Corporate Friends

Corporate Friends is the newest novella by Thadd Presley. Available for Kindle.

It’s not a story for the young ones. It shows the great length people will go for their love of money. Even friends will stab each other in the back for more.  Sexual perversion, evil, death, hatred, treachery, and greed follow the people who hold money above all else. “Corporate Friends” explores Friendship when it becomes the shield enemies use to hide behind.

https://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Friends-Thadd-Presley-ebook/dp/B07FXSXR88
Sexual perversion, torture, death, kidnapping, and the abuse of friendship is explored in this short novella. It is not intended for children.

When you purchase a copy of “Corporate Friends” you are supporting my dreams and the continuation of free short stories on Fiction Weekly. Thank you for your visit and for reading. Even if you don’t buy the book, I truly appreciate you for being here.

Still Alive

My dad told my mother that it was not the right time in his life; that everything was happening too fast and he wanted to wait a few more years. So, when she started crying, he knew he had her convinced. They went together.

The small office was in a house on South Laughter Street, right downtown next to the municipal swimming pool.

Outside, a few feet from the road, was a white sign with red and blue letters, sticking out of the lawn like a cheap campaign slogan. Written in Old English font, fading in the sun, the first line was written in red:

“Cash only!” —

The second in blue:

“Your privacy is our priority.”
S. Laughter Street Clinic.”

Mother cried when she read it.

Inside a man took them into a surgical theatre and asked my mother to relax and lay on the table.  My father didn’t want to stay in the room, but the doctor ordered him to stay with her and hold her hand.

“Murder is not easy, Mr. Frente.” He put on plastic gloves. “Your wife will need you to support her and take some of the blame once she realizes what she’s done. To stand at the morning mirror tomorrow, alone and before God, will not be like it was this morning. I hope you understand that.”

My mother started crying again.

“Why do you cry?” The doctor asked perplexed.

She said nothing, sobbing.

“Why is she crying?” He asked my father.

My father looked at my mother. “She doesn’t want to be a murderess.”

“Do you blame her?”

“No, but we can’t have a child now. We’re not ready. There’s too much at stake. My job, the money. There’s just to much to do before…”

The doctor nodded his head and went to his cabinet where he brought back a bible. Inside he had a page marked. “will you please read from the highlighted area before we begin?”

Pushing the bible away from him, he yelled. “What’s this?”

“Just read the last rights. At least you can do that much.”

“No. I will not. Now, you have the money. So, do your job, will you?”

“I’m afraid you don’t understand. sir. I’m not going to do it. I’m going to explain the instruments to you and you are going to do it. Anyone can do it once they are shown how.”

“What?” He couldn’t stand it anymore. “I paid you to do it. What do you think? I’m no doctor.”

“You don’t need a doctor. Doctors are for healing people. You need a clean room, clean instruments, and secret place to commit murder, which I have provided for you. You need me to stay quiet once you are finished killing this child and, since you have paid me very well to do so, I will. But I am not a murderer. No amount of money could persuade me to kill an innocent child.”

My mother was off the table and through the door before my father could reply. She did not return to the car, but instead called a taxi and only left the S. Laughter Street Clinic when it arrived.

She divorced my father and has never seen him again.

The first entry in my journal is this: my mother was convinced to have an abortion, but in the end it didn’t matter. I was still born.

You’d Better Learn

You’d Better Learn

Thadd Presley

“This isn’t how it has to be,” John told the big man holding the bolt cutters.

“I’m tryin’ my best t’ hold everythin’ together, but…” He looked toward his wife. “Just look!!” Sobbing, he slowly lifted his free, undamaged hand and pointed. “Look what I come home to.”

Blood was dripping from his hand and running in streams down his forearm. When he focused on the blood drizzling from his elbow, he felt waves of dizziness flow from his head to his mid-section. “She’s here sucking up the profits while I’m out working.”

“So, that’s where your money’s goin’. Big Daddy wanted me to find out what’s going on with you.”

The giant man, held the mouth of the bolt cutters out waiting for another finger — John’s ring finger was next in line — and focused his attention on the woman huddled in the corner of a dirty sofa crying. “That true? You stealin’ Big Daddy’s dope?” He waited for a response; patience wasn’t his way. “Hey, you hear me? Look at me! You smokin’ up your man’s money and making him late on his payments?” His voice demanded an answer.

She started to say something, but her voice failed.

“Tell me somethin’, John, seriously?” the the big man asked, “what should I do? You want me to take another of your fingers or do I take one of hers? Big Daddy wants two fingers. Today!”

“Just tell him…” Large tears fell from John’s eyes. “I man, ask him to give me more time. I’ll have his money. Just…”

“I’m telling you, your time’s up. He’s using you to send a message to everyone else. After this he’s finished with you.”

These words meant more to John than losing his fingers. He couldn’t survive if he didn’t work for Big Daddy. “Come on, man. Just take the other finger, but don’t cut me off.”

When the executioner cut the ring finger from the hand, the bone popped loudly as it broke. The little finger didn’t do that. It just kind of crushed up and squished off. It hurt, but not like the ring finger. When John screamed, his wife joined him with a short yelp.

Lying in a pool of blood were John’s two fingers. As blood dripped on them, adding to the already significant pool, the ring finger twitched and almost rolled over. John thought it was trying to crawl away, then he realized his wedding ring was still on the finger.

Why hadn’t he thought of that?

“O.K. My job’s done here, John. I didn’t enjoy it, you know that.” He let out a long breath. “I’ve always liked you, we go back, so be sure to have the money by Friday. I don’t want to have to…” He looked around the room, which silently assured him he would be back on Friday. There was no way would he have the money.

“What? What’s on Friday?”

“I got to get that money, brother. Seriously.”

John looked up from his dismembered fingers and spoke, his voice barely a squeak. “You mean, I still have to pay? Even after…”

The big man shook his head. “Don’t tell me you don’t know why I came here today. After all this, you going to sit there bleeding and tell me you don’t owe Big Daddy? Look here, this is just a warning for what’s coming next. Don’t you think it might be in your best interest to pay him?”

“But my fingers? God!”

“I asked you. I gave you a choice. You’ve always had a choice.”

“But, I really have to pay Big Daddy all the money?”

“If you don’t, I’ll have to shoot you. Or maybe you’d rather it be your wife?” He looked over at her. “She’s the problem anyway, right?”

John stared at the floor, not wanting to look at his fingers, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. Is this really happening? He wondered if there was a chance of him waking up and everything being alright..

“Am I? Is… this really happening?”

The big man slapped John in the face, not hard, but hard enough to lay him back in the recliner. “Yes, you are and yes this is. Now, stay with me.”

John didn’t know what the man had said, but he answered, “Yeah, right.” A shutter went through his body. “You’re right. Yeah…”

“You’ve got to get him to a hospital.” He told the wife. He eyes were half closed, but she seemed concerned.

“What do I say to them?” She whispered.

“Tell them you got your husband’s fingers got cut off by a big man with bolt cutters because he owed for drugs.”

“Really,” John asked. The world was growing black around the edges. “You think they can help?”

“Woman!” The the executioner said. “You got to get your man to the hospital, now.”

She looked up at him, eyes yellow and dull. “But really? What do I really tell them?”

“Tell them you had to bring him to the hospital because if you didn’t a really big, black man said he was going to kill you.”

Her eyes blinked slowly, showing a want to live. She didn’t have a good life, but it was life. “Really?” She asked.

“Yeah, really.” He pulled his pistol from under his arm. “I’ll kill you if you don’t.”

Slowly, she stood up and started toward her husband. He wasn’t looking around anymore. His head was leaned back, eyes glaring at the ceiling. “I think he died.” A high pitched squeal escaped her throat and then she started crying. “Do…do you think he’s dead?”

“He will be very soon.”

Grief seized her for a moment, but then the big man saw relief flood her face. “I’m going to miss him so much,” she said beginning to cry louder. “He was my high school crush. We got married right after graduation.”

The moment was lost when the executioner spoke. “Big Daddy wants his money, don’t forget why this happened. He doesn’t care who pays it, as long as it’s paid. Don’t let this man’s life be a sacrifice for nothing. I’m coming back on Friday.” He started to get up, but he pulled back when she started to reach out to him. “Don’t touch me. Get back.”

“What! Wait! I can’t get that much —”

“You’ve almost a week.” He stood up. “You can get some of it. Just show some effort.”

“I’ll don’t know how to get twenty thousand—”

“You’d better learn.”

She sat back on the couch after the big man walked out of the small apartmen and silence filled the room.

The End

 

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

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.”