The Newman Hauntings

Here’s Chapter 1 as a free read. Available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle.

The Newman Hauntings

“The Slave Master

A Serial Novella

Book Number 1

1
Overjoyed, Mike Newman turned the key and walked through the door of his new home. His wife and daughter followed close behind, each carrying food, toiletries, a bottle of wine, and a pack of paper towels. They created a makeshift table from a couple of moving boxes and a roll of duct tape. The 5-gallon buckets were uncomfortable, but made bearable by Sarah’s placement of spare bath towels to cushion them. Mike had married Sarah partly for looks, but also for her resourcefulness, witty personality, and intelligence. Daughter Maggie eyed one of the moving crew, a teen her own age of 16. He passed by Maggie carrying heavy boxes revealing a youthful and muscular build, as he gave a quick wink and a big smile.

“I like him!” Maggie said with a grin.

“Maybe a bit too much,” Mike said with raised eyebrows.

“Now, now honey, no need to get hostile. At least these guys are a friendly crew and not a bunch of thugs like we had on our last move,” Sarah said.

They sat down and ate takeout fish with French fries while sipping wine, laughing, talking, and occasionally directing movers on where to place boxes, move furniture, and install appliances. The house was a bit rough, but the price was right, an old southern plantation home with 5000 square feet and a complete wrap-around porch still intact. Across the yard was a storage building, a converted slave cabin with rickety walls, broken windows, and a dirt floor. From the front porch the 40 acres looked remarkable, giving the illusion of being completely isolated. On the other side of the trees is a former cotton field, now absent cotton and brimming with grass, wild flowers, rust-covered farm tools, and fast-growing weeds.

A writer is sometimes best at home in such a setting, far removed from the noisy distractions and unwanted interruptions the big city brings. Mike recognized that his mind could flow freely here and call-up the clear and accurate images required for writing good fiction. Sarah enjoyed the country setting, a welcome respite from the particularly high stress environment that emergency room nursing brings.

Meadowville is a medium-sized town, but ER visits are many, especially when Friday and Saturday night arrives, bringing with it busted heads, deep slashes, black eyes, gunshot wounds, and concussions from the local biker bar. Double J’s is informally and exclusively a biker bar, but once in a while a non-biker will drop-in and normally leave right away, but some stay until the fists start flying, the heads start smashing, and the pool cues start breaking.

——

Mike awakened to the smell of bacon and eggs frying. The toaster popped and Maggie skipped into the kitchen. Sarah finished serving and sat down, giving them a quick glance and a big smile. They smiled back, but hungry, they wasted no time digging in.

“I can’t believe it,” Sarah said.

“Well, it’s real hun. Here we are babe; we’re out in the sticks away from everyone just like we wanted,” Mike said.

“And best of all, the price was right,” Sarah said.

“Can you believe we got this place for half of what it’s worth?” Mike said, smiling and nodding.

“It’s hard to believe, but I guess maybe most people just don’t want to live this far out,” Sarah reasoned.

“Well, lucky for us that you work 5 miles up the road at Meadowville General Hospital and I work at home,” Mike said.

“And I just go to school,” Maggie said, chiming in while smacking bacon.

“Yes. School is important, more important than boys,” Mike lectured with a wagging finger.

“Dad, I said one boy was cute and you are all up-in-arms about it. Dang Dad! Take a chill pill,” Maggie said.

“Keep telling me to chill and I’ll chill your dating life until you’re 25!”

“Dad!”

“Don’t Dad me. Go get ready. It’s almost time for school,” Mike said.

“I have to go get ready too. Love ya.”

“Love you too Babe,” Mike said.

After 15 minutes, Sarah scampered down the hall and hung up the wet towel then slipped into her scrubs and bright orange jogging shoes. After helping Maggie with her hair, she dropped her off at school and headed for the ER. After waving them off, Mike continued to sit on the front porch while sipping coffee, watching the leaves blow, and the squirrels play. The big breezy porch and the rocking chair fit Mike like an old comfortable pair of shoes. After about 30 minutes he walked to his study, sat down and turned on the mouse and computer, then leaned back and ran his fingers through his hair.

He stared at the screen’s cursor as it blinked on and off against the white backdrop of the new manuscript. Now on his third cup of coffee, he tried to quiet his mind. He cracked his knuckles and stretched his fingers. Glancing at the clock, 10 minutes had passed before beginning to type. A crashing sound from the living room interrupted his concentration. He got up to investigate.

“What the hell was that noise?” He mumbled as he walked into the living room.

Looking down at the center of the living room floor, their family picture was lying face down and tiny shards of glass covered the floor, even to the corners of the room. As he picked up the picture, he turned around and looked back across the room to the empty nail above the fireplace mantle where the picture had hung. As he looked back down toward his feet, he noticed the pattern of glass emanating out from the center of the room, not from near the mantle where the picture should have landed. He walked over to the mantle and squatted down in an attempted to determine where the picture should have landed. He glanced up and eyed the impact point.

“How could this have happened? It would have had to travel through the air 15 feet, like someone carrying it, and then get slammed into the center of the floor, not just falling off the nail and breaking,” He said, talking to himself.

Puzzled, Mike walked through the house with his Colt 45 pistol, floor by floor and room by room, calling out to see if anyone was in the house. Nothing. Nobody home except him and all the doors and windows were locked, some windows even painted shut.

Mike sat back down and laid his pistol beside the mouse and began staring at the screen again. After 10 minutes, he got up and poured another cup of coffee and paced the floor, occasionally stopping to take a sip and stare at the living room floor. He tried to salvage the family photo, but some glass shards and a piece of the frame had ripped through it, nearly tearing it in half. He eyed the nail on which the picture had hung then placed his empty mug on the mantle. He sat down and tried to write, but his mind was as blank as the page and as creative as the blinking cursor.

He glanced between the blank page and the ticking clock. The noise of the clock seemed to drone on and on and on. Frustrated, he got up and removed the clock from the wall and placed it in the other room, opting for the silent clock on the computer. Taking a deep breath, he rubbed his face and then rubbed his eyes still drawing a blank; this left him feeling like an unprepared, stupid high-schooler taking a pop quiz after an all-night drunk.

Already 10 AM, Mike paced the room and sipped coffee. He wasn’t used to drawing a complete blank when starting a new novel, or any other time for that matter. He was always quick to write, slow to edit, and even more slow to rewrite. Accurate, first-time clear images were a world away and for the very first time, Mike recognized this. He clicked off the monitor and walked into the front yard where he looked around, stretched, groaned, and began walking the property. The fresh air felt good as he realized that the outdoors might be a good respite from the indoor work to which he was accustomed.

Passing by the old slave cabin he paused, stopped, and looked back over his shoulder. The door was standing open, creaking and squeaking from the wind pushing it back and forth. Looking through the door, the gray dirt floor and blackness faded to pitch-black. Within that blackness some parts were so black that it stood out, creating a black blur in the backdrop. He wondered if his eyes were simply adjusting or if there was something eerily abnormal, even paranormal about the cabin. From all accounts, the house seemed haunted, so it wasn’t such a leap to think that the old slave cabin could be too.

After taking a few steps, he turned around again. He paused and stared at the darkness within. It seemed to call out to him as he continued to focus his eyes into the blackness trying to discern normal from abnormal and paranormal. There were small yellow cat-like eyes staring back at him. They were clustered in sections of three, but fading in and out like small lights attached to a dimmer switch. The cabin had no wires, let alone electricity. He turned around and stared at the trees, then turned back around toward the cabin and refocused. The same eyes stared back again, but this time without definable rhythm. He walked over to the doorway and peeked inside. He clapped his hands and hissed and no cats exited the cabin. He pulled out his keychain light and stepped through the door. There was nothing alive inside except small spiders, large roaches, and a few odd-looking beetles. Still, no cats in sight. He pushed the webs out of the way, stepped back outside, and wiped his hands off. As he started walking away, he could feel the sensation of motion behind him, but no one was there. Chills ripped across his back and spine and down both arms. It was a cold chill, like someone opened a freezer door and then shut it back.

“Honey! Where are you?”

“Over here, babe,” Mike yelled.

“Checking things out?” Sarah asked.

“Yeah, just looking around some, exploring, you know,” Mike said.

“A lot to explore, isn’t it?”

“Yep, big place we bought,” He said.

“How do you like the place so far?” Sarah asked.

“Like it even more than at first. Big, private, open space. Pretty interesting too when you think about the history here with the slave cabin on the property and all,” He said.

“Historic for sure, but I’d say tragically historic,” She said.

“Tragically?” Mike asked.

“Slavery is tragic. Can you imagine those people oppressed, made to work against their will, beaten, and treated purely like property?” She said.

“It is pretty bad, for sure,” Mike said, tossing a rock into the field.

Maggie stepped off the bus and walked down the driveway and Mike and Sarah walked toward her. After asking about her first day at the new school, they stepped up on the porch, sat down, and listened to Maggie tell them about her new teachers, the school, and all the students she’d met.

He stared at the screen’s cursor as it blinked on and off against the white backdrop of the new manuscript. Now on his third cup of coffee, he tried to quiet his mind. He cracked his knuckles and stretched his fingers. Glancing at the clock, 10 minutes had passed before beginning to type. A crashing sound from the living room interrupted his concentration. He got up to investigate.

“What the hell was that noise?” He mumbled as he walked into the living room.

Looking down at the center of the living room floor, their family picture was lying face down and tiny shards of glass covered the floor, even to the corners of the room. As he picked up the picture, he turned around and looked back across the room to the empty nail above the fireplace mantle where the picture had hung. As he looked back down toward his feet, he noticed the pattern of glass emanating out from the center of the room, not from near the mantle where the picture should have landed. He walked over to the mantle and squatted down in an attempted to determine where the picture should have landed. He glanced up and eyed the impact point.

“How could this have happened? It would have had to travel through the air 15 feet, like someone carrying it, and then get slammed into the center of the floor, not just falling off the nail and breaking,” He said, talking to himself.

Puzzled, Mike walked through the house with his Colt 45 pistol, floor by floor and room by room, calling out to see if anyone was in the house. Nothing. Nobody home except him and all the doors and windows were locked, some windows even painted shut.

Mike sat back down and laid his pistol beside the mouse and began staring at the screen again. After 10 minutes, he got up and poured another cup of coffee and paced the floor, occasionally stopping to take a sip and stare at the living room floor. He tried to salvage the family photo, but some glass shards and a piece of the frame had ripped through it, nearly tearing it in half. He eyed the nail on which the picture had hung then placed his empty mug on the mantle. He sat down and tried to write, but his mind was as blank as the page and as creative as the blinking cursor.

He glanced between the blank page and the ticking clock. The noise of the clock seemed to drone on and on and on. Frustrated, he got up and removed the clock from the wall and placed it in the other room, opting for the silent clock on the computer. Taking a deep breath, he rubbed his face and then rubbed his eyes still drawing a blank; this left him feeling like an unprepared, stupid high-schooler taking a pop quiz after an all-night drunk.

Already 10 AM, Mike paced the room and sipped coffee. He wasn’t used to drawing a complete blank when starting a new novel, or any other time for that matter. He was always quick to write, slow to edit, and even more slow to rewrite. Accurate, first-time clear images were a world away and for the very first time, Mike recognized this. He clicked off the monitor and walked into the front yard where he looked around, stretched, groaned, and began walking the property. The fresh air felt good as he realized that the outdoors might be a good respite from the indoor work to which he was accustomed.

Passing by the old slave cabin he paused, stopped, and looked back over his shoulder. The door was standing open, creaking and squeaking from the wind pushing it back and forth. Looking through the door, the gray dirt floor and blackness faded to pitch-black. Within that blackness some parts were so black that it stood out, creating a black blur in the backdrop. He wondered if his eyes were simply adjusting or if there was something eerily abnormal, even paranormal about the cabin. From all accounts, the house seemed haunted, so it wasn’t such a leap to think that the old slave cabin could be too.

After taking a few steps, he turned around again. He paused and stared at the darkness within. It seemed to call out to him as he continued to focus his eyes into the blackness trying to discern normal from abnormal and paranormal. There were small yellow cat-like eyes staring back at him. They were clustered in sections of three, but fading in and out like small lights attached to a dimmer switch. The cabin had no wires, let alone electricity. He turned around and stared at the trees, then turned back around toward the cabin and refocused. The same eyes stared back again, but this time without definable rhythm. He walked over to the doorway and peeked inside. He clapped his hands and hissed and no cats exited the cabin. He pulled out his keychain light and stepped through the door. There was nothing alive inside except small spiders, large roaches, and a few odd-looking beetles. Still, no cats in sight. He pushed the webs out of the way, stepped back outside, and wiped his hands off. As he started walking away, he could feel the sensation of motion behind him, but no one was there. Chills ripped across his back and spine and down both arms. It was a cold chill, like someone opened a freezer door and then shut it back.

“Honey! Where are you?”

“Over here, babe,” Mike yelled.

“Checking things out?” Sarah asked.

“Yeah, just looking around some, exploring, you know,” Mike said.

“A lot to explore, isn’t it?”

“Yep, big place we bought,” He said.

“How do you like the place so far?” Sarah asked.

“Like it even more than at first. Big, private, open space. Pretty interesting too when you think about the history here with the slave cabin on the property and all,” He said.

“Historic for sure, but I’d say tragically historic,” She said.

“Tragically?” Mike asked.

“Slavery is tragic. Can you imagine those people oppressed, made to work against their will, beaten, and treated purely like property?” She said.

“It is pretty bad, for sure,” Mike said, tossing a rock into the field.

Maggie stepped off the bus and walked down the driveway and Mike and Sarah walked toward her. After asking about her first day at the new school, they stepped up on the porch, sat down, and listened to Maggie tell them about her new teachers, the school, and all the students she’d met.

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