Elizabeth Cambel waited so long for the moment to arrive when she had her chance to move up in the world. She knew sooner or later everything had to change and it had finally arrived. She finally was worth something and her parents would have been proud. On the day of the fatal crash that took their lives so quickly, fifteen years earlier, was the exact day she began to realize that she had to make ends meet by herself. It was hard to believe that she had achieved such a high position within the company when many years before she thought her life would amount to nothing at all. Now she was walking through her dream home in the small town of Cloverville.
She remembered how awkward the town seemed when she first visited in order to talk to the President of Garrett Enterprises. It was a quaint place for such a large corporation, and Elizabeth was upset at the end of her interview when the man she had worked for never showed. Yet, she was thrilled just the same when the job of vice-president of Garrett Enterprises was given to her. It was definitely an offer she couldn't refuse. From that time, she knew that her life was going to go in a different direction.
However, there was still a bit of fear creeping its way into her mind as she walked through her new home. It was the unknowing of what tomorrow was going to bring on her first day on the job. Elizabeth wanted to impress Mr. Morton even though she had never met him up close before. Not only that, but she felt it to be detrimental to her career.
She was soon taken from her deep thought when the realtor began to speak. "Well Miss Cambel, is the house to your liking?"
Elizabeth noticed him eagerly anticipating her answer. After all, it was the largest house on the block and the only one for sale in Cloverville. In an awkward sense, there seemed to be a strange urgency in the way he walked, but Elizabeth tried to ignore it. She didn't want to hurry. Instead, she admired the gray marbled floor of the hall and the two Greek pillars separating the hallway from the rest of the house. She had only seen pillars of such elegance in magazine photos. It was such rich taste for her new start in life.
She slowly moved her way past the pillars where the rest of the house awaited. The hallway opened up into a large circle with four different doorways that led to another exciting area of the home. Elizabeth went to the left first where the dining area and kitchen awaited her approval. There wasn't anything really spectacular about the stainless steel kitchen except that it was probably the largest kitchen she had ever set foot in, but the dining area was a totally different story.
A cherrywood table with matching chairs sat in the middle of the room that was big enough to keep a large family together. The tabletop had a high glossy finish allowing her to see the reflection of a beautiful dangling chandelier. "It was definitely authentic crystal," she thought to herself as the light from the window danced its way through it and onto the dark beige walls of the room. Some of the prism light found its way onto the shaggy burgundy carpet and chairs. Elizabeth brushed her fingers against the soft red and gold velvet cushions of the closest seat and backrest. Everything in the room screamed romance and she wondered who had owned the house before. The thoughts of a loving young couple living in the elegant house came to mind. They must have been well off and loved the seclusion of their surroundings.
Elizabeth looked at the realtor, whom had a confused look on his face, and gave him a quick smile to let him know that she enjoyed the house. She walked back out onto the white and gray marble floor following it around. There was a dark hallway where she assumed the bedrooms were, but before she turned the living room caught her eye. There were three beige carpeted steps going down into the furnished living room where a large cushioned white couch faced a lit fireplace. A sixty inch flat screen television hung directly above the mantle with candlesticks on either side. Two bay windows were directly across from where she was standing allowing her to see the desolate road she now lived on. The house seemed almost too good to be true and Elizabeth tried searching her memory to see if she could recall the ad in the newspaper. As far as she knew the house wasn't supposed to be furnished, but she couldn't remember exactly what it stated.
She hesitantly began to ask the realtor, "Does the house come with the furniture or are they just show pieces for the prospective buyer?"
"Well," the realtor gulped with uneasiness. "The house didn't have furniture, nor did it even look like this inside until today. When you called three weeks ago the entire house was gutted."
"That's weird. How did all this get in here then," it was Elizabeth's turn to be confused.
"Honestly, I can't say because I have no idea. All I have to say is that you must have some very rich friends."
Elizabeth didn't say anything to the man's comment because she stopped to think of whom she would know. The only time she had ever came to Cloverville was three weeks ago and she knew absolutely no one. It was almost too baffling for her to think about. Not only that, but she was getting a good price for the house.
"May I see the rest of the home," Elizabeth finally asked.
"Sure," the man said as he gestured her to follow him. They walked down the dark hallway only to come upon an enormous bathroom. It had everything from a Jacuzzi tub, to a good-sized shower and dual sinks. Except for the shower area, the walls were covered with mirrors bordered in etched roses and vines. Now things were getting just a bit weird. Roses were her favorite flower and only someone that really knew her would have known that. Elizabeth tried to remember whom she had met in the small town that might have known her, but there wasn't anyone. She didn't really want to worry about it because she was falling in love with it. The house had definitely fit her style of a dream home.
"Where are the bedrooms," she asked.
"That's a good question," the realtor answered. "Let's go find out." The man turned just as impatient to look at the rest of the house as she was.
It didn't surprise her in the least that he had no idea where the bedrooms were. After all, he admitted that the house had been gutted three weeks earlier. And she also knew that sooner or later the person who fixed up the inside would be revealed on his or her own time. They made their way back through the dark hallway and it didn't take long for Elizabeth to find two cherry wood doors to the right. Neither of them had gone that way, so naturally it had to be the only way to the bedrooms.
She pointed towards the doors and quickly opened them expecting to see the bedrooms right away, but instead a spectacular sight appeared. The marble floor that decorated the main entrance of the home followed into the area where a black and white Victorian staircase curled along the right side of a round room that met a balcony with elegantly carved posts at the top. There were two windows on either side of the wall as she followed her way up with her eyes. The light shown on one of the largest chandeliers Elizabeth had ever set eyes on. It hung directly in the center of a ridged ceiling. The exquisite masterpiece had four layers of dangling crystals that were almost as tall as she and the frosted light bulbs help give it a magnificent cast throughout the hall. As she followed the glistening prisms down towards eye level again she noticed two more doors with frosted windows and golden doorknobs. These doors, however, led to the outside. Each piece of glass had two large roses etched in a frosty white that somehow had an interlaced golden glitter. Elizabeth was even more impressed with the brilliance of the house after going up the stairs to look at the bedrooms.
The first door she opened was to the far right and it had been decorated in a sky blue with hints of silver and other hues of blue. It had only the necessary amount of furniture in it and she knew right away that it would be a guestroom. The middle bedroom had an almost awkward, but romantic, feel about it. The bed had burgundy sheets, the dressers were made of cherrywood and, for some strange reason, and the room only had a small skylight in the far corner. It was the last room, however, that captivated Elizabeth and she knew instantly that it would be the one for her. The walls were painted white, the furniture was a glossy black color, the shaggy rug was white and the poster bed matched the rest of the furniture in the room. Gold spiraled around the posts from top to bottom and had a sheer cloth hung from the bars that connected each post. It appeared as if the cloth was hand embroidered with almost perfect red roses, which matched the quilt that covered the bed. Elizabeth believed that the best feature of the room though was the doors to the left that led to a small balcony. She could overlook the backyard as well as the single line of pine trees that lived nearby. The balcony only had enough room for two people to stand, but she didn't care. The entire house was magnificent and she couldn't have asked for anything better.
When Elizabeth turned around she saw the realtor with an awestruck expression and he was scratching his head. She chuckled at the fact that he was just as bewildered as she when it came to the furnishings and the beauty of the once gutted home. Yet, she was in love with the home and it was her chance to start a new life, in a small town, away from any worry or stress.
"Where is the paperwork that you made up the last time I was here," Elizabeth asked with a gleaming smile. She watched the realtor reluctantly take the paperwork out of his old briefcase and had her sign at the X. She followed him back down the stairwell and he turned around to say one last thing.
"Since you paid in full you won't be seeing me around any longer. Congratulations on your new home," he shook Elizabeth's hand, got into his car then frantically fiddled with his cell phone as if to call someone important. She chuckled again because there was no doubt in her mind that he was probably calling his boss in order to tell him about the last showing.
She sat down on one of her new porch steps after watching her realtor leave and finally had a good look at Cloverville for the first time. The scenery was beyond her expectations with the mystic mountains in the horizon, the variety of trees living all around and the streets that appeared to not be traveled on. It had a peaceful quaintness, but she was yet to meet anyone that lived near her. Elizabeth did think it a bit odd that no one had the least bit curiosity of who she was and what their new neighbor was like, but she new that they would show themselves in due time. The only thing she was unsure of was the winters. After living in Miami all her life she was not used to anything cold except for the sea after a hurricane.
Just when she brought her thoughts back to Cloverville an elderly man strolled by. His had a strange appearance and he stared at her with his dark brown eyes. When he stopped in front of her sidewalk Elizabeth thought that perhaps he wanted to talk and meet the new girl, but he only stood there. Elizabeth was a magnificent sight to look upon. Her curly raven hair flowed down her back softly caressing her facial features. Her skin milky white, pink lips and ice blue eyes almost made her look like a mystical creature. She was also quite tall and always had problems meeting men that were above six foot with some sanity. That was the main reason why she was still single.
She did become a bit spooked when she realized that the man had no intention of moving on. Elizabeth wouldn't have minded the man if he just said something, but he just stared at her. Not only that, but it was the way his eyes glared. It seemed as if he was looking directly into her soul. Just the thought sent shivers down her spine. Yet, it was her turn to be speechless when she tried to talk to him, not a single word came out her mouth. Elizabeth watched as he shook his head and finally continued on with his journey down the sidewalk. It relieved her greatly that he left and she hoped that the strange man would not come around again any time soon.
She wanted to quickly get rid of her uneasiness, so she decided to walk across the street where a small bookstore resided. Books had always been her release since she could remember. Her favorite genre was fantasy, but as she looked around for a good one she only found romance novels, dark romance and bibliographies. And for the first time, in a long time, Elizabeth decided to go for the bibliography. The book was called The Dark City and was written by a gentleman named Edwin Peterson. The main reason she chose this particular book was because it was about the history of Cloverville. She didn't really know much about the town, except for the fact it was small and that a strange old man lived somewhere near. Elizabeth chuckled as she realized her overreaction to his stare. She was more than positive that the people around here weren't anything like city folk.
Anyway, the book was a welcomed read from the stacks of paper she had to read before work. She had already ready all of it except for the last couple paragraphs on the plane, but she was able to see what time she was to arrive on her first day. She was happy that it was going to be a short day. Only two hours was enough to have an orientation and a brief tour of the building. It didn't bother her that it was after five in the evening. It would give her plenty of time to get ready and fully prepare for the unexpected. What she wasn't thrilled about was her regular one to ten shifts. It was an odd schedule for a vice-president, but Elizabeth understood that there would be sacrifices made with such a high rank in the company.
Elizabeth veered her mind back to the book. Surely she didn't want to spend her entire night wondering why her hours were different. She didn't even want to think about work.
After arriving back home, she took a hot shower in her new bathroom then dressed herself for bed. With the plane ride to Cloverville, the extensive showing of the house, and her indecisiveness at the bookstore the day had already slipped by. She could finally feel the exhaustion in her body. After turning up the heat a bit Elizabeth went up the stairwell to her awaiting bedroom. The shaggy rug had a soothing, but tickling sensation against the bottom of her feet until she was able to crawl into the white sheets of her new bed. Her small figure immediately got lost and it wasn't hard for her to get comfortable at all. She then doubled up the many pillows on her bed to reinforce her back, smoothed over the covers and picked up the reading material that she had just purchased. It wasn't what she wanted to really read, but she disliked romance and the dark romance novels seemed too seductive. The cover text on the back proved that to be true. Elizabeth opened the book and turned the pages past the introduction and prologue then began to read the first chapter of The Dark City.
"Cloverville was too cold of a place to settle for most people. Too much snow and eight months of winter were just a bit too much, and it had always been a small town since the time it was settled. It was a place where men, women and their families went to get away from all the excitement of the gold rush. Most of the settlers had already mined all the gold they ever dreamed of and wanted a peaceful, unsettled location.
When they did come to Cloverville they found there had been only one family already living within its boundaries. For many years they lived in tranquility and never really aquatinted themselves with the family. Instead, they built shops, bars, hotels and many extravagant houses. Prosperity enveloped the land and everyone on it until some families began to notice strange things happening to their loved ones. A sickness had somehow struck the town and took the lives of its victims.
The mayor, who was also the sheriff, became known of the ailment plaguing the city and turned to the family that had settled Cloverville before them. The sheriff met with a man who was the father of three beautiful girls. The girls took of their sick grandfather, but none of them had any answers about the ailment taking over the town. It just so happened, the sheriff fell in love with one of the girls and right before they were to be married he was stricken with the same sickness that took so many of the settlers already.
It was Helen Cooper's diary that finally spoke out about the town after her death. Her parents had kept the diary in safekeeping and didn't dare get rid of anything that belonged to her. They were devastated because Helen was their only child to continue on their bloodline. After her parents passed on from old age a gentleman found the diary and read it. The book seemed to answer the questions of how death had taken so many, so he immediately took it to the new authority in town…"
Elizabeth was deep into the book and wondered if the mysterious illness still existed to this day. Did the man that stopped to look at her earlier have the illness, she questioned in her mind. The next part of the book was the most shocking and it made Elizabeth a skeptic of it genuineness. After all, fantasy was one of her best areas, but she departed with her thoughts in order to read more.
"…The family who was here before we arrived is becoming more frightening as the days and nights go by. I honestly do not think they are normal. The entire house is dead silent during the day, but as soon as the sun goes down it becomes alive. It would not surprise me if the grandfather keeps them prisoner in the house and they wait until he is asleep to do what they want. Yet, when I see them they look horribly ill. I went to see them on night in order to keep my sanity and I believe that the father tried to intrigue me into the house. I did not dare go into the house ever since our first sheriff died. Everyone knows that he was in perfect health before he entered the house.
I watch them every night and I have seen the father looking over at me in such strange ways. I dare not tell my mother or my father that I have felt a certain love for the man. However, his children are quite odd. One particular night while I was watching them on my balcony I saw the three women go outside and howl like wolves. The sound sent pins and needles up my spine. I did not tell anyone. I dare not for my reputation precedes me."
Elizabeth further read on eager to find out more. "A couple weeks later Helen was found dead. They found two marks on her skin that looked like a large dog had bit her. When the diary of Helen was shown to the public they knew that her death had something to do with the father and his girls. And it didn't take long before the settlers began to see more of these attacks. Soon they began calling them vampire attacks." Elizabeth laughed out loud. She couldn't believe what she was reading, but she kept on.
"People were afraid to let their children play past daybreak and they, themselves, did not want to chance it. The people that had fallen to the strange illness suddenly began appearing and it was even said that the dead sheriff came back to his post. When he had seen that another authority had taken his place the new sheriff was instantly killed. The only thing left of the man was a trail of blood leading into the saloon.
As for the father of the girls that was blamed for all the attacks, he continued to prey on many of the young women in Cloverville…" Now Elizabeth was wondering if the father was some sort of serial killer and taught his children to act alike. Not only that, but she couldn't find herself to believe anything that she was reading in the book. There were no such things as mysterious creatures that lurked throughout the night. The problem was that Elizabeth just couldn't put the book down because it did intrigue her imagination to the utmost.
"After many months of death within the town the settlers had finally came to their last nerve. They formed a small army of men and young boys to kill off the people that were murdering everyone. One of the men fathered a girl named Sarah Johnson, whom was also killed during the attacks, and wrote,
'Within the fire and the bloodshed I saw just about everyone that had died. I even saw my Sarah. At first I thought that she was a ghost, but when I saw her unnatural pale appearance and bloodstained bosom I knew she was one of them. The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was killing my own daughter.'
Eventually, the dead were reburied in their graves and the day would forever be known as the Cloverville Massacre. The girls that were the culprits behind the first attacks were also killed amongst the many, but the grandfather had simply vanished without a trace. The father was said to have committed suicide after locking himself inside his home. They found him in an upstairs room dead on his bed. They made a coffin for the man and placed him in the basement of his house then boarded it shut. After his death the settlers of Cloverville finally lived in peace."
When Elizabeth finally put the book down she noticed her hands were trembling. Come on, she said to herself. She knew deep down that the book was made up just so there would be more tourists in the town. How else would a small town like Cloverville prosper for so long? Elizabeth walked out onto her balcony in order to rid herself of the images the book had brought, and her mood quickly changed when a warm breeze caressed her face. She closed her eyes to enjoy the feeling then took a deep breath before opening them up again.
It was then she noticed movement at the corner of her eye. She didn't know why anyone would want to sneak around this late at night, but she was too tired to care. The last thought before Elizabeth fell asleep was why someone would make up such a foolish story of the town.