On Monday morning, Jack went to work earlier. Dale was a morning person so he was sure he'll find him in the office. He was also almost sure that he won't get any money from him. This was his last shot to try and straighten out the situation. It was a fine line between normality if you can call it like that, and abduction and being a wanted criminal again. Jack considered it funny that his fate and the fate of the girls is resting on the shoulders of a greedy bastard, like Dale. It almost infuriated him then some of his remaining moral sense kicked in and he thought that he was no better. Worse, even. In any case, he deserved to be caught up by his past. It didn't matter, Jack wanted to play all his cards and if it turned out that the ace of spades was in some other hand, then so be it.
Jack found Dale in his office, he was counting money and putting it into envelopes. Who knows, Jack thought, what dirty business he got into but at least he has money. He can't refuse Jack with all this money in his possession.
'Good morning, man!' said Dale with a self-satisfied smile on his face.
'Mornin', boss!' replied Jack while eyeing the money all the time.
'Boss? You've never called me boss before, man. Sit down, what's the deal?'
Jack sat down and looked at Dale. The man was working, his movements were precise, his face resolute.
'Yeah, I guess you're right,' he uttered a faint laugh and looked at the floor,' I need a little...a little help, you know...'
'Yeah, man, I know. You didn't get the damn money.'
'No, I didn't...'
'And you're asking me to give you some.'
'Yeah, that's the plan,' replied Jack and continued watching Dale's puffy little hands working.
'Well,' began Dale while stuffing a stack of 50 dollar bills into an envelope, 'as you can see, I don't have money. I can't help you, man. I'm sorry.'
In the very second that Dale finished his last sentence, Jack wanted to jump across the table and bash the fat fuck's head into the table over and over until his brains would have been splattered all across it. He needed some self-control in order to repress his murderous impulses but his face betrayed him. It became red and the veins on his neck stood out. How was such arrogance possible? He sits there nonchalantly, Jack thought, counting all that money then tells me that he has none.
'I-I'll give you back the money as soon as I can, 'said Jack hoping that somehow he can persuade Dale.
'I know you will, man,' said Dale, stopped the counting and looked into Jack's eyes,' just like you had done before. This is why those asshead pimps are looking for you.'
'Dale, that was in the past and ya know it.'
'What? How'm I supposed to know it, man? You had done it before, you will do it again.'
'No, I won't. Dale, listen...I've changed since then. That's why I'm here, you know. I wanna make a decent livin'.'
'Look, man,' said Dale and took a fifty dollar bill in his hand, 'you're a damn good mechanic and I appreciate that. So consider this an advance for your next month's salary. This is all I can do for you now.'
He handed the bill to Jack, Jack then quickly pocketed it.
'Thanks,' said Jack but the look on his face was sour.
Dale didn't say anything else, he resumed his counting. Jack stood up and went outside. He wanted a coffee so he started towards the nearest cafeteria to buy a cup of coffee and something to eat.
As he was walking with his mind drifting away, a black car stopped at the side of the road not far ahead. He knew who was in the car. When he went closer, he saw the two pimps. They were wearing sunglasses and were smiling at him. The younger one was at the wheel and also he was the first to speak.
'Hey Jackie-boy, how ya doin'?'
'Doin' like shit, how 'bout you?'
'Oh, thanks for asking, we were good until we saw your sad face. Now we're better.'
They both laughed but then their faces turned serious.
'Change of plans Jackie-boy,' said the older one,' you have time until the day after tomorrow. The boss called, we have to hurry.'
'I can't get the money in two days.'
'That's too bad,' said the young pimp, 'I'm almost feeling sorry for ya. Then deliver the girls. We'll be at the edge of town on Wednesday night at the intersection of the main road and the dirt road that goes toward the woods, you know. We're gonna arrive at midnight just to be sure that nobody sees us. Don't fuck around too much 'cause it's gonna be bad for your health.'
'Thanks for the concern...'
'You're welcome, Jackie-boy. Have a nice day and don't forget the whores!' said the older man and gave Jack the finger.
The two pimps sped away in a heartbeat and had left Jack there staring at his feet. He was thinking. Tomorrow he has to plan it all out and on Wednesday night he has to make it happen.
It will be simple, he thought, he will hold Jess at knifepoint and Angela will do whatever he says. He will tie them up and load them into a van then drive away. It can't be any more simple. He did this type of 'work' many times. It was true that most of the times he had a gun but it worked just as well with a knife.
The gun is an impersonal weapon, he muttered under his breath, but the knife, oh, the knife is a completely different story, baby. Nothin' compares to a knife touchin' the face of the person you're gonna kill or abduct. You can feel their tremblin' through your hand. They're tremblin' 'cause they know that no matter how you're gonna kill them, it's gonna hurt. A gun, on the other hand, can be merciful. With a gun, you can blow a man's brains out so they don't feel shit.
He shivered for a moment, a shiver of both excitement and horror. The part of him that he thought he had left behind was coming to the surface. His rational side knew that it was wrong but, after so many years, he felt alive again. He felt the adrenaline, he began to enter the zone, as he called it. It was the point of no return, the place where abduction and murder felt good, where mercy and compassion felt pathetic and only for pussies.
Jack stepped onto a road where he had been before and knew all too well. A road where hell awaited him at the end.
The Gang was in the Shed again. Andy had a plan, it wasn't a good one but it was the best he could come up with. He also had a plan B which he didn't share with the others.
'So, what's the plan?' asked Jess with genuine curiosity.
'The plan is,' Andy began, 'that we have to gather as many weapons as possible and make our move on Thursday night.'
'Why Thursday,' asked Jess, 'why not tonight?'
'Because I want to alert the chief.'
'Sheriff Kerrigan?' asked Danny.
'Yeah, and we need time to prepare. We need to gather everything that's going to give us a chance of defeating that thing.'
'You really think we can do it?' asked Danny.
'We can!' said Nate and looked at them with a stern face.
They were not accustomed to this. Nate was always the sissy, he was always afraid and now he's giving them a lesson in courage. The others looked at him for a few seconds like he was an outsider, something just didn't add up.
'We can defeat it,' he continued, 'if we stick together and believe in each other.'
'Wow,' said Chris, 'that's new. We've never heard you talk like this before.'
'I know,' said Nate and looked aside as if ashamed of himself, 'we just have to stick together...and God will help us.'
'Here we go again...' said Chris with his eyes rolling.
'Make fun of me as long as you want to, I don't care...'
'Don't listen to him, Nate,' said Jess, 'you know that Chris is the king of all morons for a reason.'
'Yeah, I know,' replied Nate and watched as Chris gave Jess the finger then Andy slapped him on the back of his head, 'but with all this weird stuff happening, I don't know what else to say. Father Matt had told me to believe in myself and God will help me. But I also want to believe in you, guys. You are my only friends, I love you all, even King Moron here. If we want to defeat the demon, we have to believe in ourselves and we will do it.'
'Impressive,' said Danny scratching his head.
'Yeah,' said Chris, 'Bible-boy grew himself some balls.'
'Nate's right,' said Andy, 'we have to stick together and try to break the spade. I think that's gonna take away the demon's power.'
'How sure are you about this?' asked Jess and studied Andy's face with concern.
'I don't know,' he replied but avoided her piercing gaze, 'we'll see.'
'And how exactly do you want to do it?' she asked.
'I will begin the ritual...the ritual to send it back.'
'That's crazy, brother!'
'So are you!' replied Andy without even thinking about it.
They all laughed after hearing Andy's honest evaluation of his brother. Even Chris laughed. It didn't last much, however, because Jess intervened.
'And then what?' she asked.
'The demon will come out of the pit to stop me.'
'But it can't stop you,' said Danny.
'Exactly, it has to summon the dead to do the work for it. In the meantime, we break the spade. I think that a good swing with an ax can do the job.'
'And if it doesn't?' asked Danny.
'It has to!' said Nate fuelled by his newfound courage.
'All right! Sounds like crazy shit but I'm in. Why do we need lots of weapons?' asked Jess.
'In case something goes wrong.'
'Everything went wrong until now. Can it get any worse?'
'I don't know but if the demon summons the dead to stop us we'll need everything we can get our hands on.'
'Big brother is right, we're gonna shoot them dead people in the head...to make them more dead,' said Chris in a joking manner.
'Oh, God,' said Jess and slapped herself on the forehead, 'I really hope that the dead are going to take you. Let them listen to your stupid shit, not us.'
'Yeah, I agree,' said Danny, 'at least they can't be bored to death...'
'How will you tell the sheriff about this?' asked Jess.
'I will write a note and I'll stick it under the windshield wiper of his patrol car. Or something like this...'
'Do you think that he will believe us?' asked Danny.
'Yeah, he will,' replied Chris, 'I was there, remember? He takes this stuff seriously. I wonder why he didn't do anything until now?'
'Because he's alone, that's why,' said Andy.
'My dad doesn't want to help him, 'said Nate, 'I guess I'll have to talk to him.'
'Good idea,' said Jess, 'tell him everything.'
'I will tonight,' replied Nate not knowing what horror was waiting for him after nightfall.
'All right then,' said Andy, 'tomorrow we should bring everything here. Danny could bring his ax and the gun we've found in the cave.'
'I think that Jack has a nailgun,' said Jess, 'but I don't know where.'
'Aren't you afraid that he'll be angry? asked Andy.
'I don't care,' she replied, 'I'll shoot him myself with it if he pushes me.'
'Good, search for anything you find useful. I will bring an ax myself,' said Andy.
That being said, the kids went home. It was not too late so Andy sat down in his room and thought about the letter to the sheriff. He wanted to make it anonymous but also wanted to make sure that Kerrigan doesn't mistake it for some joke. After several minutes of deep and careful thinking, Andy's pen began moving on a small piece of white paper:
"Dear Sheriff Kerrigan,
You may think that you are alone but you are not. There are people in this town who also know about the demon and what it does every third night when the mist comes.
On Thursday night we will face it at the pit. If you want to join us, come to the underground chamber Thursday night. Be there at midnight.
P.S.: This is not a joke!"
Andy pocketed the note then headed towards the Police Department. His trip was short, however, because he didn't even reach Main Street. Police cars were parked at the house of Harry Cook. A neighbor noticed the broken window and went to investigate what might have caused it. Since the gate and all the doors were open, he entered unhindered.
Even the front door, which had been locked last night to block Harry's escape, was wide open now. There, in an enormous pool of blood, guts, and shit, he had found Harry, or what was left of him.
The policemen were inside so Andy could sneak under the police line. People were gathered around the scene, of course, but they were trying to get a sneak peek inside. Nobody was interested in Andy, even the two officers who were assigned to keep the onlookers at bay, missed Andy.
He ran to one of the police cars and took a quick glance at the license plate. Linden being a small town, everybody knew which license plate belonged to the sheriff's car, Andy knew too. He threw the piece of paper inside through the open window then ran away.
He couldn't have known how much had Kerrigan's jaw dropped when he read the note.
Nate went home and went up into his room. Nobody else was home yet so he waited. Mary and his mother would come home soon. He was thinking about Thursday night, wondering about how he's going to make it, how will they all make it. The situation looked hopeless and felt hopeless but he knew that he had to force himself to have some hope. Faith, he kept saying to himself, have faith, believe in yourself and God will help.
Then the tormentor popped into his mind. Why didn't it appear to him for some time? It was an unsettling feeling and he hated it. He hoped that the evil ghost will leave him alone until Thursday night. Then they will defeat the demon and with it, the tormentor.
What if it appears on Thursday night, he thought, what if it comes to help its master? We have to prepare for it. I have to tell Andy to prepare with lights.
Later that afternoon the front door opened and Nate heard feminine voices. Her mother and sister just came home. About an hour later his father came home too.
Everybody assumed that he was out or sleeping so they didn't bother him. Mary went into her room, Victor sat down in the living room to watch some TV. Sarah was preparing dinner as she always did. Nate went down into the kitchen to see if anybody had brought him some sweets or any kind of surprise.
He was right, he did get some candy from his mom. She greeted him with kisses and smiles.
'Thank you, mom!' said the boy as he received his little treat.
'You're welcome, honey,' replied Sarah, 'but there's something you've got to do for me. All right?'
'Of course, mom. I'll help.'
'Thank you, you are so sweet. Please go down into the basement and get me a jar of pickles.'
'All right mom, be right back,' he said and walked away.
He met Mary soon after walking out the kitchen door. She was heading into the living room.
'Hey, pussy-boy! How ya doin'?'
'Shut up! I'm not a pussy anymore!
'Haha! We'll see about that.'
She continued on her way, Nate on his. He was used to her sister's bullying but sometimes he got angry when it happened. This was one of those times but he let it go because there were far worse problems he had to solve, like defeating a demon and a legion of dead people.
Nate reached the basement door and stopped for a second. The light switch was on the wall, near the door. He switched the light on then opened the door. A bright light was filling the basement. There was much stuff in there and they went down frequently so Sarah had insisted that Victor should put up some powerful lightbulbs. Victor, being a good husband, as usual, had done the job while all the time thinking about how he's going to slip under his mistress's skirt.
So the lights were on and Nate went down as confident as good old Jesus when he was walking on water. He walked straight to the shelves where his mother was keeping her preserves. Just when he stumbled upon the jar which seemed to be good to be delivered to his mother, the door was shut and the lights went out.
Poor little Nate was so startled that he almost jumped out of his skin. His fists clenched in a moment's notice and he looked around to see if there is any source of light anywhere. There was none so he decided to run for it. When he turned, he saw the tormentor whirling outward from the darkness, emanating its own pale corpse-grey light.
'Do you think you can run?' it said in an otherworldly echoing voice.
Nate felt the foul voice reverberating through his skull. All thoughts of escape have left his mind. He was caught between the spirit and the shelves. There was no way out.
'You can't escape, I live where there is no light. I'm the dweller in the dark, the spirit of the night. I'm everywhere yet no one can tell, when I'll come to take you down to hell.'
Nate was trembling with goosebumps all over his little body. He didn't even notice the urine which was trickling down both his legs. It felt warm, then he realized that he felt warm all over his body.
'Oh, finally you feel it,' said the tormentor, 'the Devil's cauldron is heating. It is waiting for your fragile soul. Just look out the window.'
The spirit pointed toward the little window which opened into the backyard. Until now, it was dark but now it was filled with fiery color. It was indeed fire. Nate was staring wide-eyed at the primordial hellscape which appeared outside. He couldn't believe his eyes but deep inside he knew it can't be real. A volcano was visible in the distance, rumbling and spewing lava and smoke everywhere. Just like Mount Doom from the heart of mordor. The heat began to rise, sweat was beginning to trickle down Nate's forehead.
'This is what awaits you and your friends. I could kill you anytime but I enjoy watching you suffer and tremble. How, you might wonder? I live in the shadows around you and see your every move. I've decided to teach you a lesson because you became too cocky lately.'
'I-I didn't...' tried Nate but it was in vain.
'Oh, yes, you did. Don't worry, it will soon be over. Look, this is what awaits you!'
It pointed toward the window which burst open right when Nate turned to look. A blast of hot air hit the boy's face and evil laugh sounded in the distance. Lava began pouring in through the broken window. Nate heard screams, not only one but a million screams of pain. The cacophony of evil laughs and tortured screams became unbearable, the heat he felt also became intense.
Nate screamed as loud as he could and ran towards the stairs. He expected that the ghost will seize him anytime and throw him into the fire. The ghost was laughing but it didn't grab him. The boy climbed the stairs and reached the basement door.
He began pounding on it and he screamed in desperation. Mary opened the door and threw a perplexed look at her brother. Nate ran out and hugged her like never before.
'Jesus, brother! The door wasn't even locked.'
Nate couldn't say a word, just cried. Victor and Sarah came rushing to see what was the problem. Sarah ran to her son and hugged him tightly. He was hiccuping and crying at the same time.
'What is happening here?' asked Victor and looked at his daughter.
'I'm sorry,' she replied, 'it's my fault.'
'What did you do to him?' asked Sarah.
'I switched off the lights, I just wanted to play a prank on him.'
'Well, you succeeded. Go up into your room, you're grounded!'
'Listen to your mother, Mary,' said Victor and threw a harsh look at his daughter.
Mary walked up into her room. Victor knelt down beside Nate and put his hand on the little boy's shoulder.
'It's over, buddy. It's over now.'
'N-no! It's not,' said Nate and gazed at his father with a piercing look.
'What do you mean, honey?' asked his mother in a worried voice.
'D-dad,' said Nate now a little calmer, 'I n-need to talk to you about s-something.'
Victor looked flabbergasted at his son, he didn't understand where did this strange request come from. He then looked at Sarah who was equally surprised. She let go of Nate and signaled Victor with her head to go and talk with his son. Victor agreed and took Nate by the hand and they went upstairs into the boy's bedroom. There he changed the boy's stained clothes and then they sat down to talk.
Our one and only Frank Fletcher was more than slightly traumatized, so was his friend. After waking up in the middle of the cemetery early Monday morning, the model citizens of Linden headed home. They didn't talk much on their way home, they were scared shitless.
Jim went home and tried to sleep. He managed to fall asleep in about half an hour. It was strange because he felt cold. How in the hell, he thought, can I feel cold, it's the middle of summer? Jim took out a thicker cover from one of the cabinets in his room and slid under it. Now it was much better. It was just from sitting too much outside in the cool early morning air, he thought again then began drifting away.
Frank was not so lucky, however. He reached his home before his mother woke up but sleeping wasn't as easy as he expected. Frank was dead tired but somehow couldn't visit the world of dreams. The demon's face was floating before his eyes regardless if they were closed or not. As he was trying to fall asleep, Frank grew more and more agitated and angry because he couldn't. After a while, he gave up but just when he decided to go out, his mother came rushing into the room. For a moment, Frank thought that the Russians had invaded America. Then he realized that it was worse than that.
'Wake up, you lazy pig,' Martha ordered his son, 'we have work to do!'
Frank didn't know what to say. He was tired, sleepy and angry. Now his anger started to rise some more. He hated his mother but feared her too. It was the result of all the abuse he suffered since he was a little kid. But now he felt that the balance is going more towards hate than fear. Frank liked the feeling, it was liberating. As his mother was rambling about how lazy and bad her son is, Frank was thinking. It was like hearing her from under the water, muffled and useless.
Yeah, he thought, hate is liberating. Hate is what can set me free. Fear is what held me in her prison but I will soon be free. Just let her go over the top and we'll see. I'll let hate do its job. Anyway, she will pay.
'I'm coming,' he said, 'I'm coming now.'
'I hope so,' she replied, 'unless you want to go into the basement again.'
We'll see about that you fuckin' whore, he thought and threw a killing look at her as she was leaving the room.