Author

Shadows Of Guta 400-419

Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 419) A Surprise

Slowly pushing the door open, Stephen enters the main room of Klara’s shop. He finds it to be very dark, much darker than his last visit, and he can barely see if the old woman is in the room. He then notices a slight sparkle of light reflecting in her eyes, much like a cat, as she stands near the edge of the counter and stares at him. Motionless, Stephen remains as still as possible as he attempts to see into the obscurity of his surrounds.

“Ahhh, the Guta knows you,” she says oddly as she backs away allowing him to enter the shop enough to shut the door. “You are as much a surprise to it as it is to you.”

Stephen does not know how to respond so he does nothing but watch for the old woman to direct him. He wishes to understand what is happening and to find answers for the many questions that have followed him through his lifetime. He worries that Zsofia and her family may now be targets because of their association with him. But why? Why him? Why does this horrendous creature want to cause pain to those he loves?

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 418) Swings Open

For some reason, the simplest things mean so much to Stephen when it is coming from Zsofia. Her tenderness gives him strength and a sense of self that he has never had before. Yet, he hesitates with this confession. They start to walk again but as soon as they approach the run of buildings that houses Klara’s shop, Stephen realizes it is now or never to tell his side of the story. Unfortunately, the door to Klara’s shop slowly swings open with a loud squeak.

Stopping, they both look at the opening and then each other. The gap of the door to the door frame is only a few inches wide and Stephen believes the wind must have nudged it open, for no one has stepped out. However, soon he hears a crackling dry voice from just inside the door.

“Come in, Istvan.” The old woman says. “I’ve been expecting you.”

A bit shocked in hearing these words, he looks at Zsofia to catch her reaction. At first, she too seems a bit worried but then simply smiles at him as if to say, “have fun.” Slowly she pulls away from his protective hold and acknowledges Klara.

“Good afternoon, Klara.” She says as she passes but no reply is given and with a quick glance back at Stephen, Zsofia continues on to the teahouse.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 417) Fortune-teller

For Stephen, it just now comes to mind that Zsofia must be unaware of the most recent events from last night. Laszlo came to the jail this morning and by the time the men made it home, Zsofia was already frantic about Tamas. Neither Stephen nor Laszlo had time to fill her in on his seemingly strange behavior and short incarceration. Stephen worries that he will not have a chance to explain the events before the police officer, who seems to have it out for him, will give her the recorded details.

“Listen,” Zsofia, says as they stop short of walking up to the first section of shops. “I just need an hour or so to make sure everything is running properly at the teahouse.” She reaches out and takes his hand. “You go do what you need to do and I will stop back by when I’m finished.”

Stephen looks into her eyes and that wonderful feeling of understanding sweeps across him again, just as it did when they were sitting under the round window at the manor before Kate arrived. Zsofia is sincere in her words and he has no reason to doubt it even if she is teasing him about visiting a fortune-teller.

He needs to tell her the situation, his heart rate is up as he tries to find a way to start. After all, how do you tell someone you see a creature that no one else, other than Tamas, can see? How do you explain the texture of its skin and the evil look in its eyes without sounding as if you hit your head too many times?

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 416) Forewarn

“Maybe I should go with you to the teahouse instead of stopping to bother the old eccentric woman.” Stephen says in a swift manner, his nervousness is growing worse.

“You can come to the shop, but if you do not speak with Klara, I believe you will always wonder what it is she knows.” Zsofia grins. “Who knows, she could be your long lost cousin.”

“Okay now you are just teasing me.” Stephen says as he tightens his arm around her body causing both of them to smile.

Unfortunately, Stephen feels he is already making a name for himself due to the bizarre events of the past few days. The last thing he needs is for the town’s people to associate him with some strange old woman, one who pours salt around her doors for protection from ghosts and goblins, and reads fortunes for a living. Yet, she did forewarn him as well as Zsofia, about impending events that actually did just take place.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 415) Kiss Me

“What is it?” Stephen questions half laughing as he waits for Zsofia, who is clearly angry, to reply.

“Don’t you ever say that!” She steps up to him in an intimidating way.

A slight gust of wind sweeps at her hair causing it to lap over her shoulder as she reaches up and touches his cheek. With just a few inches between them, they gaze into each other’s eyes and she leans in, barely touching his lips as she holds back a kiss.

“Kiss me.” She whispers as he responds to her demand.

Thin wisps of her hair brush against his cheek as they hold each other in the moment. The wonderful scent of her long tresses, tickle at his nose, awakening him to the lemon and berry fragrance he has grown to know. With her hands at his waist, holding tightly to his shirt, she pulls herself closer as his arms surround her in a powerful hold. The sun beats down on them and the warmth of their passion almost becomes too much and they both pull back to break the kiss.

Stephen looks into Zsofia’s eyes and the sweetness of her expression makes him smile as he puts his arm around her. Without words, they continue walking as he holds her close and she slips her arm around him at the waist. Rounding the corner the town begins to come into view and Stephen starts to feel nervous about confronting the old woman.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 414) Seen With Me

Stephen realizes Zsofia is piecing things together with the comparison to his great-uncle. He wonders if she has ever heard of the Guta but is unsure of how to approach the subject without offending her or worse, leaving her with the impression that he is insane.

“You do not have to walk me to town you know.” She shields her face from the bright sun.

“I want to.”  Stephen replies as he touches her arm then quickly adds, “I also want to speak with the old woman.”

“Klara?” She quizzes as she looks down at her feet to avoid the intense rays of sunshine glaring down on them.

“Yes, she acts like she knows a lot about our families and I need to find out what exactly it is she can tell me.” He says as he looks up at the treetops. “I think she knows details of what happened to my grandfather and great-uncle, possibly even your grandfather.”

“She is a bit eccentric and no one takes her seriously.” Zsofia says with a slight laugh. “Are you sure you want the town gossiping about you?”

“I’m sure they already are.” He replies and in an honest way, for he believes he has always been tagged as an outcast. “Are you sure you even what to be seen with me?”

Zsofia stops as Stephen takes three more steps then turns around to look at her. Her fists are clinched and the look on her face is of anger. She is just standing there, looking him in the eyes.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 413) Final Months

Not only does Stephen wish to spend time with Zsofia and guarantee she makes it into town okay, but he also wishes to speak with the old woman named Klara. He is fully prepared to demand she reveal all that she knows about him, his family, and the Guta. He knows from their last conversation that she is aware of many secrets when it comes to his family. He also believes there is something she is not telling him and before the day is through, he expects to gain knowledge of it.

The afternoon sun warms the now mellow breeze as Stephen and Zsofia nervously leave her grandfather and Tamas under the care of a nurse. It seems odd to Stephen to leave but he knows staying would not make any difference to the Guta. If that evil thing wants to kill, nothing can stop it. He feels it is more important to learn what Klara has to say, to see if she has any advice on the best actions to take, than to sit waiting for the next attack.

“I am worried about my grandfather.” Zsofia says as she looks down at her feet kicking up dust from the edge of the road.

“I can understand that.” Stephen replies for he knows the feeling all too well.

“There is something strange about it all, it’s too similar.” She continues.

“Similar. . . similar to what?” He questions.

“Your great-uncle, it is the same.” She looks at Stephen with worry. “It is exactly how his final months began.”

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 412) Theory

After the doctor arrives and tends to his patient and several hours have transpired, Laszlo Eszes is stable and in need of rest. He is now able to speak but in a light airy voice. To keep his strength up, he has been sipping on warm broth that Zsofia quickly prepared. The prognosis from the attending physician is that Laszlo suffered a mild stroke, which caused temporary paralysis. This is his way of explaining the loss of mobility and the pain the poor man was feeling.

To Stephen, it is simply the doctor’s way of explaining away what he cannot actually conclude as a medical condition. It is exactly as the men at the bar said, the cruel beatings from the Guta are relentless and those in the medical field have no other theory than to blame it on a stroke, heart attack, paralysis, or worse. . . natural death.

A nurse has arrived to assist Laszlo for the rest of the day and to help care for Tamas while Zsofia goes into town. Now that things have settled down and after Stephen has had a long talk with Tamas, he believes they will be safe, at least for now. After assuring Laszlo that he will escort Zsofia to her shop, the two of them leave the house and begin their walk down the country lane.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 411) Feeble

Zsofia walks in the opposite direction of where the beast ran to as Stephen steps around Laszlo and Tamas. He looks down the hall where the frightening Guta went and listens for any possible sounds coming from the rooms. Muffled in the distance he can hear Zsofia’s voice so he slowly begins walking down the hall. After several steps, he turns and looks back at Tamas who is staring at him, frightened and almost panicked. This reaction causes him to retreat from his search and return to the young man’s side.

“You and I can see it.” Stephen states in a low voice as he looks down at Tamas and the young man nods his head up and down. “Was this your friend? This is the one from the woods?” Again, Tamas nods yes but begins to weep.

Laszlo begins to cough as he tries to talk so Stephen sits down next to him. The old man is very frail and his hand is shaking violently as he tries to raise it but from exhaustion, he drops it back to the floor.

“Mr. Eszes, Zsofia is calling someone, we are going to get you some help.” Stephen says in a calm tone. “Just relax it’s going to be okay.”

The old man tries to lift his head but again the slightest movement is too much for him and this feeble attempt fails. Stepping back into the room, Zsofia brings a blanket to cover him along with a small pillow to support his head. Tamas backs away from his grandfather as his sister tucks the blanket around his feet and shoulders.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 410) Victims

“I need to notify the doctor, we need to get help for grandfather.” Zsofia states as she lifts Tamas’ head so he will look at her.

The young man’s eyes are pooling with tears and he refuses to release his grip on his grandfather’s shirtsleeve and hand. Tamas has fear in his eyes and Zsofia recognizes it immediately for she too is fearful of their grandfather’s condition. Leaning in, she kisses Tamas on his forehead as she attempts to assure him that everything will be fine.

“I am going to call the doctor, please stay with grandfather.” She requests of Stephen as she quietly stands up.

Stephen stands as well because he knows the monster escaped the room by running down the hall, but to where? Is it still in the house, will it target Zsofia next? He knows he cannot let that happen and even if this makes him appear as crazy as everyone thinks him to be, then that is the price he is willing to pay. In his mind, this torturous disarray has followed him and become a part of who he is. It could very well be the death of him as well, but it must end there without more victims.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 409) Grandfather

Sitting on the floor next to Stephen, Zsofia is watching as Tamas hugs their grandfather and sobs quietly. The house is quiet and time seems to be standing still. It is at this moment Stephen realizes Zsofia is silently weeping from what she just witnessed. Yet, he is unsure as to what exactly she did see.

“Zsofia. . . are you alright?” Stephen quizzes as he watches Tamas holding and rocking Laszlo. “I didn’t mean to startle you, I just. . .” He pauses for he does not know how to explain his behavior.

“I am okay, but grandfather. . . is he. . ?” She pauses as her focus goes to her grandfather and brother.

“I can see his chest moving, so he is breathing.” Stephen says as he helps Zsofia to a sitting position on the floor. “I’m sorry about. . . about pulling you down just now. I just, well I thought you were going to get hurt.”

She does not respond as she leans over and puts her arm around her brother who continues to hold his grandfather tightly. She takes the old man’s hand in hers and feels him squeeze her fingers tightly which is reassuring to her. Biting her bottom lip she tries to hold back tears as her mind races to make a decision on what to do next.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 408) Out Of Line

Stephen cannot fathom how horrible this must be for Tamas to have witnessed. This nasty horrible creature, who he thought of as a playmate, was here in his home attacking his grandfather, nearly killing him. He watched it and could do nothing to stop it. Stephen felt the exact same helplessness the night his own grandfather fell victim to such abuse but with Tamas and his childlike mind, this had to have been far worse.

Lying on the floor, with his arms and legs around Zsofia and her back pressed firmly to his chest, Stephen begins to loosen his hold on her. It all happened so fast and up to this point, she has not said a word.

“Stephen! What are you doing?” Zsofia yells as she wiggles free from his arms as if she cannot get away fast enough.

He knows how strange his actions must seem to her. The thought never crossed his mind at just how odd it would be to do what he did. Here she was, tending to her grandfather and then all of a sudden she finds herself pulled to the floor. Stephen knew he needed to pluck her away before the nasty being physically touched her and to him, this maneuver was necessary. However, to her it was rude, uncalled for, and completely out of line.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 407) The Sight

In Stephen’s panicked state, he now realizes Zsofia is the only real and true friend he has ever had. He cares more about her than any other person he has met and without any reservations, he bolts forward grabbing Zsofia, pulling her away before the creature gets any closer.

Remarkably, Tamas was making the same move but instead of targeting Zsofia, he ends up lying over his grandfather to protect him. Due to the quick and unexpected movements of Stephen and Tamas, the wicked beast scurries away much like a rat escaping the clutches of a hungry cat. It makes a dry scratching sound as its bare feet scuff on the wooden floor for traction. Tamas lunges forward trying to grab the skin stretched figure by the foot but is not successful.

It is now, after this sickening episode, that Stephen realizes he is not the only one cursed with the sight of such a creature. He now knows without any doubt, Tamas has the ability to see the Guta as well. Overwhelmed with mixed emotions, Stephen also understands this validates what he knows to be true. The monster from his childhood is real and not some figment of his imagination as so many doctors have told him. This realization terrifies him, yet relieves him just the same.

As Tamas turns, he looks at Stephen with sorrow in his eyes and lets out a soft whimpering sound of sadness. The young man hugs his grandfather, who is still flat on the floor facing up, drifting in and out of consciousness with his back against the cold hard wooden planked floor. The old man is mumbling but no true words are decipherable in his ramblings.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 406) Interruption

With her hand under her grandfather’s head for support, Zsofia begins talking to him as his eyes flutter in response, but he cannot keep them open and he does not utter a word. It is obvious Zsofia cannot hear the sounds from her grandfather’s tormentor as it sits across from her gurgling and sighing, as it grows impatient from this interruption.

Slowly the foul fiend tips its head to the side and focuses in Zsofia’s direction as if trying to look her in the eyes. It then glances to Stephen as a hideous curl rises on one side of its long thin dry mouth. Now bending down almost on all fours like a dog, its crooked features curved in odd abnormal directions, it focuses in on Zsofia. Lifting its right arm and extending its long bony fingers, it begins to reach out to touch her face.

The terror running through Stephen at this moment is beyond what he feels he can handle. Even so, he cannot bear to have anything happen to Zsofia. Flooding emotions consume him as he begins to panic.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 405) Mischief

Just as Stephen and Zsofia step past the line of trees next to her house, they hear a heart-wrenching shriek coming from within the building. Dropping her grip from Stephen’s hand, Zsofia runs to the door and rushes inside before Stephen has a chance to step in front of her.

Lying on the floor is her grandfather and sitting huddled near the wall in the corner is Tamas. Tears are streaking down his cheeks as he sits silently in helplessness while his grandfather suffers in grave pain.

“Tamas! What happened? Who did this?” Zsofia cries out just as Stephen steps into the room to see her immediately rush to her grandfather’s side.

“Zsofia no!” Stephen yells out for he can see what is sitting an arm’s length from her.

With emotionless black eyes, the creature glares down at Laszlo grinning at the work it has done. Stephen stands frozen in place as he stares at this malevolent monster for he fears the smallest movement may cause the beast to strike out again. The shadowy creature giggles like a little child full of mischief.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 404) Under Attack

Standing near the kitchen table, observing his grandfather as he tries to stand up, Tamas points his finger in the direction of the hallway. In an attempt to help, he takes a step in the old man’s direction but as soon as he reaches for his elder’s hand, another blow hits Laszlo in his side. Once again, the poor man grunts in pain as he falls under attack and doubles over in excruciating pain.

“No!” Tamas yells as tears flow down his cheeks while watching in horror at the beating of his grandfather.

Rolling over and trying desperately to stand, Laszlo pulls himself up by leaning against a chair that is sitting ajar from the table. He groans as he moves due to his bruised ribs and internal organs.

“Tamas,” Laszlo says as he looks around the room wearily. “Is it gone? Do you see it?” The old man whispers as he looks to his grandson for guidance. “Tell me where it is.”

With a double-fisted and powerful blow to Laszlo’s back, the creature from Stephen’s darkest nightmares hisses gleefully at the pain it is inflicting. This time the elder falls to his knees crying out much louder than before.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 403) Unseen

“Was that my grandfather yelling?” Zsofia pants as she and Stephen slow to a hurried walk.

“I don’t know.” Stephen states in a quick response.

He has not once let go of her hand and much like a bird, has been glancing from side to side in search of anything out of the ordinary that might be around them. He is especially looking for the cruel inhuman beast that he knows is out there lurking as it searches for its next victim. What he fears is that what they heard was exactly that, cries from a helpless soul under attack by a monster unseen.

Inside the house, Laszlo is thrown to the floor with such force it knocks the wind out of him. He gasps for air, begging to breathe, even though each breath builds to a painful stabbing pain.

“Tamas! Where is it?” Laszlo whispers in weakness.

The old man’s gray hair is sticking up in random spots from his scalp and a smear of dirt covers his left cheek. Lying on the floor are two buttons from his sweater and the right sleeve of his shirt has come loose at the seam. With a red face and frantic eyes, he watches where his grandson’s eyes are looking.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 402) Urgency

With his lips pressed to hers and her body against his, Stephen and Zsofia begin to get lost in the moment. It is obvious the feelings Zsofia has for Stephen are powerful and in complete unison with his. For Stephen, life up until this moment has been dark and lonely as if wandering aimlessly alone, never to find where he belongs. Right now, here with Zsofia, he feels whole.

Off in the distance, in the direction of Zsofia’s home, is a scream of agony, which crashes this moment of awakening into a nightmare.

“What was that?” Zsofia says as she pulls away to look in the direction of the woods.

She and Stephen stand still, listening. Just as she turns to look at Stephen another shrill cry of pain drifts in on the wind from the opposite side of the forest.

“That sounds like grandfather,” Zsofia says as she and Stephen look at one another.

“Come on!” Stephen says with urgency as he grabs her hand and they begin running down the path.

Even though the wooded path is well traveled and maintained by Laszlo, many low hanging branches and undergrowth shrubs grab at them as they rush by. The treetops are blowing wildly in the windy conditions and they have not heard any other cries for help.

Stephen is not sure if this is due to his and Zsofia’s noisy and hurried dash through the woods, or if whomever it is no longer has a breath to breathe. He can tell Zsofia is growing tired from this sprint and he slows his pace to allow her to catch her breath.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 401) With Time

“I’m so sorry, Zsofia.” Stephen says as he stops and looks at her.

“For what?” She questions as she turns to face him.

“For not remembering you all these years and for not realizing until it was too late that what happened with Kate the other day, with her insulting demeanor, hurt you. Most of all for getting close enough to put you in harm’s way.” He affirms.

“What do you mean harm’s way?” She questions. “Tamas is missing but not because of you, but because he wandered away.”

“But he always comes here where. . . where something sinister hides.” Stephen replies as he looks at the building of his ancestors but Zsofia grins.

“I have been coming here and cleaning for years, Stephen. That was of my own doing and I never felt threatened or frightened, until your great-uncle passed. After that, it did seem colder here.” She pauses and looks toward the woods that fill in the space all the way around the building. “But then you arrived and. . .” she smiles in a shy way, “and the warmth returned in an even more compelling way.” Slowly she leans in, lifting up on her toes as she kisses Stephen softly.

Pulling her close he holds her in his arms tightly as if shielding her from the mysteries around them. Never before has he wanted so badly to protect someone, care for and love, until he met Zsofia. Her comforting nature and understanding of him is unlike any other relationship he has had. There is a bond between them that he cannot explain and one he hopes will only grow stronger with time.

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Shadows Of Guta (Excerpt 400) Hidden Secrets

Together, Stephen and Zsofia exit the manor and Stephen double checks the door making sure it is locked and secure before stepping away. As they walk out from under the shelter of the entryway, he looks up at the stone building with its many windows and tries to focus on the good things about it instead of the mysteries it contains. What are the hidden secrets its walls are holding, and who can save him from the demon that taunts him?

“We should keep searching, lets at least walk the perimeter of the manor before we go.” Zsofia says as she holds onto Stephen’s forearm.

They go to the right, which is the northwest corner of the building before turning, heading east along the massive wall of stone and windows. Stephen looks up, amazed at how large the structure is as he peers at the reflections the glass windows collect of the outside world. They continue walking in a contented silence until they make it all the way around the huge dwelling and back to the front path.

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