tagErotic HorrorThe Recording of Helena Craine

The Recording of Helena Craine

byJ_R_Ashunwhy©

Mentally, and physically exhausted, I forced myself to once again tap the damned play button of my voice recorder, while I reviewed the transcript upon my desk from my latest and most infamous case to date.

***

"Dude, like this place totally creeps me right the hell out."

"Isn't that what you signed up for? We're not even to any of the creepy areas yet." I smirked, annoyed.

More whining already? For someone who had exclaimed she was excited to broaden her horizons just a few days ago, my assigned roommate had been doing an awful lot of whining ever since she climbed into the passenger seat of my car in her designer outfit, 'fuck me' stiletto heels, teased hair, and ridiculous layers of make-up.

My mother had asked me to drive home from campus--being only an hour drive away--to attend to her trick-or-treaters while she and my step-father went away on a business trip during the week. I would only ever come home if I could bring friends back with me, and when I asked my mother if that would be alright still, I was told that I could bring friends as long as I did not throw some huge college party in her empty house. I had asked my friends if any of them wanted to get away from campus for the night, and had offered a good scary walk through the woods that I had grown up in as a Halloween incentive. My best friend jumped at the idea, exclaiming he wanted to see my teenage room to better understand me, and he offered to bring a few bottles of whiskey to sweeten the deal further. It was after Niko signed on, that April--a spoiled, self-centered priss from Long Island--insisted she would love to see 'how the other half lived.'

I knew why the whining started in the car: Niko had bailed on us at the last minute because his ex-girlfriend paid him a surprise visit at campus while wearing nothing but a 'naughty' Freddy Krueger outfit. Not one to blame him for choosing a tall, skinny brunette in black, knee high boots and an oversized sweater torn enough to expose a lack of undergarments, over traveling to babysit a house, I did not tell April that Niko was not joining us until after she was in the car, and we were already leaving campus.

I was hurt enough as it was when Niko stopped mid-conversation upon catching a glimpse of his former girlfriend dressed with the sole intention of seducing him for just another one night stand to occupy herself between lovers, to insist that he joined us like he promised that he would. I had thought once, that Niko deserved so much better than that witch, but by then, I had been forced to realize that the two were meant to torment each other.

Were I going anywhere else but home, I would have told April of Niko's deception beforehand so that she could storm off and let me be, but I never went home alone, and regardless of what I thought of April, I still felt like I needed someone else to accompany me. April threw a tantrum in her seat while she wiped the extra layers of make-up off of her face, and combed out her hair, but no hate-filled resentful remark that she could produce, could ever come close to capturing how truly betrayed I had felt by my best-friend.

The little slut. She knew damn well that I had asked her to stay clear of any of my male friends; that was one of the conditions of our roommate contact that we had drawn up together at the beginning of the semester. My previous years at college had seen me stuck with unbearable roommates, and I learned that having a written contract was the easiest way to cope. I made plenty of friends at school, but all of them were male, and though I had no problem fitting in as one of the guys, campus refused to allow for men and women to live together in the same rooms, or even to share apartments on campus. Much to my displeasure, I had to have female roommates, and even more to my annoyance, they usually wanted to hook up with my best friend, Nikolaos.

If anyone within my own social circle was going to fuck that boy, it would be me. But, seeming how he already had an ex-girlfriend back home who still visited him when she was horny and could not find a suitable partner, that he was still sickeningly devoted to and refused to move on from, the title of 'best friend' would have to suffice.

"It gets worse than this?" April cried dramatically, before she crossed her arms over her face, and leaned against the nearest tree. "I wish we had brought one of the boys with us. Wouldn't you feel safer if one of the boys had come with us?"

I watched her for a moment in total awe. "You, are really fucking pathetic, April." I spat at her while I walked past her. "Come here, come and look at this."

We had not even entered the woods yet. We had been walking along an overgrown access road nestled behind a row of houses, and had not even made it to the trail I wanted to show her; the trail that I had wanted to share with all of my friends, but none of them had come with us.

Leaving the access road, I walked up the small hill that ran adjacent to it, and entered into the backyard that I had wanted to share with my boys. I had known the Hanes' home from growing up in the area, and I knew the secrets of that yard from stories my grandfather told me when I was small, but I had never tested his claims for myself.

I headed straight for the back porch without bothering to look around to see who was watching. Some neighbor was always watching, and had my grandparents still been alive, I know my grandmother would have been told that I had been tramping around in the woods again.

I heard April walking behind me; she was not graceful in the way she walked, and she rustled leaves and snapped small branches with almost every step she took. I would not need to worry too much about animals when we went back to the woods. Her clumsy footing, and obnoxious whining could be enough to scare off a bear.

When I reached the steps to the back porch of the Hanes' house, I crouched down, and felt for the edge of the paving stone before the wooden steps. I had to dig a bit around the sides to get my fingers under the stone, but when I did, I pulled the stone up for April to read the inscription over my shoulder.

She gasped. "Dearest Mother, Darling Wife. Totten. 23 August 1802. 14 January 1833." So, my grandfather had not just been telling tall-tales to scare us as children.

I turned my face over my shoulder to smirk at April whose face had greyed slightly. "Still wanna go play in the woods, city bitch?"

April's chestnut eyes were naturally very wide, but they seemed to grow to be almost the whole width of her face while she stared at the overturned tombstone. "Jesus, Lena, what the fuck?!" She breathed, just barely audible.

I gently returned the stone to how I had found it, and whispered a brief apology for disturbing it. I had learned the hard way before to be respectful. "This," I pointed to the back yard we had traveled across as I stood and faced April, "and all of that," I pointed to either of the adjoining lots, "was a cemetery in the eighteen hundreds. Everything else around here was mostly farmland, but when more homesteads started to push into the area, the town supposedly relocated all of the smaller plots, and integrated them into the then newly made Rose-Hill Cemetery. It was rumored that the bodies weren't actually moved, just the markers, but it was known that not even all of them had been relocated either. This back step for instance, was a common camp fire tale to scare local children, and everyone around will joke about having to install an above-ground pool if they want one. There is no law against in-ground pools, no ordinance or anything claiming that you can't have one, the locals just don't want the fallout from accidentally digging up one of the graves."

I could tell from the expression on April's face that she did not believe me, and honestly, that was fine with me. The last person that doubted me, and who had refused to listen, paid dearly for it. Three days of forensics teams, various police officers, reporters, tribal representatives, and curious onlookers had turned this neighborhood into a circus when one of the local boys found a skull while digging in his yard to make a dirt-bike track for himself and his brothers. I walked back to the access road beyond the garden, and over the hill, while listening to April drag her feet after me with a harrumph.

"Cut the bullshit, Lena," she called after me, "I'm not fucking stupid, and I've seen Poltergeist, thank you very much."

"Oh good, then I don't need to explain myself further." I laughed over my shoulder. I jumped down from the hill onto the access road, and stopped. The smell in the air was different; it was crisp like the autumn air should have been, but it smelt too sweet for that time of year. The smell was familiar, but I could not place it. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention, and goosebumps crisscrossed against the surface of my skin. "Do you smell that?"

April tripped trying to shuffle her way down the hill, but she caught herself on a low hanging branch. "Your bullshit? Yeah, I caught that smell, why?"

I rolled my eyes at her, and strained my ears. Silence. I had expected limited noise to be heard, sure that April would scare off most of the wildlife, but complete silence was disconcerting. I looked April over, and noticed she had already managed to tear the side of her leggings. I had told her to pack an old pair of jeans, and some boots, but she had brought neither item with her. I let her borrow an old pair of sneakers out of my closet from my old bedroom in my mother's house. Instead of being thankful for some proper footwear to walk in the woods, April had snubbed them and complained that they somehow clashed with her outfit.

'What if we run across some cute boys in the woods?' She had whined when I tossed the shoes at her.

'All the boys that live around here, I grew up with.' I reminded her. 'Do you have any idea what's it like to grow up with seven or eight younger brothers? Because that's what it felt like, growing up the only chick in this neighborhood, and I can guarantee that if any of them find us, they'll want nothing to do with you other than to make fun of the city girl stomping through the woods like she's never seen a tree before.'


"Right, so you don't smell it. I suppose you don't hear what I hear either, then."

April shrugged. "I don't hear anything."

"Exactly." I breathed scanning the surrounding area, and looking for a good reason for the lack of sound.

It was still mid-day, so children were still at school, and their parents were still at work. No children were screaming, excited to start their evening. No one was mowing or completing any other yard work. No dogs were left outside to bark. There was nothing that could make any noise to intimidate anything in the woods, and yet, the woods were responding to something.

April pushed past me with a growl. "Stop trying to scare me. I know it's Halloween and all, and you grew up 'round here, but if anyone jumps out at me with a mask to scream in my face, or some stupid shit like that, Imma cut 'chu, bitch. Don't test me."

Again, I found myself in awe of her. My head tilted a bit while I watched her stomp off into the woods proper, making a ridiculous amount of sound as she went for such a petite thing, and watched her flail helplessly at the branches that she passed. I had not thought to call ahead to one of my neighbors to wait in ambush somewhere on the trail, and for a moment, I was disappointed in my lack of planning. Oh well, maybe next year.

The eerie silence began to thoroughly disturb me the longer I stood; I had been back to visit my woods so many times, and never had they been so silent. "April," I called ahead to her, "if you want to skip the walk, we can...it was just a dumb idea to get the boys to join us tonight."

"Don't think the city girl can handle it, uh?" She yelled back over her shoulder while flipping me off as she marched forward.

When April turned behind a bush so that I could not see her any longer, I looked up to the pine tree that had been used as a marker to the entrance of the woods for as long as I could remember. Hanging off one of its top branches, the charm my eldest cousin had climbed the tree to place there, swung slightly in the soft, chilly breeze.

My grandmother had done her best to ensure all of her children and grandchildren were raised as devout Roman Catholics. The hypocrite. When my grandmother passed, several of my cousins and I found an old steamer trunk in the attic above her two car garage that was labeled with her mother's name, and when we opened it, we discovered all manner of charms, tarot cards, a bag filled with various stones, bones and other small items for casting, and several well-read, worn books and journals; all relating to some form of the occult or another. We were descendants of gypsies, and of course, being children unversed in anything we had found, we played with all of the contents of that trunk.

My eldest cousin was the worst offender; claiming to be of an ancient priestess' bloodline, she swore she could cast spells, and fight demons. She never knew of demons....not like how I did, but I still thought there must have been something protective residual in that charm from my great-grandmother. The woods always felt safe.

I turned my attention back to the trail, and followed after April without making a sound. I caught up to her easily, and just in time to warn her. "Hard left, or you'll end up in a blackberry bush."

"Jesus fuck!" She jumped in place to face me. "How the fuck did you sneak up on me like that?!"

I could not restrain my laughter at her plight, and April glared at me. To make amends, I pointed to the mass of thin, thorn laced branches balled together at her side. I carefully reached between the woven together, thorn covered branches, and pulled a few of the large, wild blackberries free. Three berries were large enough to cover the entirety of my palm. I picked one off of my hand, popped it into my mouth, and offered her the others.

"Gross," she hissed, "you didn't even wash them."

"Suit yourself." I shrugged, pulling my hand back from her and savoring the taste of the sun kissed, deliciously juicy, wild grown fruit. "I take it you wouldn't be interested in the patch of strawberries up ahead then either?" I turned to her in time to see her shake her head. "That's fine," I sighed, "we probably wouldn't find too many berries this time of year anyway."

April turned to her left as I had suggested, and then stomped off again. I picked a few more blackberries, and looked around at the surrounding vegetation. Not much of it displayed any signs that the wildlife had been nibbling on any of the surrounding leaves, or even on any of the fruit itself. Weird. I hung my head to look at the ground. April's tracks were clearly evident in the slightly damp terrain, but no other tracks could be seen.

I finished my berries, and then left the trail, walking straight ahead, and leaving April. The trail she was on would bring her down to the creek if she followed it correctly, so I knew she would catch up to me eventually. I was merely taking a shortcut, and one I knew April would not have been able to transverse. I climbed over the downed trees without effort, remembered where the rocks--hidden by the underbrush--jutted out of the ground just enough to trip someone not being careful, and I had no need to disturb any of the bushes or new saplings. The woods had grown since my last visit, but everything was still familiar to me. I could have been blindfolded and still found my way, but the small streams of light poking through the treetops provided such a peaceful ease in my soul that I forgot all about my roommate and the eerie silence. I carefully climbed down the steep slope that the trail avoids, and found the creek without any trouble at all.

The angelic scenery that greeted me, made me pause to inhale deeply. I had spent so many afternoons playing in and around that creek. I had explored every inch of it, following it from its start at the river, to where it empties into a large pond on the other side of town. Home for me had never been a building. Here in the woods, where the tall trees and surrounding brush enclosed protectively around the creek, I was home. Looking around the bank of the creek, and hearing the gentle splashes of water slowly trickling over the rocks, I was reminded of the silence before. Walking along the bank, I found no tracks here either. Something was wrong.

The stomping of my roommate could be heard long before she stumbled into view. "Weren't you behind me?" April yelled up-stream.

I watched her draw closer, and noticed a heavy shadow seemed to follow along the trees at her side. The shadow did not extend to the creek, glistening in the bright sun overhead, but it engulfed the trees more than a shadow of one lone person walking, should. "Are you alright?" I called to her uncertain of what I was seeing.

"No thanks to you!" She hollered back. "I did find something though. Wanna see it?"

I shook my head, not wanting anything to do with whatever she found, but I knew I would have to see it; there were still trinkets from graves that could be recovered from the woods after a heavy rain. Whatever she had found, I could not let her keep it. She reached into the front pocket of her hooded sweatshirt, and produced what looked like a small clay doll. I panicked.

"April! Drop it! Fucking drop it! Right Now!"

"Jesus fuck, Lena, calm down. It's just a doll!" She kept walking towards me, the shadow following along the trees, unnoticed by her.

"Drop it you stupid bitch!" I cried while I squatted to pick a few stones up out of the creek to hurl them at her should she come any closer to me. "How the fuck did you find that?! I buried that fucking thing years ago on the other side of the wood! Drop it! Tell it you never meant to find it, that you are sorry for carrying it as far as you did, and insist it let you leave in peace! Now!" I warned while flinging my arm back behind my head, and aiming a stone right between her eyes.

April stopped short, and almost tripped over herself. "Or what? Is this some country girl prank? You're just trying to scare me right?"

"Does it look like I'm just trying to scare you?" I asked, my voice trembling as hard as the rest of me. "Drop it, or I'll drop you. That is not something you want to be playing with."

"Lemme guess," April rolled her eyes, and then looked to the small, clay doll in her hand, "you're gonna give me another poltergeist story about this thing being possessed, or some shit?" I nodded, and she laughed. She held the doll straight out in front of her, towards me.

"You don't feel it?" My lips quivered.

"Feel what, Lena?"

I huffed at her. "Right now...what are you feeling? Describe it, all of it."

"Well you just had me tramping through the woods, so as you might expect, I'm feeling a little sweaty. I'm breathing heavily, my heart is racing...I can hear the blood pounding in my ears... My cheeks feel like I'm blushing really hard...my body feels really warm...but feels really...I dunno...tingly? Whatever, I feel pretty good."

"Sounds like you feel aroused. Not like you went for a light walk, not even a mile in length, on the easiest trail. How excited are you? Are you wet right now?"

April's jaw fell open, and she gawked at me. "Jesus fuck, Lena!"

"Shot in the dark, but I'd bet money that right now, your slutty pussy is dripping wet. Your panties, if you bothered to wear any at all, are soaked completely through, and your body is begging for the teasing to end."

"Teasing?" April gasped, shook her head, and then looked back to the doll in fear. There was a change in the look in her eyes that I could not see very well from where she stood, but she suddenly dropped the doll in front of her with a shriek. "Lena!"

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