Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Hollow - Episode 1

Episode #1: Strangers in the Night

by Toni Walker and Aaron Walker

Journal Entry : This 23rd of November in the year of our Lord 1639

My name is Nicholas de Charme, and this is my tale. I've decided to chronicle my life, as vast as it has been, in as much detail as possible. Maybe to show to others after I die or maybe merely to rid myself of the heavy burden I've been made to carry.

I am a vampire. There is no other way to relate it. Straight and to the point. It is a shock when others discover my condition. I still am shocked even after these 500 years. It is no wonder others are as well.

I was embraced, as they define what was done to me, in 1138 by a man named Mordred. Yes, *that* Mordred. He is well known in Medieval circles as the son of King Arthur. I could go on about him but then this story would be long winded and boring. Mordred was my tormentor, my master, my sire. Now he is dead fore I killed him with a stake to the heart. It's one of the few ways we vampires can be dealt with.

To most I am considered a creature of the night. But this is not true. I am not a creature. I was embraced against my will, which I guess in retrospect, was the only thing that truly saved me. Because of this fact, I retained my mortal soul. Many have tried to kill me, and sometimes even I have considered doing the deed myself, but underneath it all I am a coward. I truly do want to live.

~Present Day: Outside the Hollow Creek City Limits~

The full moon slipped behind the clouds casting an eerie aspect on the darkened road. Cora Laskey twirled a lock of long blonde hair and wriggled in the passenger seat of the broken down car. Their father, Richard Laskey, had gone ahead for gas leaving Cora and her brother alone on the dark, abandoned highway.

In the past hour not one car had passed them, not one. Trees were hit and miss and the moon now completely visible shone full in the sky amidst a sporadic cloud covering. It gave a whole new meaning to the saying: 'the middle of nowhere.' An owl hooted and leaves rustled. Cora could feel the cold wind nip at her fingertips and toes. The November chill was finally setting in. Why did it have to reveal itself on the one day they were stuck outside? Life was sometimes truly against them. She tried focusing on her brother, David to get her mind off how very black it was outside the car's windows, but even that did nothing to soothe her soul. It seemed as if this darkened night was destined to be of some significance in their lives.

She didn't know until later how truly remarkable that thought had been.

David, two years older than she with brown hair, played one of his dreadful computer games in the back seat. Today it was Tetras. Tomorrow probably some other loathsome game. It never ceased to amaze her how focused David could be on his computers and how oblivious he could be to the real world around him.

"You see Dad yet?" David called from the back seat?

"I can't see anything. There aren't any street lights around here. Doesn't this town we're moving into invest in security lights?"

David ignored her response when he didn't hear the answer he was searching for. "Dork," Cora whispered under her breath.

She switched on the car's high beams and the light blazed on a green highway sign. It said Hollow Creek. The population number was blurry as if it had been erased and rewritten many times. She couldn't make out how many people lived there now.

"We'll be lucky if they have a movie theater," she muttered to no one in particular.

"You say something, sis?" David asked from the back seat. Headphones were firmly suctioned to his ears so she didn't understand how he could hear anything much less what she had just said.
"Obviously, no, dorkhead."

"What?" David lifted one ear speaker. "Did you say you saw Dad?"

"No!" she screamed, then turned around in the front seat crossing her arms over her chest. Her brother could be such a loser sometimes. The term dork must have been invented just for him. Funny, she always had thought younger brothers to be dorks not older brothers.

In the Forest near the Border

Nicholas moved sure-footed through the darkness constantly scanning the forest around him. This part of the woods was less dense with a more uneven terrain. He was close to the perimeter and the edge of where he was allowed to cross. It wasn't that he didn't want to cross the Hollow Creek boundaries. He couldn't. Long ago, eons it seemed, a wizard bound all forms of evil creatures to this small town. His name Merlin, his power great. And in some form he continued to live even today.

Hollow Creek was sort of a demonic roach motel. If you possessed an evil nature, you could enter but, you could never leave. Nicholas had been imprisoned there since 1693. A long sentence even for a criminal. A few select amoral citizens were also trapped in the ill-fated wonderland. All were ancestors of previous residents who reeked some sort of awful havoc on the world. In a town of vampires, witches and demons, there were seldom many real humans. A few stayed merely because they liked it there. He couldn't figure out why. Gluttons for punishment, he guessed.

Sarah Osborne was one of the aforementioned gluttons. She stayed, she had told him once, because she liked it there. Nicholas wanted to believe she stayed because of him. Because she needed him. Or was it because he needed her? Lights flashed ahead drawing him from his ruminations. His vampiric senses were more acute than a humans. He could see two youths stranded in a broken down car as if he was viewing them in broad day light. Gotta love night vision.

He side stepped a large stone statue of a little violin girl. She tended to relocate from time to time when some unfortunate soul released her from her motionless sleep. Today her residence was at the edge of Potter's Field where birds could easily rest on her head, arms and violin. Inadvertently, he stepped on a twig that cracked loud enough to wake the dead. The flock flew in all directions. Nicholas paused standing in stony silence and observed the teens' reactions. It seemed they hadn't heard his advance toward their position. Excellent. If he was lucky he could persuade them to leave. Maybe if he was fortunate the halfling henchman he was chasing wouldn't kill them on sight.

The bushes ahead shuddered low to the ground. The halfling out there was definitely bigger than a bread box. Nicholas tracked it with his eyes and kept moving as he drew his crossbow to shoulder height.

The de Charme Manor

"Where is he?" Lane Larson asked for the fourth time in ten minutes.

"Not much farther than he was the last time you asked." Ella Morris said brushing her straight black hair while staring into the multi-monitored computer before her. "According to the blip on the screen, and you can see it as well as I can, he's nearly to the highway."

Ella batted her long black lashes applying more mascara and brushed the wrinkles out of the new dress she had purchased two days ago. "Nobody has mentioned how great I look tonight. Fitz is going to love my new shoes, don't you think? By the way, how's my hair?"

She stared around the room once toward Lane, once toward Nicholas' butler, Thornswell, and once toward a small orange and tan striped cat with blue eyes sitting on the mantel above one monitor.

"What do you think, Maurice? You haven't mentioned my new look once tonight."

She was talking directly to the cat. If Ella had lived in a normal metropolitan city, the unusual phenomena of her conversing with a feline would have garnered her strange looks, but this wasn't a normal town. It was the Hollow. Strange things always happened in the Hollow. And Ella Morris having a brother who just happened to be a cat was one of those peculiar things.

"I'm afraid to answer," Maurice the cat answered simply. "You don't think Merlin would tack another hundred years to my sentence if I was snide, do you?"

"What? You don't like it?" Ella waved her hand and the violet dress which was not only too tight but too short turned into a more modest, little black dress. "Better?"

"Much," the cat mewled. "Black always has been your color. Even at the witch trials you looked simply marvelous."

"Ah, you're just saying that..." she said throwing the compliment back at him. "But it tis true."

Maurice rolled his eyes. Lane Larson came up and shooed him off the top of the computer terminal.

"Hey, now, what have we said about animals on the furniture? That cat hair of yours gets everywhere."

"Humans!" Maurice muttered. "Can't live with them, can't kill them until you're out of cat form. Just wait, when I regain my true shape..."

"Within five minutes you'll be a cat again," Thornswell muttered, in a thick British accent.

Ella's laugh tinkled like a fairy in a Disney movie. "Thorny made a funny!"

"I do have my moments," he said, returning to what he had been doing -- monitoring his master's progress.

On the road into Hollow Creek

Richard Laskey couldn't believe how far it was into town. Didn't the sign post near the car say the town was one mile ahead? It felt like he'd been walking for five or six miles. Finally, after what seemed a lifetime, a dimness on the horizon drew his attention. 

Hollow Creek. 


The town had an old world feel to it. It looked as if he'd stepped back into Victorian England with touches of contemporary society thrown in. 

The service station was closed. Figured! But the club down the way was obviously open. Its name flashed in bright neon red. The Black Rose.

Lane Larson entered the control room from a long dark hallway. He could hear hollow dripping noises emanating from the end of the passageway which was lined with filth and damp moss, not to mention a horrific stench. It
reminded him of wet, stinky baby diapers... but worse. He cringed at the dismal site of Nicholas' lair. God, he thought to himself, what does Nick think this is... the Batcave?

The thought barely left his mind when a voice rang out startling him. He froze in place.

"There are no bats here. Why would you ever think such a thing?" said a disjointed voice from somewhere on the other side of the room. The lame utterance sounded like the voice of KITT, the car from Knight Rider, but Lane knew better. It was the voice of one very annoying, very intrusive feline.

"Will you *please* stop doing that? Isn't having your psychic visions enough? Do you really have to read my mind too?"

"It's not something I'm doing on purpose, youngster. You're mind is so open, so innocent, that I can't help but read it." Maurice paused to stretch a bit and the fur on his back bristled. "Lane did you know that you...."

"I know. I know. I think it. I say it." Lane looked a tad peeved about a cat being able to invade his personal thoughts. Not that he'd really had any personal thoughts worth invading but it was just that the damn cat knew what he secretly thought at all hours of the day or night. It was, if anything, disturbing.

"It is your way, youngster." Maurice stopped suddenly as if racked with a massive amount of pain.

"And by the way, stop calling me... youngster." Lane didn't see the effects of Maurice's vision until it was too late. His rant was stopped mid stream when he saw the cat rolling on the counter. Lane's last word sounded more like a whisper than a yell.

Maurice rolled and rocked helplessly as he watched the vision given to him by those whom he had deemed, The Powers. He didn't know if it was from God, or Zeus, or The Oracle of Delphi. He just knew that what usually was given to him, somehow played out in real life.

He was shocked as his sister, Ella came into crystal clear view. She was wearing one of those black cat suits the patrons of the Black Rose had been known to wear. Behind her was A.W. Larson scowling in his most hideous ugly mask. A.W. was saying something to Ella but he couldn't hear what. Then a ghostly image of Nicholas appeared before them. A.W. drew a stake and Ella tried to hold him back. The vision of Nicholas dissipated then one of a young girl with long hair appeared before them.

It was Ella who tried to attack the misty figure this time, but A.W. didn't hold her back and the image popped like a helium filled balloon when the stake impacted it. The air rushed from the image with a wild abandon, whipping the smiling face of the girl around the room. It bounced from wall to wall as it grew smaller and smaller. 

Suddenly, the girl's smile turned into a frown and the balloon with her image inside it no longer made a hissing sound. It now sounded like the scream of someone being murdered. Maurice could only assume it was the girl in the vision.

But how could this be true? Why would Ella kill someone she didn't know? The only reason could be that Ella had once again regained her obsession with Nicholas. God help them and the girl. Fore if anyone stood in Ella's way when she wanted something, that person or persons would pay the consequences.

He'd seen it happen before. He didn't want to see it happen again.

Lane gaped at Maurice rocking on the polished marble surface and almost laughed.

"What's gotten into him?" Lane asked watching the orange cat suddenly stop his undulating. Maurice appeared unaffected by his sudden spasm, mewled and disappeared behind the thin monitor.

"Well, if I had to guess..." Thornswell stated. "I'd have to say either sudden psychic insight or another tiff with his sister, Ella."

"Must have been Ella. I heard she blew out of here on her broomstick in a less than cheery mood."

"All I'm going to say is..." Maurice paused for maximum dramatic effect. He was, in his previous human incarnation, an actor on the stage of the Globe Theatre. Thus the reason he paused. It was how he trained. Maurice was and always would be an actor at heart. "All I'm going to say is..." Maurice paused again.

Lane couldn't take many more delay tactics. He wasn't in the mood for games at the moment. "All right, all ready!"

"As I was saying," Maurice continued ignoring Lane's interruption. "She's at it again."

Lane and Thornswell exchanged equally confused looks.

"She's at it...?" Thornswell began to repeat the sentence as a question when its meaning finally hit him. "Oh, good, Lord. You can't be serious."

"Serious as a cat attack." Maurice sniffed, stuck his nose in the air and followed a delicious aroma to the kitchen.

"Excuse me?!" Lane said rather loudly. "Someone care to enlighten me here?"

"No, not really." The cat angled his head back in order to make his words completely understood.
"You're a real big help there, cat breath. Thanks."

"Ignore him," Thornswell said as he planted himself into the seat opposite the main computer. They both watched the cat disappear for the second time. "He becomes a little testy when he's worried."

"So are you going to tell me, or do I have to guess?"

"I seriously doubt you could guess at this one. It's been awhile since Ella entered this particular frame of mind."
Lane was now more confused than ever. "Frame of mind? Huh?"

"Don't worry lad," Thornswell said softly. "All will be clear in due time. Believe me, it's not an experience one tends to forget."

The air smelled of music -- softly lyrical tones of jazz, erratic rhythms of reggae and some ska thrown in for good measure. It wasn't a normal day in Hollow Creek. The Black Rose was awash in tempos they hadn't heard in ages, millennia. The bodies filling the club swayed to the carnal beat.

Misty blue light bounced off the mirrored walls. Most of the people dancing could be seen in reflection but some, those who were vampires, were hidden from view. The club owner watched from his office high above the crowd. The black man was dressed in an expensive suit of dark gray. His eyes gleamed with an internal fire as his body moved to the intoxication of the music.

Bobo shrugged out of his coat and shirt, then wrapped a red bandanna around his bald head as if it was a magnet that attracted women. It wasn't, but it worked all the same. Bobo's bronzed, chest muscled into an attractive six-pack glistening with perspiration. When he appeared on the dance floor women of all ages, vampire, lycanthrope and human alike descended on him.

Bobo was like that. He attracted women -- and men -- like a moth to a flame. It was a talent he possessed. One he used to his own advantage. One he never wanted to take lightly.

David Laskey threw down his computer game and stuck his chin over the front seat. He stared intently at his sister who was eyeing the dark, endlessly looming stretch of asphalt before them.

"Whatcha doing?" He said suddenly, in a too playful mood.

"Contemplating throwing this car into gear and getting the hell out of here." Cora didn't seem to be taking this 'stranded in the dark' experience too well, David decided. He'd do whatever it took to one-eighty her mood.

"I thought Dad said it was broken." Her brother always did hit on the obvious.

"I know he did. But... did it sound broken to you or did it sound like we just stopped?"

David considered the idea a moment. "Good point, sis. But why would Dad want to walk six or more miles into a town he's never been in before? I mean, that's a pretty far walk in the dark."

"That's exactly what I was thinking. Why walk a couple of miles into town when we could have driven there faster?" Cora just couldn't get past the bad feeling she was experiencing. "This is weird, David. Really weird."

"Well, sis. Prepare for something even more peculiar Haven't you noticed how strange Dad's been acting lately? I mean, since Mom disappeared and you got on your 'let's find her' kick, Dad's been acting truly bizarre. Late night phone calls to mysterious people. Is it just me or do you get the impression that he doesn't want us to find Mom?"

"David, that's stupid!" Cora couldn't believe what her brother was suggesting. "Of course Dad wants us to find Mom. Why else would he have driven us all the way out here into the middle of nowhere?"

"Why would he stop six miles from the town Mom was last seen in and leave his two defenseless children in a darken vehicle in the middle of a deserted highway?"

"Okay, smartie pants. You're point is well taken."

"Cor? Can I tell you something?" David's tone took on an ominous feel.


"I don't think Mom left. I think someone kidnaped her."

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