Tag Archive | Halloween Druids

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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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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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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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 33

the man who wasnt thereAfter reading some original documents, Brian discovers that the wording has been altered. Instead of quick lime and bitter herbs, the witches were buried with bitumen. They realize that this could have caused a massive explosion, possibly brought on when Cliff tried to ward his property. Brian and Jordan go to the hospital to be with Chase and bring him a care package for the night.

Chase nodded, his lips trembling. Tears rolled down his cheeks. “Thank you. He was pretty great.”

Jordan took his hand, kissing the back of it. “I’ll never forget whacking at that damn elemental with two green sticks covered in marshmallow goo.” She sniffled and laughed. “I was freaking out and you guys took care of me. I remember, I almost slapped your mother.”

Chuckling, Chase nodded. “Lord, I thought you two were gonna have a fight right there. Dad said that took a steel backbone. He told me, She might be little, but that girl’s got more fight than some folks twice her size. He admired the hell out of you.”

“I admired him too. His advice saved our parents from Mr. D. We wouldn’t have had any idea what to do.”

“Thanks so much for coming by. Marissa and her folks were here for awhile. It was good to have them, too.”

“Have they figured out what’s wrong with your mom?” Jordan asked gently, holding his hand.

“Yeah. She has a bad heart and it gave out when she saw him. She’s getting a pace maker tomorrow.”

“Do you want us here?” Brian offered.

“My grandparents will be here. I think it will be crowded enough with the four of them.”

“Yeah. Okay, but you call me if you need me.”

“Both of us,” Jordan added.

“Thanks. I’d better get back upstairs. They’re supposed to set me up with a bed. Tell your folks thanks for the clothing and stuff.”

“I’d have brought mine….”

“But you’re Sasquatch.” Chase chuckled, swatting Brian’s arm. “It’s cool. Thanks.”

Jordan flung her arms around him, kissing his cheeks. Sobbing, she ran out the front door. Brian bid a hasty farewell and followed her. He was only marginally aware of Chase heading back to his mother’s room. He found Jordan standing in the parking lot, choking on sobs, gasping for breath.

“You okay, babe?”

Instead of replying, she clung to him, burying her face in his chest. “That could have been you! Or one of our parents! None of us are safe. And what are we going to do, down by two people? This makes us weaker.”

“We’ll manage. I don’t know how, but we will. Maybe we will call in some of the others from the Network. That’s someone else’s job and worry, Jordan. If they need us to do something, they’ll tell us.”

Their parents were still reading through the books and papers when they returned.

“How’s Dora?” Maribelle asked.

“She needs a pace maker,” Brian replied.

“I was afraid of that,” Jackie said. “She’s been putting it off, saying she was too young. I used to work for a cardiologist. We had to put one into a five year old once.” She shook her head.

“What are we going to do?” Jordan asked. “We’ve lost two people. Are we strong enough without them?”

The adults exchanged a knowing look.

“What?” Brian hadn’t missed it.

“We’ve put out a call,” Miles replied. “We’re waiting for response. Not everyone can get away at a moment’s notice, but those who can, will come.”

As if on cue, car doors slammed outside. They heard a motor running in the driveway. Brian glanced at the clock. It was after 11:00. There were voices and movement on the porch. Miles joined him, peeping out the window. With a huge grin, he flung open the door.

“Bindjali! Welcome!”

Dr. Meru burst happily into the house, laughing loudly as he hugged Miles, pummeling him on the back. He gave Brian the same treatment. Behind him, a quiet, pretty woman waited.

“This is my lovely wife, Willa. And somewhere, my son. Ah, here he is. This is Dwight.”

“Welcome!” Miles ushered them in.

Willa was as quiet as her husband was loud. She had delicate features and looked more like she was from India. They weren’t surprised to find out that she was a native of Sri Lanka. Dwight was an interesting mixture of his parents. His skin was lighter than his father’s, but he had the same wide mouth and full lips. His upper face was much more like his mother’s, with black, arched eyebrows.

“My fiancée, Kiersten couldn’t join us on our flight, but she will be here by Thursday morning,” Dwight assured them. “We will all gladly fill in as needed.”

“Absolutely,” Willa agreed.

The additional noise woke Elise. She was much admired and passed around until she fell asleep in Dwight’s arms. Fortunately, Lucy and Katie stayed asleep.

“Do we know what happened to Cliff?” Meru asked, his loud voice now soft and gentle.

“We aren’t entirely sure,” Miles replied. “From what we can tell, it had something to do with the witches buried under his land.”

“What?” Meru tried to keep his voice down, but nearly lost it.

Elise fussed, nuzzling at Dwight’s chest. He passed her to Maribelle.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 32

the man who wasnt thereTheir investigation reveals a lot, including a recipe for acid rain, which was used by the witches. The Peddler intervened when the children were attacked, though not before.

“Mr. D.,” Brian surmised.

“Yes,” his father said.

“You think he’s back?” Jordan asked.

“The question isn’t if he’s back,” Heath replied. “It’s if he ever left.”

“Dad, don’t even say that!”

“Miles flipped a few pages in the book. He found a loose paper, folded in thirds. “There’s a map here,” he said, laying it on the table for them to look at. “Here we are.” He pointed to a spot on the map. “Here is the cemetery where they buried all the good people. And here,” he tapped the map a mile or so away from them. “Is where they buried the dead witches covered in a mixture of bitter herbs and quick lime.”

“Only that doesn’t say bitter herbs,” Brian said, staring at the page. “Someone scraped off the ink and changed it. Look, every time. You can see the surface of the paper is different.”

“Maybe you can see that, Sammy Super Eyes,” Jordan said. “To me, it just looks blurry.”

“I promise, it’s been changed.” He held the book up, gazing across the surface of the page. Blowing on it, he waited a moment before showing her.

“How did you do that?”

“No idea.”

“What does it say now?” Miles asked.

“Instead of bitter herbs, it says bitumen,” Jordan replied. “What’s that?”They talked about bitumen in the Bible,” Brian said. “Noah used it to seal the ark. It’s like tar, isn’t it?” he asked his parents. “Why would anyone use that on a grave?”

“More to the point,” Miles said, eyes not focused on anything. “Why would anyone build their family home nearly on top of a mass grave for witches?”

“What are you talking about?” Maribelle asked.

Miles pointed to their location, drawing a line with his finger to the location of the witch grave. Brian caught the significance right away.

“That’s Chase’s house!”

“Yes,” Miles replied. “Sitting nearly on top of a mass grave full of very pissed off witch ashes, quick lime and tar. Sounds like a bomb waiting to happen, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, but what set it off?” Brian asked.

“Cliff Finley, when he tried to ward his home from evil,” Heath replied.

“What does that all mean?” Jackie asked.

“It means it’s already started,” Heath replied. “Whatever’s planned for the night of the Harvest Ball is already in the works. And it’s up to us to stop it.”

They spent the rest of the evening poring over the books, gleaning as much information as they could about what happened. An automated phone call from the school board informed them that school was canceled for the rest of the week, due to damage at the school.

Not long after, they got another call from the hospital. It was Chase.

“They’re letting me stay with Mom overnight,” he told Brian. “Thanks for helping with Katie and Lucy. I couldn’t….” His voice broke and he sobbed.

“I know,” Brian said quietly. “Jesus, Chase. I can’t even imagine.” But he could. It was less than a year ago that he’d thought his own father was dead. He knew exactly how Chase felt. But Brian had been lucky, he’d gotten a reprieve. “Do you want me to come by? We can talk.”

Chase paused. Brian knew that he did but wouldn’t want to inconvenience his friend. Determined not to make it optional, Brian continued.

“Do you want anything to eat? Do you need clothing?”

“I guess? I don’t know, man. I can’t even think.”

“We’ll take care of it. Mom and Jackie are already putting together a care package. Hang tight, brother. We’re coming.”

“Thanks,” Chase gulped back a sob and hung up.

Laden with a basket of goodies and a satchel of clothing, Jordan and Brian went to the hospital. Chase met them downstairs in the lobby. It was past visiting hours, but they were allowed to linger there as long as they were quiet.

Jordan rushed to their friend, hugging him tightly. Chase sobbed on her shoulder. Brian enfolded them both in his embrace, long arms circling them with comfort. Soon, Chase could breathe again without gasping. They sat down and examined the basket contents. With each additional treat, Chase smiled a little more.

“This is great, thank you. Tell your folks thanks. I don’t know what I’m gonna do….”

“Dad called your dad’s parents,” Brian told him. “They’ll be here sometime tomorrow. Your aunts and uncles are already making plans, taking care of living arrangements, everything. You don’t have to worry about a thing.”

“Except the fact my dad is dead,” Chase mumbled.

“I’m so sorry,” Brian said, eyes brimming with tears. “I loved your dad too, Chase. He was great. He helped Mom and me when Dad was gone. He helped save our lives the night of the bonfire. He was a great teacher. I learned more from him than from my own parents, about control. I’m glad I had the honor of knowing him and I will miss him until the day I die.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 31

the man who wasnt thereHeath takes Jordan and Brian to the historical society building and it looks as if it was the target of the freak tornado. Doing a little subversive magic, Heath opens the door to let them in. Brian worries that they might have been seen.

“What if someone saw us?” Brian asked.

“No one saw us,” Heath replied confidently as he walked to the car.

“How do you know, Dad?”

“You kids really don’t get it, do you? They don’t see us unless we want them to. I didn’t want them to.”

“You’ve got to teach me how to do that,” Brian said.

“Not until you’re over eighteen,” Heath teased. “Oh, the glamour doesn’t work on us,” he added with a smirk. “In case you’re thinking it would be a cool skill to have so you could sneak out of the house.”

“Hadn’t even occurred to us, Dad,” Jordan replied.

“Right….” Heath didn’t sound convinced.

They put the books in the car and drove back to the house with the books in tow.

“Aren’t you afraid that whatever went after Cliff will come after us?” Jordan asked.

“Not when I have the best Casters in the state sitting inside,” Heath said. “The house is already warded. We’ll beef it up.”

“Cliff’s was warded too,” Brian said. “But it got him anyway.”

“Yes,” Heath said. “Something broached his wards.”

“Could the same thing broach ours?” Jordan asked.

He lifted her chin, gazing into her eyes. “Little bit, trust your old man.”

“Okay,” but she didn’t sound confident.

Heath explained what was needed. Maribelle, Jackie and Miles went around the house, reinforcing the wards and laying new ones, as Heath unpacked the books. Starting with the one that Jordan had found, they examined them for information about the witch trials.

Maribelle made a pot of tea and brought more cookies. They took turns reading from the massive books. It took some digging around, but Miles finally found a chapter that dealt with the beginning of the trials.

“In late September of 1713, things started going wrong. Freak weather, crops dying for no reason, illness.” He scanned the pages. “Wow. Listen to this.” He shifted uneasily. “It started with a whirlwind spinning through the township, uprooting trees and frightening cattle. Then, the first townspeople got sick. It was a fast acting illness, causing blisters and boils.” He shuddered. “Oh, that’s just not right.”

He wouldn’t read the descriptions, no matter how much they begged. He skipped the worst of it and found another spot to read. “This was followed by a putrefaction of the water. More illness, this time affecting animals as well as people. They traced these foul acts to three women, all of whom lived outside town, more or less in the spot where the Finley’s house stands. They were tried, hanged, their bodies burned and their ashes flung in a pit with bitter herbs and lime.” He scanned some more.

“Things settled down for a short time, then more stuff went on, equally as disgusting and appalling—and no, I’m not reading this aloud. It’s repugnant. More trials, more deaths. Only this time, there was an immediate retaliation. The town didn’t get all the witches with that sweep and they went on the offensive. A huge battle went on between the town people and the witches for an entire day. There were down to a handful of people on either side, when the Peddler intervened. He’d been in town a day or so, but didn’t choose to get involved until the children were threatened. Up to that point, the witches hadn’t harmed the children, but decided to launch an attack on them.

“None of the children died, but they were overwhelmed with fever and set upon by boils and blisters, like the adults had been earlier. The Peddler did his thing and badabing, they were healed. The wounded adults were healed. The witches were captured—it isn’t specific how. Something to do with his super powers, as far as I can make out. He stayed long enough to see that they were on their way to recovery and he left.”

He held up the book. “This one has pictures. One of the children was an exceptional artist. He drew pictures of what he saw.” He held up the book for them all the look at.

Hideous renditions of rotting corpses, evil faces and hanging bodies met their inquiring eyes. Jordan and the women looked away. Brian took the book, examining each picture carefully. Several symbols kept recurring on the pages, sometimes more than once in a picture. One in particular, occurred in every picture.

“What’s that?” he asked his father and Heath.

The men squinted at it.

“No idea,” Miles replied. “Heath?”

“It’s familiar.” He pulled out his phone and did a quick web search. “Just as I thought. That’s and alchemy symbol. Look, there are others. I think it’s a recipe,” he concluded.

“For what?” Brian asked.

“No clue. Jackie?”

She was busy copying the symbols down. Shaking her head, she frowned. “Bizarre. It really doesn’t make any sense. Whatever it is, it’s not something we want to mess with.”

“What is it, Mom?”

“As far as I can tell, it’s a way to seed the clouds to rain hellfire and blood.” She stared at her notes, appalled. “It’s a recipe for acid rain! No wonder they had blisters and boils. They were being poisoned from the sky!”

“How could you possibly do that back then?” Miles asked.

“You’d need someone with a great deal of power, control of the weather and a whole lotta hate.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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