The kids ran back to their homes without speaking a word. They were shaken beyond comprehension. Never, in their short lives, have they imagined that they will witness things such as what happened that night. It was straight out of a horror movie.
Andy and Chris climbed back through the window into their room and jumped straight under the bedsheets. After a little silence, Andy started whispering to his brother.
'What the hell was that?'
'I don't know! I can't believe what I saw...what we all saw.'
'I'm still shaking, Chris.'
'I feel you, big brother. I'm shaking too.'
'That thing...I'm still seeing it when I close my eyes.'
'Yes, me too.'
'You know what's even weirder? I dreamt about it Tuesday night. I saw it in a strange dream.'
'Yeah, that's weird. Wasn't it foggy on Tuesday night too?'
'Yes, it was. And it was cold, just like tonight.'
'So Tuesday was the first time it appeared,' said Chris in a contemplating voice, 'but where did it come from, and why now?'
'Maybe it came from Hell.'
'Oh, come on! I don't believe in that crap.'
'Then how can you explain it?'
'I can't...but that doesn't mean it came from Hell.'
'All right but what about the dead children?' asked Andy and shuddered, their rotten faces appeared in his mind again.
'Now that was impossible...'
'It happened, I'm still afraid and I have to go to the bathroom.'
'It's crazy. I don't understand anything about what happened.'
'Me neither. I'm wondering what happened to Nate. Did he faint because he was scared or because the monster was looking at him?'
'I dunno, maybe it can cast spells on people. Who knows?'
'Nate is afraid of his own shadow but I've never seen him faint.'
'I saw that the monster was looking straight at him. I think it did something to him.'
'Let's hope not. Nate is our friend.'
'Yeah, but what can we do? We can't go to the police.'
'They'll think we are crazy.'
'That's for sure. We better not talk about it to anyone. When the fog comes again, we stay inside.'
'You are right. We can't do much. I hope the dead won't come for us too.'
Sometime after they stopped talking and Andy went to the bathroom, they fell asleep. The sun was starting to rise not long after.
Andy had another dream. It began at the house again. He descended into the basement and saw the opening which was leading to some other world, or so it seemed. This time he gathered his courage to step through the opening and into the dark valley. Somehow he knew it was a dream and nothing can happen to him. It, however, felt very real.
Just as he stepped into the valley, the cold chill of the wind hit his face. The mist on the ground was whirling and creeping. Here and there he could see dead grass and leaves beneath it. The trees were also dead, just like in the previous dream. Andy looked back to the doorway but it wasn't there anymore. He felt the cold touch of fear on his spine. The valley continued endlessly in that direction too. He paced forward in the direction where he saw the yellow-eyed figure two nights before. Now it wasn't there. Andy continued his walk and was passing between the grave markers.
It was dark in the dream and the sky was overcast. The clouds were rushing in one direction with speed, as they never do in the real world. The moon was up in the sky, a full moon but it appeared only sometimes and for a few seconds.
Andy searched his surroundings with his gaze and in front of him, he saw movement. From behind a thick but crooked tree, the yellow-eyed figure emerged. Andy drew back but when it looked at him, he fell on the ground. The black figure didn't speak, just pointed with one charred and bony finger. Andy looked at his left, where the finger was pointing. A gravestone lay there with his name on it. He screamed in fear and woke up with a jerk. He was all sweaty and shaking. The fact of his own mortality just struck him in the face.
A memory came back to him. It happened about five years ago when his little mind tried to comprehend mortality for the first time. Andy's beloved dog, Lord had passed away. It was an old dog, he loved it very much and couldn't think that death could take Lord away from him. He and his grandfather took the dog into the backyard to bury it. Andy remembered the story well, he was crying then. The worst part was when they put Lord into his grave. The soft thud it made never left Andy's mind. Then the first shovel of soil...the worst experience in his short life. He didn't own a pet ever since. Andy didn't even want to hear about the possibility of owning a pet. It will inevitably die, Andy used to think, and then he will be miserable again.
When the pain faded a little he thought about death and asked himself what happens when he dies? He couldn't imagine being buried six feet underground and rotting away. Andy couldn't imagine inexistence so he asked his grandfather, with tears in his eyes, if he himself has to die one day. His grandfather lied and told him that not everybody dies. There are people who grow old and then go on living forever. This comforted the young boy and the memory faded.
As the sun was creeping up again, he drifted back into the world of dreams. His mind was tired. Too much happened in the night and it wore him out. The valley greeted him again in the dream. Oh no, not again, he thought and tried to find a way out but there was none. He moved forward unconsciously as if pulled along by the dream itself. The boy took a different path now, he headed off in the opposite direction. After a short while, he was back at the same spot where he met the monster in the dream before. He could recognize the crooked tree. This time the figure was digging a hole. Beside the hole, there was a gravestone which looked eerily similar to the one with his name on it. How is this possible, he thought, I headed in the opposite direction, how could I have reached this place again?
The monster stopped digging and looked at Andy but Andy turned and ran. He woke up again but this time with his feet moving. The third time he fell asleep, the valley and the monster were gone.
Nate reached his house and went straight into the backyard. The window of his room was just above the roof of a terrace which opened into the yard. At one edge of the terrace was a stone structure which served as a grill. This was where his dad grilled the meat for the burgers on special occasions or family reunions. It was tall and it reached almost to the top of the roof. He climbed easily up on the grill and then on the roof. Nate was careful, he didn't want to wake up his sister. Her room was adjacent to his so the slightest sounds made by him could have woken her up. The boy reached his window, pulled it up then climbed inside.
He sighed in relief but his little heart was still pounding. Nate switched on the lamp on the nightstand and sat on his bed for a few minutes. All of his bones were shaking, he looked around several times to make sure that nothing is in the room with him. The light from the lamp was somewhat comforting.
Sleeping was difficult, he kept seeing the horrors which terrified him to the bone just a few hours ago. The monster's eyes...well, those were the most terrifying. He remembered looking into them and then he woke up in Andy's arms. He remembered how it was when their gazes met, it seemed like all life had been drained away from him. He felt empty, powerless...dead. After waking up, life somewhat returned to him but he was exhausted.
Nate fell asleep eventually but it was a troubled one. He was rather just half-asleep most of the time. All kinds of nightmarish figures were racing in his mind. It seemed to him that they were in his room and he could see them through shut eyelids. He woke up sometime before sunrise and got a glimpse of something in his window. It wasn't clear to him if it was real or not. His head was dizzy but nevertheless, it scared him. He saw something of human shape. A bald and grey head with a large pair of eyes peered inside but as soon as he opened his eyes wider, it disappeared.
Nate lay in his bed without moving for many minutes, afraid to close his eyes. When the first light of dawn crept inside his room, he managed to fall asleep.
Jess gently climbed into her room through the open window. Most of the room was dark, the sun had not yet arisen. Oh my God, she whispered to herself and put her face into her hands. She stood like that for a moment. Her legs were shaking, her chest heaving. After calming down a little, she headed for the door to go to the bathroom. The door was open to a crack, she could see that in the faint, reflected moonlight. Strange, she thought, the door was closed when she left.
'You were out again.' whispered a voice, it was coming from her right.
'Jesus', she cried out and both of her hands jerked to her chest, 'what are doing here?'
It was Jack, sitting calmly in an armchair in the left corner of the room, near the door.
'Doesn't matter what I'm doin'. It matters what you're doin''.
'It's none of your business what I'm doing!'
'Yeah, it is! You're thirteen and you're playin' with danger bein' out after midnight.'
'Really, why am I even listening to this?!' she said and put her hands up in a surprised manner, 'First of all you are not my dad and second, who knows what bad stuff did you do since you know about it so well?'
'Watch your mouth, girl!' Jack said and raised a finger and also his voice, slightly.
'No, I won't! You are in no position to lecture me. We don't even know you. Until recently you've been a decent guy but now I'm not so sure. Who knows what shitty stuff you're hiding?'
Jack jumped up from the armchair. Jess paced one step back. The room was dark, if Jess could have seen Jack's eyes, she would have seen fire.
'Get out,' she said in a low voice, 'leave me alone.'
Jack stood in front of her for a few more seconds then went out. Jess sat down on her bed's side and took a deep breath. Her heart was pounding. She, never in her life, thought that she could stand up for herself as she did now. Certainly, a trait passed down from her father. He used to be a strong man, the best man in the world for her and her mother. She cried without a sound for a short time.
Sleep took her soon after she lay down on the bed. Her dream was a pleasant one. The horrific events of the night didn't bother her. She dreamt about her father. They were out in the field behind the farm. Spark was with them too but it was younger. The dog was playful, it kept running and jumping tirelessly. She ran towards her dad and hugged him, held him as strong as she could. It seemed to her that she can still feel his perfume and the clean smell of his clothes. It was the best dream she ever had.
When she woke up later that day, she cried again. Jess didn't cry because her dream was bad. She cried because it was a dream which can never be.
The sheriff was at home Friday evening. As the sun was setting, he was staring out the window of his living room. He lived on Main Street with his wife, Susan and their two sons. His face was drawn and haggard. He kept thinking back to the events of '58. That summer he, together with Victor Whayman, Old Jimmy Slade and Alan 'Buddy' Jenkins witnessed similar events such as he is witnessing now.
The mist was slowly enveloping the town. The temperature started to drop. His worst fear was coming to life. He couldn't understand how it was possible. When it happened back then, they faced the evil and managed to defeat it at the price of Buddy's life. He took the black book, bound it to a brick and then took a boat to the middle of Clearwater Lake. He couldn't burn it because it wouldn't burn. Throwing it into the pit wasn't an option either. He had seen the horrors which crawled out from that darkness so he knew it would have been futile. They might have brought it back.
The memory was still fresh in Kerrigan's mind, despite it being twenty-five years old. He cast the book into the water and thought that it was all over. He was still hoping that these events, the disappearances and the mist are just coincidences. Deep inside he knew it was a fool's hope.
'What is troubling you?' asked his wife after stepping inside the living room.
'Nothing, I'm just tired.' he responded and knew very well that Susan won't believe him.
'Don't you bullshit me! I know you way too well to believe it.'
'I know,' he said and turned toward her, 'I'm sorry. I just don't want to put on your shoulders burdens that are mine to carry.'
'Don't start this again,' Susan replied and took his hand into hers, 'I am your wife and we share all our burdens. So, spit it out!'
Susan didn't know anything about what happened in '58. Kerrigan made sure not to talk about it to anybody except those who experienced the events too.
'The recent disappearances are bothering me,' he began, 'we have found absolutely nothing yet.'
'Yes, I've heard.'
'I have to find them, Susan but something tells me that I won't. I have no leads.'
'Some leads will come up, I'm sure of that,' she said and hugged her husband, 'come now, dinner is ready.'
'Eventually, they will come up but as time goes on, the chances of finding them alive diminish.'
'I'm not at all surprised that Kevin went missing,' she said, 'with a father like that I would go missing too.'
'Yes, but it is strange, two disappearances on the same night?'
'Maybe they are connected. I'm no expert but I've seen several times how Kevin was looking at Karen. That boy loved Karen very much, I tell you.'
'I wasn't aware of that, are you saying that the boy might have kidnapped the girl?'
'I don't know, I just told you what I saw.'
It was an interesting idea even if it was a longshot. At least helped a little to ease Kerrigan's mind. Maybe she's right, he thought, maybe the boy went nuts and took the girl. It was too simple an explanation, he knew that. The lighter, the blunt execution of the kidnapping and the fog were just too much.
He initiated the search for both victims on Thursday night, about 24 hours ago. He and his fellow officers searched the town and its surroundings but found nothing. Tomorrow they will go to the cemetery and the woods. Many people had offered to help and he had gladly accepted.
The dinner was exceptional but it was difficult for Keith to eat. He forced it down his throat in order not to hurt his wife's feelings. Even if the events of 1958 weren't repeating, he found it hard to swallow food while two people are in dire situations. Who knows how much time they have left, if they had any?
They went to bed after dinner but falling asleep was hard for the sheriff. He was afraid, his stomach kept turning and churning. His wife was fast asleep beside him. When he couldn't bear it anymore, he got up. He went out into the living room and rummaged through the liquor cabinet. A bottle of Chardonnay was the first thing he found. Keith sat down on the sofa and downed more than half of the bottle's contents. He drank the wine like it was water. Drinking wasn't his habit but now it felt so good.
Kerrigan sat there in the dark living room staring at the walls. He remembered an unfortunate event from his line of duty. It was his biggest regret and it kept haunting him often. It had happened here in Linden about 9 years ago. Some junkie entered a food store on Main Street and held people at gunpoint. He wanted the money, of course, to get his fix. Kerrigan arrived with five more officers. The officers surrounded the building and he went inside to deal with the situation.
The junkie had taken a hostage who was known to Kerrigan. A girl by the name of Clarice, she was young and beautiful with all the best parts of life ahead of her. The sheriff tried to reason with the junkie but it had been futile. Clarice had been looking at him with pleading eyes, save me, they said. That was what he wanted to do so he pointed his gun toward the assailant. Kerrigan had wanted to shoot him but the junkie had been holding the girl in front of him like in the movies. He hadn't been able to get a clear shot.
The junkie had decided to go out through the storage area and then the back door after getting his money. He had said that if anybody goes after him, he will kill the girl. Kerrigan had waited until the assailant had moved out into the storage area. He had then bolted after them but it had been too late. He had heard the shot that haunted him from then on.
Now, sitting on the sofa and letting the wine numb his brain, he saw with his mind's eye the girl sprawled on the floor. She had been shot in the head. The junkie tried to run away but the other officers shot him. Kerrigan remembered how he was standing there looking at her. His heart sank into the deepest abyss. The girl was staring at him with questioning dead eyes. Why, they said, why did you let him kill me?
He eventually fell asleep on the sofa. The alcohol dizzied him enough so he could drift away. Right before falling asleep, he understood Old Jim and why he drank so much. The alcohol, however, couldn't numb what came after falling asleep.
He found himself in a dream. He stood in the middle of the store where everything had happened. People were coming and going but it seemed like nobody observed him. Kerrigan recognized some of the customers. He even greeted one of them, Mr. Peters, who had since passed away. Mr. Peters didn't greet him back. He went on his way like Keith wasn't even there.
Screams were coming from the storage area. He knew who was screaming and didn't want to go to see but the dream pulled him along. Nobody else seemed to notice but him. Upon entering the storage room, he saw her. Clarice was standing exactly where she had been shot. She was with her back to Kerrigan. He went closer and put his hand on her shoulder. It felt cold and wet, unpleasant altogether. When she turned did he realize why. She was dead. Her questioning eyes were no more, her lips were drawn back, like sandpaper. The hole in her head was gaping and instead of a nose, she had only empty holes. He drew back with a jerk and uttered a short scream.
'Why did you let me die?' the girl said then Keith woke up.
He couldn't sleep that night. Instead, he got out of bed and went to the office to drown himself in some paperwork. The sun was just coming up and the mist began to dissipate. He thought that if he busies himself with something else then he will forget this night. He was wrong because soon the phone rang. Father Matthew was on the other side of the line.