“What do you mean we’re going to ‘change history’ tonight?” asked Alex, his confusion acting as a thin veil over his fear.
“This might come as a surprise to you boys, considering I’m more than willing to blow your fucking heads off right now, but I don’t take to kindly to the slaughtering of innocent folks. But then again, you’re not innocent are you?” replied Kern.
The question was rhetorical, and Mike and Alex knew it.
“That being said, I think this whole ‘celebration’ we have here is bullshit. I’ve lived here my whole goddamn life and it’s sickened me, my whole goddamn life. That’s why I go, make my presence known, and get the hell out of there as quickly as humanly possible every year. So, now that I have two employees, we’re gonna put a stop to it.”
“And how are we supposed to do that?” asked Mike, rather smugly for someone who was being held at gunpoint.
“You boys are gonna send that damn spirit thing back to wherever the hell it came from, then when they put Glaruson back down into the well you guys are gonna wait until you have an opportunity, pour a gallon of gasoline down the well and drop a match down that sonofabitch. This town has made it’s birthday celebration about the killing of innocent people, destroying all their families, for too goddamn long!” shouted Kern, getting himself worked up.
“I really don’t think we can do that, Mr. Kern.” said Alex.
“I really don’t think I’m giving you a goddamn choice.” replied Kern. “Because if you boys don’t do exactly what I tell you to do, I swear, to God, in Jesus Christ’s name, that I will blow both your brain’s out, and I will live every last day of my life as a free man.”
His words echoed through the mischievous boys’ heads as they contemplated the task they were soon going to be undertaking. The mere prospect of Mr. Kern’s suggestions proved to be entirely fearsome to Alex and Mike, who until this moment, would have considered themselves brave.
“Do you want to go on for the rest of your lives doing a bunch of bullshit, being fuck ups, or do you want to do something that really matters?” Mr. Kern asked the boys, in what was undoubtedly the most sincere moment the three had shared since meeting.
Alex and Mike looked at each other, each wanting the other to say ‘no’. Pride meaning what it did to them, however, they both agreed to carry out Mr. Kern’s plan, which he then laid out for them. After they finished talking with the man who essentially held their lives in his hands, they set out for the first part of the plan, going to the library.
They walked down the empty streets of Glarus under the cover of night, deciding to take the side streets so as to avoid any late arrivals to the celebration. While walking down the second of the three residential blocks of Glarus, they saw a man standing on the lawn next to a well.
“What the hell is going on here?” the man shouted out.
“The hunt is tonight dumbass, what, did you forget what day it is?” Mike said with a laugh, which made Alex give him a dirty look.
“Why aren’t you there?” asked the man.
“Not old enough.” said Alex.
“So what, you just walk around all night?” the man inquired.
“Underagers go to the library, that’s where we’re headed. If you aren’t from here, you need to leave before someone else finds you.” Alex warned.
The man seemed to take their advice and walked in the opposite direction as the boys, who ended up reaching the library about 15 minutes after the strange encounter. They ascended the steps and found the library doors to be locked.
“Well shit.” said Mike.
“Doesn’t matter. We can find another way in. Hurry up, I wanna get this done.” retorted Alex, determined to get the job done.
The boys walked around to the side of the library and began trying windows, until they happened to find one that was unlocked near the back. They crawled through the small opening they were able to wedge in the window and dropped down to the floor, finding themselves in the “historical fiction” section of the library. They peeked around a corner and saw all the children of Glarus, some watching the movie Miss Lebitan had put on, some sleeping, and a few others talking quietly amongst themselves.
The boys snuck around, looking for the door to the basement. A series of rooms lined the back of the library, only one of which was accompanied by a window. Mike finally spotted a “basement” sign on the wall opposite the one that held the window they climbed through. He pointed it out to Alex, and the two quietly made their way over to it. A few steps towards it, however, Mike tripped over his own foot and ran into a row of books, causing just enough noise to alert Miss Lebitan, who was then seated at the front of the library reading a book.
Miss Lebitan looked in the direction the noise came from, but Alex and Mike successfully kept themselves hidden behind a set of bookshelves. When they were confident the librarian was no longer peering in their direction, they kept moving towards the door. When they reached it, they each noted four heavy duty locks on the door, all of them unlocked.
Alex wrapped his hand around the doorknob and slowly turned it. He pulled the door open, and it let out a loud groan, as if it hadn’t been opened in a very long time. This alerted Miss Lebitan that someone was indeed in the back of library, confirming the suspicion she hadn’t let go of since she heard Mike trip and nearly fall. Over the sound of the movie playing for the children, Alex and Mike heard the sound of Miss Lebitan’s rolling chair move from one spot to another, letting them know that she was heading their way.
They quickly rushed through the creaking door and shut it as quietly as possible. Mike flicked on a light switch which illuminated a set of stairs leading down to the basement, but Alex, in a hushed whisper, urged him to turn the light off. He nudged Mike down the stairs in total darkness, following closely behind his friend. When they got to the bottom, they turned a corner and Alex pushed Mike against the wall, urging him to stay completely still.
This quick thinking paid off for the boys, because soon after they made it to the bottom of the stairs, they heard the door creak open once again, and a dim light from within the library shined down the stairs. They saw a flashlight move around the bottom of the stairs, and then soon, everything went dark again as they heard the door creak shut. They thought they had successfully evaded Miss Lebitan once more, but that feeling was quickly engulfed by worry when they heard a key enter the doorknob at the top of the stairs, and the unmistakable sound of a lock locking into place, followed by three deadbolts.
Without either of them having to say it out loud, they both knew that they were now locked in the basement. Miss Lebitan knew that someone had found their way into the basement, and she was fairly certain she knew why. She had the foresight to trap the intruders inside the basement, then made her way back to her desk, where she picked up her phone and dialed a number.
“Hello?” answered a man after a few rings.
“Someone is in the basement, you better get over here.” replied Miss Lebitan.
“Yeah, my brother told me they’d be coming by there. They’re just about to let the sacrifices run free. I’ll bring the big man by there as soon as I’m done.” said the man before hanging up without giving Miss Lebitan a chance to respond.
The librarian let out a sigh and hung up her phone as a smile stretched across her face. Meanwhile, Alex and Mike began searching the basement, using their phones to illuminate the way. While Mike had initially panicked about being locked in, Alex thought more rationally. He suggested doing what they came there to do and worry about the next problem when they came to it.
They looked in different file boxes and flipped through the pages of the thickest books, looking for a piece of paper that contained a Native American saying, one that would send the Skadegamutc back to whatever depths it came from. They searched for about 15 minutes, looking through every possible area that the piece of paper could be, but alas, they couldn’t find it.
“Fuck it dude, we should just go back to your house and turn ourselves in in the morning.” suggested Mike, who at this point was ready to give up.
“I thought about that, too.” replied Alex. “But Mr. Kern was right. It is pretty fucked up what goes on here every year. We could be the ones to stop it.”
“And I thought about that. Do you not understand that we’ll be the enemies of this entire fucking town if we somehow pulled off a miracle and did end the hunt?” said Mike. “I’d rather be a felon than get fucking killed by everyone in Glarus.”
“Do you not understand that Kern will kill us if we don’t do this?” replied Alex.
“Fuck!” Mike exclaimed in a loud whisper. “I guess let’s find this fucking thing then.”
The boys went back to looking, spending another roughly 15 minutes looking for the telltale piece of paper that would help them complete the task given to them by Mr. Kern. When they finally decided that they weren’t going to find it, they began focusing their efforts on getting out of the basement.
Being windowless, their only option was to go back the way they came, but that proved to be impossible, as the locks Miss Lebitan had employed were far too effective; the door didn’t budge in the slightest as they tried pushing it open. Stuck in the pitch black library, with cell phones whose flashlights were quickly draining the batteries, the boys grew tired and decided to take a break and reevaluate their options.
In the meantime, Alex called 4-1-1 and got Mr. Kern’s phone number. The call was connected, and Alex anxiously waited while the phone rang, breathing a sigh of relief when mid-ring, the other end answered.
“Hello? Mr. Kern? It’s Alex.” said the frightened 16-year-old.
“Yes?” replied Kern, flatly.
“Yeah, we’re locked down here, and we can’t find the piece of paper. We looked all over the place, flipped through every book, it’s nowhere. And now we can’t get out.”
Alex was confused when Mr. Kern’s only response was sinister, mocking laughter.
“Mr. Kern…” Alex said, trailing off.
“No, you boys are right where you’re supposed to be. You were taught from a young age, never do anything to hurt a fellow member of the town of Glarus. The retribution you face will serve as an example for the next generation.” said Kern before letting out a boisterous laugh. “You really believed an Indian spell was gonna stop what happens here? You can’t tell me you actually believe that story Lebitan told you guys when you were kids, do you? You boys really didn’t learn a goddamn thing in my class. If you ever learn one thing from me, let it be this: you boys will surely have deterred future kids from being thieving fucking assholes like yourselves. Good riddance.”
Mr. Kern laughed as he hung up the phone, while Alex sat in silence, stunned and confused at the brief conversation he’d just had. He relayed Mr. Kern’s words to Mike, who went pale at the thought of dying in the dark, lonely basement. It had been a setup the whole time. Mr. Kern played on the boys’ beliefs in the story of the Skadegamutc, coordinated with Miss Lebitan, and got them locked in the basement of the library. The only thing the boys didn’t know was what fate awaited them.
Whatever it was, though, it wasn’t going to be pleasant. The boys puttered around for a bit before Mike came across a hinge in the wall behind a bookshelf.
“Alex…come over here. There’s something behind this thing.”
Alex walked over to his friend and helped him pull out the bookcase. The two boys worked for nearly five minutes trying to open the door that blended in with the wall before they finally felt it budge. They swung the heavy door open and couldn’t believe their eyes.