Written for SCREAMS!! Sal finds her long lost son...
|Written for "SCREAMS!!!"
I dropped my husband, Bill off at his doctor appointment, then drove to the little shop at the edge of town. I hoped nobody would see me. This was not a well-respected establishment.
The dim shop reeked of essential oils and something that reminded me of mothballs. The plump woman motioned me to a back room, where a small, metal pin awaited me.
The woman, whose name I’ve long forgotten, held it out in a little box with a satin lining. The brooch felt hot in my hands, despite the cool, rainy day.
The thing radiated a strange yellow glow, that seemed to undulate and flicker, casting strange silhouettes on the shop’s walls.
“And this will help find my boy?” I dared speak.
She nodded and studied me with a knowing look. “This will attract the demons. You’ll see.” Then she pointed at the price tag. Fifty bucks. I knew it would be hard for me to spend that much without Billy knowing. I had to try, though.
I paid her the cash and she slipped my purchase into a paper bag. There were no goodbyes exchanged, as I rushed out into the drizzle to my car. The whole transaction happened quicker than I expected and I was glad. If any of our friends saw me at “that” place, Billy would hear about it before he left the doctor’s office.
Billy never wanted me to look for Tyler, our son. Shortly after he turned ten, my poor sweet boy disappeared without a trace. Sure, there was a search party, organized by the county, but after two weeks, they gave up. Told me there was no way he could still be alive, and that was that.
I stowed the still glowing brooch in my handbag and headed to Dr. Pete’s office to pick up Billy. He was waiting outside on the sidewalk for me and plopped down on the passenger seat with a groan. His back had been bothering him. That’s why he went to see “those money grubbers” in the first place.
“That was hell,” he barked as he told me all about the waiting room, the exam, the wait time, every bland detail. I realized I must have sat in the car looking at that glowing oddity longer than I thought.
I was about to chirp out a compulsory, “That’s nice dear,” when a strange thing happened.
A brilliant yellow light, almost as blinding as the sun itself broke forth from the leather confines of my purse, which sat between Billy and me.
“What the hell you got in there, Sal?” Billy fumbled with the clasp, not waiting for an answer.
“No. Wait.” I swerved the car off the road and slammed on the brakes. I reached for the bag, but it was too late. He’d already pulled my new purchase out. It shone brighter now, fully exposed.
“Damn, Sal, how do you turn this thing off?” He tossed it in my purse, his eyes squinted shut.
“You don’t, you fool.” I snatched my purse back and pulled the brooch out. In my hands, the piece still glowed, but not so bright. It had become a dull pulse. I wondered if Billy had broken it.
“How did you do that?”
“Make it dim like that? What in God’s name is it?” Billy looked interested then.
“I can’t tell you.”
“Saaaal," he drew out my name with a sad, puppy dog look.
“It’s a brooch. It’s supposed to have some sort of powers. To help me find Tyler.” Confessing the whole thing made me feel sort of silly because I had tried so hard to keep the purchase from him, only to give up the secret within the first few minutes.
I expected anger, an attitude. Something other than what I got.
He softened and put a warm hand on mine. “Honey, I think it’s time I showed you something. Let’s go to the cemetery”
“Why? Did they call you in?” I felt confused because Billy was just two months away from retirement as the graveyard maintenance man. Sometimes they called him in if he needed to dig a grave or plant grass where a new grave had just been put in. He wouldn't need to mow it. Not in a rainstorm.
He didn’t answer, and we drove on in silence. The rain tapped out a somber melody on the roof of the car.
Billy led the way as soon as the car stopped. We walked down the main path and then headed to the older part of the cemetery. The part I liked the best because of all the interesting old graves.
At the far corner of the fenced in property stood a stone building. It looked like a crypt but wasn’t. The town thought it would look better to make the storage building look like the old mausoleums. Billy unlocked the heavy door.
“What’s that noise?” Billy stopped with the door open and turned to me. I shrugged.
Then I heard it. A whine, almost like the shrill scream of a boiling tea kettle. The noise squealed from my purse. The brooch either really liked, or really hated that place. That’s when I started to get scared. Why did Billy take me there? What did this have to do with my Tyler?
“Billy?” I questioned as he ushered me inside.
“I’ll explain. Shut that thing up, would ya?” I didn’t know how to operate it, so I left it in the rain just outside the door, and Billy closed us inside, away from the interruption.
“Hon. I know where Tyler is.”
I started to cry then. Because we were in a cemetery, I assumed he meant that my baby was dead. Before I could ask which plot he was in, he continued.
“I’m sorry, Sal. He wasn’t right. You never believe it, but he was bad. Evil.”
The tears were soon replaced with anger. Had he killed my child? My only child? Why had he brought me all this way to confess?
“I...don't...understand.” I tried to keep calm, it was a trait I’d been cursed with all my life.
Billy pulled out a couple of folding chairs and urged me to sit. “Do you remember how Tyler never wanted to eat anything when he was a baby? No formula, no cereal. Nothing?”
"One day, I saw him in the backyard eating a pigeon. Then there were all those reports of missing animals, dead livestock. You remember?”
I nodded again, the slow realization of where the story could be heading, brought on a touch of nausea.
“When he got a little older, he didn’t want animals anymore. He tried to kill me one night. Tried to gnaw my damn arm off. That’s when I brought him here.” He pointed downward.
“What? He’s alive?” My heart leaped. How had he survived all those years in a dank basement?
“He couldn’t survive at home, Sal. He couldn’t start killing people. I knew he’d be safe here, and I’ve been feeding him...the bodies.” Billy pointed toward the graveyard.
Oh dear Lord.
Billy opened up a hatch in the floor, and immediately the smell of dead flesh floated up to greet us. A faint, demonic whisper echoed through the concrete space.
“I eats the eyeballs one by one...I eats the toasies two by two…”
“Sal, there’s one more thing.” Billy closed the hatch door. “With me retiring soon, I planned on coming here to...you know. Finish the job.”
I gasped. The idea of finding my son only to witness my husband murder him proved to be too much. However, we couldn’t leave him there for the next maintenance man to discover.
Bitter tears stung my cheeks as we made the final decision.
The sky began to darken outside the window, and a yellow glow shown in from the brooch. I didn’t hear the shrill scream anymore, so I brought the magical piece inside, so the bright light wouldn’t draw attention.
Billy reached for the brooch, flung the hatch door open, and held the glowing object in front of him like a lantern.
He descended the ladder and was gone a long time.
After an hour or so, the scratchy, demonic whispers continued.
“I eats the eyeballs one by one...I eats the toesies two by two.”
I screamed when I heard the familiar voice of my husband.
The woman at the store was right. I could see it all now. The brooch did indeed attract the demons. My husband feasted on our son, as the evil enjoyed its new host.
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