by Roma Gray
Long black hair draped over Sean’s face, hiding the tears running down his cheeks. One trembling hand wiped away the tears while the other hand held his cell phone to his ear. Sean paced the floor of his bedroom, listening to his father’s endless rant.
“But I didn’t do it! I’m here!” protested Sean once again.
At the other end of the line, his father continued to scream at him without pause or hesitation. He wasn’t listening to Sean; he probably hadn’t heard a single word.
"No more staying at your Grandmother's house! You're coming back to New York. We've located a reform school, and your mother is going to enroll you in the school today. No more of this, Sean! No more!"
The bedroom door slammed open, hitting the wall with a bang. His grandmother charged into the room, her face angry and tight. Sean took a stumbling step back. He had never seen her angry before. She was Native American and despite her 60 some years, she looked like a warrior about to enter battle.
“I just had it out with your mother on the phone downstairs. Let me talk to your father. It’s his turn!”
Sean nodded and gratefully handed her his cell.
“You listen to me right...Henry, will you please hush up? Henry!”
Sean rubbed his eyes again, trying to fight back the tears. He was sixteen, far too old to cry, but it was all so frustrating! The old man never listened! Guilty until proven innocent. Nothing ever changed.
“Henry, you can’t possibly blame Sean for this! ...Yes, I’ve been with him the entire time. Now why would I leave the island for a couple days? He didn’t do it, and you know it... I don’t care where the fire started, he’s... Now why would he start a fire on his own bed, that’s ridiculous!”
His grandmother looked over at him and, in an exaggerated gesture, rolled her eyes to the ceiling. Sean returned a weak smile. His grandmother always sided with him. He should have never doubted that.
“Henry...Henry, listen to me! Sean and I are both still on Elk Island and we have never left. Do you remember where it is? You bought Sean’s plane ticket, so you should! It’s one of the San Juan islands off of the West Coast—the West Coast!—of the United States. You are in New York, all the way on the East Coast. There is an entire continent between us! How in the world would a sixteen-year-old boy...no, I’m sure he didn’t get one of his friends to do it. I don’t think he has—”
His grandmother paused and her face froze. Guiltily, she glanced at Sean. He knew what she was going to say. She didn’t think he had any friends in New York. And she was right. Despite living there the majority of his life, he had no one and nothing back there. Sean arrived on Elk Island on his birthday, June 9th, around two months ago. Yet somehow his life in New York seemed so long ago, merely a painful and distant memory. And now he’d have to return and go to reform school! A wave of panic and nausea passed through him at the thought.
“Listen, Sean is doing very well here, you leave him alone,” she said. “He’s helping me with projects around the house and he’s making friends with the local boys. They’re good boys. In fact, one of them left a gift for Sean on the porch today.”
Sean shot her a questioning glance; she nodded. “I brought it in and left it for you on entryway table. Go down and open it.”
She didn’t have to tell him twice. He’d take any excuse to get out of that room and away from his father’s accusations. Sean turned and bolted for the door.
“Wait. Sean, wait.”
He skidded to a stop. Oh, no! Now what?
“Henry, I’m calling you back on the house phone. Make sure your wife doesn’t pick up, I’m not speaking with her.”
She hung up the cell phone and handed it back to Sean. “I’m going into my bedroom and talk to your father. Go downstairs and open your present. I don’t want you picking up the language I’m planning on using, you hear?”
Sean nodded, grabbed the cell phone and darted out of the room without looking back. He ran down the stairs at top speed, his feet striking the risers with such force and speed that it sounded like rapid gun fire. He had forgotten what his life had been like back home, all the anger and yelling. It was so quiet at his grandmother’s house. And now, with a single phone call, all that ugliness, all the poison from that terrible place hit him full force. Clear across the country and he was still being accused of things! How could he ever stand to return to New York? On hitting the landing, he continued his flight through the living room. He stopped to grab his backpack off of the couch and then turned toward the front door. He managed two determined steps forward before he stopped, frozen in place.
Sean remained motionless for a long moment, thinking. Abruptly he turned back to the couch, dropped the backpack, and began rummaging through the contents. His hand stopped. He found it! He extracted a small notebook and pen. A smile crossed his face, and he dropped into a chair next to the couch. The smile grew broader as he leafed through the notebook. Finally, he reached an empty page and began to write.
While the words were from a dead language, they flowed easily. He had written them so many times it had become second nature now. The words were a carefully formed incantation, a curse, bringing suffering and misery upon his father, his mother, and sister. Sean paused, thought a moment, and crossed out the name of his sister. He and Stephanie had hated each other for a long time, but a few months ago they became allies in their war against Mom and Dad. No, he didn’t have a problem with her anymore. She'd actually turned out to be pretty cool.
Sean looked down at what he had written and his face flushed slightly. The whole thing seemed so silly now. A year ago he had found a book on dark magic at a used books store and created his own journal, the “Dark Journal” as he liked to call it. He used it for creating spells, specifically for putting curses on his family. Not that he believed in this stuff...well, not really. He started dabbling with witchcraft as a practical joke on his overly religious mother. And, man, did it ever work! A Ouija board under the bed, a few books on black magic on his bookshelf and boom! Fireworks!
Then, to really twist the knife, he started the Dark Journal. He knew she was reading his diary. That’s the way it was at his house; no privacy. It was like living in a Nazi concentration camp! So, one day he threw out his diary and replaced it with his Dark Journal. Back then he was still writing the incantations in English and he figured, what the hell, if she wanted to read his stuff, he’d give her something really interesting to read. Man, did she ever freak out!
Sean sighed. And then somewhere during all of that, he really did start to believe in it. He had created a fantasy world where he actually thought he could control his own fate using these silly spells. Wasn’t that the reason witchcraft started after all? It was how ancient people used to try to control nature, bring about a good harvest and stop plagues. Sean hated his life in New York, then and now. He wanted to change it, that’s all.
Sean was a social misfit; no point lying to himself about that. He liked books, hated sports, and hated television. The dumbing down of the masses was so obvious and annoying. He saw himself as a genius, far above the other students at school. No wonder he didn't have any friends back there. And his family—what a nightmare! His father and his endless stories of being the football quarterback during his high school days. And his mother, always trying to get him to go to church and the constant spying! Both of his parents were so convinced he was a complete and total loser! His entire life felt like some nightmarish pit of despair. No matter what he did, no matter how hard he tried to climb up the sides and pull himself out, he’d slide back down to the bottom. Everything seemed so hopeless.
And so the magic was a hobby to keep his mind off of things. Nothing wrong with having a hobby. But then little stuff started happening. Mysterious fires, strange accidents. It was a coincidence, he told himself, nothing more. If any of that stuff really worked, it wouldn’t have been fires; he had never wished for fires. Still, for a while there he wondered. And so did his mother.
His mother believed Sean had invited evil spirits into their home. And while his father couldn’t quite swallow the whole demon invasion idea, he also suspected Sean was the problem. That was when his parents decided to ship him off to spend the summer with his grandmother. At first, Sean had been thrilled. He thought his grandmother was cool. One hundred percent Native American! None of that creepy Christian stuff like his mother, either. She was true to her heritage and still held to the tenets and beliefs of her tribe. He loved his grandmother, still loved her, but he quickly discovered she had a hundred layers of weirdness, too. Her religion was as freaky as his mom’s! And all those strange stories she told him. But in the end, that didn't matter. He thought she was the best. She always supported him, and he never wanted to leave.
All in all, this summer turned out to be the best summer of his entire life! He had made friends. Real friends. It had all been such a blast! Especially after they found it. For weeks, they worked on it, losing sight of everything else. Their every waking moment had been consumed by this one project. Everything was going great until he and Tom had that fight yesterday. But it was going to be okay. He would patch things up with Tom. By the end of the day, they’d be best buds again.
Sean sat back in the chair and stared into a mirror hanging above the fireplace. He sure looked different from when he first arrived. He’d lost a lot of weight. His once tight jacket was much looser now, except around his shoulders where he had built up considerable muscle tone from all of the digging. And despite the cool weather on the island, he now sported a tan, another benefit from working outside all day. That, combined with his longish black hair, made him look like a true Native American, just like his grandmother. What a change! Goodbye Pillsbury Dough boy, hello Native American warrior. Awesome!
For the first time in his life he felt good, happy. And now, time was up. He’d return to New York, and he'd fall back into that pit of misery. What was going to happen to him? What did he have to look forward to? How could he face that life? The tears began to come again, and he tried to force his mind to focus on something else. And that was when his eyes caught the color red in the mirror. Sean leaned forward to get a better look and saw the reflection of a large present wrapped in red with a black bow sitting on top of the entryway table.
The present! He had completely forgotten about it! Sean leaped up, grabbed his backpack and ran into the entryway. He paused, staring at the gift, savoring the moment. The wrapping was too cool! Blood red with a black ribbon! Who sent it to him though? And why? He tore off the wrapping and then stopped. The package contained a wooden plaque with odd symbols carved along all four sides. In the center of the plaque were three long scratches gouged deep into the wood. Sean stared at it for a long moment. The four of them had left the plaque where they found it yesterday, for obvious reasons. Sean felt his heart pound as he realized the implications. A card dropped out of the wrapping, and Sean picked it up. It had one sentence written on it in red ink. “The task has been completed - Tom.”
A chill ran up his spine.
“Oh, no! No!” he yelled. “Damn it, Tom, it was just an argument! You didn’t have to do this! You’ve ruined everything! Everything!”
He heard the bedroom door upstairs close. Sean shoved the wooden plaque into his backpack, swung the pack over his shoulder, and ran out the front door. The last thing he wanted to do was talk about the phone call and he certainly didn’t want to explain the plaque. He needed to get out there.
Sean jumped off the front porch and ran across the lawn, directly toward the trees. The woods were only a few hundred yards away. He’d be free and clear if he could make it to the tree line.
“Hey! I was coming to see you!” said a voice on his left. “Where are you going?”
Sean saw Jimmy running toward him.
“Come on!” He yelled.
“Run to the trees! We need to get out of here. My grandmother’s going to be looking for me any second!”
“Oh, ok,” said Jimmy, quickly falling in line with Sean.
That’s Jimmy, he thought. No questions. Simply goes along with everything. Easy going until the end. The complete opposite of Tom who liked to argue over everything.
The two ran hard until they reached the trees. With the house out of sight, Sean stumbled to a stop and Jimmy skidded to a halt beside him. The two stood in the shadows of the towering pines, an ominous silence enveloping them. Sean gulped in air as Jimmy stood patiently waiting for him to recover. It galled Sean that Jimmy wasn’t even breathing hard.
Damn country kids!
“So what’s up?” asked Jimmy. “I thought you liked your grandmother.”
“I do...I just want to avoid her....for right now.”
“Ok.” As usual, a simple acknowledgement, no prying questions.
Jimmy fell silent for a moment, but Sean knew this wouldn’t last. It never did with Jimmy.
“So, I went online and I’ve been reading about our pit!” Jimmy began to babble excitedly. “Well, their pit, really. The Money Pit on Oak Island! It’s almost exactly like our pit!”
“That’s what I said when we found it,” reminded Sean.
“They said pirates built it! And it had booby traps and they think there’s treasure at the bottom!”
“Yep, I told you that, too.”
“I read that at about 100 feet down, they found a stone tablet with weird writing. We found ours at 25 feet, but still. Kind of similar.”
He had told Jimmy all of this a million times, but it was so pointless trying to get through to him.
“Really? You don’t say,” said Sean finally.
As usual, Jimmy seemed oblivious to the sarcasm, and continued. “Do you really think our pit has treasure? I mean, really?”
A broad smile spread across Jimmy’s face.
“We’d be rich! And we could leave this lifeless rock and go someplace cool! A big city like L.A. or New York!”
Sean stared back at him speechless. How ironic it was that Jimmy’s dream was so different from his own. Sean wanted to stay! And New York? Geez, he’d never voluntarily go back there.
Jimmy’s smile began to fade, and he then added, “But I’ve been thinking...what are we going to do? I didn't see that anyone ever figured out a solution to the trap. They know the pit flooded after they pulled up the log platform under the stone tablet. So...what do we do? We left everything down there untouched so we wouldn't trigger a booby trap, but we can't leave it like that forever! If we want to get to the treasure, sooner or later we have to pull up that log platform. Maybe Tom is right; maybe we should call in some help. What do you think? We need to make a decision.”
Sean sighed again. “Actually, I think Tom may have made the decision for us.”
Sean pulled the plaque out of his backpack and handed it to Jimmy. An expression of confusion crossed Jimmy’s face.
“He left it on my front porch all wrapped up like a gift along with a note saying ‘The task has been completed.’ I think it’s his way of telling us that he’s pulled up the log platform and triggered the bobby trap to flood the pit.”
“What? Why the hell would he do that?!"
“Why do you think? Because he’s mad at us over that argument we got into yesterday.”
Jimmy’s face turned red, and he started breathing harder.
“Chill, Jimmy, we’ll work it out.”
“We’ve worked for weeks on that damn pit! This is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened on this stupid island. It was our own personal archeological dig; a pirate’s treasure no less! And now it’s all been ruined, ruined!”
“What’s done is done—”
“No, I...I have to see,” blurted out Jimmy, handing the plaque back to Sean. “I have to know.”
Jimmy bolted down the path, toward the ravine.
“Wait!” Sean called after him, roughly stuffing the plaque back into his backpack as he chased after his friend.
Down the path, past the huge blackberry bushes, and through the small stand of birch trees he followed, falling farther and farther behind. Jimmy was too fast; he’d never catch up. Finally, exhausted, with a sharp pain throbbing in his side, Sean reached the top of the ravine. On a stretch of path several yards below him, he saw Jimmy running full speed into the deep ravine. Panting and light-headed, Sean slowed down to a walk. He watched as his friend rounded a hard dogleg in the path, disappearing from view. There was no hurry really; Sean knew where Jimmy was going.
Deep in thought, Sean made his way down the path, descending deeper and deeper into the ravine. A few patches of sunlight illuminated his way. The ravine was deep and dark with tall, old growth pines blocking out most of the sky. A chill hung heavily in the air even on the warmest day. And the disturbing silence. Not once had he ever seen a single bird or animal down here. No wonder his grandmother had warned him this was a bad place. And, of course, no wonder he spent all of his time down here. Sean thought about the first day he was down here. He was telling the guys about the Money Pit on Oak Island and how cool it would be if they found something like that on this island.
According to the story, on a summer day in 1795, a teenage boy had found a large tree with a thick limb that had been cut off several feet from the trunk. The limb had deep gashes and scrapes as if someone had used a block and tackle on it. Below the end of the branch, the ground had settled into a shallow depression.
Amazingly, just as Sean finished telling the guys this part of the story, exactly at that moment, they stumbled across the same scene off a game trail at the bottom of the ravine. What were the odds? It still blew him away. Like the teenage boy who discovered the Money Pit, they too began digging and discovered that someone had dug a deep pit and reburied it. Their pit had turned into a smaller scale version of the pit on Oak Island. And a good thing, too. Sean doubted the four of them could have dug out a hundred foot pit in a year, let alone in a few weeks.
Sean was abruptly pulled out of his thoughts as he noticed that the patches of light on the ground were changing. The bright yellow light was turning red at the edges. Was he imagining it? He closed his eyes, opened them again, and saw the red color remained. Now the red seemed to be seeping into the yellow. The red swirled and expanded, choking out the natural sunlight. Sean looked up. The entire sky had turned red. A deep red. A blood red.
It couldn’t be sunset! It was noon when he left the house! Sean stared up at the sky, stunned. Soon the red began to change. Black, menacing clouds began to emerge, converging to blot out the blood-red sky. The darkness was almost complete. Panic began to rise up into his throat. He could barely see. How would he ever find the pit or even his way out?! And what in the world would have caused the sky to turn that color?! Soon his eyes began to adjust, and he felt a few light sprinkles. BOOM! Thunder! It was a storm coming in off the ocean. In spite of himself, he breathed a sigh of relief. Just a storm. A completely normal storm.
Sean’s muscles tightened. Somewhere, below him in the darkness of the ravine, something was moving. Perhaps Jimmy was coming back for him? Yet for some reason he didn’t dare call out. It had to be Jimmy, who else would be down here? Still, he remained silent and still. A minute passed, then two. Had he really heard anything?
Snap. Crack. Crack.
Sean took a step back in silent alarm. No doubt about it this time. Something was moving below him, somewhere on the path. His eyes strained to see through the darkness, but there were only trees and an impenetrable wall of black. And then the sound changed. The unidentified thing suddenly picked up speed and charged toward the curve that lead up to him. But still he couldn’t see anything!
Is it a wild animal? What do I do? What do I do? Should I run? Should I hide? His mind raced through the options, knowing only too well he didn't have time for either.
Something huge, massive, reached the curve, and exploded out of the trees in front of him. A sharp object hit him hard in the forehead and he yelped, turning away. More things hit him, again and again. Sharp things, tiny things. Rocks? Twigs? Too late, he held up his backpack as a shield. His eyes stung, and he blinked hard. And then it all faded away to a whimper. Quiet. It had been nothing more than the wind. A dust devil, perhaps. Sean looked down. Pine needles and dirt swirled around his feet through yellow patches of sun.
He shifted his eyes skyward. There were still a few black thunder bumpers up there, but they were now floating in a blue sky.
“Geez!” gasped Sean. His grandmother had warned him that sometimes storms came in fast and hard, the perils of living on an island. And that’s all it was. Nothing unusual at all.
Except that blood-red sky, he thought.
Sean began to run down the path. He didn’t have that much farther to go, and while he would never admit it to anyone, he dreaded the idea of being alone on the path a moment longer. On reaching the bottom of the ravine, he took a small game trail obscured by low-hanging trees. The path followed the creek for several yards, then took a sharp left. The ravine opened up into a small pocket of flat ground that no one else seemed to know existed. With the thick growth of trees, blackberry bushes, and ferns, Sean wasn’t surprised that this area had remained hidden for probably over a hundred years. He wondered how the pirates had found it. That is, if pirates had indeed created the pit. At this point, they had no way of telling who created it. As he cleared the trees, Sean found both Jimmy and Bear standing over the pit. They were staring intently down into it, a look of anger and frustration burned into their faces. Just as he had feared, the pit was flooded.
“Jimmy told me what Tom did,” said Bear in his husky voice. He was only a year older than Sean, but his tall height of six feet and large, muscular build made him look like he was in his twenties. “Not cool, man.”
“Not cool,” repeated back Jimmy, shaking his head.
“I think a storm is coming,” said Sean. He paused. He didn’t want to go home, but he didn’t want to stay here any longer either. The place was really creeping him out today. Finally, he added, “Let’s go back to Bear's house and try to come up with a plan.”
“It’s the Northwest,” grumbled Bear. “It rains here. Learn to deal.”
“Yeah, just got to learn to deal,” sighed Jimmy, nodding his head.
“Well, there isn’t really anything we can do out here. We can’t dig anymore.”
“We can see where the water is coming from,” said Jimmy, lifting a jar filled with a red liquid out of his pack.
Bear gruffly took the jar from him. He grunted as he held the jar up in the light. “What the hell is this?”
“Red dye,” said Jimmy. “When the Money Pit on Oak Island flooded, they poured dye down the pit. The dye seeped out and showed them where the water was coming in.”
“And exactly how did you happen to bring this today?” asked Bear.
Jimmy shrugged. “I figured we’d have to pull up the log platform eventually. So I made this up in my garage before I left.”
There was an awkward silence.
Jimmy rolled his eyes. “I didn’t pull up the log platform, okay? I was just bringing this in case we decided to go that route.”
“Fine,” said Bear. “We believe you. So let’s move on. The dye will help us figure out where the water is coming in, so we can figure out how to block the flow of water. But that didn’t help them at the Money Pit.”
“Well, no, it didn’t. Turned out the pirates had built multiple tunnels feeding water to the pit. The pirates even went so far as manufacturing an artificial beach filled with palm fronds to act as a filter to let the water in, but keep the sand from blocking the channels. That’s actually how they knew it wasn’t the Native Americans because there were no palm trees in that area. The people who built it had to have a ship. Totally cool!”
Bear sighed and rubbed a spot above his eye. He looked like he had a headache. “I know, man. Sean told us all this yesterday.”
“Exactly!” exclaimed Jimmy.
Sean and Bear exchanged glances. Exactly what?
Jimmy looked between the two of them, growing frustrated with their lack of enthusiasm. “Don’t you see? Pouring the dye down the pit could give us vital clues as to who built this!”
“Other than that,” commented Bear. “What will it get us? Even when they found where the water was coming in, they still couldn’t cut off the water completely.”
“That’s because the pit was pulling in water directly from the ocean from different sides of the island. Look around here. We’re not that close to the beach and we’re down in a rocky ravine. It’s probably being fed by that creek. If that’s the case, it only has one or two inlets. We should at least have a chance of blocking it, don’t you think?”
Sean and Bear nodded in agreement.
“Go for it,” said Bear finally, handing him back the jar.
Jimmy quickly unscrewed the jar’s lid and dumped the contents into the pit.
“Sorry, fish,” said Sean toward the creek.
“So now what?” asked Bear. “Should we wander along the creek to see where the dye comes out?”
“I guess so,” said Sean.
“Let’s give it a couple minutes to filter through,” said Jimmy. “This is going to be great! What if the ground we’re standing on is riddled with palm fronds and some elaborate filtering system? This is an engineering miracle created by people hundreds and hundreds of years ago, like the pyramids, man!”
I doubt it’s that old,” thought Sean. He also wondered if this would really tell them anything about the builders. Oh, well, Jimmy seems to be having fun, what the heck.
The wind whipped up again and Sean pulled his coat tightly around his body.
“Hand me the plaque again for a second,” said Bear.
Sean handed it over and Bear examined it.
“The Money Pit tablet had writing on it as well,” commented Sean. “I don’t get those scratches in the middle, though. What could it mean?”
Bear put his hand over the three scratch marks, stretching his fingers out to match their position. The spread was wide on that end and Bear had some difficulty getting them to line up. Then he followed the scratches down the board, his hand following the lines as they went. Sean and Jimmy watched as Bear’s hand went from being open wide to being pulled into a near fist.
“See how it goes wide and then draws in?” commented Bear. “It’s like someone clawed this with their hand.”
“Someone missing two fingers. And they had pretty vicious claws, too,” said Jimmy. He then pointed to the middle mark, which was significantly wider and deeper. “The middle claw is bigger than the other claws.”
Sean ran his fingers inside the channels in the wood. “Could be claw marks. Whatever made this, the ends of the fingers or tips of the instrument came to a sharp point. See how it’s very narrow at the bottom of the channels and widens out?”
The three stood and stared at the plank of wood in silent contemplation for a long moment.
“An animal?” said Sean. “But what kind of animal would make a mark like this? And why put it at the bottom of a pit?”
“Weird,” stated Jimmy. “Maybe it’s a threat. I bet that’s it.”
Sean shrugged. He didn’t have a clue.
Sean felt his cell vibrating in his jacket pocket. He fished it out and looked at the caller ID. Stephanie! Why would his sister be calling? But then, maybe it wasn’t her. Dad could have borrowed her phone, knowing Sean wouldn’t pick it up if he saw his number. For a few brief moments, Sean considered his options. He could ignore it. Finally, curiosity won out, and he answered it. “Hello?”
“You are such a moron,” his sister exclaimed into the phone. “If you pay me $100...no, $200...I’ll keep your dirty little secret.”
“What are you talking about, dufus,” asked Sean, annoyed.
“You are here! Or you hired someone to sneak into the house or something,” said Stephanie. “But leaving one of your freaky little curses on my pillow, why would you do that? I thought you and I were doing okay lately. Fine, if that’s the way you want it, war, it is!”
Sean scratched his head, baffled. “What? You found one of my old curse pages?”
“I don’t know if it is old or not,” she said. “I appreciate that you crossed my name off of it, though. At least that’s some improvement.”
Sean felt his breath stop. He had never crossed her name off the list...until today!
“Wait a sec,” he yelled into the phone.
He dropped the phone to the ground, opened his backpack and dug through it. He pulled out his journal and frantically leafed through the pages. In his haste, he dropped the book, and it landed on the ground with a thud. The journal plopped open to his last entry...or what would have been his last entry. The pages were gone, roughly torn out of the book. Jagged edges of paper remained behind.
Sean stared down at it, shocked. He wrote this entry about an hour ago at most! And the backpack had been on his shoulder the entire time. The entire time! And even if it had left his sight, how could the pages possibly make their way to the house in New York, some 3,000 miles away? He wracked his brain trying to think of another time where he crossed out her name, but nothing came to mind. And who would have put it on her pillow anyway?
“Sean, are you ok?” asked Jimmy.
Bear and Jimmy were staring at Sean, the drama with the pit momentarily forgotten.
“Yeah, dude, you seem kind of freaked,” added in Bear.
“Sean! Sean!” his sister was shouting into the phone.
Sean grabbed the phone and picked it up.
“Stephanie!” he yelled, but no other words followed. He didn’t know what to say.
“I’m really more interested in your latest trick,” she continued. “How did you get that red dye in the pipes? Man, you should have seen the look on Dad’s face when he saw it! You better never come home. He’s ready to cream you!”
“Red dye?” He gasped.
Stephanie laughed. “Totally awesome! Blood-red dye is coming out of every faucet!” There was a pause. “Dad just left. He’s going to the hardware store for something. Wonder how he’s going to fix this! So how did you do it? Come on, you owe me that much, please?”
Sean didn’t say anything. It didn’t make sense! It wasn’t possible! It was as if everything he was doing here was somehow flowing back to his house. There had to be some reasonable explanation.
“What was that about red dye?” asked Jimmy.
Jimmy! thought Sean. What had he said earlier? The red dye would tell us something about the people who had built the pit? And maybe it had.
He thought about all the spells he performed, over and over again. He always thought they hadn’t worked, but what if in a way they had? What if they were building strength until they were strong enough to...
Sean walked over to the pit and stared down at it. Like pieces of a puzzle, a picture began to form in his mind and he didn't like what he saw. A cold breeze wafted through the trees, stirring the beads of sweat forming on his forehead.
First, the fires at the house, and then the journal page. Now the red dye was flowing back to Sean’s house, the house where he had been aiming all of his dark magic. And how had he described his life? A nightmarish pit of despair? That’s what he had always envisioned, how he had always thought of his life in that house. His mind went back to the moment he and the guys discovered the pit. They found it exactly when he was telling them about the Money Pit. It had been such a remarkable coincidence. But what if it wasn’t a coincidence at all? What if they didn’t find it? What if Sean accidentally created it? Is it possible that this pit was a physical manifestation of his darkest thoughts? A real pit of despair?
No, that’s impossible! This is a real pit. It’s not like I’m the only one that can see it. Jimmy, Tom, and Bear have spent weeks helping me excavate it. It’s real, made of solid earth. This is all nonsense!
As if in answer to his thoughts, the water within the pit began to change. Before his eyes, the muddy brown water turned into a thick blood-red liquid, churning and boiling angrily. The three boys automatically backed away from the edge of the pit as something moved below the surface of the water.
“Oh, man, look! Look!” screamed Bear, pointing into the pit.
Jimmy shrieked. “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
There was something floating in the thick red liquid and Sean didn’t recognize what he was seeing at first. All he could tell for sure was that it looked pretty disgusting. Then it slowly dawned on him that it was a human body.
No, I didn't do this! I couldn't have done this! Sean's mind screamed. His stomach churned violently, and he felt like all the air around him had been sucked away. Sean involuntarily gasped and chocked.
“Tom! It’s Tom!” yelled Jimmy.
“What? No way!” countered Bear.
“There! The jacket! That’s the old army jacket he always wears! See the American flag on the shoulder?”
“Tom!” gasped Sean, now also recognizing the jacket. Jimmy was right. Tears began to stream down his face.
And Sean knew. The pit had taken its first victim for him. Sean’s spells had manifested into a monster and every person who had ever wronged him would now feel the full wrath of all of his anger. He knew this now beyond any doubt.
I killed Tom! He was my friend, and I killed him! I killed him! Sean barely noticed he was no longer gasping, but was instead sobbing uncontrollably. What the hell was I thinking playing with this stuff? And now my friend is dead and everyone I care about is in danger! I have to stop this! But how? How?
Jimmy and Bear were also sobbing. Sean looked at the grief etched into their faces and another sharp pain struck him in his gut.
What have I done? What have I done?
“What’s going on over there?” shouted his sister through the phone.
Sean had forgotten about her.
“There’s a scratching at the door,” she said. “Is that you?”
Sean glanced at the wooden plaque on the ground. The plaque with the three deep claw marks.
“Stephanie, no!” Screamed Sean into the phone. “Stay away from the door! Stay away from the door!”
But all he heard at the other end of the line was a tortured wail.
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”