First line: The Greer mansion sat high on a hill, overlooking the town and the ocean.
Summary: It’s 1977 in Claire Lake, Oregon. The city is reeling with the murders of two family men on lonely roads at night. With the bodies, a note written by a woman asking to be caught. When the police and the town decide that it is none other than the richest girl in town. Beth Greer lives in the exclusive part of town, seems unfriendly and is seen leaving one of the crime scenes. However, the courts are unable to convict her. For the next forty years she lives quietly in her mansion until a blogger happens to meet her looking for answers.
It’s 2017 in Claire Lake, Oregon. Shea Collins is working as a receptionist in a doctor’s office but at night she runs a blog where she discusses cold cases. Most prominent on the blog is the Lady Killer case which took place in Claire Lake in 1977. Many theories circulate on who actually committed the murders and when Shea gets the chance to interview the main suspect, Beth Greer, she pushes down her fears from childhood to finally get some answers.
My Thoughts: This sounds like your normal thriller with a killer and a secret. But with St. James, that is never the case. She brings in the creep factor that I had to put the book down one night, hoping that I would be able to sleep. And it was not an overly scary scene but it was written perfectly to scare with little detail. Even with the scary bits I could not put this down. I had a third of the book left to read and I decided to just sit down and read till it was done. I had to find out the ending and what twist the author was going to throw at us. It did not disappoint. It was scary, exciting and fulfilling for the characters and the reader. I just finished this and I already want her next book!
FYI: A little scary and some violence against children.
Marley is a 13 year old writer who participated in the Spring 2020 Bad Guy Writing Challenge. Below is her creepy and action-packed short story about a family plagued by a strange nature spirit that roams their house.
It peered down on the family from the tall tree where it had been stationed for the past hour observing them. “Hold on, watch this real quick” says Lili’s dad. Laughs fade to silence, and eyes flick towards him, as he throws a piece of what looks to be plastic into the large bonfire. After only a couple of seconds, the fire bursts out into a beautiful blue color, with purple streaks and if you look hard enough, even a very faint tone of green.
Everyone is silent, observing the fire in awe as the colors fade back into the traditional array of warm colors. As the night takes over on the chilly evening in the town of Springwood Pennsylvania, the Locke family decides to head inside as their bonfire grows smaller. Lili, the second oldest child, with two younger sisters and an older brother, decides to stay out after the rest of the family for just a few minutes. She liked watching when their monthly bonfires slowly die out, especially towards the end of the fire when all the tiny flames dance in the glowing red pieces of wood at the bottom of the pile.
Lili found it very awing that the giant piles of leaves, sticks, branches, and the occasional piece of broken furniture from the home could turn into a way smaller mound of ash that could be disposed of by simply blowing it around the yard. As the last few flames danced in the breeze, she saw something amongst the treeline. Two balls of warm white light, like a reflection. She giggled, because she knew it was her brother hiding trying to scare her as he normally did. However, when there was no response back, she became skeptical. She saw the two reflections go away for only a second, then appear right back in the same spot, like they were blinking. At that point, she was certain it was her brother trying to scare her, and he had simply blinked because he didn’t realise that you could see the reflection of their eyes.
And that’s when the thought hit her- human eyes don’t reflect light, such as the light from the fire which was probably causing it. Lili saw the eyes slowly moving, as if the unknown creature was moving, and then the eyes disappeared into the darkness in the forest. Just then, she heard a large crash from the trees as she had turned to head back to the house. There was another one. Then another. She recognized the sound as falling trees, but there was no noise indicating someone had cut them down such as a chainsaw. They were also falling at a rate that no person could cut down that quickly. One right after another, there must have been two trees falling every five seconds. Spooked, she sprinted back to the house, and ran into the bathroom to shower and get the smell of smoke, which she had grown to love over time, off of her body and out of her long, brown hair. Lili was just turning the water on in the shower when she heard something downstairs fall and break, so she decided to brave the walk down the stairs and see what had happened.
Then she saw it- her mother laying in her husband’s arms. The floor was covered with blood, and there were two huge gashes on the backs of her calves. Lili’s mom, dad, and the kitchen floor were drenched blood spatter, as if something had come behind her and slashed her legs open. Her dad picked up the phone, and tried to call an ambulance, or someone that could help. Just as he had hit the call button, the phone just beeped like there was no service. The only other time she had heard that noise was right after a category 4 hurricane had hit near her home along the border of Pennsylvania, and torn the power lines right in half. How could that be? Lili thought, because the power was still on.
“Dad, I’m going to check on the lines outside to see if something happened to them. Try and figure out what happened to mom!” She grabbed the flashlight off the table, and ran outside to check. As the light flooded the darkness, she saw that a single part of the line was cut cleanly in half. The two halves were swaying as if there was wind that was blowing them around, but there wasn’t. The breeze had gone away. That could only mean one thing, Lili thought. The line had to have been cut very recently if they were still swaying like that. She shined the light around the lines looking for an answer. She didn’t see anything. She was shining the light all the way down both sides of the cables until the light could not shine any further. But when she flashed it back to where it was originally cut, there it was again.
That pair of eyes shining in the darkness. Again, reflecting the light, only this time, it was the flashlight and not the fire. Lili could not see exactly where the eyes were shining, but she felt that they were staring straight into hers. They blinked again, and the creature started moving. It began slowly, and then all at once, began leaping from one post to the next. She was in shock at how it could move like that, because all the posts must have been at least thirty feet apart from each other. Shining the flashlight towards whatever was jumping, she saw a large bony body, light grey in color, and it had almost looked transparent. Lili still had no clue what it could be, but one thing she knew for sure, and that was that it definitely could not be human.
She then ran as quickly as possible back into the house to tell her dad what she had seen. But when she tried getting inside the door, it was locked. She banged on it for someone to let her in, but within twenty seconds no one answered it. So she ran over to grab the ladder and come back in her window that she knew was unlocked. She set the ladder on the house, and climbed up onto a part of the roof, where she then pushed it back down so nothing could follow her, and ran to her window. She had always left it unlocked because the doors sometimes got jammed and they needed a way to get inside the house, but when she went to pull it open, it was locked. She tried every other window, but they were all locked too. Lili ran back to where she had put the ladder so she could get back down and try another way, but when she got there, she realized that she had pushed the ladder down, and she was now stuck on the roof.
Don’t think you’re getting away that easy, sweetheart. It thought. Good luck getting down without a ladder. You want to take my family away from me? Two can play at that game. My nest used to belong where your huge brick nest is that you’re constantly inside. Sleeping, eating, everything. Why your nest is so much bigger than mine was, I don’t know. But I’m going to take care of it. Once and for all. Good luck to you all, Locke’s.
The games have begun. It watched Lili scrambling to the windows looking for a way down, but there was nothing. Windows? Locked. Ladders? Tipped over. There was nothing she could do. The drop down from the first story section of the roof was still a nine foot drop. Curse you, country houses for having such high roofs she thought. Then she remembered she had a trampoline in her back yard. She tried running around on the roof on the first story, but it got blocked off before she was at the point she could jump. So she climbed up onto the second story section, which was very easy as part of it came down close to the first story roofing above the porch.
So she got up there, and eventually made her way around to the back of the house. Looking up from the trampoline onto the roof had not looked like that tall of a drop, but now that she looked where she had to land and how far down it was, she was hesitant. She had to drop nearly two stories and jump out six feet to hit the edge of the trampoline. It was very dark too, since none of the back lights had been turned on because they were motion sensors. This is the only way. I have to do this. For mom. She took a large breath, and jumped as she exhaled, pushing forward with all her strength. She landed on the trampoline, and fell through the padding onto the ground. Could’ve been worse. And then she got up- almost. She noticed that her leg was bent in a way it should not have been bending. That’s when the pain set in. Nothing hurt her until she realized that there was something wrong with her leg and that it was messed up somehow.
The pain quickly seared through her ankle and up to her knee. It was like someone had struck it with a metal club that was on fire. She tried to touch it, but she instantly regretted it as she had touched her ankle directly on the injury. She tried to pull herself to her feet from the metal framing of the trampoline, but when she got on her feet, she fell right back down. What am I supposed to do? Mom and Dad are in serious trouble and I can’t even be there for them! Lili thought, tears rolling down her cheeks, pale from fright. She eventually got on her feet again and began hopping on one foot, headed for the back door. She tried to stand on her hurt foot, but it could not yet support her. So she continued hobbling on her right foot until she reached the back door.
She pulled it open, and walked in between the counters and used them almost like crutches. She turned the corner into the dining room and saw that her mom and dad were still in the same peril state. She bent down and touched her mother’s head, making sure she knew Lili was there too. Her mother slowly looked at her, eyes red and wet. “Lili, honey, you know I love you right?” These words brought tears to Lili’s eyes as well, knowing what the next few following sentences would bring. She nodded. “You know that wherever I may go, I’ll always be right here with you, don’t you?” Her heart dropped. “Yes”. Lili looked up at her dad, who was trying very hard to hide the fact that he was hurting. But Lili could tell he was crying, both on the inside and on the outside.
It was at this moment she realized how much blood her mother had really lost. She didn’t have anything to say. She just bent over and gave her mom a hug. She didn’t care that her shirt was covered in blood at that point, she just cared that she was with her mother, while her mother was still with her. Her dad pulled out his phone to try to call someone one last time, and to everyone’s shock, it worked.
He called an ambulance and they were out in nearly ten minutes. They put Lili’s mom on a stretcher and took her away. At that point her dad quit trying to be strong. He grabbed Lili and held her, sobbing. She held him just at tight as he had. “I love you baby girl” he said. “I love you too dad.” Those were the last words they spoke to each other for the next twenty minutes. Eventually they got in the pickup truck, and headed to the hospital. They weren’t allowed in the ambulance simply because there would have been too many people, but nevertheless, they were on their way.
arrived at the hospital half an hour later, and they sat down in the waiting
room. This gave Lili time to think about everything. What it was, who it was,
what it’s problem was with her family, and why it was trying to hurt them. It
had nearly killed her mother already, who knows what else it could do. She
tried to think about all the stories she’d read as a girl, about all these
different kinds of paranormal and extraterrestrial creatures that may or may
not exist. She’d always been a fan of stories and documentaries on the subject,
but she never thought she would be living in one. She gave herself a list of
things to figure out; what it was, why it was targeting her family, and what it
wanted. She thought and thought for hours on end and never came up with
anything. There was no lead. They hadn’t done anything spiritual that might
have triggered it such as a ouija board. “Hey dad?” He looked over at her.
“Have you ever seen it?”
“That creature, the one that hurt mom?”
“What creature? You know what did this to her?”
“I think so. I went outside to check why you couldn’t call
anyone earlier, and I saw this thing on the power lines. It wasn’t the first
time I had seen it either. Do you remember the other night when we had the
bonfire in the yard?” He nodded. “Along the treeline facing the back of the
house really far away I saw it then too.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t just someone from the other side of
the tree line? There are a couple of houses on the opposite side like ours.” He
“Yeah, I’m sure. Human eyes don’t reflect light, that thing’s did. I have no clue what is going on.” Lili looked down at the cast on her ankle and wondered why she jumped from the highest spot instead of hanging off the edge and dropping. She would have only been a couple feet off the ground. And it would have saved her a lot of pain. It was too late at that point, however. Her thoughts wandered back to her mom. She wondered when she would get to see her, and if she would be okay. About an hour of thinking later, she still had come up with no explanation, nor a place to start.
A nurse came into the waiting room from a door across the room. “Are the Locke’s here?” Lili’s dad shot up from his chair, and Lili followed. She giggled at the fact that there was an indention where her dad had been sitting, but the joke quickly escaped her mind when they walked through the doors into a long hallway. The nurse showed them where Lili’s mom was staying, opened the door to the room, and stepped aside so they could walk in. She let the door close behind them as she continued down the hallway to do her job. The room scared Lili, as there were multiple tubes coming out of her mom’s arms, and machines beeping, over and over. She felt trapped. She watched the heart monitor continue in the same path. With each beep, it would spike, then go back down. Then again, and again, and again. It never sped up, it never slowed down. Until it did.
“Hey mom, can you hear me?” No response. The nurse had told
them that because of the medicine she had given her, she might be unresponsive
because she was sleeping. Lili reached for her hand, and laid hers on top of
“I know you’re in there, mom. Keep fighting. Don’t give up on us. You can’t give up on us. I need you.” Silence followed by the beeping of the monitor. Then it began speeding up. A lot. Doctors burst into the room and ordered the family out. So they left the room in a panic. They turned to look from outside the window on the side, but the curtain closed on them. They could hear faint shouting coming from the other side of the room.
“Is she going to be okay, Dad? Please tell me she is going
to be fine.” He did not respond for a few seconds.
“I don’t know yet, Tiger.” Tiger. She’d been called Tiger once before by her dad, and that was when she fell off of her bicycle when she was younger and broke her arm. That sent a wave of shock over her, and her heart dropped yet again. The same nurse began walking towards them from the direction she had left earlier, and ushered them to another waiting room. There were no people in this one, and it was much smaller. This room had to be four times smaller than the normal one, with only ten chairs and a small coffee table. A TV was mounted to the wall, and it was broadcasting some little kid show Lili had never seen before. Just like in any other waiting room, the volume had been turned down very quiet. In that room they sat.
One hour, two hours, three hours. The room had gradually become darker as dusk had set in. Finally, someone had come into the room. By that point, both Lili and her dad were dozing off, and the sudden burst of the door startled them both awake. It took them a second to realize where they were but once they did, the doctor took them to see Lili’s mom. The doctor said that she had a seizure, but that she was stable as of right now. Lili walked over to see her mother with bags under her eyes. Meanwhile, the creature was trying to find where the Locke’s were at. They were not inside nor outside the house. It had checked already. Maybe I finally got rid of that stupid family. They decided to take my family away from me, don’t think I’ve forgotten that easily. The creature posted up on the roof, scanning the surrounding area for signs of the family. But when nothing came up, it moved on. I’ll be back in the morning. Prepare yourselves Lockes. I will get my revenge. Don’t you doubt it for a second. And just as quickly as it had appeared, it sped off into the treeline.
drove away from the hospital, Lili’s mother began to speak. “I’m still so
confused as to what happened.”
“Something attacked you, Mom. What do you remember? Did you
see it? Hear it? Tell me everything.” Lili said.
“I didn’t see much, all I remember was that I was at the
counter making sandwiches for dinner that night, and something knocked me to
the ground. I could not see what it was, I just felt a sharp pain in the backs
of my legs. When I turned around to see what happened, nothing was there. I
tried to scream for someone to come help me, but I couldn’t. I don’t know why,
but I couldn’t. Then I passed out and woke up in that hospital bed.”
Lili pondered on this for a bit. If that creature she had
seen multiple times before was the culprit, it would make sense. Her mother
said it was quiet, and she never heard anything. Lili didn’t hear anything when
it was leaping away on the telephone poles. Her mom said it was so fast she could
not see it. That thing had been pretty quick when Lili saw it. It all
Okay, well at least I’ve got somewhere to start now Lili
thought. I know now that the creature I saw was probably what hurt mom. I still
don’t have the why, but at least I have the who. The Lockes got home, and at
that point it was nearly two in the morning, so everyone went to bed.
When Lili woke up the next morning, she went downstairs to make herself some breakfast, thinking this whole thing would be over and done with. But after her parents did not come down stairs, she became skeptical. She went upstairs to check on them at about noon, which was way late for them to get up, as they are early risers and are usually out and about by nine. She opened the door to her parents room, but they were not there. Lili searched the whole house, but could not find anyone. She soon pulled out her phone, and called her dad. No answer. Then she tried her mom. No answer. She went outside to look for them out there, because sometimes they liked to go out to the pastures and groom the horses and milk the cows. But they were not there.
In fact, nothing was there. The cows were all gone, and so were the horses and chickens. She checked and even the eggs were gone from the coop. This had never happened before. She tried calling again, but there was still no answer. Eventually she began running back to the house, and called her mom one more time. This time, instead of hearing her own phone ring, she heard her mom’s ringtone going off in the distance. Confused and terrified, she called again and again, until she found the source of the sound. Lili found both of her parents’s phones laying right next to each other, perfectly straight. None of this made any sense. And then that is when she saw the eyes again. Along the treeline yet again, but instead of being at her house looking towards the trees, she was only yards away. They blinked, and moved forward. It was at this moment Lili realized how large the creature really was, towering above her nearly as tall as her house did.
“Lili, I see we finally meet face to face.” She heard the
voice, it was deep and monotone. She did not see a mouth for a moment, because
the creature was black. Really black. Darker than the night sky. When she did
eventually find it, it looked like someone had attempted to stitch it closed
and failed. Skin stretched between the lips as it’s mouth opened, making it
even more terrifying than it was before. “Who are you, and what do you want
with me? Where are my mom and dad?” Lili shouted at the creature.
“Me? I’m surprised you don’t remember me, Lili Locke.” A
shiver ran down her back.
“Who are you!” She screamed.
“Oh honey, you shouldn’t be worried about me. It is your
parents you should be concerned about. Do you know where they are?” Silence.
“Oh, that’s right. I have them. You guys took my family from me and left me
alone for years, so I am going to do the same to you, Lili Locke.”
“Why are you doing this?” She shouted at it, tears beginning
to sting her eyes.
“You killed my family when you built this house. You took
away the only people I have ever loved. So I am going to do the same to you.” The creature pulled out
an arm with long, sharp looking fingers, which only added to the terrifying
aspect of this creature. It pointed behind the tree line, where there was an
open area. It was at this point she saw her mother and father, wrapped in
web-like material, from there feet to their necks. They were motionless and
their eyes were closed. “What family are you talking about? Who did we take
“My mother, my father, and my brothers and sisters. When you burned down the forest to create this area of land to build your giant house on, you burned my family’s home. I was the only lucky one that was able to get out!”
even are you?” Lili asked.
“That doesn’t matter! Who do you all think you are, to come
to my forrest, burn it all, and claim the land as your own? Why should you get
to keep your family, but I lost mine?”
“Because I didn’t do anything to deserve to lose my family!”
“And you think I did? I was very young, I had known my
family for less then a year! You’ve had yours way longer, and it’s finally time
you feel what i’ve felt all along.” Lili went stiff as a board. She had no clue
what to say.
“We aren’t the ones who burned your forest! This house has been here longer then any of us have been alive!” Even though Lili knew this was a lie, she had to try everything she could in order to save her family. Years ago, many before she was born, they had bought out the plot of land and burned it to make a new life here. They had hundreds of acres of forest burned down for them, and never replanted a single tree.
“LIES! I watched your father light the match and toss it at
the tree! Don’t try and lie to me, Lili Locke, you WILL regret it.” the
creature got closer to her face. This made Lili very uncomfortable, and she
“I’ve seen what your family can and will do to get their
way. And I think it’s finally time they pay for that, don’t you?”
“Please, you’ve got to take piddy on me, I wasn’t even alive
yet when it happened, please don’t punish me!”
“It’s too late. Begging isn’t going to do anything. I wish
you would see that already.” The creature leaped over the tall trees back into
the clearing where Lili’s parents were being kept. She sprinted as fast as
possible towards them, and stood in front of them. She shook them aggressively,
but they did not come out of their state.
“Wake up! Mom! Dad! Don’t leave me like this!!” she
screamed, but it was useless.
“Move child, or you’re going with them.” The creature said.
She did not budge. Lili simply stood there in between her parents, as if she
was guarding them.
“Dang it kid, I said move!” The creature was now only half a
foot away from her face. She could feel it breathing on her as she reached up
and grabbed it’s head. She punched it multiple times, until eventually it threw
her off of him. Thats when something happened that no one expected. Lili’s eyes
shone bright green beams of light, and began rising into the sky.
“Let. Them. Go. Now.” She said.
“Silly girl, haven’t you realized by now-” he was cut off.
The same green appeared in his eyes that were in Lili’s eyes.
happening?” it cried. Lili watched as it began fading colors, shifting grey,
then white, until it was nearly transparent. Thats when everything began to pan
out. With the loudest BOOM Lili had ever heard, the creature was gone. The
explosion sent her flying backwards towards the ground, and she blacked out.
When she came to, she saw her mom standing over her. She sat up, wondering what
“Where am I?” she asked. Her mom simply giggled.
“Honey, you’re still in bed. It’s time to wake up, you’ve
slept way longer than usual. Are you feeling alright?” Lili was just confused
at this point.
“Wait, but how did you get out of the web nets?” Her parents
now looked as confused as Lili.
“What web nets, you crazy?” Her mom said, laughing.
“The ones the creature wrapped you up in! You and dad were
both stuck and when I tried to shake you awake, you didn’t wake up!”
“Sweetheart, I think you’ve been dreaming a lot lately. Come
on, I made breakfast. It’s your favorite, scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon!
It’s real bacon this time too, not the turkey bacon you said you didn’t like.
But I don’t understand how you don’t like turkey bacon, I honestly like it more
than normal bacon. Come down when you’re dressed.” She turned and walked away.
Lili looked at the back of her moms legs as she walked out, and there were no
signs of cuts. Not even any scars. She got up and looked in the mirror. Her
eyes weren’t green anymore. Just her normal blue. Maybe it was all just a dream
She thought. But it felt so real! It was like I was right there. Even now that
I know it was just a dream, it still feels like i’m going to walk into the
kitchen and see mom laying on the floor in peril again. Lili got dressed, and
headed down stairs. Her mom greeted her in the kitchen with a hug, and handed
her a glass plate to get her food. Lili looked at all the amazing food, and it
smelled so good. She couldn’t wait to dig in, but she let her mom get her food
first since she cooked it all.
“Hey, where is dad at? I haven’t seen him yet today.” Lili
“Oh, he just went out to do some work around the pastures,
fixing old broken boards and that horrible old gate. He went out to get wood
and stuff last night to fix it. Said it should all be done around supper time.”
Lili wondered if she should help him or not
“Do you think he would want any help? I don’t think I have
anything to do today. I finished the replica you told me to build.”
“I’m sure he would love some help, honey. You can go out
there after you’re done eating. Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah.” She was reminded of the dream again. She sat down at
the dining table across from her mom, and began eating. So much happened in so
little time, I still can’t believe it was only a dream.