Category Archives: Story

Reverse Image (part 3)

Reverse Image
part 3
by Thadd Presley

What Delilah saw at that moment frightened her. The top half of her mother’s face changed. First, her pupils dilated, but not together. Each one on its own grew to the maximum size and then shrunk back down again. Her nose flared much like a horse’s would in the spring. Delilah stood and stepped away from the table. Her mother had become someone else.

She didn’t know why this was happening, but she thought it might be a stroke. Her mother was still young. Thirty-eight was young for anyone to die.

Clare saw a color of red that she never knew existed. It filled her vision and then doubled over on itself. She saw the walls of her world deepen and drown in the color. It was the color of murder, of hatred and sex and violence. God didn’t create this color to be seen and talked about. I was the last color anyone was ever to see. She knew deep in her heart that she was dying and it was a good thing.

“Mom. God.” Delilah screamed and ran to the breakfast counter where her cell phone laid. “911,” she screamed. “911.”
A woman had answered the emergency line before Clare knew what to say. “What’s your emergency?”

“My mom. My..she’s having a heart attack.”

“OK. Calm down. What’s your address.”

Delilah took a deep breath and answered all the questions.

Finally, there were sirens in the air.

The siren grew louder and closer. Too close for them to be for anyone but herself.

Clare opened her eyes. Red still covered everything and she still certain she would die. No one saw that and lived, she kept telling herself. No one could see that and live.

“Mom. Mom.”

The voice of her daughter was there in the red somewhere and that was somehow the worst part of it all. Why did she have to be involved?

The sirens stopped and doors slammed. The red was growing. It was outside now. Even the sky would be covered in red.
“Ma’am? Can you hear me?”

No, Clare thought. If I hear you then the red will get you.

“Look at her eyes, Cap. What do you think happened?”

“Looks to be a serious case of subconjunctival hemorrhage.”

Delilah screamed. The next thing she saw was the kitchen floor.

“She’s coming around, Cap. You alright sweetheart?”

“My mom. She had a hemorrhage. Her brain.”

The paramedic sat down beside her and smiled. “Let’s sit up.” He helped her. “There now. Your mom is fine. It was scary for her and for you, but that’s all. Nothing serious.”

“What happened?”

“Well, we don’t know why but she became extremely stressed and it busted a blood vessel in her eye. Both of them actually. She’s going to the hospital.”

“She’s OK?”

“Yes. Very OK.”

“I want to go with her.”

“That’s fine. You want to go ahead and stand up?”

Together, they managed to walk to the ambulance.

A moment of panic shot through Delilah’s chest when she saw her mother’s eyes. They were both filled with blood. Her mother looked like a zombie. Quickly, she snapped a picture and smiled.

“I got your good side that time.”

“You’re not funny. I don’t know how you can laugh at me. After what you’ve done. Being pregnant is hard enough on a family, but…”

“Pregnant? Mom!” For a moment, Delilah didn’t think she heard her right. “Mom, I’m not pregnant. Who told you that?”
“Don’t lie to me. You already…”

“I’m not pregnant. You must have hit your head or something when you fell.” She looked at the paramedic who wishing he was invisible. “I’m not, I swear.”

Clare was visibly upset.

“We can settle this once we get to the hospital,” he told them. “There is a planned parenthood clinic there that offers free pregnancy tests. You can go from there. How’s that?”

“O.K.” Delilah quickly assented.

Clare didn’t say anything but nodded her head.

“Let’s get this rig on the road, Cap!”

Slowly, the ambulance made it’s way onto the street and ten minutes later they pulled in at Methodist Medical Center.
An hour later, mother and daughter sat together in the E.R. A negative pregnancy test sat in a paper cup, wrapped in a paper towel.

“But, I don’t understand why you thought I was pregnant in the first place?”

“You said you found out something this morning and I thought you meant…”

“Mom, jeez. I learned something from Youtube that’s all. Really, I should have realized it a long time ago.” She smiled. Her mother’s blood red eyes looked back at her. “Oh, I’m sorry. I love you, mom. Thank you for worrying about me.”

“Well, child, that my job. It’s not this hard most of the time. What can I say? You’re a good kid.”

Ryan was escorted into the room by a nurse who was telling him that everything was going to be fine. “Clare is in no danger,” she said. “She just had a scare and fainted.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s been one heck of a morning for all of us.”

Reverse Image (part 2)

Reverse Image

part 2

by Thadd Presley

 

When Lucas entered the room, the quiet atmosphere stopped him in his tracks before he could say anything. There was a furrow on his dad’s brow he’d not seen before and his mother’s face spelled out volumes of unspoken emotion. He hoped they weren’t talking about his spring semester grades. He brought them up at the end.

Dad spoke up first. “Would you mind explaining exactly what you’re talking about? Your mother and I don’t have all morning to play guessing games. This afternoon we can hash out all the details and decide what we will do.”

“Ryan Butress.” Mother sounded extra-weird to Lucas and for the first time that morning he and his sister looked each other in the eyes. “I’ll not hear more of that. I have all the time she needs and so do you. She will tell us what she wants, when she wants. And we will not decide what she does, she decides what she does. Understand?” When her husband didn’t answer right away, Clare started crying.

Delilah stood in the gaze of three stone serious faces and she didn’t know what to say. Lucas broke the silence before it became hysteria.

“What is going on?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s because I’m not wearing makeup.”

Dad looked up from his bowl of cereal. “Sweetie, I’m not mad and neither is your mother. We just want you to be alright.”

“Well, I’m fine,” Delilah answered. “I just want to think about how I’m going to tell you what I found out. It’s been staring me in the face for so long and for me to just realize it. I mean, it’s stupid that I didn’t see it before. Why didn’t one of you tell me? Did you not know?”

“How could we know?” Her mother asked. “I don’t sleep in your bed, I don’t go out with you when you stay over at Angela’s house.”

“Is that what happened?” Her dad asked.

“That’s not important.” Her mother answered. “What’s important is what happens now.”

“O.K. Fine.” He stood from the table. His left hand shook and that was a bad sign. It meant he was really pissed. Delilah didn’t understand why her mom was so angry. “I’m going to work before I get in over my head and say something I’ll regret. I love you all and I’ll be home by four if anyone wants to fill me in then.”

As soon as the Mercedes backed out of the driveway, Lucas took this chance to jump ship. “I’m going to the gym and then job hunting. Bye.”

His mother crossed the kitchen and hugged him. Then, she turned and took an apple from the basket. “Eat this on your way. You’ll need energy to workout.”

“Thanks, mom.”

After the kitchen cleared of the menfolk, the women of the house stood quietly. They stood at the sink and watched Lucas jog down the sidewalk until he was out of view, then they looked at each other.

“Why are you looking at me that way, mom? God, why is everyone is so weird this morning.”

“I’m just worried about you. We are worried. Your dad and I.”

“Mom. It’s not a big deal. Here, listen. I’ll try to explain.”

“No. I want you to listen. That’s all I want you to do right now.” She pointed to the kitchen table. “Sit down so we can talk.”

“Mom!!”

“Don’t you yell at me.” She said it quietly, but it was a command that Delilah knew to obey. She sat and waited for her mother to speak. “Now I only have one question and I want the truth. Who’s the father?”

“What?”

“Just answer the question. Who’s the…”

“I don’t know. Dad, I guess. Who else?”

The words her daughter spoke didn’t make sense to her. They had meant something, but they quickly turned into something else before they reached her ears. Something like red worms burrowing through the dirt. Worms that ate the all the bad words once they left the mouth and spoiled in the open air.

Reverse Image

Delilah looked at her face reflecting in the bathroom mirror. She had just learned on Youtube that the image she saw reflecting back at her was not the same as it appeared to people on the street. The reflection was a mirror image. Exactly opposite of what everyone else saw.

She wished she could see what other saw, how she looked from the vantage point of others. How had she gone so long applying make-up backward to her face, primping and teasing her hair backward, smiling approvingly at a look that was completely opposite of what she had always thought it was?

There’s no wonder why she never turned any heads throughout middle school and during freshman year. But, now things were going to be different. Delilah was certain to see what everyone else was seeing.

“Dee, hurry.”

It was her older brother, Lucas, standing outside the bathroom door, probably doing the pee dance.

“Dee, please.”

“Go downstairs. Use dad’s.”

“He’s asleep. He’ll go ballistic if …”

The bathroom door flew open. “Fine. Whatever. Just stop talking to me.”

Lucas stared in disbelief. “What have you been doing all this time? I’ve been waiting patiently, gritting my teeth, because I know …”

“You don’t know anything, Luke. Just like always.”

He pushed past her and closed the door, not sure what he said wrong; without time to think, he could figure it out later if she was in a better mood.

Downstairs, Delilah’s mother, who everyone in the world called Clare, greeted her daughter with all smiles. “You’re gorgeous, do you know that?”

“Mom.” She glanced at Ryan, her dad. “Morning, dad.”

“You’re mom’s right, you know?”

“Yeah. Yeah. I’m not wearing makeup.”

“And I think that’s a good thing because makeup should be saved for special occasions.” Clare continued while buttering toast. “It shouldn’t be for everyday use. It’s really not good for your face over years and years of use.”

“Yep. Clogs your pores.”

“Well, that’s not why I’m not wearing it. It’s more complicated than that. I just found out something huge. It changes everything. Last night actually.”

“Like what?” Mom questioned.

“I don‘t know. Well, I don‘t know. I’m not really sure how to tell you. It’s hard to explain.”

“Whatever it is we we’ll understand.”

“Well, I should have realized it before because we were talking about it before school was out. At least last month ago or two at the most. I should have known.”

This brought the attention of both parents.

Continue on Part 2

Shallow Grave part 6

Shallow Grave

(Part 6)

by Thadd Presley

 

Over the years, following my first novel “Shallow Grave” there has always been one nagging question: Was the book a product of my imagination or did I sell my soul for it? Late at night, as the fear of hell and eternal damnation seem the realest, I tell myself that I’d know if I’d sold my soul? It wouldn’t be something I could forget or suppress. After all, how could selling my soul be so easy? It’s not like I have a receipt laying around in case I didn’t get everything I ever wanted.

While the book has done very well and led me to a good career, the money hasn’t exactly been in the millions. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many of the nicer places in North America, Canada included, more than I ever thought I would actually, and I spent time in the most famous European hot spots. Through publisher conferences, book signings, and writer retreats I’ve seen much of the world.

During the release of the second book, I was even fortunate enough to take my family to Ireland and just a year later we spent a month in Australia together. It’s been great.

More books followed, proving my success wasn’t a fluke, more than enough to convince me that my accomplishments were my own. Sells were enough to keep my children in college and the family comfortable, although we weren’t able to take vacations every year and I certainly never become famous.

In fact, after the first few late night talk shows and half a dozen book signings beside the leaders in the horror genre, I realized I didn’t want to be a famous person. Fifteen minutes was more than enough. Any more attention would have caused problems between my ego and the antisocial disorder that had been working so well for me. I was a writer after all, not an entertainer, and I wanted things to remain just as they had been all along.

But, that’s just where the fear found it’s greatest foothold. During all those sleepless nights, if I was fortunate enough to sleep at all, the nightmares and horrors were just beyond the veil of consciousness. No matter how sure I was of my innocence, the fear always found a piece of solid ground large enough to support the weight of it’s accusations. Often where the fog of memory and shadow of guilt came together, I’d find myself facing certain truths that convicted me thoroughly and deeply.

I never wanted fame. I didn’t write to attain a fortune. I wrote because I wanted to have a writer’s life. I wrote so I could find a woman who would someday become a loving wife. Together, I wanted us to become comfortable with a family.

As I am often reminded by the black and faceless accusers, who derail my dreams into darkness and depravity: I got everything I wanted. Everything I could reasonably ask for and expect to receive has been delivered into my life on time and in just the right amount, as if I ordered it direct from a warehouse.

Shallow Grave (part 1)

Shallow Grave

(part 1)

by  Thadd Presley

The wind blew out of the woods and though the window, ruffling the curtains, heightening my awareness of the strangely warm night. I had been writing for three hours every night for the past week, feeling more at home at my desk than I had in months. I was becoming more involved in my writing and the newest character, Markus, was finally going to escape the town and the evil I’d created for him so long ago in the short stories written in my youth. The writing had suddenly become effortless and each scene fell out of my mind so easily that I didn’t realize I’d slipped back into an ongoing story I never finished. Actually, I’ve hadn’t tried to finish the story and for over a decade I stayed away from it, dodging every scene that formed in my mind. But tonight, the click-clack of the typewriter keys calmed and somehow soothed the story out of me. I remembered a time when the typewriter was the only thing that quieted the voices in my head. The voices and scenes that returned to me tonight  were directly from the origin of my stories which took place in the same fictional town.

Lately, the voices for these long lost stories had become so loud that they were nothing more than a constant noise I couldn’t escape. I’d written nothing new in so long I was beginning to worry. I knew the only relief from the burden was getting the stories out of my head and onto the paper that I hoped would hold them forever.

Being a professional writer, I often took my writer’s curse in stride and learned how to use it to my advantage. I always told myself that I was lucky to have these voices, although it was sometimes troublesome, it was part of being a writer and, knowing that, I welcomed it.

In my work, it never seemed strange to hear voices and write down what they told me. Many of the voices came through as dialog, but others told me about their lives, their families, and I saw it as my job to document what they said. In some ways, in many ways, I was a journalist and biographer for the people and places that resided in my heart and mind. I made it my life’s work to tell the stories of those that lived and died in my head.

Does this seem strange? It might seem lunacy to those who don’t write stories, create music, or perform any other kind of art. Also, I realized that it’s not just artists who hear voices. I think most all of us have a nagging voice in our head. After all, my thoughts come through in the form of a sound. My ideas have never appeared before my mind’s eye on a computer screen. The voices, the people, the words become part of a process that drives the ideas that make  life worth living.

I always heard the voices and for a long time I didn’t mind having these strange people living in my head. It all changed when I was in the seventh grade. It occurred to me suddenly that I didn’t know if the voices were other versions of myself or if they came from somewhere outside of me. I decided I wanted to be a writer around that time and I’m not sure why, but the voices had much to do with the decision.

Whatever reason it came about, all I can say is that it’s become my career and I’ve been very lucky to have a job that I mostly enjoy. After all, not many people get to document the lives and secrets of imaginary people.
My love for writing has been very strong ever since, but I was often hesitant to write about the depravity of some lives and the gruesome themes of others. It was a good friend of mine during college who told me that it was a gift and I’d be a fool to not follow every trail and embrace it, no matter where it took me.

Years ago, before I realized what my future was going to be, I tried to talk it over with my best friend. I’d already told him the story before, but it never came out the way I intended. Perhaps, he thought I was trying to brag about my chance to publish n a back door fashion and that might have been a tad bit true, but mostly, I think, he thought I was lying. Then one night, I finally got it all out to him.

“Greg,” Allen shouted one night while we were drinking in the local college bar, “it’s time to show your talent. Come on and just publish the novel. You said yourself that it’s finished. What are you scared of? You chicken or…” He didn’t want to continue because we were friends and he knew it wasn’t his place to dictate my career, but he knew me well enough to call me on my bullshit.

“I’m not chicken. I just don’t know if I should do it. My mom’ll want a copy and she’ll not understand why I’d write something like that. It’s not my style at all.”

“Do you want to be a big time writer or not?”

“Yes,” I answered. “I want to be published, but I don’t want people to think I’m a weirdo or become someone who thinks of evil shit all the time. It’s bad enough to be typecast as a horror writer when there’s so much more to write about.”

He only smiled at me.

“Everyone knows there’s more to a writer than what he writes.”

It’s always been hard to argue with Allen, because he always knew me so well and I he usually had my best interest at heart. “But, my mom.”

“But my mom,” he mocked. “But my … What the fuck does she have to do with this? You are the writer. She knows the talent you have. Believe me, she’ll understand. I think she’d be more disappointed if you didn’t follow your dreams because of what you thought she would think.” He laughed then. “She knows it’s only a story. It’s not like it’s a biography.” He took a moment to finish his pint. “She’ d want you to publish and realize your dream. She’d want you to be happy.”

But, he was wrong on one point. It was a biography. A biography of someone in my head and that person is part of me. So, in a small way, the stories are my biography. I shrugged the thought off and took a drink of my beer.  “Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said. “I just don’t want her to be shocked when she reads it. For God’s sake Allen, it’s the weirdest story I’ve ever written.”

“But you have a publisher ready to roll.”

“Everybody has a publisher ready to roll. It’s call Amazon. They’ ll publish anything on demand.”

“You know what I mean. You’ve got an income stream waiting to be utilized and you’re…”

“Yeah, I’m behind on rent. Just say it.”

“Damn it, she’d want you to do this. Imagine if she knew you were afraid of publishing a story because you thought she’d not like it. She’s a grown woman and has probably read books just as weird.”

“I know.” My excuses were running low at this point and I needed the money.

“Then quit wasting time. The moon is full and the devil is waiting.”

“Don’t say it like that. The voices are not the devil.”

“Well, then, correct me if I’m wrong. Last time I talked to you, didn’t you say that someone spoke to you out of the darkness and promised you fame and fortune? I think you said that the voice said anything you want could be yours.”

“Yes, but that was just my imagination. I’d been awake for days writing on the novel and probably having delusions. It was probably just sleep paralysis.”

“But, you did it. Didn’t you? You listened to the voice and now the public is waiting to buy your book. Money in hand.”

Slowly I took the knife out of my pocket. “I did it with this, you know.”

“Tell me again. Exactly what you did. I want to be rich too.” He was holding his empty glass up to signal the waiter. It seemed as if he was getting ready to hear the story for the first time.

“I’ve told you twice already. It’s just not something I like to –”

“I want to hear it again. Please tell me.” He ordered us each a pint each and when they were  in front of us we took them to a dark, corner booth. He was waiting for me to begin, so I downed half the pint and began the story for him.

Our Walk (fragment 4)

Our Walk
(fragment 4)
by Thadd Presley

As you may well have heard from your own vicar or sister, as you follow our journey together and learn of our battles, the lives of my companions and myself were given over to our Father God before we were born, whether we admit it or not, making our conception a matter of the Church with nothing to with a husband and wife’s love for one another. Our birth into the realm of Earth put a dual claim on us; God had a claim to our spirit while the Church had it’s claim on our body and we knew from an early age that our short lives would be given back to God quickly, for our paths were to bring before us the manifestation of an evil so fierce and powerful that we would surely die upon setting our eyes on it. Our hearts would fail us at just knowing such a blasphemy, since our hearts were the writing stone of God’s commandments long before our fleshy bodies had been taught the lies which would have led us into sin. We know not what lies ahead of us, only that we are to show no fear, nor even bat an eyelash in the presence of Hell’s most hideous creations. When we stand up face to face with the vilest of acts performed by cruelest of monsters, we know our bodies are nothing but dirt and our souls were never ours. The control we have learned to exercise over our body was just for these moment so we can someday fulfill God’s commandment. It is not our lives for which we should hold dear, because there exists a Salvation that none can rival. The evil which lies before us does not have the power to pluck us from the hands of God, only to deliver us into them. While Satan has tried in vain to plunge all of humanity into darkness, even since the beginning of time, and cause God’s children to falter and turn from their destiny, hasn’t the authority to undermine the truth of God’s promises, which is life eternal with God Almighty, who’s name is Worthy.

Our Walk “fragment one”

Our Walk

Fragment One:
The Deepest Stairway

by Thadd Presley

And into hell we went, as close together as our bodies could afford; halfway falling, halfway crawling, barely clinging to the edges, struggling to keep our footing on the narrow edge jutting from the wall, moving slowly and mindfully; for the steps, which led down steeply, would eventually come to a pit; and, if I might add right here, for it must be pointed out in the beginning, the steps were growing steeper as we got deeper and farther from the surface and, being steps like which I had never seen, I must say they were becoming like glass in both color and texture possibly caused by the heat rising from the pit we knew laid below us somewhere in the darkness. The wall itself was of a crumbly nature, a brimstone. I feared that we might, at any minute, find ourselves in the presence of the Devil himself…

 

Jack’s Apartment (part 6)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 6)

by Thadd Presley

Jack was chanting again. Adam tried to turn away from him, to roll onto his stomach, but with the pain stopped him. Then, from the bottom of his vision, he saw something move.

Looking into the room behind Jack, Adam saw a woman coming towards him. She has come back, he thought. My God.

Then he saw that it was not one but two women. The skeletons were no longer dead.

The form of the red-haired girl was not fully formed. Her eyes were only black holes, and her hands were stretched out before her. Yellow strings wiggled around her wrist and connected to white tendons right before his eyes. This is a dream, he thought. I’m dying and this is only a fever dream caused by fear.

Help us, Adam, they said in unison. He was going into shock. He knew death would be soon.

He suddenly realized, with fear clutching his heart, that Jack had told him the truth. The demon had given him a way of bringing back the dead. With great agony, he found strength and sat up from under Jack’s hands. Jack still had pieces of intestines wrapped in his fingers, and they pulled out more as Adam scooted away from the skeletons.

Once again, the strange voice started to speak through Jack’s lips. Adam saw his chance and reached for the cross he’d worn around his neck since his twenty-first birthday.

The woman laughed and reluctantly took a step back.

As they retreated, the little girl’s body grew together more and more. Flesh was connecting on her shoulders and arms. The other woman, much older than the girl, was completely formed. She put her hands to her breasts and smiled. Jack looked up at Adam and smiled as well. Through Jack’s smile, the demon’s voice did not falter, but kept Jack’s lips speaking words he could not understand. Then, the older woman stopped moving back and spoke in a strange language.

As if the words opened his eyes, Adam saw the book. My God, he thought, they were not victims at all. They were chained here in an attempt to stop them from returning. He saw the man then, reading the book, trying to learn the ancient words in an attempt to keep the two women from coming back from the dead. The only way to kill them was to embalm them and take out their organs in a certain way. The entire process was ancient and involved a long forgotten spell that had been created by people tens of thousands of years older than the Egyptians.

“I command you,” he said, surprised at the strength in his voice.

Jack looked up and seemed to be himself for the first time since Adam came to.

The mother spoke then. “And who are you?” This brought doubt shooting through Adam’s mind. He didn’t know who he was.

“Yes. You know what you are,” she said and laughed.

Adam felt a bolt of electricity shoot through his body, coupled with a memory… the memory of the worst thing he’d ever done. It caused him to question himself, to doubt himself.

“Let them help me, Adam,” Jack croaked. “They’re angels sent to give Caroline back. Please help them.”

“No, Jack, they’re sent by the Devil. They tricked you and you et them free from hell.”

The demon’s voice spoke through Jack again; powerful words that he would never remember.

“We are free, Jack.” It was the little red-haired girl who spoke. “Now, we can give you the gift.” She came forward, and her flesh was almost complete. Only her face was left decrepit, showing red muscle and gray, white bone. Her voice was thundering, nothing like the voice which should come from a little girl. “Come to us, Jack, and be with us always.”

Adam heard a siren in the distance, and the words from Jack came faster. It was now two voices speaking.

“We’ll never die, Adam. Come be with us.”

“Never!” he screamed as his friend’s lips spoke in an old forgotten language.

“We see your soul, Adam. You know he has power greater than you can imagine. He knows what you did.”

The memory of his worst sin came to him, and he tried to fight it, but he saw it and couldn’t turn away.

He thought about trying to get the book, but there was no way he could get up or approach the room, not with his insides hanging out and now with these women blocking the way. But he had to. Somehow, he knew he had to get to that book. He pulled his intestines up into his hands. Jack did not try to stop him. His hands were over his head, chanting.

Adam started to scoot himself toward the room.

Suddenly, as if they could read his thoughts and see his fear, the red-haired girl flew toward him. Her feet did not touch the floor.

The sirens were closer, now, both the police and ambulance. It was empowering to know help was on the way. Adam reached out with his free hand and pushed the little girl. Surprisingly, she floated easily out of his way.

She smiled a gorgeous, crooked-toothed smile that melted his heart. He’d never had children of his own, but if he would have, he would have wanted one just like her. He felt love for her and wished he could save her.

A laugh came from the child’s throat then, causing him to cover his ears. It was the loudest sound he’d ever heard and he wondered if others could her it. He would have sworn that people all over the city had heard it. The mother was right behind her, completely whole and naked. “We can help you too, Adam. The salvation you seek is with us. You only have to ask.”

“You don’t know what I seek.”

“But you do.” The woman screamed.

Adam knew he didn’t have time for her games. He was dying.

Everything seemed too far away. Jack’s voice had once been loud and clear, but now it was fading. He knew he had to get to the book.

He quickly turned his head from the two unholy things. Now that they were both fully formed and naked, he saw that they were the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. He couldn’t continue to look at them. He knew it was a sin to feel these feelings. He tried to think of his wife, but her face would no come to him.

Jack’s bible was lying on the floor in front of the couch. It had fallen off the coffee table during the struggle. He reached out to get it, but the mother was on him as if she could read his mind. “You cannot defeat us. We are beyond your time, beyond your knowledge, beyond all things you understand.”

The red-haired girl was faster that Adam. But, as she moved around him, he managed to reach out and grab her foot. Where his fingers touched, smoke rose and left a blackened hand print on her skin.

Trying to hold his intestines in one hand, he got off the floor and turned toward the mother. He held his hand up and her skin started to smoke. Never before had he felt such power, but he knew it was not his power. He pushed her backward with an invisible hand. Just the thought of touching her was enough to drive her back. Two black hand prints appeared on her chest. He didn’t put his hands down until she was against the wall.

Her leg still showing Adam’s blackened, charred hand print, the little girl screamed and flew towards him. He turned to meet her attack, but she circled around him and disappeared into the room.

Adam spoke verses from the bible and from the room came terrible screams of agony. He repeated verses that he knew held power.

The women, stricken by the words, screamed louder and louder still. Then, with their voices echoing off the walls of the dusty room, they fell to the floor. The older woman’s body was writhing around in a puddle of puss, like red soup. Her body had quickly liquified. Smoke rose from both of them. On the floor behind him, Jack started laughing.

This would be Adam’s only chance. Soon the authorities would be there. He walked forward carefully and grabbed Jack around the throat. Tiny flames hopped alive on Jack’s skin where Adam touched him. The odor poured up and over his face. It was almost more than he could bear, but he gripped tighter just the same.

Smoke began to fill the room. It was pouring from the two women as well and the come quickly filled with the vile, disgusting stench of burning flesh. Already, they had become the skeletons they had been ten minutes before, but Adam could not stop. He held his hands tight around Jack’s throat until the man stopped struggling.

He had a responsibility, both to his friend and the world. His friend, who’d become host to a demon, could not be allowed to live. So, without a glance back, he took the quilt from the floor and tossed it over the heater. Black smoke began to fill the room.

Adam breathed the smoke deep into his lungs. In coughing gasps, he felt his strength leave him.

Jack’s Apartment (part 5)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 5)

by Thadd Presley

Jack came to, lying on the floor inside the dusty room. His face was inches from wool socks that bunched around the brittle bones of the girl’s feet. He felt very sad for her because she gave her life for an experiment. He wanted to reach out and feel her socks, but knowing they would crumble under his touch, he didn’t have the heart to destroy them. She had been through so much.

He realized then what he was meant to do. He could bring her back. Somehow. Wasn’t that what the man had done; brought his daughter back? Why else would he have gotten to see all he had, if not to help? He realized then that he could see Caroline. He could bring her back.

Then, he found himself engulfed with the knowledge he needed. Something had stuck out to him from the visions he’d seen. He looked around to find what he couldn’t remember. He saw it then and wondered why he hadn’t paid it more attention. It was the old, handwritten book. It had all the information and direction he needed to bring Caroline back. The book held ancient secrets unknown to man, pages upon pages telling of other worlds and gates that lead to them: gates to the dead and how they could be opened.

The book was priceless and held powers that no man alive remembered. He wanted the book. He had to know its secrets if he was to bring Caroline back; to right his wrong, he had to learn the secrets.

His hands trembled at the thought of holding the book. There were other papers on the desk that held the key to unlocking secrets of a forgotten time.

Written in a strange, unearthly language, the pages called to him. He saw drawings that depicted those who walked between worlds and the kingdoms in those worlds, which were described in all their glory and detail. The book told how the civilizations of this world and others fell to endless battles… battles that brought evil into the worlds of men. Yes, worlds!

He lifted a loose page from the desk and blew dust into the air. One look at the words and he knew it told of a last battle where man’s fate would be decided. But, once he got it close enough to read, he found it illegible. Frustrated, he picked up another page… nothing. Not even the drawings made sense to him now.

It was the same with the book. He didn’t understand a single word. But, he blew the dust off and looked at it anyway. There was no doubt about the knowledge the book held and the secrets its pages described. Jack’s need to know pushed him onward. He was sure he could learn how to read the book. It was necessary if he was to bring Caroline back. He had to free her. No, he had to free both of them.

They needed him: both the girl and Caroline.

It wasn’t hard to approach the dusty, disintegrating skeleton of the little girl now that Caroline’s life was at stake. He felt like he knew her and she him. He took a deep breath and brought the hammer down on the ring that held her chains. It took two blows before the old, rusted iron broke. He realized then that a chain was also attached to the body under the bed.

A moment later, less time than he could calculate, he was aware of the cold again. It was entering him, blowing into his face, seeping into him, making him weak. Far away he heard the phone ring. But that wasn’t important; there was more work to be done.

We need you, Jack.

He looked at the skeleton girl who was now crumpled on the floor. He started to reach down and pull her bones up, but it wasn’t important…

Read the book, Jack

He suddenly realized he’d done something wrong. An overwhelming emotion of fear fell upon him.

He wanted his Bible. He needed the comfort and protection of his new found faith.

“Jack,” a weak voice wheezed behind him, spinning him away from the skeleton and back to reality.

“Adam, good lord, lay still,” he said, walking toward his friend.

Adam was struggling to get up. “It’s a demon, Jack.” Adam took a deep, rattling breath. “I saw him in my dream. It made him kill his wife and child.” The quilt was filled with blood and Adam had his hand at his cracked skull.

“Dear God,” Jack cried, rushing to Adam’s side and pulling his belt off. “Keep your hands away from your head.” He bound the man’s hands, taking care not to fight with him. “It’s for your own good. You don’t want to dig your brains out, do you?” It was like dealing with a child, a strong child.

During the last year he had volunteered at the hospital and learned that head injuries were often made worse by people poking their dirty fingers into their brain and not knowing it. This was exactly the case with Adam. Jack saw that he had indeed been digging into his skull. Now the bone-white skull was covered with bits of grey, unwittingly pulled out by Adam’s probing fingers.

“Lord, be with us,” Jack prayed.

“It itches, Jack. Give me that screwdriver. I have to scratch it.”

The phone rang.

“Lydia,” Jack screamed into the phone. “Are you on the way?” He listened. “I’m afraid your husband is worse,” he explained to her. “He had a heart attack or something. He collapsed and hurt himself badly.” He listened. “Yes, I called them,” he lied and hung up.

Now he had to call them. He had no choice. If he didn’t it would look very bad.

With a shaking hand and an ever-more unpredictable finger, he pushed at the buttons on the phone.

“Nine-One-One. What is your emergency?” A woman was on the line before the first ring ended.

“I need an ambulance at the Wartzburg Building downtown. My friend has fallen. He has a head injury.” Jack heard her typing. “I’m afraid…he’s…I had to bind his hands with my belt. He’s quite delirious…”

The phone beeped in his ear and a woman’s voice, obviously automated, began to explain about staying on the line until the paramedics got to him. “Damn,” Jack said and hung up.

Adam was still fighting Jack’s every move and was now trying to stand up. Jack held Adam down and tie the his ankles with an extension cord.

What am I doing? he thought. “I’m so sorry, Adam, please forgive me.”

Jack. The voice called to him. It was a man. You can save her.

Don’t listen, Jack,” Adam croaked. “It’s lies.”

You can bring her back. She is your responsibility.

Jack picked up the screwdriver and knew what to do. He could bring Caroline back by sacrificing a life for a life. With a moan he pushed the tip of the screwdriver into his friend’s stomach. The screwdriver did not go easily. He had to use his other hand to hold the skin taunt. Finally, it broke through with a pop.
Adam shook his head and tried to fight, but he didn’t have the strength. “Don’t, Jack,” he said, twisting his body away. The cold steel was deep inside him. “Caroline’s gone. This won’t bring her back.” But, as he said it, he saw that Jack’s eyes were far away.

Jack pulled the screwdriver out and pushed two fingers into Adam’s stomach, just like he saw the man do in his vision. Adam’s insides were much warmer than Jack imagined.

Adam felt a tug and then pain erupted in his head and shot lightening fast through his body, filling his vision with red. He managed to look down at his body and screamed when he saw what Jack was doing.
Slowly, Jack was pulling Adam’s intestines out, loop by loop. They were gray with bits of clotted blood on them.

Black and green filled them in places.

When Jack started chanting, Adam was surprised at the low, guttural voice that he heard coming from his friend. Adam realized what was happening and the idea of death scared him.

Jack had given total control to the demon in the hopes of getting Caroline back.

“Jack, stop. It isn’t too late.”

Jack felt the love he had for Adam escalate. He bent down and kissed Adams cheek. “Thank you for everything,” he told Adam, then started chanting over again.

“Shut up, you fucking idiot! Can’t you see what you’re doing? Caroline is dead. She will not come back…” Adam groaned and his voice faded, unable to continue because of the pain.

Jack stopped for a moment. He was going to say something, but Adam didn’t give him a chance.

“Something is doing this to you, Jack. We have to get out of here.”

“They do not want to hear your drivel,” Jack said. It was the other voice again talking through him.
“They have been left alone for too long, waiting to be freed. Now, have a bit of fucking respect.” He jabbed the screwdriver into Adam’s arm. “And let me concentrate.”

There was already more pain than Adam thought possible. The pain in his stomach was terrible, so terrible, he didn’t even feel the screwdriver in his bicep. He knew that he was going to die, and there was nothing he could do about it. Soon, he would go into shock.     “Listen to me, Jack. Caroline is gone.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 4)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 4)

by Thadd Presley

Jack’s mind screamed for him to leave, to run away — this was an evil place –and never return, but he couldn’t look away. The red shock of hair, which hung from the skull in clumps, was too hideous to be anything but real.

“My God, Adam, is that a little girl?” Jack’s voice was only a whisper. “I mean, she can’t be real?”

“No, she can’t be.” He took a small breath, and silence filled the apartment while both men stood silently looking at the skeleton. “But, she is.”

Adam was praying, but also trying not to comprehend that things like this happened all over the world. He didn’t want to know the evils that men wrought.

Jack stood beside him looking at the shackled child in disbelief. His mind halted at the implications, but he was once an evil man himself and knew too well the terrible things the minds of men brought into existence. Men kill innocent people every day. I am a murder myself, he thought.

As Adam prayed, trying to forget the image before him, Jack saw more and more of the room’s contents: a long, black stain ran down the wall behind the skeleton and another black stain was under the small writing desk. The wooden chair, was covered in the same blackness stain, broken to pieces under the desk.

The girl’s screams came to Jack, suddenly. He could hear a woman crying behind the screams. He could see what happened in that room. He was forced to watch.

The black stain, which covered a large portion of the wall, was blood that had dripped from the girl’s shackled wrists. Just a flash of the terrible events showed him enough for an eternity: the girl hanging in the shackles, crying softly, pulling at her own wrists. He saw the blood breaking through the skin, running down her white arms. Her wild eyes darting around, watching, her fear of being trapped… of being unable to escape before she was to die.

The bruises running up her arm had been put there by the woman who now wept for the little girl. The woman was much older than his friend Adam. She had beat the girl earlier with a broomstick and burned her with a hot poker, first sticking the poker to the girl’s legs, which began to blister immediately. Then the broomstick was used on rest of her. The girl screamed and cried as she was beat.

The words flashed in his mind. Help Me!

He knew the little girl’s fate better than he knew his own father’s face. Someone had tortured this girl, long and hard, until the girl found it necessary to saw her wrists on the very shackles that imprisoned her. He closed his eyes to the pain she felt. He didn’t want to see anymore. But, the pain and loneliness of the girl pushed in on his mind.

She was beaten severely before being put into the shackles and hung on the wall to starve to death and hang for eternity, but she ended the misery of hunger by finishing the job herself.

As he pushed the scene out of his head, his eyes fell upon an open book on the desk. From what he could see, it was hand written and in a terrible state of decay. The book interested Jack very much. He had to have to look.

“Do you think anyone knows,” Jack asked, starting into the room.

“No, please. Don’t go in there.” Adam backed away from the room.

“Don’t leave me,” Jack pleaded and grabbed the old man’s wrist. “I think there’s…I see –”

“We have to call the police, somebody.”

“But, there’s something else? If I can just get closer –”

“Jack, please don’t.”

“I have to. You don’t understand. They called me. It was this girl that called out to me. I know it sounds crazy, but it was her. She knew my name.”

Fear filled Adam. He didn’t believe in ghosts, and he certainly didn’t want to hang around while was happening. To even know this had happened ,long ago was to much to face. To know that there was someone in the world that did this sort of thing… and something that called to people and knocked on their walls at night. He tried to force it away, but he couldn’t deny what was right in front of him. This was too real.

Adam grasped his left arm.

Adam’s fall brought his head down on the electric heater and a red stain started to bloom on the carpet.

Jack quickly knelt beside his friend so he could check his heart, but before he could: We need you, Jack. Now.

Jack’s head jerked up, afraid he might actually see the skeleton moving. But his eyes adjusted to the gray figure he’d seen on the floor and realized another skeleton lay there. He could only see the legs sticking out from under the bed. He believed, for no obvious reason, that this was the remains of a woman. ‘We need you, now’ was enough to convince him. He got up so he could see better. Her dress had disintegrated over the years, and her bones had partially turned to dust. But, the two voices had been women, and these were they. He was sure of that.

But, this woman had been stuffed under the bed when she died.

How do you know that? He asked himself these questions knowing that there was no answer. He’d never heard about any of this. How did he know that the skeleton under the bed was even a woman.

It didn’t matter. He just knew. He’d seen it. She was the woman who used the poker to burn the little girl. It washer who beat the girl with the broomstick and put shackles on her wrists.

Again, a vision flooded his mind. This woman, who’d been killed and stuffed under the bed, spoken with a man who sat at the desk writing in the old book. He saw them together, speaking softly to each other so the girl couldn’t hear them.

* * * * *

“It’ll only be one more night,” the man said. He wore a tall hat and sat at the desk. The woman stood beside him. “Tomorrow will be the full moon. We can send her back through the gate.”

* * * * *

Suddenly, Adam’s phone rang again and caused Jack to jump. He looked down and saw the blood flower still growing under Adam’s head. He bent down to search for the ringing phone and tripped over Adam’s foot. He fell hard against the wall. Pain shot from his shoulder into his neck. It caught him off guard, and he found himself on the floor beside Adam.

Seeing the thick pool of blood and smelling the metallic odor, made him realize that it was much more serious than he’d first thought. Adam wasn’t just injured on the outside, the man’s eyes told him he might’ve had a heart attack. He knew he had to do something to help him. The fact of two ancient homicides, less than fifteen feet away, meant nothing to him. The only thing that mattered was Adam.

Moving as quickly as he dared, he felt through Adam’s pockets for the phone. Finally he found it inside the pocket of Adam’s jacket, but not before it had stopped ringing. He forced his eyes to focus on the screen and pressed the buttons to show the received calls. Pushing the ‘send’ button on the first listing, the phone automatically dialed. It was Adam’s wife.

“Where are you…” she started without saying hello. “Lydia, it’s Jack.”

“Where’s Adam?”

Fucking Bitch, he thought, shut up a minute and listen. And she was a fucking bitch. He’d known her for a year now, and his opinion of her never improved. She was a nag, a pessimist, and she always needed control over everything. She never gave Adam credit for what he had achieved, neither with the ministry, nor his work with the rehab center. She constantly put others down to make herself look good. Jack realized the way she was as soon as he had met her properly.

“Please, Lydia shut up.”

He heard her gasp and took the moment to keep talking. “I got a big problem here.”

“Where is Adam? Put him on the phone.”

“Did you hear me? I have a problem and I need you too…” The phone clicked in his ear.
Perfect, he thought. Just perfect. What a bitch. He looked at Adam. “You’re gonna make it pal. Just hold in there. You’ll make it just fine.” But the blood on the floor tried to tell him different.

The phone rang in his hand and he jumped. He knew it was Lydia. He answered, “Adam is hurt Lydia. I need you to listen.” She was silent. Good, he thought. “I’m calling the ambulance, but I need you here. Do you know where my apartment is?”

She was silent. “Do you….”

“Not really.”

“Come downtown. It’s right across the tracks at the Wartzburg building…”

“But…” Then she started to cry.

“Are you coming?”

The phone clicked in his ear. He lowered his hand and just looked at the phone. He didn’t call 911 right away. He couldn’t. What would he say? He didn’t know how to begin. He wanted to make sure Adam was awake when they got there, so he could explain the situation himself.

When Adam fell, the sharp corner of the heater punched into his skull. The bone was cracked open, but at least his brains weren’t o

zing out. Jack couldn’t leave him to bleed to death, so he pulled the quilt off the couch and put it under his head. Then, he pulled it tight and redoubled it, tying a bow with the corners to hold it in place. Tucking more of the blanket under the bow, he tightened it to be more of a tourniquet. He thought about using his belt to tighten it further, but didn’t think it would work unless he put it around his neck.

A cold draft forced his mind back to the dusty room and the decayed skeletons. He turned to close the hallway door and stop the draft, but it wasn’t open. The cold was coming from the room.

Help us, Jack.

Jack felt himself go a bit light headed, but he tried to stand up anyway. It was a maneuver he couldn’t manage without leaning against the wall. The cold was bitter and overwhelming. He felt it seep into him, chilling his bones, draining him of his thoughts and energy.

He slowly moved toward the room, admiring his handy work on the broken door frame. I’ll have to fix that, he thought and found it funny. The light-headed feeling had returned, or had never passed, and he found himself leaning on the wall again for support. His thoughts were on the woman and child. He thought of Caroline.

What state was her body in, he wondered. Probably rotting with worms eating away at her.

Suddenly, he was filled with an urge to enter the room, to get close to the girl. It was a feeling he found absurd, but, none the less, could not fight. The room and the girl were the most important things in his life now. He had to help her anyway he could.

The phone rang again. He knew it was Lydia, but didn’t see the point of answering it. She was either on her way or not, simple as that. He couldn’t make the situation any more clear to her. He’d forgotten to call 911 and wanted to, although, now he didn’t think he could. He had so much he had to do. They need me, he thought. They need my help.

He found strength in wanting to help them; enough to walk out into the hallway. He took the hammer out of his tool bag.

Moving slowly, walked across the threshold back into his room. Upon entering, the cold blasted through him again. In his mind’s eye, he saw the girl screaming and the woman crying. He wanted to help them. But he didn’t know how.

He did know that they would tell him.

It was so cold in the room that Jack shivered violently, and his teeth chattered.

* * * * *

A vivid scene embraced him. He found it impossible not to see the brutality of it all, and he knew he would never unsee it. It filled his aching mind. The man with the tall hat was beating the girl. She was chained to the wall, crying for him to stop. He was a brute of a man. He put his hands around the girl’s throat and choked her until her face turned blue. Then he laughed at her when she came to.

Then the scene changed and the man was dressed in a blood drenched smock, leaning over the red-haired child. She was tied down to a wooden table with leather straps. Jack watched as she screamed and kicked. The table rocked with her strength, and the man held a knife to her stomach, chanting in a language Jack couldn’t recognize. His voice rose in wild octaves, words he had never heard filled the room. It sent chills through him.
The man took the large blade and pulled it smoothly across her abdomen. It was a quick, deep cut that gaped open; his hand moved with the precise skill of a surgeon, but this man was no doctor.

The skin pulled apart on its own, and he reached into the incision, lifting out a gray deformed child. Blood dripped from the man’ s hands as he continued to pull. She screamed, and Jack tried to block the image.

Help us, Jack. We need you.

More and more the man pulled, until finally the large hands and feet of the child were free from her. A thick organ came into view, plopping to the floor. It was her placenta. The blood ran black, spilling from the table onto the floor along with some of her intestines. Strings of black and green hung from the child’s large head. As the man tugged, the girl kicked her legs and flexed her arms. She never stopped twisting on the table. His hands were back inside of her now, groping around. He had placed the baby on the table beside her.

Then, he smiled and the girl stopped moving. “It is working,” he told someone. Jack couldn’t see who else was in the room. “The gate is opening. Soon we will have the gate open and have our daughter back.” He withdrew his hands from the girl’s abdomen and shook them off, splattering the table with tiny clots of red and black. “A life for a life,” he told the unseen listener. “This girl for our girl.”

Jack could stand no more. This had to stop seeing this. He searched his mind for a way to save her; he realized he’d just seen an abortion. But the child was not human.

Then, as if answering the questions forming in his mind, the girl looked toward Jack. “We need you,” she said and passed out.
The man in the blood covered smock shouted. “Soon Tabitha will return. Our daughter will be with us again.”