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A Burglary Gone Wrong Leads to Terror in This Dark Thriller 

And There He Kept Her will terrify readers of all stripes.

padlocked wood door
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  • Photo Credit: Cristina Gottardi / Unsplash

Teens Jesse and Jenny have walked on the dark side before. But when they break into Emmett Burr’s house in search of prescription drugs to sell quickly, they encounter far worse than they could have imagined in their worst nightmares. 

Meanwhile, Ben Packard has moved back to Sandy Lake, Minnesota, looking to escape the tragic death of his brother and the loss of the love of his life, Victor. He steps into the sheriff’s shoes just in time to investigate the disappearance of his niece, Jenny.

And There He Kept Her is a dark thriller, narrated by both Sheriff Ben Packard and serial killer and kidnapper Emmett Burr, and we’re excited to be including it in this month’s Creepy Crate! This chilling tale is a disturbing ride through the twisted mind of a killer, wrapped around a reverse whodunit that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Read on for an excerpt of And There He Kept Her, then subscribe to Creepy Crate for your chance to receive a copy!




And There He Kept Her

By Joshua Moehling

Rain lashed the boy as he ran from his car back to the old man’s house. It was cold enough that he could see his breath. Water dripped from the ends of his shaggy hair, ran down his scalp and under his shirt. At least the clouds had hidden the moon. The news had called it a supermoon. All night it had followed everywhere he went, an ivory face watching him, reading his mind.

The road was gravel and getting muddier by the minute. Jesse tried running along the edge, but the ground was soft and soon his feet were as wet as his hooded sweatshirt.

On his left, houses faced the lake. He ran by a mailbox that said MILLER in faded letters and then by another mailbox that said MADIS N, this one pitched forward with its door hanging open like it was about to be sick. He stopped in front of the small gray house set back from the road and realized he was looking right through a hole where the door should have been and out the other side at the water beyond. He looked back at the MILLER house and noticed it was missing most of its roof and all of its windows.

Jesse ran on, already wet to the skin. He turned off the road and followed two muddy ruts past a stand-alone garage. The house ahead of him was a dark- brown rectangle without a straight line or a sharp corner. A wooden staircase went up the front to a sliding glass door and small windows with the blinds drawn.

Jesse stopped to catch his breath. In the dark, the house looked like it had climbed out of the mud or was sinking back into it. No part of him wanted to be here, to have to pay back his debt like this.

“In and out. Get it over with,” he muttered.

He bypassed the staircase, pulling up his hood as he skidded down a muddy set of uneven steps alongside the house.

The lower level of the house was cement block. A narrow yard widened in the direction of rusty metal chairs overturned around a fire pit before gradually descending to the lake. The house had another deck on the back. Underneath were the remnants of a depleted woodpile and a battered storm door with access to the basement.

Jesse pulled open the storm door and set the clip that propped it open. The back door had individual glass panes set in a crosshatch pattern. Jesse hit the window closest to the dead bolt with his elbow. The sound of breaking glass made his breath catch in his throat. He counted to ten, waiting for lights to come on. Nothing happened. He reached inside, undid the bolt and the twist lock on the doorknob. Thunder rolled overhead as he pushed the door open and stepped over the broken glass.

It was pitch-dark inside. A clock radio on a shelf flashed red numbers 12:00...12:00...12:00. It smelled like cigarettes and garbage and wet, rotten things. Jesse took a penlight from his back pocket and used it to sweep over a workbench on his left littered with scattered tools and boxes of nails and spools of wire and plastic grocery bags. A telephone with a tortured, twisted cord hung on the wall. On his right an old refrigerator droned. He pulled open the door hard enough to make the beer cans inside dance on their wire racks. The light reached all but the basement’s darkest corners. He left the door open.

black and white image of spooky stairs leading down to a locked gated door
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  • Photo Credit: the blowup / Unsplash

Shelves made from concrete blocks and long sagging planks split the room in half lengthwise. In front of the shelves he saw a rocking chair with cracked leather on the seat and on the back. A sawed-off section of tree trunk was being used as a side table. He saw an enormous ceramic ashtray filled with cigarette butts and a garbage can overflowing with beer cans and crushed cigarette packs and boxes from microwave meals. On the floor behind the chair, a damp card- board box had split its seams and let slide an avalanche of magazines. Nearly nude women stared up from the covers. Jesse picked up one closest to his foot—a moldy Penthouse from August 1981. More than twenty years before he was born.

He circled behind the shelves, past a wall-mounted sink and an open toilet in one corner. The other corner of the basement was built out into a small room with a metal door. It could have been for storage, but his gut told him it was something else. Jesse shivered at the threshold, his skin clammy and prickling with a million hairs. He made a sideways fist around the door’s sliding bolt and pulled it backwards, stepping out of the way as the heavy door swung open on silent hinges.

He thumbed the penlight again. He wasn’t sure but he thought the walls were painted...pink. The color had peeled away in places, leaving discolored spots that looked like scabs. He saw a thin mattress covered in dark stains on a metal frame. A heavy chain hung limply through a steel ring bolted on the wall at the head of bed.

Nothing about the scene in front of him made sense. He wasn’t sure what he was looking at, but he knew the last thing he’d ever want was to be left alone in this room, in the dark, with the door shut. He blindly reached for the inside door handle to pull it shut again and found there wasn’t one. He shined the penlight on it just to make sure.

This was a prison cell of some kind. A cage. How else to explain a door with no handle, no way to get out from the inside?

He shined the weak penlight across the blistered pink walls again. He felt like he was staring into the mouth of something that wanted to swallow him. When he killed the light, the darkness inside seemed to go down and down to a place that had never known the sun.

Behind him, the furnace made a loud ticking sound, then whoomped to life. Jesse turned away and shook off the bad thoughts. He stuck the light in his pocket and headed for the stairs that went up to the main floor. At the bottom, he stared at the closed door above him. He’d been told the old man would be drunk, at least. Passed out, if Jesse was lucky.

He labored up the first three steps, pausing on each one to talk himself out of turning around and making a run for it.

He turned one last time toward the dark room in the corner and thought about the stained mattress and the door with no handle.

Someone stepped on the broken glass by the basement door.

Jesse crouched and froze like a rabbit with no cover. The refrigerator door was still open, spilling light into the room. Behind it he saw a dark silhouette through the window in the basement door. The shape paused with one foot on the broken glass, then took another step into the room.


“What the fuck are you doing here?” Jesse hissed. He took out the penlight and flashed it at her so she could see where he was standing against the wall on the stairs.

“I got worried,” she whispered.

Jenny was much less wet than Jesse was, thanks to the oversize letter jacket with sleeves that went down past her fingertips and made her look like she had no shouLders. In the dark he couldn’t see her freckles, or her green eyes, or the eye tooth with the twist to it, the imperfection that made every one of her smiles perfect.

“Where’s the car?”

“I moved it a little closer. I have the keys.”

She came over and stood by his side at the bottom of the stairs. They both
looked up at the door overhead. “We shouldn’t be here,” she said.

“I don’t have any choice. He’s threatening my family.”

“We can figure out something else.”

“No, we can’t. He doesn’t want money. It’s this or something bad happens
to my sister.”

“Jesse, come on. He’s messing with you. If you go back and say—”

The floor creaked over their heads.

They stared at each other, wide-eyed, frozen. One second passed. Another. There was only the sound of the furnace blower and the drum of the rain, coming down hard again at the open basement door.

Jenny put a hand on Jesse’s arm and eased him a step backwards.

The door at the top of the stairs crashed inward with enough force that it hit the wall and tried to bang shut again. The double-barreled shotgun leveled down at them kept it from closing all the way.

Jenny screamed and ducked behind Jesse. Jesse raised his hands in a pleading gesture. He waved the penlight at the fat, naked man standing above them with the shotgun and an oxygen mask over his mouth.

“Hold on, hold on! We made a mistake. We were just leaving,” Jesse pleaded. He felt Jenny’s body small and hard against his back, her hand tight around his arm.

The shotgun boomed like the end of the world. The light went out and fell from Jesse’s hand. Jenny screamed again when Jesse crumpled without a sound, all his weight falling back against her. They went backwards down the steps, Jesse on top of her. Jenny hit her head on the concrete with the bright crack of a glass jar breaking.

The fat, naked man stepped down through the cloud of burning gunpowder and fired the second barrel.

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Feature image: Cristina Gottardi / Unsplash