Brian 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, 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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