Rise and Fall
The first mortal embodiment of Felix von Holton was sometime in the early sixteenth century during King Henry VIII’s reign of England. While little is known about what kind of man Felix was during this period, what is known is that he was ultimately labeled a heretic, cursed by priests, and unceremoniously burned at the stake for practicing black magic, specifically, necromancy, otherwise known as the summoning of spirits in an attempt to raise them from the dead.
More than a century ticked by after his death before another, more reckless, necromancer successfully raised Felix in a midnight magic circle conjuration and reincarnated him into the body of a deceased homeless person. While Felix assumed the mortal existence of the dead man, he transformed the physical appearance of the body to that of his form from the sixteenth century. Following his rebirth, he apprenticed for many years, honing his death magic under the guidance of the necromancer until Felix believed he had reached the pinnacle of the craft. Ignorant and bursting with delusions of grandeur, he grew elusive, pretentious, and beyond reproach as his dark art surpassed that of the man who raised him from the dead. In the end, Felix rewarded the man by slitting his throat while the necromancer slept. Unhappy with the state of religion during the mid-century English Civil War, he spent the balance of his mortal life in an attempt to raise a dead army to create his makeshift holy war that he envisioned would change how life was in England. Following multiple imprudent and failed demonstrations, Felix, again, found death at the hands of those in charge, this time in the form of beheading by order of the Parliament of England.
Centuries would again pass, and Felix remained trapped in the netherworld that existed beyond death. With necromancy falling mostly out of favor with practitioners of black magic, his opportunity to be raised again seemed to dwindle with each passing generation. It wasn’t until World War I broke out in Europe did chance once again provide the opportunity for Felix to return to the mortal world when an eighteen-year-old man, a fledgling practitioner of necromancy, inadvertently opened a portal between worlds after a gemstone attuned to his raw, supernatural ability, attracted the evil spirit. Felix once again rose from the dead and possessed the body of the nearest unsuspecting mortal, in this case, the best friend of the young necromancer, consuming his soul in the possession. Again, he transformed the physical appearance of the possessed body to resemble that of his own, leaving no trace of the man who once was. Released from his eternal prison and feeling exonerated from his the misdeeds of his past, Felix fled England and immediately resumed his effort to raise his dead army. The young man, distraught over the loss of his friend and enraged that he gave passage to this evil spirit, spent the next several decades searching for the now mortal being to return him to the land of the dead. Finally, in 1963, just days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the two met again in North America, and the man, then in his late sixties, shot and killed Felix, sending him back to the netherworld and putting an end to his evil doing. Since that day, and being banished back to the eternal anguish of whatever existed after death, the soul of Felix von Holton resumed its relentless, desperate effort to find a passage back to the world of the living to return to his wicked schemes.
Nearly twenty years later, a beacon of light appeared suddenly, burning so very brightly that it penetrated the netherworld and attracted the dark spirt, Felix, to it. It was a child. One with the gift. It was Grayson Montgomery. The evil spirit would spend years taunting the child in hopes of manipulating him into opening another portal to the living world, but, due in part to Grayson’s guardian angel, Abraham McCray, Felix’s effort was to no avail. This tormented and enraged the dark soul even further. His spirit would spend the next several years relentlessly seeking out Grayson anytime the mortal entered a cemetery in hopes for the day where a chance opportunity would once again provide passage to the mortal universe.
Near the north entrance in an open area of Biscayne Park Cemetery reserved for the unidentified or unclaimed deceased that come from area hospitals and morgues, the grave plots are marked only by tall, thin, metal markers with a vinyl identification number affixed to them. No names. No dates. No epitaphs. A seemingly unceremonious and apathetic way of marking an anonymous one’s legacy upon the earth.
Standing at one of those freshly buried sites, Vander Nash confirmed with Bobby, who called the hospital earlier that week to ensure that “32770” was the correct location where the remains of Denny Hayes had been buried. Given he had no living next of kin, his eternal fate was to be laid to rest among the others in the nameless section of the cemetery, with his grave marked only by an official number assigned by the city morgue. With his firearm still pointed at Andreanna, Vander explained the reason why he brought Grayson to the site. “You know, I’m a pretty simple man, Mister Montgomery. I get up every morning, and I take stock in the things that I can count on each day. I guess you can say I’m a realist in that way. I need to be able to see something to know what I’m dealing with. I don’t really have a lot of room in my life for religion, God, or miracles. I’ve seen way too many bad things in my life to believe in any of that. So when the piece of shit buried in this hole stole twenty cars in the care of my team - expensive cars, mind you, that don’t belong to me - and then this damn fool up and died before he could tell us where he put them, well, you can imagine, being the realist that I am that I thought it was all over for us at that point.”
Grayson suddenly grew wise as to why he was forced to enter that cemetery and the all too familiar, overwhelming dread washed over him as it so often did whenever his curse was about to create problems for him. And as he stood there, in the distance, he began to take notice of the many spirits that grew attracted to their presence in the cemetery. While nobody else could see them, Andreanna noticed his growing agitation, knowing that something was up, and it had everything to do with being in that graveyard.
Oblivious to the rising tension amongst the spirits in the cemetery created by Grayson’s presence, Vander continued, “And then Bobby here showed me a video of you talking to the dearly departed of one of the audience members on your show. Now, as you can imagine, I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing, but between you being so damn convincing and the simple truth that if I don’t recover those missing cars, well, I will spare you the unpleasantries of my predicament. Let’s just say I really need you to talk to Mister Denny Hayes, the man who’s buried at our feet to find out what I need to know to recover those vehicles.”
And there it was. Perhaps the single, most threatening concern Grayson Montgomery carried around with him ever since he could remember, much like a dark shadow when he walked, was the worry that his gift would motivate someone to bring harm to him or others in his inner circle in an effort to strong-arm Grayson to use his ability to talk to the dead in exchange to gain some knowledge or information from beyond the grave. It was the very reason why he didn’t like doing interviews, and it was that nagging feeling that greeting him in the mornings of taping day for his nationally syndicated television program. He had something that a desperate person could exploit if that person were driven to the edge of despair, and the person before him, holding the gun on the woman he loved, was that person.
Grayson looked around. While many spirits were drawing closer to the group, he saw no sign of any soul near the grave that presented itself as the dearly departed of which the gunman referred to. “I beg your pardon, sir,” he started, firmly, yet respectfully, speaking to Vander, “while I understand you may have learned of my abilities by watching one of my programs, what you probably didn’t learn is that I can’t simply call a spirit from the dead. I can communicate with spirits that voluntarily present themselves to me, but I can’t force any to talk to me. It just doesn’t work that way. Not for me, anyway.”
This response did not compute with Vander. “Let me get this straight, Mister Montgomery. You mean to tell me you can talk to the dead, but you can’t call out to them?”
“That’s right. The dead usually seek me out.”
“Well, son. Is our boy, Denny Hayes, down there, calling to you?”
“No, he is not.”
Vander lowered the pistol and began rubbing his forehead with his other hand. “Well, that is simply unfortunate as we really need you to talk to our dead friend.” He stepped closer to Grayson, invading his space and moving close to his face. “I’m going to suggest that you give it another try, Mister Montgomery.”
Grayson took a sincere look around the area to see if any of the spirits were reaching out and identifying themselves as Denny Hayes. The ghostly crowd around the group had grown substantially in size to the point where they were surrounded by about thirty or forty souls, all of which, naturally, only Grayson could see.
“I’m sorry, but none of the spirits are coming forward to say that they are Mister Hayes,” Grayson replied.
His patience had run thin, replaced only by the anxiety that he was feeling by the impending visit of Jack Moretti. Unsure if Grayson was stonewalling him or if the man was being truthful about not seeing the spirit of Denny Hayes, nonetheless, it was all still the wrong outcome. Believing it to be the former, Vander gut-punched Grayson, knocking the medium to his knees near the grave marker, followed by a scream from Andreanna, who crouched down to comfort him.
“At this point, Mister Montgomery, you may want to reconsider your meager attempt at communicating with our late acquaintance and try again,” Vander added, looking down at Grayson. As he delivered the warning, he noticed the sizeable purple gemstone that hung from a thick chain around Grayson’s neck that must have popped out of his shirt after Vander punched him. “My, my, what is this?” he asked, bending over to pull the necklace off of his helpless hostage. “This has got to be one of the largest and most wonderful gems I have ever seen. Is this a diamond, Mister Montgomery?”
Struggling to catch his breath from the punch, he fought for the words. “You… don’t… want… that.”
“Oh, but maybe I do,” Vander replied, holding the diamond up to look at it in the morning light. “This has got to be one of the world’s largest colored diamonds. Larger than the Royal Purple Heart. What is it worth? Tens of millions of dollars?”
Being a true opportunist that he was, seeing that large gemstone, Vander all but forgot why they were standing in that cemetery. Suddenly the focus was off of trying to communicate with the dead, but with him holding Grayson’s soul stone, the situation had grown from bad to worse.
“Listen,” Grayson coughed to catch his breath. “You don’t want to be holding that stone. Terrible things can happen.” Abraham’s words were streaming back to him about how a charged soul stone shined like a beacon to the dead.
“Terrible things, Mister Montgomery?” Vander asked, looking down at him. “Sir, my life has been filled with terrible things.”
While Vander continued to admire the soul stone, Grayson noticed a dark spirit suddenly appear off in the distance. By this point, the effects of holding Grayson’s soul stone began to overtake Vander, much as it did when Andreanna wore the stone for the first time on the yacht. Without warning, he started to see all of the agitated spirits in the cemetery, as well as the dozens surrounding them.
Still, on his knees, Grayson’s eyes grew wide as the dark spirit approached Denny’s gravesite with a confident, yet wicked smirk on his face. As it spoke its first words, Vander, who could now hear them as if they were being affected by an echoing, ghostly sound filter, turned and saw the spiritual apparition of Felix von Holton, Grayson’s nemesis from the spiritual realm.
“So bright, do you shine this day!” Felix announced in his English accent, as, without warning, he stepped into and possessed the body of Vander Nash. Vander jolted backward violently as if he was struck by a cow prod, causing him to drop the soul stone onto the freshly buried gravesite of Denny Hayes, in front of Grayson. Bobby, Jimmy, and the others did not see the possession but instead witnessed the horror as Vander doubled over and covered his face as he screamed in pain. The soul of Vander Bartholomew Nash was being consumed and replaced by an evil entity that had so desperately yearned to leave the netherworld.
“What the hell is wrong?” Bobby asked, watching his boss writhing and screaming.
Without thinking, while the commotion of Vander’s transformation continued, Grayson grabbed the soul stone and quickly gave it to Andreanna, who pocketed it immediately while Vander’s face transformed to take on some of Felix’s facial features. After the screaming subsided, Vander regained his composure and stood upright, although Grayson knew, this wasn’t the same person that took Tommy the Wrench hostage earlier that morning.
Looking at Grayson, Felix greeted him in his new mortal shell. “Good Morning, Master Grayson,” He started with a smile. “I truly can’t tell you how good it is to see you this fine day.” This change in voice, inflection, and mannerism confused Jimmy and Bobby, who stood by horrified, speechless and still.
Disturbed by the unholy possession that just materialized before him, Grayson rose to his feet.
“Grayson is this…,” Andreanna whispered.
“Yes,” he interrupted. “This is Felix.”
“Indeed, and now that I’m back in the world of the living, so many things are going to need to change.” It was Vander’s mouth speaking, but it was Felix’s words coming out.
“This isn’t right, Felix,” Grayson started. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“Oh, but I am, lad,” he replied with his eyebrows raised. “Unfortunately for you, however, the future doesn’t hold room for both of us.”
It was with those words that the unthinkable, and to Andreanna’s horror, the ultimate worst thing happened. Felix pointed the gun at Grayson. He fired a single shot into his gut, sending the billionaire medium to his knees again, doubled over in pain, with Andreanna once more rushing to his side, hysterical.
While nobody else could hear them, dozens of voices of the dead called and screamed out as Felix squeezed the trigger. Through the shock and the pain, Grayson felt their anguish and spiritual support as he lay there next to the unmarked grave of Denny Hayes, writhing in agony.
“Goodbye, old friend,” Felix announced to the gravely wounded Grayson as he turned to address the McDougal Brothers.
Bobby looked over the man he had known for many years, unsure of who stood there now. “Vander?” he uttered, skeptical of his own question.
“The man you knew who once possessed this body is no more,” Felix responded, holstering the pistol. “However, you two chaps may prove to be helpful to me after all.” He raised both of his arms and closed his eyes. Moments later, two spirits rose from the ground and possessed the bodies of Jimmy and Bobby. Much like Vander’s possession, after a few horrific moments, both men regained their composure, and the dawn of Felix’s dead army had arrived with his first two soldiers.
While the three villains made their way back to their SUV in the north parking lot, Andreanna gently rolled Grayson over to cradle him in her arms. Kneeling on the cold ground as the morning sun rose above the trees in Biscayne Park Cemetery, with impending certain doom upon him and tears in both of their eyes, she pleaded with him for the answer as to what she should do at that point.
Grayson Montgomery, gifted medium, famous international celebrity, and the love of Andreanna’s life, was bleeding out from his gunshot wound and dying in her arms.
Pale-faced, gasping for air, and with blood trickling out of his mouth, he whispered to her while struggling to draw breath, “Abraham,” he choked as he spoke, “Take me to Abraham.”