How do you convince your best friend that everyone close to you has been killed because they were close to you? Okay, so maybe it sounded crazy, but it was true. They were dead, and now they were undead and it was all because they were close to you.
Lizzie wanted to scream, as the frustration was growing and it felt like the breath of each word was producing this pressure inside her chest. It was building, and each time that Jessica interrupted her, it wanted to escape in a fierce blast of anger.
Jessica had fought Lizzie through the whole retelling of what has been happening the last few weeks. Lizzie wasn’t sure if it was because she couldn’t believe it or because she refused to believe it. Lizzie would tell her about Sarah’s death, which Jessica understood Lizzie’s hard time to talk about it, but when Lizzie told her about Sarah’s reappearance she had bulked.
“So you really think Sarah’s still alive?”
No, she wasn’t alive. If Jessica would just listen to her. Lizzie had told her she’d undead, still appearing to her and talking to her. Though, telling Jess about her had created a pause in the story. Lizzie couldn’t stop herself. She had to know if any of it was true and if Jessica had known anything about it.
Lizzie had always felt like it had been weird that these two amazing and beautiful people would be friends with someone so shy like herself. Why had Jessica been her friend? She had always thought it was because Sarah was her friend. So if Sarah had been playing her this whole time, had Jessica been in on it?
So Lizzie couldn’t help but ask, “Did Sarah ever talk about my parents? Or say anything about my dad?”
Jessica had been surprised at the sudden turn in conversation, but had recouped quickly enough to not sound like she was making something up.
“Not really?” there was a question Lizzie could tell with how she said it. She stretched out the really and made a face as if to ask why Lizzie was bringing it up. “I mean, I know she was devastated when they passed away. We both loved your parents. Sarah always thought of your mom as her second mom, though I think she’d of rather had your mom over hers. You know there was always rough times for her at home. Well you know, you were always with her.”
And Lizzie had always been with her. It was why she couldn’t believe the things Sarah had been saying lately. It didn’t make sense to her. How did it even work, for Sarah to have done what she said.
Lizzie shook it off, telling Jessica to never mind as she continued then with trying to tell her about Elisabeth and Chuck.
In total it took her nearly forty minutes to get through the story. She hadn’t mentioned anything about the strange Englishman or the clock. She still wasn’t sure what to make of it, or of the barn with the black wall. She had felt different in there. It was like, the house felt safe, magically safe even if she had to put it into words, outside felt like ‘his’ playground and he was waiting out there to play with her. Then there was the barn, and it was cold, dark, and that there was something else in there entirely. Whatever was in there was waiting for something. It wanted something to happen, and when it did, it was ready to emerge. When that happened, she wasn’t sure when that would be, but she knew it was bad.
Whatever he was, and no matter how bad the shadow man was, whatever was in that barn was much worse.
It sounded crazy. So much so that she didn’t tell Jessica sure that it would be the final straw for her friend to be shipping her off to the looney bin with the padded white walls and floors.
“You’re crazy Liz. I love you, but your crazy and I think you need help.” Jessica had said. Lizzie just finished eating the last of her can of fake spaghetti sauce and had tossed it in a garbage bin. Next to it was a garbage bag that was filled with similar cans and other refuse. She hadn’t been sure what to do with the garbage out there, so for now she left it inside.
Lizzie stared down into the darkness at the bottom of the garbage bin. It was a fresh bag, so the can had gone to the bottom and was almost completely lost to the dark plastic.
Her life was beginning to feel like it was lost to darkness. Why had she come all the way out there to the cabin? Was she going to hide out here for the rest of her life like her uncle had? It seemed like a good idea at the time, and she’d hoped that when she got back there that she’d have found some kind of answer. She would walk right into the cabin, open one of his books and “voila” there it was, the answer to what was going on.
She had found an answer at least. The answer was that he had never really known what was going on either, nor had his uncle who passed it down to him.
Though someone must have, as she had the voodoo necklace. Well, she assumed it was voodoo. She kept having dreams of the voodoo woman and she assumed the woman made the necklace.
“I’m not crazy.” Lizzie answered, realizing Jessica was still in the room and watching her.
“I didn’t say you were. I said it sounded crazy. I just think you need to talk to someone and get some help. There has been a lot going on and it would be a lot for anyone to handle alone.”
“But I’m not alone. I haven’t been alone since they died. They’re always out there.”
“They’re outside right now? Why don’t they come in? You said at the apartment they were there with you.”
“I don’t know. There’s something about this cabin. Maybe it’s why my uncle has weird symbols carved into the wood throughout the house. Who knows. I do know that they can’t come into the house and kitchen, and that dead things can only make it into the kitchen but not the rest of the house. I think the kitchen was some kind of add on or something.”
“Either that or it has something to do with the plumbing. If there was some kind of protection spell then it wouldn’t be effective in a room that has pipes of running water running in and out of it.”
Lizzie looked at her friend, her mouth dropping open.
“I’m not saying that I don’t fully believe you. I don’t know what I believe. I’m just saying that if there is some kind of protection on the house, it may not be as effective on rooms with a lot of pipes running in and out of it.”
“And how would you know that?”
“I don’t. Duh. But come on. You’ve seen just as many dumb horror films as I have. There’s like, rules to witchcraft mumbo jumbo. If you have a circle, you can’t have things breaking it or the magic won’t work. Well, it wouldn’t be an actual circle, but it there’s magic and protection, then this room has a lot of pipes I would guess running in and out of it. I’m guess the bathroom would be the same way.”
Lizzie looked at the door that lead into the bathroom. The color drained from her face and the vision she had wasn’t comforting. She could see herself in there, doing her business, when the undead man, huge smile spread across his bloodstained teeth came crashing into the room and grabbing her.
Then there was the shower, and suddenly the theme music played in her head. “Eh, eh, eh, eh” and a knife coming swooping down like out of that Hitchcock movie.
Maybe she wouldn’t be taking a shower anytime soon. She hadn’t felt comfortable enough in the cabin to take one yet, and another few years wouldn’t hurt anything. Well, maybe it would effect her sense of smell, but that’d be worth it.
“I guess that makes sense.”
“You know it does. Come on.” Jessica lead her out of the kitchen, and exhaustion must have been kicking in as Lizzie let her.
“Where are we going?”
“You’re taking a shower.”
“No I’m not.”
Lizzie stopped moving and they both looked at each other. It was obvious that Jess was concerned about her, but Lizzie wasn’t about to go into that room and get naked. There was just no way.
“Liz, I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I know its a lot. I understand what you think you’ve been through and we’ll talk about it more when you get out, but you stink. You stink more than this house does, and as long as you have warm, running water, then the shower will do you some good. I’ll stay with you. Nothing is going to happen, to me, or to you. No one is going to attack you.
Lizzie didn’t believe her, but somehow found the small woman was surprisingly strong as she pushed her through the house to the small room just off the living room.
“I don’t think we have hot water.” Liz said as they neared the door.
“I don’t know. Haven’t tried, but theirs no basement and I’ve never seen a hot water heater. I’m not sure.”
“Well, guess what, there’s only one way to find out.”
Lizzie tried to think of another way to stall, but it was too late, they were at the door. Jessica stepped in front of her and pushed it open, and then beckoned Lizzie to enter. She did and Jessica followed, the room suddenly cramped as it was never meant for two people cohabitation.
“I knew it’d be small, but this is like both of us trying to fit into a port-a-potty.” Jessica wasn’t wrong as she was forced to nearly sit over the small, dirt and rust stained toilet that Lizzie had slowly come to trust. Her first couple of days in the cabin she had just hovered over to use, but after Sarah and the rest of them had beat her, she hadn’t had the energy to keep it up and now was used to sitting on it.
Then there was a little sink, and above it there had once been a mirror that in the past had been removed and now was open to the contents. All of it was her uncles. She had no tooth brush and hadn’t done anything about her teeth since she’d gotten there. It was probably a good thing there wasn’t a mirror. The more she was beginning to realize it, the more she felt like she could imagine what Jessica was seeing. She really must have looked like one hell of a mess.
The sink wasn’t what she was in there for, and she turned to study the tub. The room had obviously not been designed for the thing when it had been built and once it had been installed, it allowed just enough room for her to sit on the toilet and her knees just touch the cold porcelain. The curtain was hung on a make shift steel rod that was fastened to the wall, and the shower head hung from a wire dangling from the ceiling. It was one of those loose kind that you could hold while using it and the head was discolored from years of inactivity and age. It was covered in dust as well as the inside of the tub. None of it looked appealing to use.
“Maybe we should just go to a motel? There’s one around here right? Get a room, you can take a shower, maybe even get some sleep in the bed?”
Liz shot Jessica a look.
“You know I can’t-“
“Oh yeah, I know. Sorry. Just look at this. It looks like it hasn’t been used in years and is from a lifetime ago. Shit, I bet this tub is from before you were born.”
“Yeah, it probably is older than that.” Lizzie said as she bent over and started studying the contraption at the back of the room. It was hooked to the shower and she had no idea what it was there for. It looked like some kind of pump. She clicked the little switch on the top and it whirred to life.
“Water pump maybe? I know my great aunt has a cabin and they have one of those hooked up to it. Maybe you do have hot water, I think it’s supposed to work with some kind of specialized hot water heater.”
“I have no idea.”
“Well turn it on.”
Lizzie looked around as the pump continued to run. Eventually she found a bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo that was crusted at the top. She grabbed for it, and Jessica shook her head.
“Give me a second. I brought my own.”
Jessica left the room and a second later Lizzie heard the front door slam. Her heart quickened as she just realized that Jessica had gone outside. What the hell was she thinking? Hadn’t she just been told about what was out there?
Lizzie rushed from the room, nearly knocking over one of the piles by the easy chair. It was more books on witchcraft as well as a diary on top. Lizzie barely noticed it as she made her way to the front door and nearly crossed the threshold.
She stopped herself and cursed at the front yawning. It was great to keep people from seeing into the house when they were in the front yard, but made it impossible for her to see where Jessica had gone.
All she could do and listen as she heard what sounded a beep and then car doors being unlocked. There was a scraping, and then a kathunk, kathunk sound as something heavy fell to the gravel.
Lizzie cringed as she could imagine Sarah or Josh, even Chuck if he got back to that raged induced person she had seen when he had first died, attacking her and that was her falling to the ground. They could be swarming over her, tearing her a part. Even the shadow man could be out there or one of his dead lackies like what had killed Sarah. Anything could be happening and Lizzie was trapped in there powerless to stop it.
Why had she gone out there?
Had Jessica the red rings around her eyes? Lizzie hadn’t noticed, but she couldn’t help but think about when they had been in the parking garage. Jessica hadn’t been acting herself, it was almost like something was influencing her to put herself into a dangerous situation. No, just just any something, the shadow man, he was doing it. He had controlled her then, and now her friend was again in danger.
Lizzie inched closer to the door, wanting desperately to poke her head out and peak around. Her pulse was pounding, and she feel her heart trying to pump its way out of her chest. She tried to listen, but it was hard over the loudness of her own breath and silence of the woods.
Then she heard it. Something was being dragged across gravel.
Lizzie grabbed both sides of the door as though she was getting ready to launch herself out there. She was pacing back and forth, her movements growing more frantic as she wanted to propel herself past the threshold.
She knew Jessica was in trouble. What was it going to take for her to run out there and save her? Was she really going to stand by while another of her friends was killed, this time while there might be something she could do?
She gripped the threshold tighter, preparing herself to run out there. Her mouth was clenched, her teeth threatening to grind down to nothing as she tried to will herself to just do it.
The dragging sound, it was getting closer. What were they going to do, drag Jessica over to her and kill her so she could watch.
Come to think of it, most of the deaths had happened with her watching. Maybe that was one of Shadow man’s things, to have her watch. He did love to torture her. It was like he fed off of her pain, enjoying her suffering at watching those around her die.
I can’t take this anymore. I have to do something.
Her foot crossed the threshold, and she felt that foreboding fear slam into her. It didn’t matter what was out there, she had to hurry. Her friends life was in danger.
She was in the entryway created by the little yawning and turned to rush down when a shadow appeared at the bottom. Her momentum paused as her heart leapt into her throat.
Then the shadow became a person, and Jessica stood at the bottom of the stairs. She was dragging her rolling suitcase, the wheels barely any help in the rough gravel. She stopped short when she saw Lizzie at the top of the stairs.
“Woah, you okay?”
Lizzie didn’t wait. She dashed down the stairs, grabbed Jessica’s free hand and pulled her so they were both rushing to get back inside.
Once they made it past the threshold, Lizzie nearly collapsed on the floor. Instead she made it into the chair and finally allowed herself to burst into tears.
“Liz, what the hell? I just went out to get my suitcase.”
“You could have died.”
“I just went out to my car.”
“Elisabeth and Chuck, they died just at the end of the driveway. Sarah died in that kitchen. Being around me, there isn’t any, ‘just went out to my car’ moments anymore. They’re always out there, and the shadow man, he’s everywhere.”
Jessica let go of the suitcase and lowered herself to look into Liz’s eyes. She grabbed her hands and waited until Liz looked up and their eyes met.
“Liz, I’m not going anywhere. You need to calm down. You’re not the cause for these freak accidents. Okay.”
“You still don’t believe me.”
“I believe you need to stop blaming yourself.”
“You still don’t believe me.”
“Not really, but I’m here for you and I’m going to help you.”
“You need to believe me.”
“Okay, fine. Then I believe you.”
“No, you don’t, but you will.”
Lizzie stood quickly, nearly knocking Jessica out of the way. Before Jessica could say or do anything, Lizzie was at the front door. She rushed outside and was gone, down the stairs and past what was visible with the yawning.
“Come on out you bitch!” Jessica heard Lizzie yell. “Sarah, come and get it!”
Jessica’s mouth dropped as she hurried to catch up to her friend.