Ghost stories from hell, p.42

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 42

 

Ghost Stories from Hell
 



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“I hope so,” Connor said in a low voice.

  “So do I,” Noah said, sitting up and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Your mom’s a pain, and I don’t think she’s a fan of any of us.”

  Connor nodded and gave a bitter laugh.

  Noah looked at them and said, “How do you plan on getting this bead out of the grave?”

  “We will dig,” Hu said, “then we’ll have to get one of the dead to show us where it is so we can retrieve it.”

  “Are we bringing Rex along?” Connor asked hopefully.

  Hu shook his head. “We cannot. As much as the dead are frightened by him, he would be at risk, and it would be for nothing. He is a good and faithful dog, Connor. It is best to reward him with safety. And, to be quite honest, to keep him here to aid with our own protection should we fail in Pine Grove.

  “I have a question,” Noah said, glancing at them. “Why not just get one of them to pull it out for you, without all this digging around?”

  Connor opened his mouth to reply, closed it, and looked at Hu.

  Hu’s expression was one of surprise. “I think it could work. Yes, yes, I don’t see why it wouldn’t.”

  “Do we need to wait for night then?” Noah asked.

  Connor shuddered at the idea of going into the cemetery in daylight. Memories of the silver fox flashed across his mind’s eyes, but he choked back his fear and said, “No. We don’t need to wait for the night. Let’s get it done. As soon as possible.”

  Hu leaned forward, smiled and said softly, “It is alright to be afraid, Connor. There is no shame in it.”

  “That’s good,” Connor said, nodding and swallowing, “because I’m terrified.”

  Chapter 54: Preparing to Enter the Cemetery, August 17th, 2016

  Lloyd felt sick to his stomach, and his head throbbed. His mouth was dry, and he realized the last time he had felt so terrible was when he had gotten out of the army. He had spent three days drunk and ended up miserable for a week afterward.

  He sat on the edge of the bed in Hu’s house, wearing the same clothes from the day before. A small part of him wanted to return home, shower, and put on a clean outfit.

  He knew it was not only vain, but pointless.

  They were going into Pine Grove to retrieve Feng’s bead.

  And Lloyd was filled with doubt. He wondered what it was that he could bring to the confrontation. The brief battle of the night before had reminded him of not only his age but how frail he was. It was a bitter realization.

  His pride had forced him out the door, following behind Hu as the man led them towards the cemetery. Through the iron bars of the fence, Lloyd could see a tarp had been spread over the grave they had partially excavated in the search for Feng. The groundskeepers in Pine Grove had evidently returned most of the dirt to its proper place.

  Memories of the various deaths that had occurred within the confines of the cemetery and outside of it flooded Lloyd’s mind, causing his feet to stumble. Connor reached out a hand and steadied him, asking, “Are you alright?”

  Lloyd didn’t trust his voice, so he nodded.

  Connor gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder and silence fell over the small group again.

  Lloyd wondered what the detective thought of it all. The man hadn’t seemed overly impressed with what they had told him, and Lloyd had a suspicion the detective would arrest them for disturbing a grave when all was done. He glanced over at Rattin and saw the man slip a flask back into his pocket.

  The detective smiled sheepishly at him, stumbled and muttered, “Liquid courage.”

  Lloyd wondered if there was any alcohol left in the flask, or if Rattin had drunk it all.

  Then all concerns other than what lay ahead flew from his mind as they reached the gate for Pine Grove.

  Hu stopped and turned to face them all. There was a soldierly bearing to the man, a sense of military pride and confidence.

  It didn’t help Lloyd.

  “We are going in now,” Hu said, looking at each one in turn as he spoke. “We must remember to be wary. Why they did not attack as soon as we left my home, I do not know. I do not believe we will reach the grave unharmed. Keep your iron ready and understand that we all go together to Feng. It is safest that way.”

  “Yes,” Detective Rattin said, “that would be the safest way.”

  There was a strange note in the man’s voice, and when Lloyd turned, he saw an odd glint in the detective’s eyes. Detective Rattin’s arm caught Lloyd’s attention, the limb coming up with a jerking motion, a flat black pistol held in his hand.

  And then Lloyd knew how he could help.

  Chapter 55: The Plan Goes South, August 17th, 2016

  Lloyd’s brains and bits of skull struck Connor in the face as Detective Noah Rattin pulled the trigger and killed the old man.

  Connor fell to his knees and vomited, the action saving his life as the detective fired. The bullet passed through where Connor’s head had been. As fear nailed him to the earth, Connor watched in horror as Rattin swung his pistol towards Hu.

  Hu had dropped the bag he had brought with him and closed the distance between him and the detective, the older man’s hands a blur. In a heartbeat, he had taken the weapon from Rattin and tossed it aside. Rattin threw a punch, but Hu was too close to him, and unlike the detective, Hu wasn’t concerned with punches.

  Connor watched as Hu used his elbows, shoulders, and head to drive Rattin backward. Hu’s strikes were precise and incapacitated Rattin in a matter of seconds. From where he knelt, Connor saw the detective’s eyes roll up, the whites revealed as he fell backward. The man’s limbs flopped with all of the grace of a dying jellyfish, and he lay unconscious on the ground.

  “Are you hurt?” Hu snapped.

  Connor shook his head.

  “Then on your feet,” Hu said, extending a hand.

  Connor took it and let the man pull him to his feet.

  “What happened?” Connor asked, shaken. “Why did he do that?”

  “I suspect, and hope, he was possessed,” Hu said, glancing down at Noah.

  “You hope?” Connor said.

  “Yes,” Hu said, “I hope. If he was not possessed, then we have a police officer who wants to kill us for other reasons. Now we must hurry, the gun shots will undoubtedly be reported, and we will face enough challenges attempting to induce Feng to bring us his bead.”

  Connor nodded, shuddered at the idea of Detective Rattin bent on murder for the sake of murder, and looked down at the man’s unconscious form.

  “How did you do that?” Connor asked. “How did you disarm him and knock him out?

  “I was an Eagle,” Hu replied, picking up his bag and turning his back on Rattin.

  “What do you mean an ‘Eagle’?” Connor asked, confused.

  Hu gave him a small smile and said, “When I was younger, I belonged to a military unit known as the Eagle. Part of the Chinese Special Forces, if that helps. I will tell you more when we are done with Feng. Come, I think I hear sirens in the distance.”

  Connor nodded and followed Hu into Pine Grove Cemetery.

  Chapter 56: An Awakening, August 17th, 2016

  Noah pushed himself up, his head pounding. He scanned the area and saw Lloyd on the asphalt. Noah stared at the man, understanding Lloyd was dead. A vague memory sprang up, and Noah saw his own hand, with his pistol, aiming the weapon at Hu.

  Lloyd had stepped in the way, and Noah had executed him. Then he had tried to kill Connor.

  A laugh filled his ears, and Noah knew it came from within his own head.

  “Did you enjoy that?” a voice asked. It was old and terrible, filled with hate and spite. “I know I did. It has been so long since I possessed someone, and never have I employed a weapon such as yours. It was exceptional. Tell me, how does it work?”

  Noah clenched his teeth together, squeezed his eyes shut and tried to drive the voice out of his head.

  The voice laughed, saying, “That is alright, I will find the information I seek, alth
ough you may not find it pleasant.”

  Noah didn’t.

  A whimper escaped his lips as needles of pain were driven through his skull.

  “Ah,” the voice said with satisfaction, “you call them bullets. And you have more! Many more. Do you know what we can do with them, my Little One? Do you know how many we could slay with these bullets?”

  Noah shook his head, trying to force the voice out.

  “Oh no, Little One,” the voice said, chuckling. “You will not expel me so easily. I rather like it here. You’re quite young. Imagine what I could do with your flesh. No, pick up your weapon.”

  Noah tried to resist, but it was useless. The voice had all control, and in a moment, he found himself crawling towards his pistol. He found it in the grass, the grip cool in his hand. The voice allowed him to sit back on his heels.

  “Show me,” the voice commanded, “that we have enough of these bullets in your pistol.”

  Panting with the effort, Noah ejected the magazine and looked down at the exposed round.

  The voice purred and said, “Excellent, Little One, now we will commence our killing. We shall start with Hu and the other with the pure voice. I think that will be our best course of action. What say you?”

  As the stranger laughed, his grip on Noah loosened, and instead of casting the pistol aside, Noah turned it on himself.

  He was able to pull the trigger faster than the voice could react, and Detective Noah Rattin died with a sense of satisfaction as the voice screamed with rage.

  Chapter 57: A New Threat, August 17th, 2016

  Connor jerked around when he heard another gunshot. At the gate, he saw Noah sprawl backward, the pistol in his hand.

  Shuddering, Connor turned to speak to Hu and tripped, tumbling forward and catching himself with his hands. He twisted onto his back and sat up, trying to see what had tripped him up, and saw only the root of a tree that had grown up through a crack in the asphalt.

  As Connor looked at it, the root curled, the end facing him.

  Before he could react, the root snapped out with the speed of a rattlesnake and wrapped around his ankle. Within a heartbeat, it was squeezing Connor hard enough so he could not only feel, but hear the bones in his leg grinding together.

  A shriek of pain escaped his lips and Hu was there. Without hesitation, he grabbed Connor’s trapped leg, pulled it up, and wrenched the root off. Connor screamed again, and blackness swarmed over him.

  When he came to, Hu was dragging him away from the tree. Hu realized Connor was awake and snapped, “Tell them to stop, Connor. Tell them now!”

  Dazed, Connor glanced around to see what Hu meant, and he saw them.

  Seven trees had wrenched themselves out of the ground, trailing roots, and shedding dirt while shambling towards him and Hu. Ten or eleven ghosts could be seen, moving from tree to tree, hiding from Connor and Hu, not quite certain if it was safe to attack.

  “Connor!” Hu shouted.

  “Stop it,” Connor yelled, the effort causing stars to appear in his vision. “Stop!”

  The trees came to a shuddering halt, each of the dead frozen in their tracks, some half-hidden behind trees and headstones. They all stared at Connor and Hu.

  “Thank you,” Hu said, sinking down to the ground beside Connor. “I do not believe I would have been able to continue much longer. Not dragging you, my young friend.”

  “No,” Connor said, sitting up and grimacing at the pain in his leg, “thank you. Noah’s dead.”

  Hu nodded. “I am not surprised. One of them must have taken possession of him. We were lucky.”

  Connor didn’t think losing Lloyd and the detective could count as luck, but he kept his opinion to himself. Instead of responding to the statement, he looked at the trees, gestured towards them, and said with unfeigned confusion, “Why were trees chasing us?”

  Hu gave him a grim smile and replied, “Some of the dead can possess them, but they lack the ability to take possession of people. The same is true of animals. It seems that some of the dead have discovered such an ability in themselves. Are you ready?”

  Connor was far from ready, but he nodded anyway.

  “Good,” Hu said, standing up. “Let us try and find Feng’s grave.”

  Before he could answer, Connor’s eyes were drawn to a ghost standing near one of the three graves Lloyd had marked as possibilities for Feng’s bead.

  Connor’s throat tightened and his heart raced.

  His mother stood by the grave, a look of desperation and sadness on her face. When she saw that she had his attention, she pointed at the headstone.

  Connor mouthed the name Feng, and his mother nodded once before she vanished.

  “I know where to find him,” Connor whispered.

  Hu looked sharply at him. “How?”

  “My mother just pointed it out,” Connor answered, the words painful to speak. “She showed me.”

  Connor stood up, yelping in pain, and wavering on his feet. Hu reached out a hand and steadied him.

  “Come, Connor,” Hu said, “we are nearly done here.”

  “I hope so,” Connor muttered.

  As soon as the words left his mouth, something struck him in the head and he found himself falling back.

  Chapter 58: Alone with the Dead, August 17th, 2016

  Hu grunted as he caught Connor, the unconscious man nothing more than dead weight in his arms. He lowered him to the ground, opening his eyes to peer into them. The man’s eyes contracted with exposure to the light, and Hu let the lids fall back in place.

  Hu pushed the gloves down tighter on his hands and considered what to do next.

  He had little time.

  Movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention and Hu snapped around to face it. An old woman crept towards him, her eyes a dull gray and her teeth bared. The woman’s hair was thin and a sickly yellow, hanging in weak clumps about her face. She snarled at him, and Hu felt a cold hatred roll over him.

  He glanced around him and saw no other ghosts advancing on him.

  Hu stood up, eyed her, and wondered how he would deal with her while protecting Connor simultaneously.

  “And what is your name?” Hu asked.

  She cocked her head to one side, stared at him and said in a loud, slurred voice, “What?”

  And Hu knew why she hadn’t been affected by Connor’s command.

  She hadn’t heard him.

  “Leave,” Hu said, making a shooing gesture with his hands.

  The corner of her mouth curled up into a sneer as she flexed her hands. On the tips of her long fingers, each one segmented and narrow like a spider’s leg, were yellow and cracked nails.

  “I’ll gut you,” she hissed, “if you stand between me and the sweet man behind you. I can smell him from here. Get out of the way and let me eat. I’m hungry.”

  Hu set his bag with the statue down by Connor’s feet and straightened up. He smiled at the ghost and said in a pleasant tone, “No, I will see you starve first.”

  She howled, hands extended as rage and hunger propelled her forward.

  Hu planted his feet and waited for her to reach him.

  Chapter 59: Forced to Fight, August 17th, 2016

  When Connor opened his eyes, he was on his back and struggling to get to his feet. Around him, Hu continued to battle the dead, but Connor could focus only on the ghost in front of him.

  Feng.

  The ghost wore orange robes, with a beaded necklace hanging down almost to his waist. His face was lined with age and malice, his eyes a bright silver, his head shaved.

  When Feng spoke, it was a voice both smooth and vile; a curious mixture that enticed Connor to listen even as a visceral part of himself screamed to flee.

  “Connor,” Feng said, “it is a pleasure to speak with you. We have known each other for quite some time, and yet we have never once exchanged words.”

  Connor faced the dead man with anger building up within him.

  “This is where you f
irst saw me,” Feng said, chuckling, “peering out of your window at night. A brave act from a boy so young. Especially one so frightened of the graveyard across from his home. Tell me, Connor, are you still fearful of the cemetery?”

  “Yes,” Connor confessed, “I’m terrified of it.”

  “There are not many who would admit to such a fear,” Feng said, stepping forward, “I admire your courage.”

  Connor didn’t respond. He remained silent and waited to see what Feng would say next.

  Feng hesitated, then stated, “I have a proposition for you. You are far stronger than I suspected. I thought of you as nothing more than a meal. If not for myself then certainly for your mother. However, I think we can form a union, the pair of us. We can work together, and satisfy urges that I have denied for far too long, and ones you are not yet aware exist. Everything would work out beautifully for us.”

  “You need to leave,” Connor said, his voice low and rough. “You can’t be here. I won’t allow it.”

  Feng flinched as if struck.

  “You don’t have a choice,” Feng snapped once he had regained his composure. “Either you will join with me, or I will grind you beneath my heel and take your flesh for my own. There is no other option here.”

  “Get out,” Connor commanded.

  Feng growled as his head twitched back.

  The ghost sprang forward and Connor found himself within arm’s reach of the dead man. Feng’s hand lashed out and caught the front of Connor’s shirt, jerking him the last few inches toward Feng.

  “No!” Connor screamed, pulling back at the same time.

  Feng’s grip was firm though, and the smile that spread across the dead man’s face was simultaneously vicious and victorious. He lifted Connor up with an ease that dropped a cloud of fear over Connor’s eyes. With a snorted laugh, Feng threw him.

  Connor flew backward, unable to regain control until finally, after far too long, his back smashed into a headstone. His breath rushed out of him as he fell forward.

 
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