Alcatraz – California

Today we will travel to the West Coast all the way to California. We are going to visit Alcatraz.

Alcatraz is considered one of the most haunted places in America. Some of the most notorious criminals of all time served time in Alcatraz, including Al Capone, Arthur “Doc” Barker, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Alcatraz was created in order to break the most rebellious criminals. Back in 1933, the US decided they needed a max-security, minimum-privilege prison to house the worst of the worst criminal. If an inmate broke any of the rules, they would be sent off to what was known as the “strip cell.”

Before going into the empty cell, they were stripped of all of there clothes. The only thing inside was a hole for them to use as a bathroom. The empty metal cell stripped the criminals of any humility or hope that they have had. It’s no surprise that there are quite a few spirits that can’t move on from this place.

Cell 14D was the room that they were sent to for their punishments. Visitors to this room say that it feels cold as if more than one spirit is left in that room. It is believed that there was a man who died while being held in the room. The guards found him strangled to death on the floor. Rumor has it, that the night before he was found, he screamed that a yellow-eyed creature was trying to kill him. If you don’t find that scary, maybe you should give cell 14D a visit.

Visitors to Alcatraz often say that they hear crying and moaning when traveling through cell blocks A, B, and C. A psychic once said that they felt a malevolent spirit called Butcher in this area as well. Would you like to take a guess at what the prison records showed about a man named Butcher? In the 1940s, an inmate by the name of Butcher was assassinated.

If you visit the showers, it is said that you can hear banjo music. Al Capone spent his last years locked up in Alcatraz and strummed along with the prison’s banjo band. Because he was afraid that he would be killed if he played his banjo out in the open, he would practice it in the showers.

Alcatraz is sure to give you the creeps if you go for a visit, but don’t miss out on other haunted places in San Francisco. In fact, it is said that San Francisco is one of the most haunted cities in the US. If you are planning to visit any time soon, think about taking a ghost tour.

The Fox Theater – Arizona

This week we are going to take a trip down to Tucson, Arizona to the Fox Theater. This Theater has a very haunted past.

Tucson, Arizona has quite a few ghost stories, but the Fox Theater is the one that people talk about the most. The Fox Theater opened in the 1930s as a Vaudeville and movie house that entertained the town of Tucson. It closed in 1974 as the downtown area began to decline.

The Fox Tucson Theater Foundation started to restore the building in 2000 and then they reopened in 2006.

There are quite a few spirits that are believed to haunt the halls of the theatre. One of them is a man roams around the lobby and entrance of the theater asking for spare change.

 People have said that a man has asked them for change, and for those who went to give him some, would see it simple drop to the floor. 

There is also a young girl who giggles and plays in the upper and lower lobby. There are also some people who have claimed to have seen a shadowy figure lurking around the projection room. Some of the people who have worked in the booth have seen strange movements and experienced unexplained lights and noises.

Unfortunately, this has caused quite a few people to quit their job.

There is one spooky story that has been around slightly longer than the theater. The tale states that a man died in 1929 during the construction of the theater. There is an arrowed stone decor that faces the wrong direction around the stage that symbolizes this accident.

If you are interested in learning more about this haunted theater, or other haunted areas in Tucson, they have regular ghost hunts that you can be a part of the next time you are in town.

Short Story – Pelagia’s Fate

The mountains loomed over the large white castle. The sun eased past the horizon, illuminating the yard. Shrubs with little red flowers lined the wall. Shining yellow and white sprites sprinted through the yard watering the flowers, cleaning the pool, and pruning the shrubs. Above them, at the tallest window, stood a man of 120 years, yet he didn’t look a day over 25.

His long black hair billowed in the wind that rushed through the open balcony window.  His bare chest shined in the growing light. His boxers hung low on his hips, showing off his defined body and the slightest ruffle of dark curly hair.

Padraig rubbed his hand over the tattoo on his ribs. The dark blackbird popped from his porcelain colored skin. The only color the tattoo held was the bright red arrow that hung from the blackbird’s beak. Padraig had been part of the first group that Amon had given their fates to. He had thought it was a ridiculous idea. Never believing that one man had the ability to hand out fates to people with only a simple tattoo, but the tattoo had been free. Padraig had lived for several decades with that tattoo without as much of an inkling that it was going to come true. Then one day it happened. And it continued to happen.

Padraig had grown up in a poor elf family. They lived on the outskirts of Inis and scraped by with the scraps of the nobles. When he was told he would become a noble, his family had been ecstatic. They ignored the other half of his fate, but that was the half that scared Padraig. Once he became a noble, he knew he had to be careful. He didn’t want the evil half to come out. He thought he had managed to escape the other half of his fate. He never got married. He made sure all the people that worked for him were men, but then one day he slipped. That was it. That evil side came out … and he loved it.

The door to his room creaked open. In stepped a beautiful woman. Her long red hair was tied high on her head. She wore a strapless green bikini top with matching bottoms. Across her stomach, a purple spider web held a large black spider. The tattoo shimmered from the sweat that prickled across her skin. Adeline was 70 years younger than her husband, but it had been love at first sight.

Padraig’s ex-wife hadn’t been able to handle his lifestyle. She loved the extravagant places they lived and the fact she was married to a noble, but she hadn’t been able to live with his dark side. She couldn’t take the bad with the good. Adeline could. Padraig’s dark side played right into hers.

“Showing off for the workers?” Adeline asked.

“I just got up, wanted a bit of fresh air. How was your workout?”

“Wonderful. I see you had a good time last night.”

Adeline walked over to the bed and began to ease off the ivory white sheets. Starting at the foot of the bed, she rolled the sheets up into a ball, keeping the blood on the inside. She tossed the blood covered sheets next to a lump on the floor, hidden in the corner. A closer inspection would show that lump used to be a beautiful fairy woman. The only thing that was still recognizable on the body was a black and white tattoo of a tombstone with a black cat sitting perched on top.

“Did you have to make such a mess?” she asked.

“I can’t help it if she wouldn’t stay still.”

“I thought I told you to use the sedative.”

“I like it better when they’re awake.”

“The sedative I gave you allows them to wake up but keeps their body immobile. It also keeps me from having to explain to the cleaners why my husband has such bloody sheets.”

“Just throw them away. I can buy new ones.”

“Throw them away? If we threw away everything that you bloodied, then we wouldn’t need cleaners.”

“Honey,” Padraig, cooed, wrapping an arm around his wife, “Are you jealous?”

“I was just hurt you didn’t let me pick this one out. And she was one of our best gardeners.”

Padraig kissed his wife’s cheek. Wrapping her in a hug, he led her over to the stripped bed.

“Let me make it up to you.”

Far below them, in the deepest and darkest corners of the castle, came a penetrating scream. Darcy darted through the nooks and crannies that he knew so well, chasing after a shiny silver elf. He didn’t enjoy chasing elves as much as he did the others. Elves would glow when they got scared or excited, so they made it too easy for him to find them.

Adeline had lured Darcy into their home with the promise that his fate wouldn’t come true. The day Darcy stepped out of the hospital white building with his fresh tattoo, he had lost all hope. He had always been a gentle soul. His entire family was twisted, evil ogres and Darcy had always felt out of place. When he looked down and saw the large chimera on his left leg, he knew how his life was going to end.

The ugly creature was made up of a lion with a tail that grew into a snakes head, and a goats head growing out of its back. Darcy’s tattoo was more intricate and uglier than any others in his family. His packet had told him that the chimera was seen as an omen for disaster. That was it. Nothing else was explained.

For days, all Darcy had done was wander around the center gardens of Inis. He enjoyed watching the rainbow-colored butterflies race through the flowers. He would help the gardener’s plant pink and purple flowers. Every few days, he would see this beautiful woman with long red hair running through the gardens. It seemed like on those same days his family would show up and mock him. Then one day the red-headed lady came up to him.

“You come with me, to my castle, and you can work as a gardener forever. You’ll never have to worry about your fate coming true. I’ll make sure of that,” she cooed the last part in his ear.

Darcy ran home and packed his bags. His brothers had laughed at him when he told them his plan. His parents weren’t home, and he didn’t plan on waiting around for them. He met the lady back at the gardens and followed her back to the castle.

The first few days had been amazing. He worked outside. He had regular gourmet meals. He had free run of the castle. Then one day Adeline asked him to go to the basement. There was something wrong with the boiler, and she needed him to fix it. As he walked in, the door slammed and locked behind him. He shook the door, trying to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. A hum came from deep in the maze of concrete walls, drawing him closer. He continued to wander through the maze, but the closer he got to the hum, the further away it sounded.

He continued to wander through the maze for days on end trying to find that sound until he had learned the maze like the back of his hand. All of a sudden the humming stopped. Meals were slid under the door for him, letting him know the time and day: breakfast at 8 am sharp, lunch at noon and dinner at 6. Then one day the door opened. The light burned his eyes. He hadn’t seen daylight in a few weeks. When the doors shut, he could hear a quiet sob.

He followed the sob through the maze-like he had the hum, but this time he caught up with it. It was a young giant girl, no more than 20. She tried to run away from him, but he grabbed her, pulling her to the little room he had made himself. He forced her to sit and talk to him. Every time she sobbed, he would smack her to shut her up. The next morning she was gone. A week passed, and then another girl was tossed into the maze.

This continued week after week until he grew used to these visitors, and bored with the interaction. Then they started coming more often, and he became more creative in the way he treated them. He would chase them through the maze until they collapsed. They couldn’t hide, he knew where everything was. After a year, Padraig came to speak with him. He offered him the chance to roam the castle again if he so chose if he would continue to “wear down” his lady friends. Darcy agreed, he wanted to see the gardens again, but he also enjoyed his exercise.

Here he was, 20 years later, and he still enjoyed chasing these women. The shining elf darted into a cave that all the women seemed to find. They thought it hid them. If any ole’ monster was chasing them, it would, but not Darcy. He stopped chasing her for a moment and listened to her cries. He crept up behind the wall and peered over. With a soft tap of his finger, the elf looked up at him before letting out a blood curtailing scream.

***

Pelagia rubbed her hand across the lily tattoo on her shoulder. The tattoo had long since healed, but it still itched from time to time. Her long blond hair was held in a braid that draped over her tattooed shoulder. Her casual blue outfit stood out against her family’s power suits.

She sat at the red oak table that her parents used for family meals. When the kids didn’t come to visit, they used the small breakfast nook in the kitchen. It was the Friday night dinner that Pelagia dreaded sitting through each week. The conversation always turned to her fate. Her parents and siblings would start talking about everything they had accomplished at work. The new rules or laws that they had sent to the elders for approval or the new election they were getting ready for. Then they would look over at Pelegai, see her rubbing her shoulder, and then stare at their food for a few minutes. Somebody, usually her mother, would speak first.

“Honey, stop rubbing your shoulder, you make me worried when you do that,” Brigid said, picking at the roast duck on her plate.

“Sorry, it’s a habit,” Pelagia replied, dropping her arm.

“A bad habit,” mumbled Jarlath.

Jarlath, Pelagia’s father, couldn’t understand her preoccupation with her fate, nor did he understand why she just sat around and waited for it to come true. Of course, she wasn’t sitting around and waiting. Pelagia worked, she volunteered at the local hospital, and she was active in her spiritual group. To her parents, she was wasting her time.

“Sorry, Dad,” Pelagia growled.

“I just don’t see why you can’t come work for me. I need a new secretary, and you just might make it in politics yet,” Jarlath stated.

“I don’t want to. I am happy doing what I’m doing.”

“Then why do you look so sad?” Brigid asked.

“I’m lonely.”

“Then find someone.”

“Mom, I can’t. My damn fate won’t allow me to.”

“You can find someone to be with without having sex.”

“The Universe must not feel the same way.”

“Well, at least you’re still alive.”

“Mom! Really? Every time I’m here you have to bring that up.”

“What? You can’t forget the noose around that flower. You are going to commit suicide one day, so you need to get used to it.”

“I understand that will happen one day, but you don’t have to act so cavalier about it. All that does is make me think that you all won’t even morn me when I do die. You’re already comfortable with my fate. That’s the problem with this stupid system.”

“Do NOT refer to the fate tattoos as stupid. The Universe, elders, and nobles all believe that it is an amazing system,” Jarlath yelled.

“Oh, sure, they think it’s great. The Universe doesn’t have to live these fates, and the elders and nobles have the best fate possible. All I’m trying to get at is the fact that these fates make us worry until they come true, and if you have a fate of death, then your family has already gotten over it before you even die. I want people to miss me when I’m gone. I don’t want people sitting around saying things like, ‘Well I saw that coming.’”

“We will miss you,” Brigid said.

“Sure, you will.”

“If you’re going to sit there and insult your mother, then you can leave,” Jarlath said.

“Fine!”

Pelagia pushed herself away from the table and stormed out the door, slamming it behind her. She wandered her way towards the garden, which had become a weekly tradition. Every time she had a fight with her parents she would end up in the garden.

The garden was a gathering ground of sorts. A large circular hedge marked the garden’s territory. Inside, the garden was full of flowers, trees, and protected plants. As Pelagia walked through the large golden gate the elegant scent of the globeflower hit her nose. The garden greeted her with a sea of pink, blue, and yellow. She shuffled her way to her favorite bench in front of the bog rosemary. As she settled into the bench the tears began to flow.

Pelagia sat and cried for several hours. There were very few people in the garden at this hour, but the few that were there didn’t pay her any attention, except for one. If Pelagia hadn’t been crying she would have noticed the fiery redhead that had been watching her for the last hour.

Adeline loved walking through the gardens at this time of night. Only the most desperate and pathetic wander through, giving her the best opportunity to find help. Adeline had noticed Pelagia a few times before, but never felt it was the right time to approach her. Tonight, on the other hand, seemed right. Pelagia was more upset than she had ever been.

Adeline sashayed over to Pelagia’s bench and sat down. Her gentle hand touched Pelagia’s arm. Pelagia jerked at the touch. Seeing how beautiful the person behind the touch looked, Pelagia relaxed for a moment.

“Are you all right?” Adeline cooed.

“Yeah. Fine.” Pelagia sniffled.

“You don’t look fine. Why don’t you tell me what’s really wrong.”

“It’s a long story.”

“I have time.”

Pelagia looked deep into the stranger’s eyes, searching for a reason why she was interested. She couldn’t get past the ice blue color of her eyes. They pulled her into a trance, and Pelagia started telling Adeline everything. Once Pelagia finished her story, Adeline wrapped a long slender arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.

“What if I told you I could protect you from your fate?”

“You can’t do that. Nobody can. It’s fate.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. My husband and I own that large white castle on the east side of town. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Anyway, we have made it our mission to help innocent people like you stay safe from horrible fates. The work of Amon can be crude and evil, and we believe people should have the opportunity to make their own life.”

“But nobody can possibly keep fates from coming true.”

“If you come live with me, you can work in the gardens there, and you will have a nice little basement apartment all to yourself. You’d have free roam of the property, and not a single person there will cause you any harm. Now, tell me how your fate could possibly come true in a place like that?”

“I suppose it would be hard for my fate to be fulfilled there.”

“Your family won’t miss you either. They’ve already moved on.”

One last tear slipped down Pelagia’s cheek. With a sigh, Pelagia stood and turned toward Adeline.

“I’d love to live with you and your husband. Anything is better than where I am now.”

“That’s my girl,” Adeline said, standing and wrapping Pelagia in a hug.

Adeline took Pelagia’s hand and led her towards the Buckley castle. Pelagia’s eyes grew wide the closer they came. Never in her life had she seen anything as amazing as her new home.

Adeline led her up the huge white marble stairs to the front door. Celtic knots decorated the edge of the iron door. The soft lilt of singing echoed around the corner of the house. The door creaked open as they approached, welcoming Pelagia. The foyer was decorated with gothic accents, red roses, and white candles.  Pelagia eased into the expansive room. Looking up the hall, the lights of the candles disappeared into the darkness. Adeline draped an elegant arm around Pelagia and led her down the hall. The soft echo of their footsteps followed behind as they reached a large steel door.

“Here we are,” Adeline announced.

“Where does the door go?” Pelagia whispered.

“To your room. You get the entire basement to yourself. It’s completely furnished too.”

“Really?”

“Yep. You have free run of the house and grounds as well. Make yourself at home.”

Pelagia reached out and grasped the cold doorknob and pulled the door open. Cool air hit her. A soft whir can from the expansive darkness that unfolded before her. She eased her foot onto the top step. The step was hard. Despite the darkness, she knew it had to be marble. She continued her slow march down the stairs.

Pelagia’s skin started to emit a soft glow lighting the dark stairwell. While she could see where she was going, the glow of her skin casted an ominous shadow along the walls. At the bottom of the stairs, Pelagia ran a hand along the wall looking for a light switch. Her finger slipped over the switch. Lights flicked on overhead illuminating her new home. Pelagia had seen a few basements during her life, but nothing this extravagant.

An expansive living room stood in front of her. A huge flat screen TV hung on the wall. A complete black leather living room suit decorated the floor. Red, purple, white, and pink lilies and irises decorated the tables and walls.

Pelagia stepped through an archway into the kitchen. A cute little breakfast nook was set up in the corner. Marble countertops sat on the cabinets. To Pelagia’s eyes, she had brand new stainless steel appliances. She walked back into the living to the open bedroom door.

A huge canopy bed stood in the center of the room. She found an equally big bathroom to the right. She flopped down on the soft bed and smile up at the sparkling purple canopy. With a sigh, Pelagia started to close her eyes when she heard a low grumble coming from outside her room. She bolted out of the bed and eased through the living room to investigate.

Another growl shook the room; this time sounding further away. Pelagia followed the growl to a large black door on the far side of the room. She slowly reached out her hand to touch the doorknob.

“That doors locked,” Adeline stated.

Pelagia jumped and whirled around to face Adeline.

“What?” Pelagia asked, her heart racing.

“The doors locked. It’s for the boiler room. Nobody ever goes in there except when there is maintenance that needs to be done, but there’s a second entrance so you won’t be bothered.”

“Then why do you have this door?”

“It was put there before we turned the basement into an apartment, and we didn’t take the time to remove it.”

“Oh.”

“I brought you some cookies and milk to welcome you home. I’ll introduce you to everyone tomorrow.”

“Thank you.”

Pelagia took the tray of cookies and milk with a smile. Adeline gave her a small wave as she made her way back up the stairs. Pelagia gave the large black door one last look before taking her treats to the kitchen.

That night Pelagia enjoyed her treats and enjoyed her first night of restful sleep since her 18th birthday. Over the next few days, Pelagia got to know her new home. She made friends with fairies and sprites that worked in the gardens, and the kitchen elf started teaching her to cook. She never once thought of that odd growl she had heard the first night. The large black door didn’t even catch her attention. She was enjoying her life for the first time in a long time, and she didn’t have to worry about her parents butting in. They had no clue where she was, and she wasn’t about to tell them.

The one week anniversary of Pelagia’s move in, Adeline and Padraig threw her a party. They had all of her favorite foods; cookies, milk, honey, several types of berries, and caramel. After she had eaten her fill, and the party started to wind down, Pelagia made her way to bed. She laid for a few moments on her bed and watched the lights around her twinkle. As she started to drift off to sleep a deep growl rocked her bed.

Pelagia sat up. Another growl ripped through her apartment, louder and fiercer. She scooted to the head of the bed with her legs tucked into her chest. As another growl rumbled through the air; a large shadow passed by her bedroom door.

“Hello?” Pelagia called sheepishly.

She was answered by another growl. Goosebumps run up her arms. Easing off the bed, she crept to the door and peered out. The living room appeared as it had earlier. She pushed the door open with a squeak and stepped into her living space. The growls continue in constant succession causing the walls the shake. The closer she walked to the large black door, the louder the growling became. She reached out a shaking hand and grasped the doorknob. The knob wouldn’t turn. The large black door rattled as something hit it from the other side. Pelagia jumped back and ran upstairs.

She ran through the house trying to find Adeline, but she was nowhere to be found. Pelagia hurried into the kitchen, running into Padraig. Pelagia stumbled backward. Padraig stepped back holding a glass of wine in his hand and wearing nothing but boxers.

“You okay?” Padraig asked.

“Yes… No… I mean…” Palagia stumbled.

“Calm down. Why don’t you tell me what happened.”

Padraig sat his glass down on the black marble island and motioned towards a bar stool. Pelagia eased onto the bar stool next to Padraig. With a sigh, she raced through the story of what happened downstairs.

“I’m sure that seemed very scary,” Padraig cooed, reaching a handout and stroking Pelagia’s hair, “But it’s just the boiler room. It acts up sometimes.”

“But something banged on the door.”

“It just sounded like it did. Nobody is the boiler room. Both doors are kept locked.”

“But…”

“Everything is fine.”

Padraig ran a gentle hand down Pelagia’s arm onto her leg. She brushed his hand away and stepped back from the island. Padraig sauntered over to Pelagia, pushing her into the counter. He wrapped an arm around her waist and brushed his hand down her face. Pelagia cringed at his touch.

“You need to relax,” Padraig sighed.

“Let me go,” Palagia shouted, pushing him away.

Pelagia took off to her room. Back downstairs, she ran for her bedroom, planning on locking the door to keep Padraig out, but the door was already locked. She scrambled to find a hiding place, but there wasn’t one. Even the outside basement door was locked where she couldn’t get outside. She turned to look at the large black door again. The growls and banging had subsided leaving her apartment quiet.

The sound of footsteps echoed above her. She ran towards the large black door, knowing it would be locked, but desperate to find a hiding spot. To her surprise, when she turned the doorknob the door easily swung open. Pelagia stepped into the dark, cold room. A sewer smell hit her nose causing her eyes to water. A rumble ran through the room almost knocking Pelagia down. The door slammed closed. Pelagia frantically grabbed at the door, but the door was locked. Turning to face the dark room, Pelagia made her way into what looked like a maze. Another growl ripped through her. She took off running.

“There’s another door,” Pelagia whispered.

The maze shook as Darcy took off. Pelagia ran as fast as she could, trying to get to the other end. The more she ran, the more lost she became. Every wall looked the same. Every turn seemed to lead back to the same cubby hole. The more frightened she became the more her skin glowed.

Out of breath and tired, Pelagia hunkered down into the cubby hole to rest. She hadn’t spotted Darcy. He had learned a while back that the longer his prey went without seeing him, the longer he got to chase him. Nothing was more fun than the chase. Darcy peered around the wall at Pelagia. She sat curled in a ball. Her head pulled into her knees.

Pelagia’s hair swayed as Darcy breathed harder. The smell of his breath caught her attention. Her head shot around and spotted Darcy. With a blood-curdling scream, Pelagia took off again through the maze. Darcy reached out a monstrous hand and grabbed for Pelagia’s shoulder. She shook free and continued her pursuit through the maze.

“I’ve got to stop glowing,” Pelagia whispered to herself.

As she rounded another corner Pelagia tried to calm herself. With thoughts of fruits and flowers, Pelagia’s glow began to dim. Her eyes weren’t used to the darkness, causing her to run into a wall and fall.

Darcy had lost sight of the little sprite when she dimmed herself. She was one of the best victims he had ever chased.

“Where did you go?” Darcy growled.

Pelagia pulled herself up. As she took a step a hot pain ripped through your right leg causing her to scream.

Darcy darted in the direction of the scream. Pelagia limped as fast as she could, but Darcy was too fast and too use to the maze. She could feel his hot breath on her neck. His cool fingertips touched her skin. She jerked away, but her leg gave out sending her tumbling down. Darcy grabbed the wounded girl by the neck. Pelagia kicked and struggled to get out of his grasp, but it was no use. Darcy tossed her against the wall of the maze like a rag doll. Pelagia’s head bounced off the wall sending her into darkness.

***

Pelagia’s eyes blinked open to a searing pain in her head and a blinding light. As her sight cleared a familiar face came into view. Padraig crouched over her. Pelagia tried to move out from under him, but her body wouldn’t move. The only thing she could move was her eyes. She rolled her eyes as far down as she could. Nothing was between her and Padraig. She laid naked under him.

Padraig leaned over her, pressing his hands into the pillow beside of her head. Pelagia tried with all her might to scream, but nothing came out. The only thing she could do was lie there. Padraig continued using Pelagia until she passed out again. That didn’t stop him. For hours Padraig would ravage Pelagia, stopping to rest for a few moments before starting again. Finally, he had his fill and left her.

***

A few hours later, Pelagia came too in the same blinding white room. This time she could move her head and body. She jerked up to a sitting position causing waves of pain to rocket throughout her body. A soft whimper escaped her throat.

“It’s about time you woke up. I was beginning to worry about you,” Adeline cooed from the corner.

Adeline stood at the far side of the room. She wore a long green evening gown that sparkled in the midday sun that shined through the window. Her red hair cascaded around her body. Picking up a glass of water, Adeline glided across the room to Pelagia. Trying to avoid her touch, Pelagia slid across the bed as far away from her as she could get.

“You know, my husband really enjoyed having you. He’d never been with a virgin before. You may have ruined him for any other woman. But the problem is, you’re never going to feel like that again.”

Pelagia tried her best to curl up into a ball, but her leg hurt too badly from her fall. For the first time, she saw what her body looked like. Her thighs held dark bruises shaped like fingers. A stain of red blood covered part of the sheets. Adeline smiled as she watched the fear fill Pelagia’s face.

“Well, I have someplace I need to be. I didn’t dress like this for you. You really should drink some water. You’re probably severely dehydrated.”

Adeline strolled towards the door before stopping.

“Don’t think that can go anywhere. Your buddy Darcy will be watching your every move.”

Adeline left Pelagia alone with Darcy. Darcy stood at the door with his arms crossed wearing nothing but a loincloth. Pelagia accessed the damage Padraig and Darcy had caused. There wasn’t a spot on her that didn’t ache or hurt. The knee she had hurt was black and blue and swollen. Her arms felt like they had 100-pound weights strapped to them. Tears started to flow as she continued to think about what had happened.

She eased herself off the bed and hobbled towards the window. She opened the door to the balcony and stepped outside. The sun was hot on her cold skin and caused her head to pound. Darcy grunted, calling her back inside. Pelagia took one last look outside. She was in the top room of the turret she had noticed when Adeline first brought her to the castle.

Pelagia eased back to the bed and leaned against the post. Darcy stared at the young sprite. He had never been put on guard duty before. In fact, he had never seen what happened to the women he chased through the maze after he immobilized them.

“Excuse me,” Pelagia began, “Where can I use the bathroom?”

Darcy said nothing but pointed towards a bucket in the corner of the room. Pelagia sighed.

“I can’t go in that. Can’t you take me to one of the bathrooms?”

“No,” Darcy grumbled, still pointing at the bucket.

“My leg is all messed up. I’m not going to be able to squat over that. I have a shy bladder too.”

“I don’t care.”

“Please, all I’m asking is that you step outside the door. I’ll manage to squat over the bucket, and you won’t have to watch. There’s no way for me to escape except through that door.”

Darcy growled, shaking the floor. Pelagia pushed herself against the bedpost. Darcy took a step towards her, holding out a hand.

“Two minutes,” he said, raising two fingers.

“Thank you.”

Darcy slipped out the bedroom door, closing it behind him. Adeline and Padraig glided up the white marble stairs. Adeline held a basket of food, Padraig, a bottle of wine.

“She is magnificent. I think I can convince her to be my pet,” Padraig said.

“I’m glad you like her, but what about Darcy? He’s going to miss the maze.”

“We’ll send him someone through from time to time, but he’ll be Pelagia’s guard the rest of the time.”

“That should…” Adeline’s thought stopped when she saw Darcy standing outside of the bedroom door, “What is that fool doing?”

Adeline dropped the basket of food and took off towards Darcy. With a shove of her hand, she sent him flying back into the wall.

“Why are you in the hall?” Adeline screamed.

“She needed to pee.”

“So. You watch her. She gets no privacy.”

“She can’t escape but through this door.”

“You fool. There is a large window and balcony in that room,” Padraig interjected.

“She would fall to her death if she tried to go out that window.”

Adeline grumbled as she pushed past Darcy into the bedroom. Padraig ran in after his wife, looking around. Adeline took off to the bucket, but it hadn’t been used. There was no sign of Pelagia. Padraig tapped his wife on the shoulder and pointed towards the balcony. The doors were open and the white curtains flapped softly in the breeze. Far below them, in the gardens, a screamed rippled up through the window.

Running out on the balcony, Adeline and Padraig looked down to the concrete floor below. A small red stain began to grow as blood rushed out of Pelagia’s smashed skull. Gardeners rushed over to help, but there was nothing that could be done. Her fate had been fulfilled, and all that would remain of her was the stain that would never leave the Buckley’s garden.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

Short Story – Just Desserts

A note before I begin the story. This story is posted on my website, but I wanted to make sure that everybody sees and reads my stories. Let me know what you think.

Growing up in a large town like Boston made Katie grateful for her new town. Katie moved to Nantucket ten years ago and quickly found her groove. Her cupcake shop, Sweet Treats, was up and running within a year. Now her shop was a staple, and a must try for the tourists.

Katie balanced the purple box of cupcakes in one hand as she unlocked the glass door to her shop. With a bump of her hip, the door swung open releasing the air-conditioned air from the shop. A shadow loomed over her as she walked through the door. She knew that shadow. She caught the door with her foot before it closed in the shadow’s face.

“Thank you,” said the gruff voice of the local-rent-a-cop.

Neil had moved to Nantucket around the time Sweet Treats had opened and had tried his best to become a police officer. The problem was, he was as blind as a bat. They felt sorry for him and gave him a job as a security guard at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital.

“Good morning Neil. I’ll have the coffee on in a minute.”

Every Friday morning Neil would come by just as Katie unlocked the shop. They would have coffee together, and he would help her get the shop ready. She had asked him once why he only came by on Friday. He stated simply, that it was the only morning he didn’t have to go in early. That was Neil, a simple, straightforward guy.

“I’m here on official business this morning.”

“Official business?” Katie asked, sitting the cupcake box on the counter. “Did somebody miss a doctor’s appointment?”

“No, somebody died.”

“It’s a hospital. People die there sometimes.”

“The death didn’t happen at the hospital. It happened at the wine and food festival last night.”

Katie stood silent for a moment. A lot had happened the night before. She had been busy at her cupcake stand for most of it and only had a break when her assistant Amy took over. She vaguely remembered noticing a hubbub around the lighthouse but assumed somebody had a bit too much wine.

“What happened?” Katie asked.

“Mr. Keenan was murdered.”

Mr. Keenan was the president of the bank and an unpleasant person in general. There were a countless number of people in town that had been tricked by Mr. Keenan. Several of the old ladies had lost their savings because of ‘overdraft fees.’ Newly married couples were warned to steer clear of Mr. Keenan’s bank if they were looking to finance a new house.

“Why are you here?”

“The other cops are busy talking to the witnesses, and they asked if I would be willing to talk to you,” Neil replied, looking at his feet.

“Did they really?”

“No, but I think they would have. I thought I could be helpful.”

Neil was always trying to be helpful, and he always wrapped Katie up in his escapades. Most of the time they were simple things like a missing wallet or a lost dog. This was by far the most interesting. Murders were virtually unheard of on the island. Katie pressed the on button and listened as the water began to gurgle in the coffee maker.

“What information were you looking to get from me?”

“I know you were working the festival, and I wanted to find out what you saw.”

“Unfortunately I didn’t see anything. Do you know what happened?”

“Grace found his body at the bottom of the lighthouse. There weren’t any visible wounds, but the police said he had signs of asphyxiation. I’ve heard some people say they saw Margaret fleeing the lighthouse shortly before Grace found him.”

Margaret Fleming was the local good girl. She was involved in every church function. She was the first to volunteer for everything, and she was the best at getting people to donate to a worthy cause. Margaret had never been in trouble a day in her life. Katie had bought her shop from Margaret. Sweet Treats had become a success because of her for two reasons: she warned Katie to stay away from Mr. Keenan, and Margaret loved flyers.

Katie couldn’t see someone as sweet and gentle as Margaret suffocating a grown man to death. It may have been quite a few decades since Mr. Keenan had seen his hair, but he was a large, stout man. He had enjoyed his fair share of Katie’s cupcakes.

“Margaret couldn’t have killed him,” Katie said, pouring them both a cup of coffee.

“That’s what I thought.”

The shop door banged open and Amy came bounding in, tossing her purse on the counter. She grabbed a cup of coffee and turned towards her friends.

“Guess what?” Amy quizzed.

“What?” Katie replied.

“Margaret Fleming was arrested for murder this morning.”

Katie eased her coffee cup to the counter. Stunned, she stared at Amy. Had they even bothered to investigate the murder? There was no way a woman of 50, that weighed 90 pounds soaking weight, could murder a man that weight well over 300. Neil fiddled with a button on the side of his utility belt.

“Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?” Amy asked.

“How did you find out?”

“I just saw them taking her from the library in handcuffs a minute ago.”

Katie darted over to the window and peered out. Neil looked out over her head. Sure enough, there was a cop car parked outside of the library with Margaret in it. Amy was bad for sharing gossip she heard around town, and for the most part, it turned out to be false. But Katie was seeing this with her own two eyes.

People had started to gather around the library to see what was going on. Katie made her way out of her shop and eased her way over. She had to hear this for herself. She wanted to know the evidence they had that suggested Margaret had killed Mr. Keenan. The closer she came to the crowd, the louder their voices became.

“I saw her do it,” shouted some teenage boy.

His mother quickly covered his mouth and shooed him away. Besides a few loud-mouthed teens, everybody else had the same concerns as Katie. There was no way a tiny woman could strangle such a large man with her bare hands.

Katie and Neil followed the cruiser to the police station. They raced inside as they took Margret to the booking station. Sheriff Cox looked up over his newspaper and eyed the two of them.

“What can I help you with?” he asked, looking back at the paper.

“We want to know why Margaret was arrested,” Katie stated.

“Didn’t you hear? She killed Mr. Keenan.”

The Sheriff shoved a powdered donut in his face, washing it down with a gulp of coffee.

“No offense, sir, but do you really think somebody Mrs. Flemings size could have killed him?” asked Neil.

“Nope, but that’s the only lead we have. Unless you two can give us more information, she is our one and only suspect.”

“Can we talk to her?” Katie asked.

“If you can figure out the truth, then, by all means, be my guest. I’m not interested in getting flack from the town for arresting their beloved librarian.”

Katie smiled at the Sheriff. She and Neil made their way over to the booking station. Officer Miles held up his hand, stopping them.

“You’re not allowed back there,” stated Officer Miles, puffing out his chest.

“Let them through,” the Sheriff shouted.

Office Miles stepped back; his chest deflated and motioned them through. Margaret sat behind the cold table in the interrogation room. A dim light shined overhead, accentuating the bags under her eyes and her tired appearance. Katie and Neil eased in the room. Margaret glanced up at them. A momentary look of relief flashed across her face.

Margaret looked down at her hands. The cold grey cuffs glistened in the dim light. Katie sat down at the table across from her. Neil stood behind Katie. Katie reached out a gentle hand and touch Margret’s.

“What happened?” Katie asked.

“They think I killed Mr. Keenan.”

“But you didn’t?”

“Of course not,” gasped Margaret, “Lord knows he was not a nice man, but I could never hurt another living soul.”

“You were seen running away from the murder scene,” Neil stated.

Margaret fidgeted in her seat. She glanced around the room before settling her gaze back on her hands.

“Margaret, if you know something, please tell us,” Katie pleaded.

“I’m not sure what I saw. Why are you two even here?”

“The Sheriff is at a loss for suspects. I suppose it’s easier for him to blame you than it is to open an investigation. We volunteered to help.”

“So please let us know what you know,” Neil added.

Margaret sighed. She looked up at Katie. By the looks have her eyes; Margaret had been awake all night.

“I saw it happen,” she whispered.

Officer Miles led Katie and Neil to the crime scene. The yellow police tape billowed in the wind. The lighthouse was empty except for the three of them. The sun stood high above them.

“I don’t know why you two are wasting your time with this,” Officer Miles stated.

“Do you seriously think that Mrs. Flemings could have killed such a large man?” asked Katie.

“No, but there is nothing to be found.”

Katie and Neil ducked under the police tape. Just inside the lighthouse door, they could see the outline of Mr. Keenan. Police markers laid on the ground, marking what evidence they had found. Katie and Neil looked around, trying to find anything more. All they could find were the same set of footprints and a cupcake wrapper.

Katie took out her cell and took a photo of the footprint. Neil grabbed a tape measure from his belt and measured the length of the print.

“The print is 11 inches long.”

“That has to be too big for Margaret’s foot. Did you match this print to Margaret?”

“I don’t think so. I just booked her. This is the first I’ve been out here. They did measure it though, it’s in the notes. I think they assumed it was Keenan’s print,” Officer Miles replied.

Katie wandered back over to the cupcake wrapper. Bending over, she looked closer at the wrapper. It was one of hers. It came off of her maple bourbon chocolate cupcakes. Margaret never chose cupcakes with alcohol in them, and Mr. Keenan was allergic to chocolate. His cupcake of choice was always the French vanilla. He had been upset last night that she hadn’t brought any with her.

“Do you have an evidence bag for this?” Katie asked.

Officer Miles ran back to the car, bringing back a forensics case. Opening the case, he reached in a grabbed out an evidence bag. Katie took the bag and a pair of tweezers from Office Miles. She eased the paper into the bag, sealing it.

“What are the odds we could find out the size of Keenan’s foot?” Neil asked.

Officer Miles stared at Neil. A moment later, Miles nodded towards the cruiser.

Officer Miles dropped Katie off at her cupcake shop before taking Miles to the coroners. Amy had been running the shop since Katie left. Katie ran into the shop towards the back. Slinging open the fridge, she pulled out the cupcakes she had brought in that morning. She opened each box trying to find the one that had held the maple bourbon chocolate cupcakes. The only ones that were left were the margarita, butter pecan, and toasted almond.

“What’s up?” Amy asked, leaning against the door frame.

“Did you sell all of the maple bourbon chocolate last night?”

“Yeah, why?”

Katie glanced out into the shop. It was packed with the lunch crowd. She motioned for Amy to come closer.

“I think the killer was eating them.”

“Does the Sheriff know you are working on this?”

“Yes, he told me I could. Do you remember who bought them?”

“A lot of people did. It’s one of our most popular.”

Katie sighed. She slumped back against the counter and glanced at her phone. Neil had said he would call when he found Mr. Keenan’s shoe size. Amy started to head back to the front of the store, stopping at the door.

“Actually, I do remember something strange. Just after I took over, somebody bought a maple bourbon. He was in front of Mr. Keenan. When he turned around, he almost ran into him and Keenan went crazy. He started screaming about how he was allergic to chocolate and other nonsense.”

“Do you remember the guy?”

“Not really, but he was tall, dark, and handsome. I know most everybody on Nantucket, and I didn’t know him.”

That was saying something. Amy headed back to the counter as Katie wracked her brain, trying to remember any new men on the island. Margaret had said she had seen everything, but everything she had seen had been in shadows. The only thing Margaret kept saying was the man was tall and had huge hands. Maybe the tall, dark, and handsome man Amy had seen was the tall, shadowy figure Margaret had seen.

Katie’s phone rang. Neil’s face flashed up on her phone. She swiped across the screen and brought the phone to her ear.

“What did you find out?”

“Come outside, I have something to show you.”

Katie ran outside. Neil grabbed her arm and pulled her around the corner. He handed her his phone, images from the coroner’s office stared at Katie. Flipping through the photos, she saw images of the purple handprints on Keenan’s neck, a half-eaten chocolate cupcake, a strand of black hair, and business card. Katie zoomed in on the business card. It read, Need a Home? Call Derrick Shore for Help Today. Derrick Shore? That wasn’t a name Katie was familiar with.

“Miles let me take all the pictures I wanted, but I couldn’t take anything with me. By the way, Keenan’s foot size was 12 inches.”

“I wonder why they took the half eaten cupcake into evidence, but not the empty wrapper,” Katie mused.

“The cupcake was in his mouth, so it came along with the body.”

“He’s allergic to chocolate. Why would he be eating a chocolate cupcake?”

“Maybe the killer shoved it in his mouth.”

“We need to talk to Derrick Shore. Amy remembers some guy getting yelled at by Mr. Keenan, but didn’t recognize him. I bet anything it was this Shore guy.”

Katie sat in the open waiting area of the local bank. A somber hush filled the room. On a typical day, the bank would be filled by the booming voice of Mr. Keenan. Now things sat calm and quiet. An odd feeling of peace and sadness wrapped the room.

Katie had called the bank to ask if they knew of a Derrick Shore. Since the business card looked like it belonged to somebody in the real estate or bank business, somebody at the bank should know something. They knew who Derrick Shore was. He had come to Nantucket two days earlier. Nobody knew why, but he had met with Mr. Keenan the morning of his death.

“Katie?” asked Derrick as he walked out of Mr. Keenan’s office.

Katie stood and reached out her hand. Derrick politely shook her hand and motioned towards the office. Derrick’s dark black hair was slicked back in a neat coif.

“You own Sweet Treats don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”

“I love you maple bourbon chocolate cupcakes.”

“They are our best sellers.”

“So what can I do for you today?”

“I had some questions about your relationship with Mr. Keenan.”

“This is a small town if a baker is also investigating a murder.”

“I’m trying to help out a friend. So if you could just help me out by answering a few questions, I would greatly appreciate it.”

“I only have a few minutes, but I’d be glad to help.”

“Thank you. How did you know Mr. Keenan?”

“I was going to buy his bank from him.”

Katie hadn’t heard that Mr. Keenan was looking to sell his bank. News like that would have made its rounds on the gossip mill.

“He was selling the bank to you?”

“He contacted me about two months ago; I believe it had just turned 70. He wanted to retire.”

“How did he meet you?”

“We actually met at a convention over two years ago. I had forgotten about him, but he must have kept up with me. He invited me to the wine and food festival last night to talk about things.”

“He didn’t happen to yell at you for nearly hitting him with a chocolate cupcake?”

“Yes, actually, he did. It threw me off guard for a moment, but he apologized later.”

Apologized? Mr. Keenan didn’t apologize. He would knock down a child, and blame the child for messing up his suit. Mr. Keenan must have really wanted to sell the bank if he had apologized.

“Thank you for your time. I should get going now.”

Derrick showed Katie out. The sun had started to dip towards the horizon. Katie’s stomach growled. She hadn’t stopped to eat anything. Katie looked at her watch. It was creeping up on two. Neil should be getting ready for lunch. That would give them time to talk, and eat.

Neil and Katie sat in the hospital cafeteria, a tray of hospital food in front of them both. Katie poked at the spaghetti on her plate. Neil had tried to ask some of the patients about Mr. Keenan’s death but had only succeeded in getting reprimanded. Katie knew Derrick had to be connected to his death somehow. He had big feet, big hands, and black hair. He also had eaten his fair share of maple bourbon cupcakes.

“Mr. Keenan was selling his bank?” Neil asked for the third time.

“Yes, and he apologized.”

Grace Park walked past their table for the fifth time since they had sat down to eat. She worked as a nurse at the hospital and had been the one that found Mr. Keenan. She was also the reason why Margaret was in jail. Grace was the only one that had seen Margaret running from the lighthouse. She paused and turned back to Katie.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but did you say that Mr. Keenan was selling his bank?”

“Yeah, to some guy named Derrick Shore,” Katie replied.

“I meet Derrick about an hour before I found Keenan, and he said that Keenan had turned down his offer. Mr. Keenan wasn’t looking to sell; Derrick was trying to buy his bank.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, he was pretty chatty about it.”

“Neil, come by my shop when you get off work. I have to get back to the bank.”

Katie raced towards the door, bumping into Clyde Owens. Clyde was a hulk of a man. If he hadn’t grabbed Katie’s arm, he would have knocked her to the ground.

“Sorry,” Clyde mumbled.

Clyde worked at the hospital as a maintenance man. His boss had called him early that morning to let him know that he could have the day off if he needed it. Clyde was Mr. Keenan’s nephew. When his mother died, Mr. Keenan refused to take him in, so he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in Chicago. He moved back to Nantucket when he turned 18 in hopes of learning more about his mother, but that proved to be futile.

“It’s okay. It was my fault,” Katie said, sliding out the door.

Clyde straightened his black hair, nodding at Katie as she left.

Back at the bank, Katie ran into Derrick’s new office, interrupting a meeting. A little old lady sat across from Derrick, her hands shaking gently as she looked up at Katie.

“I’m sorry for the interruption, but I have to talk to you,” Katie stated.

“We were just finishing things up. If you can give me five minutes, I will be right with you,” Derrick replied coolly.

Katie stepped back into the lobby. She paced in front of Derrick’s office. Customers stared at Katie, her anxious energy worrying them. Officer Miles stepped through the bank doors. He paused for a moment, looking for Katie. Katie waved at him, grabbing his attention.

“Neil told me you were here. He said you had new information.”

“I’ll tell you once I talk to Derrick again.”

“Who’s Derrick?”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you later.”

The door of Derrick’s office squeaked open as the little old lady walked out. She glowered at Katie as she headed towards the door. Derrick motioned for Katie to come in. Officer Miles walked in behind her, staying close to the door.

“So, Mr. Keenan contacted you to sell the bank?”

“Yes, he did. I thought we went over this earlier today?”

“We did, but I just had an interesting conversation with Grace Park. Do you remember her from the festival?”

Derrick glanced up at Officer Miles. Worry clouded over his eyes.

“Vaguely,” he mumbled.

“Can you guess what she told me?”

“Okay, I lied. Besides Mr. Keenan, Grace was the only one that knew I had approached him to buy his bank. I did meet him at a conference a few years back, and he did remember me, but he was never interested in selling. But that doesn’t mean I killed him.”

Katie looked back at Officer Miles. He had taken out his notepad and was writing down notes. Glancing up, he noticed the worried look on Derrick’s face.

“I think we need to take you in. I believe the Sheriff will be interested in learning more,” Officer Miles stated, removing his handcuffs from his belt.

“But I didn’t do anything.”

Katie finished cleaning the last display case. Since Amy had handled the store by herself all day, the least Katie could do was clean up. Amy sat at the corner table, a cup of coffee in one hand and a margarita cupcake in the other. The smell of pine sol mixed with the coffee creating an almost sickening smell.

Katie slid the cleaning supplies back in the closet and washed her hands. She felt proud of herself. Not only had she cleaned the shop in record time, but she had helped Neil free Margaret. She poured a cup of coffee and made her way over to Amy.

“I can’t believe you solved a murder case,” Amy stated, as Katie sat down.

“I didn’t solve a case, I just freed Margaret. All the Sheriff needed was another lead.”

“I’m pretty sure that Derrick guy did it. He wanted to buy the bank, and Keenan told him no. What better way to step in and take over. He also liked your maple bourbon cupcakes.”

“True.”

Katie took a sip of her coffee. She looked out the window over at the library. She pictured Margaret walking up those steps tomorrow morning. Katie had wanted to go the station with Officer Miles so that she could tell Margaret the good news, but he had suggested she stay behind.

Katie had reluctantly agreed. She called Neil, though. He said he would go to the station once he got off work and let her know how things worked out. Katie glanced at her phone again. A quarter till six. Neil had gotten off work 15 minutes ago.

“Stop looking at your phone,” Amy said.

“I can’t help it.”

“Go to the station if you are that worried.”

“I promised I wouldn’t. I’ll just wait for Neil to call.”

The bell jingled over the front door causing Katie and Amy to look up. Neil walked in. His brow furrowed as he fussed with his phone. Amy grabbed Neil a cup of coffee before grabbing herself another cupcake.

“So?” Katie asked.

Neil blindly sat down at the table and took a sip of the coffee. Katie stared at Neil. Amy shook his arm. He continued messing with his phone, ignoring the girls.

“Neil!” Katie shouted.

Neil jumped, noticing the girls for the first time.

“Sorry, I was trying to pull up the info Miles sent me.”

“Are they releasing Margaret?”

“Yes, but they’re releasing Derrick as well.”

“Why?” Amy asked.

“The footprint didn’t match, and Margaret said his size wasn’t big enough.”

“So we still don’t know who killed Keenan.”

“Look on the bright side, you freed Margaret,” Amy said.

Neil slid his phone over to Katie, a picture of the sole of a shoe shown on the screen. The shoe design was smooth compared to the lined print left at the murder scene. Swiping left, Katie saw a picture of Derrick’s hands beside the image of the bruises on Keenan’s neck. Derrick’s hands were considerably smaller than the bruises.

“It was just a coincidence that he liked the same cupcakes as the killer.”

“What is the Sheriff going to do?”

“I don’t know, he wouldn’t tell me anything.”

“That’s a footprint from the murder scene?” Amy asked, leaning over the table to get a better look.

“Yeah, why?” Katie asked.

“I’ve seen that print before. The nurses and custodians at the hospital all wear shoes like that.”

“Seriously?”

“Mhm.”

Katie looked at Neil. He grabbed his phone, sliding it back in his pocket. Katie grabbed her car keys and led Neil out the door.

“Where you going?” Amy yelled after them.

Neil unlocked the security access door and eased in, making sure it was clear. Katie snuck in behind him, easing the door shut. Neil checked the roster to see who was on duty for the night shift.

“Todd’s working tonight. We shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

“Why do we have to sneak around? You’re allowed to be here.”

“Yeah, but you’re not. Only hospital personnel can be in the security and nurse locker rooms.”

Neil motioned towards the door. Easing the door open, he poked his head into the hallway. Neil opened the door for Katie to ease through. Neil led them down the hall towards a set of double doors with the words Authorized Personnel Only written across it. As Neil reached for the keypad the doors swung open, barely missing him. Todd Jenkins, the on-duty guard, stepped through.

“What’s up four-eyes? Katie?”

“Todd, hi. I was just… uh…”

“I had lunch with Neil earlier, and I think I left my phone. He was going to go look for it.”

“Through there?”

“Shortcut,” Neil shouted.

“Go ahead, but I’ll expect a free cupcake,” Todd said, winking at Katie.

Katie feigned a laugh and followed Neil through the doors. Neil motioned for Katie to stay close to the walls.

“Todd may not care, but the nurses or doctors might have something to say.”

Katie nodded, staying close to Neil and the wall. Footsteps echoed up the hallway beside them. Neil opened the closest door and shoved Katie in. When the door slammed closed, Kate stood inside a dark custodial closet. Katie leaned her ear against the door trying to hear what was going on. The thickness of the door blocked out all the sounds of the hallway.

Katie felt around for a light switch. Her fingers snagged across the switch, illuminating the small closet. Mops and brooms leaned up against the far wall. Shelves along the walls held hospital gowns and towels. In the far corner, a blue lunch box and matching thermos sat on a small table. Katie stepped towards the little table, investigating the lunch box. The name Clyde was written across the lunch box in black sharpie. Katie eased the lunch box open. Inside was an empty cupcake wrapper, a ball of tin foil, and an empty bag of chips. The closet door opened.

“Come on, hurry,” Neil whispered.

Katie slipped back out of the closet and followed Neil towards the locker room. Neil eased into the locker room, motioning Katie in when he discovered it was empty.

“All the shoes, head coverings, and masks are kept in here. The actual locker rooms are through these two side doors. The women’s on the right and men’s on the left.”

“We just need the shoes.”

“Here, I grabbed an extra one so that you could help,” Neil said, handing Katie a tape measure, “Nobody else should be coming in or leaving for at least 30 minutes, so we shouldn’t have to worry about anybody catching us.”

Katie stepped towards the cubbies that held the numerous pairs of shoes. Some were filled with white shoes, and others held regular shoes. Neil and Katie went through measuring the shoes in each cubby.

“Neil, these tennis shoes are eleven inches. Do you know who number 53 is?”

“I think that’s Clyde’s number.”

“I found his lunch box in the closet you shoved me into earlier.”

“And?”

“It had a cupcake wrapper in it. It was the one I use for the maple bourbon cupcakes.”

“He gets off in ten minutes, and always leaves through the back. We could meet him there.”

Katie nodded, staring at the shoe in her hand. Why would the killer still be wearing their work shoes? They only wore white shoes in the hospital. Clyde should have been wearing his tennis shoes at the festival.

Katie and Neil waited by the back exit for Clyde to come out. They had been waiting for over 30 minutes. Katie was ready to leave and forget about it when the door opened. Clyde walked out, lunch box in hand, and tennis shoes on his feet.

“Clyde, good to see you, can we talk?” Neil asked

“I guess,” Clyde mumbled.

“Do you wear a size 11 ½ shoe?” Katie asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Just curious. Did you enjoy the festival last night?”

“The festival? I had to work last night.”

The back door swung open revealing a burly, angry looking nurse. In her hands, she held a pair of dirty white shoes.

“Clyde Owens,” boomed the angry nurse, “Would you like to explain why these shoes are dirty?”

Neil took out his phone and turned on the recorder. Clyde looked at the nurse, anger filling his eyes.

“You also disappeared during your shift. You left for your break and were gone for three hours. I said you could go to the festival for a bit, but you had to come back. If I find out you wore these shoes out of this hospital, their replacement is coming out of your salary.”

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but did you say you let Clyde go to the festival last night?” Katie asked.

“Yeah.”

Katie looked at Clyde. A red flush had started to creep up his neck and onto his face. Neil looked over at Clyde’s hands. The skin around his cuticles looked darker than the rest.

“Clyde, did you hurt your hands?”

“Hmm?” Clyde grunted, turning towards Neil and shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Can I see your hands?”

“No, you’re not a cop. You’re a damn security guard. You have no authority.”

“You’re a fan of my maple bourbon cupcakes aren’t you?” Katie asked, bringing his attention back to her.

“Yeah, so what?” Clyde shouted.

“It must be really hard on you today, with your uncle getting killed last night.”

“Not really. We didn’t get along.”

“Did you hear that he was found with one of my maple bourbon cupcakes in his mouth?”

“So, he liked those. Everybody does.”

“No, he was allergic to chocolate,” Officer Miles said as he came around the corner.

When Neil turned on his phone’s recorder, he had paged Officer Miles. Miles had heard the entire conversation.

“No he wasn’t,” Clyde spat.

“Yes, in fact, he was. He yelled at me on numerous occasions that I should get rid of all my chocolate cupcakes,” Katie said, “You, on the other hand, loved them.”

Clyde struck his hand out reaching for Katie. Officer Miles grabbed his arm, pulling it behind his back. Neil grabbed his other arm, inspecting his hand. The palm of Clyde’s hand was tinged blue with bruising.

“How did you bruise your hand?” Neil asked.

“He was selling his bank! First, he refused to take me in after my mother died, and now he is selling his bank to some stranger instead of giving it to his next of kin. I’m stuck working for this bear of a woman for breadcrumbs, while he does nothing but rip off little old ladies.”

“He wasn’t selling his bank,” Katie said.

“Yes, he was. I heard it from some guy named Derrick.”

“That was a lie. Derrick came to him. He wanted to buy the bank from Keenan, but he turned him down.”

Clyde’s head slumped down as Officer Miles clasped the cuffs around his wrists. He looked up at Katie, realization dawning in his eyes.

“How did you figure out it was me?”

“Your work shoes. Had you taken the time to change into your tennis shoe, it would have been a lot harder to figure you out,” Katie replied.

“I kept them on to make things harder. Everybody in the hospital wears them.”

“Exactly, it led us straight to the hospital.”

Officer Miles led Clyde to his cruiser, sliding him in the back seat. Neil put his arm around Katie’s shoulders, giving her a slight hug.

Once back at the station, Margaret identified Clyde as the killer. After she saw his stature and hands, she remembered seeing him in his custodial uniform. As for her fleeing the scene instead of getting help, she had been too afraid to speak. She hadn’t seen where Clyde had disappeared to, and she was worried that he would see her and kill her as well.

When everybody learned that Margaret had been released, they all gathered at her house to welcome her home. Katie and Amy brought cupcakes, and Neil brought coffee.

“Thank you, Katie. I don’t know what would have happened if you and Neil hadn’t have helped.”

“It’s the least I could do. You kept Mr. Keenan from ruining my life, so I owed you one.”

Margaret laughed as she wrapped Katie in a hug. Katie really did love her little island family.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. I will be making Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles available for free on Kindle in the coming weeks, so make sure you keep an eye out so that you don’t miss your chance.

Flowers in The Attic – My Thoughts

Yes, I’m talking about the V.C. Andrews novel Flowers in The Attic. It was published in 1979 and is considered a Gothic novel. There is even a Lifetime movie based on the book, and, no, I have not watched the movie., but the movie was the reason why I wanted to read the book. Just so you know, there will be spoilers ahead in this post. That means if you have not read it, and you don’t want anything ruined for you, STOP READING NOW. Thank you.

So, a quick little overview of what this book is about:

Four children and their mother go to live with their grandmother when their father dies. Their grandmother turns out to be a fire and brimstone woman, and their mother, at first, seems to be a sweet woman who is doing the best she can.

The children are forced to live in the attic until their grandfather dies because he didn’t approve of his daughter’s marriage, and he doesn’t know she has children.

The amazing thing about this book is that my emotions followed Cathy’s, the oldest girl and 2nd oldest child. At first, I was sympathetic to the mother and optimistic that things would work out. Then, as the story progressed, and the mother became more and more ostentatious in how the dressed and acted, the more annoyed I became with her. She broke promise after promise to her children, but if they said anything about it, she played the victim. She felt that if she brought them enough stuff and expensive things that they would forgive her. She believed that money could solve every problem. While money may help out with a lot, it can’t replace love or the knowing that somebody is looking out for you.

I’ve had to deal with people similar to this. No matter what happens in somebody else’s life, their life is always way worse. Or, nothing that happens to them is their fault, there is always somebody else to blame.

Chris, the oldest child, got on my nerves from time to time because of the way he was willing to stand up for their mother. I get it, though. He was trying to stay optimistic. Who wouldn’t want everything to work out in their favor? For them become rich and not have to worry about anything else.

Then their mother remarries. The man she marries doesn’t even know she has kids. By this point, they have been locked away for over two years, going on three.  She barely looks at the two youngest twins. Who, in their time in the attic, have only grown two inches between the ages of five and eight. She hasn’t even noticed that Cathy’s body has changed, and still brings her little girls clothing as if she were still 12 and not 14.

Cathy and Chris make the decision to escape the room, for the safety of the twins. Unfortunately, they don’t make their escape soon enough to help Cory.

They make a replica of the door key, and Chris would sneak out of the room on the nights their mother said she would be out with her husband. He would go to her bedroom and take some money. They do this until they have over $300. That may not seem like much now, but the book is set in the 60’s, so that would probably last them a good little while.

Now, I’m not going to go through every little detail here, I don’t want to give away the big realization. All I can say is, I was as devastated as the children when they learned about their mother’s secret.

If you love books that send you on a roller coaster of emotions, then this is definitely the book for you. I have yet to read the rest of the books in the series to see how the three remaining Dollenganger children survive, but I have the books and I plan on starting Petals on the Wind today.

This book really has everything: a mean God-fearing grandmother, a deceiving mother, innocent children, money, sex, incest, and arsenic.

If you’ve read the book, tell me what you thought.