Hi Folks ... it's October! Time for the creatures of the night. This is the first of a batch of stories with a Halloween bent, so if you don't like those, you should probably pass this one by. I started the story out trying out another new editor ... God I miss Mikothebaby ... I ended up finishing it with SirCharles5150 from last week. He cot in at the last minute and did an absolutely heroic job. Here we go. SS06
New Orleans is a city of contrasts. As soon as visitors stepped foot in the city, its character washed over them like a hurricane. Its rich cultural diversity and old world charm just seemed to fit right in alongside all of its modern conveniences. The swampy, hot, humid weather seemed to only add to its down home sophistication.
Internet bars and Starbucks franchises competed for space on the avenues. But in New Orleans they sat right beside fortune teller's shops, voodoo bookstores and hundreds of tiny yet charming mom and pop restaurants that served the most enticing blend of French, Southern and Creole fare.
Religion, be it Catholic, Voodoo, Paganism or whatever, was very in your face. And it wasn't unusual to see statues or posters of the saints, whether the religious icons or the very modern day football team in the windows of both large and small shops.
Tourists are a big part of the city. They come from every area of the country and the planet to experience Jazz, Ragtime, Blues and a thousand other types of music and entertainment that the city is famous for.
Me, I'm Theresa Gillian, I'm thirty four years old, I've lived here all of my life, and I hate it. I can't wait to get out of this cesspool. This city is so full of sin and evil that I often feel like I need to take three showers a day and go to church twice just to keep my soul clean. I've been saving all of the money I can, as quickly as I can, so I can move to Chicago to live near my cousin and her family.
That is my dream. Ever since I visited her three years ago to attend her wedding, I've wanted to go back there. I know that Chicago isn't the nicest place on the planet. They have crime and all of the other ills that every big modern city has. But the difference is that its ills and even its evils are clean, human problems. They don't reek with the touch of evil that permeates the air here.
Maybe it's the fact that because of the water table we have to bury the dead above ground. And that keeps them so close to us that you can fell the presence of the dead all around you. Maybe it's just that being an old city brings the air of past times, past crimes and past evil, closer to the city in an intimate way.
My parish priest once told me that old spirits, both good and bad liked the places that were familiar to them, so an older city has more ghosts. But whatever it is, in only a few months, I'll be free of this place.
Some of the woman that I work with, cleaning hotel rooms in the big tourist type hotels near the quarter laugh at me when I talk about it. But I know what I feel. And I know what I know.
The tourists especially the younger ones with their piercings and their tattoos, who come down here looking for God knows what, should be more careful. Some of those poor young people disappear and are never heard from again. I truly believe that some of them came face to face with what they sought.
Those poor stupid children with archaic languages and metal decorating their bodies have no idea about the forces they play with. Most of them are just looking for thrill. They want to be scared. They are no more prepared for what they find here than those stupid paranormal investigators on TV. They go into a haunted house carrying thousands of dollars worth of equipment, trying to find ghosts or evidence of the supernatural.
What always makes me laugh is how quickly those expert ghost hunters scramble and run out of the pace as soon as something goes bump in the night. Why do they run? I mean the whole intention of their visits is finding ghosts, right? So why would they run as soon as they find one?
They run because it's a human reaction to things that the mind just can't face. There are some things that people should just leave alone. And although those idiots' conscious minds tell them to go and tease the ghosts, their subconscious minds know better.
I pray for all of them though because they really don't understand what they're playing at. Tattoos and body piercings are the devil's way of marking his children. And sooner or later he comes to claim them. If you tease a demon you shouldn't be surprised when he snatches you. Here in New Orleans, magic, whether spiritual, Christian, or evil, is all real. The city is like a nexus point where all kinds of things just seem to come together.
Some places just resonate with a certain type or power. The Catholics have Rome. The witches and Pagans have Salem. The Native tribes have the Great Lakes region, but New Orleans just seems to be the place where they all interact.
So walking around here with a pentagram or an upside down cross tattooed over your hoo-hah is only going to get you in trouble.
Wednesday night, I was walking home after my shift, with one of the girls who lives near me. As we passed by the old convent near the French Quarter, she looked upwards suddenly and let out a gasp. I looked to see what had startled her and noticed that a man was climbing out of one of the windows on the upper floor. It had to be about forty feet up.
He looked around and then just jumped. We were frozen on the spot. Caroline and I both thought that he had jumped to his death. But when he landed, his legs buckled and then he stood up and walked away as easily as if I had just jumped down from a truck with a lift kit.
Caroline gasped and crossed herself, because we both knew that nothing human should have been able to do that. Suddenly he turned towards us. We ducked behind the building we were passing and went back the other way. I learned at an early age to never let the Devil know that you've seen him.
By the time I got home I was still shaking about what I had seen. The very next morning I told my priest about it when I went to church to pray. He of course proved to be useless. He asked me several times whether I was sure of what I'd seen and if was I was taking any kind of drugs or medication. For a man of the cloth who is supposed to do battle in God's name, against the forces of evil, he seemed to be just as scared as I was.
He even told me not to tell anyone about what I saw. He told me it was probably just a trick of the light or some sort of fatigue making me think I saw something that I didn't actually see.
I went to work today with the intention of having Caroline go to the church with me, so she could tell Father Scaredy pants that she saw it too. Both of us couldn't have been fooled by a trick of the light. Both of us weren't suffering from the same fatigue.
The problem was that Caroline didn't show up for work today. This is the first time I remember her missing work. When I called her, I got no answer. I'm pretty sure that she ran off with that man she's been dating. She's always telling me how she's tired of being alone. So maybe she took him up on one of his offers. He's a truck driver and always asks her to go out on the road with him. I figured that he's married otherwise he'd have asked her to marry him by now. Being out on the road in a truck would be just like playing house. And that's a sin.
I've decided that tonight, I'm going to either walk home the long way and avoid the old convent or maybe just walk over to the taxi stand that's right down the street from hotel. Even though it isn't a convent anymore, I'm not walking past that place again. I still get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.
It's a warm night but I feel cold for some reason. I pull my sweater closer around my shoulders to keep the chill out. It just seems funny that on a night when it's eighty degrees out, I'm still cold.
I sit down on the bench to wait for a taxi. A shrunken dark skinned man smoking one of those foul foreign cigars nodded his head at me.
"Ah'll be back in just a shake ma'am," he says. "I just gotta' get my log book and take a leak. There's my cab right there, if you wanna wait inside of it."
It sounded like a good idea to me. There were people just across the street in the sidewalk cafes. There were a couple of Zydeco musician down the block playing for tourists. But there was something wrong with the night itself. It just seemed like the darkness was palpable. If you looked only two feet away from the street lights it was dark again. It almost seemed like the light couldn't chase away the darkness. Waiting inside of the cab sounded like the best idea I heard, so I got up to walk the twenty feet over to the cab.
I never made it. He stepped out of one of the puddles of darkness, as if the dark itself was a cloak to cover him. For some strange reason it seemed as if I was the only one who could see him.
It was as if he had hypnotized me. I couldn't look away from his eyes. He had one of those corny old hats that they used to wear forty or fifty years ago and a ratty old coat. He even had a walking stick. Who the hell carries a walking stick nowadays?
He spoke in a Cajun accent so thick that I could barely understand what he was saying. "Ya saw me th' other night huh Chere?" he asked.
Recognition fired in dormant brain cells along with fear. I tried to run but my body refused to cooperate. My heart started to beat faster and louder and I wanted to scream but for some reason I couldn't. He turned again towards the darkness and I followed him without even being asked.
.... There is more of this story ...