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.


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Excerpt from "Follow The Ink"

The hand returned to the desk and tried to pry open the journal. She sensed the energy he expended and felt a little bit of his exhaustion. His nails scraped the leather. Omar lost his grip and flipped over his wrist bone, somersaulting across the desk, catching himself on the edge. Darria chuckled and looked down at Oliver.

“Is the diary he’s trying to open the one you were looking at?”

“Yup. He can’t get it open. Once, I did....” She gestured to the mess of papers and books littered around the room. “You can see what happened, and I didn’t get it all the way open. You want to give it a go, be my guest. Maybe it’ll open for death.”

Oliver shrugged and walked over to the desk. She turned her attention from the harvester and stood on tiptoe to see the top shelf. Darria grabbed a few books from either side of the hole and dropped them onto the floor. A cloud of dust rose around her. Instead of a portal to another dimension, she was met with an unmarked, cobweb-laced wall. Bits of plaster clung to a few of the dust bunny-laden webs. She couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Darria knocked on the wall. Nope, not hollow. Her thumb brushed something along the wall. It moved out of reach. She bent her arm at an odd angle to get whatever she dislodged. As her fingers grasped it, the object rolled out of the way again.

“Shit.”

“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 ahold 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.

“What do you think’s in the book?” Oliver asked, finally giving up on opening it.

She set the pen down on the desk. “I don’t know. I’m not sure it’s a good idea if I do. I think I triggered something when I opened it because that was when I was attacked. I don’t know.” A deep chill passed through her. The hairs rose on her arms. Her stomach turned as she thought about the ramifications of what would happen if she fully opened the memoir.

“Wise choice. Why don’t you put it in the cabinet?” Omar suggested.

She wanted to say something else when a heavy weight descended over her. “It’s going to have to wait. Someone dropped off a body. Duty calls.”

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