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Authors: Brian Freeman

The Bone House

BOOK: The Bone House
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The
Bone House
Brian
Freeman

    

 

    

Copyright © 2010 Brian Freeman

    

The right of Brian Freeman to be identified
as the Author of

the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with

the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

    

First published in Great Britain in
2010

by HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

    

Apart from any use permitted under UK
copyright law, this

publication may only be reproduced, stored, or
transmitted, in

any form, or by any
means, with prior permission in writing of

the publishers or, in
the case of reprographic production, in

accordance with the
terms of licences issued by the

Copyright Licensing
Agency.

    

All characters in this publication are
fictitious

and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,

is purely
coincidental.

    

Cataloguing in Publication Data is

available from the British Library

 

ISBN 978 0 7553 4878 7 (Hardback)

ISBN 978 0 7553 4879 4 (Trade paperback)

    

Typeset in Sabon by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Falkirk,
Stirlingshire

    

Printed and bound in Great Britain by

Clays Ltd, St Ives plc

    

Headline's policy is to use papers
that are natural, renewable and

recyclable products and made from wood grown in
sustainable

forests. The logging
and manufacturing processes are expected

to conform to the
environmental regulations of the country of origin.

For Marcia

and in memory of

Gail Foster

'I'll be judge, I'll be jury,'

said cunning old Fury:

'I'll try the whole
cause,

and condemn you to
death.'

Lewis Carroll

    

Table
of Contents

Prologue
. 5

PART ONE
.. 9

Chapter One
. 9

Chapter Two
. 13

Chapter Three
. 16

Chapter Four
19

Chapter Five
. 23

Chapter Six
. 27

Chapter Seven
. 30

Chapter Eight
34

Chapter Nine
. 38

Chapter Ten
. 41

Chapter Eleven
. 44

Chapter Twelve
. 47

Chapter Thirteen
. 51

PART TWO
.. 55

Chapter Fourteen
. 55

Chapter Fifteen
. 59

Chapter Sixteen
. 62

Chapter Seventeen
. 66

Chapter Eighteen
. 71

Chapter Nineteen
. 75

Chapter Twenty
. 78

Chapter Twenty-One
. 83

Chapter Twenty-Two
. 85

Chapter Twenty-Three
. 89

Chapter Twenty-Four
91

Chapter Twenty-Five
. 94

Chapter Twenty-Six
. 98

Chapter Twenty-Seven
. 101

Chapter Twenty-Eight
105

Chapter Twenty-Nine
. 108

PART THREE
.. 114

Chapter Thirty
. 114

Chapter Thirty-One
. 116

Chapter Thirty-Two
. 120

Chapter Thirty-Three
. 123

Chapter Thirty-Four
128

Chapter Thirty-Five
. 130

Chapter Thirty-Six
. 133

Chapter Thirty-Seven
. 135

Chapter Thirty-Eight
138

Chapter Thirty-Nine
. 140

Chapter Forty
. 144

PART FOUR
.. 148

Chapter Forty-One
. 148

Chapter Forty-Two
. 151

Chapter Forty-Three
. 155

Chapter Forty-Four
157

Chapter Forty-Five
. 159

Chapter Forty-Six
. 162

Chapter Forty-Seven
. 165

Chapter Forty-Eight
169

Chapter Forty-Nine
. 171

Chapter Fifty
. 175

Chapter Fifty-One
. 180

Chapter Fifty-Two
. 182

Chapter Fifty-Three
. 184

Chapter Fifty-Four
186

Chapter Fifty-Five
. 189

JOIN BRIAN'S COMMUNITY
.. 193

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
. 193

 

 

    

Prologue

    

Six Years Ago

    

    Glory
Fischer lay atop a mattress on the floor with her brown eyes wide open,
smearing the mosquitoes that landed on her face and listening to the moths beat
their wings madly against the screen. Her skin was filmy with sweat. Her
nightgown clung to her scrawny legs in the dampness. She waited, chewing her
fingernails, until the house was dead still. At one in the morning, she finally
decided it was safe to sneak away, the way she had done for the past five
nights.

    No
one would hear her leave. No one would hear her come back.

    Her
mother slept alone in a bedroom across the hall, with an electric fan grinding
beside her pillow that drowned out her snores. Her sister Tresa, and Tresa's
best friend Jen, were finally sleeping, too. The two girls had stayed up late,
acting out stories from a vampire fanzine in loud voices. It was a Tuesday in
mid-July, and bedtimes and school nights were a long way away. Usually, Glory
didn't like Jen sleeping over because the ruckus of the girls on the other side
of the wall kept her awake. Tonight she didn't care because she needed to stay
awake anyway.

    Jen
lived in the house across the road, but Glory didn't think that her sister's
friend knew what was hidden in the loft of their garage. Nobody did. Not Jen's
mother Nettie, who was in a wheelchair now and rarely left the house. Not her
father Harris, who was on the road most days, traveling around Wisconsin for
his job. Not Jen's two older brothers either. Especially not them. If they'd
known, they would have done something cruel, because that was who they were.
Cruel boys.

    Glory
sat up cross-legged, with her pink nightgown bunching above her knees. The hot
wind gusted under the curtain and made the room smell of cherries, which were
squashed all over the county roads like dots of red paint at this time of year.
Leaning over, Glory slid open the bottom drawer of her dresser and dug beneath
her underwear for the stash she had deposited there after dinner: a warm,
unopened carton of milk and a paper bag stuffed with crumbled potato chips,
sunflower seeds, mushed banana, and hard-boiled egg.

    The
ten-year-old girl stood up and stuffed her bare feet into sneakers. It was time
to go. She bent back the broken screen from her window until she could fit one
leg outside the house, then the other. She held the paper bag between her teeth
and squeezed the milk carton under her arm. She jumped awkwardly, landing in
the dirt five feet below. Her mouth opened with a loud
oof
, and the bag
fell and spilled. She picked it up and checked inside. There was still plenty
of food.

    Glory
bit her lip and peered at the messy weeds in the yard and the nearby woods. The
world felt big, and she felt small. The moonless sky glistened with stars. The
pines swayed like giants and whispered to each other. Swallowing down her fear,
she sprinted through the tall grass. She figured if she went fast enough, the
ticks and the box elder bugs clinging to the green shoots wouldn't land on her.
Her arms pumped, and her long hair flew behind her. She reached the dirt road,
which was rippled with tractor ruts, and she stopped, breathing hard in the
stifling air.

    The
rural lane looked lonely. There were no cars and no street lights, just a
crooked row of telephone poles beside her, holding the bowed wires like jump
ropes. The two-story house loomed across the way, sheltered by oak trees down a
long driveway. Glory ran again but slowed to a nervous walk when she got close.
The chipped paint and hanging shutters gave her a creepy feeling, and when the
wind blew, the house sighed. She'd asked her mother once if the Bone house was
haunted. Her mother had gotten a strange look on her face and said there were
no such things as ghosts or monsters, just unhappy people.

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