He was here at last it had taken days of travel, but at last he was in Elisea.  Almost as if he had thrown a dart at a map to decide where to go next he still had a vague sense of restlessness about the small town, though he had felt drawn to it, and now it would be the first.  Funny how these things happen hard to look back and pin point the why but that insignificant detail did not bother him, would never bother him, because it was starting.  One additional moment slipped by as he took time to take in the sign on the outskirts of town before walking back to his car.  No passer-by would have said that it was a smile upon his lips, but behind the sneer was sheer triumph even if it was joyless.

The weather seemed to sneak up on everyone as a cold rain fell in silence that Thursday evening bringing night fall a full two hours before the Farmer’s almanac had suggested it would, catching families still out at their assorted outdoor activities.  The cold wet dark drove everyone inside where they were left to ponder the unseasonable weather that none of the network’s storm watch teams seemed to have been able to predict.  Maggie sat in her favorite sweater watching the rain out her second story window as something deeper than cold seemed to slowly condense itself to her very core.  Without warning her body twitched as a chill ran up her spine.

“Someone walk on your grave, Mags,” her mom asked from the open door holding out a mug of tea, “its only sweet tea nuked but it’ll do.  Just you watch your father’ll be sick…working a double in this,” she said more to herself than her daughter.  “Did you remember that the reunion’s Sunday?  You still have to go so just make your excuses to that boy of yours, no complaining, no getting out of it.”  She gave Maggie half a smile and then left.

Crap.  Why did she still have to go to these uncomfortable things anyway.  Hardly any of the cousins she knew would be there, and the ones that were there she would be expected to talk to though she rarely remembered their names let alone how they were related.  To top it off she was going to have to tell Wyatt that she couldn’t come over till after the big family lunch, and God only knew how long it would take to drive to the farm, mingle, eat, mingle again, and then drive back.  She settled down into her reading chair, to the right of the window, tea in hand and dialed silently cursing the inventor of the reunion.

The next morning dawned gray and heavy as a fog covered the yard barring visibility past the end of one’s nose.  Still chilly Maggie grabbed her recently knitted wooly lap afghan and threw it over her shoulders as she headed towards the kitchen and the hot breakfast she was planning to make.  Her mom sat at the table reading the paper, obits first per usual, however as she entered the room the paper hit the table, “Sit I have to tell you something.”

Her mother’s over wide eyes sent waves of panic through her stomach as she pulled out a chair, “What’s going on?”

Her mother and father were talking in quiet tones from the front seat, while she sat in the back open book in her lap staring out the window lost in thought.  Bad things were not just happening in threes any more, there had been at least five car accident one of which had involved a girl from her grade being air lifted to the nearest city her injuries were so bad, the terrible weather had continued, a business man from out-of-town had committed suicide in grand fashion off the local hotel’s sixth story balcony, and every time the news came on it seemed as if another tragedy had occurred.  Wyatt had been on the verge of forbidding she even get in a car for the last 24 hours but as my mom had remained adamant that we go we were now just one long dirt road away from the farm.

The small house sat at the top of a slight hill, not neglected just worn down.  It’s front door covered by a metal screen which suggested a sense of easy welcome, but that was not the case.  Though the food was out and kids ran around everyone was on edge, parents hovered over the children, conversations were subdued, and nervous eyes seemed constantly in motion.  To avoid the depressing atmosphere Maggie had started walking around the fenced in yard trying to admire the wildflowers that were growing up the plank wood fence, but the over cooled air had sapped their color and wilted their stems.  Having given up on her nature walk she started towards the front door thinking that dessert could only improve her mood when she saw him.

The man was pale with dark blond hair and eyes so lightly brown they appeared yellow even at this distance, and he was staring at a small blond-headed toddler.  Much to Maggie’s dismay the little boy sitting on the front walk started spewing filth without end, his eyes wide fear written across his tiny face.  She shot a quick look of disgust at the man she did not recognize before scooping up the child to wash off in the front spigot.  Wet but free of throw up Maggie set him down on the front stoop to spray off the walkway, when it all started again.  Deciding that this situation was beyond her abilities to deal with she grabbed the still violently ill toddler and made a bee line to the back yard where most people were impatiently waiting to make their hasty departure.

It had been six days since the oddness had started and more people were reporting sightings of a man dressed in black at each terrifying event.  While no one wanted to say it Elisea was falling apart, everyone was scared and nervous; dread clung to all who ventured out as they waited for tragedy to strike them.

Maggie had finally been able escape over to Wyatt’s house where they were sitting in the front room watching a comedy with his mom, Janelle, and their two dogs, but no one was laughing at the right parts just nervous giggles from Janelle.

“What’s wrong Mags,” Wyatt asked his eyes searching her face as she trembled against him?

Then he was there, the door knocked half of its hinges, and the nearest dog wrapped tight in his arms emitting pitiful sounds of pain and terror.  Janelle’s eyes were glued to the carpet as she clutched her other dog, and Wyatt wore a pained expression as he tried to weigh the options of helping his dog and keeping anything else from being taken by this evil incarnate.  A high-pitched whistle came from the dog and Maggie jumped up shrieking, “Stop it, stop it, stop, you’re hurting her.”

The man turned his eyes from the dog to her as the same non smile graced his face again.  Finally he thought, we have reached the next level, as he let the dog go and fixed the girl with his eyes.

Pure hatred poured out of his eyes, soul raking hate which was starting to cause Maggie physical distress as she could not break the stare.  As he walked from the house she could have sworn she heard him breathe the word soon, but the spinning sensation in her head left little room for thought.

That night Maggie lay in bed paralyzed with fear, she had gotten him to stop the dog was fine, but she could still feel his hatred burning though her.  Sleep came haltingly with many startled awakenings where dreams seemed to follow her into reality.

He watched her toss and turn through the window waiting till she truly slumbered to advanced on her.  With his mind focused he stretched out both hands one over her head the other over her heart, and evoked the old rite.

Three weeks had passed Maggie no longer smiled easily, though the weather was normal and the accidents had ceased, dream words rolled through her mind non stop though in the light she never remembered the meanings.  Then as she lay in between sleep and conscious thought the meanings hit her, to bring about the dark purification to sanctify the world once more.  As the thought went through her she felt a tug in the pit of her stomach, Desmond, she quickly packed a bag and left.

He sat on a train headed nowhere in particular, he had been so sure that it was the girl, but for weeks nothing, no drive and no destination just aimless wonderings.  As the train pulled into yet another station he barely found the interest to look up, then she was there everything the same except the eyes which now glowed with an internal light.  Her face stayed passive and her eyes cold as she approached him and took the adjacent seat, “Desmond,” she said the word confidently but smelled of copper fear.

As if her word had plucked a chord in him he felt the pull begin, “Indeed,” was all he said  as the joyless smile crossed his face thinking, and so it continues.

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