Ritual Possessions

It was already more than halfway through thesummer and the guys felt like it was the first time they had a chance to relax.They were in the middle of a road-trip; a much needed escape, a chance to lettheir guard down. A lot had happened since January.

Todd needed an excuse to get away, so hevolunteered to drive his busted old Honda, effectively getting this idea for alake-trip rolling. Allen sat shotgun trying to enjoy the scenery of the passingmountains. And then there was Steve, sitting in the back seat wearing acamouflage hunting vest and utility belt with a giant buck-knife strapped toit, polishing his rifle with a chamois cloth. He looked up and waited until hegot all of the front-seat's attention and commanded in a bellowing voice,"This weekend you will only address me as Stockholm."

His last name was Thompson.

"Whatever you say, Bungalow Bill"Allen had a laugh at Todd's response.

Steve- I mean Stockholm... was unaffected, afterhe gave the command he went right back to polishing the rifle, and didn’tbother with a look back up. Their drive was about four hours and they were morethan halfway there. They were a group of four friends who became very close inhigh school, but since then they all have gone to different colleges.

 They heldonto to their brotherhood as best they could. But it was the summer now, theoreticallyeverything should have gone back to the way things were, except the last fivemonths had rattled them all to the edge. A much needed vacation was due. Aftera little while, Allen pulled a CD out of a case, put it in the car stereo, andraised the volume. They listened to a sorted collection of Grateful Dead LiveConcert albums for the remaining two hours of the trip.

"Yo...um...Stockton....which lake is itagain?" asked Todd as they got off the highway.

"Lake Algonquin," answered Stockholm.Who then leaned forward in his seat, cocking the rifle, and pointing the edgeof the barrel right at Todd's cheek, saying, "...And it's Stockholm."

"Yo!”

“Don't fuck around like that!" yelledAllen.

"Relax, it's not even loaded,"dismissed Stockholm. It was silent for a while after that, with only the soundsof Scarlet Begonias and Terrapin Station taking them the rest ofthe way.

It was a quaint cabin on the lake. LakeAlgonquin was in northern New York, close to the border of New Hampshire. Theclosest town was more than five miles away.

"Where did you get this place from?"inquired Allen as they all got out of the car and inspected their home for theweekend.

"I threw a dart at a map of New York."

No one was sure if Stockholm was kidding or not.The cabin was old and covered. It looked like the surrounding forest was tryingto hide it. There was no electricity inside. It was spacious to say the leastwith a study in back, and a room next to it which looked like it had recentlybeen turned into a bathroom.

"Looks like the real estate guy was hereearlier," implied Todd after looking at the make-shift bathroom. Therewere also stairs to the right which led to a lofted floor looking over thecommon room. After checking out the entire cabin and setting up all their stuffthey went outside to grill up some dinner. Stockholm started gathering wood, andTodd and Allen made a fire-pit. By nightfall they had full stomachs and aroaring fire, and were casually sitting by it along with the empty cans ofbaked beans. No one was talking much. Stockholm threw the remaining bag ofhotdog rolls in the fire to see the plastic shrink around the burning potatobread. Allen could guess what was going on, the one thing they were allthinking about.

"We might as well just talk about it, andget it out of the way at this point," he declared.

"What's to talk about?" denouncedTodd.

"It's over. We move on now." reasonedStockholm.

"I'd hardly call this moving on..."commented Allen.

"He was yourbrother. You should be taking it the worst," countered Stockholm.

"There was nothing any of us could havedone," summarized Todd, "Our only mistake was splitting up..."

"That's what it was."

"You pinpointed it man," confirmedStockholm, "that's all I can think about."

"We all had our own lives to live,"argued Allen, "but if that's how you guys feel. I understand."

Todd got up and grabbed three beers, passed themout, and sat back down. They all popped the caps and cheered the bottles,"For Louis," they said in unison and poured some of the beers on thefire.

The tension had been lifted. Stockholm waswhittling with his buck-knife, Todd was poking the fire with a stick while hegulped his beer, and Allen was sitting back, enjoying the retreated occasion.He stood up and said, "I’m gonna go down by the lake." They nodded athim and he walked down to the dock that was next to the cabin.

He sat on the edge of the dock, and dangled hislegs off, dipping his feet into the water. It was real cold at first. But hisfeet got used to it in no time. Allen's mind drifted into the reflection of themoon and stars in the lake. He was no longer obsessing over his brother'sdeath, an obsession that has swallowed up his entire identity. Right now… hewas free.

The moon was bright and danced with the rippleof the lake. The reflection grew dark and was almost eclipsed by the shadow ofsomething behind Allen. 'It's some kind of animal, too quiet to be Todd orStockholm' he thought to himself. He was frozen. The beast got closer. Allen gota better look at it from as the lake grew still.

What he saw was a contorted wolf with wide,owl-like eyes, a hooked nose, and, strangest of all, two scaly dragon-wings onits back. Allen took short quick breaths and tried to think. He tried toharness his fear and turned his head to confront his monster. But when helooked back there was nothing there. It was just the demons of his imaginationmessing with him, induced by the beer undoubtedly. He turned back to check outthe reflection again. Instead of the moon and stars there was nothing butblack. Thick tar sludge had replaced the water in the lake. The same lake hewas dipping his toes in… and it was starting to crawl up Allen's legs.

He twitched and squirmed and screamed for help.Allen quickly gave up on screaming, gripped the boards of wood that made up thedock, and tried to pull his legs out of the lake. But it was not working. Themore he struggled the more it entangled him. Thankfully, Todd and Stockholm hadheard his screams and were already grabbing his arms and pulling him out. ToAllen, the lake felt like it had released him, but when he looked back afterstanding up, the water was just that....water.

"What happened?" asked Todd as helooked around at the empty beach. All he could see was a stump with a dirty oldaxe lodged in it. Stockholm took the rifle off his shoulder and pointed it allaround them. "I don't know!” Allen panted, “I felt like I was being suckedin."

 Theybrought him back to the fire where he calmed down. It was getting late and thefire was dying down. Allen and Todd went inside to go to sleep. "I'm gonnastay by the fire," said Stockholm.

Stockholm fell asleep in his chair and was wokenup by the sunrise the next morning. All that was left of the fire were red-hotembers. It was still so early in the morning that he could see the dewaccumulating on the grass. Stockholm quickly grabbed his rifle and bowie knife,and ran into the forest. After a full sprint of about two hundred yards, hecame to a halt and had a brief crystalizing thought, 'Should've brought abreakfast beer."

For a while, he crouched down behind a bush,waiting to cross paths with any kind of prey. After what seemed like an hour,but was really about fifteen minutes, Stockholm was about to call it quits whenhe heard a quack from above. He looked up and saw a "V" of ducksflying overhead. He unloaded on the flock. The gunshots startled Allen awakefrom inside the cabin. Three ducks plummeted lifelessly to the ground.

Before Stockholm started to walk over to hiskills, he saw a rustle in the bushes. Whatever it was, it was heading for thedead ducks. Stockholm reloaded his rifle and chased after it. "Ain't nostinkin' 'coon gonna rob me a my trophies!" he mumbled to himself as heran. When Stockholm got closer he also got a better look at what he waschasing.

It was a dog (the size of a bear) with blackwings that resembled an angel's wings, be it without the color difference.Stockholm froze. The beast was eating one of the ducks. Stockholm slowlyapproached the dog and tried to grab the other duck. The winged-dog stoppedeating and turned to look at Stockholm. He gripped his rifle tight and pickedthe dead duck up by the legs. The beast walked over to Stockholm who froze.They stared at each other face to face in a moment that stretched a lifetime.He would not shoot it unless it attacked. Stockholm didn’t know if he wascompelled or terrified.

The winged-dog sniffed around him; its big wetnostrils flexing and scanning. If it was going to kill him, Stockholm thought,it would have attacked by now. He took one step back and the beast spat bloodright in his face. Stockholm fired his rifle instinctively, but after the flashof the shot, the winged-dog was gone. Stockholm would wonder if it all was ahallucination if he didn't still have its blood covering his face. He wiped itoff as best he could and returned to the cabin.

"Where were you?" asked Todd onceagain poking the fire, and Allen yawning and stretching right in front of thecabin door.

"Getting us breakfast," respondedStockholm while he lifted up the duck.

He had decided not to tell them about thewinged-dog. Todd and Allen watched as Stockholm prepared the duck. When it wasready to be served, Todd and Allen both had found that they lost theirappetites. "Your loss," said Stockholm as he tore into the duck's hidelike a wild animal.

It was approaching noon and everyone was gettingrestless. Allen and Stockholm decided to take a dip in the lake. Todd passed upthe lake to look around inside the cabin. Once inside, he immediately headedfor the study. Inside the study was a wall full of bookshelves, filled withvery old books. Todd skimmed the rows briefly before one, in-particular, caughthis eye.

He pulled it out of the shelf and blew theaccumulated dust off of it. The title read, TheJournal of Zachariah Weston. This was not a published book; it must be theremnants of the last people to inhabit this house. Todd was immediatelyinterested. He got comfortable in a cushy chair and opened the journal. Thefirst entry was dated January 1st, 1702. But Todd was more interested in whythe journal was only filled halfway. He flipped towards the last few entriesand was deeply immersed in a terrifying world...

 

August 6th

 

It has been two weeks since we buried Mother,and I miss her dearly. I still do not know why he killed her, but I dare not goagainst Father and Joseph. They seem to be under the impression that we will becoming into tremendous fortune. Someone or something...has been telling themlies. I am so terrified; I have never felt so alone. I have always been afraidof Father, but never my younger brother before now. I must go for I hearsomeone coming. If they ever find this journal or me writing in it, it willsurely be the end of me.

 

August 11th

 

Last night something came to me in my room. Hisname was Agares and he said he was an angel. But he did not look like an angel.He looked like an old man riding a crocodile. He told me my family was going tokill me, and then he gave me an expression I cannot stop thinking about, "Overlove, truth, or family, give me life." It is the most precious thing inthe world to me right now and I will do whatever it takes to preserve it. Evenif it means running away...

 

Aug 14th

 

I tried to leave last night, but when I gotoutside Father was waiting for me in the forest with his axe. He said thatJoseph had told him I would try to leave. Joseph sent him outside to stop me.They think I was going to turn them in. Now I fear that they are going to killme.

 

Aug 15th

 

My suspicions were right. They are plotting tokill me tomorrow, which is why I must leave tonight. Agares told me to leavethem and run away, to fend for myself. If this is the lord's way, thenhopefully this will be the last time this journal hears from me.

 

Aug 16th

 

If you are wondering why the ink is red, it isbecause last night I killed my brother, Zachariah. And I am now writing withhis blood in my new journal. But of course, you know this already according tothe last couple of entries. I told father that he was planning to turn us inand he caught him running away, caught him right in the head with his axe. Theonly problem now is what to do about father. He has become paranoid, sometimeshe even acts like he thinks he is invisible. I'm going to have to kill him.Astaroth said I could use him, but eventually have to kill him. All I have todo is trick him into putting down that axe. Perhaps, I will catch him whilehe's chopping wood down by the beach.

 

Todd now knew why they got the cabin so cheap.It was the home of a mad family massacre. Clearly, they were being haunted bysomething. Who knows if those ghosts and spirits were still here? And then ithit him. He ran out of the cabin for the beach. But it was too late. The axewas down at the beach. Unfortunately, it had found its way into the hands ofStockholm, and he had already plunged it into Allen's gut.

From nothing, Todd felt an adrenaline-like shotto his heart. He had to get away. He wanted to live. Like there was nothingelse that mattered. But then he remembered something he had been trying toforget since January…his old friend Louis’ face, and realized he could neverlive with the loss of those closest to him. So he rushed back to the cabin andgrabbed the rifle. He would either save his friends from each other or dietrying…

 Aftercoming to grips with what he had just done, Stockholm ran into the woods inhopes of getting lost forever. Little did he know Allen was wounded… not dead.He got to his feet and slowly made his way to the cabin. Inside the cabin, Toddhad lost his way and was barricading furniture in front of the doors andwindows when a light caught his eye. It was the ghost of a kid.

 'It mustbe Zachariah.'

He asked what had happened here and this is whatthe spirit told him, "The people before us who built this cabin were devilworshipers; they performed satanic rituals down at the beach. They called upona duke, a prince, and a president of hell. These three demons spawned through aportal from hell through the lake and traded positions with the worshipers.When my family moved in they tricked and seduced us into killing each otherwith delusions of treasures. Their names are Agares, Astaroth, and Caacrinolas...And I’m sorry Todd… but they are still here…."

"How can I trust you?" Toddskeptically asked.

And the phantom kid turned into Todd's friendand Allen's deceased brother, Louis. Without another doubt, Todd believed theghost's story. But before he could speak to Louis his face dissolved into hisbrother's face being pushed against the window. Todd broke the window andpulled Allen inside. "I thought you were dead," he said to Allen.

 Inthrough the hole from the window, after Allen, crawled a crocodile. It jumpedover Allen and went right for Todd. He screamed and ran into the other room,but slipped on the floor. The crocodile caught him right in front of thestaircase and began biting and scratching him furiously. Allen watched as Toddwrithed in pain alone on the floor, blood being spilt by scratches all aroundhim. Allen could not see the crocodile.

Meanwhile, in the woods Stockholm was looking atall of the bruises covering his body. He tore his shirt off and found that manyof the lesions were blistering and oozing. Stockholm was going mad with pain,and peeled some of his flesh off to ease his suffering. Out from underneath thepeeling flesh crawled thousands of tiny bugs. Little larva hatching in his rot.

The pain subsided; and a fevered-high charged himback to the cabin. Stockholm began chopping down a piece of the wall with theaxe while inside Allen was trying to calm Todd down. Allen then thought ofsomething. He tied Todd to the railing-posts on the staircase and took thistime to bandage his own wound which had mysteriously stopped bleeding. Too busywith his plan to care he opened the door for Stockholm and called to him,"I know you are looking for the treasure... If you kill him before me, Iwill help you find it." Stockholm stopped chopping the wall and said,"How do you know where it is?"

"A wolf told me. He said your hound willunderstand..." Stockholm looked shocked that Allen knew about the dog thatgave him this new strength. "...Here," said Allen as he handed himhis rifle. Stockholm switched the axe for the rifle and walked over to Todd."Don't do this man," said Todd as he squirmed. "Sorry, pal"replied Stockholm as he cocked the rifle and fired it. Except no bullet shotout.

Allen had taken out all of the ammo. He thenswung the axe into Stockholm's back and brought him to the ground. "Oh mygod!" screamed out Todd, "I thought you lost it for a second."

"I did too," confessed Allen, grippingthe handle of the axe tighter. On an impulse Allen swung the axe for Todd'shead, but Todd moved out of the way and the axe chopped his binds off. Toddfell to the ground and scurried away from Allen. "Wait!" he yelled,"Stop!"

"Why should I?" asked Allen,"This is only going to end one way."

"How did it even get like this? You candrop the axe. You don't have to do this."

"Yes, I do! It's my fault!"

"Your brother's suicide was not your fault."

"That's where you're wrong! If I do this, Ican fix it all! I find the treasure..."

"What treasure Allen?"

"MY TREASURE!" screams Stockholm as hetackles Allen and the axe slides towards Todd's feet. Allen and Stockholmwrestle on the floor, jabbing their fingers into each other's wounds andtwisting, screaming and laughing in agony. Todd looks at the axe. He is surethat it is the cause of all this. So he picks it up and rushes down to thelake. He is prepared to throw it into the lake.

Todd ran down the path constantly looking behindhim for Allen and Stockholm. When he turns back around he is thrown backwardsoff his feet by the crocodile. From the scutes of its back raises a raggedy oldman holding a cane. He pulls Todd with the can by the neck and jumps into hismouth, stretching and shrinking past reality.

Allen and Stockholm stopped ripping each otherapart long enough to realize that Todd was trying to get rid of the axe.  "Allen… where are the bullets?"

"If I tell you, will you only kill Toddwith them?"

"Of course, I shall save you for theaxe." Stockholm didn’t even sound like himself anymore.

Allen laughed sinisterly and retrieved the ammofor the rifle. Stockholm reloaded the rifle, and they both headed for thebeach. But meeting them on the path was Todd, standing there wielding the axe,with jet-black eyes. Todd gave a battle cry and ran at them. Before Stockholmcould fire the rifle, Todd chopped the barrel clean off. He was movingunnaturally fast. The next axe-swing was for his head. Stockholm dropped therifle and ducked back. Allen jumped forward, picked up the sawed-off rifle, andshot Todd point-blank in the chest. His chest cavity gaped open, a wound no mancould walk away from.

 Allenscreamed as the rifle blew apart in his hands. Todd shook his head, cocked theaxe back, and swung it low, chopping Allen's head off right through the mouth.Allen's body fell lifelessly to the floor, and neither Todd nor Stockholmcared. Todd took another swing, this one intended for Stockholm, but as theyboth ran at each other, Todd was stopped by Stockholm catching the handle ofthe axe, mid-air.

Now they were both battling for the axe. Toddpulled back the bottom part of the handle and then jolted it forward, hittingStockholm in between the legs. Stockholm screamed in outrage, and shoved hishead into Todd's neck, biting furiously, and pulling his flesh off with histeeth. Todd let go of the axe, kicked Stockholm back, and ran over behind atree. Stockholm launched the axe through the air. The axe missed and got caughtin the tree.

Todd grabbed Stockholm by the hair and smashedhis head against the tree. The hair from his head fell loose from Todd's hand.To Stockholm, Todd began to scratch and tear his skin off and underneath hisskin was a triple-headed monster. Todd pulled the axe out of the tree andslowly approached Stockholm now on his knees with his hands clenched. Stockholmwas cowering underneath Todd as he raised the axe.

You could see Stockholm’s smile as he slippedout his buck knife in one fluent motion and stabbed Todd directly in hisexposed heart before the axe-stroke fell. Todd stopped dead in his kill-stroke.The axe suspended in the air. Stockholm exhaled, and laughed in victory. Buthis laughter was cut short when the axe cleaved his brain in half. Todd was notdead. And that was Stockholm’s last mistake.

On the contrary, Todd went buck-wild with theaxe, carving his carcass out like a pumpkin (Happy Halloween) just to be safe...

He ran back towards the cabin, but he did not gofor his busted old Honda. He went for the lake. Once hegot to the lake, still carrying the axe, he pulled out the giant knife that waslodged in his chest, threw it, and stuck it into the stump where Stockholm hadfirst found the axe. After the throw, Todd's heart fell out of his chest cavityand he couldn't move anymore. With his last motion, Todd smiled and fell intothe lake, letting the axe anchor him to the bottom forever.

 


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MP_Johnson
Short Story
Super-natural
writing MP_Johnson
"That is what you must learn from death: how it brings all to meaning by showing you the end."
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Synopsis
The perfect Halloween tale
A Word from the Writer
This is one of my first short stories.
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