Did you miss Chapter One?
From Third Times a Crime
I was the first one out the door, flying toward the rickety
staircase that led to the first floor.
Scott’s voice called out behind me, “Georgia, no! Don’t go. Hold
up! Hold up.”
I ignored him, racing down the windy, spiral staircase, holding the
banister to ensure I wouldn’t fall.
“Let them pass!” Scott yelled.
More footsteps sounded behind me, crashing against the rotting
wood of the old stairs. Than an eerie sound of fluttering wings,
followed by high-pitched screams.
The blackbirds have broken through the window.
It suddenly sounded as if a colony of bats had infiltrated the castle.
Scott was right behind me, he reached out to grab me, his hand
skimming my jacket. “Georgia!”
I jumped to the bottom of the last stair and bounded toward the
front doors, my palms pressing them open.
Scott reached me and gripped my arm. “Don’t go out there, it
could be dangerous.”
“And stay in here with the birds?” I asked.
Dr. Arch barreled past us. “Let me see, let me see! This is
extraordinary,” he said, as he raced outside into the gardens.
The fresh air buffeted my face as I followed Dr. Arch outside. The
sky was dark, covered with a full blackbird migration, swarms of
them passing the castle. On the grassy area in front of the castle were
literally hundreds of dead blackbirds, as if they been steamrolled by
an imaginary vehicle. Behind me, Scott and Karen Kenley emerged
from the castle, followed by several more cast, crew, and cameramen.
Scott laced his fingers through mine and pulled me back, away
from the carnage. “Holy cow! This is terrible. I’ve never seen anything
The cameramen began to shoulder their equipment and film the
disaster. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Cheryl jumping up
and down. This would be gold in her promo.
“What’s going on?” Karen, the FBI profiler, asked.
“Blackbird migration,” Scott said.
Growing up in the country, I knew that birds, or other animals,
sensed things better than us humans. There was definitely something
going on in our environment that was cause for alarm.
“This is a bad omen,” Ashley, the paranormal docent, said.
The priest, Father Gabriel, agreed, “Yes, a bad omen. A sign of evil.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Scott replied.
“It’s not,” Father Gabriel insisted.
The ghost hunter, Jack, laughed heartily. “Well, let’s see if we can
figure out what’s happening here first.”
Both men squared off against each other, glaring. I looked from
one to the other, preparing to stop their quarrel.
Scott put a hand on my shoulder, stopping me from interfering.
“Should we go back inside?” he asked. “They’ll probably need help
clearing the birds out of there.”
I hated to leave, but followed him back into the castle anyway,
which despite the awful squawking of the trapped birds, seemed quiet
relative to the pandemonium outside. We climbed the rickety stairs
“What is it supposed to mean, do you think?” I asked Scott. “All
“I don’t know but it sure is creepy,” he admitted.
“Definitely,” I said.
We reached the second floor and darted past three birds that were
flying down the hallway. Scott tore off his jacket and swatted at the
birds matador-style to get them down the stairs and out the front
door to freedom.
“I think we’ll be clearing birds for days,” I said.
No sooner were the words out of my mouth than another few
birds flapped out of the library, one going for my dark hair as if I were
a bush. I ducked, covering my head with my hands, as Scott batted it
away from me. The other birds somehow found their way toward the
open stairs and out of the castle.
“O . . . men,” I said in an exaggerated way to Scott, who gave me his
classic sideways grin.
“If the sprits don’t get us, the birds will.”
“Maybe Alfred Hitchcock is roaming these hallways,” I joked.
Inside the library, the psychic, Bert, was still on his knees and the
historian lady, Martha, was laid out flat on the floor. Only one crew
member remained in the room and he was attending to Martha,
fanning her and holding her wrist. Someone had propped a rolled-up
jacket under her head.
“Anyone called 911?” Scott asked.
The crew member looked up. “Oh, that’s not necessary. She’ll
come to in a minute,” he said. “Her pulse is strong.”
The psychic startled when he heard us. He grabbed my arm.
“Georgia, I had a vision of you.”
“Of me?” I asked. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I
pulled my arm out of his grip.
“Yes,” he said dramatically. “You will have a visitor.” His face was
grim as he said it. Even though I really don’t fancy myself a believer,
goose bumps rose on my forearms.
“What kind of visitor?” Scott asked.
Before the psychic could reply, Cheryl bustled into the room.
“What a scene outside. I’m glad we’ve captured everything,” she
said, unable to contain the giddiness from her voice.
Scott laughed. “Yeah. It’ll make a great promotion commercial.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Oh!” She turned toward me. “I meant to tell
you. Your father and Becca will be joining us for dinner tonight.”
Relief flooded me. I looked at the psychic. “I guess that’s my visi‐
tor,” I said.
Cheryl and my father had been dating since they first met on the
reality TV set of Love or Money, where my father had joined me for
moral support. Right now, Dad was in the middle of his harvest
season, so he’d stayed behind to work. Ordinarily, Scott and I would
have helped him with the harvest, but because of the production time‐
line, my best friend, Becca, had agreed to help him in our stead.
“Who’s Becca?” Bert asked.
“My assistant,” Cheryl said. “Speaking of which”—she poked the
crew member attending the historian on the shoulder—“what’s going
on here? Do we need a medic?”
He shook his head. “No, she’s going to be fine. It’s just going to
take a few minutes. I think I have some smelling salts in my kit. If
you’ll stay with her, maybe I can get them.”
Cheryl waved a hand, dismissing him. He bolted out of the room,
but before he could return, the historian’s eyes fluttered open.
She struggled to raise her head.
I dropped to my knees and held her hand. “It’s all right,” I said.
“You fainted. You’ll feel better in a moment.”
She blinked rapidly. “The birds, the awful pounding. It was terri‐
ble, wasn’t it?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said. The migration was largely over now, but the wind
howled through the broken window drowning out my words.
The historian shivered.
I patted her arm. “You have some time to rest. We’re done filming
for the day and there’s going to be a crew dinner tonight.”
Cheryl nodded. “Cast and crew dinner in about an hour. You all
can take a break. I’m going to find some crew to clean the birds out of
I helped Martha to her feet. Scott took one arm and I took the
other, and together we walked her down the precarious steps.
Father Gabriel was on his way in from the outside. “Martha,” he
said. “Are you all right now, dear?”
“Yes,” she greeted him. “I don’t know what came over me. I found
the whole thing rather frightful.” He took her from us and escorted
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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