Cat and Roxi’s nagging mystery behind the property on Maple Street and the date 1835 keeps them digging for answers…
“Anything yet?” Cat was bleary eyed from scanning the tiny print. The knob that spun the blue transparent filmstrip across the large screen was warm from her hand. They had been looking through a compilation of the local newspapers for the year 1835 for nearly half an hour.
Roxi was sitting very still, her film stopped on an article from the Orange Grove Journal. Her eyes were large.
“Yeah. ” She motioned for Cat to look over at her screen. “Right here, in the May 20th issue. A man’s body was found in a swamp, and the article refers to it as the work of a ‘ blood-thirsty lunatic ‘ .”
Cat stared at the article not really reading it.
“Like the woman last night,” she muttered.
Roxi glanced at her. An odd gleam of excitement in her bright, blue eyes.
“Yeah. A connection?”
Cat gave an absent shrug. Without a word, she went to the file drawers in the back of the dark, little room. Her hands grabbed the reels for the next year’s Journal. She handed one to Roxi and sat down.
“Let’s check to see if there are any other reports like it. I think we’ve found something. ”
Roxi smiled. “Bloodless. Are we tracking a real live vampire here?”
” ‘ There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.’ ” Cat quoted the line absently with a shake of her head.
By the end of two hours time, they had traced a pattern. There were a week’s worth of daily reports in the Orange Grove Journal, from 1835 in the May issues, telling tales of corpses found drained of blood, and then nothing out of the ordinary for twenty years. Then, for a week in June of 1855, there were more deaths of a similar kind. Then nothing again, this time for forty – five years. After the turn of the century, the ‘ plague ‘ as it was called by that time, reoccurred in July. Again, for only a week. Afterwards, the pattern became very defined. Every forty-five years a rash of deaths hit this city. All the same, all drained of blood. Then it would end. The last article about the ‘ plague’ was in September1945.
Cat and Roxi looked at each other. October 1990. It was back.
“Every forty-five years since 1900. ” Cat was muttering. She was staring out the car window as Roxi drove along Blanding. The avenue was one of the main arteries in Orange Grove’s mangled and confusing road system. Cat watched car dealership after car dealership roll by as they headed for her neighborhood.
Roxi had been thinking about their findings also. The possibilities seemed so limitless as to what they might uncover. What really was it that had been stalking this sleepy town for over a hundred years? Is something living, or existing, in the small, run-down house on Maple Street? Rising every forty-five years to feed on the lives of the complacent populace? The answers seemed to lie in one place. The Haunted House.
“Do you want to stop by on our way home?” Cat blurted.
Roxi nearly lost her grip on the steering wheel. She glanced over at Cat.
“You’ve been thinking the exact same thing I have,” she smiled. “But, do you think its too dark? I mean if its as dangerous as it seems. You know…”
It was as if she couldn’t bring herself to say the word now that the morbid fantasy was so close to real. Closer than she wanted to admit.
Cat felt cheated. The urge to go to the Maple Street house, no matter how late in the evening, was overpowering. What danger? I can… She stopped her hand as it reached convulsively for the door handle. Was she out of her mind? She snapped back to herself and shivered.
“Yeah. Yeah. It’s too dark now. True.” She turned to see Roxi staring at her very concerned. Cat straightened up in her seat. “I feel so weird. Like I was just pulled out of sleep by a phone call or something. I’ve felt hazy all day. But, it’s fading. I’m better now.”
“You sure?” Roxi asked. “You were, like, in a trance. I thought I was going to have to slap you or something.”
Cat laughed. “Not yet, anyway. But, seriously, I do want to check out the old house as soon as we can.”
Roxi agreed. “Maybe this weekend? In the daylight?”
“Yeah. Only idiots in horror movies go to a monster’s house at night.” They both chuckled. The air felt a little lighter, but Cat’s mind still raced with an anxious frenzy for the weekend to begin.
Another night passed. Cat slept fitfully.
Near Maple Street a dog was barking. The body it had found was not natural. It frightened the dog.
The night faded. The barking had stopped.