The next morning Chris woke up and saw that his brother is troubled. Andy tried to hide it but only partially succeeded. His brother knew him much too well.
'Bad dream again?' Chris asked but knew the answer.
'Yes,' replied Andy, 'the worst of them all.'
'Sorry,' said Chris, 'will you come to the library with me?'
'No, not now. I don't feel right.'
'Ok, but would you at least tell me what the dream was about?'
'I don't know,' lied Andy, 'all I can remember is that it was bad.'
Andy remained in bed for some time but his brother was curious so, after a quick breakfast, he went straight to the library. There he hoped to find something useful.
Chris went inside the library and began thinking about where should he search. The top floor, he remembered, we haven't searched there before. On the top floor were some offices, including the director's office, so about half of it was filled with bookshelves.
Going up, he met Victor. The two briefly greeted each other. Victor was escorting a middle-aged man in a grey suit. They were heading down talking about some business ideas. Chris went on his way to the top floor and when he was passing before Victor's office, he noticed something.
The door was wide open and he noticed a plate filled with cookies on the table. It looked tempting so he looked around to see if anybody is there. He even checked between the shelves but the aisles were empty. People seldom came to the top floor. Maybe they were lazy, he thought.
A painful debate took place in his mind for a few seconds. Should he steal a few cookies or should he not? The angel and devil who were sitting on his shoulders were having an intense argument. He was thinking that he should have enough time because Victor wasn't in a hurry and there's a long way to the front door. Maybe Victor and the other man will be talking some more in front of the library, who knows?
Just when he was reaching for the last one, he heard hurried footsteps coming his way.
Chris panicked and looked around for a hiding spot. Running out was not an option so he had to hide. He ran to the sofa which was placed on the opposite wall from the table. Luck was on his side because there was enough space between the sofa and the wall for him to crawl in.
For a second, he thought that hiding was stupid because he was Nate's friend and Victor wouldn't have done him anything for stealing the cookies. But now it was too late, he decided to stay there.
Two people entered the office. He could hear from their steps and harsh movements that they were distressed.
'Lock the door!' said a harsh voice.
'Keith, what's wrong with you?' asked Victor.
'It's back! I'm sure now.'
'Come on! How...'
'Shut the fuck up and listen,' ordered the sheriff and raised one finger, Whayman drew back a step, 'I almost got killed last night. The damn devil raised Clarice from the grave.'
'No, it can't be...' said Victor and Keith saw the genuine surprise on his face along with good old fear.
'Yes, it can! I'm lucky it didn't come into my house,' said Keith and told Victor what had happened.
'But how is it possible?'
'I don't know! The book somehow got back and the demon's spirit continued to call. Kevin heard it and completed the ritual.'
'So, what are you going to do?' asked Victor after a brief pause.
'Me?' replied Keith, I thought that you are going to help.'
'No, no chance in hell.'
'Fuck,' said Keith becoming angrier, 'if we don't do anything, the whole town will go to hell!'
'Leave me out of this, I can't...'
'Are you saying that you want to abandon me again?'
'No, I'm just...' Victor began but couldn't finish.
'Afraid, I know. I'm afraid too but if you aren't going to help, I will be alone. Buddy sacrificed himself in '58 to save us, remember that. You chickened out while we tried to hold back the dead. Jim is also dead now. How am I supposed to stop this madness?'
'Maybe you shouldn't, leave it to somebody else. Call the whole fucking army if needed or throw dynamite into the pit for all I care!'
'You know that won't work, damn it! They would put me in the nuthouse. As for the dynamite...I don't have any and besides, who knows if it won't tear an even bigger fucking hole in the ground to swallow the whole damn town?'
'What can we do? I won't kill myself that's for sure.'
'I'm not saying we should kill ourselves but at least try something to stop it. We had a plan back then, remember? We couldn't do it then but let's try now!'
'That's crazy! How do you know that it'll work anyway?'
'Maybe you are right,' continued Keith angrily, 'why don't we just blow the whole cursed town up, huh?'
'Keith, please! Calm down, I'm sure there is a solution to it.'
'Yeah, there might be but since you are not willing to help, I'll have to find it out on my own.'
'I-I'm sorry,' said Victor and began to sob, 'I can't h-help you...I can't go down t-there again.'
'Look at you,' said Keith, 'you are a fuckin' coward. When it happened back then,' he continued in a calmer voice, 'I was angry with you, I wanted to put a bullet in your head.'
'M-maybe you s-should've,' interrupted Victor.
'That's not the point. Don't victimize yourself! The idea is that I tried to understand you. I really tried and I think I succeeded. I have forgiven you for letting Buddy die. We were all afraid, Buddy, Jimmy and I were just a little braver than you. But now it's time for you to man up and help me. If you don't do it for me, at least do it for Buddy and Jimmy. For fuck's sake! We even killed an innocent man! Or have you forgotten the body of the journalist we had to hide behind the wall of the basement?
'He knew too much and also found some evidence...'
'Yes, but he died in vain...we killed him in vain.'
Victor stared at the floor for some time. For him, it didn't seem a long time but for Kerrigan, it was an eternity. This was the breaking point. If Victor will not help him, then he will be helpless in front of the unstoppable evil. Keith saw that Victor is in great inner turmoil. He knew that his friend wanted to help but ultimately he won't. Victor wasn't a strong character and just didn't have the guts to do it. He'd rather kill himself than face the demon again.
Chris was crouching behind the sofa without a sound or movement. He was staring wide-eyed at the wall during the conversation and couldn't believe what he was hearing. Not just the five of them knew about the demon, there are adults too. It was a piece of much welcome news for him. He couldn't wait to tell the others. Or maybe he shouldn’t. What if Nate finds out that his father is a coward?
Silence and anticipation hung in the air like a dead man on the gallows pole. Chris was listening while withholding his breath. He really wanted to hear that Victor Whayman joins the sheriff and then the five of them join the adults to defeat the demon. He was almost seeing their victory in front of his eyes.
'I can't,' said Victor after a long pause, 'I'm sorry. I'd rather kill myself...'
Kerrigan sighed but said nothing. He was now a hundred percent sure that the weight of the whole task was resting on his shoulders. He sat down in one of the chairs in front of Victor's desk. His hands were shaking. Of course, Chris couldn't see this from behind the sofa but Victor could. It didn't matter.
'At least gimme a drink.'
Victor stood up without saying a word and approached the sofa. Chris thought for a few seconds that he'll get caught and began thinking about what to tell the men in case it happened. But Victor went straight to a cupboard which was near the sofa and took out a bottle of whiskey. He also took a glass and put them down on the desk. The sheriff poured himself a decent quantity and drank it dry.
'I haven't seen you drinking in a long time,' said Victor having no better idea what to say.
'I might as well begin now. You want some? It's really good.'
'Naw, thanks. Not at this time of day.'
'Come on! For old time's sake,' said Kerrigan and smiled but his eyes were piercing,' who knows, it might be our last drink together.'
'All right, I'll drink a little,' said Victor and went for another glass.
'That's my man!'
'Are you sure that nobody knows about the body in the basement?' asked Victor.
'I'm not sure about anything anymore. Nobody asked me about it. It's a cold case as far as I'm concerned.'
'Good to hear that.'
'Of course, it's good. It's also funny.'
'What is funny?'
'The fact that you are trying to make sure that your ass is safe by asking me about it. You just took into consideration that I might die and wanted to make sure that the secret goes with me to the grave.'
'No, it's not like that. You misunderstood...'
'Stop the bullshit! After I die, you will be the only one to know about it. The secret will be safe and you will be able to keep your precious job and keep fucking the young secretary. But you know what? One day it will come for you too, and it won't be pleasant. And I won't be there to help you.
Keith finished his second glass of whiskey and put it down on the table with a slam. He stood up and went out in a haste without saying a word. Victor stood in the middle of the office for a minute then started walking up and down. Chris was eager to get out so he listened for each step the man was making. After a few minutes, he heard Victor's steps departing from the office. He waited a minute or so and then snuck out of the office.
Chris still couldn't see anybody around so he went to the bookshelves in the far right corner. This way he thought that Victor will not see him if he comes back. He took out the cookies from his pocket and began eating them. They were delicious. It was an incredible stroke of luck that his desire for cookies lured him into the office.
He kept thinking about what to do. It was good news that not only the Gang knew about the daemon. The bad news was that the men who tried to interfere with the adults had been killed. It was dangerous to tell them anything. They couldn't risk exposing themselves. People, he reasoned, do really stupid shit when they are pushed.
All right, he thought, back to business, let's see what we can find. Last time they couldn't find anything useful, maybe this time it won't be different but he had to try. The shelves here were full of all kinds of books. It seemed that there is no order to them at all. On the lower levels, they are divided into sections like horror, sci-fi, fantasy, history and so on.
After searching for an hour or so, he took out a book which was entitled Strange Disappearances in America, by Herbert L. Brown. Interesting, Chris thought and opened it. The book was thick, it contained the detailed account of many disappearances by state. He quickly turned the pages until he reached Minnesota then sat down onto the floor and began searching for anything that seemed familiar.
As he began reading the very first account, it immediately caught his attention. It was about the disappearance of three people from the town of Linden. Other three had been brutally murdered then strange events had stopped.
Chris felt that there is a connection between the recent events and those from 1771 but wasn't able to see it exactly. As of the witch burning, this was the first mention of something like it in the United States. He didn't know much history but this was new to him.
The next few passages were talking about individual disappearances. Nothing out of the ordinary. Vague and ambiguous stories of almost no significance.
In 1805 there was again an incident where 5 people went missing. Two of these had never been found. One was dismembered into small bits and pieces, he was identified thanks to an arm ring. The other was found in a nearby cave with a half-eaten rat hanging out of his mouth. It appeared that he had eaten himself to death with rats. Gruesome, Chris murmured, the man had surely gone mad. Or was it cursed by the demon?
The answer lay in the next paragraph. When Chris saw the mention of the mysterious fog coming every third night, he knew what was it all about.
In 1850 the next strange event had taken place. This time the number of people who had disappeared was four, other three people had died in horrible and unexplained ways and one remained alive but she completely lost her mind. She was babbling about Satan, demons and the dead coming out of graves at night to take the living to hell.
The next event which was similar had taken place in 1889. Two people had gone missing, one had been found inside the grave of his late wife in 1903 when grave robbers tried to dig her up. She had had a lot of jewelry and people knew about this. When the grave robbers dug her up, the police had captured them and had noticed the two skeletons. Nobody knew who the other skeleton was but later investigations had shown that it was her husband. Two other corpses had been found in 1889. One was mummified like the life had been drained from the body in a matter of days. The people who had found the corpse told that the face had been distorted showing great agony and fright.
The other had been found eaten almost completely by maggots within a few days inside his own house. He had been living alone. Five more people disappeared without a trace.
The next wave of strange events had happened in 1928. It was the worst out of them all. Ten disappearances and four gruesome deaths. One of the deaths was especially shocking and it was still a classified case to this day. The fact that the victim was a homeless person helped to keep it somewhat a secret and the investigators probably persuaded people not to talk about it. Some information still managed to leak out.
After a foggy night, a man named Harold Shaw came into the hospital saying that he isn't feeling good. People knew him well, he was the notorious alcoholic of Linden and he slept in the cemetery in the summertime. His eyes were red, bloodshot which could have been attributed to heavy drinking but there were other odd symptoms. Soon after arriving at the hospital, his skin began turning blueish and started cracking. Blood was flowing from the wounds and the staff found it hard to stop it. His teeth began loosening and falling out together with his hair. It was all happening in a short period of time. Nobody there had ever seen anything like it. The hospital officials had put him in a quarantine fearing that he might have contracted a novel infectious disease.
The next day he began bleeding internally, then black blood started flowing from all of his bodily orifices and a foul stench filled the room and surrounding areas. His skin was now dark green, rotting away and falling in big chunks along with the flesh. Staff members sealed the area off completely due to the smell. The decay of his body soon resulted in the man's death. This was all the information in the book about 1928. The author couldn't get his hands on more.
Chris continued reading the book and found out that the next event happened in 1958. Eight people went missing, including Buddy Jenkins and a journalist from Washington DC who came here to ask around about the disappearances.
The book mentioned that he had phoned his wife at home to tell her that he had found something important. It was a journal which, he said, was crazy but explained a lot. Not long after the phone call, he disappeared too.
Nobody knew where his body was, except Keith, Victor and now Chris. The body was in the library's basement. If they are lucky then the journal is there too. They just have to go and find it. The journal could be the key to defeat the demon without anybody dying.
What to do now, he asked himself. How is he supposed to memorize all this important information? Chris decided that he'll borrow the book and take it home to show it to Andy than to the others.