Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 44 (UNEDITED)

Here is all of Chapter 44. 

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 43 before proceeding to Chapter 44.

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 44

The boat docked on the shore.  Jimmy and the cloaked man had sat across from one another in silence throughout the entire ride.  Jimmy held his shirt up to his face as the stench from the forest of impaled corpses was spread out along the shore in front of them.  The man seemed to grin as Jimmy grimaced in disgust at the site.
Walking through the forest was even worse as Jimmy nearly ran into one bloody stump or severed limb after another.  The scavengers that ate the bodies—many of which moaned as though still alive—feasted heartily as though it all would be their last meal.  When they finally reached the end of the forest, Jimmy was relieved to breath in air that wasn’t polluted with decaying flesh.  They stood at the edge of a field with a large stone castle at the other end to the very far left off in the distance.  Closer to them, a village of rundown huts were clustered together.
Jimmy looked up at the cloaked man who lifted up his hand forward.  Before them, what appeared to be a membrane vanished as did the island of impaled corpses.  Behind them there was only forest brush.
Jimmy felt relief at the disappearance of the island, but there was still disconcerting feelings over what was happening.  He looked into the distance at the large stone castle that loomed ahead and recognized what little of the structure he saw as being one of the Romanian castles they were studying in school.  He wanted to get closer and get a better look, but the cloaked man gestured for Jimmy to follow him.
They walked toward the village which was long run down and abandoned.  But as they entered, Jimmy began to feel presence there.  He looked around to see the images of people begin to manifest, walking through the village and going about their lives.  The clearer the images got, the more Jimmy was able to make them out to be Romani gypsies or an ethnic group like them.  He looked again into the distance, seeing the castle again.  Next thing he knew, he and the cloaked man were inside of an elegantly furnished stone hall.  Jimmy surveyed his surroundings and turned back to the man.
“Are we inside that castle we saw?” he asked.
The man said nothing and stared back at him.
“Can you please say something?” Jimmy asked getting irritated.
He could see the corners of the man’s mouth turn upward before the body under the cloak shook as he deeply chuckled.  He seemed to enjoy Jimmy’s intolerance.
Jimmy could feel the anger begin to boil inside him, but the surroundings of the hall did seem familiar to him.
Finally, the man said, “Yes.”  He turned his head back to looking straight ahead and began to walk down the hall.  Jimmy sighed and followed him, feeling more nervous than he would like.  Where was he and why did he feel as though Linda were in trouble?
Where is Linda?
They turned a corner and there, in what appeared to be a secluded area of the castle, he saw a young woman who looked to be Jimmy’s age.  She was down on her knees scrubbing the floors with a brush and bucket.
Jimmy watched as the girl rose a little to reveal her face to him.  She is very pretty, he thought.  Her figure was long and willowy under her clothing but her body also seemed to have strength to go with her initially seeming fragility.  Her long black hair was pulled back and braided.  The girl wiped her forhead with the back of her hand and stood up to stretch her legs.  As she did that, Jimmy could see that the girl was not alone.  He could someone sneaking around the corner.  It was a young man who was also Jimmy’s age, perhaps a year or two older.  He also looked to be a Romani who worked either in or around the castle.  Jimmy watched as the young man regarded the woman with love before playfully sneaking up behind her.  She flinched in surprise as the young man jumped in front of her and said the young man’s name.  “Nicolae!”
The two of the spoke to one another in a language that was foreign to Jimmy.  At first, the young woman seemed to playfully scold her lover for sneaking up on her but then the two were in an embrace and their lips joined.  When they parted, they spoke to one another and Jimmy could hear inflections of caution in their hushed tones.  He could hear the desperation in both of their voices and though he didn’t understand their language, he was able to grasp the nature of their brief discussion.
The couple was interrupted with the sounds of heavy footsteps approaching where they stood from down the hall.  Jimmy watched as the girl urged her lover to leave, likely before whoever was approaching them was to happen upon them.  The young man (Nicolae?) was obviously reluctant to leave her, but also knew he didn’t have a choice.  He whispered one last intense promise to her and then dashed around the corner as quietly as possible.  While Jimmy couldn’t see him, he knew that Nicolae lingered somewhere a little while longer to ensure the young woman’s safety.  To the girl’s relief (and probably Nicolae’s), the person whose footsteps they had heard were merely a servant’s.
“What does all this have to do with me?” Jimmy asked, turning toward the cloaked man.  But the man was gone.  The entire hall darkened around him and the young woman had disappeared.
“It has plenty to do with you, Christopher,” a deep male voice answered.
Jimmy jumped at the booming Eastern European accent, calling him by his first name.  Something that nobody did, not even his parents.  He turned slowly to find himself staring straight into the black, glistening eyes of Anton Alexandrescu.

~~~~~~~

The water pressure became almost too much for Reginald as he felt his lungs ready to burst.  His attempts to fight whatever it was that was dragging him downward was almost futile as it demonstrated a strength that was far beyond anythings Reginald could ever have imagined.
As he was pulled down into the murkey depths his thoughts were of Gail.  He didn’t want to leave her.  Not like this.  Somehow he was going to survive this.  Whatever it was.  Whatever was happening.
In the passed few days when he and Jimmy hadn’t been allowed into the Blake house to visit Dorothy, Reginald had gone to the library to do some research of his own.  He hadn’t been entirely sure of what exactly he was looking for, but he had the feeling that he would know it once he found it.  He had scowered the old town records and other things like James Livingston’s journals and Lawrence Livingston’s writings.  He couldn’t help his regret over the Livingston journals that were not open to the public.  While it was understandable to him that the family would want to keep some of them, wondering over what those journals contained that could possibly help their situation irritated him slightly.
He had been over the journals, writings, and some of the town records before but this time, he combed through them, reading between the lines and trying to find things that would click.  Then earlier that day when Reginald was seated at a table in the library looking through the old writings, he had looked up to find Jimmy standing over him.  Reginald’s initial reaction to seeing Jimmy in the library was a surprise as he had never known Jimmy to ever read anything other than the pulp thrillers at his own choice.  But the shock of seeing Jimmy in the library turned into a deeper understanding when Reginald saw a very disconcerting look in his friend’s eyes.
Jimmy had taken a seat across from Reginald and after a brief uncomfortable silence proceeded to tell him of a dream he had had the previous night.  Jimmy had seemed terribly disturbed and had a difficult time with deciding on where to begin.  But when he finally did get to talking, he had confided to Reginald that in his dream, he had murdered another young man.
“He was asleep and I remember feeling rage to the point of almost losing my sanity completely,” Jimmy had said.  “I remember plunging a dagger into his throat and blood just going everywhere.  I remember the look in his eyes when he died and you know what?  I enjoyed it and felt no regret.  In fact, what I had done was not enough.  I noticed an ax hanging on the wall and I then just hacked away at him…leaving him in pieces.”
Reginald could feel his stomach dropping as he listened to his friend’s story.  “Do you know who it was you killed?” he asked him.  “Anyone you know or just someone random?”
Jimmy had drawn in a breath and paused before saying in a shaky voice.  “You’re not going to believe this, but I would almost swear that it was Dmitri Alexandrescu.  I mean, that could be due to us studying Romania now in History, but…”
Reginald had grabbed his History textbook, paging through it as Jimmy’s voice trailed off.  He found the pages with the portraits of the Alexandrescu family and turned it over to Jimmy.
“Him?” Reginald asked, pointing to the portrait of Dmitri.
Jimmy took the book and nodded as he looked at the picture.  “Yeah.”
Reginald studied his friend and asked him, “Are you aware of how Dmitri died?”
Jimmy shrugged.  “Yeah.  He was killed by a gypsy.  I paid attention enough to know that much.”
Reginald was silent for a moment as he contemplated what Jimmy had told him.  His thoughts went to Nathaniel and Maxine Fleming and something occurred to him.
“Jim,” he said, “didn’t you mention one time that your grandmother was adopted?”
“Grandma Kratz, yeah,” Jimmy answered.  “I remember something about her being born in Spain and ended up in a Hungarian orphanage near Transylvania.”
Transylvania,” Reginald said thoughtfully.  “Not too terribly far from Alexandrescu castle.”
“Wait, what are you driving at?” Jimmy asked.
“Do you know anything of your grandma’s parentage?  The area of Spain she was born in and how she ended up being at an orphanage in Hungary?”
Jimmy shook his head.  “I don’t know what part of Spain.  But yeah I will admit that I always found it odd she ended up in Hungary instead of a Spanish orphanage.  Trust me I’d love to ask her but she passed on five years ago.  She never liked to talk much of it though.  But…”
“But what?” Reginald prodded.
Jimmy took in a deep breath and said, “One thing I do remember her mentioning was of the nightmares she had as a child.  When she was growing up, she would have dreams of seeing an old cradle in and abandonded hut.  She said that sometimes it would rock by itself and sounded as though it were calling to her but calling her by another name.  But she could feel that the name was hers.  The name her adopted parents gave her was Marisa, but what these voices called her…well, wasn’t that.”
“Maybe they called her by her birth name?”
“Maybe,” Jimmy said.
“Did she ever say what that name was?”
“Nope.  But she also mentioned that sometimes after she had gone to bed, she would see dark shadows swirling above her.”
Reginald and Jimmy had stayed at the library until it was time to leave for supper and curfew.  There were a couple things they noticed that they hadn’t before.  One was what appeared to be an extension of the Fleming property on the blueprints and another was something at the end of one of James Livingston’s final journal entries.  It mentioned how he thought he had solved the mystery of what really happened to Cedric, Margaret, and Jared Fleming.  It also explained why Maxine had seen what she had.  But when Reginald went to turn the page to see what James had written on it, he noticed something strange.
“Why have I never noticed this before?” he had asked.
The closer he and Jimmy looked, the more it was apparent that someone had torn the pages out.  The pages that likely told more on what James had found out.
“Sometimes nothing can say a lot,” Reginald had said and Jimmy didn’t disagree.

Now as he fought the thing that pulled him down into the water, he opened his eyes to see what had been a mere glow from the surface.  He also noticed that his ability to breath was slowly returning.  For that he was grateful but he still didn’t know what was happening.  Reginald turned his head to get a better look at his assailant but saw nothing as he plunged into the abyss from where the bright light came from.

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.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 42 (UNEDITED)

Here is ALL of Chapter 42. 

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 41 before proceeding to Chapter 42.

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

Otherwise, read from the word go :)

WARNING:  graphic content ahead.


CHAPTER 42

Carl approached the deserted intersection with his eyes on the sign that was ahead.  He ran down the paved ramp with an urgency to know where he was.  He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there.  The wooded, secluded area wasn’t one he was familiar with.  The air chilled his skin through his undershirt and pajama pants and he was able to see the vapors from his breath as he exhaled.
He slowed down and stopped when he came to the sign that sat on the side of the road at a slope that dipped down a wooded slope.  He was able to read the wooden sign by the light of the moon.

Hunters Highway

Carl frowned as he tried to place where exactly he was.  Hunters Highway wasn’t anywhere near Plains or New York City that he knew of.  Nailed above it was an extension of the sign with two arrows pointing in opposing directions.  He stared up at the top sign and where the arrows pointed.  It read:

Stone Creek, 25 miles
Pinewoods, 25 miles

Carl sighed, letting out a small groan as he tilted his head back.
This is great.  Either way I go the closest sign of civilization is twenty-five miles away.
He turned his gaze to his left, in the direction of Stone Creek.  There was nothing but road, sky, and barren trees with the occasional evergreen.

He looked back up at the sign, racking his brain for any answer to where he was and how he got there.  He turned back toward Stone Creek’s direction and froze when he felt another presence.  Dread overtook him as he heard whispering among the trees with a woman’s voice prominent among them.  He looked back and saw two cloaked figures in the distance.  Without thinking of it any further, he broke into a run, heading in the direction of Stone Creek.

~~~~~~

Jimmy pulled himself to standing, immediately catching the red tint on his forearms.  He looked upward and jumped back when he saw the giant red moon that stretched across the dark sky, outlining the thick, gnarled branches of the sturdy trees that surrounded him.
Linda!
The name of his soon-to-be fiancée echoed in his mind.  His heart began to pound as he surveyed the trees, unable to shake the feeling that the girl he loved was in great danger.  As far as he could see, there was nothing but woods that surrounded him and nothing to indicate which direction he should go in.
He made an abrupt turn when he heard a rustling in the thick brush and watched a figure in a dark cloak emerge into the clearing.  The figure motioned for Jimmy to follow him.
Jimmy found his voice.  “What do you want?” he asked.
The figure said nothing but beckoned to him again.
“Where’s Linda?” Jimmy demanded.  “If you hurt her, I swear on my grandmother’s grave that I’ll—“
The figure cut him off, holding up his hand.  Jimmy narrowed his eyes as the figure turned its hand to beckon to him once more.
“Your grandmother’s grave?”
Jimmy startled at the figure’s question.  The voice of the cloaked man was deep but rather light and sounded as though it were circulated through the heavy oaks around them.
Before Jimmy could answer, the figure chuckled and retreated into the brush with his laughter trailing behind him.  Jimmy felt a burning fury rise up from his core.
“Hey!” he yelled, but the figure ignored him and continued walking.
“Your grandmother’s grave,” it repeated.

A blind anger propelled Jimmy toward the figure, but the cloaked man was quick to draw a dagger as Jimmy leaped forward to tackle him.

~~~~~~

Linda made her way through the dark, opulent halls.  The corridors had an elegance and grandeur to them that would have normally had someone walking through them in awe of what it had to offer, but in that moment all they offered her was terror and pain.  Pain that was physical and emotional.  She could feel her face throbbing and her right eye swelling up.  She could feel the drying blood on her split open bottom lip.  She was naked save for a linen that wrapped around her body.  There were many emotions pulsing through her and that was of fear and having been violated.  She could hear a man’s voice calling to her.  A voice that made her stomach turn.  He was calling to her, but it was a name that wasn’t Linda’s.  A name she did not recognize.  But there was a name that was in her mind.  The name of someone she felt she needed to find.
Nicolae.
She didn’t know if he was alive or dead and she felt a fear that they probably killed him, leaving her to be alone and owned by him, the man she was trying to escape from.  She had a feeling of knowing where she was well enough to be able to navigate its halls without question.
As she turned a corner, she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen that caused her to double over.  That was when she noticed a pair of arms that were not hers.  Long, slender arms with dark olive skin beneath the forming bruises and a taller frame.  She saw a thick, mussed up curtain of long black hair fall in front of her face.  Another jolting pain shot through her lower half, this time engulfing her lower spine and upper thighs.
No…please…not our little one…
The thought caused her more agony than any physical injuries she had sustained moments ago by his hand.  The name Nicolae entered her mind again and her desperation of finding him.  They had put him a cell down in the castle’s dungeon last time.  As much fright as she had of going anywhere near there, she wouldn’t leave without Nicolae regardless of what it took.
“ELOISA!!!”
The deep, male voice was filled with an intense fury as it called to her.  She could feel her body jolt at the sound.  She made her way as quickly as she could down the hall and into the closest room.  She searched the room franctically.  She was in one of their sitting rooms.  The only light in the room was from an oil lamp that sat on a small table between two large armchairs.
“ELOISA!!!” the voice bellowed again, this time closer.
Linda felt the body she was in move as quickly as it could over to a larger table that was covered with a long, draping table cloth.  The pain from her abdomin had alleviated and she was finally able to breathe as she slid underneath the table and pulled the tablecloth back down to hide herself.  She could feel the heart pounding as she (Eloisa?) tried to control her breathing.  She could hear his footsteps which had come to a much slower pace that was almost eerie.  Almost like an animal biding its time before it pounced upon its prey.
Another pain shot through her abdomen and she stifled herself from crying out.  She brought her knees to a fetal position as she tried to will the pain away.
Please, my little one…as soon as we find your father we can leave…Us and your Uncle Sebastian.  We’ll go far away from here where you can have a good life.  I’m so sorry, I only wanted to protect you—
“Eloisa.”
The voice cut through her thoughts again.  He was at the doorway to the sitting room.  His voice was quiet this time.  Almost too quiet.  It demonstrated a confidence that made her skin crawl.  She held her breath.
“Eloisa,” he said.  “Oh come on, darling.  You brought this on yourself, you know.  You shouldn’t have broken the rules of our agreement.”
Linda was startled that she was able to understand the foreign tongue the man spoke.  She also felt the urge to scream we never had an agreement but stifle it.  The pain racked her body and she could feel the bruises on her swelling skin.
Her body trembled as she heard the sounds of his boots indicate his entry into the room.  She clutched the linen to herself, trying to block out the memories of being in that bedroom with him.  She could hear him pacing the room, pausing at the table where she was at before continuing to the otherside.  His footsteps stopped at the wall on the end of the room.
“It is futile trying to hide from me, you silly woman,” he said.  “I thought perhaps you would have figured that by now.  And as for Nicolae…I’m certain they’ve done away with him by now.”
Linda could feel the woman’s heart palpitating and the sorrow over the possibility of the man she loved having been killed.  In the sudden stillness of the room, she could hear the young woman’s thoughts as she said a silent prayer for him.
She had barely finished when the table cloth was yanked up.  A choked scream escaped her mouth as Dmitri leered at her, his black eyes glistening.  His smile was sadistic and his entire essence was that of something almost demonic in nature.  With every ounce of strength she had, she swung her fist at Dmitri, striking him in the left eye (it was that moment when Linda had a vague memory of Eloisa hitting Dmitri between his legs with her knee prior to escaping from the bedroom he had her in).  He doubled back, startled but then he lunged forward.  Dmitri reached in and pulled her out, causing the pain and throbbing she felt in almost every inch of her body to reach new heights.
She struggled with all she had left to escape but Dmitri was able to hold her back.  She could hear the young woman’s voice cry out in pain again and felt two ribs crack.  A numbing feeling began to take over her as Dmitri scooped her up by her throat with an almost inhuman amount of strength.  She caught a glimpse of his eyes which she would almost swear had gone completely black.
All at once, the linen she wore fell to the floor leaving her completely exposed to him again as he shoved her up against the wall, causing her head to fall back against the stone with a sickening crack.  She could feel the blood forming at the back of her head and the most excruciating feeling in her abdomen, almost as though she were being gutted.  She could feel a thick wetness gush out from between her legs as she felt Dimitri’s mouth on her.  It was then she began to lose conciousness.


~~~~~~

Dorothy looked out to the cemetery, searching for the Livingston girl.  She needed to speak to her.  That, Dorothy knew.  She headed around the corner where she had thought she saw the girl go in.  When she circled back around the mausoleum, she saw a haze had formed over the area she had come from and felt a small electrical current enter her when she attempted to touch it.
Dorothy glanced behind her toward the town of Plains.  It seemed different somehow.  She looked up to the overcast sky and heard music in the distance.  On her way out of the cememtery, she noticed the caretaker’s house at the far corner of the graveyard.

~~~~~~

The library sure was different afterhours, Gail observed.  How she had ended up there, she had no idea.
And I’m not even dressed, the thought as she glanced down at her red satin pajama set.
She wandered through the dark building, weaving in and out of the aisles until she came to where the journals of James Livingston had been displayed.  They seemed to breathe when she touched them.  Gail would almost swear she felt a pulse in some of them.  She was about to take a journal from its place when she heard a voice whisper to her.
“Gail,” it said.  The voice was of a rather stern male but there was also a gentleness there.
She turned her head and found herself looking at the portrait of James.  Even across the room, James Livingston commanded a strong and magnetic presence.  The moonlight cast itself onto the painting, illuminating James’s features.
He seems real…she thought as she felt her feet taking her to the painting.
As she approached the portrait, the library grew darker and she would almost swear that she could hear James breathing inside of the painting.
The room darkened until all she was able to see was James’s likeness, prominent in the dark.  The portrait seemed to expand, and she could feel something opening up, compelling her to enter.
Gail noted the feeling of floating toward some type of opening in the dark swallowing her up.  The air was cool as it look her downward and for a moment, Gail had the thought of the young girl who fell down the rabbit hole in the Lewis Carroll story.
Her feet finally touched the ground and the pitch blackness dissipated revealing a study.  The only light source was from two oil lamps.  One on a table next to a liquor cabinet and the other was on a desk.  A single look around immediately told Gail where she was.  Cedric Fleming’s study on the fifth floor of the main building on the Fleming property.

~~~~~~

The ship was just out of reach to Reginald as he persued it.  The massive 19th century vessel continued cutting through the oceans currents as he struggled to keep up.  He wasn’t sure of how much longer he would be able to stay afloat as all that was around him was ocean and sky.  The sky was beautiful as the stars and their dust clouds were visible and lighting the way for the ship.  The ocean appeared almost glassy and if he the question of how much longer he would be able to stay afloat didn’t plague his mind, Reginald would have been completely engrossed in the ethereal beauty that surrounded him.
Why do I feel like Carl is on that ship? he wondered.
His attempts to yell up yielded no results as his voice seemed to lose itself after leaving his throat.  Reginald let out a groan as he knew he couldn’t swim forever.  But there was something that caught his eye.  Something below the surface of the water.  Whatever it was let off an orange glow.  Before Reginald could decide what to do next, a pair of hands grabbed his legs, pulling him under.

~~~~~~~

The soft piano music floated from the Fleming Property.  Dorothy stood puzzeled at the bottom of the hill.  It seemed as though she left the cemetery and was immediately at the foot of the orphanage.  The piano was soft but had a great emotional charge to it.  She remembered seeing the Livingston girl playing the piano previously.
Dorothy drew in a breath and began to ascend the hill.  Walking up the hill seemed easier and she could not feel her physical pain.  From the corner of her eye, she thought she could see her great-great grandfather Howahkan.  But as fast as he appeared, he was gone.  Dorothy continued up the hill, keeping her eyes out for the other girl.
To her other side, she saw someone else who seemed to be following her.  She stopped and turned toward where she saw the figure, but there was no one there.  Uneasiness came over her as she turned back toward the orphanage and continued up.  In her peripheral, she saw it again, walking along with her through the trees.  She turned to look again only to have it disappear again.
Dorothy stood, her heart racing as the piano music faded out, leaving her surrounded by silence.  She had a feeling that she needed to leave.  She didn’t know where she was going to go, but she needed to leave.  But when she turned to head back down the hall, she ran into someone.  She looked up to see the cememtery caretaker looking down at her, regarding her with a strange look that was reminiscent to the creature who attacked her.
“Leaving so soon?” he asked.
His eyes glowed red as he grabbed her arm.  Before Dorothy could scream or struggle away, a ringing was heard off in the distance…

…Dorothy jolted in her seat at the sound of the phone on her desk ringing.  She glanced at her clock to see that it was close to two in the morning.
Who could be calling at this hour?
She reached for her phone and noticed that Tahatan’s notes were spread across the floor indicating that she had dropped them after falling asleep at her desk.  She groaned at the site before putting the receiver to her ear.  For a moment, a combination of hope and dread filled her as she thought perhaps it was someone calling in regards to her parents, Tahatan, and Father Louis.
“Blake residence,” she said stifling a yawn.
There was no answer on the other end, but Dorothy was able to catch a hint of a choked back sob.
Dorothy frowned.  “Um…who’s there?”
“Dorothy…” a choked voice could barely utter out.
Dorothy sat up straight in her chair.  “Linda?  Linda, what’s wrong?  What happened?”
She heard Linda begin to sob on the other end.
“Linda, what is it?”
“It was horrible…”
“Linda, what happened?  Do you need to call the police?  Please, you’re scaring me.”
“They can’t help…” Linda said.
Dorothy froze when she heard the front door downstairs open and shut.
“Linda, hold on,” she whispered.  She could hear Linda’s soft sobbing on the other end while she listened to footsteps entering the foyer.  She could hear the hushed voices of her Grandpa and Grandma Whitman traveling throughout the downstairs area.
Dorothy shook her head as she wondered how they were able to get away with being out this late passed curfew.
“Are you still there, Dorothy?” Linda’s shakey voice asked.
“Yes, Linda,” Dorothy said.  “Just hold on one minute.”  She listened to the voices and heard them retreating toward the study.  But something else caught her.  She thought she could hear a third voice with them.
“Linda,” she said, “what happened?”
“I can’t talk about it over the phone.  It was just horrible, Dorothy!  I’m not going to be able to sleep again tonight!”
Dorothy saw a quick flash of Alexandrescu Castle in front of her and felt the presences of both Jimmy and Linda.  “I can come over if you want.  I’ll just sneak out the front door.”
There was a pause on the other end.  “Are you sure?”
“Yes, of course, Linda.  Just stay there.  Wait for me by your front door so I don’t have to knock or ring the bell and wake your parents.”
“Thank you,” Linda said.  “And be careful.”
When the girls hung up, Dorothy stood and stretched her muscles as best she could.  Her body was a little stiff from dozing off at her desk, but didn’t see any reason why she couldn’t handle walking to Linda’s.
She doesn’t live that far away…only a ten minute walk, Dorothy told herself.
As she carefully knelt down to pick up Tahatan’s notes, she could hear Cyril, Alice, and their guest entering the study and closing the door.  A wave of uneasiness, similar to what she had just felt before running into the cemetery caretaker, came over her.  She also noticed an envelope that had been slid under her door.
Dorothy set Tahatan’s papers aside and picked it up.  When she opened it, she saw a folded piece of paper that contained two ten dollar bills.  Dorothy gasped and read the note.

We hope this helps you and Carl.  Also consider this
as our signatures of approval if it is needed in Elkton.
We love you.  Our prayers and blessings
are with you both.

Dorothy’s mouth dropped open when she saw the signatures of Gerard and Violet Blake at the bottom.  She stuffed the note and ten dollar bills back into the envelope, vowing to herself that she would not let it out of her site.  Her thoughts then returned to her Grandpa and Grandma Whitman and their guest down in the study.  She removed her robe and began to change out of her nightgown but decided against it.  If Grandpa and Grandma Whitman or their guest came out from the study while she was leaving, what would she tell them if she was fully dressed?  At least in her nightgown, she could give an excuse of needing a drink of water, not being able to sleep and coming downstairs to listen to the radio, anything to keep her out of trouble.
Remembering her Grandpa Gerard’s words of warning about the Whitmans, Dorothy hid Tahatan’s and her notes under her nightgown and crept downstairs toward the coat closet where she also kept her more comfortable shoes.  As she moved passed the study, she could see the light on from beneath the door.  She tiptoed closer until she was close enough to be able to hear the hushed voices on the other side.
Dorothy couldn’t make out all of what they were saying, but she could hear ‘the Turner boy’ said a couple times.  The third person then spoke and what Dorothy heard made her blood run cold.  The man’s voice was deep and had an accent that sounded as if their guest was from somewhere in Eastern Europe.
I have to get away from here before they come out and catch me…
Dorothy moved to the coat closet, making sure the notes were safely tucked in her undergarments.  As she opened the door to the coat closet, she heard the study door open.  Dorothy ducked inside the closet, shutting the door quietly but leaving it open a crack.  She held her breath while watching the figures of Alice and Cyril move passed her accompanied by their Eastern European guest.  She wasn’t able to get a good look at him, but she was able to see that he was someone with a tall and powerful build.
Dorothy could hear her grandparents bidding their visitor farewell at the door.
“I am sorry for your Elizabeth,” Dorothy heard the visitor say.  “Especially after your Roxanne had to go.  How is Stuart these days?”
“Last time we spoke to him he was just fine,” Alice said.  “And I’m sorry for Elizabeth too but she knew perfectly well what was expected of her.”
“I am looking forward to meeting Dorothy,” the visitor said.  “My great-grandson is as well.”
Dorothy felt her stomach turn.  What in the name of all that is holy is going on?  What are they talking about?
“She’s quite fond of that Turner boy, though, I’m afraid,” Cyril said.
“We are taking care of that,” Alice said.  “And we won’t miss this time.”
“No,” the visitor said, “we will not.”
A vision of Carl running down a deserted, wooded road flashed before her.  He was in danger, she could feel it.  What did they mean that they wouldn’t miss ‘this time’?  The idea of Carl being hurt or worse made every fiber in her body go limp.
Dorothy listened anxiously as the visitor bid her grandparents goodnight once more before retreating into the night.  She heard the door lock and Cyril and Alice walk in silence up the stairs and to the master bedroom.
Dorothy heard the door click and she counted to twenty as she clutched her coat in the darkness.  When she was certain that no one was around, she quietly opened the door with her coat slung over one arm and her other hand clutching her shoes.  She shut the closet door, making certain the click could not be heard and crept to the front door as quickly as she could.  She unlocked the latch, taking care to not make noise, and opened the door.  She felt a relief as she stepped out onto the porch where she put her coat and shoes on.
Only two blocks before I’m at Linda’s, she told herself.  And then, I have to get to Carl…oh, please don’t let him be hurt!
Dorothy left the porch, remembering the envelope her Grandpa and Grandma Blake had given her.  It was tucked under her clothes with the notes.  Our prayers and blessings are with you… it said.

She hoped and prayed that they would all be safe.  Danger was looming, hovering above them all.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reworking the Beginning

Hey everyone,
I know I mentioned before that the Prologue may not end up being a Prologue.  After looking at it, I'm thinking of changing it from being a Prologue to the first part of the book.  I'm compiling an intro to have before introducing the four bloodline patriarchs just to tie it together a little more.  I just feel that after reading it over, it's more than merely a prologue.
I'm having great difficulty with leaving it as it is to ferment because everytime I look at it?  I find something else that needs adjusted.  Ah well.  Eventually, I will have to put it away for a while and then return to it with 'new eyes' for another draft before giving it over to a couple sympathetic yet unbiased pairs of eyes to be proofread.  I already did get a useful note from someone whom I had read what used to be called the Prologue.  Something that I did not realize I was doing before it was pointed out to me.  Now I'm constantly fixing it in the newer draft I'm working on because now that I've noticed it, it's bugging the hell out of me.
I am looking forward to reading it after putting it aside for a month or two and seeing it come to life in a way I probably can't see right now.
Well, that's a draft update and I thank all who keep returning to read the very raw first draft!  Stay tuned for Chapter 42!

Tiffany

UPDATE:  What was called the prologue is now titled "Hector's Vision" with Hector de Fuentes as the 'wrap-around.'  I'm going to need to rework it a little, but I think it will flow much better once it is finished.  "Hector's Vision" will then still be followed by "Nicolae's Escape."  :)

I've also thought of calling in "Hector's Cave" which somehow I think sounds better...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

PART 2, THE FIRST EVIL, 1931-1933: Chapter 41 (UNEDITED)

Here is ALL of Chapter 41. 

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 40 before proceeding to Chapter 41.

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 41

Dorothy stood at her window, staring blankly out.  All she could see was him, the young gypsy man waking up in that black forest.  She could hear the name he called out as he stood.
Sebastian.
At that moment, the little boy whom she had seen wandering in the woods after she had gone to sleep appeared in her mind as did the name.  Sebastian.  Then she saw the older boy again.  Heathcliff…or exactly how I’ve always imagined him everytime I’ve read Wuthering Heights…and the little boy…he looks like a younger version of this young man…
The words of the younger boy came back to her:  “I can’t find my brother.”
Everything suddenly began to piece itself together when the phone on her desk rang.  Dorothy’s head snapped around, jolted by the shrill ring.  It stopped on the second ring as she heard Violet answer.
“Cletus!” she heard her grandmother exclaim.  “How are you, dear?”
Cletus?  Dorothy felt her heart soar at the thought of talking to her cousin but something felt off.  She pulled the curtains on her window shut and retreated to her desk.  The image of the young man in the black forest and the little boy wandering seered though her mind.  And Cletus…
Dorothy heard her grandmother ascending the stairs.
Violet appeared in the doorway and said, “Honey, Cletus phoned and wants to speak to you.”
Dorothy smiled.  “Sure, grandma.  Thanks.”
Violet returned Dorothy’s smile and began to retreat back toward the stairs when something else occurred to Dorothy.  “Are Grandma and Grandpa Whitman home yet?”
Dinner was in a half hour and it was strange for them to not have returned home by then.  Violet turned back to her granddaughter with her brows furrowed.
“No dear, they aren’t,” she replied in a tone that implied that she too thought it odd.  “But supper is in a half hour so perhaps they will return in that time frame.  Can you make it down the stairs on your own yet?”
“Actually, I think so,” Dorothy said.
“Well, I’ll have your grandpa follow you down just in case.”
“Thanks,” Dorothy replied.  She picked up the receiver as her grandmother retreated back to the stairs.
“Hello, Cletus!” she said in the most cheerful voice she had spoken in since the first incident at the Fleming place.
“Hi Dorothy!” he said.  “How are you feeling?”
Dorothy started to reply when she saw the black forest again.  She saw the young man she knew as her version of Heathcliff pull out a dagger as he surveyed the twisted brush a few feet from him.  The giant red moon gave everything a blood tinged glow.
“Dorothy?”
“Oh, I’m sorry Cletus,” she said as the scenario faded.  “I’m just overwhelmed by everything.  I mean, I’m coping much better than I was originally…”
“It’s alright,” he said.  Dorothy could hear the touch of sympathy and concern in her cousin’s voice.  There was a pause before Cletus asked, “So how are things with Carl?  Is he treating you well?”
Dorothy smiled at the protective tone in her cousin’s voice.  “Yes, Cletus.  He does.  Very much.”
“Good,” he said.
She was having difficulty telling him about the plans she had with Carl.  Instead, she asked, “So Cletus, how about you?  Have you found a special girl yet?”
“Well…” Cletus stammered.
“There is, isn’t there?!” Dorothy cried.  “Cletus, I’m so happy for you!  What’s her name?”
She expected Cletus to answer her right away and was surprised by the silence that was at the other end.
“Cletus?”
“I’m sorry,” Cletus said slowly.
“About what?  What’s wrong?  You know you can tell me.”
“I know…but…Dorothy, do you promise you won’t laugh?”
Dorothy flinced, dumbfounded.  “Of course.  Trust me, I’m not in any place to laugh at anyone these days.”
Cletus paused again before saying, “Well, I have met a girl but I don’t really know her name.”
“Oh, you mean you met her out somewhere and just didn’t get her name yet?”
“That’s just it.  I haven’t really met her,” Cletus said.
Dorothy felt chills begin to prickle her arms as she saw “Heathcliff” appear in her mind’s eye again.  “You mean you’ve only seen her around town?”
She heard Cletus inhale deeply before replying, “No.  I don’t see her when I’m awake.  It’s only after I’ve gone to sleep that I see her.  She’s pretty and I feel somehow connected to her.  But she’s younger than me.”
“How much younger?” Dorothy asked as her heart began to race.
“A couple years.  She looks to be maybe thirteen.  I know that’s very young, especially since I’ve turned seventeen.”
“What does she look like?”
“She has light brown hair but other than that, she looks very much like someone who comes from a gypsy family.  In fact, one of the times I’ve seen her, she was in what looked to be a camp of some kind.  She was sitting beside an old woman who looked to be maybe in her seventies.  I’m guessing that woman was her grandmother or something like that.
“So I’m standing there in the middle of what looks like this gypsy camp and watching this girl who is sitting beside this old woman and painting this very intricate mural on a wooden drum.  I think it was some version of The Last Supper.  Anyway, the old woman looks up from her sewing and directly at me!”
“Goodness…” was all Dorothy could say.  The old woman appeared in her mind.  She was a woman with a small, thin build with a dark complexion and thick black hair that was pulled up.  She wore a simple navy blue dress and a burgundy colored shawl.  Her dark eyes glistened, reflecting years of experience and wisdom.  They also told a sad story.  A story that Dorothy couldn’t quite see in detail but she could feel the pain the woman had experienced in her life.  Then she felt something else.  A familiar presence.  Carl’s presence…but not quite…
“I think she saw me, Dorothy,” Cletus said.  “Really saw me.  Her eyes were like two black stones but they were friendly.  I didn’t feel threatened by them.”
“I know, I can see her,” Dorothy blurted out.
“You do?” Cletus asked with uneasiness in his voice.
Dorothy sighed.  “Cletus, there’s a lot going on and so much I need to tell you.”
She started to say more when Gerard appeared in the doorway.
“Sweetheart, I’m sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but your grandma sent me up to tell you that supper is ready.”
“Thanks grandpa.  I’ll be off in a minute.  Are Grandpa and Grandma Whitman home yet?”
Gerard shook his head.  “No, they’re not.  Your grandma decided to just go ahead and start.  They can join us or heat up whatever is left whenever they return.”
Dorothy could see a puzzeled look fill his eyes.  But there was something else there.  Something that she couldn’t place but frightened her.
Dorothy nodded and Gerard gave her a reassuring smile.  “Say hello to Cletus for me.”
Dorothy smiled back at Gerard as he retreated into the hallway to wait for Dorothy at the top of the stairs.  “Grandpa says hello,” she said to Cletus.”
“Send Grandpa and Grandma my love,” Cletus said.
“And you do the same to Uncle Ronald and Aunt Eunice,” Dorothy replied.
“My mother lights candles for your parents, Tahatan, and the priest every night so that they will find their way back.”
“Well tell her thank you,” Dorothy said as sadness began to fill her again.
“And thank you for listening and not laughing at me.  I haven’t told anyone else but you about this.”
“It won’t go any further than me,” Dorothy said.  “Cletus, do you want to call me tomorrow night?  After supper, maybe?  There are things I need to tell you too.”  She glanced over at the drawer that held Maxine’s diary.  Maxine…your real great-grandmother… the voice came at her like a whisper.
“Dorothy, what was that?” Cletus asked.
“What?”
“That whispering.”
Dorothy felt her stomach drop.  “You mean you heard that too?”
“Yeah,” Cletus replied.
Dorothy paused, her mind racing.  “Cletus, please give me a call tomorrow.  There is so much I need to tell you.  As soon as possible.”
“Okay,” Cletus said.  “Since our family doesn’t do Thanksgiving the next time we’ll see eachother is Christmas.”
“I know,” Dorothy said.  “Please though.  Phone me tomorrow.”
“I will,” he said.
After a final goodbye, the cousins hung up.

At the dinner table, nobody said another word regarding Cyril and Alice, but the Blakes were all thinking the same thing:  although their lack of presence was a little offputting, it was still nice to have a peaceful supper free of tension and Alice’s holier than thou demeanor.  At the end of supper, the Whitmans still hadn’t returned.
Dorothy helped her grandparents clean up the kitchen and dining area.  Violet was putting some leftovers onto dishes for Cyril and Alice to heat up when they returned home.
“Do you really think Alice even knows how to use an oven?  Or Cyril for that matter?” Gerard quipped.
Violet rolled her eyes.  “Gerard,” she said with a warning tone.
“I’m sorry, dear,” Gerard said.  “Couldn’t resist.”
“I’m sure they can figure it out if they really want dinner,” she said.
“Famous last words before they try and end up setting the house on fire,” Gerard replied.
Dorothy gave her grandparents a small smile, enjoying their banter.  She thought back to her conversation with Cletus earlier and of the diary that was up in her desk drawer along with her and Tahatan’s notes.  Part of her did not wish to go any further and just forget all she had found.  Maybe it will all cease to exist if I act as though it does not.
But she also knew that whether she wished to continue acknowledging things or not, her parents, Tahatan, and Father Louis were still missing and whatever the outcome would be, it was something that would need dealing with.  Then there were her plans with Carl.
Dorothy shifted her eyes away from her grandparents as she once again felt a small amount of guilt for lying to them.
Maybe we should wait…mom and dad could be found tomorrow…
But something ceased those thoughts and she grasped the counter as an image of the dark, hooded woman she had seen after passing out in the Fleming’s washroom appeared in front of her.
“Dorothy?” she heard Violet say.  “Dorothy, what is it?”
 “Sweetheart, are you alright?”  Gerard asked.
The image evaporated and Dorothy came to seeing her grandparents rushing to her aid.
“I’m fine,” Dorothy said, catching her breath.  “Just thought I saw something…”
“Why don’t you sit down for a minute and I’ll get you some water,” Violet said.
Dorothy sat down at the table as her grandmother filled up water into a glass.  She looked up at her grandpa Gerard who looked back at her with a knowing expression.
When Dorothy finished her water she said, “I’m going upstairs to get a shower.  I’m sure I’ll feel better after that.”
The truth also was that she also needed time alone to clear her head.
“Well, just yell for us if you need anything,” Violet replied.
“Thanks, “Dorothy said.  “Oh, and Carl is supposed to call.  If he calls while I’m in the shower, tell him I’ll call him back after I get out.”
“Of course we will, dear,” Violet said.
“Thank you.”
Dorothy and Gerard exchanged another glance before she exited the kitchen to head upstairs, taking the steps slowly but making it on her own.
She got to her bedroom and began to undress, looking ahead to going away with Carl on Friday.  There was a lot to do before then including deciding on a dress to wear and what she could get away with packing.  And we’ll need wedding rings…
She removed her last article, wondering just how they would be able to pull it off.  I also need to figure out where I could sneak out from without waking everyone.
Dorothy placed the clothing in the laundry hamper and turned to get her robe out from her closet.  It was then she got a glimpse of herself in her full length mirror.  The scar close to where her heart was began right above the small of her stomach and made a rough, jagged line up to the top of her left breast.  Its purple coloring was fading but it was still noticeable as was the large scar that was on the side of her right thigh.  Then on the left side of her waist, still covered with gauze that would need to be replaced after her shower, were the stitches that would be coming off on Friday morning, in time for her and Carl’s elopement.  Another large scar for him to see on me…
She could feel her legs growing weak as she imagined being naked this way with Carl’s eyes on her.  It sent shockwaves through her and she could feel a rush flowing down between her legs.  She remembered being alone with Carl the night they had gone to the Fleming property and how she had a different body at that time.  Something she had taken for granted.  And the idea of making love with Carl, allowing him inside of her in a way she had never done with anyone before was almost overwhelming to her.
Dorothy went to her closet, grabbed her robe and slipped it on, tying it in front.  I should probably style my hair tomorrow, she thought, raking her fingers through her dark hair.

Dorothy returned to her bedroom following her shower, feeling a little more clear-headed and sure enough, there was a note placed underneath the phone on her desk.  It read:

Carl phoned.
Love, Grandpa
P.S.- As soon as you get an opportunity,
please come have a talk with me.

Dorothy sat at her desk, setting the note aside.  She wondered what else her grandfather had to speak with her about.
She picked up the receiver and dialed Carl’s number.  He picked up after the first ring.
“Waiting by the phone, I see?” Dorothy teased him.
“Always,” Carl replied.  “Just so you know I took the phone into my dad’s study, so there’s nobody around to hear anything.”
“And your parents didn’t question it?”
“I just told them I wanted to talk to you without any distractions, which isn’t a lie anyway.  But honey I do need to tell you that I may not be able to visit you after school tomorrow.”
Dorothy felt a pang of disappointment.  “Why?”
“Well, to be honest…I’m going out to get our rings.”
“Really?!”  she asked, lighting up.  “But aren’t they expensive?  What kind are you going to get?”
“Don’t worry, babe,” he said.  “I got this.  And you’ll just have to wait til Saturday morning to see what they are.”
“You’re awful,” Dorothy said wryly.
“You love me anyway.”
There was a pause before Dorothy said, “You’re right, I do.”  She shuddered as she acknowledged the fact that she was sitting and talking to Carl wearing nothing but her robe.  “I’ll miss seeing you tomorrow,” she said softly.
“I know,” he said, “I will too.  But I need to get them tomorrow and I can’t cut class.  Obviously, I can’t run the risk of getting detention anytime this week when I need to make preparations.  But I’ll be by on Thursday and then Friday, we’ll be free and have the rest of our lives together.”
“It seems so far off,” Dorothy said.
“It will be here before you know it.”
“Have you told anyone?”
“No, baby, I haven’t.  Have you?”
“No.  I do feel bad about hiding this from our friends.  I mean, we’re hiding our very brief engagement and now our wedding.  And while I know leaving this soon was my idea, I can’t help wondering what would happen if my parents, Tahatan, and Father Louis somehow returned while we were gone.”
“I’m sure they would understand, baby,” Carl said.
“I know,” Dorothy said.  “But I know my father will be a little disappointed that he missed giving me away.”
“Are you having second thoughts?” Carl asked.
Dorothy drew in a breath and said, “No.  No Carl, I want to do this.”  I also have to, she thought for a reason she couldn’t place.
“Good,” Carl said, sighing with relief.
“But Carl, what will we do?  You know, after we come back married.”
“We could stay with my family and that would relieve your grandparents.  That’s usually what happens anyway when a couple is married and doesn’t have their own place yet.”
“Well you also know that Gail and I want to attend college in either Philadelphia or Wilkes-Barre a year following graduation,” Dorothy said.  “Many campuses do have on-campus housing for married couples and I’m sure she and Reginald will also take advantage of that as they both go.”
“I’m sure I can get a job in whichever area you choose to go to school in,” Carl said.
Dorothy grinned.  “Though knowing you, you’d probably need either a mid or night shift.  You’re not much of an early morning person.”
“Not night shift,” Carl said.  “I want my evenings with you.  Though I don’t know.  You may not get much studying done with me around.”
“What am I getting myself into being married to you?”
“A husband you loves you and a lot of fun nights ahead.”  Carl paused for a moment before he said, “Oh, while we’re living with my parents…would it bother you that my family does Thanksgiving?”
Dorothy thought for a moment.  It was true that the Blake family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving.  Being from Ireland, it wasn’t a holiday that Charles and Emma had practiced with their family, even after becoming legalized citizens of America.  They both felt they didn’t need a specialized day to be thankful for the things they had.  When Jonathan had married Kimimela, it was learned that it was not a revered day for the American natives but a day of mourning and sorrow.  As a result, the Blake family, particularly the descendents of Jonathan and Kimimela, never took part in the holiday and fortunately, whoever married into the family respected that.  Instead, while friends and peers celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, the Blakes would also have a dinner but a smaller, quiet one.  For them, it was more a day of reflection than celebration.
The traditional practice of the Blakes had driven an even deeper wedge between Matthew and the Whitmans, who had wanted to have their daughter and granddaughter over for Thanksgiving dinner to which Liz declined and opted to instead respect the tradition of the Blake family.  This was something that did not sit well with Alice or Cyril.
Finally, Dorothy said, “Carl, I’m not going to stop your family from doing something they’ve always done in their own house.  I don’t really have a right to do that.”
“Baby, when we’re living on our own we don’t have to celebrate it,” Carl said.  “I love turkey just as much as the next guy, but after going with you and meeting Tahatan…that’s something I’d like to respect as well.”
“You know I can cook you turkey at any time,” Dorothy replied.  “It doesn’t have to be on Thanksgiving.”
“I’m sure it will be good, too.”
“Maybe I’ll make it the first time we’re in an on-campus house.”
“I look forward to that.”
A smile spread across Dorothy’s face.  It faded when her eyes went to the drawer that held Maxine’s diary and the notes that Dorothy and Tahatan took.  Her eyes then turned toward the copy of American Ghost Stories that sat on her desk.
“Carl,” she said, “there are a few things I need to tell you.  Before we get married.  But first, I need to look into some things a little more.”  That way if you decide to call everything off, it won’t be too late.
“What is it, baby?  Did you find more information on the Fleming place?”
“Sort of,” Dorothy said.
“Well what is it?”
“Carl, I really do need to go over some things a little more before I can explain it.  I’ll talk to you on Thursday about it.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t hurt for Gail and Linda to hear…”
“Alright, honey,” Carl said slowly.  “If that’s what you want to do.”
Dorothy glanced over at the note her grandfather had left her and then at her clock.  It was almost eight ‘o’ clock.  The last thing she wanted was to get off the phone with Carl but she also didn’t know how long the talk with her grandfather would take.  And it was imperitive that she had as clear a picture of things that she could get before she would be able to talk to Carl or anyone.
“Carl, I have to get off the phone,” she said.  “My grandfather needs me for something.”
Carl sighed.  “Alright, baby.  I’ll call you tomorrow after I get to school.  And I can again after dinner tomorrow.”
“Please,” Dorothy said, sounding more desperate than she intended to.
“I will,” Carl said.  “Don’t worry.  Don’t worry about anything.”
“I won’t,” Dorothy said as tears began to sting her eyes.
“Baby…is everything alright?”
“Fine,” Dorothy said, using her fingers to wipe her eyes.  “My grandparents just really need me right now.  But please, do call me tomorrow.”
After a short pause Carl said, “Sure honey.  But you know I’m here if you need anything.  No matter what.”
“Thank you,” Dorothy said as dread began to fill her.
“Well, goodnight sweetheart,” Carl said.  “I love you.”
“I love you too, Carl.”

Dorothy sat at her desk with her face in her hands, trying to force the tears back.    In a span of only two weeks the entire world had been pulled out from her.  What if Carl leaves me on top of it all?  What if my friends no longer want anything to do with me?  Maybe I am better to just leave.  Maybe I’ll ask Grandpa and Grandma Blake if they’ll take me back to Illinois or perhaps Uncle Ronald and Aunt Eunice will let me move in with them…
Dorothy wiped the rogue tear from her face and stood up.  She glanced back down at her grandfather’s note before putting on a pair of pajamas and slipping her robe back on.  She left her bedroom and headed toward the stairs, pausing to look into the darkness of her parents’ bedroom before heading down.  She found her grandmother in the kitchen going through a box of recipe cards.
“Your grandfather is in the study,” Violet said after Dorothy had asked.
“Thanks, grandma,” Dorothy said, taking in Violet’s serious expression before leaving the room.
Dorothy was crossing the sitting room and had stopped in the foyer, just across from the study when she remembered the ability some in her family had of being able to see into a person’s mind.  Tahatan had that ability and earlier today, I was even able to read Grandpa’s mind a little.  What if they know of my plans with Carl?  But if they did, would they object?  I’d like to think they’d understand…
Dorothy drew in a breath and slowly pushed open the study door.  She saw Gerard look up from what he was reading and regard her warmly.
“Come in, sweetheart,” he said.
“Thanks.”
She shut the door and crossed over to the easy chair that was near the desk.  As she sat down, Gerard asked, “Are you feeling any better?”
Dorothy thought for a moment.  How much should she reveal?  But a look into her grandfather’s eyes immediately caused her to feel badly for want to hide from him.  She had no reason to not trust him.
“Physically, I’m feeling better,” she replied and noticed her voice shaking as she spoke.
Gerard frowned and then turned his gaze back down to the desk.  “A blessing and curse for our family is having the ability to see things.  And sometimes more than that.”
Dorothy felt chills prickle against the material of her flannel nightgown as her grandfather continued.
“When your grandmother and I received word that you were in the hospital and that your parents, Tahatan, and the priest were all missing…I could feel that this wasn’t a mere case of abduction and that those police investigators, as well-intended as I would hope they are, weren’t going to find shit when it came to locating everyone.”
Dorothy flinched at her grandfather’s words and she could feel her stomach turn.  “What are you saying, Grandpa?”
Gerard gave her an intense stare.  “I’m saying that it’s right for you to want to leave here.”
Dorothy’s heart lurched into her throat.  “Do you…?”
“Know?” Gerard finished and then nodded.  “I had a feeling.  I saw Carl’s eyes when he left tonight.  I didn’t need to be told anymore.”
“Grandpa…I’m so sorry!  I didn’t mean to lie to you and Grandma.  Honest!  But I can’t take it anymore and you, Grandma Blake, and even Grandpa and Grandma Whitman can stay here forever!”
“Dorothy,” Gerard said holding his hand up, “don’t apologize.  Under normal circumstances, I can’t say I would approve of such a thing.  But I actually think you would be better off now living over with the Turners, at least until more is figured out.  I think I can speak for not only myself but your grandmother and parents when I say that if you are going to live with Carl and his family, we would prefer you two being married.  And I wouldn’t see Carl’s parents disagreeing either.”
Dread began to fill Dorothy.  “Why, Grandpa?  Why do you say that it would be better?  Do you know why my parents disappeared?  Please, tell me!”
Gerard paused and drew in a breath.  “I have tried for the passed few nights to locate everyone.  I haven’t been able to get very far as my ability to mentally travel is not as strong as Tahatan’s and definitely not as strong as the abilities Howahkan, Sunkwa, or my mother had.  I have felt your father’s presence though I couldn’t tell you where he is.  Tahatan and Father Louis…they are also in a world outside of this one trying to locate your father.”
“And my mom?”
Gerard sadly shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I haven’t felt anything from her.  I’m sorry.”
“But she could still be alive, right?” Dorothy said.  “Maybe she’s somewhere you can’t reach.”
“Perhaps.”
There was silence between them as Dorothy recalled seeing her mother in the doorway of her bedroom as she sliced her own throat and wrists.  Her mother’s words came back to her.  “It’s better this way.”
Dorothy shuddered as Gerard asked, “Dorothy, what is it?”
She felt she had to tell her grandfather about what she had seen that night.  She still hadn’t told anyone of what she had seen her mother do.  Not even Carl.  I have to tell someone or I’m going to go crazy…
Just like your great-grandma Maxine…
“Sweetheart, is everything alright?  What is that?”
He hears it too, just like Cletus did…
Before Dorothy could bring herself to say anything, she burst into tears.
“Dorothy…” Gerard said as he went over to comfort his granddaughter.  He gave her his handkerchief which she used to dry her face of the tears that spilled down.
She sobbed until her body couldn’t take it anymore and her eyes were dried up.  Gerard left to get her a glass of water.  When he returned, Dorothy said, “There’s so much I need to say, Grandpa.  So much I haven’t told anyone.”
“What is it, sweetheart?”
Dorothy took a long sip of water.  She set the glass down and drew in a deep breath.  “I saw my mother the night everyone disappeared.”
Gerard listened as she revealed what had happened with her mother shortly after her father and Tahatan had left.
“She fell to the floor right by my desk and then just disappeared!  Vanished!” she exclaimed.
Dorothy watched as her grandfather’s face grew even more grim.  She could see his eyes shifting as though he were making a decision on whether or not to inform her of something.  Gerard set his mouth in a line and said, “Dorothy…did anyone ever tell you of how your Aunt Roxanne died?”
Dorothy shook her head.
Gerard steadied himself.  “Well, there’s no easy way to say this…but your mother’s sister had been found the same way.”
Dorothy shook her head in disbelief.  “No…”
“Her throat was deeply cut, almost to the point of decapition.  She was found by the pond that was in back of the house she and her husband shared.”
Dorothy’s body shook as she brought her hand up to her mouth.
“Sweetheart, I’m sorry I had to tell you this and I can understand why your parents kept it from you.”
“Did anyone ever find out what happened?” Dorothy managed to say.
Gerard shook his head.  “It was ruled as an unsolved homicide and the case went cold.  As the case with my sister Willow’s disappearance did.  One thing I did find odd with Roxanne’s murder was that, according to your father, her husband was never questioned.  He and I would speak of this sometimes, when you and your mother were out of earshot.  Not that we had anything against Stu, but even when Willow disappeared the detectives stopped by our house a couple times to update my parents and ask them questions.  That’s normal procedure.  At least one would think.”
Grandpa, what do you think happened to my mother?”
“I’m afraid I can’t say I know.  But I can feel a dark presence nearby.  That is why I am not objecting to you leaving with Carl.”  Gerard paused briefly before he said, “And as much as it pains me to say this to you…I can’t say I trust Alice and Cyril either.”
Dorothy’s eyes widened and looked toward the study door.  “They haven’t returned yet, have they?  I didn’t see them anywhere when I came back down.”
“No, they are not back yet,” Gerard answered.  “Your grandma phoned the police as the Whitmans are out passed the town curfew.  Of course they are keeping an eye out for them and told her to phone them in the morning if Alice and Cyril haven’t returned.”
“Why don’t you trust them?” Dorothy asked, remembering Maxine’s diary upstairs in her desk drawer.
“Well first, the fact that they didn’t push the investigation with your Aunt Roxanne’s death the way you think a parent would if their child was found murdered.  Now I supposed back then I did try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps they were so grief-stricken they just wanted the whole thing forgotten.  People cope with tragedies differently, so who was I or anyone to judge?  But every now and then…I would think about the first day your father brought your mother out to meet the family and that would cause me to view the situation a little differently.”
“Why is that?”
Gerard gave Dorothy a small smile.  “Your mother…she was probably one of the sweetest, most polite young girls I had the pleasure of meeting.  But she was that when Violet and I met her.  A girl.  I wouldn’t have dared refer to her as a young woman when your father met her.  She seemed very sheltered and unworldly.  I could tell your father adored her and wanted to bring her out of her shell, which he did.  Little by little, she began to open up to us all more and it was nice to see her become more confident in herself.  Then, he went upstate to meet Cyril and Alice.  But he seemed so troubled the first time I saw him after his visit with them.  When I asked him how it all went, he went on about how Alice belittled her every move and that Cyril never did anything to stop it.”
“Sounds familiar,” Dorothy muttered.
Gerard nodded.  “I know, sweetheart.  Then, your grandma and I went up to meet them.  They would not come to our home, mind you.  We had to go to them.  Of course, we tried to be cordial but I could tell they had both already made up their minds that they were not at all fond of our family.  Especially when they saw me.”  Gerard indicated his American Indian traits.  “After that, your father wrote to your grandmother and I letting us know that the Whitmans did not approve of the union between him and Liz and forbade her from seeing him.  They were arranging for her to meet another young man whom they deemed as appropriate.  Therefore, Matthew stated to us in his letter that he and Liz were eloping.  I actually still have that letter.”
Dorothy’s jaw dropped at the shock she felt.  “But I’ve seen photos of their wedding…”
“That was the ceremony they had soon after for friends and family.  At that point, there was nothing Cyril and Alice could do.  Their daughter was already a married woman.  It was legally documented and sanctified by the Church.”
Dorothy was silent for a moment, taking everything in.  How much more was there to find out?  She then turned and looked back at her grandfather.  “You don’t think Grandpa and Grandma Whitman had anything to do with my parents disappearing…or Aunt Roxanne…do you?”
Gerard shrugged.  “I can’t really say that.  Only that I’ve never completely trusted them and now I’m feeling it stronger than I ever had.  I will say though that when I met Roxanne at your parents’ wedding, she and Stu were more than a little tipsy.  In fact, I could see Alice’s embarrassment despite her liking Stu and the Hawthorne family.  Anyone could see those two were a couple of the biggest lushes.  When Violet and I met them, we tried to be polite but they kept going on about talking to angels.  That was when Cyril had one of their drivers take them back to the hotel to sleep it off.  It struck me as odd that Cyril sent them back to the hotel so quickly.  After all, people drinking at weddings isn’t all that out of the ordinary and it wasn’t as though Stu and Roxanne were causing any real type of raucus.  But I did catch Tahatan looking at that entire family as if…well…as if there was something about them that didn’t sit well with him.  He liked Liz, but the rest of the family…he didn’t seem very sure of.  And yes, their mentioning talking to angels did make those in our family raise an eyebrow.  Those aren’t things we take lightly, given our background.”
“Tahatan’s grandfather left his body and never returned.  They say he was never able to find his way back,” Dorothy said.
“Yes, I remember that well.  I remember my mother trying to find him and to know avail.  They were twins, remember.  So it was especially hard on her.”
“That almost happened with Tahatan.  My friends and I…we could all see it.  The room was getting colder and there was something else entering the room.  But then my father recited this Ojibwe prayer and brought him back.”
“Your father still knows some old tricks,” Gerad said.
“You mean he knew more and he lost it?”
“I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘lost it.’  Your father left his element, I guess one can say.  He ended up working in a more corporate, Wall Street setting and that can take a toll on a person, especially in these times.  Now I don’t fault him for doing what he had to do to provide for him and Liz.  And then later on, you as well.  But I feel that working in a setting like that can be very soul-sucking, leaving a person very little time or energy to stay connected with their roots.”
“Do you think that’s why he never told me more of our family history?”
“That could be part of it.  But I also feel he tried to protect you for as long as he could.  I think he knew he had to tell you someday.  I remember him contacting me after you had that night terror when you were seven.  Of course he couldn’t tell you everything then.”
Dorothy began shivering at the memory of the creature and placed a protective hand over her injured side.  “It was the one that attacked me.  It came back…only this time I was wide awake.  Carl and his father saw it too so I know I’m not crazy.  And Cletus!  Now he’s seeing and hearing things too!  It doesn’t seem to be as much as mine, but still…Grandpa, is there a reason you don’t know what’s happening with Grandpa and Grandma Whitman and why they are not back yet?  Have you tried?”
Gerard sighed.  “Unfortunatly, I have tried.  But I can’t read anything.  It’s almost as though I’m being blocked from doing so.  But sweetheart, please.  After what happened at dinner yesterday…and what happened with my mother…I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid for you.”
Dorothy studied her grandfather, contemplating how to tell him everything else happening with her.  “How much do you know of Romania, Grandpa?  And the Fleming place not too far from here?”
“I know a little of both.  More of the Fleming property.  Talk about a place with a dark cloud over it.”   
“Are you familiar at all with the Alexandrescu family?”
“Sure.  They were a prominent family.”
“Well, I’ve seen them.  I’ve been to their castle…and for some reason, I think it connects with the Fleming place.”
Gerard listened as Dorothy told him of her experiences that began on Halloween and after both of her attacks.  She told him of the children she saw when she was thrown in into the closet up at the Fleming place before she had blacked out.  She told him of her dreamstate experiences and what she had seen, including the two gypsy boys and the dark-haired girl James Livingston tried to save from taking her own life.
“I think that girl is part of the Livingston family and I don’t know why I’m seeing her,” she said.
Dorothy then told Gerard of Tahatan’s findings on the possibility of some sort of underground tunnel or labyrinth beneath the Fleming Orphanage that led way beyond the property and then of her own findings that pertained to Lawrence Livingston’s story, The Child with the Black Eyes.  She paused when she came to Maxine’s diary but she was able to say, “I also think that there are connections between the Fleming place and my mother’s family.”
“You think so?” Gerard asked.
Dorothy fought with the difficulty of the realization.  “Tahatan found Maxine Fleming’s diary at the library.  I have to read more…but I think I found a connection.”  She stopped, drained but feeling better having gotten everything off her chest.  Perhaps this would make it easier to talk to everyone else tomorrow.  Especially Carl.
Gerad gently touched his granddaughter’s shoulder.  “Sweetheart, you look exhausted.  I know our discussions haven’t exactly been light as of late.”
“It’s alright,” she said.  “I’m glad we talked.  I do feel a little better.  That at least I’m not going crazy.  I’m still worried though and I don’t know what I’d do if mom…”
“I know,” Gerard said.
“But dad, Tahatan, and Father Louis are alive?”
“I could feel their essence which means most likely.”
Dorothy let out a sigh and looked at the clock.  It was almost 10:30.
“I better let you get to sleep,” Gerard said.  “You need rest if you are going to finish healing.  Your grandmother’s probably already gone up.”
Dorothy rose to standing and said, “Thank you, Grandpa.”
Gerard nodded.  “No problem, honey.  I know none of it was easy to hear but it’s better than leaving you in the dark wondering.  And I wouldn’t worry about Carl not understanding.  Give him a little more credit.”
“I know.  I’ve just been overwhelmed.”
“But Dorothy, please.  Watch yourself around Cyril and Alice.  That’s just a feeling I’m getting.  When Violet and I arrived here, the first thing I wanted to do was a smudging ritual on the house and maybe have a priest come.  But Alice made a scene over it saying that she didn’t want any Indian voodoo around her.  I smudged the house before you got here.  I was able to do it quickly while she was out of the house, but I think she knew.  If you’re going to leave with Carl…it’s probably not a bad idea.”
Dorothy nodded and hugged her grandfather.  “I love you, Grandpa.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
When she pulled back, she thought she could see tears forming in his eyes and was reminded of how Linda and Gail regarded her before they had left that evening.
Gerard gestured toward the door with his head.  “Go on, honey.  I’ll shut everything off down here and leave the porch and kitchen light on for Cyril and Alice.”
“Goodnight, Grandpa.”
“Goodnight, Dorothy.”
Dorothy left the room and stepped into the foyer.  She turned her head to see her grandfather with his right hand covering his eyes.
Dorothy returned to her bedroom, shutting the door as her heart ached for her grandfather.  Everything he’s been through in his life…and possibly more that hasn’t even been said…
Dorothy knew she had to get to sleep, but the diary of Maxine seemed to beckon to her.  She decided to steel herself and read some more entries.  She was still chilled by the last visit from her friends and then they way she and her grandfather had just parted.  There was something off and they all seemed to feel it.
Dorothy sat down in her desk chair and pulled the diary out.  She could hear Gerard ascending the stairs before heading down the hall to the guestroom.  Meanwhile, the master bedroom remained dark and empty.
“Alright, great-grandma,” she muttered, cringing slightly at the words.  “Do your worst.”
She opened the book to where she had left off which was Alice’s birth.
Jared says she resembles me, Maxine wrote.  And I do like the name the Singletons picked out for her.  Alice.  They were also thoughtful enough to have her share my middle name, even if spelled differently.
Dorothy stopped reading, taking a moment to breath before continuing.  The more she read on, the more it confirmed that the baby girl was, in fact, her grandma Whitman.  There were no more questions of it.
Maxine did seem to soften a little from the crass and vulgar woman she had turned into following her parents’ deaths.  Dorothy wondered again if and how much Tahatan knew of her grandmother’s parentage and how he had planned to break to her or if he was going to at all.  According to the entries, Jared and Maxine were going to return to the orphanage after staying with the Singletons for a week following Alice’s birth.
While it saddens me to leave my sweet little girl, this is for the best.  This is different from the time I gave my son up to Christian’s family as I have Jared now.  And Lila.  I can hardly wait to get home to her.  I have missed her with all my heart.
Dorothy looked up again, wondering if she even wanted to read further and discover who Lila was.  She remembered being at Alexandrescu Castle after her first time in the hospital and witnessing the beginning of what looked like Dmitri and Lucinda about to share another man between them.  Dorothy shook her head at the memory.
What’s wrong with only having one partner in life? she thought.
For Dorothy, Carl was more than enough.  But she kept reading and sure enough, the following entry gave more details on who Lila and Pierre were.
I never imagined I could enjoy a woman’s company, Maxine had written.  I met her through Pierre and was hesitant when I realized that she had a preference for women. It wasn’t long, however, before I began to enjoy her company immensely.
Pierre gave me comfort after losing Christian and the son that he and I had but it was Lila who truly brought me back to life and healed me.  She has shown me warmth I haven’t experienced since my first time being with Christian.  Jared understands and does not mind me seeing her and I love him for that.  Lila also understands that in some ways, I need Jared too.  Pierre gave me what I needed, more than once.  It is so wonderful to be free of Mother and Father.  I will confess that I do still think of Christian sometimes and have even considered writing him.  I still at times imagine what life may have been like with him.
Dorothy rubbed her eyes and looked toward the doorway.  She began taking Tahatan’s writings out from the drawer when she felt her eyelids becoming heavy.

Dorothy found herself in the red hallway again.  She walked down the carpeted hall, taking in the intricate gold designs on the wall.  She could feel an eerie presence hovering somewhere around her.  She looked ahead to find the end of the corridor, but it stretched far beyond what she could see.
Dorothy stopped when she came to a white door.  The same door she had stopped at previously, but this time a small stone gargoyle head adorned it.
I don’t recall that being here before…
The gargoyle seemed to breathe as it stared into her and for a second, it appeared as though it took on the shape of a demon head.  There was something keeping her from taking her eyes from it.  As she stared at it, the gargoyle’s eyes began to glow red and Dorothy felt her hand reaching out to grasp the doorknob.  She turned the knob and pushed it open.  A frozen, winter cemetery lay open before her.  A stone path led from the doorway of the corridor and out between the field of tombstones.  Dorothy stepped out, feeling her barefeet on the cold stone though it did not bother her.  She began walking up the path.  To her left, she saw a large statue of the Greek god, Pan.  The granite likeness was lined with white snow and its eyes seemed to watch her as the ancient god played his pipe.  Dorothy regarded the statue for another moment before moving away and up the path.  She never bothered to look back but she could feel Pan’s eyes on her.
She came to a small set of five steps with two short pillars on the side.  Dorothy noticed the stone owls that sat on top of the pillars as she ascended them.  When she got to the last one, she looked out to the sprawling graveyard that didn’t seem to have an end.  But then she noticed something.  The Livingston Mausoleum.
Dorothy walked over to it as quickly as she could, happy to find something that was familiar.  That was when she noticed the girl there.  The small darkhaired Livingston girl.  Despite the winter scenery, the girl was not wearing a coat.  Instead, the girl wore a short black pleated skirt that came to about mid-thigh (even for Bernice that skirt would likely be too risqué) with dark purple opaque tights and black lace up knee-high boots that looked like something out of the Victorian era.  The girl’s black sweater was fitted and had white skulls below the collar.  Her thick black hair hung down to her waist and her makeup was dark.
Well she certainly doesn’t dress like anyone I know…
Dorothy watched as the girl ascended the stairs to the mausoleum.  She tried calling out to her, but her voice seemed to get lost on this terrain.  Dorothy walked toward the girl, hoping to catch up to her.  She tried calling out again as the girl playfully weaved in and out of the pillars that lined the Livingston Mausoleum.  By the time Dorothy reached the large stone structure, the girl had already turned the corner.  Dorothy ascended the steps, walking down the pillared platform as she tried to catch up to the girl.  But she came to a halt when she reached the other side and the Plains cemetery stretched out before her.