Wednesday night, after her mother had fallen asleep, Jess snuck out through the window. The cool and misty air made her shiver a little but she didn't care. She had to go to the Shed, they all had to. Under the cover of night and the fog, nobody will notice them carrying axes, a rifle, and other weapons. This night was ideal to do it, they just had to be careful to do it quickly and avoid the cemetery.
The girl went straight to the garage where Jack was keeping his tools. She was greeted by Spark and saw that the dog was agitated. It kept jumping around and running this way and that. Jess didn't understand this behavior, she wasn't sure if it was due to fright or happiness. Looked like both at the same time. Strange, she thought and petted Spark for a minute or two and managed to calm it down a little.
The garage door was open but that was normal so she went inside and searched for the nailgun. She found it in a drawer, took it and then froze. The front gate had opened and she could hear careful footsteps. It must be Jack, she thought and hoped that he will not enter the garage. It was a good idea not to switch on the lights when she came in considering that she didn't know when Jack will be home.
The sound of the footsteps receded then she heard the front door opening and closing gently. She now dared to move again and started towards the front gate. After closing the gate behind her, she began walking in the direction of Coldhill Street to meet up with the others.
She couldn't make more than five or six steps because a distant yet familiar voice spoke to her, a voice unheard for many years. It seemed filled with pain and loss but also with relief. The girl stopped and looked around in fright but couldn't see much. It must have been inside my head, she thought, I'm tired and...
'Jessie,' the voice spoke again.
She turned in the direction of the voice but couldn't see a thing. A few seconds later, the shape of a man materialized before her eyes about seven or eight yards away. No other details were visible but the way he called her made her legs feel like rubber.
'Jessie, my little girl. It's been so long...'
'It's me,' the strange voice explained, 'don't you recognize your Daddy?'
'I-it can't be...' she said with uncertainty in her voice.
'Yes, it can, it was my time tonight.'
'Daddy,' she said and tears filled her eyes, 'is it really you?'
Jess realized what had happened then moved towards him.
'Don't,' ordered the man in the mist, 'stay back. I don't want you to see me like this.'
'But I want to...'
'No, I can't let you. You have to remember me as I was when I was alive, not as the abomination I am now.'
'Daddy,' she said heartbroken and fell to her knees, 'I missed you so much!'
'I know,' replied the dead man, 'I missed you too. I was in a dark place and I shall go back there but there is one last thing I have to do. I promised that I will take care of you and your mother.'
'She misses you too...'
'Yes, I know. I love you both very much. I will love you until eternity's end.'
'We love you too, Daddy.'
'Go now and do what you have to do. Don't worry about your mother, she will be safe.'
'Yes, my dear.'
'How can we kill the demon?'
'I'm forbidden to talk about that. I'm sorry.'
'Even if I may die tomorrow night?'
'Unfortunately yes. We, the dead, are the slaves of darkness and we have to obey. I cannot tell you more.'
'Go now and do your thing. We shall not see each other again.'
'Daddy, I don't want you to go!'
'I have to. I'm on borrowed time and I have to make it count.'
'But what do you want to do?'
'Make sure that you and Angela are safe. You will know tomorrow.'
'Go now. Time is running out. Think of me, my darling, and I will live in your heart. I will be there for you.'
'Bye, Daddy!' she said and waved to him with heavy tears rolling down her cheeks, she just couldn't say anything else.
'Bye, my love,' he said and disappeared into the mist.
She walked towards the end of Coldhill Street with head down and crying, her heart a heavy stone pressing on her soul. This was the first time in her life when she wasn't at all afraid of the darkness surrounding her, she welcomed it. It gave comfort and shelter, it made her pain and loss bearable.
Jess didn't hurry, the girl enjoyed the stroll through the night. There were only her and her thoughts and memories. A few times she almost turned and ran towards her hone but something in the back of her head told her to keep going forward. What lay behind her was the past which was unburied for a short time. It came back to haunt her but also to heal. The future lay ahead and she thought about Andy. He was the younger version of her father. The boy had the same blue eyes and the same solid physique. In her eyes, he lacked her father's resolute character but he was still a boy. Time will transform him into a great man, she was sure about that.
As these thoughts were whirling through her mind, the feelings she had towards Andy came back with much greater intensity. Jess couldn't wait to meet him. She reached her destination and saw that the boys are there, except Nate, who didn't come tonight for an obvious reason. Jess went straight to Andy and hugged him tight, held him in her embrace and cried again. Andy just stared into the mist with wide eyes as Jess was squeezing him. He was happy for the unexpected hug but the fact that she was crying, made him feel sorrowful. Danny and Chris were just staring at the scene with dropped jaws and couldn't utter a word. Andy grabbed the girl's hand and they all started towards the Shed. On the way there, Jess told them everything.
Jack was prepared to do what he thought he couldn't do a few months ago. He was sitting in a white van a few not far from the farm. Adrenaline made his blood flow faster and his pupils dilate. It was already dark so they needed all the light they could use. His soul was even darker, little to no light found its way there. Jack remembered now how he liked the rush, how he liked being in the zone. The zone was the place where no rules applied, only his rules.
Tonight he's going to do what needs to be done and then disappear again. He thought of Angela but felt nothing. The sex was good with her and she knew how to cook, that was all. He'll meet some other girl in some other town and he will settle down. Maybe she'll also be good at sex and if she can make french fries then he'll be happy. For Jack, the ideal woman knew to do seventy things, sixty-nine, and french fries. Who knows, maybe he'll meet a hot hitchhiker on the road and they'll have a good time.
Jack finished the useless fantasizing because the time had come for him to act. He started the car and drove closer to the front gate. The van was old and noisy so he stopped in time in order to not wake the girls. In his hands, he held a bottle which contained some kind of barbiturate. Jack planned to use this drug to render the girls unconscious by putting a rag soaked with the liquid to their mouth and nose.
Jack got out of the van and noticed that Spark was barking. Hope the dog ain't gonna fuck it up, he muttered, 'couse I swear to God, I'm g'na kill the wretch. His right hand touched his pocket and searched for the knife. It was there, he was ready to use it. With angry but careful steps, he made his way to the front gate. The dog was agitated and it drove him mad. Jack got the knife out and entered the yard. Spark barked at him.
'Come here, doggy,' he called but the dog was smarter and ran away.
Jack couldn't see much in the fog. He had to do something with the dog and quickly because if the girls wake up, he'll have a much harder job. Spark barked again but not too loud. It sounded more like a taunt. Damn dog knows what I wanna do, he thought and he started in the direction the barking came from. A few steps and a few barks later, he saw Spark, it was wagging its tail. All right you shitty mutt, Jack whispered, I'm gonna slit your furry throat. But the dog took off again and barked once more. Goddamn, Jack muttered and quickened his pace, makin' fun of me, huh?
Again, he found the dog sitting with its ass in the dirt. Spark's tail made slow wagging motions disturbing the dust on the ground. When Jack tried to grab it, Spark fled again.
Now Jack was in a rage, he took off running after it regardless of who will wake up and who won't. He came face to face with Spark again, it was sitting close to the fence, at a considerable distance from the house. When he wanted to jump on it, he stopped in his tracks and looked up in horror. Out of the mist, a shape appeared. It was ghostly, rotten...unreal. The shape was of a man and it held a hammer in his hand.
'Who are ya'?' asked Jack while he tried to sound tough.
'The one you shouldn't have ever met!' the shape said and swung the hammer. It connected with Jack's head and he passed out.
When he woke up, he found himself in the fields far behind Angela's house. The kids and some of the adults called this place the Stony Fields because it was littered with stones of many shapes and sizes. Nobody knew how the stones had gotten here but many have guessed that they had been used in the past for construction.
A sharp pain was throbbing in his head but the pain he felt in his right hand was much sharper. When he raised his head and looked to the right, he saw the reason for his pain. A large boulder was on his hand. He tried to pull it out but it was impossible. Also, the pain was getting more and more intense. Jack tried to push the boulder away with his other hand but it just wouldn't budge. He began screaming and punching the stone. Spark appeared from the mist and sat down at a few feet from Jack.
'Scream all you want,' spoke a harsh voice, 'this night only the dead can hear you.'
The shape came out of the mist again, the dog was by his side, it seemed happy. Jack began punching the stone again and pulling on the hand.
'Do you feel its weight?' the shape asked.
'What? Who...who are you?' asked Jack.
'It doesn't matter who I am but it does matter who you are.'
'Yes, and soon you'll be dead as well.' said the shape and began closing in on Jack.
Jack was kicking and screaming but it was all in vain. The shape grabbed his legs in order to move closer. He knelt on Jack's chest and looked into his eyes with the empty sockets that he had. Jack cringed and turned away. A slimy dead hand grabbed his chin and turned his face back. The rotted face was an unbearable sight and the stench of death nauseating. Jack threw up and began coughing. The shape let go of his face so Jack could turn aside again and spit the vomit from his mouth and throat. Then the shape grabbed him again in a more violent manner and turned Jack's face towards his.
'You wanted to give my wife and daughter to some chickenshit pimps.'
'Nooooo. I didn't...'
'Yes, you did. And you will suffer for that!'
The dead man stood up, turned around and looked into the darkness.
'So,' he began, 'do you feel the weight of the stone?'
'Y-yes, I f-feel it.'
'That's just for one of your victims. How many did you kill?'
'I-I don't know.'
'Then I'll tell you. You've killed seventeen people.'
'How do you know that?'
'The dead know,' said the corpse and picked up a heavy stone from the ground.
'No, no, no...' Jack tried to prevent the inevitable.
The corpse turned and dropped the stone on Jack's leg. The impact shattered his tibia and he screamed as loud as his lungs let him. His body began to tremble from the shock. The other heavy stone fell on his other leg shattering his knee and tearing the tendons. Jack screamed again and thrashed but he knew he was doomed.
His other hand also received a stone, his elbow had no chance against the hundred pound stone, or maybe more.
'This one is for sleeping with my wife,' the dead man said and dropped the next stone into Jack's lap crushing his pelvis, dick and balls. He didn't scream anymore because he fainted from the pain. Twelve more stones were thrown on Jack, the last one landing in his head. It burst like a pumpkin spilling blood and brains on the grass.
So this is how Jack's abduction plan ended. The dead man still had something to do in order to finish the job. He shambled on the fields seemingly with no purpose at all. Spark followed him on his journey of mayhem.
They reached the spot where the two pimps were waiting for Jack to bring the girls. But Jack didn't come and they were agitated. The windows of their car were down, both of them were smoking. Spark walked up to the car and began barking at them.
'What the hell?' asked one of them.
'It's just a stupid dog. Get the fuck outta here! Come on!'
Spark walked away for a few seconds but then came back and barked again. The young pimp took out his pistol from its holster and wanted to point it towards the dog.
'Don't!' said the other one and grabbed his hand, 'If you fire, half of the town will know that we're here.'
'All right, all right.'
Spark was gone again and the two men thought that it won't come back. Then the car began rocking for a few seconds as the dog jumped on it from behind. Spark walked over the car from back to front then jumped down and disappeared into the fog.
'Fuckin' dog, I'm gonna kill it,' said Charlie, the younger pimp and jumped out of the car with a flashlight in his hands.
Before Steve could do anything, Charlie was gone. He threw his hands up in the air as if the following events were out of his control. It was not long until he heard Charlie's screams. Steve quickly started the engine and switched on the headlights then he too jumped out of the car. He drew his gun and began walking towards the source of the screams. From the sound of the screams, he deduced that something terrible was happening to his friend. The screams were replaced by gurgling and muffled crying.
'Charlie! Where are you?' he shouted but received no definite answer.
After searching for a few minutes, he saw Charlie. Steve put his hand to his mouth in order to hold back the bile that wanted to come up from his stomach.
Charlie was sprawled on the ground with a huge hole ripped in his abdomen. Guts and organs were hanging out in all directions. The smell of blood and feces hit Steve so hard that he had to throw up. Upon a second look, he saw that Charlie was strangled with his own entrails. A large part of what appeared to be the small intestine was coiled around his neck like a snake.
First, he thought that the dog did it but then reconsidered after seeing the damage. Something was out there and it will get him too if he doesn't run for it. Steve decided that he can't do anything for his partner in crime so he turned around.
'Do you know what death is?' a guttural voice spoke from the mist.
Steve stopped in his tracks and held up his gun with shaking hands. He was certain now that the threat is something not of this world. The end drew near and he felt its power. It was a feeling of hopelessness, the one you feel when you know that something bad is going to happen and you can't avoid it. Steve pointed his pistol this way and that but couldn't see anything. Even the light coming from the car's headlights couldn't penetrate the mist.
'What do you say little Stevie,' asked the voice again, 'do you know what death is?'
Steve almost dropped the gun and ran like hell but was afraid that he will be face to face with whatever was lurking in the fog. The most frightening thing was that it called him little Stevie. His mother used to call him like that when he was younger. She died many years ago.
'How do you know...?' he asked in an insecure tone.
'Your mother is disappointed.'
'Because you're coming to hell with me!'
This time the voice came from right beside Steve. He turned and saw the horror that was Jess's father, returned from the grave to do one last thing. The dead man grabbed Steve by the neck with both hands.
'Do you know what death is, you spineless scum?'
There was no answer just muffled crying. Steve felt a strange warmth descending on his legs. The tough guy just pissed himself like a baby.
'For some, death is salvation, for others it's oblivion but for you, it's going to be torture!'
He dug his bony fingers behind Steve's collarbone, with the other, he grabbed his head in a tight grip and began pulling. Steve screamed and thrashed like a wild animal in a trap. His spine together with his head began dislocating from the rest of his body. It looked like something only an alien would do.
In a few seconds, little Stevie was ripped apart and thrown onto the ground like a bag of garbage. He still lived for a few minutes, until the oxygen from his brain depleted and his few brain cells began to die. The pile of human garbage just laid there blinking like a fish out of the water. The corpse saw that his work among the living is done so he walked back to the cemetery where the demon was waiting for him. Spark went home and lay down in his little house. It was happy to have met again with its former owner and that it could help him.
This night had just begun. There were yet more surprises waiting to be revealed. The Gang was making their final preparations. They placed their weapons inside the Shed where they will remain until tomorrow night.
Jess managed to calm down a little. Her friend's presence made her feel comfortable. She was in the safest circle possible. After she had told them about the encounter with her dead father, they didn't talk for a while. The silence became awkward so Chris broke it.
'Do you guys think that we're gonna succeed? I mean, really...'
'I don't know,' said Andy and looked at Jess, 'but we have to do everything we can to stop this madness.'
'I'm with you until the end,' said Danny and threw a stern look at Andy.
'Me too,' said Chris.
'And me too,' said Jess.
'Count me in,' said Nate while playing with the flashlight in his hand.
'What about the tormentor?' asked Andy?
'It can catch me if it really wants to so I guess I have no choice. It's here somewhere, I can feel it. I'll come and pray we'll all survive.'
'Aren't you afraid?' asked Jess with a surprised look on her face.
'I am,' replied Nate, 'but it doesn't matter as long as you are with me. You are my best friends, even chief moron here.'
He nodded towards Chris for the others to know who he was talking about. Not that it was hard to guess. They all laughed at the little boy's words. It felt good, even if it was a bitter laugh.
'All right,' shouted Chris startling the others, 'let's get that son of a bitch with all the rot-away coffin fodders he summons!'
'Yeah,' said Andy, 'tomorrow we'll send it back to hell. Come here all of you!'
The others gathered around him and he reached out with his hands and pulled them closer. The others too reached out and they did a group hug which lasted a few minutes. It felt good, it felt safe. Tomorrow night they will go inside terror's lair and some of them might not come back alive.
When they headed back towards the town, Andy walked by Jess. He reached out and held her hand. She didn't protest, just smiled at him. To Andy, this was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. There in the darkness, he fell in love even more than before. All it took was a smile which betrayed everything, all her thoughts and feelings towards him.
Jess asked him if he would like to help her with something the next day. She said that they forgot to bring gasoline. When Andy asked her why they need it, she said that they could set a trap. The book said that the demon can summon the dead from the pit. She argued that if they drench the sides of the pit with gas, they can light it up when the dead come out. It seemed to them that the dead don't like fire so it might save precious time.
Andy agreed to help her the next day. They all went home but couldn't sleep. Knowing that they might have less then twenty-four hours left kept them up staring at the walls and ceiling.