Jack couldn't sleep well. His mind was focused on getting the money. He doubted it that Dale will help him out but he had to try. Maybe there was a small chance that his boss will have some compassion. Dale had money but he didn't just give it away for a promise of getting it back. He was a good businessman, this was one of the reasons why he was successful. The other was Jack, he could repair almost anything. Jack knew this so he was hopeful that good old Dale will save his skin.
Jack got up early. He couldn't bear tossing and turning anymore. Angela was sleeping beside him like a log. They made love before going to sleep but it wasn't like on other occasions. Jack was usually a ferocious lover and Angela liked that very much. She wasn't a bad one either, the two of them were a perfect match from a sexual point of view.
This time the sex was, however, not so good, boring even. Jack lied to her and said that it's because he was tired. Angela knew that it wasn't that but she let him be. She didn't want another argument with him. Before she fell asleep, she thought about David and the endless loving embraces they shared in this very bed.
Jack dressed up and went straight to the Crazy Fox. No, not to get drunk but to drink coffee until his mind clears up and he can think.
The Crazy Fox was close to the Brooks residence so he walked. The cool air was beneficial, he began to wake up from the dizziness. Jack entered the bar and was struck by the heavy air. The smell of stale beer combined with remnants of perfume and cigarette smoke was heavy on his nose.
The place wasn't too big but it could accommodate the town's alcoholics and the broken-hearted folk. Jack headed straight to the bar, the old wooden floor creaked painfully under his weight. In the left corner, an aging jukebox was spitting some country music out. Near it, at a small table sat two old guys with beers in front of them.
A tall and broad-shouldered man stood behind the bar and was putting glasses and plates where they belonged. He was calm and confident, his every move betrayed years of experience. When Jack entered, he looked up and smiled. The two of them befriended each other soon after Jack moved into town.
'Hey, Jack,' the bartender greeted him, 'what's up?'
'Good mornin', Bernie. How are ya?'
'Working, as usual. These damn drunkards would die of thirst if it weren't for me,' he said and nodded towards the two old men, 'what brings you here at 8 in the morning?'
'Nothin' special. I just couldn't sleep. Can you make me a damn-strong coffee?'
Bernie made him the coffee and Jack began sipping it with delight. It was bitter but it didn't matter. Many things are bitter in life, he thought for a second, and taste like shit but we still do them. Jack laughed internally at this idea. It was true but it was a long time since he last thought like this. Damn philosophy, he murmured, we do whatever benefits us. The rest is just empty words.
Somebody tapped him on the shoulder. He turned and the coffee cup almost slid out of his grasp. The two pimps were standing in front of him smiling like two drugged clowns.
'Yippie ya yee, Jackie boy,' said the younger one and signaled to the bartender to go away, 'looks like our friend here has sleepless nights. What might cause them, I wonder?'
'I don't have the money yet.'
'Yeah, we figured,' said the mustached man, 'if you had the money, you would have given it to us and we would have been on our way.'
'Right, we wouldn't be here wasting our time. Instead, we would be with the boss, tasting all the young pussy and drinking whiskey all night.'
'I will...' Jack began but the younger man held up a finger.
'Oh, we know you will but we have a better deal in case you don't get the money. At least we don't have to stain our expensive clothes with your blood.'
'What's the deal?' asked Jack and hoped for the best.
'You know,' began the young one, 'I've got really fond of the two broads you are living with...'
Jack made a sudden gesture like he wanted to jump on him and punch him in the face. The man just raised his finger again and Jack knew that if he makes any stupid moves, he will regret it. He didn't really love Angela anyway. She was just a means to an end. He used her to escape from his past and she was good to have sex with. The bonus to all this was that he had a roof over his head.
His reaction could be attributed more to the fact that somebody called his woman a broad. Jack's ego suffered a cut from those words, nothing else.
'So,' the man continued, 'if you don't deliver the money, you will deliver the girls. They could make really good whores. Am I right, Steve?'
'Yes, you're right, Charlie.'
'Think about it,' the other one continued, 'just how much will a wealthy customer pay for a real mother-daughter deal?'
'A lot, so hurry up, Jackie-boy. And don't try to do anything stupid. We will be close by and watching.'
'You have three days, my friend. If you don't deliver the money you will deliver the girls. We'll pay you a visit on Wednesday at work.'
That being said, the two men walked away. Jack just stood there looking into his coffee as if being in a trance.
Maybe it's time to move on, he said to himself. Get rid of these people as soon as possible and move to another town in another state. Maine sounded like a good idea to him. If Dale doesn't give him the money, he will prepare for the abduction. Maybe get a van and something to drug the girls so he can load them inside without difficulty.
If that bastard Dale will not help him, maybe he should cut his throat. Just for the hell of it and for old time's sake. Maybe, who knows, Jack thought as he sipped his remaining coffee, he hadn't killed anybody for some time. After some further thought, he realized that killing Dale wouldn't be a good idea because it will draw suspicion on him. He could also kill him and take his money to avoid giving up Angela and Jess to the pimps but then the police will interrogate all of Dale's employees. If they run a background check on him, that will be the end of it.
Simply taking the money from Dale's safe was also a possibility but given the fact that he'd been accused of stealing from his previous employer, Dale's suspicion will fall on him first. So the only reasonable option remained, in his mind, to give up the girls and get the hell out of town.
'Thanks for the coffee,' said Jack to the returning bartender.
'Everything all right?' asked Bernie while throwing a suspicious look at Jack.
'Yeah, it's ok. Do you know these guys?' he asked because Bernie got out of there without question when the men signaled him.
'No, I don't,' said Bernie and leaned over the bar, resting on both elbows, 'but I've seen a lot of people and I recognized one of their tattoos. Don't worry,' he added, 'I know what these assholes are capable of and I don't want them on my head. Nothing ever happened here this morning, all right?'
'All right, thanks,' said Jack and shook Bernie's hand.'
Jack went on his way but didn't want to go home so he decided to go to the car dealership on Main Street to see if there are any used vans for rent. Of course, he never wanted to bring it back. He thought about the problem of suspicion again. If the girls disappear, the police will think that he had done something. No problem, he thought, he'll just use one of the many fake ID's he has from working for his previous boss and get as far as possible. Maybe change his appearance also, that would help for sure.
As Jack was walking on towards Main Street, he noticed Frank. The boy looked awful but his face betrayed dangerous anger and hatred. No wonder that he avoided the busy streets. In a condition like this, he would have avoided them too.
Andy, Chris, Jess, and Danny met up in front of the library at a little past midnight. Danny brought a hacksaw to cut the iron grates which barred the windows on the library's right side. Andy brought a crowbar which he supposed they will be needing if the body is behind the wall. They went around the building and crouched between the bushes. The night was still and the fog was thick. Nobody would have discovered them even if they walked past them at a distance of a few feet.
'It's another resurrection night,' said Jess and shivered for a moment.
'Yeah,' said Chris without expecting an answer, 'who's it gonna be this time?'
'Who the hell knows,' said Danny smelling the cold night's air, 'it can't be worse than the priest.'
'I agree,' replied Jess, 'I really hope that it won't happen again.'
'It can't revive the same person twice,' said Andy in a solemn voice.
'I know, I just hope that it won't bring back more psychos. They are bad enough while they are alive...'
'Yeah, but unfortunately it's all random,' said Chris, 'or at least nobody knows how the demon selects them.'
'Doesn't matter,' said Danny and went to one of the windows, 'let's do this and talk after.'
With hands that were used to do all kinds of work, Danny began sawing at the grate. The iron was old and rusty so it wasn't difficult to saw it through. After he removed the bars, he gently hit the white windowpane with the hacksaw's handle. The glass shattered, some fell inside and clattered on the floor of the basement.
They grimaced when the stale air hit their nose. Nobody had been there for many years, it was like a time capsule, they thought. Andy shone his flashlight inside and it revealed stacks of boxes, broken shelves, furniture and crates. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. Danny climbed through the window first then jumped down on the floor. A grey cloud of choking dust filled the air but their lungs resisted. The drop to the floor was a good eight feet but Danny was agile so he had no problem jumping. In a minute or so, all four members of the Gang were inside. With their flashlights, they searched their surroundings to find anything that is unusual.
Chris said that the body was behind one of the walls so they went around the place and looked carefully at the walls which once had been white. Now they looked more like the walls of a long-abandoned asylum. They didn't have to search for long because Andy managed to spot the part of the wall which was most likely hiding the body.
The wall wasn't flat at this part. It was bumpier and the paint had a slightly different color. It was lighter than the rest of the wall. Andy took the crowbar in both hands and immediately started working on it. The bricks were loose, it was a quick job. Andy was familiar with bricks because he had helped his father build the garage.
The bricks came out one by one, the others were helping by hand. A faint smell of death and dust hit their nose. After some of the bricks had been removed, Danny shone the flashlight at the gaping hole inside the wall. A skeleton with a wide grin was staring at them. It still had some clothes on its torso but they were ragged and torn. A gaping hole in the skeleton's head told the tragic story of death by gunshot.
'Look,' said Chris, 'that's where the sheriff had shot him.'
'Yes,' replied Jess in a pitiful voice, 'poor man. He had just done his job, nothing more...'
'I can't believe the sheriff could've done such a thing,' said Andy.
'Me neither,' replied Danny, 'the worst part is that Nate's father was also a part of it.'
'Yeah, but why kill him in the first place?' asked Jess.
'What?' asked Chris.
'I mean who would have believed him anyway?'
'He would've written a story, that's why,' Chris replied being proud to have the answer, 'and then all the stupid morons would have come here to dig things up. Pun absolutely intended.'
'You're the moron, smart-ass! How can you keep joking when people are dying around us?'
'Would it change anything if I cried?'
Jess didn't answer. She knew he was right.
'That's right,' Chris replied and began working on the bricks again.
Soon they uncovered the upper part of the skeleton. The kids were precautious, they didn't want it to fall on them. Dirt surrounded the skeleton, it was almost embedded in the soil. As they uncovered more and more of it, the kids saw there was a leather bag beside the skeleton's legs.
Andy gently pulled it out and put it on the floor. For a moment, all them thought that whatever was inside it is long gone, soaked in water and eaten by mold. Jess used her feminine hands and opened the bag. She wasn't hurrying because the bag was fragile. The others watched as she searched its insides. She took out of it many now unrecognizable things. They were either rusted or soaked to disintegration.
Her hand touched a small plastic bag and she pulled it out, it was sealed tight. Opening it revealed an old book. The journalist, for some reason, had taken extra care with it. He must have considered it a valuable asset.
'The journal,' said Chris and raised a clenched fist, 'I love when I'm right!'
'Yes, you were,' said Jess, 'I give you that.'
Jess opened the book, it contained passages written by hand using the good old pen and ink method. She closed it again, sealed the bag and looked at the others with questioning eyes.
'Now what?' she asked.
'We have to put the bricks back,' said Andy throwing a tired look towards the bricks then the grinning skeleton.
'Wait,' asked Jess again and pointed towards the journalist's remains, 'shouldn't we tell somebody about it?'
'Not now,' said Chris, 'we'll tell everybody if you want to but now we have to shut up and move on.'
'He's right,' said Andy, 'let's put the bricks back and get out.'
They put the bricks back in their place with rushed moves then climbed out the window using a wooden crate. For them, the night held no more surprises except Andy's nightmare which, as usual, tormented him on resurrection night.
This time it was short but way scarier than on other occasions. He saw his funeral again. His friends and his family were attending but didn't seem to notice him, not even Jess. The worst part was when they put the coffin into the grave. As he stood beside the hole, he began hearing muffled screams and pounding. Looking around he didn't see anything that could have made the noise. A few seconds later, he realized that it was him, he was being buried alive. Just as the realization hit him, Andy woke up covered in sweat and shaking from fright.
He sat for a while on the side of his bed. Chris was laying on his side with his face turned towards the wall, sleeping.
Andy was thinking about the dreams, are they really telling him that the only way to end the ordeal is to kill himself? If there is no other option, he thought, he'll do it. He'll do it for Jess, he'll do it for his parents and for his friends. Yes, he muttered, I will do it even if I shit my pants from fear.
Frank was angry that morning when Jack saw him. He was going to meet his friend, Jim. The two of them were meeting the first time after Frank got the humiliation of his life. Every bone in his body ached, trying to sleep in momma's basement wasn't helping either.
After Jack saw the boy, Frank turned right. He and Jim met in front of Jim's house on Ashwood Street which was located close to the center of town. Slim Jim was calm and careless, as usual. He greeted his friend with his everyday empty stare.
'You don't look so good. What happened?' he asked.
'No shit! I got beat up, that's what happened!'
'Who beat you up?'
'No, dickhead, I'm just joking,' said Frank and threw his hands up in the air, 'yes, they beat me up with baseball bats and pieces of steel pipes.'
'Damn right, it's bad! They caught me by surprise, fucking rats. I will kill them all but first I want to scare the hell out of them. Cocksuckers!'
'All right, what's your plan?'
'I want to burn their clubhouse down. I've found it, it's on the edge of the forest. An old shed...but anyway, I want to burn it to the fucking ground.'
'I can give you gasoline if you want to.'
'Yes, you bring the gas but you'll help me. Just remember how the two little pricks humiliated us,' said Frank accentuating the 'us'.
'You're right,' Jim agreed, 'let's do it tonight, my dad won't be home so I can stay out as long as I want to.'
'Good, we meet here at midnight and then we're gonna burn that fuckin' place down.'
They indeed met a few minutes after midnight and headed towards Coldhill Street. The straightest path which was leading to the Shed from Jim's house went through the cemetery.
The two bullies hurried through the thick fog. Jim was carrying a canister filled with gasoline. Frank couldn't wait to see the blazing shed. He was already imagining the face of the kids as they discover the next day what he had done. The cemetery's gates were open. After Old Jimmy had died, nobody cared to close them.
Frank and Jim entered the gates without a second thought not knowing that an evil force had just begun working not far from the main path. They walked for some time, Frank was panting but he was relentless. Jim had an easy time, he walked beside Frank and smoked with great patience cigarette after cigarette.
An eerie silence filled the night but Frank didn't notice it, Jim just didn't care. The air was at a stand-still and fog filled the darkness.
'Hey, Frank,' whispered Jim and put his hand on Frank's shoulder, 'you hear that?'
'Listen,' said Jim and pointed towards the graves, 'it's coming from there.'
Frank stopped and listened. Shoveling, he thought, it was the unmistakable sound of shoveling, digging.
'Grave robbers or maybe those shit-eating rascals,' said Frank and moved towards the source of the sound.
'Wait,' said Jim, 'what are you doing?'
'Let's check it out,' said Frank and drew a knife from his pocket which had a blade of about six inches.
He disappeared in the mist. Jim didn't understand Frank's behavior, he expected that he will ignore everything and will go on to burn the shed. Maybe he just wants to find trouble everywhere he can, thought Jim and followed Frank. Slim Jim had never been a sage but this time he was right. Frank had been beaten and punished too much and now he was eager to deal out some punishment himself.
Jim was walking between the graves in search of his friend but couldn't see him. After a few more careful steps, he found Frank but he wasn't moving. It appeared to Jim that Frank is looking at something with wide eyes and a gaping mouth. When he looked in the direction of Frank's gaze, he saw it. The demon was staring at Frank then it shifted its gaze to Jim. He got paralyzed by fear and something else also. Something hellish and merciless blocked his legs and froze his soul.
Both of them stood there like they had grown roots. The demonic gaze held them frozen in time for a few more seconds then they both collapsed to the ground and remained there until the early morning. The shed remained untouched, Frank and Jim, however, didn't.
Somebody got a second chance, a chance to have revenge because there was no other possibility. Somebody, neither dead nor alive, began shuffling towards Linden, hungry for blood. The demon retreated into the fog and was waiting with spade in hand. Waiting for the dead to return again.
Harry Cook was drunk for some time and he had fallen asleep on the couch. The television was turned on but nothing that came out of it reached his numb mind. Harry was at his lowest point ever. He had lost his wife years ago and now it looks like his son is also gone.
Where, he was wondering before falling asleep? His thoughts alternated between guilt and hate, he didn't really know which was the true one. Maybe both feelings were true at the same time. He hated his now dead wife for nagging him so much. She always argued about the drinking and about him staying out late with his friends. In his mind, she was to blame because she got old and ugly and he didn't want to do anything with her in the bed so he began drinking.
Sometimes he felt responsible for her death. After all, he still felt something for her and after she had died, he was really feeling her absence. But the booze helped him overcome this and his feelings became numb.
Now the wounds have opened again. Harry's first reaction was, of course, to blame Kevin. Why couldn't he man up, he was thinking, how could I have raised such a whining pussy of a boy? Then he blamed himself, had he not argued with the boy that night, he would still be here.
Harry still had some hope because his son's body hadn't been discovered. Kevin could still be alive, he thought and hoped that it was true. Kerrigan had also told him that until a body is found, things can turn out either way. Of course, he wasn't aware that Kerrigan knew beyond the shadow of a doubt where Kevin's body is.
He had fallen asleep with thoughts like these, not paying attention to the fog outside and the evil it was hiding.
Harry opened his eyes, his head felt like it's going to explode. The light coming from the TV was hurting his eyes so opened them just enough to be able to get around. Even sitting up was hard. He knew he had to take a piss because he felt the pressure in his bladder but he was so numb that he couldn't feel the normal sensation which one feels when needing to take a leak.
After sitting up, he took a look at the television. There was some stupid late night show on. He noticed a strange shadow beside the TV but didn't think much about it. Then a nauseating smell hit his nose. The smell of death, he recognized it. What the hell, he thought, it might be a dead rat which had died under the floorboards somewhere.
He ignored the smell and stood up, the living room was whirling around him. Step by uncertain step he proceeded towards the bathroom but then the strange shadow spoke.
'Don't you recognize me?' it said in a gurgling, pain-filled voice.
Harry froze, his legs turned to rubber bands and he couldn't move an inch. Was it a trick of the mind, he wondered, or was it true that somebody was in the house? It was possible, he continued to talk to himself, because all the doors, including the front gate, were unlocked in case Kevin comes home.
'Where is Kevin, Harry?'
Harry turned in an instant because he realized that the voice wasn't an illusion created by his alcohol-drenched mind. The shadow was moving, coming closer and closer. The figure's steps were unsure, faltering. When it reached the middle of the room, Harry saw her. She was Samantha, his dead wife, back from the grave to avenge her own death. Harry was sure of this and he felt it justified. He also felt that this night he will pay for everything he had done to her, to Kevin, and to anybody else.
'Where is my son, Harry?' asked the dead woman in a much more commanding tone.
Harry couldn't utter a single word, his mind was trying to find some way to escape. He knew that it was futile but he had to try. The doors, he thought, the doors are open, I'll just run out onto the street.
'Do you want to know where our son is?' she asked.
'I-I d-don't...' the man tried to talk.
'He's in hell! He's in hell because of you. Don't worry, you will soon join him.'
Harry turned and fled towards the front door. Closed, damn it, he thought and his desperation and confusion grew. A heartbreaking sigh came from behind, then an evil laugh. The end was drawing near but Harry tried one last time to save himself. He ran to the window and punched it breaking the glass. A few more hits and the glass was pretty much out of the way. Getting out was a hard task for him due to his considerable beer belly.
When he was halfway out, panting from the fear and the effort, the dead woman grabbed his leg, the one which was still inside. He tried his best to break free from the grasp but couldn't, she pulled him in. Harry hit the ground with a loud thud and began to scream.
Screaming didn't help much, neither did thrashing and kicking. The dead woman picked up a piece of broken glass and stabbed Harry in the throat. The screaming transformed into gurgling as the vocal cords have been cut and blood began to flow into the lungs.
The next stab hit the right eye popping it. Harry grabbed the dead hands holding the glass and a blood-filled whining noise left his ravaged throat. Samantha picked up another piece of glass and stabbed the other eye then began cutting at Harry's face with hate and bloodlust bred in hell.
After she mangled his face, she moved on to his body. She kept stabbing and cutting until Harry died. Then she left, she had to go back. The demon was waiting for her to lay her to rest forever and erase every sign of her resurrection.
Nate was sleeping with the lamp beside the bed. The light coming from it was faint but comforting. He was able to sleep a few nights in a row because the ghost had left him alone. Of course, he knew that the ordeal isn't over yet. He was young, true, but he understood that it was playing with him and God wasn't helping him.
Or is it the case that God finally heard his prayers and made the ghost go away? At some point, this thought too had crossed his mind but he knew that it was just wishful thinking.
The ghost had left him alone this night too. When morning came and he woke up, a strange feeling crept into his guts. A feeling that something terrible is going to happen soon. Something, he couldn't imagine what, but it was like a pressure cooker. He felt it in the stale air of his room and then in the radiating sunlight out in the yard. Not even the sun could make the feeling go away.
Nate forced himself not to despair because it was the first thing he wanted to do. Despair is the refuge of the weak, he thought. He remembered what Father Matt had told him in the churchyard. He had to believe in himself, he had to believe in his friends also and then God will reveal himself in some form or another. Yes, he thought while sitting in the swing on the terrace, sometimes you have to plan everything ahead and do things by the plan. But there are times, like this, when you have to go on blind faith too and hope for the best.
What are we without faith after all? Mindless robots performing our daily tasks until our bitter death. Faith, hope and, dreams keep us alive and hold despair at bay, despair which is hiding at every corner of our lives.
The little boy felt better now. Yes, he was afraid, who wouldn't be? But he felt that they can overcome the evil together. If they'll do everything they can to vanquish the demon then God will see their faith and He will raise a finger which will tilt the balance in their favor. They just have to stand up for themselves.