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Harvest Horror

by John Michael Osborne

Lonny Clark and Brianna Basra set aside their creative writing studies at Georgia State to drive up to Witchs Lake, a village north of Atlanta. The two sophomores wanted to check on a disturbing unsolved murder. The newspaper reported a complaint to the police about a pentagram and charred animal remains on a farm. Lonny and Brianna feared that could be the work of their old enemy, Black Andrew.

Andrew Dorian, a former acolyte of Briannas late Uncle Nathan, abandoned him and her uncles mystical and psychic teachings and turned to black sorcery.

Lonny and Brianna drove up in Lonnys GMC black van. Lonny cranked La Sexorcisto by White Zombie the whole way. Witchs Lake, a small town with farms bordering its outer fringes, hardly looked like a place where murders happened often.

Lonny drove past the small high school and way down a crooked road to the McClusky farm. The yellow peeling paint on the house looked like psoriasis. The homes black shudders hung like chewing gum held them there. The railing on the porch was broken and splintered. Two jack o lanterns alight in the window and undersized pumpkins stood in the pumpkin patch.

Crows squawked loudly as they landed on a scarecrow. Unafraid of the figure hanging in the field, the large black birds pecked at it. Late October in northern Georgia the leaves above the rooftops burned crimson, orange, and gold. The sweet scent of burning leaves permeated the air.

They arrived just after dark so they hopefully wouldnt be seen wandering around a potential crime scene. They put on light jackets after they got out of the van. Lonny untied his golden brown dreadlocks. It felt great to let his hair down in the cool evening air. He slammed the last of his Coke. It quenched his thirst from the long drive.

Lonny turned on his flashlight to light his way alongside of the pumpkin patch. So tell me, are you going to do Thanksgiving at your folks?

Brianna turned on her own flashlight. Why are you so determined to see me get back with my parents? You hardly speak to your folks.

Red and yellow leaves scurried away from the pumpkin patch to the house. The denuded cornfield stood far off in front of them.

Lonny looked around the edge of the patch. He read in the paper the pentagram was near the pumpkin field. My brother wants me home for the holidays. Im thinking about it.

Youre at least on speaking terms with your folks. I havent had anything to do with my parents since they told me my psychic power was the work of the devil.

Would it help if I came with you? Lonny asked.

Brianna chuckled bitterly. Oh, no. Theyd probably faint if they saw your dreadlocks. They dont like dreadlocks or even long hair. They think my hair is too long.

I see. Lonnys flashlight caught the pentagram embedded into the ground. He saw a vision of a ritual right around the pentagram. A lone robed figure stood in the middle of the pentagram.

Brianna bent down and touched the groove in the dirt. The dryness of the dirt revealed how little rain had fallen there. She held her dark waist-length hair aside so she could see.

Get anything? Lonny asked.

Briannas psychic power was much stronger than Lonnys. No. This was obviously carved in the ground with a stick. Find me the stick and maybe I can get some psychic impressions.

Lonny didnt find the stick but something of interest caught his eye in the pumpkin patch.

He found the bottom portion of a large pumpkin, lying upside down. Someone cut it in half and cleaned it out. The charred inside looked like it was used for a pot. He saw murky flashes of a ritual. Someone really tall and big, like a weightlifter, in a dark robe, burned something in the pumpkin at the center of the pentagram. Smoke obscured his face. Take a look at this.

She held it and shuddered. I see someone in a black robe lighting red candles around the pentagram. I see his long dark hair. Lonny, its Black Andrew.

Lonny knew it. What else do you see?

Brianna closed here eyes again. He used this pumpkin in a special ceremony.

Briannas Uncle Nathan willed her his magical journal. Lonny remembered reading such a rite. Its a spell that can only be done at harvest time. He thought Nathan called it a purging ritual. Lonny felt a wave of gooseflesh run down his body. Anything else?

She tossed the pumpkin back into the pumpkin patch. No.

They hurried back to his van.

Lonny feared Black Andrew used the spell to get a corpse to do his bidding. It sounded like Andrew could still be trying to do his Ritual of Killing of Three to obtain great metaphysical power. Last month he and Brianna stopped Andrew from finishing such a demonic ceremony. And to achieve that power at least one of the three needs to be a virgin.

Brianna said, We need to find out what Andrew is up to. Lets go to the police to see what we can find out.

Lonny thought going to the police first could backfire on them. Once they started asking pesky questions about a black sorcerer whos performing rituals to commit murders, the small police force would think they were nuts, follow them, and chase them out of town while Black Andrew carried out his heinous crimes. Lets go to the cemetery first.

They drove past the lake to the graveyard. They slipped through the black iron gates which squealed like a hog being butchered. In the back of the little cemetery they found a dug up grave.

Lonny shone his flashlight into the grave. He touched the edge of the grave. The letters of J and H appeared in his mind. He saw the corpse, the body of an old man in a dark blue suit, rise from the grave and break into a house to strangle a man. Can you see what I can?

Brianna climbed down to the open casket. She touched the white padding inside and closed her eyes. She nodded. Im getting the name of Jeremy Herbrand. Very clever. How do you arrest and prosecute a corpse for murder?

Lonny helped Brianna crawl out of the grave. According to the purging spell the corpse cant return to its grave to rest until it has fulfilled its task. And it can kill only one per night.

They knew if Black Andrew has ordered it to kill to do the Ritual Killing of Three, and its only killed one, it needs to kill twice again. They got back in his van.

Brianna said, Where in a tiny village like this could Andrew hide a corpse?

As they drove by the lake, Lonny said, Ive got a pretty good idea.

They drove to the Witchs Lake Police Station. It looked like a small strip mall. Only two squad cars were parked outside. No receptionist sat at the front desk at that time of night. The sheriff sat behind one of the two desks in the office. The office smelled of hot cider. While they waited on him to finish a phone call, Lonny grabbed a couple of hot chocolates from a vending machine. He gave one to Brianna. The hot chocolate smelled great. Steam rose like tiny ghosts from the cups. It felt warm going down. The late October Georgia nights cooled off greatly.

Lonny paced. He wished the sheriff would get off the phone.

Brianna muttered, Come on with this guy.

The sheriff, David Statz, a tall overweight man with dark hair dressed in a crisp dark blue uniform, invited them over to his desk. His office was very small, probably just the sheriff and

two deputies. Only one gray filing cabinet stood next to his desk. The Georgia state flag hung in the corner. A pot of hot cider set on top of the cabinet. Halloween decorations of a bat, a witch, and some black webbing hung on the walls. He finally hung up. Okay, why are you so interested in the murder of Fred Berrenger?

Brianna said, We know a guy, Andrew Dorian. We think he might know something about the murder.

The sheriff looked surprised. Andrew Dorian? How do you know him?

Youve heard of him? Lonny asked.

Yes. He grew up here. We had a few run-ins with him. Now how do you know him?

Brianna sipped her hot chocolate. He was once a student of my uncles. They had a falling out. Is Andrew a suspect?

Lets just say wed like to talk to him, the sheriff said. Andrew is big from weightlifting.

He has long black hair. He looks like a big rock star. He always stuck out in this little town.

Lonny was astonished. He grew up in here?

The sheriff poured himself some hot cider. Yes. People knew him well.

Does he have any family here? Brianna asked.

Sheriff Statz said, No. His mother moved shortly after Andrew graduated from high school.

Are you friends of his?

No way, Brianna said emphatically. Hes been giving us a lot of problems.

If we can find him, wed help you catch him, Lonny said.

What makes you think Andrew Dorian has something to do with the murder? the sheriff asked.

We read about the pentagram found on the McClusky property, Brianna said. Andrew is heavily involved in black magic.

The sheriff sipped some of his cider. I know he was into the occult as a teen. Thats what makes him a person of interest, but not necessarily a suspect in the murder.

Has he been seen here? Lonny asked.

People said theyve seen a person matching his description. If hes in town, we havent found him yet.

Lonny thought the questions irritated the sheriff. Does he have any friends here?

The sheriffs chair screeched like a rat caught under a carriage wheel. Im not sure, kids. Listen, my office is on it. You dont need to play sleuth with us. If hes been bothering you, then stay away from him. And dont go looking for him.

Brianna finished her drink. He has to be found.

And if hes here, well find him, the sheriff said. Whats your interest anyways?

Hes a powerful psychic, Lonny said. He believes he can increase his psychic power through black magic and maybe even human sacrifice.

Were psychic, too, Brianna said. We know how dangerous he is. We know how dangerous he can become.

Uh-huh, the sheriff said, obvious disbelief in his voice. Where are yall from?

Atlanta, Lonny said.

Well, go back home to Atlanta, the sheriff said sharply. Well worry about Andrew.

Brianna thanked him and shook his hand. Lonny recognized the look in her eye.

Once outside, Lonny asked, What did you get?

The name of Sheralyn Juneau. I saw him talking to her.

After they went to the library and looked up her address in the phone book, they drove out to an apartment complex on the edge of town. Sheralyn was a well-built blonde dressed in a white sweater and tight cutoffs. She opened the door but didnt invite them inside. She looked eighteen

or nineteen, hardly old enough to buy booze and smell strongly of bourbon. I already talked to the cops, she snapped.

Lonny said, We need to see Andrew right away, Sheralyn. Has he been here to see you?

Yes. He was here a couple of nights ago.

We dont wish to be rude, Brianna said. But can you tell us what he wanted?

She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms angrily. He wanted to get back together. Theres no way thats happening. All that occult crap scares the hell out of me. I dont want that around me anymore. She squinted. Are you friends of his?

No, Lonny said. He was sick of that question. Just the opposite. Do you know if he performed a ritual on the McClusky farm?

He didnt tell me he did, Sheralyn said. But who else wouldve done it? Hes the only person in town who was into the occult.

Do you know why he would come here to do a ritual? Brianna asked.

The guy who was murdered was Mr. Berrernger. Andrew always hated him.

Who was Mr. Berrenger? Brianna asked.

Sheralyn said, The physical science teacher at the high school. He always used to pick on Andrew in class. He made Andrew feel small. You do the math.

Did he have any other teachers or people he hated here? Lonny asked.

Sheralyn groaned. Take your pick. He hated a lot of people in this town.

Guess, Lonny said impatiently. If he wanted someone else dead, who would that be?

Sheralyn stepped back into her apartment and grabbed a drink from the kitchen counter. She heartily gulped it. A Halloween decoration of a skeleton hung on the wall. A jack o lantern with a scary face set on the kitchen table. The smell of burning wax permeated the apartment. There was Mrs. Cuffy. She was an English teacher he didnt like. He thought she was too hard on him.

Do you know where she lives? Brianna asked.

Sure, Sheralyn said. She lives not far from here.

Can you show us? Brianna asked.

Sheralyn pouted. You mean, like, right now?

Lonny hated this. She didnt even care what Andrew was up to. Yes, we mean like right now! Andrew is going to kill again to fulfill a black magic spell. We need to stop him.

Brianna said, And if you dont help us, and Andrew kills again, it would be as if you helped him. Do you want that?

She slouched and nervously twisted her hair. No.

Sheralyn joined them in Lonnys van. Before they could get to Mrs. Cuffys house, the street was blocked off by three police cars with flashing lights. Lonny figured that was probably this towns entire police force.

Shit, Lonny muttered. Were too late.

Oh, my God, Sheralyn gasped. You think Andrew killed Mrs. Cuffy?

Lonny barked, It was you who said, do the math, right?

I think we better go back to the lake, Brianna said. Maybe we can catch the corpse.

Corpse? Sheralyn shouted.

Thats the black magic spell, Brianna explained. We think hes getting a corpse to do the murders for him.

Then he achieves metaphysical power, Lonny said.

Sheralyn cried, Oh, God, no. Are you guys putting me on?

I wish, Lonny thought. No. Were damn serious.

They returned to the lake but no corpse ever showed. They waited until daylight before they gave up. They believed the corpse already returned to the water before they got there. Theyd

have to wait until tomorrow night.

The next night Lonny and Brianna picked up Sheralyn. She wore a tight short black dress. Lonny wondered if this girl was completely clueless. She looked dressed for a night out rather than to help stop a murderer.

The sun set behind the field in front of the lake. The cool evening provided the occasional breeze.

Are you sure I need to be with you guys? Sheralyn whined.

Lonny said, After you spurned him, we fear youll be his third victim.

They drove back to the McClusky farm. Lonny dropped Brianna off there.

You call me if Andrew shows, Lonny said. Ill let you know if I find anything.

All right. She hid in the pumpkin patch and waited.

Lonny drove Sheralyn to the lake. He grabbed a red gas canister and a lighter from the back of his van.

What are you going to do? she asked.

The only way to break this spell is to burn the corpse.

What makes you think its in the lake? she asked.

Lonny set the gas can down. It cant return to its grave until it completes the ritual. It has to remain hidden somewhere during the day. Without the help of the cops dragging the lake, how could we find it to destroy it? And I doubt were going to get the help of the police to do that.

Sheralyn shuddered. This is exactly why I split up with Andrew.

A light breeze rippled he lake. Lonny thought the body was coming up, but the water turned calm again. What do you know about the McCluskys? he asked.

Herman and Gerald, those two Neanderthals, still live with their father.

Do they have any link to Andrew?

No way, Sheralyn said. He hated the farmers.

Dusk turned into darkness. Lonny nervously looked at his watch. No body rose from the water. Why hasnt it risen? He called Brianna. Anything happening?

No. No Andrew. No dead body. How about you?

Ditto. Are the McCluskys at home right now?

I dont see any lights on.

Maybe theyre gone, Lonny said. Maybe the corpse is hiding there, maybe in the barn or the house.

Ill go check.

Okay. Be careful. Im only waiting here for a little while longer.

All right.

Lonny hung up. We know Andrew has killed two older people. He needs at least one virgin to complete the ritual.

Sheralyn chuckled bitterly. What makes you think Im a virgin? I lost that to Andrew when we were seniors in high school. I guess that makes me safe, right?

Lonny was nearly speechless. The other two people were obviously too old to be virgins. Sheralyn looked so young. He just assumed she was one. If its not you, then whos his third victim?

Sheralyn shrugged. What about your girlfriend? Is she a virgin?

Shes not my girlfriend—” Lonny didnt actually know if Brianna was a virgin. And still no corpse rose from the lake. If it wasnt hiding there, where was it?

Oh, sorry, Sheralyn said. I thought she was. Do you have a girlfriend? She smiled seductively.

Great. Ive got the ex of a murdering psycho who likes me.

Two crows flew overhead squawking wildly as they headed to the graveyard. Lonny remembered the crows picking at the scarecrow.

Oh, dear Jesus, no, he gasped.

What is it? Whats wrong?

Lonny grabbed the can of gas and ran to the van. Come on! I think Brianna is in trouble.

Andrew wasnt hiding the corpse in the lake. The corpse was the scarecrow. Thats why the crows picked at it. They ate the dead flesh.

Lonny sped through the village. He tried to call Brianna but she wouldnt pick up. Oh, dear

God, please dont let me be too late.

Brianna checked the barn but found nothing. She saw a dim light on the living room window when she got close to the house. It was a lit jack o lantern. The candle was nearly burned out.

The body of Jeremy Herbrand slipped off the cross in the pumpkin patch.

When Brianna knocked on the door, Herman answered the door. He was tall with a large skull and a short uneven haircut like he did it himself.

Brianna said, Excuse me, but—”

Who the hell are you? Herman grumbled. And what are you doing out here at this hour of the night?

Sorry, I didnt think it was that late. Im looking to see if youve seen Andrew Dorian.

Andrew Dorian? He exclaimed.

What? Gerald shouted from inside. Andrew Dorian? Is that freak out there?

No, but I think one of his Satan worshipping whores is on our front stoop.

Im not with Andrew! Brianna sneered.

I bet youre not, you little slut!

He yanked her inside and slammed the door. Gerald grabbed her by the back of her hair and

threw her to the couch. Were going to teach you dirty bastards not to worship the devil on our land!

Herman, another large ogre in overalls with a bad haircut, popped off the couch. The television blared Dancing with the Stars.

Gerald and Herman jumped on top of Brianna. She screamed as she tried to fight both of them.

Gerald started to tear at Briannas top when someone kicked in the back door.

What the hell? Herman shouted. He leaped off her.

Black Andrew burst into the living room. He wore all black. His muscles flexed. His long dark flew in all directions. Damn you! You rednecks are wrecking everything!

Andrew Dorian! Gerald shouted. He grabbed a shot gun from the mantle above the fireplace. You son of a bitch! We knew you were responsible for desecrating our land. He aimed the gun at Andrew. Say your prayers to your devil, you satanic scum. Youre about to go to Hell!

The corpse of Jeremy Herbrand smashed through the front door. Its decomposing flesh stunk like road kill out in the summer sun. Bits of its ghastly white skin hung loosely over its face.

The crows ate its eyes and gouged holes in its head. The body dressed in a dark blue suit walked awkwardly, stiff with rigor.

What the god damn hell is going on tonight? Herman screamed.

Gerald shot the corpse twice. The rounds went right through it and blew a large hole through the closet doors. The body staggered and groaned but that didnt stop it. The corpse ripped the rifle away from Gerald and flung him over a recliner and against the wall. Brianna covered her ears and curled into a ball.

Andrew kicked Herman in the stomach and beat him over the back of the head. He threw

him into the TV and smashed it. Brianna remained frozen in fear on the couch.

Sheralyn screamed when she and Lonny ran through the front door.

Brianna! Lonny shouted. The corpse is after you. Youre the third sacrifice! Lonny jumped on top of Andrews back.

What the hell are you doing? Andrew screamed. Im trying to save Brianna!

Lonny wanted to kill this monster. Bullshit!

Brianna ran through the fighting and grabbed Sheralyn and jerked her into the kitchen.

The corpse grabbed Gerald and bashed his head through the plaster wall and then flung him through the window.

Brianna found a ceramic bowl in a cupboard in the kitchen. She shoved it into Sheralyns hands. Brianna found a bottle of whiskey in another cupboard and poured it into the bowl.

What are you doing? Sheralyn cried.

Brianna turned on a burner from the gas stove and snagged a roll of paper towels from the counter and ignited it. The corpse stumbled into the kitchen. Sheralyn screamed.

Dump that onto the corpse, Brianna ordered.

Sheralyn squealed as she splashed the whiskey onto the corpse and Brianna lit it on fire. The corpse burst into flames and howled. It fled out the back door. It collapsed onto the back lawn and burned to a charred skeleton.

Black Andrew grabbed Lonny by the dreadlocks, flung him off, and kicked him in the head.

Andrew saw the burning corpse run out of the house. Damn it! He shot out the front door and disappeared. Lonny shook away the cobwebs. He heard no sound of a car and couldnt see where Andrew fled.

Lonny ran to the girls. They went out back and made sure the corpse burned to its demise. Lonny got a hatchet from the McClusky barn and hacked the corpse apart.

Lonny and Brianna took off and left the McCluskys to explain the mess to the police. Lonny didnt care what they said. Let them try to tell the sheriff about an attacking corpse. Lonny knew the McCluskys wouldnt mention them after those farm boys attacked Brianna.

As Lonny and Brianna drove back home, Lonny said, I didnt know youre a virgin.

Brianna glared at him. Then she shot him a seductive smile.

Copyright  John Michael Osborne 2012

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