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Sinister Presence

Book By: SteveDestiny
Horror



Imagine, if you will, a place where all your darkest dreams and greatest fears manifest into reality. Think of abandoned urban streets, shrouded by rain and fog, where nightmare creatures prowl the everlasting night in search of human prey. Picture a desolate world ruled by petty and despotic gods who toy with the lives of mortals as if they were nothing more than disposable pawns in a cruel game of salvation and death. Welcome to Misty Springs, Colorado. Brent Griffis awoke alone one day to find everyone he knew and loved was gone. What was worse is that the world had changed into a nightmare landscape populated by lost souls and desperate bloodthirsty fiends. Then his estranged wife called asking for help. Could she also be trapped in this world gone crazy? If so, could he be reunited with his daughter and all the other missing people he loved? Furthermore, could Brent survive in a world haunted by an eerie sinister presence?


Submitted:Jan 31, 2013    Reads: 45    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


CHAPTER ONE

The Wild Hunt

 

"And demons and monsters shall meet, and the hairy ones shall cry out one to another, there hath the Lamia lain down, and found rest for herself. "

-Isaiah 34:14 [ Douay-Rheims Bible ]

 

 

 

 

 

What is in the closet?

The pitter-patter of steady rain pounded relentlessly and almost rhythmically against the metal roof of a small aluminum travel trailer -a trailer meant for vacations on the road but not really intended for long-term or, much less, permanent living. This was how many residents had lived in the poorer section of the dismal mobile home park. This section too was where Brent Griffis resided -no not lived, scratch that, existed.

One could say that Brent lived, and he did at one time, but what he was doing now did not really much count among the things we might commonly associate with living; he did not enjoy the company of family visits -nor friends for that matter, he did not go out to theaters or museums to experience culture, he did not occupy any of his free time with any creative hobbies of any kind, and he no longer relished the beauty of nature -not that this was exactly his fault at present.

His small trailer sat near the end of a row of other trailers of varying sizes, and of varying ranges of dilapidation and decay. It was cramped in between the larger trailer beside it and one that was half caved in now and totally unlivable -the previous residents having disappeared.

All of the trailers in the park were dirty and their yards were full of random items that might as well be rubbish -each thing could have likely been carefully collected without much discrimination, or purpose, from a junk-yard or the dump. All the windows of these trailers, including that of Brents', were pale and somewhat grimy.

Like the other yards of the park, Brents' yard was overgrown with weeds and filled with things that belonged -yet did not; a badly dented shed blocked by a low stack of three mismatched car tires, a push-mower, an old recliner leaned against the side of the unit, a small round patio table and a few lawn chairs, a broken wheel-barrel, and an empty paint-can setting on a cinderblock.

Sleepy Valley mobile home park was practically abandoned. Most of its tenants had long since vanished away, to where one can only begin to speculate -all things considered. Those few odd revenants that now dwelled there, clinging to a life in the park for whatever reason, were a strange lot and lived like hermits to say the least. They might leave their homes out of necessity, but for no other reason, lest they be abducted, slaughtered, or perhaps eaten even, by the things which literally go bump in the night.

Knock -knock -knock.

What the hell is in the closet?

Although Brent Griffis was entirely alone in his small and unkempt trailer, he felt as though the place was completely devoid of any presence -including his very own. He lived alone and had done so for many years now. He'd had visitors here once, but that was long ago. No one would or could bother to come see him now -even if they really wanted to.

*****

Brent sat on the edge of his bed staring out the window above his dresser. Tattered curtains, which were at one time white but now lightly yellowed from years of exposure to nicotine smoke, hung at each side and billowed in slowly at each gentle push of the cool wet breeze from outside. It was late, darkness ruled the world beyond his window, there was very little to see but there was some vague semblance of comfort to the practice of gazing out it nonetheless.

Eerie shadows sometimes pranced quickly across the walls to taunt him as the occasional car would drive down the road just outside with its bright headlights on. Just then one was passing by, but Brent paid little attention to the commotion of its piercing lights or the cars' noisy muffler as it crawled by -he could hear its old suspension utter a cranky clunky complaint too, as it plopped heavily over a speed-bump. The noisy beast idled a moment after -just before slowly moving on to fade into the distance. From the window in the back room, Brents' bedroom, there was not much of a view of the road that passed through his row and he was not able to discern the type of car that passed, or its driver -if any.

He contemplated trying to rush outside to greet the car and its driver but he had little motivation to do so, having been disappointed too many times before, it would have been futile at best. He had gone out to see who had driven by the last time, but by the time he had made it outside to his porch there was no sign of the car or its driver -as if he'd imagined, or more likely hallucinated, the entire event. He had come back in from the rain, damp rain-water in his black hair, discouraged and indignant. Opening the door at that time of night was foolish to say the least. He had taken an un-needed risk. To be sure of his safety he had quickly locked the door up again. This had happened a few other times too -noisy phantom cars driving past, then disappearing into thin air.

He could manage to ignore the cars, their annoying bright lights, and their disturbing engine noises. The random shadows, however, were always disconcerting to Brent. Any movement within the trailer that was not from a known source was cause for anxiety. Brent had been hearing strange noises beyond the confines of his trailer from time to time at the most unexpected and unpleasant of moments. Such noises had not come to torment him on this evening. At least not yet.

*****

All had been silent for many hours -until the thing in the closet began to stir.

Knock -knock -knock.

"Help me," something desperate whispered from within the closet.

What the hell could it be?

Brent ignored the request and its heavy breathing. Brent was determined to dismiss that he was hearing anything at all -deciding that the noises were all in his head. No one could be in there, it was too improbable. They'd had to have found a way inside the trailer first, and Brent had been sure that the doors were securely locked from the inside.

Knock -knock -knock -This time louder than before.

"Help me. Please," it pleaded desperately.

He tried to convince himself again, nothing could be in there, nothing could cry for help -nothing at all could be banging on the interior of the closets' doors. He would not go look. He would not do it. He would not be tempted or fooled into opening the damned closet door. He feared that if he did, that if he gave in, there would be some unnatural and indescribable horror waiting for him within.

"Please…" a desperate cry from the closet again.

"Please…" again, but this time softer than the last.

"Please," a gentle whispering plea.

"Please," a faint whisper.

"Please…" barley audible.

*****

Time passed and Brent sat almost motionless for nearly a quarter of an hour as he stared out the window into the steady rain. He persisted in ignoring the begging thing from within the hallway closet. He watched as the rain ran down the sides of the Trailer next door. It was so thick, and so dark, like black ink pouring in steady streams down the exterior wall of its dull white plastic siding. Just then there was a sudden movement from beyond the window of the Trailer next door…or had he imagined it? No, he was sure he had seen something. But what?

Brent quickly stood and reached for the window, it was only a few feet from the bed at most, grabbed the lower sash of the window and opened it. As he slid it up he simultaneously leaned his head out as far as he could -slightly straining and hurting his neck and shoulders in the process.

"Hey!" he shouted as loudly as he could. Cold rain dampened his hair and drizzled down the sides of his cheeks to drip from his slightly pointed chin. He thought he saw something peering back at him just on the other side of the glossy wet window next door. A vague apparition of a long dark-haired female with an almond-shaped face peeking between the narrow slits of torn, dark, and crimson curtains. "Hey!" Brent shouted again and burst into laughter as he was near manic with relieved excitement -ecstatic that he may not be alone in the immediate vicinity of his own home in the trailer park anymore.

Is someone really there?

Whatever he saw slowly faded into dark obscurity as each wave of inky rain washed over the neighboring trailers' shadowy window. Had he really seen something or someone?

"Hello?" he asked, then shouted, "Come back!"

Perhaps his laughter had offended her…or it, whatever it was. "No! I'm sorry."

"Come back, please." Brent felt tears welling up in his eyes and a deep pain of disappointment clenching up nauseatingly in his stomach.

*****

Knock -knock -knock.

"Help me!"

"Shut up…you go to Hell!" Brent yelled as he brought his head back inside and shut the window. Rain dripped from his hair, nose, and chin. He wiped the moisture from his forehead and face with the sleeve of his shirt. He plopped his butt back down on the bed heavily and let out a sad moan. He looked at the closet for a moment. It was half down the narrow hallway, across from the bathroom, which lead from his bedroom to the kitchenette and living-room areas.

What was in there?

The thing beyond the closet door was silent -if it were indeed still there or if it had ever been there at all. Brent sighed in relief when it seemed for a while that the thing had given up on harassing him further.

A sudden deep and agonizing urge to smoke came over him, pounded on his head like a migraine, but he had no cigarettes. He had run out several days ago and venturing out for smokes, for anything anymore really, was too dangerous. For a moment he debated rummaging through the trailer again to look for some more…maybe there was a half pack somewhere that he had over-looked. No, he knew better, he had already looked too many times -there was no point. It would be a waste of time -not that time meant as much anymore, but utterly pointless, and completely fruitless nonetheless.

*****

Brent's hollow trailer was dimly-lit and a deep feeling of loneliness and unnerving silence haunted its desperately gloomy and narrow rooms. A small radio on a shelf was powered on -tuned into a classical station and played a bitter-sweet piano concerto somewhat interrupted by static. Even the uplifting music of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff could do little if not nothing to penetrate the ornery silence or to drown out the emotional pains of his pitiful solitude or the sad recollection of regretful memories.

The bedroom was spartan, decorated only with some generic odds or ends and a few truly useful items. A dirty fan sat near a small television, black and white, on the dresser. Also, on the dresser, was a small pyramid-shaped object that appeared to be made of onyx and inlaid with arcane golden designs. Next to the pyramid object was a wooden box about the size of an average shoebox.

The radio, as before mentioned, rested on a dusty shelf near a number of well-thumbed paper-backs leaning up against a few hard-backed books. The titles to the books were mostly unremarkable -being the typical books you might expect to find in a home belonging to someone like Brent -old horror and science-fiction novels.

One hardback book was particularly unusual, its title was 'I remember Lemuria', written by R. S. Shaver. Anyone who had ever heard of it would understand exactly why it was particularly unusual. It was a science-fiction novel, a rather odd one at that, and it had been one of Brent's favorite reads of all time. Spiders too, had helped to decorate with carefully placed webs, in shadowy corners near the ceiling, adding a rather nice arachnid-style flare to the dismal ensemble that was the unintentional motif of Brents' tiny bedroom.

A small lamp sat by itself on a far shelf against the back wall, above the bed, it was powered on, but provided very little light in the room -its lampshade was hopelessly dingy and adorned with small silky threads where spiders had made calculated descents from its lower edge to the shelf below. The lamp base itself looked thoroughly dejected too, as if it had been personally rejected by every half-way decent thrift-store and yard-sale. Its design and decoration was nothing note-worthy in any sense of the word -other than its complete lack thereof.

The small, single-sized, bed was at one side of the room, called a 'Captains Bed', and reminded one of the types of bedding one might find on older sailing ships. It was built-in, of course, with wood and featured hide-away drawers for extra storage. The bed, unmade as usual, was covered with a mismatched set of sheet. The sheets were badly in need of a wash and had been collected from various donations over the years. Much of what Brent owned had been given to him or obtained from thrift stores. Topping it all off was an old quilt, not the handmade kind as a loving grandmother might craft, but rather one of those made at a factory.

How did I get here?

I used to have a wife, kids, never --no, hardly ever any time for quiet, or a moment's peace then. I had a house, a car, and a job -at the factory. I had…well, I almost had it all. Everything at least most people live for -a family. But something… something was missing.

I was not really happy. I do not believe any of us really ever had been. The wife, my daughter, all miserable. Because of me.

Brent reached over to the dresser and pulled open the top-left drawer. The small lamp cast an odd-shaped shadow within. Inside was an old weathered photo of his daughter, Jessica. His hand reached for it almost on its very own. He brought it out and gazed upon it reflectively.

Brent had not intended to spend any time looking at this particular photo, he did not usually keep photos in this drawer. How it had become separated from the other pictures and photo albums in the bottom right-hand corner drawer was beyond his knowing.

She was about twelve in the picture. She had long, straight, red hair that flowed behind her back. Cute freckles adorned her small nose and slightly rosy dimpled cheeks. She had emerald eyes and her lips featured a half-smile that hinted to her mood at the time of the photo. She had not wanted her picture taken. It had been her birthday and she was wearing a shirt her grandmother had given her. She had hated it, but Brent had insisted she wear it anyway -as not to hurt grandmas' feelings.

Why she secretly hated that shirt was as good as anyone else's guess. It was a white shirt featuring a Unicorn with a pink mane and golden hooves standing on its hind legs in front of a multi-colored rainbow decorated with tiny glitter. Perhaps she was just too old for it at twelve. She had gotten to that age where she considered everything 'overly-cute' was for little kids. He would sacrifice anything to give Jessica a hug just then, to hold her little body in his arms, to tell her again how much he loved her -even if somewhere deep inside himself he doubted his feelings for anyone.

A single tear escaped the inner corner of his eye as he put the picture back where he had found it, and as he did so, he saw the shiny metallic object for which he had originally been searching. Amongst a notebook, an empty clear orange plastic prescription pill-bottle, an collection of old cassette tapes, the picture of Jessica, a hand-full of pocket-change, and an old pocket-watch , was a Revolver.

He withdrew the handgun and held it delicately in both hands, he let his hands come to rest in his lap with the gun. He cradled the .38 snub-nosed Special in his palms a few moments as if it were a newborn kitten and thought of the comfort it might be able to deliver providing he were brave enough to use it on himself.

He opened the cylinder -it was loaded, but with a single bullet. It was the last one, he had no more ammunition boxes anywhere else in the trailer, he was sure of it. He had searched the trailer for more ammo thoroughly -even as thoroughly as he had also done when questing for cigarettes. He had checked all the drawers, closets, cabinets, and pantries. He was out.

He knew that he should be sure to use the last bullet wisely or he might be out of luck the very next time he needed to defend himself. He might even need it when going out for more ammo and smokes. There was but one other use he could think of for the bullet, a use that would make sure he would never need anymore, nor would he need cigarettes for that matter, ever again. He needed to be sure though…he could not chicken out or he could suffer, but then again, he was already suffering so much. This would be sure to end it all -if he could just have the courage to pull the trigger.

It is too hard to put the finger on the trigger when it is aimed at ones own head. Knowing what is about to happen is just too much to absorb to ever actually go through with it. His Uncle had managed to do it, why couldn't he? Surely his circumstances were far more desperate and his reasons far more valid than that of his late Uncles'. Brent had tried before and failed -pulling the trigger that is. Why not leave it to chance then? Yes, that was not a bad idea at all, he thought. It often worked in the movies.

How in the Hell did I get here?

Brent closed the hand-guns' cylinder and spun it with the palm of his hand like an old grizzled gunslinger straight from the dusty set of a Spaghetti Western, or at least he tried, and not even knowing why really. Was this his last attempt to humor himself before going out, literally, with a bang? He pointed the barrel at the side of his head, gripped the handle tightly, pulled back the hammer with his thumb, and tried to place his index finger around the front of the trigger. He could feel dampness in his hands already and they began to shake slightly as he closed his eyes, held his breath, positioned his finger over the trigger, and felt its cold steel. The muzzle too, was cold against his head as he pushed it almost painfully against his skull and pinching the thin flesh that guarded it there.

Brent tried to summon the courage and strength to pull the trigger, but he began imagining the bullet tearing through his head, piercing through that thin layer of flesh, puncturing the bone of his skull, and ripping through his spongy brain matter only to exit the other side to spray blood, brain tissue, and bone matter across the wall. It all might even look nice dripping down the wall to compliment the other dismal decorations there.

Fuck it. Fuck it all!

Brent pulled the Trigger.

Click.

Nothing. The cylinder chamber had been empty. Russian Roulette was a fools bet about one out of six times or so. Today would not be the day. Maybe tomorrow, but now, Brent wondered, how the hell he was going to spend the rest of his miserable night.

"Damn it," he muttered out loud. Brent lowered the gun back to his lap. His hand hurt from gripping its' handle so tensely. He saw that his knuckles were white and his fingers swollen and red.

Knock -knock -knock.

"Help me!" the voice from the closet cried loudly.

Brent quickly, as if by reflex, aimed the Revolver towards the closet and pulled the trigger.

BANG!

Muzzle-flash lit up the room like a flare for a split second as the gun discharged a single bullet across the room to its target. The next cylinder chamber had not been empty, now there was a big splintered hole in the middle of the closet door, and Brents' ears were ringing from the gunshot. Despite the .38 Specials' reputation for being a low-recoil handgun, Brents' hand hurt even worse now, it had been awhile since he had fired the gun and he was not used to it.

Shit! he thought as he realized that had he pulled the trigger one more time, while it had been pointed at his head, that he would now have a similar hole adorning his face and that he would not be worried about food, ammo, shelter, cigarettes, or whatever sort of being might now be injured, or worse, within the small confines of the hallway closet.

The smell of freshly discharged gun powder filled the room as did a thin veil of gun-smoke. Brent imagined himself now, as he stood, twirling the gun in his hand like that grizzled spaghetti western gunslinger just before popping it back into his holster. Brent, however, was not a gunslinger, nor did he have a tanned deer-hide gun holster hanging from his black leather belt -therefore he had to settle for placing the warm muzzled handgun into his pants pocket for the time being.

He stood, wavering a moment -a little dizzy from standing so suddenly, waited for the feeling to reside, then slowly stepped towards the closet. He looked around for something to defend himself with, a blunt object of some kind, something easy to grasp and swing in the small confines of the narrow hallway. He recalled the Louisburg TCX Pro Slugger in the living room near the front door -the one with the synthetic grip. He kept it there in case of emergencies, but now, he was wondering why he had not taken it to bed with him the night before.

Brent was really not wanting to walk past the closet now to get to it, whatever was in the closet might be really pissed off now. It might be waiting for him, might burst through the thin wooden door at any moment to pounce upon him and rip his guts out from his lower abdomen.

What the hell am I worried about? I was just about to off myself! Now I'm worried about being killed by a monster? What the fuck is wrong with me?

Brent thought but then reasoned that being killed instantly by a bullet to the brain was much faster and far less painful than being torn limb from limb by some desperately bloodthirsty closet fiend.

Brent took another step towards the closet and wiped the sweat that was now beginning to accumulate at his brow away with the ends of his sleeves. He glanced nervously from the brassy looking handle of the closet door to the dull luster of the aluminum baseball bat in the living room. The light above the kitchen sink was still flickering on and off once in a while and was throwing odd shadows around the kitchenette, the living-room area, and the end of the hallway.

Behind him, the radio music of Beethoven trailed off into a mad hum mingled with the slightly comforting whisper of static, but also mingled with the annoying whine of high-pitched interference. Brent was use to it, it happened once in a while, he was lucky the radio had played music for as long as it had.

Brent rushed past the closet, through the small kitchenette, and into the living room. He shook the entire trailer as he did so and almost tripped on the ugly pea-green doormat on the floor near the front door as he leaned forward to grab the metal bat from the corner by the couch. Quickly, he turned while raising the bat, gripping it with both hands like some great Mongolian war-axe. Brent was about six feet tall, just two inches shy of the height of the ceiling in his little trailer. Sometimes he could feel his hair graze the ceiling as he walked around.

The living room was, like the rest of the rooms in the trailer, quite small. It was just wide enough for an average-sized couch and a small coffee table between it and the partition that divided the living area from the kitchenette. The wooden partition itself was actually a built-in entertainment center of sorts, being just about perfect for an average sized television and a VCR.

Above the couch was a wide window, curtained, and above the window were more wooden storage cabinets. Just off the space where the couch barely fit, and opposite the wooden partition, was a small corner just large enough for a small wooden stand upon which was a phone, answering machine, pencil, notebook, and an address book. The wall between the partition and the couch featured a small window -also curtained. Opposite that wall was the front door to the trailer. Entering the trailer from that door, one was already in the small confines of the living area, but by turning directly left they could enter the small kitchenette and gain access to the small hallway which led to the bathroom and the back bedroom.

Rain water was dripping through the seal of the front doors' frame onto the floor. "Shit!" Brent exclaimed as he pushed the crinkled up doormat with his foot over the damp spot of the floor just under the drip. There it would soak up the rain water until he could fix the seal at a later time.

Brent steadied his grip firmly on the handle of the bat as he once again slowly approached the closet door. A few steps later he heard a nasty gurgling sputter as if something were sucking or gasping for air through a wet hole. The noise was somewhat sickening for Brent to hear as he imagined some person, shot through the chest, trying to breathe with a punctured lung and broken ribcage.

Brent took the final step needed to stand where he wanted to. He needed just enough room to open the door and still manage a one-handed swing of the bat if something required a beating. He really wanted to swing the bat with both hands on the grip, but he was realizing this was not going to be an option unless of course the target was already immobilized and in need of a swift mercy kill.

Standing in front of the closet door, Brent had his back now to the bathroom area, which had no wall or door dividing it from the hallway or the closet. The bathroom was merely an open space containing only the bare essentials needed; a lime green tub, a plastic toilet, a small porcelain sink, and above the sink a small mirror which opened to a medicine cabinet. The wall behind the tub was covered with small square turquoise tiles, a few of which were missing. The bathroom ceiling had watermark stains. A few of the linoleum tiles on the floor near the toilet were cracked. Above the toilet was a towel rack from which hung a solitary light brown and white striped linen towel -wrinkled and in sad need of a wash.

Brent reached out and took the cold doorknob into his left hand while readying the bat in his right. Sweat dripped off the side of his face, down his neck to his shoulder, where it was soaked into his green shirt. He slowly turned the handle with his damp sweaty hand until he felt the latch give.

On the count of three,he thought. That was silly though. He slowly pulled the door open, looking into the darkness beyond, hearing the door creak slightly -almost angrily, as he did so. There was nothing inside but a large empty rectangular darkness where the interior of the closet should have been. Brent thought there should be something inside, but he dared not reach in to feel around, nor was he about to step inside of it to explore the shadowy blackness of the strange hollow space beyond the door itself.

The emptiness within the closet space smelled of the acrid moldering decay of a charnel house. He listened carefully for a moment, wished that the radio was off, tried to hear anything from within the darkness. There was no cry for help and no gasping for air. He could not hear anything other than the radio -which had now gone to uninterrupted white-noise and snow.

Brent closed the closet door. He wished it had a lock. He could think of nothing short of nailing it shut in order to keep it closed. He had nothing to block it with either. He'd had a broomstick which he could have propped against it perhaps, but that had been stored inside the closet up until then.

The hammer and nails were out in the shed, somewhere, in the tool box -under a pile of other things he'd shoved in there over the years. He had never really had much use for such tools. He was not exactly what most people would call a handyman. Going out in the rainy dark to hunt for tools in the old shed was not the best idea. It would take a considerable amount of time to rummage through the all the items in there and such a task would create too much noise. Loud noises sometimes drew the attention of the huge, screeching, long thin-beaked flying things.

He figured, as he scratched his head, he could wedge something under the closet door and he planned to look for something a bit later. Just then something wrapped around his neck and pulled tight to cut off his air intake. Instinctively, Brent dropped the bat and tried to loosen the course thin rope tightening around his throat. The bat landed on the linoleum floor, on its end, with a hollow thud then fell over and half-rolled against the wall of the bathroom.

Something was trying to strangle him -he could hear the culprit behind him snarling like some strange alien from a low-budget science fiction movie, and he could feel it's cold fleshy body against his back-side. Brent struggled to get free by twisting his upper torso away from the thing behind him as he desperately tried to get his fingers between the flesh of his neck and the rope itself. He was choking, panicking, and he felt a painful pressure building in his eyes and forehead.

Out of the corner of his eye, Brent saw his attacker in the medicine cabinet mirror above the bathroom sink. It was a short humanoid being, standing on the toilet as to be high enough to strangle him, with a large bulbous cranium, large yellow owl-like eyes, and a featureless face. It had no ears, nose, or mouth -just angry, piercing, eyes. It was not a muscular creature at all, in fact, it was quite haggard. The monster pulled on the rope at Brents' throat with all of its strength, its long thin arms and bony fists gripping the cord tightly.

Brent threw himself back against the creature, forcing it to lose its balance, and it tumbled backwards off the toilet with Brent crashing down on top of it between the wall and the tub. The thing yelped in pain, almost like a hurt dog, as they smashed against the floor. Now the rope was loose enough that Brent could grasp it and pull it away from his throat.

Air rushed into his lungs as Brent gasped and panted for air. The creature struggled beneath him, one arm reaching over his shoulder, trying to claw at his face but it had no fingernails, talons, or claws -just long, thin, cold, and rubbery fingers. It was kicking its legs also as it desperately tried to get free from beneath his heavy body.

Brent threw the rope down the hall lamely. He scrambled to his feet, grabbed the baseball bat, and he stood slowly still recovering air into his burning lungs. He turned around angrily, fully intent on bludgeoning the odd creature to death, but there was nothing there. The bathroom was empty. The rope was not there in the hallway either -it too was gone. Other than a pain in his throat and lower-back, there was absolutely no evidence that a struggle had even taken place, nor was there any evidence of the strange creature that had just assaulted him so violently.

*****

Knock -knock -knock.

"Help me!" it cried loudly.

"Fuck you!" Brent yelled, raspily, then went back to his room and sat on the edge of it again as he had been earlier. Still breathing heavily and trying to recover, he let the bat fall to the floor at the side of his bed, he took the gun from his pocket and dropped it carelessly into the dresser drawer -why not? It was not loaded anymore. He closed the drawer then collapsed on the bed, rolled over on his stomach, buried his face deep into his pillow and began to weep -softly at first, then began to cry like a six-year-old child might over the death of a deeply cherished family pet.

Knock -knock -knock.

"Help me!" it demanded.

Brent had crying spells like these now and then. They would last for several minutes before turning into maniacal laughter -then in turn, minutes later, progress back into desperate sobbing hysterics. He would laugh so hard sometimes in this way that his rib-bones would actually begin to hurt and he might gasp for air as his face flushed red with frustration and stained with tears. The crying too, was as pathetic and melancholy as anyone might imagine -Brent would suffer like this for an hour or more when such moods came without warning. On rare occasions he would fall asleep after having been completely fatigued by such outlets of extreme emotion. Tonight was not such an occasion.

*****

At some point Brent pulled himself together enough to crawl out of bed to face the night and whatever it may bring. He wanted to sleep, he was exhausted, but his anxiety would likely keep him up for several more hours. What could he wedge underneath the closet door? He went to the kitchen, rummaged through drawers of assorted cooking and eating utensils, in the bottom drawer he found a wooden mouse trap. It might just work -it was just thick enough. The kitchen sink faucet dripped. Brent tried tightening the faucet handle but to no avail. Why did he even bother?

Brent half-smiled to himself as he went back to the hallway. He kneeled down, shoved the little wooden contraption between the cracking linoleum floor and the bottom of the closet door. Brent stood up again, feeling proud of his accomplishment, although he suddenly realized just as quickly that the wedge would not keep anything with any measure of brute strength from forcing the door open. He frowned at his own stupidity -had a mouse been his problem he would have been alright. There was nothing else he could do though and he turned away from the closet door.

He looked for any sign of the odd creature. He thought it might be hiding in the bathtub, within the dark shadows of the shower curtain. He peered around the curtain carefully. It was not there. He searched the small trailer, briefly, the kitchen, living area, bathroom, and bedroom were all devoid of the little gaunt humanoid creature.

Just then a strange alarm began to stir softly outside the trailer. It was an eerie whirring siren that grew louder with each cycle of it long drawn-out duration. It sounded like a ghostly pack of hungry wolves howling and baying as they might on a full moon. The resonant alarm seemed to echo and bounce off every trailer in the park, twisting and contorting as it pierced even the sound of heavy rain-fall.

The noise, for those familiar, was similar to those sirens used by U-Boats during World War II to signal a dive -called a Klaxon alarm horn. Distorted, and from a distance, the noise was discomforting to those that might unexpectedly hear it. If one could set a scheduled time to the sounding of such an alarm they could prepare for it, but this alarm never came when one expected it to and thus was always, for lack of a better term, alarming.

Brent was familiar with the alarm and knew its source, but he was never comfortable hearing it. He knew what it meant, trouble was coming, but what kind of trouble he could never be certain. The siren was that of an alarm that often sounded, without schedule as previously noted, from the old prison on the bluffs. Pulpit Bluffs Maximum Security Prison. It had been a College before… before the world changed. A prison in the other world might use such a device to warn those hearing it of some kind of an prison emergency, such as a prison break or perhaps a take-over. It never sounded for fun or amusement, it always meant trouble -in this world and the other.

For a long time Brent had thought that the alarm marked the hour of midnight, but he was unable to match its sounding to any set schedule by use of any clock in his home. Perhaps time could not be measured as exact as it could have been before the change. There was nothing he could do now but anticipate the worst. The sounding of the siren did not necessarily indicate trouble was heading his direction. It seldom ever did, but he knew for a fact that it meant something bad was happening somewhere, and that he needed to try to determine where that was, and avoid it at all costs lest he forfeit his life or existence to the night fiends.

The alarm, as best Brent could figure it, was the mark of some 'Wild Hunt' as might be described in legends of old. Brent had studied mythology in High-School and vaguely recalled the basic premise of the fables. The 'Horn of the Damned' would sound and the phantom huntsmen would ride out on their undead steeds, aided by spectral hell hounds, searching the night for wild game -in this case the prize of the hunt being the mortal flesh of human victims.

Why the alarm sounded from the prison one could only speculate. Brent hypothesized that the sounding of the alarm, like a great trumpet, signaled the end of prison lockdown for the day or night. Perhaps following the sounding of the siren the cells would then be opened to release the prisoners to participate in the Wild Hunt. Those prisoners not being convicts, per se, but instead ghoulish creatures of the night with a relentless hunger for fresh meat. Human meat in particular.

While the hunt was in progress the fiends would stalk the night in search of unsuspecting victims, pursue them, kill them, and feast upon their flesh. When the hunt was over and the taste for blood temporarily satiated, those hideous creatures then might be summoned back to their cages and/or prison cells until the next hunt.

Brent dared not try to imagine what horrors might be unleashed upon the night on this eve, he'd seen many strange creatures in the miasma. Sometimes, before dawn, an eerie fog would accompany the early morning rain. Brent could sometimes catch brief glimpses, through his windows, of grotesquely shaped shadowy forms lurking about in the mists. The thing he'd seen in the bathroom earlier, hallucination (as he was not certain if it had been real or imaginary) or not, was ugly, no doubt, but far from being the most terrifying of things he knew roamed the dark alleys and abandoned streets.

In the sewers beneath the town, or even deeper yet, he could not even begin to ponder or imagine what ancient and gruesome monstrosities might dwell down within them. Such catacombs likely served as dwelling places for terrible creatures so foul and so horrifying that their visages could not even be conceivable by the minds of mortal men, and much less, could be describable in words.

Brent grabbed a beer from the fridge, the last one, and tossed the plastic rings into the trash. He went to the living room and plopped himself down into the cushions of the ugly couch. The sofa succumbed to his weight, nearly broke, but its springs held fast nonetheless.

Brent leaned forward to turn on the television and popped the tab of the beer can. He lifted the can to his lips and let the frothy liquid pour down his throat. It was a light Pilsner and went down smooth with a slight bitter after taste. He belched as he flipped through the channels on the television. Sometimes there was something on. Tonight, however, was nothing but snow and white-noise. He left it on anyway, hoping something might come on, anything to take his mind off things.

*****

Eventually the noisy alarm got quieter and quieter, until it faded completely, and blended into the sound of the steady rain against the trailer. Thunder shook the ground a few times as lightning struck somewhere in the distance. Halfway through the beer, and a few minutes after, the alarm went completely silent. Brent fell asleep, slouched over sideways, sinking into the worn cushions of the couch. It continued to remain dark outside, and it continued to rain, as usual. He snored.





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