The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 37

the man who wasnt thereFollowing his mother through a secret trapdoor, Brian finds himself in a cold storage area of the house that he’s never seen before. He and his mother collect ingredients needed for the spell.

“Where do you want these things?” He indicated the larger crate.

“It will need to go back downstairs. For now, let’s leave it over there.” She pointed to the far corner of the kitchen.

Brian lifted the crate and set it on the counter. Seconds later, it was gone. He smirked. “I love how you do that. Will you teach me?”

“When you’re of age.”

“Dad said the same thing. Why not now?”

She didn’t answer him.

“What other stuff is hidden around here?”

“Ever found any of your Christmas presents ahead of time?” She smiled sweetly.

“That’s just plain mean. It’s a rite of passage for a kid to shake his Christmas presents.”

“Uh huh.”

“Tradition.”

She beckoned him to follow her. They went back to the safe and she opened the door once more. Taking out the book, she left the map alone and closed the door.

“We need to go over this incantation,” she said.

“We need to show it to Marissa.”

“Why?”

Brian pointed to the part about singing. “She has perfect pitch. I can carry a tune, but don’t let Dad near this one unless you want epic failure.”

Maribelle laughed. Miles had a tin ear. “Good point. Can Jordan sing? I have a feeling this needs more than one voice.”

“No idea. I guess we start polling members.”

“I’ll ask your father to find out. Meanwhile, what now?”

“Meanwhile, we head to Chase’s house. His grandparents will be here to get the girls. Mom will be here any second. We’re going first, then your dad and the others will follow.”

“Why us?”

Maribelle pressed her lips together. “Because it has to be us. I don’t know why. Just trust me on this, son.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

He carried the crate of ingredients to his car. They said goodbye to his father and the Meru family before heading to Chase’s home. The damage to the place looked even worse today. Not only had the trees been smashed, they were blacked with fire. The shed was obliterated. It amazed Brian that there had been anything left of Cliff Finley.

“That can stay in the car,” his mother said. “We’re walking the perimeter. I want to see how far this extends.” She carried a can of orange fluorescent spray paint and a surveyor’s rolling measure. She fit the can into the measure and walked to the clearing. “You’re my barometer,” she told Brian. “If you feel anything, even a twitch in your nose, you tell me. With your heightened senses, this may be—uncomfortable.”

He nodded. “How uncomfortable?”

“Remember when you were gored by Mr. D. and buried alive?”

Brian shivered, feeling fear trickle up his spine. He remembered well. It was the single most painful thing he’d ever endured.

“Not that bad,” she replied. “I’ll be right here.” She stood behind him.

Brian started walking around the clearing. He felt a tingle on the back of his neck and pointed to his right heel. Maribelle painted a mark and noted the measurement with the memo app on her phone. They continued walking. Brian grew increasingly uneasy. Strongly averse to continuing, he stopped.

“What’s wrong?”

He shook his head, not trusting his voice. “Something—horrible.”

Maribelle put her hand on his shoulder, pushing gently. “We’re almost done. You can do this, son. I have faith.”

Gulping, Brian stepped over the spot and heard Maribelle mark it. A few feet further, he stopped again. This time, fear gripped his stomach and pain shot through his back from his neck to his feet. He felt something tighten around his throat. Looking up, he saw a gnarled, thick branch. He remembered that Cliff used to refer to this as the hanging tree. At the time, he’d shrugged it off, thinking it was a joke. Every other tree in the backwoods was called the hanging tree. Clearly, this one was aptly named. There had been more than one death on this spot.

“Mom?” His voice caught in his throat.

“It’s okay, Bri-Guy. I’m here.” She touched him again.

Calm reassurance filled him. Taking another step, he halted as if he’d come up against a wall. Closing his eyes, he put out his hands and pushed, meeting with resistance.

“There’s something here.” He spread his arms, trying to find the edges. His full wing span, over six feet, and he still didn’t find the corners. “It’s big.” He reached up, finding the top easily. It was far longer than it was tall. The top of it wasn’t even above his head, but came to his shoulders.

Maribelle took a step around him, to his right, on the outside of the circle they’d painted. Touching the wall, she moved away from Brian. When she finally found a corner, she was nearly three feet from him.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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That’s Quite a Character – Alvin Ripley Room 103

That's Quite a Character

Alvin Ripley has high blood pressure, acid reflux, hemorrhoids and his hair is thinning at an alarming rate. He’s not even 60, but he sometimes feels like he’s falling apart. Why? He blames Marice Houston, one of his deputy marshals. Alvin is the head of the Kansas City, Missouri Federal Marshal’s office and she works for him. We first meet them both in Room 103, a romantic suspense novel set in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Marice seems to find trouble just by waking up in the morning. There is always something going on that she feels compelled to deal with, and not always by the book. Disturbance at the college football game? She’s in the middle of it, taking out a rude drunk. Explosion on the college campus? Her hair and jacket are singed. Car bomb in the underground garage – of course, it nearly takes her out. Shoot outs, near drownings, car chases, transporting dangerous federal prisoners….

Is it any wonder that he goes off on her? This is one of my favorite scenes from Room 303, the third book in the Marice Houston Mysteries Series (Not yet published). Marice happens to be back in Pittsburg and there’s an incident. She goes with the police to investigate and the office they are in blows up. Her quick thinking gets everyone out before the bomb goes off.

CAUTION: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE

room 103 front cover

CAUTION: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE

On the way to the motel, Marice’s phone rang. She cringed. It as her boss, Alvin Ripley.

“Houston! What the hell is going on down there? Why haven’t you called? No, don’t tell me. You’re in the thick of it, getting shot at and blown up.”

“Not shot.”

“Jesus H. Christ, Houston. You didn’t get your man shot again, did you?”

“No, Todd’s date got shot. She’s critical. Then her office blew up.”

“Were you there?”

“What do you think?”

“Your ass on fire?”

“No.”

“Well, it will be if you don’t stop f**king around and get to the bottom of this!”

“Is that an order, sir?”

“That’s a don’t f**k this up, Houston! I swear to god, trouble comes looking for you. I never met a woman so good at finding ways to let someone kill her off. Were you born under a bad sign? Cursed at birth? Did you piss off your fairy godmother?”

She didn’t reply. Al was in full rant mode. He wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. If she said a word, he was likely to rip her a new asshole.

“Help me out here, Marice. How do you get into all this shit? You Super Girl now, or something? Is your super power, f**king shit up?”

“No, sir.”

“Good answer. To that end, the not f**king it up, that is. I’m sending help.”

“Have the police asked for our help?”

“Someone tried to blow up my favorite deputy. I don’t give a hickey in in a high wind if they want us there or not. I can stomp in wearing jackboots and f**k all their shit up. Do I need to do that?”

“No, sir.”

“Good. Make no mistake, I will do what it takes to keep you safe. I made a promise to that man of yours. If that means I put you riding a desk for the next slice of forever, I can make that happen. I like you, Houston. F**k knows why, you’re a pain in my hemorrhoids. But I will slap you on a desk so fast, it will make your head spin.”

“Thank you for the help. I’m sure Detective Scrivener will appreciate it.”

“Appreciate what?” Darla asked, flashing her a look. She could hear just enough of Al’s rant to know he was furious.

“He’s sending help. He’s also threatening to take over the case.”

“Let him. Things are too damn exciting with you around.”

“Praise be, one of you has a lick of sense. Where can we find you?”

“At Todd’s motel.”

“Might have known he’d be mixed up in this. Karma’s a bitch, Houston. You f**k with her, you’re going down.” He hung up.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 36

the man who wasnt thereAfter an uneasy dream about the witches, Brian has a very nasty confrontation with Mr. D, in the guise of Dr. Meru. The following morning, he isn’t sure he trusts the mystical man.

“We determined that the only way to burn the witches was with magical fire. Then we walked into the living room, you reached for a paper in one of the boxes and I woke in my room. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t get the door open. No matter how I tried, I was locked in. Willa would not wake. I could hear you calling out, but the words were strange. With a last yell, you stopped and I assumed you were awake.”

“Did you try the door then?”

“Yes. I was able to open it.”

“Why didn’t you come then?”

“Because I heard enough of your dream to know that you wouldn’t have wanted to see me. Even now, you don’t trust me. I accept that. Are either of the dogs about?” he asked Miles.

“Janus showed up a few minutes ago,” Miles replied. “I saw him in the yard.” He went to the back door and whistled for the dog.

Seconds later, the huge Ridgeback clomped into the room, wagging his tail, tongue lolling. He walked up to Meru, sniffed his hand and licked him. That was confirmation enough for Brian. He relaxed, telling his version of the dream.

“And you found the paper?” Maribelle said.

“Yes. I put it in Dad’s safe before I went back to bed. I think all the other artifacts should be locked up and warded. That stuff is dangerous.”

“I agree with Brian,” Miles said. “And not all in one spot.”

“Copies,” Meru said. “Scatter and hide the originals and keep copies.”

“That will take a long time, something we don’t have much of. It’s already Tuesday. Halloween is Thursday. If Mr. D. is going to make his power move, it will probably be then.”

“We need to take care of the ashes right away,” Maribelle said. “I called Mom to babysit. I’m going, too. We must have everyone we can get. Brian, call Andre and the others. Miles, you know what to do.”

He nodded at his wife and got up from the table. “Meru, can you give me a hand with these boxes?”

“Certainly, Miles.” He followed Brian’s father to the dining room.

Maribelle Casey grabbed a jacket and went to Miles’ office. Moments later, she went to the safe in the dining room. Brian joined her there while he talked to Andre. He showed her the paper and the page in the book. She scanned copies and locked the originals back in the safe.

“Time to go shopping,” she said with a smile.

“Do I need to drive you?”

“No. It’s just really cold in the storage space. Come. I’ll need you to carry things. Bring a coat.”

Puzzled, Brian followed his mother to the basement. She opened the door to the storage room and walked confidently to the center.

“Open that, please.”

There was a trapdoor in the floor that Brian couldn’t remember ever seeing before. Flush with the floor, a thick, brass ring lay in a recessed area. Brian lifted it with ease. It swung back without a sound. He followed his mother down narrow steps. The room was extremely cold. Even with his coat, Brian was chilly. Maribelle turned on a light and pulled out the list.

“Get that crate.” She pointed to a wooden crate a few feet away.

Brian picked it up and set it on the small table in the center of the room. It looked like a pantry, though the items in the glass jars were hardly things he’d expect to find in his mother’s cellar.

“Is that eyeballs?” He peered at one jar with marble sized spheres.

“Yes, from goats.”

“Gross!”

“But useful. We don’t need them though.”

“Thank God.”

“Grab that for me, Ladder Boy.” She pointed to a small glass jar full of yellow powder.

Brian lifted it down and put it in the crate. “Are you going to tell me what all this is?”

“No. That next,” she commanded, pointing to some other mysterious substance.

After ten minutes, she seemed satisfied that they had everything. Double checking her list, she beckoned for Brian to pick up the crate and follow her up the steps. When they were back in the basement, she shut the trap door and Brian couldn’t see it anymore. He felt like he should be able to see it, but it simply wasn’t there.

“Neat trick, that camouflage.”

“Very handy. Bring that upstairs,” she commanded. “Please,” she added almost as an afterthought.

This was an aspect of his mother Brian had never seen before. He couldn’t decide if he liked it or not. He was still thinking about it when she brought out a variety of small glass bowls.

“Prep time,” she said, handing him a knife he’d never seen before. The blade looked like it might be made of dark glass—or possibly obsidian. The handle was made from some sort of bone and it was inlaid with stones and pieces of metal.

Her hands moved deftly and quickly, chopping, mashing, peeling and grinding. Brian followed her movements as exactly as he could. Satisfied, she sealed the bowls with plastic lids, stacking them in another small crate.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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New from Dellani Oakes – Something Completely Different!

doodle your stress volume 1 coverI write books. That’s more or less a given. However, not as well known fact, I also doodle. I’ve done this since I was a kid. Anytime I got bored, I doodled pictures on the sides of my note pages. They varied somewhat, but most of the time, they were rockets. I’ve often reflected on that, and came to the conclusion that this was because I wanted to escape the boredom of the class.

When I got to be in 6th or 7th grade, a friend of mine showed me something she had done – abstract doodles on tinfoil. That really sparked my imagination. Not only did I have cool shapes, I had the embossed feel and glitter of the foil. However, my mother didn’t much like me hogging all her foil, so I started doing it on paper. The margins of my note pages changed, getting much more creative and interesting. It kept me relaxed and able to listen to lectures instead of daydreaming as much.

My doodles have progressed and changed over the years, and are far different from the juvenile scribbles. I find myself making a lot of flowers or geometric shapes. I like the flowers because they flow so easily onto the page. I also like the geometric shapes because they are more exact and challenging. All my original designs are done on scratch paper with a mechanical pencil. I trace over them to scan and share. If you notice any double lines or other flaws on the book pages, this is why. These images are 100% handmade, therefore, not perfect. I want them that way. To me, the feel of the pencil on the paper is as important as the image itself. When I’m bored or stressed, I grab paper and pencil and doodle away.

I hope you will find the doodles as relaxing and comforting as I do. The designs are best colored with pencils or fine markers. Have fun, go wild! Bring color to these black and white pages. Also, you’ll notice there are a couple of blank pages in the back. This was a result of the book layout, but you can use them to make your own doodles. Have fun, experiment, enjoy.

I’m currently working on Volume 2 and I hope to have it out by Christmas. Meanwhile, sit back, relax and doodle your stress away!

I realized after the book went live that I’d accidentally used the same doodle twice. I’ve changed it now, but there are a few of you who had already bought it. I apologize! Even after hours of proofing, I goofed. I’ve added a new one and I’m posting it here – with a bonus freebie – for everyone to enjoy! Just right click and save!

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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This is the Bonus!

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This is the New One!

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 35

the man who wasnt thereBrian has a disturbing dream about the witches. Waking with a start, he decides to go get a drink in the kitchen, only to find Dr. Meru there.

“It needs to be done as soon as possible. But not at night. They’ll be stronger in the dark.”

Meru nodded again, listening intently.

“Maybe I’m buying into the Hollywood shtick here, but I think we need to dig up those ashes and destroy them. Three hundred years ago, they couldn’t burn bodies as well as we can now. Even modern crematoriums can’t always reduce bodies completely to ashes. There are always bits left.”

“Which means….”

“Which means, there are bits of witches under the ground. Not just ashes, bone, teeth, jewelry. And someone with the right powers could use that against us. I think Cliff Finley figured that out. I think he was trying to reinforce the wards on the land and that’s what got him killed.”

Meru grinned, nodding adamantly. “So, how do we burn witches more efficiently?”

“With magic,” Brian concluded.

“Indeed, my young friend. With magic.”

Brian and Meru took their tea to the living room and examined the books and papers. Brian was agitated. He had no idea where to start. They didn’t have time for random searching, they had to be systematic.

“Close your eyes,” Dr. Meru said. “Relax. Say our little chant.” He said the words he’d taught Brian.

Joining in, Brian felt peace replace the anxiety. Closing his eyes, he reached out, touching the books and papers as if he brushed them with his fingers instead of his mind. One paper, the old map that showed the Finley place, glowed. Reaching for it, Brian felt his fingers close over the parchment. Opening his eyes, he picked it up gingerly.

“This,” he stated confidently. “Something about this.”

“Yes.” Meru grinned. The smile became a leer. His teeth elongated, becoming fangs.

Horrified, Brian stepped back and tripped over the coffee table, scattering the decorations and magazines on top. Meru lunged at him, roaring loudly. Brian yelped, scrambling away from the older man. He clutched the paper tightly as he kicked at the predatory evil.

Snarling, fangs dripping with saliva, Meru advanced, claws reaching for the paper. His dark eyes flashed red and a hollow, funereal laugh rumbled from his chest. “Did you really think you could beat me?”

Brian recognized Deidrich’s voice. Beating down his fear, Brian scrambled off the coffee table and ran toward the fireplace. An ugly laugh escaped Deidrich’s blue tinged lips. Black flames leaped up in the fireplace, licking at Brian, straining to free themselves from the confines of the brick and stone.

With a thought, Brian extinguished them by sucking the air from them. He reached for the poker, which was cold iron. Taking it in one hand, he held the map in the other. Deidrich made another grab for him. Brian whacked him with the poker. It connected with a loud crack.

Deidrich screamed, grasping his hand. A black and red welt rose. Brian hit him again. Deidrich tried to wrest the poker from his grasp, but the damage it caused was too great. Roaring in pain, he made another halfhearted grab at the poker. Brian raised it, jabbing Deidrich in the gut. Swinging again, he connected with Deidrich’s shoulder, catching him in the neck with his backswing. With a puff of acrid black smoke, Deidrich disappeared.

Brian sat up in bed, gasping and sweating. The tape stopped rolling. Examining it closely, he saw it was only slightly further than when he’d woken before. Or had he really woken? Could that have been an extension of his first dream?

One way to find out.

He dashed downstairs. The house was quiet. No light shown under the kitchen door. He ran to the living room. The poker was in the rack by the fireplace. All the papers and books were on the table in the boxes. The coffee table was where it always stood, magazines neatly fanned. Cautiously, Brian went to the box and took out the map. Taking it to the dining room, he turned on the light above the table and spread out the worn parchment.

Scribbled in the corner, in tight, pointy script, he found what he was after. “To create fire to smite the damned.” A list of ingredients followed and a reference to a book that Brian remembered seeing in one of the boxes.

A frantic search revealed the book. Flipping the pages, he finally came across the spell. It was a deceptively easy one. Looking at it more closely, Brian saw the notation, “Power words must be sung.”

Smiling, he folded up the map, placing it in the book to mark the place. “Gotcha,” he whispered.

Brian was awake when the rest of the household got up. He’d made a pot of coffee and sat with a mug in front of him as he munched on a piece of toast. Dr. Meru came in right after Maribelle and Miles. He sat across the table from Brian, examining his face closely. Brian returned the scrutiny with a bland expression.

“We walked in dreams together,” Meru declared. “And yet, you are suspicious of me. What happened?”

“Why don’t you tell me what happened in your dream first,” Brian said calmly.

Miles sat along the side of the table, placing himself between Brian and Meru.

“As you wish.” Meru inclined his head. “We sat at this very table, talking about the ashes.”

Brian nodded. “Keep going.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 34

the man who wasnt thereChase’s mother is very ill and needs a pace maker. To help with the strength of the Circle, Dr. Meru, his wife and son all arrive.

“From what we can tell, his ancestors were given the task of warding and protecting the land. They built their home there and maintained the wards,” Heath said. “But something went wrong. We don’t know what, yet.”

“Fortunately, the sheriff is his cousin and is well aware of the situation. She’s put it down as a build up of methane from the swamp.”

“Does she also know there may be trouble at the Harvest Ball?” Willa asked.

“Yes. We’ve made the families aware of the problem. Just because they aren’t the ones with power, they’re not without skills and resources. This could go bad quickly,” Miles answered.

Willa covered a yawn, but Jackie’s sharp eyes didn’t miss it.

“We’ve kept everyone up long enough. Time for bed.”

Brian showed Dwight downstairs. Meru and Willa went upstairs with Miles. Jordan was waiting for Brian when he’d gotten Dwight settled.

“Mom’s waiting, so I can’t linger.” She pointed over her shoulder. “You did great today.” She took a step closer, smiling shyly at him. “I can’t get over how you just rushed in and took charge. Thank you.” She gave him a quick kiss.

Brian pulled her close, his long arms wrapped around her. “Thank you, too. I couldn’t have held up that wall much longer on my own.”

She tried to say something else, but he kissed her. Soon, she pulled away. “I’d better go.”

“Yeah. I love you, Jordan.”

“I love you, too.” Biting her lip, eyes sparkling, she ran upstairs.

Dwight cleared his throat quietly. “Sorry to bother,” he said. “Loo?”

Brian chuckled. “No problem. She had to go anyway. This way.” He showed Dwight the bathroom.

“Been together long?”

“About a year. Well, I’ve known her a year. Dating about three months.”

“Early days, then.” He nodded. “Good job. You’ll do all right,” he said with a smirk. “Already saving her life.” He winked and went in the bathroom.

Brian laughed as he walked upstairs. He took a quick shower and lay down. Something made him turn on the sound activated recorder. He’d tried for several nights to get something coherent, but his dreams were such a muddle, the recordings were too. Tonight, he had a feeling something more would present itself. He hoped it would be something that would give them an edge in the coming fight.

The sky was gray, troubled—a swirling mass of clouds and debris whirled tumultuously around him. Brian stood by the witches’ grave, alone. The ground beneath him shivered and shook. Pebbles skittered crazily as the earth growled. Ghostly apparitions joined the swirling fury around him, rising from beneath his feet. Bony fingers clawed at him, chilling his flesh. Bits of clothing and jewelry wrapped around the bones. Stretching and growing, the bones became skeletons. Soon, ragged flesh covered them, then hair and finally clothing. Sickly pale, with blisters and oozing boils, they whirled around him before settling on the ground one by one. Cold hands groped at him. Wicked smiles grimaced from the gloom as they moved closer. Reaching, tugging, jabbing….

With a yell of distress, Brian woke. It took a moment to realize that he was awake. The dream didn’t fade away, as so many had in the past. He picked up the tape player and saw that it had been running. Doing his best to describe what he’d seen, he talked until the tape ran out. Turning it to a new side, he lay back down and closed his eyes once more.

Sleep refused to come. He was still too jazzed by his dream. Suddenly thirsty, he wandered down to the kitchen. There was a light on, visible under the swinging door that separated it from the rest of the house. Although he didn’t get a bad vibe from it, he approached the door warily.

Dr. Meru sat at the table. He smiled at Brian. “I made tea. I had a feeling you’d be up soon. Tell me about the dream.”

“How did you know?”

“I could be enigmatic and say that it was strong vibrations, but the truth is that you talk in your sleep, rather loudly.” He chuckled. “It was a bad one.”

“Yes.” Brian told him what he remembered of the dream. It was beginning to fade, but he was still left with a disquieting impression.

“And what do you glean from this dream?”

Brian played with his teacup. “I think that witch grave is trouble. I think we need to figure out a way to contain it. That’s potential power for the dark side.”

“Agreed.”

“I think Cliff was working on that idea and they killed him. I think the answer lies in that stuff we took from the historical society and that’s why they tried to destroy it.” He met Meru’s dark eyed stare. “I think we’re in real danger.”

“I believe you. Now, what will we do about it?”

Brian shrugged. “You’re the holy man. What would you do?”

“I know what I would do,” Meru replied with a smirk. “I want to know what you think should be done—that I can help you with.”

“First of all, it’s going to take everyone. This isn’t a thing that one or two of us can handle.”

Meru nodded, taking a sip of his tea.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Caleb and Danielle!

Join us LIVE TODAY, July 10, 2017 from 4 – 6 PM EDT

It’s July and time to celebrate! To do that, we’ve invited two great authors to be on the show. Please join us in welcoming two newcomers to the broadcast.

Caleb Monroe is the author of Breaking Free, a teen reader book from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press. We’re so happy to have him on the show. Welcome, Caleb!

Also with us is romance author, Danielle Zwissler, author of The Man I’ll Marry, Mommy for Christmas, The Boy Next Door, Yuletide Bride and many more.

Join us for a fun filled show with lots of laughs!