The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 31

the man who wasnt thereHeath takes Jordan and Brian to the historical society building and it looks as if it was the target of the freak tornado. Doing a little subversive magic, Heath opens the door to let them in. Brian worries that they might have been seen.

“What if someone saw us?” Brian asked.

“No one saw us,” Heath replied confidently as he walked to the car.

“How do you know, Dad?”

“You kids really don’t get it, do you? They don’t see us unless we want them to. I didn’t want them to.”

“You’ve got to teach me how to do that,” Brian said.

“Not until you’re over eighteen,” Heath teased. “Oh, the glamour doesn’t work on us,” he added with a smirk. “In case you’re thinking it would be a cool skill to have so you could sneak out of the house.”

“Hadn’t even occurred to us, Dad,” Jordan replied.

“Right….” Heath didn’t sound convinced.

They put the books in the car and drove back to the house with the books in tow.

“Aren’t you afraid that whatever went after Cliff will come after us?” Jordan asked.

“Not when I have the best Casters in the state sitting inside,” Heath said. “The house is already warded. We’ll beef it up.”

“Cliff’s was warded too,” Brian said. “But it got him anyway.”

“Yes,” Heath said. “Something broached his wards.”

“Could the same thing broach ours?” Jordan asked.

He lifted her chin, gazing into her eyes. “Little bit, trust your old man.”

“Okay,” but she didn’t sound confident.

Heath explained what was needed. Maribelle, Jackie and Miles went around the house, reinforcing the wards and laying new ones, as Heath unpacked the books. Starting with the one that Jordan had found, they examined them for information about the witch trials.

Maribelle made a pot of tea and brought more cookies. They took turns reading from the massive books. It took some digging around, but Miles finally found a chapter that dealt with the beginning of the trials.

“In late September of 1713, things started going wrong. Freak weather, crops dying for no reason, illness.” He scanned the pages. “Wow. Listen to this.” He shifted uneasily. “It started with a whirlwind spinning through the township, uprooting trees and frightening cattle. Then, the first townspeople got sick. It was a fast acting illness, causing blisters and boils.” He shuddered. “Oh, that’s just not right.”

He wouldn’t read the descriptions, no matter how much they begged. He skipped the worst of it and found another spot to read. “This was followed by a putrefaction of the water. More illness, this time affecting animals as well as people. They traced these foul acts to three women, all of whom lived outside town, more or less in the spot where the Finley’s house stands. They were tried, hanged, their bodies burned and their ashes flung in a pit with bitter herbs and lime.” He scanned some more.

“Things settled down for a short time, then more stuff went on, equally as disgusting and appalling—and no, I’m not reading this aloud. It’s repugnant. More trials, more deaths. Only this time, there was an immediate retaliation. The town didn’t get all the witches with that sweep and they went on the offensive. A huge battle went on between the town people and the witches for an entire day. There were down to a handful of people on either side, when the Peddler intervened. He’d been in town a day or so, but didn’t choose to get involved until the children were threatened. Up to that point, the witches hadn’t harmed the children, but decided to launch an attack on them.

“None of the children died, but they were overwhelmed with fever and set upon by boils and blisters, like the adults had been earlier. The Peddler did his thing and badabing, they were healed. The wounded adults were healed. The witches were captured—it isn’t specific how. Something to do with his super powers, as far as I can make out. He stayed long enough to see that they were on their way to recovery and he left.”

He held up the book. “This one has pictures. One of the children was an exceptional artist. He drew pictures of what he saw.” He held up the book for them all the look at.

Hideous renditions of rotting corpses, evil faces and hanging bodies met their inquiring eyes. Jordan and the women looked away. Brian took the book, examining each picture carefully. Several symbols kept recurring on the pages, sometimes more than once in a picture. One in particular, occurred in every picture.

“What’s that?” he asked his father and Heath.

The men squinted at it.

“No idea,” Miles replied. “Heath?”

“It’s familiar.” He pulled out his phone and did a quick web search. “Just as I thought. That’s and alchemy symbol. Look, there are others. I think it’s a recipe,” he concluded.

“For what?” Brian asked.

“No clue. Jackie?”

She was busy copying the symbols down. Shaking her head, she frowned. “Bizarre. It really doesn’t make any sense. Whatever it is, it’s not something we want to mess with.”

“What is it, Mom?”

“As far as I can tell, it’s a way to seed the clouds to rain hellfire and blood.” She stared at her notes, appalled. “It’s a recipe for acid rain! No wonder they had blisters and boils. They were being poisoned from the sky!”

“How could you possibly do that back then?” Miles asked.

“You’d need someone with a great deal of power, control of the weather and a whole lotta hate.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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