Raised in the Deep South in a rural area of Texas, Brie Edison is a believer in mystical powers. She writes about ancient religions that deal in the dark arts of voodoo séances, black magic, demon worship, and satanic rites.

Her works include: short stories: “Voodoo Doll” appeared in the Black Candy Halloween Anthology and “Bent Offerings” appeared in the Deep Fried Horror e-zine. Her book Buh-bye Harry! is a cozy murder mystery, and it won a silver medal in the Readers Favorites contest.

Brie now resides in California and is working on her next book, a serial killer novel.


by Brie Edison


My twin brother and I turned twenty-five today. It promised to be a beautiful morning and a perfect night for a surprise party planned by our friends. Free until tonight’s shindig, I decided to go swimming, and thinking my brother might want to tag along, I asked him to go with me. Cameron had other plans—which involved staring at his computer.

I shimmied into my one-piece bathing suit, grabbed a towel, and walked the quarter mile to the beach. I scurried up a hidden path that wound around until it reached the top, then wound back down the other side. At the bottom, a hidden recess emerged; a pool of water appeared.

Icy cold water shocked my foot when I stepped into it, causing my whole body to shudder. I ducked under the surface, leaping back up with my teeth chattering. I swam across the hidden cove, making fast circles. Excited about the birthday party, I needed to expel some energy.

I heard someone coming.

Deep into the cove’s recess I swam. I don't know why, but I slunk down in the water and hid. When the voices grew nearer, it sounded like a man’s voice arguing with a woman. I tried to make out what they said, but the wind carried their words away.

The man raised his voice. “I’m here to punish you for your sins,” he said, his words distinct.

Before I could react, an awful gurgling sound erupted from the woman's throat; she tumbled over the side of the embankment. The water surged into the air when her body hit the pool and it made a loud slapping noise. She landed face-up—dead—her lifeless eyes aimed toward the sky.

A gasp came from my lips. I clamped a hand over my mouth to smother the sound. The dead woman’s body floated closer. A rush of fear coursed through my being as the tide pulled the corpse toward me. The idea of a dead body touching my live skin panicked me.

As the corpse floated toward me, I could see the angry red marks around her neck, along with a horrible expression frozen on her face. These awful images imprinted on my mind forever, I cowered in silence against the cold rocks, wanting this to be over.

It became quiet. I inched toward the edge and looked up. Faint sunlight streamed in through a wide slit, and I could see a pair of black cowboy boots with silver points on them. Submerging myself underwater, I swam toward the bank. My head surfaced when I reached it, and I took a quick peek around, crouched in the shadows, listening—silence.

The man in the cowboy boots must have left. I waited and continued to listen, almost holding my breath. My heart was pounding and I felt waves of adrenaline pump through my body.

After about fifteen minutes, I peeked out of my hiding spot a second time. No one was around. I waited another ten minutes to make sure. Nothing.

The dead body needed to be pulled from the water. My brother, a forensic expert, said the most important thing is to keep the evidence intact. My stomach heaved as I grabbed the corpse’s sleeve and pulled her toward the shore. With great care, I dragged her out of the water and hid her behind some bushes.

Cameron. He’d know what to do. We’re complete opposites. I tend to rebel against the system. Cameron follows the rules.

I needed to hurry. I tried to run, but the jagged rocks and wet sand impeded my progress. I watched where I stepped while scanning the area. I didn’t want the murderer to sneak up on me.

When I arrived home, I rushed to Cameron’s office, gave the door a rapid knock, and burst through it.

“What the hell, Cassie? You know you can’t bother me when I’m working.” Cameron sat at his desk, intent on his laptop.

The words gushed out. “Cameron, you’ve got to come and see. If I told you what happened, you’d laugh and call me a liar. But it’s different this time. There’s no reason to trust me after all the pranks I’ve pulled on you—but I swear—this is no prank. I need you to come with me.”

I looked into my brother’s eyes. Being twins, Cameron and I have a special connection; sort of like a telepathic vibration is linking us together. After studying my miserable expression, Cameron’s face softened. “You’re serious this time.” His eyes never left mine.

“Yes,” I said. “You’ve got to trust me.” I grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the front door. “Do you have your cellphone on you?” A stupid question but it had to be asked.

Cameron pulled out his phone and showed it to me. “Of course I do, Cassie. What’s this about? Tell me.”

“Better if you see for yourself. Then you won’t have to sift through the lies.” I bowed my head, feeling shame wash over me. I used to have a nasty drug addiction, and lying was second nature to almost all addicts. I was well known in the community for getting into trouble. I was clean and sober now, thanks to Narcotics Anonymous, but my reputation had yet to be repaired.

“Cassie. Look at me.” My brother put his fingers on my chin and raised my head. “Tell me,” he commanded.

“I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it. You’ll never believe me—but here goes.” I took a deep breath. “Murder,” I whispered in Cameron’s ear.

Cameron’s body twitched. “You witnessed a murder?”

I’d seen him wear that expression before. “You don’t have to believe me. Come and see for yourself.”

Cameron put his arm around my shoulder and gave it a loving squeeze. “Okay, I believe you. You wouldn’t lie about something like this. Let’s go.”

We climbed the path to the hidden cove. When we got to the bottom of it, I pointed to the bushes where the body lay hidden. Afraid someone might have taken her, I held my breath. Cameron pushed the bushes back and found the woman’s body, her hair still wet; the painful expression still frozen on her face.

Cameron’s jaw went slack. “She’s dead. Who is she? How did this happen? Do you know who killed her?” Although Cameron worked in forensics, it was behind a desk on a computer; he’d never seen a dead body before. “She looks horrible.” He couldn’t take his eyes off the dead woman’s face. “I thought they’d look peaceful.”

“Maybe when they die of natural causes but not when they’re murdered.” I shook him back to reality. If my brother fell apart there’d be nobody to take charge. “Cameron, we’ve got to go to the police, but you know my reputation with them. I need you to take pictures and back up my story.”

“I’ll tell them everything I witnessed. You rushed into my office, told me to follow you. I did. You showed me a dead body. I took pictures. Proof there’s a dead body to investigate.”

“They’ll believe everything you say. You can convince them.”

“I will tell them the truth, Cassie. You’ve got to tell them what you witnessed. And if you tell one lie, they’ll never believe your story. ” He took out his cellphone and snapped off photo after photo, making sure the shots covered several different angles.

After Cameron finished his investigation, we ran to his car and took off toward the police station. The dead body confirmed my story, but it didn’t prove I witnessed the murder. A horrible idea dawned on me. The police might think I did it. I didn’t want to go back to jail. I had been there before.

Without him supporting me, I’d never have summoned up enough courage to tell the truth.

My stomach cringed when I entered the police station. Cameron walked up to the information desk. I relaxed and waited for him to tell the desk sergeant the story. “Excuse me, officer. My sister has something she wants to tell you.” Cameron stepped to the side.

I wanted to turn around and run out the exit, but Cameron’s steely gaze brought out my shame. He grabbed my hand giving me the strength to speak. “I want to report a murder.” I hoped he didn’t hear the tremble in my voice.

The desk sergeant recognized me, of course. Her name tag said Sergeant Cross. She gave me a stern look. “Cassie, you’d better not be wasting my time like you always do. You’re lucky I’m not busy right now.”

“She’s telling the truth.” Cameron blurted out the words, while pulling out his cell phone. He handed it to the officer. The desk sergeant scrolled through the pictures.

Convinced, and all business now, Sergeant Cross leaped up from the information desk, hurried into a nearby office and closed the door behind her. The door opened minutes later and out stepped two men. The sergeant sat down at her desk and the other two officers demanded we take them to the location of the dead woman’s body.

We got into a police car and drove toward the secret cove. When we got there, Cameron pushed me in front, making me take the lead. He wanted me to get full credit for showing the police where I’d hidden the corpse. I figured he was trying to prove to the officers that I was legit.

Then it occurred to me. I’d moved the body.

The idea threw me into a panic attack. Television shows about forensics instructed you to never move the body; you might destroy valuable evidence. When the police found out I’d disturbed their crime scene, they might throw me in jail. This time, instead of taking the consequences for telling lies, I’d have to take them for telling the truth.

“Cassie moved the body,” Cameron said, his voice sounding calm and agreeable. “Evidence would have been destroyed if she hadn’t. The corpse would have been nibbled on by fish or it could have washed away. She did the right thing.”

The two police officers said nothing. When I pulled back the bushes, I was so afraid the body would be gone. Maybe I had a flashback and imagined the whole thing.

But there she was—still dead—the red angry marks around her throat more prominent now. I wanted to shake her and wake her up. Deep down I knew it wasn’t possible. People don’t come back to life. They stay dead.

I wondered how it would feel to be dead. Did you see a white light to go toward? Could you feel pain? Etched forever in my mind was a clear picture of the dead woman’s face, her sightless eyes. I wondered where her soul went. Would she be judged and sent to a heaven or hell? Would I be judged when I die?

One of the police officers radioed headquarters and within an hour crime scene vans swarmed the hidden cove, roping off the area using the infamous yellow caution tape. Cameron and I weren’t allowed to go into the restricted area, but a police officer told us not to leave; someone would want to ask us questions. So we watched from the sidelines.

When it grew dark, the crime team carefully loaded the body into a coroner’s wagon. They packed up their equipment and called it a day. An officer escorted us into a police car and back to the precinct. When we arrived, they separated the two of us, obviously wanting to see if our stories matched.

I was on my own.

The woman police officer smiled. Her name tag said Officer Hunter. “There’s no need to be nervous. Tell me what you witnessed.”

I took a breath, opened my mouth—nothing. As if I’d swallowed a spoon full of peanut butter, the words would not come out.

Officer Hunter showed no judgment on her face. “Go ahead,” she said.

“Today is my brother’s birthday—and mine. We’re twins. We turned twenty-five. Our friends are throwing us a huge surprise party that we’re not supposed to know about—I guess that’s off the subject.” When I get nervous, I blab out useless facts.

“Cassie, calm down. You’re here as a witness, not as a person of interest.”

“Anyway, I asked Cameron to play hooky from work for a couple of hours and go swimming with me, but being a fuddy-duddy he said no—so I skipped out on work by myself.” Once again, I knew I was babbling. I had to slow down and collect my thoughts.

The policewoman smiled, nodding her head to reassure me. She offered me a can of soda.

I smiled back at her. It was time to tell the truth. “I swam around for a while before the sound of voices surprised me—a man and a woman—arguing. I hid at the back of the recess and listened, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.” I drew in a huge breath and stopped talking.

“You’re doing fine,” the Officer Hunter said, giving me another encouraging smile.

“The woman made a noise. Something that sounded awful. A few moments later, her body tumbled over the bank above and fell into the water.” Emotion rose up within me. I had to take a few sips of soda to give myself time to push the tears back into my eyes.

“I know this is hard,” the police officer said. “Nobody should witness a murder. But we need you to tell us what happened so we can develop leads. If we’re going to catch this killer, you’re going to have to tell us exactly what you saw and heard.”

Cassie nodded. “I was afraid the killer might see me. I hid against the rocks. Sunlight was shining through the cracks in the overhang above, and through them I could see a pair of black, silver-toed cowboy boots.”

The interview lasted an hour, but finally Officer Hunter told me I could leave. When I got to the lobby, Cameron rose from his chair, saying nothing, asking no questions. We stayed silent until we got into Cameron’s car where prying ears couldn’t hear.

“Did you tell the truth?” Cameron asked me. He cranked up the car, checked both ways before backing out. That’s my brother. Not known to soften a punch.

“Yes, of course I told the truth,” I said, a bit touchy. “The police believe I found the body, but they think I made the rest up.”

“You don’t know that, Cassie.” Cameron turned on his blinker, took a right onto the street. “You haven’t been in their jail for a long time. Besides, lots of times the police use convicted people as sources. Anyway, I have an idea.”

“What idea?” I asked. “Our sole lead is a unique pair of cowboy boots.”

“We need to find the boots,” Cameron said.

“Maybe we should leave that hunt to the police,” I said. “Otherwise they could arrest me for hindering an investigation.” I didn’t want to go back to jail no matter what. I had worked too hard on my sobriety.

“We won’t get in their way. We’re allowed to shop at shoe stores. That’s not a crime.”

I smiled. Cameron got pleasure from solving complicated puzzles. Fascinated by the contents of forensic books, he devoured them, absorbing the information like a paper towel. Happy to have an expert on my side, I believed Cameron would find the boots, solve the case, and vindicate me.

He pulled into the driveway. “If the man is living around here, then he’d go to a local shoe shop to get the custom work done on his boots.”

We went back to the house. He unlocked the front door and opened it.

“That’s brilliant,” I said, walking into the living room. “There can’t be many shoe shops in town, and such unique boots should jump to mind.” I sat down on the couch and waited for Cameron to make the next move.

He picked up his cell phone, checked the shoe repair shop listings. “I found four. We’ll start by calling them.”

Cameron called the first number and put on his waiting face. “Hello,” he said. “My friend noticed a pair of silver-tipped boots someone was wearing. We wondered if your shop might have done the custom work.”

My mouth fell open. Cameron lied. He never lied. When he hung up the phone, I called him on his actions. “You lied.” I gave him a disapproving look.

“I did not lie.” Cameron huffed at me. “You didn’t listen or you’d know I spoke the truth. I told the man on the phone that my friend—that’s you—noticed a pair of silver-tipped boots someone was wearing—and you did—and we wondered if his shop did the work. What part isn’t true?”

He got me. I should have known Cameron wouldn’t lie. Only I was the liar. Even though he was my twin, Cameron was nothing like me.

I watched him call the next number on the list, repeating the same words to the person on the other end. When he called the third shop he hit the jackpot. I could tell when a big grin spread over his face. “It’ll take us thirty minutes to get there. See you then.” My brother hung up the phone and smiled at me.

“You found the right place without telling a lie,” I said, still sulking. “But I don’t know how you’re going to get the address from him without embellishing the truth a bit.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Cassie. People want to help. I told the man I’d be there within thirty minutes. Grab what you need and let’s go.” I had to trust my brother. If anyone could figure out how to get the information, it’d be Cameron.

I opened the front door. “After you,” I said. Cameron put on his royal face and walked out the door. We got into the car, and within thirty minutes, we were entering the shoe shop. Cameron walked past me toward the clerk. “Excuse me. Are you the man I spoke to on the phone about the silver-tip boots?”

“I am,” the shoemaker admitted. “How can I help? You want a pair? I can fix you up.”

“I’m afraid it’s more complicated than that. There’s a criminal investigation going on right now. It involves the owner of the boots. I need to know where he lives. I can’t go into detail. The police wouldn’t want me to reveal any leads.”

“I can’t give you his home address; that’d be illegal,” the clerk said. “But the man likes showing them off. I can tell that he hangs out at Jack’s Saloon.” He wrote the address down on a slip of paper and handed it to Cameron.

When we got back in the car, I found myself excited. “We have proof. We know where the killer is. We call the police and—”

“No Cassie. The killer is not going to be in a bar 24/7. We have to go to Jack’s Saloon and see if he’s there now.”

I was quiet.

“Cassie, I’m not saying we should buy a drink there.”

“I don’t like going to places that could trigger me,” I said.

“I’ll be there with you. You have to start living in the real world and accept that the outside hasn’t changed. It’s inside you where the change lies.”

“Okay,” I said, trying to keep the doubt from my voice.

When we got to the entry of Jack’s Saloon, a single wooden door confronted us. We pulled the heavy door open and peered in; the place was dark. We had to wait a few seconds for our eyes to adjust. Everyone turned and looked at us, then went back to their drinks when their curiosity was satisfied.

The place smelled of beer, and sawdust was scattered all over the floor. There were eight square tables with two chairs at each one, making them cozy. Eight barstools, lined up in a neat row, stood in front of a bar with a mirror running its entire length. The bar was kitted out with bottle fridges and beer pumps. We snagged two barstools. Cameron told me he was going to ask the bartender about the man with the silver-toed boots, but I spotted him sitting in the corner at one of the small tables, nursing a beer.

I jabbed Cameron with my elbow. What we didn’t expect: the man was sitting in a wheel chair.

We walked over to the man and Cameron introduced us. “Hi, I’m Cameron and this is my sister, Cassie. We heard about your unique boots and we wanted to hear the story behind them.”

“Well, here they are. Aren’t they a dandy—of course they’re just a replica of my great, great grandfather’s boots. If you haven’t been by the museum, you’ve missed a treat. The best ghost story around—but I don’t want to spoil it for you.”

We thanked him and walked out of Jack’s Saloon. I didn’t want Cameron to ask me any questions about the way I felt, so I blurted out the obvious. “It couldn’t be him,” I said. “He can’t walk—and I checked the soles of his boots just like on that television show, but they looked brand new. They couldn’t have been used at the crime scene.”

Cameron agreed with me, and said that we should take the man’s suggestion and go to the museum.

We were silent all the way to the museum. When we entered the exhibit, the first thing we saw was an antique black and white photograph of a man wearing the silver-toed boots. Standing beside him was a woman that must have been his wife. After staring at her face for a few seconds, Cameron and I looked at each other in shock; the woman looked exactly like me.

I thought Cameron was reacting to the woman’s picture; instead, he got angry. He looked at me with a cold gleam in his eye. “You lied to me. You knew about this exhibit. And you couldn’t resist. I’ve had enough of your lies, Cassie. You’ll never change.  I’m done with you, just like everyone else is.”

He stomped off, not giving me a chance to defend myself. I didn’t follow. Once again, all those years of my drinking and lying took its toll. Could I ever change anyone’s perception of me? I thought not.

Sighing, I looked at the photo again. She did look a lot like me. We had the same facial structure and the same thick black hair.

Curious, I read the plaque. It seemed the guy in the black silver-tipped cowboy boots strangled her with his bare hands. Seeing her lying dead on the ground drove him crazy, so he took his own life.

“So I see you’re interested in that picture,” a voice behind me said. I turned and it was the museum docent. “Legend had it that he returned as a ghost, walking the earth, looking for his wife, destined to kill her over and over again.”

Something niggled at the back of my brain. And then it came to me. The dead woman in the pool resembled me too. It didn’t make sense—how could a ghost kill her? Yet apparently one did.

“Did the wife have family? Did she have kids?” I asked the docent.

“Actually, I believe she had twins; a boy and a girl.”

I froze. They say that twins run in families.

“What happened to the twins?”

The docent answered, “In fact, I think one of the grandchildren was recently murdered in these parts. Saw it on the news. You know, you sure look like the woman in the photo. Sure you’re not related? Are you a twin?”

“I’ve got to go. Thanks for the information.”

I decided to go back to the crime scene. I wanted to confront fate.

When I arrived, I could see someone standing in the shadows, which obscured their features. I drew nearer and the outline of a man came into view. The closer I got, the more I knew what was going to happen.

I couldn’t go on as a liar. No one would ever believe that I wanted to change, not even my own twin brother. I felt I must be punished for my sins.

It was the man in the picture right down to the silver-tipped boots. I turned and looked into the eyes of a stone-cold killer.

“Hello, Cassie, my love,” he said. “Are you ready to accept your punishment?”

And he reached for my throat.