Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It was already more than halfway through the summer 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 chance to let their guard down. A lot had happened since January. And they all were deeply affected; affected by a tragedy involving their closest friend. Todd Springfield needed to get away, he volunteered to drive his busted old Honda and got this idea for a lake-trip rolling. Allen Waters was sitting shotgun enjoying the scenery of the mountains. And Steve was sitting in the back seat, with a camouflage hunting vest, putting on his utility belt with a giant buck-knife strapped to it, and then polishing his rifle with a towel. He looked up and waited until he got 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.
Steven- I mean Stockholm... was unaffected, after he gave the command he went right back to polishing the rifle, and hasn't looked back up since. Their drive was about four hours and they were more than halfway there. All three of them were from Yonkers, New York. They were a group of four friends who became very close in high school, but since then they all have gone to different colleges. They held onto to their brotherhood as best they could. But it was now the summer between junior and senior year, and the last eight months had rattled them all to the edge. A much needed vacation was due. After a little while, Allen pulled a CD out of a case, put it in the car stereo, and raised the volume. They listened to a sorted collection of Grateful Dead Live Concert albums for the last two hours of the trip.
"Yo...um...Stockton....which lake is it again?" asked Todd as they got off the highway.
"Lake Algonquin," answered Stockholm. Who then leans forward in his seat, cocks the rifle, points the edge of the barrel right at Todd's cheek, and says, "...And it's Stockholm."
"Don't fuck around like that," yells Allen while he pushes the barrel away from Todd.
"Relax, it's not even loaded," dismisses Stockholm. It was silent for a while after that, with only the sounds of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir jamming, and the mountain winds shouting outside the windows to fill the empty space.
It was now almost six o'clock, p.m. And they were arriving at their destination. It was a quaint cabin on the lake. Lake Algonquin was in northern New York, close to the border of New Hampshire. The closest 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 the weekend.
"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 trying to hide it. There was no electricity inside. It was a spacious cabin, a study in back, and a room next to it which looked like it had recently been turned into a bathroom.
"Looks like the real estate guy was here earlier," implied Todd after looking at the make-shift bathroom. There were also stairs to the right which led to a lofted floor looking over the common room. After checking out the entire cabin they set up all there stuff, and then went outside. Stockholm started gathering wood, and Todd and Allen began to make a fire-pit. By nightfall they had the fire roaring, and were casually sitting by it. No one was talking much. Allen could guess what was going on, the one thing they were all thinking about.
"We might as well just talk about it, and get it out of the way at this point," he declared.
"What's to talk about?" denounced Todd.
"It's over. We move on now." reasoned Stockholm.
"I'd hardly call this moving on..." commented Allen.
"He was your brother. You should be taking it the worse." countered Stockholm.
"There was nothing any of us could have done," summarized Todd, "Our only mistake was splitting up..."
"That's what it is."
"You pinpointed it man," confirmed Stockholm, "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 them out, 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 the fire. The tension had been lifted. Stockholm was whittling with his buck-knife, Todd was poking the fire with a stick while he gulped his beer, and Allen was sitting back, enjoying the occasion. He then stood up and said, "I''m gonna go down by the lake." They nodded at him and he walked down to the dock, by himself, that was next to the cabin. He sat on the edge of the dock, and dangled his legs off, dipping his feet into the water. It was real cold at first. But his feet got used to it in no time. Allen's mind drifted into the reflection of the moon and stars in the lake. He was no longer obsessing over his brother's death. An obsession that has consumed his entire identity. But for right now he was free.
The moon was bright and danced with the ripple of the lake in great definition. The reflection grew dark and was almost put out by the shadow of something behind Allen. 'It's some kind of animal, too quiet to be Todd or Stockholm' he thought to himself. He was frozen. As the beast got closer, Allen got a better look at it from the lake. What he saw was a contorted wolf with wide, owl-like eyes, a hooked nose, and, strangest of all, two scaly dragon-wings on its back. Allen took short quick breaths and tried to think. He tried to harness his fear and turned his head to confront this monster. But when he looked back there was nothing there. He was immediately relieved. It was just his imagination. He turned back to check out the reflection again. Instead of the moon and stars there was nothing but black. Thick tar sludge had replaced the water in the lake, 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 the deck, and tried to pull his legs out of the lake. But it was not working. Thankfully, Todd and Stockholm had just arrived and were grabbing his arms and pulling him out. To Allen, the lake felt like it had released him, and when he looked back after standing up, the water was back to normal.
"What happened?" asked Todd as he looked around at the empty beach. All he could see was a stump with a dirty old axe lodged in it. Stockholm took the rifle off his shoulder and pointed it all around them. "I don't know. I felt like I was being sucked in," staggered Allen. They brought him back to the fire where he calmed down. It was getting late and the fire was dying down. Allen and Todd went inside to go to sleep. "I'm gonna stay by the fire," said Stockholm. The other two walked in and quickly fell asleep.
Stockholm fell asleep in his chair and was woken up by the sunrise the next morning. All that was left of the fire were red-hot embers. It was still so early in the morning that he could see the dew accumulating 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, he came to a halt and had a thought, 'Should've brought a breakfast 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 when he heard a quack from above. He looked up and saw a "V" of ducks flying overhead. He unloaded on the flock. Three ducks plummeted lifelessly to the ground.
Before Stockholm started to walk over to his kills, he saw a rustle in the bushes. Whatever it was, it was heading for the dead ducks. Stockholm reloaded his rifle and chased after it. "Ain't no stinkin' 'coon gonna rob my trophies!" he mumbled to himself as he ran. When Stockholm got closer he also got a better look at what he was chasing. It was a dog (the size of a bear) with black wings that resembled an angel's wings, be it without the color difference. Stockholm froze. The beast was eating one of the ducks. Stockholm slowly approached the dog and tried to grab the other duck. The winged-dog stopped eating and turned to look at Stockholm. He gripped his rifle tight and picked the dead duck up by the legs. The beast walked over to Stockholm and spat blood directly into his face. Stockholm fired his rifle instinctively, but after the flash of the shot, the beast was gone. Stockholm would wonder if it all was a hallucination if he didn't still have its blood covering his face. He wiped it off as best he could and returned to the cabin.
"Where were you?" asked Todd once again poking the fire, and Allen yawning and stretching right in front of the cabin door.
"Getting us breakfast," responded Stockholm while he lifted up the duck. He had decided not to tell them about the winged-dog. Todd and Allen watched as Stockholm prepared the duck. When it was ready to be served, Todd and Allen both had found that they lost their appetites. "Your loss," said Stockholm as he tore into the duck's side like a wild animal.
It was approaching noon and everyone was getting restless. Allen and Stockholm decided to take a dip in the lake. Todd passed up the lake to look around inside the cabin. Once inside, he immediately headed for the study. Inside the study was a wall full of bookshelves, filled with very old books. Todd skimmed the rows briefly before one, in-particular, caught his eye. He pulled it out of the shelf and blew the accumulated dust off of it. The title read, The Journal of Zachariah Weston. This was not a published book, it must be the remnants of the last people to inhabit this house. Todd was immediately interested. He got comfortable in a cushy chair and opened the journal. The first entry was dated January 1st, 1702. But Todd was more interested in why the journal was only filled halfway. He flipped towards the last few entries and was deeply immersed in a terrifying world...
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 go against Father and Joseph. They seem to be under the impression that we will be coming into tremendous fortune. Someone, or something...has been telling them lies. I am so terrified, I have never felt so alone. I have always been afraid of Father, but never my younger brother before now. I must go for I hear someone coming. If they ever find this journal or me writing in it, it will surely be the end of me.
Last night something came to me in my room. His name 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 to kill me, and then he gave me an expression I cannot stop thinking about, "Over love, truth, or family, give me life." It is the most precious thing in the world to me right now and I will do whatever it takes to preserve it. Even if it means running away...
I tried to leave last night, but when I got outside Father was waiting for me in the forest with his axe. He said that Joseph 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 kill me.
My suspicions were right. They are plotting to kill me tomorrow, that is why I must leave tonight. Agares told me to leave them and run away, to fend for myself. If this is the lord's way, then hopefully this will be the last time this journal hears from me.
If you are wondering why the ink is red, it is because last night I killed my brother, Zachariah. And I am now writing with his blood in my new journal. But of course, you know this already according to the last couple of entries. I told father that he was planning to turn us in and he caught him running away, caught him right in the head with his axe. The only problem now is what to do about father. He has become paranoid, sometimes he 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 to do is trick him into putting down that axe. Perhaps, I will catch him while he'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 by something. Who knows if those ghosts and spirits were still here. And then it hit him. He ran out of the cabin and down to the beach with the journal still in his hand. But it was too late. The axe was down at the beach. Unfortunately, it had found its way into the hands of Stockholm, and he had already plunged it into Allen's stomach. Todd was horrified and rushed back to the cabin. He grabbed the rifle and locked the door behind him. Stockholm left for the woods. Allen was wounded but he was not dead. He got to his feet and slowly made his way to the cabin. Inside the cabin, Todd was barricading furniture in front of the doors and windows when a light caught his eye. It was the ghost of a kid. 'It must be Zachariah.' He asked it what had happened here and this is what the spirit told him, "The people before us who built this cabin were devil worshipers, they performed satanic rituals down at the beach. They called upon a duke, a prince, and a president of hell. These three demons spawned through a portal from hell through the lake and traded positions with the worshipers. When my family moved in they tricked and seduced us into killing each other with delusions of treasures. Their names are Agares, Astaroth, and Caacrinolas. And they are still here."
"How can I trust you?" skepticized Todd. And the phantom kid turned into Todd's friend and Allen's deceased brother, Louis. Without another doubt, Todd believed the ghost's story. But before he could speak to Louis his face dissolved into his brother's face being pushed against the window. Todd broke the window and pulled Allen inside. "I thought you were dead," he said to Allen. In through the hole from the window, after Allen, crawled a crocodile. It jumped over 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 the staircase and began biting and scratching him furiously. Allen watched as Todd writhed in pain alone on the floor, blood being spilt by scratches all around him. Allen could not see the crocodile.
Meanwhile, in the woods Stockholm was looking at all of the bruises covering his body. He tore his shirt off and found that many of the lesions were bursting and cutting his skin open. The lesions and sores were blistering and oozing. Stockholm was going mad with pain, and peeled some of his flesh off to ease his suffering. Out from underneath the peeling flesh crawled thousands of tiny bugs. Little larva growing in his rot. No longer in pain, he charged back to the cabin and began chopping down a piece of the wall with the axe. Allen was trying to calm Todd down. Allen then thought of something. He tied Todd to the railing-posts on the staircase, and opened the door for Stockholm. He called over to him, "I know you are looking for the treasure. If you kill him before me, I will 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 will understand..." Stockholm looked shocked that Allen knew about the dog that gave him this new strength. "...Here," said Allen as he handed him his 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 shot out.
Allen had taken out all of the ammo. He then swung the axe into Stockholm's back and brought him to the ground. "Oh my god!" screamed out Todd, "I thought you lost it for a second."
"I did too," confessed Allen, gripping the handle of the axe tighter. On an impulse Allen swung the axe for Todd's head, but Todd moved out of the way and the axe chopped his binds off. Todd fell 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 can drop 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, I can fix it all. I find the treasure."
"What treasure Allen?"
"MY TREASURE!" screams Stockholm as he tackles Allen to the floor and the axe slides towards Todd's feet. Allen and Stockholm wrestle on the floor, jabbing their fingers into each other's wounds and twisting. Todd looks at the axe. He is sure that it is the cause of all this. He picks it up and rushes down to the lake. He is prepared to throw it into the lake. Todd's running down the path and looking behind him for Allen and Stockholm. When he turns back around he is thrown backwards off his feet by a frightful monster. A body with three heads, (a wolf's head, a dog's head, and a crocodile's head) two different kinds of wings (demon's wings and angel's wings), and six arms and six legs. It jumps at Todd and crawls into his mouth, burrowing its way inside of him.
Allen and Stockholm still on top of each other, realize that Todd is trying to get rid of the axe, and both get up to run after him. "Allen, where are the bullets?"
"If I tell you will you only kill Todd with them?"
"Of course, I shall save you for the axe." Allen laughed sinisterly and retrieved the ammo for the rifle. Stockholm reloaded the rifle, and they both headed for the beach. 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 Stockholm could fire the rifle, Todd chopped the barrel clean off. He was moving unnaturally fast. The next axe-swing was for his head. Stockholm dropped the rifle and ducked back. Allen jumped forward, picked up the sawed-off rifle, and shot Todd point-blank in the chest. Allen screamed as the rifle blew apart in his hands. Todd shook his head, cocked the axe 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 Stockholm cared. Todd took another swing, this one intended for Stockholm, but as they both ran at each other, Todd was stopped by Stockholm catching the handle of the axe, mid-air.
Now they were both battling for the axe. Todd pulled back the bottom part of the handle and then jolted it forward, hitting Stockholm in between the legs. Stockholm screamed in outrage, and shoved his head into Todd's neck, biting furiously, and pulling his flesh off with his teeth. Todd let go of the axe, kicked Stockholm back, and ran over behind a tree. Stockholm caught up and took a swing at him. The axe missed and got caught in the tree. Todd grabbed Stockholm by the hair and smashed his 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. Underneath his skin was the triple-headed monster. Todd pulled the axe out of the tree and slowly approached Stockholm. Stockholm was cowering underneath Todd as he raised the axe. But then he remembered the buck-knife that was strapped to his side. In one fluent motion, he took out the knife and stabbed Todd in the heart, before the axe-stroke fell. Todd stopped dead in his tracks. The axe suspended in the air. Stockholm exhaled, and laughed in victory. But his laughter was cut short when the axe cut his brain in half. Todd was not dead and had split Stockholm's head down the middle.
Stockholm was dead, but just to be sure Todd went buck-wild with the axe, carving his carcass out like a pumpkin. Todd could finally get away. He ran back towards the cabin, but he did not go for his busted old Honda. He went for the lake. Once he got to the lake, still carrying the axe, he pulled out the giant knife that was lodged in his chest, threw it, and stuck it into the stump where Stockholm had first found the axe. After the throw Todd's heart fell out of his chest cavity and he couldn't move anymore. With his last motion, Todd smiled and fell into the lake, still holding the axe.
But did he really get away?