Ryan has to keep writing, no matter how much it hurts. He has to explain what happened that night.
This is my first entry in my journal: "It’s been two weeks since it happened, but this morning when I heard the 5:30 train, suddenly I slipped back in time, and it wasn’t a train, it was something more evil, more deadly, and it was chasing me.” But then I woke up enough to remember that I was back home, back in Skeleton Creek. As long as I was awake, I decided to do the one thing that had always made me feel better—write about that night and what came after.
I used to write scary stories and other stories bout what was going on in the tiny town where I lived, Skeleton Creek. But now those stories have begun to blend, and I’m becoming more and more sure that my town is haunted. This is the truth, my truth. And the truth, I’ve learned, can kill you. It all began when Sarah asked a question: “Why Skeleton Creek? Why call a town a name like that? Nobody would want to visit.”
“Maybe they didn’t want visitors.”
“No, there’s got to be a reason for a name like that.”
We started our research at the library, where Gladys Morgan reluctantly loaned us a milk crate of old yellowed newspapers, warning us to read them, and then let everything just be, and stop looking for answers. That was the beginning, a thread to grab hold of. But we didn’t know at the beginning the trouble we’d find by following where that thread led us.
We found strange announcements in the paper. Cryptic ads we couldn’t figure out. But one of the symbols in them was familiar —two bones tangled in barbed wire. It was carved several places in town—on the door of a bar, a signpost at the end of town, and on a tree near a path into the woods.
Do I wish we hadn’t gone into the woods? Do I wish Sarah hadn’t shot the video, as if that might have kept everything from happening? Sure. But that didn’t change anything. We kept working to find out the secret of Skeleton Creek’s name. And we ignored all the danger signs. We went too far, we asked too many questions. And we found out things that we’d never wanted to learn.
Sarah loved video the way I loved words. So it seemed logical that while I wrote, Sarah shot the footage to tell her story. And as we later discovered, that was the key—she saw things in visual images, while I saw them as words. You can’t get the story with just one or the other—you have to read the story and watch the images too. So go to sarahfincher.com. The password is HOUSEOFUSHER.
Good luck. Stay strong.
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.