Saturday, September 3, 2011
#samplesunday Ripple In Time - A WIP
"Okay, tell me again why Connecticut?" Casey Burgin asked, wiping the sweat out of her eyes as she geared down to take another rocky hill on the road from hell, which supposedly would lead to the cabin of their dreams.
Valerie Marsh grabbed for the door and dash as they hit another bump in the road, wondering not for the first time if Casey's beat up '97 CRV was going to make it to the cabin. "You said you wanted something off the beaten path." She grinned as the road finally evened out. "You have to admit this is definitely not a beaten path."
Casey slowed to a snail's pace as overgrown tree branches closed in around them. "I don't think anyone has been up this path in years, Val. Where the hell did you find this place?"
Valerie pouted and pulled out the brochure, tossing it across the seat. "Someone mailed it to me right after my last art show. Said it was just the kind of place for my paintings."
Casey cast a quick sideways look, eyebrows raised and jaw set as they hit another rut in the road. "Meaning?"
Valerie shrugged. "I guess because of the lady in white."
Casey cursed under her breath, rolling her eyes toward the heavens. "Another lady in white? I mean, what is that about 20 in the last two years? I think every state has one."
"Not like this one," Valerie smirked. "She's been documented on video and photographs."
"Oh, and that makes it real." Casey grimaced, avoiding another hole in the road. "Do you have any idea how much of that stuff turns out to be fake every year?"
Valerie sat back in her seat and stared at the passing countryside. "I'd know if she was fake. There's something here, Casey. Something really strange. I can feel it."
Casey turned a corner and the cabin came into view. "And just where is this lady in white supposed to materialize? You can't expect me to maneuver up and down this God-forsaken road in the dark."
Valerie shook her head. "A lot of people have seen her along Route 59 and inside the Union Cemetery. They say she actually darts in front of passing cars. One driver even thought he'd hit someone the night she darted in front of him, but they could never find a body even though there was a dent in the hood of the car. A lot of renowned ghost hunters have been here. One group even documented hearing a woman weeping one night in the cemetery."
Casey pulled up in front of the cabin and parked turning to give Valerie her best "you're kidding me look". "Really, Val? A woman weeping in a cemetery. That would sure convince me it was haunted," she replied sarcastically as she looked at her home away from home for the next month. She was already thinking the cabin was a perfect backdrop for "The Hills Have Eyes" when the front door opened and a perfect character for the next "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movie walked out.
"Who the hell is that?" She whispered.
Valerie grabbed the brochure, stuffed it in her purse and opened the door of the CRV with a smile. "If you'd read the brochure you'd know. That's our landlord, Mr. Jenson."
Casey followed her from the vehicle at a much slower pace. She wasn't afraid of ghosts, or anything already dead. It was the living you had to worry about.
Landlord my ass. That man's the next serial killer in my newest novel, and you can bet a sweet penny I'll be pushing furniture against my bedroom door every night.
Shaking the proffered hand, Valerie continued to smile while fighting the urge to rush inside and wash her hand. There was no way she was going to let Casey know the sight of Mr. Jenson had totally freaked her out. The picture on the brochure had to be from another century when he still looked human. The bony fingers that had clasped hers were cold and stiff, belying the 90 degree temperature outside the cabin.
"Mr. Jenson, this is my friend Casey Burgin. You may have heard of her, she has several best sellers on the market."
Casey shot Valerie a withering glare as the cold bony fingers closed around her hand. "Nice to meet 'ya. Afraid I don't read much." Handing Valerie the key, he stepped down from the porch. "Live about a mile south of here. You girls need anything you just let me know."
Casey and Valerie stood on the porch watching as he shuffled slowly down the overgrown lane and disappeared into the trees. Casey wiped her hand on her jeans. "You can't tell me you didn't find him just a little creepy, Val."
Opening the screen Valerie stepped inside the cabin calling over her shoulder. "With the things you write and things I paint, most people find us a little creepy. He's probably just a nice old man."
Casey doubted that, but followed her inside pleasantly surprised that although the cabin was small, it was immaculate. She'd imagined a ratty old sofa with rusted springs, and spider web covered furniture. Peering into the bedrooms she called out. "I've got dibs on the blue room. The view is gorgeous."
Valerie joined her at the window. "See, told you you'd like it here. You can set up right here in front of the window and kill all the people you want."
Casey grinned at her, flopping on the bed. "Yeah, but what about you?"
Valerie continued to stare out the window. "Mr. Jenson says there's a clearing about a quarter of a mile from here that I might find interesting."
Casey sat up, pulling her knees to her chest and resting her chin on her knees. "I don't like the idea of you going out there alone. Especially to some place he recommends. He may be a sweet old man, but there's something in his eyes that sent chills down my spine."
Valerie nodded. She'd felt it too, but then she often had that chilled feeling. Especially when she was painting. "Let's get unpacked. I saw a grill out back, and you're cooking tonight."
Casey groaned leaving the comfort of the bed. She hated cooking. "I saw a nice bed and breakfast on the edge of town. If we stayed there we could order room service."
Valerie chuckled. "And miss all this ambience? You can't tell me you don't already have a murder rolling around underneath that curly mass."
# # #
Two hours later unpacked, fed and feeling the effects of the long drive they retired to the porch swing with a bottle of wine. Nightfall was descending fast and a multitude of sounds cascaded from the forest. Valerie could tell Casey was itching to get started on her new novel. She felt the same itch, wanting to grab her easel and paints. Standing up she stretched and turned toward the cabin. "I'm calling it a night. I want to make an early start in the morning."
Casey refilled her glass and sipped it, enjoying the cool breeze that had sprung up. "Go ahead. I'll lock up."
Valerie woke to the sound of muted voices, rising and falling in a song-like crescendo. Rolling over she punched the pillow, irritated at the thought of sharing their getaway with other campers. Mr. Jenson had promised they would be the only ones in a ten mile radius. Closing her eyes she allowed the warmth of the bed coupled with the cool air from the air conditioner to lull her back to the pre-sleep stage. A blood-curdling scream broke the silence of the night as a thin line of hairs stood up all over her body. Tossing back the covers she sprang from the bed. Casey.