Mo asked me about movie making, so I gave her a few stories about celebrities I'd directed. She seemed impressed, but it was hard to tell with Mo. I told her I had to have the script finished before autumn if we were going to get locations scouted and casting done in time to start production by next summer. The studio was breathing down my neck about staying on schedule. So, all of this was keeping me from doing my job, but I had to figure this out, especially if I was going to use this story for my script.
Mo and I got into my car and she directed me to Clem's place. I rented a khaki jeep, bought some bottled water, a Styrofoam cooler and a bag of ice. I transferred the shotgun and spotlight I'd bought into the jeep and then we tore out to find the Devil's Nose.
A dust cloud seemed to be engulfing us the whole trip, sort of like Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strip. We drove for what seemed like hours, Mo regaling me of stories of her deceased husband. Apparently they were quite the swingers when they were young.
"Okay, cowboy," Mo said as she undid her greasy apron and tossed it onto the counter, "then I'm going with you."
"No, you're not, Mo."
"Yes.... I am! And you can't stop me."
I could've stopped her, but truthfully I didn't really want to go out there alone anyway. Depending on what we found I might be forced to explain all to her, but I would play that by ear.
"Okay, Mo. But I'm going now. Who's going to watch the diner?"
She walked over to the door and turned the sign from open to closed.
"No one," she said.
"Teddy, where did you get that map?" Mo asked me.
I looked down at the dirty counter.
"You found it in the house, didn't you?"
I nodded. I felt like a schoolboy that just got caught doing something naughty.
"Teddy, there's no reason for you to go out there. I don't know why that map was in the house but I'm telling you there's nothing out there."
"Mo, I can't tell you everything, but there is something going on with that house. It's compelling me. I don't think I could stop it even if I wanted to, which I don't."
"That's a long way, though, Teddy. It'll take you all day to get out there and get around the mountain. And forget about doing it with that fancy car you have. You'll need to rent a dune buggy or a jeep."
"Is there a place I can do that?" I asked hopefully.
"Yeah, ole' Clem, he rents 'em for tourists and teenagers to go riding out in the desert. But nobody goes to the Devil's Nose. They say it's bad luck."
"Where is this Clem?"
She pointed on the map, "Right there. He sells bottled water too. You'll need it."
"Listen, Mo. I need a favor. Will you take a look at this map and tell me if you're familiar with the area?" I asked as I handed her the paper.
She studied it for a few moments. "Well, if you take the main road out of town and then turn here where it says you'll be goin' out into the desert. You'll wind up at the base of the Devil's Nose."
"The Devil's Nose?" I asked.
"Yeah, it's a mountain out there. That's what it's shaped like, so the locals call it the Devil's Nose."
"How quaint," I said.
Mo's was starting to thin out, so I went in and ordered some breakfast. I figured by the time I finished eating the rest of the customers would be gone.
"Haven't seen you recently, Teddy Martin. I wondered if you were alright," Mo said, wiping on the dirty counter with a dirtier towel.
"I'm okay, Mo. Been doing what I came here to do. Write."
"No problems in the house?" she asked, raising her bushy eyebrow slightly.
"Nope," I said as I crunched some bacon.
I downed the rest of my coffee as the last customer went out the door.
I got dressed and took the journal to the kitchen. I got a piece of paper and traced the map Mark Finch had drawn of where the cave was located. Then I drove to Weeping Springs and found Atlas Sporting Goods. I purchased a sawed-off shotgun, some shells, and a battery-powered spotlight. Then I stopped by Mo's. I wanted to see if she might be able to give me some general info about the location on the map. It was a road leading out of Weeping Springs and through the desert. I hoped she might know the area.
When the moment finally came I exploded in her. She screamed, a sound that was otherworldly. She continued the up and down motion, but gradually slowed to a stop. I was so exhausted I couldn't even blink my eyes. I just stared up at her. When she finally came to a stop she leaned down and whispered in my ear, "The job isn't finished, son."
Then my eyes closed involuntarily. Next thing I knew it was morning.
I got up and took a cold shower, unsure of myself.
But I now knew what turned those ordinary men into serial killers.
She seemed to hover over the bed, then settled over my naked body. I felt myself slipping inside her. My vocabulary goes bankrupt trying to describe the feeling. It was good and bad, pleasure and pain, ecstasy and agony. All of those conflicting sensations made for an incredible but disorienting experience. She laced her fingers with mine as she moved up and down on me. If she was a ghost she had a physical form. She wasn't spirit. She was flesh. She was real.
I seemed to last for hours, which made me think it was a dream after all.
I pitched the journal to the floor and closed my eyes. Even with the light on I drifted off to sleep in seconds. Sometime in the night Betty Finch came to me, either in a dream or as a ghost, I'm still not sure. She appeared at the bedroom door, smiling. She was wearing a white gown, which she proceeded to slip off her shoulders. It dropped to the floor like a feather. She was definitely a natural redhead, and her milky white skin was almost glowing. She glided toward the bed. She leaned over and softly said, "Mother's here."
Lance Moore took over in August of 2009. Same modus operandi as the previous owners. His last entry was January of 2019, which means I bought the house only three months after he disappeared. He also showed remorse and talked about the cave.
I wondered just what the hell I was going to find when I got to that cave, but I knew I had to see it for myself. Although, curiosity is apparently what sucked all these poor bastards into a life of murder. But they didn't seem to realize it. Maybe that's the advantage I have over them.
Max Keller's entries stopped in March of 1999. It amazed me how easily the bank was able to turn this house over so quickly. Samuel Ladd's entries began in August of 1999. Believe it or not, he walked the same path as the previous owners. And he also dreamed about Betty Finch without ever seeing her. And the murders. And the remorse and regret. And his finding of the map and the talk of going to the other side. His last entry was February 10, 2009 and it just said "Cave."
Now I knew I had to investigate that cave.
Max's last entries were carbon copies of Jim Foster's and Mark Finch's. But he went into a little more detail than Foster had. He said that Mother kept telling him he needed to avenge her death and he said he had many times. But he said he couldn't take it anymore. He, like Foster, had found the map and started talking about going to the "other side."
I knew I was going to have to take a trip out to the desert and try and find that cave.
But the thought of it scared the living hell out of me.
Max Keller was apparently unmarried, at least he never mentioned a wife in the journal. But as for the content, it was very similar to Jim Foster's journey into madness. The same curiosity about the films, the journal, and the knife. He also began having dreams about Betty Finch, including the erotic ones. Then, like Foster, he began referring to Betty as his mother. Also like Foster, he started the talk about how the job was unfinished and that that bitch Abigail Lewis could not get away with killing his mother. And then the murders started.
For ten long years.
Foster began talking about joining his "brother" Mark on the other side. This man seemed to deteriorate even worse than Finch. He'd adopted a delusion of a completely different family. He had mentioned in previous entries about finding the map to the cave. He never actually said that's where he was dumping the bodies but it didn't take a genius to figure it out. His writing stopped on February 25, 1989 with one entry:
"Going to the other side tomorrow."
There weren't any entries until June 1, 1989 when the next owner, Max Keller, took to writing in the journal.
He didn't post again until November 8, 1979 when he wrote that he'd found Abigail Lewis, brought her back to the house, and killed her while he filmed it. The pattern went the same as Mark Finch. He always seemed to be alright the first half of the next year, then the talk would begin again about how "Mother" was murdered by Abigail Lewis and had gotten away with it. The erotic dreams of Betty Finch returned and the talk about the job not being finished. This continued until 1988 when, like Mark Finch, Foster began exhibiting remorse and regret.
Was Mo right? Was there a malevolence in this house? Or was it nothing more than man's curiosity and the power of suggestion? The only thing I can't figure out is how Jim Foster and I both dreamed of Betty Finch before either of us knew what she looked like. That one was still puzzling.
The entries continued with Foster mentioning the erotic dreams and the job being unfinished. He never again mentioned his wife or daughter.
Then, on November 6, 1979, he wrote:
"Tomorrow is the anniversary of Mother's death. The job still isn't done. But it will be."
Things came to a head on October 17, 1979:
"Kathy left me. We were making love last night and, I don't know what came over me, I said 'Mother' in the middle of it. She threw me off her, crying and asking what kind of sick monster I was. I tried to explain but she said she didn't want to hear it, that she was taking Maddy and leaving. She packed some things, went to Maddy's room and got her, and jumped in the car and left."
The last line was absolutely horrifying:
"Well, at least I still have Mother."
I steadied myself and continued reading. Foster's entries became shorter but more frequent.
October 7, 1979:
"Starting to have trouble with my wife Kathy. She says I seemed preoccupied lately."
October 10, 1979:
"Had an erotic dream about that redheaded woman. I found a picture of her in the basement. 'Mother' was written on the back. It must be the mother of the former owner, Mark Finch."
October 13, 1979:
"Had another erotic dream about Finch's mother. It was the most intense experience I've ever had, real or dream. I've never felt that kind of passion, even with my wife."