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Entry 39: Out Of The Frying Pan: Late Friday Night Aug. 12
An hour went by, and Larter didn’t show. There was a television out in the hallway and I was on the news. A reporter was saying a local man, the janitor of a nearby church, had been charged with the abduction of Meagan Mitchell. The police weren’t giving many details, but that more charges were pending. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Then I realized I was already in a hole.
Finally after three hours of being in the holding cell, an officer came and unlocked the door. “You made bail,” he said.
“Yeah, somebody bailed you out.”
When I got out front and they gave me my things back, I saw Larter waiting. I sighed in relief. He walked over to me. “I couldn’t let you sit in there all night. It wouldn’t be the Christian thing to do.”
“Thanks,” I said. “But from the look of things, they’ll be throwing me in there again soon anyway.”
He shook his head sadly. “Come on, the car’s out front. Let’s get you out of here.”
We went out to the car, and thankfully there weren’t any reporters waiting like you see in the movies. I guess they were waiting for the big news: that I was being charged with murder. I dreaded that thought and made a quick prayer that the real killer would be caught and I’d be absolved of all this.
“I called the church’s lawyer,” Larter said. “We will help all we can, but if the church gets implicated in all this, it won’t be easy.”
“I didn’t do anything,” I replied.
“I know that, Paul. You seem like too nice of a guy to bring harm to anyone, let alone a defenseless girl.”
“I can’t afford to pay your lawyer.”
“It’s okay, we’ll worry about all that later. He’s on his way to the church now. I told him we’d meet him there.”
“I can’t believe this is happening to me,” I said. “I have lost everything, even my wife. All over a missing girl. I should just kill myself.”
“Hey, don’t talk like that. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll find an end to all this, you’ll see.” He put his hand reassuringly on my shoulder.
He smiled and we pulled into the church lot.
“Our lawyer’s not here yet,” Larter said. “You want to go over to your place and change or anything? I’ll wait here at the church for him to show.”
“No, that’s okay. I might as well wait with you.”
He nodded and we both went in the church. I flicked on the lights and closed the door behind me. For a moment, I thought I saw something at the edge of the woods close to my house. It was now dark, so I couldn’t tell what it was, but something out there had moved, I was certain of it.
“Come on, we’ll wait in the office,” Larter said, and I followed him, trying not to think about who was out there moving around. Should I say something to him about it? No, the less he gets involved the better.
I went into the office and he excused himself to use the restroom. I sat down and waited. The secretary’s desk was a little cluttered, a stack of papers sitting on the edge waiting to be signed, another pile of outgoing mail. A paperweight sat on one edge and I reached over and picked it up. It was a photo cube, and inside I could see pictures of the church, the pastor, and what appeared to be a photo of the former staff. Larter was there, as was the secretary and several other gentlemen. But what stood out was a man who clearly had custodian written all over him. Could this be the guy I had replaced?
Larter came back in and sat down beside me. “Did you know this guy very well?” I asked, showing him the cube.
“Not much. He wasn’t with us for long. He died of a stroke.”
“In the church?”
“Outside on the lawn. He was mowing the grass.”
“We had a lady clean for us for awhile, but she said the church was too big. Personally I think it creeped her out to be working in here by herself, if you know what I mean.”
“Yes I do.”
We sat in silence for a while and then he asked a question. “They said you had some of that girl’s things, is that true?”
I nodded. “Yeah. But I found them.”
“That doesn’t look too good,” he reasoned. “You being the new guy in town and all.”
He stood up and went to the window. Looking out, he said, “I know what it’s like to be the new guy. In small towns like this, they always look at the outsider first…Ahh, there he is.”
“Our lawyer. He just pulled up.”
Larter walked out the office and I followed him. We walked down the hallway towards the front door to greet the legal counsel, and he talked the whole way.
“When I first moved here as a kid, nobody liked me. They looked at me like I didn’t belong.”
I nodded. I certainly didn’t feel like I belonged here anymore either.
“I thought since my uncle was the pastor I’d be readily accepted,” he went on. “But I wasn’t.”
“Your uncle was the pastor?”
“Yes. But no one took that in account. I was thought of as the bad egg. I thought for a while there was one person who understood me, but in the end she didn’t.”
His uncle was the pastor? He lived here in his youth? There was a girl? Something was clicking into place and I didn’t like it much.
He grinned and spoke as if he was lost in his own little world. “Yes, pretty little Mischa. She understood me so well she was pregnant with my child. She said it wasn’t mine, but I know it was. Her other boyfriend was too goody goody to get that far. And now he’s legally mad.” He laughed at this.
I swallowed hard. Finally, I knew who the mystery boyfriend was. It was Larter. Eric Larter. But did he kill her? No, there was no Mischa. It had been this girl Meagan the whole time, I thought. Oh my god, could there be two of them? Mischa and Meagan?
“Eric,” I said, speaking his name for the first time. “Did Mischa go away?”
“Yes, I guess she did,” he replied. We stopped at the front door, and he positioned himself in front of it, blocking any means of escape. I was praying the lawyer was on the other side of that door, and with him the police. But I knew he wasn’t there.
“There is no lawyer coming is there?”
He smiled, but there was no mirth there, only darkness. “You got me.”
I had to figure a way past him. I had to alert someone that it was Larter. “She came back,” I said.
“Yes, she’s here in the church.”
This threw him off a little. “Where in the church?” he asked warily.
“In the baptismal where you drowned her, just like those little cats in the kiddy pool back home.”
He didn’t know what to say. His face turned white, as if I had presented him with a ghost. And I had. I couldn’t stop there either. Something was in motion and I had to know.
“What’s the matter, Eric? Did she spurn your advances? Choose the other boy over you? Or do you just like killing defenseless things?”
I was feeling brave now. I figured if I could be on the offensive, I just might be able to get out of this one. I was wrong. He grabbed me and slammed me up against the door. It shook with the force.
“You don’t know nothing,” he hissed loudly. “You think you know me? You think you can just come here and play detective? Think you’re so smart? You think you have it all sewn up, don’t you, Sherlock?” He slammed me into the door again, his fingers wrapped up in my shirt’s lapel. I tried to push him away, but he was leaned up too close, keeping me pinned to the door. “Oh no, my friend, you don’t know anything,” he whispered in my ear with a quiet menace. He grabbed hold of my shoulder and turned me to the door. “Time for you to get your comeuppance.” And with this he flung the front door open and pushed me out into the night.
I stumbled on the church steps, and he went to grab me again, but there was a sound that made us both turn. From the corner of the building it came, and suddenly I realized what had been out there in the woods earlier watching us…Penny.
The dog growled and came at us running. She lunged at Larter, her jaws catching the wrist he’ d raised to defend himself with. They both went down, Penny on top of the murderer of children. I heard the grinding of her teeth on bone as she bit down hard and he screamed. “Get her off of me!”
I did no such thing. I ran back into the church and slammed the door behind me. I had to get to the phone and call the police. Once in the secretary’s office, I snatched up the phone and managed to glance back out the window. Penny still had Larter and they were rolling in the grass. “Yes, baby, yes,” I smiled. “You get him.”
I stopped smiling. There was no dial tone. Just that damned hissing. The same old sound that had been there times before. Except now there was something else, a voice. And it whispered something. It was ghostly and faint, but I heard it. “I want to go home,” it said.
Then I realized something. Outside there was silence. I went to the window and looked out. Neither Larter nor Penny could be seen. “Damn, where are they?” I muttered.
I heard the front door slam with a bang.
“I killed that damn dog of yours,” Larter’s voice cried out triumphantly. I ran out into the hallway. He had dragged Penny inside by her collar. She wasn’t fighting him as he set her down. “I think I broke her ribs and punctured a lung.” I could see the dog’s chest heaving laboriously up and down. “She doesn’t have long,” he grinned. “And neither do you…”
He stalked towards me, and I noticed he had a gun in his hand. He was done playing. “I could have just shot her, but I won’t waste a bullet on a bitch,” he sneered. “On you however, it’s a different story.”
“Shit,” I realized and turned to run. But no matter how fast you run, it’s hard to outpace a bullet. I had almost made it back into the office when he pulled the trigger. The bullet hit me in the back of my leg. It was hot, and my whole body felt like it was on fire. I collapsed to the floor in a cry of pain .
Larter took his time getting to me. I tried to pull myself across the floor and shut the office door behind me. He stopped it with his hand and leaned over me, the gun trained on my face. “Time for a baptism,” he grinned.
He grabbed my hair with one hand, and with the other he hit me hard in the head with the gun. Everything started to go black. I shook my head, trying to shake off the darkness. He hit me again and I began to slip into oblivion. No, this can’t be happening, I thought. Not like this, dear Jesus, don’t let him kill me.
Mischa, please help me. Then the darkness took me, until I woke up again into a whole new terror…
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.