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Bill W

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Everything posted by Bill W

  1. Really, Sheriff, I locked myself out of the house and was just using this to get inside.
  2. Bill W

    City of the Dead

    You're welcome, DaddyD. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
  3. Bill W

    City of the Dead

    Thanks for the feedback, Wayne. It wouldn't have been much of a Halloween Spook-tale if he just prayed, and this is a real thing in New Orleans for those who believe. Take care, my friend.
  4. Bill W

    City of the Dead

    Jamie’s dad died unexpectedly and he never got to say goodbye. This bothered him because the last time he’d been with his dad they had a disagreement that never got resolved. Jamie learns that there’s a place in New Orleans where he might be able to rectify the situation and make contact with his dad’s spirit, but he doesn’t want to go alone. He asks his friend Drew to join him, and Drew agrees, and together they embark on an adventure that doesn’t go exactly as planned.
  5. Bill W

    City of the Dead

    I was a little surprised when I heard Jamie’s voice on the other end of the phone, because we’d unfortunately lost contact shortly after we left home to attend different colleges. I’d first met Jamie O’Conner in fifth grade and we remained best friends until we graduated from high school. However, once we got to college our busy schedules, heavy workloads, and the geographic distance between our campuses caused us to lose touch. Even though I’d always known that Jamie was into girls, since it was a very obvious fact, he didn’t overreact or get angry when I finally confessed that I was gay. In fact, nothing seemed to change in any way until our sophomore year when he made a comment that blew my mind. “Drew, I know you’ve always had a thing for me, so I’m gonna do you a favor.” Just for clarification, my given name is Andrew Fowler and I was named after my dad, although we have different middle names. He prefers to go by Andy, so he and my mom decided it would be less confusing if they called me Drew. “Wait, what makes you think I have a thing for you?” “Come on, bro. I’ve seen you staring at my junk whenever we stay over at each other’s house and get undressed at the same time.” I must have blushed when he said this, because I’d always thought I was being sly and hiding what I was doing. It never dawned on me that he was aware of what I was up to, because I never stared directly at his package. I merely glanced at his penis out of the corner of my eye, and since he never said anything about it I failed to realize that I’d been busted. He’d never confronted me, or got angry or upset, and seeing he seemed to be fine with this, I chose to confirm his observation. “Ok, I guess I did check you out a few times.” “A few times? I think you mean a few hundred times, cuz you did it whenever we were undressing in the bedroom, the locker room, and even when we happened to be standing next to each other while taking a leak.” “Did I do it that often?” “Oh yeah, and there were probably other times too, but I’m ok with it. Even though you know I’m straight, I’m willing to meet you halfway and do some things I wouldn’t do for anyone else.” “Huh? What the hell are you talking about?” “I’m offering to do stuff with you, as long as you promise that you won’t try to stick anything up my butt or start acting all mushy around me, like we’re boyfriends or something.” “Really? You’re willing to do that? But why?” “Cuz I don’t want to see you moping around or being miserable for the next few years.” “Really? Ok, I promise, but I still can’t believe you’re going to do this for me.” “I know, but I am, and I will as long as you follow my rules.” “Yeah. No problem. Just tell me if you think I’m doing something wrong.” “You can count on it.” Throughout the rest of our time in high school we engaged in mutual masturbation and oral sex, but I never tried to get him to do more than that. I was over the moon that he was willing to do this much with me and didn’t want him to stop, but like I said we lost touch after we left to attend different colleges. We’d kept in touch during the first semester, but everything changed after the Christmas holiday and we hardly ever spoke after that. Once we earned our degrees, we ended up taking jobs in different states and hadn’t really spoken or seen one another since then. Oh, there were the few times we happened to run into each other while visiting our parents, but it was always while running errands, so we couldn’t chat for very long. The conversations were usually just about general things, like how we’d been and what we were doing, but we never really shared much personal information. Thinking about this made me wonder how he’d managed to get the number to my mobile phone. As if reading my mind, Jamie said, “I ran into your parents at my dad’s funeral and asked them to give it to me.” “Your dad died? I didn’t know that.” “Yeah, about three months ago. It was a total surprise and happened without any warning. I felt awful because I hadn’t been back to visit since Christmas and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.” “Damn, I’m really sorry.” “Thanks, and it’s sort of why I called you. I was hoping you’d go with me to New Orleans so I can say goodbye to my dad and apologize for what happened the last time we were together. We had an argument before I left and didn’t exactly part on good terms, so I want to let him know that I love him and I’m sorry those were the last things we said to each other.” “What was the argument about?” “That’s not important, but I need to clear the air and make amends or I’ll never be able to live with myself.” “Ok, but why New Orleans? Is that where he’s buried?” “No, but I’ve heard there’s a place there where you can contact people who are no longer alive. It’s in an area called the City of the Dead and that’s where the Gates of Guinee are located. If you visit the gates in the proper order and do a bunch of other stuff, like make offerings, then a portal will open at the last one and you’ll be able to make contact with someone who has recently passed. It’s just that I’m nervous and don’t want to do it alone.” “Ok, so when are you planning to go?” “I was told this works best if it’s done close to certain holidays, and the next opportunity will be right before All Saints Day on November first.” “You mean we’re going to be doing this on Halloween?” “No, we’ll finish the process before then, but in a way it’s connected to that holiday because it’s based on an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain (pronounced Sow-in). That’s when the Celts believed the dead return to roam the earth, but now we believe the spirits are able to crossover prior to other holidays as well, like Christmas, Mardi Gras, and a few others. You see, these holidays are the times when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld is its thinnest, so it’s easier for recently deceased spirits to return. The thing is we’ll both have to take a week off from work to do this.” “A week?” “Yeah, cuz we’re only supposed to visit one gate each day. I’ve been in contact with a voodoo priestess from there and she’s agreed to meet with me so she can explain everything I’ll need to do.” “A voodoo priestess?” “Yeah, cuz they’re the only ones who know how to do this.” “Ok, I’ll go with you, but it sounds a little crazy.” We ended up taking two weeks of vacation instead, because Jamie explained there were several other things he needed to do prior to opening the gates. This included meeting with the priestess, being shown where each gate was located, and procuring the various items he would need for the offerings. We also agreed that as long as we were going to be in the French Quarter we might as well take advantage of the situation and enjoy the night life too, so there was an upside to staying longer as well. We turned in our requests and got them approved. Before Jamie contacted me about this I’d already committed to being a groomsman in a co-worker’s wedding, which happened to fall on the same weekend that Jamie was planning to leave. Since I didn’t want to break my word to the other guy, I told Jamie I wouldn’t be able to fly to New Orleans until Monday. This didn’t seem to bother him, because he said it wouldn’t be a problem and we’d still have a week and a half before All Saints Day. The only drawback was that he didn’t want to be in New Orleans alone, so he opted to change his flight to Monday as well. It would also leave us a couple of days to rest up after we got back, and prior to returning to work. It wasn’t very long before it was time to leave, and Jamie’s flight touched down in New Orleans first. He opted to hang around the airport until my plane landed, and as soon as he spotted me approaching the luggage carousel he raced over and gave me a hug. After he released me, he smiled, looked me in the eye, and spoke. “Damn, it’s great to see you again, and I really appreciate that you agreed to do this for me.” “I’m glad to see you too, and you should have known that I wouldn’t let you down or allow you do this alone.” “Yeah, you’re a great friend and I’m going to show you how much this means to me. I want you to know that I’m willing to do whatever you want every night while we’re here, as my way of paying you back. It will be just like when we were in high school.” “That’s really nice of you and I’m really looking forward to it, but there’s something else I need to do first. I’m starving and have to get something to eat. I could only scrounge up a couple bags of peanuts to munch on after I left the house, and it wasn’t nearly enough to tide me over.” “Yeah, I’m kind of hungry too, so let’s find someplace to eat. It will be my treat.” Since I didn’t want to waste time by going to the hotel and checking in first, I talked Jamie into grabbing a bite at the airport. After we’d quieted the rumblings in our bellies, we took the shuttle to the hotel. Once we registered, we collected our key cards and headed up to the third floor to inspect the room. “Not bad. You did a nice job picking this out.” “Thanks. I figured we might as well be comfortable while we’re here.” “So what’s the first thing on the agenda?” “We’re free to do whatever we want until tomorrow morning. That’s when we’re supposed to meet with the voodoo priestess so she can fill me in on everything I’ll need to know.” “Is she coming here?” “No, we have to go to her shop.” Now that I knew what to expect, we unpacked our belongings and got settled in. As soon as we had an opportunity to relax and catch our breath, Jamie suggested that we should go for a walk and familiarize ourselves with the area. It would also give us an opportunity to see what other establishments were close by, so we’d know where to go later to have a couple of drinks. Once we finished our impromptu walkabout we returned to the room. Almost as soon as the door closed behind us, Jamie offered another suggestion. “Let’s take a quick shower and then you can decide how you want to get off before we get dressed and go out to party.” “Are you sure you still want to do this?” “Yeah, it will be just like old times.” “So are you up for a sixty-nine then?” “Ok, but I might be a little rusty. I haven’t done anything like this since our last time together.” “Don’t worry, it will all CUM back to you.” It took him a couple of seconds to catch my drift and notice the play on words, but when he did he chuckled softly before starting to undress. Of course, I took the opportunity to check him out and he was still in great shape. The teenage body I so fondly remembered had matured since we’d last done this, but his six-pack was still fairly well defined. He’d also sprouted considerably more body hair in the interim, but the prize between his legs was just as magnificent as I remembered. I was looking forward to getting reacquainted with it again, but Jamie thought each of us should take a quick shower first, before we got started. It was clear that he didn’t want to take the chance of any hygiene issues, a hang up he’d had since we’d first done this. After making certain we were both squeaky clean, we arranged ourselves on the bed and began sucking each other off. Jamie’s technique had suffered a little during the years of inactivity, but he was still able to bring me to orgasm. Shortly after we’d both enjoyed a release, we got dressed again and headed out for a night on the town. The French Quarter lived up to everything I’d heard about it, and once we’d finished dinner, the booze started to flow quite freely. Before we started, though, we promised each other that we wouldn’t get carried away and wind up totally inebriated, because we had to get up early the next morning and meet up with the voodoo priestess. Don’t get me wrong, because we still had a great time, but without the lingering after effects or any regrets. Well, at least not until the alarm on Jamie’s mobile phone went off at 6:00 the next morning, because we didn’t leave the bar until after last call. Once we’d crawled out of bed and had taken turns showering, we dressed quickly and got ready to go down to the lobby so we could enjoy the complimentary breakfast. As Jamie reached for the door handle, I asked a question. “Why are you wearing a backpack?” “It’s to carry the various supplies we’ll need to pull this off.” That made sense, so we headed down to see what the hotel had to offer. The selection wasn’t bad, and after we’d each finished devouring a bagel, scrambled eggs, and a couple of sausage links, we headed over to the voodoo shop. To say the place was a unique and an interesting experience would be a vast understatement. The shelves in the small shop were filled with an assortment of weird and exotic items and the place smelled of incense. The combination of sights and smells was so overwhelming that I wasn’t able to focus on any particular item for very long before another one grabbed my attention. However, that all changed when I spotted the person we were there to meet. The voodoo priestess appeared to be even more unique and exotic than the items on display, and this was due to what she was wearing and how it made her appear. She had on a multi-colored, floor length robe that was unfastened in the front and exposed the burnt orange dress she wore underneath. She also had a mauve kerchief wrapped around her head, completely covering her hair, and her perfume must have contained musk. The overall effect was overpowering and unnerving. “Greetings, I am Madam Ida and I wish to welcome you to my shop. Is there something I can do to assist you?” “Yes, I’m Jamie O’Conner and I made an appointment to speak with you about the City of the Dead. This is my friend, Drew Fowler, and he’s here to help me.” “Ah, yes. From what you told me when we spoke on the phone, I believe you are actually interested in the Gates of Guinee.” “Yes, I am, because you said that’s the place I’ll need to go if I want to make contact with my dad. He died a few months ago and I never got a chance to say goodbye, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to do that before I leave.” “It will require a lengthy ordeal that will extend over several nights. Everything will have to be done in the correct order and you must follow a prescribed ritual at each gate. Are you sure you have the time and the patience to do this?” “Yes. Absolutely.” “The seven gates are located in seven different cemeteries, but each one is located within the French Quarter. According to voodoo beliefs the gates can be used to open a portal into Guinee, which is the portion of the underworld that all souls enter immediately after death. It is presided over by a ‘loa’, or a spirit known as Baron Samedi. Each soul must pass through this area in order to reach the ‘deep waters’, which they must cross if they wish to be reunited with their loved ones. “There are actually seventeen different cemeteries in the French Quarter that are collectively referred to as the City of the Dead, but only seven of them contain gates. People who aren’t familiar with the area can easily get confused and look for the gates in the wrong cemeteries, which is why I’ll be taking you on a tour. I will show you the precise location of each gate, and I will explain what you are required to do at each location, but you may only open one gate per day. There is a common saying that will help you to remember the importance of doing this correctly, and it goes like this. ‘Seven nights, seven moons, seven gates, seven tombs.’ You must not deviate from this in any way.” “I understand.” “I will only show you the location of the cemetery where the first gate resides, but not the gate itself, because I will have to escort you there when you’re ready to begin. The reason for this is twofold. First, that particular cemetery has been closed to the public due to vandalism, but I’m an authorized tour guide who is permitted to escort people inside. The other reason for this is so I can walk you through the process the first time, to ensure you’re doing it correctly. Today, I will only show you the main entrance to that cemetery, and then I will drive you to the other six gates so you will know where to go. You will be visiting those locations on your own, so it is important that you learn how to get there and where each gate is located inside.” “Great! So will we be starting tonight?” “No, I have an appointment scheduled with another client this evening and won’t be available. Don’t worry, though, because you’ll still have plenty of time to complete the process prior to All Saints Day. It will also give you the rest of today, after I’ve finished taking you on the tour, along with all day tomorrow to collect the offerings you’re going to need.” “Can’t I just get everything here?” “You’ll be able to purchase some of the items in my shop, but you’ll have to go elsewhere for the remaining things. Now, if you’re ready I will take you to the various cemeteries and show you where the gates can be found. Here’s a map that you can use to help you remember where each gate resides, but you’ll also need a pad or some paper to jot down a few notes about the information I’m going to reveal. You mustn’t forget any of these steps and do them precisely as I indicate, so putting everything in writing is the best way to ensure mistakes do not happen.” “Ok, so do you have a notebook I can buy?” She did, and Jamie quickly paid her for it. “You must remember this warning. If you do something wrong, such as approach the gates in the wrong order or open any of them incorrectly, then you won’t be able to unlock the portal when you reach the final gate. Any mistakes could prove costly, and it’s possible that making such an error could allow dangerous spirits to enter our world. Although most souls are eager to be reunited with their loved ones beyond the deep waters, there are others that opt to remain in Guinee. Most of those souls are very evil and wish to escape Guinee so they can enter the world of the living again and do harmful things. This might include harassing the living, creating general mayhem, or even dragging unwary souls into the world of the dead before their time is up.” We followed her out to the car so she could drive us around, and before long she pulled up in front of a cemetery unlike anything I had ever seen before. All of the deceased appeared to be housed above ground, and I later discovered that the dead are interred in this manner due to a high water table in the area. Any hole dug as a grave would quickly fill with water, making it impractical to be used for that purpose. I was still in the process of visually inspecting the variety of elaborate tombs when my thoughts were interrupted by Madam Ida’s voice. “This is St. Louis Cemetery #1 and the location of the first gate, which is the tomb of Marie Laveau. She was a renowned voodoo priestess who died in 1881, and today she is regarded as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. It is important that you know each gate has its own Guede, or guardian, and the Guede is there to bar the living from trying to enter the land of the dead. In order to convince the guardian that he should assist you, you must display the proper amount of respect when greeting him. This is done by speaking very clearly in a calm, steady voice, followed by leaving a suitable ritual offering before stating your purpose. If that offering is deemed inadequate it would offend the Guede, and the guardians are quick to anger. Trust me when I say you don’t want to be the recipient of a Guede’s wrath.” After making this perfectly clear, she drove us to each of the other cemeteries and pointed out the remaining gates. She advised us of the name of the guardian at each location, explained how Jamie was to greet each Guede, and then she informed him of the appropriate offering he should leave behind. Once we finished the tour of all of the locations, we returned to her shop. “Be careful of making any mistakes, because even the smallest error could result in dire consequences,” she warned after Jamie had purchased the items available there. As soon as he had what he needed, we thanked her for her help and headed out to procure the remaining items at other nearby businesses. “Damn, this sounds complicated,” I stated after we’d returned to the hotel. “Yes, it does sound daunting, but I need to do this. It’s important for me to make amends with my dad so he can rest in peace, and I’ll be able to go on with the rest of my life without any regrets or remorse.” “Ok, so what do we do next?” “There’s nothing we can do until tomorrow night, cuz Madam Ida said everything has to be done after dark. Actually, she said the sun has to disappear completely below the horizon before we can attempt opening any of the gates, so we’re free until then.” “So if we don’t start until tomorrow night, then we won’t finish until October 30th. As long as we’re going to be here for Halloween, we might as well join in the fun. I’ve heard the people down here really go big when they celebrate Halloween and it’s almost as wild and as much fun as Mardi Gras.” “Doesn’t that mean we’ll need costumes?” “Of course, if we want to be part of the festivities, so we’ll have to find a costume shop after lunch and pick something out.” After Jamie agreed with my proposal, we looked around for a place to eat, and then we began asking if there was a costume shop in the area. We ended up at a really cool place that offered a wide variety of Halloween costumes and accessories. We began searching through the male selection and quickly rejected the multitude of superhero outfits that we came across. After nearly exhausting our choices, we each found something that not only appealed to us, but also fit in with the area and what we were about to do. Jamie wound up choosing a getup referred to as the Day of the Dead costume, while I selected one they called the Voodoo Dude costume. Unfortunately, they didn’t have everything we needed on site, so the salesperson offered to have those items shipped in and said we could pick everything up in three days. That would still give us plenty of time to try them on and make sure they fit before Halloween. Seeing we had an unexpected free evening, we went bar hopping again and ended the night helping each other get his rocks off. We went to bed relaxed and somewhat excited as we looked forward to the next day. We slept in a little later than usual the next morning, but we were unable to stay in bed for as long as we actually would have liked. I guess we probably could have, if we were willing to skip the complimentary breakfast, but we were both spending more money than anticipated, so taking advantage of free food was a no-brainer. We discussed cutting back on our spending after we saw the bills for the Halloween costumes, because they cost a lot more than we had first planned. Of course, we could have passed on the costumes, but we felt we’d be able to use them again in the future, and they’d have an even greater impact where we currently lived. More importantly, though, they were going to make this trip more exciting and fun. After we finished eating, we went out to find the final items that we needed for the various offerings. When we returned to the room, Jamie placed everything in the backpack he’d brought along for that purpose. We would take those items with us each evening, along with the notebook containing his notes as we opened each gate in the prescribed sequence. We were more than a little giddy, yet also filled with a slight feeling of dread as we went to meet up with Madam Ida at dusk. After closing the shop and locking up, we rode over to the cemetery and she parked along the street. We walked the rest of the way to the main entrance, which appeared to be the only one unchained. There was a security guard stationed there and Madam Ida greeted him as we approached. “Good evening, Stan. I just have a small, private tour tonight.” Stan merely nodded in response as the three of us passed by, with Jamie and me following Madam Ida into the cemetery as we made our way to the tomb of Marie Laveau. When we arrived at that location she reminded Jamie that the name of the guardian for this gate was Baron LaCroix, and then she guided him through the rest of the process. After he greeted the guardian, Madam Ida urged him to be very formal, polite, and show the proper respect as he made his request. He did as she suggested and followed it by making the appropriate offering, and after Madam Ida confirmed that he’d done well, we headed back to her car. I was slightly confused, because I hadn’t seen the guardian. I asked Jamie about this later and he confirmed that he hadn’t seen anyone either and merely followed Madam Ida’s instructions. I guess the Guede was invisible and only showed itself if angered or upset. By the time we were ready to leave, Jamie was familiar with the process he was to follow, and Madam Ida agreed that he would do fine on his own when he opened the remaining gates. She wouldn’t be with us during those times, so this was the extent of the training he would receive. We’d be totally on our own from this point on. After leaving the cemetery, we returned to Madam Ida’s shop and thanked her again for her help before leaving. Jamie and I then walked back to the hotel, but we were too emotionally drained to do anything more when we reached the room. We opted to merely call it a night, and I think we both fell asleep envisioning the things that had transpired earlier, while at the same time preparing ourselves for what was yet to come. The next five days were merely a repetition of the first night, and I accompanied Jamie while he opened the next five gates. I watched as he went through the same procedure multiple times, and the only changes were that he greeted a new guardian each time and left a different offering at each location. The second gate was guarded by Guede Nibo, the third by Guede Plumaj, the fourth by Baron Cimitiere, the fifth by Guede Babaco, and the sixth by Baron Krimininel, but we never saw any of them either. Jamie displayed the utmost respect each time, and then he would request that the Guede open the gate after he made the required ritualistic offering. These ranged from lighting a specific type of candle or leaving another item behind instead, such as a potion, a charm, or even a spirit. However, these spirits were the alcoholic variety that came in a small bottle. Now that he had completed the process six times, there was just one gate remaining. The only other variation in our schedule during this time was the day we returned to the costume shop to retrieve the items we were going to wear on Halloween. Of course, we also went to different bistros for our meals and we did a variety of other things each evening to help one another get off before we went to sleep. For the most part, though, those days morphed together into one big blur. Seeing Jamie understood the seventh gate was going to be the most important, and possibly the most difficult, he was a bundle of nerves the entire day leading up to the big event. Whenever we left the room to eat he would walk so fast that I nearly had to sprint to keep up with him, and after we returned to the hotel he would pace around the room like a caged animal. If that wasn’t bad enough, one second Jamie would rattle off a series of questions for me, such as: “What time is it, do you remember how to get to cemetery, will you help me find the gate once we get inside, and what’s the name of this guardian?” At other times he would fire off a set of commands that came out of his mouth as one long, run-on sentence. He would direct me to do things like: “Check the map so you know where we’re going, put the backpack by the door so I’ll remember to grab it on the way out, and make sure we have a couple bottles of water to take with us, cuz my mouth gets really dry when I do this.” There were also times when he would sit completely still and remain perfectly quiet as he stared at the floor, wall, or merely into space. During those times I felt he was most likely mentally rehearsing what he was going to do later, but I had no way of knowing this for sure, and I never asked. I didn’t want to disturb his thoughts or take the chance of upsetting him. When the time finally came for us to leave, I made certain we were taking the correct route to the cemetery where the last portal was located. It was another tomb, but this one was at the outer edge of the cemetery, instead of in the interior like the others. Next to the tomb was a towering old tree, which separated that section of the cemetery from the surrounding area. Slowly, Jamie extracted the items he needed from the backpack and began the final step in this lengthy process. I gave him plenty of space so I wouldn’t interfere or inadvertently cause him to stumble. I merely observed as he respectfully greeted Baron Samedi, the final guardian, and made the appropriate offering, but this time his request came at the end. “I respectfully ask you to open the portal the leads into Guinee so my father, Christopher O’Conner, can crossover to this side. I need to speak with him and make amends for how I acted before he died.” Shortly after he finished speaking, the branches on the tree began to sway, slowly at first and then more violently as each second passed. It appeared as if the tree was being affected by a powerful wind, but I couldn’t even detect a mild breeze. After spending several seconds staring up in awe at what was happening above my head, I lowered my gaze to see how Jamie was holding up. Just as I began to focus on him, a form started to materialize between Jamie and the tree. It started out similar to a wisp of fog, growing larger and denser over the next several seconds until I was able to recognize the ghostly features of Jamie’s dad. As the apparition began to move in Jamie’s direction, I took several steps backward, but it wasn’t because I was scared or unnerved. I merely wished to give them total privacy during this unusual reunion. Even though I’d moved away slightly, I never took my eyes off of them and watched their lips move as they spoke to one another. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell from their facial expressions and body language that it affected both of them deeply. After watching this play out for many minutes, Jamie stepped forward and wrapped his arms around his dad’s chest, at least that’s how it appeared. I assumed this meant that everything had gone the way he wanted and they’d both achieved a modicum of closure. I watched for several more minutes as they continued to hold one another and whispered reassuring comments in the other’s ear, but eventually the spectral form of Jamie’s dad began to dissipate. Even after it had vanished completely, Jamie continued to stare in the direction where the last of the mist had disappeared, but he didn’t make any move to rejoin me. I was willing to give him as much time as he needed to absorb what had just transpired until he eventually turned around and began walking in my direction. However, he didn’t stop and surprised me when he wrapped his arms around my chest in a bear hug, just as I’d seen him do to his dad. “Thank you for being here for me. My dad and I had an opportunity that few others will ever experience, and even though he’s dead, we cleared the air about the last time we were together. I know I feel better, and I believe he does as well, so I think it’s time we get the hell out of here.” I merely nodded and walked beside him as we exited the cemetery and started making our way back to the hotel. He was unusually quiet during the journey, although his pace and bearing made him appear upbeat, so I concluded he was satisfied with what had transpired. I think he was also using this opportunity to mentally rehash the conversation he’d just had with his dad’s spirit. As soon as we reached the room, his demeanor totally changed. He was no longer quiet or contemplative and suddenly charged in my direction. Without warning he tackled me and slammed my body on the mattress. “It’s time that I make another payment and demonstrate how much I appreciate you being such a great friend,” he announced as he started removing my clothes. “Ok, but let me do this while you get undressed too.” He nodded, grinned, and got up so he was no longer straddling my body. As soon as I could move, I hurriedly began taking off what I was wearing while he did the same. When we were both naked, Jamie had me lay down on the mattress. I thought this meant we were going to sixty-nine, but he crawled between my legs instead and prepared to suck me off. He didn’t merely take hold of my penis and start bobbing up and down on it as he normally would have. This time was different. Ever so slowly he began to run his tongue across the bulbous head and then he moved lower and licked his way down the length of my shaft. Once he felt he had me sufficiently aroused, he moved lower and gently did the same thing to the sensitive pouch between my legs. He had never done any of these things before, even though I had done them to him, but for some unknown reason he was really getting into it this time. He even sucked my testicles into his mouth one at a time and cautiously moved it around with his tongue. I suddenly felt as if that area of my body was immersed in a warm bath and I was enjoying it immensely. After he did this for a couple of minutes, he allowed my final testicle to slide from between his lips and placed his head over my groin. Without any fanfare, he lowered his mouth and swallowed my shaft, down to the root. As soon as my knob was lodged in his throat, he began nodding up and down on it until my body ached for release. Unable to hold out any longer, I whimpered as the molten juices rose up my shaft and exploded into his gullet. It was by far the best blowjob he had ever given me. After my heart rate slowed to its normal rhythm and I slowly came to my senses, I returned the favor. However, I didn’t go immediately to his groin and started at his nipples instead. I teased each one with my tongue and caused the tiny nubs to stiffen before I placed my lips over it and tenderly added suction. Once I had paid an equal amount of attention to both sides, I moved ever so slowly down his abdomen, kissing every inch of skin as I made my way to his penis. Once there, I repeated every delicate action he had just performed on me, in an effort to give him the same amount of pleasure that I had enjoyed. I backed off a couple of times to delay his release, and this resulted in him having a powerful orgasm. In fact, his semen burst into my throat with such ferocity that I nearly choked. Fortunately, I was able to recover and catch my breath, because it might have been difficult, or even embarrassing to explain what had happened to the paramedics. As soon as Jamie recovered and his head had cleared of the post-orgasmic haze, we took turns showering before we crawled into bed. Jamie didn’t object as I cuddled with him and we both drifted off into a very deep slumber. Jamie forgot to set the alarm on his mobile phone before we turned in, so we didn’t wake up until nearly noon. Even though we had slept for several hours, the cumulative effects of the previous day had left us physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. We might have even remained in bed even longer if our stomachs hadn’t begun to protest, because for the first time since we’d arrived in New Orleans, we failed to take advantage of the complimentary breakfast. Climbing out of bed, we threw on the same clothes we had on the previous day and hurried to the nearest establishment to grab lunch. We stopped at another quaint café that featured local delicacies, and we each selected something off the menu. It wasn’t a fare either of us had ever eaten before, but we found it delicious and quite filling. Stuffed, we waddled back to our room and eventually showered again before changing into fresh garments. Then, we discussed what we were going to do next. “What time should we put on our costumes and head out for the night?” Jamie wanted to know, leaving the decision up to me. “I doubt things will get underway until after dark, so let’s go out for an early dinner first, and that way the alcohol won’t affect us as badly later. As soon as we’ve finished eating, we’ll come back here and change into our costumes, and then we’ll head out for a night of raucous revelry.” We followed this plan precisely and were both pleased with our appearance as we headed down to the hotel lobby on our way to Bourbon Street. In order for you to appreciate how awesome we looked, I’ll describe our costumes in detail. Jamie’s Day of the Day outfit consisted of a pair of red slacks and matching jacket, which he wore over a black dress shirt with the top button left undone. The slacks and jacket had spider web accents woven into the pant legs and sleeves, and there were decorative artificial roses attached to the jacket’s lapels. In addition to those items, he wore a red top hat with more artificial roses lining the right side of the brim, and a white death mask covered his face. There were black circles around both eye sockets and a black spot on the tip of the nose, and those things contrasted nicely with a pair of bright red lips. The overall effect was incredible. My Voodoo Dude costume consisted of black slacks and a 19th century suit jacket that was longer than the equivalent suit jacket of today. Under the jacket was a false vest, and these two areas had several items attached to them. These included a small voodoo doll, a couple of amulets, a few potion bottles, and an assortment of occult symbols and paraphernalia. I also wore a bone necklace that hung down to my waist and pair of fingerless motorcycle gloves on my hands. In addition to those items, I also had a molded, white plastic skull mask and a black top hat. The eyes on the mask were supposed to appear as gaping black holes, and there was a triangular void where the nose should be. Since there was no skin or lips the teeth were visible, giving it an unnerving appearance. The hat was adorned with a black feather and had half-dollar size skull and crossbones on a band that wound around it, just above the brim. In addition to each of those items, I wrapped a pliable, plastic snake around my left arm so the snake’s head extended across my wrist, and I thought this added nicely to the menacing aura. Needless to say, I felt I would give Jamie a run for his money when it came to the best costume of the night. As we made our way to party central, we happened to see Miss Ida as she was locking up her shop for the night. We stopped to say hello, but we had to explain who we were since we didn’t want to remove our masks. She rolled her eyes after examining our outfits, although I wasn’t sure if she had done this out of disgust or grudging admiration, because her lips appeared to curl into a slight smile at the same time. After we thanked her again for her help, we said goodbye and she took off down the street, heading in the opposite direction. Jamie and I were basically strutting while we mingled with the crowd of merrymakers as we made our way along the most famous street in New Orleans. Every so often the procession would stop so we could frequent one of the bars, so it wasn’t long before we’d each downed several drinks. That all came to a screeching halt when we heard screams coming from various locations along both sides of the street. At first we thought this meant someone might be in trouble, but we quickly brushed it off. Instead, we assumed the screams were merely people reacting to someone else’s costume or a prank being played on them, but before long we abandoned that conclusion as well. The screams were quickly becoming more frequent, as well as growing louder, and then we saw a large number of people running away from the areas where the screams were originating. As we attempted to discern the source of the initial disturbances, we spotted several ghostly forms gliding amongst the panicked revelers. I watched in horror as one of the apparitions began strangling one of the partiers in costume, while another ghost was attempting to bash another reveler’s head into the pavement. I spied another specter as it knocked an unwary observer over a balcony, and I heard a woman scream that another spirit had pushed her boyfriend down a flight of stairs. I wasn’t sure what the remainder of spectral forms was up to, although I knew it wasn’t good, so I grabbed Jamie’s arm, spun him around, and began dragging him in the direction of the hotel. We hadn’t gone more than a block before Madam Ida unexpectedly jumped in front of us and blocked our path. “I need to know. Did you follow my instructions to the letter?” she gasped, slightly winded from running around in an effort to find us. “Mostly,” Jamie replied, although I detected a hint of shame, or possibly it was embarrassment in his voice. “What do you mean, mostly?” she screamed in response. “Well, when Drew and I got to the sixth gate I realized that I’d left the offering I was supposed to use there at the fifth gate. It was too late to do anything about it at the time, so I kinda switched the offerings between those two gates.” “And the portal still opened?” “Yes! My father came through and I was able to apologize for how I had acted the last time we were together. It all went fine and we got everything straightened out.” “I’m not sure how that was possible, unless the guardians either didn’t notice the error or they weren’t offended by what you left by mistake. It did create a problem, however, because the portal obviously failed to close once your father returned to the other side.” “So that’s what this is all about?” I asked. “Yes. Typically only the recently deceased are able to pass through the barrier since they haven’t yet acclimated to the fact that they’re deceased. To some extent they realize they are no longer alive, but they can’t resist the urge to go back and observe how their loved ones are holding up. The longer a spirit resides in the world beyond the more difficult it becomes for them to pass through the barrier. However, they can pass through an open portal, and that’s why this is happening now. I suspect a group of evil spirits discovered the opening and crossed over, and now they seem intent on collecting other souls whose time to leave this world has not yet come.” “Is there anything we can do about this? Can we fix it?” Jamie asked since he felt responsible. “I believe so, but I’ll have to go to my shop and collect a few items that I’ll need to pull this off. Once I have everything I need, I’ll go to the cemetery where the seventh gate is located and perform a special ritual to reverse the error. If done correctly, it should summon all of the spirits back to their own realm, and once they are back where they belong, I’ll close the portal so they can’t return.” “Can we help?” Jamie blurted out. He obviously wanted to be part of this process to mitigate the guilt he was feeling. “Yes, the two of you can assist me in gathering the materials I’ll need and help me transport them to the seventh gate. However, with so many people racing back and forth through the streets we won’t be able to drive there and will have to walk.” “No problem. We’re willing to do whatever it takes,” I added to let both of them know I was in this with them. After reaching Madam Ida’s place of business, she scurried around and selected various amulets, potions, and the other items she would need in order to pull this off. She carefully set everything in one of three small buckets she had placed on the floor, and when she was finished she handed one of the buckets to each of us to carry. She also placed a necklace around Jamie’s and my neck and told us that she had placed a charm on it that would help to protect us along the way. As soon as everything was set, we left the shop and began walking at an extremely brisk pace. As we made our way to the cemetery, we skirted around a few individuals currently being attacked by other ghostly forms. Jamie and I wanted to stop and help, but Madam Ida said we didn’t have time. She told us we had a much greater task to perform that would put an end to all of this at once, so we continued on. The cemetery was eerily quiet as we entered and began making our way to the seventh gate. We discovered no other spirits along the way and didn’t detect any other specters emerging from the portal. Those that had already come through were no longer in the area, and this worked to our advantage because we didn’t have to fend them off while Madam Ida attempted to close the portal. She hurried through the preparations and eventually announced that everything was set. Before she began, she directed Jamie and me to wait beside another tomb behind her. Once we were in place, she began muttering a spell that would reverse the situation and return all of the apparitions that had come through the portal in error. Neither Jamie nor I actually saw any of the spirits as they were being pulled back, but we heard what sounded like horrible wails of protest. We also felt the hair on our arms rise, and chills coursed up and down our spines at the same time. I believed these must be signs that the spirits were passing by when suddenly I felt something grab my right arm and shoulder. Jamie was busy staring at the portal and didn’t notice my predicament until I went flying past him. One of the spirits had apparently tried to use me as an anchor so it could remain on this side, but the spell was so powerful that I was dragged along with it. In the blink of an eye I was jerked through the portal, much to Madam Ida’s surprise. I could see the looks of shock and horror etched on her and Jamie’s faces just before they faded from view. I was stunned and had no idea what was going to happen next. I didn’t feel as if I were dead and believed I was merely an unwelcome visitor in a realm in which I didn’t belong. As I looked around to gauge my situation, I noticed this world was drab and colorless before I realized many of its inhabitants were moving in my direction. I was able to make out the features on the faces of each one of these substanceless forms, and they seemed confused as they studied me. That’s when I realized it was probably due to my costume, which I was still wearing. After standing there in an apparent stalemate for what seemed like an eternity, a couple of the apparitions moved closer and reached out to touch me. Before their hands came into contact with my body they yanked their arms back. I wasn’t sure why they’d done this, but after thinking about it briefly I concluded the charmed necklace that Madam Ida had placed around my neck must be keeping them at bay. Since I felt none of them were going to attack or molest me, I began looking around to see if I could spot the portal or another way to escape this predicament. When I didn’t find what I was looking for, I began to wonder if Madam Ida had closed the portal already. If she hadn’t left the portal open, then how would I possibly get back? Suddenly fearing that I was stuck here, I turned to see what the various occupants of this realm where up to. It was difficult to make out more than a few that were closest to me, because their forms seemed to melt into the dreary, monochrome background that surrounded us. This made me wonder if we were in some sort of a building or if this was their entire world surrounded by a single, impenetrable backdrop. I had no idea how long I’d been there before another spectral form began to approach, but I didn’t really pay any attention to it until it spoke. “You don’t belong here.” “No, I don’t, and I didn’t come here willingly. I was dragged by one of the inhabitants of this world who was attempting to use me to keep from being sucked back here.” After I said this, I looked into the face or the specter that addressed me, hoping to see its reaction, and that’s when I recognized who it was. “Mr. O’Conner? It’s me, Drew Fowler. Jamie asked me to come here with him, well not exactly here, but to New Orleans. He didn’t what to come alone when he attempted to make contact with you.” “Yes, I thought I saw you standing behind Jamie while we talked.” “Yes, that was me.” “Then I’ll do my best to help you leave this world if I can. I’m new to this place, but after Jamie summoned me I have some idea where you need to go. Follow me, but stay close so I can protect you from the others.” I did as I was told and followed him through the dimness. It didn’t appear that we were actually going anywhere, because the scenery never seemed to change, but eventually he stopped and turned toward me. “Go through there and you should end up back where you belong.” “Go through where. I don’t see an opening or anything?” “Can’t you see where it is slightly brighter?” “No! It all looks the same to me.” “Then just walk straight ahead and I’ll let you know if you should change direction. I’m sorry, but this is as far as I can go with you.” I trusted that he knew what he was doing and did as he instructed. After what seemed like forever, I emerged into a world that was significantly brighter, although still dark, and recognized the tombs closest to the portal. Jamie raced toward me and wrapped his arms around my body as soon as I emerged. “I thought I’d never see you again,” he blubbered, sobbing like a baby. “And I never thought I’d see you again either,” I responded while returning his embrace. “What was it like? What happened while you were there? How did you manage to get back?” he rattled off in machine gun fashion. “I’ll tell you all about it later, but it was your dad who showed me the way out…” however Madam Ida interrupted our conversation. “Ok, I want the two of you to get behind me while I close the portal. I was tempted to do it earlier, but decided to leave it open as long as I could. I was hoping you might be able to return, and now that you’re with us again I need to do this – and quickly.” “Thanks for leaving the portal open for me, but go ahead and close it now before any of the spirits break out again.” Seeing all of the escaped inhabitants from the other side had been returned, she performed another ritual to close the portal. As soon as she announced the process had been completed, we helped her collect all of the items that hadn’t been consumed, along with any trash from those that had. While we were picking up I overheard Madam Ida muttering to herself. “I’ll have to either stop advising people how to open the gates or stay with them through the entire process.” Jamie didn’t react as if he had heard her comment, and she never admonished him or tried to make him feel bad about the mistake he’d made. She merely led us back to her shop and we walked the entire way in total silence. After we’d returned the buckets containing the leftover supplies and garbage, we thanked Madam Ida again and bid her farewell, and then Jamie and I returned to the hotel alone. When we got back to the room, Jamie quizzed me about my experience. I told him what it was like and what had happened, including when I recognized his dad. As soon as I finished, he told me his side of the story. “I screamed at Madam Ida and begged her to bring you back, but she said she’d never done that before and didn’t have any idea how it might be accomplished. She told me the only thing she could do was leave the portal open a little while longer and pray you could find your way back on your own. I’m glad my dad was there to help you.” “Yeah, me too!” As soon as we finished our discussion, Jamie turned on the television to see if there was any news reports about what had happened. I could sense he was more than a little bothered by the thought he’d been responsible for everything that had happened, including the things we were hearing about now. According to several eyewitness reports, some of the spirits had managed to get as far as the interstate where they caused multiple traffic accidents. It was also being reported that there were fewer than two dozen deaths in total, along with hundreds of people injured seriously enough to require medical attention or hospitalization. Although this was a lot, we were grateful it wasn’t worse. As the evening wore on and after hearing these reports, Jamie started to show signs that he was slipping into a deep depression. I couldn’t stand watching him suffer, so I silently pledged to do everything in my power to make him feel better. I knew he was still fretting about things that had already happened and couldn’t be changed, so I hastily devised a plan to distract him. Without any sign that he was aware of what I was doing, I moved over and started removing his clothing. He allowed me to do this, much like a small child would permit a parent to undress him. I’m not sure but I suspect he might have thought I was just getting him ready for bed, but when I bent over and began working on his manhood, his body stiffened and he spoke. “Not tonight. I’m not in the mood.” “Maybe you don’t think so, but you need this more than ever before. Just relax and let me continue.” He didn’t look convinced, but he laid back and permitted me to do as I wished. It didn’t take long before he became aroused, and gradually started to enjoy my ministrations. After several minutes of giving him my best effort, Jamie blew his wad, and while he was lost in post-orgasmic bliss he fell asleep. I turned off the television and the lamp, and then I slipped into bed beside him. I wrapped my arm around his chest and cuddled him against my body, never letting go. Even though he was sleeping, I’m not sure how restful it was. I had a feeling that he spent the majority of the night mentally reliving the events of the evening, because several times I felt his body jerk and heard him whimper, but as far as I know he never woke up. He and I had already planned to stick around for another day, and I would catch my return flight on Friday. The thing was that I knew Jamie wasn’t scheduled to leave until Saturday and I didn’t want to leave him alone while he was feeling like this. The next morning while he was in the shower, I called the airline and moved my flight back a day so I would be here with him. Fortunately, I was able to arrange this with minimal financial loss, although I would have paid whatever it took, just so I could be here for him. Over the next couple of days we watched several more news reports about what had happened on Halloween night, but the tally of dead and injured only changed slightly from the initial reports. To our surprise, we discovered that Madam Ida and her assistants were being lauded as heroes for the role they played in ending the situation and returning the marauding apparitions. We were also thrilled to learn that the people of New Orleans had written off the events of that night to the holiday, while stating that there was plenty of anecdotal evidence and historical precedent to support this conclusion. Hearing these reports helped to perk Jamie up slightly, even though he knew the truth. He was just relieved that no one was pointing an accusing finger in his direction or laying the blame at his doorstep. In fact, just the opposite was taking place. Even though no one knew our names or anything about us, we were being hailed as the anonymous saviors who worked with Madam Ida to save the city. She never revealed who we were and merely claimed that we had only offered to assist her after we discovered she might be able to end the madness. After having breakfast together on Saturday morning, we returned to our hotel room and collected our suitcases. We had neatly folded and packed our costumes in with the rest of our belongings the night before, so we took our luggage down to the lobby and boarded the shuttle to the airport. I was relieved to discover that Jamie’s flight was scheduled to depart before mine, because I wanted to stay with him as long as possible. When his flight was announced we bid each other a final farewell, but before heading off to his gate he made one final comment. “I’d be willing to bet that after this you’ll never want to hear from me again.” “You’re wrong, because I’d love to keep in touch on a regular basis,” I countered, eliciting a slight grin. “I’d like that too, and I promise I won’t drag you into anything as potentially crazy or dangerous as this again.” I nodded and we hugged one final time before he disappeared from view. Even with the monumental mayhem we’d experienced and my near brush with an early demise, most of the trip had not only been enjoyable, but memorable as well. I was also thrilled that Jamie and I had reconnected and would be getting together again in the future – just not on Halloween. I was lost in my thoughts as I made my way to the gate to catch my flight when my reverie was suddenly interrupted by a man going in the opposite direction. “Thank you for helping my son. You’re a good friend.” I was momentarily startled and confused, because I wasn’t sure if he was speaking to me. As I regained my wits, I glanced around to see if possibly his comment had been meant for someone else, but there was no one else in sight. Since I hadn’t noticed his face, I turned to see if he was still in the area and realized he was looking back at me as he continued walking. As I glanced up at his face my mouth dropped open, because the man looked just like Jamie’s dad, but how could that be? I was about to run after him, thinking I must be mistaken and wanting to know who he was, but he’d disappeared from sight. Was he just a figment of my imagination, or had it really been Jamie’s dad? Had he been able to cross through the barrier again, and if so, was he the only one? THE END.
  6. Bill W

    Chapter 2 - The Adjustment Period

    Thank you for the feedback and I'm glad you're enjoying it.
  7. Bill W

    Chapter 3 - Getting To Know You

    Yes, but hopefully everything works out.
  8. Yes, peers can play a huge role in decisions.
  9. Bill W

    Chapter 7 - First Contact

    Thank you. I hope it inspires any parent who might happen across this chapter.
  10. Bill W

    Chapter 9 - The Camp-Out

    You'll find that Josh has quite a repertoire of spooky stories.
  11. I agree, but it makes an interesting story.
  12. Bill W

    Chapter 1

    Thanks, Wayne. Bullying is a thing of the past and the present, we can only hope that it will not be part of the future.
  13. Bill W


    Thanks, Caz. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
  14. Bill W

    An Evening of Revelations

    Thanks for the compliment, but read on McDuff. I think he was a bit overwhelmed, but you'll see what happens when he get to his home and confronts his parents. I hope you continue to enjoy this story.
  15. Bill W

    Chapter 20 - A Close Call

    You're welcome, Valhalla, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope you read more and enjoy those as well.
  16. Bill W

    A Close-knit Family

    I appreciate your positive feedback, but as of the moment I don't have any plans for writing another installment. This has gone on much longer than I anticipated, and it could potentially go on forever, but I don't know if I have the will or stamina to write another Castaway book. Thanks for asking, though.
  17. Bill W

    Chapter 2

    Thanks for the feedback and I'm glad you enjoyed this.
  18. Bill W

    Chapter 1

    Yes, I agree. It's too bad that bullies have so much power and effect on others. Thanks for the comment.
  19. Bill W

    A Time of Uncertainty

    That has been changing, now that gay marriage is legal in the USA.
  20. Bill W

    A Close-knit Family

    Thanks for the feedback, Andre. I'm glad the story touched you, but I'm not sure there will be another installment.
  21. Bill W


    Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed this story.
  22. Bill W

    Hoppy Bortday: Arpeggio!!!!

    Happy Birthday, Lacey! I hope you have a great one and may you enjoy many, many more.
  23. Bill W


    Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great one and may you enjoy many, many more.
  24. Bill W

    The Naked and the Dead

    Christopher Cordes was never able to celebrate Halloween because his mom thought it was devil worship. She would tell her son the story about several boys who'd gone missing on Halloween when she was younger, so when Chris was older, he decided to find out if that story was true. He started his own investigation, but what did he find? Was the story true, or had she just made it all up. Chris was shocked by what he discovered.
  25. Bill W

    Chapter 1

    Halloween has never been a very big deal for me, because my mom wouldn't let me celebrate it when I was younger. She was a devoutly religious person and claimed that Halloween was a form of devil worship, so she never allowed me to do the same things as the other kids. She even sent the following note to my school when I was in Kindergarten. "To the principal, teachers, and staff at Eastwood Elementary. Please be advised that I do not want you to include Christopher Cordes in Halloween activities, parties, or anything else related to that vulgar holiday. Thank you, Sarah Cordes." This meant that every year when the other students were getting ready to dress up, enjoy treats, and play games, I'd be sent to the principal's office. I'd end up sitting in silence while I watched the secretary work, and I would only return to the classroom when the party ended. This caused me to not only feel horrible, but I would also become miserable the more I thought about missing out on doing those things with my classmates. It also signaled to the other students that I was different, so I found myself ostracized by my peers and they would refuse to include me in other activities as well. The predicament didn't have anything to do with me personally, such as my looks, because I had people tell me before that I was cute. It wasn't because of the way I acted either. It was solely due to the fact that early in the school year the other students realized that I couldn't participate in the same things they did, so they thought I was weird. I had my mom to thank for that. She was convinced that she was right about Halloween being the work of the devil, because when she was growing up a series of disappearances occurred on that holiday. Over the course of twenty-five years several young boys had gone missing on Halloween night, although no one connected their disappearances at the time. This was due to the fact that it didn't happen every Halloween and the boys who disappeared didn't all live in the same community. When someone finally realized there might be a connection and looked at the cases more closely, they noticed there were several common factors, so it was likely they were connected. The relevant factors included things such as the boys' ages, because they were all between ten and twelve-years-old at the time of their disappearance. They also went missing on Halloween, and each one lived within a sixty mile radius around where I grew up. Unfortunately, none of the cases were solved and none of the boys were ever seen or heard from again. Whenever I'd beg my mom to let me dress up and go out like all of the other kids, she would repeat the story of what happened to those boys and insist that the same thing would happen to me if I disobeyed. Being young at the time, the thought of something similar happening scared the crap out of me, so I quit trying to get her to change her mind. However, it didn't prevent me from wishing that I wasn't the one who was forced to be different from everyone else. Over the years that followed, I gradually accepted my fate and it became easier to ignore what everyone else was doing each year as we reached the end of October. This changed, however, when I went to college and got away from my mother. I was amazed when I saw the other college students dressing up and making a big deal out of Halloween too, although they usually celebrated in bars or at private parties. Not only that, but the town held a parade for the kids, and seeing them marching down the street in costumes rekindled memories of what I'd missed while growing up. It also reminded me of the story my mother used to tell me, and that's when I began to wonder if it was true, or if she'd just made it up to keep me from begging to celebrate like the other children. I decided to research her allegations to see if those things had actually occurred. In an effort to find the answers I was looking for, I went to the college library to see if I could find any information about the disappearances, but I was unable to find anything relating to those cases. Since the disappearances had occurred before the internet came into use, I was unable to find anything online either. When I asked the librarian what else I could try to find information about this, she suggested that I go to the public library in town and check out the microfiche copies of the local newspaper from that time period. I thought her idea sounded as if it might be the only way I could find what I was looking for, so on Saturday I went there to see what I could discover. "Can you help me?" I asked the woman behind the front desk. "I was told I should ask about any newspaper articles you might have on microfish." "It's pronounced microfiche, and you'll have to go to the reference section. You'll find someone there who will be able to assist you." I was slightly embarrassed about her correcting my mispronunciation of the word, because I had thought the woman at the college library had mispronounced the word. It was an older technology that I was unfamiliar with, so I assumed she either had an accent or a speech impediment, but it looks like I was wrong. However, I listened as she directed me on how to get to that area, and I headed to the location and found the person on duty. After I explained what I was looking for and the approximate years involved, he explained that they used microfilm, which was stored on rolls, as opposed to microfiche, which is stored on cards. He then led me over to a cabinet filled with various rolls, but they appeared quite different from the film that had been used to shoot a movie. This film contained miniature copies of newspaper pages, and each roll was approximately four inches (10 cm) in diameter, and about an inch (2.5 cm) in width. Once he scanned the labels and found the rolls I needed, he showed me how to load them onto a machine that would allow me to view the contents. "I think I remember something about this," he said as he was helping me get set up. "I believe the boys were all pre-teens when they went missing, but no one connected their disappearances until it was too late. I remember reading that the first couple of boys were thought to have run away, and it was suspected that another one might have drown in the abandoned quarry. I vaguely remember that someone living in the area had said he'd seen a boy matching that description hanging around out there on the same day the boy vanished, but they never found a body. No one came forward with any ideas about what might have happened to the other boys until the connection was finally made, but like I said, that was too late. Yes, here's one of the articles now." We both read the information provided, which was quite detailed. It gave the name and age of the missing boy, where this happened, his physical description, what he was wearing when last seen, and it also included his photo. The article indicated that he had been out with a group of his friends for most of the night, but then he left them to return home. No one saw him after that, and I guess eventually the case went cold. To my amazement, the man assisting me stayed the entire time and helped me look through multiple rolls of microfilm. It took a few hours, seeing we had a period of twenty-five years to cover, but he said he had nothing else to do and stayed with me. The good thing was that we only had to look at newspapers for the first couple of weeks of November in each of those years. "The boys didn't all live here, so why were these cases printed in the local newspaper?" "Back then there wasn't an Amber alert system to get the information out to the public, so the parents or law enforcement officials would do other things. Besides hanging flyers close to where the boy lived, they would also send information to all of the newspapers in the surrounding area. The newspaper would print the story hoping that someone might recognize the kid and supply a tip relating to his whereabouts, but it didn't seem to happen with these cases." "Yes, it makes me feel awful that they were never found." I took notes as I read each of the articles, and by the time we'd finished I had a great deal of information on the missing boys. There had been eight in total, and each one went missing after he left his house to go trick-or-treating. Some had been with others at some point, but the rest were merely spotted from time to time as they went from house-to-house. I studied the photos that each boy's parents had given the newspaper to include with the article, and my initial reaction was that they were all quite handsome. This realization gave me a bad feeling about what might have happened to them, seeing they were never seen again. I had done all I could for now and had a list of their names, ages, the year they went missing, and their physical descriptions. I wanted to learn more about them now, but what was I going to do? This all took place long before I was even born, so I doubted I could find any witnesses or much more information, other than what I'd gleaned from the newspaper articles. I guess I had reached a dead end, so to speak. Seeing I couldn't think of a way to get more information, I packed up my notes in case I came up with more details or thought of another way to attack the problem at a later date. I didn't think of it again until after I'd graduated from college and had returned to my hometown. I was one of the fortunate ones and landed a job with a local business, and I was also lucky that I hit it off with one of my male co-workers, a guy named Scott Halliwell. Like me, he had been sort of an outcast when he was younger, so we had quite a bit in common. I found that I enjoyed having someone I could relate to and confide in, and we started spending more and more time together. We would mostly just talk about our common interests and similar experiences while growing up, and occasionally we would go out to eat or just stop to have a few beers. This went on for over a year, and I had just turned the calendar from September to October again when Scott asked me a question. "I hear a decent Haunted House has been set up at the old mall, and I was told it's pretty scary. Do you think you might want to go there and check it out?" "Gee, I don't know," I answered, and then I noticed the disappointed expression on Scott's face. "I've never done anything like that before, but what the hell. I'm willing to give it a try." His face suddenly broke into a smile. "How about going with me this Saturday then? We can go out to eat first and have a couple of beers, and that should be enough to build up our courage." Scott laughed maniacally after saying this. "Or it might just open us up to wetting ourselves or crapping our pants, seeing we would have just filled up." "Yeah, good point, so maybe you'd better wear Depends when we do this." Once again he released another sinister laugh. "No matter how bad it is, it can't be any worse than this case I've been trying to solve." "What case is that?" I then explained about the disappearing boys and my inability to find any more information about what had happened to them. "Hey, maybe you should try using a Ouija board then." "What the heck is that?" "It's a device spiritualists use to contact people who have died." "Really? I didn't know there was such a thing. Does it work?" "My great-great-grandparents thought it did, because they used one to contact loved ones who had passed away. I was told they made contact with my great-great-grandmother's brother who'd been killed in World War I, and they also got in touch with their son who'd died in a farm accident when he was sixteen." "So you think I might be able to contact some of those boys?" "It couldn't hurt to try, and maybe you'll make a connection." "But I don't have one of those things. Hell, I wouldn't even know where to find one or how to use it." "Don't worry. I can help you with that, because I've got the Ouija board they used. It's been passed down through the generations and I know how to use it too." "Ok, I'm willing to try anything at this point, but I doubt it will work." "You can't think like that or it won't work. You've got to believe this will do what you want or the spirits won't come through." "Let me look up information about it online and I'll check it out first. If I'm convinced it might do what I'm looking for, then we'll get together and give it a try. How do you spell it?" "Do you know how to spell the French word for yes?" "You mean oui? O-u-i?" "Yes. Just add j-a to the end. That's the German word for yes too, but the Germans pronounce it 'yhah', but in this case it's pronounced 'juh' or 'jee'." "Ok, I guess I can remember that. I'll check it out before we meet up on Saturday, and then I'll let you know what I've decided." I did quite a bit of research over the next couple of days, including Saturday morning. I found articles that made fun of the Ouija board, but I also found articles from people who were convinced that they'd made contact with deceased individuals. There were also comments about the possibility of accidentally contacting demons or evil spirits instead, and that scared me a little, but I was still willing to give it a try. I was ready to give Scott my answer when we met up later. At 6:00 I drove over to the restaurant where we'd agreed to meet, and I found him sitting at the bar. We each had a beer before going out to be seated, and then we talked while we waited for our meals to be delivered. "I think I've read enough to convince myself that this is going to work, so when do you want to do it?" "Have you got any plans for tomorrow?" "No. My calendar is clear." "Then why don't you come over to my apartment at 1:00 and we'll do it then." "Ok, that sounds good." We had a couple more beers with our meals, and then I followed Scott over to where the Haunted House had been set up. I had no idea what to expect, other than the rough idea Scott had given me, and shortly after we entered I wished I'd followed his advice and wore Depends. I knew he'd just been joking when he made that comment, but there were so many scary things in the Haunted House that I probably did wet myself a little. It all began when a scarecrow carrying a scythe attacked us as we walked through the door. He swung the scythe at us and I thought he was either going to decapitate me or skewer my chest with the implement. It even came into contact with my chest, and that's when I realized the blade was made of rubber, but that was only the first time I found myself badly frightened. As we made our way through the Haunted House, we encountered a variety of other scary characters with different weapons, and still others in incredibly frightening situations. We also found ourselves in rooms filled with unspeakable gore, which included dismembered bodies, and there were other characters that had nothing to do with humans. These included incredibly realistic looking monsters and space aliens, and the fact that we weren't expecting them made it even more alarming. There were also devices that we had to either pass through or cross over, and I was afraid I'd get killed as I moved through them or they would collapse under our weight as we made our way to the other side. It didn't happen, but the thought that it might was what scared me. There were also a ton of creepy critters, either real or simulated, and animated devices that came at us suddenly. Those items would either make loud noises as they rushed in our direction, or they would suddenly light up, catching us off guard. No matter which way they worked, those devices always caused us to jump away in fright. I could tell that Scott was thoroughly enjoying himself, but it was going to take some time before I'd be able to look back at this with any appreciation for what I'd just experienced. As soon as we exited the building, Scott asked a question. "So what did you think of it?" "I don't believe I've ever been frightened as badly or as often as I was when going through there." "Yeah, it was great, wasn't it?" "That's not exactly how I would have described it, at least not yet, but I'll give you a better evaluation after I've had a chance to consider everything, once I've calmed down." Since that was all we were planning to do, we got in our cars and went our separate ways. During the drive home, and even after I got back to the apartment, images of the things I'd seen kept popping into my mind. I have to admit that I also had trouble falling asleep later, because every time I closed my eyes a vision of one of the attractions that had scared me earlier would suddenly overtake my brain. I even endured a couple of very unsettling dreams, or should I say nightmares? But regardless of those problems, I somehow managed to get enough rest so I wasn't too tired to go over to meet up with Scott again the following day. He had everything set up when I got there, and he took time to explain it to me before we started. "This is one of the oldest boards you'll probably ever see, so it's also very simple in its design. Some later boards will have more decorations in the corners or around the edges, but this one has everything we'll need." I quickly examined the board to become familiar with it. There was an image of the sun in the upper left hand corner, a crescent moon and a star in the right hand corner, and stars in both of the lower corners. Next to the sun was the word 'yes', and next to the crescent moon was the word 'no'. At the top center of the board were two arcs containing the letters of the alphabet, and the top arc went from A to M, while the lower one went from N to Z. Below them was a small gap and then a straight line of numbers from 1 to 0, and below that was the phrase 'good bye'. "This is what we'll use to receive answers from the spirits," Scott stated as he placed a triangular device on the Ouija board. It had a hole about the size of a quarter at one end. "It's called a planchette, or pointer, and we're each going to place the fingers of both hands on one side of it before you ask a question. Please don't try to push the planchette around, because it will move on its own if we make contact with the spirits. Just be respectful of them, or things can go terribly wrong." "Ok, so what do we do now?" "We first need to put something silver on the board to repel any evil spirits." Scott and I both reached into our pockets at this point, and I pulled out a quarter that I placed on the image of the sun. Scott came up with a silver chain that he placed over the crescent moon. "Ok, that should do it, so lets get started." "What am I supposed to say?" "Just announce who you want to make contact with, and then ask your question." He then placed the planchette in the open area between the letters and numbers and we positioned our fingers on it. "I want to make contact with any of the boys who disappeared on Halloween in this area about forty or fifty years ago. Are any of you here with us?" I expected the pointer to start moving but nothing happened. "Did I do something wrong?" "No, it sometimes takes a few minutes before we get a response. I think the spirits want to check us out first, to see if this is a serious contact or if we're just playing games and doing this for fun." "No, this is serious and I'd like to find out more about the boys who disappeared. Are any of you here with us?" I waited a couple of minutes and was just about ready to give up when the planchette started to move. It slid to the top of the board and didn't stop until the hole was over the word 'yes'. I was shocked and elated at the same time. "Which boy are you?" Slowly the planchette began to move again and eventually settled over the following letters: V-I-N-C-E. "So you're Vince Rumsey?" The planchette moved to the word 'yes' again. He was the fifth boy who had gone missing and one of the twelve-year-olds. "Would you please go to the K if you were kidnapped, or A if you had an accident?" The pointer began to move again and settled over the K. "Do you know who did this?" I thought the planchette was moving toward the word yes, but it suddenly stopped over the following letters: D-E-K-E. It was an unusual name, so I thought it might turn out to be a really good clue. "Did he harm you?" Once again, the pointer moved until it hovered over the word 'yes'. "Do you know where he took you?" The pointer slid across the board and settled over the word 'no' this time. "Are the other boys here as well, because I'd like to talk to them too?" The planchette moved across the board again and came to a stop over 'yes'. "I'd like to talk to the one of the others, so if any of you are willing, would you tell me your name?" Over the course of the next couple of hours we heard from Mike Maynard, an eleven-year-old, Danny Coutts, who was ten at the time, Jamie Hopko, eleven, Josh Becker, ten, Tommy Hawes, eleven, and Steven James, who was also eleven. They gave me the same answers that I'd received from Vince, but none of them knew where they'd been taken. That all changed when we made contact with the final boy, a twelve-year-old named Peter Simek. He was the only boy who lived in the same town as me and had gone missing, and he was the fourth boy to disappear. "Do you know where you were taken?" The planchette began to move again and eventually settled over the following letters: Q-U-A-R-R-Y-R-D. "What kind of word is that?" Scott wondered, thinking it was all one word. "I believe he's telling us he was taken to Quarry Road. That's interesting, because there was a report that he was seen in the vicinity of the old quarry before he disappeared. I think I need to go back to the library so I can check out that article again, because I think it gave the name of the guy who'd mentioned seeing him. Do you think it's open today?" "Yeah, I believe it's open until 6:00." "Then I'll see you tomorrow at work, because I'm going there to look up the information." "Wait! You can't just leave a session open. You have to thank the spirits for their help and then say goodbye. That's why it's written on the board to remind you." "Oh, ok. I didn't know," I said taking my seat again. "I want to thank the spirit of each boy for helping me, and I'm hoping that I can solve the mystery of what happened to you. I'm doing this so it will bring you some peace. Goodbye." Scott said goodbye as well, and then I grabbed my notes and bolted out of there. I drove directly to the library, grabbed my notes, and rushed inside. When I got back to the reference area, I headed to the cabinet with the rolls of microfilm. "I see you've returned," a voice said behind me. "I'm surprised you're here today," I stated when I noticed it was the same guy who'd helped me before. "I only work on the weekend, since I'm semi-retired, and I'm here both days. May I help you with something?" "Yes, I need to check something out," I answered, and then I told him the dates of the newspapers I was looking for. He retrieved the roll for me and set it up on the machine, and then he let me scroll through it until I found what I was looking for. I was right. There was a name in the article of the guy who said he'd seen a boy matching Peter's description. The man's name was Deke Johansen. "Thanks, I've found what I was looking for," I said as I grabbed my notes and left the library. This was all starting to come together. Some of the boys had confirmed that the person who had abducted them was named Deke, and the supposed witness was named Deke Johansen. Since Deke is such an unusual name, chances are that he's one and the same person. I drove over to the Sheriff's Department to see if I could get any information from them, since the newspaper article had stated they were the ones investigating the disappearance at the time. I went up to the front desk and told the deputy on duty what I needed. "I'm looking into a cold case from about forty years ago. Is there a chance that you might still have records relating to the case?" I then gave him Peter's name and the date he went missing. "We might have something in storage, because back then everything would have been recorded on paper, stored in a folder, and then placed in a box with other folders from the same period. It would probably take some time to locate it, if it's still in readable condition, but you might want to come back tomorrow and speak with the Sheriff. He's worked for the department for nearly fifty years, so he might even remember something about this case." "Thanks, I'll do that." My head was spinning as I went back to my apartment. Could this possibly help to solve the case, or is it just a coincidence? I doubted there would be two men named Deke living in this area, unless they were father and son, but even that would provide a connection to who might have done this. I was excited and couldn't wait to speak with the Sheriff now. I was bouncing around the apartment for the rest of the day, convinced that I might have the answer to a dilemma that had baffled the authorities for more than four decades. I was so excited that it took quite a while for me to fall asleep that evening, and then I dreamt about the boys and pictured each one vividly, since I'd basically memorized what they looked like from their photos. I was still fairly tired when the alarm went off, but I got ready and headed in to work. Scott came over when he saw me enter the office. "Man, you look awful. Is something wrong?" "I just had a rough night and didn't get much sleep." "Maybe you should take the day off then. Go tell the boss that you're sick and need to go home." "Yeah, you might be right." Without hesitating, I walked over to the boss's office and knocked on the door. "Come in, Chris. Damn, you don't look good. What's wrong?" "I'm not feeling well and didn't get much sleep last night. Would you mind if I take a sick day?" "No, go home. You won't be much help around here in the condition you're in now, so go home and take care of yourself. I'll see you tomorrow." "Ok, and thanks." I thought about going home, but I wouldn't be able to rest until I got some answers, so I drove directly to the Sheriff's Department. I asked the deputy at the front desk if I could speak with the Sheriff, and he called to ask if he was available. "He said to send you back," he stated, and then he directed me to the appropriate office. "Come in. You must be the guy who stopped by yesterday and asked about an old case of mine. I'd only been on the force a couple of years when that kid went missing, and it still bugs me to this day. What is it that you want to know?" "I've come to believe that a guy named Deke was responsible, and I saw in an old newspaper article that a Deke Johansen had reported seeing a boy near the quarry. Is it possible they could be the same person?" "I've only heard of one guy in these parts named Deke, so it's very likely, but where did you get your information that he was involved?" "You might not believe me if I told you," I answered as the blood rushed to my face. "My mother used to tell me about this case when I was growing up and it always fascinated me, so recently I started investigating to see if it was true. A friend suggested that I try using a Ouija board to get answers, and we did that yesterday. I think we actually made contact with all eight of the missing boys, and they gave me this information." "I'll agree your methods are quite unusual, but I won't dismiss your findings out of hand. My grandparents were into using the Ouija board too, and they were totally convinced that it worked. They even let me sit in on a couple of sessions with them when I was a young teen. So what did you learn?" "The boys all confirmed they were kidnapped and nearly all of them said the guy's name was Deke. When I asked if they knew where they'd been taken, only Peter Simek knew, and he spelled out Quarry Road." "That's very interesting, since Johansen was the one who said he'd seen a boy matching Peter's description near the old quarry, but my partner and I could never figure out what the boy would have been doing out there. He didn't live close by and wouldn't have gone trick-or-treating in that area, since there weren't any houses around there. Other than Deke, who owned a small farm on Quarry Road, there was only one other house that I know of, and it was at the other end of the road. When we questioned him about what he'd been doing when he spotted the boy, Deke said he was just driving home at the time." "I don't think that was the case." "Neither did we, although we couldn't find anything to tie him to the case, other than his report of seeing the boy." "So you suspected him?" "To a limited extent. My partner and I wondered if he'd reported seeing the boy just to throw us off the scent, but like I said, we had nothing to tie him to the disappearance." "Did he live far from there?" "His farm was a mile or two farther down the road, on the opposite side from the quarry. He was sort of an oddball, even back then, because he was basically self sufficient. He had his own garden where he grew the vegetables he ate, and he had a few apple trees and some blueberry bushes. He also picked the strawberries that grew wild out in the fields. "Deke also raised animals that he slaughtered for meat," the Sheriff continued, "and he hunted. He had a couple of cows that he milked and chickens that laid eggs, and he would occasionally eat one of them too. He only came into town when he needed something he couldn't provide for himself, and that's another reason we were interested in what he'd been up to when he was out driving. He merely gave us some lame excuse that he took the truck out for a spin to charge the battery, but it was good enough that we couldn't shake his alibi." "Is he still alive?" "No, he died a few years after all of this happened. In fact, it was probably about three or four years after the last boy disappeared. He was driving his old truck over the back roads to Culver City, although we had no idea why he might have been going there, and he was killed in an accident. It was believed it had happened around dusk, because the truck's headlights were in the 'on' position, and we assume he swerved to miss a deer or something else in the road. From the rubber left on the pavement, it appeared that he lost control of his truck, went over the embankment, and crashed into a tree. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt at the time and was thrown into the windshield. It was believed he died instantly from a crushed skull and broken neck." "Do you know exactly when this happened? Do you know the date?" "I'm not sure when the accident occurred, because no one saw it, and the truck wasn't even spotted until deer season. A couple of hunters discovered it on their way into the woods, and after the investigating officers recovered his I.D., they called us to notify his next of kin. The trouble was, he didn't have any." "So you're saying this might have happened on Halloween?" "I imagine that's possible, but the coroner couldn't come up with an exact time of death." "In that case, I'll bet he was out looking for another boy, because I'm convinced he did this. Does anyone live on his farm now?" "No, the place has been abandon ever since he died. I believe his old house and the barn might still be there, although I'm sure they're in pretty bad shape by now if they're still standing." "Ok, thanks for your help. I might drive out there sometime just to see where he lived." "Just drive carefully, because there are numerous animals out that way. There isn't much traffic, so they don't watch for cars when they cross. The noise might scare them, or headlights after dark, but you should still be careful out there." "Ok, I'll remember that." I thought about going out there immediately, but since I told the boss I was going home sick, I didn't want to push my luck. I decided to do it on the weekend instead, and maybe I'd ask Scott to join me. I went home, got undressed, and hopped into bed. My mind was still reeling from everything I'd just learned, and I was thinking about it as I fell asleep. I slept for three hours and awoke much more refreshed than I was when I went to work earlier. I spent the rest of the day thinking about everything I had learned so far, as well as thinking about what I might do next, in order to uncover more of the truth. I did that until I went to bed, which was later than usual because of the nap I'd taken earlier, but I still managed to get a little more sleep and was in much better shape when I went in to work the next morning. Scott came over to my cubicle and asked how I was feeling, and I merely told him I was doing much better today and would fill him in about it on the weekend. My boss also told me I looked much better and that he was glad I'd taken the day off, because it seemed to have had a dramatic effect. I didn't think he was insinuating anything and was merely grateful that I was feeling better. The rest of the week progressed as it normally would, and then on Friday Scott asked me to stop at the local sports bar and have a couple of beers with him before we went home for the night. I agreed, and we chatted as we drank our beer. "After I left work sick the other day, I drove over to talk to the Sheriff, to see if he had any more information about the case. Incredibly, he was just starting out as a deputy when he and his partner were assigned the case, which at the time was merely a missing person." I then went on to explain everything I had learned. "So are you done trying to figure this out now?" "No way! I'm not stopping until I get to the bottom of this and discover what happened to those boys. Tomorrow I'm planning to drive out to the farm so I can see where the guy used to live. Would you like to join me?" "Yeah. Why not? It might be interesting to see this place." We finished our beer and had another before we headed home. Before we parted ways, however, I told Scott that I'd drive over and pick him up at 9:00, and then we'd head out to the farm. As I was going through my usual routine that night, I was very excited about driving out to Johansen's old farm the next day. I didn't anticipate that I would find anything, but I wanted to see what those boys had seen after they were abducted, because I thought it would help me better appreciate how they felt. I went to bed looking forward to driving out there. I woke up early and flew through my morning ritual, which meant I finished so quickly that I had to kill an hour before it was time to go over to pick up Scott. I tried everything I could think of to pass the time, such as listening to music, watching a morning news program, and I even tried to read some articles online, but nothing worked. I merely ended up pacing around the apartment until it was time to leave, and that's when I finally started to calm down, because I was finally going to do this. Scott had obviously been watching for me out the window, because he opened his door as I was pulling into a parking space. He was all smiles as he hopped into the passenger's seat and asked a question. "Do you know the way there?" "Yes, I've already punched in our destination, so now I just have to follow the directions to get there." We were off, and we talked about the things we'd learned when we'd used the Ouija board, along with discussing what I was hoping to find when we got to the farm. I was a nervous wreck when we finally arrived at Quarry Road and I made the turn onto it. I slowed down when we reached the old quarry, but we weren't able to see much and I didn't want to take the time to check it out now, so we drove on. I wasn't sure how much farther we'd have to go, because the only thing I could punch into the GPS was the name of the road. "Keep your eyes open and see if you spot anything on your side," I told Scott. "The Sheriff said his place was a mile or two beyond the quarry, and I'm hoping we can see something so we'll know when to stop." "Ok, will do." I drove slowly from that point on, but it wasn't merely because I didn't want to miss the place. We were on a narrow, winding country road that was in desperate need of resurfacing, so I had to watch the road for potholes. I had to depend on Scott to find the place, but after a while I thought we might have already passed it and I'd have to turn around and go back. I felt as if we'd gone farther than we should have, but just as I was about to suggest the idea to Scott, he spoke up. "I see a building, so this must be the place." I came to a stop and looked out the windshield to see if I could spot what he saw. I wasn't sure, but I suspected the structure was the barn the Sheriff had mentioned, so I looked for a place to pull over and park. I didn't want to just stop along the side of the road, since it was narrow and I was worried about getting sideswiped if another vehicle were to drive by. Eventually, I spotted what appeared to have been the original dirt driveway, and although it was somewhat overgrown, I pulled into it, stopped the car, and we got out. "You go wherever you want and I'll follow," Scott said once we were both standing in front of the car. I began to walk up the driveway, unsure as to whether it was going to lead to the house or the barn. The area was badly overgrown with weeds, bushes, and even a few trees that had probably sprouted up since the place had been abandoned, but we plodded on. After walking about a hundred yards (91.5 m) the driveway suddenly split. I assumed that one fork was leading to the house and the other to the barn, so I randomly chose to go to the right, not knowing where it would lead me. After traveling about another 30 yards (27.5 m) I found myself standing in front of a dilapidated two-story house. "Man, this place is creepy," Scott stated as we both stared at the building. Most of the paint had peeled off or faded away long before we got there, so we were looking at the bare, weathered wood that had been used to construct it. The windows were all broken out as well, leaving only large holes in the exterior, and the front door was barely hanging on its hinges. As I glanced through the windows on the upper floor, I noticed there appeared to holes in the roof and it looked as if it might possibly collapse at any moment. "Do you think we should go inside?" Scott asked. "Nah, it doesn't look safe. I'm not sure if there's a cellar, so even just walking inside could be dangerous, because we might possibly fall through the floor and into the cellar, if there is one. I wouldn't trust the stairs leading up to the second floor either, so we'll just walk around outside before going over to check out the barn." He was fine with my suggestion, so we carefully walked around the perimeter of the house to see if there was anything more to find. When we got to the right side of the house, we found an old stone well, and across from it was another door leading into the house, probably going into the kitchen. When we got around to the back, I spotted an outhouse that was barely still standing in the far corner of what used to be the yard. It was about ten yards (9.1 m) from the back door, presumably so the smell wouldn't filter into the main structure. "It would appear that Johansen didn't have indoor plumbing. Being this far out I doubt he had electricity or any of the other amenities you'd find in most homes, such as a telephone and television," I observed. "And you said the Sheriff told you the guy grew his own crops, raised animals, and hunted for food, so he must have lived one hell of a hard life." "Yes, and it makes me wonder how long the boys had to endure the same things after he'd kidnapped them?" Once we got back to the front of the house again, I decided to check out the barn next, so we headed down the driveway and took the other fork. The barn was in the same basic state of disrepair as the house, so we merely looked through the openings to see as much as we could. We walked around the outside of the barn, and when we got to the far side we found a rotting wooden box-like frame with a makeshift door fastened to the top. There were several holes in the rotting wood, so we looked through them and noticed there were stairs leading downward. "I wonder what this was used for?" I mused. "My guess would be that it's either a root cellar or a cold cellar to store food so it would last longer," Scott answered. "It could also be a storm shelter, meaning a place where he would go during a really bad weather disturbance." "I just hope it wasn't where he temporarily kept the boys." "Yeah, I didn't think of that, but it might have been used for that too." The thought that the boys could have been kept there sent chills down my spine and caused me to shudder, so I decided it was time to leave. We'd seen everything we could safely, and now it was time to go home. Scott and I returned to the car and I carefully backed out of the driveway and onto the road, and then we made the return trip back to our apartments. "Man, that place was really isolated," Scott observed as we turned off of Quarry Road. "We didn't pass anything that appeared to be another house or farm on the way there, and it makes me wonder if we'd have found anything else if we drove past his place either." "I think the Sheriff said there might have been one other place, but it would have been at the far end of this road. I can see why Deke felt it would be safe to grab those boys and take them there, because I doubt if anyone else would have ever discovered them." "Yeah, you're probably right." After I dropped Scott off and thanked him for going with me, I went back to my apartment to think about everything we'd just seen. My first thought was whether Johansen had kept the boys in the house, the barn, or in that underground cellar during the time he kept them alive. I could only imagine what the boys had experienced and what thoughts were going through their minds. They must have felt absolutely helpless. When I went to sleep later, I found myself dreaming that I was one of the boys, and I experienced many of the same things I imagined they had gone through. From the looks of my bed when I woke up, I must have tossed and turned the entire night, because it looked as if a tornado had gone through there. Not only were the blankets falling off the foot of the bed, but the sheets were totally drenched, because it appeared that I'd broken out in a cold sweat sometime during the night. After removing the bedding and leaving the mattress bare so it would dry, I stripped off what I'd been wearing and headed to the bathroom to shower. I felt that I not only needed to clean off the sweat, but I wanted to wash off the things I'd experienced during my dreams as well. I had watched and felt that creep removing my clothing and exploring my body. I was also able to smell his foul breath and felt the rough calluses on his hands as they touched my bare skin, and it made me feel dirty. I was determined to wash off as much of that filth as I could, even though it really hadn't happened. However, I still didn't feel clean when I finished my shower, but I wasn't about to stay in there all day long, so I got out, dried off, and got dressed before heading out to the kitchen to fix something to eat. I spent the rest of Sunday mentally going over my dreams, along with what I'd seen during my visit to the farm, and I rehashed everything I'd discovered and had been told about this case. It was a long and very unsettling time for me, and I wondered if I would experience more dreams when I went to sleep later. I had to make the bed before I could do that, and then I had trouble drifting off. It was probably due to the fact that I was afraid I'd have more unsettling dreams, and when I eventually fell asleep, my worst fears came true. I experienced more nightmares and most of the visions were similar to those I'd endured the night before, but this time I also experienced what Johansen did when he was through with me. When that happened, I bolted upright in bed and screamed as my eyes shot open. Needless to say, it took quite a while before I calmed down again and was able to go back to sleep. I didn't want to, but I forced myself to do it because I had to go to work in the morning. I awoke in the same condition that I was in the previous morning, with my body and the bedding drenched in sweat and the bed in total disarray. After I removed the sheets, I left the bed unmade again and went into the bathroom to take a shower. I was hoping it would make me feel better, as well as improving how I looked so I wouldn't appear quite as bad as the morning when I had taken the sick day from work. Scott was the only one who noticed my predicament when I arrived, and he asked what was wrong. I merely told him we could go out for lunch and I'd fill him in then. He said that would be fine, and he went back to his cubicle and we both got to work. I didn't see him again until it was time to eat. We went to a local restaurant, and after we'd placed our orders I told him about the previous couple of nights. He didn't seem shocked, and I later found out that he'd been having some unsettling dreams as well, but not nearly as horrific as mine. It actually helped a little to talk about it, and I felt slightly better by the time we returned to work. When I got home later, I made a decision. Since the next day was Halloween, I would drive out to the Johansen farm again so I could see what it would have looked like when he brought the boys there after dark. I packed a backpack with a few items and placed it beside the front door so I'd remember to take it with me in the morning. I wasn't sure what I expected to happen or what I might find, although I was hoping it would give me some additional insight into those events. I was anxious the entire next day at work, as I thought about what I was about to do. I didn't tell Scott, because this was something I wanted to do alone, and when the workday ended, I rushed out of the office, jumped into the driver's seat, and took off for Quarry Road. It was dusk as I started out, but it continued to grow darker as I made my way there. My heart was pounding in my chest as I turned onto Quarry Road and headed toward the farm. I put the headlights on high beam so I could see the road better, because I didn't expect to run into anyone or anything, except maybe an animal or two. As I got closer to where I knew the farm was and where I'd find the driveway, I thought I saw movement up ahead. I was hoping it was only a deer, as opposed to a bear, but I was totally shocked when I was able to make out what was actually there. It was a small group of naked boys walking single file along the side of the road. I came to a stop, unable to breathe or believe what I was seeing. How could this be? Was it just my imagination, or were these the spirits of the kidnapped boys? As I looked more closely, they appeared to be older than what the kidnapped boys would have been, so maybe this was another group that Johansen had done the same thing to. I was still gawking at them as they continued to move on, when suddenly the last boy turned and signaled for me to follow him. Oh, shit! Not only was I aware of them, but they were aware of me as well. Since I was being summoned, I followed behind until he waved for me to pass by. The boys had come to a stop and they were all waving me forward as they faced the road. This meant I could see their naked fronts now too, since I had already observed their naked backsides as I followed them. When I reached the first boy in line, he pointed toward the ground at the side of the road, and that's when I realized he was pointing out the driveway. He was indicating that he wanted me to pull into it, so I did, and the boys walked beside the car until I came to a stop. I was actually trembling as I put the car in park and turned off the engine. I wasn't sure if I should get out, because I was a little leery about what they might try to do to me. Was this some kind of a ghostly trap, so I'd end up dying out here too? After thinking about it briefly and watching the boys urge me to join them, I didn't feel this was the case. Maybe they trusted me after we'd communicated via the Ouija board, so now they just wanted to give me more information that I could use. I grabbed my backpack as I got out of the car and slung it over my shoulder. I also pulled the tactical flashlight out of the pocket in the front and flicked it on, because I needed to see where I was going, even if the boys didn't. Somewhat hesitantly I acceded to their urging to follow them as they led me down the driveway. Without hesitation, they took the left fork and headed toward the barn. We were halfway there when I caught a rapid movement out of the corner of my eye. As I turned to look in that direction, I saw the apparition of an older man charging in my direction. The boys must have become aware of what was happening at nearly the same time, because they all came charging back and placed themselves between me and this other ghostly figure. Since the older male figure only slowed down slightly at this point, the boys reacted as a group and attacked him, virtually restraining him before he was able to reach my location. If this was the same group of boys I had been investigating, they appeared older now than when they first disappeared, which meant they were also more capable of standing up for themselves, especially as a group. As I watched this scene playing out, I wondered what was happening, and then it dawned on me. As long as the boys bodies stayed buried on the farm, they were trapped there for Deke to abuse, even after death. That was probably why the boys were struggling against him, because they understood that this was probably their best chance to break free from his control. It was also the reason Deke was trying to stop it from happening, because he didn't want to lose them. At this point, one of the boys slipped away from the others and signaled me to continue following him, so I did what he wanted. As we were walking away from the others, I kept turning my head to make sure the remaining boys were able to keep the other apparition in check. It appeared they were, so I felt safe to consider what had just happened. "Was that Deke?" I wondered as I continued following the eighth boy. "Was Deke trying to prevent the boys from communicating with me and helping me to understand what had happened to them?" I wasn't sure, but it was my best guess as I continued following the lone naked youth. He didn't stop when he got to the barn and merely walked through the wide open double doors. I paused briefly as I considered if this would be safe, but he waved for me to follow him as he headed toward an identical opening at the rear of the barn. Since I didn't feel he would put me in a situation that might harm me, seeing he and the others had collectively done their best to protect me from Deke, so I continued to follow him. It didn't take long before we were standing on the other side of the barn. The boy didn't hesitate and kept on walking, and we probably went another couple hundred yards (approximately 183 m) before he eventually came to a halt. It was also when he pointed at the ground in front of him. "Are you telling me this is where he buried you boys?" He nodded in agreement. "Ok, let me get something to mark this place." I looked around until I found a couple of good size stones and I used them to mark the location. Then, I turned to speak to the boy again. "I'll bring the Sheriff out here so he can retrieve all of your bodies, and then hopefully all of you boys will be given a decent burial by your relatives so you can rest in peace." He gave me a weak grin, and then suddenly disappeared. This left me standing alone in the middle of the badly overgrown field hoping that I could find my way back to the car. That's when I noticed there was a path of trampled grass and weeds that I'd made on the way there, so I merely followed it back to the barn. After passing through that decaying structure again, I looked to see if the other boys and Deke were still there, but they had disappeared as well. Feeling slightly better, I made my way over to where I'd parked the car, hopped inside, and started the engine. After carefully backing out of the driveway and onto the road, I headed in the direction of my apartment, eager to place as much distance as possible between me and the farm. My head was spinning during the ride home. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought those boys might appear so they could lead me out to their current resting place. I didn't expect to see Deke there either, but he obviously wanted to keep his crimes hidden. The boys weren't about to let him do that, and it gave me a great deal to think about on the ride back. One of the first decisions I made was that I planned on driving over to the Sheriff's Department during my lunch hour the next day so I could explain what had just occurred. I also wanted to see if the Sheriff would go out to the farm with me on the weekend, so I could show him were the bodies were buried. I initially thought about doing this after work later the next evening, but then I realized it would be dark out then too, just like it had been when I just went out there. That's why I chose to do it on the weekend instead, and I just hoped that the Sheriff would believe me and agree to do this. I didn't tell Scott about my encounter at the farm, but I called the Sheriff's Department in the morning to see if the Sheriff would agree to meet with me during the noon hour. He said he'd take a late lunch and would wait for me, so I was on edge for the rest of the morning and remained that way until it was time to leave. As soon as I got there, I announced to the deputy at the front desk that I had a meeting scheduled with the Sheriff. He looked up, smiled, and told me to head back to his office. It was the same deputy as the last time I came to see the Sheriff, so he understood that I knew my way there. I knocked on the Sheriff's door and was told to enter. "I don't know if you're going to believe me, but this is what I've done so far and what I've seen," I began, and then I told him about my initial visit to the farm with Scott, and my trip there Halloween night on own. The Sheriff kept nodding, although sometimes he would shake his head as well as I told him the story, so I had no idea what he was thinking. When I finished, he looked at me and spoke. "As I told you previously, I believe that things like this are possible, and you've obviously made a supernatural connection with those boys." "But I'm not sure if it was the same group, because they looked older than what I'd expected." "I'm sure we'll find out once we have the remains. In the meantime, I'll see if we can get DNA samples from any surviving relatives, and I'll also see if I can get someone with a bush hog shredder to cut down the overgrowth and remove it for us. Since this happened so long ago, we won't be able to use the cadaver dogs, so I'll see if I can get my hands on some ground-penetrating radar. That should help to locate the graves and narrow the amount of digging we'll have to do. Meet me here Saturday morning at 10:00, and then you can ride out to the farm with me." I agreed, but I didn't say anything to Scott about this until Friday. After asking him to stop for a couple of beers with me before going home, I filled him in about Halloween night, my meeting with the Sheriff, and our plan to go out there on Saturday to dig up the remains. "Man, I wish you'd have included me in on all of this," he stated, looking slightly dejected. "First of all, I didn't really know what I expected to find when I went out there, and I didn't know if the Sheriff would believe my story when I told him. I don't think he wants anyone else out there when we do this, because he's hoping to be able to retrieve DNA samples so he can verify if these are the same boys. I believe he only asked me to go, because I'm the only one who knows where that spot is." Scott eventually accepted my explanation, but he made me promise to call him as soon as I got back, so I could tell him what we'd discovered. I promised I would, and eventually we left the bar and went home. That evening I was like a kid on the night before his birthday or on Christmas Eve. I was excited and eager to do this, and all night long I wondered what we were going to discover. Were these the boys I'd been tracking down, or was this another group of boys that Johansen had done something similar too? How long would it take before we knew the answers, because I was going to be on pins and needles until I found out? After a restless and dream filled slumber, when I awoke I had a sudden thought. Could the boys have somehow been able to affect my dreams as well? The dreams I had about what had happened to them, including being there myself, were all so real and included things I wouldn't have known about or even imagined. Had I made more of a connection than just communicating with them through the Ouija board? As it got closer to the time I was supposed to meet the Sheriff, I got dressed, got in my car, and drove over to his office. He told me that some farmers would be at the site when we got there, and a guy with ground-penetrating radar would show up too. A little later we would be joined by a team of forensic archeologists, and they would be the ones who would excavate the site, once we verified there were bodies present. The Sheriff then led me out to his personal car and we took off for the old farm. "I haven't been out here in years," he said as we were driving down Quarry Road. "It looks like the D.O.T. hasn't been out here either." He laughed after saying that, and I did too, because he was correct. No one had been out there to work on the road for a very long time either, or else it wouldn't have been in such rough shape. When we reached the old farm and were pulling into the driveway, I noticed two tractors near where it forked, and each tractor had a different mechanism attached to it. They were obviously the farmers who'd agreed to clear the land for the Sheriff, and he briefly explained to me what they were going to do. "Ok, you lead the way and we'll follow," the Sheriff urged once we reached the tractors. "You've obviously gone through this mess before, so I'll just have these boys follow us out and clear the way for the others." I didn't have a problem with this, so I led the Sheriff toward the barn. I heard the tractors start up behind us, but I didn't look back. I knew the one was going to cut down the grass and weeds with the bush hog shredder, while the other one use the blade scraper to clear the debris and leave a smooth dirt finish. I merely continued on and led the Sheriff through the barn before making my way out to where I'd marked the spot the boys had showed me. When I reached that location, I pointed it out to the Sheriff and we removed the stones so the tractors could clear the area. Once they finished their task, the Sheriff thanked them and said he'd have a check mailed to each one for their time and assistance. The men merely nodded their acknowledgment and left. After we put the stones back where we'd found them, we were able to walk around and investigate the area as we waited for the others to arrive. The next one to show up was a guy with a van, and I watched as he took something out of it that looked similar to a lawnmower. He explained it was the ground-penetration radar as he followed us out to the site. He also explained how it worked and described how he would search the area. The Sheriff and I stood out of his way and merely observed as he walked back and forth over the patch of land that had just been cleared. "I've got something here," the man shouted as he signaled for us to join him. "I wanted to make sure of it before I said anything, but there are several objects buried about two or three feet down, and they appear to be bodies." "That's what we were expecting to find," the Sheriff confirmed. "Just let us know exactly where each one is and we'll mark the spot with something." At that point the Sheriff and I grabbed the stones I had used previously to mark the site, and we placed those over the first two graves. After that, we scurried about looking for other objects we could use, and that's when I spotted an old fieldstone fence. We quickly grabbed a couple of stones each and returned to mark the next four spots, and then I ran back to get two more stones. The man with the ground-penetrating radar had pointed out eight locations, so apparently all of the boys were buried here, if it truly was them. After the Sheriff said goodbye to the guy and promised to send him a check too, the man packed up his equipment and took off, while we waited around for the next group to arrive. About thirty minutes later, two SUVs pulled in and came to a stop, and I soon learned that these were the forensic archeologists. As soon as the Sheriff explained the situation and showed them the locations we had marked, he turned to me and spoke. "There's no sense of us sticking around any longer, because they'll take their time digging up the remains, to make sure they don't lose any evidence. Once they've retrieved all of the bones, they'll have them transported to the coroner's office, and he'll perform a further examination on the remains. He'll also take DNA samples and send them to the lab, but it can take several weeks before we learn the results." "I see, but I'd like you to call me when you hear anything." "Trust me, I will, seeing you've been such a vital part of this investigation. I owe you a world of thanks, because this will most likely close this case and give me the answers I've been seeking all these years." I gave the Sheriff my phone number, which he entered into his phone, and then I rode back with him to the Sheriff's Department. Once we were there, he thanked me for my help, and I thanked him for his assistance and for including me in the process. Then, I got in my car and drove to the apartment. I called Scott as soon as I got there and explained everything we'd done. I also told him what the Sheriff had said about how long this would take, and then we said goodbye and I went about my business. It was several weeks before I heard from the Sheriff again. He called one day while I was at work and asked if I would stop by his office later, so he could explain everything to me. I immediately agreed, and I was bouncing around excitedly at my desk as I waited for the workday to come to an end. I was surprised I didn't get a speeding ticket as I raced over there, but I wanted to hear what he had to say as soon as possible. I hurriedly parked my car, sprinted to the front desk, and was given permission to go back to the Sheriff's office. He rose from his chair as soon as I knocked on the door. "Come in, Chris, because I want to explain what we've discovered." I went inside and sat down as the Sheriff closed the door behind me. After he returned to his chair on the other side of the desk, he looked at me and began to speak. "When I got the coroner's preliminary report, I was afraid we'd found the wrong set of graves, because he estimated the bodies were of boys in their early teens. That was older than the kidnapped boys, and his conclusions were based on the bone structure and dental examinations. I was disappointed, but I decided to wait for the DNA reports before I came to any conclusions." "Have you got those back yet?" I blurted out, interrupting him. "Yes, I got a copy of that report yesterday, and I took time to study it before I called you. The lab has confirmed that there is no doubt that the bodies are those of the missing boys." "But how can that be, if they are older than what they should be?" "It appears that Johansen must have kept each of the boys alive for two, three, or maybe even four years after he'd abducted them. I don't want to speculate about why he might have done that, because none of the reasons I can come up with are reassuring, but you've closed the case and we're going to turn the remains over to each of the boys' next of kin." "If he kept them alive for all that time, where did he keep them? In the barn, or in that hole in the ground beside it?" "To tell you the truth, seeing that place was so isolated, he probably just kept them chained up inside the house." "I guess that's better than those other two places, but those poor kids must have been scared to death. Do you know how they died?" "The coroner found evidence to suggest how it happened, but just let me say that it wasn't from natural causes. However, the fact that he kept them alive for a while explains why there was a gap between the kidnappings. We can probably tell how long he kept each boy by looking at how long it took before he snatched up the next one." "I've already figured out how long it was between when each boy was taken, so that would mean he kept the younger boys the longest." "Yes, it appears the more they matured, the less interested he was in them. The coroner determined that each boy was probably fourteen or fifteen when he died." "That's still too young." "Yes, it is." I thanked the Sheriff for the information and left his office. I called Scott as soon as I got home and explained the same things to him. At least now we knew for sure what had happened to those poor kids. By early spring, the Sheriff called to inform me that the remains of each of the boys had been given a proper burial by their families. So now the spirits of Mike Maynard, Danny Coutts, Jamie Hopko, Peter Simek, Vince Rumsey, Josh Becker, Tommy Hawes, and Steven James could rest in peace. I just hoped they had now moved on to find peace and appreciated the extremes that I went to so it could happen. I got my answer the following Halloween. Scott and I had gone to another haunted house first, and then we stopped to have a couple of beers at a local bar. While there, we discussed our experiences from the previous year, and I mentioned that I hoped the boys were finally able to rest in peace. Scott said he hoped so as well, and eventually we said goodnight to each other and returned to our apartments. As soon as I got there, I showered and got ready for bed. I was still thinking about the boys as I crawled under the covers, and even though I was a little restless at first, I slept soundly throughout the night. When I awoke the next morning, to say I was shocked by what I found would have been a gross understatement. I awoke in the center of the bed, but there were no covers on me. They were all pulled back and neatly arranged at the foot of the bed, completely the opposite of how I had found them after experiencing horrific nightmares the year before, but that wasn't all. There were other objects on the bed with me as well, things that had not been there when I went to sleep. That's when I started to become scared and immediately began to wonder if someone had broken in after I went to sleep. On my right I discovered a Spiderman mask, a football helmet, a cowboy hat, and a baseball cap. On my left was a Power Ranger mask, a fireman's helmet, an Indian headdress, and a Darth Vader mask. As I looked at the various objects, I wondered where they'd come from, and that's when I noticed something else. Next to each object there was something written on the sheet, so I got up to examine what it said. That's when I discovered that next to each object was the signature of one of the boys who'd gone missing. At that point I began to choke up, because I realized this was their way of getting a message to me. As the significance of this was slowly sinking in, I noticed something else. Just above the folded bedding at the end of the mattress, there was something else scrawled on the sheet. Much larger than each boy's signature was written, 'Thank you!' Deeply moved, I collected the various objects the boys had left me, because they were obviously part of the costumes they'd been wearing when they disappeared. I would keep them as cherished souvenirs, along with the fitted sheet I'd just removed from the bed. They would serve as a reminder of the time I'd spent investigating their disappearances and the brief time I'd spent with them on Halloween night. Happy Halloween to one and all!

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