Tattoo Book 6, part 2.7
Posted by harmony0stars on July 19, 2010
Centralia wasn’t quite a wasteland, but it definitely wasn’t a hub of commerce either. Throughout most of the town, there was no way to tell even where buildings might once have been. Dusty and crumbling streets stretched off into the yellow-gray grasses and leafless trees like roads to nowhere. Potholes were filled with more dead grasses and stunted saplings, though the streets where there were still houses seemed to be in better condition. The news articles she’d found online had stated that there were less than a dozen people living in the blighted town, but there was no way to tell if any of the buildings they saw were still inhabited. Most of the homes looked to be in pretty good shape, better than Pop’s place at least.
Glory stopped the ATV as she arrived at Park Street and pulled the folded map from her back pocket. “Man, this bites,” Robert grumbled, sliding off the back of the ATV to stretch his legs.
“You didn’t think it was going to be like your videogame, did you?” she asked, refolding the papers.
“Well, yeah. I mean, at least a little, since they based it on the place.” He hunched his shoulders and scowled at the nearest house. “I thought it’d at least be creepier.”
Glory snorted. “Don’t you get enough creepy stuff living with me?”
He shrugged, looking around at the houses. If there was anyone home, they weren’t coming out to see who was visiting their smudge of a town. “Well, I didn’t want it to be like the game. That’d just be insane. Silent Hill is freakin scary. But, you know, I thought there’d be broken down houses and smelly mists from the fires and stuff. I thought it would be spooky at least so I could get some pictures. What am I going to tell my friends online? ‘Yeah, went to Centralia. There were a couple old houses and the streets were kind of beat up.’”
She smiled and motioned for him to get back on the ATV. “Tell them- all the plants were dead and dying from the heat of the flames just beneath your feet. A cop warned you about going near any fire or smoke because the earth might open up and swallow you whole. There was no one around, and most of the buildings had been knocked down years ago.” She saw him grin as he climbed onto the back of the vehicle. Apparently it was suitably creepy.
They rode up a long and lonely road that lost its name as they followed it away from the town, though it was still Park Street according to her map. As they slowly climbed above the broken town, the road wound through the dense foliage that had moved in to reclaim the area. Nature seemed eager to erase all trace of the people who had once lived there.
“Hey!” Robert yelled in her ear, tightening his arms around her waist. “Did you see that?”
“What?” She slowed down to scan the trees around them.
“I don’t know… it looked like a tall guy in a suit. I mean… really tall. It was- it was probably just a scarecrow or a dummy someone put up to be a creep. I -I mean, he didn‘t have a face and what would anyone in a suit be doing out here?” From the tremor in his voice, she didn’t think he believed it, but it could just have been from the bumpy road.
They turned a bend and there was the house, or at least Glory assumed it was the right place. It was the first structure they’d passed since leaving the once bustling suburb of Centralia. She slowed the ATV to a stop and waited for Robert to climb off, but he didn’t move. She turned her head and saw him watching the trees.
He flinched and looked away from the woods. “Yeah, but it was really creepy.”
“I thought you wanted creepy,” she teased.
“Yeah, well…” he muttered, sliding off the back of the ATV. He followed her, but she couldn’t help but notice he kept glancing back at the woods.
The trees seemed to lean in towards the old house like a many fingered hand closing in. Robert stuck close to her as she approached the door, though she honestly couldn’t tell if the place was inhabited. The house had been white once, but time had stripped it of any brightness. The paint had faded to a dull gray where there was even paint left on the wooden boards. One of the windows was boarded up with plywood and a no trespassing sign stapled to it, but many of the others looked as though the local children had used them for target practice. In the oppressive heat that Glory had come to associate with the area, she couldn’t tell if the windows that were still intact had been left open in the hope of capturing some errant breeze or if whoever owned the place was just that eager for nature to reclaim the place.
The accumulated leaf litter of decades clotted area in front of the door. Robert stumbled over the hidden steps and collided with her back as he continued to watch the woods for whatever it was he thought was hiding there. She dug the camera out of her backpack and handed it to him. “Here, why don’t you get some pictures. This place is creepy enough for your friends, right?”
Without a word, he took the camera, but after a few clicks at the house, he turned his attention to the trees and continued to take pictures. No one answered when Glory knocked on the door, and she started to think that maybe she had the wrong house after all. She pulled out her map and walked towards what looked like an old sun room, though a thicket of bushy trees ensured the sun never reached inside.
She’d printed an old street map from Google along with the satellite images of Centralia, but so far as she could tell, this was the only house still standing on Park street. Glory looked for a number on the building, but if there ever had been one, it was long gone. As she approached the tree clogged sunroom, she wondered if she should go back to town and knock on a few doors there.
“Can’t you read?” demanded a gruff voice from the dark sunroom. A nondescript mound shifted in the darkness, pushing itself up from an ancient rocker that moved under its own momentum for several seconds after the old woman vacated it. “The sign says, ‘no trespassing,’ so git.”
“I’m sorry,” said Glory, approaching the sunroom. “I’m looking for someone. Would you happen to know where I can find Meredith Lewin?”
“You found her. State your business,” the old woman growled, visible now at what might have been a door or simply a part of a screen that hung askew.
to Book 6, part 2, page 8