bout two dozen people filled the room eerie in their long black robes, hoods over their heads. A heavy breathing reverberated in the large chamber and a foul scent. From the center of the penta-
gram a hideous figure rose, The Devil Incarnate.
At the corner of each point of the pentagram a pot of coals burned on a four-foot high pedestal and on the front one a crystal skull rested. It can’t be, is it?
From what she had read, the devil was most vulnerable when he transversed from his realm to this one. In the pentagram he could be trapped, only once he was fully here.
“Thanks for that. I’ll take over now.” Becca strode regally into the room. Her whip coiled on her hip. She had donned a red flowing cape, the sign of the pentagram on it in black, her stilettos making an eerie clicking noise as she walked in.
Shit, that figures she was the master of ceremonies. Made sense. Bitch, wasn’t kidding when she said she’d get even.
Becca bowed before the grotesque figure in the center and began to chant.
Ilas micalzolo obelre doa casare Aidagh era aftame qus ah Moza, maoffasa. Noca, hoatha Saitan!
We welcome you to this realm most powerful being. One of the burning flame! You are called to this kingdom: Move and appear before the mysteries of your creation! I am the same as you, a humble servant!
The true worshipper of the holiest King of Hell!
“Now, bring us the first of three gifts we offer, the gift of pleasure, followed by the gifts of blood.”
Someone in the crowd gasped as Carol was rolled before the altar and her white covering pulled aside. Carol couldn’t tell who it was behind the mask or who it came from. She shivered from the cool air on her nearly naked body.
The foul being in the pentagram growled. Carol gasped at the size of his phallic member as it dangled obscenely near his knees. It moved one cloven hoof forward materializing, now fully here, red lights from lands below flooding upward.
“Bombs away,” yelled someone in the crowd as they lurched forward, grabbed Cider and flung it behind the hideous creature. It screamed in rage as a crystal skull filled the center of the pentagram and jammed itself into place. The red lights from below blocked.
“Carol, you know what to do,” yelled Agnes. “He can’t retreat, cut off his forward progress.”
What to do? The moment. One with the flames. Fire flickered with a blue haze in the burners. The Lekwungen. Carol flung herself at one of the alters and knocked it over. The creature turned to lunge slowly at her still disorientated from its journey through the ether, she knocked another aside. Blue creatures erupted from the sparks and shards of coal and began to tear at the devil.
Rebecca screamed her rage and moved to stop Carol as the room filled with screams of beasts being tortured. The devil incarnate writhing in agony as the Lekwungen tore their rage into him.
Carol grabbed another pot of burning coals and threw them at Becca. Coals went flying, sizzling across the air. Landing all over her.
“Crazy bitch.” Rebecca screamed, pulling her whip loose as she shook
her head, her hair singed and melted away, smoke oozed from it. “You’re going to pay for that.”
“Takes one to know one.”
A shot rang out. Her shoulder exploded in agony. Carol dropped the last hot pan. Charcoal exploding as it hit the ground. Jake took aim again, “Good bye, skirt. No one does that to my mistress.” Another shot took her high in the chest. Blood spurted behind her. Carol crumpled to the ground as Jake took aim again. Her vision dimmed.
Flames from the pots flickered to life as figures emerged. Beings of fire, some licked at the wall hangings, they exploded in flames. Others ran after the mob of people, robes began to go up in flames. Pandemonium reigned.
Smoke billowed to the stone ceiling.
Agnes leaped towards Jake and pushed him and Becca towards the raging beast trapped within the points of the pentagram, screaming its anger. It knew if it stepped off the pentagram it was trapped in this realm.
The beast grabbed them both by the throat.
A flash of fire as the blue beings followed Agnes and everything from within vanished.
She clutched at a rosary bead and the figure of Christ on the cross. The devil’s hand burned at the touch and it dropped Agnes as the Lekwungen surged towards it and surrounded the pentagram. The beast grabbed Jake by the throat and in one smooth flick of its hand, a loud snap rang out. He flung the man from the circle as the mysterious blue winged Fairy being appeared. It stared at Agnes as she struggled to her feet and the bleeding Carol as she lay on the ground, blood pouring from her chest.
“You have no idea what you’ve done. For this you will have to pay,” Becca said as she pulled her whip free.
The fairy flew into Becca and pushed her into the pentagram, screaming.
“No!” she screamed as the evil creature grabbed her. Saliva dripped from its mouth as it tried to fight off the Lekwungen raging all around it. Several exploded as it flung her around like a rag doll, swatting them away.
Then, its need for pleasure overruled everything else. It tore Becca’s leather from her, the arousal taking over.
“Oh, looks like the main course is off, I think he’ll enjoy the alternative instead,” Agnes yelled to Carol as she rushed to her aid trying to stem the flow of blood.
The redhead screamed as the devil pulled her to him and sank his insidiously long tongue down her throat.
Using the creature’s distraction, Agnes dove into the pentagram, grabbed Cider and continued rolling out of the way. Unable to support either end the circle collapsed into a black vacuum trapping the two within.
Only Agnes, the Lekwungen, and the still figures of Carol and Jake remained in the room as sirens began to echo outside. Rebecca’s screams faded away as both her and the devil faded into some corner of hell to be trapped for all time.
Carol gasped, blood streaming from her chest and her mouth as Agnes came back to her and covered her nearly naked body with her robe. She tried to stem the flow of blood.
“This one is the last first-born male of the Rizzuto line, the one you seek,” Agnes pointed to Jake. From the walls several smoking blue forms surge forth and grab his shadowy essence trying to leave the room. A background scream silently filled her ears as the fire ghosts grab his shadowy frame and pulled him back to the dank walls. It is done. They echoed to her before disappearing. We may rest now, and we are released.
Agnes cried out as Carol moaned. “I can’t stop the bleeding. She’s dying, you need to help her.”
We cannot, we are already dead. The Lekwungen said, their voices echoing into the room as they began to flow upwards into the earth.
“You bastards. You can’t leave her here like this. Hang on, Carol, hang on.” Carol’s body went limp. Blood oozing into the white sheet.
Carol cried out as nine white beings descended, called to her soul about to pass into their realm. The nuns in large flowing gowns and began to circle, forming the sign of the cross over themselves, praying.
The blue being began to follow the others upwards. Several turned and glared at it. “Stay away from us,” they sneered.
The fairy sank to its knees, tearing began to flow down its face. We are unwanted.
“Have you no compassion in your heart. She freed you.” Carol gasped fighting to keep alive.
“Angels are coming for me.”
“No lady, keep fighting. They ain’t going to take you today.”
Agnes felt a cool blue hand on her shoulder as it pushed her aside.
Can we help, unsure?
To not help, goes against us, our soul, our core. Why we were created.
She freed us, so we will die trying.
We are no better than them. And even they don’t want us, they have left us behind.
We are free to go. But to not try, what good are we?
No better than them.
Agnes could see the being struggling inside itself overhearing its thoughts.
“Please, you must help her.”
We, however are not Lekwungen, nor human but elemental like her. We shall try. The blue fairy creature sat on its knees before Carol. She cared.
She alone out of all of the others, loved us.
No, we are released.
Agnes watched amazed as the creature continued arguing with itself.
We can go above, to the hill of butterflies. To dance in sun with them.
No, if we go we will be still alone forever.
We will stay and save the one that released us, or die trying.
The fairy bent over as the nuns continued praying louder than ever.
Ignoring them, the blue fairy leaned into Carol’s mouth and kissed her. Sucking out a stream of hazy matter into itself it coughed twice spewing out shards of blue sparks which fluttered about the room like moths before each one popped.
Agnes watched the flow of blood stop. She grabbed the sheet and pulled it aside. Only a faint jagged throbbing blue scar remained where the bullet entered her chest.
The fairy slumped fighting to keep awake as it spat out two bullets.
The cycle calls we must heal. We are so weak.
Not yet. We are not yet done.
It blew its blue life essence into Carol and collapsed beside her. A blue halo surrounded Carol for a moment and she convulsed for a second before her eyes opened and she lurched upward as if shocked back to life. She felt her chest and wrapped the blood stained robe around herself. “You saved me.”
We know. The blue being wrapped itself with its wings, before slowly surrounding itself in a blue cocoon.
Coughing, Carol whispered to it, “Thank you. I’ll forever owe you for doing this for me.
Wait, I don’t even know your name.” Neither do we?
Carol thought a moment, remembering the bizarre sight across from the hotel when the butterflies lifted from the totem and she thought she was being watched. “Floats like a Butterfly.”
So we are called. We are not alone now.
A sigh came from the cocoon as it deepened in color and solidified.
The angels, no longer needed, flooded upwards into the ceiling.
Agnes watched them disappear before helping Carol up. “Well, can’t say I’ve ever seen a blue fairy, nor live angels before. I’ll cross that off my bucket list.”
“And I can’t ever say I’ve ever been so glad another woman kissed me.”
“Safe to say you’ve got a tick off your bucket list as well.”
They both laughed as they stood up, holding each other. Carol still very weak struggled to stand.
“Is she?” Carol asked, pointing to the cocoon.
“No, I think when they go to sleep or need to rebuild they go into a cocoon to regenerate,” Agnes replied.
“How do you know that? Let me guess you read its mind.” Agnes smirked.
“And speaking of regenerating, where the hell did you come from? I thought you were gone.”
“Me too, let’s just say that was one hell of a trip. I gotta do that again if these old bones can take it.” She picked up Cider and dusted her off, as the thud of heavy boots echoed down the corridors towards them. “Sorry ol’ gal, didn’t mean to get your backside toasty.”
“Thanks for coming back and saving me,” Carol said. “But how the hell did you pull that stunt off, crazy old broad.”
“Well, I could murder a cup of tea and some of those finger sandwiches, tell you then.”
Agnes watched as the police began to handcuff several of the Bellettis and Rizzutos milling about in the hallway. One of swat team opened the cages to release the two terrified boys and another came up to her and drew its handcuffs. “She’s with me and the cocoon.” Carol reached to flash her badge before realizing she was naked under the robe.
“Officer Ainsworth, of Vancouver PD, number 12655, fifth squad. My clothes and badge are in the next room.” She wrapped the robe around herself.
“Too bad about Jake, he was quite the hunk.” Agnes winked.
Carol laughed. “You’ll never change, will you? I hope I have half the spunk when I get to be your age. If I manage to live that long. Did you know he was a Mafia member?”
“No, that was covered by the devil and his spells. Oh, I’ve seen your future, and you do live that long. Although I think our Italian friends will not have quite the kind of wedding reception or hangover they expected.”
Carol responded, “I think the only sound they’ll be hearing tomorrow is the clink of jail cell doors and not wedding bells.”
Agnes looked over at Jake’s prone body. “And it looks like Victoria has just added another ghost to its collection.”
gnes explained to Carol all that she knew as they sipped at their tea. “I had already learned from Cider that you wouldn’t find Nathan when I was investigating the Jordon Gibson case. Gladys
used the vortex to abduct him and Nathan and by doing so she inadvertently created a time loop. Something to do with time and relativity in dimension to space. Bit like that Doctor What’s-his-name keeps on about.”
“Doctor What? Don’t you mean Doctor Who?”
“Thought you didn’t watch science fiction?”
“I don’t.” Although I might have found a reason to start. “But everyone knows of Doctor Who.”
“Anyway. All I know is that sometimes bigger events are trapped inside one area of time than should be. So basically, time feeds back on itself, unable to get out. Hence why I couldn’t get a grip on what had happened in that room and to Nathan. As they say on the show; it’s bigger on the inside. So, I had to see your future in order to get ideas without you knowing about it.” Agnes sipped back at her tea with one pinkie raised, like a high society woman, again dressed to the nines in her quaint yet distinguished frocked skirt and red brimmed cart wheel hat.
“You did this in order to save Nathan? Thank you. But how did you know this would work?”
“Well, I didn’t the first dozen times.”
“It’s a time loop. Don’t get it right and it starts all over again.”
“This is confusing and really bizarre. I don’t really get it.”
“Ever watch the movie, Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? Every time he went to sleep, he woke up back to the same point in time, in essence repeating the day all over again. So, he has a lot of fun seducing a woman, creating a lot of trouble and having some fun. Finally, he knew what he had to do in order to end the cycle, because like you, you remembered me being here and no one else.”
“I gotta watch more sci fi. I met someone who’s a fan in all of this.”
“I know.” Agnes smiled like she knew a secret. “I figured out how to leave the clues I needed in order to break the cycle.”
Carol frowned. “The size six shoe print in the dirt outside Nathan’s window, the toys from 1990 and the flashbacks of me running over Gladys.”
“Yes, that was due to the future echo time loop and with Francis’ help in your dreams and at the Satanic Rituals.”
“The figures aflame?”
“Can’t take credit for that. I reckon it was the Lekwungen themselves.”
“As for myself, who do I look in the future, old, fat and wrinkly? Or some drop dead mature woman, married with two point five kids?”
Agnes wiped at her lips. “I can’t say much otherwise it would change the timeline. Well except, well done job, C.I. Ainsworth.”
Just then Carol’s private phone rang, no name, blank screen. “Probably bloody advertisers.” She set it down, allowing it to go to voice mail. Oddly it kept ringing.
“What the? It’s supposed to go to voice message after three rings. Excuse me, Agnes.”
Carol rather annoyed picked up her phone, “Hello who is this?”
“Carol? Is that you?”
Stunned, it took a moment to realize. “Charlie Stillwaters? What are you doing calling me?” She stared at Agnes in shocked amusement. “Congrats. Your own series now, eh? I heard you were fighting Woowoo critters without me. Thought I’d give you a call just to poke my head in there and get a scene-stealer like they do in the movies.”
Carol blinked in disbelief several times as Agnes calmly sipped her tea with a little smirk on her lips. “How, the hell?”
“Ah you know the whole ‘fundamental interconnectedness of all things’ thing, I get news flashes via the underground vibes that travel through the roots. I thought I’d take a break from playing poker with my Buddhist monk buddy, Carman the squirrel and George the Sasquatch.”
“How’d you reach me and get this phone to not go to voice mail. Couldn’t you just send a text?”
“Text? On this new-fangled phone of mine? Not sure I can do that with the rotary dial.”
“Rotary phone? That’s analog. How’d you get it to work on a digital system?”
“Ah, bit tricky, but doable. Pulled a couple of weird smudging spells, let the pesky raccoons have a go at it with their hockey sticks and then dropped it a couple of times. Seemed to do the trick.”
“Raccoons? What do raccoons know about phones and electricity? Or playing hockey come, to think of it?”
“Apparently a lot that they aren’t letting on about with those opposable little thumbs of theirs. So just thought I’d congratulate you on the job well done and for starting the new spin-off series. Perhaps I’ll cross over into it one of these days. And if you need a hand, just give me a ring. Gotta go, I think I just saw George catch Carman trying to slide a card out from under his sleeve. This is going to get ugly.” Something crashed in the background and the sound of a body hit the ground. “Yeah, real ugly. Gotta go.”
Carol shook her head in bewilderment. “He didn’t even leave a num-
ber,” she stared at her blank screen.
“Doubt he needs to, dear.” Agnes sipped at her tea.
“Oh yeah, that’s sound like Charlie.”
Carol caught the shimmering male figure enter the tea room. “Shh, watch this.”
The two watched as Matthew Begbie walked up to Margaret sitting there sadly and put his arm out. The woman looked up, intense surprise and a smile that hadn’t decorated her face in decades spread ear to ear. The two, arm-in-arm, walked from the tea room.
Agnes looked at Carol. “How?”
“Let’s just say he owed me a favor after we released him from the curse. Part of that curse mentioned that he’d never marry. I put two and two together and paid Begbie a visit at the beach house yesterday. Asked if he’d do me a favor and ask Margaret out on a date. I’m afraid the
Garden City will have lost two of its prominent ghosts.”
“What about our weird fairy friend that saved your life? Is she okay?”
“Yes, as you know I allowed the boys in blue to let me deal with her. I sent out a mental request to Sprity. She came to my aid and was more than happy to have a young protégé to look after. Kinda like a daughter, I suppose. So Floats with Butterflies is in good hands.”
Agnes looked at her, “weird name.”
“Lovely, but weird being. I’m getting used to being around the abnormal.” She stared at Agnes and they both laughed.
“I get the feeling this creature has been formed from the joining of Lekwungen and the druggies in the sewers. Now, I’ve gotta go soon. I’ve got a date tonight with a rather handsome ghost hunter.”
She’d emailed Brad earlier and he was very excited to meet her again.
“Danglepuss?” Agnes smiled and shook her head at her. “I know now
why you were called a Justifier. You seek justice even in matters beyond those of criminal endeavors. Now shall we murder the rest of these sandwiches and scones?” “Especially the scones. They are to die for.” The two laughed.
* * *
Carol stood in the Shelbourne vortex as the city collapsed all around her and only a dirt road remained. “Agnes told me about how you helped her. She suggested I come here to find you and say thanks.”
Francis Rattenbury removed his black top hat and bowed in front of her. “I am but a humble servant of higher forces. My pleasure.” He stepped back through the vortex. Carol watched him slowly shrink and fade away. The road quickly solidified and electric city lights blinked back into existence. Well that was an interesting meeting, can’t say I’ve ever had a thank you from a ghost before.
Carol turned her back and walked back towards her car as the vortex began to fade away.
A Brightness flashed behind her. “What the…”
Francis stood there staring wide eyed clutching at his hat in both hands as a car zipped by.
“I thought you were gone.”
“I did too. We’ve got a problem.”
Where’s the vortex and how is he here? “What kind of a problem?”
“Simply put, something’s afoot.”
Other Novels by Frank Talaber
Stillwater Runs Deep Series
Book One: Raven’s Lament
(based on a true incident)
A madman cuts down a rare tree in protest of logging, releasing something he didn’t intend to. Reporter Brooke Grant investigates the story, finds the love of his life, only to lose her to said being. Enlisting the aid of a deranged shaman he has to save his love and stop the world from being changed forever.
Book Two: The Lure
Ever go out drinking and don’t remember what you did? What if there was a bar where spirits use your body for whatever they want until you sober up? What if the city’s mayor has been murdered, his family missing, no clues and a witch has been released from her centuries old imprisonment? A deranged shaman shows up leaving clues and vanishes. So begins police detective, Carol Ainsworth’s first big case.
Book Three: The Awakening
How angry would a mythical god be if he found himself beginning to awake inside a mortal after centuries? A deranged shaman breaks his way into jail to stop all hell from breaking free while police detective Carol Ainsworth has to bring justice to a forest being’s murdered mother.
(Characters from the Stillwater Series mentioned in this novel are noted below)
Raven’s Lament– Book One
Charlie Stillwater: Mad Haida Shaman. Has command over several animal spirits who will come to his aid when needed. Zany sense of humour and still in love with the Montreal Expos despite the many years it has been since they left him. Our first meeting sees him battling with the Haida God Raven, who, when released from his incarceration by the cutting down of the Golden Spruce tree, decides he does not like what has become of his world and people and decides to change it all back.
Martin Crow: Raven’s human form. As with all ravens, he is always ravenous so it is not surprising that on his first meeting with Charlie he insists he buy lunch.
The Lure – Book Two
Charlie Stillwater: Charlie is again battling another spirit released into our world, this time a witch who was transformed into a rock for previous misdeeds and left to rot in Stanley Park.
Carol Ainsworth: Newly promoted detective, her first assignment is investigating the death of Vancouver’s Mayor, who’s been brutally slain in Stanley Park. Guess who she meets here?
Martin Crow: Brief appearance in a bookstore to spook Carol and slander Charlie.
The Awakening – Book Three
Charlie Stillwater: Bluffs his way into position of Elder at Prince Rupert’s penitentiary as psychic shockwaves have warned him trouble is coming and this, for some reason, is the place to be.
Carol Ainsworth: Virtually press-ganged by Charlie into assisting, she works under-cover as a prison guard in the female section.
Martin Crow: Much the same as in The Lure only this time in the grocery store. Guess Raven’s turned into a bit of a stalker.
Gyhldeptis: Haida spirit of the forest. Seeking justice for someone close to her, she enlists Carol’s help, knowing she is a Justifier.
Frank Talaber was born in Beaverlodge, Alberta, where the claim to fame is a fox with flashing eyes in the only pub, yeah, big place, that’s why his family left when he was knee high to a grasshopper and moved to Edmonton, Alberta. Eventually he got tired of ten months of winter and two of bad slush and moved to Chilliwack, BC. Great place, Cedar trees, can cut the grass nine months of the year and, oh it does snow here once or twice. Just enough to have to find out what happened to the bloody snow shovel and have to use it. GRRR.
He’s spent most of his life either fixing cars or managing automotive shops and is a licensed automotive technician. However it’s the little muses that keep twigging on his pencil won’t let his writing pad stay blank.
He’s had several short stories published, short-listed in contests over the years and a few automotive articles published in RV magazines. He has several novels published, which include the genres of urban fantasy, thriller, crime and romance. He also has written in science fiction, spiritual, erotica and comedy genres as well.
When asked once, “where does this creativity spring from?” He answered, “It’s the Gypsy blood from my mother’s Hungarian ancestry.”
Literary madness that drives his wife crazy when he leaves their bed in the middle of the night to pound out some sort of prosaic induced brilliance. “Here we go again, the next War and Peace, Aka 21st century,” she moans, only to realize it’s either gibberish or there’s no lead in his pencil and he’s scribbled on sixteen blank pages in the dark.
When asked about Frank Talaber’s Writing Style? He usually responds with: Mix Dan Millman (Way of The Peaceful Warrior) with Charles De Lint (Moonheart) and throw in a mad scattering of Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues).
PS: He’s better looking than Stephen King (Carrie, The Stand, It, The Shining) and his romantic stuff will have you gasping quicker than Robert James Waller (Bridges Of Madison County).Or as is often said: You don’t have to be mad to be a writer, but it sure helps.
He is also working on a script and movie project and plans to get his works into films at some point.
Visit Frank Talaber’s Published Author page on Facebook at:
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