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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 15) Emptiness

Quickly popping one of the small round pills in his mouth, Stephen swallows it dry. Stepping back, he glances down the hall to see that the candle has now burned out as the last puff of smoke flows upward and dissipates into the air.

The group of visitors tonight brought trays and bowls of food as is the usual protocol with most funerals. They did a good job of wrapping and storing the leftovers in the kitchen but several empty glasses and napkins are still sitting on the tables and mantel of the fireplace of the sitting area.

Finally moving from the spot in the room where his great-aunt left him, Stephen gathers the items and takes them to the kitchen. There is an intense quietness in the house, stillness, a surreal feeling of emptiness and it chills the damp air around him.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 14) He Fumbles

Holding his eyes closed tight, Stephen huddled down on the floor with his head buried in his arms as he tried to block this horrific event out. His grandmother began screaming and the laughter of the creature simply became too much as he yelled out in an attempt to overpower the volume. That was the last thing he remembered before blacking out.

Standing there now, in the same house where his grandfather died in a most disturbing way, Stephen’s anxiety level is at an extreme high. The rooms are dark and the dwelling quiet as he fumbles around in the pocket of his jacket.

Nervously, he pulls a small plastic bottle out of his pocket and due to his shaking hands, the pills are rattling around in the container. A quick chill creeps up his spine for this sound is very reminiscent of the gurgling breath emitted by the beast responsible for his grandfather’s demise.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 13) Quietly Seated

Stephen’s grandfather was gasping and screaming out in pain as this thing continued to attack without any concern to the group that has now gathered in the room. It was hopping around on the bed as if this were a child’s game. Stephens grandmother stood horrified with her hand covering her mouth as she looked from her husband to Stephen and back again.

Suddenly, after one final blow, his grandfather fell back on the bed, lifeless, no longer yelling out, no longer in pain, and no longer alive. As Stephen watched in horror, his father began CPR on the older man and the beast, now quietly seated on the bed, turned and looked Stephen in the eye. The most hideous evil smile Stephen had ever seen came across the monster’s bony distorted face.

Wrinkles and lines cut deep into its leathery skin and around its dark lifeless deep-set eyes. Its deformed arms and legs, bent up around its thin almost skeletal torso as it wiggled each finger on its oversized hands. The grin turned into a giggle and then laughter so loud Stephen had to cover his ears.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 12) Stood Witness

“No!” Stephen screamed as this creature continued to bludgeon the old man repeatedly with each blow harder than the last.

It jumped up in a standing position on the bed and laughed hysterically as it hammered down again on his grandfather’s now frail body. This thing was grinning and giggling with glee as it forced its hands downward.

Stephen’s father ran into the room practically jumping onto the evil beast but that is when young Stephen realized his father did not see it. He was not pulling the monster away or blocking its punches as it kept hitting the same spot on his grandfather’s chest over and over again.

Stephen recalls crying and pointing as he tried to explain what it is that he could see but as family members began congregating about the bed, it was clear that only he stood witness to what was truly happening.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 11) Chuckled

“Grandfather?” The young Stephen questioned as he stood in the doorway.

The elderly man stirred from the sound of his grandson’s voice and opened his eyes. He then turned and looked at Stephen with a loving smile. The creature on the bed chuckled as if finding this exchange to be funny as it pointed a long thin finger at the elder man.

The beast then glanced in Stephen’s direction as if looking to see if the young boy was laughing as well. What happened next is the most appalling part for the monster eased both of its arms high above its head, holding this position for several seconds as if waiting for a cue to move.

Suddenly, with great power, it thrusts its fists down on the old man with such force it jolted him nearly to a sitting position. A look of shock and terror crossed his grandfather’s face as the second blow from this beast hit him.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 10) This Thing

Stephen adored his grandfather dearly and he eagerly ran down the hallway but remembering what his father told him, he made sure he stopped just short of the door. He knew he should avoid frightening the man by bursting into the room so he hesitated before continuing.

As he slowly pushed the door open, he was stunned at what he saw. There on the bed, sitting hunched over and crooked next to his sleeping grandfather sat an old woman, or was it a man? Stephen could not tell and the longer he watched this creature the more he questioned if it was even human.

With its reddish tinted skin pulled tight around its pointy bones, this thing, whatever it was, did not seem to be bothered by Stephen’s watchful eye. It sat very still, almost statue like with arms crossed.  Gradually it bent over breathing in his grandfather’s face as it made a wheezing sound that started with a gurgle deep in its throat as if it were full of water.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 9) For A Rest

Just two days before their scheduled trip for home, Stephen’s grandfather suffered a massive heart attack. The family extended their stay until he was safely back at home and feeling better, but that very last night at his grandfather’s house was when it all went awry. Everyone had been there, just like tonight, attending a family and friends type of meeting to send Stephen and his parents off on a good note. They were also there to show Stephen’s grandfather support for a swift recovery from his recent bout of ill-health.

It was a nice evening of conversing and eating but very tiring as well. Stephen’s grandfather stood up from his chair near the fireplace, asked everyone to excuse him, and then made his way down the hall to the bedroom for a rest. The elderly man had been away from the others for almost two hours when the time had come for Stephen and his parents to say their goodbyes.

“It is about time for us to leave for the airport.” Stephen recalls his father saying. “Quietly, go down the hall and wake your grandfather so we can tell him goodbye. We will join you in a minute.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 8) Small Lamp

Gradually, Stephen turns and looks down the shadowy corridor at the dim light of the candle that is still burning and permeating the air with the scent of roses. He remembers his grandfather, who he felt such a connection to, lying there in the bed with only a small lamp lighting the room.

His grandfather seemed relaxed and calm that day as his health was on the mend. Even though there was much improvement, he did not want to overdo it and decided to lie down for a few minutes and rest. Stephen wonders, is this how his great-uncle passed? Was it in the same manner as his grandfather? These questions keep running through his mind repeatedly, as if this thought is a wheel stuck in a groove.

Stephen, with his father and mother, had come here for a visit several days prior. He recalls it was a thrilling week of sightseeing, visiting, and of devouring the most wonderfully delicious meal’s he ever tasted in his life. This is one of the vague memories Stephen has of his grandmother, that she was a fantastic cook. He recalls her being a very quite person, always off to the side watching, and she did not interact with the family much. In fact, his memories of her are almost nonexistent.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 7) One Moment

“I appreciate the offer to stay with you,” replies Stephen as he gives his great-aunt a hug. “I’ll give it a try here though, and if I can’t get the furnace going or the fire in the fireplace goes out, I may come running in your direction.” He grins.

His comment makes her laugh and with one last nod of understanding, she taps his cheek with her fingers. Stephen opens the door and the kind woman leaves him alone in the quiet house.

As the door swings shut, it is as if the house seals itself. A deafening silence pounds in Stephen’s ears as he continues to stand in the same spot without moving and almost without breathing. He thinks about the people who were just here, strangers to him, yet family on his father’s side.

He grew up in the United States and until today, had only been here in Hungary once and that one time changed his life forever. That one moment, in that dark room down the hall, in this very house, made his life hell.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 6) Remaining Heir

“Your great-uncle was a good man, you know that?” States the elderly woman, as she looks Stephen in the eye. “He had a good heart, just not a very strong one.” She looks down as she makes this reference to the heart attack that finally killed him. “He was a troubled man these past few weeks and endured much pain with his illness. It came on so fast, much like your grandfather’s illness, but we are getting older you know and when the time comes, it just comes.” She smiles but Stephen cannot get past what his great-aunt just said, “It came on so fast, much like your grandfather’s illness.”

“You are the only remaining heir. I found my way into the family by marriage, so I have no connection to it. Let’s not mention I am also too old to take on something new as well.” She grins as she looks up at the ceiling and walls. “It will take a lot of work to do what you hope to do with the manor and this gatehouse, but I believe you will get there.” She smiles as she holds firmly to his hand. “The open offer stands if you change your mind and decide this place is to dark for your enjoyment.” She gently kisses him on the cheek.

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