Archive | July 2017

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 39

the man who wasnt thereMaribelle and Brian find some sort of building at one end of the burial ground. Though it’s agonizing, Brian follows the lines of the invisible structure so that they know how large it is. It’s the single worst thing he’s ever done. Even getting gored by Mr. D. wasn’t as bad as this. He tells the group that it’s a mausoleum, not even sure how he knows that.

“Why’s it hidden?” Jordan asked.

“Why not?” Sweet responded, walking up next to them.

“Would you want to have a creepy thing like that in your backyard?” Louisa asked.

“We’ve hung out here hundreds of times,” Marissa said. “Why haven’t we felt it or any of the flat-out spooky that hangs over it?”

“Cliff Finley was extremely adept at wards,” Miles said. “He had this under control—until something happened.”

“What?” Marissa asked.

“We woke it up,” Brian said. “When we summoned the Peddler.”

“Why wouldn’t Cliff warn us?” Heath asked.

“Because I don’t think he knew it was there,” Miles replied. “He knew about the witches, but they’d never caused trouble before. They were warded, protected, well contained.”

“We did this?” Jordan said, turning pale. “Did we get Cliff killed?” Her voice held an edge.

Brian put his arms around her. “No. Whatever killed Cliff, it wasn’t us.”

Miles and Heath put salt and cumin around the edge of the grave, paying special attention to the building. No one felt like disturbing it.

The last members arrived. Marissa had gathered three others to sing with her. Her father would sing bass, Louisa handled alto and Andre sang tenor. They were just about to begin when another car pulled up. Chase hopped out, his father’s sister with him.

“I know I don’t have the skills,” she said. “But I felt like someone needed to be here from the blood, besides Chase. It feels important.”

“She’s right,” Maribelle said. “Thank you, Cynthia.”

“Cliff would want me to do anything I can to help.” She sniffled, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. She stood between Miles and Maribelle.

Chase took his place in the circle, standing between Brian and Marissa. Jackie, Sweet and Meru had fashioned a small altar opposite the invisible mausoleum. The singers gathered around them as they prepared the ingredients. At a nod from Jackie, they started to sing. Their voices rose in close knit harmony as Jackie and the others completed the intricate pattern of the spell.

The earth rumbled. Stones danced across the shattered ground. A low hum accompanied the music, creating loud, discordant notes. The singers didn’t falter, never lost pitch. Holding hands, they moved closer to the Casters, singing louder. With each note, the earth shook more, opening into a giant pit. Those standing on the edges couldn’t help stepping back as the dirt crumbled away. Only Brian stayed in place, willing the ground to support him. He wasn’t afraid of falling in. He was more concerned with what might come out.

Crossing in front of the mausoleum earlier, he’d been more afraid than he’d ever been in his life. Even battling Deidrich last year hadn’t scared him as much as that excruciating walk. Whatever dwelt inside was more evil than Mr. D. He didn’t know what it was yet, but he hoped he could vanquish it before it had a chance to destroy them all.

The earth drifted away like a giant sieve. Bits of metal and bone caught the light. Cynthia Finley gasped, clutching her shirt. She didn’t speak, but the expression on her face was enough. She’d had no idea that all this lurked beneath the yard of her childhood home.

Chase’s face was calmly resolute. Only the working of his jaw attested to his emotional state. Whatever lay beneath the ground had killed his father. He wanted revenge, but more than that, he wanted to keep anyone else from getting killed. As a football player, he knew that the best defense was sometimes a good offense. Boldly, he met Brian’s eye, nodding.

The song ended and the rumbling stopped. Jackie put out the smoldering flame of the altar fire and waited in silence. All eyes went to Brian. He wasn’t entirely sure what to do next, but he felt a warm glow on his right shoulder. Images flashed through his mind. Closing his eyes, he followed the movements he saw himself making.

Gasps of surprise made him open his eyes once more. Bits and pieces of bone, glass and metal rose from the pit, swirling above the broken ground. A layer of thick ash whirled just beneath it. This went on for several minutes. Everyone watched in silence until the last shimmering metallic piece rose from the dirt.

Brian closed the hole in the ground. Andre and Sweet rolled out a tarp. Slowly, gently, the artifacts dropped on top of it, landing in a neat pile. Brian nodded at Jackie. She brought the small metal bowl to the edge of the circle. Brian took it from her. He stepped over the line, expecting to feel the jolt he had before. Nothing happened. Taking another cautious step, he moved toward the heap. With little puffs of air, he moved the detritus into a smaller pile. Approaching cautiously, he poured the contents of the bowel evenly over the remains. Using more wind, he blended the potion into the ash, making a thick, lumpy glob. With care, he gathered all the dust with his mind, adding it to the ball. When he was done, he moved away, encouraging the others to do so.

The group took hands, chanting. The voices of the singers rose once more, supported by the chanting. Five minutes passed, six, seven. As the clock neared the eight minute mark, they saw a flicker of blue flame in the center of the ball of goo. It bubbled and fizzled, giving off a thick, oily black smoke, rising in a steady, unwavering column. The smell of burning tar filled the air.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 38

the man who wasnt thereBrian and his mother go to Chase’s house to get the dimensions of the burial site, and encounter some sort of invisible building. It’s nearly ten feet long, though not as tall as Brian is.

“Mark that wall,” she said. “Let’s map this thing.”

“Can’t you just reveal it?”

“Bad idea. Our actions send ripples into the ethereal world. Whatever this is, it’s probably warded. It’s bad enough we have to touch it, but it would be far worse if we revealed it.”

Brian painted along the edge of the wall, following his mother around. When she got back to the line of the circle, she stopped.

“I don’t dare walk in there,” she said calmly. “You have to. We need to know the length of these walls and see if we can locate a front.”

“Okay. No big thing.”

She took his arm, gazing into his eyes. “Brian, at least a dozen powerful, angry witches were buried here. It’s a big thing. Be careful.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Walking slowly, Brian inched his way along the wall, stepping further into the circle than he liked.

A tingle started in his ankles, moving rapidly up his calves and into his thighs. The tingle became an angry heat by the time it reached his upper thighs. He found the corner of the building, almost to the edge of the shed, a good ten feet. Marking it, he groped blindly around to the front. The surface felt hot, then blistering cold. Hissing sharply, he brought his fingers to his lips.

“No!” his mother cautioned before he reached his mouth. “Put your sleeve over your hand. You have to keep going.”

Nodding, he did as she told him, wishing she’d mentioned it before he got burned. His fingers throbbed. His legs felt like they were covered in poison ivy. Itching and burning, he kept walking. The other corner was closer now. He could see his original orange lines. Somehow, the distance seemed to grow. His head swam, his knees grew weak. Wobbling, he put both hands against the wall. A pulse thudded beneath his questing fingers. Jumping back, he tripped on a root and fell to his knees.


“I’m okay.” I think. Standing again was the single most difficult thing he’d ever done.

The ground clung to him, tugging at his feet as he tried to walk the last few feet. He wanted to coax it back down, but was afraid to use his power. Whatever this thing was, it was malevolent and powerful. He took another hesitant step. His mother’s voice sounded tinny and distant.

“I’m here,” she said. “Come toward me. I’m right here.”

Brian saw her standing just outside the circle on the other side of the wall. He made a mark and took another ponderous step.

“Come on, son. You can do it.”

He took one more step and fell down, screaming. His body crawled with fingers of hot, searing torture. It felt like burning snakes writhed beneath his skin, biting at his spine and groin from the inside. Roaring with agony, he crawled the last few feet. His mother called to him, encouraging him with each pain lanced motion.

“Almost there,” Maribelle said calmly. “Come on, Brian. You can do this.”

His hand landed on cool grass instead of churned up dirt. His other hand followed. He pulled his legs behind him, unable to support his weight on his knees any longer. Clutching handfuls of the cool grass, he tugged himself forward. When his belt crossed the line, he could move his legs once more. Curling in a ball, he rolled the last foot, out of the ring and onto the chilly, damp ground. He lay there, unmoving, feeling the strength of the earth revitalize him.

Maribelle Casey watched her son in mute horror. There was nothing she could do to help him. She couldn’t cross the line, she knew that before they began. She hated using her son like that, but they had to know the size and shape of the hidden structure and he was the only one strong enough to survive it. She had her suspicions as to what it was, but until the others arrived, she didn’t dare investigate further. She’d had no idea that the grave would affect Brian so profoundly. Perhaps his heightened senses accounted for it? All she could do was talk to him as he made his way back to her. When he rolled free, onto the ground, she pulled him further away, checking his body for wounds. She didn’t find any. Taking a bottle of purified holy water from the car, she bathed his hands and face.

“Brian?” She patted his hands, brushing hair from his face. “Honey?”

“You lied,” he groaned.

“About what?”

“That it would hurt less than being gored.”

“I’m sorry. I thought it was true.”

“F**k,” he sighed.

For once, Maribelle let the curse slide. Her son deserved to say that and a lot more. He proceeded to do so. She didn’t say a word.

Brian was just starting to feel like himself when the others arrived. He helped his mother finish mapping the grave site. Jordan wanted to help, but he kept her away.

“No one walk on it,” he commanded. “No one. For any reason. Dad, we need some blessed salt with cumin. Lots of it. Follow the orange line. But only on the outside of the building.”

“You’re sure it’s a building?” Maribelle said. “How? I thought it was an altar or something.”

“It’s a mausoleum,” Brian said, wondering for a moment how he knew that.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 37

the man who wasnt thereFollowing his mother through a secret trapdoor, Brian finds himself in a cold storage area of the house that he’s never seen before. He and his mother collect ingredients needed for the spell.

“Where do you want these things?” He indicated the larger crate.

“It will need to go back downstairs. For now, let’s leave it over there.” She pointed to the far corner of the kitchen.

Brian lifted the crate and set it on the counter. Seconds later, it was gone. He smirked. “I love how you do that. Will you teach me?”

“When you’re of age.”

“Dad said the same thing. Why not now?”

She didn’t answer him.

“What other stuff is hidden around here?”

“Ever found any of your Christmas presents ahead of time?” She smiled sweetly.

“That’s just plain mean. It’s a rite of passage for a kid to shake his Christmas presents.”

“Uh huh.”


She beckoned him to follow her. They went back to the safe and she opened the door once more. Taking out the book, she left the map alone and closed the door.

“We need to go over this incantation,” she said.

“We need to show it to Marissa.”


Brian pointed to the part about singing. “She has perfect pitch. I can carry a tune, but don’t let Dad near this one unless you want epic failure.”

Maribelle laughed. Miles had a tin ear. “Good point. Can Jordan sing? I have a feeling this needs more than one voice.”

“No idea. I guess we start polling members.”

“I’ll ask your father to find out. Meanwhile, what now?”

“Meanwhile, we head to Chase’s house. His grandparents will be here to get the girls. Mom will be here any second. We’re going first, then your dad and the others will follow.”

“Why us?”

Maribelle pressed her lips together. “Because it has to be us. I don’t know why. Just trust me on this, son.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

He carried the crate of ingredients to his car. They said goodbye to his father and the Meru family before heading to Chase’s home. The damage to the place looked even worse today. Not only had the trees been smashed, they were blacked with fire. The shed was obliterated. It amazed Brian that there had been anything left of Cliff Finley.

“That can stay in the car,” his mother said. “We’re walking the perimeter. I want to see how far this extends.” She carried a can of orange fluorescent spray paint and a surveyor’s rolling measure. She fit the can into the measure and walked to the clearing. “You’re my barometer,” she told Brian. “If you feel anything, even a twitch in your nose, you tell me. With your heightened senses, this may be—uncomfortable.”

He nodded. “How uncomfortable?”

“Remember when you were gored by Mr. D. and buried alive?”

Brian shivered, feeling fear trickle up his spine. He remembered well. It was the single most painful thing he’d ever endured.

“Not that bad,” she replied. “I’ll be right here.” She stood behind him.

Brian started walking around the clearing. He felt a tingle on the back of his neck and pointed to his right heel. Maribelle painted a mark and noted the measurement with the memo app on her phone. They continued walking. Brian grew increasingly uneasy. Strongly averse to continuing, he stopped.

“What’s wrong?”

He shook his head, not trusting his voice. “Something—horrible.”

Maribelle put her hand on his shoulder, pushing gently. “We’re almost done. You can do this, son. I have faith.”

Gulping, Brian stepped over the spot and heard Maribelle mark it. A few feet further, he stopped again. This time, fear gripped his stomach and pain shot through his back from his neck to his feet. He felt something tighten around his throat. Looking up, he saw a gnarled, thick branch. He remembered that Cliff used to refer to this as the hanging tree. At the time, he’d shrugged it off, thinking it was a joke. Every other tree in the backwoods was called the hanging tree. Clearly, this one was aptly named. There had been more than one death on this spot.

“Mom?” His voice caught in his throat.

“It’s okay, Bri-Guy. I’m here.” She touched him again.

Calm reassurance filled him. Taking another step, he halted as if he’d come up against a wall. Closing his eyes, he put out his hands and pushed, meeting with resistance.

“There’s something here.” He spread his arms, trying to find the edges. His full wing span, over six feet, and he still didn’t find the corners. “It’s big.” He reached up, finding the top easily. It was far longer than it was tall. The top of it wasn’t even above his head, but came to his shoulders.

Maribelle took a step around him, to his right, on the outside of the circle they’d painted. Touching the wall, she moved away from Brian. When she finally found a corner, she was nearly three feet from him.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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That’s Quite a Character – Alvin Ripley Room 103

That's Quite a Character

Alvin Ripley has high blood pressure, acid reflux, hemorrhoids and his hair is thinning at an alarming rate. He’s not even 60, but he sometimes feels like he’s falling apart. Why? He blames Marice Houston, one of his deputy marshals. Alvin is the head of the Kansas City, Missouri Federal Marshal’s office and she works for him. We first meet them both in Room 103, a romantic suspense novel set in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Marice seems to find trouble just by waking up in the morning. There is always something going on that she feels compelled to deal with, and not always by the book. Disturbance at the college football game? She’s in the middle of it, taking out a rude drunk. Explosion on the college campus? Her hair and jacket are singed. Car bomb in the underground garage – of course, it nearly takes her out. Shoot outs, near drownings, car chases, transporting dangerous federal prisoners….

Is it any wonder that he goes off on her? This is one of my favorite scenes from Room 303, the third book in the Marice Houston Mysteries Series (Not yet published). Marice happens to be back in Pittsburg and there’s an incident. She goes with the police to investigate and the office they are in blows up. Her quick thinking gets everyone out before the bomb goes off.


room 103 front cover


On the way to the motel, Marice’s phone rang. She cringed. It as her boss, Alvin Ripley.

“Houston! What the hell is going on down there? Why haven’t you called? No, don’t tell me. You’re in the thick of it, getting shot at and blown up.”

“Not shot.”

“Jesus H. Christ, Houston. You didn’t get your man shot again, did you?”

“No, Todd’s date got shot. She’s critical. Then her office blew up.”

“Were you there?”

“What do you think?”

“Your ass on fire?”


“Well, it will be if you don’t stop f**king around and get to the bottom of this!”

“Is that an order, sir?”

“That’s a don’t f**k this up, Houston! I swear to god, trouble comes looking for you. I never met a woman so good at finding ways to let someone kill her off. Were you born under a bad sign? Cursed at birth? Did you piss off your fairy godmother?”

She didn’t reply. Al was in full rant mode. He wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. If she said a word, he was likely to rip her a new asshole.

“Help me out here, Marice. How do you get into all this shit? You Super Girl now, or something? Is your super power, f**king shit up?”

“No, sir.”

“Good answer. To that end, the not f**king it up, that is. I’m sending help.”

“Have the police asked for our help?”

“Someone tried to blow up my favorite deputy. I don’t give a hickey in in a high wind if they want us there or not. I can stomp in wearing jackboots and f**k all their shit up. Do I need to do that?”

“No, sir.”

“Good. Make no mistake, I will do what it takes to keep you safe. I made a promise to that man of yours. If that means I put you riding a desk for the next slice of forever, I can make that happen. I like you, Houston. F**k knows why, you’re a pain in my hemorrhoids. But I will slap you on a desk so fast, it will make your head spin.”

“Thank you for the help. I’m sure Detective Scrivener will appreciate it.”

“Appreciate what?” Darla asked, flashing her a look. She could hear just enough of Al’s rant to know he was furious.

“He’s sending help. He’s also threatening to take over the case.”

“Let him. Things are too damn exciting with you around.”

“Praise be, one of you has a lick of sense. Where can we find you?”

“At Todd’s motel.”

“Might have known he’d be mixed up in this. Karma’s a bitch, Houston. You f**k with her, you’re going down.” He hung up.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 36

the man who wasnt thereAfter an uneasy dream about the witches, Brian has a very nasty confrontation with Mr. D, in the guise of Dr. Meru. The following morning, he isn’t sure he trusts the mystical man.

“We determined that the only way to burn the witches was with magical fire. Then we walked into the living room, you reached for a paper in one of the boxes and I woke in my room. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t get the door open. No matter how I tried, I was locked in. Willa would not wake. I could hear you calling out, but the words were strange. With a last yell, you stopped and I assumed you were awake.”

“Did you try the door then?”

“Yes. I was able to open it.”

“Why didn’t you come then?”

“Because I heard enough of your dream to know that you wouldn’t have wanted to see me. Even now, you don’t trust me. I accept that. Are either of the dogs about?” he asked Miles.

“Janus showed up a few minutes ago,” Miles replied. “I saw him in the yard.” He went to the back door and whistled for the dog.

Seconds later, the huge Ridgeback clomped into the room, wagging his tail, tongue lolling. He walked up to Meru, sniffed his hand and licked him. That was confirmation enough for Brian. He relaxed, telling his version of the dream.

“And you found the paper?” Maribelle said.

“Yes. I put it in Dad’s safe before I went back to bed. I think all the other artifacts should be locked up and warded. That stuff is dangerous.”

“I agree with Brian,” Miles said. “And not all in one spot.”

“Copies,” Meru said. “Scatter and hide the originals and keep copies.”

“That will take a long time, something we don’t have much of. It’s already Tuesday. Halloween is Thursday. If Mr. D. is going to make his power move, it will probably be then.”

“We need to take care of the ashes right away,” Maribelle said. “I called Mom to babysit. I’m going, too. We must have everyone we can get. Brian, call Andre and the others. Miles, you know what to do.”

He nodded at his wife and got up from the table. “Meru, can you give me a hand with these boxes?”

“Certainly, Miles.” He followed Brian’s father to the dining room.

Maribelle Casey grabbed a jacket and went to Miles’ office. Moments later, she went to the safe in the dining room. Brian joined her there while he talked to Andre. He showed her the paper and the page in the book. She scanned copies and locked the originals back in the safe.

“Time to go shopping,” she said with a smile.

“Do I need to drive you?”

“No. It’s just really cold in the storage space. Come. I’ll need you to carry things. Bring a coat.”

Puzzled, Brian followed his mother to the basement. She opened the door to the storage room and walked confidently to the center.

“Open that, please.”

There was a trapdoor in the floor that Brian couldn’t remember ever seeing before. Flush with the floor, a thick, brass ring lay in a recessed area. Brian lifted it with ease. It swung back without a sound. He followed his mother down narrow steps. The room was extremely cold. Even with his coat, Brian was chilly. Maribelle turned on a light and pulled out the list.

“Get that crate.” She pointed to a wooden crate a few feet away.

Brian picked it up and set it on the small table in the center of the room. It looked like a pantry, though the items in the glass jars were hardly things he’d expect to find in his mother’s cellar.

“Is that eyeballs?” He peered at one jar with marble sized spheres.

“Yes, from goats.”


“But useful. We don’t need them though.”

“Thank God.”

“Grab that for me, Ladder Boy.” She pointed to a small glass jar full of yellow powder.

Brian lifted it down and put it in the crate. “Are you going to tell me what all this is?”

“No. That next,” she commanded, pointing to some other mysterious substance.

After ten minutes, she seemed satisfied that they had everything. Double checking her list, she beckoned for Brian to pick up the crate and follow her up the steps. When they were back in the basement, she shut the trap door and Brian couldn’t see it anymore. He felt like he should be able to see it, but it simply wasn’t there.

“Neat trick, that camouflage.”

“Very handy. Bring that upstairs,” she commanded. “Please,” she added almost as an afterthought.

This was an aspect of his mother Brian had never seen before. He couldn’t decide if he liked it or not. He was still thinking about it when she brought out a variety of small glass bowls.

“Prep time,” she said, handing him a knife he’d never seen before. The blade looked like it might be made of dark glass—or possibly obsidian. The handle was made from some sort of bone and it was inlaid with stones and pieces of metal.

Her hands moved deftly and quickly, chopping, mashing, peeling and grinding. Brian followed her movements as exactly as he could. Satisfied, she sealed the bowls with plastic lids, stacking them in another small crate.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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New from Dellani Oakes – Something Completely Different!

doodle your stress volume 1 coverI write books. That’s more or less a given. However, not as well known fact, I also doodle. I’ve done this since I was a kid. Anytime I got bored, I doodled pictures on the sides of my note pages. They varied somewhat, but most of the time, they were rockets. I’ve often reflected on that, and came to the conclusion that this was because I wanted to escape the boredom of the class.

When I got to be in 6th or 7th grade, a friend of mine showed me something she had done – abstract doodles on tinfoil. That really sparked my imagination. Not only did I have cool shapes, I had the embossed feel and glitter of the foil. However, my mother didn’t much like me hogging all her foil, so I started doing it on paper. The margins of my note pages changed, getting much more creative and interesting. It kept me relaxed and able to listen to lectures instead of daydreaming as much.

My doodles have progressed and changed over the years, and are far different from the juvenile scribbles. I find myself making a lot of flowers or geometric shapes. I like the flowers because they flow so easily onto the page. I also like the geometric shapes because they are more exact and challenging. All my original designs are done on scratch paper with a mechanical pencil. I trace over them to scan and share. If you notice any double lines or other flaws on the book pages, this is why. These images are 100% handmade, therefore, not perfect. I want them that way. To me, the feel of the pencil on the paper is as important as the image itself. When I’m bored or stressed, I grab paper and pencil and doodle away.

I hope you will find the doodles as relaxing and comforting as I do. The designs are best colored with pencils or fine markers. Have fun, go wild! Bring color to these black and white pages. Also, you’ll notice there are a couple of blank pages in the back. This was a result of the book layout, but you can use them to make your own doodles. Have fun, experiment, enjoy.

I’m currently working on Volume 2 and I hope to have it out by Christmas. Meanwhile, sit back, relax and doodle your stress away!

I realized after the book went live that I’d accidentally used the same doodle twice. I’ve changed it now, but there are a few of you who had already bought it. I apologize! Even after hours of proofing, I goofed. I’ve added a new one and I’m posting it here – with a bonus freebie – for everyone to enjoy! Just right click and save!

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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This is the Bonus!

doodle bookmark

This is the New One!

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 35

the man who wasnt thereBrian has a disturbing dream about the witches. Waking with a start, he decides to go get a drink in the kitchen, only to find Dr. Meru there.

“It needs to be done as soon as possible. But not at night. They’ll be stronger in the dark.”

Meru nodded again, listening intently.

“Maybe I’m buying into the Hollywood shtick here, but I think we need to dig up those ashes and destroy them. Three hundred years ago, they couldn’t burn bodies as well as we can now. Even modern crematoriums can’t always reduce bodies completely to ashes. There are always bits left.”

“Which means….”

“Which means, there are bits of witches under the ground. Not just ashes, bone, teeth, jewelry. And someone with the right powers could use that against us. I think Cliff Finley figured that out. I think he was trying to reinforce the wards on the land and that’s what got him killed.”

Meru grinned, nodding adamantly. “So, how do we burn witches more efficiently?”

“With magic,” Brian concluded.

“Indeed, my young friend. With magic.”

Brian and Meru took their tea to the living room and examined the books and papers. Brian was agitated. He had no idea where to start. They didn’t have time for random searching, they had to be systematic.

“Close your eyes,” Dr. Meru said. “Relax. Say our little chant.” He said the words he’d taught Brian.

Joining in, Brian felt peace replace the anxiety. Closing his eyes, he reached out, touching the books and papers as if he brushed them with his fingers instead of his mind. One paper, the old map that showed the Finley place, glowed. Reaching for it, Brian felt his fingers close over the parchment. Opening his eyes, he picked it up gingerly.

“This,” he stated confidently. “Something about this.”

“Yes.” Meru grinned. The smile became a leer. His teeth elongated, becoming fangs.

Horrified, Brian stepped back and tripped over the coffee table, scattering the decorations and magazines on top. Meru lunged at him, roaring loudly. Brian yelped, scrambling away from the older man. He clutched the paper tightly as he kicked at the predatory evil.

Snarling, fangs dripping with saliva, Meru advanced, claws reaching for the paper. His dark eyes flashed red and a hollow, funereal laugh rumbled from his chest. “Did you really think you could beat me?”

Brian recognized Deidrich’s voice. Beating down his fear, Brian scrambled off the coffee table and ran toward the fireplace. An ugly laugh escaped Deidrich’s blue tinged lips. Black flames leaped up in the fireplace, licking at Brian, straining to free themselves from the confines of the brick and stone.

With a thought, Brian extinguished them by sucking the air from them. He reached for the poker, which was cold iron. Taking it in one hand, he held the map in the other. Deidrich made another grab for him. Brian whacked him with the poker. It connected with a loud crack.

Deidrich screamed, grasping his hand. A black and red welt rose. Brian hit him again. Deidrich tried to wrest the poker from his grasp, but the damage it caused was too great. Roaring in pain, he made another halfhearted grab at the poker. Brian raised it, jabbing Deidrich in the gut. Swinging again, he connected with Deidrich’s shoulder, catching him in the neck with his backswing. With a puff of acrid black smoke, Deidrich disappeared.

Brian sat up in bed, gasping and sweating. The tape stopped rolling. Examining it closely, he saw it was only slightly further than when he’d woken before. Or had he really woken? Could that have been an extension of his first dream?

One way to find out.

He dashed downstairs. The house was quiet. No light shown under the kitchen door. He ran to the living room. The poker was in the rack by the fireplace. All the papers and books were on the table in the boxes. The coffee table was where it always stood, magazines neatly fanned. Cautiously, Brian went to the box and took out the map. Taking it to the dining room, he turned on the light above the table and spread out the worn parchment.

Scribbled in the corner, in tight, pointy script, he found what he was after. “To create fire to smite the damned.” A list of ingredients followed and a reference to a book that Brian remembered seeing in one of the boxes.

A frantic search revealed the book. Flipping the pages, he finally came across the spell. It was a deceptively easy one. Looking at it more closely, Brian saw the notation, “Power words must be sung.”

Smiling, he folded up the map, placing it in the book to mark the place. “Gotcha,” he whispered.

Brian was awake when the rest of the household got up. He’d made a pot of coffee and sat with a mug in front of him as he munched on a piece of toast. Dr. Meru came in right after Maribelle and Miles. He sat across the table from Brian, examining his face closely. Brian returned the scrutiny with a bland expression.

“We walked in dreams together,” Meru declared. “And yet, you are suspicious of me. What happened?”

“Why don’t you tell me what happened in your dream first,” Brian said calmly.

Miles sat along the side of the table, placing himself between Brian and Meru.

“As you wish.” Meru inclined his head. “We sat at this very table, talking about the ashes.”

Brian nodded. “Keep going.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 34

the man who wasnt thereChase’s mother is very ill and needs a pace maker. To help with the strength of the Circle, Dr. Meru, his wife and son all arrive.

“From what we can tell, his ancestors were given the task of warding and protecting the land. They built their home there and maintained the wards,” Heath said. “But something went wrong. We don’t know what, yet.”

“Fortunately, the sheriff is his cousin and is well aware of the situation. She’s put it down as a build up of methane from the swamp.”

“Does she also know there may be trouble at the Harvest Ball?” Willa asked.

“Yes. We’ve made the families aware of the problem. Just because they aren’t the ones with power, they’re not without skills and resources. This could go bad quickly,” Miles answered.

Willa covered a yawn, but Jackie’s sharp eyes didn’t miss it.

“We’ve kept everyone up long enough. Time for bed.”

Brian showed Dwight downstairs. Meru and Willa went upstairs with Miles. Jordan was waiting for Brian when he’d gotten Dwight settled.

“Mom’s waiting, so I can’t linger.” She pointed over her shoulder. “You did great today.” She took a step closer, smiling shyly at him. “I can’t get over how you just rushed in and took charge. Thank you.” She gave him a quick kiss.

Brian pulled her close, his long arms wrapped around her. “Thank you, too. I couldn’t have held up that wall much longer on my own.”

She tried to say something else, but he kissed her. Soon, she pulled away. “I’d better go.”

“Yeah. I love you, Jordan.”

“I love you, too.” Biting her lip, eyes sparkling, she ran upstairs.

Dwight cleared his throat quietly. “Sorry to bother,” he said. “Loo?”

Brian chuckled. “No problem. She had to go anyway. This way.” He showed Dwight the bathroom.

“Been together long?”

“About a year. Well, I’ve known her a year. Dating about three months.”

“Early days, then.” He nodded. “Good job. You’ll do all right,” he said with a smirk. “Already saving her life.” He winked and went in the bathroom.

Brian laughed as he walked upstairs. He took a quick shower and lay down. Something made him turn on the sound activated recorder. He’d tried for several nights to get something coherent, but his dreams were such a muddle, the recordings were too. Tonight, he had a feeling something more would present itself. He hoped it would be something that would give them an edge in the coming fight.

The sky was gray, troubled—a swirling mass of clouds and debris whirled tumultuously around him. Brian stood by the witches’ grave, alone. The ground beneath him shivered and shook. Pebbles skittered crazily as the earth growled. Ghostly apparitions joined the swirling fury around him, rising from beneath his feet. Bony fingers clawed at him, chilling his flesh. Bits of clothing and jewelry wrapped around the bones. Stretching and growing, the bones became skeletons. Soon, ragged flesh covered them, then hair and finally clothing. Sickly pale, with blisters and oozing boils, they whirled around him before settling on the ground one by one. Cold hands groped at him. Wicked smiles grimaced from the gloom as they moved closer. Reaching, tugging, jabbing….

With a yell of distress, Brian woke. It took a moment to realize that he was awake. The dream didn’t fade away, as so many had in the past. He picked up the tape player and saw that it had been running. Doing his best to describe what he’d seen, he talked until the tape ran out. Turning it to a new side, he lay back down and closed his eyes once more.

Sleep refused to come. He was still too jazzed by his dream. Suddenly thirsty, he wandered down to the kitchen. There was a light on, visible under the swinging door that separated it from the rest of the house. Although he didn’t get a bad vibe from it, he approached the door warily.

Dr. Meru sat at the table. He smiled at Brian. “I made tea. I had a feeling you’d be up soon. Tell me about the dream.”

“How did you know?”

“I could be enigmatic and say that it was strong vibrations, but the truth is that you talk in your sleep, rather loudly.” He chuckled. “It was a bad one.”

“Yes.” Brian told him what he remembered of the dream. It was beginning to fade, but he was still left with a disquieting impression.

“And what do you glean from this dream?”

Brian played with his teacup. “I think that witch grave is trouble. I think we need to figure out a way to contain it. That’s potential power for the dark side.”


“I think Cliff was working on that idea and they killed him. I think the answer lies in that stuff we took from the historical society and that’s why they tried to destroy it.” He met Meru’s dark eyed stare. “I think we’re in real danger.”

“I believe you. Now, what will we do about it?”

Brian shrugged. “You’re the holy man. What would you do?”

“I know what I would do,” Meru replied with a smirk. “I want to know what you think should be done—that I can help you with.”

“First of all, it’s going to take everyone. This isn’t a thing that one or two of us can handle.”

Meru nodded, taking a sip of his tea.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Caleb and Danielle!

Join us LIVE TODAY, July 10, 2017 from 4 – 6 PM EDT

It’s July and time to celebrate! To do that, we’ve invited two great authors to be on the show. Please join us in welcoming two newcomers to the broadcast.

Caleb Monroe is the author of Breaking Free, a teen reader book from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press. We’re so happy to have him on the show. Welcome, Caleb!

Also with us is romance author, Danielle Zwissler, author of The Man I’ll Marry, Mommy for Christmas, The Boy Next Door, Yuletide Bride and many more.

Join us for a fun filled show with lots of laughs!

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 33

the man who wasnt thereAfter reading some original documents, Brian discovers that the wording has been altered. Instead of quick lime and bitter herbs, the witches were buried with bitumen. They realize that this could have caused a massive explosion, possibly brought on when Cliff tried to ward his property. Brian and Jordan go to the hospital to be with Chase and bring him a care package for the night.

Chase nodded, his lips trembling. Tears rolled down his cheeks. “Thank you. He was pretty great.”

Jordan took his hand, kissing the back of it. “I’ll never forget whacking at that damn elemental with two green sticks covered in marshmallow goo.” She sniffled and laughed. “I was freaking out and you guys took care of me. I remember, I almost slapped your mother.”

Chuckling, Chase nodded. “Lord, I thought you two were gonna have a fight right there. Dad said that took a steel backbone. He told me, She might be little, but that girl’s got more fight than some folks twice her size. He admired the hell out of you.”

“I admired him too. His advice saved our parents from Mr. D. We wouldn’t have had any idea what to do.”

“Thanks so much for coming by. Marissa and her folks were here for awhile. It was good to have them, too.”

“Have they figured out what’s wrong with your mom?” Jordan asked gently, holding his hand.

“Yeah. She has a bad heart and it gave out when she saw him. She’s getting a pace maker tomorrow.”

“Do you want us here?” Brian offered.

“My grandparents will be here. I think it will be crowded enough with the four of them.”

“Yeah. Okay, but you call me if you need me.”

“Both of us,” Jordan added.

“Thanks. I’d better get back upstairs. They’re supposed to set me up with a bed. Tell your folks thanks for the clothing and stuff.”

“I’d have brought mine….”

“But you’re Sasquatch.” Chase chuckled, swatting Brian’s arm. “It’s cool. Thanks.”

Jordan flung her arms around him, kissing his cheeks. Sobbing, she ran out the front door. Brian bid a hasty farewell and followed her. He was only marginally aware of Chase heading back to his mother’s room. He found Jordan standing in the parking lot, choking on sobs, gasping for breath.

“You okay, babe?”

Instead of replying, she clung to him, burying her face in his chest. “That could have been you! Or one of our parents! None of us are safe. And what are we going to do, down by two people? This makes us weaker.”

“We’ll manage. I don’t know how, but we will. Maybe we will call in some of the others from the Network. That’s someone else’s job and worry, Jordan. If they need us to do something, they’ll tell us.”

Their parents were still reading through the books and papers when they returned.

“How’s Dora?” Maribelle asked.

“She needs a pace maker,” Brian replied.

“I was afraid of that,” Jackie said. “She’s been putting it off, saying she was too young. I used to work for a cardiologist. We had to put one into a five year old once.” She shook her head.

“What are we going to do?” Jordan asked. “We’ve lost two people. Are we strong enough without them?”

The adults exchanged a knowing look.

“What?” Brian hadn’t missed it.

“We’ve put out a call,” Miles replied. “We’re waiting for response. Not everyone can get away at a moment’s notice, but those who can, will come.”

As if on cue, car doors slammed outside. They heard a motor running in the driveway. Brian glanced at the clock. It was after 11:00. There were voices and movement on the porch. Miles joined him, peeping out the window. With a huge grin, he flung open the door.

“Bindjali! Welcome!”

Dr. Meru burst happily into the house, laughing loudly as he hugged Miles, pummeling him on the back. He gave Brian the same treatment. Behind him, a quiet, pretty woman waited.

“This is my lovely wife, Willa. And somewhere, my son. Ah, here he is. This is Dwight.”

“Welcome!” Miles ushered them in.

Willa was as quiet as her husband was loud. She had delicate features and looked more like she was from India. They weren’t surprised to find out that she was a native of Sri Lanka. Dwight was an interesting mixture of his parents. His skin was lighter than his father’s, but he had the same wide mouth and full lips. His upper face was much more like his mother’s, with black, arched eyebrows.

“My fiancée, Kiersten couldn’t join us on our flight, but she will be here by Thursday morning,” Dwight assured them. “We will all gladly fill in as needed.”

“Absolutely,” Willa agreed.

The additional noise woke Elise. She was much admired and passed around until she fell asleep in Dwight’s arms. Fortunately, Lucy and Katie stayed asleep.

“Do we know what happened to Cliff?” Meru asked, his loud voice now soft and gentle.

“We aren’t entirely sure,” Miles replied. “From what we can tell, it had something to do with the witches buried under his land.”

“What?” Meru tried to keep his voice down, but nearly lost it.

Elise fussed, nuzzling at Dwight’s chest. He passed her to Maribelle.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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