Still In The Past
There were many more articles. What Randa had saved over the years was chilling and horrifying. I kept going through them trying to find something that didn't strike utter horror in my heart. I wasn't having much luck.
Voodoo or Tribal Ritual
Java, Indonesia. The State Department denies allegations of a cover-up amid growing speculation that devil worship and voodoo are being practiced in this peaceful setting. Indonesian officials acknowledge that animalism-based religion does exist in various communities but strongly states this is not a local matter. What is causing the rumors is unknown but officials state that Americans are involved. The slaughtering of animals is recognized in the past of various sects but these actions are not Indonesia rituals. What is concerning officials is that offerings of barbaric and unrecognizable creatures have been reported by sources closest to the investigation.
The residents of the college area grow fearful of what is next. At the various meeting places of the communities there has been talk about the bizarre, tribal nature of what has been found. Officials state nothing is out of the ordinary but undisclosed sources say a cover-up is underway.
LA Going Hollywood?
Los Angeles, CA. Let's dish! Local police claim all a giant misunderstanding?? Oh, please, girls and boys and ghouls we have too much to tell! Last Friday night, under the oh-so-full moon -- Griffith Park Observatory Guards heard cavorting and caterwauling. People in the know say somebody is being so very naughty!! Oh-too-Horror-filled secret ceremonies and secrets. Kids, is the Wolfman back or just his cousin the Count? Do tell...
Hooligans Desecrate Local Graves
Los Angeles, CA. Sources close to the investigation claim mere moon madness and college pranks are the cause of Forest Lawn's hiring of additional guards. After other local graveyards are reporting higher than normal incidents of vandalism, Forest Lawn took the initiative to drastically restrict the hours open to the public. Also hired were more on-site guards than any time in recent history. Local director admits that while there have been no problems at his cemetery he just wanted to keep it that way.
Some alleged occurrences involved symbols carved into headstones while there were reports of a more gruesome nature that more than just the stones have just been disturbed. Unsubstantiated rumors claim dirt has been seen mounded as if something were uncovered near fresh burial sites. Police are keeping a tight cap on exact information at this time to keep any copycat incidents to a minimum...
Condemned Tenements Razed by Flames
Los Angeles, CA. "The seedier side of South Central got some early spring cleaning," stated an informant only known as Donny. In a local police report, Donny tells officials that last Friday's blaze in South Central Los Angeles was not an accident. Fire Captain Les Richards confirms this and states it now is an ongoing arson investigation, declining to give this reporter any more information on the grounds it would weaken his inquiry into this matter.
The fire was allegedly started in the pre-dawn hours by an accelerant, suspected to be gasoline, doused over some derelict's clothing stuffed along the south side of the structure. No residents were inside since last year's incarceration of the former owner. Klaus Henckle, the building's past owner, after being convicted and sent to prison over sub-standard living conditions and various fraudulent practices, declared bankruptcy. The resulting abandonment of the building caused condemned notices to be placed over all the boarded up entrances and windows while the government attempted to resell the building to an internationally known consortium who dealt with these types of buildings and their subsequent refurbishing or destruction.
Had this fire occurred a year earlier upwards to five hundred people would have easily perished. Plans are underway to renovate the area. Local real estate insiders say that this tragedy could actually favorably effect future construction...
Eventually I had to stop. It was toxic and I wanted nothing to do with how the direction of my mind was going. Every single town or location mentioned scared me even more. I didn't want to continue reading these articles -- all were places Randolph had mentioned in the past few months. Recently he'd started telling me stories at night, almost like bedtime stories, about his childhood and family. Each city mentioned had played out some little episode in his life. Ironically enough, not one of the newspaper stories was about the childhood Randolph was retelling. Rather the stories of hot summers spent swimming and sipping iced tea with family were the nature of his tales.
I sat in the dark and listened to his tales. I was still trying to reconcile my husband Randolph's nighttime meanderings with the newspaper clippings Randa had given me earlier at lunch. Sitting on the couch, slowly the panic subsided and I remembered the whimsical tones in which Randolph had told his version of his life's events. Looking back, I thought now, they were in fact probably not real but entirely imagined. He was telling me childhood stories of a predictable life. This thought scared me more than anything else. Whose life was Randolph recounting if not his own? I never had found him to be particularly creative. Randa seemed to feel this dark, disturbing path was the true Randolph. What did she mean by his 'treatments'? Why had I never heard about Randolph having been hospitalized or undergoing any kind of psychiatric care?
The phone rang. The clock on the entertainment unit showed the time was half past midnight. The ringing seemed out of place. I numbly got up and picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" I queried.
Silence greeted my questioning hello. I repeated it and was rewarded with a gasp, a light chuckle and dial tone. I didn't have any idea who it had been. So I cautiously replaced the phone's receiver -- I desired to answer no more calls. Like it was a poisonous snake not to be messed with, and with caution lacing my soul, I activated the answering machine to pick up on the first ring. It was then I saw there were already a dozen calls recorded. With growing unrest I hit the playback button. After some noisy breathing the calls were all hang ups concluding with the mechanical voice stating the date and time of the calls. My phone rang every thirty minutes or so over the past half dozen hours. Maybe the caller hadn't been looking for me but Randolph. That thought didn't console me in any manner.
I switched off the ringer on the base of the phone so I wouldn't hear any more calls. Mechanically I went round the house and unplugged or turned off the ringer on each of the phones. I was numb and this simple task took far longer than it would logically suggest. I finished in the kitchen and was shocked to find it was only just going on one a.m. The time had been distorted and bent so I didn't understand what it meant at first. Then came the clicking sounds of the answering machine in the living room picking up an incoming call. I'd forgotten to reduce the audio part of my answering machine. I thumped into the room and was reaching for the volume control when I heard a voice whisper, "Oh, Alanna, you think that will work?" I couldn't tell if it were male or female. But they knew my name.
Yet despite my solitude I felt like someone was in the room whispering in my ear dirty thoughts and bitter nasty words. My head reeled with all the day's unscheduled events and traumas. I hurt from head to heel with tension and stress. Tapping the volume button to mute I pulled Randa's stack of papers to my chest and stumbled to the floor safe.
There had always been a part of me I needed to keep private. Until the voice came over the machine taunting me, I had almost forgotten I had the safe. It had been put in privately by my old maid's husband, Juan, who felt obligated to me after I helped Celia get her green card. Celia had been working in my home for years and I pushed her through the process to become legal since she was expecting her first grandchild. I didn't want to see the family get torn apart due to a mistake she'd made when she was younger.
Juan had been born in Mexico and spoke not a word of English. The community they called home in America was bilingual and trilingual. He had no need to speak anything but Spanish. Celia and I talked and I found she thought it was stupid to place their trust in banks. After her paperwork was done and she was a legal citizen she wanted to thank me. Her idea was to put a safe in for me. Even with the safety of being a 'legal citizen' she had bone deep distrust of the government and police. She decided to thank me with a gift. She wanted to put a floor safe in my home for my valuables.
So even though I laughed about it I allowed her to put in the safe. Her husband came with her many times. One day she smuggled in very specific tools I didn't have around the house. She told me very precisely that the safe was to be a great secret and pulled out metal tools I hadn't a clue what they were good for and set them solemnly on the countertop telling me it had to be done. I found it a bit fearful but saw no harm in her actions and allowed them to install the safe over a few months. Thus I had a secret safe.
I opened the cabinet below the sink and moved off the cleaning solutions and looked at the dusty surface. Pushing the false flooring aside that had been underneath the containers I looked at the combination safe and dusted off the filth with a rag I had moved onto the floor when I was shifting the supplies aside. Dust had accumulated in the cracks and along the sides of the flooring. This reassured me that Randolph couldn't know about my secret stash, I opened the safe using the familiar combination code I had never forgotten. Once it opened up with some reluctance I saw nothing seemed disturbed. The deed to the home was there, my parents' wedding picture, some small jewelry I never wore and now I added the fistful of articles. Carefully I returned everything back to its original state and prayed.
Prayer seemed to be the only option at the moment. No tears -- only numbness that spread through my body and mind. The drapes on the windows of the kitchen I assumed had been closed by Randolph so I didn't look out into the night. Rather I felt the night pressing in on me.
The Present, in the Garden Room
Recounting the story to Detective Stockwell gave me chills. Pausing, I drank some tea and asked him if he had any questions. He hadn't interrupted the recounting of my tale but listened and occasionally took a few notes. We went over the dates of some of the major events. He seemed to believe me and take me seriously. Part of me worried if he could take the full tale -- or that he'd think I was deluded if not outright insane. Hell, after living through it all I still questioned some of the things that I'd seen and found. I wasn't even sure how to work in the whole vampires being real part. Mentally I tried to spin around the whole horror of my life and try to see if I could edit out the vampires for the time being -- until I could give him some sort of proof.
Sighing, "Listen, Detective Stockwell, I think it's great you are patiently listening to me but I know how odd all of this must sound."
"Alanna, as I told you yesterday, call me Michael. This doesn't sound as crazy as you seem to think. In the past decade many people have come forward with similar types of stories. What I want to know is why didn't you go to the police with your suspicions? After all, you had the newspaper clippings and the death of your friends, which I gather was no accident?" He sounded sincere.