Home > Descend to Darkness (Krewe of Hunters #38.5)

Descend to Darkness (Krewe of Hunters #38.5)
Author: Heather Graham


The night before Halloween



Oddly, it was the silence that Angela Hawkins first noted as she slowly came to—having absolutely no idea where she was.

And worse.

She had no clue how she had gotten there.

There was always sound as she woke. The covers whispering if Jackson had risen before her. One of the kids shrieking or laughing from their room. A bird trilling from a tree, or even the rustling of the branches outside their window.

But this...

It was so silent, the lack of noise seemed louder than the most horrific scream.

When she opened her eyes, she saw what she expected...

Nothing. Nothing because of the complete and total darkness.

She lay still for a few seconds. Then she reached out. There was nothing beside her, nothing above her. And below her... stone. Icy-cold stone.

She fought the sense of panic rising within her. She had to think back. She needed to remember where she had been, what had been happening.

And how in God’s name she had come to be wherever she was.



Chapter 1

Three days before Halloween



The sun was already lowering, the dying shades of gold and mauve in the sky touching the Gordon Town Cemetery as if with great reverence, creating soft crimson blushes on tombstones and aging mausoleums. The breeze in the air warned that winter was coming and held just a touch of chill. In minutes, the sun would drop farther, and eerie shades of gray and shadow would creep over the place, enhancing all that was ancient and decaying. While still in use, the cemetery was indeed old—and, naturally, deemed haunted.

And while it might well be, Angela Hawkins Crow knew it was the living who were deadly.

It was the week of Halloween.

Once upon a time, it had been one of Angela’s favorite times of the year. Dress-up was fun. And with kids, trick-or-treating was great—even haunted houses could be entertaining.

And all that could still be true.

But, sadly, something about the holiday seemed to draw out the scaries—and not the fun kind. The lethal ones.

Such as here.

The cemetery wasn’t highly visited, though it was on the national register. Visitors to the DC and Virginia areas generally came to visit Arlington and pay their respects to those who had fought for the country. They even went to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, where many from the Civil War had been laid to rest.

Gordon Town Cemetery was comparatively small, and many stones and markers had been lost through the years. Old mausoleums decayed as the growth of tree roots, and the simple fact that nature had taken over, chipped and broke the stones.

But as the sun fell, the cemetery was one of the most atmospheric to be found. Its lichen and ivy-covered stones, moss-covered oaks, and beautiful statuary were enchanting. Here, stone angels knelt in prayer, cherubs wept over children’s graves, and intricately carved crosses rose here and there. Personal adornments marked other sites, such as the carved dogs who gave comparatively new reverence to a woman who had spent her life saving rescue animals. There were no old and new sections. Families in the area owned small mausoleums or tombs or spaces in family plots.

While it wasn’t as popular a destination as many other graveyards or cemeteries, it did become well visited during the holidays—especially Halloween.

At Thanksgiving, the living descendants of those buried at Gordon Town decorated with fall leaves, plush turkeys, and other such traditional items. At Easter, they used baskets of colored eggs and bunny rabbits. At Christmas, the place was beautiful. Those who remembered the dead brought all manner of ornaments and even Nativity scenes. Flowers showed up now and then, but in an article written about the cemetery that mentioned Benjamin Robertson, a descendant of the Revolutionary hero Ethan Robertson, it said the decorating done by many of those with loved ones or antecedents was because they preferred the concept of sharing holidays to the tradition of bringing flowers. Benjamin Robertson had recently lost his father, now interred in the family crypt, and his dad had loved everything spooky at Halloween. So...

People decorated the graveyard for the October holiday. No matter how bizarre it might seem, dangling skeletons and witches on broomsticks were scattered here and there throughout the burial ground.

Gordon Town was an active cemetery.

And so it was that the freshly dug land in the center of a society plot or an extra body in a mausoleum might go unnoticed. But a young woman had come to pay homage to her father that afternoon, bringing a Frankenstein’s monster doll and a stuffed ghost to set upon his grave, only to see a dark figure brandishing a knife—one she could have sworn was covered with blood. The local police had thought her hysterical or a victim of a Halloween prank since the cemetery had been done up to the nines for the holiday. But Cassandra Valois, one of the managers at the cemetery office, had heard about the so-called prank. And since her father was one of Adam Harrison’s closest friends, she’d called the Krewe’s assistant director. Adam had called Jackson, and...

Here they were. They weren’t alone in the cemetery as darkness fell. Colleen Law, with fellow special agent and spouse, Mark Gallagher, had also arrived, along with Special Agents Kat and Will Chan.

The cemetery was laid out in a triangular shape that cut into the Virginia woods, and they had agreed to start separately at the three angles and meet in the middle.

The place was something of a stone jungle from the get-go. Family and society crypts or mausoleums were mixed with single, aboveground tombs, stone headstones, and flat markers. The growth of trees and brush between all provided ample opportunity for shadows and mysteries—along with the many Halloween decorations now haunting the place.

Angela glanced over at Jackson. He hunched, studying the dirt of a family plot. While there was still light in the sky, Angela looked across the distance. An especially fine family mausoleum stood before them, probably right where they would meet up.

She started walking toward it, noting the name Robertson carved deeply into the stone over the archway that rose above the metal double doors.

Things hung on either side of the massive entrance. She walked forward to get a better view of the place, shaking her head.

The decorations were ghouls: skeletons with folded hands clad in long, brown robes with hoods and attached to hooks on the mausoleum walls—probably intended to hold flowers.

“My God!”

Angela jumped. She hadn’t realized that Jackson had come to stand behind her.

“Okay, we both talk to ghosts,” he reminded her, smiling.

“Right. And I haven’t seen any here.”

“Probably too bizarre for the dead,” Jackson suggested.

“Possibly. I mean... I think decorating for holidays to remember those we have lost and who are still family is great. Still...”

“Halloween,” Jackson said. “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”

“I was in Savannah once, and we went to see Bonaventure. It’s a truly beautiful cemetery. It was Christmas, and many of the stones and tombs had been decorated with ornaments, stars—pretty things,” Angela said.

“I think the decorating thing is okay. Kind of like the Day of the Dead, but...”

“Halloween is a favorite holiday for lots of people, and it’s the spooky fun that makes it so,” Angela murmured. “Some of this, though.”

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