Beginning today — Grave Concerns: A Parker Brothers Mystery
“I go into a window — tabula rasa, from scratch — I write a story from beginning to end and finish it by 5 when the store closes. As the pages are done, they take the pages and copy them and post them in the windows.” — Harlan Ellison
Welcome to my window. No, I’ll not be writing a complete story for you today, but instead the first of five parts. Each Friday I’ll sit down at the keyboard and set my stopwatch. For one hour I will write as fast and as furious as I am able, creating from whole-cloth a Parker Brothers Mystery. There will be warts, of course, but there just might be a little bit of magic too.
To be honest, I have no idea what I’m going to write here in the next few minutes. I’d planned to come into this with at least the first line ready at my disposal, but I could never settle on one. So I really am tackling this without a net.
It’s a tad bit frightening not knowing what’s about to happen here on the proverbial blank page.
Let’s find out together.
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A Parker Brothers Mystery
by Bob Freeman
The ruins of Cairnwood Manor were home to many a ghost story. Over the years, local teens had challenged one another to spend the night within the desolate shell. Few were those who had the courage to stay more than a handful of hours. The place was a dark stain on the abandoned cemetery grounds, cursed many would say. Whispers of black magic and shape-shifters, of ghouls and more were passed back and forth around campfires lit underneath the watchful gaze of the obsolescent estate, but the true history of the mansion was far more grim than the fertile imaginations of children could concoct. Cairnwood had been a home to monsters and their long and dark shadows still remained.
Sarah Jones crept silently between the weathered headstones. This was not her first time here among the dead and long forgotten. The Cairnwood Cemetery had been out of use since the late sixties after the Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam that flooded old Somerset. Ground for a new boneyard was broke a few miles north and that’s where the local dead went to lie ever since. But it had no character. Cold and sterile, the stones there were all the same. No artistry. No sense of respect. Here, in the midst of the ornate limestone and granite markers was the reminder that the dead were once honored and immortalized, not shelved in the ground as an afterthought.
Sarah knew a thing or two about the dead. And she knew more than most that the dead were often restless and still had stories to tell.
“Hey, I think I found it!”
Sarah turned toward the voice. Allen Parker stood tall and strong beneath the light of the October moon overhead. She could see the hint of a smile as he began to dig at the foot of a large tombstone. The youngest son of the famed paranormal author Stephen Parker, Allen had inherited his father’s passion for investigating those things that go bump in the night. Headstrong and often careless, it was his older brother, Dale, who came nearer to emulating the family patriarch’s more studious nature. The two complimented each other and, more often than not, worked well together, but things sometimes came to a head between them. They were, after all, brothers.
“Damn it, Allen, hold up!” Dale Parker raced toward his brother, snatching the shovel from the younger man’s hands as he arrived. “You know better,” he said, tossing the shovel aside. Dale knelt before the stone and brushed dried grass and dirt away from its face, carefully going over the stone marker.
Sarah and her cousin, Cassidy Martin, joined the brothers at the grave site. While Allen stewed, his brother was making notes in a thin Moleskine he’d taken from his jacket pocket. Cassidy knelt beside him and shined a penlight on the stone. Tall and thin, Cassidy had recently turned eighteen and her affections for the twenty year old elder Parker were becoming far less clandestine. He, of course, was oblivious, head caught up in one paranormal case after another. Sarah sensed trouble brewing there, but she had other concerns, such as the slowly simmering romance between her and the younger Parker. But he was as thick as his brother in that regard.
“Boys,” she thought, perhaps a bit too loudly, as Allen’s attention turned toward her.
“You sure your mom’s not going to ground you for being out with us tonight?” he said. Sarah could tell he was trying his best to calm down after being somewhat embarrassed by his brother’s scolding.
“What she don’t know won’t hurt her,” Sarah replied. “Besides, this is important, right?”
“So Landon says,” Allen answered, referring to their mentor, Dr. Landon Connors. Connors was something of an enigma. A lifelong friend of the boys’ father, Landon Connors called himself an occult detective. Sarah admired the hell out of him, but he had the tendency to send them on seemingly innocent missions that quickly took a turn for the worse.
Dale rose from the headstone, retrieved the discarded shovel, and returned it to his brother. “You were right, little brother, this is Michael Somers’ grave. But next time, we do this by the book. We can’t start digging up a body, especially one like this, without taking precautions first.” He patted Allen on the cheek and smiled. “Girls, break the salt and candles out from the backpack. I want a circle of protection laid out around this grave.”
“Then what?” Cassidy asked.
“Then,” Dale replied,” my brother here gets to finish what he started.”
End, Part the First