Parasite (Shadows of the Past Book II) Chapter 9

Chapter 9

The despair of the past few days was washed away by the exhilaration of racing headlong through the woods with no restrictions. This was his second pass on the circuit he and his father had cut from the forest behind their house. Reacquainted with the features of the path after his first go round, this time he decided to see just how fast he could run the route.

He was ripping around the second curve, dirt spewing from beneath all four tires as he leaned into the turn and cranked the throttle wide open. The four-wheeler leapt forward as the first long straightaway came into view. Suddenly a figure stepped out of the dense forest, right into the middle of the path, and Anthony’s mouth went dry with fear when he recognized Randy’s bulk blocking his way.

He whipped the handlebars to the right, cutting through the dense weeds, bouncing crazily over downed tree limbs as he skirted around Randy. He nearly lost control but he managed to get himself back onto the path and straightened out beyond Randy. He stopped, his hands shaking, his knees weak, as he looked back over his shoulder to find Randy casually sauntering towards him.

Anthony popped the clutch and twisted the throttle wide open just as Dave jumped out of the weeds and tried to grab the handlebars. Dave was sent sprawling into the weeds as Anthony sped away. He bounced over the path, the engine revving, glancing over his shoulder to see if anyone was chasing him. He failed to set himself for the next turn and instead of remaining on the path the four-wheeler spun out into the dense forest.

He pushed himself away from the four-wheeler as it rolled into the brush, tumbling through the trees, slamming into a bramble of fallen tree limbs. He lay there for a moment, pain coming from his left knee and lower back as the four-wheeler sputtered and died somewhere to his right.

Where did they come from? he wondered as he lay there listening to the voice of the forest around him. Like a curtain descending, all noise ceased as the sound of approaching footsteps filled the void.

They were coming for him.

Pushing himself back to his feet, he searched the forest for any sign of their approach. To his left he spotted movement and saw Randy calmly walking towards him with a strange animal at his heels. Dave joined him and together they approached him with a leisurely stride; it was as if they knew they had all the time in the world to do as they pleased, which frightened him more than anything else. Anthony turned and ran into the forest, following the trail he knew would lead back to his house.

Reaching his house, he raced through the kitchen door and crossed to the basement door, tracking mud across his mother’s clean floor, taking the steps two at a time, risking a headlong fall to the concrete floor below. He made his way to his father’s small workshop tucked away in the far corner. Above the workbench an assortment of tools hung from a pegboard; along the right side of the workbench was a row of drawers. Anthony opened the second one down and reached into the shadowy recesses at the back of the drawer. He pulled out a tin box and pried off the lid to reveal an object wrapped in an oily rag.

Hidden inside the rag lay a well-maintained Colt model 1911 45-caliber pistol. Unwrapping the weapon, he laid the rag on the surface of the workbench and pulled back the slide as his father had shown him just that spring. Locking the slide back, he slapped a full clip into the handle and released the lever holding the slide. It slid forward, ramming the blunt nose of a bullet into the chamber. Pushing the pass through safety button on the trigger guard from safe to fire, he crossed back to the steps and paused for a moment as he struggled to catch his breath.

He had a moment to consider what he was doing, to take stock of the situation, as it were. He only had two options open to him. Let Randy and Dave take him and do as they pleased, possibly resulting in his death. Or kill them both.

It wasn’t possible for Randy to still be alive. He’d seen him fall, had heard the sickening crunch of his body slamming into the stones at the bottom of the cliff. But here he was, coming after him again, and this time he knew there would be no turning back. Something had brought Randy back, be it for revenge, or worse. Anthony hadn’t matured to the point that such a notion would be considered impossible. His young mind was still wide open to any number of explanations for Randy’s return, most of them with sinister origins.

He had come back from the dead to get him, and that animal he’d seen with him, that strange creature that looked like a cross between a fox and a turtle was somehow involved.

His decision made, he pulled himself up the steps with the pistol heavy in his hand. His father had taught him earlier that year to shoot, while his mom had been away at her sister’s. She never would have agreed to such a thing had it been proposed so he and his father had kept it as a secret between them. Another of the many secrets fathers and sons normally kept from mothers and wives.

Stepping into the back yard, Anthony scanned the forest for any sign of Randy’s approach. He heard footsteps in the leaves covering the forest floor and he waited, watching that section of trees the sound seemed to be originating from.

Randy came into view, followed by Dave, and Anthony had a moment to take a closer look at the bully who’d made his life a living hell. On one side of his head, a bulge protruded from beneath his long hair, giving him a lopsided appearance. His clothes were covered with a black substance that took Anthony several moments to identify as dried blood. Dark trails traced lines from each of his ears, across his top lip, under his nose, and from each corner of his mouth.

That crunch he’d heard had to have been Randy’s skull shattering. That realization awakened a cold ball of fear in the pit of his stomach. If he could come back from such a fall what chance did bullets have against him?

“Don’t come any closer,” Anthony shouted as he took a shooter’s stance. His feet shoulder-width apart, toes aimed at the target with his knees slightly bent, leaning forward at the waist to ride out the recoil and keep his balance while firing. He held the pistol in both hands, his right wrapped around the handle with his trigger finger pointing straight out along the barrel.

Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire, his father’s voice whispered in his mind. His left hand cupped his right hand, adding stability, as the loaded gun weighed nearly eight pounds.

Randy stopped for a moment and looked at him. As their eyes locked, Anthony realized it was no longer Randy. He was there, yes, but something else inhabited his body as well, something associated with the strange animal that sat along the tree line watching the events unfold.

Randy shrugged and took another step forward.

Anthony wrapped his finger around the trigger and gently squeezed. The gun bucked in his hand as the sound of the shot shattered the stillness of the forest with a sharp report that rolled away like thunder.

He missed.

He fired again, riding the recoil like his father had shown him, letting the muzzle of the pistol rise up before bringing it back down on his target.

His third shot sent a plume of dirt into the air directly in front of Randy, who hesitated for a moment before taking another step.

The fourth shot found its mark.

At distances over fifty yards, the effectiveness of a forty-five slug is greatly diminished. Within that range, its stopping power is legendary. Randy was only thirty yards away.

The blunt-nosed slug slammed into Randy’s left knee, shattering it on impact with the bone, the resulting shrapnel slicing through tendon and muscle and flesh. The force of the impact nearly bent his leg backwards at an impossible angle, and Randy dropped to the ground as the animal that had been watching from the edge of the forest started running around in frenzied circles, acting as if it too had been hit.

Strangely, though, Randy never made a sound as he hit the ground. The only sound was that of the report vanishing into the distance like thunder rolling across the silent forest.

Under Anthony’s watchful eye, Dave pulled Randy back into the forest, followed by the animal that stopped for a moment and looked back at him with two mismatched eyes. He felt its presence, a tickle of primitive recognition at the base of his neck, a whisper at the edge of his consciousness, a cold, emotionless sound that filled him with growing terror.

After they were gone, he fled back into the house and raced to the bathroom, where he promptly threw up. It wasn’t over, not by a long shot, and he’d have to keep a close watch on things. They would be back and the thought brought to mind the image of his mother in the kitchen alone, facing what lay in the forest just beyond the back door.

He had to tell someone.

But who?

Who would listen to a twelve-year-old kid with a crazy story of a bully coming back to life after he’d killed him? 

They’d lock him up for sure.

Chapter 8                       Chapter 10

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