Dead Friends: Chapter 31

Lizzie should have known better. She shouldn’t have rushed outside, not even if she heard screaming. The night was cold, fall making its sharp descent into winter temperatures early this year and she hadn’t stopped to fully prepare for it. She wished being more prepared for the chill had been her only mistake. 

Time would tell how costly it had been if it ever got the chance. Now she was trapped out in the dark woods, surrounded by many she had once thought of as friends. They were all dead now, and their piercing eyes were all the yelling she needed to know that the hatred hadn’t subsided in the week following their abolishment to hell and subsequent release. 

Though there was one set of eyes that didn’t share the hate. Roland, who had joined them nearly a week ago, had not spent the time in hell, and still looked at her as though he cared. He was but one, in the many that still did hate, and she knew that as much as he wanted to help her, he would be powerless. Already as the rest of them circled her, Josh was holding Roland back, his head locked in a massive head lock as Josh’s large beefy arms held him secure. Roland struggled to break free, but he could barely match a portion of the larger man’s strength.

If the other’s, her dead friends, could spit on her, she knew that they would. They had tricked her into coming out there. During the day time, it probably wouldn’t have worked. She was surprised it had at night. That had been some dream, and when she had woken already thrashing as the fight from the dream crossed over into her struggle with the blankets in reality, she had already been in fight mode. Her heart had already been racing and she hadn’t been thinking. She only knew that something had been wrong and she was ready to strike back.

The scream had been a catalyst. It had also been bait. How had they known she would fall for it? Lizzie could see on Sarah’s face that she was mocking her for it, the sneer showing the contempt the woman held for her. That long ago friendship they had was lost. 

Sarah had been her best friend. They had been besties since they were both eight and running around their neighborhood, teasing the boy’s that were trying to give them cooties. Now if Lizzie was lying dead on a the ground, and if Sarah was alive, she wouldn’t do anything but spit on her body.

What were they going to do with her? Lizzie had already seen that they could hurt her. They had done that at the coffee shop and she had been terrified of that moment happening again. Since she’d come to the cabin, she had been staying in the confined space, not even leaving to get groceries. She had yet to call in for a delivery though if she survived this, she knew she would have to come morning. She had eaten the last can of soup for supper and was thankful as she didn’t think she could eat another can of chicken and rice soup. There was only so much Campbell’s soup a woman could take.

This was why she was afraid of ordering. If not her, she was afraid her friends would attack the delivery driver and hurt him. She had never seen them attack anyone else and wasn’t sure if they could. She wasn’t about to put someone else in that danger if she didn’t have to. She also knew that she couldn’t take that chance.

“Why?” Lizzie finally broke down and asked as they circled around her.

Sarah chuckled.

“Poor little rich girl.” Sarah said.

“I’m not-“ Lizzie started, but she was stopped by a shove from behind and that grew sick with that sense of wrongness she felt whenever one of them would touch her.

“You’re not? Really? I know how much he left you.”

“You know what he really left me.”

“You don’t know that!” Lizzie was turning with them, keeping her eyes locked on Sarah though she knew that kept Chuck to her back. He had to have been the one to have shoved her as Elisabeth was always just to her right.

“You killed us.” Chuck said, and she barely had time to turn around before she felt the blow and seen the fist he swung. It hit her chin, but didn’t feel so much like a hand that smashed into her, but some kind of unseen force. She couldn’t really explain how it was different, but it still hurt, sending her to fall on her butt.

Lizzie had never been hit by a man before. She’d gotten into a few tussles with other woman, usually for ignorant crap like someone accusing her of stealing they’re boyfriends. It was dumb, and she never understood it. After all, had they really looked at her? She was never going to be the stealing boyfriend kind of girl, not when they could have someone like Sarah. Still, it did happen, and as Lizzie wasn’t one to fight back, had usually always ended up being the one on her backside, fighting off blows.

A man had never hit her. That was abuse. A man to touch her was something that just didn’t happen. That was for women who allowed themselves to be pulled into bad relationships and stayed with the wrong men. Woman like her, the ones who avoided those men, shouldn’t ever be hit by a man. It wasn’t right.

Her face still stung from where she had felt the blow, and her butt was cold from the wet earth beneath her.

“So you can be hurt. I thought you-“ Chuck looked behind Lizzie at Sarah. He was watching her as she walked around Lizzie to him. “said she couldn’t be touched.”

I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to- fuck no I’m not going to cry. I’ve been through too much shit, and have put myself in harms way not sending them back to that hell.

Sarah glared at her as she walked around into view. She had a smirk that Lizzie didn’t recognize. It was like the friend she had grown up with wasn’t there. Who was this woman who strode around her, able to plan and execute a deviousness Lizzie couldn’t fathom?

“It seems things have changed.”

“Sarah, you all don’t have to do this. I’m trying to find a solution.”

“We don’t need you to find a solution.” Sarah said. Lizzie felt that sickening feeling and knew that one of them had grown close behind her. She guess it was Elisabeth who was keeping very quiet. 

“No, we’ve got that figured out,” Chuck said. He nodded to Sarah. “At least your friend did.”

“We don’t need to figure it out because all we have to do is kill you. Isn’t that right?” Sarah said and Lizzie felt as some force slammed into her back between the shoulder blades. 

Lizzie called out in pain as she was pitched forward by the blow. She started gasping and realized that she’d been hit from behind, but whoever hit her hadn’t released her. They must have landed on top of her and that sickening feeling in her stomach had gotten worse, spreading to her chest.

“How.. would… I know.” She panted, struggling for breath.

“When I first came back, I couldn’t even move a coffee mug. Not by myself. You remember that. We tried, just like the friends we had always been, we tried to do things together.”

Lizzie didn’t like the tooth filled smile Sarah was giving her and their was a wildness to her eyes. They were opened wide, and Lizzie was sure her friend had lost her mind. She was moving towards Lizzie, as she struggled to pull herself back. It was hard, but Lizzie could push against the force that was trying to keep her there.

“You’re not getting away from me.” Sarah took another step towards her.

“Lizzie. You have to get inside. Trust me, get back inside.” Roland was struggling to get away from Josh, but Josh was a big man and it was like a grizzly bear taking on a wolf. Wolves can do well in a pack, but by himself, he was over matched. There was nothing he could do for her, she was on her own.

And she wasn’t about to let them hurt her. She had to fight them.

Lizzie laughed. It was hard at first and initially sounded more like a wheeze that barely escaped from her lungs. The force behind her pulled back though, and she could pull in more breath.

“What are you doing?” Sarah asked and Lizzie laughed harder. She looked at her friend, but the question wasn’t posed to her. She had asked the person behind her and Lizzie looked back to see that Elisabeth had been the one on top of her. Elisabeth had stood up and was now looking at both of them, pained.

Was she crying? Lizzie thought she could see the glisten of moisture at the corner of her eyes. Maybe there was still something of her soul left. 

Thank God! Lizzie thought as she turned back to Sarah.

Why was it someone Lizzie had just met was more her ally, had more of her soul, than the person she had grown up with? Sarah had no compassion for her. That fiery intensity had only shifted to Elisabeth for a fraction of a heartbeat and it was now reaffirmed and directed back at Lizzie. She was walking closer, faster now, only a few steps away.

Lizzie didn’t have time to think, she only had time to react. Her gut told her to strike and so she did. She leapt forward into where Sarah was, unsure if Sarah had any mass or not. She pushed forward, keeping low so that if Sarah was solid, Lizzie would tackle her out of the way. With luck, Chuck would be so caught off guard that she could get past him and run back into the house.

When she hit where Sarah had been, it wasn’t that she went through Sarah, but that the shape of here disappeared from where she had been. Lizzie had felt the resistance of something there, but not the solidness of flesh, then there was nothing and she was fighting to keep her balance while running forward.

“No! You bitch!” Sarah was close behind her. Whatever had happened to her, it hadn’t moved her far from Lizzie, and Lizzie knew that she would be running to catch up to her. Lizzie didn’t have to make it far, but she was also not dressed to be out there. Each step she ran was a reminder that she had left the house with no shoes on. 

The cold was bad enough, not enough that she had to worry about frostbite and losing a foot, but it did make the ground hard and every bump in the dirt, sharp. Sarah didn’t have such concerns and she knew it. Dead things didn’t feel pain, and she would be able to catch her. 

Lizzie could feel the biting in her pants and knew that the talisman was in her pocket. She didn’t know how it got there as she had put it away, storing it in the box of books she had found that her uncle had left her. She had never pulled it out, and especially didn’t put in her pocket before coming out there. Still, she felt the sharp jabs from the teeth of the hideous thing and the desire in her chest to put it on and send them all away. All of them, get rid of all of them so she would never have to deal with them again. Then maybe she could live a life in peace out there, even if she couldn’t enjoy normalcy, she would have quiet.

She pushed herself harder to make it to the house. She was only a few feet away now. She just had to be ready to make the turn to go up the sideways stairs and then she could fall into the living room if she had to. 

Lizzie already knew what was going to happen before she felt it. She had to slow down to make that turn to go up the stairs. If she hadn’t been running straight towards the house, she might have been able to get to it at an angle and she would have been okay. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been thinking about that as she had just pushed to get away. Now she did have to slow, and Sarah would be there to catch her. Sarah, the cheerleader who had always been more physically fit that Lizzie who spent much of her extra time in the library. Sarah, who liked to work out with Jessica while Lizzie would be there with them, occasionally commented while she sat off to the side reading a book. Sarah, who was determined to see her in pain and suffering as Lizzie wanted to escape into the confines of the house. I 

Lizzie felt her feet got out from her first. She had been close enough that she was reaching out to shift her balance for the turn to go up the stairs. It was right when she had shifted her weight, and then she was falling. She had that brief moment when she realized it was happening and knew that now matter how she turned it was going to hurt. She had too much momentum against her, she was going to slam into the house.

The pain shot through her. First it was her shoulder as it slammed into the rough wood of the outer wall. Then her back twisted and that sent torrents of pain from all over as them her arm and legs slammed into places she wasn’t even sure of. She felt like a rag doll being tossed around as she hit the wall, then again all before landing hard on the ground. 

She lost consciousness, but only for a brief second or two. It was enough for them to catch her and when she came too, she was feeling the force of their blows all along her body. They were kicking her into the wall, each blow was doubled as she felt it, then the pain as it would slam her into the house. She had somehow managed to get her arms over her face, so even when she had blacked out, some part of her was thinking, but the rest of her was exposed and she felt the blows. 

She fought to pull herself towards the stairs. They hadn’t been far when she slowed and when she outstretched her arm, she felt the tip of them. That was when she was the shoe come crashing down on her face and felt the smashing force. She could feel the blood come from it, spilling down her face, and swore she heard something crack. It had to have been her nose as she felt lightening stabs of pain shooting through her eyes and into her skull.

It didn’t stop her. She knew where the step was, and pushing through, pulled herself towards it. Each blow rocked her towards the ground and the house, but she kept going. Each lifting of her knee was met with a kick from one of them to throw off her balance, but she moved slow, not pulling it to high so if it did fall back down, it wasn’t going to cause more pain. 

She made it up the first step and then the other. She only had two more steps to go and there would be the open front door. At that time and more than any other time in history, she was thankful for being out in the woods and that she had ran out without closing it behind her. All she had to do was reach the platform and she could just fall into it.

“Oh no you don’t bitch,” Sarah snarled behind her, and Lizzie felt a force behind her head, trying to smash her face into next step. It hadn’t stopped Lizzie, and she reached out for the step and pulled herself farther up. She was on the platform now. She had almost made it. “Shit!”

Lizzie didn’t try to run into the house, or anything glorified. She was too tired and in too much pain. She saw the entryway and fell past the threshold. First it was just her upper body, but once that had cleared, she pulled her feet and let them crash against the wall on the inside of the door frame. 

Lizzie saw that Sarah had been trying to reach for her, but that was the problem on not really being able to use their hands against her. They could hit her with come kind of force, but it made it really hard for them to grab at her. 

She was panting, just inside the door, not moving. Sarah stayed outside, watching her. 

“Just die already.”

“No…” Lizzie wheezed out and then rasped into a cough. She thankful no blood came out. She didn’t know what that would mean, but she knew it would be bad if there had been. “Not yet. Brother.”

“Brother. Yeah, well, too bad. He’ll be dead soon, and then what will be your excuse.”

“I’m sorry.” Lizzie was catching some of her breath, now able to say short phrases and her chest no longer felt like it was going to seize up and quit working for her. Maybe she would survive the night. Maybe. There was still a long time before morning.

“You don’t get to be sorry.”

“I am.”

“Yeah, well fuck you. Fuck your whole fucking family. I’ve never liked you. I only tolerated you because your dad. Your mom was a fucking drunken whore who slept with the whole town. Everyone knew it. I felt sorry for you.”

Lizzie felt a new pain in her chest rise up, and a lump formed into her throat. She was having trouble breathing again, and not sure if it was from the beating or the words.

Her legs fell from beside the door, and she twisted her body around. It was hard, each time she moved a muscle they protested in agony, but she was able to turn so she could reach for the door. She grabbed the handle and pulled herself up so she could step to the threshold and look her friend in the eyes.

“Than why get an apartment with me.”

“Fuck you.”

“Why still be friends with me, why come out here with me.”

“I came out here to die. It was my fucking time. That’s all I am or was, someone to die because I was close to you. Fuck You. Fuck you fuck you fuck you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Stop saying that. I don’t fucking care if your sorry.”

“Sarah-“

“You know why I got the apartment with you? Because I was fucking your boyfriend. I was the one fucking Roland and I loved doing it when you were in class. I would fuck him on your bed, in your bathroom. I would fuck him wherever I knew you enjoyed so that way I could one day tell you how much I enjoyed fucking him and taking him from you.”

“But-“ Lizzie looked past Sarah to where Roland was standing at the bottom of the stairs and knew right then that it was true. She had known he was sleeping with someone, but never would have- No, how could she?

Roland’s eyes were staring at the ground. He refused to look at her. Had he always been screwing her? Had it all been some game to the two of them?

“Roland?” Lizzie’s voice was weak, and she barely recognized it.

“I’m sorry Liz. I never meant to hurt you.”

That pain in her chest twisted like someone had just grabbed her heart and started to squeeze the life right out of her. The tears were welling up inside her and knew they were getting ready to break free. 

She tried to take a step back from the door, but her legs were weak. They wobbled from the strain of the abuse they had just taken and Lizzie found herself falling hard onto her butt. She barely even registered this new pain as she was still processing what Sarah was telling her. Why had Sarah kept this from her and waited for so long to tell her? Why wait until now? There were many times that if she wanted to hurt her like this, could have said something and ended all the lies.

“I fucked you’re dad once. He was a bad lay, but I didn’t do it for the pleasure. He had an old man dick and I had to do all the work. I walked into bedroom while your mom was working the late shift and you had fallen asleep early. I walked in there, in just my bra and panties. He was asleep, and I started sucking his cock. I don’t even think he was fully awake until I was on top of him, riding him until he cum into my nice young pussy.”

Lizzie was backing away from the door. She knew Sarah couldn’t get in, but her words were still hurting her more than any knife or fist ever could. She realized she was stepping back and stoped herself, forcing herself back to the threshold. She grabbed the door as she didn’t trust her legs not to give out on her again. 

“Why?”

“For a long time I did it because your mom fucked my dad. I hated you for that, but you know what? After I did it for awhile, started working on fucking up your life, I found that it was too much fun. I stopped caring about our parents and their fucked up relationships and started to craft new ways to torture you.”

This was too much. There was no way this all could be happening. She wanted to collapse again, just fall to the floor and let the cabin rot around her. She wasn’t against returning to her childish self and covering her ears while screaming “Na Na Na Na Na.”

“I even told your mom about how I fucked your dad.”

Lizzie’s glare shot back to Sarah, no longer avoiding her eyes. She saw the glee in how much she was enjoying this. Right then, Lizzie had never wanted to hurt Sarah or anyone else as much as she did right then, and Lizzie had a way of doing it. She still felt the bite from the talisman teeth digging into her leg. It was like it was taunting her, begging her to use it. If she did, it wouldn’t just be Sarah she would be hurting.

Roland was out there with them. He hadn’t been sent to the place yet and was still on her side. He was trying to help her. He tried to warn her. He has been talking with her whenever they could and was being nice to her. She couldn’t sent him there or else he would come back, no better than the rest of them.

But he didn’t have to come back did he? None of them had to. She could just keep on wearing the twisted looking object and never have to worry about any of them again. Something nagged at her though that told her that wasn’t a good idea. If her uncle hadn’t told her to always wear it, but only when she had left the house for long stretches, there had to be a reason for it. There must be some kind of cost associated with it that she didn’t know about. She had already made enough mistakes by doing things without understanding what was going on.

She still hoped that there would be some answers in her uncle’s diaries. She’d read through the first one, but had stopped, not wanting to read the next one. So far, her uncle didn’t have the talisman yet, and a lot of it talked about him taking long walks with his wife. 

The other dead were upset with him, but all they could do is yell and shout at him. He was learning to accept that, though was having trouble sleeping as some would take turns screaming through the night. He was starting to experiment with watching television, or keeping it on through the night as the distraction made the screams less noticeable. He wasn’t rich yet, but his savings wasn’t hurting too much. He was learning to deal with it, and talked about this man named Bobby with whom he chatted with regularly. She wondered who Bobby really was?

Lizzie looked up from Roland, who tried to hold her gaze with his eyes. Sarah was still standing just beyond the threshold, some of the anger had edged off and that little smirk she had earlier had returned. Her eyes had a joyous sparkle at the corner that Lizzie hadn’t noticed before, and realized that Sarah was enjoying hurting her in this new way.

“Yeah, I told her. It was right before they left for the weekend trip.”

Lizzie felt her grip on the door handle tighten and that pain in her chest gripped twisted even harder. She felt like she had just been kicked in the stomach and she started shaking her head no. She didn’t want to hear this, but already knew what was coming. She saw it in the smile that grew wider, spreading across Sarah’s lips.

“I told her just as she was getting in the car, ready to drive away. I told her just an hour before they both died.”

Lizzie felt the fresh tears streaking down her cheek, but ignored them as she rushed to close the door. It slammed shut, and Lizzie crashed into it, her back hitting as it tried to support her up. She was falling, it was going to happen. Her legs were giving out, and she had no control. She didn’t want to hear anymore, but Sarah wasn’t going to stop. There was still more Sarah could stab her with, now that the dagger was firmly in Lizzies heart. Sarah knew how easy it would be to twist it before pulling out. This was her death blow, and she knew how much all of this was hurting Lizzie. Not only did Sarah not seem to care, she seemed to be relishing it.

“I killed your parents. Don’t you see. What else would have gotten them into such a big fight and not see the oncoming truck. I killed them,” Sarah went quiet, but Lizzie knew it was only for the effect and she was right. The next little bit came out in a harsh whisper that Lizzie knew could only take as a threat. “and I’m going to kill you when the time is right.”

Dead Friends: Chapter 26

Lizzie looked at the piece of paper in her hand. It had multiple spots across it from dried tears and she realized there were a few spots that held fresh tears. Her own that she hadn’t realized had fallen as she had read the note. She wished there was more written, but as it was, the page was filled front and back with the words spread to the edges. Some were even hard to read as they came so close to where it had been ripped from a spiral notebook and still held the remnants of the binding.

She folded it back the way it had been, trifolded as though it was a letter getting ready to be sent and put the paper back in the envelope addressed to her. Her uncle had never been around, but she scrambled for memories and barely caught them, thinking of times when he had been there. There was something, she barely remembered it, but as she struggled, she thought it was there. A few memories actually. She thought she had one of him and his wife as they had come to dinner and she had ran between his legs, laughing, only to have him chase her through their house.

There was another memory, one of her as a baby. She often had always had this one, but so many times thought it was more of a dream than a memory. Maybe it was, but it was still a fun dream. She was crawling, still a baby. She was in her grandmothers house and crawling as she though newly discovering some mythical ancient land. There was this large object, at the time she barely knew what it was, but in hindsight recognized it as a flowery fabric covered couch that her grandmother used to have that had become her parents couch for awhile. 

She had made it to the edge and was about to go into a forbidden zone, not that she cared as she was an explorer off on adventure. Though when she had reached it, she had sat up for a moment to look back at her mom and dad sitting at the kitchen table, talking to her grandmother. None of them were paying attention to her as her mother held her grandmothers hand and were looking at each other. This was her chance, and she wasn’t sure if she really realized it or not, but in this dream memory, she knew she had to take it. She turned back around and got in the crawl position to make her escape around the corner.

That was when a pair of large hands grabbed her from under her arms and pulled her up. She saw his smiling face, his happy eyes, and heard that deep laugh as he exclaimed, “Caught ya.”

Was the memory real? Were any of them? Memories of her uncle always felt so surreal that she was never sure. So much time had passed since she had seen him.

She put the envelop on the kitchen table and stood there, looking at the rest of the garbage on it. This was her house now, it was her refuge. She was going to have to clean it, and she didn’t have much else to do. There were also things she might find when she did. It didn’t sound like her uncle had many of the answers she was hoping for, but maybe there had been things he had overlooked. He had all those years to research it, and he had found the talisman so he had learned some things.

That table, that damned dining room table, so full of junk. It was as good as a place to start as any, but did she have any garbage bags. When was garbage pick up, she should call the city and find out. He had said all the utilities were paid, which surprised her as she was surprised he was even on city lines. With how remote the house was, she would have expected to have a generator or something, though she supposed there had to be one for the winter. She would have to check the barn for that as well.

She looked over at the kitchen, the door was closed as it always was. That swing back door haunted her and she felt cold every time she looked at it. Just anyone could sneak in there and hide in waiting and she wouldn’t know it until she went in. It was how Sarah had died, next it would be her turn as she was now all alone.

She had to go in there to find garbage bags, mad at  herself for not bringing any with her. That seemed like something she should have thought of at the convenience store. With how much garbage was scattered throughout the house, her uncle may not have any. 

“Hey bitch!” Sarah screamed from outside. Lizzie closed her eyes, took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten. Sarah had been quite for the last hour or so. They all had been, but now as Lizzie looked at the kitchen door, it was like she had been able to read her mind to know Lizzie was thinking about her.

Lizzie walked away from the yelling dead and stepped into the kitchen, taking deep breaths as she did. No one was in there. The house still that disturbing quiet that she didn’t think she would ever be able to get used to. She would have to do something about that, maybe find her uncle’s laptop and stream music or something. 

The kitchen was easily the cleanest room of the house. Part of that was probably from the cleaners, but the little bit she should remember from the last time she was the, it had been pretty clean then too. He had taken care of this room, no papers scattered about, but just a place that was kept well maintained so the food cooked there would be edible and not send anyone to the hospital for food poisoning. Though, thinking of what her uncle was going through, that may have had more to do with it than actually caring for the room itself. A trip to the hospital could spawn countless of new dead surrounding the house.

You had gone to the hospital and no one had died…

But there had been people who had died. They just hadn’t died while they were there. The shadow man had waited. Had waited and like her uncle had said in his note, had toyed with her until the right time to take their lives. How had the shadow man known when that would be? He couldn’t have. He just had to have been very patient. 

She should lock that thought away, as she felt knowing he was extremely patient was good to remember. Though she wasn’t sure she wanted to know what he was patiently waiting for. It involved her, or her bloodline, that was obvious.

She stepped all the way into the little room and noticed for the first time the little slant to the room and how much of it looked newer than the rest of the house. This was an addition. Her uncle had mentioned something about the changes he had done to the house in his note. This room must be added on. She thought about that as she continued to looked around, letting the door go and whoosh shut behind her.

The house felt disturbing and alone again, that feeling of dread she had felt outside returning. It was deep in the pit of her stomach, and she looked back at the door to the rest of the house, wanting deeply to rush back to the otherside.

This was an addition, so maybe what made her feel calm and safe there, didn’t apply to the kitchen. The dead man had been in the kitchen, not the rest of the house. He hadn’t been able to…, but yet the dead outside couldn’t get in there. 

“So whatever protected the house, didn’t protect the kitchen, but something else did.” She said it out loud, letting her thoughts out in the quiet place. They seemed louder than they should have. She definitely needed to start listening to music or something or else she was going to do a lot of talking to herself. 

“What was it they said? It was okay to talk to yourself as long as you don’t talk back?” She said as she walked to the other side of the little island  counter in the center of the room. “Sure that was it.” She said in response to herself, letting out a little cackle at her own inner joke. 

She looked back to the door to the house again. Her eyes always kept coming back to it. With it closed, she would never know if another surprise waited for her out here. She doubted she would ever have issues in the house. The note made it sound very safe and she believed it. The kitchen didn’t feel like the rest of the house. She couldn’t rely on the same protection.

What was she going to do about the door.

She walked over to it and studied its hinges. The door swung both ways, but as she studied the hinges she wasn’t sure how the things worked. She understood how regular hinges did, but these were different and were alien to her. Regular hinges she could take a butter knife to and work the pin free to remove the door. The double hinges weren’t like that and she couldn’t see any access to the pin. 

How could she get the door off? She would probably have to remove the whole hinge, using a screw driver to remove the hinges from the wall. Though, that seemed like it would be a project and she wasn’t ready to start modifying to house just yet. Instead she looked around for something heavy and found a block of kitchen knives, the base being made out of wood. She grabbed it and used it to prop open the door.

“Wa-la!” She said as she stepped back to admire her handy work.

“Proud of yourself in there?” She heard the voice, and turned to see who said it. She recognized it, but hadn’t heard it in a while. He had never been one to say much to her. She didn’t see anyone standing behind her, she was still alone in the room.

Chuck had to be outside, which made sense since he couldn’t come into the warded house, but still felt disconcerting that he would know she was in there. Could he somehow see inside? She was never sure what their deathly abilities were as they always seemed to be able to do more than what they let on.

“I am, a little.” She walked over the back door and opened the interior wooden one. She forgot that the screen door was still broken from its frame. It would probably always be broken as she was afraid to go out there to fix it, and afraid to call a handyman to the house. What if the man came to the house and was killed. She couldn’t call anyone to the house. Any time she did, she would be putting their lives in danger.

Chuck was standing at the door, and she looked down at him, nervous as there was no visible barrier between them. She thought he couldn’t get in to attack her, but it was hard to imagine something unseen keeping him away.

“You okay?” She said to him. They hadn’t really talked much since his death. He had always blamed her for it, and his anger had been obvious. Then when Josh had come along, Chuck’s role seemed to have become the protector for the other dead as Josh had been angry with all of them. What was his role now? As he was the first to talk to her since the talisman, had he become the peacemaker?

The anger she saw that darkened all of them since their time in the other realm was present on him too. No, he would attack her is he could, just like the rest of them. They all blamed her, as they should, but she hadn’t known what the talisman would do. She was sorry, but how do you apologize for sending someone to hell for nothing they had done.

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

She looked back at the door she had just propped open and back to Chuck.

“Why not?”

“Not the door. You shouldn’t have done that us.”

“I didn’t know.”

“You shouldn’t have done that to us.” he repeated, his eyes digging into her own.

“I know. I didn’t know what it would do, I just wanted peace.”

“Peace! Peace! How do you get to want peace!” He screamed at her, his anger blazing as he rushed at her. She jumped, slamming her back into the refrigerator and feeling it rock. 

It took a moment to calm her breathing. Any second, she expected to feel his hands on her throat, his teeth tearing into her flesh, and his…

She pushed the thoughts out of her mind as she looked back to where Chuck had been. He wasn’t there, but was on the ground a few yards back. His eyes were wide as he looked around in shock. 

Slowly he stood, looked back to the door, and then ran towards it, again lunging after her. This time she watched, not worried about him getting in to her, and she saw as he hit the threshold, and with a white flash of light, he was thrown back across the yard.

This time when he got up, he kept his eyes locked on her, and she saw that fire burning hotter. He was slower to make his way to the back door, not lunging for it. He walked casually, his hands opening and closing into fists.

He reached the threshold and stopped there, studying the frame before looking back to her. Then he nodded, and stepped away from where she could see him. He didn’t say a word, didn’t make any threats, just studied the house and the frame until he was gone.

She didn’t know why, but that scared her more than if he had made the threats. 

She looked at the path leading back to the barn. The letter had said she’d need to go there. She didn’t feel safe doing it, not yet. Instead she studied it from a distance. It wasn’t anything special. It just looked like a barn, maybe a little smaller than some she’d seen used for farm equipment, and it definitely needed some paint. Still from a distance it looked sturdy enough.

She turned away as she closed the back door and left the kitchen.

Dead Friends: Chapter 25

I’m thinking of shifting the release day for my posting of this story from Tuesday to Wednesday. Tuesday is such a big day with new releases that there is always so much else that you could be reading. I would love to hear what you think. Should I post these bits of story on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday?

Getting back to the story, and this week the tone changes somewhat. I hope you like it…

****

Elizabeth,

I.. I really don’t know how to write this or even what to tell you. There’s so much. I’ve written this letter so many times over the years, though not always addressed to you. I figured the curse would fall on to others before you. Then when Tommy died, I knew you would be next.

I’m sure none of this makes any sense. It doesn’t. It never has made any sense for me as well and I’ve lived with it for nearly fifteen years. I think it’s been fifteen. Time is a little hazy when you are isolated and it feels much longer, but when I try to do the math, that’s what I come up with. 

All this, I’m sure I sound like a crazy old hermit and I’m sure that’s how I seem to you. I don’t know what you’ve been through. I know a little about your life, and I have no clue how your life has been since my death to you reading this letter. I was hoping to make everything…

Shit, I’m losing myself and getting ahead of things. I’m sorry. I just don’t know how to get this started, tell you what you need to know and catch you up on the little that I know. I want you to be more prepared than I was.

I know you don’t know too much about me. You think that your dad and I had a huge fight and then I chose to live out here in the woods. Bet you think I’m a really big weirdo, huh. Well part of that is true. Your dad and I got into a fight, but it wasn’t what kept me away. I had already moved out here to the cabin after Cynthia died and your dad was worried about me. The fight was about him wanting me to come stay with you guys and I wouldn’t leave the cabin. He was afraid for me, how I could just leave behind my successful job and all my friends to live alone out here. How could I tell him I was doing it to keep him and everyone I cared about safe. 

Cynthia was dead. It is my fault. That’s not survivor’s guilt, but a fact. You have to understand this curse that is your true inheretence inheritance and I am so sorry that this burden has fallen on your shoulders. I still remember the day you were born. I was at the hospital with your dad. I held you in my arms. Your eyes were closed and boy could you scream. You came out with such a set of lungs on you. 

You were also the most amazing thing I’d seen and I couldn’t wait for Cynthia and I to have one of our own. We were trying. In retrospect it was a good thing that our wishes had never come true as I think that would have broken me when this fell on me. Then this would have been your dad’s burden and we would have lost all of you. Well, I would have already have been gone, but it would have been your dads turn to lose everyone he loved. 

Maybe that would have been a good thing. The blood line would have ended. Yeah, hate me for saying it. I hate myself for writing it, and I really don’t think it was smart. I don’t even think that would have ended it. It might have just made it worse.

I’m still getting ahead of myself. Let me start over.

I don’t know what it is or what it wants. I don’t know if it is a curse on our bloodline or something to do with this house and where it stands. I have a bunch of theories but none of them matter. What does matter is that all those close to you, friends to you, anyone you keep in regular contact with, will die. I wish I could say that was the end of it, but they will die, and then come back and haunt you. (Though I don’t think that haunting is the right word. Most of those who have come back have been very nice. They know I loved them and they have never truly left me.) 

Not all who come back though are people you know. I don’t know why, but those connected with those who die around you, those who are killed by the curse and are affected by it. Damn, I don’t think I’m explaining this well.

Say a man died. He had a girlfriend. She gets depressed because her boyfriend was killed and kills herself. Well, now not only is the boyfriend haunting you but so is his girlfriend.

I don’t know how or why this works this way. I’ve spent years trying to figure all this out and still, it doesn’t make sense. As soon as I think I know all the rules and what they are, things change and I have to learn everything new again. 

Sometimes I think she does it just to mess with me, but I’m not ready to touch on that yet, so Hey, what else do you need to know? Dead come back and haunt you. Check. Anyone you care about and keeps in contact with you is going to die. Check. Oh yes, even if you get to familiar with someone on a regular basis, guess what, they’re going to die.

You’ll end up never wanting to leave this cabin or talk to anyone from the outside world. I almost never left and my only contact with the outside was pretty much through phone and internet. Yes, there is internet here and WiFi. Sorry, but I destroyed my computer tonight. Well, shortly before writing this letter to you. You’ll have to buy your own laptop I guess or bring your own if you thought to do so. Password for the WiFi is a set of numbers on the box in the corner. All the utility bills are paid for in advance for the next ten years.

Yeah, you don’t have to worry about much financially.  I bet your wondering where all the money came from. I sure as hell didn’t inherit it myself. All I had to start out was this cabin and the curse. I didn’t even get a letter to explain any of it, just stories of my crazy uncle who lived by himself out in the woods.

What I found was a niche market that I could use my technical knowledge and craft things to make old objects of immense value, work again. Essentially I fixed old antique clocks. These clocks are each handcrafted so there are no set parts for them so to fix them, I had to handcraft the replacement part to get them running again. On some clocks I made nearly a hundred grand and being the poor boy I was growing up, this blew me away.

The back barn is my tool shop and work area. It’s less cluttered and safe as well. The same incantations that are placed around the house are placed around the barn as well. However the path between the two can be dangerous. It partly has to do with the talisman, which I guess I should explain how that works. Well, I’ll get to that in just a minute. I need to tell you one last bit about the clocks.

I have one that is finished for a Mr. Douglas. I had called and told him the work is complete and should be sending an employee to pick it up. It will probably be Mr. Ketchum. Ketchum is an older man and he’s grown surly in his old age. You won’t like him. No one does. He’s rude and pushy and will criticize everything. Just make sure you get the fifty grand they still owe for the work.

Oh, money. Yes, you got a lot in the inheritance, but there’s more throughout the house. I didn’t do much banking so who knows how much is hidden away in this house. It’s not like I got much of a chance to spend any of it. People came from all over the world for me to work on their clocks and I loved to work on them. 

There’s another clock that is partially done. That is Mr. Barlow’s. His information will be in the barn. You’ll have to look for it and let him know it won’t be done. Be careful. He’s a dangerous man. Very dark. I was always afraid of him. Something about him always felt, I don’t know, they just felt wrong. I don’t know how to say it. It’s like, he could feel her presence and that he enjoyed coming here. Maybe it’s why I never dealt with any middlemen and he came himself. He seemed to relish it and he always had more clocks for me to fix. It was like he was seeking them out. Be careful with him.

So what else to pass on… I’m not really sure. When I started writing this I wanted to pass on what I could. Now that I have started it, I don’t want to quit. I don’t much interaction with people. Writing this letter, telling you what I have truly passed down to you and get it off my chest is refreshing though I am so sorry what it means for you and the rest of my life.

When it was passed down to me, I wasn’t given anything. Our uncle passed away, and I was told that I had inherited his estate which was essentially this cabin. There was no money to live off of, no note, and I had no clue he had even existed. Our parents had died young and Tom and I had grown up not even knowing about him.

Cynthia and I came to the cabin. It wasn’t in any better condition then. It had no interior plumbing, and the kitchen was in what is the dining room now with an old wood stove. It was very different then, but in some ways very much the same. I mean, the layout has changed and I’ve done a lot of work to it. I’m not an architect so much of it I was teaching myself as I went, but I worked my way through it. It gets lonely and boring out here all alone, the only people you can talk to are the ghosts from your past.

Cynthia died in the middle of the night. We had gone back to our apartment and were unsure what we were going to do with the cabin. I woke up in the morning with her cold body lying there, her face turned to me and those scared haunted eyes looking at me sleeping as the last thing she saw. 

I can’t tell you about that morning, of finding her, who I called, or really anything that happened for the next day as it was all a blur. I had turned over to give her a kiss, and had done so without even really looking at her, my eyes still only slits. 

Then, it was the next day and I’m being woken up mid way through the night by the sounds of screaming that quickly fell away to crying. I got out of bed, and saw her there sitting in the corner, her arms wrapped around her legs that she had pulled in. She had her head down and she was crying. It was obviously her, I knew it the moment I had heard the scream. She used to scream at mice many times over the years, and I knew the scream’s owner.

I had called out her name before I approached. She had started when she had heard it. Then she had looked up. 

I’m not going to go into any details. Its hard to remember and so much of that time is confused, but she hadn’t known she was dead. Something had happened, she was sure of that, but where I thought she had died of natural causes, she shook her head vehemently ‘no.’

That was when she told me about the shadow thing. At the time, I thought it was death and that all people who died had some grim reaper that came for them. I can not say how happy I was that your dad was out of town on business at the time and was only working as hard as he could to get home to us, that instead it was my best friend who came to me that day to try and console me through the grief and help me plan the funeral. Otherwise it may have been your dad to have been hit by the bus as he left my apartment instead of Eric.

The next morning, Eric’s dead presence was in my apartment to join Cynthia. The day after that, my sister Sarah joined my dead friends. The city bus had crashed and it hadn’t been just her that was there. My apartment was starting to not feel big enough as there was just too many of them. Now, not only were there the people who had been on the bus, but I now had the family that was in the car that the bus had hit.

All of them were confused. So was I, but I couldn’t help but think how odd it was that my uncle had lived so far away from people. I’ve never been a superstitious person, but I had never heard of anyone having the dead, anyone connected with a person, any of it, coming back like this. It was a fair assessment to say that this was all connected, and I was freaking out. I needed to get away from people, and the cabin seemed like the best place.

Damn, I’m running out of paper. I tore these pages out of my last diary. I knew this day was coming, I hadn’t thought to buy more. You might find past notes in the trash. Hell, maybe theres a note or two I’ve left for others in the past. I’ve outlived most the people I thought I would past this curse onto.

For the last five years, I have been keeping diaries. There will be much of the information in there. 

I’m sorry that I’ve left this onto you. I wish I could have lived longer. If your reading this, then something happened. I don’t know what, but I’ve felt like something was coming for me these last few days. If I’m right… If not, there’s also them. Maybe the dead finally got strong enough to kill me. There’s been an odd thing of late, or maybe I’m just imagining things. I could be wrong, but I think in the last year or so, they’ve been getting stronger. They started as only mere shadows. I could see through them, there wasn’t any substance. Now, I can see them as plain as day, like they were really there.

I wish I had more for you, but this is the best I can do. I want you to know that I have always loved your family and you. Your dad was my best friend, and I hated keeping him at a distance.

Damn. Okay then. I’m sorry.