Haunted collection box s.., p.1

Haunted Collection Box Set, page 1

 part  #1 of  Haunted Collection Series


Haunted Collection Box Set

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Haunted Collection Box Set

  Haunted Collection Series

  Books 1 - 3

  Written by Ron Ripley

  Edited by Emma Salam

  Copyright © 2018 by ScareStreet.com

  All rights reserved.

  Thank You and Bonus Novel!

  I’d like to take a moment to thank you for your ongoing support. You make this all possible! To really show you my appreciation for downloading this book, I’ve included a bonus scene at the end of each book. I’d also love to send you a full-length horror novel in 3 formats (MOBI, EPUB and PDF) absolutely free!

  Download your full-length horror novel, get free short stories, and receive future discounts by visiting www.ScareStreet.com/RonRipley

  See you in the shadows,

  Ron Ripley

  Table of Contents

  Collecting Death (Book 1)

  Walter’s Rifle (Book 2)

  Blood in the Mirror (Book 3)

  FREE Bonus Novel!

  Collecting Death

  Haunted Collection Series Book 1

  Chapter 1: Going Home

  Stefan pulled into the driveway and switched off the ignition. He picked up his laptop and phone before he exited the car, stepping out into the cool autumn air. His nose wrinkled at the smell of Fall while he squinted his eyes against the late afternoon sunlight. Hatred burned within him as he sat in the car. Memories he had long suppressed flooded back unbidden. His skin stung from recalled beatings; bones ached from the same. Old injuries, long since healed, flared up again. His stomach growled as he recalled the many nights he had gone to sleep hungry, and the mornings he had woken up still famished.

  All of it in the name of his parents’ obsession with the dead. Years of abuse and neglect, a cultivation of hatred that had mingled and become dependent upon the devotion and love he had felt for his mother and father.

  Finally, knowing he had no choice, Stefan fixed his attention on the house where he had grown up.

  It looked no better or worse than the last time he had seen it, which was two years earlier. The clapboard sides were gray and in dire need of a good scraping before a fresh coat of paint could be applied. The windows had a thick film of dust and dirt upon them, old and tattered curtains hung behind the glass, hiding his mother’s hoard. Dull gray shutters, which had once been black, hung haphazardly around the windows. The crossbeams of the porch sagged, and the asphalt roof shingles curled up on the corners.

  Each step leading up to the wide planked porch appeared as though it might collapse at any moment. Grass had gone to seed a decade earlier, hiding the rotten wooden support posts. Bits of trash littered the narrow front yard. A tattered red and white Target bag fluttered from where it was tangled in the branches of an over grown Rose of Sharon.

  Stefan took one final look, shrugged, and then followed the faint outline of the walkway to the front steps. He climbed them casually, unconcerned with the possibility of falling through. Those in the house, he knew, wouldn’t let him come to harm.

  Others, but not him.

  Not Nicole’s son.

  When he reached the front door, he kicked aside the mildewed pile of mail that spread from the threshold toward the steps. The metal of the doorknob was cold against his flesh, and as he grabbed hold of it, he heard the deadbolt click. With a twist and a push, he let himself into the house.

  The air stank of filth, violence, and death. Each smell clawed at his nose, tried to push its way into him and command his attention.

  Stefan closed his eyes and listened.

  In the kitchen, he heard dishes rattle. Something was knocked over in the basement, the bang reverberating through the lower level. Laughter echoed out of the floor vents, and unknown creatures sprinted in the upper hall. A heavy weight pressed in around him, pushed down on him, and tried to bow his shoulders and force his chin to his chest.

  “Enough,” he muttered in disgust, and the entire house became still.

  He walked into the dining room, the one section of the house he knew would be at least somewhat free of clutter, and went to his mother’s chair.

  According to the report filed by the police, it was in her chair that Nicole Korzh had been found. Dead of a heart attack at the age of seventy-nine.

  Stefan sat down, took out his laptop, and set it up. He turned on the mobile hotspot from his phone and connected to the online world. His eyes darted around the table and noticed a small, windup German toy bear.

  Stefan smiled, logged onto Etsy, and created a user account and profile. When he finished, he snapped a picture of the bear and loaded it onto his computer. Within several minutes, he was preparing the bear for sale.

  Haunted German Windup Bear, Stefan typed in. Extremely Active!

  And the bear glared at Stefan, angry at the prospect of being sold.

  Chapter 2: At Logan Airport

  Victor stood at the carriage carousel, sleep pulling at his eyes. He watched the conveyer move in its sluggish pattern, trying to spot his black, battered suitcase. It came around a moment later, squeezed between a pair of cherry red hard-cases. Victor waited until a young woman moved forward and snatched up the cases, using her shoulder to keep her phone pressed to her ear. Once she had passed him, complaining about the way her non-chip fingernails had chipped, he slipped forward, took hold of his suitcase and got away as quickly as he could.

  Even at one in the morning, Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts was busy. People met friends and family while others ran for connecting flights.

  Victor was happy to be back in New England, looking forward to catching the subway to South Station, and from there to home.

  The idea of home, located in Pepperell, Massachusetts, brought a smile to his face.

  He pulled his phone from his pocket and checked it again.

  Erin still hadn’t responded to his texts, which wasn’t like her. His wife seemed to live with the phone attached to her hand, especially when he had to travel.

  A sense of worry rose up in the back of his mind, and he tried to push it away. She was far from a shrinking violet when it came to life in general, and he personally had taught her how to use a pistol. Her skills with a firearm, plus their home security system and the dog created an almost iron-clad fortress in and around the house.

  But it still bothered him that she hadn’t texted him back.

  Victor stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts in the airport, purchased a coffee with cream and sugar, and stepped off to one side. He caught a glance of his own reflection and groaned. The trip down to Texas had been of the whirlwind variety. There was little sleep and too much debate with his fellow historians. All of it showed on his thin face. He had a two-day growth of stubble that highlighted his pinched cheeks and eyes sunk deep into their sockets from an inability to rest on airplanes. His short hair was a mess and he looked more like he had woken up in a gutter than someone who had just spoken at a symposium.

  Victor looked away, shook his head, and scrolled through the messages, searching for the last one she had sent him.

  It had come Friday morning before he spoke to some of the other attendees about veterans and self-medication.

  Her message had been filled with emoticons and exclamation points.

  IT’S HERE!!!

  The message had been about a toy. A haunted stuffed animal she was buying off Etsy. He shook his head at the thought, wondering how much she had spent on the damned ghost-infected toy. The idea of having a haunted item in the house was unsettling, and he had talked with her about it before. Erin had been adamant that she would research how to care for it and keep the ghost happy.

  But then his worry returned as he realized he hadn’t heard from her since.

  He had known she had a rotation in the emergen
cy room at Lowell General Hospital, and he had assumed she had been busy.

  Now he wondered if he had been wrong.

  What if someone had delivered the toy, instead of shipped it to her?

  There were stories in the news all the time about someone agreeing to have a stranger come to their house to finalize some online purchase. Victor didn’t think Erin would be stupid enough to do so, but if she were tired, she might.

  He shook his head, opened the lid of the coffee, and sent her a quick text.

  Hey, Sweetheart, I’m in Logan. Should be home in about two hours.

  She responded almost immediately.

  Who is this?

  Victor frowned, texting back, What do you mean by that? It’s me. Who else would it be?

  The phone rang a heartbeat later, a number Victor didn’t recognize. He hesitated, but answered.

  “Hello?” he asked.

  “Victor Daniels?” a man asked.


  “This is Detective Conrad Patrician,” the man said, “are you still at Logan Airport?”

  “Um, yeah,” Victor said, looking around, the world pressing down on him suddenly.

  “Are you with anyone?”

  Victor shook his head, then said, “No. I’m alone. I just got back from San Antonio.”

  “I want you to do me a favor,” the detective said, “tell me where you are, and then sit down, okay?”

  “What’s going on?” Victor asked, panic welling up within him. “Did something happen to Erin? Is she okay?”

  “Where are you right now in the airport?” the detective asked. “Tell me, Victor.”

  “By Dunkins,” Victor answered, not sure what else to do.

  “Sit down and wait there,” Patrician ordered.

  “Wait for what?” Victor asked, looking around him, the world spinning. “What in God’s name am I waiting for?”

  “The police,” the detective said, sympathy thick in his voice.

  “Why?” Victor demanded, his voice getting higher.

  Before Patrician could answer, Victor saw a pair of officers hurrying towards him. They were young men, their faces mimicking the sympathy he had heard in the detective’s voice.

  “Mr. Daniels?” one of the officers asked, taking him by the elbow. His partner deftly removed the coffee from the other hand.

  “Yes,” Victor answered, nodding, confused, “I’m Victor Daniels.”

  The man who had taken the coffee did the same to the phone.

  “Mr. Daniels,” the officer who had hold of his elbow, said, “I need you to come with us. We have a safe place for you.”

  “What’s going on?” Victor whispered, his stomach churning.

  “Please,” he begged, “please tell me my wife’s okay.”

  The officers looked away, and one of them said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Daniels. I can’t.”

  Victor collapsed to his knees, his grief a deep, guttural howl that filled the air until paramedics came and sedated him. Before darkness claimed him, Victor lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling, praying for the nightmare to end, knowing that it wouldn’t.

  Chapter 3: A Trip to the Post Office

  They had awoken him a little before dawn and Stefan was not in a forgiving mood. He stormed out of the bedroom, shrugging into his robe as he came to a stop in the hallway. Toys and dolls, books and tools, cooking utensils and bits of clothing filled the bookcases that lined the hall.

  As Stefan glared at the items, the entire house grew still.

  “I want to sleep,” he snarled, glaring at each side, “and if you don’t let me sleep, you are going to regret it. You think Nicole was difficult? She liked you. I don’t. I’ll ship you off to a damned monastery. Hell, I’ll seal you in a god-damned lead box and drop you over Niagara Falls. See what the hell happens then, huh?”

  None of them replied to him.

  He muttered a few curses and stalked back to his bedroom. Stefan flopped down onto his bed, stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, and swore. He knew he wouldn’t fall back asleep. Anger flared up as he got out of the bed, slammed drawers around as he looked for clothes he hadn’t worn in years, and got dressed.

  Whispers and hisses filled the air around him as he stomped his way down the stairs to the first floor. In the kitchen, he poured himself a glass of water, got some bread and cheese, and went to the dining room. He powered up the laptop, turned on his phone and ate his breakfast. His bad mood dissipated as he saw a few more people had requested to purchase some of his items. Leaning over, he looked at the list of known collectors and their online aliases. Stefan had paid good money for the information. He wanted to be certain that his mother’s possessed items would cause as much damage as possible to amateurs.

  Stefan had taken decades to plan his revenge on his parents and he had no intention of failing because he had neglected to gather the appropriate intelligence. Both she and his father had expected – and near the end of her life had demanded – that Stefan take the necessary steps to ensure the continuity and protection of her collection. His dissemination of her prized possessions would not only wreak havoc on the amateurs of the collecting world, but it would shatter her dreams for the pieces as well.

  Stefan settled back into the chair, finished the cheese, and wiped his mouth with an old cloth napkin. He checked on a few other items, and answered several emails. By the time those were taken care of, the sun had finished its ascent over the horizon. Stefan stood up, gathered the items that had been sold, and sealed the boxes. With neat, precise penmanship, he wrote out the addresses on the cardboard and placed fictional return addresses and names in the upper left corners.

  He picked up his water and walked to the fireplace. Above the dark wood mantle, where his mother’s favorite gold-framed mirror had hung, Stefan had placed a map of the tri-state area. Small, red tipped pins marked the post offices in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that could be found within one hundred and twenty miles of his mother’s house. Stefan studied the map for a moment, then decided upon the town of Uncasville, Connecticut.

  The drive would take thirty minutes, give or take, depending on traffic, which meant Stefan had some time to wait. He finished his water, brought his dishes into the kitchen, and went into the room that had served as his father’s office. It was dusty and neglected. Stefan knew his mother hadn’t entered the room since his father’s death.

  And that had been in 1981.

  His father, like his mother, had collected haunted items. Yet his father’s were far darker, their pasts more sinister than most of his mother’s stuff. These items, twenty-three of them, stood in a curio cabinet. Ivory cards, containing the provenance of each piece and written in his father’s neat script, stood to the right of each item.

  The room needed a thorough cleaning, but Stefan wasn’t sure if the items would let him. They, he knew, wouldn’t listen to him because he was Ivan Korzh’s son. No, Stefan would have to earn that right.

  He took several steps forward, reached out to touch his father’s desk, and jerked his hand back with a yell of shock and pain.

  Something cold and sharp had stabbed him, and when he looked at his hand, he found a small, but painful red mark that looked like a five-pointed star on his palm. He flexed his hand nervously, faced the curio cabinet, and gave a short bow.

  He backed out of the room, closed the door, and locked it from the outside. Both the door and the threshold, like the window and the sill, were laced with salt and iron. Protective measures put in place by his father on the off chance that the dead might try and slip into the house.

  Stefan took a shuddering breath, cleared his throat, and returned to the dining room. He gathered up the prepared packages and brought them out to his car. A glance at the sky showed a bank of dark gray storm clouds. They raced across the horizon, spreading out and threatening rain, thunder, and lightning.

  Stefan closed the car door, shook his head, and went back inside for his umbrella.

  He hated
to get wet, and so did the others.

  Within a few minutes, he was back in the car and driving to Uncasville. Traffic on Interstate 395 was light, and he was there in under thirty minutes. It took him several more minutes to find the post office, but when he did, Stefan was pleased to see that there were no other cars in the parking lot.

  The rain began, small drops at first, and Stefan was able to get the umbrella open before the heavier rainfall started. He gathered the packages up in his arm, protecting them from the weather, and went into the post office.

  A bored, middle-aged man, his face pale and his gray hair limp and clinging to his skull, stood behind the counter. His clothes were a mess, and his wide face was unshaven. There were bags under the man’s eyes, and he looked as if he had rolled out of a bar rather than a bed.

  Stefan walked up to the counter and put the packages down. He was neither greeted nor acknowledged by the man, and that was fine with Stefan. The postal worker leaned over the packages, glanced at the destinations and asked in a tired voice, “Anything liquid, perishable, or dangerous?”

  “No,” Stefan replied, suppressing a smile, “nothing dangerous at all.”

  Chapter 4: Home Again

  “Mr. Daniels?”

  Victor blinked and looked around.

  A young doctor stood in the doorway. It took Victor a minute to place a name to the face.

  “Doctor Zhang,” Victor said, putting his magazine down.

  The man smiled as he walked into the room, sitting down in a chair next to Victor’s bed. Zhang nodded towards the magazine and asked, “Anything interesting?”

  Victor shrugged, listless. “I don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention to it.”

  “Well, you had it upside down,” Zhang said gently, “so I was hoping you might say that.”

  Victor nodded.

  “Do you have anyone who is going to meet you here, Victor?” the doctor asked.

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