The Empty Room
by Sarah J Clemens
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Thriller, Mystery
Rain soaked and dreary, it was a 1901 abandoned Victorian that newlyweds Dean and Elizabeth Montgomery hoped would fulfill their dreams of a new start in life, even if the town of Eastbrook, Maine was nestled under a constant blanket of fog.
The first neighbor the couple meets dashes those hopes when he raises a bizarre question: what happened to the last person who lived in their house? A cryptic question, but nothing to worry about. At least not until the couple looked under the floorboards inside the house.
Under mounting pressure from the residents of Eastbrook to stop questioning the past, Dean and Elizabeth are driven deeper into the history of the house, the town, and their neighbors. When the couple discovers what happened in Eastbrook, keeping the secret could save their lives, but uncovering the truth might be worth the risk.
What happened inside The Empty Room is a mystery until the last page. A gripping psychological suspense, the story takes readers on a cat-and-mouse game where some secrets are better off hidden.
The two were quite uncertain as to why it seemed so difficult to step inside the room. They
had trampled across every inch of the house and looked through the belongings of a man they had never met, but felt as though they were intruding to even stand outside the door of an empty room.
Dean was a problem solver though and had finally settled on a way to get over that feeling.
As he stood behind Elizabeth, just outside of the door frame, and with his coffee cup still in one hand, he put the palm of his hand on her back and gave a strong push.
She stumbled awkwardly into the room.
“There,” he said proudly as he took a sip. “What do you think?”
“I think that you’re going to have a hard time sleeping tonight,” she replied.
He found it ironic that he had already weighed that possibility before he shoved her, and had still decided to do so. He smiled. “I’m good with that.”
He took a few faltering steps behind her before taking a deep breath and stepping inside
completely. They both looked around and identified the same exact features they had seen the first time they stood outside the door: an entirely empty room with a sheer white curtain covering the only window, now with a new perspective standing inside.
Compared to the rest of the rooms in the house, this room was small. It had a closet on the
left wall and the window on the back wall, which looked out into the backyard. There was
nothing special or unique about the room, except this one wasn’t crammed to the ceiling with personal touches.
Dean and Elizabeth stared at each other as though competing for a prize in a contest, when Dean’s concentration fixated on something else. She followed the direction of his eyes to the wall behind her which had abruptly claimed his attention.
He had only stepped a few feet inside of the room when he eyed something on the east wall behind his wife. As he walked around her, she turned to look. He still clenched his coffee cup tightly in his left hand but reached up his right hand and ran his palm along the wall. Elizabeth stood in silence behind him and waited for an explanation. His hand paused in areas and then continued up and down until he reached the corner of the room.
The wallpaper, which was striped with thick bands of blue and slender bands of green, had
stolen his concept of the English language, and he ignored his wife’s persistent calling of his name.
“Dean? Dean. Dean!” she insisted without a response from him. She approached him from
behind and grabbed ahold of his shoulder and shook him.
He stumbled back upon reality long enough to mumble, “What is that?” he said, half dazed.
Elizabeth’s curiosity had remained occupied on her husband’s behavior until she too caught sight of what he had been eyeing. Covered by the blue and green wallpaper was the faint and somewhat abstract outline of something beneath the paper.
“Go get me something to get this wallpaper down.” The sound of his voice was urgent. He
sat his coffee up on the window sill and ran both hands along the wall.
Elizabeth froze for a moment before turning toward the door. She had just reached the hall
when he called out, “Hey, wait. Look at this. It peels off.”
She turned sharply on her heel and headed back toward him.
“Here, can you help me with this? I’ll grab the top corner,” he said.
Each gripping a piece of wallpaper, they slowly pulled back the sun-faded sheets as it wilted off the wall. The persistent rain and wet weather, along with a poorly insulated window would make for some mold problems later on down the road, but for now, it made the process of removing wallpaper move at a much more rapid speed, and with their joint efforts the paper pulled cleanly off the wall.
The two stood with the now crinkled wallpaper clutched in their hands. Dean released his
grip and dropped the ball of paper. He took a step back from the freshly unveiled wall.
“What on…” Elizabeth’s mouth gaped open and she seemed faced with the same loss of
speech that her husband had experienced moments ago.
The wall, originally painted a now-faded yellow color, was splattered in red. Dean reclaimed the step that he sacrificed an instant earlier and squinted at the wall. The two had questioned the intentions of a man who would leave everything he owned behind and they had possibly found the answer, but now, the question shifted to whether or not they wanted to know.
A completely thought-provoking read that has a huge twist at the end! The story starts off with the happy, perfect couple moving into their mysterious new house. The intrigue layers on as they explore their new residence and it's contents, puzzling over the only empty room in the house. As they venture out into town, the townspeople act just flat out strange and hostile with some pretty odd moments. The characters were very well developed and you can't help but fall in love with the quirky couple and their strong love for each other. The mystery just layers on throughout the story as new secrets are revealed and I was kept on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next. Theres a truly surprising ending that had my jaw dropping to the floor and left my mind racing back through all the strange happenings in the book as enlightenment sunk in. This was a spine-tingling tale that had me completely intriguing and left thinking about the occurrences long after finishing it!
Sarah J. Clemens is the author of the debut mystery novel, The Empty Room. She started writing The Empty Room in 2008 and formed her own imprint in 2016 called Off the Page Publishing.
She started out her professional career working as a news assistant for her local newspaper before finding a passion for the law and pursued an education in criminal justice. In addition to writing fiction, she is also a legal assistant with an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Human Services.
Sarah was born in California and now lives and works in Boise, Idaho. She has the same sarcastic sense of humor as the characters in her books, and she has an unparalleled love for animals.
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