Home > Seeing Darkness (Krewe of Hunters #30)

Seeing Darkness (Krewe of Hunters #30)
Author: Heather Graham

Prologue


   In his life, Jon had never heard anything as horrible or heart wrenching as the mother’s cry when she first realized that her child had been taken.

   It happened just off Essex Street, by the Charter Street Cemetery, or Old Burying Point. Just a block or so from the heavy pedestrian traffic near the Peabody Essex Museum and the hordes of tourists who enjoyed the unusual shops and restaurants in the heart of the city of Salem, Massachusetts. Some were coming and going from the wax museum; some were buying the herbs and whatnot that made Witch City so famous.

   The tragic history of the 1692 witch trials, of course, made the city infamous.

   Even at twelve, Jon knew the city’s history, and he also knew there was a decent-size population in the city who were truly Wiccan. He didn’t quite get it; he liked the earth well enough, but he didn’t ascribe it any magical properties. His parents weren’t Wiccan—they were Episcopalians—but they never disparaged the Wiccans.

   Jon’s father had told him, “What a man believes comes from his heart, mind, and soul. And our great country is founded on freedom of religion—something we must thank our founding fathers for having assured us. The Puritans hanged Quakers as well as those they accused of witchcraft, sad affairs indeed. So, unless it causes pain or injury to others, we respect every man’s belief.”

   Having grown up in Salem, Jon and his family tended to avoid the heavily touristed area. There were normal things to do in Salem as well. Even if his Little League team was called the Broomsticks.

   Their coach was a newcomer to the city, with a slightly twisted sense of humor, in Jon’s mind. But he liked his teammates. Jon was the pitcher, and a good one. And that year, as he approached his thirteenth birthday, he was becoming more appreciative of the fact that Amy Larson, a knockout blonde, liked to sit in the stands to cheer him on. They’d gone to their first dance together.

   Jon had mentioned to his father that his coach was an atheist.

   “And that’s his right, too,” his father had said.

   The woman screaming nearby with such fear must be a tourist, Jon thought. He was only in Salem’s historic center because his mom’s cousin had come in from New York with friends, and they were showing them the sights. He was a good tour guide. He knew his city well; it was impossible to grow up in Salem without having its stories drummed into one’s head.

   But they weren’t on his mind now.

   The sound of the woman’s scream erased all else except for compassion for anyone who could cry out in such pain. The sound seemed to rip through his gut. There had been several kidnappings in New England lately—two bodies had been discovered. Jon’s parents had even discussed it with him so he could be on his guard. It was scary.

   This woman probably hadn’t been thinking it could happen to her—she’d have her daughter’s hand the entire time they were in the city. But somehow, in the blink of an eye, someone had spirited her child away.

   Jon understood, innately, there could be no agony greater in life than losing a child.

   At first, he stood there, horrified with the others, as the woman screamed. Someone rushed off and found two police officers who happened to be walking the beat past the cemetery.

   Jon wound up shoved back by the growing crowd, but he was tall for his age, almost five-ten already. He could clearly see the devastated mother, hysterical as she talked to the father. Police tried to calm her and figure out what had happened.

   The family had been in the cemetery, the woman managed to tell them. Tracy was ten, old enough to read the gravestones and take a few steps away. She had been right there—and then she was gone.

   While Jon stood in the back of the crowd, he heard a man say, “Now, one of you must see... Now, if you don’t stop him now, he’ll have her! Get to that van, block the road, don’t let him drive away!”

   He turned to look. There stood a man in traditional Puritan garb, from his black hat to his white socks and navy vest and breeches.

   Jon stared at him. “If you know something, you have to tell the cops.”

   The man looked at him, his eyes widening. “You heard me?”

   “Of course, I heard you. Tell the cops what you know!” Jon said impatiently. “Someone took a little girl—go help!”

   The man shook his head. He strode toward Jon and took his shoulders.

   Jon never knew if it was the feel—or the lack of feeling—when the man seemed to touch him, or the sound of his voice, as raspy as the wind in a nor’easter... Or maybe it was just the chill that swept through his body.

   But he suddenly knew the man facing him was a ghost.

   He was a dead man. A dead man who hadn’t walked the streets of Salem for hundreds of years.

   “You tell the police,” the man urged him. “Tell them you saw a man sweep the girl away and out on the street by the old house—do it now! You saw him dragging her to a white van with an ad for a dog-grooming business, and he’ll get away with her if they don’t act immediately!”

   For a moment, Jon stood frozen.

   The dead man couldn’t shake him; his touch was like a breeze. But then it seemed that he did.

   Jon burst into action. He forced his way through the crowd and over to a police officer.

   At first it appeared that the cop didn’t want to hear him or believe him. But another policeman said, “Sweet Jesus, Matt, let’s get to that van. We got nothing else!”

   “Aw, come on, the kid didn’t see anything. No one saw anything. The little girl just ran away, she’s hiding somewhere, she’s—”

   Jon didn’t wait for more. He leaped the wall of the cemetery and ran across the graveyard to the house and street behind. And there was the van, just as the ghost said. Jon catapulted himself toward the van when he realized the driver was just about to take off.

   He caught hold of the rear door handle, wrenching hard just as the driver tried to veer into the street. His feet flew off the ground. He wouldn’t let go, even though he felt a surge of terror.

   By then, the cops had caught up. One of them jumped in front of the van. The driver didn’t slow down and seemed as though he was about to bulldoze over them, but then a shot rang in the air.

   Jon wrenched the door open. A little girl was lying on the floor of the van, unconscious.

   Next to another girl. One who...

   He closed his eyes; he’d never seen anything so horrible. She was decomposing. She looked like something that might have been a prop at a Halloween haunted house.

   Except that she was real.

   Jon fell away from the van. He wasn’t needed anymore. Cops were swarming the van. More sirens rang out nearby; someone was calling an ambulance.

   His own family surrounded him. “Oh my God, Jon!” his mother exclaimed. She wrapped him in a hug as though he were still a toddler.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» Archangel's War
» ENEMIES
» Sweet Temptation
» Angry God (All Saints High #3)
» Fake It 'Til You Break It
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Devious Lies (Cruel Crown #1)
» Credence
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Bringing Down the Duke
» Twisted Kingdom (Royal Elite #3)
» Golden in Death (In Death #50)