The Guilty

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

Chapter 2 (v.1) - The Death of John

Submitted: June 09, 2019

Reads: 11

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Submitted: June 09, 2019

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Part Two: The Death of John

 

The funeral came and went.  The burial came and went. I couldn’t face anyone, it seemed, ever again.  I was a murderer. Maybe not directly, but I sure felt like one. If there were any chances of my mom talking to me ever again, they were thrown out the window.  That’s when the depression really started to kick in. After dad left, I had one or two bad dreams. Not nightmares per say, but of him and me just talking. The bad part was I had to wake up, and I realized that I wouldn’t be able to speak with him ever again.  

 

Now, the bad dreams came tenfold.  Every night. And these weren’t bittersweet.  They were full-fledged hallucinations of horror.  There was one that loved to reappear. Of me in the graveyard where Hannah was buried.  It was just a small hedgestone with her name on it, nothing special. And I was standing next to it.  All I could do was continue to stare at the letters in her name, and that dreaded date of her passing.

 

The ground would then crumble beneath me, and before long, I would be falling into an abyss.  Every time this happened, I never hit a bottom. I would only continue to shoot downward, my heart beating so fast, I thought that it would explode, my hands flailing above me.  I would see her face as I fell, that fearful face, pleading with me to help her, sometimes asking me “Why Thomas? Why?” And as I fell, the skin on the face would begin to peel. The fragile paleness would rot into a loathsome green, then black, and crumple into dust, her eyes sinking into the back of her head, and her hair turning a crinkly gray before it too fell apart.  The remains of her head would swirl about me, the smell of decay rotting amongst me, but never actually touching me.

 

Then would come the laughter.  At the end. It was always at the end.  There would be a figure waiting for me, maybe standing on the bottom.  It was her, I know it was. She was wearing the same outfit that Hannah wore on that afternoon afterschool: a pink sweater, blue pants, small white socks.  The girl brandished a knife, and she was cackling.

 

“I am the pants ghost!” she would shriek, “And the pants ghost always demands payment!”

 

The knife would strike towards me and I would wake up.

 

You’ve never lost anyone Lizzie, and had it be your fault.  Have you? Then don’t raise your eyebrows. You don’t know how it feels.  I can barely eat and keep the food down in my stomach.

 

Sorry.  I’m just freaking out.  I don’t mean to be edgy, but you would be too, believe me.  So what was I saying? Oh yeah, I told you about the dream. So a month passed.  Then two. I remember hanging out with you guys still. You comforted me, but I never told you about the dreams until now.  We went out to the movies, played video games, bowled, ate takeout. You know, doing what normal teenagers should be doing, right?

 

Obviously I didn’t feel right about doing it.  I felt like I didn’t deserve you guys. That I should’ve been thinking about her and what she must’ve been feeling while trapped in that machine.  Or how my mom must’ve been dealing with it all. To be truthful, I remember my mom spending a lot of time with Hannah after my dad left. I bet that’s how she was also dealing with that.  But now with her gone, there was only me. And I was the main reason because of it.

 

I can’t help blaming myself, Lizzie.  I can’t help thinking if I did, or if I didn’t.  No, it doesn’t make me feel better, what do you think?  But I feel like I have to. If I don’t, I just feel even more guilty than I do now.

 

Yeah, I know.  I’m in a pretty sick loop.  Where was I again?

 

Oh right.  So, I guess I decided to check myself into therapy with the same shrink that my mom checked into.  Her name was Ms. Waters. She was pretty nice and all, and she was the main person that I told the dreams to.  I said that I was trying to spend time with you guys and she said that that was good. She also asked how I felt about my relationship with my mom, which I was hesitant to answer, but she seemed relatively insistent that I give her something to work with.  That certainly made me feel really bad. I told her that we really didn’t talk all that much, and that was all I said. She didn’t seem too satisfied, but still said that we can move on.

 

I’m trying to think about whether anything else really happened in between Hannah and John, but as far as I can tell, there was nothing.  I suppose that I could tell you about him since you really don’t know him as well as I do.

 

John and I met last year in the eight grade.  We were on the cross country team together, and to be honest, he was the one kid that I had the most difficulty talking to when I first joined.  I think we were both pretty awkward about it, and relatively shy at heart, which makes the idea of us becoming best friends seem less unbelievable.

 

Nevertheless, as time went on, we realized that the both of us had the same sense of humor, and enjoyed the same crappy movies.  So every Friday, we made a deal that we would meet at either his or my house, and pop in a movie just to hang out. That’s how our friendship began.  Then, we both realized that we loved the same music. Who knew that it was cool to love disco 70’s music anymore? Apparently I didn’t, because there he was listening to Rasputin by Boney M.  That’s when I decided to let John join Steven and Me in our group at the homecoming and snowball dances that year. And so, that’s kind of how our little group of three formed. John and Steven believe it or not, as I said before, got along even better than he and I did, which seemed impossible.  But it was like they’d known each other for years: joking, teasing, pranking each other as if they were a pair of old brothers. To be honest, I kind of felt left out a couple of times.

 

But I didn’t want the guy dead.  That was the last thing on my mind.

 

And yet, it happened.

 

What?  Oh, you’re right, I did not mention that one thing.  Something else did happen between Hannah and John, but then again, it was right before the incident.  It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me of it. I remember hearing about it perfectly well, I was there with you.

 

Dear reader, to what you are about to hear was no incident.  It was purely the opposite. And yet, it was equally disturbing.

 

I don’t like talking about it, Lizzie.  It’s just that, knowing what happened afterward...it’s too much.  All right, all right, I know. I should say it out loud, just this once.

 

There we were, weren’t we?  In my house. Just the two of us.  Steve and John were out doing their own thing.  You just wanted to know how I was handling things, whether or not the shrink was helping.  I remember saying that it was nice speaking with a professional. But I still didn’t like how she kept bringing up how much I talked with my mom.  I had to keep reminding her of that fact.

 

I know I’m going off tangent again.  I’m just trying to get all of the details out of my head.  So we were at the table when the phone rang. You stood up to get it since you were closer, but my mom, who was upstairs, got to it first.

 

And yet, we answered it anyway.  We covered our mouths so she wouldn’t hear our breathing.  After what we heard, I almost screamed. You wanted to as well, your hand was over your mouth.

 

“...wanted to apologize,” was what we first heard.  It was a gruff voice, clearly a man’s.

 

“About what?” My mom’s voice was impatient, yet in a low, quiet tone.

 

“It’s your daughter.”

 

“What about her?”

 

“It...it…”

 

The man clearly hated what he was about to say, but just who was he?  Then he said the next few words. “It’s her grave...really, we don’t know how this has happened, and we’ve come to apologize.  It’s a terrible thing to have happened and we wanted to call as soon as we heard-.”

 

“What happened?” My mother’s voice was quickly rising, you could almost feel the heat sizzling through the receiver.

 

“Body’s gone,” the man said briskly in a low murmur, almost a mumble.  “Grave’s...well...it’s a big mess. We’re already investigating.”

 

My mom wasn’t in hysterics, but she definitely sounded as upset as the man was.  We listened to the entire conversation, and made sure to hang up when she did, as to not attract suspicion.

 

At the time, I didn’t suspect supernatural involvement.  I didn’t ever really believe in ghosts, not even then. It was a weird circumstance, at least the first time I’ve ever heard something like a grave robbery occur in our town.  And yet, it happened. Stranger still, the police or any investigators couldn’t find any clues to who’d done it. Either the perpetrator was an incredibly clean, intelligent thief, or something bizarre really was involved.  

 

When we hung up the phone, while I didn’t jump to the possible conclusion that it was the deranged spirit of Hannah, my mind began to race.  Who would’ve done something like this? Why would anyone want the body of a ten-year-old girl who died in a washing machine? It didn’t make any sense.

 

The two of us were shook for days.  Nothing would prepare us for what happened next, right?

 

The day before John, I remember visiting the grave.  Or what was left of it. There were still bits of caution tape surrounding what used to be the final resting place of my sister.  What remained was a giant hole, with the stone split in half, the pieces lying on the edge of the abyss.

 

I found myself staring down over the precipice.  Perhaps I was leaning over to far. But I couldn’t help but remember my dream, the hole in the ground reminded me too much of the abyss that I would tumble into.  All that was needed was the face of Hannah taunting me. That gruesome, ghoulish face! I remembered feeling my stomach rising like a tidal wave, and my knees beginning to wobble.  Already, the dream had partially come true. The ground had already crumbled away in front of the grave. How long would it be before someone would push me in from behind so that I could crash into the earth, where the ghost of my sister would be waiting for me?  Apparently, only a few hours.

 

The night before John, my dream would change slightly.  I would fall, fall, fall into the dark, the face would shrivel and swirl around me.  But before I would reach the ground, not only would I see the image of my sister brandishing a knife, there was another standing beside her.

 

John held nothing to stab or shoot or slice me to ribbons.  He merely stood, arms hanging limply at his sides, staring lifelessly at me.  His pupils were missing, only the whites of his eyes shone. And his mouth was agape, only a low moan escaping.  But as I got closer, the moan would grow louder. And louder. And louder, until it was a wail, then a scream, then an ice-cold shriek.  Before long, my good friend was louder than a banshee, and his limp arms would rise into the air like a ghost, waving about, flailing loosley, as if the bones had left the shell of his skin.  All that was left was a lifeless doll, crying for help. But before I could reach him, before I could help, my sister’s knife would fall.

 

When I woke up, because of that slight alteration in the dream, I could feel that something was wrong.

 

Maybe it was the chill coming from the gaping window that I had left open in the night, or the dry, itching sensation in my scalp that one could normally associate with colder weather.  But at that time, I had never felt more superstitious than before. I remember throwing the blankets off of me, bolting down the stairs, picking up the phone, and punching in the numbers to John’s house.

 

The phone rang.  A few seconds passed.  Nothing. “Come on!” I growled into the receive, my squeezing hands threatening to pop the device.  “Pick up!” Obviously he couldn’t hear me. Nothing. Then a voice came on.

 

Immediately when I heard it, I shouted, “John!  You okay man?”

 

“Your call has been forwarded to an automated-.”

 

Slam!  I’m pretty sure I heard something break when I smashed the phone onto its hook.  But at the moment I didn’t care. The dream couldn’t have been correct, could it?  I mean, yeah, I had it every now and then, and for some reason it just happened to change last night, but it could have meant a whole bunch of things, couldn’t it have?  Maybe I was only afraid that I would lose John next what with my dad passing and then my sister. Who knew what my head was thinking at the time?

 

John couldn’t die.  When had he ever done anything wrong in his life?  Sure some of his jokes were in bad taste, but whenever they were, he apologized, and genuinely meant it when he was sorry.

 

He laughed at her, a voice in my head would sneer.  You saw him that day. He and Steve were right behind you.  Giggling, sniveling at your little sister as you tortured her.  John didn’t apologize that day.

 

“No,” I whispered.  “It meant nothing. John can’t die.”  I felt my sides shaking so hard, I thought that my stomach would burst.  I never wanted to puke my guts out so badly, I was so afraid. “John can’t die.  The dream meant nothing. It meant nothing!”

 

Of course, those beliefs have all but shifted now, Lizzie.  John did die that day. But not just yet.

 

The phone rang.  I ran to it and hit the green button.

 

“Hello?”

 

“John!” I laughed, sounding almost insane.  I was almost bellowing into the phone. “John, you have no idea how good it is to hear you!”

 

“You all right?” My friend’s voice was concerned now.  “You sound a little weird. What’s up?”

 

“You probably won’t believe me,” I began, and for some reason, I stopped myself, “Listen, can I stop over today?  Like right now? I just need to tell you something. It’s really something that I can’t say over the phone.”

 

“Yeah, sure,” John said, confused.

 

“Cool, I’ll see you in like a minute.”

 

I quickly hung up the phone right as John was shouting, “Hey mom-?”, threw on my coat, flung myself out the door of my house, and dashed towards John’s house, which was three blocks down the street.

 

I remember last winter when Steve and John had that epic snowball fight with the rest of the neighborhood kids.  Most of them were half our age, so not even six or seven of their best throwers could compete with us fourteen year olds.  Right now, the first October frost was melting away on the grass.

 

What?  I mention that Lizzie, because it was one of the best memories that I’d ever had of the three of us together.  Before you came along over the summertime Lizzie, before you became my best friend, we were a force to be reckoned with.  I couldn’t think of two other people that I’d rather have by my side to help me get through all the hardships of middle grade; all the bullies, the growing pains, the rejection, the misunderstandings of teachers and parents.  I guess it’s best to combat one of the darkest memories of your life with your happiest, you know?

 

What happened next?  I forget, you weren’t there this time.  No it’s okay, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you.  Just give me a few seconds…..

 

….okay, here we go.

 

So, you know, I got to the house.  And, well, I opened the front door.  It was unlocked, and I entered their house without knocking plenty of times and this was, well, and emergency, so….

 

I can’t quite remember what exactly happened beat for beat after barging through the door to the point of his parents finding me standing next to what was left of my best friend.  But one thing’s for certain. Whoever did it was as sneaky as the grave robber. His parents were still asleep that morning and didn’t wake up until I came barging through the door.  No one found out who John met that day.

 

His...I can’t call it his body, because believe me, there wasn’t…wasn’t really anything recognizable to be called a body.  You know when you make a smoothie? And you throw all of those things into a blender?

 

Yeah.  Something like that.  I couldn’t even see the guys face anymore amidst all of that...stuff.  It was like he was turned inside out. Anyway, that was found in the kitchen.

 

And believe it or not, that wasn’t what scared me the most.  Yeah Lizzie. I know. Seeing my best friend turned into mush wasn’t what got me hyperventilating so fiercely, my heart pounding so hard, my throat constricting so tightly that I thought I would choke and fall dead right on the spot.  It was what was beside it.

 

When I saw them, I remembered starting to scream.  My feet were weightless, like I had started to fall.  The dream was coming true, someone pushed me over the edge into the hole of the grave, and I was tumbling down, down, down into the abyss.

 

Okay Lizzie, okay.  I’ll tell you. It was the pants, Lizzie.  They were the blue trousers. Hannah’s blue trousers.

 


© Copyright 2019 Christopher Stoll. All rights reserved.

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