Dark Fates, p.1Lynn Thompson
This book is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
All rights reserved
Copyright 2013 by Lynn Thompson
The Tavern Cat
The Devil in Disguise
Valerie sank deeper and deeper into sleep. Her last thought was a great night’s sleep is exactly what I need.
She sighed and snuggled into her blankets. She remembered floating then falling further into the nothingness until a dark void consumed her.
A strange entity started crawling toward her from underneath her bed. Her breathing quickened, chills pricked up her back to the top of her head. She could only see the outline of the form that wouldn’t stay out of her dreams. She didn’t want to see anymore. She didn’t want to know what it was.
“No! Not Again! I need to sleep!” Valerie yelled into the darkness. She yanked herself out of her dream. A sickly sucking sensation overwhelmed her right before she opened her eyes. She blinked, took a calming breath, and willed her heart to slow down. A tear rolled down her cheek.
I haven't had hardly any sleep in the last month she thought as she watched her husband snoring soundly on the other side of the bed. She inwardly screamed. Temptation to start taking sleeping pills again flooded her. But the pills didn’t help. They didn’t get rid of her nightmares. They just made it harder for her to wake herself up.
Stupid Dreams! Stupid insomnia! She screamed in her head over and over, attempting to stay awake, while she continued to watch her husband sleep. She wanted so badly to close her eyes and drop back into never-land, but she didn't want to have the nightmare again. Every night this black hole called to her when she closed her eyes. Every night she would pull herself out of it before that thing would show itself. Then she would stare at the ceiling until morning.
But tonight was different, her spirit craved sleep. Her body and mind needed slumber to rejuvenate. She couldn’t keep her eyes open. Her drowsiness took over and she drifted off back into the oblivion of the black foggy emptiness.
She opened her eyes with a start and stared into the unknown, she pinched herself. She was still asleep. She tried desperately to wake herself up, to no avail. She was stuck in her nightmare.
“I've been trying to find you.” A rusty voice whispered through her, around her.
The outlined entity slithered up from under her bed, out of the darkness, until its skull was a couple of inches away from her face.
Her heart froze even though her pulse quickened. Dread consumed her, kick starting her heart. Panic spread through her system until she was shaking with anxiety. Blood rushed through her veins into her ears and head, blocking out her hearing for a moment. Time slowed down to an unbearable crawl.
The skull had no flesh or meat on it, just a few strands of long wispy gray hair dangling from the back of its head. She looked into its empty eyes before noticing the hollow sockets where its nose belonged. Her gaze wandered to its clacking gray teeth, the curvature of its aged orange/yellow spine with disks jutting out at weird angles. Its shoulder blades bulged in an unnatural arc causing a loose connection between the blades and the arms. Both of its skeletal hands were splayed out on the edge of the bed, like it was trying to hold itself up. Its fingers looked worn and warped. She glanced back up at its empty face. It stared back at her from blank eyes.
“I'm alright,” it said.
The odor emanating from between its partially separated jaws was noxious, making her want to puke.
“I'm alright. You don’t need to worry about me anymore.”
The creature watched her for a few more moments, gave her a gruesome smile and slithered back underneath her bed.
Valerie was speechless. Her nerves calmed down and her heartbeat returned to normal.
Had she been worried about someone who had passed away? She racked her brain but couldn't think of anyone. The skeletal entity didn't seem familiar at all and had no spirit that she could tell. Why hadn't she asked its name?
She held herself back from peeking under the bed and asking that question. She was frightened at what she would find, but at the same time not frightened at all. The feeling left her confused and indecisive. Exhausted from the ordeal she closed her eyes and this time fell into a deep slumber.
The next morning she woke to the sun shining through the curtains. She remembered every detail of the night before and knew in her heart it wasn't a dream. Someone-thing had literally tried to contact her. Who could it have been? Why didn't she ask its name? She had known so many people who had passed away in the last few years. More than she could count on both hands. But she didn't know this one.
She thought about the creature for most of the day, coming up with no answers to the person the skull may have belonged to. She mentally shrugged. It must have been a wrong number.
“Aw, come on.”
“I don't know about this Derrick.”
“It will be fun,” Derrick replied with a huge grin. “Josh and Lydia are going with us too. Do it for me baby girl.”
“You know how I feel about cemeteries.”
“Fine,” his smile faded a notch. “Stay home if you want Amber, but I'm taking the last of the beer and we're going. You'll be missing out on a great night.”
Amber sighed, she never could say no to him. “Alright, I'll go, but you need to stay close to me.”
“We all will.” Lydia beamed over Ambers shoulder.
“It's Halloween, a full moon, and I hear the cemetery is on an old Indian burial ground.” Josh mused out loud, grabbing himself a beer. “Besides it's only a half hour walk there and back.”
“The cemetery is not on Indian burial ground, stop scaring her Josh.” Lydia hooked her arm through Josh’s and turned to Amber, “the land behind it is Indian land. That’s all.”
“I'm not scared,” Amber mockingly replied with a sardonic grin. “That cemetery has bad energy. I can't believe you've never felt it.”
“Stop being a downer,” Josh chipped in, making quotes with his fingers. “Full moon, Halloween, this will be fun.”
Derrick laughed and handed Amber a beer. “I'll protect you, I promise.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Amber sighed and pulled on her jacket and gloves.
It wasn't like all cemeteries gave her the creeps. She'd been to plenty, but this one had rotten, evil, bad vibes. She'd rather be cremated and flushed down the toilet than be buried there.
They walked in silence down to the cemetery gates, the full moon following them along the way.
“It's locked for the night,” Josh hissed, shaking the bars.
“Aw, too bad, we should head back.” Amber bit back her grin.
“I know a way!” Lydia sang excitedly, grabbing Amber’s hand and pulling her around the corner.
Wonderful, Amber thought sarcastically, hoping Lydia was wrong.
Josh and Derrick laughed, following close behind them.
“Come on,” Derrick said, excitement filling his voice. He swung Amber up into his arms and crossed the threshold.
Amber’s skin pricked with goose-bumps as soon as Derrick set her down on the frozen cemetery dirt. The wind kicked up and leaves whirled around her. A creepy feeling settled in her stomach. There's nothing here she told herself firmly, fisting her hands to keep them from shaking as a chill swept over her.
Josh whooped, grabbed Lydia’s hand and ran with her towards the center of the graveyard.
“We need to stay on the pavement,” Amber yelled as they rounded the bend.
“Leave them be.” Derrick whispered in her ear before planting a kiss on her lips.
Amber closed her eyes and snuggled into him for a hug. He wrapped his arms around her. Content, she glanced over his shoulder, little red eyes glared at her from beyond the gravestones. A dwarfed shadow moved behind a tree. She shuddered.
“They're here,” She whispered.
Derrick swiveled around and scoped out the area Amber’s eyes were glued on. “I don't see anything.”
Amber grasped his arm. “They're right there, behind the trees. We have to find the others and get out of here!”
Derrick’s hair stood up on the back of his neck. He laughed nervously. “Okay, but only for you.” Amber was shaking and scared, maybe coming here was a bad idea after all.
She watched the glowing red eyes peering at them as they called out for their friends. Josh and Lydia didn't answer.
“Come on.” Derrick whispered. A shudder racked his body, “I'm feeling a little spooked. Let's go find them.”
They headed for where their friends disappeared, peeking at the graves while they walked by. The moon was full and bright in the night sky, exaggerating every shadow of the landscape, making the cemetery look eerier than it should have.
“There they are.” Amber tugged on Derrick’s sleeve to get him to follow. More red eyes glowed out at them from the darkness of the shadows. Derrick reluctantly stepped off the pavement right behind her.
Amber bent down to where Josh and Lydia lay embracing on a grave, eyes opened wide. Above Josh and Lydia’s heads a normally black granite gravestone flared with red and pulsed with life. Amber fell back landing solidly on the burial plot. A frigid wind blasted through her. Panic invaded her thoughts and movements. She blurredly gazed at her friends.
Trying to compose herself she sat up again and checked Josh and Lydia’s pulse. There was none to be found and she didn’t see any trace of blood anywhere.
“They're cold. Like ice,” Standing up she glanced at Derrick. All color had drained from his face, he hadn’t moved an inch.
“Come on, we need to hurry.” Amber felt the last of her composure melting away and she didn’t want to have a mental breakdown in the cemetery.
“I… can't… move…,” Derrick said out of stiff lips.
She yanked on his hand. He was like a statue mounted in the ground. His fingers were frigid and freezing cold, way too similar to Josh and Lydia’s bodies to be a coincidence. She was afraid she would break them if she pulled to hard.
“Run… go… home… Run!” He growled between clenched teeth.
She released his hand. She wanted to bolt, but she didn't want to leave him.
Tears slid from Amber’s eyes as she turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her. Disoriented from fear she raced over graves and dodged gravestones forgetting all about the safety the pavement afforded. The red eyeballs cast in shadows followed, closing the distance between them. Amber dashed toward a grove of trees. She knew she shouldn’t be in this area of the cemetery where the little red devils could be hiding so easily. She also knew she couldn’t backtrack.
She dove under a low hanging branch, stumbled over a rock and landed hard on her hands and knees on the pavement. Relieved to be back on the road, she took a few deep breaths. Feeling safer now she rolled onto her back. She tried to shake off the pain radiating up her arms and legs from the fall and attempted to slow her racing heart. As soon as her body began to relax again she noticed the hole in the fence.
Scrambling to her feet she flew off the pavement towards her salvation. She jumped through the gap snagging her jacket on the wire fence. She yanked her upper sleeve a couple times. It was stuck. Tears soaked her face as she grabbed the zipper on her jacket and pulled. She had to get out of her jacket. Freedom was only a couple steps away. Her zipper caught on her sweater. She let out a string of obscenities before trying to shimmy out of her entangled clothes. She worked them above her upper torso and felt the material give.
“Damn it! Just a little more,” She cried softly. Her adrenaline slammed into overdrive. “Almost there.” She thought she heard rustling in the dead leaves around her. “Hurry, hurry,” she wept.
Elongated shadowed fingers locked onto her foot. A sob escaped her mouth, she hadn’t been quick enough. Burning cold pumped through her ankle and up her veins as she slid the rest of the way through her sweater and crashed to the ground. Another hand latched onto her other foot. An ice cold sensation joined the mix. She could feel her blood solidify as the frigid chill flowed through her body. Her limbs grew heavy, her heart slowed to an unbearable crawl. Eyes wide open she watched as the black cloaked dwarves lifted her legs and drug her back into the graveyard, depositing her mercilessly with her friends.
The Tavern Cat
There once was an old, widowed, Scottish drunkard who nearly lived at the local tavern. He loved it there so much it was almost impossible to get him to leave on most nights. Other nights it was impossible to get him to leave, so the bartender set up a cot for him in the back.
One evening Ranald didn't show up to his favorite haunt. The bartender was concerned, but decided he would wait for a few days before hunting down the old man. After all, Ranald might have finally come to his senses and jumped on the wagon.
Henry smiled at the thought. The old buggered had threatened to sober up so many times in the past it would be interesting to see. The next day Henry heard the news that the old man was sick in bed.
“But never fear,” Ranald told Henry when he stopped by for a visit. “I will be well soon enough,” he coughed violently. “Keep my seat vacant and warm for this tired old soul.”
Henry promised he would with a nod as he strode out the door and headed back to his bar.
Henry was true to his word and kept Ranald’s chair vacant. He waited for nearly a month for the old Scot to show up before another of his regulars brought him the bad news.
Ranald had passed away after his bout with sickness that had left him stuck in bed for far too long. Every soul in the tavern, including Henry showed up for the scots funeral. There on Ranald’s casket a red haired scraggly ole' cat sat. The priest and Henry shooed the cat off the pine box a couple of times before giving up on getting rid of it. Henry watched the priest pick the cat up and tuck it under his arm after the service. Everyone was to meet back at the bar to toast and reflect on the old man’s life, even the priest who gave Henry a nod before returning to the church to lock the cat away in a room for the night.
That evening as the party progressed and the customers consumed more alcohol the same red haired scraggly ole' cat found its way into the tavern and jumped onto the still vacant chair meant for the old man. The priest narrowed his eyes at the cat. How he got out of the room the priest didn’t know. The clientele laughed and tried to catch the cat. None of them were ready to see Ranald’s chair sat upon by any other person, let alone that scruffy thing. But the cat could not be chased away and could not be caught.
Figuring the cat had somehow outsmarted them Henry saluted it and poured it a glass of beer. The cat jumped up on the bar and drank his fill before seating himself once again in the chair. He purred an old raucous purr and grinned. The patrons laughed harder and figured the old drunkard
They named the cat “the old scot” and he lived out the rest of his days with a beer in front of him and slept on the cot behind the bar.
The bar was packed. Everyone was having fun until Harry and his gang walked in.
Summer sighed. Harry was a trouble maker with a capitol T. Summer watched as Harry sauntered up to the bar for a beer and started flirting with the new girl. The new girl giggled. Harry wrapped his arm around her waist and just about carried her onto the dance floor. The new girl didn't have a clue Summer thought as she watched the girl’s boyfriend glancing around for her.
Summer grabbed her purse, left her table and tucked herself into a corner. Better to be safe than injured, she smirked.
The new girl took Harry's hand and brushed closer to him.
Harry was quite the looker, and he used it to his advantage, but his main goal was to fight as many men as he could and come out of the fights the winner. The notches on his belt were from bar fights, not how many women he could get into his bed.
Summer glanced at the new girl’s boyfriend and the look of disgust written all over his face. She grinned, waiting for the fun to begin. She glanced around at the other customers. Some of them were real flesh and blood. Some were spirits who had died in this bar. She couldn't figure out why they hadn't closed down this place for good, there had been multiple killings here over the years.
Of course, the bar would actually close and a new one would open in its place. Same bar, same place, always a different name.
She spotted a gorgeous brunette walking through the crowded room, her head held high. She wore an old white and pink brothel dress, her hair was pulled back in a braid, blood seeped out of a hole in her chest and ran down her clothing. Bullet or stab wound? Summer wondered. A cowboy with dark sandy hair winked at her and tugged her onto the dance floor. Half of his back was missing, the other half riddled with bullet holes. This was the reason Summer always visited this particular bar, the ghosts gave her great ideas for her short stories.
Dark Fates by Lynn Thompson / Horror have rating 3.3 out of 5 / Based on30 votes