Short Story
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                  I Tried To Warn Them
                                                  By Rose Titus


  I tried to warn them.  Really.  I did!  But they wouldn’t listen!  I guess they
were too cool to listen to someone like me.  I mean, if you’re not on the
cheerleading squad, or the football team, you’re like nobody.

  Nobody...  Like me.

  So I guess they wouldn’t listen when I told them it might be kind of
dangerous to play with that Satanist stuff and go through that old book that
they stole and try to raise up some demons from Hell.  I guess they thought it
would be cool, or something.  But I told them that it could be dangerous.

  And what did they say?  They said, “You’re a baby!” and, “She’s just
jealous because we don’t hang out with her!” and, “What’s a matter, you
scared the creepy crawlies gonna get yah?”

  It all started when that old book was stolen from the library.  You see, at the
library in our town, they have this small room where these really old books
are kept in a glass case, and the case is locked.  I suppose because the
books are so old, maybe people think they’re valuable or something.  To me,
they’re just old books.  But one of the books was always locked in it’s own
case alone, and people said it was an old magic book that dated back to
when they had witch trials.  They say the witch hunters found the book.  It had
always been locked up, so no one probably opened it for a long time, maybe
it’s been even hundreds of years since it’s been read.

  Then it was stolen.  It was in the newspaper about the old book being
stolen, the glass case smashed into and all that.  But no one really seemed to
care much about it.  Most people thought it was just an old book, except the
people who said it was really an old witch’s book.  I even went to the library
myself, to make sure that was the one that was stolen, and I went into the
room with the old books.  So, yeah, it was the magic book that was missing.  It
was gone.

  That was the only one that they took.

  At that time, I didn’t know who “they” were.  I didn’t know who took it.  Most
people thought it was just stolen because it was old and valuable.

  But when I was walking home through the woods, that’s when I saw them:  A
small group of the most obnoxious kids in school.  And they had the book.  
There was cute blonde Chrissie, the head of the cheerleading squad.  And
Randall, the captain of the football team.  I guess Chrissie was just there
because of Randall.  Chrissie just followed Randall everywhere like a dog and
whatever Randall thought was cool, Chrissie thought it was cool, too.  
Chrissie was pretty, but she just wasn’t into thinking too deeply or thinking for
herself.

  There was Trent.  Oh, naturally, Trent.  Trent was the one who set fire to
this special needs girl’s messy and smelly hair.  It was supposed to be funny
according to Trent, but she ended up in the hospital.  Then Trent told all the
grown ups how she set the fire herself, and no one dared say otherwise, or
else they’d be set on fire too.  So the poor special needs girl ended up in a
mental hospital after being treated for burns, because everyone in charge of
the school was telling her parents she set herself on fire, just because Trent
said she did it to herself.  I don’t know why anyone believed a word Trent
said.  After all, Trent always carried a lighter, and a switchblade.  So even
though the other kids figured Trent really did set the girl on fire, no one dared
talk.  Trent had long greasy hair and always wore black.

  Then there was Chip, too.  I was kind of surprised at Chip.  He was for sure
headed for Ivy League.  Chip was the guy everyone said had a future.  It
wasn’t that Chip was smart.  No.  He was as dumb as concrete.  But his dad
was rich, so he had a future and his future included Ivy League, I guess.  
Everyone else, even if they were real smart, they were headed for community
college if they were lucky.

  I came into the field beyond the woods where the path would lead up toward
where my backyard was.  What was I doing there?  Heck, on the other side of
the woods was the street where the strip mall was, and the comic book store
was in the strip mall.  Plus also the candy store.  That’s all.  That’s one of the
reasons why I’m nobody.  Because I like comic books.  It’s okay for a guy to
like comic books, but if you’re a girl and you like comic books, then you’re like
weird or something.  I don’t know why.  But that’s the way it is.

  So anyway, I wasn’t in the woods to do drugs or anything.  Just cutting
through so I didn’t have to walk all the way down the main street and then go
down the side street toward my house.  I just cut through the woods, like a lot
of kids did since the comic book store opened up.  It was also mainly because
someone stole my bike a few weeks before.  I still think it was Trent, but I
wouldn’t say anything about that and get set on fire, or something.

  Anyway, I was heading back toward my house and came upon the most
mismatched bunch of popular morons from high school I ever saw.  Blonde
Chrissie in her short skirted cheerleader uniform, giggling at Randall.  Trent
all in black with a lit up joint, long black hair hiding half his face.  And then
there was Chip.  I never figured these jerks would hang around with each
other.

  First thing I heard was Chip say, “Gimme some of that joint, Trent.”

  Trent said, “Get your own.”

  And what did Chip do?  He actually reached into the pocket of his own
jacket and pulled out a joint, “Okay.  Gimme a light.”

  Trent went for his lighter and lit Chip’s joint.

  Then I saw the book, and that’s how I knew they were the ones who stole it.  
Randall was carrying it.  He looked through it while he walked through the
field following Trent and Chip, “I can’t understand a word in this crazy book,
Trent.  You sure this is a good idea?”

  Chrissie looked at the book while Randall held onto it, “What do all those
funny words mean, Randy?”

  “Dunno.  Maybe Trent knows.  He’s the expert in this stuff.  Hey, Trent –

  “It’s Latin, dummy.  Gimme that, will yah,” Trent grabbed the book from
Randall.

  Then Chip saw me, “Hey, look.”

  I was like, Oh my God, they see me.

  “What’re you doing here?” giggled Chrissie.  “This is our thing.  You weren’t
invited!”  Then she saw the comic books rolled up in my hand, “Oh, what a
loser.  Look, you guys.  She still reads those stupid comic books.”

  “At least I didn’t steal them,” I said.  “What are you doing with that old book?”

  “None of your business,” said Trent.

  “We’re Satanists!” giggled Chrissie, as if it was funny.

  “So, like, why are you Satanists?” I asked.  She looked at me like it was a
dumb question.  I don’t know why anyone would want to be a Satanist.  I
mean, doesn’t that mean you just go to Hell when you die?  And who wants to
go to Hell?  It’s stupid to end up in Hell, right?  I mean, all you do when you
get to Hell is like suffer forever, right?  Finally, someone answered the
question.

  “Because we’re cool and you’re not,” said Chip, puffing his joint.

  Trent finished his own joint and smirked, “We’re gonna conjure up some
demons from Hell.  It will be cool.  Wanna watch?”

  “Isn’t that kind of dangerous?” I said.

  “You’re a baby!” Chrissie said, “She’s just jealous because we don’t hang
out with her!”

  Trent flipped through the book until he found a page he liked, “What’s a
matter, you scared the creepy crawlies gonna get yah?”

  “Naw,” I lied.  I was scared.  But not of the devil.  I was afraid of these
freaks.  I mean, okay, so I might be a loser because I read dumb comic
books, but these guys were Satanists.  They were so stupid they might really
do something like that, “I gotta go home, okay?”

  “Oh, so you can read your comic books?” snarled Chrissie.

  “At least I’m not reading about Satan.  Okay?  Bye.”  I started walking again.

  “Hey Trent,” said Chip, “Let’s have a human sacrifice.”

  I started walking faster now.

  “Naw,” said Trent.  “Someone will find the body, then they’ll have cops all
over, and people will be asking questions, and people will finally figure out it
was me that burnt that dumb girl’s hair, and I’ll end up in juvenile detention.  
Come on, you guys, let’s forget her and get this thing going.  No one listens
to her, anyway, even if she does tell.  We gotta raise some demons so we
can take over the school like we planned, right?”

  “The school, nuthin,” said Chip.  “Take over the whole town, dude.  You
think too small, Trent.  First the town, then the whole country.”

  “And maybe the world,” giggled Chrissie.  Everything that she said came
out in giggles.  She was so annoying, I don’t know why they didn’t make her
the human sacrifice.

  I kept walking faster.

  “Oh look,” Chrissie giggled again, “She’s running away.”
  
  Okay, so I was running.  I could deal with any one of them, if any one of
them was alone.  But they were all together.  And when idiots like them get
together, there’s sure to be a lot of trouble.

  I kept running towards home, but I could hear them behind me, reciting the
words out of the book.  It was Trent reading out loud.  Then I could smell
sulfur.  At first, I thought that stupid Trent was burning stuff again, or he
dropped a joint and set the field on fire, until I realized that sulfur is supposed
to be associated with the devil or something.  I began to smell smoke, too.  I
stopped and turned around when I heard this rumbling sound.  I looked and I
was totally amazed to see this hole open up in the middle of the field in front
of where they all stood, flames coming out of it.  I ran faster now.  I ran all the
way home.  I didn’t even turn and look when I heard the explosion.

  The hole is still out there in the field that’s behind the woods.  If you walk
through the woods and come to the field, you can still see it.  People say it’s
just a sinkhole that opened up all of a sudden.  But don’t get too close,
because it goes all the way to Hell.  They are all reported as missing now, all
of them.  Chrissie, Randall, Trent, and Chip.  All of them are missing.  People
in town say no one knows what happened to them.  But I know where they
went.  They all went to Hell.  I guess they didn’t know what they were doing
with that book.  Instead of being able to control the powers of demons, I
guess they just opened a gateway to Hell and got dragged into it.

  Good riddance.

  Chip’s dad hired a private detective and put up a big reward if he’s ever
found, but they’ll never find him.  Unless Chip’s dad ends up in Hell himself,
he’ll never see his son again.  Chrissie’s mom is all over the TV and crying
her eyes out on camera, saying, “Please!  Whoever took my baby!  Bring her
home!”  It’s like she’s enjoying being on TV.  Chrissie is not coming home,
lady. The devil took her.  Randall’s dad got the football team to help search
the woods, but they’ll never find him.  They don’t know enough to look down
the sinkhole.  And I guess Trent is burning in Hell, so now he knows how that
poor special needs girl felt when he ignited her messy hair.

  I don’t go through the woods much anymore.  It’s too scary.  But sometimes,
just sometimes, I walk to the edge of the woods where it opens up to where
the field is, and look at the sinkhole.  If you stare at it long enough, you can
almost see an orange glow.  And if you listen hard enough, sometimes you
can hear the cries of the damned.
About Rose Titus
Rose Titus works two
jobs to support her
writing habit.  She
exists somewhere in a
suburb in cold, dreary
New England, with
three pain in the arse
cats and a very out of
date Macintosh.  She
also has a restored
classic Buick that gets
her to the grocery
store.

Her work has
previously appeared
in Lost Worlds, Lynx
Eye, Bog Gob,
Mausoleum, Midnight
Times, Blood Moon
Rising, The Bugle,
Weird Terrain,
Descend, and Wicked
Wheels.