Sarah Hastings is a rookie cop who works the night shift in Amber Forest, a small rural town nestled in the Western Pennsylvania mountains. After repeatedly responding to an abandoned
and allegedly haunted farmhouse for 911 hang up calls, she discovers a dead body in a secret room. The forensic investigators determine that the body has only been dead for three to four days, but the case takes an unexpected turn when Sarah runs the victim’s fingerprints and finds that her Jane Doe actually died 20 years ago.
The murder investigation is complicated with a sloppy autopsy and delayed forensic reports. When the US Marshals and FBI join the case, Sarah realizes that she is caught in a web of jurisdictional politics that seem to care less about the victim and are more concerned with a larger confidential case. Sarah soon realizes that she may be closer to the victim than she thought and finds herself drawn deeper into the case, threatening not just her career, but her life.
The house was in total disrepair. The exterior had white wooden siding with loosely attached, rotting black shutters. The moonlight highlighted the chipping paint, making the shutters appear two-toned. The old brick chimney was pulling away from the side of the house, and small trees were growing on the lower roof. There were no signs of life inside—no lights, no sound, not even a car parked on the property. It was the only house on the lane, so I deduced this was once a running farm. This must have been the original farmhouse. I slowly made my way around the house, trudging through the overgrown grass, to check the perimeter. With no evidence of life or habitation, I was beginning to question if Dispatch had gotten the address wrong. I got on the radio. “1034 to Dispatch.”
“Dispatch, go ahead.”
“I’m at 52 Patch Lane. Can you confirm this is the address?”
“Stand by.” After about a minute, Dispatch got back on the air. “1034, yes, that’s the correct address. Do you need backup?”
“Negative. It appears no one is home, but I’ll update.”
At this point, I knocked on the front door and announced myself. “Officer Hastings, Amber Forest Police Department!” No answer. All of the windows were closed, so I tried the front door. Locked. I didn’t have any extenuating circumstances that would allow a warrantless entry, so all I could do was leave. There wasn’t even enough for me to write a police report.
“1034 to Dispatch,” I radioed again.
“Dispatch, go ahead.”
“It looks like this house is abandoned. I think the 911 hang up might have been some crossed telephone wires. Clear me from the call with no report.”
I began driving back down the gravel lane when another wave of chills shot through me. I hit my brakes and glanced in my rearview mirror. My brake lights flooded the house in red, and for a split moment I thought I saw someone standing in the window watching me leave. I blinked, and the figure vanished. My intuition had kept me alive this far, but I knew Chief Fox would rip me a new one if I tried to enter that house based on my intuition and faintly seeing shadows. I took a deep breath and convinced my foot to ease off of the brake and back on the gas.
Thank you, S.F. Barkley and R&R Book Tours
About the author
S.F. Barkley is a former police officer who uses her law enforcement knowledge and experience along with her love for all things creepy to create short stories and novels. She had several eerie experiences as a cop, including having discovered secret underground tunnels and responding to 911 hang up calls to an abandoned industrial building. She has published short horror stories in various anthologies and is publishing her debut mystery novel, Patch Lane, in October 2019. She was raised in Western Pennsylvania and currently resides in Maryland with her husband and their rescue pup.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/S.F.-Barkley/e/B07NQ6BNDN%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share