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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Short Story Saturday ~ Featuring "Katie's Lady" by Tom Mohan

I am just tickled and honored to feature this spine-tingling tale from one of my favorite writers, Mr. Tom Mohan! Enjoy!



Katie's Lady
By Tom Mohan

“Mr. Stevens? Can you hear me, Mr. Stevens?”

That was a voice, a real voice. So I am alive, then. I was starting to wonder. And the voice was talking to me; at least I think it was. My mind was still fuzzy and the darkness behind my eyelids was blacker than pitch, but I was pretty certain that I was ‘Mr. Stevens’. I wanted to answer, tried to I think, but I couldn’t get my mouth muscles to work right. Or my eye muscles, for that matter. It was like they were glued shut. I couldn’t even roll them; nothing would move, not even twitch.

“Mr. Stevens?” the female voice said again. “Mr. Stevens, if you hear me, can you close your eyes?”

What? My eyes were closed, weren’t they? They had to be closed. Everything was dark, so dark, and my mind had cleared enough to be certain that I was “Mr. Stevens”; Carl Stevens, to be exact. If my eyes were open, that would mean that I was…blind? No, that can’t be, I can’t be blind.

“Doctor, his brain waves have normalized again,” the woman’s voice said.

Another voice hovered over me, male this time. “Yes, he seems to be back with us, or at least reacting to your voice. How long this time, I wonder?”

“Doctor, why won’t he just die?” said the woman’s voice.

“Brenda, what a horrible thing to say.”

“Oh, don’t tell me you haven’t thought the same thing. It’s so grotesque, horrible.”

“Bizarre, yes Brenda, but fascinating as well. Strangest case I’ve ever seen.”

What the hell were they talking about? What does he mean ‘this time’? Why would she want me to die? What in god’s name was going on here? I struggled again to move. My heart strained with the effort, but nothing else seemed to work. Was I paralyzed as well as blind? What happened? Where was I? How did I get like this? As if in answer to my silently screamed questions, ghostly shadows began to drift across the darkness that was my vision. They twisted and danced before me, gradually growing more firm, more real. Finally, they locked together into one form, a man’s body, which grew clearer each second.

Wait, I though, I know that guy.

“Max? Hey man, what’s goin’ on?” I jumped as I heard the sound of my own voice, felt my mouth move with the words. I could talk, move. I…

“Shut up, Carl,” Max hissed, giving me a look that said I was the stupidest person on Earth. I looked around. It was still dark, not like before, but sort of dark. Max and I were squatting beneath the window of a small house, a dim light shining through. As I watched Max slowly raise his face to the window the memory of everything before this moment began to fade. We were here for the money. Yeah, that was it. This chick’s old man owed Max some money and we were here to collect. I waited silently until Max lowered himself back down.

“Frankie’s ex and the brat are in there,” Max said in my ear. “Just like we planned now, got it?” He gave me a hard look that told me I’d better have it. Max was not a man you wanted to have mad at you. Oh no, that was never good. I nodded my head that I was ready, and I was too. I hated to do this to Frankie, but it was much more important not to cross Max, and just the fact that the big guy trusted me to come along made me feel important. As Max slipped out of the bush and around the corner of the house I followed close, keeping in the shadows. He took a quick look around the rundown neighborhood before hopping up onto the front porch. I looked around myself, wondering if any of the neighbors would even care if they knew what was going on. It wasn’t what one would call a ‘family friendly’ area to live, that was for sure.

Max pulled open the flimsy screen door which made a noise that sounded like a cat that got its tail stuck in a fan belt. We froze under the dim porch light, listening for any response from inside the house, but all was quiet. Suddenly, Max lifted his big boot and kicked the door. It flew open and crashed against the wall before falling completely off its hinges. I heard screams inside as I followed Max through the broken door. I could hear my own breathing as well. This was not usually my kind of thing, and I had to admit I was nervous as all get out, but I knew that as long as I was with Max everything would be cool. I saw Max pull out a gun and hold it in front of him as we stormed into the house. I didn’t have a gun, but I did have a mean blade and I popped it open, ready to show Max that I had his back.

The screams continued and Max crashed over a ratty old recliner as we followed the sounds to the tiny dining area. At first, all I could see was Max’s wide back as it filled the doorway. Then, as he crossed into the room I saw a woman cowering in the corner behind the table. She was holding a little girl against her and they were both screaming their lungs out.

SHUT UP,” Max roared as he waved the gun in the woman’s face. I watched as she squeezed her eyes shut and ducked her head down over the girl like she thought Max was going to hit her and, for all I know, maybe he would. I have to admit, her reaction kind of excited me. No one ever cowered before me like that and, even though it was Max who was threatening her, she was scared of me too. I watched as Max grabbed Frankie’s woman by the hair and pulled her to her feet. She screamed as she was lifted, but kept a hold of the little girl. Max nearly knocked me over as he pulled the two back into the small living room. He was none to gentle as he tossed them onto the ratty, old couch.

“Please,” the woman pleaded. “What do you want? I don’t have anything?” She continued to hold the little girl close. The girl was scared, that was obvious, and she mostly kept her face buried in her mom’s chest, but every now and again she would peek out with her big brown eyes and look at us. The girl was a cute little thing, I had to admit. Her hair was a dirty blonde mess of curls that needed brushing, but suited her like they were. She was small, but I never was any good at guessing how old kids were; they all seemed the same to me, though I would guess four, maybe five years old.

Max moved the barrel of the gun across the woman’s face gently, for him anyway. She tried to turn away, but there was nowhere to go. “You’re kind of pretty,” Max said to her. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing with a lowlife like Frank Lipke?”

The woman seemed to straighten up some at the mention of Frankie. “I should have known this had to do with him,” she said. “I ain’t seen Frankie in weeks. He split town and I don’t know where he is.”

Max smiled, showing a few gaps where teeth use to be. “Oh, I believe that you don’t know where he is, but I happen to know for a fact that he’s still in town.” He moved the gun to the head of the kid. “And you have exactly what I need to flush him out.”

Frankie’s woman’s eyes got real big at that. “No,” she said, “don’t you touch her. Leave Katie out of this.” She hugged the girl so tight that I thought she would crush her.

Max continued to smile. “Katie, huh? Why that’s a real pretty name. I think Katie and me are gonna get to be real good friends, aint that right, Carl?”

“Uh, yeah, sure Max,” I said.

“No, don’t,” Frankie’s woman said. “Please, leave us alone. We can’t help you with Frankie, really.”

Max uses a big, dirty finger to move some hair out of the woman’s face. I thought again how pretty she was as she tried to push through the wall behind her to get away from Max. Too bad for her the wall wasn’t being too cooperative.

“Now, here’s what we’re gonna do,” Max said. “This little cutie is coming with us…”

The woman said, “No,” but it was a lot quieter than before, probably due to the gun sticking in her ear.

Max gave her an annoyed look, then went on. “Like I was saying, little Katie is coming with us. And you are going to get word out to Frankie that if I don’t get my money…well, I don’t think I have to tell you what happens to your daughter now, do I?”

Just then, I heard a door close upstairs. Max jumped up from his crouching position in front of the woman and kid and swung the gun toward the sound. “Who’s there? Who else is in this house?” Frankie’s woman looked around, eyes wide.

“N…no one. No one’s here, just us.”

Max grabbed her by the hair again and jerked her to her feet. “You better not be lyin’ to me…” He stopped his threats and cocked his head toward the hall. “What’s that?” he said quietly. I listened, too. Footsteps…upstairs. Another door opened, and then slammed. Max turned his attention back to Frankie’s woman, but I saw that she looked just as surprised as us, like she really didn’t know who was up there.

Just then the little girl, Katie, leaned over and whispered in her mom’s ear. “Not now, honey. Hush,” her momma said.

“What?” Max asked, keeping the gun trained on the woman while staring at the ceiling. “What’s she sayin’?”

“Nothing,” she said. “It’s nothing.”

Max got right in her face. I could see his breath blowing her hair. “What did the brat say?”

Katie’s mom almost screeched, “Her lady…she said it’s her lady upstairs.”

“Her lady? Who’s that, babysitter or something?”

The woman tried to shake her head, but Max still had a good hold on her hair. “No one, just her imaginary friend. Her lady isn’t real, just imaginary.”

I could tell that Max was none too happy with that answer. “That ain’t no imaginary friend walkin’ around upstairs. I’ll ask one more time, and then I start breakin’ bones. Who else is in this house?”

Before the woman could answer, the footsteps started down the stairs. I could hear them clear as day, and Max could too. I took a quick look at the little girl and her mom. The woman looked as scared as ever, but Katie had a smile on her face. I wasn’t sure what that was all about, but I knew that I was having a really bad feeling about this whole thing. Max motioned for me to move over by the hallway. I didn’t want too, not at all, but I knew better than to cross Max. As I slipped over against the wall, I took a quick look down the short hallway to the stairs at the end. It was dark back there and I could just make out the first couple stairs. I pressed up against the wall with only my face sticking out so I could see the where whatever it was would have to come out.

As the steps grew closer, Max pulled the woman and kid closer, holding them in front of him. “Whoever is on those stairs better show yourself. You’ve got about five seconds before I start hurtin’ these girls.” He kept the gun tight against the Frankie’s woman’s head. Her eyes were squeezed shut, but the kid still had that almost happy look on her little face, like she was expectin’ someone special. I looked back down the hall as the steps came lower. I knew they should be reaching the bottom any time now, but I still couldn’t see anyone.

Suddenly the door at the bottom of the stairs slammed shut, but I swear there hadn’t been anyone there. I’d have seen them; there’s no way I wouldn’t have. My heart was pounding and I felt sweat start dripping down my face. Max and he looked worried too; not scared, but definitely worried. Max liked being in control of things and I could tell he was not happy about the way things were going here. He waved to me. “Get over there and open the door. See who’s there.”

I looked at him like, ‘Who, me?’, but knew I needed to be much more worried about Max than about whoever was behind the door – least I hoped so. I slipped out from behind the wall and quietly made my way down the hall. My hand was sweaty on the handle of my blade as I squeezed it like my life depended on it. And who knows? It just might. It only took me a few steps to reach the end of the hall and the door. My breath seemed very loud as I reached out for the knob. A floorboard creaked and I jumped again, not sure if it came from this side of the door or the other.

Just as I was about to grab the knob, the door flew open. It hit me square in the face and I heard myself scream as I was knocked back against the wall then bounced to the floor. My head hurt like crazy and I was seeing stars, but I still managed to roll over and get my blade up in front of me. I heard the woman screaming from the living room and waved my knife in front of me to keep back whoever was there as I blinked my eyes to clear my vision. I could feel something warm and wet drip down my chin and figured my nose was busted. I was scooting backward on the floor, kicking with my feet and trying to put distance between myself and the person on the stairs when my vision cleared enough that I could see that no one was coming after me; the hall and bottom of the stairs were empty.

I crab-walked my way back to the living room, not caring what Max thought any more. I just knew that I was getting away from those stairs. The little girl laughed and clapped her hands. “Mommy, my lady made the man fall down,” she said.

Her momma pulled the girl’s head against her shoulder and whispered, “Hush, Katie. Please, not now,” but little Katie just pulled her head free and pointed at the hall, her smile slowly fading.

“Mommy, my lady isn’t very happy.”

I had no idea what was going on, but I knew I wasn’t liking it. No, I wasn’t liking this at all. I climbed to my feet, my blade in one hand and my busted nose in the other. Max still had the gun pointed at the woman and kid, but he was looking down the hall, his eyes kind of big and breathing real slow, like he was waiting for something.

Suddenly, Max’s right hand, the one holding the gun, jerked hard. “What the…” he yelled as he stumbled back.

“Max, what’s goin on?” I said, my voice shakier than I wanted to admit.

“Someone hit me,” he said. “Someone just hit my hand, almost knocked the gun out.”

“There ain’t no one there, Max. No one at all.”

“Think I don’t know that, idiot,” he shot back. “I don’t know how they are doing this, but it’s gonna take a lot more than tricks to scare me.” Across the room a chair slammed against the wall all by itself, knocking a hole in the drywall.

“Come on, Max. Let’s get out of here,” I said. “This is crazy. Real crazy.”

Suddenly, the lights flickered, and then went out. The only light was from a street light outside. I spun around, looking for anything that might be coming at me. The room was getting cold, really cold. That’s it, I though. I’ve have it. I’m outta here. Max had busted the front door, so I stumbled through the dark toward it, wanting nothing more than to get out of this crazy-house. I was just about there when the broken door jumped off the floor and slammed into place. “No,” I yelled just before a gunshot cracked and I felt a bullet whiz past my face. I yelled again as I dropped to the floor and covered my head. Dear God, I felt that bullet. He almost killed me. “Stop shootin, Max. It’s me, you almost shot me!”

Frankie’s woman was screaming again and I pulled my arms away from my face enough to see Max’s and her shadows a few feet away. I was guessing the woman was still holding the kid. Then I saw something else, another shadow darker than the others, kinda like the light from outside didn’t touch it. It moved toward us and I guess Max must have seen it too because he started shooting again.

“Keep away or I’ll kill you,” Max was yelling, but it didn’t seem to do much good. The shadow was still moving, kind of darting around, not like a person would move. I was so scared I couldn’t move, but Max kept yelling and shooting until I heard the gun click that he was out of ammo. Max wasn’t done yet, though. I heard the click of his blade opening as he pulled Katie and her mom back against him like a shield.

“Enough of this,” he shouted. “I’ve had it. I’m gonna slit this chick’s throat, then the brat after her, you hear.” All I could hear was all of us breathing as the room got real quiet. All of us seemed to be waiting to see what happened next. We didn’t have to wait long. I flinched as the lights suddenly came back on. I saw Max with his blade so tight against Frankie’s woman’s neck that blood was dripping from beneath it. The girl, Katie, was so white that I thought she was gonna pass out or something.

Max kept a tight hold on the girls as he twisted back and forth, looking for whoever was here, but there wasn’t anyone. Sweat was dripping down his face and I knew that he really was scared now. He moved the blade from the woman’s neck to the kid’s. “Anymore weird crap and this kid’s gonna bleed, hear me.”

As soon as Max mentioned the girl, the stairway door slammed shut again and we could hear loud steps running up the stairs. “What the hell is going on now?” Max said, his voice growing louder with each word.

I pulled myself to my feet and slowly moved over to the others. I knew that Max was just about to lose it, maybe explode on all of us, but it was little Katie that really caught my attention. Katie was nearly in tears, eyes so big they looked like they might come right out of her little head.

“Katie, it’s ok sweetie,” her momma said, trying to calm her down.

Katie just kept staring at the door to the stairs, her little head shaking and her lower lip quivering. “My…my lady,” she barely managed to say as she pointed at the door.

I was scared, too. Heck, who wouldn’t be? But I kept my eye on the little girl. “What about your lady, honey. What is it?” asked her mom.

Katie’s lip continued to quiver. “My lady…she…she,” then, just a whisper, “she went to get my man.”

Her quiet words, mixed with the look on her face made me skin break out in goose bumps, like thousands of little spiders were crawling all over me. I didn’t know why, but that look on little Katie’s face was worse than anything that had happened so far. My eyes finally left her and darted around the room. There were shadows everywhere; hiding things I didn’t want to see. All was quiet, really quiet… just before everything exploded.

My arms wrapped themselves around my head like a helmet without me even thinking about it as a roar louder than anything I ever heard crashed through the house. Windows shattered around us as the sound struck like a living thing. The very foundation of the house seemed to rise up under me. Then the whole place started shaking as something monstrous stomped across the floor upstairs and down the stairs. Whatever it was, it was too big to fit the stairs ‘cause it sounded like it was tearing the walls apart as it came down.

I didn’t want to look at the door at the bottom of the stairs, really I didn’t, but I couldn’t help myself. I was looking right at it when it exploded into splinters; looking right at it…

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God”

“That’s it, Doctor, the bad part.” The nurse kept her eyes on Carl Steven’s thrashing body, careful not to look at his face. She did everything she could to avoid looking at his face. Though it was impossible not to have to look at it once in awhile, she made especially sure not to look at it during this part of the…whatever it was. The doctor stepped up beside her.

“I still can’t get over this brain activity,” he said. “It’s just incredible. Indescribable pleasure or sheer terror, though judging by the look on his face, I’d have to go with terror.”

“Ghastly,” the nurse said.

“Quite,” said the doctor. He looked down at Carl Stevens as the man thrashed about on the bed, leather straps being the only reason he did not flop onto the floor. The doctor had never seen anything even remotely like this. Carl’s face was, as Nurse Ames had pointed out, quite ghastly. Eyes wide open, bulging and bloodshot. Mouth contorted in a rictus of a silent scream that could not seem to escape, and face so misshapen that the doctor felt the muscles must be tearing themselves apart. The face was horrible, yet curious. No matter how much the body thrashed, it remained the same, never changing.

“I don’t know which of them is better off,” said the doctor. “This one, or his friend.”

Brenda shuddered. “They say there wasn’t enough left of his friend to identify.”

“Exactly,” said the doctor. “He may be the lucky one.”

“The woman and child still don’t remember anything?”

The doctor shrugged. “That’s the last I heard. Not a mark on them, though. Strangest case I’ve ever seen.”

Carl Stevens was not aware of this discussion. Ghostly figures suddenly seemed to float though the darkness that was his vision. Though he still could not roll his eyes to follow them, it didn’t seem to matter. They twisted and danced before him, gradually growing more firm, more real. Then they seemed to lock together into one body, a man’s body, which grew clearer each second.

Wait, he thought, I know that guy…

The End

© Tom Mohan 2011

Tom Mohan loves stories - he always has, always will.  Most of his stories have a Christian theme to them, though not all.  He believes that the battle between good and evil is very real and happening all around us at this very moment.  How this looks is open to interpretation, which is why there can be so many different stories digging into this complicated subject.

Be sure to visit this amazingly talented writer's site to read more of his stories.
Tom Mohan's One Step Beyond Reality

1 comment :

Linnette R Mullin said...

Wow! Tom, is this the beginning of a novel?

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