Where There Is Fear | By: Dallas Releford | | Category: Short Story - Horror Bookmark and Share

Where There Is Fear

WHERE THERE IS FEAR TERROR AWAITS By: Dallas G. Releford Judy Short had just turned sixteen years old when she visited her aunt in Central Kentucky for the first time. It was the summer of ’62 and she was just happy to be out of school for the summer. She was also pleased that she would be away from her nagging mother for almost the entire summer. Judy was just a little concerned about having to ride the Trailways bus all the way there by herself but she figured that she had to be on her own sooner or later. Judy had told herself that she would just have to be brave and do what she had to do. The bus ride was almost completely uneventful except for the old man in the black hat and black shirt that kept staring at her. He occupied the seat behind her in the opposite row and every time Judy looked back, he was gazing at her with his steel blue eyes. She didn’t know if it was her imagination or not but when she wasn’t looking back at him, she could feel his eyes on her. She kept hoping that he would get off at the next stop but the closer she got to Stanford, her final destination, the more concerned she became that he would get off there too. They passed one town after another and the old man never got off the bus. Judy finally surrendered to her feelings that he was just a lonely old man that liked to look at pretty young girls but she told herself that she was still going to be watching him. She was a little relieved when she saw a sign on the side of the road that read: STANFORD, KY NEXT EXIT. She hoped that her Aunt Jenny was waiting for her there. As the bus pulled up in front of the bus station on Main Street she saw her aunt’s red Corvair and her aunt (all smiley and looking at the bus) was standing on the street next to it. Judy glanced at her watch. It was exactly three o’clock. She had the almost irresistible urge to look back to see if the old man was getting off the bus but she didn’t even dare to do that because she knew that she didn’t even want to see him again. Judy was off the bus and in her aunt’s arms before she realized that the long trip was really over. She looked over her aunt’s shoulder while still hugging her to watch the passengers leaving the bus. Only three other people descended the steps and the old man had not been one of them. She sighed a little as she realized that her intuition had been right. He was just being an old man that liked to look at beautiful things. She had upset herself for no reason and she promised herself that she would never do it again. “Oh it’s so good to see you again Aunt Jenny,” Judy said planting several kisses on her cheek. “It’s good to see you again too Judy,” her aunt replied hugging her repeatedly. “Guess what I’ve got for you?” “Oh, I don’t know,” Judy answered, “you always bring me so many nice things when you come to our house so it would be hard for me to make a good guess.” “Strawberries, fresh strawberries and I just picked them last night. I know how you like my strawberry pies so we’ll stop at the store and get some things and I’ll make you a couple while we get caught up on all the gossip.” “Oh I appreciate that,” Judy said, “but I didn’t want you to go to all that trouble just for me.” “It’s no bother,” her aunt said, “because I like strawberries too.” They talked for a while and then Judy recovered her luggage from the sidewalk where the bus driver had put them. After making sure her luggage was safely in the trunk, they headed to the store to shop. The local Walmart was located out on US 150 about two miles out of town. As they parked the car and got out, Judy looked around feeling that someone was watching her. “What’s wrong?” Her aunt asked. “You seem a little nervous or something.” “I just don’t feel safe anymore,” Judy replied, “but maybe that’s due to my suspicious nature that I acquired from living in the city too long.” “It’s just normal,” her Aunt Jenny told her. “We’ve never really been safe but people today see things, horrible things on the news and think that almost everyone is bad. They see so much violence that they become used to it so it’s really good that you can still be aware that danger is always around you. It keeps you alert and on your feet so don’t knock it kid.” “Aren’t most people really bad?” Judy asked. “Just look at all the violence in the world today and how little we actually do about it.” “Yes that’s very true,” Jenny told her, “but think about living on the frontier in the old days, facing the threat of constant Indian attacks and how those poor people had to deal with it. That had to be worse than we have it now.” “I guess you’re right Aunt Jenny,” Judy said as she grabbed a shopping cart and headed down the second aisle. “I guess that I’m just paranoid.” Judy didn’t think any more about the old man until they were in the checkout lane. She suddenly felt a cold shiver run down her back and she felt cold all over. Her arms and legs were as cold as ice. She somehow just knew that someone or something evil was watching her. Jenny despised that feeling because there was so much dread and fear that was involved in it. Judy was afraid to look behind her and her inclination to glance at the people in the lines on either side of her also met with strong resistance. She just knew that the old man was there somewhere staring at her, but was he behind her, in the line on her right or maybe even outside looking through the windows? Her aunt was being checked out and Judy’s curiosity finally got to her and she glanced behind her only to see several people waiting in line but the old man wasn’t there. He wasn’t in any of the other lines of waiting customers either. “Could we please get someone to help us with the groceries?” Her aunt asked the young male clerk that Judy thought was kind of cute. “Sure,” he said. “I’ll call someone for you.” Judy’s aunt had bought two shopping carts full of groceries and other items. “You sure buy a lot of things,” Judy told her as they waited in front of the exit door for assistance. “Oh yeah,” her aunt said, “that way I only have to come to the store about once a month and if I do need something then I can just drop in and get it.” Judy had completely forgotten about the old man but she felt someone watching her again. She turned around and saw an elderly man approaching. His gray eyes were fixed directly on her but as he got closer, he spoke to her aunt smiling. “Could you ladies use some help?” “Yes of course,” her aunt replied. “The arthritis gets to me sometimes and I find it rather difficult to push those heavy carts. It’s awfully nice of you to help us.” “That’s part of the service,” the man said taking one of the grocery carts while Judy pushed the other one and followed them through the exit door. Judy was convinced that he was the very same man who had been on the bus with her but there were several unanswered questions concerning his sudden appearance. How did he get off the bus without her seeing him? What were the odds that he would be working at the very same store where his mother shopped? Why did she feel his presence so strongly and why did she sense so much evil about him? Judy was terrified of the prospect of being so close to the old man as he helped them put the groceries in the car. Judy noticed that he glanced at her occasionally but most of his attention was focused on her aunt. “I don’t believe that I’ve seen you around her before,” her aunt said to the man as he finished putting the groceries in the trunk and closed it. “No, I haven’t lived here for very long,” he told her. “My name is Devlin Pike and I’m at your service.” “Oh, glad to meet you Mr. Pike,” her aunt said extending her hand to him. “I’m Jenny Hodge and this is my niece Judy. She’s visiting with me for the summer.” “Glad to meet you.” Pike said touching the brim of his black hat with the tip of his finger as he casually bowed to her. “Well, I better get to work while I still have a job,” he added smiling when Judy didn’t respond to him. “You folks have a good day.” “Such a nice man,” her aunt said as they got into the car and drove out of the parking lot. Judy didn’t say much on the way to her aunt’s house and her aunt wanted to know what was wrong with her. Judy was reluctant to tell her but with intensive prodding on the part of her aunt, she finally broke down and told her the entire story. “Oh I’m sure Mr. Pike doesn’t mean any harm --- he seems like such a nice person --- why, he probably just likes you. Are you absolutely certain that he’s the same person that was on the bus with you? “Yes Aunt Jenny,” Judy assured her as they pulled into the driveway. “I’m positive he’s the same person that was on the bus. I mean, I’ll never forget that face and those gray eyes that kept staring at me.” “Well, that’s strange Judy because I thought that his eyes were brown but then again, I could have been wrong.” It was one of the first times that Judy had heard her Aunt Jenny actually admit that she was wrong. “I don’t know Aunt Jenny,” Judy added, “but I thought they were gray. I could be wrong too.” “Well anyway Judy don’t you worry about it. You’re home now and nobody is going to bother you here.” Judy and her aunt were up late that night talking and watching television. About ten o’clock, her Aunt Jenny went upstairs and to bed leaving Judy downstairs watching an old movie that was on one of the local channels. She had seen the, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” a million times but she never grew tired of it. She still liked to watch it although she didn’t think it was as scary as it once was when she had watched it as a young child. She scanned the channels but it was the only thing on that she thought that she might want to watch so she left it there. Watching a scary movie in her state of mind wasn’t what she thought she should be doing but there wasn’t much else to do. She really didn’t want to give up and go to bed so early so she decided to watch it. She was watching the part where the “walking dead” were descending on the house and one of the dead people caught her attention. She couldn’t remember seeing the old man walking out in front of all the other zombies. It was him, Devlon Pike and she was sure of it. Even though the picture was in black and white, she was still reasonably sure that it was him that walked laboriously and slowly toward her on the screen. How could she not recognize the old man with the black hat, the evil gray eyes and the black shirt? As she watched, he walked right up toward the screen until his face was the only one that she could see. Judy was horrified and wanted to scream but couldn’t. How could this be happening she wondered? Was she dreaming or was she just so tired and stressed out that she was hallucinating? She didn’t know but one thing she did know and that was that he wasn’t part of the movie. “I’m coming for you Judy,” the figure on the screen boasted, “and it won’t be long until I get there.” “What do you want from me? Leave me alone and just go away,” she screamed at him. “I want your young body,” he said smiling. As his lips widened with the smile his lips started cracking and the flesh on his cheeks began to fall off in big flakes. His eyes slowly disintegrated leaving two large, black holes from which crawled dark roach bugs. Maggots were falling from his mouth by the hundreds. Judy hid her head under the pillow on the couch and cried. When she finally got up enough courage to look at the television again, he was gone and the dead people were beating at the door of the house in the movie. They were trying to get through the windows. Had she been dreaming? She still wasn’t fully convinced that it was real at all or that such a thing could possibly be happening to her. She picked up the box of chocolate candy that she’d been sharing with her aunt and put a couple of pieces in her mouth. She hoped the sweets would help to give her more energy. Then the thought struck her like a lightning bolt. Her aunt was a diabetic and in the advanced stages of the disease. Just one piece of candy would send her blood sugar count too high and she would have one of her spells. Why had she been eating candy like it was going out of style? Had her aunt Jenny already had a spell and didn’t know that she was having one? Why had she eaten all the candy, ice cream and cake when she knew the consequences of doing something like that? She thought that she had better put all her silly thoughts away and go check on her aunt. As she got up from the couch, she noticed that the people in the house in the movie, were boarding up the doors and the windows but the scene seemed out of sequence. The monsters were already beating and pounding at the doors just about ready to break them down and go on into the house. A cold chill ran down her spine as she heard a loud pounding sound at the front door. Was it Devlon Pike coming to take her away? Judy couldn’t imagine anyone coming to the front door at that time of the night. The pounding continued but Judy was resolved not to open the door no matter how loudly they knocked. “Who’s knocking at the door?” Her Aunt Jenny asked. Judy turned around startled to see her aunt standing at the foot of the stairs in her nightgown. “Why don’t you answer the door Judy? It’s probably just one of he neighbors. You’re not in the city anymore. Neighbors visit us sometimes, you know.” “Please don’t open it Aunt Jenny,” Judy pleaded. “You just don’t understand.” “Nonsense,” Aunt Jenny replied. “Don’t be so scared because there’s nobody going to hurt you here.” Before Judy could protest, she had opened the door and Judy screamed as Devlon Pike walked slowly into the room. He was the same as he had been in the movie but by now most of the flesh on his bones was gone and about all he had left was the meat above his eyebrows. “Sure is nice of someone to finally open the door for me. I hate waiting,” he told them. “I was pounding my fists off out there and I didn’t think that anyone really cared.” He held his hands up to reveal that they were mostly bones. He had lost most of the dead flesh when he was knocking on the door. “Aunt Jenny,” Judy pleaded believing that she was just dreaming, “please make him go away. I don’t want him here. Can’t you see him for what he really is?” “Well Judy, why would I want to do that? I quite enjoy his company sometimes.” “Just please make him go away --- it’s scaring me so much that I can hardly breathe Aunt Jenny.” “You see Judy,” Devlon said walking slowly toward her, “your aunt’s body belongs to my wife and your beautiful, young body will soon be mine. You have to admit that this one is almost worn out.” Next morning, Judy and her aunt sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and enjoying fresh doughnuts while carrying on an interesting conversation. “It sure was ingenious of you to invite your niece down here for the summer,” Devlon noted. “Yes, I quite agree,” Aunt Jenny said. “And it was a stroke of genius for you to be on the same bus as she was just to make sure that she got here safely.” “Yes, I think so,” he agreed. “But the best part is that we have new bodies and we can be together until we have to find new ones.” Jenny said taking a bite from her sixth chocolate filled doughnut. She just couldn’t understand why she felt dizzy, she was hungry even though she had been eating like a pig and there was a persistent ringing in her ears. She didn’t understand it at all but how could an alien be expected to know about diabetes and how some food can just literally drive the victim insane. The End
Click Here for more stories by Dallas Releford