The Chronicles of a Supernatural Huntsman series follows the thrilling and chilling adventures of Kamlyn Paige. In the first book, Broken Angel, Kamlyn loses her only child to a creature of the darkness. She lives in her grief until a mysterious neighbor opens her eyes to all that lurks in the night. He takes her to the headquarters of a secret underground society called the Chamber of Darkness to train to be a Hunstman of the supernatural. During her six months of training she makes new friends, new enemies, and discovers even the Chamber is not impenetrable to the monsters that hide in our world.
Though the books are part of series, they are written in a way that you could read the 2nd one without reading the first and not feel completely lost thanks to the recaps and flashbacks. I DO recommend you read the first book too, though, if these two free chapters intrigue you. The buttons below will direct you to the series page on this site where there are links to each book’s page through Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, iBooks, and more! Enjoy!
Earth Angel by Alex Apostol
THE SLEEPLESS NIGHT
It was a typical day in northwest Indiana. The sun shone brightly and the air was crisp with the smell of fall. I walked my son, Danny, to the park down the street from our house. He ran straight for the swing set and hopped on the seat.
“Higher, Mommy, higher!” Danny shouted between giggles.
His curly blonde hair flowed back and forth with each push and his cheeks turned rosy red from the cool breeze. The angelic sound of his laughter touched my heart and warmed it. I had never been happier than I was in that moment, something I said daily about the time spent with my son.
Without warning, Danny planted his feet firmly down, dragging his new shoes through the dirt. Time slowed to a crawl as I watched the dust creep up and engulf him. It dispersed like an ominous rolling fog. The energetic five-year-old burst forth quickly as he ran for something new to play on.
I listened to the sound of the dry leaves crunching beneath my feet as I walked the outer edge of the playground, waiting to see what he picked next. Instead of running over to the slide, like any other kid would have done, he ran to me and hugged me tightly around the waist.
“I love you, mommy,” he said in his small, sweet voice.
I closed my eyes as happiness spread through me like the warm rays of the sun.
“I love you too, sweetie.”
When I opened my eyes I saw a woman walking through the trees that surrounded the park. Her long black hair flowed behind her fluidly as if she were gliding underwater. She disappeared behind one tree only to reappear again from behind another several feet away. It was unearthly and unnatural. The sight of her sent a shiver down my spine.
I squeezed Danny closer. Fear took over my body. The way she moved couldn’t be explained. But something deep inside me said she was dangerous and I had to protect my son from her at all cost.
She held onto the trunk of a small tree and spun around it carelessly. Her pale lips parted as she gave into laughter. She didn’t even notice we were there, watching her. Then, all at once, her body snapped rigid and her eyes locked onto us.
“Danny,” she called out. Her voice echoed through the bare branches of the old trees. “Danny…”
My son pulled away from my arms. I tightened my grip, but it didn’t help. He slipped away before my eyes.
“No!” I cried out as I pulled him closer. “You can’t have him!”
The woman danced among the trees again, throwing her head back in laughter. I clutched at my son with all my strength and buried my face in his soft hair. When I looked up she was gone. The pressure of Danny’s body against mine softened until I hugged nothing but empty air. My arms fell against my side as tears rolled down my cheeks.
The ringing of my cell phone jerked me out of the nightmare and back to reality. I reluctantly opened my eyes. The cracks in the brown motel ceiling formed a mocking grin as I stared, letting my vision adjust slowly. I picked up my phone from the bedside table and looked at the bright screen through squinted eyes. The familiar face of my best friend glared back at me.
“Hey, Kammy,” Cara Bellamy said, her voice too loud and cheerful for the early morning. “Your lead is over on old Kettle Road. When you go around the big bend heading toward Roosevelt Lake there should be a two-story house with a wraparound porch. That’s where Mrs. Baker lives.”
I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand, trying to wake myself up enough to remember what she said. The open blinds revealed the sun hiding behind a blanket of gray clouds. It was a typical day in the state of Washington. I yawned quietly while Cara threw more information at me at top speed.
“Her husband died yesterday. The police say he drowned, but that’s not true at all. They found him in the living room—no water in sight. Something’s definitely going on there.”
I tried to take an interest in what she said, but the dream about Danny lingered vividly, enough that I could still smell him.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll get right on it,” I said, closing my eyes again.
I rubbed the bridge of my nose with my thumb and index finger. The beginnings of a migraine stabbed at my temples.
“Hey, are you okay? You sound…” Cara’s voice trailed off.
She didn’t have to finish her sentence. I knew exactly what she meant.
“I’m fine, really. I just had a dream is all.”
Cara didn’t say a word. I knew her well enough to know she was thinking carefully before she spoke again. We had been best friends since the first grade. She was with me every step of the way after my parents died in a car accident and when I needed help taking care of Danny after he was born. I don’t know how I would have gotten through any of it if it wasn’t for Cara and her unfailing positivity.
I pictured her twirling her long, honey-colored hair around her finger in between sips of coffee as she sat at the old wooden table in our kitchen. She never knew what to say when the subject of Danny came up, which was fine with me because I never wanted to talk about it. After what happened, I felt like no one could understand my pain, and that included Cara.
“I think you’d be more upset if you didn’t get to spend time with him in your dreams,” she said after a while.
Even though it pained me, the more I thought about it the more I knew she was right. Some days all I wanted to do was stay in bed just to spend more time with him. Today, of all days, I wanted nothing more than to shut my eyes and be taken away from the horrible world of pain and regret I lived in. It was the one-year anniversary of my son’s gruesome death—one year since I looked into the face of pure evil and vowed my revenge on the demon hag.
When my neighbor, Don Vander, told me there was a way to kill it, I was immediately on board. He took me to the headquarters of an underground society called the Chamber of Darkness where I trained for six months to become a Huntsman. The title is impressive, but the lifestyle lacked glamor.
I left the only home I ever knew to travel the country at the Chamber’s will. They call with a case and I go running after it in my late father’s restored 1969 Chevy pickup truck. We get paid, but only enough to keep me in cheap motels and gas station burritos. But none of that matters. I would do anything if it meant one day I would stare into the eyes of my son’s killer and watch the life extinguish from them.
Cara was heartbroken over Danny’s death. She was like a second mother to him and she loved him more than anything. When she found out a demon was behind his murder she made me promise to include her in my quest to bring it to justice.
There was no way she could quit her job and come on the road with me. The Chamber of Darkness had strict rules about training their Huntsmen. They brought anyone they discovered hunting on their own to headquarters to decide if they were eligible to train or not. In fact, that was how Don Vander became a Huntsman—going out on his own to catch the demon that killed his wife and daughter a decade ago.
But Cara didn’t have it in her to become a Huntsman. I knew it and she knew it. So, I used her as my personal research assistant. When the Chamber messaged me about a case I relayed the information over to Cara and she searched the internet, books, and public records for anything that might help me destroy whatever I was after. She made my job a whole lot easier. I killed twice as many supernatural beings as the Huntsmen who had been in my training group thanks to her. In the six months since I graduated and went out on my own, I had killed over fifty dangerous creatures of Darkness and saved just as many lives, if not more.
I thanked Cara for her help with the case and said I would call her when I got back from Mrs. Baker’s house. But instead of starting my day, I stayed in bed and closed my eyes again. I only wanted to clear my head, but my exhausted body had other plans. Before I knew what happened I was back in Indiana one year ago. I was aware I was dreaming, but I couldn’t wake up, no matter how hard I fought it.
The high-pitched sound of Danny’s scream filled my ears. The demon’s rancid smell made my stomach churn. My body tossed back and forth on the bed as black, empty eyes locked onto mine, its yellow, snake-like pupils never moving. Its tangled black hair circulated around its head as it gnashed its rotten teeth. When it jumped through the open window next to my son’s bed I shot up from my pillow clutching at my chest.
My eyes wandered around the small motel room as I tried to catch my breath. It was time to get out of bed. The best way to get past the dream was to start a long day of distractions. I picked up my phone again and looked at the time. It was already noon. With a sigh, I got up and trudged my way to the bathroom.
My mind wanted to run wild with the images I saw in my sleep, but I forced myself to focus on my reflection. My once bright-blue eyes were now dull and gray. My skin no longer had a warm glow to it. And my long brown hair was frizzy with uncontrollable waves. I splashed my face with cold water and started my morning routine. Slowly, I lined my eyes and slathered my lips in tinted Chapstick. Five minutes and I was ready to go. I turned away from the mirror and headed out.
There was a limited amount of time left since I had slept in, so I picked up a pre-packaged burger and cherry pie from the gas station before heading to Mrs. Baker’s house. It was the third day in a row when I ate nothing but beef and French fries. My stomach rebelled against its fast food diet best it could, but it was all I could afford.
My old truck roared loudly as I drove down the winding old Kettle Road. I took a bite of my burger and looked out the driver’s side window. The surroundings were breathtaking. Washington was a beautiful state with its picturesque mountains and enormous pines. The weather was dismal which gave the overly green, wooded area passing by me an eerie storybook quality. The vibrant moss-covered trees seemed hauntingly unreal. It would have been peaceful if I wasn’t hunting.
Turning around the bend in the road, I spotted the large house Cara had described earlier. Since I started hunting the supernatural, I learned a lot about people. Their stories never left us. Sometimes they lingered long after their bodies were buried. That was exactly what we suspected happened here. Someone lingered in the Baker household.
When I arrived, I rang the doorbell and a plump, older woman with graying hair answered. Her puffy eyes were red-rimmed and tear-soaked.
“Hi, Mrs. Baker. I’m Kamlyn Paige. I just moved in down the road,” I lied with ease. “I wanted to come by and introduce myself and to express my condolences.” I offered her the cherry pie.
“Oh, nice to meet you, dear, and thank you,” she said as she sniffed and stepped aside. “Please, come in.”
As we made our way to the kitchen I stopped to admire the old photographs on the wall. Family history had become a fascination of mine since my parents passed away. For weeks after their death, I spent sleepless nights looking through old photo albums from when they were younger.
Mrs. Baker took note of my interest and narrated a few of them for me. There hung a faded black-and-white photograph of a man standing by a flowing river. He held a large fish upside down with his thumb tucked into his suspenders. A wide grin spread across his face.
“That was Michael’s father. He helped build the Grand Coulee Dam in the 1940’s,” the woman said with pride.
I followed her to the kitchen where we sat down on stools placed around a wooden island. She went to a drawer and pulled out a long, sharp knife. Reflex made my insides flinch. She set the knife down on the marbled counter along with two small plates.
As I cut into the juicy pie, I asked Mrs. Baker about her husband. She seemed relieved someone wanted to hear what he was like when he was alive instead of only wanting to know about his death. For an hour, we laughed over old stories. I ate three pieces of pie and when I finished red cherry filling stained my plate.
Afterward, we both stared down in silence, consumed in our own thoughts. I had to move things along. There wasn’t much time before night fell and the real hunt began. The clock on the wall read three thirty-five. I had to bring up Michael’s death. But my questions didn’t seem to surprise Mrs. Baker.
“I don’t know what happened,” she admitted, taking out a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbing at her thin eyes. “I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when I heard him gasping for air. By the time I got to the living room he was on the floor…dead.”
She lowered her head to stare back at her first piece of the partially eaten pie.
“I’m so sorry to hear that. Was it a heart attack?”
I hoped the painful subject wouldn’t cause her to have a breakdown. After Danny’s death, I kept myself hidden in the house so I could cry hysterically in peace. The overwhelming pain of losing a loved one is unbearable.
“It wasn’t a heart attack. The police don’t know what happened. They said he drowned, but they couldn’t find the source. I mean, he was in the living room for Christ’s sake. I just don’t understand.”
Her wrinkled, warm face contorted into fierce concentration. The inconclusiveness of his death held Mrs. Baker together. Her brain was too busy fitting the pieces of the puzzle together to focus on the pain of losing her husband of forty years. For her sake, I hoped she never found out what killed him. The knowledge would be a burden she would have to carry around with her forever.
Tears overflowed her vacant brown eyes. When she excused herself to use the bathroom upstairs, I walked into the living room to take a look around.
Her home had a definite outdoor theme to it. Wood covered every possible surface in sight. A giant deer head glared down at me from above the old box television. The shining marbles that sat in the dead animal’s eye sockets creeped me out, but that was it. I felt no indication of a presence in the house.
Just to be sure, I reached into the pocket of my cropped black leather jacket and pulled out a small EMF reader. As I walked around the room, the meter’s needle remained on zero. Whatever killed her husband wasn’t there anymore.
When I heard Mrs. Baker coming down the stairs, I shoved the reader back into my jacket. A nonchalant smile overtook the look of confusion on my face.
“Thank you for inviting me into your home, Mrs. Baker, and again I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said with my eyes turned down sympathetically.
She led me to the front door and gave me a pat on the shoulder. “Thank you, dear. It felt good to talk about all the good times I had with my sweet Michael.”
As I climbed into the truck, doubt crept inside me and spread throughout my mind. There had been no signs that an angry spirit had invaded her home—no EMF signal, nothing left behind, nothing out of place. Everything seemed normal.
I headed back to the motel and called Cara once I was in my quiet room again.
“I’m not sure this is what we thought it was,” I jumped right in as I opened a bag of chips and popped them into my mouth.
I told her everything Mrs. Baker talked about, right down to the personal details of their steamy love affair in the 1970’s that eventually led to their marriage, hoping Cara would pick up on something I missed. Research was her gift and the crazy thing was she enjoyed it. And I was all too happy to hand it over to her.
“Nothing you’ve told me hints to anything new,” she said.
Her girlish voice sounded absent, as if she were far away in her own world. It was the first case to stump her. I almost heard the gears of her brain clicking at they turned endlessly.
“Tonight I’ll go down to Roosevelt Lake and check it out, see if I can find anything out of the ordinary there,” I interjected to interrupt her obsessing.
“Good idea. I’ll dig deeper here, maybe contact the Kettle Falls library again.” Through the phone, I heard the soft tapping of fingers on the keyboard as she searched away on her laptop. We said our goodbyes and I headed out.
I walked around the town before dinner and talked to the locals. It couldn’t hurt to see if they knew anything. But as friendly as the people of the small town were, no one had any helpful information. Everyone’s story matched Mrs. Baker’s. It confused them all. I continued to walk around, talking to anyone who was kind enough to spare a minute, while the constant drizzle dampened my long, heavy hair.
I stopped in a small sporting goods store and bought a navy blue windbreaker with an oversized hood. There was no way I could afford to get sick now. I headed back out into the mist fully prepared.
Night fell quickly. I stopped in a local diner for some food. Everyone seemed to know each other and were welcoming to people traveling through. The sense of community was foreign to me. I had been on my own for so many months, I forgot what it felt like to have people close. A younger man, about my age, sat in the booth across from me as I took a sip of water.
“Hey, stranger. Passing through?” he asked, upbeat.
His clothes were slightly dirty and his face hung with exhaustion from a full day of work, but he managed to give me a crooked grin. His hazel eyes glinted under the bright diner lights.
“Yeah, just taking a road trip,” I said as I turned my eyes back to the menu.
“John Weston,” he said.
I didn’t bother looking up. “Nice to meet you.”
“And you are?”
This guy was determined. I set the menu down on the table and looked him in the eye.
He smiled back and nodded his head several times before speaking again. “So…are you alone?”
He looked around the diner for another stranger who could possibly be my companion. It was either flirting or genuine curiosity. Honestly, I didn’t care either way. Rule number one of the job was don’t get attached, because once I destroyed the monster I would disappear without a goodbye. That was just the way it had to be.
“I’m alone, but getting ready to head out soon.”
The waitress set a plate down in front of me and I took a bite, savoring the juicy flavor. Rarely did I get the chance to sit down and eat food that wasn’t fresh off the assembly line.
“Meatloaf’s good, huh?” John asked, smiling all the while. “I live next door to this place and I eat here almost every night. Can’t get enough of it.”
I lowered my gaze to the table, feeling slightly uncomfortable having a stranger watch me eat. Thankfully, John was a perceptive guy.
“I’ll leave you to your meal, then. It was nice to meet you.” His gaze lingered on me and his mouth parted like there was more he wanted to say. Instead, he closed his mouth and gave me another crooked grin.
“Good to meet you too, John,” I responded.
He stood up and walked back to his own table where he ate alone. From what I could tell, he seemed perfectly happy with his life. It didn’t look like he had anyone to share it with, but he didn’t look lonely either. I envied that.
I paid my tab and left the small diner without another thought of John and walked back to the motel to pick up my truck. It seemed farther than I remembered since the rain had picked up. Small pellets of water hit my face as I kept my eyes trained down on the muddy ground. Once I reached the parking lot, I got right into my truck and left for Roosevelt Lake.
As I pulled up to the lakefront I turned off my lights. The deafening silence after I killed the engine consumed me, as if all the life in the woods had taken a deep breath and held it. I opened my door and hopped out of the cab before walking around to the back.
The floor of the bed lifted to reveal a shallow hidden compartment full of weaponry I had received during training. I grabbed the Beretta 9mm, loaded it with a round of iron bullets, and put a canvas pouch of salt in my coat pocket. I started to leave, but turned back and grabbed a flashlight. As brave as I liked to think I was, I wasn’t about to wander into the woods alone in the dark.
With the autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet, I headed toward the lake bridges. Everything was quiet and peaceful—nothing unusual as far as I could see. I heard the rain hitting the tops of the trees, but the dense greenery prevented water from ever reaching me. The night was chilly and with the clouds dispersing the moon shone on the water, giving the area a magical glow.
I thought about the people in town and how simple their lives seemed and wondered if I could ever settle in one place again to live a normal life. I knew that wouldn’t be possible until I found the demon that killed Danny. Even afterward, I would always be a Huntsman. I couldn’t turn my back on everyone who needed help fighting against the Darkness, not after what it took from me.
The woods were quiet. I continued to walk, but nothing happened. But just when I thought it might be time to head back to the truck, I heard the soft sound of a woman crying. I walked over to the base of the bridge with the gun in my hand. I was well aware that the woman crying could be someone from town out on a walk to clear her mind, but I wasn’t taking any chances.
Standing on the bank facing the river was a young woman. She had long, flowing black hair and beautifully bronzed skin. The temperature was in the low fifties, but she had on nothing more than a simple brown sleeveless dress. Her feet were bare and covered in dirt. I knew right away this was no ordinary woman from town. I crept over to her as she continued to stare into the lake, weeping.
“Hello?” I said cautiously.
She turned to face me, sending her long raven hair over one shoulder. I stared into her tear-filled eyes. Her irises were pitch-black, but her pupils shone an eerie, glowing silver.
“My whole family…gone,” she whispered as tears streamed down her cheeks.
When I lifted my flashlight to shine it onto her face, there was no one there.
As many times as that had happened to me, it always caught me off guard. I lowered my gun and stared at the empty space where she’d been. With nothing more I could do, I turned around and trudged my way back to the truck.
As I drove back to the motel I saw a whirl of red and blue lights parked in front of someone’s house. I leaned over and stashed my gun under the passenger seat before pulling up to a run-down house across the street from the ambulance and squad cars. A crowd gathered in the driveway. This piqued my interest. It was possible that whatever happened had something to do with my case.
I rolled down the window and called out to no one in particular when a familiar face stepped forward.
“Well, hello there,” John Weston responded.
I gave a half-smile and after a moment of awkward silence, his face fell with sadness.
“What happened here?” I asked.
“Apparently, old man Jones drowned in his bathtub.”
He looked down at the ground and kicked at the gravel as he spoke. I told him how sorry I was, assuming Mr. Jones was someone everyone in the town knew well.
“He was like a father to me. My dad passed when I was young and, being my dad’s best friend, old man Jones helped raise me,” John said with a long face.
I looked into his eyes, which were full of pain, and told him again how sorry I was for his loss. Death was the hardest part of what I did. Everywhere I went, it seemed to follow. He thanked me, resting his hands on the car door where I had the window rolled down. He stared into my eyes and bit his bottom lip, which was a nervous habit of mine as well.
I had heard enough. Cara was right. We were dealing with a spirit. I said my goodbyes and turned the truck around to continue back to the hotel.
When I walked through the door, the first thing I did was flop down onto the bed. The day seemed longer than usual, even though I had gotten a late start. I grabbed a towel and dried my hair lazily. Somehow, the mist had made its way into my hood through all the chaos, drenching my entire head.
At that moment, I was glad I was
low-maintenance when it came to my appearance. Blow-drying it and then piling
on products sounded excruciating. I could barely keep my eyes open. I had no
clue what time it was, but I knew it was late. Calling Cara would have to wait
until morning. I crawled into the hard motel bed and took two sleeping pills
for a peaceful, dreamless slumber.
THE VENGEFUL SPIRIT
When morning came, I stretched my arms and jumped out of bed. If I did dream, I couldn’t remember a thing, something I was happy about. Already, the day was off to a better start.
I threw on a pair of worn-out jeans and a t-shirt before venturing out to find food. There were closer places to eat at, but I returned to the diner from the night before. It was the only decent meal around as far as I knew, and I was a creature of habit. I ate a steaming plate of biscuits and gravy while thinking about what John Weston had said about Mr. Jones.
Normally, the incident would have been an open-and-close case of an old man having a stroke and drowning in his tub. A clear-cut answer was never the real answer in my line of work, though. There was more to it than what was there in front of me. I could feel it. I was on the right track. I shoved the last bite of biscuits and gravy into my mouth before walking up to the counter to pay.
Back at the motel, I decided it was time to call Cara. I felt guilty for waiting so long to tell her about what I had seen at the lake. She loved to hear she was right. And I knew she could help me figure out who the young woman was.
“Well, you were right. It’s a haunting.”
“I knew it!” She yelled into the phone. “Why didn’t you call me last night to tell me this?”
I could hear in her voice that she had been up all night trying to figure out how she could have been wrong. She sounded elated, but knowing her so well I heard an entire night’s worth of stress and no sleep underneath the excitement. I told her about my encounter in the woods and that we had another victim.
“Then we’re looking for a link between Mr. Baker, Mr. Jones, and a young Native American woman who died. I’ll do some research and get back to you.”
Her excitement wasn’t insensitivity to Mr. Jones’s death, but more of a reaction to her love of research. She hung up without waiting for a goodbye.
I rarely had time to myself since I started this new job. Not sure what to do while I waited for Cara to call back, I turned on the television and caught the beginning of a newly released chick flick. I popped a bag of popcorn into the microwave and made myself comfortable on the bed.
It felt like forever since I sat down and watched a movie all the way through. At the end, when I was about to find out if the lovers were truly meant to be together or not, my phone rang. I turned off the television and walked over to the small desk where it sat. Cara jumped in without saying so much as a hello.
“I found some very interesting information.”
Her voice was calm and collected, no longer bouncing melodically with enthusiasm. That was how I knew the mystery was over. Instead of being excited and ready to go, Cara was quiet and peaceful at the conclusion of the puzzle. She told me the story of our young ghost woman.
“In the early 1900’s, there was a Native American reservation in the old town of Kettle Falls where a young woman named Adoette lived with her family and tribe.”
I heard her flip through the pages of her research and could tell right away it would be a lengthy story. I settled back on the bed and put the phone on speaker as I tried to toss bits of popcorn into the air and catch them in my mouth. When you lived in cheap motels, constantly traveling, you found simple ways to amuse yourself. I caught every single piece on the first try.
“The Columbia River ran through the middle of the reservation and supplied the tribe’s main source of food, which was salmon. In 1940, city planners had already started construction on the Grand Coulee Dam, but decided they would need to flood the town of Kettle Falls in the process.”
“But there’s still a town of Kettle Falls…” I said in confusion.
I could practically hear Cara rolling her eyes at my naïve response. She continued as if she hadn’t heard me.
“All the citizens agreed that building the dam and moving the town closer to the railroads would be better for its up-and-coming industries. So there’s still a town, just a newer version of it.
“The reservation, however, was dead set against the move. Building a dam would cut off their necessary supply of salmon and destroy their homes. Some of the younger tribe members, including Adoette, traveled to neighboring towns to see if they could find support to stop the building of the dam.”
I thought about the young woman I saw by the bridge. Her tears made sense. I knew how the story ended.
“They planned their journey with enough time to return before flooding began, but the city planners grew impatient and decided to start early. The elders of the reservation stubbornly refused to leave their homes and were given two choices—stay or leave, but, either way, the dam would be built.”
It was a tragedy. How could they let those innocent people die like that? I remembered reading somewhere that drowning was the worst possible way to die. The feeling of suffocation was supposed to be unbearable. I shuddered at the thought.
“When Adoette and the others returned, they found their reservation was gone, replaced by water. Their homes and families had been washed away with everything they had ever known. Having to start new, Adoette built a small cabin in the woods next to her former home, which is now Roosevelt Lake, and remained there alone.”
There is a hole in the story, I thought as I stood up from the bed and paced the room. Why would Adoette’s ghost take revenge now, after seventy years?
“Do you know who the city planners were?” Cara asked. “Three men by the names of Richard Baker, Daniel Jones, and Jonathan Weston. Richard Baker was the man you saw in the old picture at the Bakers’ home and Daniel Jones was the man who died last night.”
The pieces were starting to fall into place. I still wasn’t sure why the spirit had returned so late for her revenge, but I was sure about one thing, and that was how to get rid of her. I stopped pacing the room and stared at a dark stain on the carpet, looking past it rather than at it. My mouth fell open as I realized I had more to do than find Adoette, and I had to hurry.
“John Weston is the name of the guy who sat with me in the diner yesterday,” I said more to myself than to Cara.
Without hesitation, I hung up the phone and rushed to the truck.
Speeding down the dark and winding road, I hoped I would get to John in time. I screeched to a halt in front of the only house next to the diner, an old ranch with a gravel driveway and leaning carport. My legs pumped desperately as I ran to the front door with my gun in my hand.
When I burst into the unlocked home, John Weston stood in the kitchen with his hands raised in defense. The young woman I saw at the lake stood across from him. It was only a second that she looked at me before she turned her focus back to him. She placed a hand on his chest.
John gasped for air as water poured from his mouth. The young woman turned her head slowly to look at me again with her hand planted firmly over his lungs. Her piercing silver eyes were filled with rage and pure hatred. She smiled and cocked her head to the side like a coyote spotting new prey to rip apart.
On instinct, I fired an iron round straight through her head, causing her to disappear and John to fall to his knees. He coughed up water and tried to catch his breath. His hands rested in a puddle at his feet.
“What the hell was that?” he gasped as I helped him up.
“I don’t have time to explain. She’ll be back soon.”
I grabbed a box of salt from one of the shelves and shoved it at him.
“Take this, form a circle around yourself, and don’t move. You’ll be safe in there.”
I ran from the house leaving John behind, most likely in fear and confusion.
I drove as fast as my beat-up truck could go to where I first saw Adoette’s spirit. Cara had said her house was somewhere near the lake. It was possible her remains were still in the cabin, undiscovered.
The moment I came to a squealing stop I jumped out and grabbed a can of lighter fluid from the compartment under the bed. I ran to the lake’s edge near the bridges and stopped, heaving heavy breaths of cold air. There had to be a clue to which direction I should go. I spun around, searching desperately. If I didn’t find Adoette’s remains soon, John would die. He couldn’t stay protected in the salt circle forever.
A small dirt trail leading back into the woods caught my eye. I hadn’t seen it before. My gut told me this was the trail that would lead me to the remains. I could see exactly what the cabin looked like in my mind as I headed into the darkness of the woods. My legs moved furiously, propelling me forward.
After what seemed like miles of running, I came upon a small, one-room log cabin. The moss-covered trees, overtaken with the green parasites, camouflaged it well. If I hadn’t been intentionally looking for it I might have run right past it.
I walked up to a window to take a look inside. It was bare. There was a fireplace in one corner for cooking, some old pots for storage, and a cot against the wall across from me—lying motionless on the cot was an old woman. I flashed the light across her face to see if she was sleeping, but she lay there still and unresponsive. It was the body of Adoette.
I walked over to the warped, rotted door and pushed it open slowly. Dirt covered the ground instead of floorboards. Damp like the outside forest, it gave slightly when I stepped on it.
“Hello?” I said, trying one last time to see if the woman was still alive, but she was silent.
I nudged her a couple times as a final attempt, but there was no doubt about it. The woman was dead. I used the rest of my lighter fluid and the entire pouch of salt to cover her body.
Normally when I burned remains, they were bones or an object owned by the deceased. I had never burned one that was still intact before. It made me feel uneasy. This woman couldn’t have died more than a few days ago, which explained why her spirit returned to seek revenge then. It saddened me to think that she would never receive a proper burial. There would be no tombstone for loved ones to visit and mourn. There would be nothing left behind to prove she even existed. But as unnerved as I was, I knew it had to be done. John’s life depended on it.
Just as I lit the match to throw it onto the old woman’s corpse, the door creaked open behind me. I spun around to see young Adoette’s ghost standing there, rage pouring from her unearthly silver eyes. A faint growling sound came from deep within her as she huffed through her nose. We stared at each other, sizing the other up to see who would make the first move.
Without warning, she let out an ear-splitting cry and rushed forward. I scraped the match across the box and dropped it. Orange and red flames engulfed the body before me. Adoette’s spirit stopped in her tracks and stared, her face stricken with fear.
As she looked down at her flaming body on the cot, she let out a horrifying scream and burst into flames as well. Heat engulfed the room. I shielded my eyes from the bright light. Just as quickly as the spirit caught fire, she was gone.
I ran from the cabin before the only exit went up in flames. A blaze of fire swallowed up the tiny home as I hurried back to the truck where I pulled out my phone and dialed 911.
“Yes, hello. I want to report a fire in the woods next to Roosevelt Lake.”
The woman on the other end asked for my name, but I hung up. I couldn’t link myself to what happened. It was always the antisocial stranger passing through who was the first to be questioned, and in my case their suspicions would be correct. I needed to disappear, just as Adoette had done, never to be seen again by the people of Kettle Falls.
When I got back to the motel, I gathered my belongings to leave town as soon as possible. While tossing my toiletry kit into my black duffel bag I heard a rhythmic knocking at the door. My stomach sank. How could the police have figured me out so fast? I cracked it open, but left the chain latched.
“Hello there, mystery woman,” John said, giving me a cocky grin as he leaned against the doorframe.
Two hours ago, water spewed from his mouth as he sat hunched over on the kitchen floor. Now, he wore a dark green button-down shirt left open to show the fitted t-shirt he wore underneath. His jeans were clean and hugged his body. Instead of wearing the worn-out ball cap from the diner, his short brown hair was styled with mousse. He had put effort into his appearance to come see me.
“You caught me. Did you get all dressed up just to stalk me in the middle of the night?” I said, smiling back as I undid the chain and stepped aside to invite him in.
I took a deep breath as he walked past to sit on the windowsill. He smelled of rugged, outdoorsy cologne. I remembered from biology class that scent triggered memories better than any of our other senses, and right then I was taken back to high school with Rob, my son’s father.
Suddenly, I was aware of how frumpy I looked. My long hair needed brushing. I was positive I felt twigs stuck in it as I ran my fingers through, trying to smooth out the tangles. I had on a plain t-shirt and my favorite jeans, and while they showed off my figure, the rips and fading were anything but intentional.
“So, what the hell happened?” he asked, still smiling at me as he folded his arms.
I was glad he wasn’t mad at me for trying to skip town without explaining. Something told me this wasn’t the first time someone had done that to him. We didn’t know each other, but something in his eyes made it hard for me to go back to his house and see him again, like I wouldn’t just be saying goodbye to him but to any possibility of having a normal life with someone altogether.
I threw a wrinkled t-shirt into my bag. “How did you know when to leave the circle?”
“Well, one minute she was sitting across from me, dangerously close and smiling like a madwoman, and then the next she was gone. Shortly after she left the lights came back on. I figured if she came back the lights flickering again would tip me off.”
I was impressed by how well he was handling the situation. Most people were complete basket cases after their first ghost encounter.
“You did good, John,” I said, glancing into his eyes quickly before looking away. “I’ve been doing this for quite a while and normally when I try to explain the paranormal to people they look at me like I’m crazy, no matter what horror they just witnessed.”
John gazed at me, continuing to give me his crooked grin.
“So, you’re like some badass ghost hunter?”
“Uh, sure. Something like that,” I chuckled.
No one had ever described my job so perfectly before. I looked at him, unable to stop myself from blushing as I smiled. He was different from the other victims I had helped in the past six months. He knew about my job and didn’t run away screaming.
“I guess I really came to say thanks,” he said, looking into my eyes as he stood up from the windowsill. He walked over and reached for my hand. “Do you think I could take you to dinner before you go?”
I pulled my hand away. His gaze fell to the floor. I couldn’t invite anyone else into my messy life, and I couldn’t give up the hunt for my son’s killer.
“I have to find someone who took something very special from me,” I said with certainty.
His hazel eyes pleaded for an explanation. I sighed. I had only said it aloud once before, during training, and the words had stabbed at me like a thousand knives.
“A demon killed my son, and I have to find it and kill it.”
He didn’t laugh or back away in fear. His eyes didn’t bug out of his head to stare at me like I was crazy. Instead, his full lips pulled back into a pained smile.
“I knew there was something special about you the minute we met. You’ll always have evil to hunt and people to save because that’s what you do…you save lives.”
He leaned in and gave me a small, soft kiss on my cheek. I closed my eyes and savored the moment. It would be a long time before I had another one like that. It made me do something I never do.
“Here’s my number, in case you ever piss off another spirit. Don’t hesitate to call,” I smiled as I tore off a piece of paper from the pad on the nightstand and scribbled on it.
He took it in his hands and stared down at it. “How do I know this isn’t fake?”
“I guess you’ll just have to trust me.”
A smile spread across his lips. “Goodbye, Kamlyn Paige,” he said as he turned to leave the room.
It was the first time I was sorry to leave somewhere in a long time. I gave a deep sigh as I grabbed my bag and closed the motel door behind me. John pulled out of the parking lot in his beat up old car and drove out of sight.
After I returned the room key to the front
desk I tossed my duffel bag onto the passenger seat of my truck and climbed in.
As the engine roared to life I picked up my phone and checked the texts. There
were no new messages. I decided to drive wherever the roads took me while I
waited for the Chamber to message with my next job. It would be the closest
thing I had to a vacation, and after all everyone deserves a break once in a