Tales Behind the Tombstones

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Session with Smurl

Submitted: August 30, 2017

Reads: 166

Comments: 6

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 30, 2017

A A A

A A A

5.Session with Smurl

 

 

 

Light the candles, set the board,

in groups of two or more.

Be not scared or it will know,

You’re knocking on deaths’ door.

Touch and don’t withdraw your fingers,

as letters form words beyond the grave.

Ask your questions, heed the answers,

made.

Don’t allow evil through,

the portal to our side.

Darkness will consume your soul,

unless you say goodbye.

 

 

 

The car rounded the corner; the kids were laughing and talking excitedly as their parents pulled up in front of their new home. Jason had received a job offer at the local paper; he and his wife, Carol had moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Pittston, Pennsylvania on a whim. With a huge pay increase, flexible hours and two days where he could work from home, they snapped up the offer quickly.

It was a five bedroom, two-story, brick home with an attic, verandas and lovely gardens bursting with roses, lilies, jasmine and other fragrant blooms. In the garden's centre was a large pond with a wooden bridge and two spectacular water features either side. Moss-covered rocks decorated the perimeter of the pond; home to at least a dozen goldfish. The land was taken care of by a professional landscaper for several years, even while it had no tenants. Jason and Carol bought the house for a remarkably low price and moved in within a week of signing the papers

The kids bounded out of the car and ran towards the house already fighting over who would have the second biggest room. Their family dog known as Samson, a large Great Dane mix, was hot on their heels. The dog had been a Christmas present five years ago; he joined the family during the holiday season at only eight weeks old and became a firm favourite of the children. Anywhere the kids went, Samson followed. When they took him home, he showed a fondness for their eight-year-old daughter, Sadie almost immediately and slept curled up next to her every night. 

The truck pulled in behind them as Jason was busy unpacking the car. Carol had gone inside to help the children pick their rooms. They settled on the second largest room for Sadie; the boys wanted to share the room with the large built-in wardrobe, leaving a room for Jason’s office and a room for storage, it would become a quest room, eventually. Jason and Carol had the largest room overlooking the backyard, equally beautiful as the front. It was complete with bay windows, en suite and walk-in wardrobe.

“Where do you want the bed, Mrs Banks?” 

“Oh, just over there against that wall would be fine, thank you.”

The removalist carefully brought in all their furniture placing each item down where Carol gestured. She had labelled the boxes with the name of the room as she packed and left in a neat stack in the rooms corresponding with their label. Carol unpacked the boxes marked kitchen while Jason unpacked their bedroom belongings. The kids bounded up the stairs excitedly to their rooms, unpacked their things and made their beds. The house was abuzz with laughter and life, and as the sun went down beyond the horizon, the lights in the home flicked on one by one. 

The family sat together in the lounge room. Carol had ordered pizza as there were still some kitchen boxes not yet unpacked, and they had not had time to visit the grocery store.

Samson barked, alerting everyone to a sudden presence. The doorbell rang; he dashed towards the front entrance barking and wagging his tail happily. He was a happy dog, great with other dogs, kids and even strangers. If anyone hurt the kids, however, he would become protective and intimidating. 

“Hi, my name is Amy and we live a few doors down across the street.” A short, slender woman with brown hair, hazel eyes and an awkward smile holding a plate of cookies said. “Here, a gift to welcome you to our neighbourhood.” She seemed to look past Jason and Carol, nervous.

“Oh, don’t worry about this big mutt,” Carol said, patting Samson’s head. “He may look big, but he is harmless, I assure you.”

Amy glanced at the dog before peering into the house again. Carol stepped aside and ushered her in. “Would you like to come in for some tea?”

“Oh, n–no thanks.” Amy stammered, looking utterly fearful. “I–I best be on my way. I need to get the kids ready for bed. Enjoy the cookies.” She waved at Jason and Carol before marching off down the road, not looking back once.

“What a peculiar woman,” Carol said, as she slowly closed the door.

“Who is a peculiar woman?” Sadie said, appearing at Samson’s side suddenly.

“No one, sticky-beak,” Jason said, smiling at her. “Just a lady from down the street.”

By the time they finished their dinner, they were all exhausted. After being on the road for close to fourteen hours, they decided it was time to call it a night. They would resume unpacking in the morning. Jason flicked the lights off as Carol took the kids upstairs to brush their teeth, go to the toilet and get in their pyjamas. 

They tucked Sadie in, kissed her goodnight and headed to the boy’s room. Cooper and Michael were busy wrestling over who belonged to what pillow (since they were identical) and after a coin toss and groaning from the pair, they sorted the problem. Carol turned on the boy’s star finder nightlight, and they kissed them goodnight before retiring to their own room. It was eight o’clock, and all was quiet.

***

Carol roused the kids for their first day at school. The twins were off to the local Elementary school and Sadie to Junior High. They were excited, yet nervous.

Sadie rode the bus to her new High School. A young girl about her age hopped on the bus two stops later and sat next to her. She had black hair, brown eyes and wore black clothing and dark makeup. She had a lip ring and a nose stud.

“Hi, my name is Ivy.” She said, smiling pleasantly.

“Hi,” Sadie responded.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” 

“Is it really that obvious?” Sadie said, raising one eyebrow.

“No,” Ivy shrugged. “I’ve never seen you around here before, that’s all.”

“We moved here from Madison, Wisconsin. Got here yesterday.” 

Neat,” Ivy said, fiddling with her nose stud. “So where do you live now?”

“328 Chase Street.” Ivy’s eyes widened, and her jaw dropped.

“What?!” Sadie asked, bewildered.

Ivy’s face suddenly morphed from horror to excitement. “You gotta have me over one night!” 

“Why? What’s so special about my house?”

“You don’t know, do you?” Ivy said, reapplying her dark purple lipstick.

“Know what?”

“That house is haunted.”

Sadie looked at her incredulously. “Whatever…”

“No, it’s true! Honest.” Ivy deposited her lipstick back in her bag. “Dozens of families have moved in over several decades. I overheard my parents and their friends talking about it. People have died in that house and others have fled in the night with barely the clothes on their backs. The house then gets fixed up and another buyer moves in.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. The last family that lived there…” Ivy stammered. “It was so sad. The guy lost his wife and kids then ended up hanging himself. His caretaker found him. It was all over the local news here.”

Sadie sat stunned as the bus pulled up outside the High School.

***

“How was school, honey?” Carol asked Sadie as she was dishing out the meatloaf.

“I made a friend,” she said, pushing her vegetables around her plate.

“Not hungry, honey?”

“I–It’s not that.” Sadie started. “Mom, Dad…”

Jason looked up from his newspaper. 

Sadie continued, “I–I heard something at school today. A–About this house…”

“What about the house, sweetheart?” Her father said.

“People have died here, Dad.” Sadie felt a cool breeze sweep over her skin, causing it to erupt in gooseflesh; fear etched in her face.

Her Dad folded up the newspaper and her mother sat down. “Darling, people die. No one lives forever…”

“I–I know, but…” she continued, “It was in our house.”

“This house is old. Someone built it in the early forties, so chances are people have died here.” Jason said.

Carol glanced sideways at Jason. “What your father means to say is that someone may have passed in this house but there is nothing to worry about.” She tucked a wisp of hair behind her daughter’s ear.

“But Mom, lots of people. Not just one…”

“Where did you hear that?”

“From a girl at school. She said she overheard her parents talking about this house.”

“They are probably just scary stories honey. I doubt there is any merit to them.” Her father said, comfortingly.

“I hope you’re right,” Sadie said.

***

The rest of the week was hectic as the family worked around their jobs, schooling and unpacking the remaining boxes. They finished unpacking their last box Thursday afternoon. 

Friday morning, they sat down to some pancakes for breakfast. The boys were fighting over the maple syrup; Sadie put the finishing touch in her hair-a purple rhinestone butterfly clip–and began hungrily devouring her food.

“Mom,” she said, with a gaping mouthful of cooked batter and syrup, “Can my friend Ivy stay over tonight after school?”

“I would have to talk to her mother about it first,” Carol said. “Hurry kids or you will miss the bus.”

Sadie hurriedly scribbled down the phone number for Ivy’s mother on a scrap piece of paper, shrugged her backpack onto her shoulder and ran out the door with a mouthful of masticated pancake.

Ivy got on at the usual stop and took the seat beside Sadie. “So, I can stay at your place tonight. My mom just got off the phone with your mom. Cool, hey?”

“Wow, that was quick!”

“Yeah. When she found out your address, I thought she’d say no. My mom believes in that other realm stuff, you know? She is weird. Anyway…”

“She is worried about you being in this house?”

“Yeah well, she has heard stories, and we have lived two blocks away from here my whole life. People talk. News around here travels kind of fast. Everyone knows about this house. But I guess after my mom found out both your parents will be here, and she didn’t want to look like some psycho she caved. My mother wants me to call her before bed though. She worries, a lot.”

“Wow, that’s crazy.”

“Yeah. Well, after school I will stop by my house to grab my things and ride my bike to your house, okay?”

“Okay, awesome!” Sadie said excitedly.

***

The afternoon rolled around quickly. Ivy rode up the driveway and leant her bike against the brick wall, under the carport. She leapt up the stairs and knocked on the front wooden door. She was curious and excited to not only be entering but staying at the house she had heard so much about.

The door opened, and Sadie greeted her enthusiastically.

“Mom!” she called out. “Ivy is here!”

Carol entered the foyer. “Hi, Ivy. It is very nice to meet you.”

“Hi, Sadie’s Mom.”

“Please, call me Carol. If you are hungry please help yourself.” She said, smiling. “Sadie, please show your guest where the kitchen is.” 

“Yes, Mom,” Sadie said, as she yanked Ivy by the arm and headed straight for the kitchen. 

“Oh, and the bathroom!” She added, as an afterthought, but the girls had already left the room.

They all ate dinner together; roast chicken with potatoes, pumpkin and onions, steam veggies all smothered in Carol’s homemade gravy. The boys bathed and settled into bed, Jason flopped onto the lounge and flicked on the TV. It surged to life playing commercials on the Showtime channel.

“Girls, it is eight-thirty. Time for bed.” Carol called up the stairs.

“Aw, mom!” Sadie protested. “It’s too early!”

She appeared in the doorway and gave Sadie a stern expression.

“Your father and I have had a very long day. We are heading to bed soon. You girls should do the same. You can stay up a little longer in your room and talk. Quietly.”

Okay,” Sadie responded, pouting. They bussed around in the room for a few minutes, finding their pyjamas and then taking turns in the bathroom brushing their teeth, giggling at each other through mouthfuls of foamy toothpaste.

Carol entered Sadie’s room with clean, folded bath sheets. “I brought some fresh towels for you girls. Sadie, I hope you showed Ivy where the bathroom is. I leave the hallway light on for the twins so if the light bothers you, just shut the door.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“Thanks, Mrs B.”

“Please, Ivy. Call me Carol. Goodnight girls.”

***

“Ever use one of these?” Ivy asked, retrieving a wooden Ouija board and planchette from her bag. 

“Where did you get that?”

“I found it at an op shop while my family and I were visiting Kentucky last year. It was only five bucks. Neat, huh?!” She exclaimed, holding it up and examining it proudly, running her fingers gently over every engraved symbol, every smudge, burn-mark and scratch. The planchette looked weathered, and one side rounded into a point. 

A-aren’t those dangerous?”

“Eh, only if you’re superstitious…” Ivy said, nonchalantly.

“I–I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Come on, Sadie. It’ll be fine.” Ivy said, smiling. “Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Sadie swallowed a hard lump in her throat at the sound of those words.

Ivy shut the door and placed the board on the carpet. She pulled out five candles and laid them out around it, lighting each one. She flicked off the bedroom light and sat in front of the board. Sadie hesitantly sat on the other side.

“Place your two fingers on the planchette like this,” Ivy said, demonstrating. “Focus all your energy on to the Ouija board.”

Sadie felt the anxiety bubble under the surface. She was superstitious, and she had heard stories involving Ouija boards that didn’t end well. 

The planchette vibrated for a moment then slowly moved across the board. ‘L–E–A–V–E.’

“Who are you?” Ivy asked.

‘S–M–U–R–L.’ 

“Smurl…” Ivy muttered. “I am sure he was the man that died here recently. The guy I was telling you about who lost his wife and kids.”

The planchette responded by moving to the yes engraved in the wood.

“Why do you want us to leave?” Ivy probed.

‘N–O–T–S–A–F–E.’

“It isn’t safe here? In this house?” Sadie whispered, shuddering violently.

‘L–E–A–V–E.’

“Why?” Ivy probed further.

‘T–H–E–Y.’ Pause. ‘A–R–E.’ Pause. ‘C–O–M–I–N–G.’

“I don’t want to do this anymore!” Sadie squeaked, pulling her fingers away as though the planchette was suddenly hot.

“Put your fingers back on the planchette. We need to close the session.”

‘H–U–R–R–Y,’ spelt out the board, quickly. The planchette moved erratically for a moment before Sadie and Ivy could move it to the goodbye position and close the session.

Sadie sat trembling, visibly shaken. She sobbed uncontrollably as her emotions became too much for her. “That guy died here? What does he mean it isn’t safe? Who is coming?”

“I don’t know,” Ivy said as she blew out the candles. “But that was freaky as hell. Smurl is the guy who died in this house recently; the one who hung himself. I think my mom still has the newspaper clipping somewhere. I will see if I can find it.”

“What if we let something terrible get through?”

“Relax, Sadie,” Ivy said, tossing the board and the planchette in her bag. “We closed the session. You have nothing to worry about.”

***

Ivy stood at the kitchen bench, almost hypnotised by her mug of milk rotating around and around in the microwave. The appliance beeped four times. She opened the door and grabbed her warm beverage. 

It was Sunday night. Her parents were in their den watching their usual shows. She said goodnight to them as she headed upstairs to her bedroom. As she entered, she noticed her Ouija board and planchette was sitting on her bed and not in her backpack where she had left them. She stood for a moment, scratching her head. Picking up the board and tear-shaped object she put them in the bottom drawer of her dresser, closing it gently. She skolled the contents of her mug and slipped in between the covers. She was asleep moments after her head hit the pillow.

Muffled noises came from downstairs as Ivy roused from her slumber. She pulled back the covers and padded softly towards the sounds. Upon reaching the ground floor, she noticed that something illuminated the walls with a soft, flickering light. She rubbed her eyes and walked towards her parent’s den.

“Mom? Dad?” She yawned, sleepily.

No answer.

Ivy rounded the corner and saw her parents, kneeling either side of the coffee table. Several candles were lit, and her parents seemed to focus intently on the flames. Ivy walked down the two steps leading into the den and stopped. Her eyes widened in horror as she realised what her parents were staring at.

They had positioned the Ouija board in the middle of five candles. The planchette was moving erratically, yet neither of her parents were touching it.

“Mom…” she whispered, suddenly fearful. “Dad…? What are you doing?”

No response.

Ivy swallowed the lump in her throat and moved a little closer, trembling with each step. Her parents looked up at something in the other direction suddenly and nodded. Ivy could not see what had caught their attention but the way they nodded set her skin on edge and her heart to race. The hair prickled on the back on her neck and she shivered. 

Her parents gaze slowly turned towards her. Their eyes were wide with horror; they looked as though they were silently screaming for help. They rose to their feet slowly, hesitantly, almost like they were not in control of their own bodies. With one swift movement, they ran a sharp blade from one side of their necks to the other. Ivy screamed as the blood trickled out of the wounds and watched in frozen terror as their bodies hit the floor.

Ivy was in a state of shock. She knelt on the carpet at first, unable to move. In the next blink, she was sitting next to her parents hugging their limp bodies. Blood had soaked into the cream-coloured carpet but made an awful squishing sound as she stood on it. Time wove in and out as the grief took hold of her. 

In the next moment, she found herself lashed to the timber support beam at the entrance to the den. The Ouija board still sat on the coffee table, along with the planchette; her parents lay motionless either side. 

Without warning, the candles that had sat there flickering softly suddenly burst into flames. Jets of fire surged toward the ceiling, igniting it. The fire roared ferociously as it took control of the combustible materials. The fire swept across the ceiling, down the walls and along the carpet, inching closer and closer to Ivy’s feet. She squirmed and cried as she frantically tried to free herself.

Strange voices whispered in her ears. 

Ivy screamed shrilly as the flames licked at her legs. The skin bubbled and melt as it climbed up her body. The pain was excruciating. Somehow, she stayed awake as the fire consumed her. An apparition of a woman stepped through the flames and grinned at her. 

“You will all suffer. Just liked I did.” The woman shrieked. She laughed feverishly as she watched Ivy’s flesh melt off her bones.

The house was ablaze as sirens wailed in the distance. By the time the fire brigade arrived, the flames had reduced the house to nothing but smouldering timbers and ash. 

***

Several days passed. 

Sadie felt exhausted Monday morning. She reluctantly packed her school bag and headed off to school, almost missing the bus. Ivy had not shown up at school. When Sadie returned home from school that afternoon she ran straight to the phone.

“Sadie, honey?” Her mother called out. “Is that you?”

Yes, Mom. Can it wait?” she responded. “I need to call Ivy.”

“Honey. We need you in here, please.”

Sadie reluctantly changed direction and headed towards the lounge room where her parents were waiting. Both wore sombre expressions.

Sadie noticed straight away. “What’s wrong?”

“Honey, you need to sit down.”

“No. I want to stand.” She said, frightened and somewhat agitated. She did not like being kept in suspense. She swallowed back the lump in her throat and waited for one of her parents to speak. Her mother looked at her father and shook her head sadly.

“What is it?!” Sadie squeaked, growing more uneasy by the second.

“Honey,” her father started. “There was a house fire. Ivy and her parents didn’t make it out.”

“What?” Sadie shrieked. “When? How?”

“We’re so sorry, honey.” Sadie’s mother soothed. Jason rushed to hold his daughter as Sadie’s knees buckled under her.

Her parents held her as she sobbed inconsolably. 

***

Sadie’s parents were growing increasingly concerned about her as her she sunk further into depression. She was behaving erratically and agitatedly. She snapped at her parents and even acted out towards her younger brothers. She had not cried again since the day she found out about her friend. 

Samson no longer slept on her bed. He would growl at her whenever she entered the room. One day, her parents were watching television when Sadie walked past. Samson suddenly got up from his heated bed and stalked towards Sadie. He growled loudly; jowls peeled back revealing sharp, pointed fangs, ears flattened and hackles up.

“Samson!” Carol called out. “What is wrong with you?”

“Sam!” Jason yelled. “Here, boy.”

Samson didn’t budge. 

“Get out the way, stupid dog.” Sadie spat, kicking the dog square in the jaw. Samson turned tail and ran, whining. 

Jason and Carol stared at Sadie in disbelief. 

“Don’t kick Samson!” Cooper piped up, angrily.

The twins glared at Sadie in disgust as they ran off to find Samson.

***

“Time for bed, boys,” Carol announced.

“Mom, we couldn’t find Samson,” Michael said, worried.

“Why is he afraid of Sadie, mom?” Cooper said, inquisitively.

“I am sure he will turn up, boys. I don’t know why he is afraid. I will take him to the vet when we find him and get him checked out, okay?”

“Okay, mom.” The boys said, yawning.

“Goodnight, boys,” Carol said, turning the ceiling light off. The weight of the world was on her shoulders as she headed to Sadie’s bedroom.

The room was a mess. There were clothes all over the floor, some hanging out of open drawers. Unfinished schoolwork was still sitting haphazardly in a pile on her desk. A rancid smell greeted her nostrils. Carol crossed the room and opened the window to allow air in. Sadie was lying in her bed in the foetal position. She had not changed her clothes in several days; she looked ragged and slightly gaunt. Carol kissed her on the forehead; her skin felt warm to the touch, but not feverish. She closed the door softly as she exited the room.

“I am worried about Sadie. She is not acting like herself.” Carol said to Jason. He was busy getting ready to turn in for the night.

“Me too,” Jason said, as he drew the covers back and climbed into bed. “We will take her to the doctor in the morning. Try to sleep, honey.”

Carol stared at the ceiling for several hours before sleep finally claimed her.

***

Carol woke suddenly. The LED display on the alarm clock beside her read 3:33 am.

She glanced over at Jason who was softly snoring beside her. Something didn’t feel right. Carol pulled back the covers and slowly climbed out of bed. She could hear voices; thinking the boys were awake, she peaked in their room. They were sound asleep. She frowned as she turned towards Sadie’s room. Pulling the covers back, she found the bed empty. She sniffed the air expecting to smell the rancid smell, but it was no longer there.

Darkness enveloped the staircase; Carol carefully descended, holding onto the wooden rail for support. She could hear strange noises coming from somewhere down below.The closer she got to the lounge room, the louder the whispering voices became. 

At the end of the stairs, she rounded the corner and entered the archway leading into the lounge room. Nothing. Not one thing was out of place; the boy’s tiny houses they made from Lego were still on the coffee table, the remotes for the sound system and TV were still where they were earlier. 

Each time she got close to the voices, it sounded like they moved into another room. She rounded the corner leading to the dining room. A feeling of dread swept over her for a split second and she hesitated.

“This is ridiculous…” she muttered to herself. Nothing out of place in the dining room either. Polished brass candelabra sat in the centre of the large oak table, each chair tucked neatly against it. The placemats sat in front of each seat as they did hours before. The voices seemed to come from the kitchen. From where she was standing, there was a breakfast nook between the dining table and the rest of the kitchen. Her ears traced the whispering voices to the other side of the breakfast nook. Carol’s hair pricked up as she ventured closer to the sounds. 

Nothing. Nobody was there. Carol checked the whole house and the backyard. When she had not come across Sadie she panicked, thinking the worst. She ran back through the house, up the stairs towards Jason, about to wake him when she heard the voices again, this time louder. 

She spun on her heels and headed towards her daughter’s bedroom, where the whispers were now coming from, growing louder and more intense. The door was slightly ajar.

“Odd…” Carol muttered. She was sure she had left the door wide open. 

She peaked in through the gap. All she could see was the bed, still with the covers drawn back. As she opened the door, she noticed Sadie huddled in the corner facing the wall. The whispers grew louder as Carol approached her daughter, almost like people were whispering directly into her ears, on both sides.

When Carol was about a foot from her daughter, the voices stopped instantly.

“Sadie?” she mumbled. No answer.

“Sadie?” she repeated, shakily. No response.

She reached out with a trembling hand. Before her fingertips could barely brush Sadie’s shoulder, Sadie spun around suddenly. Her face aged well beyond her years, and her mouth contorted unnaturally, with sharp teeth partially concealed by cracked lips. Blood trickled out of hollow sockets; a seemingly endless pit of darkness on either side of her hooked nose. 

Carol could not move her legs as though someone had glued her feet to the floor. She couldn’t speak. She stared wide-mouthed at the thing that was not her daughter. The thing suddenly let out an ear-piercing scream, shattering the nearby window into tiny shards of glass that rained down on the gardens below. The glass ornaments and vases that covered much of Sadie’s shelves broke one by one as the scream continued.

Carol bled from the nose. She wiped at it and stared at the tiny pool of blood on the tip of her index finger. Sharp stabbing pains permeated inside her head and gradually got worse as the screaming continued. Sticky red fluid trickled out of her ears and her eyes as she stood frozen in terror.

The strange figure lunged at her…

***

Carol lurched upright. Saturated in sweat, her hair hung about her face in messy, matted clumps and her clothes clung uncomfortably to her skin. Her heart was racing and her breathing unsteady.

Jason was missing. She sat on the edge of the bed unable to shake the fear, the nightmare still fresh in her mind. After a moment or two, she stood shakily and freshened herself up a little before heading downstairs.

The house was empty. She entered the kitchen and found a note on the bench in Jason’s handwriting. 

 

Morning, honey.

I have taken Sadie to the medical centre. I thought you could use the extra sleep.

The boys are with me.

Love, Jason.

P. S There is a fresh pot of coffee. Xo

 

Carol smiled as she lifted the jug and poured herself a cup. The anxious feeling had eased. 

“It was just a nightmare.” She said to herself.

***

“Honey! We’re home!” Jason called out. The boys ran through the house and into the backyard, heading straight for the wooden tree house and rope swing.

“How did it go, honey?” Carol asked her husband. Before Jason could answer Sadie skipped up to her mother and hugged her.

“I am sorry, mom.” She sobbed against her mother’s shoulder. “I have been horrible to you.”

Carol looked at Jason somewhat taken aback. Jason just smiled and shrugged.

“Doctor said he thinks it is mostly stress related and everything she has been through lately; losing her friend has just exacerbated the issue. He prescribed her some mild sedatives to help her sleep. We need to see him again in a week.”

Sadie stood back and looked at her mother with a tear-stained face. She smiled at her mother slyly before turning and running up the stairs.

***

Carol slept fitfully again that night. The nightmares invaded her sleep every night. The lack of sleep was interfering with her waking life, locked in a state of perpetual exhaustion. Each time the nightmare was the same thing.

One night there was a subtle difference.

Carol reached out towards the huddled mass in the corner of Sadie’s room. Sadie suddenly turned and smiled that sly smile. Her face stayed the same for a moment before she spoke.

“You will all die.” Then just like that, Sadie slowly faded into mist; leaving Carol in the room by herself, confused and scared.

She had told Jason of the nightmares; he had assumed it was stress. With Sadie losing a friend, being unwell, moving to a new house and starting new jobs all within a few weeks it was understandable. She knew he was just trying to be supportive and ease her mind, but she couldn’t shake the dreadful feeling that something wasn’t right.

Sadie had been sleeping better with the medication, and she seemed happy since seeing the doctor. She was relatively nice to the boys and Jason but towards her mother she was different. No one seemed to notice except Carol. 

At the dinner table that night Carol asked Sadie to pass the butter knife and margarine. Without warning Sadie drove the knife with such force it embedded deep into the timber, barely millimetres from her mother’s hand. Carol screamed suddenly startling everyone at the table.

“Honey, what is it?” Jason asked; concern etched on his rugged face. The twins sat with their loaded forks raised, staring at their mother wide-eyed.

Carol rubbed her eyes and looked at the table. Nothing. No butter knife stuck in the wood. Not even a scratch. Her bottom lip quivered as struggled to keep from crying. She looked at Jason, completely at a loss for words. Upon glancing at her daughter, she noticed the same sly smile. 

“Honey, you need to rest.” Jason fetched a sedative from the first aid cupboard and filled a glass with water. “Here sweetheart. Take this. It will help you sleep.” He helped her to her feet as he handed it to her.

As they walked towards the stairs Carol heard her daughter say to the boys, “Don’t mind Mom. She hasn’t been sleeping well.”

***

Carol slept fitfully; the sleeping pill did little to calm her. Her tired eyes fluttered open to reveal 3:33 am on the clock face. Voices filled her ears like every night before; she felt like she was gradually going crazy. Jason didn’t believe her which made her feel even worse.

There was something wrong with Sadie. She could sense it. The way her daughter looked at her was unlike the daughter she knew. The males in the household didn’t seem to notice. She couldn’t get that strange smile out of her head. A smile that Sadie had reserved only for her mother.

Carol slowly rose out of bed. Her knees cracked, and she felt the weight of the world bearing down on her aching shoulders. She hadn’t slept a full night in almost two weeks; the fabric of her mind was unravelling. She trudged downstairs and followed the familiar voices towards the kitchen. As she rounded the corner heading into the lounge room she froze. Her eyes went from tired and barely open to wide and alert. Her mouth dropped open, and she screamed.

***

Her daughter was kneeling over a furry mass on the floor with a knife raised. The furry mass was whining and howling, struggling to break free of whatever was restraining it. Before Carol could speak, Sadie opened Samson from hind legs to the throat with one swift cut. Paralysed by fear, Carol sobbed. Sadie went about her bloody business, undeterred by her mother’s emotional pleas; she resumed pulling out Samson’s entrails, arranging them in a pentagram. She lit a candle and drew a different symbol in canine blood at each point. With her hands raised, she began chanting in an unfamiliar tongue.

Sadie looked up at her suddenly and smiled slyly.

Carol suddenly caught sight of Samson. He was lying motionless by the bloody pentagram; a large nail was driven through each paw. Carol retched violently.

Loud footsteps came bounding down the stairs. Jason appeared with the twins following closely behind. Carol tried to turn the boys away, but it was too late. They screamed and rushed towards Samson.

Angered by the sudden interruption Sadie scowled at her brothers, shaking her head in disapproval. With a flick of her wrist, she sent the boys hurtling against the far wall where they hovered about two feet off the floor. They struggled and grasped at their throats; the skin from the neck up turning red, then blue, then purple as their eyes watered and bulged. Carol wailed hysterically as the boys crashed lifelessly to the floor with a sickening thud. Jason ran to the twins, frantically calling out their names.

Jason stopped dead in his tracks less than a foot from the twins. His jaw dropped, and his eyes went wide with horror. Sadie slowly levitated towards her father, eyeing him malevolently. Carol wept, silently praying for her husband.

“He can’t hear you right now,” Sadie said, glancing quickly toward the ceiling as a wicked smile spread across her lips

In an instant, Jason burst into blue flames. He let out an ear-piercing scream as the fire blistered and melted his skin; his face contorted into an anguished look of pain. Sadie was keeping him alive and completely compos mentis as he spontaneously combusted. Carol wailed, watching helplessly as her husband was reduced to nothing more than a pile of smouldering embers and ashes. Carol could still hear him screaming long after the fire snuffed out.

Sadie kicked up the ashes as she gleefully skipped across her father’s remains. 

“Aw, ash too bad.” She said, laughing obnoxiously, as she continued to skip toward her mother. “Oh, how I love a good pun! Don’t you?”

She grabbed Carol by the hand and led her back to the disembowelled canine. Paralysed by fear, her mother couldn’t fight against her. 

“We have saved the best part for last, Carol,” the demonic voice that came from her daughter’s lips said.

Carol shook violently. Her demonic daughter laughed devilishly.

“What have you done with my Sadie?” Carol begged. 

“We needed five sacrifices. One for each point of the pentagram. Four down, one to go.” The demon boasted.

Carol whimpered. “Just kill me.” She choked, through sobs. “You have already taken everything from me.”

“Oh, no,” she said, tutting. “We not going to kill you, Carol. You serve a much bigger purpose.”

Moonlight glinted off a steel dagger resting on the floorboards near Samson.

“Uh, uh, uh.” Sadie chided, as though she read her mother’s mind. Sadie flung the knife away with a wave of her hand and glared at her mother. Carol tried to make a run for the weapon, but it was futile. She had no control over her own body.

Sadie continued to stare at her mother and chanted loudly.

 

Et sanguinis non minuetur, 

Et non revertar, 

Revertere ab igne, 

Resurget ex favilla.

 

Sadie chanted the words over and over. The flames flicked and danced, intensifying with each repetition. Suddenly jets of fire burst from the candles. Carol blinked and stared into it. She could see Sadie on the other side; something else was now there, heading towards her from beyond the flames. 

“Ah, the spell is almost complete, my dear.” The voice from beyond the conflagrations said. An aging woman stepped through the fire and stood in front of Carol. It was the woman from her nightmares, only the eyes weren’t pits. She had moonstone irises and pinned pupils. 

“Sadie. Come, my child.” The old woman said.

“What have you done with my daughter, you bitch!” Carol spat.

“I prefer the term witch if you don’t mind.” She responded, smiling smugly. “As for your daughter, she is still in there… somewhere… screaming to get out. Persistent little brat doesn’t shut up.”

“Bring my daughter back!” Carol shrieked, desperately.

“No. That won’t be happening,” boasted the Witch, studying her own pointed fingernails. 

Sadie walked towards the witch as Carol desperately tried to free herself but to no avail. The witch muttered a string of words in Latin and suddenly Sadie changed. Her eyes blinked, and she seemed to notice her mother properly for the first time in weeks.

“Mommy?” Sadie’s voice muttered. “Mommy, what is happening?” Sadie looked towards her mother, her almond eyes laced with desperation. Her mother wanted to run to her, to comfort and protect her, but her body wouldn’t cooperate with her thoughts. 

“Mommy…” She said, her voice trembling with fear. 

Sadie could not see the strange woman, but she suddenly noticed the mass of fur and blood. “Samson?” 

As Sadie ran towards Samson, the witch struck out at her. Sadie’s eyes widened in horror as she clutched at her throat; blood spurting out of the wound, praying a wide arc in front of her. 

“Mommy?” She whimpered, clutching at her throat, coughing and choking on her own blood.

She dropped to the floor; Carol wailed helplessly as she watched the light drain from her daughter’s eyes. 

A dark presence hovered above Sadie’s body. Suddenly Carol felt it surge through her. She blacked out...

***

Amy sat watching the six o’clock news in her lounge room. The news reporter announced a multiple murder at the house just down the road. 

“Oh my gosh, David!” She cried out to her husband. “They only moved in a few weeks ago!”

According to the regular evening program, officers called to the gruesome scene where they discovered two young boys asphyxiated, a teenage girl with a fatal wound to her throat, and what looked to be the remains of a disembowelled canine. The scene was so horrific, officers underwent psychiatric care evaluations. 

They had not found the parents…


© Copyright 2019 H D Cooper. All rights reserved.

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