Excerpt for And, On Her Farm She Had A Ghost by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Written by Orville Burch and Elizabeth Roden

All characters, and situations, in the book are fictional.

Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is unintentional.

No part of this book may be used or duplicated for any purpose unless given written authorization by the sole owners of the rights.

About the Cover: The cover is an original design and photograph by coauthor Elizabeth Roden. All rights reserved.

Author Bio

Elizabeth Roden (Eliza Jayne) studied psychology and social work earning her MSW. As an adolescent she was always ambitious and artistic. She earned a position as a photographer in the student section of the local newspaper as a teenager. Her thirst for knowledge drove her to study the paranormal. Elizabeth’s inner warrior continued to grow as she pursued other outlets for her artistic expressions such as acting and modeling.

Orville Burch has a PhD in Biology. Orville is a scientist, with over twenty peer-reviewed publications. He has presented at professional conferences twenty times; twice as the keynote speaker. As a scientist, he has researched and studied the unknown. He draws upon his interest in paranormal, and Cryptozoology, in all of his fiction writing. Orville is a writer, and paranormal researcher.

Letter from Rachel Law

My name is Rachel Law, I hunt ghosts. If you’re like me, you’re interested in things that go bump in the night. That doesn’t mean you don’t get scared. Sometimes, my friends and I, get really scared. Some of the best stories, that I want to share with you, are about the times when we got into danger. Not just little-kid danger, either, but the kind that even grownups want to avoid.

Of all the adventures, that I have ever been on, reading is one of the greatest. In fact, it gave me the ideas for some of our best explorations. I started reading about pirates and hidden treasure. I wasn’t interested in typical children’s books. As I grew older, I read everything I got my hands on. When I discovered the paranormal that cinched it for me. Paranormal brought together everything that fascinated me. It combined adventure, mystery, the unknown, and even some romance. I was hooked.

Since you and I have similar interests, I thought you might enjoy reading a story about my first ghost hunt. It happened when I was twelve years-old. That was when my three best friends and I, started our ghost hunting business. We called ourselves the Paranormal Investigation Service Team Of Franklin Furnace (P.I.S.T.O.F.F.). Our first case was to help a neighbor. We didn’t know anything about the paranormal world. We just thought it would be exciting.

As you might imagine, no one really took us seriously. Well, that is not completely accurate. A ghost reached out to us, it wanted our help. Oh, and the killer, he wanted us dead. This book is also about friendship and growing up. Sometimes, growing up can be as scary as the paranormal. If you are interested in ghost hunting, at any age, jump in. I hope you enjoy, “And, On Her Farm She Had A Ghost.”

Rachel Law

Paranormal Investigator

Chapter 1.

Most people assumed I would grow up to be a farmer, like my parents. Some were not convinced that I would live that long. When people asked me what I wanted to be, I said ghost huntress. I figured I would be older than twelve when I started, but the dead had other plans. You see, the dead have always been obsessed with me, and I guess they couldn’t wait any longer.

“Rachel. Breakfast,” my mom yelled up the steps. As if I couldn’t smell the bacon, or hear the classic rock music.

My name is Rachel Law. This is my story. A story that takes place in the summer after my twelfth birthday. It all happened a few miles from our farm, in our small community of Franklin Furnace, Missouri.

Mom wasn’t calling me to any breakfast, this was the first day of the summer breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I love school, but still, I could hardly sleep last night knowing that this morning was the beginning of a new adventure. I dressed in my usual summer clothes of farm shorts, which a few days ago, were blue jeans with the knees blown out. Mom likes to recycle and reuse. My old tee shirt, a hand-me-down, from Dad, was a tie-dye in bright spring colors. Sometimes, I go barefoot, sometimes I wear tennis shoes, or work boots. The shoes depend on what I have to do. During the summer, I have several assigned chores, all of which are outside in the garden or barn. Today would be a day of weeding in the salad garden. Not my favorite of chores. I selected a pair of canvas tennis shoes with a hole where the nail of my big toe tried to escape. The shoes are my comfortable go-to, they are almost more friend, than shoe. I’ve had to rescue them twice from the garbage. I guess I like to recycle as well.

My bedroom is on the second floor. I have all three rooms upstairs. In addition to my bedroom, I have the bedroom that used to belong to my older brother. When he was alive, I had little in common with him, since his death we have become friends. I use that room for my desk and computer. A few years ago, Dad built an addition to the house, right off the kitchen. That became their bedroom, and I got their old room. I use it for storage of items, books, anything that strikes my interest. Lately, I have been collecting family history. My relatives give me old picture albums, family bibles, newspapers, letters, anything and everything to do with my ancestors. I have boxes stacked on boxes. I need space. I’m a girl. I skipped down the stairs.

“Rachel. You’re shaking the house,” Mom said.

“I was rolling on the river,” I said, as I bellowed out “rollin, rollin, rollin on the river,” in my best Cajun accent.

Mom smiled at me as I continued to hum the tune and set the kitchen table to the rhythm of the music. We almost always ate at the large kitchen table. Our dining room was reserved for company, but even when we had company, we squeezed everyone into the kitchen. I asked about that once, but never got a good answer.

I looked out the kitchen window, the sun was just starting to lift up and shine on our salad garden. Farmers get up early. That goes for the kids of farmers as well. I asked my parents about why we got up so early. Dad told me that I would be successful if I go to bed and get up with the chickens. Mom told me that the early bird got the worm. It took me a while to learn the difference between literal and figurative, but not before I experimented with their advice.

I pulled the handmade plates and bowls off the pantry shelf. Most all of our pottery was made by Mom, or one of my aunts. They were thick everyday dishes, fired in bold colors and patterns. In addition to being farmers, my parents are former hippies, from way back in the 1960s. I think you can be a former hippie. Maybe not.

“How come we don’t make our own silverware?” I asked.

“Some of your relatives do.” Mom opened the drawer by the stove and pulled out a couple of butcher knives. “These were handmade.”

“Do all farmers make everything?” I asked as I looked at the knives. They were heavy metal knives with a sharp edge. The handles were made of deer-antler.

“It depends on the farmer. Not all farmers are the same. What did I tell you about lumping people into groups?”

“Not to. Can I have the knives?” They were beautiful, and they belonged to ancestors.

“I’ll add them to your hope-chest, one day.” Mom took the knives and placed them back into the drawer.

“Are most hippies the same?”

“Where do you come up with all of your questions?” Mom asked. She asked me that a lot.

“The teacher says I’m inquisitive. I get it from you.”

“Why me? Why not Dad?”

“Cause you’re a Drake,” I said.

My last name is Law, but my mom’s last name was Drake. The Drake line stretches way back to Sir Frances Drake, the famous English explorer. It also includes my relative Cyrus Drake, who traveled by himself from Pennsylvania to Missouri to found our valley.

“Don’t say cause. Say because,” Mom corrected. “Cause makes you sound like your hill-relatives.

In Missouri, people live in the big cities, in farm valleys, or the mountains. The farther you live from the city, the more people think you are hicks. The hill-folk that we know, take pride in the fact that they are less civilized than the snooty city people.

“Isn’t that lumping people?” I pointed out.

Mom gave me the look. The look I knew all too well. So I moved on.

“In history class we talked about hippies. The teacher said that the hippies protested the war in Vietnam. That they went to San Francisco to preach free love and free drugs.”

“They told you that in class? In history class?” Mom emphasized the word history. “That makes me feel old.”

“Even Dad told me about the war protest. I read that it was a really violent time.”

“It wasn’t all violent. Remember the stories we told you about the creative people, and the time we went to Woodstock. That wasn’t violent, it was music, and…, well freedom. The kind of freedom you’ll better understand__”

“When I’m grown,” I completed Mom’s sentence.

“Yes. When you are an old lady like me,” Mom laughed. “Finish setting the table, Dad will be in soon.”

My parents told me a lot about when they were young, but they would never tell me what happened to make them chuck it all and move back to our valley in Missouri. They left behind, friends, pot smoking, drugs, and free love. They retained their distrust of the government, and a desire to be free and uncontrolled. For them, and well, I guess for me, that freedom happened in a self-sufficient farm in Franklin Furnace, Missouri.

Even though they left that life on the west coast, they still retained hippie behaviors. Our house looks more like a hippie house than a farmhouse. All the other farm houses are painted white. Our farm house is bright yellow. Even inside, the rooms are not white. They are painted in bold colors, with stripes, stars, and spirals. Mom loves flowers, and they are everywhere, both inside and outside of the house. Music from the hippie times is always spinning off the old original vinyl albums.

“Is that why our farm has a name?”

“What do you mean?”

“Because it’s a hippie farm?”

“Oh Rachel,” Mom sighed. “I don’t know. I guess maybe that’s why. We liked the idea.”

In all the area around Franklin Furnace, and believe me, I’ve checked. None of the farms, other than ours, have a name. We have a big sign that Dad built and erected. He and Mom both painted it. The sign isn’t white either. Mom said it is cerulean, which is a fancy name for blue. Written in ecru, a fancy name for tan, is the name: TRUE NATURE’S CHILD.

In Franklin Furnace, not only does our farm stand out, but I stand out. I have always been different, not just because I’ve seen ghosts, and not just because someone tried to kill me. That all happened, but even before that, I stood out. I’ve always been taller than the girls in my class, and some boys. I really like that, even when the boys call me stretch, and names like that. I’m also heavier than the girls, and some boys. That, I’m not too happy about, but the boys are afraid to call me fat. They know better. I’m the girl in school that never misses a day of class, no matter how sick I might be. I never miss a question on a test, even the super hard bonus questions. I intimidate most of my classmates, some are even afraid of me. I don’t discourage that.

By the time breakfast was all fixed, and Dad was back from the barn. Mom and I were onto Good—Golly-Miss-Molly. Dad took my hands, and we danced around the kitchen before we ever sat to breakfast.

“I have a great idea for a summer project,” Dad said to me. “I think you are going to love it!”

I knew the word project was similar to chore, so I wasn’t yet excited. I stopped in mid bite of a crispy strip of bacon, done like I loved it. “What kind of project?”

“I was thinking we could build a stand and sell surplus vegetables,” Dad replied.

“I thought we gave away our extras?”

“We still can do that, but for some reason, people won’t come to pick free vegetables, but they will buy them.”

Each spring, Dad places a sign by our lane telling people that we have free pick-your-own veggies, but no one ever stops.

I used a piece of toast to sop up the egg juice. “Do I get to keep the money?” I was all about earning money. Even on a self-sufficient farm, a girl needed stuff you can’t grow.

Clearly, Dad had not thought that through. I’m sure he was thinking this would be one of those character building things. I was already thinking about how Rachel’s Market would look, how many people I would hire, and how famous I would be.

“Dad, are you sure that isn’t too much for her?” Mom asked.

I never figured out if my parents tried to manipulate me or not, but if they were trying, they were geniuses at it. Nothing motivated me more than someone thinking I could not do something.

“I’m practically grown,” I protested to Mom.

“Twelve is not practically grown,” Mom reminded me. Probably for the millionth time.

I decided to switch that line of discussion and focus back on Dad, “So do I get to keep the money?”

“Mom, I’m sure she can handle it. Yes, you can keep the money,” Dad said. Then he looked at Mom and felt compelled to add, “We’ll help you set up a savings account, and together decide how much you can spend.”

I chewed my bacon thinking on it. It was sort of my money, but I wouldn’t have control of it. But, then again, what other source of money did I have?

“Where we building my market?” I asked.

“I think down at the junction of our lane and Route 19 would be a good location,” Dad said.

“Not where the old school house was?” Mom said. “That location is haunted.”

Our farm is located just down the road from downtown Franklin Furnace, Missouri. It is barely a town at all. We have one stop sign on Main Street. That stop sign is the only reason anyone slows down as they blow through on the way to Owensville or Herrmann. Our town is cute, in its own way, farm-cute, I hear people say.

We have three businesses in Franklin Furnace. There is a post office run by Mr. Preston. If he has a first name, I never heard it. He is never very pleasant. I don’t think he likes kids, or maybe he just hates everyone. I don’t go in there much, except when Mom needs stamps, then I hurry in and back out. He always glares at me, and never smiles, even when I smile first.

We also have a beauty parlor owned by Sally Gilmore. Sally is really nice, she calls everyone Honey. It doesn’t matter if she knows your name or not. Mom thinks we don’t need a beauty parlor and that it is a waste of money. But, she and my Auntie Kathy, go anyway; once a month for perm and gossip.

We also have a local newspaper owned by Mark Elliott, called the Franklin Furnace Burner. He and Dad are the same age and have been friends for a long time. Mr. Elliott looks much older, but I think that may come from the type of work. Not sure about that. I love going in there and never have a good reason to do so. It is filled with big interesting looking equipment and always smells like a used paperback book. Mr. Elliott competes with Sally to get the news out, but since he uses print, his is usually old news. So instead, he focuses on conspiracies. That actually makes his newspaper an interesting read.

That’s it for my town. All the rest, consists of small houses surrounded by large barns and acres of farmland. If you need anything besides mail, perm, and news, you have to go elsewhere.

Before the town was called Franklin Furnace, it was called Drake in honor of my relative Cyrus Drake, who first settled here in the late 1700s. The legend is that Cyrus left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War. He thought it was too crowded and was convinced that better opportunities existed around the bend. So at the ripe old age of thirteen, he headed west, never to return. He stopped heading west long enough to claim our valley and marry a woman from the Kickapoo tribe. They raised kids and grandkids. Soon the valley was full of Drakes; my ancient ancestors.

Then, in 1800, Thaddeus Franklin settled in the area. His property included ore that could be made into iron. He opened a mine and an iron smelting factory. That factory was known as Franklin Furnace. People who were not farmers, worked the mine. In 1820, when some government map-maker came to town, he wrote on the official map that we were called Franklin Furnace. That was the end of the town of Drake. He also wrote that the school house could be found at the junction of Highway 19 and a dirt lane which until then, was unnamed. He called the lane Drake School House Road, in honor of all the Drakes.

The one room school house served Franklin Furnace well until 1945. Then, the new school was built further north on Highway 19. The new school, where I attend, was remodeled and expanded several times.

The old one stood empty for many years until some volunteer firemen used it as a practice burn-down. Nothing remains of that school now. I heard rumors about the site. There are other haunted places, like the iron furnaces, which gave our town life, and death. In 1952, there was an explosion. Some workers were buried under tons of ore slag, others were severely burned. The furnace was shut down, and even the buildings on the site were dismantled. Some people think they were shipped to China, but I’m not sure about that. I do know that nothing earthly remains of the iron mines. Now it is just memories and stories. Almost everyone thinks that the iron mines are haunted. I know for sure, but that is a story for a different time.

“It isn’t haunted,” Dad assured.

“Well, Uncle Saul should know, it’s on his property. He said he hears the old school bell ring announcing that recess is over. If that’s not haunted, then you tell me what is?” Mom said.

So that is how my ghost story begins. But it is not a story of a haunted bell heard by my Uncle Saul. It wasn’t a ghost story about the old ore mine, but that was almost as scary. This story is about an old barn and what happened there, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Chapter 2.

I could barely eat, or sit still through breakfast, my mind raced ahead to my business empire.

“We going to build after breakfast?”

“I need to run by the Co-op for some nails and a few items,” Dad said. “You want to go?”

In the country, the Co-op is the kind of store that sells a mix of farm-stuff. You can get animal-feed, cowgirl boots and clothes, and hardware. Not sure if they have a Co-op in big cities, I have never been to a big city. I wanted to go with Dad, and I was anxious to start building. However, having some time would allow me to draw up plans.

“I’m calling Sugar,” I announced. “We can draw up plans while we wait.”

I have three best friends. My best female friend is Margarita Machuga. Just like the adult drink, or old song. No one calls her that, her Mom calls her Rita, and everyone else calls her Sugar. I’m not exactly sure how the name Sugar started, I think it is because it sounds like her last name. But, she is the sweetest person you could ever know, so the name fits her just perfectly.

Sugar and I don’t look much alike, in fact, we are mostly opposites. People still joke and say we must be twins. She is shorter than me. She seemed to stop growing just four-inches over the five-foot mark. I’m still growing like a weed, and I’m currently almost four-inches taller. Mom thinks I will probably get a little taller, we are not too sure about Sugar.

I’m no way on earth as thin as Sugar and never have been. While she is small and dainty, I’m a big steam-roller. I was fat, and now I’m chubby, not sure where the next level will be. Mom says for me not to worry that as I grow, I will get thinner. I hope she is right about that.

Sugar’s rich brown hair and matching eyes, give her an even more delicate look. My typical Drake-feature of black hair and dark blue eyes, makes me look hard and serious.

She and I are both smart, easily the best students in class. I have a slight edge in the number of perfect marks, but she is right on my heels. It’s fun, since we challenge each other, and sometimes even the teacher.

“Awesome!” Sugar yelled over the phone when I told her about the business and how I wanted her to be my partner.

As I waited for Sugar’s mom to drop her off at my place, I pulled out paper, rulers, pens, and colored markers. Then, together we sat on the floor, drawing market designs. It took us all morning to come up with the perfect market. It included a couple of rooms, a storage area, even a refrigerated section.

“You think we should have a room to sell sandwiches?” Sugar asked.

“I love that idea. Mom can bake pies and we can sell them as well.”

“Maybe even ice cream. Like a parlor!” Sugar added.

I drew the parlor section. I even estimated that we would need four round-tables and two chairs for each table. When we heard Dad’s truck pull into the yard, we gathered up all of our plans and ran down to the kitchen.

Mom made us a light lunch of ham sandwiches and a garden salad. I was just anxious to eat and go.

“We drew up plans,” I said as I spread the papers out so Dad could see.

“The odd couple has been busy,” Dad said as he looked at our plans. “This is impressive,” he praised, “but I think we should start a little smaller.”

Dad calls us the odd couple. He said we reminded him of some old television show by that name. I never watched the show, so I don’t really have any comment on that. I just think that Sugar and I are perfect friends and will remain that way forever.

I was ready to cross out the sandwich and pie area, but Dad’s plan was a lot less elaborate. And, I mean a lot less!

Sugar and I helped the best we could as Dad built a small lean-to structure. He started by sinking two large poles in the ground. Then he added a cross pole at the top. That was the structure of our market. Dad added two corrugated-tin sheets to form a sloping roof. Under the roof, we opened two folding card tables, and two folding chairs. It didn’t look anything like what Sugar and I drew up, and it wouldn’t win any beautiful market contest, but it was ours. Our market. To us, it was perfect.

Dad then painted a sign and nailed it to one of the upright poles. The sign read:

“Fresh Vegetables.”

It looked really professional. We unloaded the surplus vegetables and arranged them on the tables. Dad then left us to our business

Sugar and I sat at the little stand selling veggies for an hour. Then an idea hit me.

“We need a name for our market,” I said.

“We could call it Rachel’s,” Sugar suggested.

I liked that, but it wouldn’t be right to have just my name. So we tossed out and threw away: “Rachel and Sugar, Sugar and Rachel, R&S and S&R.”

As we pondered a name for the market and sold veggies to people who stopped. My other two best friends Marl Simpson and Danny Drake came by.

Marl and I are best friends for many reasons, but perhaps the best reason is that we grew up together. His mom, who is my Auntie Kathy, and my mom, are identical twins. Mom and Auntie Kathy both got pregnant at about the same time. I was born March, twenty-first, and Marl was born April, twenty-first. That makes me a month older, and, as such, I never let him forget who is in charge.

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