By Anita Marie Moscoso
Inspired By The Alluvial Mine Project
Last night Kamcela Turnsole got a phone call from her neighbor whose name was Romey Setwall. ” Come over right away” her neighbor says.” My family is gone.”
Kamcela was glad Romey couldn’t see her because it was obvious what was on Kamcela’s face wasn’t confusion or shock.
It was relief.
She closed her eyes and for the fist time in days Kamcela could take a deep breath and relax. ” I’m sorry to hear that Romey, do you know where they went?”
” They’re in the living room. ”
Kamcela heard a click and then the line went dead and then she dialed a single number and without being asked by the operator at the other end she said, ” My friend just hurt her family, please come.”
The phone fell from her hand and Kamcela left it on the floor where she dropped it and then she stepped over it and went out into the darkness to the house next door and it took a million hours to reach it.
That’s how it felt anyway.
Kamcela was out on the Great Newspaper Hunt. It was a tradition that she and her paper carrier had. Her paper carrier blindly tossed the paper from her car window and Kamcela went out and walked the length of her yard and tried to find it.
Today wasn’t even sport, it was on the sidewalk, hanging off the curb and Kamcela wondered if the woman who brought the paper in the morning was parked around the corner just waiting for Kamcela to reach over so she could squash her under the wheels of her giant SUV when Kamcela heard a scream and she heard a door banging open and she saw her friend Romey running through the rose bushes that separated their yards.
” There’s a stranger in my house! Kamcela call the police!”
Then Romey’s door banged open again and Kamcela saw Sanford, Romey’s husband running through the rose bushes after her and he when he got to her yard didn’t even seem to notice Kamcela standing there in her t-shirt and socks with the newspaper clutched to chest.
Sanford grabbed Romey by her arm and spun her around and he stared hard down into her face.
But it was Kamcela he talked to.
” It’s okay Kamcela, she’s been having these night terrors and she doesn’t always wake up right away. She’s not herself right now.”
Romey pushed Sanford away and she didn’t scream, she didn’t yell …she looked up at him and growled, ” Get away from me. ”
They both went back into their house together and after that things just got worse.
Kamcela saw Romey later that day at the grocery store. Her children were walking ahead of her down the cereal aisle and when Kamcela looked up and saw Romey looking at the back of her children’s heads she wanted to grab them away from their Mother and run.
As they walked towards each other Romey only slowed down long enough to tell Kamcela, ” It took my children too. ”
On the second day Kamcela saw Romey standing out in her front yard wearing the same clothes from the day before, only they were wrinkled and her hair was unbrushed.
She walked around the Rose Bush Fence and into Romey’s yard and she stopped just a few feet away from Romey because she was scared.
Scared of that look on Romey’s face, scared of the way her voice sounded, scared of the way Romey’s foot was turned in.
Romey was standing on her ankle and didn’t seem to care.
“We went to Hidden Hills for a hike ” Romey told her. ” Sanford wanted to show the children that wall in the cave behind the waterfall with the petroglyphs. You know, the one with the drawings of those people with two faces.”
” And horns ” Kamcela said.
” And horns.” Romey agreed.
” Well, we go to leave and April and Kevin don’t want to leave. They’re looking at the pictures and when finally convince them to go April slips a little and I remember she looked down and the look on her face Kamcela…”
Kamcela waited and then she looked right into Romey’s eyes and Romey said, ” she looked down at her own feet and screamed. ”
” She was hysterical and crying that her feet were gone. It didn’t make any sense and then she tried to walk towards us. She fell and hit her head and there was blood everywhere. Sanford grabbed her and ran out and I grabbed Kevin and Kamcela…he bit me.”
” His teeth Kamcela were…they were wrong, they weren’t Kevin’s.”
Kamcela wasn’t afraid of her friend’s story.
What scared her was the feeling that what she was hearing was the truth.
On the third day, the last day Kamcela say April and Kevin walking passed her house. They were pushing their bicycles instead of riding them and when Kamcela called out to them they let the bikes fall over onto their sides and they stood there with their messy hair and dirty clothes…and they smiled at her.
Kamcela came within a few feet of the children and then she stopped and for no reason at all she wanted to run, she wanted to scream, she would have dug a hole in the concrete with her bare hands to get away from those two…
and she had no idea why.
April and Kevin stood there with their shoulders turned and a little twisted and their legs not quite straight and they looked up at Kamcela with those dull blue eyes of theirs and waited.
No they watched her.
” How’s your Mom” Kamcela asked.
The children reached down and picked up their bikes and started to walk away and Kamcela reached out, even though she didn’t want to and she put her hand on April’s shoulder and bit down hard on her lips.
It was April, she told herself. She was there the afternoon April was born at Alderwood Hospital, she was helped Romey set up Kevin’s nursery.
It was April and Kevin she told herself as she watched them walk away…it was April and Kevin.
Who else could it be?
The door was open and the house was dark and Romey was sitting on the bottom of the stairs.
” What’d you do Romey.” Kamcela asked.
” I’ve been in this house for the three days with those things, those things that killed my husband and my children. Those hideous little monsters…they don’t even look human Kamcela. How could you leave me alone with them? How could anyone leave me with those things?”
” Where are they Romey? ” Kamcela asked and when Romey looked up at her Kamcela looked down and she saw Romey for the last time.
Romey turned her face away and when she looked back up Kamcela screamed and backed away.
Romey was gone, she was right there a few minutes ago and now she wasn’t there anymore.
Only her voice was the same, ” It takes you a little at a time Kamcela, it spreads through you like a virus. You can’t stop it, you can’t make it go away.”
” But it can make you go away, that’s what it does.”
Kamcela went back to her house after the police came and she closed all of her curtains when they came to take away the bodies of Romey’s husband and children.
She wasn’t sure what she believed, she wasn’t sure what she thought and when Kamcela pushed the hair away from her face to rub her tired eyes she snatched her hand back and held it up to the light.
There was something wrong with it…something was different.