And Allison make three
The city of Boonville Indiana, was larger than the Village of Climax, but it was still just another small county town. Jackson stood in front of the mirror, located in the men’s rest room of a gas station on the edge of town. He splashed some water on his face, but it didn’t seem to help very much. He was exhausted. He couldn’t remember the last time he had slept, and every time he closed his eyes, the spirit of Harold Woodruff was there to greet him.
Taking off his jacket, he examined the spot on his arm, where Harold had grabbed him. The area was slightly burned, and Jackson thanked his coat for taking the majority of the assault, even though the leather didn’t show any signs of frost bite. A man entered the rest room and quickly disappeared into a stall. Jackson put his jacket back on and left the restroom. Perusing the isles of the gas station, he grabbed some snacks, caffeine, a map of the area, and a fresh pack of smokes, before making his way back to his car, which he had already topped off. Sliding into the driver’s seat, he unfolded the map, while taking a long drink of some wake-up juice.
“You’ve been awful quite since we found Jessica,” Lilly said from the passenger seat.
“Being attacked by ghosts and making a deal with a Demon’ll do that to guy,” Jackson responded. “This town isn’t very big, but I’ve got no idea where we should start looking,” he said, quickly changing the subject. “Looks like there’s a cemetery south of town. Maybe we should start there?”
Lilly didn’t like the idea of going back into a cemetery, after what had happened to her before. The one where she was buried, wasn’t that big, and she didn’t have any trouble leaving that one, but still. “I guess it’s as good a place as any to start,” she said reluctantly. “Who knows, we might even get lucky and find her there.”
The entire cemetery could be seen from the road, and wasn’t very big, which made Lilly feel a bit more at ease. Jackson parked the car alongside the road and squinted his eyes against the bright afternoon sun. He could several people wandering about the grounds, but he couldn’t tell if they were gray or not. “Do they look like ghosts to you guys?” he asked, fighting back a yawn.
“We’ll go and check it out,” Lilly volunteered, motioning toward Jessica. “Why don’t you stay in the car.”
“And why is that?” Jackson asked, sounding a bit irritated at the thought of being left out.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because the dead can see you,” Lilly said with a bit of sarcasm. “Remember Mr. Morris?”
“Yeah,” Jackson answered, with a sigh of defeat.
Lilly and Jessica made their way into the cemetery, under the watchful eye of Jackson, who elected to stay behind. They met with several ghosts, before running back to the car. “Allison lived in a big white house on west Walnut street,” Lilly said, passing through the passenger side door.
“And it has big pillars on the front porch,” Jessica added, getting into the back seat.
Jackson got out the map and found the street easily. “Got it,” he said, putting the car in drive and heading back toward the town. About twenty minutes later, Jackson put the car in park in front of a large, two story, white house, with large white pillars on the front porch.
“Well, this is the only house on this street with white pillars,” Jackson stated. “Why don’t you two go in and see if you can find her, and I’ll meet you in that park we passed by a few blocks north of here.”
Lilly and Jessica made their way up to the front door of the house, as they watched Jackson drive off. “So, how do we do this?” Jessica asked.
“We can just walk through the front door,” Lilly answered. “We’re ghosts, remember. Anyone in the house won’t be able to see us.”
“Except for other ghosts,” Jessica reminded her. The young girl’s voice was a little shaky, and Lilly wanted to tell her that everything was going to be alright, but she knew better than to promise that. Especially after what they had just been through.
“It’s the only way we’re going to be able to cross over and get ourselves out of Purgatory,” Lilly stated. “The way Tracy made it sound, was that it was an all of us or none of us type situation, so we need to do this. You can stay out here and be my look out if you want.”
“No, you’re right,” said Jessica, this time with a little more confidence in her voice. “You saved me from that Demon, so this is the least I can do,” she added, taking a step past Lilly and passing through the front door of the house.
The inside of the house was decorated in old antiques and white lace dollies. Dark stained wood trim ran from room to room, as did the matching hard wood floor. In the living room was a large fire place, surrounded by dark wood, and topped with a wooden mantel, made from the same type of wood that ran throughout the rest of the house. On top of the mantel were two large pictures. One was of a young girl with straight golden hair. She was wearing a purple graduation gown and hat. The other picture was of the same girl, and an older woman with gray hair. Both women were wearing large smiles, and appeared to be having a good time, where it was that they were at.
They made their way upstairs, and after peeking into several doors, they found what they believed to be Allison’s room, which was as empty as the rest of the house. The walls of the room had been painted pink, with slight splashes of orange. The large bed, had a heavy pink, plushy comforter on it, and at least twenty stuffed animals. All about the room were pictures of the same blonde haired girl from the picture downstairs. In all of the pictures, the girl appeared to be outside and enjoying life. She was rock climbing in one picture. Canoeing in another. Hiking a trail in yet another.
“She really liked being outside,” Jessica noticed, going from picture to picture.
“Look at this,” Lilly said pointing to a race bib for The Scales Lake Park 5K.
“What about it?” Jessica asked.
“I saw that park on Jackson’s map. If I loved the outdoors as much as she did, that’s probably where’d I go. Beats being stuck in a house full of painful memories, and reminders of what you used to be.”
“Maybe,” Jessica replied. “I stayed at my house for over a year, before it became too painful for me to bear. Besides, if we don’t find her there, we can always come back and check again later once someone does come home.”
They quickly returned to the car and found Jackson sound asleep. Lilly tried several times to wake him up, but it was no use, he wasn’t hearing her voice.
Jessica leaned forward and screamed “Wake up!” into Jackson’s ear, which made him shift his position a little, but that was it. “We don’t have time for this!” she exclaimed.
“I know, but he hasn’t really slept at all the last few days,” Lilly said, in Jackson’s defense.
“The thought of returning to that house never once entered my mind after I found out that I had died. My afterlife representative told me about the golden light, and that I would have to find its source to figure out what my unfinished business was. And I did. I made it all the way back to that house. I didn’t know what it was at first, or who even lived there. I went inside and found Tracy, who showed me that torture room in the basement,” said Jessica, offering Lilly a slight glimpse of her own experience, as tears began to run down her gray cheeks. “Everything came flooding back in that very instant. The smell of that piss stained mattress. The scent of Old Spice. The pain when he would hit me. The pain when he would rape me. And most of all, the smile on his face when he did it. I panicked. I ran out of that house as fast as I could, and I never looked back.”
“And know I’m dragging you back there,” Lilly said. “Thankfully. I wasn’t awake for most of my ordeal. I think he must have hit me a little too hard, when he took me,” she added, rubbing the side of her blood-stained head. “I get flashes every so often, and I remember the smell of Old Spice, but that’s it. I’m truly sorry for what happened to you, and that I’m asking you to go back with me, but…”
“But it must be done,” Jessica replied. “Mark Karle needs to be stopped once and for all, and when that happens we can finally leave Purgatory and be at peace.”
“Maybe we can walk to the park,” Lilly suggested.
“Do you know where it’s at?”
“Then our only option is to drive,” Jessica declared. “Wake up!” she screamed again, while lunging forward and hitting the car’s horn, which blared out, causing Jackson to sit straight up and cry out in surprise.
“You guys find anything?” he asked, acting like he had been awake the whole time.
“She wasn’t in the house, but we think we might know where she’s at,” Lilly answered, before asking Jackson to unfold his map. “There,” she said, pointing toward a green section of the map. “Scales Lake.”
* * *
The Scales Lake Campground had officially closed a few weeks ago, with the beginning of fall. Jackson had done his best to park his car far enough from the main road, but close enough to the campground, that he wasn’t going to have to go on a major hike to reach it.
The three of them made their way up a long, winding, dirt road, that ended at a large metal gate, with a closed for the season sign on it. Jackson made his way around the gate, keeping an eye out for any staff people that might still be lingering around, but the further the walked through the camp ground, the more apparent it became that they were alone.
The camp ground had several large buildings, a couple of small cabins, and what looked like a large open camping area across the lake. Sheets of plywood had been erected over the windows of the buildings and cabins. There was a large covered pavilion, that was empty of picnic tables. The volleyball courts had no nets, and the large metal racks, at the edge of the lake, that had once been full of canoes, were empty.
“You guys see anything?” Jackson asked.
“Nothing,” Lilly answered.
“Same here,” replied Jessica.
“Why don’t you two go and check out the buildings?” suggested Jackson. “I’ll go and have a look down by the lake.”
He lit a cigarette and took a deep drag, as he reached the edge of the lake. Scanning the camping sites across the water, he didn’t see a single soul, living or dead. The lake was very wide across, and nearly three times as long, and according to the picture on the map, had several finger like bays, giving the ghost a lot of places to hide. “Allison Murphey!” he called out, listening to his voice echo across the water.
“Hello?” an unsure female’s voice answered. Jackson couldn’t tell where the voice had come from, but it sounded far away. “Hello,” he called back, looking out across the lake. Far to his left, coming out of one of the bays, a splash of color caught his attention. Squinting his eyes against the sun, and its reflection off of the water, he spotted a bright red canoe drifting lazily across the water’s surface. The closer it came, he could see that sitting in the bow of the canoe was a young girl with long, straight grayish blonde hair.
“Over here!” Jackson called out, waving his arms in the air.
“You can see me?” girl asked.
“Yes,” Jackson replied. As he watched the canoe, it was obvious that the boat had changed course and was headed straight toward him. It was also obvious that the speed of the canoe had increased.
“How can you see me?” the girl asked, as the canoe glided to a stop near the water’s edge, allowing Jackson to pull it on to shore.
“I’m what’d you’d call a seer,” Jackson answered, finding it a little funny that he was now introducing himself as something that he hadn’t believed in a few days ago. “Are you Allison Murphey?”
“Why?” the girl asked, stepping out of the canoe. She was wearing a pair of jeans, and a pink short sleeved shirt. The colors of her clothes were like that of here skin, faded.
“Because if you are, we need your help.”
“He found her!” Jackson heard Lilly call out, as she and Jessica ran down to join them at the water’s edge.
“Who are you guys?”
“My name is Lilly.”
“And you’ve already met Jackson,” Lilly added, with Jackson giving Allison a wave. “And we need your help.”
“Yeah, that’s what he just said,” Allison replied.
“The three of us are connected,” Lilly stated, motioning toward her and Jessica.
“He killed you too didn’t he?” Allison asked, her voice becoming almost a whisper, a look of terror crossing her face.
“Yes,” Lilly answered.
“This isn’t a good idea,” Allison remarked, stepping back into the canoe. “You should leave.” The canoe slipped back into the water and started to drift away, as the ghost turned her back to the group and stood in the front of the boat.
“Wait!” Lilly cried.
“Leave me alone!”
“We’ve found a way to cross over, but we need your help!” Lilly exclaimed, stepping into the water, and finding that she could not walk upon it.
The canoe continued to drift further out into the lake.
“He has another girl, and she’ll die if we don’t stop him,” Jackson called out, hoping that the girl’s sense of doing the right thing, still lived within her. The canoe stopped, as if an unseen anchor had been dropped into the water. “I know you’re scared,” Jackson added. “They all are. Hell, so am I, but she needs our help, and we can’t do it without you.”
The canoe began to drift back toward the shore, but stopped a few feet from land. Allison turning around to face the trio.
“You followed your golden light, didn’t you?” Lilly asked. “You went back to the house?”
Allison just stared at Lilly with unwavering eyes.
“When you went inside, did you met Tracy LaFond? His first victim?”
“I never went back inside that foul place. I…I couldn’t..,not after the things he did to me in there.”
“We both know what you’ve been through,” said Jessica, taking a few steps toward the water. “You’re not alone anymore.”
Tears began to fall from Allison’s eyes.
“There’s five of us,” Lilly said. “Tracy told me to find you all, and to bring you back. She said that if we combined our strength that we had a chance to stop him once and for all, and that in doing so, we all would be able to cross over.”
“He can’t hurt you anymore,” replied Jackson, still seeing the terror in the girl’s face. “You have a chance to put things right, but we need to hurry.”
“Did they ever find you?” Lilly asked. She knew that Mark Karle was good at covering his tracks, and that it was safe to say that Allison’s body was still right where Mark had left it.
“We can help with that too,” Lilly promised. “Your parents will finally be able to see you at rest.”
“My parents died when I was young. My grandmother raised me, but she’s sick now. I don’t think she has much time left.”
“I’m sorry,” Lilly offered.
“You said that if we can stop him, then we can crossover? I’ll be able to leave Purgatory?”
“He’s our unfinished business,” Lilly answered. “We can all leave together.”
“Count me in then.”
They made their way back to Jackson’s car, just as the sun was starting to set. Jackson put the key in the ignition and started the car. “I’m going to need a short nap,” he said, reclining his seat a bit. Lilly knew that he had been burning his candle at both ends for the past few days, but before she could wish him sweet dreams, he was already fast asleep.
“So, what’s your story,” Jessica asked Allison, feeling that her tale would be quite similar to theirs.
* * *
September 15th, 2016
“I’m so wasted,” Allison giggled, as her best friend, Betsy Parnell, parked her car about a block away from Allison’s house.
“Your Grandma will ground you for a month if she catches you coming home like this,” Betsy warned, but giggling just the same.
“I’m eighteen years old, and graduating in a few months,” Allison argued. “I’m basically an adult, so she can’t ground me,” she added opening the car door, and stumbling onto the side walk. “Call me later,” she ordered, trying to close the car door as quietly as possible and failing miserably. “But not too early.”
Betsy’s car pulled away, and Allison started to slowly make her way home. She fell down a couple of times, and after what seemed like an eternity, she reached her house. Sneaking into the backyard, she made her way around to the far side of the house. That side of the house was where the garage was. It was also where an old TV Antennae used to be, with what remained of its small scaffold like tower still attached to the house. An addition had been built on to the back of the garage a long time ago, and was only a single story high, while the rest of the house was two stories tall. Her bedroom over looked the roof of the one story add on, which allowed her an avenue of escape whenever she needed one. It was as simple as climbing out her bedroom window, walking across the roof of the add on, and then climbing down the antennae.
Allison grabbed the old, rusty tower, and placed a foot on the lowest rung. She pulled herself up a few rungs, before her world started to spin slightly. Her foot missed the next rung, and she found herself on her back looking up at the stars. She let out a laugh, which she quickly stopped, by placing a hand over her mouth. She rolled over and started to pick herself up, when a gloved hand appeared out of the darkness and clamped itself across her mouth.
Allison tried to pull away, but the strong arm of the gloved hand, pulled her tight against the body of whoever it was behind her. She tried to scream as loud as she could. Tried to fight as hard as she could. She felt a sharp twinge of pain in the right side of her next, and then there was only darkness.
* * *
It was still dark when Jackson opened his eyes. “How long was I asleep for,” he said with a yawn.
“A couple of hours,” Lilly answered. “We need to find Allison’s body.”
“I figured as much,” Jackson replied, lighting a cigarette and blowing a large puff of smoke out the crack in the driver’s side window. “Where are we headed?”
“The Woodbury Wildlife Area. It’s south of Warsaw Ohio,” Allison declared, with a somber voice. “That’s where he buried me three years ago.”
“And where is the last girl…? Jackson inquired.
“Laura Elliott. She was living in Oak Hill Ohio, when she disappeared,” Lilly answered.
“He’s smart,” Jackson commented, putting he car in drive.
“What do you mean by that?” Jessica asked, her voice filled with anger.
“He takes you from one state, and leaves you in another,” Jackson answered. “It makes it harder for you to be identified if someone were to stumble upon your bodies. You wouldn’t be in any local databases, and nobody would think to link him with the rest of you, so no one is looking for one serial killer, and they would treat all of you as separate cases.”
Jessica screamed out in frustration. Jackson felt a wave of energy pass through him, as the right side headlight went dark.
“Hey,” Jackson yelled. “What the fuck was that?”
“Sorry,” Jessica said, shrinking into the cushions of the back seat. “I just get so anger when I think of all the shit he’s gotten away with.”
Jackson saw a long driveway of a house coming up on his left and pulled into it. The driveway looked like it was at least a quarter mile long, as the lights from a large house glowed softly in the distance. “That’s what we’re trying to change, remember?” Jackson asked. “Now the cops gotta a reason to stop us,” he added, getting out of the car and walking around to examine the headlight. After giving it a couple of whacks with his hand, it blinked back on. He began to walk back toward the driver’s side door, when he stopped and stared out toward the road.
“What is it?” Lilly asked, as all three girls looked out the back window of the Kia, and stared into the darkness. Jackson reached into the car and popped the trunk, before making his way toward the back of the car. A few seconds later he jumped in the driver’s seat, wearing a pair of latex gloves and holding a reflective driveway marker, which he tossed in the back seat.
“Hey,” Jessica and Allison cried out, as the plastic stick passed through them and landed on the seat.
“Sorry,” Jackson responded, putting he car in reverse. “It’s not like it was going to hit you. Besides, we’ll need it to mark where they can find your body, and it saves me five bucks and a trip to the store,” he added, slamming the car in drive and stepping on the gas. He took out his cell phone and typed Woodbury Wildlife area in the search bar, before sending it to the map app. “It’s about a six-hour drive, so you all better get comfortable.”
* * *
The Woodbury Wildlife Area consisted of over fourteen thousand acres of land, and was made up of open fields, brush land, large forests, and wetlands. Jackson pulled into a parking area, just as the night sky was starting to lighten, in the anticipation of the morning sun. “I’m pretty sure this is the closest parking area,” Allison said, looking around. “This looks familiar.”
“How far do you think your…?” Jackson began to ask.
“A few miles,” Allison answered.
“Can you lead me in the dark, or do we need to wait a few hours?”
Lilly looked to the racing dark clouds, within the solar shadow, high above them. “It’s never dark for us, remember?” she replied.
“Then we had better get started,” Jackson said, putting on another pair of latex gloves and grabbing the driveway marker from the back seat.
By the time the group reached the burial site, the morning sun was starting to peak over the horizon. A constant trickle of sweat ran down Jackson’s back, as he leaned heavily against a large oak tree. The area was heavily wooded, and the only path that could be seen had been made by deer. “I really need to get into shape,” he said, taking out a cigarette and lighting it. “How much further?”
“Just over that hill,” Allison responded. Motioning toward the steep incline about fifty yards ahead of them.
“Let’s get to it then,” Jackson replied, taking one last drag of his cigarette, before tossing it to the ground. He stepped on it for good measure, and started up toward the hill. He was about half way up it when he stopped, and ran quickly back down the hill to the spot where he had been smoking. It took him a few minutes, before he found the cigarette butt, which he pushed into his jacket pocket. “Don’t want to leave any DNA laying around,” he said when he noticed the three girls staring at him, and wondering what in the world he was doing.
They crested the hill and found themselves staring at an even larger hill then the one they had just climbed. “Down there,” Allison pointed toward the small valley in between the two hills. At the bottom of the hill the ghost of Allison Murphey led them to a small natural cave like hole, that had been carved into the side of the hill. The entrance, which was only about a foot tall and maybe twice as wide, had been covered with a pile of medium size rocks. Stick and leaves and been thrown upon the rocks, adding to the concealment of the make shift grave. Jackson did his best to clear off all of the sticks and brush, but decided to leave the grave undisturbed. He placed the driveway marker into the ground in front of the rocks, and saved the coordinates on the hand held GPS unit. The four of then stood there in silence for several long minutes, before they headed back to the car.
Jackson drove into the small town of Warsaw, and dropped off an envelope addressed to the Coshocton County Sherriff’s Department, at another roadside blue mailbox, before getting on State Route 16 and heading south toward Mark Karle’s fourth victim.