The Umbrella Room - Chap 4
I remember Jack grabbing me.
I remember being pulled out of the room.
The next thing I knew I was slumping down against a wall in room B1.
I heard Henry slam his fist on a table and shout “We need to go back. We can’t just leave them in there!”
I heard Jack say “If we go back in there we’re dead too.”
I heard both of them going back and forth, but sound was barely breaking through. I was dazed. Lost. Like I was in a dream. A nightmare. I was drowning. Drowning in a haze of shock. Everything was a blur. I kept seeing Isaac and Danielle’s faces. Their terrible faces right before being pulled into the dark…
Then I heard Elizabeth speak.
“It’s my fault.”
The room went quiet.
“If…if I hadn’t been so aggressive with that doll,” Elizabeth said with tears forming in her eyes. She seemed so different from the girl with cold flint eyes from the day before. “Maybe she would not have sent that thing after us. Danielle and Isaac would still be here with us.”
“It’s not your fault,” I said, breaking out of my state of shock. I stood up and walked over to Elizabeth. I put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “It’s none of our faults. This is His fault. This…Hardgrave monster.” I gripped the Umbrella in my hand even tighter, almost like I was trying to strangle it.
Elizabeth nodded, and wiped the tears from her eyes. I could already see some of her old self returning to her.
“What do we do now?” Henry asked. “Are we really going to leave them in there?”
“I don’t want to,” I said. “But Jack is right. The lights all went out and we have no way of fighting those things. Even with lights I’m not sure we could. We…we can’t go back for them. Not yet.”
“Fuck!” Henry screamed kicking over a chair. “So we just leave them there to rot? Who knows what that thing is doing to them. We have to get help. We can’t leave them like this!”
None of us could say anything. He was right. I felt like a coward for leaving Isaac and Danielle. For letting that terrible doll grab both of them and take them into the darkness.
“The police?” I said. “We convince them to come, I open the door. If they see what that room actually is. We might not be able to do anything, but a fully armed police force could.” I knew how dumb I sounded the moment I finished.
“It won’t work. No matter what you say,” Jack said. “They aren’t going to believe you. They aren’t going to come down here to see you open some magical door. Or even if you lie and say something else. You might not have lived here long enough to understand, but the people in this town, the adults especially….they all just turn a blind eye. Look at how I treated you after you Saw the Umbrella Symbol. I just wanted to ignore you. Deep down the adults in this town might even believe what we tell them, but they won’t want to help. They’ll find excuses. Try to make it seem all crazy. That we’re crazy. Everyone in this town is afraid.”
“If we tell the police that Isaac and Danielle were taking by an evil doll in a magical room,” Elizabeth said. “And then they don’t show up at their homes and are reported missing. We’ll be the top suspects won’t we? They’ll assume we had something to do with their disappearance, not a monster.”
“What are you trying to say?” Henry said. “That….that we don’t tell anyone what happened here? We just leave Danielle and Isaac behind? Fuck that. I mean come one guys, we can’t. We just can’t” I could hear the anger and heartbreak rising in Henry.
“Do you think I want to leave them behind?” Elizabeth said. “I’m fucking ashamed we left them. Right now every part of me is screaming to run back into that dark vault until I find that doll and tear it’s fucking throat out. But I know that’s suicide. And the more people who get involved the more chances of what happened to Isaac and Danielle happening to someone else. I don’t want anyone else getting hurt. We’ve got to keep this to ourselves. At least until we know more. I’m sorry Henry.”
Henry said nothing at first, and then nodded soberly. “I’m sorry too.”
“It’s our best and maybe only real option,” Jack said. “Danielle and Isaac won’t return home tonight. They’ll be reported missing by their parents. If we tell people what happened, or even an altered version of what happened, just like Elizabeth said we’ll be the top suspects. They might think we did something to them, and are using whatever story we tell as some kind of cover. Spending time being questioned by the police, interrogations, all that’s going to get in the way of our mission.”
“Which is?” Henry asked.
“Finding this Baron Hardgrave and making him fucking pay.” Jack said. It was the angriest I had ever seen him. Both his fists were clenched. “Saving Ash from becoming his next meal. And maybe – no….Hopefully getting Isaac and Danielle back. In time. But we can’t rush this. We can’t slip up. We have to be patient. We have to hope that they are both alive and that we can find a way to save them. We have to keep what happened here to ourselves. Do we all understand?”
I nodded. So did Elizabeth. After a moment, Henry did too. His eyes said he didn’t like it though. I didn’t either. I felt deep shame for leaving them, but Jack and Elizabeth were right. We had to play this smart.
“So,” I said. “I probably only have a couple of days until He comes for me, as we weren’t able to return the Umbrella. And all the things that doll said about the room, and Hardgrave.”
“Celestials,” Henry said in disbelief. “It’s hard to wrap my mind around all of this. What the fuck is a Celestial?”
“I don’t know,” Jack said. “But I think I have a clue that could help us. Elizabeth, Henry, you heard what the doll called the Umbrella right?”
They both nodded.
“Sound familiar to either of you?” Jack asked.
Realization dawned on their faces.
“You don’t think?” Elizabeth said.
“Laegethian Umbrella?” I said. “You mean you’ve actually heard of it before?”
Jack nodded. “Kind of. When she said that word, Laegethian, I immediately thought of someone in our town. There’s this old store near the edge of Jasper. Weird place that sells all sorts of trinkets and stuff. It’s run by this old lady…Miss Laggie.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You think this Miss Laggie is somehow connected with Laegethian? To The Umbrella Man?”
“I know, I know,” Jack said. “It’s a stretch. But as of right now it’s the only lead we have.”
“So we go there. See if Miss Laggie knows anything?” Elizabeth said.
“You guys said it yourself,” I said. “The adults in this town turn a blind eye to everything involving Him. Even if she knew anything, why would she help us?”
“She’s different,” Jack said. “I only met her once. When I was a kid I went into the store with my mom, who thought maybe the place would have good candles. They did actually, but that’s not the point. The whole place gave me a strange vibe. And Miss Laggie…She creeped the hell out of me.”
“I’ve been in the store too,” Elizabeth said. “Now that I think about it, when we were in the Vault…It reminded me of being in that store.”
“So we go there now?” I asked.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Jack said. “We’re all frazzled from what happened today. We should go home tonight. Rest. Tomorrow we go to school like normal. Danielle and Isaac will have been reported missing by then. We have to play it cool. Act like we don’t know anything. Then we go straight to the store after school. Agreed?”
We all nodded in agreement and walked out of the room. As we turned towards the stairs, we all took one look back down the hall.
Towards The Umbrella Door.
I could see the terrible symbol on the door. It was like it was glaring at me.
We now knew what room was waiting on the other side.
“It’s going to be tough going to school tomorrow,” Henry said. “We’ll be sitting upstairs taking classes, meanwhile we know what’s really down here.”
Elizabeth put a reassuring hand on Henry’s shoulder. “We’re going to get Isaac and Danielle back. And we’re going to beat Him. And we’re going to make him regret ever giving anyone in this town a fucking Umbrella.” The flint was in her eyes again. This was the Elizabeth who would dive into the water with the sharks.
Henry rubbed his eyes. “Hell yeah,” he said. Then he looked at her seriously. “We’ll….we’ll find your sister too. I know it.”
“Hell yeah,” she said.
We made our way out of the school and each went our separate ways home. The walk home was terrible. It was dark already, somehow. I felt we had only been in that room for an hour or two at most, but at least 3 hours must have passed.
I kept seeing things out of the corner of my eyes. I thought I heard footsteps behind me, but when I looked no one was there. I kept expecting to see that Doll with that terrible upturned permanent smile, but it wasn’t out here in the normal world. It was down there in that room.
In that Vault.
As I approached the front of my house I was surprised to see someone on the front porch. It was my dad. It was late, but not late enough for him to be home. He was smoking a cigarette. He quickly put it out when he saw me.
“Oh, hey sport,” he said.
“Oh, hey dad. I didn’t expect you home so early.”
“Yeah I got done with everything at the plant today.” He saw me looking at the stubbed cigarette. “It’s not serious. Just every once and a while. Don’t tell your mother, yeah?”
“Okay,” I said. I slumped down on one of the chairs on the porch next to my dad.
“That’s a nice Umbrella. Did your mother give it to you?”
“I found it in my closet,” I said. I wanted to tell my dad everything, but didn’t even know where to begin. Hey dad, I’ve been chosen as prey by a crazy monster that likes to leave umbrellas for people that can open a magic door. Oh and beyond that door? There’s a vault full of items that’s guarded by psychotic dolls. And those dolls took two of my classmates. Yeah, I’m sure that would go over with my dad real easy.
So I said the only thing I could.
“Are you and mom okay?”
My dad was silent for a second.
“Moving out here has been tough on all us, your mother especially.” My dad said. I could see the question pained him. “I know I’m not around as much as I should be. The job at the plant has me running my head off for hours on end. But things will get better sport.”
“They will?” It was an honest, genuine question. I wanted to believe it was true.
“Sure they will. They always do, don’t they?”
I thought of Isaac and Danielle. Things didn’t get better for them. Or Elizabeth’s sister. Or all the other people unfortunate enough to receive one of Baron Hardgrave’s Umbrellas.
“Dad,” I said quietly. “Do you believe in monsters?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Oh, uh, just something I’m working on for school.” I said meekly.
“Oh,” My father said. He stood up and laughed. “You know when I was a kid I thought I saw a monster once. There was this lake behind the summer house my parents and I use to visit….”
“What happened?” I asked.
But my father just stared out into the night, lost in his own thoughts. Finally he turned to me.
“Hmm? Oh, nothing. It was just my imagination as a kid. It was nothing. I’m sorry sport, I’ll tell you about it sometime, but I’m tired. Gonna go hit the hay.”
“Sure,” I said. My father nodded and walked into the house.
I sat there alone. The street lights had come on some time ago and illuminated the neighborhood. It got so dark in Jasper. It was an oppressive darkness. The kind of dark that could just wrap itself around you and everything else.
Every child in the world welcomes light in the dark. Light is a beacon of hope. A protector against unknown monsters that lurk just at the edge of shadows.
But that night I got no comfort from the street lights.
Because when I looked at those lights, all I could see were doll eyes.