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Welcome to Lucifer
“So...where are we again?” Kevin asks his hands gripping the wheel and his gaze focused on the road ahead.
I turn on my phones flashlight and stare at the map,“Well according to the map, we are at least a mile...no two miles..maybe it’s three?” I turn the map around in my hands and squint. “We really should have fixed the GPS before we decided to take a road trip.”
Kevin shakes his head, “I know, I know. Just please find out how far we are, map girl.”
I turn the map once more and sigh. “Why is a gated community all the way out here anyway?” I ask, gesturing to the small farm houses, wheat fields, and corn stalks littering the countryside.
Kevin shrugs. “Who knows? Maybe they just thought it was so peaceful out here that they had to build a cluster of houses and wrap a gate around it?”
I laugh and roll my window down a little, letting the wind tickle my face and whip my hair around.
“Do you think dad will even be home?”
“I don’t know, but it’s been three years since mom died, where else would he be?”
Kevin flicks on the blinker and sighs. “I don’t know. Do you think he’s changed at all?”
“As I said before, it’s been three years, so yeah, he probably has.” I glance at the map, “we’re not supposed to turn here.”
“But there’s a gate and some houses, this has to be it.”
I shake my head and catch sight of a sign hanging off its hinges up ahead.
“There,” I point to the sign and squint, “it says Lucifer Gated Community.”
Kevin snorts and turns off the blinker. “Why, Laura? Just, why?” He chuckles, “who would name their child after the devil?”
I force myself not to laugh, “Kevin! Show some respect, this guy has been dead for thirty years!”
We near the sign as Kevin continues to joke about the name of the Gated Community our father and mother had lived in for ten years.
“What’s the sign say?” He finally asks, his chuckles fading away.
He slows the car and I gape at the rusty sign. “It’s for Lucifer all right,” I say staring at the giant red horns spray painted on a middle aged, smiling man.
Kevin peers out of my window and smiles, “Yep, it’s Lucifer.”
I roll my eyes, “Take the next right.”
Kevin speeds up and takes a right.
“So...Maybe we should call Carmen and Benny, tell them to come down and visit dad.”
I sigh and shake my head gently, “Benny wouldn’t want to see him, you know the whole Katie thing.”
Kevin nods, “I can’t believe dad would do that. He’s usually so nice!”
I flip on my phone's flashlight again and examine the map, “Well, you know dad, he wants everyone to be like him or mom.”
“I know,” Kevin clenches the steering wheel, “if he had just gotten to know Katie…”
“He would have learned to like her,” I finish, remembering the fight Benny and our dad had after Katie left.
“What time is it?” Kevin asks, as rain began pouring down in sheets.
I glance at my phone, “Eight-fifteen.” I respond.
“Three hours and there's still no sign of the-”
Kevin stops short, as our eyes land on a bright yellow sign welcoming us to Lucifer.
“Well...Ok.” I say, glancing at Kevin, “the world really likes to mess with you.”
“Har, har, har.” He responds sarcastically.
Cars zip by as we turn into the Gated Community.
“Lots of people are leaving.” He says quietly, pulling out a card so we can get in. “Hey we just…” Kevin stops when he notices that there's no one managing the gate.
We step out of the car, leaves crunching under our shoes. I open the door to the stand and peer inside with my flashlight.
“Empty,” I say, facing Kevin, “what now?”
Kevin steps inside and examines the controls, “This one says ‘Gate,’ should I press it?” He asks.
I shrug, and his hand comes down on the button.
“Nothing,” he says, pressing the button again, “she’s outta juice.”
I groan, “we can’t leave the car, maybe we should call someone?”
Kevin shakes his head and steps out of the stand.
“Can we push it?” I try.
“Laura, let’s just go home.”
“No,” I say loudly, “dad said he wanted to see us.”
“Fine, let's just get in the car and think this through.”
I nod and zip my coat, “Okay.”
I pull myself into the car, and blink at the bright lights now illuminating the dirt road and the stand. “What is that?” I ask, covering my eyes with my forearm.
“It’s a…” Kevin quickly puts the car into reverse and I gasp as we jolt back into the bushes.
A black Honda roars into the gate, and passes us, honking its horn.
Kevin casts a worried glance at me, “You ok?”
“Yeah. Why did he do that?” I ask, massaging the part of my elbow that hit the door.
Kevin puts the car into drive and pulls out of the bushes, “probably drunk,” he responds.
“Well, on the bright side, no more gate.” I say cheerily.
“Yeah.” Kevin says sounding a tad annoyed.
We roll over the broken gate, keeping close to the side so we don’t collide with anymore drunkies. As we pass houses with boarded up windows, I count the fast moving cars.
“Do you think dad left something out in his letter?” I ask, counting twenty-seven cars so far.
Kevin doesn’t respond, his eyes glued to the house’s in search of our childhood home of ten years.
“Hello? Earth to Kevin?” I tease.
Kevin sighs, finally giving me the satisfaction of officially annoying him, “I’m looking for the house, so keep quiet.” He says irritably.
I shift in my seat and scan the house’s as well, still ticking of the cars on my fingers. People watch as we zoom by and some even raise up their hands and shake them, yelling something unintelligible.
“Stop,” I whisper reading their lips, “they're telling us to turn back.”
Kevin stays silent his hands gripping the wheels, “three police cars.” He says quietly.
I look out Kevin’s window and blink at the blue and red lights flashing close by, “what do you think happened?”
Kevin shrugs and drives by them quickly, “there it is,” he says.
I look straight ahead and smile lightly, “weird being back here,” I state.
Kevin nods and pulls into the driveway.
We jump out of the car once more and stare at the peeling paint on the porch and the overgrown garden.
“Really went downhill when we left,” I observe.
We march up to the front door, avoiding beer cans and lawn chairs.
“It’s only been three years, what happened?” Kevin asks.
I stay quiet and rap on the door with my knuckles, “Dad!” I call. I knock once more and call out again.
“Do you have a spare?” I ask, trying to open the locked door and failing.
“Dad never gave any spares. Should we try Carmen and Benny?”
I try turning on my phone and groan, “forgot to charge it. Let’s try the windows.”
Kevin peers through the window to the left of the door and smiles.
“Dad?” I ask.
Kevin shakes his head, “George, dad’s black cat.”
I join him by the window and smile with him, “he’s so big!” I rap on the window and George meows.
“We have to get in now, poor George is so skinny!”
We circle to the back of the house, checking every window and the back door, with no luck.
“Locked up tight.” Kevin says pushing on the back door a little, “didn’t we have a storm shelter?”
“Yeah.” I say tiredly.
Kevin walks down the stairs for the back door and kneels down next to the storm shelter’s door. “The lock’s broken.”
I follow him down and pick up the rusty chain, “probably rusted away some of the links.”
I drop the chain and wipe my hands on my jeans, as Kevin opens the storm shelter door. We peer inside and I blink at the darkness.
“No time like the present to face your fears little sister,” Kevin walks carefully down the stairs shrouded in darkness, and I follow.
“Dad?” Kevin calls hesitantly.
I reach out into the darkness, searching for Kevin’s sleeve or arm. My fingers brush against something furry and I grin. “George,” I say gently, scratching the spot behind his ears, “where’s papa?” I ask him.
George meows in response and I pick him up, just as someone grabs my arm. I jump and slap at the hand, my eyes wide with fear.
“Laura its me!” Kevin says, his hand still gripping my arm, “I found the stairs.”
Together we head up the stairs to the hallway and plunge back into the light of the moon.
Kevin tries the light switch and the light in the hallway flickers on before the bulb bursts.
I screech as glass shards rain down on top of us, George jumps out of my arms and bounds down the hallway, his tail fluffed.
“George!” I call, shaking glass out of my hair.
Kevin dusts the glass off his shirt and bends down to clean the shards up, “strange,” he says quietly, examining a glass shard.
I walk over the shards and down the hallway in search of George, while Kevin clears away the mess. I follow the hallway to the kitchen where George sits on the counter cleaning his tail.
“There you are,” I walk over to him, and scan the kitchen when I reach him. The wallpaper above the stove is covered in burn marks, and matches litter the counter as though someone was purposefully trying to burn the house down, “oh dad, what’s happened?” I pat George on the head and then cross over to the dining room.
The strong smell of iron wafts up my nose and I gag from it, I scrunch my nose and scan the room for signs of blood, but all I can see are cobwebs and overturned furniture covered in claw marks.
“Kevin?” I call, flipping on the dining room switch carefully and sighing when it doesn’t come on. The sound of Kevin’s boots clomp down the hallway and enter the dining room through the kitchen. The moon creates criss crosses on his face as he stands next to me.
“Blood,” he whispers covering his nose, “where?”
“That’s just it, there is none.” I say clutching my phone to my chest.
“Did you see the burns?” Kevin asks, his eyes searching the room for signs of blood.
“Yeah,” I sigh, “we should have stayed.” Guilt creeps into my voice and I swallow hard, wishing it would go away.
“He practically drove us out of the house, we shouldn’t feel bad.” Kevin shoves his hands into his pockets and walks loudly into the living room.
The smell of iron strengthens as I follow him, carefully stepping over random cutlery and overturned, potted plants.
“I know, but…” I trail off and play with a piece of my blonde hair shot with pink.
Kevin wanders throughout the house, searching for clues as to where our father could be while I search the cabinets for cat food. I pull out a loaf of moldy bread and wrinkle my nose in disgust, “Gross,” I say simply, tossing it in the trash can. I open another bottom cupboard and pull out a can of wet cat food.
“There,” I open up the can and plop it into a bowl for George, “enjoy!” George meows and starts eating.
“Hey,” Kevin walks into the kitchen and sits down in one of the chairs I picked up off the floor, “dad locked his study up.”
I fill a bowl with water and stare out the window for a minute before turning to face him, “He’s sick,” I say, gently setting down the water bowl.
Kevin puts his head in his hands, “I know.”
“He broke most of the bulbs in the house, he tried to burn the house down, and he hasn't fed George in at least three weeks, we have to find him.”
“I know!” Kevin says loudly. He stands up, knocking over the chair, and clomps down the hallway angrily.
“Great...now he’s mad at me,” I right the chair and start to tidy up the rest of the kitchen.
I clear out the cupboards, wash away the dust on the counters, and throw away the empty cans of beer. All the while I’m picturing dad, throwing himself away, drinking beer all day long, and slowly going insane.
George rubs his head against my leg and mews loudly, hungry for attention, I get down on my knees and snuggle him close. “Do you know where papa is?” I ask again.
He meows again and turns on his back so I can rub his stomach. I sigh and bury my face in his fur, “Your a good kitty.” I tell him.
I hear a sigh in the doorway to the kitchen, “I’m sorry I got angry,” Kevin smiles at me, “I’m just….Tired.” He rubs the stubble on his jaw tiredly.
“You want to bust open dad’s study?”
“Oh yeah!” I pump my fist in the air and grin at him.
“Push harder!” Kevin urges, his face screwed up in concentration.
I lean back and drive my elbow against the door as hard as I can. It burst open and Kevin and I tumble inside.
Kevin helps me to my feet and we survey the study; Book shelves in ruins, pages torn out of books, and pictures of the whole family smashed or torn. The worst parts were Benny’s, Kevin’s, Carmen’s, and my faces were scratched out.
“Well, that’s disturbing,” Kevin shudders.
“Why would he deface us?” I ask, picking up a picture of me, my face scratched out like the others.
Kevin tosses the picture aside and begins to rifle through dad’s desk, “Bills, eviction notice, and...this.” He holds up a letter with words scribbled all over it.
I take the letter and examine it, “It’s from one of dad’s professor friends. Alex Fimen, my godfather.”
Kevin looks over my shoulder, “Should we read it?”
I turn the letter over, “He’s already opened it.”
I open it up and clear my throat: “Michael, I urge you to reconsider my offer. Getting you back in front of a class may help you cope with the loss of Eliza. I also recommend calling the kids, they need you just as you need them. Your last letter sounded urgent and I recommend you call me so we can discuss these ‘dreams’ you’ve been having, you should consider a psychiatrist as well. I’m not trying to push, but you need to keep sane in these times. Molly and I would love for you to visit, and since you are being evicted we could put you up here. Will you consider it? Alex.” I shove the letter back in the envelope and hand it to Kevin.
“Alex knew? Why didn’t he call us?”
I shrug, “Maybe he wanted dad to call.”
Kevin rifles through the drawers on the desk and hands me another letter from Alex. “This one’s shorter: Michael, I’ve left you several messages and I’m starting to get worried. Your last two letters were telling me to leave you alone, but I’m only trying to help. Your words were misspelled and scribbly, you need help, I’m afraid for you. Alex.”
“What do the words on the envelope say?”
I turn it over and frown, “There names. Molly, Pat, Don, Gary, Finnigan, Fortune, Benny, Kevin, Carmen, Laura. It’s a list.”
“Some are marked off,” He points to names scribbled out.
“Look, our phone numbers.” I show him all four of our numbers, fear building.
Kevin takes the letter and tosses it aside, “This newspaper….It’s about Lucifer.”
I read the heading and start to feel sick, “‘Five dead in Gated Community.’” I read.
“We have to get out of here,” Kevin decides, he grabs my hand and we turn towards the door.
“I don’t think so,” A voice hisses.
Standing in the doorway is dad, his eyes looking crazed, “Dad?” I breathe.
Kevin pulls me close when he sees the knife our father is holding, “Thanks for visiting.” He smiles and stalks toward us, hands outstretched.