Ghost stories from hell, p.23

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 23


Ghost Stories from Hell

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  It held too much incriminating evidence. There were several police departments that wouldn’t be too happy to know how much he knew, and not only about daily operations and such, but interpersonal issues as well.

  Oh no, he needed to get that laptop.

  Grumbling to himself, Gerald got up off of the couch and wandered into the bathroom where he relieved himself. He washed his hands, went into his small bedroom, and got dressed in his usual fare—sweats and sneakers. Grabbing his keys, he headed towards the side door.

  When he stepped outside, he felt the cool air and smiled. Gerald, being as big as he was, had a distinct dislike for heat. Autumn in New Hampshire was a blessing, and being able to sleep with the windows open until February was fantastic.

  Gerald paused.

  The street was abnormally silent.

  He looked around and saw that there were a few people out, walking in a sort of daze as if they weren’t quite there. They looked like extras in a mass casualty exercise for some tyrannical police force like the LAPD or the NYPD.

  Funny, Gerald thought. I don’t remember hearing anything about a mass casualty exercise. Shrugging he went to the car. He unlocked the passenger door and bent over to pick up his laptop, which he had hidden under a large, stained white towel. Straightening up, he winced at the pain in his back, tucked the laptop between his large arm and larger breast, and closed the door.

  Turning around, he found himself confronted by one of the mass casualty actors.

  The man looked spectacular. The torn flesh hanging from the man’s face looked so realistic that Gerald had to turn away. The man stared at Gerald with dull eyes that set Gerald’s teeth on edge. Something was wrong.

  Gerald eased his way around the man, and the man turned to watch Gerald hurriedly walk to the side door, but there were more mass casualty actors between him and the door.

  In his path stood trio of teenagers, one of whom had a terrible injury, the lower portion of his right arm having been cut off at the elbow.

  All of it looked too real.

  “Excuse me,” Gerald said, “but I need to get inside of my home.”

  The three looked at him.

  Movement caught his eye, and he turned his head slightly, just enough to see more of the mass casualties appearing on the road, coming out of open doors in his small suburban neighborhood. Gerald looked back to the teenagers and licked his lips nervously. He took a step back and screamed as he bumped into something. Turning around he realized that it was the first man that he’d seen.

  The man was staring at him.

  What is going on here? Gerald thought, twisting around. He took a few steps away, and all four of the mass casualty actors took a step towards him.

  Am I in a movie and no one told me? Seriously, he thought backing towards his car. What is going here?

  He turned once more to go to his car and found more of the actors around the car. They were all silent. None of them speaking. All of them staring. Each movement they made was rough as if they were marionettes controlled by a poorly trained puppeteer.

  “They’re interesting to watch, aren’t they?” a voice asked from off to the side.

  Gerald looked over and saw a small creature sitting on a tree branch. It looked like a miniature woman, her face pulled backward to form an elongated skull. Her eyes were wide and dark blue, the entirety of the orb colored and pulling his gaze back to them. Her hair was short and spiked, a dark brown that was nearly black. She was incredibly thin, almost sickly so, and she smiled a wicked smile at Gerald, her blazing white teeth flashing at him.

  “What?” Gerald asked.

  “The draugr,” she said. “The walking dead. For that’s what they are. Dead and walking. Walking and dead.” She smiled.

  “Zombies?” Gerald asked, twisting around. Seriously, he thought, am I high? Is there a gas leak somewhere?

  She looked at him, confused. “I don’t know the word, but they’re more troublesome than anything else. Although they have been known to frighten people to death.”

  Gerald stood against his car as the draugr pressed closer to him.

  “Yes,” she chuckled, “they can be so frightening.”

  Gerald fumbled for the door handle on the car but couldn’t find it, at least not before the walking dead were on him, arms reaching out and cold, freezing dead hands grasping him. The cold bit through his clothes and his heart started pounding erratically in his chest.

  His breath came in great, terrible racks, his whole frame shaking as he squeezed his eyes closed.

  Gerald’s heart stopped as a hand reached out and cupped his chin.

  Chapter 27: Jim and Fred and Walking Back

  Jim checked the laces on his boots one more time and straightened up.

  Fred was at the door, waiting quietly.

  Both of the men had enjoyed another cup of coffee. They left the fire burning.

  “Ready?” Fred asked.

  “Ready,” Jim answered, holding the key in his left hand and the Colt in his right.

  Fred nodded and opened the door.

  They stepped out into afternoon light, and Jim quickly closed and locked the door. He put the key in his pocket and moved up to stand beside Fred.

  “I’ll lead,” Fred said. The older man started walking along the thin trail that led back the way from which they had come. The forest was silent, disturbingly so, and there was the distinct feeling that they were being watched, which, Jim realized, they probably were.

  Fred set a steady pace that moved them along as the autumn sun rose and reached its zenith before they found the place from where they had started the day before. Neither Ambrose nor Hollis Blood were there. Fred continued on though, not stopping, and that was fine with Jim.

  The air stank of smoke and fire. Faintly, Jim could hear the sound of trees crashing down. Soon, the Blood house appeared in the confines of the forest in front of them. There was no sign of anyone either living or dead around the home. Jim could only imagine what was going on in what remained of Thorne.

  When they reached the house, Fred said, “Let’s stop for a bit, Jim.”

  Jim nodded and went to the porch, climbing the stairs tiredly. His stomach grumbled loudly, and Fred chuckled.

  “Mine, too,” Fred said, trying the doorknob. It turned easily, and Jim followed the man into the quiet house. There was no ambient electrical noise. The power had been lost, and more than likely, that had been recent.

  They walked to the kitchen and prowled around for a few minutes, digging out dry goods and getting water from the tap. Evidently, the well ran on its own source of power—something Jim was exceptionally happy about.

  With several boxes of crackers, a pair of knives, some peanut butter and a few glasses of water, the two men sat down at the table. Fred leaned his rifle against the table, and Jim put the Colt on it, the barrel pointed at the sink instead of himself or Fred. Silently they started eating, doing so quickly.

  Thorne was waiting for them and whatever survivors were still around.

  “Where do you think we should look?” Jim asked after taking a long drink of water.

  “Town Hall,” Fred said simply. “That’ll be the most likely place. They may not be able to fight back, but the place is stocked and ready for a hard winter. People would figure that it would be the best place to hole up—wait for the cavalry to arrive.”

  Jim chuckled.

  “What?” Fred asked.

  “Cavalry,” Jim said, shaking his head. “Maybe we should find a couple of donkeys to ride in on.”

  Fred chuckled as well. “Yes, that would be appropriate for Thorne, wouldn’t it?”

  The front door to the house opened, and both men grabbed their weapons.

  Ghosts didn’t need to open doors.

  Fred dropped to one knee and brought his rifle up to his shoulder.

  Jim stood behind the man, the Colt up and pointed, held firmly in both hands.

  A shape came stumbling towards them.

nbsp; A young woman came into view, a baby swaddled and held to her breast with one arm. She was bloodied and pale. Her red hair was torn in some places, having been ripped from her head. In her free hand, she held a large meat cleaver, the kitchen tool stained dark with blood.

  When her tired eyes focused on Jim and Fred, she came to a stop and brought the cleaver up, angling her body so that the child was protected.

  “We’re not faeries,” Jim said gently, holstering his Colt. Fred stood up, pointing his rifle at the ceiling.

  “Neither am I,” she said in a raspy voice. Her eyes flicked around the kitchen and stopped on the food at the table.

  “Come on,” Jim said.

  “Yes, there’s plenty here,” Fred added.

  The woman came forward, then staggered to the table. Jim and Fred each caught one of her arms and helped her to sit down. The baby against her breast was sleeping peacefully, although the child’s red hair was splattered with dark drops of blood. The woman let the meat cleaver fall to the floor and Fred sat down across from her, putting peanut butter on crackers for her as Jim filled a glass of water and put it down in front of her.

  “Thank you,” she whispered, taking a drink of water. “Thank you.”

  The baby grumbled but didn’t wake up.

  The woman continued to eat. She finished dozens of crackers and possibly half of the jar of peanut butter before she stopped.

  Jim handed her a cloth napkin from on the counter, and she smiled at him, wiping her mouth. “Thank you both so much,” she said after a minute. She looked down at her baby and kissed the top of the child’s head.

  “You’re welcome,” Jim said.

  “I didn’t think that anyone else was still around,” she said. “Everywhere I went, there were dead people, houses burning, and damned faeries everywhere I looked.”

  Jim looked over at Fred.

  “You know that they’re faeries?” Fred asked.

  She nodded angrily. “My mother was fresh off the boat from Ireland. I cut my teeth on the old faery tales. None of this garbage passed off on kids today. No, I knew what was going on as soon as I saw the faeries. I just didn’t think that we would have any here, especially not in Thorne. The town’s not exactly a Mecca for Irish Americans.”

  “True,” Fred chuckled, “very true.”

  “Did that work for you?” Jim asked, nodding towards the cleaver on the table.

  “Yes,” she said grimly. “I was surprised. It’s not an old iron weapon.”

  “Where did you get it?” Fred asked.

  “It was in the house when we bought it,” she answered. “My husband and I bought this old farmhouse up on Washington Road. When we were cleaning out the kitchen, I found this in the back of the pantry. I thought it would be an interesting thing to hang over the counter. It was the first thing that came to hand when a goblin came in.”

  “Is your husband alive?” Jim asked gently.

  The woman nodded. “He’s on a business trip to New York City this week. It’s just Gwen and myself.”

  “I’m Jim,” Jim said, extending his hand. As she shook it, he added, “State Trooper, New Hampshire State Police.”

  “Rose Mary,” she said, letting go of Jim’s hand and reaching over to shake Fred’s.

  “Fred O’Dierno,” Fred said, “plain old retiree.”

  “How did you find this place?” Jim asked.

  “A little boy,” Rose Mary said. “He was down on the construction site, and he told me that there was a house up the road a bit. He told me that I’d be able to find food here and that I’d be safe.

  “What about you?” she asked. “How do you two know about it?”

  “That,” Fred said, “is a fairly long story.”

  Chapter 28: Thorne Town Hall, 11:00 AM

  Philip Delyani stood at a second story window in the town administrator’s small office. From his vantage point, he could look down on the scene below and nothing he saw made him feel any better about life—or rekindle his personal faith in God, for that matter.

  Sighing, he pulled his deer rifle in closer to his shoulder, lined up his shot, and carefully squeezed off a round.

  The sound of the weapon in the confines of the room was loud and painful, even through the shooter’s ear protection that he snuggly wore.

  “Shit,” he said simply. He lowered his weapon, ejected the spent brass and put a fresh cartridge in before slipping on the safety and taking off his ear protection.

  “Anything?” Chris asked.

  “Nope,” Philip said. “Same as usual. Beautiful head shot and the thing falls to the ground, gets up, shakes its ass at me and keeps on dancing.” He put his rifle down on the desk and picked up the board that had been over that part of the window before and replaced it. Philip held it in place as Chris stepped up with a cordless drill and secured the board once more to the window’s casing.

  With Chris carrying the drill and Philip carrying his rifle, the two men started back towards the basement, where the few survivors were staying as safe as they could from the bizarre storm raging just beyond the walls of the town hall.

  Philip waved to the two men standing guard at the front door. Each had a wooden baseball bat, which was proving only slightly more effective than Philip’s rifle. The two men waved back, and Philip led Chris into the basement. Nearly fifty people huddled in the basement. Someone had gone into the storage closets and broken out the blankets and the Red Cross emergency cots as well as some of the tastier freeze-dried foods.

  Although, Philip couldn’t tell if that was an oxymoronic statement or not.

  Reverend Schwerdt of the local Lutheran Church had brought a hand cranked radio. The Reverend, along with several others, was listening to the broadcast intensely.

  “And now our update regarding the problem in Thorne, New Hampshire. Authorities are stating that a microburst seemed to have touched down at some point in the night and damaged power lines, causing delays in getting to the sites of multiple fires. There is no word as to when this situation might be resolved.”

  “Microburst my ass,” Chris grumbled.

  “I know,” Philip said. “Keep it low, though.”

  Chris simply nodded and walked with Philip into the large kitchen. The heat and hot water of the kitchen were simple. They were attached to the main circuit panel and that, in turn, was connected to the generator outside of the town hall, kept safe in its own covering.

  How long that might continue to last though, well, John really had no idea.

  Some blessed saint had started a large, twelve-cup coffee maker.

  “Do you want a cup?” Philip asked.

  “No thanks,” Chris said, shaking his head. “I’m all set right now.”

  Philip nodded, took down a paper cup, and poured himself some coffee.

  Always appreciate the little things, he reminded himself.

  He leaned against the countertop, enjoyed the coffee, and closed his eyes, listening to nothing whatsoever.

  “Philip!” someone yelled.

  Never lasts, Philip thought.

  “What is it?” Chris called back.

  “We’ve got someone trying to make it to us.”

  “Wave’em off,” Philip yelled, straightening up and walking towards the doorway. “They’ll never make it.”

  “We’ve tried,” Jeff Parker said, coming down the stairs. “We’ve tried. I even threw a couple of bottles at him.”

  “Where’s he coming from?” Philip asked, heading back up the stairs towards the front door.

  “South end,” Jeff said.

  By peering through a slit between two boards, Philip could see down the road. A stumbling man was weaving between the faery folk. Many of the faery folk laughed at the man, and he could see why.

  The stumbling man was naked and nearly dead. It wouldn’t matter if the man reached them or not. He was a dead man walking, but he didn’t know that.

  Even as Philip watched, a faery tripped the man and he went sprawling, gett
ing back to his feet a moment later. Fresh cuts and scrapes on both knees and hands bled freely, but the man paid them no heed.

  “Free the door, please, Chris,” Philip said softly. Chris moved forward, undid the screws connecting the board binding the door to the frame. “Jeff, door, please. About an inch should be fine.”

  Jeff stepped forward, pushing the door open just the slightest bit.

  Getting down into a kneeling position Philip brought his rifle up and switched the safety off. He watched the man for a moment, watched the way he stumbled and could almost hear the man’s labored breathing from where he knelt in the town hall. Philip took long, slow breaths, and started to take up second pressure on the trigger.

  A moment later, the rifle shot cracked out into the air, and the naked man collapsed, his brains blown out in the morning sky.

  Philip ejected the casing, put in a fresh round, and straightened up.

  “Chris,” he said.

  “Yes?” Chris asked.

  “Please secure the door.”

  With the sound of the drill in the background Philip returned to the kitchen to drink his coffee.

  Chapter 29: Hearing the Hounds, 11:00 AM, the Blood Lands

  Evan brought up the rear of his group of friends as they walked their way out of the Blood lands and back towards town. Ever since the town had grabbed a good deal of the property, people had been going in to hunt, and Evan had been one of them. It’d been a while since he’d shot at anything other than people.

  Getting fresh venison would be fantastic.

  “Would” was the key word, though.

  They’d seen nothing and they had been out there since four in the morning, set up on a well-trod game trail. They had seen absolutely nothing. The line stopped, and Paul looked back, a confused expression on his face. He tilted his head slightly, trying to listen better.

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