Copyright © 2016 Val Day-Sanchez
All rights reserved.
There was a stillness that seemed to surround her. She could feel it even before she opened her eyes. A crisp chill in the air alerted her to the sudden change in seasons. She sat up and wrapped the quilt around her before making her way through the house. It seemed foreign at night, the familiarity and easiness of the day only seemed to be present with actually sunlight. Now dark, shadows and cold floors accented the creepiness that seemed to engulf her as she moved through the narrow hallway and down the stairs. It wasn’t merely the absent of light or the presence of the moon, there was something else, something there.
The exorcists had come and gone. They all collaborated the stories that there was in fact something, a presence. Some claimed they had removed it, rid the house of its otherworldly atrocities while others conceded that it had chased them out while it still very much remained. Her family had moved out but she remained. She seemed to be the only one that had felt a connection to it. While they had all feared it, she felt something more.
Her husband had begged and pleaded with her to leave. Even when he’d been loading the luggage into the car he still was adamant about them all leaving, as a family. He didn’t understand that she felt their family was already divided.
On the porch, surrounded by their thirty acres she envisions the horses snoring in the barn. In her mind she sees the chickens secured over their nest in their coop. She pictures the goats sleeping in the pasture. The pigs areinside, their mud waiting for them. The farm hasn’t had animals for a year but she knows it will again one day. Inadvertently her mind revisits the first killing.
She had risen early, not much unlike this morning, it was still dark outside but she had felt compelled to go to the barn. As soon as she reached the doors she knew something wasn’t right. The rope they used to secure the doors had been absent and although there was no breeze the door was swinging wildly back and forth, banging against the outside of the barn. She wondered how no one else had heard it, even the horses seemed to pay it no mind. She stepped into the barn, pulling the door closed behind her. The smell was what captured her first.
Blood possess an unmistakable scent,one that cannot be confused. She knew then that she shouldn’t continue without at least notifying her husband but something pulled her forward. Further into the barn, a dripping noise accompanied the potent scent. It only grew more tenacious as she approached the stalls. Holding up her lantern she saw why the horses had been so quiet. They had been filleted. Their bodies skinned, their necks barely still attached, their tongues hanging loosely out of their mouths, their corpses hanging above her, suspended with the rope from the barn door. In a panic she backed away, stumbling, she fell to the ground. Her body was accented with their blood that was dripping from the carcasses. She pulled herself up and began to run back to the house.
Her husband had been seated on the porch, pulling on his boots. He must of noticed she was absent from bed. How long had she been out here, she thought. The sun was beginning to rise. When he saw her, he ran to her meeting her in the field where she collapsed. “The horses,” was all she could say.
The horses were the first but the mutilations continued until no animals were left. The sheriff had officially labeled it a hoax, albeit unusually cruel but everyone in town attributed it to the haunting. Conspiracy theorist and ghost whisperers called day and night, wanting to camp out, see what they could see. The police reports were stolen from the station, replaced with photocopies, someone looking for signs or a message in the dead livestock. After the goats, she knew however that the being had moved on.
Her husband focused on their crops. The harvest was fast approaching and he was desperate to recoup their profits from the livestock. He hired hands from outlining counties, the folks from town refused to come near their property. She played obsessively with the children, trying to lift their spirits, distract them from all the death. One afternoon, during one of their exploratory hikes they stumbled across a tombstone, and then another, there were dozens of them, each protruding from the overgrown grass. The children had run screaming back to the house. All her weeks of convincing them that the house was not haunted undone. She wanted to chase after them, to explain how normal it was to have a family cemetery on such an old property but something held her back. She fell to her knees and began digging. She clawed through earth with her bare hands, her knuckles bruised and bleeding by the time she stopped. A tombstone with the name of the baby she had miscarried was scrolled upon it. “How could this be?” she thought aloud. That baby was buried in Brooklyn, nowhere near this place. The place that was to serve as their fresh start, their new beginning after their grief. Yet there it was the exact tombstone she and her husband had chosen for the baby they had lost. She tried to cover it up but her hands were forced to down to her sides.
“Remember!” A voice shouted and she felt herself propelled backwards, hitting her head hard on the ground.
When she came to the sun was setting, she cleaned her hands as best she could and began to walk back to the farmhouse. The children had been put to bed, her husband explained as he watched her. He watched her, as if she were a wild animal, unpredictable and therefore untrustworthy and then he became enraged. “They were petrified and you left them to fend for themselves.”
“I didn’t know what was up there.”
“But you figured it out didn’t you? You knew children, our children, had no business staying up there and yet you remained, chasing your ghosts.”
“I couldn’t leave and listen, I think the animals were just to get our attention. I think,” and then she paused because she knew he would hate what she was about to say but her conviction pushed her to continue. “It’s the baby, it’s Mason.”
At this, her husband’s face became contorted, a mixture of horror and despair rearranged his features. “Our baby is doing this? Slaughtering animals, terrifying his brother and sister? Do you hear yourself?”
“It’s know how it sounds but when I was pregnant he always communicated with me in a way the others didn’t. He was aware of himself in there. I could feel him, we were connected and I think he has more to say.”
“His time on this earth was complete, what more could a newborn say, what would he know?”
“Maybe he is trying to warn me.”
“Enough, I can’t do this. We moved here to begin anew, I can’t, the kids can’t and you shouldn’t want to. We had a horrible loss but this, what you’re doing, equating our child to the horrible acts that have financially ruined us, how can you?”
She could feel her husband retreating, pulling away from her, perhaps forever so she switched tactics. “You’re right but there is something. We need to have it removed if we’re going to have our fresh start.”
That was when they hired the exorcists and each time she waited to hear from Mason but he never came. After the third exorcist, one who had flown from the Vatican, could not remove the spirits she saw that she had been correct. The spirit had moved on from the mutilations of animals and began possessing thethe children. First it was her sweet daughter, who sat up on the kitchen table declaring that her mother, “remember.” Her husband had just left to collect supplies from town. Her son had clung to her legs as Clara’s body moved as though whatever inhabited it was far too large to be in her small body. After shouting at her, her daughter collapsed to the floor. She swooped her up in her arms and put her in bed, all the while searching for any sign of Mason.
When her husband returned home and saw Sarah sleeping, the bruises on her joints beginning to come into existence he had insisted that she take the kids and leave, he would meet up with them once the harvest was done. She had argued that she wasn’t sure if Clara was stable and didn’t want to risk travel. They moved the guest cots into Clara’s room and attached crucifixes on her bedroom walls. They all slept in there for the next couple of weeks with no incident. When they returned to their usual sleeping arrangements life had seemed once again normal. Her husband completed the harvest and was selling his crops. They were beginning to reduce their debt when her soncrawled into their room in the middle of the night. His back hunched, his mouth revealing a wide toothy grin that seemed to dislocate his jaw in order to appear. She felt it climbing up the bed and her and her husband immediately sat up in bedto see him. Her husband grabbed the double barrel shot gun that was learning against the nightstand and aimed it at the vile creature. “Be gone!” He had commanded and the creature turned his head, bones cracking as it did so, “Remember what you did!” And then their precious boy, his clavicle and both of his arms broken collapsed on their bed. Her husband dropped the gun, horrified at what he had done.They drove to the hospital, a social worker met with them, ready to remove him from their home. It was that evening that her husband committed to leave. The following morning he loaded up the car.
She sat on the porch, the quilt tightly wrapped around her and she tried to feel Mason, tried to summon him but she felt nothing. The idea of him being out there with the evil beings that had driven her family away sickened her but she didn’t know how to retrieve him. She would just wait, as long as it took until he found her again. She was his mother
Valerie Day-Sánchez enjoys reading and writing across genres, although young adult is her favorite at the moment. Threshold is her first attempt at Sci-Fi. Her other work consists of YA Fantasy Trilogy, Harlow Whittaker. She received both her B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University. Her love of the desert Southwest keeps her close to home although she loves to travel, especially when she gets a chance to try the local cuisine. Playing with her two sons and the family’s Boston Terrier, Winston, are how she occupies her time when she’ not writing.