Chapter Three: The Haunted Past
Before the events which would cast a shadow over the entire Redstone family, my childhood could be best described as bland and prosaic. I can't remember being happy or unhappy, but I remember my family before our lives would take a turn for the worst.
I was the only son of Hal Redstone and Tiffany Gates, both whose family lines could be traced back to when Sanctuary Hill was founded. Hal worked doggedly at a factory many miles away from the town in which we lived. Though he worked hard he was what most would see as a poor man yet a good, honest man. I never remember having an abundance of money as a kid, but our family was a happy one. My mother Tiffany, well, she was a simple country girl who always was there for me when ever I needed her. I could you always remember her ever watchful eye looking out for me.
We lived in a dilapidated farm house not to far away from Sanctuary Hill. At first it was just me and my parents; that was the only time in life I could remember when I didn't feel cursed. But when I had reached the age of eight, then my families curse did come.
My mother had a large family and her family bond was very tight so that when they asked her take care for my great aunt Edna, my mother couldn't say no. My father, who unlike me, was aware of Edna's problems, tried to convince my mother to say no. But my mother was as stubborn as a mule when it came to family, and my father finally gave up. So aunt Edna came to stay with us.
Edna was elderly as well as almost being a complete invalid, she had the intellect of a toddler. Since Edna's birth she had been particularly malicious, she had been known to set fires in her childhood. Though as she aged in years, she became afflicted with some withering disease that attacked both her body and her mind. By the time she came to live with us, she could barely do anything.
She scared me from the beginning, there was something not right about her. She would always wear the same tattered yellow dress, and she had odd angular teeth that seemed strange to me, and what really scared me was the fact I was sure she wouldn't blink for long periods of time. She could speak, but only mad ramblings which I could not understand. I honestly hated her, I hated her because she made me afraid.
We set up a bedroom in our attic and would routinely bring up food for her as well as empty her bedpan, though I hated doing this when it was my turn. I remember feeling deeply afraid every time I went up the ladder into the attic. I remember this one time.
I had climb up the ladder and entered the attic with a meal for Edna. She was sitting in her rocking chair, peering aimlessly out the small circular window in front of her. She didn't take any notice of me so I slowly approached her with her dinner tray in hand.
Then her head whipped suddenly around and she was looking directly at me with the eyes of the dead, there was no life behind those eyes. I was so startled that I dropped the tray.
She cooed then said softly, "would you like to play?"
She seemed more composed then I had ever seen her before, and I was caught little of guard by her words.
I muttered, "I'll get you another tray."
Edna ceased rocking in her chair and then asked, "would you like
to know a secret?"
I just looked at her and was unable to speak, I was a second away from pissing my pants.
Edna began to giggle like a child then told me, "you don't know what is coming. Soon you will be fed to the flesh worms who infest you, he comes from the stars."
I thought it was all the babbling of an insane woman, but I could not forget what she said.
Edna turned back to the window and peered outside then said, "when it escapes, all in this town will suffer, so you best leave and never come back."
I had had enough so I left the attic, I didn't return for a long while.
As the years went on, Edna's condition grew increasingly worse and was pushing my family to the limits. I mother still took care of her, but Edna was having screaming fits, and she would spit and curse at us when we brought her food. I think my father knew we where almost at the breaking point, but out of love for my mother he chose to remain silent.
But Edna and our family reached the breaking point during the summer of 1968, and sweltering summer which only inflamed the tension between my family and Edna. My life before this summer was entirely different from how my life was after it happened.
Like I said, my family was destitute and my parents would do odd jobs around the community to make money. So it came to be that my mother, on one hellishly hot day, was paid to baby-sit the Moss twins.
The Moss twins, two six year-olds one whose names where Tyler and Victor, came to our home for a couple of days. I was older and to wrapped up in myself to take much notice of them, all I can remember was them playing in our front yard. My mother kept a watchful eye on them from our porch, and all seemed well enough.
Though when my mother's attention was distracted by a wringing phone for several minutes; she came back to find the twins missing. At first we thought they might have wondered off, but we looked and could find no trace of them. All should found was one of the shoes of the toddlers covered with blood.
My mother seemed to be stricken with guilt, and she did everything she could to find them but to no avail. My father gathered some of the local men to start a search, but as day turned slowly into night, no one could find them. Everyone from town who came to help find the twins, they didn't bother to hide their ambivalence, people where already blaming my mother.
That night, everyone was spread around the area looking for the missing boys, though my mother had remained home by herself. The search failed to turn up anything we searched well into the morning hours.
I was almost home, exhausted, when I heard the thunderous sound of a gunshot and I realized it had come from my families home. I ran home as fast as I could, I imagined that I would find my mom dead and I can't ever remember feeling so scared.
I ran into the hours and searched it for my mother. When I reached the ladder to the attic, I heard the sobbing. I climbed up the ladder and entered the attic.
My mother was sitting on the floor, one of my father's rifles was in her hands and there was an empty shell casing on the floor. Behind was my great aunt Edna, lying lifelessly on the floor in a growing pool of crimson blood.
I asked, "mom, what did you do?"
She couldn't seem to be able to look at me. She sobbed then said, "I had to kill her, for God's love, I had to kill her."
Others must have heard the gunshot because I could hear a gamut of footfalls from downstairs. I approached my mother and place my hand on her shoulder.
"Why," I asked, "why did you kill her?"
My mother cried harder then replied, "it was all my fault, it is because of me that those boys are dead. I killed them."
A local man, I didn't know who he was, had just entered the attic and he had heard what my mother had said. He yelled down to others waiting downstairs, "the Redstone woman just admitted she killed those poor kids."
I turned to this guy, vehemently angry, and yelled, "she didn't, she couldn't."
My mother stood up and faced me and her accuser, she whispered, "I did kill them, I knew, but I did nothing."
The guy on the ladder said firmly, "call the authorities, we have us a murderer."
That had to be the worst day of my entire life, I lost my mother that day and also learned that the name Redstone would be remembered for this horrible tragedy. I sometimes feel that the person I was before this happened was different from who I am now.
When the police finally arrived to detain my mother for triple homicide they made a futile attempt to talk my mother down from the attic, she simply kept repeating the words, "I am responsible, I killed them."
I was still in the attic with my mother, the police had tried to get me to leave her, but I didn't respond. I just stared at my mother, knowing that she was going away and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I looked at her, I didn't know what to do or to say, words for such an event are never easy to come by I suppose.
Finally, two guys in white coats arrived, they where able to detain my mother without any violence and they took her away to the asylum in which she would spend the rest of her life. My father was a strong man, but when the truck which they put my mother in started down the road taking her away from us, it was the only time I had seen the man cry.
This incident was followed by a flurry of interest from the media, many news crews came to Sanctuary Hill and endlessly repeated all the details of the crime. My father was confronted by a reporter and a cameraman who pressed him for details, he instead punched out the guy with the camera and he spent a few days in prison for assault. The media interest waned, though the ambivalence most locals had for my family remained.
My mother was found not-guilty by reason of mental insanity, though during her trial and the subsequent investigation into the matter they had never been able to reveal what had become of the twins. It just became a source of endless speculation and gossip.
I would spend the next seven years as a virtual pariah, I guess people thought the apple didn't fall far from the tree so I was just as suspect as my mother. Local lore turned my mother into inhuman monster, but I could only remember her as the person who was always there when I needed her. I got into a lot of fist fights, and I lost most of them, but I dreamed of escape. When I finally did leave Sanctuary Hill, hoping to leave both good and bad memories behind, I never imagined I would return.
But I did return, though fate which can be a truly cruel mistress at times, had brought me back. I thought the worst of my life was behind, I couldn't know of what the future was to hold for me.
Chapter Four: A Murder and Chance for Redemption
I lay in bed the next morning. I was partially awake and had decided to sleep in. I just lay in the small bed in my new bedroom, unpacked boxes where strewn about room.
Then I heard the shrieking sound of a siren in the distance, and it sounded like it was coming from the center of town at the top of the hill. I rolled out of my bed and began to put on some clothes then groggily wandered outside to see what all the commotion was about. I looked towards the peak of the hill and I saw flashing lights several emergency vehicles. A crowd of locals had gathered around the area of the general store.
I began to slowly walk up the hill at first, then I found myself jogging towards the scene and I remembered feeling a very alarming sense of foreboding. I instinctively knew that something bad had happened.
I arrived at a police barricade around the front of the store and pushed my way through a crowd so I was able to see what was happening. A uniformed police officer, a young guy, came out of the store with his hand pressed against his mouth and he was shaking. Then he vomited all over the pavement in front of the store.
I turned to the man beside me, a slightly obese fellow in a suit with a thinning hairline and deep lines crisscrossing his face, and I asked him, "what is going on?"
Looking sort of angry, he said, "some bastard killed Ma last night."
I had known Ma as long as I could remember and the news of her death shocked and saddened me. Though I didn't express my feeling of grief for her on the surface, inside it weighed very heavily on my mind.
I asked, "what are you talking about?"
"This morning," the stranger replied, "the little Truman boy found Ma dead and is in shock. We've been trying to get some answers from the police, but they haven't said anything."
The man looked at me for a second, there was a hint of suspicion in his expression and he asked me, "I don't know you, what is your name?"
"Luther," I told him, "Luther Redstone. I just moved here a couple of days ago."
"I see," he said, "the only remaining Redstone has come back to town. Funny you should just arrive and then this happens."
I faced the guy and scowled at him. I asked firmly, "do you got something you want to say to me, then just say it."
He said, "your mother was evil, and I don't imagine you are any different then her."
I was angry and spoke loudly. "And what the fuck to you know about any of it," I asked, "did you even know my mother?"
The man replied, "I know of her, and you have some nerve coming back here, you are most decidedly not welcome."
I asked, "and do you speak for everybody in this town?"
The man smiled and replied, "actually, I'm Mayor Thatcher, so I do speak for the people of this town."
I didn't notice as the detective in plain clothes emerged from the store and approached me and Thatcher. He was well within his forties, he had completely gray hair, and he walked with a slight limp and used a cane.
The detective asked, "and what seems to be the problem gentlemen?"
The Mayor looked at the detective then said, "I and this fellow where just having a conversation. Nothing for you to concern yourself with detective Moss."
I asked the detective, "what happened in there?"
Detective Moss shrugged his shoulders. "Can't help you. We don't want to have the details of this crime become public knowledge. But I'll say this, I've been a cop a long time and have seen some horrible things in my time, but what I saw in there actually scared me."
Mayor Thatcher said, "but it was murder, someone murdered that kindly old lady."
Detective Moss suddenly frowned. "This wasn't murder, I don't think there is a name for what happened in there. Who ever did this must be a maniac in the worst way."
Thatcher asked, "do you think someone in this town did this?"
Moss frowned. "I don't know. Are there any individuals in this community, that you know of, who would be capable of committing murder."
Mayor Thatcher shook his head. "I don't know anybody in this town who would be capable of that. It must have been an outsider."
Moss looked at me. "who are you," he asked.
"Redstone, my first name is Luther. I just moved back into town yesterday."
Moss seemed to think about something for a moment then said, "Tiffany Redstone's son. I had heard that you left town."
I said, "I've come back."
Moss looked at the Mayor then said, "could you excuse us for a moment, I want to have a little talk with Mr. Redstone here."
The Mayor reluctantly left, leaving me and the detective to talk. I got the sense that he was sizing me up.
Detective Moss looked at me, then asked, "why did you come back?"
"My inherited my uncle's garage," I said, "I going to try and run it as a business."
"Can you tell me what you where doing between the morning hours between three and five o'clock?"
I said, "I was at home, asleep. Why, am I a suspect or something?"
Moss said flatly, "everyone here and in the surrounding counties know about the whole sordid affair with your mother, and I'm sure they, though unjustly, somehow see you as guilty for the crimes of your mother."
I pleaded, "I didn't do it, I actually liked Ma. She always treated me well."
Moss nodded and said, "I pretty sure you didn't. When I arrived on the scene and was informed that the Redstone kid had returned, I admit I pulled your file to see if you had any prior arrests. You had just one for driving while intoxicated. What I saw in that store, no one wakes up one day and just out of the blue commits a crime like that, no, who ever did this most likely would have a history of violent offenses. But you because of your history, I'm sure more then a few around here already see you as guilty."
I told him, "I put up with people's petty suspicions about me for a long time and I tried to put it all behind me when I left. Listen, I'll help you any way I can."
"OK," Moss said, "but I hope you know that you are not held in vary high regard here, and with what has just happened, people will make a connection with this crime and your sudden arrival."
I said, "I really want to help, any way I can."
"This is a police matter. There is no need to get involved."
I said, "I've got some work to do at my garage, but, I hope you find the bastard who did this."
As I turned to walk away, Moss explained, "I was a rookie when that whole incident with your mother happened, and though I'm the only person in the department who believes this, you're mother didn't do it."
I turned back to him and asked, "why do you think that? She confessed."
Moss replied, "You're mother was guilty of shooting her invalid aunt, that I am sure of. But no trace of the other two victims was ever found, we don't know for sure what happened to them. I don't know she did it for an absolute fact, and when I accuse someone of a crime that serious, then I'd rather be a hundred percent positive of her guilt."
All the years since it happened I had never once questioned my mother's guilt, I just accepted that she had done this terrible thing because everyone else accepted it. But I still loved my mother despite anything she might have done, and something in me wanted to believe she was innocent.
I began to walk away and said, "thank you detective."
As I walked towards my garage, I felt a small, weak hand grab me by the arm and I swung around to face the person. Then I saw her for the first time, and quite a sight for eyes as jaded as my own. She caught me off guard.
She was a thin young woman who could barely in her early twenties, with extremely pale skin yet her eyes where very vibrant and full of emotion, and she had long brunette hair which was silky yet there was a streak of white in her hair. She was wearing entirely black clothes, a jacket as well as a long skirt which went down to her knees, and had on black boots.
I'll be honest, she was attractive in a non-conventional way and something seemed instantly odd to me, for she evidently was something of a stark contrast to the mundane aura of that town. I liked her right away, I knew she was another local misfit like myself. I knew the person I was looking at also raised the ire of that town, I identified with here there.
I calmly said, "going to a funeral or something. Can I help you?"
She let me go and stepped back and seemed to give me a thorough look over, then she smiled and replied, "I finally met the infamous Luther Redstone."
I nodded. "Yeah, what's it to you?"
"Nothing," she said, "I just wanted to meet you."
"And why do you know about me anyways?"
"People occasionally still talk about your mother. A few times I heard about her son. Some people don't seem to like you much."
"Nice to see that everyone here is living in the past, it is ancient history."
"I understand how it feels, everyone here hates me too."
She picked my curiosity. I said, "and why do they hate you? What did you do?"
She frowned woefully. "I'm different, they hate me because I'm not like anybody else here. I don't fit in."
"Since you know my name, maybe you can tell me yours just so we know who we are talking too?"
She replied, "I'm Ashley, Ashley Winters."
I told her, "Ashley, I have to be going. Have a nice day?"
As I walked away from her, she said, "I know you hate this place."
I stopped and turned to face her and asked, "what did you say?"
She got real close to me, her body only inches from my own, and I could feel her hot breath on my face. We stood like that for a moment then she whispered, "you hate this place, for it has hated you for so long. I hate it as much as you, so you and I are the same."
"Yeah," I said, "you are a social pariah like me, but I could give a rat's ass less about any beef I used to have with the people here. I just want to be another hapless cog in the gears of this town."
She whispered into my ear, "do you know why you came back so abruptly, or do you only think you know? Did you come here of your own free choice or was it something else that brought you back."
I muttered, "I inherited my uncle's garage. That is the only reason I'm here. The garage could be in the northern arctic and I'd still go there."
She saw my hesitation and whispered, "it calls to you, the same as it calls to me. It brought you back so you can see what you have always hungered for."
I began to believe this girl was crazy, what she said sounded like lunacy to me. But a remained near to her and listened.
She asked, "do you feel it, late at night when you lay awake in bed, can't you hear it beckon you and doesn't it get closer with each passing day."
"You are insane, aren't you."
She pressed her index finger against my chest and began to move it around my chest in circular patterns. I felt a rush of warmth suddenly.
She stated, "something which you can't imagine is about to happen, and you will be major part of it. That is what he told me."
I pushed her away and barked, "lady, you are creeping me out, I have to go."
She turned away from me began to walk away. I watched her leave, and though I found her somewhat alarming in the things she said, my youth had made in me a deep sympathetic feeling for anyone who seemed like an outcast, so I felt something for her then.
I walked away, with my day getting off to a bad start I hoped that things would get better though I did not know just how bad the next few days would get.
Though I spent the next several hours tinkering with the 350 big block engine, my mind was otherwise occupied with the thing which had effected my life for so long, my mother's supposed crime and how it had forever blackened the Redstone name in this community. Now that I considered that she was innocent of what happened to those missing kids, for the first time that I could remember, I didn't feel as if I should have guilt for what had happened.
I soon realized that though up till that moment my reasons for returning to Sanctuary Hill where simply financial, I came then to believe that I was brought back by fate to prove my mother's innocence and redeem the Redstone name. Sure, such notions as fate may seem absurd to more skeptical minds, but I believed that now there was a real reason for me coming back. I knew I was going to vindicate my mother.
I would find the truth, though the price for finding it would be much higher then I ever could have imagined.
I believed that there must be someone responsible for both Ma's tragic death and the disappearance of the twins. If there was some unknown individual who initiated the chain of events which destroyed those who I had loved and nearly destroyed me, then I would find him.
I wanted answers, but the answers I was to discover where like nothing a sane, rational mind could fathom.
Located several miles outside of town was the rather modest farm which Paul had inherited from his parents. It was a large patch of land near the edge of a river; a farm home in the center large clearing in the forest surrounded by fields. There where a couple of fields of corn, some pasture land for a few cows, a rather large red barn. It looked just like it had the last time I saw it over a decade before, it hadn't change at all.
As my truck drove up the gravel road which led to the house, I noticed that Paul was in a field working on a tractor. I parked my truck in front of the house and got out. I walked over to Paul.
I stood behind him and said, "hey Paul."
Paul didn't look up from the engine of the tractor.
"Luther, I'm busy at the moment. Trying to get this old piece rust to work."
I asked, "you heard about what happened to Ma?"
He nodded. "Yeah, the local radio news has been talking about it all day. It's a damn shame to be sure. One of the better people around here."
I said, "I spoke with a detective Moss."
Paul interrupted suddenly. "Moss, I've heard from more then a few people that he is a decent cop, you know, a real square dealing type of guy."
"Moss said that he thinks my mother was innocent."
These words seemed to somewhat shock Paul, and he said in a very serious tone, "Luther, you really have to put all that behind you."
I lowered my head a looked at the ground. "I believe she is innocent and I'm going to prove it."
"Luther," Paul said, "your mom was a good woman but she snapped OK, she confessed."
I looked up at him and said, "just listen to me for a second. What if what happened back then is related to Ma's murder, you well know that this town has always has an unusually large amounts of disappearances. What if someone in this town is responsible for all of it."
Paul stopped working on the tractor, turned around then asked, "what the hell are you thinking of doing Luther? I know you, you get these ideas and they never lead to any good."
I told him, "I'm going to find out who really did it."
"Damn it," Paul told me, "so you are going to start snooping around. Man, listen to me, this is a matter for the police."
I didn't care, so I asked, "listen, aren't we good friends?"
"Yeah, so what."
"Paul," I said, "I am going to need your help."
He shook his head. "No way, no fucking way I am going to get involved in this mess. This is your business, not mine."
"Damn it Paul, I have never asked you for anything before."
Paul laughed. "Bull shit you've never needed me to bust you out of a jam, like right now."
I asked, "what do you know about the local history around here?"
Paul shrugged and shook his head. "My father told me a bunch of stuff, but nothing that has anything to do with this. You want some local history, then you have to go ask the old timers."
"You know," he said, "that group of old guys who hang out at Red's Bar every night. They have spent the past eighty years gathering gossip at that bar."
"I'm going to speak with them."
Paul smirked. "Good luck, those old bastards won't talk to anyone, not anyone. Well, not for free anyways. How much extra cash do you got?"
I replied, "I got a lot of money at the moment."
Paul looked concerned. "Going to Red's is dangerous for you buddy, I didn't want to tell you but some people think it was you who killed Ma. Mayor Thatcher is already spreading shit around about you, and you know how much people around here like your family."
I said, "I have to know who is responsible."
"Go to Red's," Paul told me, "and you will surely get your ass handed to you."
I said, "I'm going."
He frowned. "I guess I better go with you, watch your back."
I said to him, "thanks."
"Frankly," Paul admitted, "you are one giant, fucking pain in the ass."