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Boding Evil

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Boding Evil

It Will Find You

Linda L Barton

DeadlyReads.com

Copyright 2016 © Linda L. Barton

All Rights Reserved

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Table of Contents

Title Page, Copyright, Table of Contents,

Special Acknowledgments

Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2,

Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5,

Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8

Sacrificing Souls

Special Acknowledgments

While Boding Evil is a fictional story, many of the situations portrayed in this book were inspired by TRUE events.

I wish to thank those who shared their experiences with the supernatural and those things we all try to keep hidden in the dark recesses of our minds. I know some will say the events portrayed in this book are merely objects of a fanciful imagination, but to those who shared their stories with me, the events were quite real.

~~~

Editing, Formatting, and Cover Design by

Deadly Reads Author Services

Prologue

Charise noticed the man as he walked into the café. She had seen many of his kind walk through that door over the years, but something was different about this one. She watched as he walked to the end of the counter; away from the others gathered together as they shared their tales of life on the road. He did not say a word; he simply sat in silence as though the troubles of the world weighed heavy on his shoulders. Charise walked up to the man and said with a broad smile, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Several moments passed until he nodded his head and looked up at her, “What time is it?”

“It’s four in the morning, why?” Charise flipped the coffee cup over in front of him and filled it to the brim with the steaming hot coffee. “You sure look like you could use some of this.”

He lifted the cup of hot coffee to his lips and took a sip, “Thanks,” was all he said as he set the cup down on the counter in front of him.

“Are you hungry? I must admit we have some great food here. Would you like a menu?” Charise tried to lighten the mood, but he did not seem interested.

“No thank you. I’m not hungry, would you just leave me alone for now?” He took another sip of coffee and then set the cup back on the counter.

“Sure, but if you change your mind…”

“I’ll let you know. I just need a little time to gather my thoughts,” he looked down into his cup of coffee, allowing his mind to wander…

***

The day had started out like any other. Jeff Mason had arrived early at the warehouse in Little Rock to pick up his load going to St. Louis. He was pleased when it only took three hours for them to load his truck. All Jeff wanted to do was to get this load delivered and head home for some time off.

Jeff had been out for several weeks and he always looked forward to his time off with his wife and children. Jeff had been an over-the-road truck driver for nearly fifteen years, like his father and grandfather before him. He loved life on the road but he always looked forward to his time at home with his family.

Jeff knew he had an all-night trip in front of him, so he’d decided to stop for a shower, and then grab something to eat before his drive to St. Louis. Once he was back out to his truck, he’d decided to look at his atlas for the quickest route and was upset to learn it would take him near the one place he had hoped he would never see again.

“It’s been twenty-three years since I’ve been anywhere near that damn place, but I guess that all changes tonight.” Jeff returned the atlas to the pocket on the inside of the driver’s door and started his truck.

Things were going along fine until he turned onto Hwy 160 in southeast Missouri. The last time Jeff had been on this road he had promised himself he would never return. His family had gone this way when they moved back to California from the small town of Greer Springs, and it surprised him how the thought of being so close to where it had all happened made him feel.

Jeff decided to listen to the radio, hoping it would take his mind off that time in his life and the terrible events that forced his family to leave. As he drove that familiar stretch of highway, he noticed how unusually dark it appeared outside and how the darkness seemed to swallow the light from his headlights making it difficult to see the road in front of him.

Jeff knew he was nearly to the turn-off for Greer Springs by the uneasy feeling growing up inside of him, so he decided to turn the volume down on the radio and concentrate on the road. However, as he reached for the volume control on the radio, a deer bolted out in front of his truck and barely escaped being hit.

“Oh shit!” Jeff shouted as he watched the deer disappear into the trees along the side of the road.

He was thankful he had missed it because he couldn’t afford the downtime to get his truck repaired, let alone the cost of the repairs.

“Pull yourself together, you still have all night to drive,” he moaned to himself as he tried to steady his nerves.

Jeff took the last swallow of coffee from his cup and had reached for his thermos when he saw the sign ahead for Greer Springs. He felt his breath catch in his throat as he read the words on the sign with the arrow pointing to the left. Jeff knew it was foolish, but he found himself steering the truck closer to the right side of the lane and nearly over the white line on the shoulder.

As the highway veered to the right and away from the road to Greer Springs, Jeff laughed at allowing a foolish childhood memory get to him in such a way. Now that it was behind him, Jeff decided to turn the volume back up on his radio and enjoy the rest of his trip.

He had been driving for nearly fifteen minutes when suddenly, out of nowhere, another deer darted out in front of him.

“Damn it! They’re out thick tonight!” He struggled to calm his nerves again, but what he saw next made his heart nearly stop dead in his chest.

To his horror, caught in the glow of his headlights was the sign to Greer Springs.

“What the hell?” Jeff grunted as he drove past the illuminated sign.

Jeff knew there was no way he could have driven past the same sign. Hell, he was headed northeast which took him away from Greer Springs.

“Maybe I read the sign wrong,” Jeff said aloud, trying to convince himself otherwise.

This whole thing was impossible. There was no way he had ended up back at the turnoff because he never left Highway 160. Then a thought came to him. Jeff had heard over the years of driver’s seeing strange things at night from lack of sleep and driving too many miles, but that could not be the case because he was completely rested and ready for the trip.

In spite of a foreboding sense of dread, Jeff decided to put it all out of his mind and listen to one of the audio books he had bought a few days ago.

The miles seemed to fly by as Jeff found himself engrossed in the book. He found himself relaxed and relieved to have Greer Springs far behind him when out of nowhere, another deer ran across the road and barely missed the front of his truck.

“Damn!” Jeff steadied himself, wondering how many more times a deer would bolt out in front of him this trip.

Then Jeff saw it. He gasped as his headlights lit up the road sign to Greer Springs for the third time.

“Shit! What the hell’s going on tonight? This can’t be happening.”

Jeff did not know what to believe. Maybe he was asleep, and this was all a horrible nightmare, but he knew better. Suddenly, Jeff felt the same familiar cold force wrap around him that he had felt all those years ago. His heart beat wildly in his chest, and he wondered if he would be able to escape its clutches this time. He looked at the clock on the dash of his truck and saw it was nearly 3 am.

“Leave me alone,” Jeff pleaded to the darkness as he held tight to the steering wheel of the big Peterbilt.

***

Jeff had driven in total silence for another hour before he finally saw the light of a small truck stop and café off in the distance. He was glad to be away from the strange darkness and the effect it had on him. He had not felt this way in many years, so all he wanted to do now was to drink some coffee and calm his nerves before he continued on with the rest of his trip.

As Jeff walked into the café, he couldn’t seem to shake the strange feeling that something dark and eerily familiar had tried to lure him back to Greer Springs. It was a memory he had tried to bury deep inside of his mind; the time that his family had barely escaped the evil forces that had tried to kill them all those years ago.

Chapter 1

Twenty-Five Years Earlier

“Hurry up and get your things packed, so your father can put them in the truck!” Velma shouted as she put the masking tape on the last box of dishes.

“Mom, Jeff won’t help me!” Lori whined as she forced another pair of blue jeans into the already overly stuffed box.

Jeff had already finished his packing and was helping his father carry boxes out to the rental truck. “If you would’ve started to pack when Mom told you to instead of talking on the phone with Beverly, you’d be done like I am,” Jeff teased as he walked passed her room.

“Shut up, Jeff! I never wanted to leave in the first place, and I don’t think it’s fair that I have to go when Amy gets to stay!” Lori mumbled as she put more masking tape across the top of the bulging box.

“Jeff, leave your sister alone and Lori, quit your complaining and get your things packed, or they’ll be left behind! You know why she’s staying here, she wants to finish out the school year with her class then she’ll join us there,” Velma grabbed another empty box and reached for some of the canned goods in the cabinet.

Jeff could not understand why Lori was upset about moving. He was looking forward to going. Jeff was ready for something new. Not that he did not like where they lived, but the idea of traveling and living somewhere different was exciting for Jeff. His parents had moved from Oklahoma to California several years earlier when his father was offered a job with a trucking company that hauled produce for the local growers. His parents had packed up and moved with his two older sisters, and his mother six months pregnant with Jeff.

***

“Gene, would you please take this box out to the truck for me?” Velma pointed to the box sitting on the floor as she sat on the kitchen stool to rest for a few minutes.

“Sure thing, I’ll be there in a minute,” he said as he walked down the ramp of the rental truck.

Gene Mason had been anxiously awaiting this day ever since he had bought the twenty-acre farm in Greer Springs, Missouri. Gene had never liked living in town, so when he saw the advertisement in one of those Trader catalogs he had jumped at the chance.

Gene had always dreamed of owning a few acres with some livestock, but Velma was not so keen on the idea. She had no desire to leave California and give up the house she loved and move out into the middle of nowhere. The day Gene had come home and told her he had bought a farm and that they would be moving to Missouri was a low point in her life. However, Gene had promised her this would be good for the family, so she decided not to argue with him.

It had taken another two hours to get the rest of the boxes packed and in the truck. So, while Gene did one last walk through the house and garage to make sure nothing was being left behind, Velma stood in the driveway and gazed at the house she loved one last time.

I’ll never have another house as beautiful as this one, she thought to herself as she turned and walked to the truck.

“Come on, we’re burning daylight,” Gene announced as he started the truck.

“Are you sure we’re doing the right thing? We have such a lovely house here, and I hate…” Velma groaned as she climbed into the truck.

“It’s done, Velma. We’re moving, so put all of those thoughts out of your mind. This will all be for the best, you’ll see.”

Without looking back, Gene pulled out of the driveway, and the family was now headed toward their new life.

***

The trip had been long and uncomfortable for everyone. Lori had complained the entire trip, but Jeff pretended they were on a ship, sailing across the ocean to an undiscovered land. After stopping in Poplar Bluff, Missouri at the realtor’s office to get the keys to the house and take care of some last minute paperwork, they then headed to their new home.

Jeff felt a rush of excitement the first time he saw the sign to Greer Springs and he knew this move would be the start of a new life for his family.

***

As they turned down the road to their new house, Gene knew he had made the right decision to move; however, Velma had her doubts.

“What’s with that forlorn expression?” Gene looked over, noticing the way Velma sat with her head down and her eyes closed.

She didn’t say anything for several moments then she finally lifted her head, and looked at Gene. “It’s so far away from anything. How will I do the shopping?”

“You’re worried about shopping?” Gene could not help but laugh. “Look how beautiful it is here. Besides, we’ll have chickens, a cow, a large garden and a few pigs to keep you and the kids busy. Isn’t that right, Jeff?”

“We sure will, dad!” Jeff said with excitement evident in his voice.

“I’m not milking any cow…that’s gross!” Lori chimed in, “and I’m not taking care of any pigs either!”

“Be quiet, Lori! I’ve had to listen to your complaining the entire trip, and I’m sick of it.” Gene slowed the truck, “look we’re here.”

Jeff nearly burst out laughing at the shocked expression on his mother and sister’s faces when they saw the new house. His father pulled up to what appeared to be a driveway, but the weeds had grown up so thick that you could barely make it out. Gene stopped for a moment to get a better look then he pulled the truck to the side of the road and parked.

“I told you there would be some cleaning up to do,” Gene chuckled as he turned the truck off and stepped outside.

Velma felt her body go numb. “What have we done?” were the only words to come out of her mouth.

“It’s not that bad, nothing a little cleaning up can’t fix,” Gene grinned then walked to the rear of the truck.

“Jeff, come help me get the pickup off the trailer, so I can take your mother to that little grocery store we saw a few miles back. I want you to stay here with your sister and start clearing a path to the house, so we can get our things unloaded and put inside before dark. You should be able to knock those weeds down with the lawn mower in no time.”

Jeff looked at his father then at the weeds, “But, Dad.”

No sooner had the words left his mouth than he knew to stop complaining. Jeff knew his father depended on him and would never ask him to do anything he would not do himself. “Yes, Sir, I’ll get it done.”

The hot afternoon sun beat down on Jeff as he watched his parents drive away. He looked at the high weeds again and wondered if he would be able to make a path through them before they returned.’

“Come on, Lori, get out here and help,” Jeff pulled the starter rope on the lawn mower, bringing it to life.

“I’m not crawling around in there! Those weeds are taller than I am and you don’t know what’s in there!” Lori crossed her arms in protest.

“Coward,” Jeff teased.

“I don’t care. I hate it here!” Lori then closed the truck door and rolled down the window.

Jeff knew there was no sense in arguing with her, besides he needed to get busy so he would be finished when his parents returned.

It had taken him nearly an hour, but he finally knocked down a path wide enough for the truck to back up to the house. Jeff had even cleared a place where his dad could park the car under a big shade tree.

“At least I finished before they got back,” he said to himself as he sat under the tree and waited for his parents to return.

***

Gene pulled into the parking lot of the local grocery store and parked by the door.

“This looks like a good place to shop,” he smiled, hoping to cheer Velma up some as he got out of the car.

Velma was not so sure, but she knew she had no choice.

“I hope they’re not expensive,” mumbling under her breath as she followed Gene to the door and went inside.

“Good afternoon. May I help you?” The man standing behind the cash register said with a broad smile on his face.

“No, thank you, we just need to get a few things,” Gene got a shopping cart and waited for Velma to join him.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you in here before. Are you new to the area? My name is Carl Timmons; my wife Rhonda and I own this store.” He walked over to Gene and held out his hand. “Welcome to our little community.”

Gene took Carl’s hand in a firm handshake, “Thank you, it’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Gene Mason, and this is my wife, Velma.”

Velma turned to face Carl when a loud crash and gasp came from the other side of the room.

“Oh, my goodness!” Rhonda, the store owners wife, had just come out of the back room when what she saw startled her so much that she dropped a bag of canned goods on the floor.

“Honey, are you okay?” Carl rushed over to help her pick up the scattered cans.

“Mr. and Mrs. Mason will think you’ve been drinking,” he teased, but the look on her face told him she was not fine. He then leaned in close and whispered, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s her, but it can’t be,” Rhonda’s voice quivered as she put the cans back into the torn bag. “Look at her face.”

Carl turned to look at Velma, but what he saw caused a deathly chill to come over his body. “You’re right, but it can’t be her.”

“Are you two alright?” Gene watched the two of them whispering and staring at Velma like they’d seen a ghost.

“Yes, we’re fine. Go ahead and do your shopping while I help my wife clean up this mess,” Carl fought to compose himself as he placed the last can in the bag and stood up.

“Okay…” Gene turned to Velma, “What do you have planned for dinner?”

Velma smiled and rolled her eyes, “Nothing fancy, but I promise you won’t go to bed hungry.”

“Okay, I can live with that. Let’s get this done and get home. I don’t want to leave the kids there alone for too long.”

It didn’t take them long to gather everything they needed in the small store. Once they had their basket full, they walked back to the cash register.

“Did you find everything you needed?” Carl waited as Gene placed the items on the counter in front of him.

“Yes, we did. We’ll have to come back once we’ve settled into the house and stock up, though,” Velma smiled then placed a half gallon of milk on the counter with the other items and waited for Carl to finish.

“That will be $12.40,” Carl announced nervously as he put the milk in a paper bag and handed it to Gene.

Gene reached into his pocket and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and handed it to Carl. He could not quite put his finger on things, but Carl and Rhonda seemed to be fixated on Velma. “Is there something wrong? You both seem upset.”

“No, nothing’s wrong. It’s just that your wife looks a lot like someone who used to live in the area,” Rhonda spoke, keeping her eyes transfixed on Velma.

“Oh, is that all? Hell, they say everyone has a double out there somewhere. I guess yours used to live here, Velma,” Gene teased as he gathered up the rest of the grocery bags and put the change in his pocket. “Well, we need to get back. Jeff should have a path cleared to the house by now.”

“Goodbye, it was nice to meet you,” Velma waved over her shoulder as she followed Gene out of the door.

“Oh, my God, she looks just like her!” Rhonda cried, once the door had closed, and they were alone. “Do you think they’re the ones who bought that place?”

Carl had heard the old Deming place was bought by a family from out of state, but he had hoped it was just a rumor.

“Mr. Mason said something about a path needed to be cleared to the house, so it has to be them. That house hasn’t been lived in for years.”

“Should we have warned them?” Rhonda nervously fidgeted with a bottle in the display on the end of the counter. “They really need to know what happened in that house.”

“It’s not our place, Rhonda.” Carl then turned to face her, “besides they would never believe us anyway. Hell, I don’t think I believe it myself.”

“But something in that house made her do all those horrible things, Carl. What if it happens again?” Tears formed in the corners of Rhonda’s eyes as the memories of that horrible time flowed back into her mind.

Carl had heard enough. “Stop it, that’s in the past! Those people bought the place, and we need to make them feel welcome here. It’s just a coincidence that Mrs. Mason looks like her, so I want you to promise me you won’t bring this up again, do you understand?”

Rhonda didn’t respond for several moments. “Fine, I won’t say anything to them!” But I will say a prayer that they stay safe, she thought to herself.

“Good. Well, I need to go put out the vegetables that were delivered earlier.” Carl glanced at her again then turned and walked toward the back room.

“I need to do a little straightening up out here,” Rhonda forced a smile as she reached for the broom.

Once Carl was out of the room Rhonda reached for the cross necklace she always wore around her neck. “Dear Lord, please watch over that family,” she silently prayed as she gently caressed the cross between her fingers.

Chapter 2

Time seemed to pass quickly for Jeff and his family. It had been two months since they had moved from California and their new home looked entirely different than it had when they first arrived. It had taken quite a bit of work, but the house was finally repaired and comfortable, and the rest of the farm was coming together also.

Gene had taken a job as a driver at the local feed store, so he was home every night. Velma and Lori were still unhappy to be there, but at least they were no longer complaining every second. Jeff, however, was in his element. He loved working with the animals, but most of all he enjoyed his hikes out into the woods behind their property. Their property bordered on the Mark Twain National Forest, so as far as Jeff was concerned, he had the world’s largest backyard. Every day he would hurry up with his morning chores then he would head off on another adventure in the wild woods. He was glad it was still summer vacation because he hated the idea of being locked up in a class all day, so this gave him more time to explore.

One day to Jeff’s surprise, Lori had asked to go with him to see what wondrous things were out in the woods. However, what he was to learn was that she really wanted to meet up with a boy she had met while in town. She knew Jeff could take her to the place they were to meet.

“Come on, you have to help me,” Lori begged as she followed Jeff out to the barn. “You know how to get around in the woods, so you have to help me get to the big rock by the bluff. You do know where it is, don’t you?”

Jeff pulled a stool up to the cow and placed a bucket beneath her, “What’s in it for me?” Jeff rubbed his hands together to warm them before reaching for the cow’s utters.

“What’s in it for you? Fine, what do you want?” Lori groaned as she watched Jeff milk the cow.

“Okay, I want you to do my chores for a week.”

Lori could not believe what he was saying. “Do your chores for a whole week? Are you nuts?”

Jeff smiled when she crossed her arms across her chest and jutted out her lower lip. Jeff knew he held the trump card, so he continued, “You heard me. I’ll take you to meet your boyfriend if you do all of my chores for a week. Take it or leave it.”

“All of them?” She looked at the cow while it lazily ate the hay piled in the trough.

“You heard me, all of them. You’ll need to milk the cow twice a day then feed her and the pigs, too. That’s my price, take it or leave it.” Jeff stood then picked up the bucket full of milk, meeting her gaze.

Lori knew that he had her right where he wanted her. She glared him, hoping he would change his demands, but she saw his resolve and knew he was serious. “Fine, I’ll do it, but you have to take me today after lunch…deal?”

Jeff smiled, “Deal. Just remember that the morning milk goes in the house to mom and the evening one is given to the pigs with the table scraps, okay?”

“Okay, I’ll do it!” A look of disgust clearly played on her face.

***

Lori had spent the rest of the morning helping her mother weed the garden while Jeff mowed the yard. Once they had finished their lunch, both announced that they were going for a walk.

“You two are going on a walk…together?” Velma carefully examined both of them not sure if she believed their story.

“Yes, we are. Jeff is going to show me the neat rock formation all the kids in town were talking about,” Lori pulled her hair up into a ponytail then graced her mother with an innocent smile.

“Rock; is it safe?” Velma looked at Jeff, not sure if she liked this idea.

“Yeah, Mom, it’s not far from here. I’ve been there several times, and everyone likes to go there to swim in the creek that runs by it,” Jeff said with an excited tone in his voice, but once he saw the look on his mother’s face, he realized he had said too much. “Don’t worry, Mom, we’re not going to swim, I promise.”

Velma stood and glared at both of them, still not sure if she should believe their story and let them go.

“I promise and we won’t be late either. We’ll be back in time for me to help you with dinner,” Lori said, hoping this would ease her mother’s mind.

“Well, as long as you stay out of the water and are back here before your father gets home, I guess it will be alright.” Velma relented as she put the last of the lunch dishes into the sink.

“Thanks, Mom, we’ll see you later!” Lori cheered as they both rushed out the door.

***

It took nearly fifteen minutes to get to the creek that led to Jumper’s Rock as the local kids liked to call it. Lori had complained the entire way about the flying bugs and how hot it was. For the life of him, Jeff could not understand why she wanted to come out there to see a boy. She had never taken any interest in learning the area before, so why now?

As they came around a bend in the creek, Jeff noticed the figure of a teenage boy appear off in the distance, holding a 22 rifle under his arm.

“Hi, Jimmy!” Lori shouted as she waved to the boy, walking toward them.

“Hey, beautiful,” Jimmy Colton walked up to Lori, his slow drawl, causing her to giggle. He then motioned toward Jeff. “What’s he doing here?”

Jeff knew right away that he didn’t like this kid. “I brought her because she’d get lost in her own back yard.”

“I would NOT!” Lori protested as Jimmy chuckled. She then shot Jeff a look that let him know she was not pleased.

“I’m sure she would’ve done just fine. Lori isn’t only beautiful, but she’s smart too,” Jimmy winked at Lori, this causing her to blush and giggle more.

Jeff had heard enough, “You guys are gross. I’ll be over there, so I don’t have to watch you two.” He stuck his finger in his mouth to mock gagging, and then he walked over and sat on a cluster of rocks by the creek.

Jeff had been tossing rocks into the creek for nearly ten minutes while trying to ignore the two love birds when he noticed something strange on the hill across from where he was sitting.

“What the heck is that?” Jeff stood to get a better look.

“What are you staring at?” Lori pushed away from Jimmy who wasn’t pleased about Jeff being there in the first place.

“Who cares what he’s doing. Come back here, baby,” Jimmy tried to pull her back to him. “It’s probably just a raccoon or a squirrel.”

“It’s way too big, I think it’s a bear,” Jeff murmured as he walked closer to the creek’s edge to get a better look.

“Oh, no, you think it’s a bear. Can it get to us?” Lori exclaimed as she looked up at the strange dark form on the hill.

“Shit, no! Besides, if it tried to hurt you, I’d kill it,” Jimmy picked up his rifle and aimed it at the still figure on the hill looking down at them.

“Hell, the only thing you’ll do with that gun is piss it off,” Jeff laughed.

“Shut up, you little punk!” Jimmy hissed as he shoved Jeff to the ground.

“Knock it off, Jimmy! I’m going home, come on Jeff!” Lori turned and started to walk back toward their house.

“Ah, come on, Lori. Don’t be mad. I didn’t mean anything. Hey, I’ll walk back with you,” Jimmy hoped this would make up for upsetting her.

Jeff scrambled to his feet and looked back toward where he had seen the dark figure, and it was no longer there. “Where did it go?”

“It decided to leave because it didn’t want to mess with me,” Jimmy laughed then offered Lori, his hand. “Come on, I’ll make sure you get home safely.”

Jeff decided that whatever it was probably wasn’t coming back, so he hurried to get ahead of Lori and Jimmy so he wouldn’t have to watch them on the walk home.

They had walked about a quarter of a mile when Jeff noticed the same dark figure up on the bluff across from them, but this time, it was more visible. It surprised Jeff how now it didn’t look like a bear at all because it was sitting on its haunches with its arms bent on its knees. He strained to see it better and suddenly realized that it appeared more like another kid in a large furry jacket.

“What are you looking at?” Jimmy scoffed as he and Lori walked up to where Jeff was standing.

“Look, it’s back!” Lori cried out, pointing toward the strange creature. “What is it?”

“I don’t know, but it sure ain’t no bear,” Jeff responded as he shaded his eyes from the afternoon sun.

“Come on, it’s a bear! There are all sorts of them in these woods,” Jimmy sneered. He then took a couple of steps closer to the creek bed.

“There may be, but that’s no bear. Look how it’s sitting. Bear’s don’t sit like that,” Jeff stepped up beside Jimmy.

“Well, I say it’s a bear, and I’m gonna prove it to you. Watch this,” and with that statement, Jimmy lifted his rifle and aimed it at the creature.

“Don’t kill it, Jimmy! Come on, let’s go,” Lori demanded.

Jimmy never did like being told he was wrong about anything, so without warning, he took aim and fired.

Jeff could not believe what happened next. He knew a 22 rifle could never take down a bear, but he also had no desire to get in trouble for shooting at an animal without his father there. His father had taught Jeff about guns and gun safety since a young age. He had always told him how it was important to understand guns and to always respect them, as they were not a toy.

Jeff remembered the first time his dad had let him shoot a rifle and how he taught him that the rule of hunting is, “If you kill it, you better be ready to eat it.”

Jeff knew he didn’t want to eat whatever was up on that bluff. “Crap, what the hell are you doing?” Jeff shouted as he stepped away from Jimmy.

“Shut up, punk! I missed it, but I’ll get it this time.” Jimmy took aim again.

“Leave it alone, Jimmy! It’s not bothering us,” Lori cried out as she reached for Jimmy’s arm.

The shot rang out, but it went high in the trees. “Damn it, Lori! You made me miss it!” Jimmy snapped as he pushed her away. “I won’t miss this time.”

Jimmy took aim again and fired. This time, the creature howled so loudly that every bird in the trees took flight.

“I got it, I got it,” Jimmy shouted out with glee. “It won’t be watching us again.”

Jeff looked up at where the creature had been and saw that it was gone. “Come on, Lori. We need to get home, it’s getting late.”

“Are you going to walk with me?” Lori turned to face Jimmy, hoping he was no longer upset with her.

“No, I need to get home, too. I’ll see you later.” Still upset with her interference, Jimmy turned and walked the opposite direction without looking back.

“Boy, you sure can pick them, Lori. What an asshole,” Jeff teased, as he turned and headed toward their house.

Lori would never admit that Jeff was right about Jimmy because she still liked him in spite of what had happened. “No, he’s not. He can be really nice, and I like him.”

“You saw it, what do you think that thing was?” Jeff felt a shiver go down his spine.

“I don’t know, but I don’t think it was a bear either,” Lori confessed as she ducked under a branch.

“There’s no way it was a bear. Bears don’t sit like that thing did, and I watched it as it ran off.” Jeff tried to hide his concern, but he knew he was not successful. He turned toward Lori and said with a nervous tone in his voice, “Lori, it didn’t run away on all fours, it stood and ran off on two legs. Just like a human.”

Lori was at a loss of what to say. She wanted to tell him that he had imagined it, but she knew better. She could tell by the expression on Jeff’s face that he was scared, and that frightened her because not much ever scared him.

Neither one of them spoke the rest of the walk home. Jeff knew they had seen something unexplainable on that bluff, and he hoped they would never see it again.

Chapter 3

Jeff was surprised when Lori was awake and ready to go out to the barn. “Damn, I never thought you would really do it,” he laughed as he followed her out of the door.

“A deal is a deal,” she yawned, reached for the handle on the barn door and then stepped inside with Jeff close behind. Lori walked over to the cow and stopped, and then she turned and looked at Jeff. “I don’t know what to do.”

Jeff could not help but laugh at the pitiful look on her face, “You really are helpless, aren’t you? The first thing you need to do is feed her because if you don’t, she won’t stand still for you.”

He took a leaf of hay from an open bale sitting in the corner next to the grain barrel. “Here you go girl.” Jeff put the hay in the trough, and then led the cow over to it and secured the lead rope to a wooden post.

Jeff set the stool down next to the cow and waited for Lori to sit. He then had to laugh at the horrified expression on her face when the cow decided to swat her with its tail.

“Yuck, there’s poo all over it! She cried out. “I don’t understand how you can do this twice a day, it’s horrible!”

“You enjoy the milk, don’t you?” Jeff teased.

It took several attempts, but Lori finally was able to fill the milk bucket. Jeff reached down and set the bucket and stool aside.

“Come on girl, let’s go outside and enjoy this nice day.” Jeff took the lead rope and led the cow toward the barn door.

Lori stood a moment, unsure if she was supposed to bring the bucket with the milk. Then once she realized Jeff wasn’t going to take it, she reached down and picked it up.

I can’t wait for this week to be over, she thought to herself while following him outside.

Jeff had put the cow into the fenced pasture area for the day when Lori finally caught up with him. “You look like a natural farm girl,” Jeff teased as she walked up to him.

“Shut up!” She held the bucket out for him to take.

“Oh no, that’s your job. You need to take it to Mom, remember?” he said in a firm voice.

Lori could feel the anger burning deep inside her, but she knew she had to abide by her deal, no matter how bad she hated it.

“Fine!” was the only thing she said when she turned and stomped toward the house with Jeff close behind her.

They had only taken a few steps when they heard a loud, high-pitched growl coming from the tree-line only thirty feet away from where they were.

“What was that?” Lori froze in her tracks with fear.

“I’m not sure, but it sounded like a big cat of some sort. Damn, it probably smells the milk.” Jeff looked toward the woods where the sound had come from.

“A what?” Lori gasped with the sound piercing the air again.

“Crap, if it wants the milk then it can have it!” Lori swore, throwing the bucket toward the terrifying sound and running to the back door of the house, screaming the entire way.

Jeff stood transfixed on the sound, coming from the tree line a second again. He knew he should run to the safety of the house like his sister had, but something held him there. Jeff found himself pulled toward the sound by an unknown force; one that was strong and extremely dark. He slowly walked toward the tree line unaware of the force pulling him onward until the shouts from his father pulled him out of the all-encompassing darkness.

“Jeff, what are you doing? Get in the house, NOW!” Gene ran out of the back door of the house, carrying his rifle.

Another growl came from the woods, but this time, it sounded as though it was further away.

“Get over here!” Gene yelled.

Jeff quickly ran to his side. “What were you thinking? That thing could have killed you!”

“I know; I’m sorry,” Jeff struggled to catch his breath.

“I don’t know what I was doing. It was like something was pulling me toward it, and I couldn’t stop,” Jeff hung his head, ashamed to look at his father.

Gene knew his son was not one to make up stories to get out of trouble, but this excuse was crazy. “What do you mean that something was pulling you? That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I don’t know how to explain it, Dad. I just know that something dark wanted me to go to it, and I had to do it.” Jeff glanced up at his dad, hoping he would understand the impossible.

“Well, let’s put this behind us and the next time you hear a wild animal that close to you, I want you to get your butt into the house, okay?” Gene groaned with a sense of dread building inside of him. He had just learned some terrible news about another family who lived a couple of miles up the road from them and he wanted to tell them about it before they heard it from someone else.

“I will, Dad. I promise.” Jeff tried to shake the strange feeling he had growing inside of him, but he was unsuccessful.

When they walked into the kitchen, Jeff had to laugh to hear an overly excited Lori telling their mother all about the monster with the red, glowing eyes that almost ate her.

“Knock it off, Lori,” Gene chuckled while putting his rifle back in the gun rack. “You didn’t see any monster with red eyes, but I do need to have a little talk with all of you about something critical.”

While putting the last of the breakfast dishes away in the cabinet, Velma asked, “Is everything okay? You seemed so secretive when you came home.”

“Why don’t we all sit down.” Gene took a few moments to think of the best way to tell them of what had happened to the Colton family.

Once they were all seated, Gene began to speak, “This morning when I got to the feed store, I heard some terrible news. I don’t know if any of you have heard of the Colton’s, who live about two miles up the road, but something terrible happened to them last night. The authorities aren’t sure exactly what it was, but they’re leaning toward some sort of animal attack. From what was being said, it was a slaughter. No one survived, and as a matter of fact it appears that whatever it was had to have been rather large.”

Gene had been told more information about the attack, but he didn’t want to frighten them even more.

Lori sat still, the color fading from her face. “But I just saw Jimmy yesterday afternoon…”

“What do you mean you saw Jimmy yesterday? When did you see him?” Velma saw a look of fear now appear on Lori’s face.

“I, uh, uh…” was the only words Lori could say before Jeff cut her off.

“We ran into him yesterday when we went on our walk. He was hanging out by Jumper’s Rock when we saw him, right, Lori?” He hoped this explanation would pacify their mother.

Lori first looked at Jeff, then over to her mother before speaking, “Yeah, that’s what happened. Are you saying that Jimmy is dead?”

“If he was a member of that family, then yes, he is.” Gene felt his heart skip a beat at the thought it could have just as easily been his family.

Lori did not want to believe her father. “How can Jimmy be dead? I just saw him yesterday; you must be wrong!” She cried out then stood and ran to her room.

“Is this all true, Gene? A family was murdered just a couple of miles from here?” Velma hoped that she had heard him wrong.

Gene wished that he did not have to tell them about it, but he knew sooner or later they would have heard about it anyway.

“I’m sure we don’t have anything to worry about. I heard they’re out looking for whatever it was, so I’m sure they’ll find it soon.” He looked at Jeff, “I need to go unload the feed. Come on, kid, I can use some help.”

***

Once the feed was unloaded and put in the barn, Gene motioned for Jeff to come sit by him. “Son, I didn’t want to worry your mother and sister any more than necessary, but I think you should know actually what happened to that family.”

Jeff could tell his father was upset, but he never could have prepared himself for what he heard next.

“I was not completely honest when I said something big attacked that family. What the authorities are saying is there had to have been several attackers involved. Those poor people didn’t have a chance. Whatever went into that house last night went in with one thing on its mind, and that was to slaughter that family.”

Gene took a moment to compose himself before continuing, “I was talking to Mark Rimes, who was a friend of Fred Colton at the feed store this morning and he told me that he had stopped by to pick up Fred to go fishing. He said they would call it their weekly escape from the wives. I wish you could have seen the expression on his face; the poor man was completely shaken up. He said he had arrived at 5 o’clock this the morning to pick up Fred when he noticed the front door was wide open. Mark stated that he thought it was strange since it was rather cool outside. He said he honked the horn a couple of times, but no response came from inside of the house. So, after several minutes, he decided to get out of his truck and walk to the front door. The poor man said he looked inside of the house, and what he saw brought him to his knees.” Gene swallowed, trying to control the fear swirling up from deep inside of him.

Jeff could see the fear in his father’s eyes and he knew it had to be something terrible to upset his father like that.

“What did he see?” Jeff held his breath and waited.

“Blood and body parts. Mark said he saw blood spattered all over the walls, the ceiling, in every corner of the room. He said he stepped inside of the door and tripped over an arm that was lying across the doorway. He said he’d never seen anything so horrible in his life, and he couldn’t imagine what would have done something so horrific. Some of the folks from the Sheriff’s department are saying it was some sort of bear or big cat, but Mark said there was no way it was one of those. Mark said whatever it was that killed that family was tall and strong. He said the front door had been ripped from its hinges and tossed so hard that it landed on the tool shed thirty feet away.”

Gene lit a cigarette and took a long drag on it. “He doesn’t know what killed that family, but Mark said whatever it was, didn’t do it for food. None of them had been eaten. They had been torn limb from limb and thrown around like old worn out toys.”

Gene took another drag on the cigarette, trying to calm his nerves. “Mark said something else that made no sense. He said he didn’t see any animal prints on the ground outside or bloody prints on the porch or inside of the house. You’d think if it was an animal attack there’d be some sort of paw prints, right?”

Jeff suddenly had a horrible thought come to him… the creature they had seen on the bluff.

“Dad, there’s something I need to tell you,” Jeff swallowed and prayed his dad wouldn’t be angry with him for not telling him what they had seen on the walk.

“Yesterday when Lori and I went on that walk and saw Jimmy, I wasn’t completely honest with you about what happened. Lori had wanted to go meet up with Jimmy Colton, and she talked me into taking her to Jumper’s Rock where he was supposed to meet her. I agreed to take her if she’d do my chores for a week.”

Jeff could see the displeasure on his father’s face as he continued, “Anyway, when we got there, Jimmy had already arrived, and he had a 22 rifle with him. Well, Lori wanted to visit with Jimmy alone, so I walked over to the creek bed and sat on some rocks to wait for them when I noticed a strange looking creature watching us from the top of the bluff across the creek. Dad, it wasn’t a typical animal you’d see in these woods. It sat on its haunches like a person would do with its lower arms resting on its thighs. It didn’t do anything to harm us; it just watched us. Well, that was until Jimmy decided to shoot at it.”

“He did what? Damn, stupid kid,” Gene groaned as he lit another cigarette.

“He missed it the first two times, but I on the third try… Dad, the third time Jimmy shot the creature cried out. I think he hit it.” Jeff, swallowed hard, realizing what this could mean.

Gene knew what Jeff was thinking, and he had to admit he was wondering the same thing himself. But animals wouldn’t follow you home for revenge sake.

“How big was this creature you saw?”

“I’m not sure, maybe five feet tall,” Jeff tried to remember.

“Well, that’s not tall enough to do what happened to the Coltons, unless…” Gene suddenly felt a new fear growing inside him.

“Unless what, Dad?” Jeff watched his father’s face turn ashen white.

“Unless the one watching you was a youngster and the adults of the group were pissed off that Jimmy had shot the young one,” Gene took a long drag off his cigarette then exhaled slowly.

Jeff did not understand what his father meant, “But Dad, that doesn’t make any sense. Bears or other animals don’t do that. You told me yourself they only attack when they feel threatened or are hungry. You said the Colton’s hadn’t been eaten, right?”

Gene looked at Jeff for a moment before he began, “I’ve heard stories of a large creature that lives in the woods around here, but no one has ever captured or killed one. They’re known to stand around ten feet tall and are covered with long, thick hair. When Mark was talking about the attack on the Coltons, he had mentioned there were deep scratches on the front door frame as well as on the ceiling in the living room. I hate to say this, but I wonder if it was an angry group of Big Foot that killed the Coltons.”

Jeff could not believe what his father was saying. He had heard of Big Foot before, but he had always thought they were just a myth and were only stories to scare small children.

“How can that be, Dad?’ Jeff tried to picture one in his mind. “I didn’t know they were mean. Everything I’ve ever seen on TV about them was that they stayed to themselves, unless…” Jeff suddenly felt a sickening feeling churn inside of him as the thought formed in his mind.

Gene could see that Jeff understood what he was referring to, “Yeah, you mentioned how Jimmy Colton had shot the small one watching you from the bluff, right? Well, maybe its parents didn’t like their young one being shot and decided to pay the aggressor and his family a visit.”

Jeff could feel the warmth leave his face at his father’s words, and then a new fear burst into his mind.

“Dad, it saw Lori and me as well!” Jeff felt his entire body grow cold at the thought of what could happen to them.

“You know something, I worried about that at first, but you and Lori didn’t try to hurt the small one, so I’m sure we’re safe from any revenge attack. I do, however, want you to stay out of the woods until this is solved, do I make myself clear?” Gene said with a look of fear clearly on his face.

“Yes, Sir, I promise to stay out of there. Besides, the last thing I want to do is run into that little one again and take the chance of upsetting its parents,” Jeff said with a nervous laugh.

“Good, now let’s get the rest of this grain put in the barrel, and then we’ll go work on that stretch of fence out by the pond before that stupid cow gets out and wanders off.” Gene tossed a bag of grain over his shoulder and walked into the barn with Jeff close behind him.

The rest of the day went along as usual. Gene and Jeff had finished the fence repair and were headed back to the house for some cold, sweet tea while Velma and Lori were busy making some dill pickles from the cucumbers and dill weed they had picked from the garden earlier.

“Mom, why do we have to make so many of these?” Lori groaned as she forced another cucumber into the jar.

Velma knew Lori was not the domestic type, so she had to laugh at the disgusted expression on Lori’s face as she shoved the cucumbers into each jar, along with a sprig of dill weed and a piece of fresh garlic.

“We do this so we’ll have them to eat later on. Now, pay attention to what you’re doing,” Velma said when she noticed Lori had forgotten to put the garlic in the last jar.

“Mom, I can’t believe he’s dead. He was so kind to me, and he always told me how I was pretty and smart,” Lori shoved the garlic into the jar as a stray tear flowed down her cheek.

Velma wished she had the proper words for a time such as this, but she could not come up with anything to say to ease the fear she felt herself. “I don’t know what killed that poor family, but I’m sure the authorities will get whatever it was. Now, let’s finished this so we can have some time to relax before dinner.”

Once they had finished canning the pickles, Lori helped her mother clean up the mess. “Mom, is it okay if I call Jolene? She was close friends with Susie Colton and maybe she knows more about what happened to them.”

Velma knew Lori was frightened by the murders, and she did not blame her. “Go on and talk with your friend, I’ll finish up here.”

“Thank you,” were the only words Lori said as she turned and walked out of the kitchen.

***

Lori could feel the tears streaming down her cheeks while Jolene told her the horrifying story of what had happened to the Coltons. She knew it was all the truth, but it seemed more like something out of a cheap horror movie.

“Lori, it’s just terrible what happened to them. My parents were talking, and I overheard my dad say that whatever it was ripped them to shreds. He said there were deep scratch marks all over the house, even on the ceiling and he said whatever it was had to be at least eight feet tall. He also said there was blood covered scratches on the tops of the doorways throughout the house, and even some of the ceiling was ripped out.”

Jolene paused a moment to compose herself before she continued, “Dad said the authorities plan to say it was a bear attack, but he said they aren’t really sure what it was because nothing was pointing toward it being a bear.”

Lori was numb and afraid to ask, but she had to know, “What does your dad think it was?”

Jolene had swallowed before she spoke, “He told my mother there’s talk of it being a Big Foot.” She knew it sounded foolish, but somehow it made more sense than a crazed bear.

“A Big Foot, but those aren’t real, are they?” Lori felt a new fear wash over her body.

Jolene knew how Lori felt because she felt the same way. “I know it sounds crazy, but I have to agree. I’ve heard stories of them from people who said they’ve seen them in the woods, but I never really believed in them until now. Those woods are thick, and it would be very easy for a creature to live in them and never be found.”

“Oh, my God, I think I saw one when I went to meet Jimmy at Jumper’s Rock yesterday,” Lori said with the fear clearly in her voice.

“It was on the other side of the creek up on the bluff. Jeff saw it first. It was down on its haunches, watching us then Jimmy shot at it…” her voice trailed off when a terrifying thought come to her.

“Could that be why they were attacked and killed? What if it was for revenge? Jimmy shot at it and finally hit the creature on the third try. What if its family decided to make sure Jimmy paid for what he’d done?” Lori’s mind was spinning now as she wondered if her family was next.

Jolene had the same thought come to her. “Lori, you need to tell this to the authorities. It might help them find out what happened and keep it from happening again.”

“Jolene, I’m scared. What if they come here for Jeff and me?” her voice was weak and full of fear.

“I don’t think they will because you two didn’t try to hurt it, right?” Jolene sought to ease Lori’s fear.

“Right, but …” Jolene cut her off before she could say more.

“Hey, whatever it was that killed them must have been upset and wanted to make a point. You know something; that makes sense now? Dad did say all the rifles in the house were broken in half and tossed outside. So, it makes sense, right?” Jolene said with a new excitement in her voice. “I don’t think it was a mindless animal that killed them, but it was something that went there knowing full well what it planned to do.”

Lori felt a cold chill wash over her body. Was Jolene correct? Were these creatures intelligent enough to plan the murder of an entire family?

“Lori, are you still there?” Jolene asked.

“Yeah, I’m still here. I’m just thinking,” Lori struggled to compose herself.

“I need to go. I’ll talk to my dad and tell him what happened. We’ll talk later, okay? Bye,” Lori hung up the phone and then sat in silence, unsure of what to do next.

Chapter 4

The next two weeks had gone by with no further attacks. Jeff had decided to release Lori from their deal of doing his chores because he wanted something to help take his mind off of what had happened. Besides, he knew she was terrified to walk out to the barn early in the morning to milk the cow.

The days seemed to drag on, so Jeff was thrilled when Mrs. Mays who lived about a mile up the road from them had asked if he would mow her yard. She said she was too old to do it, and she would pay him $5 a week to keep it up for her. Jeff, of course, had jumped at the chance to make some money, as well as to have something to help fill his days now that he was forbidden to go exploring in the woods.

It took Jeff most of the day to mow her large yard, but he did not mind. Mrs. Mays would always make him cold lemonade and feed him lunch, while she told him stories about the history of Greer Springs and the people who had lived there. He always looked forward to his time with Mrs. Mays and her stories.

***

“Your place has been around for a long time and has been owned by several families,” Mrs. Mays said as she refilled Jeff’s glass with lemonade.

“As a matter of fact, the last family bought your house in 1951. They had moved from New York City wanting to live a simpler life in the country. I remember when they moved in, so full of hope for a new life. It’s a shame what happened…” She then realized that maybe she should not say anymore.

“What happened?” Jeff asked breathlessly.

“Nothing, just the ramblings of a silly old woman.” She had hoped this would satisfy Jeff, but in reality, deep inside of her, she prayed history would not repeat itself.

~~~

It had been a beautiful spring day when Mr. and Mrs. Deming had moved to Greer Springs with their two young children. Charles Deming had worked as a janitor at one of the business buildings in New York City and his wife, Marilyn stayed home with their children, Bethany and Michael, ages four and two. They had scrimped and saved their money ever since they were first married, so when they finally had enough to get their dream home, they purchased a twenty-acre farm in southeast Missouri and headed off for their new life.

Charles had found the place listed in a small newspaper that had been left lying next to a trash can in one of the offices he cleaned every evening. He had never once wondered how a newspaper from Missouri ended up in an office so far away. He just figured it was fate, and he was meant to buy the farm for his family.

The day they arrived at the farm was the happiest of their lives, next to the birth of their children. It did not matter that the house was over-run with weeds and was in dire need of repair. Charles took one look at it and proudly proclaimed it would soon be the home of their dreams. Marilyn immediately started to clean the inside and turned the old house into a comfortable home while Charles made all the repairs outside. He repaired a large hole in the roof of the house from a fallen tree then he worked on the fence and barn, so they could have a cow, a few chickens and a couple of pigs. Once things were livable, Charles took a job in town at the local feed mill and Marilyn stayed home and continued with turning the old place into the home of their dreams.

Things could not have been more perfect. As the months progressed, Charles and Marilyn had made friends with several members of the local church and Marilyn had joined a group of women who met once a week to make quilts they would sell to help the needy and less fortunate. Everything was going along wonderfully until one fateful afternoon.

Marilyn had been sitting at the kitchen table, reading a book while the children were napping when she heard a strange noise come from the basement. She had gotten up and walked toward the basement door when she heard the noise again, but this time, it was different, it sounded like a child who was scared and crying.

“Oh, my Lord,” Marilyn grabbed the door handle and ran down the stairs, all the time wondering which of their children had managed to sneak passed her and open the locked door.

Once Marilyn reached the bottom of the stairs, she pulled the string on the light fixture hanging from the ceiling to turn on the light. However, what she saw caught her completely by surprise. All of her canned goods that had been carefully placed on the shelves along the wall were broken with the contents scattered across the basement floor.

“My goodness, what happened here?” Marilyn stood there, not quite sure of what to think.

“Mommy, are you okay?” Bethany asked as she tried to see her mother from the top of the stairs.

“Where’s your brother?” Marilyn frantically looked around the basement.

“He’s still sleeping. What’s wrong, Mommy? What happened to all of the food?” Bethany asked then started to walk down the stairs toward her mother.

“Stay where you are, there’s broken glass down here, and I don’t want you to get cut,” Marilyn walked back up the stairs to get her broom and dust pan.

“Mommy, what happened? How did they get broken?” No sooner did the words leave her mouth than she had a horrible thought come to her, “I didn’t do that mommy, I promise!”

Marilyn had to smile at the look of concern on Bethany’s face, “I know you didn’t do it. Now, don’t you worry about it, okay? Why don’t you get your basket and go out to the garden and pick us some green beans for our dinner tonight and I’ll get this mess cleaned up before your brother wakes up, okay?” Marilyn then touched the frightened child on the cheek and then reached for the broom and dustpan.

“Okay, Mommy.” Bethany walked to the counter and picked up the straw basket, and then walked toward the back door.

As Marilyn walked down the stairs into the basement a strange feeling washed over her, one of rage and fear churning up from the pits of her soul. She shook her head, trying to shake the feelings away, but they only seemed to increase with each step she took.

“What the heck is wrong with me?” Marilyn whispered when she reached the last step.

She looked around at the mess on the floor and wondered what had caused the jars to fall off the shelves. Marilyn had heard of earthquakes in this part of the country, but she did not feel anything when she was upstairs reading.

“All that work for nothing,” she fumed while she dragged a wash tub over to the pile of broken jars.

It took her several minutes to clean up all the spilled food and broken glass and put it in the washtub. Once she was done, she looked up the steep stairs and decided to leave the washtub there for Charles to take it out with the other trash.

***

Marilyn was exhausted. She had prepared dinner, washed the dishes, gotten both of the children bathed and ready for bed, so now all she wanted to do was to relax and read a bit before bed.

“I don’t understand what could have caused all of those jars to crash to the floor like that. Are you sure you didn’t feel anything?” Charles was surprised to learn of the incident in the basement earlier. He knew Marilyn must be upset because of all the hours of hard work she put into to the canning and making jam, only to have it splattered across the basement floor.

“Charles, I’m really in no mood to talk about it. I’m tired and upset. I’d just like to relax and finish reading this book if you don’t mind.”

The expression on her face let him know she was serious. He hated to see her upset like this, but he decided to heed her warning and leave her alone.

The only thing disrupting the silence in the room was the ticking of the clock on the wall. Charles had fallen asleep in his chair, while Marilyn sat in hers reading a book. Neither of them heard the children sneak down the stairs and go into the kitchen. Neither of them heard the lock on basement door unlatch, allowing the children to enter.

***

“Come on, Charles, it’s time to get up for work.” Marilyn nudged him on the shoulder as she climbed out of bed.

“Just five more minutes…” Charles rolled over, pulling the blanket up around his shoulders.

“No, you don’t have time to sleep more. It took me forever to get you to come to bed last night. I thought there for a second that I was going to have to carry you to bed.” She tried to feign anger, but the glint in her eyes betrayed her.

“Okay, okay, I’ll get up, but I want coffee ready when I get to the kitchen. I can’t seem to wake up.”

“I’ll go make it now. I’ll even add an extra scoop of grounds to make it stronger, how’s that?” Marilyn then laughed at the smile appearing on his face. “Okay, extra strong it is.”

Marilyn grabbed her thick robe from the chest at the end of the bed and slipped her feet into her house shoes.

“Don’t take too long. You know how the children hate to wait for their breakfast.”

Marilyn waited for Charles to sit up on the edge of the bed before she left the room. When she walked out into the hallway, she noticed the sun was shining brightly through the window at the top of the stairs, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

“What a perfectly lovely day,” Marilyn said to herself.

She decided to go on down to the kitchen and prepare the coffee before waking up the children. For some reason, she wanted to keep this beautiful silence to herself a little while longer.

As she reached the bottom of the staircase, she noticed a sudden drop in temperature. “That’s odd.”

Marilyn knew that heat rose, but this was such a drastic difference in temperature than it was upstairs. Pushing the thought aside, she walked toward the kitchen, and with each step the temperature seemed to drop steadily.

By the time she had reached the door to the kitchen, she could see her breath in front of her face.

“Once I make the coffee, I better start the furnace. The children don’t need to catch a chill.”

When her hand touched the doorknob, Marilyn had a sudden feeling of dread wash over her. Her body began to tremble, and her heart raced wildly in her chest. “What is wrong with me?”

Her shaking hand turned the doorknob, and then slowly opened the door. Nothing could have prepared Marilyn for what she saw. The door to the basement was wide open and sitting on the floor in the opening was a small stuffed toy.

“Oh, my God,” Marilyn cried out as she ran to the open door.

“What’s wrong. What’s all the shouting about?” Charles rushed into the kitchen.

“When I came into the kitchen, I noticed that the basement door was wide open. I distinctly remember locking it last night.” She then reached down and picked up the stuffed toy then held it out for Charles to see.

“Okay, I want you to go upstairs and see if the children are still in bed. I’m sure this has a simple explanation. I’ll look in the basement and see if a varmint somehow got in.”

Marilyn looked down into the dark basement then back to Charles. “You’re probably right. I’m sure the children are tucked safely in their beds. I’ll go wake them up so we can have breakfast.”

Charles waited for Marilyn to leave the room before he walked over to the basement door. He could not explain it, but something told him the children had somehow managed to get the lock undone and went down there. He inhaled deeply then stepped on the first step.

Marilyn knew she was being foolish to believe the children had somehow unlocked the door and went down into the basement. First of all, Michael was too short to even reach it, and Bethany would never be strong enough to unclasp the latch.

As she topped the stairs the warmth of the sun touched her face through the window. “It’s too beautiful of a day for anything bad to happen,” she chuckled to herself. She then turned and walked to the children’s bedroom door.

They’re not in their beds…I have them, a dark and ominous voice filled her mind.

“What? Charles, did you say something?” Marilyn turned around, but no one was there.

“That’s odd. I thought I heard Charles,” Marilyn laughed nervously to herself while opening the door

The room seemed to close in on Marilyn as she stared at the empty beds. “Oh, my God!”

She turned and rushed down the stairs as quickly as her feet could carry her. The staircase now seemed somehow longer, as though new steps miraculously appeared, preventing her from reaching the ground floor.

“Please, Lord, help me!” The urgent prayer escaped her lips only to be consumed by the pounding of her heart.

Marilyn did not know how she had managed to get back to the kitchen. She called out for Charles but was met with stone-cold silence.

Come join them. They are waiting for you, the dark and ominous voice whispered from deep inside of her soul.

“I don’t understand what you mean. Are they in the basement?” Marilyn felt her sanity steadily slip away with each passing moment.

Her body quivering with fear, Marilyn knew she must face what awaited her in the darkness of the basement. She inhaled deeply and then moved forward.

With each step, she felt the air grow colder, wrapping around her like death itself.

As her foot touched the basement floor, she paused a moment, unsure if she wanted to see what awaited her.

“Charles…” Silence.

“Bethany…Michael.” Silence.

It is time… the dark and ominous voice prodded her on.

Marilyn lifted a trembling hand and pulled the string for the light bulb hanging from the ceiling. What appeared before her, destroyed the remainder of her sanity.

“NO, this cannot be real!” Marilyn stumbled backward, falling back onto the stairs.

A sickening sensation consumed Marilyn, as sorrowful wails escaped her lip. There in the harsh light of the single bulb, were the bloodied and lifeless bodies of her family. Both of the children were placed next to the shelves where the canned goods had been stacked the day before. The deep gashes in each throat, clearly showing the method of their deaths. She then focused her attention on the lifeless form of George, lying face down on the floor with a knife handle protruding from his back mere inches from where she had stood moments before.

Why do you retreat? Why do you deny what you have done? The voice from deep inside her mind taunted.

Marilyn struggled to make sense of what played out before her. She blinked several times then lifted her hands to wipe the tears stinging her eyes. “What is this?”

The vision of bright red blood staining her hands caught Marilyn by surprise. “How is this possible. I didn’t do this…did I?”

Foolish one. Do you not remember? Do you not remember carrying your sleeping children down the stairs last night one by one? Then taking your favorite kitchen knife and slitting their tender throats then leaving them to die. Do you not remember luring your unsuspecting husband to his death? How trusting he was when you told him that you heard something running around in the basement. He never expected you would drive the same knife you had killed the little ones with, deep into his back before you shoved him down the stairs.

“Stop it, stop it; it’s all lies!” Marilyn wailed and thrashed about on the steps.

You know it’s true. You wanted them dead. You said you were tired of being nothing more than a nursemaid to two sniveling brats and vessel for your husband’s sexual needs.

“No, it’s not true…I love my family! This has to be a nightmare. It cannot be true. I didn’t kill them, I wouldn’t…” Marilyn cried uncontrollably, praying she was trapped in a horrible nightmare.

You know the authorities will find you guilty of three murders, and you’ll die alone in the gas chamber. Is that what you want? The voice said with mock concern.

“No, but if I truly did this then I deserve death,” her voice cracked as she gazed upon the carnage torturing her mind.

Marilyn knew what she must do, but did she have the courage to go through with it? Struggling to her feet, she walked back upstairs. Marilyn had never fired the handgun Charles kept in the locked drawer by the back door. She would often watch him clean it, and he had even shown her how to load and fire it, but she had never wanted to actually use the gun. That is what George was supposed to do, not her. She opened the cabinet door and pulled the skeleton key from the nail inside to unlock the drawer.

The metal of the gun felt cool against her skin, and she marveled how light it was in her hand. After she had returned the key to its place on the nail, she closed the cabinet door, and walked back over to the door leading down to the basement. She paused a moment, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Why do you hesitate? The voice now seemed annoyed by her weakness.

“I can’t believe this is happening. We were happy. We worked so hard to get here; to finally have our own home. I just don’t understand…” Marilyn sighed, surrendering to her fate, and then placed her foot on the first step.

~~~

Mrs. Mays watched Jeff as he sipped on his lemonade. She wanted to warn him about the evil in that house, but how does one tell something so horrific to such a young child.

She closed her eyes, allowing her mind to wander back to that horrible day nearly thirty years ago.

~~~

“I wonder where Marilyn is? She’s never late,” Kathryn laughed while she looked at her wristwatch for the third time. “If she’s not here in ten minutes, we’ll just have to start without her.”

“On my way here, I noticed that Charles’ pickup was parked by the shed. I thought it strange since he’s usually at work by six each morning,” Charlotte chimed in.

“Well, if she’s not coming, she could have let someone know. She’s supposed to be bringing the cookies,” Donna rolled her eyes at this inconvenience to their plans.

“I was looking forward to her cinnamon raisin oatmeal cookies,” Betsy grinned, licking her lips.

All of the women exchanged glances and then laughed at how foolish they were being over cookies.

They had just started working on their latest quilt when the telephone began to ring. Kathryn stood from the quilt stand and walked over to the phone sitting on a small table by the window. “Hello.”

After a couple of moments, Kathryn hung up the phone and turned to face the group of ladies gathered in the room. Her face was ashen white, with tears filling her eyes.

“What’s wrong? Did something bad happen?” Charlotte was the first to break the silence.

Kathryn tried to steady herself, but her legs crumbled beneath her, causing her to slump to the floor.

While the other women exchanged frightened glances, Charlotte rushed over to Kathryn and helped her to a chair.

“What’s wrong? What was the phone call about?” Charlotte grabbed a glass of tea from the table and handed it to Kathryn.

It had taken several moments before Kathryn was finally able to speak. “It’s Marilyn…she’s dead. The whole family is dead.”

A collective gasp filled the room as the women tried us process this announcement.

“No, that’s not possible. I just saw them yesterday. She was in her garden with Bethany. She can’t be dead,” Charlotte fought back the tears forming in her eyes.

“How did it happen?” Donna asked, hoping this was all a mistake.

“The Sheriff says that Marilyn carried the babies down to the basement and killed them first by slitting their throats then she stabbed Charles in the back and pushed him down the stairs into the basement.” Kathryn shook her head from side-to-side, not wanting to believe her own words.

“You said they were all dead. What happened to Marilyn?” Donna’s face was wet with tears as she tried to compose herself.

Kathryn looked directly at the group of woman, not wanting to say the next words. “The Sheriff found her slumped over Charles’ body with a bullet in her head. He surmised once she realized what she had done, she couldn’t live with the guilt of her brutal actions.”

“Oh, …my… Lord,” the women all stammered in unison at hearing the fate of their friend.

~~~

“Mrs. Mays, are you okay?” Jeff reached over and gently touched her on the hand.

“Oh, yes, I’m fine. Would you like some more lemonade?”

“No, thank you; are you sure you’re feeling okay?” Jeff could see the worried expression on her face.

“I’m fine. I just remembered something that happened a long time ago. I really like you, and I hope we are friends,” she looked at Jeff with a toothless grin.

“Yes, Ma’am, I think we’re friends,” Jeff returned the smile.

“Good. First of all, I want you to call me, Kathryn. Mrs. Mays is far too formal for friends, okay?”

Jeff nodded his head with a big smile on his face.

“Wonderful. Second, as my friend, I want you to make me a promise.” Her expression suddenly grew serious.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“If your mama ever starts acting strange, I want you to run over here as fast as you can. Do you understand me?”

“I don’t understand what you mean, Mrs… I mean, Kathryn.”

“Please just trust me, okay?”

“Okay, I will.” Jeff looked up at the clock hanging on the wall above the kitchen window. “Oh, man, I need to get going. I have chores to do at home.”

He jumped up from the table and put his dirty glass in the sink. “Goodbye, I’ll see you next week.”

“Goodbye, and remember what I said.” Once he was gone, Kathryn stood and walked over to the sink to wash his glass. She glanced out of the window and watched him grab the lawn mower and start pushing it down the dirt road toward his house.

“Dear Lord, please watch over that boy and his family, and keep whatever evil lives in that house from harming them as it did my friend and her family all those years ago.”

Chapter 5

Jeff sat on the stool, wondering what had upset Kathryn so much. He positioned the milk bucket under the cow and then gently patted her on the side. “Good girl, at least the only thing you have to worry about is eating and getting milked twice a day.”

The cow lifted her head out of the trough and looked back at Jeff with a mouthful of hay.

“You look like you’re enjoying that,” Jeff chuckled when the cow shook her head and returned to her meal. “Well, I better get you milked before you finish eating.”

Jeff leaned his head against the cow’s side and began milking her, lost in his thoughts. The bucket was nearly full, and the cow had about finished eating when Jeff heard a strange noise outside.

“Who’s there? Lori, if that’s you trying to scare me, it’s not working,” Jeff hoped to not only convince her, but himself.

Silence.

“Come on, Lori; knock it off.” Jeff stood, moved the bucket aside, and then slowly walked toward the barn door. Just as he was about to step outside, a gust of wind slammed the barn door shut. This, of course, caused Jeff to jump back and the cow to moo.

“Don’t be afraid, girl. It was just the wind.” Jeff hoped his words were true, as he tried to shake off the feeling that something strange was about to happen. He then decided to walk over to the barn door and look outside.

It seemed surprisingly cool for a late summer evening. The humidity of the day seemed to have dissipated, and the common flying bugs were nowhere to be found. Jeff looked around the area, but nothing seemed out of place. The laundry that his mom had hanging on the clothesline was still there, as well as the wheelbarrow his dad had leaned against the shed; nothing appeared out of place. Deciding that he must have just imagined the sound, Jeff turned and walked back inside of the barn to put the cow in her stall for the night. After she was secure, Jeff picked up the bucket of milk and walked outside it was louder.

“What is that?” Jeff suddenly had a strange feeling overcome him. As, though, something horrible had happened.

“Stop it; you’re probably just jumpy after everything that’s happened lately,” Jeff chided himself. He knew he was just being foolish, but for some reason, he could not shake the feeling that he needed to prepare for danger.

Pushing the unsettling fear aside, Jeff walked toward the Hog pen. As he walked, Jeff thought back to the first time Lori fed the pigs their bucket full of sour mash. He knew that he would never forget the expression on her face when she lifted the lid off the barrel of fermented corn.

“Oh, my God, they eat this stuff?” she had gagged while stepping away from the barrel.

“Sure they do, and they love it,” Jeff remembered laughing at the way she covered her mouth as though she was about to be sick.

Jeff knew his sister would never be the type to want to stay on a farm. Lori would often say that as soon as she was eighteen-years-old, she was moving back to civilization.

“Well, I don’t care what she thinks; I like it here.”

Jeff had just walked around the chicken coop when he heard the strange sound again, and now he realized that it seemed to be coming from the direction of the Hog’s pen.

“Damn, what have they done now?” Jeff picked up the pace, hoping they hadn’t broken anything.

When he rounded the shed, what he saw stopped him in his tracks. “What the hell?”

The sight of blood and pig body parts on the ground inside of the pen caused Jeff to take a step back. While he looked around the area, he slowly set the bucket on the ground next to him.

He heard the sound once more and this time realized it was the broken gate to the pen, gently swinging on the only attached hinge.

“What did this?” the words escaped his lips, without him realizing that he had said them.

He knew wolves would not be able to rip the heavy gate loose. No; this had to have been something much larger.

As he surveyed the area, something caught his eye. “Oh, God…”

Jeff had never been one to be squeamish, but what he saw on the roof of the shelter made his stomach empty its contents on the ground at his feet.

Once he had composed himself, Jeff looked back up at the offending object. There in the glow of the evening sun was the head of one of the pigs. It was sitting on the edge of the roof with entrails dangling from the snout, like a warning to others of the carnage bestowed on the helpless victims.

“No wolf could have done this. Heck, I don’t even think it could have been a bear.” Suddenly a sickening idea came to Jeff. “Could this be a warning to me?”

While he had not been the one to shoot at the young creature, he was there. He then had a horrifying thought come into his mind, Mom…Lori…

As he rushed toward the house, Jeff said a prayer that they were both in the kitchen preparing the evening meal. With each step, he wondered if he would find the same scene in the house as he had at the hog’s pen.

“Mom!…Lori!…” his heart raced as he ran up the steps to the back door.

“My goodness, what’s the matter with you,” Velma turned away from the stove when Jeff swung open the door and rushed inside.

“I was… I thought maybe…” the words caught in his throat with each gasp for air.

“What is wrong with you? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost,” Velma could see he was upset, but this was beyond just being upset. He looked genuinely frightened. “Come on, sweetheart. Take a seat and calm down then tell me what has you so upset.”

Velma handed him a glass of water then she sat in the chair across the table from him and waited for him to speak.

Jeff took a sip of the water, then he sat the glass on the table. “Mom, I don’t quite know how to tell you this…”

Velma could tell by his demeanor this news would not be good.

Jeff swallowed again and then spoke, his words causing Velma to gasp.

“Something slaughtered the pigs. They’re all dead, and whatever did it put the head of one of them on the roof of the shelter in their pen.” Tears streamed down his cheeks as the vision of what he had found replayed in his mind.

“What? But how? When?” Velma felt an ominous chill consume her body. She looked at Jeff for an answer.

“It had to have happened while I was at Mrs. Mays. They were all there this morning, but after milking the cow I went to feed them and found…” he could not bring himself to say the words again.

“I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary today…unless…” her mind drifted to the time she had spent in the basement making some lye soap and rearranging the shelves with her canned goods.

“Mom, where’s Lori?” Jeff sat upright in his seat, suddenly realizing he had not heard her when he came into the house.

“Oh, she wanted to go shopping in town with one of her friends. Her mother took the girls with her to get some last minute school supplies. She should be coming home any time now, why?”

Jeff exhaled and slouched back in his seat. “Good, at least I know she’s safe.”

Velma could not believe what he was saying. How could something have killed the pigs and not alerted her to their presence? She then realized why Jeff was concerned about where Lori was. “You think whatever killed our pigs, killed that family too, don’t you?”

Jeff gazed into his mother’s frightened face and shook his head, “Yes, I do.”

“But why would they…”

Jeff cut her off before she could continue, “Mom, I was there when Jimmy shot at the small creature.”

“What…what are you saying?” Velma’s eyes were wide with fear as she thought of what had happened to Jimmy’s entire family.

Jeff swallowed, trying to think of how best to tell his mother what had happened that afternoon along the creek. “Remember when Lori, and I went for that walk?”

Velma silently nodded her head.

“Well, I saw something up on the bluff on the other side of the creek. It was down on it haunches, just watching us.”

“Down on his haunches; I don’t understand. Was it a man?” Velma reached for a napkin to wipe a stray tear that was flowing down her cheek.

Jeff shook his head. “No, I don’t know what it was. The sun was to its back so I couldn’t make it out very well, but I can tell you it wasn’t anything I’ve ever seen before.”

Velma tried to make sense of his words, but she found her mind going back to whatever had killed the Coltons. “So, what do you think it was?”

“I don’t know, but whatever it was I think others of its kind didn’t like that Jimmy shot it.”

“He did what? Oh, my, do you think that’s why they were all killed?” Velma pressed her hand to her chest, trying to steady her beating heart. “You don’t believe that they are after us, do you? Does your father know about this?”

Jeff reached across the table and took his mother’s hand in his. “I’m so sorry, Mom. I never thought…”

The sound of the back door slamming shut caused them both to jump in their seat.

“You’re sorry for what? What did you do this time,” Lori snickered as she walked over to the table and sat next to Jeff.

Before Jeff could respond, Velma spoke, her words dripping with fear and anger, “Don’t pick on your brother. Something horrible has happened, so this is no time for foolishness.”

Lori was taken aback by this harsh response. “Okay, I’m sorry. Sheez, I was only joking.”

Jeff glanced over at his sister and forced a smile. “That’s okay, Mom; she didn’t mean anything. We need to tell her, though.”

Lori looked at Jeff and then to her mother. “Okay, what’s going on here?”

Neither of them responded.

Fear gripped Lori as her mind began to create the most frightening of scenarios. “Oh, my God, it’s not Dad, is it? Has something happened to Dad?”

“No, no, nothing has happened to your father,” Velma insisted, hoping this would calm Lori.

Lori’s brow furrowed. She gazed at her mother as though trying to evaluate her honesty, “Okay, what happened that has the two of you so upset?”

Velma glanced at Jeff. She was at a loss of how to explain what had happened. Velma knew it was her place to explain things to Lori, but she could not seem to find the proper words.

Lori at seeing the pained expression on her mother’s face turned toward Jeff. “Well, maybe you can explain things to me?”

Jeff was surprised that Lori would turn to him. She had never respected his opinion before, so he was caught off guard that she would now.

He swallowed to steady his nerves before he spoke, “I had mowed Mrs. Mays yard today. We were sitting in her kitchen talking and drinking lemonade when I realized it was getting late. So, I rushed home and went out to the barn to milk the cow and do my chores. When I had finished milking the cow, I heard a strange noise.”

Lori crossed her arms and glared at Jeff as though annoyed that he was dragging out his explanation.

Seeing the expression on her face, he decided he would just blurt out what he had found. “Something killed the pigs. I don’t believe it was wolves or a big cat because whatever did it ripped them apart without eating them.”

The expression of annoyance on Lori’s face was now replaced with one of shock and fear. “I…I don’t understand. Are you saying that you believe the same creatures that killed Jimmy’s family, killed our pigs?”

Lori glanced over at her mother and then back to Jeff.

“I don’t know, but I’m worried that it could be.” Jeff hung his head, no wanting to look into the frightened face of his sister.

“Mom, have you called Dad and told him?” Lori turned to face Velma, her face now ashen white with fear.

Velma shook her head, “No, I haven’t. I didn’t want to upset him at work. He’ll be home soon, so we’ll tell him then.”

“I don’t understand how this could have happened. You need to call Dad…”

Jeff interrupted, “Listen, there’s nothing that Dad can do. When he gets home, he’ll go out and look around. We’re safe. If whatever it was wanted to hurt us, we’d already be dead. I think it was a warning.”

Lori began to speak but decided that Jeff was probably right. “I cannot believe this is happening. First Jimmy’s family and now this. Mom, I’m scared.”

When they had left Amy behind to finish out the school year, Velma had wondered if they were doing the right thing. However, now as she looked into the eyes of her two precious children, she said a silent prayer of thanks that Amy had decided to stay the summer to work on the tomato harvesters. It was hot and dirty work, but the pay was decent, and it would give her some money toward college expenses.

“I know you are. So am I. Why don’t you help me get dinner ready while your brother takes a shower?” She glanced over at Jeff and smiled, “I’m sorry, but I can smell you all the way across the table.”

Lori nudged Jeff and giggled, “Well, I didn’t want to say anything, but…”

Jeff looked at his sister and grinned, “Hey, I don’t stink. I smell manly.”

“Well, if that’s what a man smells like, I don’t think I’m in any rush to grow up,” Lori teased playfully.

Velma stressed that she wanted to wait until after dinner to tell their father about what had happened to the pigs. “There’s no sense in upsetting him on an empty stomach.”

***

Gene stood in amazement of the carnage before him. “Damn, there’s no way wolves or a wildcat ripped that gate off of the hinges like that.”

“What do you think did it, Dad?” Jeff waited for the answer he dreaded to hear.

“I’m not sure, but I’m leaning to whatever it was that killed that family. Come on, let’s go to the house. I need to call the Sheriff and let him know about this.”

Jeff glanced up at his father and could see the worried expression on his face. Without saying another word, Gene turned around and started walking back toward the house with Jeff silently following behind him. For a brief moment, Jeff turned and looked back over his shoulder at the devastation, wondering what was ahead for his family.

***

The sun was sitting low in the sky when Sheriff Frank Summons arrived with a couple of his Deputies, and two of the local men. Gene had met them at the house and then led them all out to the hog pen.

“Damn, what could have done this?” Carl Hanes, one of the men who worked with Gene at the feed mill groaned, while he shook his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know, but I know it wasn’t a pack of wolves or a bear. Look, there are no tracks in the blood. If it were wolves or a bear, there would be tracks.” Frank then grimaced when he realized what he had just said.

“I think it’s one of them Bigfoot creatures, we’ve all heard about that lives in the woods around here,” Jim Knox, a friend of Frank’s chimed in.

Suddenly silence gripped the group of men as they turned and focused their attention on Jim.

Laughter finally broke the uncomfortable silence, as Frank slapped Jim on the shoulder. “Come on, Jim; there ain’t no such thing as a Bigfoot. You’ve been listening to that nutty teacher at the High School again, haven’t you? Besides, there’d be big footprints, right?” Frank laughed, with the rest of the men joining in.

“Well, if that’s not what it is, then what do you think had enough strength to rip those lag bolts out of that wooden post? Also, if I remember correctly there were no footprints left behind at the Colton place,” Jim glared at Frank, waiting for an answer.

An uneasy feeling came over the group of men as they contemplated the idea of a giant blood-thirsty creature roaming the woods that left no tracks on the ground.

“If these creatures have been living in the woods around us for all of this time, why are they all of a sudden attacking us? It doesn’t make any sense,” Deputy Weiler spoke up.

The men then exchanged worried glances, nodding their heads in agreement. It was strange how there had never been an attack reported of any sort until these last two.

“Well, I don’t understand it either, but something has pissed off these creatures big-time,” Deputy Chester added.

As Jeff listened to the exchange between the men, he felt a sense of doom building up from deep inside on him. He knew why the creatures were on the attack, and he also knew there was a chance they would return and this time finish what they had started.

Jeff cleared his throat, trying to summon the courage to speak, “Sheriff, I know why they’re attacking.”

Every man in the group turned and stared at Jeff; their eyes burrowing into him like laser beams.

“Jeff, be quiet, you don’t need…” Gene tried to stop Jeff from speaking, but Frank interrupted him.

“Go, on, son; what do you have to say,” Frank glared at Jeff, wondering what the boy knew about these events.

Jeff glanced at his father, then back to Frank before speaking, “It happened the day before the first attack. Lori wanted to meet Jimmy Colton by Jumper’s Rock, so I took her there because if not careful, she’d get lost in our backyard.”

The men all chuckled.

“Hush, let the boy speak,” Frank grumbled.

Jeff glanced up at his father, who nodded with an encouraging smile. “I was sitting by the creek, waiting for Lori and Jimmy to get finished talking. I was tossing some rocks in the water when I saw something watching us from up on the bluff across the creek.”

The men all perked to attention now.

Unnerved by the men all staring at him, Jeff swallowed then continued, “I’d never seen anything like it before. I looked up on the bluff, and there it was, sitting on its haunches like this.” Jeff squatted down, showing the men what the creature had done.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a man?” Deputy Chester scoffed.

Jeff stood again, squaring his shoulders, “No, it wasn’t a man. I couldn’t make out its face because the sun was to its back, but I know it wasn’t a man. It looked like it was covered in hair, and I didn’t see it wearing any clothes when it stood to run away after…”

“After what?” Frank demanded, taking a step toward Jeff.

Gene, not liking this advancement on his son, stepped between them. “Calm down, Sheriff. We’re all upset about what’s been happening lately, but if you listen to him, I promise that he’ll tell you everything he knows.”

Once Frank had stepped back, Gene turned toward Jeff, “Go ahead, Son; tell them the rest of what happened.”

Jeff met his father’s gaze and returned the smile. “Thanks, Dad.”

Jeff turned to face Frank and forced back the tears now stinging the corners of his eyes then he cleared his throat before speaking, “When I stood to get a better look at the creature, Jimmy and Lori wanted to know what I was looking at. Jimmy had brought a 22 rifle with him, and decided to take a shot at the creature.”

Jeff hung his head, gathering his thoughts before continuing, “He shot at it and missed it, so he decided to shoot at it again…”

“Crap, did he hit it?” Jim interrupted.

“Shut up, Jim, and let him tell the story,” Gene shot back, angry at how this was making Jeff feel.

Jim glanced over at Gene wanting to protest but thought better of it when Gene braced himself in a fighting stance.

“Knock it off you two. Let the kid tell his story,” Frank motioned to Jeff to continue.

“He missed it on the first two tries, but I think he hit it on the third one,” Jeff quivered, remembering the sound the creature had made when it ran away.

“By move away, you do mean on all fours, right?” Frank glared at Jeff, demanding an honest answer.

Jeff held Frank’s glare, and replied in a clear and concise voice, “No, it’s like I said, it stood and moved out of sight on two legs, just like you and me. It was about 5-feet tall, so I believe it was a young one. I think that’s why it was interested in us.”

The group of men broke out in nervous mumbling at the thought of something human-like running around in the woods with the strength to kill an entire family and several pigs in such a brutal manner.

“Sheriff, I believe that’s why they killed Jimmy and his family. It was revenge for shooting at the young one that was watching us. I’m sure its family wasn’t too happy about Jimmy shooting it.”

The men all broke out into nervous mumbling. None of them wanting to accept this story as fact; other than Gene who met Jeff’s tear-filled gaze.

“Stop it, this is utter bullshit,” Frank shouted. “I don’t believe for one second that we have a bunch of vengeful Bigfoot creatures running around in these woods. I’m sure the kid has a great imagination and all, but I just cannot accept his story as fact. Everything I’ve ever heard about them on those TV shows is they aren’t aggressive, and they leave behind big footprints on the ground.”

Frank then paused a moment, scratching his head. “Maybe there’s something we’re missing here. I bet this is a prank to scare the kid and his sister. I bet they told their friends about what happened when Jimmy shot at whatever it was out there, and some kids decided to play a cruel prank.”

“Just what the hell are you trying to say,” Gene glared at Frank as though he had lost his mind.

“I’m saying there is no way this was done by any animals. There is no way an animal could rip that gate off of the post and kill those pigs without leaving tracks behind. I bet a few of the local hoodlums thought it would be funny to make it look like a pack of wild animals did this,” Frank squared his jaw, trying to not only convince the men now staring dumbfounded at him, but also himself.

Deputy Chester began to speak but thought better of it when he saw the expression on Frank’s face.

“Well, Sheriff, I understand that you don’t want to admit that something strange has happened here, but that has to be the most ridiculous line of bullshit I’ve ever heard,” Gene rolled his eyes and chuckled.

Frank was about to respond when the rest of the men burst out laughing.

“He has you there, Frank,” Jim slapped Frank on the shoulder and snickered.

Frank was about to respond to the insult but decided to hold his anger in check. “Gene, I’ll write up a report of this incident, but as of now, I have no idea what killed your hogs.”

Frank glanced over at the two Deputies, who were doing their best to stifle their laughter. “Get some pictures of the scene. It’s getting late, and it will be dark soon.”

Chapter 6

The next few weeks passed without anything unusual happening. The school year had finally begun, so Jeff and Lori were glad to have something to take their minds off of the events of the summer.

Lori had wasted no time getting involved in the normal high school activities. Jeff, on the other hand, seemed to stay to himself.

“Hey, Jeff, why don’t you sign up for the basketball team? I bet you’re quick on your feet,” Rick Adams shouted across the hallway while Jeff was getting his books out of his locker for his next class.

“No, thanks; I don’t have the time.” Jeff had thought of joining the basketball team, but with everything that had happened the last few months he just wanted to stay to himself. For some strange reason, he felt something else was about to happen, and he wanted to be on alert.

“Man, you should join us. It would be a great way to get to know people,” Rick prodded.

Jeff knew that Rick was probably right, but he simply shrugged his shoulders and shut the locker door. “I need to get to class.”

Rick was about to push Jeff more but thought better of it. “Okay, it’s your loss. That just leaves more cheerleaders for me.”

Seeing the gleeful expression on Rick’s face caused Jeff to chuckle, “I’m sure you can handle them just fine.”

With a broad grin on his face and a swagger in his step, Jeff watched Rick walk toward his next class. Jeff had to admit that he liked Rick, but he had no desire to get involved in school activities or chasing cheerleaders at this time.

***

“I heard that you were invited to join the basketball team today but turned them down. I thought you loved to play basketball?” Lori slid into the seat next to Jeff on the school bus for the ride home.

“Yeah, but how did you hear about it?” He moved over to give Lori more room.

“Come on, you know there are no secrets in this small town,” Lori snickered while she struggled to balance her stack of books on her lap.

Jeff glanced over at her and rolled his eyes. That was one thing he had come to dislike. It seemed as though people would know of things even before you did.

“I kind of understand why you didn’t, though,” Lori met Jeff’s questioning gaze.

“It’s because you feel it too.” The color drained from Lori’s face and was now replaced with a pale expression of fear.

Jeff sat transfixed, unsure of how to respond. He had felt a nagging fear of dread ever since the day he found the slaughtered pigs. Jeff had tried to push it aside as mere foolishness but was unsuccessful, and with each passing day, it only seemed to grow. Jeff was unable to put a finger on it, but he knew something was about to happen and it would be bad for his family.

Jeff was the first to look away. A sense of foreboding seemed to fill his soul, and Jeff did not want to frighten Lori any more than she already was.

Realizing that Jeff was in no mood for conversation, Lori focused her attention on the voices of the other students, as the bus bounced down the long gravel road.

***

It had been a particularly difficult day for Velma. It seemed as though everything she tried to accomplish ended up going wrong.

It had begun after everyone had left for the day. Velma had decided to catch up on some laundry, but the waterline on the washer started leaking all over the basement floor. Then once she had solved that problem by replacing the rubber washer, the dryer stopped working.

Velma had never minded hanging sheets out on the clothesline, but the bath towels were a different matter. She would always complain how they were not soft enough. Once Velma had all of the laundry washed and hanging on the line, she decided to do some cleaning in the basement. She figured since the floor was already wet, it was a good time to clean.

The single bulb hanging from the ceiling, flickered several times, casting a strange shadow along the wall.

“Damn, are you going to break on me too?” Velma cursed under her breath, then chuckled at how foolish she must look by talking to a light fixture.

She reached down to pick up the mop bucket then heard a strange sound, emanating from the wall behind the shelves where she had her canned goods all stacked nicely in a row.

She paused a moment and listened again.

Nothing.

Shaking it off as her imagination, Velma lifted the bucket and turned toward the sink.

It is time.

“What?” Velma set the bucket back on the floor and turned around, trying to see who had spoken. “Who said that?”

Silence.

Velma listened, wondering if she was just hearing things. After a few moments, she picked up the bucket and emptied the dirty water into the sink. While she was rinsing the sediment out of the bottom of the bucket, she heard the sound of breaking glass.

“Oh, my Lord!” the words escaped her lips when she spun around toward the loud sound.

Nothing could have prepared Velma for what she saw on the basement floor. Where moments before was a freshly mopped floor, was now covered in broken canning jars and spilled food. “Crap, how did that happen?”

Velma surveyed the area and shook her head in disbelief. “How did the jars fall to the floor? The shelves are still up in place? That makes no sense.”

Velma knew this area of the country was known for an occasional earthquake, but nothing else in the basement was disturbed. Besides, surely she would have felt it for herself.

Realizing at this time there was no explanation for this strange event, Velma grabbed the broom and began cleaning up the mess.

After an hour, Velma had the basement floor clean again and was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a glass of sweet tea. She had kicked off her shoes and was leaning back in the chair with her eyes closed when she heard the strange sound again.

It is time.

Bolting upright in the chair, Velma quickly scanned the room. “Okay, whoever you are, needs to stop. It’s not funny anymore.”

She paused a moment and listened.

Silence.

Velma rubbed the back of her neck, trying to stave off a growing headache. She could not explain it but it was as though, something was reaching out to her. Something dark and sinister.

IT IS TIME. This time, the voice seemed louder and spoke with more urgency.

Velma tried to stand, but found herself unable to move, as though an unseen force was binding her to the chair. She opened her mouth to speak and found her tongue bound as well.

Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes, but for some strange reason, it was as though they were held captive as well. Velma struggled to break free from her invisible bonds, but the force holding her only seemed to increase.

Please, let me go! The words echoed in her mind.

Now the room seemed to close in on her. No knowing what to do, Velma pleaded for deliverance from this dark force now trying to consume her soul. Time appeared to stand still, as a mist filled the room. Velma could not explain it, but she knew she was not alone. The mist began to swirl around her body with cold, prickling sensations causing her body to tremble.

Do not fight us, the voice hissed.

Velma struggled to break free from the bonds holding her. She knew if she did not escape soon that all was lost.

Do not fight us, the voice hissed again. However, this time, it was done with a rage so deep-seeded that Velma was sure she was about to surrender her soul to the forces of Hell.

The force binding Velma seemed to steadily increase, forcing the breath from her lungs. With her last ounce of breath, Velma released, “NOOOOOO…”

Chapter 7

It had been an unusually long day for Gene. It seemed that every customer he had delivered to was a problem. When he took the job, he had thought it would be nice to get off at a decent time of the day for a change. Being an over-the-road trucker was not a typical 9 to 5 job, so when he was offered the job delivering feed to the farms in the area, Gene had jumped at the opportunity.

Once he had parked his truck for the night and turned in his paperwork, Gene hopped into his pickup and headed home. He could not explain it, but he had a nagging feeling that something was off; that he needed to prepare himself for the unexpected. As he drove down the long road leading to his house, the sense of dread continued to grow.

“Knock it off. You’re just tired,” he grumbled to himself.

The sun was sitting low in the sky when Gene pulled into the driveway. He had always enjoyed this time of the year. Even though the daylight hours were getting shorter, Gene enjoyed the cooler weather and low humidity. Pulling up next to the house, he turned off the ignition and sat a moment, trying to calm the feeling of dread he had churning up inside of him.

Gene was about to open the door of the pickup when Jeff walked out of the house.

“Hi, Dad, I was just going out to feed the animals and milk the cow,” Jeff held up the milk bucket and grinned.

“Okay, I’d help, but I’m tired. It was a rough day,” Gene stepped out of the pickup and patted Jeff on the shoulder.

Jeff nodded his understanding and walked toward the barn. Gene paused and watched his son, walking toward the barn, swinging the bucket at his side. He shook his head, realizing how proud he was to have a son that did as asked without question. Once Jeff had disappeared inside of the barn, Gene turned and walked toward the back door.

The smell of fried chicken was a welcome greeting for Gene. He had always enjoyed Velma’s fried chicken, so this was just what he needed to make up for the crappy day at work.

“Damn, that smells good,” Gene walked over to the skillet and breathed deeply.

“I thought you’d enjoy some for dinner and lunch tomorrow,” Velma giggled when she saw Gene lick his lips. “Why don’t you go take a shower. I don’t want to be mean, but you smell.”

Gene stepped back as though shocked by her statement and then said playfully, “I do? I thought you liked your men smelling manly?”

Velma wrinkled her nose, “Manly, yes, like the hogs pen, NO.”

Bowing playfully, Gene winked and then inhaled the delicious aroma filling the kitchen again. “Yes, Milady, I shall go and wash the stink off of me so I may enjoy this feast without offending my wonderful family.”

Trying not to laugh, Velma pointed toward the door that led out of the kitchen. “Thank you, I’m sure we’ll all appreciate it.”

***

“Oh, that looks delicious,” Gene exclaimed when he sat in his chair at the head of the table. “I’m starving.”

Jeff looked over at his father and smiled. It did not matter how many times his mom made fried chicken, his dad would always rave about eating it.

“Well, thank you, I hope I made enough if you’re starving.” Velma glanced across the table and gave Gene a playful wink.

“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m digging in.” Jeff reached for the bowl of mashed potatoes and then scooped out a large spoonful.

“Hey, save some for the rest of us,” Lori chided.

Jeff handed Lori the bowl then grabbed the gravy boat and then covered his mashed potatoes. He then held out the gravy boat for Lori with a broad smile on his face.

Not wanting to laugh, Lori took the offered container and covered her own mound of mashed potatoes. “Thank you.”

Gene and Velma sat and watched this little banter between their children, and could not help but smile. They both had to admit that it was nice to have an enjoyable family meal after the events of the past few months.

Once everyone had eaten their fill, Velma walked over to the sink and started the dishwater, while Lori began to remove the dirty dishes from the table.

“It looks like I get some of that good chicken for lunch tomorrow,” Gene quipped when he stood and rubbed his over-stuffed stomach.

“I’m surprised with the way Jeff was going after it,” Velma winked at Jeff.

“Hey, I need my strength. I am a growing boy, after all.” Jeff reached for his glass of milk and took the last rich and creamy swallow then held it up for Lori to take.

Not pleased with the way he treated her like a servant, Lori took the offered glass and then smacked Jeff on the back of the head.

“Hey, did you see that, Mom?” Jeff reached back and rubbed the back of his head.

“Lori, quit hitting your brother,” Velma scolded Lori, who now glared at Jeff.

“Yeah,” Jeff gleamed with delight in spite of the expression on his sister’s face.

“Fine, but watch your back, little brother,” Lori held his gaze, daring him to say another word.

“Okay, you two, knock it off. Come on, son; let’s go see what’s on the television.” Gene knew that neither of them was actually angry, but he was aware that if this little banter continued it could very well change.

***

With the dishes washed and put away, everyone settled down for a relaxing evening. After some discussion, they decided to watch one of the weekly variety shows.

Velma sat in her chair next to Gene, working on a blanket she had started crocheting when they still lived in California. She had always enjoyed working on something while watching television, so finding this in one of the unpacked boxes left over from the move was a treat.

The show was entertaining with the skits and singing, but Velma seemed to find herself unable to concentrate on it or her crocheting.

“Are you alright?” Gene leaned toward her, trying to get her attention.

“Huh? Ah…yeah, I’m fine. I guess I’m just tired,” Velma smiled, trying to put him at ease.

“Why don’t we go on to bed? I’m tired too,” Gene reached over and grasped her hand, only to have her pull away. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” Velma snapped. “I’m just tired. I think I’ll go on to bed. Why don’t you stay out here and watch the rest of the show? I know it’s your favorite.”

Before Gene could respond, Velma had put the blanket aside, and stood. “Goodnight, children. Don’t stay up too late.”

Confused and dumbfounded by her reaction, Gene watched Velma leave the room. Not wanting to upset her anymore, he decided to do as asked.

***

Down through the ages stories were told of the power the Witching Hour. It was told that during this time the forces of the unseen realm were to have their most power…

***

A dark foreboding force surrounded Gene, crushing him as though he were a bug under a boot. He did not know what it was, but he knew it was something that he had never experienced before. Gene struggled to see through the darkness, but no matter how hard he tried, it seemed to only consume him more. Gene knew he had to escape. His family’s safety depended on it…their very lives depended on it.

Suddenly, he noticed a small speck of light off in the distance. Forcing himself to move forward, Gene slowly made his way toward the light. With each pain filled step, the light seemed to grow brighter. After what seemed like an eternity, Gene found himself standing in a dimly lit room and standing in the far corner was a sink with a mirror hanging above it. Gene could not explain it, but he had the inexorable need to go look in the mirror.

With each step, Gene felt his heart quicken. He could not explain it, but he knew what awaited him in the mirror would change everything.

With the final steps complete, Gene braced himself before gazing into the mirror. He slowly lifted his face to meet what awaited him, but what he saw caused his knees to buckle.

“Oh, my God,” the words escaped his lips. Gene knew he was staring into the mirror, but what looked back at him was unthinkable.

The dim light of the room cast an eerie shadow on the face glaring back at him from the mirror. Dried and rotting flesh clung to the skull with deep, empty eye sockets that seemed to glow a fiery, crimson red from somewhere deep inside the pits of Hell.

Who is that? The words formed in Gene’s mind, causing him to tremble with fear.

Gene tried to look away from the disturbing image in the mirror, but an unseen force held him in place. A cold, unnerving sensation now came over him, and with the passage of each moment, Gene was convinced that he would be lost forever.

All will die, a dark, sinister voice chuckled from the far recesses of Gene’s mind.

“No, this is only a nightmare. None of this is true,” Gene fought to awaken from this horrific dream in which he found himself trapped.

You will die like the others. Your blood and that of your children will spill tonight. Now several voices had joined in, creating a demonic choir, torturing Gene’s soul.

“NO…NO…” Gene cried out, not wanting to hear any more.

Suddenly, when Gene was on the verge of insanity, he found himself standing in the basement of their house with the stench of death filling his nostrils. Blinking his eyes several times to clear his vision, he noticed two small forms propped up against the shelves along the back wall.

“What is that?” Stepping forward, he gasped. “NO, this isn’t real!”

The ghastly sight of two small children covered in blood with ghastly cuts their necks caused Gene to drop to his knees. Tears stung his eyes, while bile churned in his stomach.

He reached out a quivering hand, “Who are you and who did this to you?”

Nothing could have prepared Gene for what happened next.

“The bad people made Mommy do it,” the little girl with the matted blonde curls, crusted with blood said in a melancholy tone.

Gene felt a keen sense of doom wrap around him. “What bad people? I don’t understand.”

The little girl stared at Gene through eyes as dark as night. “They live in the bad place. They made Mommy do a bad thing. Mommy said that she didn’t want to, but she had to do it. She cried and begged, but the bad people told her that she had to kill us.”

Without warning, Gene now found himself back in front of the mirror. “Wait…”

Gene hung his head, trying to understand what he had just seen. He knew this must all be a nightmare, but why would he dream something so dreadful?

“Gene…” a voice whispered from off in the distance.

Gene lifted his face and was shocked to see the ghostly image of a man with a battered and bloodied face looking back at him through the mirror.

“Who are you?”

“You need to take your family and go before it’s too late,” the man said with urgency in his voice.

“I don’t understand. Was that your children in the basement?”

With a look of despair, the man spoke again, “You must leave this house. They are already speaking to your wife. Please get your family away from here and never come back. Get out now before you all die!”

***

Sweating profusely, Gene bolted upright in his chair. He quickly glanced around the living room and found he was alone.

“Damn, that was one hell of a dream,” he mumbled under his breath.

Glancing at his wristwatch, he realized it was 3 o’clock. It surprised Gene that he had slept so long and that the kids did not wake him up when they went to bed.

Pushing the memory of the nightmare aside, Gene turned off the television and went up to bed. He had to admit that he was glad he did not have to get up in a couple of hours for work.

***

The smell of coffee and frying bacon pulled Gene out of a deep sleep. He was glad to not have had any more of those horrible nightmares.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he heard Velma call out from the kitchen. “Get out of bed sleepyheads, breakfast is on the table.”

Yawning and stretching, Gene stood and then walked to the bathroom to wash up before heading to the kitchen. While cupping his hands under the running water, the image of the nightmare the night before replayed in his mind.

“Damn, I don’t understand where that came from,” he mumbled before splashing the cool water on his face. Gene’s mind spun with thoughts of death and danger, this causing him to wonder if something horrible was about to happen. He thought back to all the times his grandmother had told him how our dreams are often warnings and should always be heeded.

“Grandma, what should I do?”

Replacing the towel to the towel rod, Gene inhaled deeply and walked to the kitchen, hoping this feeling stirring up inside of him would fade away.

“Good morning, Dad,” Jeff pulled out his chair then sat in his place.

Gene met Jeff’s gaze, grunted, “morning,” then took his place at the table.

“Here’s a cup of coffee. You look like you can use one,” Velma teased when she sat a cup of steaming coffee on the table in front of Gene.

Not responding, Gene picked up the cup and took a sip.

“What’s wrong, Dad; you look horrible,” Lori commented, not understanding this reaction from her father. Normally, he was the bright and cheerful one on weekend mornings.

Setting the cup back on the table, Gene exhaled and shook his head, “I’m sorry; I didn’t sleep too well last night. I’m okay.”

“Well, I hope you get to feeling better. The cow busted through her gate last night and I don’t want to fix it alone,” Jeff grinned while reaching for a piece of bacon off the plate Velma had just set on the table.

“Leave that bacon alone. Why can’t you wait until I at least get in my chair,” Velma scolded.

“Is the cow alright?” Gene said, ignoring Velma’s protest.

“Yeah, but something must have spooked her last night. She didn’t even seem interested in her feed this morning.” Jeff shoved the bacon in his mouth, enjoying the delicious flavor.

“Huh, that is strange. We’ll go check her after breakfast and fix that gate.” Reaching for the bowl of scrambled eggs, Gene wondered what else was going to happen.

“I’ve been busy this morning,” Velma announced. I was down in the basement going through some of our unpacked boxes, and I found the strangest thing. I have no idea how it got there, but look at this.”

She held up a black and white photo with a well-dressed man, a beautiful dark-haired woman, and two small children. “If I didn’t know any better I’d swear that was me in this picture.”

Gene felt his body grow rigid as he stared at the photo. He blinked several times, but the image never changed. It was them. No matter how hard he tried to deny it, there were the children from his nightmare and the man with the dire warning.

“Where did you find that?” the words caught in his throat.

Velma tipped her head to the side, not understanding this strange response. “I told you. I found it in the basement this morning.”

Not wanting to frighten her, Gene forced a smile before speaking, “Sweetheart, have you been feeling strange lately? Have you felt as though you aren’t alone while we’re all gone?”

He knew this question sounded foolish, but he had no choice.

Velma leaned back in her seat, unsure of how to answer. After a few tense moments, she nodded her head, letting him know she had.

Gene’s heart nearly stopped beating in his chest. “Okay, did you ever feel the desire to hurt the kids and me?”

Velma held Gene’s gaze, not saying a word.

Jeff and Lori shared a collective gasp, wondering where this conversation was headed.

Gene swallowed, hoping to control the emotions building up inside of him. “I know who they are. I know who the family is in that picture and what happened to them.”

Gene glanced around the table at the faces of his beloved family. He was aware that what he was about to say would sound crazy. However, he also knew if he ignored the warning, they would all die a gruesome death.

Taking a deep breath, Gene then exhaled slowly before speaking, “That is the family that lived here before us. I had a dream, and in the dream, I was shown what happened to the family.”

Velma was about to speak, but Gene held up his hand to silence her. “There is something evil in this house. I think we’ve all known something wasn’t right from the beginning, but we didn’t want to admit it. I don’t want to walk away from everything we’ve worked so hard for, but I believe if we don’t get out of here soon, something bad is going to happen.”

Jeff and Lori shared confused glances. They had never known their father to act so irrationally, but they both knew that something really had him upset.

“What are you saying? You want us to walk away from our home?” Velma could not believe what she was hearing. When they had first arrived on that day several months ago, Velma had hated the idea of making the run-down place a home. However, after weeks of cleaning and repairs, she had come to love their new house. She was about to protest when Gene interrupted.

“I know, I hate the idea of leaving, but I’ve made up my mind. Let’s finish breakfast then I want you and Lori to start packing. I’ll get a hold of CJ and see if he still needs a milk cow. Maybe he’ll even be interested in the chickens.” Gene scooped up a mouthful of eggs, hoping he was making the right decision.

Velma stared at Gene wanting to protest, but decided against it. She knew there was no changing his mind once he had made a decision. “Okay, but where will we go?”

Gene set his fork on the table and looked across the table. “Don’t worry about it. As soon as we can get packed we’re leaving. I don’t want to stay here any longer than necessary.”

“Dad, this doesn’t make any sense. What about school? I’ve just started making friends, and now you want to move again,” Lori crossed her arms across her chest.

Gene never said a word, he merely glared at Lori daring her to say another word.

Realizing there was no use in complaining any further, Lori stood and took her dirty plate to the sink.

Jeff had sat and watched quietly, not wanting to add to the already strained mood. He could see his father was upset, but moving again was not something he was ready to do. Jeff finished the last bite of his toast then stood and carried his plate to the sink.

“Dad,” Jeff glanced at his father, hoping he would not upset him.

Gene looked over at Jeff, “Yes.”

Jeff swallowed before speaking, “I can fix the gate. I know you have other things to do.”

Gene held his son’s gaze, and for a brief moment, he thought maybe he was over-reacting. “Thank you, but I’ll be out there in a few minutes. Why don’t you get the hammer and a few nails out of the shed?”

Jeff glanced over at his mother then back to his dad. “Okay, I’ll get everything ready.” Without saying another word, Jeff turned and walked out of the back door.

Gene stood then looked back at Velma. “I need you to get busy packing. I want to be out of here by tomorrow.”

Still shocked by his decision, Velma began to protest, but then thought better of it. “Okay, at least I still have several of the boxes from the last move in the basement.”

“Good; I want you to pack the essential items first.” Gene did not understand why, but he felt that was important.

Unsure of why he wanted her to do that, Velma merely nodded her understanding.

Once Gene had stepped outside, Lori turned to her mother, “Mom, do you believe what Dad said about his dream?”

Velma held up the picture and found herself lost in the faces staring back at her. Could it be true? Is there some sort of evil living in this house?

“Mom, Mom,” Lori placed her hand on Velma’s shoulder, bringing her out of her trance.

“Ah…I’m sorry, what did you say?” Velma set the picture back down on the table and pushed it away from her.

“I said, what should we pack first?” Lori knew the idea of moving had upset her mother, but there seemed to be more going on. There was something strange about how she had been acting lately.

“Pack anything you absolutely need and don’t want to leave behind.”

This statement caught Lori by surprise. “What do you mean? Aren’t we taking everything with us?”

Velma wanted to say yes, but something deep inside of her was saying otherwise. “I just want to make sure we get things packed as quickly as possible. You heard your Father. He said he wanted to leave as soon as possible. So, let’s get these dishes cleaned so we can get busy packing.”

***

Gene stepped out on the back porch and felt the cool, autumn breeze against his face. Looking out over the farm he had come to love, caused him to second guess his decision.

“Maybe I’m just over-reacting. Hell, so do I actually believe in evil forces causing people to murder their loved ones?” Shaking off the idea, Gene headed toward the barn.

“I got the hammer and nails,” Jeff said as he walked up to Gene.

“Okay, let’s go see what that crazy cow tore up.” When Gene opened the barn door, nothing could have prepared him for what they saw.

The image was something out of a twisted horror movie. There were mangled bodies of chickens scattered across the floor with blood and entrails transforming the brown dirt into a deep, vibrant red.

“What the HELL…” the words escaped Gene’s lips.

Jeff gasped and stepped back, not wanting to see anymore. “Dad, I don’t understand. I was just out here before breakfast. I fed the chickens in their pen. How did they get in here?”

Gene was at a loss for words. He then examined the inside of the barn for any signs of potential danger. “I don’t know, but I don’t like this. This isn’t right.”

“Dad, where’s the cow?” Jeff pointed toward the small pasture area where she spent her days, grazing and lazing in the sun. “I put her out after I was done milking her.”

Gene was about to turn to look when he heard blood-curdling screams coming from the direction of the house. “Crap…”

It seemed to take an eternity to get to the house. Gene knew he was running, but it felt as though his feet were stuck in thick mud. His heart quickened as he reached the back door, wondering what he would find inside.

Jeff had heard the screaming and wondered what was happening. When he watched his father dash off toward the house, he had dropped the hammer and nails, praying they would not find something like they had just found in the barn.

“Velma… Lori,” Gene cried out as he rushed through the back door, nearly ripping it from its hinges.

Screams and dark, billowing smoke, filled the kitchen. Gene struggled to see through the choking smoke, and what he finally saw caused his heart to skip a beat.

Lori was unconscious on the floor, apparently overcome by the thick smoke. Gene rushed toward her and checked her pulse.

“She’s still alive,” he shouted with relief.

Dreadful screams erupted again, filling the room. “Help me! Please, help me!”

“Velma! Where are you?” Gene struggled to see through the thickening smoke.

“I’m here. Flames shot out of the picture. We tried to put it out, but something pulled me in here. They say I can’t leave. They say none of us can leave!”

Bang…bang…bang…

Gene turned toward the door to the basement. Realizing it was Velma banging on the other side of the door, Gene stood and grabbed the doorknob.

“Damn, it’s jammed! Jeff, get your sister out of here! Stand back!”

Gene had no idea where the burst of strength came from, but with one mighty shove, he was able to open the door.

“Velma!” Gene cried out as Velma, bloodied with scratches all over her body collapsed into his arms.

“They want us dead,” were the only words she said before surrendering to unconsciousness.

Scooping her up into his embrace, Gene turned toward the door; however, before he could get outside and loud voice filled the room. “Run, go away and never come back! They will destroy you just like they did my family!”

Chapter 8

“Would you like a warm up?” Charise held the pot of coffee over Jeff’s half empty cup.

“Huh…what?” Brought out of his thoughts, Jeff looked up at the waitress, “Sure, thanks.”

“Have you decided if you want something to eat?” Charise smiled while filling his cup. “You sure did look lost in your thoughts. I almost hated to interrupt you.”

Jeff took a sip of the coffee then set the cup down on the counter. “Yeah, something happened this evening that reminded me of a time I had struggled to forget.”

Charise wanted to ask him what had him so upset, but she decided it would be best not to take the chance of upsetting him more. “Well, I know the perfect thing to take your mind off of your worries. How about some of our famous Biscuits and Gravy?”

Jeff had always found it amusing how every little hole-in-the-wall truck stop always seemed to have something on the menu that was world famous. “Sure, that sounds great.”

“I promise that you won’t be disappointed,” Charise giggled, then turned and walked toward the kitchen.

Jeff had to chuckle as he watched this woman, who had tried her best to make him feel better. He had driven over-the-road for several years, and the majority of the ladies working in the truck stops were just like her.

The welcoming glow of the sunrise flowed through the large picture window and across the counter top in front of Jeff. He had to admit that he was glad the darkness of the night was over. He knew it was foolish, but after his experience a few hours ago, he wanted to be as far away from Greer Springs before nightfall. Glancing down at his watch, he realized he was going to be late for his delivery. “Shit, dispatch is going to be pissed.”

Jeff knew they wanted the load there in a couple of hours, but there was no way he would make it in time. Deciding there was no sense in putting it off, Jeff picked up the phone on the counter as a courtesy for truckers and dialed.

“Dispatch,” the young man said when he answered the phone.

“Yeah, this is truck 6409. I’m not going to make my appointment. I’m still about four hours out.” Jeff waited for the ass-chewing he figured would come.

“Hey, Jeff, I’m glad you called. The shipment receiver just called and wanted you to deliver this afternoon at 3 o’clock. They had a problem and won’t be able to unload you until then.”

“Oh, that’s perfect. Okay, I’ll be there for the 3 o’clock appointment. Thanks,” Jeff exhaled with a sigh of relief. He had never been one to not make his appointments, so this had worked out perfectly for him. He could relax, enjoy his meal, and then take a short nap before heading out.

As he was hanging up the telephone, Charise walked up holding a large plate piled high with fresh baked buttermilk biscuits and smothered in sausage gravy.

With a bright and cheery smile on her face, Charise set the plate down in front of Jeff. “Enjoy, and if you need anything else, just let me know.”

Jeff leaned down over the plate and inhaled deeply. “This should do for a while, thank you.”

Once Charise had left, Jeff picked up his fork, “Damn, I was hungrier than I thought.”

As the flavor and aroma of the biscuits and gravy filled his senses, Jeff’s mind began to wander…

***

The bright rays of the setting sun streaming through the windshield made it difficult to see the road. Squinting his eyes, Gene reached up and dropped the sun visor. They were all exhausted, but Gene had refused to stop until there was at least five hundred miles between them and Greer Springs.

“Where are we,” Velma shifted in the seat after waking from a nap.

“We’re a few miles from Amarillo. We’ll go ahead and stop there for the night.”

“Good, we all need to get out and walk around some.” Velma rubbed the back of her neck, trying to get relief from the nagging pain radiating through her shoulders.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Gene glanced over at Velma and smirked. “Why don’t you relax some more and I’ll wake you up once we’re there.”

***

The sound of the engine turning off was greatly welcomed. Gene pulled the keys from the ignition then opened the door. “I’ll be right back.”

Jeff stretched, trying to get the kinks out of his back and legs. “Mom, where are we?”

“We’re in Amarillo, Texas. Your dad said we’ll be staying the night here.”

“Good. I’m ready to get Lori off of me,” Jeff pushed against Lori.

“Hey, stop it,” Lori protested.

“Lori, get off your brother. None of us have been comfortable. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear this truck has gotten smaller,” Velma glared at Lori, letting her know she had heard enough. She knew her statement was foolish, but with the children getting bigger, the bench seat in the old pickup truck was no longer able to have all four of them sit in comfort.

Jeff was in no mood to hear the bickering between Lori and his mother. He knew everyone’s nerves were on edge, and what had happened was still fresh in their minds. However, he also knew they were lucky to have escaped with their lives. Jeff closed his eyes, trying to block out their bickering. All he wanted to do was purge his mind of what had transpired while they lived in Greer Springs.

Jeff wanted to erase the images still haunting his memories, but most of all, he swore he would never return. He knew there was an evil force there that wanted to kill his family. Jeff knew he would never forget how his family fled for their lives, and how things are not always as they appear. You see, Jeff learned a valuable lesson…evil does exist and it will never forget who you are.

~~~

I would like to thank you for reading Boding Evil. This was my first Paranormal Horror and it was a difficult book for me to write. You see, it’s because many of the horrifying events in this book were told to me by those who claim to have experienced them. I hope you enjoyed reading Boding Evil and always remember…they are out there, and they are watching us.

Sacrificing Souls

Down through the ages, we have all heard stories of haunted houses. Homes that were once full of love and life, but through a tragic event, a spirit becomes hopelessly trapped to wander the halls for all eternity. This, my friend, is not one of those stories.

~~~

“Hurry up; I want to sleep in our bed tonight,” Keri pointed down the hall to the master bedroom. “Be careful, that headboard and frame have been in my family for over 100 years.”

“Yes, Ma’am, we’ll take extra care not to damage it,” the burly man snorted. The two men from the moving company looked at each other and rolled their eyes. They had heard claims such as that all the time from customers. Every piece of furniture was either a priceless antique or had belonged to a dead relative and was irreplaceable, regardless of what it was.

***

Mike and Keri Beale were both nervous and excited about their decision to move to Louisiana. It had been a difficult decision to leave their lives behind in New York City. However, when Mike was given the opportunity to join a prestigious Law Firm in New Orleans, they decided to jump at the chance.

At first, Keri was not sure if she wanted to move, but Mike had promised they would find a beautiful Southern mansion and she could make it a grand showplace. At hearing this, Keri, of course, had immediately contacted a realtor in the area and had found the home of their dreams. It was not exactly the most beautiful house at the time, but with hard work and lots of love, Keri knew one day it would be the perfect showplace for a successful attorney.

“Set the bed up other there.” Keri pointed to the wall opposite the large walk-in closet. “And please be careful not to damage the wood molding.”

The two men looked at the old, yellowing wallpaper and faded wood molding. “Yes, Ma’am, we’ll be careful.”

Once the moving company personnel had left, Keri walked into the kitchen and looked at all of the stacked boxes.

“There is no way I can cook anything tonight.” She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed, “I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”

***

Mike was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere at the new firm. When he had first passed the bar and joined the large firm in New York, he realized it was going to consume a large part of his life. Therefore, when the opportunity to join the law firm in New Orleans arose, he had jumped at it. While he loved all the hustle and bustle of the city, he also longed for the time to begin a family with Keri.

“Dinner’s here,” Mike called out from the large foyer. “Where are we going to eat this delicious smelling pizza?”

“In the dining room, of course,” Keri said playfully as she walked to the dining room and waited for Mike to join her.

“I don’t know why, but the delivery guy seemed relieved that he didn’t have to come up to the door,” Mike chuckled, placing the pizza box on the dining room table. “Heck, he practically threw the pizza at me before he sped off.”

“Really, I don’t understand why. I love it here,” Keri opened the box and inhaled deeply. “This smells delicious.”

Mike sat next to her and grabbed a slice of the pizza. “It tastes great, too.”

“I wish I could have cooked our dinner tonight, but everything is still packed.”

“Hey, I understand. I just wish I could be more help. I’ll be able to do more this coming weekend.” Mike put the last bite of pizza in his mouth then grabbed another piece.

“Maybe I should have ordered two pizzas? You seem exceptionally hungry tonight,” Keri chuckled when she saw the surprised look on his face.

“I am. I was so busy today that I didn’t go to lunch. I wanted to get my office organized and go over a few case files.”

creak…creak…

“What was that?” Keri looked toward the staircase that led to the upstairs rooms.

“I wouldn’t worry about it. This is an old house, so we’ll probably hear things like that all the time. These old houses have their own personalities,” Mike chuckled then shoved more pizza in his mouth.

creak….creak…THUD!

Keri looked at Mike, daring him to say that was nothing.

“Okay, maybe I should go see what it was.” He stood and slowly walked toward the staircase, unsure if he wanted to find out what had made the unnerving sound.

“What was it?” Keri whispered, as she slowly followed Mike up the stairs.

“Quiet, I think I hear something.” Mike felt his heart beating with such force that he believed it would explode from his chest. As he topped the stairs, he held his breath and said a silent prayer they would find nothing out of the ordinary.

He leaned forward and looked to his right and then to his left. Nothing. “I don’t understand, the only thing I see is moving boxes stacked along the wall in the hallway.”

“Are you sure?” Keri breathed with a sense of relief in her voice.

“Yeah. Come on, let’s go clean up downstairs. I’d like to take a shower and go to bed.” Mike took Keri by the hand, and they went back downstairs.

***

An unnerving silence filled the room as Keri lay next to Mike, who was now soundly asleep. Lying there, her mind began to wander. She tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, but for some reason, Keri felt there was something she was supposed to do.

After several minutes, Keri sat up on the edge of the bed. The room was deathly quiet, and the coolness of the wood floor under her feet caused her body to shiver. She could not explain it, but she felt the overwhelming desire to get up and do something. What is wrong with me?

Convinced it was just new house jitters, Keri laid back down and rolled over on her side. Then after a few minutes, she finally fell to sleep.

***

The door creaked as it slowly opened, allowing entry to its guest. Stepping inside, an eerie glow filled the room, giving it a ghostly appearance.

“Come, my child,” the voice beckoned to her.

“Why am I here?” she asked hesitantly.

“You are here to restore me.”

“Restore you? I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Come to me, so we may speak.”

Not understanding why; she did as commanded. With each step, the floor grew colder against her bare feet as she padded her way to the large framed mirror sitting in the corner of the room by a stained-glass window.

“Who are you?” her voice quivered as she stood in front of the mirror.

A swirling mist began to form in the mirror. Then from the mist, the image of a well-dressed older man appeared.

“I am the man who built this grand house. It is my home, and it will be for all eternity.”

“How is that possible? This house is over 150 years old. Are you a ghost?” The room suddenly grew bone-chillingly cold, as the man’s eyes began to glow a vibrant red.

A menacing laughter filled the room. “I am no mere ghost; I am much more, foolish child.”

“I’m sorry, I meant no offense. Please tell me why you summoned me.”

“That will come at the proper time. For now, I only wanted to introduce myself. Go rest, for tomorrow you have much to do.” The swirling fog then wrapped around the man as he backed out of view.

***

“Keri, wake up. I’ve already started the coffee, and I thought we could spend some time together before I have to leave for work,” Mike laughed then he pulled the blanket off her.

“Sheez, I’m getting up. I didn’t sleep very well last night,” she groaned, wiping her eyes.

“Really, I slept like a log. It must be the fresh country air,” Mike inhaled a deep breath. Suddenly, he pointed toward the foot of the bed. “Dang, what did you do last night, go running through a dirt field?”

“What?” Keri looked down at where he was pointing and saw dirt smudges on the sheet. “That doesn’t make any sense. My feet were clean when I got into bed. Besides, I don’t remember getting up all night long.”

“Maybe the reason you’re still tired is that you were sleep-walking,” Mike teased.

Keri did not find his taunts amusing one bit. Typically, his teasing did not bother her, but for some reason, it did now. “Come on, let’s go have some coffee. Maybe that will wake me up some.”

***

Once Mike had left for work, Keri decided to go into town and check out the local hardware store. Mike had told her to hire a painter and other contractors to do the renovation work on the house, but for some reason, she wanted to do it herself.

The little bell attached to the door rang, alerting the proprietor of a new customer. Keri stepped inside of the small hardware store and was amazed at all the different things lining the shelves. She had never done renovation work before, but for some strange reason, she knew just what she needed.

“Good morning, Miss. How may I help you today?” the cheerful, elderly man asked.

“I’m in need of a few items, please. First, I need to know if you have a floor sander to rent. I plan to refinish the wood floors in my house. I’d also like to see some paint color samples.”

“You must be new to town. I don’t believe we’ve ever met. My name is Bernie, and I own this establishment,” he held out his hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Bernie. My name is Keri. My husband and I recently moved here from New York,” she smiled, taking his offered hand.

No sooner had the words left her mouth than Bernie pulled his hand away; a look of fear replacing his smile. “Oh, you’re the ones who bought that house.”

Keri could not understand his sudden change upon learning who she was. “Yes, we were very fortunate to get such a good deal on it, too. It’s a bit run down now, but I plan to have it back to a grand home again.”

“Did the realtor tell you the story of that house?” a faint voice came from the doorway to the back room.

“Quiet, Martha. It’s not our place to meddle,” Bernie’s voice was firm but dripping with fear.

“She should be warned,” Martha said firmly.

Keri did not understand why, but the words the old woman said made an uncontrollable rage begin to burn deep inside of her. She turned to face the woman, “There is nothing wrong with my house. You need to keep your thoughts to yourself.”

When their gazes met, Martha suddenly grabbed her throat, unable to speak.

“Martha!” Bernie rushed to his wife and caught her in his arms before she collapsed to the floor.

“What have you done to her?” Bernie cried out. “Leave, and never come back!”

Without saying another word, Keri turned and walked out of the store. How dare you speak to me that way. I love my house, and it WILL be beautiful again.

On the drive home, Keri thought back to what had transpired in the hardware store. “Why did they both seem so afraid of the house?”

She decided to put that all behind her and focus on fixing up the house.

***

A feeling of contentment consumed Keri as she stepped through the front door. Noticing how tired she was, Keri decided to take a short nap before unpacking the boxes in the kitchen.

After lying on the sofa, it only took a few moments before she began to float off to sleep.

“You did well today, my child,” the now familiar voice whispered in her ear. “You have begun to restore the life to this house, and in time it will once again be the grand mansion it once was.”

At hearing his voice, Keri felt joy surge throughout her entire body. “Yes, it will be beautiful again.”

***

“Keri, I’m home,” Mike called out, then set his briefcase down in the foyer. “What smells good in here?”

“I’m making your favorite; lasagna, a tossed salad, and garlic toast.”

Mike stopped and looked around. “I don’t know when you found time to cook. You’ve really cleaned up this place. Did you polish the floor? It looks like it’s brand new.”

“I just did a little cleaning, that’s all. Now, go wash up, dinner is ready.”

Keri grabbed the pan of lasagna from the oven and placed it on the table next to the salad. She then put the garlic toast in a basket and set it on the table as well.

“I heard the most tragic news when I stopped in town to fill up my car on the way home. The wife of the man who owns the hardware store died suddenly today.” Mike sat in his chair and pulled it up to the table. “They’re saying she had a stroke. I guess it was quite a surprise since everyone there told me she seemed to be in good health.”

“Yes, that is quite tragic.” Keri reached for the basket with the garlic bread and handed it to Mike.

He took a piece and set it on his plate. “Anyway, they said her husband is quite upset and keeps talking about a demon that came into the store today and killed his wife.”

“The poor man is just distraught. It must be hard to have your spouse suddenly die like that.” Keri could not explain it but knowing the woman had died seemed to fill her with joy. “Let’s eat before our food gets cold.”

***

As the moon shone through the bedroom window, a silent voice beckoned to Keri. “Come, my child, we have work to do.”

***

The road was dark and foreboding on the drive to town. She knew where she was headed but did not understand why.

“He is waiting for you, my child,” the voice said.

Keri turned the car down the long driveway and stopped in front of an old house with a wrap-around porch. After getting out of the car, she quietly closed the door, surprised at how the dog lying on the porch remained asleep.

The cool night air caressed her skin through her thin nightgown, but she did not notice. Placing her foot on the first step, it groaned. She paused a moment, her breath catching in her throat with the fear she would awaken the sleeping dog.

“Do not fear, my child. I have prepared everything for you,” the voice prodded her onward.

Keri then placed her foot on the next step and was pleased when there was no sound. Glancing over at the dog, Keri noticed it was still sleeping soundly. After taking a deep breath, she took the last two steps up to the door.

A dim glow of light escaped from under the door. When Keri reached for the doorknob, the door creaked, then slowly opened, as though welcoming her to enter. The flickering of the dying fire filled the room, creating a haunting feeling. The door slowly opened wide, showing the man asleep in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace.

That’s Bernie, the man from the hardware store, the words formed in her mind, as she found herself drawn to him.

“Why am I here?” she whispered.

“You know why. He must die. He is another sacrifice to restore the house to its once beauty and grandeur.”

“But I don’t understand. How is that possible with his death?” Keri knew what the voice meant, but a part of her did not want to accept the truth.

“You must do this, or the house will die. It needs the sacrifice to survive and regain its life-force. Now do what you must,” the voice commanded.

Keri walked over to the sleeping man and glared down into his pain-filled face. After a few moments, he opened his eyes and met her gaze.

“What are you doing here?” Bernie mumbled with a raspy voice.

“You know why I’m here,” she said with no emotion in her voice.

“You’re here to kill me just like you did Martha, aren’t you? I’ve heard the tales about that house, but I always thought it was nothing but bullshit.” Bernie tried to get out of the rocking chair but found his legs would not move.

Keri did not respond, she merely looked at this simple man and wondered what it felt like to know you were about to die.

“I do have one thing to say before you kill me. Once the house is finished with you, you will die as well. Anyone who has ever lived in that house has died a horrible death.” Bernie then closed his eyes and awaited his fate.

Keri smiled, “Your death will be a great addition to the house. Thank you for your sacrifice.”

Bernie opened his eyes and laughed. “Your soul will burn in Hell with the demon who built that cursed house. He was crazy and murdered so many innocent people in his quest for immortality. He finally sold his soul to Satan for the opportunity to live forever. I grew up hearing the stories about that house, but I never believed them; I guess I should have paid closer attention. The entire town has watched that damn house suddenly appear restored after several strange deaths in the area. Then those who bought it would die and the house would again sit vacant for years. Then once the house is completely run down again, someone new will move in, and the strange deaths begin again. Go ahead, you devil bitch, do what you must. I’m ready to join my beloved Martha anyway.”

Bernie closed his eyes again. After a moment, Keri reached out and touched him on the forehead. His body trembled, and a burst of light shot forth, leaving an empty shell of the man he once was sitting in the rocking chair.

***

“Didn’t you sleep any last night?” Mike walked into the kitchen with an expression of concern on his face. “You’re up early this morning.”

“No, not much. I just wanted to get busy on the house.” Keri reached for her cup of coffee and took another sip.

“Well, I need to get going. I have an early meeting this morning with a new client.” Mike leaned over and gently kissed Keri on the cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Keri yawned then reached for the coffee pot to refill her cup.

***

“It’s happening again, just like it did forty years ago,” Clara, the Post Master whispered while she glanced around the post office lobby. “I don’t know why the town just hasn’t torn that house down. It’s cursed I tell you, cursed.”

“You know why they don’t. Anyone who tries to destroy that house dies a horrible death. We’ve all heard the stories of what he did in that house. All that devil worshiping stuff and sacrificing those people,” Chuck, the feed store owner said in a hushed tone.

“Well, I don’t like it one bit. Two wonderful people have died suddenly after meeting that woman. How many more have to die before she’s done?” Clara held her hand to her breast, feeling her heart beating rapidly with fear.

“I don’t know, but I sure hope that I don’t cross paths with her,” Chuck’s voice quivered at the thought of facing the one sent to gather souls. “Well, I need to get back to the store. Take care, Miss Clara.”

Chuck picked up his mail and said a silent prayer that he was not chosen as a sacrifice for the cursed house.

***

Keri stood in stunned amazement at the beauty before her. She could not explain it, but somehow the walls inside of the house now appeared to have a fresh wallpaper, and the wood trim looked to be freshly stained.

“How is this possible?” she asked herself, but she knew the answer. It was the sacrifices made the day before that were restoring the house. She reached out and touched the wall. “You are alive, aren’t you?”

***

A thick fog had settled in around the small town, making those who understood the current events to stay safely inside their homes. Mike had stayed late at the office, so he was glad to see the town’s Welcome sign appear along the side of the road through the fog in front of him. The last couple of weeks had been strained whenever he went home. Keri seemed distant, and whenever he asked her how she was getting the house renovated so quickly, she would tell him that it was none of his business.

“None of my business, what the hell is that supposed to mean?” Mike did not like the feeling he had growing inside of him. It was as though the house did not want him there, but how was that even possible?

Turning on the road leading to their house, the fog seemed to grow thicker.

“Damn, I can barely see. I should have stayed in the city for the night,” he groaned, straining to see through the thickening fog.

She no longer needs you, a voice whispered in his ear.

“WHAT?” the word escaped his lips with such force, it nearly caused him to run off the road.

You heard me. I said, she no longer needs you. She has me, and that is all she desires.

Mike reached up and rubbed his eyes, trying to remove the thoughts stirring in his mind. What was happening to them? They used to be so happy and had such hopes and dreams before they bought that damn house. When he opened his eyes again, the image he saw sent chills throughout his entire body.

There standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by thick, swirling fog was Keri. Swerving to miss her, Mike plowed head-on into an old Southern Live Oak tree.

The blood on Mike’s face, mixed with pieces of broken glass felt cold as the night air filled the car. He reached for the door handle but found the door jammed shut.

“Keri, help me,” his words were a mere whisper because of the steering wheel compressing his chest.

A deafening silence filled the air, as tears filled his eyes, and all hope of escape evaporated. Suddenly, Mike heard a crackling noise come from under the hood of the car. “Oh, God, no.”

The muffled cries of panic filled the air as the flames grew, steadily moving toward him. “Please, I don’t want to die! Help me, Keri, please, help me!”

Struggling to see through the smoke and fog, Mike wondered if he had only imagined seeing Keri. Smoke filled the inside of the car, stinging his eyes and filling his lungs. Wiping away the tears from his eyes, he now saw Keri standing in front of the car.

Smoke and fog swirled around her body, creating a ghostly appearance. As their gazes met, a smile of satisfaction appeared on her lips.

“You will be a perfect addition,” were the only words she said, as the flames completely engulfed the car.

Keri stood in silence, watching the gruesome scene all play out before her. She knew she should be sad, but she wasn’t. Keri knew this sacrifice would nearly finish the renovation of her beloved house.

***

The morning sun burned through the thick fog, creating a sense of rebirth as the new day began. Keri had awoken and was thrilled to see the latest improvements to the house. Now, not only was the inside of the house completely restored, but the outside looked as though it was not just freshly painted, but newly built.

Standing in the yard, admiring its beauty, she knew the renovation was nearly complete on the home she loved above all else. Keri was aware there would be questions regarding Mike’s death, but she was in no mood to worry about it now. She was far too happy to dwell on such things.

Come to me, my child. It is time to join me.

“Yes, I want to be with you for all eternity,” she felt a sense of peaceful contentment as she walked toward the house. “I’m ready.”

With each step up the staircase to the top floor, the house seemed to take a breath, awaiting its final sacrifice. She glanced over at the mirror, standing in the corner. Do not fear, my child. You will forever be with me.

Squaring her shoulders, she walked to the stained-glass window and paused, resting her hand on the window latch.

It is time. You know what you must do.

An eerie chuckle filled the room as she opened the window and stepped out on the narrow ledge. The warmth of the sun beat down upon her but went unnoticed. The only thing she felt was the cold, welcoming embrace of evil.

A strange smile crossed her lips while she looked down and watched the once dead and desolate landscape surrounding the house transform into a beautiful, lush garden.

“You live again with beauty and grace,” Keri said with a pleased expression on her face. Knowing her task was complete, she stepped off the ledge into the bright morning sun.

***

Thirty years later…

“Oh, honey, I know it needs a lot of work, but I can make it a grand showplace again.”

~~~

As you can see not all haunted houses are the same. Sometimes, they are not merely places for the dead to roam the empty hallways, but are in fact, living and breathing themselves.

I hope you enjoyed reading Boding Evil and Sacrificing Souls. You can find more of my work on my website.

DeadlyReads.com


Boding Evil

Boding Evil – It WILL find you! Evil lurks in the small town of Greer Springs, lying in wait for its next victim. Excited to fulfill a lifelong dream, nothing could have prepared Gene Mason for the horrors his family faced when they moved into a house with a dark and deadly past. While Boding Evil is a fictional story, many of the situations portrayed were inspired by actual events told to the author. Some will say the events depicted in this book are merely objects of a fanciful imagination, but for those who lived through them, the events were quite real. Included with the purchase of this book is a FREE bonus story titled: Sacrificing Souls.

  • ISBN: 9781370911424
  • Author: Linda L Barton
  • Published: 2017-02-01 22:35:18
  • Words: 29348
Boding Evil Boding Evil