Chapter 17

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

― Stephen King

What Greta saw in that journal was far beyond what she had expected, she knew that something was wrong, but this was too much. When she looked up and saw the shadow of Annie in the doorway, she had to make a choice and as quickly as she could, she placed the small leather bound book back on the black table muttering, fuck fuck fuck under her breath. She backed away from the table and waited out of sight for Annie to walk out. She paused for just a second, noticing the slight shift in the journal on the wrought iron table before walking over to the garden bed she was working on in front of her house.


The photos that Greta saw in the books started out with piles of dirt and shovels. It was incredible to flip through the pages and see the earth take shape, day by day, Annie’s hand reached out and took hold of the ground, of the earth, as she exerted her power and dominance over the landscape. She stood in some of the pictures, at the edges, haunting the lines between god and man. She stood over her dominion, creating the scene for which she would act out the play of her life. 


The pictures started when they had bought the house years ago. And then out of nowhere, that dominance over the landscape began to change in form. Soon after the yard had been sculpted, there was a photo of the inside of the house. It was the first of its kind. It stood out in stark contrast to the others. It was of the bed, pristine and white, like one you would fall asleep on in an IKEA showroom. Greta turned the page and was surprised by yet another uncharacteristic photograph.


The photo was of a woman, standing by the side of the pool, posing as she was about the jump in. The second one was of the same woman tied to the bed, naked. The same comforter Greta had seen on Annie and Eddie’s sterile bed was beneath her. Her face was full of excitement. In the corner of the photo, was Eddie. Standing in the peripheral of the photo, an actor in the scene, but not one of the lead characters. As the photos progressed, the look on the woman’s face became more troubled. The final photo of her was anguish. Greta had seen many photos over the years of dead bodies, but never of the process.


The last photo that Greta flipped to was one of the women laying dead outside. There were more after that, but the sound of Annie moving in the house made it impossible for Greta to continue looking, she had to close the book and move away. As she crouched in the bushes, she struggled to slow her breathing, to decide what she should do next. She could call Janet, but she knew that once Annie heard her in the bushes she would be in trouble. She had been cleared to go back into the field, but had not gotten her firearms clearance yet and was not carrying a gun. She heard the crunch of gravel on the drive as a car pulled up. It was Eddie. 


He slowly pulled up and stepped out of the car, man or monster, Greta no longer knew. He began talking to Annie in low slow tones saying, “I know you wanted to wait, but I need another one.” Annie looked up, unconcerned, and replied, “Go for it, it has been long enough.” Eddie said, “What do we do though, the body brought too much attention to us. What if we get caught?” Annie said, “We’ll take the next one up the mountain, I don’t know who put the last one in our yard, but we haven’t gotten caught yet, and we won’t now.” Eddie answered back, “I knew there was some reason I stayed with you.” And the clouds rolled over Annie’s face and she yelled, “Fuck you!” threw down her tools and stomped into the house. Eddie followed her obediently. 


Greta ran to her car, ribs aching, breath bearing down on her broken body, she got in, slammed the door and pushed the button to start the engine. Her car had been parked on a side road on the other side of the hedge, unseen by both Annie and Eddie. The sound of the engine and the crunch of the tires on the gravel made enough noise for Greta to see both Annie and Eddie run out of the front door and stand on the concrete step watching her go, their faces frozen in a mask of stunned disbelief.


As soon as she could, Greta found her phone and dialed Janet. She could feel the sweat roll down between her breasts and temples. Her hands were shaking and she could barely breathe. The green lawns and suburban houses shouted out at her as she drove down the road, after the third ring, Janet answered. In a breathless tone, Greta told her everything she had seen. The book, the woman, the photos. The woman in the photos had been one that she had never seen before, but her face was burned into her mind. 

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