July Update

Hello Everyone,

I apologize for the lack of updates. I’ve had to take a break from writing recently due to a number of reasons, including health. This is only a temporary break which has also included a break from social media.

I hope to have more updates soon, but as of now, these issues have caused delays in Here Be Dragons release, my finishing of Dead Friends, as well as work on other projects.

Thank you for understanding,

– Jason

Dead Friends: Chapter 49

Lizzie knew it was a bad idea, but she she woke up the next day, she felt like she had to go outside and talk to Jessica. There were some things she needed to get off of her chest. It was that ever present idea, that was there just as soon as she opened her eyes. Like a seed had been planted in her thoughts, and when she nearly jumped out of bed, the idea had grown to dominate her thinking.

She was stopped from it though, because after her feet touched the cold floor and she turned to go towards the door, still not even dressed, Sarah stood in the doorway.

Lizzie’s breath caught in her throat and she took an immediate step back, knocking into the coffee table behind her.

Sarah looked just like she had the day she died, if not a little worse. Unlike what Lizzie was used to seeing, Sarah looks like her eye was still hanging from its socket, it the orb was now gray and withered. She was withered, like the life was getting sucked out from her. Her lips were dry and split in areas. Her skin was ash, and her eye remaining eye was sunken and dull.

“How are you in here?” Lizzie asked, pushing past her initial shock and standing tall to stair down this thing that wore her friends face. It was still hard to place that the shadow thing was doing something, trying to trick her with Sarah.Who knew how long it had been doing it?

“Liz” It tried to say, but the jaw was dislocated and Lizzie could hear the grinding of bone as it forced out her name. It was trying to say more, but seemed frustrated with how hard it was to form the words.

“I said, how the hell are you in here?” Lizzie shouted, and rushed across the room. She reached the thing that looked like her friend and didn’t stop to think about what she was doing. She got there, and pushed, only as she was too late into the motion that she realized she was going to push at nothing and that she would be sprawling forward. She was already bracing for impact with the ground when she actually reached her friend.

To her surprise, she didn’t go through Sarah, but it was Sarah who was forced backward to land roughly to the ground. The dangling eye, snapped off the decaying strand and rolled away on the floor, Lizzie watched it for a second and then turned back to Sarah who wasn’t getting up. She had turned on the floor and was leaning on her side, her hair covering her face.

After a moment, Lizzie continuing to stand over her, her fists clenched ready to start swinging, Lizzie realized that Sarah’s back was heaving up and down and she sounded like… Was she crying? Yes, Lizzie could hear her. Sarah was sobbing, not trying to get up and fight back.

“How are you in here?” Lizzie demanded through gritted teeth. She felt her own chest burning and wetness formed at the corner of her eyes. The more she wanted to cry watching what looked like her friend on the ground, the more the anger was internally seething, preparing to blow up inside her.

It was a conflict of emotions inside her, if it was clear who the winner would be. The pain of her grinding her teeth, wanting to smash things out of per frustration was such a rampaging desire, that it was hard for her not to just walk over, grab a chair, and slam it on the back of the imposter.

“Lizzie, stop, please.” Sarah said, the words sounded course, grating out like nails on a chalk board.

“Why, so you can try to kill me in here too?” Lizzie yelled. “You never stopped when you were about kill me and Jessica.”

Lizzie kicked her foot out and pushed Sarah so that she lost her balance and landed on her back.

“You haven’t stopped killing my friends, or anyone else.” Lizzie growled as she stepped over Sarah. She was looking around, trying to find something to smash down onto this thing on the floor. At first, she wasn’t going to get violent, it wasn’t in her nature… But this thing was in here, her safe place. Not only that, it was weakened, probably by breaking through the protections. This was her chance. This was finally going to be her way of ending it.

When her fist slammed down into the chest of the thing below her, it felt like she was hitting brittle candy. Dust erupted from where she hit, and she heard the popping sounds as bones shattered under the impact. The rotting clothes her dead friend wore caved in to the dents she created, and yet she brought her fists down in another strike. The room was filling with the sounds of children’s cereal, the snap, crackle, and pop of bones breaking.

“Please-” it gasped as though it struggled for breath. Lizzie had to fight back a giggle, seeing it try and plead with her. “Liz- Liz stop. Tinker b- bell.”

Lizzie pulled her hand away, revealing the carnage of the chest beneath her. There wasn’t much left of the shirt it wore and the bones were mostly dust allowing Lizzie to stare into the beating heart and lungs of what had once been her friend. It was her friend. I’m or maybe it wasn’t. The shadow man had done an excellent job of fooling her in the past.

“Tinker- bell.” It hissed as it quit struggling beneath her, not that it ever really put up much of a fight.

Tinkerbell…

Sarah only called her that when she was really trying to get under her skin. It had started as a childhood name, one that Lizzie hated when her parents would call her it, yet they still would. When Sarah heard it, she had done so too for a brief time, until Lizzie had once gotten so angry that she pushed her down. It had been the one time that Lizzie had really done something so out of character as to push Sarah. It had shocked them both, and Sarah had laughed it off, saying “All right, I’ll never call you Tinkerbell.”

And Sarah hadn’t…

But was she now calling her that or was the shadow thing getting into her head again. It had been years since the incident, but this was eerily similar. Lizzie hadn’t consciously been thinking about it, but she didn’t know how the shadow man did its thing. She would never know as the voodoo lady was right, and it always changed things up. You never knew what its limitations were.

Was..It..Getting..In..Her..Head..Right..Now!

How would she know?

“Liz, please…it’s…me.” Sarah rasped below her, fighting through struggled breaths.

Lizzie looked down and saw the pain twisted onto what was left of her friends face. This Sarah did look different to what she was used to seeing outside. The dead outside had all been healing since their deaths. It was weird to see that each day they looked better, but the Sarah beneath her looked worse. Kinda of like a zombie that had been left out to rot, how it decayed as it walked around. Sarah was not looking any better. Hell, her eye popped off, who knows where it had gone too.

Oh God, I’m going to have to try and find that later before it starts stinking up the house…

Lizzie stood and backed away from Sarah, taking a quick glance around the room, trying to see where it might have rolled. It wasn’t directly visible. It must have rolled under something.

“A..little..help” her dead friend rasped, and Lizzie looked down to see that Sarah was trying to get up, but was having a hard time moving with her chest mostly caved in.

Lizzie reached down, and started to lift her, pulling her towards the recliner. As soon as she put the slightest of pressure on Sarah’s shoulder blades, she heard the popping sound and knew that more bones were breaking.

“I can’t lift you.”

“Get.. Chair”

Lizzie wasn’t sure if she meant to get Sarah over to the chair or to bring the chair to her. She decided the latter would probably be easier and lowered Sarah back to the floor.

The chair was a large recliner, and would probably slide no problem on the hardwood floor, had there not been piles of books still spread throughout the room. Lizzie had been doing as much as she could in the weeks that she had been in the cabin, but there were just so many books and she was always afraid that the one book she through out would be the one that she needed.

Of course, now there were so many of them in the way, that she had to push piles into other piles and listening as they all toppled over. They fell like dominoes so as soon as one pile went, more followed as they went into each other. Two of the piles fell into the path she was trying to clear, and she cursed as she reached forward trying to brush those books off to the side as well. It was near impossible. There was just no place to push them all.

“Come on!” Lizzie grunted trying to force her way through the unmovable piles of books. She still had Sarah, working to drag her, but Lizzie could hear more popping sounds and could hear the wheezing from behind her.

“Liz- stop… tinker.”

Lizzie stopped, feeling the wetness she had denied herself earlier start to form again and the first tear streaking to its downfall.

Lizzie sat there for a moment, sitting back on her knees, before turning herself around to face Sarah. Both shoulders were now crushed the arm Lizzie had wrapped around her when she tried to drag her to the chair. The corpse looked so small now, her width almost no wider than her head as there were no longer any upper torso bones to widen her out.

“Tinker… ease me down.” Sarah said, and Lizzie let out a sudden, tear filled giggle as she did.

“I told you not to call me that.”

“Then.. listen.. next time.”

Lizzie had a hard time looking at her friend. It was too much like watch an old corpse that was still breathing. There was almost nothing of her friend that was recognizable and it was hard to believe considering her friend had only been dead a few weeks. Surely corpses didn’t rot this quickly…

“I.. I’m not..here.” Sarah said.

“What do you mean your not here? I don’t know how, but you are definitely in the cabin. You know, where the dead things can’t get inside. Or is it just evil…” Lizzie said, taking glances at her friend, but each time, she would quickly look back to the living room window. The curtain was drawn, but she could tell through the lack of light that it must still be night outside.

“You’re.. not.. here..” Sarah rasped. Lizzie was about to respond, but the words were trapped in her throat and before she could say anything, Sarah was able to get another breath and finish. “I.. don’t.. know..”

Lizzie looked at Sarah and then around at the house around her. She started to notice that things weren’t right. When she looked at the books around her, they were all generalized. There were no titles on any of them and they all looked like they could have been the same old couple of books taken out of some ancient archive somewhere. Which wasn’t right. She hadn’t had time to look through all the piles in her uncle’s house…her house, but she had been around them enough to know they all didn’t look like that. As much as her uncle loved to steal old library books about demons and witchcraft, there were also plenty of other trade paperbacks, but Lizzie couldn’t see any of those.

They weren’t in her uncles house…

Then where?

“Sarah. You’re … are you real?” Lizzie looked back at the faded lifeless eye of her friend and the empty socket. She tried, and it was hard, to focus on the one good eye. Sarah, the eye of her friend did seem to be looking at her. Her friend, not the creature that used her shape as it tormented her outside, but her friend, the one she saw die, was staring up at her. This was her. It had to be her.

Sarah didn’t speak, and Lizzie could see why. Her breathing was getting weaker. Could the dead die? Was that what was happening? Lizzie didn’t think she could handle losing her friend again.

“Are you dying? What is happening?”

Sarah shook her head.

“Al- dead…”

“You know what I mean. What is this? Where have you been? You can’t leave me all over again. I don’t know what’s happened to you. You were here and then you were gone. All those other dead bastards came back, why can’t you.”

“Not.. back. Trapped.” Sarah wheezes.

“Where? How are you trapped? You’re right here? You can’t be trapped.”

Sarah shakes her head and looks up. Lizzie follows her gaze and sees that now they’re not in the cabin, but Lizzie quickly recognizes it. It was hard not too. They were in the back half of the barn. She could see the well, the darkness floating at the top like vapor over boiling water. Small tendril shapes occasionally rose up, but fell back into the mist.

Lizzie didn’t have to look, as she knew she would see the busted out back half of the barn. Just like she knew if she looked to the sky there would be no light. It was all darkness around them, but yet she could see. This was the dark place. The one where the original cursed had been taken. This was a very bad place.

“Are we really here?” Lizzie yelled as she looked back at Sarah.

“I… am.” She said.

“How did we get here? I need to get us out of here. We can’t stay.”

Lizzie was near shouting. She had only read about it, but that was t what terrified her. There was a sense of wrongness to the place. A feeling that she needed to get out of there before she was noticed. If it found her here, then it would have her, and she could feel it’s hunger.

What was it? What do you feel?

She felt the foulness of it. She could smell it in the air. It was how there was no wind, there was no smell. There was a complete blandness to everything around her and it felt like a vast nothingness that had her and was pulling her deeper in. It was a void…

What had it been like when she saw inside the shadow man. She had seen.. she tried to forget about that moment but it had burned into her soul. She had seen the darkness before and what would be again…the time before. This wasn’t like that, but there was something about this other world that reminded her of that place. She wasn’t sure what it was.

“You…need to go…” Sarah warped a wheezing breath. Lizzie feared it was her last as she wasn’t making any more sound. She wished she could see her faux sister with her eyes instead of whatever this mind vision was. Even in her decaying state, Lizzie wanted that one last chance.

Instead, Lizzie bent over and gently kissed the forehead. The brittle bones cracked on just the slightest of touches, and Sarah’s eye shot open. She let out a blood curdling scream and Lizzie couldn’t help but drop her and back away. More bones shattered as what was left of Sarah’s body landed in a whimpering corpse, her sobs of pain suffocating Lizzie as she watched.

“I thought you were dead.”

“Am-” Sarah wheezes.

“But, really gone.”

“Ca-t” Sarah said, barely able to form the words as her face contorted in pain.

Lizzie felt her skin crawl with a tingling. It wasn’t that there was a breeze but a change in the presence around them. Lizzie could feel something getting closer, and she struggled to keep her focus on her friend.

“Can’t? What do you mean you can’t? You can’t die yourself out of existence? I don’t understand.”

Sarah couldn’t move. She was immobilized by pain and each breath it was apparent that it was another lesson in agonizing torture.

What could she do? She wasn’t a doctor. She wasn’t even a good friend. She could have been better, done more for her. Now she couldn’t even touch her without shattering another bone.

Sarah was looking at her in terror. Her lips were moving but no sound escaped them.

It took Lizzie a moment to realized that Sarah wasn’t looking at her… She was looking past her. Something was behind Lizzie, she could feel it. That electricity that was building up was now a fire upon her skin. Her hair was alive, and she felt that voice inside her screaming at her to get out of there.

But this was a dream. It had to be a dream. That was the only thing that made sense. The realities shifting around her, her lost friend coming back to replace the thing outside. All of this wasn’t real. She was just dreaming it.

No… The fear was real. That pain she felt in her chest as her heart beat so passionately that it wan’t to leap up out of her throat, was real. Her inability to breath because of the terror she felt forming from whatever was behind her, all of that was real.

“Sarah.. what have you done? Where are we, where have you pulled me into?” Lizzie asked.

Sarah didn’t answer, her eyes never pulled away from whatever was behind Lizzie. Lizzie wasn’t sure Sarah could answer, but knew that her inability wasn’t what keeping her quiet. Lizzie could feel the sensation of immobilizing fear as the waves of it washed over it.

“Elizabeth…” The voice wasn’t around her, but inside her head. The shear massiveness of it shook the very foundations of her skull and she thought her head was going to explode with the volume it smashed through her thoughts. It shook the reality around her, and blurred even the darkness to the point that even it could not be seen.

Lizzie feared what came with that voice. She knew it was behind her, and that it had set its sights on her. It was coming, and it was coming for her.

She didn’t want to turn to look. Her sanity would be gone the moment her eyes fell upon it, snapping like a twig under foot of a giant. She was but an ant to whatever it was, and soon she would know just how it felt to be at the insect end of the magnifying glass. It was coming…

She didn’t want to turn and look, but she was in the other place. She wasn’t seeing things with her eyes. Her mind controlled what she was seeing. She didn’t have to turn her head, or gaze upon it with her physical body, her mind could do it all without so much as a twitch. It was already starting to do that, turning, seeing the woods and clearing around her as her mind gaze slowly spun around.

She knew she would see it soon, and then all sanity would be lost. She saw the shadow man hovering near the woods, but this other thing, it wasn’t him. This was something more, something larger, and it was about to let loose her grip on her reality. Just a little more and she would see it…

“LIZZIE!” Screamed another voice inside her mind. This one she clearly recognized. This one, was Jessica, and with it, Lizzie felt herself ripped out of where she was, losing her grip on the other world, in she was…somewhere else.

Dead Friends: Chapter 48

I have never made a torch before, but the mechanics were simple enough. I wrapped a few strands of the cloth around the long wooden pole and then tucked in the lengths to the top. It was crude, and I figured I would hammer nails in once I had recovered the hammer. I just needed to get my hammer back first. This one should work until then.

I went back inside and grabbed matches from the kitchen drawer. This was still my first year at the cabin, and winter hadn’t fully hit yet, but figured whoever had been here last must have had a long winter with a lot of power outages. I had found matches spread throughout the house and various kerosene lamps when I had moved in. As I ran back outside, box of matches in hand, I looked at the torch I had just made lying on the ground and stopped.

I had kerosene lamps in the house…

My plan had been to light the torch, work my way to the door of the barn and recover the hammer. It was not a great idea, and I’d been concerned about setting down the torch at some point once I had recovered the hammer and needed to use it.

Yeah, not the brightest idea when I realized I had lamps actually in the house and I could use the lamps just in the way I had planned to use the torch. Though, unlike the torches, I could set the lamps on the ground when I was done with them.

I rushed back into the house and quickly found two of them. I lit them both when I was back outside and looked back at the barn. The shadows had stretched another foot since I had returned and were now reaching close to where I had set down the supplies for what would be the torch barrier I had planned to build. With the shadows, I could already see those long strands of darkness inching towards them.

“Shit.” I muttered under my breath and rushed over to where they lay, setting down one of the lanterns. I was already losing faith in my plan as the lantern was not giving off a lot of light in the daylight around it.

My stomach twisted into knots and I could already feel the chill coming from all those strands of darkness that were twisting in the shadows. There was going to be no way I was ever going to reach the hammer.

I had too. There wasn’t any other options.

I lit another match and fired up the last two lanterns. They ignited quick, and I heard the hiss as the lamps started to burn away the kerosene from the interior wick. It was like the fire was sucking away my breath as I could feel my heart quicken.

The day way getting cold, and I knew why. I refused to look up as I left the one lantern lit by my supplies and stood with the other two in my hands. I kept my gaze focused on that fire as I moved towards the door fo the barn.

It didn’t take long for me to be surrounded by the darkness. When everything was gone around me and I could see my breath in a mist in front of my face, I looked up to see that the strands had grown so thick in the shadows that the entrance to the barn wasn’t visible. I separated the two lanterns as I walked, and their light was now bright in the dark so maybe my plan wasn’t as harebrained as I had originally thought.

I had only taken a few steps but it felt like I had entered somewhere else. The light was gone, the temperature had dropped and the world I had known felt like it had dropped away, replaced by this evil place where color was lost to a void. What little shapes I could see were only shown to me in gray, seen through a thick shade of darkness. I knew where the barn was, but knew that it wouldn’t take much for me to be lost in this shadow world.

I felt the ice cold touch as one of the tendrils slithered past my leg. I looked down, momentarily taking my gaze away from the direction I needed to go, and saw nothing. That is to say, I saw nothing below my knees. The darkness was encircling my ankles and rising.

I lowered one of the lanterns and felt resistance as I brought the light down. These strands of darkness weren’t just pieces of air where there was an absence of light. This darkness was something alive, and the bottom of the lantern touched it as I tried to see my own shoes. I could feel the friction as whatever these tendrils were slithered out from beneath the glass bottom. I’m

There was a growing odor around me. As I had entered the darkness it had smelled like a stronger sense of the forest during the fall, the growing lingering smell of leaves decomposing. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. However, as the darkness moved around me, and I lowered the lantern to free my own legs, I could smell something burning. It was a mixture of horrific odors that swirled together to attack my senses, and I had to work not to vomit. I smelled rotten meat, the burning of leaves and cinnamon as they all came together from a source I could see of the light striking the dark strands.

I knew the light was hurting this thing, but it kept around me. I could lower the one lantern as far as my ankles, but to keep the other one raised so my body did not fall in shadow, I could get it any lower.

I was losing sensation in my toes. The cold was getting unbearable, and even though it was only my shoes covered in darkness, the chill was running down my spine.

I had to rethink this, and was trying to lower myself, by bending down. Maybe I could duck walk my way to the entryway. Or so, that was what I had been thinking. It was funny, thinking of something so ludicrous as to days of when I was a kid, and would play games with my brother where we would running around cracking like geese. Right now, something so childish could actually save my life. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about that at the time, I was only thinking how I could do what needed to get done…

I never had the chance to find out. I bent my knees and tried to lower myself. I was trying to get myself lowered to do the duck walk, but I could bring the lamp lower. No matter how hard I pushed, the darkness would not let go. The smoke rose from the tendril wrapped around my ankles, and the smelling of burning rotten meat got stronger, but I could not lower the lantern. I tried raising it and lowering it down in a slam to reach the ground, but it hit the same spot and would not go any lower.

I raised the lantern to try again, and that was when my world was turned upside down.

The tendril yanked hard, throwing me off my balance, and I lost both of my lanterns. The one that had been lowered just fell to an unseen ground as the darkness had absorbed it out of my sight. The other lantern had flown away, quickly lost in another direction. I had no idea of what came of either one of them, and I didn’t have time to care. The darkness had me.

I had fallen quickly, but never saw the ground. I don’t think I had ever reached it. No, I now I hadn’t, but I could feel the movement of the dark strands beneath me as the thing wrapped around my ankles pulled me.

I could feel that I was moving but had no sense as to how or where. You never realize how much you rely on your eyes for the world around you. I have learned a new respect for the blind as without being able to see, I was in a disconnect with most of my senses. I only had the feeling that I was moving, but nothing to allow me to confirm it.

It felt like I had snakes slithering all over my skin, that the darkness was full of them and they were wrapping themselves around me. I could feel that the air was growing thin, and I continued to breathe through my nose in the fear that if I opened my mouth, one of these dark things would slither inside. It was hard though, as all I wanted to do was scream.

I thought I was going to freeze to death. The cold was only getting colder. I thought I could feel parts of my skin freezing and breaking off, but was too numb to know for sure and feel the pain from it. My mind was telling me that all of this was too much to take in so it had stopped trying. Part of me was just wanting to fall off to sleep and give up, but I was too stubborn to ever do so. I couldn’t move. I was helpless and trapped, and afraid that if I did move that the cold tendrils would do more to me. To say I was afraid that they would sodomize me sounds ridiculous, but I feared anything and anywhere, these things would go.

My heart was beat so fast, I thought it would burst free from my chest. The wetness of tears trying to form froze at the corner of my eye. There was nothing I could do and it was only getting worse.

I had to do something though. I knew I had too.

I could say that I did try to struggle, at least I tried a little. The moment I did, I realized that the tendrils were not as close to me as I feared. There were the ones under me, those I could feel, and the one around my ankles, but above and around me there were none. I could flail back and forth, and there was nothing to keep me from moving.

I wish I could say that I remained calm and that lesser man would have been flailing around in fear. Well, I was the lesser man. Finding that I could move, I thrashed back and forth, and hit with fists of fear as I spun around. I could see anything or feel anything, I swung trying to get in a good blow. It was pure desperation and fear. I tried to kick, but the cold iron grip around my ankles was like a steel trap. I tried to claw at what was under me, grunting through bared teeth but could not dig into anything. Though as I did, I felt the tendrils move over my hand and in between my fingers. I pulled my hand back and fell back to lying on the darkness.

I began to wonder briefly if I really was moving. The shifting of the creatures under me may just be making me feel like I was in motion, but how could I be sure?

What did it matter? I was still in the dark. Still held by them, and I could feel my head starting to spin. Trying my desperate escape had only thinned the air more. I was going to suffocate in there.

I had to do something. I had to think.

Or do something without thinking. Which is more so what I did. I tried to be quick, hoping I would have the element of surprise. I tried to pull myself up, reaching for the tendrils rapped around my ankle. My fingers were bent like claws and I aimed to use the little finger nails I had like claws. I aimed for where my ankles would be, ready to dig into flesh or pound away at what was there.

I never got the chance to find out. I could feel as my ankles were released and dropped to whatever constitutes as ground. Was it on a bed of darkness or something else. I still couldn’t see anything but black, and the numbing cold on my back. Whatever had been moving beneath me was now still. All I had was the stench and darkness. I had t even realized that before there had been this white noise and even now that was gone. I was left in perfect isolation to everything. I could move but feel nothing, see and hear nothing. I was in the perfect void and wondered how long until I would drown in it.

Then a woosh of stale air hit me and I could breath. The air was dry and I had no idea where it came from. Not until the thousands of strands pulled away from around me and I found myself in a dark world different from my own. I knew this, because I could see the well, see where I had started the barn, but now the back half of the barn was blown away, like something had exploded out of it.

I… I don’t know how to fully describe what I saw. It was too much for me to comprehend. There was no light, but yet I could see. The world was dark, but somehow my mind could make it out. There was no color, there was no brightness, there was only existence. It was like I was somehow seeing without my eyes, but with my mind, and it hurt. It hurt like hell.

The brighter something should have been, the more it hurt to look at it. I avoided looking up, for fear that where the sun would be, would throw me into painful insanity that I would never recover from. Instead I looked around, trying to squint my eyes so that the brightness wasn’t too much. I couldn’t grasp that I wasn’t seeing with my eyes, as it was no good. As I looked around, tiny blades of pain seared their way into my temples.

What I saw around me was the dead. I saw all of them, and they were all staring at me, that look of hate for what I had done to them…I tried to close my eyes to avoid it, but again I was not seeing with them.

“Tik a tat, tik a tee, I wouldn’t if I as me.” Said a raspy voice around me. I quickly turned back, but didn’t see anything. There was only the well and the front of the barn, where I noticed for the first time the wall of darkness that stood at the barrier for what was left of it.

Before I could obsess over the barrier, a hand emerged from the well. At least, I thought it was a hand. It wasn’t of flesh, but of darkness, like a shadow of a hand. It was there for a second and then the hand was gone.

“Tik a tit, tik a tat,” said the voice, and this time I heard it behind me. I felt its touch, it was cold, but not as cold as the tendrils had been, run along my shoulders. I looked over one, and then the other.

That was when…that was when I saw her. The shadow woman that stood behind me, and while all of her was dark, her features unable to be seen even with my mind vision, I could still make out the razor sharp teeth as they bared into a smile.

“How about that…” It said, finishing whatever unGodly nursery rhyme. I-

****

Lizzie looked at the page in her hand and turned it over and then back again. She started searching through the other pages on the table and then picked back up the journal they had found it in. She did this a couple more times before setting it all back on the desk.

That was it. That was all that her uncle had left in the journal. What happened? Who had been the previous owner of the curse and how had he survived it. Had he survived it? Obviously he must have rebuilt the barn if whatever darkness had been coming out of the well was now contained there. The barn must have been rebuilt and some kind of barrier spell had been put in place to keep it from getting out. Right?

Are you really believing in magic and spells now? What’s next, are you going to believe in the boogeyman? It was logical. Lizzie heard her that rational voice in her head trying to point out how silly she was getting with her thoughts, but what has really been rational lately. Her life was nothing but a series of crazy, mixed with evil spirits, rising dead, dead friends who don’t stay and so many other things, When all kinds of insanity surround you, how do you continue to believe that life is rational.

Maybe I should just commit myself to a psych ward.

It hadn’t been the first time she had thought that, and maybe there was some truth to it. If she committed herself, she would be locked away. Then no one else could get hurt…except the nurses, guards, doctors, and anyone else who came to visit her. What if her brother visited her? Then he would be on the things radar.

There had to be more. She couldn’t put herself there, it would only bring bad things onto the one person she still cared about. The only one left alive that is.

Jessica. She’s not dead yet. Maybe she wouldn’t be and maybe her faith would protect her.

Lizzie tried not to scoff at the idea, her ancient cynicism working to get the better of her. She had to keep positive that Jessica would be okay.

Just don’t think about it then…

Lizzie reached forward to grab the journal the pages had fallen out of. Maybe there would be some context… something had to have more information for her and it had to be in there.

She was about to give up when she came across the page that must have contained the loose ones. It referenced finding them in the wall and how her uncle had dug looking for more, but there was nothing. He doesn’t say too much about the pages themselves until she turned to the next journal entry.

****

When I read the journal, I thought I might have finally found some answer for this curse. Instead I am left with more questions. The police have started to visit me, I keep having these terrible dreams, and this Englishman keeps wanting me to fix these old clocks. There’s something wrong with the clocks, I can feel it. There’s something wrong with all of them, but it’s like they are drawn here. I thought for sure there would be some answer, but there was nothing? Why hide the pages if you are not going to finish it.

I’ve asked a few of the dead, some who have known me but also know the area. They recall my uncle, told me about how he was some creepy old writer who killed his wife and lived out here as a hermit. Now I know there’s more to the story, but there are holes.

Thomas told me that my uncle wrote under a pen name and it was really creepy stuff. It scared people. They said it got into their heads. That when they read it, people felt like they could see, even dream about the monsters. Drove some insane. It was very Lovecratian, referring to old demons and creatures so large they filled the skies.

He also wrote about darkness and a well…

I began to wonder how much of his stories were written into his books.

Thomas couldn’t remember his pen name. He thought it was Michael or Mike. Something like that. Really weird last name though. Encock or something like that.

I’m thinking about going to the library tomorrow. Maybe I can find one of his books. If I’m lucky, maybe he’ll have written the rest of it down. Maybe someone has it published?

I don’t have much hope. Hope is for the ones who are not cursed and I’ve been cursed since the moment I entered this cabin.

Dead Friends: Chapter 47

The new pastor in town refuses to make the trip out to see me, though much of his congregation had come. Many of them are now permanent residents. I don’t know what started when Margaret fell into the well, but it has been spreading and getting more aggressive.

The barn was finished. I hoped that it would help protect against the evil getting worse. I was such a fool. What evil have I unleashed upon this world? Oh God, forgive me for what I have done.

****

Lizzie read those words again, looking the wrinkles at the end of the page. The man had obviously been crying when he wrote them, and the last word had a long stroke off of the ‘e’ like he had dragged the pen on the page. He had obviously been upset, and how could he not have have been, he had been the first. Yet, he knew so much more about this than anyone else.

His entry had seemed so final, like that had been the end of it, but Lizzie was surprised as she turned the page over, that there was quite a few more pages. These were not as nicely written, the ink splotchy in many places and the handwriting barely recognizable as it was written in a rush scrawl.

She was finally able to work out the first sentence, and gasped, nearly dropping the page in her hand.

****

Today, I fucked a shadow woman, and my soul will now no longer be my own. My family is now and forever cursed. Hell is all we have to look forward to, and it was all because of me and what I have done. My soul be damned.

I hate such foul language, but it seems apt for the world I am now cursed too.

When I finished the barn, I thought that by locking away the darkness of the well, that I would find peace. Instead I have created a place for the darkness to rise. Within days of the completion of the barn, the darkness was no longer deep in the depths of the accursed object. It was now brimming at the top.

The moment I entered the barn, the last board having been hammered home not five minutes, I saw the well. It looked like water had risen up, but I knew better than to get near it. That well was older than this house, and not once had it ever had water that high.

Even still, I could see that the dark liquid moved, and it was not clear. From the door to the barn, I could see the pitch black of night in that surface. There was no light there. There was very little light in the barn itself, but nothing penetrated that surface. It didn’t even reflect the little bit of light that was present. It was like a black nothing, and I could feel the cold presence that pushed out from it.

I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t know how long I stood there, just watching the gentle lapping of the water. It could have been hours or days lost in just what was a few seconds of me standing there. Time was gone, and I could feel the distance receding between me and it.

I might have been lost then had what sounded like a large bear came crashing through the woods nearby. I never found out what made the sound, but it had pulled me back, and I was able to blink myself out of whatever trance I had been in.

I wasn’t any closer to the well, but it had changed. I saw them now. There were little strands of black that had emerged. They were moving through the air like strands of web from a spider. They seemed like they were floating on the breeze, but that couldn’t be right. The little bit of wind was flowing into the barn, and these strands were not. They were moving throughout the barn, and towards me. The closest one was only a foot away.

I was getting pulled into another trance. I realized it the moment that closest strand nearly touched my cheek and I still hadn’t moved back. Just feeling it get near me, I could feel how cold it was. It was like ice had just touched me, and the strand was still inches away.

I stepped away from the barn, afraid of it and what I might have just done. The evil was spreading, had I just given it a home to grow? Was I fostering it like a weed? I have never been much of a gardener, but was I nurturing this thing like you would a tomato? Tomatoes need sunlight so you plant them where they will get it. Whatever this is, it needs darkness. Did I really just build a place where it could grow and become whatever it was to become?

I needed help. Those who were dead around me, they were all telling me I was going to hell. Once a new person arrived, Margaret was quick to tell them about how the evil had been awakened. It didn’t take long for an army to hate me, spouting vile and obscene threats.

Much of that changed when I backed away from the entrance to the barn and the first strand tried to leave. It burst into smoke when it touched the sun’s light and around me, the God fearing residents of the town watched in horror as it recoiled back into the confines of the barn.

“You need Patrick.” A quiet voice said near me. I turned and saw that it was Margaret herself, her crushed face looking in horror as the darkness writhed. “You need him here now before it gets dark.”

She was right, and the moment she said it, I knew what she meant. The sun would only be overhead for so long, then that creature would be free, and I slept only yards away. Who knew what it would do to me once I found myself wrapped by that cold darkness.

I knew I had to go into town and find Pastor Patrick.

****

However, I did go into town, and I had found the pastor. I’d already spoken to him before. He knew my situation. I pleaded with him, telling him there was no other way. He was bringing forth the end of the world if he didn’t home back with me. I told him everything, confessing everything to God and priest. I did all of that, and it was for nothing. He would not come back with me to this cursed place. I can’t even say I really blame him. I wouldn’t come here if I didn’t have no where else to go.

I must admit, if I’m being truly honest with myself, that I’m surprised he didn’t throw me out of the church. He told me that just that morning, Miss Maisel had passed away in the night. He has now lost nearly half of his congregation, and he himself was not sure what must be done. More and more of them are dying from some disease that has been sweeping through the perish. Some in town have started calling it the sleeping sickness. Others have called it the Roger’s curse. I don’t know which is true. Is it my curse? Have I started this? What was there that I could do about it? It was obvious by the fear I saw in that young pastor’s face, that he would not be of any help.

I had thanked him, and prepared to leave, when he did offer me one thing, and at this point as useless as I felt it was, he offered to pray with me.

I don’t remember much of the prayer. I think I’ve already established that while I go to church occasionally, I am not much of a praying man. Something about that prayer did strike me though. I don’t remember the exact words, but the pastor had said something. It was a passage I could tell that he was reading from the Bible. Something about bringing light to the darkness, or casting out the darkness with light. I don’t know why, but something about him saying that, as I kneeled there with him, well it got me to thinking about ways of possibly doing just that.

How do you get rid of darkness, you bring light to it. The barn didn’t have electricity, not yet at least, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t set fire to it. Fire. Set the whole thing on fire, burn it all down…

Or, that was my first thought.

As I made my way home, I thought about why I had built the barn. Or tried to. It was hard, as I couldn’t recall to much of what had possessed me to do such a terrible idea. There were safety concerns, worried that others might fall into the well, but seriously, how often did that happen? There had to be other reasons, and I didn’t think it was all wrong. It does trap the evil during the day. I just needed to find a way to make whatever barrier is in place stronger.

Still, I was stuck on the idea of fire. I couldn’t get the picture out of my head, this huge blaze burning away, burning it all away. In my head, starting the fire turned into this monstrous beacon of light that lit the whole area and rose up high into the sky. It was glorious, this halo that would surround the world and push away the darkness.

It was foolhearty of course, and I knew I would never do it. That didn’t mean there wasn’t some merit to the idea. I didn’t have much time left before dusk would turn into night, and while I had an idea of what to do, I wasn’t sure of how I was going to do it. However, something was in my favor.

I don’t remember doing it. I don’t remember going to the store or purchasing any of the supplies, but as I neared the house, I smelled kerosene. On the floor board was a jug of the stuff. In the back seat, I saw long sticks and a pile of rags. I don’t know where it came from. Even if I had gone to the general store in town, I doubted they would have had the cloth, not in the dirty disheveled state of what was in my back seat. The poles were also dirty. So none of it was new.

Were had I gone after I left the church? As much as I tried to remember, it was like there was a dark patch in my memory. It wasn’t even that something had guided me, this was flat out, I had no clue where I was or had been.

Something was wrong, and it would have troubled me more had I not just put the car in park, and was looking at the haggard cabin I was now calling a home.

I could still burn it all down…

I knew as much as I wanted to as I got out of that car and walked my way around back, listening to the angry screams from the dead as I did so. Burning the barn would be a mistake. If I did, what was in there would be free. Whatever had kept it trapped before was withered away now since Margarets murder. My only chance was the barn. It was the only way I could contain it.

I stopped when I reached the back corner of the cabin to look at the barn. The shadows had grown long and I had forgotten to bring the torch making supplies with me. So what I saw there, the long shadows stretched out from the front of the barn, filled with the dark flailing tendrils of evil… There was not a chance in hell I was taking another step towards any of that without fire leading the way.

Maybe it was a good thing I hadn’t brought the supplies the first time. Before, I hadn’t had a plan, but as I watched the things shifting through that darkness, I got an idea. I would need my hammer, and it was only going to be a temporary solution. Probably would work only for tonight, I couldn’t know for sure. It might not work at all.

I grabbed the supplies and brought them to the back, and then went to grab my hammer. I thought it would be in my tool box, and when I went into the cabin for it, thought it would be on the kitchen counter where my box sat open.

It wasn’t there…

Had I really only finished the barn this afternoon?

I had, and all of this had started when I had gone into the barn, my hammer still in hand. What had I done with the hammer then? I knew the answer, but didn’t want to acknowledge the truth.

Of course, when I stepped outside and looked at the barn, I could see my hammer. Not at first, but as the dark tendrils flicked back and forth, I could see it there at the threshold of the barn. I had dropped it…

There was already not enough time to get this done, how could I ever do this… And now I had no hammer. I needed it if my plan was to work.

The thought of going back into town for a new hammer was appealing, but I knew there was less time for that, and I would never be able to contain this thing if I did that. I had to get my hammer back.

“And hey, look on the bright side, at least I’ll be able to see if this whole torch idea was even going to work.” I had said it out loud, but had meant it as a thought to myself. Kathryn and Margaret were both near me when I said and they both snickered.

“Serves you right. You’re going to die.” Margaret said.

“You need to do this. If you don’t, everyone else will die.” Kathryn said. I could see the pain in her eyes, and knew she was worried. Both of them were, which surprised me without much Margaret would love to see my die horribly.

I felt the wetness at the corner of my eye, but brushed away. I didn’t have any time for that. I quickly went to work on making my first torch.

Dead Friends: Tagline

I’ve been playing around with tagline’s lately with work, using some advice I have heard to come up with some catchy descriptions. Here is what I am thinking for Dead Friends, my current work in progress…

Her friends were dead…

Lizzie was still alive…

They wanted to correct that…

Killed by a curse-

Lizzies dead friends surround her…

She is still alive…

They died only because they knew her…

Now they want their revenge…

What are your houghts?

You’ll notice the break in the above. It is because it is written to look a certain way on Amazon upon publication. You can see how it would look by clicking here.

Dead Friends: Chapter 46

Lizzie wasn’t sure how long she had been sitting there in the corner before she finally stood. She knew it had been awhile as her butt was sore as pins and needles ran up her foot and thighs. None of her pain, or the time she had been sitting there changed the fact that the bed was empty. Jessica was gone, leaving Lizzie alone in her house of death.

The light outside was fading and the room was growing dark in the waning afternoon light. It would be full dark now. There was a part of her that welcomed it. It was becoming to hard to keep fighting. Not when everyone close to her or helped her would just keep dying.

Lizzie had no doubt that she would see Jessica soon, and that will have joined one of the dead outside. Now it was only a matter of time. Then with Jessica gone, who would she have left? All her closest friends will have died. Who would it take next?

Lizzie turned on the light and stared back at the bed. Just how long had Lizzie slept? How long had she been out before her friend decided to leave? Had that been her plan since before trying to get Lizzie to lie down? Jessica had been adamant about going to see the old woman, but that had been before they read the part of the note.

Lizzie tried to think back. Had Jessica still been adamant about going to see the her. Even after they had read the note, had the desire still been there? She thought Jessica had chilled, but Lizzie could have been wrong. When had they fought. Was it before or after?

The last few hours hand become a blew and she barely knew when things had happened. With the midday nap, it really made everything feels like a new day, that all that stuff happened yesterday or something. The timeline wasn’t clear in her head.

What did it matter anyway? Jessica was gone. Soon, another one of her friends will have died.

All she would have left would be the dead ones outside. She could hear them bickering out there. Most times, she always had music or some show playing just to cut down on the stillness of the cabin and the noise outside. With Jessica there, she had turned it off.

Now that silence was growing heavy, and she could feel the pressure of the walls closing in. The space of the cabin felt smaller, the rooms tighter with not enough space for her to move through.

She had to get out of the bedroom. The dark interior seemed like it was reaching out to her, that the light had hid shadows that were coming alive. The room itself was getting stuffy. She was sweating, but yet she felt cold at the same time. Her heart was thumping in her chest and the walls started to tremble. She couldn’t tell if it was the cabin or her own eyes playing tricks. It was impossible to tell as her own body felt like it was betraying her. What was happening to her?

She rushed out of the room, coughing, unable to breathe. She made it only a few more steps, the world spinning around her before she passed out, crashing to the floor.

****

It was hard to breathe. No, wait, it was where she was at that was hard, how she was lying there. Her head hurt, but so did the rest of her. She tried to move, but everything was stiff. Her mind was stiff. The fog that clouded her thoughts did not want to dissipate. Am I waking up? Where am I?

Her eyes didn’t wan’t to open. They felt glued shut, and there was this pounding that was pulsating through her. At first she thought it was her headache, throbbing enough she could not only feel it in her teeth, but all the way down to her toes.

At least I still have toes. At least I’m still alive. But really, did she still want to be alive? Life just meant that she was still alone.

Jessica! Jessica had left her there to be alone.

Some of the thickness in her head pulled back and she started to remember the panic attack she had. That had been, by far, one of the worst she had ever experienced. God, I hope that never happens again. Though, she knew she couldn’t even make that promise. After all, what was going to happen when she did see Jessica again, as one of the dead outside.

Dead inside, dead inside, what you gonna do with the dead inside… A song was floating through her heads, the track suddenly on repeat. Even worse was she couldn’t place the song, and she was sure those weren’t the correct lyrics.

And please make that damn pounding go away! She wanted to scream at it to just stop shaking her. Her body hurt enough.

She finally opened her eyes. She had been right. She was lying on the hard wood floor. Not comfortably either. All of her was sprawled out like she hadn’t caught herself when lying down there, her face flat to the floor, her back twisted as though she had been in mid turn when she crashed.

All of her hurt… but the pounding, not that was strangled alien. It took her a few more moments to process that it was the floor shaking with the pounding, the vibration shaking through her.

Someone was pounding from outside.

“Hello!” She heard a gruff male voice barking from outside. The voice sounded angry. Who would be so angry?

Oh God, it had to be someone who know about the dead. Oh no, maybe one of the loved ones found out somehow and were now out there to get their revenge. They were going to kill me? I’m about to die.

Lizzie suddenly found herself fully awake as she pushed herself up from the floor, a slight trail of drool the only remnant to show where her face had been.

“I see the car out here, now open this door. I know you’re here.” The gruff voice growled from beyond the door as it assaulted it with a fresh barrage. “This is Sheriff <name>. We spoke at the hospital. Now open this door.”

Lizzie knew she was fully awake, but she still felt like the fog was swirling its way around her head again and her chest was tight. It was like the couldn’t breathe all over again, and she saw the darkness in the corner of her vision. She was on the verge of passing out again. Maybe SHE needed to go to the hospital again. It wasn’t right for her to keep passing out, or nearly passing out.

She worked to force herself through it, standing up, but she had done it too fast. The world spun around her and before she realized what she was doing, she had reached out to the wall and caught herself.

“I can hear you in there.”

“Just-” she tried to call out, struggling to form the sentence, “Just a second” in the hopes to get herself a reprieve from the fists slamming on the door. Each pounding beat was like a fresh wave of drum lines that struck through her head, working to rebound off her aching skull.

She couldn’t get it all out though, and was left with moving closer to the wall, leaning on it for support. She rested her head on it, enjoying the sensation of the cool wood. That was until the fresh round of pounding caused the cabin to shake and vibrated the wall.

“Open up. This is the sheriff, and I want some damn answers. Open this damn door.” She clearly heard him say, though afterwards, she swore she could a muffled, “Damn kids today have no respect for the law.” It was as though he said this to herself, and even through the pain, she felt a slight smile on her lips as fresh wetness formed at the corner of her eyes.

Come on, Lizzie, get your shit together. All you have to do is open your door and let him in. She knew that wasn’t true though. She had to let him in, but then she had to talk to him, and what did he want to talk about? How much did he know? Well, he was there, so he had to have an idea of what was going on. He had grown up around her hadn’t he? She had no clue, but even if he hadn’t, if there were as many rumors as the journal made out, then he had to have heard things.

She would never know until she opened the door.

Her head wouldn’t stop spinning, and she wondered when was the last time she ate? How long had she been on the floor? Could she be so off because of food?

FOCUS!

The voice screamed at her, and it pulled her out of the fog she knew she had been slipping back into. Enough at least, so she could push herself off of the wall and start stumbling towards the door.

****

“Hello,” She said, her voice sounding weak to her own ears as she stared up at the tall uniformed man standing outside. She barely remembered him from the hospital, but recalled how she hadn’t like him then. Elisabeth had to save her from him then, pulling him out of the room, telling him that Lizzie still needed time to recover. Lizzie didn’t recall him ever coming back though, to ask more questions. Maybe he had and she had just been out of it. That time in the hospital felt so long ago, and everything capture in this haze of confusion between what had all been happening to her lately.

What did she remember?

She hadn’t remembered him being so short. She knew that much. Her memory was fuzzy, but she recalled him towering over her, his presence filling the hospital room as Sarah was trying to calm her down.

Lizzie had hid in the bathroom, she had been terrified, but it hadn’t been the sheriff that had scared her. There had been something else there, some other creature, and it had been after her.

All those memories were a blurry mess, and she wasn’t sure how much of them were reliable. She had no clue what drugs that had been pumping into her. There was something about snakes. She had thought they had been around her, trying to attack her, but she had been in a hospital.

The sheriff watched her, now, not saying anything, and she realized that she had just stood there with the door open, allowing her thoughts to wander after saying hello. He was studying her, that much was obvious, but why, she wasn’t sure.

You do realize that Roland’s car is still parked out there. That you had driven it here after leaving him dead in his hotel room. He must have run the plates by now. He knows that you stole it. What else does he know. He’s here to take you to jail.

How long would she even stay in jail before a padded room would be needed?

“Can..Can I help you?” She asked. She had started shifting back and forth, uncomfortable as the man was staring at her, not saying a thing.

At least he’s alive, not like all the dead who were standing out in the yard watching the exchange.

“Arrest her!” Josh was yelling. He was obviously afraid to get to close to the house as he kept his distance when he yelled. He was doing his best though to get the sheriff’s attention, trying to pick up rocks and toss them at the house. The best he could do was shuffle them around, which only Lizzie noticed.

The rest were quiet, watching with interest.

“We’ve met before.” He finally said. Lizzie didn’t think it was a question, but she answered it anyway, unsure of what really to say to the man.

“I think so. I think you came to ask me about my attack.”

“And about your friend dying.”

“Yes, Sarah.”

“She was killed here, in the kitchen.” Lizzie winced as the sheriff said, kitchen, he nodded towards the room behind her. At first Lizzie didn’t feel comfortable that the man knew the layout of her house. It made sense though. He would have been in there when they were investigating the m-… death. She struggled not to think of her friend as being killed that way.

“I’ve been looking into your friends death. We don’t get many murders around here, so when one happens, I like to be thorough.”

Lizzie doesn’t know what to say. She nods, as though she’s understanding, but doesn’t move, still standing there in the door. It takes all her concentration to listen to him, as her mind wants to travel back in time to when Sarah was still alive. Her friend, going with her to movies, or just shopping as they would talk about what new infatuation either of them had.

“I think I told you about your killer. He had been dead for less than a week, but somehow his corpse came here…and killed your friend. How does that happen?”

Lizzie felt herself wanting to scream, at the sheriff and at everything around her. She wanted to run up to him and yell into his face “Because I’m cursed asshole and all kinds of weird shit happens around me with the dead. I have a back yard full of them. Do you want to come and see? I’m sure if you stay here long enough you’ll join them. I bet you would like that wouldn’t you mother fucker.”

The rage, as sudden as it was, was invigorating. The fog that had kept pushing in on her thoughts was suddenly forced away and she was suddenly looking at the man standing in the threshold with a sudden clarity. Why was he here? What did he know? Why wasn’t he asking her to come in?

Suddenly all the warning bells were flashing through her skull as something was off about this man. He must have seen it too, seen the shift in her eyes, as he changed his stance and his hand dropped to rest on the revolver holstered on his belt.

“What…What are you trying to say?” Lizzie asked, her mouth suddenly dry, but she forced the words out, the fury lacing them with self righteous anger induced sarcasm. This anger actually felt good. It felt like she was finding some of herself again. Some of the woman she’d been before her friends around her started dying.

“I’m not sure yet. That was odd. First I thought that you and your friend had dug him up as some kind of kinky sex thing. Sick, but who knows what you city types do to get your kicks. Tim Hicks, the medical examiner did say, however, that it did look like the ol’ coot did climb himself out of his own grave. All the physical evidence supports it. So… Why did he come here? What brought him here?”

“Don’t know deputy. Any other recently dead bodies start waking up? If any of them stop by, I will make sure to let you know.”

“Sheriff. Sheriff Hartley. I apologize for not introducing myself. You are Elizabeth Rogers, friends, those still alive at least, call you Lizzie. You inherited this house and now live here I gather as no one has seen your around your apartment in over a week. You used to date a,” The sheriff pulls out a small notebook from his chest pocket. She already knows what he is going to say. It was obvious as he had been looking into her. Why her? He already said he’d figured out about the old man, so there was nothing more for him to investigate.

He also didn’t answer your question when you asked him if there had been any more dead bodies to get up and leave the cemetery.

“Roland, who died one week ago from what looks to be a heart attack in a hotel room. That’s his car-” The sheriff said, nodding over his should to the car parked out from. “Parked right over there. You were with him when he died.”

“I was.”

“Then you stole his car.”

“I was freaked out. I needed to get out of there.”

The sheriff stands there for while, looking at her. That stern look never changes. The man could be carved out of marble. He definitely looks like he had been around for awhile, his weather face, the winkles that show age with his pale skin.

“Taking the car was illegal, but his parents said they wouldn’t file charges if it turned out you had taken it. They say hello by the way and worried about how you are doing.”

“I’m doing okay.”

“Hiding out here in the woods.”

“I said, I’m doing okay.”

“Yeah, well, they said if I found it with you, you can keep it.”

“How would any of that be in your jurisdiction. That was down in Milwaukee, not way the hell up here.”

“You’re right. I was looking into you, and came across the case. I let the Milwaukee PD know that I would try and help them out. That case is going to be closed, just as all the cases that surround you.”

“Okay. Then why are you here. You obviously know I haven’t done anything.”

“Other than steal the car.”

“Which you now said was okay. What are you doing here sheriff?”

Who is this woman and where had she been in the last two weeks? Lizzie was proud of herself. Maybe it was just easier to stand up to the law when you’ve been dealing with the dead and creepy other things from beyond this world. After that, the sheriff seemed not as imposing.

“The cases were closed, and I’ll admit, I’m not from this area. I moved here just a few years ago, caught up in an opening for the sheriff’s department for the county. Seems that it was hard to find a local willing to patrol this area and no one could tell me why.”

“Okay. Why are you telling me this?”

“I didn’t ask any questions then. You see, I needed a job, and most places asked too many questions about ones past. Up here, though, they didn’t care about my past. They saw my experience and that I was willing to patrol the area without questions. I was hired within days.

“It’s a quiet area. Nothing really happens. There are no major highways in my zone so I never have to worry about speeders. Bothered me at first as I wasn’t sure this district enforced any kind of quota, but the people who hired me had no issues. I felt like I wasn’t doing my duty, but I quickly learned I could just sleep away my shifts and no one would care. I was in the dark zone, and as long as someone was here, they didn’t care what I did.”

Lizzie was suddenly not feeling so well. Her stomach rolled and she felt like she was closer to his man than she wanted to be. Her face was flushed.

She swore that look had changed. He was looking at her with a hunger. She swore she could see it in his eyes. That they had shifted, The brown had changed as the black of his iris’s expanded. His voice was growing more gravely, and she watched as he swayed forward and back.

He reached out and put a hand on the door frame to steady himself.

As soon as his hand touched the wood, he brought it back, clutching it to himself. Lizzie swore she could see smoke from between the fingers of his other hand. Was it just a trick of the light? She didn’t think so as the brown returned to his eyes and he was now clearly snarling. The look was feral as he licked his lips.

“Then your friend died.” He growled. “It seems like there are a lot of people who die around you. Have you noticed that. The nurse and her boyfriend, they brought you home and then were killed in a bad accident. Do you know how long it has been since the last accident in this area? It had been over ten years ago, and do you want to guess where it occurred? I’m sure you already know. I’m sure you know a lot of things.

“Not a lot of people die around here. Statistically its one of the safest, and healthiest counties in the U.S. Though it is a small county, so there are not a lot of people left. Those that are, they don’t like to come out here. Do you want to know why?”

Lizzie was pretty sure she knew why. She wanted to step back from the sheriff. She was no longer convinced he was a man. She wasn’t sure what he was, but he wasn’t human. If she turned her back on him now, she felt, no she knew that he would be on her, attacking her, ripping her to shreds. It didn’t matter what protection the house had, it looked like it only hurt him, and she didn’t think that would stop him. Not if she allowed him to give in to his nature. He was a predator, and you never turn your back on a predator.

“Why?”

“Because people die when they come out here. Just like little Tommy Wallace. Do you know who that is?”

Lizzie shook her head.

“He delivered your groceries last week. He died this morning. Another car accident. He was run over by a semi truck. Not much of the body was left. He only had one arm attached, both of his legs had been ripped off. It was like when he got caught up in the trucks large tires, it grinded him up. He had been riding his bicycle, so that was with him. He face had spokes from the tires sticking out of him, one of his eye balls had been affixed to the end of one like a shishkabob.

“I had to scrape that poor kid up off the gravel this morning, and you know what I realized? That all this death, it all comes back to this place. That is all comes back to you.”

“People died before me, sheriff.” Lizzie could barely find her voice. She couldn’t stop thinking about the kid who had delivered her groceries. She hadn’t thought about him much. She had barely said anything to him, not wanting to cause him harm. He had tried to ask her things, but she had barely said a word.

None of that had worked. He had died anyway.

“That’s what I’m told. Doesn’t matter. It all comes back to you now.”

Lizzie blinked away her thoughts to look at the cop who was standing at the door. She noticed his hand was still resting on his revolver. He hadn’t flicked off the strap, but she could see his finger hovering.

“Does it?”

She see his tension, and it was like watching the wheels turn. She realized that his predator self didn’t need to come into the house. A bullet from that gun would have nothing to stop it. He could end this all now, and it would be over with for her. She might be able to find peace, but then it would be her brother’s turn. How would he ever be able to protect himself?

She saw as the sheriff must have come to a conclusion. His shoulders relaxed as he started to study the house around her.

“It might not. I know about your brother too. I know about your whole family. So here is what we’re going to do.” He said as his hand fell away from his revolver.

“Whenever you need groceries, or something brought to the house, you call me at the sheriffs department. I’ll bring it out. You don’t call the grocery store, you call me. You do not leave this house for any reason. You don’t go anywhere, you don’t do anything. If you feel like you need to get out, too bad. Think of this as your jail cell, because you are now under house arrest, you got that.”

Lizzie wanted to argue with the man, but she kept thinking of that little boy. She knew she would be seeing him again soon. Jessica and now him. Two more to join her legion of horrors outside.

“What if I say no?”

“Is that what you want?” The sheriff said, bringing his hand back to his revolver. Lizzie understood the threat, though in truth, it wasn’t needed. She agreed with the sheriff. For whatever he was, this might be the best solution.

She shook her head no, in response to his threat.

“Good.”

“What do you know about all this? What do you know that your not telling me.”

“That’s none of your concern.” The sheriff said. Then he went down the stairs, keeping his back away from her. She watched him until he was out of sight, blocked from view by the metal slab.

With him gone, she closed the door. She thought she would collapse like she had done before. Instead, she looked across the room at the pages scattered on the table.

Dead Friends: Chapter 45

“Is there more?” Lizzie asked. She’d been watching Lizzie as she read the pages of journal entry they had found, while making glances towards the kitchen in the direction of the barn. She wasn’t sure how, but she was sure she felt the darkness throbbing out there, aching to get to them.

“Yeah, I just need to get a drink. Reading this. It’s disturbing and really worries me. What is out there? Have you been in the barn?” Jessica said, setting down the pages and moving into the Kitchen. Lizzie followed her as she got herself a glass of tap water.

“Well, yeah, it was where the clock had been. Didn’t I tell you about the creepy guy who came out here? The old Englishman-” Lizzie shuddered at the memory of him. “He just gave off this really uncomfortable vibe. I can’t even say why, but he also wanted inside the barn, but I think feared it as well. He wouldn’t come in there, not once the lights were turned on, and he wouldn’t step foot inside the house.”

“Things of evil can’t enter here.” Jessica said, taking a sip of her water while looking out the kitchen window towards the old barn. “I wonder why he couldn’t enter the barn though. It sounds like that’s where the evil is contained.”

“It doesn’t really feel contained.”

Jessica nodded her head in agreement.

“Jes, what am I going to do?”

Jessica turned to look at her. Lizzie could see that Jessica was wanting to say something, as she kept opening her mouth, but then closing it. Finally she stopped trying and looked back to the barn.

“We need to get a priest involved.”

“Really? God is the answer? When has he ever done anything for me?” Lizzie scoffed as she reached to pull down her own glass and ran the water.

“You just heard what he’s done for you. This house was blessed by a priest. God is what keeps you safe.”

“Yeah, just as safe as the voodoo woman’s charm. I’m still trapped in here with my dead friends outside wanting to kill me, and some kind of shadow thing who wants to do only God knows what.”

“But he is here, his presence is in this house.” Jessica waved at the room around them.

“So God is holding me prisoner here?”

“That’s not what I said.”

“Yes it is. Your telling me that there is some great almighty and that because of him, there is this evil thing out there. Why because of him? Because the big man upstairs wont smite it down, or cast it away, whatever he does with this stuff, I have to hide here in some remote cabin, not really even away that I can leave because if I do, people will either die or I will be attacked. Oh, and guess what. Your trapped here too, because in case you haven’t noticed, your the only friend of mine that hasn’t died, and the only reason why I can think that is, is because you are trapped in here with me. So there you go. There’s your God, and you know what, fuck him.”

Jessica looked stricken at Lizzie. Lizzie could see the color that had risen to her friend’s face and knew that she was angry. Surprisingly enough and to Lizzie’s amazement, she was mad enough to not immediately yell back at Lizzie. Which in a way, it was worse, because she calmly set down her glass of water and walked out of the room not even looking at Lizzie.

Lizzie stood there for a minute, looking at the door her friend had just walked through. She could hear Jessica moving around in the other room, but expected her to come back. After she didn’t, Lizzie grew nervous.

“Jess?”

“Yeah?” Something was wrong. Lizzie could hear it in her tone.

“Hey.” Lizzie followed Jessica into the other room, getting ready to apologize to Jessica, not really sure what she had said to upset her, but obviously something was going on. Lizzie stopped when she saw that Lizzie was going through the diaries, looking at a few pages in each on then moving on to the next.

“I’m going to find that crazy voodoo woman and show you that she is not the answer.”

“What do you mean?”

Jessica stands up. She’s glares are Lizzie.

“You have this in your head that God can’t help you. You have all this evil around you and your only thought is this voodoo woman has some kind of answer for you. She doesn’t. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be able to pull yourself out of this mess.”

“Jess, I’m cursed. My family is cursed. You read the pages. That guy, some distant relative, who the hell knows, he had a priest out there and guess what, the priest was also killed. Everyone who tries to help is killed.”

“There is a way out, and God will be the answer.”

“You can’t honestly believe that.”

“I do.”

“Then your an idiot. When did you get all Jesus freak on me.”

“What did you just say?”

“I said, when did you go all religious? Is this Denny? Did he get you into all this?”

“I met him through my church, which I’ve gone to since I was a little girl. You would have known that, but you and Sarah were always so involved in yourselves, that you really never got to know me did you. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve always been good friends, but you never asked what I was doing Sunday mornings, or why I would never meet up with you guys on Wednesday nights.”

“Well no, you said you were busy. It was your thang.”

“Yeah, well God is more than just a ‘thang’.”

“I get it. Your ultra religious. I’m not. Jesus isn’t just going to come swooping in here to save me.”

“No, but he might help you save yourself.”

“Its not going to work that way. God doesn’t work here.”

“Then why can’t they get in this house.”

“One of them did, and Sarah is dead because of it.”

“What do you mean?”

“This all started here, when Sarah and I came here. Remember? That guy attacked her. He killed her. He was naked when he did so, which is something I will never get out of my head, that penis over me, the maggot swiveling out of its head. God, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have sex again. But that happened there, in that kitchen, and you now what, God didn’t come save me, and that thing was able to get in despite your ‘God’s protection.” Lizzie said as she air quoted about God’s protection.

“Yeah, but he was just a man. Men can be corrupted. That won’t stop them from coming onto blessed earth.”

“No Jessica, he was dead. That’s what the sheriff said. He had been a freshly buried corpse, and had somehow dug himself out of his grave to be in here when we got here, and he killed her.”

Lizzie was trying to hold it together, but the tears were streaming down her cheek as much as she tried to fight it. The more she did, the stronger the sobs became, the memories coming back to her as she had watched the life fade out of Sarah’s eyes. She had watched her friend take her last breath just yards away from where she was standing now, and over the last week had been able to block those images out. Whatever mental barrier she had put up to protect her from those had withered away, and now all those emotions she had been bottled up were rushing at her.

She couldn’t handle them. She collapsed into the closest chair, letting the waves of emotion slam into her.

Before Lizzie could see through the tears, she could feel Jessica’s arms wrap around her, but they weren’t just enveloping her. Jessica pulled Lizzie up into a long hug. It was long and soothing and Lizzie could feel some of the tension trapped in her shoulders release, but with it, a new torrent of tears.

“Come here.” Jessica stepper away, but had slipped her hand into Lizzie’s so she could pull her. Jessica was leading her into the other room, but Lizzie could t stop herself from asking.

“Where?”

She saw where. Jessica was taking her into the bedroom.

“Come on. You need to lie down.”

Lizzie followed her, and once in what was now ‘her’ bedroom, she rested onto the mattress. She hadn’t noticed how it had smelled before, but she thought she could now almost taste the generations that had slept there, all tortured by this affliction. It was trapping her, and she felt herself balling up, pulling herself inwards. She was never going to be able to leave this place ever again. This was her prison now, but her only crime was one someone in her blood line had done a long time ago.

New tears wet the brown stained pillow, she could feel them streaming down her cheeks. Behind her she felt the bed shift and then warmth. Jessica was behind her and wrapped her arms around her.

“Your not going to try and make out with me, are you?” Lizzie said. She knew she was trying to be funny, but could hear how bad the off the cuff joke came out even to herself. “Because I never took you as swinging both ways.”

“Shh. Just relax. We’ll figure this out okay.”

“How can you say that?”

“Because I have faith, and for the record, I’ve always thought of you and Sarah as my sisters, and sisters can lie with one another when one needs it. There is nothing sexual about this.”

“If you say so, and thanks.” Lizzie said. She could feel that fear and worry that we plagued her, fade. She also felt herself slipping off to sleep and hadn’t realized how tired she’d been. “I’m going to die here.”

“Liz- Do you know where this voodoo woman even lives?”

“Wha?”

“Where does she live?”

“How do you know about her?” Lizzie asked. Her voice was just above the whisper and she knew she was saying the words but wasn’t connected to them. Part of her had already slipped away, losing herself to sleep, and what was still awake seemed like it was talking out from a dream.

“You told me about her. Remember, the talisman. I’m going to go see her. You think she has some kind of answer for you. I’m going to go see her.”

“Please don’t. I can’t lose you too.”

“You are not going to lose me. Your not going to lose anyone else. We’re going to stop this.”

“She’s at-“ And that was the last Lizzie could remember as she drifted off into sleep. As she did, she thought she could hear the old voodoo woman laughing at, her, but then the sound faded, and the darkness enveloped her into unconsciousness.

****

Lizzie wasn’t sure, but didn’t think she had slept too long. It was still the light outside, though the clouds made it hard to know for sure where the sun was. It didn’t matter, the little bit of sleep that she had did reset her, calm her nerves. After all, maybe Jessica was right. Maybe they could find a way out of this.

Lizzie released the blind and let it slip back into place, trying to ease it closed without making too much noise. Jessica must have called asleep behind her as she could feel her still pressed up against her back. It was more comforting that she’d like to admit having her there. Lizzie wasn’t sure if she could handle being alone anymore. She needed someone to help her through this. She didn’t know what she had done to deserve a friend as good as her.

Lizzie worked on continuing to move silently as she slid from the bed and out of the small bedroom. The house seemed so quiet, quieter than it had since she first arrived at the house.

It made sense. Since she’d been there, whenever it had been silent like this, she had found it oppressing and creepy. The stillness drove her to the point that she thought her own mind was buzzing inside her head. So since she’d lived there, her laptop had been playing some form of music, always playing quietly in the background.

The music had stopped at some point during her nap, and for the first time, Lizzie actually found the lack of noise comforting. She quickly made her way through the room to the kitchen. Her mind kept wondering as she walked.

How were they going to break the curse? Jessica was so confident that they would, but how? She believed her god would. Did Lizzie?

There was something that happened with the birds. She could t quite remember what, but there had been something out there. Just there was no way Lizzie was ready to call it Devine intervention. If it was, God had waited his sweat time before he had stepped in. There were quite a number of very good people whose essence was outside that could still be alive if God was going to step into things. They could all still be alive.

Lizzie wasn’t sure she could put her faith in a God who let that happen.

She stepped into the small room, listening as the squeal from the door hinges broke through the silence. It was much like the first time she had entered into this room, and for a heartbeat of a second, Lizzie was the naked man standing there. He was again standing over her dead friend, Sarah on the ground with her eyes bulging, nearly exploding from their sockets.

Lizzie closed her eyes and count back from five. He wasn’t there. There was no way he could be. He was dead.

He’d been dead the first time. That hadn’t stopped him then and it might not have stopped him now. Though I can’t smell him…

Before he had that terrible odor to him. She remembered it as that sweat and rotting meat. It had been gut wrenching had he not already disgusted her with his naked appearance.

She opened her eyes and he was gone, not that he had ever really been there. Well, she’d had a few moments of peace. The tension was already starting to tighten her back and she could really use another back massage. Her chest was burning, the stress slamming back into her.

Her water was near the sink and she was thankful that it was still mostly full. It was even slightly chilled, and she enjoyed it as she let the clear fluid rush down her throat into her empty stomach.

“That’s the stuff.” She said to the empty kitchen and was already starting to look around for something to eat. The cabinets weren’t bare of food, but there wasn’t a plethora of it either. Most the snack food was gone because come on, she was still of college age, of course she at that first. There was so frozen vegetables in the freezer, and some sandwich meat in the fridge.

Lizzie continued to think through, taking a virtual inventory of her food situation, but there was movement outside. There was someone arguing. She turned and she could see two men out there fighting. They were in the shadow of the barn, so she couldn’t really see them and just barely hear there voices. They weren’t yelling at one another, but Lizzie felt it was only a matter of time. First the shouting would come, and then the hitting. Wasn’t that how men always chose to solve things. A bunch of men, always trying to fix problems with their fists and not their head.

She moved to the door, getting ready to go outside when she remembered earlier. This… this was all probably just another trap, trying to lure her out there. She still hurt from the last time they did that, and the time before that. She kept falling for it, when was she ever going to learn not to rush out there?

It was in her nature. If she heard someone in trouble, she… no, that wasn’t right. Jessica was the one who would run out there and fight. What is wrong with her? Lizzie was the mouse, she always hung back. Why did she keep running out in the midst of these things.

Could it be because it was your friends out there, and you don’t want to see them hurt? She supposed that could be a part of it. That didn’t stop it from being stupid.

She let her hand fall away from the back door knob and retreated back to near the kitchen sing. Just because she wasn’t rushing out there, it didn’t mean she still wasn’t concerned for her friends. Most of them were her friends. They were dead, but that didn’t mean she didn’t worry about them.

Lizzie wanted to see what was happening out there, she wanted to know who it was that was fighting, but instead, even going against how much it nagged at her to know, she focused purely on getting herself another glass of water. Maybe the cool water would wash away from of that pulling sensation that was trying to force her to look outside. If it felt just as refreshing as before, maybe then she wouldn’t look out the window, or worse, actually go back to opening the door and taking that step outside.

The water was bitter, almost sour in her mouth and she set it aside, frowning at it for disappointing her. She couldn’t ignore it anymore. There was more noise out there, now voices were shouting. She could hear someone yelling her name. Then to her surprise, someone was yelling Jessica’s name and it was a voice she recognized but knew it shouldn’t be here.

“Dennis?” Lizzie said to herself quietly as she rushed to the back door, this time pulling hard on it, flinging it open so that it slammed against the counter and shaking the glass above. She didn’t pay it any attention, but she did keep a careful eye on the threshold of the door as she reached it, making sure not to cross it.

She didn’t have to go any farther to see him. He was right there. He had been near the barn and was rushing away from it, hurrying to get to the cabin. Roland and Josh were close behind it. They all stopped when they saw her at the door. Roland, those sad eyes of his, looked at her. He already knew the truth of how Dennis was here, but Dennis was oblivious and obviously confused as his wide eyes tried to look at her and everything around him at the same time. They were always moving, looking all over, trying to take everything in at once without missing anything.

“Lizzie, I’m not sure how I got here, but I need to see Jess. She said she was coming to check on you, but then I never heard anything, and- is she hear? I need to see her.”

Lizzie opened out mouth to say something, but just closed it right away, not able to form the words. Already the moisture was forming at the edge of her eyes, though she promised herself she was not going to cry this time. She was not going to let the emotions get the better of her. Why should she. Wasn’t this becoming an every day thing? Of course another one of her best friends was dead. Of course they were there to be with her.

She looked at the large wound at his neck. As he had been speaking the words had whistled out of him, some of the air escaping from where someone had cut his throat. It was jut another one of the many ways that her friends were dying.

Nope. She couldn’t deal with it. She shook her head and closed the door.

“Lizzie!” Dennis yelled, the anger obvious as his voice grew harsh. Well, he can be mad at her. He was going to be out there for awhile, he would eventually get over it. She just wasn’t ready to deal with him yet, and he would have to wait until she was.

For now she had another issue. Jessica. Lizzie had to tell her, but how? This was going to shatter so much of her beliefs. Lizzie knew that her friend felt safe by all of this just due to her own reliance on her god, but Dennis shared those beliefs. His loyalty hadn’t done anything to protect him?

It was going to ruin Jessica.

You could always not tell her?

That was true, but how long would that last? Eventually it would slip out and then what, tell her he had just gotten there? That might work, but Lizzie didn’t trust herself to lie that well. Not only that, but Jessica was risking a lot to be there with her. Jessica deserved to know.

Lizzie just wasn’t sure how she was going to tell her.

She’s going to blame you, you know that right?

“Yeah, well she should. It is my fault. Neither of them should have died. None of them should have. They should all be alive. I should have just killed myself when this whole thing started.”

She thought about that for a moment as she entered into the living room. She wasn’t really looking for anything as she looked around the quiet house. If anything, she was looking but not seeing. She didn’t pay attention to any of the mess that was cluttered around her. She had cleaned up much of it, but there was still so much stuff. Now they took their time as they cleaned, hoping that her uncle had found some clues as to this existence.

I should have killed my brother and then myself. Then this damn curse would have just ended.

Lizzie shuttered at the thought, but couldn’t stop herself. What would have happened if the curse didn’t have anyone in the blood line to continue on? What happened then? Was that the solution? For all this to end, she had to become a murderer like the first cursed? What if she was wrong? Look at where his murder got him? Look at what it done to the rest of his descendants. Killing her brother was not any kind of a solution.

She needed to tell Jessica and the longer she put it off, the more she would think about it. In truth, Lizzie was starting to feel like she had had enough of thinking. Her thoughts were starting to have their own thoughts. She wanted to be be done with it.

Jessica still hadn’t left the bedroom, and Lizzie went to wake her.

“Jess-” Lizzie started as she stepped into the small, dark room. She stopped, her mouth hanging open as she entered, the rest of her friends name caught on her tongue as she stood there. Then something must of snapped and Lizzie found herself on the floor. The tears were already flooding from her and she shook her head, not accepting the truth.

“Jessica. How could you.” Lizzie said to herself as she pulled her knees to her chest and crept into the corner. For now, she wasn’t ready to accept anymore. First Dennis was dead and now… now Jessica…

Dead Friends: Chapter 44

My wife was killed by darkness today. It had been this thing. It wasn’t a man that kilted her, and as I’m sure others will suspect me of her disappearance, it wasn’t me either. I had seen it though, and if I tell them to look at the bottom of the well, I don’t think they will find her body there either.

My wife is gone. No, I’m not sorry the old witch is dead. Hell, if I wasn’t a God fearing Christian then I might have actually done it years ago. Damn that woman could yell, and she was never happy when I moved us out here into the woods. She never understood, and now she never will.

****

I wrote those words years ago in another journal. It had been lost recently. I had burned it as well as the lies they contained.

I did kill my wife. I couldn’t take her anymore, so when she fought with me while pulling water from the well, I pushed her and she fell over the cement blocks. I could hear here screams as she fell into that darkness.

It was after she had fallen that I had seen the evil that lie in waiting in that well. When she fell, it must have awoken as dark appendages emerged and chased after me. It was only when I was out of the shadows of the trees that they stopped and I was able to stand there, out of breath, watching as they struggled to get me.

These cursed things are of the dark place, and as such, these things of evil can not enter the light.

I had stayed there much of that day, watching the well, studying it, seeing what it would do next. As the day wore on, and the shadows stretched, those tentacles reached farther. I feared that eventually, once night came, they could reach the house, and then I too would succumb to the darkness.

I did not sleep in the cabin that night. Instead I went to the closest town with an inn. I stayed there, telling anyone who asked that Margaret and I were quarreling and that I needed a break. Word got back to Kathryn, her sister, and she found me to ask if she needed to go out there and console her sister.

I hadn’t thought yet what story I would tell about Margaret, and had floundered at first when asked. I was never good at lying, or thinking quickly when it came to this. How could I be. Kathryn must have seen my distress, as she took pity on me. She in turn, asked if I was the one who needed consoling.

I consider myself to be a man. I my father never raised me to cry on some woman’s shoulder even if she was kin. Men buried their tears as well as their pain. Showing anything else, then you were being less than a man. That’s how it was, and while I still had no child of my own, that was how it would continue to be.

So, I am ashamed to admit that when her hand touched my shoulder and I looked into her eyes, something broke inside of me and I could not stop myself. The tears came, and I found myself burying my face into her large bosom.

I did not take comfort in her bed that night, though I could feel we both wanted it. I have never cheated on my wedding vows, and even in Margaret’s death, I was not going to put my soul in that immortal damnation. Especially not when I now knew that evil truly did exist.

She left me there, and I was thankful, but filled with longing as I watched her go. I thought she would have been going home. She lived nearby, her with all her animals. She was often taking in strays, and had I gone with her, I would have been just another lost soul living there.

That night though, as I tried to sleep in that uncomfortable plywood board they called a bed, my wife appeared to me. She wasn’t alone. Her sister was with her, and after the initial shock that they found themselves together in my room, they were both curious. It didn’t take me long to realize that they were apparitions and that my soul was already damned. It also meant that Kathryn had traveled out to the cabin to check on her sister after she’d left me there, and she too was now no longer with the living.

As the two of them squabbled, I knew sleep was ever going to be a phantom for if I was to be haunted, these two were going to be a pair to drive me quickly into insanity.

I did fear however, that if they had both been killed by the well, the evil trapped there may not be content with just these two. I might be next. Once I was taken, who then? I have a large family, eventually someone would come visit. My brother would make the trip next year as were celebrated the New Year. What would stop him from falling victim?

As I lied their awake, I thought of a plan. I did not know if it would work, but by the holy ghost, I prayed that it would.

After hours of drifting in and out of consciousness, I finally rose and dressed. Since I hadn’t planned on the day trip to the inn, I was forced to wear my yesterday’s clothes. They were wrinkled and smelled of dirt and fear. I could smell her still on them, but I refused to say as much as she stood there, staring at my from across the room.

It was one thing that I killed her, but to have her now haunt me with those accusing eyes made each breath a tearful painful one. Somehow though, I was able to steel myself and do what needed to be done.

My first stop was to the parish. Father Thomas was an early riser and I knew him to often take a stroll around town, stopping only when he was back at the church. There he kept a table in chairs out front of the building where he would sip his coffee and watching the early morning rise to wake. When he finished his walk, I was waiting, already seated at his table. I stood and greeted him, realizing by his stern look upon seeing me that it had been very rude of me to just be sitting there.

I didn’t tell him everything, but I told him that I felt there was an evil spirit that has come to reside in my home. To my surprise, he was aware of the darkness that lurked in the well. I had not been the first to approach him. It was a blight on the township and the area in general, and everyone knew what was there without saying what was there.

How did they let me buy the place? How did they let me take my young bride there? The answer was simple, though the priest did show some remorse as he said simply that someone had to. Someone had to live there or the evil would spread.

He then explained to me that I am the gatekeeper. I live in this house, and that the house is protected from such evil, It has long ago been blessed by his predecessor, and he has also said his vows there and will to do so again if it would make me feel better. I told him it would.

Feeling encouraged, or it might just be because of knowing that I am not alone, I bought an axe and returned to my cursed home.

See, having my house blessed protected me, but that wasn’t my whole issue. I still had a place of evil in the clearing near the trees. I had fallen victim to it and I now knew I wasn’t the first. The pastor said that there were a number of disappearances in these woods and we both knew where those bodies could be found. The well was a source and it would continue to feed.

I do not know why other options hadn’t occurred to me. I only thought of one solution. It involved an axe, my sweat, and doing something I had not done before and was unsure how to do it. Yet I was somehow able to, and know what piece I would need to craft when I needed to craft it.

It felt like my hands were being guided. I liked to think it was the lord guiding them though the sickness in my gut told me there was darkness at its root. One way or another, by the time it grew cold for winter, I had completed the barn, trapping the cursed well deep within.

By the time it was done, the pastor and two thirds of his congregation were with me as well as the local constable. A few others as well, including a few traveling salesmen. All of them had died while I worked, none of natural means. The constable had been investigating the deaths and questioned me. Next day he had been trampled on by horses to join the legion of the dead that night.

Only a few held ill will against me at first, though it didn’t take Margaret long before she had all of them looking at me with venom. Her vileness blamed me, that it was my evil act of pushing her into the well that started this.

My memory grows hazy of this to know for sure if I pushed her into the well, or if the tentacles reached out and took her. The pastor has tried to come to my defense, but I can see the doubt in what is left of his face. He had died while visiting my home, blessing it. A tree I had been cutting down had fallen awkwardly and with still much of the truck still needing to be chopped.

The new pastor in town refuses to make the trip out to see me, though much of his congregation had come. Many of them are now permanent residents. I don’t know what started when Margaret fell into the well, but it has been spreading and getting more aggressive.

The barn is nearly finished. I hope that it would help protect against the evil getting worse. I was such a fool. What evil have I unleashed upon this world? Oh God, forgive me for what I have done.

Dead Friends: Chapter 43

I have always been a tinkerer. If I had parts to something, I always tried to put them together. Unlike my brother, I always found it better to put things together than to take them a part. When we were kids, I would build up these towers just so that he could come along and smash them, tumbling to the ground. It was just childish games, but I think it always said a lot about me that I liked to create rather than tear things down.

I was always so proud that James went into teaching rather than embracing his destructive routes.

When I first started fixing clocks and stuff, it hadn’t been something planned. I had not expected to find this way of making money that would make living out here in this cabin to be so easy. When I first came here, I had a little bit of money and nothing else. I don’t know what I would have done in that first year had the clock thing just happened.

Maybe its just that I have been here too long, but I am starting to think that the clock restoration thing may not have been such a coincidence. A lot of it had started with when that Englishman started bringing me clocks to fix. I hadn’t thought much of it then, and the money he paid, while I thought was crazy, I had later learned was on par with what people made in that business.

I guess it never occurred to me before that I had no idea what I was doing. I had not done anything like that before, and here I was doing it professionally. Why was I good at doing this. Sure, I was a tinkerer, but I shouldn’t be able to do these things, or know how to fix them. I can look at a clock and just know what is wrong with it. Well, not all clocks, just these old coo-coo ones that people keep bringing me.

But when I started, I had started in this barn. Why had I not paid the darkness any attention then? I never noticed so many things until I found that note. It was like, everything around me was hidden by some dark veil that I was not accustomed to seeing. Now that I know what I should have been looking for, everything seems so obvious.

I was a fool, blinded by my ignorance. For that, my soul will eternally be damned.

I have been here too long, yet I still find new things to occupy my mind and new things to make me think differently about what is happening here. I was a fool, and will always will be.

I have even found something in the wall. Something I think I should have seen earlier. Who knows how long it has been there. The pages in the journal were yellow and nearly fell apart when I pulled it free. What would have happened had I not lost my temper? I never would have known it was there.

But now I know I know my uncle wasn’t been the first. I doubt he even knew much of what had been going on. I vaguely remember the note he left me when I got here. I’d lost it long ago, how many years have I been here? God has abandoned me, as have my memories. Each day is the same as the last and I don’t know if it is morning or night. I’ve died here long ago, my body has yet to catch on.

But I digress. It is easy to do as I write in these damned things, filling these pages, only to clear my mind of thoughts. No one will ever read this shit. Yet, here I am, babbling on again and again.

When masturbation has lost its fun, you’re fucking lonely. Isn’t that how the song goes. I don’t even listen to the radio anymore as it is all garbage today. The same old shit sang five ways that all sound the same. Who the fuck is the president anymore, does it even matter?

See how easy it is to lose your mind?

So I found this journal from the wall. I think it must have been my great grandfather’s or something like that. No, it must have been his brother. Maybe it was my great grandfather. Seems like this curse always moves uncle to nephew. I don’t know if there is a reason for that or just a coincidence.

The clocks. The well. The darkness in the barn. I never thought of how the clocks worked into everything. I don’t now if I ever really know how they do. I can’t give the Englishman his clock back. I do know that much. Not all of it. And that crazy old woman, I need to keep her away from it as well.

Was I wrong about the shadow woman…

I’m not making any sense. Maybe I should get some sleep and start all this again.

****

Let’s start this again, from the beginning. I found something yesterday. I found a journal. It was buried in the wall. I would have never found it had I not, in a fit of rage, throw a chair across the room. I’d stubbed my tow on the damn thing, and had been furious enough to pick up the chair and throw it. Having not seriously exercised in over ten years, I was surprised when the chair landed on the other side of the room, its leg smashing into the wall. I was even more surprised when I pulled it away to see a book nearly falling out behind it.

I’ve been suffering from a lot of depression lately, getting quick to anger. I should never have thrown the chair, but I did. I guess it was a good thing as I read the journal. I’m not sure if I’m happier knowing the history now, of it ignorance had been bliss.

The book is old. There are holes in some of the pages. I am ripping out the pages that tell the story of how things first came to be here and put it in my own journal. I doubt anyone will ever find this, but then, I don’t know if the author of the original journal ever thought that way as well.

“Give me what I want and I’ll go away.” I can’t remember what movie that line is from. I don’t know why that even popped in my head just now. I don’t know why I wrote that down.

The dawn is coming, maybe I should get some sleep.

****

Jessica looked up front the page she was reading to Lizzie who was holding the very brittle, yellowed pages that do look liked they had been wrapped from something. The paper had grown so thin over the years that Jessica could see that there was writing on both side, the ink having stained through.

“Can you read it?” She asked. Lizzie had been staring at it, and after attempting it a couple of times, she nodded back to Jessica.

“So what is it?”

“I don’t know. Do you think?” Lizzie started to ask, but she wasn’t even sure what she was asking. When the book had fell, they both thought it was odd that it had loose pages stuffed into it. Now they were staring at it in awe.

They were both thinking it. Could these pages really hold some kind of answers to what was going on? From the journal it fell out of, it looked like one of the new ones. It may even be the final one.

Did he write that shortly before he killed himself?

“Well, what does it say?” Jessica asked.

Lizzie read it, her mouth going dry as she did, then she handed it over to Jessica. Once they were both finished, they both looked at each other, their jaws dropped, the color having drained from their faces.

“Holy shit.” Jessica finally said. Lizzie just nodded her head, took the pages back from Jessica, and read them again