By Eddie D. Moore
Arno heard the scraping of a blade against a whetstone while he toiled replacing wooden shingles. The old farmer, Mr. Kensett, had been sitting on the front porch sharpening his knife ever since his daughter had come outside and introduced herself. She had given Arno an appraising look with a smile that made Arno blush and the old farmer narrow his eyes. He resisted the urge to remove his shirt for fear that Lomi, the farmer’s daughter, might make another appearance. He did not want the farmer to grow suspicious or think that something uncouth might pass between him and the girl. It would not be the first time that he had been run off of a farm without being paid.
With the last broken shingle replaced, he climbed down the ladder. Lomi rushed out the front door just as he placed a foot on the ground. She carried a single cup and walked past her father without a glance. When she offered the cup, Arno glanced at her father and noted his irritation. He took the cup with a nod and quickly moved to stand directly in front of Mr. Kensett.
“I believe that completes the list you gave me this morning.”
Mr. Kensett put down his whetstone, wiped the dust from the blade on his pants and walked with Arno to inspect the day’s work. “You have an eye for detail. I would say it was worth every coin.”
Arno accepted the day’s wages with a hand shake and turned to go. Lomi ran from the front porch to Arno’s side and grabbed hold of his arm.
“Wait! Father, after working the man all day you would just let him go and not offer him dinner?”
Arno opened his mouth to protest but Lomi’s father answered first. “I’m sure he has arrangements in town and would like to get there before dark.”
Arno nodded agreement, “Yes. Yes, I have a room waiting and need to get cleaned up or Mrs. Faulk might not let me inside.”
Arno did not wait to listen to Lomi’s protests. He jogged until Mr. Kensett’s farm and libidinous daughter were well out of sight.
Mrs. Faulk accepted his payment for the night’s boarding with a smile, “Ah, I’m glad to see you are not sleeping in the barn tonight. I always feel guilty putting people in the barn when there are empty beds upstairs. Now, go get a bath before you smell up my dining room. Dinner will be ready within the hour.”
“I don’t mind the barn. The animals have never complained about my smell.”
Mrs. Faulk waved him from the room, “I would not want to spoil the horses’ dinner with your body odor either. Now off with you. Go. Go on. Get.”
The bed in Arno’s room was soft and covered with a heavy homemade quilt. He stared at the ceiling with heavy eye lids considering where he would look for work in the morning. Expecting Mrs. Faulk when a light came to the door, Arno did not even open his eyes, “Come on in.” He cracked an eye open when he heard the lock on the door slide shut. Lomi leaned against the locked door with a wicked grin.
Arno’s frantic mind searched for a way of escape but there was only one door and the room was on the second floor. “What are you doing here? Does your father know where you are? This isn’t proper. What would people say?”
“Oh, I think they’re saying it already. The common room was full when I got here and most of them watched me all the way up the stairs.”
Arno noticed her tight pants and low cut blouse and had no doubt that the rumors were already churning. He sighed and began considering which direction he would be traveling in the morning.
“Lomi, your father made it very clear this morning, by sharpening his knife all day, that I was to keep a proper distance from you.”
She puckered her lips with a little pout, “Don’t let that scare you; he has only actually used that knife once.”
Arno rolled his eyes, but before he could reply, something heavy hit the door. The next moment he was out of bed and gathering his things.
“Lomi! I know you’re in there, and I knew that boy would be trouble! Open this door, or I will open it myself!”
Arno did not wait to see how long the door would hold against the pounding. He opened the window and was relieved to see the lattice work on the side of the house would bear his weight. With feet firmly on the ground, he looked up to see Lomi climbing out the window and on to the lattice.
“What are you doing?”
Scaling the lattice work, “I wanted you to ask me to come with you.” Lomi dropped to the ground and picked up a travel bag she had hid under some vines. “Now I’m going with you, without you asking me.”
Lomi hefted her bag over her shoulder and buttoned the top two buttons on her blouse. “Well are you just going to stand there or are we leaving?” Arno blinked twice in response.
A crashing sound above told Arno the door gave way, and within moments, Lomi’s father was at the window. “Lomi! What are you doing? Only you can bring her back and tonight is the full moon.”
Arno began jogging down the street and Lomi followed close behind while her father yelled from the window. They could hear him yell faintly as they ran, “If not tonight, there is another full moon next month. I will find you and we will bring her back.”
Once they were a short distance from town, Arno and Lomi stopped for a quick rest.
“What did your father mean, ‘Only you can bring her back’?”
Lomi took a seat on the ground beside him, “My mom died a couple years ago. A few months ago my father found a book on speaking with the dead. I have no idea where he found it, but he has not been the same ever since.”
“He thinks you can bring your mother back from the dead?”
“He has become obsessed with it! There is a room in the barn where he has spent hours studying that book. The walls are covered in odd symbols and bones are scattered about the floor.”
Lomi rolled up her sleeve and exposed a stitched straight cut on her forearm. “A few nights ago I woke up tied to the bed with this arm out stretched. He came in with a bowl, cut my arm and caught the blood. Can you see now? He was not sharpening that knife to scare you. He knew that tonight was the full moon. He was sharpening that knife for me. I have to get away from here.”
Arno looked her over with suspicion, “Show me this room and if it is as you describe, we will both get as far from here as possible.”
“I just escaped and you want me to risk going back? Are you crazy?”
“You sound crazy, if you ask me. I’m going to need something more than your word before we run off together.”
Lomi huffed and shook her head, “We run there, you look in the room and then we get the hell out of here.”
Arno nodded his agreement and they ran toward the farm.
The house and barn were both eerie and dark as they approached. Arno whispered, “See, he is still looking for us, or we simply beat him back. We should have time to see this room.”
The hinges screeched as Arno pushed open the door. Then they lit a lamp that hung nearby. Lomi led him to a door in the back of the barn and pointed, “In there.”
Arno walked in and inspected the markings on the wall. There were scattered bones as she had described and a bowl in the center of the room holding a dark liquid. Lomi stepped in and grabbed him by the arm, “Believe me now? Let’s get out of here.”
Turning to leave, they stopped short and Lomi let out a small yelp. Her father stood in the doorway with a grin. “I knew you would help me bring her back.” He closed the door, pulled his knife, and then lunged at Arno.
Arno dodged to the side and grabbed the arm holding the knife. Stepping back he pulled him off balance and shoved him to the ground. Before he had a chance recover, Arno grabbed a heavy bone and slammed it against his head. When he made no move to get up, Arno dropped the bone and led Lomi out of the eerie room. They locked the door and wasted no time leaving the farm behind them.
Eddie D. Moore travels extensively for work and he spends much of that time listening to audio books. The rest of the time is spent dreaming of stories to write and he spends the weekends writing them. His stories have been published by Saturday Night Reader and Every Day Fiction. He can be followed on Twitter @EddieMoore27