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This summer was going to be a drag, or so I thought. I’m Billy and this was the summer that I wasn’t going to forget.
Being 17 and having to stay at your grandparents’ farm for two months did not mix well. I have long hair for a boy, hockey hair, as my parents call it. I chill and listen to my music and give myself calming alone time with just me and my music when I can, but my grandparents don’t seem to understand me and my teenager’s way of life. Their view of fun for me to pursue is either work on the farm or help grandma can fruit, vegetables, and jams and do other jobs that don’t really require other physical labor.
So here I was; stuck for two months, for half of a lifetime with no friend, no girl, no fun, no life. And I had just got here.
Grandma came flooding with kisses and homemade cookies. Grandpa almost had to tear her off of me. I wasn’t even out of my blue Subaru Outback’s driver’s seat yet.
I eventually got my bags and settled into my temporary summer bed covered with homemade quilts and some pillows. Grandpa came in with a semi-toothless grin and spoke, “You’re going to have a great time here. Supper will be ready in 10 minutes. You settle in and we’ll call you when it’s ready.”
I replied before he turned to return to the kitchen, “What are we having?”
“A feast,” he started, “fit for a growing boy such as yourself. Home cooked breaded, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and steamed veggies, all were freshly grown here.”
“Okay,” I replied. I waited for him to leave to utter, “Okay, jeez, I know you’re are farmers and grow everything you eat, you don’t need to remind me that everything is fresh!”
I put the rest of my things in and on the dresser and got my mp3 player’s charger out and plugged it in the wall. I grabbed my green hat and put it on and let some of my hair flip out from beneath the bottom edges. I also got my mp3 player and put a but in my ear and began to play my 80s metal setlist.
I walked out to the kitchen dining room area, where you can see the living living room and the old-fashioned 80s television that grandpa bought and can’t seem to part with it.
Grandma had begun to put the food on the table. I sat down at the end where I could see the tv. Grandpa had the Kansas City Chiefs’ football game on, it was a rerun game from 1991 against the Miami Dolphins.
Of course, when I was in the middle of getting into the game, grandpa shut it off and sat himself next to me. Grandma brought out the lumpy mashed potatoes and sat herself to the left of me. She looked me over and smiled, “Billy, could you take your hat off at the table?”
I looked at her, smiled, and did as told. I also took my earbuds out and shut off my mp3 player off just out of respect. Grandma said a short grace and she began to dish up my plate, “Grandma,” I started, “I’m 17. I can fix my own plate.”
Grandma looked at me then looked at grandpa, “He’s got a point.”
“Sorry dear.” She said and handed me the plate she started that was already filled with chicken and potatoes. I put another spoonful of potatoes on my plate and took a half of a cob. I thanked my grandparents and ate. We talked about highschool and my girlfriend, which was kind of embarrassing because grandma kept weeping, “My baby’s leaving me for another woman!” I assured her I’d still be her baby, but in my mind I’m rolling my eyes. Grandpa asked about my job and my plans after high school. Grandma asked about my music; band, drumline, and my garageband, Inner Vengeance. Grandpa added about sport, which I do basketball in the fall. They kept doing this until the food got ice cold.
Grandma put the leftovers in the refrigerator and told me, “If you get hungry in the middle of the night feel free to eat up leftovers.”
“Thanks grandma!” I said cheerfully. “Do you guys have cards or something? Wanna play rummy?”
Grandma answered, “ I’m beat. I’m going to bed, it’s getting late, but grandpa will play.”
Grandpa got a cheap deck of cards with a picture of a faded sunflower against a blue sky. We played a couple rounds and talked some while sipping sodas. I won a game, then about halfway to 500 on the second game I looked at the clock. It was 11:30 at night and I was tired from driving earlier that day. The summer still felt like a bore but at the time I didn’t know but this was going to be a summer of discovery.
My grandparents let me sleep in that morning, having sympathy for my four hour drive yesterday.
I woke up to the heart-warming smell of peach pie. I got out of my boxers and put on a teal tank top and cargo shorts. I put my mp3 player on the charger and went to the living room.
Grandma handed me a plate with a steaming piece of warm peach pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. “Enjoy hun.” She said sweetly. I shoved it down and turned the TV to ESPN to see if the Utah Jazz were playing. You see, coming from North Dakota, you have a choice of what team you root for because North Dakota doesn’t have any professional sports teams.
Grandma walked into the room and put her feet up in her red plaid recliner. She rested her eyes for a moment then opened them again and looked at me. She asked, “Well hun, do you want to help me pick stuff out of the garden and make some apple butter?”
“We’re not going apple picking are we? I want to do that myself. That’s my favorite.” That was my favorite. I had time to myself. That was where I had my manly thinking time.
She said, “If you want, you can pick all the apples and oranges you want. I have some picked that we can use and all we need to do is pick the ripe strawberries, cucumbers, and some carrots. And you decide what you want for lunch. I got a beef roast or pork chops. If you see something you want in the garden for supper, you tell me and we’ll pick some, okay?” I nodded in agreement and we went and picked a variety of goods from the garden. Grandpa went to serve breakfast at the American Legion.
Grandma was picking strawberries as I was picking carrots in a row behind her. We were kind of chatting when she began, “Billy,” she paused and turned around to look at me, “I’m sorry if it feels like we have been neglecting you in the past two years on your birthday,”
‘Okay, this is random,’ I thought to myself.
She continued, “But me and grandpa got you something to make being out here more fun.”
I looked at her and in a puzzled tone said, “My birthday is in November.”
“I know dear, but we think you should enjoy it out here. I know you get bored out here. You’re a 17-year-old boy. I had to raise Jack, you father, and your uncles John and Jeff. I know how boys work. Anyway, I want gramps to be here before I hand it to you.”
“Okay grandma, and thanks in advance.”
“You’re welcome hun.”
We continued picking. Grandpa came home and we came inside with loads of fresh food and began warming apples for apple butter.
After lunch we loaded jars with the apple butter and put some in the fridge. Grandma let me know that I would not be leaving without food.
At about three, grandpa and grandma gave it to me. There was a box at first. It contained a new black hat with white skull and crossbones, but that wasn’t all. Inside the hat was a neon yellow lanyard with a key. It wasn’t a key to a car though, that I knew for sure. I looked at them with a happy but confused look. Grandma looked at grandpa and nudged him, signaling him to show me what was in store, and no it’s not the thing that was going to make my summer, but it was going to help me discover it.
Grandpa led me to his barn where he had Nina and Tony, his two horses, and Bobbie Sue, his cow he named after the famous Oak Ridge Boys song. Something was different though. Something new was in the shadows in the back of the barn. It was a new Honda four-wheeler! I hugged grandpa as he spoke, “There’s more. Hop on, I’ll ride with you.” I got on and put the key in the ignition. The feel of the motor was good and smooth. It purred like a kitty cat. Grandpa sat behind me and told me to drive about two miles to the field.
I went through an aisle of trees and out to a gravel road. I yelled over the motor, “Where now?”
He looked around and pointed, “Up ahead. Do you see the opening in the field up ahead?”
“Yep!” I replied. I slowed and drove down the ditch. I killed the motor and looked into the opening of the field.
Grandpa patted my back and said, “I made a track. If me and grandma don’t need you and allow you to go run. You can come here and drive the track.”
“Thanks grandpa.” I turned and gave him an awkward hug.
“Okay Billy, you can come out later. It’s getting late and it’s near supper time.”
“Alright.” And with that I got back on the road and got back to the house. I parked the four-wheeler next to the barn and took the key.
We got inside, ate, and went to bed, not knowing the following events would be life changing.
I woke up and ate breakfast. I asked if I could go to the field if i take some large tubs and pick oranges and apples. The grandparents liked the idea and I left.
I picked for about an hour and drove to my new track. My track was long. It started straight then it started turning. The track turned out to be pretty cool. After about two hours I decided to go off on my own for a little bit. It was a little rough but then i hit a very noticeable bump. I turned around and got off the four-wheeler to observe what I had just hit. It was a handle. I pulled but there was a lot of dirt and dust on top.
As i was finishing dusting off the dirt and insects, I realized the handle was connected to a large, heavy iron door. I lifted with all my might. The door wouldn’t budge. I then noticed the hinges were corroded with rust. I lifted my leg and kicked the right hinge as hard as I could. It flew off into the taller weeds of the field and I proceeded to do the same with the other.
I lifted the door and pushed it out of my way and peered at what laid underneath. Underneath the iron door laid a circular hole with ladder prongs going down. I knew I couldn’t do it without a flashlight. I remembered grandpa telling me there was an emergency kit under the seat of the four-wheeler. I searched for the flashlight and pulled out a miniature, blue, metal, hand-held flashlight and turned it on.
I got back to the hole and put the flashlight in my mouth so I could climb down with both hands. It seemed pretty far down. About five steps down the flashlight fell out of my mouth. I watched as the light spun as it plummeted to the ground. The light hit the ground flickering then eventually returning to a straight beam of light. I had another 20 feet to go.
At the bottom, I picked up the flashlight and looked around. All I could tell was that I was in a big room. I walked cautiously to one wall and to my amazement, it was nothing I expected.
The wall was covered in guns and gas masks. On another wall was almost like an upside-down family tree. I was on the bottom with my cousins Lillie, Amanda, James, and Michael. Wait. I was on this wall. What is this place I found? The pictures continued with my dad, Jack, and my uncles, Jeff and John and all their wives and mom. Then was grandma and grandpa, then their parents. It ended with my great great grandparents. I turned to the third wall which had nothing but the ladder and a clock, which I noticed it was nearly 4:00, and I was supposed to be back by 4:30. I turned to take a quick look at the last wall and so a steel elevator like the ones you see in warehouses or mine shafts. I decided it was time to leave before I get in trouble. I got back to the four-wheeler and put the flashlight back. I turned the four-wheeler back on and drove back to the trees and picked more fruit. I got back to the house and brought the fruit buckets in.
I relaxed with my grandparents and told them about the track and my day but i kept my little discovery to myself. Grandma said I could go back tomorrow if I picked the cherries off the cherry tree before I go. We ate and I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep.
I woke up at 6:30 the next morning. I was also up before grandpa and grandma, so I went outside and picked all the cherries I could and brought them inside. I left a note saying I’d be back by noon from four-wheeling.
I got the keys and sped off to the field, around the track, and to the gate. I took the key out of the ignition and stuck it in my pocket. I took the flashlight out and proceeded down the hole. I got in front of the elevator and pulled the steel door open. I clicked a light switch that turned a lone bulb above me on and another in a space down in the elevator shaft.
I got to the bottom where the second light was emanating from. The room that laid before me had an red-orange tint to it, but I could see the whole room that was no more than five feet by five feet. All that was in the room was a safe. I walked up to it and on top was a piece of dusty paper that read the safe’s combination: 11-8-94. Things were getting scarier by the minute for the combination written on the paper was my birthday.
Shaky, I opened the safe. Inside were cobwebs and dust, and underneath all that was an envelope. Written on the front of the envelope was a name. Mine. With almost fearful tear, I took the envelope and blew it the dust off. I tore the envelope open and read the letter in growing terror.
You shouldn’t be in here. If you are reading this, it is already too late.
I started to shake and almost cry as the letter was almost speaking to me. I heard a slam. The iron door. I wanted to shrink up, hide, and cry. I continued to read frantically.
You don’t have long. There is a living soul among you. The iron door will slam, Check, i thought to myself, and you will hear the elevator move. You must shut the safe and hide underneath it. Push the safe, go into the hole, and pull the safe over your head. I heard the elevator shoot up the shaft. You will be safe... For now...
My pulse raced so fast I thought I was having a heart attack. I did as instructed though and just in time. I peeked from under the safe and saw the elevator slam on the floor of the shaft, not sit like when I brought it down, but slam! I cupped my hands over my mouth to dampen the sound of my heavy, panicked breathing. I listened and saw the feel coming towards me. They weren’t normal feet and they weren’t normal foot steps. There was a clomp, then a slide, then it repeated, over and over, growing closer to me.
It stopped dead in front of the safe, paused, and turned around and left. The elevator left and the iron door slammed shut.
Frightened and shaking, I didn’t know what to do. I pushed the safe away from my head and got out of the hole. I noticed there was no way out now because whoever or whatever was just down here, took the elevator with them. I read the letter to see what was next.
That... That thing that came down here, Billy, was not a person. It wasn’t an alien, it wasn’t a human being, it was an entity. And not some paranormal thing like the movies. You see, that thing has been haunting this family for years. Past family members have bribed it and tricked it to leave them and their generation alone and left it waiting for the next generation. But it is fed up with it. It wants you and your whole family. Their time and yours is up. It is cunning and it knows you are still down here! You and your family are in your hands. You have the weapons and the supplies. Get to the house. If it’s not too late, your grandparents are still alive, but you had better hurry.
Oh, and one more thing! When confronting him, learn from it and forget all fear. For it feeds on you, your fear, and your stupidity. Now... RUN!
I slid the letter in my pocket. Then the elevator lowered, very slowly. No one was on it. I leaped on and got to the other room.
Millions of questions flooded my head. Who or what came into this place? What did it want from us? Why was it after me and my family? Why did has it been following us for generations?
I ran to the guns and loaded two semi-automatic handguns and put them into my pockets. I also loaded an M-16 and carried it up the ladder on my back.
I turned my four-wheeler on and drove it to the house. When I got there I noticed the window was broken and I heard more and more screaming and yelling as I ran in.
Grandpa was shielding grandma with his body. He saw me and yelled, “Bill! Shoot the damn thing!” I shot the human like thing. It screamed and leaped out the broken window faster than any human could. It disappeared after jumping out the window.
“Billy!” grandpa was still yelling, “It starts and ends now! Give me the handgun in your pocket. Give the other to grandma.”
“Tell me what is happening grandpa!”
“Billy,” he started calmer, “Oh, Billy. It started years ago. My mother was possessed years ago. It must have been the early 1900s. The demon was called Malphas. Malphas accepts willingly and kindly any sacrifice offered to him, but now he is sick of our tricks and bribes. Anyway, mother was exorcised but the demon never left our family alone. Each generation bribed it with a future generation, and now it’s decided it’s had enough. It now wants you as the final generation.”
“How do I stop it?”
“Get in your car, get the keys, go to the church. Pastor Wilson will know what to do. He has helped us with this before. His father held my mother’s exorcism. Now go!”
I got in my car and started to turn out of the driveway. I saw that grandpa and grandma were going towards their white minivan. I whipped a U-turn and told them to hop in. Grandpa got in front and grandma hopped in back.
We went to the small white church down the road where Pastor Wilson was working on his sermon for Sunday.
We pulled up and I ran into the church as grandpa helped grandma out. Pastor Wilson was practicing his sermon in the front of the church. I startled him as I ran towards him, “Pastor Wilson. I’m Billy.”
Pastor stopped me, “I know why you are here. I can’t believe it’s time already. I’ve been waiting for this day to come, but it has come so soon.” He put his notepad down and walked to me. He laid a hand on my shoulder, “Son, you must listen to me and do as I say. And believe will save us.” I uttered a small prayer and made a cross across my chest. “Okay Billy--” Pastor was interrupted by a big earthquake-like rumble. “It’s time. What we are going to do is have the demon consume and possess me. Then you must kill me. The demon will die with me.”
“No Pastor. I started this. I am ending this.” I explained to him. Pastor Wilson had a worried look that went straight and he nodded.
“This is what will happen,” Pastor began, “Let it possess you. Then I will hand you a cross and spray holy water on you. You may lose control of yourself, that is Malphas taking over you. I will say a prayer, and I will shoot...” he paused, “I will shoot you.”
At that moment Malphas broke through the ceiling. I yelled to it, “Here I am! Come and get me!” The feeling was immense. I could feel myself get weaker and weaker. Pastor Wilson handed me a cross and sprayed me with holy water. I grabbed my gun and got ready. I didn’t want Pastor to go through the misery of having to live down the knowledge that he killed me. He yelled through the hole in the roof, “God! Take this child as he has been possessed. He is your child and he needs you to take him not and vanquish the evil spirit! Amen!” Then I pulled the trigger.
The demon, Malphus died, but good never dies. I lost consciousness for a few days after being shot through my chest, but I didn’t die. God had saved me from the bullets and the demon. The century of being haunted and demonized has been lifted. We have been freed, and it was because of me.
So much for a boring summer.