Vipers in the Darkness
Meanwhile, Hannibal arrived at his house. His house was not unlike Harry’s house, only a bit larger with a garage attached to it. It sat off the main highway with nearly half a mile of gravel driveway. Boxwoods and shrubbery lined the perimeter of the house and a concrete sidewalk went from the front porch out to the driveway, which circled around in front of the house and garage. Closing the front door and turning on the light after entering, an uneasy feeling came over Hannibal. He looked around intently, sensing something wasn’t right. Sitting the duffel and backpack down in a chair, he proceeded to investigate. He searched the house and found nothing disturbed. Going out to the garage where he did his research, Hannibal investigated, finding nothing missing. Everything was as he had left it.
Going back into the house, Hannibal retrieved his pack and duffel, carrying them to the garage. The strange uneasy feeling didn’t leave him. He deposited the duffel on the floor next to his recliner and sat down, sitting the backpack down in front of him. He then proceeded to open the backpack and removed the Relic, leaning back as he gazed at the oddity. The strange feeling suddenly grew worse. “Something’s not right here,” he muttered, “Something’s wrong.” He suddenly rose from the recliner and sat the Relic next to the map on his drawing table. Opening the drawer on the desk, Hannibal removed a nine-millimeter pistol, pulling the slide chambering a round, holding it ready. He looked around again, and then went back into the house to search, ready to take out any intruder, finding none.
Hannibal stopped in the kitchen and leaned against the counter, rubbing his face with his hand. For a moment, he stood there, and then out of the darkness he heard a whisper just barely audible, but not loud enough to identify what was being said or where it was coming from. The whispering increased in intensity and he began to look around wildly with concern. Someone’s playing with me, he thought.
He went into the bathroom and leaned on the sink. The whispering continued and it began to unnerve him. Abruptly looked up into the mirror on the wall over the sink, he saw his reflection and the reflection of something hideously reptilian shrouded in shadows standing right behind him. Wheeling about, pistol ready, he found nothing. Turning back to the mirror, only his reflection greeted him. “Lord? What’s going on here? There’s something wrong here. What is it?” he prayed aloud.
Moving out of the bathroom, Hannibal went back into the living room and stood there, looking around at the furniture and the various items he had hanging on the wall. The whispers continued while he looked around with growing concern. There must be a devil playing with me, he thought.
As suddenly as the whispering started, it stopped and an audible voice spoke in his ear. “Go into the garage,” it said urgently. Hannibal wheeled around to find no one present. He hesitated and the voice spoke again, “Go to the garage NOW!”
That spurred him forward into the garage. Hannibal came crashing through the door and down into the garage where his recliner and desk sat. Seeing nothing appeared out of the ordinary, he looked around, crying in desperation, “What is it? What’s going on here?” His anger began to build. The feeling of unease continued to grow with his anger. He glared at his surroundings.
“Check your cedar chest,” the voice whispered without warning.
Hannibal flew to the chest, threw all the papers on it off onto the floor, and opened it. He rummaged through it and then overturned the chest, only finding the papers and notebooks that he had deposited in it over the years. He knelt down in the mess of papers and notebooks and searched intensely. Suddenly, he became aware of something moving in the midst of the papers that had been on top of the chest. His keen sight zeroed in and he saw a tail move into the piles of junk. He sat motionless for a moment, watching and listening intently. A rustle came from his right and he turned his head in time to see a black mamba coiled ready to strike. The poisonous snake struck at him half a second later. His hand reached out with lightning speed and grabbed the snake right behind the head just before it connected with his face. The snake writhed and coiled around Hannibal’s arm but could do nothing in his iron grip. Hannibal quickly grabbed his pistol and pummeled the snake with it until it uncoiled from around his arm. Pushing the mamba’s head to the floor, he shot it in the head.
Standing up, the feeling of unease subsided and he slumped into his recliner with a sigh. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, he thought. He looked around, seeing the mess he had made and groaned while rubbing his face with his hand. I must be getting too close to something. Mambas are found in Africa, not in America, he thought. There’s more to this than someone trying to kill me with a snake. What is it, Lord? A slight breeze tickled his face. Turning left to the breeze, Hannibal noticed a small hole just big enough for the mamba to enter staring at him from low on the wall behind where the chest had been sitting. He walked over to it and examined the hole. It was smooth as glass, being cut through the cinderblock of the garage wall. “So this is where you came in,” Hannibal muttered. “And someone used a laser borer to do this too.” He thought for a moment and then growled, “Shit! They must’ve got wind of what I’m up to. Looks like I’m going to have to adapt my plans to fit. I just wish they’d leave me the fuck alone.”
The Relic abruptly caught his attention sitting on the drawing table. It glowed softly and the crystal on the apex shined with an unearthly radiance. Hannibal rose and picked up the Relic, gazing intently at the strange reaction it exhibited. “What the hell?” he murmured. “Why is it glowing?” He puzzled over it and decided to take it into the kitchen where he’d get a snack. As he left the garage, the Relic ceased to glow. Noticing it, he immediately turned around, going back into the garage. The Relic began glowing again. “Mmmm; interesting,” he muttered. He carried it around the garage, watching as the intensity of the glow fluctuated. The Relic glowed strongest where the cedar chest sat. Therefore, he put the Relic on top of the cedar chest and set about searching through the mess of papers and notebooks. “It would be easier if I knew what I was looking for,” Hannibal muttered.
“You know it when you find it, son,” the voice whispered cryptically in his ear. Hannibal searched for an hour through the mess, and then decided to stop. Looking at the snake and the blood puddle on his floor, he decided to clean it up.
Going into the kitchen, Hannibal retrieved a five-gallon bucket from a closet and a roll of paper towels to clean up the mess of blood. The snake, which was nearly seven feet long, went into the bucket and he scrubbed the floor until he had cleaned up the blood. The paper towels went into the bucket with the snake and he set them next to the door to the kitchen.
Hannibal then went to his utility closet, retrieving a bag of concrete patch, a trowel, and an empty bucket. Going into the kitchen, he mixed a half gallon of the concrete patch with water. When he had it mixed to the consistency of putty, he returned to the garage and filled the hole in the cinderblock wall, troweling it smooth. With the hole filled, he left the trowel in the empty bucket and returned to his recliner. He sat down and looked at the Relic sitting on the cedar trunk glowing in an unearthly manner. Sitting there, drowsiness suddenly beset him. He struggled against it but was unsuccessful in staving it off. Slipping off to sleep, he laid there for nearly two hours.
With a gasp, Hannibal lurched and woke, nearly jumping out of his chair. Looking around wildly as his heart pounded like a jackhammer in his chest, he slowly calmed down as he leaned on the table. Looking at the Relic on the trunk and its strange glow, he went to the mess of papers and notebooks on the floor. Kneeling down, he rummaged through the piles and papers. Within five minutes, he found a small leather bag in the midst of the papers. He gently picked it up and opened it, finding another small relic in the bag: a medallion about half an inch thick by two inches across. Hannibal gently took the Medallion out and looked intensely at it. It was glowing as well. “Well, isn’t this interesting,” he mumbled. The Medallion was made out of solid gold with a small crystal about half an inch across embedded in the center of it. The crystal appeared to be the same kind of crystal as that on the Relic. All around the crystal engraved in the gold was some strange type of writing that resembled that on the Relic. “What’s going on here?” he asked. “I remember finding this several years ago. Why does it now glow like this Relic?” He scratched his head as he brought it over near the Relic. Both of the strange pieces glowed brightly. He touched the Relic carefully and it was cold as ice despite the fact that it glowed almost as if it were red hot. “This is really strange,” he said, walking away from the Relic with the Medallion in his hand. The farther away from the Relic he went, the dimmer it glowed. When he stepped through the door into the kitchen and looked out into the garage at the Relic, it stopped glowing at all. These two things belong together, he thought. This is too weird. I’d better keep these two things separated for now.
At that, he went back into the garage and checked the windows and doors. All were locked and secure. He turned out the light as he left the garage, and then proceeded to secure the rest of the house. All the windows and doors were locked except for the front door that he came in. He promptly locked it and turned out the lights as he went to his bedroom. Sitting the Medallion on the dresser, he promptly checked the room to see that it was secure. Once satisfied that he was alone, he sat the pistol on his nightstand and changed into some sweat pants and T-shirt before kneeling down beside his bed and praying fervently for ten minutes. After praying, he climbed into his bed and, for once, drifted off into a restful sleep that was punctuated with strange elusive dreams of forgotten worlds.