Chapter 2.78: The Grizzly
Book Two — Gifts Both Light and Dark
NOTE: This chapter is available in audiobook format on the TLHOC Podcast.
Access previous chapters of the book on the Table of Contents page.
June 15, 8:14 pm
Billy had been holding an invisible vigil over Keith for over twenty-four hours now—ever since Richard dispatched him from the City and County building clock tower the previous evening. It had only been a day, but it seemed far longer than that. Even with the perspective of a century and a half, Billy had never felt time crawl so slowly, or felt such constant fear and anxiety.
He stared at Richard’s husband, who was still sitting up in bed, writing in his notebook. Billy sighed with frustration.
Keith was still refusing to leave, and that didn’t help Billy’s anxiety. Neither did the knowledge that what he had feared for decades was now coming to pass. It was all there, right on the television, and right outside the windows. And more important than seeing it, he could sense it. The feeling was like the rush of adrenalin you would have hanging over an abyss, but constant.
And through it all, he wasn’t even sure why he was there. If Keith was attacked, he would be totally helpless to do anything about it. They needed to get out of this city, but he was unable to make them do that, either. All he could do was stand as a mute witness to what was coming, and then report it to Richard when the inevitable happened.
When Billy heard the sharp crack of glass against glass, followed by an almost inaudible moan coming from downstairs, his terror rose to gather in his throat like a tight fist.
Dear God, it’s finally here, he thought—not even sure what it was.
The sudden sound made Keith nearly jump out of his skin, and he was up from the bed in a single leap, his notebook thrown open and face down on the unmade covers.
“Pil? Michelle?” Keith yelled. “What was that? Are you guys okay?” He started for the door.
“No, Keith! Don’t go!” Billy screamed at him, trying to step between the chubby man and the door. But of course, that had no effect on Keith and only resulted in Billy being thrown back against the wall and down onto his hands and knees at the top of the stairs. As Keith rushed past, Billy staggered to his feet to follow, desperately afraid of what they would find when they got to the bottom of the stairs.
What they saw when they rushed around the archway into the living room froze both the living and the dead in their tracks.
But what they each saw was something different…
Keith saw his friend, seated in front of the TV, covered in beer, and struggling mightily against what looked like a seizure. Even while he watched, the man’s hands shot out and gripped the fabric of the cushions on either side, and Keith heard one rip as the muscles convulsed across the man’s back.
But Billy saw something different. He saw what he had feared, come to life.
Kneeling between the big man’s knees was Justin Kimball, his eyes blazing, and his fingers stroking the back of Pil’s hand. Even from the doorway, Billy could see that Pil was just an instant away from losing the battle, which he had clearly been waging for quite some time.
Keith gasped and took a step toward Pil.
With no time to lose, but not knowing what good it would do, Billy screamed, “Justin, STOP!”
The boy glanced at him, but what Billy saw was not fear or surprise. It was a wry and evil smile. And he knew it was already too late. As Billy tried to get through the doorway past the now immobile Keith, Justin took in a deep breath… and disappeared.
As Pil rose from the couch like a raging grizzly, Billy saw murder in his eyes. He turned to look at the man beside him, who was now frozen in fear.
“Oh, Keith,” Billy said. “I’m so sorry…”
The Last Handful of Clover is a supernatural thriller by Wess Mongo Jolley. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying this story, please consider supporting the author on Patreon.
For more information (including maps of the story’s world and a contact form) visit the author’s website.
To read previous chapters of this book, go to the Table of Contents page.
If you’re interested in listening to the book, rather than reading it, the audiobook is available at the Patreon link above, and also as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor, and all other podcast platforms. Visit the podcast page for more details.
Copyright 2021, Wess Mongo Jolley. All rights reserved.