11 December 2004
Roger Bilson had lived alone ever since his wife died. He sold the house a few years later and moved into a little apartment downtown, where he wasn't responsible for all the maintenance and had relatively easy access to all his necessities. The money from the house gave him a bit of a head start and the retirement checks kept him afloat, but the apartment was beginning to show the effects of his limited income and mobility. His armchair was ragged and vaguely brown, the pictures on the wall hadn't been dusted in at least five years, and the table next to the chair was covered in medications, remotes, and the containers from three tv dinners.
The pictures were old, but a close examination would reveal a significant gap. There was a remnant from his wedding, in 1938, but then nothing until the 1970s. Then assorted pictures of church events, retirement, and vacations all the way up until shortly before his wife's death. Then, nothing again.
The television was showing the nightly news with the volume cranked up. Roger still kept the station on for the national news, but had started to lose interest in the affairs of the rest of the nation some time ago. Besides, by the time Dan Rather came on, Roger was growing tired, and he would usually fall asleep in front of whatever came on after. As the latest news from Washington was being explained, Roger was in the restroom, brushing his teeth.
He looked up from rinsing his toothbrush and suddenly saw Alethea in the mirror, standing behind him. He screamed, dropped his toothbrush, and blinked, and she was gone. When he turned, he saw nothing. He held the edges of the sink tightly, staring at the mirror until he was certain there was nothing there. Once he had caught his breath and calmed down, he slowly turned and made his way back to the chair and his nightly medications.
11 December 2004
The murder-suicide of Rufus and Elaine Matteson drew the attention of the local news, not least because the circumstances seemed highly unusual. The damage to the apartment and the way Rufus was damaged was enough to prove that forces other than the knife in her hand were involved, and no one could quite place what they were. A local paranormal blog had begun offering suggestions, but police were disinterested in those suspicions.
In their attempts to get the best coverage of the event, the local news had turned to interviewing anyone who might have had insight into Rufus, Elaine, or the event itself. One neighbor was of particular interest for having claimed to hear terrible noises coming from the apartment, noises that seemed entirely unnatural. He was an elderly man, a widower of twenty years, who had not drawn the attention of anyone since his daughter went missing in 1961. He explained to the news crew, as well as the police, that it sounded like a tornado had ripped through the Matteson apartment, along with screams no earthly voice could muster. There was, of course, significant doubt about his story. It made for good television, but the police could hardly do anything with ethereal screaming.
One thing that did catch the attention of the people walking past one little electronics store uptown, however, is that when he came on screen and his name was given, they heard a similar scream which shattered the windows of the shop. Without any discussion among them, each witness quietly chose to forget the incident and get home quickly. From a nearby rooftop, two ravens observed the shop and then one's gaze followed down the street, tracking something no mortal eyes present could see. The other looked to a massive black dog, hiding in an alley and watching.
10 December 2004
Rufus Matteson was a young man who, as it happens, had absolutely no connection to John Matteson. His ancestry was completely unrelated to John's, and was actually given their name on purpose. Really, the ways that completely disconnected bloodlines can end up with the same name can get fascinating if you're into that sort of thing; but let's assume for the moment you aren't. What matters here is that Rufus had very little in common with John. He was a fairly responsible young man, for one thing, and not given to ghost hunts or other trappings of the paranormal. He had married young to a woman named Elaine, picked up a stable job, and due to a medical condition they had no children but had discussed the possibility of adopting someday. The only reason that Rufus and Elaine intersect with our story at all, in fact, is that he happened to be named Matteson, in Chicago, when Alethea was seeking a new way to accomplish her goals and thought maybe the name was what mattered.
Rufus had noticed over the past few weeks that Elaine was acting odd. She was forgetful of things he knew she cared about, distracted, moody, and wasn't sleeping well. This was paired with a heightened libido, almost hypersexuality, which he didn't much mind but did note as unusual. He had attempted to ask about the whole package of changes, but she was resistant to acknowledge that anything was off and he wasn't sure how to help her see it without upsetting her.
He grew more worried when he found her crying. He tried to comfort her, but when she demanded to know why they weren't conceiving, he sat down and tried to remind her that they couldn't. This was the last straw, he knew it. If she couldn't remember even that, then something was deeply wrong. He reached for his phone and she screamed at him to stop. The noise had a tangible force behind it, and he fell to his side and hit the floor hard. When he turned back, she was floating, her eyes glowing and her hair gently waving away from her as though she was underwater. He crawled backward away from her as she began yelling, in two voices, about how he'd failed her, how all men knew how to do was fail her. He begged her to stop, to leave, to do anything other than this. She lunged at him.
3 January 1907
PORTIONS OF THE DAMAGED DIARY OF JOANNA WOZNIAK, AS RECOVERED BY THE POLICE DEPARTMENT OF ERIE, PA, ON THE EVENING OF MAY 28, 1974.
It has been two months since the weight of rejection and hatred in Allegheny forced me to take Jeremiah and move downstream. The people further west have not concerned themselves with the affairs of my home city, and had no reason to turn away a widow and her infant. It is difficult, allowing them to call me a widow, but it has been easier than the risk of telling them the truth. The fact that Jeremiah bears Indian features and dark skin has hindered our welcome, but not as bad as it could be.
Even Marilyn asked us to leave, in the end. Brandon was attacked and she feared it was due to their affiliation with me. She cried when she turned me away, but I cannot allow that to to obscure the fact that she turned us away.
I have gone to the river every day and spoken to Abe. I don't know if he hears me. He has certainly never replied. I have tried to keep him informed of our situation, where to find us, how quickly our son grows. His extended absence has made me worry. I threatened gods and spirits when he was taken from me, and if he is not returning and I am to continue going to the river, I must prepare for the possibility that I may be called on these words. I found a small, discrete bookseller in the next town, and have been able to secure a couple books on the occult with promises of more to come. I do not mean to dabble in witchcraft, but I must be prepared. I must know what will come for us, if anything, and how to defend against it. Lord grant that I never have to use this knowledge.