Ghost Stories from Hell, page 8
Father Moran nodded. He put his coffee down and stood up. “I’m going to make a phone call. I’ll be back in a moment.”
Mason picked up his coffee and took a sip. He was still shocked that Father Moran was an exorcist.
A few minutes later, Father Moran walked back in, gave Mason a small smile and sat down once again.
“I called my colleague Father Alexander,” Father Moran said. “He should be here, shortly.”
“What Church is he at?” Mason asked.
“St. Nicholas’,” Father Moran said, smiling.
“St. Nicholas’?” Mason asked. “Isn’t that the Greek Orthodox Church?”
“Yes,” Father Moran said. “The Catholic Church has become much closer to our Orthodox brothers over the past decade or so, Mason. He and I have actually worked together on several exorcisms.”
Mason shook his head, confused. “Several?”
Father Moran nodded. “When Pope Benedict the Sixteenth was in the seat at Rome,” he said, “he spoke of the emptiness of today’s cultures and societies. Of the failings and of the ease and temptations which are available via a disconnected world. We have seen a rise in exorcisms,” Father Moran said. “And we cannot work without the support of one another. Father Alexander is the exorcist for the Orthodox Church in the Metropolis of Boston. Thus, we work together whenever we can.”
Mason drank his coffee, thought for a moment and said, “Will you both come to Monson then?”
“Yes,” Father Moran said. “He and I have spoken of the house before. We would both like to be rid of it.”
“So would I,” Mason said.
Father Moran simply nodded and the two men sat in silence, drinking their coffee slowly, for nearly fifteen minutes, before a woman called up the stairs.
“Father, Father Alexander is here,” she said.
“Thank you, Martha,” Father Moran said. “Please send him up.”
A moment later, loud steps sounded on the stairs and shortly after, a priest appeared in the doorway to the study. He was older than Mason and Father Moran, perhaps sixty or seventy, but he was even taller than Father Moran. His head barely cleared the top of the doorframe. He was a solid looking man, as if he should have been working as a longshoreman rather than as a priest. The man’s hair was steel gray and long, pulled into a ponytail. His beard, which matched his hair color, was full and stretched to his waist.
Mason put down his coffee and got to his feet, even as Father Moran stood.
“Peter,” Father Alexander said, extending his hand.
Father Moran shook it warmly. “Alex. Let me introduce to you my friend, Mason Philips.”
When Father Moran released his hand, the Orthodox priest extended it to Mason, who, as he shook the offered hand, realized that Father Alexander’s hand was even bigger than Father Moran’s.
“A pleasure, Father,” Mason said.
“And for me as well,” Father Alexander smiled.
“Alex, why don’t you take my seat and Mason go back to yours. I’m going to grab another chair,” Father Moran said, and he left the room.
Both Mason and Father Alexander sat down. By the time Mason picked up his half-finished coffee, Father Moran was coming back into the room with an antique side chair. He set it down between the other two chairs but a little farther back.
“Coffee, Alex?” Father Moran asked.
“Please, Peter,” Father Alexander answered. Silence fell over the three men as Father Moran prepared the coffee for the Orthodox priest. Soon, Father Moran was handing over the hot coffee and sitting down in the side chair.
Father Alexander held the mug and looked at Father Moran. “And I take it that you were serious when you said that we had something of great importance to discuss?”
“This is about the Boylan House, Alex,” Father Moran said.
Father Alexander looked from Father Moran to Mason. “You have brought news of the Boylan House?”
“Yes,” Mason answered.
“What is it?” the Orthodox priest asked.
“The house has taken two more children,” Mason said. “It needs to go.”
Father Alexander gave him a large and decidedly disturbing smile. “It does need to go, Mr. Philips. It needs to burn to the ground.”
Chapter 24: 6:13 PM, November 8th, 2015, The Home of Harold Philips
Mason pulled the truck into the driveway of the house right after Harold’s. The house was empty, the ‘For Sale’ sign looked abandoned. Mason shook his head at it, turned off the ignition and stepped out of the truck.
He walked to the side door, up the steps and then stopped.
The screen door was open slightly, the screen ripped, and the heavy door pushed back. Mason’s hands itched for a weapon.
He slipped into the house and heard the sound of a raised voice. It had a questioning tone, and it was followed by a brutal smack.
Mason moved forward, and he could hear Harold laughing.
“Why the hell are you laughing?” someone asked.
“Because you’re a little bitch,” Harold spat. “Why don’t you send your mother in to take care of this shit. I can’t even say you fight like a girl because girls fight better than you can.”
There was another harsh smack.
Mason knew Harold could soak it up. But he had to figure out a way to help the old Marine.
“This is crazy,” someone said. “I’ve worked up more of a sweat than I do in the gym. It never looks this hard in the movies or on TV.”
“That’s because it’s the movies or TV,” a second voice sighed.
“You want to take a turn?” the first voice asked.
“Not at all. Go get a drink of water or something. Old bastard probably has beer in the fridge.”
“No milk, though,” Harold laughed.
“Screw you,” the first voice said.
Mason heard footsteps, and he stepped back into the darkest part of the kitchen. He caught sight of the butcher’s block with the knives, and he quickly slipped a carving knife free. The edge of it, glinted in the little bit of light slipping into the kitchen from Harold’s hallway.
And then the stranger was in the room.
He was of medium build, medium height, and with short cropped brown hair. He had on a pair of gold rimmed glasses, and his dress shirt’s sleeves were rolled up to the elbow. The man’s expensive business shoes clicked on the old linoleum, and he pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket before reaching for the fridge’s handle. His back was to Mason.
With a single step, Mason was up behind the man, covering the man’s mouth with his hand and jerking the head up and back as he drove the carving knife up to the hilt into the man’s lung. The blade glided smoothly between a pair of ribs and the man struggled for the briefest of moments, his last breath hot against Mason’s hand.
Mason eased the body to the floor, opened the fridge, took out a beer and popped the tab before setting it down on the floor beside the dead man.
Stepping silently to the entranceway to the hall, Mason carefully looked around the corner and saw Harold tied to a kitchen chair, his face raw and bloody. One eye was swollen shut, and the man’s dentures were on the floor. Blood was splattered on his white tee-shirt.
In front of him, sitting in another chair, was a second man, his back to Mason. The man was dressed as well as the first had been, the sole difference being that he still wore a suit coat.
Harold saw Mason and said to the second man, “Takes a while for the little bitch to drink a beer down, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t know,” the man started, but as he spoke, Mason used the sound of the man’s own voice to rush forward. With the hand that held the knife, he punched the second man in the back of the head, right at the base of the skull where it met the neck. He sent the man sprawling onto the floor, grunting. Pre-looped zipties scattered out onto the carpet.
Mason dropped the knife and put his knee on the man’s back.
The man groaned as Mason pi
Mason got off the man, stepped over to Harold and cut the old Marine free.
“The other one?” Harold asked.
“What were they asking you?” Mason asked.
“Where you were,” Harold answered. “The first one might’ve hit a little harder if he had known I was the one who had killed their grandfathers.”
The man on the floor rolled over, wincing as he looked at them.
Mason kicked the man in the stomach. “I didn’t tell you to move.”
Bending down, Mason picked up the knife before sitting down in the chair so recently occupied by the gentleman on the floor. “So,” Mason smiled, “you’re either a Gunther, a Boylan, or an O’Connor.”
The man didn’t say anything.
“You do know it only takes a short amount of time for loss of circulation to cause permanent damage, which will then lead to amputation?” Mason asked.
The man remained silent.
Mason kicked him in the side of the knee. Hard.
The man screamed.
“He thinks he’s a tough one,” Harold said, walking out of the room. He came back, a minute later, with a dish towel and the beer that Mason had opened. Harold took a drink and wiped at the blood on his face. “Everybody’s tough, once in a while.”
“We’ll see how tough he is when he’s explaining to a jury why he broke into an old man’s house and beat him. Of course, it’ll be interesting to see how he expresses himself with a pair of hooks for hands,” Mason said.
The man looked at Mason, and then he looked at Harold and he smiled. “I won’t have to,” he said, and he muttered something in a language Mason couldn’t recognize.
Mason went to kick the man again, but the bound man burst into flames.
“What the hell?!” Mason yelled, jumping to his feet.
“Fire extinguisher in the kitchen,” Harold snapped, and Mason ran for it. He found it by the stove, and he pulled the pin on it, as he raced back into the den.
Harold was using a blanket to try to smother the flames, but the man on the floor was screaming and writhing around.
“Back!” Mason yelled, and Harold moved away, pulling the blanket with him. Mason blasted the man with the fire extinguisher and in a matter of seconds, the flames were out.
But, it was too late. The man was dead, twisted in a fetal position, the plastic zipties melted into his charred flesh.
“That,” Harold said, taking a pack of cigarettes up from a table and fishing one out and lighting it, “is going to be an absolute bitch to get cleaned.”
Chapter 25: 7:00 AM, November 15th, 2015, The Boylan House
They had all arrived at the Boylan House in James’ truck. The two priests had spoken with their respective superiors and replacements had been found for them. When they got out of James’ truck, they were wearing their vestments and armed with the objects of their faith. Mason carried a pump action shotgun that belonged to James, and James carried another. They had spent the better part of the week packing shells with salt from the lick that Mason had used the first time.
James and Mason had received the blessings of both priests, and Mason had received the sacrament of confession from Father Moran. James, being a protestant, needed no such sacrament, but he’d made his peace, nonetheless.
None of them had any illusions about Liam Boylan, or about what might occur within the house.
No one, except the Churches, knew what happened during the day. Harold was at a nephew’s house under the pretense of having had a small fire in the den when he had dropped a lit cigarette. Julie was with her mother.
Both Mason and James had written letters explaining the situation and left them in the truck, should things not work out for the best.
It wasn’t the first time Mason had to write his will, and he hoped it wouldn’t be the last.
He closed the door to the pickup and double checked his pockets to make sure he was carrying enough ammunition.
James, Father Moran and Father Alexander looked at Mason.
“Me first?” Mason asked with a wry grin.
“Honestly,” Father Moran said, “you have the most experience with this place, Mason.”
“Lucky me,” Mason sighed. He chambered a round into the shotgun. “Well, follow me, then.”
He crossed Meeting House Road and started up the short hill. Within a heartbeat, he was at the door, refusing to look up at the trapdoor, fearful that it would be open and something would be looking down.
He opened the door and stepped inside, saw the tracks of men in the dust on the floor. Mason stepped off to the right, James to the left, and the priests came in between them.
The door slammed shut of its own accord, and the house was plunged into darkness as every shutter, on the windows, hammered closed.
Something within the house, sighed audibly with pleasure.
Chapter 26: 7:05 AM, November 15th, 2015, The Boylan House
The darkness stank with the smell of rot and the air was heavy, far too humid for the middle of November.
But they were inside the house.
Inside the Boylan House.
The four of them stood, waiting for their eyes to become adjusted to the darkness and slowly realizing that they never would. The darkness was not natural.
Mason stepped over to a window and peered through a crack in the shutters at the world beyond. A chill shook his body, and his stomach churned violently. The coffee and toast, he had for breakfast, made a valiant effort to leave, but he forced it down.
Beyond the shutter was a different world. An older world.
The woods were farther off, and the land was cleared and occupied by fields of corn. A simple rutted path was where the road had been. James’ truck was gone. In the dim light which slipped through the crack in the shutter, Mason looked at himself, half fearful that he would see homespun clothes and a flintlock musket.
“We’re somewhere else,” Mason said, turning back to the others.
“What do you mean?” Father Moran asked.
“We’re in Monson,” Mason said, “but out there it’s like the seventeenth century, I’m sure of it.”
James walked quickly to a window, looked out and swore under his breath. He looked at the priests and nodded.
Above them, something creaked, and a fine film of dust drifted down. For the first time, Mason noticed there was furniture in the shadows. A few chairs and a long table. A hutch of some sort stood on the wall beside the rear door, and shelves had been installed under the stairs.
Someone lived here.
In the wide open fireplace, which was stacked neatly with logs for the evening fire, there were iron hooks and arms. Cast iron pots and pans stood on a wide mantle which ran the perimeter of the entire chimney. A few pewter mugs and a clay pipe could be seen as well. The room was brightening.
Yet even as Mason observed the darkness fading, he realized the creaking change into footsteps. Someone started walking towards the stairs. He and James took up defensive positions around the two priests.
In a heartbeat, the unknown person was at the top of the stairs and started walking down with a rather clumsy gait.
A middle aged man appeared a little thinner than most and grinning through a mask of dried blood on his face. He wore a modern flannel shirt and jeans that looked as though they had been pressed. His feet were clad in tan workboots and a wedding ring glinted on his finger.
“Mike?” James asked. “Mike Sullivan?”
The laugh erupting from Mike Sullivan’s mouth told Mason they weren’t speaking with Mike, but rather, with Liam Boylan.
“Oh no, young sir,” Liam Boylan said, grinning wickedly, “your poor friend Michael Sullivan died screaming as I climbed through his mind. I appreciated his tastes for young bo
Liam looked at Mason, the grin fading away. “You and your family have been a bane for more years than even I care to count, Master Philips,” he spat. “I’m pleased that I’ll be able to finish you off today even as my colleagues finished off Harold.”
Mason nodded. “So it was you who sent those two after the old man?”
“Yes,” Liam hissed, the smile returning. “And he must have suffered, I’m sure. A pity he didn’t tell them where you were.”
“Oh,” Mason said, “those two.”
The smile on Liam’s face drooped slightly. “What do you mean?”
“You sent two men, two lawyers, to deal with Harold Philips?” Mason asked.
“Yes,” Liam responded.
“Well,” Mason smiled, “I gutted one like a fish and the other set himself on fire.”
Liam spat on the floor and took a stutter step towards them.
“No more,” Father Alexander said. “Do not exchange any more words with it.”
“Ah, priests,” Liam said, switching his attention from Mason to Father Moran and Father Alexander. “Always a pleasure. We’ve met before, myself and your kind. Far away, in Ireland, which is how I ended up here, in this place. So bountiful with young men.”
Father Moran started to speak in Latin.
Liam looked at Father Moran, snarling as he responded in kind. Father Moran went pale, yet continued to speak. Father Alexander joined him, speaking Greek, the man’s voice powerful, resonating in the room.
Then two voices were erupting from Liam’s mouth, one speaking Latin and the other speaking Greek. The thing howled in both languages and started laughing in a third voice.
Mason felt sweat burst upon his own brow, and a glance at James showed that he, too, was sweating, his shotgun trembling ever so slightly.
The two priests never hesitated, never faltered as they spoke. Incense was cast upon Liam and the body he possessed dropped to the rough floor, shaking the broad planks. Holy oil and holy water were dashed at him, and Liam screamed.
Smoke rose from where the water and oil touched the flesh, and a fourth voice tore free of Liam’s mouth. This voice spoke in a language which sounded much like the one which the second attacker in Harold’s house had used to ignite himself.