The cave was easy to find, though not as big as Ranear described. Still, it would do for the night even if it would be tight quarters. Boston and Katie set up on one side. Lockhart and Captain Decker took the other. The rest laid out somewhere in the middle when they were not on watch.
The fire was just outside the cave, but it was positioned so it was hard to see from down below. A man might walk right beneath their position and never know anyone was up there. Because of this, Captain Decker called it a good defensive position.
“But do we need to worry about that?” Alexis asked. “There is no evidence of ghouls and we haven’t seen the bokarus since Iris.” She was trying to shrug off the bad feelings they had all day.
“No telling what is out there,” Lockhart said. He looked up at the night sky and wondered. His Men in black were practiced at dealing with alien threats. They were not designed to fight nightmares. “Lincoln and Alexis first watch.”
“Wouldn’t one person be enough?” Lincoln wondered.
“I want two to watch and keep each other awake,” Lockhart responded. “Decker and I will take second watch. Mingus, would you mind third watch with your son?” Mingus did not mind. “Boston and Katie in the morning. Get some sleep.”
In the wee hours of the morning, Lockhart woke up in the nursing home, still sitting in his wheelchair. The nurses had not even bothered putting him to bed. He wiped the bit of drool that fell from his mouth and looked out the window at the night sky. It looked the same as it looked in his dream. He let out one small laugh before he felt like crying. Being young again and adventuring in Avalon was a nice dream, but only a dream.
Lockhart tried to push himself closer to the window, but his old arms were too spindly and frail. He did cry a little because he was so alone. He was in Virginia and his children were all in Michigan. They never came to see him in any case. His ex-wife saw to that. She was in a retirement community in Florida spending the last of his money. Even the people from the office never came by, not even Boston. He was alone. He wanted to die.
“I didn’t ask to be young again,” Lincoln yelled and did that annoying thing of raising his hands like he was oh, so innocent.. “I was happy like we were.”
“I wasn’t,” Alexis responded with that inevitable curl of her lip.
“Okay. I got that impression. But I was comfortable.”
“God knows I wouldn’t want to shake you out of your comfort zone.”
“Alexis.” Lincoln reached out but Alexis pulled away.
“Don’t touch me,” she said. “Right now I hate you.” She never pulled her punches and never said she was sorry.
“I despise you.” He always had to one-up her.
Boston closed the door to the conference room. She was in the heart of the building and there was no way out for her. The alien virus had gotten loose. It affected the minds of every male on duty and Boston was scared senseless. She was afraid they would find her. She heard the door.
“Boston.” The call was sweet and sickly.
Boston scooted under the table and heard the men come in. They were all men she knew, young and old.
She tried to make herself small.
“Here.” One of the young ones was behind her and leaned over to look under the table. She was caught. She tried to run, but they stopped her. They tore her clothes off. She was going to be gang raped. The infected men were laughing about it, but she was screaming.
Captain Decker was tied with his hands behind his back. His ankles were tied together and he was suspended upside-down from one of the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge. Lieutenant Harper was slowly cutting the man’s rope.
“What are you doing?” The panic was in Decker’s voice. He was not the best with heights, though he went through parachute training when he qualified as a Marine Ranger.
“I can’t help it,” Harper called down to him. “I have no control over my hands.” Her voice sounded more fearful. She saw him suspended from the edge of a cliff. Every time she cut a strand, he dropped a little. She was going to murder the man and she couldn’t stop herself. “Help me, please.” She cried out, but she had no control. Everything was out of her control except her tears.
Decker screamed at her. “Let me up. I’m going to kill you. Let me up.” He looked down and had to hold onto his stomach and his bladder.
Doctor Procter came awake, but he was groggy. Something tugged at his mind, and for a change it was not the darkness. He imagined all sorts of frightening scenarios, but they all paled when compared to the darkness so they could find no foothold in his dreams. He squinted.
Mingus and his son were sitting side by side, staring off into the wilderness. Doctor Procter could not tell from his angle, but he guessed they were frozen in place seeing nothing. There was a figure beside them. It was human shaped, but the Doctor guessed it was not human because it was dark from head to foot despite standing squarely in the firelight.
There were noises behind. Doctor Procter sat up a little and turned his head to look. The humans were wailing, crying, shouting nonsense at each other and appeared to be in pain. He checked. He did not care about that. He did not hate the humans, but somehow he could not bring himself to care about them either. It was the darkness, he knew. Soon it would overtake him completely.
He turned again to observe the person hiding in the night. He guessed it was the bogy man. He heard they hid in closets and under beds to work their terrible work. They hid because they had to be solid to work and feed on the fear. That, of course, made them vulnerable, but as long as the sleepers remained unaware of their presence, they could feast.
Doctor Procter thought about that. He was no stranger to fear, but he never felt attracted to it before. He used to fear things like bogys. Now, he felt he understood a little. Fear, hate and anguish were very powerful emotions and very nourishing in a way. “No.” He whispered that out loud through cracked lips and with a gravelly voice. The bogy ignored him. Things were coming to a head.
Doctor Procter turned his head again to watch. He saw Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper grab their rifles. Lockhart also grabbed his shotgun. Boston screamed, “Kill me, kill me!” Lincoln and Alexis had each other by the throat. The humans were all going to kill each other, and something of the Doctor rose up.
“No!” The Doctor shouted. He tore off his glove and extended his blackened hand out toward the bogy. The bogy lost all concentration and a sound of fear escaped its own lips.