Chapter Fourteen: The Vile Deed
I found Ashley waiting for me in the darkened garage, smoking a cigarette and she had turned on the lights so I could see her as I pulled up in my truck. She looked upset.
I got out of my truck and barked, "get the hell out of here!"
She didn't seem impressed and she asked, "do you ever want to see dear Lizbeth alive again?"
I shuddered. I asked, "what are you talking about?"
Ashley said, "Edna has her, and she will kill her if you resist us anymore Luther."
"If you hurt her, I swear I will, I will,"
"Please," she said, "Luther, she will not be hurt, you will not be hurt, if you only join us."
I pleaded, "Ashley, please, this thing is killing people, it isn't a game, please say your better then this. Please, tell me where Edna is right now, help me save Lizbeth."
She flicked away her cigarette then said, "I will tell you nothing accept that you must do exactly what I say and if you don't, she dies, I don't want that."
"So, you have talked to Jason Raven, good, for he is the subject of our first order. Succeed and you and dear Lizbeth can leave."
Then and angered male voice screamed out, "I'm going to kill you mother fucker!"
I turned to see Carl, enraged, standing at the door of my garage and looking at me like he wanted to kill me. His face was red and his teeth where clenched.
"Wait, Carl," I said.
Carl ran at me, grabbed me by the collar of my overalls, and pushed me into the wall and yelled, "where is she, tell me or I'll kill you!"
I struggled to say, "Carl, it wasn't me, we have to find her."
Ashley said, "Carl, best you leave, or you'll get hurt."
I told him, "go, get the cops, you don't know what is going on."
Carl whipped around to face Ashley and accused, "You are the witch, should have known you are fucking involved, you both are going to prison to rot."
Ashley reached into her coat and pulled out a handful of the mysterious powder, and she asked, "would you like to know the truth Carl, I can show you if you want."
Carl spat, "fuck off witch."
Then she blew the powder into his face, he began to try and brush it away, but he fell to the ground and started to scream. His eyes rolled back in his head and he started to babble incoherently. Then he passed out.
Ashley said, "we best be off, I imagine the cops will be around soon. Into the truck, now."
I looked down at Carl and asked, "is he going to be OK."
She replied, "he will be fine, if his mind can take what he sees, now let us go."
She followed me as I got into my truck and we drove away.
I drove to an old forest path, deserted and a good place to hide, miles outside town. We sat in the cab of the truck, in the darkened forest. I would have rather remained in the lights of town, but I knew I was or was going to be a wanted man. And for me to save Lizbeth, I would need my freedom for now.
I turned to Ashley and bluntly asked, "what do you want me to do?"
"Easy," she said, "we are going to kill the only one who can threaten us, Jason Raven. Do this, and you have proven your worth to us."
"No, I won't do that."
Ashley coldly explained, "do you know what Edna does to her victims, do you want precious Lizbeth to end up as Edna's excrement. You can save her, it is your choice in the end, either Jason Raven dies or Lizbeth does."
Neither choice seemed like one I would have ever wanted to make, to choose a life over another, but my loyalty, god help me, was to Lizbeth and I knew I didn't have a choice.
I asked, "what do you want me to do?"
"We will go to Raven's home, come in the guise of friends, and then we will kill him. Then there will be no one stop what is coming."
"OK, let's go."
As my truck pulled into Jason's driveway, I tried not to think to much about what is was I was about to do, just get it over with so I could save Lizbeth's life. Love can make you do funny things I had learned over the years, I never could have guessed it would force me to commit murder.
I asked, "how are we going to do this."
Ashley laid out her plan. "I will follow you in, and I will let you do it, and will help if necessary. Don't underestimate him, he is a powerful so you must quickly do away from him."
I said, "OK, let's get this over with."
We got out and she followed me up to the house and I knocked on the door, not knowing honestly what I intended to do.
Ashley whispered, "be quick."
The door opened and there was Jason, eying the two of us over then he said, "you are back, and who is the young lady."
I concocted a lie. "She knows about what is going on, she wants to help us stop it."
Jason asked, "changed your mind?"
"Yeah," I said, "you are right, we can't escape this, better to face it now."
Jason stepped back. "Please come inside."
So once again Jason led me to his den as Ashley followed, I couldn't help but look at that damn tomahawk on the wall. I put my hands on it then pulled it off the wall and faced Jason.
I sputtered, "sorry."
I raised the tomahawk to strike when Jason smashed his fist into my chest, it felt like being hit by an iron beam, and I was thrown through the air and hit the wall, bounced off, and fell on the floor.
Ashley, standing about ten feet from Jason, pulled out a dagger and started to approach him.
Jason asked, "you really want to do this young one?"
Ashley responded, "I'll serve my master to the end."
"Fine, I do not wish to do this, but you force my hand."
Jason motioned his hand and the tomahawk was ripped from my hands and propelled itself into his waiting grip. He raised it then threw it with a mighty throw and I watched as it buried itself in Ashley's chest, the force knocking her now limp body of her feet. Then she was on the floor, dead, and despite everything, I was saddened by her death, I had liked her in the beginning.
I shook my head. "Ashley."
The tomahawk pulled itself free and returned to Jason's hand, now he stood above me, and he was raising the tomahawk again, so I closed my eyes and prepared to die.
I pleaded, "there is a woman, that thing has her, save her, please."
He lowered the tomahawk and asked, "what are you talking about?"
"There is a woman, she was abducted by Edna, it was going to kill her if I didn't try to stop you tonight. Kill me, but the woman is innocent in this, she needs your help."
"So, you would have murdered me to save her. I understand, you must love her."
"Will you save her?"
"Understand, if I face Edna, my destroying her might only be the final sacrificed needed to release the slumbering evil beneath this land."
"Please, you must."
Jason nodded. "OK, but I will require your help."
Jason dropped the tomahawk in front of me and he said, "take it."
"I give it to you, it is yours."
I picked it up and got up to my feet, then asked, "wait, aren't you going to need it?"
"No," Jason said, "a good weapon, but I favor another."
"How do I use it?"
"Simple, throw it, it will come back when you want it to. Just make sure you aim well."
He turned to the wall and pulled what looked to be some kind of long smoking pipe off the wall, and he looked at it.
"What is that," I asked.
He replied, "a very powerful weapon. So where is Edna?"
"Shit, I don't know."
Jason said, "I have a good guess where she is."
"In the woods behind the house your family once lived in, do you know of the trail there."
I did. Behind the house was a trail which led through the dark forest, it went on for miles, and to be honest, that trail had always scared me as a kid. Something alarming about being alone in that wooded place.
I said, "we go now then."
"Perhaps we should wait for the light of day."
"Lizbeth might not have that long, we go now."
As we left, I knelt down beside Ashley and brushed her hair away from her face then closed her eyes.
I said, "sorry."
Jason asked, "you had feelings for her?"
"She was just mixed up, it wasn't her fault."
"Let us go."
Chapter Fifteen: The Confrontation
We took my truck, and we arrived at my childhood home to find it thankfully free of police officers.
Sitting in the driver's seat, I looked down at the tomahawk in my lap, and asked, "this thing is easy to use, right."
Jason said, "listen, we will save the girl but do not kill Edna, we must know if she was committed enough sacrifices to break the seal, if we shed her blood and she was needed to be the last one, then we have done her work for her. She might want us to kill her, so we will save the girl and flee."
I shook my head. "Jason, is there any way to stop her?"
Jason frowned. "She can be killed, and I had the chance. Once, I faced her, but a momentary feeling of pity for the pathetic creature stayed my hand and she lived, able to escape because of my momentary reluctance to strike."
I didn't understand. "How can you pity it, after what it has done?"
"Because, she did not choose to be born a herald of the Devourer, and even the evil she commits, she still thinks she is a child, she has the mind of a child."
"Don't pity her, pity all those she has hurt. She is a fucking monster, not human like us."
"Yes, I guess you are right, though I fear she may still prowl these lands for extreme danger comes with taking her unnatural life."
We got out of my truck and commenced our journey down the driveway, across my families lawn, and towards the mouth of the trail which led into the bowels of the darkened woods. I could imagine Edna somewhere in that darkness, waiting for us, I just hoped that Lizbeth was still alive.
I turned to Jason and asked, "got a flashlight?"
"No, something better."
Jason raised the long smoking pipe, then he inhaled from the pipe even though it wasn't lit. The smoke which came out from the end was not like ordinary smoke, no it was green and seemed to be giving off light. Jason exhaled and the luminous smoke rose above us and gave light which revealed the landscape around us.
"Holy shit," I said dumbfounded.
Jason started walking down the path and I followed close behind him, as we went on the clouds of green light followed above us, lighting the way for us and basking everything in the woods with greenish light.
I asked, "do we have a plan of attack?"
Jason replied, "I have a pretty good idea where the beast has hidden the woman, there is a old loggers cabin a mile or so down this path. I have tracked the movements of Edna, and she mostly seems to only leave the majority of her tracks around this area."
"Yeah," I said, "if we can't kill it, then what good are these weapons?"
"Natural or unnatural life as the same instinct, the instinct of survival. Use them to keep her at a distance, but do not kill her."
So we walked down the path, surrounded by the dense forest, I kept looking around nervously expecting Edna to jump out from behind every tree, my grip on the tomahawk was tight and I prepared to use as soon as Edna showed her ugly face.
Then I heard a noise, kind of like the fluttering of birds, to my left and I faced that direction sure that the thing had found us. All I saw was the shadows which the green light created, further there was only the blackness and emptiness of the night and the forest.
Jason asked, "are you sure you are ready for this Redstone?"
"No," I said as I thought of Lizbeth, "but I don't have any other choice."
"You must lover her much if you are prepared to face the thing which terrifies you, your love for her has conquered your fear."
I shrugged and said, "love for me has never been an easy thing to find, and the truth, I don't think I have ever loved another other like her."
Then the nerve shattering cackling of Edna came from the forest ahead, and then it cooed, "Luther, the woman was a rather tasty morsel. I used her finger bones to pick my teeth clean."
My heart sank and it felt far worse then anything I could describe and I yelled, "No you bitch!"
"Where is she," Jason demanded.
It made a jabbering sound then said, "so, the great warrior has come to put and end to me, finally, I tire of this stalemate between us and I am overjoyed we can now end it."
Jason taunted, "have you always been such a fowl creature, or was there a time when you still had a shred of humanity within your tainted essence."
"Shut your mouth," it said.
Jason leaned towards me and whispered, "you talk with it to keep it occupied, while I circle around and hit it from behind. If it comes at you, then you know what to do. Just don't kill her."
I looked at the tomahawk then admitted, "I don't think I can do this."
"Just be ready."
Then Jason disappeared into the shadows of the forest and I was alone, the halo of luminous smoke revealed some of the surroundings but several meters away it was still pitch black. In the blackness before me was the thing, and I prepared for it to burst out of the night and claim my life like it had claimed so many others before me.
The demon's voice spoke out in the night, "remember bringing me my food, so afraid of your feeble old aunt. Now you are the feeble one and you are about to be my meal."
I asked, "do you like it?"
"What," it bellowed.
"Do you like being a monster, do you like being something that should be feared? Any fucking idea just how god damn repulsive you are?"
It snapped back, "you will regret your words!"
"Yeah," I said, "I hated you before now, but now, now I just feel sorry for you, I guess dying is better then living like you."
It then laughed maniacally, chilling my bones, then roared, "now you die little Luther, come to aunty!"
Then I heard movement in the forest ahead of me, then Edna rushed out from the darkness and charged towards me, her monstrous dagger filled mouth leered at me. Its long tongue was hissing like the tongue of a snake, and its fiery eyes seemed full of rage.
It repeatedly said, "die, die, die, die!"
I raised the tomahawk and threw it as best I could to only see it bury itself into the trunk of a tree.
Edna stopped. "Nice throw."
I held out my hand and expected it to come back to me yet it remained still and I was now weaponless and defenseless. I looked at the tomahawk and still it did nothing. Then in my mind's eye, I pictured it returning to my hand, then it swiftly pulled itself from the tree and flew back into my waiting hand.
Edna said, "nice trick."
"Just give me the woman, and we'll leave."
"I told you Luther, I devoured her. Of course you are about to join her in my stomach."
In anger I pictured the tomahawk flying towards Edna and hitting her in the chest when the weapon pulled itself from my grip and did exactly what I had envisioned. It hit Edna and she fell back as she let out an anguished scream.
I triumphantly yelled, "got you!"
Then Edna sat up then pulled the tomahawk from her chest, a black oil like substance began to pour out from Edna's wound and her tattered dress was covered with the strange substance. She got up to her feet, but she looked unsteady and seemed to be injured badly, or at least I hoped.
I didn't wait, picturing it in my mind, I watched as the tomahawk pulled itself free from Edna's claws and it returned to my hand and then I looked into Edna's eyes.
I said, "this is for my mother, my father, and for me you bitch. You should have killed me when you had the chance."
Then the tomahawk went from my hand and struck Edna directly in the head, and it fell over onto its back again and it was completely motionless, it had stopped breathing.
I thought the day was won and it was over, but, it had only truly begun at exact moment. You see, in my haste and anger to kill Edna, I had done exactly what she wanted.
It started when all the ambient sound of wildlife in the forest suddenly faded away, and then every thing became dead silent, I mean there was absolutely no sound of any kind. I spoke yet there was no sound, it was like the entire world had been silenced.
Then I looked up through the tree cover and saw the stars beyond, and watched as they all slowly became crimson red and began to pulsate.
Then the ground began to shake, all the earthquakes I experienced in this province had been only slightly noticeable; this one was of such violence and magnitude that I was knocked off my feet. The tree's heaved about and several snapped like twigs.
My eyes fell upon Edna and as I watched great cracks in the ground began to form under her body and grew to such a degree that her body fell into the tear in the earth and fell out of sight. A single, large crack grew and it seemed to be heading in the direction of Sanctuary Hill.
Jason Raven emerged from the night, struggling to move while the ground shook and then reached me and looked down. He yelled, "what did you do!?"
"What's going on?"
"Its happened, it has escaped. Edna's death released it, and now hell has come to this town. I told you not to kill her."
"I, I just reacted."
"You have no idea what you have done this night."
Then inhuman screams ascended through the cracks in the ground.
Then the first monstrosity crawled from the rips in the Earth, and what it was scared me deeply. It was a skeleton, yet was about nine feet tall, its skull face had two fiery ambers for eyes. Its skeletal frame was packed with rotting flesh which was riddled with these small worms. It had jagged teeth where revealed when its jaw opened. It was wearing some native tunic and it was holding a spear, which it raised over its head and let out a scream.
I rolled over to the rift beside me and looked over the edge. I saw three of those skeletal things climbing up towards me and I could hear countless more doing something in the blackness of the earth.
Then the ground stopped shaking and I quickly got back up onto my feet and turned to Jason and asked, "what do we do now?"
Jason explained, "the woman is tied up near a well down the path. Get her and meet me at the town square."
"What are we going to do?"
"We," he grimly said, "we are going to save as many as we can, and stop them from summoning the Devourer."
I nodded. "Good luck Jason."
"We will need more then luck this evening, for much is demanded of us this night."
We ran off in separate directions.
I founded Lizbeth tied to a tree in a clearing in the forest, under our feet the ground continued to quake sporadically. I started to untie her. She looked up at me.
She softly said, "I knew you would come for me."
I asked, "are you all right? Are you hurt?"
She replied, "no, where is that thing?"
"Don't worry," I told her, "I killed it."
Then the ground shook violently for a few brief moments, it was powerful enough to knock me off my feet again. I got back up and finished freeing her from the tree.
She asked, "what is going on?"
"Listen, something a lot worse then that thing is coming, you have to get out of here."
"What about you?"
I, already feeling guilt for releasing this impending evil, replied, "I have to try and stop it."
"No, I have some help."
She turned her back to me. "I am staying with you."
I pleaded, "I am not going to let you get yourself killed."
"I'm going to stay, it is not your choice Luther."
I turned towards town, I could see it sitting atop the hill. There weren't any lights so it seemed the power was out.
I told her, "something very bad is here, and it is my fault."
She said, "we face it together."
"Damn it, I hate it when you are stubborn. You and I will probably get ourselves killed."
We turned to the town and she said, "OK, let's go."
As we ran through the darkened forest, we could hear the ghoulish noises those things made all around us. They gibbered at us and where speaking some lost native tongue to each other. I could not tell you what they where saying, all I can tell you is that it chilled my blood like ice water running through my veins.
We finally emerged from the wood and found ourselves racing down my families old driveway towards the parked vehicle. We both got inside and she turned to me, she asked, "so, what do we do?"
"Go to town. We have to warn everybody."
We arrived near the town square and we found it packed with the towns residents who had all flashlights for illumination since all the lights in town where off. Mayor Thatcher was standing on a bench which served as his makeshift podium as he tried to calm the town residents down. There was no sign of Jason Raven.
I parked the truck, then Lizbeth and I got out and approached the crowd.
Thatcher, trying his best to sound dignified, explained, "we are just having a mild earthquake. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid off."
I stepped up and said, "actually, there is something to should be afraid of. Listen, something is coming here tonight and you all have to get in your cars and get the hell as far from this place as you can."
Thatcher scowled at me. "Seems the last living Redstone is causing trouble."
I barked at the Mayor, "listen, do your job and get these people to run for their lives!"
A car raced into the town square and an elderly man in work overalls got out, he was shaking and his facial expression could only be described and sheer terror.
Thatcher shouted to the scared guy, "Benny, I thought you where on your way to the next county to get help."
Benny caught his breath and explained, "the roads out of town, they have cracked apart, giant rips in the ground. And, and, things, coming up through the cracks. They have gathered along the forest line all around town."
The Mayor snorted. "Crazy old fart."
Lizbeth stepped up to the Mayor and said, "he is telling the truth, tell everybody."
He scowled at her and told her, "listen, I would expected better of this then you."
I faced the crowd and stated loudly, "listen, we can't escape, so we are going to have to fight. Ones who can fight, arm yourselves with anything you got and the ones who can't fight will hide in the houses."
Everyone in the crowd looked doubtfully at me when it started and erased any doubt they might have had, for the sound of countless inhuman voices chanting in some profane song could be heard. The crowd seemed terrified.
Thatcher, growing more afraid with each passing second, muttered, "no, this is some one's sick idea of a joke."
Jason Raven emerged from the crowd and said, "no joke, we are all in the greatest of dangers. But if we don't stop it here, then all is lost."
The singing got louder.
Jason faced the crowd. He told them, "right now they are singing about how they will kill you, eat your flesh, and wear your skins as a trophy. When the singing stops, then they will come for us."
Thatcher yelled, "this is crazy."
"Crazy," I said, "and real. Trust me, soon you are going to pray that you are mad, cause this world has secrets that are fucking insane. Listen to me everybody, if you want to survive this, then we must fight."
Thatcher waved his arms about and urged, "don't listen, everything will be all right."
Then the very ground responded to the mayor's denial as the earth shimmered with such force that it knocked everyone off their feet. Then in the center of town square, cracks appeared in the pavement and then a gigantic stone arose from the ground and continued to rise until it towered over us. It was a gigantic carved rock, carved into the likeness some inhuman evil, it looked like some freakish insect like creature with only one eye, it had many arms and each finger ended in a long talon. The little insects and worms which had infested Edna's flesh covered the statue from head to toe.
I turned to Jason and asked, "is that the Devourer?"
Jason, with a very grave expression, replied, "yes, this is a monument to him which gathers power from the sacrifice of human lives. Once it collects enough energy from the souls given to it, then a gateway will open allowing the Devourer to come to our world."
I got up and faced the crowd and yelled, "those who can fight, get any weapon you can get your hands on, those who can't fight, hide."
Thatcher was mumbling incoherently to himself, he muttered, "no, this can't be real."
Jason told the crowd, "if we survive till morning, until the configuration of stars changes, then they will have to return to the ground from whence they came."
The ghastly singing of inhuman voices began to fade slowly.
Jason ordered, "we are out of time."
Then an insidious voice roared above the sound of those things singing and it started to scream in the arcane dialect which this things spoke.
I asked, "what is it saying Jason?"
Jason grimly replied, "that is the voice of the tainted medicine man who brought this curse upon us all. He is saying that we will be killed mercifully, but if we resist, then we will endure a suffering for eternity."
"What do we do," I asked.
"Listen," Jason said, "we will hide everybody in the church; you will wait there and protect them as best you can."
Jason replied, "the medicine man will come to this stone idol to begin the incantations which will bring forth the Devourer. I will wait here alone, and face him."
"My bloodline has waited over a millennium for this night, I and my ancestors will win this night. I will not shame all those who have come before me and fail, that is not an option. When destiny finally reveals what purpose it has for you, you must accept, for refusal of one's destiny is the life not worth living."
I asked, "and what do you think fate has planned for us tonight?"
"We are all that stands between the world of man and this accursed blight, for if we lose this night, then all is lost for all men and women to walk this earth."
I said, "well, we better get moving."
I and the towns people devised our strategy on how to hold of on the incoming siege.
At that moment, still unaware on just how large the responsibility placed upon my shoulders was, I expected that the fight was already lost. Though I knew that with some fights, even if you know you are going to lose, you have to wage it anyways. A so it became that someone who this town had always seemed to dislike, someone who secretly resented how people saw him there, well, fate a chosen him to defend this town and those who lived within it.
And example of the sick sense of humor irony has.