• ERIC BUTLER

House of the Dark One: Donn, TX -1969 Part 3

The next installment in the tales of the Donn, TX Motel focuses on 4 travelers in the year 1969. Part 3 has our 4 travelers separated - Jane and Frank at the car and Mary is trying to catch up to the crows who took her friend Cindy. This is a mature series - you've been warned.




***

"Do you hear that?" Jane said not expecting an answer.


Frank lay motionless, the shallow rise and fall of his chest the only evidence he was still alive. Checking the dashboard clock, she wondered if the girls might still be close enough to be heard. God, I hope not. Even with the doors wide open, the car was still an oven in the shade.


Jane slipped out and walked a few feet away from the car. Glancing back, she wondered if she should wake him. At least move him out of that hot box. She shuddered at the thought as it reminded her of the stories he told of the war. Shaking her head she forced her attention back towards the direction the girls went.


Holding her breath, she strained to pick up the noise again but there was nothing but the buzz of insects and the faraway cries of some crows. Sighing she turned back to the car.


"Well, Frank, gonna need ya to wake the fuck up," she said, walking back and kicking at the ground with each word.


They were supposed to be in Houston, having their honeymoon while the girls hung out on the campus. Her skin flushed in excitement as she imagined their lips pressed together as his hands slid over her smooth skin before slipping into her panties.


Jane sighed, shaking her head to break the fantasy. Damn it, Frank. He hadn't touched her since he returned home, at least not that way and it left her frustrated; frustrated and confused. She hurried to the driver's side and studied her husband.


The boy she knew growing up no longer existed. He liked to joke the heat over there melted that away, but she knew it was something worse. Jane saw it clearly anytime he accidentally made eye contact. Something haunted him, and it was always there. This trip was going to be the beginning of the process of healing him, at least that had been her hope. Fat chance now.


Jane froze. It wasn't the sudden quiet that unnerved her but the fact Frank's eyes were open and staring past her. Danger and raw emotion sparkled through his green eyes in a way she'd never seen before.


Frank swung his legs out slowly, his hands on the doorframe for balance. Jane began to shake but her head refused to turn. She kept her eyes on Frank, hopeful he'd be able to do something in his state.


"Jane, hon," he said in a way that might have sounded calm to anyone but her. The fear in his voice soaked into her being and she wondered if she could make her legs respond. When she did not move, he barked, "now."


With a jerk, she stumbled towards him as he stood by the car. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and offered a hug. She fought the urge to bury her face into his shoulder and turned to see what spooked him.


"God damn it," she growled, punching him in the side. There wasn't anything there. "You scared me half to death."


He winced at her blow but kept his arm around her. His eyes swept back and forth. His free arm rose, extending his finger towards the other side and the stalks that were swaying in the breeze.


"There's something there...watching us," he whispered. "Where are the girls?"


"They went ahead for help while you slept...you have a nasty head injury."


He fingered the bandage on his forehead before offering a nod. He closed the door after grabbing the keys and shuffling to the other side. He popped open the glove box and searched a moment before Jane explained where the flashlight was.


Frank held still a moment then sighed and flashed a smile, "That was good. I'm sure this is nothing. Just feel better if we were together. I'm okay to walk, and we need to catch up with them."


Jane stared at him; the smile was nothing more than to disarm her. After all these years, he was incapable of hiding his true thoughts. Well, except whatever happened over this last year...those thoughts were still in his head and eating him alive.


Frank began to shuffle away from the car, gaining more confidence with each step until he was marching. Jane let out a squeak of surprise as she realized he was leaving her behind with her thoughts. Rushing forward, she caught up and slipped next to him on the left. He reached over and guided her to the other side, slipping her hand into his, the entire time his eyes studying the corn.


"Did it follow me home?" Frank said so softly, Jane thought she imagined it at first until he repeated the words.


***


Mary rushed through the corn stalks. Cindy's cries grew fainter, but she couldn't be sure if it was due to distance, exhaustion, or shock. She rushed over the uneven ground, her breaths coming in large gasps. Sweat soaked through her t-shirt yet she wished she had long sleeves for added protection as the stalks whipped at her from each side.


A sudden scream of terror echoed through the field, bringing Mary to a halt. A hot, dusty breeze moved through the corn but the only thing she could hear was the pounding of her heart. She turned slowly, making a complete circle, as she searched for any sign of movement other than the gentle sway of the corn.


Mary ran the back of her hand against her forehead as sweat stung her eyes. She gasped when she noticed large smears of blood decorating the back of her hand. The liquid ran freely from a multitude of cuts on her arm, dripping from her fingertips to the parched soil. Another scream pulled Mary's attention away from her injuries. Worry about it later. She started forward, moving in the direction she believed the scream came from. Hold on Cindy, I'm coming.


The dry ground behind her shifted and quaked, soaking up the spilled blood. Moments later, a hand shoved upwards, breaking the surface.


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