The Mastin Twins - Chapter 6 - Madness
Chapter 6 - Madness
Again Jimmy's sleep was disturbed by dreams although in the morning he couldn't remember them. He quietly dressed and walked down the hall to the kitchen. His parents were there absorbed in the morning paper. The headline read `Body of Prominent Local Man Found After Thirty-Five Years'. He slipped into a chair.
"I'm hungry, is there anything to eat?"
His mom looked up at him, startled.
"Goodness you're quiet this morning, I didn't hear you come in. There are pancakes and sausages on the counter. Help yourself."
Jimmy rose, found the pancakes, poured himself a glass of orange juice and returned to the table.
"What does the paper say?", he asked.
"There's a column about the discovery of the car and the body of Mr. Mastin in its trunk. The paper makes it sound like the Sheriff found it by himself." Jimmy's dad snorted. "There's some historical detail about the Mastins' disappearance and some speculation about what happened to the wife and kids."
"Are we mentioned?"
"Only briefly. Here take a look."
Jimmy's Dad passed the paper to him and jabbed a finger where he should read.
...According to Sheriff Norwood the hood ornament of the Mastin's Packard automobile was brought to him by some fishermen who had hooked it with a fishing line...
"That's all about us?", asked Jimmy disappointedly. "Geez, we practically told the Sheriff where to look and what he was going to find there."
"Maybe it's better this way", said his mom. "This way we won't be bothered by a horde of reporters crawling around pestering us with questions."
Jimmy read some more.
"Good grief. Here's someone who thinks that Mr. Mastin's family murdered him for his money. How could anyone believe anything that silly."
Mrs. Vaskelis smirked. "On the other page there's a theory some nutcase dreamed up. He claims that an alien from outer space was trying to kidnap his family and when Edward interfered the aliens stuffed him in his car and pushed him into the lake."
Jimmy said "Hey, the coroner's saying that the cause of death appears to be a blow to the back of the head with a heavy blunt instrument. Aliens wouldn't have done that. They would have shot him with a ray gun or something."
A knock came on the back door. Jimmy peered out the window and saw the Fahey kids standing on the stoop. He swung the door open.
"Hi Kathy, hi Robert", he greeted them.
They trooped in and sat down without waiting to be invited.
"Hi Mr. Vaskelis, hi Mrs. Vaskelis. Did you read the paper about how the aliens did this?
"Hey Jimmy, you want to go look for some more clues?", asked Kathleen.
Jimmy looked at his parents.
"Is it ok Mom?"
She looked a little dubious, "Where were you planning to look?"
"Maybe there's something out at the Mastin house that hasn't been found yet."
Jimmy's mom shook her head doubtfully. "According to the paper the sheriff and a team of deputies went over that house with a fine-tooth comb yesterday and didn't find a thing."
Kathleen looked stubborn. "Well, maybe we could find something they missed."
Jimmy looked at his mom again. "Can we?"
She finally nodded ok. "Be careful though."
The three kids wasted no time and were out the door and heading up the path to the top of the ridge in a flash. Once at the top looking down at the house they began to have some doubts. A lot of spooky things had happened in there and none of them were really all that anxious to return. Kathleen finally broke the silence.
"Well, what's the matter with you boys? Afraid?"
She headed down the path toward the old house and the boys fell in behind her. They walked downhill and through the old orchard in tense silence not knowing what to expect. The house looked especially eerie in the early morning light and they stopped at the front door without going inside. They were looking at each other as though each was daring the others to be the first to enter when Jimmy's ears picked up a sound.
"Did you hear that?", he demanded.
"Yeah, what was it?", said Robert in a hushed voice
"Sounded like somebody moaning", added Kathleen.
Jimmy summoned all his courage and stepped inside. The Fahey kids hesitated momentarily then followed him into the hallway. All three of them stopped just inside the door. Standing in front of them plain as day were the two Mastin twins!
They stood frozen unable to move a muscle. The twins appeared to be amused by something and were giggling. Jimmy realized that their giggling was the same as that they'd heard the other day in the orchard when Kathleen had thought Freddy Ostman was bothering them.
Abruptly the giggling subsided and the twins faded away. The three kids heard another moan, it seemed to be coming from the parlor. They tiptoed in that direction and peered cautiously around the door jam. A man lay on the cluttered floor next to what was left of the broken down piano. He was curled up into a ball and was moaning.
Jimmy whispered "Who is that? What's he doing here?"
Kathleen looked at the man again then whispered back. "I think it's Phillip Stroud. He owns a bar in town. I've got no idea what he's doing..."
She broke off as the moaning stopped and was replaced by half-coherent mumbling. Their ears straining the listened.
"... no, go away, go away, you're not real. You can't be real! It's not possible..."
There was more but they couldn't make it out. Abruptly the man let out a blood curdling shriek then started to moan again.
"Let's get out of here", urged Robert.
The others didn't argue and in seconds they were running through the orchard back the way they'd came. By the time they were back to the Vaskelis house they were sweaty and out of breath. It was a couple of minutes before they could explain to Jimmy's parents what they'd found. They left out the part about the Mastin twins appearing. Once they'd finished Jimmy's dad picked up the phone and called the Sheriff's office.
"Hello, Sheriff Norwood? This is David Vaskelis."
There was a pause as the Sheriff said something they couldn't hear.
"The kids found someone in bad shape out at the Mastin house. I think you should probably call an ambulance and get out there."
There was another pause.
"Yes, we'll be ready for you."
He hung up.
"The Sheriff is coming with an ambulance. He wants us to wait here then drive out to the house with him. Do you guys feel up to it?"
The kids looked at each other uneasily. None of them were really that eager to go back to that house, even with the Sheriff!
Jimmy's dad noticed them hanging back.
He asked Jimmy "Is there something else going on here that you're not telling about? Something that's bothering you?"
Jimmy looked uncomfortable. What should he say? There definitely was something bothering him but he didn't think he wanted to try to get his parents to believe in ghosts. And the twins certainly appeared to be ghosts. As far as he knew his folks didn't believe in ghosts and now didn't seem like that great a time for trying to change their minds. Heck, he wasn't sure he really believed, even after having just seen them! Finally he shook his head no in answer to his dad's question.
The Sheriff arrived with the ambulance and everyone but Jimmy's mom piled into the Vaskelis station wagon and followed him out over Rock Point to the Mastin house. They parked on Lakefront Drive next to the Mastin driveway and got out. The Sheriff came back to their car to get directions to the parlor where they'd found the man.
"I want you to stay out here on Lakefront until we get back", ordered the Sheriff much to the relief of the kids.
The Sheriff climbed back into the ambulance which then drove slowly up the tree-lined driveway. It stopped at the closed gate and the Sheriff emerged and the ambulance crew manhandled a stretcher over the stone wall and into the house. The kids held their breath. What would they find inside? Would the ghostly twins appear? It felt like they'd been waiting for hours although Jimmy's watch showed less than three minutes had gone by when the three men reappeared with something wrapped in blankets on their stretcher. They climbed over the wall and loaded the stretcher into the rear of the ambulance. While this was going on the deputy arrived in the Elk Bow patrol car. The ambulance backed down the driveway and stopped long enough for the Sheriff to get out before it headed south on Lakefront Drive toward Elk Bow.
Jimmy could stand the suspense no longer. He climbed off the hood of the station wagon where he'd been sitting and ran toward the Sheriff.
"What happened?" he demanded. The other kids and Jimmy's dad crowed around.
The Sheriff looked at him for a moment before replying.
"The fellow in there was Phillip Stroud. He'd part owner of The Brass Door bar. Used to be town Sheriff a bunch of years ago. Couldn't get any sense out of him at all though. He was just moaning and mumbling away talking a bunch of nonsense. I've got no idea what he as doing in that house and if he doesn't snap out of it we may never find out. If I didn't know better I'd say he must have seen a ghost in that old house and been scared witless."
The kids cringed visibly.
Jimmy looked at the Sheriff apprehensively, "Did you see or hear anything strange in there?"
"Anything strange like what?" replied the Sheriff.
"I dunno know", Jimmy said cautiously. "I mean anything unusual? Maybe some clues or something?"
The Sheriff laughed. "No we didn't find anything other than what you'd expect to find in an old abandoned house.
"Now you kids still haven't said what you were doing in there. So, what were you doing in there?"
Kathleen answered, "We were looking for clues."
The Sheriff chuckled. "Not likely you'd find any. My deputy and I went over this whole house pretty thoroughly yesterday afternoon. Now I guess we'll need to do it again."
He barked a few commands at the deputy and together they began to examine the ground outside the house.
"Oh", he called absently looking up at them. "You all can go back home now."
Jimmy's dad started up the station wagon, got it turned around on the narrow road, and headed back home. Nevil and Gloria Fahey were waiting in the living room with Barbara when they returned. The events at the Mastin house were explained to them and there followed some guessing as to why Phillip Stroud had been out there. In the end no one had any convincing arguments. Finally the parents announced that the Mastin house seemed to be dangerous and would be off limits from now on.
The phone rang and Jimmy's mom answered. It was the Sheriff calling from the Elk Bow infirmary. Phillip Stroud wasn't talking any sense yet and it was the opinion of the doctor that he might never recover. He was being moved to a state institution the next day for further treatment and observation.
The Fahey's departed and Jimmy ate supper in the kitchen with his parents. There was very little table conversation. He read for a while afterward then brushed his teeth and went to bed.
Jimmy tossed and turned for a long time without sleeping. He looked at his clock. It showed 11:00. He rolled onto his stomach then onto his side. Wouldn't he ever get to sleep? The problem he knew, was that he couldn't get the events of the day out of his mind. The clock now showed midnight. He was sure there was a connection between the death of Edward Mastin and Phillip Stroud, but what was it? Finally around 1:30 he drifted off to sleep.
He felt like he'd been sleeping for only a moment when something awakened him. He glanced at the clock on the nightstand, it read 2:10. He rolled over onto his other side and froze. Standing there in the moonlight coming through the window were the two Mastin twins! Jimmy tried to speak but his throat was dry and no sound came out. The twins just stood there smiling at him until finally he managed a ragged whisper.
"What do you want?"
The twins responded by giggling a little then they turned and extended their fore fingers, pointing. Jimmy looked and realized they were pointing at his dresser. Something looked really strange about it though. He was sure it was his dresser but something about it just didn't look right. He tried to figure it out but couldn't quite put his finger on what was wrong. The twins were still pointing at the dresser and now it began to move. Its drawers heaved open and closed, slowly at first then faster and faster. The dresser itself danced around the floor, spinning round and around, until it was bumping into his bed. Jimmy cringed and tried to pull the covers over his head but they were too short! The dresser rocked back and forth, more and more violently bouncing against the bed again and again. The drawers were slamming in and out so hard now it seemed as if they must be smashed to matchwood. Throughout the performance the twins stood watching, impassive but for slight smiles on their faces. Finally with one last furious leap the middle drawer flew from the dresser landing in Jimmy's lap. The twins disappeared and the dresser froze. Jimmy's voice returned to him and he used it, screaming in fear. The door to the room banged open and his parents rushed in.
"Are you ok? What's the matter?", asked his mom.
Jimmy sat stunned. "The dresser, it was trying to attack me."
"The dresser?" His parents looked puzzled.
"Yes! It threw this drawer at me!", he started to hold out the drawer in his lap but it wasn't there. The dresser stood serenely against the wall, all its drawers in their proper places as if nothing had happened.
"You just had a nightmare", his father volunteered. "I used to have them myself when I was your age."
"But it seemed so real", Jimmy protested.
"Nightmares always do. That's why they're so frightening."
Jimmy finally relaxed enough to lie down again. It must have been a dream. But why would he have had such a strange dream. Like so many things in the last few days it made no sense.
His parents finally returned to their own bedroom after he had calmed down. There was still moonlight coming though his window, enough for him to keep a careful eye on the dresser. When after half an hour it had made no further attempt to attack him he slowly drifted off to sleep.
Chapter 5 The Mastin Twins Chapter 7
The Mastin Twins - Copyright © 1996 by Charlie Comstock
Permission is granted for personal reading. All other rights reserved.