Welcome to The Hollow where the unusual is usual.
Trouble Becomes Him
Jack lurked in the shadows of the graveyard as he waited. Would she ever stop talking about him long enough to find herself alone again? He had unfinished business with Miss Ella. He was surprised she still called herself by that name. Many people of her age would have changed their name due to necessity.
He remembered her from the witch trials. She had been pouty and needy and not as confident as she was today. Time must have changed her for the better, but she was still nothing like his Abigail. Abigail had always been the strong type even back in 1692. A woman ahead of her time. She was strong and vibrant and too young to die so soon. Because of the witch trials, their love had never had the chance to blossom. And he had Ella to blame for that. Ella and Sarah Osborne and that annoying Oracle Katherine. They were all to blame for taking Abigail away from him. And they would all soon know the wrath of Jack the Ripper!
He followed Ella and the orange cat as they accompanied a ghostly figure of a boy. He wished they would break apart so he could have his way with the witch. He never had been fond of witnesses.
While he observed the three from a distance, Jack ruminated on his past with the wily witch.
He remembered a time when Ella had been the best roll in the hay in Salem, Massachusetts. She ought to have been, men paid plenty for that witch's body. Her body was the most supple, and flexible and her screams – yes, even now he could hear them clearly. Her screams in fear and at climax were the most resounding and the most pleasing to his ear. She made every man she took to bed think he was the only one – and for a short while, he had been.
They had pretended to be a couple, he and Ella. But that was before Abigail had come into his life and saved him. Saved him from the misery Ella had evoked on his life when she eventually returned to her horrid, putrid ways, taking man after man into her bed.
Jack forced the painful memories from the front of his mind. He didn't want to lose the energy he had only recently gained from Ella when he had taken over her body. He would need all his strength for the final battle between them.
David Laskey listened to Ella rant on about Jack the Ripper. Who knew such people still existed. If you had asked him, David would have been certain that Jack was long dead. But now, in this place, it was possible for Jack to be alive. And that alone was one of the scariest thoughts he'd ever had.
"You stay with him," Ella said to the talking cat.
That was another unusual thing. The cat was talking. Back home, cat's didn't talk and evil didn't exist - at least not like it did here. He had a bad feeling that pretty soon Ella and the cat were going to be telling him vampires were real and witches really did cast spells and hexes.
Maurice stared up at David. His eyes held an intelligence he'd never seen in any other feline.
"The answer is yes," Maurice said.
David cast him a curious glance. "And... what was the question?"
"From the look on your face, I could tell that you were wondering if monsters were real. They are. So are vampires, werewolves and witches."
David seemed to grow ashen – if that was even possible in his already ghostly state. "Excuse me while I faint now," he said.
"No fainting, please. My delicate cat stomach can't take it." Maurice walked around in a circle chasing his tail. "Anyway," he continued, "We have to get back to your statue, I want to test a theory I've been contemplating."
David sighed. "Why do I get the feeling that whatever you're planning is about to go horribly and awfully wrong?"
Maurice only mewled. David Laskey was more perceptive than he knew.
Cora Laskey felt numb. She hardly remembered Lane Larson leading her into the house after the fiasco out on the front porch. He had no sooner led her into the living room before he himself disappeared into the bowels of the house telling her he'd return soon. She found a blanket around her shoulders keeping her warm. She knew that must also be Lane's doing. He was protective of her for some reason. She couldn't imagine why.
All she could think of and all she could feel was a sudden compulsion to go home, away from this place, this town, her father's untimely demise.
It wasn't the mansion or its residents that scared her. They were all oddly comforting. It was the laughing voices of the men in the Mustang that taunted her from inside her own head. The laughter echoed over and over. Their tedious voices repeated their tormenting cry. "This is a message," they had said. A message for someone named Nicholas. Why would someone kill her father to give this Nicholas a message? It didn't make sense. Who the hell was Nicholas?
She pulled the blanket farther around her. She knew the room was warm but all she felt was a bone chilling coldness inside her.
"Can I get you something, Miss?" asked an elder gentleman who seemed to materialize out of the walls.
She flinched a little, but didn't feel compelled to move. She accepted the hot beverage he offered her, but didn't drink it. She knew it wouldn't prove to bring warmth to her quivering body.
The elder man's voice was gentle and soothing. "I'm very sorry about your father."
Tears fell leaving trails down her face. "Oh, God. Dad." Her voice left her momentarily as a fit of crying ensued. She hiccuped and flicked the droplets from her face. "I wish I could have foreseen this. I wish I could foresee every bad thing that happens to me so I can prevent this pain. Oh, God. It's so bad, dad. The pain is worse than I ever imagined. I never want to feel this pain again."
She walked over to the window and looked out hoping to see her mother, but knowing she wasn't within her reach. "Where are you, mom? I need you."
"What's wrong with her?" Ella Morris asked Thornswell, Nicholas de Charme's companion and butler.
Ella no longer took notice of the elaborate decorations surrounding her. She had become used to the mansion. At times she felt like it was all she had ever known. Maybe she felt too comfortable, but then again, she deserved to live and take for granted such splendor.
"I believe her father's death has gotten the best of her." Thornswell remained silent for a moment, then replied, "She wouldn't be so sad if she truly knew who Richard Laskey was."
"Riddles again, Thornswell? What's that supposed to mean? And who in the hell is Richard Laskey?" Ella practically shouted the words, but Cora didn't seem to hear her. Cora's eyes remained planted on the view outside the window. The blanket draped over her shoulders looked like a velour cape.
"I remember the man," Thornswell said simply. "I recognized him before the medical examiner wheeled his body away."
Ella grunted in frustration. "Facts, Thornswell! Get to the facts."
"As you know, we keep quite an elaborate database on A.W. Larson and his known co-horts." Ella nodded in agreement. "Richard Laskey is among the known. At least he was seventeen years ago."
"Okay, I'll play. What does seventeen years ago have to do with anything?"
"Well, unless I miss my guess, Cora could be the child Katherine had before she disappeared so long ago."
"You say that like nasty ole Kathy is back or something. Oh, please, don't tell me she's back!" Ella was known for her tantrums and Thornswell had a feeling one was coming on.
"All right," he said slowly. "I won't tell you."
Katherine watched from the hallway. Nothing was familiar. Nothing seemed familiar. Not even an inkling. Her memory was completely black. All she could remember was her name and Hollow Creek. And how important it was for her to be here. But when the girl with the long black hair came in, Katherine felt a glimmer of something. A feeling. She felt she knew the girl and before the night was over, she planned to meet her and find out exactly how the two of them were connected.
Cora couldn't stop looking at a certain spot in the woods. Something about it drew her. For a moment she thought she glimpsed a man. Tall, broad shouldered with dark, thick hair. He was thirty-five or forty, but his age didn't seem to matter to her. It was his eyes. They were a haunting green. Not a sage green, but an almost emerald green.
While she stared into the darkness of the forest, her mind spun a vivid fantasy. He was there. Waiting for her. Watching her. Wanting her. And she was standing here, waiting too. She realized this almost immediately. She realized she had been waiting forever. Was he the one? The one she had dreamed of. The one she dreamed would take her away and love her forever?
She could see his face more clearly now. It seemed more than a fantasy. Almost like a memory. A very vivid and erotic memory. His mouth, she remembered it. It devoured her with a passion like she had never known. She closed her eyes and succumbed to the onslaught of feelings and emotions. Did people in love feel this intensely? Only his mouth touched her, yet she felt his kiss clear to her toes.
Cora sighed and opened her eyes. There he was, standing at the edge of the forest. He seemed to be looking right at her. She placed a hand on the window almost as a sign that she wanted him to come to her.
Ella came up behind Cora. She had to know what the woman was looking at. As she looked in the direction Cora was staring, the witch gasped. "NO! Don't look at him. Never look at him again!"
Ella tried to turn the girl around, away from the window, but it was almost as if she was in a trance. She waved her hands in front of the girl's face.
"What's wrong with her?" Thornswell asked with mounting concern.
We have to get her away from the window. HE'S out there! He can't get her! She's mortal She'll never survive if he gets his hands on her!"
Thornswell didn't know to whom Ella was referring, but he had learned to trust her instincts over the years. If she said a threat was outside the window, he knew to listen and take cover. The two of them struggled to move Cora but she remained rooted to the spot.
Ella couldn't sit by and watch Jack win again. She had to stop him, and before anyone could prevent her, Ella flew out the door. Finding him hadn't been hard. He was still at the edge of the woods nearly in the exact place she'd seen him from the window.
"Hello, Red," Jack said playfully, referring to the fairytale character that had been modeled after her life. A fairytale that would forever haunt her.
He didn't want to face the brazen beauty in his black and smokey form. He needed to face her with a full body, the one she had ravished so many times years ago.
Jack congealed into an image of the man Ella would never completely forget. She hated him for killing so many, but deep in a certain place in her heart, she still cared for the monster. And that fact made her more sick than anyone could know.
"Stop calling me that!" she screamed. "That fairytale is so wrong, and you know it!"
Jack chuckled. "What? Don't you enjoy seeing your big bad wolf again, Red?"
"Okay. Stop with the name calling. And by the way, how did my aunt become my grandmother in that tale? Plus!" she said with force, "I never said ‘what big eyes you have.'" Ella remembered her time with Jack in 1690 back before he was evil and before he had fallen in a sickening kind of love with her best friend, Abigail Hobbs.
Jack's voice returned to the British inflection he had spoken with in the early days of America. "I do believe I would have made quite an effective novelist. I related the tale... with a few minor adjustments, mind you... to your brother, Maurice. He was the one who originally penned the ‘Red Riding Hood' story, and quite beautifully, I might add."
"My brother!?" she shrieked. "Maurice was responsible for that insipid tale? I'll kill him! I will kill him! Cinderella was bad enough! Now I'm Little Red Riding Hood too?" She grunted in frustration.
Jack gave her a humourous smile. "I would think you would be proud to be written down in the history books as a beloved character. I'm very proud to have been the big bad wolf. Although, Prince Charming might have been a better gig."
"There is no way in heaven or hell that you were ever even considered for the role of Prince Charming" Ella's ranting had taken on a new level of aggression.
"You are right. I'm afraid Maurice always imagined you and Saint Nick would always get together and live happily ever after." His eyes glinted with mischief. "How's that working out for you?"
Ella grunted in response. Jack only laughed. "I can't take credit for the fairytale's success. That was all your brother's doing. He marked you for all time as two of the most beautiful women in fairytale land. You should be proud, not angry, Ella."
Ella's face turned beet red and Jack could swear steam was coming off her in waves.
"Who... Who... Who are YOU to tell me about not getting angry? YOU are the most notorious killer of all time! YOU don't deal with your anger, Jack. You just go out and kill people to make yourself feel better!"
Jack had never seen Ella so angry. And he knew he was probably the only person on the face of the earth who could elicit such a strong response from her. He could feel the energy radiating off of her. Smell it. Anger, contempt and fear. It was a heady, delicious aroma.
It was always so easy to taunt Ella into a rage. Her body swayed. Jack turned his full attention on to her. The bluster in her mocking words seemed to fade like air from a balloon as Jack sucked the energy out of her. He wasn't killing her, he would save that for another day. For now, he only needed to regain his strength.
Before he could fully feed off of her, the connection was broken. A familiar shout came from over the next rise. It was Nicholas de Charme. He could tell, even from such a distance. That arrogant vampire was here in the Hollow as well. Good. One more dead body to add to the stack.