Taylor wandered slowly around the tombstones, gazing into shadows. Wondering where Ike had gotten to. Freddie had finally… wandered? Oozed? Misted? Away to talk to someone else, and he’d managed to hobnob with just about every one there. He was tired now, something again seemed to be draining the strength out of him. He wanted to find Ike, and maybe see about calling a halt to this little shindig. It was a blast… but he was tired.
“Aw Tay, man, that’s not fair, all the cool stuff happens to you.” Zac pouted, not meaning it, as his brother told the story of the ghostly John Lennon. “Did he really look that much like him, Tay?”
“Yeah…” Taylor’s nod was enthusiastic. “And his hand was all cold and clammy…” His eyes took on an evil glint, and he winked at Isaac. “Who knows Zac, maybe it was him. After all, it is the night of the dead, and we are in Salem…”
“Cut it out, Tay!” Zac crossed his arms and stomped off to sit on a stone wall, separating the current ghostly house, from the Dunkin Donuts. He wasn’t sure why the ghost stuff was bugging him. After all, it was Halloween, he was on a ghostly tour, and it was all supposed to be this way… but something was just sending chills up and down his spine, and not pleasant ones either.
Taylor stared back at the young man, too confused to look away. What was he looking at? What on earth… he jumped back suddenly, heart in his mouth, as the young man’s hand came up, brushing lightly against a fading bruise on his face, and his voice whispered urgently. “The mark of the witch, you bear the mark of the witch, are you recently attacked?”
Taylor backed up another step, shaking his head… not sure if this was part of a show or some escaped lunatic. “No, no nobody attacked me…”
The young man nodded, and grasped Taylor’s arm firmly, pointing down at him. “The mark of the witch! The lad bears the mark of the witch, he is recently attacked!” He turned back to Taylor, who was trying desperately to quiet him down. “The witch Bridget Bishop is this moment taken to the jury, come you must give testimony!”
Confused, Taylor pulled his arm away, taking in Starr’s laughing face, and his mother’s grin. She waved a Cry Innocent brochure in his face, and laughed as she turned to Zac. “Well honey, here’s your fun, let’s go watch your brother give testimony.”
Taylor shook his head, frantic to get away. “No, no…”
The young man reached for his elbow again. “The witch must hang! Come this way…” Sighing, knowing there was no choice, he shrugged and followed, wishing with each step that the ground would open up and swallow him. He looked back once, at the grinning Starr, and shrugged guiltily. Starr nodded, and waved, calling out in a friendly voice. “Ah… enjoy Salem!”
Zac hurried down the road, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. God this place was horrible. He knocked harder on the door to his brother’s mind, feeling him slipping away, growing colder and colder, less responsive.
“Man, he’s gonna die, where is the car???”
He could feel that nameless evil reaching for him and added another layer to his barriers, instinct guiding him, as he plowed through the snow. Something evil, darkly insane, capering and gibbering at the edges of his mind, sharp little needles spiking into him.
“Now, son… where are you headed?”
Ike pointed down the road. “Down there… I have to pick up my brother.”
The man gazed down the road, eyes narrowed. “Not much down there, you folks from away have friends down there?”
“No, no, it… I don’t know. He felt sick, he got out of the car, and the next thing I knew… he was gone. Or I was…”
The man eyed him carefully. Strange things had gone on down that road as long as he’d lived here.
Taylor rubbed snow into his face, sighing gratefully as the cold hit his hot skin. “Sick now, oh good…” He sighed, thinking it figured. Finally a chance to do something different, and he was going to be too sick to enjoy it.
God, he was so hot. He looked up at Ike, and felt his breath stop in his throat, thrill of terror so keen it almost drove consciousness away.
Ike was gone. The car was gone. Where was he? Where would he have gone?!
“Ike!!” His voice fell flat, swallowed up in the lush green that surrounded him.
Green?? Green?!?! It was winter! What the hell…
Their fingers brushed and Taylor’s words died in his throat. Zac’s fingers were icy, bluish, frozen, and when Taylor looked up, he saw the wizened face of an ancient.
“If you know what’s good for you…” The voice grating as shards of broken crockery. “If you want to live, don’t go.”
Isaac shook his head. “No, I spent half a day once, lost in a house of mirrors. Not my idea of fun. I’ll pass.”
The carrier nodded then, remarking shortly. “Only one mirror in there. But you do what you like. Your brother should come out over there. If he comes out at all.”
Taylor’s brows knit. “Why wouldn’t he come out?”
The carrier shrugged. “Lots to do in there. People get… distracted.”
Excerpt: “Taylor, seeing the new guitar case in his brother’s hand, raced up to him, not noticing Zac hanging back slightly.
“Let’s see it Ike, hurry up!”
Isaac chuckled. “Damp down, will ya? It’s not like you’ve never seen a guitar before.”
“Oh, shut up, this is the first custom guitar any of us have ever owned and I want to see it, so open it up!”
Zac stepped forward, eyes shining. “Yeah, c’mon Ike, open it up.”
He felt vaguely uneasy, but he wasn’t sure why.
Something about the sight of his brother walking in, sun behind him showing him in silhouette, with the guitar. Chills up his back. It just looked creepy to him.
“Not to worry, he was so quiet, we didn’t even realize he was there. I’m sure the killer didn’t notice him any more than we did.”
The boy’s parents eyed the detective dubiously.
It was hard to have faith in a man who had allowed their 12 year old son to sit in a train-car of death, surrounded by mutilated bodies, more than likely in shock, for more than six hours, because he was “so quiet we didn’t even realize he was there.”