Chapters 1-5 of Horror Book:

 

 

   This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, incidents, and places are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business enterprises, or locales is entirely coincidental.

   All rights are reserved to the authors. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronically, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owners. This is a draft which is subject to revisions.

  Recommended for ages 13+


         
        Prologue

 
     What was your worst childhood fear?

     Shall we now go back to this time? Please, take a moment to refresh your memory . . . Are you there yet? After all, it was such a long, long time ago.            
     You were—oh so young, and yes totally vulnerable. Every night after being tucked into bed, you were read a nice bedtime story. Then you were given a good night kiss, and suddenly the lights went out. You were all alone, in pitch darkness nonetheless, and the only comforting thing you had to hold onto was your soft cuddly teddy bear. Every little creak had you on edge, now didn’t it? Did thunderstorms and howling winds compound your fear, causing you to pull the blankets over your head and shiver uncontrollably? If you managed to conquer these initial frights and fall asleep, then were you finally safe, or so you thought.

     You may shout out—hey you lost me, what do you mean?

     Well being asleep, not only were you alone, but your senses were totally disabled, leaving you at the mercy of anything evil lurking about. Remember when just the mere thought of ghosts, demons, and oh let’s not forget the boogeyman, perhaps every child’s worst fear, had you shaking like a leaf, now didn’t it? You probably heard horror stories of children vanishing into thin air during the middle of the night. Can you imagine what this fiend would have done to you, had he snatched you out of bed? This disturbing thought was probably embedded in the back of many lads’ minds, leaving them too afraid to even dare peek underneath their beds.

     For a moment, let’s recall those recurring nightmares. You know the ones that left you totally immobilized, causing you to sweat and pant, as it approached closer and closer. Surely it was just a bad dream, after all your screams woke up the entire household. But can you be absolutely certain it was just a nightmare, well can you?

     Now let’s try to be rational for just one moment. Certainly there’s a logical explanation to everything, right? Everyone has dreams, some more pleasant than others. We also dream every night, or so we’re told. Some experts explain that dreams are simply a representation of events, which we’ve experienced during our lives. So let’s take a moment and tip our hats off to the experts. Hip, hip, hooray!

     Whoa . . . not so fast child!

     If a dream represents actual life experiences, then how do we explain dreams depicting events, places, or people we’ve never seen before?

    Momentarily, let’s turn to the experts once more.

     They may explain that people have a special video processing center, allowing individuals to have a creative diversion throughout the night, keeping us well entertained.

     Ha, ha, you probably know that I’m just kidding, right?

     But on a serious note, how can you possibly visualize something that you’ve never seen before, and which may not exist?

     If I may, let me propose another scenario. What if your conscience is set free during deep sleep, hmmm … this is becoming very interesting.

     This opens up a whole realm of possibilities, now doesn’t it?

       You may have heard stories of individuals being possessed and simply dismissed it as ludicrous. But let’s examine some of the alternatives, before drawing up a firm conclusion.

     Most people agree that good and evil exists. To be more precise, we could attribute good thoughts and actions to be the works of God, and evil thoughts and deeds to be the works of the Devil. Some would even confide of being tempted by a nagging voice, urging them to commit some hideous and unthinkable deed.

     Have you ever experienced such a temptation? Well come on, be honest now, take a moment to think back and I’m sure something will come to mind.

     To further compound matters, let’s just suppose that someone is spiritually weak, are they more susceptible to an unfriendly takeover? Imagine a merger with a demon that can control all your actions and emotions.

     Quite interesting, wouldn’t you say! So it appears that it might be an inside job after all. Readers may yell at me once more, “you’ve lost us once again”.
      Perhaps we are too concerned with what’s around us, instead of being more aware of our inner thoughts and feelings, which could lead to our own destruction.

     Sounds like serious stuff, right?

     People often associate fear with imminent danger such as car crashes, heights, or other forms of paranoia. But isn’t the ultimate fear, fear of the Lord?

     And in this particular case, fear is a good thing, since it keeps us in check. But what about those individuals who don’t believe in God, or who are spiritually weak? Are they more susceptible of being influenced by some dark evil presence? Have you ever stared into someone’s eyes only to see emptiness? The eyes are said to be the window to one’s soul, so this could be a tell tale sign.

     Anyway keep these thoughts in mind as you read on, and you may discover an unimaginable realm of evil, beyond your wildest dreams.

 

 

Insidious decisions lead to much strife,

Jealousy and hatred bring destruction to one’s life,

Anger is an invitation to hell,

Unspeakable abominations are a certain death bell.

 

Good thoughts and prayers keep us on side,

Cursing and swearing bring about ruin like a high tide,

Temptation and deceit corrupt a child’s mind,

Like a raging inferno it makes them blind.

 

Seawater that has turned insipid like a sour wine,

Make sure what you cultivate is from a good vine,

I will cull plantations from the nations as a sign,

From young to old there will be no discrimination at the end of time.

 

Years of fuming will bring forth dissemination,

Flesh from corpses rotting in mass graves without hesitation,

Wickedness and tyranny will go up in a ball of flame,

Be careful of being false witnesses and the wrongful laying of blame.

 

Impurities in the soul will lead to one’s damnation,

Pray to the good Lord for mercy and salvation,

Cause its when you least expect it,

That a turmoil of disease, destruction and death will hit.

  

        Chapter 1

  

  Deep within,

  Bellowing cries begin.  
        
  Branches upon branches obscure the way,

  Sending frightful chills for anyone daring to stay,

 

  When you need a thrill,

  And are bored of remaining home still,

  Come to the forest and see what lies within,

  And let the excitement begin!

  

     The pace quickened, although with little effort on his part. A pack of wolves trailed closely behind. It wasn’t merely by chance that he had chosen this particular pack of wolves to hunt with; yet even so, he didn’t need them.

     All the critters of the forest made haste, scattering into oblivion. Although there was no need for concern on their part, as they weren’t the intended target.            
     Thundering explosions rang throughout the forest.

     The creature moved wickedly and decisively at neck-breaking speeds. It plunged recklessly through tree limbs, snapping branches underfoot, running for dear life. The wolves were voracious, but their leader enjoyed the thrill of the chase. A fresh coating of snow made it easier for the group to follow. Using infrared vision, he noted the elk’s distress, compounding his inner joy. 
     After fifteen minutes into the chase, the elk was on the brink of exhaustion. Its heart accelerated faster and faster, pounding with a cataclysmic force, on the verge of exploding. Oxygen starved, each desperate lunge caused its muscles to become stiffer and stiffer, now nearly metallized. Despite its culminating fatigue and multiple lacerations, it dared not slow its pace.          
     It was time to move in for the kill. His feet glided effortlessly, much like skis on a slippery slope. He accelerated, bringing the prey within striking distance. Tragically, the elk couldn’t muster enough strength to pull away from its nemesis. Now it stood helplessly facing its predator. The pursuer had managed to cleverly descend to the bottom of the hill.        
     He also had the ability to freeze time, bringing everything around him to a standstill. It was a means of relishing the moment, observing the elk’s heightened apprehension.          
     The steep descent greatly increased the elk’s forward inertia, causing its navigation to be treacherous. With sheer determination, it attempted changing direction in a last ditch effort to avert its enemy. But the pursuer cleverly anticipated this move, and with an indescribable lunge sent the elk sprawling helplessly to the ground. Sliding uncontrollably, its back careened off a tree, causing it to spin several times before coming to a halt. Winded and partially paralyzed, an indescribable anxiety set in.     
     He stared the elk down, furthering its terror.     
     His powerful arms then pinned the animal down. With much satisfaction, he lunged at the elk’s throat. A set of razor sharp teeth carved viciously into its neck. The animal’s back legs were paralyzed. Yet determined to survive, it thrashed violently with its front legs. He momentarily lost his grip, and backed off to avoid being hoofed. Then, he skillfully pounced upon the victim once more, regaining leverage and constraining its front legs. This was a moment to be savored; it was now only a matter of time.
     His mouth opened wide, flashing a set of pointy fangs, sending terror up the elk’s crippled spine. A seismic desperation set into the elk, intensified by each passing second. Its mournful cries resonated throughout the forest.            
     Mercilessly, his razor sharp teeth pierced ferociously through its neck, relishing the kill. Like a set of vice grips, his hold tightened. Blood gushed out indiscriminately, flowing like hot lava into his mouth, while also staining the surrounding snow a bright red.

     Enjoying the ritual, the wolves’ howling reached a feverish pitch. They circled wildly with anticipation, but dared not move in, yet. Draining the lifeblood from such innocent and helpless victims gave him an indescribable rush.

     Sadly, the elk lay motionless. Its body lay in a contorted state, from both the vicious impact and its futile struggle for survival. Its crazed eyes held a look of fear, horror, and an indescribable shock, all mishmashed and interwoven together, much like contorted metal resulting from a high-speed car crash.

     He stood upright, with blood still dripping down his mouth, gloating happily over the carcass. His eyes glowed with satisfaction, while the wolves hunger grew with each passing moment. Their howling choked any audible sounds within miles. Without any remorse, he casually turned around and walked away from the kill. 

     It was then, and only then, that the wolves began gorging themselves. Ravenous and with eager anticipation, they tore viciously through its flesh, painting their muzzles crimson.            
     It had been almost two years to the day, since his encounter with this pack of wolves. He could have easily destroyed them, but chose not to. The alpha male had made the grave error of challenging him, by lunging at his throat. With tumultuous power, he slammed the large specimen to the ground, yet was ever so careful as not to injure it. This symbolic act asserted his power. The pack would be needed at a later date to fulfill his plan. Kneeling over and clenching the wolf’s neck, it wildly exchanged looks with him, apparently begging for mercy. At that moment he released his grip. Still in a state of shock and simply grateful to be alive, the wolf managed only a fearful stare.  
     He had proven himself as superior to the alpha male, and the rest of the pack. They revered him. Often he joined in on the hunt. The pack was obedient, following with the utmost discretion. He protected them as his own, coming to their rescue when any had fallen in distress.       
     You see he was neither man nor beast. He had the strength of not 100, 1000, 10,000, but the strength of 12,000,000 men combined. Prophesy had spoken about him for quite some time. To many a fable spun out of folklore, to others a sign of the end of times. He’s the master of deception, the collaborator of all evil.

     He’s the Antichrist.

   
        Chapter 2

   

     The gate rattled violently, sending shockwaves throughout Rachael’s slender body. Desperately and with an immeasurable resolve, she attempted to pry it open. As the latch remained unlocked, the door should have flown open, but it simply wouldn’t budge.

     “Rachael—help me, help me,” screamed her younger brother, Andrew repeatedly. His arms flailed wildly, desperately trying to stay afloat in the backyard swimming pool.

     Trapped behind the gate, Rachael watched helplessly.

     Panic set in.

     “The door is stuck. I can’t open it,” she cried out, still attempting to pull it open.

     “Help me, help m—I’m being pulled . . .”

     Tears streamed down Rachael’s face. At the age of eleven, she was still too short to hoist herself over the six foot fence. The splashing then came to an abrupt halt.

     “Andrew, Andrew, are you okay?”

     A deadly silence followed.

     “Andrew!” Rachael screamed frantically. Panic-stricken, she wondered if one of the kitchen chairs would haul her over. She bolted for the kitchen, nearly running over the figure before her.   
     Fear gripped her veins, she stood in disbelief.

     It was her brother, Andrew decomposing rapidly. It happened so quickly, that he disappeared before she had a chance to even blink.

     Rachael shrieked.
      Her breathing was erratic, and sheer fear bound her helplessly to the bed. Over the years, this nightmare haunted her relentlessly. It had been six years since tragedy struck. Her brother, Andrew had drowned in their in-ground swimming pool at the age of six. She could not come to terms with his death. Andrew had been an excellent swimmer, swimming since the tender age of three. He had been well that morning, and had nothing to eat or drink before his swim. This was one of the rules set by their parents. Even more puzzling, and something that still tormented her, was why the gate wouldn’t budge.

     “Rachael, Rachael?” her mother, Cheryl shouted as she stormed up the stairs.

     “I’m okay. I was just having a bad dream,” Rachael barely managed.

     “Honey are you okay?” her mother repeated, sprinting into the room.

     “Mom everything is fine. I just dozed off and had a bad dream. All the studying has caught up to me.”

     Her mother breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that her daughter was okay. Being easygoing, Cheryl had never been one to overstress. But ever since her son’s death, she was constantly on edge. Yet it was more than just that. It was like an inner voice was forewarning her—beware.

     “Math, right?”

     “Uh-huh. They saved the best till last.”

     “I’m sure you’ll do fine. It’s nearly dinner time, how about if you take a break and continue studying afterwards?”

     “Sounds good. I’ll be down in a couple of minutes to set the table.”

     “Okay.”

     Rachael reached over to her nightstand and picked up Andrew’s photograph. It had been taken at the family cottage a year before the tragic incident.

     She vividly recalled the events of that tragic day, just as if it had occurred yesterday. It had been a hot July afternoon and Rachael was hosting a pool party later that evening. Ten of her closest friends had been invited, and she was planning a sleepover afterwards. She had gone upstairs to nap, so she’d be well rested. While napping, Andrew had stepped outside for a swim.

     Awakening a short time later, Rachael stepped into the kitchen for a glass of water. While standing in front of the kitchen window, she could see her brother struggling. She rushed outside, but simply couldn’t pull the gate open. Up to this day, this enigma consumed her. She had opened the very same gate many times during the year, and it never jammed. Unfortunately the bar at the bottom of the gate had been too low to have hoisted her over, and the bar at the top had been simply too high for her to reach, which would have boosted her over.

     Her father had stepped out of the bathroom hearing all the commotion. He rushed outside and with one strong jolt, the gate flew open. Shocked and in tears, she watched her father dive into the pool, valiantly trying to resuscitate her brother. While performing CPR, he screamed, “call an ambulance”. Unfortunately the paramedics couldn’t resuscitate him.

     Andrew was pronounced dead at the scene. Their family had just moved to Pennsylvania a year before the incident. It was the saddest day of her life, and one which would undoubtedly haunt her forever. Ever since, an underlying guilt tormented her. Rachael knew full well that her brother might have been saved, if only she had managed to open the gate. At age seventeen, she still couldn’t shake this guilt.

     She stepped into the washroom and splashed water on her face. Dark circles shadowed her eyes, brought on by the last two grueling weeks. Although she felt that her exams had gone well so far, it had been draining staying up until the wee hours of the morning. She patted her face dry and sprinted downstairs.

     “Oops—sorry, I didn’t hear you come in,” her mother apologized, nearly bumping into her daughter.

     “I needed to freshen up,” Rachael explained while pulling dinner plates out from the cupboard and set them on the kitchen table.

     “How’s the studying coming along?”

     “I just need to review a couple of chapters. Since I’m going in with an eighty-nine percent average, I’m almost guaranteed a pass. Although, I’m going to do my best to come out with an A,” Rachael explained.

     “I’m sure you’ll do well.”

     Rachael had been a straight A student throughout high school. Her ninety-five percent average elevated her to the top of the class. Due to her stellar performance, she was practically guaranteed acceptance from any university in the country, except Rachael had decided to take a year off to stay at the family cottage. It had been a difficult decision, since she would really miss her friends. But she felt a strong urge to do some soul-searching in order to gain a clearer perspective on life.

     Fortunately she had the support of her parents, making her decision less quarrelsome. Rachael had always been responsible, and Cheryl and Mike felt confident that their daughter would make the right decision.

     “When are you heading to up to the cottage?” her mom asked.

     “Well tomorrow night, Nora, Stacey, and I are planning to watch a movie and then go for a cup of coffee afterwards. So maybe I’ll go Saturday after lunch. I’ve already packed most of my clothing and personal stuff, so there’s not much for me to do except lug everything into the car.”

     “Would you like me to drive down with you?”

     “That’s not necessary. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Besides, I’m not scheduled for training until next Thursday, so I have plenty of time to settle in.”

     “I dusted everything off, when your dad and I went down two weeks ago. I also changed the linens and bath towels.”

     “Mom—you didn’t have to do all that. You’re both still coming later next month?”

     “Uh-huh, we’re still debating which weekend. Knowing your father, he will try to spend as much time as possible down there. It will do him a world of good. Lately, he has been under a lot of pressure; it will give him a chance to unwind. ”

     Rachael had barely seen her father during the last two months. He was usually gone by the time she headed down for breakfast and didn’t return home until after eight. “I can see why he loves it so much. It is its own world.”

     “It’s so breathtaking during the summer.” Her facial complexion darkened while pausing. “But it can get desolate, not to mention treacherous during winter. You might feel secluded amidst the wilderness during the harsh winter months,” she stated worriedly.

     “I guess I hadn’t given it too much thought, simply remembering how beautiful it was during our summer outings.”

     “Well if you get too lonely, just pack your bags and head back.”

     “Mom—don’t worry, winter is a long way off. I guess I’ll have to see how I feel, but if it becomes overbearing I’ll come home.”

  

         Chapter 3

 
     He moved with lightning speed. Yet his movements were so effortless that he appeared to possess no body mass. Anyone watching would swear that the figure literally glided across the floor, barely touching its surface. It would be a fair deduction that such movements were not conducive to that of humans.

     Preferring to dwell in complete darkness, much like his dark being, he didn’t even bother switching on the light. Not that it would have made much difference, since the light bulb was of such a low wattage. Even the walls in his study were painted black. He would have painted the entire house in the same hue, except he didn’t want to raise any eyebrows. Over the years only a select few had been invited to his home, but none were permitted inside his study. Most of his precious belongings were housed withinthis one sacred room; a room reserved for strategizing, amongst other evil scheming.

     Leaning fully back in his leather recliner, extending his long legs over the desk’s edge, he carefully planned his next move. While continuing to plot, he let out a sadistic chuckle, revealing his perfectly white teeth. Unlike his true inner self, he was quite handsome. Women were constantly flirting with him, appreciative of his good looks. He certainly fit the bill of tall, dark, and handsome. Sometimes he indulged himself, pursuing and flirting with the most attractive women; women were one of his weak points. Unfortunately, on one occasion a young woman accidentally saw his darker half. She stood in utter shock, unable to scream or run. Under the circumstances, he was left with little choice but to sever her head. It was most unfortunate, but necessary. 
     Even his business associates were treated similarly. Having enriched himself from many investments, he dealt only with the elite, but regarded himself as superior. They were pawns which could be manipulated to serve his purpose. Many times throughout his career he had crushed adversaries without them suspecting a thing. Yet, not once did he feel any remorse.

     Years ago, he had even struck a deal with a group of vampires, without divulging his true identity. This exchange was imperative in order to maintain a low profile, and for prophesy to be fulfilled. He offered them a means of remaining reclusive, and in exchange they did a lot of his dirty work. They had quite a working history.           
     He even went out of his way to help them, and on one occasion secretly assisted them to fight off a vicious pack of werewolves. Using his powers, he summoned an overwhelming number of wolves to defeat the relatively small group of twenty-five werewolves. The werewolves had been outnumbered by ten to one, and stood very little chance of victory. Despite these staggering odds, they fought valiantly with every last breath, managing to kill off only a few wolves. But after a couple of hours of violent clashing, they succumbed to these odds.
     He took great pleasure in their suffering, witnessing the werewolves being slain one by one. You see, suffering brought him the outmost joy, even more than existence itself. The action was swift and violent as he watched from his globe. No one suspected a thing, and certainly not of his involvement. The vampires were stunned to hear of their demise, but had no logical explanation. Joy encapsulated them, receiving a surge of power knowing that their longtime adversaries had been slaughtered.
     The one distinct advantage he had over all his foes was the ability to cloak his true feelings. You see he had both an inner and outer mind. His inner mind couldn’t be discerned by anyone, thus concealing his true feelings. Just as deceiving, he could plot against an adversary without them suspecting a thing. This would be crucial in carrying out his mission. Admittedly he enjoyed the vampires company, but always remained focused, trying not to get too distracted.

     In his dealings with the bloodthirsty creatures, it was the leader of the group, Silvia who set his blood on fire. He was simply enchanted by her. She moved like an eloquent princess, with her long blond hair cascading in gentle waves,all the way to her mid-back. Often he secretly watched her, simply wanting to reach out and touch her fair skin, which was smooth and unblemished. The swiftness of her movements gave him a burst of excitement. Many nights, he had envisioned himself making love to her. But in order to achieve his ultimate goal, his love had already been spoken for. The one he sought was pure, and she would bring a very special child into the world. 

     He never had intended on harming the gorgeous creature, but just needed a thrill. If circumstances had been different, he definitely would have been enamored by her. But it had taken years of scheming for him to move closer to his ultimate goal. The success of his heinous deeds rested on the fact that no one had been the wiser. Everyone simply believed that the tragic events were the victims’ unfortunate destinies.

     Inconspicuously, he had watched her grow from being a very young girl to a beautiful woman. Over the years he kept surveillance from a safe distance, making sure never to lose sight of her. Wherever she moved, he followed. Presently, he dwelled just a few blocks from her home. Although no one suspected a thing. But it wasn’t her beauty that had him obsessing over her. It was something much more crucial.          
     On the day she was born, he sensed that someone extraordinary had entered the world. She was so special. Her pureness radiated strongly, so much so, that he was able to follow her shining light and ultimately find her. She was definitely the one; the one who held the key to the world’s future. Centuries had passed, and no other woman’s aura had radiated as brightly. Rachael would play a pivotal role in determining the world’s fate. A world that would undoubtedly fall under his reign, but only if he managed to win her over. After all, his son to be would join him in achieving his mission. He could not let anyone else win her over, not until she conceived their child. “You’ll be mine and then I’ll assume full control,” he smiled sadistically, already tasting victory.

     Just as he uttered these words, his smile ebbed away.

     His intuition forewarned him that a young man would soon enter Rachael’s life. Sitting perfectly still, he stared blankly ahead as a series of visions swept before him. They were quick flashes, but yet so vivid, much like sitting in front of a TV. Right away he knew their precise meaning.

     His anger escalated, knowing that the young man would fall madly in love with Rachael. The gift of foresight was just one of his countless gifts, but yet his most precious one. Engrossed in a series of flashes before him, he remained unaware that he was clenching his fists so tightly. Inadvertently, his fingernails jabbed into the skin of his palms, causing dribbles of blood to spill and smear his hand. In his foresight, he watched as the young man continued to pursue Rachael, sensing that she too would fall head over heels in love. This enraged him.    

     “NOOOO,” he screamed, pounding his fist hard on the wooden desk. He could not and would not let this happen. Hurling his fists into the air, his face was illustrative of pure rage, turning a flaming red. It no longer held the vitality of a young handsome man, but seemed to have aged centuries. His facial features were completely transformed. Anyone witnessing this transformation would stare in terror, rendering them immobilized. “I will destroy you. First I’ll make you suffer terribly, and then I’ll enjoy watching you scream in agonizing pain. You’ll curse the day that you were born,” he vented. “I’m going to tear the life right out of you.”Satisfied, he let out a heinous laughter, which echoed throughout his home.  

     No one, absolutely no one was going to interfere with his plans.

 

          Chapter 4

 

   Pretentious Lolli:

Lolli, Lolli is no dolly,

Demonic seeds instill more folly.

Insidious thoughts and time to spare,

Come out and play if you dare!

Innocent and sweet, so you think,

Don’t let your guard down, not even to blink!

Armed to the tooth, so you’ll see,

Hopefully you don’t cross paths with thee!

    

     Monti Miles shut the door behind him, ready to perform a satanic ritual. With chalk in hand, he drew a pentagram on the floor. His movements caused the candles nearby to flicker. Dressed in a black hooded robe, he pulled out a leather-bound book from a vault and began the ritual. He had kept his dwelling in black magic a secret, a secret not even shared with his wife or best friend.

     For some time, he had been a member of a secret cult. His initiation into the dark realm was precipitated by certain disturbing events in his life. Monti had burned the midnight oil for many years at work, achieving exceptional results, profiting his employer immensely. His goal was to climb the corporate ladder. Finally, he thought his opportunity had arrived when the VP at his workplace announced his retirement. Being next in line, his outstanding achievements should’ve landed him the position. Instead it was granted to the president’s son who had just graduated from business school, with no business experience   whatsoever.
     Monti had been livid; it was like being slapped hard across the face. Obviously, he would never be given a fair chance. If his financial situation had been more secure, he would have quit on the spot. But with two young children and a stay-at-home mom that was not an option. For weeks he cursed vehemently, blaming God for this injustice and for all the other injustices in his life. His rage intensified, after losing a substantial amount of money gambling at the track. That night he drank into the wee hours of the morning, and being half-drunk swore his allegiance to the Devil.

     Since that night, Monti immersed himself in black spells and satanic worshiping. Shortly after, his financial situation turned favorably, advancing to vice-president in another company. Days later his wife announced that she was expecting another child. Monti felt like he was on cloud nine, and attributed his good fortune to his secret ceremonies.
     The following year his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. They later nicknamed her Lolli, since she had a sweet tooth for lollipops. Lolli soon won the admiration of her entire family. Her curly golden ringlets and dimples made her appear even more innocent. But Lolli was far from innocent. In fact, she was quite evil. Yet no one saw this side of her, and each of her mischievous deeds was attributed to her youth. Her family would poke fun at Lolli whenever she became irate, causing her brown eyes to seemingly become even larger, and she much cuter. Unfortunately this easy dismissal and constant fussing over her adorable features would soon cost them dearly.

     Late one evening, Lolli wanted to go play in a nearby park, but her mom wouldn’t allow it, since it was getting dark outside and she was running late with dinner to accompany her. Lolli was furious, accustomed to having her own way. Without hesitation, she grabbed a knife from the kitchen cupboard. At the age of nine she was rather tall and incredibly strong. Although Lolli’s inexplicable strength was the result of an evil force residing within. Unknowingly, her father’s satanic worshipping had infiltrated Lolli at conception.          
     Lolli hid the knife behind her back, just as her mom stepped back into the kitchen, after dumping a bag into the garbage bin. “Hi Lolli, would you like to help me wash some vegetables?”
     “Okay,” Lolli simply answered, following her mother from behind. She then raised the knife into the air, and forcibly plunged it into her mom’s back. She tugged at the knife’s handle, yanking it out ever slowly. Lolli got a rush of excitement from inflicting pain upon her mother. Blood gushed out. Her mom moaned, still remaining hunched over. Then casually, Lolli walked in front to face her mother; her mother glanced up. A terrified and confused look crossed her face, seeing her daughter with the blood drenched knife. Lolli smiled wickedly. She then raised the knife and before her mother could scream, Lolli swiped it across her throat. Without any remorse, she walked away just as if nothing had happened.

     Lolli could hear the sound of video games, meaning that her brother and sister were still playing. Quietly she stepped into the living room, stalking them from behind. An inner voice instructed her to act quickly and not to waste a second. The loud sounds emitting from the games silenced her movements. Without a second thought, she quickly slashed their throats. “Congratulations,” the inner voice applauded. Glancing up at the clock in the hallway, Lolli realized that her father would be home shortly. From the front closet, she pulled out a cloth used for polishing cars. She wiped her fingerprints from the knife, and then carefully superimposed another set of fingerprints onto the knife’s handle. Lolli’s carefully thought out actions were being directed by a dark force residing within. Before heading upstairs, she unlocked the front door. There were still two details that needed to be addressed. Scrubbing vigorously, Lolli removed any traces of blood from her person. She glanced up into the bathroom mirror, noting the blood stains on her clothing. Quickly, she stepped into her bedroom to change. Searching through her closet, she pulled out a clean t-shirt and pair of jeans. The last order of business was to discard her clothing and the cloth. After placing them inside a plastic bag, Lolli then used a broom handle to push open a folding door leading to the attic and tossed it up there for the time being. 
     A short while later, Lolli heard her father’s car pull into the driveway, as her bedroom was situated directly above the garage.      
     Monti entered the front door, and was rudely greeted by loud annoying sounds, causing him to cringe. “Hey, can you please turn down the volume a notch,” he shouted, closing the door behind him. He kicked off his shoes and could still hear the TV blaring away, nearly deafening him. As he stepped into the living room, Monti was just about to search for the remote, when he stopped in his tracks. His eyes bulged. Blood was splattered everywhere and two of his kids lay motionless on the carpet. Monti cupped his mouth. Shocked and aghast, he reluctantly stepped closer. “Oh my God!” he barely managed. The sight before him was so overwhelming that it took some time to digest. Cold reality set in, and Monti felt that he was about to puke. His mind was in a frenzy. Slowly, he backed out of the room realizing he had to find his wife and Lolli. Recalling that the front door had been unlocked and acutely aware that the attacker could still be lurking in the house, Monti quietly went to the front closet and pulled out a hockey stick in self-defense. Hesitantly, he strolled towards the kitchen, wary and repeatedly looking over his shoulder. He didn’t have to venture too far. His wife’s body lay slumped on the floor in a pool of blood. “Good God what’s happening?” Monti’s body trembled uncontrollably. Grudgingly he stepped closer, observing the atrocity. In a state of total shock, he forgot all about Lolli. Hyperventilating and moments away from fainting, Monti just wanted to scream at the top of his lungs. Supporting himself on a chair’s post, he knew he had to call the police, but waited a few moments to compose    himself.
     He dialed 911 on his cell phone. “Good God, my whole world has been destroyed.” he simply whispered.
     “Sir, are you okay? Has something happened?” the dispatcher asked, sensing his distress.
     Monti managed to sit down. His body was still shaking uncontrollably, unable to come to terms with reality. “My beautiful wife and little angels—m”     
     “Sir, what about them? Are they hurt?”
     Monti lamented, “Why would anyone do something like this?”
     “Please sir—I need to know what has happened in order to assist you.”
     Monti started whimpering and in a soft, barely audible voice, he blurted, “My family has been murdered.”
     The dispatcher could feel her heart racing wildly, “Sir, the police will be right over. Please give me your name and location.”
     Now sobbing, “Monti Miles—my address is 966 Flame Crescent.”       
     As Monti waited for the police to arrive, it struck him as odd that nothing appeared to be missing from his home. If a burglar had been present, would he not have ransacked the house? He still kept his guard up, with the hockey stick raised, just in case. Every minute seemed like eternity. He jumped at every little creak, constantly looking over his shoulder. Finally the doorbell rang. Monti quickly made his way to the front entrance. “Mr. Miles, this is the police,” Officer Trait called out. Four other officers had also arrived at his home.
     Monti rushed over and opened the door. “Something God-awful has happened.” Monti hyperventilated. “I came home and found my wife and children murdered. Good God, where’s my daughter, Lolli! I have to find her.”
     “Sir, we’ll look for your daughter, please try to remain calm,” Officer Trait consoled. “A couple of officers will look inside and if we don’t find her then I’ll dispatch a couple of officers to look outside. How old is your daughter and what does she look like?”          
     “She is nine years old and is about 4’8”. She has long curly blond hair and brown eyes.”
     “Okay, we may need a photograph later, but for now please remain here so we can proceed with our investigation,” Officer Trait informed.

     Officer Trait proceeded up the lengthy staircase with his partner, Adam trailing closely behind. They both had their guns drawn. Officer Trait stepped into the first room to his left, belonging to Lolli’s brother. They vigilantly searched the entire room. Satisfied that it lay empty and seemingly untouched by any intruders, they then moved back into the hallway ready to continue their search. The next bedroom to their right belonged to Lolli. Officer Trait and his partner stood at the doorway. Officer Trait heard creaking sounds. He motioned to his partner and they quickly positioned themselves. “This is the police, come out slowly with your hands above your head.”
     Muffled whimpers could be faintly heard coming from inside of the closet. “We repeat, come out.”
     “Please don’t hurt me,” a young voice pleaded. 
     “We are the police. Nobody is going to hurt you. Can you please come out?”
     Lolli smiled, being proud of her pretense. “Okay,” she replied in a sweet innocent tone.

     The closet door let out a loud squeak as Lolli pushed it open. In her left hand she held onto her Raggedy Ann doll. Lolli looked at the officers with a frightened expression.        

     “It’s okay. Are you hurt?” Officer Trait asked while slightly leaning over.

     “I’m okay,” she answered in a demure voice.    
     “What has frightened you?” asked Adam, trying his darndest not to further frighten the child.

     “My mommy is hurt. I saw blood everywhere, so I ran to my room.” 
     “Did you see anyone else in the house?” Officer Trait asked.    
     “No. I want to see my mommy.”

     The two officers exchanged dire looks. “Your daddy is waiting downstairs. How about if we go and let him know that you’re okay?” suggested Adam. His heart went out to the child, being a father himself.        
     “Okay.”
     The officers were careful to steer Lolli away from the hallway, leading into the living room. They didn’t want her to witness the brutal slayings of her siblings. Soon her world would be turned upside down.  
     As they approached the foyer, Lolli ran to her father. Monti embraced his daughter. Between whimpers, she asked, “Daddy, how’s            mommy?”
     “I need to speak to your father for a minute,” Officer Trait interrupted, before Monti could answer. “Wait here with Officer Adam and we’ll be right back.”   
     Officer Trait led Mr. Monti a fair distance away before speaking, “Mr. Monti, I should mention that your daughter doesn’t know that her mother is dead. Lolli stepped into the kitchen and saw blood everywhere, but simply believes that she’s hurt.  She’s also unaware that her brother and sister are also dead. We understand you may need some time alone with your daughter. It will be some time before we’re finished here. Is there somewhere else you can spend the night?” Officer Trait asked.     
     “We’ll go to my brother’s place. He lives close by.”      
     “We are truly sorry for your loss. Rest assured we’ll get to the bottom of this. If you can leave us a number where we can reach you, we’ll be in touch.” Monti and Officer Trait walked back to the foyer.
     Monti did not know how to break it to his daughter. He did not want to tell her flat out that everyone was dead, but instead opted for a simpler approach. “Mommy is not too well. She has lost a lot of blood. They brought her along with your brother and sister to the hospital,” her father stated.
     “Can we go see them?”    
     “Not right now. The officers need to finish here, so in the meantime we’ll go to your Aunt and Uncle Stephen’s house.”           
     Lolli nodded.

 

        Chapter 5


     Days later, Lolli’s father was arrested for the murder of his wife and two children. Lolli had been staying at her Aunt and Uncle Stephen’s house since the day of the killings. Sitting at the end of her bed, combing her Barbie’s hair, she carried on as if nothing had happened. Her father’s arrest and family’s death caused her no remorse. Brilliantly, she had feigned her distress, but deep down felt her family got what they deserved.

     As Lolli was fixing her Barbie’s dress, a figure immerged. A man now stood at the end of her bed. Alarmed, Lolli jumped back.    
     “Lolli, I’ve been watching you,” he simply announced.
     “Hey—where did you come from?” Lolli inquired with a startled look. She cowered away from him, sensing something powerful emitting from the man, something which she couldn’t identify. The man truly frightened her.                  
     “That’s my little secret,” he grinned slyly. Suddenly, the man performed peculiar waving motions with his hands. Lolli watched in bewilderment, unsure of what he was doing. “Speaking of secrets, I know what you did.” He spoke quite loudly, obviously unafraid of anyone overhearing them. “Hmmm, I’ll give you a little hint, are you the good girl lollipop?” he sang in a deep sardonic tone.
     Lolli froze. “I’m not sure I know what you mean!” She answered, tilting her chin up in defiance.

     “You know exactly what I mean, little girl,” he retorted. “Tonight is a very special night for your father. Arrested for murder, hey! But he wasn’t responsible, now was he? Perhaps we should go back to that particular night and see precisely what happened.” With his index finger, he outlined a circle in mid-air. “Now, let’s take a little peek, shall we?” Stunned, Lolli’s eyes widened. Inexplicably, a bubble hung in-between them. It was unlike the ones she had blown with liquid soap, being able to hold its form in mid-air. Instantly, an image began to form within the bubble and Lolli could see a miniature replica of herself standing in the kitchen of her own home. She then watched herself grab a kitchen knife from the drawer, sneaking behind her mother, and then cut her throat. What shocked her the most was that the man could recreate the scene within the magical bubble. Once the initial shock wore off, Lolli wanted to kick the man out of frustration. She was thinking of screaming, causing the man to laugh hoarsely. “Honey, it doesn’t matter if you scream your head off. No one will hear you. I took care of that as soon as I entered your room. Now I’ll cut you a deal, you can either come with me, or I can speak to the police. By the way, does this look familiar?” To prove that he wasn’t bluffing, he held open the plastic bag, revealing Lolli’s blood-stained clothing. “The choice is yours. So which one will it be?”       
     For the first time in Lolli’s life, she felt terribly afraid. Once the authorities discovered what she’d done, she would be locked away forever. This realization was quite disturbing. “I’ll come with you,” Lolli replied in a small dismissive voice.

     That same evening, Lolli fled with the man. Confidently, he led her further into the wilderness. Dusk descended upon them and the sun’s final rays were quickly swallowed by the vast forest. Lolli’s mind was still in a fog, and despite her best effort couldn’t recall how they had left her room or their travels soon after. She hated not knowing where they were going. Creepy sounds echoed from all directions. The humongous trees heightened her fears, casting shadows everywhere. Her imagination raced wildly. She envisioned the branches with their long, thin skeleton arms snatching her at any moment. Fervently, she tried to pick up speed, but the thick underbrush slowed her down. Despite her growing weariness and aching feet, Lolli dared not lose sight of the man. The last thing she wanted was to be left alone in the forest. As they continued forth, she felt several sharp pokes from pointy branches. Unperturbed, the man continued through the maze of endless trees at a steady pace, undaunted by the darkness or their cumbersome travels. Tired and afraid, Lolli wished to be tucked safely in bed.
     Suddenly, the man stopped in his tracks. “Here we are,” he announced.          
     “But it is dark and cold outside,” Lolli protested, hating being in the midst of nowhere.

     “Whether it becomes freezing cold or scorching hot outside, variations in temperature won’t affect you. I’ve given you special powers, which I can also take away if necessary. These powers will help you cope out here, so nothing can harm you. Also, I can hear what you’re thinking. Furthermore, if I need to tell you something, you will be able to hear me as well. To put it simply, we can communicate telepathically. So if you need help, or find yourself in some kind of trouble, I’ll know. Now watch this.” Lolli stared ahead, bewildered as he magically vanished. She then felt a light tap on her shoulder.

     Spooked she jerked around, and saw him standing directly behind her. “Hey, how did you do that?” she pouted.           
     “Let’s just say it’s another one of my gifts. It’s quite simple, I think of where I want to be, and then I appear there. It helps me to move from place to place, especially when I need to move ASAP. Let’s try this together. Let’s shimmer to the top of that large hill.” He pointed, showing Lolli the intended location. On the count of three: one, two, three.”    
     Like a flash of lightening, Lolli was transported. She stood on a large knoll, totally flabbergasted. Once the initial shock wore off, she blurted, “Wow this is great! I can go anywhere I want, whenever.”   
     Sternly, he cautioned. “Hold on just one minute. This gift is to be kept a secret. You can’t allow anyone to see you shimmer. So first you must scout the general area to make sure no one is watching. If people start learning of our gifts, it will cause us a lot of problems. You need to be very careful, otherwise I will be forced to take away these powers. Do you understand, little girl?” He leaned over, staring her down. 
     The undertone in his voice made her shiver. She knew that he wouldn’t tolerate any disobedience, whatsoever. Something about him made her terribly afraid. Lolli loved her new gift far too much to give it up. She dreamed of all the things she could do. “I promise to be careful.”
     “I will be in touch soon. In the meantime you’re going to be my eyes and ears. I want to know everything that happens around here. Understood?”
     “Okay,” Lolli answered as if she was simply going to take a stroll through the park. He then abandoned her in the dead of the night to fend for herself.       
     Just as he left, she realized that she didn’t know his name. She wondered how she would call out to him. As she thought this, a voice entered her mind, “My name is …” Lolli could hear him say his name loud and clear, just as if he was standing next to her.

     He had plans for her. Not only would Lolli be his eyes and ears, but she would also carry out his dark evil deeds whenever necessary. He would use the girl to his advantage. But if she ever crossed the line, he would quickly dispose of her. After all, he was the Antichrist and had no remorse, whatsoever.
    
     After a good night’s rest, Lolli was excited to explore the forest. Eager to test out her new gift, she didn’t give any second thought to the comforts that she had left behind. Lolli shimmered from one location to the next, laughing and enjoying herself. As she was shimmering from one place to the next, she spotted a brown and white hare. Lolli’s eyes widened with excitement. She had always wanted a pet rabbit. Lolli figured that by shimmering next to it, she might be able to catch it—and oh what fun that would be. She wanted to jump up and down and clap, but couldn’t risk making any noise, ultimately scaring it away. Engrossed in play, she shimmered happily from one location to another, while the hare darted crazily about to avoid being captured. Just like taking one giant leap, Lolli shimmered behind it, snatching the hare before it had a chance to hop away. The hare tried desperately to flee from her tight grasp, but to no avail. She cuddled closely with her little fury friend, stroking it gently. “I always wanted a bunny and now I got my wish. You’re going to be my special friend. What shall I call you?” Lolli considered what to name her new friend as it trembled slightly within her grasp. Lolli brought it close to her face, rubbing her nose against the hare’s nose. “You’re so soft and cuddily,” Lolli was overjoyed. Feeling threatened, the hare made a fervent attempt to flee. Viciously, it kicked indiscriminately at Lolli’s face, scratching and hurting Lolli before dashing off. “Ahhh,” she yelled, and upon touching her cheek was traumatized to see blood smeared all over her hand. Enraged that she would be permanently scarred, Lolli set out after the hare. She saw it flee towards a small thicket. It was shivering uncontrollably. Furious, she shimmered next to it and snatched the hare viciously, yanking it from the back of its neck. It wiggled and whimpered, frantically trying to escape Lolli’s fierce grasp. “Bad little rabbit! You know that you shouldn’t have done that!” she scolded angrily. Fueled with contempt, different scenarios played out in her mind as to how to even the score. Lolli hadn’t eaten in several hours and began to feel her tummy rumble. Food had always been provided to her and she was unsure of what to do next. Just as she was thinking about her next move, a voice echoed inside her head.

     “The hare will provide you sustenance,” she heard him speak. As Lolli stared down at the hare, she felt a sudden change taking hold from within. Her body felt strange, almost like it was undergoing some type of metamorphosis, and her skin felt scorching hot. She stared down at her hands, which were no longer supple and smooth, but had become coarse and bumpy. Bewildered, she then watched as her nails turned into claws, sharp and pointy, easily capable of ripping something apart. Like some inner voice was directing her, Lolli held the hare directly in front of her mouth. With her left hand she secured the hare’s front legs, and with her right hand she held its back legs. Her hunger grew rapidly, until she could no longer resist. Instinctively, she sank her pointy teeth into its flesh. A loud wail engulfed the air. Sadistically, she continued ravaging it. The hot sweet blood flowed down her throat, bringing her much satisfaction. Gorging herself indiscriminately, she tore not only through its flesh, but crunched viciously through bones as well.
     “The rabbit was yummy, wasn’t it?” she heard him speak to her. Satisfied, she licked her lips in delight.

     The smell of blood hung thick in the night breeze, puddling near Lolli’s feet. Engrossed in her first taste of blood, Lolli was unaware of their presence. A set of eyes remained glued to her. They gave chase, but their efforts proved futile. Instinctively, she looked up and her body flew to the treetop. She shivered uncontrollably, hanging on for dear life. A pack of wolves were howling below, having picked up the scent of blood. Her new power had proven to be a lifesaver. The wolves eventually dispersed, and Lolli shimmered back to the ground. All that remained of the hare was one foot, which she kept for good luck.          

       

     The next day, a statewide search had been ordered for Lolli. Stunned and sickened with worry, Lolli’s aunt and uncle couldn’t understand how Lolli had simply vanished. They had checked all the doors to their home, noting that they still remained locked from the inside. The police had questioned them for hours, but they too couldn’t explain her disappearance. Under the circumstances, the police assumed that Lolli had somehow fled after learning about her father’s arrest and the death of the rest of her family. After all, it was common for children to run away under such dire circumstances.    
     They erroneously assumed that she would soon be found.

 
      

 Chapter 6

 

     Derek stood amongst the towering giants. Gazing into the sky, he followed the hemlock’s branches, which extended endlessly upwards. He then took a moment to enjoy the quiet and peaceful setting. It was only now and again that the silence was interrupted by birds chirping and the rustling of leaves.

     After a winter of being confined indoors, it was a blessing to be breathing the spring’s fresh air. As he trekked through the forest, he took mental notes of particular landmarks. Even though there were hundreds of trees before him, identical species were still unique. Also, the terrain rolled gently for the most part, until he encountered a steep incline. A compass was clasped tightly in his hand, almost as if his grip would steady his footing down the slippery slope. With the aid of the compass, he continued to hike in a northwesterly direction. Without it he would be circling endlessly through the forest, much like a mouse trapped in a complex maze.

     Marveling over nature’s beauty, he didn’t see the object protruding slightly above the earth’s crust and took an unexpected leap forward. “Yikes!” His outstretched hands broke his fall. Derek rose slowly, unhurt, but his jeans were muddied at the knees. He had felt his foot kick into something, so he carefully backtracked. Taking a couple steps back, he noticed something.

     Curiously, he studied the object protruding from the ground. But even leaning directly over it, it was impossible to tell what lay buried. He searched nearby for a twig to dig away at the soil. Beside a robust tree trunk, he found a rather large twig and meticulously began scraping away. Fortunately the ground remained relatively soft, having rained the night before. Within minutes, Derek had managed to scrape away enough mud and debris to expose a silver case. He then grasped the object firmly and felt the case slowly tearing away from the ground.   

     “Come on, come on,” he muttered to himself. His fingers hurt from his tight grasp, but time was of the essence. The last thing he wanted was someone strolling through the forest and stumbling upon his discovery. After several more yanks, the case tore from the ground. It was slightly larger than his outstretched hand. Studying it carefully, he was mystified by the strange symbols engraved on its top and sides. He remained perplexed as to their meaning, but figured they were words in an ancient language. As he tilted it to get a closer look, Derek heard something rattle inside. Only a small metal latch secured the case. Derek gently pushed upwards, and it gave way. Whatever lay inside was wrapped in a dark wine colored cloth, tied at one end with a gold tassel. His curiosity peaked. Gently, but with eager anticipation, his fingers worked feverishly to remove the tassel’s knot. Finally having unraveled it, he dumped the tassel back into the case and unfolded the cloth.

     His eyes bulged, never having seen anything like it before.        
     “Wow!”

     It was simply magnificent. Holding it in his right hand, he was mesmerized by the glistening gem reflecting light in a dazzling array of colors. Flabbergasted, Derek admired the oval gem, while a myriad of thoughts whirled through his mind. He then held it up to the sunlight, astonished by its magnificent deep crimson color. While fingering the stone, he noted that its edges were smooth like silk. His first instinct was to have it appraised. Just the gem’s sheer size, about the size of walnut, was indicative of great monetary value. Exactly how much would be interesting. It then dawned on Derek that it would be too risky to remain with the stone in the open for too long. Already two hikers had cut through the other side, just a short while ago.

     Carefully wrapping the gem in its original cloth, Derek carefully placed it back into the case. He then slipped off his jean jacket to conceal the case. With long purposeful strides and the case tucked underneath his armpit, he headed back to his car. His long lean legs propelled him up the steep incline with relative ease. Derek was much stronger than his appearance, and even his buddies that were a lot bulkier, had yet to beat him in an arm-wrestle.