"Just as great as the other books in the series!" - Bonnie R.
"Best of an exciting horror series. Brian will go the depths and suffer terrible danger in this novella, which will engross and entice readers." - Mallory Heart Reviews
"Another great installment. Ron Ripley really knows how to create a chilling story that grabs the attention and won't let go!" - Brenda C.
"Adventure for the brave hearted. Wow! Really great storyline! Exciting! Truth be told I didn't read this at night. But I couldn't wait to finish this book! Suspense, horror at the academy seems so real. This author does an amazing job detailing the horrors that await on each page. All the characters come to life in vivid color." - Reader
"Great storyline. Held my attention the whole time! Captivating and interesting. No dosing off here. Love this author. Keep them coming!!" - Reader
"Oh my gosh! I loved this series! Scary good fun. Great stories and characters. More, please." - Teri
"Best one yet" - M.R.
"Loved this series! At times I was so caught up with the stories I would actually get scared. I loved this series! Very relatable characters and well written stories make this a must read!" - Reader
"Best story yet! Couldn't put it down!!" - Tracee S.
"Very spooky book! If you like spine chilling horror you are going to love this book. The author has more books which I will definitely read." - Sheila S.
From the Inside Flap
Bruce Marx sat on the edge of an old desk, lit a cigarette and smoked it in the cellar of Deer Stag House. He didn't worry about the smoke detector going off. The water from the burst toilets had soaked everything, which meant the first order of business had been to shut down the power to the house. And he had ripped the backup battery out of the detector when he inspected the damage.
Bruce couldn't care less about being caught. With the amount of damage caused, a little bit of secondhand Marlboro smoke was the last thing anyone would worry about.
He had a battery-powered light on a stand, shining at the pools of water on the floor. The old pipes had burst from the concussion of the cherry bombs and had soaked the old stone foundation directly beneath the bathroom.
Bruce wasn't looking forward to the clean-up, and the stone wall hadn't stood up well against the water. The original mortar had broken apart, and there were two and three-inch gaps between some of the stones.
Larry better get a mason to take care of the wall, Bruce thought. Then again, they'll probably have to bring in one of those artsy-types from Mystic since this is a 'historic' building.
Bruce shook his head and exhaled a long stream of smoke. He watched it curl through the bright, fluorescent light and slip between the stones.
Bruce blinked. He stood up, took a couple of steps closer, took a long drag off the cigarette, and blew the smoke directly at the wall.
Once more, it disappeared into the spaces left by fallen mortar.
Bruce turned away, grabbed hold of the light and brought it closer to the wall. He squinted and looked in. He saw a small space and what looked like the door to a safe. Bruce took a step back, pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and called Larry.
"Bruce, what's going on?" Larry asked when he picked up.
"You need to come here," Bruce said. "You need to come over to Deer Stag. You're not going to believe this."
"Is it bad?" Larry asked, concern filling his voice.
Bruce shook his head as he answered, "Larry, I don't know. Just get over here."
Bruce ended the call, stubbed out his cigarette and went back to the wall. He angled the light as much as he could, trying to get a better look. But there was nothing more he could make out. He stepped back and lit a fresh cigarette. Bruce paced back and forth, work shoes splashing in the water. A few minutes later, he heard the front door open and then Larry's footsteps on the stairs.
"Bruce," the older man said, frowning at the cigarette, "what's going on?"
"Just look through the cracks," Bruce said as he took hold of the light and raised it up. "Tell me what you see."
Larry walked to the wall, leaned in, and then took a surprised step back. He looked at Bruce. "Holy Jesus Christ, Bruce, is that a safe?"
Bruce nodded. "Yes!"
Larry looked in again, putting his hand against the wall to steady himself.
And the stone he pressed against moved. Not with the grace and ease of a hidden lever, but with a groan. Bits of mortar dropped to the floor, splashing in the water. Larry hesitated, and then he gave the stone a firm push. A second later, it fell in on the other side, crashing down loudly.
A hole, the size of a basketball, now opened to the small space beyond.
Bruce held up the light higher, letting the bright beam penetrate deep into the hidden space. He didn't see a handle on the safe, just a keyhole and hinges. And hanging on a hook near the top was a steel ring with a massive, curiously-shaped key. It was long and slender, with a round opening at the end; it looked almost like an oversized clock key.
The air in the small opening was damp and stale as if all of the life-giving oxygen had been stolen from it long ago.
"We need to tell Mitchell," Larry said after a moment of silence.
"The hell we do," Bruce said.
Larry raised an eyebrow.
"Listen," Bruce said, "we can tell him in a few minutes, right? I mean, let's take a look around. Once we tell Mitchell, he won't let us go in there. We'd have to wait for a 'specialist' or something, and who knows if they'd even let us in the cellar."
Larry looked back through the hole, then at Bruce. A grin crept across Larry's face. "Yeah, let's take a look."
Bruce laughed happily and pulled another stone out of the wall. Larry did the same, and in a few minutes, they had the wall in front of the safe dismantled. Bruce picked up the light and shined it around. The safe was only two feet by two square feet and was set in ancient cement. Larry reached into the space, took down the skeleton key down from its hook, and looked at Bruce.
"Ready?" Larry asked.
Bruce nodded excitedly. He watched as Larry fit the key into the hole. Larry turned it first to the left, and then to the right. A harsh 'clack' sounded, and the door moved out an inch or two. Bruce waited, his heart picking up its pace.
Larry gripped the exposed edge and pulled it open.
Bruce angled the light.
The space revealed was little more than the size of a bread box. The walls, though, were lined with a dark metal. Bruce could make out individual hammer marks. At the base of the wall across from him was a small, ornately carved box.
Larry reached in and took it out. He held the box up to the light, and Bruce watched as Larry turned it over in his hands. The box was hinged, and Larry glanced up at Bruce. "Should we?"
"Yes," Bruce said, nodding.
Larry opened it.
Inside, it was lined with a deep, red velvet. Set within the fabric was an ambrotype. The image was an old man, his eyes deeply set within their sockets. A long beard stretched down and vanished into the edge of the photograph. The man's forehead was tall and bare, the hair swept back.
"Jesus," Bruce said. "He looks like he would have been miserable to deal with."
Larry nodded. "You know, I think I've seen this guy before."
"What?" Bruce asked, leaning forward, squinting. "Oh, yeah! In the main hall, right?"
"Yeah," Larry said. "He's, oh damn, what's his name? Weiss! Nathaniel Weiss."
When the name left his lips, a wave of cold air slammed into Bruce, pushing him back and knocking the light out of his hand.
Bruce quickly picked it back up, his hands shaking. He shined the light on Larry and said, "Oh Jesus!"
Larry turned and looked at him, his face pale, and his hair was no longer a light brown but shockingly white. The man's eyes were wide.
"Bruce," Larry whispered. "What did we do?"