Sacrificing Souls: A Halloween Treat

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I share a scary treat with you.  I have this as an extra in my Novella  – Boding Evil, which is a free download on Amazon and the other ebook outlets.

***

Down through the ages, we have all heard stories of haunted houses.  Homes that were once full of love and life, but through a tragic event, a spirit becomes hopelessly trapped to wander the halls for all eternity.  This, my friend, is not one of those stories.

~~~

“Hurry up; I want to sleep in our bed tonight,” Keri pointed down the hall to the master bedroom.  “Be careful, that headboard and frame have been in my family for over 100 years.”

“Yes, Ma’am, we’ll take extra care not to damage it,” the burly man snorted.  The two men from the moving company looked at each other and rolled their eyes.  They had heard claims such as that all the time from customers.  Every piece of furniture was either a priceless antique or had belonged to a dead relative and was irreplaceable, regardless of what it was.

***

Mike and Keri Beale were both nervous and excited about their decision to move to Louisiana.  It had been a difficult decision to leave their lives behind in New York City.  However, when Mike was given the opportunity to join a prestigious Law Firm in New Orleans, they decided to jump at the chance.

At first, Keri was not sure if she wanted to move, but Mike had promised they would find a beautiful Southern mansion and she could make it a grand showplace.  At hearing this, Keri, of course, had immediately contacted a realtor in the area and had found the home of their dreams.  It was not exactly the most beautiful house at the time, but with hard work and lots of love, Keri knew one day it would be the perfect showplace for a successful attorney.

“Set the bed up other there.”  Keri pointed to the wall opposite the large walk-in closet.  “And please be careful not to damage the wood molding.”

The two men looked at the old, yellowing wallpaper and faded wood molding.  “Yes, Ma’am, we’ll be careful.”

Once the moving company personnel had left, Keri walked into the kitchen and looked at all of the stacked boxes.

“There is no way I can cook anything tonight.”  She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed, “I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”

***

Mike was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere at the new firm.  When he had first passed the bar and joined the large firm in New York, he realized it was going to consume a large part of his life.  Therefore, when the opportunity to join the law firm in New Orleans arose, he had jumped at it.  While he loved all the hustle and bustle of the city, he also longed for the time to begin a family with Keri.

“Dinner’s here,” Mike called out from the large foyer.  “Where are we going to eat this delicious smelling pizza?”

“In the dining room, of course,” Keri said playfully as she walked to the dining room and waited for Mike to join her.

“I don’t know why, but the delivery guy seemed relieved that he didn’t have to come up to the door,” Mike chuckled, placing the pizza box on the dining room table.  “Heck, he practically threw the pizza at me before he sped off.”

“Really, I don’t understand why.  I love it here,” Keri opened the box and inhaled deeply.  “This smells delicious.”

Mike sat next to her and grabbed a slice of the pizza.  “It tastes great, too.”

“I wish I could have cooked our dinner tonight, but everything is still packed.”

“Hey, I understand.  I just wish I could be more help.  I’ll be able to do more this coming weekend.”  Mike put the last bite of pizza in his mouth then grabbed another piece.

“Maybe I should have ordered two pizzas?  You seem exceptionally hungry tonight,” Keri chuckled when she saw the surprised look on his face.

“I am.  I was so busy today that I didn’t go to lunch.  I wanted to get my office organized and go over a few case files.”

creak…creak…

“What was that?” Keri looked toward the staircase that led to the upstairs rooms.

“I wouldn’t worry about it.  This is an old house, so we’ll probably hear things like that all the time.  These old houses have their own personalities,” Mike chuckled then shoved more pizza in his mouth.

creak….creak…THUD!

Keri looked at Mike, daring him to say that was nothing.

“Okay, maybe I should go see what it was.”  He stood and slowly walked toward the staircase, unsure if he wanted to find out what had made the unnerving sound.

“What was it?” Keri whispered, as she slowly followed Mike up the stairs.

“Quiet, I think I hear something.”  Mike felt his heart beating with such force that he believed it would explode from his chest.  As he topped the stairs, he held his breath and said a silent prayer they would find nothing out of the ordinary.

He leaned forward and looked to his right and then to his left.  Nothing.  “I don’t understand, the only thing I see is moving boxes stacked along the wall in the hallway.”

“Are you sure?” Keri breathed with a sense of relief in her voice.

“Yeah.  Come on, let’s go clean up downstairs.  I’d like to take a shower and go to bed.”  Mike took Keri by the hand, and they went back downstairs.

***

An unnerving silence filled the room as Keri lay next to Mike, who was now soundly asleep.  Lying there, her mind began to wander.  She tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, but for some reason, Keri felt there was something she was supposed to do.

After several minutes, Keri sat up on the edge of the bed.  The room was deathly quiet, and the coolness of the wood floor under her feet caused her body to shiver.  She could not explain it, but she felt the overwhelming desire to get up and do something.  What is wrong with me?

Convinced it was just new house jitters, Keri laid back down and rolled over on her side.  Then after a few minutes, she finally fell to sleep.

***

The door creaked as it slowly opened, allowing entry to its guest.  Stepping inside, an eerie glow filled the room, giving it a ghostly appearance.

“Come, my child,” the voice beckoned to her.

“Why am I here?” she asked hesitantly.

“You are here to restore me.”

“Restore you?  I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Come to me, so we may speak.”

Not understanding why; she did as commanded.  With each step, the floor grew colder against her bare feet as she padded her way to the large framed mirror sitting in the corner of the room by a stained-glass window.

“Who are you?” her voice quivered as she stood in front of the mirror.

A swirling mist began to form in the mirror.  Then from the mist, the image of a well-dressed older man appeared.

“I am the man who built this grand house.  It is my home, and it will be for all eternity.”

“How is that possible?  This house is over 150 years old.  Are you a ghost?”  The room suddenly grew bone-chillingly cold, as the man’s eyes began to glow a vibrant red.

A menacing laughter filled the room.  “I am no mere ghost; I am much more, foolish child.”

“I’m sorry, I meant no offense.  Please tell me why you summoned me.”

“That will come at the proper time.  For now, I only wanted to introduce myself.  Go rest, for tomorrow you have much to do.”  The swirling fog then wrapped around the man as he backed out of view.

***

“Keri, wake up.  I’ve already started the coffee, and I thought we could spend some time together before I have to leave for work,” Mike laughed then he pulled the blanket off her.

“Sheez, I’m getting up.  I didn’t sleep very well last night,” she groaned, wiping her eyes.

“Really, I slept like a log.  It must be the fresh country air,” Mike inhaled a deep breath.  Suddenly, he pointed toward the foot of the bed.  “Dang, what did you do last night, go running through a dirt field?”

“What?”  Keri looked down at where he was pointing and saw dirt smudges on the sheet.  “That doesn’t make any sense.  My feet were clean when I got into bed.  Besides, I don’t remember getting up all night long.”

“Maybe the reason you’re still tired is that you were sleep-walking,” Mike teased.

Keri did not find his taunts amusing one bit.  Typically, his teasing did not bother her, but for some reason, it did now.  “Come on, let’s go have some coffee.  Maybe that will wake me up some.”

***

Once Mike had left for work, Keri decided to go into town and check out the local hardware store.  Mike had told her to hire a painter and other contractors to do the renovation work on the house, but for some reason, she wanted to do it herself.

The little bell attached to the door rang, alerting the proprietor of a new customer.  Keri stepped inside of the small hardware store and was amazed at all the different things lining the shelves.  She had never done renovation work before, but for some strange reason, she knew just what she needed.

“Good morning, Miss.  How may I help you today?” the cheerful, elderly man asked.

“I’m in need of a few items, please.  First, I need to know if you have a floor sander to rent.  I plan to refinish the wood floors in my house.  I’d also like to see some paint color samples.”

“You must be new to town.  I don’t believe we’ve ever met.  My name is Bernie, and I own this establishment,” he held out his hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Bernie.  My name is Keri.  My husband and I recently moved here from New York,” she smiled, taking his offered hand.

No sooner had the words left her mouth than Bernie pulled his hand away; a look of fear replacing his smile.  “Oh, you’re the ones who bought that house.”

Keri could not understand his sudden change upon learning who she was.  “Yes, we were very fortunate to get such a good deal on it, too.  It’s a bit run down now, but I plan to have it back to a grand home again.”

“Did the realtor tell you the story of that house?” a faint voice came from the doorway to the back room.

“Quiet, Martha.  It’s not our place to meddle,” Bernie’s voice was firm but dripping with fear.

“She should be warned,” Martha said firmly.

Keri did not understand why, but the words the old woman said made an uncontrollable rage begin to burn deep inside of her.  She turned to face the woman, “There is nothing wrong with my house.  You need to keep your thoughts to yourself.”

When their gazes met, Martha suddenly grabbed her throat, unable to speak.

“Martha!”  Bernie rushed to his wife and caught her in his arms before she collapsed to the floor.

“What have you done to her?” Bernie cried out.  “Leave, and never come back!”

Without saying another word, Keri turned and walked out of the store.  How dare you speak to me that way. I love my house, and it WILL be beautiful again.

On the drive home, Keri thought back to what had transpired in the hardware store.  “Why did they both seem so afraid of the house?”

She decided to put that all behind her and focus on fixing up the house.

***

A feeling of contentment consumed Keri as she stepped through the front door.  Noticing how tired she was, Keri decided to take a short nap before unpacking the boxes in the kitchen.

After lying on the sofa, it only took a few moments before she began to float off to sleep.

“You did well today, my child,” the now familiar voice whispered in her ear.  “You have begun to restore the life to this house, and in time it will once again be the grand mansion it once was.”

At hearing his voice, Keri felt joy surge throughout her entire body.  “Yes, it will be beautiful again.”

***

“Keri, I’m home,” Mike called out, then set his briefcase down in the foyer.  “What smells good in here?”

“I’m making your favorite; lasagna, a tossed salad, and garlic toast.”

Mike stopped and looked around.  “I don’t know when you found time to cook.  You’ve really cleaned up this place.  Did you polish the floor?  It looks like it’s brand new.”

“I just did a little cleaning, that’s all.  Now, go wash up, dinner is ready.”

Keri grabbed the pan of lasagna from the oven and placed it on the table next to the salad.  She then put the garlic toast in a basket and set it on the table as well.

“I heard the most tragic news when I stopped in town to fill up my car on the way home.  The wife of the man who owns the hardware store died suddenly today.”  Mike sat in his chair and pulled it up to the table.  “They’re saying she had a stroke.  I guess it was quite a surprise since everyone there told me she seemed to be in good health.”

“Yes, that is quite tragic.”  Keri reached for the basket with the garlic bread and handed it to Mike.

He took a piece and set it on his plate.  “Anyway, they said her husband is quite upset and keeps talking about a demon that came into the store today and killed his wife.”

“The poor man is just distraught.  It must be hard to have your spouse suddenly die like that.”  Keri could not explain it but knowing the woman had died seemed to fill her with joy.  “Let’s eat before our food gets cold.”

***

As the moon shone through the bedroom window, a silent voice beckoned to Keri.  “Come, my child, we have work to do.”

***

The road was dark and foreboding on the drive to town.  She knew where she was headed but did not understand why.

“He is waiting for you, my child,” the voice said.

Keri turned the car down the long driveway and stopped in front of an old house with a wrap-around porch.  After getting out of the car, she quietly closed the door, surprised at how the dog lying on the porch remained asleep.

The cool night air caressed her skin through her thin nightgown, but she did not notice.  Placing her foot on the first step, it groaned.  She paused a moment, her breath catching in her throat with the fear she would awaken the sleeping dog.

“Do not fear, my child.  I have prepared everything for you,” the voice prodded her onward.

Keri then placed her foot on the next step and was pleased when there was no sound.  Glancing over at the dog, Keri noticed it was still sleeping soundly.  After taking a deep breath, she took the last two steps up to the door.

A dim glow of light escaped from under the door. When Keri reached for the doorknob, the door creaked, then slowly opened, as though welcoming her to enter.  The flickering of the dying fire filled the room, creating a haunting feeling.  The door slowly opened wide, showing the man asleep in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace.

That’s Bernie, the man from the hardware store, the words formed in her mind, as she found herself drawn to him.

“Why am I here?” she whispered.

“You know why.  He must die.  He is another sacrifice to restore the house to its once beauty and grandeur.”

“But I don’t understand.  How is that possible with his death?” Keri knew what the voice meant, but a part of her did not want to accept the truth.

“You must do this, or the house will die.  It needs the sacrifice to survive and regain its life-force.  Now do what you must,” the voice commanded.

Keri walked over to the sleeping man and glared down into his pain-filled face.  After a few moments, he opened his eyes and met her gaze.

“What are you doing here?” Bernie mumbled with a raspy voice.

“You know why I’m here,” she said with no emotion in her voice.

“You’re here to kill me just like you did Martha, aren’t you?  I’ve heard the tales about that house, but I always thought it was nothing but bullshit.”  Bernie tried to get out of the rocking chair but found his legs would not move.

Keri did not respond, she merely looked at this simple man and wondered what it felt like to know you were about to die.

“I do have one thing to say before you kill me.  Once the house is finished with you, you will die as well.  Anyone who has ever lived in that house has died a horrible death.”  Bernie then closed his eyes and awaited his fate.

Keri smiled, “Your death will be a great addition to the house.  Thank you for your sacrifice.”

Bernie opened his eyes and laughed.  “Your soul will burn in Hell with the demon who built that cursed house.  He was crazy and murdered so many innocent people in his quest for immortality.  He finally sold his soul to Satan for the opportunity to live forever.  I grew up hearing the stories about that house, but I never believed them; I guess I should have paid closer attention.  The entire town has watched that damn house suddenly appear restored after several strange deaths in the area.  Then those who bought it would die and the house would again sit vacant for years.  Then once the house is completely run down again, someone new will move in, and the strange deaths begin again.  Go ahead, you devil bitch, do what you must.  I’m ready to join my beloved Martha anyway.”

Bernie closed his eyes again.  After a moment, Keri reached out and touched him on the forehead.  His body trembled, and a burst of light shot forth, leaving an empty shell of the man he once was sitting in the rocking chair.

***

“Didn’t you sleep any last night?” Mike walked into the kitchen with an expression of concern on his face.  “You’re up early this morning.”

“No, not much.  I just wanted to get busy on the house.”  Keri reached for her cup of coffee and took another sip.

“Well, I need to get going.  I have an early meeting this morning with a new client.”  Mike leaned over and gently kissed Keri on the cheek.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Keri yawned then reached for the coffee pot to refill her cup.

***

“It’s happening again, just like it did forty years ago,” Clara, the Post Master whispered while she glanced around the post office lobby.  “I don’t know why the town just hasn’t torn that house down.  It’s cursed I tell you, cursed.”

“You know why they don’t.  Anyone who tries to destroy that house dies a horrible death.  We’ve all heard the stories of what he did in that house.  All that devil worshiping stuff and sacrificing those people,” Chuck, the feed store owner said in a hushed tone.

“Well, I don’t like it one bit.  Two wonderful people have died suddenly after meeting that woman.  How many more have to die before she’s done?”  Clara held her hand to her breast, feeling her heart beating rapidly with fear.

“I don’t know, but I sure hope that I don’t cross paths with her,” Chuck’s voice quivered at the thought of facing the one sent to gather souls.  “Well, I need to get back to the store.  Take care, Miss Clara.”

Chuck picked up his mail and said a silent prayer that he was not chosen as a sacrifice for the cursed house.

***

Keri stood in stunned amazement at the beauty before her.  She could not explain it, but somehow the walls inside of the house now appeared to have a fresh wallpaper, and the wood trim looked to be freshly stained.

“How is this possible?” she asked herself, but she knew the answer.  It was the sacrifices made the day before that was restoring the house.  She reached out and touched the wall. “You are alive, aren’t you?”

***

A thick fog had settled in around the small town, making those who understood the current events to stay safely inside their homes.  Mike had stayed late at the office, so he was glad to see the town’s Welcome sign appear along the side of the road through the fog in front of him.  The last couple of weeks had been strained whenever he went home.  Keri seemed distant, and whenever he asked her how she was getting the house renovated so quickly, she would tell him that it was none of his business.

“None of my business, what the hell is that supposed to mean?”  Mike did not like the feeling he had growing inside of him.  It was as though the house did not want him there, but how was that even possible?

Turning on the road leading to their house, the fog seemed to grow thicker.

“Damn, I can barely see.  I should have stayed in the city for the night,” he groaned, straining to see through the thickening fog.

She no longer needs you, a voice whispered in his ear.

“WHAT?” the word escaped his lips with such force, it nearly caused him to run off the road.

You heard me.  I said, she no longer needs you.  She has me, and that is all she desires.

Mike reached up and rubbed his eyes, trying to remove the thoughts stirring in his mind.  What was happening to them?  They used to be so happy and had such hopes and dreams before they bought that damn house.  When he opened his eyes again, the image he saw sent chills throughout his entire body.

There standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by thick, swirling fog was Keri.  Swerving to miss her, Mike plowed head-on into an old Southern Live Oak tree.

The blood on Mike’s face, mixed with pieces of broken glass felt cold as the night air filled the car.  He reached for the door handle but found the door jammed shut.

“Keri, help me,” his words were a mere whisper because of the steering wheel compressing his chest.

A deafening silence filled the air, as tears filled his eyes, and all hope of escape evaporated.  Suddenly, Mike heard a crackling noise come from under the hood of the car.  “Oh, God, no.”

The muffled cries of panic filled the air as the flames grew, steadily moving toward him.  “Please, I don’t want to die!  Help me, Keri, please, help me!”

Struggling to see through the smoke and fog, Mike wondered if he had only imagined seeing Keri.  Smoke filled the inside of the car, stinging his eyes and filling his lungs.  Wiping away the tears from his eyes, he now saw Keri standing in front of the car.

Smoke and fog swirled around her body, creating a ghostly appearance.  As their gazes met, a smile of satisfaction appeared on her lips.

“You will be a perfect addition,” were the only words she said, as the flames completely engulfed the car.

Keri stood in silence, watching the gruesome scene all play out before her.  She knew she should be sad, but she wasn’t.  Keri knew this sacrifice would nearly finish the renovation of her beloved house.

***

The morning sun burned through the thick fog, creating a sense of rebirth as the new day began.  Keri had awoken and was thrilled to see the latest improvements to the house.  Now, not only was the inside of the house completely restored, but the outside looked as though it was not just freshly painted, but newly built.

Standing in the yard, admiring its beauty, she knew the renovation was nearly complete on the home she loved above all else.  Keri was aware there would be questions regarding Mike’s death, but she was in no mood to worry about it now.  She was far too happy to dwell on such things.

Come to me, my child.  It is time to join me.

“Yes, I want to be with you for all eternity,” she felt a sense of peaceful contentment as she walked toward the house.  “I’m ready.”

With each step up the staircase to the top floor, the house seemed to take a breath, awaiting its final sacrifice.  She glanced over at the mirror, standing in the corner.  Do not fear, my childYou will forever be with me.

Squaring her shoulders, she walked to the stained-glass window and paused, resting her hand on the window latch.

It is time.  You know what you must do.

An eerie chuckle filled the room as she opened the window and stepped out on the narrow ledge.  The warmth of the sun beat down upon her but went unnoticed.  The only thing she felt was the cold, welcoming embrace of evil.

A strange smile crossed her lips while she looked down and watched the once dead and desolate landscape surrounding the house transform into a beautiful, lush garden.

“You live again with beauty and grace,” Keri said with a pleased expression on her face.  Knowing her task was complete, she stepped off the ledge into the bright morning sun.

***

Thirty years later…

“Oh, honey, I know it needs a lot of work, but I can make it a grand showplace again.”

2 thoughts on “Sacrificing Souls: A Halloween Treat

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