The Blackham Mansion Haunting (The Downwinders Book 4)

BOOK: The Blackham Mansion Haunting (The Downwinders Book 4)
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The Blackham Mansion Haunting

 

 

 

By Michael Richan

 

 

By the author:

 

The Downwinders
series
:

Blood Oath, Blood River

The Impossible Coin

The Graves of Plague Canyon

The Blackham Mansion Haunting

 

The River
series:

The Bank of the River

Residual

A Haunting in Oregon

Ghosts of Our Fathers

Eximere

The Suicide Forest

Devil’s Throat

The Diablo Horror

The Haunting at Grays Harbor

It Walks At Night

 

The Dark River series:

A

 

All three series are part of
The
River Universe,
and there is crossover of some characters and plots. For a
suggested reading order, see the
Author’s Website
.

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Michael Richan

All Rights Reserved.

All
characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

www.michaelrichan.com

ASIN: B00ZGGAMP6

Published by Dantull (149315194)


▪ ▪

Chapter One

 

 

 

Winn was grateful the sun had finally set after a long, hot
day. He was pushing the speed limit as he drove through the gorge, taking turns
too quickly and weaving between slow moving trucks and RVs. He was Arizona
patrolman bait, a nice fat speeding ticket just waiting to be plucked.

Something’s wrong,
he thought.
Something’s happened.

He spent most of the evening making phone calls, trying to
find someone who might know Deem’s whereabouts. They were supposed to get
together earlier in the day to scout the Harrison silver mine outside of
Pioche, but she never showed.
Not like her,
he kept telling himself.
She’d
never miss an appointment like this. Hell, she’s never a minute late to
anything. If something came up, she’d call me. She wouldn’t blow me off.
Something’s wrong.

He slammed on his horn, irritated at the car in the left lane
going as slow as the truck in the right, barely crawling up the hill. “The left
lane is for passing!” he yelled inside his Jeep. He could see eyeballs in the
rear view mirror of the car in front of him, watching his animated screaming.
The car sped up and got in front of the truck, allowing him to pass.

He took a deep breath.
Calm down. You make mistakes when
you get angry. Just stay mellow. I’m sure Deem will be at Carma’s, the battery
on her phone run down by accident.

The odds of that seemed slim, since David wasn’t answering
his phone either. They couldn’t both have lost their juice at the same time.
Too coincidental.

Twenty minutes later he pulled into the long driveway that
led to Carma’s stately old pioneer home, tucked at the bottom of a red rock
hill in Leeds. He parked right in front of the house and ran out, sprinting to
the door and pounding on it. He hit the doorbell repeatedly.

“Hold your horses!” he could hear from inside. It opened, revealing
Carma, covered in dirt, her hands and arms caked with dark soil.

“Winn!” she cried, lighting up. “What a surprise! Come in!
You look dehydrated and anxious. You shall have some of my special tea — it’ll
solve both problems at once!” She wheeled in place and began to march deeper
into the house. Winn rushed to follow her.

“I wish you’d answer your phone!” Winn said. “I’ve been
trying to reach you!”

Carma walked past the telephone table in the hallway,
stopping for a second to look down at it. “Deem set up one of these new gadgets
to answer the phone for me. I don’t know how to work it.”

Winn checked the table; a small answering machine sat next to
Carma’s old-fashioned phone, its red lights flashing.

“See that number seventeen?” Winn said, pointing. “That’s seventeen
messages I’ve left, trying to reach you! All you have to do is press this
button to hear them!” Winn pushed play on the device. Nothing came out.

“See? It doesn’t work, just as I suspected,” Carma replied, waving
a dismissive hand and leaving him in the hallway as she walked to the kitchen.

Winn checked the side of the machine and saw that the volume
was down. He turned it back up and heard his worried voice, asking if Deem was
around. He let the messages play as he followed Carma into the kitchen.

“The volume was down!” Winn said. “Hear all those messages?”

“How could I have heard them if the volume was down?” Carma
asked, rinsing off her arms in the sink. “Really, those contraptions are quite
complicated.”

“You must have heard the phone ring!” Winn said.

“I’ve been in the back re-potting things,” Carma said, drying
off her arms and filling a kettle with water. “Plants don’t pot themselves, you
know.”

“Have you seen Deem?” Winn asked. “She was supposed to meet
me earlier, and she didn’t show up. I can’t reach her. David either.”

“Did you try Warren?”

“I did,” Winn replied. “Hasn’t seen her since the day before
yesterday.”

“Oh!” Carma said, retrieving a tin from the shelf and
removing two teabags. “That’s right, I forgot! She and David were going up
north for something. What was it, what was it?” She filled two large glasses
with ice and set them on the table. “It was something to do with that journal.
Left in a hurry.”

“The Lorenzo journal?” Winn asked. “The one she found in Left
Hand mine?”

“That’s the one!” Carma said, looking delighted with having
remembered. “She’s been reading it extensively. Something in it inspired her to
make a road trip. She took David with her.”

“Did she say where she was going?” Winn could instantly see
that Carma was drawing a blank.

“Um…” Carma replied, looking down to the table and sitting
while the water boiled. “Let’s see. She did say. It was just up north
somewhere.”

“When did she leave?” Winn asked, joining her at the table.

“Earlier. I’ve been in and out all day, but it was sometime
around noon, I think.”

“All the way up north? Salt Lake?”

“No, it wasn’t as far as that. Let me see, let me see…” Carma
pressed her hand to the side of her head. “Was it Nephi? No, that was something
else…” She drifted off into silence, then turned to grab Winn’s arm. “Beaver!”
she said, smiling.

“Do you know where in Beaver?”

Carma’s face fell. “Oh, no, it wasn’t Beaver. That was the
funeral.”

Winn sighed.

“Oh, now you’re stressing me out!” Carma said defensively.
“I’m going to need this tea more than you!”

“Take your time. Think about it. She told you where she was
going, with David. Where was it?”

“Payson?” she replied, unsure. “Parowan? It started with a P,
I think.”

“It would have to be close,” Winn said, “if she was going to
make it there and back in time to meet me at 6.”

“Panguitch? Price?”

“Price is too far north for her to make it in time.”

The kettle whistled and Carma rose from her chair. She returned
with the water, pouring it over the teabag in each glass, the ice inside
cracking underneath. She replaced the kettle and retrieved two long spoons from
a drawer. “Let that steep for just a moment before you drink it,” she said,
handing one of the spoons to Winn. “Sugar?”

“No thanks,” Winn said, using his spoon to drive the teabag
to the bottom of the glass. “I’m worried they might be in danger. It’s not like
her to miss an appointment with me.”

“Very true,” Carma said. “That girl is prompt to a fault. She’s
single-handedly altering the meaning of Mormon Standard Time.”

“What was it about the journal that made her want to go up
north? Did she say?”

“I don’t recall that either, to be honest. I remember her
saying something about a mirror… oh, that’s right! She thought she could reach
someone! She went somewhere to try and make contact.”

“With Lorenzo?”

Another blank reaction.

“Carma!” Winn whined.

“My mind was completely wrapped up in the new pots,” Carma
replied. “I should have made her write it down!” She stirred her tea and took a
sip. Once she was satisfied with it, she took a couple of gulps. “Oh, that’s
nice. I feel better already.”

Winn sniffed at his tea and wondered what was in it.
If
Carma made it,
he thought,
it could be anything.
He took a sip and
decided he liked it.

“Paragonah!” Carma nearly shouted. “I just needed the tea! That’s
it, that’s where she went!”

“Paragonah?” Winn asked. “Did she say where?”

“The town’s only two blocks long, Winn. She shouldn’t be hard
to find.”

“Two blocks a hundred years ago,” Winn replied. “It’s ten or
twenty now.”

“Still,” Carma said, waving her arm dismissively. “Just look
for her truck. You can’t hide anything in Paragonah.”

Winn chugged the rest of the tea and set the glass down on
the table. “I’m gonna drive up there and see if I can find her.”

“You do that,” Carma said, following Winn as he left the
kitchen. “And call me back and let me know what you find out! I’m worried now
too.”

“What’s the point in calling you? You don’t answer the
phone!”

“I’ll turn the ringer on,” Carma said as Winn walked out the
front door. “That’ll help.”

 


▪ ▪

 

Darkness had descended on southern Utah as Winn pulled off
the freeway to take the Old Paragonah Highway. Dark dots zipped rapidly back
and forth overhead, bats scooping up bugs attracted to the recently illuminated
streetlights.

Trees and ranchland lined the roads, with an occasional
driveway to a home set far back. The elevation was higher here than in Leeds,
and the red rock was all but gone — just high desert sagebrush and scraggly
juniper trees that dotted the unfarmed properties all the way to the base of
the mountains. Paragonah wasn’t as remote as some places in southern Utah, but
it was remote enough.
Pretty and desolate, just the way I like it,
Winn
thought.
Not gonna move my trailer here, though. Gets too cold in the
winter.

He rolled down his windows and turned off the A/C, letting
the night air fill the cab of the Jeep, enjoying The Dandy Warhols droning
loudly from his speakers. The sound mixed with the rush of air, lending a
feeling of timelessness to the moment. As he passed the sign marking the
boundary of Paragonah, he turned the volume down and lowered his speed.

It didn’t take long to reach the other end of town. There
were no real businesses to speak of, just a collection of homes with
comfortably wide lots. Deem’s truck wasn’t on the main drag, so he turned down
Center Street, the only other main drag, which ran perpendicular to the
highway. At its end the homes petered out, and he came upon a small cemetery. In
the distance beyond sat a very large abandoned house that seemed to hang in the
air, drifting over the quiet of the graves. He noticed the back end of Deem’s
truck sticking out from behind it.

Winn pulled off the road and maneuvered over the remnants of
a long driveway, overgrown with weeds. He parked next to Deem’s truck and got
out. The air was refreshingly cool and blowing lightly; Winn guessed there must
be a canyon nearby.

He looked up at the house.
It’s large for a pioneer home,
he
thought.
More like a mansion.
Every town in Utah had several old pioneer
houses that had survived from the 1800s. Some were remodeled over the years. Some
had been torn down, their history lost. Some were just abandoned, left to fall
apart. This was the latter.

It was two stories, but the gabled roof made it look taller.
There were serious holes in the roof and signs that the foundation was
beginning to go. It looked as if it hadn’t been cared for in many decades, just
left to slowly bake in the desert sun until it completely dissolved. In other
towns it might have been covered in graffiti, but in Paragonah there weren’t
many illegal artists. The town didn’t even have a school — all the kids were
bussed to nearby Parowan, five miles away.

The last streetlight provided by the town was well before the
cemetery, so he walked to the passenger side and pulled out a flashlight from the
glove compartment. As he walked up to the house, he used the light to scan the brush
on the ground for rattlesnakes. There was nothing else around; the nearest
house he could see was outside of shouting distance.
No one wants to live
right next to the cemetery,
he thought.
Not out here in the middle of
nowhere.

A large old wooden door still hung at the main entrance in
the front. Long ago someone had attached an old-style “Keep Out” sign to the door
with tiny, rusted nails. It had withered and faded from years of sunlight. He
considered knocking, then decided to just walk in by pushing on the door’s
handle.

It swung open slowly, protesting with a loud creak.

Early in his life, Winn had learned to recognize when a place
or situation felt wrong. He still remembered the chill he’d felt as he and his
friend Brent entered a cave in Oro Valley when they were young. The feeling of foreboding
he’d felt then was just a new sensation to him at that age, easily mistaken as
excitement, and he’d been unsure how to process it, how to categorize it. Now
he knew the feeling well. Experience had taught him to not ignore it.

The feeling washed over him again as he looked into the
house, the beam of his flashlight bouncing into the darkness beyond.

Inside was a formal entryway. Plaster had fallen from the
walls, exposing old and broken lathing. He picked his feet up to step over the
debris and turned to his right to enter a large room with boarded-over windows
that would have looked out over the front yard of the house many years ago.

Deem was lying on the floor near one of the windows. He ran
to her side, kneeling, checking her.

She’s breathing,
he thought, feeling for a pulse.
Heartbeat’s good.

“Deem?” he said gently, lifting her head from the floor. Her
body was completely relaxed; her neck rubber, not holding up her head.

BOOK: The Blackham Mansion Haunting (The Downwinders Book 4)
3.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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