Subject: Ghouls and Dolls- by LapisLazuli100
Synopsis: An abrupt stop in Morgantown, West Virginia, gets the FL team involved in the case of a mysterious young boy who may be connected to a string of grave desecrations...
*** This story takes place right after the events of Subject: The Vortex
RATED "T" for mild violence and content
Morgantown, West Virginia
A white, 2000 Jeep Wrangler speeds down a long stretch of highway, driving past a brightly colored sign: "Welcome to Morgantown". Inside the jeep, Jason Tatum, rides shotgun, while Chloe Tanner mans the steering wheel. Restless and fueled by boredom, Jason switches on the video camera, and begins recording…
"Salutations brothers and sisters, salutations! Jason Tatum here, giving all you Freaks out there, an exclusive behind the scenes look at the future: Mr. and Mrs. … Derek Barnes…!"
Jason spins the camera around, focusing on two figures, passed out in the back seat of the jeep. First, Jason focuses the camera on Derek Barnes, resting his head against his seat, and then Lan Williams, whose head is resting on Derek's shoulder. Both are sound asleep, completely oblivious to Jason's teasing.
"Aww look at them Freaks…don't they make a beautiful couple?"
"Cut it out Jason" chimed Chloe, "leave them alone".
"What" asked Jason, now focusing the camera on Chloe, "I'm just having a little fun. Besides, 'D' here, still owes me for that live lobster he dropped on my lap!"
Chloe smiles and laughs, remembering Derek's prank at Nathan's party.
"I'm sorry" spoke Chloe, "but that was really funny…"
Jason rolled his eyes muttering "hardy-har-har" as Chloe continued to chuckle. As she did this, Jason checked his watch, and it read: 10:48pm. Jason sighed. As bad as he wanted to get back home, this road trip was making him antsy.
"I don't know about you, but I could sure use a pit stop" spoke Jason.
He continued focusing his camera on Chloe, who gave him a look.
"Don't tell me you're still hungry" spoke Chloe, raising an eyebrow, "We just ate about three hours ago…"
"Yea I know…but that was three hours ago…" spoke Jason, "Don't you want a caffeine recharge?"
"I'm good for the time being" answered Chloe, "We'll stop somewhere in another hour. Try to relax, read a book".
She returned her attention to the road; the truth of the matter was, that Chloe could've used a pit stop. But after their frightening ordeal in Waltham Massachusetts, Chloe just wanted to get everyone back home to Orlando, the sooner the better. She glanced in the rear view mirror at Derek and Lan, still snoozing away. Chloe frowned.
Poor things…they've been through a lot… poor Derek especially.
"Chloe" spoke Jason softly, "they're going to be alright."
"Huh" asked Chloe, annoyed that Jason read her facial expression.
"Derek and Lan" continued Jason, "they're going to be okay. And if not, then you and I, we'll take care of them…you know, help them get through it".
Chloe sighed as she turned her attention back to the road. Jason was right. No matter what, they would be there for Derek and Lan. She just hoped that Derek had enough sense to swallow his pride and accept their help.
Just then, Chloe's eyes widened, and she let out a loud scream as she slammed on the breaks. The jeep came to a sudden stop, jostling everyone inside. Derek and Lan groaned, as Jason, still operating the camera, cursed out loud.
"Chloe what the heck?" yelled Jason.
But Chloe did not respond. Instead, her eyes remained large and frightened as she continued staring out at the road. Jason focused the camera through the windshield, and immediately saw what caused Chloe to freak out. Crouched in the jeep's headlights, appeared to be a scrawny young boy (on all fours) with his back turned to the car. Jason focused his camera on the child, who appeared to be laboring with something, completely unaware of their presence. Chloe and Jason exchanged worried looks, as Derek and Lan stirred in the back.
"Guys" slurred Derek, still sleepy, "What's with the wake up call?"
Chloe and Jason did not respond. Derek stretched and rubbed his eyes, slowly becoming aware of the tense atmosphere inside the jeep. Lan yawned and stretched her arms.
"Derek" spoke Lan, "what's happening?"
Chloe and Jason continued exchanging worried looks.
"Oh my God" started Chloe, "please tell me I didn't just…"
"It's alright, I don't think you hit him" interrupted Jason.
Chloe quickly unsnapped her seat belt, exiting the jeep, while Jason, still holding the camera, unhooked his seatbelt and followed suit. With care and caution, Jason slowly made his way around to the front of the vehicle, as Chloe stood frozen by the driver's side, afraid to move. As she did this, Derek grabbed his crutches off the floor, and carefully slid out of the jeep, quickly hobbling up behind Jason.
"Dude, what's going on?" asked Derek.
But suddenly he wretched and gagged when the odor of rotten meat filled his nostrils.
"Aw dude…did you guys just hit a deer carcass?"
"No" answered Jason, "I think we almost hit a kid."
Jason and Chloe made eye contact before they slowly walked towards the front of the jeep. All three of them stopped when seeing the boy still crouching in front of the vehicle. At first, Derek opened his mouth to speak to the boy, but Jason nudged him, sharply in the side. Derek gasped, grabbing his side, and Jason spun around, when suddenly remembering that Derek's ribs were still tender.
"Aw 'D'…!" whispered Jason, "I'm so sorry…!"
"What the heck was that for?" hissed Derek.
"Look at him!" whispered Jason, "There's something wrong with this kid…"
Jason, Derek, and Chloe stared silently at the boy, studying him. The child was barefoot, but fully clothed; his skin color was noticeably grey, and his ash-blonde hair looked greasy and disheveled. His thin, white cotton t-shirt and brown shorts were caked and soiled with dirt, and even more disturbing, was the chewing and sucking sounds, he was making. Jason and Derek quietly exchanged looks, before carefully stepping forward.
Jason, raised the camera, focusing on the boy. A part of him couldn't help but feel guilty for filming the child (especially if he was hurt or in some kind of trouble); and yet…a feeling in his gut was urging Jason, to keep filming. He looked at Chloe, who nodded at him, before he took another step forward.
"Uh…hey…you okay there?" asked Jason.
The boy quickly turned around and faced Jason and Derek, who gasped at the nasty sight. The young boy's face was smeared with dirt and slimy discolored gore, and he appeared to be clutching a strange-looking chunk of meat in his hands. His dark brown eyes were wild and glassy and he hissed and growled like a cat; first at Jason and Derek, then at Chloe, who yelped when seeing his face. The boy then dropped his piece of meat, and ran swiftly brushing past Chloe, into a small wooded area off the side of the road..
"Hey wait!" shouted Jason, as he quickly ran after him.
"Jason, wait up!" yelled Derek, hobbling fast behind him.
Chloe spun around as Lan exited the vehicle. The two women watched as Jason and Derek disappeared into the thin wall of trees, pursuing the creepy young boy. It didn't take long for Derek and Jason to exit the small wooded area, and when they pushed through the clearing, they found themselves, to their surprise, inside a cemetery. The two paused to catch their breaths and to observe their surroundings, but there seemed to be no trace of the strange boy.
"Great" muttered Jason, as he filmed their surroundings, "now where did he go?"
"Beats me" panted Derek, leaning on his crutches and smirking, "with our dumb luck, the kid was probably just a ghost…"
Jason looked at Derek, and returned his smirk. Suddenly, they heard a twig snap and out of the corner of his eye, Derek saw the boy running down the hill, zigzagging between tombstones and monuments.
"Jason over there" shouted Derek, pointing to his right.
Jason caught sight of the boy, just as he disappeared out of sight, and started chasing after him with Derek hobbling close behind. The street lights in town, offered some visibility in the cemetery, but not much. So both Jason and Derek had to watch their steps down the slightly steep hill. At last, when they reached the bottom of the hill, they made a gruesome discovery. At the very bottom, appeared to be a freshly dug grave. Jason and Derek looked at each other before moving closer to examine it. Jason started filming the grave.
"A little late for a grave side ceremony, isn't it?" asked Jason, still filming.
He focused the camera lens on the tombstone, which read:
Born: October 6th 1989
Died: June 22nd 2001
"You were taken from us too soon. You'll remain in our hearts forever…"
"No Jason…" muttered Derek, looking down into the hole, " I think we've stumbled onto something much worse…" He covered his mouth and turned away, fighting the urge to vomit.
Jason looked at Derek, perplexed, but then he panned the camera down inside the hole, and almost gagged. The light from the video camera revealed an open coffin, containing the 'former' Fredrick Linkner. The cadaver was in the stages of decomposition; but what sickened Derek and Jason most (other than the smell) was the fact that the cadaver's shirt was torn open, and that large pieces of 'Mr. Linkner's' flesh appeared to have been crudely removed, leaving his ribs and other skeletal remains, exposed. Derek and Jason quickly moved away from the scene, and continued to retch.
Jason leaned forward hanging his head between his knees, and Derek tried to do the same with his crutches. Just then, they heard the sound of a car engine starting, and high beams turning on. Derek and Jason turn their attention to the source of the noise: a rusty, gold colored, 1978 Lincoln mark V revving its engine. Jason lifts up the camera and resumes filming. But without warning, the Lincoln speeds towards them…
"JASON LOOK OUT" cried Derek as he shoved his friend out of the way.
Derek tried to push himself out of the Lincoln's path, but the mammoth vehicle snagged one of Derek's crutches, twisting and turning him, and finally knocking Derek back, hard against a large monument. Derek collapsed to the ground in a crumpled heap, as the dirty rusty Lincoln tore through the cemetery entrance and sped away into the night.
Jason moved slowly, with a start. He felt light-headed and disoriented from Derek suddenly pushing him to the ground without warning. But a horrifying realization suddenly gripped Jason and he quickly pushed himself off the ground.
"DEREK" shouted Jason clutching the camera, "DEREK WHERE ARE YOU, ANSWER ME…"
Then, he heard a weak sound, the sound of someone groaning. Jason panned the camera's light on the source of the noise, and found Derek sprawled on the ground, face down; shivering from both pain and shock. Jason rushed to Derek's side and fell to his knees.
"Derek" cried Jason.
He set the camera down, and put a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder.
"You okay man? Talk to me!"
"Jason…" started Derek, "I think I'm okay. I just got the wind knocked out of me…"
Derek tried to move, but his body ached, and he fell back to the ground and hissed. Jason scanned his surroundings. They needed to get help, but there was no way in hell, Jason was leaving Derek alone. Jason patted his pockets, feeling for his cell phone, when suddenly, another set of high beams came rushing through the cemetery entrance. Jason froze, his body automatically snapped into fight or flight mode. But the high beams stopped a few feet away from him. The car doors opened and, and Jason breathed a sigh of relief, when seeing Chloe and Lan rushing towards him…
"DEREK" screamed Lan who fell to her knees, next to him.
"Jason what happened" asked Chloe, kneeling down, observing his injuries.
"We chased the kid all the way down here, but we lost him" explained Jason, "but then some maniac in a big car, tried to run us over...Derek...pushed me out of the way..."
Jason lowered his head as Lan squeezed Derek's hand. Derek could see how worried Lan was for him, so he squeezed her hand.
"Lan" spoke Derek, "I'm okay. Honest... I just need to lay here for a few minutes..."
Chloe gets back up, scans their surroundings, and notices the open grave. She bites her lip, nervously.
Jason looks up and notices Chloe's nervous expression.
"What is it?"
"We're going to have to contact the authorities..." spoke Chloe.
The four friends shared a tense silence. The last thing they wanted was to get involved with the police, and get asked a bunch of questions that they could not answer. Niether one of them had ever fully gotten over their experience of being falsely arrested by those crooked cops. But unfortunately, it appeared as though they had no choice. Swallowing hard, Chloe pulled out her cell phone, and started dialing...