It took five days for the Dumont Sheriff’s department to identify all of the bodies found at Reece Park on the night Billy died. Everyone was baffled at how twenty three corpses ended up spread out among a dozen dead deer in what could only be described as a protest demonstration. The local press were blaming an animal activist group out of Morgantown who were angry towards the county’s deer culling practices.
Over the past month bodies were taken from morgues and funeral homes in a twenty mile radius around Dumont. How the bodies were taken or transported was never discovered and no one was ever prosecuted for the crime.
A week after Billy’s death, Sara was still missing. She disappeared the night Billy was hit by the truck without a clue to where she went. A missing person’s report was filed by her parents, but no one expected to find her. Everyone assumed Sara became so distraught at loosing her boyfriend that she ran away.
Madison seemed to miss Sara the most, but wouldn’t let it show. I only knew because every night, I could hear her say a prayer for her missing friend. I realized my sister had more emotionally invested in their relationship than simple friendship. I think Madison had really liked Sara, but never was able to tell her.
Howard Perry was released after Stan came forward as a witness in Laura’s death. He had watched Billy bash her head in with a hammer. Stan knew where Billy hid the murder weapon and was all to happy to provide that information to the police.
The police dropped the first degree murder charge, but the district attorney still wanted to prosecute Perry for the statutory rape of a minor. Laura was only seventeen when they started their affair. Perry could still see jail time, but at least it wouldn’t be a life sentence.
Since Martin’s spirit was destroyed, my great aunt Lily was spending more time with my grandmother. Lilly watched her nephew, Martin, grow from a baby into an old man and missed him very much. My grandmother was grateful for Lilly’s company while they shared heart warming stories of my grandfather’s life.
Diana was thinking about going back to college, eager to leave Dumont behind. We talked about her moving to New York, but she didn’t want to be that far away from her dad. Her father would have to get someone for part time work, while she re-enrolled at West Virginia University. She would come back on the occasional weekend or holiday to help him out.
When the phone rang I looked at the caller ID. I didn’t want to answer it, but I knew I had to make more of an effort. Instead of ignoring it, I answered my mother’s call.
“When are you coming home?” My mother questioned shortly after we exchanged pleasantries. It was a question that made me want to stay away, just because she asked. It was only a question, but it ignored everything that had happened on my visit to Dumont.
“I’ll come home after the new year,” I answered, but wasn’t sure if I even wanted to return to New York. “I’ll take the bus back in.”
“How are you, Charlie?” my mother asked sincerely.
“I’m fine, mom,” I answered. “And you?”
“I’m good, too. I’m sorry about your grandfather. I know the two of you became close in the short amount of time you had.”
“It’s okay.” I lied. I wasn’t fine and nothing was okay, but I didn’t want to talk about it with her.
“It’s okay to be sad,” my mother empathetically declared. “You’re grandmother said...”
“Did you know about Billy?” I asked cutting her off. “Did you know we were brothers?” My anger surprised me, but I didn’t stop myself from feeling it.
“Your father told me what happened between him and the sheriff’s wife. He never knew about Billy. Stephanie never told Logan the baby was his. It would have happened a couple of years before Logan and I met. I wasn’t sure if the sheriff forced his wife to keep it secret, but Logan never knew.”
“Do you think my dad would have wanted to take care of him?”
“Yes, Charlie,” my mother said. “He would have loved Billy from the start, just like he loved you.”
“Mom, can I ask you something else?”
“Anything,” she simply said.
“Was my father a bad person?”
“No, Charlie, he was a good person,” my mother said in defense of my father. “He tried doing the right thing when he could. Don’t let a couple of bad decisions he made during the end of his life have you judge him to harshly. Logan was a good man. He loved us and I loved your father, Charlie. He would be proud of the man you’ve become.”
I didn’t know what else to say, so I ended the call with, “Love you, mom,” and hung up.
For New Year’s Eve, I took Diana out on a proper date to a real Italian restaurant. Afterwards we went back to the Sunnyledge for desert. My grandmother made apple pie, which we ate with some home made vanilla ice cream. We milled around the tv and watched the ball drop in New York at midnight.
My great aunt Lilly joined us, taking an interest in Matt as one year ended and another began. She promised she would teach him the ropes of the after life. She had over a hundred years of practice and could take Matt under her wing.
It was bittersweet on my last night at the Sunnyldege. I wanted to stay longer, but I knew I had to return to New York. There were things in my life that needed fixing. Things I needed to do to restart my life. When I was ready I would come back to Dumont and spend time with my new family.
That night, I decided to read the rest of the professor’s journal before going to bed. I was almost at the end and wanted to leave the book in the study before I left. It wouldn’t be a good idea to take the antique out of the house.
It pained me that Martin never had a chance to read the journal before his ultimate demise. It would have been nice to get his insight into what happened all those years ago.
I was disturbed at how far Howell would go to prove the existence of the paranormal. Since the start of his journey to Dumont he made all the wrong decisions. He said he was given the ability to read and write in a language only necromancers could read. Yet, I didn’t know if the journal was a work of fiction.
I flipped through the pages and was surprised the last entries were again in English and not the language of the dead.
I can no longer understand Necrovul. The skill has slipped my mind as quickly as it had appeared. The only remaining evidence of its existence is what I’ve written in this journal. I look back, but cannot decipher any of it. It is like I never recorded my words in the first place.
My memory is clouded, but I’m fully aware of what I did. I don’t remember having any remorse when I killed that man. How is that even possible? I came to Dumont to prove the existence of the paranormal. I have done so, but at the cost of condemning my damned soul to hell.
I need forgiveness for committing such an atrocity, but I can tell no one. Nor can I obtain forgiveness from any living soul. I cannot return to the university and I have no idea if I can ever go back to my family.
I’ve destroyed my life.
I can’t remember how the ritual escalated to murder. It was Lilly who opened my eyes, but I fear she is no longer advocating for my well being.
I’m certain something is wrong with Lilly. Her spirit no longer exhibits the young sweet personality of a ten year old girl.
I worry about her while I ponder what I should do. Lilly does not seem herself, and seems almost troubled. There is another feeling I get when in her presence. It is a dark feeling I cannot describe. It was not there before the ritual, but now I sense it’s presence.
God, please help me. I fear we unleashed something terrible upon this world. It must have come back to this world from the depths of hell. I did this. I brought the creature forth and I fear none of us are safe.
I don’t know how to fix this. She is too powerful. She wants the chronicles back, but I can’t let that happen. I couldn’t give them back to her.
I tried to destroy it, but the book would not burn. It would not catch fire, no matter how much I tried. Something supernatural protects it.
She can never know where I hid it, yet I worry eventually someone will find my hiding place. Please protect the book. I’m afraid I do not have very much time left.
No one should have the necromancer chronicles. They are evil, pure evil. The book cannot be destroyed. If you find them first, do not let Lilly get the book.
They are resting with my sins until you find a better solution. Protect them at all cost. I warn you, do not use the chronicles. The book will bring the darkness to your soul.
Do not trust the child. Do not trust her. I don’t know when it happened. The spells were never meant to give me proof of the after life. They were for her, for Lilly. I killed for her cause, not mine.
Now, I fear for my life. She will come for me. I only hope hell is not waiting for me at the end.
God, please forgive me.
I jumped down from the bed and ran downstairs as fast as I could, almost knocking over a lamp in the hallway. How had I missed it? How had I not seen what was right it front of my face?
When I went downstairs I looked for Lilly or Matt, but they were already gone. I reached out with my will to find Matt, but I couldn’t get a lead anywhere. Something was blocking my power from finding him. There was no sign of Matt or Lilly anywhere.
There was only one thing I could think of doing. I took the journal and flipped back to Howell’s description of where he buried the drifter’s body.
I grabbed a shovel from the tool shed and walked up to forest’s edge behind the Sunnyledge. I read the passage once again.
I have disposed of the body deep in the forest where no one will find it. I dug the shallow grave at the base of a large oak tree. The Sunnyledge loomed in the distance while I chipped away at the hard earth. The winter made my work harder, but I managed to finish before the sun crept over the hills. He will have the rest of time to admire the forest animals sipping at the brook.
“Charlie, where are you going?” My sister asked when she saw me lace up my boots.
“I have to find something,” I said as I started off into the woods with my sister following right behind.
When she caught up to me, she asked, “What are we looking for?”
I told my sister about the journal and showed her the passage. Howell buried a body out in the forest and left clues to finding it. If I found the body, than Howell was telling the truth and the chronicles were not only real, but could be with it. If the body wasn’t there, than I would know Howell was lying.
We heard the running water before we saw the brook. We walked along the edge, keeping the Sunnyledge in my line of sight. Now all we had to do was find a larger than normal oak tree.
We scanned the area, but were unsure if we would recognize which tree it was. Thankfully, when we saw the large oak we instantly knew it was the right one. The tree was older than any other tree in the forest and really stood out. It was at least ten feet around the trunk and stood over a hundred feet tall.
“Where should we start digging?” Madison asked.
I sent my will into the earth and expanded it out into a large circle. There were other small animals buried through out the soil, but only one animal big enough to be human. I started to chip away at the frozen earth until I was able to shovel out the dirt. Madison and I traded off every ten minutes until we uncovered the shallow grave.
The drifter’s skeleton peeked out of the soil as we uncovered it in its entirety. The body was here. The body was right where he said it would be. Howell had really killed someone. He had really taken a life in pursuit of power.
We removed the skeleton and continued digging until we uncovered a square wooden box below the grave. We climbed out of the pit and I set the box on the ground. A small rusted metal lock was easily broken off with a rock I found near by.
When I opened the box I was surprised it was empty. The inside of the box was covered in red satin. Exactly the size of a large book.
“The chronicles should be here,” I said to my sister.
“What does it mean?” Madison asked.
“It means that someone already found the necromancer chronicles. Logan or Martin unearthed the drifters grave before I was born and took them. When Martin killed Logan he must have hid the chronicles somewhere else.”
“Do you think Howell was telling the truth about Lilly?” Madison asked.
“It makes sense. Lilly corrupted Howell over a hundred years ago. She used him to carry out a ritual that needed a human sacrifice to work. It could have only come from the chronicles. Howell hid the chronicles and they didn’t pop up again until my father must have found this journal or spoken to Lilly directly about it. Lilly must have searched for over a hundred years for them.”
If that was true, and Lilly wanted the chronicles there was a good chance she was helping Billy too. There was a good chance that Lilly has guided Billy along the dark path of necromancy when his powers began to manifest.
Billy would come back for the chronicles one day. He would come back for them with Lilly at his side. That meant, I needed to find the book before they did. It was up to me to continue protecting the chronicles from dark necromancers like them. To do that, I needed to find the book first.
He found the body on the third day. It had taken him a long time to find one that fit his exact needs. His choices were limited and in the end he decided an older gentlemen who died from natural causes was better than a woman with half of her face burned off.
He checked everywhere, but had a hard time finding anything useful. The morgues, the hospitals, and funeral homes were all completely empty. He was currently possessing the only fresh corpse within twenty miles of Dumont, that wasn’t horribly disfigured.
That he realized was his own fault. For the past month he emptied the surrounding area of newly dead bodies to create his army of nefari. The plan had worked perfectly, but in the end he forgot to keep one of the bodies for himself.
He needed a fresh corpse if he was going to blend in so his present choices were limited. Only people who died within the last day or two would be a possibility.
The steel drawer opened on its own and the body of the late seventy-eight year old Sam Katz sat up. He pulled a white sheet from his wrinkled naked body and jumped down off the steel table. He misjudged his physical strength and landed awkwardly on his foot. He was fascinated when he heard the bones breaking but didn’t feel any pain. Instead, the broken area felt absolutely numb.
He looked down at the damage. The impact broke the two little toes on his left foot. Mr. Katz would have vomited from the pain, but now he never had to feel it again.
He regretted taking possession of a man with such brittle bones, but there was no other choice. He would need to find a younger and stronger body later. Something that was less fragile for the next part of his plan.
He grabbed a pair of scrubs from the dirty laundry and slipped them on. The scrubs were three sizes to big, but Mr. Katz tied the rope along his waist to make them stay up on his thin frame.
Mr. Katz slipped out the back exit, avoiding the staff who were working the grave yard shift at the hospital. Waiting in the back alley, a stolen Ford Taurus sat idle. The old man walked towards the car and opened the passenger door.
Mr. Katz dropped awkwardly onto the low seat as he moved incredibly slow. He was tiny and hunched over from his body’s advanced osteoporosis. His face was a spider web of wrinkles and his arms were covered in liver spots.
“That’s the best you could do?” Sara asked her boyfriend from the driver’s side as he clicked his seat belt into place.
Billy smirked under Mr. Katz’s sagging skin. “We’ll find a better one when we have time,” he noticed Sara’s frown. “I’ll even let you help pick the next one.”
Sara’s face lit up with excitement as she thought about the possibilities. She would have fun picking out a new body for her boyfriend. Not that she didn’t like the previous one. When Billy told her his plans she knew she would miss the familiarity of his touch.
“So, where are we going, baby?” Sara asked.
“To see an old friend,” Billy responded. “Lilly, says she knows where the necromancer chronicles are.”
“What are we going to do about Charlie?” Sara asked. “He almost ruined out plans. What if he...”
“Don’t worry about, Charlie,” Billy said cutting her off. “I have that covered.”
“I love you, Billy,” Sara whispered to the old man before she put the car in drive.
“And I love you, too.” Billy whispered back.
TO BE CONTINUED
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