Ghost stories from hell, p.10

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 10


Ghost Stories from Hell

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  “No,” Liam sighed, “I’m afraid I cannot help you in that regard. I would, though, like to rid myself of you, and unfortunately for you, I’m afraid, that means killing you.” Liam gave him a sad, conciliatory smile. “I promise you. I will receive no pleasure in it. You are far too old and simply no longer attractive to me. You must have been an absolutely delectable youth, though, and I imagine your sweetmeats were ever so sweet.”

  “I’m just impressed with how you can talk to me, keep the two priests in the past and keep Mason out of the picture,” James said, sliding his finger onto the trigger.

  “Well, thank you,” Liam said, offering a short tilt of his head in a sign of pleasure, “it is difficult. I am thankful that I have enough skill and concentration—”

  And ‘concentration’ was the word that James was waiting for.

  He put a single round into Liam’s face, spinning the man around, the tails on his coat flaring out.

  James followed up with two more quick shots, the noise of the shotgun drowning the outraged screams of the beast across from him.

  And then the thing and the darkness were gone.

  Chapter 31: The Second Floor of the Boylan House

  Mason sat on the wide plank floor of the Boylan House. The shutters were closed. Beside him sat James on the right and Father Moran on the left. Father Alexander sat across from them.

  They had listened to James’ tale, and they had believed him, of course. Even if they had wanted to doubt him, the fact that he knew exactly what horrors they had all been experiencing, erased all doubt. In the sickening silence of the house, the men tried to gather their thoughts and their courage.

  The mere existence of Liam Boylan rattled the men more than they cared to admit.

  “What do we do now?” James asked, reloading the shotgun which he had used so effectively.

  “We need to find where he is hiding,” Father Moran said.

  “And drive him out of it,” Father Alexander finished.

  “And when he’s driven out?” James asked. “What then? How do we kill something that is dead?”

  “We have to find his place of power,” Mason said, rubbing the back of his head. “With that destroyed, he won’t be strong enough to resist the prayers of exorcism.”

  “Will we be able to get home?” James asked.

  Father Alexander nodded. “With him gone,” he said, sweeping his hand around at the room they were in, “all of this will return to normal.”

  “And if we don’t kill him?” James asked.

  “Then we won’t have much to worry about anyway,” Mason said, standing up. “But the Churches know we’re here, James. Even if we don’t accomplish this, then others will come to finish the job.”

  “That’s not a lot of comfort,” James said as he and the two priests stood.

  Mason smiled. “I don’t expect that it is.” He looked around the room and then his eyes settled on the chimney and fireplace. It was a truly monstrous affair, built out of fieldstones and held together with some ancient mortar. A heavy mantle of thick, dark wood ran along all four sides, much like the one on the first floor.

  But Mason remembered something.

  He walked to the fireplace and held the shotgun in the crook of one arm, a hand on the butt of the stock. Reaching up, he ran his hands along the edges of the stones that met the mantle, then along those that formed the rounded corners of the chimney.

  And he found it, just a slight depression. Enough for him to slip three fingers into and when he did, there was a loud click. With only a slight tug, the entire upper part of the right section of the chimney pulled away, swinging open on unseen hinges.

  Stacked neatly, on a dozen rows of polished wood, were small skulls which had been bleached white. A neat hand had labeled each skull, the writing a fluid script that had the curious lettering of the seventeenth century. But the names were easy enough to read, and one of two rows from the top caught Mason’s eyes.

  Kevin Peacock.

  “What the hell?” James asked.

  “Hell is right,” Father Moran said, and Father Alexander offered up a prayer in Greek.

  Looking at the skulls, Mason saw there was a large, iron key hanging at the bottom shelf, barely visible in the small ossuary’s shadows. Mason reached in and took the key out.

  It was large and bitterly cold to the touch. He put it on the mantle for a moment, pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wrapped it around the key. The cloth helped a little, but not much.

  “We need to find a keyhole,” Mason said.

  “There aren’t any doors up here,” James said, and he and the two priests looked around.

  “There won’t be,” Mason said. “It will look like a knothole or a stain. But it will be at the height of a doorknob.”

  Stepping away from the chimney, Mason joined the other men, and they started walking closely around the room. They did one complete circuit around the room, then a second, and then a third. They started their fourth when Father Alexander called out, “Here!”

  They hurried to him and found him standing before a shuttered window.

  “I didn’t think to look at the shutters,” he said, pointing to a small keyhole in the left shutter of the window.

  “Neither did I,” James said.

  Stepping forward, Mason slid the key into the keyhole and turned it slowly to the right. A grating sound, like that of old tumblers in terrible need of oil, assaulted their ears.

  Something clicked loudly, and Mason let go of the key, his fingers partially numb and complaining loudly.

  The shutter swung out towards them, revealing a long dark hallway that stretched into nothingness.

  “That really shouldn’t be there,” James said. “That’s just leading out into the open air.”

  “If we weren’t within this house,” Father Moran said, “then that would certainly be true, James. But we are beyond reality here. This is Liam Boylan’s house, something which he built in both our world and within his own corrupted mind.”

  “Well,” Mason said, flexing his hand to get some of the feeling back into it, “let’s get on with this, shall we?”

  The other men nodded and Mason stepped up and into the opening beyond the shutter. The floor of the passage was rough wood. The walls were of the same. Light came from somewhere, although he couldn’t quite be sure. No windows broke the monotony of the walls and the passage never turned, never dipped, never raised up. It simply continued on.

  All too soon, the open shutter behind them was gone, not even a speck in the distance.

  Then the passageway began to turn. A gentle curve that rolled out to the right, then rolled back to the left, finally opening to a large, dark field. The sky above had only a smattering of stars and the moon was absent. Corn, nearly ripe, stood in tall rows around the circle which the passage emptied into.

  The field’s tall grass had been pressed down as if stomped upon by many feet.

  In the center of the field was a large fire pit that was dark with blackened wood. The smell of freshly cooked meat hung in the air.

  Mason could tell instantly it wasn’t from animals, however.

  “Smells like a pork roast,” James said in a low voice.

  “It’s not,” Mason replied.

  “What is it then?” James asked.

  “Try not to think about it,” Father Alexander said.

  “Try not to think about it? Think about what? Do—” James stopped talking. “Oh.”

  Mason moved towards the fire pit. A rustling sounded from the corn and a trio of shapes appeared.

  They were shadows; darkness solidifying and fading.

  Three middleaged men. They were Native Americans with thick hair hanging well-past their shoulders, down their backs. They wore breeches, moccasins, and leather jerkins. They all carried muskets.

  They looked warily at Mason and the others.

  One of them spoke something in his native tongue and looked at Mason.

ather Moran stepped forward and said to Mason, “May I try something?”

  “Please, do,” Mason said as the newcomers shifted in and out again.

  Father Moran said something in what sounded like French and one of the men solidified even further, smiling as he asked a question.

  Father Moran answered, and the man translated into his own tongue.

  Mason and the others looked at Father Moran.

  “What’s he saying?” Mason asked.

  “He’s probably telling them that we’re looking for Boylan, too,” Father Moran said.

  “How did you know he spoke French?” Father Alexander asked.

  “Do you see the crucifix upon his chest?” Father Moran asked.

  “Yes,” Father Alexander answered.

  “Only the French were converting Natives at this time. I was lucky he knew the language,” Father Moran said.

  “So were we,” James added.

  The French speaking native turned back to Father Moran and told him something.

  Father Moran hesitated for a moment before answering. But he did.

  The French speaking native swallowed and asked Father Moran something else.

  Nodding, Father Moran answered.

  The French speaking native turned to his brethren and repeated what Father Moran had said. One of the men solidified and took a stumbling step back.

  “What did they ask you?” James asked.

  “How long have they been chasing Liam Boylan,” Father Moran said. “I asked if he was still alive when they found the way into his secret place.”

  “And they said yes?” Father Alexander said.

  Father Moran nodded. “I had to tell them that they’d been in here for centuries.”

  The three Native Americans had all solidified completely and sat down around the fire. They looked shocked as if they didn’t know they had been chasing the thing named Liam Boylan for so long.

  Mason went and sat down with them. A moment later, the others joined them.

  The native, who spoke French, looked at Father Moran and asked him a question. Father Moran nodded, answering the man quickly.

  “He asked if we would like their help,” Father Moran said. “I said yes. They have a fair idea of where he might be if we chased him out of the house itself.”

  “That’s fantastic!” James said excitedly.

  The native said something else to Father Moran and the priest nodded. Father Moran turned to the others and said, “The man said that the way is thick with danger. They were six when they began their hunt and even here, in this place, Liam Boylan has destroyed them.”

  “And they will show us the way?” Father Alexander asked.

  Father Moran asked the man, and he nodded. “Yes,” Father Moran said. “They will show us the way.”

  Chapter 32: Within Liam Boylan’s Darkness

  The world around them, Mason realized, would never see sunlight. It would never see a full moon. It would never see any moon.

  It was always night.

  Always Fall.

  Always the end of October, that time which Liam Boylan loved the most, it seemed.

  The Native Americans led the way, more solid than they had probably been in decades, if not centuries.

  All of them moved as quietly as they could, wary of the stalks of corn. Any rustling from the corn would be heard for miles, Mason was sure. There were no animals to hide the noise with their night sounds.

  The air was chilly, and Mason could smell death; old and new, flesh rotting and bones yellowing.

  This was Boylan’s world and none of them knew where he was, within its depths.

  Father Moran had told them that even the Natives weren’t sure how far the boundaries were. But they felt certain as to where the beast was hiding.

  The rows of corn suddenly ended and a narrow field separated the corn from the thick forest beyond. And before that forest was a small cemetery.

  The grave markers were of intricately carved wood. They bore the names of the boys that Boylan had killed. Rows upon rows of them. The markers were in no sort of order, some clumped close together, others scattered individually. No dates marred the surface, only names.

  And amongst them, sitting in a tall chair and looking out at his victims, was Liam Boylan.

  One of the natives raised his musket and fired off a shot that splintered the chair and sent Boylan sprawling. And then they were all running towards him, fanning out as he scrambled to his feet.

  “Damn you all!” the thing shrieked, its mouth opening impossibly wide and the yellow teeth seeming to grow before Mason’s eyes.

  “And you, Philips, oh I am not done with thee!”

  Boylan reached into a pocket and pulled out something. Screaming in a foul tongue, he threw the thing at them.

  Whatever it was, glittered, even in the dim light, and it struck both Father Moran and the French speaking native in the face.

  The native disappeared, yet Father Moran was not so lucky.

  The priest collapsed to the earth, grasping his face with both hands as a gurgling scream tore its way out of his throat. Mason and James fired again at Boylan as the man fled into the forest. The natives firing their weapons as well.

  With Boylan gone, Mason turned to Father Moran and found Father Alexander kneeling beside the fallen priest. The giant Orthodox man was attempting to hold Father Moran still, yet he writhed and screamed. The intensity of his pain nearly shattering Mason’s heart and ears.

  The shrieking continued as James came to stand beside Mason. Father Alexander leaned over Father Moran, whispering something into the man’s ear.

  Almost a full minute later, with Father Alexander whispering the entire time, Father Moran suddenly went silent. His body went limp, and the hands fell from his face.

  Where the face had been, there was nothing but raw flesh and bone. The teeth looked as if they were being barred at the sky, and the eyes were nothing more than red holes. The nose, too, was gone, a ragged triangle where once had been skin and cartilage. Blood and flesh stuck to the palms of Father Moran’s hands.

  Father Alexander climbed wearily to his feet, his eyes red.

  “What did you say?” James asked softly.

  Father Alexander smiled tiredly at the young man. “I told him that he could die, James. I told him that it was alright to die. God would be waiting for him.”

  Mason felt a cool sensation on his shoulder, and he turned. One of the natives had placed his shaking hand upon Mason. The man gestured with his head, and Mason nodded.

  “They’ll still come with us,” Mason said.

  James looked at him. “What are we going to do about Father Moran?”

  “We’ll come back for the body,” Mason said. “Right now, we have to go and kill that prick!”

  “Yes,” Father Alexander agreed, “our first duty is to kill Liam Boylan, whatever he is. And I do not think, as we have said, we will be able to leave this place while that beast is alive.”

  “We can’t discuss it,” Mason said. “We have to go. If you can’t come with us, James, then stay with Father Moran’s body.”

  “I’ll do that,” James said after a moment. “I don’t think I can go into that place,” he said, nodding at the forest.

  “No shame in that, son,” Father Alexander said gently.

  “None at all, James,” Mason said, “we’ll see you soon.”

  Chapter 33: Harold Philips and Julie Markarian

  Harold sat at his small dining table drinking a third cup of coffee. The clock on the mantle in the den, chimed eight. He’d read The Globe, The Union Leader, and The Telegraph.

  There was little left of the Sunday morning, unless he wanted to go to Church.

  And Harold hadn’t been to Church since he’d seen Max Steuben get cut in half by a machine gun on Peleliu. Max had been a good boy.

  Harold took a sip of his coffee and looked at the kitchen floor, smiling. No one would ever be able to tell that some prick had bled over there.
The carpet in the den had been a little more difficult to take care of, but he did it. And yes, he was supposed to be at his nephew’s house, but who wanted an old son of a bitch around?

  Besides, Harold liked to be home.

  Always had.

  The doorbell chimed.

  Harold put his coffee down, picked his .45 up and put it on his lap, hidden beneath the table, a round chambered.

  “Come in!” he called.

  He heard the screen door squeak and then the doorknob to the side door turned and opened. A young, attractive woman stepped in.

  She smiled nervously at him. “Mr. Philips?”

  “Yes,” Harold smiled, keeping his pistol ready.

  “I’m Julie Markarian,” she said.

  His smile fell away. “Come in and close the door, Miss,” he said, putting the pistol up on the table as she turned and closed the door.

  When she looked back, her eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the weapon.

  Evidently her brother hadn’t told her about the attack.

  “Do you want coffee?” he asked, rising to his feet.

  “No, thank you,” she said.

  “Please, sit,” he said, gesturing to the only other chair at the table.

  “Thank you,” she said, and once she did so, Harold sat down as well.

  “What’s wrong?” he asked.

  “My brother and Mason are gone.”

  “Do you know where?” Harold asked.

  “I’m not sure, but I think they went to Meeting House Road,” she said. “I think they went to the Boylan House.”

  “Did you check?”

  She shook her head.

  “Good,” Harold said. “You and I can go together.”


  Harold nodded. “Yes. We need to know if they’re at that house. I can’t drive, and you can’t go by yourself. It’s perfect,” he smiled.

  After a moment, she smiled, too. “Yes, I believe you’re right.”

  Harold picked up his coffee and finished it before easing himself to his feet. He walked over to the peg rack by the side door and took his gun-belt down and buckled it around his waist. He pulled a flannel jacket on and wandered back to the table. Julie watched him flip the safety on and then slide the automatic into the holster.

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