CHAPTER 1: SPAWN
I woke up to birds chirping outside my window before opening my eyes. I imagined that I was a Disney princess, but then reality set in and I realized my irresponsible husband had slipped out during the night and forgot to shut the window behind him.
Disgruntled, I pulled back the covers and crossed the room to close the window, then after second thought, I locked it as well.
It was only early fall, but a chill was already in the air, and it had been unseasonably cold. Even though my blood ran hot I was having trouble keeping warm.
My husband was a pain, and the Silverdale factions were still the cause of many headaches, but fortunately, my daughter Brandy had begun to mature. It seemed as if she had left her demanding behavior behind in grammar school making parenting for the last two years a breeze.
She was on the brink of her thirteenth birthday, and though Brandy had told me she didn’t want a large party I knew she had rebuked the idea out of fear of overwhelming me, that is why Agnes and I were planning a surprise event.
I tip-toed out into the corridor and wasn’t surprised when I found Brandy’s bed empty. Unlike other pre-teens, she didn’t need prompting and was already in the bathroom across the hall getting ready for school.
I made my way downstairs to the dining room where Dr. Briggs was already seated at the head of the table nibbling on some toast with perched to his left eating her morning dish of nuts.
“Good morning, Anna,” Agnes greeted me as she forked some sausages onto Emanuel’s plate, “How did you sleep?”
“Pretty well,” I told her, “I just woke up freezing, Mattie must have had the urge to shift during the early morning hours and had forgotten to shut the window.
“It has been unseasonably cold,” Emanuel grumbled, “The ladies of The Silver Bullet have taken to wearing sweaters and will no longer accept change.”
“I bet those poor girls miss that when they are shopping at The Dollar and Some Change,” Agnes quipped.
“Good morning, my lovelies,” Brandon cried as he glided across the dining room, only pausing to peck Agnes on the cheek as she hurried to pour him coffee. “
“You seem chipper,” I commented, “I figured you would be all gloomy with Charlie being out of town for the pottery convention.”
“I thought so too,” Brandon told me, “But then I rediscovered the joy of sleeping alone, can you believe it? I had the entire bed to myself.”
I tucked in my lower lip, thinking it would be nice if Mattie would stay put long enough to be a bother. “You’ll miss him by the end of the week,” I told him, “The temps are due to drop.”
Agnes slid a plate of fried eggs and ham in front of Brandy’s empty chair, “Speaking of cold things, Brandy better hustle if she wants a warm breakfast.”
“I’ll see what’s keeping her,” Brandon offered, placing his coffee to the side and pushing back his chair.
Agnes collected Brandon’s cup and passed Ruff, who had just come in from the outside by the smell of it. He held a disheveled paper in his mouth, which he offered to Dr. Briggs.
“Thanks, Ruff,” Dr. Briggs said, accepting the large, folded sheets which he attempted to organize. “Though I would appreciate it more if you didn’t feel the need to read it first.”
“Sorry Dr. Briggs,” Ruff said, lowering his ears slightly. “I just couldn’t resist, look who is today’s cover boy once again.”
Dr. Briggs turned the paper so he could gaze at the large black and white photo of Silverdale’s mayor, an orange tabby named Tom.
“Oh, boy,” I cried, “What has he done now?”
“The witches are filing a sexual assault suit against the town. It seems as if young Tom chased one of them after they had left a coven meeting, several witnesses to the event are claiming that they had been sprayed as well,” Dr. Briggs summarized.
“Why can’t we ever get a decent politician into office?” Emanuel said as he shook his head in disapproval.
“Silverdale hasn’t had a decent mayor since Ruff,” I commented, reaching over to scratch the Golden Retriever behind the ears.
“Poor, Mayor Tom,” Agnes piped in as she emerged from the kitchen with a hot pot of coffee to freshen Dr. Brigg’s cup, “Those witches need to travel around on brooms as they did in the good old days. Shifting into cats, female ones at that only confuse the poor strays around town.”
“Didn’t they have to retire brooms during the witch trials?” I asked.
“Yes, unfortunately,” Agnes sighed, “It’s much easier to set a witch on fire with a broom that can be used for kenneling.”
I was about to suggest we come up with a solution to prevent the witches from being accosted when there was a large screech sounded from above us, causing us all to jump in our seats, startled.
“Everyone, stay in your seats,” Emanuel said, standing as a rush of footprints could be heard on the stairs.
I held my breath with everyone else, terrified of the footsteps we heard coming toward us at a rapid pace. Suddenly, Brandon appeared, and though my shoulders sagged slightly at the sight of him, I tensed up again when I saw that his hair was windswept, the blood had drained from his face, and his eyes were as large as saucers.
Before I could inquire as to what had happened, he scurried to his seat. “Brandy is coming,” he told us in warning tones, “Everyone play it cool and don’t make any sudden moves.”
Dr. Briggs regarded Brandon with confusion, but before he could question Brandon, we heard footfalls on the stairs. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
I looked at Agnes terrified as she posed with the coffee pot, prepared to use it as a weapon. A pin drop could be heard in the dining room as we all held our breaths, waiting for whatever was producing such a ruckus to emerge.
“I smell sulfur,” Ruff exclaimed, dashing beneath the table so he could cower beneath my legs.
The beast I had expected didn’t make an appearance, what turned the corner was my petite daughter Brandy, dressed in black track pants, and a hot pink top, with her pale hair in braids.
“WHAT ARE YOU ALL STARING AT?” she demanded, her voice deep and distorted as she took her seat and gazed down at her plate.
“Can I get you some salt and pepper for your eggs?” Agnes offered in a conversational tone.
“STRAWBERRY JAM,” Brandy answered.
“Strawberry jam? On ham?” Agnes questioned.
Brandy made fists around her utensils as she focused her gaze on Agnes, “I SAID STRAWBERRY JAM!,” she insisted.
“Brandy,” I scolded her, “That is no way to talk to Agnes!”
Brandy turned to me, her eyes flickered as a flame lit up her gaze, “LEAVE ME ALONE MOTHER, AND STOP RUINING MY LIFE!”
“No lives need to be ruined, today,” Agnes said in a soothing tone as she returned with a bottle of strawberry syrup, which she began to douse Brandy’s breakfast with.
I watched in horror as Brandy began devouring the strawberry-soaked meat and poultry and nearly gagged when she washed it down with orange juice.
I expanded my nostrils, the thing setting beside me smelled like Brandy, but there was something there as well. I looked at Brandon horrified, but he was staring at his plate, appearing traumatized.
“Brandy, would you like a ride to school today?” Dr. Briggs asked, uncertainly.
Brandy turned to him, “NO THANKS PAPAW, I’M CATCHING A RIDE WITH JESSICA AND HER SISTER.”
“Oh, I had forgotten that little Lindsey now has her driver’s license,” Dr. Briggs said, keeping his tone light, “You kids certainly do grow up fast.”
Suddenly there was an alert at the gate, which prompted Brandy. “I HAVE TO GO GET MY BACKPACK,” she said, hurrying to return upstairs. I gaped at Dr. Briggs and was about to demand what was going on, but he put a finger to his lip, cautioning me not to speak.
A few moments later, we could hear the front door open, just as Brandy returned downstairs.
“YOU ARE EARLY,” Brandy said accusingly.
“I WANTED TO GET TO SCHOOL EARLY SO I COULD GET A SEAT NEXT TO BRADY,” Brandy’s friend Jessica replied in demonic tones.
“I DON’T BLAME YOU, HE IS PRETTY CUTE,” Brandy responded, then they both giggled, a sound that could only be described as chewing broken glass while listening to an out-of-tune radio with the volume blasting.
I felt my spine squirm as I cupped my hand around the side of my mouth and called, “Have a good day dear.”
“YOUR MOM IS SO LAME,” Jessica told Brandy.
“TELL ME ABOUT IT,” Brandy responded as they exited the house.
Once they exited the house, it was as if darkness had lifted, I clutched my chest, realizing that my heart had clinched up the way it did when I was in the presence of pure evil.
Dr. Briggs turned to Sue, “If I were you, I would return everything you have stolen from Brandy’s room.”
Sue who was still holding a half-eaten nut, dropped her food and hopped off the table without argument. Leaving behind a pile of pellets.
Emanuel was trembling, a tear escaped the corner of his eye and slid down his face. “They were so terrifying,” he declared.
Agnes put a comforting arm around him, and he turned so he could bury his face into her waist. “I was so scared, Agnes,” he told her.
“What is happening?” I asked, reaching down to pet Ruff who was trembling beneath the table. “What is wrong with my daughter? Has she been possessed?”
“I wish it were that simple,” Dr. Briggs said, reaching over and grasping my shoulder, “But I’m afraid Brandy has started going through puberty.”