Authors: Glenn Rolfe
The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.
Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man's terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen.
Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past. Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can't even comprehend?
One night canâand willâchange everything.
Blood and Rain
For my brother, Greg Rolfe Jr.
I hope you're howling up in Heaven.
I would like to thank my wife, Meghan, for allowing me the space to craft these crazy tales. I love you, dear. I'd also like to thank our three monkeysâRuby, Ramona, and Axlâfor howling at the moon with us on a monthly basis.
A very special thanks to my best friend, Ben Pinard, for helping reshape this story and for telling me the story of the real Joe Fischer. There's more Red Sox tickets in your future, pal.
Thank you to my friend, Erin Al Mehairi, for her quick edits and insights, RJ Cavender for his edits and guidance on the original Blood and Rain manuscript, and to my editor, Don D'Auria, for believing in me and giving me a home with Samhain Horror.
Finally, thanks to Ronald Malfi for his support, his time, and his all-around awesomeness.
Stan Springs stared at the curse in the night sky. His curse. He clenched his jaw, and bit back the grunts that demanded release from within his sweat-covered body. His muscles tightened and took turns throwing fits. He could feel his heartbeat's thunderous barrage at work inside his heaving chest. It was only a matter of minutes before the changes would come.
He ripped his gaze from the clouds, moved away from the window and knelt down next to the bed against the concrete wall. He slipped one shaky hand beneath the mattress and found the small incision he'd made when he first arrived at the institution. He had traded a guard, a heavyset fella by the name of Harold Barnes, his prized Ted Williams rookie card in exchange for a copy of the key. Parting with this gold mine had been necessary. Stan Springs had nothing else of value with which to barter. Harold trusted him enough to make the swap; he told Stan there were crazies here by the dozen, but he could tell that Stan was not one of them.
Harold, I'm something far worse.
Key in hand, Stan stepped to the unlocked door and cracked it open. The hallway was clear. He moved down the corridor, as stealthily as during his heydays working on the force in New York. Hearing footfalls ahead and to his left, he fell back and pressed his large frame against the custodial door. Hidden by the entryway's shadow, he watched Nurse Collinsâa tall, thin woman with a dark complexionâpass fifty feet from where he stood, before she disappeared into the nurses' break room.
Barefoot and dressed in only a Red Sox T-shirt and his sleeping shorts, Stan made a break for the staircase across the hall. His breaths were coming faster now. If he didn't hurry, he wouldn't make it outside. He crept down the steps leading to the main hallway.
Through the small window on the stairwell door, he could see Harold Barnes's haunted jowls illuminated by the laptop screen in front of him. The old man's eyes were closed, his mouth open. Harold hadn't even made it an hour into his shift before he was out. Stan knew Harold also ran his own antique shop in the neighboring town of Hallowell. He'd told Stan that working both jobs on the same day, which was sometimes unavoidable, made it difficult for him on the night shift. It was another shared nugget Stan had stored away for nights like this oneâthe nights the beast in him needed to get out.
Easing the door open, Stan skulked his way along the shadows on the wall, and tiptoed to the main entrance door. Despite the cramps now rampaging through his calves and thighs, he slipped the procured key into the lock, slow and steady. The door clicked open, and he stepped out into the night.
As the cool breeze brushed against the sweat of his brow, the tendons and bones in his face began to shift. The rest of his body followed suit. He dropped to one knee and cried out. His skin, his scalp, his eyes, his muscles were all too tight. He reached behind him and managed to push the door shut.
If you could see me now, Harold.
The private roads out front were deserted. He launched from the building's stairs and landed on the lawn below, making a beeline for the woods to the left of the large property.
He was twenty feet from the forest when the change hit him like a massive wave, crashing him to the ground. His muscles clenched and squeezed and tore, while the bones of his face continued to crack and grow. His teeth began to fall out in place of the monster's. Down on all fours, he crawled to the tree cover and vomited. A mix of last night's cafeteria meat loaf, black coffee, loose teeth, and blood splashed the ferns before him. Stan's fingers extended as his claws dug into the soft soil of spring's floor. He moaned and grunted his way through the rest of the fluid process.
In full beast mode, Stan Springs stood and howled at the cloud-covered sky. The creatures of the night became ghosts among the trees. He felt the strength flowing through him and the hunger begging to be sated.
He burst forward, headed north. Despite Stan's best effort to control the beast's killing zone, he found himself heading home.
Brian Rowel's evening had been full of mind-numbing conversations inspired by an endless stream of stupid questions. Add in a devilish dark-haired temptress and this torrential downpour, and the whole damn night was a clusterfuck of tribulations that his tired mind could have done without.
The night sky had been clear and pristine as he made his departure from the Harrison Economy Inn just north of Bangor. His work for Sales Smart Worldwideâa company that worked with hotels all over the country to help desk associates make more salesâbrought him up and down the East Coast. His penchant for traveling the back roads had inspired his fiancÃ©e, Shannon, to purchase the TomTom navigation system that had been a perfect guide for his trips over the last month and a half. Driving anywhere and everywhere had been reduced to a near-brainless exercise thanks to the little device, allowing him to take in more of the beautiful scenery that often came with these lengthy journeys. This trip should have been no exception. No more maps, no more fumbling around in the dark, trying to figure out what he should be doing or where the hell he was going.
Thick clouds had rolled in, snuffing out the warm glow of the stars. The light rain that followed shifted into attack mode, taking his relaxing back-road trip and turning it into an eye-straining exercise. He was forced to snail along at a dreadful fifteen miles per hour, praying that no local yokel would come bumming down the road and knock his sorry ass into the ditch.
Twenty minutes later, the TomTom lost its signal. For the rest of the night, the device's green-lit display screen would only read “Searching”. He had no choice but to pull over and scrounge for the maps he had exiled to the backseat.
Under the dull-yellow illumination provided by the car's dome light, he stopped at the sight of the phone number written across the front of one of his training folders. In big, bubbly script, it read “555-2121âAmber”.
Amber Cunningham had been one of the front-desk associates at the Harrison Economy Inn. Tall and thin, with an athletic build, she had flirted with him the moment he stepped into the hotel lobby. Amber made him feel young. He had arrived at the scheduled two-o'clock training course a couple of hours early. The majority of that time was spent standing at the reception desk, eating up every bit of Amber's infectious attention. While Shannon may have gotten a kick out of the flirting, she would have kicked the younger girl's ass for what happened later.
From the moment she entered the tight meeting space, quiet Amber's deep-blue eyes tracked his every move. Her gaze and intent was undeniable. His
. The sudden change from fun and flirty, to sexy and seductive, was not lost on him.
He introduced their lesson and got lost midsentence as he watched Amber pout her lips and apply a glossy lip balm. She caught his stare and bit her bottom lip.
By the end of the class, he was ready to either make a huge mistake or run for his life. As the dark-haired vixen made a beeline for him, he chose the latter. Perspiring like a preteen on his first date, he gathered his papers, threw them in with his laptop and started for the door. She caught him at the staircase leading down to the lobby.
A whispered offer about an oral opportunity and a subtle nudge with her delicate hand to the front of his khaki pants had his heart pounding like a jackhammer and caused a slight stirring in his underwear. He politely thanked her for the offer, then shimmied past her, down the short stairway. A narrow escape. Nights like these reminded him that fidelity was one of the toughest jobs he had ever had.
Now, staring down at the folder with the bubbly phone number, he wondered when she'd had time to write it. He realized that in his hurried efforts to flee from the ambitious girl, he had forgotten his whiteboard.
Brian found the discarded collection of warn and tattered road maps among a pile of coffee cups, empty Pepsi bottles and grease-stained Burger King bags laying on the floor behind the passenger seat. He found the Maine map and located his approximate positionâtwenty minutes southwest of Bangor in a town called Kingly. He spotted Route 5 and used his finger to trace his way down to Route 1.
The rain had eased up enough for him to push the speedometer back up to a decent forty miles per hour. It would be a long night of driving, but he was determined to make it home before dawn.
An hour later, his eyes began their inevitable protest. Struggling to see through the storm, while trying to read the map and keep tabs on the yellow line that centered the road, weighed heavily on his tired eyelids. He looked up from the road map in time to see a massive tree slam down across the jet-black road ahead of him.
“Holy shit.” He stamped the brakes.
The car idled as he gazed upon the massive pine that would have crushed him if Lady Luck hadn't winked his way. “Fucking perfect,” he said, scanning the ditch to determine whether or not there was enough room to get by. The pummeling rain whipping in the wind made it next to impossible to tell.
He slammed the palms of his hands down on the steering wheel before grunting on his way out the door. The tree was massive.
Jack's fucking beanstalk.
He'd felt the wind pushing his car around earlier, but hadn't thought it was strong enough to do this.
The large tree stretched from one side of the road to the next. A cold wind kicked up from the south, blowing the intensifying rain into his face and sending a shiver down his spine. He turned up his jacket collar and moved forward.
The thing looked like a pine on steroids, conjuring his childhood fear of the tree outside the boy's bedroom window in
. Some fucked-up part of his mind was certain that were he to reach out and touch its wet bark with his hand, the walls of reality were sure to burst open and release an evil from some other hellish dimension.
He realized his fingers were inches from the tree and abruptly snapped the extended digits back. An irrational fear boiled up within him, making him feel both stupid and childish.
Somewhere within the soundtrack of the raging storm, he heard a grunt.
“Hello?” His voice died a quick death against the howling wind.
Gooseflesh broke out across the backs of his arms. The response turned his blood cold. The sound was animalistic, and out here in the middle of nowhere, it could have been any manner of beast.
The unmistakable howl came from the trees to his right. There was something moving in the darkness. He didn't want to look, but could not tear his eyes from the breathing shadow in the night. The rain, whipping roughly into his eyes, hindered his line of vision. He heard branches snapping, the sound of shuffling and
He began to back away, unable to redirect his gaze.
The trees around him swayed with the rhythm of the surrounding chaos, in a mad waltz that evoked a sense of doom. His foot caught a jagged rock protruding up from the earth, sending him flailing backwards. He banged his elbow on the side-view mirror as he fell into the quickly forming mire beneath him.
Brian climbed to his feet. A deep cracking sound stole his attention. He looked up and saw another tree coming down in his direction. He scrambled backwards as the smaller pine fell through the storm and landed on the front of his car. The headlights went out beneath its weight, taking with them the only source of illumination in this Godforsaken night.
Done trying to rationalize the situation, he grabbed for the door handle, but his fingers, slick from the rain, slipped once, twice, before finding their hold and pulling the door ajar.
Lightning flashed across the blackened sky, revealing to him his first glimpse of the thing standing at the forest's edge. He saw the silhouette of something big, something massive covered in fur, and no more than fifteen feet from where he stood.
Brian's heart tried its best to beat its way right through his chest. His knees buckled. He began hoping, more than he could ever remember hoping for anything else in his life, that this was a nightmare. More than the time he had prayed that Marie Coughlin would let him feel her up at
, or when he proposed to Shannon at Niagara Falls. He was praying that he had fallen asleep while traversing these damned back roads. Besides, being in a ditch would be a hell of a lot better than being right here, right now. None of this made any sense. It had to be a dream. It had to.
The beast was his only company on this desolate road. The sudden loss of hope stole the breath from his lungs. He had suffered from panic attacks as a preteen, but for the better part of his adult life, he had been rid of their frightening spells. He could feel the sickening wave of unsettled nerves stirring up within him and the hot flash beginning its course through his body as his mind hit overload on its capacity for the absurd.
He climbed into his car as fast as he could, nearly falling on his face as the lightheadedness that was customary with his attacks announced its presence. He grabbed ahold of the steering wheel for balance, clenching his fingers tight around the rubber cover in a meager attempt to coddle his mental atrophy. Another thunderous boom blasted the world around him.
What was that? What the fuck is out there? What in the hell is going on?
The roof of his car sunk in under the weight of the howling creature. He shut his eyes as tight as he could and began praying aloud, “Dear God, please make it go away. Please, God, I'm so, so sorry. Make it go awayâ¦”
Lightning flashed again.
The beast in the storm let out a low and deep growl from directly over his head. He continued to pray, but tonight prayers were not going to be enough, and he knew it.
The car shifted beneath the weight, moaning as the beast maneuvered into position. The entire vehicle shook. He heard the unmistakable sound of something large hitting the ground beside him.
He could sense it staring at him. The thing in the night was now on the other side of his window. Brian sat shaking behind the wheel like a child upon a bed, convinced that the boogeyman was about to finally reveal itself from behind the half-closed closet door.
He thought of Shannon, his beautiful fiancÃ©e, the woman he would never see again. The woman he loved more than anything on this earth. The one whom he had promised, less than four hours ago, that he would drive home safely, and be there to cuddle with her before dawn. Tears flowed from his closed eyes as his bladder let go.
The driver-side window shattered inward. Brian Rowel let out one final gut-wrenching scream as broken glass and cold rain slapped across the side of his face. The fur of the beast's arm tickled his nose and top lip as it reached in for him.
Its claws tore through the right side of his head, taking his jaw and that half of his face off. Blood splattered the windshield, steering wheel and dashboard.
His face and annihilated jaw landed in the mud on the side of the flash-flooded road. The rest of his body convulsed behind the wheel.
The creature howled into the fully raging storm before vaulting itself toward the woods off the side of Christie Road. Thunder rolled across the sky above. The deadly beast headed west, toward the city.
The body of Brian Rowel sat lifeless, drenched in blood and rain.