News & Events for C. Dennis Moore
THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE
“You are not going to that man’s funeral!” Jessi insisted as David tried to adjust his tie to the proper length. He got it wrong and yanked it off, then tried again.
“I most certainly am going,” David replied.
“How could you even think that would be a good idea?”
He stopped with the tie and turned to face her. He looked ready for anything in his suit, black pants with a light blue shirt, black jacket resting on the bed. If he could just get this tie right.
“One of my best friends came after us, Jessi. If I don’t go and watch him being put into the ground, I’m going to spend the rest of my life double and triple checking the doors and windows every night before bed, and sleeping with one eye open in case he comes back. I need this closure so we can put this behind us and get back to our actual lives. I need to see him buried.”
Jessi sighed and shook her head, but she turned away and walked toward the bedroom door. She stopped before leaving and said, “You were better than them. They didn’t deserve your friendship.”
“Be that as it may,” David said, and tried the tie again.
Jessi left and David thought, We were more alike than you want to admit, babe. More alike than you’ll ever know if I can help it. When no one else was there, they were. So I have to do this. And I have to do it for us.
He got the tied to his satisfaction and grabbed his jacket off the bed. Before leaving the house, he stopped at the girls’ rooms. Alison sat at her bedroom window, looking out at the Reed property.
“What’reya doon?” David asked.
“Just looking,” she said.
“Making sure nothing’s coming.”
Jesus, David thought. His heart broke for his daughter and he wanted to hug her and assure her nothing would ever again hurt any of them, but why start lying? Instead, he put on his brave face and kissed the top of her head and said, “Lemme know. I’ll start boiling the oil.”
Alison chuckled, but there was no humor in it.
He found Victoria still in bed. She was awake, lying on her stomach and staring at the floor.
“What’s up, girl?” he asked when he came in.
She shrugged. Then he remembered Jessi had grounded her. He wished like crazy he could tell her to get up and go downstairs and try to enjoy the day because tomorrow things were going back to normal around here. But he had to keep that united front for his wife. In fact, he thought, it was a good thing he had Jessi around, because on his own, David would be the most laid back pushover parent around. God, the things these girls would get away with if not for Jessi.
“I’ll be back in a bit,” David said, sitting on the side of Victoria’s bed and resting his hand on her back. “You gonna be okay? Think you can possibly manage for an hour or two without me around?”
“I’m sure the house won’t collapse around us without you,” she mumbled.
“Cool,” David said. He kissed her head and patted her on the back, then tried to comfort her with, “Things’ll be normal again before you know it, you watch.”
“Uh-huh,” she muttered.
Before he left, he had a second when he considered not going, just staying here with his family who obviously needed him around. But another look back at Victoria, and thinking of what she’d gone through just a few nights ago, what it must have taken for her to summon that courage and come to his aid, he knew he had to do this for them if for no one else. So that, in the days and nights to come, when the nightmares became too much and his daughters needed reassurance, David would be able to offer it without lying.
He needed to see Mick Bewlay’s body dumped into the ground and covered up. That was all there was to it.
So he went downstairs, grabbed his keys and his wallet, and left to do just that.
* * *
David arrived at the funeral home, parked the car, and went inside.
He didn’t know what he’d expected, but he knew the Bewlays weren’t the most liked in town. Part of him thought he might be the only person to show, but that wasn’t the case. A small handful of chairs were filled with people from here and there in town. David recognized two old timers from the Seedy M, a bar the Bewlays liked to hang out in. Two other faces he didn’t know, an old man who sat by himself in the back corner, and a younger girl with long black hair, wearing a FRANKIE SAYS RELAX shirt, who sat at the opposite end in one of the middle rows. David took a seat behind Eve, who, as much as he wished he could be surprised to see her, he wasn’t. It was just like her to show up unwanted, in the name of “helping out”. David knew her well enough, though, and this attempt was nothing more than a play at getting attention. Eve would play the concerned one, just here to do what she could, she was, after all, a licensed therapist.
His greatest desire at that moment was to tell her she was full of shit. Instead, he leaned forward just a few inches and said, barely audibly, “Thanks for coming.”
“The least I could do,” Eve said over her shoulder. “How are you holding up? I’m here if you need to talk. How are the girls?”
“Fine,” David said. “We’re all fine. Getting there, anyway.”
He certainly wasn’t going to talk to her about any of the emotional turmoil he had been under, and having no children of her own, child-rearing advice was the last thing he was going to solicit from her, license or no. She was just too full of shit, as far as he was concerned.
David watched the funeral with an eye on everyone else, the few of them that were there, wondering what Mick had meant to them, wondering how well, if at all, they’d known him or Donnie. That youngish girl at the side was the one that confused him the most. The old drunks, no surprise. The old guy at the back could be anyone. But this girl, who couldn’t be more than seventeen, eighteen, how did she fit into the Bewlay-verse?
At the end, as they all began to file out, he looked over to maybe introduce himself and ask her, but she was already gone. And Eve was talking to him.
“What?” he asked, not paying attention.
“Are you going to the cemetery?”
“Oh, yeah,” David said. “Of course. Are you going?”
“No,” Eve said. “I have an appointment coming in fifteen minutes. Be careful, Dave, and tell the girls and Jessi I said hello.”
He nodded, thinking I’ll be sure to not do any of that, thanks.
Aside from David, no one else turned up across the river at the cemetery to watch Mick Bewlay’s body lowered into the ground. As ridiculous as it was, he still kept expecting the wolf version to burst out of the coffin, snarling and growling, and biting anything in its path. When that didn’t happen, he wanted to be able to breathe easier, but being this close to the monster did something to his insides.
I gotta get out of here, go home, he thought.
Home where it’s safe? Is anywhere safe now? He’d told the girls the monster was dead, but how much stock did he put in his own words?
He wanted so badly to believe it was true. He’d come today to see it done and to able to tell them it was done if they asked, but now, standing over the hole … no, it didn’t feel done at all. And the waiting for whatever was going to come next felt like it was going to make his chest explode with anxiety.
Standing at the graveside, lost in his head, David glanced up for a moment and caught movement out of the corner of his eye, to his left. He looked over and saw something disappear behind a tree.
Another movement to his right and David looked, but whatever it was was already gone. He turned fully toward that direction and waited, wondering if it would happen again. If he was patient.
To his left again, and he had the distinct feeling he wasn’t alone anymore, priest and cemetery personnel aside. He had his eye on the tree the shape had gone behind and he watched it to make sure nothing moved from it as he strode toward it. The ground was uneven and rough and he almost tripped over a small headstone, then got his balance and continued on, eyes locked on the spot still.
Nothing had moved there. David reached the tree and looked behind it, knowing he wouldn’t find anyone there, but still looking anyway.
He felt like something, someone was playing games with him, and he definitely did not like feeling like a toy.
He spotted her again, the girl from the service in the FRANKIE shirt, a hundred feet away, but he saw her just as she vanished behind an old crypt. He took off running up the hill to reach her, but when he got there, he was alone.
“Where the hell did you go,” he asked the wind. There was no answer.
Then he saw her again, sitting atop a headstone back down the hill. He didn’t concern himself with how she’d gotten there, he just took off running. He made five strides when she got up and walked off to the left and was gone again behind another tree.
“Motherf--” David said, stopping and looking around. No one at Mick’s graveside seemed to noticed anything amiss at all and he wondered if they could see the girl. He certainly wasn’t going to ask.
She reappeared in the distance and David wondered what she wanted. Was she trying to get his attention? Did she want him to follow her? Did she want him to catch her? That would be a lot easier if she stopped running, he thought.
And then she had company. David noticed two other figures, both women, one to his left, one to his right, too far away to glean any details more solid than gender. He glanced back at Mick’s grave and wondered if that’s what they were after. Were they trying to get to Mick for some reason?
It seemed likely, that or they were just trying to mess with David, but either option, he couldn’t figure out the why behind them.
Then again, kids that age, he thought, there probably was no why. In fact, he told himself, it doesn’t matter, because as of right now, he wasn’t playing their game anymore. There’d be no point in running if David stopped chasing, so that’s what he was going to do. He had dealt with enough annoying family members to know once you stop giving them the attention they seek, they soon grew bored with their own games and moved on.
Maybe that was why she’d appeared at the funeral, she was just some bored townie who saw the notice in the paper and decided to show up? He wanted that to be the case, but there was something in the back of his mind that said not to assume anything just yet. After all, the Bewlays had obviously been into some stuff David had no idea of. A Bill Withers song, “Who is He (And What Is He To You)”, played in David’s head for a second and he wondered if there would be anything back at the trailer to give him a hint about this girl.
He left the cemetery and drove back to the Bewlay trailer.
You need to stay away from here, he tried to tell himself. There was no way the police were done with this business. It was probably too soon to determine the remains they found under the place didn’t belong to Donnie, but they would discover it sooner or later. He needed to keep his distance.
He decided not to go inside, to go home, but first he had to make sure.
You killed him yourself, he thought. You dragged the body to the woods and buried it. Donnie, or whatever he had become, was dead.
But, just like Mick, he had to see it again to be sure. Because there was a part of David that couldn’t let go of that nagging feeling that something very very wrong within the confines of reality was going on.
Oh, aside from the fact that werewolves are real, you mean?
Yeah, aside from that. Because he had this feeling that it was more than that. And if his world was forced to grow large enough to allow for lycanthropes, what else could be hiding in the shadows? And there was that box that was somehow connected to it all.
No, he decided, a memory of having done it just wasn’t enough in this case. He had to check again.
He walked to the spot in the woods where he’d hidden Donnie’s body and tried to tell himself that, since the ground hadn’t been disturbed, he should feel relieved.
Then he heard the crunch of leaves and caught a whiff of amber, and all of a sudden he felt eyes on him and knew the girl from the funeral was around here somewhere. And she had probably brought her friends. Instead of tracking and questioning her, David felt a sense of panic that she would see him here and know what he had done, so he abandoned the spot and hurried back to the car, then sped away.
On the drive home he kept reminding himself of two things, Donnie was dead and buried--Mick too, now--and the girl, if she really had been back there in the woods, hadn’t seen him.
You keep telling yourself that, his inner voice said. See if that helps you sleep at night.
LOOTCRATE!!! I like coming home and finding my LootCrate. This month's theme was POWER and, while it only contained 4 items, I like em:
I like this Hulk Q-Fig from QMx as it matches the Deadpool one I got, I believe, in my Marvel Collector Corps box a few months ago.
Then there's the exclusive Warcraft T-shirt from Legendary. That's a very striking image.
Item #3 will be going to one of my boys who are Dragonball fanatics. This keychain is from Surreal Entertainment.
Finally, probably my favorite item in the box, this Infinity Gauntlet oven mitt from ICUP, Inc.. I'm totally using this thing every day.
No idea yet what next month's theme will be, but I'm already excited for it.
We had a busy day yesterday, and by busy day, I mean comics, then a 45 minute wait for a haircut, and then lunch while we watched SHOCK TREATMENT before I had to go to work, so I didn't get a chance to post this week's comics haul yet. My son got 2, my daughter got 3, and I got 4. Here's the haul (click the covers to read along with us):
I read all of mine while waiting for my daughter's haircut, and as good as the books were this week, the highlight came in KARNAK when a certain favorite of mine in all of life made a brief cameo. See if you can guess who:
THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE
There wasn’t even the discussion of going to school on Monday, not for any of them. It went back to what David had thought the night before on the drive home from killing Donnie. How does one go through what he and his family had just been through, and then face the world like normal? He was supposed to go to work and teach today? The girls were supposed to go to school and learn anything? Not likely.
So the Reeds took the day off. There was work to be done anyway. David called Winston’s Glass and asked how soon they could send someone to fix the window Mick had shattered. The man who answered asked if David knew the size he needed and David told him to hang on a second while he measured, then he spent the next several minutes looking for a tape measure.
When he finally came back with the measurements, the man on the phone--David wondered if it was Winston--said they had that size in stock and he could bring it out this afternoon.
That’s one good thing in a sea of shit, David thought, and thanked the man, then hung up.
David told Jessi the plan and she said, “Good. Did he say how much?”
“A hundred and twenty-five,” David said. “That’s for the cheap single pane. Three hundred for triple.”
“We’ll make do with the single,” Jessi said.
“That’s what I thought, too.” David sighed and looked around the empty living room. The girls hadn’t come down yet. “Well, I guess I can get some grading done, at least,” he said, and sat down at the table with a stack of papers.”
Jessi went for a cup of coffee, stopping briefly to kiss the top of David’s head as she passed him. He wished he could talk to her about everything, but knew she’d never believe it and Jessi, as much as he hated to think of it, had a side to her that David liked seeing as rarely as possible.
He knew she loved him, but man could she be difficult sometimes. Like when it came to the idea a werewolf had attacked and tried to kill their family. Her no-nonsense attitude had always been one of the things he admired most about his wife, wishing often he could be more pragmatic. But in this case, it would be nice if he felt comfortable opening up to her. As it was, he tried to play that conversation out in his head and felt a ninety-five percent certainty it would end with her telling him what an idiot he was. Mick had gone crazy like she secretly always knew he would, she would say. He broke in looking for money for booze or drugs or something, and had forced their daughter to put herself into a position no one, least of all a fifteen-year-old girl, should be in. And she didn’t know if she could ever forgive David for bringing that man around their family.
But then, Jessi’d never been a big fan of either of the Bewlays.
So, yeah, that wasn’t a road he was prepared to travel just yet. Instead, he opted for a much lighter topic of conversation.
“What do you think of Victoria’s news?” he asked.
“I’m not so sure it’s really news,” Jessi said, looking in the refrigerator. She closed it and went to the pantry. “It’s not that big a shock is it? Really?”
David shrugged and muttered, “I don’t know, I was kinda shocked.”
“I think I always sort of knew.” She moved a few things around on the shelf, but didn’t take anything out. Then she closed the pantry door and leaned against the counter. “Didn’t you?”
“Not even a little bit,” David said.
“Well don’t make her self-conscious about it.”
“Wasn’t gonna,” David said. He tried to focus on the papers in front of him, but there were now so many different things running through his head. “Look, not that I’m against it, you know that. I’m all for it. Whatever it takes to keep stupid horny boys away from our daughter. I’m just saying I didn’t expect it. I’m very proud of her, though. And very happy for her. Now I can show her how to pick up chicks.”
“Like you know anything about it.”
“I picked up you.”
“It was pity.”
“Whatever, it worked.”
“If you say so.”
She left the room and David tried to concentrate on grading. But in the middle of all the numbers and formulas, his mind kept going back to that box. He took out his phone and flipped through the pictures of it he’d taken. Just a wooden box. He enlarged the pictures to study the designs on each of the sides as well as he could. It had been dark, after all, and they hadn’t come out as crystal clear as he’d have liked. But he saw enough.
He wondered, if this thing had, somehow, been responsible for the Bewlays … how had it worked? And was it going to do the same to him? Was being near it enough? Or did he have to touch it? He’d made sure not to let it come in contact with his skin, but he had picked it up with the sheet wrapped around it. Was that enough? Or did the box open and something inside had worked some kind of evil magic?
Or was it like that puzzle box in the Hellraiser movies? Did David have to solve it for it to work? If that was the case, he was safe, because he had no intention of ever touching the thing, let alone solving it, if it was indeed a thing to be solved.
He had just wondered if he could find anything online about the box when Alison came into the kitchen. He held out an arm and she came over to him and he wrapped it around her, hugging her close and kissing the side of her head.
“Good morning, girl.”
“Late morning,” David corrected. “Be afternoon soon. About time you got up.”
“I’ve been up for a while,” Alison said. “Just been in my room.”
“I see. Well, that’s okay, too. No reason you have to spend the day with your smelly old father, I guess.”
She smirked, then said, “You’re still my favorite dad, though.”
“And you’re still my favorite younger daughter. Third favorite at worst.”
“Since you only have two kids.”
“That you know of. You have no idea what kind of trouble I got into when I was younger.”
“Yuck. And don’t ever need to. On that note, I just came down for a drink.”
“There’s water in the toilet,” David said, deciding to keep the mood as light as he could to keep them from dwelling on the negative. “Just one door down the hall from your room.”
She stuck her tongue out at him and got the orange juice from the fridge.
“I was thinking, though,” she said as she grabbed a glass from the cabinet. “I think I want a lock on my bedroom door.”
“Do you now?”
“I just think we should all have locks. And we should discuss escape routes in case of emergency. So we make sure we all meet up at the same spot.”
“I think you’re absolutely right,” David said. “That’s always a good idea. But you know the danger is over, right? What happened here the other night, that’s not the new normal. That was one bad man who went a little crazy. Everything’s okay now, though, Ali.”
“We’ll see,” she said. “I hope so. But better safe than sorry.”
“Agreed. And see we shall,” David said.
She downed her orange juice and grabbed a Pop Tart from the pantry, then scurried back upstairs where she would remain, in her room, until dinner that night.
David went back to Google and searched for “wooden box”. He wasn’t sure what he expected to find, maybe a link leading directly to what he was looking for, but instead he got several sites selling wooden boxes. Wayfair, Amazon, Etsy. Michaels.com. Woodcrafter.com.
He clicked the Images tab and scrolled through the pictures, hoping to see the box the Bewlays had stashed under their bathroom sink. Jesus, he thought, who would have guessed there were this many different kinds of wooden boxes?
One box, with an Ebay.com link, looked similar to the one he wanted, but the dimensions were wrong and the designs etched into it had a distinct Celtic flair. The Bewlay Box, though, as he’d come to think of it, had symbols and pictures mixed with what appeared to be random letters, or rather bastardizations of letters.
He went to the pictures on his phone and compared the Ebay box with the Bewlay Box. Yeah, not even close, he thought.
He continued scrolling in case anything caught his eye. After a few more minutes of nothing, he decided this wasn’t going to get his papers graded, and he went back to work.
An hour later, the doorbell rang and David, on edge, jumped at the sound and felt a moment of anxiety, wondering who could be at his door. Was it one of the Bewlays back from the dead? The police, wanting to question him about the dead body buried in the woods?
It was a man named Shane who said he was there from Winston’s to replace the broken window. David brought him in and led him to the plastic-covered hole in the side of his house.
“Thanks,” Shane said, and David tried to place where he knew the man from. The face was familiar. He was about to ask the man his last name, hoping that would trigger something, but his phone rang first.
David left Shane to do his work, and went into the kitchen to answer the call.
He looked at the screen and wondered why his cousin Eve would be calling. Only one way to find out.
“Hello?” he answered.
“David, what’s up? It’s Eve.”
“I know,” David said. “Your number’s in my phone.”
“Well, you never use it.”
“Phone works both ways,” David said, hoping she was quick to get to the point. “What’s up?”
“I asked you first,” Eve said.
“Nothing much. Grading some papers. Taking a day off.”
“Hopefully more than one. I heard what happened. I can’t believe it.”
“About what?” he asked, genuinely confused for a moment.
“The attack,” Eve said. “They said you were attacked at home? That one of those guys you used to hang out with went crazy and tried to kill you?”
“Oh, right,” David said. “Yeah, that did happen. But, whatever, it was crazy, but it’s over. Nothing to really talk about.”
With you anyway, he thought.
“You know, I always knew there was something not right with those two,” Eve said.
Don’t be jealous, David thought, just because Donnie turned you down in middle school. Get over it, already. Hey, if you really want him, I can show you were he is.
David loved everyone in his family, individually, in his own way, and would always be there for them, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. And he and Eve hadn’t seen eye to eye in a while. David had his reasons.
“Yeah well,” he said. “It is what it is.”
“This kind of trauma can really mess a person up, Dave. I’m free tomorrow afternoon for a bit if you need someone to talk to about it.’
“I’m good,” David said. “Thanks for the offer. Look, I gotta go, I’ve got a guy over here replacing a broken window, he needs to ask me some questions.”
“Okay. Well, remember what I said. I’m here for you whenever. Free of charge, you’re family. And those girls are probably going to need counseling for sure after an event like that.”
“My girls are fine,” David said with more edge in his voice than he wanted. “But if anything changes, you’ll be the first to know. See you later, I gotta go.”
He hung up before she could interject again. Shane was looking at him, confused.
“I didn’t have any questions,” he said.
“No, I know,” David said, shaking his head. “Annoying relative, very talkative.”
Shane nodded understanding and went back to work. David returned to the kitchen and his papers.
End of Chapter Two.
If you want to keep up to date on ALL my works, including this one, subscribe to my newsletter. It's free. --CDM.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CHAPTER PICKS UP WHERE THE WEREWOLVES OF GREEN LAKE ENDED, SO THERE ARE SUPER MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU REALLY SHOULD READ WEREWOLVES FIRST AND THEN COME BACK TO THIS ONE. YOU CAN GET THE NOVELLA HERE FOR YOUR KINDLE OR HERE ON AUDIO.
THE VAMPIRES OF GREEN LAKE
C. DENNIS MOORE
This digital edition
© 2016 Shrine Keepers Publishing
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio or television.
All persons in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance that may seem to exist to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.
David Reed drove home from killing his best friend and wondered if he could ever look at the world the same. How does one get up in the morning, brush their teeth, go to work, come home, eat dinner and watch television after having seen the things he had seen the past two days? Both of his childhood friends had turned into wolves and tried to kill him!
The Bewlays coming after him had been bad enough, David thought, but werewolves? David had to reconcile the thought in his mind that he now lived in a world where people turned into wolves. And he really didn’t know if he could do it.
And there was his daughter Victoria. She had seen it too, hadn’t she? At only fifteen, her entire worldview had been turned upside down. How could he ever talk to her about mundane things again? At the same time, how could he ever talk to her about this? As far as David was concerned, he wanted her to forget it ever happened. Maybe with time she would, but until then, how was he supposed to interact with her? And the truth was, he wanted to talk to Victoria about it. Needed to talk to her about it, because she was the only one he could talk to about it. But now just wasn’t the time. Maybe one day. But not yet.
Then, as the sky darkened around him, he thought maybe Victoria shouldn’t forget about it. If this was the world they lived in, maybe remembering would be best. In fact, maybe telling Alison and Jessi would be a good idea, too. How could he let the people he loved most go about their lives without knowing the full truth? After all, if the Bewlays, men he had known almost his entire life, why not Parker Newsome? Why not Richard Moore? David had no idea what was waiting for him outside this car, and if he didn’t tell his wife and daughters, and something happened to them, he would be just as much to blame, wouldn’t he?
But they won’t believe you, he thought.
I’ll show them, he decided. Donnie’s body was still back there.
SHIT, he thought, slamming on the brakes and skidding on gravel.
The body is still back there. In his panic, David had left Donnie Bewlay’s half transformed body lying in the dirt. Surely the police would return to the scene, right?
Not tonight, he told himself. Probably early tomorrow. Go inside--he’d made it all the way to his driveway before his realization--make sure everyone’s okay. Go back later and fix it, you can’t just turn around now and go back; Jessi’s probably already seen you out the window.
He pulled up to the house and got out, locked the car, then went inside, immediately wishing he hadn’t.
“That’s not fair!” Victoria.
“Do what I said.” Jessi.
“But it’s not fair!” Victoria.
Christ, David thought. Werewolves at the door and still nothing changes.
He went upstairs where he found Jessi standing in Victoria’s bedroom doorway while his daughter sat on her bed. Victoria’s face was red. When she saw him, he caught a glimmer of hope in her eyes, and she said, “Dad, tell mom it’s not fair that I have to be grounded for helping you.”
David looked at Victoria, then at Jessi, and asked, “What’s going on?”
“Your daughter thinks she gets off scott-free after knocking me out. You tell her that’s not how the world works and she’s lucky to be getting off with just being grounded.”
Good God, David thought. Really?
His initial reaction was to tell Jessi that, if not for Victoria, he would be dead, if not all of them. But David had had years of practice at this and had gotten to the point where he could play out the variations an argument might take depending on how he replied. Those instincts told him that, in this case, he and Jessi needed to hold a united front. Not that he believed she was right this time, but that had been their stance in most things involving the girls. Alison and Victoria had to know they would never be able to play one parent against the other.
So, as much as he hated it, David had to agree with Jessi. When his wife threw up her hands and said, “See?”, then turned around and walked downstairs, saying, “Dinner’s ready. Everyone let’s eat.”
David waved Victoria to come on, then held out his arm for her to come into a hug. He kissed the top of her head and said, “Still, kid, you did good. Dangerous, but thank you.” In the hall, he called out, “Dinner, Alison. Let’s go.”
Alison’s bedroom door opened and his younger daughter appeared and they all three went down to eat.
Jessi had made spaghetti, a quick and effortless meal that would fill them up but not take too much thought. He thought it might be a while before the Reeds saw any meals more complicated than this one. He also saw a lot of take out orders and frozen pizzas in their future. But that was fine with him. He ate as much as he could force into his mouth, which turned out not to be that much at all. He was still distracted by Donnie’s attack and death, and the fact he had left him lying there in the yard. Thank God the Bewlays had lived in the middle of nowhere, even for Green Lake. But still, he had to get back there fast.
He ate what he considered to be a respectable amount, then pushed himself back from the table and said, “That was delicious, as always. I’m stuffed.”
Jessi looked at David’s half empty plate and frowned. He knew what she was thinking, that she’d seen him put away two plates of the stuff in a sitting.
“I know,” he said. “Just not as hungry as I wish I was. Sorry, babe.”
Jessi shrugged, then shook her head and leaned back in her chair. None of them were hungry, it seemed. The girls had barely touched their plates, either.
“Can you clean up?” Jessi asked. “I think I’m gonna go take a long bath.”
David nodded and watched Jessi disappear up the stairs. He scraped the plates and dumped the leftover down the garbage disposal, then went out into the living room and listened to the silence. The window where Mick had broken into the house had been covered with a sheet of plastic, and it rattled in the wind, but other than that, there was nothing.
The girls were upstairs, Jessi was upstairs.
He needed to get out of the house, but he didn’t think he’d have time to do what needed done before Jessi was finished with her bath. He went up to Victoria’s room and knocked on the door. When she asked, “What?” David opened the door and leaned in. “I’m gonna run to the hardware store, that plastic on the window is tearing free from the wind. If you’re mother gets out before I get back, let her know, okay?”
Without looking at him, Victoria shrugged.
Man, she’s really pissed, David thought.
But Jessi wasn’t entirely wrong, and he’d have to make his daughter see that. Later. First, though …
He grabbed his keys and wallet, then gave the plastic a good tug in the corner to loosen it up around the staples. He’d have to make sure he bought a new roll of plastic before he came home, an expensive, top quality roll.
Before he left, he went out to the garage and grabbed a shovel, then went back in through the house with it, out the front door, and tossed it into the back seat.
* * *
Back at the Bewlay trailer, David looked at the disfigured remains of Donnie. Whatever monster he had left lying here was gone and now it was just Donnie Bewlay, bloody and twisted on the ground.
“Fuck, man,” David said. “Don, what the fuck did you two get into? And why in the holy hell did it make you come after me? I think that’s the part I’m having the hardest time with right now. Werewolves or whatever, you guys came after me, man. I was your best friend. What the hell?”
He shook his head and grabbed Donnie’s body by the ankles, then dragged him into the woods. David hauled him deep into the trees and stopped when he found a flat spot big enough to hold a body. He dropped the corpse and went back out for the shovel, then returned to the body, fearing for a brief moment that it was a ruse and Donnie had been waiting for David to leave before transforming again and mauling him to death. But when he got back, everything was at he’d left it.
He went to work immediately, digging with all the power he had, trying to get this done and get out of here before he was caught.
It wasn’t going to be a deep grave, but he didn’t want to make it too shallow, either. Who knew what was living in these woods that might try to dig him up?
The work tore at his back and his legs felt they were going to give out thirty minutes in. His arms turned to rubber after forty-five minutes. Then his stomach began to cramp. God, the movies made this look so much easier.
It was getting late, he could feel it. He needed to get home before Jessi started to worry or wonder. He might just have to lie about the plastic, say he couldn’t find what he was looking for. Maybe even a second trip, to Wal-Mart, thinking he might get lucky there. But there was no way he was going to have time to actually go and find plastic this late.
When he’d finally managed to make a hole big enough for Donnie’s body, and deep enough he wouldn’t be dug up with any great ease, David rolled his friend’s corpse into the hole, and went about the work of covering him up again.
A check of the time once he was done told him he’d been gone for two hours. He was surprised Jessi hadn’t called. With any luck, she’d gone to bed right after her bath. She might not even realize he’d left the house.
He took a last look at his work and determined it was as good as it was going to get, then he trudged back to the house.
The police had locked the place up, but David knew which windows to go through, and he broke into the trailer and spent a few minutes drinking glass after glass of water and trying to catch his breath.
Other than the exertion, he felt uncomfortably calm. It’ll catch up, though, he thought. Freak-out commencing in …
He set the empty glass in the sink, then thought otherwise and wiped it clean, then put it back in the cabinet.
This would be the last time, he realized. After tonight, he’d never set foot in this trailer again. The thought caught him by surprise and, despite everything from the last few days, David found himself getting emotional over the idea. The place was a dump and the Bewlays lived like savages sometimes, but they had always been his savages. He was going to miss them.
He was going to miss hot summer nights with cold beers out on the deck. He was going to miss their paranoid rants about the government. He was going to miss having someone to talk to who knew him as well as they did. After so many decades together, complete sentences were rarely needed in conversation, and no one got his inside jokes like the Bewlays, because they had been there.
He took a last stroll through the place, trying to gather up all the memories he could from it. How many action movies had they watched in this living room? How many fish had Mick fried up in this kitchen? How many times had David puked in this bathroom?
He wondered … David opened the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Yep, there they were, the fabled Bewlay collection of spank mags. The stack had grown since the last time he’d seen it.
He pulled a few off the top of the stack, looking at the titles, wondering just what kind of filth the brothers had been into. Down on the Farm? Yuck, he thought. Dickin’ Jane? Clever. Barely Legal? That had to be Donnie’s. He also found a few tattoo magazines in the mix, and one copy of Better Homes and Gardens.
David smiled, and slid the magazines back into place under the sink. That’s when he felt something behind them. The magazines hit it. Whatever it was, it rattled slightly from the knock, but didn’t really move. He got down on his knees and looked. They’d put something back there. Were they hiding it?
What could it be? He pulled the magazines out, set the pile aside, and shone the flashlight on his phone into the shadows.
A box. Wooden, maybe a foot square. The side facing him was etched in some design he didn’t recognize.
What was this doing here?
No, shit, he thought, Donnie had said something about a box. Mick had found it and brought it home, and Donnie said they started having dreams after that. Then Mick said they needed to dig the hole under the trailer.
Was this the box? It had to be, right? Why else would it be back here, hidden?
David reached in to pull it out, then just as quickly yanked his hand back before he touched it. If this thing, whatever it was, had been what changed the Bewlays, he didn’t want it doing the same thing to him.
He went into the kitchen and found a garbage bag, then managed to wrap it around the box and pull it out without actually touching it.
He took it to the kitchen where he set it on the table, then turned on the light. He unwrapped the garbage bag from around it, exposing the box, then used his phone and took several pictures of it. He wanted to try to figure out what it was, but he sure as hell wasn’t bringing it home with him.
He couldn’t leave it here, either, though. The cops might find it, and God knew what would happen then. That is if this was the thing that made the Bewlays … what they were.
He still couldn’t quite get the word out right.
He put his phone back in his pocket, then wrapped the box up in the garbage bag again and took it out into the woods. He went in the opposite direction from where he’d buried Donnie, found a spot he would recognize if and when he came back, then buried the box, bag and all.
Christ, he’d been gone too long. He carried the shovel back to the car, then drove home, checking his rearview over and over to make sure Donnie wasn’t following him. The downstairs lights were on, but after leaning the shovel against the side of the house and going inside, he saw the living room and kitchen were empty. He went into the first floor bathroom and took a quick shower, then grabbed a pair of pajama bottoms and a T-shirt from the pile of dirty laundry, then got another drink of water and went upstairs.
He knocked on Alison’s door and she said, “Come in.”
He poked his head in and said, “How you doing?”
She shrugged again and David went into her room.
“You can talk to me, you know. Are you scared to go to sleep?”
She shrugged again and said, “I don’t know. You said he was gone.”
“He is,” David said. “Like super gone. I’m sorry I ever brought him around you guys in the first place.”
Since Jessi and Alison hadn’t seen the monster Mick had become, he felt it was probably easier to just let her believe he’d snapped and come after David for whatever reason. Even though he’d been thinking he needed to tell them for their own safety, he wasn’t ready yet to give her all the impossible details.
“I just don’t think I’m tired yet is all,” Alison said. David nodded, then kissed and hugged her and said, “You let me know if you need anything, babe.”
He left, then went to Victoria’s room.
She was sitting up in her bed with her legs drawn in, resting her head on her knees.
“What’s up?” David asked.
“It’s not fair,” Victoria said.
“Why I have to be in trouble,” she said. “I saved you, and her, and Alison. But I still get grounded!”
“You’re right,” he said. “It’s not fair at all. It’s not fair that you had to see something like that. It’s not fair that any of it happened at all. But it did and we have to deal with it. Look, what you did, you saved me, and them. I know it, you know it. But at the same time, it was very dangerous and you could have been killed. Hell, you could have been slaughtered. And I love you too much to ever think something like that could happen to you or your sister. I’m glad we’re all okay now, but, Victoria, don’t ever put yourself in that kind of danger again. Do you hear me?”
She gave a half-hearted nod. She wouldn’t look at him.
“Your mother isn’t punishing you because you did something wrong, she’s just trying to keep you safe by showing you the consequences of your actions.”
“How is that different?”
David thought about it for a second, then said, “Well, it made sense in my head. Don’t worry about it. Point is, she loves you. That’s why she grounded you. You scared her. She needs to reassert some notion of control. When you have kids, you’ll see.”
“Never happening,” she said.
“You say that now,” David said. “One of these days, though. Maybe.”
“No,” Victoria insisted. “I’m not saying I’ll never have kids, but I will say right now, without a doubt, that kids will never come from my body. If my wife wants to have them, she’s welcome to it.”
David almost missed the word, but then it lodged in his brain and hung there.
Huh, he thought. Okay, he could deal with that.
“Wife, huh? So that’s a thing now, is it?”
“Well, I support it.”
“You say that because you don’t want boys anywhere near me.”
“And I stand by that. When did you come to this conclusion?”
She shrugged again.
“I assume since she hasn’t said anything that you haven’t told your mother?”
She shook her head.
“Okay,” David said. “I’ll let you do it, just know the longer I know and she doesn’t, the worse things will be when she does find out.”
“I know,” Victoria said. “I’ll let you tell her.”
“So you got a girlfriend?”
She shook her head.
“Because I don’t.”
It was David’s turn to shrug.
“Okay, well, again, this isn’t about you being in trouble for doing something wrong. It’s for doing something dangerous and because your mother doesn’t like feeling like the helpless one. She needs to regain control. Besides, there are worse things than you being confined to your room for a couple weeks. God knows the world isn’t what we thought it was a month ago.”
“You still should have stood up for me.”
“I haven’t even decided if I want to tell your mother and sister what really happened. I need to think about that one. First, though, I need some sleep. Are you going to be okay alone?”
“Alison I’m not so sure about. If you want to, I think she wouldn’t mind if you slept in her room, or let her sleep in here.”
“I’ll think about it.” He knew she probably wouldn’t.
He kissed her goodnight, then went to his own room and got into bed next to his wife.
She was groggy, only half-awake, but she managed to ask, “Get it?”
“Huh?” he asked. “Get what?”
Right, he remembered.
“No,” he said. “Hardware store didn’t have what I was looking for, so I went by Wal-Mart. They didn’t either, though. Also, I think Victoria just came out to me.”
“What?” she asked, a little more awake.
“And nothing,” David said. “She said it was unfair she had to be grounded and I said when she has kids she’ll understand and she said she’s not having kids, but her wife can have them if she wants.”
“Well. That’s that, then.”
“Yep,” David said.
He lay awake for a while, trying to clear his head, and knowing very well it wasn’t going to happen. Finally, he broke the silence by saying, “I can’t believe the Bewlays are dead.”
He thought she’d fallen asleep, but eventually she answered with, “I guess you just never really know someone, do you?”
“Guess not,” he agreed. “I was thinking, maybe so we can help the girls get through this, what if we went as a family and talked to someone?”
“That’s a good idea,” Jessi said. “Good thinking.”
Yeah well, David thought, I’m not a complete moron, you know. But he didn’t say this out loud.
End of Chapter One.
My HOPE is to have this book posted in installments here on a regular basis, but what that regular basis will be, I just don't know yet. I'm hoping for weekly at worst, every few days at best, but it's really going to depend on how quickly I can get the rest of it written. This first chapter was a lot longer than I'd anticipated, but I do think the rest of the chapters will come much quicker now that the beginning is done.
Of course, if you want to keep up to date on ALL my works, including this one, subscribe to my newsletter. It's free. --CDM.
When the Federation's most terrifying enemy strikes an unholy alliance with one of the Doctor's most hated antagonists, the result is devastation on a cosmic scale! Spanning the ends of space and time itself, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves joining forces with the Doctor and his companions, with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance!
The same day my Marvel box came, my daughter's new SketchBox showed up, too. Here's what she got:
"This month is all about liquid acrylic! A truly unique medium that offers almost limitless flexibility. We included Daler Rowney's FW Pearlescent liquid acrylic. These free flowing liquid acrylics are water soluble when wet but dry to a water resistant film. The shimmering pearl effect created by the pigment is startling. They are permanent and translucent, but work best when put down freely rather than applying successive layers of colors. Your box this month also includes a 5 pack of Princeton Real Value Brushes. This Princeston Synthetic Hair White Taklon Set contains five brushes: Round 1, Roung 6, Bright 6, Filbert 8, Flat 12. This broad range of brush types will truly allow you to make the most of your new liquid acrylic. Finally we included a Pentel Color Brush to outline your work or add unique details. This brush pen contains water based ink which flows easily, dries quickly, and produces transparent watercolor effects."
And the inspiration piece this month came from Josie:
"My name is Josie and I'm a young artist and product design student from the beautiful capital of Germany. I love drawing since I was able to hold a pen and creating what comes to mind, rather than following just one art style. Drawing is kind of a therapy for me to overcome daily life and connect with other people. Art is what keeps me motivated -- As Pablo Picasso once said: 'The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off your soul!'"