لعنة “The Curse”

لعنة

-The Curse

While we were outside splitting wood as a kid, my dad used to tell me a scary story. It happened when he went to Egypt for an important business meeting. After getting his job-related duties done, he decided to make the best of his trip and travel around the country. He had entered the interior of the gigantic desert when he went into a small village. It was barely modernized at all, this being the late 1960’s.

A small group of tradition-followers in the town still believed an unusual old legend that one of the gods would choose a man, and give him special powers to do their bidding with. There were equal chances of a benevolent or an evil deity doing this, and the people would not know until it was done. My father said he found a crowd in the middle of town that was rioting over a man in the middle of the pack. They all looked fearful and upset.

He looked a little strange.” my dad would say. “He was dressed all old-fashioned and he was very dirty. He looked like he had been homeless for a long time.”

My dad was not afraid of anything, so he walked through the crowd, right up to the man. They talked for a few tense moments and the crowd became even more uncivil. Then, the man suddenly swiped his fingers across my dad’s face and it started bleeding like he was cut with several knives. The stranger disappeared into the crowd while everyone was still stunned by the damage he had caused. The village doctor tried his best to remedy the damage, and he stitched the wounds up and applied medicines and poultices to them, but the scars were especially hard to get rid of, and they never quite went away. Father said he never thought the old Egyptian legend was true until that day.

The story always sounded strange and far-fetched to me, despite the scars on my father’s face.

– – – – – – –

A few years ago, I bought a beautiful lakefront house in Maine with my fiancé Kelly. We met our next door neighbors quickly and talked to them a few times. A real estate agent was living just five minutes down from us, but since she had just moved there that day herself, she had not started selling houses in the area yet.

After we got settled in, I decided it would be best if we stocked up the cupboards with some groceries from the town. We went out on the old, dusty roads to the local market. Close by, the house of the new real-estate agent stood quietly. It looked like a wreck, considering someone in that job department should really care about keeping their house in good shape, but I wrote it off as being a good deal, a “fixer-upper” in their terms.

The market was a few miles away. I couldn’t believe how small our town was. They thought that a few empty buildings, some railroad tracks, and three businesses counted as a town? I found it ironic and funny. Still, the little market had some good food if you looked hard enough, and the town was full of quaint charm.

We walked into the market, and I took a glance at its old, whitewashed sign. Lakeside Market’s sign was a staple of the village, possibly its most defining feature. Kelly and I shopped for a while, picking up many cans of soup with expiration dates four years from the day.

Never know when you’ll get a blizzard,” said Kelly. “We might as well be prepared.”

I laughed, thinking about the Boy Scouts. I turned a corner and bumped into a middle-aged couple with the shopping cart. After apologizing, we started to talk. The wife had frizzy blonde hair, and her husband had long, unkempt, brown hair. Although the wife looked fairly presentable, her partner was mangy, with brown splotches and bits of dirt on his skin. He barely moved and did not talk at all. Perhaps he was mentally slow.

Hello. I am Martha Salbert, and this is my husband Joe Salbert. Pleased to meet you.” Martha said, enunciating way too much for my taste.

Nice to meet you too. This is Kelly, my girlfriend. I’m Thomas. We just moved to the area. What’s your job around here?” I asked.

She looked off to the left. “I am a real-estate agent up on Howard Road. It makes a good living these days,” replied Martha. Everyone was silent for a second too long.

Actually, we just moved in here,” she continued. “We’re from a long ways away.”

Well that’s funny, because we just moved into a house on Howard Road, too.” Kelly replied.

I think we have to go. We still have a lot of unpacking to do.” I said, drumming up whatever excuse I could think of to leave. Kelly gave me a dirty look.

Bye, then.” Said Martha. Joe did not move or say anything. Something about the extremely polite wife and the quiet, dirty husband made me feel a bit uneasy. I wondered how they could possibly find each other attractive or interesting.

The drive back home was uneventful, but I noticed how hard it was to find your way around in the countryside. The roads twist and turn a lot and can even go in circles much more easily than you’d think. Even though they look straight, if you don’t have directions, you can easily miss your destination.

Once we got back to the house, the two of us got settled in for the night.

– – – – – – – –

The next day was rather mundane, and in the late afternoon Kelly said her nose was getting very stuffy. Since a lot of people at work were getting the flu lately, I told her I would drive into town and get her some medicine.

The lake looked very fresh and pretty as I drove by. It was like a calm, blue-tinted mirror. I listened to my favorite radio station, and it felt very nice to be alone. Even in my old car, the country roads zoomed by pleasingly. I started to relax and think whatever random thoughts that would cross my mind. It was great to not work for three whole days in a row. I definitely deserved the break, after working so hard in the city for such a long time.

Abruptly, the strange Salbert house went by. My stomach churned and my daydreaming ceased. I stopped the car, just to prove I wasn’t a sissy for being afraid of my neighbor’s house. I could just picture my friends laughing at me for being scared of a dumpy old building.

It looked more like it belonged in a South Carolina trailer park then a nice country town in New England. I just could not understand why a real estate agent would be so negligent. There was even more garbage sitting around in the yard than there was when I had first moved in. I looked at the tire swing hanging from an old oak tree and the roof of the house, bent like it was about to cave in. The only reason I could drum up for the property was that the wife was either a bad real-estate agent or not one at all.

I floored the accelerator like nobody’s business, burned some tar and rolled some coal, chuckling to myself as I heard the reassuring sound of the engine revving. After I passed the Salbert house, I went into a slightly less blissful version of my previous daydreaming, with a bad thought coming up once in a while to disrupt the happier ones.

The center of town was in sight ten minutes later. While I was there, I thought I’d get myself a book or two from the library. It was a small place, with a very quiet librarian. She only said one word to me during the whole exchange, and the strangest thing was that you did not even need a library card. I was starting to think there was no government at all in the town, almost like the Old West.

I went over to the pub for a light beer. It was the only place in the area that I had not frequented yet, aside from the church. The building was very old, even older than the supermarket. There were two locals sitting next to me. I sipped on my drink and struck up a conversation.

How do you like this town?”

They were quiet.

Ain’t bad,” said the older man. “I just want the old Episcopal back. Don’t you, Harvey?” His friend grunted expressionlessly.

Are there ever police around here?” I wondered aloud.

Harvey laughed.

No. I never…” he scratched at a piece of finish on the counter. “Never seen one in my life.”

No,” corrected the older man. “There was one two years ago, stopped by here and even pulled Josh over for Dee DoubleYou Eye.”

What sort of trouble did he get in?” I asked.

Ticketed, I think,” replied the man. “What do you think a’ this place?”

It’s interesting,” I said, uneasily.

After the bar, I picked up some medicine at the market and noticed some people at both the library and the drug store were whispering about a bus accident. I joined in one of the conversation circles. There was conflicting information about the accident. For some reason, everyone was arguing over whether the driver was crazy or not. I didn’t really care too much, considering that anything would be big news in a small town like this. I thought about Harvey and his friend and missed them and their somewhat warm personalities.

When I finally looked at my watch again and peered outside, I was quite surprised. The sun was hanging low in the sky, looking like a big tomato. I hurried to my car and floored the engine again, not a bit afraid of police.

Night quickly started to fall. It falls thick in New England. The crickets and cicadas chirped and buzzled like a church chorus. The color of the sky changed from pink, to light violet, to an electric blue, to ultramarine blue and finally to a stiff lightless black.

I found myself driving this way and that on the aged country roads. It was getting so dark that I could hardly make out where I even was. I kept driving in circles and prayed that my internal compass would lead me to safety.

A time or two, I even saw a bright, shiny pair of eyes on the side of the road. I found myself praying that they belonged to an animal and not a person. There was barely a house anywhere, and most of the habitations were perched high on hills, a long ways from the road.

None of the roads felt safe, and comfort was nowhere to be found.

I thought about how Kelly must be wondering where I was. She probably thought I was cheating on her or drinking at the bar. One of those was true. I worried my heart out over her and hoped she wasn’t getting sicker.

The stars came out bright, as the sun had long since disappeared under the horizon. This far out in the country, streetlights were a rare sight, so I had to use the dusty headlights on my car. They were hardly brighter than household light bulbs.

I kept worrying and driving around for an exceptionally long time, terrified to look at my watch, as it seemed it would make it earlier if I didn’t.

The gas gauge was starting to deplete. That was my final warning sign that I should ask someone for help. If I ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere, odds are no one except Kelly could help me. I had to get over my resistance and fear to asking the country folk for directions.

The car came to a halt at the end of a dirt driveway. I repeatedly told myself that it would be fine to ask a stranger for directions at night, but I couldn’t believe myself. After deliberating for much too long, I walked out of the car, up a brown dirt driveway, and onto someone’s doorstep.

Knock Knock.

There was a tense moment of suspense, with me strongly regretting stopping the car. I backed up a few feet, trying to be less of a threat.

An old man flung the door open. He had a huge white beard and steel-grey eyes. He was as dirty as a wolf, and looked a lot like one. In his hands was a rusty old double barreled shotgun, which he pointed at my feet. My heart jumped out of my mouth.

What the hell are you doin’ up so late?”

I felt awkward, and almost laughed, but realized I was at gun-point.

I’m lost. I need to find Howard Road.” The man looked away for a second and spat on the ground.

I ain’t knowin’ where that is. Ain’t you from out of town?”

…Yeah.”

Git!” He pointed the shotgun at my chest, and I turned and ran, seeing the door slam behind me.

After walking to my car, I drove on for another few minutes and finally looked at my watch. It was ten o’clock. I tried to keep myself calm, but failed. Fog settled everywhere, making it even harder to understand the roads. Driving this late was hell.

About twenty minutes later, I, once again, stepped out of the car. The gas gauge had been on empty forever and the motor sounded junky like it was a minute away from running out of gas. Hardly seeing a thing in the darkness, I tried my best to walk up a path onto someone’s doorstep. Waves quietly hit the shore of a lake, giving me a little more courage. It felt nice to know I had found the lake, as long as it was the right lake in the first place. Even if I was on the wrong side of it, I could bet I’d find our house eventually, probably by walking.

The knocking sound was very loud, even compared to the crickets. I tensely hoped someone would answer the door, then realized I was kidding myself, actually hoping no-one would answer at all!

My silent prayers were answered. Nobody responded. Just to make sure the house was empty, I walked over to the drapes, since it looked like a dim light was on inside the house. I awkwardly peered through a hole in the drapes, and to my astonishment the house was entirely empty. Pristinely empty. The only thing in it except the floors and walls was a little wooden trapdoor in the hallway. It stood out clearly against the tile floor of the featureless kitchen. A single light bulb hung down from the top of the living room.

I stared uneasily at the trapdoor. What was behind it? This town was overflowing with mysteries. I felt curious and nervous. Why would the house have nothing else in it? Did it go underground? Maybe someone lived under the house all the time. I couldn’t tell for sure, because the trapdoor never opened or moved. I puzzled over the biggest question.

Why would someone own a lakefront house and keep it so bleak?

Slowly inching away from the drapes, I saw a security light turn on, illuminating the entire property. I instantly realized the oak tree and rope swing. The house was Martha and Joe Salbert’s. I ran back to the car as quickly as I could, and sped away.

The car ran out of gas right before it pulled into the driveway. I walked into the house and explained to Kelly that I had gotten terribly lost.

Would you mind helping me push the car out of the road?” I inquired.

No… I’m too tired,” she replied, laying quietly in the bed.

It was clear she had become sicker during the day. She was now essentially bedridden. I felt sorry I couldn’t get her the medicine sooner. After pushing the car halfway into the driveway alone and filling it up with a gas tank from the garage, I went to sleep and tried to sort out the many strange events that had transpired in the course of the day.

Sunday morning, I awoke and got Kelly some breakfast. We ate it together, and started chatting. She was feeling good enough to walk over to the kitchen table. A newspaper sat next to my plate.

I read this old newspaper while you were gone, and I want to find out about something,” she told me.

What is it?” I replied cautiously.

Well, there’s this bus that was on its way out of town early this morning and it crashed.”

What’s so interesting about that?” I said, somewhat rudely.

Kelly looked around the room, as if she doubted herself for a moment.

Well, the driver said the bus hit somebody, but there was no body to be found. It seems strange to me. I feel like you should go there and maybe figure out what happened. Even though the authorities say the man was delirious, there’s a chance they could be lying. I just don’t believe the official account. I don’t think they even investigated the entire area.”

My stomach churned like I was on a roller-coaster. Something about it didn’t sound right.

I don’t know,” I complained.

Please?” she pleaded.

Umm.” I sounded very awkward. “Maybe I could do that, I guess.”

If you’re spending all that time out in town, it shouldn’t be much of a problem to go out a little further and investigate it. I’ll bet the evidence of the crash is still pretty fresh.” She looked at me pleadingly. I couldn’t resist.

Okay, then. I’ll be back as soon as I’m done.” I said, sounding a tad surer. I grabbed my light jacket and started to walk out the door. She beckoned me back over.

See you later.” Kelly kissed me on the cheek.

– – – – – – – – –

I drove back to the bar and had a glass of iced tea. Harvey was there without any friends.

Hey,” I said. He looked up from the ground, and became slightly happier after seeing my face.

Do you know where that accident happened?”

The one yesterday, from the bus?” he asked.

That one,” I confirmed. He computed the directions.

Over yonder, down that road.” He pointed. “Turn right after it turns into a Y. It will be big field, two hundred acres.”

Thanks,” I said. I finished the tea and followed the road out to the spot.

It was sunny and bright out, the exact opposite of last night. Bugs hopped around on the long grass. Different-colored bushes grew spottily in the grass. The fields seemed to go on on forever, and I was happy to be in a pleasant part of the countryside.

Right outside of the road’s shoulders sat two four-foot deep ditches filled with grass. I assumed they were used for draining water off the road.

I found exactly where the event took place about a hundred yards in front of my car. Some very short skid marks were conspicuously present on the road. They definitely belonged to a bus. If the driver of the bus had seen the person he was about to hit, he would have slammed the brakes for longer than a few feet. Buses do not stop on a dime by themselves.

I considered the possibilities that would make the skid marks only a yard long. Maybe someone had jumped out of the ditch and nearly hit the bus as it tried to stop. The driver could have been distracted and not tried to stop until he’d nearly hit the person. An operator in a professional bus company would definitely never hit someone on purpose, and it was easy to see a person walking on this road. Maybe there wasn’t any person at all. Maybe the driver was just crazy. I wondered why my partner would care so much about the details. There clearly was not a dead body or any missing people in the town.

Walking back towards my car, there was a bend in the road, and a tiny patch of tire rubber there apparently belonging to the bus, not big enough to show that anyone had really slammed the brakes. If the driver had been speeding excessively, he would have really had to slow down for that turn to avoid toppling over. That ruled out very high speeds as a possibility, although it didn’t entirely rule out slight speeding.

My newest explanation was that the driver had slowed down for the turn, and been so tired that he didn’t see the other man until he was right in front of the bus. Then, the driver slammed the brakes for a second, but hit the guy anyways.

There was one problem with my hypothesis. As I went back to the first skid marks on the straightaway, I noticed one drop of blood on the road. It was not exceptionally fresh. How could a bus hit a man and only spill one drop of blood? No blood, or lots of blood on the road would make sense. But one drop? How could a person get hit by a bus and run away that quickly? How could he not be identified at a hospital?

I looked for evidence in the roadside ditch, but still didn’t see anything showing that there was a man involved. It was impossible to tell if there were footprints or not in the murky water. I did know that the authorities were wrong in thinking the driver was insane, though. I knew enough about forensics to prove that the spot of blood was caused by someone on the ground, not a person driving the bus. I walked along further.

Suddenly, in the ditch, I came across some evidence. A red brake light from the bus sat on a dry area of grass. As I picked it up, I noticed something extraordinary; it was still acting like it was on the bus. Even though no electricity was running it, the light would flash on and off in a predictable pattern. I turned it over and could find no battery. I knew that flasher batteries were externally powered anyways.

It was fascinating. First, the light would turn on for a second like it was braking lightly. Then, it would turn off, meaning the brakes were not being used. Finally, it would turn on for a split second, then quickly oscillate, like the electrical system was being fried.

It was hard to think of an explanation quickly. Perhaps the bus had hit something that had caused damage to the electrical system?

My new idea was the bus slowed down for the turn, then slammed the brakes for a second as it hit a big animal.

That theory had its faults, too. However, my new theory was about to be replaced by one much more sinister.

As I walked towards the skid marks again, I decided I would quickly check the fields beside the road for evidence. I walked out about twenty feet and meandered for a while, looking in the very deep, encompassing grass. The soil mushed under me as I stepped, making a squishy sound.

My heart stopped. I almost stepped on something. A dead body, laying deep in the grass. The man’s hand was right under my foot, but his battered face was barely visible in the tall grass in front of me.

I ran back to the road and into the safety of my car, mind reeling. I panted, heart beating like I was about to die. Up ahead, there was a small disturbance in the grass ahead. Holding my breath, I noticed a mysterious figure rise up and slog away into the bushes.

I’m going crazy,” I said to myself. Making a sloppy U-turn, I headed back down the road. Everything felt so surreal that I could barely even start to process it. The man clearly looked dead, but he sure didn’t act that way. Back in the town, I pulled into the pub parking lot, needing to calm down a little.

The first thing I did after getting inside was buy a real drink. The familiar overweight older man was there, sitting on a stool.

Guess I never introduced myself properly last time. I’m Howard,” he said. I smiled superficially and told him my name.

Are you alright?” he asked. A cold wave went through me and I shook my head slowly. He frowned.

I know the feeling. Girlfriend cheating on you?” he asked.

No,” I replied humorlessly.

Nah. But… some strange stuff happens here. Is it the bus accident?”

I smiled, surprised he could guess so quickly.

How did you know?” I wondered. He appeared reluctant to give away his secret.

I know it wasn’t quite as they say it. Act’ly, I knew the driver myself, and I kin say he is not crazy like they say he is. Facts are, the case doesn’t just make sense in the normal way. That’s how things are in this town.”

Something was nagging at me.

What is the name of this town? I haven’t seen a single sign, or picture, or anything anywhere to tell me what it is. It’s creepy,” I blurted.

Howard laughed and opened his mouth to reply when he spotted Martha Salbert walking past the pub, crying. He watched her closely through all the windows until she went out of view.

Tell me, Thomas. What happened? Did you go to the crime scene?”

Crime scene?” I muttered under my breath. “Umm,” I said, louder. “Yeah, and it wasn’t right. Everything about it felt kind of surreal.”

Howard winked.

That is your problem,” he said, pointing to the last spot Martha had been. “They’ve been here longer than two days, I’ll tell you. Lucas, get my bud here a double of vodka.”

I thought about complaining that I don’t drink vodka but kept quiet instead. When the glass appeared I drank it quickly and felt a burn in the back of my throat. The world soon began spinning slowly under me as I swayed slightly from side to side.

I have to go,” I said, suddenly determined. “Kelly needs my attention. She’s sick and she hasn’t heard a thing from me.”

There’s a payphone over there,” said Howard.

No, I should get back home.” I stood up and tried to walk towards the front door but collided into the counter.

You ain’t gonna get home safe,” said my friend. “I’ll drive ya.”

Ten minutes later, I was in Howard’s car. We discussed my explorations as I slowly became more sober.

I saw a brake light that was still going on and off. I even remember the pattern.” After explaining the flashing pattern, I took the brake light out of my pocket and stared at it. It didn’t turn on at all.

Hmm,” I said. “It was working.” Doubtful, Howard chuckled.

What else?”

There were two sets of tire marks, and I found a dead person in the grass.”

What?” he shouted.

I stepped on him by accident. Once I’d got into the car, he seemed to go away into the bushes.”

How was he dead then?”

He was laying face down and looked injured,” I replied.

That is weird,” replied Howard.

Oh, we missed a turn,” I noted. Trees and vines abounded everywhere, making the world feel like a natural prison cell. Howard stopped and looked intently at the woods. Up ahead, peering through two trees, was Joe Salbert’s face. It was bloody and discolored, staring at us ferociously.

Is that…” said Howard, terrified.

Drive, just drive!” I moaned. He backed the car up and swung it around as quickly as possible. We saw no more of Joe Salbert.

After getting on the correct road, it only took a minute for Howard to find the house.

Do you want to come in for a bit?” I asked, partially because I was feeling vulnerable. Howard shook his head vigorously.

I have to go.”

He sped off in the opposite direction of the Salbert house and the visage apparition we had just seen.

Back at the house, Kelly was in bed again, quite unwell. I decided at first to ignore anything important and instead get over the shock by thinking about mundane things, but the picture wouldn’t get out of my head. Joe Salbert’s bloody face had been permanently imprinted into my eyes like a cattle brand. I couldn’t even think. It was that jarring.

I made Kelly some chicken soup and was alone with myself for a few minutes.

I didn’t feel like I could call the police, since they would be too suspicious of me. Besides, there was no evidence anymore of anything except me being crazy, especially since the ‘dead’ body had disappeared. I brought the soup to Kelly, who took it gladly.

How did it go?” she asked.

Good, but it was… confusing.”

Look at this,” she said, showing me two pictures of the bus after the accident. The whole front of the bus had crumpled up. It looked like it had sustained enough force to kill any animal. But which animal would only spill a drop of blood from being hit by a bus?

The second was of the back of the bus. I felt an appreciatively eerie feeling as I noticed the missing brake light.

I have that brake light,” I said, taking it out again and putting it on the bed next to Kelly. It was still.

I explained everything to her, even though it sounded crazy. There was a scraping sound outside.

I don’t get it. You’re not… crazy or anything, but that just makes no sense,” complained Kelly. “How could he just get up? And why would Salbert be out in the middle of the woods with a bloody face?”

I’ll tell you why. It’s the same person,” I said.

No. That bus was crumpled up like it hit something a lot heavier than thin little Joe Salbert. And even if he was dead, he wouldn’t just get up and run away. That must have been a different person, maybe a prankster.”

Sorry, I know who it was,” I said, obliviously. Kelly shook her head in disbelief.

You should just rest a while and stay out of town,” she recommended. I sat there silently for a minute.

It was all making sense to me.

It’s the curse, the Egyptian- wait. Look- the light is flashing again!”

Kelly looked at the brake light, amazed as it lit up again brightly in the same pattern it had at the wreck.

A moment later, the disgusting face of Joe Salbert shown murderously outside the bedroom window. I felt like I was going to puke. Blood rushed to my head as it spun around. I felt so dizzy. Kelly screamed and told me to chase the intruder out. I couldn’t move, immobilized by dark energy.

As soon as I could, I summoned up enough power to go into the kitchen and grab a knife. It felt woefully inadequate. The bedroom window shattered and an ugly arm stuck through it while my partner screamed. With surprising courage, I ran up to it and sliced it strongly. As the arm started to bleed, it retracted back. I ran around to the front door and opened it. Joe sprinted up the hill, back to his house, at a breakneck speed, faster than I had ever seen before. I felt enraged at him, unable to catch him.

I stumbled back into the house, too afraid to tell Kelly what had happened. Even though she had seen Joe’s face in the window, she didn’t see him run, and she had never heard the story my dad had told me.

Kelly,” I said, collapsing onto the bed. “I have some important news to tell you.” She looked incredibly uneasy. Her expression told me to go on.

Joe Salbert is not a normal man. We have to get out of here right now. I didn’t have any more time for explaining.” I picked Kelly right up off the bed, and started to walk towards the car. She was obviously confused.

After putting her in the backseat, I took a splitting axe out from the garage and put it in the passenger’s seat. I turned the car key.

Rit Rit Rit

Come on!” I shouted. I pounded the dashboard and turned the key again. The car started. I slammed the accelerator pedal down and spun the wheels. The car gained traction and sped off down the road. Within a minute and a half, I was again in front of the Salbert’s house, except something was different this time.

A police car, sirens on, sat in the driveway. The front door was open.

Wait here,” I said, receiving no response. Grabbing the wooden axe, I walked up the driveway and through the front door. Martha Salbert lay on her stomach in the living room, injured.

Martha?” I asked, crouching down.

He just… hasn’t been the same since he got in a fight…” Blood poured onto the carpet from her stomach.

With who?” I asked. Her condition was getting worse by the second.

With…” she coughed futilely. I waited, empathetic with her plight but anxious to know what she would say.

That Egyptian man… at the…” Her face fell back on the floor and she lost consciousness.

I pressed on further into the house. In the kitchen, the trapdoor was open. A ladder went down into the shadowy basement, which I descended quickly. The basement was a single large room, full of objects and boxes. In the corner, I saw a policeman trying to arrest the unarmed Joe Salbert, bloody face and all.

Put your hands up!” he shouted, shining the flashlight at his face. The assailant quickly slashed him in the face and pushed him over. The officer’s gun discharged but missed its target. Joe ran past with impossible speed and disappeared after climbing up the ladder.

Are you alright?” I asked, walking over to the severely bleeding officer. Something about the event suddenly fit together in my head. The policeman mumbled words but was too shocked to say anything to me. I grabbed his pistol off the ground and put it in my pocket, then took his radio and spoke into it. I found his badge and name while I talked.

The officer… Officer Martez has been injured. He needs immediate medical attention.”

Affirmative. We are dispatching backup and an ambulance right now. Who is this?” said a voice.

A friendly neighbor,” I replied, putting the phone back on Officer Martez’s belt.

I ascended the ladder and pulled myself up onto the kitchen floor. The crazed maniac suddenly appeared from around a corner and tried to shove me back into the basement, but used too much force and pushed me further into the kitchen instead. I pulled out the pistol and fired at Joe Salbert, hitting him three times and slowing his pursuit. He approached me, slashing at my chest, but I dodged the strikes by jumping backwards. Out of ammo, I threw the gun and hit him in the stomach. Joe stepped backwards quickly as I readied the axe over my shoulder. Quickly, the attacker stepped up and sliced across my arm with his razor-sharp fingers. I grunted, hurt, and swung the axe down over his head, splitting it like a piece of wood. Joe Salbert dropped onto the floor like a sack of potatoes. Temporarily losing my sanity from the acute stress, I chopped his neck in two, ending his life.

Feeling disgusted, I dropped the axe and went into the living room. Martha was stone cold dead. Out the front door, I could clearly see my car. Up the road a ways, the ambulance drove towards the scene to pick up the survivors.

The backseat of my car was empty.

Kelly, where are you?” I yelled, with my last conscious breath. I fainted, falling onto the grass.

I never thought the old Egyptian legend was true until that day.

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