Greetings dear readers.
Well, this is the end of "Eternally Bonded". This chapter has a different feel than Chapter VII. That was the emotional climax of the story. This is mainly to tie up some loose ends and to give some teasers for upcoming plotlines.
The scene in the funeral parlour is a direct homage to Stephen King's Salem's Lot.
I also put in a Deleted Scene that was done mainly for laughs, based on the idea of Owen and Oscar having some man-to-man talk.
I'd love to hear what everyone thinks of the Coming Attractions and if anyone has any suggestions/requests for upcoming events.
I do hope to do my Christmas one-shot. (It would be set at Christmas of 1984 and follow a plot-thread from Chapter VII.) If I fail to get it up, Merry Christmas.
As for reviews...You all know how I feel about them. Please don't make me beg. LOL
Eternally Bonded, Chapter VIII
Cold Creek Montana, May 1984
A bright, spring, full moon shone down on the second week of May 1984. In rural communities across North America, farmers tended their newly planted crops. In the small Maine town of Tarker's Mills, Reverend Lester Lowe, awakens from an unholy nightmare where the entire congregation of his Baptist Church has turned into werewolves during his Homecoming Sunday sermon. He prays for forgiveness for having had such a superstitious dream. The morning of that Homecoming Sunday though, Reverend Lowe enters his church to find that Clyde Corliss, his longtime janitor, has been ripped apart all over the pulpit. The full moon brings no light to Tarker's Mills as its dark year continues.
Thousands of miles to the west, in the Rocky Mountain town of Cold Creek Montana, the night of the full moon brought about another dark event that was as fully steeped in superstition and legend as those in Maine.
In small building off of the main street, was Foreman's Funeral Parlour. It gleamed with white paint in the last rays of the day's sunshine as the sun's orb began to slip beneath the horizon. Down in the cellar preparation room, Tom Foreman the son of the owner and heir apparent was setting about his work. He was a pleasant young man who dreamed of becoming a professional bowler one day. He felt no animosity towards his father, who wanted him to go into "the family business". Indeed, he saw nothing wrong per se with the family business. However, if he had to choose between throwing a ball down an alley at a set of ten pins, and being around both dead bodies and weeping mourners all day…Well, he termed that a no-brainer. He closed the cover his bowling magazine, drank off the last of the Coke he'd been drinking and mentally set out his tasks for the evening.
The body of Sally Lawton had been brought back that afternoon from Missoula where it had been taken for a post-mortem, following her violent death in front of the Lion's Club earlier in the week. Tom would've attended her earlier, but he had met a friend over at the alley in Wolf Creek and they'd bowled a frame. He thought nothing of it at the time. This evening's task wasn't terribly hard and shouldn't take more than an hour, or so. He looked over at the wall and saw that the clothes the Lawton family had picked out for burial were hanging on the wall. Tom nonchalantly picked them up and walked over to the worktable where Sally Lawton's draped body lay.
He pulled back the sheet and sucked in his breath. Her eyes were open and seemed to be staring up at him. The fact the eyes were open wasn't really the issue. That happened from time to time and wasn't that unusual -not that it didn't give one near heart failure when you first saw it though. It was the fact that eyes seemed terribly vital and full of life. It was like…they were watching him. Tom shook his head as if to rid it of such thoughts. He'd lost any nervousness about this workplace years ago, when he worked here part-time in high school. As his father said, it was their job and that was it. Over time, Tom found that the morbid nature of the work was something he no longer noticed. He even found himself laughing at new employees getting creeped out when handling the bodies and whatnot. Yet…He now found himself feeling that same sort of nervousness. He reached down and closed the eyes and turned to get the first item of clothing. He turned back and nearly screamed. The eyes were open again and still possessing that eerie lifelike appearance. Fuck, that is weird; he thought. After dressing the body, he'd have to go get some mortician's gum to seal them shut. It was supposed to be a closed casket service, but for some reason he did not want those eyes open. They seemed to be following him and he did NOT enjoy that at all. He swore he'd never mention this to anyone. After all, he razzed the new guys so much about them being nervous he knew he'd never hear the end of it if word got out about him feeling…scared? Yes, he admitted to himself, he felt scared down here.
Suddenly deciding that he wanted to finish the night's job and get out of here as soon as possible, Tom hurried through his work. It was perhaps his haste to finish, or maybe simply he was so freaked out by the open eyes of Mrs. Lawton –who he'd spoken with hundreds of times over the years- that he failed to notice something that otherwise would've grabbed his attention. The wounds on her throat that had been the ones causing her death…were no longer visible.
Tom finally finished dressing Sally Lawton and turned back to look at the body –forcing himself to not look at her eyes. Goddamn, he thought, that is strange. She's been dead three days now, but the eyes look alive. And, they're so…deep. You could just stare into them forever, Tom thought to himself. He placed his hand to his own eyes to block out Sally's and looked at the rest of her face. Again, he noted how strange it was. Her face didn't look at all like a body three days cold. In fact, she didn't look dead at all. She looked like she was about to wake up and sit up. For some reason, Tom felt a shiver at that thought. He decided that her appearance would at least mean he wouldn't have to use any make-up on the face. (His father wanted to do that even on closed casket services because sometimes the family wanted to have a last look, and his dad felt they deserved a good one.) He decided that all he would have to do was use some gum (a lot of it) on the eyes and then just place the body into the casket.
He turned to cross the room, to go to the supply cabinet, but then paused. He decided he didn't like the face staring at him like that, and covered the body again with the sheet. Tom crossed the room and got the jar of mortician's gum from the shelf. He turned back and his breath caught in his throat.
Sally's hand and fallen down from below the sheet. Tom took a breath. He knew that rigor mortis had left the body by now, so this could happen. He still didn't like it one tiny bit. Tom mentally decided that he was going to stop and get a few beers on the way home to try and wind down from what should have been a quiet night.
That was when Sally's fingers began to move.
Tom screamed a horrid cry as her fingers began to dance spasmodically in the air. The sheet began to tremble as the body beneath it started to move.
"Oh my Christ…Am I seeing this?" Tom wailed to nobody in particular.
"Joe?" A voice sounding like broken crockery sounded from beneath the sheet. "Joe? Where are you darling?"
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…" Tom began numbly. His mind had stopped working. He was too transfixed to run, even though his back was to the ajar door, or to do anything other than mumble a passage of scripture he'd been taught in Sunday School years before.
That was when two things happened. The lights went out and an immensely strong blow hit Tom on the head, collapsing him to the floor like a marionette whose strings were cut.
Owen stepped out from behind Tom's fallen body and regarded the figure sitting up on the table. He cast a glance down at the floor. He hoped he'd done that right. He'd been attempting to hit the man with enough force to render him instantly unconscious, but without causing any permanent damage.
"Abby?" He called urgently. They had hoped to arrive before Mrs. Lawton arose, but no luck. Owen pulled on a pair of thick work gloves from his pocket and pulled out a silver chain from a pouch he wore. As she was awake, it was now time for Plan B.
There was a whoosh of air and Abby stood beside him. She regarded Mrs. Lawton sadly. On the table, the newly risen vampire pulled the sheet down from its face, revealing dark, hypnotic eyes and sharp white teeth. She caught sight of Owen and Abby, and hissed angrily as she sensed instantly that they were not prey but others of her own kind.
"Where's Joe?" She growled in that harsh voice.
"He's not here, Mrs. Lawton." Abby said plainly. "It's just us…and we're here to help you."
Sally Lawton just laughed hungrily and stepped off the table towards the sprawled figure of Tom Foreman, who was still lying on the floor. She obviously didn't regard the two youthful vampires as a threat, or was simply too caught up in the hunger and presence of prey to pay heed to them. It would be her first, last and only mistake as a vampire.
Owen shot around her, holding the silver chain in his hands that were protected by work gloves. He wrapped the chain around Sally's neck and pulled back. She screamed as the silver dug in and burned her throat. She tried to fight, but she'd not yet fed while Owen had fed right before that dawn. As well, in her life she was a woman past the age of sixty while Owen's before his turning had been a fit and strong teenager. As a result he was far stronger and she was no match for him. Owen effortlessly pulled her back towards the mortician's table.
Abby stepped forward and pulled something from the waistband of her jeans. It was a wooden stake. She took it in her right hand and came upon the struggling vampire.
"I am truly sorry, Mrs. Lawton, about this. I'm sorry my uncle did this to you and I'm sorry we have to do this to you now. Please believe us though, this is for the best." Abby intoned softly. She stepped forward and brought the stake down swiftly into Sally's chest.
Blood exploded from the chest. Sally Lawton let out a scream that seemed to shake the walls of the workroom before settling back down on the table. Owen noted that her face now resembled the pictures he'd seen of her in some of his grandfather's albums of local events. He sighed heavily.
"Is it over?" He asked.
"Yeah" Abby replied simply.
"Shouldn't we do…I don't know…Something more?"
Abby shook her head in the negative. "We could, but it'd look funny afterwards." She gestured towards Tom's prostrate form. "You take him outside. I'll get started here, and then a check to make sure there's nobody else in the building."
Owen complied as Abby did her check. She found there was no other living being in the building. She returned to the work room and saw that Owen had returned.
"I'll handle the gas line. Can you do the light cord?"
"No problem." Owen replied.
Owen walked over to the cord that connected a standing work lamp to a wall socket. He bent down and began to pick at the cord with one of his fingernails –that now had shaped itself into a sharp looking talon. In no time, he'd reached and exposed bare electrical wires. He knew that if the power was still working, the line would spark easily.
In the meantime, Abby walked over to where the hot water tank was connected to the natural gas line. She found the main pipe and pressed hard with her immensely strong hands. Soon an ominous hissing sound emanated from the pipe and an overpowering odour of natural gas began to fill the room. She stood up from where she'd been crouched and looked over at Owen.
"Let's go." She said simply.
The two vampires swiftly went upstairs, shutting the work room door after them. They stopped by the back door, where Tom lay, still –mercifully- out cold. Owen picked him up effortlessly in a fireman's carry. He smiled as he and Abby stepped out the door. She noticed it as they shut the door behind them.
"What?" She asked as she noted his smile.
"I feel like Johnny Gage."
"He was a character from my favourite show when I was younger, Emergency. He was a fireman. I watched that show every Saturday night." Owen said as he recalled simpler times. Abby smiled back as he explained it.
The two vampires stood in the shadows for about five or ten minutes, checking their watches periodically. Finally Abby nodded. "OK. That should be enough time."
"Do you want me to go to the pole?"
"No. Just put him in the parking lot. I think that twenty feet from the door should be fine."
"Gotcha" Owen replied.
Abby flew up to a nearby pole that provided electricity to the funeral home. Opening a circuit box, she flipped back the handle she'd thrown earlier, restoring electricity to the funeral home. In the work room, the light cord sparked into the room saturated with natural gas. The Foreman Funeral Parlour exploded in a ball of fire.
"How is he?" Bill Gillespie asked, as he gestured towards Tom Foreman. The funeral worker and aspiring professional bowler was sitting on the running board of a fire engine with a glassy look on his face as an ambulance attendant carried out a secondary examination of him. Gillespie's question was aimed at the forty-ish man who'd just stepped away from Tom.
"Concussion and what appears to be shock." Doctor John Cody replied. "We'll take him to the clinic and keep him overnight for observation, but he should be fine in a day or two."
"That's good to hear." Gillespie said. "Hi Tom" Gillespie said to the man who'd been found sprawled unconscious in front of the now blazing funeral home. "Can you tell me what happened?" He asked as he pulled his police notebook from his hip pocket.
Tom pulled the blanket he had around his shoulders even tighter. "I…I don't know. I was down in the work room, getting Mrs. Lawton ready for her service. And then…And then I woke up with Doctor Cody shining a light in my eyes."
"You don't remember anything?"
"No" Tom said sadly. He hoped they'd believe him. He couldn't tell them. How could he? They'd never believe him –the open eyes, the moving hand…the voice. He didn't believe it himself.
"You were lucky there, Tom." A new voice spoke. Tom looked up and saw Oscar Alfredson looking at him with concern…and something else. "I mean, the firemen said that the explosion and fire seemed to be caused by a leaking gas line."
"That's right. You know…I read that when people breathe in gas like that it can have a weird effect. It can cause them to imagine things. They see things that aren't there at all…Just figments of their imagination." Oscar said with a fatherly smile and pat on the shoulder with nodding his head in the affirmative with a barely noticeable movement.
"Yeah" Tom said as he absorbed what Oscar said and his face brightened. "That must be it. I must have been breathing the gas down there and come up here." He looked back at the fire. "I guess I got up just in time."
"That appears to be the case. I'll bet you got your concussion when the explosion happened."
"How else could it have happened?" Tom said with a look of immense relief on his face. "I mean, I don't remember anything. But, what else could it have been?" He asked as he looked at Chief Gillespie.
Gillespie looked between Tom and Oscar, with a puzzled expression. He could tell from the spot that the blow to Tom's head was definitely not self-inflicted. Plus, he'd been definitely out cold when they found him. So, Gillespie didn't believe Tom was lying about anything. And Oscar was with him with the explosion happened. He'd dropped by the office an hour before, and the two had gone to get dinner at the local café. They were having their dessert when the explosion took place and had gone over together. Gillespie looked at the muscular, older rancher.
"Well, Oscar, I think I'm going to be tied up here for a few more hours. Do you want to stick around, or head on home?"
"I guess I'll head home."
"I'll walk you to your truck." Gillespie said as the two walked up the street to where Oscar's pick-up truck was parked. Gillespie noted a heavy, old-fashioned steamer trunk sitting on the flatbed.
"That's a nice, solid looking trunk you have there."
"Oh, thanks…I, ah, was going to see about replacing a hinge and brought it along so I could compare them at the hardware store. But, I forgot when we went to the café."
"Oh. Still…That's a nice looking trunk. They don't make them like that anymore.
"They sure don't."
"That a family heirloom, or something?"
"It is now." Oscar said with a sly smile as he got into the cab and started the engine.
"Ok Joe…The service will be the day after tomorrow, with the urn then...Yes, you're right. The important thing is the Foreman boy wasn't badly hurt. No…Sally definitely wouldn't have wanted that. Ok Joe…I'll call you tomorrow. Good night." Oscar said as he hung up the phone and turned to face his grandchildren who were seated on the couch in the living room.
"Well, they found what was left of Sally's body. There was almost nothing left."
"Can they tell what happened?" Owen asked.
"No" His grandfather shook his head. "The body was too badly burned. It was practically cremated already. They thought that any other damage was done with the ceiling collapsed."
"Is Mr. Lawton alright?" Abby asked sadly.
"He's a little upset, since they can't see Sally one last time like they planned before the funeral. Not to mention, they'd planned on having a casket. But, he said that the most important thing is that Tom Foreman wasn't badly hurt. He said that Sally would have been glad that nobody was hurt and he feels that way too. So…You two did very well. You made sure nobody was badly hurt." Oscar said. He felt relief at the outcome and glad he'd been able to play his part. Owen and Abby, that morning, had placed the trunk in the bed of the truck and gone to sleep at dawn inside of it. Oscar had driven them into town that afternoon. The plan had been for them to get to the funeral home before Sally awoke -with Owen bringing the silver chain in case of something going wrong. They'd briefed Oscar ahead of time on their plan to -reluctantly- destroy the building after making sure to get everyone out. Thus, Oscar had been ready to come up with his little talk to Tom.
"I was worried about the fire, but it was the only way to destroy the body for sure and to cover up what we did."
"How come, well, she rose like that?" Owen asked.
"I'm not sure. I think it was because she'd been, well, dead for a few days. I think that it takes a time for her mind to start working again. She was dangerous, Owen. Her instincts, I'm sure, would have drawn her back to her home. She'd have preyed on her own family. I've seen vampires who are turned like in that manner do that: her children…her grandchildren…They'd have been just blood to her." Abby said.
"I can't imagine what it would have been like, to wake up like she did." Owen murmured as he lifted his mug of blood to his mouth. Abby was insistent that he keep overfeeding until he adjusted to his new state –and to definitely make sure he had a supply on hand when interacting with Oscar. Abby just smiled and reached over across the sofa and took her hand in his and smiled at him.
Oscar looked at his grandchildren –one by blood, one by choice, but both by love- and smiled to himself. Abby's uncle had caused turmoil in the town and cost his best friend his wife. Oscar would always feel sorrow at that. However, he couldn't help but be thankful that his family was intact. His grandson now was…different…but was still his grandson. Love knew no bounds. His family, though unusual, was still his family.
This is a funny scene between Oscar and Owen I thought of, but couldn't find a way to work it in smoothly anywhere. You, the readers, can insert it anywhere you like, anytime after Chapter VII. I thought that after learning that Owen and Abby now regard themselves as being married, Oscar would sit Owen down to try and impart some (grand)fatherly wisdom. LOL Or, in other words, I thought it would be funny if Owen and Oscar had a guy talk. :-D
"And another thing, Owen" Oscar said as he sipped at his coffee. "When you ask her if there's something wrong, and she says there isn't, what do you do?"
"Well…nothing." Owen said as he took a drink of O-Positive from his mug. "There's nothing wrong."
"Wrong!" His grandfather said. "If a girl tells you there's nothing wrong, you can bet anything you want there IS something wrong. And if we don't pick up on that, there'll be even more wrong…with us!"
"Why don't they just tell us?" Owen asked is a wondrous voice. After telling his grandfather that his blood union with Abby, when she'd turned him, meant they now regarded themselves as husband and wife, Oscar had taken Owen aside to impart his words of experience. As Oscar put it, he'd had more than forty years of happily married living…and had lived to tell about. As a result, it was his duty to pass his hard won experience on to Owen.
"HA! Oh, my boy…You're so naïve. For them to tell us what's wrong, it would make it too easy for us. We're expected to guess."
"How're we expected to guess?"
"How should I know? I could never figure it out with your grandmother. I think we're expected to read signs somehow."
"But…What if she doesn't give any signs?"
"She will. We won't know what they are, or have a clue what to look for, but she will. Are you getting all this?"
Owen made a notation on the notepad he had on the table. "Yup"
"Good. What's next? Oh yes, this is VERY important. If you're ever asked how an outfit looks on her, what do you say?"
"That she looks beautiful!"
"That's right…But, and here's the crucial part, timing is important."
"Yes! If you wait too long, she'll think you're trying to come up with an answer to sugarcoat something. If you answer too fast, she'll think you're not listening. You take two seconds, NEVER any longer, to give your answer." Oscar said solemnly as Owen wrote notes furiously.
"You miss Grandma a lot, don't you?" Owen said quietly. His grandfather just put his hand on his shoulder.
"More than you can ever know. Owen, I think you can be grateful that it's something you or Abby will never have to experience for yourself." Oscar said sadly as he recalled his late wife.
Here are some scenes and lines I have planned for future stories. I guess they can be considered spoilers. They're not in any particular order.
"Bill Gillespie was just here. He got a call today from the police down in New Mexico. Owen…I have some very bad news for you." Oscar said in a shaky voice.
Abby stopped and looked ahead at Marshall Hall. There were differences to be sure. There were electricity and phone lines going in and out. The building itself had been added to and renovated over the generations. But, she could still easily tell it was the place of her birth.
Abby sank to her knees as she looked at the headstone before her. It was faded with time and the elements, but the inscription was still visible.
Owen put his hand gently on his shoulder as Abby took a deep, heaving breath. For the first time, Owen wondered if their trip here was a mistake.
"I'm Owen. This is Abby." Owen said to the dark-haired vampire.
He nodded to them in acknowledgement. "Owen... Abbeeeyyyy" He intoned.
Owen stared at the blonde girl in amazement. She wasn't a dead ringer for Abby. It wasn't like some movie where the same actor played lookalike ancestors or descendants, but he could easily tell that this girl was related to Abby.
"Eric, Magister, I think that we owe these two something in way of a debt of gratitude." Godric said simply as he rolled up his shirtsleeves.
"You said your name was Abby?"
"I'm Melinda. Melinda Marshall." The blonde woman with a distinctive New York accent said. "This is my boyfriend, Damon Macready." She said, gesturing to a young man with dark hair and intense looking eyes that were offset by a goofy grin. "Damon", she said to the young man, "this is my cousin Abby."
"Wow sweetheart, I can see the family resemblance! Why that just knocks me for a loop!" Damon said with a swing of his arm to emphasize his words and he broke into a guffawing chuckle.