My Mina, My Doom (flash fiction?)

In the last dark hour, there is only love. I can feel it in the blood that courses through my veins. It is a warm, pulsating flow not my own, for I am but an empty husk without her and the richness of her gift. There is no need to take it from her, for she gives it willingly, knowing at any moment I could bring her to the very brink of death and let her slip. The danger, the fear, the sheer ecstasy of that moment comes and passes, for I let her live, leaving her enough blood to remain the beautiful woman she is. I do not wish to make her a monster like me, for it is her angelic qualities, the warmth of her flesh, the unaltered smile, that calls me to return again and again. Perhaps she is my Mina, for in that I know she is both my heart as it was and my doom as it shall be.

2017 Paul D Aronson.

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Flash Fiction: Burning Bridges

Author’s Note: wow, has it really been 17 days since I last posted anything? Ok, well here’s a short piece of flash that I wrote the other day, just trying to keep my writing chops somewhat sharp. I know there must be more to this piece buried in my head somewhere, but right now I’ll leave it here in its original form for your consideration. Hope you enjoy!

The covered bridge was in flames. We could see it from the hilltop. James watched it through his binoculars, a gift from his dad before the older man took off with the babysitter.

“I don’t see anything,” the fourteen year old said. James was the youngest of us, but in some ways the most inquisitive.

“You mean you don’t see him?” Darcy asked, a slight tremble to her voice.

“Correct. He must still be under the bridge.”

“Then we’ll have to go down after him,” I said, trying to sound brave. But everyone knew I was scared shitless. After all, I was the only one who had seen the troll face to face.

It’s A Girl!

Better than any poem I could pen, more exciting than any of my stories, I am so happy to announce the birth of my daughter, Arwen Isabella. Born on Sept 1, she is 7.5 pounds and has her mother’s eyes and hair. The rest seems to be daddy. πŸ™‚

So if I’m missing in action here in the WordPress world, know that our family is taking time for bonding. Our three year old is a little freaked out by a screaming baby, lol. I’ll try to drop in when I can, but I just wanted to let everyone know where I had disappeared to and to announce her birth. God bless you all!

Resurrection Diaries Entry 43: A Sort Of Epilogue

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 43: A Sort Of Epilogue…

In looking back over the contents of this diary I am surprised as to how much happened in my life in the space of just a couple months. Now, almost a year later, I can ponder over these events without the sense of dread and mystery that once pervaded my thoughts. It seems like a different world now, and I guess in a way it is.

In the aftermath of events revolving around Resurrection Church, I am surprised it survived the scandal. The church members were in such a shock over the murder that had taken place there within its building all those years ago, and equally in shock that it was one of their own who was guilty of the crime. Eventually they built a park in Mischa’s honor.

The day after Meagan’s rescue, I led the police back to the old playground, and to the bushes and brambles where I suspected Mischa had been buried. In the same spot where Penny had once drug out a dirty duffel bag of clues, they found her. It took hours, but it wasn’t long before her skeletal remains were uncovered. When they were brought out of the ground, I could almost feel a sort of sigh in the air as if finally peace was coming to this haunted place.

Mischa Boudreaux’s remains were reinterred in a cemetery in town. The whole town seemed to turn out. Pastor Chiles officiated over the service, declaring, β€œThe Earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” I watched Mr. Martin, his shoulders slumped, finally coming to terms that Mischa had never left, but had died here tragically and alone. I wanted to try and console him in some way, but I felt his grief was best shared alone. I heard that several weeks later, he cleaned out her room and donated all her old things to charity. I guess he needed the closure of her funeral before he could let go. He sent me a thank you card not long ago. It said “thank you for bringing Mischa home.”

The Mitchell’s were at the funeral too, I guess in a way giving thanks to the spirit that had saved their daughter. I don’t know if Meagan ever told them the particulars, but I suspect it was something she held close to her, like a secret best friends share. Meagan recovered nicely and was soon back in school with her peers as if nothing happened. I imagine there must be scars there somewhere, but I believe she’s a tough kid, she’s going to make it.

Donna held my hand through the service, and I was happy to have her back home. After a tearful phone call the night I found Meagan in Larter’s basement, I think Donna and I were finally on the right track. We quickly renewed our vows and I began to tell her every day that I love her. It’s something I should have been doing all along, but sometimes it takes awhile for a man to wake up and smell the roses. I’m just happy to have been blessed with a second chance.

Sitting at our feet at the graveside funeral, Penny whimpered quietly, having survived her ordeal. I learned that the dog had been Meagan’s and had run away when she went missing. Personally, I think it followed her to the church and then lost her trail. It lingered around those grounds knowing she had once been there. In fact, I learned from Police that Larter had abducted Meagan as she took a shortcut across the church property on her way home from a friend’s. However it all happened, now the dog didn’t seem to want to go home, so the Mitchell’s told us to keep her as long as she opted to stay. Meagan said we’d make good parents and smiled.

They let Tommy Blaine out long enough to attend the funeral. I thought he held up pretty well, but maybe he had had a long time to prepare for this. To either side of him were attendants from the hospital, just in case. I think they were concerned he would fling himself on her casket or something. As the preacher committed her to the earth, I noticed his tears. One of his attendants offered him a tissue, but I think he preferred to just let those teardrops fall. I walked up to him after the service and he managed to give me a small smile.

“Thank you,” he said.

“For what?”

“For helping her.”

I nodded, as if that was what was always intended. The attendants started to take him back to their car. “Tommy, wait,” I called. He stopped, and when I knew I had his attention, I told him what I imagine was the biggest truth of all. “She loved you very much.”

He smiled even bigger and nodded back. “I know.”

It was a day later when I read in the paper Tommy died in his sleep at the hospital.

The court case against Eric Larter was a media circus. I think most people were in a state of shock that a seemingly ordinary man, a leader in the church and a respected member of the community, had killed a teenage girl in the days of his youth. It made it equally shocking that as an adult he then abducted and held captive a neighborhood girl who looked just like his first victim.

After milking the shock for all it was worth, the media then turned to the upside of the events: that the abducted girl had been saved. At one point, the press came around our cottage wanting to talk to the “hero” who had rescued her. But I can’t take credit for any of that. I told reporters that the abductor’s own madness exposed him. I just happened to be there. I don’t meant to downplay my role in all this, but what point would it be to tell them it was the ghost of the slain girl who had led me to the one gone missing? After a while, both Donna and I tired of the publicity, and soon all I would say was, “We’re all heroes in our own little ways.”

At the trial, Eric’s lawyers went with the insanity plea, and he was sentenced to spend out the rest of his days at the same hospital that had housed Tommy Blaine. (His aunt was given the same sentence, but she was found dead of a heart attack the first night there.) It was with great irony that Eric’s room at the hospital was the same one that Tommy had once lived in. Rumors circulated that Eric was quite mad there. His sleep was restless and he’d scream in the middle of the night…things about drowning, death, and a girl in a yellow dress. I can only imagine that what the ghost of Mischa had shown him when they were in the cellar were things of the grave and the state of his own wicked soul. Whatever visions her touch brought, it sent him over the brink and into a forever state of fear and madness.

But if this was the case, if this madness was the fate she had always intended for him, why did she wait so long? I don’t have the answers to how things work out in this life and beyond, but I would like to think that Mischa waited, because she knew Eric would not stop with her, that he would eventually do it again. And when he did, she was there to do what she could to put an end to it. I just happened to be there when she needed some human help. There are those who may believe she chose me for the task, or that it was fate that led me to take the job at Resurrection Church, but I try not to think of those things. All that matters is I was there, and for some reason or another, I was drawn into the mystery of Mischa.

Sometimes I still think of her, but I no longer worry of her restlessness for I know now she is at peace and moved on from this plane to the next. It was the day after Tommy died in his sleep that I saw her for the last time. Donna and I were sitting on the front porch in the twilight hours, Penny as always at our feet, when I saw movement out towards the woods. At first, I thought it was kids playing or taking a shortcut home, but then I saw that flash of yellow dress and knew it was her. Donna touched my hand and I looked at her. She could see Mischa, too. Then someone else came out of the woods to stand by her. He reached out and took hold of her hand. It was Tommy Blaine. Donna and I both looked at each other and smiled. The ill-fated lovers were together at last, how could one not be happy about that? As we sat there looking at these apparitions, another noise drew our attention. Coming across the lawn toward them was a small child. A boy. He came up to them and hugged Mischa’s leg, as she laid her hand protectively on top of his head. She was smiling right at us. Then they all walked away, fading with each step until the three of them were gone.

Donna and I didn’t say anything for awhile, we just sat there letting it sink in. and though we haven’t seen them since, I know that somewhere in that peaceful place we go to when we die, Mischa and Tommy and their unborn son live happily ever after in ways they could not here on earth.

In the weeks and months that followed, the town came back to normal. Resurrection Church began services again, and though most places of worship would have buckled under the controversy, the church flourished. It may never lose the stigma of being ‘that church.’ Still, I believe it will no longer be a place of haunting, but a house of worship and salvation.

I stayed on as the custodian, and I remain there today. Sometimes when I’m there at night, and it’s just me and the silence of that big old church, I think of Mischa and I smile. Not only did she save Meagan from a fate similar to hers, but she also saved me as well. She taught me that the most important thing on either side of life or death is love. It is love that brings us peace on this earth, and love that reunites us in the end. Love is the birth of every hope considered under heaven, and it will never desert us, not even in death. I think of this and wonder if when my time comes, and Donna’s time comes, will we walk with Mischa and Tommy down those golden roads? Will they be waiting for us on the other side? Will our children play together one day?

Donna gave birth to a baby girl two days ago. We named her Mischa…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson..

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 42: Hauntings End

This is the next to the last entry, but if you missed some or are just getting started, click here for the table of contents.

Entry 42: Haunting’s End: Saturday AM Aug. 13

Meagan looked up at the figure, frightened. Her shoulders slumped and her whole body language told me she had given up. It was over. There was no escape.

I tried to fight the cobwebs that threatened to overtake my mind. I wanted to just lay my head down and rest, but I couldn’t. Call it a supreme sense of will or an intense determination, but I was trying to fight the drug coursing through my system. I knew if I went out cold, then when I awoke, Meagan would be dead and I’d be framed for it. Isn’t that what he said? That the authorities would find my fingerprints on her body?

Meagan whimpered pitifully as the figure came down the hall. He was in the dark, but his walk had an air of authority or self-assuredness. As he came into the light cast from the cellar below us, the first thing I noticed was his hat, dark blue and sharp angles. Then the windbreaker jacket with “POLICE” stamped across it. I think both the girl and I sighed in relief.

“Thank God,” I managed to mumble. I laid my head down on the floor as he stepped up to us. I noticed he had blood on his shoes. I looked up curiously, the numbness in my brain now frozen by this observation. The policeman stood in the fullness of the light now. The jacket he wore half hid the blood on the front of his shirt. And when I looked up into his face, I knew we were done for.

Larter looked down at me, as he grabbed Meagan by the hair and hauled her to her feet. She reminded me of a broken rag doll, not fighting, just there for one to toss about. One look into the man’s eyes and I realized any sense of reason was gone. This was a crazed killer. He’d murdered at least one girl, imprisoned another for months; this was not the same man I met when I first came to work at Resurrection. That man had been a lie, a disguise, and this one that stood before me, towering over my weakened form, was the real Eric Larter. One look told me he would never stop in his obsession over Mischa Boudreaux, even if it meant abducting girls who looked like her.

He looked at Meagan now, a feigned look of hurt on his face, as he realized she had been trying to leave. But it wasn’t Meagan he was seeing. “Mischa, you’re not trying to leave me again, are you?”

“N-no,” the girl stammered.

“She’s not Mischa,” I managed to say.

“Shut up!” he yelled and kicked me in the ribs. I clutched my side and tried to fight the spinning of the room.

He let go of Meagan’s hair and began to lovingly run his fingers through it, brushing it away from where it fell across her face. She stood there trembling, too frightened to even move. Whatever he had been doing to her down there in that cellar for the past few months, it had reduced her to a puppet with no control over her own will.

“You’ll always be mine,” he crooned and kissed her forehead. He turned her terrified face up to his. “Say you love me, Mischa.”

She was shaking and the tears welled up in her eyes. “I-I-I love you,” she stuttered in a timid voice.

He smiled. “Of course you do.” He looked down at me with a look of self-assuredness on his face. “See, she loves me.” He seemed to gloat over it. “Mischa loves me”.

I tried to speak, anything to tell him he was wrong and sick, but the gun in his hand, now pointing down at me, made me think otherwise.

“That means she doesn’t need you,” he said. “Tommy.”

Oh my god, I thought, he thinks I’m his rival. The boy Mischa had chosen over him. Tommy Blaine. This was going to end very badly.

He slipped his finger inside the gun’s trigger guard. He was going to kill me, and imprison Meagan again, holding her hostage forever, believing in his warped mind that she was the girl he’d killed so long ago. I saw his finger tighten on the trigger and I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see it coming.

Suddenly there came a loud pounding sound from the basement. Larter averted his gaze to the open cellar door. “Where is my auntie?” he exclaimed. “What have you done with her?”

He stepped away from me and to the doorway, looking down those long stairs into the cellar. The gun was still pointed at me and I dared not move. “Auntie?” he called down the steps.

“Eric,” a voice echoed back up the stairs. But even in my drug clouded haze, I knew something wasn’t right. The voice repeated his name and it sounded to me like someone speaking from deep within a tunnel.

“Auntie, is that you?” He leaned his head through the doorway to get a better look. But I knew it wasn’t his aunt down there. She was still out cold locked up in the cellar room. She couldn’t have gotten out.

The haze in my head started to lift and I tried getting to my feet, hoping I didn’t alert his attention in the process. On my knees, I could see down the stairs, and I saw someone step into the light at the bottom. Her blonde hair clung to her face, her summer dress caked in blood and dirt. But her face was angelic, almost hypnotic in its glow. I could almost her voice inside our heads imploring us to join her. “Come to me,” I swore I heard her whisper.

“Mischa,” Larter cried with a sob. He turned back to look at Meagan, a look of complete confusion in his eyes. Maybe he couldn’t tell who was who. How could Mischa be down there if she was up here?

“Eric,” the ghost whispered at the bottom of the stairs. She held out her arms, but she wasn’t smiling. She was beckoning him like a siren to a sailor lost at sea. I had to close my eyes before her haunted summons worked on me, too. This was no longer the ghost of a murdered innocent child. This was a specter of vengeance, a harbinger of retribution. And anyone close enough to hear her call would be caught up in its rising fury.

Larter hesitated at the top of the stairs. “Mischa, I thought…”

He didn’t get to finish his sentence. Meagan rushed at him from behind and pushed him hard with both hands, shoving with all her might. He toppled forward with a gasp of surprise and began a mad tumble down the staircase. Meagan stood in the doorway watching his descent into the cellar.

Getting up on shaky feet, I came up alongside her with the intent of pulling her out of the doorway and slamming the door shut. But something within me wouldn’t let me turn my back. I had to see if he were able to come back up the stairs after us again. He wasn’t.

He lay at the bottom of the stairs. He was in intense pain, a grimace on his face, and I could see one of his legs was lying at an odd angle. The revenant had approached his prone form and was leaning over him. I could see her lips moving, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying. Maybe it was something intended for the killer’s ears only.

She touched him with her hand, and he cringed away from her, as if her touch was that of a scorpion or spider. For a brief moment, her face changed. Gone was the pretty unblemished face of youth. Instead the skin was rotted half off her face, maggots crawled in one eye socket, as snakes and other crawly things slithered out from beneath her dress. Her tongue lolled out of her mouth like someone choking, and flies buzzed from her throat into the darkness of the cellar to swarm around Eric’s head. And then she was just Mischa again. To me it had been a split second of unspeakable horror, but I believe for Eric it lasted an eternity.

He let out a bloodcurdling scream, half terror, half rage. He raised the gun and fired it into her face. The bullets went through her and lodged in the ceiling above him, his finger continuing to click on the trigger as she took him into her embrace. He screamed and struggled frantically, trying to get away from her, but wherever he rolled, there she was, her arms around him. “Eric,” her dead voice whispered, and he dropped the useless gun to try to cover his ears. She leaned forward like she was going to kiss him, but instead whispered one word, which even Meagan and I could hear at the top of the stairs: “Murderer.”

His screams reverberated off the wall as if something were passing between them that we couldn’t see. I couldn’t watch it anymore. I closed the door and locked it. I turned to Meagan. I don’t know what she had endured during her captivity, what terrors Larter had bestowed upon her, but there almost seemed to be a look of satisfaction on her face. Seeing him face whatever horrors Mischa’s dead touch brought forth seemed enough.

“He tripped and fell,” she finally said.

“Yes he did,” I replied. I took hold of her hand. “Come on, let’s go.”

We left the house with Eric’s screams still echoing behind us.

We had barely made it to the sidewalk when the police arrived, some on foot, some in cars. They approached us with guns drawn, but then they realized I wasn’t who they were after. “He’s in the basement,” I told them. “I locked him in.”

They nodded and proceeded to enter the house with caution. A few officers stayed behind. They couldn’t believe who they saw in front of them. I guess they thought they’d never see the missing girl alive again. I have to hand it to her though, she handled herself with an air of dignity, and not the victim she had been.

“I am Meagan Mitchell,” she told them. “I want to go home.”

They wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and walked her to the curb, just as an ambulance pulled up. I smiled, hoping now she would be okay, and looked at an officer who stayed behind to keep an eye on me.

“I think I want to make a phone call,” I said.

He grinned and patted me on the shoulder. “I don’t think you’re under arrest anymore, buddy.”

“I still want to make that phone call. I want to tell my wife I love her.”

He smiled and showed me his wedding band. “I tell mine every day,” he beamed proudly. I nodded. From now on, I was going to do the same.

I glanced back at the house. I couldn’t hear Larter’s screams from out here. I reached into my pocket for Meagan’s anklet. It was gone. And this time it didn’t come back…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 41: A Surprise In The Cellar

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 41: A Surprise In The Cellar: Saturday AM Aug 13

I heard them come into the clearing. Peering out from my hiding place in the bushes, I saw they had their flashlights out and were shining them around. It would only be a matter of time before they spotted me.

My mind swirled with the recently imagined truth. Meagan Mitchell was alive. Mischa had been trying to get me to find the missing girl, not herself. Maybe a part of her spirit was restless, but her mission had been something far beyond herself, to save someone else from a similar fate. And for some unknown reason I had been chosen to be the one to see it done. I was the only one who could save Meagan now. I looked at her anklet in my hand. I was going to give it back to her. I wouldn’t let her die.

I stole as quiet as I could out through the other side of the brambles. The small noise alerted police to my presence, but before they could get a bead on me I was off into the woods and heading for the neighborhood on the other side. I came out of the woods and into a street. All was quiet except the buzzing of a streetlight. A sign told me I was on Higgins Lane. I dashed across the street and through some backyards without seeing if I was being pursued. I came around a house and into the next street: Geary Road. This street was silent as well, so I crossed the road, jumped a fence, and went through backyards again. A dog strained on its leash from its place on a porch, but even it too seemed sleepy and didn’t even bark. I saw a sign up on the porch that read “Happy Birthday Karen” and I wondered briefly who this Karen was and if she’d blown out all her candles. I was determined Miss Mitchell would blow out the candles on her next birthday too. I dashed across a yard where a sprinkler sprayed the grass. I ran right through the spray, paying it no mind. In front of me was the next street. A car sat parked by the curb, a small sign on its door that read: “Cleaning By Tess”. I didn’t bother to go around it, but scrambled across its hood and into the street. Mayfair Street.

I looked up at the numbers on the first house. 3111. A small wooden plaque depicting a flowered trellis read “Jackson”. Almost there, I went on down the street towards my destination. I looked behind me to see if anyone were following. No one was. Hopefully the police were lost and stumbling through the woods in the dark.

Two more houses down the street I found it, an old three-story house, the numbers 3115 on its front door. Larter’s House. I bounded up the front steps. They creaked loudly under my feet. I put my hand on the knob, but it was locked. I could hear noises coming from within the house, and a small light in the front window allowed me a peek inside. Through a gap in the curtains, I could see a television set was on. I couldn’t see any other movement, just the flickering images of the TV. For a moment, I wondered if I had the right house. Maybe I’d heard the police wrong. Maybe I was on a wild goose chase.

I climbed over the front porch railing, ducked down behind the windows, and crept alongside the house. There was something familiar about the property, and when I came around to the rear of the house, I thought of a dream from not long ago. A backyard similar to this. Kittens drowned in a kiddy pool. Could that have been the starting point of Larter’s madness all those years ago? I don’t pretend to be a psychologist, but I imagine the power that young boy felt holding the helpless animals under water and watching their lives slip away must have done something to his fragile mind. His parents had shipped him off to his uncle, a preacher, maybe hoping that influence would calm the boy and set him on the right path. But evil is evil, and when Mischa Boudreaux had come into the boy’s life, it set his twisted mind on a murderous course.

I shook these despairing thoughts from my head and approached the back door of the house. It too was locked. I was going to have to break in. Larter wasn’t here anyway, I told myself. He was back at the church, under the watchful eye of police officers.

I braced my shoulder to the door and shoved my weight against it. I felt it give just a little in its frame. I shoved again. The door shuddered, but it wasn’t budging enough to break. I pulled my shirt off. It was still wet from my baptism, but I wrapped it around my hand and made a fist.

I hit the glass in the door and it shattered with a loud noise. I looked around to see if any lights would come on in neighboring houses. Nothing. The night was still. I reached my hand carefully through the broken window and unlocked the door. It opened with a light creak on its hinges and I crept through the doorway.

This part of the house was dark. I could hear the television on in the front living room, a televangelist preaching the folly of sin and punishment of hell. I crept along a hallway towards the sound. I peeked around the corner into the dimly lit room. The picture on the TV glared in the subdued light, but no one was in the room. I thought maybe Larter had left it on to make others think someone was home, or possibly to cover up any noise from other parts of the house.

I went back down the hallway the way I’d come, opening doors and checking rooms as I went. An immaculately kept bedroom, a bathroom, a closet. I opened one and saw a set of stairs descending down into darkness. The cellar. She had to be in the cellar.

I reached around the doorframe and felt along the wall for a switch. I found it and flipped it on. A small light came on, illuminating junk and shadows. I went down the stairs two at a time. When I reached the bottom, I glanced around, but there was no one there. Shelves of canned goods lined the walls, a huge heater sat in the middle of the floor, Boxes were stacked up in one corner, while a pile of laundry sat in another by an old washing machine. I walked around the heater and saw a door in the back of the room. A light flickered from underneath it, and I moved as quietly as I could towards it. I put my hand on the knob and turned. Remarkably it was unlocked, but when I opened it I wasn’t quite prepared for what was inside.

It was a small room, concrete floor and walls. Egg cartons lined these walls, giving it more of an appearance of a beehive rather than a room. I knew this was to muffle sound and then I saw why. A bed was in one corner, bolted to the floor. On the bed, a girl in a ragged oversized nightshirt, her blonde hair tangled and matted, her eyes wild with terror, stared at me. She was handcuffed to the bed frame. She opened her mouth to say something from her dry, cracked lips, but I wasn’t paying attention to her. Instead, my eyes were fixed on the figure that huddled over her, its back to me. In one hand, the figure held a flashlight, shining it on the girl, in the other a hypodermic needle. The figure turned and glared at me balefully.

“Meddling fool,” they hissed, and in the light cast by the flashlight I saw who it was. “You just couldn’t leave it alone, could you? I told him you were going to be a problem with all your damned questions.”

It took me a moment before I could even speak her name. “Mrs. Shiflett?”

I couldn’t believe it. The old woman was standing there getting ready to inject the girl. Gone was the wheelchair or any other infirmity I may have believed about the woman. All this time had she just been putting on the act of a helpless old woman? Had Mrs. Shiflett been protecting and aiding her twisted nephew from the beginning? I wondered if Shaedra had known or found out and that was why she left town so fast.

The woman snarled like a cat and shone the flashlight in my eyes. Momentarily blinded, I held my hands up to my eyes. I felt a sharp pain in my ribs and looked down. The old woman had stabbed me with the hypodermic and was injecting whatever it was into my bloodstream. With my hand still wrapped up in my wet shirt, I punched her in the face. Normally one might consider this a cruel act to hit an old woman as if she were a man, but she had stabbed me and I was beyond caring what she or anyone else thought.

She collapsed to the floor, and I pulled the syringe from my ribcage, flinging it to the concrete. I approached the bed where the girl lay. She was trying to back as far into the corner as she could go. Her eyes told me she was afraid of me, that I might be one of them. Maybe it was the look in my eye, the desperation of this evening, that made her fear me. Either way, I had to set her at ease and get us both out of there.

“Meagan Mitchell,” I whispered in a calm voice. “I’ve come to take you home.” I held out my hand.

A look of confusion crossed her face. She hesitated for a moment and then stammered, “Are you a ghost?”

I smiled to reassure her. “No, I’m not.”

She nodded as if she understood, but there was this faraway look on her face. “A ghost comes to me sometimes,” she said quietly. “She said she was going to help. But she never did.”

“She sent me instead,” I told her. “Come on, we have to go now. Your parents miss you and we have to get out of here before she gets back up.” I looked to the floor where Mrs. Shiflett was out cold.

The Mitchell girl held up her wrist, showing me the handcuff. There were tears in her eyes. “I’m not going anywhere. He’s coming back for me.”

I knew she meant Larter. “No, he’s not. The police have him now.” I looked around the room to see if there was anything I could use to bust the handcuffs or pick the lock. There was nothing. I knelt down by Mrs. Shiflett and rummaged through her pockets. “Damn,” I muttered. She didn’t have the key on her. I picked up her flashlight and shone it along the floor. There they were. In the corner by the door. They must have fallen out when she went down for the count. I snatched them up and sat on the edge of the bed. I fumbled with Meagan’s shackles, but soon I had her free. She threw her arms around me, and cried against my shoulder, thankful for a rescue that seemed like it was never going to come. I rubbed her back and patted the back of her head as she trembled in my arms. I didn’t know what else to do but let her cry.

Finally I told her, “Meagan, we really have to go.” She wiped her tears away with the back of her hand and followed me as I got up to leave. We left the room and I closed the door shut behind me. The door had a lock on the outside, so I pushed it in. That would hold the old woman until the police could get here.

Meagan and I went up the stairs hand in hand, but when I reached the top I knew something was wrong. The TV wasn’t on anymore. All the lights were out. And my vision was getting cloudy. “Meagan,” I mumbled. The girl looked at me and her face seemed to distort. I could see the fear creeping back into her eyes. My legs gave out and I went down. She screamed and tried to catch me, but I hit the floor hard.

“Get up, please get up, mister,” she cried, trying to lift me, but I was too heavy for the teenager to contend with. The room swirled around me, and it reminded me of a child’s finger painting or some mad Picasso rendering. The drug was taking its effect. Whatever Mrs. Shiflett had intended for Meagan was now in me, delivered by the hypo she had stabbed me with. I could only imagine it was something to keep the prisoner docile and pliant. Pretty soon, I could barely lift my head from the floor.

“Go,” I told the girl in a slurred voice. “Run.”

But it was too late. A shadow fell across us. Larter was home…

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.