Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Kid in Town: Chapter 2

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 The shy introvert Randy had taken Adrian for had been replaced by a confident young man.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.

“Sasha Cameron.”

“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

New Kid in Town: Chapter 1

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.”