Nephilim: Genesis Of Evil - novelonlinefull.com
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He sidestepped a gnarled tree root in the path, laughing that he almost tripped on it. He walked on for a bit before coming to an abrupt halt. "What's that smell?"
As if an answer to the question, Ed Miller emerged from behind a huge evergreen tree. He looked more unkempt than a depression era b.u.m. His wrinkled shirt stuck to him like a wetsuit and his scraggly hair was plastered to his forehead. His hands dangled loosely at his sides, motionless.
Samuel put a hand on his chest, startled. "Geez, Ed. You scared me half to death." He huffed, feeling the staccato thump of his heart.
Ed stared at him, his dark eyes void of life. His face was as pale as aspen bark.
"Where's your gear?" Samuel held up his own tackle box and fishing pole to indicate what he meant.
Ed continued to stare, saying nothing.
"You all right, buddy?" Samuel could hear the uneasy edge that had crept into his voice.
The foul smell increased. Samuel crinkled his nose and realized the odor was coming from Ed.
"You don't look so good," Samuel said. Or smell so good, either, he neglected to say.
"Are you him?" Ed spoke in a monotone.
"Him who?" Samuel asked, puzzled.
"The one with water."
Samuel placed his hands on his hips. "What the h.e.l.l are you talking about?"
Ed raised a hand slowly, the one with the missing index finger, and pointed with the other three at him. A horrible silence stretched out between them. "It is time," Ed finally said. He sounded unreal to Samuel, in a way he would never be able to describe.
"Time for what?" He met Ed's hollow gaze. Fear gnawed at his guts, but he wasn't sure why. He just knew he was afraid. Deeply, intensely afraid.
"I call you." Ed's eyes narrowed in menace. It was like looking into a bottomless well. Samuel felt a tingling that comes with lightheadedness.
"Yes." Even as Samuel answered, his voice seemed to come from someone else. It was him talking, and yet it wasn't. What is happening? he thought from somewhere deep inside his being. He was quickly losing touch with himself as he continued to stare into Ed's blank eyes.
"Our time is now."
"Yes." Samuel stared.
"Come." Ed's arm swung slowly, pointing up the path.
In that last place of his own sanity, he tried to scream. But the sound was lost in Ed's hypnotic gaze.
The needles on the pine trees around Taylor Crossing were brittle, and the aspen leaves were mute in the stillness. But far up a hillside, the sounds of teen-age singing poured out from an abandoned mine shack, breaking the tranquility of the early afternoon.
In the cool shadows inside the dilapidated building, Nicholas D'Angelo sat on the dirt floor and belted out a song. His fingers snapped a steady rhythm and he rocked his head to the beat. Mick sat cross-legged in a corner across from him, watching him sing. His drug-induced haze was easing with each pa.s.sing minute, and he suddenly recognized the tune. "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B".
"The flaming guitar is playing with him," Nicholas sang. He had a wonderful tenor voice and he was perfectly in key. Only he was slaughtering the words.
"It's ba.s.s and guitar, you moron," Mick said, flinging a rock at him. "Man, I hate it when people can't get the words to songs right." He paused reflectively. "And why the h.e.l.l are you singing that stupid song? It must be a hundred years old."
"I dunno," Nicholas mumbled, rubbing his arm where the rock had hit. He pulled his Yankees baseball cap down over his curly black hair. When sober, he was a timid, reserved boy, his features somewhat delicate, but overall so average in appearance that he usually went unnoticed, just a studious teenager from affluent Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, who struggled against pimples and shyness.
"I think you toked up a little too much," Mick said, his mouth stretched into a toothy grin.
"No, I didn't," Nicholas said. "As a matter of fact, I'm coming down. You got any more?"
Mick stared at the pipe he held. "No, it's gone." He paused. "Boogie woogie bugle boy. Where'd you come up with that?"
"Heard it on TV," Nicholas shrugged. He couldn't help it if songs got stuck in his brain.
"Time Life presents 'Songs That Your Grandparents Listened To'," Mick intoned, sounding very much like the late night television commercials they'd all seen so many times.
They laughed for a moment, then lapsed into a bored silence.
"We need a jukebox out here," Nicholas said. Anything to take his mind off the morning he'd had. His stupid father. When that jerk got going, there was no stopping him. He fingered the lump on the back of his head where his father had walloped him with the frying pan. That ended breakfast and got Nicholas sent to his room for the morning. He didn't even know what he'd done to p.i.s.s his father off. "Or a piano like they had in the saloons. Can you imagine what it must've been like to live here in the old days?"
"Yeah, we wouldn't be smoking pot," Mick said pragmatically. "But we'd have whiskey. Plenty of it."
Nicholas had convinced his father to let him leave the cabin after lunch, and now he was relaxed and feeling good. He didn't care about much else at the moment, and that was the way he liked it.
Mick got to his feet and grimaced. "Ouch!"
"What's the matter?"
"I fell down going home last night." Mick explained what happened and the spooky feeling he'd had, ending by showing Nicholas his bandaged knee. "Doesn't hurt much," he said, going for the tough guy routine. "Probably needs st.i.tches, but I don't care."
"What'd your parents do?" Nicholas asked. In his world, getting caught for sneaking out would get him in big trouble. No way he'd be out here with a friend.
Mick looked at Nicholas like he was an imbecile. "I didn't tell them I snuck out, you moron, or I'd be grounded. I went out this morning before my mom saw me, and came back and said I'd tripped and cut my knee."
"Oh," Nicholas said. He still would've been in trouble. Just about everything he did set his father off. "You musta been pretty high, seeing stuff." He laughed nervously.
"Yeah, it was whacked."
"Man, it's hot today." Nicholas stretched his legs out. "Feels good." Mick noticed a couple of long bruises on Nicholas' leg, just below the frayed edge of his cut-off jeans. "So what'd you think you saw?" Nicholas asked.
"I didn't see anything," Mick said. "Just a shadow."
"Yeah, but it wasn't a shadow, not like this." He held one hand up to a strand of sunlight streaking through a crack in the wall and pointed to the dark outline on the ground with the other. "You can see that."
"Was it like that movie, Ghost, with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, where those things would come out of the street when they got that bad dude?"
"Sort of," Mick said, remembering how in the movie the bad guy died and was pulled into h.e.l.l by black shapeless specters. "Man, it's hard to describe. I don't even know if it was real or my mind just playing games with me."
"But it was cool, right?" Nicholas' expression was half awe, half fear.
"C'mon, let's get out of here." Mick kicked at Nicholas' leg.
"I'm bored. Let's find some of the other mines. There's supposed to be one called The Matchless Mine somewhere near here."
"What's wrong with this one?"
Mick looked at his surroundings. "Who would call their mine The Luckless Lady? What a dumb name. C'mon, let's try and find The Matchless Mine."
Nicholas got slowly to his feet and heaved a sigh. They stepped outside the shack and into the sunlight. "Can you imagine what this place was like before they decided to make Taylor Crossing a tourist trap?" Mick shrugged. Nicholas continued as they took off through the forest. "There were a bunch of saloons here, a bank and jail, a church, and a post office. And of course they had an undertaker. The towns would pop up wherever people found gold or silver, and then when someone found ore somewhere else, everybody would leave."
"I thought all they mined was gold."
Nicholas snorted. "Don't you know anything? They mined a lot of precious metals: mostly gold and silver, but also lead, copper, zinc, uranium, and tungsten."
"It's used to harden metal and for filaments in electric lights," Nicholas intoned like a professor, "only the tungsten was mined over near Gold Hill at the turn of the century, after Taylor Crossing had died out."
"You actually remember that stuff?"
"It's kinda fun to know," Nicholas mumbled. "I read about it in a book about Colorado ghost towns at the general store."
"No kidding." Mick's interest had waned. They soon came to a path and walked in silence for a bit.
"That's weird," Nicholas broke the silence.
"I don't hear anything." Nicholas stopped and listened.
Mick stopped as well. "Me neither."
Mick stared at Nicholas for a moment. "C'mon!" He grabbed Nicholas' arm. "Let's go this way." He left the path and sprinted through the trees.
"Wait up," Nicholas called after him. Something wasn't quite right, but he didn't want to get left behind. Mick disappeared over a rise.
"Hey!" Nicholas ran after him. With mounting alarm, he thrashed through the trees and burst into a clearing in the woods. He turned around, momentarily disoriented by the abrupt sunlight. The trees created a tall fence surrounding the open area. Most of the clearing was covered with dried gra.s.s, almost a foot high where it wasn't trampled down. Mick was standing nearby, staring at the ground. Nicholas moved forward slowly, noticing the center of the clearing. As he approached, he saw a blackened patch of dirt where the brush had completely burned away, leaving a scorched spot about two feet in diameter. He bent down, but there were no wood embers or ashes to indicate that a fire had been there. A smell like burning hair lingered.
Mick shook his head. "Campfire?"
"No fire would make a perfect circle like that."
Mick stuck a foot out and nudged at the dirt. "Ouch!" he yelped, pulling his foot away.
"What?" Nicholas jumped.
"The ground's frickin' hot!"
"Really?" Nicholas stooped down and swatted at the ground, receiving a burn for his efforts. He stuck his finger in his mouth, trying to suck the pain away. "Man, it's hot out here, but not this bad." He stepped back a few feet, lightheaded. A faint sulfur smell a.s.saulted his nostrils and the air around him seemed decayed. "You smell that?"
Mick's brow furrowed. "Yeah." He put a hand to his nose. "Man, I feel like I did the other night."
Nicholas felt a bead of sweat roll down his back. The heat was intense. He backed up again and stumbled over the uneven ground, landing on his rear. Terror gripped him. "You mean..." his voice trailed away.
"My skin's crawling."
"Geez, this place is creepy." Nicholas staggered to his feet. "Let's get out of here."
"Yeah," Mick said. Nicholas saw the fear in his eyes. They walked cautiously to the edge of the clearing.
"Hey!" Mick suddenly grabbed Nicholas' arm as he looked off into the trees. "I think someone's coming!"
Both boys ducked down behind the trees and watched, waiting. Nicholas fought an urge to run, but his curiosity overrode his fear. Later, he wished he would've turned and fled, forcing Mick to go with him. Maybe things would've been all right if he had.
The spirit that now shared Ed Miller's body drew strength from the malevolence that seeped from the depths of the earth. It also knew that its desires would soon be quenched.
It sensed the black forces in the air as well. They had come to this tiny glen in the mountains. They were waiting. And just as this spirit needed a host, so did the others. The spirit had prepared for this, using the fisherman as the first step in an otherworldly plan. It would set the evil tide in motion, beginning with the man with water. He had a role, the one with water. He was one of the earth elements, a key part in the releasing ceremony.
Ed's face was wet with sweat, but the spirit had no sense of the heat that bore down on them, or the beauty in the cloudless blue sky above. It only knew that its captive, the one with water, would soon be a host, the first of many.