September 17, 2012
The last thing in the world Jack would have expected was to get a message from his mother. He hadn’t seen her much since his father passed and she had moved in with her sister in Saint Paul . Jack hadn’t owned a cell phone in his life, but he did have an old email mail account. Mostly he avoided checking it because he didn’t want to have to explain himself to a few lingering people that might care.
But his mother’s message sounded urgent. She wasn’t just worried over where he was or what might be happening to him. She sounded like she needed help. “I need you to come here as quickly as you can,” the note had stated. It had been written a full week ago. When he tried the last number he had for his mother, the call wouldn’t go through.
He dropped the receiver back onto the cradle of the pay phone and walked into the hotel lobby. Fingers massaged his worried brow for a moment. I shouldn’t be too worried. She might just be short on money of suffering from normal health problems. She is growing older after all.
Still, he couldn’t help feeling concerned. Everywhere he turned, Xemmoni plagued him. It could be quite possible that she might be targeted simply because of her relationship to him. Another issue was the city itself. Xemmoni breed thick in the cities and the overpopulated regions became death traps for Stalwarts, especially Stalwarts like him that were on their own. Things have been tough enough for me in the sticks, I’m not sure what going back into a city will be like.
But it was his mother, so what real choice did he have? With her phone down as well, he would have no choice but to head there himself. Minutes later, he had stuffed his meager belongings into his duffel and headed to his new ride.
The cold hit him like a giant’s fist. He rushed to poor Hank’s truck, feeling extremely thankful that he had more than just his motorcycle. The old Ford’s heater did little more than keep frostbite away as he headed off onto the snow swept highway.
He tried to tell himself that this was just another annoyance, just another distraction keeping him from returning to Vile Darken and completing what he had failed to do. Part of him felt secretly thankful that he had an excuse not to face that evil yet, but what really burned in his gut was concern for his mother.
The letter was a week old. What might have happened to her since then? Was she still okay? Such thoughts clawed at him as the truck picked up speed and headed east.
Looking at his reflection in the mirror, a scarred taciturn man stared back at him. Would his mother even know him now? “Three bloody years,” he mumbled. He held off from swearing at himself, if only just barely. Behind him, he was dark clouds building in the west. “Storm coming. I better try to beat it.” His foot grew heavy and his speed increased as the arcs of snows danced on the pavement before him.
September 10, 2012
Carrie rushed toward her possessed husband. Even as Jack tried to round the table, he knew there wouldn’t be enough time. “Carrie, no! You’ve seen what they did. Have I tired to kill anyone? I’ve just been-”
“He’s insane,” the Ravor possessing John’s body said. If Carrie hadn’t been so traumatized she might have heard the lack of emotion, the evenness of the words. Her husband would have screamed for help, to save the children, but the Ravor might as well have been discussing the weather.
The wounded body of her husband lifted his bounds for her to cut. Carrie rushed in, but at the last moment, the Ravor flung itself forward and embedded its throat through the sharp knife.
Even as he raced forward, Jack realized that in a sick and evil way the Xemmoni’s action made sense. John had a fractured leg and with all the beating Jack had just given him, the body was badly battered and broken. Carrie’s body was fresh and a woman with small children would hardly receive much notice when it came time for the villains to move on.
Without slowing, Jack tackled Carrie getting her away from her dying husband’s body. She was still screaming, so Jack knew the possession had not taken hold. He managed a glance behind his shoulder and saw a foul greasy colored fog moving out of John’s twitching form. It hovered like a cobra waiting to strike and then slunk toward them.
Jack felt at a loss. How could he stop mist? But if he didn’t figure out a way, Carrie would be possessed, then what would happen to her kids? They had already lost their father.
“Get behind me,” he said through clenched teeth. Fear cut through her pain and she crawled backwards toward the stair.
“It is useless, Jack,” a hollow voice cried from Ed’s body. Carrie screamed as the bound man tried to lunge at her.
“What does it take to keep one of you unconscious?”
As if in answer, Ed began to smash his head against the stairs. “Oh no you don’t. I’m not going to let you possess one of these kids!” Jack yelled, as he grabbed the body one handed and threw it at the approaching mist.
Suddenly the body began to jerk and spasm. A moment later, it was having a full on seizure. Ed’s body flopped and smacked the floor with loud bangs. Fingers broke and blood leaked from his mouth.
Carrie stared wide eyed. “What’s happening?”
“I was just trying to keep the one in Ed from killing the body, but maybe something happens if two Ravors possess the same body or get too close to each other.”
The seizure had slowed, but Ed’s body only had a blank stare. If it wasn’t for the shallow breathing, Jack might have thought that Ed’s body was as dead as his mind.
“What should we do with it?” Carrie asked.
“You got a basement?”
Jack stayed to be sure the big Ford made it to the road and then followed behind Carrie and their children until they reached the Sheriff. They had already said their goodbyes and Jack had made it clear that he couldn’t be involved with the police.
In return for his help, she was letting him take her brother’s pickup, which still held his snow covered motorcycle.
He pulled up to her as she exited the truck. Snow fell between them as he said, “Good luck through this. I’m sorry it all had to happen.”
“My mother always spoke about how there were more dangers in the hills than people wanted to admit. I guess we found ourselves some.”
“More like they found you.”
She nodded. “Are you sure you can’t stay?”
“In some people’s eyes, I just murdered a few people. I think I should keep moving, besides, there’s something important I still have to do—something I left unfinished.”
She nodded again and turned her back to him. He watched her walk off for a moment, but then headed back onto the storm-battered road.
* * *
Consciousness came and went. It fluttered and broke. Two minds inside one body. It left them weak—unable to move. In one brief moment of clarity one of the Ravors gained some control. He tried to move, but found he couldn’t. Each limb was completely confined.
Something was tapped over its nose, but it could still smell the damp earth. It was just able to move the fingers of one hand enough to sense it was buried. Something was jammed down its throat. It felt like some sort of breathing tube. Its fingers moved again and felt resistance.
Plastic. His body was buried in some sort of plastic coffin. The air was growing thinner, the body wouldn’t last much longer, but if the plastic container had been sealed, they wouldn’t be able to escape. And it the body couldn’t move it wouldn’t be able to free them before it perished.
Rage owned the Ravors. They cursed and spat evil words at each other. Blame and threats were flung.
One day the makeshift coffin would decay or, even better, be opened. All they had to do was wait. Years. Decades. They had waited longer.
Outside of the buried plastic box and the sealed garbage bags, and the duct tape and the yards of packed Earth, the cement on the new wall of bricks was just beginning to dry.