Friday, August 12, 2011

Craven House Pt. 1

The story below was written a while back and I decided to share it here. It is a bit of a change from my normal posts but it let's you see a bit of what I like to write. The link at the title takes you to my FB page and the whole story is there in the Notes if you don't want to wait for me to post Part-2.
Until next time.... READ!



Will’s bicycle seemed to float over great black gulfs as the moon disappeared. The land and trees materialized in hues of blue, black at the whim of the fast moving clouds. He focused on the ground a few feet ahead of his front wheel to avoid any obstacles.
            He came to the last descent to Craven House. Chunks of frozen dirt flew through the cold night air as he kicked his back tire around, skidding to a stop. He dropped the bike and placed his backpack on the ground. It was too dark to see much so he dug around inside and checked off the items on his mental list. He paused when he felt the feathers with his fingers. The bird was long dead.
The cap rattled loudly in the dark as he uncapped his thermos. The hot chocolate steamed as he filled the red cap. He took a long drink. The warm sweetness comforted him. He checked his phone to make sure he was on time. Everything had to be performed at the right time and with no mistakes. He closed his eyes, willing himself not to screw this up like he did everything else.
Will sat rigid on his bike and coasted down the steep, overgrown dirt road. The cold night air gripped his face and pulled tears from his eyes.  He repeatedly hit his brakes and swerved to avoid the frozen mud puddles and ruts.  His mind raced with the instructions his Grandpa’s ghost had given him.
A wooden gate materialized out of the darkness.  Will slammed on his brakes and dumped the bike.  He skidded and tumbled.  His legs and arms flailed like an un-stuffed scarecrow caught in a cyclone.
He yelped as the frozen ground peeled the skin from his calf and hip.  His backpack flew through the air, slinging its contents to the four winds.
            Will lay there for a moment, dazed.  He stared at the clouds. The moon appeared and winked at him.  The cold seeped through his too thin denim jacket.  His Grandpa’s voice prodded him to get up.
            Reciting the incantation his Grandpa had taught him over the past few days, he thought to himself that even though Grandpa was dead, he hadn’t stopped teaching him. 
The words rolled through his mind as he searced for his scattered gear.  Luck was with him.  He first found his flashlight and wonder of wonders it still worked.  Using his flashlight he soon had the dirt from Grandpa’s backyard, the blackbird (even though he was instructed to get a crow) and his Grandpa’s old rubber gardening shoe.
            It was not quite a week ago that Will heard his name whispered from the shadows while lying in bed the day after his Grandpa died in a boating accident.  He sat up in bed and near his feet appeared a yellow gossamer mist flowing on the faintest breeze. His Grandpa materialized from the mist. Seaweed draped his shoulders and his skin looked like pale purple rubber dropping from his bones.
His Grandpa whispered, “Willie, I’m so cold and lonely and it’s always dark on this side. They’ll never find me down here.”
“Gra-Grandpa, is that really you?” Will asked.
“A’course it’s me buddy.  I need you to help me come back home,” Grandpa said, “I died before my time. That’s why I’m stuck in this empty blackness. I still have so much to teach you about fishing and stuff like that.” 
“How can I help you come back. You’re dead,” Will said, “I mean I’d do anything to just go fishing with you again, even just once more. But dead people can’t come back to life.”
“If a person dies before their time then you can do some stuff to help them out. If you do it just right, then you can bring somebody back.”
“I don’t know, Grandpa,” Will was crying, “I want you back but what if this is just a dream? I’ll just wake up and be even sadder.”
Grandpa gave one of his chuckles. Will smiled and swiped his tears away.
“If it’s a dream then you’ll know when the spell doesn’t work,” Grandpa said, “But I need you to believe so that it will have a better chance of working. Can you do that for me?”
“I can. Will we go fishing the first day you’re back?”
“We just might. You ready to listen to me?”
“Yes sir.”
Grandpa gave Will instructions on how to help him come back home. Part of Will was scared but having Grandpa back would make everything better. Everybody would be happy again.  
The next morning it all seemed dreamlike but he had the instructions and knew it was real and he had to help his Grandpa.  Still he was feeling cautious and decided to talk to their priest, Father Milton. 
Father Milton said, “Will, don’t you know that speaking to the dead is nonsense?  Besides that, you could burn in Hell for fooling with magic, even if it’s just pretend.”
“But Father, I just miss my Grandpa so much.  I didn’t even get to tell him goodbye or nothing,” Will said.
          The priest looked at him with sympathy, “Will, the Good Lord says not to commune with the dead.  Let’s go light a candle for your granddad and we’ll say a special prayer for him.”
Will had been told about the “Good Lord” his whole life.  But nobody ever took the time to explain why the “Good Lord” would take a little boy’s Grandpa away.  When he asked, he was told, “God works in mysterious ways.”
If that was the case, then Will thought that everybody should say, “The Mysterious Lord” instead of “The Good Lord”.
            His conversation with Father Milton bothered him.  On one hand, he wanted to what was right and good. On the other hand, he missed his Grandpa and thought God would want him to help. Will prayed and prayed for guidance just like Father Milton told him all great men do. God never answered.
The next day the wind rattled the windows and the gray day waned toward darkness when school was finally dismissed.  Will approached Mr. Johnson’s desk and shuffled around until all the other children were gone.
Mr. Johnson looked at Will from under his shaggy, brown eyebrows, “Is there something you need, Will?”
“Yes, sir.  I have a question I need an honest answer to,” Will said while scuffing his feet together.
Mr. Johnson grinned to himself and leaned back in his wooden chair, “Then it’s an honest answer I’ll give you. So let’s have it,” Mr. Johnson said, “The question, that is.”
Will looked up and asked, “Is there such a thing as magic?”
Without hesitation Mr. Johnson answered, “Yes! Of course there’s such a thing.  Happens every day!”
Will’s eyes widened in disbelief, “So it’s not just make-believe in stories and stuff,” Will asked.
“Will, you asked for an honest answer and that’s what I’m giving you.  If you know where to look and if you have a little faith you could see something magical all the time. Every day even,” Mr. Johnson said, “Now it’s late and we both need to get home before this storm hits. Heard it might even be snow.”
All that night, Will considered both points of view.  If magic existed and it happened everyday then maybe there was something to what Grandpa told him.  And if it was a sin he could always go to Confession later.
As he drifted to sleep he was determined to try. One way he gets his Grandpa and the other way he gets nothing. No matter what happened he would be better off with his Grandpa or if things went bad, having a day of Confession would help him.
Will’s Grandpa woke him up in the middle of the night again.  This time he brought a cold steamy draft with him and hovered at the side of the bed.  Will sat up, his troubled sleep slipped away in the span of two breaths.
            “Willy, why haven’t you come to get me?”
            “Grandpa!  Father Milton said it was a sin.  I was going to but I got scared."
            “Well, Willy, if you’re too afraid then I will just have to say goodbye now and tell you that I love you. I – ”
            “No, Grandpa!” Will said, “I talked to my teacher, Mr. Johnsons, and he said magic is real so I’m coming tomorrow after I get all the stuff you told me to.”
            “Good boy!  Now don’t you forget that you have to go to the second story of the Craven House and do it by the closet door just like I said. Don't stick a silly note on the house either,”  Grandpa faded.
            “I love you.” Will whispered to the phantom shadow.
            Will fell into a deep sleep and dreamed.  It was his Grandpa’s voice telling him how to open a door in the void so he could come back.  It was the same instructions he had relayed during the first visit.  The next morning Will remembered the words to say and the pictures to draw on the ground with the crow’s beak.
            He rushed around all the next day collecting components for the spell.  He got dirt from his Grandpa’s yard and an old gardening shoe from the pair his Grandpa favored above all others. He tucked one of Grandpa’s gray and green gardening gloves into the boot for good measure.  But the crow he couldn’t get.  He finally settled on a blackbird that he shot with his pellet gun.

            Will snapped back to the present and found himself standing in front of the two-story farmhouse.

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