Saturday, December 13, 2008
Sam Deveroux sat up quickly. He gasped for breath and looked around. The morning light bathed the porch he was sitting on. He had his sleeping bag draped over him. The memories of what had happened flooded back to him and he quickly clutched at himself. His shirt had been removed, and much to his surprise, he was fine. He remembered being stabbed, but there wasn’t a mark on him.
“What the hell?” He said astonished. He went to stand up, but felt his legs give under him. He felt a firm grip on his arm. It was Adrian.
“Easy, Sam.” Adrian helped Sam to his feet. The uneasiness quickly passed and Sam steadied himself. “How are you feeling?”
“Tired.” Sam admitted. “What the hell…”
“Later.” Adrian said flatly while looking past Sam. Sam turned to see his teammates approaching across the yard of the Krenshaw House. Randy Sullivan wearing his letterman jacket and a pair of beat up jeans was leading the pack. Sam looked down to see that all of his things were beside him on the porch. He reached into his pack back and pulled out the light jacket that he had packed. He looked at Adrian. Adrian was staring at him, his eyes pleading for Sam not to tell his friends what had happened last night.
“I’m going to want an explanation.”
“You’ll get one. I promise. Just…” Adrian’s voice trailed off.
“Not in front of them.”
“Alright.” Sam nodded and turned to his approaching teammates. He put on his best fake smile, and Adrian did likewise.
“Well, all right!” Randy bellowed with a smile and started clapping. The others joined the applause. It ceased soon and Randy climbed the stairs onto the porch. “Looks like you both made it.” Randy noticed that Sam’s shirt was missing. “Although I have to say, your lack of shirt is disturbing.”
“Ah, I ended up tearing the stupid thing. It got caught on something when we were crawling in through the window.” Sam answered calmly, and it seemed to satisfy Randy.
“How about you, Reese?” Randy asked with a smile. “You have as much fun as you thought you would?”
“Not really. Next time I’ll have to bring a more comfortable sleeping bag.”
“That dull, eh?” Randy inquired, only to be answered with a nonchalant shrug. Randy laughed. “Yeah. I was bored off my ass too when I stayed in there. Alright Reese, I still think you’re a weird-o, but you’re an okay weird-o.” Randy clapped his hands together. “Part of the tradition is buying you guys breakfast. Who’s hungry?”
“I could eat.” Adrian said and offered the best smile he could muster.
“Yeah.” Sam was growing more and more aware of the emptiness in his stomach. “I’m actually really hungry.”
There was a small restaurant just under a mile away from the Krenshaw House. I group spent the walk over there laughing and talking. Sam and Adrian were quiet for the most part. They responded well enough when spoken to. They did not laugh at any of the jokes that were being tossed around. Despite being the ‘guests of honor’ no one seemed to notice.
The restaurant was cozy and had a good selection for breakfast. The staff was expecting the group and they were greeted with smiles and quickly shown to enough tables to accommodate them. Sam and Adrian sat across from each other. They both ordered a hearty breakfast and both ate in near silence. Every so often they would look up at each other only to go back to their meals.
“Hey Adrian.” Randy called over from the table he was sitting at. “We cool? I know I gave you a hard time.”
“Yeah, it’s fine.” Adrian nodded as he answered.
“So, what’s up with that necklace? It’s pretty weird, man.” Randy’s gaze fell on the medallion that hung around Adrian’s neck.
“Family heirloom. It’s got a lot of sentimental value, and I like to keep it close.”
“Alright.” Randy nodded and finished his breakfast. The boys finished eating and settled their bill. They started for the door, when Randy noticed Sam and Adrian had not moved. “Yo Sam. You comin’? We’ve got practice in an hour.”
“I’ll meet you guys there.” Sam responded with a smile and a nod.
“Have fun with your new boyfriend!” One of the other players called. There was more laughter as the boys exited. This left Sam and Adrian staring at each other at the table.
“I don’t know who they were.” Adrian started.
“But they were after you.” Sam responded.
“No they were after this.” Adrian tapped the medallion with his finger.
“Why?” Sam demanded more than asked.
“Ok.” Adrian said after a pause. “I’m going to tell you the truth because you more than deserve it.” He held up the medallion. “This is a Heart’s Blood Medallion. There’s only five of them, so they’re valuable.”
“Those guys looked damn weird for dudes just looking to rob a couple of guys.”
“It’s also very powerful.”
“What do you mean ‘powerful’?”
“Sam, you saw those guys last night. You know they weren’t… right.”
“I really got stabbed, didn’t I?” Sam took a deep breath and remembered not being able too.
“How…” Before Sam could finish his question, Adrian tapped the medallion again with his finger. “I remember you saying something.”
“It was Latin. I know how to invoke the power in this thing. I was able to get rid of those guys. I was able to heal you.”
“If you could have gotten rid of them, then why didn’t you do it sooner, like before I got a knife stuck in me twice?”
“I don’t care.”
“Fine. The short of it is using the medallion is dangerous and could have killed me.” Adrian stared directly as Sam who fell silent. He struggled to take it all in. The lack of any other explanation made it easier. “You were dying. They would have killed me. Not much choice in the matter.”
“Alright.” Sam drummed his fingers on the table. One question was burning in his mind. He was sure he already knew the answer. “Someone killed your parents to try to get that thing.”
Adrian Reese paused and looked at Sam Deveroux for a moment.
“They same guys as last night?”
“So people… or whatever, are going to keep coming until they get it and probably kill you too.”
“Yeah, that’s about it. Sam, I understand if you want to stay as far away from me a possible after this.” Adrian said flatly as Sam stood up. Both of them were silent for a while as Sam pondered what had happened and all the information Adrian had given him. For a brief moment, Sam thought about walking out and never speaking to Adrian again. He knew that if everything he had been told was true then the young man in front of him was as good as dead as was anyone who was near him. The odds were horribly stacked against Adrian Reese. Sam hated that.
“You need anything: ask.” Sam said as he turned to the door to leave.
This month's artist: This month we get treated to the artwork of Dan Nokes. Dan is the creator of THE PARANORMALS from 21st Century Sandshark. Check him out!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Adrian grabbed Sam’s sleeve and clutched fiercely at it. The shapes of whatever was on the other side of the old distorted window were coming closer very quickly. More noise came from the room that the front door of the Krenshaw House led into. They both backed away from the window that had been their entrance.
“Oh God.” Adrian muttered. His face betrayed his fear.
“What is it? What do we do?” Sam looked quickly around. He felt as though the threat was all around him. Even though they were the only one’s in the room he felt suddenly claustrophobic. He struggled to maintain normal breathing.
“Run!” Adrian ordered as the window shattered. Arms were reaching in, grasping for handholds. The boys fled the room quickly.
They made it only a few steps into the next room when two men descended upon them. Sam could not make out their features in the darkness. He knew they were larger than he and Adrian. They said nothing, which Sam found unnerving. Sam lashed out, thrusting with his palm like he had done so many times on the football field. The strike landed solidly and his attacker was knocked backward. The man quickly regained his composure. Sam did not let up and threw a punch. He had not punched anyone since elementary school. Still the blow landed and Sam followed it with another one.
He could not tell how much effect his blows were having, but it was certainly stopping the man from grabbing him. Not wanting to tarry long with his opponent, he rushed forward and thrust out with both hands. The man stumbled backwards and fell over. Sam took the opportunity to see what was happening to Adrian.
The other man that had attacked him had a grip on Adrian from behind. Adrian was flailing and thrashing wildly, hoping to shake the man loose. Sam rushed to help his comrade, as more men entered the room. Sam could make out two more, but still could not spot anything distinguishing about them.
Adrian cried out in rage and swung his elbow behind him hard. There was a dull thud as the man reeled from catching the blow directly in his face. He gave out a low grunt, as Sam seized the man. Sam’s first instincts were to take the fight to the ground, due to his wrestling background. Sam decided against it and spun around, whipping Adrian’s attacker around with him. The man stumbled toward his accomplices; giving Sam and Adrian a chance to flee.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” Sam shouted as they ran past the stairs towards the kitchen. There was a back door on the other side of the kitchen. Sam was hoping their attackers had not gotten to it yet.
His hopes were dashed when they got the doorway to the kitchen. The door had been broken open. Neither young man had heard it in all the commotion. Three men were visible in the dim moonlight that shown through the windows. Their clothing was nothing remarkable: rough jackets over t-shirts and tank tops along with jeans on each of them. Sam tried to look at their faces. There was something wrong with their faces. Their eyes looked like they were shining in the darkness. Their skin was wrinkled, as if there were a slight excess of it, and is shone in the moonlight as if it were wet.
“The stairs.” Adrian said flatly. Taking the cue, Sam ran back towards the stairs, with Adrian right behind him. The men that had attacked them were at the foot of the stairs. They stood in the darkness waiting to grab the boys as they approached. Sam spotted them and quickly picked up speed, rushing towards them. They moved as if surprised, and that was all the opening Sam Deveroux needed.
Sam crashed into the man in front, shoving as hard as he could. This knocked the lead man into the others, giving the boys enough room to begin up the stairs. The three men from the kitchen were in close pursuit.
The stairway curved as it led to the second floor. Sam followed Adrian up as fast as they were both able. About halfway up, Adrian’s foot crashed through one of the aged steps, and he sunk to mid-calf.
“No! Dammit!” Adrian cursed as he struggled to free his leg. Sam caught up to Adrian and grabbed his companion’s arm, pulling in hopes of freeing him. Sam glanced back and saw their pursuers closing in. With a cry of pain, Adrian pulled his leg loose. Sam spun around and grabbed the banister for support. It shook in his grip as he kicked out at one of the men. The kick did not land very well, but the uneven footing of the steps caused both Sam and the one he kicked to fall. Ever the athlete, Sam quickly got his feet under him again and bolted with Adrian up the stairs.
“Your leg?” Sam asked as they looked around the upstairs hallway. The hallway was in the same condition as the downstairs. The old plaster was cracked and fallen in many places. The hardwood floor was warped, and creaked with their footfalls.
“Hurts. Make for the front of the house, maybe we can get out onto the porch roof.” Both boys sprinted down the hall hoping they were going in the right direction. There was no window at the end of the hall and both young men nearly collided into the wall in the darkness. They could not tell how far away their attackers were, but they sounded close. Their footfalls echoed through the ancient halls. Adrian found a door and with a turn of the knob and a hard shove, the door swung open.
The room had many windows and the moonlight lit it fairly well. They entered quickly and Sam slammed the door shut behind them. Sam pressed himself against the door to try to hold them off. The room was as barren as the others, with nothing to barricade the door with. Out the window was the porch roof.
“Quick, get a window open!” Sam called out, as he felt someone slam against the other side of the warped old door. Sam dug in and held firm, pressing his back against the door. Adrian grabbed one of the old window sashes and with one hard pull the entire sash came loose in his hands. They were both surprised by their luck.
“As soon as they open the door I’ll throw it at them!” Adrian said quickly, raising the sash up to throw. He hoped the glass would shatter, slowing them enough for him and Sam to escape.
“Right, let’s…” Sam was prepared to spring away from the door to give Adrian a clear shot. Before he could he felt a sudden sharp pain in his lower back. His voice caught in his throat. Something had stabbed him. His mind raced and reeled. He was unable to speak. He cried out and stumbled away from the door. He reached around himself, clutching at the pain. His back felt wet.
Adrian was yelling, but Sam could not hear it. He looked towards Adrian and saw him throw the window sash. He then looked towards the doorway and saw the glass shatter on the first one who had entered. Sam was starting to hear yelling. He felt unable to walk, and was trying very hard not to fall down. He looked to Adrian who was yelling something Sam could not make out. Adrian was waving frantically for Sam to come to the window.
Then Sam looked back towards the door. One of the strange looking men was rushing towards him. Sam wanted to run, but felt like he was in dream and could not. The man had something in his hand. Sam was beginning to feel numb, but the sudden fierce pain of the knife being buried into his stomach drove away the numbness for a moment. Then it returned. Sam sank to the floor.
He saw Adrian reaching for him. He saw the men closing in on Adrian. Adrian was backing away from them. He felt very cold and tired. Sam’s eyes slowly closed. He did not want them to, but was powerless to stop it. The last thing he saw before he fell into darkness was the men reaching for Adrian. The last thing he heard was Adrian’s voice.
“Ego precor vos!”
About the artist: This month's guest artist is the amazing Sophy Tuttle. Click her name on the link list to check out more of her amazing works!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
It did not move. As much as Sam and Adrian watched it, it did not move. Sam did not know if they were looking at it for seconds or minutes. Time became meaningless in the struggle for his mind to cope with what he was witnessing. For a brief moment he thought it was a trick. Perhaps some prank his teammates had planned for the two of them. He knew that it could not exist, but somewhere in his gut he knew.
It was a ghost.
It was as though it was made of dim, glowing gas given a shape. The shape was that of a woman. It was hard to tell her age, but she seemed elderly. She wore a dress that hid most of her body and would have drug on the floor had the vision before them not faded into nothing the lower it got. It stood there and just watched the boys. The expression on its face was stern, like an angry parent who had just found her children misbehaving.
Sam sat up in his sleeping bag and looked at Adrian who knelt next to him in the dim light. Adrian studied the apparition before them, and if he was panicked at all by it, Sam could not tell. Sam suddenly felt like an interloper in a scene playing out between the two of them.
Adrian stood up, not taking his gaze from the spirit. The spirit’s gaze seemed to follow Adrian. Sam could not make out the spirit’s eyes, so it was difficult to be certain who it was looking at. Sam sat frozen, unsure of what to do next.
“Ms. Krenshaw?” Adrian asked calmly. Sam’s eyes grew wide as he stared at his companion. He could not believe Adrian was talking to it.
The spirit seemed to nod, but was otherwise motionless. Adrian took a step forward. At that point Sam started to scramble, grabbing for his shoes. Adrian waved to him in a silent order to be still. Sam froze again.
“We’re sorry to intrude, ma’am. We didn’t know anyone was here.”
“And why shouldn’t anyone be here?” The spirit said suddenly, with voice that sounded too human to be coming from a ghost.
“Holy God, it talks!” Sam exclaimed.
“I will thank you not to take the Lord’s name in vain, young man.” The spirit turned its gaze directly to Sam. The temperature in the room started to drop and the house seemed to come to life with the creaking and groaning of wood.
“He didn’t mean it, ma’am! Honest!” Adrian said to it and then quickly turned to Sam. “Quick, say you’re sorry.” Even in the dim light, Sam could see the deadly seriousness in Adrian’s face.
“I’m sorry, ma’am! I didn’t mean it!” Sam said quickly. The spirit’s gaze stayed on Sam, but the noises ceased. The temperature warmed back up to normal. Sam labored to control his breathing, as he slowly pulled his shoes on and got to his feet.
“Now,” The apparition spoke curtly as if losing patience with the two youths, “the two of you will tell me what your are doing in my home.” Sam could not make out if the phantom’s lips were actually moving, but he heard the voice clearly enough. “I’ve been having trouble with hooligans coming into my home and I won’t stand for it.”
“We’re not hooligans, ma’am.” Adrian answered quickly.
“No ma’am, not us.” Sam backed is companion.
“Its just folks haven’t heard from you in quite a while. We just came up here to make sure you were all right.” Adrian’s statement earned him a look from Sam. Adrian glanced back at him. They both knew the lie was a feeble one at best. However, the temperature in the room was remaining constant and no noises emanated from the house.
“Hmph!” The phantom grunted indignantly. “And who are you two to come here out of the goodness of your hearts to visit upon an old woman?”
“My name is Adrian Reese, and this is my friend, Sam Deveroux.”
“Deveroux?” The ghost moved now heading straight for Sam. Before either young man could react it was inches away from him. Sam froze again, his voice caught in his throat. Adrian started to move, but stopped when the spirit did. Sam’s eyes were fixed upon the spirit, staring into the whirling void where its eyes should have been. “Are you kin to Davis Deveroux, the tailor?”
“Um.” Sam stammered as his mind rocketed for a proper answer. Davis Deveroux had been Sam’s great great grandfather. Sam did not know how to tell the spirit that.
“Yes, yes.” The ghost said, moving away from him. “I can see it. You favor him a bit. I did not know he had children. A good Christian man, as I recall. Yes. Kind of him to send you to check up on an old lady like myself.”
“Its… my pleasure, ma’am.” Sam responded. He could see Adrian smiling and nodding his approval. Sam determined that he would have a long talk about this with Adrian once it was over. He knew his friends would not begin to believe what was happening to him. He barely believed it himself.
“You however, young Master Reese,” The spirit turned to Adrian quickly and spoke very sternly. Sam felt the temperature begin to drop again. No noises accompanied the chill this time. “You, young man, have brought something into my home that you should not have.”
“No ma’am!” Adrian responded quickly.
“Adrian!” Sam said fighting back panic.
“Do not presume to lie to me in my own home, boy!” The voice snapped like a horsewhip and the temperature plummeted. The sound of wood creaking was faint, but growing louder. “I know what it is you have! They have told me!”
“Who?” Adrian demanded more than asked. “Who told you?”
“They want it back, Master Reese! They are very angry, and they want it back!”
“Who are they?” Adrian’s breath was visible in the air as he shouted his query.
“They curse you! They curse you as they did your father!”
“My father?” The words stabbed through Adrian and Sam could see it on his face. “Who are they?” He demanded again. Sam’s fear threatened to overwhelm him. He was ready to grab Adrian and flee the Krenshaw House.
“They have come for you, Adrian James Reese!” A chill cut through both the youths and not from the dropping temperature. For the first time Sam saw fear upon Adrian’s face. “They are here.”
With those final words the spirit faded slowly from sight. The noisy complaints from the old house ceased as well. The temperature began to rise slowly back towards normal. Sam’s breathing was still labored. Despite everything returning to normal his fright was not diminishing.
“Adrian, what was…” Sam began, but was quickly cut off.
“Get your things. We’re getting the hell out of here.” Adrian quickly gathered his belongings, and Sam snapped to as well. He did not need nor want an explanation until they were far away from the house. The boys hastily rolled up their sleeping bags and shoved they’re belonging back into their bags. Once packed, they hurried to the window they entered through. Adrian got there first and stopped in his tracks.
The glass in the window was warped greatly with age. The lights from town shown through in a distorted manner. Even in the darkness and through the twisted glass, Sam saw something moving. The sight of it was what brought Adrian to a halt. The young man who had been talking calmly to a ghost was utterly petrified with fear.
“Sam, I’m so sorry.” Adrian said softly as they heard from the other side of the house the front door being smashed in.
About the artist: This month's guest artist is the very talented Amy Lou Kirner.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The young men’s muscles were too much for the warping and rust that resisted them and the bookcase swung open. Adrian and Sam looked inside, but only when Adrian held out his electric lantern could they make out what they revealed. It was a room. Like the rest of the house it had been relieved of its contents decades ago. The plaster on the wall was cracked, but for the most part intact. The kudzu from outside had yet to make it’s way into the room, and with no sunlight to coax it, would likely stay that way.
“Check that out.” Adrian said with a grin on his face. “Anyone tell you about this?”
“Nope.” Sam answered. He had talked to quite a few of his teammates that had gone through the team’s initiation of spending the night in the Krenshaw House. None of them had mentioned anything about a secret room. “I don’t think they knew this was here.”
“Sure looked that way. From the dust I don’t think anyone’s touched this bookcase in years.”
“I’d heard about some older houses having hidden rooms for keeping valuables in. Never seen one though.” Sam smiled at Adrian. “This is turning out much cooler than I thought it would be.” Sam walked forward into the room they had revealed. The opening was large enough that he did not have to duck to enter. The room itself was approximately eight feet wide and about ten deep. Adrian’s lantern easily lit the entire space.
Sam stopped dead in his tracks the moment he entered the room. A gasp escaped him as he froze. It felt as if the temperature in the room was at least forty degrees colder than the rest of the house. The hairs on his arms stood on end as goose bumps rose from his flesh. He quickly backed out of the room, nearly running into Adrian.
“AH! God!” Sam exclaimed as he shook off the sudden chill. Once out of the room the temperature felt normal again.
“What is it? What happened?” Adrian asked urgently.
“It’s freezing in there!” Sam answered quickly. “What the hell was that?”
Adrian set his gaze upon the room. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, but something had definitely happened when Sam entered. He turned back to Sam.
“Hang on a second. I’m going to check this out.” Adrian told him and started towards the room. Sam did not stop him, being still a bit shaken by the surprise of the experience. Adrian walked into the room, and immediately felt the same cold Sam had felt. He moved to the center of the room as Sam watched him.
Holding the lantern at arms length, he slowly turned around examining each wall. He let out a slow deliberate breath and it became visible in the cold. He said nothing, but Sam could tell Adrian was processing all of it. More surprising than the experience of the cold was how calmly Adrian was taking all of this in. It seemed to Sam that this was not Adrian’s first time in dealings such as this.
Adrian exited the room and looked to Sam. His face betrayed a slight smile.
“Well, the house is haunted.”
“What?” Sam exclaimed.
“Easy. I was generalizing.” Adrian held up his hand and motioned for Sam to calm himself. “It’s likely someone died here years ago. Sometimes when that happen houses develop hot or cold spots.”
“Are you kidding me?” Sam said in disbelief.
“You felt it yourself. I know it seems weird…”
“It is weird.” Sam interrupted.
“OK, yeah. It is weird. It’s not that big a deal though.” Adrian’s hand absent-mindedly went to his neck and pulled the necklace into view. He rubbed the medallion hanging from it between his thumb and forefinger. “If it’ll make you feel better we can close the room back off.”
“Yeah. Let’s do it.” With some effort they swung the bookcase back into its original position. Sam glanced over to Adrian, and looked at the medallion hanging from his neck. “So, you gonna tell me about that?”
“Hm?” Adrian looked at his companion.
“That.” Sam repeated pointing at the medallion. “I know Randy was giving you grief over it, and at pretty odd for a guy to be wearing something like that.”
“It was my dad’s.” Adrian answered has he held the medallion up to look at it. “Him and mom passed away last year. That’s why I moved down here. I’m staying with my aunt and uncle.”
“Ah, geez man. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…” Sam felt bad for prying so deeply into Adrian’s life.
“Its alright.” Adrian replied, letting Sam of the hook. “You didn’t know.”
“That thing must have meant a lot to him.”
“It means a lot to a lot of people.”
“Got to tell you, man. Wearing odd necklaces and knowing stuff about haunted houses and things like that. It’s a pretty easy way to get yourself labeled a weirdo.” Sam said with a slight smirk.
“Oh yeah? Do you think I’m a weirdo?”
“Oh hell yes.” They both burst into laughter. Adrian delivered a light punch to Sam’s arm. The two returned to the room with window they entered through. They decided that it would be the spot for them set up their sleeping bags. There was a bit of small talk between them as they both settled in for the night. Adrian seemed restless.
“You OK?” Sam asked.
“I don’t sleep very well.” Adrian replied.
“Something like that. If you hear me wake up in the middle of the night don’t worry about it.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t hear you over the snoring.”
“It’s easily the scariest thing in the house.” Sam said with a laugh as Adrian chuckled and turned out the electric lantern. The sleeping was comfortable enough and after a few minutes Sam drifted off to sleep. While the cold spot in the hidden room was disturbing, it seemed to only be in that one room. Sam was still curious about how Adrian knew about things of the sort, but those questions could wait.
Sam did not know what time it was when he felt a hand upon him. He woke with a start and could make out Adrian kneeling next to him in the dim light. The light was not coming from the windows or from any of the lights that the youths had brought with him. Adrian said nothing and Sam’s own voice caught in his throat at the sight to the apparition before them.
About this month's artist: Bridget once snorted orange-flavored Pixie Stix dust when she was younger, simply because someone dared her to. Not only would she be sneezing orange for a week after the incident, but many would blame the act for her current mental state. All evidence suggests otherwise, proving she was never the brightest sandwich in the galaxy even before the lapse in judgment.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sam Deveroux watched the sun setting as he stood on the sidewalk in front of the Krenshaw house. He was a bit nervous, but his expression did not betray it. The sky had a soft red glow as the clouds accented the natural beauty. It was a perfect evening for spending the night in a supposedly haunted house. The Krenshaw house certainly looked the part. No one had lived there since the early nineteen hundreds and despite a few failed efforts to renovate and restore the property it seemed to be on the verge of collapse. It was a two-story building, with a large porch. The roof over half of the porch had fallen in decades ago. The wood board siding was weathered but there were a few spots where the old while paint that had not yet flaked off still clung on, waiting for the ever impeding ivy and kudzu to overtake it.
Sam stood with the others that had gathered there waiting to see if he and the new kid would actually show up. He had brought his sleeping bag, a flashlight, two bottles of water, some snacks and his Ipod for entertainment. It was almost eight thirty in the evening and that was when he and Adrian were supposed to go in. His teammates that had showed up were standing around talking amongst themselves. One of the guys had gotten a case of cheap beer and a few of them were imbibing. Sam had declined the offer, and to his surprise no one teased him about it.
“I don’t think he’s going to show up.” Randy Sullivan remarked sounding almost disappointed about it. He was almost impressed that Adrian Reese had stood up to him and thought for sure that the freshman would be up to his challenge.
“And as soon as you say something…” Lindsey Brewster laughed at the timing because no sooner had Randy made the remark she spotted Adrian Reese rounding the corner towards them. He had a hefty backpack with him. He strode confidently and was looking at the house he was to be spending the night in as he approached the group. There were a few whistles and catcalls as he walked up to Randy.
“You showed.” Randy said with a smile.
“Yeah. Been looking forward to it.” Adrian replied, seeming much more relaxed than the other students had seen him at school. The shy introvert Randy had taken Adrian for had been replaced by a confident young man. “Not every day a guy gets to check out a haunted house.”
“You have a weird idea of a good time, Reese.” Randy smirked.
“It’s your party, I just accepted the invitation.” One of the players offered Adrian a beer. “No thanks.” Adrian waved away the offer with a smile and a nod. “So, you said there would be two of us. Who else is going?”
“Scared to go in a alone?’
“Just want to get the show on the road.”
“Hmph.” Randy grunted and nodded towards Sam who approached them.
“Adrian Reese.” Adrian introduced himself and offered his hand.
“Um… Sam Deveroux.” Sam was a little taken aback by the formality in which Adrian introduced himself, but accepted Adrian’s extended hand. He was a little surprised by the firmness of Adrian’s grip. It was strong but not to the point that it seemed the pale young man was attempting to prove anything.
“Good to meet you, Sam.” Adrian turned his attention back to Randy. “So how do we get in? I’m doubting the doors are unlocked.”
“You always all business?” Randy asked.
“Like I said, I’m pretty excited by this.”
“You into this sort of stuff? Haunted houses, and crap like that?”
“Me? Nah. Just something different is all.”
“Fair enough. There’s an unlocked window on the north side. Second one from the corner.”
“Alright, see you guys later. Ready, Sam?”
“Um… sure. Let’s do it.” Sam turned to follow Adrian towards the house. He had not expected Adrian to be so gung ho about their staying the night in the house. While Sam was not afraid of what was waiting for them, he was not as eager to proceed as Adrian was.
Adrian paused for a moment before starting up the walkway towards the house. It was very slight but Sam caught it. Adrian was looking briefly at something, or someone. Following his glance, Sam saw a group of the cheerleaders chatting and watching as he and Adrian began their challenge. He smiled. ‘The new kid isn’t much different at all’, he thought to himself.
The two young men made their way across the overgrown yard. Both took large stomping steps to tramp down the foliage in front of them. The sun had set and the last of it’s light guided them.
“So, how much trouble will we be in if we get caught in this place?” Adrian asked without turned to him new companion.
“None actually. A lot of the cops here grew up here. I’m sure a few spent a night in here themselves. As long as we don’t do any property damage they don’t do a thing.”
“Property damage?” Adrian stopped and turned to Sam. “How the hell could they tell?” Both of them laughed and continued up to the house. It took little effort to locate the window Randy had told them about. They tossed their packs inside and Sam pulled himself through with Adrian close behind. Sam lit his flashlight.
It was as they both expected. The warped hardwood floor creaked with their every step. The plaster on the walls had fallen down in spots. In some places the ivy from the outside had made it’s way into the house itself. The building was a rotting husk of it’s former self. The air itself was musty, the scents of mildew and dust mixed to make both Adrian and Sam wince at the notion of having to smell it all night.
“So, which of the girls were you checking out?” Sam asked as he looked around the room they were in. He imagined it used to be the living room.
“What?” Adrian asked as he pulled an electric lantern from his pack. With the flick of a switch the room was lit. “There we go.”
“Nice, but answer the question. I saw you checking out a few of the girls.” Sam turned his flashlight off wanting to conserve the batteries.
“The one with the straight, black hair.” Adrian said with a slight smile. He thought he had been subtle about his glance.
“She got a boyfriend?”
“Well. That just sucks. It’s not you, is it? Because that would just be awkward.”
“HA! No. I don’t know the guy. Can’t fault your taste though. She is hot.” Sam glanced into the adjoining room. “You want to check the rest of the place out?”
“Oh yeah, but I think we better stay downstairs. I don’t like the idea of falling through the floor.” Sam and Adrian made there way thought the downstairs of the house. There every step brought a creak, groan or crack from the aged floor. They walked carefully feeling out the floor for soft spots, of which there were few. Their exploration brought them to what seemed to have been the study. All the furniture had been removed decades ago, only a large bookshelf remained.
“That’s weird.” Adrian said looking at the dust-covered shelves.
“What’s up?” Sam asked walking over to where his companion stood.
“We’ve gone through the whole downstairs and it seems like there’s space for another room.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah, and this bookcase still being here with all the other furniture gone seems odd too.” Adrian knelt on the floor next to the bookcase and ran his fingers along the floor in front of it. He looked up quickly at it. “No way.”
“What is it?”
“Give me a hand.” Adrian said setting his lantern off to the side and grasping the bookcase. Sam joined them and they both pulled. Sam was not sure what Adrian was trying to do, but it quickly became obvious when long hidden hinges creaked and complained, coming to life after years of being dormant. The bookcase slowly began to swing open.
About this month's artist: Kat is a doodler from Texas. She likes comics, monsters, and an assortment of old stuff. Someday perhaps she'll get off her lazy duff and make one of them thar comic doohickeys. For now, though, it's all about the random sketches. She thinks that Hellboy is awesome and believes that you should think so too.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
This month's art is by the lovely and talented Linda Jean. Thanks Linda!
Adrian Reese stood silently in front of his new classmates. Half of the room seemed to be sizing him up. The other half did not seem to care. Adrian was not pleased about having to transfer to a new school, but was determined to make the best of it. Titusboro, Louisiana seemed like as good a place as any to stay out of trouble.
He tried to smile at the class as the teacher introduced him. It was unconvincing to the class and the teacher all of whom noticed the young man’s pallor. Adrian had not slept well in over a year and it showed on his face. Despite turning fifteen only a few weeks prior, he looked weary, and it was obvious to all who looked at him. He said nothing to the class, and only nodded to the teacher after the awkward introduction and took an available seat towards the back of the room.
By lunchtime that day the rumors were already circulating about him. Some thought he was a drug user. Most just thought he was odd. He had not introduced himself of anyone, and had barely spoken the entire morning. It was not as though he seemed to be trying to look out of place. The freshman dressed fine in a clean, untucked T-shirt and a pair of well-worn jeans. His dirty blond hair was cut short and conservative. If anything, it seemed as though he just wanted to fade into the background and be left alone.
For that reason alone, Randy Sullivan was utterly fascinated.
“So, what’s the story on the new kid. He looks like death warmed over.” Randy looked over at Adrian who was sitting a few tables away in the school cafeteria. Randy was the starting running back of the school’s football team. He was a handsome youth, with an easy smile. He did not go out of his way to pick on people, but he felt to need to poke and prod to try to get a feel for them.
“Probably drugs. He doesn’t dress like those goth kids, but he’s definitely pale enough.” Jacob Barnes was the team’s quarterback. He was a nice enough fellow, but if something did not have to do with football then he was not interested. Jacob took a bite of his sandwich and paid no attention to Adrian who sat quietly and ate.
“Ah well. We’ve got more important things going on.” Randy smiled and looked over to Sam Deveroux. “You ready for this weekend, champ?”
“You’re kidding, right?” Sam looked up from his lunch. He was a freshman and the new back-up running back for the team. Sam was a strong young man, and enjoyed playing the game. Sitting with the team and an assortment or cheerleader during lunch was an added bonus. Still, the initiation he was told about was not something he looked forward to. “You’re really gonna make me stay the night in the Krenshaw House?”
“You and one other guy. Not sure who yet.” Randy smiled. Every year freshmen that joined the team spent the night in the Krenshaw House. It had been vacant for decades and reportedly haunted. Randy himself had stayed the night there without incident. Others had said they hear or saw strange things. Every year at least one person ran out of the house screaming.
It was Sam’s turn, but all the other freshman player had already spent their evening there. Only one of them, Clayton McMurt, had said he heard anything odd. Clayton was well known as being very superstitious, so his claims fell of deaf ears.
“You’re not nervous, are you Sam?” Lindsay Brewster asked. She was one of the co-captains of the cheerleader squad and happened to be sitting directly across from Sam. She smiled as she posed the question, knowing that such a query from a cute girl always stirred the manly bravado that she found amusing and charming all at once.
“Maybe a little.” Sam spoke honestly. “But it’s nothing I can’t handle.” He smiled. Although he was nervous, he was ready to face the challenge. It was his doorway to full acceptance by his peers, and the lure of a fast track to popularity was a strong one.
After the lunch period ended, Adrian was headed for gym class. Although he had yet to purchase a standard physical education uniform that school required, he was still prepared to participate. He headed in the locker room to change into the shorts and spare t-shirt he had brought with him. The locker room was just like that of his previous school. Rows of lockers gave the boys just enough room to squeeze by each other and get changed. The smell of stale sweat hung in the air.
Adrian found a vacant locker in one of the rows and claimed it as his own. The locker was fairly close to that of Randy Sullivan who also had gym that period. Sullivan was changing as well, but discretely cast an eye at Adrian expecting him to appear even sicklier as he changed clothes.
To Randy’s surprise, young Adrian appeared to be in good shape. He lacked the musculature of Randy or his teammates, but he was still well proportioned and looked as though he was an active fellow. Adrian’s paleness extended to rest of his body and not just his face. Randy wondered briefly if Adrian’s pallor was perhaps a medical condition. This train of thought was quickly derailed the moment Randy spotted what hung around the new boy’s neck.
It was a necklace. The chain itself looked like silver but was otherwise unremarkable. What was remarkable was the medallion that hung from the chain. It was also silver and was round. It looked to be about the size of a fifty-cent piece. There were small carvings in it was Randy did not pay much mind to. What he did notice was the heart-shaped, red gem in the center of it. It looked like a ruby, but Randy could not be certain.
“Hold the phone!” Randy announced as he strode over to where Adrian was changing. Adrian turned to Randy, but remained silent. “Are you kidding me? Dude! What kind of guy wears a fruity looking necklace like this to…” He was reaching out to grasp the necklace, as the rest of the boys in the locker room looked on. Some were on the verge of laughing. All were smiling. The smiles turned to looks of shock at Adrian’s reaction.
“Don’t touch it.” Adrian said coldly as he grasped the football player’s extended wrist. His voice was not raised, but did betray a New England accent. Randy was surprised not only by the reaction, but by the strength of Adrian’s grip. Their eyes were locked. No one spoke. The others present watched them both expecting either to explode violently on the other at any instant.
Randy took a step back and jerked his arm free. Despite the strength of Adrian’s grip it was no match for Randy’s. Their eyes stayed on each other’s. Neither was willing to back down.
“FIGHT!” Someone yelled.
“OH, SHUT UP!” Randy shouted at whomever had yelled. Then he turned back to Adrian. “Seems like you think you pretty tough.” Adrian did not reply. “Good. We need a tough guy.” Randy glanced around at those watching and smiled. “Looks like Sam will be having company this weekend after all.”
Thursday, September 11, 2008
The mine had not been worked in nearly a century. If asked why, the locals would answer that the vein of silver that had come from it had been completely mined out. There had been a town only a mile away, but it was deserted soon after the mine stopped producing. The nearest city was over forty miles away across a rocky and unforgiving desert. The mineshaft itself was nothing extraordinary to look at. Merely a hole in the side of a butte with a few ancient boards that had enough tenacity in their dry rotted mass not to blow away in the wind. It appeared to be nothing but a remnant of a bygone era of frontiersmen and exploration; but if you asked Simon Reese or Carson Rodgers, it was a hole straight into hell.
They emerged stumbling from the mineshaft, their flashlights illuminating their escape. Both gasped. Their lungs were desperate for the cool, dry air of the desert morning. They had not spoken in what seemed to men to have been hours. Sweat poured off of them as they sprinted with whatever energy they had left in them towards the jeep Rodgers had rented.
They were filthy, with clothes hugging their bodies, drenched in sweat. The front of Reese’s clothes was covered in dirt from when he had tripped during their egress. The knee of his left pants leg was blood soaked from the fall. The injury was not serious but it stung him with every step, yet did not slow him the least. He clutched their prize fiercely in his hand.
“Dammit! The sun isn’t up yet!” Rodgers cursed as they neared the jeep.
“Can’t be helped.” Reese replied as Rodgers got behind the wheel and started the vehicle. Reese jumped into the passenger seat. Looking out at the horizon he saw the glow of the approaching sunrise. “Drive! Head east!”
“Right!” Rodgers already had the jeep moving and aimed it at the impending sunrise. The tires flung rocks and dirt, but caught and sent the men on their way. The town of Billings was to the North, but that did not matter for the moment. “Are they still behind us?” Rodgers asked between labored breaths.
Simon Reese had told himself that he would not look back. He wanted to keep focused on moving forward, heading towards anywhere that would take him home to his wife and son. The last thing he wanted was to look back at where the two men had spent the previous night. He had to know. They had to know. Clutching the seat tight, he pivoted and looked back to the mine. It was quickly shrinking from sight. What had followed them out was not.
“Oh God.” Reese uttered.
“Are they there?” Rodgers asked, too focused on the terrain in front of him to check the rearview mirror. The glow of the pre-dawn cast long shadows over the land, and the headlights did not give Rodger much warning of what was coming at the speed he was driving.
“Just keep going!” Reese called out. The flashlight slipped from his fingers and fell behind the seat of the jeep. Reese continued to clutch their prize in his fist, as his free hand took up his revolver from the holster strapped to his leg. The cool air blew his short blond hair wildly, but it didn’t obscure his vision. He leveled the weapon. His fatigue made it heavy in his grip. Rodger’s glanced at him.
“That’s not going to stop them!”
“It’s better than nothing!” Reese cried out as he squeezed the trigger. The shots echoed into the night, as the jeep cut an urgent path across the land heading for the blessed light of day.