“Wake up,” a stifled squeal carried across the room, “Jesus Christ! Wake up!”
Elise desperately clinches her bed sheets until her nails dig into her palm. The room is mostly dark, but the moon gently aluminates the small space with a beam of light. The light bounces off the white tiles and polished woodwork of the Smith’s master bedroom. The fireplace smolders in the corner and a red glint stretches across the floor before disappearing in the pail light of the moon.
Elise breathes heavily and the combination of her humid breath underneath the sheets, and increasing pulse turns the cool breeze of the bayou into a thing of the past. Though it seems impossible to do so, her grip tightens. She squints and does her best to focus her vision through the small opening in-between her mattress and bed sheets as well as the darkness that separates her and her husband’s beds. Felix stirs and rolls over in his bed mumbling something.
“Honey, not too loud!” Elise says. “Listen to me damn it! It is here again…” Her voice trembles more and more with every word.
“W-what?” Felix says in a deep and rough voice.
“It is here again! I can hear it moving up in the loft… I can feel it staring at all of Victoria’s toys and cradle…”
“Shut up! Don’t say her name! Don’t ever say her damned name!” Felix says, awake now more than ever, “I’ll grab my rifle. Quietly go and alert the other men in town. That hell spawn is not going to escape this time…” Felix is now on the move across the room. He silently puts on his coat and slides his Holy Bible into the front left pocket.
Elise opens the door and exits the room frantically, but quietly, and proceeds down the stairs. Felix retrieves his rifle from the bedside and loads it. A few extra rounds drop into his pants pocket. As he gazes through the window, he can see Elise halfway down the dirt path to their house and running on toward the tightly knitted neighboring houses in the distance.
Elise, now a tremendous distance from the house, makes her way to the nearby church. The soil on the ground is cold and moist and feels colder when Elise’s bare feet make contact with the jagged stones that pave a path through the town. With each step the bottom of her foot is cut just a little deeper, and the blood that is slowly seeping out warms her feet. Within moments she is upon the church steps. Beyond the steps are two large wooden doors with nothing more than two small stained glass windows on each side.
Her heart is racing so hard that she can barely tell the difference in her obnoxious pounding on the doors and the beating of her own heart. She impatiently rips open the doors and rushes inward. From the left, Father Thomas Wake stumbles from the stairs that lead to his sleeping quarters and the church bell.
“Elise, what is the trouble?” Father Wake asks whilst whipping his eyes.
“That thing is here again! It plagues my house once more!” Elise says trying to catch her breath.
“Where is Mr. Smith? Has anyone else spotted it in their homes tonight?”
“I’m not sure… We need to ring the bell quickly! Felix is alone in our house, and with it in the loft, this may be our only chance to capture it without another injury!”
“I’ll ring the bell. You need to go and lead the others when they exit their homes. Have Ms. Underhill keep an eye over the children, and then take the other women to prepare the fire…” Father Wake says before retreating upstairs.
The bell rings a loud and deep tone for miles. Candle light brightens and multiplies in homes within just a few dongs from the bell. Felix looks to the town in response to the bells, and listens to ensure the creature is still lurking above. The first to come out of their home is Mr. Edmond Underhill who almost knocks Elise to the ground when he bursts out of the doorway.
“Ms. Smith? I should had known it was in your home again… Still, a sight for sore eyes. Did you come from the church? What did Father Wake say?” Edmond asks. Jane Underhill peeks from behind Edmond.
“He wants Jane to watch over the children! Then I and the other women are going to prepare the fire!” Elise says.
Edmond kisses Jane on her forehead and then departs to rally with the other men. Jane quickly begins going home to home gathering children, and walking them to the church for safety, in case the creature should come while everyone is away.
Walking can be heard from the loft of Felix and Elise’s house, and a low gargle can be heard slowly being forced out of the creature’s chest. Felix says his prayer multiple times to himself as he has done many times before when he was in distress. Finally, when Felix peers out the window again, speckles of light can be seen coming back toward the house. Men come armed to the teeth with whatever they could manage to grab before leaving their homes, and women come baring torches held high in the air.
Felix taps his fingers one after another on the side of his rifle barrel and stock. He said his prayer louder and looked around the room with uncontrollable paranoia. He wondered what took the other men so long to start heading over. He started to pace to and fro on first the balls of his feet, and then his toes. He was trying his hardest to be calm and silent, but at the same time he worried about the demon above leaving the loft or discovering that its presence was known. (As if the Bells were not enough to alert it already). Sweat drips down his face, and trails down his body. The being in the loft makes its sounds and scratches at the wooden support beams.
When the town reaches the Smith’s home the men enter single file and stealthily navigate the house. Edmond takes them from the foyer and up the dark flight of stairs. Each man keeps his eyes peeled and listens for movement amongst the hall and many rooms. The women, walk to the left of Felix’s eyesight of the yard and wait patiently with their torches in hand.
As Edmond and the others reach the next set of stairs, they catch the sound of scratching faintly emitting from the loft. Sweat beads on everyone’s bodies and their mouths go dry. Some even tremble and others are becoming more and more nauseas with each step. The thick velvet curtains obscure most if not all light hitting the windows.Felix finally hears the pattering of the townsmen coming up the stairs and cracks his door open further. Slowly he creeps into the hall and comes face to face with Edmond.
“That thing, where is it this time?” Edmond asks.
“It is in the attic…” Felix replies hesitantly.
“Get behind the others Smith… I am not endangering others over your spineless ass. I’ll be damned if you jeopardize this opportune time.”
Mr. Smith complies and waits as the townsmen walk pass him. One by one, they reach the final set of stairs leading into the attic. Edmond hesitantly peers into the open attic, which is brighten by the moon. The skylight allows much of the room and items in it to be well visible. Among the items in the room are a hand carved cradle with the name Victoria engraved on the headpiece, some hand woven dolls, and various other child items. Edmond spots the creature standing in the window that faces town. Its body was silhouetted, but still gave off an unnatural appearance. Edmond swallows hard and sticks his hand out to halt the group behind him. He steps closer and closer. Slowly he approaches and stops only out of fear whenever the blood chilling entity makes noise or scratches its talon feet across the floor.
Felix is trembling behind everyone and shakes violently. Everyman is inside the attic now and is proceeding toward the creature with caution. With only a few feet distance between the men and the demon, Edmond draws his rifle and aims at the creature. The other men follow and as quietly as possible, they pull their hammers back- all but Felix who already had his foolishly pulled back. He fumbles for the hammer, which he has forgotten, is already back. While trying to feel for the missing hammer, and in a blind fear, he also squeezes the trigger with his index finger. The hammer freely moves and makes contact, thus firing the rifle. The shot from his rifle zips through the air. It grazes one of the townsmen’s ears and shatters the window the creature stands before.
The entity turns quickly. Its shimmering solid-black eyes scan the townsmen. Its head looks like a burlap-sack stitched together and tied off with a rope around the neck. Beneath its dark eyes is a sharp bird’s beak and a mouth wide open with sharp jagged teeth lining it. The lips are thick and inky, but leave enough space for its grey gums to be visible. A black goatee hangs from its chin and covers very little of the unnaturally lanky, purple and white striped neck. The body of the demon is stretched just as long with a slender, torso, arms, and legs… the demons hands bear fingers, like a witches, and tip with a sharp black point unlike its talon feet. It stands silent for a moment, almost as if it is building up breath as the head bobbles and its ragged clothing blows slightly from a draft.
It lets out a scream that takes the breath out of the town’s people. Its mouth seems to open more and strings of thread stretch from its bottom lip to the top, whilst misting saliva into the air.
The demon staggers toward the men and makes dreadful and strange noises from its chest. Edmond steps backwards looking as much a coward as everyone else in the room. His trembling arms lock up and a shot fires at the creature. The shot zips across the room and hits the wall that borders the window. The creature turns to flee, but the other men open fire almost instantaneously after Edmond. In a loud ear ringing mess, rounds fly everywhere, some ricocheting, and some hitting the creature or burying themselves into various objects. A shrill scream carries over the ringing in the men’s ears and the demonic creature stumbles and falls out of the shattered window.
“Jesus Christ… Quickly, get down stairs before it can escape!” Edmond yells as the thick smoke screen clears. The men just stand in front of the stairway still shocked and amazed by the fact the creature was so easily brought down this time and without causalities or injuries. “For God’s sake the women are down there! Get a move on!”
The men poor out of the Smith’s house and laying limp on the ground only feet beyond the door steps is the monstrosity that harassed the town and most seemingly, most specifically, the Smith’s home. Felix and Edmond run to the entity and restrain its limbs. Edmond waves his hand to signal the others to assist in moving the being.
With haste, they transport it across the yard and to the area where the women are gathered. Beside the crowd of women is a large pile of brush and logs, which they lift the creature onto and tie off like a witch awaiting to be executed.
“It is old timey, but how else do you expect to kill the damn thing?” One of the men asks himself. A few of the torches are threw onto the pile of brush, and spread into a much larger flame. Everyone takes a few steps back from the heat and stares at the fire with fear and a strong desire to see the entity taken from this world and cast back into hell where it belongs.
Father Wake steps forward grasping his bible. He looks at the creature quizzically and turns to everyone.
“Well, you are a priest, banish that bastard to hell!” Someone yells.
“I-I do not know what to say… I have never seen anything like this. This a true spawn of Satan in a physical form!” Father Wake says.
“That is all the more reason to destroy it in the name of the lord!” A woman’s voice calls out.
“For crying out-loud, this is the nineteenth century, not the sixteenth! This is not a supposed witch! I have no knowledge of anything like this!”
The Entities limp neck twitches and then its body leaps forward only a little thus shifting the logs and brush. Embers fly into the air rapidly in a thick cluster and the being bites the shoulder of father wake who had only been a couple of feet closer than he should have. With its mouth and clamps down upon him with a brute jaw force. It pulls him closer and the flames begin to burn his clothes and singe hairs.
As Father Wake’s screams, fill the thick air of the bayou people begin to panic and the creature jerks rapidly around in pain and anger, swinging Wake side to side like a ragdoll. It lets loose of Father Wake and he falls to the ground in devastating pain. The creature throws its head up, casting blood onto most everyone in front of the fire. It looks forward but continues to struggle. It screams its horrible scream into the night and then in a distorted voice it utters words. Words like a humans tongue would.
“Daddy! Daddy!” The ear raping screams carry on, with a few quick interrupting groups of “daddy’s” in-between.
It jerks forward one more time and the logs and brush feeding the fire comes falling with it. The entity lands on Father Wake with the weight of itself, logs, and heat of the fire as well. It extends its neck and looks up at everyone while still screaming.
Its cold empty eyes give an uneasiness that people can feel on them. They emit a feeling of fear. They emit a feeling of guilt and sorrow. They emit a feeling as if it is looking into your soul. As if, it can know everything about you. That feeling that it wants something from you and it is going to take it if given the chance.
Each person in its sight moves aside, everyone except Felix and Elise Smith who can only look back at it because he and she can feel a disturbing and unwanted connection. Everyone watches the creature and observes its desperate attempt to escape the flames and pursue the Smiths. Within a short time, that lasts for what seems like forever to the town’s people passed and the entity is finally silent. Father Wakes son is locked and choked up by shock most of all. The Flames greatly engulf, and consume the body of the monstrosity and Father Wake. The people cannot help but to watch for a few hours on end until the flames become smoldering ash and coals.
For the longest, no one knew what to say or could even comprehend what had happened. Some people returned to their homes while others poked at the remains of the fire. The cross of father wakes necklace along with scraps of his damaged bible was recovered. His oldest and only son gathered everyone to the church for a service. A service for the death of Father Wake, and rejoice for of the entity who was now slain. Had Wake’s son not gathered everyone, most probably would have went on to his or her daily lives of laboring and breathing. However, I suppose that is what happens whenever tragedy or a major event takes place. People are either pissed, sad, or excited and within no time, they forget just what all the commotion was all about. Behind every death, every war, every miracle, achievement, or stepping stone in life there is reaction, and no matter how big it maybe people seems to move on or forget about it all in all.
Today on the other hand, was an exception. Nobody would forget this too soon, and the church service only stirred the tension between everyone.
Everyone in town aside from Ms. Underhill and the children had witness what happened. No one could deny what they saw, or what they heard. Father Wake was dead and so was the entity. The chilling screams still echoed throughout every man and woman’s minds and sent pulsing fear throughout their bodies. Whenever a prayer was said for Father Wake, everyone stood. Everyone bowed his or her head. Everyone took turns speaking kind words and wishing only the best for the unfortunate child of Father Wake who would now live alone.
Henry Wake, son of Thomas Wake, had lost his little brother when his mom was giving birth. His mother did not follow too far behind either. Thomas was his only other relative and just as he was a great father to Henry, he was too a great father to the town as well. His memory would be kept and he would be missed, but the subject quickly changed. After a while of mourning, they moved on to address the entity. How after so long of putting fear into the town, it had finally been put to rest. Then from the back end of the church, someone asked what any of the people ever did to be plagued by the beast? What brought the demon out of hell and to their little town?
“I say the Smiths are to blame,” Edmond says. “It has been seen in their household more than anywhere! We were all at the fire last night! That hell spawn screamed the words, ‘daddy’ and looked at us all! We all moved did we not? Everybody except Felix and Elise Smith… They are to blame for our misfortune!” Eyes dart toward the smiths and whispers fill the room.
“We are to blame? That is ridiculous!” Felix says.
“Is it? Last night was the first time we have seen your wife outside that house of yours in over a year! How did the woman worship? I never once recall the Father visiting your home. Moreover, am I the only person who noticed Ms. Smith’s round belly in those tight dresses whenever we did see her way back when? How about the cradle and toys in your attic Felix?! Were you two expecting a child? A bit early to pick out toys and names for a child whom you have not even a slight idea of what it will be!
“Could it be that you two conjured some short of deal with the devil himself? To have a little girl to name- What was on the cradle… Victoria? Perhaps this is to blame for the demon who terrorized our homes and yours most of all?”
The Smiths are speechless and the church is now restless with commotion and rapid concern. The Smiths lived in a time where God and Church were still something all people held dear and close to them. The idea and amazing reasoning Edmond had just sold to them was enough to get inside people’s heads. Rather this ideal was dropped or carried on the Smith’s lives were ruined because of the cancer known as the human race; who, no matter how pure they believe themselves to be, are vile judgmental creatures. Such accusations could never be left alone or forgotten. No one could disbelieve what he or she had watched the night before. With such evidence coming from Edmond’s tongue how could they ever disbelieve the idea of the Smiths bringing this plague upon them?
Felix takes Elise’s hand and escorts her out of the church. While in motion toward the exit, the rest of the town’s behavior escalated as a result. Everyone began to stand and taunt the Smiths. Some even went as far as to go down on their knees and plead that god forgive their sins, while other’s begged that the Smiths be punished for their supposed taking in a wicked exchange.
The Smiths left and headed onward toward their house. The people stopped just outside the church and encouraged the Smith’s decision to leave. The amount off sorrow and shock in the Smith’s heads was too much. They could not believe that the community would do or believe such things. Felix and Elise were perhaps the wealthiest family in the small town, and while not, originally from this particular town they had been there long enough to establish themselves as part of everyone’s lives. It was as if their family had their roots in that part of this place for years. Yet here they are being cast away like the outsiders they technically are by their closest friends.
All of this madness and it was all because of a chain of unpredictable and unimaginable events and Edmond to open the wound. The Underhill’s and the Smiths were by no means friends and did not share a relationship remotely close to what Felix and Elise once had with the rest of the town. When the smiths first arrived, they brought much to offer the town. Felix was able to use his inheritances to buy a large portion of land that sat just off the bayou. With this land, he pulled his resources to produce cotton and ultimately bring revenue to the small town. The families whom had inhabited the area however, cared not for large development, but rather building just enough for themselves. The Smiths used the revenue from their fields to support the necessities of the small community and expand enough to keep large amounts of people from moving in.
The Smiths investments in the community, and understanding for the preferred desire of the families, who lived there their entire lives, to remain as a small hamlet or village rather than to grow is what allowed them to be welcomed. The families in the community accepted the Smiths and admired Felix. Before all this, Edmond and Jane had contributed much to everyone and the last name Underhill is what people associated with a majority of the crops and a few houses. Edmond was always egotistical and strived to make something for himself rather than the last name he carried- henceforth his hatred toward the Smiths.
As Felix and Elise make their way to the house, Elise insists that Felix confront Edmond and talk things out. She kept on and kept on and Felix remained silent. She knew Felix was pissed and ashamed to of been made a mockery and accused of any interaction with Satan.
“Felix for goodness sake, go back there and speak to Edmond!” Elise finally yells.
“Damn it woman! What is the use? Felix is a snake, and you forget we have only lived here ten years! The people back there all know each other! Their families have grown together for generations! The coals have been stirred, and everyone is automatically going to turn on us! They are in the church right now speaking about us! Gossiping and spreading rumors about us! Our lives are done here. I took my families wealth and pissed it away because of a few backwoods hicks!” Felix shouts.
“So what are we going to do?”
“We are going to reside in our house for a few nights and live our lives like nothing happened. Then, we are going to gather our things and go elsewhere. We have enough put back that we can start new. Maybe move to a large city or out west. Hell, I would even give England another try!”
“What about the fields?”
“What about them? What did I say that you did not comprehend? We will leave the fields, the crops, and the workers behind. Hell, we will forget about growing anything all together! We will get into fishing or move up to New York! I don’t give a damn!”
“I still think you should try speaking with someone. Edmond, or Father Wakes boy, or-“
“Now that is it! I do not want to hear another word about any of this. I will not stoop to these peoples level. They want us out of here; best we get out of here! What do we have to lose? You were with me the first time we headed out into the world. We can do it again and go somewhere people will actually want us. We will go back to London where our families reside if need be.
Now let’s go home and spend the night in peace.”
That night the coals in the fireplace smoldered and Elise laid in her bed staring off. The room was much like the night before and Felix snored loudly in his bed. Elise could not believe what was happening any more than Felix was, but the idea of just leaving after ten years was extreme to her. This house was their first home. Felix built it with his own hands and the town’s people. They had tried to start a family in this home. They had settled down here and had many people whom they are now formally friends. Ten years had accumulated too many memories and first experiences for her to let it all go.
That night Elise threw off her sheets and silently stumbled down the stairs. She made her way down, feeling of every groove and taking in every corner of the house. She let the memories inside her home flow. Nostalgia over whelmed her and the deep thought of leaving left her empty. She gripped the handle to the front doors and stepped out into the night. Once again, she found herself walking barefoot down the path to her home and to the town. The air was warm and humid and the ambient sounds of the summer night reminded her how peaceful and simple her life was before all this demon nonsense and now, here it was again. Eventually she came to the Underhill’s house and knocked upon their door. The door creeks open after sometime and Edmond stands in the doorway.
“Elise… what are you doing here now? Come to endanger us all with a plague again?” Edmond says in a rude tone.
“Is Jane home? I want to have a word with her.” Elise asks.
“Jane is not here. She is watching the Jacques’ children while they are gone.”
After some silence Elise says, “What you said today, why would say such a thing?”
“I said it because it is the truth.”
“You know well that is a lie.”
“I am an Underhill, I do not lie. I will have you know I do not take kind to your sins or accusations.”
“You are a sinner Edmond. Felix had done nothing wrong. You on the other hand are narcissistic and seek only to have yourself looked up to! You are lying and lie constantly! You have even committed Adultery! I would not be surprised if your list of sins went on! Who are you to say who is wicked and who is good? What would you do if I revealed your secret to Jane or the rest of the town? How do you think it would feel to be made a fool and turned away by everyone?”
“So? Who is going to believe you Elise? Let us say you tell them about us those few years ago, now you too have been exposed for yours and my sin. I will confess to adultery and I will swear to God himself that you seduced me. I will tell everyone how you tried to convert me to Satan. How you used some kind of Voodoo from your fields to put me under a spell. How you entered my house with some type of gris gris and made me take you against my will. I will tell them what Felix actually did in that loft, and about the baby… Your loose and lustful lips have given me plenty to share… The beauty is that everyone will have no choice to believe it after last night and all the evidence I stacked on you.”
“You are a wicked man Edmond! You are Satan if I ever saw him!”
“Then let’s make a deal… Take me right here and now. Bed with me and I will tell everyone how I over reacted. You will carry my seed since Jane cannot and we will tell everyone how you and Felix were trying to have a child and were praying in the privacy of your home for a daughter.”
Edmond grips Elise’s wrists with force and leans in toward her before pulling her inside where no one could see.
“Oh my god, you sick bastard! Let go of me! I’ll scream!”
“Oh, I’m sure you will, my darling. You will scream and no one will hear it. Who is even going to come for you if they do hear you? No one knows you are here!” Edmond begins to kiss on Elise, and squeezes her wrists harder. He then begins to try to disrobe her of her nightgown.
“Edmond! Stop it! Help me!” Elise screams out. Edmond keeps going, and Elise is helpless. No matter how hard she tries to move, she is held down with no escape. Edmond is getting what he wants and Elise screams and moves her head around. Despite her hands, going numb Edmond does not let go except for a brief moment to cram a shred of Elise’s nightgown into her mouth.
Edmond lets out a grunt and slows down in his activity. Elise squints her face and cries even harder than before. Edmond removes the shred of fabric from her mouth and she whimpers. Edmond begins to kiss her again.
“The devil’s not done yet Elise. Ready for round two?” Edmond asks. Elise has a spark of cleverness break through the traumatizing clouds in her mind.
“Yes. Yes… please.”
“I knew you would come around. That’s the girl I lust for…”
“Kiss me Edmond…” Elise demands. Edmond smirks and rests his lips on Elise’s lips. She slips her tongue into his mouth and then retreats. After a few times of Elise kissing him and retreating her tongue, Edmond pursues her tongue. Elise grabs his head and bites down with all her jaw power until her teeth meet. Edmond lets out a loud scream and jumps back against the wall holding his mouth. Blood is everywhere and Elise spits the severed tongue out.
Elise makes a sprint for the door and screams into the night. Edmonds yells almost cover up hers. He sprints out of the house toward Elise. Elise runs pass house after house screaming until she falls. Edmond tried to pick her up but she bites his arm. By this time most of the town is awake and exiting their homes. Elise and Edmond however, have already made it a good distance away and into one of the fields.
First, the thorns of the cotton prick and cut Elise’s feet causing a shrill pain and lots of bleeding. As she slows down Edmond speeds up and the town follows the yells from afar. Eventually Elise cuts into a bordering cornfield and tries to cut a path to first lose Edmond and then return to her home. She sprints but yet again, she trips and rolls over a few stalks of corn. She hits a wooden post, and straws of hay from the above scarecrow fall down onto her. Edmond catches up still losing a lot of blood and unable to make words when he attempts to speak. Elise screams and Edmond yells, grunts, and throws blood everywhere. He begins to batter Elise in multiple places but mostly focusing on her face.
Suddenly something plants two limbs on each side of Edmond. Edmond looks up slowly and then falls backward. Elise lays on the ground with her eyes aching and her jaw broken. She manages to lift herself up and looks at the figure that stands above Edmond. She slowly inches up the scarecrow post and watches. The being standing inches away from her and above Edmond is none other than the entity from the previous night. It looks back at Elise and then to Edmond. With a horrific scream, it grasps him in its lanky hands and its fingers squeeze his sides until they penetrate his flesh. Its fingers then start digging in-between his rib cage. Edmond coughs up blood as well as spits some from his mouth and is dropped to the ground. He rolls around forcing out gargled screams, as he dies a slow death. The entity looks to Elise again for an extended period and then retreats into the field until it is out of sight. Elise looks back at Edmond and past him is a majority of the town’s people who are trying to assess the short glimpse they had captured of Edmond’s death and Elise’s connection to it.
Elise staggers toward them, terrified with hopes of comfort and salvation, but they back away in fear. The people turn and run away leaving Elise behind. She tries her hardest to walk through the field afraid of what may be out there with her and franticly, desperately trying to get home to Felix. Within minutes, she finds her way to the house, in pain, bruised, and exhausted. She screams for Felix and bursts into the house. Falling only a few times, she makes her way through the large house and up the stairs. Felix runs out of their room and listens to Elise screams in the darkness of the hallway. Her voice is trembling and near but Felix cannot see her.
Felix feels for the crimson curtains that cover the windows and jerks them to the sides. Faint moonlight enters the hall way and stretches down it. Elise’s face has already began to scab and is swollen so much that not even Felix could identify his once beautiful wife. Her feet are caked with blood and her nightgown is torn and draped on her like tattered rags. Her lovely blue eyes are not visible past her squinting and what little bit can be seen just glistens like a dark ink. Felix runs screaming out his wife’s name in concern. He grabs her and pulls her in close, squeezing her so hard as if he would keep her pressed to him for eternity and never let go.
“Elise! Oh God Elise, what has happened to you?!” Felix says.
“Felix, Felix we have to go! We have to go now! We have to leave! Edmond is dead, and the monster is still alive! It is not going to leave us alone! Everyone saw! Everyone thinks I did it! They are going to hurt us!” Elise screams frantically and tries to force out.
Felix tries his hardest to understand what Elise is saying. He tries to hear past her swollen cheeks and broken jaw, to make something out of all of her frantic screams and broken sentences being forced out.
“Elise, slow down! You are safe now! Let us get you into bed and cleaned up!” A rock bursts through the window at the other end of the hallway. Yells are now heard coming from outside the house.
“Get your ass out here, Smith’s!” A voice screams up.
“Follow your Satan, see where it gets you?” Another voice screams.
“There is blood on your hands, Smith’s!”
“You had better pray for mercy, Elise!”
“We know you commanded that demon to kill Mr. Underhill!”
“You better hide! We are coming in for you and your whore wife, Felix!”
Within moments of the various screams from the mob outside, the front doors down below are thrown open. Restless and angry feet of the entire town are storming the house. Sounds of furniture and china being broken are heard echoing throughout the home. Felix throws Elise’s arm over his shoulder and proceeds into one of the rooms amongst the hall to hide.
“We know you are in here somewhere! You’re a smart man Felix, not stupid enough to hide in your own room, right?” A voice calls from down stairs.
“Regardless, if we cannot find you, we will just burn this fucking place to the ground!” Another voice yells sounding about midway up the first set of stairs.
Elise moans and screams stifled sounds as Felix holds her close to him and tries to comfort her.
“It is all right, Elise. They are not going to hurt us.” Felix whispers to her.
The commotion and rampage from downstairs has spread its way to the upper part of the house, and rapidly but one by one, the doors in the hallway are kicked in. Bam! A door is opened. Elise lets out a quick and short squeal each time. Finally, the door in which Felix and Elsie take refuge behind is kicked. At first it does not open, but alarms Elise. With a few good hits, the door comes completely off its hinges and falls inward with a hard crash. Elise starts to scream and Felix now starts to shed tears as he can only imagine the possibilities that will come after this moment.
“Here they are! The two Satanists are hiding in the dark! Perhaps we should show them the light!” Someone calls out.
A mob instantaneously swarms the room and a handful of people rush into the dark. Multiple hands grab Elise and Felix and rip them from each other’s arms. Felix and Elise are beaten and dragged out of their house. On the front lawn of the Smith’s house only feet from their doorsteps, Felix is held up, but restrained.
The group dragging Elise takes her further away from the home and tosses her already abused body onto the ground. They curse her, spit on her, and shout out bible verses and passage titles. Finally, they back away and a man from the mob begins to yell at the top of his lungs. Everyone moves as he walks toward Felix and makes eye contact with the crying man. He snaps and waves over Father Wake’s boy. Henry walks over to Felix and asks him for forgiveness, and then begins to shame him for his supposed affiliation with the devil and his entities.
“Do you have anything to say Mr. Smith?” Henry asks.
“Why? Why are you doing this? I have nothing to do with the devil! My wife has nothing to do with him either! Is it because of what Edmond said? Do you want to know the truth? We were planning on a child, but for God’s sake, we never made any intentional contact with Satan! Elise was pregnant, yes… but that thing from the other night was not from us!” Felix cries out.
“You say she was pregnant, and that you have no connection with Satan, then what of the child?”
“You want to know about the child? Do you want to know about our little Victoria? She was our little girl! She was a miracle!”
“You mean to tell me you two delivered a child in your home? Why keep her a secret? Where is she? What do you mean a miracle? The child was miracle from God, or was she a miracle from Satan? Tell us!”
“She was a miracle from God! From God I tell you! She was a stillborn! She was cold and dead from the moment she exited the womb and the damnedest thing happened! Her eyes were no longer pale and lifeless! God had given life to our little girl! She was alive and screaming! She was warm and full of joy when Elise and I held her close to us and smiled because for some unexplainable reason God had given our lifeless child life again!”
“Where is the girl now Felix?” Felix has no response but crying after this question. “Where is the child Felix?”
“You said that God himself had given life to this child. What do you mean dead?”
“We wanted to keep her our little secret. We were going to wait to show the town. We wanted to surprise everyone at church whenever her first Christmas came around. We were going to bring her to the church and spread the word of what the lord had done for us as well as introduce her to all the wonderful people!”
“What do you mean dead? I did not ask you your intentions! I want to know what you mean when you say she is dead!”
“Our beautiful girl… she wasn’t normal! There was something wrong with her! I was in the loft carving out her cradle one night while she crawled in the floor and played! She had gotten ahold of a rat somehow! It was in her mouth!”
“Children take hold of things; it is only natural that curiosity takes over! What do you mean dead, damn it?!”
“The rat was the least of my worries. I could take my mind off a filthy rat. She had two dents on each side of her head! I thought nothing of it at first, why would I? Within a few days, they had filled in. I still thought nothing of it! They just kept filling and filling! The child had horns in a matter of weeks! She would sleep in the loft at night and she would laugh! She would giggle and she would make noises! She made them at someone! I stayed up in the loft one night! I tried to ignore the horns, and the weird behavior, but I had to draw the line at some point!
I pulled a chair right next to her cradle and I stayed up all night by her side as she slept. I stayed up until I myself fell asleep and then heard her laugh… I woke up and the light of the moon shined off her beautiful skin! She was laughing at something! I stood up and I looked at her. I pulled her out of the cradle and I held her out in front of me! I made silly faces and laughed with her but she did not laugh anymore! She stares blankly at me and then she started to cry. I threw her over my shoulder and tried to calm her down! I looked around the loft and across the room; I had a looking glass propped up in my direction. There I could see my baby girl and me! Satan himself was behind me! He was tall and sported the head of a goat! His torso was pale and malnourished looking and he yelled at me! The looking glass shattered and I could feel my heart racing! So I carried Victoria to mine and Elise’s room and I locked the door!”
“And what happened then, Felix?” Henry says after a long pause of silence.
“I woke up my wife and I made her hide in the corner with me! We all three sat there and I told her we needed to get rid of this child! Victoria was the devil’s own! She shamed me for saying such things and refused to get rid of her pride and joy no matter what she was! She said that it was our baby girl and she was right! I loved that child and I would have never done anything to hurt her!
The voices came! The devil came to me in the night! Every night! He whispered terrible and sweet nothings to me! He showed me things I could not un-see. He showed me horrific lies of my wife and Edmond bedding together! He showed me visions of all of you! He showed me my sweet little girl as a wicked killer. She sat on a pile of your mutilated corpses! Therefore, I did what I believed right!
Satan took my pride and joy away from me, so I was going to take away his. One night, while Elise was asleep I went up to the damned loft to check on Victoria, but this time I took a hatchet with me. I prayed to God I could be forgiven. I hoped that I was doing the right thing. I told myself that it had to be… I hacked my beautiful, sweet little Victoria into five pieces and then wrapped her up and hid the corpse!” Felix is now in full-blown tears.
“You never once thought of calling my father to your home did you? You let Satan into your home, and you killed your own flesh and blood? How can we believe Satan did not bestow a plague over us because of your actions? Because you saw fit to play God and take a little girl out of this world, because you thought it was too late to save her. Felix…” Henry goes silent, “I’m sorry…”
Henry Wake walks away from the crowd and back toward the town. Everyone stands in silence for a moment and then begin to shout hideous things again. The town’s people beat Felix and Elise once more. Before too long a scream is heard and it is ear piercing. The entity is standing only a few feet from the people and walks un-naturally around the crowd. It keeps its hands together, its arms bent, and it screams at everyone as if to warn them off as a snake would when coiled and hissing.
Everyone stops what he or she is doing and starts to panic until one man screams, “Burn the bitch!” A lantern is thrown down and smashes right beside Elise. The fire spreads quickly and the flame catches Elise’s tattered gown. Elise is now in full-fledged screaming, even louder than when Edmond had tried to kill her earlier. Felix starts to scream and tries to crawl toward Elise, but everyone restrains him and makes him watch. The entity begins to walk toward the crowd of people and screams even more violently now. It runs and snatches up someone and within the blink of an eye; it unbelievably lifts a man above its head with its long and slender arms and rips him in half.
Everyone begins to flea opposite of the demon and tramples Felix in the process. The entity screams and it tears people limb from limb violently, brutally, and it leaves behind a trail of death and gore. Countless screams and gut churning sounds of peoples bodies shredding fills the night. Back in town, Henry hears the terrible sounds and stops in his tracks. He sits and he listens, for it is all he can do in the paralyzed state he is in. He grips his father’s cross firmly in his palm and he begins to pray repeatedly. He calls out to Jesus and God and attempts to drown out the dreadful sounds that fill the empty space for miles and miles. Suddenly there is silence. There are no more disturbing sounds of carnage or the blood chilling screams of the demon, men, and women. Instead, there is a silence and Henry opens his eyes that were firmly closed before. He breathes heavily and looks at the ground straight ahead. He shakes and his skin turns a ghostly white. He could not think. He could not move. Should he run for the church and take refuge? Should he gather the now orphaned children from their homes and try to keep them safe in the church? Should he even bother turning around to face what might be waiting?
The last option was the only one he felt he could manage and he forced with every bit of fear in his bones to turn around. Ever so slowly, he moved his feet inch by inch. When he rotated to where his back once faced a severed head smashed onto the ground and broke open where his feet were planted, and then more silence. Blood seeped from the mangled and unrecognizable mess that was once a person’s cranium. Henry sat there petrified, fell to his knees, and looked off into the distance.
For years, this creature would remain dormant for the most part, but the legacy of the Smith’s, depictions of the demon, and stories would always carry on. This town had been plagued by something wicked and unexplainable. A massacre had taken place here and only one man and a handful of children were spared in the dreadful events that took place. Henry sat there in the silence. Not even ambient sounds carried now. Henry wondered what would happen next. Why had he not been slain with everyone else? There was only silence now. Silence and horrors…
The silence was interrupted yet again, as doors opened and frightened children come out of their homes and look to Henry…
There was something grim about Scarlet that dragged good people into it. An essence that gave a charming yet deceiving smile with false promises that welcomed opportunity. The town plagued its inhabitance as well as the people outside of it.
Felix and Elise were two such people who believed in the promises, but bathed in the misfortune that washed over the forsaken place. Some even believe whatever it was that made this place an evil, a true hell on earth, started with that young couple. Scarlet’s history was like a chess game, the town verses the people in a game where the innocent always lost. Pawns constantly entered the field and changed the board. There were advocates for Satan that kept the fodder coming and thrived off the terrible things that happened here…
It was Monday October 1, 1979. The cool fall weather has already moved in and replaced the summer heat. Approximately eleven and a half miles of dense forest separated the town of Black Cat from Scarlet. Despite the largeness of Scarlet, it was still a somewhat, desolate rural area at this time, with a population below an estimate of around seven hundred people. Black Cat on the other hand, while much smaller, was suburbanized with houses butted up to one another for a few square miles.
Vince Shelly sped down the road on his bicycle, sending countless leaves dancing into the catching fall breeze. His front wheel wobbled and his backpack was slung over his shoulder with one strap. Resting in his right hand was his Walkman turned up as loud as possible. Almost every house he passed was “decked out” for Halloween. Halloween in Black Cat was perhaps their biggest and most celebrated holiday next to Christmas. The town had many festivities for the holiday and a lot of it came from the chilling folklore of Scarlet. After crossing a few streets and cutting across neighborhoods, Vince was coming up to his high school.
Unexpectedly, a football coming from Vince’s right spiraled a path that struck his face and threw him off his bike, which slid down the strip of road that cut in and out of the school grounds. His backpack fell off his shoulder before he himself made impact with the concrete sidewalk and tumbled a few times.
“What in the hell?!” Vince called out as he rubbed his scrape marks.
“Oh relax. A little pain might toughen you up a bit man.” Ivan Price says as he lifts up Vince’s bike.
“Yeah maybe, but you could chill out man. Just because you made the football team doesn’t mean you get to be a prick.” Vince jokingly says while dusting himself off.
“You could have been on it. The coach was all about you until you drank his last beer, and spoiled the ending of that Alien movie for him.”
Vince takes a few steps and then picks up his Walkman. The tape had quit turning and whenever he put on the earphones there was no sound to be heard. No matter how many times he pushed a button, it seemed to be pointless.
“Awe man, shit, my parents just bought me this thing for my birthday too!”
“Oh man! That was only yesterday right? I am sorry man. But hey, maybe they will buy you another?”
“No way… Do you know how much this thing costs?”
“Yeah, but your parents are made of money! I was working the other day and saw your mom pick up a VCR and a game system, man.”
“Yeah well, my parents expect me to work for my things, Ivan. Besides, if it was my mom buying stuff it was probably because she got the old man excited.”
“Or because she is the neighborhood bicycle…”
Vince shakes his head at Ivan in denial, takes his bike by the handlebars, and walks away. Ivan was a good kid, but he could be obnoxious and inconsiderate. Even still, he was probably Vince’s closest friend.
Vince proceeded into the school after locking his bike up. By this time the bells had already rang throughout the hall and he was late for Chemistry. This was perhaps the worse way to start the week after being late every day of the previous one. His teacher, Mr. Cooper, did not take kindly to students being late to his science lab.
Vince walked to the classroom. He peered through the small glass pane in the door, and past the blinds that concealed the classroom. There was no sign of Mr. Cooper anywhere. Just to be sure, he pecked the glass a few times, just hard enough that a nearby student could hear. The girl whom he had caught the attention of looked at him quizzically and then reached over and turned the doorknob for him. Vince quickly ran into the room and quietly sprinted to his lab station. He set his bag down and began to take a seat. For the first time in a while, he had managed to sneak into class successfully. Suddenly from beneath the table, Mr. Cooper grabbed his leg and yelled, “Gotcha’!” as loud as he possibly could in a raspy voice.
“Oh shit!” Vince called out. He tipped his stool back and fell onto the floor.
“Are you late for class again, Mr. Shelly? It is only Monday! That is not a good start.”
“Yeah, well hitting my head on the ground twice in ten minutes is not a good start either… What are you wearing?”
“This? This is my face paint! It is October. You know what that means class?” Mr. Cooper stands up on the lab table.
“You clearly have some mental problems?” Vince asks.
“Yes! No… Take a seat Mr. Shelly.” Mr. Cooper pulls out a cigar, bends down, and lights it with the lab equipment, “It means it is Halloween. So today instead of boring work or another potentially hazardous, experiment… I am looking at you Jimmy… We will be discussing some of Black Cats organized events and attractions this year.”
“Sure why not… I do not think I can concentrate very well at this point anyways.” Vince says. Mr. Cooper steps off the lab table. Walking toward the back of the class, he kicks Vince’s seat out from under him on the way, “Whoa! Ouch, son of a… Why?” Vince asks.
“Because I can and because no one in this room cares!” Mr. Cooper yells in his raspy voice while holding rocker’s devil horns with both his hands. The class erupts in laughter and another student lifts his hand. “Yes?” Mr. Cooper asked.
“Are you positive your first name isn’t Alice?” The student jokingly asked.
“Chris? Shut hell up.” More laughter erupts and Chris hunches over his lab table.
“You are being really obnoxious today, man.” Vince says to Mr. Cooper.
“Perhaps… I am sorry you feel that way. So why don’t you decide our Halloween discussion today?”
“I thought you were-” Vince was cut off.
“I was going to discuss the festivities, yes, but since you are the one with the possible brain damage and attitude I’ll let you decide. Come on. Give me something scary. Perhaps you could give the class a story. You are one of those writer types, are you not? ”
Vince was a writer, but it was all personal stuff. He did not care for sharing his works with anyone, and did not believe anyone cared. Even his articles for the school newspaper were tossed aside by he, himself, most of the time. He was on the spot though. Mr. Cooper actually wanted him to deliver to the class. It could have been anything. It could have been the story he wrote last night, or the poem based off the Twilight Zone rerun he watched a few nights ago.
However, none of that seemed good enough. Vince needed something unique, and so he pondered for a brief couple of seconds. Everyone in the class was fixated on him. Mr. Cooper stared intensely with his strange face paint. What could possibly make for a good chiller? He thought a bit longer, and had decided he would set it in Black Cat. No… He would set it based off the mythos of the neighboring town.
“Okay then, this story takes place in the town of Scarlet…” Vince said with a dramatic tone. The class let out a few whispers.
“Scarlet? Take the stage Mr. Shelly! Give us all you got.” Mr. Cooper said while stepping on the lab table once again, this time, lifting Vince with him.
“That’s right, Scarlet! The town where people go to die! Where children and grownups disappear, and are sometimes found mutilated! A few miles away from us, some closer than others, is a town separated by dense, dark, and terrifying woods… Some people say that if you enter Scarlet, you had better leave before sundown and you should never take your children!”
A dark haired girl with blue eyes and a striped sweater looked over at Vince and scanned over him. Other kids whispered back and forth, and some sat in complete silence as Vince talked with his hands and changed the pitch of his voice. Soon Vince began to leap lab table to lab table.
“The people in these parts are inbred psycho paths! They live in complete sin and worship creepy scarecrows called Scarlet Children… It is said the scarecrows were to of been conjured up deep in the Okefenokee Swamp by occultist. Most say that the occults can be traced back to the town’s founders; Felix and Elise Smith…” Vince jumps onto the table of the dark haired girl and she scowls at him.
“Clearly you have never set foot in Scarlet.” The dark haired girl says.
“Excuse me?” Vince asks as if completely by reflex.
“You seriously know nothing about Scarlet or the people who live in it! You are dancing around like an idiot and sputtering bullshit! How about you pretend to be a real writer and do some fact checking?”
“Jesus, calm down. I was only trying to tell a story! What about you anyways? Have you ever been in Scarlet?”
“I live in Scarlet for your information! We may have our strange beliefs and superstitions, but I assure you it is for good reason! I dare you to stay one night in that place asshole!” The girl is now red in the face and increasingly agitated.
“Okay, that is enough! Why don’t you go to the restroom and calm down for a bit? Vince, get off the table.” Mr. Cooper says; still on a lab table himself.
The girl grudgingly walked out of the class and slammed the door. Vince sat at his table wondering what in the world just happened. Once again, the class is rowdy and frantically discussing the conflict that just broke out. Mr. Cooper stepped out of the room for a few minutes. At first, Vince reflected on how he could have been in the wrong, but ultimately brushed it off as ignorance. She was just the silent girl who sat in the corner of all his classes. Maybe she had a rough day, or maybe whatever fueled her silence finally broke her. Perhaps Vince was just an easy opportunity for the cunt to blow a little steam off.
Mr. Cooper returned to the classroom, and dismissed everyone to go outside for the remainder of the time. Everyone except Vince walked out the door. Vince knew what this was all about. It was time for a talk with the teacher regarding what happened.
“Mr. Shelly, do you know what set that girl off?” Mr. Cooper asked in an exhausted tone.
“No, sir; I do not. I am not even sure what her name is.”
“I did not either, until just now. I actually did not know she was in this class honestly. That girl was Alison Poe. I will admit that she is a ‘strange’ child, but she has lived in Scarlet her whole life. Personally, I liked where you were taking things mood wise, but she is right. You are ignorant to that town. The people there have their reasoning behind their allusiveness, and their superstitions.”
“Maybe, but I fail to see why that matters.”
“You called the people inbred occult members. What about her or her family?”
“Do you see where I am coming from now Mr. Shelly? I would imagine just from observing how she acts around people, and her evidential tendencies, that she is insecure. Probably does not have many friends. Shocking we have yet to see her face on the missing posters really. Do you believe you owe her an apology?”
“I guess that would be the right thing to do.” Mr. Cooper patted Vince on the back and escorted him out of the classroom.
Vince never apologized that day, but did consider it deeply in the days following. Typically, Vince did not care about what happened. It was still all so stupid. Every day in his classes, he would occasionally think about it, and glance over at Alison from afar. Often she would be looking at him as well, but not in a pleasant way. She gave the old “Stink eye” to him.
Mid October, Vince would be attending some of Black Cat’s festivities. He, Chris, and Ivan were going around town from haunted house to haunted house. Occasionally, they may have stopped for a corn maze or whatever attraction was in-between. This night was just like the previous nights. It was fun, and thrilling. Every day the town had an even bigger event leading up to Halloween. Toward the end of the night, they decided to check out the local park and see what was going on.
“Man that was the best haunted house all month!” Chris yelled in objection to Ivan’s previous statement.
“No way… All these houses have been a joke. We should have just stayed home and watched The Exorcist or The Omen! You know what I mean dude? Find something actually scary?” Vince said.
“I still like that first house. Even though the kids in this place have better costumes than the haunted houses…” Ivan said.
Music played loudly throughout the park. Hundreds of kids walked around and wondered the carnival like grounds.
“Do you fella’s want to ride the Ferris wheel or try apple bobbing?” Chris asks.
“Chris, are you kidding me? A group of guys do not ride a Ferris wheel together. That is queer. But I suppose when you are ‘bobbing’ for stuff you probably are anyways right?” Ivan pokes fun at Chris.
“Go jump off a bridge man. You are definitely the queer!”
“Will you two cut it out? There are little kids everywhere.” Vince intervenes.
Some ways away, a kissing booth sits next to the Ferris wheel. An attractive blonde young woman is crouched over the counter of the booth. This catches Ivan’s attention.
“Hey check it out, Vince! It is your mom!” Ivan roughly nudges Vince, causing him to spill his popcorn.
“Yeah… It is my mom. What do you know? Why don’t you stop eye-balling her cleavage and buy me another bag of popcorn?”
“Here twerp, go buy your popcorn. I am going to pull some moves on Ms. Shelly… Come on Chris.”
“Hey! Come one man, do not be a prick!”
“Relax Vince, I will just swoop in, nab a kiss, and we will be on our way. You do not have to call me daddy or anything… yet…” Ivan says as him and Chris walk away.
Vince reluctantly turned and walked over to a nearby stand and stood in line. He looked around impatiently for a bit and toward the Farris wheel, but could not see the guys. He was thankful for this. The last thing he wanted to see, let alone imagine, had to be his mother and Ivan, or god forbid, Chris’s ugly mug. A cool breeze blew his hair into his eyes for a moment. He readjusted his coat and brushed his hair out of his eyes.
Within a few minutes, Vince would be near the front of the line for concessions. He counted how much money Ivan had gave him to screw off, while he wooed Vince’s mother. One… two… four… There was a lot more money than Vince needed and counting.
“I’m sorry; I thought I might have enough change for it. I cannot believe I lost my wallet!” A voice comes from in front of Vince.
“Hey, it’s all good. Give the lady whatever she wants and me a popcorn. I will cover it.” Vince lays down a few dollars onto the stand.
The man working the concessions stand hands a candy apple to the girl, and a bag of popcorn to Vince. Vince, not paying any mind to the girl who he now stood beside, took his popcorn and change. He turned and finally looked to the side, and was face to face with the dark haired girl from school.
“Oh. What’s up Alison?” Vince says sheepishly.
“Thank you.” She says.
“It was no problem. I guess it is the least I can do after being a… um…”
“Harsh, but I guess I deserved that.”
“Yes you did.”
“Right, so are you here with you friends or folks?”
“Oh, well maybe I can show you around?”
“I am capable of showing myself around.”
“Alright well, you have fun then. Alone.”
Vince walked off discouraged by Alison’s attitude. All he was trying to do is be nice to that weirdo. Vince began to make his way back toward the Farris wheel to meet up with Ivan and Chris. Suddenly a kid dressed as a clown ran by and snatched his bag of popcorn. “Hey!” Vince yelled. He began to chase the child but another one crouched in front of him causing him to fall flat on his face.
“Seriously, you are so pitiful…” Alison says. She reached down and picked Vince up.
“I’m going to be completely brain damaged before the month is over.” Vince says.
“Probably… come on.”
“I thought you were going to be a mopey loner all night?”
“Well everything happens for a reason I guess, besides I cannot seem to resist events like this.”
“Alright I guess? I must have hit my head harder than I thought… So what do you want to do?”
“Farris wheel looks pretty fun.”
“Alright, that sounds choice actually. Please tell me you are going to talk more than this, right?” Alison starts to walk toward the Farris wheel. “Hey! Come on that’s not cool!”
Vince takes a short jog to catch up to Alison, and then waits patiently in line for the Ferris wheel. Vince is silent. The silence is not miserable but it was not, necessarily uncomfortable either. It was that shared silence. It was a pleasant kind of silence, which two people could share with one another.
The line moved at a steady rate, but it was still slow to the two of them. Alison gave a quick glance at Vince, and sometimes a small grin would be seen fighting her natural brooding facial expression. Looking around, Vince had just remembered that somewhere nearby his obnoxious friends were near, and would be sure to tease him and make inappropriate gestures toward him and Alison. Vince Shelly… seen with Alison Poe…
The wheel stopped and a couple stepped off. Vince and Alison now sat next to each other on the ride. Slowly they began to escalate into the air. As they went up however, Ivan and Chris came walking out of a crowd near the kissing booth. Vince could see both of them zipping up their pants and then Ivan pointing in his direction. Chris fumbles trying to buckle his belt and then gives up to wave both arms at Vince. Vince raises one hand and lifts his middle finger toward the two. Alison giggles and does the same thing. Soon, Vince finds himself laughing as well. Ivan and Chris take off running toward the Ferris wheel. Chris’s pants fall to his ankles and he trips. Ivan however, appears to be speaking to the ride operator. Suddenly, the Ferris wheel stops with Alison and Vince suspended as high as they possibly could be.
“What happened?” Alison asks.
“Ivan happened…” Vince mutters.
“Are they going to get us moving again?”
“Probably not anytime soon…”
It is silent again. The lights below are amazing and look even more magical from above than they do below. The seats of the Farris wheel rock back and forth, creating a faint moan and screech of metal. Vince reaches into his coat and pulls out a cigarette and a pack of matches. He then turns his attention to the night sky, and finally to Alison. She is looking opposite of his direction toward Scarlet. Forest and fields stretch on toward the horizon, with what appears to be a few street lit areas here and there. It looks so peaceful. Perhaps, Vince thought, maybe he was actually wrong. Maybe he judged the place too soon. It certainly looked like a beautiful place from his perspective now.
“It actually looks like a really nice place.” Vince flicks his cigarette butt.
“Oh so now it’s nice?” Alison says looking over at him.
“What can I say? I suppose it is all just a matter of perspective.”
Scarlet is void of light aside from a few houses spread out across the vast space, and again what may had been street lights following along streets. Alison moves a little and takes her hands off the safety bar. She crosses her arms and tries to keep warm. Her hair blows in Vince’s face and it smells pleasant.
“The town would have been what Black Cat is now. Scarlet is a cancer. It brings in wonderful people and places them in terrible circumstances. Sometimes, most of the time, things cannot be explained. It is said, that when the town was founded there was a family. You mentioned them a few weeks ago. Felix and Elise Smith were their names.
The history is a bit fuzzy, and not many people can tell you about it. Supposedly, they were a young couple who moved here before it was really established. They brought wealth, business, and all kinds of things. However, some people think that they also brought something else with them, something unnatural. Throughout the town’s history since then, there have been unexplained events. Movement of those creepy scarecrows, missing children, murder… Not all of it is blamed on the paranormal either. Some people think that it could be something in the water or in the air. Something in Scarlet compels people to do wicked things, and it often hurts the innocent.” Alison tells.
“So that is why Scarlet never grew into Black Cat?” Vince asks.
“A few decades ago, post-World War Two, they tried to suburbanize Scarlet. The houses, streets, and cul-de-sacs we have here in Black Cat would have expanded across most of Scarlet. They had cleared most of the land around 1956, but it never worked out. There are only empty streets, spots houses would have been, and needless light poles now. ”
“Well why not?”
“The scarecrows… they call them Scarlet Children. The contractors who were to construct the neighborhoods did not take any of the towns stories seriously, and kept returning for the longest. Most of these said people from outside of Scarlet blame the people who lived there for the murders and disappearances that occurred. The residents however ignored them because, even though no one likes to acknowledge it, they know what actually happened. The folklore was not the only thing to scare them away, sadly. It’s what everyone found the last time the circus was in town that put a kibosh on everything.”
“I would have packed up and left too, if it were that bad!”
“It is not easy to leave Scarlet after it has taken claim of you. It is like paying the devil his due.”
“How is it you can leave anytime you please to come out here?”
“I do not know. Maybe I have paid my dues?” Alison chuckles.
“Alright, now you are just playing with me! It cannot be that bad!” Vince laughs.
“There you go again ‘Mr. Writer’… You would not last one night in Scarlet without pissing yourself!” She punched Vince’s arm.
“Is that a challenge I hear?”
“Perhaps it is.”
“Alright then, how about we do it tonight?”
“Not tonight. We will make it even more worthwhile. How about on Halloween night? You can bring your friends along since you all appear to enjoy scary things. Besides, you are too amusing to let go of tonight.”
The Farris wheel began to turn once more and Vince and Alison began to descend. Chris and Ivan’s taunting yells could be heard faintly from below as they came down to earth. Chris began rolling on the ground laughing while Ivan made stupid kissy faces and moaned. Alison giggled and nudged Vince. The two flipped off Ivan and Chris once again.
Vince scooted out of his seat and walked off the ride. He then turned and offered his hand to help Alison step off the ramp. Vince looked at Alison for a long while, perhaps longer than he should. He was not in love, but knew he had just met someone he was fond of. Perhaps it was a minor form of a lust. The kind of attraction you gain to new people when you first meet; nothing major, but something that compels you to see or speak to that person again sometime.
Alison squeaked out a quick, “Thank you.” Then she walked off into the park grounds, most likely heading home. Vince sat there watching her until she became completely obscured from his sight. Vince turned to his friends who he had absolutely managed to drown out the sound of. Chris gets up from the ground dusting himself off, and peeling a used Band-Aid from his face.
“Boy Vince your mom was a real over achiever for us at that kissing booth. It looks like you are not so shabby yourself! What all did you and the weird girl do up there?” Chris asks.
“I cannot believe you guys! Firstly, that is my mom, so fuck off! Secondly, why do you assume we did anything? You are the pricks who got me stuck up there in the first place!” Vince yells.
“Chill man! Your mom and us were just exchanging some, ‘apple bobbing’ techniques! Also, man, you cannot tell me you did not enjoy your time up there with her.” Ivan defends himself.
“One day Ivan… something terrible is going to happen to you. You are right though man… It was pretty fly… She invited, well challenged us more like, to stay one whole night in Scarlet on the thirty-first.”
“Scarlet? You are kidding right?” Chris says concerned.
“What you pussy cats too afraid of a little folklore to do it?” Vince asks.
“I’m not afraid! You are on man!” Ivan says.
The proceeding weeks went on and Black Cat continued its festivities. Vince and Alison spent much time together and grew closer as the days went by. Before anyone knew it, Halloween had crept up on everyone. It was now Wednesday October 31, 1979. Vince, Alison, and Chris would endure another one of Mr. Coopers strange Halloween fixated class sessions, and Ivan would be drinking with the school’s coach out on the field.
As the minutes passed Ivan bragged to the football team about how he was going to stay the entire night in Scarlet. Chris, despite being a horror lover, trembled and periodically worried himself sick. Vince chronicled multiple different outcomes in his notebook. Most of the scenarios were written out in words, but every so often, he would sketch out an illustration of what he was picturing in his mind. Finally, Alison, who had long since moved from the corner of her classes watched as Vince wrote in his notebook, unaware of her wandering eyes presence.
When the final bell rang, every one of them met up in the school’s foyer to establish a meeting place for that night. Vince was excited. He was almost trembling and could not wait for the fun tonight would bring. All he could imagine was himself out lasting Ivan and Chris, and maybe even spending some alone time with the beautiful Alison Poe.
“So tonight, we are going to meet up in front of the old oil jack field right?” Ivan asked.
“I said the most useless thing in Black Cat. Have you ever seen those things actually work? No. Because they belong out west…” Chris said.
“I do not care guys, come on. Are you going to be there tonight or not?” Vince said. Everyone said yes.
“Great. I will see you all there then. Make sure you bring things to make yourself comfortable. It is going to be a really long night.” Alison says.
One by one, some later than others, they all met up. Vince sat against an old oak tree with his bike alone until Alison eventually walked from over the nearby hill. Ivan soon followed, and Chris ran late as ever. The sun was setting and the moon was in its waxing phase. Vince gleefully led the group to the Forest that separated Black Cat and Scarlet. It was a long trip through the woods, but a trail had been cut into the forest, and Vince managed to balance Alison on the back pegs of his bicycle. Vince consulted his watch after a long and tiring bike ride. It was somewhere around eleven twenty pm.
The closer to midnight, the better it was, because it was even more fun. Halloween night was not truly over until dawn broke and then Vince would prove to be victorious. They all got off their bikes and Alison led them to an old shack in the middle of a field. She had already prepared wood for a fire and cleared out a spot for everyone to sit.
Ivan took a little bit of his dirty magazine from his back pocket and crammed it between the sticks in the pile, and lit it with one of Vince’s matches. Within no time, they were all sitting around the fire in silence. Vince pulled out his flash light and waved it around a bit in the sky.
“Man you have it all don’t you? That is a really nice flash light man!” Chris says.
“This? This is my dad’s old light. He threw it in the garage when he got that really nice one.” Vince says.
Vince’s light casts a faint beam into the night. Across the field, a blacked out figure hangs with ragged clothing blowing in the fall wind. Vince gasps and smacks Ivan’s shoulder extends his finger in the direction of his light.
“What man?” Ivan asks.
“It is one of them! It is one of the Scarlet Children from the story!”
“No way man… Alison over there is playing a prank on us. She probably set that scare crow out there to frighten us, but I am not going to chicken out of this!”
“I did not set it up.” Alison says.
“How do we know you are telling the truth you little monster?” Chris asks.
“Because had I set it up… I would not have been able to move it closer to us just now.” Alison continues.
All eyes dart back to the supposed Scarlet Child, which is now substantially closer to them than before. A chill runs down Vince’s spine and his heart rate picked up for a moment.
“Nice parlor trick, doll face, but you are still not scaring me. Who did you get to come out here and move it?” Ivan mutters.
“I told you Scarlet has reasons for its superstitions… Too bad we still have a whole night ahead of us…” Alison says in a creepy, smooth, mellow tone.
“I think I want to go to sleep in the shack now guys.” Chris says.
“Go to sleep? Please, you want to make it through this night don’t you, Chris?” Vince says.
“Yeah, Alison probably has the thing set up with something to frighten us, or she will wait for us to sleep so that she can sneak away and freak us out.” Ivan once again mocks.
“How about we share stories instead?” Alison suggests.
“I can take on anything you try to scare us with… So bring it on, Alison.” Vince says confidently, “Tell the other two here about Scarlet. Tell them about the history and the ‘Devil’s Dues…’”
With a devious smirk, Alison begins to tell everything she knows about Scarlet. About an hour or two passes and everyone has managed to creep one another out thoroughly. It was entertaining, and time seemed to fly by fast, even with the chilling feeling of being watched. The fire died down and was in need of more wood. So Ivan, being the egotistical jock he was, stood up to go find some more. Chris could no longer hold his bladder and was afraid of wetting himself if he were to become overly frightened, and tagged along.
“Hey where are you guys going?” Vince asked.
“I’m going to get some more wood for the fire. I guess Chris is following me?” Ivan yelled back.
“Do not go too far guys!”
“Don’t you worry about us, we will be fine! Besides, do you think I am scared? This is not a horror movie; this is real life. Even if it were, then a black person would be the first to die. That is basic horror principals. Do you see any black people around here?” Ivan turned throwing his arms out to the side.
“No but the dipshit jocks die second in the movies!” Alison yells.
“Maybe, but they die about the same time a hot ditsy girl does!”
“Are you trying to say something Ivan?” Vince asks in concern.
“Relax pal. Stop thinking with your dick there! She is your girl and your problem, whenever you two die making out in the dark!” Ivan calls from afar.
It was there… it sat there watching. Its motives were unknown, like most things in Scarlet. There was no need for fear however. Not this time because looks on this night were deceiving. Ivan and Chris wondered into the night, but there was no danger. There was no need for chills even though their paranoia was increasing as the dark consumed them.
Vince sat there in silence with Alison and could do nothing but stare at the scarecrow, the scarlet child, which sat in the distance. The wind picked up and the weeds in the fields blew in unison. Sticks broke in the distance as Chris and Ivan gathered more wood. The chilling air made hairs stand and goose bumps rise.
What was it doing? Ivan shook it off as a hoax by Alison, but Vince truly felt it was alive. Its dark silhouetted figure hangs perfectly limp and still. Its rags still sway in the wind. Past the concealing darkness, its hidden eyes are watching. It aims not to harm, but to protect them instead. No harm would come from the children. Not unless they were provoked and frightened. Someone in this desolate field did not belong.
Vince scooted closer to Alison. He took his right hand and nervously ran it through his hair. He was a young man, and Alison was a very attractive girl. All the joking about horror movie basics and cliché stereotypes put the thought into his head. He wanted Alison. He was alone, and hormones fueled his mind and influenced the wrong head. His nerves got the best of him. Lust and paranoia ran through his head. It was a strange feeling, but it was so amazing. It was like an adrenalin rush.
He could not stop the shaking. He reached into his pocket trembling and tried to light a cigarette. Upon striking a match, he clinched down on the butt of the cigarette and flicked it down by accident. It fell out onto the ground just inches from the fire.
It was not right. Something was terribly wrong, but it felt so good. Ivan treaded through the thick weeds in the field with his arms full of wood. Chris walked a little bit behind dragging a tree branch he had found near the border of the woods. A giant gust of wind blew and the flames of the campfire stretched out dangerously close to Alison and Vince. Vince and Alison both reached for the cigarette, and before physical contact was made a stroke of lightening cracked across the sky.
Ivan dropped all of his wood, and Chis screamed at the top of his lungs. The brightness of the sudden strike illuminates everything from every possible horizon. Raindrops fall one by one. They wet the ground slow at first, but begin to pour like a drainpipe. The fire goes out in a thick smoke and the colas struggle to survive. Alison giggles and then takes Vince by the hand. Vince Also laughs and they sprint to the shed for shelter.
“Man, some weather, huh?” Vince says shivering and laughing.
“I know! I’m so wet now!” Alison says in a playful tone.
Vince swallowed hard and his mouth went dry. Ivan could be heard in the distance yelling out F-bomb after F-bomb. Chris takes off running and trips. With a hard scream, Chris grips his sprained ankle. This makes Ivan swear even more as his lifts him up.
“You picked a great spot to stay for the night.” Vince says.
“It used to be my play house. The father at church built it just for me and the other children. He believed it would keep us out of trouble and safe if we couldn’t make it home before night fall.” Alison tells him.
“This does not look like somewhere kids would play. Do they still come here?”
“I come here still. The other kids are restricted to a curfew.”
“There is a curfew in Scarlet? Where would you go anyways?”
“The curfew was agreed upon by the community and church, but I do not care about either of those.”
“Well why not?”
“Parents packed up and left years ago after the circus incident. Never said a word… No one ever saw them leave, and no one knew where they might had gone. As for the church, I just do not see why anyone would go. It is all a sham. If you look at Scarlet’s history there is no God. There is no such thing as a God, and the fact that people believe in a God when all these wicked things happen is amazing. They are just hypocrites. They will judge you and tell you how to live, and hide behind religion to deny them true selves.”
“That’s a bit extreme Alison…”
“Yeah but everyone has to pay their dues eventually.”
The hardness of the rain increases and beats down onto the shed. Alison leans in close to Vince and kisses his cheek. Vince smiles and if it was not so damn dark, then the blush of his face would be a cherry red. Ivan walks making his way to the shed with Chris as the wind whips him from side to side. Vince leans in and rests his lips against Alison’s. She is so cold… Maybe he could warm her. She wrapped her arms around his back. Vince rubbed her leg with his hand and the cold weather seemed to leave.
An ear-piercing squeak overcomes the sound of the rain. It is like nails on a chalkboard. Vince does not care, and at this point nothing else matters, but getting his thing on. Alison bumps into the wall of the shed and a board falls, latching the door shut. Ivan drops Chris for a moment to catch his breath.
Something pulls at the door of the shed and jerks violently at it.
Ivan comes within a few feet of the shed and tries to squint past the rain. There it is… violently trying to get into the shed. Its talons are ripping through the metal slowly. It screams and pulls on the door. Ivan instantly drops Chris and approaches it.
“Hey! Nice try, attempting to scare us! Come on look at me! Who in the hell are you? Take that faggot costume off and speak to me before I whip your ass!” Ivan shouts whilst stepping closer. The Scarlet child screams at Ivan and turns to him.
Vince fills his guilty pleasure and all the world disappears in this moment. No sounds, no atmosphere… only Alison. Outside, Ivan becomes hostile toward the creature. He walks up and shoves it. With one swift movement is slashes Ivan’s torso. Ivan hollers and falls to the ground. The Child grips Ivan’s head with its sharp talons, drawing blood in five places around it. Chris looks over breathless and petrified.
“Ivan! Ivan! Jesus Christ Ivan!” Chris screams.
It squeezes slowly and Ivan slips away. It lifts his corpse into the air and tosses him aside into the coals of the fire and mud. Chris begins balling his eyes out and crawls to Ivan. The Child disappears. Inside the shed, Vince and Alison have finished up. One last kiss rests upon Vince’s head before Chris starts beating on the door. Vince straightens himself up and lifts the board off the door.
“Vince! Alison! Oh God… Oh, Jesus!” Chris screams.
“Chris! What happened man? Where is Ivan?” Vince says hastily.
“It got him! It killed Ivan! Jesus, his flesh! It is smoldering and there is so much blood in the mud!”
Vince runs out and rolls Ivan out of the coals. Alison walks out of the shed and stares at them all. Snaking in a rhythmic motion the striped neck of the Scarlet child comes up from the top of the shed. Vince yells and takes off sprinting. Chris desperately limps away, and Alison is left behind. Before Vince can have the chance to see past the rain and through the dark, he trips over his bike. Scrambling he feels for the handle bars, and picks it up. The screams of the Scarlet child echo throughout the storm and Chris begs for Vince to wait for him.
Chris limps quickly, but Alison soon passes him. She runs by quickly and turns only for a moment to see the disparate and horrified look engraved into Chris’s face. She hesitates for a moment. She slows down long enough for Chris to catch up and then kicks him in his injured leg. Chris lets out a cry of pain and tumbles onto the ground. The Scarlet child is not far behind. It tramples Chris, leaving deep scratch marks carved into his back, and his cranium shattered to mush in the mud. Vince peddles blindly in an attempt to escape somewhere safe. Anywhere but here was all that mattered.
This was an absolute nightmare filled to the brim with hellish, twistedness. He could not believe this was happening Ivan was dead. The creature who should not exist was stalking him. Why did he ever have to come out here? Why could he not have just stayed home and went trick or treating? Most importantly, how could he of just left everyone to die back there?
His bikes front tire twisted to the right with force, and Vince was thrown off. He rolled a few times and then the bike skipped across him before stopping somewhere nearby. He stood up and walked slowly, careful not to fall on something. He pulled out his flashlight from his coat and shined its dull beam into the dense rain and darkness. It was stupid and a dead giveaway of his location, but he was too afraid to care. He believed himself to of found the trail that lead back to Black Cat.
Before he could get too far lightning struck a tree top, sending down a large limb. Fire caught and spread to the field. How could this be? It is wet! It was not fair! Vince should had been home free. He backed away from the fire that now brightened the surrounding area, and was spreading rapidly. Within a few minutes, he had made his way back to the shed. He ran inside and secured the door with the board. He noticed now the rips in the wall of the shed from the child earlier. He backed away and bumped into something. Someone…
He closed his eyes and panicked. Not only was there something after him, but it may be in here with him. He knew he could not escape. There was a raging fire outside, and a door standing between him and any hope of a quick escape. If he so much as moved for the door, he could only imagine what may happen.
He breathed heavily and strained his eyes shut as tears fell. A gentle hand rested on his shoulder, and a sweet and smooth voice called from behind him.
“Vince?” It called.
“Alison? Oh my god…” He said with relief, “What do we do?”
“It is alright Vince… It is not going to hurt us. Open the door so I can see you and we can get out of here.”
Vince reluctantly lifted the board and opened the shed door. The flames of the fire are large and moving across the field at high speed. He walks out into the rain and turns around slowly to Alison. She walks to him sluggishly and hugs him. He hugs her back. He sees hope in her and believes that the creature is gone. This is true, but looks are also deceiving.
“Oh god Alison… Why? Why us? Why did this all… oh hell…”
“I told you Vince… This place is cancer. It takes good people. It takes, it takes, and it takes! You cannot leave this place once it has laid claim to you, Vince”
“Alison, what are you talking about?”
“You belong to the devil now, Vince… You are alive because I paid your dues!”
“Oh my God… A-A-Alison?”
“There is no God Vince…”
“Let go of me! You are crazy!”
“That’s what the others from Black Cat said when I brought them here.”
“Please Alison! I do not want to hurt you! You win all right! You scared me!”
“It is all okay Vince… I understand you are scared, but it will be over soon. We will be together. It will just be you and I forever…”
“Alison… Alison! Jesus!”
“You won’t rot away… I will do as the stranger who visited Scarlet once did. I will preserve you. Dress you in the image of the Scarlet children, and hang you up… You will fit in perfectly, and most of all we can be together for as long as I live…”
Vince nearly pukes from the overwhelming things filling his head. He cannot comprehend anything at this point. Alison hugs him tighter and then with a knife held tightly she jabs it into Vince. It went directly above the spine. It slid right into the soft dip in the back of the neck.
Vince’s eyes and jaw fly wide open and one final breathe creeps from his lungs before his mouth spews blood. Alison, drops with his body and strokes his hair…
Scarlet is a cancer. It brings in wonderful people and places them in terrible circumstances. Sometimes, most of the time, things cannot be explained. Throughout the town’s history, there have been unexplained events. Movement of those creepy scarecrows, missing children, murder… Not all of it is blamed on the paranormal either. Some people think that it could be something in the water or in the air. Something in Scarlet compels people to do wicked things, and often hurts the innocent. Regardless of what it maybe that drives the horrible misfortunes of this town… May God have mercy on anyone brought to it…
Head of saturnine
Heart of melancholy
it’s half past nine
And I could use somebody
The reflectiveness of my reflection reflects
A saturnine Satan, and an anxious Jesus
Simply something that cannot be explained
Why the cancer cannot be restrained
So I converse with the remains
Accompanied by my crow crony
The chemo leaves me boney
“C’est la vie” it whispers to me
Adopting and donning a caring charade
Engaging in a devious fiasco dressed in masquerade
They all stand around me
And I only wish I could tell her
There is a Jackal by candle light
A light like no light in the light dark of night in my sight
Another cough and my crony crow whispers to me
“Look how beautiful you are to be”
I ignore its hideous saturnine face
She stands in place upon me looking at my remains
Pretending to care, stroking my hair
The cancer continues its restrains
An Anxious Jesus tells me to tell her
With a drawn out melancholy whisper
I speak with what remains
But before I tell her I love her
My saturnine Satan, my cawing crow crony
Wakes the Jackal for the proceeding ceremony
She breaks my heart on my broken death bed
For she does not love me
And as the cancer tightens its grip on my body
In this time I could really use somebody
A saturnine Satan, and an anxious Jesus
Head of saturnine
Heart of melancholy
“C’est la vie” she whispers to me
CREDIT: Landon S. Booth