• ERIC BUTLER

House of the Dark One: Donn, TX -1969 Part 2

The next installment in the tales of the Donn, TX Motel focuses on 4 travelers in the year 1969. This story is a bit longer than the 1951 tale so it may take a few weeks to share the whole thing. This is a mature series - you've been warned.




***


"I told you that was too soon," Harold Smite said with a huff.


He pulled the binoculars down and glared at the man to his left. Jim Brooks only shrugged before packing up his Remington Model 700.


"You wanted the car disabled," he said before spitting out a string of tobacco juice. "It's disabled. I'd rather not get any closer."


"Almost a mile from the damned target zone," Harold said through a clenched jaw. "You better hope this works...or we might not have a choice on how close we get."


***


"Jesus, it's hot," Cindy whined. She twirled her hair with her free hand and held it up and away from her neck.


"Sorry," Mary said.


Cindy glanced at her and forced a smile to her lips, "You didn't make it hot, silly."


Mary glanced at her before returning her attention to the blacktop they strolled on; neither willing to admit just why Mary was sorry. They should already be in Houston; some cute guys showing them around Rice to see the campus up close. Instead, they were sweating their asses off God knows where.


Cindy squeezed Mary's hand before pulling her closer to offer her a hug. After three steps, sobs began to wrack through Cindy's body. The women sank to the ground as she buried her face into Mary's shoulder, while her friend stroked her hair and offered soothing noises.


She let a few moments pass before speaking, "Cindy, sweetie, I know thinking a car might come along would be a blessing, but we are sitting in the middle of the only road."


Cindy pulled back, her eyes puffy and red but a smile split her face. "Yeah, that would suck."


Mary returned the smile, pulling her friend to her feet while she stood. They started to walk again, no longer holding hands. Cindy stepped off the blacktop to search for some shade from the occasional tree. On the opposite side, corn stalks swayed in the hot breeze.


"Shouldn't these be gone?" Mary called out as she studied the cornfields.


"Yeah, today is the last day of harvest...might do things differently here though," Cindy said without looking.


Mary nodded slowly. Cindy would know...her family owned most of the farmland in Motley County. A loud caw broke into her thoughts. She pulled up and stared at the largest crow she'd ever seen standing in the middle of the road.


"Cindy," she hissed in warning when her friend continued to move forward.


"Huh?" Cindy mumbled, glancing at Mary before following her eyes to spot the bird.


It hopped back and forth as if the blacktop was burning its feet in front of the remains of an indistinguishable animal. It paused, pecking down at the lump of meat before returning to its strange dance. Mary gasped in horror as the carcass's eye rested between the crow's beaks.


"Oh, gross," Cindy exclaimed stumbling back to hide behind Mary, sandwiching her right hand between both of her friends.


The crow turned its head, studying the two for a moment before clamping its beak shut. Gore squished from the eyeball and dripped to the blacktop. Cindy began to gag, moving her free hand to her mouth. Mary stepped back to stand even with her friend.


The crow's head twisted back and forth, its eye never leaving them. Maybe we should just head back. Mary glanced over her shoulder; a tiny groan slipped out. Five oversized crows formed a line to block the road back. Each bird kept one eye on the girls as they hopped forward in unison.


"What the fuck?" Cindy cried out when she followed Mary's line of sight.


Mary squeezed her hand and shushed her. The last thing they needed was to startle these creatures. She glanced at Cindy and tried to smile.


"Honey, we need to get out of the open," she whispered tugging her friend closer. "When I say go, we need to run to the corn. If we're lucky we get there unscathed and these things grow bored and leave."


She didn't want to give voice to what would happen if that many birds got a hold of them out here. Make that pile of roadkill look like a good time. The birds began to issue random cries as they grew closer. Now or never...


"Go."


The two girls sprang towards the corn. Cindy stumbled a moment, but Mary used new found strength to keep her on her feet as they ran towards cover. The crows let out their caws simultaneously, drowning out all sound, as they took to the sky. They blocked out the sun, plunging the girls into shadow.


Tears streamed down Mary's face as they sprinted closer to the corn. Please God...let me be fast enough this time. As they left the road, a cloud of dust rose around them. The birds' cries increased, reflecting their rage and frustration.


A wave of relief washed over Mary; almost there. She glanced back to offer Cindy encouragement but the words froze as the crows swooped down to seize her by the shoulders and lift her from the ground.


Mary tumbled to the ground as Cindy was ripped from her grip, her cries drowning out the crows' excitement. Mary rolled to the edge of the corn, horrified to watch her friend rise into the air but unable to tear her eyes away.


"Help," Cindy cried out before returning to the wordless howls of terror from before. Her legs flailed in the empty space, her body twisting and turning as the crows dragged her higher and higher.


A puff of dust pulled Mary's attention from her friend. The original crow studied her, blood still dripping from its beak. She reached back, her fingers curling around the flashlight sticking up from her back pocket.


"What do you want?" she asked her voice barely above a whisper.


The crow remained quiet while the cries of the others moved farther away. Mary knew she was running out of time. Batter's up, champ. She reared back, suddenly resting on her knees, as the crow sprang towards her.


Mary swung the flashlight, rewarded with a startled caw and a burst of feathers as it crushed into the bird's head. She crawled into the cornfield, struggling to her feet before running in the direction she last saw Cindy and the crows.

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