Two Double A’s

December 10, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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One of my first memories as a child was a funeral. My uncle’s funeral. He was my mom’s half-brother and considerably younger than her as he was from her dad’s second marriage. I think he was in his mid-twenties and he was addicted to ecstasy. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. Since he was addicted to the high, he started to get depressed whenever he wasn’t high and ended up committing suicide. He hung himself in his bedroom. How do you explain that to a 4 year old? I don’t know if my mom told me about the hanging back then, but I knew that he had killed himself. I remember my mom telling me that he thought no one loved him and that’s why he did it. She doesn’t remember telling me this, but I remember. I remember blaming myself for his death. I was always afraid of older men when I was young; I’m not sure why, I think I was just a really shy kid. I never wanted to play with my uncle and I always avoided him. At 4 years old, I thought that he killed himself because of me. I know now that that’s not true but I still feel guilty about never wanting to spend time with him.

The most vivid memory I have of the funeral is playing a game with my sister and my two cousins. It was called “Inky Pinky Ponky”. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but I’ve never heard anyone mention it since that day. I’ve heard of similar versions of the game but not the same as this one. In this game, one person is the leader and everyone else stands in a circle with their fists held out in the middle. The leader thumps everyone’s fists around the circle saying this rhyme: “Inky Pinky Ponky, Daddy bought a donkey, Donkey died, Daddy cried, Inky Pinky Ponky.” Whoever’s fist the leader lands on at the last word has to put that hand behind their back, and then it repeats until only one person is left with a hand in. They’re the winner. At 4 years old, I really hated that game. My uncle’s death was the first death I had ever had to cope with and singing about a dead donkey did not help me much.

I always thought being afraid of death was a normal fear that everyone had. But my fear went deeper. I refused to watch any movies where characters died; I didn’t watch The Lion King until I was about 16 years old. I was terrified of hospitals and I still won’t go in one unless I absolutely have to. I was always afraid to go to sleep when I was young and I think it had something to do with the fact that going to sleep and dying seemed so similar. Parents often explain death as going to sleep forever. I’m not sure if that’s how my parents explained it to me, but it certainly would explain it. Perhaps my fear of sleep also stemmed from the nightmares I used to have. One in particular is so silly now that I look back on it. I dreamt that I was running away from a witch in this forest. She eventually caught me, brought me back to her house, and tried to cook and eat me. Of course, I woke up before that happened. Another time, when I was older, I dreamt that I had done something bad at school, and they were going to punish me with the death penalty. I begged my parents to do something about it, but they just shrugged it off. I woke up as I was sitting in the electric chair. One dream that I remember the least about probably affected me the most. I dreamt of a funeral. But not just any funeral – a funeral for a baby. The only image I still remember from this dream is a tiny little coffin. That image haunted me throughout my childhood.

A few years ago, I was going through old photos on a rainy afternoon. I sat on the floor of the living room, flipping through the albums, admiring how cute I was. Then I went through a box of photos which was mostly doubles or just pictures that had never made into the album. Towards the end of the box, I found a card with a picture of a baby on it. The baby kind of looked like me but I knew it wasn’t because it said “Peter” on it. I didn’t bother to open the card; I just turned it to my mom and asked her who it was.

“Oh, that’s the funeral card from when your Aunt Susan’s baby died.”

“Aunt Susan had a baby?” I asked.

“Sort of. The baby was still born at about 7 months. It was the closest to full term she had ever reached so they had a funeral for the baby. You were there.”

My mom’s casual retelling of the events flooded my mind with images. It all came back to me before I could even blink. My dream of the baby’s funeral wasn’t just a dream. It had actually happened; I was just too young to remember. The baby died when I was about 3, almost 4, about six months before my uncle’s funeral. My brain was unable to retain that memory, but the nightmare that haunted me for years after stuck with me.

One day, when I was about 14 years old, my mom got a phone call. She sat at the table, crying on the phone, and I knew something was terribly wrong. I stood a few feet from her, tears running down my face, too, even though I didn’t know what happened. I’ve always been a sympathetic crier, especially when it comes to my mom. She held the phone in her lap when the conversation was over and told me that my Aunt Diana had died. She was my mom’s sister, and they hadn’t spoken in years due to drama between them and my grandmother. But still, she was her sister. I held my mom’s head in my arms as we both cried for several more minutes. Then, she had to go downstairs. My grandmother lived in our basement and my mom had to tell her. No way was I going to be a part of that. I can only imagine the pain someone feels when they find out their child has died. It wasn’t entirely a shock – we knew she had a brain tumour – but that didn’t make it much less sad.

I went to sit on the couch while my mom broke the news. Behind our couch, on a ledge, we had this clock. It was a German Carousel Clock and I liked to watch as the little gold balls of the carousel spun around and around. I think, in a way, it soothed me. Watching time tick by as the carousel spun was relaxing, much like the waves of the ocean flowing in and out. I turned around to watch the clock but the carousel had stopped spinning. The time on the clock was 3:47. I checked the clock on the VCR which said it was 4:22. I sat on the couch with my hands in my lap, thinking about my aunt. I thought about how my mom must have felt. I wondered if she felt guilty for not speaking to her for all that time. Just like I had felt guilty for never spending time with my uncle before he died. My mom came back upstairs a few minutes later. She started walking towards the other couch to sit down when her eyes fixed on the clock. “That’s it,” she said. She grabbed the clock, lifted up the glass dome and took the batteries out. She marched to the garage and tossed them in the bin where we put dead batteries. She returned to the living room, looking exasperated. Of course she would be upset – her sister had just died – but why all the commotion over a clock?

“Mom, what’s wrong?” I asked.

“That God forsaken clock…” she muttered, rubbing her forehead with one hand.

“It’s just a clock, Mom… What’s the big deal?”

She sat next to me on the couch and it seemed like she was trying to compose herself before she spoke again. “I’ve never told you this before… But I was married once before I married your dad. Hi name was Patrick. He was a few years older than me and I was so in love. He asked me to marry him when I was only 19 and I was head over heels for the guy so I said yes. We were married about a year after that. We got that clock as a wedding present from one of his relatives.”

I had always thought that the clock was a wedding present because we called it an Anniversary Clock. I don’t know if that was a real name for it but that’s what we called it. I assumed it was from my parent’s wedding and I had never bothered to ask about it. It was just a clock, after all.

She continued. “Anyway, one day, he got into a car accident. While he was in the hospital, they had to do some brain scans to make sure there was no bleeding. That was when they found the brain tumour. Patrick had always suffered from headaches but it had just become a part of his life, and he never bothered to do anything about it. Turns out the tumour had probably been there since he was born and his brain had just formed around it, still allowing him to function normally. He was fine for a while, but eventually he ended up in the hospital for good. They couldn’t operate on it because the tumour had spread out in little lines. If it had just been one solid mass, they could have tried to remove it. His last few months went by painfully slowly. He was basically completely unresponsive, but I stayed by his side as long as I could. I was relieved when he finally took his last breath.”

I was utterly awestruck at my mom’s story. I couldn’t believe that she had kept it a secret for this long. She never made eye contact with me while she spoke; she just looked down, and I suspected that she was trying to hide her tears from me. She probably didn’t want me to cry again, too.

“So, that night, when I went home from the hospital, that clock had stopped at 7:06. I remember the time specifically because that was Patrick’s time of death. 7:06 pm. I didn’t think much of it at the time – just a weird coincidence. It took me a long time to replace the batteries because it took me a long time to get back to normal. I didn’t eat for days after he died. I didn’t do much of anything for a long time. And then I met your dad, several years later. It was around the time that we moved in together that I put batteries back in the clock. It worked fine for a few years after that; the carousel kept spinning. Then one day it stopped again. That was the day your dad’s grandma died. I started to get a little suspicious at that point but I couldn’t be sure that it stopped at the exact same time. So, I put batteries in it again, and again, it stopped. That was the day your uncle died. I asked grandpa when exactly he had died and he said it must have been around 3 am. Sure enough, that was when the clock had stopped. I didn’t put batteries back in for a few years but then I finally decided that it was silly to think that a clock could tell when people died. But now it’s stopped again. At 3:47. Grandpa said she just died not too long ago. Probably about 45 minutes ago. So, that’s it, I’m not putting any more batteries in it. It might still be a coincidence but I’m not going to take that chance.”

I suppose the clock could very well be a regular clock but ever since my mom took those batteries out for good, no one in my family has died. My grandmother is almost 80, same with my grandfather. My dad’s parents are both 92. Recently, my dad’s father had another stoke. It was his fourth in the last few years. Each time, his recovery has taken longer and longer. At first, he would try to speak but no one could understand him. Eventually he just got frustrated and stopped trying. He would sit in his bed, staring at the wall while everyone talked around him. After this last stroke, he hasn’t even tried to speak again. I can tell that he’s miserable. I never understood why people were forced to suffer like that. Sitting in a hospital bed and being fed through a tube is no way to live, and certainly not how I want to remember my grandfather.

He was always kind of a quirky guy. He’s been almost completely deaf for as long as I can remember, so we never really talked much. He scared me as a kid because he was always yelling. But he was a proud man. He owned his own business and provided for his family. It was a jewellery store, and he specialized in repairing watches. He kept that business going until after his second stroke when we had to put him into a nursing home. He was about 85 at the time. He could have retired whenever he wanted to but he loved that store and he loved what he did.

I only really remember one specific conversation he had with me and my sister. I remember it was just the three of us in the house. I even remember where we stood in the living room. He showed us a picture of his father and told us about what a great man he was. “He would always tell me and my brothers that time is precious, time is a gift, and it should never be wasted. He gave me this watch when I was young and told me to always make the most of every second.” I think he’s still wearing that watch right now. But is he making the most of every second? Far from it.

So, as I rummage through this drawer at my parents’ house, I think about all of the good memories I had with my grandfather. I try to forget about what he looks like right now, hooked up to all those machines, his lifeless eyes unmoving. Death still terrifies me but I think it is better than a life like that. Ah, there they are. Two double A’s.

Credit: LAKK

Rose – Part 2

November 30, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Note: This is a sequel to Rose – Part 1 – please read that story first!

The weather that day was not fitting for a funeral. Especially a funeral as sad as this one. It should have been rainy and gloomy but there was not a cloud in the sky. Birds were chirping, the air was warm, the sum shimmered through the trees. It was as if the world didn’t know that a sad, lonely man had just died a sad, tragic death.

Daniel Young stood over his son’s grave as the casket was lowered in. The regret he felt was like a knife carving into his heart. He shouldn’t have moved so far away. He should have called. He should have known Eric was going crazy. He should have gotten him the help he needed. But he didn’t. And now he was left to feel this hatred toward himself. He had failed as a father.

A gentle hand was placed on Daniel’s shoulder with the intent of providing some comfort. Daniel turned his gaze away from the casket to meet the eyes of Father McKenzie. Father McKenzie had baptized his baby boy 35 years ago and now he was there to send him off to the afterlife. Very fitting.

Father McKenzie did not remember baptizing Eric. He had done many, many baptisms in his life time, but he would never forget the day Eric died. He had seen men die before, in the hospital, performing their last rites, but it was always a much more peaceful death than that of Eric Young. The images of Eric’s last moments were still ingrained in his mind. He saw his face every time he closed his eyes; every time he tried to sleep. But something that possibly haunted him more was the face of Officer Green. The way his eyes widened and looked deep into his soul. The way his mouth fell open in shock. The way his face stayed frozen in fear as Father McKenzie left the police station that night.

He had confessed his sins many times and still prayed for forgiveness several times a day but he could not shake the feeling that this sin would not be forgiven. But what else could he have done? He couldn’t bear the thought of ending up like Eric. Especially after the vision he had had while Officer Green was out. It was so vivid and gruesome that he never wanted to see what happened next to that poor girl. Eric saw and look where he ended up.

The casket hit ground with a thud and the machinery grinded to a halt. The first pile of dirt splashed on top of the wooden coffin. Daniel breathed in hard through his nose and slowly out his mouth, attempting to calm himself and hold back the tears. He turned on his heels and walked away, unable to control his emotions. But Father McKenzie stayed. He stayed until the very end.

“I make a damn good cup of coffee,” Officer Perry mused, leaning back in his chair and taking another long swig.

“I second that.” Officer Henry Freed was never really a fan of coffee but Warren had forced it into his hand that afternoon. He would probably be up all night now.

“Shame Matt doesn’t get to enjoy it. I bet he’s not really sick, probably just being a big sissy about that guy that died yesterday.”

“Yeah, I heard it was pretty bad, though. I’m glad I didn’t have to see it.” Henry was one of the newest constables at the station and was still learning. It was really quite exciting for him to get to work with Officer Perry that day despite how intimidating he was.

“Wasn’t that bad. I’ve seen worse. I’ve been on the force a long time, you know.”

“Yes, I know.”

Warren’s personal cell phone started to ring. He flipped the old phone out of its holster on his belt and answered it without hesitation.

“Warren?” It was a woman’s voice but he didn’t recognize it to be any of his family members.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“It’s Shelly Green. I… I don’t really know why I’m calling you but…” He could tell she was struggling to get her words in order. She might have even been crying. “Matt left this morning. After he got home from work, he wouldn’t speak to me. He just packed a suitcase and took off. I just wanted to know if you have any idea what’s wrong with him.”

“Oh geez… Well, we had a pretty gruesome case last night. I think it really got to him. He probably just needs some time to himself to calm down. I’m sure he’ll come back soon. Do you know where he went? Maybe I could talk to him.”

“He just said he was going to the motel. I’m assuming it’s the Blue Moon Inn. I doubt he would bother going out of town. He won’t answer any of my calls but maybe he’ll answer you. You wouldn’t mind calling? You’re not too busy?” After hearing that Warren was willing to help her, she was able to compose herself.

“Of course not. Don’t worry about it, I’ll talk to him and tell him to call you, alright?”

“Thank you so much, Warren. Please tell him I’m worried about him. Bye.”

Warren ended the call and went through his contacts to find Officer Green’s number. He hit call and listened to the rings. Ring after ring after ring went by. Then he finally answered.

“Hello?”

“Matt, its Warren. What’s going on? Shelly just called me asking what the heck is wrong with you.”

“Oh God… Please tell her I’m fine and not to worry about me.”

“Why don’t you just tell her yourself? Why don’t you just go home? I know seeing that guy dead was hard but you should be with your family if you’re having a hard time with it.”

“I can’t… I can’t go home.”

“Yes, you can, just-“

“I can’t!” The line went dead.

Officer Perry shook his head.

“What was that all about?” Henry asked.

“Nothing really. I guess I was right about why Green stayed home today.”

“Hello?”

“Hey Matt, it’s Tony, how you doing?”

“Been uh… been better.”

“Yeah, I heard you called in sick. Anyway, I’ve got some news about Eric Young. I just finished his autopsy.”

“What? What is it?” Officer Green’s voice was suddenly urgent.

“Well, I’m not one hundred percent sure on this – I still have to send some stuff away to get test results back – but it seems that the bite marks around Eric’s ankle weren’t his own. I think they might have been from a woman. And he didn’t die from blood loss, he died of a heart attack.”

“Oh God… Oh God, oh God, oh God… Please tell me you’re making some sort of sick joke!” Matt sounded terrified and angry. His voice bubbled with frustration.

“It’s not a joke, Matt. I wouldn’t joke around about something like this. What is going on with you?”

Tony could hear Officer Green sigh heavily. “Are you a God-fearing man, Tony?”

He paused for a moment. Where was he going with this? “As a matter of fact I am, but what does that have to do with anything?”

“Tony… I’m at the Blue Moon Inn, room 104. Please come, I need to talk to you. I’ll leave the door open, just come in.”

“Matt? Matt, what the heck is going on? Hello?” The line went dead.

Tony arrived at the motel within 15 minutes. It was just on the outskirts of the town. It had worn out blue siding; the shingles were starting to peel off, and the atmosphere was anything but welcoming. He parked right beside Matt’s car. He approached room 104, feeling his nerves start to kick in. This whole scenario was so odd; he had no idea what he would find on the other side of the door.

He decided to knock first, despite the fact that Officer Green had told him to come in. “Hello?” he called out. No answer. He could hear the TV blaring inside so maybe he just didn’t hear him. He composed himself for a moment and then pushed the door open.

The room looked just as he had remembered it when he was back in high school. He would sneak out of the house to meet his girlfriend there because their parents were very strict. All the teenagers did it and they probably still did. Mostly everything was the same. A new bedspread, new TV, but the same headboard, dresser, and wallpaper. It was decades old now and you could tell. The room looked a little dishevelled which Tony found strange since Green couldn’t have been here very long.

“Matt? Where are you?” Tony said loudly as he crept slowly farther into the room.

“I’m in the bathroom… Don’t come in!” he warned.

Going in there was probably the last thing Tony wanted to do. “Um… okay. What’s going on Green? You’re getting me really worried now.”

“Just come up to the door so we can talk,” Matt yelled.

Tony walked to the back of the room and stood in front of the bathroom door. “Okay, talk.”

“I know why Eric Young died. He was being haunted by a ghost. She was possessing him; taking over his mind and body. She wanted him to feel what she felt when she died. He wanted her to know what happened to her.”

“Matt, come on… That’s a little ridiculous, don’t you think?” Tony knew it wasn’t completely ridiculous. There had to be some sort of explanation for the female bite marks around his ankle and his frost bitten leg.

“Tony, I know. Rose’s spirit is in me now. I’m seeing the visions that Eric saw. Everything is happening the same way. I don’t want to rip my eyes out!”

“Hey, relax, man. Just calm down. You’re probably just experiencing some PTSD from last night. We can call in a therapist for you and everything will be alright.” Tony didn’t want to believe that Green was right but something told him that he was – that this was all real.

“No, I can’t go anywhere. I can’t see anyone or I might touch them. I don’t want to put anyone else through this. Maybe if I just die before anyone touches me, Rose will be gone.”

Tony was finally giving in. He knew Officer Matt Green was a sensible man with a good head on his shoulders. This had to be real for him to be reacting this way. “Tell me about Rose.”

“Rose… I did some research during the investigation last night. She lived in this town in the late 1800s. She went missing one day and was never found. I guess no one knows what happened to her. No one but Eric Young.”

“Rose… Rose who?” Tony had a sinking feeling in his stomach and his heart felt like it was up in his throat.

“Rose Walker. Tony… are you related to her? Do you know what happened to her? Can you help me get rid of her?” Matt finally had some hope that he might get through this after all. It had never occurred to him that anyone he knew would have known about Rose. She lived so long ago.

Of course Tony did not know her personally – she died long before Tony was born – but he knew of her. “Rose Walker is my great aunt. She was my grandfather’s half-sister. But he never even met her. She died a few years before my grandfather was born. I really shouldn’t be telling you any of this; what happened to Rose was meant to stay a secret. It was meant to stay hidden away forever like Rose was.”

“Well she’s not hidden anymore. She’s here and she’s angry. You’ve gotta help me, Tony.” Just then, the faucet turned on. Tony pressed his ear against the door in an attempt to hear what was going on in there. Matt’s body slammed against the door, startling Tony as he jumped back, hitting his own body against the back wall. He heard some more bumps and bangs for about half a minute then everything went quiet. The TV continued to play a few feet away but all was calm.

“Green? What happened? Are you okay?” Tony returned to the door and listened again. Nothing. “Green?” He heard water running… Then it stopped.

“Tony… You have to help me. Tell me everything you know about Rose.” Green’s voice was softer now, filled with desperation.

“Okay… Alright, I’ll tell you. Will you come out of the bathroom first, though?” Tony rested his hand on the doorknob.

“I don’t know… I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“Green, come on, it’ll be fine, just come talk to me face to face and I’ll tell you everything I know.”

There was silence for a moment as Matt contemplated coming out. He had just blacked out a second ago so it would probably be a little while before the next one came. Maybe he could just come out for a few minutes. “Alright… I’m coming out. Just… don’t touch me, okay?”

Tony backed away from the door as Green slowly emerged. Just as the door opened, a rush of cold air escaped then dissipated almost immediately as Green closed the door behind him. Tony sat down on the bed, holding his hands in his lap, staring at them as if they had all the answers. He fidgeted for a few moments, trying to get comfortable and deciding on where to begin. “My family… The men in my family, they’ve never been very good people. It started with my great grandfather, although I’m sure it started before that as well. His name was James Walker and he was a lawyer in this town. He owned a lot of land and was very well off.”

Green had pulled a chair out from the corner and sat in front of Tony like a child listening to a bedtime story.

“He married a woman named Helen and they had a baby girl named Rose. Years later, their marriage fell apart and Helen left him. It really hurt his reputation as a lawyer but it mostly hurt Rose and his relationship with her. No one really knows what went wrong with Rose but she just went crazy. Maybe she had always been crazy or maybe her mother abandoning her and the strained relationship with her father drove her mad. But anyway, James couldn’t have anyone knowing that Rose was crazy so he ended up leaving her to die in the outhouse at the back of the lot. No one knows if she died of starvation first or if it was hypothermia that did her in but my great grandfather was responsible. A few years later, he married my great grandmother, Mary, and they had my grandfather, James Walker II. On my great grandfather’s deathbed, he told my grandfather what happened. My grandfather kept it a secret as well until he died in the 90s. He told me, my brother, and my father what happened and we all promised him we wouldn’t tell anyone. As much as I wish my great grandfather had been punished for what he did, I also don’t want our family name to be tarnished with this tragedy. Me, my brother, and now you are the only living people that know what actually happened to Rose.”

“Tony… you have to tell everyone.”

“I can’t. My brother still carries on the family business; I couldn’t do that to him.”

“What’s more important, Tony? The truth or money?”

“It’s just… it’s not really my secret to share. It won’t impact me at all, but if people knew the truth about my family, my brother could lose the whole firm.” Tony stood up and started to pace back and forth. The faucet. It turned on again. “Why does it keep doing that?” Tony asked.

“It’s her… it’s Rose. I should go back in there. It might happen again.” Green stood up and started back towards the bathroom door.

“What might happen again?” Just as the words left his mouth, Matt’s body went limp and fell to the ground with a thud. “Matt?” Tony rushed towards him but just before he was about to roll him over, Matt rolled over by himself. He stared up at Tony, with just the whites of his eyes showing.

The sound of a girl’s voice came from Matt’s mouth as he said, “Daddy?”

Tony stepped back slowly as Matt began to crawl towards him. “Rose… Is that you?”

“Why don’t you love me, Daddy?”

“I’m not your dad, Rose. Your dad is dead.” Tony couldn’t believe he was talking to a dead girl. He wanted to believe that Matt was just playing some sick joke on him but the voice that he heard suggested that this was all too real. Tony continued to inch his way towards the door, ready to make a break for it at any moment. “If you want revenge on him or something, you’re too late.”

Rose let out a scream and started scratching her face. She then stuck a finger in her mouth and chomped down on it, severing it instantly. “Matt!” Tony screamed. “Matt, stop!” He wanted to grab him by the shoulders and try to shake him out of this but he had said not to touch him and Tony wasn’t going to take that chance. Matt… Rose, inserted another finger into her mouth. “Rose! Please stop!” But she didn’t stop. Another swift bite and another finger was gone. “I’ll tell everyone! Is that what you want? I’ll tell everyone what happened to you and how much you suffered if you’ll just leave him alone.” Matt paused just as another finger was being lifted.

“Everyone?” Rose said. “And you’ll tell them that he was a bad man? You’ll tell them everything?” Rose’s voice began to sound more normal; less frantic, less terrifying.

“Yes, I promise. I’ll tell everyone everything if that will make you move on.” Tony had stopped backing up now, the fear in his chest slowly dissipating. It was silent for a moment, then Rose’s body fell back down to the floor. Tony crept towards Matt’s body, the blood from his fingers gushing out onto the carpet. Tony jumped over Matt and went into the bathroom to grab a towel. He hurried back over to Matt but was reluctant to touch him. He just stared at him for a moment, watching the blood continue to flow. Thankfully, Matt’s eyes opened. He let out a shriek as the pain from his fingers hit him. “Matt, holy shit. Take this!” He tossed the towel towards him and Matt immediately wrapped it around the nubs that used to be his fingers.

“Wh.. What happened?”

“You… or Rose… bit your fingers off. I think you swallowed them.”

“Oh God… Thank God.” Tears began to fall down Matt’s cheeks but they were not tears of pain. “She’s gone, Tony. You didn’t touch me, did you?” Matt’s voice was suddenly urgent.

“No, hell no! I told her I would tell everyone and I guess she must have finally let go. Come on, get up, we’ve got to go to the hospital.”

Matt continued to cry. He was sure he was going to meet the same fate as Eric Young but Rose had spared him. She was finally able to cross over to the afterlife and end all the suffering.

Officer Green did lose his fingers. Good thing it was only the pinky finger and ring finger on his left hand. Though it was very hard to explain to everyone what happened. Eventually he just started telling people it was a table saw accident. He tried to tell the truth to Warren but he wouldn’t believe him. So he went with the table saw story and acted like the real story was just a big joke.

Tony’s brother’s law firm is still running. Not surprising since no one knows what happened. Tony never told anyone what happened to Rose. After he was sure she had crossed over, what could possibly happen if he didn’t stay true to his word? Spirits can’t just come back from the afterlife, right?

Credit: LAKK

Rose – Part 1

October 25, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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“Okay Father, we need you to cooperate with us here. If you’re honest from the beginning, things will be a lot better for you.” Officer Green sipped his coffee, a little too weak for this time of the night. Things like this didn’t happen very often in his small town so he wasn’t used to having to stay up all night. But when there’s a homicide investigation, it’s all hands on deck.

“Are you a God-fearing man, officer?” Father McKenzie held his hands together, nervously rubbing his knuckles.

“Not sure what that has to do with anything, but no, not particularly.” Officer Green leaned back in his chair, his spine aching. We’re not going to get anywhere with this guy, he thought.

“Then you’ll never believe me. But I’m not worried. God knows that I’m a good man and I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Officer Green took another sip of his coffee; longer this time. He needed some time to think about what to say next. He hadn’t done many interrogations during his time on the force and most of them ended with a confession in about 5 minutes. This one, he could tell, was going to be a bit more difficult. “Well if you’ve done nothing wrong, why don’t you just tell me what happened? What time did you arrive at Mr. Young’s house?”

“I arrived at his house around 6 pm.”

“And did he invite you over?”

“Yes.”

“Why?” This is going to take all night if I’m only getting one word answers from this guy, he thought, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the table.

“It would probably be best if you heard it from Eric Young himself.”

“Alright smart ass, what are you talking about? That guy is dead.”

“I received a letter in the mail from him a few days ago. It’s in my car. I think it would be best if you just read that.”

Officer Green paused for a moment. He wasn’t totally thrilled with the idea of following orders from a suspected murderer. But what else was he supposed to do? This interrogation was going nowhere. Nowhere fast at least. He put his palms down on the table, hitting it with more force than he intended, obviously a little exasperated from the events of the night. He pushed his tired body up and left the room.

About an hour had passed before Officer Green returned with the letter. Four pages all sealed in individual plastic baggies. It was really the only hard evidence they had so far. He returned to his seat, across from the Father, not saying a word to him. With another sip of his now-cold coffee, he settled in for a read.

“Dear Father McKenzie,

It’s been a while since I last went to church. About 20 years or so, probably. But I need your help now. I’m not proud of what I’ve done but it really didn’t seem to hurt anyone in the beginning. I was really doing more good than harm. I should explain.

I’ve been a ghost hunter for about 10 years now. But I don’t really hunt ghosts. I just go into people’s houses, use my fancy equipment to look legitimate and tell them there’s nothing to worry about; no ghosts here. They thank me, they pay me, I leave. If they continue to insist, then I burn some stuff, put some crosses up, yell some bullshit like, ‘Whatever spirits are here, please leave.’ Then they thank me, they pay me, I leave. Simple. I know I’m a fake but at least people minds are put at ease and they just go on with their lives. I know there’s no such thing as ghosts but some people’s imaginations just run wild and they need someone to calm them down. That’s my job. For 10 years now I’ve been doing this job without incident.

I got a phone call from a woman named Penny Hutchins a few weeks ago. She told me there’s an evil spirit in her house and she hears that I’m the best ghost hunter around. She seemed very spooked – as most people are when they’re convinced they’re being haunted. I assured her that I would help her and that the ghost would be gone in no time. I told her I’d fit her in in the next week or so. Her voice trembling, she replied, “Please hurry.”

When I arrived at her house, I unloaded my equipment and headed in. This appointment started out just like any other. I discussed my rates with her and she was eager to pay any amount if I could just help her. She had $1000 cash in hand, telling me to take it all. I did my usual spiel about how it depends on the severity of the haunting and the stubbornness of the spirit, blah, blah, blah. I fully intended on taking the full $1000 at the end.

I got out my fake EMF meter and started walking around the house with her, pressing the button under my index finger that makes the meter move. She tells me to go into her bathroom because that’s where the ghost usually is. Father, as soon as I walked into that bathroom, my blood went cold. Partially from fear, and partially due to the actual temperature of the room. I could see my breath; that’s how cold it was. At first I thought there must just be something wrong with her furnace. I should just tell her to call someone else. But then I turned around. Penny was standing behind me, staring right through me. The door slammed shut behind her. Her eyes started to roll into the back of her head and her mouth slowly fell open. Her head then tilted ever so slightly to the side. Her pupils were no longer visible but I knew that she wasn’t looking through me anymore, she was looking in me.

I carry a cross necklace around with me, just for added effect, but at that moment, I felt like that cross was the only thing that could save me. I dropped my EMF meter, grabbed the chain out of my pocket and swung it around at her as I slowly backed away, further into the room. I started screaming at her, telling whatever evil spirit that was there to leave Penny alone. My heels hit the bathtub. I had nowhere else to go. She lunged towards me, arms outstretched. Her skin was turning grey; her body looked lifeless the way her limbs flailed. I ducked down and dove for the door, escaping her grasp. The handle was frozen; the skin on my hand stuck to it instantly. I thrust my shoulder into the door as hard as I could but it wouldn’t budge. Penny, or whatever Penny had turned into, starting come towards me. I started banging on the door, yelling for help. She reached for me. I tried to slap her hand away from me but she grabbed my wrist. The cold went straight up my arm; I could feel it in my neck. I screamed like a little girl, pulling and tugging, but her grip was too strong. Finally, I kicked her right in the gut and she flew back into the bathtub, taking the shower curtain down with her. I looked at my hand. My skin was completely white from the tips of my fingers to about my elbow. I started to feel dizzy and that’s the point where I blacked out.

When I came to, Penny was sitting beside me, her face right over top of mine. “Eric?” she said. “Eric, talk to me! Are you alright?”

Everything came back in a flash and I jolted up to my feet and backed up to the door. Penny looked like Penny again. My arm was back to its normal colour.

“What happened?” I asked.

“What happened is that you’ve cured me!” She exclaimed, slowly moving towards me. Her eyes were glossy as she held back tears of joy. Tears of relief.

I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t fully wrap my brain around what had happened. “I… I don’t understand,” I sputtered.

“Come. Come to the kitchen, I’ll fix you up a cup of tea. Do you like tea?” She opened the bathroom door with ease. This seemed to be an entirely different woman than the one I had met minutes ago. Or was it hours? I had no idea how long I had been out for. I followed her down the hallway and sat at the kitchen table. I started putting my equipment back in their individual cases. I had to compose myself. I couldn’t let her know that this wasn’t just another day in the life of a ghost hunter. I didn’t want to lose out on that $1000 if she found me out.

“So this ghost…” I began, selecting my words carefully. “What has it been doing to you?”

Penny filled up the kettle, not looking at me as she spoke. “Oh, it was terrible. That room has been getting colder and colder by the minute. I haven’t really slept at all in days. This spirit, she haunts my mind, mostly. Just yesterday, I blacked out for what seemed like hours. She’s been showing me horrifying images. Thank God you showed up today or I might not have been able to bear it any longer. She is a very restless, malevolent soul. I did a lot of research on spirits when this whole thing first started. I’m sure you know all about it though. You’ve dealt with this kind of thing before, I’m sure.”

“Oh yeah, all the time. I had a very similar case just last month.” It was a good thing I’m a good liar. But lying is why I’m in this mess now.

Penny fixed my cup of tea and she made pleasant small talk with me. I tried to respond as normally as possible but my mind was elsewhere. I tried to bring the topic back to her haunting. “So, what kind of things would this spirit show you?” I asked.

Penny sipped her tea, looking deep into her cup. “I really… I don’t want to relive that horribleness. I’m sorry. It was just too much for me.”

“I understand.” I looked at my teacup. Still half full. We continued the small talk as I tried to drink my tea faster. Turns out Penny had three kids, all of whom are grown up and moved away now. She downsized by moving into this house and started having issues with this ghost a few days in. Her kids all thought she was going mad and started making comments about nursing homes. Penny couldn’t have been older than sixty.

Anyway, I’m rambling now. I’m writing to you, Father, because this ghost is now with me. Something happened when Penny grabbed my arm. I can feel this spirit’s presence all the time. I black out frequently throughout the day and she shows me horrible things. I’ve done research but I can’t figure out who she is. But she’s shown me what happened to her.

I see these images as if I’m floating above her, watching the scenes unfold. Based on her attire, she must have lived in the late 1800s. She is in her house with her father. He begins to yell at her. He yells at her for not coming home before dark. She looked to be about 16 years old. She yells back at him. He grabs her and throws her against the wall. She cries. She sobs uncontrollably. He picks her up off the floor by the arm and throws her into a bathroom, shutting the door with immense force.

Another scene. Days later, her father opens the door. The girl looks sickly, slouched against the wall. Painted in blood around her are little pictures. Pictures of the girl, eating her father. Her father is terrified. He backs out of the room as she laughs. Her eyes pierce through him – into him. He slams the door as he leaves.

Every time I black out, I wake up in another part of the house. Things around me will be broken. My house is a disaster now but I can’t will myself to do much about it. This spirit has consumed my life. The scenes get worse from here.

The father has a doctor come in to try to find out what is wrong with his daughter. The doctor opens the door. The girl’s hair is matted. She’s removed almost all of her clothes and is crouching in an animalistic manner. The walls are covered with more and more drawings of the girl killing the father and eating him. The girl looks up at the doctor and screeches. She lunges for him. The doctor retreats and slams the door. The doctor and the father stand there, awestruck. They hear the faucet turn on. The water is the only thing keeping her alive.

After she showed me that vision, my faucet began to turn on and off intermittently. I thought about calling a plumber at first. But no plumber can help me now.

The next time the father opens the door, the girl is completely naked. Her foot has been severed at the ankle but her foot is nowhere in the room. She looks up at her father. Her eyes look dead – completely devoid of life. “Daddy,” she says, her voice toneless. “Help me.” She reaches her hand out to him for a moment then puts it down on the bloody floor. She begins to pull herself across the tiles towards him, her head held tilted up the whole time. The father stands his ground for a moment but can’t take it. He slams the door again. The girl screams in agony.

When I came to after that vision, I found myself with bite marks around my ankle. Some points were deep enough to break the skin. All I do now is sit in my room, waiting for the faucet to turn on. Waiting to black out again. I can hear her voice in my head sometimes. “Help me,” she says. I’m worried I’m starting to go mad. I’m worried she’s going to bite my foot off. Or that I’ll bite my own foot off. I need your help, Father. I don’t want to get anyone else involved. I know Penny passed the spirit on to me when she touched me and I don’t want anyone else to suffer the same fate. I would have called but during one of my black outs, I broke the phone. I can’t go out because I’m afraid that I’ll touch somebody and pass her spirit on to them.

I know I’m a bad person, I know I’ve done wrong but I don’t think I deserve this torment. If this is God’s way of punishing me for stealing people’s money, then I want to apologize. I need you to come to my house so that I can confess my sins. Before it is too late. Please hurry.

Sincerely,

Eric Young

Officer Green placed the last page back in its bag. Father McKenzie had been staring at him the entire time as he read. Officer Green met his gaze. “You expect me to believe… that this guy was being haunted? By a ghost?”

“No. I never expected you to believe it. But that is the true story.”

Officer Green shook his head. “This is ridiculous,” he proclaimed. He gathered up the papers in the bags and left the room.

“Are you hearing this bullshit?” Officer Green asked his partner, Warren, who had been behind the two way mirror.

“Just got a call from Tony. He says we should come down to the crime scene.” Warren, Officer Perry, had been on the force for about 20 years – 10 or so years longer than Officer Green – but even he had never had a case like this.

Eric Young’s house was a disaster zone. Picture frames shattered, the couch was overturned, and the smell of rotting food was almost unbearable. The smell of rotting flesh had not yet kicked in but it wouldn’t be long.

Eric was still fairly young. No older than 35 years. He had no wife and no children. His mother had died when he was young and his father lived across the country. No siblings, nor did he make many friends in the ghost hunting profession.

Officer Green and Officer Perry entered the crime scene for the second time that night. They had been the first ones to respond to Father McKenzie’s 911 call. The body had not been moved yet. The poor guy still lay there on the floor of his bathroom, mouth wide open, surrounded by blood. The most disturbing part of the scene was his eyes – or lack thereof. His eyeballs had been ripped from their sockets and were just hanging off his face, resting on his cheek bones.

“Over here guys, come take a look.” Tony Walker, the medical examiner, sat in the pool of blood, dressed in a plastic suit.

“We can’t just look from here?” Office Green asked. He wasn’t overly squeamish but he also had never seen anything this gruesome before.

“Green, come on, man up.” Warren bumped his shoulder against Officer Green’s as he strode past. Green soon followed.

Tony lifted Eric’s pant leg, nice and gently. “Oh my God,” Warren breathed, bringing his hand to his mouth.

“Both feet, completely frost bitten. But this one…” Tony rolled up the other pant leg. “This one has almost been severed off.”

“W… With what?” Green stuttered. He was fairly certain he knew the answer but felt the need to ask anyway. He still held on to a shred of hope that Tony would say a knife or even a spoon.

“Teeth. The guy was gnawing his leg off with his own teeth. Weird, eh? “

The three men shared some awkward glances amongst themselves, no one certain what the next move should be. The half severed ankle was surely odd and the frost bite would have been much less odd had it not been August.

“Maybe we should call someone in about this. Someone from the state?” Green suggested.

“No, it’s fine. He obviously just went crazy and died from blood loss. End of story. No murder,” Warren concluded.

Green had to look away. He turned and started walking through the house, carefully stepping over the broken glass. He stood in the middle of the living room. A small desk sat in the corner. It was the only thing in the house that seemed to be in order. Upon further inspection, Green found some papers on the desk. Whoever was supposed to be searching for evidence here was not doing a great job. Green sat down at the desk and started reading.

“Dear Father McKenzie,

It’s been a few days since I sent my letter and I haven’t heard from you yet. Things are getting worse. I need you to help me as soon as possible. I have less and less time that I’m in control of my body.

The visions are getting worse. I’m beginning to have trouble separating the visions from reality and now, rather than a bystander viewing the scene, I’m beginning to view the scenes as if I am the girl. That poor girl. I don’t understand why she is doing this to me. I don’t understand what she wants. But she needs help. I need help. I’ve had two more visions since I wrote you last. Two more that I remember vividly, that is.

The father has given up on saving his daughter. But he can’t have anyone know about her. It would ruin him. He opens the bathroom door. The girl hasn’t gotten much worse. Her bones are protruding through her skin. She’s obviously starving. She reaches for him, mouth wide open. “Daddy,” she whispers, her voice raspy and tired from screaming. He takes a deep breath and reaches out for her. She bites his hand, drawing blood; he lets out a shriek. He grabs a fistful of her hair with his free hand and pulls her off of him. He drags her through the house, kicking and screaming, scratching and fighting to hold onto something. He takes her out the back door, continuing to drag her on the ground, a trail of blood seeping into the fresh white blanket of snow. They come to an outhouse at the very back of the property. He opens the door and throws her in. The girl looks up at him.

It is at this point that my view of the scene begins to shift and I am now seeing it through her eyes.

“Daddy?” Her voice has a tone of panic, much different from the way she sounded before. “Daddy, what’s happening? What’s going on?” She begins to yell, tears beginning to stream down her bloody face.

“Rose?” He says. “Sweetheart, are you alright?” He begins to cry as well. He kneels down towards her, reluctantly pressing his palm to her cheek.

Her eyes roll into the back of her head. Before the father has time to react, she… I… bite his thumb clean off. He screams. He slams the door shut. I’m in darkness, laughing. Just laughing.

I’ve tried to do more research and find out who Rose was but nothing has come up. My computer is now shattered so I guess I’ll never know. I thought that maybe if I knew more about her, I would be able to help her but that hope is lost.

It is getting more and more difficult to write. I can feel Rose in my mind, beginning to take over my thoughts. She is taking over my actions. She has shown me another vision – I hope this is the last one. I can’t bear to explain it. I have more bite marks all around my fingers and more around my ankle. My bones are cold. I haven’t eaten in days. Please Father. Please help me. I don’t know if I can bear to see any more of what she is showing me. I need you to get her out of me. Please hurry.”

This letter wasn’t signed at the bottom. He never really got a chance to finish it. Green took a deep breath.

“What is that?” Warren peered over his shoulder.

“It’s another letter, more gibberish about a ghost. I guess you’re right, he did go crazy.”

Officer Green and Officer Perry returned to the station. Officer Perry immediately went to the coffee pot to get another one started. Officer Green went to his desk first. He searched for all open cases between 1850 and 1920. There were two about a girl named Rose but he knew exactly which case he was looking for. It was difficult to read as the document he found was a police report that had been scanned into the computer. The writing was messy and the ink was uneven. From what he could decipher, a girl named Rose Walker disappeared December 17th, 1897, never to be seen again. What struck him as odd was that she was reported missing by her teacher, not her father.

Green grabbed another coffee before returning to the interrogation room with Father McKenzie. Neither of them said a word for about a minute. Officer Green just stared at him and he stared right back.

“Tell me what happened when you got to Eric Young’s house.” Officer Green said, trying to keep his tone even and not stutter.

“I’ve already told you, you won’t believe me.”

“I believe you. I believe you now.” He looked Father McKenzie dead in the eyes in an attempt to convey how serious he was.

“Alright… Here’s the truth. When I arrived at Eric’s house, he never came to the door. It was unlocked so I went inside. Everything was a mess, as you’ve seen. I could hear groaning and mumbling mixed in with occasional screaming coming from the bathroom. I knew I didn’t have much time so I rushed over there and flung open the door. Eric was lying on the ground, gnawing on his own ankle. I could tell that the spirit had taken full control of him now and I had to act quickly. I got out my bible, my cross and my holy water. I had to hold him down with one arm while I held my bible with the other hand. Eric started to come back but he was utterly petrified. I tried to calm him down but he just kept screaming. ‘What have you done to me?’ He kept saying. That’s when he began to scratch at his eyes. I had to look away. I immediately called 911. I didn’t think there was anything else I could do for him.”

Officer Green leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. “You’re free to go,” He stated blankly.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You’re no longer a suspect. It’s been concluded that Eric Young went mad and killed himself.”

“But you know that’s not entirely what happened.”

“I know. And you know. But as far as anyone else is concerned, he went mad and killed himself. I don’t think anyone else will believe the story even if they read the letters. Even if someone does, no one in their right mind would blame a death on ghosts in a police report.”

“That is true.” Both men began to stand up and head for the door, Officer Green leading the way. “Officer?”

Officer Green turned around to face him, turning the knob and pulling the door open a few inches. “Yes, Father?”

Father McKenzie extended his hand to Officer Green. Officer Green smiled slightly, pressing his lips together. He reached out to shake his hand.

“I’m sorry, Officer.”

Green’s eyes widened as Father McKenzie quickly grabbed onto his hand. He tried to pry his hand off of him, finger by finger, but his grip was too tight. Father McKenzie stared right into Green’s eyes, tears beginning to well up. Green’s hand began to get cold, his fingers started to turn white, numbness began to creep up to his wrist.

“I’m so sorry.”

Credit: LAKK

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