Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

Once upon a time, there were two young cousins named Molly and Hudson, and their dog, a beagle named Daisy.
It was two days before Christmas and school was on vacation. The three of them were in the backyard building a snowman with their friends, Stephen the gnome and Amelia the fairy. Hudson and Molly, dressed in their warmest clothes, lifted the snowman’s head on top of his shoulders. Stephen, wearing a fetching scarf and his fancy hat with the feather, placed pieces of coal on the snowman’s chest. Amelia, wore a pretty green dress with white fur around the hem, her arms, and her wings. She flapped her wings so fast they buzzed as she flew around the Snowman’s head, tying a scarf around his neck. Daisy lopped through the snow with a carrot in her mouth so they could give the snowman a nose.
Once they were finished they stood back and smiled at their hard work.
“He looks happy.” Said Molly.
“He’s a lot taller than the one we built last year.” Said Hudson.
“Woof.” Said Daisy.
“Again, I’m sorry I forgot his hat at home.” Said Stephen.
“You can bring it tonight, for the sleepover.” Said Amelia.
Stephen agreed and everyone was happy.
Hudson’s mother came to the backdoor and called to Molly, Hudson, and Daisy. It was time to go inside and get some coco.
“Can you come in too?” Molly asked Stephen and Amelia.
“Please.” Said Hudson. “My Mom made her special honey cookies that you like.”
Stephen and Amelia thought about the offer.
“Woof.” Said Daisy.
“You’re right Daisy.” Said Stephen, who like all gnomes was fluent in dog. “We have to go to our homes to prepare for a visit from the Christmas Werewolves.”
“Oh my. That is tonight.” Said Amelia, her wings fluttering a little faster.
“What are Christmas werewolves?” Asked Hudson.
“I don’t think I’d like to meet werewolves.” Said Molly. “Even if they are Christmas werewolves.”
“It’s okay.” Said Stephen. “Christmas Werewolves are friendly.”
“It’s all a part of the peace accords.” Said Amelia.
“What peace accords?” Asked Hudson.
“Unlike today, where you two and Daisy are good friends.” Said Stephen. “There was a time when man and beast were at war.”
“Was it a bad war?” Asked Molly.
“There is seldom a good one.” Said Amelia. “Though truthfully, this was one of the worst.”
“Woof.” Said Daisy, nodding solemnly.
“That’s right Daisy.” Said Stephen. “Cites were destroyed and forests were toppled.”
“The ancient Cat city of Basttin disappeared into the sands of Egypt, West of Cairo.” Said Amelia.
“Man’s glorious city of Atlantis sank below the waves of the ocean.” Said Stephen.
“That’s awful.” Said Hudson.
“How did it end?” Asked Molly.
“One-thousand eight-hundred years ago, a peace was negotiated by Amber, Queen of the Faries.” Said Amelia.
“Ever since then, there has been peace.” Said Stephen.
“I’m glad it ended well.” Said Molly.
“It did.” Said Amelia.
“But why does that mean we’ll be visited by a werewolf tonight?” Asked Hudson.
“As part of the accord, a Christmas Werewolf visits each house with a pet.” Said Stephen. “He asks the pet how their humans have been treating them.”
“It only happens once every thirty years or so.” Said Amelia. “There will be a full moon on Christmas and then the Werewolves can visit.”
“You said you have to get ready.” Said Molly.
“That’s right.” Said Hudson. “Should we do anything?”
“It is tradition that you leave out a bowl of water and a snack for the Werewolves.” Said Amelia.
“That’s what we’re going to do.” Said Stephen.
Hudson’s mother called from the house again.
“We should go.” Said Hudson.
“We’ll see you tonight.” Said Molly.
“We’ll be back after your parents go to sleep.” Said Amelia.
“I’ll remember to bring the hat from my house.” Said Stephen.

*  *  *

That night everyone gathered at Hudson’s for their annual Christmas sleep-over. Molly and Hudson shared the large bed in the guest room. They curled up under the big fancy quilt with Amelia and Stephen lying under the covers nearby. Daisy was curled up at the foot of the bed snoring gently.
It had taken some convincing but Hudson had gotten his parents to put out a bowl of water with some ice. It sat on a small table with a plate of cheese cubes from a tray they’d gotten for their holiday party the next day.
The night was cold but the quilt was so warm.
Molly froze under the quilt suddenly wide awake. She thought she’d just heard something.
She looked at Hudson under the covers and saw that he had woken up as well. The two of them strained their ears, listening for sound in the room. A long time passed and they heard nothing. They must have imagined it.
There it was again. Was that the sound of someone in the room? Molly lifted the covers just a little bit and looked into the darkness beyond. There was nothing there it was… Wait. There was a red glow that cleared the darkness. Then the light went away.
Hudson gripped his pillow and Molly took hold of hers. They silently mouthed, “One…two…three.” They leapt from under the covers swinging their pillows at the huge shadow in the room.
As they jumped from bed they knocked Stephen from under the covers and onto the floor. Stephen sprung to his feet and grabbed the needle sized sword from his pile of clothes. Amelia pushed her way out from under the covers and rose into the air, her wings glowing bright enough to light the room.
Molly and Hudson gasped.
In the center of the room stood a massive werewolf. He was so tall that he had to hunch over to avoid the ceiling fan. His pants were straining against his legs, the lower halves of each pant leg shredded and torn to his knees. One of his feet was bare and the other had the remains of white sneaker that had ripped from the inside. Even if it had been whole the children doubted if the massive claws that pierced through the end would have been kept inside. Around his waist was a bright blue fanny pack fixed loosely in place. A bright red sweater with a white and green repeating pattern of Christmas bulbs was pulled tight across his chest. On the front of the sweater was sewn a picture of a smiling reindeer, its head jutting out of the inside of a great woolly Christmas wreath. As they stared at the werewolf and his sweater, the reindeer’s nose glowed briefly.
The werewolf held the bowl of water in its massive hand. His head bowed down and his tongue sticking out midway to the water. The werewolf pulled his tongue back into his mouth and swallowed. “Um. Happy holidays.” Said the Werewolf.
Stephen straightened and returned his sword to its scabbard. He bowed to the werewolf. “My apologies sir. I was woken suddenly and did not realize who you were.”
“Yes. Yes.” Said Amelia. “We are very sorry.”
“Woof.” Said Daisy.
The werewolf nodded. “It’s all right ma’am. It happens from time to time.” The werewolf started to unzip his fanny pack. “I have some sleep dust from the Sandman in here.”
“You know Kevin?” Asked Hudson.
“How is he?” Asked Molly.
The werewolf paused. “How do you know Kevin the Sandman?” He Asked.
“He helped our friend Morgan see Santa two years ago.” Said Hudson.
“Last year, he introduced us to Scot. That was so Grandma could see Granddad again.” Said Molly.
The werewolf knelt down. “Are you the ones who braved the dreamscape so a sick friend could visit Santa?”
“Yes.” Said Hudson
“The ones who gave up their Christmas wishes for their Grandmother?” Asked the Werewolf.
“We did.” Said Molly.
“Who entered the cave of lost items to find the Fairy Queens ball?”
“Woof.” Said Daisy.
The werewolf bowed his head. “Then you must be, Hudson, Molly, and Daisy. It is my honor to meet you.” Said the werewolf.
“Woof?” Asked Daisy.
“Of course.” Said the werewolf. “Where are my manners? My name is Keith.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you Keith.” Said Molly as she curtsied.
“Can you stay long?” Asked Hudson.
“I would love to.” Said Keith. “But, I have many houses to visit and many pets to talk to before the sun rises.”
“We understand.” Said Molly.
“Maybe next time.” Said Hudson.
“Maybe.” Said Keith. Keith turned to Daisy and said, “Grrl.”
“Woof.” Said Daisy.
“Grrl.” Said Keith.
“Woof.” Said Daisy.
“Grrl?” Asked Keith.
“Woof.” Said Daisy nodding her head.
Keith stood up. “Thank you all. I’ll file my report with the head office. We’ll know how everything went in the morning.”
“What happened?” Asked Hudson.
“I cannot say.” Said Keith. “You’ll have to wait for morning like everyone else.” Keith lifted the bowl to his mouth and lapped up some of the water. Then with a loud crunch he bit one of the ice cubes in half. “Thank you for the water. The ice was particularly welcome. Cold water is more refreshing.”
“You’re welcome.” Said Molly. “Daisy likes ice in her water so I thought you might like some too.”
“I also liked the cheese cubes.” Said Keith. “I appreciate the different varieties.”
“I wasn’t sure if you liked a certain one. This way you had choices.” Said Hudson.
“Thank you.” Said Keith. “Usually all I get is American, which is nice, but variety is good too.”
Keith smiled at the children and helped each of them back into bed and tucked them under the covers. He then helped Stephen and Amelia under the blankets. Lastly Daisy jumped up on the bed. Daisy walked up to Hudson and Molly. She licked each one on the nose. Then she walked in a small circle, being careful not to step on Amelia or Stephen. When she finished, Daisy lay down and rested her head on her paws.
Keith walked over and slid the window open. “Good night.” Said Keith. He then climbed out the window, shut, and locked it behind him.
As the friends lay in bed gently drifting off to sleep Hudson asked. “Stephen?”
“Yes.” Said Stephen.
“You could understand what they said?” Asked Hudson.
“Yes.” Said Stephen.
“Can you tell us?” Asked Molly.
“No.” Said Stephen.
“It’s not allowed under the accords.” Said Amelia. “You’ll just have to wait until tomorrow.
Daisy yawned. Soon the rest of them yawned and slowly fell asleep one by one.

*  *  *

The next morning the friends woke up and found that something had happened in the night. The bowl that had been filled with water for Keith the night before was now full of candy, treats, and a squeaky dog bone.
“What’s all of that?” Asked Hudson.
“Where did it come from?” Asked Molly.
“Hooray.” Said Amelia, her wings sparking in a rainbow pattern.
“Good show.” Said Stephen tossing his pillow in the air.
“Woof.” Said Daisy.
“What happened?” Asked Molly.
“The peace continues.” Said Amelia.
“How do you know?” Asked Hudson.
“Daisy’s still here.” Said Stephen. “Plus, you’ve been rewarded for your good treatment and loving care for Daisy.”
“That’s what the bowl of things is for.” Said Amelia.
“The candy and treats for you.” Said Stephen.
“Woof.” Said Daisy taking the squeaky toy from the bowl and happily chomping down on it.
“That’s right.” Said Stephen.
“What do you mean our treatment of Daisy?” Asked Hudson.
“You take care of her.” Said Amelia.
“You feed her, walk her, clean up after her, and play with her.” Said Stephen.
“Squeak.” Barked Daisy, her new toy still in her mouth.
Stephen smiled. “That’s right. She said it’s because you love each other.”
“Every pet and child that love one another, plays together, and treats each other well is how the peace is maintained.” Said Amelia.
“As long as people take care of their pets, love them, play with them, and help them, the world remains at peace.” Said Stephen.
Molly and Hudson hugged Daisy. Daisy dropped her new toy and gave each child a big lick on their faces.
After breakfast, all of them went outside to play with Daisy’s new toy. To once again keep the peace.

Happy Holidays to everyone. May the Christmas Werewolves find you joyous. Let there be peace on Earth and good will to man and beast.


Thank you for reading.
If you're interested in more Christmas stories you can find them at the following links.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Timothy Lorde and Hell's Foundry

I've been gone for a while. School has kept me busy. I still wanted to share a story with you folks for Halloween. It's a new character I've been working on and I hope you like him.

Timothy Lorde and Hell's Foundry

The roar of machinery filled the air. Susan could barely hear the rest of her coworkers over the smelters as they went about their vile deed. Each smelter was melting down the raw steel that was forming the vicious creatures that now rampaged through the mill. The first monster had walked out of the molten sludge nearly two hours ago. Several more had appeared and now they hunted the last of the workers still trapped in the plant. She was huddled with four other people hoping they wouldn’t be found; certain any second they would be discovered. Then it would be nothing but slashing blades and crushing fists.
She looked back at the others, two men from the floor, a woman from management, and Henry the janitor. Susan worked in the mailroom; a summer job while she was on vacation from school. She had been down here for the opening of the plant. When everything went wrong she panicked and ran. If the group hadn’t found her and pulled her behind these shelves; she wasn’t sure what would have happen. She wondered who the people she was with were. She thought she’d heard the men call each other Larry and Joe; they were dressed like line workers. The woman she thought might be Miss Baker from accounting, but she wasn’t sure.
She looked out from behind the meshwork of shelving they used for cover and wondered if there was a way out of the building, if she’d see her parents again, and how could this have happened. It had been such good news six months ago when the steel mill had reopened and the dying town had seemed saved. After rehiring the staff and spending six months retooling and updating the plant they prepared to start the line. When the first switch had been pulled everyone cheered; to watch the line moving and the men working was such an amazing experience. Then the first batch of formed steel came out of the caster and there was another cry of triumph.
The cry broke off when the thing emerged; the size of a large man made of white hot steel. It slid through the opening that was supposed to produce a long sheet of 9 inch thick steel. Whatever it was it let out a scream of rage that sounded like a blast furnace. It turned on the crowd and opened its mouth spewing molten steel on the people assembled. Dozens of people died almost instantly a few lived long enough to scream in pain and terror. More of the creatures climbed out of the smelter and moved into the crowd bladed hands slicing through the people too slow or too shocked to escape.
That was an hour ago. Now they manned the line pushing more steel through and making more of themselves. Most of the workers had been killed and Susan worried what would happen next. Her small group had managed to avoid detection but getting to the exits had been difficult. Everywhere they went the creatures walked the aisles searching for anyone they might have missed.
Larry, or maybe Joe, tapped her on the shoulder and pointed down the aisle at a young man in his early twenties. He was walking down the aisle looking around as if there was nothing at all wrong; occasionally checking an oversized sheet of paper he was holding. She prepared to rush out and grab him, drag him to the safety of their hiding spot, and maybe save one more person. Just as he got near enough that she felt safe jumping out one of the creatures rounded the corner. The air shimmered around its molten frame and she watched in horror as it turned to face the young man she could no longer save.
The creature’s mouth opened and its scream nearly drowned out everything else around them. Molten steel spewed from its mouth and streamed down the aisle towards the unknown man. She tried to look away not wanting to see another killed in such a grisly fashion but her eyes were transfixed. At the last second, as the steel hurtled towards his head, a gust of air from an exhaust fan pushed the sheet of paper from the young man’s hands. In a swift movement he knelt down to pick up the paper. The stream flew over his head nearly missing him and slammed into a mass of pipes coming out of the far wall.
The young man moved to one side as the stream of molten steel died down and the creature raised its bladed hands and began to move forward towards the young man. A loud crash echoed out as the far wall burst open and a fountain of liquid rocketed from the hole the creature had made. Susan heard Larry cry out, “the coolant tank must be on the other side of the wall.” The coolant slammed into the creature knocking it back a few feet. Steam hissed off its molten skin and the scream of hardening steel filled the air.
The creature’s movements became jerky and uncertain as it began to cool and in what must have been a moment of panic molten steel fountained from its mouth in a wide arc. Susan and the others jumped back as the stream cut through the shelving in front of them destroying the corner they were hiding behind and melting a portion of the wall behind it.
The power behind the coolant gradually fell and the stream trickled down to nothing. Susan looked on as the young man knelt and checked his sheet of paper; now ruined on the floor. He then stood and walked to the creature, pulling a hammer out of an inside pocket on his leather jacket. He circled the now immoveable form as if inspecting a statue at an art gallery. He stopped, as if he’d found a place that satisfied him. With a swift hand he took the hammer to its neck knocking the head off. He then stepped over the creatures head to the shelves in front of Susan, ripped open a box, and removed a handful of shop rags. Using the rags he picked up the displaced head and walked over to the hole in the wall the molten steel had made during the creature’s death throes.
Very careful to avoid the still hot and slightly molten edges of the hole burned in the wall the young man stepped through the hole. After a few seconds he leaned out the hole and looked at Susan and her group. He shouted to be heard over the din of machinery, “well, are you coming or are you going to stand there all day and wait for them to find you?” Shook out of her stunned calm Susan started walking towards the hole looking back to make sure everyone was following her.
They stepped through the hole into the plants machine shop, used to make repairs and manufacture parts for the line. She turned to help everyone through the hole. When the last person was through she turned to look for the young man. He was in the process of dismantling the head with a pair of hand tools. As she crossed the room to get near him she saw that he was pulling the jaw of the creature off and muttering to himself. With the jaw removed something small fell onto the work table. Susan looked at it, a small stone with some sort of odd blue design carved into one side.
The young man picked up the stone and smiled. “That’s how they’re doing it; very impressive. What do you think Susan?”
How did he know her; Susan looked at the young man and wondered who he was. She was sure she’d never seen him before and he certainly didn’t dress like he belonged at the plant. He was in his mid-twenties, wore comfortable street clothes, jeans and a lose button shirt. He had a nice yet worn leather jacket.
So many questions dashed through her head that it surprised her that the one she asked was, “who are you?”
“Timothy Lorde, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
A loud crash signaled the shelves they had been hiding behind crashing down as the melted corner gave way. Boxes and debris piled in front of the hole blocking the way. Timothy straightened, grabbing the stone from the table and stuffing into his pocket, and then he turned to the two floor workers. “Joe, Larry, gentlemen, you saw how long it took to produce one of the golems, how many could they have made in the thirty minuets since they started?”
Larry rubbed his chin. “That’s not how the line works; it runs constant so when the first one comes out the next one is right behind it. We don’t finish one job and start the next.”
“What you should be worried about is how quickly the plant works,” said Joe. “Them golem things look to be about six foot tall. If you figure the plant can roll one of them out with the same speed it can do sheet metal, it’ll take forty-five seconds to do one. That means in half an hour there would be…”
Miss Baker’s voice was barely audible. “Forty, there are forty of those things.”
Timothy knocked on the head on the table. “Thirty-nine, but thank you Julie.”
Susan moved forward. “How do you know who we are?”
Timothy smiled. “A mix of cunning, deduction, genius, and skill. That and you’re all wearing lanyards.” Timothy slapped his hands together and turned around looking at the confines of the machine shop. There were two doors leaving the room one large, airtight one and a second door, made of wood. Timothy pointed at the airtight door. “That one leads back to the shop floor and certain death, so we clearly can’t choose that way.” He pointed at the wood door. “That one leads deeper into the offices where the evil organization bent on world domination await us, so we clearly can’t choose that door.”
Henry coughed. “How do you know they’re an evil organization?”
“An excellent point Henry. Let’s go ask.” Timothy strode to the door and threw it open, walked outside turned left and disappeared. Everyone stared at the empty space and after a second Timothy appeared again, walking in the other direction. Susan and the others began looking at one another not sure what to make of what just happened. Timothy reappeared at the door. “It occurs to me that without my map I don’t know where the boardroom is. Would you folks mind showing me the way?”
Susan stared at the stranger who wanted to go and face what he thought was an evil organization and wondered how he could be so flippant. “What is wrong with you? There are people dying in horrible ways out there and you’re telling jokes. Do you understand how serious this is?” She grabbed the golems jaw off the desk and hurled it at Timothy; it missed him, bouncing off the wall on his left.
Henry put his hand on Susan’s shoulder. “There, there Susan, it’ll be okay. I’ll show you the way out, mister.”  
“Good man, Henry. I knew I could count on you.”
Susan reached up and put her hand over Henry’s and for a moment thought about what would happen after he left. What would become of him when he was alone with this stranger in the halls and offices of the building? “We’ll all go. We stay together from this point on.”
Timothy smiled at Susan and nodded his head. “Sounds like a solid plan.” He stepped away from the door to give the others enough room to walk through. You were going to show me to the boardroom.”
Henry walked out first and then turned left down the hall, leading the group deeper into the building. Susan was the first to follow, checking to make sure everyone else was behind her. As she walked, she noticed that Timothy had fallen into step next to her. They walked along following Henry as he rounded corners, walked hallways, and stepped past offices. Everywhere they went Timothy opened doors and peered down corridors.
They’d been walking for ten minutes when Timothy opened the door to someone’s office and Susan slapped him on the arm and whispered harshly. “What are you doing?”
Timothy smiled at her as he closed the door. “I’m looking in offices.”
“Two possible reasons. First, I’m impossibly nosey and love looking places I shouldn’t. Second, I’m looking for other survivors, people like us who escaped and are hiding in the offices.”
Susan looked back down the hall they’d just come from, at all the doors they’d passed, and wondered if anyone was behind a door they didn’t open. Was someone hiding behind the ones they didn’t look through? “Do you think there are people hiding here?”
“No, these doors are all unlocked. If they were hiding they’d have locked the doors.” He opened another office door and looked inside.
“Then why do you keep looking?”
“I could be wrong.”
They approached a corner and Henry began to walk around it when Larry whispered from the back. “Wait a minute. Should we be walking around like this? Shouldn’t we be sneaking in case those things are around or someone’s watching?”
Timothy opened another door. “Not a problem. There aren’t any cameras, I’ve looked and we haven’t passed a single one. There’re no golems around here because the white hot steel would damage the carpets, at the very least we would have smelled burnt carpet. No. Henry is right to lead us along as if there was nothing to be afraid of.” He smiled at Henry. “Keep going, everything is fine.”
 Henry nodded and rounded the corner. Susan looked and Timothy again. “You keep calling those things golems, what is that?”
Timothy smiled at her. “You ask interesting questions.” He pulled the stone from earlier out of his pocket and reached inside his coat and pulled out a small metal file and began working on the stone with it. “A golem is a magical creature, typically made of stone but metal works as well. It’s formed in the shape of a man and can frequently be mistaken for a statue. If you know the right incantations and rituals you can bring one to life by putting a piece of paper in its mouth with instructions written on it. The creature comes to life, follows the instructions written on the paper, then returns to its home, and becomes dormant waiting for another paper with instructions.”
He held up the stone and showed it to her before working on it again. “These creatures are impressive because the person who made this one set it up so these stones function as the piece of paper. This stone is connected to something else, I’m guessing a larger tablet or monolith. If they can change that thing and it will change the instructions on this rune stone. That way the golems never have to return home or go back to a dormant state.” He looked at the stone he was carrying and moved the file over it once more before putting it back in his pocket.
“What were you doing to that one?”
“Fiddling. I like to keep my hands busy.”
They rounded a corner into a long hallway. The hall was lined with red carpet, fancy vases with bright flowers rested on tables every several feet. At the end of the hall was a set of thick oak doors.
Timothy walked up and patted Henry on the back. “Thank you Henry. It would have taken me ages to find this room on my own.”
Henry smiled. “You want us to go in there?”
Timothy reached into his jacket and pulled a set of long heavy plastic zip ties out of his jacket. “Honestly, I’d love to have you help me Henry, but it’s going to be real hard for you to do that after I bind your hands and lock you in that last office we passed.”
Susan stepped between Henry and Timothy. “What are you doing?”
“I’m sorry Susan, but he’s one of them. I wasn’t sure at first but the closer we got the more clear it became. There’re no cameras. Every evil organization uses something to monitor their people and if it’s not cameras then it’s got to be something, someone else. A janitor is perfect for it, they can go anywhere, everyone knows them, everyone ignores them, and people will talk to them about anything. He knew exactly where this place was, he didn’t slow down, didn’t pause, didn’t think about which direction he was going; he just walked right here.”
Susan began to object but Henry put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m not sure why you think me capable of these things friend but I promise you, you’re wrong about me. None of what you said means anything; I knew where this is because I do the cleaning around here. That’s why I know where everything is, not because I’m part of some organization.”
Timothy sighed. “The reason I know you’re lying, Henry. First, there are no windows or exterior doors in anything we’ve passed in the last ten minutes. Second, this place is a maze and we’ve made nothing but right turns for the last ten minutes. Finally, fifteen minutes ago, when I called the board an evil organization, you said no we’re not. Not they, them, the board, but we’re not. That’s why I know you’re one of them, because for a minute you forgot, for one second you forgot, that you were dealing with Timothy Lorde Servant of Chance and stood up NS nnounced who you really are.”
Henry looked at Timothy for a second and then without a word turned and ran for the double door at the end of the hall. Timothy stepped forward, grabbed a vase off a table, and hurled it at Henry striking him in the head.
Timothy walked down the hall pulled Henry to his feet and bound his hands behind him. Afterwards he walked him to the office with Henry cursing and threatening him the entire way. Henry swore that the organization, something called the Brotherhood of the Black Goat, would hunt him down and destroy him. He called out to odd names that Susan thought reminded her of things from old H.P. Lovecraft novels. Timothy walked Henry through an office door and sat him behind the desk. Everyone watched in silence as he closed the office door and pulled a ring of keys out of the pocket in his jacket and locked the door. The knob briefly glowed blue and then Timothy returned the ring to his pocket.
“For the next twenty-four hours, the door will only open from this side.” Timothy smiled at everyone in the hall. He pointed at a door on the opposite side from Henry’s door and said, “I won’t force you and I won’t lock you in but I think you should all go in there and hide. What I’m about to do is very dangerous and I can’t ask you to come with me. Honestly, you shouldn’t go where I’m about to. I wish I could get you all out now, but as I said, there haven’t been any windows for ten minutes.”
Susan stood in the hallway with the others and looked back and forth at the others waiting for someone to make the decision. She wanted so very much to go into the office and be safe but felt it would be failing in some way to be the first. When Jennifer stepped to the door and opened it then turned around and whispered, “thank you,” before going inside Susan allowed herself to breathe again. Larry and Joe both shook Timothy’s hand before walking into the office. Susan looked at Timothy and walked to the door, reached out and grasped the handle, and closed the door from the outside.
She turned and faced Timothy. “I’m going with you.”
“You don’t have to; no one will think any less of you.”
“I will.”
“Very well then.” Timothy took her hand and walked down the long hall towards the thick double doors at the end.
Susan walked quickly behind Timothy her nerves crawling up her spine. “I can’t believe I missed when he said we’re.”
Timothy looked back long enough to smile at her. “You didn’t miss it. He never said it. I lied to get him to reveal himself.”
“If he didn’t make a mistake how did you know it was him?”
“In the entire history of the world, no janitor has ever actually worn a lanyard.”
Susan’s breath caught in her throat. “How did you know your trick would work?”
They reached the door and Timothy tried the knob, finding it locked he reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out his ring of keys. He started flipping through the ornate keys, each made from exotic metals, containing precious stones, or carved in intricate patterns. “People like Henry all have the same weakness, and I know a trick to beat them. They all assume they’re the smarter than I am.” Timothy stopped moving keys and held up a long ivory key with an inset onyx. “Skeleton key.” He turned and unlocked the door.
“What’s the trick?”
Timothy opened the door a crack and turned to smile at Susan as he returned the keys to his pocket. “I always assume they’re smarter than I am. It makes me work harder to win.” Timothy opened the door enough to slip inside and motioned for Susan to follow.
Susan had never been inside an actual board room before; she’d seen them on television and in the movies. Like most people she had an idea of what the average board room looked like. The massive circular chamber with stone walls and a domed ceiling held up by eight carved stone pillars was the farthest thing from her expectations as one could get. The room was filled with people, thirty or so, all in black robes standing around a pedestal holding a velvet cushion bathed in an otherworldly white light.
Timothy pulled her to one side of the door to a small alcove with a curtain over the entryway. He gave her a reassuring smile. “There’s a rune stone on that cushion; I’m betting that’s the master stone I’m looking for. I’m going to replace it with the one in my pocket which, if I’m as good as I think, will have a very interesting consequence.” He took his jacket off and began pulling the sleeves inside out as he did. “I’ll need you to stay here. I need to get inside the circle and there’s no way I can take you with me.” With his jacket turned inside out he pulled it back on and it was now an exact copy of the black hooded robes the people in the room were wearing.
“How did you do that with you coat?”
As Timothy fastened his jacket/robe he smiled at her. “My jacket is infinitely reversible.” He pulled the stone out of his pocket and walked out of the alcove.
Susan watched from the alcove as he merged with the group, no one noticing they had added an extra person. She tried to follow him as long as she could, but there were so many people moving in small groups; it was quickly impossible to tell which robed figure was Timothy. The seconds ticked on and she held her breath, wondering when he would try and make the exchange. Then she wondered had he made the exchange and she missed it. Maybe he couldn’t make the exchange, maybe he’d been spotted and they hauled him away before he could do anything or make a sound, or maybe he was one of…
“You, over there; what are you doing?” One of the men in robes yelled out at another who was a little way off from the rest of the group and headed towards the pedestal. The group as a whole turned to look at he lone figure who was looking around and then pointed at himself as if to ask, “who me?”
The man that had yelled stepped toward the outlier, “yeah, you. Why are you approaching the pedestal?”
Susan stepped out of the alcove and screamed at the top of her lungs. “There’re monsters in the plant. Run for your lives.”
She wasn’t sure what she had hoped to accomplish, but having everyone in the room turn to look directly at her was probably the best she could have hoped for. Even the person in the center that she was certain was Timothy had turned to look. It was a second of shock and Timothy recovered first. He turned and jumped towards the pedestal grabbing the stone off the cushion and replacing it with the one in his hand. The white light turned red and a loud thrumming sound echoed through the room. As the assembled cultists turned Timothy pulled a handheld nutcracker from his inside pocket, shoved the old rune into, and with both hand crushed down on the nutcracker snapping the rune in half.
The talkative one pulled his hood back revealing a bald head with a massive tattoo of a spider down one side. “What have you done?”
Timothy pulled back his hood. “I imagine I’ve ended your spell, destroyed your army of golems, and released the souls you’ve collected. This most likely broke your contract with what ever dark god you’re dealing with this week, and voided your contract putting all of your souls in jeopardy.”
As if on some cosmic cue, the domed roof wrenched backward as if being peeled like a giant stone banana. A dark, star filled sky swirled above them and Susan found she couldn’t look away. The cultists began to scream, some falling to their knees, as tendrils of night oozed over the edges of the dome and slithered into the room, like a pack of serpents moving towards their prey. Susan barely felt timothy’s hand on her arm as he pulled her away and ran her through the door. As the left the board room, Timothy turned and slammed the doors closed then pulled out his odd ring of keys from earlier and locked the door behind them. The knob glowed blue.
Susan dropped to her knees, covering her ears, trying to keep out the sounds of people pounding on the other side of the door, and their screams for help.
When the screaming was over and quiet had fallen over the hallway she looked up at Timothy. “I’m sorry you had to hear that Susan. If I’d let them out that thing that was after them would have followed and destroyed anything and anyone that got in its way.” He patted her on the shoulder. “When you feel all right, go get your friends, go home, and sleep as best you can.”

With that Timothy walked away pulling the sleeves through his robes and revealing a black hoodie, that he put on and quickly used to cover his head. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been there, sitting on the floor, but when she finally was able to she walked back to the room with everyone else and let them out. She told them it was over. She took a moment to look across the hall at Henry’s office, the door was open and he was gone, she was never certain where he’d gone or what had happened to him. She looked for Timothy, and though she never saw him again, she was never quite certain how she felt about that. 


Well, I hope you enjoyed the story. Please feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you thought. Have a happy and safe Halloween. Beware the Order of the Black Goat.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Paranormal S.W.A.T. #8 Epilogue

The events of this story take place immediately following the events in Down the Murder Hole. While I don't think it's necessary to have read that first to enjoy this, it might help answer some questions you have. It will help to avoid any spoilers for that story as some of the events are discussed here. If you wish to see the team from the very beginning you can do so here

Paranormal S.W.A.T.
The Wonderland Hangover

Captain Albert Card, team leader and sorcerer, stood in the elevator scowling at the reflective inner walls of the small mechanical room. He hated peoples need to see themselves so badly that they put mirrors on any flat surface. He once again considered how to remove the glistening metal walls from the apartment complex without anyone noticing. At least he was alone and didn’t have to contend with any of the buildings residents; though solitude was rarely unheard of at 2 am.

The elevator jerked to a halt at detective Sarah Parker’s floor and gave off a happy ding as the doors opened causing Albert to growl. Albert hoped that Sarah was waiting for him and would see how annoyed he was at the summons. Sadly, the way was empty. He stalked down the corridor to her door mumbling to himself, “Come over right away. Only you can help me. Don’t tell Griffin.” As if he had nothing better to do with his time than prattle on about the latest ill-chosen relationships, like some overwrought teenage girl. He had hoped Griffin would have the good sense to not get involved with a Sarah beyond a professional relationship but he could see that would not be the case.

He reached her door and knocked twice as sharply as he could and waited until he heard Sarah’s muffled voice ask who was there. When she replied he tested the door, found it unlocked as she had said, and let himself in. “Sarah, it’s Albert.” He stepped into the foyer and looked around, she was absent from the living room of her functional apartment. Comfortable for a police officer’s salary, well maintained, and orderly. A few personal touches hung around the room; old photos of her and a childhood friend, two movie posters for what he assumed were her favorite action movies, and a nicely framed picture of her father in his patrolman’s uniform.

Her voice rang from the bedroom, “Albert. Thank god you’re here. I’m in the bedroom.” There was a pause as Albert moved to shut the door when Sarah shouted again. “I’m so sorry, I forgot. I invite you into my home.”

Albert swore under his breath as he closed the door, in his agitation he had forgotten that despite having been to Sarah’s apartment on two other occasions she wouldn’t remember them. When they first started working together he wanted to see how well she would be able to deal with some of the things they came across and interviewed her about her experience. He had used his mesmerism to make sure she told the truth then ordered her to forget the meeting. The second time he needed to was when she had overreacted to how he had decided to solve a particular problem. Her idea of justice was noble but got in the way of doing what was necessary.

Albert finished closing the door. “Thank you, my, what a lovely apartment you have.” No response. “What do you need me to do? You were a little vague on the phone.” She was quiet. He preferred this, if he could avoid the niceties and get straight to the problem he might be done before dawn and possibly even deal with something important.

“Maybe you should come into the bedroom. It got worse since I had called you and now I don’t think I can get out there.”

Her statement gave him pause, what could possibly have happened that would prevent her from leaving her bedroom. A few demon possessions, some physical transformations, and an active threat in the room would certainly be something that would prevent her leaving. She had called him, which meant she could use a phone, if her insistence on Griffin not accompanying him were any indication she hadn’t wanted the team to be with him, or someone else didn’t want the team with him. He moved his fingers up the sides of his widows peak, a nervous gesture he hated, he stopped and forced his hand to his side.

He looked down the hall at her bedroom and sniffed the air, he couldn’t smell anything out of the ordinary. He picked up the scent of her blood, and when he closed his eyes and focused he could hear her heart beating strong and fast. She was afraid. He couldn’t sense anything else in the room but that didn’t mean she was alone. His senses were keen but there were things that didn’t have blood or a heartbeat.

He drew his revolver, a silly mundane weapon but effective, from under his long trench coat and wondered if he should back out of the apartment and call for backup. No, if this were a trap they would have thought of that. He decided to push forward counting on any attackers not knowing exactly what they were dealing with. He moved to the back of the apartment and down a small hallway to her bedroom, the door was slightly ajar and he knocked twice before cracking the door open. He took one look at Sarah and put the gun away.

She sat on the floor of her bedroom, her back in a corner, and her knees pulled up to her chest. She was wearing a long t-shirt and a pair of short. She looked worried and her face was tear-stained. As Albert entered she wiped her face with the back of her hand. She looked down to meet his eyes, her head nearly hitting the ceiling. Though he couldn’t be certain, he’d guessed that Sarah was roughly fifteen feet tall.

She smiled weakly at him. “Can you fix it?”


Her face broke and her head fell into her hands as she sobbed against the pain of his answer. He watched her for a second and then said, “Let me call someone who might be able to help.” He stepped out of the room and left her crying in the corner.

Once he’d returned to the living room he sat on her couch and lifted her phone off its cradle. This should be an easy problem, all he had to do was call Jim and have him bring the enclosed truck and some tarps. It would be difficult to dispose of that much person but there were ways and places. Wouldn’t be the first time disposal was the best solution.

However, Albert hadn’t been as successful in his long existence by making rash decisions. She was a police officer and people would look for her. The last call on her phone was to him at the office which could be traced easily enough. He could have Christine erase the records from the phone company but that would be another person involved. Griffin would be angry at the perceived betrayal, these things never stayed secret long. If it had been anyone else he could simply mesmerize the problem away but Griffin was a special case since he wouldn’t be able to get the necessary eye contact. Worst of all was Adam; he would get on his moral high horse and never let Albert hear the end of it. Still, Lake Michigan seemed so much simpler.

He contemplated for a long moment and then dialed the only number he could think of.

*  *  *

Nearly two hours later Albert rose from the couch, where he’d been waiting, and opened the door to Doctor Edward Jackson. Doctor Jackson was a calm, confident man whose outward appearance often led to people underestimating him. Albert knew his wardrobe had been carefully chosen, the disheveled appearance of the suit was misleading to anyone who didn’t know it was precisely tailored Armani two sizes too large for the young man.

“Hello Captain. Sorry it took so long I came as quickly as I could. I needed somethings from my office. It sounds like a fascinating case.”

“I understand Edward. I’d prefer you have everything you need anyway. She’s in the bedroom.”

Albert led the way down the hall and into the bedroom where Sarah still sat hunched in the corner. “Your patient Doctor.” With his work done Albert pulled a small chair away from a nearby desk covered in various paperback novels and sat to watch what happened next.

Doctor Jackson approached Sarah and smiled warmly. “My name is Doctor Jackson. What’s your name?”

Sarah looked weakly at the Doctor. “Sarah.”

“Hi Sarah. Let’s see if we can’t figure out what happened and how to fix it.”

Albert watched as Jackson went through his routine. There was no reason to ask her name, Albert had told him it when he called him, and yet, here he was unnecessarily coddling her. What a waste of effort. Jackson opened his black medical bag and began pulling out the standard tools of his profession: stethoscope, tongue depressors, and a digital thermometer. All useless in this instance. He soon switched to the more exotic tools needed for magical maladies and curses: rune stones, fragments of magic mirror, and a few oddly shaped probes.

After poking and prodding Sarah for nearly an hour, asking questions, and gauging her responses he finally asked something that caught Albert’s interest. “Have you come in contact with any fairies lately?”

Sarah nodded. “Last night, I was in a fairy nightclub, and I think I went to fairyland.”

Albert stood and walked across the room inserting himself in the conversation. “The Fey Lands. She was with Griffin in the Fey Lands.”

Jackson thought for a moment. “I just saw Griffin a few hours ago and he’s not experiencing this.”

“Is Griffin okay?” Sarah’s voice filled with concern.

Before Jackson could say anything damning Albert answered her. “Yes, he’s fine. It’s standard procedure for anyone on the team who encounters the Fey Lands to get checked put afterwards. I wish we’d thought to bring you in for an exam as well.”

Jackson was meticulously placing his tools back in his bag. “Did you drink anything in the Fey Lands?”

“No. We ate dinner at the club but once we got to the tea party we didn’t eat or drink anything. Griffin said dinner was safe.”

Albert ran his fingers up the sides of his widow’s peak. “It would have been safe to eat at the club. Even fairies aren’t that stupid.”

Jackson began muttering to himself, he seemed to be having half a conversation. He suddenly looked at Sarah. “Think about the tea party. Did you come in contact with any food? There was a fight there, right? Did anything shoot through a cake, hit with a bottle, did food go flying into the air? Take your time and concentrate.”

Sarah took a deep breath and concentrated for a few moments. “A woman threw her drink in my face.”

Jackson smiled wide. “Excellent. There is good news and bad news and a little more good news. I know what we’re dealing with. This is a case of the Eat me/Drink me. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, if you drink something you grow bigger and if you eat something you get smaller. Depending on the order you do it in. It’s apparently a big hit at fairy parties.”

Sarah thought for a moment. “I always thought it was the other way around. Doesn’t the drink shrink you?”

“Lewis Carol was recounting the story told by a ten year old girl.” Interjected Albert. “Some of the details got reversed.”

“As that may be.” Jackson grabbing the conversation and bringing it back on point. “When the woman threw her drink in your face it probably absorbed into your skin or soaked into your lipstick or makeup. After that it gradually worked its way into your system. That’s why unlike the books you didn’t instantly grow to your current height.”

Sarah smiled down at Jackson. “We can fix it though, right?”

“Not exactly. It’s been in your system too long and you left the Fey Lands. I don’t think we can cure you.”

Sarah’s eyes began to water.

“However, that doesn’t mean we can’t manage it.”

“How so?”

Jackson smiled. “It’ll take me a day or two, but I should be able to come up with a chemical that will repress the growth and return you to your normal height temporally. It should keep you at your regular height for several hours and with constant use and doses you could remain your normal height indefinitely.”

“I’m going to have a prescription for my height?”

“In essence.” Jackson smiled again. “I’ll clear it with your captain and get you the necessary time off for medical leave. I’ve worked with the police department before so it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll be back to work by Monday.”

“Thank you.”

“Until then, I believe I can whip up an injection for emergency use that will give you an hour or two of normal height.”

With the problem dealt with Albert stood to leave. As he moved to the door Sarah called out to him. “Albert.”

“Yes Sarah.”

“Thank you for helping me.”

Albert turned to look at her. “It was no problem. I was glad to help.” A small lie for her good graces couldn’t hurt.

“You won’t tell Griffin about this, will you?”

“No. I won’t.”

“Promise me?”

“I promise.” Albert felt the warm ripple of a promise made and sealed. A binding force between two creatures of magic.

He stood outside her apartment building with only a small amount of night left to him. The promise between them had sealed. An interesting development. Now he couldn’t break it without consequences. He had promised her things before and never had it sealed in this manner. He wondered what had changed about Sarah to make her capable of such a pact and exactly what he was a part of now.


Well, I hope you enjoyed the story. Please feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you thought. You can also find me over on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube