Authors: Tamara Thorne
Tamara Thorne has become one of those must-read horror writers
Moonfall, the picturesque community nestled in the mountains of Southern California, is a quaint hamlet of antique stores and craft shops run by the dedicated nuns of St. Gertrude’s Home for girls. As
fills the air, the townspeople prepare for the festive Halloween Haunt, Moonfall’s most popular tourist attraction. Even a series of unsolved deaths over the years hasn’t dimmed Moonfall’s renown. Maybe because anyone who knew anything about them has disappeared.
Now, Sara Hawthorne returns to her hometown…and enters the hallowed halls of St. Gertrude’s where, twelve years before, another woman died a horrible death. In Sara’s old room, distant voices echo in the dark and the tormented cries of children shatter the moon—kissed night.
But that’s just the beginning. For Sara Hawthorne is about to uncover St. Gertrude’s hellish secret…a secret she’ll carry with her to the grave…
Copyright © 1996
All Rights Reserved
First e-book edition September 2012
No part of this ebook may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the author, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This one’s for Douglas Clegg and Raul Silva
Still crazy about you after all these years
Table of Contents
Beano Franklin poked John Lawson in the ribs. ''Come on,
pull my finger!"
"Cut it out," John muttered, his gaze never wavering from
the dark apple orchard that lay beyond the orange and yellow
lights strung around the picnic area of Parker's Cider Mill.
Beano had been after him for five minutes now, even though
John's parents were standing right behind them, along with just
about everybody else in town and God knew how many tourists.
"Come on, Lawson!"
He sounded pretty desperate and John smiled to himself,
thinking that his friend must be about ready to burst. If it had
been anyone but Mom and Dad and Grandpa Gus in Beano's
direct line of fire, he might've been tempted to comply. ''Ask
ured, ignoring the digit wagging under his
''He took off with Paul and Doug, remember, Bonehead?
To get our supplies for later?"
''Oh, yeah." John h
ad managed to put their plans out of his
head for the last couple hours, but Beano's words made his
stomach squiggle with fear and excitement about what would
come later tonight.
Standing on John's left was Greg, his ten-year-old brother.
Dressed true to his character as a little red devil complete with
pitchfork, he was tugging on John's sleeve. He turned. "What,
"What're you doing later?" he demanded loudly. "I wanna
do it, too! And don't call me Squirt!"
Behind them, John felt his mother lean closer, listening, so
instead of strangling Greg, he smiled at him. "We're camping
out at Winky's, Squirt. Only high school freshmen. Sorry."
The boy's freckled face slipped into a frown, and just as he
opened his mouth to complain, Beano saved the day, sticking
his finger in Greg's face. "Quick! Pull it!"
The frown instantly inverted and Greg yanked for all he was
worth. Nothing happened. Greg opened his mouth to protest
"Silent but deadly," Beano reassured him.
An instant later, Mom said, "Oh, dear," Dad cleared his
throat, and they, along with everyone else in the immediate
vicinity, edged away. "Christ," John sputtered, trying not to
inhale any more stink molecules than he had to, ''what crawled
up your ass and died?"
''Two chili dogs with double sauerkraut, dill pickles, and
jalapenos. Look! Here comes Caspar!"
Old Caspar Parker, the man behind Moonfall's annual Halloween
Haunt, stepped out in front of the crowd, dressed in
denim overalls, a blue and white checked shirt, and a yellow
Parker's Cider Mill baseball cap, all liberally spattered with
fake blood. His wrinkled face was expertly made up in corpse
colors-grayish-white with blue mottling around his eyes and
cheeks and a trail of blood drizzling from one comer of his
blue-black lips. The bloody gash painted on his neck was even
wider than the grin on his face.
"Have you folks had a good time tonight?" he called in his
booming voice. The cheers and applause threatened to rip his
widening grin in two. "Anybody sighted any gargoyles in the
sky?" Hoots and whistles and more cheers answered him, and
John felt Greg move closer to him; the squirt still believed the
gargoyles decorating St Gertrude's School for Girls could fly
and might get him some dark night. John hadn't been intrigued
by the gargoyle stories for a long time, but Greg was a sort of
nervous kid. He turned his attention back to Caspar and his
Every Halloween, Parker's Mill hosted a cos
pumpkin-carving contest, apple-bobbing, a dance, and a hayride,
but the best part was the Haunted Bam, which Caspar
enlarged and changed every year. This time, he'd outdone him
with the addition of a hologram ghost swaying from a
noose in the rafters.
At the ripe old age of fourteen, John knew Caspar's haunted
bam was a little lame, a trifle hokey, but he didn't care. His
buddies-Beano Franklin, Winky Addams, Doug Buckman,
and Paul Pricket-all
liked to make fun of it, and John went
right along with them, knowing full well that they secretly
loved it as much as he did. Even John's dad, who was also the
sheriff of Moonfall, admitted that Caspar's not-too-friendly
ghosts could sometimes get a rise out of him.
''Quiet, please!" Caspar called out, setting the stage for the
night's final event. He cupped his hand around his ear. ''I
believe I hear hoofbeats."
The hushed crowd looked to the orchard as the faint sound
of a horse's hooves came from the loudspeakers, distant at
first, then louder and louder, closer and closer, until the sound
stampeded around them. A spotlight went on deep in the orchard
just as a savage whinny ripped the air. Deep maniacal laughter
followed. All around John, people caught their breath. Greg
grabbed his hand and held tight.
There was shadowy movement in the orchard and John Lawson
shivered in anticipation. An instant later, the Headless
Horseman, on his midnight stallion, galloped out of the apple
grove, an ominous black silhouette brandishing a fiery-eyed
Steam blew from the animal's nostrils as it
halted before the crowd and reared up on its hind legs.
The horse came down and the Horseman, his cape blowing
in the wind, his white shirt covered with blood from neck s
to waist, held the pumpkin
head higher. ''It's All Hallows' Eve
and the night belongs to the spirits now! Go to your homes
and lock your doors, or you"
he pointed at a man at the far
edge of the crowd
"or perhaps you"
he pointed at a little
girl ten feet away
he pointed at John, or maybe
"will be doomed to die and join us in our ghostly
revelries forever!" Lunatic laughter rippled through the air;
then the Horseman spurred the
tallion. John watched horse
and rider until they melded with the night.
"Wow!" Greg let go of John's hand, fearless once more."He pointed at
Isn't that great?"
John ruffled his brother'
hair. "Great, Squirt!"
"Don't call me that!"
Beano nudged John. "Here come the guys. Let's go!"
"Mom? Dad?" John turned to his parents. "We're going to
Winky's now, okay?" H
hoped he didn't sound as nervous as
''Are you boys
till planning to sleep outside?" his mother
asked. ''It's awfully cold."
"No, ma'am," Winky said, as he and the others joined the
group. "My dad said we can camp out in the family room."
The other boys groaned; then Winky added, "He says we can
watch the all-ni
ht horror movie marathon. The Black Widow's
"The Black Widow!" Doug Buckman breathed. "Boy, I'd
like to get my hands on those
Beano elbowed him into silence.
Mom turned to John. ''Did you remember your toothbrush,
Oh, God, I'll never live this down.
"Yeah, I remembered."
''Be polite to Mr. and Mrs. Addams, John." With that, she
kissed his cheek and he wanted to sink right into the ground
as the guys snickered behind him.
"Ben," Dad drawled He looked big and imposin
"Yes, Sheriff Lawson?" Beano asked, his plump cheeks
"Your brother and his friends used to stir things up on
"Huh?" Beano was all innocence. "Brian's in colle
east. And his friends, well, Raul's in college, too, and Martin's
in Vietnam, and Cal, he's in Canada-"
''The thing is," Dad said, moonlight glinting off his badge,
aren't here to t.p. Jeremiah Moonfall's statue this
"How'd you know
" Beano blurted.
Dad smiled tightly. "I'm the sheriff, that's how. I also know
that these things sometimes become traditions, kind of like the
Halloween Haunt. The point is," he continued, lookin
boy to boy, "this is
become one of
He gave them a genuine smile. "So, boys, if you see anyone
hanging around the town square on your way to the Addams
place, make sure and let me know."
"Sure," Beano said, and the others echoed assent