All That Remains
Sandra has come to Latham's Landing seeking to discover what really happened to her relative who disappeared there years before, persuading her reluctant friend Tina that a little paranormal investigation will be fun.
The Origin of Fear
Four college friends mount an expedition to Latham's Landing—an abandoned island estate infamous for mysterious deaths—to gather pictures and inspiration for a thesis on the origin of fear.
The Fire Within
A bitter Caroline Stone embarks on a mission to destroy the evil isle estate that took her fiancé, joining with several others also out for retribution. Can the combined fire of their hate triumph over the relentless evil of Latham's Landing?
All That Remains
“Sandra, why can’t we go to a nice beach instead?” I said, trying to keep the whining tone to a minimum. “It’s our last semester. I’d like to get a tan, maybe have a chance to catch up on my reading—”
“You can catch up on your reading at night!” she said enthusiastically. “My God, Tina, you’d think you had no imagination whatsoever!”
“Going to a creepy old resort on the edge of some lake doesn’t sound relaxing. I want to relax, not hunt ghosts.”
“You’ll have fun, I promise,” she said, her eyes sparkling. “Now come on. We’re going to be late getting there as it is.”
I followed her reluctantly to the waiting car. She was right. We were already an hour behind schedule. Besides, I’d already agreed to her idea back last winter when we planned this trip. When she’d related it to me while sipping cocoa in front of a warm cheery fire at my parents’ house, the idea had sounded interesting. Now, I had a feeling it was something I was going to come to regret.
We arrived a few days later at the town of Cairn Isle. Originally, I’d thought that was the name of the place, as that’s what Sandy had called it. However, the real name according to the welcome sign was Latham’s Landing.
Over lunch at the local diner, Sandy explained. “Cairn is really only a nickname the locals use.”
“Go on. You’ve got a captive audience here. Tell the whole tale.”
“A local man was very rich. And he was a good man—”
“And he was called Latham?”
“Bear with me, Tina. The locals around here are close-mouthed about the island. They don’t like to talk about the disappearances. Even the owner of the bed and breakfast where we’re staying tried to downplay it. But there’s bound to be more real life historical info we can find out when we get there. There’s a small museum there that’s run by the local historical society.”
“Okay. Go on.”
“The man’s name was Hans Latham. He got rich in the ship business somehow, but as the years passed, he retired and moved inland, selling his business. But he missed the water, and so he built a house, Latham’s Landing.”
I took a sip of my coffee. “And that’s where we’re staying?”
“No. We’re staying at a bed and breakfast associated with the local historical society chapter, like I just told you. Stop interrupting.”
“Okay, okay. Go on.”
“The rest can wait until we get there. Come on.”
“So why are we going there, again?” I asked as I grabbed a few dollars from my purse for a tip.
“A relative of mine disappeared there twenty years ago. They never found his body. It’s something like an old family mystery—”
Sounded like something to avoid to me, but I didn’t say that.
“—and I asked my Aunt Red about it, and she told me the story, as much as she knew. I told her I’d come here, as no one else from my family ever has.”
I followed her out dubiously.
We arrived at the bed and breakfast later that evening. It was black as pitch when we arrived, so there wasn’t much chance to look at anything. We resolved to get a good night’s sleep, and start out the next morning after breakfast.
About eleven, we wandered outside and then down to the docks. The informative but brusque woman at the front desk of the bed and breakfast had tried to dissuade us. But when Sandra had been adamant about going to the island, she relented and told us to go and see Fred that he would ‘set us up.’
After a few minutes of calling his name, we located a grizzled but friendly looking guy with a greasy brown cap and a day’s growth of grey beard. He was dressed in coveralls with a nametag that said Fred.
When Sandra asked to rent a boat, Fred was incredulous, to say the least. “Why you girls wanna go out there to that old crypt?” he asked, his words threaded with worry. “There’s nothing out there but ghosts and dust.”
“Can you tell us anything?” Sandra asked eagerly, relating the story of her relative.
Two decades ago, her cousin Henry had come out here with a group of tourists, intending to be the first to spend the night on Latham’s Landing in the New Year. They had bunked down in the main hall, and then realized they had no plates to eat the food they’d brought with them. Henry had gone to the kitchen, saying he would look for some. After a few minutes of searching for something else to use, one of the friends had located some plastic plates, and they began eating. It was halfway through the meal when one of them realized Henry hadn’t returned.
They went to look for him and found the kitchen. They found his footprints in the dust, as he’d looked in a few cabinets, and drawers. They found a small stack of mismatched plates he’d collected to bring back. Then his footprints abruptly stopped.
“Stopped how?” I interjected.
“I mean, it looked like he was walking, and then, he just wasn’t there.”
I already was having second, third, and fourth thoughts about this, and I hadn’t even gotten to the house yet. “You think he fell through some kind of trapdoor?”
“The friends looked in all the nearby rooms. The house isn’t that big, really. They found nothing. And the only footprints they saw were the ones they were making.”
“Did they stay there that night?” Fuck me, I couldn’t have.
“They were the last group that did,” Fred replied darkly. “I remember that now. The Historical Society cracked down after that fiasco, saying it was too risky to let tourists stay there overnight unsupervised. Final report was he fell into the lake, drowned, and the tide carried his body to the far side, where wolves carried it off.” He paused. “There are no documented cases of people dying there since Latham’s time. Don’t you gals be the first.”
“There were no wolves here twenty years ago,” Sandy snorted. “And Henry could swim. They weren’t allowed to bring alcohol, even then, and none of them were drinkers. They were here just to have fun.”
“Having fun usually involves lots of alcohol, in my book,” Fred said with a grin. “But let’s get you gals fixed up. If you’re determined to go there, I want you to be back here in plenty of time before night falls.”
“We’ve got nine hours,” I said, checking my watch. “I doubt that we’ll be that long.”
“Time passes differently over there,” Fred cautioned. “You just be sure to head back when the sun’s still overhead, not on the horizon. Got me?”
“Sure,” I said quickly. “We aren’t packing a lunch, figuring to have an early dinner. So we’ll be back early.”
A few minutes later, I was helping to load the raft and shaking my head. “I can’t believe I agreed to this.”
“Come on, it’s an adventure.”
“You didn’t tell me before that the only way to reach the house was by boat. I thought we were renting the boat to get a scenic view or something. The pictures in the bed and breakfast showed some kind of bridge. Did it fall down?”
Sandra narrowed her eyes. “You didn’t seem worried about this last winter when we planned to come here. Besides, it’s not as if we have to be a great navigator. The house is less than a mile away, at the most. The raft is made for ten people, and it’s got a heavy-duty motor. It’s a navy issue raft.”
I grimaced at her, even as I nodded that was a good thing.
We loaded in oars, some life vests, some water to drink we’d brought with us. As we went to push off, Fred handed us a large spotlight.
“You said to be back before dark? Why would we need this?”
“Take it,” he said ominously. “Better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.”