Read The Lynnie Russell Trilogy Online

Authors: R. M. Gilmore

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mythology & Folk Tales, #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Fairy Tales

The Lynnie Russell Trilogy (9 page)

BOOK: The Lynnie Russell Trilogy
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“Lynnie, get up off that floor. Ain’t no reason to be on your knees here, ‘less you’re prayin’. You prayin’?”

 

I made my head look up at my nana up over the top of me. I couldn’t talk so I just shook my head.

 

“Didn’t think so. Stand up now and go put yourself on the couch. I can’t shut the door with you sittin’ in the way here.”

 

I did like she said and moved to the couch.

 

“Now, where you been? Why’s Garret callin’ here fussin’ ‘bout you takin’ off? I liked to come out there myself if he’d not said to stay put. You’re lucky he didn’t call on your mama.”

 

“Where’s mama?” It was the only thing I could think of to say. She never came to the hospital, she didn’t even call. I figured she was out while daddy was gone on a haul. My mama was a good woman, but without a man around to keep her still she’d flitter off like a butterfly.

 

“Garret didn’t want to get her upset. You know how she can be.” Nana came to sit by me on the couch. She took my hand and patted the back of it.

 

She could run out on my daddy, she could be gone for days, but if she knew one of her babies was hurt she’d come running like a mama bear. Garret knew she would’ve come and scooped me up and dragged me back home. I knew it too. She never wanted me to leave home. Especially not leaving home without a husband to take care of me.

 

“Nanny, I’m in trouble.” I said finally laying my head on her big chest.

 

“What kind of trouble darlin’?” She ran her fingers through my hair. All those rings ran through it without a snag like always. When I was a kid I thought it was magic that those rings never caught in my hair.

 

My heart was pounding damn near out of my chest, but I didn’t cry. I refused to cry. “Heaps and heaps,” I said through a shaking bottom lip.

 

“You ain’t seen the start of trouble yet girl.”  Her hand patted my head a few times.

 

“What?”

 

“Carolynn Russell, you better keep your soul about you baby. Gods on your side, but you got a long row to hoe and it ain’t goin’ to be easy.”

 

I picked my head up from her chest. “How? What?” I was so confused. I held my breath to keep the tears from coming out.

 

“I been waitin’ on this. I knew the day you was born you was goin’ become something special. Something different. Something most folk wouldn’t understand. It’d been too long. I knew your brother wasn’t right for it, but you had the soul for it.” She nodded her head once to show she meant what she said.

 

“Had the soul for what? What the hell am I? And how do you know?” The clarity I had in the woods was gone and thoughts and worry came pouring back in.

 

“You watch that mouth,” she said. “You’re something ancient, something been ‘round since man was throwing rocks at the moon.”

 

“How do you know?” I was lost. I’d never in my life thought my nana would know about some green beast that ate folks in the woods.

 

“Rusty came, told me last night. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone ‘round here became that…beast. It’s been damn near sixty years since the last one.” She wasn’t looking at me anymore. She was staring down at her hands. “How was he? Was he still as beautiful as I remember him?”

 

“Who? Rusty?” My voice was coming out too strong, but I couldn’t help it. I was lost. I went for answers and I got a mess of information I couldn’t put in order right.

 

“No, silly girl. Percy Glendon. He was such a sweet boy.” She was still talking to her hands.

 

“The man in the woods?” The thoughts were finally coming together like they should. Well, as best as I was gonna get in the state I was in.

 

“You found him. It was bound to happen I s’pose. How was he?” She seemed caught up in her own thoughts.

 

“Um, naked.” I didn’t really know what more to say. I killed him. I tore into his throat until the horrid purple blood poured into my mouth. I couldn’t right tell her that. “He was young, handsome…”

 

“Before he died.” She said like it was nothing new to her.

 

“Yeah. Before he died. How…”

 

“Lynnie, you ain’t the first. You won’t be the last. Percy got turned in nineteen-fifty-three. He did the same as you. He got scared. Ran away, hid in the woods. He came across a woman there; she was naked. He told me this before he left Havana. He came to me the very next morning and told me everything. He kissed me, then he walked out the door and never came back. It was three days before our wedding. He killed that woman, too.” Nana stiffened her lips and pulled her shoulders back. “That beast killed the woman. She done told him to do it. I was young. Younger than you by just a year. He told me that in the moonlight he turned into a beast with green fur and fire in its eyes. He told me he was death. Then he told me he had to leave, to keep me safe. I knew in my gut it wasn’t the end of it. When Percy left, I went to my nanny. She told me in her thick Irish accent that the beast was an old being. A death bringer. Round here though we call it the Howler.”

 

“Ozark Howler? I’m the Ozark Howler?” If I’m being honest the idea of me becoming some stupid local legend made me feel even more ridiculous than I already did.  But the other part, the part about death hit home. “So it’s true. I am death.” I was stunned. I’d prayed so hard it wasn’t true.

 

“Do you have the marks?” I looked at her with a funny face. I didn’t know what marks she was talking about. “On your body. Arms or back or something. Percy had these marks. Like letters of some kind up the center of his forearm. Where’s yours?” She pulled on my hands and looked over my arms.

 

“I haven’t seen anything like that. Maybe it’s not true!” My voice sounded too high, too fast. Panicked maybe.

 

“Maybe they just ain’t there yet.” She said with a little nod. It was a little disturbing how calm she was. It bothered me more that she was calm than it did that she, my nana, held all the answers I’d been searching for.

 

“Nanny, I am so lost. Please, I need you to tell me what to do.” I begged.

 

“I can’t tell you nothin’. You’ve gotta figure that out on your own.” She ran her leathery fingers through my hair again.

 

“Why is everybody tellin’ me that? Can’t somebody tell me somethin’?” I jumped up from the couch and stomped my boot on the floor. I made a loud thud and nana clapped her hands at me like I was a dog. Well, I guess that fits.

 

“You calm yourself Lynnie. You ain’t getting’ anywhere bein’ ornery. Now, I know you’re scared. You oughta be. Only idiots don’t have fear. Fear will keep you safe, but you gotta keep that under your hat, ya hear? Be strong. Be with God.”

 

“God? Where’s God? He ain’t here! He wasn’t with me in the woods when I killed Rusty. When I killed that man and the others. Where was God?” I said those words with such conviction I thought the man Himself would come down and prove me wrong. He didn’t.

 

“He was there. May notta seen him, but He was there.” She nodded her head up and down. She does that when she damn well knows she’s right and I’d better know it too. “I should’ve been too. I’m sorry I didn’t come in and visit after Rusty. I wanted to wait. I wasn’t sure I was right, that you’d turned, I had to wait and see.”

 

“Tell me what I am. Please. Walkin’ around telling people I’m the Ozark Howler ain’t gonna cut it. If I don’t know the problem I can’t fix it.” I was repeating Rusty’s words like he was talking for me.

 

“Dumb redneck’s gave it the name Howler. They just couldn’t think of nothin’ better is all. You’re not a monster, I can tell ya that much. You’re here ‘cause you’re s’possed to be. You’ll kill. You’ll hide. You’ll leave. You’ll die. Percy killed and he hid and he left, then he died.” She was holding her face tight trying not to cry. I know that face; I make it too.

 

“He was young and perfect. That man in the woods. Percy would’ve been an old man by now. If that was Percy, I’ll die young and perfect too. I’ll never have kids. Never have a husband. Never have a night to sleep in my damn bed!” I dropped to my knees at my nana’s feet again. This time, holding my face tight didn’t work. I broke down and cried with my head in her lap.

 

“You have two choices, you can sit on my dusty floor and cry until you turn into that beast and gobble me up or you can get up off your rump and deal with it like a real woman should.”

 

My nana had two ways of handling things. She’d either hold you and rock you until whatever was wrong went away, or she’d smack you in the head and tell you to shake it off.

 

She was telling me to shake it off. But I got the feeling she was just as scared as me. Hell, two people she loved got shoved into the body of a beast before they were old enough to drink.

 

“Why did Percy become this monster?” I asked through my sobs.

 

“Said some women in the woods did it to him. He killed those women.” She said it like it was the most normal thing to say.

 

“How is it that women in the woods done this to me too? You’re leaving something out.” I lifted up my head from her lap and looked at her in disbelief.

 

“I wasn’t there Lynn. I don’t know how it happened. I sure as hell can’t tell you why it happened.” Her voice was stern and a little defensive. “I can tell you I’m so sorry. I love you, darlin’ girl. You got my heart the day you was born.” She leaned down and touched her forehead to mine. “I ain’t scared of nothin’. ‘Specially not a little green dog. You better not run from me. I lived without Percy. I can’t live without you.” Her cheeks were shining with tears.

 

“I’m so scared. I’m scared for Garret and Hattie. Hell, I’m scared for the whole damn town.” I was crying and slobbering all over nana’s blue-checkered apron. She didn’t mind.

 

“Oh, you don’t worry ‘bout this town. They’ve seen their share. If Percy done it without knockin’ everybody in the world off you can too.” She sat up straighter and smiled. “You figure out what you are, you best come tell me. I’ve been dyin’ to know since ol’ Percy walked out my door that day.” She was laughing. Her round belly shook up and down when she laughed. She had a silver tooth that showed when she smiled wide. It’s a funny thing to notice, but it’s something I’ll always remember about my nana’s smile.

 

“What if…”

 

“No if’s, Lynnie Russell. If’s are for scientists and idiots. You ain’t neither so knock it off.”

 

“Yes ma’am. Tell me I’m no monster. Tell me I’m just a girl. I’ve been so scared these last days. I’ve had no one to talk to about all this. I’m scared more than anything that I’m not scared at all. There comes along waves of carelessness and a kind of callousness. I’m scared I am becoming the beast. Only instinct, no emotion or reason. Just the beast.” I knew the look on my face had to be some kind of pathetic.

 

“You ain’t just a girl anymore, Lynn. You are somethin’ more than just a girl. But you will always be Sharlene Carolynn Diamond Russell and I will always love you. Ain’t no beast can take that away from you.” She held my face between her two hands. I could feel the rough texture of bandages wrapped tight around the bands of a few rings to keep them sized right.

 

“How’d you get to be so wise nanny? You always know just what to say.”

 

“I’m like my morai that way I guess, my nanny. She used to tell me she was filidh. She saw things, images from God she’d say. Always said it was in the blood. Ancestors were some kinda druids you know. We came by it honest some would say.” She was smiling and showing off that silver tooth again. “But she was just an old Irish woman. Had superstitions for everything.”

 

Talking about my great gran reminded me of the red haired woman in the woods. I shuddered a minute and shook off the thought before it took over.

 

“A family of divine women I guess.” I said finally, smiling and wiping up the mess of snot on my face.

 

“You better get your butt home and see your brother. He’s worried sick about you. You’re lucky he didn’t get the law after you. He loves you so; he’d die right along with you something ever happened to you.”

 

“I know. That’s why I can’t tell him. I can’t get him involved. What if I hurt him?”

 

“Garret will just have to take his chances.” She smiled and patted me on the head. “Alright get on up off that floor now before my rear end falls asleep on this old couch.” She was scooting off the couch when she said it.

 

I didn’t really want to get up. I wanted to spend the rest of my life lying in my nanny’s lap. But I stood up from the floor anyway and brushed the dust of my knees.

 

I tried not to look into my nana’s eyes. I knew if I did I’d cry again. And I was sure done with crying for the day. There’s only so much a girl can take before she starts to feel useless and a tad bit pathetic. I may be a furry green killing machine, but I ain’t pathetic, I’ll tell you that much.

 

Without looking right at her I squeezed the old woman hard around the middle. I pushed my face into the crook of her neck and breathed deep. She always smelled like a garden of freshly bloomed roses. Her tight permed hair ticked my cheek. I loved that woman more than I could say in words. I hated to leave her. But I knew if I didn’t get home to Garret he’d have a search party out for me.

 

“Bye nanny. Thank you.” I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and turned around without looking at her.

 

“You come back here tomorrow morning. I’ll have breakfast on the table for you. I want to know everything about your night out huntin’.”

 

I was some kind of monster and my nana was still proud to sit and hear about it. No one will ever love you as much as your grandmother; I don’t care what anybody says. 

 

“You bet. I love you.” I said over my shoulder while I walked out the front door.

BOOK: The Lynnie Russell Trilogy
11.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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