Welcome to yet another section of this blog. I have started to post some of my middle grade stories, as you can see, starting with short stories. Thank you for reading!
The Haunted Bakery Part One
Jamie and Louie had finished unpacking the last of their belongings. It was going to be weird adjusting to their new life in this small town. Their Grandma had asked them to go to the kitchen when they finished unpacking so she could give them a snack.
As they slowly descended the stairs of her old farmhouse, they could hear the murmur of voices and sound of dishes being set out. They were a little shy, as they had never met this Grandma before. Mom had said that they were going to have to move after she lost her job. She had described the town and house as she remembered it last. Even though it had been close to fourteen years since she last saw Bungers, Iowa, their Mom described it perfectly. She commented on how some things never change as they approached the town.
Jamie, being the older sibling, walked into the kitchen first, pretending to be brave. Whatever Grandma and Mom were talking about came to an abrupt stop as he entered the room.
“Well you boys all done?” Grandma asked. With a nod yes from Jamie, Grandma continued. “How would you like a slice of apple pie and ice cream?”
The boys slide into the closest chairs and replied they would like that a lot. Mom just gave them a smile and glanced away. Grandma served everyone a pie of her delicate pastry, and then joined the table.
“So do you boys have any plans for the rest of the day? Is there anything I can help you find in town? There are some bikes in the garage that should fit you. They belonged to your Mom and Uncle. I am not sure how many kids are around town. I’ve lost track over the years. If you don’t mind, maybe I’ll tag along for a walk and show you what’s what? Would that be OK?” Grandma asked.
The boys answered yes to Grandma and finished eating their pie. They decided to just walk to town as it was only a half mile away. Grandma said she had to stretch her legs. She laughed about how lucky she was to have young ones around to get her back into shape. Mom stayed behind to finish unloading the truck and settle in a bit.
Grandma was a great storyteller, as it turned out. She held the boys captive with her tales of the town they entered into the streets. She had a little bit of history for each place, so it seemed. So and so lived here, they had this many children, their Dad went off to fight in the war and never came back, this one’s daughter is a Doctor, there should be some kids from this house around here somewhere. The lessons went on, then when they came to Main St. , Grandma’s paced slowed and her voice changed.
“I want you boys to promise me that you will not go near that building over there. It looks like it’s all closed up, but don’t let that fool you. You cannot, MUST not go near that door! Do you understand?” Her face and voice were solemn.
“I, er, we promise Grandma, but what is it?” Jamie asked.
“Many years ago, there was a family that owned this splendid bakery. They had almost everything a person could want to eat and it was scrumptous! If they didn’t have it, all you had to do was ask and they would create it for you. They were as busy as bees in a hive.” Grandma started walking leisurely down the street as she continued.
“One day someone from the ‘old country’ came by, they were Russian descendants, and all changed for them and everyone in this town after that. The doors to the bakery suddenly were covered with curtains and the windows no longer displayed the samples of the delicasies inside. Whenever somene went in to buy goodies, they were no longer greeted with laughter and light chit-chat. It became business and business only.”
Grandma continued as they strolled next to the small creek that ran through town. “Before long, no one wanted to shop there and eventually the doors were closed for good. It became one of the biggest mysteries in town. One day there was a young man, close to your age, Jamie, who got a little curious and tried to peek in past the papered windows. Well he could not see a thing, so he tried the door. Sure enough, it opened, and in he went. Folks say that the poor boy was never the same afterwards. I only saw him a couple of times since then. he just sort sits there and stares at the ceiling, a look of wonder in his eyes. Well wonder or confusion, call it what you will. But let me tell you he saw something in there and hain’t been right since.”
“So please, my boys, please don’t go to that door – ever!” That finished Grandmas’ story and you know, I think that her scare tatic may have worked on those two little grandsons of hers.
Once again, Grandma went back to her town tales. They had pretty well covered the whole town by this time, and Grandma suggested that they go to the corner store for a drink. The boys eagerly agreed and raced up ahead of her. She smiled and their light hearts despite the recent change in their lives. THe children were standing by the cooler picking out their favaorite drink when Grandma walked in through the door.
“Hi Chin!”Grandma called out to the clerk. “These here two are with me. My grandsons, Jamie, the oldest one there and little Louie. Boys this is Mr. Chin. He is a good man and has eyes like a hawk, so never cross him, y’hear?”
Louie chirped up and said that he was not little! Then said hello to Chin as he plopped his soda on the counter. Jamie repeated the hello and asked Grandma what she wanted to drink. Once all the selections were made, Grandma pulled out her small purse and was about to pay when she asked Louie to pick out something for Mom. He quickly made a selection and then they were on their way.
Jamie was asking questions about the school and the teachers. Even though it was a month away, he was curious to find out information on the fourth grade teacher and the Principal. She talked lightly about the things he asked about, watching Louie take it all in. He didn’t speak much but you sure knew he was listening.
By the time they arrived home, the drinks were finished and they were ready for supper. Grandma went off to the kitchen while the boys raced upstairs to tell Mom about the town and the bakery! Mom laughed lightly at their tales and promised to scold Grandma for scaring them.
Everyone settled in for a restful sleep after the meal, chores, and bedtime stories told. The boys whispered about the town and mysterious bakery. Would Grandma ever know if they peeked at the bakery? They decided to give it a couple of days before they would see what was so scary inside there.
The Haunted Bakery Part Two
The following couple of days were busy ones, for sure. Mom went for a couple of job interviews, the boys had to register at the library for some summer reading program, and unpacking the balance of their things seemed to take forever. The boys were sharing a room now and there were a few disagreements about whose stuff had to go where. Jamie usually won, being the oldest and strongest of the two. Grandma also needed help with things around the house and yard. The chore that took longest and that was detested the most was weeding the garden. Grandma mentioned that the boys would love what came out of the soil later on, so there was no need to complain.
As things quietened down, the boys became adventurous. They asked Mom if they could take the bikes Grandma had found out for a ride to town. It was agreed that they could, but had to report back within three hours. With a wave of their hand, they were off like a couple of horses breaking through the gate.
Jamie and Louie laughed, raced each other, stopped for a barking dog, swerved to miss a cat and a kid on his bike. They were enjoying their freedom. Before realizing it, they had stopped in front of the bakery. They dropped their bikes on the sidewalk and walked to the storefront. They rubbed their fists on the glass to clean a spot. There was no way to see inside of that building through the papers that still hung on the glass.
“Whatcha think Louie, should we try the door?” Jamie asked already walking towards the door. His hand reached for the knob and was surprised when it yielded to his pressure. He glanced over his shoulder at Louie and shrugged. “Whatcha think?” he repeated.
“Sure! I ain’t afraid! Right Jamie?” Louie stated, putting on a brave front.
The door opened quietly and they slipped inside, hoping that no one noticed them enter. It didn’t look scary, just a bit dusty. The racks and display cabinets were all in place. The wood floors showed footprints in the dust of recent activity. They wondered who was walking about here.
“What do you boys want? Why are you in here?” A thickly accented voice boomed from behind them.
Jamie and Louie jumped and turned to run out the door only to find it shut and blocked by a person standing with arms crossed in froont of a white apron. Louie felt sick suddenly, and fainting seemed likely. Jamie grabbed his arm and swallowed hard.
“Sit down Louie. A…sir, we were just looking around. M…my, my Grandma said that the store was c..c…closed a…and I j..just wanted to to see what was in here. Sorry to have barged in. We’ll go now, OK?” Jamie was usually brave and self-assured, but the figure looming over them was intimidating.
“No, you can not go anywhere. Not yet.” the man said. His accent was thick and hard to understand, but his actions made up for any confusion that may be had. “You must sit. I make something for you. What you like?”
Louie clung to Jamies’ arm and that made it difficult for them to manouver themselves into the wooden chairs beside them. Still, they took the postions requested rather quickly. Louie whispered into Jamies’ ear that he was not hungry and wanted to go. Jamie annoyedly brushed Louies’ clinging hand away and harshly whispered his reply to b quiet.
The man continued to speak, taking a few steps closer to the young men. “When was last time you had big chewy cinnamon bun, hey, hey? I have some for you. You like them warm? With butter? Da? I get for you.” he said as he turned toward the kitchen. He stopped and added, ” Oh, don’t worry, the door is not open now. You must eat now.”
It was curiosity that got them in the jam they were in, and curiosity that sent Jamie running to the door to open it. Just as they were told, it would not budge! What was the next plan going to be? Maybe there was some way to escape from the kitchen. Maybe he could pretend to help and look around. His mind wandered quickly to the punishment that he was going to get from Grandma and Mom. He should have listened!
Jamie waved quickly to Louie to follow him towards the kitchen. Louie was frightened, to say the least, and shook his head no. Once again Jamie, waved at him to come to his side, with a bit more urgency. Louie shook his head again – no! Jamie rolled his eyes and stuck out his bottom lip, as he always did when he was angry. Slowly he advanced towards the kitchen, cautiously stretching his neck to see where the man was. He noticed him working at the counter, placing the cinnamon buns on plates. He brushed his hands off on his apron and smiled at the creation. As he looked up he saw Jamie peeking in at him.
“Here, for you, das good!” the man said as he picked up the two plates, turning towards Jamie.
Jamie backed away, keeping pace with the man, refusing to reach for the plates. He stumbled and fell backwards onto his brother. “Umphh!” Louie exclaimed as his brother squished him against the chair.
“Boys, boys, no need to worry yourselves, here eat, we talk!” the man said.
Slowly they moved towards the table, uncertain what would happen if they refused. The man introduced himself as Mr. K, because everyone had trouble saying his last name. It did not take long to warm the boys up to his humour. They asked questions about his home country and the kids that lived there, schools and what games they played. Before long they had eaten the cinnamon buns and drank a glass of water that he offered to wash it down with.
“Now what else would you like the fabulous Mr. K. to bake for you?” he asked in a voice that hinted something was not quite right. The boys may have been too naive to catch the implication. If they had been a little older or wiser perhaps they would not have asked for the next dish.
“Creampuffs!” both boys answered almost simultanously.
“Ha, creampuffs it is then!” Mr. K. disappeared to the kitchen once again.
The boys were relaxed enough and chatted about the stories that Mr. K. told. They started the next list of questions for him while they waited for the requested dessert. One thing they totally forgot about was the check in time they had promised their Mom when they left home earlier.
Both Mom and Grandma were silently eyeing up the clock, thinking that at any moment the boys would be cycling up the road. Neither one spoke to the other, but the concern was felt in the air. Their Mom was thinking that she would give them another half hour before jumping into her truck and looking for them. Grandma was giving them forty-five minutes.
Back at the bakery, the boys were feasting on the best cream puffs ever! They didn’t notice that Mr. K. was standing just behind them with a grin on his face, one might say an evil grin, at that.
“Well boys, now that you have started eating this wonderful food, I have a surprise for you!” he said. “You cannot leave until you order some more! Ha-ha, isn’t that wonderful!” he exclaimed, as he clapped his hands together.
“Oh, I have no problem with that Mr. K.! This is scrump-did-i-licious! What do you have for cake?” Louie spoke between swallows.
“I have cake. Lots of cake! It be up right away, he-he!” he replied, walking away once again.
Before they knew it there were pices of pastry flying around the room, swirling above their heads. They were both awestruck as they watched the stream of food float and swirl. They grabbed a piece here and there, but it seemed as soon as they grabbed one, another two would appear. Before long the room seemed almost totally filled with cakes, cookies, cupcakes, long johns, tarts and so much more.
“MR. K.! Please, no more food! We have had enough! We have to go home!” Jamie shouted past the food.
“NO!” Mr. K. thundered his reply, “You MUST not leave until all the food is gone!”
The boys tried hard to stuff more morsels into their mouths, but they could not eat any more. They were so scared. They ran to the front door, but found it was still locked. How could they escape! Quickly they ran through the tornado of pastry into the kitchen. The food followed, much to their chagrin.
It took three seconds to find the back door, run to it and fling it open. Jamie was in as much shock for finding the door unlocked as he was that they were actually running up the street. Where was everyone, he wondered, can’t anyone hear me yelling for help? The food still followed them. Their bellies were so full it made running hard. He wasn’t sure if he should run to the front and get their bikes or what. If only someone would help!
He turned towards the main street once they rounded the alley in back of the bakery. Their bikes were not there! Oh no! Now what? Just as Louie caught up to Jamie, he noticed that there was a truck that looked like his Mom’s slowly driving down Maiin St., with their bikes in the back! He glanced hard into the side mirror and recognized the face, it was his Mom! Thank goodness.
“Mom! Mom! Help!” Jamie screeched out. Louie joined in too. They stilll had the food swirling about them. It seemed to be growing still, and they weren’t even eating anything.
The dogs! The dogs were moving in about them and biting at and eating what ever they could grab-THEY were making the food grow. The birds were next, swooping and diving at the conglomerate of food. If the animals didn’t stop eating the food the whole town would be engulfed and suffocate!
“HELP! MOM! PLEASE HELP!” they screamed. The brake lights lit up on the truck. Mom had heard them.
She could not believe what she saw as she looked out the window! “Mom,” she exclaimed to the boys Grandma,”what has happened? Look! Baking everywhere! What in the world?”
“I warned them to stay away from the bakery! I told them! Now look what has happened! Grab the boys, we need to get to the house and grab my book.” Grandma said firmly.
“Really Mom, this is not the time to grab a dang book!”
“Don’t argue with me! Do it! Boys get up here!” she yelled.
It took no time for the boys to hop in the back of the truck and head to the old house. “Stay here!” she said, as she jumped out of the truck.
The boys clamoured in to the front of the truck to avoid the flying food. They tried to explain to their Mom what had happened and how sorry they were for the trouble they were causing.
“I think your Grandma will deal with that after she gets her book. Here she comes now, make room for her, now.” Mom said.
“Get us down to the creek, girl! It must be near the town park. I hope you boys are willing to jump into the water, ’cause that’s the only way to fix this!” Grandma said.
At this point the boys were willing to do what ever was necessary to rid the town of this mess. They had so many questions they wanted to ask Grandma, but they could tell by her face, it was not the time. Louie looked at the book Grandma was holding. There were kind of scary pictures on the cover, like pictures of snakes and fire pits and people wearing wierd clothes. He reached out to touch the cover of it, but Grandma quickly tucked it deeper under her arm. Mom arrived back in town and stopped at the park.
Don’t Cross The Line Part One
Rory finished the supper clean up and decided to go for a bike ride. It was nearing the end of the school year, which meant the sun hung around a bit longer in the evening. He clamoured up on his relic of a bike and headed down the old gravel road. He could almost count the bumps along this route, and with his eyes closed, know exactly where he was. A cool breeze tousled his brown locks and he squinted his blue eyes against the glare of the sun. He peddled to gain some speed and when he was going fast enough, lifted his feet off of the pedals. Oh, life was good! Zigzagging across the road, Rory felt like a bird readying to soar.
He came to the first crossroad and as he glanced for traffic, he saw something in the old Douglas farm-yard. He stopped abruptly as he stared at the old building. It looked like an equipment shed, weathered and worn, standing erect where nothing had stood for many years.
Rory slowly approached the old metal gate that had barred the entrance to the Douglas farm for years. He straddled bike, and rubbed his eyes in disbelief. How was this even possible, he asked himself. It sounded like the wind was whispering a message, but he couldn’t make it out. He stood there a moment longer, trying to decide if he should investigate or ride away in fear. The latter overtook him as soon as an owl screeched and flew out of what seemed like the rafters of the shed.
He had never felt such fear! Rory didn’t know his legs could move his bike that quickly! His heart was beating so hard as he arrived home, that he was certain his parents would be able to see it through his shirt.
“MA! MA! PA!” he yelled, “Douglas farm…shed standing…owl!”
“Hush now, boy,” Ma said,” What are you on about? Slow down so I can make some sense of what you are saying.”
Pa had come up behind Ma and listened to what Rory was trying to describe between his excited gasps.
“Impossible, Rory, but that is quite the tale. Would you like to go for a drive so I can show you nothin’s there?” Pa replied. “That old farm has been empty for about fifteen years. The tornado took it out back then.”
With a nod of his head, they jumped up into the old truck and set out for a tour. Rory was anxious to show them what he saw, but his jaw dropped as they came up to the intersection before the Douglas farm. It was bare! Just to humour Rory, Pa pulled up to the old gate and parked. They all got out and walked to the gate. The rusty chain that held it shut was secure. Glancing over the top rail, Rory rubbed his eyes for the second time that evening. Nothing, absolutely nothing! How could that be? He blinked hard, his mouth still hanging open.
“Nothing to see here, son, just like I told you.” Pa finally said. “C’mon – bedtime.”
It was nearly impossible for Rory to sleep. How could he prove what he saw? The camera or maybe he could sneak the video camera out. That was it! He would go back after supper tomorrow and get the evidence.
The day at school went painfully slow. The teacher had to get Rory’s attention four times during his classes. When the sounded, signaling the end of the day, Rory was the first one out the door. As he arrived home, he quickly did his homework, helped his mother with supper, then snuck the camera into his backpack.
“Can I go for a ride after supper, Ma?” he asked.
“Sure after the dishes are done.” she replied.
After eating, he hurriedly started the clean up, including washing the dishes. “Whoa there, buddy, I’ll wash. Remember the last time I had to rewash all the silver?” Ma gently chided.
Rory deflated, and gave Ma the look of defeated acceptance. Twenty clicks of the clock later, Rory was on the bike, heading off to prove what he saw yesterday. As he approached the intersection, he saw it! The shed stood as it did the day before. This time, Rory stopped before the crossing and snapped a few pictures. He proceeded to the gate and before he set his bike against the post, took another three pictures.
The gate groaned, as if in pain, as he unlatched the chain and opened it, slightly. “Sorry.” he said aloud, then laughed nervously at how silly that was. The gate opened enough to allow him entry. He stood before it for a moment trying to decide if he should continue into the yard. He took a deep breath and swallowed hard. He couldn’t prove a thing if he didn’t get closer and maybe bring something home from the building.
As he stepped into the yard, he felt the breeze pick up. He was certain that he heard a message being carried on the wind again. “Don’t…..line.” were the only words he thought he understood. He pressed on, stopping about ten feet from the big door. Another picture, hard swallow and deep breath. He grabbed the handle and slid the door open. Just as he was about to release the handle, the owl came screeching out. Rory jumped backwards and stumbled on a rock, causing him to plant himself on his back. He immediately jumped up and ran back to his bike, speeding off to home.
About half way there, he slowed his pace and chuckled at himself for being so afraid of an old owl. He continued on is way whistling a no name tune.
“How was the ride? Any more sheds pop up?” Pa asked.
“Well Pa, this time I have PICTURES!” Rory said proudly as he thrust the camera towards his Dad. “Have a look yourself and you’ll see it’s there!”
Pa took the camera and clicked through the pictures, but saw nothing except field, fence and the gate. “Nice shots of the farm, there kid, but where is the shed?”
“What? What do you mean?” Rory exclaimed as he jumped into the chair, squashing his Dad in the process. Sure enough, there were only the pictures that his father described. How was that possible?
Rory was not able to sleep again that night. He knew what he saw. He had to devise another plan.
Everyone was on the quiet side at the breakfast table. It seemed as though Ma and Pa wanted to say something to Rory, but weren’t quite sure how to go about it. It was Ma who finally managed to speak, as she continued to stir her coffee.
“You know Rory, we believe that you saw something at the old place, but hearing voices and seeing buildings? Well I hope you can understand that it is hard to believe, especially after the camera showed nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe you should avoid the farm for now. Sometimes when you step back from a situation, you see things differently once you return.”
Rory was not able to speak. His thoughts were not on what said, but how he could convince them there was, no, is something there. He nodded to what Ma had said, despite not hearing a word. It seemed to put them at ease. Somehow, he had to get the video camera again, and try that method to capture the old shed.
After breakfast, Rory did his Saturday chores, then asked if he could go for a ride. His Pa gave him a side look, as if asking where he was planning on going and had he heard what Ma had said earlier. “What?” was all Rory could say.
He tried to keep the bike away from the area. He even turned left at the end of the drive, knowing that his parents were most likely watching. Something was drawing his attention back the other way. The turmoil inside of him was mounting and eventually he drove back to the house in search of the video camera. By the time he found and tucked it away, lunch was being set out. He ate lightly, toying with his food.
“Go ahead, Rory.” Ma said. “Make sure you are home by three thirty.”
You would have thought the scariest thing in the world landed in the kitchen, chasing Rory out of the room. Like a flash, he had grabbed his bag, and was out the door heading for his bike. “What are we to with that son of ours?” Ma asked, shaking her head.
“It could be worse, Ma. I think a private eye would be an interesting addition to the family!” Pa replied.
Rory hurriedly approached the farm site. Stopping at the gate, he dropped his bike and spun his bag around grabbing the camera. He slowly drew it out, and pointed it towards the shed. Yes, it was there, standing in the sunny field. He started shooting from the left and continued to pan over to the right of the building. He wanted to be certain to catch every detail around it.
The breeze carried the ghostly words to him again. “Don’t cross the line!”
This time, Rory drew in his breath and stepped up to the gate, pushing it slightly open, and stepped through, filming the scene as it unfolded. Again the words were carried to him, only this time they sounded louder, more desperate. “Don’t cross the line!” Still, he walked on towards the building filming it all.
The sky darkened and the winds picked up. The shakes on the roof started to lift slightly. The building was groaning as though trying to brace itself against the upcoming storm. Rory continued to film it all. The owl came screaming towards him, trying to scare him out of the building. Rory held his place, catching that bird in flight as it swooped down towards him.
The winds were howling now, and the building shook letting an occasional board fly loose from the structure. Rory continued his filming. The voice was louder, as if in competition with the wind. “DON’T CROSS THE LINE!” Rory felt the shivers start to climb his spine, but he held steadfast. The winds increased in intensity once again, but the voice was louder still! “DON’T CROSS THE LINE!”
Suddenly, he was laying on his back, camera in hand, watching the wind lift the building in a spiral motion. The boards and roof were scattered into thousands of pieces. It looked as though someone threw a box of toothpicks up in the air. He hoped the camera was catching all of this.
“YOU’VE CROSSED THE LINE!” screamed across the land. Then all went quiet!
Rory just lay there, trying to understand what had just happened. As he looked around,he could see no trace of the shed. He did see his Pa’s pick up truck at the gate, however. He raised himself up on one elbow and spotted his Pa lying two feet from him. “Pa?” he called out.
“Rory, are you OK? I saw the storm picking up and came to get you. I think I’m alright. Are you hurt? Did you see what just happened? I don’t believe it… who screamed out ‘you crossed the line’? Did you catch this on tape? Are you OK?” Pa felt like throwing up. He had never been so scared in his life. How could an imaginary building appear and then get sucked up in a tornado?
“I’m good, Pa! I think I got it all! Did you see that? Cool! No one will ever believe it! Did you SEE that?” Rory could hardly contain his excitement.
All Pa could think was, leave it to a kid to almost get killed and think it is cool! He lifted himself off the ground, trying to settle his uneasy stomach. He stumbled towards Rory, surprised at how rubbery his legs felt. He extended a hand towards his son and said, “Let’s throw your bike in the back of the truck and head home. Ma will not believe this!”
During the quick drive home, Rory checked the camera. “PA! IT WORKED! I GOT IT ALL!”
Pa almost ran the truck off the road, Rory scared him so with the outburst. “Man, I am fried, son, don’t yell like that! Ok, good, good that you have something on film this time. Good.” he continued trying to calm his nerves.
No sooner had the truck stopped, when Rory jumped out yelling for his Ma. “You ain’t gonna believe what we got! Pa almost puked! Did you see that tornado?”
Ma did come running. She was so glad to see they were safe. “Yes, Rory, we saw the storm coming. That’s why Pa went for you. What happened, are you guys OK? Where did it touch down?” she asked as she tucked Rory and Pa under her arm, leading them back to the house.
All three of them huddled around the screen of the video camera. Although the screen was small there was no mistaking the drama that unfolded before their eyes. From Rory’s perspective, you could see the debris of the building swirling around him. The boards all seemed to rotate and lift in some kind of circle dance, spiralling higher every moment. There was one thing that Rory had not heard above the wind, but it was distinctively clear on the video; “YOU CROSSED THE LINE! YOU CROSSED THE LINE! YOU CROSSED THE LINE!” The voice trailed off as if being carried away with the boards. The calm that followed was eerie.
“I am speechless! How could this have…? What really happened?” Ma half whispered.
They spent the balance of the evening discussing the possibilities of sharing this with someone. Who would believe it, but how could they not? The camera could be checked over to show there was no way to tamper with it. After the all the deliberation, they decided to start with the librarian. She had records dating back to the dinosaur age almost, or so it seemed.
Monday morning arrived. Pa called work to let them know he would be late. Then Ma called the school and let them know Rory was going to be late as well. Then all the data they had about the happenings at the Douglas farm were gathered together. With a sigh, they looked at each other and headed to the truck.
Their faces must have told the keen Librarian they had some seriously troubling business. Her crinkled brow and tilted head met them as they stopped in front of her desk.
“Can we talk, somewhere quiet?” Pa asked.
“Certainly. Is there something, such as books, you need me to bring along?” In the back of her mind she was thinking that perhaps the youngster had questions about life and such that needed answering.
Pa hugged the bag he was carrying a little tighter, then said,” Maybe we can show you this stuff first and go from there.”
Now she was totally peaked with curiosity. They walked to a room off the main room. As she passed a clerk, the Librarian gently touched the young womans’ arm and asked her to watch the front for a bit.
Once seated, everyone took a moment to collect their thoughts. Pa finally spoke, but his voice sounded a little strange, softer, raspier. ” What can you tell us about the Douglas farm, just out-of-town. The one that was taken out by the tornado a while back. Any stories about ghosts or stuff like that?”
“Ghosts? Um, I can’t say that I have. What do you think you saw?” she replied.
Pa gently dumped the contents of the bag onto the table for examination. He picked the camera first. He wanted to show her that there was nothing remaining at the farm site. As she looked through the pictures, Pa retold Rory’s story. Next he passed her the video camera. She gasped as she saw and heard the recording. The date and time were on both instruments, so she could see when it all transpired.
“I am dumbstruck. Never have I seen such a ghostly story unfold. I am not sure where to begin!” the Librarian replied. She sat quiet for a moment. ” I think I will go to the archives and see what I can dig up about the family. Would you like to come back this afternoon? Say around four thirty-ish?”
The arrangements were finalized and everyone went about their daily routine. If you could say that not being able to concentrate on work or school, routine, that is. Rory was beginning to think that his life was run by slow-moving clocks lately. The tedious tic – tic – tic of the classroom timekeeper was really getting on his nerves. Finally, the end of day bell rang, and released that pressure from his mind.
Ma was parked by the school bus zone and tapped her horn to get Rory’s attention. “How was your day, son? As long as mine?” Ma asked as Rory clamoured into the truck.
“I am so glad the day is over. What are we going to do while we wait for Pa?” he replied.
“I think an ice cream cone will help take the edge off a bit. What do you think?”
With a nod of his head, Rory and Ma drove to the ice cream store. They chattered about what the librarian may have found out. They couldn’t help but wonder if there was something sinister about the family. Soon enough, it was time to pick up Pa. They grabbed one cone for him and went on their way. Pa made it to the truck in five strides.
“Let’s go!” Pa said in a strong voice.
As they pulled up to the library, they noticed that the Sherifs car was parked by the curb. Their hearts raced a bit. Was he there to speak with them? What did she find out?
They quickly walked the steps to the doors and entered the library, their eyes searching for the Librarian. She exited a side room with the Sherif in tow. She nodded towards them, in acknowledgment, and gave them a tight-lipped smile. The sherif just glanced at them, not really making eye contact. This made them nervous.
The Librarian gestured towards the room where they first gathered and they all joined together there. “Please be seated. This is Sherif James. I have filled him in on what you found and experienced at the old farmstead. We did go through some of the old records of the Douglas family. Some of them did involve police contact which is why I asked Sherif James to come this afternoon.”
She continued. “I found that there were five people in the family. Mother, Father, first-born son, Wendel, second born son, Travis and third born son, Damien. They were a family of, well, should I say passion? Mr. Douglas had a temper which got him in to a bit of trouble with the police on occasion.”
“There was a time when Mrs. Douglas pleaded with the police to take Travis to a care home before Mr. Douglas hurt him, or worse. Whenever the police would arrive, there was nothing out of the ordinary to see. As a matter of fact, the children were rarely seen. It seems they were out working the fields or playing at a friend’s place, so they were told.”
“One time the police were kind of poking around the place, and came across a disturbing site. Would you like to continue, sir?” she said, turning to the Sherif.
“H-rumph, hum, well, as she said, we were called out there, but when we arrived we couldn’t see anyone. So we walked around the farm and came to the shed. We stopped when we saw some shackles attached to the framework in the back. We picked them up and they were strongly attached with a five foot chain. But the strange thing was there was a line drawn in the ground at about the four-foot mark all around the perimeter.” He paused briefly. “We weren’t sure what that meant until we saw the video you provided. Don’t cross the line.”
“We saw the video and put two and two together. Mr. Douglas must have chained the kids up. Then we think he told them not to cross the line. He must have threatened punishment if they did.”
The Librarian continued,”We came across a scribbler that belonged to Travis. He recounted terrible stories of abuse. He didn’t mention the shackles, but he did say that his father always told them that a fate worse than death would befall the family if they ever crossed the line.” Her voice was getting a bit shaky, and a little quicker.
“It seems that just a few days before the tornado struck, Travis wrote that Damien was sent to the shed for the night for supposedly talking back to his mother. His mother snuck some food and a blanket out to him and was caught by Mr. Douglas. He thrashed both of them and told them they nearly crossed the line! Travis stated that the next couple of days, his father left them tied up in the shed.Hardly any water was allowed and scraps for food. This is the last time the police were called, by Travis.”
Sherif James hung his head a little lower and softly continued the story. “We were not able to respond right away. An accident had just occurred and we had to send all three units out for traffic control. No one knew what was going to take place, or we would have gone, someone would have gone.”
” While we were at the scene, a terrible storm came up – the twister. It stayed well clear of the accident, but hit the Douglas farm. Nothing, no body, nothing was left. I can’t help thinking that we could have saved them if we had gone. If we had only gone!”
The air was heavy with a sadness that Rory had never know before. Tears welled up in his eyes, and as he looked around, he saw he was not the only one touched by the story. ‘So,” he whispered,”it’s a ghost?”
“Rory, I have never known anything like this to happen before. If I hadn’t seen the video and pictures, I would not have believed it either. I can’t deny that this is real.” the Sherif replied.
“So what now?” Ma asked.
“We need a few days to think about this. I honestly don’t know.” he said.
They parted after that with the promise of a phone call and a time to return their cameras. Pa hugged Ma on one side and Rory on the other as they walked back to the truck. “What a sad tale. I lived just up the road from them and never knew what was going on.”
Ma said,”Sometimes you just never do know, Pa. Maybe they are gone now, you know, like they just needed someone to know their story. Can we go lay some flowers at the gate?”
They decided it was the least they could do. So they picked some wild flowers from their field and drove to the farm’s gate. Stepping out of the truck was a feat for all of them. The sadness was overwhelming and Ma started to cry. Rory hugged her a cried too. Pa let a few tears fall but wiped them away unseen.
“May you have peace Douglas family. May you have peace.’ Ma said softly as she lay the flowers on the ground.
Just then the owl flew out of the tree, but this time he did not screech. He simply flew off across the fields…and vanished from sight.
A week passed and Sherif James called to say there was not much more that could be done. He commented that someone placed flowers at the cemetery recently, for the Douglas’, that was. Thanking them once again for the video, he said they could have them back now. Somehow, it didn’t seem right to pick the cameras up. The Douglas’ story should remain closed now.
It took a long time to forget the events at Douglas farm, but memories fade after a while. Rory still watches the skies for the owl now and then. He is gone.