Brutal Lessons: Haunted Village Series Book 6
Brutal Lessons: Haunted Village Series Book 6
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Subject B is about to learn a new lesson in terror…
Marcus Holt survived the Vietnam War. But his greatest battle has only just began. Kidnapped by the sadistic Professor Abel Worthe, the retired soldier is forced to take part in a diabolical experiment. Now known as Subject B, Marcus is trapped in a haunted village, where he must survive one terrifying ordeal after another. All so Worthe can discover just how much fear one man can survive…
When the insane professor imprisons a former employee in the haunted village, the terrified young man joins forces with Marcus and the others. As the group navigates the remains of a rotting old schoolhouse, they are stalked by the vengeful spirit of its former headmaster. This blood-thirsty ghost is forever bound to an old wooden cane… a weapon he uses to beat people to death.
Marcus must call upon all his strength and courage to survive this new threat, and unravel a secret that links his fate to the diabolical Professor Worthe. But when another survivor develops the terrifying power to see the dead, they soon find themselves faced with a new mystery…
Is this chilling psychic ability a blessing? Or a deadly curse in disguise?
Chapter 20: Plans and Punishments
Marcus came to a stop in front of the schoolhouse. He looked at it with disgust and trepidation.
A guard stood on either side of him, the one on the right smaller than the guard on the left.
"I'll take him to the door," the smaller of the two said, and the voice was familiar, although Marcus couldn't place it.
There was a tug on his right side, and the smaller guard said, "Come on."
Reluctantly, Marcus walked alongside the guard to the front door.
"The door's unlocked," the guard said, and then, in a voice almost too low to hear, added, "Check your right pocket, Marcus."
A heartbeat later, he was alone.
He walked to the door, opened it, and stepped into the schoolhouse. As the door clicked shut behind him, Marcus slipped his hand into his right pocket and felt something solid and hard that hadn't been there before.
His breath caught in his throat as he removed the item and saw it was a small piece of iron. Quickly, he took off his mitten, grasped the painfully cold piece of metal in his hand, and then returned them both to the protection of the mitten.
As he did this, a powerful, almost nauseating scent of blood filled his nose, and in the gloom of the schoolhouse, he saw a body.
He suspected he was looking at a woman, but he was unable to determine the age or even ethnicity. Her head was a bloody pulp. Blood, brains, and bones were scattered over a wide swath of the floor.
"She wasn't a particularly bright student," a voice said from the darkness near the front of the schoolhouse. "Of course, that's the nature of her gender, is it not?"
Marcus didn't respond. Instead, he tried to determine exactly where the speaker was.
A moment later, the ghost stepped forward from the slate chalkboard. In his hands, he carried an ornately carved cane that was stained with blood.
"Hello," Marcus said, tightening his grip on the iron.
"Hello indeed," the dead man replied, nodding. "Are you another student for me to discipline?"
"Evidently," Marcus stated evenly.
The dead man chuckled. "I am Nathan. What is your name?"
"Ah," Nathan said, nodding. "That is a good and strong name. Did your parents favor the Romans?"
Marcus shook his head. "They didn't favor anything of value."
"A pity," Nathan said. "Undoubtedly, this rubbed off on yourself."
"Undoubtedly," Marcus agreed.
"Well," Nathan said, grinning. "Shall you take the same test this poor unfortunate failed?"
"Certainly," Marcus said.
"It's unfortunate, really," Nathan said. "She didn't have much of a chance. Females are horrific learners. Now, if I am to be completely honest, and I feel honesty is important, I never saw the purpose of teaching young ladies anything past the sixth form. What's the purpose of instructing them in algebra or Latin? I don't suppose a well-married young woman would ever need to speak the language of the Church, nor would she have a need to employ any of algebras theorems. However, I distract myself. The point of the matter is I don't think they need to be taught. Disciplined is an entirely separate subject."
Marcus nodded towards the dead man's cane. "Is that how you administer your discipline?"
"It is," the dead schoolmaster said, thumping the floor with it. "Crafted from a large burl on an oak tree. I've never had a sturdier companion."
Marcus didn't respond to the statement.
"Now, tell me," Nathan said, taking an eager step forward, "what is the first line in Caesar's Gallic Wars?"
In Latin, Marcus responded, "Perhaps you should give me a difficult question. Or, perhaps that is your idea of difficult?"
The dead man looked surprised for a moment, then he let out a high, cold laugh, nodding his head with pleasure.
"Well played, sir," Nathan replied in Latin. "Thank you. Should I challenge your knowledge of math?"
"If you like," Marcus said, switching back to English. "Or perhaps science? I think, though, whatever you might know of the latter would be insignificant compared to what is known now."
"Mind your tongue, Marcus," the dead man said in a soft voice. "I've beaten smarter men than you to death."
"I'm sure you have," Marcus said, tightening his grip on the iron in his mitten. "But I doubt you've done it to more violent men."
Nathan stepped forward several paces, narrowed his eyes, and then a crooked smile appeared on his face. "You're a killer."
"A soldier," Nathan stated.
"That I was," Marcus agreed.
"You took pleasure in it," the dead man announced.
The truth of the statement stung him, but Marcus said, "Yes, I did. Too much at times."
"There is no 'too much' when it comes to enjoying murder, Marcus," Nathan said, straightening up. "Never too much. Now, what shall we do with you?"
"Let me go the way I came in," Marcus stated.
Nathan chuckled and shook his head. "That is not an option, I am afraid. No, I think you deserve a beating. If only because that is what I was brought in to do. I enjoy it, and you seem to have a spirit that was never quite broken. I'd like to try my hand at it."
A bitter sneer settled on Marcus' face as he said, "Sir, my father attempted to break me. I doubt you'll come even close to what he did."
"Ah," Nathan said, nodding, smiling. "Alas, I am no man's father."
Before Marcus could move, the dead man lunged towards him, the cane extended as if it were a sword.
The hard, brass-capped end struck him in the sternum, sending Marcus staggering back, gasping at the pain and the agonizing cold that penetrated his warm layers of clothing.
With all the skill of an accomplished fencer, Nathan drew the cane back and lashed out with it.
Grimacing, Marcus raised his left forearm, blocking the blow and grinding his teeth at the impact. Black spots and bright stars danced around the edges of his vision as his injured clavicle protested vehemently at the move. As the dead man reversed his swing and brought it whistling back towards him, Marcus stepped in rather than away. Decades-old bayonet training took over, and he saw with grim satisfaction the look of surprise on Nathan's face.
Snarling at the dead man, Marcus drove his right hand through the ghost's chest, the iron passing through and eliciting a gasp of shock from Nathan before the cane clattered to the floor.
With his left arm screaming in agony from wrist to shoulder, his heart thundering against his chest, and his sternum protesting the blow from the cane, Marcus staggered for the exit, hoping he would escape before the dead man returned.
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