David slammed the door to his apartment and tossed his book bag on the bed. Sayako looked up from her video games and narrowed her eyes at him.
“What?” He snapped.
“No, you smell of magic.”
Of course he did. He’d been around a lying witch.
He laid down and tried to sleep despite the sound of Sayako’s Skyrim adventure going on in the background. Life sucked and there was no point in staying up.
Everything had gone wrong somehow. And beside the fact that the girl he loved was a murderous witch, his head hurt like someone was playing a drum inside.
He woke up around noon and went out for Taco Bell. The whole time he kept running everything through his mind. Nothing made sense. Gretchen wouldn’t kill anyone without good reason. It wasn’t as if he was a sinless judge in that department.
Everything he knew about Gretchen told him that she was telling the truth, but then he couldn’t get over the overwhelming feeling that she was lying.
He didn’t know exactly what to tell Beth so he didn’t say anything yet. All day as he played at his computer he kept looking to Facebook. He wanted to send Gretchen a message or even run over and tell her he was sorry and that he loved her.
But something kept holding him back.
For dinner he went and got some pizza. For some reason Sayako had a piece but he was too pissed off and confused to bother asking about the eating habits of Japanese ghosts.
Around eight at night David grabbed his laptop and sat down next to Sayako and checked his E-mail. Then he got on Facebook and messaged Beth the whole story exactly how he remembered it. He didn’t know what to tell her so he told her the complete truth. A few minutes later his phone rang.
“What the hell’s going on?” Beth asked as soon as he picked up.
“She’s been draining people of life.”
“What did she say?”
“That it was in self defense.”
“It was then. You think Gretch would go around killing people. Are you nuts?”
“I’m not the crazy one.”
“Yeah, you are.”
Then there was a knock at his door and Beth came in without waiting for him to open it.
“You’re an idiot, David,” she said, still talking into the phone.
He hung up.
“She’s killed two people,” he said.
Why didn’t she see? It was obvious. Gretchen was a murderer.
“He under spell,” Sayako said.
“You want to add to that maybe?” Beth asked.
Sayako paused the game which must have taken an enormous effort on her part and turned to them.
“He has spell on him,” Sayako said.
“What kind of spell?” Beth asked.
“Care to be more specific?” David asked.
Sayako then crawled over to him, completely invading his personal space. She began sniffing him like a dog and then staring at him with wide, bloodshot eyes. Her hands were cold and dry and no breath from her touched his face.
“Not spell from Gretchen. Like Gretchen but not,” Sayako said and then put her hands on either side of his head. “Spell in here. Spell playing with you mind. Make confused; think different things.”
Beth came over and sat next to them. She looked into his eyes as well, though not with the wide-eyed insane look that Sayako had.
“Did you meet anyone strange recently?” Beth asked.
“No, just a girl.”
“Saw her before I met Gretchen. She was all bundled up. Didn’t see her face,” he said.
Then as he thought about it he did remember her eyes.
“She had black eyes,” he said.
“Black eyes, covered face, saw her right before accusing Gretch of murder. With all the crazy shit going on around her, I’m willing to bet that this wasn’t coincidence.”
“I can end spell,” Sayako said.
“You’re not a witch.”
“You want me to end spell?”
“Yes,” Beth said.
Sayako then pushed David down onto the bed and crawled over onto him like an aggressive lover. She put her face uncomfortably close to his like she was about to kiss him. Her mouth opened and her eyes went insane-o again and then she began to inhale. Only her intake didn’t stop. She was like a vacuum.
Then thin, barely perceptible wisps of smoke began to come out of his mouth and nose.
“What the hell?” Beth said and scooted away.
Sayako sucked in the smoke and then sat up, straddling him.
“Yes,” Sayako said. “Strong, dark magic. I see magic like this in dream world. Sorcerers of Kadath use magic like this.
What an idiot! Gretchen would never murder anybody. How could he even think that? He’d trusted her with his life.
He had betrayed her. All his promises to her were empty.
David lay there for a while, thinking of how he had ruined everything and hurt the one person he wanted to hurt the least.
Beth sat beside him and rested her head on his shoulder. Sayako went back to playing “Persona 4 Arena.”
They stayed like that for a long time. How much had been this spell and how much had been his own idiocy?
“She’s not answering on Facebook,” Beth said after a long while.
“We should have gotten her a phone.”
Suddenly Sayako jerked her head to the door.
“I smell dark magic now. Coming close,” Sayako said in a whisper.
David pulled out his Beretta Px4 and opened a crack in the Venetian blinds. Coming up the stairs were four men in thick winter clothes that concealed their faces and they were carrying guns. Two had shotguns one had a revolver and one had an old Tommy Gun.
“Beth, you remember how to use this?” He asked and tossed her the Beretta.
“Yeah,” she said.
He then reached down and grabbed the AK-47 from under his bed and flipped on the red dot sight.
He racked the charging handle just as the door exploded from a shotgun blast. Wood splinters flew into the room and were immediately followed by a hulking form in a tattered gray coat. He had a scarf over his face and a wool cap on his head.
The man also had a Colt 1911 in his hand.
David saw and took all of this in, in less than a second. His adrenaline was going and his mind was able to notice small details like that. His mind was also able to draw on years of training.
His AK was already up and the red dot of his sight appeared on the man’s chest. The muzzle flash illuminated the entire room like the strobing of a rave. The bullets smacked into the man’s chest and sent him falling backwards.
The man behind him had the shotgun and he swung it towards David.
“Oh shit,” was the only thing that flashed through his mind as he jumped out of the way. The shotgun blast tore through the air where he had been standing. He landed on the ground and quickly flipped around to bring his gun to bear.
Beth held her pistol like he had taught her and fired. The Beretta cracked three times and the man jerked back, dropping one arm from the shotgun. The man then swung the shotgun towards Beth as the third man burst into the room. He had the revolver and began aiming it at him.
David fired and hit the revolver man in the neck. Blood, black in the darkness of the room, spurted out in great burst and he fell down, black eyes wide open.
He continued firing and his shots adjusted over and hit the shotgun man in the head. The right half of the man’s face exploded in a wet mess.
Before the shotgun man fell down, more bullets tore through him, but these were coming from behind him.
The man with the Tommy Gun was letting loose with his fifty round drum. Bullets exploded everywhere, smashing into the wall behind him. Beth threw herself to the ground and covered her head.
David fired through the dead man who still hadn’t fallen, hoping to get a lucky hit.
Then the man fell and the view to the doorway was clear. It was empty. The wood frame was torn up and splintered and smoke from the gun shots hovered in the air like a fine mist.
He looked over to check on Beth. She gave him a thumbs up. Sayako was nowhere to be seen.
Then the Tommy Gun appeared again and the muzzle flash lit the room up. Fortunately he didn’t know where they were because he was firing at waist level.
As David brought his AK up, the man ducked back behind the door. But he continued to fire. He fired through the apartment walls, chewing the wood up and sending wood splinters and dust flying towards him. He covered his face as debris showered him like hail.
Too many memories of Iraq flew through his mind. He remembered bullets punching through mud brick walls and all he could do was duck and wait for them to reload.
Then the man stopped firing. David dared a look and saw that the man was grasping at his neck. Something like a black rope was tightening around his neck, chocking the life out of him. His black, fishy eyes bulged out and as he dropped to his knees he saw Sayako standing behind him grinning with her yellow teeth. Her hair was strangling the man.
He thought that was just something she could do in the dream world. Seeing as that was the case, she could play his X-box whenever she wanted.
David stood up and helped Beth to her feet. Tears were coming down her cheeks but she remained composed. She wasn’t really crying. Stress did different things to different people.
Beth went over to one of the bodies and kicked it.
“Who are these guys?” She asked.
Sayako walked in, her long hair trailing behind her like a dark bridal veil. He didn’t remember it being that long.
“I think they’re Gretchen’s people,” he said.
“From In Mouth or wherever?”
Then Beth gasped.
“Gretchen,” Beth said in a whisper.
Instantly he knew what had happened. They had taken Gretchen.
“Grab our guns,” he said.
Sayako and Beth did as he ordered and they put all hi guns and ammo into a large dufflebag.
“The cops’ll be here,” Beth said.
Already he could hear sirens in the distance.
“We don’t have time. We have to save Gretch,” he said.
Beth pointed to the direction of the sirens and made about to say something, but she closed her mouth and nodded.
Once everything was packed they headed to the door. He was about to leave but stopped. The man dead Tommy gunner had a bag with two more drums.
A Thompson was a terrible thing to waste. He grabbed the old Tommy and the drums and hurried out the door.
They jumped into his car and he sped out without looking back.
He drove to the interstate and just went east. He had no clue where Innsmouth was or how to get there, he just knew it was by the ocean and the ocean was east.
His hands began shaking as the adrenaline wore off.
“Beth, there’s a map in my glove box,” he said.
She got the map out and began looking.
“I don’t see it,” she said.
“What high school did she go to?”
“Look it up on your phone.”
A few minutes later she said, “Cornwallistown. Take exit 17.”
Then they fell silent and no one talked as the lights of the interstate flashed by. The entire time all he could think about was that Gretchen was in danger. If they had just wanted her out of school they wouldn’t have bothered to try to kill him and Beth. No, that was to cover something up and he only hoped that it wasn’t too late. He knew she was in danger and he had to help her.
His worrying was agony.
“Police?” Sayako asked after a long while.
“Yeah, there’ll be some explaining to do,” he said.
“Call your parents, tell them an alibi,” Beth said.
Mom was a lot harder to convince than dad.
“Just go to the police and tell them everything,” mom said.
He was about to explain for the third time that Gretchen was in trouble and needed help right now, not after a lengthy police investigation, when he saw that he had an incoming call.
“Hello?” He asked.
“David Taliaferro?” The heavy male voice asked.
He knew the sound of a voice that was used to having authority.
“Where are you?”
“My home in Richmond.”
“There’s been an incident at your apartment in Arkham. We need to ask you a few questions.”
“Incident? What kind of incident?”
He continued through the act of pretending to be shocked and horrified. He barraged the detective with questions but the cop refused to answer.
“We need you to come in for questioning.”
“Of course. I can be there tomorrow, hopefully around noon.”
“See that you do.”
He shut off his phone.
At a gas station in Cornwallistown, they got a more detailed local map and found the small speck of “Innsmouth.” When they asked for directions the people just gave him odd looks and refused to answer.
They went through a Wendy’s drive through and continued on searching for the right turn off to Innsmouth.
The road eventually turned out to be a crumbling two lane road with more cracks and pot holes than any other in service road he had ever seen. The dead, cold marshes spread out in every direction. It wasn’t a vacation spot and he knew that in the daylight it wouldn’t have looked improved.
Finally they came to a faded, rotten sign that said “Innsmouth” on the top of a small round hill. He parked and got out. Down below were the few dim lights of the decrepit little town.
“This is it,” he said. “She’s down there somewhere.”
“Let’s go ask if she can come out and play.”
“I’m not going to ask nicely.”
He threw open the back of his car and opened the dufflebag. He put on his tac-vest for his AK and loaded up with magazines. He gave Beth the PS-90 with her own vest and the thigh holster for the Beretta.
“And me?” Sayako asked.
“You know how to use a gun?” He asked.
“Can’t you just use your hair then?”
“I want Tommy Gun,” she said.
He was about to refuse then thought about it. All she had to do was “spray and pray.” It could keep the enemies’ heads down.
He showed her how to use it and gave her the shoulder bag with the extra drum.
And finally he put on his shoulder holster with the broom handled Mauser.
“Hold on Gretch, we’re coming for you,” he said.