Dead Friends: Chapter 49

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tinkerbell…

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

And Sarah hadn’t…

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

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

How would she know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I can’t lift you.”

“Get.. Chair”

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

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

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

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

“Liz- stop… tinker.”

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

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

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

“I told you not to call me that.”

“Then.. listen.. next time.”

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

“I.. I’m not..here.” Sarah said.

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

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

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

They weren’t in her uncles house…

Then where?

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

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

“Are you dying? What is happening?”

Sarah shook her head.

“Al- dead…”

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

“Not.. back. Trapped.” Sarah wheezes.

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

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

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

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

“I… am.” She said.

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

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

What was it? What do you feel?

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

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

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

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

“I thought you were dead.”

“Am-” Sarah wheezes.

“But, really gone.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Friends: Chapter 48

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

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

I had kerosene lamps in the house…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had to do something. I had to think.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

Maybe I should just commit myself to a psych ward.

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

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

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

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

Just don’t think about it then…

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

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

****

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

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

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

He also wrote about darkness and a well…

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

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

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

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

Dead Friends: Tagline

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

Her friends were dead…

Lizzie was still alive…

They wanted to correct that…

Killed by a curse-

Lizzies dead friends surround her…

She is still alive…

They died only because they knew her…

Now they want their revenge…

What are your houghts?

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

Dead Friends: Chapter 45

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

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

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

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

“It doesn’t really feel contained.”

Jessica nodded her head in agreement.

“Jes, what am I going to do?”

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

“We need to get a priest involved.”

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

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

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

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

“So God is holding me prisoner here?”

“That’s not what I said.”

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

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

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

“Jess?”

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

Jessica stands up. She’s glares are Lizzie.

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

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

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

“You can’t honestly believe that.”

“I do.”

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

“What did you just say?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where?”

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

“Come on. You need to lie down.”

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

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

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

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

“How can you say that?”

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

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

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

“Wha?”

“Where does she live?”

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

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

“Please don’t. I can’t lose you too.”

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was going to ruin Jessica.

You could always not tell her?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Friends: Chapter 44

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Friends: Chapter 43

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See how easy it is to lose your mind?

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

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

Was I wrong about the shadow woman…

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

“So what is it?”

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

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

Did he write that shortly before he killed himself?

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

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

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

Dead Friends: Chapter 42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I want you to get something for me.”

“I can’t.”

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

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

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

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

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

It went to the door and closed it.

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

Dead Friends: Chapter 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