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THE DEMON'S KEY -Chapter 1: The Will-

Here is chapter one of my soon to be released book THE DEMON'S KEY. Following a death in the family Shaun Pierson returns home and begins his journey down the paranormal rabbit hole of monsters, witches, family secrets, and vampires....don't forget about the vampires! Keep in mind that just like everything else that I write this contains strong language and violence. Enjoy!


1.

THE WILL


The Pierson farm, rural Ohio, late summer: The warm coffee cup sent a gentle roll of steam up into the cool morning air as Shaun Pierson, the eldest of three sons of Janet and Harold Pierson, sat on the front porch of his parent’s home.


Watching the sun slowly crawl up over the horizon as he sipped his coffee, Shaun began to realize just how much he had missed the calm and quiet stillness of living in the country. It was like a safety blanket that he had been without for too long. A safety blanket that he either couldn’t or didn’t want to see all those years ago when he left to join the Army right out of high school. A decision that had put him at odds with his family, especially when he had been sent to war.


Shaun’s entire family had been farmers for as far back as any of them could remember, right up to the point when the family had changed their name and immigrated to the United States from Ireland, joining family already there, escaping the great starvation of the mid 1800’s.


All through their lineage it was unheard of for a son not to take up the family profession, in one form or another. Both his younger brothers had, Erick managing a feed and farm store in the nearby town of Shipsville, and David working there on the farm full time.


That’s what made such a bitter pill to swallow even worse when, after fifteen years in the army, and several deployments to various combat hot zones around the world, he had opted to leave the military and join the Houston, Texas Police Department where he had made a name for himself as a member of their Tactical Police Team. A decision that had resulted in he and his father, and brothers, not speaking for five years, with only an occasional call from his mother.


In fact, the only member of Shaun’s immediate family who keep in touch with him on a regular basis, even coming for several visits, was his Uncle John. His father’s older brother, John Pierson, was a family black sheep just like Shaun. He too had left the farm and joined the Army, fighting in Korea and Vietnam before joining the Merchant Marines. Uncle John had traveled the world only to retire and move back to Ohio where he had a modest house not far from the farm.


Shaun and his Uncle John had always been close, a fact that was not lost on his parents. And one that made it difficult when he received the call from his mother telling him that his uncle had been killed in a car crash.


Shaun had received that call two weeks ago. Now, here he sat in a rocking chair on the front porch of his parent’s house, drinking coffee, and remembering the last time had he had seen his uncle. It was about six months ago when he had come to visit with him in Houston. Uncle John had spent a lot of the trip telling Shaun that his father Harold was a proud, stubborn, pain in the ass, but that he missed his son very much. Uncle John had almost begged Shaun to reach out and reconnect with his father.


There was an irony in the entire situation that it was the death of his uncle that brought his father and brothers, to an extent, back into his life.


“Good morning, Shaun, I thought I might find you out here.” Shaun’s Dad said in a gruff morning voice.


Shaun just nodded as his father gently sat in the chair next to him, cradling his own cup of coffee, “You know your Uncle John used to really enjoy sitting outside and watching the sun rise. In fact, we spent many a morning sitting right here doing that very thing.”


Shaun smiled as he thought back to the early mornings that he and his uncle had spent sitting, watching the sun rise during his visits to Texas, “Yeah, we would do the same when he came to visit. Except his coffee usually had a little something extra in it.”


Shaun’s smile turned to a slight laugh as his father grunted in agreement, reached into his flannel jacket, and produced a beaten-up old leather-bound flask.


“Don’t tell your mother.” Harold said as he poured some of the Irish whisky into his coffee, and then handed the flask to his son.


“You got it.” Shaun replied with a smile as he took a shot straight from the flask, and then poured some more into his coffee.


After a few more sips, and some quiet enjoyment of the sun rise, Shaun’s Father said, “Son, I need to tell you something.”


“Dad, what is it?” Shaun asked, seeing that his father was struggling with what he was about to say.


With a heavy breath Harold replied, “Son, I don’t think John’s death was an accident. I think he was murdered.”


“Murdered!?” Shaun replied in a low voice, “Why would you think that?”


His Dad took a big drink from his coffee, “I know that you and John were close. But there were some things about your uncle that you didn’t know---no one did. Except for your mom and I.”


“Things like what?” Shaun cautiously asked as he sat back in his chair.


“Well, when your uncle was over there in Vietnam, he ended up running around with some other soldiers from his unit collecting up relics.”


“Relics?” Shaun asked as he looked slightly sideways at his Father, “Jesus, Dad. Don’t tell me Uncle John was a grave robber.”


“No, no. At least I don’t think so. He always told me it was all on the up and up. Anyway, after the war he continued working with the same group of soldiers collecting artifacts from all over the damn planet.”


“Okay, wait.” Shaun interrupted, “I thought that Uncle John was in the Merchant Marines?”


“The Merchant Marines? Come on son, your uncle and I grew up on this farm---in the middle of Ohio. He didn’t even know how to swim! He just told people that so he would have a reason to be gone for long periods of time.”


“So why would he have lied to me all these years?”


“You know I asked him that very question, several times as a matter a fact.” Shaun’s Dad replied, “He told me that it was to protect you. I always assumed he meant because you were a police officer, but now---I just don’t know.”


“So, tell me why you don’t think his death was an accident.” Shaun said as he sat back in his chair, taking a long swig from his coffee.


“Shaun, your uncle was a cautious man. In the past months he really started taking it to the extreme. Finally, your mother and I sat him down and asked him what was going on. He told us that some of the people he used to work with had found something, he didn’t say what, just that it was something they had been trying to find for a long time. Anyway, shortly after they found, whatever it was, they all started dying under suspicious circumstances.”


“What do you mean by suspicious circumstances?” Shaun asked.


“Well, the way John told it, one of them who was a champion swimmer drowned in a pool. Another gentleman died of a massive heart attack two days after a yearly physical with his doctor, two of them just disappeared, while the last one, who was scared to death of heights, jumped to his death from a railroad bridge into a very deep ravine.”


“I don’t know Dad, that sounds a little flimsy to me.”


“Yeah, that’s what we said. The next day John walked in on a couple of people he didn’t know rummaging through his garage. He chased them off, called the police. The Sheriff said it was just some kids from Shipsville breaking into garages.”


“Uncle John didn’t buy that?” Shaun asked.


“No, no he didn’t. The next day he brought over a small lock box, asked if we would hold it for him, hide it. We did, it’s buried at the base of that oak tree you and your brothers used to climb in. He told us under no circumstances were we to open it, and not to bring it in the house. Two days later he was---gone.”


Harold stood and walked to the edge of the porch, his emotions getting the better of him. Wiping his eyes, and in a cracking voice he said, “They told us that John had gotten drunk in Shipsville and was driving home on Jensen Road when he passed out behind the wheel and swerved in front of a logging truck.”


“Jensen Road? Dad, that’s nowhere near the rout he would take to get home.” Shaun replied.


“No, it’s not.” Harold said as he took a few deep breaths, composed himself, and turned back to his son, “I mentioned that to the Sheriff’s Deputies who came out here to tell us about it. They just chocked it up to him being drunk and taking a wrong turn or two.”


“What sort of a follow up investigation did they do, do you know?”


Shaking his head, Harold replied, “They didn’t do anything that I know of. They just said he was driving drunk and caused the accident that killed him.”


“So, no one from the S.O. went and did any follow up at the bars in Shipsville?” Shaun asked, his anger beginning to rise.

“Not that I know of.”


“There’s only like what, four of them in town!? God damn lazy fuckers!” Shaun hissed as he ground his teeth.


“Sorry Dad.” Shaun said as he realized that he had just broken one of his deeply religious mother’s house rules about swearing and taking the lords name in vain.


“Don’t be son. I’ve filled your mothers swear jar more than once these past couple of weeks.


A look of confusion crept onto Shaun’s face as he looked up at his father, who was still visibly upset, “Dad, who else knows about the box that Uncle John gave you?”


“Besides me, just you and your mother.” Harold replied as he sat back down in the rocking chair next to Shaun.


“You didn’t tell Erick and Dave about this?”


“No, I didn’t.” Harold replied, somewhat sheepishly, “They’ve both go a lot on their plates right now, you know, Erick with the store, and Davey pretty much running the farm, I didn’t want them thinking their old man was going off the deep end.”


“I think that was the right call, Dad.” Shaun said as he patted his father on the knee, “Let’s just keep this between us for right now.”


Smiling, Harold grabbed his son’s hand, “I’m glad you’re here son. Come on, we better get ready for the service. We’re gonna meet your mother, Erick, and Davey at the church. Oh, and just so you know, your uncle left you his house and everything in it in his will.”


“Great.” Shaun replied as he shook his head and stood from his chair, “Uncle John always did like a good practical joke.”


“Yeah, he did!” Harold said with a slight chuckle as he stood from his chair and slapped his son on the back, “He really did.”


The service was a quiet, somber affair, as funerals usually are. After the burial Shaun and the rest of his family met with their uncle’s attorney, Mr. Listman, who administered the will. Uncle John’s estate was divided among his bother Harold, Janet, Erick, and David. No money was left to Shaun, but as his father had forecasted, Uncle John had left his house and all the contents to him.


As they concluded their business Listman stood and addressed Shaun as he handed him a large, sealed, manila envelope, “Shaun, your uncle wanted me to give you this. He left some pretty direct instructions that you were to open it in private, preferably at his house. Here are the keys.”


Under the watchful gaze of his two brothers Shaun took the envelope, along with the keys to his uncle’s house.


Their business concluded with the attorney, Shaun and his family walked out of the small office in downtown Shipsville and back towards their respective vehicles.


“What’s with all the cloak and dagger stuff?” Shaun’s brother David asked.


“You got me.” Shaun replied as he walked up to his dad’s old farm truck.


“I got a pretty good idea.” Erick sarcastically snipped as he walked past Shaun and their dad, headed to his own truck.


Shaun just clenched his teeth in silence as he watched his brother Erick storm off to his truck with David following close behind.


“Okay, what’s going on with Erick, what’s his problem?” Shaun asked as he got into the back seat of the truck, his parents seated in the front.


“Don’t read too much into it.” Shaun’s Mother replied as they pulled out of the parking lot, “He’s a little jealous of how close you and John were.”


“That’s not my fault.” Shaun said as he leaned back in the seat, “Ever since I got home, he’s been a jackass.”


“Your brothers been having a rough time of it lately. The feed store he manages has gone up for sale, he wanted to buy it, but the bank wouldn’t approve him for a loan. So, he went to your Uncle John and asked him to either loan him the money, or partner with him on the purchase.”


“Yeah, don’t tell me, Uncle John said no.”


“Yes.” Shaun’s Mother replied, “He said that he needed all of his available cash to finance some sort of an archeological dig. It really upset your brother.”


“I was thinking about selling off some of the farm to help him buy that store.” Shaun’s Father said as they turned onto a back road that led out of Shipsville and back to their farm.


“No, don’t do that dad, I may be able to help him out. I had a pretty good chunk of change when I got out of the Army. All those deployments had an upside after all. Anyway, I invested the bulk of it, and did pretty good.”


“Good for you son.” Shaun’s Dad replied as he looked into the side mirror of his truck.


“Yeah, it was Uncle John’s idea. He got me going in some stocks that he has---had. Say, Dad, what are you looking at so intently?”


“Very rarely do you see any other traffic on this road this time of the evening. We passed a car parked on the side of the road, it pulled out, and has been following us for about a mile now. I’m surprised you didn’t notice it, that’s kind of right up your alley, isn’t it?”


“That car is coming up pretty fast!” Janet said, sounding a little concerned.


“He sure is!” Shaun’s Father Harold replied as he adjusted his mirror, “And he just turned on his high beams too.”


“Dad, do you have a gun in here?” Shaun asked as looked back at the car, which was gaining on them, fast.


“No, I don’t.” Harold said as he pushed the accelerator of his old truck to the floor.


Looking out the back-window Shaun watched as the car, which was getting ready to overtake them, slowed its acceleration just a little and drifted to the outside lane.

“Holy shit!” Shaun muttered, “Dad, he’s gonna try and do a PIT!”


“A what!? What’s a PIT!?” Harold replied as his knuckles were turning white from his tightening grip on the steering wheel.


“Never mind. When I tell you, jam on the brakes as hard as you can. Then accelerate and turn to your left, into the other lane.”


“What! Son, what are you talking about!?”


“Just get ready, he’s gonna try and spin us out! Mom, do you have that flashlight I gave you?”


“Yes, in my purse.” Janet replied, her voice jumping from concern to fear.


“Let me have it.”


Janet reached into her purse and handed Shaun the small, very bright, tactical flashlight he had given his mother for Christmas last year.


“Get ready Dad!” Shaun said as he took the flashlight and rolled down the backseat driver’s side window.


Looking out his window and back at the pursuing car as it crept up in the left rear quarter panel of his dad’s truck, Shaun could see it was occupied by two men in the font, and at least one in the back, all of whom were wearing dark colored jackets.


Leaning out of his window just slightly, Shaun stared at the driver of the pursuing car, burning his face into his memory as it drifted to within inches of the truck.


Just for a second the driver of the pursuing car looked over at the truck. In that same instant, Shaun leaned out a little more and hit the butt-cap switch on the tactical flashlight, filling the cab of the car with 800 lumens of brilliant white light.


“Dad, now!” Shaun yelled, bracing himself in the back seat.


Harold took his foot off the gas and slammed it down on the brake pedal. The tires screeched and smoked as the truck fishtailed under the massive deceleration.


The pursuing car, whose driver had been blinded, just for a second by the brilliance of the flashlight, was now suddenly drifting directly in front of the truck.


With a yell, Harold jumped back on the gas, pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor. The old, but powerful truck, shuttered as it jumped forward. Doing just like his son had told him, Harold turned the wheel to the left. The nose of the accelerating truck pushed right past the back right quarter-panel of the car, forcing it into an uncontrolled spin. A spin which ended off in the ditch.


“Oh, my dear lord!” Janet exclaimed as she grabbed her husband’s shoulder.


“Good driving Dad!” Shaun said as he patted his father on the shoulder, “When we get home let’s park the truck in the garage, get inside the house, and call the Sheriff.”


Erick and David were sitting on the front porch of the house when their dad came hauling ass up the driveway in his truck, which he brought to a skidding stop right in front of the detached garage.


They knew something was wrong when they saw their mom emerge from the cloud of dust kicked up by the truck, her cell phone pinned to her ear, as she marched right past her two sons, and into the house.


“Dad, what’s going on? Are you okay?” Erick asked as his father, who had left Shaun to park the truck, hurried up the walkway to the house, chasing after his wife.


“Come on boys, let’s get inside.” Harold said as he corralled up his two sons.


As Erick and David walked in the front door with their dad, they could hear their mother finishing up a call she had made on her cell phone, “Yes, I understand. We’ll stay right here, thank you Denise.”


“That was Denise over at the Sheriff’s office. She’s sending someone right over.” Janet said as she set her cell phone on a coffee table.


“Sheriff’s office!? Dad, what’s going on?” Erick asked in a slightly forceful tone.


“Someone tried to run us off the road.” Harold replied as he sat on a couch next to his still somewhat shaken up wife.


“What! Who? Where?”


“I don’t know who it was son. It was on Old Steelhead Road. We passed a car parked on the side of the shoulder, they started to follow us, and then they tried to run us into the ditch. If your brother hadn’t been there---they would have gotten us.”


“Oh my God, are you guys okay?” David asked.


“Yeah, little shaken up, but were okay.” Janet replied.


“Mom, did you get a look at them? Can you identify them?” Erick asked as he sat on the other side of his mother on the couch.


“No, we didn’t. I think Shaun did though. Say, where is Shaun anyway? He was gonna park the truck and come right in.”


Just then the front door opened and in walked Shaun with a very angry look on his face, “We got a problem!”


“What’s this?” Harold asked as Shaun handed him a small, black, metallic box.


“That is a GPS tracker.” Shaun replied as he sat in one of the living room chairs, “I pulled it off the underside of the rear bumper of your truck. I was taking some pictures of the damage when I saw the blinking red light coming from the bumper.”


“I don’t understand.” Harold said as he handed the GPS unit to Erick.


“Shaun, you’re sure that this is a GPS tracker?” Erick asked.


“Very sure.” Shaun replied, “I’ve used the exact same model myself more than once.”


“Shaun, what’s that mean?” Janet asked.


“It means one of two things Mom. Either law enforcement put that on your truck to keep tabs on where you and Dad are coming and going from, or someone else did. Now, due to the fact that it was not put in the right location, and no one bothered to put a piece of black tape over that stupid red light, I’m guessing it was not the police. My money would be on the fellas that tried to run us off the road.”


“Dad, Mom, I need to tell you something.” Erick said as he ran his hands through his hair, “The other day…”


Erick’s comment was cut short by the headlights of a car pulling up in front of the house through the front window.


“Dad, the Sheriff’s here. Looks like J.R.” David said as he peered out the curtains.


“Hold that thought son, let me go talk to J.R. about this. I’ll be back in a minute.” Harold said as he and his wife stood from the couch and headed out the front door.


Taking a deep breath Erick exhaled, and looked up to see Shaun looking right at him, “You got something you need to enlighten us on Erick?”


Before Erick could answer, their father stuck his head back in through the front door, “Shaun, he needs to talk to you.”


Standing, Shaun walked in front of his brother Erick, “Hey, I know you’re pissed at me, and that’s okay. But you and I, were on the same team.”


Shaun then walked out front to give his statement to the Sheriff’s Deputy.


After several minutes Shaun and his parents came back inside as the Deputy pulled away from their home.


“You had something you needed to tell me son?” Harold asked as he and his wife sat back down on the couch.


“No, it’s nothing that can’t wait.” Erick said as he stood, “If you guys are gonna be okay, David and I are gonna take off.”


“Yeah, we’re fine!” Harold replied, “It’s getting late, you boys better head home. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”


Both Erick and David gave their folks a hug, and then headed to the front door.


“I’ll see you tomorrow.” Erick said as he walked past Shaun.


“Remember what I said.” Shaun replied as Erick nodded, patted him on the shoulder, and walked out the front door.


As Erick and David, who both had apartments in Shipsville, pulled away from the house, Shaun sat back down in the old, broken-in leather chair in the corner of the living room.


“Your mother doesn’t usually allow it, but I think today we can make an exception.” Harold said as he handed his son a glass of whisky, “I’m glad you were there today son.”


“I’m glad I was too.” Shaun said as he raised his glass to his father.


“Dad, those guys in that car. They were not kids screwing around like that Sheriff’s Deputy J.R. suggested. The way they handled that car, the way they were dressed---they were professionals of some sort.”


“Why didn’t you say anything to J.R.?” Harold asked as he took a sip of his whisky.


“Trust me, the last thing we need is some big city cop coming in and telling the local Sheriff’s Deputy how to handle his business. Though I did like his answer to the GPS tracker.”


“Yeah.” Harold replied with a slight chuckle, “Kids these days are sophisticated? What the hell does that even mean!”


“It means he’s out of his depth and grasping at straws.” Shaun replied with a smile.


“J.R.’s a good guy. He’s just old and stuck in his ways, that’s all.” Harold said with a grin.


“Dad, could this have had anything to do with Uncle John? Some of the shit---sorry, stuff he was involved in?”


“I don’t know son.” Harold replied as he finished his drink, “It sure does seem a little coincidental doesn’t it.”


“Yes, it does.” Shaun replied as he too finished his drink, “I’m gonna get some sleep. See you in the morning.”


It was three o’clock in the morning when Shaun’s eyes snapped open as he yanked at and threw the covers from his bed. He didn’t have nightmares very often, but when he did, they were usually very intense.


Throwing his legs over the side of the bed, he took several deep breaths as he looked around the room, processing where he was. With his mood hoovering right between panic and rage, it took a few seconds for him to fully come out of his dream and recognize where he was.


One final deep, staggered breath followed by a controlled exhale, Shaun’s anxiety began to abate. Shaking his head, he could feel his heart rate slowing as he looked at the pile of covers from his bed on the floor across the room.


With a groan, and the popping of his joints as he stood, Shaun started to collect the bed linens from the floor when he heard a soft banging noise coming from the kitchen.


Standing very still in the darkness of his room he listened. Like the volume on a radio in another room being slowly turned up, he could hear what sounded like muffled voices coming from the kitchen as well.


All of the hairs on his arms started to stand straight up as the muffled voices seemed to turn to a low, almost guttural, giggling laugh.


A sense that he was hearing something that he was not meant to hear permeated his thoughts. Thoughts that were driven into fight mode when the laughter turned to a high-pitched scream!


Quickly pulling on a pair of sweatpants, Shaun grabbed a Glock 22 pistol from his pack along with a second magazine for the .40 caliber pistol and dropped it into the pocket of his sweatpants.


Moving quietly from his room on the second floor of his parent’s two-story farmhouse, Shaun, his pistol at the ready, navigated his way down the hall, and then down a set of stairs to the first floor.


A cold chill flooded across his entire body as he moved up to the corner of the kitchen. Stopping short of entering the open kitchen he could hear what sounded like a person humming a tune that he recognized, but just couldn’t place.


Pulling his pistol straight back against his chest Shaun exhaled as he took a deep step around the corner and into the kitchen. Pushing the gun forward from his body, his lungs filling with oxygen as he got ready to start barking commands at the intruder, Shaun stopped, stunned into inaction at the sight of the woman standing before him behind a kitchen island, repeatedly stabbing a large knife into a cutting board.


“Mom!?” Shaun asked in a shocked tone as he lowered the muzzle of his handgun.


The woman in front of him, her head down, and wearing what looked like a tattered, white dress from the early 1900’s, slammed the knife into the cutting board and stopped.


She let out a few low, muffled grunts, her arms twitching in unison, before looking up at Shaun. The woman’s features were that of his mother Janet, but her face was pale and gaunt. Her cheek bones protruding, her lips dry and cracked, and her teeth looked yellow and rotted. The woman’s red, stringy hair hung across the front of her face obscuring two dull black eyes which just stared at Shaun as she began to smile.


A short, disjointed giggle like that from a child erupted from the woman as her grip tightened on the large kitchen knife, she had stabbed into the cutting board.


The giggle stopped as the smile left the woman’s face. Her eyes narrowing with a look of distain suddenly crawling across her face.


“Hello, Shaun.” The woman said in a deep, raspy male voice, reminiscent of a lifetime smoker.


Stunned, Shaun just stood there trying to make some sense of what it was he was looking at. His moment of disbelief felt like it went on for minutes when in fact it had only lasted a few seconds when he was called back to reality by the voice of his Father behind him, “What the hell is going in here!?”


As Harold walked around the corner and into the kitchen he stopped just behind his son, “Shaun? What are you doing in here?”


Shaun turned and looked at his father, who took a step back when he saw the look in his son’s eyes, and the pistol he was holding in his hands.


“Shaun, are you okay? What’s going on? Why’s the front door standing open?” Harold asked as he cast his gaze around the kitchen.


Without answering Shaun turned back to the woman he had confronted int the kitchen, only to see that she had disappeared. He then looked at the open front door and in flash took off at a sprint through the living room, out the front door, and onto the porch.


Looking off into the darkness of the property Shaun could see, walking away from the house and towards the large tree where his father had buried his uncle’s box, Shaun saw the woman. She stopped, looked back at Shaun, and smiled, then continued walking towards the tree.


With a grunt, and in his bare feet, Shaun started to run off the porch in pursuit of the intruder when he was stopped by a yell from his father who had come out onto the porch, “Shaun, don’t!”


Shaun stopped and turned back towards him, the look on his son’s face made Harold take a short step back and swallow hard. It was a look of rage and anger rolled into a tight little ball ready to explode.


“What the fuck was that!” Shaun yelled standing on a gravel parking area in front of the porch.


“Please son, come back inside.” Harold said, trying to keep a calm voice as he looked all around them.


“That thing looked like Mom! It knew my name!”


“I know son.” Harold replied in a calming, steady voice as he waved for Shaun to come back up onto the porch, “Just please, come back inside.”


With one last look off into the darkness, Shaun muttered a string of profanity as he walked back up onto the porch.


“Dad, what-the-hell was that?” Shaun asked as he followed his father back into the house.


“Grab a chair son.” Harold said as he shut and locked the front door, and then ambled off into the kitchen.


“Dad, what are you doing?” Shaun asked as he sat in one of the living room chairs, setting his pistol and extra magazine on the coffee table in front of him.


“Putting on a pot of coffee.” Harold replied, “No sense in going back to sleep now.”


Still muttering to himself, and looking up at the ceiling, Shaun’s Mother Janet came walking out into the living room.


“Shaun?” Janet said, walking into the living room as she tied her robe.


“Where’s your father?” Janet asked in a concerned tone as she looked at the handgun sitting on the coffee table in front of her visibly disturbed son.


“I’m in here dear!” Harold hollered as Shaun pointed at the kitchen.


“Harold, what’s going on? Is everything okay?” Janet asked as her husband came out of the kitchen carrying two cups of black coffee.


“Oh, yes.” Harold replied as he handed a cup of the coffee to his son, and then offered the other one to his wife, who politely passed.


Sitting on the couch Harold took a sip from his coffee, “Shaun had a run in with---her.”


“Oh my God!” Janet replied, “What happened? Shaun, honey, are you okay?”


“He’s fine dear.” Harold said as Shaun just looked at both his parents with an almost deer in the headlights look on his face, “It was in the house, Shaun chased it away.”


“What do you mean it was in the house!?” Janet shot back, her voice pinging with an uncharacteristic shrill anger that Shaun was not used to hearing, “He said that it wouldn’t be able to come into the house!”


“Hmm, I know.” Harold said as he took another drink of his coffee, “It was in the kitchen playing with one of your cooking knives.”


“Well, that’s just grand!” Janet said in a huff as she looked into the kitchen, her tone receding back to its unassuming country housewife vibe, “I’ve got to clean the entire kitchen now.”


“Oh, come on now, that can wait.” Harold said with a slight smile and nod to his son, “Here, sit down, let me get you a cup of coffee. It’s been a long time since the three of us were able to watch the sun come up.”


With a deep breath and a smile Shaun’s Mother sat on the couch as his father went to make her a cup of coffee.


Still trying to wrap his head around what he had seen, Shaun just watched in silence, his mouth slightly agape, as his father sat on the couch next to Janet, handing her a cup of coffee.


Looking at his parents like he was looking at two complete strangers Shaun furrowed his brow, took a drink of coffee, and adjusted himself in the chair, “Uh, what the hell is going on?”


The frankness of his questions caught Harold and Janet a little bit off guard.


“Well, son, it’s a little hard to explain.” Harold started to say.


“Dad, I have seen some freaky shit in my time.” Shaun said as he set his coffee cup on the table next to his pistol, “But nothing like that!”


“Shaun!” His Mother said in a slightly hushed tone in protest to his language.


“It knew my name!” Shaun said in a frustrated tone as he sat forward in the chair.


“It spoke to you?” Janet replied in a confused tone as she looked at her husband.


Harold just nodded as he took another drink of his coffee, “Listen son, it’s our understanding that it’s some sort of a---spirit. It first showed up after I buried that box for your Uncle John. At first it was just out in yard by the tree the box is buried next to. It only came out at night and never came near the house. Then, after John was killed, it came up onto the porch a couple of times. We had a priest come out and bless the house. He said that it wouldn’t be able to come inside.”


“A spirit?” Shaun said as he sat back in his chair.


“Really more like an evil spirit.” Janet calmly said as she took a sip from her coffee.


Janet and Harold just looked at each other, then back at their son, who was looking up at the ceiling.


“It’s a lot to process, I know.” Harold said in his best comforting, fatherly voice.


“Shaun, honey, are you okay?” Janet asked, sitting forward towards her son.


“It knew my name!” Shaun replied, “How did it know my name?”


“I don’t know son.” Janet replied as she looked at Harold, “It’s not supposed to be able to talk.”


With a deep breath, and a heavy exhale, Shaun stood, “Thanks for the coffee. If it’s okay, I’m gonna go lay back down for a bit.”


“Of course.” Harold replied as Shaun reached for his coffee cup, “Don’t worry about that son, I’ll get it. You go get some sleep, clear your head.”


Collecting his handgun Shaun headed back up to his room.

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