“Mr. Barry! What in God’s name are you doin’? You lost your mind?”
Barry ignored the angry housekeeper and continued to pillage the pantry shelves.
“Did you buy all of this stuff Dory?” He tossed bags, boxes, and cans onto the kitchen table, searching for what he didn’t know, but his rolling gut told him the answer to his current problems could be found in his kitchen cupboards.
“’Course I did.” Dory pushed him aside and began to reorganize the cabinet. “Who else you think gonna shop for you?”
Barry leaned against the counter and watched as she restocked the shelves. He drew deep breaths and tried to calm the erratic beat of his heart. Slowly, realization sunk in; he’d over reacted. He shook his head and mentally berated himself for being a fool. He was a lawyer. Logic was his stock in trade and he should have known better. It had been the power of suggestion, planted no doubt, by Dory’s continued superstitious rantings.
The thread of his logic should have made Barry feel better but his pulse accelerated, accompanied by a cold, clammy sweat. He shook his head and forced himself to move toward the water cooler. Surely it was just the humid Savannah weather, perhaps even a touch of heat exhaustion.
He drained a glass and bent to fill it again when Dory’s mutterings penetrated his conscious.
“Now where’d this come from? He must a switched brands without tellin’ me.”
Barry glanced over to see the old woman staring at a half full bag of coffee; a bag labeled with a brand he’d never heard of. The glass slipped from his nerveless fingers and shattered on the tile floor.
“Boy! You make more work for these old bones…” Clucking her dismay, Dory waddled over and then gasped. “Honey? You don’t look so good.” Soft hands patted his cheeks and then pushed him onto a chair. “Sit on down here and rest a spell. All the color done went from your face.”
A fine tremor began to rack his body. He stared at the foil bag and forced himself to speak. “Dory, where’d that coffee come from?”
Dory paused from picking up shards of glass. She scratched her close cropped grey curls and shrugged. A frown puckered her chubby face. “Where’d it… Why I don’t know, I just now found it in the cupboard. Didn’t you buy it?”
Barry gulped and shook his head. “I didn’t. Have you used any?”
Dory blinked. “Well, there’s only a half a bag left so I must have.”
“You don’t know? Come on, think! Did you make me coffee from that bag?” He bit his lip, fighting the panic threatening to engulf him.
Dory grunted and rose to her feet. She glared at him and made her way to the waste basket. Only after depositing the broken glass and washing her hands did she reply. “I ain’t gonna swear that I did and I ain’t gonna swear that I didn’t.” She held up her hand to stop him from speaking. “Every mornin’ I make your coffee and I get it from that fancy canister you swear keeps it fresh.” She snorted. “Now, I don’t know what kind of coffee you got in there but I can tell ya it’s been full every morning when I gets here.” She slid the white china container closer to her and unscrewed the lid. “You tryin’ to tell me you ain’t been fillin’ this thing up every night?”
Barry shook his head, unable to form words through his constricted throat. Spots formed in front of his eyes and his heart slammed in his chest. Part of his mind screamed implausible explanations better suited to folklore. His rational side struggled to maintain calm, pronouncing the ridiculous ideas mere conjecture, unsubstantiated by any facts in evidence.
Superstition won. He lurched from his chair and swiped the china canister to the floor, watching with satisfaction as it fractured into dozens of pieces before darkness engulfed him.
Murmured words, spoken in hushed tones, roused Barry from a dreamless, heavy sleep. He fought to remember how he’d gotten into bed while also straining to hear the conversation taking place outside his bedroom door.
“Can’t thank you enough for comin’ so quick like, Doc. He been actin’ crazy and then when he fell out … I was that worried, I tell you.”
“Think nothing of it, Dory; it’s my pleasure to serve those in need and especially such a long standing customer as you.”
“You think it could a been put in the coffee? I don’t know much about these women, uh, things, but it sure is suspicious –“
“I agree. The coffee could have been used to weaken him, in preparation for a final attack. I’ve seen instances where food, even shampoo has been used to such affect.”
“Merciful Heavens, what’s it want with Mr. Barry?”
“Revenge, most likely. Whether an imagined or actual slight; it matters not to them.”
Barry frowned and threw back the covers. Who the hell was Dory talking to?
He stood and then swayed as a wave of dizziness overtook him. The reading lamp fell to the floor as he tried to steady himself, bringing Dory and a strange man into his room.
“Mr. Barry! What you doin’ out of bed?” He made no protest as she shoved him back onto the mattress. “You need to rest.”
“Who are you?” Barry ignored Dory’s ministrations and stared at the tall black man standing behind her.
A broad smile creased the man’s face. “I’m Doc Turtle, Mr. Loomis. Miss Dory thought you might be in need of my services.”
Barry waved Dory away. “What did you say?” He grabbed Dory’s arm and shook it. “I thought I told you to stop with the damn curse nonsense?”
“Oh Mr. Barry, you’re a hurtin’…”
“That is quite enough, Mr. Loomis!”
Startled by the force of the conjurer’s voice, Barry released Dory. He stared at the man, mesmerized by his dark eyed gaze. Unable to break eye contact and overcome by a sudden weakness in his muscles, Barry sank back against the pillows.
“Good. That’s it. Just relax Mr. Loomis, while I tell you a tale.”
Barry watched as Doc Turtle slowly paced the room.
“Mr. Loomis, do you know what a hag is?”
Barry rolled his eyes.
Doc Turtle smiled. “Ah, and you don’t care to know, is that right?”
Weary, Barry merely nodded.
A hoarse laugh echoed around the room. “I thought as much. I should leave you to your own narrow minded fate.“
“Don’t do many any favors, ass...”
A cry from Dory drew both men’s attention.
Doc Turtle smiled. “Don’t worry Miss Dory, for you I will try to convince this stubborn fool.”
Barry pointed at the door. “You need to get the hell out of my house!”
“Are you waking from a full night’s sleep weak and exhausted? Are your sheets soaking wet? Is your window cracked when you know you had it shut?”
Barry’s jaw dropped at the root doctor’s words. How had he known? He’d never told anyone …
“Ah, the answer is in your face, Mr. Loomis. What I’ve just described is the work of a slip-skin hag; she is riding you. Sucking your energy and essence away. If not stopped, you will die.” His eyes narrowed. “You are also experiencing dreams of sexual encounters and … finding fulfillment, are you not?”
Barry shook himself and straightened against the pillows. “That’s enough.” He struggled to his feet and pointed to the door. “Bunch of superstitious nonsense. I want you to leave, now.”
Doc Turtle shrugged and stooped to grasp the handle of a black leather satchel before turning to Dory. “I’m sorry Miss Dory, I tried. Will you see me to the door?”
Sniffling and wiping back tears, Dory led the root doctor from the room.
Barry sighed and started to ease back into bed but the dulcet voice of Doc Turtle stopped him. Despite himself, Barry crept down the hall.
“Oh Doc, I’m that sorry he wouldn’t listen an I’m shamed that he showed you such disrespect.”
“No worries, Dory. You knew it was a long shot. Take comfort in the fact that you tried.”
Barry inched closer and peered around the corner in time to see Doc Turtle pull several items out of his bag.
“I’m going to leave these with you. If he comes to his senses, and only if he does, he can sprinkle this salt around his bed. Without her skin, the hag’s form is akin to raw meat and crossing the salt, well, it might not stop her but it will certainly inflict pain. This is broom straw. He’ll hang these over his bed along with a colander. The bundle of straw and the holes in the colander will distract her as hags are unable to resist the urge to count such things.”
Barry stifled a laugh. What lunacy. It was better than fiction! He crept back to his bed, Doc Turtle’s final words trailing after him.
“Mr. Loomis must take these precautions of his own free will. Without his belief in them, they are powerless.”
Barry’s eyes flew open as warmth enveloped his raging hard-on. A thin line of moonlight filtering through the mini blinds cast deep shadows around his bedroom. He looked down and watched in horrified amazement as one long shadow crawled up his body, casting first his groin and then his chest into total darkness.
A heavy weight descended onto his chest as heat and wetness closed around his engorged flesh. His lungs began to burn from lack of air. Intense pleasure warred with rising panic. He tried to move, to both thrust his hips and dislodge the weight, but his body refused to cooperate with his brain’s commands.
His balls tightened. The urge to relax and find release warred with his need to breath. A triumphant laugh rang out as he shuddered and surrendered to waves of pleasure.
Warm air tickled his ear. A breathy voice whispered, ‘Paid in full’.
The weight eased. His body went limp as a veil of darkness descended.
Barry jumped as an unearthly shriek filled his room. He groaned. After a restless night plagued by violent nightmares all he wanted to do was sink into the void and sleep forever but the sobbing and wailing bouncing off the walls of his room said that wasn’t going to be possible.
He opened his eyes. Dory stood beside his bed wringing her hands. Tears streaked down her wrinkled cheeks as sobs wracked her body. He strained to comprehend her garbled words.
“Oh Mr. Barry …, oh merciful heavens.” She hiccupped and swiped at her tears. “Why you gotta go and be so stubborn? Oh …”
Barry frowned. What the hell was wrong with her?
He opened his mouth to demand an explanation but the words died on his tongue as his gaze fell upon the bed.
“No, it can’t be! No! It was just a dream!”
Screams of denial reverberated in his head as Barry rose through the ceiling, the emaciated cluster of bones and saggy skin sprawled across his bed growing smaller as he drifted into oblivion.
I hope you enjoyed The Hag That Rides You! I'll be back with Fall To Pieces, another twisted tale from steamy Savannah, August 8th.
If you missed any of our previous posts and would like to catch up, you can purchase the Digital Digest Anthology Volume I as an ebook for only $.99.
Suspense … Southern Style!
Copyright © 2011 Rachel Lynne
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.