Once Upon A Weekend 18
     Sam was glad that Bill was still asleep in his chair when he arrived home.  There were arrangements to be made that he knew Bill would never agree to.  Despite his own reluctance, however, there was no avoiding them.  He called Ken's apartment, but there was no answer.  He called Kim.
     "He's there," she said.  "He wanted to go home, though I tried to get him to stay with me, and he didn't want to see or talk to anyone.  Who can blame him.  I don't know what's going on, but it's bad and I think you should just leave him alone."
     "I need him over here as soon as possible," Sam told her.  "Believe me, I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important.  I know it's hard to understand, but I really need you to trust me on this.  Can you get him here?"
     There was silence on Kim's end of the line for so long, Sam thought she'd hung up. 
     "I don't know," Kim said finally. 
     Sam tightened his grip on the phone.  He had no time for hesitancy. 
     "It's really important," he insisted.  "I don't have time to go into it, but it'll take both of us.  I need him here."
     "Why?" she asked.
     "Look," Sam said, "I think I know how to end this.  I don't have time to go into it, but it's going to take all of us together to pull it off.  You want to help him, don't you?"
     Kim agreed, but Sam could still detect the reluctance.  He prayed she'd manage to convince Ken to come.  He went upstairs to check on Ricky.  He was so exhausted that each step felt like he had weights on his feet.  When he went into Ricky's room, he immediately sensed that something was wrong.  In the dim light of the street lamp outside coming through the window, he saw the greenish vapor hovering at the foot of the bed.  As he watched it floated to the head of the bed and materialized into the young woman with the oval white face, large black eyes, full red lips, and straight, black hair that flowed to her hips like an ebony veil.  She was dressed in the diaphanous white gown through which he could see every bit of her, the same as he'd seen her at the lodge.
     Smiling at him like a cat poised over a mouse, she reached out a long pale finger to Ricky's thin face.  Everything seemed to go to slow motion and Sam watched at first in trance-like fascination, unable to move until the tip of her finger was about to touch Ricky's face. 
     "No!" he shouted, shaking off the spell.  "Get away.  Leave him alone, you witch!"
     The sharpness of his words made her jerk her hand back and she glared at him as if he'd slapped her. 
     "No," he said.  "No, you don't.  You don't belong here.  Leave.  Now.  He doesn't belong to you.  He's not one of yours.  Go away.  Go back to the pit you came out of."
     Looking offended by his words, she scratched Ricky's cheek with a long fingernail, leaving a thin thread of blood.  Ricky moaned, still too drugged to react further.  Sam dove, reaching for her, but she vanished and he landed in a heap on the floor.  Cursing, he dragged himself to his feet and checked on his brother.  The scratch was bleeding freely, but didn't look too deep.  He retrieved a wet cloth and some alcohol from the bathroom and cleaned the wound.  Ricky tossed fitfully from the sting of the alcohol, but didn't wake.  Sam placed a Band-Aid over the scratch and sank onto the chair next to the bed. 
     It was all so crazy.  He couldn't believe all that had happened in just a week.  He kept hoping he'd wake up and find it had all been some kind of a weird dream, but he knew it wasn't.  What he didn't understand was why Delaney had attached herself to his brother and Ken, but had left him alone.  Not that he was unhappy about that, but there had to be an answer to getting rid of her in that. 
    Bill met Ken and Kim at the front door, awakened by the doorbell, and led them up to Ricky's bedroom.  To Sam Ken looked as thin and wan as Ricky, and it had only been a few days since he'd seen him.  When Ken reached the door, he stopped short and glanced around as if afraid of what he'd see.  Sam knew he sensed the 'thing' that had been there.
     "It's alright," Same said.  "She was here, but she's gone now.  I need to talk to you.  I think I know how to get rid of her. But you'll have to trust me."
     Ken eased into the room, still glancing around, Kim coming behind him. 
     "That 'thing' was here?" he asked.
     Sam nodded.  "Yeah," he said,  "but she's gone."
     "What do you want?" Ken asked.
     "I talked to Glen," Sam said.  "He told me who that woman is and why she was at the lodge.  I think I know how to get rid of her, but you'll have to trust me and do exactly what I tell you.  We have to go back to the lodge."
     Ken shook his head.
     "No," he said.  "I won't.  I won't go back there."
     Sam grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him a little.
     "Listen to me," he said, "if you don't, if we don't, then that thing will haunt you and Ricky forever."
      He pulled him over to the bed.
     "Take a good look.  Ricky thinks he's four years old.  He's retreated from the fear and if we don't do something, he may stay that way permanently.  Is that what you want?  Do you want to go on having weird things happening to you?"
     Ken frowned at the scratch on Ricky's face.
     "Four?" he asked.
     Sam glanced at his watch then turned on Ricky's small television setting on his bureau.  It was time for the news and as he suspected, Ricky's antics on the roof of the building was the leading newscast.  Ken watched in horror, sinking down on the edge of the bed.
     "Before it's too late, Ken," Sam said.  "We've got to do something and this is all I can come up with.  It'll take all of us to do it."
     Ken looked to Kim who frowned in consternation.
     "It's up to you, Ken," she said.  "I wish I knew what was going on, but if whatever he has in mind will get you through this, then do it."
     Ken looked back to Sam then to Ricky who shifted uneasily in his sleep.  Frowning, Ken leaned closer to get a better look at the scratch on Ricky's face.  It seemed to have reddened around the edges and be longer than he'd first thought.  
     "How did that happen?" he asked.  "It' looks infected."
     Sam quickly came over to look.  
     "That's it," he said, scooping Ricky off the bed, blankets and all.
     He carried him out of the bedroom and down the stairs with Ken and Kim hurrying in his wake.  Bill stood at the bottom of the stairs.
     "What's wrong?" he asked.  "What is it?"
     Sam brushed past him.
     "I have to get Ricky some help."
     "To the hospital?" Bill asked.  "Is he worse?"
     "No," Sam shouted over his shoulder as he carried Ricky to the car.  "To the Lodge."
     Kim slipped into the back seat of the car as Sam carefully laid Ricky across it, resting his head in Kim's lap.  Ken scrambled into the front seat.
     "What?" Bill ran after them.  "What are you talking about?  What's happened?  What's going on?"
      Sam climbed into the driver's seat of the car and gunned the motor.
     "I found Glen," he told Bill.  "He's meeting us at the lodge.  We're getting rid of that thing right now, once and for all."
      Bill had to jump away to avoid his toes being crushed under the tires as Sam raced the car down the street and disappeared around the corner.  Completely bewildered, Bill went inside and fixed a drink and heard another car pull into the driveway.  Thinking it was Sam, he hurried to the door and opened it.  To his surprise, two policemen stood on the doorstep preparing to knock.

     Praying there wouldn't be any patrol cars to stop him for speeding, Sam drove for the mountains.   He did his best to explain to Ken what he and Glen had come up with and why it included going back to the lodge.
     In the back seat, Kim stroked Ricky's hair and thought of the madness that he and Ken had been through.  Ricky was Ken's best friend and was the kindest, sweetest man she had ever known.  To lose either of them would be unbearable.  She examined the Band-Aid and was alarmed to see the skin around the edges was redder than before.  It was almost as if there was an infection quickly spreading through the injury.
     "Sam," she said, "why is this scratch getting worse?"
     Sam nearly sent the car into a ditch when he looked in the rearview mirror instead of watching the road.  He managed to straighten it out just in time.
     "Worse?" he asked.
     "It's red and feverish," she said.  
     "That 'thing'," he said.  "She scratched him.  It must've started something."
     "It did something," she agreed.  "It's getting worse every second."
     "I'm going as fast as I can," Sam said through clenched teeth.  
     He was frantic.  He didn't know what Delaney had done, but whatever it was, she'd meant to hurt Ricky.  He remembered what Glen's sister had told him.  Delaney was malicious and he'd angered her.  She was retaliating.  he had to stop her, had to save Ricky and Ken, but more than that, he had to make sure she'd never hurt anyone ever again.
     When he reached the turn off to the lodge, he nearly put the car on its side making the turn.  He plowed up the road, spewing rocks and dirt behind him.  he slammed on the brakes at the top of the hill nearly sending all of them into the floorboard despite their seatbelts.
     Glen had arrived before them and was pacing up and down on the verandah.  As Sam extracted Ricky from the back seat of the car, Glen went to meet them.  
     "It's no good," he said.  "I don't know how to do what you want me to do.  I don't want to go in there."
     Ken whirled around and grabbed Glen painfully by the arm.
     "Want to or not," he told him, "you're going.  None of us want to go back into the madhouse, but there's no other choice, so move!"
     He shoved Glen ahead of him as Sam, carrying Ricky, led the way to the front door.  Shifting Ricky to one arm as best he could, Sam unlocked the door and eased it open with the toe of his shoe.  Taking a deep breath, he entered the dark main hall, followed by the other three.  The door slammed shut with a loud bang behind them and they heard the bolt slide home.  Kim grabbed Ken's arm as a woman's laugh filled the entire lodge.  
     Glen groaned and started to shake.  Sam lowered Ricky onto the couch in front of the fireplace.
     "Do something," he ordered Glen.
     "What?" Glen asked, his voice trembling from the fear.  "What do you want me to do?"
      "I don't know, something," Sam said.
      "Look!" Kim said.
      They turned to the couch where she was pointing.  The greenish vapor floated over Ricky who was tossing and turning, gasping for air.
     "No!"  Sam yelled and ran to help.  "Leave him alone."
     The vapor lifted and floated a few feet away before materializing into the form of Delaney.  Her laughter closed around them like a suffocating bubble.  The laughter grew in their ears until it was the only sound they could hear.  Time seemed to stop.  The world went into slow motion as the men collapsed, unable to find air to breathe.
 On the couch, Ricky screamed, his arms flailing, feet kicking as if fighting off an unseen assailant that was over and around and in him.  The scratch widened, inflamed, eating away his skin like acid.  
     Crawling on his stomach, each breath fire in his lungs, Sam fought to reach the couch and help Ricky.  Eyesight growing dim, the world was slipping away from him.  His eardrums felt as if they would b urst from the roar in his brain.  He reached out, his fingertips brushing Ricky's.  Ricky turned toward him and Sam screamed in rage.  Half of Ricky's face was gone, the bone and teeth exposed.
     The rage had an effect on Sam.  The roar in his brain diminished a little and he fed on that, letting it take over.  The more the fury grew inside of him, the less the fury raged around him.  Delaney was there, in front of him, blood red eyes burning as she reached for him.  He dodged her hand, rolled to the side as it swept past.
     It was then he noticed something strange.  The men had been knocked down, but Kim still stood by the door staring first in astonishment, then turning in anger to face Delaney.  She had remained unaffected through it all. 
     "Kim," Sam called out.  "She's afraid of you."
     Kim seemed to have figured that out by herself as she closed in on Delaney who incredibly backed away.
     "Glen," Kim said, "what's her name?"
     "Delaney," Sam supplied, barely able to force the word out through his constricted throat.  
     Glen was on all fours, doing his best to get to his feet and pulling in breaths as if his lungs refused to accept the air.
     "Her father," he gasped.  "Call her father."
     "What's his name?" Kim called through the chaos.  
     "Lord Tyrone," Glen said, and then collapsed again.
     Sam felt some strength return, some air rush into his aching lungs.  Delaney was no longer focused on them, but on Kim who had her cornered.  
     "She's afraid of you," he said again.  "Use that."
     Kim shouted Delaney's name, then used it as a weapon as she said it over and over, her eyes riveted on the retreating creature in front of her.  
     Delaney backed away, her eyes burning with hatred and fear.  
     Sam was amazed at the effect Kim was having.  Then he thought he understood.  Delaney had been locked away by her father.  Her attacks had always been on men.  She wasn't afraid of them, but it was a woman who had stayed with her all those long lonely years, a woman who had perhaps held more sway over her than anyone knew.  
     "Lord Tyrone." Glen shouted the name as he struggled once more to regain his feet.  
     There was a brilliant flash of light that sent him and the rest of them sprawling as the lodge shook to its foundation.  Delaney let out a banshee scream and threw her arms over her face as if something horrible had suddenly appeared in front of her. 
     Ken and Kim, both flat on the floor, struggle to reach Sam who wasn't moving.  Glen used the end of the couch to pull himself up, the rushing wind that filled the room nearly blowing him back to his knees.  Overhead, wooden beams splintered and plaster fell from the walls.  Tapestries and paintings were torn from the walls by the fierce mysterious gale.  At last, Glen managed to rise to his feet, hanging onto the back of the couch with all of his strength.
     "Ancestor," he called out, "If this banshee is yours, take her away from here.  The curse was for you, not your descendants or innocent strangers.  It's not right that we should suffer for what you've done."
     There was another flash of light that threw him into the far wall where he slid unconscious to the floor.  Kim, on her knees facing Delaney saw in the light a form taking shape.
     "Delaney."  The voice was male, deep, and dangerous as it filled the air.
     The shape began to clear, a man, six feet at least, broad shouldered, dressed in rustic brown and green robes of a medieval period.  His gray hair hung in twin thick braids to his waist, his gleaming blue eyes burning fire as he faced his daughter.  
     "Wicked child," he said, "enough.  You have spent your curse.  The innocent have naught to do with you.  Your time is done."
     "No!" Delaney's cry was long, terrible, high in pitch.
     A fireball exploded through the lodge, shattering the windows, blowing the doors from their hinges, sending everything and everyone flying through the air, carrying it up and out into the night with the roar of a maddened beast.  


kt6550   kt6550 wrote
on 5/16/2009 7:31:43 PM
Almost done!

Novel / Novella
writing shwangltd
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