Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No. 42: The Two Mrs. Yorks

Prologue
1887. Thomas Fife got off the train in Wyoming, Indiana en route from New York City to Kansas City. He was in New York covering a speech from President Grover Cleveland. He had to change trains in Wyoming because the train he was on headed northwest to Chicago. A train to Kansas City, from Boston, was arriving tomorrow morning so Thomas had to stay the night in the small Midwestern town.

As he walked out of the depot, a group of fifteen to twenty people were shouting at everyone who walked by. “The Lord will destroy all you sinners,” one, who seemed to be the leader, said. “This accursed country is doomed!”

Thomas still watched them as he crossed the street and went into the hotel. “I need a room for tonight,” he said to the man at the desk. The man gave him a guest book to fill out, took information and gave Thomas a key. “Who are those people over at the depot shouting?”

“That’s Theophilus Axtell’s church group,” the man replied. “They protest everything and declare we’re all going to Hell. We just tell visitors to ignore them. They only protest in front of the depot so they aren’t much of a bother.”

“Church group?”

The man chuckled. “That’s what Theophilus says they are anyway. Their church is a small octagonal thing on the northwest side of town. Near 10th and Oak. It’s a weird little building.”

“Hmm,” Thomas grunted. “Thanks,” Thomas nodded his head and headed up to his room.

That night, Thomas woke up a little after midnight. He walked over to the window and out over the small town. The hotel was the tallest building in the town at five stories, every other building, beside steeples on churches and the bell tower on the school, was three stories or less. He stared out toward the northwest part of town then threw on his jacket and left his hotel room.

He walked to the west to Oak Street and then turned north walking until he reached 10th Street. He saw a frame octagonal building on the west side of Oak Street that still had candles burning in it. As he walked toward it, he could hear the preaching of Theophilus Axtell and the ‘Amen’ agreements of his congregation.

“We have found the totem for Kolkata,” Theophilus said as Thomas slowly opened the door. He stood in the back as Theophilus continued speaking. “For generations, Kolkata has searched for a totem and now, tonight, we have found one for Him. I am so glad you could join us,” Theophilus directed his talking to Thomas.

Thomas uneasily looked at Theophilus and nervously backed up, the door now blocked by a church member, keeping him from escaping. “No, I’m just visiting. I can’t stay,” he uneasily chuckled.

“You have to stay. How many other chances will you have in life to become a god?” Theophilus asked.

The congregation surrounded Thomas and soon, everything Thomas saw went black.

One
The squeak of Wanda’s bed echoed through the apartment. Jen dug her nails into Frank’s back and pulled at his hair as he kissed her neck. Tears welled up in her eyes and she attempted to catch her breath so she could speak. “I love you so much,” she said.

“I love you, too,” Frank said then kissed Jen on the lips and slowed his hip movements causing Jen to gasp slightly.

When they were finished, Frank got dressed but Jen remained naked and sprawled out on the bed. “Have you talked to Lana?” Jen asked.

Frank put on his sock and sighed. “No. I want to but there’s been no good time to bring it up,” Frank replied.

“You can’t keep hiding this from Lana. And I’m getting a little tired of being your dirty little secret.”

“You’re not exactly a secret. I’m pretty sure everybody knows that we are sleeping together.”

“True. But Lana does not know. She is under the impression that you only have eyes for her and that you are going to marry her and start a family with her. You are essentially making her live a lie,” Jen said.

“Ouch,” Frank turned at looked at Jen and stared, mesmerized, by her naked body. “I will tell her when I get back from the lake today. Since we will probably be yelling at each other for a majority of the night, I will call you tomorrow morning, okay?” Frank said and leaned down and kissed Jen between her breasts and then kissed her down to her belly button.

“Okay…” Jen moaned as Frank kissed her. “You better get going. I need to get dressed, Wanda will be back soon.”

“All right. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Frank got up, bent over and kissed Jen on the lips. “Love you.”

“Love you, too.”




John Garner turned south onto South Boundary Pike in Indiana from the Greenville Pike. He drove another half mile then turned onto East 400 Road South. He slowed down as he entered the town of Wyoming. Wyoming consisted of only six streets, two of which extended from Main Street and all of which ended in a dead end. John looked at a piece of paper then glanced around where he was. He turned onto Main Street then made a left turn into a parking spot in front of a grocery store. John got out of the car and looked around at the small downtown area. Most of the storefronts were abandoned and boarded up. The only businesses that looked open were the grocery store, the grain elevator and what a window said was a police station and jail.

“Why does a town that is barely on maps have a police station?” John asked himself. He walked into the store and approached the counter where an old woman was reading. “Hello, I’m from the Rock Creek Township Historical Society in Stull, Ohio and I am looking for…” John took a look at his piece of paper “…Jacob Anderson.”

“Jacob Anderson? That’s Buddy Anderson’s boy,” the old woman said. “Why do you want to see Jacob?”

“We received a call from him about some sort of curse?” John said. He noticed the old woman was taken aback and turned her attention to the front door which had just opened, the bell jingling.

“Ohio, huh?” a man in a policeman’s uniform asked, standing in the doorway. “Long way from home…”

“Not really. We’re only about five miles from the Ohio border,” John smiled.

“What are you here for? Our little town rarely gets any visitors,” the officer said.

“I’m here to talk to Jacob Anderson. I have his address but for some reason the street signs don’t match up with the street he gave me,” John said and showed the officer the piece of paper.

“Jakeman Road,” the officer read. “Yeah, the county changed all of our road names to make 911 calls easier or some stupid reason. Most locals still refer to the old names. Jakeman Road is now East 600 South about a mile south of town. Why do you need to talk to Jacob Anderson? He’s fourteen years old.”

“Something about a curse. He wasn’t really all that in-depth on the phone,” John said.

“Step outside with me, boy,” the officer said. John and the officer left the store and stood on the sidewalk. “What’s your name?”

“I’m…I’m John Garner from the Rock Creek Township Historical Society in Stull, Ohio,” John answered.

“Never heard of it. What’s a historical society in Ohio doing in Randolph County, Indiana? Not enough history there so you wanna take some of ours?”

“We’re also kind of a detective agency and we investigate paranormal activity. We received a call from Jacob Anderson who said something about the Black and described some of the weird goings-on around here,” John said.

“Nothing weird going on around here so you can probably go back to Ohio,” the officer said.

“Look, Officer…Danvers…”

“Chief Danvers,” he corrected. “I’m the chief of police here. Although I am the only police officer in town so being the chief of police may be a bit redundant.”

“I just want to speak to Jacob, get some information and I will be out of town in twenty-four hours,” John said.

“Or I can put you in jail for the night, refuse to let you talk to that boy and then let you out tomorrow morning and follow you to the Ohio border to make sure you leave and not bother anyone else in town.”

“Jail? Are you serious? What did I do?” John chuckled.

“Disturbing the peace.”

“Disturbing the peace? Who am I disturbing? There’s no one out here,” John laughed and motioned around the downtown area.

“You’re disturbing me. Come on,” Chief Danvers grabbed John’s arm and dragged him across the street to the small police station, pulling him through the doorway and shoving him into a small jail cell in the corner of the building. The door clanged shut. “Give me your wallet and cell phone,” Chief Danvers held out his hand.

“Can I call my boss and let him know I’m in jail?” John gave his wallet, keys and phone to Chief Danvers.

“No,” Chief Danvers shook his head. He took the wallet, keys and cell phone and locked them in a drawer in the desk. “I’m going to go out to the Anderson farm and tell Buddy what Jacob did. I’ll be back to check on you.”

Chief Danvers left the office leaving John alone in the jail cell. “Well, crap,” John sighed.




Frank hadn’t been out to Stanton State Lake since John and Katie found a dead body at the Overlook. He was currently out there to get pictures of a barn. The barn was built in the 1830s and was the only thing left standing by the Civilian Conservation Corps when the lake was built in the 1920s. The barn has been in danger of collapsing for the last decade and it was finally announced that the county was going to tear down the barn citing safety issues.

The barn was repainted in the 1920s and while the paint was peeling and falling off in some places and the walls were falling apart and caving in, it still seemed sturdy and was still a bright red. Frank took several pictures of it and the inside. He walked around to the back of the barn and took a picture of the foundation, made from various rocks and stacked on top of each other. The barn was built on a slight hill so there was more of a foundation on the backside then there was in the front. Frank backed up from the barn to get a picture.

A gunshot echoed from the trees surrounding the barn. Frank dropped his camera and sank to the ground. Blood poured out of his side and pooled beneath him in the grass.

Two
Matt and Katie walked to the car parked in the lot of an apartment complex. “Why are you being such a jerk when we go to see an apartment?” Katie asked.

“I don’t want to live in an apartment. I want to live in a house. I want to have a yard so our children can run around like idiots!” Matt said.

“We don’t have children nor are we anywhere close to having children,” Katie said. “Apartments are cheaper and we can save up for a house for when we actually have children.”

“Have I still not gotten you pregnant? Remind me to correct that tonight,” Matt said and pulled Katie to him and hugged her tight.

“I’ll be sure to. Come on, we have one last place to look at. And we’re going to be late,” Katie smiled.

They drove halfway across town and pulled into the driveway of a blue house which in need of a lot of work. A woman stood on the small porch which was starting to lean at an angle. Matt and Katie got out of the car and walked up to the porch. The paint on the house was chipped and peeling. Matt noticed that the curtains in the house were a faded yellow color.

“Hi, I’m Lynn Kirby, I spoke to you on the phone,” she said to Katie. “Well, this is it. It needs a little work and by a little work, I mean, a lot of work. My grandparents smoked so there is a lot of yellow staining and the house hasn’t really been updated since 1980 or so.”

“Wait. If this house needs so much work, why is it available to rent?” Matt asked.

“Rent? No, it’s for sale,” Lynn said.

“But the ad was listed in the ‘for rent’ section,” Katie said.

“Oh, crap!” Lynn huffed. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to sell it because no one in our family can really afford to take care of it and more than likely no one could really live in the house and will just build a new one. I must’ve submitted the ad to the wrong section or something. I am so sorry for taking up your time,” Lynn apologized.

“No need to apologize. Let’s take a look at it,” Matt said.

“Really?” Lynn and Katie said in unison.

“Sure. We’re out here, Lynn is out here. Might as well take a look at the house,” Matt said.

Lynn led Matt and Katie into the house. “To your left is the living room and to the right, the dining room which leads into the kitchen. The carpet in here and the hallway was installed in about 1993. The ceiling fan was installed in 1989,” she led them into the kitchen and inhaled sharply. “The kitchen is in need of a lot of work. The cabinets, counters, shelves are just coated in grease and dust. The refrigerator is only about seven years old but, again, it’s in the kitchen.”

“It’s not bad,” Matt began. “It needs more lighting and if you extend the kitchen into the garage you’d not only make the kitchen slightly larger but also get rid of these counters. You could also extend the kitchen to where the washer and dryer are and build a laundry room in the garage,” Matt noted.

“You could, yes,” Lynn said. “And there is enough land to build a new garage but, again, it would probably be better if this house is torn down and a new one be built.”

“Let’s see the bedrooms,” Matt said.

Lynn led them through the hallway entrance to the kitchen. A bedroom stood directly across. “This is one bedroom. It had its carpet removed in 2003 when my grandma became bedridden. There are hardwood floors throughout the house but this is the only room that has them exposed. It is probably the only room that is not doused in cigarette smoke or stains.”

“Kind of small,” Katie said.

“The rooms are kind of small,” Lynn admitted. “Another reason to just build a new house. Another bedroom is right next door. It is slightly larger and it has shag carpeting from circa 1970. Down this hallway,” Lynn led, “is the bathroom and the third bedroom.”

“Only one bathroom?” Katie walked into the bathroom and noticed the floor. “Holy crap,” she gasped.

“Yeah. The bathroom just needs to be quarantined.”

“It feels like the floor is about to collapse,” Katie said.

“Another reason to build a new house,” Matt chuckled. “Love the counter,” he pointed to the counter whose front was at an angle and had four drawers and two sliding doors.

Lynn laughed.

“Oh my God! Look at this carpet!” Matt yelled as he stepped down a couple of steps into the third bedroom. “Katie, it has green shag carpeting!”

“I see that,” Katie smiled. “I like this room.” The room had a counter and drawers along the wall and had windows instead of walls.

“Technically this was a sun room but my grandparents made it their bedroom. It’s very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.”

“Well, I like this house. We’ll take it,” Matt said.

“What?” Katie shrieked.

“I’m sorry but the house isn’t for rent,” Lynn said.

“I know. I don’t want to rent it. I want to buy it.”

“Matt, maybe we should talk. Could you leave us alone, Lynn?”

“Sure. Here’s the information on the house if you want to look it over,” she handed Matt a sheet of paper and left the room.

“$32,000. I think we can afford that,” Matt said, looking at the paper. “What do you want to talk about?”

“Why do you want to buy this house? Have you seen what’s wrong with it? The walls are yellow and the bathroom floor is caving in!” Katie said. “All the wood is nearly black due to all the cigarette smoke.”

“It has a homey charm though,” Matt said. “Look, Katie. We should buy this house and give it a new life. I know it will need a lot of work but if there is one thing I’ve learned from Frank is that no house deserves to be torn down. No matter how damaged or dilapidated, a house can be fixed.”

“You’re being serious about this. Really serious,” Katie said.

“This house was built in 1961. It has been owned by Lynn’s family since 1966. Children grew up here, things were celebrated here. This house deserves more than being razed and replaced by one of those cookie-cutter monstrosities.”

Katie looked at Matt and smiled at him. “Do you think we can really afford it?”

“Well, the $32,000 we could get from the bank but we may have to ask Frank for a raise when we start remodeling the place,” Matt chuckled. His phone began ringing and he pulled it out of his pocket and answered it. “Hello? What? He’s been what? Okay, I’ll be right there!”

“What’s wrong?” Katie asked.

“That was the hospital. Frank’s been shot,” Matt said.

Three
Frank stood at the sink washing dishes as he listened to the children scream from the living room. He glanced at the clock. Lana was late getting home from work and dinner, a chicken tetrazzini casserole, would be done in five minutes. He began hearing Olivia crying from her bedroom and washed one last dish and shut off the water. He dried off his hands and went to pick up his daughter from the crib. “It’s all right, baby girl,” he said. He cradled her gently in his arms and swayed which calmed her down. “I know. It’s past time for you to get up. Mommy’s not home yet and Daddy’s not allowed to call anymore,” he said.

As he walked down the hallway with Olivia, the front door opened and Lana walked in. “Jerad, Anthony, quit jumping on the couch,” she said as he came in, slightly hunched over and flushed. “Frank, couldn’t you tell them to stop jumping? I had to do it after coming home from work?”

“I was cooking dinner. And washing dinner. And tending to Olivia. Besides, I have work, too.”

“Oh, please. A part-time job writing crap for the county historical society is not a job,” Lana said. “I wish you’d quit working on that stupid blog.”

The timer from the kitchen buzzed. Frank gave Olivia to Lana who immediately set her down on the La-Z-Boy by the front door. “Why do you hate that I’m writing stuff for the historical society?” Frank asked from the kitchen as he grabbed oven mitts and opened the oven door.

“Because I thought you were over all this history stuff. You don’t even have to work considering the inheritance you have from your parents and that old woman,” Lana said, watching Frank place the tetrazzini on the stove and grab a big spoon from a drawer.

“I like doing it and I am not over this history stuff. And since we don’t need to work because of my inheritances then why are you working?” Frank asked.

“To get out of the house and have a least a semblance of a social life.”

“So you can go out and get jobs and have friends but I have to stay home and take care of our daughter?”

“Someone has to take care of her.”

“It’s called a day care and I could get a regular job with the historical society doing what I love to do,” Frank said as he dished the tetrazzini into bowls for his family.

“But then you would become obsessed with working there just like you did with the one you started. That’s why I asked you to close it so you could spend time with your family.”

“I do spend time with my family. You’re the one who works eight to ten hours a day and then five hours on the weekend. Everything Jerad, Anthony, Olivia and I do, we do it without you.”

“Fine. Keep writing blog posts for the historical society. Whatever.” Lana threw up her hands and took a couple of bowls to the table. “Jerad, Anthony, dinner.”




Frank’s eyes opened slowly in the darkness. He leaned up just a bit to get a glimpse of the clock across the room. 2:17 A.M. He rolled over slightly and noticed that Lana was not in bed. The door to the bathroom was still open so she was nowhere in the bedroom. Frank got out of bed and quietly opened the door and went downstairs. He got to the bottom of the stairs and stopped short. Lana was on the computer talking to someone through Skype or something.

“I have kids, Roy, I just can’t leave,” Lana said. “What we have will just have to work.”

Frank listened; his heart was now pounding in his chest. His leg was starting to quiver like it always did when he was nervous but he hadn’t had it happen in years.

“I just don’t see what you see in him,” the man named Roy said.

“Well, he was different ten years ago,” Lana sighed. “We loved each other but I thought I was going to lose him so I got pregnant. If I would’ve known we’d have twins I wouldn’t have done it. I should’ve just let that whore have him.”

“Whore?” Roy asked.

“Oh, this slut that used to work for him when he ran that historical society I told you about. I think I told you about her. He told me he was cheating on me after he got shot ten years ago. I thought about breaking up with him but he was so apologetic and…well, I just didn’t want to lose what was the best boyfriend I had ever had so I stuck with him but I made sure that he had to stay.”

“I don’t know why anyone would ever cheat on you,” Roy said and made a couple of kissing sounds. “I need to get to bed. See you tomorrow?”

“Of course. Although I need to be home earlier tomorrow. Frank got mad at me for being late,” Lana chuckled and rolled her eyes.

“Okay. I’ll try but you know how I get when I’m around you,” Roy laughed and so did Lana.

“Good bye, Roy,” she was still laughing. “Love you.”

“Love you, too and they disconnected.

Frank quietly bolted up the stairs and back into their bedroom. He rushed back under the covers. After a few minutes, Lana came back and got into bed next to him. She sighed loudly as she covered herself with the blankets. Both were silent, only the swishing of the ceiling fan made any noise until Frank spoke.

“You should introduce me to Roy sometime…”




“Why am I the last one here?” Lana shouted as she entered Frank’s hospital room.

“Technically John is the last one here,” Matt said.

“That’s only because he doesn’t answer his phone,” Katie said.

“What happened?” Lana asked.

“Frank was shot,” Matt said. “He was out at the state lake getting pictures of that barn because it’s supposed to be taken down in the next few months and he was shot by someone’s wild pig gun that was set up to automatically fire when something walked in front of it.”

“Automatic guns are illegal which makes this even more devastating. The sheriff’s office has confiscated the gun and are trying to find the owner,” Katie said.

“Who brought him in?” Lana asked.

“A couple jogging on a nearby trail heard the gunshot and went to find it and found Frank. They called 911 and Frank was airlifted here. He was lucky someone was out there because that’s a pretty secluded part of the lake,” Jen said as she sat next to Frank’s bed.

Lana walked over to her and loudly cleared her throat. Jen muttered an apology, stood up and joined Matt and Katie by the door. Lana rubbed Frank’s forehead and sat down where Jen was sitting. “It’s okay, Frank. I’m here now. Please wake up,” she said. “What are the doctors saying?”

“He lost quite a bit of blood but they’re pretty sure he’ll pull through and be just fine,” Matt answered. “He does have a collapsed lung. He was shot just under the chest. The doctors think they got all of the buck shot out but they said they’ll check again when his vitals are a bit more stable.”

Lana continued stroking Frank’s hair and kept muttering about how she was here now and how they’re back together and in love. Jen angrily left the room. Katie followed her.

“Jen? What’s wrong?”

“Do you see that crap Lana is pulling?” Jen asked.

“She’s his girlfriend, Jen. She’s going to do stuff like that whether we like it or not,” Katie said.

“He was going to break up with her when he got home from the lake,” Jen revealed. “He was going to break up with her and be with me.”

“Then when he wakes up and is out of the hospital he’ll break up with her. You’ll just have to wait a few more days.”

“What if all he hears is Lana’s voice and when he wakes up he decides Lana is the one he truly loves? I can’t be in there and say how much I love him and want to be there with him so what if that hurts my chances?” Jen started crying.

“If Frank really loves you, he won’t forget. Nothing Lana says while he’s in that coma will change the way he feels about you,” Katie said and hugged Jen.




Katie and Matt sat in the cafeteria sipping on drinks they had to get from the vending machine since the kitchen was closed for the night. They started out talking about Frank and commenting that Lana went home while Jen stayed behind.

After a few minutes of silence, Katie spoke, “So you want to buy that house?”

“Yeah. We can really fix it up, add a couple more rooms, and build a new garage. It’s better than the apartment we’re currently living in.”

Katie smiled. “How are we going to afford it?”

“We make good money from Frank so we could easy afford renovations,” Matt said.

“What if Frank doesn’t make it,” Katie said quietly.

Matt sighed deeply. “We could still afford it but it would eat through our savings quicker and with a normal job, it would be harder to replenish those funds.”

Katie nodded. “We can call Lynn tomorrow and attempt to figure out the details.”

“I knew there was a reason I loved you,” Matt leaned over and kissed Katie.

“Yeah, yeah. What are you going to do to make this up to me?”

“Buying and remodeling this house will seriously push back us getting married.”

“Married? Have I proposed to you?” Matt asked.

“Not yet but I figure that’s going to be soon,” Katie smiled.

“Oh, yeah. It’s coming. Some day. I’m going to go up and check on Jen,” Matt stood up and walked out of the cafeteria. Katie sat at the table alone and smiled as she began to tear the label off of her soda bottle.

Four
Jacob Anderson climbed out of his window using the trellis just outside his window. He landed with a thud on his feet on the ground and began heading in the direction of Wyoming, cutting through the farm field. He climbed between the barbed fences on the far north side of his family’s property and found himself in the woods.

He could hear things moving around him as he walked but he knew they were just deer, birds and maybe the occasional skunk or opossum. The woods seemed to grow darker the further he went in and he stayed in the trees despite knowing that he should’ve passed them by now. He looked up and noticed the stars and moon had disappeared. He turned around and looked at where he came from and it didn’t look familiar.

He continued walking toward Wyoming but came along a creek that he knew didn’t exist.

“It is the boy,” someone growled in the darkness.

“The one that called the man that now sits in jail?” another voice asked, also growling.

“Yes.”

“Where is he going?”

Jacob stopped walking and listened to the voices.

“Probably to save the one he brought here. Grab him. We’ll take him to the Totem and have them take care of him.”

Jacob attempted to hide in a small grove of trees and bushes but he was quickly grabbed by the arm and lifted off the ground. “Come with us, boy!”

The two creatures, odd looking things standing nearly eight feet tall and looking like a mix between animal and insect began carrying Jacob through the woods. “What are you? What are you doing?”

“We know you called that interloper to come here. We heard the sheriff talking to your father. The sheriff will take care of your friend tomorrow but we will take care of you tonight.”

“Put me down! Why do you even care about us?” Jacob struggled and tried to twist himself free from the creature’s grasp

“Put my brother down!” a small voice shrieked behind them. The creatures and Jacob turned around to see Maxine standing there with an angry look on her face.

“Maxine! Run!” Jacob shouted but Maxine stood still.

“Run along, little girl or you can meet the same fate as your brother,” one of the creatures growled.

“No! You put him down and go away!”

The creature not holding Jacob lunged at Maxine. Jacob closed his eyes so he couldn’t see his sister being ripped to shreds and eaten by the creature. Jacob heard a loud crack and then all noises stopped. He opened his eyes and saw Maxine standing alone, the creature dead at her feet.

“Put him down,” Maxine said again.

“What happened?” the remaining creature stammered.

He turned around in an attempt to run but there was another loud crack and the creature fell to the ground, releasing his grip on Jacob.

Jacob stood up and walked over to Maxine. “Maxine, what did you do?”

“I don’t know. I just thought about hurting those monsters and that’s what happened,” she replied.

The creatures faded away and Jacob and Maxine were back in the field they knew so well. “Well, I don’t know what happened but it worked. Let’s get back into town and get that man out of jail.”




John’s phone was ringing again. It was only the seventh time or so and each caller had left a voicemail. “Jesus, someone must be dying,” he said. It was well after midnight but John was still wide awake and not ready to fall asleep. “At least I’ll be out of here in the morning.”

“Hey,” a small voice whispered from the window on the back wall above the bed. A little face was pressed against the bars. “What’s your name?”

“John. John Garner. Who are you? What are you doing here?” John asked.

“We’re coming to save you,” Maxine said and disappeared from the window.

Maxine hopped off of Jacob’s shoulders and they walked around the jail building to the front door, which was locked.

“How are we supposed to get him out of there?” Jacob wondered, continuously trying to open the door.

“The door is made of wood,” Maxine said matter-of-factly. She touched the door and it began rotting until it ultimately crumbled into wood chips.

“How did you do that?” Jacob asked.

“It’s something I found that I could do a while ago,” Maxine said and walked into the jail.

“How are you going to get me out of this cell?” John asked.

“Maybe there’s a spare key around here?” Jacob began looking in the drawers of the desk and took out John’s cell phone. “Is this yours?” Jacob handed the phone to John.

“Thank you,” John looked at his calls. All of them were from Katie or Matt. He thought about listening to the voicemails but instead pocketed the phone and tried to think about how to get out the cell. “The keys to my car should also be in the drawer. There’s a lock picking set in the glove compartment. I should be able to pick this hundred year old lock.”

In a couple minutes, John was working on the lock when soon make a clanking noise and opened. The three of them then ran out of the jail.

“Again, thank you. But what are you doing here?” John asked.

“I’m the one that called you to come here,” Jacob said. “This is my sister Maxine. The sheriff was talking to our father about you. We had to break you out of jail because the sheriff is going to kill you tomorrow.”

“He said he was going to escort me back to the Ohio border…” John said. “So why did you call me here? What’s going on around here?”

Five
John, Jacob and Maxine sat in John’s car in silence. It was almost three in the morning and Maxine was starting to fall asleep in the backseat. “So what do we do?” John asked. “How do we stop this?”

“I assume we stop the Totem and we’ll break the curse but I don’t know,” Jacob said. “I’m getting tired.”

“Me too. And your sister is out like a light,” John pointed his thumb into the backseat.

“No, I’m not. I awake…” Maxine said drowsily, punctuating her sentence with a snore.

“So how do we get into this…alternate world?

“We walked through it on the way to town,” Jacob said. “Maxine was actually able to hurt one of the demons.”

Maxine was back to being wide awake. “It was awesome! All I did was think about hurting him and I did!”

“You just thought about it?” John turned around and looked at Maxine. “How’d you do it?”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged “I just thought about because they were going to hurt Jacob,” Maxine said.

“Maybe Maxine is our secret weapon,” John said to Jacob. “She clearly has some sort of power to take down the demons.” John started his car and pulled out of the parking spot. He went just a little bit down East 400 Road South and pulled into a farm field entrance. “Is this about where you came out before coming to the jail?”

“About. The other-world just appears. Sometimes you wander into it and sometimes it just appears around you.”

“They’re watching us,” Maxine said. “They’re scared of us.”

John and Jacob looked at each other again. All of them then got out of the car and began walking through the field. They walked nearly a quarter mile through the field before the other-world began appearing. Soon John, Jacob and Maxine were surrounded by demons, only about two dozen but all of them a foot taller and much stronger.

“The little one has the power,” one of the demons said. “The Totem wants us to bring her to him. The other two we can have.”

“Now might be a good time to unleash your power, Maxine,” Jacob said as the demons approached them.

“I don’t know how to turn it on!” she screamed.

John punched one of the demons but it didn’t do anything to stop their advance. “Just try, sweetie. We’ll try to keep them from touching you. Just do your best…” a demon hit John and he went crashing to the ground.

Jacob picked up a big stick and began hitting demons but they took it from him and tackled him. Another group jumped on top of John and another demon grabbed Maxine, who began to scream.

Jen’s shirt was pushed up over her breasts to reveal a simple tan bra. Her pants and panties were in a pile on the floor with Frank’s shirt and jacket. Frank’s pants were just around his ankles and he still had his socks on. They were holding each other close, stifling their moans. Jen began scratching and pounding Frank’s back as her eyes tightly closed. Frank then came, breathing heavily into Jen’s ear, then collapsed on top of her and she spent the next few seconds enjoying the closeness of her husband.

“Okay,” she began pushing him off of her. “I have to get the kid to school and you have to get to Tontzville.”

Frank got off of Jen and pulled up his pants then began putting his shirt back on. “I love you,” Frank said as he buttoned himself up and watched Jen put her pants back on.

“You’re not going to get all mushy on me now are you?”

“Aren’t I always mushy with you?”

“Yes, you are. And that’s why I love you too,” she kissed Frank and they embraced.

There was a knock on their bedroom door. “Mom? Dad? We need to go!” a small voice said from the hallway.

“I’ll see you this evening,” Frank kissed Jen again and she left the bedroom. “Have a good day, Stephanie!” he hollered at his daughter.

“Bye Daddy!” Stephanie said loudly.

When Frank arrived at the Stanton County Historical Society, he immediately said his greetings to the ladies working at the front desk and went to his office. Frank was hired as the new director at the county historical society shortly after he got out of the hospital nearly six years ago. He kept the Rock Creek Historical Society open but it was now being run by Matt and Jen. Frank had been able to usher in a new beginning to the county historical society with new money coming in and even helping at the state level. As soon as Frank walking into his office, his phone rang.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Is this Frank York?” the person on the other end asked.

“Yeah. How can I help you?”

“We wanted to congratulate you. This is Bert Pompeo of the Ohio State Historical Society and I just wanted to tell you that you have been selected to oversee all of the historical societies in the state.”

“Really?” Frank was baffled. “I don’t even recall applying for that job.”

“It’s a position we created just for you. Originally we had different people from the individual societies who would be a liaison to the state museum. Now, we are creating a position where we have a representative who communicates with the individual museums. Essentially, it would be your job to communicate with each society, make sure their needs are being met, see if they need help with a display and just make sure that they are doing what they can to represent their part of Ohio history,” Bert explained.

“That sounds amazing. I would love to drive around the state and see what historical societies are out there,” Frank said. “When would I start and would I be able to continue my position with the Stanton County Historical Society?”

“That would be up to you,” Bert said. “This job would probably take up a lot of your time so I’m not sure how often you’d be available for Stanton County.”

“Can I call you back tomorrow? I need to talk to my wife about this,” Frank said.

“Sure. No problem. I will talk to you tomorrow,” Bert said and the two of them hung up.

That evening, Frank, Jen and Stephanie sat at the dinner table eating a lasagna that Jen had made. Frank took a bite of his and made an exclamation. “I got offered a job today,” he said.

“I didn’t know you were looking,” Jen answered.

“I wasn’t. I was just offered the job.”

“Offered a job? That still happens?”

“In some cases, I think. Anyway, it’s with the Ohio State Historical Society. They want me to be a liaison for all of the local historic societies in the state. From what I understood, I would be able to visit all of the historical societies and basically be their go-to person on making sure they are doing the best to represent their area of Ohio history.”

“Sounds interesting. And right up your alley since you always want to learn more about the state,” Jen said.

“The only problem is that I would be on the road a lot. Especially at the beginning because I’d be going around to the many historical societies seeing if they needed anything or if I could help them improve their exhibits. I said that I wanted to talk to you about this before I actually made a decision.”

“Well, before we make any decisions, I have something to tell you, too,” Jen smiled. “I’m pregnant.”

“What?”

“I took a pregnancy test several weeks ago and it was positive and today I saw a doctor who confirmed it.”

Frank stammered for a second. “That’s amazing. And wonderful!” he stood up and hugged Jen who remained seated. “I love you so, so much, Jen. I am so glad I am going to be spending the rest of my life with you,” he kneeled down level with Jen. “I love you, Jen.”

“I love you, too, Frank,” Jen responded. The two of them kissed, Frank gently held Jen’s cheek as he turned and wrapped her arms around his neck.

In the hospital room, Frank’s eyes opened and he gasped. “Jen,” he strained to say.

Six
“Thank you for meeting so early this morning. I think I got all of the paperwork here so we can start the ownership process and turn the house over to you,” Lynn said, sliding a stack of paperwork over to Matt and Katie.

Matt began filling it out but was stopped by Katie. “Are you sure?” she asked.

“Sure about what?”

“That this is the house you want.”

“It is the house I want. It’s the house I want for us. Do you…do you not like it?”

“No. I love it because I love you. I just want you to make sure you know what you are getting into,” Katie said.

“We. What we are getting into,” Matt smiled.

“Right. I guess I am stuck with you.”

Matt’s phone began ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket. “It’s Jen,” he said and then answered the phone. “Hello? Really? Good. And he’s pretty lucid? Okay, we’ll be right there,” he hung up.

“Is Frank awake?” Katie asked.

“Yep. And he wants to see everybody. I’m sorry,” Matt said turning to Lynn “we have a friend in the hospital. Can we take the papers, fill them out later and bring them to you?”

“Of course. My info is on the cover page if you have questions. I hope your friend is okay.”

Matt, Katie, Jen and Lana all gathered in Frank’s hospital room. “Thanks for coming, guys. While I was…asleep, I was really able to sort some things out. Where’s John?”

“We don’t know,” answered Katie. “He’s still in Indiana, I guess. He’s not answering his phone.”

“Hmm. Hope he’s okay. Anyway, I’ve decided to work as hard as I can to get hired at the county historical society. They’ve never really liked me so it should be interesting. I am also going to be taking some time off to write a book,” Frank said. “In my absence, I am promoting Matt and Jen to take my place. And finally, I need to talk to Lana alone,” Frank looked sympathetically at Lana who was standing next to his bed. Matt, Jen and Katie left the room, leaving Frank and Lana alone. She smiled lovingly at Frank. He looked up at her and took a deep breath.

John slowly opened his eyes and saw a shotgun pointed at him. He noticed that he was inside a house. “Where’s my daughter?” It was Buddy Anderson. Sheriff Danvers was standing next to him.

“Maxine?” John groaned. “We were attacked. I couldn’t see her but I could hear her scream…”

“I told you that we don’t know what happened after the demons attacked and Maxine screamed,” Jacob said from across the room.

“I should’ve killed him when he first arrived in town,” said Sheriff Danvers.

“But he helped us stop the monsters. He helped stopped the curse,” Maxine’s voice echoed through the house. She then just appeared in the middle of the room.

“Maxine!” Buddy said and run over and embraced his daughter.

“What do you mean you stopped the curse?” Sheriff Danvers asked.

“I killed all of the demons and stopped the Totem. Well, the old Totem anyway. I’m the new Totem now,” Maxine exclaimed. “And I’m going to be a lot nicer than the old one.”

John stood up. “But what exactly happened, Maxine?”

“When I screamed it hurt all the monsters and only the Totem was left. I was too powerful for him,” Maxine said triumphantly crossing her arms.

“I think it’s best if we don’t really know what happened. Jacob and Maxine saved the town, broke the curse and all is right with the world. That is all that matters,” John said. “Can I get a ride to town so I can retrieve my car and get back to Ohio?”

Seven
“Honey? Matt and Katie are expecting us. We’re going to be late,” Frank knocked on the bathroom door. He’d been home for two weeks and had been taking it easy since then working on two books, one about Stanton County and the other a fiction novel roughly based on his life. He was still bandaged and moved slower and with a slight limp. His arm was also in a sling.

“Late for what? It’s just us, John and Matt and Katie,” Jen said as she came out of the bathroom.

“We don’t want to hold up any tours Matt and Katie may have planned,” Frank smiled and kissed Jen.

“It’s a three bedroom, one bath house how confusing could a tour be? And it’ not like they will be giving a quiz over it.”




They all stood outside of Matt and Katie’s new house in the driveway near the garage as Matt barbecued. “So why this house?” Frank asked as he peeled a paint chip off of the wall.

“Because of you. Hanging out with these last, what? Two decades? It made me realize that every house is, was or can be a home. All you need is a little time, patience and love,” Matt explained.

“A several thousand dollars,” John chuckled.

“Yeah,” Matt turned to Frank “which reminds me, I’m going to need a raise.”

“Ha! That’s funny,” Frank slapped Matt on the back and walked away. He went and stood next to Jen and pulled her close to him.

“You both seem a lot happier, just so you know,” Katie said, looking at Frank and Jen.

“Why did you even start dating Lana again?” John asked.

“I got back with Lana before I really knew what I truly wanted. When Jen went missing, I thought I would never be whole and when we found Jen I knew that she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,” Frank looked into Jen’s eyes and then kissed her.

“So what’s the plan with the Society?” Katie asked.

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll just take it one day at a time and see what happens,” Frank said. “But whatever happens, I’m so glad that I have you guys in my life.”

“Okay. I think I deserve a raise just for all this schmaltzy talk,” Matt said.

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