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Be Not Afraid - Part Two: a John Hansen, Chris Mills Collaboration

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

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The Story Continues

Be Not Afraid was intended to be just a one-off short horror story, suitably scary for Halloween, and leaving it up to the reader to imagine their own ending whether "happy ever after", or otherwise. However, the responses we received in comments where overwhelmingly encouraging us to continue the story and offer more of a closure. Readers seemed to be genuinely concerned with what would happen to Gerald, and to a slightly lesser extent, Beth.

Being the kind hearted souls that we are, and always open to suggestions, Chris and I conferred, and decided to continue the story. Welcome to the second chapter of Be Not Afraid. * There is a saying "be careful what you wish for," and so if you want full closure and to know the final outcome you will have to read part three (coming soon.)

Be Not Afraid-Part 2

Gerald’s mind was torn. On the one hand he wanted to stay away from the power of the figurine, and clear his head, recover his memory, and return to some form of normality. But, on the other hand this voracious hunger was consuming him. He needed to satisfy it first.

Tucking the oilskin bag into his pocket he made his way into the park. It was almost midnight so, apart from a few homeless sleeping soundly on the benches and the odd drunk taking a shortcut home, the place was quiet. He had no idea what he was hoping to find, in fact, most of the animals were asleep so his chance of finding prey was remote to say the least. But, he had to try…he was hungry, so hungry.

There were streetlights around the perimeter of the park and a few where the main walking and bike tracks meandered through, but Gerald made his way to a more remote and secluded section. The full moon provided enough light for him to make his way around and, anyway, in this changed form his night vision and other senses had become much more acute.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

A rustling in the bushes just off to his left caught his attention. He stayed still and listened for a moment, but then slowly and cautiously made his way towards it. A deer had gone to the small man-made lagoon to drink but one leg had become entangled in a piece of fishing line (children often played truant from school and came here to hide, and fish instead.) That fishing line, in turn, had obviously snagged on a bush and the deer was struggling to free itself.

“Be not afraid,” Gerald coaxed as he edged closer. “Such a lovely creature,” he said as it looked up at him with big frightened eyes. Then, in a flash, Gerald pounced. His hand gripped the small head, and with one quick and powerful twist the creature fell limp and lifeless at his feet. He crouched down and feasted gluttonously, ripping flesh from the still warm corpse.

Once satisfied, he lumbered back towards the abandoned warehouse. He replaced the oilcloth bag and “amulet” (that word emerged in his mind) into their hiding place and went to sleep.

Abandoned warehouse Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay

Abandoned warehouse Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay

Gerald stood precariously on sanity ́s knife-edge. If he kept the figurine hidden, he thought more clearly, but it beckoned him constantly.

He remembered that his name was Dr. Gerald Thompson, an archeologist. Another name came to him almost simultaneously—Dr. Bethany Shackleford,a professional colleague, ex-lover, and the woman he had attacked on the street. He also remembered her address.

#

Beth wasn’t the type who scared easily, but she had to admit the recent encounter,or re-encounter, with Gerald disturbed her and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.

She had no way of contacting him anyway, and did she even want to after being attacked by him and seeing what he had become? But, saying that, could she just ignore their previous friendship, and how did he become…the way he was? These questions played on her mind and she decided to do all she could to investigate what had happened to Gerald.

We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.

— Robert Louis Stevenson

#

Gerald made his way down alleys and along dark streets carrying a metal box he had found in the warehouse. It held the items he valued most.

He entered a building. People stared at his filthy, torn clothes. A stairway got him to the 13th floor without encountering anyone else.

He approached the door and pressed the doorbell. Floorboards squeaked as someone moved across the room and fell silent as they observed him through the peephole. The door opened slowly and Beth’s face appeared.

“Gerald! Is it really you? She pushed the door until it was almost closed. The last time I saw you...

“I barely remember that, but yes Beth, it is me.”

“I’m sorry. Come in, please.” She backed away as he entered the room. She saw his dishevelled appearance, but threw caution to the wind. “This is a surprise Gerald,” she paused slightly, “It’s good to see you again, my friend.”

They took a seat on the couch.

“Here, let me set that on the coffee table for you.” Beth reached for the box.

“No!” He jerked the box away from her, his eyes wide with fear, or anger.

She put her hands up. “Okay, okay. I understand you don’t want me to touch it.”

“I have some things to tell you about my time in Thailand,” Gerald said.

“And I need to tell you what I’ve learned about that same topic,” she said. “But you go first.”

Gerald stood and paced the room. He still held the box in front of him. “I was digging one day away from the city in an area rich in folklore.” Gerald opened the box. “I found this.” An amulet representing a hideous creature hung by a leather cord from his hand. He quickly put it back into the box. “And this.” He showed Beth a leather casing and a parchment wrapped in oilskin cloth inside.

“Do you know what it says?” Beth stood and joined him in the middle of the room.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay


≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ to be continued ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈ ≈

© 2019 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 16, 2019:

Good to see you back on board Roderick. Thanks for your thoughts on what you would have done in Beth’s position too. I tend to agree.

Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on December 16, 2019:

I have been out of commission for a while, but finally getting to read this continues to pique my interest. I feel gipped by the shortness of the article. Gerald was about to reveal something awesome.

Beth, bless her heart, she is on meds or something. I would have called The People to come and get Gerald. I might not have let him into my house and if I did, the conversation would not have been so casual. He would have had to shower too.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 06, 2019:

I agree Lawrence. If I was Beth I would have stayed a million miles away.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on December 06, 2019:

Chris and John

The mystery gets better and better. Beth is a little too trusting though.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 09, 2019:

A very trusting girl is Beth..lol. Thanks for reading Li- Jen.

Li-Jen Hew on November 09, 2019:

Haha, I'm curious to know what the parchment says. I like that Beth still welcomed him into her house.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 02, 2019:

Hey Linda. I was going to drag the ending out for a day or two up Chris wouldn’t let me.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 02, 2019:

I'm off to read Part 3. I'm glad you didn't make us wait.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 02, 2019:

I understand Nikki. Most readers hated that part. Thank you for reading.

Nikki Khan from London on November 02, 2019:

I felt so sorry for the little deer, how he was torn apart into and been eaten, heartfelt incident. Gerald is an animal in form of human or deceasing his humanity to become a beast. Getting over to third part to read what happened after.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

I agree Lora. Gerald is not nice at all when he is in beastly form and only concerned with his hunger. I hope you enjoy the conclusion.

Lora Hollings on November 01, 2019:

I felt so sorry for that beautiful deer! I certainly don't like Gerald in the state that he is now and I hope that he can go back to being who he was before this Mr. Hyde transformation! I can't wait to see what happens to him in the conclusion.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Flourish, Gerald certainly can be an animal. I feel sorry for his prey. Thanks for following on.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Rodric, thank you for your insights. Yes the deer satisfied Gerald’s hunger for awhile. We’ll see how long that lasts.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 01, 2019:

That poor deer. How awful that he told it not to be afraid before snapping its head and tearing it apart. Beth needs to watch out for this guy. He's an animal.

Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on November 01, 2019:

The pull on Gerald of the cursed object is not so strong now that his hunger is satiated by that dear. I hope Beth is not on the menu next. He tried attacking her previously. I would not trust him. This is good. Thanks for continuing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Glad the plot is keeping you interested Ruby. That Beth is one brave girl. Enjoy part three.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on November 01, 2019:

Well the plot thickens. If I was Beth I would put on my running shoes and get out of Dodge. I too wonder what happened to Gerald to make him act like an animal. I see you have the next installment written===Off I go into the wild blue yonder.....

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Yes, Shannon, it is hard to ignore when most of your readers call for more. We do value you, so we have even published the third and final part as well. Thank you for the encouragement.

Shannon Henry from Texas on November 01, 2019:

Ask and you shall receive more teasing? LOL. I'll be watching for the conclusion. :) How fortunate we are that you value your readers enough to give us more.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Thanks for reading and enjoying Jason. Glad you liked the Dark Piano accompaniment too.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

I am glad we managed to leave you hooked and curious for the next chapter Pamela. ope you enjoy part 3.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Thanks, Shauna. I am glad we decide to continue as well. Most tall buildings here in Australia also skip a 13th floor. Now you know why.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

We really appreciate you being drawn in, Lorna. Thank you.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Thank you Bill, and the readers sure shouted loudly that they wanted more haha. Cheers.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 01, 2019:

Bill, and more you shall receive.

Jason Nicolosi from AZ on November 01, 2019:

Thrilling and suspenseful. I need more, more! I love reading it while that Dark Piano plays in the background. So creepy, nice mood setter. Great job guys!

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 01, 2019:

Pamela, you are asking all the right questions. Thanks for reading so carefully.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 01, 2019:

Shauna, I guess Beth may want to rethink living on the 13th floor. Of course, she has to keep on living to do that.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 01, 2019:

Lorna, There is definitely more to come. I'm glad the story is pulling you in.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 01, 2019:

We're glad you are enjoying it, Tiyasha.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 01, 2019:

Eric, You never know the twists a story can take, or how many.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 01, 2019:

Clive, I'm a short story guy. haha. Thanks for reading.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 01, 2019:

I am happy that you wrote part 2 of this story and you are not done. I am curious as to what changed Gerald, and also, I want to know what Beth found out. I am also curious as to what Gerald has in the metal box that he is holding onto. You two really wrote an interesting 2nd part of this story that has all of us hooked.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 01, 2019:

John, I'm so glad you and Chris decided to continue with this story. Gerald seems to be remembering things, and apparently Beth has been doing some research of her own.

I find it interesting that Beth lives on the 13th floor. Most tall buildings in the U.S. don't have a 13th floor. They'll jump from 12 to 14 because of the superstitions behind the number 13.

I'm off to part three. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Lorna Lamon on November 01, 2019:

This tale has a habit of drawing you in and leaves you wanting more. Nice work John and Chris.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 01, 2019:

Always leave the reader wanting more...that's what you two have done and a bravo is shouted in your direction.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Glad.you are finding the story creepy, Tiyasha. See you on part 3 soon.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

We said it was terrifying, Eric. You have to read Part 3 to find out Beth”s fate.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on November 01, 2019:

Thanks for the encouragement Clive. Part three is published.

Tiyasha Maitra from Gurgaon on November 01, 2019:

I am really enjoying this series John. Will go on to part 3 in some time. Ooooh the shivers!!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 01, 2019:

I am terrified and will be back later. Will she also be afflicted? I do not know.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on November 01, 2019:

Nice, continue and do the novella.