The Evil Inside Page 1


The boy stood naked in the middle of the road.

Sam Hall’s headlights caught him there, frozen in position, like a deer. He was covered in something slick, and it dripped down his flesh. It looked reddish, like blood, as if the kid had run off the set of a horror movie after being drenched in buckets of the stuff.

Sam slammed his foot on the brake pedal, grateful for once that his years with Mahon, Mero and Malone had given him the ability to afford the new Jaguar with the stop-on-a-dime brakes.

Even then, the car pulled to a halt just inches before the boy.

Swearing softly beneath his breath and puzzled beyond measure, Sam jumped out of the car. “Hey, what the hell are you doing there, son?”

The boy didn’t move, didn’t seem to realize that he’d nearly been roadkill. He just shook as he stood there. Summer had recently turned to fall, and the air had a sharp nip, typical for Massachusetts at this time of year. Tree-laden tracts lined the road; the old oaks seemed to bend and moan with the breeze, while multicolored leaves danced on the road and swept around the scene as if they, too, were deeply disturbed.

The boy didn’t acknowledge Sam or look at him.

Again Sam swore softly. There was obviously something really wrong, though this kid couldn’t have been injured severely and still be able to stand as he was.

He couldn’t have lost that amount of blood and still be conscious.

Was it really blood…couldn’t be.

Either way, Sam couldn’t leave him in the middle of the road.

He looked at the new Jag he really loved, with the leather seats he also loved, and walked around to his trunk and found the beach blanket he’d picked up on his recent drive to the Florida Keys. It was sandy, but it would warm the kid.

He returned quickly, but the kid hadn’t run off, much less moved. “Are you hurt?” he asked quietly.

He received no response.

“Here, here, you’re going to have to get into my car,” Sam said, approaching the boy with the blanket. “We’ll get you to a hospital.”

Sam wrapped the blanket around him. “Sorry about the sand,” he said.

The kid looked to be somewhere between fifteen and seventeen, but underdeveloped. He was painfully thin. His eyes were huge and brown in the lean contours of his face. His chest was devoid of hair, so most of the blood had slid down his chest.

The temperature seemed to be around forty degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn’t freezing, but the kid shouldn’t be exposed to this long.

Sam intended to get him into the car. And yet, as he stood there, trying to be compassionate while saving his wool coat from the sticky red substance that looked like blood, he suddenly froze.

It didn’t just look like blood—it was blood.

Denial rushed through his mind.

But it was blood, no denying it.

Pig’s blood, cow’s blood…hell, rabbit’s blood.

But something told Sam that it was not.

He drew the blanket off the boy and turned him around, seeking an injury that might have caused that amount of blood.

But he didn’t find any. If he had, the boy wouldn’t have been standing upright. He wouldn’t have been breathing. He’d have been dead from a wound like that.

He’d already wrapped the blanket around the kid. No undoing that.

And if he could, would he leave the kid there shivering with nothing?

Still standing in front of the boy, who didn’t even reach up to hold the blanket in place, he fumbled in his pocket for his cell phone and hit 911. An operator with a droning voice asked him what his emergency was.

“My name is Samuel Hall. I was driving into Salem when I nearly hit a young man in the road. He’s covered in blood. It doesn’t appear to be his blood, but I can’t be certain that he isn’t injured. He’s standing on his own, and doesn’t seem in any way to be too weak to do so, but he’s nonresponsive. He may be in shock. Can you get someone out here—fast?” He looked around and quickly gave his position as best he could. Hell, it was a quiet backwoods road. He’d opted to take IA north from Boston, but had turned off early. The dark, quiet road through the trees had seemed a soothing path for his first visit home in a long time.

“Stay calm now, Mr. Hall,” the operator told him. “I’ll have a car out to your position immediately. Patrolmen are in the vicinity. It won’t be long. You’re sure the young man isn’t bleeding? If so, you must stanch the flow of blood. Stay calm. Are you doing all right?”

He hesitated for the fraction of a second, staring at the phone, his mind racing. He thought of the horrors he had witnessed in the military, and he thought of the crime-scene photos he’d studied as a criminal attorney.

“Ma’am,” he said, his voice even and strong, “I’m about as calm as a dead Quaker. But you need to get someone out here fast. I’m going to suggest you send an investigator, because I have a feeling this might be human blood, and I don’t want to compromise any more evidence than I already have by putting my blanket around the boy.”

“Of course, sir. Please remain on the line. And do your best to remain calm.”

“If you tell me to remain calm one more time, I’m going to implode and become consumed by spontaneous combustion—”

“There’s already a car on the way. Sir, you just have to remain calm. This is Salem, Massachusetts, sir, and we are moving into the Halloween season now, you know. You may be the victim of prank. Now, stay on the line, and remain calm, Mr. Hall.” She gasped suddenly, her well-learned rhetoric failing her for a moment. “Oh, you’re the Sam Hall—”

He heard the sound of a siren then. “They’re here” is all he said. “Thanks.” He hit the end icon on his phone.

A patrol car pulled up on the road in front of him, and the glare of its lights met and mingled with the Jag’s headlights, almost blinding him for a minute. Two uniformed officers exited from either side of the car, guns in position.

“He’s not armed!” Sam called. “He’s—he’s in shock. He needs medical attention.”

“An ambulance is on the way,” the driver called out. “And Detective Alden. I radioed him on my way out.”

Alden? He wondered if it was his old friend John. Puritan names still abounded here, and John Alden and he had been on the football team together. John had always wanted to be a cop, a detective, actually. He must have worked his way up through the ranks.

The patrolmen walked forward, slowly holstering their guns as they saw that the shaking youth carried no weapon and that Sam seemed nonthreatening, as well.

“Patrolman Nathan Brewster,” one said, introducing himself. “And my partner, Robert Bishop.”

Sam nodded. “Samuel Hall,” he said, but the patrolmen were just staring at the boy. They glanced at each other uneasily.

“Yeah, yeah, Detective Alden is on his way. Any minute now,” Brewster said, almost as an afterthought.

“What’s going on?” Sam asked. The two were behaving curiously. They had holstered their weapons but appeared ready to spring for them again at any second.

Neither touched the boy. Neither spoke to him. The kid was shaking harder and harder, despite the blanket Sam had set around his shoulders. Neither did the boy make any attempt to hold the blanket to his bony frame.

Again, the two exchanged glances. “We’re not really at liberty to say, sir.”

“Fine, well, I think we have to get him into a heated car, or he’ll die of exposure pretty soon,” Sam said. True or not, he couldn’t bear watching the shocked youth stare wide-eyed at nothing and shake anymore.

But before the patrolmen were compelled to respond, the sound of sirens suddenly seemed to grow to an alarming pitch. First on the scene was an unmarked car. A grim, solid-looking man of about fifty in a worn woolen coat and plaid sweater exited the driver’s side of the car and strode quickly toward them.

Plainclothes cop. Detective, Sam thought. He hoped it was John.

And it was.

But unlike the others, he didn’t pull a weapon. He hurried forward, passing between the patrolmen and Sam and the youth. He didn’t look at Sam, but at the boy, and his expression wasn’t authoritarian or harsh, but sad.

“Malachi,” he said. “Good God, Malachi, you’ve done it now.”

“Excuse me. He’s shivering. He’s freezing. He’s in shock. John? It’s Sam—Sam Hall.”

John Alden turned and looked at Sam.


“I was on my way to the folks’ place. I nearly hit the boy. He was just standing there, in the road. Covered in blood.”

“Sam,” Alden repeated.

He looked as if he was about to say good to see you or something to that effect, but in the road with a blood-splattered boy, it just wasn’t appropriate.

“John, this kid needs help. I think he’s in shock,” Sam repeated.

John Alden nodded and indicated, with the cast of his head, the ambulance that had arrived. “Yeah, he’ll get medical attention. And he’s in shock, you say? He should be. He just hacked his family to death.”


Lexington House.

There it stood, on a cliff by the water. It might have been a postcard or a movie poster, and it was as eerie as ever—a facade that graced the darkest horror movie. Its paint was chipping, the exterior was gray and it had been weathered through the centuries by icy winds ripping in off the Atlantic Ocean. The ground-floor windows seemed like black eyes; the second-floor windows might have been startled brows, half covered by the eaves of the roof.

Oddly enough, Lexington House had always remained in private hands. From its builder—the Puritan Eli Lexington—to its recent owner—the now deceased Abraham Smith—it had always found a new buyer after each and every one of its tragedies. People had once known its early history, of course, but that had been lost amid the witchcraft trials that scarred American history and continued to fascinate the social sciences. And when Mr. and Mrs. Braden had been brutally murdered two centuries later, in the 1890s, the world knew that their son had been guilty of the crime. But the legal system had worked for the killer this time, and he’d been acquitted. He and his sister had promptly sold the house to another private party. Eighty years later it had become a bed-and-breakfast, and then it had been purchased by Abraham Smith, who had longed for the property on its little cliff, segregated from all but a few neighbors.

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