Intruder in the Dark

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic


Intruder in the Dark, secretly watching the house, outside in the backyard by the bird feeder....

Submitted: August 17, 2018

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Submitted: August 17, 2018

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On the last night of October 1994, Lynnette Farmington was upstairs in her room alone getting undressed for bed when she happened to glance out the window to see the strange light in the front yard.  Her first thought was belated trick-or-treaters or perhaps some of her juvenile high school friends perpetrating a prank, but the eerie turquoise-blue light didn’t lend itself to such ready explanation.

About the size of a human head, the mysterious glow hovered a few feet off the ground, alternating rapidly between bright and barely visible.  It was like a vaporous cloud constantly changing shape.  Curious, Lynnette watched for what she felt to be about a minute, then the odd light was gone.  She turned away from the window to see the large numerals on her digital clock indicating the time was a few minutes past midnight.  It had been 9:30 when she began undressing.  Nearly three hours of her life had vanished.  Lynnette had no memory of what had transpired during the intervening span of time, nor had she any explanation for how such a disturbing abnormality could have occurred.

A dull soreness throbbed in her arms and legs which were unusually lethargic.  Climbing into bed, Lynnette trembled slightly.  She turned off the bedside lamp.  The darkness made it easy to close her eyes.  As her weary mind succumbed to the drowsy influence of slumber, she heard something thump in the attic directly above the ceiling of her room.  That night, Lynnette's restless sleep would be filled with unpleasant disconnected dreams.

The much troubled adolescent girl wasn’t in the best of spirits.  In the preceding months, pain in her pelvic region and frighteningly heavy menstrual flow had led to a CAT scan that led to a PET scan that led to an MRI, all to verify what she had been diagnosed with - ovarian cancer.  

After consulting with the surgeon, the oncologist, Dr. Margaret Peel, somberly explained to Lynnette that she would have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation to shrink the malignant neoplasm before the tissues could be divided, which was an evasive way of saying cut the tumor out.  They could save Lynnette’s life, but she wouldn't be able to have children.

Waking early the next morning to the loud noise of her radio alarm clock, the listless girl forced herself out of bed.  She felt as though she had not rested well at all. It required monumental effort to dress for school.  Dragging her tired body downstairs she could hear her father complaining that he was going to switch cable companies, because last night made the third night in a row that the TV had blanked out into nothing but static and white noise.

"While you're at it," griped her mom, "call appliance repair.  The clothes washing machine has gone haywire.  No matter what setting I select, the crazy thing goes immediately into the spin cycle.  I'm gonna have to go to my sister's to do laundry."

“Hi, punkin,” Lynnette’s dad kissed the top of her head, “have a good day.”  Grabbing his hardhat and stainless steel lunchbox, he walked out the side door of the kitchen.  She heard his old pickup sputter to life.  She reflected sentimentally on how he loved that banged-up truck - rust, disintegrating seat cushions, cracked side mirrors, and all.  Nothing short of pain of death would induce him to trade it for a new one.  She listened with detached wonder as the backfiring sound of the rickety bucket-of-bolts slowly dissipated in the distance.

“I’m going to your Aunt Sylvia’s to wash clothes,” Mrs. Farmington’s pert voice interrupted the train of Lynette’s dreamy thoughts.  The droopy girl’s abstract gaze detected peripherally that her mother was bustling about, heaping dirty clothes, detergent, and fabric softener sheets into a pair of brightly colored laundry baskets that she hefted into the garage where the minivan was parked.  Returning to the kitchen, the hastening suburban parent gave Lynnette final instructions before departing, “The bus will be here in 15 minutes.  Your scrambled eggs are on the table, so eat, brush your teeth, and run a brush through that messy hair, young lady.  I don’t want your teachers thinking I don’t care for my child.  I’m in the PTA for chrissakes!”

An hour later, even though the laundry was only half finished, Mrs. Farmington, suddenly remembering she had forgotten to take the pork chops out of the freezer to thaw for supper, returned home to find her daughter still sitting at the table, staring into distant space like a scarecrow in a cornfield.  Her scrambled eggs lay on the plate, cold and untouched.

“Lynnette Ann Farmington, what in the name of all that is holy are you still doing here?  You’ve missed the bus!” glancing at the microwave clock, “and your first class!  What on earth is the matter with you?  You haven’t even eaten!”

Lynette seemed to snap out of her mindless stupor, “Oh yeah, mom, I must have zoned out for a bit.  I’m ready.  If we leave now, I can make it to second period on time.”

Her mother was too shocked for reply.  Fighting against a fiery urge to grill Lynnette, Mrs. Farmington remained watchfully quiet while driving her weirdly behaving daughter to school.  When the girl was getting out of the van, Mrs. Farmington ventured a soft inquiry, “Lynnette, honey, are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yeah, mom, I’m fine.”

The dreamy-eyed teenager gave her mother a quick peck on the cheek, then got out of the automobile and hurried to her next class.  There was an exam that day in second period computer science.  Looking at the test, Lynette saw it was composed of four pages - multiple choice definitions and drawing a flowchart.  BASIC was such an easy programming language to master.  Lynnette was sure she’d ace the exam.  

It was a fifty minute class period.  Forty-five minutes later when the teacher said, “All right, people, time’s up.  Everybody hand in your papers.” Lynnette’s exam was still completely blank.  She hadn’t even so much as written her name at the top of the first page.  Three quarters of an hour had vanished in a blink.  By the end of third period English, Lynnette was sent to the front office.  Her mother was called to come get the strangely dissociated girl.

Later that evening, after making sure Lynnette ate something, then bathed, brushed her teeth, and got tucked snugly into bed, Mrs. Farmington had a private chat with Mr. Farmington to express her growing concern for their daughter.

“She’s scheduled for port placement on Thursday.  I think that’s mostly what’s got her so upset and acting so out of character.  She’s really been dreading that port.”

Mr. Farmington replied with soft compassion, “Well, honey, I would be, too.  Who in their right mind wants a foreign object installed in their body, especially when it’s being put there so poison can be leaked into their flesh?”

“Yes, she’s horrified of chemotherapy infusion, and you’re right, who’d blame her?”

“It’s a pretty heavy blow to be told when you’re only sixteen that you’re afflicted with what will be terminal illness unless the disease is literally cut out of your insides.  I mean, think about it, even if she does live, she’ll never be able to give birth to her own children.  She’ll not be able to get pregnant.  Her only option for being a mom will be to adopt, that is if she could ever find a husband who would be understanding enough to marry her in spite of the fact that she’ll be, in effect, barren.”

“I know, Hadley, I know.  I feel so bad for her, but what can we do?”

“Come on, Tabby, don’t think about it right now.  She’s in bed resting and that’s what we need to be doing.  We’re both exhausted.  We’ll be able to think more clearly after a healthy night of sleep.”

Turning off the lights, Lynnette’s loving parents settled into bed, but no one in that house on that fateful night was going to get healthy sleep.  Unknown to the Farmingtons and their sorely afflicted daughter, Intruders were watching the house.

Sometime very late into the small hours of the dark night, Mrs. Tabitha Farmington woke suddenly.  She did not know what had disturbed her sleep, but she had a feeling that she and her husband were not alone in their bedroom.  Mr. Farmington was lying on his side, his back facing his wife.  She could feel the steady rise and fall of his shoulder, the regular rhythm indicating he was sleeping soundly.  Hating to disturb him, knowing he had to get up early to go to work, Tabitha reached her hand to the right to cautiously switch on the bedside lamp.  She gasped in horror at the unexpected sight that turned the blood to ice in her veins.

Lynnette was sitting in the chair beside the bed, her glassy eyes staring blankly at nothing.  Mrs. Farmington was aghast.  It was utterly creepy.  How long had the poor girl been sitting there like that, gazing silently into the darkness while her mother and father lay helplessly sleeping, unaware that anyone other than themselves was in the room?  Mrs. Farmington spoke softly to her daughter, “Lynnette, sweetie, are you all right?”

No answer.

“Lynnette, honey, talk to mommy.  What’s wrong?  Why are you in here?  Why aren’t you in bed sleeping?”

“I can’t sleep,” was the zombie monotone reply.  Mrs. Farmington’s flesh crawled.  She didn’t recognize the sound of her own daughter’s voice.

“Why can’t you sleep, dear?  Are you hurting?  Are you bleeding?  What’s wrong?  Why can’t you sleep?”

“There’s someone in my closet.”

A sinking heaviness yawned like a boundless abyss of primal darkness in the pit of Mrs. Farmington’s quivering stomach.  While not daring to take her eyes off her eerie daughter, an instinctual reaction caused the mortified mom to reach behind and slap her husband hard on the back.  A piercing sound like the sharp crack of a wet leather whip reverberated through the silent bedroom.

“Jesus Christ, Tabby, what the hell?”

“Get up, Hadley.  Get up, right now.”

Turning over, Hadley Farmington squinted his eyes against the glow of the bedside lamp and began hurriedly unbuttoning his pajama top.  Gently removing the nightshirt, he winced in pain.  His back felt like it was on fire where his wife had smacked him.  He could feel the red welt rising in the shape of her handprint.

With watchful gaze still locked on her ghoulishly detached daughter, Tabitha Farmington briefed her bewildered husband, “Lynnette says there’s someone in her closet.”

Sitting up in bed beside his wife, a confused Hadley was unresponsive for the space of about thirty long seconds, then, “In her closet?  Is she sure?”

“Don’t just sit there, Hadley!  Get up and do something!  Call the police!”

“If we call the cops and there’s nobody in there, we’re gonna look like damn fools, Tabby!”

“She says someone’s in her closet!”

“Well, I’ll go check first, then if there’s someone in there, I’ll dial 911.”

“What if they kill you?  Answer me that?  What then?  What about us?”

“I have my gun.  Besides, as loud as we’re screaming at each other, if there was somebody hiding in her closet, they’re probably long gone by now!”

Hadley opened the drawer of the bedside stand and took out his snub-nose thirty-eight.  He rotated the cylinder to ensure it was fully loaded, then got out of bed and moved toward the bedroom door.

Rudely awakened from restful slumber, Hadley S. Farmington was not in a pleasant mood.  The spot on his back where his wife had whacked him throbbed like acid burn.  His stinging skin felt like it had been seared by a scorching smoking red-hot branding iron.  Gun in hand, he crept quietly down the hall with an ugly sneer on his face.  Whoever was in his daughter’s closet had Hell to pay.

Bracing himself at the door of Lynnette’s bedroom, he pointed the gun into the brooding shadows of the eerily quiet chamber.  With a quick furtive motion, he reached his hand in to flip on the light.  Hadley moved like a trained assassin toward the dark closet.  “All right!  I’m armed and I’ve got you covered!  Come on outta there!”

He was answered only by silence.

“All right, then, if you won’t come out, I’m coming in!”  

Stiff-armed with the gun pointed dead ahead, he made a fast grab for the chain and gave it a yank.  The single incandescent bulb clicked on, illuminating the closet in a dull yellow glow.  Hadley jerked hanging clothes aside, pointing the loaded gun at anyone or anything that might be hiding in that macabre close space.  

Nothing.  He thoroughly inspected the entire closet top to bottom.  He saw Lynnette’s clothes, shoes, tennis racket, and bowling ball.  A huge stuffed animal that his daughter received as a gift on her thirteenth birthday antagonized him with a mocking grin, but Hadley Farmington found no intruder.

After checking under the bed and making sure the window was locked, he looked around in the guest bedroom, and then the bathroom and the closet at the end of the hall.  He returned to his own bedroom where he found his daughter lying on the bed in her mother’s protective embrace.

“I checked everywhere - the closet, the guest bedroom, the whole upstairs.  There’s no one here but us.  She probably just had a bad dream is all.”

His wife was gently caressing Lynnette’s long auburn hair.  He knew the look.  With a voice half sympathetic and half irritated, he spoke softly, “All right, I’ll go downstairs and sleep on the sofa.”

Moping like a child deprived of a favorite toy, Hadley grabbed a spare blanket and pillow.  As he was walking out of the bedroom, his wife spoke, “Leave the light on in the hall.”  Hadley obeyed.

The next morning emerged slowly in roiling mist like a faintly recalled dream.  The weather was cold and gray; gloomy overcast with drizzling rain and low rumbles of distant thunder.  Tabitha had left her daughter sleeping, which she felt was good for the girl’s troubled health, but when mid-afternoon finally dragged around with no sight or sound from Lynnette, the emotionally taxed stay-at-home mom, under the oppressive weight of growing concern, went back upstairs to look in on her daughter.  She found that Lynnette had returned to her own room and, with the fluffy soft comforter pulled all the way up to her ears, the pale girl was apparently sleeping soundly.  Lynnette’s writing desk stood a few feet from the foot of her bed beside the dormer window.  A drawer of the desk was partially pulled out.  Being ever so neat and tidy, Mrs. Farmington walked over to push the drawer in.  She noticed Lynnette’s diary lying face-up.

Normally, Tabitha Farmington would never dream of violating her daughter’s privacy by reading her diary, yet under the unusually extenuating circumstances, she felt the act justified.  Standing with her back to Lynnette’s bed, she glanced over her shoulder to make sure the girl was still sleeping.  With a slight pang of guilt, Mrs. Farmington picked up the diary and carefully lay open the cover.  A jolt of demonic horror stabbed at her suddenly pounding heart with a jagged dagger of psychotic nightmare.  Every single page of Lynette’s diary, front and back, cover to cover, was hideously scrawled with a single ominously portentous phrase repeated over and over, “Intruder in the Dark, Intruder in the Dark, Intruder in the Dark,”

Mrs. Farmington closed the wretched diary and, pressing the repulsive thing to her forehead with her eyes closed, mumbled a soft prayer.

“Mom?”

Mrs. Farmington’s eyes shot wide open.  She tensed with fear at the sound of her daughter’s weak voice.

“What are you doing?”

With her back to Lynnette, Mrs. Farmington slowly placed the dreadful diary back in the drawer of the writing desk, then quietly pushed the mocking drawer all the way closed.  She turned spryly, quickly wiping a tear from her eye and feigning a happy smile, “I was just checking on you, dear.  It’s afternoon.  You’ve slept the whole day away.  Why don’t you get up and come downstairs.  You need to have something to eat.”

At the close of that ill-omened day, as the gloom of dusk crept down from the cloudy lowering sky, Hadley arrived home from work.  Mrs. Farmington waited for him to shower, then fed her husband a hearty supper before ordering him to thoroughly recheck Lynnette’s bedroom; a stressful injunction Hadley obeyed without question.  

In spite of this precaution, Tabitha Farmington was having trouble sleeping.  By midnight the worried suburbanite mom had been in to check on her soundly slumbering daughter no less than six times.  Returning to her own bedroom after the last check, Tabitha Farmington’s bones and muscles ached with tiredness.  It was so very late.  She needed to be sleeping.  A flicker of color in the corner of her eye drew her attention to the bedroom window.  A mysterious faint blue glow seemed to emanate from somewhere outside and nearby.

Approaching the window with the sinking sensation returning to the pit of her stomach, Mrs. Farmington braced herself for a look down into the backyard.  At first, her squirming brain told her she was seeing birds, but then reality broke through the feeble wall of her weakening sanity.  Slowly backing away from the telltale window, a few steps brought her into stumbling contact with the bed.  Turning quickly, she bent over and began vigorously shaking her husband to rouse him, “Hadley!” her voice a raspy whisper, “wake up!  Wake up, Hadley, we’ve got to call the police!”

Mr. Farmington, who had been lying on his right side with his back to the window, slowly rolled over to face his hysterical wife, “What’s wrong with you, Tabby?  What the hell’s going on this time?”

“We’ve got to call the police!  Get up and dial 911!  Hurry!”

Groggy and not a little annoyed at being rudely awakened for the second night in a row, this time from a pleasurable dream about bass fishing, Tabitha’s tired husband dragged himself to a sitting position.  For a moment, he thought he saw a blue glow illuminating the bedroom window.  He rubbed his eyes and looked again.  The light was gone, the window shadowed in deep darkness of the moonless night.

“Go look out the window, hurry, and call the authorities!”

Hadley plopped his feet to the floor, staggered up, and lumbered to the window.

“They’re outside, right in our backyard!  Don’t let them see you!”

Leaning against the window frame to steady himself, Hadley peered down into the backyard.  The unaesthetic melancholy of a nocturnal residential scene was all that met his sleepy eyes.  He turned to his wife, “There’s nothing out there.”

Fidgeting nervously, Mrs. Farmington cautiously joined her husband at the window.  In utter dismay she looked out to an empty backyard, full of grim shadows partially illuminated by the dull yellow incandescent bulb over the back door.

“I saw them, Hadley!  There were three or four of them, standing right there beside the bird feeder!  They were looking up at me!”

Mr. Farmington gave his distraught wife a patronizing look of whimsical affection, “Let’s go back to bed, Tabby.  You probably just had a bad dream.”  

He noticed his wife was wincing as if in terrible pain, her hands on the sides of her head, “Tabby, what’s wrong?  Are you all right?”

“It wasn’t a dream!  I tell you I saw them!  They were right there, standing in our backyard!”

“What’s wrong, Tabby, why are you squinting your eyes and pressing your hands against your ears?”

“My whole head is throbbing!  The voices gave me a splitting headache!”

Hadley, now wide awake, was growing genuinely alarmed for his beloved wife.  He gently put his hands to her shoulders, “What voices, Tabby?  What are you talking about?”

Still clutching the sides of her head, Mrs. Farmington spoke, her explanation clumsy and disjointed.  Hadley couldn’t make sense of her rambling babble.  He was sure she must have woken from a bad dream.

“There were three or four of them standing by the bird feeder.  They didn’t appear to have on any clothes.  They were short and skinny, but their heads were big - as big as yours and mine put together.  I could hear them whispering, their loathsome unearthly voices, all of them whispering to me at the same time, in my mind, I could hear those awful whispers but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  They gave me a terrible headache, Hadley, an agonizing painful migraine headache!  It feels like my brain is going to split wide open!”

Mr. Farmington gently caressed his wife and did the best he could to calm her, “All right, honey, all right.  Whatever it was, it’s gone now.  Everything’s all right.  Please, try to relax.  I’ll get some aspirin for you out of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.  Here, sit down on the bed and try to relax.  I’ll be right back with a couple of aspirin and a glass of water.”

Mr. Farmington helped his violently agitated wife to the bed, then went to the bathroom.  When he returned with the standard OTC remedy for headache, he was surprised to find his wife lying on her back snoring.  Apparently, she had passed out.  She was completely unconscious, as if in a profoundly deep slumber.

Even though she overslept, when finally waking in the cloud-dappled sunshine of the following morning, Mrs. Farmington almost convinced herself that what she had seen in the backyard the night before was only a bad dream - a hideous nightmare spawned from worry about her daughter.  Tabitha was overwrought with deep concern for Lynnette.  The cancer diagnosis, the detached behavior, the call from school meaning gossip would be spreading around the neighborhood - the cumulative effect was taking a toll psychologically.  The emotional strain was making Tabitha Farmington hallucinate - or so she told herself.

That day seemed to fly by.  Night fell early and dark.  Exhaustion and the emotional strain of worry were beginning to tell on a mom worn ragged by fear and loathing.  After checking in on her sleeping daughter four times, an exhausted Mrs. Farmington crawled into her own bed and lapsed into a heavy sleep bordering on coma.

Down the hall in Lynnette’s room, completely unobserved by the unconscious girl, an eerie blue light was glowing.  Lynnette’s eyelids were jolting with the ghoulish motion of REM sleep.  A bird feeder hanging from the twisted barren branches of a macabre gnarled tree appeared to be visited by a few unnatural-looking birds.  Lynnette had never seen bird feathers undulate like a liquid mirage.  They were gray birds, with disproportionately large heads.

After feeling a slight tingling sensation like static electricity on the surface of her skin, sparking at the crown of her skull then swiftly spreading over her entire body, Lynnette began hearing hollow reverberations of what seemed to be an enormous gong.  The terrible cyclic noise resounded mechanically at four seconded intervals - one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand GONG!

The bewildering racket like an ominous bell tolling death was low at first, rising slowly toward a nerve-grating climax, at which point she was struck in the face by a powerful energy-beam of bright white light.

Lynnette’s viewer perspective was that of lying on her back looking up at shadowy figures moving above her.  Vision was blurry, unclear, and vaguely defined as the grim shadows moved with inexplicable purpose.  Scrawny frightfully long arms extending from narrow torsos topped by large oblate craniums were apparently doing something to Lynnette.

Her arms and legs felt clamped down, immobilized.  Someone was holding her down.  Something Lynnette feared was being done to her.  Something threatening was being put inside her.  Get it out!  Lynnette wanted it out, now!  In rising panic, the terrified girl began to struggle.  She heard a soft voice speaking.  She heard the words not as of sound passing through her ears, but of a voice inside her mind.

“Don’t fight us, Lynnette.  Don’t try to resist.  You will not experience pain.  We are here to help you.  Just lie still and let us do what we need to do.”

Tabitha Farmington woke to see her husband running out of the bedroom.  Her daughter’s agonized screams ripped through the house in bloodcurdling shrieks of pitiful mortifying terror.  Horror-struck in confusion, waves of uncontrollable nausea racked Mrs. Farmington’s body with trembling ice-cold weakness as she shot out of bed and raced down the dark hall to Lynnette’s bedroom.  The light was on when she entered to see her daughter, with eyes closed, clawing and scratching ferociously at her father’s anguished and bloodied face.

“Lynnette!” Tabitha shouted in utter helplessness, her brain totally incapable of processing the soul-crushing nightmare assaulting her wide staring eyes.  Diving onto the bed, Mrs. Farmington fought to restrain Lynnette’s brutally thrashing adrenaline-driven blows that threatened to cause serious harm to a weeping and bewildered Hadley whose mental constitution was breaking down entirely under the savage onslaught of the unspeakable fit of convulsive rage bursting from his precious only child.

After a few brief moments of ungodly torture that seemed to drag out into an unforgiving eternity, the violently lurching girl lapsed into an abrupt syncope, her vicious tantrum subsiding into dead silence.  Lynnette’s terribly distraught parents looked on in confusion as their daughter’s limp body heaved up and down at the chest in steady repetition.  The sorely afflicted heavily breathing girl was unconscious.

The idea of calling an ambulance was incongruous with the sight of Lynnette resting in her own bed.  Her placid helplessness pulled at her mentally shaken parents’ shattered heartstrings.  Mr. And Mrs. Farmington didn’t know what else to do, so with a protective instinct not to disturb their haunted child, the harried parents remained in Lynnette’s room in a guardian vigil for the remainder of that physically and emotionally appalling grief-stricken night.

The next day they took Lynnette to the oncologist who rescheduled the port placement for the following week to give the sadly disturbed girl time to recover from her inexplicable fit of schizophrenic psychosis.  Leaving Lynnette in the capable hands of her nurse practitioner, Dr. Margaret Peel took Mr. And Mrs. Farmington to her office for a private consultation.

The worry-worn parents, with dark rings around their haggard eyes, sat side by side in plush armchairs.  Before them, sitting on the edge of her huge mahogany desk, Doctor Peel clasped her hands in her lap and spoke with studied sympathy for people whose lives were being systematically ripped apart by a stalking insidious malignancy, “I’m going to put this as delicately as I know how.  Does Lynette party?”

There was no immediate reply.  Hadley, with a bandaged wounded face, was simply not capable of response.  Mrs. Farmington, with forced courage, shouldered the heartbreaking burden, “Does she what?”

“Does she have any friends who are, well, the rough crowd type?”

“What are you driving at, doctor?  Just go ahead and say it.”

“Do you have any knowledge of Lynnette experimenting with drugs?”

How much more horror could besiege the loving parents’ shredded nerves before they collapsed from the unbearable strain, “I don’t believe my ears,” Mrs. Farmington moaned, placing her anguished face in trembling hands, “why are you asking us such an awful thing at a time like this?”

“We found traces of midazolam and dexmedetomidine in her system.”

Mrs. Farmington raised her tired eyes.  She and her weary husband looked at each other, then back to the oncologist, “Traces of what?”

“They’re narcotics, sedatives, fast-acting drugs used in general anesthesia.”

“You mean like to put someone to sleep for surgery?”

“Yes.  Such faint traces wouldn’t have shown up in routine blood work, but we found some disturbing injuries, unusual puncture wounds on Lynette’s skin that could be needle tracks from intravenous drug use, so I ordered a tox screen.”

“How is it possible?  How could she have gotten hold of such drugs?”

“Oh, well, sad to say, street dealers can get their hands on just about anything these days - everything from speed brewed in a backroom meth-lab to embalming fluid to pharmaceutical-grade schedule II controlled substances.”

Lynnette’s parents were silent.  Doctor Peel offered guidance, “If I may suggest, let’s not question Lynnette about this at present.  She’s under unimaginable stress because of her frightening cancer diagnosis.  I think, for the time being, it’s best to just monitor her closely.  Keep a tight watch on who she associates with.  Make sure she stays home for the next few days.  What she needs now is rest.  Then we’ll talk to her about the peculiar injuries and decide on what steps need to be taken.  In the mean time, I’m writing a prescription for Lynnette - Alprazolam.  It’s anti-anxiety medication similar to Xanax.  I want you to make sure she takes two a day.  Also, I’ve made an appointment for her to see Doctor Killinger on Monday.  He’s the most well-known and highly respected psychiatrist in the local medical community, with years of experience in adolescent behavioral disorders.”

By the time the Farmington family returned home, the dreary rain had started again.  After putting her precious daughter to bed, Mrs. Farmington called her sister.  When the comforting familiar voice answered on the other end of the line, Tabitha spoke directly from her heart to the only person on Earth she felt might possibly be able to help, “Sylvia, I need you to come over to my house, right now.”

Tabitha knew her identical twin sister wouldn’t need a road map to know why she had called.  When Sylvia arrived, the loving siblings embraced each other passionately for a moment, then Sylvia went upstairs to look in on Lynnette.  She found her niece sleeping.  The dismal bedroom was cast in iron-gray shadows of the cold rainy afternoon.  

Sylvia watched Lynnette breathing for a moment, then looked at the writing desk, the ghostly gauze curtains hanging over the dormer window, and numerous framed pictures of drawings Lynnette had made with color crayons when she was little.  Sylvia’s pale green eyes finally alighted on the long-unused dollhouse sitting silently in the lurking gloom of the far corner.  Glancing again at her slumbering niece, Sylvia van Warden turned and walked out of the somber bedroom to go back downstairs for consultation with her horribly distraught sister.

Waiting alone in the kitchen, Tabitha was understandably anxious and on edge.  She began questioning the moment her sister appeared, “Well?  What do you think?” a deep sense of desperate expectancy haunted her tremulous voice.

“Come over here to the table and sit down, Tabby, so we can talk.”

The wholesomely beautiful thirty-six-year-old twins pulled two chairs close together.  Sylvia looked thoughtfully into her devoted sister’s anguished eyes, ghostly pale green, just like her own.

“Tabitha, someone is up there with your daughter.”

Mrs. Farmington bowed her head in harrowed angst, “I knew it.”

“Well, after what you told me you found in her diary, I didn’t really have any doubts.”

“What’s going to happen?” Mrs. Farmington pleaded, her head still drooping.

“I sense a presence in the room - an entity, something dangerous, a force profoundly ancient and terribly powerful, a visitant not of this world.”

Mrs. Farmington raised her head, her eyes red-rimmed with tears of strong emotion, “Is it a demon, Sylvia?  Is Lynnette demonically possessed?”

Sylvia turned away from her terrified sister to gaze out the window into the bleak drizzling rain for a moment, then, “First, tell me again how it began.  What initiated the manifestation of the presence?”

Grabbing a tissue from the box on the table, Mrs. Farmington wiped tears from her eyes, her voice trembling in hurtful agitation spawned by fear for her daughter’s safety, “Lynnette said the nightmares started on Halloween.  She said she saw a weird blue light in the front yard, then she thought something must be wrong with her clock.  She thought maybe the power had blinked off or something.  She couldn’t explain how hours of her life were completely unaccounted for, as if they had just zipped by in only a minute.”

Sylvia reflected thoughtfully, bringing all her experience to bear in an effort to arrive at a solution that would help her precious niece, but the brooding meditation was interrupted by Mrs. Farmington’s agitated insistence, “Tell me honestly, Sylvia.  Is Lynnette possessed by a demon?  Is her immortal soul in danger?  Is she going to die?  Are they going to take her?”

Sylvia squinted her face into an expression of introspective skepticism.  When she spoke, her carefully chosen words came with confidence, “I suppose the disturbing anomalies could be poltergeist or, heaven help us, demonic possession, but I have to tell you, Tabby, what you’re describing sounds to me like a case of High Strangeness.”

“A case of what?”

“High Strangeness - you know, experiencers, mysterious lights in the night sky, missing time, Ufology, alien abductions.”

“Oh, no, Sylvia, what are you talking about?”

“Come on, Tabby, I know the occult and all things paranormal have never really captivated your interest, but surely you’ve heard occasional references to humans encountering visitation by entities of extraterrestrial origin?”

Tabitha was unresponsive, a look of stalking dread carving lines of ominous foreboding into the flushed skin of her face.  Her sensitive sister continued the baleful elucidation, “Twenty miles from here, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, what do you know about it?”

Tabitha shrugged, “It’s a military installation, jet aircraft, the airlift wing, fighter bomber squadrons, I don’t know.”

“It’s far more than merely another boring military installation.  The Wright brothers had their bicycle shop here in Dayton.  This is the birthplace of aviation.  In addition to 590 buildings with over 16 million square feet of space, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has produced major advances in aviation technology.  Why do you think that is, Tabitha?”

Mrs. Farmington shrugged her shoulders, “How should I know?  What are you leading up to?  Why is that airbase so significant?”

“Because Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is the legendary home of the infamous Hangar 18.”

Tabitha Farmington listened with a deepening sense of doom in her heart while her sister detailed real-life paranormal conspiracy.

“Hangar 18 is where the military took the wreckage from the flying saucer that crashed at the ranch near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.  The alien bodies, the remains of the things that had been flying that eerie craft, were taken to Area 51 for postmortem examination and study, but the craft itself was brought here to Wright-Patterson.  Far away in the Nevada desert, the US military actually autopsied creatures from outer space, but the UFO is being reverse-engineered at Hangar 18.  Why do you think that air force base has grown to include 590 buildings with over 16 million square feet of space?  That doesn’t include the vast underground network of state-of-the-art laboratories, knowledge of which is not disclosed to the public.”

Sylvia paused for a moment to give her sister time to absorb and process the spooky disquieting information.  The incessant spatter of drizzling rain suffused the quiet house with a Gothic atmosphere of apocalyptic foreshadowing.  

Sylvia began speaking again in hushed and reverent tones, “By the time the rancher discovered the UFO debris scattered about on his sheep ranch, the alien SOS had already been sent.  Others have been coming to our world for decades.  They select targets, usually females, from the human populace for certain, shall we say, experiments.”

Tabitha was livid, “Experiments, Sylvia?  Are you serious?”

“Yes, Tabby, I’m dead serious.”

There was a momentary silence during which Tabitha Farmington gazed out the window into the backyard, refusing to look at her sister, as if avoiding eye contact would invalidate what she was implying and make the awful truth go away forever.  The bird feeder, somehow sinister hanging from the bare tree branches in the cold rain, shifted ever so slightly.  A suggestive movement that did not escape Mrs. Farmington’s bleary red eyes.

Sylvia’s deep empathy with her sad sister was urging for catharsis that could only come from direct confrontation, meeting the chilling truth face to face.  She pressed onward with as much compassion as the abnormal circumstances would permit, “Tabby, do you remember when Lynnette was a little girl and we let her watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind with us?  It was way back in the summer of ‘86 when the unexplained cattle mutilations were utterly terrorizing western Oklahoma.”

Tabitha nodded.

“You recall how enthralled she was by the mystery of the strange notes of music that kept playing over and over in the heads of those psychically summoned to Devil’s Tower?”

“Yes, I remember.  I remember being frightened that she would, at such a young age, be so fascinated with disturbing paranormal phenomena.”

“Well, did you ever wonder where the filmmakers got the idea for the title of the movie?  In the aftermath of the Roswell Incident, back in 1948, an astronomer and UFO researcher named J. Allen Hynek began a study, code-named Project Sign, funded by the military and based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  Hynek was a skeptic at first, but as he dug deeper into the hundreds of reports of UFO sightings coming in from all over the country, he slowly began to reconsider.  His doubts were being undermined by evidence of visitation.  Based on eye-witness accounts of abductees and other experiencers, the ardent researcher devised a system for categorizing the different levels of alien encounters.  It’s called the Hynek Scale.  The categories are known as Kinds.  A Close Encounter of the First Kind is when a UFO is witnessed - strange lights in the night sky, a disk-shaped object hovering or shooting off at breakneck angles and impossible speeds.  A Close Encounter of the Second Kind is when the UFO sighting is accompanied with physical evidence such as interference with radio or TV signals, strange behavior in animals, or burn marks on the ground.  A Close Encounter of the Third Kind is when sightings of UFOs and physical evidence are enjoined with actual contact between humans and extraterrestrial biological entities, which is very frightening, yet there’s another category, Tabitha.”

Sylvia’s morbid talk was making Mrs. Farmington feel very uncomfortable.  She had a feeling that she didn’t want to hear what her sister was going to say next.

“In the category known as a Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind, a human is abducted by alien entities.”

Mrs. Farmington turned away from her sister and again stared out the window in heartbreaking anguish.

“According to what you’ve described to me, Tabby, this is what has been happening to Lynnette.”

Tabitha turned back to her sister with hurt of resentment boiling over in green eyes sad with pitiful impotence of confused helplessness, “You’re telling me my daughter is being abducted by aliens?”

Sylvia nodded solemnly.

“You can’t seriously expect me to believe that!  My God, it’s like something out of a horror novel!  Do you know what such a thing implies?”

“I know what it implies, Tabby.  Do you?”

Mrs. Farmington turned yet again to the rain-streaked window, her eyes filling with salty tears of terrible emotional hurt that burned red-hot with aching sorrow and shadowy fears.  The pain in her heart found voice in an utterance of mixed grief and terror, the words seeping out under her breath like blood dripping from her veins, “Experiments - Lynnette, my precious daughter, oh no, oh please dear God, no!” she put a trembling hand over her mouth to fight back the wracking sobs that convulsed her torso.  Sylvia knew truly that now was not a good time to attempt to solace her psychologically tortured sister with an embrace, no matter how gentle.  A well-meaning hug would result in open physically violent rebuke.

“Tabitha, listen to me.  I want to have a look at Lynnette.”

“Go ahead,” Mrs. Farmington sobbed.

“I mean a close look, Tabby.  I want to put the Moon Stones on her.”

Mrs. Farmington was silent, a morose look in her pale green eyes.

“Come on, Tabby, you’ve seen me in action.  You know what I can do.”

“It’s all right with me, it’s just that -”

“What?”

“Well, I mean, you know, it’s consideration for Hadley.  She’s his daughter, too.  I’d just like to talk it over with him first.”

“Lynnette needs my help.  I’m her aunt, an immediate blood relation.  I love her.  Her health and well-being are as important to me as they are to you and Hadley.”

“I know, Sylvia, I know, but I’d just like to tell him before you do it.”

Sylvia waited for her sister’s hesitant instincts to resolve into action.

“Why don’t you go on upstairs and see if Lynnette’s awake.  After I speak to Hadley, I’ll be right up.”

Sylvia offered a smile of encouragement, then rose from the table.  Amid the gloomy dirge of drizzling rain, she walked quietly up to Lynette’s bedroom.

Hadley was out back in his woodworking shop.  Mrs. Farmington opened the kitchen door.  She heard the lathe machine whirring.  When the noise stopped, she called to him.  A moment later, he was in the kitchen.  Mrs. Farmington’s sympathy went out to her husband.  He looked so pitiful with his face bandaged from where Lynnette had clawed him.

“Where’s Sylvia?” his voice was as drab as the gray weather.  He grabbed a mineral water from the fridge.  

“She’s upstairs with Lynnette.”

“Oh, I see.”  He sat down at the table and gazed out the window.

“Lynnette needs Sylvia’s help, Hadley.”

“Her help?”

“Yes.  I want to let Sylvia put the Moon Stones on her.”

Hadley was gulping at the water.  He sputtered and choked, “The what?”

“They’re fragments from a meteor that crashed to Earth thousands of years ago.  They have special psychic properties.  The extraterrestrial stones have a mysterious power for enhancing telepathic perception.”

“Tele-what?”

“ESP, Hadley.  With the aid of the ancient Moon Stones, Sylvia’s going to look deep inside Lynnette to find out what’s really going on with her - the bad dreams, the screaming, and possibly what I saw in the backyard night before last.”

Hadley shifted uncomfortably in his chair.  He didn’t have a very pleasant expression on his gauze-matted face.

“Listen, Tabby, I know you want to help Lynnette, and you know I do, too, but New Age flapdoodle and tommyrot won’t do any good.  In fact, it may cause harm.  It may worsen Lynnette’s disturbed mental state for you to let Sylvia feed into the poor girl’s morbid delusions.”

“I’m going to let my sister put the Moon Stone on Lynnette.”

Mrs. Farmington’s husband glared at her with open contempt in his steely gray eyes, “Do you seriously think witchcraft is what Lynnette needs right now?”

“Sylvia’s not a witch, Hadley, she’s a presentient clairvoyant psychic medium.”

Mr. Farmington shook his head sadly, “Charlatanry, mumbo-jumbo, hocus-pocus - what would it take for me to get you to understand what I’m saying?  Why don’t you realize you could cause more harm?  It’s too dangerous, Tabby.  It’s not worth the risk.  Think of Lynnette’s mental balance, for chrissakes.  Dr. Peel gave you the prescription for the anti-anxiety medication, and the appointment for Lynnette to see the psychiatrist is first thing Monday.  Let modern medical science help.  Follow the medication schedule and then find out what the mind-doctor has to say.”

“Hadley Farmington, I want you to listen to me very carefully.  Before we reached our eighteenth birthday, Sylvia and I suffered through the awful horror of watching our mother die of addiction to prescription medications.  Our mother, Hadley!  One afternoon while we were at school, our mom stopped breathing due to an overdose of hydrocodone!  I’m not gonna let doctors in cahoots with pharmaceutical corporations turn Lynnette into a junky!  Before I subject our daughter to anymore tests or drugs, I’m going to try this first.  I’m going to give Sylvia the opportunity to help Lynnette.”

“By putting the Moon Stones on her,” Hadley made quotation marks in the air when he said Moon Stones.

“Yes.”

He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead with his pudgy working-man fingers, “Tabitha, I understand how you and Sylvia feel about what happened to your mother, but I’m not going to aid and abet foolish chicanery that in all likelihood is going to make Lynnette worse off than she already is.  You do whatever your judgement tells you is best, but if what you’re contemplating ends up harming Lynnette, don’t blame me, because remember, I warned you.”

Without giving his wife time to respond, Hadley stood up from the table and marched out of the kitchen into the rain-soaked backyard.  Tabitha watched with a tear in her eye as he yanked open the door to his woodworking shop and disappeared inside.  She could hear the sound of him pounding on something with a hammer.  Struggling with so many conflicting aches in her overburdened heart, Mrs. Farmington turned slowly and walked despondently to the staircase.

When she got to the door of Lynnette’s bedroom, she saw her daughter awake, lying on her back in only panties and bra.  Sylvia was at her bedside taking the Moon Stones out of the heating pad.  One by one she strategically placed the warm rocks at various energy centers on Lynnette’s prostrate body - one on her forehead, one on her chest, one in each palm, one at her navel, and one propped against the sole of each foot.  Aunt Sylvia looked into Lynnette’s gray irises, “You have your father’s eyes, Lynnette.  Are you ready to begin?”

The girl blinked to show she was.

Humming a mysteriously soothing melody - with fingers together and palms facing down slightly above the patient’s body - the clairvoyant began slowly moving her hands over Lynnette’s entire anatomy.  This way and that in visually pleasing rhythms, Sylvia passed her pale hands around and around, eventually zeroing in on the girl’s lower abdomen, then finally her pelvis where the mystically sensitive hands stopped abruptly.  Sylvia ceased humming and closed her eyes.  Still standing at the bedroom door, Mrs. Farmington waited with bated breath.  Lynnette lay totally silent and perfectly still.

Sylvia was unexpectedly hit with a sudden bone-chilling rush of icy air.  In the powerful grip of an invisible paranormal force of unprecedented magnitude, her entire body stiffened rigidly into a paralyzing catatonic state.  Staring wide-eyed into a spinning vortex of utter darkness, a softly glowing image began to emerge in turquoise-blue luminosity from the shadowed center of the infinite abyss.  Sylvia van Warden saw a time long ago when people were not afraid to live, when people knew how to enlarge the bounds of life.  She saw ritual secrets stored in root cellars beneath the foundations of houses built of oak that have been standing on New Colony soil for over three hundred years.  

The stunned clairvoyant then heard radio static as if someone were turning a dial tuning in a signal.  From out of the random noise of the squelchy static, an unidentified male voice broke into her antiquated visions, speaking words that made no sense whatsoever to Sylvia, “A few miles west of Knoxville, tucked quietly away in the mysterious lush verdant of the steep rolling hills and deeply shaded valleys of eastern Tennessee where weapons-grade uranium for the world's first nuclear bombs was refined, lies a nondescript installation effectively shielded from public awareness named Goering of Oak Ridge.”

Static again, then a completely different voice chattering quickly like a radio announcer, “Violently stormy weather triggers dangerous flooding in the tri-state area,” squelchy static followed by a voice like that of a gossiping old woman “It’s a facility for engineering ultra-advanced technology of suspicious origin, a haunt of High Strangeness, very worthy of thoroughly in-depth systematic paranormal research.”  More static, this time mingled with eerie speaker feedback in an oscillating wave tone, then “I'm talking about a gigantic hangar perfectly square in shape where a cloaking device capable of rendering flying saucers invisible to radar and the human eye is being reverse-engineered and adapted for mass production.”  

Static again with an annoying repeating buzzing alarm, “This is a test, this is only a test, if this had been an actual emergency,” another blast of static mixed with a series of beeps alternating between long and short like Morse Code, “We need your help.  The emissaries of the New Colony are here.  It all started with the Massachusetts Bay settlement.  It’s the mystery school of the Gestapo.  The Reichstag is not dead.”  The sound of a woman screaming in horrified agony followed by another burst of squelchy static, then dead silence for the space of a few seconds into which a sudden piercing whine like a turbine engine spooling up seamlessly blended into a robotic female voice, “The cypher has been carefully hidden in her genetic code.  It is our only hope for advantage against their sinister corporate-controlled military machinations.  We are facing an imperative of utmost urgency.  Delete this message as soon as you’ve read it.”  Squelchy static, “Shots fired in the abandoned warehouse district west of port authority at Pier13,” a brief segment of music from a 1920s radio hour, an infant squalling pitifully, then the voice of a little girl, “If questioned, protocol dictates Glomar response - you are to neither confirm nor deny the information contained in this disclosure.”

Another burst of ghostly static followed by the disembodied voice of a severely agitated man with a very pronounced New England accent, “The shareholders don’t know their certificates cloak a monopoly.  The otherworldly identity of the true owners is obscured by confusing layers of shell companies that exist only on paper with no offices or employees.  Remember, their aim is global domination, large-scale exploitation of the human populace.  They’re growing us off like so many head of cattle, mining our reproductive vitality like an expendable natural resource!  Do you realize they destroy crops to deliberately create food shortages so they can exploit hunger as a weapon to bend people to their vile will?  They’ll shoot first and not even bother asking questions later.”  Loud laughter as of many people enjoying jovial conversation at a dinner party, then, “Ask not what your country can do for you”, irritating static, background noise obscuring a Rod Serling voice-over a haunting theme instrumental fading into a trembling whisper the gender of which was difficult to ascertain, “They aim to do something here on Earth that has never been done before, a gruesome experiment that they don’t talk about even among themselves, the hideous scheme being devised and launched in 1947.”  A softly modulated deep baritone “Thank you for joining us here on NPR for this evening’s broadcast of the Prairie Home Companion.”

Sylvia felt the icy chill again, then snapped out of her trance.  She opened her eyes to gaze thoughtfully at her expectant niece.  A gentle smile slowly spread across Aunt Sylvia’s reassuring features.

“I’ve got great news,” said she, plucking up the Moon Stones from the girl’s body, “the Intruders were here, but they’re gone now.”

Placing the still warm rocks back in the bead-studded flaxen sachem pouch, she turned around to face her sister, “and there’s something else.  Lynnette is no longer sick.  The disease that was ravaging her young body is no more.  The Intruders cured her!”

Thus exclaiming, she turned back to Lynnette who sat up on the bed and accepted an overjoyed encouraging embrace of victory from her elated aunt.  Mrs. Farmington placed a trembling hand over her own emotionally-charged mouth.  She didn’t know whether to cry or laugh.  If it had been anyone else, she would have been skeptical, uncertain; but a lifetime of experience assured Tabitha Farmington beyond any possibility of doubt that her identical twin sister’s clairvoyant proclamations were to be trusted implicitly.

Later on that life-altering rainy afternoon while two of Lynnette’s best girlfriends from down the street were visiting to celebrate her astonishing recovery, Sylvia whispered to Mrs. Farmington, “How long was I out?”

Tabitha was confused, “Out?”

“Yes, during my clairaudient encounter?”

“Sylvia, I didn’t notice anything unusual.  You put the stones on Lynnette, waved your hands over her for about a minute, then you began taking up the rocks saying you had great news.”

It was Sylvia’s turn to be puzzled.

During the following week, new scans and blood work verified that Lynnette was in fact no longer afflicted with deadly illness.  Doctor Peel had no explanation for it, but the tumor had completely disappeared.  Lynnette did not have cancer.  There was nothing wrong with her reproductive system.  She was in every way a perfectly healthy sixteen-year-old girl.

Late the next Sunday night, while everyone else was sleeping, the bright-eyed youth, clad only in her nightgown, got up out of bed, padded downstairs, and walked outside.  Standing all alone, her bare feet tingling from the damp chill of the cool grass, Lynnette Farmington leaned her head way back and gazed up in fascinated wonder at the dazzling infinity of scintillating stars.  She didn’t know who the Intruders were or why they had helped her, but she knew they had come from the stars.  Somehow, she knew they came from the stars.


© Copyright 2018 Sean Terrence Best. All rights reserved.

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