Jared staggered out of Spaulding’s house, his mind spinning and flopping in uncontrollably. The detective stood in the screen door, his head pressing against the mesh, watching as Jared made his way down the steps and to the edge of the street where his motorcycle waited for him.
Spaulding felt his fears renewed and stronger than they had been in years. But now, those fears were going to be shared by someone else. Someone other than that boy’s grandma and him. He watched as Jared picked up his helmet and slipped it over his head, turning back to the house as he did.
They stared at each other, lingering in silent understanding, trapped together in a common horror, neither knowing what to say or do.
Jared sat on the motorcycle as the door closed, Spaulding’s face moving to the adjacent window, the curtains pulled away for him to watch. Jared sat on the bike, his boots on the ground, the kickstand free. He raised it with his heel, his confused, agitated mind trying to figure out how everything had suddenly turned upside down. What began as an escape from his humdrum going-nowhere-life had morphed into an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Putting the bike in gear, he was soon out of sight of Spaulding’s house and its aging neighborhood and sat at the intersection with the highway. The stop sign was slightly bent, its paint faded, and two small bullet holes punctured the right edge.
He looked to the west, with all of its promises of things new and exciting. It was most appealing. The road was empty, wide open, and beckoning him to put his life behind him, including his latest revelations. He gave the bike a little gas, its body lunging against the resistance of his brakes. He looked west again, knowing there was nothing standing in his way, nothing tangible, that is.
The fight between engine and brakes was not the only struggle; his mind, helplessly caught in a replay loop of horror, tried to break free. An open road, fresh air, and Pacific beaches would only give momentary distractions, but in the meantime, his thoughts were bloody and frightening and impossible. A demon. He took a long breath and made up his mind. He would go back and hopefully find Landel. As he pulled out on the highway, he hoped Landel was still there and could help him figure out his next course of action.
When he arrived, Jared climbed off his bike, placed his helmet on the seat, and began a thorough search of the barn and surrounding area. Finding nothing, his search took him beyond the open field and barn into the surrounding woods as he traipsed through the tangled branches and low lying brush, calling out Landel’s name. But after twenty minutes, he returned, scratched up to his bike without having found any sign of him. “Great,” Jared muttered as he got back on the Triumph and started the engine. One last look behind him yielded him nothing but the sight of the barn door slowly swaying in the breeze. Easing up to the pavement, a sense of déjà vu overtook him, his eyes shooting to the right and the west as it did. Squeezing his eyes shut, he shook his head and pulled out, heading east, back to his hometown, to his past, his grandmother, and the truth.
Farms and pastures and the smell of cows blew past him in a flurry, largely unnoticed. His mind blotted out most distractions, thinking instead about Spaulding and his grandmother’s wild assertions of demons, his focus on the road waning. It was as if he were riding on autopilot, the vibration from the road and the whistling of air in his ears all that was keeping him tethered to the present. Not the safest way to ride a motorcycle.
Within the hour, Jared found himself back on little Pacific Avenue, the Rambler wagon still shaded by the old Chestnut tree, a gray squirrel clinging to the side of one of the oaks. There was no seeing inside this time. The drawn curtains prevented that. Venturing into the yard, the squirrel scampered away as he took refuge from the sun under the oak. His heart was pounding, anxiety building a barrier to the front door. The porch was only a few feet away, but it might as well have been a few miles the way he was feeling.
The neighborhood was quiet, closer to death if you were to ask Jared. In the time since his arrival back at his grandmother’s, not a car had driven by, not a soul had been seen. In fact, the only life he had seen was the now-vanished squirrel hiding somewhere high up under cover of oak leaves. Glancing around, Jared noted that nearly all the front yards were fenced and gated. From the sound of things, several of the fences kept back an assault by whiny miniature whelps, yapping and barking at each other. Jared imagined that they all had their noses pressed against the fencing, watching with great interest his reluctance to walk up to the front door.
Pushing himself away from the tree, Jared started toward the porch and the woman whom he had ignored for several years when a dark, horrific sound somewhere around the side of the house stopped him. Turning toward it, he stepped quietly on the grass, careful to avoid fallen branches and leaves. A hedge of Holly rounded the corner of the house to his left. It grew largely unchecked, bushy in its appearance and blocking his view. The frightening sound happened again, and the Holly shook, sending Jared back for cover behind the oak. He watched timidly as the hedge continued to shake, ducking as a frightening screeching noise began. It sounded as if giant fingernails dragged their way across a chalkboard, the neighborhood dogs joining in with their howls.
A crashing sound interrupted it all, and the sound of screaming inside the house sent Jared running toward the house, across the lawn, and up onto the porch. He grabbed the doorknob and tried to turn it, but it was locked. He called out to his grandmother as the screaming continued, smashing his shoulder against the door several times before finally busting the jam and falling into the foyer. Clamoring to his feet, Jared spun around, running to the kitchen and then to the back bedroom, before thumping sounds and more screaming pointed him to the upstairs.
Running to the stairs, he gripped the newel post and vaulted himself upward, his grandmother’s screaming and crying getting louder with every frantic step. When he got to the landing, he found three doors, two on the left and one on the right. He tried the right one first, opening into a bathroom. He was sweating profusely, his hands shaking. Her screaming had stopped, replaced by whimpering and crying. The second door opened into a spare bedroom. “I’m coming!” Jared screamed as he stepped back into the hallway and ran toward the last door.
The door was locked, and he frantically started throwing his shoulder into the door as a great roar caused him to step back, his whole body shaking. “Oh, my God,” he said, launching himself to the door, smashing through it. He struggled to keep his balance while something huge flashed to his left, jumping through the panes of glass out of the window. He ran to the window, only to see the unbelievable as some kind of animal, monstrous in size, ran off and out of sight. Anxiously, he turned around, following the whimpering and finding his grandmother on the other side of the bed, curled up in the corner of the room. Her dress was shredded, blood covering it, her face, and her hands. Her blood.
He pulled a sheet from a freshly dumped pile of clean laundry and wrapped it around her ravaged arm, fumbling with his fun as he called for help.
This story of Fallen One is a first draft. I encourage anyone to provide comments, make suggestions, and point out problems.
What Spaulding shared with Jared was unimaginable. He wanted to flee but found that he was unable to. The more that he learned, the more he had to know it all. And with that, he decides to go and talk with his grandmother whom he hadn’t seen in years.
Have a great day.