Hey, everyone. We’re coming up on October, the time of the year when I think of ghosts and goblins, bright, full moons, and legends. Even a headless horseman. This week’s WIP Wednesday is both a work in publication and a work in progress.
Several years ago, when I did a First Friday Fiction post each month, I wrote a serial story about two longtime friends, Lauren and Hannah. Lauren taught history at the local high school, and Hannah was the school librarian.
During their summer break, they decided to take an extended road trip. Their first stop was a place called the Sleepy Hollow Inn—not to be confused with the locale in Washington Irving’s novel. However, with a name like you can imagine all sorts of possibilities.
It didn’t take long for the two friends to get caught in the middle of a century-old story. And Hannah’s superstitious nature and curiosity help lead to the solution.
“You’ll be in room 212,” Millie said. “It’s at the end of the hall on the left—one of two rooms with a private bath. We serve dinner at six. There are storms forecast for this evening. We often lose electricity, but don’t worry. We have plenty of candles and oil lamps.”
Millie pressed a vintage desk bell, and a man appeared in the room. He was tall and lanky with long arms and a head that seemed too small for his body. He was exactly how Lauren imagined Ichabod Crane might look. Hannah let out a soft gasp but was quick to cover it with a cough.
“This is Ivan,” Millie said. “He’ll help with your luggage.”
Millie stood. “Shall we all gather in the parlor for dessert and storytime?”
The others stood to follow, but Hannah pulled Lauren aside.
“Did you notice how many were seated at the table?” She whispered.
“I didn’t count.”
“Thirteen. Thirteen at dinner. That’s not good.”
“Reading Agatha Christie again? I hope that’s the reason. Please don’t tell me it’s because you’re superstitious.”
“A person can’t be too careful.”
“You are superstitious. Hannah, this is the twenty-first century. I admit a good old-fashioned ghost story is fun, but I don’t believe walking under a ladder or having a black cat cross my path will bring me bad luck. And I’m not the least bit concerned over the number of people at the dinner table.”
A Visit to Sleepy Hollow will be included in a book of short stories to be published next year. Others in the collection are The Dare and Woman in Black. (Click the links if you’d like to learn more about those stories.)
Originally, I planned for Lauren to be the main character. However, as characters sometimes do, Hannah quickly took center stage. I felt Lauren needed her own story and thought of using Woman in Black as a prequel.
In the meantime, I wrote a short story titled The Keeper’s House, which is included in an anthology titled Macabre Sanctuary. Lauren and Hannah appear in the story with Lauren serving as the main character.
You’ll hear more about Macabre Sanctuary and The Keeper’s House in the upcoming weeks.