Title: The Haunted Purse
Author: Kimberly Baer
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
* FINALIST IN 2021 CENTRAL REGION OKLAHOMA WRITERS NATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN STORY TELLING CONTEST, YA CATEGORY *
That old denim purse Libby Dawson bought at the thrift store isn’t your run-of-the-mill teenage tote. It’s a bag of secrets, imbued with supernatural powers. Strange items keep turning up inside, clues to a decades-old mystery only Libby can solve.
Filled with apprehension and yet intrigued by the mounting pile of evidence, Libby digs for the truth. And eventually finds it. But the story of the purse is darker than she imagined—and its next horrific chapter is going to be all about her.
I moved deeper into the house. Beyond the kitchen, through an arched doorway, was a large dining room furnished with a wooden table and six chairs. The table looked cheap, its surface thin, like a worn-out shoe. A small TV, the old-fashioned cube-shaped kind, sat on a fold-out tray in the corner.
I exited the dining room through a side door and found myself in a hall. I opened a door and saw dirty wooden steps leading downward into the dark. Cool air wafted past me, making its escape, and the smell of damp earth filled my nose. I caught another smell too, subtle but putrid. A broken sewer line? Rotten potatoes? I shuddered and closed the door. No way was I going down those steps.
At the front of the house was a bedroom, its door closed but not locked. It contained a bed covered with a crushed-velvet crimson bedspread, along with a dresser and nightstand. The room had an unoccupied look, like my mother’s room.
The only remaining room downstairs was a tiny bathroom featuring a toilet and sink.
I stepped into the hallway, looking around. This was a two-story house. Where was the staircase to the second floor?
There was one door I hadn’t checked, at the front of the house. I’d assumed that it led to a closet. There was a short, flat metal bar across the edge of the door with a padlock stuck through it but not locked.
I removed the padlock and opened the door. Before me was an enclosed staircase leading to the second floor. My heartbeat quickened. If this door was sometimes kept padlocked, it had to mean there were things upstairs worth hiding.
What kinds of things? What secrets were hidden upstairs?
The staircase was dark. I fished my mini flashlight out of my purse and headed up, each step creaking beneath my feet. The purse was still icy-cold. I could feel it pulsing against my hip as if a disembodied heart was inside, pumping blood to nowhere.
When I reached the top of the stairs, I gasped in revulsion. I had seen this sort of thing on TV shows, but never in person.
The hall was filled with…stuff. You couldn’t even categorize it, because there was a little bit of everything. Boxes, bags, shoes, boots, piles of ladies’ dresses, moldering old magazines, rotting draperies, stacks of newspapers, broken chairs. Chipped knick-knacks and peeling Teflon skillets and wall art and couch pillows and lamps. Handbags and books and window screens and folders bulging with papers. And much more. The stuff was stacked nearly to the ceiling, a teetering Jenga pile of human trappings that made me worry I might be buried alive at any moment. A cleared space maybe a foot wide allowed passage between all the piles of junk.
The upstairs was so different from the downstairs, it seemed like a separate house. The house of a hoarder.
I gritted my teeth and forced myself to go on.
Though the hall went in both directions, I turned left. This passage was slightly wider than the one to the right, giving it a well-traveled feel. I entered the first room I came to. It was probably a bedroom, though if there was a bed in there, it was hidden under stacks of junk. A narrow path led to a wide space in front of a tall chest of drawers. I turned to leave and heard a click from my purse, like the click of a camera.
I saw it as I moved my flashlight toward the purse: the corner of a photograph sticking out of one of the butt pockets. It was a picture of the chest of drawers in this very room.
“Something’s in there?” I said. I started opening dresser drawers. They were all empty.
“I don’t understand,” I said. “You have to give me more.”
The throbbing of the purse had sped up. I heard another click, and the new photo edged up out of the butt pocket like a sheet of paper emerging from a printer.
This picture showed the same chest of drawers, but it had been pulled away from the wall. Behind it I could see the frame of a door.
I grabbed the rear of the chest and tugged. It was a sturdy thing, made of wood, but because it was empty I was able to slide it away from the wall about a foot. Behind it was a door, just as the photo had promised. I turned the knob and pulled.
The room was pitch black. I stepped inside and fumbled for a light switch, and a neon light buzzed on. What I saw was so horrific, it left me paralyzed. I could only stare.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
What makes your featured book a must-read?
A unique concept. A strong plot. A combination of heart and intrigue. With its blend of genres—mystery, paranormal, and contemporary—this YA novel offers a twisty-turny story that’s sure to keep readers guessing.
Enter to win a $66 Amazon (US) gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US account to win.
Runs August 10 – August 17, 2021.
Winner will be drawn on August 23, 2021.
Kimberly Baer is an author and professional editor who was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a town marginally famous for having endured three major floods—and she lived there during one of them. She currently lives in Virginia. Kim has had her nose in a book practically since birth, and she decided early on that she wanted to be on the giving end of the reading experience as well as the receiving end. Her first story, written at age six, was about a baby chick that hatched out of a little girl’s Easter egg after somehow surviving the hard-boiling process. Her recent focus has been on writing middle-grade and young adult fiction, with an occasional adult story thrown into the mix. She no longer writes about eggs.
Social Media Links: