GRAVE CONCERNS: A Parker Brothers Mystery (Part 3 of 5)
A Parker Brothers Mystery
by Bob Freeman
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Cassidy paced back and forth nervously, eyes on the bare trees and their lone inhabitant, a mottled brown and gray barn owl who was just as curious about her as she was it.
“You’ve always got a bad feeling about something,” her cousin replied. Sarah was more intent on the work of the Parker brothers than on the local wildlife. “Quit with the traipsing about already. You’re making my skin crawl.”
“Well excuse me, Miss Ain’t-Scared-of-Nothing,” Cassidy barked. “You’ll have to forgive me for not being overly fond of watching two of my best friends waist deep in a grave they’re intent on robbing.”
“We’re not grave robbing,” Sarah was quick to respond. “We’re… liberating something buried here.” She turned away from her vigil over Allen and Dale’s digging “If Dr. Connors is correct, that is.”
“Well I’m not as well versed in local folk lore to know what the hell we’re after. What is it about this Cairnwood place anyway?”
“You want the legend or the fact?” Sarah asked.
“Fact, of course.”
Sarah took a seat on one of the headstones and motioned for Cassidy to join her.
“Beats the hell out of me then. What I do know is that this place has been abandoned since 1988, right after this terrible flood and a couple of suspicious fires. One that nearly burnt down Somerset, the other that did a number on the manor house. It’s old, built sometime before the Civil War, I think, and there have been ghost and monster stories attached to it almost from the very beginning.”
“And the people who lived here?” Cassidy’s eyes focused on the Manor.
“The Cairnwoods? Oh, they were of old money, but the line died out with a crazy old wizard named Leland. He passed away just before the fire that ruined the mansion, but there’s more to it than that. I overheard Dr. Connors talking to the boys and he said something about two sets of books he had that had differing historical records about Cairnwood Manor. I didn’t quite follow all of it, but it was enough for him to send us out here to snoop about.”
“Well, that’s all as clear as mud,” Cassidy rose from her headstone seat. “Why are we digging up this Michael Somers’ grave? What does that have to do with the house and its mysterious past?”
“That’s what we’re about to find out,” Sarah replied. “I think.”
The girls both turned as they heard a loud chunk resound from the grave. The Parkers stopped their digging and stared at one another, then looked to the girls.
“We hit something,” Allen said, a hint of nervousness in his voice.
“By something you mean a… coffin, right?” Sarah and Cassidy slowly approached.
“Yeah,” Dale said, “a coffin.” He knelt down and brushed dirt away from the coffin lid. Sarah shined her flashlight into the nearly six foot hole. “Michael Somers’ coffin,” Dale added with a confident smile. “Toss me the hammer and pry bar from my pack, please.”
“Are you sure about this, Dale?” Cassidy asked, taking a step back as Sarah retrieved the items.
“We’ve come this far,” he replied. “Allen, give me a hand here, little brother.”
Allen and Dale set to work on opening the coffin lid, prying at the old and rotting wood. The barn owl hooted its displeasure and took flight. Cassidy wished she could as well.
“Sarah, remember what I said about having a bad feeling?”
“Yes,” Sarah replied, taking her cousin’s hand in hers.
“It’s worse,” she whispered.
Then came the sound of rending wood and the guttural growl of something altogether unnatural. The two boys clamored out of the grave with terrified urgency as a great and furry beast erupted up and out of its underground prison. It cried out toward the moon overhead, a long and mournful howl that bristled with rage and unrepentant fury.
Sarah and Cassidy fell backward, crashing to the ground, eyes wide with fear, scarcely noticing the Parkers scrambling toward them as they were transfixed by the magnificent and mind-numbing beast that stood above them. The creature roared, it’s hot breath bellowing forth as if the very fires of hell were trapped in its lungs, as broken chains fell away from its rippling sinews. It sprang away from them with amazing grace and speed, hellbent for Cairnwood Manor. The four of them watched as the beast burst through the once mighty doors of the house, disappearing into the darkness within, the sound of its fury echoing through the night.
“Wh-what the hell was that?” Cassidy stammered.
“That,” Dale replied,” was a werewolf.”
Dale wandered toward the grave as Allen helped the girls to their feet. “Bro, we need to get out of here. We need to call dad… and Landon. We need to… ” He couldn’t believe his eyes as his brother dropped down inside the now empty grave. “What are you doing?”
“Dale, we’ve got to get out of here,” Cassidy cried.
The elder Parker climbed up out of the hole, something large in his hands, wrapped in worn cloth.
“Not without this,” he said.
He knelt on the ground, unwrapping the object as the others surrounded him. Inside was a large leather-bound tome, intricate and foreboding. On its cover, in gilt lettering, was a title, below it the familiar family crest of the Connors family.
“Liber Monstrorum,” Sarah read aloud. “What does that mean?”
Dale looked up at her and replied, “The Book of Monsters.”
End, Part the Third