet.”

“And what about the hauntings?” I inquired.

“The ghost are always here, bumping and banging about.” Mrs. La Florin spoke up as she began clearing the table. “But it is in these day of late March on stormy nights, and it is always storm around this time, that they show themselves. Poltergeist they are I tell you. Their bodies are still here, in the old graveyard.”

I have witnessed some storms on the island but nothing like the one that day, and night. Not even the ones that hit Twin Bluffs Harbour that come of the bay out of the north west.

After High Tea we gathered in the guest parlor for an after dinner libation of which I did not partake, having coffee instead. My hosts and The Debunkers indulged a little more liberally, but not excessively.

I tried to use the land line to make a call, but the line was dead and there was no cell signal and no wifi, no computer connection at all. Edward explained, “This is a retreat for people, away from their busy lives. We keep a land line for making supply orders and emergencies. I will go to town in the morning and report the loss of service.”

His mood had turned cold and anxious and he seemed to start at every creak and crack in the house.

I asked after about twenty minutes of his fidgeting, “Why are you so nervous Edward?” I kept my tone curious but not energetic.

Edward replied, “We hardly ever come here this time of year, since it is around now that our predecessors were murdered. Why tempt fate and get our selves murdered as well. After all others have died, ah suspiciously and history has a habit of repeating itself. Especially now since our lawyer has informed us that there is a company that wants to by up this entire forest. The only thing stopping then is, we actually own most of the land here abouts, two hundred acres to be precise. We, as part of the condition of our inheritance and our old uncle Seymore while he lives can’t sell out. It must remain in the family until the murders of old are solved.”

“Who is in line to inherit Black Hollows if neither of you three don’t?” I asked.

Ry Anna answered, “You will have to ask La Florin. For some reason he is the executor of the estate.”

Edward stood from his chair and went to the door. It was open. He was about to call on Simon La Florin when the man stepped out of as shadow, startling Edward so sharply that he actually turned white and jumped back a yard and a half. Edward staggered to his chair, sat down, and drained his snifter of a fresh fill of brandy.

It calmed him enough to ask, “Mr. La Florin, who inherits Blackthorn if Uncle, Ry Anna and I are all dead?”

“At present no one is named sir. If all three of you were to die a search for an heir would be conducted. The search would last until an heir was found or seven years pass. At that time Blackthorn Hollows would be bequeathed to the executor of the time.”

“Which could be you if we were all to die soon since you are not all that old and could survive seven years easily.” Edward replied with a shadow of suspicion.

“Yes, I suppose but since you folks, including your uncle are in excellent health I doubt such a tragedy would occur.” La Florin replied unemotionally.

Just then the front door of the old manor crashed open and a dark soaking figure shuffled in, cursing the rain and wind and cold. “You had better have a good reason for summoning me here.” An old gravelly voice bellowed.

It was Uncle Seymore.

“Uncle. Who summoned you?” Ry Anna cried out and ran to him, giving the old man a huge hug.

Uncle Seymore handed her a note. It was typed. “Come immediately Uncle Seymore. Something terrible is going to happen if you don’t.” It was not signed.

“Uncle. We did not send this to you.” Ry Anna replied anxiously.

Seymore Belmont was not impressed though said little, but enough to indicate the last place he wanted to be was Blackthorn Hollows. To say the least he was a miserable individual. He made it quite clear he would be leaving in the morning as soon as it was light. Unfortunately.

Chapter Five

Old mansions, without the assistance of a magnificent storm are capable of the most human complaints like groaning, creaking, grumbling, wailing and even whispers from the shadows. But with a storm flashing and rumbling across the night sky and a raging wind howling through the trees and every crevice of the house the effects were alarming, more alarming than anything a movie could provide. You can’t feel the house shudder when on a tv screen, but you can when you are in your bed trying to sleep and you feel your bed shiver beneath you.

Add to all that a triple, unsolved murder lingering in the mansions past and rumours of the victims ghosts haunting the shadows within one could find him or her self curling up beneath the sheets and blankets imagining all sort of horrifying things that go bump or scream in the night. But when that scream becomes real and fills the house in a deathly shriek the fear within launches a sleeper from bed and sends it dashing from the room, down the hallway and up the stairs to the source of outcry.

I was the second to arrive. Ry Anna was first and the vehicle of the hellacious outburst. I found her standing over her uncles bed. Only a dim light from a night stand lamp illuminated the bed. I could see, even in that dimness, the bloodless pallor of her cheeks. Her arms were twist tightly across her middle. She was staring in frozen horror at her dead uncle, a butcher knife protruding from his heart. His cold dead eyes were frozen open in a terrified stare. His lips were stretched in a wretched grin, a thin stream of blood trickled down his chin.

Seconds later Edward rushed in. At the sight of his uncle lying there dead he began laughing hysterically. I turned him about sharply and pushed him out of the room. “Someone, quickly, call the police.” I ordered.

“The phone is still out.” Mr. La Florin’s grumbly voice came out of some shadowy corner.

I said, “Then anyone with a cell phone, try and find a signal.”

“You’ll get nothing like that here. Someone will have to drive to town, to the police station.” Mrs. La Florin said in a strong matronly voice.

I said, “I’ll go. Stay out of the murder room and don’t disturb anything.

The storm was still raging as I ran from the manor and climbed in my car. I got as far as the bridge but there was no bridge, only the wrecked remains and a little further down the road, illuminated by my headlights I could see three large trees downed across the road.

I couldn’t turn the car around, so I was forced to drive backwards all the way back to the manor. By the time I got from my car and climbed the steps to the door of the manor my stomach was in knots. It occurred to me that we were stuck, alone and isolated out here in the wilds of the island with a killer on the loose. I won’t admit I was terrified, but I was scared enough to keep a vigil over my shoulder at every corner and in every shadow.

Once back inside I called everyone to the dining room. We needed to have a conference. I needed to look everyone in the eye. Ghosts don’t murder someone with a knife.

It took several minutes for everyone to gather. Mrs. La Florin who was attending Ry Anna were the first to arrive. The seven guests, the members of The Debunkers Club came next, nearly crowded into the room all at once, cramming the door as they pushed their way in. It was not until ten minutes later that Simon La Florin arrived. He looked flushed and was gasping for breath. He was carrying an ancient CB radio.

He said, “The antenna is still up. I can hook this up. Maybe we can get someone on the emergency channel.”

“I doubt there is anyone in the world that uses relics like that anymore.” Said Rendall Comvy.

I argued stoutly, “It’s better than nothing. There is a ham radio club on the island, and I know a couple of the member well and they still have CBs. Maybe Mr. La Florin can get through a message.”

“What about Uncle Seymore. What do we do with him?” Ry Anna cried.

“Leave the scene of the crime untouched.” I ordered emphatically. The Police will be here eventually, and they don’t like the crime scene spoiled.” I instructed.

With everyone in the dining room I took Mrs. La Florin aside and quietly asked, “Besides the people in this room is there anyone else in the house?”

She gave me a curious look trying to figure out why I had asked. Then, like a light coming on she said in a harsh whisper, “No. It is just us.”

I felt like I had stepped out of reality and into an Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery macabre or maybe one of Agatha Christie’s famous detective novels. I mused over the idea that for the moment I was the closest element of an investigator available, with a salting of experience in the human atrocity of homicide, actually, premeditated, cold blooded murder. That scared me more than the haunted house scenario because the proof, so they say, is in the pudding and the pudding was a man up stairs about as murdered as a person can be.

Mr. La Florin had his CB radio hooked up by the time I finish talking to his wife. He dialed to channel 9 and said, “May day, may day, we need the police.”

Static came back. I said, “keep it up. It might take a little time and you can try channel 19 as well. Truckers still use CB regularly I am told.”

I looked around the room thinking, “If there are no other people in the house than one of the guests, or possibly even one of our hosts is the killer.” And pondered that it was unlikely one of the La Florins, but only unlikely, not impossible.

It wasn’t me and I couldn’t see any reason for any of The Debunkers group doing it. There was no obvious motive there. That left the cousins.

Chapter Six

Uncanny. Should I suggest such a thing? The dawn came and the storm was still raging and maybe it was even a tad worse. Everyone except Weland Brin gathered in the dining room for breakfast put on as usual by Mrs. La Florin who seemed unmoved by the events of last night, or the storm. Weland arrived a few moments later explaining that he rummaged around the manor checking his equipment, “Which revealed our killer.” He announced, “At least a shadow of him, or her. I can not tell. Its not clear.” He announced.

Tammy Lowen put in quickly, “A poltergeist. We have found a real haunted house gang. How exciting.”

“One of us probably, unless someone crept into the house during the night and killed old Seymore.” Edward suggested, a possibility I had not considered, but who would be out and about giving the state of the weather and road conditions?

Simon La Florin went about his daily business, all inside of course, but kept an ear out on his CB. So far nothing came through. He explained that with the storm it was unlikely but better than nothing. A signal might get through in a lull.

I was getting anxious to return to my office, but not in a panic because my call in helper would make sure the paper got out, at least the basics and all my advertisers. I found myself wishing I could get the current story started, but it wasn’t going to happen until I could get out. Someone was going to have to make a bridge. I rolled my eyes and tried my cell phone. Nothing.

We had breakfast then the Debunkers started combing the house for whatever debunkers look for. Mrs. La Florin began her after breakfast chores and returned to my room to work on my story, offline.

Another hellacious scream sirened through the manor. I heard the clomp of running feet race down the stairs toward the epicentre of the scream, the parlor.

Edward Belmont sat stark still, staring lifelessly. A white foam still bubbled from his mouth and the smell of almonds was in the air. He was still holding a cup in his left hand. It was a coffee that Mrs. Florin told us, he made himself.

“Everybody out.” I ordered and quickly ushered everyone through the door and out to the lobby area.

Simon La Florin said ominously, “That’s two. There will be one more before the curse is completed. It’s happened before.”

“We must get help from the police.” I emphasized.

“There is the ATV Simon.” Mrs. La Florin suggested to her husband.

“Yes. It will be dangerous but maybe I can get to the police station on highway six. I am glad I haven’t taken the tracks off yet.” Simon La Florin replied. “Get me my rain suit Manny. I’ll go to the shed and get the ATV out. And make me a thermos of coffee and a lunch for the trip.”

“How long will it take?” I asked.

“Dunno. It depends on the road and if the ATV can get through. A while at best.” Simon replied.

I wanted to go with him, but the story was developing there and if I was going to get it all I had to stay.

I made a note. “Two murders and a portent of a third.. There is a killer in the house. I will insist on everyone gathering in the dining room and stay put until the police arrived.”

The idea didn’t make me popular until I reminded them that the two victims were alone when they were killed.

Noises from above. It was lunch time. Mrs. La Florin had just finished preparing the noon meal and we were picking our places at the table. Suddenly, from above we heard bangs and clunks.

I counted. Everyone was in their place. I said warningly, “It sounds like there is someone else in the house. Who could it be?” Manny La Florin went white with mixed with a look of guilty knowledge.

“Seems we have been misled.” I said. “Who is it Mrs. La Florin.

The cook turned even paler then in a slow, reluctant voice said, “No One. It’s the ghosts. They are agitated.

Tammy Lowen jumped up and bolted for the stairs. “We must investigate.” She shouted and her companions followed her before I could stop them. I followed just to make sure no one went into either of the victim sites.

As we climbed the stairs Mrs. La Florin said, “They are in the attic. They don’t come out of there until after dark. They hate the light.”

“Have you seen them Mrs. La Florin?” Tammy Lowen asked.

“No. I never see them. I just feel them. I mean I feel the cold when they are near.”

Weland Brin went to his room quickly, returning in less than a minute with a camera. “If there is something I must get a picture.” He explained when I gave him a questioning look.

We were on the third floor in less than two minutes and found a pull down stair case to the attic. Dust and cold and dampness rushed down through the opening. Normal I guess for old houses but with rumours of ghosts and two corpses in the house it was alarming, especially in the wake of the noise.

Tammy, after giving herself of shake for confidence sake, climbed the eight steps up to the attic opening. Her head and shoulders seemed to vanish into the darkness of the attic.

“What do you see?” Weland Brin demanded excitedly. “Take my camera. Get a picture.” He offered.

“Wait. My eyes haven’t adjusted yet.” Tammy replied.

We waited. It seemed like forever, but it was only seconds. It seemed when I looked up the darkness of the attic seemed to fade. I could see a silhouette of Tammy’s head and shoulders

Then, suddenly, Tammy gasped, and said in a forced whisper, “Oh, Oh, Oh Jeepers Creepers.” Then she backed down the stairs abruptly. Her eyes were wide with awe, mixed with terror.

“What is it?” I demanded.

Chapter Seven

I climbed up the steps. Cautiously. On the third one something big, white and fury with huge blue eyes lurched at me, hissing wildly.

“Fluffy!” Mrs. La Florin cried out as the cat landed with a little thump at her feet. “I thought you had run away.”

“Jeez.” I groaned. “What’s a cat doing trapped in the attic.

I was just recovering from the shock when something else reached down from the darkness. A pale, thin hand, little more than bone with skin stretched over it.

It grabbed me by the collar of my jacket and gave it a yank. But I was quicker and stronger and when I pulled back the owner of the hand came crashing down on me. We both smashed in a crumple to the floor. But before anything else could happen the creature was on its feet and running back up the steps.

Steven. Steven Rilley. You come down from there.” Mrs. La Florin demanded sharply, but the creature gave no answer. He simply grabbed hold of fluffy and dashed back up the stairs.

“Who was that?” I queried as I climbed to my feet.

 With a knitted brow and a soft piteous voice Mrs La Florin replied, “A tragic story that one is, and not one I am willing to give a newspaper man without asking Steven about it first, or you could ask him yourself.”

I queried, “Does he have anything to do with what is going on now?”

Mrs. La Florin sneered. “Not with the murders but.” She was cut off.

Steven inched down the stairs again. His eyes instantly fixated on me. “You’re that reporter guy.” He said, almost as an accusation.

I nodded.

Then he disappeared again, and the stairs raised behind him.

I stared at Mrs. La Florin. She turned and walked away. Though I pursued her she would not finish what she started to tell me.

When you have been in this business long enough you figure out that when people don’t and won’t talk there is a secret at large and most often hovers about like a skeleton in a closet. In this case I discovered the skeleton haunted the attic but lived in a little cottage deeper in the woods that was still on the Belmont property. It was Ry Anna who finally broke down and told me a little bit about Steven Rilley but would not submit to a full inquiry. I had every intention of find this cottage and interview him one on one, but things got crazy, too crazy to go wandering off. In fact, I was on my way out the back door to find Steven Rilley when a hellacious scream came the music room.

I ran like the devil himself was chasing me and was the second one to crash through the door. There, in the middle of the room, hanging by a rope from the chandelier was Ry Anna, about as dead as body can get. Mrs La Florin was the screamer. She was standing there gripped in the claws of shock, trembling ferociously.

I turned her and pushed her out of the room. My thoughts reeled. Three murders. Copycats of the legend that held the old place hostage. As we left the room the hall filled up, including Steven Rilley who carefully took Mrs. La Florin by the elbow and took he to the kitchen.

“Where are they?” I thought of Simon La Florin off to fetch the police, hours ago. Then I went outside tried my cellphone again, hoping I could at least get a text out. I typed a few words, Help. Murder at Blackthorn Bed and Breakfast and sent it out to Sergeant MaKan with my fingers crossed. Even a slight signal can send out a text. I heard it go swoosh like it does when the message gets sent. I sighed in a hopeful relief and went for a walk along the over grown path that was once the main street of the village. Here and there I could pick out ruined foundations and the remains of a barn, I took pictures with my phone thinking one day I would do a feature story on the history of Blackthorn Hollows.

I was just tucking the camera in my pocket when the messenger that started tis whole weird dark adventure off shuffled out from the shadow of a tree. Once again I could not see her face and she did not allow me to get nearer than a dozen feet. She kept her head tilted down.

“You must keep searching for the truth Zak Vancura. It is there. What you see is only the surface. Secrets run deep here and until they are revealed these murders will go unsolved. Look to those who seem to have the least interest in Blackthorn Hollows.”

The voice was chilled and raw, mixed with anger. Then like she came she went, into the shadow of a tree.

“Wait. You must tell me more.” I called after her and ran to catch her but she was gone, swallowed it seemed by the shadows of Blackthorn.

“Help!” A voice came from far off, toward the river.

“Now what. I groaned and listened closer. “Help me!” came again and this time the pain and distress in it echoed among the trees.

I could not run, not safely. But I made the best time I could edging as quickly as possible toward the cries for help. As I grew nearer I called back, “Who is there? What is wrong?” but my reply was not answered. I did not discover who had cried out until I tripped over the body, face down in the mucky lay of the river bank, shivering, and choking.

I knelt down and turned it over. A gasp rushed past my lips and I began to understand more than I really wanted to.

Chapter eight

Simon La Florin opened his eyes. He managed to catch his breath but could not stop shivering. With a quavering voice he said, “I’ve crashed my bike and I think I’ve thrown my knee and shoulder out. I have been yelling for help, but no one heard me until you came along. Please help me.”

“You never made it to town.” I said as I lifted him onto his feet. He managed to balance himself on one leg and used me as a crutch.

“No. I went to cross the river, but my bike flipped over when it hit a rock and the right front wheel came off.” Simon La Florin.

The bike was close by. I took a look at the broken wheel. All but one nut had been removed. That was easy enough to determine because the last lug was snapped off clean.

“There has been a third murder I am afraid.” I announced.

“It was inevitable. Now they are all dead.” La Florin said ominously.

“How do you know?” I demanded.

La Florin replied, “Because they were all warned. They all received threatening letters. If they refused to give up Blackthorn they would die.”

“Who threatened them?” I queried.

“Some one who is going to benefit from these murders.” La Florin groaned.

I said, “I thought if they were gone you and Mrs. La Florin inherited? That makes you both suspects being the last heirs standing.”

“We got the same letters. We will be next.”

The ghastly creature in the hoodie came back to mind, (“You must keep searching for the truth Zak Vancura. It is there. What you see is only the surface. Secrets run deep here and until they are revealed these murders will go unsolved. Look to those who seem to have the least interest in Blackthorn Hollows.”)

I found the driveway leading up to the old manor. It was easier going than trying to haul Simon La Florin through the underbrush, but it was still difficult. His weight on my shoulder was enormous and I had to stop several times before we final made it back and I was able to pull him up the stairs and inside where I finally got someone to help me. It was Tammy Lowen.

The look of astonishment screamed, “What are you doing here?” she blurted silently, but quickly changed her mood to seem piteous. The abruptness of the moment did not escape my notice, but at that moment I was more interested in getting Simon La Florin some help.

Mrs. La Florin came rushing in, “What have you done to yourself old man?” She cried out and took charge of him.

I turned to confront Tammy Lowen, but she had run off. I didn’t follow her. She couldn’t go too far.

Just when we didn’t need more trouble, the storm resurged, and the rain came in a torrent. Lightning flashed and the thunder shook the rafters. Even if Sergeant MaKan got my message there was no way for him to get out to Blackthorn Hollows. Besides, I had forgotten to warn him the bridge was out. I tapped out another text and hit send. The phone whooshed.

I was about to go looking for Tammy Lowen when Mrs La Florin called me into the kitchen. She had made quick work of cleaning her husband up and his shoulder and knee seemed to be fitting into their joints properly again.

Simon La Florin said, “You saw the wheel. It was no accident that it came off.”

“I agree.” I replied. “Someone wants you…”

“Someone wants me dead, and probable Amy here too.” Simon cut me off.

“Who could want to kill you off?” I interrogated.

The La Florins looked at each other nervously then Amy La Florin said, “We think there is someone else, another member of the family.”

“Some one who would inherit the estate by default if they could prove a direct blood relationship. But if they could do that they would not have to kill you.” I suggested.

“A will is a pretty powerful tool. Who ever it is obviously does not want to deal with that. It would be easier to get rid of us all.” Simon explained.

I thought about what he said and part of me, most of my thoughts were in agreement, but I am also a student of human nature. It could be just as possible that the La Florins were trying to throw me off the track. It was entirely possible they were creating a red herring to throw suspicion away from themselves, but them being the killers all along.

It was working actually, because of my meeting in the woods with the hoodie lady and the reaction of Tammy Lowen. I thought, “How is it all connected?” I kept the thought to myself and didn’t reveal my other suspicions.

I left the La Florin’s in the kitchen and went hunting for Tammy Lowen. I couldn’t forget the way she reacted when she first saw Simon. It was like she never expected to see him again, as though she knew something would happen to him when he went out to try and get help. But that was my own penchant for conspiracies working on me. I could have read something into the moment that wasn’t there.

I found everyone in the dining room, including Lowen. The Debunkers Club was discussing what they were going to do amidst this horror story. Of course, they wanted to leave, but that was not possible with the bridge out and they were obliged to remain on hand until the police could come and begin an investigation.

Steven Rilley was not there. He was fast becoming another suspect, but I had only a hunch about that.

My phone buzzed. A text message made it through. It was MaKan. “On my way.” Was all it said, but that was enough. I told the others the police would soon be there. Then I watched their reaction. It was confusing.

I said, “Sergeant Makan is coming to investigate and will want to interview everyone. I suggest you stick to the facts and the truth. He may seem a little slow, but that’s him. That is how he works, sifting the truth from the lies.

Chapter Nine

Evil, they say, lurks in the hanging shadows of the night and in depths of the mind of man. As I wandered through the rooms of Blackthorn Hollows Bed and Breakfast I thought, “It lurks here too.”

I must have said it aloud because I got a response, “It’s not evil at work here. Just some one working evil to their own advantage.”

The voice bleeding out from a shadow and shattering the quiet scared the crap out of me. I turned sharply on one heel in the direction of the disturbance. Steven Rilley stepped through a doorway. His eyes were red and glistened with spent tears. When my heart stopped thumping in my chest I said, “Tell me about it kid. What do you know?”

Rilley didn’t answer. Another voice came from behind me. One I recognized. I spun around and she was standing there, the woman in the hoodie. I demanded, “Show yourself this time. I hate this cloak and dagger stuff.”

The woman pulled her hood back. I stared but not in surprise. I said, in a strict voice, “Maybe if you would have said something none of this would have happened. You could be charged as an accessory.”

“I had no idea people were going to get murdered, but I am afraid Steven will get blamed for them.”

I asked, “Why?”, but didn’t get an answer. Instead I was startled by a horrendous crash and scream down stairs. When I turned away the hoodie woman made a dash for it. Steven pushed past me a ran down the stairs with me close at his heels.

There was a small crowd hanging around the door into the music room. I pushed through and there was Ry Anna on the floor under the chandelier. There was a gaping hole in the ceiling. 

“I guess the weight was too much for the ceiling to hold.” Someone said, some man said, but I didn’t see who. Nonetheless it was probably true and after a few minutes the small crowd dispersed.

I turned to Steven to ask what the hoodie woman was going to tell me, but he was gone. I was sure it was important and went hunting for him. This time I called it right. I headed for the cottage at the back of the Blackthorn property, but when I arrived no one was there at first.

The door was not locked. Curiosity lured me inside. I expected to find a mean digs but what expanded before me was nothing short of luxury. It was like walking into the grandest Victorian bedroom ever assembled and as I searched about I discovered it included a cabinet, which for those who are not aware is the male equivalent of a woman’s boudoir.

“This is nuts.” Whispered past my lips as I walked around the room examining the furniture and scores of trinkets, much of which were made of gold and silver and magnificent jewels. In short, it was a fortune hiding within the rough exterior of the cabin.

I was examining a small writing desk when someone entered. “Do you always enter peoples private homes without being invited?” It was Steven’s voice, but far less subdued than I had heard before.

It clicked in as I turned to face him. I said, “You’re a Belmont.”

Steven grinned. It was one of those sad admission kind of responses. “Illegitimately so.” He admitted. Rilley is my father’s name. Ry Anna is, ah, was my mother.”

Just then the woman in the hoodie entered.

Tammy Lowen straighten up to her full height. “Ry Anna was afraid something like this was going to happen. I hadn’t seen her in years, though she did write me now and then about Steven, my nephew.”

It was my turn to grin. I said, “This is going to drive my readers mad. But how are you involved in all this?”

“The Belmonts were receiving death threats, poison pen letters, if you can believe that kind of drama. I tried to get the police involved but I was told there was nothing much they could do, especially since the Belmonts would not relinquish the letters. So, I told Ry Anna to get in touch with the group I belong to, hoping it would stop who ever was making the threats. Then I went to see you, on Ry Anna’s request. But it’s turned out to nothing. The Belmonts are dead and it will come out that Steven, illegitimate or not is blood related.”

I interrupted, “And you are thinking he might be accused of killing the Belmonts off, for the inheritance or maybe just revenge.”

“Mother never denied me anything.” Steven cut in. “I am well educated and have every luxury a man could want, and she promised that someday, when the time was right she would reveal who I am. She was waiting for Uncle Steven to pass. I am named after him. Why would I kill them? Once Uncle Steven died I would become part of the family, openly.”

I said, “Okay. I get it. You aren’t the killer and I doubt the La Florins are either, but who is?”

Steven and Tammy both gave me a look that said, “Who knows? Not me.”

My phone buzzed. It was MaKan. The text read, “On New England Road. Blackthorn Hollows Rd. washed out. Hold the fort.”

I texted, “What about the bodies. They are going to become a problem soon.”

Makan sent back, “Put them someplace cold.”

I looked at Steven and said, “Is there a cold room?”

He replied, “There is. It is a walk-in fridge off the kitchen. It used to be the pantry.”

“It is going to be a while before the police arrive. We have to move the bodies.” I announced.

Tammy’s face paled. Steven got a grim look on his, but said, “it’s gruesome but if it needs doing let’s get it done.” Then we all headed back to the inn.

My thoughts focused on an old question that had a new twist to it. “Who is the killer?”

Chapter Ten

I won’t give your stomach a work out over the moving of the bodies. Suffice to say, without due difficulty we got then into the walk in fridge, out of sight and mind, managing not to disturb the crime scenes more than absolutely necessary.

Of course, the Debunkers, except Tammy Lowen, all wanted to clear out and probably would have packed up and run for it if they could have. Fortunately, with the bridge and at least part of the road out being impassible they were stuck. This was a good thing because as far as I knew then, one of them had to be the killer.

My other concern was for the La Florins who, according to the will were now the beneficiaries to Blackthorn Hollows B&B and someone had already tried to kill Simon La Florin.

I am a reporter, not a cop, so I did not have any real authority over the situation except for reminding everyone that the police were on their way but there was a killer on the loose. I used this line to keep everyone together in the dining room. Mrs. La Florin kept them amply supplied with coffee, tea, and a variety of sandwiches. Those who chose to, indulged in what ever libations were available, mostly wine and brandy, though a couple had brought along their own bottle and at least one, according to my nostrils came with smokables. Mr. and Mrs. La Florin both smoked tobacco. They were hold up in the kitchen where Mrs. La Florin said she felt safe.

Sometimes funny thoughts go through your mind in the midst of dilemmas and tragedies. I was thinking about the ghosts and ghouls supposedly haunting Blackthorn Hollows it struck me that Steven could have easily perpetuated that concept.

I fixed my gaze on him and he noticed. “What?” he said defensively.

I smiled but kept my thoughts to myself. I did not want to risk anyone else knowing he was connected to the Belmonts or that one of the Debunkers was connected to him. Things would have gone from bad to worse if that knowledge got out. The thought was just being replaced with contemplations on my story when suddenly the lights went out and the room went dark except for the natural light that creeps through the windows on a gloomy, grey, stormy day.

Simon La Florin entered the room, “Don’t worry folks. I’ll go to the generator house and get the power back in a flash.”

I cut in, “Not alone. Steven. You go with him.” I ordered and was surprised no one argued. In the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘plot’. It seemed too convenient to me that the generator would go down just then, since it had been running just fine since we all arrived and there was no abrupt flash of lightning or thunder beforehand.

“You be careful Steven.” Tammy Lowen blurted out, which drew the attention of her companions.

I said, “Oh boy.” I thought, “Here we go. There’s going to be a fight.” Fortunately, although the other Debunkers stared at her none said anything and that kind of confused me. “Why weren’t they grilling Tammy over her outburst?” Of course, there was a simple explanation, I thought, and I was right, but the explanation turned out to have little to do with the murders.

A half hour went by. The lights had not come back on and La Florin and Steven Rilley had not returned. Mrs. La Florin was standing in the doorway of the kitchen ringing her apron frantically.

Finally, after careful consideration I said, “Tammy. You keep an eye on things here. I am going to see what’s going on at the generator house.” That was probably the dumbest and bravest thing I had ever volunteered for in my life. Walking into something I had no idea what dangers I might find.

I went out the front door even thought the generator house was at the back a hundred feet away from the building. Then I crept around the house keeping myself out of sight until I reach a point where I could peer around a corner of the building and see the power house. I saw the dancing light of a flash light strobing erratically through the window in the door, Like someone was fighting with it, like there was a fight going on.

I ran across the lawn to the power house as fast as I could and crashed through the door. I saw Simon La Florin laying on the floor with a gash in his forehead and Steven was near the back door fighting off someone dressed up in dark clothes and wearing a mask, just a black hood with eye holes.

Suddenly the intruder picked up a piece of wood, bashed Steven over the head and dashed wildly out the back door.

Simon La Florin stirred and struggled to his feet. Steven had not gone down but he was swooning and barely managing to hold himself upright by leaning on the generator.

After a minute, La Florin pulled himself together and through the switch for the generator. It started with a groan.

“Some one pulled the switch, obviously to lure me down here.” La Florin said miserably.

“Or Steven.” I tossed in and quickly explained why.

La Florin grinned. “I knew it. I was always saying to my Mrs., That Steven sure has Ry Anna’s eyes. I am glad I was right.”

“You to get back to the house. I am going to try and track your attacker.” I said.

“No Mr. Vancura. I am going after him.” Steven argued.

My phone buzzed. Sergeant MaKan was at the bridge. He had commandeered one of those four wheel pick ups with over-sized tires and tackled the washed out road. “Just crossing the river now. We will be there in a few minutes” He texted and signed off.

“No one is going after the attacker. Detective Makan is here and he has brought some help. I will explain what has happened. Let’s get back to the house.

Chapter Eleven

I had thought that monster pickups were a thing of the past, but “Just because things like that go out of vogue doesn’t mean they disappear.” According to Detective MaKan. “You just have to know who keeps one around.

Makan had brought three uniforms with him and the coroner, who was not in the least bit pleased about being dragged out into the bush, “On a very dark and stormy day.” She put it in an attempt to cheer herself up.

I immediately handed Makan my notes. He read them over lightly then set them down on the dining room table and told one of the uniforms to read the whole thing over carefully. Then I told him about the intruder who had clubbed Steven Rilley and Simon La Florin. Then I showed the coroner to the refrigerator and left her there to examine the bodies, just to make things official. We already knew how each had died, when and where. It just needed her signature to make it legal. There would be the obligatory autopsy of course but that was merely paperwork. Which she grumbled about.

MaKan looked at me and said, “You are sure the murders haven’t been committed by any of these people.”

“I am sure.”

“And I suppose you know who did it.” He chided.

I replied, “Unfortunately, Sergeant MaKan I have no idea who it is, except it’s a he and he tried to kill Steven Rilley and or Simon La Florin out in the generator house. I suspect the target was La Florin though, since it would be him that would check out why the generator quit.”

“You didn’t get a look at him.” Makan said.

“No. He wore a mask, and all I can suggest is he was bigger than average size.” I answered.

“Nice to know you don’t have all the answers for a change and leave me something to do.” MaKan shot back sarcastically, then laughed.

Makan is a smart cookie, despite his slow ways and rumpled appearance. He has been a cop long enough to look past the chaff and scrape out the truth. As soon as he knew the story about Ry Anna Belmont, Steven Rilley and Tammy Lowen the first question out of his mouth was shot at Tammy. “Where’s your brother?”

The same question had crossed my mind, but I hadn’t had the chance to ask it. It was probably a good thing since Tammy was more likely to play it straight with a cop than a reporter.

“I don’t know Sergeant. Not exactly. I know that he just got out of jail. He called me the day they cut him loose, but I haven’t heard from him since.”

“What did you talk about?” Makan interrogated.

“He wanted to make sure the Belmonts knew that Steven was his son and that Ry Anna was the mother.” Tammy revealed openly.

“Would he kill over this?” Asked Makan.

Tammy went pale. “He has killed before, but he was never arrested. There wasn’t enough evidence.”

“How do you know that he has killed before then?” I spouted interfering. Makan shot me a, “Shut Up,” glare.

“I don’t. Not really. I just know in my heart. He has always tried to look after me. But, but he was so horrible to everyone else. Even Ry Anna. I don’t think she wanted to, to, do it with him. I think he goaded her into it. I didn’t see what happened but, I saw her after, and she was crying.”

“What a mess.” MaKan groaned. “I’ll get an APB out on him as soon as I get out of here. In the mean time I’ll get statements from the rest of you and then you can go home.’ He indicated everyone in the room with a wave of his hand.

There was something in Tammy Lowens eyes that didn’t fit the words coming out her mouth. Call it what you want, intuition, a gut feeling, the tone of voice or the hint of a lie that is tucked away under a bit of truth. In short. I did not believe she was being as truthful as she sounded.

I said as much to Makan and he shot me another glaring glance. “Why is it you always manage to make something already complicated enough, even more complicated?”

I grinned. “Just to make your life more exciting Sergeant.”

Makan sneered but said, “Ok. What’s going on in that muddle in your head you call a brain?”

I told him and he sneered at me again then said, “If you are right we had better make sure no one leaves.” Then he told everyone they had to stay on for a while.

I watched for a reaction. I spotted two. One came from Tammy Lowen, which I expected.

Makan went around the room interviewing the Debunkers, including Tammy in the group, then the La Florins and Steven Rilley. I could see in his eyes that he wasn’t particularly interested in their statement, but in the way they acted and the look in their eyes. Mostly he just listened and nodded and sort of kept notes.

After, he sent one of the uniforms back to town with some task. It was an easy guess what that was all about. Makan wanted info on Tammy’s brother but did not want anyone wandering off before he could ‘run the killer to ground’ he would say.

I spent the next two hours getting my story ready for the next issue of the Twin Bluffs Harbour Mirror and waiting for the last chapter. I could see in MaKan’s eyes he already had it wrapped up in his mind, at least he was sure he did. I can say now that he was close, though it took a couple of side steps to get it dead on. That, and a good bit of last minute physical exertion. I always wonder why creeps run when there’s no where to run. But they do and in the end, well, it all goes to rot anyway, for them.

Chapter Twelve


Sometimes you bake a cake and it comes out perfect, but to make it complete you need icing. Sometimes a cop gets a case all lined up for an arrest, but it needs its own kind of icing to make it complete.

Tammy Lowen sat at the dining room table looking about as scared as a rabbit trapped by a coyote, which made some sense, but it was interesting to ponder what exactly she was scared over. I decided to confront her again only this time with Sergeant Makan on hand.

“Tammy. Do you know where your brother is?

Her face paled seven shades whiter than white and she shivered, then she started to laugh. It was one of those maniacal things that come when we lose control and we have evil in our hearts.

Still, she denied she knew where Jaden was, but the truth bled out her eyes like liquid knowledge. Tears of uncontrollable hysteria.

Makan grimaced and said, “He is here. Jaden Rilley is here.”

“If he is he’s been here for days, maybe longer.” I added in.

Tammy Lowen. Tell the truth. Is your brother her.

Tammy jumped out of her chair and ran straight out the front door. Makan followed her and I was right behind him.

“Why the hell do they always run?” Makan bellowed.

“Why would she run?” I panted.

“Because she is going to try and warn her brother. I think she has been in on it all the time.” Makan replied.

“How could you know that” I demanded.

“I’ll explain later.” Makan replied then skidded to a halt when Steven Rilley stepped out in front of him suddenly. “There is no need to run Sergeant Makan. I think I know where Tammy is going.” He announced.

“Good. Where?”

“I’ll take you there. You would never find it even if I told you where it is.” Steven replied then turned and led the way.

“No one has been down this way in years, but there is an old hunter’s cabin that is still in pretty good shape. Too good I think. I was there last year, and it looked like someone was fixing it up.”

“Jeez Makan. This sounds like some one was planning all this for a while.” I suggested.

He said, “Do you think?”

She screamed. Tammy screamed. “Run.”

Steven started to run ahead of us. I could hear MaKan’s labored breath, and my own lings were screaming for mercy.

Finally, we came to a clearing. In it was a small log cabin and Tammy was standing in the doorway. Behind her was a brute of a man holding a shot gun aimed in our direction. Then suddenly the brute wrapped his arm around his sister’s neck.

“Jaden. What are you doing.” She cried out.

“Shut up.” Jaden Rilley demanded then cried out, “Go back. Go away or I will kill her.”

“No. Jaden. You can’t. I have helped you all along.” Tammy pleaded.

“Only because you want the inheritance to.” Jaden replied viciously.

“For us Jaden. We deserve it as much as any of them.”

“Put the gun down,” MaKan ordered. I don’t remember ever seeing him draw his weapon before, but he had it out this time.

“You drop your gun Pig.” Jaden Rilley shot back.

At that moment it was evident that things were not going to go well and that someone else was going to get killed.

MaKan Holstered his weapon. “OK.” Just let your sister go. No one needs to die.” He said with practiced calm.

“Dad. It’s over. Let aunt Tammy go. You can’t win this.” Steven’s voice came from inside the cabin, behind Jaden and Tammy. I distracted Jaden just long enough for Tammy to jerk out of his grip and run.

The shotgun blasted but the slug slammed into a tree. MaKan pulled his service pistol and ordered Jaden to drop the gun again. At the same time, Steven came up close behind his father, reached around and grabbed the shotgun.

We thought it was over but suddenly Steven turned the shotgun on his father. “You killed everyone I loved.” He cried and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. The second shot in the gun was a dud.

Steven threw the weapon away and attacked Jaden and with all his might started beating him and maybe it would have been to the death but Makan and I moved in and broke it up.

I lingered before my laptop, at a small round table, gazing out the window of my room in the Blackthorn B&B, out over the dimly misted sunlit street of the ghostly remains of Blackthorn Hollows, wondering if the thrill of horrors that befell this quiet overgrown hamlet would ever leave my mind or if the icy chill would melt from my veins. At that moment I thought not, but too, I lent my focus to getting the story down before it faded, and my internal censor washed it clean of its reality.

Off the highway that was once called Kings Highway 68, and along a side road to the west you will come to a sign pointing north that reads, Blackthorn Hollows B&B. The worn, rough drive that runs nearly two kilometers into the woods takes you to Blackthorn Hollows where it is rumored that ghost haunts its derelict street and broken down houses, but the B&B thrives with tales of murder and mayhem, Come If You Dare.

Last I heard Jaden Rilley was sent to prison for life and his sister Tammy received ten years for conspiring to commit murder. Steven Rilley and Mr. and Mrs. La Florin inherited the Inn and fixed up the road and bridge so that it won’t wash out again. And, finally, I have heard there are some new ghosts wandering about the Inn looking for someone to scare.

The End

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