Authors: Jack Wallen
By Jack Wallen
Copyright 2014 by Jack Wallen
PUBLISHED BY: AUTUMNAL PRESS
This book is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise noted, names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously (unless otherwise noted). Any resemblance to actual locales, events or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic format without express permission from the author. Please do not participate or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Claire C. Riley
Julianne Q Johnson
Special thank you to Grog Rox and Die So Fluid for their music and inspiration.
Among you started as a dream…quite some time ago. I carried the idea with me, through the years, knowing it would eventually be given life. Somehow. It had to…it was
important to me.
During my career as an actor, I wrote a one-act play for young audiences called
. That was the first incarnation of the dream and was geared toward a fairly young audience. Even after writing that play, I knew the dream was not done with me.
There was more tale to tell.
Fast forward a few years and I married a lovely woman with three wonderful children. The youngest child got a hold of
and fell in love with it. For years she encouraged me to do something more with the story. It was after much prodding that I finally understood what that dream (and Courtney) wanted – for the story of Monsterville to grow up a bit and become a fully realized world.
That is how Among You came to be. This is an incredibly special story to me, one that I hope will touch you and stay with you for a very long time.
Is the dream done with me? I doubt it. This story will evolve into a series of stories, but I don’t think that is the end. For me and that long-ago dream, the Kindred, Scott, and Sally are only just beginning to take on life.
As a special treat, I am including the one-act play,
, at the end of this book. Please enjoy this script in its original, unedited form.
Among You is dedicated, with much love, to Courtney – without your encouragement, this book may never have happened.
prologue | masks
We all wear masks. Some to hide a dark truth, some to seek refuge from the horror of every day lies. Without these facades, we’d never make it; we’d live in complete fear that someone might see our true selves, or we’d simply curl up and fade away. It doesn’t really matter where you are, who you are, what status you hold in the world, if you’re famous, or little more than a ghost of what you once were.
You wear a mask.
You just don’t know it.
It took meeting someone so profoundly accepting of who they are to get me to realize how far away I’d tucked myself from everyone and everything
I’m a teenager. As if that weren’t tough enough, I’m one of
kids. You know the type…you see us everywhere. Most often we dwell on the periphery, watching all those blessed to be painted in a pale shade of normalcy and wishing we could just exist in their moment. If you look closely, you’d know we weren’t just
. Most often, we were surviving in the only way we knew – by mocking that which we couldn’t understand or know. It sounds horrible. Even when I think about it, I realize that we were no better than everyone else. Truth be told, we were worse. Why? Ours was a movement fueled by jealousy.
Movement. That’s a joke. It’s not like I, or any other outcast I knew, started an uprising. Generally speaking, we just sat back and wished we were cool. In retrospect, we just didn’t realize being cool was just another layer. Well, I didn’t know it…until I discovered what lay beneath the mask. Once you peel away the facade, the entirety of the world is cast in a new light. Shadows dissipate, doubt creeps away, and the banal is replaced by the fantastic.
Once you see what’s underneath, it cannot be unseen; nor can you dismiss the desire to see and want more. The very idea that something ‘other’ walks among us threatens both logic and faith.
I’ve seen beyond that veil and I can never go back.
Not that I’d want to. My eyes have been opened and a truth I never knew could possibly exist has helped me become as near to an ‘other’ as I could ever wish. The moment I was stripped of my mask was the single most defining moment in my life.
I was once lost, but now I am found.
You know the rest of
Some stories shouldn’t be repeated. Some stories should, but remain forever lost in a sea of sameness. This story cannot be silenced; and yet silence is the only assurance of survival.
‘Cryptic’ is one of my better qualities.
It’s time I explain.
My name is Scott Maskey. The kids at school call me Spooky. I wish the nickname was some ironic throwback to the X-Files, but it’s not. I earned that name, fair and square, thanks to an over-active imagination, a passion for horror, and a dad who owned the town’s only tattoo shop.
So, yeah, I get the name. In some circles, that name is a badge of honor. When my best friend, Sally, calls me ‘Spooky’, there’s a certain sense of pride to be had. When the ass-clowns at Eastwood High School tossed the nickname around, it always felt like they were digging at me with ice picks and blowtorches. Thankfully, Sally was always there to pick up my pieces.
Sally. Yeah. I’m one of
. Everyone always said I couldn’t be friends with a girl. At some point, one of us would certainly develop a crush and get hurt. It happened.
That’s beside the point.
Okay, not really; I don’t feel like dwelling on that bit of emotional scar tissue at the moment. What I really want to do is pull back the bandage and let this festering wound breathe before it goes septic and everything in its path withers and dies. So, with that said…
It began with a haunted house.
But then, doesn’t everything…
one | Gaultier House tragedy 1890
I saw something run into the house,” the constable shouted. The barrel of the man’s gun stood out proudly before him, ready to tear through the flesh and life of the monstrosities they tracked to the Gautlier house.
Was it them?” A second officer questioned.
The darkness lowered a blanket of fear over the night.
No one knew exactly what horrific tortures the disfigured beasts were capable of inflicting; so every man was armed and prepared to fire a killing shot.
The lead officer reached out his hand to grab the doorknob
A crash sounded from within; both men jumped back and dropped to the ground.
Was it armed?”
How in the name of the Lord was I supposed to see that when the only light we have is our lanterns.”
Wait, where’s your…”
The first officer looked out toward the barn, where the chase began. A slight glimmer of light spilled from out of the open door.
The first soldier swallowed hard. “What do we do?”
We have our orders. Those monsters are to be killed on sight.”
We have no choice.” The lead constable stepped to the door once again. His hand shook with mild violence as his fingers grasped the brass and glass knob. With held breath, his hand slowly twisted the knob clockwise to free the door from its latch. A haunting squeal announced, to anyone (or anything) within range,
the trespassers were about to break the threshold of sanctuary.
A blast of cold, stale air assaulted the flesh of the constable’s face. Without a word, the man cautiously entered the mansion and raised the barrel of his rifle. He stepped forward, into the thick of a spider’s web. The sticky silk wrapped around his head. With lightning reaction, the constable’s right hand shot up to clear the web from his face.
Before his finger could return to the trigger, something raced across his line of sight.
A soft giggle preceded a whispered hiss.
Come out,” the man shouted. “This is Constable Murphy. I am prepared to shoot on sight, should you refuse to come peacefully.”
The low, rumbling voice filled the room from every direction.
The second officer entered the room, his voice unsteady. “That’s not how this is supposed to happen
Quiet,” Constable Murphy whispered. He then returned his attention to the disembodied voices.
If you do not comply, we have shoot-to-kill orders.”
Get out!” The rumbling voice turned to a raging thunder.
A gunshot flashed and echoed off the walls.
What are you doing,” Constable Murphy demanded.
I thought I saw something,” the second answered.
A muffled cry interrupted a brief silence.
What just happened,” Murphy whispered.
Again, Murphy whispered to his fellow officer. “Constable Frasier, report.”
The only reply was a muted plea followed by a crunching snap.
If you do not leave, your fates will be forever entwined,” the deep, distant voice threatened.
Who are you?”
Answer me,” the constable shouted, “who are you?”
We have walked among you for centuries without your knowledge. Your lives have been enriched by our presence. The second you behold our visage, fear overrules your sense of compassion and you destroy us. We are few, but we are mighty. We are disappearing, but we are forever. Shoot again and your life is forfeit.”
Another silence was interrupted by the click of a gun hammer.
So be it,” the deep voice replied.
A door to untold horrors cracked open to reveal a shadow-dark face. In the obscurity of shades, imagination took flight – actively painting a hideous, blood-curdling picture. It was one of
. The creature stepped from the shadows – feminine, yet hideous. A beast caught within a transfiguration between human and monster.
Please,” the thing whispered. The voice was far from threatening – a plea made soft by the gentle voice.
A singular beam of moonlight pierced through a tear in the fabric of a curtain. When the veil of shadow was pulled back, the hideous facade of the creature was revealed.
Without thinking, the constable pulled off a shot.
Blood and gore sprayed out in three hundred and sixty degrees. The figure in the door dropped like a sack of wet death
Before the constable’s brain realized what he’d done, the raging voice returned with a moan so tragic, any heart within hearing distance immediately broke. The walls and the floor shook with rage.
I will tear your flesh to pieces,” the basso voice tore through the darkness.