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 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.

Dead Friends: Chapter 39

“Sarah!” Lizzie yelled as she felt the sudden rush of air around her, the wind howling through the trees surrounding the clearing. Her tone was pissed, as the emotions raged through her, a torrent that combined her pain and frustration that had been building throughout the last few weeks. Many of her friends were dead and she was hiding because even in death, they weren’t gone but physically trying to hurt her. Everything that she loved and care for was being torn away. She was being stripped of what she had always taken for granted as being their for her, and it was turning her into this mouse who hid and she no longer recognized.

But the mouse was always her, you just never allowed yourself to see your true nature. The voice of insecurity said, again trying to beat her down and pushing her to go back inside. Well, for the second time that day, she was done hiding inside.

“Get your boney was out here! Sarah!”

“She’s dead.” Jessica said. She stood at the bottom of the stairs to the cabin, looking at Lizzie. She looked troubled as she watched her friend twisting around, calling out for their dead friend. She would take a step towards Lizzie, but then stop and pause. It was obvious she was unsure of herself and wether or not she should rush over and comfort her friend.

Lizzie would look at her. She could tell what Jess wanted to do, and damned her for it. She would never be able to get her to see what it was she was going through unless she was given the chance. If Jessica came to her now, it would… It would… Lizzie wasn’t sure what it would do.

Lately every time she went outside, she had been attacked. Could the dead also attack Jessica? If she was near Lizzie would they go after her as well?

“Stay there!” Lizzie said, as she watched her friend come to a decision and had taken a step towards her. “Just give me time.”

“Time for what?”

“To show you.”

“Oh? What are you going to show her?” Sarah said as she walked around from the side of the house.

Lizzie looked at what had once been her best friend as she strutted in her direction. It was the walk of a panther as it approached her prey, knowing it was trapped and had nowhere left to run. Lizzie locked eyes with her, and never looked away, the remaining scars from her death having faded were still hideous to look at. They no longer fazed Lizzie as she grew more hardened, her emotions no longer getting the best of her.

If it doesn’t kill me, it only makes me stronger, she chanted in her mind, telling all her other insecurities they needed to back off.

“This isn’t you.”

“Oh, you still think we’re friends? We were never friends, but if we had been, you really think a friend would have put up with all this and still be your bestie? You sent us to HELL Liz. HELL!”

“I said I’m sorry. Josh even asked for it. You all thought the talisman would somehow cure what was going on. You wanted it as much as I wanted it.”

“I didn’t want that! I’m sure none of us did.”

Lizzie noticed that none of the other’s were coming around with Sarah. It was just her and what had been her best friend. That seemed odd, and she didn’t now quite what to make of it.

“But it was what you asked for. You were hoping for peace, and I needed some quite for my own sanity. I thought it would be like when we traveled. That you would just be gone. That you’d be somewhere else and then just bounce back in. How could I know it would have done that.” Lizzie noticed that the desperation and pleading was gone. She no longer begging for her friends forgiveness. It was simple, this is what happened. She was going to tell her friend the truth, and was at the point that it no longer mattered if Sarah believed her or not.

The Sarah she knew would believe her.

Goose flesh prickled along her arm, and she had a feeling that something was wrong as Sarah approached her and got right up into Lizzie’s face. Lizzie could see the flaps of skin vibrate as Sarah spoke and it looked like there was something there underneath Sarah’s skin.

“Hell, Liz. You sent us to hell.” Lizzie looked at Sarah, keeping her eyes locked onto hers. “Now it’s time for me to send you there.”

Lizzie felt the blow as it slammed into her stomach. It knocked her off the ground, rising into the air before she fell back on the hard earth. The blow had hurt, but the landing felt much worse. She had a moment to think she had just broken her tail bone when she felt that feeling of being grabbed by unseen force and dragged.

“Lizzie! Lizzie, what’s going on!” Jessica called.

Lizzie opened her eyes, not realizing she had closed them when she had landed and looked. Jessica was hurrying towards here. Lizzie held up her arms and shook her head ‘no’ the best she could. Jessica stopped, but she looked pained to do so.

“Looks like blondie has finally caught on. So nice for you to try and protect her.”

The force let her go roughly and Lizzie had no way of stopping herself from having her head slam against the ground. Stars briefly flashed in her vision and lines of colored swirled around her as she tried to ignore the pain now spiking through the back of her skull.

“Why-” Lizzie gasped, struggling to form words, “Why are you doing this?”

“You know why.” Sarah said as Lizzie felt her head again slam down. This time her vision went briefly went black and she swore she heard something snap in her skull.

“But…your lying.” Lizzie said, and with as much effort as she could from being at such an odd angle, she pushed against the force as it rushed her head hard to the ground. It did little to slow the oncoming pain as again her head cracked against the earth.

She didn’t lift her head this time as it hurt too much. Instead it was pulled up by her hair. Sarah was talking, something about Jessica not being safe there, that it could still get her in that house, but Lizzie could barely comprehend the words. Her struggle was more with consciousness than with what was being said.

How often had Sarah ever lied to her?

It was a brief thought that the pain was quick to push away as her mouth filled with a coppery taste.

Some semblance of survival made her move. She could barely feel her body as her mind was numb and felt loose inside her skull. Still she moved. It was slow, her whole body was racked with pain, but she continued to grab handfuls of dirt, pulling herself away from Sarah.

Her vision was blurry, but she saw the shape of a car and continued towards it. She had to reach it. It wasn’t far. If she could get to it, she could escape. It was only ten feet away. She grabbed another handful and then another, willing herself to keep moving forward towards her goal.

“Maybe I should go over there and play with blondie.” Sarah said. It was a hovering voice, somewhere over her. Lizzie couldn’t tell where it was, but felt that that it was close.

“Where…are…the others?” Lizzie said, as red spit darkened the dirt.

“Lizzie, stop this! I believe you. Now get inside.”

“I think blondie would like to have fun under the sun. What do you think. tic-toc, time is running out on the clock.” Lizzie heard Sarah’s voice, but felt the chill. Something that had been nagging at Lizzie clicked into place, a thought from the back of her mind realizing itself about how Sarah had been acting.

“You’re not Sarah.” Lizzie gasped, her breath pushing up a cloud of dust below her. She stopped reaching for more handfuls and turned herself around so she could look up at the dead person standing above her. The sun beat down, so all Lizzie could see was the outline of a person. “You’re not Sarah.”

“Tikkity toc, tickity tit, better just get over it.” The thing above her said. It still sounded like Sarah, but now it echoed with that same voice she’d heard coming from the shadows. It was him. He was inside her.

A chill ran down Lizzie’s back, but she clamped down on the fear that tried to push her. Instead, her mouth tightened and she ground her teeth to where she heard them straining, threatening to shatter under the force. As she did, she twisted the rest of her so she was on her back keeping her glare on it.

“tic-toc, tic-ted, how about your friend.”

The woods erupted around them. Birds that had been quite in the trees took to the air, their cries shrieking through darkening sky. There were so many of them. They created their own breeze and it blasted the trees, shaking the branches as they circled above them. It was like a tornado rising higher until it peaked, closing off the clearing and taking away the light from the sun. It was a swirling cloud of crows that surrounded them.

“Lizzie!” Jessica screamed from where she was by the house.

Lizzie looked at her and the thing above her stepped away from her and was quickly moving in Jessica’s direction. Lizzie knew it wanted her and here she had just set her friend up.

“Run! Get inside.” Lizzie yelled, quickly getting to her feet. She was running, though her head still felt full of cobwebs, she ran as best she could. Every other step she would stagger one way or another, but she fought to chase after what looked like her friend Sarah as she ran towards where Jessica stood.

Jessica had never been a person of inaction, and Lizzie was glad to see that none of this took that away. She had been watching the birds for as they had rose up, but she hadn’t stood still waiting to see what they would do. She had already been backing towards the door. As soon as she had heard Lizzie she had turned and run.

Sarah moved fast, but Jessica was already to the stairs as Lizzie followed her.

Then Jessica stopped and looked back at Lizzie. What the hell is she doing?

“Get inside!” Lizzie yelled again, but Jessica stood there, looking at Lizzie and then to the birds in the sky. Then it dawned on Lizzie why Jessica wasn’t rushing to get back into the house. She didn’t see see Sarah. She looked back to Lizzie and held out her hand to Lizzie.

“Hurry up!”

“She’s coming for you! Get inside!”
“Lizzie hurry!”

“Watch out!”

Lizzie stopped running. Sarah would get to Jessica first. Lizzie was all over the place, her staggering getting worse as she tried to run, the world threatening to spin like a top as it trembled beneath her. Her head felt like an anchor on her neck, and the more she ran, the more she just wanted to lie out there on the ground and pass out.

She couldn’t though. She had to stop it from getting Jessica. Jessica needed to get inside. Damn! But maybe, if Lizzie stopped, Jessica wouldn’t stay outside waiting for her. Maybe she’d realize that she needed to get in where it was safe.

“Lizzie!”

Lizzie looked up. She had stopped without realizing it and had been easing herself down, her body deciding on its own that it needed to sleep. Hearing Jessica call out to her shocked her awake enough to upright herself and look in the direction of her friend who was rushing towards her, afraid to see Shadow Sarah preparing its attack of her.

Sarah was gone, making Lizzie even more confused. She knew she’d been there. Where has she gone?

Jessica reached her and brought her arm around her in a sideways hug that held her up. Quickly with Jessica’s support they were taking steps towards the house when the first bird struck. It came in hard and fast and hit Lizzie’s arm before falling to the ground, dead. Lizzie barely had a chance to look at it when she heard Jessica cry out and the arm around her briefly grow slack to realize she’d been hit.

“It hit me.” She said in disbelief and Lizzie looked at her friends arm to see the red streaming down it. Then she heard a thump ahead of them and saw where one of the birds missed them and hit the ground directly in their path.

Lizzie struggle to push more of the confusion out of her head. She needed to focus and think and they needed to get inside.

“Hurry!” She said, relying less on her friend and trying to walk faster. They weren’t far from the house, only a couple yards, but as more birds fell into their path, she knew it was not going to be easy. Another bird struck her in the middle of her back and had hit with enough force that her legs momentarily buckled beneath her. She was going down.

Jessica pulled her back up and took two steps of her own, keeping Lizzie tight against her side. Then Jessica was hit with another bird and she was launched forward. She hit the wall of the cabin, and Lizzie rushed to catch up, when she was pulled back, the strength of the grip pulling her hair caused sensations of pain along her scalp, setting it ablaze. She fell hard, landing on her butt nearly two yards from where Jessica had fallen to the ground.

That’s when Lizzie realized her friend wasn’t moving. She had hit her head when she had crashed against the house and crumpled to the ground.

Lizzie struggle to pull herself forward towards Jessica when two birds crashed down. One hit a foot in front of her, the other smashed into her hand. She howled in pain and pulled her hand back to her chest. She was sure it was broken. It hurt like a nothing she ever felt and had gone numb.

A shadow washed over her and she felt herself forced to the side, falling flat to the ground. She looked up, and there was Sarah again standing over her, a dark sneer barely able to be seen as much of her was now hidden in darkness.

“Time to watch your friend die. Tic-a-too, tick a tee, oh what will it be. Tic-a-too, tic-a-tat, curiosity killed the cat.”

Sarah turned from Lizzie and looked up to the sky. Light started to burst through the darkness above and for a brief moment, Lizzie thought maybe they would be saved. Then she saw why the darkness was leaving. The birds were rising higher into the air, breaking their dome overhead as they rose out of sight.

Lizzie knew they were not leaving them. Even though they were flying away, it was only to get higher. They were preparing, and soon they were going to be crashing down. They were all coming for them, no long in ones and two’s but now they were coming in mass. It would literally be a murder of crows as they came down to kill.

Jessica was about to die, and there was nothing Lizzie could do

Dead Friends: Chapter 38

Does anyone remember the summers when you were a child? As an adult they are always distant memories when time seemed endless. The summer was filled with years of fun and school was just days between each warm vacation. The pool was a place to ride bikes too and home was where you had tea parties with other girls from the neighborhood who would come to your backyard.

When looking back, do you ever remember the bad times? Sometimes you’ll vaguely remember a squabble you had with your bestie if it was really bad and cause you to go home in a huff, but there was too many good times to think about. Why waste time of thinking about when Sarah had called you a poopy head and stormed off? Why, when you could think about the time you were both at the pool, splashing back and forth, giggling as she had just threatened to tell Tommy Walker that you had a thing for him and thought he was cute.

Lizzie had grown up in Steven’s Point for nearly all her life, though they didn’t live too close to the downtown area, but on the north side near Atwell Park. Their house was on Jordon Lane, not too far from the university so her dad didn’t have too far to go to work. He liked being close enough that he didn’t have a long drive, but far enough away that students wouldn’t be pranking their house. Which they didn’t except for Halloween, and even then who could know for sure if it was students of just random mischief.

Lizzie’s brother hadn’t been sick yet, but they still had never been close. He was just over a year younger than her, and though he was younger, was still the bully of the house. He had learned to pick on her since the moment he had been able to talk, and their mom always took them to play dates where it seemed like she was maybe one of two girls. All the other kids had been boys and <Insert Brother’s Name> had fit right in. It never took him long to make friends, and before she would know what was happening, she would be getting rammed by three to four toy tractors.

And what was the worst part of it? Her mom would just laugh and find it funny. Could she not see how much Lizzie’s brother was a little demon trapped in that body? He was a holy terror and was torturing her and their mom just thought they were playing.

Then there were the times that Lizzie fought back. She would get hit by some Sesame Street doll that had been flung across the room and she would throw it back. Yeah, she would whip it back at him, get him good with it. He would take the hit, and then would wail like a banshee. You would think he was mortally wounded and never going to be recovered as her brother had a set of lungs on him that would make Renee Fleming proud. This would then follow with Lizzie being whisked away into the corner chair where she would face the wall for another time out. The longer she cried, shouting how it just wasn’t fair, the longer she sat there thinking of all the different ways she was going to get her revenge.

She never did though, not while she was alone. Anything she ever tried was always met with failure, her plans aways thwarted by those wailing lungs.

It got to become so frustrating how her parents never saw her side of it, that when Lizzie had turned seven, she had started to explore the neighborhood on her own. She would do whatever it would take to get away from the little beast. Her parents never seemed to care. She was free to roam on her own, just as long as she didn’t get into any trouble. That was kind of the unsaid deal. She didn’t get into any trouble and that she was home before dark. She could work with that.

Well, she also couldn’t ride her bike farther than the end of the street. That was a given as she wasn’t allowed to cross Stanley street or Prais street, so she really only had a couple of blocks to get away, and there were no girls living in any of the houses there. She could ride up and down the street all day and all there were, were boys that ran and played. Sure they were okay, better than her brother, but whose to say that they wouldn’t become just as vicious if she started playing with them.

It was unending, each day the same thing. She would ride her bike, and she would see the same group of boys, some of whom would meet up at the park and throw around balls or play on the playground. She would also be at the park, but she didn’t say much to most of them. Some tried to talk to her, but she would shy away whenever any of them would try to throw around a ball to her or try and chase her.

Some of the older kids teased her and it was unwarranted when they started to call her ‘freak girl.’ She wasn’t a freak. They were just all scary boys, and boys liked to hit and fight. She watched how they played with each other. They were always wrestling around and throwing each other to the ground. How could she trust them not do do that to her.

Then Sarah came to her street. It had been a bad day at the park, and it was really hot outside to make everything worse. At the park, Billy hadn’t accepted it when she had told him ‘no.’ He wanted her to join their game of tag, and no, was not an acceptable answer.

When she had said it to him again, this time louder and stronger, he had pushed her down, then lowered himself to yell in her face, “Tag, you’re it!” Then he ran off and all of his friends ran away from her.

She hadn’t chased them, but stood back up and started to cry. Her butt hurt, she hadn’t known he was going to do that, and falling had stung. So she stood there, watching them all run expecting her to follow, and she didn’t.

That was when it got bad, because all the boys gathered when they realized she wasn’t chasing them. They started pointing at her, laughing and calling her names. Jeremy left the group to walk over to her. He was shorter of the rest and had sometimes even been nice to her, so she didn’t run from him as he approached.

She had a moment to think that maybe, just maybe, this boy was going to be nice to her. He was even holding his hand out to her, so he was going to help her up, and he did right before he pushed her down again.

“Tag, your it!” He laughed and then ran away, the rest of them, some having moved closer to see what Jeremy was going to do, laughed with Jeremy.

“I was already it.” Lizzie cried. She sat there, not even trying to get up. What was the point. There were all mean and just going to make fun of her. Eventually she heard them moving farther away, a new ‘it’ was running around, one boy chasing another until they caught them and pushed them down.

She watched it off and on for a minute or two as here tears dwindled. Finally they stopped when she realized no one was coming to save her, and that she no longer needed saving. Maybe she should just go home and see if Johnny was playing on his Xbox. Her parents would never buy her one as she wasn’t a boy, but when no one was home, she would sneak in there.

It was on her ride home from the park that she stopped and saw one of the coolest things she had ever seen. It was a large pink castle easily as tall as she was. There was no way a boy played with that, and it was being carried out of a large truck to around back of a house she had never paid any attention to before. She didn’t think anyone had lived there, but now there was girl there!

Lizzie stopped her bike and watched as more things came off the truck. She could feel the air in her mouth as it was going dry. It was open and she couldn’t help it as she watched the large girl dining set that was being carried out next by the large men who just kept coming and going out of the back yard.

“Mom, where are they taking them!” yelled a girls voice from behind her.

“Sarah, don’t you dare get out of this car until we have completely stopped. Close that door right now!”

Lizzie turned and saw a large SUV pulling up to the curb. The back door was already partially open and the moment the vehicle came to a complete stop, a little girl roughly the same age as herself came sprinting out. She didn’t even notice Lizzie at first as the girl was in a full sprint towards the back yard where the two men had disappeared with the large castle.

“She’s going to be a handful today.” Lizzie heard the girl’s mother saying.

“Are you up to this? I can watch her and take care of the movers. You can lie in the back, get some rest.”

“I’ll be fine. I’m feeling okay today, and then tomorrow, we’ll go see that specialist and I’ll be all better.”

“I’m not Sarah, you don’t have to talk down to me.”

“I’m going to be fine. It’s all going to be okay.”

Lizzie looked to the girls parents who were so lost in looking at each other that they never noticed she was there. That’s okay, she figured if they didn’t notice her, then they wouldn’t mind it is she followed to where the girl went to.

Lizzie rested her bike in the grass and walked to the back yard. It was larger than hers and fenced in so she had to go through an old wooden gate that needed to be repainted. The paint was brown and peeling, but as Lizzie walked through it, what was there and what she imagined was there became to very different things.

As soon as she saw the castle in the middle of the yard, the two workmen disappeared to her eyes and she saw a lush landscape around her with a meadow of beautiful green grass. Unicorns were grazing in the distance and they nodded to her as she approached the kingdom. The other girl was standing there by the large castle, smiling and twirling around as she sang to the music of Cinderella.

“Hi, I’m Lizzie.” She blurted out and the girl stopped dancing and looked at her like she had suddenly been caught doing something embarrassing. Her cheeks went red and her mouth hung open.

Oh no, Lizzie thought, I just barged in there and now this girl, the only other girl on the area my age is going to hate me for the rest of my life. This was it, I’d ruined it.

“Hello?” The other girl said nervously. She quickly recovered and a smile stretched wide as she started hooping up and down. “Do you want to be a princess?”

“I don’t know… does the castle’s library have any good books?” Lizzie hadn’t really learned to read that well, but she loved stories. If she was a princess, they would need to read stories to her day and night.

“Books? Why would you want books?” The girl scoffed but then looked like she was considering what Lizzie had asked. “But its a large castle, I don’t see why it couldn’t have a library… and unicorns, and cotton candy and … and… and…” Sarah started to name off all the wonderful things it could have and as she did, Lizzie looked around seeing them floating in the air.

It wasn’t long before they were both running around the yard, and when the movers had brought the tea table with the box labeled “tea time (back yard)” on it, that they were preparing for their own tea party.

“Yes Princess Elizabeth, this is a very fine brisket and glass of tea.” Sarah said. Lizzie giggled as Sarah took a bite from her pretend cookie in one hand while holding her tea cup in the other. Her pinky was raised, and she was pouting her lips in what Lizzie guessed was her snooty, queen face.

“It is Princess Humperdink,” Lizzie replied, making her own queen face, “but I do believe they are called biscuits, not briskets.”

Sarah looked at the invisible cookie held between her fingers and then back at Lizzie.

“I thought they’re called briskets. Biscuits are large and fluffy. I want an English cookie,” then dropping back into her faux English accident she continued, “Only the best briskets can be found acceptable for the queen.”

“Yes, my queen.” Lizzie said, but then dropped her own faux accent to continue, “My dad’s a professor at the college. He meets all kinds of cool people and another professor there, she comes over and brings these really cool cookies, but… she calls them biscuits because that’s what they’re called where she’s from. She’s from London I think.”

“Really!” Sarah says, losing her character momentarily.

“Yeah, she’s really cool. She always talks British and she calls things really weird. Like she calls our T.V. a telly.”

“Oh wow.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, should we go inside and watch cartoons on the telly?” Sarah asks, slipping back into using her faux accent.

“Sure.”

They both stood from the short table and started running towards the house. They made it half way when they could hear the yelling from inside.

“Really? We’re not living here for twenty minutes and your already flirting with the neighbors.”

“Flirting! I was just being nice to our neighbors. She was asking if her daughter was hear playing, she’d seen her going into our backyard. I’m not the one running around with my damn tits nearly hanging out. You had one of the movers walking around with an erection.”

“Fuck You!”

The girls had both stopped when they heard something glass fall and break inside the house. Lizzie didn’t know why, but she felt tears forming at the corners of her eyes and she back away from the open door. Sarah looked at her, her eyes were also wet. Neither of them wanted to go inside.

“Maybe we should go to your house and play.” Sarah said. Lizzie nodded her agreement and Sarah rushed to where one of the movers had set her bike. Lizzie’s because bike was still out front and she had a momentary worry that one of the neighborhood boys had hidden it on her when she didn’t see it. They’d done it before, and she turned around frantically looking for it.

“Looking for this?” Sarah asked her and Lizzie stopped to see that her bike was near the front porch. Someone must have moved it, maybe one of the movers. Didn’t matter as she was just happy to see it.

“Aren’t you going to tell your parents where we’re going?”

Sarah looked over her shoulder at the large house. They could still hear her parents but now the voices were muffled and the words indistinguishable.

“They’ll figure it out. We won’t be far.”

“I guess that’s true.” Lizzie said, but she wasn’t comfortable with not telling anyone. She would never have done that to her parents. If she did that to her parents they would freak out and maybe even call the police. It was why she always told them where she was going and who’d she be hanging around with.

They were half way to Lizzie’s house, and Sarah hadn’t said anything since they had left. Every time Lizzie had looked at her, she found her new best friend looking back at her parents house, or looking off into space and wiping away tears Lizzie could tell she wasn’t supposed to see. When Sarah would notice her looking, she would flash a smile and act like nothing was wrong.

Lizzie didn’t know what she should do. She didn’t say anything about it, and after awhile, the smile Sarah gave her lingered on her face.

“Hey, do you think your parents would mind if I stayed the night?” Sarah asked as they were setting their bikes down near the garage.

“I think so. We can always ask.” Lizzie said.

“I hope so. I think I’d really like to stay the night.”

“Then let’s do it.”

Sarah surprised Lizzie as she quickly ran over to her and gave her a huge hug. Lizzie wasn’t sure how she was supposed to react, so she went with it, and returned it. When Sarah pulled away, there were more tears and Lizzie barely heard her whisper, “Thank you.”

“Hey, let me show you my room. My uncle got me this amazing Princess Sofia, and I can show you some of my favorite books.”

“Books?”

“Okay, well, just wait, I’m sure you love it.”

“Sure, let’s go.”

They both rushed off, the sound of giggling laughter echoing through the house as they ran up the stairs to Lizzie’s room.

Dead Friends: Chapter 37

How do you convince your best friend that everyone close to you has been killed because they were close to you? Okay, so maybe it sounded crazy, but it was true. They were dead, and now they were undead and it was all because they were close to you.

Lizzie wanted to scream, as the frustration was growing and it felt like the breath of each word was producing this pressure inside her chest. It was building, and each time that Jessica interrupted her, it wanted to escape in a fierce blast of anger.

Jessica had fought Lizzie through the whole retelling of what has been happening the last few weeks. Lizzie wasn’t sure if it was because she couldn’t believe it or because she refused to believe it. Lizzie would tell her about Sarah’s death, which Jessica understood Lizzie’s hard time to talk about it, but when Lizzie told her about Sarah’s reappearance she had bulked.

“So you really think Sarah’s still alive?”

No, she wasn’t alive. If Jessica would just listen to her. Lizzie had told her she’d undead, still appearing to her and talking to her. Though, telling Jess about her had created a pause in the story. Lizzie couldn’t stop herself. She had to know if any of it was true and if Jessica had known anything about it.

Lizzie had always felt like it had been weird that these two amazing and beautiful people would be friends with someone so shy like herself. Why had Jessica been her friend? She had always thought it was because Sarah was her friend. So if Sarah had been playing her this whole time, had Jessica been in on it?

So Lizzie couldn’t help but ask, “Did Sarah ever talk about my parents? Or say anything about my dad?”

Jessica had been surprised at the sudden turn in conversation, but had recouped quickly enough to not sound like she was making something up.

“Not really?” there was a question Lizzie could tell with how she said it. She stretched out the really and made a face as if to ask why Lizzie was bringing it up. “I mean, I know she was devastated when they passed away. We both loved your parents. Sarah always thought of your mom as her second mom, though I think she’d of rather had your mom over hers. You know there was always rough times for her at home. Well you know, you were always with her.”

And Lizzie had always been with her. It was why she couldn’t believe the things Sarah had been saying lately. It didn’t make sense to her. How did it even work, for Sarah to have done what she said.

Lizzie shook it off, telling Jessica to never mind as she continued then with trying to tell her about Elisabeth and Chuck.

In total it took her nearly forty minutes to get through the story. She hadn’t mentioned anything about the strange Englishman or the clock. She still wasn’t sure what to make of it, or of the barn with the black wall. She had felt different in there. It was like, the house felt safe, magically safe even if she had to put it into words, outside felt like ‘his’ playground and he was waiting out there to play with her. Then there was the barn, and it was cold, dark, and that there was something else in there entirely. Whatever was in there was waiting for something. It wanted something to happen, and when it did, it was ready to emerge. When that happened, she wasn’t sure when that would be, but she knew it was bad.

Whatever he was, and no matter how bad the shadow man was, whatever was in that barn was much worse.

It sounded crazy. So much so that she didn’t tell Jessica sure that it would be the final straw for her friend to be shipping her off to the looney bin with the padded white walls and floors.

“You’re crazy Liz. I love you, but your crazy and I think you need help.” Jessica had said. Lizzie just finished eating the last of her can of fake spaghetti sauce and had tossed it in a garbage bin. Next to it was a garbage bag that was filled with similar cans and other refuse. She hadn’t been sure what to do with the garbage out there, so for now she left it inside.

Lizzie stared down into the darkness at the bottom of the garbage bin. It was a fresh bag, so the can had gone to the bottom and was almost completely lost to the dark plastic.

Her life was beginning to feel like it was lost to darkness. Why had she come all the way out there to the cabin? Was she going to hide out here for the rest of her life like her uncle had? It seemed like a good idea at the time, and she’d hoped that when she got back there that she’d have found some kind of answer. She would walk right into the cabin, open one of his books and “voila” there it was, the answer to what was going on.

She had found an answer at least. The answer was that he had never really known what was going on either, nor had his uncle who passed it down to him.

Though someone must have, as she had the voodoo necklace. Well, she assumed it was voodoo. She kept having dreams of the voodoo woman and she assumed the woman made the necklace.

“I’m not crazy.” Lizzie answered, realizing Jessica was still in the room and watching her.

“I didn’t say you were. I said it sounded crazy. I just think you need to talk to someone and get some help. There has been a lot going on and it would be a lot for anyone to handle alone.”

“But I’m not alone. I haven’t been alone since they died. They’re always out there.”

“They’re outside right now? Why don’t they come in? You said at the apartment they were there with you.”

“I don’t know. There’s something about this cabin. Maybe it’s why my uncle has weird symbols carved into the wood throughout the house. Who knows. I do know that they can’t come into the house and kitchen, and that dead things can only make it into the kitchen but not the rest of the house. I think the kitchen was some kind of add on or something.”

“Either that or it has something to do with the plumbing. If there was some kind of protection spell then it wouldn’t be effective in a room that has pipes of running water running in and out of it.”

Lizzie looked at her friend, her mouth dropping open.

“I’m not saying that I don’t fully believe you. I don’t know what I believe. I’m just saying that if there is some kind of protection on the house, it may not be as effective on rooms with a lot of pipes running in and out of it.”

“And how would you know that?”

“I don’t. Duh. But come on. You’ve seen just as many dumb horror films as I have. There’s like, rules to witchcraft mumbo jumbo. If you have a circle, you can’t have things breaking it or the magic won’t work. Well, it wouldn’t be an actual circle, but it there’s magic and protection, then this room has a lot of pipes I would guess running in and out of it. I’m guess the bathroom would be the same way.”

Lizzie looked at the door that lead into the bathroom. The color drained from her face and the vision she had wasn’t comforting. She could see herself in there, doing her business, when the undead man, huge smile spread across his bloodstained teeth came crashing into the room and grabbing her.

Then there was the shower, and suddenly the theme music played in her head. “Eh, eh, eh, eh” and a knife coming swooping down like out of that Hitchcock movie.

Maybe she wouldn’t be taking a shower anytime soon. She hadn’t felt comfortable enough in the cabin to take one yet, and another few years wouldn’t hurt anything. Well, maybe it would effect her sense of smell, but that’d be worth it.

“I guess that makes sense.”

“You know it does. Come on.” Jessica lead her out of the kitchen, and exhaustion must have been kicking in as Lizzie let her.

“Where are we going?”

“You’re taking a shower.”

“No I’m not.”

Lizzie stopped moving and they both looked at each other. It was obvious that Jess was concerned about her, but Lizzie wasn’t about to go into that room and get naked. There was just no way.

“Liz, I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I know its a lot. I understand what you think you’ve been through and we’ll talk about it more when you get out, but you stink. You stink more than this house does, and as long as you have warm, running water, then the shower will do you some good. I’ll stay with you. Nothing is going to happen, to me, or to you. No one is going to attack you.

Lizzie didn’t believe her, but somehow found the small woman was surprisingly strong as she pushed her through the house to the small room just off the living room.

“I don’t think we have hot water.” Liz said as they neared the door.

“Really? None?”

“I don’t know. Haven’t tried, but theirs no basement and I’ve never seen a hot water heater. I’m not sure.”

“Well, guess what, there’s only one way to find out.”

Lizzie tried to think of another way to stall, but it was too late, they were at the door. Jessica stepped in front of her and pushed it open, and then beckoned Lizzie to enter. She did and Jessica followed, the room suddenly cramped as it was never meant for two people cohabitation.

“I knew it’d be small, but this is like both of us trying to fit into a port-a-potty.” Jessica wasn’t wrong as she was forced to nearly sit over the small, dirt and rust stained toilet that Lizzie had slowly come to trust. Her first couple of days in the cabin she had just hovered over to use, but after Sarah and the rest of them had beat her, she hadn’t had the energy to keep it up and now was used to sitting on it.

Then there was a little sink, and above it there had once been a mirror that in the past had been removed and now was open to the contents. All of it was her uncles. She had no tooth brush and hadn’t done anything about her teeth since she’d gotten there. It was probably a good thing there wasn’t a mirror. The more she was beginning to realize it, the more she felt like she could imagine what Jessica was seeing. She really must have looked like one hell of a mess.

The sink wasn’t what she was in there for, and she turned to study the tub. The room had obviously not been designed for the thing when it had been built and once it had been installed, it allowed just enough room for her to sit on the toilet and her knees just touch the cold porcelain. The curtain was hung on a make shift steel rod that was fastened to the wall, and the shower head hung from a wire dangling from the ceiling. It was one of those loose kind that you could hold while using it and the head was discolored from years of inactivity and age. It was covered in dust as well as the inside of the tub. None of it looked appealing to use.

“Maybe we should just go to a motel? There’s one around here right? Get a room, you can take a shower, maybe even get some sleep in the bed?”

Liz shot Jessica a look.

“You know I can’t-“

“Oh yeah, I know. Sorry. Just look at this. It looks like it hasn’t been used in years and is from a lifetime ago. Shit, I bet this tub is from before you were born.”

“Yeah, it probably is older than that.” Lizzie said as she bent over and started studying the contraption at the back of the room. It was hooked to the shower and she had no idea what it was there for. It looked like some kind of pump. She clicked the little switch on the top and it whirred to life.

“What’s that?”

“No clue.”

“Water pump maybe? I know my great aunt has a cabin and they have one of those hooked up to it. Maybe you do have hot water, I think it’s supposed to work with some kind of specialized hot water heater.”

“I have no idea.”

“Well turn it on.”

Lizzie looked around as the pump continued to run. Eventually she found a bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo that was crusted at the top. She grabbed for it, and Jessica shook her head.

“Give me a second. I brought my own.”

Jessica left the room and a second later Lizzie heard the front door slam. Her heart quickened as she just realized that Jessica had gone outside. What the hell was she thinking? Hadn’t she just been told about what was out there?

Lizzie rushed from the room, nearly knocking over one of the piles by the easy chair. It was more books on witchcraft as well as a diary on top. Lizzie barely noticed it as she made her way to the front door and nearly crossed the threshold.

She stopped herself and cursed at the front yawning. It was great to keep people from seeing into the house when they were in the front yard, but made it impossible for her to see where Jessica had gone.

All she could do and listen as she heard what sounded a beep and then car doors being unlocked. There was a scraping, and then a kathunk, kathunk sound as something heavy fell to the gravel.

Lizzie cringed as she could imagine Sarah or Josh, even Chuck if he got back to that raged induced person she had seen when he had first died, attacking her and that was her falling to the ground. They could be swarming over her, tearing her a part. Even the shadow man could be out there or one of his dead lackies like what had killed Sarah. Anything could be happening and Lizzie was trapped in there powerless to stop it.

Why had she gone out there?

Had Jessica the red rings around her eyes? Lizzie hadn’t noticed, but she couldn’t help but think about when they had been in the parking garage. Jessica hadn’t been acting herself, it was almost like something was influencing her to put herself into a dangerous situation. No, just just any something, the shadow man, he was doing it. He had controlled her then, and now her friend was again in danger.

Lizzie inched closer to the door, wanting desperately to poke her head out and peak around. Her pulse was pounding, and she feel her heart trying to pump its way out of her chest. She tried to listen, but it was hard over the loudness of her own breath and silence of the woods.

Then she heard it. Something was being dragged across gravel.

Lizzie grabbed both sides of the door as though she was getting ready to launch herself out there. She was pacing back and forth, her movements growing more frantic as she wanted to propel herself past the threshold.

She knew Jessica was in trouble. What was it going to take for her to run out there and save her? Was she really going to stand by while another of her friends was killed, this time while there might be something she could do?

She gripped the threshold tighter, preparing herself to run out there. Her mouth was clenched, her teeth threatening to grind down to nothing as she tried to will herself to just do it.

The dragging sound, it was getting closer. What were they going to do, drag Jessica over to her and kill her so she could watch.

Come to think of it, most of the deaths had happened with her watching. Maybe that was one of Shadow man’s things, to have her watch. He did love to torture her. It was like he fed off of her pain, enjoying her suffering at watching those around her die.

I can’t take this anymore. I have to do something.

Her foot crossed the threshold, and she felt that foreboding fear slam into her. It didn’t matter what was out there, she had to hurry. Her friends life was in danger.

She was in the entryway created by the little yawning and turned to rush down when a shadow appeared at the bottom. Her momentum paused as her heart leapt into her throat.

Then the shadow became a person, and Jessica stood at the bottom of the stairs. She was dragging her rolling suitcase, the wheels barely any help in the rough gravel. She stopped short when she saw Lizzie at the top of the stairs.

“Woah, you okay?”

Lizzie didn’t wait. She dashed down the stairs, grabbed Jessica’s free hand and pulled her so they were both rushing to get back inside.

Once they made it past the threshold, Lizzie nearly collapsed on the floor. Instead she made it into the chair and finally allowed herself to burst into tears.

“Liz, what the hell? I just went out to get my suitcase.”

“You could have died.”

“I just went out to my car.”

“Elisabeth and Chuck, they died just at the end of the driveway. Sarah died in that kitchen. Being around me, there isn’t any, ‘just went out to my car’ moments anymore. They’re always out there, and the shadow man, he’s everywhere.”

Jessica let go of the suitcase and lowered herself to look into Liz’s eyes. She grabbed her hands and waited until Liz looked up and their eyes met.

“Liz, I’m not going anywhere. You need to calm down. You’re not the cause for these freak accidents. Okay.”

“You still don’t believe me.”

“I believe you need to stop blaming yourself.”

“You still don’t believe me.”

“Not really, but I’m here for you and I’m going to help you.”

“You need to believe me.”

“Okay, fine. Then I believe you.”

“No, you don’t, but you will.”

Lizzie stood quickly, nearly knocking Jessica out of the way. Before Jessica could say or do anything, Lizzie was at the front door. She rushed outside and was gone, down the stairs and past what was visible with the yawning.

“Come on out you bitch!” Jessica heard Lizzie yell. “Sarah, come and get it!”

Jessica’s mouth dropped as she hurried to catch up to her friend.

Dead Friends: Chapter 36

“What was that all about?” The voice was familiar and Lizzie didn’t have to wait for her eyes to adjust to the dark to know who her savior had been.

“Jess…? What are you doing here?” Lizzie said as she reached to the counter to help her up. As the adrenaline was wearing off, the pain in her knees made throbbed and she could felt little burning cups along her arms and in her palms.

“Really?” Jessica said and there was a bite to her question. That is, seconds before she was attacked by Lizzie who wrapped her arms around her in what was the fiercest hug she could manage.

“I thought you were dead.” Lizzie felt the wetness on her cheeks as it soaked into the sweater her friend was wearing.

“What the hell? You have some serious explaining to do.” Her friend was barely returning the hug, her hands just barely resting on Lizzie’s back as she remained buried in her friend’s chest.

“You’re not dead. Oh thank God you’re not dead. I was so worried about you. Is Dennis okay?”

“What? Of course Dennis is okay. Why wouldn’t he be?”

That’s when Lizzie felt herself being pushed away, and she allowed it, standing up and taking a step back to lean against the counter. She wiped away the tears from her cheeks, and looked at her friend. She couldn’t stop smiling. Jessica was there. She was standing in Lizzie’s kitchen, and she was alive.

That dream Lizzie had, it had been so real. She had been in Jessica’s head and been a part of her while her friend had tried to kick as. She sure as shit had done better than what Lizzie had just done. How had Jessica ever survived that?

Because it hadn’t actually happened. It had just been a dream. Her whole life had drifted away to feel like one long nightmare, just what was real anymore?

“He controls the dark spaces, and dreams lie in those places to live. Beware your dreams.” Lizzie heard the old woman’s voice in her head, reminding her of something Lizzie had forgotten.

“Are you okay?” Jessica said, but she didn’t reach forward and she hadn’t really returned Liz’s hug.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Really? Because I just heard you yelling at someone and then I saw you jumping in the back door as though you were being chased.”

“Thank you for that.” Lizzie couldn’t take the way they were both awkwardly standing there and so she stepped around the island and grabbed a glass by the sink. She filled it with water, already dreading the foul taste of the tap water, but she was doing something and keeping so that Jessica couldn’t see her face.

“For what? I didn’t see anyone. No one was out there.”

“Hey, did you see a large, dark colored car when you pulled in?”

“What? No? Driveway was empty other than Roland’s car. OMG, why did you take his car!?”

Lizzie finished filling the glass and took a drink, keeping herself turned away from Jessica. She didn’t feel like she was ready to face her friend. Inside her was a war of emotions with no clear winner as to how she felt. So instead she was feeling them all, at once and in turns. She wanted to throw the glass against the wall, while crying a river of blood drenched tears and hugging her friend. She wanted to call the floor and ball herself into a corner, and she wanted to stand there hiding her face in her hands.

She wanted to do so much, so instead she did nothing. She stood there and looked at the water as little air bubbles floated in her glass. The water was sour, tasting of both rotten eggs and lead. The pipes were bad, and she’d run out of bottled water days ago.

“Liz?”

Lizzie looked over her shoulder to see that she wasn’t the only one who was having a hard time talking. Jessica stood there, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water, but no sound escaped them. Her eyes were pleading like she wanted an answer but wasn’t even sure what question she should ask first.

“I’m okay. Really.” Lizzie said.

“No, your not.”

“I am,” but even as she said it she knew her friend was right. She wasn’t alright and hadn’t so since the first time she’d entered this house.

“You look like shit.”

“Thank you.”

“No, really. You smell like you have showered in weeks, your still wearing the pants and jeans you wore when I last saw you and you skin is baggy and pale. Have you left this house since Roland died?”

“I told you, I’m fine.”

“Liz, stop it!” The volume and command in Jessica’s voice brought Lizzie up short. “You’re not fine. Don’t lie to me.”

Lizzie was now the one lost for words and stung by her friend’s words. She left the room, no longer able to stay in the kitchen. The house itself now felt small and stuffy and even as she stepped into the dining room it felt like there wasn’t enough room for them. It was making it hard for her to breathe.

“Liz, don’t just walk into the other room. Talk to me.” Jessica followed her into the dining room, but wasn’t as quick to go any further into the room. Lizzie had been trying to clean up the mess she had found in there when she had inherited it, but it was still a mess. There was just so much to go through. She’d read a few of her uncle’s journals, and had read a few of his books on witchcraft.

Those had been harder to follow and she would often find herself looking back at title page wondering why her uncle had gotten the book from the Hammond Public Library in Illinois and just how much of late fees did he owe. The book had been checked out three years ago, did libraries still charge late fees for that long or at some point did they just right the book off? She could just imagine her uncle and now her, owing a thousand dollar late fee for a single book.

Needless to say, there were still piles and piles of books and clutter that made walking through the small rooms difficult. Lizzie had become home to making it through the mess, but Jessica had to work her way through to where she’d gone. It wasn’t far, and with Jessica’s grace, she was standing next to Lizzie as she was looking down at one of the journals. It was bookmarked with a picture of Lizzie’s parents.

“Liz, I know you’ve been through a lot, but you need to talk to someone.”

“Last person I talked to died. Everyones dead. Everyone but you.”

“Liz, you can’t blame yourself.”

Liz refused to look at her friend, but kept her eyes locked on her parents picture. How old were they? It looked like the picture had to have been from before her brother was born as none of the grey had started in her father’s goatee. She’d never seen this picture before and everyone looked so happy. She hadn’t read this journal yet and opened it to the page it marked.

“Can’t I?’

“No, you can’t.” Jessica tried to twist Lizzie around to face her, but Lizzie pulled herself free from Jessica’s grasp.

“You should go.”

“No.”

“I said, you should go. Go, or you’ll be like the rest of them.” Lizzie nodded as she looked over her shoulder towards the window.

“And I said no.” Jessica watched where she was stepping and moved to stand in front of the window Lizzie had turned to. Briefly their eyes met, and Lizzie quickly turned away, fighting to hold back more tears. She cried a lot, and she felt like she needed to stop doing it so much.

“You’ll die. They all do.”

“Liz, come on. Do you know how crazy that sounds.”

Liz just laughed. If only her friend knew the realms of crazy Lizzie had started to call home. Her life was nothing but crazy.

She looked around her, knowing that what she was looking for would be nearby. Jessica watched her, though Liz knew she was growing impatient. Why wouldn’t she just leave? Liz had told her to go, and it would be for her own safety. She needed to get Jessica out of there, but maybe she could explain some of it to her. Maybe her friend would even understand.

Lizzie remembered why she hadn’t told Jessica everything the last time they had seen each other. Lizzie had still thought she could live a normal life then. Well, normal as she could with dead people constantly with her, yelling in her ear when she tried to have conversations with people.

Lizzie found the diary she was looking for. It was the first one, the oldest of them all. She briefly turned the pages until she found where her uncle was talking about losing his wife and her coming back to him. She quickly skimmed through the pages, running her fingers across the tear stained paper before she handed it over to Jessica.

“Here.”

“What’s this?” Jessica took the book and just briefly looked at it before looking back to Liz.

“It’s my uncle’s diary. It talks about his introduction to all this craziness.”

“What does your uncle have to do with anything? You just inherited his house and money, not his insanity.”

“Sometimes crazy isn’t so crazy when your on the inside.”

“What? Is that like, if your crazy, you don’t know your crazy?”

“Something like that. Just read it.”

Lizzie left her friend there and went back into the kitchen. She wasn’t sure she could eat anything. There wasn’t much too eat, she was down to the last few can goods that had been there when she’d moved into the house, but her stomach was hurting. She vaguely remembered eating last night and it had been a long day since then. She needed to eat before she passed out. It would be hard, it was twisted in knots and the last thing she felt was hungry.

Jessica followed her, the book unread in her hands.

“Liz, I don’t care what happened to your uncle. I’m worried about you. You can’t stay out here. It’s not healthy, I mean just look at you.” Jessica held up her free hand as if indicating that Lizzie’s appearance was proof of some point, and maybe it was. When was the last time she’d showered?

She opened the cabinets and found the two remaining cans. One was for Spaghetti O’s and the other was canned soup. She ignored the soup and grabbed the fake pasta.

“Ew, really?”

Lizzie popped the top and tossed it into the sink while grabbing a spoon off the counter. It looked clean. Well, clean enough…

She forced a bite, still not enjoying the rolling around in her stomach and looked up at her friend.

“What? I’m hungry. Read the damn passage.”

“At least wipe your mouth.”

Lizzie had felt the dribble on the corner of her mouth but had been talking. What would it take to get Jessica to read it. So of course Lizzie didn’t care if a little had hit her cheek, she wanted Jessica to read the damned thing, and motioned so using the spoon.

“What’s so damned important in this?” Jessica held up the book, her finger marking the page Lizzie had opened it to, so at least she was curious.

“It’s about Sarah.”

“Really?” Jessica looked at the pages. “This book has to over be five years old. How is this about Sarah?”

“It’s about what happened to his wife. It happened to Sarah.”

“So what? You have to let it go. There was nothing you could have done. My God Liz, do you really think your responsible for what that bastard did? Is that why your hiding out here?” Jessica put down the book and stepped over to Liz, her arms wide for a hug. “You didn’t do anything. You’re not the reason Sarah or Roland died.”

“You’re wrong.” Lizzie said, fighting to hold back the tears. It was getting easier as less tears threatened. Maybe she didn’t care anymore, or maybe she was just past the point where tears came at every time she thought about their deaths. Maybe she could even tell Jessie what’s been going on without becoming a complete wreck.

Lizzie knew she was being silly about it. As soon as she opened her mouth, she knew it would be a mistake. Jessica would never believe her, and she would either think she was nuts or… No, there wasn’t anything else she would think, but maybe then she would leave and be safe. That’s what Jessica needed to do. She needed to get out of there before the shadow man did his voodoo, heebie jeebie, killing thing.

“Jess, you’re in danger and the longer your here, something could happen. Please, just go.”

Jessica dropped her arms, giving up on the hug that Lizzie never stepped into, and they both stood there studying one another.

“No.” Jessica said. Lizzie was taken aback by Jessica’s stern look.

“Yes, please.”

“No. I’m not going. You need me. I brought my bag with me. I’m not leaving you out here all alone.”

“Jess, you can’t do this.”

“Yes I can. I’m taking a break from school and I’d already quit my job, so yeah, I’m staying.”

Lizzie looked at Jessica and noticed that Jessica was wearing more make up than usual. It seemed especially heavy under her eyes, like where a woman would cake it on if she was hiding a black eye, or something else. Had Dennis been beating on her? Did she need a place to hide out?

Oh my God, if he has been hitting her, I’m going to kill him. It flashed through her mind so quickly she wasn’t even sure the thought was hers. Even as she thought it though, she couldn’t believe it and had that feeling that something else was going on.

“Jess, is everything alright?” Lizzie set down the can of Spagetti O’s, untouched since that first spoonful and stepped forward, taking Jessica into a hug. Jessica resisted, her back straight for a briefest of moments before she put her arms around Liz.

“I’m fine. I’m just worried about you.”

“Dennis hasn’t hit you, has he?” The hug was gone and Jessica nearly jumped back out of Lizzies arms, her eyes wide.

“What? Where did you get that idea?”

“Well, Your, Um? Why would you quit your job.”

“I quit because that asshole, Tony, tried to feel me up.”

“Did he hit you?”

“No, but I nearly dropped his ass there in the center of the store. No, no, where in the hell did you get the idea that someone hit me.”

“Your eyes.”

“What about my eyes?”

“Um, I don’t know. It’s just..”

“I’ve been having trouble sleeping. That okay with you?”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I think I’d notice if someone had hit me. I don’t regularly go out looking for fights and I don’t let people hit me.”

“Okay. You’d tell me if someone had right?”

“Liz, this isn’t about me. I’m here because you just disappeared. How could you just run off like that.”

Lizzie let Jessica go and step back to collapse into the counter, her legs weak and her chin dropping to her chest.

“I watched Roland die.”

“What, did he have a seizure or something? Did you call the paramedics? Wait, why were you in the same room with him? Did you guys..?”

“I watched it kill him. Most the others he didn’t do it directly, but he seemed to be telling me something when he killed him. It smiled at me. I could feel it. It wanted me to see it.”

“Liz, what are you talking about?”

“The shadow man, or sometimes I think of it as the Tic-Toc man. He’s not a man though. It is death, and it surrounds me.”

“When did you get so poetic.”

Lizzie looks to Jessica, their eyes locking on one another. Lizzie has an expression Jessica isn’t sure she’s ever seen on her friend. She’d seen her intense, so focused when working on a project that she would tune out the world around her, and that was the closed Jessica could relate this look too. No, there was something more to it than that. There was a hatred burning with intensity and focus that twisted with obsession, and all of that made her look fierce.

“Poetry is dead as life is around me. The shadow man is real, it is a monster hell bent on spreading darkness, and it is using me to try and do it.”

“Maybe I should leave. I think I need to get you some help. You know the police are looking for you. Your brother too. Maybe they can get you what you need.”

“I’m not crazy. I thought that at first. I thought I was losing my mind. I’m not though. There’s this thing, and no one seems to know how to stop it. I don’t, but I need to find out. It wants us all. Just somehow, it is trapped here, and I seem to be it’s anchor and food source. It started long before Sarah and even my uncle.”

Lizzie nodded towards the book. She hadn’t noticed when Jessica had set it down on the counter.

“Lizz…”

“It started for me the day Sarah and I came here. Sarah was killed by a dead man who had dug himself out of his own grave. I thought that would be the last time I seen her. Later that night, she came back to me, and has been here ever since.”

“Wait, your saying you’ve been seeing her ghost?”

Lizzie shook her head, and then went on to tell her friend everything. It would be the second time she’d told anyone. Maybe this time Jessica would live long enough to help her.

Dead Friends: Chapter 34

She was back in the apartment building, the walls covered in graffiti that changed every time she was there. It was the dream again. The nightmare that always tried to explain something to her that she never quite understood.

Again there was the rustling of the plastic, carried on wind she didn’t feel. It was all the same, and always the same. She didn’t even bother with looking into the plastic room to see the darkness hiding there. It was where the shadow man stayed when he was not tearing apart her life.

She walked right past it, and straight to the apartment door. It was numbered 23. Strange, she didn’t remember the number before. What had been on the door before. She felt like she had looked at it, but thinking about past trips down this hall were blurred into obscurity. She wasn’t sure if she had ever looked at the dark red door or not.

It opened for her when she turned the knob and she walked effortlessly into the room. Inside, the old woman was sitting there in her chair, drinking something that looked like tea. It was steaming, hot and fresh and the old woman was blowing on it before each sip. In the kitchen, Lizzie could hear someone moving around and the clang as though they were putting away pots and pans. Maybe the granddaughter was back there after having just served her grandmother.

The old woman looked up at Lizzie as she entered, a look of shock on her face, but she didn’t spill her tea. No matter how much the old woman’s hands shook either from some illness or the effort of being there, the tea never spilt. Lizzie had a quick thought, wondering if that was the case in the real world, and wasn’t sure if she would ever find out.

“You are here?” She asked and Lizzie didn’t know why she did it, but as she entered the room, she turned and closed the door behind her.

“I guess so.” She said as she turned back to face the woman. There was something different this time and she could feel it. She didn’t have that tension she normally felt when she was there. Sure it was a dream, but even in a dream, your heart can race and you can feel fear. That was how nightmares could kill you, by scaring you to death. This wasn’t like that. This was, calmer, more relaxed. She didn’t feel like she was rushing, and when she closed the door, it wasn’t to keep something from getting to them. It was simply, she realized, out of courtesy.

“You are here, while I believe it is at its weakest. Smart. Maybe now you will come to me…” The woman said, but as she spoke her voice trailed off. Lizzie realized that the woman didn’t mean to say what she had just said. Lizzie didn’t know why, but she suddenly didn’t trust the old woman as much as she had on previous visits. Without all the tension, she could focus on thinking, not being rushed. The woman no longer felt like her savior before being eaten alive. No, now Lizzie felt like she had been running from a bear just to run into a wolf’s den and was standing before the open mouth of the Alpha, staring down its long row of teeth.

Before, she had longed and looked to the old woman as being a way to save her, but why did this old woman care about her. What was she getting out of helping Lizzie?

“You are here, but something is different. You aren’t where you normally are. There is something near you, something just as dark, as dangerous as it is.” The old woman said, squinting as she was studying Lizzie. Lizzie thought about turning around, and running back out of the door. Where would she run? To the darkness down the hall? Where else did she have to go?

“What do you mean?” Lizzie approached the old woman cautiously. The woman in the kitchen was stirring something in a pot. Lizzie didn’t know how she knew it was a woman, but realized that she did and knew who it was. It was the woman she had seen on the street when she had been with Jessica. It had been the one they tried to save. The one who had screamed at her and ran away in terror, but what was she doing there?

That was when Lizzie realized she could smell something too. It was lingering in the room, like that of burnt meat. It didn’t smell right, the meat smelled sour, like it had rotted. It mixed with the fragrance of piss wafting in from the hallway and Lizzie was sure that had this not been a dream, she would be gagging.

The old woman seemed to notice Lizzie’s discomfort, and then somehow all the offending smells were gone.

“Sorry about that. Normally I am prepared for you. I have to be, to fight it as long as I do. You caught me off guard. Wasn’t ready.”

“I’ve taken naps during the day before. Why had you not come then?”

“I don’t know. Something is different this time. This time, you found me.”

“Why? How?”

“Maybe your mind is getting used to the connection. Maybe you are starting to seek me out when you sleep. Could be many things. Some things we may never know.” The old woman said as she took a long drink of her cooling tea. It stained her lips when she drank as when she pulled the cup away, they were red from the thick liquid.

“So why am I here? I remember you. I remember dreaming of you, but why?”

“You are cursed. Your family is cursed. I can not say much more. It is weakened during the day as it is a creature of dark, but It is not sleeping and is not powerless. I still can not say too much. You must come find me.”

“How? Where? I don’t know who are you.” Lizzie couldn’t help but keep glancing at the cup. She assumed it was tea, maybe coffee, but neither stained your lips red. What was in that cup?

“I can not tell you that. He is waiting for me too. He will strike then as he had done before.”

“He?”

“He, It. It is whatever it chooses. For your uncle, it often took the shape of a woman to torture him. For you, it molests you as a he.”

“Why?”

“He is a trickster. I tell you this every time and you must remember it. He plays by only rules he designs. You cannot trust what you know of him. He plays with your mind not because he needs to but because he enjoys it. He feeds off the dead, he does not need you to fear him. That he does for his own pleasure. He is old like myself. He get bored. He entertains himself with your suffering, I think.”

“Okay, so how do I stop this? How do I get my life back?” Lizzie said this and took a step forward towards the old woman. She dropped down to one knee and was about to reach out and grasp the woman’s hands in desperation with her plea, but stopped herself as the smell of copper caught her attention. She again looked at the now half empty cup. There were red stains on the rim of the glass. Dark red. It looked like blood.

The old woman smiled as she took another long sip.

The sounds coming from the other room stopped and Lizzie suddenly had the sense that someone was listening to them. Someone or something. Before she had known that the person in the kitchen was that girl Lizzie had seen, the one she knew of as this woman’s granddaughter though she couldn’t remember how she knew that. Now she wasn’t so sure as she saw the old woman tense at the silence in the room.

“I cannot tell you. Not here. You must seek me out, but for now you must go.”

“But how do I find you?”

“Silly girl, look around you. I’m not hard to find.” The woman was laughing, and the red liquid dripped down from the side of her lips. Maybe Lizzie was wrong and this wasn’t a dream as it sure felt like it was quickly becoming a nightmare. At any time she felt like the old woman would stand up and start chasing after her.

Was everyone in her life evil? How had she fallen into such a world of darkness. She didn’t know who to trust. She had thought this woman would help her.

Lizzie hurried out into the hall, escaping the sudden chill she had felt in the room. The goosebumps from her arm had spread throughout her body and she had to control herself from shivering.

Back in the hallway she had the deja by sensation. It wasn’t the same as when she had gone in. She felt like something should be there, something she was afraid of, something that always chased her down the hall. This was when the darkness would be after her, and she thought she could feel a taint of its presence.

No, it wasn’t there. She felt the pull again to the plastic covered room but she ignored it. She just stood there, looking around. Actually she wasn’t sure where to go. This is where the dream would usually end. She would leave the apartment and get chased. Without the chaser, she wasn’t sure what to do.

On the wall across from the apartment was a myriad of graffiti. Whenever she came there she would read what was scrawled there, usually something dark written in large letters covering much of the wall. It was hard not to notice it, but as she looked closer at it, there was more to the graffiti than she had noticed before. There were other sayings that were smaller, some written under the larger dark sayings and some integrated into it.

As she looked, she saw that much of it was written in a beautiful letters, painted in a bright blue. There were poems of the light and of peaceful dreams. Poems about flowers, green grass fields, and a calm river during the morning dawn. Then she noticed it. Hidden small amongst the lovely writings was an address.

The old woman’s words came back to her, “Silly girl, look around you.”

Lizzie started to chant the address to herself, afraid she would forget it as the world around her slipped away.

****

Lizzie woke up on the floor of the barn and shivered from the chill. She saw her breath as it left her mouth, the mist swirling around her face. She hadn’t remembered it being this cold before, and now it seeped into her. Her jeans felt wet beneath her and she wasn’t sure of them really being moist or if it was due to the cold floor beneath her.

Slowly she stood, using the door behind her to guide her up while she wrapped her arms around her. Her head felt heavy, her thinking slow as the realm of dreams struggled to keep hold.

She was still chanting the address. She realized it, and moved faster, looking around her frantic until she came across the pad of paper on a side workbench near the back of the room. She hurried towards it and wrote down the address.

“Wha la!” She exclaimed, happy with herself that she had finally remembered something important from the dream. Then her happiness evaporated as she remembered the woman, laughing at her, blood covering her teeth and lips as Lizzie had rushed to flee the apartment. Was this really the woman she would hope to have some answers for her? She was relying on her to be her salvation.

What was the woman’s motivation for helping her? Why was so willing to get involved with the darkness. She had to have a reason. Everyone had an angle. She wasn’t going to just, lift this curse from her out of the goodness of her heart.

Could she trust this woman? Lizzie wasn’t sure of the answer.

She looked up from the pad of paper and at the curtain she was now, much closer to, having rushed over to the paper.

It wasn’t a curtain. It wasn’t anything. It was pur darkness. No matter how many lights were in the barn, the back half was lost to it.

She was much closer to it than she now felt comfortable. It was, unsettling. How had she not noticed before that there was nothing. Not nothing in the way that the room was empty, but the room was completely gone. This wasn’t right, and she suddenly worried that she was going to get pulled into it.

It was drawing her closer to it. It wanted her to be a part of it. It was why the paper had been so close to it. The darkness had moved it. She sensed that her uncle would never have been so close to it. All the workbenches were empty this close to it. It had been the one to move to the pad of paper.

Lizzie, that’s insane. Your losing it again. Take a deep breath. It’s just a curtain. You’ll see. But, it might not be a bad idea to go back into the cabin.

Lizzie stepped away from it and back to the door. Her feet felt heavy, her body slow to leave the darkness behind.

“It’s where the shadow man is from” said another voice inside her head. This one different, a stronger voice that felt like it was more than her own thoughts. She didn’t know why, but she trusted it and believed it. This is the darkness she had felt when she had tried to stop it. Somehow this was the darkness from the time before the light was formed in this world.

She opened the door to the barn, wanting to hurry back to the cabin, when she stopped. It was snowing outside. It was the first fall snow but there was already enough of it to coat the ground in a layer of white.

It seemed to early for snow as it hadn’t been that cold before today. Now the temperature had significantly dropped and there was snow.

She looked to the couple of dead people walking around the house. They grew bored, she could tell, and while they hated her for what she had done, they also tried to keep themselves busy. Elisabeth and Josh were currently walking, hand in hand. She noticed that her dead friends didn’t leave footprints in the snow. That was interesting as the undead things had definitely felt real enough to kick her ass.

So the dead didn’t leave foot prints… Well, if they didn’t, then whose footprints did she see walking around her house, up to the back door and then continuing on?

Someone else was there…