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Dead of Night...Halloween story (ch.3)

posted 10/31/2013 7:05:42 PM |
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Chapter 3

The meeting between Sheriff Allen, Doc Milford and Pastor O’Conner went on past supper time. Although stomach’s growled, none of them noticed. They spent time relating all the rumors, comparing notes, then they discussed what they’d seen with their own eyes…all except Charlie. Charlie paced. Charlie was silent. Charlie felt sweat beading his forehead.

It had been over forty years ago. Dammit, he was just a kid! They’d never believe him. Hell, after all these years, he wasn’t so sure even he believed anymore what he saw. Just his imagination, adrenaline, fear…it just spooked his imagination, was all.

He paced. He gazed out the window with sweat trickling down to his collar. Turning back to the room, he came face to face with Doc Milford. He hadn’t even heard him approach.

“Ok Charlie, spill it.” The sheriff just looked at him but felt a punch of fear in his gut.

Dropping his gaze, he said, “I don’t know what your talkin’ about Doc.”

But old Doc Milford had experience on his side and he could tell something was eatin’ at Charlie. As Charlie turned away, Doc took his arm and pulled him back to face him. In a soft voice, he told Charlie that he knew he was holding something back and now was the time to get it off his chest. Something bad was happening to their little town and as the Sheriff, if he knew something, he needed to tell them. They trusted him and would believe whatever he said.

Charlie just pulled away, turned back to looking out the window. There he saw a group of kids across the street playing in huge piles of leaves. He could hear their laughter and squeals as they plunged head first into piles making the leaves fly. Kids. Stanbury kids. He had kids and grandkids. Suddenly his heart felt like it would explode with emotions as he thought about the kids of Stanbury. With a heavy sigh, he turned to face Doc Milford and Pastor O’Conner.

Dropping heavily into a chair, Charlie mumbled, “I sure could use a beer about now!” He heard the chuckles as Pastor apologized that he couldn’t help him with that. Charlie grinned briefly then his face became sober and taunt as he let his mind go back so many years ago…

…..He’d cleared the fence and it hadn’t been easy. He remembered his friends, Chris and Tommy had hefted him up as high as they could, just enough to reach the top bar and the rest of the way was up to him. He hadn’t felt much fear until his feet hit the ground on the other side and suddenly he felt totally alone even though he could reach through the fence and touch his friends but they were separated by bars and he was now standing on the grounds of THE Stanbury Estate! Yes, he thought…I’m all alone in this and his heart began to pound wildly! But he was determined! He had to show them that he was tough and brave no matter what!

When he turned to face the old house, it seemed a hundred miles away. The stretch of lawn was dark and shadowy in the partial moonlight. There was a strangely worn path from the verandah to the gate but he would be exposed if he took the path. In spite of the fear that gripped him, he knew he had to cut through the trees and shrubs and work his way to the verandah steps. He stayed to the shadows and literally crawled beneath bushes that grabbed at his clothes and clawed through his hair. His bare arms became covered in scratches that burned and itched. But he moved forward, he wasn’t about to give up.

The verandah steps were the hardest to approach and climb. He would be exposed in the moonlight until he reached the shadows beneath the verandah roof. Taking a deep breath, he sprinted as quietly as he could up the wide steps and ducked into the darkness next to the verandah walls. With his back against the wall, he held his breath and listened but all was quiet. Up ‘til now, this whole adventure felt like a dream, unreal and now it began to sink in. Suddenly he felt trapped in the last place in the world he wanted to be. Then he thought of all the times his friends had made fun of him and the pounding of his heart slowed with the resolve to show them all.

It was quiet, nothing had happened and his bravado began to return. This is just a big old empty house, he thought, just an empty house that spurred people’s imaginations ‘n imaginations weren’t real. I have absolutely nothing to be afraid of, he told himself. The excitement he’d felt when climbing that fence began to return. He envisioned the newfound status among his friends for years to come! The only guy in Stanbury to actually venture up to…and maybe inside…the old supposedly haunted house. Hell, he’d be a hero!

His breathing evened out as a smile tugged at his lips with just the thought of what this little adventure would mean to his future. It was still quiet and he still had some exploring to do. First, the front door. It was locked. No surprise there. But maybe he could see in the windows or better yet, maybe he could nudge one open and get inside. Now he was on a roll…he’d show them! Tucked in his hip pocket was a flashlight. He’d have to be careful with that; he didn’t want some adult to see it and come nosing around and spoil his chances of being a hero to his friends.

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Oct 31 @ 7:06PM  
On hands ‘n knees now, he crawled to the bay window, took a deep breath and peeked over the sill. Nothing. He couldn’t see anything. He tried his flashlight but it just reflected back in his face. Sitting back on his haunches, he looked over the situation, feeling brave. The verandah stretched about twenty feet then curved around a corner. Now he stood and crept along the wall, peeked around that corner and discovered another window and he couldn’t believe his luck…it was cracked open at the bottom! Excitement and fear hit him in about equal amounts. Now he took to crawling again. This window sill was lower, not enough room to really squeeze beneath it then raise up to peek in. He had to come at the window from the side.

Again, he couldn’t see in. The tattered curtains blocked his view and it just looked pitch black beyond them. He’d test the window, see if he could inch it open a little more. To his surprise, it moved up easily; just a couple of inches to start with, he thought, see what happens. Nothing. Try another couple of inches. This time, he felt a coldness on his fingers as he raised the window farther. He really didn’t think much of it…an old closed up house would be cold inside, he figured.

When he reached to move the window up farther, his fingers felt a distinct breeze coming out through the window from the inside. Now that’s a little strange, he mused. A musty smell tickled his nose, thick ‘n cloying. The air on his fingers began to sting. He yanked his hand away, turned and sank back against the old, gray siding. Now that tickling of excitement that he’d felt began to dissolve. He could feel the hair on his arms prickle as fear returned.

Momentarily the air from the window turned warm and putrid then it drifted off into the darkness and was gone. Once again, the air was cold. Then he heard it…a soft moaning from inside the old house. In spite of all the rumors Charlie had heard all his young life, none of them, at this moment, came to his mind. Charlie actually thought someone was in trouble, in pain and as he turned to shine his flashlight in the window, for a split second, he could actually imagine his picture on the front page of the Morning Star as a hero who saved someone’s life.

In his excitement, he shoved open the window, fought back those tattered curtains and shined his flashlight beam into the bowels of the old Stanbury house.

Now it was too late, just too damn late….

©bl David
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To be continued….

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Dead of Night...Halloween story (ch.3)