The Fallowing – Interlude II, Part II
by Steppen Sawicki
This part also works as a stand-alone piece
Novel: Occult Adventure
“The weather was clear when he went out for wood. We knew the storm was coming and he just needed to top off our supplies. But hours went by and he didn’t come back. The storm swept in and he didn’t come back. So I went out to find him. He was half-buried in the snow. I recognized him by his coat and his hair. Everything else was blood and bone, painted in strokes over the snow. And the wind was just… howling. And I couldn’t scream loud enough over it.
“We had a little funeral. Half the town showed up but that still didn’t make for many people. And it was all ‘Oh poor Faye I’m so sorry’ with all these pitying looks. And they said ‘Damn wolves, they’ll eat anything these days.’ But they didn’t understand. Most of them hadn’t seen the body hidden in that casket. I didn’t know what had done it, but it was no wolf that ate his eyes and left his liver.
“I started hearing his voice. I would be alone in the house, cause it was just me then, and I would look and check all the windows and no one would be there. But it sounded like him, like he was walking around outside and calling me. I even ran outside the first few times. Didn’t even put my boots on, just ran out into the snow in my socks. And no one was there. I started to wonder if I was going crazy, hearing voices and footsteps in the snow outside.
“Then one night there was a storm. Not as bad as the one on the day he died, but still strong enough to pluck at the siding and blast cold in around the windows and door. I was sitting by the fire, staring at the fire. And I was… numb. Like I was empty. Like this black hole was inside me, sucking in everything to oblivion. I was exhausted from jumping at every little sound.
“So when there was a knock on the door I didn’t respond. I heard it but I thought I was imagining things again. I really thought I had gone mad at that point, but I didn’t care. I just stared at the flames.
“Then there was another knock, and I thought No one’s going to come to my house in a storm like this, but I still stood up and made my way to door. Thinking I’ll just open the door and the knocking will stop. I focused everything left in me to move one foot in front of the other and get to that door, and still it knocked and knocked and right when I got to it I heard ‘Faye?’ Like a question. ‘Faye, it’s your father. Open the door.’
“All that white-hot emptiness inside me leapt to my head, like I was going to faint. But I told myself Open the door. Just open the door and no one will be there and you can close it and walk back to the fire. It was like a checklist in my mind for what to do when Faye goes completely insane. Open door. Close door. Stare at the fire. Don’t forget to make dinner in an hour.
“So I opened the door. The snow was whirling around and the wind was shrieking but someone was there through the static. They said ‘Faye, it’s me. It’s your father.’ And I turned away from the door. Didn’t even think to close it, I just had to get away from that shadow in the white noise. I took some steps into the room and stood there, reeling, unable to breathe. I heard it crunch through the snow until it stepped on the wood just inside the door.
“I turned. Slowly. Thinking it would be gone by the time I faced where it was supposed to be. But something was there. It was my father. But it wasn’t my father. It shifted in and out of being my father like it was still outside and gusts of snow were obscuring it and leaving it and fading it out again.
“’Faye,’ it said. ‘It’s me. It’s your father. It’s okay. Come to me’
“And even though I knew it wasn’t him my brain told me it was him and I had better go to him. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t find the air to form even a gasp, and I stepped towards him.
“But I had picked up the Mauser from the table, and I lifted it and shot. I didn’t aim, just shot.
“It… screamed. Like a rabbit. Like twenty rabbits screaming in my head. I wished I would faint. That I would pass out and either come to when it was all over or never come to, I didn’t care which. But I didn’t faint. I had to listen to it scream and see it gallop away into the driving snow, leaving its blood all over the floor and the door and lintel like some sacrificial lamb. I knew it wasn’t my father, but still a thought kept repeating over and over in my head:
“I shot my father. I shot my father. I shot my father.”