There's No Hidin' Place Down There - An F13 / Blair Witch Crossover Story

Written by James P. Beery

The Blair Witch Project is the property of Haxan Films and Artisan Entertainment and was created by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick. Damon Bowers, Dominick Cazale, Kyle Brodyand Rustin Parr are owned by Penguin Putnam and Artisan Entertainment, and are taken from the book The Blair Witch Project: A Dossier. Friday the 13th: The Series, Jack Marshak, Micki Foster, and Johnny Ventura are property of Paramount Pictures and Frank Mancuso, Jr. No copyright infringement is intended, so please don't sue me.

Curious Goods
Chicago, Illinois
November 2, 1994

Jack Marshak was in a particularly foul mood this morning as sunlight streamed in through the windows of Curious Goods. He hadn't been able to sleep, couldn't keep anything down when he tried to eat, and just felt awful. "I hate being sick," he muttered to his dusty surroundings, holding the bridge of his nose and listening to the tick-tick-tick of the clock. He had picked up a nasty strain of the flu during a recent trip to Egypt and both he and Micki were paying the price. Only Johnny (Damn him anyway...) seemed to be unaffected by the bug, which is why Jack was waiting for the younger man to arrive to run the store for the next day or two.

The bells chimed as the door swung open, revealing Johnny and the large grocery sack he was carrying. "Hey, Jack. Feeling any better?"

Jack only grunted in response as Johnny began unpacking the sack, lining up the contents along the desk. "Let's see... got a vaporizer, epsom salts, lots of vegetables for when you want to eat again, powdered broth and chicken soup, cold and flu medicine, and all the big newspapers. I figured you might want some distraction."

"Thank you, Johnny. I appreciate all this." Jack pulled out a handkerchief and loudly blew his nose, making Johnny wince.

"No problem. I'm gonna go check on Micki, maybe make her some soup if she's up to it. You want some?"

"No, thanks." Jack walked to the couch in the back part of the store and opened up one of the papers - the New York Times - settling his bulk onto the comfortable cushions. His eyes wandered the pages, seeing nothing of interest. As he was about to close his eyes and try to sleep, though, a small line of bold print caught his eye:

Search for Three Students Continues

Burkittsville, MD (AP) - The search for three missing students continues in the Black Hills Forest just outside of Burkittsville, Maryland. A joint task force of local law enforcement and the FBI has been searching the area for any sign of Heather Donahue, Joahua Leonard and Michael Williams since October 26th but have so far turned up no clues to the students' whereabouts. The three students were reported missing after failing to return to Montgomery College for classes on October 24th...

The newspaper slipped from Jack's hands as the memories of half a century earlier returned to him. Burkittsville. Dominick Cazale. Damon Bowers. Kyle Brody. Rustin Parr. The trek through the Black Hills Forest.

The Blair Witch.

Burkittsville, Maryland
May 16, 1941

"Jack, dinner's ready." Cecile Marshak heard a muffled 'okay' echo from the top of the stairs, then turned toward the kitchen again. Seconds later, the heavy footsteps of her son thundered down the stairs and to the kitchen table. As she turned to look at him, Cecile noticed that Jack was dressed up for the first time in weeks. "Hey there, handsome. What's the occasion?"

"I finally got up the nerve to ask Viola to come with me to the movies, and she said yes." Jack sat down, wiping a lock of curly brown hair out of his eyes.

"Well, I hope you have a good time. Just don't be out too late; your father's supposed to be calling sometime tonight." She spooned a helping of potatoes onto her plate and passed the bowl to Jack.

"Oh, yeah. He's in Australia right now, isn't he?"

"New Zealand. But he's supposed to be headed back here soon, maybe by the end of the summer." Cecile slid a piece of meat loaf onto Jack's plate before speaking again. "You know, Jack, I think you need to make a decision about what you're going to do when this summer is over."

"Mother, must we talk about this right now? I'm trying to stay in a good mood, and I'm nervous enough as it is. Besides, I was going to ask Dad if I could hire on to whatever ship he was headed to next. I mean, it wouldn't be permanent, but I'd get the chance to save some money up, maybe even enough for the University." Jack picked at the food on his plate, his appetite suddenly gone. "I was going to tell you after he gave me his answer."

"Well, at least you have some sort of plan. Not like your father, eh?" Cecile smiled, knowing that Jack was uncomfortable discussing his future plans with her at this point. Since moving to Burkittsville some four months before, Jack had become very quiet and withdrawn. He wasn't used to living in such a small town, not after growing up in Chicago, and the change was hard on him. But here, it was easier to visit his father when Cawley got back to the States... and Jack had seen too little of his father over the first nineteen years of his life. "You know I'm only asking because I want you to have a good life, Jack. I've seen too many people waste their lives by not really living them. It's -"

"A fate worse than death, I know. We've had this conversation before." Jack opened his mouth to continue but a knock echoed from the front door. Jack got up and strode through the house, checking his watch to see if it was already six-thirty, but it wasn't anywhere close to the time Viola was supposed to arrive. As he opened the door, Jack was surprised to see Father Dominick Cazale standing there, hat held tightly in his left hand. "Dominick, come in. We were just sitting down for supper -"

Cazale shook his head. "Sorry, Jack, but the sheriff sent me to bring you down to the station. Said it was urgent." His black hair hung over his eyes, which looked like they hadn't seen sleep in a week.

"What's going on?" Cecile asked as she came up behind her son.

"Sorry to bother you, ma'am. Jack, we've gotta get down there now. Sheriff Bowers is getting a bunch of guys together for something important. I think... I think it has something to do with the kids."

Jack's blood ran cold as he heard the words come out. Since the previous fall, several children from Burkittsvile and the surrounding area had vanished without any trace, sending parents into a frenzy. Many had loudly claimed that it was the work of a travelling salesman or some other itinerant, but no evidence had ever been found to support that idea. But among the older residents of the town, quiet whispers and hushed stories passed between them almost on a daily basis. They said that the Blair Witch had taken the children.

Jack had known Dominick Cazale almost since he had moved to the tiny town; he and the young priest had arrived on the same train and had found that they shared many of the same interests. On many nights, he and Dom had spent hours engaged in conversation while sipping at cups of Cecile's typically strong coffee, talking about religions from around the world and the supernatural. One night a few weeks before, Jack had brought up something he had heard from an old woman in the town market, something about 'the old woman whose feet would never touch the ground.' Dom had then told him about a local legend he had researched before making the decision to come here, a legend about a woman named Elly Kedward... who would later become known as the Blair Witch.

In early 1785, the townspeople of Blair had convicted a woman named Elly Kedward of being a witch and had exiled her in the middle of winter, knowing that she would never survive. The following winter half of the village's children vanished, never to be seen again. The village was abandoned until 1824, when it was reborn as Burkittsville. A year later, witnesses reported that ten-year-old Eileen Treacle had been pulled into Tappy East Creek by a woman's pale hand reaching up from the water. Her body was never found, but for thirteen days after the incident the creek was clogged with bundles of sticks coated in a strange oil, its waters foul and undrinkable. In 1886, a young girl named Robin Weaver had vanished, prompting several groups of men to trek into the Black Hills Forest to look for her. The girl turned up after three days... but one of the search parties also vanished. Their fate was a mystery for several weeks, until their bodies were discovered at a site that would come to be known as Coffin Rock. The five men were bound together at their hands and feet, disemboweled, with strange symbols carved into their foreheads. Even today, nearing the middle of the twentieth century, many of Burkittsville's residents refused to venture more than a few hundred yards into the forest... including Jack's own mother.

Jack turned around and picked up his coat, then pulled off his necktie and hung it on the same hook. "I'd better get down there, Mother. Would you tell Viola that I probably won't make our date whe she comes by? Oh, and ask Dad about signing on with him, would you?"

"Of course." Jack and Dominick were several steps away when Cecile called out, "Be careful, Jack."

"I will, Mother." As the two men quickly walked toward the center of town, Jack felt a knot form in his stomach. "How many men has he got?"

"I think the sheriff's got six, all told. There's him, deputies Charles and Moore, Mike Butler, Jerry Cravens, and you. When I left, he was pulling every longarm the department has out of the locker and loading it."

"Why the hell did he ask for me?"

"He said he needed a dependable, strong guy, and you're the most dependable guy I know. Listen, Jack, I hope you aren't sore at me for getting you into this -"

"No, of course not," Jack replied, trying to keep his annoyance from surfacing. "We'd better hurry up."

The men soon rounded a corner and came into view of the police station, where a crowd of around fifty had gathered. Jack and Dom pushed their way to the door, where they were greeted by Deputy Alan Charles. He let them inside and pointed toward Bowers' office, where the sheriff could be heard almost shoouting into the telephone about getting someone from the state police up here. When he hung up, he looked Jack over carefully and then gazed at Cazale. "Is this him?"

"Yes. Jack Marshak, Sheriff Damon Bowers."

The two men shook hands before Jack asked, "Excuse me, sir, but what the hell is going on here?"

"I need a group of men to come with me and my deputies up into the Black Hills Forest, probably overnight. You might want to lose the zoot suit, son."

"Sorry, sir, but I was just about to go out on a date."

"I see. Well, we'll find you something more suitable. Now, I'll tell you what I told them: nothing I say leaves this room, ever. You don't talk to your neighbors, you don't talk to your mother and you sure as hell don't talk to the press without talking to me first. Clear?" Jack nodded. "Okay. Now, earlier today a man entered the Burkittsville Market raving about finally being done, and that the voices had left him alone. His name is Rustin Parr, and he's lived up in the Black Hills for years. He's something of a hermit from what I gather, but never made any trouble for anyone before. Hell, he only comes into town every three or four years.

"His place is about four or five hours walk from here; I figure we can make it by ten if we hurry. I don't want to wait until morning because if there's any chance those kids are still alive, I want to be there. Until this is all over and done with, I'm making you a deputy, with all the responsibilities that brings." Bowers handed Jack a .38-caliber revolver in a holster. "Wait here; Rich will bring you some clothes." Bowers shook Jack's hand quickly and stepped out of the room, leaving Jack to stare at the pistol.

"This is serious, isn't it, Dom?"

"Yeah, I think so. Most of those kids have been gone an awful long time, and Parr is one loopy guy. I think there's a good chance that they're... that they're dead, Jack."

Jack looked at his friend, whose face had gone ashen. "You've talked to him?"

"Bowers asked me to, in case the guy was just a nutcase. He thought Parr might open up to a priest, but it didn't happen. He scares me, Jack, and not just a Halloween-type scare; there's something about him that chills me to the bone. I've never felt that before, Jack. It was like being in the shadow of true evil." Cazale looked down at his trembling hands. "Look at me; I can't even talk about it without getting the shakes."

Jack slipped the .38 back into the holster and fastened the belt around his midsection, saying nothing for fear of revealing his own anxieties. "What the hell am I getting into?" he muttered.

Curious Goods

"Yes, can I speak with Dominick Cazale, please? It's very urgent." Jack paused to listen to the woman's voice on the other end of the line before speaking again. "Yes, I understand that communications with that part of Central America can be erratic, but this is a very important matter. Please, try to contact him as soon as you can. Thank you. Yes, I'll be here." Jack hung up the phone with a weary sigh before looking at Johnny, who was silently standing on the lower landing of the stairs.

"What's going on, Jack?"

"Nothing, really, Johnny... I'm just trying to get in touch with an old friend." Jack unconsciously folded up the newspaper with the article and slipped it inside his robe.

"Jack... I've known you too long to fall for that. This is serious, whatever it is."

"Look, Johnny, I'd rather not talk about it." Jack sipped at his long-cold tea, almost forgotten after what he'd seen in the paper. When Johnny refused to take the hint, Jack said, "I'm not changing my mind."

"Fine. But just remember what you and Micki said to me once: We'll always be here for you... no matter what happens." Johnny stood up and headed back up the stairs. "Just remember that, Jack."

Remember that, Jack...

Black Hills Forest
Just outside Burkittsville, Maryland

"Remember that, Jack. You mind if I call you Jack?" Bowers and Jack were hiking in front of the other four people; Deputy Charles and Mike Butler were in the middle, and Deputy Dan Moore and Jerry Cravens took up the rear of their formation. Bowers was telling Jack about how to fire the .38-caliber revolver, how to handle it if he had to use it, but Jack had heard all of this before when his father had taught him to fire a weapon.

"Not at all, Sheriff."

"Hey, Damon? How long you figger we's gonna be out here?" Mike Butler was the local butcher and a friend of Bowers, and had never been accused of being especially bright.

"I told you, till tomorrow afternoon probably, at least. It depends on how far we get tonight." Bowers looked ahead into the forest, holding the large flashlight steady. "The path looks prety clear; probably an animal trail, too."

"Great. Maybe we can shoot us some dinner," said Jerry Cravens, a young local who spent much of his time getting into trouble. "I've been wantin' a nice deer steak."

"Shut your yap, Cravens. We're not going to shoot anything unless it's hostile, or threatening the kids. Understand?" The sheriff's voice was harsh and biting, carrying a definite shut-the-hell-up-now message.

"Yeah, yeah, I get it. Jeez..."

Jack smiled in spite of himself as he looked back over his shoulder at the fading lights of Burkittsville, now almost two miles behind them. The Black Hills Forest was filled with thin, wispy-looking trees that obscured everything after a few hundred yards, making everything look alike to the untrained eye. It would be easy to get lost out here...

"Hey Jack, how'd you get roped into this?" Butler asked.

"Me? I got volunteered by a priest."

Laughter passed through the group, the first sign of any humor that had surfaced on that dark evening. "Well, what better reference could you get?" Butler said between guffaws.

The forest was quiet as the six men walked along the path worn by the feet of animals and men. Occasionally a bird would take flight or an owl would hoot, and often the boots of the men would crunch on the dead twigs and leaves that perpetually littered the ground, but the sounds were soft and far distant, as though afraid of getting too close to the men. After a while, Jack checked the silver pocket watch given to him by his father the previous winter as a Christmas gift; 9:44 P.M. "How much longer do you think it'll be, Sheriff?"

"Not too much longer, Jack. Maybe an hour, maybe a little more."

"Say, Sheriff, doesn't this seem a little familiar?" came the voice of Dan Moore, a brown-haired young man who could not be taller than five-foot-five.

"What do you mean, Dan?"

"I mean, doesn't a search party sent into the Black Hills looking for kids sound familiar?"

"You're talkin' about Coffin Rock, aren't you?" Cravens piped up, looking around at the blackness around them.

"Quiet, dammit! We've got too much to do, and none of us need those old wives' tales on our minds right now." Bowers flashed the light at the men, making them wince. "I don't want to hear anything else about it."

Jack mumbled his assent with the rest of them when his foot touched something on the ground, knocking it over with the sound of stones clicking against each other. "Hey, Sheriff, bring the light over here."

Bowers and the rest clustered around Jack in the small clearing, almost invisible in the darkness. The flashlight revealed a small pile of stones that had been knocked over, a few leaves poking out through the gaps. "What the hell...?" Deputy Charles asked, kneeling down to look at the pile.

"What is it?" Bowers asked.

Jack shook his head. "I'm not sure, but it might be a cairn."

"A what?" Cravens asked.

"A cairn. It's a grave, covered in rocks to prevent animals from getting at the body. It was done this way in Europe for a long time, I think. But it's too small to be a grave..."

Moore had taken out his own flashlight and was looking around the clearing when he said, "Fellas, there's more of 'em out here."

Under the glow of both flashlights Jack could see several other piles of rocks spread around the clearing at irregular intervals. Each was maybe six inches high and a foot across, built of flat stones sort of like a pyramid. "Seven," he said, quickly counting.

"Huh-uh. Eight." Bowers shone his flashlight onto a tree that the group had passed right by, revealing a sort of basket made of twigs... cradling several flat stones.

"Eight piles... eight kids," Moore said, a chilling tone in his voice.

"Don't mean nothin'. Let's go, double time. Move!" Bowers shouted at the group, ushering them down the path toward whatever lay deeper in the woods. Jack's mind kept wandering back to the tales that Dominick and his own mother had told him, warnings to stay out of the woods. Warnings about the witch.

The path led across Tappy East Creek and up a sharp rise in the land. As the rest of the men moved forward, Bowers stopped and held a hand up. "What's up, Damon?" Butler asked, holding his shotgun tight in his hands.

"Dunno, Mike. This don't feel right to me." Bowers shined his light up into the trees, revealing little.

"What do you mean?"

"Not sure. It's like... like this hill shouldn't be here." Bowers scratched his head and sighed, knowing how foolish his words sounded. "Aw, hell, I suppose I'm gettin spooked. Come on, let's get going. Should be real close now."

I hope so, Jack thought as the forest surrounded them. The path up the hill was rough and broken, but easy enough to follow for an experienced outdoorsman like Damon Bowers. After a few minutes Bowers took in a sharp breath at the same time as Jack. There, like a ghost of civilization deep in the woods, was a two-story house.

"We're here."

Curious Goods

Johnny came down the stairs to see Jack pulling on his coat and floppy hat. "Whoa, where are you going?"

"I've got to talk to him, Johnny. I've got to go -" "Jack, I don't care. You're not going anywhere until you're well." Johnny gently pushed Jack back down onto the couch and sat beside him. "What's going on? Please, Jack, tell me or I won't be able to help you."

"I don't know, Johnny... it's all a mess. Everything was such a mess in the woods that night."

"What happened? What woods?"

"The Black Hills Forest. It was... May of 1941, I think, just months before Pearl Harbor. Several local children had vanished, and the sheriff got together a search party to find them after an old hermit came out of the woods saying he was finally done." Jack ran a hand over his face, surprised at the sheen of sweat that covered it. "That night... what I could remember of it... was the longest of my life. We found his house and went inside, searched every room in the house... and that's when we found the bodies. And Brody."


"Kyle Brody. The only survivor out of eight missing children. The only one who hadn't been gutted."

Black Hills Forest

Jack stepped inside the house right after the sheriff, keeping the .38 held out in front of him. His heart was hammering his ribcage with every beat, threatening to leap right out at any moment. "Alan, take upstairs. Dan, finish up the ground floor; Jack and I will take the cellar."

Jack's throat was dry when he tried to swallow, but he followed Bowers to the steps only a few feet in front of them. The house was ancient, easily predating the Civil War, and the aging plaster was peeling off the walls in large chunks to reveal the strips of lath underneath. Most of the furniture was handmade, probably by Parr or his ancestors; an ancient rocking chair stood in one corner of the living room, the only piece of furniture that looked as if it had come from professional hands. A strange smell followed the men wherever they went, a blend of copper and rust and soil that left a foul taste behind. The stairs down were dark but short, and Jack could see the bottom in the dim light.

"Come on," Bowers said, holding both the flashlight and revolver in front of him. Jack followed him closely, but had taken only a few steps before the stench hit him, a stench of decay like Jack had never experienced before. He pulled out a handkerchief and covered his mouth as Bowers did the same and continued down into the darkness. The light revealed little of their surroundings, but what Jack saw was more than enough to make him wish he'd never come along; streaks of rust covered the walls and had soaked into the dirt floor, making the surface harder than it should have been. In the center of the cellar was a tiny pile of clothes still covering the body of a little girl, soaked through with crimson.

Still fresh.

"Jesus Christ," Jack whispered as he backed away from the corpse in horror. He hadn't taken three steps before he felt something bump into his back and give way. As he slowly turned to look, the figure of a little boy came into view, hung from the ceiling joists like a piece of rotting meat. Another was to the right, and a third to the left -

Jack couldn't remember running up the stairs or into the bathroom, couldn't remember puking his guts out into the bathtub... all he could remember was how cool the porcelain-covered iron felt against his forehead, driving the nausea away after a while. "Jack, you okay?" Moore asked, shining his flashlight inside.

"Bodies... oh, God, the bodies..." Jack breathed, turning his head slowly to face the other men, knowing the expressions that were on their faces. Before he could speak, though, Cravens pointed at the floor.

"Look... footprints."

Crimson-tinged footprints stained the wood floor to Jack's right, leading through a second bathroom door. Jack got to his feet and held the revolver in front of him like a magical talisman, like it could protect him from whatever might lay behind the door. Moore grasped the knob as Cravens leveled his rifle, ready for anything that might spring at them...

The door swung open, revealing nothing but a linen closet that hadn't been used in many years. Moore shone the light on each shelf but there was nothing inside. "Shit. Got us all worked up for nothin'," Moore muttered, but Jack heard the gentle scrape of wood moving against wood. He grabbed the light and shone it under the lowest shelf...

Where the tiny, pitifully thin figure of a boy stared up at them in horror. "Sheriff, get up here! We got a live one!" Moore shouted. Footsteps pounded from all corners of the house as everyone converged on the bathroom. Bowers struggled past the others to get inside and look at the boy, who Jack was trying to pull out of the tiny space he had wedged himself into.

"Who is it, Jack?"

"Beats the hell outta me, Sheriff. I just know he's got himself wedged in there good and tight... and he's scared out of his wits."

"Okay. Boy, you hear me? My name is Damon Bowers, and I'm the Sheriff of Burkittsville. Me and my men have come to take you home, understand?" The child showed no signs of comprehension, only the sheer terror that wouldn't let him go. "Come on, let's get him outta there!" Both men pulled at the shelf until it gave way and Jack picked up the boy and held him. Looking at the child Bowers said only, "Brody. Kyle Brody."

"The last one taken? Jesus, Damon, that was almost five weeks ago. He's been here all that time..." Butler muttered.

"Are there... are there any others?" Deputy Charles asked, and was answered only by the briefest shake of the sheriff's head.

"Let's get outside and make camp; we'll head out at first light." Bowers cradled the boy in his arms as the group silently walked out of the house and went about the task of making camp a matter of yards away. "Jack, you okay?" Bowers asked as Jack took a long pull from his canteen.

"Yeah... yeah. Those kids - "

"Jack, don't think about it. Just don't, 'cause there's not a damn thing we can do for 'em now. Rest up; it's gonna be a long day tomorrow."

The boy remained as silent as the rest of the men as they spread out their bedrolls and tried to sleep next to the dying fire. Even the wildlife seemed quieter than before, barely a peep echoing through the trees. Remarkably, Jack was asleep in just a few minutes...

Hands were shaking him feverishly as consciousness returned to him. Jack rolled over to look at the person shaking him; it was the boy, Brody, with that look of horror still on his face. "What is it?" he said, grabbing for the revolver.

"She's comin' back, mister. She's comin' back for me." Jack looked around but saw nothing in the blackness... but then he heard it, like someone moving in the woods. Huge crunching sounds, as if entire trees were being snapped by gigantic feet.

"Wake up! Sheriff, wake up, dammit!" Jack threw one of his boots at the other man, getting his attention. "There's something out there!"

"Jesus..." Bowers said after a moment, then threw off his blanket and shook everyone else awake. In a matter of moments all six men had armed themselves and were standing with their backs to the fire, searching the woods nearby for any sign of movement. Jack held Brody in his left arm, the .38 held stiffly in front of him in his right hand.

"Damon, I don't see nothin..."

"Can't you hear it? Jesus, it must be huge -"

"Oh my merciful Lord, bless me and keep me..."

The sounds grew louder from all around them, as if the entire forest were full of huge creatures converging on their position. "Shit. Back in the house, now!" Bowers yelled, backing toward the side door. The men piled into the structure and locked the door, piling what furniture there was against it as a barricade.

"What do we do? Sheriff, what do we do?" Cravens yelled, backing up against a wall with his shotgun held in front of him.

Bowers looked around before setting his mind on a plan. "We do what the boy did. We hide."

The sheriff started toward the cellar stairs until the boy said, "There's no hidin' place down there. That's where some of the others tried to hide, but no matter where they crawled into, he found 'em... 'cause she told him where to look."

"Who, boy? Who told Parr where to look?" Jack asked.

"The Witch. She told him what to do, who to take. What to do with us." The boy clung even tighter to Jack.

"Shit. Damon, what the hell are we gonna do? This ain't normal -" Mike Butler said, until a gentle laugh echoed through the room from somewhere out in the woods. "What the hell is that?"

"It sounds like... children... laughing, Sheriff." Jerry Cravens crept closer to the front window, looking around, trying to find the source of the sound. "This is bullshit, it's just some crazy people in the forest makin' noise -" Deputy Charles said right before the window beside him blew inward, showering them all with shards of glass as a wind howled through the room. Jack held onto the boy as hard as he could as shattered glass whipped around them, digging into their flesh like bullets.

The voice filled his head before he knew what it was, drowning out the gale and the cries of the others. Give me the child, it said. Give me the child before it is too late.

But then the decision was made and the wind ceased, leaving the six men and one little boy lying on the floor, gasping as their lungs pulled in a full breath. Jack sat up slowly and pulled out a sliver of glass from his cheek, wincing as it came out. It glinted like a tiny crimson dagger in the early morning light, a drop forming at the tip. The men slowly stood up and staggered outside, pulling tiny glass shards out of faces and necks and hands and throwing them to the ground. They looked at each other in wonder, as if none of them could believe what had just happened... or that they had survived it.

Bowers spoke first. "We'd better go. It's... a long hike back to town." He looked at the men clustered around him solemnly, then back at the house. "I'll find someone to come back with me and bring the others back. You've all done your part."

It was midafternoon by the time the group got back to town. A crowd of reporters and concerned parents surrounded the police station, and Bowers talked to the boy's parents first of all as the local doctor checked out their son... but Jack didn't care to stick around and talk. He handed the revolver to Moore and started back towards his house, his mind in a jumble about what had gone on in the woods. After a few steps, he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"Jack? Jack, are you okay?" Dominick Cazale fell into step beside him, an expression of worry etched on his face. "What happened out there?"

"We found the kids. We found the house... and the kids were in the basement... and then she came for the last one, Dom. And she didn't get him." Anger filled Jack's voice, anger toward his friend who ahd gotten him into this mess in the first place. "She didn't get him." With that, Jack turned and walked away from his friend, toward his home and mother and things that made sense...

Curious Goods

"... and that was the last time I spoke to my friend. I left Burkittsville three days later, headed for the East Coast, and signed on to the first ship that would take me." Jack drained the last of his tea, grimacing at the bitter taste. "I just needed some time to try and understand what had happened out there; it was the first truly supernatural event that ever occurred in my life. Then, when the war broke out, I signed up with the Army and got sent out to North Africa right away. My mother moved away from Burkittsville in '44, and by the time I passed through there again, Dominick had moved as well. I wanted to explain to him that I was sorry but I never managed to actually pick up the phone until today... a phone call that's over fifty-three years late."

"God, Jack..." Johnny said, unsure of what else he could say. The story Jack had told was incredible to say the least... but after the past five years, the incredible had become commonplace.

"It was what happened that night which really got me interested in the supernatural and the occult. I thought I could find some explanation somewhere in literature or legends or somewhere... but there was none for what happened. It wasn't clear-cut like what we do here; there were no defined boundaries between what was real and what was caused by the Blair Witch. But I have learned one thing, Johnny: I've learned never to go back there, never go back into those woods. I was never as scared as I was when we were caught in the storm of glass, not when I was about to be killed by the Butcher, not even when I was trying to close the doorway to Hell itself." Jack stood up and stretched. "I'm going back to bed, Johnny."

Jack slowly walked down the creaky stairs and to his bed... but then turned to a trunk and pulled out a stack of envelopes instead, leafing through them slowly, tears forming in his eyes.

And he knew it was time.

Epilogue -
Curious Goods
November 3, 1994

Micki was surprised to see Johnny already up and about when she came downstairs. "Morning," she said, accepting a cup of juice from him.

"Hey, sunshine. Looks like you're feeling better."

"Much, thank you. Where's Jack?"

"I decided to let him sleep in. He... he had a hard day yesterday." Micki shot him a look but didn't press the issue, knowing that Jack would tell her when he was ready. Instead she went to the front door, looking out at the street, trying to decide if today would be busy or not -

But instead she found an envelope addressed to herself and Johnny, taped to the glass above the Open/Closed sign. She pulled it off and took it over to the desk, tearing the paper open and removing the sheet inside. Both the label and page were in Jack's scrawl, and Micki laid it flat so both of them could read it:

Micki and Johnny -

I'm sorry you had to find out like this, but it's for the best this way. I don't want you to come after me because there's no sense in the both of you dying as well, not for something that involves only myself. You see, each of us has a burden to bear, and for the longest time I was able to forget my own. But time passes as time tends to do, and I can't run from this any longer.

I'm afraid I lied to you, Johnny, or at least I didn't tell you the whole truth. When I was in the grip of the glass storm and I heard that voice, the only thing I could think to do was to save the boy no matter what it took... and so that's what happened. The boy's life was spared, but at the price of my own. Oh, for a while I thought I could outrun what I had agreed to, that maybe I could beat her, but I know now that it's not possible, not in any mortal sense. It was my own deal with the devil, so to speak, but not for money or immortality or power - just for the life of a boy who didn't deserve to die.

And now she's called me back to her by taking those college kids. It's her warning to me; if I don't return, she'll take more children because I broke my part of the bargain. She feeds off fear and misery, and my life has seen far too much of both... but now it's over, and I must go back.

Thank you both for being my friends these past several years, for being there when I needed somebody. I'm sorry that I was never able to tell you this, but I had hoped you would never know. I've left all the proper documents for Johnny to sign giving him my partnership in the store, and there are several letters to friends that I would appreciate if you would deliver.

Don't mourn for me; I've known this was coming for half a century. Not many people know when they're going to be called to the next life, and I've seen and done things in this life that nobody else on earth has. I only ask two things: that you finish what we started with the antiques... and that you don't ever come looking for me, no matter what. Never enter the Black Hills Forest.

I've got to go now. Take care of each other.

Jack's name was scrawled across the bottom in large cursive letters that had obviously been drawn by a shaky hand. Micki picked up the letter gently and looked at Johnny, saying "I think we can still catch up with him, we can charter a flight if we have to..."

Johnny took Micki in his arms and felt her tears stain his shirt, his own cascading down his cheeks. "He didn't have a choice, Mick. Not in this. There's nothing... nothing we can do."

After a few minutes, she whispered, "We didn't even get to say goodbye..."

Then the store was silent except for the tick-tick-tick of the clock as Micki and Johnny stood in the middle of the floor, holding on to each other as if they were the last two people on Earth as the sun passed behind a cloud, shrouding the room in a darkness that nothing could lift...

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This page was created on December 13, 1999.
Last modified on February 10, 2005.