Ghost stories from hell, p.17

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 17


Ghost Stories from Hell

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  “Where the hell did he go?” Brian said again, and the dog let out a long howl.

  Chapter 7: At Alderman Nadeau’s House

  Jim stood with Brian and Travis Hope, the fire inspector out of Nashua. It had taken fire crews from Monson, Thorne, Hollis, Nashua, and the Pepperell, Massachusetts to get the blaze under control.

  “The fire started in the kitchen,” Travis said, smoking a cigarette and looking at the remnants of the house. A few crews worked around the house, picking apart anything that looked like it might spark and jump to the dry woods around the property. The coroner’s van was already gone, taking the body of Alderman Emil Nadeau away.

  “How?” Jim asked.

  “With the Alderman,” Travis said.

  “I didn’t think he smoked,” Brian said.

  “He didn’t,” Travis answered, taking a long drag off of his cigarette. “The medical examiner will have to confirm, but it looked like somebody stuffed a hand-towel down his throat and lit the goddamn man on fire.”

  “Jesus Christ,” Brian muttered, looking away.

  “Whoever it was had all the burners on as well. Whoever had the Alderman try and eat the towel also threw the morning paper on the stove. Really set it all going. Place burned quickly, though,” Travis added. “Real quickly.”

  The fire inspector finished his cigarette, put it out, and flicked the butt towards the charred house. “I’ve got to write this up. See you at the next one, boys.”

  Jim and Brian watched him go.

  “You ready to go?” Brian asked.

  “Give me a minute, will you?” Jim asked. Brian nodded, and Jim walked up to the house. He looked at the remnants of the house.

  Something was going on, and Jim wasn’t quite sure what.

  Hollis knows, Jim thought. Hollis knows.

  Jim turned and walked back to Brian. “I’m ready.”

  Together they got into Brian’s cruiser, and Brian turned off the lights before maneuvering the car around the Thorne fire truck, the only one which remained at the scene.

  “Hell of a way to spend your day off,” Brian said after a few minutes.

  “Well,” Jim said, looking out the window, “I don’t have much else to do.”

  “You need a hobby.”

  “I had a wife,” Jim answered.

  Brian chuckled. “They may feel like the same some days, Jim, but you know that they’re not.”

  “I know.”

  “Where are you headed to after we get back to the station?” Brian asked.

  Jim shrugged. “I’m not sure. I’ll figure it out, though.”

  A few more minutes passed by before they were back in Monson and Brian was pulling into an angled parking space in front of the station. They both climbed out, and Jim gave his friend a wave goodbye before walking half a block down Main Street to where his Dodge was parked in front of the diner.

  Jim opened the door and got into the cab and sat there for a moment before buckling his seatbelt. He rubbed at his chin and looked out the windshield at nothing in particular.

  Yesterday afternoon a man was buried alive at a worksite by the supposed ghost of a little boy.

  Today a man was burned to death in a house fire. Jim had seen an older man, who was nearly blind, vanish as the boy had from the night before.

  And the man had known Jim’s name.

  Someone had told Hollis Blood about Jim.

  There was a connection, somewhere, between the murder at the worksite, the death of Emil Nadeau and Hollis Blood.

  Jim started the truck’s engines, checked his mirrors and pulled out onto Main Street.

  He needed to find out what the connection was.

  Chapter 8: The Thorne Historical Society

  Jim rang the bell at the small white Victorian that served as the town of Thorne’s historical society.

  A few moments later, he heard the sound of someone’s feet on stairs and then the door was being opened by a middle-aged woman. She had mousy brown hair pulled back into a bun and a pair of reading glasses. She looked over the tops of the glasses at him. “May I help you?”

  “Yes please,” Jim said. “I was wondering if you could help me with some research on the Blood family.”

  Her eyes widened a little. “Has something happened to Mr. Blood?”

  “To Hollis?” Jim asked. “Oh no. I spoke with him, and I’m just curious about his family’s history in Thorne.”

  “He let you call him Hollis?” she asked in a low voice.

  “He did.”

  She smiled. “Come in, come in. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to grill you on the doorstep like that. There’s simply been so much going on with the Blood lands these past few weeks.”

  Jim stepped in and waited until she closed the door. “Do you mind if I ask what’s going on with the Blood lands?”

  “You’re not from Thorne?” she asked, leading him along a narrow hallway to a large room off to the right.

  “No,” Jim answered. “I’m a State Trooper, and I spoke with Hollis the other night and he was telling me that his family had been in Thorne for a long time.”

  The woman laughed pleasantly. “That’s an understatement. Thorne is named after Hawthorne Blood, who originally was granted the land for extraordinary service in the French and Indian War. He eventually sold off small lots, or rather they were small when New Hampshire was still young, and eventually he incorporated a town. He made a contract with the other residents when he did, though. Hawthorne Blood told them the town would be theirs so long as the Blood lands were left alone.

  “No one knew why, mind you,” the woman said, gesturing to a small, Victorian loveseat in the room. The piece of furniture was set just beneath a large window, and Jim settled comfortably in it. “The land which Hawthorne Blood set aside for his own was not the finest by far. In fact, most of the land is unplowable, riddled with small streams as well as Hassell Brook, which tends to jump its bed every decade or so. No,” she said, shaking her head, “it’s one of those mysteries that New England towns thrive upon.

  “Rumors sprang up, of course,” she continued as she walked to an old wooden filing cabinet.

  “Rumors of what?” Jim asked.

  “Treasure stolen from the French. Treasure stolen from the British during the Revolution. Treasure stolen from the Confederates during the Civil War,” she pulled a drawer open and glanced over at him, smiling. “Do you get the gist of it all?”

  Jim nodded, smiling. “I do.”

  “I actually have a copy of the contract here as it was drawn up,” the woman continued. “The original is at town hall, of course.”

  “Of course,” Jim grinned. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but I didn’t get your name.”

  “Groff,” the woman said, pulling a file out of the drawer. “Janine Groff.” Closing the door, she walked over to Jim and handed him the file. After he had taken it, she went and sat in a high-backed chair standing by the room’s door.

  “A pleasure, Janine,” Jim said, opening the file. “Is this a full-time job for you?”

  “It is, but it’s unpaid,” she said.

  “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, looking up at her. “You’re extremely knowledgeable about this.”

  “Well thank you,” Janine said, smiling proudly. “I’m a trained archivist, but my husband decided that he didn’t want to live in the city, well, in Boston anymore. We moved up here to Thorne, and he works at home, telecommuting. The historical society was looking for help and, well,” she laughed, “this also keeps us out of each other’s hair.”

  Jim nodded. “That’s completely understandable.” He glanced down at the open folder and saw that there were two sets of pages within. One was a photocopy of an old document. The words were cut off on the bottom but continued on the following page. The other set of pages was typed out and looked to be a readable copy of the contract.

  Taking the typed pages out, Jim closed the file and set it beside him on the loveseat.

Be it known that on this Day, the Twenty Third of July, in the Year 1778, the Towne of Thorne in the Free Colony of New Hampshire and Hawthorne Blood enter into this Contract.

  “Hawthorne Blood, the Founder of the Town of Thorne, wishes it to be known that all of His Property, extending from the Border of Monson to the Border of Hollis, and down to the Border of Pepperell in the Free Colony of Massachusetts, shall be given to the Towne of Thorne and the Residents therein for the profit and wellbeing of the Community.

  “The only Land which the Towne of Thorne shall not dispose of shall be that which currently surrounds the Blood House. This Land shall consist of Four Hundred Acres and the Measurements of the Land shall begin at one hundreds of Rods from the Front Door of the Blood House and two hundreds of Rods on either side of the Blood House. The remainder of the Acres shall continue to the North East until the border of Cannae. These Acres shall forever be the Property of the Blood Family.

  “They shall forever be the Property of the Blood Family, and if the Blood Family shall be no more than the Last Will and Testament of the Last Blood shall inform the Town of what is to be done.

  “This Contract is never to be Violated, never to be Discarded. The Towne of Thorne with this signing agrees to this and knows that It shall suffer the Wrath of all of the Bloods in Thorne should the Contract be Broken.”

  Below this text, Jim saw the typed names of those who had signed and agreed to the contract.

  Hawthorne Blood, Malachi Coffin, Jebediah Coffin, Alpheus Hall, Richard Arnold, Elbridge Copp, and Harold Lee.

  Jim looked up at Janine. She smiled at him, and he returned the smile. “Four hundred acres?”

  She nodded. “He was, for that time, keeping an extremely small amount for his family. The other signers were said to have known this, and thus readily agreed to it, and, as you can see, for over two hundred years the town has held to that contract.”

  “It changed?” Jim asked.

  “Just last week,” Janine said.

  “How so?”

  “The board of Aldermen voted to take some of the Blood land through eminent domain after Hollis refused to sell.”

  “Why would they do that?” Jim asked.

  “They’re widening Blood Road, and they’re going to erect two private developments—one on either side of the Blood House and well into the Blood land,” Janine answered. “Hollis is fighting it, of course, but a state judge has decided that the clearing of the land can continue before the appeal is heard.”

  “So they broke the contract,” Jim said softly.

  Janine nodded. “And Hollis Blood was none too happy about it.”

  “No,” Jim said, looking down at the contract, “no I don’t suppose that any of them were.”

  Chapter 9: Alderman Williams Working Late

  Dean Williams logged out of his Ashley Madison account, shut down the incognito window, and powered down his laptop. With that done, he unplugged it and put everything away.

  Dean had been carrying on a series of affairs for over twenty years, all whilst being married, and he had been able to do that by being careful. He put that concept into practice when it came to his legal practice and his investment methods. He wasn’t a rich man, but he was a happy one, with a happy wife who had never suspected that her husband had ever strayed.

  Or that he continued to stray.

  Dean put that out of his mind—another trick to keeping the various aspects of his life separated—and stood up, stretching slightly. It was after eleven o’clock, and the crickets were singing loudly in the darkness. Smiling, Dean walked out of his office and up the stairs to the bedroom.

  The light on his side of the king-size mattress cast a soft glow about the room. He started to unbutton his dress shirt when he realized that Lydia was sitting up at her vanity.

  “Lydia?” he asked, turning to face her, and when he did he saw that the woman at the vanity wasn’t his wife. His wife lay peacefully asleep on her side of the bed, a Danielle Steel novel open, spine up.

  The woman at the vanity was much younger than his wife, perhaps no more than twenty, and she wore a nightgown that Lydia would have referred to as matronly. The woman was pale, her face narrow and had most of her deep brown hair tucked up beneath an old-fashioned nightcap.

  Dean slipped his hand into his pants for his phone, and then he remembered that it was still in the kitchen on a charger. His gun safe was under his side of the bed and the only other phone was Lydia’s, which more than likely had no charge, or was buried in her purse—or both.

  “Who are you?” Dean asked softly.

  “My name is Elizabeth Blood,” the woman said, and her voice was cold and harsh.

  Dean bristled at the name. “Blood? Did Hollis Blood send you in here to harass me about the developments?”

  “No,” Elizabeth answered. “You did.”


  “You did,” she repeated. “You broke the contract.”

  Dean frowned, trying to figure out what the hell she was saying and then said, “That contract doesn’t have any bearing on the eminent domain issue. Hollis was offered fair market value, and he refused.”

  “Of course he did,” Elizabeth said, hate filling her eyes. “He was trying to save you. All of you. That’s all any of us have ever done, and this is the repayment.”

  “You need to leave my house,” Dean said, thinking, She’s crazy.

  From the folds of her nightgown, she lifted her hands. She was holding his .22 caliber target pistol. Even from where Dean stood he could see the rounds in the cylinder. The safety was off, and her hands were steady.

  “On your knees,” Elizabeth said simply.

  Dean froze. “Please,” he said, swallowing nervously, “the decision is out of my hands now.”

  “On your knees,” Elizabeth repeated.

  Shaking, Dean did so, looking at the woman as she stood up. “I didn’t—”

  She cocked the hammer back, and he went silent, staring at the small, deadly hole in the pistol’s barrel. Elizabeth took a step towards him, and he closed his eyes.

  The pistol barked, and something thumped softly to the floor, the sound nearly drowned out by Dean’s own frightened yell.

  When he didn’t feel any pain, though, he opened his eyes carefully.

  Elizabeth was standing in the same spot. Lydia’s book was on the floor, and there was a tiny, neat hole in the side of Lydia’s head. A trickle of blood seeped out, tracing the curve of his wife’s cheek, gravity pulling the blood down to where it would stain the soft white sheets.

  “Lydia?” Dean asked softly.

  And then Elizabeth was beside him, the hot barrel of the pistol against his temple, the sound of the weapon being cocked loud in his ears.

  Chapter 10: Mike Pinkham and the Mechanic

  Damn cold out, Mike bitched to himself. He stamped his feet and clapped his gloved hands together. Way too cold this early in the season, he thought.

  He walked through the beams of his truck’s headlights to the generator and started it up again. The security guard they’d hired since Tom’s death had disappeared in the night. Mike was pretty sure the son of a bitch had gone off and gotten drunk somewhere. The guy’s car wasn’t even in the yard.

  Of course, considering the condition of the guy’s Camry he’d have to be drunk to get in it willingly.

  Mike stepped back, blinking as the worklights exploded into life. A moment later, the yard and all of the equipment was in sharp definition and—

  Mike stopped. He shook his head and tried to figure out what it was that he was seeing.

  A moment later, he realized that someone had taken the dozer and driven it over the security guard’s Camry. Mike realized, too, that the man’s arm was hanging out of the driver’s side window, at least what was left of it.

  “These new machines are impressive,” a voice said behind Mike.

  He jerked around and saw a tall, thick man standing with his arms crossed over a broad chest.

bsp; “I was surprised,” the man continued, “that it could climb up that auto like that.”

  “You did that?” Mike asked softly. “You, you drove over that guy?”

  The man nodded. “Squealed just like a suckling, too. No shame in it, though,” the man said after a moment. “No shame in it at all. Terrible way to die.”

  Mike blinked, confused. “Why?”

  “Why did I kill him?” the man asked.

  Mike nodded.

  “He was here,” the man said simply. “He shouldn’t have been.”

  Mike looked back at the arm.

  “Why?” he asked.

  The man smiled. “This is Blood land that you’re on,” the man said, “and you don’t have the right to be here. None of us have given you approval. Hollis fought it for as long as he could. Now though, now you’ve left us no choice,” the man said, his smile fading away. “Now we have to make sure that you don’t come any further onto the land.”

  “Hell,” Mike said, “I’ll just get in my truck and go. I’ve no cause to be here. I don’t even live in Thorne, man. I live down in Hudson.”

  “It matters not,” the man said simply. “You’re a warning now. A lesson to be learned.” The man snapped his fingers, and the excavator roared into life, thick white diesel exhaust belching into the early morning sky.

  Mike turned and looked at the excavator, the machine’s giant boom unfolding and stretching out, the bucket swinging out and pulling in.

  “When I used to work on autos, and the big caterpillars,” the man said, smiling at the machine, “I never thought that I would see something as grand as this.”

  Mike was only half listening. He was watching the bucket at the end of the boom, the hydraulic lines shifting slightly in their harnesses as the machine worked hard in the cold.

  “They really are impressive,” the man said again. “And they listen so well.”

  Mike silently watched the boom rise up, the bucket curl in, and then it came crashing down towards him.

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