by Jason R. Davis
“This place is a mess.”
Lizzie looked around the front entry way to the house and agreed with her best friend. Sarah had never been one to mince words and was known for being extremely blunt. Which is why when she said this place was a mess, Lizzie had to wonder why she was being so nice. The place was a dump.
“Yeah, it sure is.”
“And what is that smell? It smells like.., did your uncle have a cat?”
“I’m not sure. He might have.”
“It smells like urine.”
“Oh my God, he didn’t piss all over the place did he? If we find piss stained furniture, I’m gone.”
Lizzie took another step into the room, herself trying not to gag as the smell was overpowering. Did her uncle have a cat? The lawyer hadn’t said anything, but there really hadn’t been too many details. It had been a quick meeting. Her Uncle Michael had passed away and as she was his next of kin, inheriting his house and money.
She was surprised the when the lawyer had told her just how much money. She didn’t know too much about her uncle. He had stayed away from her family while she had grown up and her dad had only talked about him in passing here and there, but the stories were always tinged with a sadness and she could tell her dad never like to talk about him. She had no clue where he had made all his money. It hadn’t been from working as the little she did know was that he hadn’t had a job in over twenty years. So even without working he had owned a house, a car had hardly been driven in the twenty years he had owned it, and still left her nearly half a million dollars.
Lizzie still couldn’t believe it. As she stepped into what was obviously the living room of the small house, she thought about how she had just gone from about to being evicted because she couldn’t pay her rent two months in a row to now having a house and a small fortune. It had come to her just as simple as taking that next step into the room.
Though looking at the room around her, it was impossible to imagine that someone with all that money lived there. The couch and lounge chair both looked like they were as old as the house and there were clear indentations in the fabric of where he liked to sit. The floor had garbage wrappers and discarded boxes from microwave dinners and pizza boxes. There was a spot where the tv had once been, but as there had been some kind of explosion, the wall was blackened around the clear rectangle shape, a ghost of what had been there. She guessed that under the piles of newspapers there would be the coffee table, but she was afraid to touch any of it to find out.
“So how much do you think to have someone come in here and just nuke all this stuff?” Sarah walked up behind her, having checked out the room directly opposite. Sarah was her roommate, though if Lizzie moved into the house now that she owned it, a house, she finally owned a house, the thought still amazed her, she wasn’t sure if Sarah would join her. It wasn’t like they would still be living in the city and it was a forty minute drive to get back.
It would be rough for her if Sarah didn’t stay. Sarah was like a sister to her, though she was the blonde to Lizzie’s dark auburn locks. Sarah was the beautiful one and Lizzie was the normal bookish one or Sarah was the Yin to Lizzie’s Yang. Lizzie didn’t have too many people she could still count on besides her brother, and it was hard, near impossible to talk to him.
What was she going to do if Sarah stayed in Steven’s Point?
“I have no idea.” Lizzie said as Sarah stepped around her over to the table buried in the far corner. Lizzie hadn’t noticed it at first as there was mounds of books and papers surrounding it that nearly buried it. How much stuff could her uncle really have, but as she approached the far corner, she could tell these papers were different. Maybe it had been what had caught Sarah’s attention.
She was right, as she saw Sarah picking up the first of the loose discolored pages and then looked back at her.
“What’s all this stuff?”
“No clue.” She reached down at another stack of pages and touched it. The paper felt course and brittle. She was afraid to pick it up, but it was hard to read even though the words were large. It was all hand written stuff, but as she scanned the different texts she could tell the penmanship of various authors. Some it looked like would be easier to read as they were written in large block letters, but some were going to be a challenge as it was in small cursive strokes. It all looked extremely old.
“Was your uncle into satanism?”
Lizzie looked over at the page Sarah had in her hand. There was a large six pointed star with each point touching a surrounding circle and beneath it was drawn a man. The print by the man was very large making sure there was no doubt when it had been written. The man was meant to be ‘the sacrifice.’
Lizzie saw Sarah visibly shudder as she dropped the page back onto the pile and she shared her friends disgust. The house alone was disgusting, but she couldn’t imagine her uncle being into that stuff as well. Though she hadn’t known him. Just what else were they going to find in the house?
“Lets hope not. I don’t want to find some hidden room in the basement where did all his blood sacrifices.”
“Yuck! Maybe thats where that awful smell is coming from.”
“Sarah!? Now you got me worried we’re going to find a closet full of dead animals or something.”
“Hey, are you going to keep the house or just get rid of it? You have plenty of money now, why not buy a condo in the city?”
Lizzie thought about that as she stepped around the large lazy boy chair that was center to the room. The room was dark, and in doing so, she hadn’t seen a spot where something had soiled the carpet until she stepped in it. She looked down and saw something dark smearing up around her shoe and she grimaced. It was so dreary in here, why did she think she was going to keep the house? Sarah was right, it would be so much easier just to sell the house and then she wouldn’t have to worry about losing her friend.
She made it to the window and pulled the curtains open, hoping that a little light would make the place not so depressing. That was a mistake. One tug on the curtain and the curtain rod above split in half, both sides collapsing to the floor in a pile of tattered cloth and dust. She coughed as the dust attacked her lungs and she had to step back.
The room stayed dark despite the bright sun outside. The windows she had tried to reach were both painted black and in places there were boards nailed into the sides.
“Why would your uncle do that?”
“Maybe he was a vampire.”
“Haha, I have no idea. My dad had said he was crazy.”
“I am starting to agree with him.”
Lizzie went back to the short hallway in the entryway. She couldn’t take the cramped room anymore and there still much more of the house to explore. With any luck the living room was the worst of it. It had to be right? Since that was the room he had spent the most time in.
After a few deep breaths of clean air, enjoying that they had left the front door open, she went into the other room. It was what many would use for a dining room, though it had shelves into the walls and fancy plates decorated those shelves, dust covered any designs. The rest of the room showed no trace of it having been used for dining purposes as the table in here was missing all the chairs. More papers littered the room and the table was spilling over with piles of books. Many piles had already given up standing and there contents had sometime in the past collapsed to the floor to now be covered in dust where they fell.
“Hey you, don’t be doing that?” Sarah rushed to join her in the room and they both stood around the room. Sarah was looking at the shelves. “Why did he have those?”
“What?, wait, what did I do?”
“You left me behind. I don’t want to be in here alone.” Sarah leaned down so she could get a closer look at the plates. “I never took your uncle for the sort to have nice stuff like this.”
“He used to be married. Maybe those had been my aunt Cynthia’s?”
“Really? Like he had been normal once?”
“I guess.” She tried to recall some of the stories her had had told her about him, but there hadn’t been that many. “Cynthia had passed away before I was born and I know it had been shorty after they had gotten rich and stuff. It wasn’t too long after they bought this house I think. I think he bought this house for her and stuff as it had been close to her family.”
“So like, her family lives around here?”
She really did own this house now. It was so weird to think about. She had a house, and she had money. She could pay off her car and her student loans. She could even buy a new car, not that cheap piece of junk she was driving, but she could get a nice car, something really flashy. After all, she had all that money, why not spend it.
Of course, the lawyer had advised her that some of it would go to taxes and there was some kind of payment she would have to make for getting the inheritance, but even with all that, she still had more money than she could have made working most her lifetime.
Now she could have some real fun. She could get rid of this house, or just keep it and buy more houses. Maybe thats what she would do, start buying houses and renting them out. She could become a real estate mogul like Donald Trump. No, not like him, she didn’t want to be known for being a douche and eventually she’d probably have to kick people out or stuff.
But she could do stuff. She could really do things, she no longer had to worry about paying her cell phone bill, waiting for it to get turned off before making a payment arrangement to give her that little more time to come up with the money. She didn’t have to worry about all the bill collectors as they called trying to get the power bill paid or the gas bill. Her cable wouldn’t keep getting turned off because she didn’t have the money to pay it. Hell, she could probably buy the cable company and be done with it.
Okay, so she didn’t have quiet that much money, but she had a lot. What was she going to do with it all?
It was so odd. When her parents had passed away, they hadn’t left her with much. Her dad had been sick for so long and most their savings had been lost to paying the doctor bills. The house was in foreclosure when they had both died in a car crash, so the bank had taken it. Their life insurance policies had been a bare minimum, left overs from her mom’s work and had been just enough to cover funeral costs.
It was hard thinking about that. They had been gone a couple years now and still each day passed she still thought of them. Wanted to call them, tell her about the good things and bad that happened. She craved to hear the sound of her mother’s voice as she scolded her for not spending so much. As much as it had hurt when her mother would nag at her, she missed it, knowing that each time her mother had come down on her it was all because she had loved her daughter and was just trying to take care of her the best way she knew how.
Then there was her dad. He had been such a gentle man, and a good man who had always been there for her. Even when it would upset her mother, her dad, he always had her back. If he happened to visit her in the city and see that she was low on food, or the more often nothing but moldy old left overs, he would sneak her a few hundred bucks when her mom wasn’t looking. When her power had been cut off because she couldn’t afford to pay the bill, he had gone behind her back to the power company and paid it.
He had been her keeper, her confidant, her rock she had always looked up too. Now they were both gone, and she was left with only this damn house and the money. She wouldn’t have to worry about the power bill any more, but what she really wanted was to just have that one more phone call with them.
“Hey, I thought Jessica and Dennis were coming? What happened, Dennis couldn’t keep his pants on this morning?” Sarah asked on her way out of the room through a swing door on the other side.
“I don’t know, they were supposed to show up to meet us but then Jess called saying they weren’t coming. I think Dennis’ dad came up.”
“Uh-oh, more lectures from Father Tony about the dangers of pre-marital sex.” Sarah’s voice was muffled as the door swung closed behind her. Sarah never seemed to understand that Lizzie couldn’t hear her when she walked to other rooms and now Lizzie could hear the muffled sound of Sarah continuing on. Lizzie didn’t need to hear it to know what she was saying. Dennis’ father, Father Tony as they liked to call him was a Catholic priest who always lectured them all on their lifestyles. Thankfully they lived hours away so he didn’t come up to visit their friends too often, but when he did, they were all in for his sermons.
“I never know why he is so hard on them. Everyone knows they are going to tie the knot. They’ve been together since before Roland and I broke up.” Lizzie said. She made sure to talk loud enough for her friend to hear as she was focused in on one of the plates. It was different than the others. It had a black tarnish to it and the gold that ran the edge was almost glowing red. It drew her in and she couldn’t help herself as she neared it and was reaching out to touch it. The dust didn’t settle on it like the others. He must have handled this one more often or actually spent time to clean it. There was an image on the front of a woman dancing and as she watched, she could have sworn that the woman was moving in the light, that she was turning.
A scream came from the other room, breaking her out of her reverie. It seemed strange. She heard the scream, and knew it was coming from the kitchen. Logically it had to be her best friend, and the scream sounded terrified, so Lizzie had to wonder why she wasn’t running in there. It took her a moment to fully pull herself back into reality, away from the scene in the plate.
Then she found herself running for the kitchen door. It was one of those both ways doors, the hinge swiveling. She burst through it, and stopped, trying to comprehend what it was she saw.
Dead Friends is a current work-in-progress from Jason R. Davis. Davis has been working on this for awhile and it is his most ambitious project to date. He expects the book to be twice as long as anything he has previously written. Already he has posted nearly 30 chapters on his own blog, http://www.jasonrdavis.com, and says that he feels that he is only half way through the story.
Dead Friends is within his Edge of Darkness series which follows both his Guardian trilogy and Invisible Spiders trilogy.
You can find his work on Amazon and news about his current WIP at www.jasonrdavis.com