There was a low vibration. It started soft, but she could feel it echo. It was a whisper, a promise of something coming, and Kim tried not to let it bother her. Picking up speed now, she tried to run from the voice in her mind, the one screaming warnings. That instinct to run far from her destination. But no, Kim had to go; she had to make it to the place where death was a way of life.
It took a little while for Mrs. Stoppable to calm down to rational thought. Just what was that? It couldn't really have been her son could it? She darted to Ron's room to find the bed empty, the way it had been, just how he had left it the day he had disappeared. But that couldn't be… She crept to the bedside, her moves quiet and careful as if not to disturb even the dust that may be on the floor. Ever so carefully she crept towards the mattress and the mess of covers, her fingertips daring to grip the light blue fabric. That was until a creak caused her to spin 'round.
"Mrs. Stoppable. My, how desperate you must be." She watched with horror as the strange young man approached, his long raven-black hair shading his face and fell on pale bare shoulders. Around his hips were loose white pants, which hid his feet in its length. She staggered back as he neared, stumbling onto the vacant bed, her hand hitting something wet. Shaking now she returned her hand into view to see it coated in blood, the crimson liquid now seeping through the sky blue sheets.
"Do not be afraid." He stopped and lifted his head, his hair flowing to the sides of his face to reveal completely black eyes, eyes that took her breath away. The boy offered a hand to her and beat-by-beat she could feel her heart race faster. Her mind scrambled, her body shook and she only prayed that this nightmare might be over soon. No, she scrambled across the bed, anywhere or anything to put more distance between her and this demon. He stopped, as if he dared not touch the bed, which now dripped blood like a sponge.
"Do you wish to know what happened to your son?" He offered, retracting his hand, but kept his onyx eyes on her. Mrs. Stoppable only panted, the fear stealing her voice and her mind far to panicked to think. "I can take you to him. I know where he is. Aren't you curious as to what is going on? Why blood pours from his bed and why he says no words? Come closer and I will show you. I will take you to him." Again he offered the woman his hand.
She stared at it, then at the ashen white face of the stranger in the room and as she watched, it seemed as if his eyes expanded…like being drawn into two huge holes in the universe. Shakingly…slowly she sent out her own hand eventfully touching the ice-cold flesh of the other. He bore a smile then, showing more teeth in a grin than humanly possible, each seemingly sharp and serrated. Mrs. Stoppable yelled and yanked her hand, but it would not budge from his grasp. He pulled her forward and off the bed with a single jerk. By now the woman was hysterical.
"You call yourself proud?" He stood over her, her twisted and broken hand and wrist in his grip. Mrs. Stoppable was screaming, struggling, and doing all she could to get away. He merely bent down and snatched her glasses and stomped them. "You betray your husband's trust and consulted her behind his back." He smirked as he placed a boot on one of her calves and bent down to grab her ankle with his free hand and with one quick fluid motion pulled her ankle up. The sound of her shin snapping in half rung out far louder than her screams.
"Breaks just like a chicken bone," He smiled wickedly at the way her bone poked through flesh. "Now, I know what you must be thinking. Where are those answers I promised you? After all, what would you do for your son? Dishonor your husband? Sell out your friends? Don't you worry, Mrs. Stoppable. You'll receive your answers."
By now Kim was exhausted. Who would have guessed that the funeral home was so far away? There was a strong smell of dirt in the late afternoon air, the sun setting in a blood red sky just beyond the large building. She stepped forward, rushed and slightly on edge as her footsteps echoed over the other wise deafening silence. Inside it was dim, the setting sun's red yellow rays the primary source of light. The lobby was seemingly covered in red velvet from the antique chairs, to the floor and walls. It felt like a coffin to her, the feeling of stillness far too strong. There wasn't another person to be seen and no sound was heard.
Kim placed a hand on the cherry wood reception desk flanked by tall silk lilies and she shivered. There was something very strange about this place. It felt like all around her there was something, that one voice screaming louder, the instinct to run making her hair stand up, her heart race a bit faster. Kim's logic fought back however, after all there was no such thing as ghosts. It was all in her mind…
"Can I help you?" Kim jumped, turning to see a young woman smiling at her, wiping her hands. "Sorry if I scared you."
Kim shook her head, pushing some of her hair from view, "It's ok, I'm just a little-" She swallowed, trying to calm a little. Everything that had happened, all the stress was taking far too much out of her. Any other day that wouldn't have startled her. "I'm looking for Mr. Load." The woman sighed.
"Mr. Load is busy right now. Is something wrong?" How to respond to that? There was a strange woman and her non-existent son out for his life, no big.
"I can wait."
"I'll let him know you're here…you're Kim Possible, right?" Kim nodded. "You can have a seat here, or look around. Mr. Load gets off work in about half an hour. If there is anything you need, just ring the bell on the desk." With that, the woman walked back through a door to the left of the lobby and again Kim was alone in that eerie room. She glanced around, seeing another room to the right. Kim walked to it, her fingers running along the crimson velveteen wall.
The viewing room. Kim swallowed, her eyes falling on a coffin surrounded by flowers. The room was cold, a large open window letting the last scarlet light rays paint the red room. Hesitantly, she let a footstep past the room's threshold and onto the plush carpeting. Keeping to the back of the room, she walked in and took a seat. Why, she had no idea. There wasn't any type of label as to who may lay inside the casket, and honestly the idea of death scared her to no end.
That alone was an odd idea. After all, in her line of work death seemed to be something to be familiar with. However, she was a teenager and as such believed herself invincible. Thinking back, Kim realized countless times she had scraped past it, not even noticing. Kim put her head in her hands, letting her hair fall around, filtering out the light. It was so quiet here, so devoid of life…what she'd give to hear Ron right now. She mused on how he would have reacted to the thought of coming here. How she would have to pull him into the lobby and how he would have yelled, jumping into her arms when that one woman appeared out of nowhere. A sad smile crawled across her lips from that and she drooped forward, her arms hugging herself. A noise caused Kim to look up, the empty room past her veil of hair.
She stood, the noise coming again, like a thump, a hand clasping over Kim's shoulder causing her to spin around, her hands posed for defense.
"Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you again." Kim sighed when she saw it was just the woman from before. "My name is Susan, by the way. Is there anything I can get you? Maybe some magazines?"
"No, thanks." Kim turned her gaze to the coffin. "Who died?" The woman laughed.
"That's just our show casket. This is an example of our viewings that our possible clients come and see. The flowers up there are fake and the casket's empty." Kim sighed a sigh of relief. "I just came to check on you. Mr. Load said he'd be done in a few." She nodded to Susan and watched her leave before turning her gaze back to the casket. Now she felt silly being scared of something that was empty in the first place. Kim made her way to the cherry wood coffin and touched the flowers to find indeed they were silk flowers. Inwardly Kim laughed. Next her hand slid across the surface of the casket, the smooth coldness still sending shivers down her back.
It was hard to imagine…someday she herself would be in one of these. It was a morbid thought, but Kim couldn't help but to imagine what her own funeral would be like. It would probably be in this very room and she would lie in a casket of her own on this elevated stage like place, her friends and family seated in the seats behind her. Kim focused on her reflection in the red wood's fine polish.
"Beautiful isn't it?" Kim turned to see a tall African American male with a wide grin. He stood maybe 6 foot, a nice build and despite being a father of a twelve year old he seemed pretty youthful. Mr. Load held out his hand. "It's great to finally meet you, Kim Possible. Wade talks pretty highly of you." Kim grinned, shaking his hand.
"It's a pleasure." She let go and her face turned much more serious. "Mr. Load, I have to get right down to business. You and your family might be in danger."
"I assumed that to be the case," he said, resting an elbow on the casket, a small grin coming to him as he looked from the casket to Kim. "So, what's the sitch? I've always wanted to say that myself."
"Have you ever heard of Ego Quidnam Caedo Letum?" He seemed to think for a moment, concentration clear on face.
"It sounds familiar. I who hunt death?" Kim nodded.
"They hunt people who they believe are dead, or should be, or connected to death. There's two people who have recently moved into Middleton who are apart of Ego Quidnam Caedo Letum and one mentioned you and your wife." Kim had expected him to laugh at such a silly idea, after all it sounded far-fetched. She expected him to ask if she was feeling ok, or if it was a joke. Instead there was worry clear as day on his face. Fear. "Do you know why they might be interested in you and your family?" When his eyes fell to the floor, still wide and shaking in the lowly lit room Kim began to worry. "Mr. Load?"
He looked up at her, a hand on his forehead. "You say they're after us?" His scared tone was now turning Kim's stomach.
"I have reason to believe they might be interested in-"
"This can't be happening. We-no. This…this isn't true." He staggered to a chair, his head in his hands. Kim sat next to him.
"Mr. Load, if there is any reason they might be interested in your family I need to know." He looked at her, seeming to search her face for something. She placed a hand on his. "I'll do my best to protect you and your family. It's the least I can do after everything Wade's done for us." Us… again Kim's thought drifted towards Ron and how empty it felt without him by her side. Mr. Load looked away.
"I can't. I just can't."
"I can't really do anything unless I know why they're after you-"
"They're not after me." He stood and Kim followed.
"What do you mean they're not after you? Are they after your wife?" He looked like he was going to answer but the Kimunicator went off. "Hey Wade, what's the sitch?" Wade's expression was a lot like his father's.
"Mrs. Stoppable's missing. Th-there was a lot of her blood found in Ron's room and a trail of it leading out the back door, but other than that there's no trace…" Kim's mind took her back to earlier that day when Mrs. Stoppable had denied her the chance to see Ron.
"How much blood?" She asked, holding the Kimunicator closer.
"A Lethal amount."
Kim swallowed hard, "And Ron? How is he?" Wade hung his head.
Her face contorted in a flicker of pain as Kim held her head, "This doesn't make any sense. Hunter said if I wanted to know why they were in town to ask your parents-" Wade's eyes widened.
"Wait, that's why you asked earlier? Where are you?" Mr. Load grabbed the Kimunicator. "Dad?"
"Wade, listen, you have to up the security around the house, just do it, no questions asked. I'll be home as soon as I can." He hit a button, shutting off the connection and handed it back to an angry and confused Kim. "I know what you're going to say, and I'm sorry I can't explain. Now, if you'll excuse me I have to hurry home."
"Not without me." Kim stood, tucking the device away. "I know the Turchans, I know what to look for and a bit of what to expect."
"I'm sorry. I just can't let you, please understand Kim. If… if I could, I'd let you over, I would. But it's not possible, so just don't ask again." And with that he ran out the doors. Kim followed only to watch as Mr. Load pulled from the parking lot. Had Kim been prepared she'd have hooked her grappling hook hair dryer to his bumper and initiated her rocket roller-skates…but Kim would never have guessed things would have turned out like this. Inwardly she cursed, sitting on the curb, holding her head.
Mr. Load looked very scared, and as it seemed, Hunter's clue wasn't just a red herring after all. But what was it about Wade's family that the Turchans were interested in? And what happened to Ron's mother…and what happened to Ron? Everything spun. What was wrong? Any other day, any other mission this would be nothing. She would be up and running and well on her way to solving this. Why then? Why did she feel so weak and confused? Worst of all if anything horrible happened to anyone it would definitely feel like it was her fault. After all, she was the hero. If Kim could save hundreds of people she never knew, surely she could save her friends. But it was growing cold, the night settling down around her on the side of the parking lot. With a sigh Kim stood, trying decide what to do next.
She could try to figure out where Wade lived…which was weird now that she thought of it. The idea of going to Wade's never really came to mind, so she had no idea where the guy lived. Going to investigate Ron's house was another option, but surly there'd be police all over that place…hopefully Mr. Stoppable was ok. Kim sighed, beginning to walk in the direction of her own home, seeing no other option at the time. Besides, she was cold, tired and hungry.
There was a low rolling mist coming from the creek not too far from this road, obscuring her feet as she waded through the vapor. Kim trudged on, watching this moving sea of gray white, her mind and body feeling exhausted. Startled, Kim stopped when she walked right into a pair of open arms, looking up only when she felt them wrap around her, her breath caught in her throat. His name was summoned, but never passed shaking lips in the cold evening air. Her trembling fingers touched yellow hair…
Back in the funeral home, Susan was finishing up the last of the work. Happily she walked into the viewing room, wood polish and a duster in hand, she just had to spruce up the casket and dust the flowers. It was a daily thing since the place was so old. The young woman couldn't help but to wonder what was going on, after all, Mr. Load was a pretty nice guy; up beat and really…really loved his job. Why would someone like Kim Possible need to come to warn him of something? She shrugged, gripping the lid of the casket, throwing it off before screaming.
Staring up at her was two brown eyes behind shattered frames, blonde hair stuck to a shattered face. Susan fell to the floor, a hand holding her mouth in a desperate attempt to keep herself from vomiting, the human soup that rested in the coffin still clear in her mind. Besides the mangled remains of a face, there really was nothing solid left. It sat like a disturbed stew of organs, skin and small fragments of bone. She ran right into a pair of feet.
"Where do you think you're going, Susan? I can't have any witnesses." She was hoisted up by a pale hand to meet with black eyes. "Didn't anyone ever tell you it's impolite to stare at the dead?" He dragged her kicking and screaming back to the coffin before grinning. "Now take a deep breath." And with that shoved her face into the bloody mess. She kicked, thrashed and sent the crimson liquid every which way, staining the off-white gossamer curtains, and rained down upon the silk flowers before her movement ceased…drowning in the remains of someone else. Hunter let her go, allowing her to fall to the floor with a thud before smiling at his work.
"That's one curious cat, one more left to go."
Jao: I know that took forever to get out, but you can bet that the next chapters will come quicker. It's still confusing but good Horror movies are also mysteries, if you ask me.