Dusk Creek: Chapter Seven

[ …The story continues! On to Chapter Seven.. story and characters are (c) me. I do hope you are enjoying it so far! Just remember this story is rated Mature due to violence and language ]

His third day in Dusk Creek. Corey awoke with a start to find Shep buried close into him, both her heads resting loyally on his thigh as her large silvery eyes watching him intently. He relaxed, and unsure which of them to stroke he settled and rubbing her back as he yawned widely

Well girl, looks like you aren’t a killer… thankfully.” She simply perked her ears at him and slapped her tail against the couch.

They ate and repacked. Soon man and dog again hit the streets again. There were new things he was learning every day he spent here, and one of those new things was amazement how easily Shep was walking. It almost looked like the black sleek dog had not been injured at all last night. It was a recovery which seemed either overly optimistic, or an omen of something bad.

She walked close to him, ears perked and twisting around. Even when they got to the small car she hopped into the passenger seat and patiently waited for him to start driving. It was as if they somehow formed an unspoken alliance. Still, it was far better having a friend then enemy in this place, so he chose not to question the oddity of it.

This time he was not going to just circle around aimlessly looking for the roads out. He already knew those options were gone. Instead he would revisit his plan from last night – try to find a connection out. Internet, telephone, satellite, anything. Something that will get a distress call out and tell the world that he was somehow alive and terrified trapped in this insane city.

They started off, and drove until the tank was only ¼ full. It could have been hours of driving dazed and surreal. Even places he thought were good choices looked perverse and twisted. He worried every shadow would be someone, or something, ready to eat him. Shep herself was also on the alert, occasionally growling and barking in the directions of movements staying somewhat out of sight.

There were things hunting indeed. Maybe it was the monstrous dogs, maybe it was something more. Corey was never a horror genre fanatic. He hated most horror movies and thought the whole premise of them were kind of stupid. Yet every snippet of every horror movie he’d ever seen was reflected back at him from those shadows. He was afraid.

It wasn’t logical that he would fear Zombies or Monsters. But it also wasn’t logical that he would survive a bomb drop and end up in this demented solitary town either, nor were the chances a black two headed dog would be his only companion. So logic really didn’t account for much to him any more.

Shit, I’m acting like a teenager.” He muttered to himself, breathing and stopping the car to collect his thoughts. “There is no one even here!”

For the uncountable hundredth time, Corey was wrong.

Shep lowered her ears flat to her head, and both heads started barking and growling at the front window. When Corey looked up there was indeed someone in the road. Or something. It looks female, but covering its head was a large skeletal mask of a crow. Large folded wings twitched at her back. Its legs were strangely shaped, the foot extending down in massive length and ending in bird like talons. Everywhere on the strange pale figure seemed to be old scraps of black leather, feathers and odd tribal hanging. From the breasts, it was obviously female. Maybe it was human, but the skin was pale to the point of alabaster blue. And the wings extended out and the trailing of feathers and leather revealed sharp talons on each hand.

They almost looked like metal. Black and silver metal like an organic nightmare on elm street. Maybe a native version complete with tribal mask and half nude creatures of the night.

Oh shit!” Without thinking he did the same thing to her that he did to the other monstrous things he’d run into. He ploughed right into her, heard the thuds and roll on the top of his car, and just kept going.

Shep hopped into the back-seat and barked so loud that Corey couldn’t think.

What the fuck was that!” He tried to glance back and the car swerved wildly. “That couldn’t be human…”

Shep was quiet now, staring out the back window as if on guard. Whatever the strange skeletal creature was – it was now gone. Without a body or answer for him.

Good dog!” He managed to call out, his heart thumping like a bat in his chest. He wished he had Meatloaf to blare on the radio. “Shit! That wasn’t human, her legs… Gods what was that?”

Of course, she didn’t answer. She just rested both heads against the back seat and peered out the back window. Silent and on guard. Shep had just earned her keep, and an equal share of any rations he found. She just saved his life. “I guess we’re sort of even now huh?”

His only response and the only noise between them for the next half out was the gentle thumping of her tail reassuring on the side of his drivers seat. Corey slowly calmed from the oddity of the encounter, though his mind refused to let the image go. He remembered details after that he didn’t think of at the time.

There was a face. Eyes and a mouth peering from beneath that giant skeletal mask. There was a face, and it had eyes and a mouth as he did. He could even recall that the eyes were clear and sharp.

It didn’t seem to make sense. Over and over he went over the details in his head. He recalled a mane of wild hair, it looked clean, but unkempt. Wild streaks of tendril hair down around the mask like snakes. She was terrifying, but also the humanity of her shape unnerved him. And then there were those wings. Maybe the mask was more of a vulture. Maybe that thing scavenged the dead – or worse. Ate the living.

It terrified him even thinking about it.

Lets not run into anyone else like that… okay girl?” She just whined and rested her head against his seat. She was right, they needed to leave the car. They had been driving for a long time and not only did they need a stretch but they also had to use a washroom soon or this car would be a lot more scented then it was.

He pulled into the parking lot of a building that looked promising. It was on the outskirts a bit and seemed to be intact. It looked like a convenience store.

With a silent breath, they shut the car off, crawled out and dashed for the door. A few frantic moments later and dog and man were inside the safety of a small run down store. “Pay dirt…” he ran for the first candy bars he saw.

Finally something good. When you seem to be the last human on the world – at least everything’s free.

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Dusk Creek: Chapter Six

[Shep finally makes her appearance… *grins*]

The city seemed to be encircled with the dark watered creek which gave the city its name. There were clearly marked nature trails that led around the deep water creek and two bridges that led to highways leaving this place. Both bridges were out to Corey’s unwanted surprise. And it also seemed that someone had been lapse in logic when naming this town.

Dusk Creek looked far more then just a trickling bit of water he’d seen in other creeks. And it seemed far more vicious then just a river he assumed at the other bridge. It seemed to encircle the city and completely cut off any chances of escape.

What’s more is while he sat staring out with the firefly headlights on the edges of the collapsed bridge he realised he also could no longer see any land on the other side. It might as well have been an island. There was thick fog and darkness that completely surrounded the edges of his headlights.

There was no way out. No sounds of rescue vehicles. No sounds of help.

Corey assumed that the electrical currents running through the street lamps must have had a power outage, because none of the wrought iron city lights came on. Not even the stop lights any more. It was merely, quiet. The only sounds he could pick up were the cold edged winds slipping past the cracks in windows, and the sound of distant howling. He assumed that was the hunting monstrous dogs he had had his encounter with. It still gave him the creeps.

He jarred the key in the ignition, turned the car around, and headed back into the heart of the city. As much as he dreaded the thought, he knew that he had to try and get some warning out that he was here. And that meant trying to find some sort of cell phone or internet connection. He would email the god damned president if it would get him out of here.

In the age of Cell phones, Internet and GPS, there was no need of telephone booths. He now wished his 30 year old self had managed to sign up for a decent cell phone before this whole mess began. Common sense indicated that if he could find any official building there had to be the proper communications department there. The hospital was definitely off limits, but there had to be other places.

Even in the dead of night he managed to find what he assumed was Main street. He had to get creative, edging his car into possible lots in order to read the signs. Residential, small business, butcher. He was starting to think nothing would come up. Finally he saw a potential glimmer in the darkness. A sign with a gavel. It was a Law Office.

He reared the car to life heading for it as fast as he could, almost afraid it too would disappear. Then suddenly there was a loud screech of something and a large thud at the front of the firefly. Corey stopped the car dead, and the colour once again drained from his eyes. His headlights barely showed the shadow of something black bulged at the front of his car.

Oh shit…” he cursed loudly, pounding his fists on the wheel. Unsure what to do he slipped the car into reverse and backed up. The black form moved and whimpered. Now the headlights looked over the creature more carefully. It looked like an animal, but not the massive monstrosities that hunted him before. It seemed thinner, sleeker. Although all he could see was it’s back.

He slipped out of the car carefully, popped the trunk. After a few minutes of frantically searching while bobbing his head from trunk to the animal he managed to grab a tire iron. He carefully shut the trunk watching the creature shift and whine before he headed towards the front bumper.

Okay… look I’m sorry for hitting you…” Corey swallowed past the lump in his throat. He came closer, lowering down to the whimpers. He saw what looked like the edges of a pink leather collar. “Just, don’t be psycho okay? Look we can help each other out… if you have an owner maybe we could find them?”

The dog seemed to be bleeding from its back leg and a gash at its chest. Already Corey noticed that the dog didn’t growl or snap at him. It seemed far more domesticated and gentle then anything else he had come across. It reminded him of the dog he had as a kid. A shaggy black Shepard that was his best friend growing up.

I’m sorry buddy… you’re a good girl” He patted her carefully and the sleek tail wagged. He even was able to wrap his arms around the dog and shuffle it around so he could better see it in the headlights.

That was when something else became far more apparent that forced him to jolt away from the animal. In the light of the car headlights he could see its front portion easier, and splitting from the top part of its chest came two separate necks, and two separate heads. Complete duplicates of each other. The four eyes stared at him in pain and fear. Two identical faces watching him and begging for his help. Deep silver blue eyes pleading with him for mercy.

What the hell…”

The trip to the law office had to wait. Instead against better judgement he again picked up the animal, careful of both jaws which whined close to his exposed throat. He managed to get her inside the car, laying her out against the back-seat.

He wouldn’t simply leave her for the mangy dogs, or anything else sneaking in to finish her off. Freaky as she was, she did seem at least to be kind, and she at least didn’t look like she’d rip out his throat. He hoped that he wasn’t seriously mistaken.

He found himself back in the Smiths apartment and eventually he managed to make it inside with her in his arms and locked the apartment again. She was laid out as comfortably as he could manage for her on top of the black leather couch. Both heads laying side by side between her large paws.

It was definitely a female and it seemed it was just as scared about the situation here as he was. She was thin and had a fair number of scrapes, cuts, bite marks and bruises hiding under her sleek black coat. It looked as if she had just a rough time so far as Corey. On the collar, which wrapped around the girth of both necks, had a small silver tag. “Shep”. No phone number, no contact information. Just the four letter name engraved in silver metal.

It didn’t seem like a smart idea to bring her back into his home base, but he felt some company was better then none at all. He used the med kit to wrap and splint Shep’s back leg, although thankfully it had seemed like the bone was unbroken. He hoped the salve would work just as well on dogs as it would humans. When he had cleaned up and wrapped any of the areas he could, he let her rest and began raiding the fridge a second time.

I hope you don’t die on me. I could use one friend here…” he fried an egg, made some bacon. He even cooked a few pieces of toast and when he had his share he saved just as large a portion for the dog to cool. “You know, not many girls get breakfast in bed…”

He chuckled to himself, then went and sat carefully at the edge of the couch. She seemed to be sleeping deeply, her soft tongues lolled out of both her mouths. Deep breathing and ribs showing made her look as if she was deep into a painful sleep. He carefully pet her and leaned his head back onto the couch. “It’s okay girl. You’ll be alright.”

Under his hand he swore her breathing seemed more relaxed. As if maybe part of her was comforted by his words. As foolish as it was, and as much as he didn’t want to, he ended up falling asleep right there, with his hand resting on the oddest dog he had ever seen. Somehow, part of him felt contented just to feel the vibrations of another heartbeat under his fingers. If nothing else, now he wasn’t alone.

Dusk Creek: Chapter Five

[Warning: things start to get a little more rated Mature due to violent content ahead!]

Dusk Creek was a different city under the light of a new day. The large gaping hole where the hospital had been looked far more menacing when he looked at it closer. Cables and wires still hung from where it should have been connected. A large part of the earth under the hospital looked as if it had been taken in the blast as well. It almost seemed… deeper somehow. As if it had grown overnight.

He backed away from the cracked sign and the voided hospital and went first to the empty vehicles on the street. There was no way he would enter the blood soaked Grand Am, the Mercedes or the Dodge Ram. Further up the street he found a grey two-door Firefly. It looked beat up, rusted in spots, and definitely wasn’t a chick magnet. However it was clean on the inside save for a spot on the outside handle of the car where flies seemed to be gathering.

More importantly, he noticed the dangling of keys hanging out of the ignition like a baited trap. The keys were at least a tantalizing hint that maybe this car would start.

He didn’t have time to contemplate his decision. From the distance he heard snarling and barking. He turned in time to see a pack of three horribly disgusting looking dogs heading his way. And they did not look friendly.

Oh shit!” he threw his backpack into the passenger’s seat and shoved himself inside the small car. He barely shut the door and hit the lock before the first huge beast slammed into the door. Large dogs, spitting drool foam and blood against the glass of his driver’s door. “Bull mastiffs?” he looked them over, but couldn’t be certain of the breed. They seemed oddly bigger then they should be, and were currently trying to rip apart the front bumper.

Oh, I don’t think so Cujo…” After a few rough starts, more cursing and a final slam on the ignition, the car reared to life. He slammed it backwards into reverse, knocking one of the monstrous dogs loose from the bumper before hitting it in Drive and slamming into, and over it with a jarring force.

He kept his eyes closed as he heard the mangled yelps and the snarling barks of the other two. His foot dug into the gas pedal as hard and as heavy as he could. So hard that his toes hurt as he buzzed past other empty vehicles and through stop signs.

Holy hell!” he glanced back but the animals were long gone from the rear view mirror. He scanned around the car frantically waiting for another to lunge at him, but wherever they had gone he seemed to leave them in his dust. The adrenaline buzzed in his ears. His foot eased up slightly.

Past abandoned cars and presumably empty homes he sped. One street after the other he past by with no signs that anyone else was alive here. Closer and closer to what he hoped was a highway. Corey tried frantically twisting and turning the radio dials for some sort of distracting sound while he steered and dove around empty cars and blacked out street-lights. All he heard was static. Eerily quiet and steady static that frustrated him and caused him to smash his fist against the wheel.

It was then when his head gazed upwards and he started to realise the landscape had changed. Large empty holes started to open up where buildings seemingly had been. He dodged around two empty trucks and pulled closer to the curb in order to better look over the damage. His foot lifted from the pedal and he coasted slow enough to look more carefully at the gaping holes and the signs posted on now empty lots.

The first one he saw was ‘Dusk Creek Retirement Centre’ had a perky bird sitting on the sun. It looked almost sickening sweet. Underneath it there was gold scripted words reading ‘Live your last days to their fullest’.

Well that’s morbid…” he muttered and swallowed past the lump in his throat. It looked as if even in its best of days it was a place where old people simply went to die. He couldn’t help thinking that was quite a stupid phrase for old people. “Live your last days to their fullest” seemed to be a depressing thought for anyone.

He would find nothing to improve his mood either. When another commercial property with a gaping hole appeared the sign posted told him it used to be the ‘Redeemer Church’. Now there was nothing remaining but a small white birch out front, a few untouched flowerbeds that seemed to be wilting, the sound of water running from a burst water pipe into the hole, and its aged sign.

Next to the sign was a large old cracked bell out front like a monument. The sign itself only had two words for the Sunday sermon. SAVE US written in large black mounted letters. The glass holding them was shattered and the S and U had tilted to nearly falling off. It sent shivers up his spine. “Coincidence… that’s all. Fuck Corey you are losing it.”

Past the retirement home and the church– more homes seemed to have been ripped from their foundations. Now wherever his gaze fell seemed to have missing pieces. It was as if they were simply removed from the city, foundations and all. Just like the Hospital had been.

There was no denying it now; he had to get out. And fast. Without hesitation his foot heavily pumped onto the gas treading the car faster down the abandoned road. He sped up, heading for the overpass. It seemed like the only exit, a large bridge that spanned the enormous black serpent of water flowing under the overpass, far more like a raging river then a trickling creek.

He gunned for it but was forced to slam his feet on the brakes so hard he plummeted into the dash board with a sickening thud. Where there once had been a bridge, there was now only another gaping hole.

No way…” he backed up and spun the car around. He would simply drive the perimeter of the entire city if he needed to. He was not planning on spending another night here.

Dusk Creek: Chapter Four

Groggy and with a side order of pounding headache. Corey wasn’t aware of his own surroundings until he was in the shower for fifteen minutes. The pounding warm water waking him in dull remembrance of the previous day’s hell. Hung-over without the joy buzz of drinking himself to oblivion.

He found shampoo, and he found soap. And in a little way it felt like he was washing clean anything contaminated his mind warned him might be imprinted into his skin. He scrubbed himself raw hoping that when he stepped out of the shower, somehow he would find himself in his own bathroom. But wrapped in a clean white towel, the only familiar thing about the bathroom was the clothes he had stolen from the Smiths closet.

At least he was clean. And after the saving grace of finding a few extra toothbrushes still in the package. “Who buys extra toothbrushes anyway?” he scrubbed his teeth and managed to recognize the dark circled eyes staring back at him. The stubble would have to stay; he had bigger fish to fry.

He managed to raid the fridge, finding plenty of food that was unspoiled and untouched. He was never a great cook, but even he was impressed on how much like a proper breakfast it actually tasted like. A fried egg, accidentally scrambled. A piece of toast lathered in butter. And finally a large glass of ice and the most delicious apple juice he ever scarfed down. It filled the empty spaces in his stomach that was grumbling for sustenance.

Fuck it, if I’m going to die – I’m going to die Full.” And with that he quickly poured and drank another full glass of cold juice. It was like a parched man’s paradise.

There were oddities that started to make themselves apparent in the Smiths apartment. Like the fact there were no clocks. An odd little thing that confused Corey when he tried desperately to find out what time it even was.

There were no newspapers, no magazines. There was nothing which would give him an indication of any useful information. He even found oddly enough there was nothing which even showed the hint of a world outside of Dusk Creek. The Smiths, he guess, were boring as hell.

Corey at least found a large backpack tucked into the back of a linen closet. It looked like it had been an old pack from school years gone by. He wondered vaguely if the Smiths had a son, and if he did why there weren’t more signs of him. Maybe he was grown with his own children somewhere and got the hell out of this place. It’s what he would have done.

Extra clothes, packaged food, canned goods. Whatever he could fit into the pack he took. After all it wasn’t necessarily thievery if nobody was here to care.

When he found a clean, perfectly folded blanket he shook it out and rolled it up. It was then attached with ripped sheets to the top of the backpack. It reminded him of cliché explorer’s packs they used in movies or the dreaded Indiana Jones series. It would have seemed ridiculous if he wasn’t terrified of what he might encounter. Who knows what might become useful out there.

It seemed strange that he was planning on leaving the safe little apartment. More then once he argued with himself on what he should do. The television wasn’t any help – the static was unbearable. With no newspapers or radios in this place he would never know what happened to him. He needed to find out, and he couldn’t do it here. A last minute run to the bathroom provided him a first aid kit from the bathroom cabinet. He hoped he wouldn’t have a need to use it.

He finally found the name of the apartment building mocking him from close to the glass doorways where he waited. Summerside Apartments. It sounded so cheery and gleeful. It nearly made him feel a little sick inside.

He imagined that it must have been a retirement home of sorts. A place where people lived happily forgotten. Maybe that explained why there was so little of the outside world inside this place. It was like people just went there to forget all about the crappy city this place must be. Maybe all those happy smiling faces on the walls of the Smiths apartment were all just little lies that made two grumpy old people feel like they had a life once.

That or maybe he really should have checked the other apartments. Perhaps he would have found something more. But now wasn’t the time to play catburgler, breaking in to wherever he could just to steal a few things that he might never need.

He needed to get home. He needed to see his mother again, his friends. He needed to find out what happened to him. None of those things he’d find at Summerside.

Corey’s new outfit consisted of remnants of the ripped sheet as a makeshift cloak to protect him from invisible radiation, even if he realised it was just a stupid idea. He still felt better pulling it over his head, taking one last deep long breath; then flying through the doors hoping for the best – but fearing the worst.

Short Story: Alice’s Epiphany

Alice’s Epiphany

“Off with her HEAD!” screamed the Queen. Poor Alice stood frozen in fear. There seemed no waking from the nightmares here. She had no idea why she’d even came – or how most importantly to get home again. Now this Queen with a voice like a gull was screaming for death. “Off with her head!”

“Don’t worry my dear,” Chesh snickered with glee, appearing behind her – gripping her sleeve. “The Hatters bound to intrude in a moment or three.. and proving his head doesn’t end up on the platter – maybe he’d have some advice for escaping this matter?”

Alice groaned to herself and knew she was screwed – the Hatter was gone and passed out on shrooms.

And then in with a clatter came the very mad hatter, stoned half out of his mind. Dragging the Hare by the edge of her ear and caterpillar trailing behind. How they got past the gate she’d never know. Though his eyes seemed strange and he seemed to glow. A trick of the light, she muttered real low.

“See we’re not late!” He chuckled, out loud. Turning the attention on them, and their little crowd.

“What is this?” screamed the Queen upon seeing the scene- and the Hatter in her own front yard. She glared daggers out her eyes, at the one she despised. Teeth now tightly grinding back and forth.

“Full house,” the bunny cried while the chaos amplified. As if that weren’t enough to make Alice’s nerves twitch – Across the Queens foot three mice ran.

She exclaimed “Son of a Bitch!”

“Hatter, are you MAD?” Alice shouted, as the cards gathered ranks. Carrying the Queens Axe to her hand. He approached her without fear, or proper co-ordination wobbling this way and that.

“Obviously he’s Mad.” Chesh answered, with a grin settled on her lips. They both watched him foolishly sway while he adjusted his hat once again.

“I suggest we leave..” the bunny interrupted while running now at full speed. Uncaring what happened with them, as long as she got out safe. “I’m already too late!” came a tumbling excuse. “Best to not make them wait!”

“My Queen!” The hatter grinned and ducked a swing with a sarcastic and wobbly bow. “How good it is to see you!” He backed up when the Axe came down where his head would have been.

“Hold still!” She screamed cheeks reddening now, while she once again hoisted the blade. Five cards this time sliced right in half on her lawn, as the Axes sharp tip was displayed.

“Off with your head!” She roared while swinging again, her cheeks puffed and red.

“For such a demanding woman,” he said as he dodged, “Your aim is really bad. You certain my holding still would improve what chances you had?”

“You think you could do better?” she sneered, now barely missing his neck. She huffed and she puffed as she started to grow weary, he could have let her rest but instead grinned in sadistic query.

“That would be counter productive wouldn’t you say?” He rolled back and tipped his hat as more cards were lost in the fray. “I mean I wouldn’t be a fair man. Your target is far smaller then mine would be with axe at hand.”

The insult was subtle and missed by a few but the Queen heard it all too well. She twitched one eye and hollered anew as the cards stacked then fell. The Hatter seemed lost under them all, as they piled onto his frame. Poor Alice was beside herself now felt her hope disappear again.

“This is crazy!” Alice gasped while the chaos ensued. In front of her rolling into existence Chesh came back into view, green orbs capturing hers with intensity. Taking her vision away from the scene.

“Now Alice, this is nothing –“ She grinned and she purred. Tail flicked along her side, trying to comfort the girl. “What you should be asking, should you want the solution– is why on earth are you still alive? If all this is madness and we’re quite insane – my girl where exactly are you to this place?”

“Wonderland,” She mumbled ignoring the question trying to block her voice out of mind.

But it was hard not to listen when around you is madness and the Hatter was surely going to die. Somewhere the queen was screaming while her axe was trashing her yard. Bits of her own men made a blizzard of paper shards.

“Wonderland, Wonderland –“ Chesh purred softly while away faded fur and skin. Leaving only her eyes as green as jade – and her teeth locked into a grin.

“My girl, you have no idea where this really is, it’s funny I dare say. All this time you’ve blamed us…” her voice chuckled deeply. “While all along you’ve been leading the way.”

The Hatter still pinned beneath an army of cards, trying to avoid the Axe. From among the sea of the paper army came the appearance of a hand. With a flick of his wrist, and a chuck of his hat the hookah and caterpillar tumbled out.

It seemed anti-climatic for a moment or two as the tiny caterpillar uncurled. And blowing upon the hookah pipe suddenly he spoke almost too quiet to hear – “This stuff is good…”

With a blink and a rattle the glass suddenly shattered, and gas just billowed on out. The chaos and fighting, the Hatter and Queen – disappeared to a canvas of white. Surrounding Alice now was a curtain of smoke, silence, and seemingly nothing else.

“My mind?” Alice whispered to herself, so she thought as she glanced at walls of smoke.

It all was much quieter then it had ever been, and all the lonelier as well. She looked herself over again and again, while her mind tried sorting it out.

“Maybe it’s all a dream,” she whispered slowly, her words seemed unsure and meek. “Wouldn’t I wake up, if I simply fell asleep? No…” she sighed pinching herself real hard to be sure. “Then maybe…” she shivered deep. Thoughts clashed inside her head. “If I am not just sleeping then maybe I am dead?”

“I certainly hope not..” the Hatter answered softly, coming to her with a bow. Appearing almost gracefully from around the drifting cloud. “My Lady, Alice dear I am glad that you are well.”

“You’re bleeding.” She whispered softly, removing the bow from her hair. Quietly and gently, she wiped the crimson from his arm. Traced along him were tears and slices from his battle with the cards.

Her eyes were watered now and her throat felt much to tight. She seemed a ball of nerves, and given quite a fright. She wasn’t sure how much she’d take, before she simply took too much. She wondered how badly it would hurt – should her soul just break apart.

“My Alice,” he smiled, almost too sincere, then tipped her chin up gently to wipe away her tears. “You are not dead my lass, you’re very much alive.”

“Then am I mad?” she whispered softly, lost into his eyes.

His grin seemed just like Chesh, with an undertone of sad. He lowered down and bowed to her. “We’re all a little mad.”

  • (c) Crowskin

Dusk Creek: Chapter Three

It was amazing what can be found in another persons belongings. Corey quickly found out that the owner of this apartment was not Mrs. Burket with her knitting and cats, and instead belonged to the Smiths.

It seemed that just like the common name, these people seemed relatively common. Almost to the point of being a little too normal. He found nothing surprising, no dark skeletons in their closets. There were plenty of cross-stitched projects never completed. There were jigsaw puzzles almost assembled, but missing the final pieces. And there were plenty of classic books from Moby Dick, to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

Mr. Smith seemed to be a fairly large man. He was in photos as a round man smiling at Corey from the hallway pictures. An older man with salt and pepper hair, holding a beautiful older woman in his arms. The presumed Mrs. Smith. Oddly they seemed very happy in each of the photos, even the ones with the faux glued on photographers smile.

There was pictures of a multitude of cousins and uncles and an assortment of other strangers somehow of importance to them. Each photo seemed the same, portraits and living rooms. Nothing excited, no vacation images. They seemed to live a relatively boring life.

There didn’t seem to be a drop of liquor in the whole place, which disappointed Corey some. A stiff drink would have severely helped his nerves.

Finally when he found the master bedroom there was a sense of retreat. Clean dark wood furniture, white walls, and cream carpet. It was like a hotel room, untouched and clean. It took all his effort to avoid falling into that soft bed and never waking up again. Not until this whole mess somehow resolved itself.

Not yet…” he murmured to himself, instead turning to the large closet doors.

Inside the master bedroom closet is where he found Mr. Smiths black leather shoes. Shiny and well polished as if he was meticulous with the care of them. In fact the whole closet was so carefully folded and pressed to perfect crisp edges that Corey guessed he had a lot of time on his hands, or Mrs. Smith was the perfect wife.

The first few moments of guilt associated with destroying such a clean organized space faded away as the storm progressed. Wherever the Smiths were now, they wouldn’t need these clothes and Corey desperately did.

He pulled the clothes off hangers and out of shelves, tossing them onto the bed and sorting through them as quick as possible. He found the shoes were slightly larger then his own feet, but with the right pair of socks he was certain they would fit well enough. He also waded through a multitude of oversized dress and polo shirts. They smelled like high end department stores.

Eventually the tide of clothes subsided and he was left dressed in formal black pants held up by a tan leather belt, and a blue and white pinstriped dress shirt which hung on his obviously smaller frame. Even with the mess being stuffed back into the closet, he came out finally feeling human again, and not just a runaway patient.

With trudging feet he made his way to the door and locked it tightly. As much as he felt bad for possibly locking people out of their own house, he reasoned that it was still safer to sleep in a locked room until he was sure what was going on.

Tomorrow he would start the hard work. He would have to find if there were others here. Find out what happened. And most of all, find his way out of Dusk Creek.

Happy Birthday Corey…” he muttered to himself while he retreated to the safety of the master bedroom. “Let’s hope it’s not your last.”