It Creeps Up On You

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Co-authored with Carol Weekes


HE SLOWED the car along Parson's Road to view his old house from across the street. The last occupants had left the place back in 1976, and from what he'd heard, in a hurry, too. Some said it had been due to bankruptcy, another said divorce, but John Ingram knew better. Something had driven the last family out, and he thought he could understand what. When he'd lived in this house at 24 Parson's Road as a child, everything had been normal-until one fateful night many years ago.

It had everything to do with the comic book he held in his hand. He tapped it against one leg, hating it, afraid of it, but also relieved to have found it. It wasn't the same book his brother Martin had bought back in 1975, but it was a continuation of the toxin, an unusual and frightening kind of poison that had begun to ruin his life two decades earlier.

He crossed the road towards the house. Dead leaves crunched under his feet. He watched the windows for any sign of movement. His lips pressed into a tight line and he regarded the house, swearing he was finally going to see this through to the end.

*

It began again when he stopped into a pawn shop to purchase a small mantel clock for his apartment. The shop was built back at the turn of the century with small, paned windows peering into a dim interior. He'd picked up the clock and was on his way back to the cash register when he spotted the comic.

His heart gave a jolt. Adrenaline, as sour as old garlic, slammed into his stomach. He gripped the clock to his chest, feeling his fingertips tingle.

Authentic Horror Comics.

It sat atop a column of newer comics, its faded color seeped into the cover, letters carved in streaked, bloody red.

"It's an oldie," the proprietor said. "Not as old as some of the EC's I've had, or Marvel, and Dell. I've even had originals with young Bradbury's tales, but they went fast."

"Huh?" John snapped back into reality. "Where did you get this?" Needles of white light played across his vision.

"Woman brought it in, three, maybe four months ago. I had it in the back with a pile of old books."

"When did you put it out?"

The old man regarded him. "This morning. Why? I take it you don't like the old horror comics? Everything today is robo-this or tech-that. What happened to things like good old ghosts?"

They go into hiding until the right person comes along, John thought, feeling a little sick. He shuddered and pulled out his wallet. "How much do you want for it, and the clock?"

The proprietor grinned. "Can't resist in the end, eh? There's nothing like being a kid curling up in bed with one of these things and a flashlight. Give me a dollar-fifty for the comic. The clock will be fifteen, plus tax. That comic...I haven't seen no others like it. Not by this publisher."

"I have," John whispered. "Back in '75."

"No kidding?" The proprietor wrapped the clock and secured the package with hemp cord. He handed it, and the comic, to John. For a second John thought he felt the comic tremble beneath his fingers, a whisper of pulse moving through yellowed pages reeking of dead, faded ink, moths, time. The date in the top right corner read: October 96: featuring Phantastical Fiction and Grueling Art by up and coming names in the business. He allowed his eyes to trace the cover and noted a man digging into a moon-washed grave, his face slashed in black and green shadow, his eyes livid and his mouth stretched into a leer. Below the illustration sat the words Continuing with the tale IT CREEPS UP ON YOU: Part B.

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