They are a part of life but I still haven’t grown accustomed to them. In fact, I hate them so much I stopped taking walk-ins years ago…
It was a Tuesday morning and I had just poured a fresh cup of coffee. The aroma was rising in my nose as my computer booted up for the day. I was about to sit down and work on putting the final touches on the first draft of Johnny Walker Ranger: Demon Slayer, Vol. 2. I didn’t even get to sit my butt in the chair when the doorbell rang.
“I moved outta neighborhoods cause of crap like this.” I glanced at the bottom left of the computer screen. It was 7:59 a.m. “Better be Girl Scout cookies.” I placed my mug next to my computer and walked towards the door.
I turned the knob and pulled. The sunlight danced across my night-laden eyes and I squinted. I raised a hand over my forehead to shield my face from the light. I blinked a few times to focus on the shadowy figures standing before me. They came into view and I saw a man and woman around my age.
The man stood with his hands crossed in front of him. He was lanky, had scraggly facial hair and donned tattered jeans and red Dr. Pepper shirt. The lady had short brown hair with round features. She was wearing a white tank top and cut-off jean shorts.
I eyed them up and down. “Look, a homeless man and a hooker.” I motioned at the guy with my head. “Good thing you’re not an add for Dr. Pepper, cause if you were, I’d never drink the stuff.” I started to close the door.
The lady thrust her foot forward and stopped the door.
“Mr. Kincaid, please,” the man said and placed his hand on the lady’s shoulder.
“I don’t do walk-ins. Hold on, let me get my secretary so you can make an appointment.” I peeked over my shoulder. “Hey, Janet!” I paused for a moment then looked back at them. “She must be out. Sorry, you’ll have to reschedule—never.”
“Please!” The man raised his voice. His eyes rounded and a look of desperation flowed over him. His lip quivered. “I’m a friend of Trisha’s.”
The name punched me in the gut.
She came to me on a whim. She was having nightmares about an entity with the head of a goat skull, body of a feline, and tail of a serpent. To make a long story I short, I used my ability to save her from being cult stew.
I narrowed my eyes and glared at them for a few moments. “Fine.” I eased off the door. “You got five minutes to make sense or you’re gone.”
“Thank you,” the man nodded and came in.
“Stubborn jackass,” the woman said then walked over the threshold.
“Don’t mention it, Roxanne,” I huffed.
“I hate that song!” She snapped back.
“Who hates that song?” I snickered.
I stepped in front of them and made my way into the kitchen and arrived at the coffee pot. “Anyone want some? I just put it on.”
“Yes,” the man said. “We would both like a cup.” He gave the woman a brazen glare.
“We would.” The woman’s voice was flat, monotone.
The couple moved toward my table. He pulled the chair out for her and let her sit. He took his place next to her.
I poured them each a cup of coffee and placed it before them on the table.
“Thank you,” the man said and took a sip as the steam snaked around his face.
I pulled out a chair from the table, turned it around, and sat down with my arms draping over the back. “Your five minutes start now.”
“My name is James,” the man said. “This is my wife, Alice.”
I acknowledge them with a nod.
“You helped Trisha, and now I need you to help my wife,” James said.
I glared at the woman as she wrapped her lips around the cup. “Someone looks like they think I’m a fake.”
“Excuse me,” the woman strutted her head back like a turkey.
“Yeah. I seen that look a thousand times,” I said.
Alice wrapped her hands around the mug and glanced down, her eyes heavy. “I—I do have a hard time believing any of this.”
I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms. “Number one, its early and I don’t like morning interruptions. Number two, its early and I don’t like morning interruptions. And three, I don’t like interruptions so get on with it. You either want my help or not.”
“My wife has lost something very important to her,” James said.
I rolled my neck then rubbed the back of it. “Dear Lord, please?” I lifted my eyes while my head was lowered. “I’m not a psychic lost and found. Get out.” I waved my hands at them.
“Told you he was a fake,” Alice said and pushed her cup away.
James gripped her wrist. “Just wait.”
“If I was a smoker, I would light one up right now,” I said. “The mood calls for it.” I placed my forearms on the table and interlocked my fingers. I breathed in deep and exhaled. I could hear the ringing of my computer as updates and messages dinged off. I shot a glance over at it then returned my eyes to my audience. “People usually call me a fake to try and manipulate me to do what they want. Doesn’t work on me. If you think I am a fake or a circus side show, you can drag your ass out the same way you came in. We are done.”
I stood up from the table and kicked my chair back. “You want a prediction? You both will die one day. How’s that?”
Alice placed the back of her hand over her mouth and gasped. James hung his head.
“Alice, stop.” James lifted his eyes to me. “She doesn’t mean it.” He glared at Alice. “Tell him.”
Alice placed her hands on the table and cleared her throat. “I am sorry I offended you.” She wouldn’t look at me. “Please, I need your help.”
I grabbed the back of my chair, lifted it, then slammed it down and scooched it toward the table. “Fine.” I sat down.
“Tell him why you are here, babe.” James set his cup down on the table.
Alice adjusted in her seat. “Someone very close to me—well who used to be very close to me—gave me something when we were young. Two white stones.”
“Who gave them to you?” I asked.
“My younger sister, Rachel. I was eight and she was five when she gave them to me. I carried them everywhere. They were special because she used her own money to buy them then gave them to me as a birthday present.” Alice teared up. “She died fifteen years ago in a car accident. Since then I have been looking for those stones and can’t find them.” Alice wiped her eyes. “So, Mr. Kincaid, I need to find them. They are all I have to remember her by.”
I gave a slow nod. My heart was moved with compassion and I all the sudden wasn’t annoyed by her anymore. I stretched out my hands across the table. “Let me see your hands, Alice.”
Alice was hesitant. She looked to James for assurance and his expression told her it was all right. Alice placed her hands in mine.
“First, I am going to prove I am not a fake.” I closed my eyes. “I am searching your memories.”
Alice gave a slight twitch when I started.
“I see—your childhood.” My countenance fell. “So much pain and sadness.”
Alice let out a soft whimper.
“Someone. They threw things at you. A red thermos.”
Alice went to speak but I cut her off.
“No. I’m confusion two things. I see a red ball, two black eyes, and a thermos—”
“Lock.” Alice said.
“Yes.” I nodded.
We opened are eyes and gazed at one another.
“I was bullied bad. From elementary through high school.” Alice began to cry. “The bullies—”
“Shayna, Julie, and Amanda,” I said.
Alice pulled her hand away from mine and placed it over her lip. Her fingers trembled. “How did you—”
“Tell me what happened.” I held her other hand tight.
“One day at P.E.,” she swallowed. “They cornered me with those red rubber balls you use for dodge ball. Then they pelted me with them. Shayna hit me right in the nose and blackened both my eyes.”
“What about the locks?” I asked
Alice closed her eyes and bit her lips. “When I would run up or down the stairs in the hall. The kids would throw locks at me. The brand was thermos.”
“Dear Lord,” I said and shook my head. I stared at her with mixed emotions. Part of me felt sorry for her and the other part of me wanted to track those people down and shove the locks into every open cavity of their body. “Give me your other hand. I need to keep searching.”
Alice reached so I took hold of her hand. Her fingers and palms had grown clammy.
I searched her memories again. “You’re one constant was your teddy bear, Clark.”
Alice teared up again. “Yes.’
Then I was in deep. Her memories were flashing before me. “Alice. I see you as a child. You are in the woods. You are burying your toys.” Then my voice changed. It was that of Alice when she was a little girl. “It’s okay, no one will find you here. You are safe.” My voice returned to normal. “Alice, what is this?” I opened my eyes.
Alice’s body shook as she sobbed. “How did you know I buried my toys? I have never told anyone that. Not my mother. Not my sister. Not even James. I had forgotten.” The look on Alice’s face was one of amazement and sorrow. “I am so sorry I doubted you.”
I held out my hand to stop her. “Why did you bury your toys?” I asked.
“Because the kids. The bullies. They would steal my toys or destroy them. So, I started to bury them.” Alice said.
I closed my eyes again. “I saw young Alice again in the woods next to her buried toys. “I see you holding two white stones. You buried them with your toys.”
Alice jerked her hands from mine and placed them over her mouth. “My God. I did! I remember! I buried them there because Shayna tried to steal them from me at school one day.”
“There still there.” I told her. “Do you remember where the place is?”
Alice nodded. “I do. My mother still lives in the same house I grew up in. I remember the stop between the two trees.”
I looked at Alice then at James. “Take her there. She will find the stones.” I stood up from the table.
James reached across to shake my hand. “Thank you,’ he said. His eyes were wide, and his face beamed with thankfulness.
I clasped his hand. “Glad I could help.”
Alice ran and gave me a hug. “Please forgive me for doubting. Thank you so much.”
I pulled her away and smiled. “Don’t thank me yet. You haven’t been to see if they really are there.”
“Oh, they are.” She gave me a half smile. “I remember it clearly now.”
I saw the couple to the door and gave James my number. “Call me if she finds it.”
“Will do,” He took the slip of paper with my cell number.
We said our goodbyes and I returned to my computer to work on Johnny Walker Ranger: Demon Slayer, Vol. 2.
Four hours later my phone rang.
“Mr. Kincaid, it’s James.”
“Yeah, hey James.”
“Alice found the stones right where you said they would be.”
Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him- Genesis 5:24
Noah raised the fruit to eye level. Its translucent color sparkled like a diamond in the sun. It’s shape, oval, fitting in the palm of his hand. Its skin was smooth and mellifluous. “What is this,” Noah asked, his sun worn face scrunched in curiosity. A loud thunderclap echoed across the black sky. Michael the archangel glanced up at the menacing clouds, then back at Noah. “It’s the only surviving fruit of the tree of life. You must guard it, and guard it with your life.” Noah’s eyes widened. “So, the legend is true? But I thought Shamsiel destroyed all the fruit?” “Ah yes, Shamsiel,” Michael nodded in remembrance as his face soured. “The guardian cherub.” His eyes met Noah’s. “We thought he did. His rage over Lilith being cast out knew no bounds. If it hadn’t been for Seth,” Michael’s voice trailed off as he stared at the ark. “What, Michael?” Noah lowered the fruit and cupped it in both hands. “If it hadn’t been for Seth rummaging through the rubble, we wouldn’t have known either.” Noah sat on the ground watching Shem struggle to get a sheep up the ramp to the ark. “Tell me more, Michael.” Michael sat down by Noah. “Your ancestor Seth found it. He passed it down and eventually Enoch, the man of God, took the fruit.” “Yes, and legend says God took him up to the heavens.” “Indeed, he did. Do you know why?” Noah shook his head.
“Because Enoch took a bite of the fruit.” Noah’s hand felt the indention on the backside of the fruit. He flipped it over and his mouth gaped. “Indeed, he did.” Noah looked at Michael, his face begging him to continue. “God had to take Enoch. Enoch wasn’t supposed to happen. A fallen man from Adam’s race now endued with eternal life in his sinful state.” “Was God angry,” Noah asked. Michael smirked, “No, he wasn’t angry. He loves Enoch. He enacted a plan.” Noah raised his eyebrows. “What kind of a plan?” “Well, “Michael pursed his lips in thought. “Enoch dug up Eve’s grave and buried the fruit with her.” He gave Noah a sly smile. “Proved to be a remarkable hiding spot.” Noah nodded in agreement. Michael said, “After Enoch hid the fruit, Yahweh took Enoch to heaven. Enoch has now been placed as guardian over the fruit. If the fruit is in danger of falling into the wrong hands, Enoch will come, ready to fight and ensure the fruit remains safe.” “So, you’re giving it to me? So, it will not be lost in the grand deluge?” “You catch on fast, old man,” Michael patted Noah on the back. Noah gave a half-smile then studied the fruit. “I will guard it well, Michael.” Noah’s gaze met Michael’s. “I make an oath to Yahweh on my very life.” “Very good. I know you will not fail us.” A deafening thunder shook the heavens, and Noah felt the first drop of rain graze the top of his ear.
In the years following the flood, as Noah’s descendants spread across the land, the secret of the fruit remained with Noah. Before he died, Noah entrusted this knowledge to his sons, Ham, Shem, and Japeth. The three brothers guarded the fruit well, and as they aged, the trio sought a prudent man to entrust with their family’s secret.
But none could be found.
Nimrod thrust his dagger into the stomach of the lion. He had killed the beast not even five minutes ago. The cold months were approaching, and he needed warm hide to cover his massive frame. He slid the dagger down and the blood ran. He pushed his hand into the warm liquid and the copper smell hit is nostrils. He grabbed a chunk of innards and began to gut the lion. As he worked, he thought about Ham, the head of the clan. He was on his deathbed. Maybe he should make the hide into a covering for him? No, he thought. Let the old bastard die.
Nimrod dragged the carcass back to his clan’s camp. He walked in and heard Ham’s faint voice calling for him from within his tent. Nimrod sighed, dropped the lion, and stepped into Ham’s tent. “Yes, my lord.” “Come see, my son.” Ham’s voice was a wheezing whisper. Nimrod eased over to Ham’s bed and knelt beside him. “Take my hand,” Ham demanded. Nimrod reached out and held Ham’s hand. It was cold and slick. The hand of a dying man. “I’m here, my lord.” “Nimrod, my time on this earth is about to expire. I need you to gather my brothers and my sons and daughters.” Nimrod went to release Ham’s hand and obey his orders, but Ham squeezed tighter. “Wait my child. Before I die, there is something I need to tell you. It’s a secret. A secret of grave importance. I’ve held this secret because there has been no one worthy to pass it on to. But you,” Ham coughed and wheezed. “But you are a great warrior, and a great warrior is needed to protect,” Ham’s words were cut short with more coughing.
Nimrod’s brow furrowed in confusion. “My lord, I don’t understand.” “Come closer my child, and I will tell you.” Nimrod leaned in and Ham revealed to him the knowledge of the fruit. Shem and Japeth entered the tent. Shem held a bowl of stew, ready to feed Ham his lunch. “And the fruit is buried in the mountains of Ararat, where Noah built the first altar to Yahweh after the flood.” Shem’s hands grew weak and the bowl of stew fell to the ground with a sloshing thud. “Dear God, Ham. What have you done?” Nimrod smiled over his shoulder at Shem and Japeth, an insidious gleam in his eye. Ham breathed his last breath and his spirit left to join his ancestors in the bosom of Yahweh. Japeth licked his lips and swallowed hard. Cold chills twisted up his spine. “Nimrod…no.” Shem and Japeth knew what kind of man Nimrod was. Ham had always refused to see. Nimrod stood to his feet. “Well, brothers. I think it would be wise of you to tell me where this altar is.” Shem’s wrinkled, old face contorted with anger. “I would rather go to Sheol than tell you where the fruit is buried!” “Very well, “Nimrod nodded. He drew his sword which was attached to his waist. With one fluid motion, he lopped Shem’s head off. A blood rainbow geysered from his neck, decorating the inside of the tent. Shem’s body toppled to the floor and Nimrod turned his attention to Japeth. The old man went down on both knees and shook his head. “I will not tell you either.” “So be it!” Nimrod swung and decapitated Japeth. As his headless body hit the dirt, blood flowed around Nimrod’s feet. Nimrod stepped over the body and poked his head out of the tent. When he was sure no one had heard the commotion, he sneaked out the camp, leaving the lion carcass, and traveled to the mountains of Ararat. Lucifer sat in the shadows, watching the entire scene, a sinister plan stirring in his dark heart.
Enoch approached Yahweh’s throne, his face shrouded in the darkness of his gray, hooded cloak. His body burned with the fire of Yahweh. He drew his sword and knelt before God. “Yes, My Lord.” “The secret of the fruit has been jeopardized.” Enoch lifted his head. “I know. I felt it.” “And Lucifer prowls about.” “Lucifer…” Enoch growled. “Go,” Yahweh commanded. “Release Azazel and the other watchers from prison- Amazarak, Baraqel, and Suriel. They will aid you in your quest.” “It will be as you will,” Enoch said, then rose to his feet to go to Tartarus and release the watchers.
A cool breeze flowed through the mountains. It entered a cave and rolled over the sleeping body of Nimrod, awakening him with a shiver. “I should have kept the lion,” he mumbled to himself. Nimrod sat up to stoke the fire he had built. His eyes detected movement in the corner. Nimrod drew his dagger. As the embers of the fire danced up in the air, he saw a figure in the shadows. The entities eyes glowed orange. Its skin was onyx, with a sapphire breastplate covering its chest. The figure extended charcoal wings with singed feathers, gleaming like the embers of Nimrod’s fire. “Put the blade down, Nimrod,” the being said and stepped out of the shadows. “It won’t do you any good.” It had been years, but Nimrod recognized the creature. “Lucifer?” Lucifer smiled, revealing jagged, opaque teeth which also reflected the dim light of the fire. “Yes. And I’m sure you can guess why I am here.” Nimrod returned his dagger to its sheath. “Oh, I can take a wild guess. The fruit.”
Lucifer gave a slow nod. “I’ve been waiting all these years for Noah and his family to stumble,” Lucifer chuckled. “I always knew it would be Ham.” “What do you want with the fruit, Lucifer, “Nimrod asked, his voice lacking amusement. “To make you like the mighty men of renown. The mighty men of old. The Nephilim. Then you shall devour the fruit, and we shall live forever, and be the rightful rulers of this creation.” Nimrod smirked. “Tell me more, brother.” Plans were made, and Lucifer entered Nimrod. Nimrod’s body twisted and contorted, his features taking on those of Lucifer’s, except his skin remained its olive color. His torso expanded and his limbs elongated. A pair of singed wings emerged from his back. Nimrod grew so large, he had to get on all fours to crawl out the entrance of the cave. “Go,” Nimrod heard a voice in his head saying. “I know where the altar used to be.”
Enoch sank his sword into the rocky ground of the mountain. It split open, and he saw the shimmering of the fruit of the tree of life. His emerald eyes glowed under the darkness of his hood as he glanced over his shoulder at Azazel, Amazarak, Baraqel, and Suriel. “The fruit is still here. We are not too late,” Enoch said Azazel threw off his cloak. His wine-colored scales refracted the light, causing it to sparkle like a gem. Eight tales like a scorpion aligned his back- four on each side running vertically. The tails outstretched like wings, hovering over his body. Powerful reptilian legs supported the frame, and one of its massive arms formed into a blade at the hand. Azazel’s face had been peeled back, revealing bulging eyes and a black skull with the red sinews still attached. He breathed in deep. “He is close,” Azazel turned to the other watchers. “Prepare yourselves.” The other watchers removed their cloaks. They resembled Azazel in appearance except Amazarak was a light blue, Baraqel a golden yellow, and Suriel a deep red. Enoch removed his sword from the rock and stood in front of the watchers. The ground began to shake, as a figure in the distance rumbled towards them. A few moments later, the Lucifer- Nimrod hybrid loomed over them. “Stand aside Enoch. The fruit is mine,” the creature’s voice flowed deep.
Enoch threw his hood back. Black spikes covered his pale head, which was aligned with various tribal markings. His green eyes darkened. “You cannot kill what cannot die.” Enoch bared his teeth and made the first move. Nimrod swung his sword and blocked Enoch’s attack. The blow was so forceful, Enoch flipped in the air and crashed against the side of the mountain. The watchers moved in fast. Their blade arms flailing and connecting with Nimrod’s flesh. Nimrod cried out in anger and pain. While he was preoccupied with Suriel and Baraqel, Azazel was able to slip in behind him. Azazel leaped onto Nimrods back. As he did, he sank all of his scorpion legs into Nimrod’s sides and chest. Amazarack saw his opening and thrust his blade arm into Nimrod’s stomach. Blood flowed from Nimrod’s wounds and his body grew weak. With a show of strength, he brought his sword crashing down on Amazarack’s arm, severing it. Amazarack retreated in pain, and Nimrod removed the blade, then fell to his knees. Azazel released his grasp, and Baraqel kicked Nimrod in the chest, collapsing him to the ground. By this time Enoch was on his feet. He approached Nimrod and stood over him. “As I said,” Enoch raised his sword. “You cannot kill what cannot die.” He brought the blade down like a bolt of lightning into Nimrod’s heart. Nimrod breathed his last, and Lucifer ascended out of him and flew into the heavens. Enoch and the watchers looked on until Lucifer was out of sight. They inspected the fruit one last time, then sealed the crevice. Enoch and the watchers returned to heaven, leaving Nimrod’s body to decay in the mountains.
Shamsiel saw the entire thing. He descended the mountain and stood where Enoch had split the ground. Shamsiel’s head resembled a gigantic, black goat skull with long horns. His black and red feline body gripped a flaming sword in its human hands. His tail, a viper, slithered around his feet. He raised the sword above his head and then slammed it into the rock. The ground split and Shamsiel saw something sparkle. He reached into the crevice and took hold of the fruit. Shamsiel brought the fruit to eye level and inspected it. His grip around it tightened. His voice echoed as he talked. It was a low, guttural voice that rolled like thunder. “It’s not over Lilith. Not at all.”
“Shadowend Funeral Home?” Robby Falcon turned his gray F-150 off the main road of Baker High School and onto the service road that led to the interstate. “Brayden, that placed stopped being scary when we were in elementary school.”
Brayden Briley, packed his dip can with a loud pop and said, “Look, Falcon, it’s not about being scary man. It’s about having the place to ourselves.” Brayden opened the dip can, swiped out some tobacco, and stuck it in his front lip. He wiped his lip and checked his face in the side mirror to make sure no remnants of tobacco hung on. He looked at Falcon again. “Remember? Privacy?” Brayden reached in his back pack and produced a dime bag of weed and a fifth of whiskey.
Falcon did a double take. “Brayden, dammit! Put that away man. People can see!” Falcon slapped at him with one hand and kept the other on the steering wheel, then turned left to merge onto the interstate.
Brayden chuckled, “Don’t be such a baby, Falcon. No one can see.” Brayden stuffed the alcohol and weed into his back pack, hiding it underneath his history and math book.
Falcon’s face relaxed when he saw Brayden stow their stash away. “And how do you know Shadowend will not be occupied with other said teens engaging in underage drinking and other shenanigans?” He checked the rearview. His curly, sandy blond hair was damp and disheveled from 7th hour P.E.
Brayden placed an arm on the seat and grabbed Falcon’s shoulder. “Look man, that placed stopped being a party spot in the early 90s man. Sure, in the 80s it was the place to go. The stories were fresh then and people were looking for a scare. The place is so dead now, that not even the cops go out there. It’s perfect. The funeral home is considered so lame and overdone, its almost like its not even there.” He removed an empty plastic water bottle from the cup holder and spat.
Falcon sped up and merged. “Did you invite them?”
“Yeah.” Brayden spat again.
“And they said they’d come. What’s the big deal?”
Falcon gave Brayden a backhand to the chest. The slap made a hollow echo throughout the cab. “What do you mean ‘what’s the big deal’? I’ve been trying to go out with Sarah since like 8th grade.”
Brayden made an umf sound and almost spat his dip on the windshield, then giggled. “I know, so don’t screw this up. Which, by the way, when I talked to Annie and invited them, she said that Sarah had told her just the other day about how hot you looked in your baseball uniform.” He jabbed Falcon in the ribs. “Huh? Huh?? Hey slugger?”
Falcon swiped at Brayden’s hand and gave a half smile. “What time did you tell them to meet us out there?” Falcon took his exit.
“2:00 am.” Brayden scratched his head, disturbing his short and wild black hair.
“2:00 am it is,” Falcon said, and took a left.
The full moon hung high over Shadowend that night. It directed its rays on the dilapidated funeral home like a spotlight, as if the structure was a lone actor on a stage of rustling tree branches and waving grass. Falcon and Brayden pulled up to the building five minutes before 2.
Shadowend sat on ten acres of land. An overgrown road with busted asphalt led back to the main building, which sat encircled by a wrought iron fence. The once active funeral home and cemetery stayed in business until 1980, when unexpectedly, the owners fled or disappeared. Soon after, the rumors circulated about the owners. A Satanic cult, eaters of the dead, child murders, aliens, and whatever else the imaginative minds of teenagers could come up with. But the truth was, no one knew.
The lights on Falcon’s truck shined on the face of the funeral home. The Victorian looking house, once a pristine white, now faded old and graying, like a sad elderly man in his last years of life. The windows were cracked, and some had holes the size of baseballs in them. The screen door sat cockeyed on its hinges, and the post which held up the awning of the porch was leaning..
“Oh, nice pick Brayden,” Falcon said, staring through the windshield. “I hope someone doesn’t fart too loud. They might knock the place down.”
“She’ll hold, capn’,” Brayden said in a terrible imitation pirate voice. “Now come on.” Brayden grabbed his backpack and got out the truck. Falcon killed the engine and followed.
A few seconds later, headlights appeared. It was Annie and Sarah. The two girls hopped out of Annie’s white Mustang and Sarah waved a bottle of vodka at them. “The whiskey won’t be enough, boys.” She said and winked at Falcon.
Falcon gave Sarah a nervous smile. Man, she looks so hot, he thought. Her red hair glistened in the moonlight, as if each particle were made of rubies. “You look nice.” Falcon said, then regretted how awkward it sounded.
Brayden snickered then said, “Yeah Sarah, I tried to talk Falcon in to wearing his baseball uniform, but he refused.” He put his arm around Annie and gave her a wink.
Sarah cut her eyes at Annie, then Brayden.
“Oh whatever,” Annie said. “We all know you have the hots for one another. Just get it over with.”
Falcon and Sarah exchanged skittish smiles, then Falcon reached out his hand. “Come on, let’s go explore the house.”
Sarah flipped her hair over her shoulder and grabbed his hand. Falcon walked her down the cracked cobblestone walkway and up the porch to the cockeyed screen door. Annie and Brayden followed.
Falcon turned his phone light on, then opened the front door. The light reflected off a dangling chandelier, hanging almost head level. Directly in front of them were red, carpeted stairs with white railings. Strewn across the floor were broken pieces of furniture, mortar from the ceiling, and numerous beer cans. In the back of the room, a dark hallway drew their attention.
“What do you think is back there?” Sarah asked.
“The morgue,” Brayden said and stepped through. “Come on, or you just gonna sit there and stare at it all night?”
The four teens eased through the doorway and let the screen door bang behind them. They skipped to the hallway, as if dodging landmines, trying not to trip on all the debris scattered across the floor. With all the lights on their phones shining, the group followed Brayden down the long hallway, then half way down, turned left.
Their lights gleamed back at them and reflected off a rusted chrome table, littered with grass, dirt, empty cigarette packs, and other pieces of trash that had deteriorated into unrecognizable black smut. A tube from the embalming station dangled over the side.
“Come on, Annie. Climb up there and lay down.” Brayden raised his eyebrows and winked.
“That is so disgusting.” Sarah coughed and placed a hand over her mouth.
Annie slapped Brayden. “So romantic.”
A deep humming noise, hollow and echoing, buzzed from the back of the mortuary.
“What was that?” Falcon asked.
Brayden motioned with his head. “Sounded like it came from the cold chambers.”
“Cold chambers? What’s that?” Annie tilted her head.
“The place where they would store the bodies.” Falcon said and followed Brayden to the back of the room.
The cold chambers sat along the wall in rows of threes. The doors were open, and the table on the one at the bottom left was rolled halfway out.
The humming noise came again.
“Where is that coming from?” Sarah stepped closer and squinted into the darkness.
Falcon shined his light on the cold chambers. “Sounds like its coming from one of those.”
The sound flowed again, this time softer.
Brayden eased forward and knelt by the cold chamber; the one with the table rolled out. He held his hand over the opening, palm facing forward. “I feel a breeze.”
Falcon knelt beside him, crawled halfway into the chamber, and shined his light into the back. “You guys aren’t going to believe this.”
Sarah placed a hand on Falcon’s leg. “What?’
“There’s an opening back here. Like a tunnel or something.” Falcon crawled further in. A trash bag had been duct taped over an opening and it crackled as a breeze waved it. He pushed the bag aside with the back of his hand and shinned his light through the opening. “Oh yeah. It’s a tunnel.”
“Sweet,” Brayden said. “Let’s see where it leads.”
“Um, no!” Annie grabbed Brayden’s jeans by the waist and tried to pull him back.
Sarah cracked open the bottle of vodka and took a swig. “Come on, Annie. Don’t be such a little bitch.”
Annie snatched the bottle from Sarah and took a sip. “Fine.”
“Hey give me some.” Brayden tried to grab the bottle.
Annie pushed his forehead. Brayden chuckled, took the bottle, and drank.
“Hey assholes, y’all coming?” Falcon’s voiced flowed from the tunnel. He was already in.
The three teens giggled, then joined Falcon.
The tunnel sloped in a slight decline, and there was dirt on all the sides, top, and bottom. They could still feel the cool breeze coming from ahead of them. The air smelled musty, like an old library. Falcon fought his way through spiderwebs and other retreating insects.
“Hey Annie, let’s hope they ain’t got no rats down here,” Brayden joked.
“Ew, shut up.” Annie slapped his butt.
“Hey! Stairs!” Falcon yelled from the front of the line. Before him, the tunnel widened to a winding metal staircase. The teens scurried down the steps, and when all their feet touched the floor, they stood, mouths agape at their surroundings.
“What is it?” Sarah turned in circles, shining her light. She then snatched the bottle from Annie.
“Stain glass window. Pews. Looks like a church,” Falcon said.
“Buried under ground?” Annie asked.
Falcon shrugged, still glancing around.
“Holy shit! Look at that!” Brayden pointed his light straight ahead.
The teens stood at the back of the sanctuary. The middle aisle led to where the pulpit should be, except there wasn’t a pulpit. What looked to be an old pine box rested in the middle of the stage, having been covered with stacks of old Bibles and religious relics. Only the corners of the pine box remained visible. Bibles and relics had even been piled on the floor around it and up the sides.
Falcons started down the aisle. “That’s odd. Like really odd.” He craned his neck around and glance at his friends, then smiled. “Let’s check it out!”
Brayden raised his eyebrows and followed.
“Look,” Annie protested. “I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why that box is covered with Bibles and stuff. We should leave it alone.” She eased behind Brayden.
Falcon arrived first and blew the dust off some of the Bibles. “What do you think’s in the box?”
Brayden lifted his shoulders, then he and Falcon exchanged mischievous glances. “Let’s find out.” The boys began to push and fling the Bibles and relics onto the floor, making loud thuds and clanging sounds.
Sarah drank more vodka, not at all interested in this little adventure anymore.
Annie bit her nails and fidgeted with her hair.
The top of the pine box had torn out pages from the Bibles glued to it.
“You think it’s a coffin?” Brayden asked and ran his hands along the pages.
Falcon nodded. “Sure looks like it.” He studied the relics on the floor, then grabbed one. It was an old iron cross, with the end fashioned in a point. Falcon jabbed the point between the lid and the box and pried. He went along the entire left side, popping all the nails loose. He threw the relic to the ground, then called to the girls. “Hey ladies, time for the big reveal.”
Brayden rubbed his hands together, giddy as a school girl. Sarah huffed, drank some more vodka, then shuffled over rolling her eyes. Annie tip toed over with sweaty palms.
“Guys, like I said, that thing was buried for a reason. I don’t think opening it…is a good idea.” Annie bit her lip.
Brayden rubbed her back. “Oh come on. Are you serious? It’s probably just an old decaying corpse.”
“Yeah and besides, we’ve found something here no one else has. Who knows? Maybe this discovery will make this place poppin’ again.” Falcon grasped the lid with both hands and lifted it opened. The old wood groaned in protest.
Brayden shined his light into the coffin, and his mouth fell open. Annie clamped a hand over her’s with a gasp. Sarah dropped the vodka bottle, and Falcon furrowed his brow.
Lying in the coffin was a body no more than five feet long. It was wrapped in faded cloth. Written on the cloth were more religious symbols and phrases in Latin. White hair snaked out from the corpse’s head, and a small opening was cut over the mouth. In the opening was a rolled-up piece of paper.
Falcon went to pull the piece of paper out its mouth but was stopped by Annie’s hand clamping around his wrist. “No. Absolutely not,” she grimaced. “This isn’t right. This doesn’t feel right. We need to go.”
Falcon jerked his arm away and dismissed her.He retrieved the paper and unrolled it.
“Well?” Brayden asked.
Falcon handed him the page. “More Latin.”
Brayden tossed the paper on the body. “Too bad none of us can read it.” A movement caught Brayden’s attention out the corner of his eye. He stared down at the corpse. “Hey did y’all see that!”
Falcon waved a hand at Brayden. “Stop messing around. I’m gonna shut the lid.”
“Thank God,” Annie mumbled and rubbed her arms with her hands. “Feels like it’s gotten colder since we’ve been here.”
“No I’m serious look at her mouth!” Brayden pointed.
The group leaned in to get a better look. The cloth around the corpse’s mouth moved in and out, as if it were breathing. .
“That’s it I’m done.” Annie pushed away from the coffin and sprinted down the aisle toward the stairs. The other three turned their attention away from the coffin and watched Annie in disbelief.
Sarah was the first to look back at the coffin. When she did, she screamed. The corpse sat up, and the breathing became more visible, as the cloth around its lungs expanded and relaxed. In reactionary manner Brayden, who always carried a folding knife with a four-inch blade, whipped it out and started stabbing the corpse in the chest. He than worked on the stomach and tore away the old cloth. A translucent liquid poured out, followed by a flurry of baby eels.
“Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod!” Brayden dropped the knife and leaped back.
Falcon slammed the lid and dashed towards the stairs. Sarah had already joined Annie. The four teens scurried up the stairs, crawled through the tunnel and out the cold chambers. They ran back down the hall, then paused at the front door. A shadow moved passed the window, and faint moaning sound came from the porch.
“Is there another way out?” Sarah asked between breaths.
“The back.” Brayden turned toward the hall and sprinted, the others right behind him.
The teens arrived at the back door, which was a faded and chipping white. Brayden turned the brass deadbolt and opened the door. Concrete steps led down to a cobblestone walkway. The walkway led to the abandoned cemetery. Through the clearing they could see a tall hill. The full moon hung over it and illuminated the top. They watched as shadows loomed. Something approached from the back side of the hill. As the things moved closer, the shadows took form.
They looked human.
A few seconds passed, then a mass of human figures appeared. They walked with contorted and jerky gestures and moaned. Some tripped over each other and rolled down the hill.
Brayden slammed the door and locked it back. “Guys we are seriously…”
“The truck,” Falcon interrupted. “It’s our only chance. We can make it if we go now.”
The others nodded, and they took off down the hallway. Falcon led the way. He went to pass by the mortuary room but jolted to a stop. The others bumped into his back.
“What the hell? Why’d you stop!” Sarah shrieked.
Annie shined her light ahead, then let out an ear-piercing shrill.
The corpse from the coffin stood in the middle of the hallway. The grave cloths hung off her in shreds. Her skin was as pale as the moonlight. Symbols were cared into her body; not the religious symbols that once decorated her coffin, but different ones. Evil, dark looking ones. Eels still pumped forth from her stomach, falling to the ground with sloshing and splattering sounds. Her white hair seemed to glow, and her eyes looked like dark red marbles. She opened her mouth and her tongue flopped out, falling all the way to the floor with the eels. The end danced and curled on the floor. Yellow eyes formed in the tip of her tongue, as did a slit. The slit opened, and the bottom unhinged like a snake, revealing fangs.
Annie turned to run away. The tongue wrapped around her ankle and tripped her to the ground. The eels were on Annie before her face thudded against the floor. In a matter of seconds, they had eaten her skin off.
Brayden went to grab the tongue. When he got close, it struck him on the hand. He felt a warm liquid pump from the fangs into his hand. The fluid filled his entire body within moments, and a burning sensation hit him all over. He looked at his arms, and his pores leaked a red and purple liquid. Brayden fell to the ground in pain, where he sweated his insides out his pores till he died.
Sarah and Falcon couldn’t move. Fear deadened their limbs. They gawked as the tongue grew in length and thickness. The tongue coiled up and stared at them with its yellow eyes and flickering tongue. It struck Sarah first, right in the mid-section. She screamed and grabbed for Falcon. Falcon tried to hold on, but the snake proved too powerful. He watched with tear-soaked eyes and a pounding heart as the tongue-snake swallowed Sarah. Even when she was in its belly, he could still hear her screams.
Falcon backed away and stepped into the mortuary. The tongue shrank and rolled back into the lady’s mouth. She matched Falcon’s steps, going with him into the mortuary. A clattering sound rang out as Falcon backed into the embalming table. The lady’s hands extended with a slow, smooth movement towards Falcons’ neck.
Falcon stared deep into her dark red eyes. His head spun, and he became disoriented. He fell back and laid on the table. The last thing Falcon saw before he died was the embalming needle moving up his nose.
The lady didn’t bother to dispose of the bodies. She even left Falcon lying on the embalming table. She shuffled out the room, then went down the hall toward the front of the house. She walked around the staircase and into the sitting room. She sat down in her rocker and rocked. She reminisced about her days at Shadowend, when the home was in its prime.
Tara Stillman shouldered her black Guess purse, closed the door to her brown Pinto, and bent down to the side mirror to check her make up. She stood up, tucked her straight blonde hair behind her ears, and walked around the front of the car. Tara was a junior at Ellender Memorial, and she scored a baby-sitting job with the Miller’s this past year.
Mr. Miller worked for her dad, Don, who married Sandy Lockhorn back in 1964. A year later, he started a contracting business called Stillman’s Quality Painting and Contracting. He hired Tim Miller on as a project manager back in April of ‘84, and the two hit it off pretty well. Tim and his wife, Diana, wanted to start going out a little more, you know, rekindle the ole flame, so they were in need of a sitter for their seven-year-old son, Eddie. Don volunteered Tara, and the rest as they say, was history. Tara likes the gig okay. It’s nice to have some money in her pocket, even though little Eddie can be a real snot at times.
She walked down the brick sidewalk and up the wooden steps of the dark stained porch and knocked on the door. She heard the pattering of little feet on the wood floor, as Eddie scurried to answer the door. She could hear him fiddling with the lock, which he was finally able to turn over. The door opened and a boy with a flat top and two missing front teeth was there to greet her.
“Tara!” Eddie ran and gave her left leg a tight embrace.
Eddie was always excited to see her–at first anyway. Then after a while, he would descend into his cave of brattiness and not climb out till morning.
One time, Tara decided to do the whole “breakfast for dinner” thing and made Eddie pancakes. When she was done serving him his food, she walked out to go to the bathroom. When she returned about 3 minutes later, there was Eddie, standing on the kitchen island with a bottle of empty syrup. Its content was dripping from the ceiling. Eddie had wanted to see how far it would squirt out the bottle, and he thought the ceiling would be a good target. When Mr. and Mrs. Miller got home later that night, Tara told them what had happened. They assured her they would deal with it–yeah, right. Then there was this other time that Tara walked away from her glass of sweet tea. Eddie saw his opportunity. He poured baking soda in it and waited for her reaction.
“Hey bud!” Tara rubbed his head like she was petting a dog. “Where’s your mom and dad?”
“Tara? That you?” She could hear Mr. Miller from the kitchen.
“Yessir, its me.”
Eddie let go of her leg and ran to the kitchen. Tara followed, walking through the dining room to her left, and through to the kitchen to the right. Mr. Miller was there by the fridge, sucking down a Budweiser before they hit the road. He was a ruddy looking man with a nice tan and head full of brown curls.
Mrs. Miller was at the sink, loading the last of the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Tara always thought Mrs. Miller was very pretty. She had strawberry blonde hair that seemed to wave at you when she walked. Her complexion was a little on the fair side, but her blue eyes were her most striking feature.
“Hey, honey.” Mrs. Miller reached for a dishtowel that was hanging on the oven handle, dried her hands, and gave Tara a hug. “I’ve got some spaghetti in a pot there on the stove for when y’all get hungry. We should be back around 10:30 or 11”
Tara looked at her watch. It was 5:52 p.m.
“Also, Mr. and Mrs. Walker are home this evening, so if you need anything, just walk next door and ask.”
“Oh, and bedtime is 8:30’ Mr. Miller interjected.
Tara has been sitting for the Miller’s for just over a year now. She knows the routine, but they still deem it necessary to spell it out for her. She guessed it’s just what parents did. Made them feel better about leaving their kids behind while they go off.
“Thanks, dear.” Mrs. Miller gave her a smile.
“You two run along. Don’t want y’all being late. We’ll have fun as always.” Tara smiled back.
Mr. Miller escorted his wife by the arm and out of the kitchen. Tara heard the door open and shut, and she could hear the sound of their voices flutter off into the distance.
That evening her and Eddie played basketball, He-Man, and watched an episode of the Twilight Zone. 8:30 rolled around and Tara proceeded to get Eddie ready for bed. Eddie wasn’t having it. He started to get into one of his little snotty moods.
“Eddie, you need to go brush your teeth. It’s 8:30. Time for bed.” Tara got off the couch, walked over to the television, and switched it off.
Eddie, who was sitting on the floor about three feet away from the television, started to mount his protest. “But I’m not tired! Please let me stay up and watch the next episode. I won’t tell mom or dad, honest to goodness.” It was more like “honeth to goodneth” with his missing front teeth.” Eddie peered up at her and gave his best puppy dog eyes.
“No way, kiddo. I like the money I get for this gig.” Tara held out her hands to help him up. Eddie scooted on his booty, turned away from her, and crossed his arms.
“You’re mean. A mean buttface poo poo head.”
“Eddie, let’s not end tonight on a bad note.” Tara held out her arms again.
“Buttface poo poo head! Buttface poo poo head!” He chanted it over and over, and louder and louder.
“Okay, we will do this the hard way.” Tara grabbed Eddie and threw him over her shoulder. He kicked and screamed and flailed, all the while continuing his chant of “Buttface poo poo head.” Tara walked out of the living room, into the hallway, and then turned and headed up the stairs.
“Are you ready to walk up the stairs on your own ,or do I have to carry you like a baby.”
“Buttface poo poo head!”
“Okay, like a baby.”
Tara lugged him up the stairs and into his bathroom. She set him down on bathroom counter next to the sink. “Are you ready to do the right thing and brush your teeth?”
Eddie blew a raspberry and splattered spit all over Tara’s face.
“That’s it, you little monster. I’m going to tell your mom and dad.”
Eddie grabbed the tube of toothpaste next to him, which was uncapped, and squeezed, hard. Toothpaste shot out of the tube in a blue snake, and slithered its way into Tara’s neck and hair.
“You freaking little brat,” she gasped. “I’m gonna bend you over my knee!”
“Do it and I’ll tell.” Eddie stuck out his tongue.
Tara stepped away from Eddie and whipped a towel off the rack by the bathtub. She wet the towel in the sink and began to wipe the blue goo off of her.
Eddie sat there on the counter, arms crossed and head down. She glared at him so hard, Eddie swore her eyes were burning holes in him.
“I hope your dad belts you so hard that you butt blisters and you can’t sit down and take a crap for a week.” Tara worked some of the toothpaste out of her hair.
Eddie let out a rebellious humf.
“Better yet,” Tara paused. “I hope the Rougarou gets you.”
Eddie’s head popped up like a jack-in-the box.
“Roog a what?”
“What’s a Roo-ga-roo?” Eddie scrunched his brow.
“You mean your momma and daddy haven’t told you about the Rougarou? Oh, you of all the little boys in this town should hear about the Rougarou.” Tara eased her way over to the counter where Eddie sat. She placed both hands out beside his, leaned in close and looked him dead in the eyes.
“The Rougarou is the dog of death. He’s pale white in color, and wanders the streets of small towns like this one, looking for someone to deliver him from his wretched curse. Once he picks you out, he will torment you until you kill him.”
“Ohhhh scary.” Eddie rolled his eyes and a sarcastic scowl came over his face.
“I ain’t done yet.” Tara’s grimmaced. “When the first drop of blood is drawn from the deathblow, the Rougarou will turn back into a person, and will reveal to his attacker his real name. Before the dying person takes their last breath, they will warn their deliverer that he or she can’t mention a word of this to nobody whatsoever for an entire year. If you do, you will suffer the same fate and become the Rougarou.”
“It ain’t true” Eddie’s eyes looked away.
“It is so. I heard that just last year over in Larose, a man reported being followed and pestered by a white dog while he was jogging one morning. The dog started to become violent, so he trailed off into the woods, got a big ole stick and went to town on that dog. Next thing you know, the man went missing.”
Tara could tell Eddie was getting scared. He started to twitch and fidget, and wouldn’t look her in the eye.
Good. Maybe he’s so scared, he’ll just go to bed.
“I think I’m going to brush my teeth and go to bed,” Eddie said
“Good.” Tara removed her arms from the counter and backed away.
Eddie jumped down, grabbed his toothbrush from the holder, squirted the blue goo on it, and then scrubbed away. When he was done, Tara walked with him to his room.
“Want me to tuck you in,” Tara asked.
“No, I don’t need you,” Eddie huffed.
“Okay, suit yourself.”
Tara watched as Eddie wobbled his way to the bed, hoisted his foot up, and climbed in. He pulled back his Transformer covers, nestled in, and rested his head against his pillow.
“Goodnight Eddie. Oh and Eddie?’
You might want to leave your closet light on. I also hear that the Rougarou likes to sneak into bad little boy’s rooms at night and nip at their heels.”
“Shut up, Tara.” Eddie rolled over so she couldn’t see the fear in his eyes.
“Goodnight, sleep tight, and don’t let the Rougarou bite.” Tara giggled.
“Shut up!. Goodnight and leave me alone.”
Tara backed out the door and shut it with a gentle click.
When he was sure she was gone, Eddie pulled out his G.I. Joe flashlight from under his pillow, flicked it on, and did a spot search of the premises from the safety of his Transformer sheets. Seeing all was clear, he lied down and tried to go to sleep. But all he could think about was the Rougarou.
The next morning Eddie woke up, went down stairs, fixed himself a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, grabbed a T.V tray, and sat down on the floor (in the exact same spot where he was the night before.) to eat his cereal and watch Super Friends. His clanking in the kitchen, along with the T.V. pumped up to full blast, woke up Diana. She shuffled into the living room, unnoticed by Eddie, walked up behind him, and bent down and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She startled Eddie, and he sloshed his cereal onto the tray.
“Loud enough for you, Eddie?” Diana walked over to the television and turned the volume down to half way. ‘How was last night? You and Tara have fun?”
“Mmm it was okay.” Eddie said slurping his cereal from his spoon, eyes fixed on Superman breaking open a cave wall with a punch.
“Okay? Tara told me that you refused to get ready for bed, and then squirted toothpaste all over her?”
Eddie ignored his mother. This time, Batman and Robin were jumping into the Batmobile to answer a call for help.
Diana pushed the power button and the television flickered to grey.
“Watcha do that for?” Eddie dropped his spoon and dribbled milk down his chin.
“No T.V. for you this morning. Especially after that stunt you pulled last night. Tara is supposed to come over again tonight because your father and I are going to the Mayeaux wedding. We’ve never asked her to do two in a row before, but she said she wouldn’t mind. You pull something like that tonight, buddy, and I’ll make sure your daddy gets a hold of your rear end. You understand me?” Roses were blooming in Diana’s pale cheeks.
“When she comes back over here tonight, you’re gonna apologize to her. Understand?’
“Good. Now run along and go play outside.”
Eddie bounced to his feet and turned to make a break for it.
“But not before you put away your tray!”
He stopped mid stride, did an about face, and headed back for his tray.
After he finished putting breakfast away, Eddie went up to his room to prepare the necessary gear for going outdoors in southern Louisiana. He dawned his blue jeans and camo shirt, shouldered his canteen, and belted his survival knife.
Eddie then raced down the stairs like a jack rabbit and bounced out the door. He ran around the back of the house and grabbed his red and black BMX, mounted it, and took off. He made his way down the long, concrete driveway and out to the gravel road. The Miller’s lived on the outskirts of town, about eight miles away from LA 24. There were a few neighbors who lived close to them, like the Walkers and the Donahue’s, but other than that, they were by themselves.
Just about every Saturday during the summer, Eddie would ride his bike down the gravel road. About a mile and a half down, the woods opened up to a little field about fifty yards long. In the middle of the field stood a monstrous oak tree. Its’ branches were so long, they touched the ground. Eddie would play on the tree for hours, pretending he was fighting COBRA or saving Eternia from Skeletor. But today, since he didn’t get to finish watching Super Friends, he was going to be Superman, and the tree was the great Octoserpent that threatened the lives of mankind.
As soon as Eddie pulled up to the tree, he jumped off his bike, one fist outstretched and the other pulled close, and flew towards the great Octoserpent. “Your tentacles are no match for my super strength.” Eddie grabbed a low hanging branch and pretended to rip it from the tree.
After about fifteen minutes of fighting the Octoserpent, Eddie got thirsty. He picked up his canteen that he had tossed to the ground when he was flying to save the world and sat on the same branch he was just wrestling with. He gulped some water from the opening. He stared out into the brush just beyond the field and a large, white dog poked its head out from around one of the bushes. Its eyes locked with Eddie’s. Eddie jolted up like the tree had just run an electric current up his rear end. He dropped his canteen and stood to his feet. He could see the dog had black eyes, long, pointy ears, and was growling.
The dog made its way from out behind the bushes and Eddie could see just how big it was. “It can’t be.” Eddie whispered. “The Rougarou!” His shout set the dog in motion.
Its paws pounded the grass. It bared its teeth and its ears were pinned back.
Eddie squealed, ran to his bike, mounted it, and peddled as hard as he had ever remembered peddling.
“Help help help!” He pumped his legs, but the dog was gaining ground. He made it out to the road and was able to pick up speed. “Momma! Daddy! Help, help! Mr. Walker!” Eddie looked back over his shoulder, and the dog was only about ten yards behind him. He leaned in and tried to go faster. He was crying, but the wind on his face was drying his tears just as fast as he could spit them out.
“Rougarou! It’s the Rougarou! He’s gonna get me, Tara said so!”
Eddie heard what sounded like a muffled clap. He looked back again and saw that the dog was at his rear wheel, nipping at his feet. He kept peddling and the dog kept snapping, coming within hairs of sinking its teeth into his achilleas. Seconds later, Eddie’s bike came to a crashing halt. The dog had bitten down on the back tire. Eddie flew forward over the handle bars and landed on the ground with a thud. With the breath knocked out of him, Eddie could hear the growls getting closer. He got to his knees and stood up.
The dog leaped for him.
All Eddie saw was a white flash. Back on the ground. Eddie wrestled to get free from the white cloud. The dog let him up, so Eddie kicked up dust and high tailed it out of there on two legs.
The white dog took chase. It got close to Eddie again and started nipping at his heels. Eddie tripped and crashed to the ground again.
The dog circled Eddie with head down and eyes fixed.
Eddie was sobbing and breathing so hard his lungs felt like they were on fire.
“Go away, you dumb dog. I know what you are, you stupid Rougarou. Get out of here.”
The dog lunged in and bit Eddie on the calf, but not hard enough to pierce his skin. Eddie screamed and kicked his legs like he was peddling his bike. Then he remembered his knife. He released it from its sheath and buried it deep in the dog’s neck. Blood sprayed out of the dog’s neck like someone had just turned on a sprinkler. The dog yelped and backed away from Eddie.
He could see its white coat turning crimson. The dog got down on its belly and crawled towards Eddie, wincing. When it got closer, that’s when Eddie noticed. It’s front paws started to lose their hair, and the nails elongated to fingers. Its tail looked like it got sucked in to the rest of its body. The ears started to shrink, and the hind legs were growing bigger. Eddie then looked at its face. The snout shrunk and the teeth began to flatten. In a matter of moments, there was a naked man lying curled up in a fetial position. The man had black matted hair, thick eyebrows, and was shivering as blood still poured from his neck. Then he spoke.
“Come here, boy. I got something to tell you.”
Eddie was a block of ice.
The man continued. “My name is Larry Bordelom from Metairie. I went down to New Orleans because I heard there was a witch there who could cast spells of prosperity.” Larry coughed and then placed his hand over the hole in his neck. “I don’t have long…but the witch tricked me. She cast the spell and said I would be visited by someone who would bring me great fortune.” Larry’s teeth started to chatter. “As soon as I left and started walking to my car, that’s when I saw it, the Rougarou. It charged me and knocked me over. I didn’t know what it was…thought it was just a dog, so I pulled out my gun and shot it dead…that’s when I found out…Listen boy, the curse is now yours. If you want it to pass, you can’t tell no one about this for a year…can you do that son?”
Eddie nodded his head.
“Good son, good.” The man then dissolved to a pile of dust.
Eddie went home and spent the rest of the day in his room.
Eddie’s dad came and knocked on his door around 5 p.m.
“Hey son, you’ve been awful quiet this afternoon, You okay?”
Eddie was sitting on the floor playing with his He-Man action figures. Man-at-Arms had Beastman on the ground, clubbing him away with his yellow battle club. “Yeah dad, just playing.”
“Oh, okay…Well, Tara is going to be here soon. Why don’t you go ahead and take a bath before she does.”
Tara showed up around 5:30. They did their usual routine, except basketball. Eddie didn’t want to go outside at all. Around 7:00 they ate hotdogs. Eddie was docile all evening, and Tara thought he might be getting sick. She had never seen him this quiet before. They were sitting at the kitchen table, and Eddie chewed away relentlessly at his hotdog.
“You feeling alright, Eddie?”
“Mmhmm” Eddie said under a mouth full of food.
“You been pretty quiet this evening. Not like you at all. Something on your mind?”
Eddie shook his head. He thought for sure Tara could see the terror lurking behind his eyes. He didn’t know what acting was like, but he was sure that he was doing a good job of it.
“Wanna go watch some television,” Tara asked.
Eddie slid out of his chair and headed towards the living room. Tara cleaned up their mess, and then joined him. When she walked into the living room, Eddie wasn’t sitting in his usual spot. He was on the couch, knees to his chest.
“You care if I sit by you tonight,” he asked.
He’s finally warming up to me, Tara thought.
Tara smiled. “Sure buddy, you can sit right here by me. I’ll even put my arm around you. Cool?”
Eddie dozed in and out while the television played. He perked up a little when Fall Guy came on, and stayed awake for the entire episode.
Then 8:30 came.
Ok, here we go. Time for Monster Eddie to show his face, Tara thought.
“Eddie, its 8:30. Time to get ready for bed okay?”
“Okay.” Eddie scooted off the couch and headed upstairs to his room.
Tara’s jaw dropped a tad as she thought her eyes and ears were playing tricks on her. Nope, sure enough, Eddie didn’t even utter a cross word to her.
Upstairs in the bathroom, Eddie locked the door, put the toilet lid down, and sat. His knees were trembling and his teeth where chattering. Fear crept down his spine like a spider going for its prey.
Maybe it’s not real. Maybe I just imagined it. Maybe it’s not true. Maybe I should tell Tara. No, no, what if it’s real?
A knock on the door. Eddie jumped to his feet.
“You brushing away in there”
“About to.” Eddie brushed his teeth, opened the door, and walked down the hall to his room.
Tara was standing in the doorway. “Gonna tuck yourself in tonight big boy?”
Eddie reached out and held her hand. “No, will you?” Tara knelt down and gave him a big hug. “I sure will.”
Tara helped Eddie into bed and pulled back the Transformer covers. Eddie slid in, and Tara pulled the covers up to his chest. “Goodnight, Eddie.” Tara kissed him on the forehead and turned to walk out of the room.
“Tara, wait. Can I talk to you?”
Tara sat down on the edge of his bed. “Sure. What’s up?”
Eddie recounted to her the events from earlier today with the Rougarou. Tara did her best not to laugh, because she could see the seriousness on Eddie’s face and hear the fear in his voice. After he was done, Tara smiled and tried to comfort him.
“Eddie, that story I told you last night, it’s not true. It’s made up. It’s what’s called an urban legend, a story that’s told just to scare people.”
“No, it’s not!” Eddie jerked away from her. “You don’t believe me and you think I’m making it up and that I’m just a stupid little kid but I’m not and now I’m gonna turn into the Rou..ga…r” Eddies words were swallowed by a torrent of tears. Tara place her hand on his back. Eddie turned around and flung himself on Tara. She held him until the tears subsided.
“Listen, Eddie.” Tara whispered in his ear. “Whatever happened to you today, I want you to know that it wasn’t the Rougarou. I’m not saying that you didn’t see something weird or whatever today. I’m just saying it ain’t the Rougarou. Okay?”
“Tara?” Eddie let go of his embrace and sat back against his pillow. “Please don’t tell momma and daddy? Please?” Eddie sniffled and slid back under his covers.
Eddie grinned. “Thanks.”
“You betcha. Now go to sleep.” Tara kissed him on the cheek, rolled off the bed, and walked towards the door and turned off the light.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller walked through the front door at around 9:45. Tara was sitting on the couch reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.
“Hey Tara, how’d he do tonight?” Mr. Miller loosened his blue tie.
Tara pulled her head out of the book. “Perfect lil angel.”
Mrs. Miller snorted.
“No, seriously.” Tara marked her place and put the book down. “He was quiet all evening. We played some, watched T.V., and when it was bed time, he gave me no fuss.”
“Yeah, he’s been awful quiet all day. Just sat in his room and played all afternoon.” Mr. Miller plopped down in his recliner. “He say anything to you? Anything bothering him?”
“No. Nothing. Wonderin’ if me might be comin’ down with something.” Tara played it cool. “You might want to go and check on him before you go to bed. See if he’s running a fever.”
“Sure. We will.” Mrs. Miller assured her. “Thanks again for everything. We’ll see you tomorrow at church.
They said their goodbyes and Tara headed home. Later that night, before they went to sleep, Diana went up to check on Eddie. He was sound asleep. She put her hand to his forehead and he didn’t feel feverish. She kissed cheek and left him to sleep in peace.
Morning came, and it was time to get ready for church. It was 8:00 a.m. and Eddie still wasn’t up. Tim Miller went up to Eddie’s room and knocked on the door.
He turned the knob and cracked the door open. “Hey, sleepy head, time to…” Eddie wasn’t in his bead. Tim headed back down stairs into the kitchen. Diana was sitting at the table finishing off her second cup of coffee.
“Seen Eddie this morning,” Tim asked
“No, Tim. He hasn’t gotten out of bed. I been up since 6.” Diana sipped her coffee.
“Well, he’s not in his bed. I just checked.”
The Miller’s searched every room in the house. When they were sure he wasn’t inside, they made their way outside.
Eddie wasn’t there either.
They got in their car and drove down the road to Eddie’s tree, but no sign of him there.
When they got back to the house, Diana called the Stillman’s and asked for Tara.
“Tara, this is Mrs. Miller. We can’t find Eddie.”
A lump was swelling in Tara’s throat like a balloon.
“Do you know where he could be? Did he say anything to you yesterday that might…”
Mrs. Miller’s voice started to shake. Tara decided she needed to spill the beans.
“He…he told me…that he saw the Rougarou. He was scared last night. Thinks he’s gonna turn into it.”
“The Rougarou? Where on earth did he hear that story from? We’ve never said anything to him about it.”
“I…I told it to him Friday night to scare him. He was being bad. It was after he squirted me with the toothpaste. I’m sorry.”
“Tara, honey, I’m not mad. And I don’t really see what that has to do with him being missing. Thanks though.”
“You’re welcome Mrs. Miller. Goodbye’
The Miller’s didn’t go to church that day. They drove around town looking for Eddie. The afternoon came and went, and still no sign of the boy, so the Miller’s decided to call the police. They filed a missing person’s report, and the police jumped on it right away.
Two weeks passed, and still no sign of Eddie. Wanting to have some normalcy back in their lives, Tim and Diana asked the Stillman’s over for Sunday lunch. This was a routine that they started this past February. Every other week they would rotate. Sandy tried to talk Diana into having it at their house, but Diana insisted. She said it would make her feel better, so Sandy agreed.
Sunday rolled around, and the Stillmans and the Millers pulled into the driveway of the Miller’s home. They exited their vehicles and went to the door. Tim turned the lock and went inside–and there it was on the stairs, growling.
Tim flinched back. “Oh holy…what the…Everyone stay back! Back!”
Instead, they all rushed forward to see what was going on. Don pushed his way to Tim.
“When’d y’all get a dog,” Don asked.
“We didn’t.” Tim opened the door all the way. “Maybe if we just back up, it will run out the door and go away.”
The white dog, with its black eyes and pointed ears, made a slow descent down the stairs, growling with every step. The Stillmans and the Millers stepped through the door, and huddled together near the wall, Don and Tim in front. Rather than going out the door, the dog circled towards them.
Tim directed the huddle down the hall. “Our bedroom is right there to the right. We’ll back up slowly into it. Shut the door. I’ll go get my 12 gauge.”
A solemn fear seized Tara. “No, no, no, you can’t kill it. It’s Eddie. Its’ Eddie. He’s the Rougarou!”
Don snapped his head back at Tara. “Hush, girl. Don’t you start the crap again.”
Tara looked at her mother, then to Mrs. Miller. “You can’t let them. You can’t. It’s Eddie I’m telling you.”
Diana glared at Sandy as if to say, “You need to shut her up or I’ll do it for you.”
Sandy grabbed Tara by the shoulders and shook her. “You stop! Stop that now!”
“Enough!” Tim Miller took control. “Everyone back up now, go to the room.”
The dog inched towards them, saliva dripping from its teeth. Tara, Sandy, and Diana backed into the room. Don followed suit, but before Tim could make it past the doorway, the dog pounced. It knocked Tim to the ground, and bit down hard on his shoulder. Tim screamed in agony. “The gun Don, get the gun. Top of the closet. Shells are in the nightstand.”
Don dashed to the closet and got the gun. He then went to the nightstand and slapped some shells in the double barrel 12 gauge. He snapped it closed with a thump.
Tim took his thumbs and jammed them into the dog’s eyes. It let go of his shoulder and backed away. Tim scooted into the room, but there was no way he was getting that door closed. The dog crept back in after him. “Shoot it Don, shoot it now, before it gets closer!”
“No daddy no,” Tara shrieked.
The hallow blast of the shotgun echoed through the bedroom.
Tara screamed, and the dog went airborne, flying out into the hall.
Don helped Tim to his feet, and the two moseyed over towards the dog.
That’s when they saw it, and that’s when Tim Miller screamed.
Laying in a pool of blood, with a hole in his chest, was Eddie Miller.
Tara, Diana, and Sandy hurried over just in time to hear Eddie speak.
“It’s me, daddy, Eddie. I’m not the Rougarou anymore. You are.” Eddie then disintegrated into a pile of dust.
Next time you’re in southern Louisiana, and a white dog crosses your path, you better hope and pray that it’s not the Rougarou. If it is, you better hope you can keep a secret.
I had just settled down for the night with a good book and a bottle of whiskey. The paperback I was reading was from 1987–C. Dean Anderson’s Torture Tomb. The cover had appealed to me so I snatched it up at a thrift store. I nestled into my recliner, flipped it open to the beginning, and started reading.
Then there was a knock on my door.
“Unbelievable. Every freaking time.” I grabbed my phone off the stand next to me. “Ten thirty at night?” I always kept my Glock 19 with me so I swiped it off the stand and pulled on the slide, easing a bullet into the chamber.
I rolled out of my chair and crept to the door.
There was a knock again.
I turned the deadbolt then got in a shooting stance. “Come in,” I said. “It’s open.”
The knob turned and I moved my finger to the trigger.
The door opened and I recognized the face. I wanted to pull the trigger. Not out of fear or a threat, but out of anger.
“Mr. Kincaid,” the man said. “You have to stop. I’m begging you. I can’t take it anymore.”
The man was Brandon. He looked like crap. His complexion was pale and he had a bruise on his cheek. He wore a gray, stained sweat suit and was clutching at his stomach.
“You got about two seconds to turn around before I either put a bullet in your knee cap or smash your teeth out with the butt of my gun. I haven’t decided which yet.”
Brandon’s eyes bulged then grew wet with tears. His lips trembled and he stammered. “Ppppplease. Mr. Kincaid. You have to stop. I can’t–” He hung his head and sobbed.
I lowered my gun. “Stop? Stop?” I let out a mocking laugh. “You think I am going to stop? After you pulled a gun on your own wife? My little sister? Whom I love with all my heart? And after you threatened to throw your own kid out a window? Oh no, Brandon. I won’t ever stop till I cripple you.”
Brandon sobbed harder.
“You know what your problem is Brandon,” I asked.
He responded with more tears.
“You are a coward. You’re an abusive bully who cries and throws temper tantrums because he doesn’t get his way. And you won’t ever quit.”
Brandon lifted his head and gazed into my eyes. He knew I was right.
“I see everything you do. I know when you try to hurt her or threaten her. I saw what you tried to do today and I shut it down didn’t I? That box that flew across the room and knocked you out, leaving that bruise on your face? That was me.” I raised my gun again.
“I know,” he mumbled.
“Now, Brandon. You want me to stop? Then you leave. You get as far away from them as possible. You do that and I will stop. But if you stay? And if you ever, and I mean ever, so much as raise your voice at her or touch your kids in a threatening way, I will finish what I started today.”
Brandon looked down at the ground and gave a slow, almost lifeless nod.
“Now, get out of here. I was trying to read a book.” I slammed the door in his face then went and sat back down in my chair. I set my gun back on the nightstand and picked up my voice recorder. I turned it on and hit ‘record’.
“Telekinesis,” I said. “It is a real and powerful phenomena. It can be dangerous, but I promise I will only use it to protect the ones I love.”
I hit stop and set the recorder down. I uncorked the whiskey and took a swing straight from the bottle. I leaned up and placed it at the foot of my recliner. I picked up my paperback and read for the rest of the night.
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