I am sitting her staring at the new typewriter Beverly found for me and wondering how to even begin. It seems a shame to start out a new machine with such a tragic entry, but this deserves a real machine, not some lifeless electronic thing. It's a nice typewriter too. A burgundy Olympia portable with a rather aerodynamic case reminiscent of the streamlined cars of the early 50s. I actually like it better than my old Smith Corona, may it rest in peace.
But I guess I had better get down to business.
I was right about Mr. Tyler in one respect. There was something horribly wrong with the whole situation. I was assuming that he was molesting those kids even though I saw no evidence of it. All I had were vague suspicions and a general sense of unease. Finally this morning I decided to do something about it. We had not seen him or the children outside the house they had take residence in for three days. I dragged Katherine out of the lab she is setting up in one of the smaller holds and took her with me. I figured that if the kids were really sick she would be needed.
The bus was parked in front of the corner house Mr. Tyler had taken residence in on County Road B and 6 th Ave. It was was the type of Victorian house that looked to be the inspiration for countless doll houses and fairy tales. But I doubt that was the reason for Mr. Tyler selecting it. The house was an old house, very solidly built and had large fireplace and coal pellet furnace. Very well suited to current conditions.
And it was just crawling with red and black wraith bugs.
They were all over the big covered front porch, exterior walls and the roof. Katherine took one look at the house and pulled out a small bottle of Windex and began to douse her cloths with it. I followed her example then took out a large hand pump sprayer I had filled with the stuff shortly after Katherine had demonstrated how effective it was. I dreaded going in there but really we had no choice.
I sprayed a path clear on the porch, being very careful to spray above us as well. The front door was locked. This should have been a bit of a surprise but it wasn't. No one answered when we called or knocked so I broke the window and sprayed the area around the door knob. Once inside we found that the house was actually somewhat clear of the bugs. They seem to be leaving en mass. There was a stench in the house of rotten meat. I already had a feeling what the source would be. This was confirmed in the master bedroom.
All six of the children were upstairs tied naked on the floor of the master bedroom. What was left of them anyway. The juvenile wraiths and the insect larvae had pretty much rendered them unrecognizable. As heartless as Katherine can seem sometimes, she has a soft spot for children. I heard a small sound escape her and looked over to see her sobbing. I caught her just in time. She almost dropped to her knees in her extremity of grief. But there were bugs all over the floor in the bedroom and despite the Windex they would have bitten her in self defence. She leaned on me as I guided her from the room. I felt like breaking down myself, but was not allowed that luxury. If I had just put the pieces together earlier maybe these innocent children would still be alive. At the very least I should have demanded that the children be examined earlier.
A crash from downstairs alerted us to the fact that we were not alone in the house. There were at least six wraiths on the loose and one of them was in the house with us. Katherine quickly pulled herself together and I was thankful that I had not brought Beverly with me. I love her dearly, but I don't know if she would have been able to pull herself together as quickly. I think Jewels and Pastor Tom are the only two members of our group that would have been able to recover as quickly as Katherine or I. I'm not saying that I am so much better than anyone else, in fact sometimes I think it is the opposite. I can at times be just a little too cold blooded. Since Lisa died I developed an extraordinary ability to shut off my feelings as easily as some people flip off a light switch. Unfortunately sometimes when you cut them off it can be a little hard to cut them back on. Which is why I am reluctant to do so unless I really need to. This was one of those times when I really, really needed to and I was able to clamp them off before they could render me useless.
Katherine pulled out her gun and we quickly made our way out of the house. There was garage out back with a couple of gasoline cans and a five gallon can of paint thinner. I decided that would do just fine. I was a beautiful old house. It would be a shame to see it go up in smoke, but we had to contain the beasts as much as possible. We split up, Katherine circling the house clockwise, while I circled counter clockwise. We liberally splashed the walls and both porches with gasoline and paint thinner. The bugs shied away from the caustic liquid but since they had no wings were not able readily escape. When we met at the back Katherine pulled out a book of matches. Still holding her gun in one hand she bent one match over to the sandpaper strip and popped it back up with her thumb. The match flared to life and she tossed it to the stairs she had just doused. My dad used to do that but I never could master it.
There was a flurry of activity from inside as they tried to find a safe way out. A crash from above alerted us to one of them trying to escape to the roof of the house directly north. It made it only to be shot dead by Katherine. It would appear that her shooting lessons have paid off.
That was when we heard a man screaming behind us, demanding to know what the Hell we were doing. It was Mr. Tyler of course. But Mr. Tyler was not looking too good by this time. He looked pale and thin. His eyes were sunken and dark. Dark splotches covered his exposed skin. He had several wraith bugs attached to him. One dangled from his ear like a grotesque earring. I reacted without thinking and shot him several times, but he just got up and ran away. Katherine hit him with a flying tackle that would have made a pro football player proud. Then she started screaming and rolled off of him. A thin black appendage was stabbing into her chest from the man's torso. It disengaged and I saw a sharply pointed stinger waving at the end of it. He bounced to his feet faster than someone in his apparent state of decay had any right to. I wanted to run after him but I could not leave Katherine alone in her condition. I called the others on my walkie talkie and told the others what had happened and to be on the lookout for Mr. Tyler. I gave the order that he was to be shot on sight.
I dragged Katherine out to the Volvo. I was not able to manhandle her into the truck. The floor is almost three feet off the ground and I was not at my best. So I just propped her up against the front wheel and waited for her to wake up or someone to come help.
As I waited I watched to make sure there were no other escapees from the burning house. As I waited I contemplated the new situation. We now had an unknown number of juvenile wraiths running about the island. As much as I would like to believe that they have all been killed in the fire I know that Murphy would not allow us off the hook that easily. We only knew for sure that one was dead. There were at least six to start with. From what we have seen in the large animals, usually only two or three survive. The stronger wraiths start killing the weaker individuals before they even emerge from the host. The surviving wraiths then feed off the corpse of the host. They don't attack each other once they are out of the host. At the very most there can be twelve, but that would be a very generous estimate. The oldest child was perhaps ten.
Trying real hard not to think about that too much right now.
I think we can safely assume that there are five of these things running about the island now.
They will need food.
I think I have an idea.
Katherine has recovered completely from the sting? Mr. Tyler gave her. The effects of the venom seem to be rather mild and short-lived. We gathered up the body of the wraith Katherine shot and she is examining it now.
We still need to deal with Mr. Tyler.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride