For Paul and Debbie it was meant to be the happiest time of their lives. A small village wedding in front of their family and friends, followed by a quiet honeymoon in Devon.
Not everyone had been happy to see them together. A woman from their past refused to accept it. Her actions over the previous year had ended in tragedy, and had almost broken the happy couple apart.
Now, away from it all in a picturesque log cabin, Paul and Debbie look forward to time spent alone together... But she has found out where they are, and she will stop at nothing to make sure that the marriage is over… forever.
But Huntswood Cove isn't just a beautiful Devonshire fishing town, it has its own secret. Recently, people have begun to disappear, only to turn up dead in suspicious circumstances. The locals begin to question what is going on. Soon everything strange points to the abandoned house in the woods. The house that nobody wants to talk about.
Jim Ody delivers an original mind-bending thriller with hints of both humour and fantasy in 'The Place that Never Existed'. A honeymooning couple are staying in a secluded cabin in Devon, but when people from the local fishing village start to go missing, questions are asked. – Marissa Farrar
"A fabulous, fascinating read that held me captured, and I cannot recommend it high enough."– Amazon Review
"Jim Ody is a brilliant story-teller, drip-feeding his readers just enough information to keep them intrigued as they devour each chapter without spoiling the grand finale. I can't wait to read more of his books!"– Amazon Review
"I had chilling tingles at the back of my neck-especially towards the end- and felt as though I was watching one of those uncomfortable horrors, when nothing terrible has happened...but by the creepy music and camera angles- you know it's about to!
I look forward to reading more from this talented writer."– Amazon Review
The windows were smeared with the dusty sands of time. Loving hands had ceased cleaning here years ago, and the walls held secrets of something that once was, but that time had now lost. The aura of a forgotten house that sat in such beautiful forest surroundings should be idyllic, but somehow there was an unspoken sinister presence that instantly put you on edge—a spine-tingling feeling aroused by one too many horror movies of deserted houses in the woods just like this.
"So what d'you reckon went on in this place?" Debbie said with a twinkle in her eyes, taking in everything she could see in the kitchen, her imagination running wild. This was the first room they had seen, having opened up the back door of what appeared to be an abandoned house and tentatively walking in.
Abandoned, the place was a complete mess. Debbie was torn between the excitement of exploration and the need to get outside and run back to their own cabin for safety. This felt nothing worse than naughty, but in truth they were trespassing, and breaking the law. This wasn't everybody's idea of a honeymoon, but then again, they weren't everybody.
Paul shrugged, looking around at it all. His eyes finally came to rest on his tall blonde wife who looked consumed by the place. "It looks abandoned. But there is something slightly Mary Celeste about it." He was drinking it all up, the mystery stirring his creative juices and almost overwhelming his senses. He was a graphic designer, so every detail was noted down in case a client wanted a website for eerie-meets-the-macabre. More than likely one of his author clients. They were all a little odd.
"Exactly!" Debbie clicked her fingers. "A family running for their lives, never to return!"
Paul grinned, "A guy with an axe walking quickly in pursuit!" They continued, the story growing legs and becoming something spawned by the minds of Stephen King and Tim Burton.
They stood there amongst cobwebs and dirty dishes, in a house in the middle of God-knows-where. A long, looping walk on their cheap-as-chips honeymoon had brought them there. A five-star hotel in the Maldives wouldn't have offered them such adventure. Only the boredom of warm, white sands and a cyan-coloured sea lapping at their feet while holding cocktails—their own paradise. Speedos and bikinis, sunburn and coconut lotion, relaxing and reading the day away. Awful.
The back door of the house wasn't exactly hanging off of its hinges and had at first appeared padlocked. Ever resourceful, Paul had noticed the weak hinges, pulled out a penknife, and was able to unscrew and literally take the door off of its hinges. That all said, it was plainly obvious this was a house, but it had been a long time since someone had considered it home. Spillages were plentiful, and some sort of wildlife had scavenged for food and generally caused mischief—if of course that was ever a conscious consideration to the local woods dwellers.
Paul picked up a magazine that felt brittle to the touch, the smell of the slowly rotting paper releasing into the air once moved. "These things have just been left?" A snapshot of time.
There was something eerie about the clock hands stopped dead on midnight, the batteries faded with energy and died at that exact time. And this train of thought seemed so very apt.
"We should buy it, babe. Let's leave our lives and escape here!" Debbie grinned, though Paul knew that she was joking. It was possible that cleaning products and eggshell paint with the odd splash of accented colour would transform the place, unleashing the warmth that it currently lacked. However, the practicalities rained on any fanciful ideas turning them into just that, exposing it for what it really is: a lot of work stuck out in the middle of nowhere.
All around pots and pans darkened with stubborn stains sat haphazard on the worktop. There was a thick film of dust on top of everything, and even the pictures on the walls could barely be seen as the photos or paintings were hidden with age.
Despite her better judgement, Debbie was the first to leave the kitchen and search further into the unknown. She loved to push herself, entering marathons, and endurance races on almost a monthly basis. Her long blonde hair was often pulled back quickly and efficiently into a ponytail that was often seen bopping to her quick-rhythm behind. Her physical self-confidence gave her a devil-may-care attitude and also scared the life out of Paul. He happily went along with her adventures. A keen mountain-biker and occasional kayaker, he also played five-a-side football so was far from unfit. They were those annoyingly fit people that go to bed at night fully exhausted through physical exertion, rather than due to minor fatigue. Neither were twitchy or scared easily, and so their rational thought processes pushed them on when others may well have retreated and returned home.
This was perhaps their first mistake.
Paul was still looking in the drawers of the kitchen, almost obsessed with trying to timeline the mystery evacuation, when he suddenly noticed something at the corner of his eye. A blink of a small red light.
When he looked up, he saw a camera.
And then Debbie suddenly jogged back in, her eyes wide open.
"What?" Paul shouted.
Debbie turned quickly, grabbing his arm. "There's a black van coming! Quick, let's go!"
"Shit," was Paul's response, as they hastily retreated through the back door, glad they would not be visible from the front of the house. He glanced quickly at the door that he'd propped back up, and thought of the camera…
Outside, the garden was overgrown with a stone wall leading around the side like a half boundary. Together, they ran to it through a gap where it had begun to crumble. With hearts pounding, they ducked down, and hid.
They were deep in a large forest, and they could've made it well within the comfort of the trees, but without a spoken word to each other, they both wondered who the visitors were. Perhaps the house was going to be renovated. Cleaned up and sold at a profit.
Crouching as low as they could, they almost crawled following the wall around the side to a gap. There huddled, they could both look through without fear of being seen.
The van was a large, dark Ford Transit. Three men got out. The two from the front of the van ran to the back to open the doors, and the other one, who looked slightly older with receding white hair, stood erect surveying the surrounding area. Like a lookout.
He knows, they thought. That was such an illogical thought, but he looked like he was almost sniffing the air. Wondering whether or not to go after the prey.
"What is he looking at?" Debbie said in a whisper. "He couldn't look any more suspicious if he were to pull out a gun and unload bags of money."
What came out of the back of the van was not bags of money.
With one man on one end and the other stockier man on the other end, they pulled, and then carried what looked like a stretcher.
A stretcher with a sheet-covered body on it.
"That looks like a body," Paul said, aware of how obvious he must've sounded.
"Shit, babe. What if we were still in there?"
The lone man had rushed in front of them presumably to open the door. But not before pulling something small and black from the back of his jacket.
"I don't like this," Paul added.
A small part of them both was curious to know what was going on, but they once again decided that they shouldn't be there.
And then they heard a scream.
It came from within the house, but it was loud and piercing. It was almost an audio illusion as it sounded much too loud and clear to be from within the house, but there was no one around.
There were definitely three men. So who was the woman?
Was she under the blanket, or was she in the house with them?
Paul and Debbie ran away into the forest like their lives depended on it, but Paul couldn't forget the camera.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
The pulsating red light.
Batteries still with charge. And recording their faces…