Ghost Stories from Hell, page 18
Chapter 11: Jim Petrov and Morgan Blood
Jim started his shift hearing about the death of Mike Pinkham, the foreman at the Blood Road job site, and the death of a security guard that had been hired.
The detectives were tight-lipped about it, and the local news agencies were crawling around asking everyone if they had seen or heard anything. The reporters didn’t understand that when you lived off the beaten path you usually didn’t see or hear anything unless it was at your door. There was also word that there may have been a murder-suicide as well, but that scene was sealed up tightly.
No one was gaining access to that road, though, although there was plenty of speculation that the dead were Alderman Dean Williams and his wife, Lydia.
By the end of his shift Jim had learned that most of the information out there on the State Police grapevine was true. There were two dead at the worksite, and it looked like Dean Williams had shot his wife and then himself although no one knew why.
After Jim got home, changed out of his uniform and put on his .38 revolver in its shoulder holster, Jim climbed into his truck and headed off the long way to Blood Road. He wanted to avoid the reporters and crime scene techs that were sure to be swarming over the worksite.
The drive took fifteen minutes longer than usual, but Jim avoided the mess on the far side of the driveway and turned right into the driveway. His lights cut a bright path up to the house, and within a moment he had the lights off and had turned off the truck. He hooked the keys to a belt loop and hurried up the stairs to knock on the front door.
The door opened a heartbeat later.
It was the small boy, Morgan Blood. Anger filled the boy’s face.
“Jim,” Morgan said. “My brother’s dead.”
“How?” Jim asked.
“Age. He was old.” Morgan looked past Jim towards the lights. “He could have stopped this, had they listened to him. He wanted to stop this. He was the best of us.”
Jim felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up and his balls shrivel into his stomach. Slowly he turned around and looked down at his truck. Dozens of people stood around it.
And they were silent.
Most of them were old. A few were middle-aged with several children mixed in amongst them as well. They wore clothes that ranged from those that Jim remembered seeing in paintings of the first colonists to the suits and dresses of the last century.
All of them were Bloods, of that Jim was certain. Thus all of them were dead.
“My kith and my kin,” Morgan said grimly.
Jim shook his head, confused as he turned back to face the small boy. “What’s going on? Why is everyone being killed?”
“They broke the contract,” Morgan said sternly. “Hollis warned them not to.”
“How many have to die because of the contract?” Jim asked.
“Whoever doesn’t leave is going to die, Jim,” Morgan said. “If not by our hands, then by another’s.”
“There’s a darkness in our forest, Jim,” Morgan said, “and we’ve kept the town safe from it for centuries. All of the old families knew of it. Whoever stays in Thorne, well, they’re going to know about it too.”
The porch trembled beneath Jim’s feet. He looked around to see the trees shaking, although there was no wind to speak of. Then the porch trembled again as a large crack ripped through the night air.
“Oh yes,” Morgan said softly, looking out into the forest. “They’ll know about the darkness soon enough.”
Chapter 12: Jim Petrov, Alone with the Dead
Jim sat inside of the Blood house.
Specifically he sat in the kitchen, at an old dining set that served as the kitchen table. It had evidently been where Hollis had taken his meals.
It had most certainly been where Hollis had taken his last meal, for the dead man sat in his chair, an empty plate before him. The fork and the knife were neatly placed at an angle upon the plate and the water glass beside it was half empty. The old man’s churchwarden pipe was unlit and on its side. Fresh tobacco spilled across the scarred top of the table.
A book lay closed on the table. The golden title on the green cloth of the cover read: “Gaius Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.” Jim had already opened the book and seen that the writing inside was done in Latin. The book, Jim saw, was well read.
Hollis sat almost perfectly upright in his chair. His expression was slack, his eyes open and seeing nothing. There was no smile on his lips, no hint of pleasure.
Death came in, collected Hollis, and left as quietly as it had come.
Jim reached out, picked up Hollis’s water glass and drank the rest of it down.
“Thataboy!” Morgan said gleefully.
Jim put the glass down and looked at the ghost.
“What am I doing?” Jim asked out loud, shaking his head. “I need to call this in.”
“There’s no time for that now, Jim,” Morgan said in a low voice.
Jim looked up at him. “What do you mean there’s no time for that now? What the hell am I supposed to do?”
“You have to bury Hollis,” Morgan said.
Jim shook his head. “I can’t do that, Morgan. I need to call it in and get this ball rolling. There’s a lot of shit—”
“Jim,” Morgan said gently.
Jim looked uneasily at the ghost. “Yes?”
“Did you feel the tremors earlier?”
“I did,” Jim said hesitantly.
“And the cracking trees?”
“Well,” Morgan said, looking out into the darkness, “I can tell you that if they get closer to us you’re definitely going to wish that you were a Blood.”
“What made that sound?” Jim asked.
Morgan shook his head. “Simply pray that you never meet them, Jim. Now please, if we’re going to carry out our task with any success, we need to get Hollis down to the graveyard.”
“You want me to help you bury him?” Jim asked, unable to keep the surprise out of his voice.
“Yes,” Morgan nodded. “That is exactly what I want. Once Hollis is buried he will be able to return to us, to help us with the makers of the noise that you heard.”
“What are they?” Jim asked.
“It is truly better not to ask,” Morgan said. “Speaking their names only perks up their ears and brings them closer to you than you truly want them to be.”
Jim rubbed his temples, sitting back in the chair. “I don’t know. I don’t. Christ, I’m sitting with a dead man talking to a ghost. I have to go back to work tomorrow.” He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“No,” Morgan said softly, “you can’t go back to work tomorrow. We’ve too much to do.”
“Why?” Jim asked.
Morgan opened his mouth to answer, but the answer came from someone who entered the kitchen.
“Tomorrow will be a terrible day,” said the man. He stood tall in the doorway, wearing an elegant three-piece black suit. His hair was trimmed short with just a small forelock hanging over his forehead.
“May I ask who you are?” Jim asked.
“Of course,” the man said, coming in and sitting down opposite Morgan. “I am Morgan’s grandfather, Ambrose Blood. You will, I trust, forgive my grandson for not knowing exactly what to say.”
Jim could only nod.
Ambrose seemed to understand. “I will tell you what I know, and while it is much more than most of my family, it is still less than what is truly out there. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Jim said.
“Excellent,” Ambrose said. He looked at Morgan, “Could you start some coffee, please, Morgan?”
“Yes, Grandfather,” Morgan said. The boy stood up, walked to the percolator, and went about getting the coffee ready.
“You drink coffee?” Jim asked.
Ambrose smiled at him. “No, Jim, this coffee is for you.”
They sat in total silence until the coffee was ready, and Jim could only look at Hollis Blood. All three of the Blood family members were dead, but at least two were actually buried down the driveway in the family graveyard.
Those two wanted Jim to put the third in the ground himself.
I’m a cop, Jim thought. What the hell am I doing?
A few minutes later, Morgan put a ceramic cup of fresh black coffee in front of Jim.
“Thank you,” Jim said, reaching out and picking up the cup. “I really don’t know what I’m doing here.”
“You’re listening,” Ambrose said, polite but firm, “simply listening.”
“Okay,” Jim said, looking at Ambrose, “okay.”
Ambrose nodded. “When the family arrived in the colonies, they did so with indentured servants. These were men and women who had bound themselves to the families that could pay for their transport and passage to the New World. Some of these servants were English. Others were from Wales or Scotch. Several, however, were Irish, and these Irish brought some of the Old World with them.
“When the Blood family came to what would eventually be Thorne village, they had a pair of Irish maids. The Coffins came as well, as did the Copps. It wasn’t long before the two families had the Halls, the Lees, and the Arnolds as neighbors. One of the Blood maids fell passionately in love with one of the Lee sons, yet even though Hawthorne Blood released the maid from her contract of indenture, the Lee father would not give his son permission to marry.
“The young man, I am afraid,” Ambrose said as Jim drank his coffee, “had a flair for the dramatic. He threatened to kill himself if his father did not grant him permission to marry the girl, and the tale is told that he had a loaded pistol up to the side of his head. The father refused, and as the boy began to lower the pistol, it accidentally fired.
“The boy was killed.”
Jim finished his coffee, the caffeine slowly working its way through him. With disturbing silence Morgan took the cup, filled it, and brought it back. Jim nodded his thanks. “What happened to the girl?” Jim asked.
Ambrose gave a small, sad smile. “Unfortunately, she was not nearly as dramatic as the boy. With her freedom, she chose to leave the Blood house and the protection of the small neighbors. She moved deep into the center of the Blood lands, and there she built a small home. Nothing more than a single room house of field stones, but it stands still, close to the Goblins’ Keep.
“It was there that she took out what she had brought from Ireland and opened the small lead-lined box she’d carried across the seas from the Old World to the New.”
“What happened when she opened the box?” Jim asked. His confusion at what was going on was superseded by his fascination with the story. He didn’t even mind the presence of the three dead men.
He just wanted to know the ending of the story.
“Ah,” Ambrose said, sighing, “that was truly a calamitous day. When she opened that box, she briefly opened a door between the worlds. A door between our world and that of the fae in Ireland. Soon, there were a number of creatures in New Hampshire that should not have been. There were ogres, trolls, giants, goblins, faery folk of all kinds, banshees and watermen, too many, and by the time the box burst from serving as a doorway, the Old World was with the new.”
Jim looked at Ambrose. “What are you saying?” he asked after a moment. “Are you seriously telling me that there are faeries and all of that? You’re saying they’re real and that they’re here? How can that be?”
“Mr. Petrov,” Ambrose said gently, “to whom are you speaking?”
Jim opened his mouth and then closed it. He looked at Ambrose, at Morgan standing by the corpse of Hollis Blood, and Jim nodded. “You’re right. Either this is all real, or I have slipped the sultry bonds of sanity.”
“There is more, though,” Ambrose said.
“Of course there is,” Jim agreed. “There has to be a reason for the contract. A reason why the Blood lands were protected and cordoned off.”
Ambrose nodded. “Exactly. The release of the faery folk did not go unnoticed. In fact, it was the remaining Blood maid who saw the first faery ring and suspected what it was that her countrywoman had done. It is fortunate that Hawthorne was not only a literate man but a rational one as well. When the maid informed him of the ring and pointed out other signs, he could only accept it as fact.
“He released that woman from her bond as well, yet she stayed in the service of the Bloods and helped them to form the barrier that would stretch around the entire perimeter of the Blood lands. So long as those lands remained whole, and so long as at least one direct descendant of the families who signed the contract lived, the village of Thorne would be safe from the dangers of the faery folk.”
“But they broke the contract,” Jim said softly, looking down into the cold coffee. “Why are you killing them?”
“To scare them,” Ambrose said simply. “We’re trying to scare the others into leaving.”
Jim thought about that for a moment. He wanted to argue that they could simply haunt the residents, but that wouldn’t work. Some would leave. Others would simply call in priests or paranormal investigators.
Whatever was deep in the Blood forest would have time to reach them.
“When will the faery folk start slipping out?” Jim asked.
“Soon,” Ambrose answered. “They know that there’s a breach, down here by the house. They’ll be nervous, but they’ve also been forced to stay in one place for far longer than they would have liked.”
“What can be done?” Jim asked.
“An excellent question,” Ambrose said. “I doubt there is much that can be done. A certain amount of vengeance is being taken upon those who broke the contract, although I am afraid that there shall be innocents who suffer as well. We can only hope that through terror we can drive the living out of Thorne. A few dead would thus be acceptable.
“If we don’t drive them out, Mr. Petrov,” Ambrose said, “then they risk slavery, torture, and death at the hands of the faery folk.”
Jim looked down at his coffee once more and then he sighed tiredly. Looking back up to Ambrose he said simply, “Well, shit.”
Ambrose nodded, and Jim took a drink of the coffee, wondering what the hell could be done.
After a short time, Ambrose stood up and said, “Please, follow me.”
Jim did so, and Morgan followed him in return. They left Hollis’s corpse alone in the kitchen.
Ambrose led the way down the long hallway to a closed door on the right. He reached out and touched the doorknob. A lock clicked, and the door swung inward silently. The lights came on, and Ambrose stepped into the room. Old books and gathered papers filled most of the shelves of the thin bookcases that lined the walls. On several shelves, however, were weapons.
One was a sword, still in its scabbard, looking ancient. Beside it was a long barreled Colt revolver—one that you’d see in an old spaghetti western. The holster and belt for it were wrapped up and lay under it. A wicked looking knife, with a long blade and brass knuckles with spikes for a hand guard, lay on another shelf.
“This room,” Ambrose said, looking around, “holds all of the history of those that protected the town of Thorne from the faery folk. These are the records of those who fought, what or who they fought, and those who died while fighting. Those weapons are the few that the families have found to work on the faeries and their ilk. Others exist, of course, but they were with the families.
“Most of the families, though, they themselves have ceased to exist.”
Jim walked into the room and looked around. Most of the shelves were covered with a fine layer of dust, yet one near the door was not. Upon that shelf was a black and white composition book.
“Even until recently,” Ambrose said, “Hollis was keeping the faeries at bay. He recorded his experiences there.”
“Do I need to read those?” Jim ask
“No, Trooper Petrov,” Ambrose said, “you need to arm yourself with those weapons.”
Jim looked at the three weapons and the holster with its belt. He realized that the belt was designed to allow the scabbard of the sword and the knife to attach. There was no ammunition in the loops of the belt and none in the pistol.
“There’s no ammunition,” Jim said, glancing at the shelves.
“It isn’t necessary,” Morgan said from behind him.
Frowning, Jim looked at Ambrose, and Ambrose nodded.
“Morgan is correct,” Ambrose said. “It never needs to be loaded when the faery folk are in its sights.”
Jim was about to question that statement when he once again remembered he was speaking to the dead.
Wordlessly, he strapped on the belt, tied the holster down to his leg as he’d seen in so many westerns, and attached the sword to the left and the knife to the right. He picked up the pistol, which was heavy and felt beautiful in his hand, and slid it into the holster.
“Where did they come from?” Jim asked.
“The sword came from Hawthorne Blood himself,” Ambrose said. “The pistol was used by a Copp throughout the entirety of the Civil War, and the knife,” the man said, “my son used it in France during the Great War. As I said, there are other weapons, but they are lost to us, scattered amongst relatives on the wrong side of the family trees.”
With everything in place, the belt was heavy, and Jim realized that he liked the weight.
“Good,” Ambrose said. “Come now, we have the grave ready for our Hollis, but we need you to carry him down. Then we can hunt down any faery folk who seek to slip through the gap this evening.”
“Fair enough,” Jim said, loosening the pistol in its holster, “let’s get Hollis home.”
Chapter 13: Cold and Calm upon the Gauthiers
Ben Gauthier sat alone in the den watching the Raiders getting their asses kicked again. Angrily, Ben finished his Budweiser and put the empty can on the coffee table.
“Susie!” he yelled.
A moment later, his wife came into the room, popping the tab on the fresh can as she handed it to him.