Tag Archive | Dellaini’s Quote of the Week

When Tis Done – Part 2

When Tis Done coverThe teens are gathering in Jordan’s basement, waiting for Brian to arrive. Marrissa is already there, being her usual perky self. Jordan, on the other hand, isn’t.

“I’m a riot. It’s part of my charm.”

“Yeah, that’s how I always describe you,” Chase said as he came down the stairs behind her. “You’ll love Jordan, she’s a riot.”

Chase gave Marissa a chaste kiss on the cheek. She drew slightly away from him, not comfortable with the intimate display in front of Jordan. Face registering disappointment and disgust, he dropped on the faded couch next to Jordan.

“Chase Finley is a funny man,” Jordan replied. “I’ve always said that.”

He chuckled, tapping her lightly on the arm. “Where’s big Bri?”

“No clue. He said he’d be here half an hour ago, but hasn’t arrived yet. Not answering his phone, either.”

“You’re not worried?” Chase’s brow furrowed.

“He was watching Elise. I figure Miles and Maribelle aren’t home yet. He turns off his phone if she’s sleeping. He’ll get here.”

“Should we go looking?” Marissa hopped up, ready for action. “After everything that’s happened….”

“No worries, Mar. Brian and I have developed this…something. I know when he’s in danger or when he’s just late. It’s fine. If you see me hop up and start running, follow me.”

“Okay. If you’re sure. Chase and I don’t have that.”

Jordan nodded. She wasn’t surprised. The sense of one another hadn’t developed until they spent limitless time together, their relationship changing from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend. It hadn’t progressed to sex yet, but Jordan was determined to be eighteen before that happened. Brian didn’t like the idea, but he didn’t have much choice in the matter. They were destined to be together, he’d have to live with it.

The stairs creaked and Brian trotted down the steps, ducking at the bottom. He’d shot up again, towering over them all at six foot four. Jordan had squeaked out another half inch during the spring and summer, topping out now as a remarkable five foot three and a half. Even Chase’s younger sister, Kate, was taller than she was, and she wasn’t even twelve.

“Hey, babe,” he said, flopping on the other side of the couch. He kissed her deeply, his fingers trying to creep under the edge of her crop top.

“Hey, yourself,” she replied, grabbing his fingers and squeezing hard.

“I need those,” Brian said. “Sorry! I’m sorry! Ow! What the hell, Jordan!”

“It’s bad enough you grope me, but in front of Chase and Marissa, that’s poor taste.”

“Sorry. The crop top is tempting.” His mouth lowered to hers again.

“Other people in the room!”Marissa’s voice rose in pitch. She blushed a furious shade of red. “Goodness, Brian! Really!”

“He does it just to eat at you,” Chase said. “And me. Thanks for that, Brian. I can barely get a kiss, let alone a near fondle.”

Marissa’s blush deepened, tears springing to her eyes. “Well, Chase Dearborn Finley, I’m sorry I’m such a disappointing girlfriend! If I had any choice in the matter, I’d leave you for someone else!”

“If either of us had a choice, we’d never have started dating at all!” Chase countered. “My God, Riss. We’re supposed to get married and have kids. But I can’t even get a kiss, I can’t imagine how you’ll freeze me out when I want sex!” He held up his hand. “Oh wait, I already do. And my dick got covered with ice crystals.” He turned to Brian and Jordan. “Literally ice! She nearly gave me frostbite!”

Marissa burst into tears and ran to the laundry room nearby. Jordan got up, glaring at Chase.

“Thanks for that. Now, I have to go be sympathetic and girlie. You’re an ass, Chase. No—you’re a dick.” She stalked angrily after Marissa.

“Dude, get a fucking grip,” Brian said. “I know it’s not easy….”

“At least Jordan lets you kiss her! I get a peck on the cheek from no less than six inches away. I love her like my life—because I have to. Why did I get stuck with the religious freak?”

“She’s probably wondering why she got stuck with the horny jock. Honestly, Chase, you can be such an insensitive goob. She has no control over how she was raised. Her dad lived in denial of his powers a long time, trying to pretend that all this didn’t exist.” He waved his arms, encompassing the house and them, but meant vastly more. “None of us chose this path. It was chosen for us the second we were conceived. It’s like some kind of cosmic crap shoot.”

“You’ve been spending time with Jackie.”

“Yeah, and it’s helped my perspective a lot. You should try it. Then maybe you wouldn’t make your girlfriend burst into tears and try to freeze your dick.”

“No one else understands this relationship, Brian. I’m a football player, I’m supposed to date cheerleaders, fucking their brains out. Instead, I’m dating the class prude.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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When Tis Done – Part 1

When Tis Done coverWhen Tis Done is book 4 in the Miracle, Mississippi series. The teens are starting their senior years, each wondering what’s going to happen next. Will Deidrich return now that Opal’s been vanquished? Or will some other threat present itself?

“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly” ~ Macbeth, Act I, scene vii

PROLOGUE

August 28, 2015

He woke in a cold sweat, panting. The shadows of the room whispered and moved around him, reaching but not touching. Shaking violently, he shivered. The walls shook in unison, the ceiling cracked, dust of plaster dropping on his twisted counterpane. He didn’t dare move until it passed, or the tremors got worse. When they stilled slightly, his hand crept to his cellphone that lay on the bedside table. Hardly shifting in the bed, he scrabbled at it, searching quickly for the number he needed. It rang a few times before a bleary voice answered.

“It’s me,” he muttered. “It won’t stop! What do I do?”

The voice on the other end spoke calmly, almost hypnotically.

“Yes. I should be there by tomorrow night.” He paused, near panic rising inside him. “I can’t get there sooner. Believe me, if I could I would be already. I can’t take a train and I don’t dare fly—not like this! Driving is hard enough!” Clutching the phone, a whimper escaped him. “Yes. I’d like that. Thank you.”

He relaxed somewhat as the voice continued. Soon, his breathing regulated and he was able to stop shaking. “I’m better now, thank you. I’ll see you all soon.”

Rising, he went to the tiny bathroom off the somewhat shabby motel room. The fluorescent light flickered crazily, making his eyes hurt. Correction, making them hurt more. He already had a migraine to end all, that hadn’t quit for over a week. Sometimes, it was worse than others. He was sucking down migraine strength Tylenol and coffee by the pot, just to keep it at bay. Sleeping didn’t help, he just woke with the same headache. Dark circles ringed his eyes and he felt his stomach lurch.

Dry heaving over the toilet was non-productive and disgusting. He hated the taste of bile in his mouth, but he’d already vomited twice, losing his lunch and his dinner. Starting the shower, he stood in the stinging hot spray until his skin turned lobster red. The water turned to ice crystals, pounding in his unprotected flesh. Roaring with frustration, he shut it off, gasping against the sudden chill in his room.

He dried off and dressed, leaving a tip and the key card on the dresser. It was dark when he left the parking lot, but the faintest light graced the far eastern horizon. He hesitated to use the GPS, because it was even more erratic than usual—not that the GPS has ever really worked for him before, but now it couldn’t even seem to remember which way was north. That wasn’t too hard for him. North was behind him, far away from everything he’d considered important. Until three days ago, when the urge to drive to Mississippi became too compelling to bear, he’d considered North home. Now, still eleven hours away, he took to the road once more, traveling by the back ways so that whatever illness plagued him, wouldn’t harm anyone else. He’d found out the hard way, going through Seattle, that his peculiar problem could be devastating in heavy traffic. He’d nearly caused a major pile up when a semi cut him off and an SUV nearly rear ended him. It was then that he got of the interstate and took the back roads. It made his trip nearly twice as long, but it was safer—for him—for everyone.

He started music playing, some hard driving blues-rock to keep his mind off the trip and what lay ahead. He turned it up, listening to Jimmy Barnes screech as Joe Bonamassa wailed on the guitar. It set his toes tapping. He set his cruise, cranked it up more, and drove with a singularity of purpose he’d never experienced before. The compulsion grew stronger with every mile he covered. He wanted to go faster, but he was already doing seventy in a fifty-five zone. It was a narrow, dark road in the middle of nowhere.

All the more reason to go faster, a voice inside him said. Feel the road. Be free.

His hands moved automatically, taking off the cruise control. His right foot pressed harder and the powerful engine roared with renewed life. He became one with the night, with the dark. The sunrise to his left went largely ignored as he flew down the road, heading toward his destiny.

* * *

“Last Friday of summer,” Jordan groaned.

“Senior year starting,” Marissa giggled, clapping her hands. “Home Coming, Prom, Senior President elections!”

“I thought we did those last year,” Jordan complained. “Please tell me we don’t have to do that again!”

“Polly Chambers moved, sugar. Her mama got scared off by the recent unpleasantness.”

Jordan rolled her eyes when Marissa made air quotes by her head.

“I take that you mean the magical tornado at the school, not the Civil War,” Jordan teased. Many of the old ladies in town still referred to the War Between the States as the recent unpleasantness, which she found amusing. A hundred and thirty years wasn’t exactly recent.

“Of course, silly!” Giggling, Marissa swatted at Jordan’s feet, which perched on the edge of the battered coffee table in the Barrett’s basement. “Sometimes, Jordan, you are just too funny!”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Conclusion

the man who wasnt thereThe following morning, they all meet up at Brian’s house for breakfast to discuss what happened the night before.

“Opal was killed, but a skillful surgeon, who happened to be there—and one of the chosen—saved her child, Olivander. Luminous nearly turned his back on the babe, but his eldest daughter insisted that he care for the child. It was no fault of the baby that his mother was evil. As he grew, he developed some miraculous gifts, not the least of which were prophetic dreams.”

“How do you know all this?” Brian asked. “I didn’t get that much from Luminous.”

“Virtuous did a lot of talking over the last few days. He was most concerned about your Rider. He had a theory about that too.”

“I’ve been wondering about that,” Andre said. “It seems way too weird that we found that incantation with no real explanation. We assumed it was the Peddler.”

“When the Peddler was in Meru all the time,” Marissa said with a grin.

“It was Luminous, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. He knew one day that Opal would try to come back. Rather than letting that happen, he left clues in various places. It wasn’t until Cliff compiled everything, donating it to the historical society, that his secrets were revealed. He hoped that we would find his information and bring him back so he could fight Opal. Which he did. None too subtle, perhaps, but certainly final. The drawings we found were done by the Olivander, the Dreamer, drawn after the fact, of course.”

“This is making my brain hurt,” Chase declared. “What I wanna know is what’s next? Are we always going to be battling some hidden evil, or will we get to live normal lives from now on?”

“I’d never call my own life exactly normal,” Annabelle said. “But it’s certainly been quieter than yours. We had the odd crisis, but never anything this serious. I don’t know why your generation is plagued so much more with these things.” She shook her head sadly. “If I could take the burden from you, I would.”

Brian looked at the group of people to whom he had grown so close over the last year. “I don’t know about the rest of us, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even if someone walked up and said they could take this job from me, make my skills go away, I wouldn’t do it.”

“Why not?” Marissa asked. “It’s been nothing but trouble for you. You’ve nearly died more times in the last year than I can count.”

“Someone has to, Marissa. There will always be evil in the world, of one kind or another. I’m proud of how we’ve come together and fought against it. Even if nothing else ever happens to us, we can look back at this time and know we made a difference.”

“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Marissa replied.

“So, what now?” Sweet asked. “Do we just go back to being the class nerd or the jock or the social pariah? Where do we fit in now?”

“Wherever we want,” Brian replied. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not scared to be me anymore. I’ve battled elementals, saved the girl I love from demons. I’ve been possessed and survived. I’ve dodged swamp wraiths and thrown my coffee in the eye of an ice storm. Do you think that the high school cliques scare me anymore?”

Everyone laughed.

“You’ve got a point, Brian,” Ginnifer said. “When you’ve done what we have—which we can never in a million years tell—the things that used to be intimidating, don’t matter anymore.”

The adults finally called it a day, deciding to go their separate ways for relaxing naps. The teenagers gathered in Brian’s basement once more. Sitting around the ping pong table with cans of soda and bags of chips, they talked about everything that had happened.

“What about the heightened senses,” Jordan asked. “Are you still on a Rider high?”

“Not like I was, but I can still see, hear and smell things better than before. I don’t think that will ever go completely away. I have to admit, disconcerting as it is, it came in handy.”

Jordan kissed his cheek and he smiled almost sadly.

“I was wishing to be a normal teen just a few days ago,” Brian said. “But now, I don’t want the drama. All that angst and wondering if the girl I like is interested in me. I’m just as glad that we come in pairs, destined to be together. It takes all the stress of dating out of the equation.” He stretched, putting an arm around Jordan. “Yup, got me the best girl in the world and didn’t have to work to get her.”

Jordan rabbit punched him, making him gasp. Laughing, she gave him a kiss. “But you have to work to keep me happy. Just because it’s preordained doesn’t mean you can be a jackass.”

“I will never purposely be a jackass,” Brian promised. “I can’t be held responsible for the occasional judgment errors.”

“Like telling me you were Luminous?”

“Ah, lass,” he drawled. “But I was, just for a moment. Right before I kissed you.”

“You said that you kissed me.” She tensed up, ready to smack him again.

“He initiated it,” he admitted. “Your kiss is what brought me back. He’s gone for good, Jordan. I promise. Andre can confirm, no more Rider.”

“He’s right, Jordan. The Rider is completely gone. No more worries about the man who wasn’t there.”

“Thank God,” Jordan said. “Because I really hated that guy. He had shit taste in women.”

“That he did,” Brian said, kissing her. “But I don’t.”

THE END

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 55

the man who wasnt thereIt’s finally over and they managed to vanquish Opal. Luminous lingered for a little while, but Brian is back. Tired and hungry, they order pizza and head to Brian’s home to relax. His grandmother is there watching Elise.

“It went well?” Brian’s grandmother asked repeatedly.

“Yes, Mom, it went very well. We’re just so tired. We’re going to eat our pizza and go to sleep,” Maribelle told her, giving her mother a hug.

Annabelle Girard held her daughter close. “I’ve never been so scared. I was afraid we’d lose you all.” She went around the room, hugging and kissing each of them. She would have made a second round, but the pizza arrived.

The boys laughed when they saw that there was a whole pizza for each of them. The others shared. Not to be daunted by the challenge, Sweet and Brian ate every slice of their large pizzas.

Beyond tired, everyone went right to bed. Brian didn’t even remember falling asleep. He was marginally aware of his grandmother checking on him while he slept, but the rest of the night, he was oblivious to everything. He was so tired, he didn’t even care if he dreamed.

The next morning, he woke to the smell of good food cooking. The scent of his grandmother’s signature cinnamon bread swirled invitingly around him. He dressed and trotted downstairs. His friends and their parents arrived, each bringing a special breakfast treat to share.

They gathered around the table and were about to give blessing when there was another knock at the door. Brian, who was closest, hopped up. Chase walked in with his Aunt Cynthia and his mother. They all greeted Dora, hugging her gently. Brian gave her his chair and Annabelle got her a small plate of food. Chase served himself and his aunt before sitting on the floor next to Brian. They shared the coffee table in the living room.

“Your mom looks good,” Brian said.

“Yeah. We’re gonna be okay. We’re going to move in with my grandparents for awhile. Mom’s determined not to go back to our house. Honest to God, I can’t even think about it either. I’ll still be at school, so it’s not like I’m leaving.”

“Good. Cause I’d miss seeing your goofy grin every day.”

Chase laughed, throwing his napkin at Brian.

When breakfast was over, the children went outside to play with the dogs, who had popped over for a visit, leaving the adults and teens together.

“Now,” Annabelle said. “I want the full details. I know all hell broke loose, I could feel it. I may not be in fighting form anymore, but some things you never lose.”

“You’re the chosen one from your generation?” Brian was surprised to find that out. “I had no idea.”

“Yes. I’m surprised you never picked up on it. It’s not like I ever tried to keep it a secret.” She smiled, running her fingers through his hair. “But your grandpa and I never had to face what you have.” She hugged her grandson, kissing his forehead. “Oh, you’ve had us so scared!”

Once she’d calmed down, they talked about what they’d felt or observed. They were most interested in what happened to Jordan, Brian and Meru.

“It was like she stepped into me,” Jordan explained. “It was cold and dark, the place I went when she took over my body. She didn’t shut me completely off. I think she wanted me to see what she was doing to Brian. She had some sick reason to punish him and torture me.”

“So Opal was a witch? I wonder how that happened,” Marissa said.

“I have a theory on that,” Annabelle said. “There are often, even among the chosen, those who are hungry for power. They’re ambitious and will stop at nothing to get more. Mr. D. exploits that. He’s a master at temptation, seducing someone with their own desires. My guess is that Opal was one of those.”

“What a shame,” Jordan said. “There were vestiges of her there. I caught glimpses of her memories of her life with Luminous. They were good together.”

“But they were never in love,” Brian said. “Unlike you and I, they didn’t bond. Luminous was in love with another woman, but he couldn’t have her. She was married to his best friend. She died in the fighting. Opal killed her. That’s what he meant by losing the love of his life.”

“Man, that sucks!” Chase said. “He sure had a shit ton of kids for a man who didn’t love his wife.”

“Interesting thing about that,” Brian added. “This was a slave territory. Luminous was a preacher, but he was also the son of a wealthy man.”

“So, some of those children were born on the wrong side of the sheets,” his grandmother said. “Men!” She rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

“Enough about Opal and Luminous,” Jordan said. “I want to hear about Meru!”

Dr. Meru smirked, sitting up straight. Hands on his knees, his dark eyes glittering excitedly, he explained.

“My family line is full of spiritualists and shaman,” he explained. “We have the Druid blood line because of the people who settled from the British Isles, but there was magic in our blood before that. Virtuous Meru, as he was known in this country, was my many greats-grandfather. He was a descendant of prophets, priests and kings. I’m not sure why he was here, though I know he was a freeborn man. How he came to be in this area in 1713, I don’t know. I hope to find more about it later. In any case, he arrived near the height of the fighting. Skills he never knew he had, kicked in when Opal and Luminous fought. He didn’t interfere, by then it was too late. He knew Opal had to die in order for the others to survive. He proceeded as I did, drawing a magical symbol on the ground and cast a spell. You have seen first hand what happened afterward.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 54

the man who wasnt thereDr. Meru takes action against Opal, doing his best to destroy her crypt. The others help him. Once her attention is off the parents, they join the battle. Opal leaves Jordan’s body and Brian is able to attack her directly.

Brian jumped off the roof, curling into a ball as he struck the ground. The air left his lungs with a loud oof. Once he was out of the way, Meru advanced on Opal. She bled from half a dozen wounds, her mouth and nose were sealed. Her skin glowed from within with thousands of flickering colored lights. Meru squeezed his hand into a tight fist. The bonds around her tightened. Opal tried to scream, but couldn’t. Writhing against the vines, her screams turned to moans.

Meru slammed his fists together. Opal groaned, shuddering as she staggered. Yanking his fists apart, Meru tore her body in half. It fell in tiny, black pieces, scattering like ashes. A whirlwind formed, whipping the bits of Opal into a tight cloud. It swooped up, whirled and slammed into the top of the mausoleum. The building shook as the earth rumbled.

“Get down,” Brian commanded, controlling the mini-tornado with his left hand.

Meru flung himself off the top. The others fell to the ground. The earth groaned and growled, vibrating hard and fast. Seismic waves undulated the ground, shaking the mausoleum to dust. With an acrid puff of dust, it collapsed to nothing but a cloud of dust and debris. Bright flames burst from Brian’s hands, catching every mote of dust from the accursed building. Within seconds, it was consumed. Only a blackened pit was left.

Brian collapsed. Jordan crawled to his side. He was breathing, but his pulse was thready. Picking himself up out of the churned dirt, Claude stumbled to where Brian lay.

“Is he all right? Is he hurt?” Miles asked.

“Just exhausted, I think. Let’s get him in the house. Is anyone badly hurt?” Claude called.

A short triage showed that no one was seriously injured. There were a few cuts, bumps and bruises, but nothing more severe. Together, the men carried Brian into the house and put him on the kitchen table once more. The women scrambled around searching for ingredients in Dora’s well stocked cupboards. Jackie brewed a restorative tea while the others cleaned his many wounds with herbs steeped in holy water.

Brian came around a few minutes later, sitting up slowly as he looked around the kitchen. “Where is she?” he asked slowly. “Where’s Opal?”

“She’s gone,” Jordan said. “You and Dr. Meru totally destroyed that evil bitch!”

Brian hung his head. “So, it’s happened again. Once more, I murdered my wife.” Cradling his head in his right hand, he burst into tears.

They stared at him in stunned silence. Only the wind outside and the clock ticking on the wall made any sound. Jordan’s mouth dropped open, her eyes filling with tears. Her hand crept over the table, fingers twining with his. He raised his face, tears creating clean spots in the dirt and blood.

“Brian?”

“Nay, lass. Luminous. Brian is no longer here. I can’t feel him.”

“Where is he? Where did he go?”

“Opal took him. Brian dwells with her now.”

Jordan’s eyes grew wide. She clutched Luminous by the shirt, yanking him over to her. “You’d better have a way to get him back!” she yelled. “You bring him back! Bring him back!”

Luminous pulled her close, kissing her passionately. Jordan hit him with her fists, pushing him away.

“Don’t you dare touch me! How could you let her take him?”

Luminous grinned, blue eyes twinkling. He started laughing.

Jordan screamed, shoving at him. “That’s obscene, laughing at me with his voice. Kissing me with his mouth. I want him back!” She hit him again, landing a punch squarely in his gut.

Luminous laughed louder. “Y’all help me before Jordan flat out kills me. Babe, it’s me. It’s really me, I swear. Luminous is gone. They’re both gone.”

“Oh, you bastard!” She reached for the knife rack, intent on grabbing one, but Chase stopped her.

“Please don’t, those are Mama’s favorite knives. She’ll have your hide and mine if you kill Brian with one.”

Brian slid off the table, approaching Jordan warily. He took her hands. “Forgive me. When I first opened my eyes, I could feel him. It took a little bit for me to shake him off. I swear, I’m the one who kissed you. I promise.”

Jordan flung her arms around him, holding him tightly. “Don’t ever tease me like that again! I thought I’d lost you!” Weeping, she clung to him. “How could I get you back if they took you?”

The others drifted into the living room, giving them a few minutes of privacy. Claude checked Meru to be sure he hadn’t been injured. He was tired, but hale and hardy. They talked quietly about everything except what they had just experienced. None of them wanted to relive the horror of the last hour. Brian and Jordan joined them a few minutes later, arms around one another.

“I’m starving,” Brian said. “I’d kill for a feta and pineapple pizza.”

“Pepperoni for me,” Sweet said. “Double meat.”

Talking about pizza orders gave them a good way to bypass the subject they knew they needed to discuss, but were in no frame of mind to do. Still talking about pizza orders, they compiled a list and phoned it in. Chase, Marissa and Dwight volunteered to go pick it up. The others went to Brian’s house, since it was the closest.

Filthy and exhausted, they dropped on the furniture and floor of Brian’s home. His grandmother served beverages, waiting for an explanation.

“It went well?” she asked repeatedly.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 53

the man who wasnt thereDwight attacks the Rider on Brian’s shoulder, and it drops off, only to grow and become Luminous Cayce. He faces off with Opal, who has come out of the tomb. Unfortunately, Jordan gets too close and Opal manages to grab her.

A black bladed knife appeared in her hand. “Take another step, Luminous, and I’ll end her.”

He paused, considering the situation. “As you wish, Opal.” He stepped back.

“Are you f**king kidding?” Brian had revived. “What’s wrong with you?” He advanced on Luminous. “That’s my future wife that your evil dead bride has at knife point. Do something!”

“I am truly sorry,” Luminous said, grasping Brian by the shirt.

Before they could stop him, his spirit slid into Brian’s body. Opal did the same with Jordan and the two faced off. The blue flames reached for the sky, now encircling only them. Chase no longer controlled the flames, they swirled and danced at Jordan’s will. Moving apart, the two circled each other, looking for an opening.

Jordan’s hand shot out. Black goo landed on Brian, burning his skin. He laughingly shook it off. Though it left red welts behind, he didn’t seem to notice them. He hurled ice crystals at her, but she raised a shield of flames. The ice melted and Jordan threw it back, water droplets sharpened into tiny darts. Dirt rose between them and the pin shaped water drops were buried before they reached Brian.

Back and forth, they flung spell after spell, summoning the elements, countering one another. With Opal’s concentration on Brian, the adults shook off her influence. They let go of their children and stared at one another.

“What do we do now?” Harold asked. “This could go on for ten years. They’re equally powerful.”

“No,” Meru said. “She draws power from her resting place. We must destroy the mausoleum.” He raced forward, running to the dark edifice. Summoning earth, he built a mound tall enough to bring him to the top. He pulled something from his pocket and started writing on the roof.

Jordan’s arm halted midswing. The flames she was casting fizzled and dropped to the ground. Earth encompassed her feet, crawling slowly up her legs. She tried to move, but couldn’t. The dirt rose to her shoulders. Opal sprung from her as the dirt closed around Jordan’s throat.

“Brian, NO!” Jackie yelled. She hurled an air bolt at him, knocking him back.

Gasping and coughing, Brian lost his balance. Dropping to his knees, he lost control of the dirt. Following his last command, he covered Jordan. Maribelle sprang forward, water drenched Jordan. Air followed, blowing away the mud. Shivering and choking, Jordan fell to the ground.

Brian scrambled toward her. “Jordan? Babe, I’m here! I’m so sorry.”

“Get the bitch,” she whispered, pointing where Opal had retreated.

The ghost watched the action on top of her mausoleum. Others had joined Meru. He continued sketching, chanting. Teens and adults surrounded the structure. Marissa sang, her voice pure and clear in the chilly night. Andre joined her. They didn’t shape words, only sounds. It was the notes that held importance now. Anyone who could carry a tune, joined them. The air filled with their song.

Opal’s face twisted with fury. Screeching, she rose on a pillar of fire which carried her to the top of the mausoleum. The surface shocked her when she stepped on it, but she shook it off. Taking another step, she screamed, this time in pain. Her feet came to rest on the stone, unable to move. Flaming vines twisted around her legs and torso.

Meru finished his drawing. With a hop, he landed in the middle of it, head to the sky. His voice joined the song, winding power words throughout. Ribbons of color formed in the air. Strands of musical notes, each a different color, wove intricate patterns around him.

The mausoleum shuddered beneath him, but he continued to sing. Opal couldn’t move. The flaming vine held her, but now the multi-colored notes hammered at her, covering her body like splats from a paintball gun. Wherever they hit, a tiny indentation formed. The skin beneath hissed and smoked. The vines tightened. Opal screamed again, fainter this time.

The strands of notes attacked the mausoleum, diving into cracks and chinks in the stone, expanding like ice, they went to work. Tiny cracks grew into larger ones as Meru continued to sing. Brian rushed forward, placing his hands on the wall of the building. The others on the ground, joined him. Concentrating on the colors, he pushed with his mind, driving them in like blows from a hammer. The walls cracked and crumbled under the assault.

“Keep going,” he yelled, scrambling to the top.

Opal was completely covered with colors. The vines burned brighter, scorching her skin, but she fought as hard as ever. Here and there, the colors turned black, the vines faded. The areas grew larger. Soon, one hand burst free, pointing at Meru. He stopped singing, dropping to one knee.

Brian reached Opal, knife in his left hand. Luminous’ ring burned with blue fire. With a swing of his knife, he severed her arm. It fell at their feet, a pile of blackened bones which he crushed beneath his foot.

“I told you not to touch her, you bitch!” He stabbed into the flames, twisting his blade.

Opal roared, black goo gouting from her mouth. It burned where it touched him, but Brian didn’t falter. He stabbed her again, wrenching up before turning the blade again.

Meru regained his feet. Taking his stance once more, he sped up his incantation. This time, multicolored flames shot from his hands, forming bonds around Opal. Brian stabbed her again. When she screamed the flames jumped down her throat. More wrapped around her head, closing her mouth, sealing it.

“Get back!” Meru bellowed.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 52

the man who wasnt thereMarissa manages to get Brian’s seizure to stop. They run outside to find that the other boys have been pinned down by tree roots. Brian frees them and advances into the circle around the mausoleum, yelling a challenge.

Brian stood tall, shoulders back, head raised in defiance. His face held another aspect, more mature, weathered. “You wanted my attention, you’ve got it! Be not mistaken, I do not give my attention lightly and you will not enjoy this. Let it be finished.”

A ghostly figure emerged, becoming more opaque as it rose from the depths. It shimmered and coalesced into a solid form of a woman. Her body was draped in a pale gown that was gathered beneath her breasts. Her belly was covered in blood and it had seeped into the fabric of her gown. Her beautiful face held a deathly pallor. Her masses of dark curls were gathered on top of her head.

“Welcome, my love. Did you miss me?” Her voice dripped insincerity.

“Be gone, you evil witch.”

The woman stepped forward, fingers tracing the line of his jaw, winding in his blond curls.

Brian pulled her hands away, stepping back from her. “I hoped never to see you again.”

“Why, darling, what a way to speak to me after all this time. You can’t tell me you didn’t miss me a little bit.”

“The only thing I missed was having the life sucked from me.”

“Oh, my God,” Jordan gasped. “It’s his wife!”

“Whose wife?” Dwight gasped as he ran up next to her.

“That’s Opal, Luminous Cayce’s wife. The one who died in the battle. The one he said he was forced to kill. That bitch! She’s a witch and she’s after Brian!” Taking a running leap, she soared over the thorns, flattening them as she vaulted over. She landed on the other side, crouched and ready for battle.

“She’ll kill you!” Dwight yelled, following her.

“Like hell!” Jordan ran forward, iron stiletto in her left hand, a silver one in her right. She stopped a foot away from Opal in a fighter’s crouch. “Get away from him, you bitch!”

“Oh, who’s the kitten?” Opal crooned, stroking Brian’s jaw.

“Don’t touch him,” Jordan yelled.

“Darling, you can’t hurt me. Besides, he wants me. Can’t you see?” She gestured languidly to Brian. He stood still, slightly dazed, obviously aroused.

Jordan took a swipe at Opal with her iron knife. A wound opened in the ghostly woman’s arm. She laughed, shaking it off. The line closed, scabbed and fell away like dust.

“What a clever girl you are.” She turned to Brian. “Take care of her, darling.”

Brian advanced, eyes confused, face set and blank. Part of him fought the control Opal exerted, but he wasn’t quite strong enough to do it on his own. He reached for Jordan, big hands grasping. Suddenly, his legs flew out from under him as Dwight tackled him. The other man straddled Brian, fists pounding his right shoulder and above, in the curve of Brian’s neck. Not all the blows landed on Brian, some of them were aimed at what was apparently thin air. However, they connected with something. A dull thump sounded with each blow. It flashed dully with each hit.

Groaning, Brian quit fighting Dwight. “It’s me! Help me up!”

Dwight lifted Brian to his feet.

“Thank you. Now, let’s see about this bitch!”

“First,” Dwight said. “We’ve got a Rider to dislodge.” He held out his hand to Jordan. “Silver.”

Opal had retreated, watching the events unfold. The parents hadn’t moved, but they muttered something. The words made Jordan’s skin crawl. Opal’s smile shifted when Dwight poked the air near Brian’s right ear. The silver stiletto disappeared about an inch.

“Reveal,” Dwight commanded. “If ever we needed you, Rider, it’s now. Reveal yourself!”

Opal backed up another step, arms sweeping behind her, lips snarling. The adults chanted louder, spreading out to encompass the action a few feet away.

“This is your fault!” Dwight yelled. “Come out now, you craven, selfish, coward!” He poked harder, hand reaching toward Jordan.

She was already at his side, silver skewer in hand, she plunged it in beside Dwight’s. Both iron spikes joined the silver.

Brian screamed, staggering. Dwight caught him. Jordan steadied him. His friends ran forward as their parents closed ranks. Each pair grabbed at one of the teens. Chase slid through, placing himself between Jordan and her parents. Shielding her and Brian with his body, he summoned a wall of cold, blue fire. Their parents halted, puzzled by the sizzling cold.

Chase’s hand flew out, casting something in Brian’s direction. With another shriek, Brian went limp. A shimmer of movement on his right shoulder revealed the creature lurking there. It hopped off, limping. One by one, the skewers dropped to the ground, covered in dark blood. The figure grew larger, standing tall as he moved to counter Opal, who had stepped closer to them, despite the fire.

“You again,” he said, his voice a chilling blend of Brian and Miles’ voices.

“Hello, darling,” she crooned. “Happy to see me?”

“Hardly,” was the cool reply.

Opal stepped closer, her voice hypnotic and silky. Jordan was mesmerized by the beautiful woman. Dwight was occupied with Brian. Chase fought with their parents. No one saw Jordan take a step too close to Opal. The mottled arm shot out, grabbing the front of her shirt. She pulled Jordan before her like a shield. The hapless girl stood meekly, just as Brian had done. Whatever influence Opal wielded, it was stronger than all of them.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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