Green Lake (Episode 1.1)
From the creators of Suspense Magazine, comes an exciting new original story called “Green Lake”. This is an ongoing series that will be given to the reader in what we call scenes.
We wanted to create something more than just a serial novel, so this will read more like a TV series, in which the reader will be thrust into the town of Green Lake, California. When the reader finishes each scene, they will have to wait until we release the next, and so on.
I’ve made up a FAQ section, so the reader will be able to understand what is happening.
What exactly is “Green Lake”?
Green Lake is a fictional town in North Central California. Over 200 years ago, before the start of the gold rush, Green Lake was founded. The Salem Witch trials received all the press back then and today, however Green Lake was the first city in the United States to burn a witch at the stake. Before she died, she placed a curse on the town and every one in it, proclaiming to have her revenge in 200 years and that time is now.
How long is the series?
Like any TV series, there is no end until there is an end. Green Lake has a past that can’t be written or told in an exact time frame. The journey for the reader is that they will be a part of a town that is literally struggling to stay “alive”.
How many main characters are there?
There is one main character, Michael Barrett that has returned to Green Lake because of a tragedy. This is the beginning of what is about to come and Michael is searching for the truth behind the tragedy. What he finds is much more dangerous.
We welcome you to “Green Lake” and hope you live long enough to stay awhile. However, we can’t guarantee anything and you are taking a chance by reading any further. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Enjoy.
Episode 1: Scene 1
The Phone Call
The Victorian farmhouse had been a beacon of stability in the small town of Green Lake, California for generations. It had seen the boom of the “Gay Twenties,” the barren years of “The Great Depression,” “The Second World War,” “The RED Scare,” and the cruelty of “The Eighties.” Like the Rock of Gibraltar, all within the town knew, as long as the Barrett House stood, Green Lake would survive.
That’s what they used to think . . .
Green Lake, California was about to change.
Sitting in their simple white walled kitchen, Mary and Joe Barrett started their day as they had for over forty-eight years of marriage—talking over a cup of coffee. It was close to harvest time, and Mary valued this little time she would have with her husband. Both were near their seventies, and set in their ways. Like most couples, they had their “shaky” moments.
The talk this morning was not starting out as a good one.
“Joe, please, let’s just leave this place,” Mary’s hands shook with fear. She tried to hide it by wiping her hands off with a tea towel, but the act was clumsy at best. “We’ve done what we can here, Pa. We can sell the rest of the farm to that wine company and just retire. Hell, you’ve always complained about the winter since I’ve known you!”
Joe drank his coffee, silent.
“We don’t need to be here anymore!”
Joe was a tough looking man. In his youth, many a female tried their best to both capture his eye and heart. He looked, strangely, like John Wayne. He knew this, and at first, hated the comparison. He, after all, was better looking than “The Duke.” His temper was legendary, and so was his conservative ways. If he could, he would rub two nickels together, hoping to create a dime. Salt of the earth, he was!
“Nope,” Joe shook his head in disagreement.
“Dear Christ in a cardigan sweater!” Mary pleaded, returning to her sink. She started to run water to wash their morning dishes with. The woman was terrified.
“Mary, you know we can’t leave now. That will never happen. Too many people rely upon our good name, and, besides . . . she will never allow it.”
“You say ‘never’ way too much these days.”
“Of course I do!” Joe dryly laughed, “It’s all part of the curse. You understand.”
“Enough about this stupid curse! Why do you continue to believe in this tripe?” Mary smashed a coffee cup in the old cast iron sink, causing splinters of china to spray everywhere. Regretfully, the woman bent down, picking up the fragments of her hurried actions. “Joe, it has been over two hundred years and that urban legend is killing this town.”
Joe put his hand up, stopping his wife in mid sentence.
“Woman, you know better than to talk like that. They can hear everything.”
The old woman paused, realizing the consequences of her actions. She started to cry, silently, dropping the broken glass once more. She put her hands to her face.
Joe felt lower than a snake’s belly.
He got up, pushing in his breakfast chair. There were his duties to consider.
“I don’t want to upset you, but you know we can’t just leave. So, let’s drop the subject and move on, please.”
The man’s voice begged for forgiveness, although both knew the words for the act wouldn’t come. Joe was from another time and mindset. Women’s Liberation was one thing, but he was still the king of his castle.
Calmly, the woman poured herself her first cup of coffee. This was usually her “bright” part of the morning. She lived for a good cup of “Joe.”
Her eyes turned dark and focused.
Her man’s ego be damned!
“Joe Barrett, we are not going to stop talking about this,” she demanded. Again, a coffee cup hit the empty sink, and again, another dish was broken.
“What the hell are you talking about, woman?” Joe demanded, halfway between leaving for the morning and looking at his wife strangely. Mary never was one to rock the boat.
Strange . . . .
“Not until I hear a good reason why we should stay. And don’t give me that crap about the town watching us. We’re one slight push to the grave, both of us. It’s time that they learn to live on their own. We need to leave and live our lives, not stay in fear of old ghosts lying about.”
Mary left the kitchen. She had to!
When she first got married, Joe’s mother had warned her about the Barrett men’s stubbornness. That it was powerful enough to turn the Pope into a Mormon.
She ended up where she always ended up, standing in front of the huge picture window of their living room, glaring out at the world.
“Damn you, man,” she whispered under her breath.
She closed her eyes, almost immediately regretting the curse. She loved Joe and would not trade a million years of youth for one day she shared with that man. Life had been hard, but never had it not been worth the living.
Memories grabbed at her heartstrings in this room. There was the autographed movie program she had, when visiting Los Angeles in 1953. She saw a movie called “The Robe” and was lucky enough to encounter Richard Burton at the first showing. He was a young and unknown actor in America at that time, and signed her card with great humility. Later, he would turn into the arrogant, drunken, and celebrated celebrity he would be remembered for. Still, when Mary looked at her old program, he was always the timid, nervous, and anxious Englishman lost in America.
Her son’s pictures. Her legacy.
Odds and ends. A telegram an Uncle had received from a dear friend on board the fatal “Titanic.” Her Uncle always claimed that the ill-fated message was a lucky charm of his, albeit connected with such death. Pictures, faded, and forgotten. Old battle flags from Joe’s time in “The War,” and forgotten toys played with no more, by kids turned adults long-since gone.
It was a good room.
One worth living in.
Mary squinted her eyes.
“I wonder who that is?” she said, covering up the glare of the sun with her hand.
A black car—she never really was ever good at making out makes or models—drove by the house. It was going abnormally slow, as if it had wanted Mary to notice it. Peculiar.
The passenger in the car was male. That, Mary did make out. He was wearing sunglasses. A lot like those worn by Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black. She giggled a little. She liked that show.
“What the hell do you want?”
The car didn’t stop, but kept on going down the road.
The driver’s glare at Mary never wavered.
It was eerie.
Mary put her hands over her face in fright as the kitchen phone blasted to life.
Joe answered the phone.
“Hello?” he asked.
The car seemed to stop just up the road, well within Mary’s line of vision. It parked in front of an old Oak Tree, known in the neighborhood as “The Hanging Tree.” It was huge and over two hundred years old. Been there since the beginning of time, almost. Her branches spread out long and filled the air with a fragrance only a small Towner could appreciate. In old western days, it was said, it was here where local Sheriffs and U.S. Marshals would hang Green Lake’s “most wanted.”
“What’s going on?” Mary asked, peering closer, her face almost banging into the picture window’s thick glass.
“Hello? Barrett residence,” Joe repeated.
There was a long pause.
Mary’s attention stayed with the car.
The car sat, parked in front of the old oak, just sitting there. The driver seemed not to care about the heat, or the fact that he was being watched. He just stared blankly ahead, wearing those silly dark sunglasses.
“Why now? I don’t . . .” Joe’s voice trembled. He paused, as if being scolded by his father. “Okay. I understand.”
Joe hung up the phone.
Mary’s curiosity stayed focused on the curious drama in front of her. She absently heard her husband approaching her. He appeared, distracted.
“Joe seems we have visitors out front.”
Joe said nothing.
From behind the old oak, there appeared a strange figure draped within a black cloak. Odd for the weather they were having. Too hot for such thick cloth.
The driver of the car still did not acknowledge that he had a visitor from the tree.
The strange figure in black pulled back, having said nothing, and disappeared.
“Where the hell did she go?” Mary asked, peering out over her entire valley.
Joe seemed to be stumbling. Mary rolled her eyes. Yet another thing for him to complain about later, at the dinner table.
A drawer was opened.
Joe took something out, closing it.
Mary still stood in front of the picture window looking on.
“Who was that on the phone, Joe?” she asked, not turning around.
Her husband walked into the living room and put his hand on Mary’s shoulder. There was tenderness in his hands that spoke volumes to her. He had been sorry for being such a grouch so early in the morning, and perhaps, the rest of the day would turn “good” after all.
“Mary . . .” he whispered, almost in tears.
Still looking outside she reached up and grabbed his hand putting it close to her face.
“You’re right, Mary. It is time to leave.”
Joe raised his right hand and put the gun to Mary’s head pulling the trigger. The bullet exited his wife’s head breaking the front window. Blood splattered over Joe and the front wall of the living room.
The last thing Mary saw was the driver looking back at her.
The driver smiled.
Joe remained calm. This was man’s work he was doing.
This . . . was necessary!
“Right behind you, Mary,” he absently stated. His face was covered with his wife’s hair, bone, and blood.
Joe then took the gun and put it to his own head, pulling the trigger.
The Barrett’s finally left Green Lake.
Out front, the car started its engine, turned around, and once more drove down the dirt road in front of the Barrett’s home.
It stopped in front of the mailbox.
A raven landed upon the mailbox, squawking.
After a couple seconds, the car sped off…
Check back next week for the next scene to be released!