Strigoi Part 16

November 1992

Roy walked to the woman and stopped right in front of her. He was so close, he could count every line and wrinkle that crossed her face. Roy wanted to get as far away from the woman as possible, but he could not will himself to get away from her. “You need something, my boy” She whispered. There was a hole where one of her eyes used to be, and the other was a clouded grey. Like a marble. Roy felt himself nod his head up and down to give the signal of saying “yes”. “I will give you your heart’s desire. I know you ache for more, My boy”. She patted his face, making his entire body feel a sense a comfort and warmth. “She understands me,” Roy said to himself. “She knows I’m trying and I’m doing my best”. “Your wish is my command”, the old woman croaked. She embraced Roy into a warm hug, feeling him up with the most love he’d felt in months.

Roy woke up in his bed with a start, without memory of how he had gotten there. Roy looked at the clock on his night stand, which stated it was a little after 3:00am. “When did I get home?”, he asked himself. “How did I get home? ”. The last thing Roy remembered was being in the woods and seeing the old woman watching him. Roy still felt extremely tired, he laid back down and fell fast asleep.

Roy’s luck changed following the week into the remainder of the month. His grades rose from C’s, D’s, and F’s to A’s and B’s. His former coach asked him to come back to the team, He got his job back at the food mart on Sanders Street, his mother was more proud of him and stopped getting on his case about everything. He and his girlfriend even got back together. His guidance counselor told him that if he continued making good grades and scoring high on the team, he could get an athletic scholarship to a college of choice. Even Michael Ward, his arch nemesis since the sixth grade, gave him kudos on a good game. Roy didn’t understand the sudden turn around, but he thought it was about time.

One cool crisp day, closer to around Thanksgiving, Roy was on his way home from practice when he decided to cut through the woods. He had forgotten about seeing the old woman watching him the last time he was there. Roy crunched through dried leaves and twigs, careful to look for leaf covered holes and rabid animals. He suddenly looked up to see the old woman standing there watching him. Roy believed she was standing in the same spot he saw her, a few weeks ago. “Everything’s going well I take it”, she said, her voice sounding thin, like wax paper. Roy, was confused but somehow knew what she was talking about. “Yes, things are going really good. I’m back on the football team, my girlfriend and I are back together, my grades are up”, Roy said, smiling. He knew the old woman had something to do with it, but couldn’t remember how. “Well, since I helped you, I need you to help me”, She croaked. Her shawl flapped as a gust of cold wind suddenly surrounded her and Roy. “Okay, I’ll help you. Tell me what I can do”, Roy said stepping closer to her.

“I need you to bring me David Johnson’s body”, the old woman whispered. Roy looked at her, his face balled up in confusion. David Johnson was a deacon at the church he and his mother went to. Roy assumed helping out meant fixing things around her house, cutting her grass, or taking her trash out. Not anything like this. “Um, what do you mean?”, Roy asked, his brow furrowed. The old woman laughed, it sounded like wax paper crumpling. “I want you to kill David Johnson and bring his body to me”, she croaked. Roy stepped back from her, cold shivers running throughout his entire body. The air felt colder, and the sky seemed to get darker, although it was only little after four in the afternoon. “I’m sorry, Miss, I can’t do that. I’m not a killer and Deacon Johnson is a good man. I appreciate you helping me however you did it, but I can’t return the favor by hurting someone”, Roy said as he began stepping away from the woman.

“Are you sure bout that, Roy Gabriel Armstrong? You owe me for my services and you need to pay” , the old woman said as she snatched her shawl off of her head in what seemed to be in frustration. Her hair was bald except for a few wisps of white hair in the back. Her face started transforming into something otherworldly. “I didn’t ask for your help and I don’t even remember speaking to you!”, Roy yelled before running out of the woods as fast as he could. He didn’t stop running until he got to his house, ran in the door, slammed it and locked it. His mother peered in from the kitchen doorway, drying her hands with a dish towel. “Roy! Is that you slamming the door like that?”, she asked. Loretta Armstrong tossed the dish towel on the counter and walked out of the kitchen, her face etched in concern. “Roy? What’s wrong, Baby?”, she asked, walking slowly to her son. Roy didn’t want to tell his mother about his encounters in the woods with the old woman. He had been on her good side as of late, and didn’t want to mess it up. He also knew she wouldn’t believe him. Would probably accuse him of making fun of the old hag. Instead, Roy took a deep breath, wiped his hand down his face and said, “Ma, practice was brutal. I couldn’t wait to get home.” He kissed his mother’s cheek and walked around her to the kitchen.

Loretta looked at her son walk into the kitchen with a puzzled expression on her face. She knew her son, her only child, like the back of her hand and knew that something scared the hell out of him. Bullies? Nah. Roy wasn’t afraid to stand up for himself, and along with his best friend, Darren, bullies definitely wouldn’t be the problem. Teenagers were weird, especially teen-aged boys. Loretta shrugged her shoulders and went back into the kitchen to finish preparing dinner. Roy was drinking a glass of lemonade, while holding a drumstick from last night’s dinner in his other hand. “I hope you washed your hands”, she chided. Roy stifled a burp while nodding his head. His mother was eyeing him quizzically, which let him know that she knew that he was lying about running in straight from practice because he was so exhausted and hungry. Roy had never been able to keep anything from his mother. But this situation was so weird, so bizarre, that he had to try. “Oh! I forgot, Mama I gotta call Darren about some school info I heard about” he said, taking his lemonade and piece of chicken upstairs with him.

Roy called Darren from the telephone in his room, listening to constant ringing on the other end, he silently prayed that Darren was home and not working at his part time job at Crook’s Diner. He and Darren often walked half way home together before splitting up to go to their houses. As of late, they hadn’t been walking home due to Darren going to practice and his part time job. Roy just got back on the team two weeks ago, so they hadn’t really seen much of each other. Darren was the only one Roy trusted telling about his run in with the old woman who lived in the woods. He may laugh at first and think he’s lying, but Roy knew once he persuaded him that he was telling the truth, he would seriously listen.

Mrs. Webster answered the phone and told Roy that Darren was at his part time job. He politely left a message for Darren to call him, put the phone back on the receiver and laid down. Roy suddenly became extremely tired. His eyelids felt heavy and the sounds of his mother tinkering around in the kitchen lulled him to sleep. Roy suddenly became engrossed in the most horrifying nightmare he’d ever encountered.