No Doors, No Windows

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-10-13
  • Publisher: Del Rey
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When madness is your inheritance, how do you escape it? Scott Mast thought he got awayufirst from a family haunted by a dark fate, then from a dull career writing greeting cards in Seattle. But now he has come back to his New Hampshire hometown only to find that his family is in ruins, his nephew needs a home, and a shattering truth is clawing its way into the light. Fifteen years ago, Scott's mother died in a fire. And now the shadowy circumstancesuthe bodies buried beneath the ashes, the lives ripped apart that fateful dayuare starting to be revealed. The answers unspool in the pages of a peculiar old manuscriptuan unfinished ghost story written in his father's own hand that beckons Scott out to a strange house in the woods with a lightless corridor that cannot be seen from the outside. Here Scott Mast will uncover all that has been hiddenuand perhaps finish his father's unspeakable work.

Author Biography

Joe Schreiber is the author of Chasing the Dead, Eat the Dark, and No Doors, No Windows. He was born in Michigan but spent his formative years in Alaska, Wyoming, and Northern California. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife, two young children, and several original Star Wars action figures.


it was a long new hampshire fall, the kind that stayed mild well into October, and the man and the boy had spent the afternoon in the backyard, throwing a ball back and forth between two worn leather gloves the man had found in the garage. The boy was young, five that summer, but the man spoke to him in the easy, playful way he might’ve addressed a teenager, with an obvious affection that the boy repaid with rapt delight. They had come outside wearing jackets, but after a half hour of shagging runaway balls past the old toolshed to the cornfield that bordered the property, the man took off his denim jacket and draped it over a low branch of the maple that towered across the yard. Upon seeing this, the boy immediately shed his jacket too and tossed it on the ground. Anyone watching the two of them would’ve assumed they were father and son.

 When he saw the boy winding up to throw the ball underhand, the man turned and began to run back toward the cornfield, where experience had taught him he’d soon be diving to retrieve it. But some eccentricity of wind or gravity interceded, and the ball sailed over his head, momentarily blocking out the midafternoon sun before the man realized its final destination. In a perfect, stretching, never- to- be- repeated arc, the ball closed in on the darkened window of the toolshed, and a moment later, he heard the pop and tinkle of breaking glass. 

The boy stood frozen, oval- eyed, the glove dangling from his hand. “Uncle Scott?” 

“It’s okay.” The man, still catching his breath, slowed to a walk, approaching the shed with his shadow stretched out in front of him. Peering between the two or three snaggletoothed rectangles of glass remaining in the frame, he smelled musty canvas and ancient motor oil, dead grass and rotten leaves. Vague piles of equipment and tools loitered in the shadows, crouched low to the concrete floor. 

“What happened?” The boy sounded astounded by the enormity of his crime. 

“Don’t worry about it,” the man said, and looked with a rueful smile at the smudges on his sleeves, where he’d been leaning against the sill. “Piece of advice for you, kiddo. Never let a salesgirl talk you into paying eighty bucks for a shirt.” 


Walking around the wooden double doors, the man stopped again to examine the padlock that dangled from them like a slab of stone. 

“Ah. The plot thickens.” 

“What are we gonna do?” the boy asked. 

“For every lock, there’s a key.” He turned from the shed and walked across the yard toward the place where he’d grown up. It was a large, rambling old farmhouse that hadn’t changed substantially since his father had built it here fifty years ago. Here was the same enclosed back porch with the same rooty subterranean smell that he remembered disliking as a child and disliked now. More tools. An old railway lantern. A Coca- Cola sign. In one corner, a smiling wooden policeman, cut out with a jigsaw and hand- painted, raised one hand toward the wall. His father had made that, forever ago. 

Inside, the house smelled like a dozen different casseroles and hot dishes mingling into one generic aroma pool of gravy and starch. Entering the living room with the boy at his heels, the man, a nondescript New England exile named Scott Mast, walked past the lump on the sofa, mired in front of the television behind a platoon of empty brown bottles. On TV a pretty blonde in a tight T- shirt and tool belt was talking about rehabbing a hundred- year- old Federal house from 

Excerpted from No Doors, No Windows: A Novel by Joe Schreiber
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