On Father's Day a group of teens hold a seance for laughs to summon the spirit of a father who never got revenge for the murder of his daughter... What could go wrong?
Father's Day by Shane Migliavacca
Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com
Produced by Daniel Wilder
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This section of the path scared Matt shitless, not that he’d admit it to anyone.... especially to Greg and Jenny; his two best friends, walking a little ways in front of him.
Last year there had been a stabbing. A few years before that a man’s body had been discovered face down in Pearce Creek, not that far from here.
Matt didn’t believe in curses or bad luck, but there was a feeling he got in his gut whenever he passed through the area.
He’d rather be at home playing video games today.
His parents were visiting Matt’s grandfather for Father’s day and he’d have the whole house to himself. Instead, here he was.
Matt blamed Jenny… specifically her tight blue jeans and nice smile.
The three of them had been friends for years. Matt was fairly certain that Jenny had a thing for Greg, but Greg was oblivious to it… but it was only a matter of time before he noticed.
Matt could feel his chance with Jenny slipping away if he didn’t speak up soon.
He winced as the two laughed about some joke.
“So, where the hell are we going?” Matt blurted out.
Greg looked back over his shoulder. “Don’t have a cow dude, we’re almost there.” Jenny laughed, making Matt feel a bit annoyed. He kicked a stone off the path, watching it shoot off into the grass. The three walked in silence for a few minutes, until Greg stopped them.
“And here we are.” He pointed towards the left side of the trail.
Matt’s gaze followed his friend’s gesture. There through the trees, the roof of a house could be seen. It’s tiled roof weathered from age and the elements.
“There?” Jenny asked.
“Yup!” Greg said proudly.
They followed him off the path, Pushing through some brush to get to the house. As they emerged into the house’s overgrown backyard, it’s ramshackle condition became more apparent.
“What a dump.” Jenny observed. “We’re not-”
Greg cut her off. “Sure as shit we are.”
“Why?” Asked Matt, wishing he’d stayed home.
“Because.” Greg answered as he walked up the steps to the back door. “Don’t you want to have some fun? Instead of jacking off to Saved By The Bell all day?”
“Har, Har.” Matt responded. He felt a bit of anger boil through from his friend’s consent prodding. He surprised himself when he flipped Greg off.
“I didn’t think you had it in you.” Somebody said, clapping. “Besides, I see you stroking it more to Power Rangers.” They turned to see Dave Stover standing by the side of the house. A girl dressed in black stepped out from behind him. Her short brown hair was slicked straight back, and a black choker encircled her neck.
“What are you doing here Stover?” Matt asked. There was something about that smug, shiteating grin that made Matt want to punch Stover’s teeth in.
Greg and Stover went way back. Why his friend would hang out with that ass was beyond Matt.
“He’s the reason we’re here.” Greg answered.
Matt sighed. “Great.”
Stover introduced the girl. “This is Ember. She's going to help us play a little game.”
They followed Stover into the house.
The back door opened easily. The smell of stale cat urine greeted them as they stepped into a bare kitchen.
Jenny whispered in Matt’s ear. “Ember? That’s bullshit. Her name’s Traci Hollis. She’s in my English Lit class.”
The two softly chuckled.
Stover took them down a musty hallway.
The plaster walls were chipped and marked with graffiti. Chunks of broken plaster crunched underfoot. Matt wondered who’d lived here. There was nothing left to mark their time here. The hallway opened up in a large room. At the room’s center was a large circle of candles. Strange symbols were written on the floor within the circle.
Matt felt strangely uneasy as he entered the room.
He didn’t believe in magic, but it didn’t mean you went messing around with the shit.
“What the hell?” Matt said. “I don’t think we should fuck around with this stuiped shit.”
“Relax man.” Greg reassured his friend. “Wait till you hear the story.”
“Let’s find out first.” Jenny added. “I want to find out what’s up.”
Damn it. Matt didn’t want to walk out with Jenny staying behind… partly because he’d look like a wimp and partly because he worried about her.
“Then, let’s get on with it.” Matt grumbled. “What have we got to do?”
Ember sat them around the circle all holding hands, with him and Stover on either side of Ember. Matt felt a little nervous and shy taking the girl’s pale hand. She smelled like sage, and her lips were black as midnight.
Staring into her eyes for a second, he forgot about Jenny.
Stover cleared his throat before starting. “Man got home from the war and bought this house for him and his pregnant wife. They wanted to start a future here.”
Greg interrupted. “Which war?”
“What?” Stover stammered.
Stover’s brow furrowed. “That one, a long time ago… in the ‘70’s.”
“Korea?” Jenny asked.
“No, that one from Rambo... ‘Nam.”
“Wasn’t that in the 80’s?” Greg said, unsure.
Frustrated, Stover grumbled. “Does it fucking matter?”
“Well, context.” Greg said. “Helps set the scene better man.”
“It was the fucking ‘70’s… okay? Can I get on with the story?”
Nobody said anything.
“So the dude and his wife bought this house. A couple years later they have a daughter. The three have a happy life for a bunch of years. Then the mom gets sick and dies.”
“Awww, that blows.” Jenny said.
Stover ignored her, continuing on with the story.
“The father was left to raise the girl by himself, and he did the best he could… got a second job and shit.” Stover leaned forward.
“Then one day, the father came home, worn out from a tough day. The daughter, fifteen at the time, told him to take a nap in his favorite chair.” Stover smiled. “Right over there.” Indicating a corner of the room.
“She wanted to surprise him, make him some dinner. So she decided to walk to the convenience store just down the path.”
“What?” Greg asked. “I don’t remember any store around here.”
Stover sighed. “The vacant lot on Rathburn… used to be a store there. They closed it because it was getting robbed too much.”
“Oh.” Greg nodded, mulling it over.
“Anyway, the father wakes up.” Stover continued. “He finds the house all dark. He calls for his daughter and there’s no answer.”
Jenny shifted nervously on the floor.
“Before he can go out to find her there’s a knock at the door. It’s the police. The cops ask if she’s there. The clerk at the shop called the cops after the girl was getting harassed by some boys. Well, days passed and there was no trace of the girl. The father grew desperate.”
Matt glanced at Ember, who had her eyes closed. Was she meditating?
“Finally one day, they found one of the girl’s shoes near the hangout of a bunch of boys… the ones that had been giving the girl a hard time that night. Trouble is, there’s no other evidence. The cops couldn’t do shit.”
Matt looked over at Jenny, who was enjoying the story. His mind wandered as he briefly thought of Jenny, Ember and him all alone together. The thought was a little too much for his hormones. He could feel things stirring that shouldn’t be right now.
He quickly turned his attention back to the story, trying to focus on Stover’s words.
“This wasn’t good enough for the father. So, one by one he captured and tortured the boys… killing every one of them with a hatchet he’d had in the war... save for one boy he let live. Why the one boy? Nobody knows. After the deed he came home and hung himself in this very room!”
Stover laughed like a maniac.
“Did he find her?” Jenny blurted out.
Stover shrugged. “Nobody knows. The father killed himself before anybody found out. The boy he let live was a nutcase… they have him locked away up in Wolten. He’s never uttered a word since.”
“That was quite a story.” Matt said.
“A real bummer.” Jenny added.
“What’s it got to do with us?” Matt asked.
“Since it’s Father’s Day.” Stover smiled. “I thought we’d try to contact the daughter’s spirit with the help of Ember here. Maybe we can find out what happened to her.”
“Really?” Matt asked sarcastically.
“For sure.” Stover replied. Suddenly Ember tightened her grip on their hands.
Without thinking, Matt tightened his grip in response.
The girl opened her eyes, making brief contact with him.
Suddenly Matt felt his face become warm… his chest tightened and he found it hard to breathe. And then it passed.
“I’m ready.” The girl said. Her gaze passed over each and every one of them in turn. “It’s important to remain in a circle, holding hands. We’re safe. You don’t want to be pulled away into the spirit world.”
Ember took a deep breath. “I call upon the four elements. Earth, Water, Fire and Air. Give me strength.” The girl started to rock back and forth. “Guide us over the bridge between this world and the next.”
The candles seemed to flicker briefly as a gust of wind passed through the room.
“I call upon the spirit of Samantha Swane.”
A low warbling moan started up from somewhere in the house. Matt felt the hairs on his arms stand up. The air felt charged.
“There’s a presence here.” Ember said.
There was an unearthly moan. From above the group a loud bang sounded, making them jump all jump.
Ember warned them. “Don’t break contact.”
The otherworldly moan grew louder. The house itself creaked and groaned as if in pain. “Spirit, speak.” Ember commanded. “Tell us your name.”
There was another unearthly wail of pain. “My name is…” A voice spoke. “My name Is… Harry Reems.”
Stover burst into laughter.
“The fuck?” Greg looked at the others dumbstruck.
“Son of a bitch.” Matt shook his head.
Stover fell backwards laughing. “Oh, I got you fucks.” We wiped tears from his eyes. “I had Erine and Chad help me set it up.”
Between laughs, Stover told them how he and his two buddies rigged the house for sound, so the two could provide sounds and spooky voices from a hiding spot upstairs.
“You son of a bitch.” Jenny scolded him.
Ember looked around perplexed. “No, this isn’t right. There was something. I felt it.”
The others, angered, paid no attention to the girl. Stover called to his buddies. The pair trudged down the stairs laughing loudly at the three’s expense.
“It’s not that funny assholes.” Greg said, dejected.
“Oh, it is.” Chad snickered.
Erine laughed. “Should see the looks on your dumb faces.”
Ember followed the three friends as they left the house.
“Wait!” She called after them. “I didn’t know.”
There was something wrong, she could feel it. There had been something there with them… something had slipped into their world.
“Guys, listen.” She pleaded. “I didn’t know.”
Matt stepped onto the path, before turning around. “So you got duped too... join the club.”
“Please listen, something did come through.” Ember looked into Matt’s eyes.
Greg and Jenny had already started down the path, Greg turned and called to Matt. “Coming man?”
“I’ve had enough spooky shit for today. I didn’t even want to be here.” Matt turned and walked towards his friends.
“Shit.” Ember whispered to herself. Feeling somebody watching her, she turned towards the house.
Standing next to the house was a dark figure. Was that Stover or one of his pals? Feeling fear creeping up her spine, Ember turned and hurried down the opposite direction of the path.
Matt woke in a chair, his eyes blurry. When he tried to move, he realized he was being held in place by duct tape. As his vision focused, he could make out a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. It swung back and forth… stopping from time to time in mid swing, just hanging there.
The room appeared to be a basement. Somewhere in the darkness, water dripped, hitting the floor in a steady rhythm.
He’d fallen asleep on the couch watching TV, how the hell had he gotten here?
Before he could call out, he heard the scraping noise coming from the corner of the basement.
He strained his neck, turning as far as he could to see a man sitting in the dark corner. The man appeared to be working on something. A red baseball cap covered the man’s face in shadow.
Matt tried to talk, ask the man what was going on. His mouth moved but no words came out.
The man stood and Matt could make out what the man was working on.
In his hands he held a hatchet and a sharpening stone. The man raised his head up. Where his eyes and mouth should be where black holes… grey mist seeped from the openings.
“Have you seen my daughter?” The man asked, his voice garbled… hollow.
Matt tried to answer, but still his voice failed him.
The man spoke again. “Have you seen my daughter?”
He took one of Matt’s hands, prying his fingers free of the arm of the chair.
He brought down the hatchet on outstretched fingers and loped them off.
Matt sat up, a scream on his lips.
He was on the couch back home.
Outside it was dark. His parents should be home soon, which was fine by him. That dream had been too freaky… that man with the hatchet… was that the guy from Stover’s story?
Feeling suddenly vulnerable, Matt locked the front door. God, he hoped his parents got home soon.
Ember sat in her room.
She’d been quiet since getting home. She wanted to tell her folks how scared she was… what she feared had happened, but they wouldn’t understand.
After supper, she’d gone straight to her room. Ember sat on her bed, hoping she was wrong… and preparing to be right.
She ripped sheets of blank paper from a notebook. Pricking her thumb with a pin, she wrote runic symbols on the paper strips.
“Vaeel. Drock. Teien.” She repeated, putting a strip up in each corner of her room.
Taking a glass jar from her desk, Ember made a circle of salt around her bed, making sure not to break the line when she stepped over it.
Sitting cross legged on her bed, the girl waited.
The clock struck 1: am. A blue shimmering on the edge of her room woke the girl.
A dark figure stood in the corner, pushing against the barrier she’d created.
“Fire. Water. Earth and Air give me strength.” She chanted.
The spirit strained the barrier as it tried to force it’s way through.
She could make out it’s features. Black slit eyes on a head covered by a red baseball cap. A hatchet clutched in one of the spirit’s hands. Ember continued chanting till finally, forty-five minutes later the entity left, just as sudden as it had come.
Exhausted, Ember fell back on her bed and slept till morning.
She’d never been more relieved to see her parents than when she went down for breakfast. The spirit had only come for her last night… for she was the only one that could send it back.
At school, something felt off.
She looked for the others, but they weren’t there.
After chemistry Ember overheard the cheerleaders; Becky, Carlie, and Toni-Lynne talking near the stairs. “I heard he never got home last night.”
“Yeah, his parents are wicked freaked.”
Working up the courage, Ember approached the two girls. “Who?” She stammered.
Becky’s eyes narrowed. “What do you want, Freakzilla?”
“Who didn’t show up?”
“What’s it to you Morticia?” Toni smirked.
A little angry now, Ember spat out the question. “Who fucking didn’t show up?”
The girls looked at her a little shocked before answering. “Stover. Okay? Take it easy bitch.”
Ember walked away without another word.
She ditched the rest of her classes for the day. She had to find the other three… to save them from... it.
Why had she even done it? To be popular, accepted?
Screw it. She couldn’t sit here feeling sorry for herself. That thing needed to be sent back!
When lunch period came, Ember snuck out.
Ember found the three sitting outside under a big tree. Did they know? Had they heard about Stover?
Out of breath, she walked towards them.
Greg was the first to notice her. “Here comes your girlfriend.” He said to Matt.
“Please guys, I need your help.”
Jenny took a bite of her sandwich. “We’re not interested.” She said dismissively.
“Did you hear about Stover?”
Greg shrugged. “He didn’t show up today. He’s always skipping.”
“He never got home!” Ember exclaimed. “It got him. The entity we summoned… the spirit of that girl’s father.”
Greg laughed. “Bullshit.”
“No! It’s not! Last it came for me. I saw it’s black eyes.” Ember almost sobbed.
Matt had sat silent as Ember had talked, but he finally spoke up. “Did you say black eyes?”
Nervous and a little embarrassed, Matt told them his dream. How real it had felt… and how the description matched with what Ember had seen in his room.
“I think you two are both high.” Greg joked. “Been hitting the glue?” “It’ll come for us, one by one, because our energy called it and we can send it back. Why do you think Stover is missing.”
“I told you, he’s just goofing off.” Greg said.
“I don’t know.” Jenny said. “Millie said she saw a couple cops talking to the principal when she passed the office this morning.”
“I’m not saying I believe in this magic shit.” Matt said. “But if it’s true, what do we do?”
“We have to go back to the house tonight and send it back.”
Ember waited by the basketball court on Madison street, just a little ways from the entrance of the path.
She was scared. It was getting dark and that thing could show up anytime. Where the hell were they?
Then she heard a familiar voice bitching and moaning and saw them coming down the street.
“Why do we all have to go?” Greg asked.
Ember and Matt’s eyes met and they shared a little smile.
“Well, we’re here.” Matt said. “Now what?”
“We’ve got to get to the house. There’s not much time.”
They made their way to the house with Greg bitching most of the way and Jenny needling him.
Matt nervously looked around. He looked scared to Ember. Good, he’d be on his toes.
She’d sensed something about Matt during the summoning. He didn’t believe in magic, but still had a healthy respect for it. That energy would be vital for sending it back. His negative charge and her positive should repel the thing.
Reaching the house, they flicked on a pair of flashlights.
Ember felt relieved when she saw the runic symbols were still on the floor where she’d drawn them.
Taking the same glass jar from her bag, Ember created a circle of salt around the symbols… big enough so they could sit inside it and be protected.
Matt and Jenny lit candles, placing one in front of each of them.
They all held hands again as they sat there.
Ember started to chant, calling upon the elements to aid them.
“Fire. Water. Earth and Air give us strength.”
A low rumbling began somewhere in the bowels of the house.
The candles flickered as a cold wind blew through the room.
A door slammed open and closed in another room, followed by heavy, deliberate footfalls as something approached them.
Ember looked at the others. “Don’t break the circle no matter what.”
She rocked back and forth, feeling the energy of the others flowing through her.
“Vaeel. Drock. Teien. Send this malignant being back to the nether realm from which it came.”
Jenny screamed, almost bolting from where she sat. Matt and Greg had to keep hold of her.
The badly mutilated body of Stover stood in the doorframe. The corpse stumbled towards them.
“Stay calm.” Ember advised them. “It can’t hurt us. The spirit is trying to scare us.”
Stover’s corpse stopped, inches from the circle. It’s dead eyes fixed on them.
“Mission fucking accomplished.” Greg said.
“Get out of my house!” An unnatural voice commanded from Stover’s dead lips.
The walls of the room cracked and blistered as a blinding white light emanated from within them.
Ember could feel she was losing them to the spectacle going on around them. “Focus your thoughts.” Ember warned them. “Close your eyes. Pay it no heed. Imagine pushing it away in your mind’s eye.”
Ember closed her eyes, imagining their energy flowing from them like tendrils, striking the malignant evil they’d brought into the world.
The floor seemed to fall away.
Stopping suddenly, Ember felt the wind expelled from her lungs.
“Holy shit.” Matt gasped.
Her eyes flung open. Ember gaped in awe at what she saw.
A blue vortex had formed above them. She opened them just in time to see Stover’s body pulled into the maw above them.
The house started to rock as bits of it were pulled into the spinning mass of energy. The floorboards beneath them creaked as the boards strained from the pull of the vortex.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here!” Greg hollered.
Ember had to agree as the house fell apart around them.
The four held hands, forming a chain with Greg in the lead.
They inched their way along the hallway. The pull lessened the further they got away from it.
When they reached the foyer, they ran from the house, screaming their heads off… not stopping till they reached the path.
The four turned and watched in silence as the house came apart, until only the vortex remained. It too soon disappeared, collapsing in on itself. “Fuck me.” Greg said, panting.
“Don’t see that everyday.” Matt added.
A couple weeks later, they were out of school for the summer.
Matt was over at Ember’s house. The two sat on her bed making out while her parents were at a party.
The pair had started dating soon after that night.. his infatuation with Jenny a distant memory.
Matt came up for air. “I wish summer could be like this the whole time.”
Ember smiled. “Who says it can’t?”
Matt had noticed her deck of tarot cards on the nightstand earlier. He took them and started shuffling them.
“What are you doing?” Ember asked.
“Consulting the cards.”
Matt smiled as he drew the first card, showing it to her. It was the lovers. “How did you do that?” Ember asked.
“It was easy.” He said. Drawing another card and handing it to her. Ember looked at it, her eyes wide with terror. The card depicted a collapsing tower.
His voice crackled with energy as his eyes turned black. “As easy as finding a new home.”
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