“Just Like Us”Chapter 20
“Herbert…” Aaron shook him. “Herbert, wake up!”
Mr. Dolor stood next to the boys, listening to the approaching sirens. He looked down at his attire, checked his clean image in the mirror, and opened the bedroom door. He looked at Aaron on the ground. “If you leave this room,” he said. “It will be the last thing you ever do.”
He closed the door behind him, and the latch clicked from the outside. Aaron sat quietly and afraid in the middle of the bedroom.
Mr. Dolor sped down the steps to the front door as a knock rapped. He flung the door open to see two police officers, Mrs. Dolor, Marian and Esther. The girls were soaking wet.
Mr. Dolor pushed past the officers and Mrs. Dolor and dropped to his knees to hug the girls. “Oh, sweethearts!” He shouted. “I’m so glad you both are okay!” He buried his face in their arms and moaned.
Marian and Esther grinned and hugged him back. They didn’t know about anything yet, and thought he was free of the spell. Mrs. Dolor bent down to take his hand and embrace him.
“Honey?” She said.
Mr. Dolor shot up violently when she touched his shoulder. “What were you thinking taking them out in the storm in the middle of the night like that?!” He shouted. Then he looked at the officers and blinked rapidly. “I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I’m sorry, I’m just so frustrated. What story did she tell you now? She’s already been lying to family and friends for days.”
“What?!” Mrs. Dolor was stunned.
The girls held his hands, but they felt cold. Something was wrong with Mr. Dolor.
“Uh, maybe we should go inside,” the deputy said. “Mr. Dolor, is everything okay with your home tonight?”
“Yes, come in,” he replied. He moved out of the way and let the officers enter the house. The lights were on, and everything was in its place. One officer stood near the family while the other wandered into the kitchen and peeked down the hallway. “And no—,” Mr. Dolor continued. “To answer your question, everything is not okay. I discovered my wife had taken my daughters out into the middle of the rain and storm this morning. I’ve been calling friends and neighbors for the last hour.”
“That’s not true at all!” Mrs. Dolor shouted. “It’s just as I said: my husband’s boss has been staying with us for the last few nights and gave something to us at dinner. There were monsters and—creatures…evil things.” Mrs. Dolor looked around the house at the normalcy of all their furniture, pictures, and unpacked boxes. The chairs were in their right places. The floor swept. The rug on the couch in the proper drape. She knew from the look on the officer’s face he wasn’t believing anything she said.
The officer turned to Mr. Dolor. “Mrs. Dolor was concerned about you,” he said. “Someone found her screaming and running down the street in the rain with your daughters, saying you, your son and his friend needed help.” Mr. Dolor shook his head and rolled his eyes at the ceiling. He sighed, exasperated.
“I can’t believe this,” Mr. Dolor’s voice cracked. “I can’t believe this is happening to us.”
“Is everything alright, Mr. Dolor?” The officer asked.
“Can we please speak privately?” Mr. Dolor asked.
The two men stepped aside into the living-room, leaving Mrs. Dolor and the girls alone at the kitchen table.
“What is going on?” Esther whispered.
“I don’t know,” Marian replied. “Something is wrong with Dad.”
“Do you think the Professor is still here?”
“Everything seems fine now,” Marian said. “But Dad doesn’t seem right.”
“Mom, what do you think?”
Mrs. Dolor stared catatonic at the floor. Her jaw flexed, and a tear dripped down her cheek. “I need to find Herbert,” she whispered. She sniffed a tear up and looked at the girls. “Maybe it was all a dream.”
“What?” Esther asked, shocked. “No—Mom, you saw what we saw.”
“But stuff like that doesn’t happen,” she sighed. “It just—it just doesn’t make sense.”
“We got into a fight at dinnertime,” Mr. Dolor explained. He and the officers stood in the living-room next to the bookshelf, the raven perched on early that evening.
“It upset the kids,” he continued. “I said some things I shouldn’t have. But my wife—I hate to say it—it breaks my heart. She’s been struggling with our move to St. Augustine. Putting wild stories in the kids’ heads about my boss and new job. Drinking wine in the evening more than usual. I’m thinking of getting her some help. But—” Mr. Dolor’s bottom lip quivered. “God, it’s so painful to admit.”
“When did you find out your wife and daughters were missing?”
Mr. Dolor wiped a tear away. “Only an hour ago.” His eyes raced around the ceiling, trying to hold back more tears. “I called around to some people I work with. But I don’t—I don’t know many people around town, yet.” His Adam’s Apple shook up and down. “I didn’t want to resort to calling the police. I—I know I should have done it sooner. I just—I just didn’t want to believe it gotten that bad.”
“Where’s your boy now, Mr. Dolor?” The officer asked.
“Asleep upstairs, with his friend spending the night,” Mr. Dolor replied.
The officer looked around the living-room, studying every portion of the couch, fireplace, television, bookshelf. “Mr. Dolor, I suggest you call someone for some counseling for you and your wife. There is help the two of you can get, and someone may be able to help with the delusions.”
“Thank you, sir,” Mr. Dolor nodded. “I’ll call around first thing in the morning.” He chuckled. “Well, I guess that’s now, isn’t it?”
“Your daughters were very convinced this house was haunted,” the officer said. “They may need some someone to talk to, as well. At their age, seeing a parent go through erratic behavior can affect them greatly.”
“God, I hope they are okay,” Mr. Dolor replied.
The three men returned to Mrs. Dolor and the girls at the kitchen table. The girls could tell whatever Mr. Dolor told them was not good.
“Mrs. Dolor,” the deputy addressed her, “your husband is going to being looking for some ways to get you some help. Someone to talk to so you can find out what happened last night that made you run outside in the storm.”
The girls looked at their mother. She remained motionless, but tears filled her eyes.
“Do you understand taking your daughters out in the middle of a storm like that was very dangerous?” The officer asked.
Mrs. Dolor stared at the tabletop.
The officer waited for a response and turned his attention to the girls when she refused to answer. “Girls,” he said, “your mother is going to be okay. She needs some rest, and I bet both of you do, too. Your dad is going to take care of you.”
“I don’t understand,” Marian glared at the officer. Esther remained silent.
“Thank you, officer,” Mr. Dolor said, “for bringing my family home safe.” Mr. Dolor walked the deputies to the front door, and they exited. Marian heard them step down the front steps saying something about how ridiculous this one was, and the other, chuckling, “monsters and vampires”.
“What is going on?” Marian asked as the front door closed.
“It’ll be okay,” Esther said to herself. “As long as we just stick together.”
“No, that’s not going to happen.” Mr. Dolor turned to face them, and his demeanor changed drastically. He stood straight and narrow, like a pillar, barely breathing or moving. “Mrs. Dolor serves no purpose for Mr. Dauer’s endgame. However, the act of her disposal may slow my other actions down. Therefore, I’ll simply be taking Herbert away. As I know, the artifact isn’t anywhere in the house, it must be somewhere locked away in his memories.”
“What are you saying?” Mrs. Dolor looked up from her daze and met Mr. Dolor’s eyes. Her heart lifted into her throat and she had trouble breathing.
“I’m saying I don’t love you any longer,” Mr. Dolor replied, harshly. “And perhaps, never loved you.”
“How could you say that?” Mrs. Dolor whispered.
A tear fell down Esther’s cheek.
“This is unacceptable!” Marian shouted.
“You aren’t fit to mother our children,” Mr. Dolor declared. “What with your delusions and raving lunacy. Nor are you capable of being my wife any longer. The only child I need or care about is the boy. Therefore, take the girls and the house. Herbert and I will be gone by this evening.”