Dead Oaks Terrors Book 1
by Rena Marin & Skylar McKinzie
Welcome to Dead Oaks.
The New Home of Fear!
Something strange is happening in the sleepy, little, town of Dead Oaks, N.C. Tales of disappearances, strange deaths, murder, and mayhem have been passed down through the town’s history and are now used as scary tales to keep local children behind locked doors at night. Still, it all continues. Whatever sinister force that has its claws into Dead Oaks is still there, and it wants nothing more than to claim the town as its own.
Six Years Ago
Hikers, campers, and even locals had been disappearing around Dead Oaks Lake. Some claimed the ghost of a local man who went missing years before was the reason. During a neighborly camping get together, Tiffany Sellers vanished in the middle of the night. Mia Evans was the only witness. What she saw that night sent her family far from Dead Oaks in hopes of escaping the evil surrounding the town.
Mia, and her twin sister Tia have come back to their family’s cabin by the lake. Their hopes? To finally put the past behind them and reconnect with old friends for a Halloween bash to remember. As an unexpected snow storm strands the twins and their friends, they find themselves fighting to survive not only the storm but whatever is haunting the lake. Soon they realize, in Dead Oaks, sometimes the past should just stay buried.
Watching the dancing flames of the campfire, Caleb Rollins found himself filled
with anticipation. This was the first night since the annual Rollins-Evans
camping tradition had started that his younger brother, Austin, and the Evans
twins, Mia and Tia, were being allowed to stay up and listen to ghost stories. For
years, his father had told stories to him and the twins’ parents. On more than one
occasion, he had found himself too scared to sleep. He hoped tonight he would
do the tradition honor.
Taking a seat by his girlfriend, Tiffany Sellers, he waited for everyone to
gather around. His brother was trying his best not to show any fear. The girls
were not trying nearly as hard. They were huddled close together, holding hands
near their mother. Considering the three of them were only thirteen years old, he
could understand why. He popped a marshmallow on his stick and waited for his
father to give him the signal to start. When he saw the wink, he leaned forward
“I know you three haven’t been able to sit around and share stories with us
here by the lake. There’s a good reason why. Everyone has heard about the
disappearances here in Dead Oaks over the years. We’ve all tried to keep the
three of you from hearing too much about them, but that’s basically impossible.
Word spreads in small towns. The same for legends. Most people believe that a
certain man is responsible for the disappearances—his ghost anyway.”
As Caleb paused, both girls huddled closer to one another. The fear was easily
noticeable in their bright green eyes. Austin had also decided to move closer to
the others. He had settled himself in between Tia and his mother, his arms
wrapped around himself protectively.
“His name was Martin Chambers. He was a local boy who had grown up
around here. His family never had a lot of money. He usually found himself as
the butt of high school kids’ jokes and older people’s wrath. Some claimed he
was a good guy though. Dad here and Mr. Evans both say they remember him
and that he was never any trouble.”
Both men nodded their heads solemnly in agreement.
“Unfortunately, Martin was the first one in Dead Oaks to go missing. One day,
his mother showed up at the courthouse begging for help in finding him. The
sheriff sent his men out. They searched and searched but could find nothing.”
“No one knows what happened to him?” Mia asked. It was clear she was
completely enthralled by Caleb’s story.
“No, and that’s where things get weird. When the hikers and campers started
going missing, people started claiming sightings of a strange guy in the woods.
They all claimed he was tall and heavyset with long hair. When they described
his clothes, it made locals really wonder. They claimed he wore a pair of khaki
pants and a torn red shirt with a smiley face on the front. That just happened to
be Martin Chambers’s favorite outfit. His mother even complained to the sheriff
that he had her wash his favorite shirt almost nightly. That wasn’t the only thing
they were seeing though. They all claimed his clothes were covered in mud and
yuck. Some even said it seemed as if he had just crawled out of the lake there.”
Caleb glanced toward the water. “As time went on, the stories got stranger.
Locals claimed they saw him walking through their yard at night. One woman
even said he tried to get inside her house. Each time police came to investigate,
they found the same evidence: wet, muddy footprints.
“It started keeping people away from the lake. For years, the place was like a
ghost town. No one used their cabins for summering anymore. Those who lived
here on the lake, like my family, had the run of the place. No one bothered us. It
was nice at first, but then, well, it got a bit strange. We were the ones who were
starting to see things. Mom saw the stranger in the woods one night when she
went out to check on the dogs. Dad swore up and down that he saw a strange
man walk out of the lake in the middle of the night when he got up to go to the
bathroom. Tiffany and I saw him one night. The two of us were down here by
the lake, holding hands, kissing a bit, when we heard water splashing. He
stepped out of the water, looked our way, then turned and started walking toward
the woods. Before we knew it, he was gone.”
“You’re lying,” Austin snapped. He had never truly believed much of
anything that came out of his brother’s mouth.
“No, he’s not,” Tiffany said as she stared down at the water. “It was late on a
Saturday night. You were already in the house and in bed. It was almost our
curfew, and we were spending our last few minutes together before I had to go
home. It was honestly the scariest thing I have ever seen. The way he stared at us
out of those weird, blank eyes. The blood on the side of his head…” Tiffany
pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. Just talking about what
she had seen that night freaked her out.
Seeing the fear that had taken over Tiffany sent a chill down Tia’s back. She
opened her mouth to support Austin in his claim that they were making all of it
up. The words just would not come out.
Caleb continued. “Tonight, when you lay down to sleep in the tents, keep it in
mind. That’s all this story is for. Yeah, it’s cool that it scares you guys, but it’s
even cooler that it’s real. You have to keep your eyes open. The last thing you
want is to be the one Martin comes to drag back to the lake with him. None of us
have proof that’s what he does, but what else would it be? No bodies are found,
but everything revolves around that lake. Dead Oaks Lake.” He stared off at the
water and said, “Always be careful of the water. You never know what lurks
beneath the surface.”
Seeing fear in the kids’ eyes, Evelyn Rollins stood up. “That’s enough. Come
on, let’s all turn in. Spooky stories are just that, stories. We’re all together and
Everyone agreed and began getting to their feet. Once the mess from around
the campfire was cleaned up, they slowly began disappearing into their tents one
by one. This would be the last night the Evans family would spend at the cabin
on Dead Oaks Lake.
Rena Marinis a fantasy/paranormal/horror author as well as reviewer. In 2017, she and her co-author S.C. Storm introduced the world to The Tempest Isle Series, with "The Guardians," which was published by Zombie Cupcake Press. At the end of 2017, she and her co-author also penned the short, "My Sister's Keeper," which was featured in the Zombie Cupcake Press Anthology, Madame Scarlet's Carnival.
A writer of fantasy/paranormal/horror, Rena finds herself a lover of the written word and hoping to branch out to multiple genres.
Rena is happily married to her soul mate, Daniel. The two of them reside in the beautiful mountain town of Newport, Tn. with their two children Cody and Amber.
Skylar McKinzielives in the small town of Screven, Ga. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family. She also loves long walks and sitting by the bonfire in October, which is her favorite month of the year.
She writes horror and paranormal romance. She is working on her next novel due to be released by the end of the year.
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