I read my dead mother's diary. I don't know if I can ever forgive myself. - Chap 7
- I read my dead mother's diary. I don't know if I can ever forgive myself.
- Chap 7 - Broken Facade
I stood frozen on the street looking around for any means of transportation. Dawson and Alex had lost contact somewhere on Glover Road, which meant they were in danger. There were a few abandoned cars standing by the sidewalk, but all seemed to have been untouched for about a decade. I went from car to car, looking through the window to see if any had their keys visible.
The first I found was an old Honda that didn’t look like it had been touched since the change of the century. Chances were it no longer ran, but since it had keys clearly visible, I had to try.
With no people around, I didn’t hesitate to break the window and get inside. I put the key in the ignition, but the car wouldn’t start. As I suspected, it had been years since anyone touched it. So I tried another one, same deal.
I went from car to car, trying each one that held a key, but none would start. It occurred to me that the Acolytes might not need vehicles. In fact, I hadn’t seen anyone using cars apart from Riley and Dawson.
As those thoughts ran through my head, I saw Riley pull up at the hospice. He looked worried, rushing towards the door without even noticing all the smashed glass on the street. His car would be my best chance at escape, but I needed his keys first.
“Riley!” I called out as I ran towards him.
He seemed genuinely surprised to see me, mixed with a hint of guilt.
“Laura, what – what are you doing here?”
“I took care of Mrs. Crawford.”
He looked almost afraid, worried that I might lunge at him. With him distracted from surprise, I took the chance at overpowering him. I pulled out the second syringe I’d stolen, and held it firmly against his neck.
“Laura, what are you doing?”
“I need your car keys.”
“Alright, alright, just don’t kill me, please!”
“Don’t pretend like this would kill you. I’m not letting you take my son, you piece of shit!”
“No! Wait, I’m not one of them. Please, I don’t want to die.”
I hesitated. He seemed absolutely terrified. So full of real emotion, unlike anything I’d seen emerge from the Acolytes.
“You brought us here. If you’re not one of them, then why the fuck are you helping them?”
He was shaking. “You don’t know what they’re capable of. They have my daughter, they made me help them. Please, don’t kill me. If I’m gone they’ll kill her.”
For a moment, I actually felt sorry for the man, but the fact still remained that he’d aided them in kidnapping my son. So while I wasn’t going to hurt him, I could still use him to get where I needed to go.
“Get in the car, you’re driving.”
“Just take my keys and let me go,” he said as he pulled them out from his pocket.
“No, I can’t let you warn them.”
I pushed the needle closer to his skin, puncturing it, but not injecting the fluid. He obliged, and got into the driver’s seat.
“Get me to Glover Road.”
We started driving fast. On the empty roads, it hardly mattered if we kept the speed limit. Riley was sweating bullets, his hands shaking as he gripped onto the steering wheel for dear life.
“Your daughter, what’s her name?” I asked.
“A-Amanda,” Riley stuttered.
“Do you know where she is?”
“Basement of the hospice care. That’s where they keep all the children and broken vessels.”
“I – I don’t know. Please, Laura. These things, they’re not human, you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”
I ignored his pleas. It didn’t matter how dangerous they were, I wouldn’t let them take Alex.
“How did you even get involved with them?”
“I was just travelling through town, someone said they needed a lawyer, and that I could help the aging population of the town. I took my kid with me on a weekend trip to do some business, but they took her… they took Amanda.”
I couldn’t help but sympathize with Riley. But, whatever compassion my heart held for him, it had been tainted with hatred for bringing us here. His willingness to sacrifice myself and Alex, even if it was for his own daughter, couldn’t be forgiven.
“We’ll get her back,” I said, trying to sound compassionate, but coming across as annoyed.
He almost seemed to relax at the statement, as if his fear had broken to be replaced with trust. We kept driving out of town, only passing by the occasional Acolyte staring us down as we drove by. They didn’t try to stop us, whether it was because they couldn’t, or didn’t need to, neither of us knew, but the fact alone sent shivers down my spine.
Before long, we arrived at Glover Road, the only stretch of concrete that led away from Tenebris. It stretched on for a hundred miles before reaching the main road. There were a few small towns along the way, but even they were about sixty miles out.
“Where are they exactly?” Riley asked.
But I didn’t have to answer, because a pillar of smoke was emerging from just beyond the horizon. I knew it was the car, a suspicion that would be immediately confirmed as we found the still burning wreckage of Dawson’s flipped over patrol car. The Sheriff himself lay on the side, covered in blood and not moving, and Alex was nowhere in sight.
“Stop the car!” I yelled. Riley hit the breaks, and I basically dove out, rushing over towards the wreck.
“Sheriff!” I called out, but he remained unresponsive.
I took a brief moment to look through the wreckage, just checking if Alex had been trapped inside. It was empty. Whoever had caused the accident, had done it with the intention of taking Alex away, and they’d succeeded.
“Is he…?” Riley asked as he pointed to Dawson.
His body was broken, covered in gashes and bruised flesh from the impact. I bent down carefully, afraid to confirm his death.
“Morgan?” I said meekly as I gently shook him.
Then he opened his eyes and gasped for air, trying to get up in panic as adrenaline surged through his body.
“He’s breathing!” I exclaimed in relief.
After a couple of seconds of observing his surroundings, he finally tried to talk.
“Where am I?” he groaned.
“Glover Road. You were in an accident,” I said.
He looked at me, studying me as if he couldn’t recognize me. His head had a large gash on the side, still actively bleeding.
“Yeah, it’s me. What happened to you? Where’s Alex?”
“I don’t know.”
Apart from the lacerations and bruises, he didn’t seem to have any broken bones. It was almost a miracle considering how mangled the car was. Once he’d regained his senses, I helped Dawson to his feet, and brought him back to Riley’s car.
“John,” Dawson said as he noticed Riley’s presence. “You brought her to me?”
“I just wanted to help, Sheriff.”
“Did you manage to call for help?” I asked Dawson.
He looked at me, confused without the faintest idea what I was talking about. He just rubbed his head. “I don’t – I don’t know.”
Even if help was on the way, it would take hours for them to cross the rough roads from even the nearest city. It would be time we didn’t have, so we got in the car, and started driving back towards Tenebris.
“Riley, you said they take the children to the basement?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know if that’s where they took your son.”
I turned to Dawson, who was sitting motionless in his seat, just observing the world outside the window. He was still in a haze from the crash, unable to contribute much to the discussion.
“Sheriff, what do you think?”
“There are no children.”
He didn’t respond.
We continued the drive in silence. A million thoughts and ideas ran through my mind, but all of them would either result in our death, or inevitable capture by the Acolytes. We needed a way to kill them, or at least slow them down, but they weren’t human. Then, my eyes got distracted by the syringe lying on the dashboard, full of Etorphine, enough for just one of the monsters in Tenebris.
“Sheriff, do you have more of the sedatives?”
He gave me a peculiar look.
“Ethorphine, where do you keep it?” I clarified.
He mulled it over a bit, trying to remember where he’d acquired the little stash he kept in his car.
“Sorry. My head is not all there yet. The drugs are at the station.”
“Then that’s where we need to go. If we’re going to save Alex, and your daughter, we need something to defend us with.”
“It will not help,” Dawson interjected.
“What do you mean?”
“They are too strong. Whatever you try to do, they will win.”
He looked at me as he awaited my response. Something was wrong with him, he’d never shown signs of defeat like that before.
“I don’t care. I’m going to save my son, even if it kills me.”
As we returned to town, the emptiness struck me again. By then, it would have been impossible for the Acolytes not to know what we were up to. Yet, they were nowhere in sight. No one had tried to stop us, and not a single creature had come to even check up on us.
“Where is everyone?” I asked.
“They already have what they need. You don’t matter to them anymore,” Dawson said.
We pulled up to the Sheriff’s department parking lot, and got out. There were a couple of other patrol cars there, both unused for years, covered in dried out leaves and dust. The building didn’t fare much better, serving as little more than a reminder of what once stood there.
The inside was just as barren, the desks covered in dust, and the papers left behind ancient. It was clear that the department had been shut down years earlier, both by the layer of dirt, and the outdated technology left behind. How Dawson had kept up appearances for so long, I couldn’t fathom, but I had to assume that not many outsiders ever came to visit the station.
“I’m going to wait outside, keep the car running and all,” Riley said nervously.
Dawson didn’t even acknowledge him. He just led me into the backroom, which was a combination of a storage space and an evidence locker. He took out a box of medical supplies, and left the room.
“Stay here, I need to prepare the solution.”
I remained behind, looking over the hundreds of untouched files and boxes. On each of them, someone had written a case number, and the name of the person involved. I read over each case, realizing I could recognize many of the names. Most were probably trivial, unimportant police reports, but one stood out from the rest.
“Case File #00109: Agatha Florence,” it read.
I looked behind me, making sure Dawson was out of sight, before pulling out the box and investigating its content. Within, lay a single file and a couple of tape recordings. I scanned the room for a playback device. It only had the one, ancient player covered in dust, but it still worked, producing an oddly nostalgic whirring sound as I turned it on. I put the tape in, and clicked play.
At first, I was only met by static. The roll of tape turned, pulling an audio recording that was more than twenty years old. Then, after a few moments of dead air, a voice came through.
“7th of December, 1998. This is an interview with Agatha Florence, regarding a patient missing from Tenebris Care.”
It was Dawson’s voice, from an interview with my mother.
“Mrs. Florence, could you tell me exactly what happened?”
“Mrs. Florence, really? Come on Morgan, we’re friends. You don’t have to act all professional just because you’re the Sheriff.”
“Alright, Aggi. What exactly happened?”
She paused for a moment. “Do we really have to record this?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, but it’s protocol. Everything needs to be documented.”
“So tell me, who went missing?”
“Jonathan Henderson, he just… he wasn’t in his bed yesterday. It’s not abnormal for patients suffering from dementia to try to leave, but… he’s one of the patients that came back from death.”
“He’s one of the resurrected?”
“Yeah… they’ve all been acting strange. They don’t seem like themselves. I mean, It’s not like they’re sick anymore, nor do they have any neurological damage. We usually send them home, but Mr. Henderson was different, he was talking to himself, crying during the night. It scared the other patients, so we were going to have him transferred.”
“When was he supposed to be transferred?”
“The day after he vanished. At first we thought someone had initiated the transfer early, but there was no documentation regarding any pickup.”
“So, you think he left without being noticed, on his own?”
“No… I think – I think he was taken.”
“I don’t know.”
“How many resurrection have you seen at Tenebris Care so far?”
“And you have no idea what causes them.”
“Well…” she hesitated. “No, I don’t know.”
The interview was replaced by static, and the tape ended. I picked up the paper, which described the same case in detail, including the events that lead to Mr. Henderson’s death, and his miraculous resurrection. But something else was written there, a story I remembered myself, because I took part in it.
4th of January, 1999.
Sheriff Morgan Dawson was called in to Tenebris care alongside Officer Tyler Jenkins, due to alleged assault taking place in the basement of Tenebris care. The first victim was a 39 year old woman by the name of Agatha Florence, who suffered a laceration to her right temple. The second victim was a 6 year old girl by the name of Laura Florence, who sustained a fractured radius.
Assailant was described as 78 year old Jonathan Henderson, who had been missing prior to the incident, since the 7th of December, 1998. He hasn’t been seen since the alleged assault.
That was the nightmare that had been haunting me for the past months. The memory I’d been told was a lie, but now I had proof. Then I put the second tape recording in, and started listening.
6th of January, 1999.
“Interview with the victim of assault taking place on the 4th of January, Agatha Florence,” Dawson said.
“Aggi, you don’t have to do this if you’re not up for it.”
“I need to… I saw him. It was Mr. Henderson, but it wasn’t him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Someone was using his body. He couldn’t resist, but…”
“Aggi, you’re not making any sense.”
Before I could keep listening to the conversation, I was interrupted by Dawson returning to the evidence locker. I jumped as he suddenly stood behind me.
“You are not supposed to go through these files.”
“Sheriff, sorry. You scared me.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m just trying to figure out more about my mother. She might have the answers we need to stop these things.”
“Agatha was a talented woman, but she never figured out how to stop them.”
“How do you know that for – “
The words froze in my throat, as I realized just what was going on.
“You never call her that. You always called her Aggi.”
He didn’t respond, he just stood there and stared at me expectantly.
“Where are the sedatives?” I asked, knowing exactly what he’d done.
“We are not going to need those.”
I slowly started backing away from Dawson, knowing fully well I had nowhere to run. I still had the one syringe full of Ethorpine in my pocket, but I knew he’d be ready for it.
“Riley!” I called out.
“He cannot hear you.”
“What did you do? What happened to Morgan?”
“The poor man broke his neck on impact, but it did not stop the pain he experienced as his body stopped working. But that was not what truly broke him. What hurt the most, was the guilt he felt for allowing you to enter Tenebris. One touch of your hand, was all I needed to enter his body from the Realm of Arali.”
He pointed to his neck, and pushed it to reveal how unhinged it had truly gotten following the crash.
“Parts of him still linger. Not for long.”
He took a step closer, at which point I had no choice but to pull out the syringe. I tried to hit his jugular, but Dawson was too fast. He grabbed my arm, and pushed it against the wall. The sedative got knocked onto the floor, and he started pulling me towards the exit. Once we got to the door, I could see two more Acolytes holding onto Riley by the car, as a third one stood in front of him.
“Please, I did everything you asked me to do,” he pleaded.
But they didn’t respond, they just stared at him with their empty eyes.
“You promised to give me my daughter back. I did what you wanted. Please, let us go!”
“You did exactly what we needed,” one of them said. “You have served your purpose.”
With that, the skin on the Acolyte’s arm started cracking, allowing dark flesh to ooze out, forming an obsidian black mesh of meat on the outside. Pieces of human muscle, fat and skin started dropping, creating sickly squishes as they hit the ground. The black appendage that had been formed, was covered in white vein like structures, with rough bone covering them.
“Please, oh God, no!” Riley yelled.
But his helpless pleas brought him nothing. The Acolyte shoved its limb into Riley’s abdomen, allowing the dark meat to enter his cavities, tearing him apart from the inside. He screamed in a mixture of horror and agony as his internal organs shredded to pieces. There was nothing he could do, his body was ruined beyond repair, but still he remained conscious. For a minute, the Acolyte just held him upright, waiting for Riley to finally stop breathing. Once the life finally left his eyes, he was tossed onto the ground.
I couldn’t even scream. I just stood there and stared at Riley’s corpse. Dawson let go of my arm, and I just collapsed to the ground in shock. The Acolyte that had killed him, started falling apart, chunks of his facade fell off, revealing a dark figure underneath, covered in exposed, rotten muscle. That was their true form, and now that they had everything they wanted, they could finally shed their human vessels.
Dawson stood above me, expecting me to fight back, but it would have been a futile task.
“It is time for you to come with us,” he said. “You still have a chance to live.”