I find it odd that the word colonel is pronounced “kernel” despite not having an “r” anywhere in it.
It’s that time, everyone! It’s time for the next installment of everybody’s favorite blog hopping story about ghosts and spirits…and stuff.
Jake looked at his mother, begging her to tell him that the spirit was lying, that she didn’t make a human sacrifice to gain some sort of power. She didn’t say a word. She did nothing to assuage his concerns. All she did was stare dumbly at the spirit. “Mom!” Jake yelled at her.
“The fire didn’t burn you,” she mumbled dumbfounded.
“Of course not,” the spirit replied. “I wrote that spell, remember? Did you really think I didn’t put in a safeguard to prevent it from being used on me…Vicki?”
Pure hatred replaced the dumbfounded expression on her face. “My name is Victoria,” she seethed.
“I know, Vicki.”
“The only good thing about all of this is that now I get to kill you again.”
It was Jake’s turn to be confused. “You’ve killed someone before?” he asked in shock.
“Only those that deserved it,” she spat back. Suddenly, she remembered who she was talking to and her demeanor, along with her voice, softened. “Don’t listen to him, honey. I only killed him in self defense.”
“Self defense?” the spirit laughed. “What danger did I pose tied to a table in your basement with my mouth taped shut?”
The corpse gestured to his face. Dangling from one of his cheeks was a dirty and worn piece of duct tape.
Jake wasn’t sure what to do next. The thought that his mom had killed someone, self-defense or not, unsettled him almost as much as the spirit that had come back to kill her out of claimed revenge. This brief stalemate wouldn’t last long though and it didn’t seem like his mom was up for the challenge. The fire spell not working on the spirit had clearly shattered her confidence.
But, thinking about that, Jake realized the spirit hadn’t been completely right. The fire spell had worked on it. His mom had destroyed its hand using the same spell. That meant the magic had worked against it to some degree. If it was wrong about that, perhaps it was trying to trick him about her motives for killing it in the first place. There was some hope anyway.
The only thing Jake could think to do next was get the same book that had worked before. It was on the counter nearby but he would have to turn his back to grab it. Anything could happen in that split second. The spirit was still advancing and he needed to do something. Glancing at his mom, he realized it was a risk he had to take. She was still staring at the ghost in disbelief. If he didn’t act, they were both doomed.
Jake turned and lunged for the book. Before he got to it, he stopped short. Sitting on top of it was another severed hand. He almost fell into the same trap as his mother did, but he shook his head when he caught himself simply staring. The words of his mother ran back through his mind. “How?” Jake stuttered. “We destroyed that hand and it’s too early for it to have come back yet.”
“You destroyed a hand,” the spirit corrected. “You didn’t destroy that one. The hand you destroyed belonged to my friend Marten Revulus. The hand that’s on the book is mine.”
His head began to spin. So much was happening and he had no clue what most of it was. To top it all off, his mother was still staring blankly at the spirit possessed body. “Mom,” he cried. “Do something!”
“She can’t hear you, you know.” Jake looked back at the spirit as it continued on. “She cast a spell. Right now, she’s locked against me in a contest of wills, trying to banish me.”
“If that were true, you’d be unable to move too, I’d bet.”
“If I didn’t possess magic before I was killed, or I was more recently deceased, you’d be correct. Because of those two things, I’ve had years to build my defense against her. At this moment, she’s hitting harmlessly against a wall of pure rage. Rage at her using me. Rage at her killing me.”
Jake desperately wished his mom had taught him anything that might have been useful in this moment. But, with no better knowledge, the book was still his best bet. He narrowed his eyes and stared at the hand resting on top of it.
It’s just a hand. It might be dead. It might be part of a ghost. But, it’s still just a hand.
He snapped his right hand forward and snatched up the severed hand. At the same time he grabbed for the book with his left hand. Immediately the severed hand tried to free itself from his grip. Its fingers twisting and digging into the flesh on his wrist.
Turning he attempted to throw the hand towards the spirit, but when he released it, the hand still clung to him. His momentum spun him around wildly for a moment, he could hear the spirit laughing in the background, and the hand began to race up his arm. He knew it would head for his neck. He’d already been choked twice and had no desire for a third time around.
Sweeping the book across his body and down his right arm, he connected with the hand and sent it flying down to the floor. The spirit’s laughter died abruptly but Jake didn’t waste time looking up. He switched his grip so he had the book in both hands and he slammed it down on top of the hand.
“That was uncalled for,” it said in a voice dripping with disappointment.
“Uncalled for?” Jake shook his head. “You and that hand have tried to kill me twice now.”
“I hate to keep correcting you, but once again you’ve got the wrong hand. Yes, a disembodied hand tried to kill you, Marten’s hand. Not mine. Marten wants to kill you to punish your mother. I, on the other hand, just want to go straight to the source and kill your mother. Sure, I’d feel bad for making you an orphan, but I’d only be responsible for half of that. She’s the one who killed your father.”
Something clicked in his head. “You’re saying that my mom killed my father and she killed you. Are you trying to tell me that you’re my father?”
“You’re not Luke Skywalker and this isn’t Star Wars. I’m no man’s father.”
Something else dawned on him. “What about this Marten guy? How does he fit into the picture? Mom said she didn’t know who he is. Why does he want her dead?”
“He was your father’s best friend in college. After your father died, Marten tried to summon a spirit to help figure out what happened to him. The spirit was too strong for Marten to handle. I’m sure you can guess the rest.”
Once again Jake saw a flaw in the ghost’s statement. “That can’t be. There’s no way he was my dad’s best friend in college. My mom would have recognized him.”
The ghost laughed. “Ah, to be young, and alive, and naïve. Adults are not the perfect creatures we assume them to be when we are children. They make mistakes. They have secrets. I don’t know why your mom didn’t recognize your father’s best friend from school but it doesn’t surprise me and it matters little to me.
“Maybe he never told her about his college days. Maybe he did but she didn’t pay close enough attention. As I said, it doesn’t concern me and very soon that history will be rendered unimportant with her death by my hands.”
A voice inside Jake’s head said, “Keep him talking, I think I’ve finally broken through his defenses against me.”
Frowning, Jake kept himself from looking towards his mom. It was her voice but it was under great strain. He didn’t want the ghost to know she has spoken to him, though, so as concerned as he was about her he couldn’t give any clues that the situation might be slipping from the spirits control.
“Fine, whatever,” Jake muttered. “So I’m not Luke Skywalker and you aren’t my father. Then who are you in all of this? And why did my mom kill you?”
Part 7 of the Ghost Story written by Matticus and I is up at the Kingdom! Be sure to go over and check it out. Unless you are a Jester….
And we’re back with the next segment in our story, Revis and I. We hope you enjoy. I know I enjoyed writing my half… And that’s not half bad? I shouldn’t be allowed to write these intros after a certain point.
“He called them the ‘dark arts’ but,” Jake’s mother stated after a few moments, her voice no longer quivering, “that was more of a joke, a play on words, than actually being related to what most people think of when they hear that term. He wasn’t summoning demons. He wasn’t doing blood sacrifices or anything like that. There was no dancing naked in the moonlight. Well, I mean, not related to any of this.”
She added that last bit in a whisper and then looked away, a wistful smile on her lips and a faraway look in her eyes.
Without looking back to her son, she continued…
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Here we are again, my friends. It’s time for another chapter in the latest Matticus/Revis collaboration. Hope you enjoy!
“Fight it?” Jake asked incredulously. “How in the hell are we supposed to fight it? The only thing we have that’s had any effect on it is this book,” he held it out for her to see, “and we have no idea why.”
“There must be something in there that explains it,” she returned. “Have you even read it?”
“Not the whole thing, no, but I’ve read half of it.”
“Then the answer must be in the second half somewhere.”
“You’re probably right, but…” Jake’s sentence was cut off by a loud pounding coming from upstairs. It had to be the physical hand trying to break out of the bathroom. “We’ll find out later, when we’re far away from here.”
“It won’t matter where we are. It’ll follow.”
Jake took a long look at his mother. “What aren’t you telling me?”
She smiled sadly. “I’m your mother. There’s many things I’ve never told you.”
Another loud sound interrupted his train of thought. This time, he was pretty sure that the bathroom door had been broken down. “Hurry up and skim through it,” his mother instructed. “I’ll do what I can to keep it away from you.”
He wanted to argue, but did as he was told. As he flipped through the pages to find where he left off, the book slipped from his grasp and fell to the floor. Jake hurriedly picked it up. When he did, it was opened to the About Author page. After just a glance, he could tell that the words on the page had nothing to do with the author at all.
Jake read the page quickly and then looked up to his mom. She was looking towards the stairwell. There was a thumping sound that could only be the hand stump jumping down one stair at a time.
“You were right. We have to fight it.”
His mom didn’t look at him. “What does it say?”
“Once a spirit has started to take on a physical form it must be destroyed before it can regain its entire form or it will become unstoppable.”
“Great. It’s only arm. Let’s destroy it now. So, how do we do that?”
Jake smiled, “With fire.”
His mom snorted. He couldn’t see but he was sure she had rolled her eyes too. Jake had always loved playing with fire and might have nearly burned down the house a couple times. He would never admit that, of course, because he had the situation under control each of those times. But, they might have been getting close to getting out of his control. They might have been very close.
The sound of the hand coming down the stairs was getting closer. It was nearly to the bottom.
“Just with fire? No other instructions? A direct flame? Just heat?”
“It didn’t specifically say…”
His mom looked at him, almost smiling, “I have an idea.”
She grabbed her keys from off the counter and walked over to the locked cabinet that was at the end of the cupboard. Moving quickly, she unlocked it and pulled an unmarked glass bottle out of it and handed it to Jake. Once that was done, she opened their junk drawer and got out the long lighter she used to light candles. Onto the next cabinet she went, pulling out an aerosol can of cooking spray. Her materials all gathered, she turned to her son.
“Grab a couple of cups and fill them up with what’s in the bottle.”
“What is in the bottle?” Jake interrupted.
“A very potent alcohol. Now, be quiet and let me finish.” She waited a beat to see if he’d follow her direction. When he did, she continued, “As soon as you see the hand, douse it with the alcohol. Then, when it’s covered, I’ll use the cooking spray can like a flame thrower to set it on fire.”
“That’s a great plan,” he added when he thought she was finished, “except won’t that also set the kitchen on fire too?”
“There’s a fire extinguisher under the sink. If it works, we put the fire out. If not, we’ll have other things to worry about first.”
Not knowing what else to say, Jake grabbed the cups and began to pour while his mother grabbed the fire extinguisher from under the sink and put it within reach. The sound of the hand was growing ever closer as he poured the alcohol out as he was instructed. That’s when a thought popped into his head. If the spirit’s goal was to rebuild its body in order to become unstoppable, why was it here at his house? The only reason it would be here is if it thought the rest, or at least part, of its body was in the house with them.
At the sound of his mom’s voice, Jake immediately picked up the cups and flung their contents at the source of the hand’s sounds. He turned to see his mother ignite the cooking spray as it left the can. Her lips were moving like she was speaking, but no words were coming out. Then, for the blink of an eye, the flames turned the deepest black.
The flash of black was gone so quickly that under normal circumstances Jake would have assumed his mind was playing tricks on him. These were not normal circumstances. What the heck did Mom just do?
He didn’t want to get closer to the stairwell in case the hand survived the flames and raced for him, but he wanted to see what was going on too. Jake edged his way towards the sink so he could grab the fire extinguisher when needed and hoping to get a clearer view of what was happening.
The spray of fire didn’t seem to be making it far enough to reach anything on the ground. Jake moved another step closer to the sink. Then all of a sudden the hand flew away from the stairs. His mom tracked its progress with her torch and managed to catch it in flight. The alcohol ignited in an orange burst and the hand landed on the counter next to Jake perched on its fingers. The flames covered it and the smell of burning flesh clogged his nose.
He wanted to move further away but he had nowhere to go. The burning hand began to step forward. Chunks of flesh sloughed off, revealing the tiny bones working together to inch across the counter. It was horrifying and fascinating. Jake couldn’t look away.
The alcohol began to burn off, the flames sputtering and shrinking. The hand shuddered and then began to move forward faster. Jake backed away until he ran into the wall behind him. We should have run when we had the chance, he thought.
Then the hand was doused again in flames. His mom had come up behind it and was spraying it with her improvised torch. Her lips were moving again and the flames went black. As soon as the black flames touched the hand, it exploded into thousands of shards of scorched skin and bone pieces. The ghostly hands that were controlling it turned into a mist and floated downward, disappearing in between the wooden floorboards beneath their feet.
Jake wanted to question his mother. He needed to know what was going on with the black flames and the exploding hand. She didn’t give him a chance, however, because she had immediately grabbed the fire extinguisher and began spraying down the kitchen with it. Taking a step back, Jake tried to wrap his head around everything that had happened to him lately, but it was all too much, especially when he noticed that there was no longer any trace of the hand that attacked them. Despite the sheer volume of pieces that shot away from the explosion, none of them remained anywhere that he could see.
“Before you ask me anything,” his mom broke into his thoughts, “let me explain. If you have any questions after, you can ask them then.”
Jake nodded his head in a stupor, expecting an explanation that would likely make no sense.
“Your father practiced what he called the ‘dark arts’. To be honest, when he first told me that, I thought he was joking. He always loved things about magic and dragons and all that, so I didn’t think much of it. He even made me memorize a couple ‘spells’ that were supposed to help me ward off evil. It was important to him, I could tell, so I just went along with it. Now I’m glad I did. That fire trick was one of the things he showed me.”
“Mom,” he started tentatively, “what happened to dad?”
She shook her head. There was more than a quiver to her voice, “Let me finish.”
Looking away, she sighed, and then she slumped to the ground, her back against the wall and the fire extinguisher across her lap. Jake thought she looked tired, which made sense for all kinds of reasons. It was technically when she’d normally be trying to get a couple hours of sleep, plus the craziness of the last few minutes.
Jake asked, “You okay?”
His mom smiled at him. It was a real smile, not one of the forced ones she so often had displayed in the last couple years. There was more than a hint of sadness to it but it was genuine all the same.
“Your father warned me,” she said a moment later, “that every spell has a cost. I’m exhausted.”
Jake, worried, started towards her. “Come on. We have to get out of here.”
“No, no,” she waved him away. “We’ve got some time. It can’t come back now for at least a couple hours. That’ll be long enough for me to get my story out and for us to prepare. I’ll have to teach you the spells your father taught me.”
“I’m…” Jake sputtered, “I’m going to learn magic?”
“If you want to live through this, then, yes.”
Here we are again. It’s another day that I was greeted with a WordPress notification. This notification, to be exact.
Eleven years. It’s been 11 years and 973 posts later I’m still here. Maybe not as much as I was when I first started on this blogging adventure, but I am still around.
I’m a day or two late in posting this, but for some reason it won’t let me reblog things from my phone so I had to wait until I actually had the time to sit down in front of my computer. Anyway… here’s part 5 of the story that the Jester and I are currently writing. Hope you enjoy it!
Here we are again. Another segment in the new story Revis and I are working on. We hope you are having a ghoully good time.
Jake’s mom snatched her hand back. Jake, startled, hadn’t realized he had never moved his hand off hers when he’d tried to get her attention. He was slightly embarrassed but pleased to see her eyes had returned to normal all the same. Coughing, Jake looked back to the screen.
His mother asked, “Did you read any of that?”
“Yes. I got a little bit of it before I blinked and it went back to being blurry.”
“This is so strange.”
“You’re telling me.”
Frowning, Jake’s mother looked at him. “Is there anything else you haven’t told me?”
“Not that I can think of, no. Why?”
She was taking all of this far more calmly than he ever could have imagined. It wasn’t that he…
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Here we go! It’s another installment of the new story written by Matticus and I! So, without further doo doo…
“No!” Jake screamed in rage as he jumped out of his bed.
The only thing going through his mind was saving his mother from the ghostly hands that were following her. As soon as he leapt up, however, the hands disappeared. She turned at his shout to see him rushing at her with anger on his face. To her credit, she didn’t back up. She didn’t even flinch. Jake’s mom stopped him dead in his tracks with just a look.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” she asked calmly.
Jake opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out. He thought about what to say to her. In his mind, there was really nothing he could tell her at this point that would make anything better. The truth? She’d probably stop him midway through the story to tell him to stop making things up.
“Well?” she said, impatience creeping into her voice.
He looked into her eyes for a few moments before his gaze dropped to the floor. “It doesn’t matter,” he mumbled.
“It does to me,” she countered.
“No, it doesn’t. If I told you what was really happening, you wouldn’t believe me.”
Jake’s mom stepped beside him and put her arm across his shoulders. “Try me.”
Jake was tired. He sighed and leaned against his mom. He didn’t think she’d believe a single word he said but he didn’t think he could handle what was going on without some sort of support. So, he might as well tell her. He had nearly been killed twice in less than a day. Even the worst that could happen if she didn’t believe him wasn’t worth worrying about in comparison.
“I think I’m, we’re being haunted.” He flicked his eyes up to check her expression, saw only her stone poker face, and quickly looked away. “Some days ago, I watched some hands pull a book off the shelf. I thought I dreamed it. Then yesterday all sorts of crazy things happened. I was choked twice. The books on my bookshelf all changed. I saw a guy was standing in my room for a minute. I’ve heard the front door open and steps come up the stairs a whole bunch of times. And, just now, I watched as hands were following after you to attack you. That’s why I jumped out of bed.”
Jake hazarded another glance at his mother, she was looking at the bookcase though, so he couldn’t read her expression. The fact that she hadn’t removed her arm from his shoulders or told him to quit being silly was encouraging though.
“What do you think?” He asked.
His mother didn’t immediately answer with words. Instead, she stood up, walked over to the bookcase, and picked up the copy of Unprepared that was sitting on it. “Didn’t you throw this away a while ago?”
Jake was floored. His mother had known he threw the book away? He thought he’d done a good job of hiding it from her. “Yeah,” he managed to stammer after recovering some of his wits.
She turned the book over. Her brows burrowed in thought once she saw the picture on the back. Bringing the book closer to get a better look, she chewed on her bottom lip for a minute until she spoke again. “This guy looks familiar,” she said absentmindedly, trying to think. “I feel like I’ve seen him lately.”
“He’s been legally declared dead,” Jake informed her.
When she turned her head to look at him, he just pointed to his laptop before walking over and finding the article again. He watched her as she read. The confusion on her face didn’t inspire much confidence in him. Wasn’t she the parent? Wasn’t she supposed to know exactly what to do in every situation?
“The longer I look at his picture,” she said, “the more I’m convinced that I’ve seen him recently. I just can’t place where.”
“I don’t know,” Jake said, trying to stifle a yawn. “Sorry, I’m not going to be much help. I haven’t gotten much sleep. While you were at work something tried to strangle me.”
His mom looked up from the picture of the author to study her son. Jake squirmed under her gaze.
She crossed to him swiftly and silently and pulled his shirt collar down to look at his neck. The speed of her movement startled him more than the action itself. If he’d been more rested he would have anticipated her response to his statement.
She asked, “What do you mean something tried to strangle you?”
“I woke up and something was pressing against my throat. I couldn’t breathe. I thought…” He stammered, “I thought I was going to die. Started to black out and then I grabbed that book,” he pointed to Unprepared, “and waved it around and the pressure on my neck went away.”
She raised her eyebrows, “Waved it around?”
Jake mimicked what he had done in the middle of the night, and felt pretty foolish doing it. Why would waving around that book have any impact on what had been choking him? Remembering the brief encounter with the author, Jake added, “He said, ‘Everything you need is here,’ while pointing to the bookcase.”
His mother went back over to the bookcase and looked at each book. After spending a few minutes at the task, all she could do was shrug. “These are your normal books,” she said. “I don’t see how any of these would help in a supernatural situation.”
“Well, my books weren’t on the shelves when he said it. There were a bunch of dark colored books with weird writing in them.”
That’s when it hit him. He’d taken pictures of the words on his laptop. He quickly brought up his picture folder so he could show his mother. When he clicked on the image, however, it was now suddenly blurry. “Figures,” Jake scoffed in frustration. Looking at his mom, he added, “These images were clear when I took them. I don’t know why they look like that now.”
She leaned in closer to get a better look at the grainy pictures. While she was staring at them, Jake began to feel something. It was something strange. There was an electricity in the air. The hair on his arm started standing up. All of the sudden, the room grew darker. Not completely dark, but definitely a few shades dimmer.
As all of that was happening, the image on the screen was becoming clearer. Jake turned to see if his mother was noticing the weirdness going on only to discover she was part of it. Her gaze remained fixed on the screen and her eyes were no longer their normal green. They were completely white, like they were rolling back in her head.
He tentatively touched her hand, “Mom?”
There was no response. She was completely zoned out. Or completely zoned in on whatever the heck is going on.
Jake followed her gaze and was amazed to find that not only had the picture become perfectly clear again but he could understand the words.
Whispering, Jake began to read. “Portals can be opened between the living and the dead but only for short periods of time. If you find yourself being attacked the best thing you can do is move swiftly away. The dead attacking you will not be able to hold the portal open, follow you, and attack you.
“However, once you have become a target, it is unlikely the ghost will leave you be until they’ve gotten what they want. They don’t sleep. Time isn’t the same for them. They can attack again as soon as they’ve built up enough energy to open the portal.
“So, while running away is a good temporary solution, at some point you will need to face your attacker, find out what they want, why they want it, and then figure out how you can get it for them.”
Jake’s eyes started to ache and he realized he hadn’t blinked since he’d started reading. He scrunched his eyes together and shook his head and then opened his eyes back up to pick up reading where’s he left off but the picture had gone blurry again.