Pieces of Nine: Part V – A Serialized Story

Pieces of Nine

Part V

Jerry reached into the box for the key. I smacked his hand and said, “NO!”

“What d’ya’ mean ‘no’?” he said.

“I mean that we can’t go in there, Jerry.” I answered.

“But we have to, Kev. We’ve come this far.”

“I don’t care. You read what the Captain wrote in that book. We don’t know how to work whatever’s behind that door.” I told him.

I closed the lid on the box and started pulling Jerry by the arm back into the tunnel. We had to leave. We had to get out of that house. I could feel the talisman pulling me toward the door. I could actually feel it. It felt like falling down into a deep pit… like being sucked into a whirlwind. The walls the tunnel started moving in and out, like they were breathing or something. My vision was blurring, all the time Jerry was fighting with me and pulling back downward toward the door.

His arm slipped through my sweaty hand. I fell down and bumped my head. I must have passed out for a short time. I heard Jerry screaming from further down the tunnel.

“NO! NO! No, please… Help me, Kevin! ARRRGGGH!”

Silence… then a loud CLANG!, as the iron door slammed back into its jamb. There was total darkness. The walls no longer glowed as they had before, or had we just imagined that? I had to take flash light out and turn it on. I pointed it down the tunnel toward the room that I knew was just a few yards down there.

“Jerry?” I whispered into the gloom. “JERRY!?” I yelled.

My voice seemed to be absorbed by the granite walls of the tunnel, seemingly carrying no further than a foot or so. I had never been so scared in all my life. I ran back down into the room. I had to. I had to help my friend. When I entered the room with the granite podium and the great iron door, I realized that it was empty… deathly still. The tool bag that Jerry had been carrying was on the floor by the door. The key from the box was in the lock.

I could not bring myself to open the door. I just couldn’t. I realized then that I had peed my pants. There were tears streaming down my face. I was breathing in huge gasps. I took the key from the lock and put it back in the box on the podium. I grabbed the tool bag and ran back up the tunnel. I took the granite steps three at a time till I reached the part of the tunnel where the floor and walls were dirt. I ran on till I ran straight into the wall. I fell back on my butt and shined the light ahead of me. The wall in the basement had closed!

I screamed, “HELP!”

I stood up and began banging on the wall with my fists and the flashlight. The light went out. I screamed again.

“Please! Please open!”

The wall made the grinding noise as it slid back about three feet into the basement. I stopped breathing. I could just make out the dim moonlight illuminating the basement floor. I ran into the basement as quickly as I could, fearing that the wall would change its mind and not let me leave. Almost as soon as I cleared the opening, the wall began to grind back into place. I fell down on the floor under the window and just shivered and shook.

Once I calmed myself just a bit so that I could think, I began to wonder how many people the talisman had lured to their doom over the years. Avery’s Point and surrounding areas had their share of disappearances. I wonder how many were led here, to this basement, in this unholy house. How many? I vowed right then that my friend Jerry would be the last. I opened the tool bag and took out Jerry’s flash light and the box of kitchen matches.

I ran up the stairs into the kitchen. On the center counter there was an old glass oil lamp. It still had a full reservoir. I grabbed it, removed the globe, and lighted the wick with one of my matches. It lit up at once, with a smell of stale fuel oil. I took the lamp into the dining room where there were two other similar lamps. I lighted them with the one from the kitchen. I took one in each hand, leaving one burning on the dining room table, and went into the den/library.

I threw one against the glass covered shelves on the left side of the room. It shattered the glass doors and itself exploded as it impacted with them. The oil in the reservoir splattered onto the old, dry books within. They blazed up immediately. I turned and threw the other lamp against the shelves on the opposite wall, with the same effect. I ran back into the dining room. I took the lamp that I had left in there and smashed it down onto the dining room table. The old, dry tablecloth flamed up.

With everything beginning to burn hot, I ran back down into the basement. I grabbed the tool bag and my lunch pail, which we had left there earlier, and stood on the stool under the window. I shimmied my butt back over the casement and out in the hedges along side of the house. I stood up and ran. I ran all the way back down the street as fast as I could. I ran all the way till I got to the clubhouse in the woods. I didn’t see anyone on the streets. I hoped no one had seen me.

Once back at the clubhouse, I changed back into my costume and tucked the tool bag and lunch pail under it. I tried to act as normal as possible. My heart was beating a 1000 beats a minute, it seemed. I calmly walked back home. When I got there, I emptied the tool bag and carefully put everything back where I had found it in dad’s workshop. I went up the back steps and into the house. Mom and dad were sitting in the living room. Dad was snoozing in his chair and mom was reading a magazine.

“Well, there you are.” Mom said. “You look flushed. You didn’t get sick eating all that candy, did you?”

“Uh… yes, ma’am. I might have eaten too much. May I be excused?” I asked.

“Yes, dear. You go upstairs and wash up. I’ll be up in a bit to check on you.” she said.

I went upstairs and cleaned up and got ready for bed. It was already after 8PM. I’m glad my dad was sleeping. If he’d been awake, he probably would have whipped me for coming home that late. Mom was not quite as strict. She would cover for me, as usual. I doused the lights and climbed into the upper bunk above George. His bed was empty. He was staying over at a friend’s that night. Mom came in a little while latter and made sure I was OK, then she left me alone.

In a little while, I could hear sirens and bells ringing. They were the bells down at the old fire station on Nantucket Drive. I knew why they were ringing. The house burned into the ground that night. The firemen couldn’t even begin to battle that blaze. All those old books and dried wooden furniture and framing went up like so much tender. The fire was determined to be accidental, but no one ever tried to explain what caused it. The town had a bulldozer crew out there a few days later leveling the property.

And Jerry? I was awoken early the next morning by my mother and a crying Mrs. Keene, Jerry’s mom.

“Kevin?” my mom asked, “Weren’t you with Jerry last night?”

“Yes’m” I answered.

“Where did you go?” she asked.

“We went only as far as Indigo, like you said, mom, and then we came back to the clubhouse and ate our candy.”

“Did you walk home with Jerry, Kevin?” Mrs. Keene asked me in between sniffles.

“No’m. We split up at the clubhouse. I came straight home.” I was lying for my life here.

There was a thorough investigation. The State Police were called in. I was grilled like a suspect for a little while. They finally chalked it up to an abduction a year or so later when Harry Dean Carson, the “Kiddie Killer”, was caught and confessed to Jerry’s murder and the murder of 19 other children in the New England area over the past ten years. They never found Jerry’s body. Carson claimed he could not remember where he’d dumped it. In November of 1958, I went to Jerry’s funeral. I cried. I cried many times in that last year and the years after that.

©2008 V. T. Eric Layton (excluding images)


Next Tuesday, the conclusion of Pieces of Nine. Thanks for reading.

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  • BambisMusings  On May 19, 2010 at 06:35

    Great story Eric! Thanks for posting it here for folks to be able to read it over time. :thumbsup:

  • Securitybreach  On May 19, 2010 at 10:31

    Wow, what an ending!!!!
    I did not see that coming.

    Great Job Eric!!!!

  • ebrke  On May 21, 2010 at 15:00

    Ouch, didn’t think it would be quite such a downer, Eric. Curious little boy doomed? I’ll be back next week to find out.

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