Ghost stories from hell, p.24

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 24


Ghost Stories from Hell

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  Then, Evan heard it too.

  The sound of dogs barking. Yipping at one another.

  The sound continued to grow louder, and the men started looking at each other, frightened. Evan simply made sure that the safety was off his rifle and that a round was still chambered.

  I don’t care if it’s a poodle or a Great Dane, Evan thought, it’s going to die.

  A heartbeat later, the dogs were howling, bursting into their line of sight.

  The dogs were huge—monstrous creatures that Evan had never seen before. They were like pit-bulls the size of Great Danes.

  Evan brought the rifle up to his shoulder, squeezed off a shot and smiled as the beast he had hit stumbled, but his smile was erased as the beast got back to its feet and started to run with his siblings once more. Evan turned to tell his friends to run, but they had already done so.

  Miserable bastards, Evan thought. With that thought in his mind, he started running northwest, and he kept running, for the hounds seemed to be searching for them all. A short time later, he found a good place to hide and did so, pulling ferns down onto him and settling in just under a thick, rotted dead tree. It definitely wasn’t the best there, but it would certainly work for his needs. A few hours of silence and he’d be ready to go.

  For two hours, Evan kept silent, watching and listening.

  His breathing was slow and regular, his finger loose on the trigger. He had the area in front of him covered from his position, and he knew that he’d have to wait until later before he could move out and head towards town.

  So he waited.

  And he waited.

  Then he heard the noise of the dogs—a combination of barking and baying that set his teeth on edge and urged him to flee as quickly as he could. However, Evan steeled himself and kept his cool, concentrating on his breathing, watching and waiting.

  In three minutes, the dogs were there, fifty yards out. They were chasing Mitch.

  Mitch staggered and bounced off of a tree. His face was bloody, eyes wide and white in a mask of blood. Mitch bore an expression of pure fear.

  The dogs howled joyfully.

  They were going to eat Mitch alive.

  Evan started to squeeze the trigger—

  Mitch fell, and the dogs were upon him.

  Evan sighed, relaxed his finger. He watched the dogs devour Mitch, whose agonized screams lasted only a few minutes.

  And Evan waited.

  Chapter 30: Erin and Klaus at the Bus Stop

  Erin Harper had a delayed schedule at the Hollis Co-Operational High School, which meant that she could do her online studying for her advanced college classes in the morning. Unfortunately, her little Volkswagen bug had died over the summer, and they hadn’t been able to fix it, so now she had to take a bus to school.

  She waited at the end of her driveway, which was shared with her family and the Totenbuch family. The Totenbuch family had a son named Klaus, who also had a delayed schedule. He was a quiet, unassuming boy with round glasses and shaggy black hair. He looked like a tall, German version of Harry Potter, although without the magical ability—or any social skills.

  Klaus would say hello to her, and goodbye, but only if Erin initiated it. He always wore a white button down shirt, some sort of vest since the cold weather had started, and jeans with Dr. Martens. His backpack was large and seemed to pull at him. He also stank of pipe tobacco.

  Erin knew that he didn’t smoke—Klaus’s father never seemed to stop smoking, however—but evidently no one in the house noticed the smell.

  Other kids at school did, and Klaus had been christened with the unfortunate nickname of ‘The Stinky German,’ a name which did nothing for him, especially since he was a live action role-player too. No, the boy was a total reject on all levels of the social spectrum at the high school.

  The bus, though, was supposed to pick them up at 10:30 AM.

  The bus was late.

  Erin couldn’t call her mother because she worked in Nashua and left the house at five-thirty each morning. Since her parents were divorced, her father lived in Manchester and saw her on the weekends. That is, he did when he could be bothered to. Klaus’ parents had left for Germany for a week. Erin had learned that from her mother, who had been asked by Christiana, Klaus’s mother, to check up on him while they were away.

  Thankfully, Erin didn’t have to accompany her mother on the excursions over to Deutschland.

  “The bus isn’t coming,” Klaus said suddenly, breaking the silence.

  Erin took one of her ear buds out of her ear. “It doesn’t seem like it.”

  “Something’s wrong,” Klaus said.

  “How do you know?” she asked, trying to keep the dismissal out of her voice.

  Klaus pointed, and Erin looked.

  Towards the center of town, the air was filled with gray and black smoke.

  “We should go inside,” Klaus said. “This will not end for us well if we do not.”

  “Okay,” Erin said, nodding, “yeah. Let me call my mom.” She took her phone out of her back pocket and went to dial. There were no bars on the phone.

  That was ridiculous, Thorne had one of the best reception areas out there. Erin tried to dial, but she didn’t even get a dial tone on the phone. Frowning, she put the phone away.

  “It is as I thought,” Klaus nodded. “You are welcome to come to my home, Fraulein Harper.”

  She smiled, thinking, oh hell no. “No thanks,” Erin said aloud, “but thank you.”

  He gave her a short bow. “If you need me, please call. I believe that your mother has our telephone number.”

  Erin smiled again and turned away, putting the ear bud back in. Taylor Swift came in full volume, and Erin walked up the driveway, not focused on anything other than getting back inside. She could do more homework on her college classes, which was great, but she was going to miss out on her Latin and history classes, both of which were taught by Dr. Kendall, and which she actually enjoyed.

  Plus, she was going to have to try and call her mother from the landline and hope that it was working. She had little faith in the landline and couldn’t figure out why her mother always wanted one in the house. The cell phone was usually far more reliable than the landline, especially in the winter when the snow would knock the telephone and power lines down every couple of weeks.

  Erin turned up the walkway and then around the side of the house. She took her key out, unlocked the door, and went inside. She dumped her bag on the kitchen table and walked over to the old yellow rotary phone attached to the wall by the fridge. Why her mother kept the thing around, Erin would never understand. It was annoying to use and sounded terrible when it rang.

  She picked up the heavy receiver and held it to her ear.

  Nothing. No dial tone.

  Sighing, she hung up the phone and noticed suddenly that the fridge was quiet. She pulled the fridge door open and saw that it was dark inside.

  Fantastic, she sighed, quickly closing the door.

  No service, no landline, no power, she thought. This is going to be a great day at home, she thought sarcastically.

  Groaning, she walked back to her bag, dug out, The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck, which Dr. Kendall was having them read for history, and made her way into the den. The room was gently lit by the sun, and Erin settled in on the couch. The cat came in, meowed at her once, and then he wandered away.

  Erin shook her head and opened the book to the first page.

  Something banged heavily on the front door, scaring Erin into a sitting position.

  Maybe it’s Klaus, she thought.

  Something banged on the door again, and she could see the door shake in its frame.

  That’s not Klaus.

  Slowly, she got off of the couch and started walking out of the room, when the glass in the back door shattered. Erin screamed, and pleased laughter came out of the kitchen. The front door came crashing in, knocked free of its hinges. The steel door bounced off of the wall and slammed onto t
he floor.

  They came in, one from the front door’s gaping doorway, the other from the kitchen.

  They were tall and thin, faces vaguely human in shape, but their eyes looked like cats’ eyes. They wore loose robes with mottled colors of the forest, greens and browns that would have hidden them easily. Their hair was long and brown, twigs and leaves woven into them. The skin of these things looked like the bark of trees, and as they laughed, Erin saw that their mouths were barren of both teeth and tongues.

  Erin held back a scream and stepped back towards the wall. She kept her head—which she suddenly realized was one of Kipling’s key points in the poem ‘If’—and wondered if she had time to unlock the window that she was approaching. Before she could formulate an idea as to whether or not she could, a shape came hurtling into the house through the front doorway.

  It was Klaus.

  Klaus with a sword.

  A sword.

  It was an old sword, and Klaus used it like it was a part of him, as cheesy as it sounded. He was phenomenal with the weapon, and within seconds, Klaus had literally hacked the thing to pieces, a black ichor spraying out of the thing’s body, arms cut off and falling to floor before the thing itself did.

  Then he and the second thing fell upon each other, Klaus roaring, literally roaring at the thing in German.

  The thing stumbled back, howling in German and raising its arms up in defense, an action which only served to allow Klaus to cut off the left arm before driving the point of the sword home into the thing’s breast.

  Silently it died, and Klaus used his free hand to push it off.

  “KommenSie, Fraulein Harper,” Klaus said, looking at her and extending his hand. “We need to leave. Quickly. There are more coming. We must leave.”

  “What are they?” Erin asked, hurrying over to him and taking his hand.

  “Holzmenschen,” Klaus said, leading her to the front door. “Wood people. They have no love for us. We must find a place of safety.”

  “Town hall,” Erin said, “if we can make it there. There’s food. Water. Lots of supplies.”

  “Sehr gut, sehr gut,” Klaus said nodding. Still holding hands they raced down the walkway to the driveway.

  “Not the road,” Erin said, pulling him towards a slim path that stretched off to the right before the driveway intersected with the road. “We’ll keep to the woods. They’re probably setting the houses on fire.”

  Klaus nodded his agreement, letting go of her hand so she could lead the way.

  “Where did you find the sword?” she asked over her shoulder.

  “My father’s collection,” Klaus answered.

  “What does your father do?” Erin asked. She had known at one point but could no longer remember.

  “He is a professor of classics,” Klaus answered. “He collects them as well.”

  “What type of sword is it?”

  “A gladius,” Klaus replied.

  “Gladius? Isn’t that a Latin word?”

  “It is,” Klaus said. “And this is a Roman sword. One of those which helped to conquer the world.”

  “I can believe that,” Erin said. “I can certainly believe that.”

  She led them deeper into the woods.

  Chapter 31: At the Blood House

  “It’s getting close to the time,” Morgan said, and nearly scared Jim to death. “Sorry,” Morgan said.

  “That’s alright,” Jim said, trying to catch his breath. Fred came in from the kitchen with a trio of coffee mugs.

  “Hello Morgan,” Fred said.

  “Hello Fred,” Morgan said cheerfully, sitting down on the stairs that led up to the second floor.

  Fred handed Jim a cup of coffee, which he gratefully accepted. The older man then walked over to where Rose Mary sat, asleep in a wing-back chair with Gwen sleeping in her arms. The cleaver was on the coffee table in front of her. Fred set the mug down on a coaster in front of the woman before going to a second wing-back chair and sitting down in it. His rifle lay on the floor beside him.

  The smell of the coffee alone awakened Rose Mary, and she looked around, confused for a moment. She blinked, stifled a yawn, and smiled at the coffee. With a skill only mothers seemed to have, she reached out with one hand, cradled Gwen and brought the coffee to her own lips.

  The young mother sighed audibly and nodded her thanks to Fred.

  “It’s you!” she said cheerfully to Morgan.

  He smiled, “It is.”

  Neither Jim nor Fred had had a chance to tell her the story of Morgan.

  “Did the faeries tear your jacket?” she asked before blowing on her coffee.

  “No,” Morgan laughed. “This is my funeral jacket.”

  She took a sip of coffee, and it seemed to take a moment for that statement to sink in. When it did, her eyes widened, and she returned the coffee mug to the table. “Your funeral jacket?”

  Morgan nodded happily.

  “You’re dead, aren’t you?”

  There was no question implied. Merely a stated fact.

  Again Morgan nodded happily.

  “And are there more ghosts out there?” she asked him.

  “Seventy-one others,” he nodded.

  “Of course there are,” she sighed.

  “But,” Morgan said, looking over to Jim, “we’re getting close to the time.”

  “What time?” Jim asked him.

  “When the faery folk will be able to leave. We’re hoping that they won’t be able to,” Morgan continued, “that you’ll have found something in that room.”

  “We did,” Fred said. “We need five more people willing to sign a new contract in order to bind the faery folk within a ring.”

  “And of the seven of us,” Jim said, “one of them will have to cast the rest of the spell from within the ring.”

  “But that will bind them in as well,” Morgan said, looking upset. “They’d be stuck here with the faery folk.”

  “Yes,” Jim said. “That’s exactly what would happen.”

  “What are you talking about?” Rose Mary asked.

  Fred briefly explained to her what it was that he had read in the book by the pool.

  “Oh,” she said afterward. “Wow.”

  Jim nodded.

  “I’ll sign,” she said after a moment.

  “You will?” Morgan asked her.

  Rose Mary nodded. “Of course I will. I don’t want this to spread.”

  “That’s three of us,” Fred said. He reached into his shirt pocket and took out a small folded piece of paper. “I wrote this down earlier,” he said, handing it to Jim.

  Opening the paper, Jim saw that it was a nearly identical copy of the Blood Contract. Where the names of the town’s founders should have been, however, there was only Fred’s. Glancing around, Jim saw a pen on the coffee table. He reached out, took up the pen, and put the paper on the table, signing it. He looked at Rose Mary, and she nodded, taking the pen from him and leaning over slightly to sign it.

  “Now we only need four more,” Jim said, holding the paper out to Fred.

  Fred shook his head. “I lose everything. You hold onto it.”

  “You should go to the town hall,” Morgan said as Jim folded the paper in his own pocket. “There are people there. But a great many of the faery folk are gathering around there as well.”

  Jim stood up and adjusted the knife and the sword on the gun belt. Fear and worry gnawed at him. The trip to the center of town wouldn’t be more than two miles. But it would be two miles of faery-infested land that they would have to survive. He bent over and picked up his coffee from a side-table. Quietly, he finished it off and looked at Fred and Rose Mary. “Ready?”

  Fred nodded, picking up his rifle and standing up.

  “I just need a blanket to wrap Gwen in,” Rose Mary said, standing as well, “then I’ll be ready to go.”

  Chapter 32: 4:00 PM, Evan in the Forest

  Evan carefully brought himself to a sitting position, and then he sat sti
ll for five minutes, listening intensely to the forest.

  He heard nothing, which was both relaxing and frightening, the feelings twisting him into a knot. He hadn’t heard the dogs for hours, and he liked it that way. However, Evan also feared that it meant the dogs had gotten to his friends.

  With a slow, deliberate pace, he picked off the ferns before easing himself up to his feet. His body ached from the forced stillness, but it was better to be sore than to be dead, of that Evan was certain. He flipped the safety on for the rifle and slung it over his shoulder. There’s no use carrying a weapon that wouldn’t do anything against the dogs that had been, pardon the pun, hounding him and his friends.

  The air had gotten remarkably colder, and he had to think about something other than the cold. He knew that he was only ten minutes out from Blood Road, but that wouldn’t make the trip into town any easier, or any less stressful for that matter.

  No, Evan just wanted to get it done and get into town—preferably before anything tried to eat him.

  Evan stepped off smoothly and quietly, moving quickly through the darkening forest. He soon found himself along the edge of the woods and scenes of destruction. Seemingly no house was left untouched, some of them still burning. There were bodies on the ground, on manicured lawns and on asphalt roads. Cars and trucks were stopped, some still idling long after their occupants had fled or been butchered. Some of the vehicles were on their sides, half crushed, as if some giant thing had battered them around.

  The sights were terrible, but Evan kept to the tree line, skirting through backyards and thin stretches of open ground that would send his heart racing.

  And as he neared Main Street, he could hear them.

  The dogs were howling, as were other things. He crept up slowly, having reached the last house before the pharmacy, and he managed to find a position where he could look upon Thorne’s downtown and Town Hall.

  Evan grit his teeth at the horror laid out before him.

  Chapter 33: Town Hall, 4:30 PM

  Philip sat by himself on the first floor, looking out the town clerk’s window.

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