A Friends Short Stories

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A Friends Short Stories

Post by hategirl » Sat Aug 19, 2006 1:33 am

2 short stories written by my friend Dave, 2006. please tell me what you think!

Between The Trees

Johnny Evans went for a walk in the woods the night before his eighteenth birthday.

He didn't have any problems sneaking out. His parents were sound asleep in their room down the hall. He'd been in the front room, half asleep watching late night television when he was struck with the sudden desire to leave.

The clock read a few minutes to midnight as he sat in his room, hurriedly lacing up his shoes. He grabbed his coat and headed out the door, out into the cold, October night.

Johnny had no idea why the concept of eighteen scared him. Scared him? It freaked him out. It terrified him so much he got cold sweats just thinking about it.

And so, with his birthday only a few minutes away, the utter finality of it was hanging over his head. He was going to be eighteen; nothing left after that but the rest of his life.

For as long as he could remember, Johnny always approached his birthdays with a sense of melancholy and dread. Maybe it was because his birthday was in autumn, the time of the year when all that was green turned red and gold, a precursor to it's death in the winter.

Adults often remarked how much more mature Johnny was than most kids his age. Knowing how empty and pointless the world is does that to you every time.

It wasn't a couple of weeks before his birthday that he began to feel a sense of panicked urgency. It was coming; his eighteenth birthday. The day he became a man, in the eyes of the law.

The day when he started to die.

But that didn't bother him so much as what he actually wanted to do with his life. He had no idea what was going to happen to him after graduation, not to mention how he was going to spend the next five, six, or maybe even seven decades of his life. Give or take the calamities of violence, disease, or accident, that was about what kind of time he was looking at.

And then what? Who knew, that's what. Try as he might, Johnny couldn't shake the feeling that nothing happened after we died. We just went out, like weak candles in a strong gust of wind, and then to rot.

Those were the thought snapping at his heels as he walked briskly through the neighborhood, towards town. Johnny didn't care where he went, really, as long as it was away.

He shuddered, wrapping his coat tighter around him. It wasn't even mid-winter yet, and already it was cold enough to cut through the second hand jacket he was wearing. His breath came out in faint, transparent blasts of fog, his hands chilled to the bone, as well as the tip of his nose.

He pumped his legs faster, determined to stay warm.

Johnny walked long and far that night. He passed through the sleepy clusters of silent, darkened homes that made up the residential district of his hometown. A wooden bridge, set above a brook, always babbling, churning with treacly water, separated him from the town. He crossed it, chasing the thoughts that ran through his head.

Why was he even out here? He was trying to sort out why he was so unhappy, and he was hoping being out here, in the bitter cold, would help him. If he had to be honest, he'd say he was waiting for some kind of quick-fix, life changing epiphany; something that would make him instantly happy.

If anything, it only made him even more depressed, more despairing. He looked up at the sky, wanting to see further into the night than he ever dared before, searching for something he'd never believed in his entire life, imploring help he knew would never come.

Suddenly Johnny's foot caught on something. For a brief moment, he had the impression he was flying. He hit the ground, hard. Something hot and warm trickled down his forehead, dripping onto the cold, cold concrete.

Johnny closed his eyes and held his breath. Except for the painful throbbing in his skull, the stinging of small pebbles imbedded in his cheek, and the sounds of the dull roar of midnight traffic coming from the freeway, which ran parallel to town, and the slow and steady beat of his heart, Johnny was dead.

He let his breath out in a great whoosh. He sat up, feeling very stupid. Johnny lifted up a hand to his forehead. A thin streak of blood covered his fingers. He winced as a sharp spasm of pain coursed through his head. It felt like his head was caving in. Johnny groaned as he got to his feet. That's it, he remembered thinking. That's it, I'm going home and going to sleep. I'm going to get up tomorrow and have a very, merry-

That's when he heard the singing. A sad, plaintive, beautiful song that carried faintly on the wind. He turned his head to the left. The song vanished, fading away to a mute whisper. He turned his head to his right and it was back, louder, stronger, sadder. But he saw where it was coming from.

Johnny's blood turned to ice. The night suddenly seemed colder than it really was. His hands trembled, and suddenly Johnny wished that he'd never left the house.

It was coming from the forest. As long as Johnny could remember, the forest had been off-limits. It lay on the outskirts of town, across a vast meadow that was tall with overgrown grass. Johnny thought of all the times he'd been down there, with his friends. They'd played soccer and baseball and football in the meadow, but a few of them occasionally stole down to the edge of the woods.

Even now, looking at it as a young man, it looked dark and imposing, the way the trees knitted themselves together so tightly, it looked as if not a sliver of light could escape. As a boy, barely ten years ago, really, the line of trees always filled him with a kind of dread that made the imaginary terrors that haunted his childhood closets pale in comparison.

What scared him the most was how innocent and inviting it looked, up close, in the daylight. In the autumn, with the leaves the many colors of red, yellow, black, and pale frosting the canopy, the trees seemed pastoral, timeless. In spring and summer, the woods appeared wild and full of life.

But he could never look at those line of trees without feeling an undercurrent of apprehensiveness, no matter the season.

And that's where he was headed. Johnny trudged through the field of dewy grass, headed inexorably toward the forest. The singing was the most beautiful thing he'd ever heard, and the desire to be next to the one singing was intense.

It seemed to him that as he approached the forest, there came a point when he could've turned back. That song was coursing through his head, beating against his eardrums. The air stilled for a moment, and the hold that voice had on him vanished. If he wanted, he coudl turn back. It was time to make his choice.

But he'd already made it, hadn't he? He plunged into the forest, passing from the world he knew to the one he didn't.

Walking in that forest was like walking on the dark side of the moon. The light of the full moon did not penetrate the branches and trees that loomed overhead. Johnny walked carefully, not being able to see more than five feet in front of his face.

He stepped carefully over the roots of trees, which rose up jaggedly out of the ground. There was an oppressive atmosphere in the woods, which seemed to resent, yet welcome his presence. You are here, it acknowledged, but you are unwelcome. But if you want to, you can stay here as long as you like. Forever, and ever, and ever...

Johnny shook his head. Why would he think of something like that? What was he even doing here? The siren song that had lured him in there had faded with each passing step until it was nothing but a dull, unpretty whisper in his head.

There was nothing keeping him here. He could turn around and go home if he wanted. His nice, warm bed was waiting for him. He could go right to sleep, wake up, and he'd wake up ready to face his eighteenth birthday.

Of course he couldn't do that. Johnny pressed on. He'd do anything, would do anything, than face that.

Johnny walked for hours. He couldn't tell how long it was; it was too dark to read the dials on his watch. He was numb with cold. His limbs ached, but he continued on anyway, staring dully ahead. The voice that had lured him into the woods was gone, but that didn't matter. Nothing mattered.

He almost didn't realize he'd passed out until he'd fallen face first into the hard , cold ground.

Johnny opened his eyes. He was in a wide clearing. The branches of the trees were bare, letting in small shards of starlight. In the dark, the stars seemed as bright as the sun. But that wasn't what put the smile on Johnny's face.

The singing. He could hear it again. It was loud, so loud, it split his eardrums. So loud he wasn't even hearing it with his ears; it resonated inside his head. His whole being vibrated with it as it passed through him.

An ugly sound cut suddenly through it, a great wrenching sound, right behind him. Johnny turned.

He stared at the gap that had been torn there, between the trees. A few of the trees were swaying, bending, moving, on their own. Johnny blinked. There was no wind and the trees looked strong, immoveable.

But they were moving. The trees were moving.

He almost screamed when she stepped out from that dark gash. She walked softly, barefoot, across the thin covering of grass. Johnny's scream died in his throat, killed by her beauty.

Long, dark hair cupped a pale, trembling face that was smudge with dirt. Dark, sad eyes looked at Johnny with a longing he'd never known in his entire life. She wore a dress, streaked and stained with dirt.

It'd been her who had been singing, there was no doubt about that. Johnny fell instantly in love with her. It didn't matter who she was, or how she had gotten here. All that mattered to him was that she was there.

She came closer. Her eyes had dark blotches underneath them. An angry, painful looking scar ran around her neck. Before he had a chance to say anything, she was in his arms, kissing him. She kissed him, and he kissed her as he pulled her closer to him.

Johnny had never kissed a girl before, not the way he was kissing this mysterious girl. A strange, springy feeling coursed through his body, making him feel very warm.

She was cold, though. Cold as ice.

"You came. You heard me," she whispered in his ear. Johnny tore himself away from her. Tears were falling down her cheek, leaving a glistening, clean trail down her face.

"Of course I heard you," he squeaked. She came close again, embracing him.

"What's your name?" she asked. Johnny nestled his face into her shoulder, pressing her body closer to his. He gasped; she was so cold!

He grinned; he'd make her warm.

"Johnny Evans," he mumbled into her ear. "What's yours?"

"Lisa Cross," she replied.

They didn't say anything after that. Not for awhile. They stood there in the middle of that clearing, just the two of them, holding each other. Eventually their legs grew tired and they gently collapsed to the floor of the forest, which no longer felt cold and hard, but soft, and inviting.

It felt like he could stay there forever.

She lay in his arms. Johnny looked down. Those dark eyes were closed, and her pale lips were curled into some kind of peaceful smile.

Then suddenly she opened her eyes and looked up at him.

"Hi," she said, her smile turning into a grin.

Johnny grinned too.

Lisa picked herself up into a sitting position and stared out into the trees that bordered the clearing. Johnny looked at the scar around her neck, and could not think for the life of him just what could have possibly happened to her.

He didn't ask her. He just knew asking about it would make her cry. Something unpleasant had happened to her, and Johnny didn't want old wounds to open.

But he couldn't stop thinking about it. What could have done that to her? Nothing he could think of.

"I've waited for so long for someone like you to come to me," Lisa said suddenly.

"What do you mean?" Johnny asked, wondering what she meant by that. She pulled away from him, the both of them staring at each other.

"You just don't know how long," she said. Lisa closed her eyes and shuddered. Johnny shivered as the air around him grew suddenly cold.

"W-w-what are you talking about?" he asked through chattering teeth. She didn't respond; she crept up to him on her hands and knees and threw her arms around him. He gasped; she was freezing cold, a slab of ice pressed up against him.

"I've been in this forest for so long, Johnny, I can hardly remember what the outside world's like," she sobbed.

Johnny held her as she started to cry, rocking her gently back and forth, trying to quell whatever it was inside her that caused her such pain.

And then, he said it.

"Tell me," Johnny said. "Tell me what's wrong. Maybe I can help."

He said it as if he were her boyfriend, and she his girlfriend, not just some apparition or hallucination. She felt real, in his arms, with her head pressed against his shoulder.

She raised her head and looked him in the eye, still sniffling. Johnny raised his hand and brushed away what tears he could.

"Do you really want to know?" she asked.

He nodded. And she began.

She told him how she had gone for a walk in the woods one day, after school. It was one of those crisp autumn days you just had to spend outdoors, strolling, admiring nature. The woods were close to home, and she knew she'd be home long before dark.

She had gotten lost wandering through the endless rows of trees. The day wore on. Night fell, and she still hadn't found a way out. Cold, hungry, and terrified, Lisa Cross crept through the woods, jumping at the hooting of owls, or the rushed hoofbeats of passing wildlife. It wasn't long before she came to this clearing.

She'd seen it a ways off, marked by the dim glow of a campfire. It had been the only sign of life she had seen for hours, and she hurried over to the light. She tripped, stumbled, fell countless times, but it didn't matter; she was lost, so hopelessly lost, that any port in a storm would do.

What she found seemed friendly enough. A warm, roaring campfire. Lisa looked around; no one was in sight. Exhausted, chilled, she collapsed in front of the fire, and slept.

It was still night when she woke. The fire had long since gone out, nothing more now than a pit of ashes and charred wood.

Hunger gnawed at her belly. The warmth that had emanated from the campfire had long since dissipated. Only it's hollow ghost remained in the cores of her fingertips, and even that was disappearing.

Lisa cried, wishing she was home, wishing she'd never gone into these woods.

Suddenly she heard a twig snap behind her. Lisa's head whirled around. Closer and closer came the crunch of approaching footsteps.

She'd frozen, not sure what to do. She stared into the darkness between the trees, like a deer staring into a car's oncoming headlights.

A large, gangly man came out. His face was bearded. Nettles and dirt clung to his sallow face. He wore overalls, which were matted with grime.

Lisa stared at him, confused. She'd been expecting...well, she wasn't really sure what she'd been expecting. A rugged hunter perhaps, or maybe a farm boy. They'd come into the clearing with an easy, reassuring smile, and lead her safely back home.

The man who stood silently before her grinned, showing a morass of black, rotting teeth. Lisa's stomach turned. Her gaze traveled from his teeth to his eyes. Flat, dead things, that bore down upon her, eyes that just wanted to gobble her right up.

Before she could scream he was on top of her, clawing at her dress, ripping it from her body.

Lisa didn't say what happened next; she didn't need to. Her body writhed with revulsion in Johnny's arms, and a terrible moan escaped her lips. He kissed her forehead, whispering softly that it was all in the past, that it couldn't hurt her anymore.

"Please," he urged. "Go on."

After it was done, the monster lifted itself up off her. She rolled over on her side, crying, wailing. A filthy, ragged hand clamped over her mouth. Lisa shrieked, started clawing the air, hoping to come away with a good portion of the bastard's face. But mostly, just trying to get away.

The next thing she knew, she was being dragged by her hair over to a tree. She howled, twisting her body hopelessly. Blood ran down her face, into her eyes.

Like she weighed nothing at all, the monster hoisted her over it's shoulder and climbed the tree.

They stopped on the highest branch. She was shrieking hysterically, cheeks running with tears and blood. She hadn't noticed he'd slipped a shoddily tied noose around her neck.

He didn't even hesitate. He grinned one more time and shoved.

All Lisa remembered was the brief sensation of plummeting. Her body suddenly jerked, and then a sharp, deafening crack.

Then darkness.


She said she opened her eyes, confused. Lisa was lying on the ground, looking up at the silhouette of her body swaying against the backdrop of a golden sky. She stared up at her corpse. Fear and dread passed to fascination and amazement, finally to acceptance and detachment.

Lisa walked away from her body and into the darkness of the forest, where she's been walking all this time...

Johnny stared at her, shaking.

"How long..." he said, trying to find the words.

"Since I died?" she finished. He nodded. Lisa sighed, and looked away.

"A hundred years." She said it simply, like how she had told him her story.

How could Johnny not believe what she had just said? He had never believed in a world beyond what he could see, touch, taste, smell, and hear.

But things had changed, and the idea that he could be lost in the woods, talking to the ghost of a murdered girl was one that he was slowly accepting. It was happing to him; that was why he believed it.

"I've waited a century for you, and now you've come," Lisa said suddenly. He looked at her. She walked away from him, looking up aimlessly at the night sky.

"Help me," she said, turning around.


"I can leave this place," she said to him, "if you stay here in my place."

"What are you talking about?" Johnny asked. Lisa took a step toward him.

"I want to leave, Johnny." Another step. "I need to leave." Another step.

"What..." Johnny stammered. "What do you want me to do?"

She was close now. The tip of her nose was just a hair's breadth away from him. All he could see was those dark, brown eyes, eyes that had at first entranced him. Now, they scared him.

Those dark eyes weren't filled with light, like he'd thought; they were the same color as what she had been walking through all these years.

And they wanted him to drown in them.

"I know you love me," she whispered. "Set me free."

"No," Johnny said. He was so afraid. He breathed fear, filled his lungs with abject, black terror. Johnny was eighteen, on a cusp of a life that scared him, and suddenly, ferociously, he didn't want to give up a precious moment of it.

"No," he said again with all the courage he could muster.

Lisa's hands shot up, crushing his neck. Johnny squawked, a sound cut short by her vise-like grip.

Her features started to decompose. Her hair fell from her head. Skin blackened, dissolved, eyes shriveled, and fell back into her skull.


Johnny screamed then, something inarticulate, choked with rage and terror. His hands clenched around her brittle wrists, which were nothing more now than flaky, dead skin wrapped around twig like wrists.

He turned and ran, and never once looked back.

The forest shook as Johnny ran madly through it, sprinting blindly through the night as if hell itself chased him.

Something was after him, he could feel it. Its strides were gigantic. If it wanted to, it could overtake him in a heartbeat. But it liked being back there, nipping at his heels.

Even the trees were attacking him. Branches jutted out suddenly, sticking right out in front of his face. Their limbs flew down, trying to swat him, trying to smash him into the ground.

Dirt flew in front of him. Johnny sidestepped it, nearly running into a tree. He veered to his right, bounding down a path that seemed to open up out of nowhere. The path looked good; anywhere looked better than where he was right now.

The path continued, running furiously along it. Whatever it was that was after him, it was still there, but he was outrunning it now, little by little. For a moment, he actually thought he could get away.

That's when he saw it, laying across the path, against a broken-off, rotted stump. A skeleton, the color of the forest floor. It still wore the tattered remains of overalls.

Suddenly the corpse bolted upright, turning it's skull in Johnny's direction. He ground to a halt, wary. He was beyond fear at the moment. His entire being radiated with the desire to survive.

It stood up, and lumbered toward Johnny. For a brief moment, the air seemed to waver around the skeleton, and Johnny could see what it looked like when it was alive, but only for a moment.

It grinned at him. Johnny saw it's blackened, decayed teeth.

Johnny ran, bowling past the shambling horror. His skin crawled, tightening, as he brushed past the dead flesh.

He heard a crash behind him. Looking, he saw the trees battening down, crowding together, pressing even closer to him.

He didn't know where he was going. All he wanted was out of this nightmare forest. He was sorry for his selfishness, and if God could get him out of this, he'd do whatever he had to do to make it up to Him.

Just get me out of this, please, he begged.

A tree branch shot out from underneath, grabbing his foot, twisting it. Johnny screamed in surprise, and pain. He fell to the ground, hard, his head colliding solidly. He barely had time to groan before the darkness closed down around him.

Johnny woke up back in the clearing, sprawled out on the forest floor. He opened his eyes, deathly scared he'd get up and be looking down at his own lifeless body.

He wasn't. He was alive. Even better; he looked up, and saw something other than star and moonlight.

A bright glow from somewhere beyond the horizon, filtering through the branches at a million, beautiful angles. The sun. It was morning.

The air was cold ass he stood up, wincing at the stiffness in his joints. He took a step, nearly screaming. He chuckled to himself, thinking about how bad he'd probably sprained his ankle. Slowly, he hobbled out of the forest, going back the way he thought he entered. Within minutes the trees thinned, and he caught sight of tall, green grass against a pale, blue sky.

Johnny stared at the grass, not believing in the slightest what he was seeing as he drew closer.

But as he walked through the meadow, and felt the weak, early morning sun on his back, he knew it was real.

The pain in his foot lessened as he walked on it. As the sun climbed higher it warmed his chill flesh. By the time he trudged up the hill to his house, it was hot. He was sticky with sweat, and felt very sleepy.

No one was up when he crept through the house. He stopped beside his parent's door, and smiled. They were sound asleep, snoring away contentedly.

Johnny walked away from their door and stumbled into his room. He wasn't entirely sure last night had really happened, and at the moment, it didn't matter. He had his whole life to ponder whether or not what he'd seen, touched, and felt was real or not.

He knew he wouldn't get more than a couple hours sleep, but that wasn't a problem. As he lay there in his bed, hands folded behind his head, staring up at his ceiling, he could feel agitation, even excitement. For the first time in his life, he actually felt excited to turn eighteen.

He closed his eyes, and went instantly to sleep.


The Storm King

"Have you ever heard of the Storm King?" Billy asked me. I stopped shivering and looked up at him. He was staring out of the boarded up window of the McGovern house, just staring outside at the rain, which was lashing hard against the house.

I shook my head. I huddled closer to the small fire wed built in the crumbling fireplace. It had been Billys great idea to come all the way out here in the middle of the rain for a Halloween party. Supposedly because the McGovern house was haunted. I didnt know whether or not that was true. The houses history had all the makings for one; the owner killed his wife, then himself. Rumor had it that McGovern was a serial killer, responsible for the death of an unknown number of children.

The way the story went was the guy from the electric company was the first one to smell them. Hed been out by the side of the house reading the meter when he got a whiff of something incredibly foul. Then he looked up and saw Ruthie McGovern hunched over in the kitchen window, blood everywhere.

The McGoverns didnt have neighbors, so God only knew how long it had been since theyd died. When the police broke down the door they found them right where the electric company guy said theyd be; in the kitchen, dead. Not too many people knew them, and to the police, it had looked like Ed McGovern had gone insane there at the end. Hed blasted a hole right through his wife, right when shed been doing the dishes. Then hed turned the shotgun on himself, blowing his head clean off, following his wife to whatever peace there was waiting for them.

Thats what everyone assumed had happened. Until they found what was waiting for them in Eds closet.

Shoes. Thats what had started it. A long line of little kid shoes, stretching all the way across the length of a closet floor. The McGoverns didnt have any kids, which prompted the police to search the entire house, top to bottom.

What they found that day differs depending on who you talk to. Some people say it was the rotting remains of children. Others have said they were stuffed, perfectly preserved, dressed in dolls clothing. Still others say it was only their skins the police found flapping in the light afternoon breeze.

Whatever it was the police found, it was more than enough for them to conclude that for years a first-rate serial killer had been operating in their midst. Ed McGovern was damned to hell, along with his wife. The house was boarded shut, and the town spent the next thirty years trying to forget it even existed.

Until Billy found it.

Billy had been running away from the popular kids, the ones who teased him because his clothes were not as new as theirs. They had been tormenting him for years. He needed a place where he could just be by himself. Hed wandered out to the edge of town, out to where the road ended. He found this house, just sitting there, as if it were waiting for him.

The door had been open. Billy walked right in, and thought it was just perfect.

The house itself was empty. Everything of value had either been carted out or stolen. All the windows were broken, and the carpet torn up. The walls were pocked with holes rodents had gnawed open, and as he walked through the house he could hear the tiny sounds of rats squeaking.

It looked like it would be the perfect place to hang out, to just be by himself.

But he wasnt alone. I was there already.

Id been there for some time, just passing through between places, and had been glad to have some company.

Billy hadnt liked that at first. This was his place; he had found it. I told him Id been staying here for quite a spell, and that if he wanted a place to himself he could go elsewhere.

He started sulking when he heard this, and almost left. "Hey," I said. "Stay a minute, tell me whats bothering you."

He stopped at the door. He turned around, and started to talk. It came slow at first, just vague generalities about what was wrong. Then he started picking up speed, and soon the words were coming out faster than the tears that spilled down his cheeks.

His mother ignored him. His little brother was dead, killed by a drunk driver. His sister was a careless whore whod already had one abortion and was working on another. Thats why his father beat him; somehow the old man thought all of this was his fault. All he wanted to do was graduate and move far, far away.

I told him he could stay. He had to stay.

He came back a few days later, just to talk., I listened while the two of us drank beers. He left, and came back the next day. And the day after that, and so on and so on, until he spent most of his time with me, just hanging out and talking, in the house.

I didnt mind.

I enjoyed the company.

And then he asked me if Ive ever heard of someone called the Storm King. I wiped away a drying layer of rain away from my forehead, slicked my hair back, and asked him what he meant.

"The Storm King," Billy repeated.

I shook my head.

"Some people get killed in the loneliest of places. They might walk down a dark alley, or be walking along a highway, or, say," he said, eyes glittering in the glow of the fire, "be killed in a big house, where no one can hear them scream.

"Those ones are his."

"What are you talking about?"

"Old man McGovern killed those kids. The Storm King, he whispered in his ear, telling him to bring them up to his house and to offer them as sacrifice to the Storm King. If the sacrifice was big enough, then McGovern would live forever."

"Was it?" I asked.

"It was. Twenty-six kids were given to him. McGovern had given him what the King wanted."

"He did, did he?"

"Yes. All he had to do to seal the deal was to kill himself."

"Where is he now, huh?"

"Walking with the King, through the storms," Billy replied.

"How do you know all of this?" I asked.

Billys eyes took on a strange, mad glint. "He told me. One rainy night, the Storm King told me while I slept, told me all that Im telling you now." He took a step toward me. His hand reached into his pocket. Out of it he pulled a switchblade. "The Christian God doesnt give eternal life. He only takes it. The King told me if I want life, I must take it."

"You shouldnt be talking about this," I said.

"Why not?" he asked.

Because some things are better left unsaid. Because if Billy wasnt nuts, then this Storm King of his was listening to what we were saying.

But I didnt say anything and Billy went right on as if I hadnt said anything.

The blade jumped out of its catch, shiny in the light from the fire. "Now," he said, "Im going to take yours."

I reached into one of the eighteen packs. My hand closed around one of the long necks.

Billy rushed at me, his knife aimed at my face.

I whipped the bottle out of the case and smashed it against the side of Billys head.

He went down in an explosion of glass, foam, and blood.

I turned and ran up the stairs, his howling following me, step for step.

I never went up to the upper level of the house. Billy went upstairs sometimes, when he came over with a girl and wanted a little privacy.

I came into a hallway that ran to the right and left. Which way? I thought.

Downstairs came another scream from Billy. This one wasnt the howl of pain and surprise that came out of him when I broke that bottle of beer over his head. This one was a bellow of rage. This one said "Im coming to get you, and Im not going to make it easy."

I turned left just as I heard a stampede of footsteps come my way. There were doors on the left, all of them closed. I pushed the first door open. He was clambering up the stairs now, fast. I ran past the next one and into the third one, closing it just as Billy reached the head of the stairs.

I was in a bare room with a step ladder that went up.

Into the attic.

The attic where Ed McGovern kept the bodies of the children hed killed.

I heard the shotgun sound of a door slamming open. He was searching the rooms. I had the crazy idea I found a way out through the attic. Maybe I could climb down the side of the house.

I went up the ladder, quiet. I heard the sound of another door splintering on its hinges.

I hurried up.

The attic was empty as I pulled myself up. It smelled musty; the only window up here hadnt been opened probably since Ed McGovern lived and died here.

I tip-toed across the length of the attic. As I went, I thought I heard something. I thought it had been Billy screaming for me, but it wasnt. It wasnt just one person screaming; it was a whole chorus of them, wailing for someone to help them. It was faint, coming across time and space.

It was the children Ed McGovern had slaughtered in this attic, hoping that someone would come save them. But no one was. These were the ghost-voices of children long dead, always in agony.

The sound of Billy shoving open the third door silenced them. I hurried as I heard the rickety shriek of him coming up the ladder. I was at the window when I turned around and saw his head stick up out of the attics mouth. Blood was running down the side of his face, pumping out of the places where there were still bits of glass in his head. He stared at me with two eyes of pitted black, with only the smallest sliver of light in them to show there was some kind of intelligence still at work in that mad head of his.

"Peekaboo!" he whispered, grinning.

I threw my weight against the window. The glass shuddered.


I looked at Billy. Hed pulled himself up and was coming at me, as if he had all the time in the world.

I rammed my elbow up against the window again. The window splintered. A tiny hole the size of the sharp edge of my elbow was punctured in the glass.

"Come on!" I yelled.

I drew back. Billy was close now. I could hear his hot breath on the back of my neck. The knife was raised, ready to be brought down.

I threw myself against the window. The window shattered. Wind, rain, and glass exploded all over me. I threw up my arms over my face. I felt pain as my arms was peppered with shards of glass, but that didnt matter, I was going to escape, I-

A hand landed on my shoulder and turned me around. Suddenly I was looking right at Billy, face-to-face, eye-to-eye.

Hed got me, and he didnt say a thing when he put the knife in me.

It entered right in my side, right beneath the swell of belly. He grinned as it went in. My eyes went wide open with shock.

His grin lasted only a second when he realized I wasnt bleeding. He stabbed again, this time a bit higher. Nothing. He stabbed me again and again.

Still nothing.

This time it was my turn to show an ear-splitting grin.

He looked at me, unable to understand what was going on. I didnt give him time to find out. I dug my hands into his clothes and threw him right out the window.

It wasnt much. He just kind of stumbled over my foot and tripped. But it was enough. Billy went over the window ledge, and from the sound of it, hit the awning over the porch, breaking his back, and rolling onto the grass where I heard another crack over the storm.

Maybe his neck was broken.

His knife was still sticking out of my belly. I wrenched it out and tossed it out the window.

I turned around and went down the ladder and out of the house. I thought Id see if Billy was still alive.

As I walked down the stairs my body started rippling, as if I were caught in some kind of mirage. The leather jacket and jeans I was wearing disappeared, lengthened, and became a dirty, worn, long coat. A wide-brimmed hat materialized on my head. I pulled it down low over my eyes, which were sure surely changing from an innocent sky-blue to an uncaring metal gray. My carefully cut blond hair was turning dark and grew past my ears. My face had changed as well; instead of that neighbor hood kid gone bad look Id cultivated for Billy, I looked perhaps twenty years older.

I looked like who I am, the Storm King.

I stepped out into the cool, blessed rain. It coated me as soon as I stepped outside, soaking

me. The wind made the tail of my coat flap, popping it, sounding like gunshots going off.

I walked down off the porch. Billy lay in the mud just a few steps away from the walk.

"Are you dead Billy?" I asked. I stared at him. I saw the slow rise and fall of his chest.

Nope. He was alive. He was looking right at me. As I walked over to him his legs twitched. He was trying to get away. Why would he want to do that? Wasnt I his god?

I knelt down, my knees sinking down into the mud. Billy was flopping around like a boned fish. I held his head, caressing it. I cooed to him, telling him it was okay, that he wasnt going to be in pain much longer.

He tried to say something. His lips moved, and he made some kind of gurgling sound, blood bubbling upon his lips.

I snapped his neck like a twig, ending his pain. His body jerked, convulsed once, then lay still.

I turned my head up to the rain and let it wash over my face. Poor boy. I thought Id found another disciple. I really did. When he found me in that house, he was so eager. For company, for a chance to be more than what he was, to walk with me through the storms. He tried to impress me by bringing those girls to the house and killing them.

But that was the problem. He was too eager. No patience whatsoever. A kid like that was bound to get caught. He would never get the chance to sacrifice himself to me. That was the deal I made with all of them: kill, then die by your hand.

Then become legend.

Such a shame. He had so much promise.

Oh well, I thought. Theres always someone else.

Its always raining somewhere else in the world.

I walked away from the body on the ground, taking the storm with me.



I think people hold on to memories because they are the only things that remain the same when everyone

and everything else is changing.

"Any man can love a woman, but when a woman can truly love a man through all his faults then you want to keep her forever."



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