‘Furies,’ a Horror Novel, Part Three, Chapter 1

Twenty years later, Boyd McAulliffe, 38, had become a successful businessman, owning a cellphone app company headquartered in Toronto, but with branches all over Canada and the US. He married Sharon Willis when he was 27, when his company was struggling after two years of existence, but when she told him she believed in him and said never to give up. With her encouragement, he stuck to it and found the beginnings of success a couple of years after.

The couple had their first child, a girl named Tess, when he was 28. Every day of looking in his daughter’s baby blue eyes felt like looking at the entrance to heaven. She was number one in his life; neither himself, nor Sharon, nor his business, nor the rest of his family or friends, came even a distant second. Sharon was second, for sure…but still far behind his little angel, Tess.

With the massive amount of money he made from his business, Boyd bought a huge stretch of land near the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River area, home to white tailed deer that he liked to hunt in October, when he typically took time off work to go there with his family. Being out there in the fresh air, spending a month of quality time with his wife and daughter…this was when life was at its happiest for him.

He truly felt he’d had a fortunate life: a successful business, a beautiful, loving, and supportive wife, and an adorable daughter. On top of these blessings, he had a big stretch of land and plenty of time off every year to pursue his hobby and passion–deer hunting, a test of the marksmanship skill he was so proud of. How could his life have been any more perfect?

Well, there was that recurring dream he wished would go away.

Once every several months or so, he’d have a dream about that bitch Alexa he used to go after, the girl who mysteriously disappeared shortly after he and Denise Charlton had gotten her one particularly bad time back in high school. Nobody knew what had happened to Alexa. Had she run away from home? Did she commit suicide?

The principal gave him and Denise a really hard time for having bullied Alexa so much, especially since there had been fears that the bullying may have driven her to suicide. Boyd admitted to himself in hindsight that he and Denise had taken things a little too far a few times; after all, teenagers can be really immature assholes sometimes, including himself back then.

All the same, though, that was a long time ago. Why was he still dreaming about that girl? Surely his guilty conscience should have forgotten about her by now, two decades later.

But every two or three months, he’d see a vision of her in his sleep. He’d see her against a black background, with messy hair, pale skin, glowing red eyes surrounded in black rings for eyelids, and wearing a tattered black dress. Sometimes it looked as if tiny pieces of that ghostly white skin were flaking off. Sometimes her skin looked reddish-white, melting.

Worst of all was that frown on her face, a scowl that looked like she wanted to kill him. At last, these words would come out of her mouth, which made him wake up bathed in sweat.

I’m gonna get you.

He had this very dream again one night during his October vacation with Sharon and Tess on his property up in northern Ontario. The next morning, he brushed it off and forgot about it as usual, and after breakfast–delicious bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast made for them by Sharon–he found himself playing with his daughter in the living room of their log cabin.

First, they played a clapping game of “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.”

Together, they chanted, “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake a cake, bake a cake, as fast as you can
Pat it and prick it, mark it with T,
Put it in the oven for Tessa and me.”

Then they chanted “Mary Mack” to their hand claps; and after this one, he took her in his arms.

“Who’s the ticklish one?” he said as his fingers tickled her sides, getting high-pitched screams of laughter from her. “Who’s the ticklish one?”

“Oh!” she yelped. “No! Stop, Daddy, stop!” She continued screaming, giggling and struggling to get free of him until he finally relented.

Then he gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“I love you, sweetie,” he said.

“I love you, too, Daddy,” she said.

Sharon came in the living room with a tray of three mugs of hot chocolate. “Here you go,” she said as she put the tray on the coffee table.

“Yummy!” Tess said, picking up her mug.

“It’s not quite cold enough to drink this, but why not?” Sharon said. “It’s yummy!”

“Absolutely,” he said, picking up his mug for a sip. “This is gonna hit the spot, just before I go out there with my rifle.”

“I wanna go out with you, Daddy,” Tess said.

“No, sweetie,” he said. “I need absolute quiet when I’m hunting deer. Besides, I don’t like the idea of you being near my rifle when I’m using it.”

“Oh, but Daddy,” she whined with a pout.

“Your father’s right, dear,” her mom said.

“You are too dear to me to be anywhere near the deer I’m about to shoot at,” he said.

“OK,” Tess said, still pouting.

He gulped down the last of his hot chocolate.

“All right,” he said, standing. “Time to do some hunting. Thanks for the hot chocolate, honey.” He gave Sharon a hug and a kiss, then left the living room to get his rifle and get ready.

“Have fun,” Sharon said, then she and Tess drank their hot chocolate. When Sharon finished hers, she gave Tess a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Then she took the tray and her and Boyd’s empty mugs back to the kitchen. As she was walking out, she said, “When you’re finished yours, don’t forget to bring your cup back to the kitchen, honey.”

“OK, Mom,” Tess said, then drank another gulp. Why can’t I go with Daddy? she wondered. I like being with him. I wanna play some more. I’d be quiet. I’d stay clear of his rifle. It’s no fair!

Then she heard a faint whisper in her ear.

Why don’t you go out and surprise him, Tess?

“What?” she said. “Who said that?” She looked around the room for the invisible speaker. She saw her dad go out the door with his rifle.

I’m a spirit guide, the feminine voice said.

“A spirit guide?” Tess asked. “Where are you? Why can’t I see you? What does a spirit guide do?”

Well, you can’t see me because I’m a spirit, of course. I’m like a ghost except I’m one of the good ones. I’m here to guide you, to help you find ways to be closer to your father, to help your love grow stronger.

“OK, so how am I gonna do that?”

Well, just let me lead the way. Go on outside, but make sure your dad doesn’t see you, ’cause we want this to be a big surprise for him. It’ll be more fun that way.

“But he said he doesn’t want me to go, and Mom doesn’t want me to go, either. If I go, won’t they be mad?”

Not the way I’m gonna have you go. Your mom just went to bed for a nap, so she won’t hear you go outside. As for your dad…well…I’ll have a way of making him see you so you’ll be…a real dear…to him.

“OK,” Tess said, then finished her hot chocolate, took her cup to the kitchen as her mom wanted her to do, put on her jacket, and went outside.

Alexa’s ghost watched the girl run into the woods. As she watched, her lips curled up into a smile.

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