Oakwood Island Series

Part 6 - "Fury Unleashed - Part 2 "

A collaboration By Angella Jacob & Pierre C. Arseneault

The black bird sat perched atop a majestic pine in the middle of Oakwood Island. Its black pearled eyes caught and reflected the glint of the dying sunlight that was setting down behind the trees on the property where the old man was collecting twigs and branches to start a fire. In the distance there came a slight rumbling, and under its small claws the crow could feel the vibration getting stronger, approaching their hidden gem of a home in the deep woods of the island. It watched with curious attention as the large car turned onto the property and parked behind the old man's red Ford truck. Swooping down as fast as it could, the wind caught the ebony feathers of the crows large wings and made them flutter around its small body. It landed on the hood of the car with a thump but its squawking made all other noises dissipate into the early evening air. Inside the car, the young man stared down the bird, eyes wide and mouth gaped open, breathing quickly. He was caught off guard and evidently surprised to see the crow staring at him from such a close distance. The bird flapped about its wings a few more times and cawed louder than the first, making the man inside the vehicle scramble to pick up his gun from the hip holster of his uniform. As much as the bird felt the man should not be in this place, it suddenly felt the warning of the old man in the pit of its stomach. It held back another caw but flapped its wings as wide as it could. The crow waited, staring the young man down as he opened the car door and made his way out of the vehicle. As the bird felt the older man approaching, he knew he was no longer needed. The crow flapped its long spanning wings and in a few swoops of air it was gone high up and above the ground where Jack and Ryan began discussing the matters at hand.

* * *

As Jack's black-winged friend perched itself on the small table in the kitchen, Ryan stood in awe at the creature and the most natural stoop it had made for itself inside the old cabin. Ryan felt uneasy at once, the birds features standing strange amongst everyday household items and the kitchen gadgets. Jack never flinched as the bird had come in through the windows, hardly even glanced its way when it had carried its strong black wings through the open window. Something hinted to Ryan that this was not the first time the bird had visited Jack's abode, and dare he even think that it was almost as if Jack had known it was going to happen.

The large brown satchel that Jack had carried across his body lay on the counter near several plants and herbs, overflowing with greenery and pungent odours. Ryan turned his attention away from the collection of potted vegetation and crossed his arms on his chest as he asked Jack to clarify his earlier statements. “How did you know about Norah? We had just found her body and nobody in town knew about it.” Ryan eyed Jack like a hawk does to its prey, searching for a flinch, a change in his posture or speech. He waited to see any indication of a change in Jack's demeanour. The older man opened the satchel and out spilled several stems of a green plant that was all too familiar to Ryan. Jack replied with the same calm and steady voice he'd always had, “That's not important.” The satchels contents were now being placed into a large tin on the counter by their gatherer. Ryan watched as best he could from a few feet away behind Jack. He knew he needed to get answers from the old man, so he continued on, “OK then how do you know it's not a werewolf? You said that at the Old Mill Restaurant just before you left.” Jack glanced back over his right shoulder, peering at him through the corners of his dark eyes. “I did, didn't I?” he said. “There are things on this island that even I can't explain, Ryan. I don't know where it came from, but there is something making animals sick and dying on this island and I haven't found it yet. I have seen many animals feast on the dead ones, and on the decaying and infested flesh near the old trailer. Most of them got sick very quickly. Most of those died, but this one didn't and I'm not sure why.” Jack turned to Ryan, extending his hand in a motion towards the front door, inviting Ryan to lead the way outside. Ryan walked ahead of him as he continued on, “Once it was a coyote, but it's slowly been changing into something no one has ever seen. Now it walks on two legs and it has a taste for human flesh. As a coyote it used to fear man, but now it hungers to feed on us, and does so without fear.” Ryan opened the old screened door, making the hinges creak as it opened. “I'm glad you said that,” said Ryan, “I was wondering where I could get silver bullets made.” Jack held the door open for a moment, glanced back at the kitchen and waited as the crow flew out of the cabin through the open screen door. He let the door close with a resonating clank against the old wooden frame. The crow landed on the window ledge near the open door and stood waiting it seemed, watching Jack as he stood on the front porch of the cabin. “You won't need any silver bullets. I can tell you it won't be easy to kill though. First we need to find it.” Jack then looks down at the crow, who swiftly flew up onto his left shoulder, its small claws holding itself upright on his fleshy perch. Turning to face the crow, the old man speaks softly to it “You know what you need to do my friend, go find it for me...Go!” The crow suddenly takes flight and disappears behind the large trees surrounding the property. Ryan stood stunned at what he just saw, but before he could say anything, he turned to notice Jack had sat down in one of his handmade chairs, made out of tree branches. Jack lit a cigarette, but not before pointing to the chair next to him and said “Sit.” As Ryan sat down in the ornate chair next to Jack, the strong odour of the cigarette smoke fills his nostrils and at once he recognizes the smell. The smoke held a distinct aroma that Ryan knew all too well from his younger years and from the marijuana busts he'd had to partake while on the force. Jack smiled a wide grin and said “I know you haven't had any since your prom behind the dugouts at the baseball field, but it won't kill you...Besides, don't worry son, I only use it for my arthritis...” He looked off into the distance, peering into the woods, searching for something that was not there. Ryan picked himself up from the wooden chair, dusted off the front of his trousers and said “I gotta go now. Let me know if you find it, but don't do anything stupid Jack.”

As Ryan drove away from the cabin, he can see Jack smoking away while sitting on the stoop in his rear view mirror. “Now that explains a lot...” Ryan muttered to himself as he buckled his seat belt and turned onto the dirt road.

* * *

The Jenkins house stood secluded from the mainly populated area of Oakwood island. Alone and apart from other homes, it was a sad reminder of the curse that had plagued their family for centuries. It had served Norah well to keep her sister Amy away from anyone she may have harmed with her abilities. Over the years, there had been a few mishaps, scares mostly when someone came to the house without calling first. Only one house had been close enough for Amy's mind to reach with her abilities, but it had mysteriously burned down a very long time ago. That had been a blessing in disguise for the Jenkins, who always worried about Amy affecting their neighbours. Today however, the seclusion that had served Norah so well in keeping her secret also kept her a prisoner. It had been several days now that Amy had left Norah chained in the basement of their home. Norah tried to not think about the searing pain that was coming from her ankle. The scrapes and bruises it held from struggling to get the chain off of her foot were unbearable every time she moved. She knew if she could get the chain off she could then reach the pieces of the old bed frame that Amy had eventually damaged and she could use those pieces to hack away at the door. She knew she had to find some way to escape, as her food was running low. Amy had brought down a bit of food before leaving, indicating some small bit of humanity was still left inside of her somewhere. The food was running low now, and some was even going bad. The apples were rotting and the bread had so much mould on it that none of it was good anymore. In the back of her mind, Norah knew her sister Amy was now dead somewhere on Oakwood island. She felt her twin sister's death as fresh as she felt the metal chain rubbing against the raw and swollen skin of her ankle. She knew she had to escape soon, or else she would herself meet up with her sister in Death's earthly garden. Norah sat terrified, unsure why she couldn't focus her mind on forming a plan, of finding her thoughts clearly as she had always been able to do before. Her thoughts jumped from one to another, from a series of disturbing visions and sounds to her own voice making its way through. It kept reminding her to keep focus on hatching a plan to escape. Norah looked up at the dark stairway that led to the door out of the basement. There she could see shadows dancing against each other, making a mockery of her with their vivid movements as she remained immobile and trapped in the small space she had once held her sister captive. As her mouth opened, a faint voice that she could hardly recognize as her own escaped and made the shadows in the stairs dissipate in all directions. “Help.....” she said in a feeble voice now worn out by the screaming she had done earlier. The house remained as quiet and dead as her deceased sister Amy.

* * *

A few miles away from the Jenkins house, a large murder of crows sat perched in a few trees high above the forest. The breeze carried an eerie quietness for the most part, except an occasional cawing from a random bird. The large group would have appeared very odd to any onlookers, the massive amount of black feathered creatures all in one spot, so eerily quiet. Suddenly there came a ghost of a sound as all the birds took flight at once, something having seemingly spooked them away from their high perch in the forest. Once all the birds were gone, one lone crow stayed behind and peered out into the distance. It sat alone on a branch high at the top of the trees, and there it stood for a long time, waiting, listening and looking. It did all these things for one reason only, and a reason that only one living man understood as he himself sat in a trance-like state in his small cabin miles away. The lone crow finally took flight after what seemed like an eternity in the tree, and off it flew towards the outskirts of town, where Lawrence Watson and his family had been mauled to death. The crow took flight with the hope it would find what it looked for on the other side of the island.

* * *

The early evening light created the perfect backdrop for the little girl playing in the back of her parents house near the edge of town. She sang softly as she skipped around at the side of the yard, chasing her little dog Max, while her parents and other family members were busy with the BBQ in the back of the house. Little Jenny Randolph's scent had caught the beast's attention moments before, and it suddenly charged out of the woods, directly towards her. As she caught up to her little dog, Jenny turned around just in time to see a dark figure emerge from the woods, standing up on two legs and looking directly at her with wild, hungry eyes. Jenny screamed as the beast began making its way towards her, poor little Max struggling to escape her firm grip as she screamed the loudest scream she could. Several of the guests and family members at the house came around to see what had happened as soon as they heard this, and as soon as the beast saw so many other people standing around him, he knew he was outnumbered. His coyote instincts kicked in, knowing his prey was not worth the fight the rest of the pack would put up, he turned and ran back off in the woods. “Did you guys see that?” asked one of the guests. “I told you it's a werewolf!” said Patrick, one of Jenny's friends from school. “It can't be...” replied Jenny's father Clark in a shaky voice, “It's broad daylight and the full moon isn't for another week.” Patrick looked up at Mr. Randolph and asked “Then what was that?”

Clark Randolph replied “I don't know, I gotta call Ryan....Not sure what he can do about it but we gotta do something...”

The BBQ at the Randolph’s quickly wrapped up as everybody went inside, feeling safer there, especially now that daylight was quickly dissipating into the evening darkness, where the beast may still lurk, hungry and waiting.

* * *

The creature did not lurk nor wait though. It ran and ran head long through the forest with reckless abandon. It did not stop its stride until it was certain it was alone, then it came to a sudden halt. It felt the hunger growing inside, the smell of the little girl still thick in his nostrils, her flesh and meat had carried the familiar human scent of which he had fed upon so long ago now. His recent feedings of rabbits, racoons and stray cats wouldn't keep him strong for much longer. It waited for the sun to set completely, when the hunting would become easier. Soon it would feed upon human flesh once more. It waited for the sun to go down impatiently, pacing the forest floor with a deep hunger raging within.

High above the creature there circled a crow, watching him, finally having found what it had been searching for all this time. The crow landed stealthily in a tall tree and watched as the creature feasted upon the thoughts of its next meal.

* * *

Across the island, sitting amongst the tall trees and the remoteness of the wooded cabin, Jack was sitting on the front porch with his eyes closed. The sounds that emitted from deep within him emerged as low muffled chanting sounds that nobody else would hear. Sitting in his lap there was a loaded Remington Model 870 Wing-master shotgun, a deadly weapon for such a docile man. The wind picked up and ruffled the man's long grey hair, making it dance around his chest and shoulders. Jack opened his eyes, but even open he could see only one distinguishable scene before him. The trance never broken, his body retracted ever so slightly, tension building across his dark and leathery skin as he picked up the cold metal weapon from his lap and held it up in both his hands. The chanting ended as quickly as it had begun. Still in a state of meditation, he picked up the extra shells that slept in the wooden box on the floorboards of the porch and put several in his pockets. The shotgun looked heavy in the one hand as he carried it to the truck. As he opened the door to the driver's side, he spoke softly but in a firm voice “Stay with him my friend...stay with him....” As the engine of the truck turned, the dirt below the old muffler kicked up into a cloud of dust and then trailed behind the truck as it drove off into the wooded road towards town.

* * *

As darkness fell on the island, so did the worry fall upon Ryan. He drove down Hollows Lane in his police cruiser, on the lookout for anybody that had not heeded the police advice to stay indoors after dark unless absolutely necessary to be outside. All officers except for a select few were out and about this evening, keeping watch on their beloved community, unsure what exactly they were protecting it from on this chilly evening. All they knew was that the streets and surrounding woods of Oakwood were no longer safe and they wouldn't be safe until the creature that prowled them was captured or killed. As Ryan pulled up near the Leblanc residence at the end of Hollows Lane, he noticed a half dozen kids hanging out on the front lawn, tossing a football around and laughing loudly at a joke someone said. Ryan put down his window and called out to the group of them “You kids better get inside. It's not safe outdoors, especially not after dark.” He eyed them all one by one, their faces no longer smiling but frowns forming all around. As most kids their age, they didn't like being told what to do. One of them spoke up and with a smart-aleck tone of voice he called back “You heard what happened at the Randolph's, place didn't you? It won't attack crowds, it's afraid of us.” Grady Foster had been the kid that spoke up, the one that always spoke up and always thought he knew it all. Somewhere there came a snide remark from one of his friends “It should be scared of you, with that face!” A few chuckles were heard before Ryan kept on, “Listen to me Grady, we don't know what this thing is capable of, and I'm sure it will get braver as it gets hungrier. They were three at the Watson's house when they got attacked and you know how THAT turned out, don't you?” Ryan looked at the other kids, their faces serious and even a bit frightened. “Please kids, go inside now.” said Ryan. Wendy Leblanc spoke up next, feeling it was her duty as this was her parents house to be the one to do the responsible thing. “We better listen to him guys, come on...I just downloaded that old Stephen King movie, Silver Bullet, let's go watch that!” Grady tossed the football to another one of the kids and with a dirty look towards Ryan, he replied “Fine then, let's go.” The kids followed the pair inside as Ryan got back in his cruiser, satisfied with his ability to talk some sense into the rebellious kids. His cruiser slowly drove down Hollows Lane, then over to Willow Creek Road, where Norah's home stood silent and dark.

* * *

The red Ford truck trudged into town, the driver focused on the road but also on the events that were on his mind. As he pulled into town, he spotted Peggy Martin standing outside her home in her robe, waiting for Bijou, her little Pomeranian, to finish doing his business. As he neared her house, and rolled down his window, Jack heard her call out to her furry friend in her high pitched, squeaky voice “Hurry up will ya, before the big monster comes to eat us both!”. Jack leaned out his truck window and called out to her to ask “Peggy, have you seen Ryan?” Peggy turned around and when she recognized Jack she walked down her driveway a bit and replied, “No, but he's in town somewhere...why?”. Bijou, having done his business, ran quickly down the driveway to the truck where he sniffed and barked joyously, greeting the man with much enthusiasm. “Do you have his phone number?” asked Jack, seemingly growing impatient, which was very much not like him. “Of course I do Jack, he's my nephew...” Jack readjusted himself in his seat as Peggy came closer to the truck. She peered inside and spotted the shotgun on the seat next to Jack. A look of worry spread across her face as she asked “What is this about Jack? Is everything alright?” Jack looked at Peggy and with an almost desperate look on his face he said “Just call him and tell him to meet me at Eileen Jenkins' house. It's very important you do this for me Peggy.” She bent down as he asked her to call Ryan and picking up Bijou in her arms, she could feel the urgency in Jack's pleas. “Of course, I will...Oh and you mean Norah Jenkins' place, right?” she called out to Jack. By this point, he had already slowly started to drive off. From outside the open truck window she heard him call out “Tell him to wait for me outside!” Peggy didn't waste any time, and as she took out her cordless phone from her robe pocket, Bijou squirmed fervently out of Peggy's arms and jumped down, little paws hitting the pavement. He ran onto the sidewalk and wagged his tail while he watched the red truck drive away and turn off onto another street. When Ryan answered his phone, his aunt said “Ryan, it's your aunt Peggy...The strangest thing just happened....”

* * *

Outside of Norah's house, darkness had fallen on the property. It crept around the quiet house and distant neighbouring homes like the beast that hide in the shadows. It crept alongside the tree-lined property, where it would be safe from being seen. The crow watched the creature through the trees, as it searched for its next meal. It had followed it all evening, through the woods from street to street, it had been on the prowl for several hours. The creature came out of the woods slowly on all fours and walked across the yard to the front door of Norah's house. It sat up in a squatting position on its hind legs. Its deformed snout pointed upwards, small white clouds of breath forming as it sniffed the air, seemingly having caught scent of something that immediately captured its attention. The crow felt the beast growl from deep within before it ever heard it, rumbling at a low but clearly discernible level. The beast slowly stood upright, its fur stretching over large and heavy limbs. Cracking and popping sounds of joints resonated loudly into the quiet and cold night. This would allow it to walk on two legs. Once the creature stood upright, it made its way towards the home and quietly climbed the stairs of the front porch, approaching the dark house without fear. The beastly reflection in the glass window of the door visually echoed every move, its large and fur covered body crept without a sound as it reached the door. There it stood staring into its own animal eyes, reflected back on the window. It stared in awe of its own terrorizing allure, a simplistic awareness that it had not carried when it was but a coyote. Now, it could deduce the reasoning for the terror that people felt when it had fed upon them. As its instincts took over, it sniffed again, nostrils now full of the unmistakable smell of human flesh and blood. In one quick motion, the morphed coyote creature pounced onto the door and sent shards of glass flying inside the house. Within a few seconds it was standing in the middle of a dark room, its eyes pulsating a bright yellow while a thick oozing liquid of the same colour trickled from a few cuts on its left shoulder, pieces of broken glass still embedded in the fur covered flesh. It eyed the room and followed the scent to track it down into the kitchen. It turned to its right and noticed the smell seemed stronger in that direction. Directly in the scents path there was a closed white door with a soft glow of light underneath. A sudden burst of animalistic instinct took over the creature. It ran towards the closed white door at full speed. It knew its prey was on the other side and would stop at nothing to feed at this point. As it rushed towards the door, it emitted a deafening howl. At the very same moment, a car drove up the driveway, a beam of headlights lighting up part of the kitchen as it did.

* * *

As Ryan patrolled the streets of Oakwood, he could feel an increasingly strong sense of anxiety building up inside of him. Normally he always maintained a calm attitude and managed to keep his senses about him. During his ride tonight though, he could feel something wasn't right. He felt a kind of build up of emotions and worries taking residence within his subconscious. As he was driving down Willow Creek Road, he caught the distinct sound of a loud and crude howling that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He knew the sound all too well, as he had heard the exact same terrifying howl when he'd responded to the Stuart's incident back in February. It dawned on him that he had been in the vicinity of this creature before, and that he'd escaped without a scrape. He suddenly realized how lucky he had been that night, now knowing exactly how vicious this animal had proven itself. As he drove down the road, he searched intently on finding the source of the howl. Most homes were lit, families having a late supper, some putting their children to bed or reading them bedtime stories about the big bad wolf. Little did they seem to know that the big bad wolf had been lurking just outside their home, waiting for one of them to step outside with their guard down. As Ryan drove near Norah's house, his heart started to race when he noticed the front door had been shattered down the middle. Broken glass from the window sparkled against the beams of his headlights as he pulled up with his cruiser as close to the front porch as possible. The rest of the house remained drowned in the abyss of darkness. Ryan's hands felt cold and shaky, not warm and steady as they would normally have been under these circumstances. He felt scared for the first time in a long time. Grabbing his radio he called out to his co-workers for some much needed assistance. “Need backup at 5 Willow Creek Road for a possible break-in. Over.” The static of the radio seemed to overpower the car, except for the rapid and loud heartbeats that Ryan could hear echoing from within. Suddenly, the static was replaced by a crisp silence followed by a deep voice that said “Brent here. n the middle of something here. Over.” Ryan exhaled loudly. He had not noticed he'd been holding his breath. He brought the radio closer to his mouth and asked “Where are you, Brent?”. He hoped to be able to get some help right away but his hopes were dashed when Brent replied “Near the church. Father Thompson says he saw something in the woods behind the church. Clifford, Paul and I are just about to go check it out. Over”. Ryan looked up at the house where all seemed quiet and still now. He wondered if maybe he had imagined what he'd heard before, his own mind playing tricks on him. He replied back into the radio “When you are done with Father Thompson, come on by Norah Jenkin's house. Something doesn't look right here. Over” Brent quickly replied “We will be there as soon as we can. Over”. As soon as Ryan had placed the radio back onto its clip on the dash of the police cruiser, there came a loud crashing from inside the house. In a flash, the car door flung open, and Ryan was creeping up the walkway that led to Norah's house. He pulled out his gun from the leather holster on his hip, carrying it low, pointing it downwards in front of him. The air in front of his face formed small white clouds of fog as his hot breath pooled into the cold air. Once at the top of the porch stairs, he entered the house cautiously through the hole in the front door. Quickly glancing at the door, he noticed some fur was caught on fragments of the shattered wooden door. As he entered, he started straight towards a very dim light in the hall just ahead of him. It had been the light that Norah had always kept on in the kitchen over the sink. Ryan inched slowly towards the lighted kitchen, unsure of what he would find.

* * *

In the basement of the house on Willow Creek Road, a very weak and tired Norah was curled up on the small bed, where she remained chained and trapped. Her sleep fitful, her body twitched in the throws of a nightmare. “Amy...no....” she called out in her sleep. Oblivious to her, creeks from the upstairs made their way into the basement and resounded stiffly against the stark and cold underground room.

* * *

Upstairs, Ryan made his way through the living room to get to the kitchen. He had his flashlight in one hand and his gun in the other, carrying both next to each other in front of him, ready to react when he needed. Everything was in place in this room. Really the only thing that wasn't had been the front door. Someone had obviously forced their way inside the home. What Ryan was trying to figure out was if this person was still inside or not. Scanning the room slowly for any indication of another presence, his foot crunched on some broken glass carried over from the front door. If there had been someone else in the house with him, there was no doubt in Ryan's mind that they had most definitely been made aware of his presence now. His neck and shoulders stiffened as he lifted his foot off the crushed glass he'd just crushed a bit more. He kept moving forward, telling himself that it was too late to turn back now.

* * *

Norah stirred fitfully in her slumber. The dream awakened her, but confused, her mind was no longer of her own. She called out softly “Momma...is that you?” as her hand reached into the naked air, it found nothing there. She seemed to see something or someone that only her eyes could see.

* * *

Ryan suppressed the urge to gasp as he saw the creature at the back of the kitchen. As he stepped over from the living room into the kitchen, the beast came into view perfectly. It had emerged from behind a cracked white door that looked like it was just torn open also, shreds of white painted wood sprawled across the stairs and threshold of the basement doorway. The beast snarled loudly and exposed sharp razor like teeth, strings of saliva dangling from its fur covered chin. Ryan brought up his gun and took aim. Three shots rang out as he fired his gun without hesitation. The beast didn't even blink or budge. For a moment, it just stood there, its mouth gaping open, eyes as evil as a demon. Suddenly, the creature vanished into thin air, dissipating into nothingness. Just as Ryan lowered his gun, his eyes not believing what he had just seen, a sound from behind him made him turn his head turn a quarter turn but it was too late.

* * *

Suddenly, Norah is snapped back to reality and sat upright in the bed. The chain on her ankle clanked loudly as it hit the metal foot board when she tried to get up. Norah was unsure of what she'd just heard, but she was positive she was no longer in this house alone. She wondered if Amy had come back for her, thinking that perhaps she had been mistaking when she'd felt that her twin sister had died. She had been pretty certain she had felt that loss a few days prior, certain that it was her twin's loss of life that she had felt. Now, she was unsure of what she had just heard, and so she sat and waited.

* * *

Before Ryan could see what had produced the noise from behind him, the real beast pounced upon his body with such an intense hunger and fury that it brought Ryan flat on his back within seconds. As his head bounced off the linoleum floor, Ryan managed to raise his arms to protect his head and neck from the sharp teeth that tried to rip his face open. He suddenly sensed they both recognized each other from the Stuart's incident, and this combined with its great hunger was a recipe for certain disaster and death. The beast clawed at Ryan, the long claws dug as far as they could into his chest, ripping shreds from Ryan's bullet proof vest until it reached flesh. With one swift movement, he opened his mouth wide and with sharp teeth, bit down on Ryan's right arm, sending the gun flying out of Ryan's hand and sliding down the basement steps. Ryan struggled under the weight of the beast, its heavy legs pressing down on his own, crushing his muscles. As it pounced off Ryan it twisted around, the sound of bones cracking made Ryan scream out for help. Almost as in direct response to his cry for help, a loud shot rang throughout the house. The beast roared an inhumane roar of pain and stumbled next to Ryan, finally allowing Ryan to breathe a bit deeper without the pressure and heaviness of the beast atop of him. He could feel warm liquid sliding down his arm. Another shot is fired as the gravely wounded beast lurched forward towards a window. It leapt through it, sending shattered glass flying everywhere. Jack watched as the beast scrambled through the back yard and into the woods before he got a chance to fire again. Jack ran to the window, his riffle steady in his arms, ready to shoot again. The beast now gone, he knew he wouldn't get the chance again. As Jack turned around, he saw a frightened and very pale Norah emerging from the basement. She stood in the doorway, her face and hands dirty, she seemed confused, lost even. In her right hand she held a gun by its barrel, Ryan's pistol. It now had several scratches on the handle. Around her ankle was a length of chain that trailed along as she walked slowly up to the kitchen from the basement. As Norah spotted Ryan laying on her kitchen floor with blood gushing out from the deep wounds and gashes on his arm and shoulder, her nurse instincts kicked in at once. She rushed to get dish cloths and returned to Ryan's side, pressing the cloth down hard on his many wounds. Ryan's eyes grew wide as he recognized Norah. His mind was surely playing tricks on him, he thought. He asked inquisitively “Norah?”. Before she could respond, Jack spoke up with a harsh tone. “Your mind tricks did this to him, woman.” He said it with such an obvious malicious tone that Norah got up and backed away from both men slowly, the chain on her ankle clinking loudly as she got up. Jack raised his shot gun and pointed it towards Norah, his eyes fixated on hers. Voices made their way up the porch steps and quickly into the kitchen as three officers stepped onto the scene. “Ryan, oh my God...” said Brent the deputy as rushed to his side, pressing the material down hard on his wound to try to stop the bleeding. He called out to his partner “Paul, call for an ambulance..Hurry!” Looking up from Ryan, he noticed Jack lowered the shotgun from the thin and apparent sickly woman that stood before him. Suddenly, he recognized the woman and stared at her in disbelief. Looking back at Jack, he sensed he was as confused as he was at this point. Looking back down at Ryan, he noticed he had closed his eyes, going in and out of consciousness. The blood loss that Ryan had suffered had been severe, and his arm was now starting to ooze out a yellow substance of some kind. Brent knew Ryan needed immediate medical attention. He waited by Ryan's side for the ambulance to arrive.

* * *

The following morning, Brent, Burk and Jack were in the waiting room of the hospital, impatiently waiting for news about Ryan's surgery. When the doctor finally came to them, they all stood up but it was Burk that questioned him first. “How is he Doc?”. The doctor removed his glasses, and started to wipe them down using the sleeve of his scrubs. His eyes met the man's and he replied “He survived the surgery, but all we did was stop the bleeding for now. He will need more surgery when he gets stronger, but now we wait and see if his condition stabilizes. There is some kind of an infection also. We are monitoring that very closely as we are unsure of the source. It's unusual for an infection to form so quickly following a fresh wound like Ryan's”.

Burk crossed his arms across his chest and in his usual sarcastic tone, he replied “That’s what I call a tough day at the office, eh Doc?” Burk always knew how to use his bad taste in jokes to get dirty looks at the worst of times, and this was no exception. Ignoring the people who were giving him dirty looks, he turned to Jack and asked “What happened out there anyway?”. Jack was staring directly ahead, his gaze not meeting Burk's, he answered “He went in alone. Should have waited for me like I told him to. Damn fool didn't know about the cursed girl, I suppose.” Jack's eyes looked directly at Burk now and so intensely that he took a few steps back from Jack. The older man continued on “I shot it twice...It won't live long....”

Suddenly, a panic burst out as a few nurses rushed up from their station and ran past them. At the same time, the doctor was paged on the intercom system. “Doctor Kingsley, ICU Room 4, STAT”. The head nurse rushed into the waiting room, the adrenaline of her job obvious in her face. “Doctor Kingsley, we need you right away. He woke up screaming Norah's name and tore off half his stitches. He's bleeding bad!” The doctor ran back to the intensive care unit where Ryan had been just admitted after surgery.

Burk turned to Jack and with a confused look, he asked “What do you know about this Norah woman? If she is alive, can you tell me who the Hell we found half eaten in the street?” Jack stared straight ahead, ignoring the detective's questions. His eyes looked out past the long windows in the waiting room and into the sun soaked day that had just sprouted from the horizon a few minutes earlier. The early morning's sun rays cast a golden glow on his face, the deep lines around his eyes and mouth dissipating as the warmth of the rays glided over and through him. He knew what was to be on this morning. He knew he could not change the outcome of what was to become. He had spent so many long years accepting those things he could not change. Time had made it easier to accept, but it was always hard to face what had to become. Jack put on his hat and zipped up his long brown coat. He did not need to stick around to know what was coming. He bowed his head down and started to leave just as Dr. Kingsley Stevens stepped back out into the waiting area. As Jack walked out of the hospital, the doctor reached Burk and Brent and with a somber look upon his face he said “I'm so sorry. There was nothing more we could do for him...Ryan's gone.” Burk nodded at the doctor and looked out of the large windows to see Jack's shadow walking into the bright yellow sunshine.

* * *

Directly upstairs from the waiting room, there resides the psychiatric ward. Within its walls in room 204, sleeps Norah, strapped yet again to a bed, this time with several restraints across her legs, arms and chest. Here she will be trapped in body, while her mind is trapped within herself. Had she been awake, she may have noticed the murder of crows taking flight from the trees just outside her window. Away they flew together, with one lone, large crow trailing behind. It needed nothing more than to follow now and to wait to be called upon again by the old man in the woods.


 

COPYRIGHT 2012 ANGELLA JACOB & PIERRE C. ARSENEAULT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.