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February 19, 2024

Shadow of Death, Part 2

By Carrie A. Golden

Kara didn't come out of her bedroom until late the next morning when she entered the kitchen and quietly sat at the table. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying and lack of sleep.

Josh was seated in his highchair, and Dad was feeding him. He glanced over at his teenage daughter and looked at her with sympathy and sadness. "I've been too hard on you the past few months haven't I?"

Kara shrugged her shoulders. What could she say to make him believe that she was not hearing or seeing things?

Dad set the baby spoon down, picked up a bottle of juice and handed it to Josh who took it happily. "We're all going into town today as soon as you can get dressed. I've got a few errands to run with Josh, but I want you to go into the library and take out as many books as they'll allow." He had a slight smile on his face. "From here on out, I will be assuming more responsibilities around here, okay?"

She wasn't about to argue with Dad as she gave an enthusiastic nod.

Within the hour they were all in the maroon Subaru heading down the road and onto Rt. 9N which ran into the hamlet of Mallory's Bush. The town had only one general store, a post office, a small fire department and a gas station. It had no traffic signal, only a single stop sign at the intersection of 9N/86. Mallory's Bush was nestled in a quiet valley surrounded with greenish-blue mountains.

Dad parked in the small parking lot of the general store. Shifting the gears and turning the car off he turned to Kara, "Will an hour be enough?"

She gave a nod.

They then filed out of the car and she crossed the street to the library which sat next to the small brick building of the US Postal Service. The library was housed in what used to be an old wooden school at the turn of the century. It still held a working bell on top of the structure.

As Kara entered the building, she was met with a strong musty odor. It was the smell of a very old building, very similar to the house she was residing in.

She at first browsed through the young adult section, but nothing really caught her attention. She then went to the History section and pulled out a book with the title Mallory's Bush's Notables.

Sitting down at a table she began to browse through the old, leather-bound book. At first glance, it was another boring book about the town's early history, but then she ran across a picture of the farmhouse she lived in. In this picture, taken around 1945, the house was in immaculate shape. Standing in front of the house, posed a prominent looking family of three adults and two children. As she briefly read the description underneath the picture, she learned that the first two adults were a Dr. Wilbur Bannard and his wife, Katherine. The other was a stern looking woman who was almost as tall as the doctor himself. She was identified as Ibis Crane, the family's nanny and maid. The children were Mary and David, ages eight and five.

Kara studied the young girl a little closer. She looked vaguely familiar. Why was that? She read on and what she learned left her feeling cold and shaken to the core. On a cold Christmas Eve morning the town police made a gruesome discovery at the Bannards' house. The family had been brutally slain, and the nanny was at first missing, only to be found a short time later, lying in the pool of her own blood. Upon further investigation, the police concluded that the nanny murdered the family and then killed herself.

Thoughts began to run through Kara's mind in rapid succession. Could the faceless woman in her dream and the shadow she saw in Josh's room be Ibis? And could the voice she heard and the girl she saw in the bathroom be Mary? She kept warning Kara, "He's in danger." Was Ibis trying to kill Josh?

There were only a few more sentences devoted to the Bannards' demise. It was the author's theory that perhaps Ibis had fallen in love with the doctor, and when he denied her; she went into a fit of rage and murdered them all, killing the mother and children with a knife and the father with a string of wire, and then being overcome with grief and guilt, took her own life.

Kara could read no further. Her hands were shaking and chills coursed through her body. The girl's voice was echoing through her head. "He's in danger!" In her mind, she kept seeing the shadow in both Dad's and Josh's bedrooms. The realization hit her as if she had been punched in the stomach. Taking a shaky breath, she whispered to herself," Ibis may be after Dad!" And if that was true then the dead woman might be trying to kill Josh and Kara to get to him.

Slamming the book shut Kara got up and rushed out of the building. As she stepped outside, she stopped abruptly. Who would believe her? Who would believe that there was a shadowy ghost in her house that was trying to kill them? Dad would definitely think she'd gone mad or worse, laugh at her.

Aimlessly stepping down the cracked and crumbling cement steps, she made her way towards the car. So many things was going through her mind that she could not decipher any of them. Her breathing was now coming fast and for reasons beyond her control, she could not slow her panting. The world around Kara began to spin and darken. She felt herself slipping down onto the hot pavement as nausea swept over her.

Kara felt a paper bag being placed over her nose and mouth as a voice told her to breathe into it as deeply as she could. It took several tries, but she began to feel her breathing slowly return to normal. As the light returned, she found herself sitting in the middle of the main road,. in her father's arms with several strangers standing around, staring at her. One of them was holding Josh.

Dad was softly whispering into her ears words of comfort and she soon felt herself calming down.

"Dad, what happened?"

"You were hyperventilating."

Intense feelings of embarrassment and fear then began to immerse Kara, and she burst into tears and buried her face into Dad's strong and steady chest.

"Come with me. Let's get you into the car."

Dad helped her up to her feet and over into the front seat of their car and shut the door. Kara could feel several pairs of eyes still staring at her as she kept her eyes down at the floor. The back door then opened as Josh was placed in and strapped into his car seat. She could hear Dad talking with someone. "She's taking her mom's death pretty hard still," he was saying. When the door shut, she heard nothing more. Dad then entered the car and sat in the seat beside her, he started the car but let it idle for a moment.

He sighed deeply and spoke to Kara in a gentle tone. "Hey there, sport."

Dad hadn't called her that since before Mom's untimely death. She looked up at him. His face was kind and soft. He reached out a hand and placed it on her face; "Things have been hard lately haven't they?"

Kara blinked back the tears and gave a slight nod.

"I'm thinking about us going away for a few days and have some fun. What do you think, sport?"

This brought a smile on her lips. "Oh, yes! Could we leave tonight?" she asked, with excitement in her voice.

It was Dad's turn to smile as he chuckled. "How about first thing tomorrow?"

"Okay."

With that Dad pulled back, shifted the car into gear and backed out of the parking lot and onto the main road.

Before pulling into their long driveway, they drove by the old one-story house. Kara looked out and noticed all the curtains had been drawn back. Odd. For as long as they had been there, the curtains had always been down.

Stopping in front of their home, Dad put the car into park, and Kara got out and got Josh while Dad brought the bags of groceries into the kitchen. Kara put Josh in the play pen and then went to help with unloading the bags and putting away the contents. Glancing over to the small window over the sink she saw that the sun was beginning to lower in the sky. It would be dark soon.

"Dad?"

"Yes, sport?"

"What do you really know about this house?"

"Other than it's pretty old and run down?"

"Yeah."

He studied Kara intently and could see that she was being serious.

"I know its history and about the Bannards, if that is what you're referring to."

Standing up tall, Kara leaned forward against the large oval table. "Do you believe in ghosts?"

Dad let out a sigh that signaled his growing impatience with her. "Kara, there are no ghosts in this house."

She turned defiantly to Dad, "There's something in this house,"

"Kara, please!"

"Dad, you got to believe me when I tell you that we need to get away from here, this --- this house!"

"That's enough! I don't want to hear anymore from you about these ghosts!"

"But Dad!"

"End of story!"

It was no use. He refused to believe her. Walking over to the sink, a fatalistic look came over her face as she stared out of the window. The setting sun was brilliant with its vibrant red and purple rays across the darkening sky. Kara brushed aside a loose strand of hair as a single tear trickled down her face. As she watched the sun slowly lower in the horizon, a cold, pressing sensation came over her.

Dad was speaking at her as Kara turned to face him. He was trying to fix the pantry door so that it would close all the way. He was saying, "I think Josh's hungry."

Nodding, as this was her cue that it was time to fix supper; she turned to a counter door and opened it.

That evening, Kara went through her usual bedtime routine with Josh, and as she laid him down in his crib, she began to sense how quiet the house was. There were no voices or strange noises. Nothing. It unnerved her. She even checked to be sure her hearing aids were working properly.

Whispering good night to Josh, Kara laid him on his back; his eyelids were heavy with sleep. She then went to check on Dad, but his bedroom door was closed with the light still on. He was probably reading or going through the family album as he frequently did.

She went to her room and partially closed her door. She quickly undressed, pulled on a long t-shirt and a pair of flannels and slipped into bed. As she lay on her back, she listened to the silence for several minutes. After tossing and turning she finally fell to a dreamless sleep.

When Kara opened her eyes again, she found herself shivering. Sitting up in bed she realized that all her covers had been stripped off and neatly laid on the floor beside the dresser. Glancing over to the door, she saw that it was completely closed. Fear suddenly seized her when she realized she could not hear anything. Panicking, she leapt out of the bed. As she raced for the door, she tripped over something and fell face down.

Struggling up onto her knees, with her nose bleeding from the fall, she looked back to see what had tripped her but saw nothing. Turning towards the door, she tried to get up to her feet, but her legs wouldn't respond. It felt as if something rubbery was wrapped around them.

Peering under her door, Kara saw bright red light glaring at her. Something was happening. Dad and Josh were in danger.

Letting out a silent scream of frustration and anger, Kara gave a sudden lurch towards the door. Reaching her hands out before her, she pressed her body against the door and reached down. Then she placed her hand on the doorknob to turn it, it was icy cold to the touch.

As soon as the door opened, Kara's bondage dropped away. She fell out into the hallway, and her silent world instantly became deafenly loud. Frantically looking down the hall, she saw Dad's door still closed as was Josh's. Josh was screaming.

With her heart pounding in her chest, Kara dashed down the narrow corridor, which had suddenly become endlessly long. Desperation drove her faster and faster until she finally reached Josh's room. As she tried to turn the door knob she was repulsed to find it covered with some kind of smelly slime, making it nearly impossible to open. She could hear Josh on the other side, screaming.

Tears were flowing down Kara's face as she pounded her fists on the door. "You get away from him, bitch!" she screamed.

Out of nowhere, Dad appeared beside her and kicked the door open.

They were taken back by what they were seeing. Every single object, with the exception of the crib, was floating in midair, rotating in a circular motion. Standing beside the crib was a tall, crooked, shadowy figure of a woman with no face.

Dad stood for a split moment, mouth wide open. "Holy Mary Mother of God!" he exclaimed. Kara then felt his hand on her shoulder. "Stay here."

He took a step forward but then retraced back to her, his face inches from hers. His eyes were sad and haunted. "I'm so sorry I didn't' believe you!" With that, he bolted across the bedroom toward Josh's crib and the shadow.

The objects were then hurling at him as he ducked to miss them.

Kara watched Dad as he finally reached the wooden crib and gathered the baby up in his arms. For a split second, he brought Josh close to him for a loving hug, and as he turned to go forward, he was struck from behind by a flying musical water globe. He landed on his side, absorbing the full impact of the fall from Josh. He peered over to Kara and she saw that his face was covered in blood.

"Take him, Kara!"

Being mindful of the flying objects swirling around in the air, Kara carefully crawled to Dad and took Josh from his arms.

"Go! Get away from this house!"

"I won't leave you, Dad!"

In that split moment, a look came over Dad's face that spoke louder than words. Kara looked over and behind him. Her eyes widened in horror as she saw that the shadow had a grasp on his legs, and the depthless black was inching up her father's body as if he was being slowly devoured.

This time when he spoke, his voice was calm but firm. "Kara, it's too late for me. You must save Josh and yourself."

He gave her a nudge towards the door. "I love you!"

Blinded by tears and with Josh in her arms, she shuffled on her knees to the door. Just as she cleared the threshold, she turned to take one last look at Dad and saw that he was already half consumed by the shadow of death and with that last vision of her dying father, the door slammed shut in her face.

"Daddy, no!"

Everything around her was starting to spin as she leaned against the wall, fighting to stay conscious. She needed to find help.

Struggling down the hallway and down the stairs, she made her way to the door outside when the ghost of Mary appeared before her. The white, transparent figure opened her mouth to speak. "Danger! Don't go!"

Shaking her head, Kara rushed past the slain girl and ran out of the house.

As soon as she stepped onto the lopsided porch, the door slammed shut behind her. All was silenced. The house was in complete and utter darkness. Backing away from the door, she stepped down the stairs and away from the porch. Looking up at the house, she saw that all the windows on the second floor had been closed by shutters; the same windows where the shutters were once broken or missing.

One thought kept racing through her mind and that was to find help.

Hugging Josh closer, Kara ran down the dark driveway to the rural highway. Glancing both ways she realized it could be hours before anyone would be driving by. What should she do? She then thought of the house nearby. Perhaps they would have a phone so she could call for help. Jogging briskly, she finally reached the one-story, tattered looking house, stumbled up the wobbly wooden steps and knocked on the door.

At first there was no response, but then the door slowly creaked partially open as an old woman's voice spoke. "Yes?"

"I'm sorry to be bothering you so late, ma'am! Would you have a phone I could use?" Kara stammered.

"Of course, my dear."

The door swung wide open as Kara stepped inside the dank smelling house. As soon as she heard the door shut a sudden wave of cold uneasiness washed over her. Even Josh was unusually quiet.

The only light in the house was originating from the fireplace in the living room. As she moved closer to the burning fireplace, she saw that the mantle was covered with pictures. There was one in particular that caught her eye: a picture of a family, a couple with two young children. Standing next to the family was a tall, stern looking woman. Next to this one, was a picture of the same woman, only she was younger. Standing next to her was another woman bearing the same resemblance, only she was hunched over and had a noticeable scar across one of her cheeks.

From behind Kara, she heard the floor board creak, and the old woman spoke in an eerie voice. "That was my sister and myself, taken so long ago. She died of a broken heart, you see."

Fearing that she already knew the answer, Kara whispered, "Who was your sister?"

"Her name was Ibis Crane."

The last thing Kara would remember hearing was the locking of the door.

Article © Carrie A. Golden. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-12-17
1 Reader Comments
Carrie Golden
09/23/2009
07:17:52 AM
Actually, I am planning on writing a sequel to this story...stay tuned!
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