Ghost stories from hell, p.19

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 19

 

Ghost Stories from Hell
 



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  “Thanks, Hon” he said.

  “You’re already through a six pack, Ben,” she said, wiping her hands on a dish towel she had thrown over her shoulder. “We’ve still got to pick up Mary from the airport at midnight.”

  “I’ll be fine,” he said, taking a pull from the can. “It’s only Bud.”

  “Don’t be stupid, Ben,” she said, “whether it’s Bud or Natty, if you’re over the limit you’re screwed.”

  “I’ll be fine,” he said again and swore as the Bengals ran another touchdown straight up the middle.

  Susie shook her head and walked out of the room.

  The phone rang as a commercial started, so Ben picked up the phone out of the cradle and looked at the caller id.

  “Hey Ryan,” he said as he answered the call.

  “Hi Dad,” Ryan replied. “Can I stay over at Bobby’s tonight?”

  “It’s Thursday,” Ben said. “You guys have school tomorrow.”

  “I’ll get to school,” Ryan said.

  “What does he want?” Susie called from the kitchen.

  “To sleep over at Bobby’s,” Ben answered.

  “Bullshit.”

  “Your mom says no, kid,” Ben told Ryan.

  Ryan groaned. “Come on, we’re playing the new Call of Duty.”

  “You can go over tomorrow after football and play it, but I want you home by ten,” Ben said. “Your mom and I have to pick up Mary and I can’t worry about you jackassing around after ten. Too much weird shit is going on lately.”

  “Fine,” Ryan grumbled. “I’ll be home at ten.”

  “Bye, kid.”

  “Bye, Dad.”

  Ben ended the call and managed to catch sight of the Bengals intercepting a pass. “Oh what the hell,” Ben spat.

  The doorbell rang.

  Ben looked at the clock.

  It was nine.

  Susie walked into the den as the doorbell rang again.

  “Who the hell could that be?” she asked.

  “I don’t know,” Ben answered. He stood up, still holding his beer, and walked to the front door. He flipped on the exterior light switch and said through the door: “Hello?”

  “Hello” came a young voice, “do you happen to have a phone I could borrow for a moment? My car’s broken down a little ways up the road, and your house was the closest one.”

  Ben glanced over at Susie, who shook her head.

  “No,” Ben said, “but why don’t you go wait with your car and I’ll call the police for you.”

  “Oh thank you,” the voice said, sounding relieved. “I’m just up the street. It’s a black Ford.”

  “You’re welcome,” Ben replied, smiling. He looked back to Susie and saw that she was smiling too, and then he watched the smile disappear in order to be replaced by an expression of horror as she opened her mouth to scream.

  Ben turned around just in time to catch sight of a pale arm reaching through the door, seeming to grow out of it, before the fingers found and grabbed his sweatshirt.

  A brutal cold spread out across his chest, and he wondered for the briefest of moments if he was having a heart attack, but that thought was literally driven out of his head as the arm and hand jerked backward through the door, smashing his head against the wood. Again and again the owner of the arm did it. The beer fell from his hands, and Ben felt his legs loosen, his head rolling on his neck. Susie was still screaming. Ben felt Susie’s hands on his arms, then around his waist, trying to pull him free.

  Then Ben felt himself falling, blood spilling down the door and onto the tiles of the front hall.

  Suddenly, Susie was beside him, and all was quiet. He felt the beating of his heart, erratic and shuddering.

  He closed his eyes and felt something striking him. The blows were hard, and then they were weaker and weaker.

  Ben felt his heart slowing, air more difficult to breathe in. He managed to open his eyes once more, and he saw the back of Susie’s head in front of him. Dully he realized that just beyond the tangled, bloody mess of her blond hair, he could see the gray mass of her brain.

  They really are gray, Ben thought, and he closed his eyes once more.

  ***

  Judy pulled up in front of Ryan’s house.

  “Thanks, Mrs. Showalter,” Ryan said, opening the passenger door.

  “You’re welcome, Ryan. And we’ll see you tomorrow?” she asked.

  “Yeah,” he grinned. “We’ll beat the game tomorrow.”

  “I’m sure that you will,” she smiled.

  “Thanks again,” he waved and closed the door.

  Fourteen years old or not, Judy kept the car running at the curb and waited as Ryan walked up the driveway to the side door. She watched him open the screen and try the door.

  It was locked.

  She saw him knock and ring the bell.

  There was no movement inside the house although the shades were up and the lights on.

  Ryan knocked on the door again, and she could hear it through the windows. Judy rolled the windows down and turned off the car, leaving the lights on. Ryan took his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a number. Faintly she could hear the house phone ringing. A moment later the ringing stopped.

  Judy watched as Ryan dialed again, hung up after a moment, and then dialed a third time. Shaking his head he put his phone away, walked over to the side of the porch, grabbed a recycling bin, and brought it over to a side window. He climbed up, looked inside, and then stumbled back off of the recycling bin.

  Twisting and turning, he finally managed to get to his hands and knees and started crawling towards her car.

  Judy had been a parent long enough to know when something was really wrong.

  Before she realized what she was doing, Judy was out of the car and running to Ryan as he managed to get to his feet.

  “What’s wrong, Ryan?” she asked, looking into his horrified expression.

  “They’re dead,” he whispered, focusing on her. “They’re both dead.”

  Judy looked at the house.

  She’d never been exactly friendly with either Ben or Susie—a little too much football and beer for her, but she couldn’t leave someone injured if that was the case.

  “How do you know, Ryan?” she asked.

  “I saw my mom’s brains on the floor.”

  Before she could say anything, Judy heard a rustling sound and something large and brown came out of a forsythia near the front door. She glanced at it then focused on Ryan—

  Judy slowly turned her head to look back at the thing.

  It couldn’t have been taller than three feet, and it wore ragged leather clothing. It had ears that were sharp and tall, standing well past its bald head. A long, thin nose protruded from its face and it had large, black leather boots on its feet. In its left hand it held a wicked looking knife, the blade curved and winking in the light spilling out of the house’s windows.

  Perhaps the most disturbing thing was the pure black eyes set deep within the gray flesh of the thing’s face.

  A smile spread and revealed jagged yellow teeth.

  More rustling sounded, and more of the things appeared. They varied in shape and size, yet all wore the same clothes and boots and carried either knives or axes.

  In a moment, there were a dozen of them spreading out to encircle both Judy and Ryan, the latter of whose shock at losing his parents was quickly being dampened by the horror occurring.

  “The boy, woman,” one with an ax said, its voice surprisingly deep. “The boy, and you’ll meet your maker quickly. Deny us and I’ll take a century to kill you.”

  The air seemed to fill with the sound of her own breathing. She could smell them, a foul, stale smell that curled her nose and set her mind to racing.

  “Too slow,” one to the right chuckled, “let’s take them back to the Keep. It’s been far too long since we had one to play with.”

  The others laughed, and they moved in, laughing and chattering to one another even as Judy
wrapped her arms around Ryan and pulled him into her. She closed her eyes, and a large explosion shook her.

  Chapter 14: Jim, the Colt, and the Goblins

  The loud report of the pistol nearly shook Jim’s brains out of his head even as the invisible slug ripped through the jaw of one of the goblins in front of Ben Gauthier’s house.

  There was a ring of the things—which Jim could only assume were goblins because of the way they looked—around a woman and a teenager. The goblins had been closing in on the pair until Jim had killed one of them.

  Now the things were staring at him, nervous glances flickering from one to the other.

  “You’re not a Blood,” one of them said, his nostrils flaring. “Or a Coffin.”

  “Neither an Arnold nor a Lee,” said a second.

  ‘And definitely no Hall,” said a third.

  “Yet you bear some of their weapons,” the first said. “Yes, you do.”

  Morgan was suddenly beside him. “They’re crafty, and false, Jim,” the boy said. “Kill them all and don’t hesitate. They have every mind to force the boy to be a slave for eternity and to eat the woman.”

  Before Morgan finished the last word, Jim was firing.

  His aim was perfect, the weapon impeccable. Even as the goblins tried to flee, he cut them down. In a matter of moments, there were a dozen corpses littering the front yard of Ben Gauthier’s house.

  He’d known Ben since high school, and Jim had a suspicion that Ben and Susie were inside and much worse for the wear.

  Jim holstered the pistol and walked over to the teenager and the woman, both of whom were looking at him. He didn’t know who the woman was, but the boy was Ryan, the Gauthier’s’ son.

  “Ryan,” Jim said.

  The boy looked at him but didn’t recognize him.

  Jim didn’t push it.

  “What were those?” the woman asked, looking around at the bodies.

  “Goblins,” Jim answered. “Don’t ask anything else. Get in your car, get to your house, get your family, and get the hell out of Thorne. Do you understand?”

  The woman blinked several times, confused, but she still nodded.

  “Good,” Jim said. “Go.”

  He helped her get Ryan over to the car and into it. She hurried into the driver’s side and got the car started. In a heartbeat, she was laying a track of rubber down the street.

  “Why did you tell them?” Morgan asked, appearing again.

  “They need to know,” Jim said, watching the car disappear around a corner. “Even if they don’t believe it, they need to know.”

  Morgan tilted his head slightly and then he said, “There’s something coming, Jim. Something bigger.”

  Chapter 15: Fred O’Dierno and War

  Fred had fought in Vietnam. He had more time in that country than he cared to remember, and he’d not only killed men for his own country’s sake, but he’d trained men to kill in the name of Freedom.

  War had shaped Fred O’Dierno and the way that he looked at the world.

  When he heard a gunshot, he knew it for what it was.

  When he heard a dozen of them halfway down the street, he knew that something was wrong.

  Fred took his reading glasses off and put them down on the coffee table along with the copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that he was reading. He stood up, walked over to his gun cabinet and took out the M14 that was waiting amongst his other rifles.

  From the drawer of the bureau beside it, Fred took a handful of preloaded clips, slipped one into the rifle and the others into the pockets of his shirt.

  Walking to his front door, Fred turned off his lights and kept away from the windows. The door was made of heavy oak and thick enough to stop most rounds if need be. Fred found himself breathing smoothly, the rifle a warm comfort in his hands. The weapon had been a yard sale find shortly after he’d gotten back to Thorne from Vietnam. The rifle had been worth its weight in gold in Southeast Asia after the introduction of the M16—that sorry excuse for a rifle which seemed to jam every time Fred was in a firefight.

  Fred cleared his mind, though, pushing angry memories back and easing himself to a window where he could look out on the street beyond.

  As he did so, the floor shook beneath his feet, the trees swaying haphazardly.

  From behind the Gauthier’s house, a pair of elm trees came crashing down onto the roof, branches snapping and shingles flying into the night sky. Then it was there.

  It stood twenty feet tall, easily, and it was a rough copy of a man. The facial features were blunt, the red hair a tangled, unwashed mass. Thick red hair covered this giant’s chest, and a blue, frayed tarp served as a rough skirt around his waist. In the giant’s hands, he held a piece of metal that looked like it was ripped off of an excavator or earth mover of some kind.

  It was advancing on a man standing on the Gauthier’s driveway. The man wore a sword and a pistol and stood still, simply looking at the giant.

  Fred pushed the unreality of the situation out of his mind and opened the door, stepping out onto his front step and chambering a round.

  ***

  Jim stood frozen in place on the driveway. Fear and shock rolled over him in waves that sent adrenaline through him, yet he couldn’t move.

  The giant that had come out of the forest was huge and grinning down at Jim.

  “Fresh manmeat,” the giant chuckled. “Oh, sweetmeat, I’ve missed the likes of you these long years.”

  A rifle cracked out from somewhere nearby, and the giant howled in rage, a sound that both hurt Jim’s ears and shocked him into motion.

  Jim drew the pistol and backed up, firing as he went, both hands on the pistol as it barked and jumped in his hands. Blood exploded from wounds on the giant’s chest as he took a step towards Jim.

  “Damnable, man!” the giant howled, and Jim put another four rounds into the giant’s chest.

  The unknown rifleman continued to fire as well, and Jim watched as the shots from the rifle moved up from the chest to the head, and Jim understood.

  Dropping to a knee, Jim steadied himself and fired shot after shot into the giant’s head as the rifleman did the same.

  The giant’s screams of rage ceased as it let go of the metal, collapsed first to his knees, then fell to the left, smashing a blue minivan in the driveway, the windows exploding outwards and showering Jim with glass. Jim struggled to keep his footing as the world seemed to rattle and shake with the falling of the giant.

  Carefully, Jim stood up, holstering the pistol once more and brushing the glass off of himself and out of his hair.

  “Hello,” a voice said calmly.

  Jim turned around and looked at a man standing in the center of the street. The man looked to be in his late sixties. He wore a flannel shirt and jeans with a pair of sneakers. His white hair was cut short, and he carried a bolt action rifle with an ease that showed that he had a familiarity with weapons.

  “Hello,” Jim answered.

  “What the hell is going on?” the man asked, perfectly calm.

  “Well, that’s a long goddamned story,” Jim replied.

  The man nodded.

  “That’s Nathan Coffin’s rifle,” Morgan said, suddenly standing beside Jim.

  Both Jim and the stranger jumped.

  “Sweet Jesus Christ,” the stranger said, “where the hell did you come from?” The man squinted slightly, and then in a lower voice he said, “Oh. You’re dead.”

  Jim looked at Morgan and saw that the ghost-child was smiling.

  “Yes,” Morgan said. “How did you know?”

  “I’ve seen a lot of death,” the man said, “and I know the walking dead when I see them. Now, what did you say about my rifle?”

  “It belonged to Nathan Coffin,” Morgan said. “He survived the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, where he carried that rifle the entire time. He brought that rifle home,” Morgan said, “It’s full of his will to survive.”

  The man frowned.

  “No
t all weapons work,” Jim explained.

  “Ah,” the man said, nodding.

  “You seem to be handling this really well,” Jim said, looking at the man.

  “I’ll freak the hell out about it later on,” the man said calmly. “Right now I can’t. So I won’t.”

  Jim nodded. He walked to the man and extended his hand. “I’m Jim Petrov, a trooper with the State Police.”

  “Fred O’Dierno,” Fred said. “Retired history teacher, and a United States Marine.”

  “Well, Fred,” Jim said, “care to take a walk with me back to the Blood house?”

  “You’ll tell me what’s going on?” Fred asked.

  “I’m going to try,” Jim replied.

  “Okay,” Fred said, “let me grab some more ammunition and I’ll be ready to go.”

  “Sure,” Jim said, and he watched the man walk steadily to what was obviously his home.

  “He’s strong,” Morgan said. “We’ll need him.”

  Jim nodded his agreement.

  Chapter 16: Scott Ricard and the Dullahan

  “Brian,” Scott said into the phone, “I don’t care what’s going on out there. I’ve got my shotgun and there’s no way in hell that I’m going to leave the house or let anyone in.”

  “Scott,” his brother said angrily, “there’s something screwed up going on in Thorne tonight. You need to get your ass out.”

  “I’m fine here,” Scott said.

  “Then at least send the kids and Marie out. Send them down to Nashua to stay the night with her mom.”

  “They already left,” Scott said, pissed. “She got a call from Judy who said that the Gauthier’s’ were dead.”

  “Shit,” Brian snapped.

  “Exactly,” Scott said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not but Marie took the Jeep and my truck’s in the shop. I’m going to have to telecommute tomorrow, and I hate that.”

  “No, you dumbass,” Brian snarled. “Get the hell out of the house. Call a cab. Damn it, if I can get away I’ll shoot over and grab you, but we’ve got multiple fires along the edge of the Monson and Thorne border.”

 
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