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Hungry Ghosts 01 Hungry Ghosts, page 1

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Hungry Ghosts 01 Hungry Ghosts

  Hungry Ghosts

  Written by Ron Ripley

  Edited by Emma Salam

  Copyright © 2017 by

  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 this book. I'd also love to send you the full length novel: Sherman’s Library Trilogy in 3 formats (MOBI, EPUB and PDF) absolutely free!

  Download Sherman’s Library Trilogy in 3 formats, get FREE short stories, and receive future discounts by visiting

  Keeping it spooky,

  Ron Ripley

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1: A Night to Remember, September 5th, 1979

  Chapter 2: Happy Birthday, September 6th, 1979

  Chapter 3: Therapy, August 1st, 2016

  Chapter 4: Home on Hill Street, August 2nd, 2016

  Chapter 5: Something Feels Wrong, August 25th, 1980

  Chapter 6: Knocking on the Side Door, August 2nd, 2016

  Chapter 7: Pine Grove and the Dawn, August 3rd, 2016

  Chapter 8: Mrs. Lavoie’s House, August 3rd, 2016

  Chapter 9: In the Basement, August 3rd, 2016

  Chapter 10: News from Beyond the Grave, August 4th, 2016

  Chapter 11: Hu and Connor, August 4th, 2016

  Chapter 12: A Conversation, August 4th, 2016

  Chapter 13: The Priest, June 7th, 1979

  Chapter 14: With Hu, August 5th, 2016

  Chapter 15: Fear in His Heart, August 6th, 2016

  Chapter 16: Contemplation, August 7th, 2016

  Chapter 17: Somewhere in Connecticut, August 7th, 2016

  Chapter 18: Defending Oneself, August 8th, 2016

  Chapter 19: Alone in the House, August 8th, 2016

  Chapter 20: Magpies in the Window, August 9th, 2016

  Chapter 21: A Warning Unheeded, August 20th, 1986

  Chapter 22: An Unexpected Conversation, August 9th, 2016

  Chapter 23: The Safety of Hu’s Garden, August 9th, 2016

  Chapter 24: Pine Grove Cemetery, June 4th, 1987

  Chapter 25: The Priest Returns, August 10th, 2016

  Chapter 26: Alone in the House, August 10th, 2016

  Chapter 27: Ashland Avenue, August 10th, 2016

  Chapter 28: Pure Rage, August 10th, 2016

  Chapter 29: Seeking Help from Hu, August 11th, 2016

  Chapter 30: Henan Province, China, January 3rd, 1988

  Chapter 31: The Wrong House, August 11th, 2016

  Chapter 32: Protected but Not Safe, August 11th, 2016

  Chapter 33: An Investigation, August 12th, 2016

  Chapter 34: The Priest Decides, August 12th, 2016

  Chapter 35: Questions without Answers, August 12th, 2016

  Chapter 36: Quelling the Anger, August 12th, 2016

  Chapter 37: A Bike Ride, August 13th, 2016

  Chapter 38: The World is Too Much, August 13th, 2016

  Chapter 39: A Phone Call is Made, August 13th, 2016

  Chapter 40: A Ruckus in Pine Grove, August 14th, 2016

  Chapter 41: Investigating Pine Grove, August 14th, 2016

  Chapter 42: A Harsh Awakening, August 14th, 2016

  Chapter 43: Preparations are Made, August 15th, 2016

  Chapter 44: With Silent Fury, August 16th, 2016

  Chapter 45: Chinatown, Boston, March 10, 2011

  Chapter 46: A Lonely Vigil, August 16th, 2016

  Chapter 47: Preparations for the Conflict, August 16th, 2017

  Chapter 48: Andrew Smythe’s Grave, August 16th, 2016

  Chapter 49: In the Name of the Law, August 16th, 2016

  Chapter 50: Defending Themselves, August 16th, 2016

  Chapter 51: Explanations, August 16th, 2016

  Chapter 52: Detective Rattin and Disbelief, August 16th, 2016

  Chapter 53: A Bad Night’s Sleep, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 54: Preparing to Enter the Cemetery, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 55: The Plan Goes South, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 56: An Awakening, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 57: A New Threat, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 58: Alone with the Dead, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 59: Forced to Fight, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 60: Hu and Feng, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 61: Standing at Her Graveside, August 17th, 2016

  Chapter 62: Hu’s Garden, August 18th, 2016

  Chapter 63: Greenbriar Nursing Home, August 19th, 2016

  Bonus Scene Chapter 1: Yunnan Province, 1846

  Bonus Scene Chapter 2: Behind the Shrine, Yunnan Province, 1846

  Bonus Scene Chapter 3: At the Roadside Shrine, 1846

  Bonus Scene Chapter 4: Yunnan Province, 1847

  Bonus Scene Chapter 5: A Costly Meal

  Bonus Scene Chapter 6: A Traveler Found

  Bonus Scene Chapter 7: At the Home of Farmer Jiang

  Bonus Scene Chapter 8: A Horrific Event

  FREE Bonus Novel!

  Chapter 1: A Night to Remember, September 5th, 1979

  Connor Mann sat on his bed and looked out the window at the cemetery.

  Pale moonlight drifted down through a heavy bank of clouds to illuminate the gravestones scattered throughout Pine Grove Cemetery. The headstones, new and old, had a devilish gleam to them, as if the dead lurked in the markers rather than beneath them.

  Connor hated the cemetery, and he had for as long as he could remember.

  As he looked out through the open window and past the screen, a shape caught his eye. A small creature moved from headstone to headstone, head down, nose to the ground. Connor squinted as the animal moved into a shaft of moonlight and gasped at the sight of a silver fox.

  It took him only a moment to realize that the fox wasn’t silver, but a ghost. The light of the moon as it reflected off a tall headstone caused the curious color of the fox’s fur.

  The animal’s nose lifted, the head turned, and dark orange eyes stared at Connor.

  Horrified, Connor watched as the fox’s lips curled up to reveal long, jagged teeth. A tongue, black and worm-like, snaked out of its mouth and glided across the stretched lips.

  Connor screamed, tried to wrench the blanket over his head, and tumbled out of bed.

  In less than a minute, the light in his room snapped on, and Connor heard the gentle tread of his mother as she came to him. He wiped tears out of his eyes as she removed the blanket and helped him back into bed.

  “Connor,” she whispered, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

  Connor’s breath hitched in his throat as he tried to speak and his mother’s hand went to his back, rubbing it slowly.

  “Shh,” she said, “catch your breath and tell me.”

  Connor did as he was told, and then he reported to his mother what he had seen.

  She nodded as he spoke, pausing the back rub to tuck her long black hair behind her ears. Her thin face wore a broad smile, love and care filled her eyes.

  When Connor had finished with his story, his mother looked out the window, a frown wrinkling the smooth, pale skin of her brow.

  “I’ve asked your father to fix the shades in your room for about three years now,” she muttered. “The only thing he can be bothered to do though is get himself a pitcher of beer at the social club.”

  Connor had heard this complaint before, and he kept silent. There were many repairs and projects that needed his father’s attention. Few, if any of them, would ever
get done. His father was more concerned with beer than anything else.

  “Well,” Connor’s mother said, looking out the window, “I’m sorry you saw something frightening out there, honey. I don’t think it was a fox. You probably just saw a dog. We’re too far in the city for foxes to be popping up. Even in a cemetery as big as Pine Grove.”

  She turned to face him again.

  “Now,” she said, “here’s the deal. You go back to bed without looking out the window again, and tomorrow, as part of your birthday present, we can pick out some new curtains. Something to cover this window a little better. Deal?”

  “Deal,” Connor said, grinning as he shook his mother’s hand.

  She stood up, helped him lie back down, and covered him with the sheet and blanket. His mother leaned forward, kissed him on the forehead and said, “Now go back to sleep, my birthday boy. Just a couple more hours and it will be time to get up, and the birthday celebrations can begin!”

  Connor smiled, turned his back to the window, and watched his mother leave the room.

  She paused in the doorway, blew him a kiss, and turned out the light.

  In the darkness, Connor’s eyes grew heavy, and as he was closing them, he heard a sound, like the clicking of small claws on the asphalt. He yawned, sank deeper towards sleep, and wondered what dog was out so late at night.

  Chapter 2: Happy Birthday, September 6th, 1979

  Debra Mann left the house at a little before six in the morning, as she usually did. She liked to walk through the cemetery, enjoying the peace and quiet she could find there. The early morning strolls helped clear her mind and focus on the day ahead.

  Debra found herself relying on the walks with a greater frequency. The new manager of the Indian Head Bank was a stickler for all sorts of rules, which was a far cry from the lack of office policies of Mr. Frost, who had recently retired. Added to the stress of a new boss who was nothing like the old, was the concern over Connor’s happiness.

  A concern her husband did nothing to alleviate.

  She shoved thoughts of Cody out of her mind, focusing instead on what she had done, and what needed to be fixed.

  A twinge of guilt rose up within her, but Debra smothered it as she walked into the cemetery. Less than a month earlier, she had begun to fret over Conner’s birthday. What little money she was able to bring in on a regular basis went to keeping the utilities on and the foreclosure notices at bay. More often than not, Cody managed to get to the social club and drink his earnings away.

  When it came to a choice between a beer and anything else in the world, the beer always won out where Cody was concerned.

  Then Mr. Frost had announced his retirement, and the following morning, when Debra was in the cemetery, she had an idea. She could borrow some money from the bank, buy Connor that new BMX bicycle he had been so excited about, and then slip the money back in once she got paid.

  Because Debra was going to have to steal the money to get Conner his birthday present.

  And the strangest part about it was that the idea didn’t seem to be her own. It was almost as though a voice had whispered it into her ear when she walked through the cemetery. She had been a conscientious and dedicated employee of Indian Head bank for almost ten years, and she had never once thought of taking even a penny from them.

  But she knew she had to.

  Connor needed his present.

  All boys need a bike.

  Debra smiled, thinking about the new bicycle, hidden away in its box in the basement.

  She put her hands in her pockets and followed the asphalt road in the cemetery towards the newer headstones. Her favorite place to walk, and where the idea to borrow the money had first sprung up.


  The loud, abrasive sound of his father snoring woke Connor up, as it did on most days. Connor rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, yawned a few times and cast off his blanket. As he became fully awake, he smiled.

  He bounced as he walked around his room, pulling on his clothes before going into the hall. His footsteps became lighter, his mood more sedate, as he approached his father’s bedroom.

  Connor didn’t try to wake the man up. By the heavy, onerous tone of his father’s snores, Connor knew that he had gotten far drunker than usual the night before.

  Waking his father up for something as small as Connor’s birthday would earn him a beating. One his mother wouldn’t be able to protect him from.

  Connor stopped outside of the bedroom, reached out and took hold of the brass doorknob. Without a word, he eased the door closed and made sure that even the latch was silent as it settled into place.

  With his father secured behind the thin, plywood door, Connor picked his way carefully down the hall and descended in the same manner to the first floor. He smelled coffee and toast, his mother’s usual breakfast. When he entered the kitchen, his mother wasn’t there. Instead, Connor found a card at his chair.

  To my one and only, sweet Connor, his mother had written across the envelope. He slipped his small finger in between the envelope’s flap and the rest of the paper and tore it free. From within, he took out a note.

  Happy Birthday, to my boy, Connor! I’ve gone for my morning walk, and I will be back soon. I can’t wait to show you what I have in store for your birthday, my big, seven-year-old boy!

  Holding onto the letter, Connor went to the side door and opened it. He stepped out onto the porch and looked down the driveway into the cemetery. In the early morning light, he strained his eyes to catch a glimpse of his mother. After a moment, he did so, her tall, graceful body moving in long, easy strides along the cemetery’s asphalt road.

  She made her way to the Oval, the newest portion of Pine Grove. Around the Oval were new stones. Those with polished fronts and names carved in bold letters.

  Connor walked to the edge of the porch, stood on his toes, and rested his arms on the railing. He saw his mother as she followed the curve from the left, moving towards the most recent graves.

  She glanced back at the house then, and she saw Connor. His mother raised a hand and waved, and Connor returned it.

  A moment later, the fox attacked.

  Connor didn’t see where it had come from, or what it was doing, but he could hear his mother’s screams as she fell.

  In the stillness of the morning air, Connor heard the crack of her skull against a headstone and her sudden silence. Horrified, he watched as the fox’s body pulsated, expanded, shrank, and then violently transformed into a man.

  From where he stood, Connor could see the man bend down, reach out, and thrust his hands into his mother’s head. The screams started up again, and only when the man faded from view did Connor understand that the screams he heard were his own.

  Chapter 3: Therapy, August 1st, 2016

  The curtains were raised, the light of the stars visible through the clear glass of Doctor Waltner’s windows.

  “Connor?” she said, causing him to twitch.

  He flashed a nervous smile at her and turned away from the windows.

  “How are you feeling?” the doctor asked him.

  “The same,” he answered.

  Her frown triggered anxiety, and he looked down at his hands. She cleared her throat and said, “You’ve been here a long time.”

  Her tone was ominous, and he looked at her, suddenly wary. He didn’t respond, waiting instead for her to continue.

  She adjusted her glasses and said, “It’s almost time for you to leave this facility.”

  Fear caused him to straighten up, his hands to shake, and his mouth to go dry.

  “I can’t,” he whispered. “There’s no place for me to go.”

  “You can go home,” Dr. Waltner stated.

  “My father’s there,” Connor replied.

  “And that’s why you should go. You both have some issues that need to be worked out.”

  “Why now?” Connor asked.

  She hesitated and then said, “This facility doesn’t have the ability to care for y
ou anymore.”

  “What?” Connor said, confused.

  “Your uncle passed away,” Dr. Waltner said in a harsh voice. “There are no more funds. You are fully capable of taking charge of your own life, Connor. No one else is going to do it for you anymore.”

  Connor shook his head. “I can’t go out there.”

  “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Dr. Waltner began.

  “Shut up!” Connor screamed. “You don’t know that!”

  The door to her office was thrown open, and a pair of large, well-muscled orderlies rushed in.

  Connor didn’t shrink away from them as he normally would when he had an episode.

  He jabbed an accusatory finger at her. “You. Don’t. Know. You didn’t see it. You didn’t see her die.”

  “Connor,” Dr. Waltner said with all the warmth and affection of a piece of steel, “you need to quiet yourself down. These gentlemen will not sedate you. They will not bring you back to your room. They will, in fact, restrain you and hold you until the police can come. I would hate for your first day out of this facility to be spent in jail.”

  Connor shuddered at the thought.

  His shoulders slumped, and he dropped into the chair.

  Dr. Waltner nodded to the two men, and they left, leaving the door open behind them. She turned her attention to the file, his file, on her desk.

  “You have sufficient medication to last you the next month,” she said, closing the manila folder and looking at him. “I believe your uncle prepared for you in other ways, but you will have to speak with his lawyer about that. I am not privy to the particulars of it.”

  “When do I have to leave?” Connor asked, staring at his hands.

  “That’s why I called you in here tonight,” she replied, “I am well aware of your concern about daylight. I wanted to offer you the opportunity to leave at night. This would allow you to return to your family home or some other establishment before the arrival of the sun.”

  Connor nodded. “Thank you.”

  “You’ll leave tonight then?” Dr. Waltner asked.

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