The Genealogist’s Guests A Peek at Chapter 1

 

Liz Taber’s wish for guests is about to come true, and she gets more than she hopes for when her dead ancestors use her art as a portal from the underworld. She discovers a family secret that began in 1885 after a brutal rape and the murder of a child.

An evil entity plagues the Taber family dating back to the fatal event which to this day returns from the depths of hell to seek revenge.

Liz’s journey begins with her obsession of ancestry research. When her dead ancestors visit from the other side they bring trouble with them, Wilbur Savage. Liz must choose, does she keep the secret that’s plagued her family across generations or expose the ugly truth to save the Taber children.

 

Chapter 1

Liz Taber, the only occupant of the colonial revival standing on a five acre wooded lot, sat at her desk in the quiet space. Through the door behind her a larger room loomed. She shifted her eyes and peeked over her own shoulder. “Why didn’t you turn the lights on?” she asked herself. “You always set yourself up for the creeps.”

Stacks of papers and books were scattered all around her. A lone lamp on the floor to her right. The sixty-watt bulb faced a wall illuminating the family tree painted on the canvas from floor to ceiling. She heard a thump, just outside the window, and then a slow drag. “It’s just the wind,” she told herself. She had been there for hours amid the hum of her computer searching for clues.

Another crash against the house, sounded like the deck furniture. She shot a glance at the window and grabbed the desk but kept her shaky grip on the familiar oval-shaped mouse. Then slid her index finger across its round surface, wet from her clammy palms, and clicked on the database.

 A list of passengers on the ship California appeared on the screen. The lights flickered. It was a short list, maybe fifty names. She searched for the surname, Hay, and found one. It was Isabella. The lights flickered again. “Not now,” she begged, but the tower’s hum went silent. “Fine, just fine,” she sighed. “I’ll find it later.”

Liz pulled her robe across her shoulders and stood for a moment staring at her family tree. Flashes of light brightened the room repeatedly exposing Isabella’s name and each time it reached out to Liz. She whispered, “Why did you travel alone Isabella?”  

She closed the office door leaving her family tree on the other side and faced the living room. It was lifeless she thought as she paused and stared at the space. A fire dwindled across the room adding to the dense feel of the room. The nights alone in the large house got spookier with time and losing the lights didn’t make it any easier. 

She kindled the fire and poured herself a brandy and sipped as she lay back on the cream-colored sofa. A tear trickled from the corner of her eye as it did every night. The memory of her husband’s death, the sorrow, loneliness, and the way her friends avoided her. They cut ties with her after his death, and it hurt her more than she ever admitted. She began studying her family history, burying herself in search of the past. It was several months before she learned her husband left her a small fortune, enough to buy a home and live a modest but comfortable life. She dropped her married name reverting to her maiden and started fresh.  “I can’t go back,” she told herself.  

     The storm continued through the night and the house was silent aside the howling wind outside. Liz lay fast asleep in the large room lit by the generous fire. Adjacent to the room, the home office door slowly opened. Covered with her favorite throw and dreaming of a house filled with people laughing and sharing Liz was unaware that next to her a woman wearing a black dress sat in the chair. She had her hair pulled back in a neat bun. Her face was aged but revealed the beauty that once was, and her eyes rested on Liz.

     Liz turned to her side and looked at the empty chair.  She blinked and took in a deep breath. “Nothing is there,” she said. “Go back to sleep,” she told herself.  As she drifted back into her dream, she hummed an unfamiliar tune. The spirit of the woman rose from the chair and hummed the same tune until her translucent stature reached her name on the family tree and disappeared.

     The storm passed while Liz slept and when she woke she raised her head from her pillow and immediately looked to the empty chair. “Goodness,” she said aloud. “Get a grip.” The electricity had not resumed and the fire returned to smolder. She gazed toward the kitchen and on her granite countertop her coffee pot sat empty. “You should have purchased the generator,” she told herself. She rose from the sofa, folded her throw and placed it over the arm of the empty chair, and headed for the staircase.  

As she passed her home office, she saw the door was open, wide open. She was sure she closed it tight. Standing at the doorway of the office looking inside, the room now darker than the main room, her desk covered with notes, unorganized and scattered not only on top of her desk but on the floor as well. “Now Lizzie,” she ridiculed herself. “You get yourself a journal and organize this mess.” She moved around the piles of paper and opened the drapes allowing the daylight in and when she spun around facing her office, the family tree shimmered. Liz swept her hair away from her eyes and smiled at her masterpiece. She felt as if her kin somehow reached from their graves with open arms and shined through the branches of painted names representing their place in time, their lives, “Nice work Lizzie,” she gloated.

     She heard the tires roll on wet pavement, a splash of water, and an annoying screech, “It’s time to get out of here,” she said. She sprinted up the stairs leaving the office door open. Inside, the branches of life, her family tree glistened as the fall leaves of the red maple just outside the window slowly lifted upward as droplets of rainwater fell to the ground. A peaceful moment, but on the other side of the tree, across the long and narrow yard the electricians prepared to fix the broken link between their massive plant and Liz’s house.

Randy Sullivan, a lifelong Rhode Islander, peered at the property. Not a large man, but his piercing eyes intimidated most people. He stood behind the truck and watched Liz leave the house, “Perfect,” he sneered. Liz powered her Honda CRV and gradually rolled out onto the main road.

Randy loathed her living alone just as his mother did when she left. He was twelve when he found his mother and begged her to let him come with her. “No,” she had said to him. “Your father will come looking for you, go away!”  His rage over his mother festered until the day he killed her. Liz, he decided will be his next victim. He had watched her for weeks after following her back from Norwich one Saturday. She was as she usually is alone and vulnerable.

He sucked on his teeth and hollered to Danny. “I’m going around back to check the lines.”

“Watch for dogs,” said Danny. Randy looked back at him and snickered at the way he struggled to get the toolbox open.

“That ought to keep him busy,” Randy said. He worked his way around the back of the house peeking into each window until he reached the opened back door. “Ah, Ms. Taber, you’re slipping,” he whispered, and then entered through the kitchen.

     It was eerie, the silence. The refrigerator, clocks, the creaks in the flooring was void of sound.  “Turn around, go back,” he told himself. Underneath the aroma of flowers from a vase nearby he caught the scent of paper, mounds of it, and beyond that the stench of death.

The office door moved, just a little, and without reason. There was no breeze or movement from anyone in the house to support its ability to move. The door continued to creak as it closed off the small room. The sounds of each creak louder than the one before, and then suddenly it stopped. Randy just stood there, “This isn’t possible,” he said. He finally turned to run like hell and as he did, the door swung wide open. He looked back in enough time to see the door did not recoil, as if someone or something held it against the wall. He begged his legs to move as he stood staring at the door, and then it slammed shut! He dashed out the back door where he saw Danny by the utility truck.  Run, run, he repeated in his mind until he finally gained his voice back and screamed at Danny, “Let’s go!”

Danny had a big smile on his face as he watched Randy run toward him, he asked, “What’s wrong? Did you find the dog?”

 “Get in the truck!” Randy screamed.

As he swiftly made his way to the truck, he saw a man inside the tree line.  He wore gray slacks pulled high up to his waist, and a jacket cut at the hip, with a vest and white shirt. Randy knew from his attire he wasn’t from this time or this world because he seemed… He’s a damn ghost!

He screamed again, “You dumbass get in the truck!” He rushed Danny, and in one swoop shoved him in the truck and pushed him over to the passenger seat. Randy looked back at the house and over to the tree line, he saw nothing but felt imminent danger as he spun the wheels of the truck leaving a ladder behind splattered with mud.

Back in the house, in the small office, Ed Taber’s hand painted name glowed and then faded next to his wife’s name, Isabella Hay, on Liz’s family tree. The whispers between the couple ensued, “Where were you Ed?” Isabella asked. “I was in the field Isabella.” The lights came on, the clock ticked, and the back door closed.

A few miles away Liz continued her drive until she reached the town of Norwich. She rolled the car window down and took a deep breath. The Thames River to her left reminded her of her research and the passages she read about the settlement of Norwich. She thought of the Church family she had read about, and having seen gravestones with the name Church on the same site as her ancestors, she wondered if there were connections. She would have to do the research she thought and grinned as she told herself, why not, it is possible she is a descendant of someone who corresponded with the enemy. After all, she did have an ancestor who spied for the Confederates during the Civil War. She asked what compelled them to do such things. She burst out with a giggle, “Shoot Lizzie what compelled you to leave Virginia.” The rushing water of the Thames River headed for the Long Island Sound. Liz headed for Dunken Doughnut.

She parked and began her walk in the past. The town of Norwich never disappointed as it is rich with history. She bumped shoulders with a young lad and said, “Excuse me.” He mumbled something and scurried on disappearing into the distance. She didn’t notice as she continued to walk down the uneven pathway. That he faded away. Nor did she see the ghost of many integrated with the living in clothing from another period. Nevertheless, they were there.

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About Ann Simpson
Ann Simpson lives in Falmouth, Virginia near the Civil War Battlegrounds of Historic Fredericksburg. Most of her paranormal writing takes place in the early morning before the family wakes and the spirits rest. She loves to write and read paranormal mysteries, suspense and drama. Book one of the Dark Guests Series, The Genealogist's Guests, was published in October 2013. Ann is currently writing book two, of which she may title, Megan's Heritage, sounds great...I just came up with it. I think I'll keep it!

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