Sunday, June 16, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: First Interlude (UNEDITED)

Topping off Father's Day with the First Interlude that is all about Matthew Blake and learning more of his history.

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-PART 2: Chapter 21 before proceeding to PART 2: FIRST INTERLUDE.
Otherwise, read from the word go :)


“I set mine eyes upon the child, though he made ne’er an effort to look up to me.  I found it nearly impossible to contain my curiosity as it is not every night one discovers a child wandering a wooded dirt road alone…to this day I question not only mine own sanity, but the sanity of those who also claim to have seen him…Strange, is it not?  I too have laid eyes upon this creature, yet I dare question the lucidity of others…”~ L.H. Livingston, The Child with the Black Eyes 

Matthew was what one may call a stress smoker.  It was not something he had regularly done since the age of 23 or 24 as he had quit shortly after Dorothy was born.  But there have been a few times in his life that had brought on stress that he would roll up the occasional cigarette.  One particular time was when the stock market crashed in 1929 followed by the Depression hitting that following year.  The company Matthew worked for was in danger of going under and like, many during those two years, Matthew’s job and income was in jeopardy. 
The Blakes were what many would call “well-off” as most residents of Plains were and the small town’s economy managed to stay afloat, at least enough for the residents to feel a small sense of security.  But those, like Matthew, whose job was in the city had their livelihoods and their families threatened, though they hid their fears from their peers.  Livingston Publishing intervened and merged with the company Matthew worked for and both companies managed to stay above water.  Matthew sat on the top step of his porch and blew out the smoke from his rolled cigarette and chuckled to himself as he thought back to the ordeal.  He knew that there had been a time when his family had been close to the Livingstons and that if it hadn’t been for James Livingston taking a chance and giving his great grandfather Charles Blake a job at his publishing firm, Matthew couldn’t help wondering just how different the story of Charles and Emma Blake and their two little boys, Jonathan and Brendan would have turned out. 
Would my grandparents have even met?  Would Jonathan even have lived to be the age he was when he met Kimimela?  Would I, Ronald, Abby, and Joe even be here?  Dorothy wouldn’t have been born…
Hiring Irish immigrants was not a very popular practice at the time and Matthew had been told that James Livingston had received criticism from his peers for taking a chance on Charles.  Matthew would never know what exactly had made James hire Charles when the poor Irishman had entered the wealthy business man’s office begging for a job.  But Matthew was grateful that he had.  And perhaps it was self-centered for Matthew to think so, but he couldn’t help imagining that maybe the merging of his company of employment with Livingston Publishing was James reaching out from beyond the grave to once again, give the Blakes the push they needed.
Matthew sat staring up into the black sky, bringing the cigarette to his lips and inhaling.  He was able to get some really good tobacco off of Howard Parker.
Matthew exhaled the smoke and snorted.  God, I felt like I when I was a kid and bumming cigs off of Ronald or one of my buddies other teenaged brothers.
Matthew had begun his smoking habit at the age of ten, almost eleven, when his childhood friend, Dex, had brought a rolled cigarette he had bummed from his older brother.  The boys had stood down by the railroad tracks, passing the rolled tobacco around, inhaling and coughing.  And inhaling and coughing, again and again until they began to get the hang of taking the tobacco substances into their lungs.  Soon, it became a regular habit for them whenever they would be hanging out together.  At the time, Matthew’s brother, Ronald, was fifteen and also had a way of getting them, so he would often share with Matthew. 
As Matthew watched the smoke from the end of his cigarette curling into the air, his mind wandered back to the days of him and his friends as boys, walking along the railroad tracks after the turn of the 20th century, smoking their rolled cigarettes and acting as though they were as bad as Jesse James or other known outlaws in the stories they had heard.  This was before motion picture houses were common place.  Matthew remembered seeing his first motion picture at age eleven when he and his friends had gone to a traveling carnival and the amazement at seeing a story come to life on a screen.  The motion picture was considered a novelty during his childhood and kids had to really use their imaginations as a way of entertaining themselves. 
From the age of ten up until he was nearly twenty-four, Matthew had been a regular smoker.  There were times when he was a heavier smoker and that was when Liz’s first two pregnancies ended in miscarriages, the second one being life-threatening.  Matthew remembered waiting in the parlor as the doctors worked on Liz and the fear he felt at the thought of losing her.  A year later, Liz became pregnant with Dorothy and Matthew’s stress over that pregnancy caused him to, once again, be a heavy chain smoker as he worried about everything that could go wrong.  When Liz had successfully given birth to a healthy baby girl, Matthew’s relief and gratitude was overwhelming, so much that he decided to not allow the cigarettes to consume his life the way they had been.  He now had beautiful little girl to do that and until the stock market crashed two years ago, Matthew hadn’t picked up a cigarette since. 
And here I am again.  Back to square one, Matthew thought as he studied the rolled up piece of paper with tobacco stuffed into it.  His house was quiet and everyone was asleep.  In fact, the whole town was quiet with many of the houses dark and the streetlamps lighting the way for the occasional late night walker or driver.
Tahatan had been with Matthew out on the porch two hours ago before retreating in for the night.  They had, of course, been talking about the incident with Dorothy up at the Fleming property.  The police investigators had so far turned up no leads onto who could have been Dorothy’s assailant and Dorothy could hardly bring herself to speak of the ordeal.  The detectives chalked Dorothy’s hesitance up to the effects of experiencing trauma, but Matthew knew his daughter and could see that she was holding something back even if the detectives were unable to see it.  While Matthew also hated to admit it, he wasn’t surprised that there weren’t any leads in Dorothy’s abduction and neither was Tahatan.
Matthew let out a sigh and shuddered.  Tahatan was still intent on visiting the Fleming property before he left.
“Just please don’t go at night,” Matthew had implored his cousin.
But Tahatan had looked at him rather gravely and said, “I may have to.  I get the feeling that’s when the activity is the strongest up there.  I’ll likely need to go in the daylight, too.  It’s the only way I can understand what is happening.  Of course, I have a lot of protection that I will take with me.  I can sense the activity up there is strong.  Even now as I sit here with you.”
Matthew had sighed and said, Well then, at least let me come in case you need a getaway car.”
Chills rose on Matthew’s forearms when he recalled Tahatan’s final words to him before retreating in for the night.  “I feel that there was been a veil thinned or even ripped.  Things that should not be entering our world are entering.  While this has happened before, it’s different this time.  That’s all I can say now and what it has to do with Dorothy, I don’t know yet.”
“Yes, it has happened before…” Matthew said aloud.  He knew this to be true as it was the only way of explaining what happened to him, what he had seen as a boy.  Oddly enough, it had occurred shortly after Matthew had begun his smoking habit.  He had taken one of the rolled cigarettes he had gotten from Ronald and went out to his family’s barn.  He forgot what excuse he had given his mother for going out.
But all I wanted was a smoke, Matthew thought wryly to himself.
It had been a cloudy night in June of 1901.  The moon was out, but would occasionally be covered by the clouds.  As a boy, Matthew would imagine the clouds being ghosts that had risen from their graves and floated about the night sky.  He remembered going out with his lantern in one hand and in his pocket, a rolled cigarette and a few matches.  Matthew had reached the barn, lifting the latch and slipping inside.  For the most part, the animals were asleep but he could hear the occasional rustle of one of the horses moving in their stalls.  He made his way over to the ladder that led up to the loft.  Matthew was able to climb the ladder using one hand.  When he reached the upper part of the barn, he found a corner where there wasn’t any hay around to possibly catch fire.  It was right by the window where Matthew also had a view of the moon.  He set his lantern down before sitting and making himself comfortable.  Matthew retrieved the cigarette and matches from his pocket, thrilled with his new “grown up” habit.  He had put the cigarette to his lips, lit the match, and brought it to the front end of the tobacco stick.  That was when the flame flickered out.  Matthew frowned, studying the unlit cigarette and looking out to the open window.  There hadn’t been a draft, so how had the flame gone out.  Young Matthew shrugged and struck another match, bringing the cigarette to his lips, ready to take the first inhale.  But the flame flickered out, once again.  He then tried a third time, to no avail.
“God dammit!” Matthew had cursed aloud.  He sighed and tried a fourth time to light his cigarette, but he would barely have gotten the match ready to strike when he would hear laughter.  Laughter coming from somewhere in the barn.  Somewhere close to where Matthew sat.  The laughter sounded like that of a child, someone Matthew’s age. 

“Hello…” Matthew called out.  “Who’s there?”
Whoever was there responded by laughing again, this time sounding as though it were right behind him.  Matthew spun around to find nobody there.  He could feel his heart pounding as the hair on his arms began to rise.
“Dex?” he called.  “Dex, is that you?”
Matthew gasped, spinning back around as he heard the pattering of footsteps running to the other end of the loft.
“Dex, come on,” Matthew called.  “Stop it.  It isn’t funny.”
But something told Matthew that it wasn’t Dex playing a trick.  It was also then that he could hear the animals below awaking and becoming restless.
Taking in a deep breath, Matthew tried to keep his hands from shaking as he carried his lantern around to the otherside of the loft where he heard the footsteps go.  His father, Gerard Blake, used this end of the loft for storage of equipment and things that didn’t get a whole lot of use.  It served as a second attic of sorts for the family.  Matthew stood, shining his lantern at the trunks that held the items stored.  He took a cautious step forward, and when he did, someone (or something) jumped up from behind one of the trunks.  Matthew yelped and stumbled backward, nearly dropping the lantern but managed to hold onto it.  He held the lantern up to see what it was that that had leapt up from behind the trunk as the animals became more restless below them.  Staring back at him was a boy about his age, maybe a year or two older.  He had dark hair, almost the same color as Matthew’s.  He was wearing a dark suit, something one might wear to a funeral or wake.  The boy wasn’t anyone Matthew recognized.
Matthew held the lantern up to get a better look at the boys face and stifled a scream when he saw that the boy’s eyes.  The boy had black eyes that glistened in the dim light of the lantern.  As Matthew stood frozen at the site, watching as a grin spread slowly across the boy’s face.
“Gotcha!” the boy said and then laughed.
Matthew gasped and the boy laughed again before taking off running to another end of the barn’s loft.  Without thinking, Matthew took off after him, still holding his lantern in one hand and gripping his cigarette in the other.  He could feel the sweat from his palms sliding against the lantern’s handle and soaking into the cigarette paper.
‘So much for my smoke,’ Matthew thought as he chased the boy to a dark corner of the loft.  It struck him as a little odd that he would think such a thing at that moment. 
Matthew planned to tackle the boy to the ground once he cornered him.  He ignored the sounds of the animals in their stalls were making more noise than ever before.
‘I got you now,’ Matthew thought as the boy ran into the shadows of the haystacks at the corner of the loft.  Matthew had a plan to leap over one of the lower stacks and tackle the boy.  But he was stopped at the sound of a low growling and the animals below seemed to simultaneously cease their noise. 
“I’m just hearing things,” Matthew whispered to himself, but his heart was starting to pound in his ears.  He took a step forward and heard the growling again.  The silence in the barn at that moment was almost deafening as the growling grew louder.  Matthew’s knees shook as he saw a dark shape peer it’s head up from behind the hay.  It’s eyes glowed like that of a precious stone as it stared directly into Matthew. 
Matthew watched in terror as it rose up further to reveal a snout teeming with rows of razor sharp teeth.  It growled again, letting out an unearthly sound as it’s saliva dripped from down from it’s mouth.  It was then that Matthew noticed the creature’s pointed ears, almost like that of the Blakes’ German Shepard but almost as though they were sharpened into points or horns.  It rose up further, revealing a large body of dark fur til it was standing on all fours.  It began crawling over the hay over to where Matthew stood.  Matthew opened his mouth to scream, but his voice seemed lost somewhere in the back of his throat.  He could smell the rancid breath of the creature from where he stood and he could make out decaying flesh on it’s sharp fangs.  It’s fur coating seemed almost matted down to it’s large, muscular form. 
It stood a few feet away from Matthew, looking the boy over.  Matthew imagined the creature was making the decision of which part to eat first.  Matthew remembered his father, and avid hunter, telling him to not make any sudden movements if he were to ever find himself in the presence of a wild animal.  Matthew kept his eyes on the creature.  He didn’t know what kind of an animal it was.  It was something he had never seen before, but he knew that he had to remain calm if he was going to get out of this.
Matthew shifted his eyes over to find the nearest ladder at the other end of the loft.  Keeping his eye on the creature, he took a small step back.  The creature responded by taking a step forward.  Matthew inhaled and took another step back.  The creature took another step forward.  It was then that Matthew saw that this was no ordinary animal.  It seemed to have the cunningness of a human and Matthew could see that it seemed to know what it was doing, that it was taunting him.  He could hear some of the animals, stirring up again in the stalls as the creature’s grin widened, as though to confirm Matthew’s assessment correct.  At this point, he knew that his only hope for survival was to take a chance at making a run for it and that is just what he did.
As Matthew turned to run toward the ladder, he could hear the creature let out a deafening roar which was followed by an almost human maniacal laughter.  Matthew also remembered his father telling him that if he must run from a wild animal, to do so in a zigzag pattern.  He did and it seemed to thwart the creature enough for Matthew to make it to the ladder.
Matthew got to the ladder and began to climb down, looking back to see where the creature was.  His eyes widened as he watched the creature rise up onto it’s hind legs, standing upright.  Matthew moved down the first few steps of the ladder as fast as he could and ended up jumping down when he reached halfway and landed hard on his knees.  As he picked himself up, he could see the creature above him on the loft, peering down.  Matthew turned and ran toward the barn doors, looking back in time to see the creature take a flying leap down to the bottom level, landing expertly on it’s hind feet.  Matthew pumped his legs faster, reaching the door, feeling the creatures breath on his back as he ran into the night, finally letting out the scream that had been lodged inside of his throat.

Thirty years later, Matthew sat on the porch, reliving the memory as the hand that held his cigarette trembled as he brought it to his lips again.  After escaping from the barn, he had gone running to the house, screaming at his parents about the large monster in the barn.  Gerard had took one of his shotguns and headed out to investigate while Violet comforted her son.  At that moment, he was glad that his eldest brother, Joe, was married and out of the house, his sister Abby had gone for a walk with her fiancĂ© and Ronald was with some friends.  The last thing he had wanted was for any of his siblings or friends to see him in such a state. 
Gerard had returned to say that he searched the barn to no sign of such an animal.  He asked Matthew if he was sure he hadn’t been imagining things and that he better not be playing any tricks.  Matthew remembered shaking his head at his father to indicate that he was not seeing things and that he had not been playing a trick.  He remembered looking up at his father who had the black hair and reddish brown skintone of Kimimela’s side that contrasted the grayish-blue eyes inherited from Jonathan.  Violet scolded her husband, telling him that ‘can’t he see that the boy is obviously traumatized?’
Over the next week, Gerard had kept a watch out for the creature that Matthew had described, but it never returned and neither did the boy and for that, Matthew was relieved. 
At eighteen, Matthew had moved to Plains, NY to attend college.  It would also be the year he met Liz.  A faint smile crossed Matthew’s face everytime he thought of how he and Liz had been the same age that Jonathan and Kimimela had been when they met.  At the time Matthew had moved to Plains for school, he had been eager to leave the barn as far behind as possible.  He never would share it with anyone, but after that incident he had never been able to go into the barn alone after dark and actually managed to get away with doing so over the years.  But he would never escape the evil he had felt that night back in 1901.  When he had settled into his college dormroom, the view he had from the window was the distant hill on which the old Fleming orphanage stood abandoned and closed down.  At the time, he didn’t know why looking out the window to see it made him uneasy.  Until he began to have dreams of the place.  He would have nightmares of Jared Fleming hanging by his neck, bloody, and ripped open in the front hall of the fifth floor before he even knew the entire story.  He would see Maxine with her hair white and eyes blackened, like the boy he had seen in the barn.  Matthew’s skin would prickle as his dormmates who had lived in or around Plains for their entire lives would tell him the local folklore of the Fleming property.  About how Cedric and Margaret had met mysterious deaths, how Jared was found hanging in the front hall of the fifth floor living quarters, and how Maxine had gone insane.  They also told them of how Nathaniel Fleming had passed away as a young boy from scarlet fever. 
It had all been enough to pique Matthew’s curiosity and he went to the Plains Library to do research.  All the stories seemed to pan out, though it wasn’t officially reported at first that Jared’s body had also been ripped open.  That came much later in the years following James Livingston’s death and autopsy reports were leaked to the public.  Matthew had also read some of James’s journals and it seemed that James was also mystified by the events.  But it would be when Matthew would find copies of the paintings done of the Flemings that would shake him almost to begining to question his own sanity.  When Matthew had turned the page to see the portrait of Nathaniel Fleming, his heart nearly stopped beating in his chest and his blood ran cold.  Staring back at Matthew was the same boy he had seen in the barn before the creature attacked him.  While Nathaniel did not have black eyes in his portrait, everything else matched the description of the child who had snuck up on him the night he was trying to have a smoke away from his parents. 
Shortly after, Matthew had gone up to the property late one afternoon by himself to have a look around.  He didn’t know what exactly he was looking for and nor did he find anything at the time he had gone up.  But he did notice a difference in the air up at the property as opposed to in town. 
After he had gone to sleep that night, Matthew had been wrenched from his sleep for a reason he didn’t understand.  He had looked over at his clock that stood next to his wolf figurine.  There was enough of a glowing light from the other side of the room for him to see that it was after three in the morning.  Matthew remembered then being puzzeled at where the glowing light was coming from and then quickly noticed that he was not alone in the room.  Seated on the other end of the room at his desk was a man, or at least it appeared so.  The man had a powerful build and was dressed in lavish but dark colored clothing.  His eyes were like two black onyxes, like those of the boy he had seen, and he had rather sharp, pointed, facial hair and long, black hair pulled back.  But it was the severity of his angular face that caused Matthew to feel that whoever was seated in front of him wasn’t human.  What more was that curled at the man’s feet, as a dog would lay at the feet of it’s master, was the creature from the barn, staring at Matthew and hitting it’s tail against the floor, making a rhythmic thudding noise. 
Matthew remembered not being able to move any of his limbs and all he could do was stare as the man raised his gloved fist up, pointing up his index finger and moving it side to side as if he were chastising Matthew for some wrong doing.  It was then that Matthew thought he saw the creature at the foot of the man wink at him, but he wasn’t sure.  He had shut his eyes and reopened them again to find his dormroom dark with him being the only inhabitant. 

Matthew rose up from the porch steps, flicking the small cigarette butt onto the walkway before he would smash it out with his foot and looked down the road in the direction of the Fleming property.  He had felt that same presence when he and Carl had gone up in search of Dorothy, only stronger this time.  Whatever it was, it had returned.  But what did it want?  And why were they bothering Dorothy?  Matthew had not meant to snap at Carl the way he did when he and Liz were called home from the Halloween party.  But Matthew knew that property and the dark evil that resided there.  He remembered Tahatan’s words and his intention of going up to the Fleming property and made up his mind that he would go along whether Tahatan liked it or not. 
Matthew swallowed as he wondered what Dorothy had experienced.  He had seen the terror in his daughter’s eyes and it was a familiar terror.  Matthew had made up his mind that he would go to any length necessary of protecting his only child, even if it meant facing an entire pack of those creatures. 
Matthew turned to head back into the house when something caught the corner of his eye.  There was a movement underneath a lamppost about a block down.  Matthew turned to see a figure draped in shadow standing by the lamppost.  The figure was familiar, and Matthew squinted to get a better look.  The figure then quickly took off down the road.  Matthew began to run after him but stopped.  He knew who it was.  It was the groundskeeper from the cemetery.  Matthew intended to question him on why he had been lurking around and watching his house as soon as possible.
But first I need to fulfill financial obligations to my family and be able to get up for work tomorrow.
With one last look out to the street, Matthew climbed the porch steps and entered the safety of his house, closing the door behind him.

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