I grabbed Murat’s sword from under the seat in its maple resting place. I walked to the bed and unhooked the restraints holding the tarp down. As I walked away from the truck I breathed in the crisp air taking it fully into my lungs. I took in the moon in all of its fullness. It would provide enough light to see in the dark.
The small metal playground sat on the corner of an open field. It’s swings swayed in the wind. The see saw teetered to one side. A slide halfway rusted through connected to yellow painted monkey bars. I couldn’t imagine a parent letting their child play on the rusted metal contraption. There were sharp edges everywhere.
In the distance I could see two nefari, but no sign of Billy or Laura. I waited five, ten, fifteen minutes until Laura’s spirit finally peaked out of the woods followed closely behind by Billy. I could see the necromantic tether Billy was using to keep her leashed.
I quietly unsheathed my sword as I crept around the playground while I moved through the shadows. I could feel Laura’s fear as Billy reminded her of the horrors he could unleash if she didn’t do as he said.
I caught the first nefari by surprise without alerting the others to my presence. It went down fast and without a fight. The moment it fought back was the instant Billy figured out what was going on. The necromantic energy released from the rotting corpse and was absorbed by Murat’s sword.
The second nefari stood twenty feet away keeping guard for it’s puppet master. I quickly ran up behind the creature making sure to keep to its blind spot. At five feet away I brought the sword up over my head and swung the blade down, completely missing its neck, and catching its shoulder. The blade skimmed off the nefari’s back, alerting it and therefore Billy to my presence.
My aim was inconsistent, but my technique was getting better. I stepped back and caught the nefari between his chin and shoulders with my blade. Again, Murat’s sword pulled in the expelled energy, collecting it like a battery.
In the distance I saw Billy walking towards me. He knew his two nefari were destroyed. He didn’t look angry, he wasn’t even frustrated by my intrusion. His smile called out the insanity of the moment.
“You’ve got really good with that sword, Charlie,” my half brother praised. “I mean it, really. Is it Murat’s?” Billy didn’t wait for my answer. “I knew it was. Martin must have given it to you.”
“Come here and I’ll show you how it works,” I threatened.
“We could have done amazing things together, little brother. Instead you go to all this trouble to stop me. Threatening me with that sword.” He turned towards Laura. “Is that any way to behave in front of a lady?”
“What do you get out of all this, Billy?” I asked. “You’ve killed and tortured your friends. Created nefari abominations that do your bidding. What could you possibly still want?”
“Isn’t it obvious,” he said with a grin. “I want power. All the power. It’s ironic that you’re trying to stop us, Charlie.” Billy stopped about ten feet from me. “If you only knew how much we have in common. We have more than Logan in common little brother. I don’t think she’s going to be happy with you.”
“You think Laura won’t be happy if I stop you?” I asked. “From the looks of it, I would say she’s counting the seconds until she’s free.”
“No, not Laura. Do you think I was able to do this all by myself? Don’t you think I had help?” Billy asked in disbelief. “I’m referring to my own mentor of course.”
“Who’s helping you?” I shouted at Billy.
“You’ll never know, little brother.”
Billy brought his hand up as the ground started to shake. I thought it was an earthquake until the ground began to boil up all around me. I stumbled off the growing mound of dirt before it sucked me in. When I was on solid ground I turned back and watched as twenty rotting fingers sprouted out of the dirt.
I watched as those fingers grew into hands, giving way to the reanimated arms of a dozen different nefari. They pulled themselves out of the ground exposing their bloated faces. I knew Billy would have reserves, but I was hoping for a few less to fight against.
How was Billy doing it? How was he strong enough to do all of this? Raising one nefari required a lot of power to begin with. Raising twelve nefari at a time? I wasn’t sure if I was even playing in the same league with Billy anymore.
“It was nice having a little brother for a couple of days,” Billy said as his nefari continued circling me, waiting to attack. He was going to have them finish me off, but he gave it a second thought. “It doesn’t make me happy to kill you, Charlie. We could accomplish so much if we worked together. Say the word and I’ll call off my minions.”
I noticed Billy was sweating profusely. A line of perspiration was forming above his lip. I could see the tension in his face. There was a chance that he wasn’t as strong as I first thought. Controlling the nefari was taking more effort for Billy than he originally let on. He was trying very hard to hide the strain, but his exhaustion was evident all over his face.
He didn’t have unlimited power. There was a limit to this and I think I knew how to exploit it. I still had a chance at beating him, because he wasn’t indestructible.
“Go to hell, Billy,” I said as I gathered my will.
“Just as I thought. Well, at least I tried,” Billy said in condensation. As an after thought he added, “Kill him.”
I decided it was time to call on my own reinforcement as the nefari started to move towards me. I put two fingers to my mouth and whistled as loud as I could for effect.
“What are you doing?” Billy asked annoyed.
A moment later two nefari were tackled to the ground by my new pet, Misty. He was magnificent, the king of the jungle, massive in size even though it was sickly skinny. Misty lunged for the next nefari’s throat and shook the creature violently around like a rag doll. I watched with admiration as my new pet lion decimated the nefari like rag dolls. Like a bored predator it chewed right through their necks separating the creature’s head from the rest of its body.
I was amazed at how well preserved the lion was. It was emaciated, but much of its muscle mass was still in tact. The lion resembled a patchwork quilt where skin had rotted away to reveal pink, green, and grey rotting flesh.
With my will I moved the lion’s four legs and could feel the enormous power each appendage held. The lion was missing one eye, yet it would not damper his effectiveness. There were a full set of functional claws at my disposal as the lion tore the nefari to shreds.
Billy, could have his army of nefari. They were slow and easy to kill. I had a freaking lion, which could move a lot faster and had a freakishly amount of strength.
Misty had two nefari pinned to the ground. He took the nefari’s head between his massive jaws and in one fluid motion ripped the nefari’s head clean off. I made the lion toss the head into the air for effect. A moment later he tore at the other nefari and again tossed the head away.
Another nefari came at me while I concentrated on controlling Misty. I swung my sword around catching the creature in the chin. My focus never wavered as I kept my control over the lion. I still needed to concentrate but I could still fight while the lion did the heavy lifting.
Misty pounced onto the next couple of nefari and started the carnage over. Again, the lion chomped down on the nefari’s head, popping it like a grape from a vine, and ending another nefaris’ existence. Misty had taken out five nefari before Billy knew what was even happening.
“Good boy,” I called over to Misty as I kicked one of the creatures back away. I continued to aim for the creatures’ necks, while Misty continued his rampage through the rest. When I finished decapitating the last nefari in my way I took stock of my surroundings.
When I was sure Misty had control over the situation I turned my attention back to Billy. I kept my will in control of the lion as it made its way through the rest of the nefari. My anger was increasing, but my focus remained steady.
“I have to admit,” Billy said. “I wasn’t expecting a lion, Charlie. Good on you. That was really surprising. Top marks for originality.” He was stepping back, slowly trying to get away.
“Thanks for the compliment,” I shouted back.
It was time to end this once and for all. I charged at Billy, dropping my sword on the way. He was the more powerful necromancer, but I was sure I could kick his ass in a fair fight. I threw the first punch and socked him squarely in the jaw.
His knees buckled as my fist impacted against flesh and bone. I landed another punch, this time breaking his nose with a spray of blood. The cartilage cracked under the punch. He wasn’t even fighting back.
Billy was able to scamper away from me, crawling on his hands and knees. I followed right behind on his heels until another nefari came towards me. I lost my lead on Billy as I dealt with the nefari. I went for my sword, but remembered I had just dropped it to beat the crap out of Billy in a fair fight. I should have paid more attention to where I dropped it.
I kicked the nefari back away from me, but another two came running in. Misty was busy and to far away for me to get his help. He wouldn’t be able to get here in time if I called him over now.
I dove to the ground to search for my sword but I wasn’t sure if I was anywhere near the right place. I circled around the nefari on my hands and knees while I searched the forest floor for my blade.
I couldn’t find it, but I had another idea while I lay there avoiding the nefari. I sent all the my remaining necromantic energy out around me, letting it bleed from my mind. I sent it in search of anything I could find to help me.
At first I found a couple of squirrels, a raccoon, and three birds, but nothing useful. Further into the woods I found what I was looking for. I hit the jack pot in a shallow grave close by. Diana was right. The county had culled the deer and left them in the woods. Most of them weren’t even buried yet.
As the nefari continued to mass around me I brought more friends for them to play with. I could see through the eyes of the reanimated deer as they trotted out of the forest. I could see the nefari from their point of view as they stampeded forward against the nefari horde.
A heard of fully grown adult deer came stampeding through the woods and out onto the field. I stood absolutely still as the heard engulfed us. The nefari were trampled under the many hooves or sent flying as the deer crashed into them.
Misty shot out from behind me and grabbed a nefari that was about to attack. My lion ripped into the nefari’s throat, giving me an opportunity. I didn’t even command it to do that. It was like the lion was on auto pilot while I managed all the animals under my power.
While the deer trampled the nefari, I called to Misty and we followed after Billy. I sent the lion ahead and I watched as he caught up to my half brother. When Misty was close enough the lion pounced and tackled Billy to the ground.
I caught up to them on the edge of the woods near the highway. Over the hill I could hear cars zooming by, ruining the stillness of the night.
Misty loomed over Billy’s chest as it’s enormous front paw pressed down, making it hard for Billy to breath. I made the lion growl to send some fear into Billy. I wanted him to know that he lost. I wanted him to be scared of what I could do. Scared like his victims were at the horrors he inflicted.
Billy started to laugh into the lion’s face. I made the lion lunge forward to put more pressure on Billy’s chest. The lion could feel Billy’s rib cage crack under its strength, which meant I could feel it as well. My brother grunted at the pain, but didn’t stop laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked. “Are you that dense to the fact that I’ve beaten you?”
“It’s funny you think you’ve won,” he said.
He raised his hand and I felt power like I had never imagined. In an instant Misty was no longer under my control and my head exploded in pain. Billy took the connection over without more than a moment of thought. The lion turned towards me and left Billy alone. I grabbed my temples and tried to hold my head together as my pet turned against me.
“Oh the tides have turned, little brother.”
Billy stood up as he made Misty step slowly towards me. He was getting the lion ready to attack while I tried to regain my focus over it.
My will was spread to thin over the heard of deer to do anything else. It was either Misty or the heard. I couldn’t let Billy win, not like this. I decided I had no choice but to withdraw my power from the deer.
All at once the animals fell to the ground around the remaining nefari and I lost my connection to them. I brought my power back and all at once sent everything I had back to Misty, breaking Billy’s link. Blue energy shot from the lion’s eyes as I brought it to the ground, shutting off its brain. As Misty laid by my feet I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my furry friend.
I jumped over Misty and dove for Billy’s legs. I sent him stumbling to the ground, but he was faster and got to his feet before I could stop him. He was able to get up and get traction before I could regain my footing.
I couldn’t get up fast enough as Billy bolted over the hill towards the road. I followed behind, but couldn’t make up the distance in time. I couldn’t understand where he was going. What was Billy doing? A busy highway was the only thing below.
Billy stepped up to the highway barrier and paused, waiting for me to get closer. When I was ten feet away he jumped up on top of the concrete edge. He waited until I was only a foot away before he leapt off the ledge and dropped onto the road. He looked left and took two steps forward. I tried to reach out to grab him, but it was no use.
It was dark, but I could see his eyes shine back at me as the lights of the truck approached him. He looked at me and smiled, before mouthing, “See you later.”
I didn’t understand until after it happened. My mind couldn’t wrap around what he was doing until it was to late. I shouted for him to stop, but it was already done. Billy was dead before the driver even knew he hit anything. The tractor trailer screeched to a halt a hundred feet down the road and Billy’s body fell from the bumper.
I looked back and where his body had been standing before it was violently decimated by the eighteen wheeler, was Billy’s blue spirit, smiling back at me.
I realized he had wanted the truck to hit him. He was waiting for it. He killed himself on purpose. He never intended to live through tonight. I was wrong about his intentions. I was wrong about everything.
I tried to send my will out to grab Billy’s spirit, but as people gathered around I couldn’t concentrate to catch him. Cars began stopping on the road behind the accident. People were getting out of their cars and rushing to Billy’s dead body.
I lost Billy’s spirit in the crowd of people and before I knew it he had disappeared into the night. I heard the sirens in the distance and waited on the side of the road for the cops to arrive. At first there was only chaos, but soon the police got to the scene and brought everything under control.
Sheriff Brice was the first one there, followed by deputy English. When the sheriff saw Billy’s broken body he was speechless. He kept his composure the entire time, never hinting at the fact that his son had just died.
The sheriff took the truck driver’s statement with very little emotion showing. Afterwards he put the truck driver in the back of the police cruiser discounting the fact that Billy jumped in front of the truck on purpose.
When the sheriff approached me I told him what I saw his son do, leaving the parts out about the nefari and the spirits. He would rather forget the entire mess and be done with it. The sheriff was calm, but had trouble writing everything down without shaking a little bit.
Sheriff Brice knew Billy wasn’t his by blood, but he was still Billy’s dad. He loved him all the same. That much was obvious. He raised the kid since he was born. He would mourn his son the way all parents did.
Billy hadn’t played by any rules. The entire time he had manipulated us into doing what he wanted. I was sure he was never going to let himself be caught, but to end it all... He knew all along he was going to do it. Why the theatrics? Why the wild goose chase?
He was a spirit now, but more importantly still a necromancer. He would have complete freedom to do what he wanted. In his own way, he got away with everything. He wouldn’t be as powerful as he was when he was alive, but he still coveted power. He wanted it all. How was becoming a spirit gaining power? I had a feeling this was only the first part of his plan.
I knew it deep down in my gut that I would encounter Billy Brice, Jr, my half-brother, again. I would train to use my powers until that day came. When the time came I would make sure he didn’t get away. Next time, I would make sure I was ready for him.
I walked back over to the playground equipment where I found Laura’s spirit. All of the nefari has lost their leader turning them back to decomposing corpses. Bodies were scattered around the field, while dead deer sprinkled into the mix.
“You’re free now,” I explained to Laura. “Billy won’t be bothering you anymore.”
“Thank you, Charlie,” Laura said. “I wish it mattered anymore.”
We watched as the park filled up with police, ambulances, and the press. I didn’t care if anyone saw me talking to Laura. Let them think I was crazy. I was to tired to care about appearances.
“There’s room for you at the Sunnyledge if you’re interested,” I explained to Laura. “Matt’s staying there and Diana comes over a lot, so you’ll have friends.”
“Charlie, I don’t know how to thank you. I wish I had more time, but I think I have to move on. I can feel the pull more than ever now.”
“What do you mean? What pull?”
The sky above Laura suddenly opened up and a bright spot light illuminated Laura’s spirit. “I’ve felt it for a while now,” she said as the light started to lift her. “But Billy was stopping it from happening. Thank you so much, Charlie. I have to go now. Take care of Diana will you? Let her know how much I miss her.”
The great white light pulled Laura up followed by a thunder clap, swallowing Laura’s spirit whole. One moment she was there, and in the next she was gone. The sky closed around the light and in the next instant it was completely dark again.
I looked around, but no one had seen the impressive act of the after life. No one would even know that Laura had been there is the first place. Now she was on her next journey, which I hoped was better than this one.
I had never seen a spirit move on before. I wish I could say it was inspiring, but I felt it was anti-climatic in a way. I guess not knowing where the spirits ended up was a little frustrating.