Berkley Street: Berkley Street Series Book 1
Berkley Street: Berkley Street Series Book 1
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An abandoned house. A forgotten evil. Home sweet home…
Shane Ryan returns to Nashua and the childhood memories that drove him to join the Marines. After a prolonged legal battle with his aunt and uncle, Shane has possession of the family home where his parents disappeared over 20 years ago. The house, a monstrous castle filled with ghosts and secrets, is more alive than its inhabitants.
When his aunt and uncle come to town, then vanish, Shane's life takes a turn for the worse. Detective Marie Lafontaine immediately labels Shane as the prime suspect. And in a race against time, Shane desperately searches for clues about his parents.
But there's something lurking beyond the walls and beneath the surface. Something sinister that has haunted him ever since he saw its face in the pond behind the house. And it isn’t happy that Shane is back.
It isn’t happy at all.
Chapter 1: Shane, September 1st, 1982
Shane Ryan had never seen a bigger house.
Their new home looked like a castle, with two towers and tall, narrow windows. Shane counted six chimneys. A pair of giant, thick trees stood on either side of the wide front door. A thick stone wall, nearly as tall as Shane’s father, protected the whole property.
“What do you think, kid?” his father asked as he parked the car in the long driveway.
“Is it a castle?” Shane asked.
His mother let out a pleased laugh, and his father shook his head.
“No, kid. The Andersons, well, they were really wealthy. They wanted it to look like a castle on the outside, but on the inside, well, it’s a regular house.”
“Oh,” Shane said, trying not to sound disappointed. “So no secret passages or anything?”
“Who knows?” his mother said, gently slapping his father on the arm. “Who knows?”
“Yeah,” Shane’s father said, winking at him in the rearview mirror, “Who knows?”
“Come on,” Shane’s mother said. “Let’s go inside.”
His father turned the engine off, and Shane dutifully waited for his mother to open the back door of the Cadillac before he got out. The September air was warm and still smelled like summer. Shane saw the grass in the yard was freshly mowed and all of the windows shined. Each gray stone seemed to glow in the sun.
“How big is the yard?” Shane asked, looking around.
“Well,” his father said, following his son’s gaze, “you could fit eight of our old yards into the front yard.”
“Wow,” Shane said, turning and looking at the expanse of grass.
“In the side yard there’s a garden,” his mother said, “there’s also a pond in the backyard.”
Shane felt his eyes widen. “A pond?”
“Yup,” his father said happily. “And you know what else, kid?”
“What?” Shane asked.
“It’s full of fish. We can go fishing whenever we want.”
“Wow,” Shane whispered. “Wow.”
Shane’s parents laughed happily, and he followed them up the front walk. His father took out the house key, unlocked the large door and opened it. Shane stepped into the biggest room he had ever seen.
A huge set of stairs stretched up into darkness, and dim pieces of furniture filled what he realized was a hallway. Close to where Shane stood, a tall grandfather clock ticked away the time.
And behind the tick of the second hand, Shane heard whispers.
Someone whispered in the walls.
Chapter 2: Shane, March 20th, 2016
The fan hummed steadily.
Shane sat up in his narrow bed as the cool air dried the sweat on his body. He took long, deep breaths and looked at the clock.
Six in the morning.
He closed his eyes and forced away the last remnants of his nightmares. He reached over to his bed table, took the bottle of whiskey and glass off of it and poured himself a small shot. Shane drank it quickly and returned them both to their place.
My security blanket, he thought bitterly. He got out of the bed, took the three steps to his bathroom and climbed into the shower. Shane turned on the water and forced himself to stand under it until it warmed up. Finally, with the water tolerable, he scrubbed himself rigorously and then rinsed off.
The bare minimum to get clean and rid himself of the stench of fear and sweat.
Once out of the shower, he dried off and looked at himself in the mirror.
Thin face. Haggard eyes. No hair.
Alopecia areata, he thought, running a hand over his smooth scalp. His pale skin looked sickly in the light of the fluorescent lamp above the mirror. Unexplained hair loss. Pretty sure I can explain it, Shane thought angrily.
With a shake of his head, he forced himself to focus on his morning routine. He brushed his teeth, went back into his bedroom and got dressed. A pair of jeans and a black tee shirt. Running shoes and a pullover sweatshirt of dark gray. Absently he rolled the wedding band on his ring finger as he walked to his kitchenette.
Oatmeal for breakfast. Strong coffee. Vitamins. A banana and two pieces of rye bread toasted.
No matter how much he ate, though, he wouldn’t get up over one hundred and forty-five pounds.
Tall and thin, he thought. Just like dad.
Shane put his wallet in his pocket, took his phone and his keys, and left his apartment. The noises of the world fell in around him, and he did his best to ignore them. He took his walk alone in the early morning light. The streets were clear of snow, although salt and sand crunched beneath his feet.
Winter had slipped by New Hampshire and snow had been a rare sight. Ice, however, had visited more than once, and the streets were always treated for it.
Shane fought the urge to stop at the Paki’s corner store for a pack of cigarettes, but he walked by. He reached the top of Library Hill, walked around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and made his way back to his apartment on Locust Street.
Once inside, he poured himself a fresh cup of coffee and went to his laptop. He powered it up, logged into his work account, and looked to see what needed to be translated.
Among the work emails, he found one from O’Connor Law Associates.
Oh, Jesus, what now? He thought, opening the email.
His heart leaped at what it said.
Dear Mr. Ryan, the email began.
We are pleased to inform you the proceedings regarding your family’s home at 125 Berkley Street have finally finished.
The house is yours, per your parents’ wishes, and your uncle and aunt have exhausted their financial and legal options.
Please call my office at your earliest convenience so we might sign the appropriate paperwork and give you the keys to your home.
Shane sat back and stared at the email.
The keys to my home.
Shane leaned forward and jotted the number for the firm down on his notepad.
Now I’ll find them, he told himself, joy and rage twining together in his heart. Now I will find them.
Chapter 3: Shane, September 15th, 1982
“Are you awake?”
Shane sat up and turned on his light. His heart beat quickly, and he looked around his large room. The curtains were drawn on the tall windows. His books were lined neatly on his shelves. Legos were scattered across the floor by the old fireplace.
“Are you awake?” the voice asked again.
Shane twisted around in his bed. Neither his mother nor his father was in his room.
He was alone.
He couldn’t tell where the voice came from. His mouth was dry, so he swallowed, wet his lips with his tongue, and said in a low voice, “I’m awake.”
“Good,” the voice said.
It came from behind his dresser.
“Why? Why is it good?” Shane asked.
“Because they don’t want you here,” the voice said. “They don’t want you. Here.”
His heart thumped heavily, and he managed to ask, “Who?”
“Don’t ask,” the voice said. “I want you here. I’m lonely.”
Shane tried to speak but couldn’t. The sound of his blood as it rushed through him nearly drowned out his own thoughts. “Why are you lonely?” Shane whispered.
“I’ve been here a long time. Such a very long time.”
The bureau started to move, inch by inch, into the room. It swung out slowly from the wall, and a dark shadow appeared.
It took Shane a moment to realize there was a passage in the wall.
A soft scrape slipped out of the darkness, and it was quickly followed by a sigh.
The speaker stepped into the room.
A girl. Perhaps eight or nine.
Dead, dead, dead.
She smelled like death, and her skin was shrunken, pulled tight across her bones. Her lips were stretched in a gruesome smile, and long teeth protruded from her yellow jawbone.
“I’m lonely,” she said, stepping into the room. Bits of fabric fell from her ragged, gray dress. Her brown hair was tied back with a faded red bow, and the bones of her feet cracked as she walked. “I’m lonely. I want to play.”
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