The Walkers

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Hell House Rules

"Who built the ark? Noah, Noah! Who built the ark? Brother Noah built the ark." The were-hyena spoke to Noah Walker as he wandered off the desert trail. Spoke wasn't the right word. The thing "spoke" in riddles and taunts.

Bernard Walker could have killed him by now. He had pinpointed his location within ten feet of a cactus and he had brought his silvered knife. Were-hyenas was an ideal starter hunt for Noah Walker. Hard but doable.

"Don't listen to anything he says," Bernard instructed Noah as he handed him the knife. "He wants to psych you out. He knows you can kill him." Crazed laughter echoed from all around. "Believe it or not, he's scared."

The crazed laughter stopped. "I'm right, aren't I?" Still, silence. "You're scared because you're just a stupid shifter with a dumb gimmick and my ancestors built cities when yours were still making off the sick and the wounded."

That sparked a reply. "Please stop." The beast had made the voice of his last victim, Edward Consuelo, age 40. "Madre de Dios!" The voice shifted to the left of them as the were-hyena threw his voice. "Somebody help him. Aahhh!"

Poor Edward had been out for a job when the were-hyena fell upon him. The body had been mutilated. The head was ripped clean off. Fortunately, the jawbone was largely intact. Cops needed it in order to match dental records.

"Ring around the rosey, a pocketful full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down." The child-like chant wasn't to scare them. The beast must have whiffed Eau de Benandanti and caught onto the meaning of Bernie's boast.

The beast was trying to rile them up. Patience was vital to success of a hunt. He wanted to them act out on impulse and do something to get themselves killed. Bernie wasn't buying it but Noah was a different story altogether.

Noah had the heart of a champion but the brain of a barbarian. If he could, he would have turned and chewed his head off like he had done to the alpha asura in the underground city of Agartha. A sloppy kill to say the least.

Noah would have regretted that decision in the seconds before he literally lost his head. Shifters required him to operate a weapon with a high silver content. That meant that he needed to an opposable thumb to make the kill.

Noah continued channeling. Bernard was channeling too but only enough to keep a close eye on the situation. This was still Noah's hunt. Bernard was just guiding him. No different than when he had taught him how to drive.

Noah was the one with his hands on the wheel. Bernie was just there in the passenger seat to make sure Noah didn't hit a curb or anything crazy like that. From the looks of things, Noah was holding well against his quarry.

A number of unfortunate joggers had been mauled to death by this particular were-hyena. Authorities were dumbfounded. Bernie couldn't blame them. Their job would have been a lot easier if they had known what to look for.

To a seasoned hunter, the condition of the half-eaten bodies and the witness reports of strange laughter coming from this desert pointed to one suspect. A were-hyena with a taste for human flesh who was a long way from Africa.

How and why one got this far from his motherland was the only real mystery here. Bernie worried a lot about that lately. The Shirts had traveled around the continental United States, seeking out any supernatural threats.

In six years, they had encountered three nests. Monsters were discreet. Or, at least, they used to be. Now, they were popping up in the city every week. Monsters that had to have been dormant for decades were back in action.

New ones swept into town like radioactive dust on the wind. As Paul Utah had warned him, something was different. Something had changed. Despite everything his family had gone through, Bernie hadn't told anyone about it.

A blur shot out from behind the ancient hollowed-out cactus. The blur slowed down enough to let Noah catch a glimpse of his rows of enormous butcher knife teeth. His dominant strategy had shifted back to intimidation.

"Now!" Bernie yelled at the top of his lungs. Noah raised the silvered knife in a reverse grip, careful to guard his torso from a direct frontal assault. Bernie had schooled him on proper form when knife-fighting with monsters.

Bernie watched in horror as another blur bolted out from behind the same withered cactus. "Damn," Bernie cursed. In preparing his son for the hunt, he had underestimated the opposition. The enemy had a secret weapon.

The were-hyenas had been careful to hide their numbers. Never to let on that there was two of them. While were-hyenas were said to be tricksters, Bernie didn't expect ones this far from home to live up to that reputation.

That scared Bernie as he contemplated his next move. These monster were acting off pattern. Same thing had happened to the werewolves back when he was 18. It turned out the Wolf Mistress was scaring the crap out of them.

Bernie shuddered to think that some malevolent force had the juice to get so many monsters riled up. It was like when animals wetted themselves in the presence of an apex predator. These monsters were sensing something evil.

Bernie began to strip his hoodie and drawstring pants, the only articles of clothing he had worn on this cold October night. Bernie felt his bones and organs do their little dance. He was going to have to buy his son some time.

Although he couldn't kill the were-hyena in his wolf form, Bernie could, at least, incapacitate him long enough for Noah to make the kill with his knife. Bernie tried to rush the process along, a difficult but possible thing to do.

Benandanti weren't as tough as other shifters. Even in wolf form, Bernie was far from invulnerable. If either his brain or heart got squished up bad enough, he was done for. That thought greeted him as he finished changing.

In the swift stroke of the blade, Noah stabbed the first were-hyena in the neck and tossed his bleeding body against a nearby boulder. The second were-hyena tackled Bernie to the ground as he turned around to face her.

The second were-hyena overpowered him and readied to crush his skull in her mouth. Like real hyenas, the females were the ones in charge. Noah stood over the second were-hyena and stabbed her three times in the spine.

The were-hyena knew she had lost. The mortally-wounded were-hyena attempted to wander off to be alone as she weakened from massive blood loss. Noah cornered her against her cactus hideout and piled on top of her body.

Bernard stared in disbelief as Noah stabbed the dying beast seventeen times. Bernie turned back in the hopes of wrestling the knife from his crazed son.

Noah launched the silvered knife in Bernie's direction. It nailed the male were-hyena between the eyes as he attempted to pouch on him one last time.

The look on Noah's eyes was one Bernie had seen before in the eyes of the creatures he had hunted. That rare look of absolute satiation that came with the kill. His son had destroyed these two monsters by sinking to their level.

Bernie pulled on his pants and jacket. Then, he pulled his knife out from the male were-hyena's skull. Bernie waved the knife at Noah. "In this family, we don't overkill on a hunt. Got it?" Noah wasn't even listening to him.

Adrenaline was ricocheting through his veins like a bullet fired in a tank. When Bernie finally did get his full attention, Noah's response was this: "You're welcome, Dad." Those words were bitter and laced with sarcasm.

Bernie would have liked to say he had seen hunters go over the edge before. He would have liked to say that he had experienced with that sort of thing but he didn't. "Hunting is a sacrament. Done with honor or not done at all."

Noah sighed. "Whatever." Even when Bernie had ached for vengeance, joy came from avenging his parents not from the sheer sensation of taking a life. His bloodlust didn't run that deep. Noah's was a different story altogether.

Looking back, Bernie should have said more but everything he thought to add at the time sounded absurd. What did he plan to do to his son? Ground him for enjoying what he had to do? For taking some joy in his sacred duty?

For good or bad, for right or wrong, whether it was sane or insane, hunting monsters was in their blood. The wild hunt called to them. It tantalized them with hope. Noah had answered its call to arms. In that, he had succeeded.

Bernie yawned loudly. He was tired. Between being a cop, a father, a husband, a hunter and a mentor, Bernie had worn himself down to the nub.

So much to do and so little time and energy to do it with. He needed to reclaim his eight hours. That or he'd break down into a free-form psychosis.

Still, as father and son returned to the main trail, Noah sometimes looked at him as if quietly apologizing for what he had done. Bernie just kept shaking his head. If anything, this was his fault. He had rushed Noah into all this.

In making time to work on his marriage, he had overestimated the progress of Noah's apprenticeship. Noah wasn't ready. Finding that out now instead of earlier was his mistake. Now, Bernie didn't know what to do with his son.

Bernard Walker needed to work on his communication skills. Bernie didn't want to go back to his old habits. Just ignoring his martial troubles with his wife. Their big fight at the hospital had almost cost them their son's life.

His heated argument with Michelle had allowed the Shirts and the Skins to break into the Noah's room. If their arguing hadn't reached its resolution when it did, Noah might have been caught in the crossfire of that gang war.

In order to relinquish the hunt with a clear conscience, Bernard needed to groom his replacement. The city had exploded with supernatural activity in the last few weeks. A lot of innocent people stood a good chance of dying.

Someone of Benandanti blood needed to deal with the occult woes plaguing this city. In the meanwhile, Bernard and his wife would go shopping for a qualified marriage counselor. Hunting monsters was easy. Family was hard.

Parker Evans didn't know how he had come to be in this dark alley covered in strange fluids. We must have had a good time, Parker thought. A smirk emerged on his smile. Then, he took a breath and got a noseful of his odor.

Lydia Gordon and Parker Evans were an adventurous couple. Once all the old kinks got worn out by repetition, they moved on. Their new thing was getting it on in new places. Tonight's choice had been an abandoned house.

Parker slipped and fell on what could only be a beer bottle. Lydia hated it when he was drunk during but Parker needed the alcohol to take the edge off. Lydia had strong needs and he lived in fear of not delivering the goods.

Parker Evans couldn't talk about these issues with the boys. In the magic world of Macholand, no man ever had trouble getting it up. If they learned of his "difficulties," the gay jokes and threesome offers would never stop.

If Lydia ever found out, she might take offense. A certified twenty even on a scale of one to five, Lydia could get any guy she wanted. If she dumped him over this, she'd spread rumors and he wouldn't be able to get laid for a year.

Parker Evans got to his feet. In the light of the nearest lamppost, he got a good look at what he was covered in. It was blood and it wasn't his. Lydia screaming in agony flashed in his mind as he stared transfixed at himself.

In the front window of an adult bookstore, Parker saw his transparent reflection replaced by that a man dressed in a butcher's apron. "C'mon, boy," the man said to Parker. "Ya didn't even like that whore. Didya a favor."

Parker Evans relaxed. He must have been having this dream post-coitus. The butcher must have been some Freudian projection about his impotency. It was nothing that his parents' overpaid therapist couldn't rationalize away.

Parker looked up and down the streets. This was bad neighborhood. The adult bookstore Parker found himself standing in front of was a far call from the Books & DVDs Section of Fascinations. Parker was out of his element.

A streetwalker approached Parker Evans with the usual song-and-dance. "Looking for a good time." Parker didn't think real prostitute really talked like that. The butcher man in the reflection leered at the fishnet stockings.

"See? See what I mean. You didn't take you two minutes to find yourself a better whore." The big old butcher in his dream kept leering at the bottle blonde tramp in front of Parker. "What I do to them is a lot better than sex."

Parker laughed at the butcher. Of course, a fat bastard like him would say that. For him, almost anything must have been better than sex. "Don't believe me?" A presence overtook his body. "Here, I'll show you myself."

Alyssa Walker used to love Halloween. Though he had outgrown trick-or-tricking and haunted houses years earlier than the other kids, Halloween was a social holiday. Another opportunity to get invited to the right parties.

Now, every day was Halloween. Alyssa belonged to a family of wolf-people whose idea of quality time involved learning how to kill things most people were smart enough to avoid. Alyssa was steadily losing her mind from that.

In her darker moments, Alyssa honestly couldn't believe that anything could make her family anymore repellent than it already was. Then, Alyssa learned about Mom's fling and her shred of respect for this freakshow family died.

What can't things stop changing? Alyssa asked angrily in her head. Her family wasn't the best in the world before all this happened. But before all this happened, she never killed anyone or even seen a dead body in real life.

Now, she had done both and was starting to get used to it. That part scared her more than anyone else. That was how people ended up in suicide cults. By letting the unnatural become natural. She wasn't going down that easy.

Unlike Noah who never had a life before this mess, Alyssa still had a life. She still had Erica Eastman. She still had her modest popularity at Chaney High. She still had a normal life away from all this crazy incredible crap.

Alyssa didn't want to give that up. Even if she did, she wanted something better to fall back on that the life of a mutant monster hunter. Dad had been at this business for too long to see clearly how much it really did suck.

Still, Alyssa hadn't quite given up on Mom. Her mother had brought her into this life. Perhaps, Mom too held onto some hope of normalcy. To connect with Mom, Alyssa needed to talk about the elephant in the room.

Alyssa laid aside her carving knife as she finished the crescent smile of the jack-o'-lantern.

"Why did you do it?" Alyssa asked as Mom removed the pumpkin's innards. She didn't need to specify. Mom knew what Alyssa was asking about. It could be only one thing.

Mom sighed and took a moment away from gutting this decorative gourd. Alyssa leaned forward. "Alyssa, have you ever loved anyone?" Alyssa nodded. Millie Martinez in the ninth grade. "Remember how hard it was to get his attention?" Her attention, Alyssa corrected Mom silently and nodded.

Mom sighed again. "That's how I feel about your father. Even after we've been married for twenty-three years. I feel like I always have to compete for his attention." In getting Dad's attention, Mom had surely succeeded at that.

Mom looked down at the floor. "I blame myself sometimes for that. When he used to shower me with attention, I'd just string him along. It was when your father started ignoring me. That was when he finally got my attention."

Alyssa couldn't help but notice that Mom sounded like a bitch back in the day. Alyssa kept that observation to herself. "I thought he was punishing me for that so I punished him right back. I did the worst thing I could think of."

Mom held her head in his hands. "I cheated on him." Mom shivered. "I didn't expect the guilt." Mom looked up at Alyssa. "I still cared about your father. I didn't want to lose him. The thought of losing him made me sick."

Alyssa cradled Mom in her arms as she cried. Mom was a strong woman. Watching her break down was worse than all the stuff she had seen so far. "It's okay, Mom," Alyssa lied as she caressed her brown hear. "It's okay."

Alyssa knew what Mom had gone through. Alyssa had gone through the same thing with her little brother Noah. Back in kindergarten, the two used to be as close of friends as two sibling could be. Then, they just grew apart.

Noah probably didn't remember that. Alyssa had been too busy climbing the social ladder to realize she had left someone behind. Alyssa blinked and let the memories of simpler times fade. Alyssa rocked Mom back and forth.

The emotional toll that hunting had taken on this family had made outbursts like these a common occurrence in the Walker residence. Flinging one's life into mortal danger every week chipped away at one's more subtle emotions.

Alyssa felt guilty she had passed up a golden opportunity to out herself. It wasn't something Alyssa thought about a lot. Her being a lesbian. She kinda wanted the world to share her nonchalance on the subject but that was never going to happen.

Between the homophobes and the homophilies, her inclination towards women was never not going to be a big deal. So Alyssa always found excuses not to tell anyone. It was the one secret she had even managed to keep entirely hidden from Erica Eastman.

She had kissed a guy once, just to see what it felt like. Not bad but not good either. Alyssa felt oddly indebted to Raymond Cooley. If not for Sir Royal Hotness planting one on her lips, she might have lived on in denial of her preferences.

Alyssa listened as Dad and Noah stumbled into the living room. The two hunters were dressed in different clothes than when they had left. That must meant they had killed whatever it was they had been out hunting tonight.

Alyssa half-expected them to have the dead monsters on them in order to turn them into trophies. Alyssa was naïve to think that. These weren't deer hunts. Dad was very clear on that. Hunting monster was a higher calling to him. Nothing he wanted reduced to the vulgarities of a mere sport.

Noah Walker remembered the first time he ever heard about the Crossroads Church. It was a Halloween night just like tonight. He was thirteen and trick-or-treating. He came to a tall red house with a nice enough older couple inside.

Instead of handing out candy or apples or even pennies, the two deposited a tiny flipbook into his pillow case and sent him on his way. That night, after devouring a significant sum of his candies, Noah read the tiny picture book.

It concerned the life of a regular family man who didn't do anything wrong with his life. He did snub those uptight religious types but he seemed a good enough guy. Not to give away the ending but the poor schlub went to Hell.

Something about that damned little book scared him more than a copy of the Necronomicon. Noah could forgive the anti-abortion and even the anti-gay stance of Christian fundamentals. It was a free county. Believe whatever.

Regardless, the very idea that one could go to Hell for believing in the wrong ideas was ignorance at its finest. Who the Hell were these people to condemn their fellow man to the eternal flame for a failure of perception?

The Crossroads Church pretended to be one of those non-denominational love-in bible study churches. In reality, the church was the mouthpiece of the Christian Right. Noah took an instant disliking to their warped politics.

The Crossroads Church was running ads about their hell house located in the Macready House, a real hunted house featured in Ghost Hunters. The church promised that it would literally scared the hell out of its visitors.

The Macready House had its own colorful history. Apparently, a guy named Mortimer Macready lived there.

The butcher and his wife Ethel got into a fight on Halloween night. He then killed her, ate a couple of her organs and buried her in the backyard. In that order.

Noah always allowed bullies to push him around and that was what these churchy folk were. Bullies dressed up in their Sunday best and using their Bibles as shields against genuine criticism against their demeaning tactics.

Noah had once mustered the courage to ask a true believer why he choose to verbally abuse non-believers. His answer was typical of a real bully: "I am only telling the truth. If you do not like it, that is your problem, not mine."

Before, he always held his tongue. He had no special insight into the hidden nature of reality. Being a Benandanti changed all that. Now, he had a back-stage pass to occult history and their petty beliefs weren't reflected in that.

Zedediah Franken AKA Brother Zed handed Noah his bracelet/ticket. Zed nodded. "When you see what's inside, you'll know the truth." A smile crept onto Noah's face. Leave it to a preacher to deliver such a corny line.

Alyssa flicked her lighter out of boredom. Because she got saddled with chaperone duty, Alyssa was missing her precious party. Noah didn't care. He was on a role with bullies. Why stop now? Noah climbed up the stoop.

The lighter was Mom's idea. Halloween was a big deal for a lot of nasty creatures and fire was the solution for most of them. "When in doubt, burn them out." Mom even taught Alyssa how to construct a Molotov cocktail.

Mom and Dad were busy attending a Halloween party for grown-ups in a thinly-veiled attempt to save their marriage. Dad had passed on Halloween duty at work. Dad devoted all the spare time he didn't give to him to Mom.

Alyssa paid for and took her own bracelet/ticket and joined Noah inside. As a hell house, the Macready House of Horrors was basically just a cut-rate haunted house attraction dressed up with conservative Christian themes.

A woman with an abdomen covered in fake blood staggered towards them, clutching her stomach. "Where's my baby?" she asked as she lunged at them. Alyssa jumped as the bleeding woman sniffed the air in her direction.

Noah Walker suppressed a yawn. The acting was forced and inauthentic. What one might except from a bunch of amateur volunteer. Noah looked over to see a large collection of half-drunken beer bottles. Very professional.

How could these people have the gull to tell him how to live his life when they couldn't even live their own? Noah had seen enough. Noah had defeated this bully. It didn't have anything it could scare him with anymore.

Noah looked over at a hallway mirror. This one was original. It looked like a mirror version of himself as a fat bloodied butcher. The reflection spoke to him. "Hey, Noah, where's your ark?" Noah grinned. It even knew his name.

The butcher gave Noah a conspiratorial nod and leaned up close to him. "Sister of yours giving you gruff?" Noah nodded. She could be a handful sometimes. The butcher held up his knife. "I got your answer right here."

Noah knew he was cheapening the scare by being so fascinated but he couldn't help it. This degree of interactivity was astonishing. Especially on what looked like a shoestring budget. "Wow, that is really something there."

Noah caught up with Alyssa. She had walked past the mirror without even stopping to look at him. "Hey, sis, did you see that butcher in the mirror?" Noah shook his head. "How do you think they did that?" Alyssa shrugged.

"There wasn't anything in that mirror except my reflection." Alyssa shook her head. "Spaz." Noah ran back to the hallway. That mirror had sparked in him an obsession. This was a damn good trick that he couldn't figure it out.

A dark energy coursed through his body. He punched the mirror. Ripping off a piece of his Grim Reaper costume, he formed a handle for one of the shards. He looked over at Alyssa dressed like Alice in Alice In Wonderland.

Spaz. It was always some insult from her. It had been years since she had said one nice thing about him. Alyssa deserved to bleed. Noah couldn't stop his own thoughts. They were the runaway trains barreling through his brain.

Alyssa had lost track of Noah. Mom and Dad was going to kill her. Alyssa searched through the haunted house, calling out her brother's name. The haunted house was mostly empty, a fact owing to its poor attendance and understaffed crew. Folks paid good money to get scared, not get preached at.

Alyssa's mind went back to their front yard. By this time at night, some wise-guy trick-or-tricker had already emptied the unattended bowl of candies into his sack. S/he might have even smashed the jack-o'-lantern for good measure.

Alyssa Walker didn't really know what to think of her family anymore. She wanted to hate them but they were the symptoms, not the disease. The world was becoming a scarier and scarier place and her family might be the only ones who knew how to combat it. It was why she had agreed to the lighter.

Searching the halls of their enormous house would take forever. Alyssa needed to find someone to help her look for her brother. Alyssa still didn't know why Noah had wanted so badly to go to this awful and boring place.

Alyssa Walker shrugged. She might as well be grateful for Noah's choice tonight. She had half-expected him to go on a hunt on Halloween night. This sad and pathetic excuse for a haunted house with all its pretend terrors was a welcome relief from the very real terrors of a life-or-death situation.

Alyssa felt movement from directly behind her. She turned around. Alyssa felt the blade come down on her neck. It nicked her. The wound was minor. It was a tease, the opening shot of an ongoing attack. "Off with her head."

Alyssa touched the cut and gritted her teeth. She looked to find her brother Noah. He was carrying an improvised weapon made from the mirror and his own costume. He looked like Death. "Noah, what the Hell are you doing?"

Noah smiled. "You just answered your own question." Noah slashed at Alyssa as she dodged out of the way of his attacks. "You. Stupid. Nasty. Bitch." Noah planted his boot into her stomach. She still wasn't channeling.

"We used to be friends." Noah lunged at Alyssa as she gripped her gut. With every ounce of strength she could measure, she kicked him in the face. Noah licked up his own blood. "Tasty." Noah cut Alyssa across her right cheek.

Alyssa had an epiphany. "This isn't you." Of all of Noah's faults, sororicide wasn't one of them. "Something's wrong with you. What happened?" Alyssa tried to think back. Noah attacked again. He said something about a mirror.

Alyssa Walker had another epiphany. "Mortimer Macready, I presume." It had to be. It was the only thing that made sense in this family. "What do you want with my brother, you bastard?" Noah's eyes turned an iridescent green.

Leave it to Noah to find a hunt without even trying. Still, Mortimer Macready wasn't the usual monster this family fought against. Mortimer was the ghost of a pissed-off butcher who had learned how to turn people into meat puppets.

Noah tilted his head from side to side. He sniffed the air. His green glowing eyes lingered on Alyssa. Mortimer was rising to the surface, taking direct control of Noah's larynx. Noah laughed in the voice of a forty-year-old man.

A sneer appeared on his face. "I want him to watch you die." Noah pinned Alyssa to the ground. Noah raised the blade above his head. Alyssa kicked her way free, sending the blade onto the floor in a dozen little pieces.

Noah turned, tearing free of his Grim Reaper costume. "Noah," Alyssa said as she backed into a corner. "It's okay. I know you're in there. If killing me is what really want, then do it. Just don't let Mortimer here bully you around."

Bully. That was the magic word. The wolf circling Alyssa pawed the sides of his head as if a noisy fly were buzzing around. Alyssa stepped closer to her brother. "I'm sorry, Noah." Alyssa petted Noah's crimson fur. "Please forgive me."

Seeing her brother Noah as weak was always so easy for her. She looked at his crappy little life and naturally blamed the victim. If not for Alyssa's own ruthlessness, she'd have been right where Noah was on the social ladder.

In truth, she'd have given anything to be free of her responsibilities. Flaking on Erica Eastman's Halloween Bash would have grave repercussions and the point of a party was to have a good time, not to score brownie points.

The hairs of his furry hide retreated into his skin. Once again, Noah had destroyed a good set of clothes. Fortunately, the flowing robe of his Grim Reaper was largely intact. Noah pulled the costume over his naked flesh.

Alyssa allowed Noah to use her as a crutch. Noah had exhausted himself turning so quickly. Mortimer Macready had really done a number to him. "Let's go home." Noah shook his head, summoning his last bits of strength.

Noah gritted his head. "I'd love to but we can't. Mortimer isn't in me. He's in this house." Noah stood himself up against a wall and looked around. "If we don't find a way to stop him, he'll just take over someone else and start all over again."

As if just to confirm Noah's suspicions. Brother Zed emerged from another room, brandishing a steak knife. As Brother Zed lunged headlong at them, Alyssa punctuated his arrival with a palm heel strike to the bridge of his nose. "We are done here," she announced. Noah nodded and left with her.

Noah watched dispassionately as the Macready House of Horrors burned to the ground. The fire had been Alyssa's idea. "When in doubt, burn it out." Brother Zed stood next to the cops, screaming his lungs out about this "vile hate crime" in between wondering aloud as to how he had broken his nose.

A parade of trick-or-trickers in their costumes gathered around the fiery inferno as the cops tried in vain to disperse the growing crowd. Noah could almost hear Mortimer Macready writhing in eternal agony amidst the flames.

Like so many of his family's so-called victories, this one felt like anything but. He had nearly slasher-killed his own sister at the suggestion of a killer cannibal's ghost. And their only real solution was to burn down a house.

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