Chapter 1.

Flames erupted around the house, the occupants taking shelter in the basement underneath the house. The house, not the most fancy of them all, just a small shack with tiles missing from the roof, termites destroying the house bit by bit. Built by hand years ago, the land was home to a husband and wife with their two young children on a farm. A couple of acres of land allowed the family to make money farming. Cows were often seen roaming, sheep sleeping, a draft horse grazing and a loyal, faithful blue cattle dog patrolling.

For many years the family lived in peace, not rich yet able to put food on the table for the children. Their neighbours were nice and they often went over to chat. The children were known to hang around the neighbour's children. Life was without much heartache, the children never experiencing what the word meant. But months earlier something strange started to happen.

It started with the appearance of a stranger. A female one at that. Her name was Samantha Marie Thurlow. The town near the family where they shopped welcomed Samantha with open arms. True, it was odd that a lone lady came to the town in darkness riding a pure black horse with a black cloak hiding most, if not all, of her features. But they were not one to prejudge someone.

The town was friendly and the family was too. Children seemed to adore Samantha, cherishing the time they had with her. Her story telling was that of legends, tales of heroic knights, wicked witches and the occasional spook tale. But a mere month after her arrival animals started to behave badly when she passed. Dogs barked, cats meowed and horses ran in fright. Now the townspeople started getting worried about Samantha. How can one look so innocent and cause such a riot with the animals?

Days afterwards everybody started to notice animals dying. Overnight they seemed to drop dead literally, local vets gob smacked at it, having no clue what was going on. Yet the ever-present Samantha was still fresh in their minds. Doubt turned to fear, fear turned to anger as Samantha was accused of being a witch. What else could be going on from the forces of evil? They pondered.

Rallying together, the townspeople got torches and what ever weapons they could find. No witch was going to come into their village and kill. Storming up to the hotel where she stayed, a flash of lightning showed a black horse, Samantha's horse, being ridden by a cloaked figure. Furious, the townspeople ignored the rain and trudged down the road, some going upon horses to catch up with her. The cloaked figure turned left towards an old house. That house belonged to a small family who were sleeping peacefully.

When the horse riding townspeople reached the house, Samantha nowhere to be seen. The front door, however, was easily seen to be ajar. Presuming, or maybe forgetting, they lit the house on fire. The rain poured down harder but it was too late as the old wood easily caught fire. Alight with flames the walking townspeople caught up. Cheering, no one bothered to see whether the family got out in time.

They hadn't. Running downstairs, into the basement, the family hid. The fire, weakening the house, made it crumble and fall to the lowest point of the house. That being the very same basement the family was hiding in. Debris falling around them, it wasn't long before the parents of the young children collapsed due to the grey black smoke. The children scared for their lives cried out for their parents, holding onto each other.

Later that night, the riot of townspeople calmed down somewhat to understand that the family was still in fact in the burnt house. Looking around, the mayor tried to reason that they had killed a witch, which apparently made it worthwhile. But the bones of Samantha Marie Thurlow weren't found anywhere in the house or anywhere on the land.

It was the end for the family, but just the beginning for something a lot more sinister…