The Lake House

The Lake House by Helen Phifer Read Free Book Online

Book: The Lake House by Helen Phifer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Helen Phifer
had moved on. After all, it had nothing to feed on so there wasn’t really any reason for it to be hanging around beneath her house. She went back to the shortbread she had begun to roll earlier.
    Seamus walked back along the corridor and was surprised to see the cellar door was now shut when he knew he had left it wide open. Probably a draught – this was a big house and he’d gone outside. He pulled it open and pressed the button on the torch. Before he could move he heard some strange, tinny music coming from somewhere down in the dark. It reminded him of the old jack-in-the-box his dad had given to him when he was a kid. It had a scary clown that freaked the shit out of him every time he wound the little handle, never knowing when the fucker would pop up and make him scream. In the end, he’d given it back to his dad and told him that it gave him nightmares. His dad had laughed until he’d cried and called him a big girl but Seamus hadn’t cared. He hadn’t wanted it in his bedroom.
    He was much older and wiser now and shrugged to himself. He must have knocked something over on his way out of the cellar. The quicker he got out of here, the quicker he could pocket the cash before his mates turned up. He made his way down the steps and got a whiff of something that smelt of rotting flesh, smoke and lake water.
    Martha was clattering around in the kitchen. The kettle was boiling. She had just slid the tray of shortbread into the oven and slammed the door shut. After she’d poured the milk and set the teapot on the table to brew, she heard the noise and her heart missed a beat. She knew that sound. It was for ever etched into her memory. That jack-in-the-box had been Joe’s favourite toy and he had spent hours turning the handle and playing the music. She felt her legs begin to wobble. Either that man was messing around or something terrible had happened.
    Forcing herself to move, she walked slowly towards the open cellar door. The first thing she noticed was that the smell had gone. He must have cleared the blockage and be rooting around in her belongings. She reached the top step, her fingers brushing against the ancient Cree Indian symbols her father had carved into the back of the cellar door a long time ago to protect them all from the monster that lived down there. He had promised her when they had been done that the thing could not come past them because they were full of ancient Indian power, and she had believed him wholeheartedly. She looked down to the bottom of the steps and saw the circle of light shining into the blackness from the torch, which was now on the floor.
    ‘Are you all finished? I’ve made you a cup of tea and if you’ve got a few minutes to spare there will be some fresh shortbread coming out of the oven to go with it.’
    She was greeted by silence. Then something began to shuffle in the dark and she heard a high-pitched shriek of terror, but it sounded as if it came from somewhere underneath the ground miles away. Terrified, Martha stepped back and slammed the cellar door shut, sliding the bolts across as fast as her shaking hands would let her. She couldn’t do anything to help and she crossed herself, begging God for his forgiveness. Picking up the phone she did the only thing she could think of and rang the police.

Chapter Four
    When Annie got into the station she passed the sergeant’s office and heard Inspector Cathy Hayes muttering on the phone to someone. She carried on to the small changing room and hung her jacket up, zipping herself into her body armour and taking hold of her belt. She walked through into the office and was surprised to see an older man sitting at Jake’s desk. Looking at his collar number she saw it began with a seven, which meant he was a special constable and, judging by the sheen of sweat on his brow and the way he kept tapping his foot, a very new one at that.
    ‘Hi, I’m Annie. Is this your first day?’
    He nodded, then jumped up and held out his

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