Disclaimer: Usual stuff, characters don't belong to me and all that rot. Thought I would try my hand at a Halloween type story, what with it being around the corner. Rated T + because I'm just not sure where my muses are going with it. Each chapter after this one will have a quote from one of my favorite movies, can you name the quote and the movie for a little Halloween fun? Hope you enjoy and if you do….Please, Please review. (God, I'm so needy!) :)
Nigel dipped his head and tried to see through the sheets of rain that were pounding the windshield of Sydney's jeep. They had just finished a rewarding, yet exhausting relic hunt and had been on their way back home when the storm hit. As the hunt had led them to a small town in Salem, they had simply driven down, but now, on the way back, they could hardly see the road ahead due to the storm.
"Crap!" Sydney cursed and had slowed the jeep to a safer twenty miles an hour. "Did we miss the highway turn off?"
"I honestly don't know, Syd. I haven't seen a building or road sign for miles."
Nigel squinted through his window which was fogged up from the humidity and wiped his hand across it to get a better view, but there was none to be had. He simply couldn't make out anything definitive on either side of them. There weren't even any stop lights, just a long stretch of black top and what could be taken for trees on either side.
"This can't be the highway; we haven't seeN any other cars."
"We can't stay out in this, but I can't pull off either." She couldn't see even the sides of the road, so she had no idea if there was gravel, a ditch or a freaking drop off cliff on either side of them. "Maybe we should…"
A lightening bolt hit the road directly ahead of them, lighting up the interior of the car and the scenery around them for one blinding second. Nigel cried out, Sydney swore and swerved automatically, and then suddenly they were airborne.
The jeep bumped down a rough incline, tossed them back and forth against their seats, and then finally slammed into a large tree. The airbags deployed preventing either of them from going through the windshield, as a window shattered on the passenger side and a broken branch from the tree dropped down against it in protest. The occupants inside the battered jeep were unconscious and unaware of the rain that filtered in.
Sydney came around first and winced as she pushed away the remains of the airbag. She moaned and put a hand to her wrenched neck, then immediately reached for Nigel, who was slumped back against the seat.
"Nigel?" She shook him. "Nigel!"
He woke slowly and immediately groaned in discomfort. "What…Syd?" He put a hand to his head and felt something wet, then noticed the tree branch sticking in through the window. They'd crashed! They'd gone off the road. Christ! They could have been killed! He reached for Sydney's hand. "Are you okay?"
She nodded, squeezed his hand once before releasing him. "Just bumped and bruised."
"Likewise," he winced at the stickiness on his face. "And possibly bleeding."
Sydney switched on the interior dome light, in concern. "Where are you bleeding?"
"My head, I think."
Sydney released her seatbelt and leaned over him, noticing the gash along his temple. "Ouch. Do you have a handkerchief?"
"Yes." He started to reach into his pocket and winced. "I…I can't reach it, Syd. I'm pinned by the bloody tree."
Sydney tried to push the heavy branch out of Nigel's window but it wouldn't budge. "Okay, hang on." She unhooked his seatbelt and then bent forward, carefully as the dash had partially buckled when it hit the tree. "Don't move," she warned as she lay across his lap, reached between his legs and tried to pull the lever to release the seat. "It's stuck!"
"W…wait, Syd," he asked and tried to position his feet against the floorboards, without trapping her head. "Okay, try and pull it and I'll push." Sydney tugged and Nigel pressed his feet hard against the floor; the seat shot back and he cried out.
"What?" What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Nigel gritted his teeth and freed his arm from the branch. "Just…the tree took a chunk of my flesh with it."
"Oh, Nigel!" Sydney scowled at the deep scrapes across his torn shirt and into the pale flesh of his shoulder.
"It's okay, just stings." He focused on her again. "Are you sure you're not hurt?"
"Just my neck, probably from the impact." She sat back in her seat and tried to open her door, but it was also stuck. "I need leverage."
"Okay." Nigel helped her maneuver over the gearshift, then braced her on his lap as she kicked out at the driver's side door until it finally sprung open. "Thank God."
They crawled out on Sydney's side of the vehicle and into the pounding rain. Nigel stumbled to the back to release the hatch and grab their bags then joined Sydney at the side of the jeep as she inspected the damage.
"She's toast," Sydney sighed, pulled her cell phone out of her satchel and scowled. "Damn it, no signal."
Nigel tried his phone and had the same result, not even half a bar. He retrieved two torches for them out of his knapsack and handed one to Sydney. Where the hell were they? It wasn't like they were in bloody Africa or somewhere; this was the state of Massachusetts. Civilization had to be close, didn't it?
Sydney flashed her torch above them. "The road must be up there somewhere."
"Lovely." Nigel was already soaked through from the rain and an uphill climb over a slippery, muddy slope in a thunderstorm was not on his list of things to do today, or this year, really. "Well, we've no where to go but up, so…" He waved her forward and they started to climb.
It was slow going, between the rain, the darkness, the mud and both of their injuries, but finally that made it to the road. They used their lights to try and determine where to start walking, but it was difficult to say which way they had been headed. If they chose the wrong way they could be walking for miles back the way they had come, where they knew there was no shelter. They couldn't even see the jeep's skid marks against the road's wet blacktop.
"Let's go this way," Sydney decided and moved off to the left.
"Is that the way we were going?"
"I don't know, but we can't stay out here forever."
Nigel sighed and followed. He jumped a little when lightening streaked above them again. "Have you ever been hit by lightening?"
"You're not going to get hit by lightening, Nigel."
"We almost were hit by lightening, Sydney."
"The tires on the jeep would have grounded us. We would have been fine."
"Before or after the jeep exploded around us?"
"Just shut up and walk."
"I am walking." He stumbled and Sydney automatically reached out to steady him. "S…Sorry, Syd. My…equilibrium is off a little."
"Yeah," Sydney kept her hand firmly on his arm. "Mine too."
"Must have been the crash."
"Are you dizzy?"
"Me too," Nigel admitted, right before he dropped to one knee beside her.
"Nigel!" She crouched beside him, worried.
"I'm okay," he assured quietly and shook his head, trying to focus. "Just…"
Sydney held his head and flashed her light quickly in his eyes then away again. "You're pupils aren't constricting, Nigel. I think you have a concussion."
"Oh, well…there's that." With Sydney's help he managed to get to his feet, wondering how he had hit his head since the air bag had deployed. Perhaps on the side window? He couldn't remember. "I'm okay, the dizziness is passing. Sorry, Syd."
She released his arm. "Are you okay to keep going?"
"What choice do we have?"
She nodded grimly and they continued to walk again. It was so ridiculously dark and quiet, with only the sound of the constant clicking of the rain against the pavement and the occasional rumble of thunder overhead.
"This is always the part in the movie where you start hearing shuffling behind you…"
"No one is behind us, Nigel."
"No one, surely, but perhaps some dead some ones…"
"There are no zombies in the state of Massachusetts!"
"How do you know for sure? There were zombies, in New Orleans."
"That was different."
"How was it different?"
"The kids weren't…zombies; they were just in some kind of hyped up…trance."
"More like a spell, and speaking of spells you can't tell me there aren't any witches in Massachusetts, Sydney."
"Sure there are, and maybe one will fly by on her broomstick and give us a ride."
"That's a horribly clichéd view, Sydney. The Wiccan faith is…"
"Shut up, Nigel."
"I can't! I'm nervous and when I'm nervous I…"
"Babble. I know!" She glared at him. "But you're making me nervous and when I get nervous I hit things." She shined her light on him. "Or people."
Nigel flinched and the thought and tried to be quiet, but between his swimming head, throbbing shoulder and their predicament his silence lasted only about fifteen minutes. "May I say something?"
"Only if it doesn't involve witches, ghouls or werewolves."
Bloody hell, he hadn't considered wolves. Were there wild wolves in Massachusetts? He started walking backwards, shining his light behind them, along the road, the brush and the trees. The beam of his light caught a pair of red eyes looking at him from one of the trees.
"Sydney!" He backed up so fast he almost knocked her over.
"Nigel! What is your problem?"
"E….Eyes. I saw…red eyes…"
"It's probably just an animal, a dog or something…"
"In a tree?" he demanded, his voice far higher than normal.
"An owl maybe?"
"With red eyes?"
Sydney sighed and continued walking. "You're letting your imagination get away from you."
"You were the one who mentioned bloody werewolves!"
"You're not going to have to worry about a wolf if I tear your throat out, Nigel!"
Nigel halted and stared at her appalled she would threaten something so vicious. "Sydney!"
Sydney winced and turned back and her gaze softened. "I'm sorry." She was cold, wet, frustrated and had a pounding head. "I am, Nigel."
He nodded and stepped closer, he knew Sydney would never hurt him. "I…I'm sorry too, Syd. I'm just worried."
"I know." She squeezed his shoulder. "Come on. Like you said, this isn't a third world country, civilization has to be around the corner."
He nodded and they continued to walk, this time in silence, both too miserable and, perhaps too worried, to discuss what would happen if they didn't find shelter. A sudden clap of thunder caused Nigel to shriek and almost leap into Sydney's arms in fright.
She glared at him and shoved him off.
At some point the rain eased to a fine mist, which, if possible, seemed to drench them even more, permeating their very bones and causing them to shiver. They tried their phones several times, but could not get a signal.
Finally, wet, miserable, aching and tired Sydney spotted lights in the distance.
"What? Where?" Nigel asked and shined his light around in the direction she had turned but saw nothing.
Again they searched but the sky around them was dark once more.
"Are you sure it wasn't lightening?"
"I…I thought I saw…" Suddenly a flash of lightening lit the sky above where they were looking and highlighted what looked like a turn of the century home, high on a hill and far away from the road. "There! A house!" She grabbed him and started walking faster.
"How…how do we get to it, Syd?"
"Look for a driveway or a r…road or some….There!" She spotted a wide narrow drive, almost hidden by the trees. "Thank God! Maybe they have a p…phone. Come on."
Encouraged by the idea of getting out of the rain and the cold evening air they hurried up a gravel path that was ridiculously dark due to the cover of the trees that boarded it. They had to keep their torches shinning ahead so they could see where they were going, but the advantage was that the rain seemed to filter away, unable to get through the dense brush above.
Finally, they reached a clearing, just as the sky lit up once more, displaying an ominous looking house that would have been at home in any Alfred Hitchcock movie. Two eighteenth century turrets towered well into the night sky on either side of the dark antiquated mansion. Long stone steps led up to the front doors, protected by stone gargoyles at the very top. Only one light shone in the third level, right corner window, all of the other windows were dark. In the driveway was a long black hearse, an actual hearse.
"I'm n…not going in there," Nigel refused, immediately intimidated, and started to turn back towards the path.
"We have to."
"Nigel! It's just a h…house!"
"And Norman Bates was just a b…bloody innkeeper."
Sydney grabbed his arm and pulled him across the circular gravel driveway and up the grey stone steps to two massive front doors. A set of horned skulls sat in the middle of each door, with a ring through its gaping jaws and hollowed eye sockets daring you to knock.
"You've g…got to be k…kidding."
Sydney kept her grip on Nigel and pulled the ring of the door knocker, letting it rap twice against the heavy, antique wood.
"Oh well, no one h…home. Let's go try the n….next house, shall we?"
Sydney yanked him back by the collar, just as the door creaked open and a ridiculously tall and stiff man in a painfully tailored black, butler suit looked down his nose at them. He held a lit candle in a vintage brass candlestick, with long, strangely extended fingers curled through an ornate filigree loop.
"Really?" Nigel asked and again tried to leave.
"Hi, my name's S…Sydney and this…" She pulled him towards her. "Is Nigel. We went off the r…road a ways back and w…were hoping to use your p…phone?"
"We do not have a telephone," the man advised with obvious distain.
"Oh, well, s…sorry to bother you then."
"Stop it!" Sydney slapped her hand on Nigel's arm and squeezed, hard. She managed a smile for the looming gothic man in the door. "Look, we went off the road and hit a t…tree, my friend is hurt and we…we've been w….walking in the rain for a very long t…time." She grimaced, for her teeth were chattering so badly she could hardly take. "C…Could we just come in for f…five minutes so I can make sure neither of us is…is b…bleeding to death?"
"You are injured?" The butler stepped forward, filling the doorway as he leaned down and used the candle to examine them more closely with dark, almost black eyes. "Which of you is bleeding?"
The butler studied Nigel's pale, shivering form, the blood that trickled from the gash in his forehead and the ripped wound in his shoulder. His face became impassive again as he straightened. "You should go."
"You should go." He started to close the door, but Sydney pushed her foot in over the seam, Nigel's well being was more important to her than some uptight man-servant and she was not in the mood for manners.
"We're not l…leaving here until I can c…check out my…friend!"
"Dashwood! Let them inside."
The servant stiffened, even more, if that was possible, hesitated for only the barest of seconds and then stepped aside to allow them entry. "Do come in."
"T…thanks," Sydney stepped over the threshold and pulled Nigel in with her.