Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Friday the 13th - Part 2

"Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th!" The phrase popped up Lola's head.

But if you don't believe in superstitions...they can't come true. That's what she's always believed.

"Lucy! Lucccyyy!"

She ran into the park, the dark street giving away to a parking lot, the parking lot giving away to grassy field. Lucy was sniffing at a figure  sitting on long bench - the type of bench made for soccer or baseball players to sit on.

"Lucy, come here!" She tried to speak authoritatively, but her voice betrayed her; it was weak and begging.

Lucy, of course, did not listen, instead, she was whining like she did when she wanted another dog to play with her.

Lola had no choice but to walk toward the figure, and as she got closer, the figure came into a focus. A young man, about her age, smoking a cigarette. He didn't look harmful, but then again, neither did Ted Bundy, a serial killer her grandmother talked about anytime should could. Ethel claimed she saw him hitchhiking back in 1975 while she was on a ski vacation in Colorado, almost stopped to pick him up, but, though he was clean cut and good looking, something in her gut made her keep driving. Soon after that, a girl went missing from that area and was found weeks later, naked, dead.

"You're knew here, aren't you?" The young man asked her.

"How did you know? Is it that small of a town?" Lola inched toward Lucy, ready with the leash.

"Nah, it's your accent.  I hear an accent. I'm Asa, by the way."

"I'm from the midwest. Illinois. That's the accent you're hearing. I came here to be the head baker at the church they are turning into a restaurant.  I'm Lola, and this is..."

"Lucy," Asa grinned.

He had such a relaxed face, a relaxed manor, that Lola felt the tension melt away from her shoulders. She quickly clipped Lucy to her leash. 

"Well, it was nice meeting you. I have to get back home."  A gust of wind sent dehydrated brittle leaves scurrying across the blacktop behind them.

"Lola," Asa took a long drag on his cigarette.


St. James Church and graveyard Chalfont Pa
"No one told you that the plans to turn St. James into a restaurant fell through?" He breathed out a long low line of smoke that smelled like cherries.

"You must be mistaken," Lola said.  "Or confused. I'm certain of it. The company paid for me to relocate here. They paid for my apartment for six months."

Asa's face suddenly softened. "Maybe I am wrong. Things in this town change so quickly lately. Call your company first thing in the morning, I hope I am wrong. We need some good, honest, people like you and your grandmother in this town. Not that there are bad people. Most people are good, they are just tired of the walls."

"The walls?"

A loud wail pierced through the night. Lola jumped and Lucy howled.

"Fire siren," Asa said. "You'll get used to it. And you'll get used to the train whistle around 2am every night." 

"I better go." Lola gave Lucy a quick pull and started to back away. How did Asa know about her grandmother? She was sure she hadn't mentioned it. Or had she? Either way, she was starting to feel itchy and wanted to hop in the shower and throw her clothes in the laundry and make sure all traces of the spider and spider web were gone.

And he had to be wrong about the restaurant. Surely they wouldn't have allowed her pull up her roots and leave the only place she had ever known to travel from the Midwest to the East Coast?

"Nice meeting you!" Asa called at her retreating figure.

"You too," Lola called back, the words somehow managed to work their way around the lump in her throat.

"Mom, Dad, please give me a sign that we've made the right choice." Though she said she didn't believe in signs, she never gave up hoping that somehow her parents would be able to communicate with her somehow.

The sky was black velvet now. The only light came from the front windows of the homes along the road. The air was still, yet, leaves scurried around her ankles.

She made sure to walk in the middle of the street, afraid of running into any more spider webs.

Just as the parking lot of the Patriot Station apartments came into view, the lights tall and welcoming, two bats flew so close in front of her, she could feel the wind of their wings across her face.

A scream pierced the air - but it wasn't her. It was coming from the apartments.
"Grandma!" She thought - and the spider web, Asa's warning, and the bats disappeared from her mind as she and Lucy ran towards the screaming.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Friday The 13th - Part 1

People started dying mysteriously in the somewhat sleepy but growing town of Chalfont  a week before Halloween.

But prior to the untimely deaths of some of the most well known people in town, odd things started happening.

Not everyone noticed, and certainly, not very many people even mentioned them; who wants to be labeled a kook or crazy?

Foxes were seen in the middle of the day, scurrying along the sidewalks on Main Street as if headed to the train station to catch the mid-day train to Philadelphia. Some residents noticed dark stains in their driveways. At first, they thought it was perhaps a leaky oil spot from their car. But as the weeks of October spun by, the black stains also appeared on the roads and they began to turn lighter, until they turned from the color of eggplant to the color of deep red pickled beets. Dogs and cats would refuse to go near the stains, staying clear of them, they would walk around them, or cross to the other side of the street.

The fire sirens would wail though the air, shaking the last of the autumn leaves off the trees, but none of the volunteers would respond to the station, because ever since the 1st of October, the siren seemed to have a mind of its own. The fire Chief would call the 911 dispatch center and the dispatch center would double check to make sure they didn't have a fire call waiting, and when they were sure, the Chief would text message the volunteers. Who were at the same time relieved not to have to stop what ever they were in the middle of; putting groceries away, picking the kids up from boyscouts, sleeping, to being disappointed; after all, it was the challenge, and adrenaline,of fighting a fire,  that led them to become a volunteer in the first place.
Three times different technicians had been called out, all of them from different companies, and they could find nothing wrong with the siren.

The neighbors who lived near the fire station were not happy and would call the Chalfont Borough manager, Randy, a short plump woman with the soothing, smooth voice of a nurse.
"I'm sorry the siren went off twice in the middle of the night. We are continuing to work on the problem, Mr. Packer," Randy said to one of those neighbors who had called.  "Again, I'm so sorry. Thank you for your patience." Randy hung the phone softly into the cradle, then looked over at Janey, the borough secretary, "If you don't like the siren going off, don't move into a house with a fire-station right in your back yard!" Randy and Janey snickered at each other.  It was a long running joke between the two of them, and they had perfected the mask of caring when residents complained about anything, and as soon as the residents left, they would roll their eyes and snort, snicker, or sigh.

It was Friday the 13th when Lola and Ethel Hobbs moved into the brand new apartment building called Patriot Station. Their apartment looked out at the St. James church, an old Lutheran Church that was going to be turned into a restaurant.

Ethel was a sprightly 65 years old, dyed her long hair red and kept it up in a bun. She wore mostly yoga pants and long t-shirts, and never went anywhere without lipstick on her lips and a silver cross around a chain on her neck. Though Ethel was in great shape, (probably the best of her life, she told anyone who admired her slim figure) she smoked Pall Mall's, and though she couldn't communicate with the dead, she often knew when ladies were pregnant before they did, when someone was going to die, or when something bad was going to happen. And she was highly superstitious, which is why she made her grand-daughter, Lola, wear a sliver cross around her neck, and both of them carried lucky stones in their pockets.

Lola didn't believe in ghosts or spirits - for if there were such a thing, wouldn't her grandfather or her mother or father have reached out from the dead to comfort her? At age 25, Lola only had her grandmother left, her only family in all of the world, well, other than Lucy, her 4 year old yellow lab that had followed her home one day. Lola called the number on the heart shaped dog tag, but it was out of order. She called the police and shelters. And after a month of no responses, she gave her whole heart to Lucy. Her grandmother did not like dogs, but Lola won her over by pointing out that the dog was already named Lucy. "Ethel and Lucy. It was meant to be."
And so Ethel, who fully believed in signs, and also believed the dog was somehow a gift to shift the pain and hurt away from Lola losing her parents in a car accident, came to love Lucy just as fiercely as Lola loved her.

"I'm taking Lucy for a walk before it gets totally dark, do you want to join us?" Lola, standing in the new living room, among very few boxes, asked her grandmother.

"No, I'm just going to keep going through these boxes," said Ethel.

"You're going to smoke on the balcony, aren't you?" Lola sighed as she attached the leash to Lucy's collar.

"Who? Me?" Ethel laughed.

"Just try not to get caught. We don't want to tick off our neighbors even before we meet them."

"You be careful." Ethel looked out the front window as the street lights started to glow. "I have a bad feeling. And not just because it's Friday the 13th."

Patriot Station in Chalfont - Former Home of POSA
Lola and Lucy walked down the street behind Patriot Station. There were no sidewalks so she kept to the middle of the road, suddenly aware she was wearing all black - but her tennis shoes and Lucy's leash were reflective.

She walked toward the small park that they had driven by when they checked out the neighborhood before moving in. The park was at the end of the street, near an old, crumbling building with boarded windows that reassembled a school.

Lucy tugged her way to the side of the street so she could pee on a fire hydrant and mailboxes. The night seemed quiet, peaceful, the street seemed cozy, with nice homes and trimmed lawns, yellow lights glowed behind windows. But as they got closer to the park, Lola noticed the scent of cigarette smoke and something foul, like a wet mulch pile, musty, earth, bitter.

As they neared the park, Lola saw a bright red ember hover almost magically in the air. But common sense told her it was only someone smoking - it was the light from a cigarette.

Still, she didn't want to take a chance on how friendly this person in the park would be, not when it was now dark and she was new to the town.

Lola made a u-turn in the road, and as she did, she walked right into a spider web. "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god." She tried not to scream. She hated spiders.

She could feel the fine silk web in her hair, clinging to her neck. A chill ran up her the back of her neck. Quickly one of her hands flew to her neck, suddenly thinking a spider was scurrying down her spine.  She dropped the leash so she could use her other hand to tear away the strands of web around her face.

"Stay Lucy, stay." Her voice wavered and then Lucy started to run away, headed straight toward the park and they mysterious light.

Lola tried to stomp on the leash as it slithered like a snake across the pavement, but she missed and Lucy was now barking and had run into the park.

A new kind of panic set in as she forget about the spider, the web, and ran after Lucy. She would never forgive herself if anything happened to Lucy.

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