Excerpt for The Boylan House Trilogy by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Boylan House Trilogy

Ron Ripley

Copyright © 2015 by ScareStreet.com

All rights reserved.

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Keeping it spooky,

Ron Ripley

Table of Contents

Book 1: The Boylan House

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Book 2: Discoveries

Chapter 1: 12:01 AM, November 1st, 2015, Monson

Chapter 2: “What is Liam Boylan?”

Chapter 3: Reading the Sealed Letter

Chapter 4: Finding Sheriff Harold Philips

Chapter 5: James Knows Everyone

Chapter 6: 3:00 PM, November 1st, 2015, The Boylan House

Chapter 7: 3:15 PM, November 1st, 2015, Harold Philips

Chapter 8: 7:00 PM, November 2nd, 2015, Route 122, Monson

Chapter 9: 8:30 PM, November 2nd, 2015, The Home of Harold Philips

Chapter 10: Father Moran and Father Alexander

Chapter 11: 6:13 PM, November 8th, 2015, The Home of Harold Philips

Chapter 12: 7:00 AM, November 15th, 2015, The Boylan House

Book 3: The Deadwood Throne

Chapter 1: 7:05 AM, November 15th, 2015, The Boylan House

Chapter 2: Mason Philips in the Boylan House

Chapter 3: Father Peter Moran in the Boylan House

Chapter 4: Father Stathi Alexander in the Boylan House

Chapter 5: James Markarian in the Boylan House

Chapter 6: The Second Floor of the Boylan House

Chapter 7: Within Liam Boylan’s Darkness

Chapter 8: Harold Philips and Julie Markarian

Chapter 9: The Whispering in the Woods

Chapter 10: Father Stathi Alexander in the Glade of the Dead

Chapter 11: Harold and Julie at the Boylan House

Chapter 12: Mason Philips and Liam Boylan

Chapter 13: Harold, Julie, and the Zippo

Chapter 14: Trapped in the Forest of Liam Boylan

Chapter 15: Harold and Julie and Meeting House Road

Chapter 16: 8:00 AM, December 8th, 2015, Mason Philips’ Home

Bonus Scene Chapter 1: 4:30 PM, Monson, September 21st, 1946, Monson

Bonus Scene Chapter 2: 5:15 PM, October 31st, 1945, Monson

Bonus Scene Chapter 3: 5:45 PM, October 31st, 1945, The Henderson House

Bonus Scene Chapter 4: 6:00 PM, October 31st, 1945, The Swamp Trail

Bonus Scene Chapter 5: 4:45 PM, September 21st, 1946, Monson

Bonus Scene Chapter 6: 6:20 PM, October 31st, 1945, The Boylan House

Bonus Scene Chapter 7: 7:30 PM, October 31st, 1945, Harold’s House

Bonus Scene Chapter 8: 5:05 PM, September 21st, 1946, The Boylan House

Preview of Moving In Chapter 1: The New House

Preview of Moving In Chapter 2: Danny Collier’s Hunting Trip

Preview of Moving In Chapter 3: Brian and Jenny in the House

Preview of Moving In Chapter 4: Brian and the Furnace Technician

Preview of Moving In Chapter 5: Officer Sal Merkins

Preview of Moving In Chapter 6: Brian, Jack, and the Unlit Room

FREE Bonus Novel!

Book 1: The Boylan House

Chapter 1

The Boylan House stood at the end of Meeting House Road in Monson, New Hampshire.

As far as the residents of Monson – all thirty-six-hundred of them – were concerned, the house had always been there.

The house was huge, an ancient beast of a building with a wraparound porch that seemed to beckon the unwary. The colors, perhaps stunning and sensual at one time, had bled into a dull monotony that spoke more of sickness than anything else. A center tower reached up a full story above the first two and, unbeknownst to those who dared a closer look, there were trap doors in the porch’s roof, close to the house.

The few windows, on each side of the house, were narrow and set back into the thick walls. Sturdy shutters stood open, but were able to be closed when needed. There were two doors to the house, one in the front, and one the rear. If there had not been the road which ended in front of the house, no one would have known the front from the back. Everything about the house was identical, including the two doors. They were made of thick planks of old oak, bound by iron.

No power ran to the house, and no sewer either. Where the water might come from, if there were water, was also a fair question. The Hassle Brook, which had run near the Boylan House four centuries before, had long since shifted its course. As it was, the Boylan House stood silently upon its hill and looked down upon the world.

Taxes were paid out by way of a trust fund. The checks arrived yearly, on the fifteenth of August, issued by the law firm of Boylan, O’Connor, and Gunther.

The residents of Monson believed that the Boylan House had always been haunted.

Chapter 2

Mason pulled into an open parking space on Monson’s Main Street and fished around in his ashtray for quarters. He found half a dozen of them amongst the legion of pennies, nickels, and dimes. Holding onto them tightly, he got out of his pickup and closed the door. Ignoring the smell of oil slipping out of the old Dodge’s crankcase, Mason stepped up to the parking meter.

The dull gray meter sign read: “No time limit. $.25 = 30 minutes.”

Mason looked at his watch. It was ten thirty. He would have to come back and feed meter dimes by one thirty the latest, if he needed more time.

Mason fed the quarters into the meter slowly, making sure that each one bought some time. He didn’t want to end up with a parking ticket because he was in too much of a rush.

And he was in a rush.

Mason went back to the truck, opened the passenger side door and grabbed his carry case. He didn’t bother locking the doors. If somebody really needed the change in the ashtray, or would even bother to crack the steering column and hot-wire the damned thing, well, more power to them.

His only concern was the Boylan House. It was October twenty-seventh, just a few days away from Halloween and the urban legend that had haunted him for the better part of his life.

Chapter 3

Halloween. 1980. Meeting House Road.

Mason stood on the road dressed as a Stormtrooper. The vinyl coveralls that served as the black and white uniform were loud as he moved. The elastic of the plastic Stormtrooper mask was biting into his scalp, and the battered Star Wars pillowcase was heavy with candy in his hands.

He looked at the Boylan House, a single light shining through a window on the second floor. His cousins, Matthew and Luke, stood beside him. Both of them were older. Matthew was Han Solo and Luke was, well, Luke was Luke Skywalker.

A few of Mason’s cousins’ friends were with them, all of them dressed as Star Wars characters. Mason’s mom had dropped him off. She was pulling the night shift at the Memorial Hospital ER in Nashua. His dad hadn’t been around for years.

Aunt Margaret had been happy to have him. Nobody wanted Mason to miss Halloween. Including Mason.

But he wasn’t too happy about being at the Boylan House.

There was something wrong about the place.

It just didn’t feel right.

“I’m going up there,” Kevin, one of Matthew’s friends said. “Anybody else?”

No one answered.

“Bunch of queers,” Kevin laughed, sliding his Darth Vader mask up on top of his head.

Kevin was a mean boy. But he hadn’t done anything mean to Mason, or to anybody else that night. And just as Mason knew that there was something wrong with the Boylan House, he knew that Kevin was mean.

“Come on, Matt,” Kevin said, sneering at Mason’s cousin. “Don’t be such a girl.”

Matthew only shook his head, and Mason saw, in the moonlight, that his cousin’s eyes were wet with tears. Matthew was too afraid to even answer.

A soft wind rustled the tops of the trees, the remaining dry desiccated leaves making a low, rattling sound.

“You’re a bitch,” Kevin said in a low voice and Mason heard the threat of violence in it.

“I’ll go,” Mason said.

Kevin’s head snapped to the right to look at him. Surprise replaced the sneer that the older boy had been wearing. But the sneer quickly came back. “How old are you?”

“Seven,” Mason answered.

Again, the look of surprise.

Mason knew he looked younger. His mother always talked about it.

Kevin shook his head, grudging admiration in his voice as he said, “Well, hot damn. Kid, let’s make this happen.” Kevin handed his bag of candy off to a boy named Chad.

“I’ll hold yours,” Luke said softly.

“Thanks,” Mason said, letting his cousin take the pillowcase.

“Are you okay?” Luke asked him.

Mason nodded, his throat suddenly too dry for him to speak.

Kevin started walking up the slight hill towards the Boylan House. Mason followed a few steps behind. The older boy glanced back to make sure Mason was there, and Mason saw a flicker of relief on the older boy’s face.

It seemed to take a terribly long time to get to the Boylan House’s front door.

Mason had never seen a door so large. It towered over both of them. Above the door, was a trap door, set into the overhang of the second story and barely visible in the moonlight.

Mason noticed how silent the world suddenly seemed to be, as he stood there, waiting.

The insects and the night animals had seemingly been robbed of their voices. The wind had vanished, and an ancient, sickening smell rose up from the grass beneath their feet. The temperature had dropped sharply, and Mason suddenly felt sick to his stomach; the American chop suey that Aunt Margaret had made threatening to come back up.

In front of Mason, Kevin had noticeably stiffened, a visible tremor in his hands. Instantly, Mason felt sorry for the older boy, even if Kevin was mean.

Kevin was scared.

But both Mason and Kevin knew that the older boy had to do something, even if it was just knocking on that huge and frightening front door.

Mason watched as Kevin took a deep breath, and put his Darth Vader mask back on his face, the older boy’s body tensing as he raised his right hand and closed it into a fist.

Movement caught Mason’s eye and he looked up.

The trap door above them was opening.

Mason stood frozen, petrified and unable to scream as Kevin knocked, ever so softly, upon the thick and ancient wood of the door.

A pale, white hand shot down from the trap door.

The wrist and forearm, as pale as the hand, vanished into the depths of a black sleeve while the long, yellow-nailed fingers buried themselves in Kevin’s loose blonde curls.

With a sudden jerking motion, the hand dragged Kevin up through the trap door and into the house.

Kevin and Mason’s screams drowned out the closing of the trap door.

Kevin’s shrieks were suddenly silenced and Mason turned and sprinted for the road. Mason's own screaming triggered that of the other boys and sent them racing back along Meeting House Road.

Mason raced after them, breathless, in the October moonlight.

Chapter 4

The Monson librarian looked at him in surprise as she unlocked the door, while he climbed up the last few granite steps.

“Is this a first?” he asked, grinning as she held the door open for him.

She smiled. “It is,” she said, “I’ve never had someone waiting to use the library before.”

“I’m Mason,” he said, extending his hand.

“Julie,” the young woman said, shaking his hand. “Come on in.”

“Thank you,” Mason said.

As the door closed behind them, she asked, “Is there anything that I can help you with today?”

“Well,” Mason said, walking beside her towards the front desk, “I was wondering if you have a local history section.”

“You’re in luck,” Julie said, walking around the desk and taking a key off of a hook hanging on the wall. “We have a large local history section, which I’m sure is a complete surprise to you,” she smiled, “and we have both microfiche and microfilm machines.”

“Excellent,” Mason said.

“May I ask what it is you’re doing research on?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yes,” he said, “I’m doing some research on the Boylan House on Meeting House Road.”

Julie nodded. “Okay. Come on and follow me.”

She walked back around the desk and went to a closed door with a brass plate engraved with the name, “Gunther” upon it.

“This,” she said, fitting the key into the door’s lock, “is the Gunther Room. This is where we keep our local history materials, both published and unpublished work. Monson doesn’t have a historical society, so all of that stuff is in here, too. Letters, maps, journals; all of that good stuff. There’s even a filing cabinet of photographs.”

With that said, she turned the key, and opened the door slowly, taking the key out of the lock as she did so. Julie reached in and turned on the lights.

The room was small, but clean and organized. A large and old reading table with a green shaded brass lamp, dominated the room. Next to it, was an equally ancient reading chair. There was barely any room around the table to get at the shelves that were packed with books of various ages, and neatly-labeled gray manuscript boxes. A pair of sixteen over sixteen windows stood across from the door, letting in the late morning light. They looked out over the Monson cemetery. Row upon row of ancient headstones stood in precise order, with barely an inch or two between the sides of each stone and only a few feet between the rows.

“We’re open until four,” Julie said, stepping aside so Mason could enter the room. “Don’t worry about your truck,” she smiled. “I’ll give the police a call. My brother’s on duty today, he won’t write a ticket up on someone who’s actually using the library.”

“Thanks,” Mason said, turning to grin at her. “Is there a place that I could make copies, if I needed to? And also, I have a wand scanner, do you mind if I use that?”

“First,” she smiled, “I have a copier, and I can copy whatever you need me to. I’m pretty much caught up on my work, and I just finished a book last night that left me with a book hangover. I can’t start a new one until, at least, after lunch.”

“Understood completely,” Mason laughed.

Her smile widened. “And second, as for the scanner, that won’t be a problem at all. The only thing I ask when you’re using the Gunther Room is that you leave whatever you take off the shelves or out of the filing cabinet, on the reading table. Things get lost easily.”

“They do,” Mason said softly, looking into the room. “They do.”

Chapter 5

Halloween. 2000. Meeting House Road.

Matthew smoked nervously, a slight shake in his hand each time he brought the Lucky up to his lips. He looked over at Mason, clearly unhappy.

Mason sat on the lowered tailgate of his Dodge, a cup of Dunkin’s coffee in his hands. He looked steadily at his cousin.

“Why the hell are we even here?” Matthew asked, glancing up at the Boylan House.

“We’re waiting for darkness,” Mason answered.

“No shit we are,” Matthew responded. He finished the cigarette, dropped it on the pavement and ground the butt with his foot. Even as he did so, he was fishing his pack of smokes out from his jacket pocket and fumbling with his lighter. It took him a few times, but soon Mason’s cousin had the cigarette out of the pack, into his mouth and lit. He exhaled two streams of smoke sharply from his nose. “The last time we were here,” Matthew said, stabbing the cigarette in Mason’s direction, “Kevin Peacock got snatched and murdered by some goddamn child rapist.”

“You know that’s not true,” Mason said softly. “I don’t care how many times you tell yourself, or how many times the psychiatrist and my mom tried to tell me, that is not what happened, Matthew.”

“I don’t give a shit about what you believe,” Matthew said, smoking furiously. “They never found his body. End of story.”

“Why,” Mason said, taking a sip of his coffee, “did they never find his body, Matthew? They searched for days. Hell, they even brought the National Guard and the Marine Reserve units in to search for Kevin’s body.”

“They didn’t find his body,” Matthew snapped, “because there're a hundred acres of wetlands and conservation land behind the damn place.”

He refused to look at the Boylan House, keeping his eyes on Mason instead.

And Mason could see the fear in his cousin’s eyes. It was deep, old and painful.

“I’m sorry for bringing you out here,” Mason said sincerely. “I just wanted someone with me. You’re the only one I trust enough.”

Matthew merely nodded.

Mason started to take another drink of his coffee when Matthew stopped him with a horrified, “Look.”

Mason looked up and saw it.

A single light had come on in the upper left-hand window as night finally settled in completely over Monson.

If they had been in the town, where the electrical wires were strung from pole to pole, and pole to the house, he would have believed that there was a light on a timer. But Mason knew better. Mason knew there was something more.

He set his coffee down on the Dodge’s tailgate and jumped off of it. “Watch my coffee,” Mason said.

Matthew nodded, as he stared at the Boylan house, the cigarette quickly burning down between his fingers.

Wiping his own nervous sweat off his palms and onto his jeans, Mason started walking up the small hill towards the front of the Boylan House.

His childhood fear came rushing back, settling into his bowels and threatening control over his bladder. He felt like a kid again; following Kevin Peacock, never realizing the simple act of walking up to that house would haunt every night’s sleep.

Mason straightened his back and clenched his teeth as he approached the house.

Soon, he stood before it. Mason looked at the door and at the house. Nothing had changed; the air was still; the insects and animals were silent. Something stank beneath the grass.

“Do you remember me?” Mason asked. “Was this real? Was there something here that took the boy? Or did he simply get lost or snatched by some murderer?”

A soft creak answered his question. As if someone was walking in the house, just above the second floor.

Mason looked up and saw the trap door which he had long ago seen open.

A slow, casual opening. No sudden jerking motion. Just a smooth pulling up of the trap.

Something black fell down, landing gently on the granite doorstep. The trap door closed with a whisper.

With a mouth that was suddenly and painfully dry, Mason forced himself to move forward, keeping an eye on both the door and the trap door. When he was close enough to squat down and reach out, he did so.

His hands closed on plastic, but he didn’t look at it. Mason kept his eyes on both doors.

He couldn’t trust the house.

Mason straightened up, walked backward a dozen feet down the hill, then turned and forced himself to walk calmly down to where Matthew was standing. His cousin had a fresh cigarette shaking in his hands, and he looked at Mason, asking, “What’s that?”

He put the item on the truck bed and stared at it. Matthew came and stood beside him.

“Oh damn,” Matthew whispered.

On the heavily scraped and worn bed of Mason’s Dodge pickup, next to his cup of quickly cooling coffee, was a mask. A thin, plastic, Darth Vader mask.

Chapter 6

Mason sat at the reading table, his back to the graveyard and the library visible through the open doorway of the Gunther Room. It had taken him half an hour to find the earliest records from when Monson was first incorporated, back in the seventeenth century.

The records were written on large pages bearing the King’s stamp, and the paper was protected in archival Mylar sleeves that allowed him to read but not damage the pages. There were cotton gloves in the gray manuscript box, but Mason didn’t want to handle the pages.

He wanted to scan through them, not take in-depth notes. He was only looking for information on the Boylan House.

It didn’t take him long to find it.

A reformed Papist by the name of Liam Boylan has come to us by the Grace of God. He has begun the construction of a Garrison House along the Road to the Meeting House.”

This had been written in 1674, although there was no name attached to the document. The rest concerned conflict amongst the local Abenaki tribe. Complaints about the theft of cattle and the pillaging of corn.

Mason moved to the next page and froze as his eyes rested on a sentence.

Young Master Goodwin, aged 15 years, has disappeared while working on the edge of South Field near Liam Boylan’s home. Several Abenaki were seen watering cattle at the Hassle Brooke, earlier in the Day. It is feared that Young Master Goodwin has been taken by them, or murdered by the same.”

Taking his new notebook out of his carry case, Mason flipped it open, set it down upon the table and clicked his pen. He wrote down the information on Boylan and the murder.

Putting the pen down, Mason searched through several more documents, but found nothing of interest, until he came upon a page titled, The Boylan House. This had been written in the early nineteenth century and was privately printed by a Frederick Gunther, who was also the author.

The reason Mason had stopped was the first sentence of the first paragraph.

The residents of Monson secured themselves in the Meeting House and in the Boylan Garrison House when the rebellious Indians attacked. Of the two Houses, only the Meeting House would survive the initial attack unscathed. The Boylan House, however, would not be so fortunate.”

Mason quickly flipped through the document until he came to another mention of the house, a section headed, “The Massacre in the Boylan House.”

In late October, when the Indian allies of Philip were making their last raids before the winter snows, the village of Monson was once more attacked. They had barely recovered from an earlier raid on the town, having lost all of their sheep and most of their cattle to the marauding Indians. Their crops, too, had been destroyed. They were relying on the charity of the other towns and villages, in hopes that they might survive the harsh winter.

When the Indians raided Monson the second time, it was only by the sheerest chance that the local militia caught sight of the Indians sneaking in through the fields of the Boylan House.

Liam Boylan held the door for the militia as they came in, and it was through the benevolence of God, that all of the militia made it into that home unscathed. The remaining residents of Monson heard the scattered gunfire and fled to the Meeting House. It would hold those few hardy families which had remained in the village, following the first raid, earlier in the year.

Little, but hearsay, is known of what happened in the Boylan House during the twenty hours that the raid lasted. Those who were in the Meeting House were able to hear, in the pauses of their own battle for survival, the fighting taking place at the Boylan House. The fighting did not last nearly as long as it did for the Meeting House folk. Silence emanated from the Boylan House long before the Indians abandoned their efforts to gain access to the Meeting House.

The next morning, a hardy few left the safety of the Meeting House and made their way to the home of Liam Boylan. What they found outside the home was, what can only be considered as, the aftermath of a battle for survival. Blood stains could be seen upon the grass. There were broken arrows and scorch marks upon the exterior of the home where the Indians had attempted to set the house ablaze.

The men from the Meeting House hailed their neighbors in the Boylan House, but they received no answer. Cautiously, they approached and hammered loudly upon the door.

Still, they received no response. One of the men, Kendall Hall, noticed that the trap above the door was open and convinced his comrades to lift him up so that he might see what had befallen those within. Once inside, Kendall found himself in near darkness; the inner shutters of the second floor having been secured. He opened the shutters and became sick with horror at the sight which he found before him.

Two of the militiamen, who had been stationed at the Boylan House, were dead on the floor. Both of them killed with a small hand ax. The ax, however, was still buried in the back of one of the men. The two corpses, however, weren’t what disturbed Kendall, though.

Standing near the chimney, he saw that at some point, Liam Boylan had built some sort of false front around the chimney; false stones made of clay and attached to a wooden door. This door lay open, and within, were the skulls of children. A dozen of them.

After recovering from his horror, young Kendall Hall made his way down the stairs and to the front door. He threw back the locks and the bar to allow his comrades entrance. When they saw his face, they asked him what was wrong but he could only shake his head.

It was at that point, the men stated, that they heard a noise coming from the rear of the house.

The four of them raced to the back and found the rear door open. The last member of the three militiamen, who had been at the Boylan House, sat in the doorway, blood staining his shirt and three bullets in his chest. The shirt he wore, had been burned by the powder of the shots. A brace of pistols lay in the grass near him, as did a musket. His breathing was ragged, and he looked at his neighbors through the veil of death.

He motioned them closer, and Kendall Hall knelt down beside the man.

"They only wanted him," the man hissed, pain marking each word. ‘They only wanted him," and gestured towards the rear of the house, before taking his last breath.

Leaving the dead man, for a moment, the militiamen stepped out into the rear of the house. They looked around before one of them yelled in horror and cried, ‘Look!’ and the others did.

There, crucified to the rear of the house, was Liam Boylan. He had been stripped naked by the Indians and cut open as one would a pig. The remains of his innards lay in a charred pile by him. He had kept his head, but the Indians had peeled back the skin from his skull, leaving it as two flaps of meat on either side, the lidless eyes staring at them.

The men fled and returned to the Meeting House. There, they gathered more of the men, as well as the Reverend, and returned to the hideous scene. But what they found the second time, was even more disturbing than the first.

Liam Boylan’s body was gone. His innards still in a charred pile, and the spikes used to nail him to the house were still bloody and buried in the wood. The militiamen were still dead. But the skulls were gone as well.

The bodies were removed from the house, yet all that was Liam Boylan’s, even the precious books he had – and there had been many – were left upon their shelves. The doors were closed, and the people of Monson attempted to burn the Boylan House to the ground. Yet the fire would not catch.

They tried to take the house down piece by piece, yet nothing they did could separate board from board. Any teams, that came close by to try and hitch them to the beams, fled. One team brained a man, killing him.

It was with that death, that the efforts to tear down the Boylan House ceased. Since then, all residents of Monson have given the home a wide berth. Occasionally, people still go missing in Monson, but the disappearances are declared to be the misfortune of wandering around late in October; when the mist is known to rise, and one can easily become lost in the swamps and woods.”

Mason sat back and let a deep breath out. His hands were wet with perspiration. Wiping them off on his pants, Mason shook his head.

Standing, he stretched and thought about what he read.

The date had been 1675. That was the time of the King Philip’s War. The book was written much later. The writer, Mr. Gunther, could have taken serious liberties with the tale.

I need to look through more, Mason thought, returning to his seat. I need to see what else is there.

Once more, he leaned over the documents that were spread out before him and started to go through them. He scanned through decades of documents; the transfer of deeds and the sale of cattle. Farming disputes, the outbreak of the American Revolution. He didn’t find another mention of the Boylan House until October of 1865. A single page in the journal of a young woman.

My brother Elisha went missing last night.”

Mason jotted the information down and then set aside the document by Frederick Gunther to see if Julie could scan it for him. He rubbed his eyes, for a moment, before turning to the next set of documents; a collection of letters written by a Mister Elbridge Copp starting in 1899 and lasting until 1922.

He let his eyes wander over each page before flipping it. He stopped at 1910.

Dear Harold,” the letter began, “another child has disappeared into the wetlands behind Boylan House. There is, of course, the old superstitious fear that it is the house itself which has devoured the child. I think that they should throw up a fence around it. But, according to Erickson at the town hall, that is strictly forbidden by the contract which has been drawn up between the town and the law firm which pays the home’s taxes. Until they do, I fear that people shall continue to think that they can wander at will in a place where even the animals seem fearful to tread.

Law firm?

Mason jotted the information down. He needed to find out who they were, and if they still existed.

He needed to find out how many children had disappeared.

Chapter 7

Halloween. 2005. Meeting House Road.

It was the third time that Mason had come to Meeting House Road to stand before the Boylan House. This was the only time that he had come alone.

He sat on the tailgate of the truck. The same truck from five years ago, when Matthew had accompanied him. But Matthew was home, handing out candy while his wife and their two little ones were out trick or treating.

Rarely did anyone come down to the end of Meeting House Road anymore, and that was a good thing. No one had believed Mason’s story back in 1980. All of the adults had pawned his story off as just that, a story.

Mason knew better. His cousins had been convinced that Kevin Peacock had been snatched by someone, not some supernatural boogeyman that lived in an ancient house.

Mason was the only one who held onto what he had seen that night.

Five years had passed since the last time he stopped by, to visit his cousins. Mason would see them again in the morning. He had rented a room at a nearby motel. Tonight, though, was for the Boylan House.

Whatever was in the house – if there was something in the house, and not the creation of a frightened seven-year-old – seemed to have remembered him. Mason still had the Darth Vader mask; a none-too-subtle hint, that it knew who he was. Perhaps more than anything else, that notion bothered Mason the most. Something knew him there.

Something was playing with him.

Maybe it was the house. Maybe it was something else.

Reaching behind him, Mason took hold of the double barrel shotgun he had brought with him. It was a sawed off. Good for scaring the shit out of someone thinking that sneaking up on your porch was a good idea. Tonight, he had it packed with salt loads. Pure salt from a lick and in shell casings he had put together.

If something came at him tonight, whether human or not, it was going to get a taste of salt that would leave it feeling like hell.

Mason slid off the back of the truck and stood to look at the house.

A single lamp flickered into life in the upper left window. It moved slowly through all four of the second story windows, stopping finally at the far right.

Mason could feel his heart pounding.

But the shotgun was steady in his hands. Holding it easily, he flipped off the safety and started walking up the slight hill toward the front door. When he got about a dozen feet from the door, the light in the window vanished. Mason stopped. The old childhood fear burst up within him and threatened to send him racing back to the safety of his truck.

For the third time in his life, he encountered the abnormal and hideous silence that surrounded the house. The smell rose up around him, and every sense in his body told him that this was no place for him. That this was no place for anyone.

A creak sounded, soft and subtle, just barely audible, but there. The hackles on Mason’s neck rose up, and he stiffened.

In front of him, with only the light of the half-moon to show the door of the Boylan House, Mason saw something come down from the trap. As the item landed on the granite step, Mason moved forward with his weapon ready. He reached a shaking hand out and snatched up a burlap bag.

It was full, but light. Mason made his way back to his truck. Back to the safety of the Meeting House Road.

When he reached his truck, Mason put the safety on the shotgun, placed it on the truck bed and held up the burlap sack. He opened it and looked in. But he could hardly see anything. Drawing a deep breath, Mason put his hand in and fished around. He felt something that reminded him of old corn-silk and wrapped his fingers around it.

Taking it out slowly, Mason realized that he wasn’t holding corn-silk.

He was holding human hair. And the scalps that went along with it.

He looked closely at one.

The skin was white.

The hair was yellow.

A flicker of light caught Mason’s eye and he looked to the Boylan House. All of the windows had light shining from them and somewhere, just faintly, he could hear something laughing.

Chapter 8

“How’s it going in there?” Julie asked as Mason walked out into the main portion of the library.

“Better than expected,” Mason answered, smiling at her.

Julie smiled back. “So, can you talk about what you’re researching or is it a big secret?”

Mason laughed, shaking his head. “No,” he said, walking up to the desk and leaning against it, “not a big secret at all. Do you get a lot of people, in here, researching big secrets?”

“Oh yes,” she answered, rolling her eyes. “You have no idea. It’s mostly older people, researching the town’s history and whispering about scandals that they’ve uncovered. Information that will bring down the most influential of the town’s families.”

“Really?” Mason said, grinning. “I didn’t know that Monson was such a hotbed of activity.”

“Lascivious in nature, as well,” she winked, nodding.

Mason laughed out again. “Oh,” he sighed, “that’s good. No, my research isn’t about lust and passion in eighteenth century Monson.”

“Shame,” Julie said, “those Revolutionary folks really had some interesting habits.”

“I don't even want to know. I’m rather suspicious that it might involve farm animals and cold winter nights.”

It was Julie’s turn to laugh. “I thought that you said you weren’t researching the town’s most influential families.”

“No,” he said. “I’m researching something a little darker, I’m afraid.”

Julie looked at him with interest, the smile fading from her face. “What is it, if you don’t mind?”

“I don’t mind,” Mason said. “Do you know the Boylan House?”

“That’s the creepy house at the end of Meeting House Road, right?” she asked.

“That’s it,” he said nodding.

“Yes,” she said, frowning, “I know it. I’m not a fan of it. A few of my girlfriends went up there when we were seniors in high school. It was May, almost time to graduate and they decided they’d go up there and see what the fuss was about. Mary Ann, one of my friends, went up there, knocked on the door and ran. But nothing came out. No, boogeyman.”

“Wrong time of year,” Mason said softly.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Wrong time of year,” he said again, straightening up. He crossed his arms over his chest and smiled tiredly at her. “Things only happen at the Boylan House during the end of October. And, from what I can see, by the little research that I’ve done so far, only boys seem to be the victims.”

“So, why are you researching the Boylan House,” she said.

“I don’t mean to be rude, or crass, but that place is, well, creepy as hell.”

“You’ll get no argument from me,” Mason said. “I was there when something far beyond creepy happened.”

“What happened?” she asked.

“Do you know anything about this town?” he asked in turn.

“Yes,” she nodded. “I grew up here. Plus, just being around as a librarian, you kind of poke around and see what’s old and what’s new. Sometimes it gets really slow in here, and I read some extremely unusual things.”

“Well,” Mason said, “did you know that a boy went missing back in 1980?”

Julie thought about the question for a minute. “I think I read something about it in one of the local histories. It happened around Halloween, right?”

“Right,” Mason answered. “It actually happened on Halloween night.”

“Yes,” she said, nodding, “they think that someone was squatting in the house, grabbed the boy and left his body out in the swamp somewhere.”

“That’s the theory,” Mason agreed. “It’s not what happened, though.”

Julie raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

He nodded.

“How do you know?”

“I was one of the boys with Kevin Peacock that night,” Mason said. “The boy that disappeared.”

“What happened?”

“Do you think that you’d believe me?”

She looked at him, confused. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“No one did,” Mason said, “I was seven years old. Kevin walked up to the door of the Boylan House and knocked on it. I was with him.”

“Then why wouldn’t they have believed you?” Julie asked. “If you were there, it seems completely logical that they would talk to you and take your statement.”

“They did talk to me,” Mason said. “And they did take my statement. But they didn’t believe me. They tried for over a decade to get me to, well, ‘remember correctly’ but I never did.”

“Well,” she said, “will you tell me what you saw?”

Mason thought for a long moment, before nodding. “There is one thing, though,” he said.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Even if you think that I’m absolutely insane, will you please let me keep researching? I’m not done, and Halloween is coming up fast.”

“Yes,” she said, without hesitation. “I promise.”

“Thank you,” Mason asked and breathed easier, realizing that his chest had been tightening. Julie sat looking up at him, a coffee cup cradled in her hands.

“Kevin was trying to get my cousin, Matthew, to go up to the Boylan House with him. He was riding Matthew pretty hard about it,” Mason said, “and Matthew wasn’t the type of kid to stand up well to peer pressure. I wasn’t exactly a meek kind of kid myself, but I wanted Kevin to leave Matthew alone. Obviously, I couldn’t have fought Kevin, he was twelve or thirteen, like Matthew, almost twice my size. I was a tough kid, but I wasn’t an idiot. Kevin only wanted someone to go up to the house with him. I told him I would.”

“Screw that,” Julie said. “I’m an adult, and I wouldn’t go up to that house. Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Mason smiled. “That’s okay. Anyway, I went up to the house with him and, like you said, the place is creepy as hell.”

Julie nodded her agreement.

“I was standing behind him, just a little bit. I was dressed as a Stormtrooper. Kevin was dressed as Darth Vader. Now these were the 1980 costumes, a plastic pull-down mask and a vinyl jumpsuit that tied in the back. That’s important to remember, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, taking a sip of her coffee.

“As I stood behind him, and he raised his hand to knock, a trap door above us opened.”

Julie’s eyes widened, and she looked like she wanted to ask a question, but she stopped herself.

“I was terrified,” Mason said. “I mean I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t move. This white hand shot down, grabbed Kevin by the hair and dragged him up into the house.”

What the hell?!” she asked.

Mason nodded.

“Are you serious?” Julie asked.


Well, why the hell didn’t they believe that?” Julie asked.

“Because none of the other boys saw it,” Mason said. “Turns out they weren’t looking. They looked when they heard Kevin and myself screaming, and all they saw was me. Standing at the door, alone. So, they ran.”

“They ran? They left you?” she asked.

“Of course they did,” Mason smiled gently. “They were kids. I was a kid. I ran, too.”

“But you just saw him pulled into the house,” Julie said. “That’s understandable. But why didn’t the police believe you?”

“Because when they went into the house, there was no one in there. No sign of Kevin ever having been in there. Downstairs had the remains of somebody’s camp. Old canned food. Remains of a fire. A blanket roll, some other stuff. The police figured that whoever grabbed Kevin had done it and got out right away. But, they said that he couldn’t have possibly dragged Kevin up through the trap door. The dust up there hadn’t been disturbed in decades.”

Julie shook her head. “Kids know what they see.”

“That’s what I figure,” Mason agreed.

“Okay,” Julie said, taking a sip of her coffee, “why are you researching the house? I know the stories, about how kids have disappeared around it for years. But as far as I know, the kid you talked about is the only one who was ever documented. People say the house is haunted, but that’s just an urban legend, you know?” she said, “a boogeyman story that kids tell to scare each other.”

“See,” Mason said, “that’s why I’m researching the house. I’m trying to find out whether I’m simply crazy, or whether there really is a boogeyman in the Boylan House. Now, do you remember what costumes Kevin Peacock and I were wearing?”

“You were a Stormtrooper, and he was Darth Vader, right?”

“Right,” he said. “Now, those masks were plastic. Cheap plastic that barely survived their one night of use on Halloween, and really got beat to hell once they were played with. So, I’ve been to the Boylan House twice since Kevin went missing. The second time in 2000, I went with my cousin, Matthew. He didn’t want to go. He believed that I remembered everything wrong.”

“That sucks,” Julie said, frowning.

“Yeah,” Mason agreed. “But he did come with me. It was Halloween again, and we went to Meeting House Road. He stayed on the road, I walked up to the house. Just before I got to the front door, something was dropped from the trap door.”


“Kevin’s Darth Vader mask.”

“Bullshit” she said. “Oh, sorry!”

“No worries,” Mason smiled. “That’s pretty much what I felt.”

“Have you been back since?” she asked.

“Only once. It’ll be ten years ago this coming Halloween.”

“Did anything happen?”

Mason nodded.

“What?” she asked, leaning forward.

“Whatever is in the house dropped something else.”

Julie looked at him. “What was it?”

“A bag,” Mason said, pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes. “A small bag with scalps in it.”

Julie inhaled sharply, and Mason opened his eyes.

Surprisingly, she didn’t have an expression of concern for his mental well-being on her face. She was shocked and disgusted.

“Scalps,” she said in a low voice.


What type of scalps?” she asked.

“Small scalps,” Mason answered. “Caucasians mostly. A few Native Americans.”

“Oh Jesus Christ,” she murmured. “They were real?”

He nodded. “I brought them to an old professor of archeology down at the University of Connecticut. Nice man. I lied and told him that I had picked up an old chest at a flea market in Hollis and found the bag in a false bottom. I asked him if they were real, and he took a look at them.”

“And they were,” she said.

“Yes,” Mason said. “He told me that he couldn’t put a definite age on them, but that he felt fairly certain that they were late seventeenth, maybe early eighteenth centuries. He wanted me to leave them with the University for further study, maybe add them to the University’s collection. I told him that I would bring them back when I could, but that I’d purchased the trunk with another buyer and had to speak to him before I made any decision like that.”

“Do you still have them?” Julie asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I still have the Darth Vader mask, too.”

“Wow,” she said.

Mason nodded. His throat hurt. He hadn’t spoken at such length in a long time.

“Are you okay?” she asked.


“You look like there’s something wrong.”

Mason smiled. “I’m not used to speaking so much. I don’t talk to too many people these days; and definitely not as much as I’ve spoken to you.”

“Well, thank you,” Julie smiled, “I’m flattered.”

Mason felt his face get hot, and Julie’s smile widened.

“So,” Julie said, standing up, “would you like a cup of coffee?”

“Yes,” Mason smiled. “I would love a cup of coffee. Am I allowed to drink it in here?”

“Of course not,” she laughed, “but I’m the only one here, and I’m not going to say anything about it. Come on around the desk,” she grinned, motioning him to follow her. “Let’s get some coffee.”

Chapter 9

Halloween. 1977. The Boylan House.

Marcus came out of the woods somewhere in a town called Monson. He was tired. He’d been walking all day. His backpack was heavy, his feet were sore and night was setting. He needed a place to sleep. A glance at the sky showed that the clouds rolling in from the east were thunderheads. An October rainstorm in New England promised to be a miserable experience, and Marcus wanted nothing of it.

He followed a small trail that led through a field, heavy with grass gone to seed. Birds continued their calls and at some point, he scared a small animal, sending it rushing away, the grass waving ever so slightly as it sought refuge.

Marcus didn’t need to hunt anything, tonight. He had plenty of canned food, and even a little bit of money tucked away in his boot from the last job down in Nashua.

The trail turned and emptied onto a dirt road. Looking down to the left, Marcus saw a pair of houses and a single street lamp marking the road. The houses were well lit, and he could make out Halloween decorations from where he stood.

Damn, he thought. It’s Halloween. Can’t go that way.

Marcus turned to the left and saw a large house, ancient and dark and on a small hill on the left of the road, set back just a little.

No driveway. No cars. No lights.

The place looked abandoned.

In good shape. But definitely empty.

I need to make sure, though, he thought.

Adjusting the pack on his back, Marcus moved forward, keeping to the growing shadows and making his way around to the right. The road ended a hundred yards further down, and Marcus stuck to it. He could smell water and rot. There was a swamp nearby. A good thing to remember.

Fifteen minutes later, Marcus had managed to make his way close to the back of the house. He pulled his binoculars out of a side pouch, brought them up and focused them on the window to the far right.


He moved on to each window and saw nothing. No appliances. No furniture. Nothing.

Marcus smiled and put the binoculars away. He approached the house carefully. His eyes darted from window to window as he made his way to the back door.


At the door, he found an old iron latch and hinges made of iron as well, and massive boards. The house, he realized, was ancient. Maybe even a landmark. Something on the historical register. But there were no signs. Nothing.

Marcus tried opening the door and found it unlocked. He pushed it open and stepped into the house. The fading light showed him that the home had stood empty for years.

Possibly decades.

The depth of dust on the floor was thick. Not even rodent tracks cut through.

Curious, Marcus thought as he stepped in and closed the door behind him.

It sounded like the house sighed.

Marcus looked around nervously, for a moment. But his stomach grumbled, and he knew he needed to eat. And he knew he needed shelter from the weather.

Just one night, he told himself. Just one night.

He walked over to the huge chimney that stood in the center of the house. There was only one room, a giant one that filled the entire first floor. A set of stairs, running along the far wall, went to the second floor. But Marcus had no desire to go up there.

He removed his pack, put it down, and took his flannel shirt off. He used his shirt to sweep away a spot on the floor so that he could sit down without being coated in dust. With that finished, he put the shirt down on one side to be shaken out later and opened his pack. From it, he took his P-38 can opener, a can of peaches, a can of corn and a can of Dinty Moore beef stew. His spoon and canteen followed.

He probably had half an hour before it would be too dark to eat.

Marcus didn’t waste any time. He quickly opened each of the cans, neatly stacked the lids on the hearthstone of the chimney, and then began to eat.

It took him only a few minutes to finish off the corn and the beef stew. He was working his way through the can of peaches, when he heard a noise from the upper floor.

Marcus put the can on the floor and pulled his pocket knife out. It wasn’t much, but it would be enough to let him either work out a deal with another squatter or get the hell out with his gear.

He looked up at the large beams and the wide floor boards.

The creaks crossed the second floor to the stairs.

Marcus tightened his grip on the knife. Someone started to descend the stairs and pure blackness descended upon the room.

Marcus’ heart started racing and his hand was sweating upon the knife.

The creaking continued, the footsteps descending. Suddenly, they stopped, and Marcus tried to control the fear racing through him. He tried to remember where his pack was, where the exit was. He was confused, and his thoughts were racing.

I have to get out, he said to himself.

He leaned forward, reaching out with his left hand, seeking the pack. His hand touched the rough wool of his bedroll, and he sighed, grasping the blanket and pulling the pack to him. Good, thank God, he sighed.

“Yes,” a deep voice said suddenly in his ear. “Yes, you’ll do fine.”

And Marcus screamed as something cold closed upon his neck.

Chapter 10

Mason rubbed his eyes and sat back into the chair. The microfilm reader hummed loudly, waiting for him to put in another spool.

But Mason was done. He was up to date.

Terribly up to date.

A stack of photocopies, printed off from the machine, stood beside his empty cup of coffee. The stack was nearly an inch high. There were dozens upon dozens of articles about missing boys from around the area.

“How are you doing?” Julie asked, coming around the small wall that separated the microfilm and microfiche readers from the stacks of books.

“I’m okay,” Mason said. “I finished.”

“Really?” she asked. “That was a lot of newspapers you had to go through.”

“Not really,” he said. “I focused only on October. There might be others, rarities, I would think, but I focused on October.” Mason patted the pile of photocopies.

“Damn,” she said softly. “That many?”

“Yes and no,” Mason said, standing up and stretching.

“How is it ‘no’?” Julie asked.

“Well,” Mason said, “I figure that Liam Boylan has been killing boys since the late seventeenth century. If he continued to do this after he was crucified and killed, he’s only been taking a few boys here and there. This stack,” he said, picking it up, “these articles represent missing boys in the surrounding area for the past two hundred years. There can’t be more than fifty here. He takes one every so often. Just enough to sate whatever appetite that he has, just enough to leave an urban legend behind him.”

“Fifty?” Julie asked in a low voice.

“Fifty,” Mason nodded. “And that’s just what we have recorded in newspapers from the time. Remember, we don’t know exactly what happened before that. But that book by Gunther mentions previous incidents.”

“Unbelievable,” Julie muttered. Then in a louder voice she asked, “Are you done?”

“For now,” he nodded. He pushed the chair back on its wheels. He stood up and stretched and saw her smiling at him.

He smiled back, and she blushed slightly. “Come on up to the front,” she said after a moment, “we’ll have another cup of coffee.” She glanced up to the clock above the microfilm machine. “And we’ve got to close up, around, I don’ know, say fifteen minutes.”

“Sounds good,” Mason said. He put the copies into his carry case which had become pregnant with the amount of material he had copied and notes he’d made. Turning the microfilm reader off, he smiled at Julie once more and followed her as she led him out towards the front of the library.

Only a few people had come in throughout the day, and none of them had paid much attention to Mason. Now, the library was empty except for Mason and the librarian again.

They walked behind the front desk, and Mason put his carry case on the desk as Julie walked into the small back office. She returned, just a moment later, with two mugs of hot, black coffee.

“Thank you,” he said, taking one from her.

“You’re welcome,” she smiled, sitting down.

Mason sat down after her. He took a sip and smiled at the strength and richness of the coffee.

“Well,” Julie said after a moment, “what’s your next step?”

“I need to find out if there’s a pattern, a schedule, if there’s even anything really to it,” Mason said. “Halloween’s in three days, and I don’t know if boys disappear every year, every other year, every five years or what exactly,” he sighed. “I don’t know if I really saw what I saw. Or if I’m mad, or what. I just know that boys go missing. And they aren’t found again when they go too close to the Boylan House.”

“So you want to see if it’s just terrible coincidences or something sinister?”

“Exactly,” Mason nodded.

Julie took a sip of her coffee, her brow furrowing, and then she smiled. “Do you want me to talk to my brother?” she asked.

Mason looked at her, confused. “About what?”

“About the Boylan House,” she said.

“Why?” he asked.

“You said that things happen at the end of October,” Julie said, “and you want to figure something out by Halloween.”


“If you figure it out, or even if you don’t figure it out,” Julie said, “I could ask my brother to go to the Boylan House on Halloween.”

Mason straightened up in his seat. “Do you think that I could go with your brother, or meet him there?”

“I’ll give him a call tonight,” she said. “Do you want to stop by tomorrow? I can tell you what he said.”

“You open at 10:30, right?” Mason asked.

“Yes,” Julie answered.

“How about we meet at Anne’s Diner across the street for breakfast,” Mason said, smiling. “My treat.”

“I’d like that,” she said, hiding her smile behind her coffee mug. “I’d like that a lot.”

Chapter 11

November 1st. 2014. Hollis, NH.

Mason sat at his desk, drinking his first cup of coffee and wondering if he’d ever be able to sleep past five o’clock in the morning. He doubted it.

He hadn’t slept well since 1980.

Turning the computer on, he waited a moment for everything to start up. Finally, he was able to check his emails; notifications of payments from different clients, requests for work, polite rejections of bids and different pieces, and a couple of reminders to pay bills, which he dutifully put in both his computer calendar and his datebook beside the computer.

With his mail read, he opened his web browser and turned his attention to the local news.

There were the usual morning regulars, a shooting in Dorchester, a prostitution drug bust up in Manchester, The Martian continuing to rock the bestseller charts, a successful probe launch into space, a heroin operation stopped in Nashua.

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