When Liz Austen lands a role in a summer production of "Annie" in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, she learns that an upcoming vote on the town's future may ruin its charm and tradition. She also meets Emily, who desperately needs a good friend to help her discover her own strength and courage.
Liz and her friend Makiko find themselves investigating the legend of the St. Andrews Werewolf, a series of arsons and a mysterious mansion on an island where time has stood still. Most importantly, they learn to search for the truth hidden beneath the surface.
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“Beware the moon.”
I looked at it glowing above, vivid in the starry night. I spun three times on my heel and touched my right ear. “Graveyard monsters roam on nights like this,” I said to the woman beside me.
Her name was Fran, and I was her guest for the summer in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. She was a childhood friend of my Mom’s. Fran owned some sea-side cabins that she rented to tourists. With real generosity, she had helped me get a role in the local stage production of the musical Annie and offered me the free use of a cabin.
“You’re afraid of monsters?” Fran asked. “But you seem brave, and, I understand, you are a very good detective, too.”
“Some things just give me the creeps, Fran. I can’t help it! Besides, I am slightly superstitious.”
“But you suggested this walk, just to see the Burying Ground. It doesn’t add up.”
“I can’t resist, Fran. I love mysteries and mysterious places. You told me the town cemetery is hundreds of years old, right? It’s called the Loyalist Burying Ground, right? Which means it’s ancient, and full of old tombstones and maybe some ghosts. I’ve got to see it, just to satisfy my curiosity.”
“You know what they say. Curiosity killed...”
I raised my hand. “I’ve heard that one before.”
She chuckled. “I’m glad you’re here, Liz.”
I'd liked Fran from the moment we met at the airport in nearby Saint John. She’s fifty, with big eyes, and hair that’s beginning to streak with white. I like her style and the confidence she has in herself.
Driving to St. Andrews, Fran told some amazing stories. Like the one about last winter in New Zealand, when she was in a chopper that power-dove into the mouth of a volcano. Next summer, she’s going north to search for artifacts with a team from the University of New Brunswick.
I fell in love with St. Andrews immediately. Only a few thousand people live in the town, which is sometimes called St. Andrews-by-the-Sea. The first settlers arrived when the War of Independence broke out south of the border. They didn’t want to be part of the American revolution. Some brought their houses on barges, and a few actually had slaves. They were called Loyalists, and they were so loyal to the English monarch that they named thirteen of their streets after the kids of King George III and Queen Charlotte.
As we walked through the town, I glanced at some of the lovely old houses and churches that lined the sixty perfect blocks laid out by the Loyalists. I felt as if I was starring in Gone With the Wind.
“Fran,” I said, “what are the signs in people’s yards? Some say YES: MALL and some MALL: NO WAY. So far, I’ve counted seven YES and five NO WAY.”
“There’s a big argument happening here, Liz. You see all these heritage houses? Well, some people don’t want anything changed. They’re fighting to protect the charm of our town.
“A company wants to build a big mall at the north end of town. We’re talking a huge place, with hundreds of stores and an indoor amusement park like at the West Edmonton Mall. The mall would have a Loyalist period theme. I heard that they plan to call the triple-loop roller coaster the Paul Revere Rocket.”
“Sounds great! Tourists would probably come a long way.”
“That’s the idea, Liz. There’d be a hotel, and a marina for yachts. Money would pour into town. There’d be lots of jobs for the locals.”
“Then why the NO WAY signs?”
“Our postcard-perfect town would become an eye-sore. In Maine, some towns like this have become a tourist haven, with Kandy Korner shops, mini-golf, traffic jams, polluted water - the whole bit.”
“I can see what you mean. The charm of this place would be ruined!”
“Not just the charm, but a whole way of life. A new bylaw has been proposed that would allow the mall to be built.”
“I figure you’re against the mall, Fran. Correct?”
She nodded. “Absolutely! But only the members of the Civic Trust get to vote. The Trust is a small group of citizens with the task of protecting our town’s heritage values. They’ll vote next week."
“How’s it likely to come out?” I asked. "Have any polls been done?"
“It seemed at first the bylaw might be defeated, but now it seems like the vote will be very close. Some people on the Civic Trust are in a terrible dilemma. They’re against the mall, but have family members who desperately need work.”
“That’s going to be a difficult decision. I’m glad to be here for the drama!” I smiled at Fran. “It’s great talking to you.”
“To you, too. I always enjoy a good conversation,” Fran replied with a wink as we strolled, enjoying the warm summer night.
“Look,” I exclaimed. “That’s got to be the Burying Ground!”
Trees grew high above the old graveyard, throwing dark shadows across the tombstones that leaned in every direction, like teeth in a dentist’s nightmare. There was moss and tangled grass, and a spiked fence.
A feeling of fear washed over me. “I’ve seen it,” I said. “Lets go home.”
“Sounds good to me,” Fran replied, turning around. “I’ll fix us hot chocolate.”
“Yikes!” I stared at the old cemetery. “I just saw some kind of monster!” I pointed to a patch of moonlight among the trees. Something bolted through it. In the darkness, it looked like some kind of large animal that ran on two legs, not four. “Come on,” I whispered , “let’s find out what it is.”
We opened the metal gate of the cemetery and moved cautiously down a path between the graves. My heart was doing triple time. I strained my eyes against the darkness. Among the trees, I sensed a presence, something that was alive.
“Maybe...” My voice trembled. “Maybe ...”
Then I heard it. An unearthly sound. Starting as a low cry, it rose to a long, low sound like a terrible moaning. It made my hair stand on end.
Fran and I stared at each other.
“What was that?” we both cried.
The moaning died down. For a brief moment, all was quiet.
“Fran, look! Across the cemetery!”
I could see the creature watching us from the dark cover of the trees. All I could make out was its hulking shape.
“It’s some sort of creature, half-man, half-animal,” I screamed. "I’m sure of it!”
“It can’t be, Liz.” Fran took a few paces forward, trying to see into the shadows.
“Didn’t you hear the sound it made?”
Before Fran could reply, the creature sprang into the deep shadows and was gone. “Come on, Fran,” I cried. “Let’s follow it!”
Racing past tombstones and bushes, we crossed the Burying Ground and reached the shadowed trees.
There was no sign of the creature. Beyond the grave-yard, I could see moonlight on a street of homes with big yards. Lights glowed softly in all the houses but one. It stood close by us, beside the Burying Ground.
“Is that an abandoned house?” I asked Fran.
“Maybe the creature’s hiding inside,” I suggested. We dashed toward the door of the abandoned house. Suddenly, a ball of fire exploded out of a window, sending us fleeing to the road for safety. Flames began licking up the wall.
“We’ve got to call 911!” Fran exclaimed. "The arsonist has struck again.”
“Yes . . . I haven’t had a chance to . . .”
Just then, we heard an engine start and saw an old van pull out from behind the burning house and disappear. Behind it was a small trailer. The left tail-light was out.
Fran raced to the nearest house. I waited on the street, watching the fire take hold on one side of the house. In the upper window, I noticed a cat trapped inside.
I ran swiftly to the house. The door was slightly ajar and opened easily. Smoke was spreading in clouds across the ceiling. Covering my nose with my jacket, I ran up the stairs fast and searched for the cat. It was sticking its nose out the crack in the window for air, meowing.
Grabbing it up, I opened the window. Smoke rushed past me into the night. As sirens wailed in the distance, I climbed down a sturdy rose trellis to the ground. People were running to watch the fire, some of them in their dressing gowns.
The cat squirmed out of my arms and ran into the night.
“Thank you for rescuing that kitty,” a woman said to me. She had a soft voice and a gentle face. Standing next to her was a dark-haired young girl.
“Emily and I were out walking when the fire started. We saw the kitty, but we didn’t know what to do. We felt so helpless. We both love cats.” She touched her daughter’s hair.
“You’re in the musical with me, aren’t you?” I asked the girl. “I saw you at the cast meeting today.”
Emily nodded and moved closer to her mother.
“I heard you singing. You are truly excellent.” I grinned at her.
Emily smiled shyly. Her large eyes looked at me, but she didn’t say anything.
Her mother stared at her watch. “Oh goodness, look at the time! We’ll be in trouble at home with my husband. We’re late. Come, Emily.”
“Good night,” Emily said quietly. “Thank you for rescuing the poor little kitty.”
"It’s safe now,” I said.
I watched Emily hurry away with her mother. I felt an ache inside my stomach. There seemed to be a real sadness in Emily.
By now, a big crowd had gathered to watch the fire. I searched through the mass of people, looking for Fran, and found her talking to a man with a kind face, horn-rimmed glasses and thinning brown hair. He smiled at me. I recognized him from the big meeting we had at the theatre for all the cast and crew.
“You’re acting in Annie, aren’t you?” I asked.
“That’s right. I play FDR. That’s short for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States. He often summered near here.” He extended his hand. “My name is Arthur Dodge, but you can call me FDR. It helps me stay in character.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I’m kind of nervous. This is my first big show.”
FDR smiled. “I’m sure you’ll do just fine.” He turned to Fran. “As I was saying, you have a point. But I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions.”
“This is the third fire in two weeks. It’s horrendous.”
“I’m sure the police are investigating it. If you’ll excuse me, I have things to do.”
Fran watched as FDR wandered away from the crowd. I was about to ask her to tell me more about the arsonist, when something caught my eye.
“Talk about lifestyles of the rich and famous!”
A black limousine came out of the night, and glided towards the fire. Police officers saluted the limo as it purred to a stop. I went closer, watching as a smoky glass window slid down. Inside was a distinguished-looking man about sixty. What little hair he had on his head was grey and neatly trimmed. On his upper lip, he had a bristly, grey moustache. His eyes were large and intelligent. He studied the fire for a moment, then ordered his driver to move on.
The long, black car disappeared into the night.
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Back to the list of Eric's books Back to Eric's Home Page THE ST. ANDREWS WEREWOLF. Copyright 2012 by Eric Hamilton WilsonAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced inany manner whatsoever without prior written permission except in thecase of brief quotations embodied in reviews.