Cousins Of Devereaux
The previous dark and stormy night left the woods with a dark glistening green and brown complexion.
The moon cast an eerie glow upon the forest as it held a silent war only few knew about. A dark figure moved stealthily through the wood as sounds of yells and snarls echoed throughout the forest behind her. She wore a dark velvety emerald cloak that camouflaged her into the night. Her thick wavy black hair whipped fiercely behind her as she ran, expertly weaving in
“You will be with them soon enough, little one.” She said, the sorrow in her voice mixing with the cold breeze of the night. Without a second thought the woman flew down the hill in sharp strides, instantly finding the house. It took her three steps before she was at the back door. “I am giving these people what they desire and in return I am getting what I need . . . your safety.” She placed her daughter gently on the matted back porch. “I will return for you . . .” her eyes were glassy as silent tears rolled down her cheeks and onto the sodden grass. “. . . et c’est effectivement une promesse.” While she ran her slender pale hand over her daughter’s short black curls she gently bent down and sealed her promise with a kiss on her forehead. Silently she reached inside her cloak, pulling out a silver and red rusted steel box and placing it next to her daughter. After a few too short moments, the woman finally stood up, rapped on the back door three times and without looking back she disappeared back up the hill to fight a war she wouldn’t win.
* * *
Just like all nightmares, I woke up from a fit of continuous tossing and turning, and then feeling the sticky cold sweat that caused my clothes to cling to my body. I lay there uneasily, kicking off the remainder of the black comforter that tied me to my twin- sized bed. I lay there uneasily, kicking off the remainder of the black comforter that now draped loosely to the side of my bed. I began so desperately trying to decipher the dream that my head started to ache. Every time I closed my eyes at a loose attempt to go back to sleep, the beautiful face of the woman would appear as if it were painted on the inside of my eyelids-which would suddenly make them fly back open. Every night for the past week I’ve awakened from a dream of this same woman, a woman I never knew. Her face seemed oddly familiar-but I could never place where I’d seen it before. After a while I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep as I let my eyes adjust to my dark room. I reached over, fumbling for my inexpensive Pre-paid cell phone on the nightstand next to my bed. It took seconds before my hand enclosed on the small metal rectangle. I checked the time as the luminescent green light lit my face. It read 5:00 AM.
“Happy Seventeenth Birthday Elizabeth,” I whispered to myself as I wiped some of the remaining sweat from my forehead, using the bottom of my nightshirt. I couldn’t even guess how long I stared at the ceiling, counting each tile wearily, when out the corner of my eye a shadow moved on the other side of the room. I quickly pushed myself up on my elbows, frantically reaching for my glasses on the nightstand. After I settled my glasses on to my face I found myself staring at nothing but my scared expression in my dresser mirror on the other side of my small room. The logical part of my mind told me it was only the shadows of the tree branches outside my window, dancing on the other side of my bedroom. But as a cold shiver trickled down my spine I had an inkling that it was something else. That’s when I took notice of the cold and unwanted (but refreshing) air seeping its way into my room, drawing my attention to my open bedroom window, causing it’s black satin curtains to ruffle. This was strange; because the window would never completely close, but it never blew wide open before like it was now. Setting my phone silently back on the nightstand, I slowly inched my out of bed, trying not to let the faulty springs in my mattress wake my parents in the next room. It turned out to be a failed attempt as I lifted my weight from the bed, the rusty springs let out a loud whining squeal. I stood there in the middle of my room for a second, listening to see if I had disturbed my parents sleep, but their low snores told me otherwise. I walked over to the open window, stumbling over low piles of clothes and shoes that were strewn haphazardly around the room, the floorboards creaking under my weight as I went. The cold air brushed up against my face as I peered outside the window. The first thing that caught my eye was the large oak tree that missed my house by inches as it ran up the side of my house. I could’ve reached out my hand and touched the many semi-bare branches-that were now as still as a lamppost. I looked down on the dark hill that led to the road, which was now deserted; I took in the strong sweet smell of the night. The smell of fresh pine drifted from a forest beyond the road behind my house. I was mesmerized by the illusion the night held, wanting desperately to know its secrets, to know how to intrigue someone like the night did so well with its mysterious stars, low hanging moon, and the covered veil of darkness.
The sweet way it invited people in. I had finally realized that I’d been standing at the open window for some time now as I blinked a few times acknowledging the cold droplets that pelted my face . . . it was raining, as it so often did in the small town of Sleepy Hill, Connecticut. I pressed all my weight down on the windowsill, pushing it down until it wouldn’t go any further. The window stopped only inches away from the ledge. Cold wet air still made its way through the tiny space. I made my way back to the bed noticing that I had regained my yearning to sleep. The springs groaned in protest as I slid back into bed. I pulled my comforter back over me as I took my glasses off with the other hand and sitting them back on the nightstand. I then stared out the window at the pale moonlight, waiting . . . waiting. I slowly fell asleep listening to the tapping of the raindrops gradually getting louder on the thin roof and the various sounds of cars passing by on the road behind my house.
Chapter 1: The Beginning
I wondered if it was my phone blaring insistently on the nightstand or the bitter cold October wind seeping through my rickety bedroom window that woke me up the next morning. I snatched my phone and my glasses off the nightstand. I secured my glasses onto my face and flipped open my cell, while feeling groggy from the minimum of last night’s sleep. The phone revealed a flashing mail symbol in the top right corner of the screen. I opened it. It was a birthday message which showed a birthday cake as it flashed in various colors to a cheap tune of Happy Birthday. The bottom of the text read: P.S. on my way Lizzy. I felt a smile creep on my face as I noticed the silly nickname blinking on the bottom of the screen. Only one person in the world called me by that name, Jackson Campbell. I lay on the bed for a while thinking about my everyday routine which consisted of getting out of bed in a daze, feeling the beading hot rivulets quickly transitioning to a freezing spray from the broken showerhead, the scent of blueberry pancakes, and then a long disturbing day at Alexander Prep. Though somehow I felt today would be different. I glanced at my cell phone for the time which read 7:30 AM.
Crap, I had only twenty minutes to get ready! I ungracefully dragged myself out of bed stopping when the room started to sway in and out of focus. Suddenly my vision was blurry and everything had multiplied. There were two dressers, two pictures attached to the mirror of Aunt Cam’s horse farm in Ridge brook, Michigan, and multiplied clothes on the floor. I quickly blinked behind my glasses and everything was normal again, One of everything. I must’ve gotten up too fast; I told myself. I carefully tip toed through the clutter of clothes and shoes and other objects that looked as if they were attached with adhesive glue to the floor. With little success I made it to the other side of the room where the old oak dresser I’ve had long since I could remember was positioned. I grabbed my matching mango body wash and shampoo, and washcloth from off the dresser, fisting them in my hands. It took a while before I could bring myself to look at the reflection in the mirror: A silent girl stared back at me as I looked in the mirror. She didn’t look seventeen but two years younger. Her wavy black hair that wouldn’t stay tamed, even on a good day raced past her shoulders. Those dark emerald eyes that everyone thought were so beautiful somehow didn’t connect with the face in the mirror. Her pink lips were parted a bit exposing her naturally white teeth. The pale skin that forced her features to exaggerate itself a bit. I stood there in front of the mirror and couldn’t help but think that if the girl was a little prettier and if she was at least some inches taller than her normal height of 5’5 then things would change around her, then she would be noticed. I turned away from the mirror and made my way through the door grabbing my towel from the back of the door as I went. The cold wooden floor in the hallway creaked noisily under my feet as I made my way to the bathroom at the end of the hall. I could hear the clanking of pots and pans as I went past the staircase descending into the foyer. My mom was up early as usual. I passed my parents’ bedroom hearing deep drawn out snores that emanated through the closed door. I quickly matched them to an image of my dad’s body huddled in a heap of blankets. I finally made it to the bathroom door, closing it behind me as I entered. The bathroom wasn’t anything special, just like any other room in this house. Its decorations were the same stale colors of tan and sky blue that I remembered since I was six. The distant memory floated to me all too clearly: My dad picked me up from school that day in our new Buick Century and as I walked through the door my mother greeted me holding up the tan and light blue floor mats, the tan seat cover, and the light blue shower curtain over-painted with tan flowers. My mom’s face shone bright as she asked for my opinion and I couldn’t possibly tell her that the set looked as if someone threw up cotton candy on it after a really uncomfortable rollercoaster ride. So I just stuck with the old-fashioned smile and nod. The vanity bulbs above the mirror exposed the now faded colors of the shower curtain, toilet seat, and floor mats. The only new edition to the bathroom was the bright towels hanging on the wall, matching the rest of the scenery. I laid my towel on the toilet seat and went over to the shower, throwing back the cotton candy curtain. I slowly tweaked the hot and cold knobs of the shower, the faucet shook with a gurgling noise then released a single droplet of water. I cursed silently, looking over my shoulder to verify I was still alone. It was no surprise the shower wasn't working since it’s occurred multiple times last week. After turning the knob repeatedly I accepted defeat. Gathering my things I left the bathroom.
Out in the hallway I heard a loud yawn and sounds of shuffling in my parents’ room and silence slowly ascending from downstairs. Entering my room, the freezing air from the seemingly closed window quickly gathered to meet me, as if the air mocked me silently. I made my way to my closet. Navy blue and white blinded me as I pushed open the closet. They were uniforms Alexander Prep forced its students to wear: The blue blazers, white button downs, blue skirts, and white and blue striped ties. (Honestly, I almost threw up a little.) But since today was Halloween students were exempt from their everyday uniforms to wear costumes, but costumes at Alexander was just another excuse for girls with low self-esteem to wear short slutty outfits to make guys notice them. I used both of my hands to spread out the uniforms to each side exposing my ‘normal clothes.’ I ran my fingers over the limited supply. Reminding myself I was under a time limit I quickly plucked out an old grey graphic Paramore T-shirt and black artificially ripped skinny jeans. I threw them on the bed and then went to my dresser, tossing my bathroom materials onto the dresser and then dug out a loose black wired bra and the underwear to match from the top drawer. Exchanging them for my night clothes I hurried and slipped them on.
Back at the bed I pulled and tugged on the pants until they fit snuggly around my waist. I slid my frail arms through the T-Shirt, pulling it over my body as slick stings of wet hair stuck to my neck. I searched around the room until I found my favorite worn black converse high-tops. Sitting on the bed, I pulled and tugged them on. I stood up slowly- not wanting to cause a recap of this morning’s dizzy spell- as I wiggled my toes in the suffocating sneakers.
I grabbed my cell and glasses off the nightstand and on my way out of the room I scooped up my gray knapsack that slouched itself by the door and closed the door behind me. I slipped my glasses on and tucked my cell into my front pocket as I stood at the top of the stairs, the stale smell of blueberry and questionable aromas filled the house.
“Blueberry . . . again?” I sighed as I made my way down the stairs and into the foyer and through the dining room and living room and into the kitchen. I couldn’t help but smile at the scene displayed before me: My mother stood at the stove in her shabby blue robe as she flipped blueberry pancakes in one pan and bacon and eggs in another. She stood barely just above the stove at 5’0. Her warm chocolate brown eyes looked up from the burning stove and that unforgettable smile that I always made me believe I could accomplish anything slowly surfaced on her face.
“Happy Birthday, Honey.” She said as she walked over to me, her brown curls bouncing as she went.
“Shower is broken again.” I answered when she embraced me in one of her heart warming hugs and took a step back but her hands now held my face; her thumbs tracing my cheekbones.
“I’ll have your father check it out.” She replied wearily, examining the kitchen tiles. “Seventeen years already.” Her sadden eyes reached mines with much affection. “It feels just like it was only yesterday that you came into me and your father’s lives.” Her sniffles started to rise as she turned away and all too ready to put them off as allergies. I waited for my mother to compose herself before speaking.
“Just promise me you won’t make a big deal about this birthday, okay?” I said, staring into her teary eyes.
“I promise.” Her eyes instantly went from melancholy to excitement. “Close your eyes.” She said, wiping her eyes and frantically looking around the kitchen. I closed my eyes with much restraint as I heard my mom rummaging around in our petite cottage-like kitchen. I heard cabinets and drawers opening and closing quickly almost making a series of music. I pictured my frantic stout mother shooting from every corner of the kitchen looking for a mysterious object, which made me jump into a fit of giggles.
“Don’t peek.” my mom teased me though her voice seemed far away but I felt her presence right in front of me. “It’s just something little.” She cautioned me as I opened my eyes to a small box wrapped in my mom’s delicate hands. I took the box, and unwrapped it frantically to reveal a box of contacts.
“Thank you so much!” I beamed at her with a broad smile and grabbing her in a total breathtaking hug.
“I knew you’d love it.” She said, laughing through huffed breaths. But her last words were drowned out by the floorboards creaking overhead and the faint sound of my dad whistling Beethoven’s 5th. I soon released her, letting her recover from my firm death grip. “Your father doesn’t know about those,” she said pointing at the box of contacts. She stood there staring at the box for seconds” So could you hide them until I can find away to tell him?” She quickly concluded as she made her way back to the stove.
“Sure thing” I shrugged my shoulders dubiously as I heard my dad making his way through the foyer. I never like hiding things from him. Hell, it was pretty impossible because he always knew what was up. My mom knew if my dad found out about the contacts he’d rant continuously about how expensive they were and how scarce our money supply was, but he wouldn’t yell, he never yelled. Truth was I hated the glasses that were prescribed to me. It was the start of 3rd grade when I went to the optometrist office to get an eye exam. I remember throwing a b**** fit when I was told I had to wear them. I knew if I’d worn the glasses I would look like a dork and everyone would make fun of me for having to wear them. My dad then took me aside and told me on one every made fun of him for wearing them, He also told me from then on when he wore his glasses he would think of me, his brave little soldier. I knew he was just trying to console me but it made me feel special ever since. Then he said I probably got the poor eyesight from his side of the family and made a funny face which made his glasses wiggle. It always made me laugh. And whenever I wore my glasses I thought of him. I quickly stuffed the contacts into my knapsack as my dad walked into the kitchen.
He looked up from the Daily Report. “Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.” My dad said as he wrapped his lanky arms around me. I thanked him as he went to the plate of overflowing food that awaited him on the light brown linoleum Island in the middle of the kitchen. I was about an inch taller than my dad after a huge growth spurt. He used to tease that one day I’d wake up and my escalading height would take me through the roof. I noticed that he already had on his work uniform even though he needn’t be at work for at least another hour. His sandy brown hair mimicked the shadowy beard that covered his chin and mouth. I could always see why my mom fell in love with him: the boyish smile that never failed to appear when anyone had a need for it and the sharp lines that would always appear next to his light blue eyes when he smiled or laughed. Whenever I would ask her why she had chosen him her only words were delicate and light: “He has the heart of three men combined.”
“The showers acting funny again and Honey, please put on your glasses before you lose the rest of your eyesight altogether.” My mom said, finishing up the last batch of pancakes on the stove and began stacking them onto a chipped china plate. She always made more than was necessary.
“Darling, I’ll be fine.” He pressed as he went back to reading the newspaper, surreptitiously squinting at the dull black print on the paper. “I’ll look into the shower problem and buy some new parts and replace the rusted pipes while I’m at work. He mumbled as he read mindlessly.
I walked over to where my dad sat. “Dad, wear the glasses just to ease her mind please.” I pleaded, and then when he seemed like he wouldn’t budge I made a face, making the glasses on my face dance, which made him laugh.
“Sweetie, the glasses on you only adds to your beauty, but to me it’s just another reminder of my old age.”
“Dad, forty-one isn’t old and besides the glasses makes you look a day over thirty.” I tried not to stretch the truth too far.
“Thanks Elizabeth.” He laughed again as he reluctantly reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out his glasses and slid them onto his calm face. My mom issued me a silent “Thank You” from across the kitchen as I took one of the plates off the counter next to the stove and a steaming mug of coffee my mom must have set out for me earlier and headed to the dark oak wood table by the window overlooking the backyard. Sliding into one of the chairs I looked back at my parents: my dad reading the newspaper, both eyebrows up in interest and my mom back turned to me as she cleaned grease and batter from the idling isles on the stove. While looking my parents over I couldn’t help but compare myself to them like I sometimes did: the height differences, the different color eyes and hair, and how they both were so eager to start the day. But if someone had so happened to shake me during sleep I’d have no choice but to rip out their trachea. But whenever I would ask my mom about the differences she’d just tell me everyone was different and that it was okay to be different.
My dad suddenly broke me out of my reverie, his voice firm and all the laughter gone. “Hey, promise me you guys will stay safe today.” When neither my mom nor I spoke he went into an explanation. “There was a recap in today’s newspaper about the one murder last week and the other two weeks ago in Quaker, where the victims’ bodies were drained of their blood completely and their limbs torn from their bodies. And now since both deaths took place in the woods they’ve come to finality that the suspects could actually be a bear or some other large forest animal.” My dad didn’t sound the least bit sure of the words he just finished reading as he looked up from his paper.
“Oh my lord, I remember seeing that on the news, it’s something awful.” My mom whispered.
“But that’s two towns over and I doubt mom and I will go ever go hiking in the woods.” I said, turning around to face my dad, his eyebrows were raised, almost disappearing into his hair, and his eyes burned into mines with a sort of soft pleading.
“I promise.” I said losing the staring competition and slouching back into the chair. I heard an echo of my promise on the other side of the kitchen. I watched my dad as his expression relaxed and he went back to his breakfast and muttering something about what he’d do if he lost his girls.
I turned my attention back to the small window that overlooked the backyard as I picked at a piece of greasy bacon fat. I sipped the mug of steaming coffee as I thought back to the murders. I had to admit to myself that it was completely strange: two bodies being emptied of their blood and then torn limb from limb. It’s the reason why for the past two weekends Alexander Prep’s football games had been cancelled, because it’s rival, Quaker High, had to mourn the lives of their townsmen, each week. It made me think of myself even though Quaker was some ways away from Silent Hill. If I was to become the next victim and die: who would come to my funeral. I shuddered as I instantly pushed the thought from my mind as I continued to look into the backyard, then past it to the hill leading to the road, which connected to the dark woods ahead, the woods that framed Silent Hill, Connecticut, the woods that I remembered all too well. The shuddering slowly resumed as I silently recalled the night I conquered my fears of the darkness.