Chapter 3-The McCasters
Last night, Cathy cooked parmesan chicken and I had two helpings of the delicious meal. I admit the McCasters are much friendlier and warmer than I expected. They even have a son around my age, well, around the age I would be if I hadn’t died.
I’m not sure if I’m considered twenty-nine since I wasn’t here living those years.
Mr. McCaster ended up convincing me to work in his own family’s business. Maybe scaring kids will take my mind off the whole necromancer situation. Since it is early fall, their haunted hayride is still running.
Besides, I get paid a couple of dollars over minimum wage. It won’t be enough to pay off rent for an apartment, hopefully, Wally’s is still hiring. They probably still have my old resume, it’s not like it changed. If I can get hired there again too, I should be set. The money will be tight though, but I will have to live with it.
In the meantime, I still must wait to have my name cleared so I can be allowed to leave and move out.
Crystal, the McCasters’ daughter, walks passed me to pour herself a bowl of cereal on the counter. We met last night after dinner, I think she was on a date with someone. Crystal’s hair is a darker shade of brown than her mother’s and her eyes are hazel.
“You’re up early,” she mumbles.
“Yeah, I didn’t sleep that well.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about being stuck in that coffin and the horrible feeling searing across my skin.
Crystal makes a pouting noise and her mother walks by us to answer someone at the door. Maybe David got back from town already. Wait, he only left ten minutes ago. It must be someone else.
A deep voice speaks up from behind me, “Mom, I see your new guest has settled in. It’s a shame you got caught in the middle of this. Patty’s got her crew all over that graveyard, they even brought some weres in to sniff out the perpetrator. They think it might be someone in our coven.”
I look up from my toast to see a tall younger version of Mr. McCaster.
His dark brown eyes acknowledge me with a similar calculative gaze his sister gave me last night after dinner. Like his father David, the man wears a plaid shirt, except, his is green and black.
It’s weird, thinking I’m twenty-nine. Yet I feel no older than Crystal who is coincidentally the same age I would have been ten years ago.
“I’m William, but you can call me Will,” the man tells me and feeling a little awkward, I stand up and shake his hand.
“Valerie,” I say with an uneasy smile.
Will’s tan hands are calloused. He probably works here on his family’s land. I wonder if he lives here too.
“Well, looks like you have finally met our entire family. Why don’t y’all show her to the ski lift before people start showing up,” Cathy tells Crystal and Will.
William nods his head and hands his mother a stack of mail, thankfully no mice.
She takes the letters from him and flips through them, tossing them all in the trash except for a big rectangular yellow envelope. The handwriting on the front of it is etched in fancy cursive, she sets it on the counter and William’s relaxed expression turns hard when he sees the letter.
“Did they come over here again?” Will asks Mrs. McCaster in a lower voice.
Crystal looks between the two of them worried. Then she ducks her head and walks by them to head outside -- slamming the door behind her.
“William, they’re our neighbors. If they want to visit us they can,” Cathy says with sudden anger.
She excuses herself, giving me an apologetic look.
Well, I have no idea what that was about. Guess it’s none of my business. Darn it, I should have followed Crystal outside because now I’m stuck in here with her older brother.
He opens the door. “Are you a witch?” he asks offhandedly.
Silently, I nod my head. Before I died, I was fairly a quiet person. Guess some things never change.
“You must be pretty freaked out, but don’t worry. My family will protect you. I’m a warlock myself and my parents know what they’re doing unlike yours did. Not once has there been a disruption around the portal, no demons, no weres or witches have caused any issues.”
His words sting, bringing to surface the coven’s deep-rooted disdain of my family.
They have a mountain to hide the portal in. My parents had our yard which was only a couple of acres.
He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.We walk down a fenced path that leads around his parents’ house and to the ski lodge.
“So, what was it like being...dead?” Will asks me in an attempt to change the subject.
“It was peaceful.”
He doesn’t say anything after that. We enter the lodge and William shows me where the make-up and masks are. After I have my silly bloody coal miner outfit on, we head over to the ski lift.
I’m surprised he bothered using magic to dress himself up. Waste of time and energy if you ask me. The cold metal seat of the ski lift startles me when I sit down and Will slams the bar down over us before I can fall forward.
He sits down heavily in his seat and our lift sways. Nervous, I look up at the cable above us as we begin to ascend the hill. What no brooms? We could have flown up.
“Yeah, the coven has asked us not to use brooms until they find the necromancer,” William tells me as if reading my thoughts.
Why would they make up such a stupid rule? That’s one of the only things I actually learned how to do before I died. Why don’t they just ban driving cars too?
“Do you live here?” I ask breaking the silence.
“Nah, I live in town with a friend. We fix cars. It’s a pretty easy job to do with magic, but I don’t mind getting my hands dirty every now and then,” he boasts.
I turn my face away from him looking down at the line of trees to hide my smile.
He kind of does look like a mechanic, especially with his fake mullet and blood-stained jean vest. I catch sight of the hayride and hear people talking as they board the large red wagon. Mr. McCaster is the one sitting on the tractor, driving.
Eventually, we are at the top and I see the hayride start to creep up the mountain below us. The tractor’s dim yellow-tinted lights shine up toward us as it starts to climb the hill.
Will and I hop off the ski lift and stop at the entrance of the ‘haunted’ path.
“Remember your position?”
“In the shack behind the table.”
“Yup. I’ll be over by the mine shaft. Tony will be hiding outside the door, she’ll open it for the people. When you hear it open, that’s when you get in position,” he tells me while running up the hill like a madman.
A couple of guys, his buddies I’m guessing, high five him and disappear with him into the woods a little ways from me.
The shack is lit up by black lights inside, making it just bright enough to make out a butcher table and an abandoned baby cradle in the corner by the door they exit out of. The baby is on a timer to make crying noises, so people get distracted by it and give me time to jump out at them or scream.
“Hey, there,” Tony chides, entering the shack. She’s about my height, middle-aged and dressed as a clown.
She smiles. “Did the McCaster kid give you the rundown?”
“Yeah, oh I think I hear people coming,” I say hearing a group of teens walking down the hill above our shack.
“Good ear, just wait for the baby to cry and make your move. If you wait too long, they’ll be out of the shack.”
“Okay, thanks,” I whisper, backing behind the table and ducking under it.
A white blanket is laid over it and will keep me hidden.
Tony starts cackling crazily and I smile thinking it does sound pretty scary.
Groups and groups of people walk through our shack, some I scare better than others. I eventually get used to popping out from behind the table and after the last people walk through Tony tells me it’s time to take the lift down the mountain.
We ride down the lift together and I laugh along as she tells me about this grown man who she made scream and run, leaving his wife behind. By the time we reach the bottom of the mountain and enter the ski lodge, I’ve seemed to have forgotten about my worries.
After clocking out, I stare down at my new touchscreen phone the McCasters bought me. I wonder where Will and Crystal are. Hesitantly, I scroll through my contacts and hover over their two numbers. I think I’m going to call Crystal.
The number dials, but she doesn’t pick up. Maybe she’s already back at the house.
William pokes my shoulder.“Hey!”
“Oh, you scared me. Is your sister done too?” I ask him quickly, trying to match his pace.
Guess we aren’t waiting for her.
“Yeah, she’s at the start of the path. They always get done first. She probably went to the bar with some douche,” he scoffs while flipping through his phone.
When I died no one had phones with touch screens and just watching him type so fast on the screen is enough to blow my mind.
After Will helps me figure out how to find the flashlight on my phone, we begin trudging down the leafy path. When we reach his parents’ house he stops at what I’m guessing is his truck. It’s pretty late, but the porch is lit up well enough for us to both see that it’s occupied.
A tall man stands beside a woman talking to Mr. McCaster in the doorway.
Will’s gaze is glued on their backs.
“Jackson is missing? Well, he’s a werewolf and the night is alive and well. He could be anywhere,” Mr. McCaster huffs.
“I hope you’re not lyin’ Mr. McCaster.”
Who are these people? If they know someone’s missing they should have gone right to coven headquarters. A powerful witch could find a missing person very fast. I suppose Mr. McCaster is a powerful warlock himself. Maybe that’s why they came to him.
They must be neighbors.
Mr. McCaster’s attention focuses on the man.
“Darren, your brother may be missing, but if I find you trespassing on my land again you will be held accountable. Just because your parents are gone does not mean you will be allowed to do whatever you want. Report it to town headquarters if you are so worried, not me.”
The man named Darren turns to the woman next to him.
“Dad, you can’t be serious! His brother is out here somewhere. You cannot just turn him away!”
“Crystal, get in the house right now.”
She crosses her arms, storming inside without a word.
“You leave my daughter alone; don’t think I can’t see through you. Goodnight,” Mr. McCaster grunts before slamming the door shut in the man’s face.
Darren suddenly vanishes into thin air and my body goes cold, a vampire?
Will walks up with me to the house. “That’s one of the Silvets. Well, with any luck, you won’t see them again. I’ll see you tomorrow, Valerie,” he says.
This time, Mrs. McCaster opens the door. She ushers me inside after saying goodnight to her son.