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

Dead Friends: Chapter 42

Brian sat at the window watching the birds. He was always there, in his room, watching birds. It was his life. What else did he have to do? He was trapped and alone not just in this place but in his own mind. He was a prisoner his own body, constantly screaming to be free.

“Scream as I scream, but no one listens to me.” He would have said to the empty room, but to talk would have meant he would have to have typed it out using the one finger tip that he did have enough control over to use. It would have been typed, not spoken, and then the room would have heard the computer generated voice that was now what he thought of as his own.

How much of him was even presented to the world? How did the world see him, just the crippled in the chair or did any of them ever see what he was in side.

What did they matter, he was an outcast inside and out…

A new bird chirped as it landed close to other and the two caught over some unseen worm. The fight drew him out of his thoughts though he knew it would only be temporary. He had woken up again in a foul mood. He couldn’t place why he had been waking up in such temperaments, but felt the blame had something to do with his dreams lately. He couldn’t remember them, but would wake up shivering and sweating.

“And how is my young athlete doing this morning?” A booming, chipper voice called out behind him. Brian didn’t turn around to look. He couldn’t, not without moving his whole chair, but he also didn’t have to, to know that the voice belonged to Jerome. “We ready to get up and take on the day.”

Jerome wasn’t this insensitive to all the patients he cared for. He was a good guy, and his jokes were often tailored to his audience. Brian could take the joke and most days the barbs would be returned in a jousting match of insults and sarcasm, all good natured. However today wasn’t a good day. Instead there was an anger that was building, that dark feeling that was following him out from his dreams. It made him want to snarl and lash out at the world, and for right now, the world was Jerome.

“You shouldn’t say that,” Came the computer generated voice from the speaker attached to his chair. It was followed by a single tear that ran down his cheek.

Jerome had continued into the room as he had talked and had gone to the sheet next to the bed, writing in some information into the log sheet there. At the sound of the voice box, Brian watched through the reflected glass as the man looked up in shock at the boy sitting in the wheelchair. Jeromes mouth had opened in shock, and Brian could see how much pain now spread on his face.

“Bro, I’m sorry. You know I was just kidding.” Jerome set down the clipboard and walked over to Brian, coming around and lowering himself so he could look into the boy’s eyes. “You know I don’t mean stuff like that right. We just always kid. Something getting you this morning.”

Brian could feel like more tears threatening to stream out of him in a flood of emotions he himself didn’t even understand. He could feel them right below the surface, but not the cause of why they were there. They were bottling up, just like the anger he was feeling. All of it, fighting as to which emotion was going to break free, and at the same time he didn’t want to release any of it. Not now, not in front of Jerome when it had been Jerome’s own words that had brought all of this to the surface.

“What is wrong with you lately” the little voice inside him asked as he looked back at Jerome. No he glared at him, the anger taking the forefront of the storm. He refused to even reply as he just stared into those dark ember eyes that looked at him with compassion.

The moment lingered and doubt creased along Jerome’s face until he stood and backed away. Brian could tell the big guy was thinking, which wouldn’t surprise Brian as Jerome was a pretty smart guy. He was normally fun and geeky, full of comic book knowledge and always up on the latest movies coming out. Not only that but he knew about stuff and was a deep thinker. Jerome had once told him that he was minoring in philosophy in college before he decided to dedicate himself full time to helping people, and sure while much of that could have been bullshit, Brian didn’t think so. He believed him, because Jerome was also very earnest.

So as Jerome stood up and looked outside, at the grass that was covered in fall colored leaves, Brian knew he was deep into his thoughts about something.

“When was the last time your sister came by to see you?” Jerome asked, looking back to Brian. Brian wanted to scoff. He tried too, and he even typed in “ha, ha” into his little keyboard, but all that came out was the digital laugh that sounded eerily creepy.

“That’s what I thought. Don’t seem right. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t know her, she’s not my sister, but sure seems selfish how she stays away. Just doesn’t seem right.” Jerome was again looking out the window and his voice had grown distant as he kept his gaze locked on the trees.

Brian looked in that direction and was struck by the shadows. They were dancing. He could first see how the ones that stretched out from the woods into the grass swayed back and forth and gyrated like people in a seductive rhythm. Bodies of darkness were intertwined, wrapping around one another as though moving to their own song. They were beckoning, reaching out to him, he could see it. He could even feel it inside his chest, burning inside his soul. He felt something inside him shift, and though while knowing it was impossible, he could feel his penis growing stiff.

The shadows pulled him in, and he found himself looking at the trees. Was that a man he saw there? It was far enough away he couldn’t be sure. The man was hidden, but somehow Brian knew that if he did see him, he would still not be able to make out any details.

There were other patients, members of the long term care society just like himself. Many of them would be walking along the paths, escorted by one of the many orderlies. They were out there, mulling around like cows out to pasture. Though as they all walked, everyone avoided the shadows. He even watched as Nelson, a zombie of a person so out of touch on med’s that he never responded to anyone, shocked the orderly he suddenly sidestepped out of the path of a dancing shadow that had stretched towards him.

They all were avoiding them and avoiding the woods. What was out there?

Brian adjust his wheelchair so he could see Jerome who was still looking off to the woods.

“Jay.” The digital voice called out for Brian. “J-man, come on.”

Jerome looked at him, the jolly smile Jerome normally had was spread wider into an unnatural tooth filled grin, and there were so many teeth. Brian was sure there were more teeth than what was right and that there might have been another set of teeth buried deeper within. Jerome’s kind eyes were gone, burned away by a purple flame that burned in his eyes.

Brian’s friend was disappearing before him and something else was replacing him. It wasn’t the thing in the woods, as Brian was convinced that he would never see the things features had the shadow man been in there.

Why are you so sure of that? He didn’t know, he just was. This was something else, and it was wrong to this world.

“Hey B-dawg, what’s wrong.” The thing said, its voice stretched and broken, somehow rattling as it spoke. It was like the voice was formed as wind blowing through broken glass, shaking then shards as sound stretched into words.

It sent a shiver through Brian. He knew he should run, and he did want to get away, but he also knew how pointless that would be. Even now as terrified as he was and shook in terror, none of it was visible as his body trapped him. He had nowhere to go. He was more a prisoner in his own body than he was to the room around him. He had been trapped long before this creature appeared.

“You see me…” the thing spoke, but Brian noted the surprise when it struggled with the words. Each syllable was slow and paused. It reminded Brian of how his older speaker system had been, when the system spoke each word as he typed rather than waiting for him to finish what he had typed. It had made for long stretched out sentences all because the machine kept saying a word, pause, then say another word.

“You see him too.” The creature who had once been Jerome looked towards the trees much as Jerome had before this thing took his body. “It thinks it is master just because it found it first and has been here longer.”

The creature looked back to Brian and Brian knew Jerome was lost. The burning eyes were melting away the skin around the sockets and the mouth that had torn wide to accommodate the new set of growing, sharpening teeth was continuing to bleed. Blood was dripping from its gums and now the lower jaw was red as it spat out when the thing spoke. There was no returning from this.

Brian knew he should be scared, and for the skip of a heart beat, he had been. Then he hadn’t died. The thing was there and it wasn’t attacking him. So the fear slipped to the back of his mind, still there, but lulled as he watch the thing talking to him. Maybe it was part of his condition, or it was because he was used to being trapped within himself and that was worse than whatever this thing could do. It could just be that logic had won out and he realized that if he was alive and this thing was still talking to him, then it needed him. Whatever was the case, he found himself not the terrified mouse looking back at the predator, but as the grizzled vet, staring at the end of his life.

It knelt down close and Brian could smell the blood on its breath as it spoke.

“It does not control me. It wants you.” Blood spattering Brian’s face as it spoke. “It wants you to its collection. Some think it be a trickster, but I’ve known it too long. It be a collector. It wants you for its collection.” Brian felt the chill from the thing’s eyes and wished he could turn his face away. He couldn’t. He was locked in and his eyes were fixed on staring into the cold flames.

How could cold burn into him? He wasn’t sure, but he felt it. There was no getting away from what he felt. As much as he wanted to, there was no escape.

“I’m not going to kill you. If I kill you, then you become a part of it’s collection.” It said as it backed away from Brian. Brian tried to take in a quick gasp of air in relief, but found that his body was fighting him. Instead, his breathing was still quick, struggling to keep up with his racing heart. He was more terrified than he realized, but it was all alien to him. His body reacted, but his mind felt detached. Like it could watch this thing as it moved and transformed, while still being able to study it and think rationally. The thing had just told him it was there to kill him. Then why was it there?

“What then? If you are not going to kill me?” Brian asked. He did. It took him a couple seconds to comprehend it, but he had said the words, not the speaker. He had not taken the time to type the message out, but instead had just blurted it out. Something he hadn’t been able to do for over three years, but yet the words had come to him, and they had left his own lips.

He felt the tear as it stung his cheek, and knew there would be a tidal wave behind it. He had spoke. That was a miracle, and one he had given up on long ago. He had moved more than just a few muscles. If he could do that, then what else could he do?

The thing was looking back at him, and that wide, tooth filled smile stretched wider, tearing more skin.

“I want you to get something for me.”

“I can’t.”

“You can. What would you do to have your body back? Would you kill?”

Brian shook his head ‘no,’ before he realized he was doing it. Then his eyes opened wide in disbelief and suddenly he wasn’t so sure he wouldn’t kill to have his body back.

“You would. I can see the doubt. You think you wouldn’t, but you would.”

“No.” Something about hearing his own thoughts come from the thing’s mouth gave Brian a new found resolve. Having his body back would be great, but he realized he would never be able to live with himself if it meant taking another’s life.

The thing just nodded and went back to walking around the room. Brian hadn’t noticed before, but even when it had been close to the window, it still moved to stay away from any direct source of light. It always moved around them, working to stay in the shadows, even if the shadows were faint in the well lit room.

It went to the door and closed it.

“No? Well, we’ll see, but I don’t need you to kill. I just need you to get some things. Things that it can’t get. Things that we want. Things that we need. Things that a few people have…including your sister.”

Dead Friends: Chapter 29

Since then, I’ve seen the shadow woman, and she has come to torment me. Cynthia tries to stop her, but the shadow woman just laughs and chants her little chant at me. She has repeated it over and over, that stupid, tic-a-tac, tic-a-tor, soon there will be more more more. tic-a-toc, tic-a-turs, I will break her from her curse.

I don’t know what I’m doing, why I’m even here. I came back to this cabin because Cynthia.. I love her so much and she has always been the everything in my day, my thoughts have always been how to take care of her and keep her safe. She has meant so much to me, but seeing her walking corpse has sent daggers into my heart and I don’t know how to deal with it. Everywhere I went to grieve, she was there and there would be fresh tears as I died a little each time.

How could I return to work? I tried to go back to the foundry and just couldn’t do it. Whenever I pulled back from a weld or crafting a special piece, there she would be standing next to me. She would be watching me, those dead, sad eyes. Her mouth would be working, she would be trying to say something to me but I could never hear her.

After a day of it, I collapsed. That second day, I looked over and saw her reaching out to me and I swore I could see a tear in her eye as her hands went right through me. I felt her touch, and it made me sick in a way I can not describe. When she saw me gasping, she pulled back, recoiling from me, and I felt like a cold hand had just reached into my chest and ripped out my heart and soul.

I fell to the the cement floor and that cold stone felt hot to my skin. I hadn’t thought that stone could burn. The coworkers who gathered around me, later said that I was convulsing, having some kind of attack. All I knew was that I had saw my beloved reaching out and I couldn’t do anything.

It had been a strange attack and Cynthia never tried to touch me again after it. Later that day my boss had called me into his office and told me he was putting me on leave. He knew I was upset and that I needed time to grieve. Jim and I had gone to high school together. We had never been close, but knew one another enough that he had been at my wedding. He knew I was having a hard time, just he didn’t know all of it. I didn’t know all of it.

But then I had gotten up to leave his office. I thought I was done. I was going to go home and that would be it. It was really, but as he came around the desk to usher me out the door, I saw his eyes. There was a red ring, not the kind of a long nights drink. No, this was about his pupil.

I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t have time. He walked me to his office door, and then out into the shop. Then there was a loud crash. Metal broke, and I could feel something shifting around me. The air had changed, I can’t explain it, but there was some kind of electricity gathering. Then I saw one of the machines, the large ones that the finished metal went into to cool, it exploded and I watched as a metal shard slammed into Jim’s head. Other men around us were screaming as I watched death again take someone I knew.

I can’t remember much else from that day. I don’t know how I got home, who helped me, or if I somehow drove myself. It is all a blur and when I do try to remember I don’t trust if the memories I see are real or just things I want to imagine. With what has happened since then, I want to say that it did happen, as it was when I lied there on the ground, alive but looking into the dead eyes of my former boss, I heard Cynthia, and heard her tell me it would be okay.

God help me, but I must be losing my mind.

Their all here. They all with me now, outside the cabin, unable to come in. Thirteen people died that day, and I had known and grown up with many of them. Now they are dead, but not dead, outside this very cabin.

Oh God, I don’t know what to do.

* * * *

The leather bound book crashed to the floor and Lizzie, who had drifted off, jumped awake. She hadn’t realized she had been that tired but only a few pages into the diary, or maybe it had been just sitting down to read it had brought the exhaustion washing over her.

She hadn’t thought she could ever feel so tired. Even after studying for finals and had been up for a twenty four hour study bing, there had been some kind of a second wind that had allowed her to go take the test. This wasn’t like that, or maybe it was. Maybe she had already had the second and even third or fourth winds and it was all catching up to her.

When was the last time she ate? Anytime after the diner? She remembered stopping off for gas and caffeine drinks, but anything after that was a blur. Hell, she hadn’t had any time for sleep, when would she have had time to eat. Scratch that and reverse it, she hadn’t had any time to eat, how would she have ever had any time to sleep.

Her thoughts, it hurt to think, or even to attempt it. Lifting her head and then herself was a challenge she didn’t think she could handle.

Well then, what do you think your going to do? It’s not like they have delivery out here. But didn’t they? She thought her uncle’s note had said something about grocery delivery. In fact she was sure of it. Would they deliver this late though? It was mid-afternoon already, she would probably have to call in the delivery for tomorrow and how would she pay for it? She didn’t have cash with her, at least she didn’t think she did. Maybe she’d gone to an ATM that morning.

She stood, and felt her legs become rubber under her. She had to reach out and steady herself with the arm of the chair, and even then swayed as she tried to think of what her food options could be. Maybe there would be something in the kitchen? Her uncle had been living out there getting deliveries, maybe when he died there had been a full stock. Though if he killed himself, he might have been letting it all dwindle when he went.

What was that final straw that had pushed him to do it? He had lived out there for so long, losing his wife, his brother and all those closest to him that he had to have been through it all long ago. Why now?

She couldn’t imagine what it could have been, and wasn’t sure she wanted too. It was her fate now…

As she took each step, she kept her hands on or near something wether it be a stack of books or the wall. Her head wasn’t letting up and with each movement a growing pounded echoed through her head like a drummer warming up for a metal concert. The closer she got to the kitchen, the more she was sure the drummer was preparing for a long drum solo as the beating grew stronger. Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick formed in her thoughts and she could imagine the pain in time to it.

Damn you dad for making me ‘get the Led out every damned car ride, she thought as she entered into the kitchen. In sight and sending a wave of relief through her that was short lived, she saw the two bags she had brought from the store.

“Oh God yes,” she cried out and grabbed for the bags. The cell phone was useless for now and she set they aside as she scoured through the rest of it. Of course it was mainly chips, Mountain Dew, and some cans of soup that did not look all that appealing, but at the bottom of the second bag she found what she was looking for. It wasn’t a big container, just a small pouch of generic aspirin which had cost her more at the gas station convenience store than a large bottle at any chain grocery.

She was hungry, thirsty, and needed caffeine, but right then the headache that was screaming it’s presence through all her synapses took priority. She opened the pouch, grabbed the couple of pills and then hurriedly opened the Mountain Dew to wash it down. There was an instant release and she no way of knowing if it was any of the three or all three but she was already feeling better.

She stood there holding the counter occasionally taking drinks from the soda. If she moved, she was sure she would fall. Though eventually she did look at the cans of soup. They were pop tops which was good. She wasn’t sure if she had a can opener or not.

I guess now is as good as a time or any, she thought as she looked across the cabinets and the rest of the kitchen.

The Dew was helping a lot. Her head cleared though not as much as she wanted it too. She remembered that she had gotten some money out of the ATM that morning and that she would be fine in that regard. She wasn’t sure if her uncle’s phone worked, though she saw the old landline phone hanging on the wall like some relic from the 80’s. She worried she would actually have to look up the number for the grocery store but now noticed the sticky note on the wall with various numbers. She was sure one of them would be the one she needed.

You can do this. You really can, she thought as she went around the counter and opened the drawer to the right of the sink. Sure enough, there was silverware, clean and ready to use. There wasn’t much, a couple of spoons, a fork, and two knives, one a butter knife and the other a serrated steak knife, but it would do. She was one person after all, it wasn’t like she would need to feed an army, or the dead that clung outside her door.

Could she do it? Was she really going to live out the rest of her life in the cabin, hiding, keeping away from the world? What other choices did she have? As she looked around the tight confines of the cabin, she didn’t see anything that inspired some great idea. If she went out and made or interacted with her friends they would die? This was all a nightmare.

She opened one of the cans labeled Chicken and Rice. She ate it as she opened cabinets around the room, She was stocked better than she would have thought while again surprised at how clean the room was. She also found the garbage can in a drawer and smiled as she threw away the lid she had been holding.

At least I’m not going to starve.

Not right away. She realized that she still didn’t have much in the way of perishables and while she had plenty of Mountain Dew, she still needed water as she had no way of knowing if the water there was safe to drink.

She started making a list of what she would need. Midway through, she looked up and off into the dining room.

Was it two weeks ago now, that she had walked though that door to see that naked smiling man holding her best friend and biting out chunks of her flesh? She thought that sounded right. She should be much more of an emotional wreck after everything that has happened, yet she found herself constantly adapting. Like all of this was strengthening her. She hadn’t coped well, but now so much of this rolled right off of her. Was she becoming stronger emotionally, or heartless? Either that or she truly was losing her mind.

Maybe she had never cared as much about the world as she thought she had. What does that say about her? Her ex boyfriend died last night, killed right in front of her, and here she was making up shopping lists like nothing had ever happened.

Maybe that was a good thing. If all this had been too much she would have already cracked, killed herself and now all of this would have fallen on her brother. Plus, with how this shadow thing wants to take those she cared about, it would be better if she cared less. If she didn’t care for anyone, than no one else had to die.

So yes, this cabin was her new home, and she would never be able to leave it or venture out and meet new people. Just by saying hi, it could mean that someone else would then die.

She finished the soup, tossing the can in the garbage and the spoon in the sink. It was time she lied down. Sleep was overdue and it wasn’t like the house couldn’t be cleaned later. What’s the rush, it wasn’t like she was ever going anywhere. All she had to do was sleep and sleep and sleep.

Dead Friends: Chapter 41

Chapter 41

I am so damned tired of this curse. So God Damned, mother fucking tired of it. It is unrelenting and I know no longer know where reality ends and my life begins because I no longer feel like I’m a part of what is real. Everything is lost to me. The dead are all around me but even my wife has lost her patience in continuing on this way.

I struggle to find reasons of some damned way to stopp this madness. I had cable installed and now the cable man is dead and joined the masses outside. He was a husband and a father of two kids whom he’ll never see again. Then there is the one who installed internet. Things that I wanted to try and keep me from slipping further into the depths of despair and guess what… now he’s dead too. He was a kid, working at the cable company during the summer. His boss was his father who now mourns a son. Ben is his name, or was, and is, who the hell knows, but now his life is over. He wanted to go into business, he will never get that chance. It was all taken away from him because he got too close to me.

And what defines closeness. Sometimes it feels like the shadow woman will take anyone who is just close to me, other times they are at a distance but yet I knew them and had spoken to them recently. The rules to this crazy game are always changing and I was never told how to play.

It’s trying just to make me crazy. I swear it feeds off my misery just as much as the dead around me. It wants me insane. Sometimes I think I already am. What sane man would live alone out in the woods talking to the dead?

And now I’ve had these strange dreams. A woman, I keep showing up in her apartment. I tell her to get away from me, she isn’t safe, but she knows the shadow thing. She says she has something for me and that it’ll help me.

Nothing is going to help me.

If it wasn’t for this curse I’d kill myself but it is because of the curse that I want to die. If I die, who’ll inherit I’m them? Tommy? One of his kids? How do I do that to them?

****

Jessica put down the journal. Tears were streaming down her cheek and she tried to wipe them away, but there were too many. She gave up and reached for the tissues nearby. Already there were spots of moisture on the page she had been reading were tears had fallen.

She sniffed more time before blowing her nose, then looked across the room at Lizzie who was still reading.

“How many years did your uncle live like this?”

“I don’t know. 15 years or so” Lizzie didn’t look up right away, but when she did Jessica could see the streaks of moisture streaking the dirt on her face. Neither of them had showered after the attack, they hadn’t wanted to be away from one another. Instead, they had started reading, looking for answer to what that was outside.

That had been how long ago? Neither of them were sure as time slipped by them in the cabin. One hour could feel like seconds, but Jessica knew it had to be more like five hours of her time had been lost. She could see the orange glow from the kitchen as the sun made its lumbering journey below the trees. The light in the dining room was on, Lizzie must have flipped the switch while Jessica’s nose had been in the handwritten pages, and now the light grew stronger as the radiance outside faded.

Night was falling, and Jessica feared what that might bring. This thing was stronger in darkness and it nearly killed them earlier. What would happen now?

“Have the lights ever gone out in here?” Jessica said. She couldn’t help but look between the different light bulbs that were already casting their illumination throughout the room.

“Not that I’ve seen. I don’t know.”

“You got spares right?” Was that one in the living flickering? She couldn’t tell. It could just be her imagination, but she swore it was dimmer than a few seconds ago.

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Well, what if the lights went out. Then couldn’t it get in?”

“I don’t think it works that way.”

“But how do you know for sure?”

“Well for starters, I don’t make a habit of sleeping with the lights on.”

“You don’t?”

“No. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’ve never gotten the sense that it was light keeping it out. There’s something else about this cabin.”

“Has he mentioned it in any of these?” Jessica asked as she held up one of the new journals. Her uncle had upgraded his writing books in the newer ones and this one looked like was made out of faux leather.

“Maybe. There are so many of them and much of it is just him talking about long trips in the woods talking to his wife who had been the first one killed by the curse.”

“I wonder what happened to his dead. You would think that they would still be here torturing you. I mean-” Jessica has stopped falling and Lizzie looked over to her friend. It was almost like she could see the wheels turning as Jessica looked at the table and then as though she was scanning it for something. Lizzie didn’t think she was though. Her eyes were moving quickly as she was running through whatever had occurred to her, but Lizzie didn’t think she actually saw the table. She was lost to her own thoughts.

Lizzie has known Jessica a long time and while some would assume that with her bubbly mature and long blond hair, that there wasn’t much going on upstairs. The more you knew her, you’d learn that she was a very aggressive person who was one hell of a fighter. If you knew her long enough, you’d learn the airhead was mostly an act, and that she was smart. It wasn’t book smart, Jessica was not one who enjoyed being sitting down for long periods of time, but she could figure her way out of things pretty well.

“How could your uncle walk through the woods?”

“What do you mean?”

“You just said he was always taking long walks with his wife. How? You walk outside and your getting attacked. First by Sarah, who I couldn’t see, and then by possessed birds killing themselves to kill us. Why was none of this happening to your uncle?”

Lizzie wasn’t sure. She looked at the books around her and then back towards the door which they had slammed shut after being chased inside. There was a chair leaning against it now and a pile of books in front of them. On a conscious level, Lizzie knew no one was getting in that door, but that didn’t stop her from letting her friend block them in. It made her feel safer too, but now as she looked at it, she realized her friend was right. Why was it being more aggressive for her.

“I don’t know.”

“Something’s changed, but what?”

“Maybe because I’m a woman?”

“You really think the things gone all crazy because you’re a woman?”

“No, but it’s the only thing I can think of.”

“There’s got to be something else.”

“Why? I mean, it doesn’t play by any rules I can follow. The voodoo woman told me it was a trickster, playing by one set of rules only to change them on you later. I don’t know, maybe it’s jealous. It went after you-know-who with a vengeance.”

“No, I can’t believe it. This is the 21st century.”

“And we’re dealing with an ancient being. Maybe some kind of sexism worked its way in through the years.”

“Well that’s bullshit.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s bullshit!” Jessica yelled again, this time projecting her voice loud towards the ceiling. Lizzie thought she could be imagining it, but she swore she heard laughter from outside.

“It was my uncle before me and his uncle before him. My uncle always referred to it as a shadow woman, but I always see a shadow man. There’s definitely some kind of kind of game going on with the gender, but I don’t believe that that alone is why it is being more aggressive with me.”

Jessica looked at Lizzie for a minute, then the door and now back to Lizzie. It was like she was studying her, having some kind of internal debate in her head. Lizzie was getting frustrated as the music had paused, the quiet was getting loud around them, and that gaze was getting unsettling. She was just about to scream at her friend, heading to interrupt the stillness when Jessica took in a large breath.

“Sarah.”

“O-kay.” Lizzie said, stretching out the word with her confusion apparent on her face with a cocked eyebrow.

“It played the male for you, but now you said it yourself, that it’s using Sarah to get to you. You said there was no way that was Sarah right? That Sarah must not be out there like the others. It is using her to try and get to you because you showed no interest in the guy version.”

“I still don’t think it’s about gender.”

“Liz, I don’t care how old this thing is, but everything is about sex.”

“I doubt an evil curse, or thing, or darkness from beyond time is after me because it wants sex.”

“I don’t know. If I’ve been around for a few centuries, I’d be horny.”

Lizzie rolled her eyes and tossed one of the diaries at Jessica. It felt good to giggle at her best friends. It was almost like a weight had lifted slightly from her chest and she was able to breathe a little easier. Some of the weariness she hadn’t realized had been bogging her down, slipped away. She actually laughed as Jess swatted the book away.

It fell to the floor. It was one of the older ones and the binding had already been loose. The pages ripped from the glue and spilled out across the room. One of them floated to the center of the threshold between the living room and dining room and rested there.

Lizzie looked at the page, and her laughter stopped.

Dead Friends: Chapter 40

“Jessica! Jessica wake up!” Lizzie yelled and her voice burned in her own throat as she tried to scream harder than she had ever screamed before. She was not about to watch another one of her friends die. No matter what she had to do.

She tried to reach out again to pull herself along the ground, but her injured hand refused to work. She was forced to bring it back to herself, tears falling as she worked to ignore the pain. Each time anything shifted around her hand, new stabs of pain made it hard, but she bit down on it, biting into her own lip until she tasted copper.

“Jessica, please. God wake her up. Please God!” Lizzie called. She was not a religious person. Jessica was the one who never missed a week of church. Lizzie hoped that maybe that loyalty would reward her. At least, Lizzie prayed for Jessica’s sake. “Please!”

Lizzie heard laughter behind her, and knew that it was mocking her. Overhead, the large black birds were crying out, squawking as they reached the apex of their flight. Lizzie didn’t have to look up to see that they were coming back now, formed in they’re final formation.

“Please Lord help us.” Lizzie muttered under her breath as she shifted on her place on the ground. She didn’t try to pull herself along the ground anymore. The cobwebs had cleared, and she was able to think so maybe she could run. She had to try.

She rocked back and forth once and gave herself momentum, using that and the shifting of her weight to propel herself forward. She caught herself by putting one leg quickly forward and then she did it! She was on her feet nearly straight into a run.

Her legs were still a little unsteady, but she was nowhere near the mess she’d been minutes ago. In fact, she wasn’t even sure how she was standing as she could feel her knees buckle, yet she never fell. It was almost like there was a hand holding her, keeping her up.

It had to be her imagination, and she didn’t have time to dwell on it as she rushed as fast as she could to Jessica. The birds shrieking above grew louder as they neared.

She heard a moan as she neared Jessica, then saw her leg move. Maybe she would make it in time, she thought as she neared and Jessica shakily looked up at her.

Lizzie paused when she saw the dullness to the eyes as they looked back her. Her stomach tightened. Something about them made her think that Jessica was already dead. It wasn’t like the others, as this death looked like that of l, well, of a zombie if she had to put words to it.

“Something dark is coming, and your shadow man wants to control it.” A voice spoke inside her head. She didn’t recognize it, but somehow she trusted it. She felt a warmth wash over her and much of the pain she had felt, lifted. Her hand was no longer numb and her feet somehow felt light as she could feel herself running faster. “Trust.”

“Tic-a-too, tic-a-tee, what was one will be three.” The shadow voice screamed from behind her. Lizzie ignored it as she reached Jessica, and Jessica came to life the moment Lizzie touched her. It was like an electric shock went through them both. Jessica shook her head and then looked to her. That look was gone, and her determined friend looked at Lizzie with that raw hunger of needing to survive.

“We have to run now!” Lizzie said as she pulled at Jessica to stand. Jessica was already working to her feet, so she worked into Lizzie’s grip just as the first wave of birds hit the ground around them.

The shadow thing growled in frustration as none of the birds came close to touching them. Each bird crashed into the ground, their bodies breaking on impact leaving the corpses to surround them as they ran the few yards to the door.

“Come on!” Lizzie scream. She was dragging Jessica or Jessica was dragging her. It was hard to tell as they clutched one another, pulling each other forward. Lizzie wasn’t sure how they weren’t tripping over each other. It was almost like some force was guiding them. Jessica’s skin was feeling warm to the touch and it felt like they both had begun to glow, the light tossing off the shadows that formed around them.

“We can make it!” Jessica screamed! “Help us Lord, we can make it!”

“No!” They heard a mangled cry behind them. It was a voice like they had never heard before. Part of it was Sarah’s voice but it was mangled with other voices, all of them coalescing into this one sound that it was hard to hear the words. They just heard the screams, and then the impact of more birds, none of which were even close to where they were.

They were so close to the door. It didn’t take them long. Behind them, they could feel the change in air flow as the birds were crashing down all around them, but none of them made it to them.

“Up the stairs!” Lizzie yelled to her friend, and hoped she had enough strength to make it up them. If not, she would have to shove her friend and hope she fell forward enough that Lizzie could drag her through the open door. Oh God, she hoped the door was still open.

A sinking filling flooded her stomach. She couldn’t tell if the door was open or not. What if Jessica had closed it. What if the wind had blown it closed? A thousand more what ifs tried to rush at her like the birds crashing around them, and she had to push them away. She could see them getting up the stairs just to have the door closed in front of them. It wouldn’t open no matter how hard she tried, and as she fought with the door. They would be stranded out there, and there would be no stopping the murder of crows as they flew down in an effort to due their namesake.

“Trust.” She heard that voice again, and it was like a whisper in her ear opposite to the side of Jessica. She thought she could now recognize the voice. She just just couldn’t place it. It was right their at the tip of some knowledge, like a word stuck just out of reach, it was on the tip of her tongue. She knew it, but also knew that right then she didn’t have the time to focus on who that voice belonged. She had to get into the house, and get to where it was safe.

They came to the first step, and to Lizzie’s surprise, it was Jessica who was pulling her up the rickety wooden stairs. Their protests from two people on them at the same time, loud, screaming to be heard over the calls of the birds crashing down.

“Come on, we’re almost there.” Jessica yelled down to her as she was pulling Lizzie up them. Lizzie wanted to yell at her, telling her she could get up them herself. She thought she could at least, but Jessica tugging at her was pulling her off balance and she wasn’t sure she could make it. She made it up the first step, but then tripped over the second that had her leaning heaving into Jessica for the third.

Inside the front shelter around the stairs, there was a thunderous explosion of sound, followed by three more in rapid succession. It echoed around them and pushed painfully in on their ears. They could actually feel the noise as it shook everything, rocketing through themselves as they had been rushing up the stairs.

Both of them stopped, and it only took them a second to identify the large dents in the roof of the shelter and realize that the birds were now aimed at the metal around them. First the four birds, then more started striking down into the metal. After six more hit, finally a little hole appeared where one of the birds beaks must have hit hard enough and in a weak enough spot that it broke through.

It felt like they had shotguns going off all around them, as they could feel the shock waves reverberate through them. The sound from the strikes kept rocketing through them. Lizzie thought her ear drums were going to burst and both of them stopped on the platform before the front door covering their ears as they began to bleed. More holes appeared. Dents were forming all around them. Lizzie had no clue how much longer the structure would hold, but the pain that was drumming through her head made it hard for her to concentrate on looking to see if it was open. Her eyes were closed, and she knew Jessica was the same as neither of them moved.

“It’s open. You can do it. Trust. Go through the door. Trust. You can do this. Just step through the door, and the pain will go away.”

Lizzie wasn’t sure how she could hear the voice over the noise. It still felt like a whisper in her ear, but hearing it relaxed her. She could feel the tension ease, and the cacophony around her dulled to the point that she could see that the door was open. They were right there. All they had to do was take the step, and both of them would be inside. Jessica had her hands away from her ears, and was looking at it too before looking back at Lizzie, a relieved smile breaking through the fear.

Jessica stepped across the threshold first, quickly followed by Lizzie. As soon as they were in, the noise outside faded. The drumming of the birds on the metal stopped and in mass, they heard thumps of what Lizzie guessed was the rest of the birds dropping to the ground. She didn’t need to look out the window. She knew that the rest of the birds would be dead. She would…, no, it would have killed them and let them drop as he no longer needed them.

****

They had both just stood there inside the door and were unsure how long they had been there. They had ran into the house both breathing hard, and once they were inside, didn’t want to move. Lizzie thought they were both afraid too. After the birds had died, there was an eerie quiet that had decended only interrupted by the sound of the refridgerator in the other room clicking on and off.

Lizzie never took her eyes off the door. She was sure that once she did, something, maybe even more birds that had somehow survived, would rush at them through the door. At once point, Lizzie thougth she had seen a wave of small spiders rushing in across the floor. She had been too tired to panic, and somehow, it hadn’t scared her to see them. She blinked her eyes, and they were gone. No, not gone, just not there at her cabin. The spiders were loose elsewhere in the world, yet somehow she was close to the darkness that was a part of them.

She shook her head. Way too many cob webs were spreading through her mind, and too many weird thoughts.

“You okay? How’s your hand?”

Lizzie looked over and saw that Jessica was trying to look at her hand. Lizzie remembered how much pain had been going through her when they had been trying escape the outside, remembered that she thought it had been crushed when the bird had slammed down on it. Yet, since she had started hearing that voice, the pain had faded.

She looked at it now, and didn’t see anything wrong. There were scratches on the back of it, obvious that the bird had crashed into it, but it didn’t look broken. She remembered the pain, remembered looking at it before, it had been a wreck. Some of her fingers had been at the wrong angles and she had been sure she would never be able to use her hand again.

She flexed it slowly. Everything worked. All her finds closed and she could form a fist. It was sore, but the hand worked.

Her jaw as opened as she lifted her eyes from the fist in front of her to Jessica who was standing next to her. Jessica wasn’t watching her, she was watching the door and Lizzie turned to see why.

It was there. It still held the shape of Sarah, but there was a darkness around it now. Somehow, Lizzie knew that even if this thing stood in the direct sunlight, those shadows would still cross its face. That darkness was something the sun could never push away. It was older in the sun. Lizzie knew that, and if made her stomach clench as she stared it down. Her knees were weak, but she was not about to give in to the fear that tried to weigh her down.

The thing was obviously furious with them as it took turns glaring at them. It stood just on the platform outside of the front door, not daring to attempt to cross into the house. Whatever protected them remained strong, but that didn’t stop it from standing there seething at them.

Finally it spoke, and Lizzie wished it would have remained silent as that voice was like nails on a chalkboard. It screeched with the voice of a thousand voices, all speaking at once and forming the words. Were they all the voices of the dead? Who knew how long the thing had been killing, how many generations had fallen victim to the curse, but now they all spoke.

“Tic-a-too, tic-a-tee, you are now trapped with thee.” it said. It was staring straight at Jessica, and Lizzie felt her heart sink. Lizzie hoped she was wrong by what that would mean, but knew she was right. Jessica would never be able to leave now. She was cursed just as Lizzie was.

It smiled at her, those orange eyes of fire burning suddenly through Sarah’s own as it drilled that look into her. Then it was gone, but the after image of those eyes were burned into her vision even after she tried to blink them away.

They both stood there in silence as they continued to watch the door, afraid that if they took their eyes off of it, something new and hideous would come for them at any minute. Finally, Jessica did move. She walked across the room and slammed the door close.

“Let’s killed that damned thing.” Jessica said as she went into the dining room and grabbed one of the journals Lizzie had piled in there.