The haunting of rachel h.., p.1
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       The Haunting of Rachel Harroway: Book 0, p.1

           J.S. Donovan
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The Haunting of Rachel Harroway: Book 0
The Haunting of Rachel Harroway- Book 0

  By J.S Donovan

  DBS Publishing LLC

  Copyright 2017 by DBS Publishing LLC

  Chapter One

  Summer Night of ‘83


  Torrents of rain punched the old upstairs window, rattling the glass and causing the 1892 Queen Anne manse to groan like a dying old man. Full of years and at an elevation of 4,117 feet, the pear-colored house stood alone in the deep woods of the Appalachian Mountains. A single seven-mile road separated the Hadley House--as the local’s called it--and the town of Highlands, North Carolina. The path twisted through dense walls of pine-oak trees and honeysuckle brushes, bridging society and the untamed wilds.  

  The house emitted yellow light through its windows. A beacon in the storm.

  Sitting cross legged on the hardwood floor, Amanda Barnes, nine years of age, faced her seven-year-old brother, Benny. Marker stripes ruined his puffy cheeks after his hilariously desperate attempt to draw whiskers without using a mirror. Amanda fought her laughter until her face turned cherry red and her mouth burst open.

  “Oh, shut up!” Benny squealed, flushed face and squirming. In his little sweater vest, grey slacks and classy combed blond hair, he masqueraded as an angry fat man trapped in a plump boy’s body.

  Amanda rubbed her hands together, warming them in anticipation. “Okay, okay. My turn.”

  “Truth or dare?” Benny asked, his flare of anger fleeting as quick as it came.

  With dubious smile, Amanda looked at her little brother. “Truth.”

  “No fair!” Benny squeezed his little sausage fingers into fists. “You did truth last time, and the time before that.”

  “Fine,” Amanda complained, secretly glad her brother dared her. She could only laugh so much at his frustration before she had to share in the misery. The joys and struggles of being the older sibling. She twisted her brown hair and reluctantly said, “Dare.”

  Benny readjusted his crossed legs and rubbed his chin just like father when he read the morning paper. “I dare you to…eat...” He’s big blue eyes found a cobweb under the wardrobe. “Eat a bowl of spiders!”

  “But I hate spiders,” Amanda exclaimed.

  Benny bocked like a chicken, head clucking and elbows flapping, the whole shebang.

  “Can’t I just drink ketchup or put a fake snake under mom’s pillow again?”

  “Nope.” Benny took a second rest before continuing his fowl impersonation.

  With her furrowed brow, Amanda racked her brain. “Where am I going to find a bowl of spiders?”

  “I don’t know. Bock, bo-bo-bock. I saw a lot in the basement yesterday. One was this big.” He parted his thumb and finger two inches.

  Moping, Amanda stood and flatted out her cobalt suspender skirt. Her mother told her to change out of the leggings, skirt and white fully buttoned collared shirt after the boring old persons event. She didn’t listen, and she liked looking cute.


  In the living room, Reginald Barnes smoked his pipe, watching the rain cascade down the window. The dim visage in the glass was a tired man with greying chopper hair swooshed to side, furry sideburns cut with a straight edge passed the ear lobe, and a tight mouth on a clean-shaven face. He looked old. Beaten down.

  “Are you listening to me, Regi?” Lilith stood behind him, hands on her shapely hips.

  “Yes, woman. For the third time, yes.” He would never strike her but, boy, there were days. More lately with the new contracts coming through. That, and the brick dashed through the window last week… If their relationship was sinking ship, it would be time to jump overboard. And he didn’t want to think about their love life. That fish was dead.

  “Well, look at me.” Lilith commanded.

  Letting the smoke seep from the corner of his tight lip, Reginald turned around. Eyes grey and apathetic, he faced his wife. She wore a dark violet side button dress and a black belt to accentuate her figure. With her short permed, authoritative blond hair style, and well-structured pissed off face, she looked like a sexy Nazi. The double barrel hinged over the fireplace behind her only added to the imitation factor. Nonetheless, Regi noticed breaches in her tough exterior. Meanly in her red rimmed eyes.

  “The broken window last week. The note yesterday. The writing is on the wall, Regi. We need to go.” Lilith said.

  Her words cut. Did she have any idea how long it took him to build his empire? A decade ago, he was nothing but stupid twenty-something old with four hundred dollars to his name. Now, he’s icon. A husband. A father. Billboard for the American Dream.

  “Go where, huh? Back to Connecticut? To Boston?” Reginald said sarcastically.

  “There’s no reason to bring my parents into this,” Lilith replied.

  Reginald lowered his pipe, and tried to explain it as clear as he could. “I’ve invested too much into this ground. Everything we have is here. The business. The lumber. If we leave, the money stops. Our kids don’t go to college, and you’ll have to wear peasant shoes.”

  Lilith chuckled angrily. “You think I care about my shoes? I care about my children, their safety. And, believe it or not, Regi, I care about my husband.”

  Reginald paused for a moment, letting the ambers in his lowered pipe burn down. He opened his mouth to speak.  


  Reginald and Lilith turned to the front door simultaneously. Regi checked the grandfather clock in the corner of the room. 9:48pm.

  “It’s probably Carmon.” Reginald said, depressingly calm. “Another broken bandsaw.”

  Lilith let out an exasperated sigh and massaged her forehead.


  “I’m coming!” Regi billowed and unlocked the door.

  He opened to two men wearing translucent ponchos and ski-masks. Rain trickled down their plastic garb and the barrels of the pistols aimed at Reginald’s face. Carefully, Reginald raised his aims.

  “Gentlemen,” he said, stepping back into the house. “How much do you want?”

  Inside, Regi boiled. Who were these men to come under his roof and threaten his existence in front of his wife? Chumps, that’s all they were, resorting to scare tactics to get a rise out of him. “You got my attention,” Regi said. “Now what?”

  The second gunman, a shorter, squat, fellow, pointed his gun to Reginald’s kneecap and blew it to kingdom come. Screaming, Regi toppled backwards and hit the floor like a bag of bricks.


  At the wooden railed elbow that connected the second story hall to the set of rickety of stairs, Amanda Barnes watched her father howl and hold his trembling hands over his stiff and bleeding knee. The horror of eating a bowl of spiders was a thought of the past. What Amanda face now was real, petrifying dread.

  Mother darted for the shotgun above the fireplace. A gunshot shook the walls, and Mother was face first the ground. A red rose bloomed on the back of her long-sleeved violet dress. The two men stepped inside. Water puddling at under their black boots as rain and thunder battered the Hadley house.

  “Check upstairs,” the taller man said.

  The short man stepped over Father like any other obstacle and marched Amanda’s way.

  “Don’t go up there!” Father shouted, eyes clenched in pain. “Please! They’re only children!”

  He grabbed the tall man’s ankle. “Tell take me, you bastard. Not them. Me!”

  The tall man looked down at father, whispered something and unloaded a .45 caliber round into Reginald’s head.

  Sliding his hand up the railing, the short gunman marched up the steps and towards Amanda. She twisted around and dashed through hall, her litt
le feet clicking on the wood. Benny sat on the floor of his room, looking up her with doe eyes. “What’s that noise?”

  “Hide, Benny.” Amanda whispered.

  “But where’s mommy and daddy?”

  Amanda didn’t have time for this. She grabbed her brother’s meaty wrists and ran to the wardrobe. They huddled inside, pushing past tiny outfits and her father’s spare scruffy sports blazers. Amanda shut the door and hugged her little brother. His moist, fake-whiskered cheek pushed up against her own as they looked past coattails and waited.

  “I’m scared, Amanda.”

  “Shh.” Amanda put her finger over her lip. “Don’t let him hear you.”

  The sound of their breathing filled the wardrobe.

  Wet footsteps entered the room. Benny wheezed. Amanda covered his mouth and her own. Through the thin gap where the two wardrobe doors meet, the poncho-wearing man could be seen pacing about the bedroom. He opened the closet, flashing the gun back and forth but finding no one. He knelt next the bed and peered underneath. He swept off the bed’s covers, letting them drift to the floor. He approached the bedroom door and checked behind it. Lastly, he turned to wardrobe.

  Under Amanda’s hand, Benny whimpered. The man paused for a moment, listening. He stepped toward the wardrobe. Amanda’s nine-year-old heart raced. Keeping a hand on the pistol, the man grabbed a circular knobs wardrobe door and pulled it open.


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