Jul23

Pete’s Folly Part 2 (A Horror Short Story)

“So what do you think Barnes? Creepy shit, huh?” The officer stood over Detective Barnes in the middle of a busy police precinct. Phones were ringing in the background and suspects were being processed for holding. They were both staring at the suggested playlist which appeared at the end of Pete’s video; which was uploaded by another user. Barnes leaned back into his chair and said, “How did this guy get the video?”

“According to the video description, the Pete guy was streaming his session live and the viewer recorded the stream onto his computer.”

Barnes rubbed his bearded chin while staring at the screen. “I dunno, Chippy. Yes, it’s very creepy. But you can do anything with computers these days.”

 

“I hate when you call me that.”

 

“Well get that chipped tooth fixed and then maybe I’ll call you Bob.”

 

“That’s, not my name either.”

 

“Wow this is awkward.”

“Enough fooling around, it’s Eric and you know it. Anyway, you think the video is fake?”

“You’re asking me to believe that a youtube video is real. I checked out the guys official youtube channel and it says, right there in the profile, ‘I’m an amateur horror film maker hoping to make the scariest videos you’ve ever seen.’”

“I guess you really are a detective eh, Barnes? There’s only one problem with your theory,” Chippy said with a smug look to his face.

“What’s that?”

“His family and friends filed a missing person’s report 48 hours after this video was posted.”

Barnes quirked his eyebrow and looked at the officer staring down at him. “Wipe that smirk off your face, you haven’t proved anything yet. There could be a million different reasons why he’s vanished. Did we send someone to investigate his apartment?”

 

The officer lowered his head, as if sensing an impending defeat. “Yes.”

“And?”

“They didn’t find anything.”

“Oh really?” Barnes replied with a cocky arrogance to his voice. “So there wasn’t a single item of evidence found in the apartment, correct?”

“Right,” Chippy said in a low voice.

“Did anyone live there at all?”

“His clothes were there and so were most of his personal effects. The bed was still messy and his clothes were neatly folded.”

“Wait, stop,” Barnes said while raising his hand. “His bed was still a mess and his clothes were folded?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you not realize that, that does not make any sense? Why would he leave his clothes?”

“He could just buy new clothes and change his identity, maybe run off to be homeless.”

Barnes rubbed his index finger on his chin as if he were lost in thought. “I don’t buy that. That would be a huge waste of money.”

“Like you said, there’s a million different reasons why he could have run off. There’s probably nothing to this case, I only brought it to your attention because you studied some of that weird shit back in the day.”

Barnes gave Chippy a hard look and said, “We’ve all done weird shit in college. Tell you what, I’ll go check out the apartment and take a look for myself.”

“Why? You just destroyed all of my proof!”

“Well, the guy is still missing. Best place to start is his apartment.”

Chippy smiled, revealing his chipped tooth and said, “Here’s the address, let me know whatcha find.”

Detective Scott Barnes set off to discover what happened to the young man who was supposedly attacked by demon’s. He was no stranger to the paranormal, his college years were spent apprenticing under paranormal investigators and immersing himself in the lore of the occult. He was unconvinced that the youtube video showing Pete’s attack was genuine, but the name Sammael caught his attention. To the average viewer, the name meant nothing, but to the man who studied demonology, there was great significance.

 

The name tumbled over and over in his mind, while driving to the apartment.

 

Sammael, the accuser, the deceiver.

 

Sammael, the seducer, the destroyer.

 

Sammael, the poison of God, the angel of death.

 

Why would an Archangel waste its time with a nobody like Pete? Barnes meant no offense by the thought, but Pete wasn’t exactly a high profile person like say… Jesus. Of course, indulging the thought, meant that Barnes may have felt a hint of truth behind the haunting video. He shook his head and banished the idea; Barnes remained ever the skeptic.

 

The detective arrived at the apartment late into the evening, around 8pm or so. He had to close some of his outstanding cases before he could indulge in his professional curiosity. He went to each neighbor’s apartment and asked them all the same thing, “Did you hear anything on the night Pete went missing?” The answers were different, but unanimous. “No I was at work; no I’m a heavy sleeper; no I was out partying with friends; no, I didn’t even know someone lived there.”

 

Barnes approached Pete’s apartment door and immediately felt a sense of dread. The handle was cool to the touch, but not uncomfortable and certainly not abnormal. He pushed open the door and was surprised that there was no squeak, creak, or any noise. It glided open as if it were a brand new door. Barnes stepped into the apartment, but didn’t really feel anything different. There was no sudden drop in temperature, nor was there a feeling of another presence. Ironic, considering just a second ago, he felt a presence lurking inside the home. Barnes hoisted a bag full of miscellaneous investigative tools into the apartment and prepared his crime scene.

 

He paced through the apartment in a very methodical and controlled manner. Each heavy footstep he took created loud clacks from his fancy black leather shoes. He bypassed all the rooms and went straight for the kitchen. He took one step in, kept his head on a swivel, and noted that the crime scene was clean, just as the officer described. Barnes knelt down and rubbed his hand over the surface of the floor where he had seen the boy hovering in the air. He was hoping to find some kind of residue, maybe dirt from his shoes? Ectoplasm? But he couldn’t find anything, his fingers squeaked along the linoleum plane.

 

“Hmm,” he muttered under his breath. Barnes placed his hand on one knee and slowly stood up from his kneeling position. He groaned as he pulled the weight of his body into an upright position. Barnes turned his attention to the nearby counter and inspected the utensils which had -in the video- scattered all over the kitchen. The knives, forks, and spoons were all in proper order, neither utensil out of place. It was as if they were taken straight out of the dishwasher. This piqued his curiosity, but not enough to warrant any additional attention.

 

He left the kitchen and walked into the bedroom where he was struck by a sudden coldness that stung every pore in his body. He searched for an air conditioning vent and waved his hand over the grate. He breathed a sigh of relief when he felt the air blowing through the vent. He searched around the room, digging his hands beneath Pete’s folded clothes and scanned the blankets for any signs of his presence, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. He took out a black light and hovered it over his bed, but there was no sign of semen or any bodily fluids. Barnes let out another sigh and placed his hands on his hips. “Now that doesn’t make any sense. There should be semen here. Either he washed the laundry before leaving town or he’s never done anything in bed,” he muttered.

 

Barnes turned his head and looked around the bedroom. It was devoid of any personal knick knacks that would express Pete’s personality. There were no posters, no paintings, no musical instruments, no decorations except for an oddly placed vase. Why the heck would you randomly put a vase there? he thought. The room wasn’t very large either, it only took Barnes ten paces to get from one end of the room to the other. Barnes probably could have gotten some skin and hair samples from the bed, but he didn’t see the purpose in doing so. The question was not to identify Pete, it was to ascertain his location.

 

Before leaving, Barnes noted a peculiar stain on the carpet. His knees cracked as he knelt down towards the mark. He brought out his magnifying glass, a small flashlight, and zoomed into the blemish. Blood… He couldn’t verify if it was Pete’s without lab work, but it was a lead regardless.

 

Now that he knew the blood existed, Barnes wondered if he could find the crucifix. He dropped to the floor and lay in a prone position. With his head firmly planted on the carpet, Barnes lifted the valance above the mattress. He shined his flashlight into the dark tunnel beneath the bed and saw the glint of an object nestled at the end of the wall. He reached his hand into the underbelly of the bed and felt a strange vibration surround him. It made the sound of a ghastly gregorian choir as it rumbled the carpet around Barnes, like a subway travelling beneath the street. He jerked his hand back and felt the room go silent.

 

“Okay,” he whispered.

 

The object was beyond arms length, so Barnes had to improvise. He left the room and returned with one of Pete’s mops. He thrust the handle into the bottom of the bed until he heard a clink. He then swatted the object out the side of the bed. He smiled crookedly and walked over to where he slid the object. He picked the item off the floor and said in a whisper, “Getting sloppy boys.” He shook his head with disapproval. How many times have I told these guys to be more thorough with their investigations?

 

It was the crucifix and there was without question dried blood on its stem. What was interesting however, was that the stem was not razor sharp, impossible to cut oneself with it. Barnes grazed his fingers around the cross and felt the ornate engravings carved within. He couldn’t find any switch or trigger to turn the cross into a dagger, so he wasn’t sure how Pete cut his hand. As he rotated and inspected the cross, his eyes met with that of the statue. The blood had dried around its head which had dripped  from the crown of thorns. Barnes clenched his teeth and placed the cross into a plastic evidence bag.

 

Just then, he heard a crash coming from the kitchen. Barnes drew his pistol and slowly walked towards the sound. “This is the police! No one should be in here right now,” he commanded. He waited just before exiting the bedroom and prepared himself for whoever was intruding on his investigation. Barnes turned towards the kitchen and gasped when he saw wooden boards nailed to the windows. “What the hell?” he whispered.

 

The kitchen had taken on a chilling blue hue; similar to that of an early morning winter storm. Except that it was nearing midnight and there was ghastly light streaming between the boarded windows. He turned towards the stove and saw a statue standing in the middle of the floor. Startled, he stumbled back into the doorway arch. The statue reminded Barnes of a child like angel. Its hands were clasped in prayer, but its eyes looked as though it were staring at him. Its hair was long and solid, sculpted to look long and curly, blond even, if it had color. Its eyes were hollowed out holes of black and dark streaks ran from its cheeks down to its neck. It wore a greek style toga and had folded wings sprouting from its back. The baby teeth inside the mouth of the statue were strangely eroded. Barnes pointed his gun at the statue and slowly stepped towards it. The statue did nothing but stand there… in the middle of a kitchen… in an apartment… appearing out of nowhere.

 

At the base of the statue was a rock like platform which contained the sculpture of a book. An upside down pentagram was carved into it, along with words inscribed in latin: Finem Dies.

 

“End of Days,” he whispered.

 

Barnes cautiously placed his hand on the chest of the statue and gave it a little push. It was heavy and didn’t budge an inch. It would have been impossible for someone to place the statue here undetected. Barnes suddenly thought that the statue was going to bite him and drew his hand back in a panic. Again, it just stood there, empty and soulless. Then, as if sensing his growing fear, the sound of footsteps rang through the apartment. Barnes whirled around and pointed his gun towards the hallway. He leaned into the hallway, as the pumping of his heart sent aches throughout the back of his neck and listened. The steps  were heavy and plodding, as if climbing a steep, old wooden staircase. Barnes’s eyes went wide, Staring down the corridor, he saw nothing but the closet door, the open bedroom, and a dimly lit corridor.

 

Footsteps weren’t out of the ordinary, but the apartment didn’t -have- a second floor. Yet the footsteps continued to climb up, zombie like in its pace. Barnes continued staring at the ceiling until he heard the footsteps slide to a stop, as if noticing his presence. Barnes’s pistol shook in his sturdy hands, cautious of what was coming.

 

Nothing happened. But that was enough to tell Barnes that he had overstayed his welcome. He grabbed his belongings and started towards the exit, only to find that there was nothing but a solid wall instead of a door. Barnes couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The door was right here!

 

Then… a very quiet, almost unintelligible, “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” breathed on the back of his neck. Barnes turned around and cocked his gun, ready to fire. Nothing, just an apartment which was now covered in a nightmarish blue light. The strange color gave Barnes the feeling of an early morning funeral on a rainy day; Overwhelming him with sadness and loneliness. When the laugh disappeared, he became aware of the dead silence. There was no buzzing of electricity nor traffic in the distance, not even a subtle room ambience, it was as if he had stepped into oblivion.

 

He felt encumbered by sadness and couldn’t understand why. He felt the desire to cry, but shook himself free of these unwanted emotions. Barnes feared that he was losing his mind, it didn’t feel like reality and yet he could touch and feel everything..

 

“No, please!” a woman’s voice cried.

 

Her voice was shrill and pierced through the bones, as if screaming at the top of her lungs. Barnes drew his gun and ran towards the sound. He turned facing the bathroom and nearly fell back when he gazed into the grotesque horror lurking inside the bathtub. A millipede like creature, with a child’s face as its head stood before him ready to attack. Hundreds of legs ran down the length of its stretched out spine, dwarfing Barnes in height. At the base, where its feet would have been, were the legs of a woman, broken and twisted. The appendages attached to the spine were solid, and the tips of its insectoid legs were worn down to nubs, almost as if it had seen heavy use. In place of eyes were black holes, its forehead bald, and its mouth vomited water, serving as a fountain.

 

“Jesus Christ,” he said aloud. “Thank God it’s just a statue.”

 

Barnes noticed an odd light similar to daylight shining above. He looked and saw that the ceiling had a huge gaping hole as if a bomb had crashed through it. Through the breach, he could see a pale grey sky, filled with swirling clouds looming ominously overhead. “Daylight at one in the morning? This can’t be real.” Barnes turned his attention back to the statue and noticed a ragged hole appearing in the wall behind it. Barnes shined his flashlight into the crack, but nothing illuminated.

 

Barnes felt a sense of dread as he came to realize that he was trapped in this alternate reality. Whatever he got himself roped into, he knew that he would have to break the curse in order to free himself from the haunted apartment. Sensing that he was being directed by an unseen force, Barnes stepped past the statue and crawled into the void.

 

He emerged on the other side and felt his shoe sink into a very deep puddle that went up to his knees. He pulled the rest of his body out of the entry and felt sloshing chunks swim around his feet. He groaned in disgust as unknown debris bounced off his legs. He grew frustrated with each plodding step and looked down to see what mess he stepped into. It was very dark and he wondered if he was having trouble with his eyes. The water looked red to him. He stared for a while longer and saw a peach log floating past his calves. Curious, he stuck his hand into the pool and picked the object up. It was soft to the touch and a bit… mushy. When he pulled the item out of the water, Barnes screamed in horror. He was holding onto the mutilated arm of a baby! He looked at the tub and it was filled to the brim with baby limbs and blood. Barnes, gripped in panic, fell out of the tub and crawled away from the horror.

 

Barnes convulsed as he felt today’s dinner claw at the back of his throat. He couldn’t escape the stench of copper mixed with rotting flesh and tried to hold his breath. He placed his blood covered hand on the wall and desperately searched for an exit. When his hand hit a doorknob, he immediately wrapped his fingers around it and yanked the door open. He jumped out of the horrific room and closed the door behind him, praying to wipe his mind of the experience. Tears grazed the lids of his eyes as he tried to forget about the mutilated souls swimming in his mind. Snap out of it Barnes, this can’t be real. He clambered to his feet and observed his surroundings. The musk of dry oak attacked his senses, it reminded him of when he visited old historical buildings on museum tours. Instead of modern, electrical lights, there were candles and a black antique stove for light and heat.

 

Once Barnes had a general understanding of his environment, he deduced that he was in an old Inn probably built in the 1800’s. He didn’t know why he was in an inn from the 1800’s, but that was the best he could come up with given the circumstances. Either way, he knew he wasn’t in an apartment anymore, had he travelled back in time to the colonial days? Barnes didn’t know and decided to explore the Inn. He spotted an antique table with a blood soaked cleaver mashed into the wood. He picked up the filthy knife and found himself suddenly flooded by strange images. Hallucinations, visions, memories? He didn’t know, but the more he held onto the cleaver, the more -real- the images became.

 

Barnes fell into a trance and began to babble to himself. “There were three people that lived in this place. There was a mother and a child that lived in the Inn, but there was another presence that refused to leave them in peace. He was the owner of this place, the Innkeeper.” Barnes became lost in the world being shown in front of him and continued mumbling. “The innkeeper was an evil man. He delighted in tormenting the mother and the child on a daily basis. He would hit them both and proceed to lock them downstairs in the cellar, with the rats, refusing them food and drink.

“Why didn’t they leave? The woman and child had nothing, not a cent to their name. She was very young, she shouldn’t have had a child at her age. She doesn’t know what to do, she’s very immature, she doesn’t know where to go if they were to escape. The Innkeeper was the only person willing to provide food and shelter when he deemed it appropriate. But why would the Innkeeper let her stay in the first place?”

 

Barnes’s voice shivered as more images appeared in his mind, he was unaware that another dimension was slowly becoming reality.

 

“He lusted after her… but he also… lusted after the child? Not in a sexual way, he wanted the child for a different reason. He wanted to eat the baby. He had been kidnapping children for decades, at night, when no one was awake. Stealing them from their cribs and dicing them up in the bathroom. That’s why he kept the girl and the chi–.”

 

Barnes suddenly found himself looking through someone else’s eyes. He looked down at his chest and saw a stained white shirt with suspenders wrapped around the shoulders. His hands were fat and greasy, one holding the bloodied cleaver and the other yanking on a door knob. The screams of the girl and the child filled his ears, but it filled him with delight. Or rather, Barnes could feel the joy of the Innkeeper during that moment. Barnes was horrified by what he was experiencing, and no matter how hard he struggled, he couldn’t escape from the terrifying vision. The gargantuan man busted open the door and licked his lips with delight. The young girl was covering her child like a shield, tears spilling from her eyes as her black hair draped over her face. The child, who looked to be only 5, was screaming alongside his mother. He looked at the boy’s curly blond hair and puffy cheeks and said, “Dinner!”. Barnes couldn’t avert his eyes, he struggled to escape the body of the giant pervert. He lifted his slovenly arm up above his head with cleaver clenched between his fingers. The girl screamed, “Sam, please don’t do this!” But his humanity had left since the day he was born.

 

He tried to move the girl away from the child, but she displayed a remarkable amount of strength. He couldn’t seem to free his meal from her arms, and he was growing agitated with every delayed second. The girl bit into his sweaty arm, causing him to bellow in pain and anger. Though Barnes experienced the pain alongside with him, he couldn’t help but cheer. Unfortunately, his exuberance was cut short when the Innkeeper, Sam, dropped his cleaver arm straight through the both of them. Barnes mentally screamed in anguish as he watched the murder happen before him. The innkeeper grabbed the child’s arm and tore it open as if splitting a chicken wing in half. Barnes fought as hard as he could through the nightmare and screamed at the top of his lungs, throwing the bloodied cleaver away from his hand.

 

As the hallucinations vanished from his mind, Barnes keeled over and puked all over the floor. Barnes covered his eyes and sobbed into -his own- hands, utterly destroyed by the depravity that took place. He breathed deeply and tried to tell his brain that this wasn’t real, that it was a figment of his imagination. Barnes channeled his guilt, horror, sadness, and turned it into anger. He gripped his pistol in one hand and decided that it was time to put a stop to the madness. He spotted a flesh covered door at the end of the hallway and made his way towards it..

 

He placed his hand on a door handle made of bone and heard the sound of someone crying from behind the door. Barnes cocked the hammer and burst into the room. He didn’t care what horrors lurked inside anymore, if anything, death would be a welcome release from this hell. Upon entering the room, his sense of smell was immediately assaulted by the stench of rotting meat. His first step into the room was met with a loud, wet squish; making him feel as though he were walking into a butcher’s preparation room. He scanned the room and saw the cadavers of hundreds of people, dangling from a ceiling that looked like the inside roof of someone’s mouth. The bodies were split open and stretched across the room like melted cheese. The walls, the furniture, the doorways, all were all made stretched out flesh. Dripping blood served as curtains, while extended bones mimicked chandeliers. Veins as thick as snakes throbbed within the meat. The room was alive and aware of Barnes’s presence.

 

Another flesh door stood before him. Barnes could hear the cries of someone in pain. “Someone please help me!” The words were hollow and masculine, as though spoken by someone on the precipice of death. Barnes approached the gateway, and literally kicked through the flesh door, not realizing it would split open so easily. He closed his eyes, unsure if his mind could handle seeing another atrocity. But he dared to open them, and what he saw caused him to utter one phrase.

 

“Oh, my, God…”

 

Nothing that Barnes could conjure from deepest recesses of his mind, could prepare him for the indescribable monstrosity before him.

 

He had found… Pete. But his entire body was flayed open. The flesh that surrounded the walls and ceiling were not from recycled cadavers, but from Pete’s own body. His torso had been opened from his chest down to his pelvis. His skin was stretched out to every corner of the room, revealing every vein and artery still pulsing within his pink flesh. Barnes could barely tell if the boy was still a boy. His face looked as though it were swollen with tumors and his eyes were hemorrhaging blood. The boy by Barnes’s guesstimation, was struggling to stay alive.

 

Pete stared at Barnes with his bloodshot eyes and wheezed, “Help… me.”

 

“I don’t know how,” Barnes replied.

 

Pete was silent for a moment as if pondering a difficult decision. His mouth moved again and he replied in a raspy, strained voice. “Kill… me…”

 

“I didn’t come all this way to kill you.”

 

“It’s…” he continued to wheeze. “Too late for me.”

 

Pete’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, turning into a pure white. His voice then deepened and sounded as if several voices were trying to speak at the same time. “The boy is mine! Ha ha ha ha ha ha.”

An upside down pentagram of fire appeared besides Pete. From within its unholy circle did a black shadow emerge. The shadow took the shape of a man beast, sprouting horns from its head, an elongated snout, and hooves for feet. Its body was that of a man, large and muscular, as if carved from a greek statue. It stood next to Pete and communicated through him as a medium.

 

“Are you the Archangel Sammael?” Barnes asked.

“Yesssss,” the demon hissed.

Barnes paused for a moment, he realized that he needed to be careful in speaking with the spirit. One wrong move and he could end up inviting the demon into his own body. “I don’t think you are.”

“What?” The demon was surprised by his response.

“Sammael is considered an Archangel, a ‘big wig’ of the holy world. Now why would an Archangel waste his time tormenting the life of a young boy? It wouldn’t make sense for an angel of death to keep the boy alive.

“I will see and touch your world through his body and bring my reckoning with it.”

“An Archangel does not need a boy to carry out God’s will. No, these are the actions of a lesser demon. A wretched soul who is angry that his time on Earth had run out.”

The demon released a guttural growl.

“I take your power away from you demon, because I know who you are. You cannot hide behind the veil of anonymity anymore.”

The demon clenched its clawed hands and screamed, “You lie.”

“No, Sam. I know that you are the innkeeper who murdered and ate children.”

The demon roared at the sound of its name.

“I read about your story many years ago. For at least 10 years, you had stolen children from the night and consumed their flesh. But there was a catch, one that you didn’t anticipate. A group of children from the local orphanage banded together and plotted to destroy you. They knew of your fear of millipedes and covered your body with them. While you screamed in terror the children tied you up and flayed your body open with your own meat cleaver, while you were still alive.”

 

“Enough!” The demon screamed in anger. Its voice began to boom as it yelled, “You dare? You think yourself equal to me human? The boy is mine and you will not escape here alive!”

Without the secret of its identity, the demon instantly lost power, which fed on the fear of the unknown. Unfortunately for Barnes, the demon decided to summon a little help. A putrid yellow sac formed on the ceiling and began to droop downward. The sac burst open as mucus spilled out from the opening followed by the appearance of insectoid legs. Then, the head of a stone child appeared and a huge spine with numerous legs attached to it began to climb out of the opening. It was the millipede statue from the bathroom. It crawled around the ceiling until it was over the detective’s head. It dropped down in front of him and stared into his eyes with its soulless baby face. It stood on its hind quarters and extended all of its arms, clicking them in a menacing manner. Barnes knew then, it was preparing to attack.

It screeched like a bat being killed by a predator and lunged towards Barnes. It tried to wrap its thousands of legs around the detective, but he managed to duck out of the way. The creature lunged at him again, this time nicking Barnes across the head. The blow was light, but strong enough to give him a bleeding gash.

Barnes tried to shoot the creature, but it had too much mobility. It’s slithering neck made it difficult for Barnes to land an accurate shot. Barnes tried over and over until he could hit the creature, his persistence paid off but produced no results. The bullet hit the statue square in the forehead, but it merely chipped away the stone. It was during this standoff that Pete spoke up again and said, “Kill me…”

Was Pete the only thing keeping this nightmare alive? Was he the beating heart that Barnes needed to kill? He was conflicted. He wanted to rescue the boy from this evil, alive. Was killing him really the only way to end it? Barnes didn’t have a choice, he needed to survive. He ducked past the slithering creature and used Pete to block the creature from attacking him. The creature tried to nip at Barnes with his head, but he continued to dodge its every attack. Finally, Barnes fired a shot towards the creature and accidentally managed to hit it in the eye. The creature squealed in agony and writhed like a hellish worm coming out of the poisoned earth. It wasn’t dead, but it was certainly distracted.

Barnes looked at Pete and whispered, “I’m sorry.” Before firing a shot into Pete’s head. The demon screamed in agony as the entire room began to collapse unto itself. Everything began to quake and rumble loudly as the cadavers began falling from the ceiling. The flesh was starting to shrink and detach itself from the corners of the room, leaving Barnes stranded. The floor tore open from underneath his feet, Barnes screamed as he fell into the void.

When he came to, Barnes found himself lying face first on a rough surface. He wriggled his fingers and felt as though he were touching a carpet of some sort. He slowly opened his eyes and saw that the world was a blur. As his vision came into focus he could see sunlight streaming in from the windows and could hear the sounds of birds chirping outside. Was he back at the apartment? Barnes turned over on his side and found the body of Pete lying right beside him. Barnes looked away, ashamed that he couldn’t save the boy from the demon that plagued him.

As he sat up, Pete suddenly stirred. Barnes quickly placed his hand on Pete’s shoulder and said, “Oh my God, are you alive?”

Pete’s voice was groggy, as if he needed to clear his throat before speaking. “…I think so.”

“Are you hurt?”

“I’ve got a pounding headache.”

Barnes couldn’t help but chuckle. Mentally, he questioned whether that was morbid, but physically, a good chuckle made him feel so much more… alive. Barnes helped Pete up to his feet and inspected his body for any wounds. Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any except for a light scar in the palm of his left hand.

“Do you remember what happened?” Barnes asked.

“Yeah…” Pete looked away as if he were trying to forget. After a moment, he faced Barnes and said,. “Thank you for getting me out of there. But… who are you?”

“Detective Scott Barnes. Your family called and said you were missing, I was the one they asked to investigate.”

“Wow, umm… sorry I put you through that.”

“If that’s your idea of getting an exorcism, call a priest next time.” Barnes hoped to get a smile out of Pete, but instead the boy looked dazed. It was almost as if he didn’t believe he was back in the real world.

Pete shook his head and said to Barnes, “That was horrible.”

Barnes placed his hand over Pete’s shoulder and gently shook him. “It’s over now, you don’t have to–.”

Pete suddenly turned towards Detective Barnes and embraced him tightly. He cried into the detective’s shoulder, regardless of the fact that this man was a complete stranger to him. Barnes couldn’t blame him, after surviving that nightmare, he would want to cry too.

“Thank you so much. I shouldn’t have been messing with that stuff. Thank you, thank you.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell ya what, why don’t we get breakfast and let your folks know you’re OK.”

Pete shook his head and said, “I really don’t have much of an appetite if that’s all right with you.”

 

“Too soon?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Well let’s call your parents regardless.”

Barnes couldn’t believe what had just happened. He was relieved that the boy had survived, hell, that they both survived the nightmare. He had never experienced such a fear that went so deep, that it cut him to the bone. Yet, there they were, two survivors of a demon that never should have been summoned in the first place. If there was a lesson Barnes and Pete learned from this horrific experience, it was to respect the world of the dead. Whether the spirit is benevolent or malicious, some form of afterlife does exist, and it is a place that humans should dare not venture.

 

How the hell am I going to write that police report?

CASE: 175927475

Missing Person: Pete Byrd

Reporting Officer: Det. Scott D. Barnes

 

Summary: Pete, age 24, was found sleeping in his apartment room complex. Victim stated that his cell phone was “turned off” and was unaware that family had reached out to him. When reporting officers went to investigate his home, he stated that he was visiting a friend out of town and failed to notify friends and family. Pete is in good health has decided to volunteer at the Williamsburg Police Station under the supervision of reporting officer Scott D. Barnes.

 

CASE CLOSED

Wilmar Luna
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