The Parker Brothers: Nos Galan Gaeaf (Part III of IV)
Dale Parker struggled up out of the mud of Goose Creek and looked around, but his brother was nowhere to be seen. He checked his cell phone, but there was no signal and his battery was all but bled out. He felt about the same. His body ached from head to toe and now with Allen missing, he was entering full on panic mode.
“Allen!”, he called out, but there was no response, then, he thought he heard voices, back south the way they’d come, and the elder Parker trudged off toward them. By the time he’d reached the old eroded roadway, the voices were gone, and he caught the flash of headlights turning away and heading out of the small parking area at the top of the hill.
The sound of loose gravel, something moving on the other side of the crumbling road sent him diving for cover. From behind a copse of dying trees, Dale watched a young girl, not much older than him, clamor up the steep berm and onto the pavement. She was jotting something down in a journal, a penlight held in her mouth. Then she walked up the road and bent to examine something.
It was all painfully puzzling and he was just about to approach the girl when she rose suddenly, startled by something he hadn’t perceived. He saw her looking all about, her penlight doing little to cut the darkness. She drew something from her pocket and held it out like some form of sacred talisman… and then she was running.
She bolted right past him, heading into the forest, frantically looking behind her like the devil himself was after her. Dale looked behind, but saw and sensed nothing, but he took to flight as well, chasing after the mystery girl. He slipped and stumbled forward across the wet, fallen leaves that carpeted the wood. He was closing in on the runner when she dipped inside the mouth of a cave he’d never noticed before.
Slowing his pace, he looked around before entering, assuring himself he was alone.
“Hey, are you alright?” he called out. “My name’s Dale. I’m not going to hurt you. I want to help.”
He crouched down and slowly entered the cave, the whiff of mace in the air. It stung his eyes and he blinked several times as he approached the girl huddled against the back wall.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“This isn’t happening,” she replied. She looked up, tears in her eyes. “Not yet anyway.”
“I’m not here,” she said, reaching out her hand and taking his. “Not yet anyway. And you’re older then, but you won’t be there to save me, because I didn’t ask you to.”
“You’re not making any sense,” Dale said.
“Of course I’m not. I’m not really here.” She sat up and kissed his cheek. “Not yet.” Getting to her feet she walked off down the narrow tunnel. “You don’t save me now, but you will help me later, I think, when the occult detective is ready and Sarah comes of age.”
“Look, I’m not following any of this…”
“Of course you aren’t,” she said as she turned the corner and disappeared into the cavern. “Look after my cousin, Dale Parker, and when the time comes, find me and my little hellspawn.”
“What?” Dale stood up and started after her. “Who the heck are you?”
“Tracy,” she replied, “Tracy Larson.” Her voice sounded distant. “Don’t worry about that now. It’s time to wake up and end this while you still can.”
And then Dale was falling, spinning and flailing about. Darkness came upon him and then he rose with a start.
He was sitting in the mud, his brother groaning beside him… and atop Lovecraft Hill, staring down at them, was the red glowing eyes of the witch’s black sow.
to be continued