Dead Friends: Chapter 24

She hadn’t intentionally timed her arrival at the cabin for dawn, but as she pulled into the long driveway with the sun peaking over the horizon she was grateful for the light. The place didn’t look any less intimidating than the other times she had been there but the thought of actually going through the front door in the dark hadn’t been a pleasant one. Still, the sun cast long shadows that stretched from its small frame as though they were ready to grab her and take into its dark confines.

If the shadow man was there, this time, she would demand that he take her with her. She didn’t want to die, but she’d had enough. She was done playing his games. She was there now at the cabin, home to where all this shit started. Maybe she was there for answers, but she knew that she could just as easily die and let it all end.

You know you can’t do that. If you die, then this will go after your brother and he can’t live alone. He wouldn’t be able to survive without his caregivers.

And she did know that. As much as she wanted to give up, it was always that thought that came back to her to keep her alive. 

Damn she was tired, and sick of thinking of all this crap. It had been three hours and a couple different pit stops along the way for more coffee before she had found her way there. The long night had stretched and as it had, different shadow creatures had followed her along the road. The worst part was she didn’t know if any of them were real or just the imaginings of the tired mind. What was worse, her losing her mind with hallucinations or that the monsters she imagined were actually real and chasing her. She wasn’t sure.

Yet here she was, returning to the scene of the nightmare, and she was stalling to get out of the car.

She reached over to the passenger seat and grabbed the plastic bags full of supplies she had bought at a convenience store near town. There were food items, enough to get her through a couple of days she hoped, but she had also take out a few hundred dollars in cash and had bought a prepaid cell phone. She wasn’t sure if the police would be after her, but she wasn’t ready to talk to them. Then she took a deep breath, glancing quickly at the place between her breasts where the talisman was nestled, and got out of the car.

Why are you doing this? You shouldn’t be going in there. Not alone… Call someone, have them meet us here.

Her inner voice was screaming at her to turn around and run. She didn’t blame it. She wanted to. If not to call a friend, then to get a away from there. It wasn’t just that her friend had died there. There was something else, a wrongness that she felt deep in her gut that yelled at her to run.

She had to do this. There were answers in there. Her uncle had told her he had left her something here, something that might explain things. Then there was the shadow man, he had started following her since her first visit here. Maybe there was information about him here? There was those occult symbols in the house, probably books too. Maybe somewhere in there were some answers?

She neared the front door, that voice screaming for her to call one of her friends, get them there to help her, to be there for her…

But they were all dead. She still hadn’t been able to reach Jess and that dream had felt so real. She knew it had to be more. She had probably watched as her best friend had been killed, and it had been because of her. Not only that, but it had been Sarah and the rest of her dead entourage that had somehow done it. The talisman she had worn had darkened them, twisting them so that they turned against her. She wished she had never put it on as it seemed like wherever it sent them, was a place that equaled what she imagined hell to be like. Maybe it even was hell.

What kind of taint would forever darken her soul as she had condemned her friends, those she cared for most in this world, to an unlife of agony and torture.

She opened the door but stayed in the threshold. There was a cool breeze trickling out from the house and on it was carried the stench of death. Her nose wrinkled and her already twisted stomach wretched harder into a knot. Every part of her told her not to go in there, yet she still heard that distant call, somewhere in the back of her thoughts that told her she needed to go inside.

Still, she was stalling again. The door was open, nothing was baring her from entering except for her own thoughts. Her worried mind was on overdrive, thinking of her brother, remembering her friends that were killed, and what she was going to do now once she did go inside. Everything, all trying to consume her at once, her mind spinning in a thousand directions, but none of them grappling on to her attention for long enough to focus. 

A tear ran down her cheek, the motives behind it unclear. She had so many things she could cry over, but wasn’t concentrating on any of them. Her chest was hurting as she heaved in large breaths. That cold breeze from inside was turning her colder and she felt the shiver run through her. It felt alien to her. Her body shook with the motion, but she didn’t really feel like it was her that was shivering. No, it was something deep inside of her and it didn’t want to go in there. 

This is foolish. Just do it. Get your ass in there and start looking for that letter. He said he wrote you one. Maybe there were some answers. Maybe all the answers were in there.

Though she knew that couldn’t be true. If her uncle had the answers, then none of this would be happening to her now. No, there might be answers inside the cabin, but it would answer everything. Maybe there were some things that never had an answer.

She stepped over the threshold into the cabin and felt the breeze die away. Inside was actually warmer than it had been outside. It was comfortable in there, like the heat had been running and had kept the place at a decent temperature as the weather had steadily gotten colder over the last couple of weeks.

That was impossible. There was no way the cabin was warmer inside as it wasn’t hooked to any city grid. The place had to run off its own system. She hadn’t seen any power lines running to the place so there couldn’t be any power to the furnace. It had to be on generator power.

There was a distant clicking sound. A few seconds later, she heard the whooshing of air and saw a couple of pages far away on the other side of the room flicker as a tiny breeze, probably from a vent behind it, sent warm air through the tiny place.

Of course the place had power. She had seen her uncle’s television and knew he also had a land line phone here was well, though where it was in all the piles of junk she had no idea. She had no clue where anything was, the place was still a huge mess just like her previous visit.

Just because the place was hidden out in the boonies didn’t mean it was cut off from the world, and it wasn’t her uncle’s cabin anymore. It was her cabin, and as she was hiding away from the world, it was her cabin.

This… this was her new home. She looked around it, looking at the endless piles of paper and what looked like trash littered about. There was a lot of it, and she didn’t know where to start to look for that letter. To her left was the dining room and the door that lead into the kitchen and to her right was the living room and two doors. One must lead into the bathroom and the other the bedroom. Neither of them were open and they hadn’t been in them when they were there last. Well, she guessed it was time to see the rest of the place.

She went to the farthest door first figuring that one the most likely to lead into the bedroom. Inside, was a small room, her uncle’s, no, her new bedroom inside. The bed was a small twin and to the left of it with barely enough room to open any of the drawers was a short but long dresser. On top of it was empty except for an envelope with her name on it.

She stepped into the tiny room, looking at the bare walls around her and noticed there were no pictures hanging up. She glanced quickly into the living room and then back to the bedroom. There were no pictures anywhere, none of her family, nothing. There were no intimate details about anyone her uncle loved anywhere inside the house.

Except in the display case in the dining room. He had my aunts decorative plates in there. Of course she’s been dead for a while, so there was no harm to keep something that reminded him of her.

He lived without any visual memories of anyone he loved. He had been out there all alone, and couldn’t keep a picture of anyone. He must of been terrified that any visual representation would bring them harm. Did he have a rational fear that it would cause someone to die? Had he seen it happen, had he experienced it, and so hid or destroyed all the pictures? Lizzie knew her dad sent him a picture every year of all of them together. Had he just thrown them out or had he hid them?

She grabbed the envelope, her hands shaking as she tried to rip it open. Her hands seemed to have a mind of their own, not working with her to open and reveal the contents. She was surprised to find that she didn’t want to read it. Somehow not knowing what was going on, suddenly felt better than knowing. What if it was something worse? What if there was more to this and suddenly zombies were going to be breaking down her door?

She looked at the living room. The rest of the house was still. It was very quiet out there. Even the hiss of the heating vents had silence leaving the house eerily quiet, only the slight buzz of power that was hidden in the background of stillness.

“If there’s someone else here, another dead man in the kitchen, I’d here it right?” She said to herself. The sound of her voice did nothing to calm her nerves as she was no longer sure she was alone in the house. She couldn’t hear anyone else, but couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that they were there.

She kept the letter in her hand and walked quietly back through the house, making her way as silent as she could in the already deafening stillness. Each step she took she was worried it would shatter the peace with a creaking floor board, but she was able to make it to the kitchen door. She stopped there, breathing as silently as she could and listened.

She couldn’t hear anything outside the normal sounds of an empty house. The refrigerator clicked and there was that ever present buzz, but nothing that would betray a stranger waiting for her.

She let out the breath she had been holding, still standing there for a moment longer not wanting to step into the kitchen. That was the room. It was where it had happened. That was where Sarah had died. She didn’t think she could ever go into that room and not think of her best friend. 

But she knew she had to go in there.

She gently pushed on the swinging door and entered into the other room. It was empty. She was alone.

As she approached the back door leading out of the kitchen, only barely noticing that the door had had been fixed from her first time there, she realized that she had known the kitchen would be empty. It wasn’t like before. She didn’t know how she had known, but she had. She hadn’t been afraid when she came to the kitchen, worried yes, but not afraid. 

The more she took time to think about it, she hadn’t been afraid of the house ever since she stepped inside. That wrongness that had perpetually plagued her since she had first come to the house had vanished the moment she had crossed the threshold. Strangely she felt more at peace there now… It was like she had come home somehow and now this place was hers and she didn’t ever need to leave this place. It was hers and she was its protector.

That didn’t make any sense. Still, comfortable in this new house or not, she locked the back door and went into the living room. There weren’t many places to sit as papers were everywhere. She figured she would have to fix that, maybe as soon as even today as she didn’t have much else on her agenda.

Yeah, you going to clean off all the chairs and get ready for all the guests your going to have over.

She realized the futility of it, but ignored it. She wasn’t a neat freak, but the level of mess and clutter this place was in would eventually nag at her to the point of near insanity.

You think your actually sane? Your dead friends, the creature you call the shadow man, a dead man killing your friend in this house that you decided to come back and hide in after watching your ex-boyfriend with whom you had just had sex with, killed right in front of you. You really think you are the picture of perfect sanity right now?

She sat in the well worn brown lazy boy. The padding on the arms was flat and there were dark spots on the middle padding. The chair looked second had and well used. Considering the condition of the place her uncle had probably spent majority of his time there.

She looked again, at the interior of the house around her. There was just so much stuff. So many piles of books and old papers. Where would she start going through any of this? How much of it was garbage she could throw out? When did the garbage man come? Where did the mail get delivered and when were the power and utility bills due? There was so many practical things about the house she needed to find out and no clue as to go about doing so.

This really was her place to live now…

She looked at the envelope. Her name had been hastily scrawled on the front and she had been held roughly in the past as it was crinkled as though it had been balled up once or twice. She could see the spots were there was a change in texture and additional wrinkles to the paper and she recognized the signs of tears that had fallen as he had held it or maybe just rain drops. Water had dropped onto it at some point, she didn’t know from what. 

But here it was… She had come there to find answers, and this envelope, inside was the letter that would have some. He had known that this would be happening to her, obviously this had been going on with him.

Was their family cursed? It passed from one to the next, but that wasn’t possible. Curses weren’t real things, just something you read about in cheesy horror novels, but how else could she explain it. She couldn’t.

This envelope held the key, the answers, and found herself suddenly not wanting to open it. 

Instead she set it down on the arm of the chair and looked at the blacked out window. Her chest was sore from the talisman, it’s sharp claws always scraping on her flesh when she moved. He had said in his other note that she only needed to wear it until she got to the house. Could she take it off now? Of course she wouldn’t know for sure until she read this other letter, still she found herself looking down, lifting up the front of her shirt so she could see were it rested among her tiny breasts. It was an ugly thing, so small and yet seemed so powerful.

She lifted the strand that held it up over her head and pulled it off. It fell to the floor as she let it fall, herself resting back into the chair. She closed her eyes as she felt a single tear free itself from her pained insides.

Outside she heard the screaming. Her eyes shot back open and she stood straight as she recognized the voices. They were back.

“Come out here you bitch!”

Lizzie looked at the envelope, trying to ignore them. She ripped open the top.

“What the hell is this? What is happening?” That was Roland.

“I’m going to kill you, you fucking whore!” Chuck screamed. Then she heard the crying. The other voices were farther away, like they were screaming at the house but keeping their distance. The crying one was closer, like she was right at the blacked out window. It was Elisabeth, and Lizzie felt her heart twist as she listened to the woman. She spoke just above a whisper but somehow her voice carried and Lizzie heard what she said.

“You did this to us. I was pregnant. I died and it is still inside me. You killed us, this is all you fault. You killed all of us…and we are going to torture you and kill you. We have to. It’s the only way for this to end. You… you have to die.”

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