Jeff was happy to see me, and seemed thrilled to have me in his bed for the remainder of the night. (I made no mention of what had inspired the late night visit.) I stretched out, for hours, beside the cold realization I made only days before, about how comfortable I’d become with manipulating Jeff. Manipulation, for me, was better done over the phone, or from behind a cup of coffee while seated in a crowded café. If only for that moment, I felt every inch the schmuck I'd become. And I deserved it. Jeff was a good guy, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give a s#*t about him.
I had already slept through the majority of the previous day, so I was wide awake while Jeff, ever-so-slightly, snored away. When I was reasonably certain he wasn’t going to wake-up, I decided to enhance my self-loathing by sneaking into his study, to see if there were any materials concerning the Bowers family that I could get my hands on.
I didn’t find anything by way of crime scene photos or objects in sealed-up evidence bags, but I did find a small notebook wherein Jeff apparently scratched down some of his case notes. When I brought my eyes to the bottom of the page, I found a relevant scrap of info. Apparently, the Bowers owned a bit of land, and even had a small trailer placed on it. And from the remaining notes, I gathered that the police weren’t all too interested in the site, as it had been thoroughly looked over and nothing important was turned up. Somehow, I knew that this was the clue I’d been searching for. And to make me feel all the worse for my snooping, “Tell Veeve” was written in the margin next to the note.
The following morning, I had to wait for Jeff to remember to tell me about the plot of land, as his notes weren’t at all clear as to where it was. But after some well-placed questions about the Bowers, Jeff finally remembered. It turned out that the land was located pretty deep in the woods, which, according to my running hypothesis, made perfect sense for a family of serial killers. So after some tedious small talk and a ham-handed segue into my reasons for having to leave, I was on my way to do some research.
When I got back to my house, the TV was still on, and the VCR had automatically rewound the tape from Hell. (The only good thing to come from my mad dash was that I didn’t get to watch the rest of that damned video). The wet spot on the couch had dried, and I was fairly confident that the spot had been the site of an unremembered bit of spillage, probably from shaky hands and an overfilled cup of whatever. Still, I moved through my own house as if it contained monsters, or, more specifically, a dead dog stuffed with an equally dead nuclear, serial-killing family. But once all the curtains were opened, and I had some up-beat music playing, all seemed well again. So, eventually, I settled back into my practiced routine of hitting-up the internet for some dirt to scoop.
After only an hour, or so, I discovered that the area surrounding the Bowers’ trailer was well-known to encompass quite a few caves—the perfect place for deranged killers to do their thing. I wanted desperately to make my way out to the woods as soon as I was done researching, but I was cutting into my sleep rotation; so, with my bedroom curtains opened full-blast, allowing in as much of the sunlight as was possible, I tried to sleep. Big mistake.
It was night, and I was still in my bed. I could hear and feel the soft breath of a slight breeze blowing through the open window at the foot of my bed. The pleasant sound was soon joined by the quiet commotion of tree branches, packed thick with leaves, coming together in the gentle wind. Then, from just outside my window, I heard the sound of naked feet strolling along atop a hard surface. I sat up and peered out into the street, to see who belonged to the footfalls. It was her, of course, covered in blood, and naked as the day is long. And she was walking her dog—yes, that dog—down the street. The tapping of the monstrous thing’s claws as they struck against the sidewalk soon overtook the sound of bloody feet. I pulled my gaze back into my room and made for the back door of my house, hoping to flee into the night. But as dreams would have it, the air around me was thick as molasses, and slowed my movements to nearly a crawl. As I struggled to make it into the hallway, I heard my front door open, and both sets of footsteps echoed into the hollows of my house. Then I heard that slick voice of hers, call out, “Go get her, boy!”
The tapping of claws was getting louder, as apparently the beast’s movement wasn’t as screwed-up as my own. I didn’t want to see the creature full on, so I allowed myself to fall face-first onto the floor. Suddenly I could feel the hot, wet breath of six mouths falling across my neck, and the smell of long-dead things quickly filled up my nostrils. Then came the sounds of something moist and rotten. It sounded like one of the tenets of the dead dog was struggling against its roommates, to push itself out far enough from the dog’s broken jaws to get as close to me as its accommodations would allow. I could also hear the splatter of unseen fluids falling to the floor, as something unspeakable got closer and closer to my head. Finally, I could feel the thing’s mouth opening and closing against my head, gasping for air. And, at some point, my hair must have gotten caught in the thing’s mouth, as every time its jaw moved, some of my hair got tugged.
Then the thing said, “Pear tree… Fruit all over the ground…It’s…there.” The thing spewed-out its last word, and I could feel some kind of sickening liquid running down my head. The smell was nauseating. The witch came next, on naked, bloody feet, smiling that smile of hers, I presumed. I was grateful not to see her eyes.
Her lips were at my ear when she whispered, “And at the end of this journey, a glorious wisdom from the outside, which never strays from the uncertain path, and whose traces, once revealed, must vanish with the night. You will know evil things, Genevieve…” Her grip was like iron as she wrapped her fingers around my face and pulled me before her gaze. Her eyes were like open graves, just waiting to be filled with death. Then, when she saw I was filled to the rim with terror, she finished her sentence, hissing, “And you will be glad of it.”
When I woke up it was already night, and there was a hideous smell filling my room. It was the smell of dead things that had been stuffed inside of another dead thing. I retched all over my sheets, from fear as much as from disgust.
And from somewhere just beyond my window, tapping its claws against the patio stones as it made for the thickets beyond my house, was something…dead.
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