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Authors: Graham Masterton

Forest Ghost

BOOK: Forest Ghost
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Table of Contents

Cover

Recent Titles by Graham Masterton available from Severn House

Title Page

Copyright

Owasippe Scout Reservation, Michigan

Nostalgia Restaurant, 5307 North Clark Street, Chicago

Von Steuben High School, 5039 North Kimball Avenue, Chicago

Corinne Calls

Fears of the Forest

A Grim Discovery

Ghost Story

Premonition

Box of Memories

Forensics of Fear

Message from Beyond

Under the Witch’s Head

Where the Bones Are

Apparition

Cry for Help

The Face of Fear

Into the Trees

Forest Fever

Unhappy Ending

InterContinental Hotel, Ulica Emilii Plater 49, Warsaw

White Vision

Bad Moon Rising

A Promise

Whispers in the Air

What the Stars Say

Return to Owasippe

White Deer Spirit

Dead Voices Speak

Forest Ghost

The Promise

Requiem

Recent Titles by Graham Masterton available from Severn House

The Sissy Sawyer Series

TOUCHY AND FEELY

THE PAINTED MAN

THE RED HOTEL

The Jim Rook Series

ROOK

THE TERROR

TOOTH AND CLAW

SNOWMAN

SWIMMER

DARKROOM

DEMON’S DOOR

GARDEN OF EVIL

Anthologies

FACES OF FEAR

FEELINGS OF FEAR

FORTNIGHT OF FEAR

FLIGHTS OF FEAR

FESTIVAL OF FEAR

Novels

BASILISK

BLIND PANIC

CHAOS THEORY

COMMUNITY

DESCENDANT

DOORKEEPERS

EDGEWISE

FIRE SPIRIT

FOREST GHOST

GENIUS

GHOST MUSIC

THE HIDDEN WORLD

HOLY TERROR

HOUSE OF BONES

MANITOU BLOOD

THE NINTH NIGHTMARE

PETRIFIED

UNSPEAKABLE

FOREST GHOST
Graham Masterton

 

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
 
 

First published in Great Britain 2013 by

SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of

9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

First published in the USA 2014 by

SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS of

110 East 59
th
Street, New York, N.Y. 10022

eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2013 by Graham Masterton.

The right of Graham Masterton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Masterton, Graham author.

Forest Ghost: a novel of horror and suicide in America and Poland.

1. Boy Scouts–Suicidal behavior–United States–

Fiction. 2. Scout leaders–Suicidal behavior–United

States–Fiction. 3. Soldiers–Suicidal behavior–

Poland–Fiction. 4. Forests and forestry–Fiction.

5. World War, 1939-1945–Poland–Fiction. 6. Horror tales.

I. Title

823.9'2-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8344-5 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-485-0 (ePub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Owasippe Scout Reservation, Michigan

B
ill’s black Labrador, Mack, found the first one as he was snuffling around in the thick brown layers of last fall’s leaves. He barked, twice, and then circled around and around, excitedly thrashing his tail.

‘What you got there, boy? Not another goddamn quill pig. You remember what happened the last time you chased after one of those? You had a sore snout for days.’

Bill carried on walking through the trees. It was shady here, but up ahead of him Lake Wolverine was sparkling blue in the sunshine. He could see the jetty from which the Scouts dived into the lake, and where they tied up their boats. Unusually, though, he could see no Scouts, only their red-bottomed boats bobbing in the water.

He could hear no shouting or laughter, either. He stopped for a moment, and listened, but all he could hear was the soft subversive rustling of the beech trees and the piercing cries of two blue jays, calling to each other.

Mack barked again. Bill turned to see that he was still circling around the same heap of leaves, and still wagging his tail as if he were trying to wag it right off.

‘Come on, Mack! Whatever it is, leave it! We’re going to be late, else!’

But Mack wouldn’t come. Instead, he buried his nose into the layers of leaves and furiously started digging.

Bill stalked back and seized him by his collar. ‘You know what happens to dogs who don’t do what they’re told? They don’t get no bully sticks! Now, leave that, whatever it is, and let’s get going!’

As he dragged Mack away, however, he saw a pale hand lying amongst the leaves. It looked like a child’s hand, with three or four friendship bracelets knotted around the wrist.

‘Oh my Lord,’ Bill said. He kept hold of Mack’s collar with one hand, but he knelt down and started to clear away the leaves with the other. It didn’t take him long, because they were only a superficial covering, just enough to have hidden the body from anybody passing by.

It was a young boy, of about twelve or thirteen years old. He was coppery-haired, with a snub nose and freckles. He was wearing a Camp Wolverine T-shirt and blue shorts, but his feet were bare. Resting in the palm of his right hand was a scouting knife, with a blade that was rusty-colored with blood.

Mack barked again, but Bill said, ‘Hush up, will you? Have some respect,’ because there was no question that the boy was dead. His throat had been cut from one side to the other, so that it was gaping wide open like a second mouth, with scores of shiny green female blowflies crawling in and out of it.

Bill took his cellphone out of his shirt pocket, but there was no signal out here in the woods. However, he knew that there was a phone in the Camp Wolverine dining hall, so he stood up and pulled Mack away from the boy’s body and started to walk as fast as he could toward the lake.

He was still a hundred yards away from the water’s edge when Mack started to pull sideways at his leash and bark again.

‘For Christ’s sake, Mack! What’s eating you now?’

Mack began to pull harder and harder, until he was wheezing. In the end, Bill let him have his head. Mack had never been a disobedient dog, and if he sensed that something was wrong, then Bill reckoned he had better let Mack show him what it was.

There was a small clearing in the trees close to the edge of the lake, where the scouts would light fires when it grew dark and toast marshmallows and sing ‘Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts’ and tell each other horror stories.

This was eleven o’clock in the morning. The sun was shining, and a fresh breeze was blowing off the surface of the lake, but what Bill found there was worse than any horror story that he had ever heard. All around him, at least fifteen boys and seven adult men were lying on the dirt, some of them wearing scout uniforms, some of them wearing T-shirts and shorts, several of them naked. They were all dead. Some of them had their throats cut, in the same way as the coppery-haired boy. Others had their wrists cut – not crosswise, but all the way down the length of their radial arteries so that they would have bled out faster and it would have been almost impossible to save them, even if they had been found while they were still alive. At least three of them had scout knife handles sticking out of their chests. One of the men was lying on his side with his stomach cut open so that his intestines had spilled out on to the leaf-mold beside him. He was still wearing his thick-rimmed glasses.

Even Mack stayed still, and didn’t bark. He looked up at Bill and there was something in his expression that Bill had never seen in a dog before, and he had owned dogs all his life. It was fear. Whatever had happened here, Mack was afraid of it. He was actually trembling, and he was pawing the ground as if he couldn’t run off fast enough.

Bill had to turn away. He could feel bile rising in his throat and the last thing he wanted to do was puke. He said, ‘Come on, boy,’ and tugged at Mack’s leash, and he began to walk stiff-legged around the perimeter of the lake toward the wooden camp buildings.

When he reached the dining hall he said, ‘Stay,’ to Mack, and climbed the steps. Inside, the corridor was warm and stuffy and smelled strongly of cedar wood. Before he could reach the phone, Bill had to gallop to the restroom at the end of the corridor, throw open the door, and vomit an acrid orange slush into the washbasin and halfway up the splashback.

Afterward, he raised his head and stared at himself in the mirror. A sweaty, gray-haired man with a beard, and a face that was leathery from years spent in the outdoors. He couldn’t understand what he had just witnessed, but he knew that it was probably the worst thing that he would ever see in his entire life.

For the first time in a very long time, he crossed himself.

Nostalgia Restaurant, 5307 North Clark Street, Chicago

J
ack was arguing with Mikhail about the sauce for his stuffed cabbage when Sally came into the kitchen.

‘You didn’t add any tomato catsup, for Christ’s sake! You didn’t add any crushed tomatoes! You didn’t add any
paprika
for that matter! No wonder it tasted so goddamned bland.’

‘My mother always cook with just beef stock,’ Mikhail protested. ‘Salt, pepper, beef stock. That is Polish. With
tomato
, that is Slovak.’

‘I don’t give a toot how
your
mother cooked it.
My
mother cooked it with tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and that’s how we’re going to cook it here.’

‘I hate Slovaks.’

‘I’m not too crazy about the French but that doesn’t stop me cooking with cheese.’

Sally said, ‘Sorry to interrupt you, Jack. I need a word.’

‘Sure. Be right with you.’ He pointed a finger at Mikhail and said, ‘You got it? Tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and plenty of paprika.’

Mikhail shrugged and pulled a face. ‘OK. You want to me to cook like Slovak, I cook like Slovak. Slovaks cook like shit. That’s because they don’t know shit from food. A Slovak, he will pick up dog turd and eat it because it looks like wiener.’


Mikhail
…’ Jack warned him.

Mikhail raised both hands in surrender, and started taking down saucepans and ladles and colanders from the hooks above his head with as much clatter as he could, like a one-man percussion band.

Jack followed Sally back into the restaurant. It was only four-thirty in the afternoon, and the lunchtime session was over. His two waitresses, Jean and Saskia, were clearing up the tables and relaying them with red-and-white checkered cloths, ready for the evening. It was sunny outside, but inside the restaurant it was quite gloomy. It had dark wood paneling on the walls and an old-fashioned mahogany bar, with scores of bottles of exotic spirits on the shelves behind it. On the walls hung large dark oil paintings of Polish cities like Kraków and Wrocław, with castles and churches under thunderous skies.

BOOK: Forest Ghost
13.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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