The Keeper's Journal

The Keeper's Journal by Deidre Dalton is Book #5 in the Collective Obsessions Saga.


Shannon Larkin is forced to confront demons from her past, while her daughter Angie discovers Colm Sullivan's journal in the old lighthouse keeper's cottage. The diary sheds light on the history between the Larkin and Sullivan families, but may be too late to stop the sisters of Mike Sullivan from wreaking vengeance on the Larkin's for sins and tragedies from the past.

From Chapter Fourteen

July 1995

Larkin City, Maine


AFTER THE MAIDS FINISHED lunch, Shannon retreated upstairs to her bedroom. She was tired all of a sudden, and felt like taking a long, hot bath. The rooms she shared with Scott were a haven where no strangers were allowed, and every so often Shannon craved the privacy they afforded. Just sitting and looking out the French doors was at times tranquil in itself. It gave Shannon a sense of peace, as if she were re-charging herself with the aloneness she frequently desired.

Entering the bedroom through the sitting room, Shannon went first to the French doors and opened them. A fine drizzle settled over the beauty of the estate. She breathed deeply of the fresh air, deciding to clip more roses after her bath for her tea with Mariko. The roses brightened any setting, and the woman surely deserved it. Mariko worked her heart out, and was the absolute soul of discretion. As far as Shannon knew, Mariko never discussed her work at the mansion with anyone, therefore eliminating gossip and heresy. More and more, Shannon valued the loyal quality. She realized the people of Larkin City loved to talk and create stories where there were none, but it was also the end result of enjoying a relatively crime-free town where there was not much to talk about. Hopefully, it would stay that way.

Leaving the French doors open, Shannon went to her closet and pulled out a dark beige dress and dark brown belt. She fished in her shoe rack and retrieved a pair of flat pumps, which she matched to brown knee-high nylons. She was looking forward to taking a bath and dressing up a bit. She thought: "I think I'll take a bubble bath. I haven't done that in ages. And I'll listen to the radio. I think there is some wine in the fridge under the sink, and my book is by the bed. I can relax for a good hour."

She laid out her clean clothes on the bed she shared with her husband. Pulling out the terra cloth band from her hair and letting her mane flow freely down her back, she walked toward the bathroom to start her bath. Shaking her head, she ran her hands through her hair to rid some of the tangles. She headed toward the Jacuzzi-style tub that was in the far left corner of the massive room. The door to the bathroom was open and partially blocked view of the two sinks and the mirrors above them. She turned on the water to fill the tub, adjusting the taps to make the water hot. Satisfied by the comfortable temperature, she walked back toward the door of the bathroom. She reached out her hand to close the door slightly so she could get under the sink to retrieve her bubble bath crystals. Grasping the small box, she straightened and closed the cupboard door. Her eyes glanced over the mirror above the sink, and she froze, the box of bubble bath still clutched in her hand.

Shannon never knew what prompted her to look at the mirror, but her actions rendered her immobile with fear. Her eyes centered on the mirror, unflinching. An overwhelming sense of uneasiness filled her being, and she began to tremble slightly. As if she could not believe her eyes, she kept staring at the mirror, taking in the words and the meaning, over and over again. The fact that the message was left in red lipstick with a drawn heart did not seem to matter at the moment. Only the message mattered:

Greetings, Shannon! Did you think you could ever forget me? Remember, nothing is ever forgotten. Our day is coming soon. Our blood is intermingled, and the time has come.

She continued to stare at the red letters on the mirror. Her ears blocked the sound of running water as the tub overflowed onto the bathroom floor and began seeping toward her slowly. She dropped the box of bubble bath without realizing it, the powder spilling onto the small rug under her feet. A feeling of numbness overtook her, much as it had the other day in the drawing room when she discovered the last batch of roses destroyed in the garden. Her mind was in a whirl as memories crashed into her brain, of a past she thought completely put behind her. But here it was again, intruding upon her, fringing her life. She looked down at her empty hands and wondered idly what happened to the bath crystals. She frowned. She remembered getting them out of the cupboard under the sink, but where were they now?

Unsettled, Shannon remained standing where she was, her eyes going back to the mirror over her sink. Her sink. She and Scott had their own sinks and mirrors in the large bathroom, and it worked quite well over the years. Scott, her husband. "Where is he?" she asked herself silently. "Why isn't he here with me when I feel so strange?" She needed him right now, to tell her that none of this was happening, that everything was fine and normal. But it was not normal. Something - or someone - was making sure she felt the fear and terror of the past, and she could not understand why. Mike was dead, for God's sake. She must be dreaming about the writing on her mirror - it was unreal.

As if to satisfy herself, she reached out and touched the red lettering. Her finger traced the drawn heart, and the redness smeared slightly under the pressure of her fingers. She pulled her hand away and looked down at the stained digits. She felt a well of laughter bubbling inside her. It was real - the color smeared from the mirror onto her fingers. Who was doing this to her, and why? Or was it Mike back from the grave, tormenting her in death as he had in life?

She stared at herself in the mirror, taking in her pasty face and hollow eyes. As with Molly's portrait before, the muted apparition of Mike Sullivan slowly began to emerge. Only this time he was standing behind her instead of Molly, looking into the mirror to meet her disbelieving eyes. He didn't say anything, but continued to stare at her with singular intensity, as if willing her to read his mind.

She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, as if to blot out the sight she saw in the mirror. Maybe if she kept her eyes closed long enough, Mike would disappear along with the red lettering. It was all a dream. She would awaken refreshed and happy, with none of the past haunting her waking moments – such thoughts were for introspection and sometimes slumber, but never for conscious thought and waking hours. And then the ghosts of the past began to seep into her mind, like a fog enveloping Banshee Point, slowly curling their way through every crevice and settling with stubborn proclivity.

Suddenly, Shannon saw herself as she had been: young and unknowing, but with a positive confidence in the future. Her hair was long and black, her eyes dark and unlined - not a care in the world but her family and her job at the mining company. Another image crowded into her mind, this one of a tall, blond-haired boy. He looked more like a young man than a boy, but for some reason the description of boy included itself in her mental image of him. He was smiling, and she was taken aback by his sheer physical beauty and blue eyes. He was visually perfect, as none other she had ever seen in her life. And he regarded her with his eyes, warm and adoring. His face was lambent as he looked upon her slowly and with leisure. This feeling was so familiar, like it was currently happening and not in the past.

But there was another feeling from the past, and it was not as pleasant as the first one. She shuddered, her eyes still closed, as she recalled the other face of this perfect person, with the large, big-tooth smile and innocent stare. The second countenance was sinister and evil. Even his eyes changed as he regarded her coldly. The image was angry with her, almost beyond pure rage. It was a mixture of hatred and desperate love. The odium is what drove the second image along, gave it fuel to continue. Obsession and steely determination. And then the image was talking to her, the tone of his voice clipped and forceful. His mouth was moving. The impression of his lips resembled a snarl from some wild beast. He hated her, but what drove the hatred was a mind certain that destiny involved the acute love he thought he felt for her, and he would not let go.

Shannon came out of her reverie. She opened her eyes and stared at the mirror. The red lettering was still there. It glared at her, as if challenging her to deny its existence, but Mike's ghostly image was gone. She was slowly coming back to reality. In the background she could hear running water and splashing noises. Turning toward the tub, she gasped when she saw the water overflowing onto the floor, traveling as far as her feet. She was standing in a puddle of water. Running over to the tub, she turned off the faucets and then stepped back to survey the damage. She groaned. What was the matter with her?

She paused for a minute, a terrifying thought entering her mind. Was she like her grandfather Patrick Larkin? Had his madness trickled down to her from two generations ago? Was she doomed to end her days hiding in the attic, obsessed with images from the past? "No," she whispered. "I will not be like him. I'm simply tired and saturated with tales of Mike Sullivan," she reasoned with herself. "That's all there is to it."

Walking over to a closet, Shannon pulled out several large towels and slapped them onto the floor, soaking up the water. She got down on her hands and knees to swirl the towels around, trying to gather the moisture. She had to get another stack of towels to completely dry the floor and the bathtub before the room returned to its former look of neatness and elegance. Except now there was a pile of wet towels on the floor.

Feeling a slight panic rise within her, she began to gather the soaking towels, hurrying out of the bathroom and through the sitting room to the corridor of the fourth floor. She looked both ways, assuring herself no one was about, and then scurried down the hall. She stopped at a door near the stairway, entering quickly. The small room contained a washer and dryer and several hanging racks. Each floor of the mansion had a similar laundry room. Shannon dumped the towels inside the washer, pushing them down. Then she went back to her bathroom to gather the remaining wet towels, and these, too, went into the washing machine. She added soap and started the load. Going back to her bedroom, she decided to take a quick shower rather than filling the tub again. She glanced at the clock above her fireplace and widened her eyes. It was after three o'clock. She had to hurry in order to get downstairs to prepare tea for herself and Mariko Woods.

Once again in the bathroom, Shannon stood in front of the mirror. The red writing was still there, mocking her. Someone was playing a trick on her, a cruel trick which forced her to lose her mental balance briefly. She decided not to tell anyone about the message on her mirror, even Scott. She took several sheets of toilet paper and tried to rub out the red writing, but it only smeared. Searching in the cupboard underneath, she found window cleanser and sprayed it liberally on the glass. She reeled more toilet paper off the roll and began scrubbing. The mess finally cleared itself, but to satisfy herself it was completely gone, she repeated the process with the cleanser and the paper. She then replaced the cleaner under the sink, and flushed the paper down the toilet. She cleaned the bubble bath from the floor, and returned the container to its place under the sink.

She took a quick shower. She dressed in the clothes she had laid out on her bed, and applied a smidge of blush to her pale cheeks. She slipped on her shoes, and then walked over to the open French doors. The rain was still a steady mist, and it had become cooler. She stepped back and shut the doors. Taking a deep breath, she left the bedroom and made her way into the corridor again. She closed her bedroom door and locked it, putting the key in the pocket of her dress. She looked up and down the hall. There was no sound, no movement. She glanced through the large windows in the long corridor, now gleaming from the recent cleaning. The darkened skies and rain seemed much more spectacular from her vantage point. She stared at the sight for a long moment. She felt herself slipping away again, as if she were going to relive something from the past once more, but she was not ready to go there again.

Turning, she walked down the corridor toward the stairs. She stopped at the laundry room door and went inside. She put the towels from the washer into the dryer, setting the time for two hours. She would take care of the towels later, after tea and before dinner. No one would know what happened - except, of course, the person playing tricks on her.

As she descended the stairs to the main floor, Shannon listened as the sounds of thunder rumbled and the rain became heavier. Her mood was strange. She was no longer frightened, but she was leery of reliving another memory from her past. It was unnerving. She was afraid the sojourns back to when Mike was alive would start becoming more and more frequent, and she was determined to fight it with all of her mental strength. It had simply gotten away from her this afternoon, but she would not let it happen again. She would not let Mike Sullivan control her from the grave.

But how could she control human hands playing tricks on her? Frowning, she stepped into the foyer of the mansion. She would just have to be more careful, more watchful. Trust no one, tell no one. Smoothing down her hair, Shannon continued across the foyer to the door that led to the kitchen. She made up her mind, and for the moment it pacified her, pushing everything else she experienced today into the background.

After she left the foyer, the thunder struck across the sky once more, bringing with it a fresh torrent of rain. The foyer fell into dimness as clouds passed overhead. It was a typical summer storm. It would pass, like all other seasons. Like all other memories, the past had a way of renewing itself - over and over again.


THE KEEPER'S JOURNAL ©Deidre Dalton. All rights reserved.

"The Keeper's Journal" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "The Keeper's Journal" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.