Chapter Ten: A Moment of Doubt
I jumped into my truck and sped all the way to Paul's farm. I parked in front of his house and started to repeatedly honk the horn. I did this for a minute before Paul finally emerged, dressed in his night clothes, and looked at me in a way that suggested he was a little pissed.
Paul yelled, "what the fuck man, I was asleep."
I shouted, "get over here!"
He reluctantly approached the truck and stood outside my open window. "OK Luther, what in the hell is going on?"
I asked, "where does Lizbeth live?"
Paul shook his head. "Jesus, have you been drinking because you looked messed up. And no, I'm not going to let you go to her house in the dead of night and make a total jackass of yourself."
I looked right at Paul and told him, "listen, get your wife and get the hell out of town. You are in danger."
Paul shook his head. "Luther, in the history of our friendship I have put up with a lot. Are you going to flip out or something."
"Paul, listen you and everyone is in danger. Please, friend, get the hell out of dodge because something bad is coming."
"What are you talking about?"
"The thing that killed Ma, I saw it and more. God, you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"It wasn't human, it was, a, a, a monster."
Paul said, "Luther, maybe I should drive you to the hospital in the next county."
"One favor, tell me where Lizbeth lives, please Paul."
"Fuck," Paul shouted, "I've been doing you a lot of favors lately, man, don't test the breaking limit of our friendship, cause I'm really getting annoyed here."
"Paul, please, I need to see her."
"Fine! But I'm going with you, just to make sure you don't do anything stupid. And after this, I really don't want to see you for awhile."
"OK, get in the truck."
Paul climbed in and I floored it and raced back towards town. He was looking at me, he seemed to be concerned and somewhat suspicious. He had been a trust worthy friend, though I imagined now he might have had doubts if it was wise to call me friend. After he gave me directions to Lizbeth's home, he asked in a deadly serious tone, "Luther, what is happening to you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why are you acting like a fucking lunatic buddy."
"I'd elaborate about what is going on, but Paul, you really don't want to know. Trust me, get you and your family the hell away from here."
Paul sighed. "Leave every thing behind, listen, I need to know the fucking reason for why I have to leave."
I turned to him. "Paul, this town is fucked, that is all I can say."
"Listen, if you go to Lizbeth's, Carl is going to pound you into the ground and Luther, this time I don't have your back because I don't know what is your god damn problem."
"Yeah, but I have your back, you may not believe that, but it is true."
I arrived at her home, a large country estate on the outskirts of town which had once been the home of the only rich family to ever call these parts home. God, I didn't like the fact that Carl had given her more then I've ever could have, he treated like she deserved and I guess the better man won.
Paul asked, "sure you want to do this? Cause let me tell you, it looks bad, really bad."
Then the front door to the large home opened and Carl stepped out into the night, he looked very angry and I could tell this wasn't going to be pleasant.
I and Paul emerged from the truck and walked up to the house.
Carl said, "Paul, your wife phoned and warned me you two where coming by."
Paul explained, "hey, I didn't want to come here."
Carl folded his large arms across his chest and asked me coldly, "and what the fuck do you want psycho?"
I told him, "Carl, I can't explain, but you have to get your family out of this town. Something is coming, something bad."
Carl sneered. "Yeah, accept this thing is already here, Luther, you are just as fucked in the head as your murdering bitch mother. Leave now or I'll beat you to an inch of your life."
I stepped up to Carl. "Jesus, you are in danger."
"I'm counting to three," Carl said, "after that I'll seriously fuck your shit up, I promise. One."
Paul put his hand on my shoulder. "Luther, we better leave."
I yelled, "Carl, you don't know what is going on!"
"Three mother fucker."
Next thing I knew Carl had forced me to the ground and he was now on top of me, powerful blows reigning down on me. I had taken more then a few beatings in my life, but never like this. Paul didn't do anything, he just watched.
"Carl!" Lizbeth's voice yelled out.
She rushed out from the house and she tried to pull him off me. She pleaded, "leave him alone."
He whipped around to face her and shouted, "why do you stand up for this piece of shit every fucking time, you married me, not this pathetic asshole."
Lizbeth was crying now. "Carl, he is sick, he needs help."
Though my jaw, inches from being broken, made it painful to talk, I managed to plead, "Liz, get out of this place. Please."
Then alternating red and blue lights shined upon the scene as a police car pulled into the drive way. Carl stood up then looked down on me then spit.
A lone police officer approached the scene and he asked, "we got a call, what seems to be the problem."
Carl told the cop, "this guy on the ground is trespassing on my property, please arrest him."
The cop looked down on me. "OK, I have to take you in. Please don't resist."
Lizbeth said, "look at him, does he look like he is in any condition to resist."
The cop helped me up from the ground then slapped some handcuffs on me and escorted me to the car. Then Paul stepped up and said, "Officer, I admit my friend made a bad choice coming here tonight, but does that justify beating him to a pulp when my friend here didn't do anything to warrant that."
The cop stopped suddenly then said, "I have a member of the town council here, his stock is worth a little more then this guys who everyone knows is trouble. Your friend is just lucky that he hasn't been arrested for murder."
Lizbeth explained, "he needs to go to a hospital, not to the county jail."
Carl looked sternly at his wife. "Get inside please."
I said to her, "Liz, listen to him, go inside."
She mutely went back into the house. I didn't want her to see me get hauled of by the cops. God, maybe I was just as crazy as my mother supposedly was. Maybe the Redstone curse wasn't the disdain I often endured here, maybe it was really a genetic predisposition towards insanity. Maybe I was the monster, god, maybe I had killed Ma and I was creating a delusion to place the blame on something other then myself. Maybe I had come back for one reason, to satisfy a need to avenge myself which was concealed even from me. At that moment, I just wanted the cop to pull out his revolver and shoot me dead. Maybe that would end this whole mess.
The cop put me in the car then went off to talk with Carl, the officer had left the door open for some reason but I didn't feel the urge to run even if I could, I just wanted to be put away. Lizbeth and Paul, the few who had made the mistake to call me friend, needed to be protected, protected from me.
Paul looked at me. "Listen, I'll go see you tomorrow. Get some rest, I'll find a lawyer."
"Paul," I said, "just leave me alone, go back to your wife, I'm tired of you having to having to deal with the problem it is to call me a friend."
"Luther, goodbye." Paul got into my truck and drove off. I felt that this was the last time we would part as friends, and I felt a deep feeling of sorrow. God, I really must have looked like a maniac.
Then a tall figure emerged stealth fully out of the night and stood before me. It was Jason Raven, that native fellow who was like a local enigma.
He said solemnly, "don't doubt what you have seen Mr. Redstone, and don't give up."
I asked, "what are you talking about?"
"You," he said, "you acted tonight out of concern for those who you care for; you may think you are crazy, but you are just as sane as I."
"Please, leave me alone."
He turned and began to walk away but said as he left, "Mr. Redstone, don't doubt what you have seen. For far worst I fear may come to pass and you may be able to help me prevent it."
Then the cop turned towards the car and shouted, "get away from the car?"
Jason left with out saying anything else. Just disappeared as suddenly as he appeared. For a brief moment, I felt that maybe it was all true, but as the police drove me away, I again became convinced that if there was a central villain here, that is was I.
After some brief questioning by another officer at the county jail, they threw me into a cell and left me there alone. I just kept thinking about how the only woman I had ever truly loved had seen me, a raving lunatic hauled away by the cops. I had always felt alone in life, but I never felt as alone then I did then. I felt hatred for myself, and I didn't see any point in going on.
Then Detective Moss showed up, he looked down at me as I sat slumped down on the small cot in the jail cell. He passed a towel through the bars and said, "wipe the blood of your face."
I muttered, "high Detective, what are you doing here?"
"I heard you caused some commotion tonight, may I ask why?"
I lowered my head and replied, "because, I'm sick and everybody was right about me. I think I killed Ma."
Moss stated, "you may be sick for all I know, but I know you didn't kill Ma for a fact."
"And how do you know that?"
"I neglected to tell you since it was need to know information, but we are pretty sure we got a footprint left by the killer. When she was attacked, a bag of flower was spilled on the floor and we got a good print."
"Yeah, listen, this print was of a bare foot which was severely deformed beyond anything the medical examiner had ever seen. He couldn't even be sure it was human. Would you know anything about who may be responsible?"
"You really don't want to hear it."
"Listen, I got a killer in this county who I believe is responsible for a lot of tragedy around these parts, and I know that it has some connection to you."
"Why do you think that?"
Moss explained to me, "do you know that there have been over two dozen disappearances in and around Sanctuary Hill, and it started almost an exact year after that incident with your mother. Honestly, I've been trying to solve this case for my entire career. May I ask you if you remember the name of those twins who vanished?"
Then it clicked in my mind. "The Moss twins."
The detective nodded. "Yes, they where my younger brothers. I wanted to nail the perpetrator who was responsible. And I think you can help me finally do that."
"Shouldn't you hate me, my family was partly responsible for your loss."
Moss said, "I used to, but I realized that there was something creeping about this community which was responsible for what happened to my brothers, as well as much more grief around here. And Luther, you are going to help me close this case once and for all, I know that."
"Why do you think that?"
"This killer, it never leaved a single victim to be found, yet when you returned, suddenly it left its first victim to be found. Why when you returned, because you are connected to this situation. It seems to be somehow focused on you."
"Detective, why are you sure all the disappearances and Ma's murder are connected?"
"Because, statistically, this town has the highest total of missing individuals in all of this province, maybe the country. Something really bad is loose in my county, and I'll stop it. With your help."
"How can I help you detective?"
"It all started during that summer with your family, that event triggered something which is still lose out there somewhere, and I think you might know."
I asked, "You know about Edna, the invalid my mother shot?"
I knew how it sounded, but I wanted to help Moss because he seemed like a good cop, so I told him, "I think Edna is responsible for all of it."
"How can a dead woman be responsible?"
So I explained it all to him, seeing that thing which I thought was Edna, though I omitted Ashley's involvement since I didn't want to get her in trouble for some reason. And I told him about how something much worse might be coming. Moss just listened.
I said, "I know how it sounds, I'm probably insane."
Moss seemed thoughtful. "Yeah, undead monsters seems a little unlikely, yet there is something I should tell you. An exact year to the day after Edna's death, someone dug up her grave and stole the body."
"What? I never heard of this?"
"Yeah, the town council puts a lid on events around here that they feel might disturb the public peace. Thing is, I saw that grave myself. It wasn't someone digging down into the ground, it was something digging its way up from under the ground."
I stood up. "Why didn't you realize that something really odd was happening?"
Moss shook his head. "I prefer to rely upon my logical nature, and I really didn't want to believe what I privately suspected, that something had dug itself out of the grave."
"Do you believe me?"
"Luther, I don't want to, but I will accept what ever the truth is, and I don't pretend I know exactly what is possible and impossible in this reality. But that foot print, how I saw the grave, and the fact you confirmed a theory I didn't want to believe for so long. Honestly, I would prefer if it was all your fault."
"Yeah, me too, that would be easier to live with."
"Edna," Moss cryptically said, "if she is the thing at the center of this mystery, if she somehow survived her own death, then she is the one we have to stop. Will you help me?"
"I'm kind of in jail right now."
Moss shrugged. "I know a sympathetic shrink who is also a close friend, I get him to write tonight's episode of as a panic attack caused by stress. I'll get you out by tomorrow."
"What do you want to do?"
"If it is real, then I'm going to kill it if I can."
I asked, "yeah, but how do we kill it."
Moss began to walk away but said before he left, "there must be a way, and we will find it."
"What is it?"
"Edna might only be a symptom of some disease that infests that town, something worse might be coming."
Moss said, "then we better figure out how to stop it."
Then I was alone and once again was living in a world where such terrifying realities hid beneath the facade of normalcy of our existence. My moment of doubt had passed, and once again my reality was one that could have been nightmare.
If we could stop it, Edna, and the sickness that had spawned her; then I would succeed or die trying. The town in which I had been vilified for many years now was relying on me and the detective for salvation. Funny how fate can be so ironic in the end.
I slept, scared of what was to come.
Chapter Eleven: Home
The next day detective Moss when through the motions and procedures to get me released with nothing more then a slap on the wrist for my actions the night before. It was dusk when I and Moss exited the police station and got into his car. Then we began the journey towards the cursed town of Sanctuary Hill.
I asked him, "so, what is the plan here?"
Moss replied, "we are going to start at your families house, see if we can't find anything there."
I felt a momentary twinge in my stomach, I knew returning would dredge up a life time's worth of repressed emotions. I had hoped never to see that house again, I had tried hard to forget it. Now I was going back to where it all began.
Moss said, "I sneaked some hardware out of the armory, what kind of fire arm are you comfortable with?"
I shook my head. "I hate guns, ever since what happened to my mother and all. Swore I would never touch one."
Moss shrugged. "I got a baseball bat."
"Look," I said, "I not sure we can even kill this fucking thing, you haven't seen it, and trust me, you don't want to."
"Listen to me sir, we both have lost the people we love to this damn thing. You want vengeance as much as I."
Even though I knew he was right; I protested, "it will most likely kill us."
Moss asked, "you know we must stop it, will you help Luther Redstone?"
I nodded. "I don't care if it kills me, I just want this fucking thing resolved finally."
As we drove during the later hours of dusk we approached Sanctuary Hill as night slowly fell over the land.
"Sorry, I don't share your pessimism, but it is my job to take chances, to protect and serve."
"I'm just a lowly mechanic, and no offense, people around here have always been kind of shitty to my family for awhile, why take a chance for them when I know god damn as well they wouldn't spare a squirt of piss for my ass if I was on fire."
"A rather crude way to say it, but I understand your sentiment."
"Actually, why don't you get fucking S.W.A.T. in on this, they would stand a better chance."
"Yes, I doubt I could go through proper channels to get S.W.A.T. assistance when I tell them our perpetrator is undead. But don't worry, we have some firepower."
"You're going to need it, this thing is a fucking demon from the fucking pits of hell, and there might be something worse coming."
"I don't know, we stand a good chance I would say."
"What are you basing that on exactly?"
"Blind optimism. But someone must face it, and I suppose it is our responsibility now."
We drove in silence until we reached Sanctuary Hill just as a fat harvest's moon had risen into the sky, looming ominously over the town as it cast a surreal moonlight over the land. I wondered just what evils might be hiding in the dark of that night, I hoped Edna was solely responsible, I hope she was not just a symptom of a greater unnatural disease which infested this place.
We reached the end of the long dirt driveway which led to the dilapidated farmhouse to where I had once lived, I hadn't been there ever since I left that house long ago; I had never wanted to see it again. Looking at the darkened, decrepit structure I could imagine Edna looming within. I supposed that Edna was not the only demon in that house for me, for that house carried a load of personal demons for myself and seeing that house brought it all back for me.
It was not bravery which compelled me to face this thing, it was pure anger and hatred. I loathed this thing because all my problems in life could be directly put upon this thing's doorstep. I also had my family avenge, my father and mother as well as my self.
We where parked at the end of the driveway, we got out of car and Moss walked around to the back of the trunk and opened it. Inside where some guns.
Moss turned to me and asked, "sure you don't want a weapon?"
I shook my head. "No, I hate guns."
Then I saw the aluminum bat in the trunk and picked it up and said, "this will be fine."
Then headlight's appeared out of the night, and Paul drove up, in my truck. He was quick to see the guns. He stopped the truck and he jumped out.
He said, "Luther, I saw you pass by in town, thought I would bring you your truck. What the fuck is up with the guns Officer?"
Moss asked, "how much does your friend here know?"
I explained, "Paul, crazy as it sounds, my aunt Edna is still alive and is responsible for a lot of death's around here, and we are going to kill it."
Paul looked at Moss and asked, "Please say Luther is fucking insane, Moss, you don't believe any of this?"
"You see," Moss said, "I haven't seen it myself personally, I just have Mr. Redstone's word here, but he seems to confirm some long time suspicions I had. I think you should listen to him."
I told Paul, "go home, get or wife and get out of town, trust me."
Paul seemed to think for a second then shook his head. He said, "Luther, I guess I will go with you."
"Don't, don't risk your fucking life for this."
"There is nothing in that fucking house, I'm so sure I'll go with you and show you two you are wrong."
Moss asked, "so here is how we proceed gentlemen, wait here while I go recon the house."
Paul said, "recon the house, we are just going to go search that house so I can show you two assholes you are both wrong."
I nodded. "We will stick together."
Moss asked Paul, "want a gun?"
Paul shook his head and replied, "let's just go get this done with. I've had just about enough of you two assholes."
Moss pulled out a large, gray shotgun out of the trunk and pumped the barrel. He picked up a box of shells and started loading his coat pockets.
Moss said, "off we go, into the fray."
So we walked slowly down the driveway and the terror I felt grew more intense with each step I took towards my boyhood home. Moss seemed expressionless, his eyes completely locked with the house; while Paul seemed more annoyed then anything else.
So then we arrived at the house and we all stopped to look then we heard it, the sound of an old woman cackling maniacally from inside the house, we all heard it.
Paul jumped back and gasped, "what the fuck was that?"
I raised my bat, me and Moss walked up the porch and approached the gaping double door's that led to the kitchen. It was not dark inside for moonlight was illuminating everything. So we both entered as I noticed Paul run down the driveway.
I screamed, "come get me you fucking bitch!"
Moss said, "you just gave or location."
Then Edna's distorted voice spoke out from somewhere deeper inside the house, and it chilled my blood the moment I heard it.
"Luther, nice of you to bring me a snack. I'll enjoy sucking the marrow out of his bones."
I yelled, "show yourself."
She sneered, "your friend had more sense then you to run away."
Moss whispered, "it's coming from upstairs."
"Yeah, it is in the attic, in its room we made for it up there."
I felt like a child again, bringing up Edna her tray of food, and I remembered the terror I felt then.
So I led Moss into the den when we saw the grisly thing we where about behold. In the center of the room was a crudely constructed thing which resembled some ungodly shrine, but it was made entirely from human bones and skulls. And complete skeletons where lying on the floor around it.
I stammered, "what the hell is this thing."
"Let us go on, put it out of your head and just focus on what we have to do."
So we went up the stairs into the second floor where we came to the attic entrance, the ladder was already extended I looked up into the blackness above.
Moss pulled out a flashlight and went up into the attic first, I followed; I expected I only had seconds to live. Then we where standing in that attic where it all began for me.
The deceptively large room was unlike any other room in the house, it was still in good condition; everything all neat a tidy as it had been before. Her rocking chair was empty. The mirror on the wall though, it had been smashed, while everything else in the room seemed organized and tidy.
Moss asked, "why do you suppose it would maintain this one room so well."
Then I realized. "Because, it comes here to feel human again, just to be a good little girl who cleans her room, it smashed the mirror cause it made her see what she had become."
"Sounds like a reasonable explanation."
I said, "it is not here."
Then I heard something scuttle across the roof above us and that is when I saw her window open.
Moss said, "it is on the roof."
Then Edna, out of sight, chillingly asked, "do you boys really want me to come down and play, you won't like that very much I'm afraid."
Then Moss aimed his weapon at the area of the roof where the sound had last come from and he pulled the trigger, making a defining sound as well as filling the room full of choking smoke. It screamed out in the night.
Moss excitedly proclaimed, "she can be hurt!"
Then Edna's voice, obviously enraged, yelled, "you will regret doing that. Here I come."
Then one of Edna's hands punched right through ceiling, like the wood was wet tissue, and the arm seemed to expand and undulated like a tentacle, and a large hand grabbed the detective's head and it pulled him of his feet.
I yelled, "Moss!"
Moss quickly prepared to fire in defense when the thing then snapped his neck with a sharp cracking sound. It let go and Moss fell lifelessly to the floor.
Edna bellowed, "run, because you know what, you get to be it."
I wanted to help Moss but I knew the man was dead, and I now didn't want to join him, so I ran as quickly as I could out of the house. About halfway down the stairs I heard Edna scramble through the house after me and it sounded fast.
It yelled, "now you die boy!"
I ran out from the house and could see Paul standing at the edge of the driveway and I raced towards him.
I screamed, "start the truck!"
Then I heard Edna's approaching footsteps growing closer. Paul saw her I guessed because he suddenly seemed terrified and he grabbed a large pistol from Moss's trunk and tried to fire it unsuccessfully. He began to fumble with the gun.
I hollered, "safety!"
Then gun shots filled the night air and I could hear bullets whiz by my face then I heard Edna stop and I was able to reach the parked vehicles and looked back. Paul fired until there where no more bullets.
I said, "let's get the fuck out of here."
"It's real," Paul muttered, "it is fucking real."
Edna stood in the driveway, she seemed to be looking at us then she started laughing, it's jagged teeth shining in the moonlight.
She said, "I'll let you go, but Luther, I will come for you. I imagine your parents are lonely in the cold dirt, so I will send you to them."
Paul, angered, said, "shut up, shut up, you fucking freak!"
"Let's go," I said.
"Where is the cop?"
"Dead, us to if we don't leave."
Me and Paul got into the truck and drove away from that accursed house.
Moss was dead, I couldn't help but think I could have done something but he was gone now. I was sorry to see the only ally I had parish so suddenly, now I felt alone.
Paul and me said nothing as we drove to his home, and we didn't talk as he gathered his family and packed some belongings into his car. His wife waited in the passenger seat, and she looked pissed, but she didn't seem to be asking questions.
Paul was about to get in when I said, "you are doing the right thing."
"Yeah Luther, I just can't deal with what is going on, so I'm out of here. I would suggest you come with me, but you being so infinitely predictable, I know you can't leave without Lizbeth."
"Yeah, something like that."
"I can't help you with this, but good luck, I mean it."
We shook hands for a moment, I got the sense I would never see him again.
I said, "later Paul, thanks for always being a friend."
"Call me when this is over."
He got in the car and drove away. I spent the night at his home, I kept thinking of Moss, I couldn't help but feel guilty.
I slept, wondering what would happen next.