by Joe Solmo
Brandon pulled the keyring from his pocket of his worn blue jeans. Kristie danced impatiently from foot to foot behind him in the cold morning air. “Hurry up Brandon, its freezing out here,” she said as a cloud of her frozen breath escaped her mouth.
“First thing we are going to have to do is change the locks. This key isn’t working right,” Brandon said over his shoulder back at his fiancé.
“I just hope the heat is turned on. I can’t believe you went out and got us a house without letting me see it first,” she said and rubbed her arms.
“It’s more romantic that way. Besides… it’s all my money,” Brandon said as the key finally did its job and the lock clicked. He swung the door open and turned towards Kristie. “Shall I carry you over the threshold?” he asked.
“Not until we get married, Bran. Let’s just get warm,” Kristie said and pushed passed him. He heard her boots click on the hardwood floors of the living room. “This place is huge,” he heard her say from deep within the house. It put a smile on his face that she liked the house he picked out. He entered and closed the door behind him.
“How much did you pay for this place, Bran?” she asked as he entered the kitchen behind her. She ran her hands over the granite countertop. It was so smooth.
“Now don’t you worry about that,” he replied and wrapped his arms around her. She squealed and started to giggle.
“How can we afford this place?”
“I got it all covered. I have been saving up for a while now. If I take some overtime down at the shop every week we should be fine. I talked to Sam he said I can work Saturdays,” Brandon said.
“It’s beautiful. When do we move in?” she asked.
“As soon as we are done here. I got the truck for the whole day,” he said back. “This is going to be great. We can now start a family,” Brandon finished. She smiled back at him and kissed him on the mouth making a loud smacking noise with her lips when they separated.
“Let’s go! You know I don’t have much at my moms,” she said and skipped towards the front door. Brandon watched her go. It wasn’t just to see her backside, although it was quite impressive. It was her youthfulness that really attracted him to her.
They had met in high school, he was a senior, but she was only a freshman. They didn’t really talk until Kristie’s mom had to bring her car into the shop Brandon worked at after graduation. They were nearly inseparable ever since. He followed her out the door.
Night fell across the town early in the wintertime, it was only 6:30pm but the streetlights have come on already when they pulled up in Sam’s borrowed truck full with their possessions. Brandon backed it right up to the front door so they didn’t have to walk as far.
“Come on babe, let’s get this stuff inside. We need to christen each room you know,” Brandon said patting Kristie on the behind.
“Once we get this stuff inside I’m going to be too tired,” she said and watched the smile leave Brandon’s face. “Well maybe two rooms,” she said coyly.
They carried boxes inside and placed them in the rooms written on the outside. They didn’t have much in the way of furniture. They were using lawn chairs temporarily in the living room. It would take another week or so for Brandon to get enough money up to get a couch from one of those rental places.
“You know Bran, I was thinking now that we have our own house, that maybe I should get a job,” Kristie said as she placed a milk crate down in the living room. Brandon placed the T.V. on top of it. At least they had a flat screen and not one of those old heavy T.V.’s he thought to himself.
“I’ll bring the truck back tomorrow. Why don’t we order a pizza and get cleaned up,” Brandon said kissing his fiancé.
“Sounds good to me, I could use a hot shower,” Kristie said and headed up the stairs. Brandon ordered a pizza quick and followed her up.
He could hear the shower running as he entered their bedroom. He started to assemble the wooden frame before he lacked all ambition. He just finished when he heard a knock on the door. He raced downstairs to get the pizza.
After they were full they made their way to the bedroom. He was glad he had finished putting the bed together. They hopped onto the mattress and started to get undressed.
Brandon awoke sometime in the night. He sat up and looked around their bedroom. It was like a dream come true. He turned back to his bride to be and smiled. He threw on his pants and headed down to the kitchen to grab himself a drink. He hoped there was a beer or two left over. Nothing was as good as a cold beer after sex, he thought.
He let out a wahoo when he opened the fridge and saw there was plenty left. He grabbed a bottle and twisted the top off. He took a long pull off the bottle before leaning against the counter looking over the boxes he had yet to unpack. A chore that he really didn’t mind having to do. Being out on their own was worth it, even if they didn’t have much.
He didn’t mind Kristie’s parents, well her foster parents, even thought they had split up both of them continued to be a part of her life. She had lived with her foster mother since they divorced two years ago. Sometimes Kristie would tell him he that she wanted to know her real parents, but she had no way of knowing. He foster parents refused to help her.
Brandon heard a thump from upstairs. “Babe?” he called out, but only silence followed. He put his beer down on the counter and moved towards the stairs. He heard no movement upstairs. “Maybe it’s the house settling,” he said and went back to his bottle.
A louder thump came from upstairs, this time with a scream. It was not the house settling. He ran for the stairs but a half dozen steps up he froze. Standing at the top of the stairs was a black form, its eyes glowed red with hatred. “Intrusus,” it said in a guttural voice.
Brandon felt his knees give out and he fell back onto the hard kitchen floor. He slid into the corner of the cabinets. Brandon was paralyzed with fear, but he heard something coming down the stairs and Kristie was screaming. He couldn’t turn his head to look. He listened as the noise went through the kitchen to the hall and then he heard a door open and slam shut. Then there was only silence.
It took him another minute before he could move. He got to his feet and called out to Kristie, but he heard no reply. He ran into the Hall and looked for her. He saw a small blood trail leading to the basement door. He grabbed a flashlight in the living room and headed towards the basement door.
He placed his hand on the knob and yanked it open, not sure what to expect, but only darkness greeted him. He shone the light on the wooden basement steps. He say the same blood trail leading down into the abyss.
“Kristie!” he called out. There was no reply. He took a test step down and waited, for what he wasn’t sure. He continued down into the darkness. He had never been in the basement before. When he came to look over the house he had Sam look over the furnace and other things in the basement. His boss knew more about those kind of things. Now he wished he had gone down those stairs before, to know what he was walking into.
He reached the bottom of the stairs and shone the light around the basement. He followed the trail of blood that led off to the right from the stairs. A moment later he came to a wooden wall, with a door built in with odd symbols painted in a black paint on it.
Brandon paused and took a deep breath. The hairs on the back of his neck rose and he felt rooted in place. What if the thing he saw at the top of the stairs was in here? What if it had Kristie? He looked around on the old wooden shelves for some kind of weapon, although he didn’t know what good it would do.
Brandon found a crowbar and picked it up with his left hand. He shined the light on the door that lead deeper into the basement. The symbols written in black paint there looked foreboding to him. He couldn’t place why, just something primordial told him to run, leave Kristie and run. He couldn’t leave her though. She was the only thing that made existence worth it for him.
He took a deep breath, trying to gather his resolve and grabbed the handle on the wooden door. It was hot to the touch and he yanked his hand back. He used a rag he found to grab it a second time and yanked it open.
Dancing flames met him, the heat off of which assaulted him immediately. He saw Kristie, surrounded by a ring of fire. Her legs bound at her slender ankles and her hand tied behind her back with some kind of leather strap. She was still naked from their foray earlier, her short cropped blond hair sticking to her face with sweat generated by the heat.
“Kristie!” he called and took a step closer to her. Kristie’s head snapped towards him.
“No Brandon. Stay back!” she called out with panic in her voice.
A shadow moved off to the left, Brandon barely caught the movement out of the corner of her eyes. “Intrusus,” the thing said towards him.
“Kristie, are you ok?” Brandon said facing the shadow and sidestepping towards the circle of flame.
“I…I’m ok,” she said. Brandon run. Just run!” she said.
“I can’t leave you,” he said back and watched the shadow move closer. Somehow it was darker than the blackness behind it.
“Lex debet incipere,” it said in its hateful voice.
“What does it want?” Brandon asked his fiancé. He could feel the heat on his bare back. He was only a few feet from the flames.
“I don’t know. I don’t understand it,” she said.
“Can you move? If you were free?” Brandon asked.
“In regeneratione, et non cessaverunt,” the creature said and moved closer to Brandon taking a swipe at him with a shadowy claw.
“Fuck off,” he said as he ducked back. The flames nearly licking his flesh. He shone the light from the flashlight on the creature and it wailed and recoiled back into the recesses of the chamber.
Brandon put the flashlight in his mouth, keeping it trained on the last place he saw the creature. He dug into his jeans front pocket. He fumbled for a few seconds.
“Where did it go?” Kristie called out. Brandon pulled his hand out of his pocket and smiled with success. He held his pocketknife up in the light from the flames. He looked down at his bare feet and sighed. This was going to hurt.
He gave one more quick glance around for the creature before leaping over the flames. They burned his feet and the bottom of his jeans and he bit his tongue to keep the scream inside. He cut the leather holding her hands. Suddenly the flames died out. The room sank into darkness.
“Here,” Brandon said placing the knife in Kristie’s hands. “Cut yourself loose.” He shone the flashlight around the room. The light slowly dying as the battery was drained of life. As it dimmed he saw the red hateful eyes from the creature in the corner of the room. It was moving side to side as if brimming with energy but no way to expel it.
“Mortuus est pro vobis,” it said and started to move closer. Brandon dropped the dying light and gripped the crowbar in both hands.
“Come on you son of a bitch!” he called out to the darkness.
“Brandon. No matter what, I love you,” Kristie said. The creature screamed in the darkness. The attack didn’t come.
“I love you too, Kristie,” he replied. Once again the creature screamed. Brandon could just barely make out its shape on the floor, curled up in a fetal position. It took him a minute to understand. He swung the crowbar down across the monster, who was now more than just shadow. The physical form of the creature cried out as Brandon rained down blows with the crowbar. Kristie cheering him on.
She grabbed the flashlight and tapped it against her arm. The beam lit up the small chamber and she aimed it at the creature. It screamed and began to smoke from the light. Brandon didn’t stop swinging until the muscles in his arms gave out. He collapsed onto the floor, exhausted. Kristie rushed to his side, tears streaming from her face. She wrapped her arms around him, dropping the flashlight.
The light died and they sat there in darkness. “What the fuck was that thing?” Brandon asked.
“I don’t know,” Kristie replied. Just then a white light lit up the room from behind them. They both turned towards the light. A ghostly woman stood there in a white dress that flowed around her as if by a gently breeze, but there wasn’t one. They could see through her form. Her face looked so much like Kristie’s it was uncanny.
It smiled down at them then floated closer, that’s when they noticed she had no feet, the transparent body just dissipated at her ankles. Neither of them felt scared, in fact the incorporeal woman gave off a feeling of peace. It reached out with a ghostly hand.
“My Kate,” it said in a voice that sounded far away. “You have broken the demon’s hold on our family.”
“Mom?” Kate asked standing up in front of the ghostly image. “Is it really you?”
“Yes Kate. This was my house. I was raped and I died there on that altar. Murdered by the same demon you have just defeated. I didn’t have the love in my life that you do,” With that the ghost turned towards Brandon. “Thank you. It was your love for my daughter that saved her, and her family.”
“No problem,” Brandon said getting to his feet and kicking the demon’s body one more time.
“My mother was into the occult in the ‘60s. She accidently summoned that demon from the abyss. It haunted her throughout her whole life. She died when I was only six years old in a bedroom upstairs. The beast trying to impregnate her to give birth to a child born of both demon and human. A creature of evil that would be born from this world, therefore couldn’t be banished from it. A loophole to allow evil in. The demon was too rough on her. It haunted me as well. I fell victim to it as well. I am so glad you are safe, Kristie. Now we can rest in peace, no longer plagued by the demon.”
“Check this out,” Brandon said drawing attention to the corpse on the ground. It began to smolder and turn to ash.
“It cannot remain on the physical plane, living or dead,” the ghost said. “You have cleansed your world from this evil. I must go. I have been waiting a long time for this,” the image of Kristie’s mom said and began to rise towards the ceiling.
“I love you daughter. Thank you,” it said and disappeared up through the house. Kristie was crying in the now darkness left in the basement. Brandon took her hand and together they made their way to the stairs and up to the kitchen. He fawned over the wound on her head that was bleeding. He patched her up the best he could and tried to convince her to go to the hospital but she wasn’t interested.
“Thank you, Brandon, you mean the world to me,” Kristie said and wrapped her arms around him. He smiled and tried to hide the tear in his eyes from her. He was too macho to show that he was crying.
“My Hero,” she said in a sin-song voice and gave him a peck on the cheek. They both cracked up laughing, not just from her corny joke, but from all the tension of their first night in their new house.
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