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“Not Like the Others” — A story by Brittany Hale

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Brittany Hale, guest writer

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A stranger with an odd secret, fumbles into Vanessa’s life.

Can Vanessa handle what is in store for her?

 

Not Like the Others

The sky was getting dark and headlights were starting to be bright. There wasn’t many vehicles out on the road. I had been driving for almost three hours now and I was starting to get hungry. I couldn’t decide if I was going to stop and get something to eat on the way or just keep driving the rest of the two hours. I decided to stop at a TA gas station and get something small. I walked into the store and everyone that was in there stopped what they were doing and looked at me. I smiled and kept going. I got a small pizza and a bottle of water.

When I got back to my truck there was a man on the driver’s side sitting against my tire on the ground. He looked dirty. He was wearing a dirty play button up shirt, dark blue jeans with holes in them, muddy sneakers and looked young like twenty-five. His hair was a mess and when he looked up at me his face was dirty. He was out of breath and it looked like he had been crying. I didn’t want to get too close to him so I kept my distance but sat down with him. He just kept looking at me.

Finally he talked to me, “What are you doing? They’re going to get you too if they see you with me.”

I instantly grew curious and confused. I said, “Why ask me what I’m doing when you are sitting against my truck tire? And I’m trying to figure out what you are doing by sitting here of all places. And I don’t know who ‘they’ are but I think I’ll be fine.”

He replied, “No, you don’t understand, they’re after me. The bad people. They don’t care who you are, they’ll get you too. You can’t be seen with me. I’m telling you the truth.”

I just looked at the man and told him to get in the truck with me. He sat there and didn’t move or even look at me for a little bit. Then he got up and shook his head but got in anyway.

I didn’t know what I was going to do with him, yet, but I knew I wasn’t going to leave him there for whoever he keeps muttering about to get him. Besides, they’re probably after me too. I just kept driving, I had figured that I would just take him to the house with me and let him hide out in the cabin until he felt safe enough to leave. I let him know where we were going and that he could stay there as long as he wanted. He didn’t say anything he just shook his head. He couldn’t understand why I kept helping him after he had already told me that they would get me too, little did he know, I wasn’t scared.

We got to the cabin around 10 p.m. that night. It was spectacular. Just the way I left it. Grass was green as ever, the dogs were so happy to see me. They didn’t seem to like my new friend, but they would warm up to him. He helped me carry my bags into the house and kind of just stood there like he didn’t really know what to do know.

I laughed and said, “My name is Vanessa. Vanessa Storm. Let me show you where you can sleep. I have four bedrooms in total. One is mine and you can pick which one you like the most out of the other two. What’s your name?”

He looked at me with his body and clothes still all types of dirty and said, “My name is Mason Greeze. I just want to tell you again that thy will find me. They always do. I don’t want to get you put in trouble too. But I thank you for letting me stay here tonight.”

I replied, “You’re not just staying for tonight. You are staying until it is safe. Let them come. I’ll be fine. I’m not scared, we’ll take them and make sure they know they came after the wrong people.”

Mason gave me a little smile and decided he wanted to second room I showed him. The medium size one with only one window and tan walls, a king size bed and a mini fridge. The bathroom was directly across the hallway. I had some old clothes from one of my best guy friends that used to stay here when I left town for long periods of time. They were about the same size so I knew they would fit. He said thank you and headed to the bathroom to shower.

I went downstairs to make something small to eat. I turned the oven on and put almost a whole box of 16 of corn dogs on the pan and shoved it into the oven. Then I started making tea so that I had some freshly made sweet ice tea to drink while I was eating. I turned the kitchen T.V on to the country radio that I never turned off and then went to my room to change out of my pants and into basketball shorts and a t-shirt. Mason was coming out of the bathroom about the same time I was coming out of my room. I informed him that I was making some good gourmet food and I expected him to be hungry and want to eat.  A little later I put some corn dogs on my plate and told him to come get some food and we would sit down in the dining room and eat. He came into the kitchen and looked at the pan full of corn dogs on the counter. He looked at me with a smile and laughed a little.

“So this is the ‘good’ food you was talking about?”

I looked at him and said, “Yes, they’re my favorite thing to eat. Do you not like them?”

He replied, “No, it’s fine, to be honest they’re my favorite thing to eat too.”

He sat at the table and I had to know what was going on with him. I gave him a short background on myself.

“Well, I am 24 years old, and I live here most of the time. When I’m not out of town, that is. I don’t have any kids, no man, and hardly any friends. You see my three dogs. The bluenose pit’s name Dalilah, the German shepherd’s name is max, and the huge one, that’s Converse. He’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback. So what’s up with you, what’s your real story?”

He looked a little confused like he didn’t really know what to say. Then he sat up straight and took a deep breath.

“I don’t understand why a woman like you can have all of this, be successful, and not have kids or a husband, but I am 26 years old. I don’t have any kids or a wife. I used to have a nice house a little smaller than yours. My parents died two years ago in a car accident and my sister leaves in New York as a police officer.”

I wanted to ask so many more questions but I knew it wasn’t my place to start getting personal with him. So I just gave him a little smile and stood up to take my plate to the sink and turned back to let him know I was going to bed. I would have a real meal ready in the morning by the time he was awake.

That night I woke up to beating on windows and door knobs be shaken. I knew exactly what it was. There was only one possibility. I had to of been whoever Mason is scared of. They are here, they found me. They found us. I went down stairs and turned on the lights to the lower lever of the house. As soon as I did that, it all stopped. I looked around and it didn’t look like anyone had come inside. That was a good sign. I didn’t unlock and open any of the doors, I just went back to my room and went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and could smell food. I thought it was because I was just hungry but when I went down stairs Mason had made a full on breakfast. He looked at me a little worried and said, “I hope you don’t mind. I saw your ‘gourmet’ food last night and thought you might like some real food from someone who used to be a chef. I hear everything from last night but I hid in the closet because I didn’t know if they could get in. They found me a lot sooner than I thought they would.”

I still had a smile on my face from how much food he had made, it looked too good to be true. I said to him, “Don’t worry about last night. I wasn’t worried about it. I actually came down here to see who these things are you are so worried about and it seemed to me they are scared of light because as soon as I turned the light on they left.”

He replied, “You came down here? That’s crazy, what if they would have gotten in the house? Did you open the doors or anything?”

“Are you insane? Do I look like one of the blondes off of the movies that are looking to be killed? I just wanted to see who it was and why they wanted in my house to get to you so bad.”

We ate and I told him to explain to me what this was that has been going on with him. He had told me everything from the very beginning. They aren’t people but they are at the same time. No one has ever killed them but they can die. And they go after someone with a purpose and they don’t stop until they get them. All I had to say about it was that we were going to fight them and they were not leaving my property with you.

That day I went to town and got some food and things for the house. I even got Mason some clothes of his own. When I got home I told Mason to come downstairs and help me make some stuff to put up around the house. We mixed; vinegar, brown sugar, and salt in a gallon bucket and I told him to place it in a big circle around the house, the barn, and around every one of my dog cages. I explained that only real living things could enter the circle. So we would be safe inside them. Then I put small packs of gunpowder around the yard where I could see them from the second layer of the house.

A little later I was making some food for Mason and I went I heard him give a slight scream from outside and then within second he was coming in the front door and locking it. He looked at me a little scared and said, “They’re here…”

I told him, “Well if you set the mixture around everything like I had said then we should be fine. They can’t break through it. I’m going upstairs to see if I can shoot them. You can come and watch or stay and be scared, it’s up to you.”

I went upstairs and looked out the middle bedrooms windows, they’re everywhere, I shot the first gunpowder bag and five of them exploded. I kept shooting the bags I could see from the middle bedrooms windows. There goes another three, then five, two, four… They just kept going.

“How do you know how to handle this so well. Why are you so calm?”Mason asked from behind me.

I turned around and gave him a little smile and replied, “I had to deal with some stuff in my past, a part I’d rather not talk about right now.”

After a couple more bags being blown up and a lot more of those things dying, I heard the front window crash in. I told Mason to grab something heavy and get to swinging, it was about to get rough. There was still so many of them, it was ridiculous. I was shooting all over the place and Mason was swinging a ball bat like crazy, he had obviously played before. Mason got hit and he went down, I was doing everything I could to keep them away from him at that very moment.

But the second I turned around I got hit and taken down… I turned to Mason, grabbed his hand and said, “I tried to save you like I did the others, but they got me this time.”

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“Not Like the Others” — A story by Brittany Hale