Frank York sat at his desk in the Rock Creek Township Historical Society working on a spreadsheet about area churches when his phone rang. It rang a couple more times before he answered it.
"Hello? Rock Creek Historical Society."
"I hear you also run a detective agency," the voice was male. Panicked and hurried.
"Yes..." Frank responded reluctantly.
"That child--girl--that was found butchered in Rock Creek Cemetery? I know who it is. I know who did it but I can't say. They will kill me. All I can say is look into the old Rock Creek Catholic Church. They are all murderers and they need to be stopped!" the voice stopped and a soft click was heard.
Frank hung up the phone then picked it up again and dialed. "Matt? Are you up for a trip to Rock Creek? I would call Katie but something about this made my spine crawl. Okay, I'll be over in five minutes."
Two weeks ago, a child's body was found in Rock Creek Cemetery, one mile north of Rock Creek proper. The face had been bludgeoned, genitalia mutilated and body burned beyond recognition.
Rock Creek was a small town of about 32 people located along the curve of County Road 250. It was peaceful village now but that wasn't always so. In the early 20th Century several people were attacked by wild animals although a lot of residents thought the actual perpetrator was far more sinister.
With the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in 1918, the murders ceased and Rock Creek returned to a quiet existence. Frank and Matt drove into Rock Creek and first drove through the few streets the town had. They saw nothing out of the ordinary but parked along Main Street where ruins of Rock Creek's downtown were located.
KEEP OUT and NO TRESPASSING signs were nailed to each door and a good majority of the windows were boarded up. Those that weren't broken or boarded up were filthy with age.
"Hard to believe this town once vied for county seat with Tontzville," Frank said. "Also hard to believe it was three times the size Stull is today."
"What happened?" Matt asked.
"Some say bad city management but others say the Stull Curse affects more than just Stull," Frank posited.
"So it's more of a Stanton County curse?" Matt asked.
Frank didn't answer. He looked down Main Street at the old Catholic church at the corner of the next block. He motioned at Matt and the two of them walked down the sidewalk to the church.
The church was the second oldest church still standing in Stanton County. It was built in 1866 to replace a stone church that had grown too small. The stone church is long gone.
This church was well taken care of until the early 1980s when the dioceses out of Cincinnati decided to cut ties with the building. The current owner, Frank had looked up, was Edward Sylvester.
The paint on the church was peeling but the building still looked in decent shape and Frank wondered if anyone actually used it. Frank took a couple of pictures and walked up to the front door. He tried the handle only to find it locked. "I wonder if the owner would let us in..." Frank wondered out loud but mainly to himself. "Come on, the owner lives in town. Let's pay him a visit."
Edward Sylvester's house was a smaller house compared to the other houses in Rock Creek. It was a yellow one-story with a good sized yard with a huge oak tree towering over the house. Frank and Matt walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. A girl of about sixteen or seventeen answered.
"Yes?" she seemed suspicious.
"My name is Frank York and I'm with the Rock Creek Township Historical Society. Is Edward Sylvester in?"
"Why?" the girl abruptly asked.
"I have a few questions about the Rock Creek Catholic Church he owns."
"How did you know he owned it?" she squinted her eyes as she asked Frank.
"It's public record. I got the information from the Stanton County website. Your address I got from a phone book," Frank said.
"Well, he's not here right now. And I don't know when he'll be back," the girl nearly shouted and she began closing the door.
Frank quickly pulled out a business card and handed it to the girl. "Could you please give him my card and have him call me when he can--day or night."
The girl took the card but hesitated with her response. "Okay," she finally said and the door hurriedly closed.
Frank and Matt began walking back to the car. "She was friendly," Matt said.
"You noticed that, too," Frank said, chuckling. "She did seem a bit brash and she obviously wanted to get rid of us. Isn't today a school day?"
"I don't know. Probably. It is Thursday," Matt replied.
"Then what was she doing home?" Frank pointed his thumb behind him.
"Do you think they know?" Chauncey asked Sarah after she explained Frank and Matt's visit.
"I don't think so," Sarah said. "They seemed more interested in my father and the church. I took care of my father after I found out he had made the call. I think we can just wait until this all blows over."
Chauncey grumbled. "I hope so. It may be time to move on."
"What? Why? If anyone finds out about us, we can just kill them," Sarah said.
"It's not that simple," Chauncey began. "Your sister was a mistake but we couldn't stop Dante from doing that. He had chosen her for a sacrifice and to stop it would've meant death. And now with your father, the bodies keep piling up. The Blairs haven't...killed anyone in 80 years but Dante comes back and everybody goes crazy with their...instincts. I mean, before Dante returned I would've never thought about turning a human into...one of us," he looked at Sarah and uneasily smiled.
"Do you regret turning me?" she asked.
"Of course not," he shook his head.
They nuzzled for a second and then kissed. "So what do we do about our visitors?"
"Nothing we really can do until we know why they are here," Chauncey said.
Frank and Matt parked in the gravel lot of the old Catholic church and both of them stared at the church. "There's got to be a way in," Frank said.
"Why didn't you just ask that girl if she could get access to the church?" Matt asked.
"I don't think she would've told me. I think she was lying to us," Frank said.
"Why do you think that?"
"The way she was acting. She wanted to get rid of us. I specifically asked about the church so she could've given me any information she knew but instead chose to slam the door in our face."
"Did you bring your lock-picking thing? We could use that," Matt suggested.
"Yeah but I want that to be a last resort. Breaking and entering doesn't seem like something we should be doing at this point in the investigation. Besides..." Frank was interrupted by a knocking on his window. He lowered the window a little to speak. "Yes?"
"May I ask what you two are doing?" the man looked as if he was in his early thirties but spoke very condescendingly at Frank.
"We're looking at the church," Frank said. "Is that wrong?"
"Not really except the church is private property. Do you have permission to be here?"
"We're in a parking lot not in the church. Besides, I'm from the Rock Creek Township Historical Society and I'm doing research on the church. I tried to contact Mr. Sylvester but he wasn't home," Frank explained. "What business is it of yours?"
"Just a concerned citizen. I'm Dante Blair and I just moved back to Rock Creek. It's good to see our local youth taking pride in our past," Dante said. "I've actually talked to Mr. Sylvester about buying the church from him but for some reason he wants to keep it."
"It is a nice building. It could be used as a community center of something," Matt spoke from the passenger seat.
"That's what I told him but what are you gonna do?" Dante shrugged.
"Well, we're gonna get going back to Stull. You'll probably see us around doing our research. Feel free to stop by the Society in Stull if you're ever in town," Frank invited. "Welcome back to Rock Creek, Dante."
Frank started up the car and rolled up the window. Frank pulled away and back onto the street.
Someone else joined Dante in the parking lot. "What did he want?" the person asked.
"He's from the historical society, doing research," Dante said. "If you see him around again, snap his neck."
Back at the historical society, Frank was sifting through old newspapers. "What are you doing?" Matt asked.
"That Dante guy creeped me out but his named seemed familiar so I did some searching for the last name 'Blair' and came up with this," Frank flipped a newspaper page toward Matt and pointed at a picture. "The Blair family was very prominent in Rock Creek until the 1920s. Look at the person named Dante Blair in the picture. He looks exactly the same as the Dante we saw today."
"He does. So he probably a great-great grandson or something."
"Or it's the same person."
"That would be impossible."
"I would think that too," Frank winked. "If we didn't live in Stull."
Matt's last surviving uncle turns 40 and the team tries to protect him while also delving into Matt's family's past.