Previously on “The Red Barn”
A military unit on regular patrol just outside the town limits of Avalon has encountered series of events that could not be explained. When the unit commander arrived on scene to take a look at the damage of his lifeless soldiers lying on the pavement, he receives a phone call from a detective in Charleston, South Carolina in regards to his family meeting a mysterious death.
Charleston Police Department, in South Carolina, has made a discovery of a serious house fire in one neighborhood just minutes from downtown. The head detective, David Burgess, arrived on scene minutes later after receiving the call from the watch commander. After Detective Burgess arrived on scene he waited for the fire department to finish their stage of search and cleaning. Hours after the fire department chief made Detective Burgess aware of them finishing he showed the detective a toy red barn that was found in one of the kid’s rooms. The shocking development of this being found in the ruins was that the toy was not scratched, burned, or damaged in anyway. Immediately, the fire chief and Detective Burgess made the preliminary conclusion that the toy must have been placed there after the house burned down.
Then suddenly another fire fighter overheard the conversation between the fire chief and the detective and butted in the conversation. The firefighter corrected the chief in saying that the red barn toy was found in the house, but underneath tons of rubble. When the detective asked the firefighter what he means by that statement, the firefighter elaborated his explanation and said that the red barn toy should have been crushed and damaged into pieces under the weight of everything collapsing. When this was finally explained in more concrete detail, the detective then began to think that they may have an arsonist on their hands. Then the question became who would torch a house with a family still inside and did the people inside know the arsonist. The hardest thing that Detective Burgess had to do was to contact the husband, the unit commander in Avalon, North Carolina, to the heart-breaking news.
By the time Detective Burgess had an opportunity to search through the ruins himself, it was just turning day break. Another detective then arrived on scene, Janice Wesson, who just finished a homicide case the previous day. She was allowed to go home and get some rest before responding back out to this house fire, which is being considered a homicide by arson. After Detective Wesson arrived on scene she was directed where Burgess was and met up with him to get the scoop on the case. The horror on her face when Detective Burgess was telling her about what possibly happened and who was inside the house, was sadness and disbelief.
Burgess already told her that he contacted the father of the family and that he should be arriving in Charleston later on today. Then the mystery got even worse for Wesson when Burgess showed her the red barn toy that was found in the rubble. She didn’t understand until Burgess explained to her that it was found in the ruins of the house underneath tons of rubble. Wesson then went on to finish his explanation by saying that the toy should have been crushed or damaged into many pieces. Detective Burgess concurred with her and told her that was the same thing one firefighter said. Another thing about that toy being found is that it was in one of the kid’s room, but even with the heat and smoldering it still should show some signs of heat damage. Wesson tried to make sense of it in her mind, but the explanations that she came up with were not making any sense and hence didn’t share them.
While the detectives in Charleston, South Carolina try to make sense of this murder by arson case, Bart and Linda take a trip to the city library to see if they can make sense of this evil mystery that plagues Avalon. By this time they are in their third day in Charlotte and have not gotten close to the town of Avalon. While they are at the library they are not aware of the last two recent incidents that have just occurred. During their investigation at the library, Linda goes to search for more in-depth records of the town while Bart attempts to look more into the civil war connections. Several minutes later Linda finds some more in-depth information about the town that Bart was not aware of previously.
LINDA: Hey! Bart! (In a library whisper). I think I might have found something here.
BART: (Walks over to her from one tall bookshelf) what you got?
LINDA: Before you left for your trip you said you read about the history of the town of Avalon, right?
LINDA: Well, are you aware of a history that pertains to the town that goes further back than the American Civil War?
BART: No. What did you find out?
LINDA: Apparently, according to this historical book on the Thirteen Colonies the town of Avalon was a slave plantation prior to it becoming a town later on, but it was also a land for dead and convicted slaves. The latest known slave that was killed was an eight year old girl named Ebony Johnson.
BART: Oh my God! Did it say what happened to her?
LINDA: Back in the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s was a period of slave revoltation and the rate of slave deaths per capita went up nearly 70%. Most children of the adult slaves that were killed were either sold off to other plantations or made to work well into their 80’s and 90’s. Ebony was the only black girl killed during this period and it is still unknown whether it was done purposely or was she merely caught in the middle.
BART: So what does this mean about the town though? You telling me that all that is happening is related to this period in your country’s history?
LINDA: I don’t know what else it could mean. Many places in the south and out west are known to be haunted by slaves, civil war soldiers, and sometimes evil spirits are known to make a presence. The thing is that many people down here in the southern part of the United States believe in haunted spirits, especially from the slave era.
BART: Okay, so what do we do now? We are not merely ghost hunters or equipped to deal with something like this. If we are to continue on our quest to find out what is going on within that town, we will surely need help. We only have four days before we both have to return to our normal lives. We can’t interview anybody from the town because they are all dead and the military surely won’t help us.
LINDA: The only thing that I can think of is to keep searching the library for more answers, but we will ultimately need to go out there and get our feet in it soon enough. We can arm ourselves with valuable information about the town, the little black girl Ebony, who I believe in some small way is responsible or involved in this.
BART: So you telling me you think this little girl, Ebony, is responsible for causing deaths to thousands and thousands of people in this town? How would you explain that to whomever we need to convince to allow us access in the town, and, how will we be able to combat this evil entity even with help?
LINDA: Well, I guess we will just have to look up some ghost hunters and ask them to help us investigate the town and to unlock the mystery of this evil presence.
BART: I hear you, but maybe you have forgotten that at least a few ghost hunter agencies have gone into that town and have uncovered nothing, or if they did they all ended up dead. I don’t know what team of ghost hunters will come with us to investigate a town that is now occupied by the National Guard.
LINDA: Are you loosing hope? Are you having second thoughts about this adventure? If you are I can understand, but don’t feel like you have to continue on my behalf.
BART: Oh my goodness! No I am not giving up hope, but I am a realist and I can see the challenges ahead. We both had the same kind of nightmare two nights ago, but we were just opposite of each other in that dream. We have the scars to prove it to each other, but these scars won’t convince anybody except thinking we are mental patients that escaped from some hospital. I am more than happy to continue with you on this quest, but we have to take some time in figuring how we will get in that town with or without the military knowing.
LINDA: Sneaking into the town will more than likely get us arrested or killed, but I like danger to that extreme. Even if we figure out how to gain access into the town, who will help us on this adventure is the question.
BART: I don’t know, but we can figure that out shortly once we gather more information on this case.
In the meantime while Bart and Linda are at the Charlotte City Library Center, the Charleston Police Department receives more information of other arsons happening around the city. Within a matter of hours after the break of dawn, the city fire department responded to a dozen house and structure fires. The fire department got so overwhelmed that they had to contact the neighboring towns and cities for assistance. It was reported by the media that we could have a serial arsonist running around the city of Charleston setting homes and businesses ablaze. However, the media was not granted permission by the detectives that are in charge of the case to release any information pertaining to a possible serial arsonist. At the same time the when you have more structure fires that are happening at the same time that your fire chief has to contact outside help, it doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out what is going on.
As the hours passed through the day and every detective in the city was working some kind of arson case, the fire chief reported to the lead detective of what was being found in each house fire. Detective Burgess receives a phone call from the fire chief.
DETECTIVE BURGESS: Hello, Chief Mitchell. What do you have for me?
FIRE CHIEF MITCHELL: Well, out of the twelve house fires that we have been dealing with today we were able to put out at least four of them this afternoon. In searching through the rubble of the burned down houses we found more red barn toys.
DETECTIVE BURGESS: Excuse me! Say that again?
FIRE CHIEF MITCHELL: The same barn toy that was found in yesterday’s house fire, well the same kind of toy was found in the other four house fires we have dealt with. Every single one was found under tons of rubble with no damage or scratches on them.
DETECTIVE BURGESS: Who the hell is going around placing these toy barns underneath smoldering tons of rubble? This is not making any sense and honestly troubles me to even think this is a joke or something.
FIRE CHIEF MITCHELL: I don’t know what is going on, but if anything turns up in the other remaining house fires we put out I will give you a call as soon as I can. (Hangs up the phone).
DETECTIVE BURGESS: Janice! Chief Mitchell found more, red barn toys in four other house fires.
DETECTIVE WESSON: What the hell?! Is this some kind of joke that we are not getting?
DETECTIVE BURGESS: I don’t know, but I think we now know our arsonist’s signature mark now. At some point he’s going to toy stores and buying up several red barn toys at one time. He could have kids or he could be someone that has a weird mental picture in his head about fire and red barns.
DETECTIVE WESSON: The part that I don’t understand is why pick occupying homes with innocent families still living in them? We have plenty of old barns outside the city that could be more to his liking than setting fires to people’s houses!
DETECTIVE BURGESS: I wish I could answer that for you, but now we know what the arsonist is using for his signature.
DETECTIVE WESSON: There’s gotta be several toy stores in the city. To find out which one the arsonist could be buying his toys from will be like looking for a needle in a giant hay stack.
DETECTIVE BURGESS: This is why we are detectives, Janice. They pay us the big bucks to figure shit like this out.
DETECTIVE WESSON: Yeah, all for 40k a year.
After spending hours at the library and writing down dozens of notes for future use, Bart and Linda leave the library heading back to their hotel rooms. Once they arrive back at the hotel and head to her room, Bart immediately turns on the television as Linda goes to the bathroom. As Bart took off his shoes to get comfortable, the news comes on interrupting the current programming that was going on. This got Bart’s attention, but he wasn’t expecting the news to report something that they may be interested in. Just as the news was reporting on the dozen house fires that the city of Charleston, South Carolina was dealing with, Linda comes out of the bathroom.
She sits down on the other bed and starts to listen to the news as well. Their interest in this mysterious case just got more complicated when they heard the fire chief explain that four out of twelve house fires had red barn toys found. What really peaked their interests was that neither toy barn that was found was damaged, cinched, or marked up. Armed with this information, the fire chief explained to the public that this could be the arsonist signature. He employed the public to be vigilant and aware of any suspicious activity near homes, businesses, and maybe toy stores in the city. The situation had gotten to a point to where the fire chief had to call out to the public for help. At that time Bart remembered reading about a red barn being located on the Avalon Plantation during the American Civil War.
Linda turns to him and looks him in the eye and says, “Do you think that this could be related to what you read?” He had laid down on the bed to watch the news, but sat up to answer Linda by saying, “I am not sure, but this case just got extremely complicated for the short time we are here. I think Charleston, South Carolina is our next step.”
TO BE CONTINUED…PART XVI