March, 2007 - ISBN 978-1-59426-991-2
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Author's backlist: D. Musgrave
Her scream echoed through the valley. Emily hit the kill switch on the tiller as fast as she could. The tines jerked to a stop, but not before more bones were pulled up by the plow. She jumped to the side, trying not to step on the skull that rolled out on top of the ridge of dirt. When the first long, white bone emerged, she couldn't believe her eyes. When she saw another, and then another, she knew something was wrong. But it wasn't until she saw the human skull pop out of the soil that she believed it was anything more than the remains of a dead animal.
All she could do was look at the skull, staring back up at her. There was a large hole in the forehead that looked as if something sharp and hard had stabbed through the head. Dirt was packed into the eye sockets and worms oozed out of the holes in the cheeks. It looked as if it was smiling at her, but that couldn't be. There was no skin or hair left on it. She reached out with the toe of her boot and flipped the skull over. The back was caved in. It looked as if something hard had bashed in the back of the head. Suddenly, she felt cold, even in the blazing summer sun. She rubbed her arms, but still she shivered.
Crouching down, she reached for the skull. When her fingertips made contact with the cold bone, a loud rolling yell rang in her ears. Snatching her arm back, she fell on her backside and thought she saw the skull move. She reached out again and touched the skull. This time there was no sound.
Shaking her head, Emily climbed to her feet. She told herself that she was being stupid. Just because the locals believed that the ghosts of the Cherokee warriors who died in the Blood Creek Massacre haunted her land, didn't make the stories true. It was just a ghost story. No superstitious tripe was going scare her off the land her family had owned for generations.
Emily knew, all too well, that if anyone found out about the bones, archeologists would be crawling all over her place. She couldn't risk letting a bunch of strangers dig up her land just so they could discover that the bones were from some unlucky cowboy who'd probably fallen off his horse and cracked his head open.
She went to the backside of the trailer she was living in while her house was being built and grabbed a shovel and a wheelbarrow. She came back to the spot she'd picked out as her garden and put all the bones, and the skull in the wheelbarrow. In minutes, she had removed all the bones and hid them under the pile of scrap lumber the construction crew had made. They were planning to burn the scrap pile on Monday, and with it, her problem.
Deciding she was hungry, she went into her cramped trailer to make a sandwich. Sitting at her little table, she looked at the garden and wondered if those bones were male, and if so, were they from a Cherokee warrior? Though she didn't believe in the tales of the ghostly Indian braves wandering her land, she knew that the massacre had happened in the valley, just not on her family's land. Her family had always said that it happened on the other side of Blood Creek.
After finishing her peanut butter sandwich, Emily went back to work in her garden. She managed to finish tilling the soil and didn't find any more bones. In her mind, it proved her family's story that the massacre didn't happen on their side of the creek. Maybe she'd found bones that were from something other than the massacre--at least that's what she was determined to believe.