Chronology of the Apocolypse release

Teaser note related to my  two stories included in this collection.

Chronology Amazon Link

 

Alex My son,

Today, on your eighteenth birthday, it’s time you knew the truth about your father.  Jason, the man you know as your dad, my husband, isn’t your father. His brother, the man you know as Uncle Jason, is your real father.

I’ve loved Auggie from the moment we met, but time, and the laws of our society, forced Jason and I to stay married.

 

 

 

Love you,

Mom.

 

4_Family Memories: NYC Midnight Round 2 entry.

Genre: Horror.

Location: Foreclosed home.

Object: A rabbit’s foot.

I received zero points for my round one story. I thought well outside the box and I believe that plan worked against me. I went with the most obvious story that came to me this time, let’s see how it does.
As always, thank to my lovely Mrs. Susan for letting me bounce ideas off her and get some good ideas. And thanks as always to Laura Matheson in the wilds of Canada for her editing help.

4_Family Memories

 

A young woman, forced out of her inherited family home, finds something forgotten from her past.

——————————————-

Martha took a last look at the only home she’d ever known. Today, her thirty-fourth birthday, the bank officially foreclosed. She had to leave.

Responsibility for the mortgage had become hers after her father’s death a decade ago. He’d tripped in the shed and been impaled by a pair of garden shears. Ten years earlier, her mother fell while cleaning a second floor window, breaking her neck.

Owing more than it was worth, Martha’d struggled to make the payments. A year ago, she gave up, choosing to stay until the bank forced her out.

“Happy Birthday to me,” she said to the snowflakes falling around her.

Standing on the sidewalk, she tried to recall a happy time. Whenever she tried to recollect anything from her early life, her mind’s eye turned to static. While she clearly remembered a birthday with two cakes, she had no idea why there were two.

Her ‘S-Mart’ brand galoshes left tracks in the snow as she circled the house, determined to find at least one good thought from her childhood. As she neared the garden shed, a neon-green object caught her attention.

She tremored at the thought of the shed where her father would lock her when she was disobedient. After his death, she’d avoided it, hiring a lawn service to maintain the yard. Now, she couldn’t afford to have a neighborhood boy mow the lawn.

As she drew closer, she saw a keychain. A dyed rabbit’s-foot keychain.

The moment she touched it, the static that obscured her memories cleared,an image of her father’s face as the points of the clippers pierced his chest flashed before her. She could feel the thick wooden handles in her hands as his ribs cracked. She’d felt the same sense of resistance and release when she’d used the broomstick to knock her mother off the windowsill.

When her sight returned, any memory of the vision vanished.

Looking towards the shed, she saw small barefoot prints. Martha’s tracks were the only others in the fresh snow.

I can’t just leave a barefoot child to freeze, can I?

A gentle arc of snow, pushed away from the door, hinted that it had been opened. A rusted lock hung from the latch, snow piled in a delicate heap on the top of the loop. Locked, just like her father had done to her so many times.

The neighbor’s boys, Martha thought. It’s a prank.

She looked toward the next house, suspecting that, somewhere out in the falling snow, they were laughing their fool heads off.

As she stepped away from the shed, she heard crying and dropped the keychain.

Martha was unique in the way she felt fear. To some it’s a gripping in their gut, to others a tightening of the shoulders as the hair rises on the back of their necks. For her, all her strength fell away. Her body, sensing she couldn’t control the outcome, would give up trying.

They’re using a radio to make that sound. They don’t want the joke to end.

“You’ll be rid of me soon enough!” Martha shouted into the storm as she took another step away.

Then, in the hush of the snow, she heard a small voice. “Marta, please don’t leave me again.”

Her legs gave out.

Kneeling in the wet snow, her faulty memory finally delivered. Thirty years ago, there really had been two birthday cakes: one for her, and one for the only person to ever call her Marta.

“Berta,” she whispered her twin sister’s nickname into the storm.

How could I forget her?

Pinching her eyes closed, she blocked out the cold, the sound of the wind, the fear that gripped her. Martha focused on the small voice crying out to her.

When did I see her last?

Night, moonless and still. Quiet but for the sound of Bertha whimpering from the other side of their father as he dragged them both to the shed. Even then—we couldn’t have been more than four or five—Martha’d learned to not fight back. That always made it worse.

Just go limp, Berta. Daddy will be done quicker.” She tried to teach her sister to be compliant, but Bertha always fought back, she never gave in.

Martha opened her eyes. The boot-prints that led from the house were still there, but where there had been one set of bare prints, now there were two.

She ran back to the shed and picked up the rabbit’s-foot. The lock popped open despite its decade of dis-use.

Berta! Oh, Berta, I’m so sorry. I won’t leave you.” Martha dragged the door open and stepped through, returning to the memory of that night.

Martha stood flaccid, watching her sister struggle, helpless to stop their father as he pummeled her twin. The beating ended only after Bertha too had become limp, the fight permanently squeezed from her small neck.

Martha looked at the workbench, the last place she had seen Bertha alive, and saw her there, face bloody and broken, the purple outlines of her father’s hands visible on her neck. Martha walked to the tool-covered wall, picked a dusty hacksaw off a hook, and clamped the tool, blade up, into the jaws of the vise. Looking at Bertha, she turned her head and placed her neck on the jagged blade.

“Berta, I tried to keep the house as long as I could so we could be together, but the bank has taken it. Remember how I took care of Daddy for you? And Mama? Remember how I pushed her from that window? She should’ve protected us from him. I will never leave you again.”

Martha leaned into the saw, and in a swift sideways motion, tore open her own neck. Blood from the ruptured carotid artery sprayed onto the dark cement floor.

The storm outside intensified, covering the single pair of boot prints that lead from the house. The blizzard muffled the sound of children singing Happy Birthday.

End

NYC Midnight Short Story challenge. Round 1-Group 12 1st Place story.

12_Riding the Odds

Quod, a troll working in the dangerous world of professional dragon riding, takes a deadly chance to be with the human he loves.

 

“Keep moving troll. Too close to human entrance.” The ogre’s voice made the ground vibrate beneath Quod’s feet. He eyed the giant.

“Eegah, there’s no one else here. Drop the act. We still have a deal, don’t we?”

The ogre, four times Quod’s height, leaned close.

“We do not troll. Bargain is with human. No care for your kind. Move along.”

Riding the top bull-dragon on the professional circuit was enough of a life risk; Quod didn’t need to add any more danger to his day by arguing with the dim-witted guard. He turned away from Eegah and entered the paddock under the, ‘Mythics Only’ sign.

Quod walked the stables, looking for the human Wyrm-master that held his fate, and his heart, in her tiny hands. He found Tina near Rivergard’s stall. No rider had completed the full three sequoids on the country’s number one rated dragon and lived to collect the purse, which was determined by complex mathematical formulas that set the fluctuating betting lines. The bright red dragon’s muscles–nurtured on the flesh of the fallen–rippled under his thick scales. As was the custom of the dome, he feasted on the blood of his kills. Trolls were expendable, but a top dragon was better than gold.

“Tina!” Quod called her away from the stall. Rider superstition prevented him from daring to get close. Allowing a dragon to become familiar with your scent was considered bad luck. They would need all the help they could get.

She rushed to him, scanning the area to make sure they were alone, and hugged him tightly. Her small stature allowed the lovers to stand eye level with each other.

“Quod, are you sure about this? You could be killed.”

“I hope so. That’s a key part of the plan. You just have to take care of me afterwards.”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

Quod pursed his thick blue lips. “The Witch of the Wood’s instructions were very precise. As long as we do the math properly, I’ll be okay.” Even as he spoke, he wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince himself or Tina.

They needed to escape this life–both slaves to the game–if winning a fortune betting on his own demise would set them free, he had to try.

Tina reached into the front pocket of her overalls, producing a small black vial and two pocket watches. She handed the vial to him, the voice of the old crone ran in her mind.

Sixty pro through sixty post,

The time to steal life from death,

Fate suspended through love’s boast.

“Quod, remember her directions. You have to drink this at exactly the right time.”

“I’ll figure it out. Be ready for me. I won’t be able to help you.”

His part of the plan would be easy. Simple arithmetic, drink some poison, ride a fire breathing dragon, then die. What could be simpler? Tina had the hard part; place the bet that will give them the money they need to flee and then bring him back to life. No matter the outcome, she’d still be alive.

If their plan was discovered, he’d be executed and fed to the ogres, tainted and unfit for the champions of the dome. She was human, and even though she was looked down upon by her own kind–-ridiculed as a midget, or ‘dwarf’–she was still one of them. At worst, she would be banned from working as a dragon keeper. But she’d be forgiven. People would assume the troll had used an evil spell to lure her into an inter-species, relationship. Why else would a woman, even a malformed one, wish to mix with a sub-human?

“Quod, you ride last tonight. Please be careful.”

“Tina, you know I can’t be. I have to die, remember? Just hold off on the bet. It has to be placed at the last second. The odds have to be long, or it won’t be worth it. I have to make them believe I will survive the ride.”

Quod had explained it all before. The odds-makers use easily measurable factors: the speed of the flight, the height off the blood spattered dirt of the arena floor, the weights of the rider and dragon; they factor in variables of skill and experience of the pair intimately linked in a ballet of life and death, to set the fluctuating betting lines.

“I’ll make sure Rivergard and I play our part.” Said Quod

She handed one of the pocket watches to Quod. “We have to start these together, as the witch said.”

Two as one, set the hands,

Tick for tock must be done.

They embraced again, one long last kiss before Quod walked to his death.

 

The evening’s first rider, Fungl, didn’t live to see the end of the first sequoid, known as The Bucking. One foot slipped from the stirrups, allowing the flying beast full control of the flight. It was a deadly mistake. A simple full-body shiver, like a Minotaur shaking water from its back, toppled the rider. The dragon sliced the falling troll in half with his razor-sharp tail. Less than halfway through the sixty-second run, the rider’s career, and life, were through.

The second, a troll named Truot, died during the Trigon phase.

From Quod’s vantage point, a quarter of the way up the thousand-foot-high dome, he watched the event’s penultimate ride. As Truot’s run progressed, Quod thought about the watching odds-makers, and how their decisions would affect Tina’s timing for the wager on his life.

Thirty seconds in, trumpets signaled the next phase, The Rising. Quod watched as Truot drew back on the dragon’s reins, while pushing forward on the stirrups strapped around its hind ankles. Pulling the animal into itself forced it to flap wildly in order to retain flight. Quod knew the speed of the climb would determine who was in control, the rider or the dragon. Odds changed, money was won and lost. With fifteen seconds left in the match, a final horn marked the time for capture of the Trigon.

Reaching the top of the dome, Truot released the pressure holding the flying serpent in check. The result was the most spectacular moment of the event. It was also the precursor to the most dangerous sequiod, The Plummet. Regrettably, Truot wouldn’t live to see its end.

Freed from the restraints on his body, the dragon arched his back, spread his wings and spewed a geyser of fire. The heat of the flame below his open wings caused the great beast to hover high above the hard earth, near the silver triangle of the Trigon, which was suspended at the pinnacle of the dome. As the mesmerized audience watched, Truot reached up to snatch the dangling icon. And missed.

Quod knew what was happening high above the breathless crowd. He watched helplessly as the dragon felt the sudden shift in the rider’s weight, spun, and dove. Truot was too high on the dragon’s back when The Plummet began. In his match, Quod knew this would be the moment Tina would be waiting for: the final betting line would be set, for or against, the rider’s survival.

Truot’s odds fell as the men setting the betting line dropped the chances of Truot surviving into the negative. In their eyes, his fate was already decided. They were usually right.

During The Plummet, riders normally leaned forward out of the airflow until below the height of the bucking chute. If they waited too long to pull out of the dive, the dragon will flip over onto its back and slam the rider into the earth. Truot never had that chance.

The scaled beast folded his, bat-like wings flat as he turned and easily shook his passenger. As they fell, the dragon flew circles around the arena, disgorging flames at Truot, roasting him alive. The troll hit the ground accompanied by cheers from the bloodthirsty crowd.

When the elven medic held a red flag over Truot’s blackened corpse, a mixture of cheers and groans sprang from the crowd.

 

Quod watched the traditional team of six unicorns parade Rivergard around the arena. Then pegasus-riding humans guided the great dragon into the chute as tufts of smoke and yellow-orange flames licked from his horned snout. Quod studied the giant screens that showed the current odds on his death.

A fanfare sounded One minute until the gate would open, beginning Quod’s first sequoid.He pulled the pocketwatch and vial from his breast pocket.

Sixty pro through sixty post…

Two as one, set the hands.

He drank the foul contents and pushed the small button on the side of the watch. Somewhere down in the betting pit, Tina had also started the countdown to his death.

Quod settled onto Rivergard’s hard scales, secured his stubby feet into the stirrups, and wrapped the reins around his right fist. His left hand would be free, as required by the sport’s rules, in order to grab the Trigon. Quod had to put on a good show to keep the odds low until The Plummet. Timing, and danger were intertwined. The betting line for his death had to be high. He had to put on the show of a lifetime, even if his life was in the balance.

The massive wrought iron gate opened releasing Rivergard from the pen. A ball of fire erupted from the horned demon’s maw as he leapt into flight. Holding tight to the reins, Quod forced the dragon down, circling low around the ring. Allowing the animal the freedom to kick his feet, while steering his head, made for a good show. It also demonstrated that the rider controlled the flight. In the open bleachers, at the lowest level of the arena, the sub-humans screamed their wagers in a dozen indecipherable tongues. Humans watched from their comfortable box seats, enclosed to protect them from the dragon’s flames or wayward disembodied troll parts.

The second sequoid began. Quod maneuvered the beast into position in the center of the ring, pulled back on its head, and pushed forward on the stirrups. The duo rose as great leather wings pushed them upward. Tina watched the boards and saw that his survival odds had increased. Demonstrating control over the flight showed he had a better chance of living to ride another day. Quod’s every move had to convey his power over the dragon in preparation for the final drop.

The start of the third sequiod marked the last 15 seconds of Quod’s life. He had to play this final act perfectly. Sitting upright, he released the reins and reached up with both hands for the Trigon. Rivergard, feeling the pressure of the stirrups slacken, stretched to his full size and let out a blast of flame that made the crowd gasp in fear. With both hands, Quod grabbed the prizeand released it from the clasp holding it in place.

Tina watched, along with the screaming throng, as Quod snatched the flailing reins from mid-air while Rivergard tucked his massive head and dove. All those around her were yelling in unison, chanting Quod’s name. He was more than just another rider, he was a God.

As Rivergard tucked in his wings and fell, the book-makers changed the betting line one last time. Fifty to one. No rider had ever had odds this high placed on his demise. They were virtually certain he would safely land the fire-breathing behemoth.

Tina grabbed the arm of a nearby leprechaun bet-taker and placed her wager. Although he couldn’t believe the amount of human money she was betting, he accepted the cash.

Knowing his final chance at controlling the dragon was near, Quod gently pushed on the right stirrup; the diving beast rolled as Quod blacked out.

Rivergard skimmed the arena floor. Quod dropped free of the dragon’s back and rolled along the ground. The crowd fell silent.

Tina held her breath as the ogre guards waddled out to pick up the fallen troll. The pegasus team corralled Rivergard through the exit chute as the elven medics checked on Quod.

As the red flag rose on the arena floor, Tina burst into tears. She ripped the winning marker from the hand of the confused leprechaun, and rushed back to the stables.

As Wyrm-master, one of her duties was to strip the food for victorious dragons. She would be the one in charge of feeding Quod to Rivergard. She paced near the arena gate, glancing apprehensively at time ticking across the face of the witch’s watch. Eegah carried Quod’s limp body into the stable and dropped it at her feet.

“I think him really dead.” Eegah held out his fat hand.

“That will be all, ogre. I’ll take care of him. And thank you.” Her voice cracked as she spoke.

“No thank. Just pay.”

The sack of coins seemed tiny in his palm. He turned and lumbered back into the arena, leaving Tina with her lifeless love.

Without bothering to ensure they were alone, she pulled the watch from his pocket.

Tick for tock must be done.

The watch was smashed; the hands bent and immobile.

Tina leaned back, remembering the final instructions the Dark Witch had given them.

     Six times fifty, the time from death.

No greater, no lesser,

Else the spell be for naught.

She studied the ancient timepieces the woman in the woods had given them; they were no longer in sync. Tina alone knew the price of their freedom. Her very soul. Quod could never know she gave her eternal life for their mortal time together.

Her working second hand ticked the minutes by. Each tiny mark seemed to take too long to pass. No longer able to determine the exact timing, at the four-minute mark by her watch, she leaned to his lips. Blackened, bloody, lifeless. She caressed his scarred and muddy face. Other humans saw him as a hideous troll, a sub-human mythical animal. To Tina, he was the most handsome man in the world.

With 15 seconds left to the five-minute mark, she closed her eyes and kissed him. The sorceress didn’t say how long the kiss should be, Tina hoped–-prayed to all the Gods of good and evil–that she would hit that magic moment of Six by sixty.

She leaned back, holding tight to his callused hand, and prayed again.

Slowly, his dark green color began to return. His chest rose. Gently at first, but as her tears fell onto his cheeks, the rhythm became stronger.

Quod’s eyelids opened. His beautiful yellow eyes began to glow.

“Quod? Are you…” Her voice choked in her throat as the words caught.

“Tina, my love.” He squeezed her hand. “We’re free.”

-End-

 

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.2

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.2

By: Wayne Hills.

‘Coming to you from Warner Brother’s studios…’

 Sidekick Andy Richter begins another nightly episode of, Conan, the same way he has for decades in the living world, as he will for eternity in ours. Sitting in my familiar recliner in the living room of our home, chubby dachshund Lola on my lap, apprehension overwhelms me as I glance toward my wife. Why I am afraid of what I might see puzzles me. Inexplicably, I’m relieved to see that Suzie is knitting her endless ball of yarn into the ‘Never Ending Story’ of sweaters, just as I expected. The garment never got bigger, the wool never smaller, but I can tell she’s content just working away.

But I’m not content; something pulls at my memory.

Why do I think her project is never going to end?

I watch as her hands nimbly work the long slender needles in her fingers; the soft but surprisingly strong digits I’ve held a thousand times. Her right index deftly pulls the yarn from the ball, slips it over the top of the shiny pink needle, and then quickly, almost imperceptibly, transfers it onto the left hand tool to become a knitted stitch. Or a pearl, one is over the stick, the other under I think. She knows, that’s all that matters to me. Her happiness, her safety, that’s all I care about in life.

Yet there’s something more, a tinge in the back of my mind. Something isn’t done, I have left something incomplete. There’s unfinished business outside.

 Outside? Why would I need to go outdoors?

I stand and walk to door.

I look back at my wife; her gaze alternates between the work in her hands and the TV screen.

“Suzie, I need to check on something outside. I think I left the hose running.”

I don’t know what else to say. I have to go to finish what I’ve started. Even though I’m not sure what it is, I can’t ignore it and stay.

At least I know Suzie will be safe and happy.

Why would I think otherwise? It matters that I feel this way, but I don’t know why.

“I’ll be back my love, don’t worry about me.” I say as I reach for the doorknob.

“OK dear.” She replies without looking at me.

My hand hovering over the knob, I stop, turn, and go back to her. I kneel before her so that she has to look into my eyes.

“Suzie.”

“Auggie?”

“You know I’ll love you always and forever, don’t you?”

“Of course Auggie, don’t be weird.”

I kiss her and hold our lips together for one long breath. I lean back.

“You’ll be all right without me for a while. I’ll be back.” I mean it and know in my heart it is true, but at the same time I am afraid. I don’t know why I have to go or what it is I will do once I leave. I just have to leave.

“I told you not to be weird,” she smiles as she reaches up; I feel the warmth of her fingers touch my cheek. “You know I love you too, I’m just not a nerd about it. Now go shut off that hose, Conan has some good guests tonight.”

She returns to her knitting as I walk to the door.

As I step through the opening, a thought occurs to me, ‘I wonder if Doc’s found his eye yet. ‘

——-End———

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.1

A Ghost’s Story: 9.1

I find Doc outside attempting to rearrange the misplaced parts of his legs. I notice his jaw has reappeared, as well as some more of his, still incomplete, arm.

“Doc, I’ve got to tell you I was a little disappointed with you. I’m hoping that you knew I’d be safe in her bubble.”

“Yes, Auggie, I said you were special. None of the others can leave of their own accord. They must be drawn out or have you with them. I knew that if she went inside, she wouldn’t be able to get out.”
“But why did she want me in there? Her plan was to trap me inside.”

“Her plan was to shred you inside. You would be trapped and out of the picture. That’s what she wanted. If she were to cut you up out here, you would simply return to your home bubble.”

“So Roger and Lucy are okay?”

“They’re safe, I’m sure of it. Roger’s probably getting a lap dance right now completely oblivious to the adventures they’ve been on.”

“But why did you stay here and just float around in pieces?”

“I don’t have a home. When I died I just stayed where I was murdered. I have always been most comfortable in the uncharted space between the living world and this one.”

When he finished putting his legs in order, I helped him up.

“What do I do now Doc? Can I trust you?”

“I know I owe you an explanation Auggie, I’ll do the best I can.”

He told me about the murder of his parents and the hypnotic suggestion put into his impressionable young mind. He told me an eerily familiar story, about seemingly benign strangers asking for help on a rainy night. He talked about his parent’s gory death at the hands of the caped man, and Theo Loddi’s murder from his. That night when he was a boy, Rita was a blond, and the man in the cape was the same man he saw through the tear between realities. When Doc came face to face with him, a moment before he was cut to pieces, he saw the man for what he really was. He saw the demon’s face and knew he couldn’t help them anymore. That’s why he tried to push me into the bubble. He didn’t think he could get Rita in, so he tried to protect me. He hoped I would think of something to help end this.

“Unfortunately, it’s not over, is it Doc? He’s still with the living. He’s still killing.”

“You’re right, he is. We have to try again to stop him; we have to build an army. I’ll get Roger and Lucy back.”

“How, they’ll remember everything that happened to them once they’re outside. Do you really think they’ll try again?”

“We don’t have a choice, there’s nobody to help the living but us.”

“Okay, but I need to go home first. I have to see if Suzie is all right. The last time I saw her…” I had to pause, the horrific image of the last time I was with her still terrified me. “Frankly I miss her.”

“I’ll gather the rest of myself back together and I’ll call on you when I’m ready. Auggie; you go see your wife.”

We shook hands and we parted ways. He to gather an army, and me to see my love.

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 8.2

A Ghost’s Story: 8.2

 I have a plan, not a great plan I’ll admit, not even a whole plan I’ll confess, but I have to get Rita away from my home, and give Doc some time to literally pull himself back together.

I begin by talking to Rita without any intent other than denying her the opportunity to interrupt, I side-step away from my bubble in the opposite direction from where we had come.

“I’m willing to help you but I don’t know exactly what it is you expect from me. I’m obviously out of my league here, and you have this all figured out. I’m just concerned with what would happen to my wife, Suzie. She doesn’t know anything about what’s going on out here.”

“I told you alread…” Rita tries to cut me off; I keep talking.

“Yes, I know how you feel about marriage and death, but she will always be my wife. After all we were put here together, just like Roger and Lucy were. That must mean something in the grand scheme of things.”

The mention of Roger strikes a nerve, she raises her blade. Quickly, I change the subject.

“It’s crazy here isn’t it? I never was a religious man, didn’t believe in life after death. Still don’t really, I mean this isn’t really life is it?”

I continue to talk, trying not to babble or repeat myself. I go on about her and her love, and how similar they are to Suzie and me. I talk about what it’s like for us in the bubble, being careful to leave out the details about how we got there. I don’t ask any questions, or say anything that will require a reply from her. Amazingly, it works and she follows me away from my home, and the slowly dispersing Roger and Lucy. Rita turns when I turn, walks where I walk. Somewhere along the way, her silver blade reverts back to normal and her demeanor lightens. Maybe all that time waiting for her unnamed lover made her lonely for some regular conversation.

Before she even notices what’s happening, we’re back by her bubble. I steal a glance behind, and as I hoped, Doc’s disjointed mass has followed us.

His pieces have come together to form a semblance of his normal shape. Although there are a few pieces that seem to have not found their way back in place, he has the overall look of a broken vase that had been glued back together, badly. Gaps between his extremities make it obvious where Rita’s sword had sliced him. His right eye, chin, and left bicep are missing; although the rest of that arm seems to be floating in generally the proper position. It also appears that several pieces of his legs are swapped onto the wrong side. They don’t seem to bend in the right directions, he appears bowlegged.

When Rita finally notices where we had walked, her reaction isn’t what I expected.

“Auggie,” she says with surprising calmness. “Are we back at my home?”

“Yes Rita.” I see no point in lying about it. “I brought you home. You were at peace in there don’t you remember?  That’s all any of us want isn’t it.”

I try to stay calm, soothing. I need to maneuver her into a position near her bubble in order to get her inside. I have to convince her that she wants to go back.

Yet another glaring hole in my plan that has yet to have a plug present itself.

“Rita, do you remember how you were when I first met you?”

“Yes, I was waiting for a client. That person turned out to be you.”

“That’s right. I came into your home,” more like a lair actually. “And you greeted me as if I should have known why I was here. But what I meant was, how were you feeling? You seemed calm to me, happy almost, isn’t that right? You were serene.”

She thought about this for a moment before answering.

“Yes. Yes, I liked it in there.”

“And now that we’re all out here, you’re life, sorry, existence is in chaos. Don’t you want to be at peace?”

She appeared to be thinking about it, but it’s taking too long.

I glance sideways, trying to get a better look at Doc. I’m shocked to see him running towards us. At first I thinks he’s going to try to push Rita into her bubble, but at the last second he turns towards me!

“Doc! What the hell?”

I move just in time for him to miss me, he bounces off Rita’s home and falls to the side.

“You missed him Doctor!” Rita screams at him as he’s lying on the ground. I knew you were useless. Her silver arm is back, although this time it has the shape and size of a samurai sword. She easily decapitates the remnants of Doc’s head and kicks it away from his flailing body.

“His purpose has already been fulfilled, he delivered you to me. I kept him around in case he could be of some use, I guess I was wrong.”

Turning back to me, her arm revert to normal.

“That was a very nice speech, Mr. O’Neil. You’re right in that I was peaceful. But only because I am very patient; have been my whole existence. The anticipation of the fun we’d have together would rip me apart otherwise.”

“You knew I was leading you here, and you still came, why”

“I don’t know, just toying with you. I also wanted to see what that quack doctor would do. I’ve had him on my hook for thirty years. Wanted to see if he’s still loyal.”

She starting laughing at the fallen doctor. He managed to find his head and had placed it back in its proper location. He was trying to stand, but his mismatched legs weren’t cooperating. He slid around on the ground, each attempt at rising thwarted by his inability to get solid footing. His outstretched hand is floating in mid-air, reaching towards Rita for help. Disgusted, I walked over to him.

“Stop, where are you going?” Rita screamed.

“I’m going to help him. Whether his intention was devious or not, I can’t let him suffer like this.”

“He was going to end you. If he pushed you in, you’d be trapped.”

If she just wants to finish me, she could chop me up like Roger and Lucy.

An idea came to me. Everything I’d learned in this realm, told me she was wrong. Doc had been right about me being unique. I could enter and leave other bubbles, and still come back out. I had to call her bluff.

“Why does that matter Rita? Why do you want me locked in your home?”

She hesitated. It wasn’t a long pause, just enough for me to detect a line of bullshit was imminently approaching.

“Because that’s the plan, always has been. You get locked in there and I can go back.”

“Really, go back to the living? I don’t see how that’s possible. You’re dead, I’m dead, Doc’s all hacked up, but still dead. I think you’re lying Rita. I don’t think you want me in there, I think Doc went rogue, and you were just as surprised as I am that he tried to push me.”

I jumped in to her bubble. As I dissolve through the surface, Rita’s screaming confirms I made the right choice.

Back in the tidy basement, I’m not sure what will happen next. I decide I need a drink as I wait so I pour a shot of Rita’s firewater and sip the burning liquid.

I’m surprised when I hear Doc knocking and calling to me as he had when I sat in my own home with Suzie.

“Calling the spirit of August O’Neil. This is Doctor Jordan Bukowski, are you there spirit?”

What the hell is he doing? He’s knows I’m in here.

I stomp my foot once, same way that we started all our conversation back when I was in my own home.

“August O’Neil, come outside and see me.”

I have no doubt that this is a trap. I wonder if Doc’s whole face is back, or if his tongue is just flapping around in the ether. The only way I’ll be able to tell for sure is to go out there, and that’s not going to happen. But maybe I can take a peek?

I move closer to the wall, as I hold my hands and face close to the surface, they start to dissolve. As they begin to move towards the outside, I carefully shift my weight, I must maintain my balance inside Rita’s room.

I’ve always just stepped right through bubbles without pausing, this time though, I’m going to try to slide just my face through. If I’m right, I’ll be able to see what was going on out there.

As my eyes begin to melt through the swirling wall, I’m surprised that although my vision is blurry, I can still see fairly well. I hear the doctor’s voice calling to me as my view of the outside world clears.

The Doc is still lying on the ground, where he’d fallen when his attempt at knocking me into the orb had failed. He still didn’t have a jaw. The voice I heard calling to me was coming from Rita. She’s able to imitate the doc’s irritating séance voice perfectly.

Nice try bitch.

She continues to try to draw me out using Doc’s voice. Even though I can see her, she doesn’t notice that I’m here. The missing part of my plan finally presents itself.

As she moves around the bubble calling for me to come out, I wait for her to get close to where I’ve stopped moving through the thin wall between us.

When she passes by me on her way around, I reach out and grab her long overcoat by the lapels, and yank her back into the bubble with me.

She tries to struggle, but my surprise attack prevents her from stopping the momentum and she falls in on top of me. We tumble onto the cool linoleum. I slide across the floor ending up by the bar under the stairs; she stops with her back against the bed. We stare at each other as I wait in fear of her sword’s reappearance.

“Where are my manners? Would you like a drink handsome?”

Holy crap, it worked. She’s forgotten everything.

I quickly jump to my feet and rush over to help her up, hoping the gentlemanly gesture keeps her in the moment.

“No Miss, I have another engagement, thank you so much for the offer.”

I walk towards the stairs as I say goodbye.

“We’ve had a wonderful time; it’s been a very memorable evening. I wish you all the best.”

She tries to protest, to stop me, but I hurry up the stairs and back into the outside world.

 

A Ghost’s Story 8.1

A Ghost’s Story. Chapter 8.1

By: Wayne Hills.

Dr. Bukowski’s skill is rare; not enough to be considered truly unique in the world, but uncommon enough to be sought out by those who need authentic psychic abilities.

His power as a spirit medium allows him to speak freely with souls that have passed on from the world of the living. His gift first manifested the night his mother and father were brutally murdered; a side-effect of being forced to watch the loving couple who had given him life tortured and mutilated. Mercifully, his mind completely erased the bloody event from memory.

Medication, both physician and self-prescribed, hypnosis, even a few black magic spells from a coven of Wiccan who helped refine his gifts couldn’t help him remember what happened to his parents. It wasn’t until he was contacted by a Police Detective tracking down a lead on a horrific double homicide that he discovered the truth, and remembered every gruesome detail.

Det. Theo Loddi was investigating the murder of a retired couple who were discovered in their home eviscerated and partially devoured by their pack of rescued pets. Loddi found connections to a dozen similar killings, only one of which had a living witness; the thirty year old cold case of Dr. Eugene and Edith Bukowski. Their adolescent son, Jordan, was present, and although covered in his parent’s blood and his own excrement, was inexplicably unharmed.

A month before the future Dr. J. Bukowski left the physical world; Det. Loddi showed up at the doctor’s office to see if he could jog his memory and uncover any clues to the identity of the suspected serial killer. The moment the two men shook hands, adult Jordan remembered it all:

The hard patter of raindrops on the roof.

The open doorway to the street devoid of light.

The mysterious lost couple in need of help that came to his childhood home on that long ago forgotten night.

The tall man, wearing all black. The cape that fascinated the young impressionable boy. The red lit eyes that equally frightened him.

And there was his female blonde partner dressed all in white. Her long, shiny raincoat. Her platinum blonde hair, wrapped in a sheer scarf to protect it from the rain drops.

He saw the events through someone else’s eyes. A video was playing that only the doctor could see.

He felt a strange throbbing in his own forehead as he watched the man place his left thumb between young Jordan’s eyes and slowly trace a star pattern. Vividly he recalled how the touch made him very sleepy, how the woman talked gently to comfort him as the life was literally drained from his parents. Most important of all, he remembered her instructions. Just as a hypnotherapist can make a person quit smoking and awaken with no memory of the imbedded thought, she implanted a command. He was to forget everything about this hideous night. In exchange, he would be given a great gift, the power to speak to anyone who has passed on. Except of course, his own newly deceased parents.

She told him that in time his memory would return. Specifically she said, “Thirty years from today, a man will come to ask questions about this night. Upon the visitor’s touch, all knowledge of this evening’s events will come back.” She told him that his task would then be to seek out the person the caller inquired about.

There was one last instruction given to that young, blood splattered, boy that evening to remember and carry out. Much like a side-show hypnotist will leave a post hypnotic suggestion to cluck like a chicken with the snap of a finger, a seed was planted in that immature brain.  A tiny thought lay smoldering, waiting to ignite and explode in a fury of rage and destruction.

When all the information that could be gleaned from the unsuspecting guest was uncovered, that older, wiser, stronger Jordan Bukowski was to kill the man whose touch brought back this night. He was to murder that evil man who made him remember the horrible massacre of his parents. Jordan was to slice him to pieces, and rip out his guts.

Three decades later to that very day, the eminent and respected Dr. Jordan Bukowski, did just that.