[Mysteriousheartland.com] Alexi “Wildchild” Laiho’s inarticulate shrieks reverberated around the cabin of the dark blue Toyota Corolla. Aurelia registered her disapproval of the music with a loud groan while Mike swerved onto a darkened side street off Cuba Road in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
“Turn this crap off,” Aurelia demanded as she reached for the volume dial.
Mike intercepted her hand as it crossed over the cup holder. “You can’t turn off Children of Bodom,” he said.
Aurelia twisted out of his grasp and dug her fingernails into his forearm. “Yes, you can,” she insisted.
Tearing his arm away, Mike braked just in time to avoid two raccoons that scampered across the road. The Toyota’s brakes locked and its two occupants jolted forward.
Aurelia screamed, but quickly regained her composure when she realized they were unhurt.
“Jesus,” Mike blurted. “You almost made us crash!”
“Oh, go screw yourself,” Aurelia replied. “Where are we, anyway? Are we almost there?”
Mike turned down the volume on the tape deck. “Well,” he said, “this is Rainbow Road. According to legend, there is an abandoned asylum along this road. I thought it would be fun to take a break and just go exploring, but I’m not sure where the entrance to the asylum is.”
The dark blue Toyota carefully navigated several more curves in the road, until a gate appeared along the left hand side. Overgrown weeds and shrubbery showed that no one had used it in many years.
“Something tells me we just found it,” Mike whispered as he slowed down the car to a crawl and guided it to a stop on the gravel shoulder.
“We’re not going in there, are we?”
“Of course we are,” Mike responded. “Why do you think we came all the way out here?”
“Being arrested for trespassing once this year wasn’t enough for you?” Aurelia asked as she unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the passenger door.
“No one is going to arrest us,” Mike insisted. “It’s already past ten o’clock, who’s going to be on this road?” He exited the Toyota and slammed the door. “Just because those other jerks bailed on me, don’t bail on me too.”
“Greg, Emmet, and Davin bailed on us because your obsession with the astral portal is leading nowhere,” Aurelia corrected him.
“Ye of little faith,” Mike retorted. With a press of his thumb, the electric torch in his hand lit up. He scanned the perimeter of the gate, and discovered that it did not connect to a fence.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Aurelia whispered as she followed him through the gap and onto the property.
The chirp of crickets was the only sound that greeted them as they made their way down the dark driveway. The beam of their flashlights traced the contours of trees and bushes, looking for any sign of a building.
At last, the two found themselves beside a small pond. Across the pond, on the other side of an old silo, stood an unusually large farmhouse. All of its windows were missing, and dirt and graffiti covered its white, clapboard siding.
“Jackpot,” Mike whispered. He stroked his chin. “This doesn’t look like an asylum though. Just an old, abandoned farm.”
“Reality strikes again,” Aurelia said. She tossed her head back to see if anyone had followed them onto the property. The drive was as dark and lonely as it was when they first entered. She felt a shiver crawl up her spine. “Something doesn’t feel right,” she said. “I think someone else is here.”
“Nonsense,” Mike responded. “We’re not going back. If anyone else is here, let them come out and cause a problem.”
Putting one boot steadily in front of the other, Mike marched towards the farmhouse’s front porch while a cold wind rushed past. The large porch wrapped around the front and side of the house. An old swing lay shattered on the porch, but it was, aside from a generous collection of empty beer cans, otherwise barren.
Mike and Aurelia climbed the stairs and found someone had removed the front door from its hinges. Inside, the bright beams projecting from their electric torches illuminated empty rooms and more graffiti.
“It doesn’t look like anything is in here,” Aurelia said.
“Thanks,” Mike replied sarcastically. “Maybe there’s something on the second floor.”
Suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks and his eyes strained in the darkness to take in the whole picture. Someone had painted a deep red pentagram onto the hardwood floor in the living room. He estimated the symbol was several yards in diameter.
“Is… is that blood?” Aurelia blurted.
“It sure looks like it,” Mike said. His voice failed to hide his excitement. “What did I tell you? Didn’t I say we would find something here?”
As his mouth closed, a family of opossums scurried through the living room and almost ran into Aurelia, who shrieked.
“Blast it!” she screamed. “Why do these freaking animals keep coming around us?”
“Maybe they smell something,” Mike offered, but before he could finish his thought, the stairs creaked.
Mike and Aurelia trained their flashlights on the interloper, whose pressed, white suit and sunglasses immediately gave her away.
“Not you again,” Aurelia groaned.
The middle-aged woman with curly, brown hair and rosy cheeks thrust out her hand, which clutched a large, wooden cross. “Stay where you are,” she ordered.
“We’re not vampires, you idiot,” Mike spat.
“What are you doing here?” the woman demanded as two silver-haired men entered the living room from a hallway. “What were you doing with this pentagram?”
“What?” Mike said. “We didn’t make this.”
“Right,” one of the men replied. “The days of you scum taking over and using old buildings like this for your sick rituals are over.”
“Look,” Mike reasoned, “we didn’t do any of this. How do we know that you’re not trying to set us up? You were obviously waiting for us this whole time. Although I have no idea how you knew we were coming here.”
Another woman dressed in white stepped through the front door. The group now blocked all the exits.
Aurelia, who had been quiet since the first zealot appeared, spun around and grit her teeth. “There are no cops around to stop me this time,” she hissed. “Do you want to find out what I’m capable of?”
The woman in the doorway hesitated and took a few steps backwards. She looked up at the matron on the stairs for help.
“What are you going to do?” Mike said defiantly. “You might have us outnumbered, but our friends will be here any minute. You better make a decision.”
“How dare you defy us!” the brown haired woman yelled. “Who are you? Miscreants. Outlaws. No one will believe you when we expose your misdeeds. Other paranormal investigators will shun you. Law enforcement will hunt you all over the state. You’ll never find the sacred gate.”
Mike and Aurelia were unhesitant in their reaction. The two bolted for the front door, straight at the woman who blocked their way. Working in unison, they shoved her aside and she stumbled and fell against the porch.
Halfway down the stairs, Aurelia faltered. “I twisted my ankle!” she cursed.
Mike doubled back and slung Aurelia’s arm around his shoulder. As the zealots spilled onto the porch, Mike and Aurelia turned off their flashlights and stealthily made their way back down the driveway.
“Crowley’s ass that was close,” Mike panted as they ran through the bushes and emerged near the iron gate. “How the hell did they get in there without us knowing?”
“I told you I sensed something,” Aurelia replied as she winced in pain.
Mike frantically helped Aurelia into their car and climbed over her into the driver’s seat. “We’ll have to be more careful,” he yelled. The tires squealed and the car sped away just as the zealots burst from the bushes.
“That’s the last time we go anywhere by ourselves,” Aurelia panted.
[New episode every Friday…]
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