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Women Who Stay, 20

The Farm

By Suze KayPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
8

Chapter 1 ... Chapter 19

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Mark met me on the driveway, a grand, circular affair dotted with flowerbeds and weeping willows.

"It's straight out of a fairytale," I gushed as we shook hands in the sunshine.

"Or a nightmare, depending on who you ask," he warned with an odd cheer. "You know, I've had mediums come to check the place out."

"Yes, I've seen clips online," I said, recalling a stagy TV host's melodramatic whispering about 'bad vibes.'

"You strike me as a sensitive woman. No, no not like that," he pattered, seeing my glance. "Like you'll pick up on what they felt, too."

"I'm not one to believe in spooks," I laughed.

"Only one way to find out! Which first, grounds or manor?"

We started with the stables, in which seven snorting horses resided.

"I rent the space to a local woman," he explained. "Converted some of the acreage to trail and paddocks for her, too. She teaches the young'uns to ride on weekends, and I get a nice tax break for my trouble. Everyone's happy."

"That must have made Janie happy, too. I know she kept a horse here."

He chuckled. "Actually, quite the touchy subject for her. Her horse came with the house, you see. One of those 'as-is' deals. First thing I sold, to that same woman. Her name always put Janie in a sour mood. Ah, and here you'll see the fire pit. In the same spot as the original one, you know."

We were deep in the backyard behind the Tudor mansion, standing near an imposing pile of masonry surrounded by a ring of stone benches. There was a tall pile of logs in the center waiting to be burned, which only slightly interrupted the eerie impression I received of a gaping maw.

"A little... on the nose, don't you think?"

He shrugged, a sheepish grin crossing his face. "Couldn't resist. Love a good fire myself, I do, and I find it's easier to live with the house's... history if I keep it top of mind. Freaks me out less, to take the old horrors and make them better."

"So you know a lot about the history, huh? You don't mind talking about it?"

He grew serious and sat on one of the benches, gesturing for me to join him. "More than almost anyone alive. More than even Janie did, I expect. Ask me anything, Miranda, really. It's an important story to tell. What Antonio did was only so horrible because no one wanted to talk about it."

"What do you mean by that?"

"He hunted gay men in gay bars at the height of the AIDS crisis. Even gay men were sick of hearing horror stories about how we were all at risk at every turn. And those in charge, the police, preferred to sit on their thumbs, as it were, rather than properly investigate. If he'd been taking pretty young white girls, he'd've never made it out of the single digits. He'd never have managed to get 26 of them here."

"I'm sorry, did you say 26? Here?" I did a quick tally in my head. Even including the Hitchhike Hangman killings, I had only heard of 21 confirmed dead.

"What's the number you've got, 13? Nah, sadly, outdated. I keep finding... bits, you know. Every time I do a project out back or clear an acre, I find another suspicious pile and have to call the forensics team in. We've gotten quite friendly over the years, we have."

Numbly, I looked over my shoulder into the dense tangle of woods that hemmed in the lawn. I shivered.

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Read on to Chapter 21

True CrimeFictionCONTENT WARNING
8

About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

Or, let me catch you at www.suzekay.com

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Comments (3)

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  • Belle14 days ago

    Incredible!

  • John Cox29 days ago

    Struck the motherload!

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    It's a real land of horrors. I like Mark though. He's a jolly chap!

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