Disclaimer: The Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea characters are not mine, just borrowed for this story.
Reviews are always welcome.
Murder at Midnight
The Dodge truck navigated the winding road through the gnarled trees up to the house. It was the perfect dreary Halloween night and Riley couldn't have planned it better if he tried. The wind started to pick up and scatter the dried leaves across the porch and the rain clouds that had threatened misery all day, cooperated by shedding their load to complete the haunting picture.
Every Halloween Riley had fallen victim to one of Kowalski's elaborate pranks. The man was the undisputed king of All Hallows Eve but this year, this year was going to be different. Stu hadn't been the only recipient of Ski's mayhem over the years and Patterson was convinced rather easily to take part in this scheme. But all great cappers require a team and after some stiff negotiations and the promise of self-imposed slavery, Riley had managed to not only convince Commander Morton to grant all involved the weekend off but to get Lieutenant O'Brien to participate in the night's activities.
O'Brien had spent the week talking up the old farm house that he just inherited from his grandparents. It was a gorgeous house surrounded by scenic steams, forest, and large fields running the length of the property behind the house. It was the kind of place that would be featured in a great homes magazine except for the fact that it was supposed to be haunted. The twelve murders that occurred there at the turn of the last century kind of killed the picturesque quality of the place.
Patterson, Riley and Kowalski agreed to do the young Lieutenant a favor and make the trip up to the house to help get things ready for the movers that were coming early next week. O'Brien decided to try and sell the place but was forced to stay and take care of a few projects at the last minute. The guys volunteered to go up and pack up the family heirlooms and tidy the place up before the relater started showing the property next weekend.
"It's really coming down out there," said Patterson, shaking the excess water off of his coat. He dropped the duffle bags on the bench by the door.
"Looks like Riley found the breaker," stated Ski as the lights flickered a few times before staying on and wrapping the formerly dark house in a warm comforting glow. "You want me to take the stuff upstairs to our rooms?"
"That's alright Ski, I got it. Why don't you take the cooler into the kitchen and unpack the food."
Kowlaski nodded and headed to the kitchen. Patterson kicked off his shoes, grabbed their overnight bags and headed upstairs. At the top of the stairs Pat pushed the first door open and threw Ski's bag by the bed. Moving down the hall he picked the next room for himself and the next for Riley. Counting the forth door Pat turned the knob and slid in silently.
"How's it coming Sir?"
"You tell me Patterson. How does it look?" asked O'Brien as he turned from the mirror to show off his handy work.
"We're lucky you're a better officer than a make-up artist but it should do the trick."
O'Brien smiled. "And he still has no idea?"
"Doesn't seem like it. I think this just might work."
"Alright I'll be down in an hour to make my ghostly appearance." O'Brien waved his hand dismissively and Pat made his way out of the room and back down to the main floor.
The trio gathered in the parlor and listened to the rain pour down. It was too late to start their task and they had decided to relax for the evening and get an early start tomorrow.
"Since we're staying in a haunted house..." started Kowalski.
"We don't know that it's haunted," interjected Patterson.
"Twelve murders, oh she's haunted Pat," added Riley.
"Like I was saying, we should take advantage of our surroundings and tell a few ghost stories. Unless you're too scared from last year Riley."
"Do your worst Ski. You're not going to get me this year." Riley crossed his arms to emphasize his smug smile.
Kowalski chuckled. "He thinks I'm not going to get him this year."
Patterson just gave a coy smile and waited for Ski to start his tale of intrigue.
The story had just reached its electrifying climax when the lights flickered out and a shadowy figure appeared behind Kowalski's chair. Riley sat at the edge of his seat waiting for all his scheming to pay off. He definitely got the startled reaction he was aiming for but it unfortunately didn't end there.
Kowalski jumped at the sudden hand that gripped his shoulder and toppled from his chair. A trembling hand went to his pocket and he pulled out his service pistol and aimed it at the grotesque looking being that vaguely resembled O'Brien. Without waiting for the supernatural being's intent he fired off two rounds dropping the man.
The delightful grin that started to appear on Riley's face as the pay off for all of his scheming to scare Kowalski was coming to fruition quickly faded to utter horror as he watched the red dot slowly expand across O'Brien's chest. Patterson and Riley jumped to their feet at the sudden unforeseen action but were frozen with fear when the body of the Lieutenant crumpled to the floor. Ski clambered to his feet still pointing the gun at the now still body haloed in blood.
The eternity of silence was broken when Patterson found his legs and shuffled towards O'Brien. He placed two fingers on the injured man's neck and slowly shook his head. "He's dead."
"Wh-what?" stammered Riley. He turned to look at Ski who was still transfixed with the body before him. "It was a prank Ski; we were trying to scare you. Why do you even have a gun?"
"Well I think the prank went a little far Riley!" shouted Kowalski as he waved the gun to emphasise his point. "You spent all week talking about this place being haunted; I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a weapon just in case. With everything we've seen; the stories could have been true."
"What are we going to do?" asked Patterson.
"We're going to get rid of the body, that's what we're going to do!" instructed Kowalski finally breaking his trance.
Riley gasped. "What? We need a doctor. We should call Jamie maybe..."
"What's a doctor going to do? Tell us he's dead, we already know that. No, we need to get rid of the body. Pat go get a shovel."
Patterson looked between his fellow crewmen. Riley's jaw hit the floor at the wild suggestion. How did a harmless prank spiral so out of control that the suggestion to dispose of a body was being thrown out there like a standard solution to an everyday problem?
"We can't do that! No Ski, we have to call someone. We can't just bury him in the backyard and pretend this didn't happen," protested Stu.
"I'm not going down for this." Turning from facing Riley, Ski pointed the gun at Patterson. "Go get a shovel Pat; I'm not going to say it again."
"Alright Ski, just calm down," replied Pat as he slowly raised his hands to placate the man with the gun. Moving at a cautious pace he left the room in search of a shovel.
"We can't do this. If we call someone it will be alright. We can just explain that it was an accident." Riley couldn't bring himself to move. He knew the situation was bad but he foolishly held out hope that he was going to wake up any second; that Patterson was going to announce that they had just pulled up at the house and everyone was going to be alright. His desperate hope was crushed as Patterson entered the parlor with two shovels.
Riley numbly followed Ski and Pat as they carried the limp and lifeless body of their former Lieutenant out of the house and across the yard. The howling wind rustled the brittle leaves and blew them into the ever deepening hole that was being dug in front of Stu.
"Your turn," said Kowalski was he pressed the shovel into Riley's cold hands. Stu robotically took the shovel and his place in the shallow grave. He wasn't sure how long he had been digging but he never took his eyes off the body resting against the tree.
He only stopped his task when Patterson placed a hand on his shoulder. Riley could see the same fear and hesitation that he felt in Pat's gentle eyes but for some reason neither seemed capable of taking control of the horrific situation. To say things had gone too far was an understatement when the body hit the floor but standing there watching Ski unceremoniously dropping a former friend into a dark hole was the point where Riley crumpled to the ground.
"We can't do this Ski. It's wrong and O'Brian deserves better, we can't just leave him in an unmarked grave, having no one know what happened to him," pleaded Stu.
"Well Riley, you're either with us or against us because you and Pat are accessories to the fact and I'm not taking the fall for this, Pat's not taking the fall for this," snapped Ski.
"I can't do this Kowlaski!" stuttered Riley.
Ski aggressively move towards Riley and grabbed him by the arm. "Then you can join him!" Kowalski pushed the blond into the recently dug hole.
A gasp escaped Stu's lips as he collided with the body. A shriek of sheer terror echoed through the yard as a set of hands grabbed him from beneath. He struggle against the corpse but the cold fingers held tightly. Riley's frantic cries of dread were eclipsed by the growing laughter from above and below. Taking a deep breath the young crewman looked up at the pair standing at the edge of the grave; their faces were alight with laughter and O'Brien was laughing too.
"You're, you're not dead!" stammered the shaken young man. O'Brien just nodded through his fit of delight.
"Who's the king of Halloween?" asked Ski as he offered a hand to the two men in the grave.
"So you knew about my plan the whole time?" asked Riley as the group made their way back to the house.
"Come on Riley, you spent way too much time talking about how the house was haunted but still insisted that we help out O'Brien. Had to figure something was up, and then it was pretty easy to talk these guys into helping me by convincing you that they were still going along with your plan."
"You had me going, I'll give you that," assured Stu as they stood in front of the darkened farmhouse. "You were very convincing Sir. How did you manage to get the lights to flicker like that if you were in the parlor at the time?"
"I didn't get the lights to flicker," O'Brien confessed.
"But if you didn't ..." started Kowalski.
A flash of lightning tore through the sky and lit up the house briefly illuminating a ghostly apparition in the living room window.
"Did you just see that?" asked Kowalski.
"That's not part of your prank?" inquired Stu.
Ski just shook his head. "You know what Lieutenant; we'll go stay at a hotel tonight and come back in the morning to help out."
O'Brien turned to see what had spooked his coworkers. "What are you talking about?" When he turned around the trio had already scrambled into the truck and were speeding down the drive way.
A hand clamped down on O'Brien's shoulder. He glanced over at the sickly grey colored hand and tattered sleeve. "You look very hauntingly beautiful tonight."
"That's was too easy."
"Who's the king of Halloween?" asked O'Brien with a satisfied smirk.
"Long live the king," replied Ryan as the pair headed inside to remove their costumes.