Haunted

Compendium (noun): a collection of things that have been gathered together and presented as a group especially in the form of a book.

The following short story is in collaboration with Adam K. Moore and is set in the world he created with his first novel, COMPENDIUM TWENTY-THREE: PART I, Through the Valley.

The subsequent companion short stories are meant to enhance and expand that universe in and beyond Independence, Indiana.  I strongly encourage you to check out the original story and fully immerse yourself in the battle for good and evil.

Saturday, October 30th – Devil’s Night

“Did you turn the porch light on?” she called from the other room.

“Yeah, I think so.  I’ll double check,” he said as he stood up from the couch and meandered toward the front door.  “Hmm, I guess not,” he commented to himself, flipping the light switch before returning to his spot in the living room.

“I thought you said this was on?” she asked moments later when she entered the room.  She stopped by the door and peeked out the small window, noticing the absence of light that should be guarding their front porch.

He stepped to the door, cracking it open enough to reach the light fixture attached to the front of the house.  The bulb came to life with a tightening twist into the socket, revealing a splattered mess on the front steps.  The man jumped back in disgust.  Before him were the guts of a decorative pumpkin, splayed out like the innards of a stabbing victim.  Almost instantly, a black blur streaked across his periphery.  A chill ran down his spine as his eyes focused on the neighbor’s cat and he began to connect the dots.  “Neighborhood kids must’ve loosened the bulb enough to keep it from coming on when they smashed our pumpkin.  They do love their pranks this time of year.”  After pulling the door closed, he returned to the couch.  Sitting next to his wife, they turned to the television and settled on a scary movie to watch.

Neither of them noticed the doorknob slowly beginning to turn until the door started to creak open.  “Okay, opening somebody’s door is going too far,” the man said, getting back up from his seat.  He stood in the doorway, glowering out into the night to let whoever was out there know that he was not amused, before firmly closing the door.

Just then, the floor vase inside the door frame tipped over, crashed to the floor and spilled the autumn array of silk flowers, miniature pumpkins and gourds.  “Son of a …” His words trailed off before finishing the sentence.

“I’m in,” Jaul thought to himself.  The vase falling over from his momentum as he possessed it was a happy accident.  He was simply trying to get through the door without being seen, and in his haste tipped over his newest hideout.

“Well,” the lady thought out loud, “that was a creepy couple of minutes.  Come sit back down so we can enjoy this movie together.”  Little did the couple know that there was a demon in their presence.

And not just any demon.  He had earned a nasty reputation throughout his existence, and was now considered to be one of the underworld’s “favored.”  He always had a tendency to toy with his prey.  He possessed a knack for driving his victims mad before moving on to his next subjects.

Jaul had managed to gain entry into the house by inhabiting physical possessions and bouncing from object to object.  As soon as the couple was engrossed in the movie, the demon made his next move from the vase to the mirror hanging above the hallway table at the foot of the stairs.

During the next commercial break of the movie, the woman stood from the couch and made her exit from the living room, announcing, “Be right back.  Nature calls.”  As she walked past the hanging mirror she heard a faint cracking sound.  She glanced in the direction of the décor when the reflective glass snapped, forming a spider web of cracks.  The woman gasped and jumped back.  “What is going on around here?!  I can’t handle all this, I’m leaving!”

“It’s just somebody trying to scare us.  There’s no reason to go anywhere,” the man assured her.  With his convincing to stay, she bounded up the stairs as fast as she could and took comfort in the safety of their bedroom.

“Not sure how they pulled this one off,” the man commented aloud to himself.  He picked up a couple small slivers of glass from the floor and threw them in the trash before turning off the downstairs lights for the remainder of the evening and joining his wife upstairs.

Sunday, October 31st – All Hallows’ Eve

The sun rose accompanied with the all too familiar blaring from the alarm clock.  The couple fell into their daily morning routine, giving no thought to the events of the night before.  With the morning still young, the couple made their departure from the house.

“Finally,” Jaul said to his fractured reflection in the mirror.  The demon then made his first full appearance, able to manifest himself outside of his physical possession as a perk of being considered one of the favored.  He stretched his impossibly thin, frail looking limbs after being cooped up in the confines of his inanimate possession, knowing that he had the place to himself.

Not knowing how long he would have full reign over the residence, he made quick work preparing the upcoming tricks.  He found a radio on the kitchen counter and turned the tuning knob between stations.  He loosened every light bulb in the kitchen and connected dining room a full turn each.  As he set the furnace to its highest setting, he heard voices approaching the front door.  The stage was set.  His final possession was the closest electrical outlet, which gave him full access to the wiring throughout the entire domicile.  From here, he would have the means to execute every trick he had set up.

The front door opened, revealing the couple and several guests.  “What a good sermon this morning,” the lady of the house commented.

“That’s the message I’ve needed to hear for a while now,” one of the guests chimed in.

Dishes of food were carried in by each person.  “Oh this is too perfect,” Jaul hissed silently to himself.  The group gathered around the dining table and a prayer was said to bless the bounty.  That act alone was enough to get Jaul’s blood boiling.  “Stupid humans.  There’s nothing He can do to help you now.”

The man from last night stood up and flipped the light switch, expecting the fixture above the dining table to light the gathering.  “Not again,” he groaned.  He tried the other switch for the recessed accent lights.  Shadows remained.  Having learned from the prior evening, he gave each bulb a slight twist.  Electricity flowed through them, illuminating the room, casting out any remaining darkness.

The man’s partner began rehashing the events of the past night.  As she finished her spooky tale, the kitchen radio kicked on, blasting static at full volume.  Everyone at the table visibly jerked, startled by the sudden noise.  The man jumped up, racing to turn off the infernal sound.

“Oh my,” an older lady said, attempting to catch her breath from the scare.  “Is anybody else getting warm?” she asked the group.

Returning to the dining room, the man eyed the thermostat on the wall by the light switch, noticing that it was set to 99 degrees and the fan was on high speed.  “What is going on?  How is this happening?” the man wondered to himself, trying not to frighten the guests.  He returned the furnace settings to normal before rejoining the group at the table.

Several taps on the door came next, unsettling the nerves of the church-goers even more, as each of them were now on edge.  The woman proceeded to the front door to peek outside.  She sighed a breath of relief, opening the door and revealing the smiling pastor to the gathering.

“Oh, father, you scared us!” a middle-aged woman commented.  “There have been some weird things happening here.”

“Oh?” the pastor inquired.

“Pastor.  Father.”  The words echoed in Jaul’s head.  He was disgusted.  He switched the furnace controls back to their highest settings from within.

The group reprised the latest happenings to the pastor, all chiming in with their own details.  His expression transitioned from humored at the beginning to concerned by the end.  “This is worrisome,” he responded.  “Please, check the thermostat again,” he requested, undoubtedly feeling the heat.

“It’s been adjusted again,” the man of the house stated flatly.

“Let’s all take hands, shall we?” the pastor instructed.  They all bowed their heads in unison as the pastor continued in prayer.

Jaul instantly grew unsettled.  As the pastor’s voice grew more resolute, the demon’s discomfort grew greater and greater.  The light bulbs in the dining room gradually began to brighten.  The more agitated Jaul was, the brighter they became.  Once Jaul reached his limit, the lights began flickering.  The man opened his eyes.  Nobody else in the group dared take a peek.  The light bulbs burst, showering glass down on the food and all of the guests.  Everyone winced, but the man was still the only one with the resolve to watch what was happening.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw claw marks form in the drywall from inside the structure.  The scratches led directly to an electrical outlet next to the front door.  Seemingly out of nowhere, the man witnessed a hideous beast appear.  Its skin was a dark red, almost leather-like.  Its legs seemed double jointed, similar to a dog’s hind legs bent backward at the knee in a sickening fashion.

Jaul glared at the man as the demon’s beady eyes bore straight through him.  Jaul’s head snapped forward, imperceptibly fast, and the demon bolted through the front door.  The man dropped the hands of those on either side of him and briskly walked to the open door.  In the span of seconds, the demon had disappeared from site, taking refuge in the desolate work site at the local hospital just down the street.

Jaul seethed from his new hiding spot, knowing he would have until Monday morning when the workers would return to occupy the work site.  “Let the games begin…” he snarled.

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Filed under Compendium Twenty-Three, Fiction

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