• ERIC BUTLER

Donn, TX: House of the Dark One

Okay, so this is going to be a work in progress. I have a rough idea where I want this story to go, but as this first attempt will attest - stories have a life of their own. I planned on this being a short 500-word story; kind of an introduction to this world I'm building. Instead, I'm still writing and I'm not sure if the end to this part is close to done. So I am going to share the first 1000 words or so today and from there?...We will have to see.


I envision this as a series of shorter works collected in several volumes. You will read some here as I work on the feel and vibe I'm searching for before switching over to eBook and paperback editions.


As I said before, this is more in line with my first 2 books and will contain mature content. Does that mean every post will be mature? No, but I'm not looking to edit some parts to match it up to the less gruesome parts. Skip it if you are easily offended...

Somewhere in Texas, 1952...


"Jerry, pull over," Debbie said with a groan.


"Not again," he growled but came to a stop on the side of the road.


She fumbled with the handle as her stomach clenched. Sweat ran down her face, stinging her eyes. Debbie tumbled out as the door swung open. She crawled away from the car, the sand hot to the touch until she made it to the dying grass. Her stomach heaved as her fingers clenched at the ground.


The dry wind blew the stench back towards her forcing her stomach to heave once again. A sense of relief washed over her as nothing else came up. Jerry's hand rested on her shoulder. She patted it, thankful he was with her.


"Okay?"


She nodded; suddenly afraid speaking may cause another wave. His hands slipped under her arms, lifting her to her feet and holding on until she offered another nod. He stepped to the passenger door of the car. He returned to her with an open bottle. Debbie grabbed it, filling her mouth with the warm liquid before swishing it around and spitting it out.


"Thanks," she murmured, her stomach settling down.


"Maybe we should stop now," he suggested, pointing to the top of the rise. "I see a motel sign. We could get some sleep and hopefully, you'll feel better."


Debbie bit her bottom lip. She was anxious to get to her mother but the doctor did say she had a few weeks left. She glanced at Jerry and sighed. His worry was plain. Reaching to place her hand on his cheek, she offered him a grateful smile.


"Okay, honey," she said. "Some stationary rest might just do the trick."


He led her to the car and helped her in before hurrying to his side and pulling back on the lonely road.


***


"So do you think it's open?" Jerry asked as they pulled into the parking lot.


The motel was a simple one-story structure. He counted nine doors, but he was pretty sure only six or seven led to actual rooms. Only need one. He tapped the steering wheel, studying for any signs of life.


"Oh God," Debbie mumbled, her left hand coming up to cover her lips as her right gripped the handle.


Jerry sighed as his wife scrambled from the car and began vomiting again. Last time I agree to stop at just any roadside diner. He slid out and started around the car. Debbie held up her arm, waving him off.


"Okay... I'll go check if anyone is here," he called out as he hurried to the first door.


Jerry paused, his hand holding the doorknob. He stared at the sign in the small window to the side. The sign itself was dark black but it was the words that held his attention. Welcome weary traveler. Your journey nears its end. He studied the red letters a moment before shaking his head. God, I wish. They'd only been on the road a day, and he expected after this break, it would be another day before they arrived at Debbie's mother's house. That's when the fun really begins.


Jerry turned the knob and entered.


***


Debbie leaned against the car. The sun beat down on her, but she welcomed the distraction. At some point, she assumed her stomach would simply run out of contents. Hope it's soon. She studied the door Jerry left open, but couldn't make out anything past the frame. Debbie crossed her fingers. Please have clean sheets and running water. A cold shower was just what she needed.


A loud caw grabbed her attention and she glanced around. Three of the largest crows she'd ever seen stood on the arm of a scarecrow across the street. Debbie stood straight, shielding her eyes to see clearer. The crows hopped around the scarecrow, moving from arm to arm, occasionally resting on its head. They turned to stare at her, offering more cries as if calling her over.


The scarecrow stood on a pole that towered a few feet over the cornstalks that filled the field across the way. It wore all black, bits of graying hay sticking out at the collar and waist. A burlap sack covered the place its head would be, shiny black eyes sparkled in the sunlight. Are those onyx?


Debbie shuffled towards the road, pausing long enough to check both ways before continuing to the other side. The crows grew agitated, hopping up and down and crying at her approach. She paused, hesitant to leave the safety of the road. She stood on the shoulder and shielded her eyes once again.


The crows settled down, returning her stare. A chill ran through Debbie causing her to shiver. The largest crow jumped into the air, spread its wings, and floated to the ground. It landed in front of her and clawed at the ground. Dry laughter floated on the wind. Debbie's head snapped up, searching through the corn to find the owner. Her eyes fell on the scarecrow and froze.


Its head was turned, both dark eyes locked on her face. A wicked smile decorated the burlap skin as the laughter grew in volume. A sharp jab of pain tore through her leg, and she looked down with a gasp. Blood glistened on the crow's beak as it moved to peck at her once again. Her foot slammed out, connecting with the bird and sending black feathers into the air.


Debbie spun to run back to the car when an eighteen-wheeler rushed past, its horn blaring a warning. She stumbled back, losing her balance and tumbling to the hard-packed soil. Blinking against the dying sunlight, Debbie struggled to raise her hands as a shadow passed above her. The laughter began anew as the crow landed on her chest with a caw. A sob slipped from her lips as her blood dripped from the beast's beak.


...end of part 1


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