Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Reverse Haunting (No title yet) – Kevin: 4

What Kevin sees is not a shadow on Juan’s face.  It looks very much like someone removed his face, scooped everything out of his head, and created a window into a vast nothingness.  Kevin doesn’t take any time to make sense of what he is seeing.  He shrieks, stumbles back toward the door, and immediately turns around to flee this madness.  As he runs away, he hears, “Are you crazy?”

Kevin stops, takes a few steps back to the bedroom, turns on the light, and looks in.  Juan’s face looks completely normal although confused as he says, “What the hell is wrong with you? You almost gave me a heart attack.”

He really shouldn’t joke about heart attacks.  Kevin gives him an uneasy smile as his heart is still beating a hundred times a second.  “No face.”


“Black… face,” Kevin manages to mutter, knowing that it might be even more confusing.

Juan shakes his head like he is trying to dislodge some of his thoughts.  “I’m glad you’re finally awake.  Step inside and close the door.  I need to tell you something.”

Kevin just stares at him and doesn’t move.

“What is up with you!?” Juan demands.

“Before I turned the light on, you looked like you were turning into one of those things,” Kevin says, now that he has calmed down a little.

Juan looks even more confused.  “If anything, I’m the one who should think you are turning into something.  You knocked on my door and when I opened it, you were just standing there staring at nothing.”

Now Kevin has the confused expression.

Juan continues, “I’m telling you.  You were just standing at the door completely still with one hand in the position it was in when you were knocking.  You stood there for what had to be about 5 or 6 minutes.  You weren’t responding to anything I said, so I figured you were in one of your catatonic states.”

“You’re talking crazy.  I’m not catatonic.”

“Of course you’re not right now.  We’re having a conversation.  But you do have your moments.  It’s like you freeze in the middle of doing something and just stay there for a while.  On a few occasions, I picked you up and you put on the couch because I was scared you might fall and hit your head.  I thought about getting one of Jenn’s giant dildos and putting it in your hand but figured that would be too cruel.  But yeah, it happens, just not very often.”

Kevin is very troubled by this revelation.  “How long have I been doing this?”

“Since we first met.  It happened a lot less back then.”

“Shit, man!  You didn’t think to mention something like that to me!?”

Juan shrugs.  “Why would I?  I figured it was something you knew about.  Since I barely knew you, it would have been out of place to ask you about something that was probably very personal.”

“Yeah but after you got to know me over time you would think a friend would show some concern,” Kevin says with irritation.  Kevin thinks about how he occasionally loses time daydreaming and wonders if that is when it happens.

“Look, we figured that was your thing and it didn’t seem like a big deal because it would only last a few seconds at best.  This time is the longest I have ever seen you frozen.  Since Jenn has known you longer, she might know more.”

That hadn’t occurred to Kevin.  If anyone should have brought it up, Jenn should have been the main one.  Kevin grew angrier at Jenn.  She doesn’t talk about herself much, but she is always candid when it comes to talking about him.

“This is my first time hearing about this.  Ever.  What if I had blacked out while driving?”

“Well, that would have been a problem, but you didn’t have a car, and I don’t recall ever seeing you drive anything since day one.”  Juan’s face changes like he suddenly remembers something.  “We can talk about this later.  I really need you to step inside and close the door.”

Kevin remembers that he met Juan only a couple of months before the whole world went to shit, and cars stopped working at that time.  He has known Jenn much longer and doesn’t recall her ever mentioning anything about catatonic episodes.  Maybe it is somehow related to these shadow creatures.  Am I turning into one?  Kevin shakes off the absurd thought.  He starts to close the door and then stops.  “Is closing the door really necessary?  What if you lose your face again and attack me before I can get out?”

“Yes, it is.  And I promise not to lose… my face.  Trust me.”

“Trust is something in short supply lately.  How ‘bout this.  If you happen to see me do anything unusual, I mean anything, like go catatonic, sprout wings, howl at the moon, would you be kind enough to tell me about it right away?”

“Will do.  Now can we get to the important stuff?”

Kevin is visibly annoyed by the dismissal but closes the door as instructed.  “OK then.  What’s so important?”

Juan lowers his voice to a whisper and says, “Listen, I think something is up with Jenn.   I think she’s hiding something.”

“No shit, Sherlock!” Kevin exclaims loudly, “She’s secretive about almost everything.”

“Dammit keep your voice down,” Juan whispers angrily.

Kevin can tell by the look on Juan’s face that it might be something serious, so he sits down next to Juan and decides to play along.  “Alright, what’s going on?” he whispers.

“Listen.  On days that Jenn leaves, she doesn’t always stay on the main road.  Sometimes she goes down that old trail with the broken ‘Keep Out’ sign.”

“How do you know that?  Did you come out the house to follow her?  How on earth did you keep her from seeing your big ass?”

“That’s not really important.  The main thing is that she does this when she’s going to get food and supplies.  As far as I know, that trail just goes deeper into the woods.  There’s no way to…”  Juan stops and looks toward the door for a short time before continuing.  “There’s no way to get back to the main road without going through miles of forest.  That wouldn’t make sense when she could just use the road instead.”

“So what do you think is her deal?” Kevin asks with more curiosity than before.

“Well, she always comes back with several bags of groceries and I can’t see her walking several miles through thick woods like that.  My guess is that there is another cabin in the woods where that trail once lead or…”


“Or there is another road beyond that trail where she meets someone,” Juan concludes.

Kevin ponders the implications and is still unsure why she would go through great pains to conceal where or how she gets groceries.  He already knows that there are a number of people still alive in town, so there’s nothing surprising about getting food and supplies from someone.  It’s not a big deal to him who that person might be.  He pressed her about her connections a while back, in case something were to happen to her.  He remembers her making an odd comment about how he and Juan would both die if something happened to her.  He is now thinking about possibly grilling her to find out more about what she does each day and why.

“So let’s both question her about it,” Kevin suggests.

Juan shakes his head, “That’s exactly what we should not do.”

“OK, what do you suggest?”

“I think you should wait for her to go to sleep.”

“And do what to her?” Kevin asked in disbelief.

Juan looks at Kevin sideways.  “Anyway.  Since you can’t follow her during the day without either being seen or getting yourself killed, we should make sure she is fully asleep.  That is very important.  Then you should grab a couple of flashlights and any other gear you need and head down that road.  Once you reach that pathway, clear it as much as you can and go down that road as far as you can or until you find something.  Once you find what you need, come on back.”

“Maybe I should snag her digital camera and bring it along,” Kevin suggests.  He is starting to get a little excited about the idea of some cloak and dagger action to break the monotony.  It might even decrease his insistent urge to play with blades.

“If you can do it without waking her, then go ahead.”

“If she wakes up, just tell her I went for a stroll.”

Juan looks at him admonishingly, “She cannot be awake when you do this.  She…  She seems to ‘know things’ when she’s not asleep.”

“What?  You mean awake like she is now.”  Kevin starts to wonder about Juan’s sanity.  At the same time, his own sanity can be called into question too.

“Yes.  Do you ever listen to her when she is rambling?”

“I do whatever I can not to listen to her crazy ass when she’s going on and on.  It’s like a cat trying to climb a metal flagpole.”

“That’s one of your biggest problems.  You hear but never listen,” Juan scolds him.

“Thanka yoo, sensei,” Kevin says with an offensive accent, “I wirr try much, much hahda to risten nexa time.”

Juan ignores the provocation, “When you think she’s rambling you really need to listen to what she is saying.  What sounds like gibberish really contains a lot more important stuff than you realize.”

“Do you know how you sound right now?  Tell me, does this happen when you smoke with her.”

“You’re the one who always complains about what she doesn’t tell you, but she tells you things all the time and you don’t even realize it.”

“So she kicks out these riddles that I’m supposed to solve in order to find my way to the Ark of the Covenant?  Better yet, will they help me get out of this fucking prison?”

“You act like a goddamned jackass at some of the worst times.  And lower your voice.”

“Maybe you can inform me of the most convenient time for jackassery.”

“Look, if you want to find a way out of this hell, wait until she is sleep, then go down that road.  If it’s not that important to you then sit in the cabin and just rot.”

“Like you, sensei?  I suppose it doesn’t take much effort.”

Juan’s face reddens.  Kevin realizes that he needs to stop with the snide comments.

“OK I’ll do it when she’s fast asleep,” Kevin says as he gives in, “Before I forget, what were you doing for the last hour or so before I knocked on the door?”

“I was sleep.  Why?”

“Jenn and I saw the really big shadow thing that I thought was after me last night.  I was wondering if you heard it clawing at the doors and windows.”

“It apparently wasn’t loud enough to…”

A loud knock at the bedroom door startles both of them.

“Honeys, I’m home,” says Jenn’s muffled, monotone voice through the door, “Can I come in or are you two still boinkin’ in there.”

“No, you missed all of our hot, sweaty boinking,” Juan says, “Come on in.”

They hear the knob twist a few times, but it doesn’t open.

“It’s locked,” Jenn replies.

Kevin hops up to unlock the door.  When it swings open, Jenn meekly waves and mouths the word ‘Hello’.  Then she plops down at the foot of the bed and sits hunched over with her arms and elbows close together resting on her knees.

“So what are we meeting about?” Jenn asks suspiciously.

“Meeting?  You call this a meeting?” Kevin says.

“Well, I can’t imagine any other reason why you would be locked in a room talking,” Jenn says with an accusatory tone.

“Kevin was just telling me about the large shadow thing you two saw earlier,” Juan says.

Jenn seems even more suspicious.  “Was that all he was telling you about?”

“Yup,” Kevin and Juan respond almost at the same time.

“Why lock the door then?” Jenn asks.

“Kevin probably locked it back without thinking because I had it locked, like usual, before he came in,” Juan replies

“Without thinking," 
Jenn says flatly, "Huh.”

They sit there in silence for a long time.  The tension probably could only be cut with an axe.  Kevin and Juan wait for Jenn to respond, but she just sits there staring at the floor.

Jenn startles them when she finally says, “OK.  You kids get back to it.  I need to get some sleep.  I have a long day at the office tomorrow.”

She gets up without looking at them and shuts the door behind her.  Kevin and Juan can only look at each other like they both just got in trouble for stealing cookies.

Kevin eventually whispers, “Do you think she heard anything.”

“I’m pretty sure she didn’t,” Juan concludes.

“OK.  I’ll go up front till its time.”

Kevin leaves Juan’s room and notices Jenn’s door slightly ajar.  He almost walks over to say ‘good-night’ but then thinks better of it.  He heads over to the couch instead and lies down, staring at the ceiling.  He needs to find something to do until Jenn goes to sleep, otherwise he’ll doze off too.

Copyright 2018 Darrell Winfrey

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Reverse Haunting (No title yet) – Kevin: 3

Kevin and Jenn continue to watch as the skeletal shadow walks around the outside of the house checking windows and scratching at doors.  Kevin notices that its walk is not really as bouncy as he originally expected.  With each step, its legs seem to crunch and break into joints under its weight only to crack back into place to extend to the next step.  The sound of creaking wood seems to emanate from all of its joints.

With his eyes glued to the shadow creature, Kevin whispers to Jenn, “What the hell is that thing?  Have you ever seen one before?”  When he looks back at Jenn, he sees the fearful expression gone and now replaced by what appears to be relief.  This strikes him as odd, but he doesn’t ask her about it.

Jenn nods her head slowly.  Kevin starts to ask another question but Jenn shakes her head slowly and puts a finger to her lips.  Kevin figures that she is trying not to make any noticeable movements as she cuts her eyes toward the creature.  Kevin slowly turns his head the same direction and notices that the creature is still as a statue behind the gate.  He can’t tell if he is looking at the front or back of its featureless form.  He can only assume that it is looking in their direction.  Kevin remains frozen and holds his breath a very long time.  He holds it as long as he can before having to slowly and silently let it out.  He almost gasps and puts his hand over his mouth after the creature suddenly turns and starts walking toward the right side of the cabin.

Kevin looks back at Jenn who is already looking at him with a very concerned look.  Kevin gives her a ‘what now?’ look to which Jenn responds by silently mouthing the words, ‘Don’t move’.  They wait in the dark until they hear the sound of the large centipede rustling away.  Kevin’s legs feel stiff from standing in the same position for so long.  He imagines them breaking in several places, like the shadow creature’s legs, once he starts walking.

They creep up the path toward the gate.  Kevin starts to open the gate as Jenn veers off to the right.  He hears Jenn hiss and looks over to see her shaking her head vigorously.  She beckons for him to follow her as she continuous on the outer perimeter of the fence.  When they can see that nothing or no one is in front of the cabin, they continue around the fence a little faster.  They probably could have slipped between the horizontal members of the farm-style fence, but the tight fit might prove fatal if something were to come after them.

When they make it to the front gate, which is already open, Jenn stops and stares down the road as if she is waiting for something.

“Come on inside,” Kevin whispers urgently.

Jenn starts speaking in normal voice that startles Kevin because of how loud it sounds, “You go in, and lock the door.  I’ll be there in a minute.”  She starts to walk down the dirt road.

“I’m coming with you,” Kevin says right before he starts feeling dizzy.

“No!  You need to go inside,” Jenn says enunciating each word as she waves him off like a child.

Kevin wants to argue but his brain feels a little scrambled at the moment.  He walks to the porch, occasionally looking back at Jenn who is now walking very fast down the dark road.  Kevin unlocks the door, goes in, and locks it back as instructed.  Kevin is a little worried about her for a second before reassuring himself that she always seems to do quite well on her own.  He looks at the door frame and chain and thinks, It’s not professional-looking work, but Jenn did a pretty good job fixing it.  Kevin notices that the house is much cleaner than it was before he went to sleep.  There’s no way Juan did this.  Then he remembers that he hasn’t seen or heard from Juan since he woke up.  He walks over to Juan’s bedroom door and knocks.

“Get your lazy ass up, man!” Kevin says sternly.

He puts his ear to the door and listens.  He doesn’t hear a sound, so he knocks again and waits.  There is still no sound that he can hear through the door.  Kevin starts getting a little concerned, but figures Juan might have his headphones on.  Even then Juan will usually yell something derogatory when we bang on the door.   He knocks again and listens, but there is still no sound coming from the other side.

“OK, dude.  You’re starting to worry me,” Kevin says and pauses before saying, “NOT!”

Kevin tries to hide the uneasiness in his voice.  He looks toward the bathroom but doesn’t check it when he remembers that Juan’s bedroom door only locks from inside when the door is already closed.  He tries to twist the knob again to confirm.

“I must have caught you in there pulling on your noodle to pictures of sea mammals.  I guess I’ll see you when you get done.  Just wash your hands first.”

Kevin is worried, but decides not to break another door.  He goes to the kitchen to look for something to eat.  He looks in the pantry and finds Raman Noodles, canned beans, sardines, and cereal among many other assorted items that don’t necessarily make a meal together.  He chooses cereal and uses the last of the milk.

As Kevin sits there, his mind starts to wander.  He thinks about a recurring dream that has never made any sense to him.

In the dream, he is near a river that is flowing quickly.  He can only guess that he is a toddler because a nearby folding chair is so large, he would have to climb onto it to sit down.  Sitting near him on the shore is a man whose face looks like a blur that has wispy smoke trails the same color as his skin rising from it.  An older little boy, with a face having the same smoky blur to it, is standing near the man.  They are talking loudly to each other in a language that sounds like it should be English, but very few of the words are recognizable.

After a while the man grabs the little boy by the jacket.  There is more gibberish yelling until the little boy pulls away and falls down.  He then gets up and starts running along the river bank.  The man chases after him yelling something loudly.  He then finds himself walking toward the river and following them along the bank before the dream fades.  It always seems to end there, although he feels like the original dream was much longer.

After breaking from his daydream, Kevin looks down and notices that his cereal is completely soggy.  How long have I been sitting here?  Before he can take a bite, the click of a lock makes him turn his head toward the front door.  He watches it, waiting for Jenn to come in, but realizes that the sound came from another part the house after he hears a door creak open.  Juan’s bedroom door is not visible from the kitchen, so Kevin yells in that direction.

“Damn, man, I thought you were in there dead!”

No answer or any other sounds come from the room. “Juan?”

Kevin gets up and slowly walks toward the bedrooms.  Jenn’s door is closed and he can’t see Juan’s door until he rounds the corner.  “Juan?” he calls again while trying to keep his voice from sounding shaky.  He pushes the door open, allowing the dim light to slowly reveal what is in the room.  When the door is almost completely opened, he can see Juan sitting on the edge of his bed, facing away with his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands.  He is unnaturally still and doesn’t seem to notice Kevin entering the room.

“You OK?” Kevin asks cautiously.

The room is mostly dark and Juan still sits on the bed without moving a muscle.  Kevin creeps over to him and reaches out to touch him, but before he can get close, Juan puts his hands down and quickly turns around in a jerky, robotic manner.  Kevin shrieks at what he sees.  Where Juan’s face should be is a hole of pure darkness that is darker than any night sky could ever be.  On the outer edges are thin, dark tendrils extending away from the hole as they wave ominously.

Copyright 2018 Darrell Winfrey