Welcome to part ten of the current long story cycle (Cracked Windows). The links will be laid out in sections to cut down the total number we see on each post. You will be able to follow from week to week as needed when new sections appear.
The door popped open with a slight pull at the knob. It swung free from the frame and Jerome stopped cold. His neighbor stood just outside the door, his hand stretched out to grasp the handle.
Street lights reflected off the man’s eyes, a soft white surrounding deep black irises. Darkness obscured the rest of his face, but his eyes, they popped out in the see of black. Jerome’s heart skipped a beat and then pulsed erratic at the sight of him. For a brief moment, he felt like a child again, in the basement of the house, this same house from so long ago.
“You broke my window.” The words had an edge. The man didn’t move from the doorway. Jerome couldn’t see the man speak in the darkness.
“You killed my wife,” Jerome said. An urge, a need, to reach out and throttle the man in front of him grew with each passing moment. “Admit it. Tell me about the others, the rest of the people here that you killed.”
He didn’t react, didn’t move. His eyes shifted from Jerome’s face to behind him, deeper into the house.
The hairs on the back of Jerome’s neck stood on end as a chill, colder than the freezing air inside the house, ripped through his body. A burning sensation assaulted the back of his head and he knew that someone, something, stood behind him, its eyes burning through the back of his head. He couldn’t turn around. It was the fear the old fear he had never forgotten from the time he had seen the eyes in the basement. It had never really left him, not after all this time.
He stood in mute battle with himself. The need to turn around and face the demon of his fears and the need to run, to save himself, danced through his body. His indecision matched the immobility of the man standing in front of him. Neither budged, neither gave ground in the odd game of chicken.
Breath like ice assaulted the exposed flesh of Jerome’s neck and ears. Fetid and rotten the fumes insinuated into his nostrils and forced their way into his lungs. In that moment, he knew it had been the last thing his wife had smelled and felt before the thing ripped her life from her bones. It would do the same to him and the man standing in front of him wouldn’t be one to help him in this last moment of his life.
He wasn’t sure why, there was no evidence to support his thought, but he knew if he turned around and looked at the beast with the red eyes it would be the last thing he ever did. He took a deep breath and mentally prepared for the move he knew would be the only option if he wanted to live. As he released the air from his lungs in a steady stream, Jerome pushed forward, into the man in the doorway. With a yank, he pulled the man behind him, between the red eyed beast and himself.
He tumbled forward with the pull’s momentum and stumbled out the doorway.
Jerome didn’t look back, he didn’t stop. He had leapt to his feet and from there he ran, sprinted down the driveway and across the street to his own home. He fumbled his keys as he searched for the one to open the door. He didn’t look back when he slammed it behind him and he crumpled to the floor in front of it.
He sat there, breathing, panting, wishing none of this had ever happened. Wishing that he had never seen the floating eyes not now, not when he was a child. He would never forget them. After his heart had calmed again and his breathing had returned to normal he realized that he was still alone.
They hadn’t followed him. Neither the creature, nor the man stood on his porch clawing to get into his home. From the picture window, he looked out on the street and could see the house in the grey light of dawn. Something he hadn’t expected. The sun chased away the shadows and vicious beasts that ruled the night. But he knew they were still there. They waited for him across the road, and the sun would go down again that day. His freedom now wouldn’t last beyond nightfall. He was certain of that.
Jerome wanted nothing more than sleep, a chance to rest. But it would do him no good at this point. Instead he had to prepare, had to be ready for their return in the evening. There was little else he had going for him at this point. He didn’t know what the creature was or the best way to fight it. All he had was the sun. the light kept it at bay.
His mind raced with possibilities, different things that might combat supernatural evil. Of course, the idea of a catholic priest flashed through his mind a couple times but he thought getting out an exorcist might be impossible, if they even believed him. No, this was something he would need to do on his own.
He didn’t have any silver bullets, and especially didn’t have the skills to make them if they even had silver in Ariel’s jewelry collection. Ariel. That thing had taken her, like so many others around them. It wouldn’t stop till they were all gone. Didn’t matter anyway, he remembered that silver bullets were for werewolves. This thing was a demon at best, or maybe a vampire since it didn’t follow him into the light of day.
None of the lore of vampires he could remember mentioned anything about what he saw the night before. All he could see were the floating eyes. The rest of it had been buried in shadows. He had nothing to fight, nothing solid he could rail against. Except for the man from the porch. The human servant that protected its master in the daylight hours.
He pulled back the curtain from the picture window, enough to peek through, while still hiding back in the shadows. The house looked deserted, empty. The whole thing had slipped into a default that he hadn’t noticed over the past few weeks. He wasn’t sure how but the place had slipped further into the realm of despair. If the house were to be put back on the market at this stage of it all, the whole thing would collapse in the path of a haunted spirit that fed on its misery.
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