As you’ve become aware, Crazy Ink never has a shortage of books to release. Today is no exception. You’ve been introduced to one of the authors before at least twice. We celebrate the continuation of the Dead Oaks series with Night Stalker.
Title: Night Stalker
Series: Dead Oak Terrors #3
Authors: Rena Marin, Skylar McKinzie
Buy link: http://mybook.to/NightStalkerCI
Tiffany Reynolds has heard enough about the creepy scarecrow her brother and his friends made to enter in the local craft fair. The more she sees it, the stranger it seems. Sometimes it’s in different places, like it moves on its own. Its eyes seem to follow her around the room. Its face is becoming more terrifying. Something isn’t right with her brother’s new obsession but with her friends being stalked by something sinister lurking in the shadows, Tiffany has other things to worry about. Who is the night stalker of Dead Oaks and who will be the next to meet their end?
“Alright, kids, let’s get settled down,” Miranda Phillips called out to the group of children who’d gathered in the reading room of the library. “I know we’re all excited, but we can’t share stories if everyone is talking instead of listening.”
In the back corner of the room, Chelsea Bishop rolled her eyes. She loved the fact that Miranda, the driving force behind Dead Oaks Memorial Library, cared about the kids having a summer reading program, but it was clear she didn’t know how to handle children in large numbers. Miranda was only a few years older than Chelsea herself, but had taken on the attributes most people associated with a spinster librarian. The long skirts in the summer. The tight bun at the back of her head. The glasses that sat on the edge of her nose. All of it came together to give the appearance of an older lady in the body of a thirty-year-old. Chelsea loved it.
“We have a real treat for you. As you remember, I promised a bit of storytelling today. We won’t be reading straight from books like we have throughout the summer. The vote we took last week told me you guys are interested in a few creepy tales from the years gone by here in Dead Oaks, is that right?”
Chelsea watched as the kids applauded and cheered. With the history of Dead Oaks being as dark as it was, she knew finding spooky tales for the youngsters would be easy. She had a few she could share herself if need be.
“Excellent,” Miranda clapped then raised her hands to hush the group, “Our first story will be about a man who lived on the outskirts of Dead Oaks. You guys know where I’m talking about. On the east side of town, past the cemetery, where the old farm sits?”
The group answered in unison with a resounding yes.
“You see, that’s where the farmer Joe Hawkes lived with his daughter Claire. It was many, many years ago, but Joe used to be the best farmer in town. When all the other farms failed, his kept thriving. He raised corn, tomatoes, beans, squash, you name it. He cared about Dead Oaks though, and only sold his crops locally to make sure the people in town had fresh produce. He hired local teens to help him out since it was just him and his daughter. Every summer, high schoolers would find their way to the farm in hopes of making spending money to have fun.”
Scanning the group assembled on the giant rug in the center of the reading room, Chelsea was shocked to see that Miranda had the attention of each one. She may not have a way with kids, but the girl could sure weave a good tale.
“One summer, when Claire turned sixteen,” Miranda continued, “she took a liking to one of the boys working on the farm. This was strange, you see, since Claire was shy and didn’t talk to people much. A lot of kids teased her about living on the farm. They made fun of her clothes, which she made herself, and even teased her about being so tall and skinny. The nickname Beanpole had been given to her years before. Claire was growing up though and being like the other teenagers was all she wanted, so she found the courage to start talking to the others who worked on the farm.”
“Were they mean to her?”
Hearing the question ring out, Miranda paused and smiled. “Some were, some weren’t. You’ve all heard the saying that kids can be mean. It’s so true. Claire found that out the hard way. You see, the boy she liked finally asked her out on a date. She was so excited. She made herself a brand-new dress, spent some of the money she’d made working on new shoes and make-up. It was her first date and she wanted it to be perfect. Farmer Joe wasn’t happy about his daughter dating, but even he knew he couldn’t hold on to her forever, so when the boy came to pick Claire up, he allowed her to go.
“That night, Claire and her date went to the old drive-in movie. That place has been torn down for ages so you kids wouldn’t know anything about that, but it’s where teenagers back then went to see movies, and they had to sit in the car to do it.”
“No way, that’s crazy. What if it was raining? You’d miss the good stuff.”
“How did they hear it?”
Laughing, Miranda shook her head. “If it was raining, it wasn’t a great night. To hear the movie, you used these speakers that were set up all around the drive-in. You could hang them in your car window so the sound would play inside the vehicle.”
“I’m glad we don’t have to do that anymore.”
“I agree,” Miranda told them as she continued with the story. “At the movie, the boy wasn’t a perfect gentleman. He kept trying to steal kisses and grab at Claire in ways she didn’t like. By the time the movie ended, he was angry, and she was ready to go home. Before they left, he told her to wait in the car and went to talk with some of his other friends from school. Claire just wanted to go home, so she did as he asked and waited patiently. When he came back, he told her they were going to stop by to hang out with some of the others before going back to the farm. She didn’t like it but had no real choice but to agree.”
“Why didn’t she use her cell phone to call her dad?”
“They didn’t have cell phones back then, so she had no choice but to go.”
“That’s not right,” a small voice chimed in.
“No, it wasn’t,” Miranda agreed. “The boy turned off an old road Claire didn’t recognize. It went up a hill, then opened to a flat area where several cars were parked. Back then, the teens called it lovers’ lane. Today, you would know it as the clearing,” she explained, hearing several say they’d heard people mention it. “People used to go there to steal a few kisses from their boyfriend or girlfriend; for Claire, that wasn’t what happened. You see, the boy had told his friends about Claire not liking their date. They decided to take her up on lovers’ lane and be mean to her for revenge.”
“What did they do?”
“They teased her, called her names, made her cry. One of the girls up there wrote bad words on her new dress in lipstick. She was pushed around, knocked down, picked on terribly bad. To save herself from the ridicule, she took off running.”
“That’s so sad,” a little girl from the front row sighed.
“Yes, it was,” Miranda agreed. “Luckily for Claire, an older couple came driving by. They stopped and picked her up then drove her home. Of course, her father was furious. Farmer Joe never imagined the teens he let on his farm would do something so mean to his only daughter. Claire was his life. They’d lost her mother years before when she got sick and he was determined to never let anything happen to his daughter. That anger, mixed with the bad things people say are here in Dead Oaks, sent Farmer Joe over the edge. He marched out to his barn, grabbed the scythe from its place on the wall, then got in his truck and took the long drive to lovers’ lane. What happened next was reported in the local paper as the Lovers’ Lane Massacre. You see Farmer Joe got his revenge on the kids that were left on the hill that night. He did horrible things to them for mistreating his little girl, but that’s not where the story ends.”
“What happened next?” Little Dylan Reynolds asked, completely enthralled by the spooky tale.
“At school the next day, the kids talked. A few that had helped tease Claire were gone by the time Farmer Joe came. They told the others what they did, and even told them they suspected Farmer Joe. Instead of going to the police, they decided to take matters into their own hands. That night, they got together, then made their way to the old farm. It was late, so Claire was in bed. Farmer Joe was on the porch waiting for them. He knew they’d come to get even for the friends they lost. No one really knows what they did to Farmer Joe. He suffered several injuries that night, but when Claire woke up the next morning, she couldn’t find her dad inside the house. His bed hadn’t been slept in; the coffee wasn’t brewing. She knew something wasn’t right. She went outside, calling his name. That’s when she saw it. Her father, the man who’d raised her, defended her, and had now died for her, was hanging in the cornfield, impaled on a rhubarb pole in place of the old scarecrow that had been there the day before.”
Chelsea had to turn her head at the shocked gasps that ran through the crowd of kids. Miranda had done an excellent job at giving them enough of the story to spook them, but not the gruesome parts that would’ve sent them rushing out of the library screaming. After the group finally settled down, one real question remained.
“What happened to Claire?”
“Oh, poor Claire tried her best to keep her daddy’s farm going. No one would work there after what happened though. Stories of the place being haunted by Farmer Joe started to circulate. Each summer they brought in less crops, until finally, she couldn’t do it anymore. She still owns the house and the lands, but no one has seen her in years. As far as anyone knows, she is still out there. No one is brave enough to bother her though. Farmer Joe is still out there too, you see, doing what he promised his daughter he would always do: protect her,” Miranda finished to an echoing cheer from the kids gathered around.
Once the library cleared out, Chelsea made her way over to where Miranda was busy clearing off the refreshments table. “You did a great job with that story.”
“Thanks. I didn’t want to add in all the details. The last thing I wanted was parents calling me to yell about their kids not sleeping at night.”
“Good point. It’s been ages since I’ve heard anyone talk about Farmer Joe and the massacre. How long has it been?”
“Goodness, thirty years or more, at least.”
“Just another gruesome tale in the history of this town I guess,” Chelsea smiled as she started helping Miranda.
“You’ve been part of a lot of Dead Oaks’ new stories lately, Chels. The things that have been going on around here are enough to make me consider leaving this town. Why are you still here?”
Chelsea shrugged her shoulder. “I’ve wondered the same thing. I have the shop and, of course, my friends.”
“And you figure the people of Dead Oaks need help, huh?”
“I guess that’s part of it. I hope one day to figure out why this place is so insane.”
“That part isn’t hard, Chels. It’s cursed. I don’t know by who or what, but it is. Just be careful. I know you stick your nose in everything. Don’t let this place get you too.”
Fighting the chill Miranda’s words gave her, Chelsea smiled. During all the things she’d been through in Dead Oaks, her own safety always seemed to take the back seat to helping the kids stay safe. Luckily, other than the freaky incident with the snakes, things had been quiet over the summer. She hoped they stayed that way.
About the Author
Rena Marin was born in a small town in East Tennessee where she, her husband Daniel, and two children–Cody and Amber–still reside today.
Growing up, reading and writing her own stories was Rena’s favorite pastime. Her once-unreachable dream of becoming a published writer came true when she was in high school and found herself with many writing awards and accolades, including a short story in Reader’s Digest.
After starting her own business, Rena continued writing shorts online before moving on to freelance work. Taking a chance, she and a friend submitted a novel to their first publishing company and were delighted to be accepted.
As a member of Crazy Ink Publishing, Rena now has several co-written series underway, including the Dead Oak Terrors Series. Halloween Nightmare, the first book in that series, recently won the Reality Bites Best Horror Book of 2018. Rena also has her own solo series called The Witches of Dark Hollow Ridge. She looks forward to bringing readers with her into a world of magic and adventure.
Keeping close to her short story roots, Rena is part of several anthologies with many more in the works.
A lover of all forms of entertainment, Rena enjoys horror and fantasy movies new and old. When she isn’t writing or working, she often finds herself cuddled on the couch with her family–including their five fur babies–and lost in a fantasy world or hoping to be scared.