Chapter 7 (Pt. I)

The store had a traditional style, the type of look city fresh markets tries to imitate with its wholesome fruits and veggies in wooden crates stacked in the middle of the aisles. Even though I knew it would annoy her I decided to get started on the shopping, grabbing a pushcart. Kassidy had a knack for getting caught in conversation in what seemed to be with no end, I bore easily of extended banter that lacks any interest to me. I know this to be selfish, hell maybe even childish at times but I’m honest and will politely excuse myself so that I would not let the lack of care creep across my face.

Rummaging through the seasoning of the spices aisle, I picked just what I needed for tonight’s dinner. This evening supper would be a special one, Crispy salmon, with crushed new potatoes, Kassidy’s favorite meal. It was the initial dish that impressed her with on our first date, that eventually led to other dates and an “I Do”. At that time between student loans and bills, I barely could afford the mainstream stigma of a first date. Yet fortunately for me, I was taught some very useful skills as a young single man still making his way into the world. After the passing of my mother at an early age my best friend mom filled the role of “Mother” for me. Mrs. Flow could damn near cook any and everything you desired. Her cooking was so good it’ll have you wanting her to open a restaurant just so you could enjoy her meals whenever.

Looking over everything in the cart, I had just about everything I needed for tonight and the rest of the week. The only thing I was missing was the actual salmon itself.

Chapter 6 (Final Pt.)

DING! DING!

The door chimed, announcing as we walked into the store. A young girl stood slumped over the checkout counter flipping through a teens magazine.  She met us not with a warm southern welcome greeting I’ve sort of come to expect but as an alternative, a more rebellious “I rather be anywhere but here” glare while popping her gum at us.

“Welcome to Mama Ed’s.” A broad-shouldered, heavy-breasted, short merry woman hobbled from the aisles with a broom in hand.

“Not seen you folks around here before, wait a minute?” The lady reached for her glasses that hung from her neck, adjusting them on to her face. “Well, I’ll be you Mary’s grandbaby.”

Kassidy smiled with joy as she ran into the jovial woman’s arm, “Hey Aunty Edna.”

“Gurrrrrl it’s been so long since I seen ya!” Edna could not believe her eyes, holding Kassidy closely to her. “After Mary’s passing yawl hardly come visit us anymo. Heard you move to the city and made something of yourself.”

“Yea, sometimes it’s hard to come back from a loss, but I have missed being here. Besides I wanted to bring my husband, Nero, to my town.”

“Oh, Baby you got a husband? Where he’d wander off to?”

Chapter 6 (Pt I.)

The sun was bright, the air bitter to the skin as Kassidy and I walked the tiny town of Remington, a town so miniscule that it failed to register on most GPS. You would have to Know the way as the locals would say. Remington was a town hardly touched by time, it was like being thrown back in the early 1900s, just catching up to the early 2000s. They even had a payphone near Mama Ed’s the local grocery store. Kassidy told me many stories of how as a kid she would come here with her grandma to purchase the juiciest peaches you’d ever find in all of Georgia. Then they would go home and make grandmas world-famous peach cobbler and listen to the life lessons she had gained growing up in a time before Rosa Parks sat down on the bus.

A storm was approaching the south and soon the roads would become unacceptable. The winter getaway was only planned for a weekend and now that weekend would turn into about a week. It was estimated that by Christmas the roads should be travelable but until then our necessities needed to double to deal with the extended stay in the cabin.

After the visit from Sheriff Walton early this morning, we had turned on the TV as we indulged in our breakfast. There was a well-dressed woman in a red blouse and black pencil skirt standing in front of weather map of the eastern side of the United States. The words “Bomb cyclone”, flashed across the screen. An apocalyptic-sounding winter storm set to hit the East Coast with freezing precipitation to affect Florida all the way up to New England. Here in the mountain region of Ga, They may get some snow but not the amount that was expected to reach. “Record Highs” the weatherwoman stated as she spoke to her fellow newsmen.

Chapter 5: The Flickering Light of the Past (Part II Final)

“King? Are you okay Baby?” Kassidy smile quickly turned into worry.

“Yea, just… I don’t know.”

“You were calling out some other woman’s name you know.” Her lips shifted, and her left eyebrow moved on its own, her look now was one of curiosity. It kind of reminded me of how WWE The Rock would do his to rile up the fans.

“I was, when?”

“Yes, in your sleep duh! Someone named Claire I think you kept saying. You wouldn’t be cheating on me would you and now your guilty conscience eating at you.”

“Wooooow, you funny but no. Claire Williams from way back at St. Ovaria.”

“Claire from when we were kids? Wow that’s going way back, I haven’t thought about her in ages”

“Yea, me either” I watched as the snow plastered pine trees faded into blurs, I tried to search the depths of my mind for a reason for the sudden trip to the past and what the hell did I dream to frighten me so bad about it. After pulling off to the approaching exit we soon past a large wooded, timeworn road sign with “Welcome to Remington” inscribed across its surface.

Chapter 5: The Flickering Light of the Past (Part I)

I awoke to a flash of dazzling lights. It was inviting, totally different from the cold of the lonesome shadows of death; I felt at peace.

     Through Darkness, Comes the Light, from its warming brace I could hear the proverbial whispers of my mother. Could this be The Light, the Light found at the end of the obscure tunnel? The guiding light to Paradise, to Heaven almighty where the angel dwell?

“Jesus, Nero, are you really sleeping?” Kassidy scoffed. I turned from the brightness of the daylight wiping the sleep from eyes, to see Kassidy in the driver seat steering the Ford down the scenic mountain road. We had just past a green Stagg road sign that read REMINGTON 1 MILE. It wasn’t what I thought, just the sun, it was the sun which woke me some hours later.

“Maybe next time I’ll hold back from taking your soul if you can’t hang Baby.” Kassidy clowned while sticking her tongue out while tooting her ass.

“Don’t kid yourself, Queen, you’re good but you could be Hella lot better.” I retorted with a slight grin. I struggled out of a terrible dream — I was chasing after someone or something had been chasing me. I couldn’t remember vividly, the only thing that stuck was the heart gripping, skin crawling, soul-freezing fear I had experience, and a familiar name from my younger days of attending St. Ovaria private school, Claire Williams. I was unbearably hot; my skin was damped with sweat. Sitting back in the passenger seat I cracked the window letting in that cool mountain air. Could this have been fear of the nightmare? No, the sun rays had been gleaming down on me for only God knows how long as I slept. Beaming down on me through the window like an ant under a magnifying glass from a mischievous child. Better yet it was probably a combination of both the Heat of the sun and the cold fear of the dream causing condensation to emit from my flesh.

Chapter 4: Memories of eyes made of Coal (Part IV Final)

“Nero…” A familiar voice whispered my name. I instantly shot up surveying the halls.

“Nero hurry…” My eyes could hardly believe it, I don’t think I could believe it. It was Claire, Claire Williams!  I wasn’t alone, an actual person and not the Snowman. Claire stood in the center of the hall looking at me with a slight smile. She turned walking down the hallway, I got up quickly following her.

Claire took a right down the foyer, as did I, she took a left and with no delay, I trailed behind. Locker’s begun to swing and close on their own, the closer I got to her, the louder they banged against each other. There was a flood of clashing metal clinging together. I tried drowning out the gaudy sound by covering my ears. Claire disappeared into the blackness of a classroom, just as I was to follow her the door slammed with a terrifying force, there was silence all around me.

“Please, Nero… where are you? I’m scared. He-He’s coming!” Claire called out. I rush to open the door, trying my hardest to pry it open but I stopped after looking at my feet, a pool of inky red fluid oozed around my tiny shoes.

Fear-stricken I took a step back as an earsplitting little girl scream could be heard from the other side, I slipped in the sticky rust smelling liquid. Out the corner of my eye there he stood with that smile and eyes made of coal at the center of the hall. His snow-white body stained with carnage.

The screaming stopped. The lights started to shut off, section by section the darkness started to creep. The Song of Moonlight, I thought to myself. I need the music box to keep the monsters away. I search my pockets only to come up with lint from the lining of my pants,

You Dropped it running after her… I thought to myself. I was now encircled by the darkness only a spotlight around me. But even in the darkness… even in the complete black, I could still see his Black Eyes.

“He’s Coming…” I muttered as the lights flickered on and off until the blackness finally consumed me.

“Nero…”

Chapter 4: Memories of eyes made of Coal (Part III)

“Daddy, Daddy please help me.” I shut my eyes even tighter now, shaking my head in disbelief. If I couldn’t see him then he can’t be real, it can’t be real. With the music box still in my hand, I would keep winding it and play the sweet tune, my mother adored so much. Yes, of course just keep playing the music box, the music kept the monsters away,

Nero, we are safe when bathed in the light. The sun in the day, and the moon at night, so long as there’s a glow the monsters hold no fright. Yet even the brave fears the darkness, fear the loneliness it what gives the things that go bump in the night their bloodlust. They smell terror, so when I am not at your side play this song of Moonlight.

Again, I opened my eyes merely to see the hall lined with the pale red lockers. Looking back out of the clear double doors, the Snowman was back at his post only this time he was gazing intently at me.

He forgot about you, the snowman seemed to utter from its smile of coal. I curled myself into a ball tucking my head tightly into the folds of my arms.

Chapter 4: Memories of eyes made of Coal (Part II)

The silence was deafening, not even a creek could be heard. Reaching into the main compartment of my bag I dug out a tiny crystal translucent box. A teeny handled protruded out from the side of it. Using the tip of my thumb and index finger, I wound it until the handle became tight. A sweet melody began to play, Ludwig Van Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, the tune broke the silence, each time the song would stop I would crank the miniscule handle and play the jingle all over again. It was comforting from the quietness, I didn’t feel as,

But you are alone… an Icey chill voice whispered. “Not alone, I am not alone” I chanted to myself. The Snowman was facing the door peering profoundly at me with his dark hardened eyes. I closed mines hoping he would simply go away, back to standing at his post. When I opened them, his cold frosted round body was now in mere breath away from me.

Chapter 4: Memories of eyes made of Coal (Part I)

Snow fell from the steely sky on a cold December evening. The halls of St. Ovaria private school lie uninhabited, everyone must have left for the day. Pops late again, most likely at the hospital with mom, Doctors said it won’t belong. That it was best we spend what little moments we had left.

I sat on the bench next to the pale red lockers, feet swing to and fro. I gazed out the clear double doors at the road, any moment now Dad would be pulling up in that old 97 gray Nissan Sentra. As time passed, so did my hopes of seeing that Nissan, maybe tomorrow I guess. As I stared out into the snow-covered field, a snowman took sentry over the lonely winter wonderland. Ever so vigilant, standing watched as the many children scampered into the cars that carried them away to their warm and loving home. He and so many other alike reigned over the snowy plains. With all the humans bunch up together around one another, they were free to do as they please in absolute secret. This was their land, the land of the Snowmen.

Chapter 3 (Final V)

“Well, I don’t mean to take too much of you folk’s is time. My name is Sheriff Walton-”

“Walton? As in Alice Walton?” Kassidy interjected.

“The same.”

“Omg, it’s been ages! Do you remember me?”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! As I said before, I know just about everyone around these here parts, and you know different Kassie.”

Evidently, in time passed, the sheriff and my wife shared fond memories with one another. Kassidy, a dainty, brash, fun-loving country gal from Cusseta, Ga running through woods barefoot in the soft mountain soil., and Alice, a tomboyish ruffian who knew no fear, always striving for the next adventure. Then again maybe it was the other way around? That it was Kassidy, the wild child who moved outward to the big city of Atlanta, gradually adjusting to city ways and Alice was the Fragile country flower that matured to the robust woman standing at our door today. Time has a way of changing some people.

“Let us not be rude, would you like to come in? We were just about to have breakfast.” I offered.

“Hey yea, we can catch up for old time sake” Kassidy added.

“I thank you, but and as nice as that would be, I’m afraid I must decline this time around. There are other matters that beacon my attention and other homes I need to reach out to before then, so I’ll have to hurry right along. If you haven’t already, I’m telling you now that you may want to either stock up or hurry on back to the city. The weatherman tells of massive snowstorm heading our way. Shouldn’t last too long, a couple nights at the most, all honestly you folk should be fine if all was aim to do was spend quality time together than I wouldn’t cut out early.”

“Oh, well thank you, Sheriff,” I said with my hand extended out.

“No thank you for the time and for bein’ so gracious.” Sheriff Walton brace my hand into hers. Warm and rigid, the hand density of person that worked hard for everything they own.

“It’s always a pleasure to see a familiar face, who knows, maybe next time I’ll take you folks up on some of that fine eatin’.” Sheriff Walton tipped her hat to us again with that cheery smile. She hoisted herself up into her SUV and cranked up the engine. It bellowed a gust of exhaust as she rolled downed her window. “Y’all have a good one ya hear.” Sheriff waved backing out.

It wasn’t long before she was no more than fading cloud of dirt and snow.

“I think we’ll be good, although we probably should head into town and stock up on a few necessities.”

“Yea and YOU need to call the Grands and let them know we won’t be back for Christmas.”

“Shit that’s right! The kid’s presents! Well, we did have half the gifts still tucked away and wrapped so they should be good. Besides Mommy and Daddy coming back from the north pole with even more gifts should send them into a frenzy of joy.”

“Good thinking King, be sure to let them know that, I’m hungry and I’m sure the food is about lukewarm by now so I’ll warm up Breakfast and you get a movie set up for us to watch.” Kassidy kissed my lips and sauntered on back into the bedroom, I soon followed suit to set up the TV for a bit of Netflix, breakfast, and that rekindling of flame, Sheriff Walton spoke of