Darria finally has her undertaking job under control. However, trying not to raise an army of corpses is getting harder and harder not to do. Omar, her mummified hand sidekick, is still trying to feel her up any chance he gets. Just when she thought she could move on with her life, trouble comes knocking at her door.
A traveling carnival sets up at the graveyard down the street and strange spirits are roaming her house. To top it off, Darria finds a mysterious journal that tells of an ancient tale about banshees. While reading the diary, she finds herself bound to the mysterious fate of the one who wrote it. If she doesn’t decode the mystery the previous owner tried to solve, then she’ll suffer the same fate or worse.
“Need a hand?” Omar asked.
The hand jammed himself between the ceiling and the top row of books. One of these days, I’m going to figure out how he does his acrobatics. Maybe there was a secret in the way that he had been preserved. Maybe he wore an invisible cape that allowed him to perform feats of superhuman strength and leap many stairs in a single bound. Some days, she wished she had the same abilities. Darria removed her arm and wiped the dust on her pants. She glanced over at Oliver. His bony fingers tried to pry open the book. His harvester garb vanished, and he now wore jeans and a red T-shirt.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” Omar appeared holding something up for her.
She took the object from him. It was a wooden stick, thin at the top and widened toward the bottom. It was no bigger than a regular pen. At the thicker end was a two-inch metal piece that formed a point. She touched the tip. It was sharp but not enough to pierce her flesh.
“Come on!” Oliver muttered.
Darria switched her attention to the harvester. He had one foot braced against the desk and pulled with all his might to open the journal. It wasn’t budging for him, either. She chuckled. “Call it quits. It seems I’m the only one who can open it. I doubt your scythe could make a dent in it. Something tells me that whatever’s in that book is meant for me to see.”
Darria laid her hand on top of Oliver’s until he stopped. He glanced up at her, but his dark eyes were unreadable. The harvester plucked the wooden object from her hand and held it up to the light. “I haven’t seen one of these in ages.”
“You know what it is?”
“Of course I do. It’s a pen,” Oliver laughed. “You dip it into an inkwell and write with it. These were made before fountain pens.” He pointed to the metal piece at the end. “This is the nib. It holds the ink while you write. They came into style around 1850 or so.”
She took it back from him and scrutinized it, seeing how it could be a pen. Darria glanced at the journal. It could have been from the same era. Maybe the pen had belonged to the person who had written it. Having the pen shoved into the book and closed around it could have cracked the binding. Darria ran her fingers over the smooth wood, contemplating how the pages, the pen, the diary, and the attack all fit together. Opening the journal could have activated some kind of spell which alerted the thing that had gotten a hold of her. Or maybe, at that moment, something wanted to get out of some hellish dimension, and she was getting in its way. Whatever the reason, what had attacked her?
That was the big mystery.