Welcome to Greyhollow, a small town with a dark past and even darker secrets...
|Chapter Four: Keep One Eye Open
People often use the expression 'if looks could kill' to describe a hateful glare. Tristan's grandmother had perfected her glance of death to the degree that he felt it the moment he opened the front door. And she wasn't even in the living room. Her recliner was empty, yet the TV was on. He shut it off to silence the irritating insurance commercials. A black cat slept on a tattered couch, opening one yellow eye when he drew near. "Hey Baset."
She yawned and rolled over, exposing her fuzzy belly. Avoiding the tempting trap, he gently pet her head and looked around cautiously. There was a palpable feeling of anger in the air but no clue as to where it was coming from. Not that he wanted to find out. Leaving the lazy feline he crept along the hall, hoping that he could sneak into the safety of his room. Softly he tread, skirting creaky floorboards with ease. Approaching the stairs, he tiptoed up them and froze at the top. The only sound was the grandfather clock ticking in the hallway below.
Exhaling quietly, Tristan slunk along. He felt like a thief in his own house, heart pounding with nervous tension as his goal grew nearer. The bedroom lay before him. Reaching out, he scarcely brushed the doorknob when the door sprang open and light spilled out into the hallway. A silhouette stood against the blinding fluorescence, arms crossed. "Hey Grandma." Tristan said as nonchalantly as one could in the face of impending doom.
Wearily, he sat on his bed and bore the brunt of her tirade as best he could. Most days she was practically brimming with the milk of human kindness, but tonight it had soured considerably. Her fury crashed over him like an ocean storm threatening to capsize his defenseless little rowboat. Outbursts were accentuated with hand motions, illustrating the bleak future awaiting him. "ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS ANSWER YOUR PHONE BUT INSTEAD YOU MADE ME SICK WITH WORRY-" She paused to take breath, giving him a much needed opening. "Hard to answer a nonexistent phone..." Placing hands on her hips, she cocked an eyebrow. "Is that so? Oh I can hardly wait to hear this." He rubbed his neck and grinned sheepishly. "Would you believe that it gave its life for my own?"
"EXPLAIN." "Ahhh well we were all hanging out at the Davidsons..." Tristan omitted certain damning details, giving a version of the truth to limit the severity of whatever punishment which he was sure to receive. "So I'm supposed to believe that you and your friends went to the Davidsons' to hang out in the barn? Not to mention being attacked by a milk cow, who happened to step on your phone...?"
Nodding emphatically, he pointed to his dirty jeans and pungent shoes. She wrinkled her nose and agreed that he certainly smelled like a barn. "BUT-" Tristan groaned inwardly as he waited for the hammer to fall. "That does not explain WHY you had a police escort."
He sighed heavily, there was no getting out of this one.
"It happened again."
The stern expression on her face softened into concern. "Why didn't you say anything?" He sagged in defeat. "I don't know." Sitting next to him, she placed an arm around his slumped shoulders. "Tell me everything."
The lines on her face deepened as she listened to his description of the mutilated bull. It was as if her boundless energy had been drained away, making her appear especially weary. After Tristan finished talking, a look of ineffable sadness passed through those hazel eyes. Standing up, she walked over to his bedroom window and gazed out into the night. After a few minutes of silence, she spoke.
"I told you that one day, all would be made clear. Now is not the time but I fear it is growing close." Before he could open his mouth she continued. "There's a reason. You just aren't ready to hear it yet." The old woman sighed. "If I had my way you would be living somewhere far away... This place has nothing to offer you. But I, I at least have one thing."
Turning from the window, she left the room. Tristan scarcely had time to puzzle over her words when his guardian returned with a small white box. "I should have given you this a long time ago. This will offer you some protection, I hope." She said and handed him the mysterious package. It was surprisingly heavy. Lifting the top off revealed a beautiful silver amulet, in the shape of an open eye. He took it out and held it up to the light, gazing in wonder.
The onyx pupil was surrounded by a jade iris, all held together with a thick silver frame. "This belonged to your mother." A pang of sorrow struck him as his fingers closed around the keepsake. Tristan looked up to see his grandmother smiling, eyes glistening with emotion. He hugged her tightly. Warm tears soaked his shirt as the scars of loss reopened for a few painful moments.
Sniffing, she let go and wiped her at her eyes. "Don't go thinking that you're off the hook now." "Guess I crossed my fingers for nothing." Chuckling, the grey haired woman picked up the empty box. "Alright wise guy, time to hit the sack." He yawned in response, flopping onto soft sheets and kicking off filthy shoes. Flicking off the light, his grandmother descended the staircase to her own room. Baset brushed against the door frame and mewed. "Missed me, eh?" Purring assent, she bounded onto the bed and rubbed a whiskery cheek on Tristan's face. He scratched behind her ears while he held up the amulet. It stared back with its turquoise eye. Not ready for the answers, eh? Guess I'll just have to find them myself.
Placing the chain around his neck, he shivered as a cool sensation rushed over his body. The metal was chilly, but oddly comforting. Baset curled next to Tristan, whose heavy eyelids drooped until he was deep asleep. Of the five eyes in that room, one remained open, ever vigilant amidst the growing dark.