Ghost stories from hell, p.16

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 16

 

Ghost Stories from Hell
 



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  Jim leaned forward and shook the hand. It was old, and it was thin, but the hand was strong. “That’s a good New England name,” Jim said as he let go of Hollis’s hand.

  Hollis chuckled. “It is indeed. You should have been here seventy years ago, Trooper, there were still Coffins amongst the Bloods in Thorne and Monson—Halls and Copps, too. The old names. There are a few Halls about,” he continued, “but I’m the last of the Bloods here in Thorne. The Coffins have died out—the Copps too. I believe that I’m the only bench owning member still in the Congregationalist Church in town.”

  “I suppose, though,” Hollis said, “that you’re not here for a lesson in the family lines of Thorne. What can I do for you, Trooper Petrov?”

  “Well,” Jim said, “I noticed that you can see the lights down on Blood Road.”

  “I can,” Hollis said. “Do you mind if I ask what happened?”

  “Not at all,” Jim replied. “However, I really don’t know. The reason that I’m up here is that when I arrived on the scene there was a little boy, perhaps about eight years old. He slipped away into the forest, and I couldn’t follow him. I was hoping that maybe he had come up this way, perhaps to your house.”

  Hollis Blood smoked his pipe for a moment, letting out a slim stream of smoke from his nostrils before responding. “Trooper Petrov,” Hollis said carefully, “I don’t think that you’d believe me if I told you what I saw.”

  Jim smiled. “I might, sir. Could you try?”

  Hollis nodded. “I believe that you said that you saw a boy about eight years old?”

  “I did.” Jim leaned forward. Hollis’s voice had gotten a little lower.

  “I don’t suppose that this boy was pale?” Hollis asked.

  “Very,” Jim said.

  “Black hair and wearing a black suit?”

  “Yes.”

  “And the jacket, it was unsewn up the back?”

  “I thought it was torn,” Jim said. Then he looked at Hollis. “You saw him.”

  “I did.”

  “Did you see where he went?” Jim asked. “Do you know who he is?”

  “I did not see where he went,” Hollis said, “and I do know who he is.”

  Jim waited a moment for Hollis to speak and when he didn’t, Jim asked, “Will you tell me?”

  “Yes,” Hollis said, looking away. “His name is Morgan Blood.”

  Sitting back, Jim looked at Hollis. “I thought you said that you were the last.”

  “I am,” Hollis said. He folded back the quilt and stood up. “Please follow me, Trooper Petrov.”

  Jim stood and walked behind Hollis as the man led him to the front door.

  “Who is Morgan, Hollis?” Jim asked as Hollis opened the door and warm light washed over them.

  “My brother,” Hollis answered, motioning for Jim to follow him in.

  Jim stepped into a long hallway that smelled pleasantly of pipe tobacco and a well-used fireplace. Wallpaper that had probably been hanging for at least a century covered the walls and family portraits in thick frames and clear glass hung upon the walls as well.

  “Hollis,” Jim said calmly, “are you feeling alright?”

  “Quite,” Hollis answered. He put the pipe stem back into his mouth and stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned to face the left wall.

  “Hollis,” Jim said.

  Hollis let out a bit of smoke, took the pipe out of his mouth, and pointed politely at the wall. “Please,” the man said, “simply look at the photographs, Trooper Petrov.”

  Jim turned and looked at the photographs.

  He dropped his hat to the floor as he looked at the black and white photograph of the boy he had seen at the worksite. The boy was smiling at the camera—an old leather baseball glove and ball in his hands.

  “Morgan Blood,” Hollis said, putting the pipe back into his mouth. “My brother died of pneumonia when he was eight. I don’t know what he did down at the edge of the road. He told me that you were nice, Trooper Petrov and that you should be careful.”

  “Why should I be careful?” Jim asked.

  “My relations are angry,” Hollis said simply.

  “About what?” Jim asked, a sense of the surreal replacing reality.

  “Old contracts that have been broken,” Hollis said.

  “And I should be careful because of that?”

  “Yes,” Hollis said.

  “But why?” Jim asked, looking at Hollis.

  “Because,” Hollis said, returning his look evenly, “not all of my relatives will be as gentle as my brother.”

  Chapter 5: Alderman Nadeau and his morning paper

  Emil Nadeau watched the paper get delivered by a raggedy looking middle-aged man throwing The Telegraph from the driver’s side window. The man was driving on the wrong side of the street and, not surprisingly, he had Massachusetts plates.

  Frowning, Emil waited until the man had moved down to the McCalls’ house before leaving his own for the paper. The Telegraph, wrapped in a protective sleeve of orange plastic, was light, as usual. Swinging the paper from one hand, Emil looked at his rose bushes and the rose of Sharon growing along the left side of the driveway. Everything had grown in well this year in spite of Daniel moving out.

  Well, Emil thought, I’ll certainly be able to find someone to replace Daniel, even if they won’t necessarily have his green thumb.

  Their two-year relationship had ended badly, but thankfully the man hadn’t gone to the town about their living arrangements. The rest of the country might have been opening up to the idea of homosexual unions, but little towns like Thorne tended to be behind the learning curve.

  Emil put the thought out of his mind as he opened the side door and walked back into the kitchen. He closed and locked the door behind him, tossing the paper onto the table before turning to put on a fresh pot of coffee.

  He froze and stared at a tall, elderly man, whose back was to Emil. The man played quite happily with a burner on the stove. He turned the front left burner on, then off, seeming to enjoy the ticking sound of the ignition switch before the gas caught flame.

  Emil took a deep breath and tried to settle his nerves.

  The man looked at Emil, and Emil screamed.

  The man’s eyes were white as if dipped into a milky cloud. At the sound of Emil’s scream the man smiled, revealing old and yellowed teeth.

  “Sit, Alderman,” the man said, his voice thick and cold. “Sit.”

  Emil simply screamed again.

  Leaving a flame burning, the man took one long stride over to Emil, grabbed him by his throat, and thrust him into a chair.

  Emil stopped screaming and stared at the man.

  The man smiled again, let go of Emil’s throat, and sat down on the table.

  The man looked at Emil and Emil stopped screaming.

  “Very good, Alderman,” the man said. “Well done. How are you feeling?”

  Emil blinked and found that he couldn’t answer the man. He simply couldn’t.

  “Ah well,” the man sighed. “I would introduce myself, but I think that you would find little use in that. Although, I must ask you a question. Is that alright?”

  Emil stared at him.

  “Is it?”

  Finally, Emil nodded.

  “Excellent,” the man said. “Do you understand the phrase contractual obligations?”

  Emil nodded.

  “I’m surprised,” the man said coldly. He looked hard with his milky white eyes at Emil. “When the town of Thorne was signed over in seventeen seventy-seven,” the man said, “the town of Thorne agreed to honor the wishes of the Blood family should they render them assistance and protection from raiders drifting down from French Canada. My family held true to their bond.”

  The man stood, walked over to the stove, and lit another burner. With that done, he turned to face Emil. “As you can so easily testify, Alderman Nadeau,” the man sneered, “the town of Thorne did not.”

  Emil finally found his voice.<
br />
  “Who are you?” Emil demanded, his voice shaking. “How did you get into my house?”

  “You left the door open, you bumbling frog,” the old man said, turning another burner on. “And truly, do you wish to know my name?”

  “Yes,” Emil said, straightening up, “I need to know for when I have a warrant filled out for your arrest.”

  The man chuckled.

  It was a distinctly disturbing and unpleasant sound.

  “Well then, Alderman Nadeau, my name is Obadiah Blood,” the man said, turning on the last burner. All four of the burners were blazing steadily.

  “Obadiah Blood,” Emil began angrily, and then he stopped. He looked closely at the tall, old man. “Obadiah Blood,” he repeated in a low voice.

  “Indeed,” Obadiah said.

  Emil’s heart stutter-stepped and he managed to say, “You can’t be.”

  “But I am.”

  “Obadiah Blood is dead.”

  “I am,” Obadiah agreed. “In fact I have been for over a hundred years.”

  “They killed you,” Emil managed. “They killed you for murdering the migrant boys. I read that. I read that you were a murderer.”

  “Oh, yes,” Obadiah said, “I’ve killed in my day. But never boys. Always men. It was a Gauthier, in fact, who killed those boys. But they wrapped those murders around my neck and lynched me in the town center—a blind man.”

  “They said that you didn’t even defend yourself,” Emil said.

  “No,” Obadiah corrected. “I remained silent. They were in a frenzy, led by Gauthier. It was my wish that I could return and gain vengeance upon him through his relatives, but the task of their deaths has been given to another—you,” Obadiah grinned, “you, Emil Nadeau, you are my given task.” He turned away from Emil for a moment and took one of the decorative towels Emil and Daniel had purchased in York together from its place in front of the sink.

  “What are you doing?” Emil asked, standing up.

  The old man’s head snapped around, and Obadiah snarled, “Sit.”

  Something pushed Emil back into the chair with enough force to make the chair rock on its back legs. As Emil tried to regain his balance he caught sight of Obadiah holding the towel over one of the burners. It took only a moment for the cloth to catch fire.

  “What are you doing?!” Emil shouted.

  Holding the burning towel carelessly, Obadiah turned to face Emil. The old man smiled happily.

  “Did any of you bother to read the actual contract which the town agreed to?” Obadiah asked.

  Emil couldn’t answer, staring instead at the slowly burning reminder of a pleasant weekend in Maine.

  Obadiah chuckled and stepped forward.

  Emil’s happy memory was shattered. He suddenly found himself unable to breathe, Obadiah’s thick hand gripping his throat. Emil opened his mouth, gasping for air and Obadiah quickly stuffed the end of the towel into it.

  Emil gagged, the flames licking at his pajama shirt, slowly setting it alight. Emil tried to breathe, but he could only do so by inhaling as he struggled against Obadiah.

  The old man held him firmly, his strength atrocious.

  “Now, now, Alderman,” Obadiah said softly, “accept your death, as painful as it’s going to be.”

  Emil tried to scream, but he couldn’t. He felt his shirt catch fire, and his flesh started to burn. In his nose he could smell it, a stench reminiscent of a pig skin burning. Part of him recognized the fact that he was smelling his own skin burning, part of him wished that Daniel would roll over in bed and wake him from the nightmare.

  Emil wouldn’t wake up, though, for all of it was true. He was awake.

  And finally, Emil found that he could scream.

  Chapter 6: Jim Petrov at the Monson PD

  “How many months has it been since the divorce, Jim?” Brian asked, handing Jim a cup of coffee.

  “Four,” Jim answered, nodding his thanks. “Four.”

  “You know,” Brian said, sitting down on the edge of his desk, “you’re not going to find your next date in here.”

  “You never know, Brian,” Jim said, taking a sip of his coffee. “You guys just might pull in some extremely attractive DUI one day.”

  “Have you ever seen an extremely attractive DUI come through Monson?” Brian asked, chuckling. “Hell, have you seen a semi-attractive DUI ever?”

  Jim shook his head, laughing. “Now that you mention it, no. No, I have not.”

  Before Brian could say anything else, the scanner burst into life and Harry, the day dispatcher for Monson, lifted his head up from his Sudoku puzzle.

  “Monson Fire and Rescue, all hands, fire at eleven Stark Street,” an unknown dispatcher said from the State’s emergency call center.

  The emergency phone by Harry rang sharply, and the man quickly hit the answer button. “Monson Police Department, Harry speaking,” he said, typing rapidly into his computer. A second later he flashed a look at Brian that Jim had seen before. It was Harry’s ‘You Better Pay Attention’ look, and both Jim and Brian waited, listening.

  “Eleven Stark Street. Yes, we know there’s a fire...you saw someone leave the building as it was burning? What’s your address, Ma’am? Ten Stark Street? Phone number? Six Zero Three, Eight Nine One, Zero One Nine Five. Excellent, we’ll have a cruiser there in a few minutes.”

  Brian and Jim put their coffees down, Jim grabbing his jacket off of a wall peg as he hurried out the door behind Brian. He followed Brian to the man’s cruiser, got into the passenger seat, and closed the door, buckling his seatbelt.

  Jim was off duty. It was officially a day off.

  But there was a fire and a man who had walked away from the building.

  Brian threw on his lights and siren and took off for Stark Street.

  “Did you hear about last night yet?” Brian asked.

  “Thomas Pelto?”

  “Yeah.”

  “No, what?”

  “He was buried alive. I saw the initial report this morning when I came in,” Brian said. “No one can figure out how it was done. One of the crime techs is an archeology student, and he said that when they were digging Pelto out it looked like the dirt had never been disturbed by digging before.”

  “But he was alive?” Jim asked, thinking about the strange conversation he’d had with Hollis Blood the night before.

  “Yeah,” Brian nodded, turning sharply on Ridge Road. “No official cause yet, not until the autopsy is complete, but the medical examiner said that he suffocated.”

  “That’s a suck way to go,” Jim said.

  “Yup.”

  The sign for Stark Street appeared on the left and Brian turned hard onto it. Ahead of them, Monson’s pump truck and Thorne’s fire engine were already on the scene. Brian jerked the cruiser over to block most of the road, leaving room for any additional trucks that might arrive.

  Volunteer firefighters from both towns were racing up in their own vehicles as Jim and Brian climbed out of the car. People were coming out of their houses and watching as flames devoured the left side of the house, working their way up the side and into the roof.

  A blue Prius with the vanity plate ‘NADEAU’ sat in the driveway.

  “Shit,” Brian muttered. “That’s Emil Nadeau’s house.”

  Jim wracked his brain for a minute until he found the bit of information that told him that Emil Nadeau was one of Thorne’s aldermen. The man was a pain in the ass for both Thorne and Monson. He lived in Thorne but ran an insurance agency out of Monson.

  “This’ll be more than Thorne and Monson can handle,” Jim said.

  Brian only nodded. “I’ve got to speak with number ten.”

  “Want to pop the trunk?” Jim asked. “I’ll grab a vest and make sure no one gets too close.”

  “Yeah,” Brian said, leaning back into the cruiser and hitting the trunk’s button.

  As the trunk popped open, Brian walked off towards house number ten, and Jim went to the back of the car. He
pulled a neon green safety vest with reflective strips out of the back and put the vest on before closing the trunk.

  Jim walked away from the cruiser, back towards the intersection with Ridge Road.

  An older man, wearing a dark suit and an old fedora, approached Jim slowly, leaning heavily on a well-used cane. The man’s eyes, Jim saw, were milky white, and Jim wondered how the man could see at all.

  The man stopped a few feet from Jim saying, “Excuse me, but I seem to smell a fire.”

  “Yes sir,” Jim said, glancing around the man to make sure that no vehicles were coming. In the far distance, he heard the sound of more emergency vehicles approaching. Jim looked at the man. “Do you need to get to a particular house, sir?”

  “No, no,” the man replied. “Could you tell me what house it is?”

  “Number eleven, sir,” Jim answered.

  “Jim!”

  Jim turned away from the man to look back, and he saw Brian gesturing to him.

  “Thank you, Trooper Petrov,” the older man said behind Jim.

  “You’re welcome,” Jim said over his shoulder.

  Brian started jogging towards him, yelling, “Stop him!”

  The old man? Jim thought.

  And then he realized what the old man had said.

  Thank you, Trooper Petrov.

  Jim whipped around, and the older man was just disappearing around the garage of a nearby house.

  Jim ran after him, turning around the corner of the same garage and coming to a stop just in time to avoid running headlong into a tall, chain-link fence. He stood there and looked along the fence’s length, through the backyard and past the agitated German shepherd walking the perimeter with its ears back and its tail down. Jim could hear the dog’s nervous whines above the noise of more fire trucks arriving.

  In a moment, Brian was beside him, breathing heavily. “Where the hell did he go?” Brian asked.

  “I don’t know,” Jim replied, scanning the tree line, which was thin and wide. There were no trees large enough for a man to hide behind, the land itself rolling upwards slightly at a gentle grade for at least a hundred yards.

  The man should not have been able to vanish even if he was in the best of health, but he had been old and nearly blind.

 
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