Twenty years ago psychic Sarah Summers fled from the evil that lurked in the woods behind her childhood home after it killed most of her family, but a nasty divorce and financial hardships forced her back when nothing else could have.
With her son, Jeremy, she returns to her grandmother’s dilapidated house and tries to begin a new life. She meets a police detective, Ben, who falls for her, and she prays her fresh visions of bloodshed and death deep among the dark trees are not true.
Then the murders begin again and Sarah is hurtled back into the familiar nightmare that has haunted her her whole life. The evil in the woods is awake again…and this time it wants her last remaining brother, Jim; her son…and her.
With Ben and Jim’s help can she defeat it this time…and live?
I stood in the doorway with Jeremy’s small hand in mine and together, we murmured our final goodbyes to the apartment that had been our home for the last eight years. It was the only home my son had ever known.
“Don’t cry now, Mom. You’re doing real well.” His voice was gentle. The pressure on my hand increased. I glanced down at his thin, freckled face and thoughtful blue eyes and offered a faint smile.
“Don’t worry, son. If I cry now, who’s going to drive? We’ve got a long way to go today and I’m afraid, for you, nine is still a little too young to be fighting the morning rush.” I threw in a tiny laugh and tousled his long blond hair. As usual it fell across his eyes and with an exaggerated gesture he pushed it away from his face.
“Ah, Mom, give me a chance. I’ll show you who can drive a car,” he replied stubbornly.
“Sure you will—over my dead body.” I bantered with him while my eyes kept sweeping the bare walls and stacks of neatly labeled boxes in the room around me. All that was left after ten years of marriage was an empty apartment and an empty heart. The boxes looked like giant children’s scattered blocks, forgotten and unwanted. I didn’t want to leave, but I had no choice.
On impulse, I knelt down on the familiar threshold and ran my fingers lovingly through the rug’s deep peach colored pile. Jonathan and I had picked the carpeting out last year. Was it only last year? As I laid my hand on the wall for support to stand I could see my reflection in the gold-veined mirror tiles on the opposite wall. Yellow sunbeams danced over their glossy surface and made the woman in them look golden, even beautiful with her long light brown hair and slim gracefulness. But looking back into her green eyes I could see the sadness, see the drawn face and the lips which had forgotten how to curve into a genuine smile anymore.
I’d lost twenty pounds since my divorce and still had no appetite. What I hungered for couldn’t be found in a shopping cart.
I’d again lost something precious and not known why. I could help so many other people, strangers really, but not myself. My psychic gift applied to everyone but me. It was as if receiving the gift sometimes forced me to shoulder the ill luck I saved others from. Someone else might take the lashes but I felt the pain in one way or another.
I smiled at the lady in the mirrors and took one last look at the apartment. I was flooded with memories as elusive as mist. Jeremy as a baby, romping from one room to the next. Jonathan reading the paper in his favorite chair by the fireplace as I sketched my pictures at the drawing table in the corner…it seemed so long ago. I put out my hand as if I could see and touch him now, as if there was a magic door into our past waiting for me to enter and undo all that had occurred in the last six months.
I was such a fool.
Quietly, I pulled the door closed and locked it. Inside I could hear the ghosts whispering. Snickering. But I couldn’t stay. I had to make a new life for us now the old one was dead. I couldn’t live in the past any longer. I couldn’t remain bitter, I had to nurture and cherish the good memories.
I slipped the key under the door in the exact place I’d told Jimmy he could find it. He was coming by in a few days to pick up the heavier furniture I’d had to leave behind. He’d fit most of it into his pick-up truck or rent a trailer.
“Are we going now?” Jeremy asked.
“Yes. It’s time to go.” The sun was a huge bright ball overhead. “Here, you can take these.” I handed him two carry-all bags and we walked out to the car together. Jeremy didn’t glance behind once. Originally we’d planned to start out at dawn, but it was already after ten o’clock. A beautiful last day of March, even if it was as cold as January.
I slid into the front seat of my red Pinto and closed the door. Jeremy thumped down in the passenger seat and for a few seconds we busied ourselves arranging the extra bags. I adjusted my seat and waited for the car to warm up.
At least it wasn’t snowing. The winter had been horrendous. I’d never seen so much snow.
Whenever I remember that winter, I remember grayish-purple skies and storms. Then endless snow. Night after night lying alone in our queen-sized bed, contemplating the white darkness with a heavy heart. The sky had been so white with flakes, it’d been like daylight. It was the worst time, the days and weeks right after Jonathan had walked out on me for another woman. For the first time in my life I was totally alone.
For weeks, a terrible apathy held me in its grip and I’d go to bed early to muffle my tears in my pillow and watch the snow fall outside my window. I lived in my own sad world of make-believe and memories, purposely shutting the real world away. Over and over I kept asking myself what had I done wrong? How could someone I had loved so long and so much do what he’d done to me…to all of us? How could he not love me anymore?
How could he have stopped the love and more importantly, how was I going to stop loving him? It’d been a painful rebirth for me, these past few weeks. I worked in an ad agency as a commercial artist in St. Louis and had taken a couple weeks off. I couldn’t face the world, I couldn’t face myself.
Who was I now? I slept, I read, I dreamed about the past, carefully wrapping it in the gossamer tissue of my bewildered tears, a priceless jewel, to be tucked away forever. I sifted through my life up until then and tried to make some meaning out of it. All the work, the love, and the loss. With every tear I mended myself, with every day I drew closer to the first light in a dark tunnel and made my way back to the world of the living.
Jonathan was gone. It was simple. I had to start my life over again. In the space of a few months I’d lost a husband, a home, and a job. Before I could return to work I got a telephone call to tell me not to bother. The agency was folding. We’d lost two of our largest clients and there wasn’t any work; what had been started so hopefully three years ago was no more. Blame the economy, God, or human fickleness, the result was the same. No work, no money, no agency. I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I’d expected it long before, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. I had no tears left when I went in to empty my desk and say my goodbyes. I’d miss my friends more than the job.
Then there was the house.
The house my grandmother had left me when she’d died all those years ago. The old house on Suncrest. It was mine free and clear. It had been for some time and I’d run out of excuses to claim my inheritance.
There was nothing to hold me here anymore. I’d be a fool to stay. I had no job, no husband, and no way to pay the fancy rent on the overly big, plush apartment.
Yet, God, I’d fought going back to Suncrest where the horror had begun. It was bitterly ironic that after so many years of trying to run away from the past I was now literally trapped into returning. Heaven knows, I’d tried to sell the old place for years, but, for some reason, it wouldn’t sell. It’d sat there patiently waiting for me. Waiting until I was forced by unavoidable circumstances to reclaim it when I’d never dreamed I would.
I told myself as I had so many times before we wouldn’t stay there long. We were only going to fix the old place up enough to sell it, or rent it out, that’s all. We’d use it as a pit stop to someplace else.
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