What waits for a young man in love when he has a rendezvous at an abandoned insane asylum?
|by Doug Oldfield
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Zach asked.
“She said to meet her tonight before eight o’clock. That’s what I’m going to do,” Brad answered.
“I know. Just tell me why she would want to meet at the Talbot Building? That place has been abandoned for years,” Zach said. “Besides, that was a loony bin, a house for the insane. That’s the stuff horror movies are made of.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. That’s halfway between home and Grove City. This way neither of us will have to drive the whole way.”
“Brad, you’ve only known this girl for two weeks. Why would you drive all this way to meet her at such an out of the way spot?”
“I think I’m in love,” Brad answered.
“You’re what?” Zach exclaimed. “The old Bradster’s in love? I can’t believe it.”
“You saw her, right? Her deep brown eyes, her silky auburn hair and those lips,” he sighed. “I could lose myself in her.”
“Man, you’re creepin’ me out. I’ve never heard you talk like this.”
“I’m twenty-four. Don’t you think it’s about time I grew up?”
“Why? I’m twenty-five and I haven’t.”
Brad knew better than to argue with Zach. It could go on forever. He remembered a time in grade school when they argued over which teacher was more strict, Mr. Ross or Mrs. Murphy. Zach wouldn’t give an inch. He swore that Mr. Ross could kick Mrs. Murphy’s ass in a fight. Finally Brad conceded, even though he had seen Mrs. Murphy chase Mr. Ross out of her classroom. He knew that woman was meaner than any man could ever be.
He and Zach had been best friends since they were six years old. They were neighbors and the neighborhood was their world. When they graduated high school Brad went to Ohio State and Zach went to Louisiana University down in Lafayette. They had been home for the summer about a week when Brad met Teri. He knew that Zach now felt like a third wheel but love could not stop for friendship. Brad asked Zach to come on this little trip to keep him from feeling left out. For some reason Zach really wanted to be with him tonight. Since there had been several murders in the area recently Zach offered himself as security
“Dad, are we there yet?” Zach whined.
“Very funny. You know it’s just over the hill.”
The road peaked and then began its downward slope. Before them stood the Talbot House, once an insane asylum it now stood tattered and worn. It was abandoned several years ago but now stood empty, broken windows, tarnished sign and weathered by years of neglect. In the sunlight it was just broken and run down. Brad knew that when the sun set the building would look as if it were straight out of a Hollywood horror flick.
“Well, there it is,” Zach said. “Do you realize if we were home right now we could be in my parents basement killing a six pack?”
“Right now this is where I want to be. I thought you were okay with this?”
“I am,” Zach answered. “It’s just . . ,” he trailed off as they pulled into the long drive of the Talbot House. “Have you ever had to do something you didn’t want to do? Ah, never mind, there she is.”
Parked near the front door was Teri’s red Chevy S-10 pick up. She was leaning against the driver’s side door facing away from the sun. Brad’s heart pounded in his chest as he slid the transmission into park and jumped from the car.
They met halfway, embraced, and their lips met. Her perfume was intoxicating, her lips soft and subtle. Brad could have remained like this for eternity. He enjoyed being completely consumed by love.
“Hey, can you guys either break it up or get a room,” Zach called.
“Why did you have to bring him?” Teri whispered.
“We were supposed to go out tonight. I didn’t want to drop him at the last minute so I told him he could come along and be our security.”
Terri looked up and met Brads eyes, “He could be our what?”
“Security,” Brad answered.
“That’s like saying Shaggy could be security for Velma and the gang. He’s a big wuss.”
“I know, but he’s my friend.”
“That’s why you’re so cute,” she said.
“Okay, now what’s this big mystery you wanted to tell me about so badly that it couldn’t wait ‘til the weekend?”
“It’s about my family,” Teri said. “We’ve got a secret that no one outside the family knows. I wanted to tell you before this went too far. You can still get out if you need to.”
“Why would I want to do that?” Brad asked. “It can’t be that bad.”
“I guess you’re right,” she shrugged. “My families secret is a physical thing.”
Brad looked into her deep, brown eyes. “What are you talking about? You’re beautiful.”
“This is just something I think you should know before we get too involved.”
“So? The suspense is killing me,” Brad said. He looked on the ground and saw how long the shadows had become. Soon it would be dark. “If you don’t come clean with me we’re going to have to spend the night in there.” He pointed to the Talbot House.
“I just don’t want to lose you,” she said. “Family secrets have a way of keeping people apart. Have you ever had to do something you didn’t want to do?” she looked over his shoulder. “Where did Zach go?”
Brad turned around and looked at the empty car. He searched the surrounding area with his eyes, no trace of him. Brad’s gaze fell on the Talbot House. Thick vegetation had swallowed what used to be open space beneath the trees. Vines climbed the walls, reaching into the open windows then trailing out again. It was as if they saw something inside and decided it would be better on the outer wall. The porch and entryway were crumbling under the weight of time. That was when it hit Brad.
“Okay, Zach. Comon’ out. You’re really funny.”
“What are you doing?” Teri asked.
“Zach’s is trying to be funny. He wanted to stay home and kill a six-pack. I dragged him with me because I thought he felt left out. So, instead of being the killer of a six pack he’s now going to play the part of the killed.”
“When we were kids he would run off into the woods when he had to do something he didn’t want to. Well,” Brad said, “here we are again. The difference now is the serial killer that’s on the lose.”
Brad walked to the front porch of the Talbot house, pulling on the door handle. It didn’t budge. He looked back toward the road and saw the shadow from the house now reached the other side of the road. The sun was beginning to set.
“What are we going to do?” Terri asked.
“I should just leave him here. It would serve him right.”
“You know we can’t do that. Let’s go look for him.”
Teri headed for the edge of the tree line surrounding the house. She was like a kid running into a playground. She giggled and almost skipped just before she disappeared into the vegetation. Brad realized she wasn’t coming out and ran after her, stopping short of the tree line.
“Teri, cut it out. Come out here where I can see you.”
“You come in and find me,” she called. “We’ll play hide and seek.”
Brad stared into the trees looking for any sign of movement. He hated the woods with a passion, always had. He couldn’t just let her run around in there by herself, she might get hurt. With mock show of courage he followed her into the darkness of the trees, brush and undergrowth.
In the overgrown, wooded countryside surrounding the Talbot house a pair of eyes followed a young man. The eyes were heavy with age and wisdom. Instinct, through years of shared knowledge, took over. The hunt was on. The animal moved through the foliage without making a sound. With a tilt of it’s head a scent was caught on the wind. A scent that told the beast of another that wondered in this, his hunting grounds.
Brad took a few more steps and stopped. Teri hadn’t called out to him in almost twenty minutes. The darkness was complete beneath the canopy of trees around him. In less than ten minutes it would be completely dark. He didn’t have a flashlight with him. Not even a pocketknife. What would I do with it anyway, he thought. Build a flashlight? He stopped and turned his head. What sounded like a snapping twig brought sweat to his forehead. Who am I trying to kid, he thought. I wouldn’t know the difference between the hop of a rabbit or the stomp of an elephant. He was completely out of his element.
Brad made his way to the side of the Talbot House. Working along the wall, he soon turned the corner. He was now behind the house, where a very large pool of water lay thirty feet from him. A few more steps and he located the back door leading off the concrete patio he now stood on. The doors here had been made of glass. Broken shards lay around his feet and inside the openings. He stepped through the doorframe and entered the house.
Brad made his way around the first floor being careful to make no unnecessary noise. He didn’t know why he was trying to be quiet but all of his nerve endings were buzzing. He saw no sign of Teri or Zach. Rounding a corner he found a staircase. Hesitating for only a few seconds, Brad climbed them to the second floor. Bright moonlight filtered through holes in the walls and the broken window s. He stopped near one of the broken windows and glanced out. The pond, located to the back of the building, clearly reflected the bright moonlight. Lucky there’s a full moon tonight, he thought. That gives us all some light to move around. .A scrape in the darkness behind him caught his attention. He turned quickly but saw nothing. A heavy, impenetrable darkness filled the. A smell he could only equate to the cathouse at the zoo filled his nostrils. He could see nothing nor did he feel the presence of someone else in the room. Brad turned back toward the window. Below him a heavy blanket of fog hung close to the ground. It thickened as he watched, swirling in the night breeze. He walked through the door to the next room and over to the window. Out the window, near the edge of a small thicket of trees, there was movement. Horror filled him as a large creature stepped from the trees. It stood on two legs and lifted its nose in the air as if to sniff the surrounding area. Another scuff on the floor behind him made his hair stand on end. Afraid of what he might see, he slowly turned, nothing there. He looked back to the window and watched the creature enter the swirling fog. It had the head of a wolf, pointed ears and an overly pointed snout. The creature had no hair and the skin looked almost black in the moonlight. It moved with grace on the rough ground. Fog floated around the animal’s knees. Brad could see the chiseled, muscular features. The arms ended in what could only be described as claws. From where he stood the creature looked like it had five fingers with very sharp nails on each hand.
Brad couldn’t believe what his eyes were telling his brain. A sudden fear gripped him when he realized Teri and Zach were somewhere out there, with the creature. He backed away from the window. As he did he saw the creature look quickly in his direction. Brad’s legs froze. The red eyes looked not at him but through him. Terror filled his lungs and he screamed. At that moment the creature bounded for the door Brad had entered earlier. He now knew he couldn’t go down the same steps he came up. No longer worried about making noise he ran to the end of the hall. It was a dead end. Another scrape behind him and he turned.
He was looking into the eyes of hell itself. The creature was at least seven feet tall with skin as black as crude oil. Moonlight reflected from the teeth that filled the long snout. A low, guttural, growl sounded from deep within the beast. The creature took another step forward. Brad pushed his back against the wall. Hoping against hope that he could melt into the plaster and wood.
Bravery brought on by shear terror straightened his backbone, cleared his mind. He called out with the loudest scream he could muster, “Teri, Zach run for the car.” Accepting his fate he charged the beast.
The wolf creature looked at it’s pathetic prey. It cringed against the wall knowing it was breathing its last breath. The creature could feel saliva dripping from its chin. Excitement ran through it like electricity. Fresh food: fresh blood. The petty creature cringing against the wall began to yell. There was something familiar about it; something that stirred the creature. Brad, the beast paused, recognition flooded through.At the same time the creature knew what to do. Bloodlust boiled over. The beast tilted its head back an howled. The howl was long and loud. It announced the creature had finished the hunt and was ready to take the prize. The wolf creature lunged at his prey.
Brad saw the creature howl. He didn’t want to go out without a fight. The creature looked him in the eye, a flash of recognition and the creature leapt at him. Brad dove toward the creature at the same time. He felt the teeth sink into his flesh. If he hadn’t dove to the right the bite would have caught him in the throat. He turned the other way. A flash of movement from the creature and the teeth found their mark. He could feel them close around his throat. Oddly enough, he thought. I don’t feel the pain. He heard a crunch that was his neck breaking. That was the last thought that crossed his mind.
Teri stumbled out of the woods onto the drive. The screams and howls still rang in her ears. Moonlight shown brightly on the cars. She saw movement at the front door. A large, black skinned werewolf turned to face her. Her feet didn’t move. The fire red eyes never left her; its path didn’t veer. The creature was within three feet of her now. It stepped in front of her and placed its claws on her shoulders. With that movement a transformation began. Black skin, red eyes and claws were all she could see. A feeling of nausea racked her body. The taste of bile in her mouth tainted once sweet breath. Long, slow howls filled the night. Soon, another joined the howls of one. Face to face they stood, arm in arm. When the howls subsided, the transformation began to reverse itself. Soon they stood in the moonlight. Zach held Teri tightly in his arms.
“It’s over,” he said.
“It had to be done. He was getting too close to the truth.”
“I know,” Zach said. “I just wish he could have lived.”
“He had to die so we could be together. Our clans demanded it. If we hadn’t done it they would have.”
“I know, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” Zach shrugged his shoulders, “I guess I failed as Brad’s Security Guard.”
They walked hand in hand to Teri’s car. Once back on the road they drove toward Grove City.