Authors: Greg Herren
It seemed like a good idea at the time…
Every summer three families take a trip together—this year it’s to a remote resort in the mountains of upstate New York. Scotty, a teenager who’s just come out, is nervous about how his friends will react to him. A late night visit to an old nearby cemetery seems like a great idea to the bored teens, but the old cemetery holds dark secrets hidden for almost a century—secrets that might have been better left undisturbed.
And what originally seemed like a boring week in the mountains gradually becomes a nightmare of terror for the teens and their families…
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© 2013 By Greg Herren. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-933-6
This Electronic Book is published by
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
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Valley Falls, New York 12185
First Edition: August 2013
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Editor: Ruth Sternglantz
Production Design: Susan Ramundo
Cover Design By Sheri ([email protected])
The Scotty Bradley Adventures
Bourbon Street Blues
Jackson Square Jazz
Mardi Gras Mambo
Vieux Carré Voodoo
Who Dat Whodunnit
The Chanse MacLeod Mysteries
Murder in the Rue Dauphine
Murder in the Rue St. Ann
Murder in the Rue Chartres
Murder in the Rue Ursulines
Murder in the Garden District
Murder in the Irish Channel
Women of the Mean Streets
Men of the Mean Streets
(edited with J. M. Redmann)
In August of 2011, I attended a writer’s retreat for Bold Strokes Books authors at the Garnet Hill Lodge in upstate New York. In that serene country setting, the idea for
came to me. So, first of all, I have to thank everyone at Bold Strokes Books who worked on putting the retreat together, because there would be no book without the retreat.
I also had a wonderful time there, hanging out with and exploring the woods and going ghost hunting with what I have come to refer to as the Beaver Pond Gang: Carsen Taite, Nell Stark, Trinity Tam, Anne Laughlin, Rachel Spangler, Lisa Girolami, Karis Walsh, Lynda Sandoval, Niner Baxter, Linda Braasch, and the wonderful Ruth Sternglantz. (If I forgot anyone, my apologies. I’m getting old.)
Ruth Sternglantz was my editor for
and made it an absolutely amazing experience. Thanks, Ruthie, I love you!
The behind the scenes people at Bold Strokes rock pretty hard too: Sandy Lowe, Cindy Cresap, Stacia Seaman, and everyone else are so infinitely patient and don’t mind my forgetting deadlines or never knowing which book they’re talking about when they contact me with a question.
My co-workers at the NO/AIDS Task Force not only do good work, but are a lot of fun to spend time with: Josh Fegley, the Evil Mark Drake, Brandon Benson, Matthew Valletta, Alex Leigh, Drew Davenport, Lauren Gauthier, Aaron Moses, Joey Bean, Larry Stillings, Nick Parr, Tim Kinzel, Matt Reese, and everyone in the Prevention Department.
My New Orleans support base are the best: Julie Smith, Lee Pryor, Pat Brady, Michael Ledet, Bev and Butch Marshall, Konstantine Smorodnikov, Lisa Anderson, Karissa Kary, Billy Martin, Ked Dixon, Todd Perley, Susan Larson, the Duvals (thanks for the LSU tickets, always!), Chris Wiltz, Nevada Barr, Don Paxton, the gang at Garden District Books (Amy, Ted, Britton), Jean Redmann, Gillian Rodger, Allison Vertovec, and Jesse and Laura Ledet. Love you guys!
Martin Strickland, Meghan Davidson, Robin Pearce, and Daniella Rivera: I still miss you guys. Move back!
Radclyffe has been an absolute dream to work for: thank you so much, Boss!
And of course, my dear friends all over the country: Stephen Driscoll, Stuart Wamsley, Victoria A. Brownworth, Rob Byrnes, Becky Cochrane, Timothy J. Lambert, Jess Wells, Michele Karlsberg, Kelly Smith, Val McDermid, Marianne Martin, Amie E. Evans, Lindsay Smolensky, Rhonda Rubin, the gang at Murder by the Book in Houston, everyone on the board at Mystery Writers of America, Jeffrey Ricker, ‘Nathan and Dan Smith, Mike Smid, Kara Keegan, Dawn Lobaugh, Felice Picano, Trebor Healey, and Carol Rosenfeld: I couldn’t ask for a more motley crew.
I can always count on the “board” to have my back. Love y’all.
And of course, Paul Willis, the foundation my life is built upon. I love you.
This is for the Beaver Pond Gang with all my heart
“Are you listening to me, Scotty?”
My mom’s voice was so loud, I almost dropped my cell phone. I looked up. She was smiling at me in the space between the two front seats of the rental Subaru Forester, but her eyes meant business.
“Seriously,” she went on, her smile never wavering, “if you’re going to spend the whole week staring at your phone or fiddling with it, I’ll just take it away from you now.” She held out her right hand, palm up. “I’m not joking.”
I looked at the screen of my phone and sighed before slipping it into my shorts pocket. I smiled back at her. “There, happy?”
“It’s only a week,” she said before turning back around. “You’ll live, trust me.”
Easy for you to say,
I thought, turning to look out the window. It was still raining. It was raining when our flight from Chicago landed in Albany and hadn’t let up for even a minute as we headed north. I pressed my forehead against the rain-spattered glass as the GPS gave my dad another direction and he headed up an off-ramp.
“It’s only about another half hour,” my dad said as he came to a stop at the top of the ramp, turning on his left-turn signal. He looked at me in the rearview mirror. “You’re not still nervous, are you?”
I bit my lower lip and didn’t respond.
“I think you’re worrying for nothing,” Mom said. “Nancy and Jerry and Lynda and David raised their kids right, just like we did with you.”
Easy for you to say,
I thought, looking out the back window at the two other rental cars following us.
You’re not gay, and you didn’t just come out to them all in an e-mail.
We’d been taking these joint family vacations my entire life—I couldn’t remember a summer when our three families
taken one of these trips together. When we were kids, we’d shared a cousin-like camaraderie and looked forward to seeing each other every summer. But now that we were teens, we were like five strangers with a shared past. The last few years, it seemed to take a few days before everyone stopped sulking about having to come and decided to make the best of the situation. By the end of the week, the old bonds would be strongly and firmly in place again, and there would be sad good-byes at the airport. For about a week or so after, there would be a lot of texting and e-mailing. Once we settled back into our real lives and routines again, the contact became rarer. Within a month it died down again to an occasional comment on Facebook.
I was an only child, so it always seemed like I looked forward to the reunion more than the other four.
This year was different, though. This year, I’d dreaded coming, hadn’t wanted to leave our nice suburb of Chicago and spend a week with four almost-strangers my own age.
All I knew about their lives was gleaned from Facebook, which was hardly the best source for personal information.
One would never know from looking at
Facebook page, for example, that I was gay.
I’d come out to my parents at the beginning of the summer. It hadn’t been easy, but it was getting harder and harder to keep it from them, to keep lying to them. So, finally, one night at dinner I told them. They took it really well—I knew from talking to other gay teens in online chat rooms that some parents disowned their gay kids, going as far as throwing them out, but I’d been pretty sure my parents weren’t like that. They weren’t thrilled—I could see my mother was seeing her dreams of being a grandmother going out the window—but they weren’t disappointed in
. Their primary concern was I wait to come out publicly until I was in college. They were worried I’d be bullied.
Besides, Marc just wasn’t ready to take that step now, and if I came out, well, it would pretty much out him, too. I was lucky—I had cool parents. Marc’s dad was horrible, just the kind of man who would throw his son out for being gay without a second thought. And I was lucky to have Marc, even if Marc wasn’t ready to be as open as I wanted to be. So many of the queer kids I met online felt alone, wanting to fall in love but not knowing where they could meet someone, and I had the perfect guy living right down the street.
But I wanted to come out to my oldest friends, the kids who were like family to me. I must have drafted that e-mail a thousand times, almost pressing send, but then saving the draft when I chickened out. Finally, I sent it, earlier this week.
Not one of them responded.
They’d all seemed okay with me at the airport in Albany, though.
I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and carefully slid it back out. Keeping an eye on my mother, I checked the screen and smiled.
Hang in there you’ll be home before you know it.
I sighed with relief and looked back out the window. Dad had slowed to drive through a town that was barely visible through the downpour. “Almost there,” he said cheerfully. “This is North Hollow, and according to the directions, Thirteenth Lake Road is just beyond the town limits.”
“Doesn’t look like much of a town,” I said.
“The main part of the town isn’t on this road,” Mom replied. “There should be a turnoff up here that’s the main street. According to what I found online, there are some great antique shops and little cafés and restaurants in North Hollow.”
I smothered a grin. Mom had her own web-design business and worked at home. One of my teachers once referred to her “ruthless efficiency,” and it was probably the best description of her I’d ever heard. She
ruthlessly efficient. The house was always spotless, we never seemed to run out of anything, and she never seemed tired. Her cooking was the envy of all my friends, and she always found the time to make it to all of my tennis matches and every choir or play performance I was in. Anytime we took a trip, she researched everything possible about the area—she had a folder in her shoulder bag with brochures, maps, and information about the part of upstate New York we were visiting.
“I hope it isn’t going to rain all week,” she went on. “We won’t be able to do
and I can’t imagine any worse hell than being trapped indoors with five bored teenagers for a week.”
“It wouldn’t dare rain,” Dad replied. “It’s supposed to be sunny all week.” He started slowing down and leaned forward, peering through the windshield as the GPS announced, “Left turn in five hundred feet.”
I turned and looked out the window. Now that we’d passed the town, the road was running alongside the Hudson River. There were whitecaps out there in the water.
“There it is,” Dad said, “Thirteenth Lake Road.” He put on his blinker and took the left turn slowly and smoothly. The Forester started climbing up the steep road.
Mohawk Lodge and Resort was on the side of a small mountain, I knew that much, and on the shores of Lake Thirteen. There were a lot of lakes in this region, and the lodge was about an hour’s drive from Lake George. Dad slowed down as the rain started coming down harder, and in the distance lightning flashed, followed shortly by the roar of thunder.
“Approaching destination,” the GPS announced. “Prepare for arrival.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Mom said, and she bent down to start digging through her bag.
“You have arrived at destination.”
I leaned forward, looking through the windshield. There was a road to the right, and Dad turned on his signal. I could barely make out the street sign, but the road was marked Cemetery Road.
I felt a chill as Dad stopped the car and put it in park. I looked out the back again and saw the other two cars parked along the side of the road behind us. There was forest on both sides of Cemetery Road. Dad’s phone started ringing, and he pulled it out of the drink holder in between the two front seats to answer it. “Hello, David. Yeah, the GPS is messed up. It says this is where the lodge is, but I know it’s not on Cemetery Road.”
“It isn’t.” Mom sat back up, and she was flipping through her folder. She held up the printout of a map and squinted at it. “Yes, we need to get back on Thirteenth Lake Road, see?” She held the map over to Dad, marking a place with her index finger. “This is Cemetery Road, where we are right now, see? And the lodge is here, on Thirteenth Lake. Stupid map isn’t to scale, though.”
“David, yeah, we need to get back on Thirteenth Lake,” Dad said. “Follow me.” He disconnected the call and dropped the phone back into the drink holder.
“You have arrived at destination,” the GPS insisted again.
“Shut up,” Dad said, shutting it off and smiling back at me as he shifted back into drive. The rain was still coming down pretty hard, a steady heavy drumming on the roof, and he made a three-point turn as I stared out the window.
Something seems familiar about this place
, I thought but dismissed it from my mind immediately. I’d never been to upstate New York before, so how could it look familiar?
But I couldn’t shake the feeling.
I looked down Cemetery Road as Dad made the turn back onto Thirteenth Lake Road, and the feeling was gone almost as soon as it had come.
My phone vibrated again, and I pulled it out of my pocket. Mom and Dad were discussing the directions to the lodge and paying no attention to me.
We need to go ghost hunting later in the cemetery.
Carson Wolfe was a few months older than me. He’d always been my favorite—he could make me laugh really hard, and he always could come up with something for us all to do. I looked out the back window. The Wolfes had rented an enormous black luxury car, which made Mom roll her eyes and shake her head slightly. David Wolfe owned a television production company in Los Angeles, and Carson had become obsessed with the paranormal ever since his father started producing that crazy cable TV show about ghost hunters two years ago. We’d traipsed over Sanibel Island several times last summer looking for ghosts in cemeteries and trying to find haunted houses. I knew he’d spent most of this summer interning on the show—it was all he ever posted about on Facebook.
Well, that and links to articles about hauntings.
Carson had always had a kind of obsessive personality, even when he was younger. It seemed like every summer he was obsessed about something new—dinosaurs, European royalty, UFO’s—and now it was the paranormal. He was a smart kid, one of those people who never forgot anything they read and could make straight As without studying that hard, a trait I envied. He’d been heavy when he was a kid, with strangely skinny arms and legs and a bit of a round torso. The Wolfes lived in Beverly Hills, and his parents had gotten him a personal trainer when he hit puberty—they always claimed it was because he was clumsy, to help him develop and improve his coordination. Mom, on the other hand, thought it was because they “couldn’t have a fat son in Southern California.” Carson wasn’t overweight anymore—he’d developed some nice muscle tone and was always deeply tanned—but he was still clumsy. But not because he was uncoordinated—he was clumsy because he was always lost in thought and didn’t pay as much attention as he should. Mrs. Wolfe bought him nice, expensive clothes, but Carson always seemed to put on clothes that didn’t match because to him, a shirt was a shirt, even if it was orange and he was wearing green shorts.
I started to type a response when I noticed I had zero bars.
I sighed and put my phone back away.
I hope this is just a dead spot and my phone can get service at the lodge.
I couldn’t help but smile a little bit. No cell phone service, the place is on Lake Thirteen, and the GPS can’t find it. This is like the start of one of those slasher movies, like
Friday the 13th
. That was about a camp up in the woods, too.
Marc loved slasher movies.
That was the real reason not having cell service was going to drive me crazy—not being able to text or talk to Marc whenever I wanted.
I missed him already so much I could scream.
It’s only seven days and you’ll be home next Sunday,
I reminded myself as I looked out the window. We were still climbing, and the rain was still pouring down—I could hardly see anything outside. It was also getting later, and there hadn’t been any thunder or lightning in a while.
I shivered again and closed my eyes, yawning.
I opened my eyes again when the car stopped.
There was another road branching off to the right, but we’d gotten much higher on the mountainside. I squinted to try to read the signposts.
“The sign says Thirteenth Lake Road goes off that way, but that’s not what my map says.” Mom’s voice was annoyed, and I couldn’t help but grin. She hated it when things didn’t go the way they were supposed to. “The map says to keep heading straight up the side of the mountain, on the same road.”
“Does the map name this side road?”
I closed my eyes and tuned them out.
I missed Marc.
I started to drift off to sleep, my parents’ voices just noise, droning on in the background. I hadn’t slept well last night, and Mom had gotten us up ridiculously early for the trip to the airport. I was sleepy, and so felt myself drifting off.
In the dream I was walking through the woods. The sun was shining and it was a warm spring day, and I was sweating just a little bit. But my heart was singing because I was in love and was going to be seeing my love in just a moment or two. A bee buzzed past my head as I walked, and I stopped to pick some beautiful yellow wildflowers growing in a bunch just to the side of the path. I held them up to my nose and took a deep inhale. It was a beautiful day, and it felt good to just be alive. I kept walking down the path and came around a corner. There, the path started sloping downward to a clearing where a log cabin sat. There was a well, with a brick wall built around it and a hood with a bucket hanging down from a crossbeam by a rope. There were rose bushes blooming in front of the cabin, and my heart leaped a bit in my chest. I saw Marc come out of the cabin door, wearing nothing more than a pair of old-fashioned trousers that looked strange on him, and he looked up to see me standing on the path, and his freckled face broke into a big smile, the sun glinting on his coppery red hair—