Aticus, my love
Sarah was repeating Alicia’s words as a cold chill ran up her spine, “Aticus, my love, confessed coolly without any emotion whatsoever, “I stalked you, waiting to end your life… Thank the alligator for
moving, for setting off my instincts to give chase.”
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! He said he was going to annihilate my whole family like my family had murdered his relatives. I should have been sick, thrust into a dreamlike fairytale, horrified and scared for my life.”
“Aticus touched my hand, electricity flowing through me once again and I almost swooned, he said softly, “So naïve, so caring, the way that you touched me and the look in your eyes reminded me of simpler, happier days… I cannot kill you, only care for you.” The only words I heard are four words… I care for you…”
Sarah stopped reading Alicia’s diary for a second, legs outstretched on the sides of the recliner. The sun struggled to peak out from the advancing thick, gray clouds. She heard crackling bacon sizzling, caramelizing on the skillet. The smell of the bacon as it saturated the walls of the motel room made her stomach lurch and twist in knots, reminding her she hadn’t eaten. As her friend and practicing alcoholic, AJ, politely declined, and stayed with his preferred “liquid nourishment” going on two days now.
“You have anything for a headache?” Sarah said meekly as if the sound of her own voice pained her.
“No such luck little lady,” AJ peeked his body out from where he cooked in the kitchenette, a skillet in one hand and a spatula in the other, “I’m going out for supplies in a little while. It will be on the top of the list.”
She smiled in an expectation of this and sat back in her recliner. She always thought about her missing friends and in the back of her mind she reeled at the fact that it was all her fault. She could just hear the one sergeant of the police department and his discouraging words, “adults have a right to disappear” in her head. She drank and she worked tirelessly to renovate her property so that she would not think about her friends too much.
She had no time to obsess over her missing friends despite Capt. Rogers and Detective Jenkins always hitting her up for more information. With no sign of them on the property Capt. Rogers and Detective Jenkins changed gears and restarted at the original arsons with fresh eyes. The two policemen would run over anything with Sarah at the motel room if anything looked suspicious but she could tell by their eyes that they were not telling her everything. When she labored hard at work rehabbing the property sometimes she thought she saw one or both of them spying on her from the outer marker of the property partially concealed by the roadway. Do they think I am a suspect? Really! If she let it, the question infuriated her.
“Here, some of the hair of the dog that bit you!” AJ handed her a glass dark red in color and smelling suspiciously of vodka.
She only hesitated a moment, but with the consistent pounding in her head she would try anything to take away the pain. She sipped her Bloody Mary, cringing with the taste of vodka mixed with a little bit of tomato juice and carrot. Her eyes opened wide and lit up like flashbulbs when she sipped her drink.
She got to thinking about Desiree and Tommy or the lack of their presence the motel. She had to admit she found herself relieved when Tommy’s obsessive stalking had come to an end suddenly. Now he looked more mysterious, more sure of himself, and more importantly, disinterested in Sarah’s comings and goings. She came to find his company pleasant except for the annoying habit of every once in a while teaming up with Desiree and pestering Sarah about hosting the party. They’d not seen Desiree since the “Wolf’s Den Tavern,” Too busy chasing her love interest and owner of the Tavern, Viddarr. She would come back once in a while to hound Sarah to use her property for his Festival but she never really stuck around long.
Desiree and Tommy both teamed up against her, convincing her that it was a good idea. And not to mention, Tommy pointed out that the Festival at her house would be a great distraction against the constant worry of her missing friends.
“Thank you, I think my headache is already subsiding.” She graciously accepted another drink, “so against my better judgment I am thinking I might host that Blood Moon Festival thing that Desiree was always bugging me about.”
She felt the consistently painful pounding in her head slowing down some as she downed the mostly alcoholic remedy down to the last drop.
Sarah handed the empty cup to AJ then flopped back down in the recliner, “That really helped, thanks AJ.”
AJ just smiled and nodded in acknowledgment then disappeared around the corner, back to tending to the browning bacon in the kitchen.
“I think we’ll skip rehabbing this weekend, okay? I think you deserve it.” AJ yelled through the wall, skillets and pots clanking about.
The question did not receive an answer, “okay, okay, a half-day and we’ll call it quits, is that alright with you?” Sarah voiced approval.
After her headache departed and a hearty breakfast had been consumed she coaxed AJ back to the estate. Sarah had enough fuel to bust her ass replacing the termite infested rotten boards in the foyer.
She buffed the floors until her shoulders ached and she couldn’t raise her arms anymore but the scorch marks vanished and the floor shone golden like the sun.
Sarah didn’t ask any questions when AJ showed up with a water generator to power wash all of the walls since they were caked with grime. She and AJ teamed up and used generators for the electricity to steam clean all the antique furniture that her distant relatives had left behind.
Quick work for a half a day but with a lot of elbow grease, she breathed new life into the dying manor. Hard long day and even harder nights playing had caught up with her so when AJ suggested they were good for the day she was more than happy to go along with it.
“You took the words right out of my mouth.” Sarah said with a tired smile. AJ already had the van running.
Sarah shot him a disapproving look, “you know my deal, AJ; I’ll drive here and back. You have not consumed a thing except alcohol.”
“Well, at least let me make you lunch.” AJ said this as he staggered and almost fell into the van head first. A deal was struck and they were on their way with Sarah in the driver’s seat.
Sarah could not pay attention to AJ’s drunken ramblings as she marked off her checklist of things that she had to do tomorrow. The upstairs bedrooms were almost done and she was finished with the outside. She dreaded the stables and the tool shed. She was staring at the plot of land that used to house a farm. When they were almost ready to go she would walk the property edge to edge lost in thought. For a fleeting moment she could almost hear whispered conversation and commotion. She could even smell the aroma of sweet barbecued meat. In the darkness out of the corner of her eyes, just briefly she thought she saw an ethereal barn.
The closer she walked the eerier the area had gotten, a surreal moment in time that made Sarah’s hair on the back of her neck stand on end. She heard wildlife all around her. Crickets chirping, birds singing, she wandered close enough that she could directly see the barn but like a mirage it quickly vanished. She could actually hear the sound of utter silence, unnerving silence encircling her. She could imagine mystical fairies of the forest casting their spells of enchantment hiding them from the material world or the ghost of her ancestors haunting the barn. Either way, via fairies or the restless ghosts of her ancestors, she would go no further, forgoing the last fifty feet. The whole experience had put her on edge.
When she pulled into the motel driveway suddenly arms burst out in her direction, then forearms folded on the open van window distracting her from her train of thought as Tommy leaned in, “Hey, what’s up? You guys were gone for a while.”
Tommy flashed a smile, grinning from ear to ear. His teeth were somehow whiter and straighter. A leer that looked cunning and sneaky, like he had a secret that no one else was privy to. It filled her with goose bumps and put her on edge.
“You disappeared yourself a time or two now didn’t you!” Sarah countered, “Yeah, AJ and I finished up a few things before we could take extended hiatus, how about you?”
“Most definitely!” Tommy’s restless eyes were trained AJ who attempted to stagger the fifty feet to Sarah’s motel door, he growled, “I’m starving!”
He didn’t even glance in Sarah’s direction as he hastily made his way towards AJ and the motel room, the overwhelming urge to eat coming over Tommy when he smelled the remnants of the juicy bacon. Tommy helped himself in the refrigerator, and then turned on the stove burners before AJ had even staggered into the kitchen.
“So have you given any more thought about hosting the Tavern’s party at your property?” Tommy asked, grabbing several fileted bluegill with his bare hands and dropping them in the pan.
“Tell Viddarr I will host his shindig; just give me the paperwork to fill out.” Sarah acknowledged.
AJ hid his shock as he watched Tommy engulf several fish filets in his greedy drooling mouth without even letting them cool, “Oh, thank God! I can tell Desiree. She’ll be thrilled and it’ll get her off my back!” The drool mixing with the boiling hot grease instantly blistered Tommy’s lips but his expression did not change, it did not faze him. He stared into AJ’s eyes, emboldened eyes and a stare that challenged AJ’s authority daring him to respond but masquerading as friendship.
AJ tore his eyes away from Tommy’s eyes first as he said meekly, “so you and Desiree are awful friendly lately, huh?”
Tommy shook his head no, “Nah, she’s too busy with Viddarr but when she sees me she bugs me to death until I promise to ask Sarah for permission again.”
AJ turned around for Tommy’s response to find him rummaging through the refrigerator crisper drawer to retrieve the half-pound of raw bacon. He tore the vacuum plastic asunder and downed a strip of raw bacon in one gulp.
AJ begrudgingly walked over to the refrigerator getting out tomatoes, mayonnaise and taking the remaining bacon to make B.L.T.s for lunch for Sarah, “Tom, you want more bacon too?” He said sarcastically.
“I hope you get a parasite, you crazy bastard,” AJ said under his breath as he dropped several strips of bacon into the hot skillet.
“I’m going to get some fresh air,” Tommy said, pieces of chewed up bacon spewing out. He shot AJ an accusing glance as if he had heard everything AJ had said, but he slyly smiled, “AJ I told Viddarr about your singing chops. I think he will be giving you a call pretty soon.”
AJ only nodded his recognition. After cooking Sarah lunch he finally passed out on Sarah’s bed, the room spinning.
After her delicious lunch Sarah stretched her legs as she scooped up her great-grandmother’s diary telling to no one in particular, “I am going to get some fresh air too.”
Tommy had once bitched and moaned and pressured Sarah into selling the property, he had wanted to leave Louisiana almost before he had gotten here, Sarah thought. But now he seemed to love the scenic surroundings and he could not get enough of her inherited plantation. If it weren’t for the fact she had other things on her mind she would have delved into the mystery more deeply, but as it stood, it had been more of a glancing thought and it was quickly forgotten.
Devon’s wolf instinctively crouched down in the shadows immediately beside Amy’s cabin. He hid by a cluster of trees. A habit he had gotten used to, while Amy researched the strange and fantastic events, to avoid being seen and captured by Capt. Rogers, Detective Jenkins, or the bizarre Hunter. He saw Tommy come out of the motel room first, followed later by Sarah.
His stomach began to lurch, one in Sarah’s group, Tommy, smelled peculiar. He had been infected with the parasite; anxiety went through him as he realized Aticus had infiltrated her group. His mind began to race a mile a minute. What did he want with her specifically? What was his grand scheme?
His body tensed, about to strike; if Tommy tried to attack her he would stop him. But Tommy ignored Sarah as she split off picking a shady tree to flop down beneath and read her diary. He had followed her around like a lost puppy dog until the infection. Now Tommy seemed to ignore Sarah. Maybe Aticus would be a man of his word… The motel would be neutral territory; no harm would come to anybody who remained here.
Of course, Devon had been right; Point Breeze Motel would be a sanctuary and all those that resided there would be safe from harm while there. But he worried that as the Moon cycled around again, bright and full in the sky, 100 miles in diameter from Raccourci Island no parish would be safe as Aticus’ plans came to fruition.