A Ghost Story Part 6

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.

“Now!”

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.”

Don’t Tell (Original Version)

I mentioned in the comments of my post Don’t Tell that there was a previous version of the story that I thought was funnier, but I didn’t post it because it could be considered kinda creepy. Well, the funny part has now won out and I decided that I’m going to go ahead and post the original idea I had for this story. Hopefully, you all find this more funny than creepy.

She looked around at the clothes thrown all over the floor in horror. “What have we done?” she asked.

“I don’t know about you, but I just had sex.”

“I’m being serious,” she huffed as she started getting dressed. “That was wrong.”

“Why was it wrong?” the young woman replied. “I’m over eighteen. What we did was perfectly legal. What’s the problem?”

“The problem is that I’m married to your father!”

Good Day

He gave half a smile.

This was the best day he had in a long time. He didn’t have to work. Somehow, he managed to sleep in well past when his alarm normally went off. When he finally did wake up, he found a text message waiting for him from the girl he really liked. Over and over in his mind, he went over all of the good things that happened to him that day.

It was almost enough to allow him to block out the pain as his flesh was devoured by demons.

The Twelfth Knight Part 6

Pain ripped across his shoulder blades from the unblocked attack. Roscoe had moved quickly enough that the wound wasn’t deep, but it still hurt worse than any other that he’d ever received. He kept moving forward toward the sound of the whimpering wainwright. When he was close to where he thought Worram was, he swung his sword in a wide arc in front of him.

He cursed the magical darkness as his weapon struck nothing but air. His shoulders burst into new waves of pain, but he took a step forward and swung again anyway. This time he was rewarded with the feeling of his sword digging into the flesh of his opponent. He shouted, “Worram, run! Run for your life!”

Roscoe heard the sound of the wainwright scrambling along the floor just as he felt the blade of his other opponent enter his back, halfway down the right side. He stumbled forward, trying to escape from his attacker, but his energy was depleted and he grew weaker with each uneasy step. Determined to keep fighting, he was betrayed by his body, which fell to the floor. He heard Merlinus yelling to his people to let the wainwright go. With his last ounce of energy, he smiled because he had accomplished saving the man.

The next few moments were a confusing rush of images. First, the darkness was replaced by an almost blinding light. Then, he saw his cousin, Conroe, floating over him. Next, stars swirled around his vision. The darkness came back momentarily before the stars returned.

“Such strange things to see when you die,” Roscoe thought to himself.

“Don’t you dare die on me,” a voice responded.

Roscoe wondered where the voice came from. It wasn’t his. Before he could find the answer, he felt himself slipping away. Just as he was about to fall completely, an electrifying jolt shot through his whole body. More stars danced in his view. Images from his life passed in front of his eyes as another jolt shook him. A warmth began at his chest and slowly spread throughout the rest of him.

That warmth went away in an instant when he felt a hard slap across his face.

“Wake up!”

He opened his eyes and saw his cousin standing protectively over him. Eyes darting, he saw a few of his fellow Knights in the warehouse, fighting against Merlinus’ people. “We’re not done yet,” Conroe yelled, parrying a sword thrust from an enemy. “Now, get up and help us out!”

Roscoe tried to rise, but couldn’t find the energy. He took a few deep breaths to steel himself for his next attempt. A flash passed over top of his face from the swords of the duo fighting above him. His hand ran back and forth over the floor around him until it found what he was looking for. Fingers wrapped around the hilt and he raised the blade until it hit the belly of the man fighting his cousin. It didn’t do any harm, but it was enough to distract the man for Conroe to finish him off.

He reached out, Conroe grabbed his hand, and helped him to his feet.

“How…” Roscoe began.

“Later,” Conroe cut him off. “We’ll talk when we don’t have people trying tokill us.”

Just then, a dagger flashed out at him. Roscoe managed to push it out wide, but just barely. “I’m still weak,” he said to his cousin. “Don’t go too far.”

“Don’t worry,” Conroe laughed as he stepped in to dispatch the knife wielder. “I didn’t save you just to let you die again.”

The two cousins fought back to back as more of Merlinus’ people came at them. The Knights of the Kingdom were outnumbered, but they were better trained and had fought together before. Merlinus’ people were mercenaries who might’ve been good fighters on their own, but hadn’t fought with each other before. They often stepped in front of one of their compatriots, ruining an attack opportunity or throwing one another off balance. Even though he wasn’t at full strength, Roscoe was able to keep up with them, although he had Conroe there to back him up perfectly. Any time his condition put him in harm’s way, his cousin stepped in to save him.

Roscoe turned just in time to see Conroe block another attack aimed at his backside. While his cousin had the attacker engaged, Roscoe delivered a killing blow to the man’s chest. He swirled back around to check for any other hostiles. Not seeing any, he went to thank Conroe for his assistance. The look on Conroe’s face when he did, though, was odd. It was a mix of confusion and pain. Before he could ask what was wrong, Conroe dropped to his knees, then fell face first onto the ground.

Standing behind Conroe was the man who had brought Roscoe to the meeting. In his hand was a bloody short sword. The eerie feeling that the man instilled in him on the way to the building intensified. “You’re going to die for bringing the Knights down upon us,” the man said with a menacing tone.

Roscoe inadvertently shivered because he knew that if looks could kill, he’d be dead already.

The Twelfth Knight: Part 4

Roscoe had patrolled these streets for years and thought he knew every inch of the city. As he followed the man after leaving the tavern, he found that he still had a lot to learn. There were times he would see a familiar landmark, and he would recognize the general area he was in, but it was at an angle that he had never looked at it before. He was confident in the tavern because he thought he would know where he was going. Now, he might be heading into the unknown.

That wasn’t a pleasant thought to him.

Still, Roscoe knew he had a job to do, so he trudged on. The menacing man didn’t say a word as they made their way from one back alley to the next. Roscoe wasn’t about to complain. There was something about the man that frightened him a little. While Roscoe was both taller and more physically imposing, there was something about the other man that was unnerving. As far as he was concerned, the less interaction he had with the man, the better off he would be.

A building came into sight that he recognized. It sat on the outskirts of town. The building was a storage facility for the man who made and repaired all of the wagon wheels for the castle and the surrounding town. Roscoe had known the wainwright for years and couldn’t believe that he was involved in something like this.

A shudder ran down his spine.

He had known the wainwright for years. If the wagon maker was involved in this, he would be in the building and would recognize him immediately. His plan to infiltrate the mercenary group of Merlinus might be over almost as quickly as it began. Then again, he still wasn’t sure if he was going to Merlinus’ group. It was possible that the group he was on the way to meet was being led by someone else.

Roscoe shook his head slightly. It was times like this that reminded him why he was still the Twelfth Knight of the Kingdom. If he was a better planner, he might’ve moved up by now. If he got out of this mess, he vowed to spend more time studying strategy instead of using all of his time practicing swordplay.

“What?”

Having been paying attention to his own inner monologue, it took Roscoe a few moments to recognize that the question had been directed at him. The menacing man had stopped and was staring right at him. “What?” Roscoe echoed back.

“Why were you shaking your head?”

He put on a look of defiance. “It’s none of your concern.”

“I’m about to introduce you to some very dangerous people,” the man said, slowly moving his hands toward the small of his own back. “People who could make both of us disappear very easily. You’re not worth dying for, so your business is now my business.”

His mind racing almost as fast as his heart, Roscoe somehow remained calm on the outside while he blurted out the first thing that popped into his head. “Look, I know you’re just being careful, but this maze you have us running is getting ridiculous. I just want to get where we’re going and get this over with.”

The man eyed him suspiciously. Roscoe couldn’t tell whether or not the man believed him, although his gut said that he didn’t. Still, all the man said was, “In this business, being careful rarely gets you killed, but being sloppy always does.”

The man walked him over to the door on the wainwright’s building and opened the door for him. He walked in, but not without keeping the man in his sight as he did so. There was almost no light in the area he was in. No windows could be seen. All he saw was a lantern hanging from a stack of wagon wheels off to his left. An indistinguishable figure stood at the edge of the light. Not knowing what else to do, Roscoe walked toward the lantern.

As he got closer, the figure at the edge of the light was revealed to be the wainwright, Worram. Fear covered Worram’s face. Obviously, the wainwright was being held here against his will. The amount of fear radiating from Worram was almost enough to make Roscoe run up to him with a comforting hand, but he caught himself before that happened. If he did that, they were both dead.

When Roscoe reached the light’s edge, more lanterns flickered on all at once. There were no people standing next to them, meaning that they were lit magically. It was a move that he knew was meant to put him off balance and, unfortunately for him, it was working. With magic in play, almost anything could happen. There were too many variables to even begin to formulate any kind of plan. All he could do was hope he could improvise a way out of this situation.

Worram looked at him and the recognition lit up his eyes. Roscoe winced, thinking that the wainwright would blow his cover, but Worram surprisingly stayed silent. Standing next to Worram, just inside of where the darkness was, an older man looked Roscoe over, sizing him up. Apparently satisfied, the older man began to speak.

“I hear you wish to join my crew,” the old man said.

“No,” Roscoe responded. “All I wanted was a job. Maybe if it goes well, we’ll talk about me joining permanently. Until then, I’ll stick with just one job.”

“Sorry. We don’t do just one job. You’re either all in or all out. And people who know about us have to be all in or they’ll become all dead.”

“Merlinus,” the menacing man said as he gestured for the older man to lean down.

Roscoe couldn’t believe his luck. The old man was Merlinus. He had done it. He’d found the mercenary leader that Revis and Matticus had been looking for.

Then he remembered that the assignment was only to find out if the rumors of Merlinus being in town were true. He wasn’t supposed to make contact. And here he was, in a storage facility with the mercenary leader and at least one of his henchmen. Who knew how many others were hidden in the building? All he could do now was keep himself in Merlinus’ good graces until he saw a chance to escape.

“So,” Merlinus began after the menacing man was finished whispering in his ear, “do you want to join my crew or not?”

“It doesn’t seem like I got much of a choice, does it?”

“Excellent,” Merlinus exclaimed happily. “In order to join my crew, you have to perform a task.”

“He already told me,” Roscoe said, pointing to the menacing man. “I’ve got to fight one of your other hopefuls.”

“Oh, no. I’ve got something different in mind for you. Call it a test of your commitment to our cause.”

“And what is this test?”

Merlinus smiled widely. With a flick of his hand, he pointed at Worram. “Kill him.”