Description: One place. One family. One mystery. Orlin Wood.
In 1788, Zechariah Orlin stumbled out of the forest and collapsed in front of a hunting party. That moment marked the beginning of a cursed family, and the legend of Orlin Wood. From phantom voices and mysterious apparitions, to unexplained disappearances and unearthly scenes that cause the bravest of men to question their courage, Orlin Wood is a place that will haunt you.
That is, should you dare to enter.
A new collection of short horror from the author of The Rivers Webb.
Excerpt: As long as I can remember, Grandma would tell me about Orlin Wood. I can recall hundreds of stories about strange visitors appearing out of the woods on dark nights, only to disappear back into the morning fog; or over-confident adventurers setting off on hunting trips under a blood moon, running afoul of things unknowable and unspeakable. Mostly, though, Grandma’s stories were about family. Our family had lived on the edge of Orlin Wood for over 275 years, and we’ve had more adventures, mishaps, disasters, and just plain weird things happen than any other family in the county. Not really surprising, since the woods were named after my family.
My great-great-great-great grandfather, Zechariah, was the first Orlin. At least, he’s the first Orlin any of us know about. The way my grandmother tells the story, it was back in 1788, when he came stumbling out of the woods on the dreariest day of the year, right about dusk, and collapsed in front of a group of hunters. Since no one recognized him, and he was far too incoherent to make any sense, there was a bit of an argument as to what to do with him. But the eldest member of the party, a Mr Tennison, was a devout Christian who had lived a very severe and uncompromising life of service, and insisted that they make a litter and carry the man to his farmhouse.
For three days, the mystery man drifted in and out of sleep, muttering a single word, “Orlin,” over and over again. They could only assume that he was trying to communicate his name, so the family took to referring to him as Mr. Orlin. The man had a strange effect on people, even in his delirium. He seemed to extract a feeling of compassion and good will from those who lingered by his bedside—particularly, Elizabeth, the farmer’s youngest daughter. Since her older brothers and sisters all had work to do around the farm, Mr. Orlin’s care fell mainly into her gentle hands.
She watched over him as a mother watches over her firstborn child, and when, on that fourth day, he finally opened his eyes and the light of intelligence held firm, she burst into tears of joy. As my grandmother says, and she knows an awful lot about this sort of thing, “you can’t take care of someone and not love them, at least a little bit.” Sure enough, by the time Mr. Orlin woke, Elizabeth had fallen in love, and nothing—not even his personality—would sway her from it.
The odd thing was, upon waking, Mr. Orlin was no more well informed about who he was than the rest of them. He seemed to know a good deal about carpentry, farming, hunting, and even tracking; and what’s more, he seemed to have had, at one point, a fairly thorough Christian upbringing, since he was able to discuss the Bible in depth with Mr. Tennison. But he could not, for the life of him, remember where he had learned any of it.
It was Mr. Tennison that gave him the name Zechariah. He thought it was a fitting name for a good Christian man. The two of them spent a great deal of time together, hunting, fishing, talking about the Bible. And, when they would sit at table in the cool of the evening, Elizabeth was always certain to place herself as close to Zechariah as possible, asking about their day, listening with rapt fascination, regardless how mundane the answer was.
Check it out on the Untreed Reads website: Orlin Wood