Sunday, October 27, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 43 (UNEDITED)

Here is all Chapter 43. 

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section or scroll to previous posts (in case I don't update the CHAPTERS section right away...as of now I do need to give that page love) to read the Prologue-Chapter 42 before proceeding to Chapter 43.

Also, check out some further character development in some excerpts from the second draft in the SAMPLES section. 

Otherwise, read from the word go :)



CHAPTER 43

Carl paused at the side of the road to catch his breath.  He wasn’t entirely sure of how far he had run and for the first time, he felt the cuts and blistering on the soles of his feet.  His lungs felt as though they were about ready to burst due to the cold temperature combined with his recent sprint.  He was running toward Stone Creek, that much he knew.  He also knew that he had run from something that could very much have threatened his life.
But I’m not in the clear yet, he knew.  He could still feel the looming danger though further away this time as he stood wondering where he was and how he could have possibly gotten there.  He last remembered being in his bedroom falling asleep and contemplating the Claddagh rings he was getting for him and Dorothy tomorrow.
So I’m dreaming?  That has to be it…
But his doubts were raised by how real his surroundings along with the pain on his feet and his shortness of breath felt.  The fact that he could see his breath as he exhaled and how parts of his body were beginning to go numb.
Carl stood, racking his brain as he tried to recall where he had heard the locastions of Stone Creek and Pinewoods.  He remembered Reginald and Gail mentioning them when they talked of colleges they wanted to attend.
Near Wilkes-Barre.
He jolted at the thought.  Near Wilkes-Barre…in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  That is where Stone Creek and Pinewoods are.
He glanced frantically around at his surroundings.  How the hell did I get here?  I have to be dreaming…
Before he could think any further, a clicking was heard off in the distance coming from the direction of Stone Creek.  Carl froze and listened, trying to place the sound.  It sounded like hooves.  Horse hooves clomping on the pavement.  They were accompanied by creaking.
Carl strained his eyes into the distance as the hooves and creaking seemed to get closer.  His nerves began sending off alarm signals that danger was present yet again.  He could see a large, shadowed object approaching.  He looked over the rail that was on the side of the road and saw that the hill still dipped down into a valley.  Ignoring the throbbing on the soles of his feet, he leapt over the rail and began carefully descending down the hill.  But curiosity got the better of him.  He stopped and turned around to see what it was that he was hearing.  He ducked behind a tree and watched as it approached.  Sure enough, the first thing he was able to make out was a large, dark horse pulling what looked to be a carriage with a driver sitting in front holding the reigns.  As the horse and carriage got closer, Carl could see that the carriage looked like some 19th century hearses he had seen Dorothy, Reginald, and Gail looking at when visiting the library.
Carl could feel his heart racing and the blood rushing in his head as he watched the horse pulled hearse pass the tree he hid behind before it came to a halt.  He held his breath as the creaking wheels silenced.  A beam of moonlight was cast upon the hearse’s driver and the horse.  Carl could see that the driver was a tall, thin man with a long, grim face.  The man wore a dark suit with a long coat and a hat that echoed the man’s tall, slim build.  Carl ducked further behind the tree as the man turned his head in a slow, mechanical fashion as if to survey the area.  The man’s head appeared to turn in a way that would have been to far for a normal human neck.  Carl was able to stop his reaction of shock from manifesting when he saw the man’s eyes, black and glistening in the moonlight.  He was able to remain quiet and still as he tried to will the man to continue down the road.  He didn’t know what was happening but he had an urgent feeling of not making any moves that would reveal his presence to the hearse driver.
After what seemed like an eternity, the man finally snapped the reigns on the horse and the hearse began making its way down the road, toward Pinewoods and away from where Carl was.  He let out a relieved breath and also took comfort in the fact that his feet were beginning to go numb.

When the hears was out of site and earshot, Carl made his way back down the hill, hearing running water coming from somewhere not far from him.  He hurried toward it, hoping that maybe it would lead to some form of civilization.  Maybe a shortcut to Stone Creek.
He came to the source of the water which was a running stream with a thick mist hazing over it.  Carl watched as the mist moved as though it had a life and mind of its own.  It weaved and swirled in and around itself.
He walked along side of the stream, not taking his eyes from the mist.  The more he stared at it, the more it seemed to follow him; the more it seemed to be creeping up the bank.  Carl tried to back away as the mist began to brush the bottom of his pants.  He picked up his pace and so did the mist.  He had broken into as much of a jog as the leaf-covered forest ground would allow him.  He felt trapped between whatever beings were on the road and the mist that relentlessly stalked him.  Before he could think of anything further, the mist rose up from the stream and like a title wave, ascended down and engulfed him.

~~~~~

A sharp pain sliced through Jimmy’s shoulder as the hooded man dropped him to the ground.  Jimmy rolled to his front, pulling himself back up and inspecting the wound on the top of his shoulder.  The man had broken the skin, creating a sliver of skin from which blood trickled out.
“I can make a far more fatal wound than that,” the cloaked man said.
Jimmy’s head shot up and stared at his companion who still held the dagger.  Beneath the shadow of the hood, he could make out a strong, pale jaw and thin mouth.  A crest of some kind was on the clasp of the cloak.  Jimmy thought about tearing the man’s hood off and strangling him with it.
“I wouldn’t attempt that if I were you,” the man said, startling Jimmy.  “Not if you value your life.”
Jimmy let out a sigh, attempting to calm himself.  He stared back at the hooded figure and said, “Please.  Just tell me where Linda is.  I just want to know that she’s alright.”
“Do not worry for her.  I assure you, she is alright.”
Jimmy was unsure of whether to believe the man.  But for that time being, there wasn’t much more that could be done besides the fact that he didn’t even know where he was.  All he could do in that moment was accept what the man was telling him and hope that it was not a lie.
“There is much you need to see,” the man said.
Jimmy narrowed his eyes.  “What do you mean?”
“You need to follow me.”
Jimmy looked back to the forest brush that stretched far beyond what he could see.
“The only way out from here is if you follow me.  And do as I say,” the man said with intent.
“Why should I?”  Jimmy asked.
“I see you have his stubborn streak,” the man chuckled.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Do you really know who you are?”
“Look!” Jimmy yelled.  “Cut out the games and tell me what’s going on!  When can I see Linda?!”
The man said nothing but beckoned for Jimmy to follow.  This time, the man paused and kept his gaze on Jimmy as he waited for the young man to follow.

They walked through the forest of black, twisted trees until they came to a shore at the edge of an ocean that reflected the giant red moon on the horizon.  Waiting for them at the waters was a boat fashioned to the appearance of a Viking ship.

~~~~~~

Gail sifted through the documents on the desk to ensure who the study belonged to and sure enough, the papers and monogrammed items confirmed it all to be the office of Cedric Fleming.  The small calendar on the desk indicated November of 1846.  Her heart began to race and she tried to steady her hands from shaking as she looked through the papers.  Most of them were standard business documents, a few with signatures from James Livingston and other officials from the area and seemed rather innocuous.  She looked up at the bookshelves and around the dim study.  She listened for any sign of another presence in the living quarters.  She tiptoed over the the study door and peered out into the hallway.  The hallway was dark as were the doorways of the other rooms.
Gail let out a relieved breath and returned to the desk.  On her way back, she noticed a paper-cutter in the shape of a sword on one of the end tables.  Without giving it a thought, she picked it up and placed it close to her when she got back to the desk.  Without getting too relaxed, she began sifting through the papers again.
She had gone through all the documents that were on the desk and in the drawers of the desk without finding anything out of the ordinary.  She toyed with the paper-cutter as she surveyed the room.  Her eyes fell upon a dark, square object that stuck out from behind one of the bookshelves.  Gail began moving toward it and stopped when she heard footsteps in the hall.  She froze, clutching the paper-cutter as the steps moved slowly toward the study.
Gail crept toward the study door and ducked down behind the arm of the couch.  She held her breath as the footsteps stopped in front of the door.  She crouched back against the wall as whoever was there entered the room.  She stared at the blade of the paper cutter and then quietly changed her stance, ready to fight whoever was in there.  In a fleeting moment, she remembered some of the science fiction stories she, Dorothy, and Reginald had read and wondered, what if she were to kill whoever was here with her?  Did she really have that in her?  What if it were Cedric Fleming or his wife?  How would that change things?  But if it were her life or his, she knew she would have to do what was needed to survive.
Gail could feel her fingers numbing as she held onto the paper cutter.  She could hear the footsteps coming around slowly to the side of the couch and prepared to jump out at whoever was coming toward her.  From her peripheral, she could see the shadow of the person in the room.  She prepared to jump up as the person turned the corner.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT?!” she screamed, jumping out with the paper-cutter.
“Hey!  Woah!” the person jumped backward.
Gail stopped and lowered the paper-cutter.  “Carl?”
The two friends stared at one another before Gail threw her arms around him.  “God!  I’m glad to see you!  What’s going on?  How did you get here?”
“I honestly couldn’t tell you…” Carl said, still rather shaken.  “But I am glad I’m not here by myself.”
Gail led Carl to the desk, explaining how she ended up there.  She listened as Carl told her about ending up near Stone Creek and Pinewoods.
“That’s in Pennsylvania near Wilkes-Barre,” Gail said.
“I know,” Carl said before he proceeded to tell her about the cloaked figures and running down the road.
“Yeah your feet look like they’ve seen better days,” Gail said looking at the combination of caking dirt and blood.
“I might just dare to visit that washroom down the hall,” Carl said.  “At least get a little cleaned up.”
“I’ll stand guard if you do,” Gail said.  “I am armed, after all.”  She indicated the paper-cutter.  She and Carl both broke into laughter.  When they calmed down, Gail said, “How did you end up here?”
Carl told her about seeing the hearse approaching him as he ducked into the woods and the driver with the black eyes.
“That seems to be a running theme,” Gail said.  “Black eyes.  Lawrence Livingston’s story was fiction, but in reading some of his other essays I get the feeling that The Child with the Black Eyes was inspired by more than just his imagination.”
Carl proceeded to tell her about finding the stream and the mist engulfing him.  “I ended up in the doorway to these living quarters and saw the light in here.”
“So you investigated instead of running out of here screaming,” Gail said.
Carl said nothing and looked sheepishly at her.
“Well, I’m glad you decided to investigate,” Gail said.
“Me too,” Carl said.  “At least we don’t have to try to find our way out alone.”
“I also may need an extra pair of eyes,” Gail said.  “I’ve been looking over these documents on Cedric’s desk and so far I’ve found nothing out of the ordinary, but look!”
Gail went over to behind the shelf and pulled a rather large lock-box out from behind it.
“What do you think is in it?” Carl asked.
“I don’t know.  But I could sure use your lock-picking skills to find out.”
Carl gave Gail a wry smile before taking the box and paper-cutter from her and going to work on the lock, taking care not to break it.
“You know how you said coming through James Livingston’s portrait brought you here?” Carl asked as he worked on the lock.
“Yeah.”
“Well, when I ended up here, I could almost swear I saw him out of the corner of my eye.  It was only for a second though.”
The lock on the box clicked.
“Jackpot,” Carl said.
Gail watched as he opened the box to reveal a pile of documents marked ‘classified.’  Carl and Gail looked at eachother, both remembering the possible findings of the Fleming property having some sort of underground labyrinth.  But if it did, where did it lead to?
Gail pulled out an envelope from the top of the pile that had been previously opened.
“Hey look!” she said when she opened it.  “It’s a layout of the property.”
The two of them perused over the documents.  “Say, what’s over here?” Carl asked, pointing at marking in the corner of a square that indicated the main building.
Gail squinted and leaned in to study it more closely.  “Hmm.  It’s cryptic, but as I look at it, this appears to be some kind of extension.”
“And look at this,” Carl said. “These lines here.  At a first glance they appear to be nothing more than indicators of the land.  But they extend out from that marking and from there, they seem to go right off the blueprint.”
Gail took out some of the other documents, carefully placing them so that she would return them in their correct order.
“Gail, would there be a reason some of these would be in a different language?”  Carl asked.
Gail shook her head.  “I don’t know.  But look at this.”  She held up an envelope that had The Blake Family scrolled on it.
Carl and Gail stared with unease at the thick envelope, both afraid to dare open it.  Finally, Gail did and in it, they found information on the Blake family who would have been alive in the year 1846 and living in the Colonies of America at that time.  There was detailed information on everyone from Charles and Emma down to their youngest child, Rachel.  There was information on the marriage of Jonathan and Kimimela as well as their infant firstborn son, Chaska.
“Why would Cedric Fleming have this?” Carl said, shaking his head bewildered.
Gail shrugged and then pulled up another marked James Livingston Family.  “So old Cedric was also keeping information on his dear friend and fraternity brother?”
Gail carefully opened it and sure enough, it was all information on James Livingston, his wife, three boys, and daughter-in-law Heather Williams Livingston, whom his son Jesse had married.
Carl pulled up a small, square envelope that had a foreign text.  “Gail, what language does this look like?”
Gail inspected it.  “I want to say Russian or Romanian.  Probably Romanian.  Definitely an Eastern language.  In fact, this looks like an invitation of some kind.”
Gail grabbed it from Carl’s hands and opened it.  The invitation was indeed intended for Cedric to something that was being held on October 31 of the year 1846.  Gail also noticed others like it among the piles.  Then she noticed the crest on the invitation.  “Carl, look at this crest…”
“What about it?” he asked.
“If I’m not mistaken, this is the Alexandrescu crest.”
Carl frowned.  “Are you sure?”
“I’m almost positive,” Gail said inspecting it more closely.  “Yes, it is!”
“So the Flemings knew the Alexandrescus?”
“Apparently.  Or at least Cedric did.”
Carl looked through the papers on the Blakes and Livingstons.  “Hey Gail, did you see these?”  He placed two small pieces of paper that were hidden in the two envelopes.  The Blake envelope held pieces of paper with:

Twin boys, Blake.  Not identical.  Will be born January of 1937

The Livingston envelope held one that read Baby girl Livingston.  Will be born April of 1982.
“Okay, this just keeps getting more confusing,” Carl said.
“I don’t know,” Gail said.  “Obviously these are events of importance.  Otherwise, why would they be written down and hidden among these documents?  And the invite from the Alexandrescus…hey, didn’t we all talk about how there seemed to be a connection between the Alexandrescu Castle and the Fleming Orphanage?  This invite here indicates that Anton and Cedric knew eachother and were keeping tabs on the Blakes and the Livingstons and God knows who else.  The invite also says that whatever this event is took place on Halloween.  I’ve read a little on this sort of thing and that is when the veils between worlds are at their thinnest.  I mean, that doesn’t mean Anton and Cedric belonged to some occult group or anything like that, but it is a coincidence, don’t you think?  Carl?”
Carl stared at a small slip of paper with a look of alarm in his eyes.
“What is it?” Gail asked.
Carl handed her the slip of paper without looking up.  Gail read it.

Baby girl Blake.  Will be born on December 1, 1913

“That’s Dorothy’s birthday,” Carl said.
“You’re right,” she said.
She watched as his eyes filled with anger and flinched back as he slammed his palms onto the desk.
“Carl…” Gail said.
“So they’ve been after her since before she was born?!” he exclaimed.  He picked up a monogrammed stationary set and yelled “Fuck you, asshole!” before throwing it across the room.
“Carl…”
“I hope he suffered when he died.  I hope his death was painful.  For everything he and sick friends are putting her through!”
“Carl, I understand!  But you’re not going to help Dorothy by standing here throwing things.  We need to find out what’s going on and find a way to stop it.”
Carl shut his eyes and set his mouth to a line.  He turned away from Gail.  “I should have taken her away from here when her parents and Tahatan disappeared.  Even Saturday is too far off.  I need to somehow find her and take her away.  Right now.”
“Carl, what are you talking about?”
Carl drew in a breath and said, “Dorothy and I were going to go down to Elkton Friday night.”
Gail stood stunned.  “You were going to run away and get married?”
Carl nodded.
“Where you planning on coming back?”
“Yeah,” Carl said.  “Though now…I’m not so sure.  Maybe we’ll just stay down there.  I know you, Dorothy, and Reg all wanted to go to school together in Pennsylvania, but now I fear for her safety more than ever.  Who knows what’s going on or what they…whoever they are… have already had planned…”
Carl turned back to Gail.  “We have to somehow find our way back.  I have to find her.”
“Sure, but remember you’ll have to get through the Wardon Alice.”
“I don’t care.  I’m taking her out come Hell or Highwater.”
Gail looked back down at the slip of paper as it disappeared from her hands as the surroundings of Cedric’s study was reduced back to the abandoned run-down state of the Fleming place in 1931.


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