A Village Painted Red
It had been three years.
Well, three years, two months and twenty-three day. But who is keeping track?
SPR has disbanded and she was left alone, again. Left alone to finish her schooling and begin her adult life being a secretary at a high-end law firm and ghost hunting on the weekends.
The brunette, behind the wheel of the red Honda prelude, hummed along to a song on the radio as she drove to her destination in the middle of nowhere.
There was a small haunting in a village in the northern part of Japan. And she figured that it was a small enough haunting so she should be able to find the spirit and help them pass on peacefully. She was now able to help ghost pass on with little effort on her part. Yes, there were some that were harder than others. But she was like a light for ghosts. They came to her unbidden and some seemed to find peace just be being in her presence.
As she arrived at the small village, a chill went down her spine and that made her frown. She didn't get that very often anymore. The fear that began to settle in her bones made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Something was very wrong here.
She parked her car off to the side of one of the larger buildings and stepped out into the blinding sunlight that beat unpleasantly onto her back. She smoothed out her light blue tank top and pulled at her blue jeans as she looked around.
At one time, this may have been a thriving village, being so close to the ocean. But now, everything seemed washed out, like something was draining the life from the village and the people who lived there.
She walked around for awhile to check out more of the area and while people noticed her, no on came to speak to her. They just watched her as she moved through the streets, searching for something she would not yet find.
"You're looking in the wrong spots."
Mai whirled around to see an elderly man standing behind her. He had to be in his seventies and his wrinkled faced seemed to be caving in on itself. He looked as if he hadn't had a good meal in weeks and he shuffled forward with a small limp that the cane attached to his hand helped with.
"I'm sorry, sir. My name is Taniyama Mai. I was contacted about some strange occurrences in your village."
"We all know why you're here, and you shouldn't have come. This will be too much for someone like you."
"One like me?" Mai was confused. She was told that this was a small haunting but every other village in the vicinity refused to help, so they called in an outside source. They have never dealt with entities before so they were out of their depths.
"You walk the line between light and darkness, girl."
"That is enough, Gaku." A new voice spoke.
Mai looked at the man that just walked up. He stood tall, with a no nonsense look on his tired, tan face. Dark bags hung underneath his dark brown eyes and there was a tight smile on his thin lips. He was a little more filled out than the man named Gaku, but not by much. It seemed as if the villagers hadn't been eating much recently.
Gaku glared at the new man, shot a pitying glance at my and then hobbled away on his cane.
"I hope you will excuse Gaku. We don't have many visitors come through and he seems to think that it's his job to scare them away."
"He didn't say anything that would scare me away, I've faced worse."
He chuckled, but it looked and sounded wrong. "I'm sure you have. I am Aoki Yoshimori, I am the village headman."
Mai bowed, "I am Taniyama Mai. I am correct in assuming that you are the one who contacted me?"
"You are correct. Come, I will show you to the edge of the forest, that seems to be where most of the activity is."
"And villagers have just experienced cold spots, things moving on their own, people feeling as if they're being watched and some people seemed to have changed?"
Aoki then grimaced, "That wasn't all, but I was desperate. We really needed someone out here to help though!"
Mai felt a cold breeze blow past her and she froze. She looked around as all the hair on her body seemed to stand on end. Something was very wrong here. She could feel it now, she could feel something watching her, sizing her up.
"What did you leave out?" Mai almost demanded. Her voice was hard and the air seemed to pulse around her, almost like it was excited. Goosebumps erupted across her flesh.
"There have been footsteps heard but no one is ever seen. Chanting sometimes echoes through the village but no one knows where it's coming from. Many have been having nightmares about blood and death, multiple people have come forward and it appears they have been having the same dream. Some have smelled rotting meat and knocks are heard in areas in homes or around the trees. They always come in three."
Mai wanted to puke. She felt the bile come up her throat and turned away only to empty her stomach against a tree. It took her a few minutes of retching before she was able to calm down.
"Do you have any idea what you have called me for?" Mai wiped her hand against her mouth, the smell of the vomit made her want to become reacquainted with the tree, but she swallowed it down.
"We have theories."
"Has one of your theories been about a demonic spirit? This may be too much for me to handle alone."
Then the headman collapsed onto his knees and bowed as low as he could, "Please don't leave us. It's been months since this has started and my people are slowly being driven mad. We can barely eat, barely sleep. The children don't play anymore and some have even committed suicide to escape."
Mai closed her eyes and took a calming breathe, "I'll stay. But I'm calling in some help."
Aoki nodded vehemently, "Call in whoever you need. But your phone won't work here."
Mai sighed and ran a hand down her face, "Fine, I'll be back tomorrow with more news."
Mai sat outside of a gas station staring at her phone. The phone number was punched in on her phone and all she had to do was call. But the three years, two months and twenty-three days that she prayed she would get a phone call, or even a text, had her pausing. She didn't know very many people in the paranormal community though. And they were the best.
She sighed and pressed the button she had be avoiding. Putting the phone to her ear, she calmly breathed in and out as she waited for someone to answer. After what felt like an eternity, there was an answer.
"This is John Brown, can I help you?"
Mai couldn't help the smile that spread on her face. Out of everyone she could have called, she figured John would be the easiest to talk to.
"Hello? Is anyone there?"
There was silence on the other end of the line and Mai was worried that the call might have dropped.
She couldn't help the smile that blossomed on her face. "Hello, John."
"Mai, is everything okay? It's been awhile."
Three years, two months and twenty-three days...
"Not exactly. I came to a small village called Trozano to help out with what I originally assumed was a ghost that didn't want to pass on. But now that I'm here, I was given more information. I think there is something far worse here."
"What do you think it is, Mai?" She could hear the undertone of anxiety over the phone.
"I believe it's a demon. I don't have a lot of experience with them and I am not comfortable leaving the village now. They need help."
"What do you need from me?"
Mai closed her eyes tightly and swallowed, "I need reinforcements here. If you and maybe a few others could come help. I don't think I can defeat this alone."
"I can call everyone right now, I was just about to go meet them."
"Who-who is everyone?"
Silence. Not comforting.
"Everyone. Naru and Lin are back."
Her breath seemed to be caught in her throat, "How long?"
"Mai, it's not what you think."
"How long have they been back?"
"A year and a half."
A year and a half and none of them had contacted her.
"I see. If you're able to make it up here then wonderful. If not, have a good life, John."
She hung up before a sob could work it's way out of her mouth. She knew that she should've given John the opportunity to explain but she didn't feel like there was a good excuse for not reaching out at all. So she gave herself a few minutes to let a few tears falls. Then she wiped her face off and drove back to the village. This would be taken care of, one way or another.
Once she was back in the village, Aoki led her to a small home that wasn't being used anymore because they had no hotels. It's last inhabitants had past early the year before.
She settled down quickly, it had been a long day and she was more tired than she had realized. So as the sun went down, she descended into sleep, listening to the sounds of the wildlife from outside.
Her dreams were filled with screams, bones breaking and so much blood. She shot up in bed, breathing hard as she tried to calm down her racing heart. That was the worst nightmare she had ever experienced.
The air around her was so cold that she could see every exhale and she was shivering, even under the comforter. The hair on the back of her neck began to rise and she felt as if someone was watching her.
"Aoki?" There was no response.
Someone was there though, she could hear the floorboards creak under the strain of someone's feet.
There was a bang on the wall by her head that brought a scream from the throat and two more bangs quickly followed the first. There was silence only for a moment before the banging started again. The smell of rotting flesh and sulfur filled her nose and she gagged as she jumped out of the bed and ran for the door only for it to slam in her face.
She screamed again and backed herself into a corner as the knocking grew louder.
"Leave me alone!" She screamed at whatever is in the room with her. "You don't scare me!"
She felt the entities pleasure drape itself over her and seep into her bones, making her want to gag once again.
It wanted her to fight back.
Mai could have sobbed in relief as she heard the headman's voice outside of the house.
"Aoki!" She responded as she tried to stand up, only to be shoved back down. She hit her hip against a shelf and her head collided with the floor.
She groaned as she rolled onto her back, her head pounding and the room spinning when she knows it shouldn't be.
And then, as soon as it had started, it was all over. The temperature in the room started returning to normal and the smell along with the feeling of being watched was gone. But there were two things that remained tangible in the room, the fear that was seeping from Mai's bones and the stink of excitement that wasn't her own.
The next day she found she had a few bruises and a sinking feeling in her chest that she had severely misjudged just how bad this haunting was. It was not like any ghost she had faced before. The amount of malevolence she had felt the night before was something completely new.
Aoki had burst into her room and found her on the floor. She was pale and shaking and the room still had a cold breeze. In a moment of honesty, she told him about her dream but left out the other events.
It was the same dream the other villagers were having.
A person coming from the trees, cloaked in darkness and then killing every last human in the village. Blood painted the streets and the screams never stopped.
It was horrible.
And it couldn't be a coincidence that every single person was having the same one.
She had to leave the next night to go home, so she decided to use the day to explore the trees that surrounded the village.
She donned the hiking gear she had brought with her and with the suspicious eyes of the villagers following her, she disappeared in the trees.
Regret filled her immediately as the trees seemed to swallow up nay happiness she thought she had.
She felt the cold seep into her bones as the trees began to sway in a nonexistent breeze. She spun around to look at the way she had come but it looked wrong, warped in some way. The sun looked like it was going down but that was impossible because it couldn't have even been noon.
A dark presence seemed to grow behind her and she stood as straight as a board, frozen in place. The darkness that was emanating from the presence in waved made her fight to even stay alter. It was too much.
Mai fell her to knees with a gasp and felt bile flood her mouth. It came out in heaves as her hands hit the ground. Dark spots danced in her vision as she tried to turn and look at the entity behind her, but the darkness claimed her before she could.
Chocolate eyes opened in the dead of night as a sadistic smile spread across the girls face. She stood gracefully and then walked out of the forest, leaving her belongings behind her. The village was within the girls view in minutes, which shouldn't be possible. But the hungry smile on the girls face showed that she didn't care.
She approached the first house and that is when it began, the recurring dreams the villagers had been having. But tonight they became a reality. For the demon in the wood had found suitable host and now it was ready to feast.
The dreams kept the villagers paralyzed as the possessed Mai went from house to house, painting the village red with the blood of the demons victims.
The cracks of bones echoed in the dark when the scream would momentarily cease before the next victim was claimed. Men, women, child, the demon didn't care. Everyone would die tonight.
The demon saved the village headman for last, grinning sadistically as the head was ripped from his weak shoulders and the body collapsed onto the ground with a flop.
It was as the demon was sitting in the middle of the blood soaked village, licking its fingers that the van pulled in. The six people that piled out could only stare in horror as the petite girl that was covered head to toe in the blood of the people around her.
The demon could only smile though and nod, the village just wasn't quite red enough.