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?
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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.