The Man Who Wasn’t There – Conclusion

the man who wasnt thereThe following morning, they all meet up at Brian’s house for breakfast to discuss what happened the night before.

“Opal was killed, but a skillful surgeon, who happened to be there—and one of the chosen—saved her child, Olivander. Luminous nearly turned his back on the babe, but his eldest daughter insisted that he care for the child. It was no fault of the baby that his mother was evil. As he grew, he developed some miraculous gifts, not the least of which were prophetic dreams.”

“How do you know all this?” Brian asked. “I didn’t get that much from Luminous.”

“Virtuous did a lot of talking over the last few days. He was most concerned about your Rider. He had a theory about that too.”

“I’ve been wondering about that,” Andre said. “It seems way too weird that we found that incantation with no real explanation. We assumed it was the Peddler.”

“When the Peddler was in Meru all the time,” Marissa said with a grin.

“It was Luminous, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. He knew one day that Opal would try to come back. Rather than letting that happen, he left clues in various places. It wasn’t until Cliff compiled everything, donating it to the historical society, that his secrets were revealed. He hoped that we would find his information and bring him back so he could fight Opal. Which he did. None too subtle, perhaps, but certainly final. The drawings we found were done by the Olivander, the Dreamer, drawn after the fact, of course.”

“This is making my brain hurt,” Chase declared. “What I wanna know is what’s next? Are we always going to be battling some hidden evil, or will we get to live normal lives from now on?”

“I’d never call my own life exactly normal,” Annabelle said. “But it’s certainly been quieter than yours. We had the odd crisis, but never anything this serious. I don’t know why your generation is plagued so much more with these things.” She shook her head sadly. “If I could take the burden from you, I would.”

Brian looked at the group of people to whom he had grown so close over the last year. “I don’t know about the rest of us, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even if someone walked up and said they could take this job from me, make my skills go away, I wouldn’t do it.”

“Why not?” Marissa asked. “It’s been nothing but trouble for you. You’ve nearly died more times in the last year than I can count.”

“Someone has to, Marissa. There will always be evil in the world, of one kind or another. I’m proud of how we’ve come together and fought against it. Even if nothing else ever happens to us, we can look back at this time and know we made a difference.”

“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Marissa replied.

“So, what now?” Sweet asked. “Do we just go back to being the class nerd or the jock or the social pariah? Where do we fit in now?”

“Wherever we want,” Brian replied. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not scared to be me anymore. I’ve battled elementals, saved the girl I love from demons. I’ve been possessed and survived. I’ve dodged swamp wraiths and thrown my coffee in the eye of an ice storm. Do you think that the high school cliques scare me anymore?”

Everyone laughed.

“You’ve got a point, Brian,” Ginnifer said. “When you’ve done what we have—which we can never in a million years tell—the things that used to be intimidating, don’t matter anymore.”

The adults finally called it a day, deciding to go their separate ways for relaxing naps. The teenagers gathered in Brian’s basement once more. Sitting around the ping pong table with cans of soda and bags of chips, they talked about everything that had happened.

“What about the heightened senses,” Jordan asked. “Are you still on a Rider high?”

“Not like I was, but I can still see, hear and smell things better than before. I don’t think that will ever go completely away. I have to admit, disconcerting as it is, it came in handy.”

Jordan kissed his cheek and he smiled almost sadly.

“I was wishing to be a normal teen just a few days ago,” Brian said. “But now, I don’t want the drama. All that angst and wondering if the girl I like is interested in me. I’m just as glad that we come in pairs, destined to be together. It takes all the stress of dating out of the equation.” He stretched, putting an arm around Jordan. “Yup, got me the best girl in the world and didn’t have to work to get her.”

Jordan rabbit punched him, making him gasp. Laughing, she gave him a kiss. “But you have to work to keep me happy. Just because it’s preordained doesn’t mean you can be a jackass.”

“I will never purposely be a jackass,” Brian promised. “I can’t be held responsible for the occasional judgment errors.”

“Like telling me you were Luminous?”

“Ah, lass,” he drawled. “But I was, just for a moment. Right before I kissed you.”

“You said that you kissed me.” She tensed up, ready to smack him again.

“He initiated it,” he admitted. “Your kiss is what brought me back. He’s gone for good, Jordan. I promise. Andre can confirm, no more Rider.”

“He’s right, Jordan. The Rider is completely gone. No more worries about the man who wasn’t there.”

“Thank God,” Jordan said. “Because I really hated that guy. He had shit taste in women.”

“That he did,” Brian said, kissing her. “But I don’t.”


© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 55

the man who wasnt thereIt’s finally over and they managed to vanquish Opal. Luminous lingered for a little while, but Brian is back. Tired and hungry, they order pizza and head to Brian’s home to relax. His grandmother is there watching Elise.

“It went well?” Brian’s grandmother asked repeatedly.

“Yes, Mom, it went very well. We’re just so tired. We’re going to eat our pizza and go to sleep,” Maribelle told her, giving her mother a hug.

Annabelle Girard held her daughter close. “I’ve never been so scared. I was afraid we’d lose you all.” She went around the room, hugging and kissing each of them. She would have made a second round, but the pizza arrived.

The boys laughed when they saw that there was a whole pizza for each of them. The others shared. Not to be daunted by the challenge, Sweet and Brian ate every slice of their large pizzas.

Beyond tired, everyone went right to bed. Brian didn’t even remember falling asleep. He was marginally aware of his grandmother checking on him while he slept, but the rest of the night, he was oblivious to everything. He was so tired, he didn’t even care if he dreamed.

The next morning, he woke to the smell of good food cooking. The scent of his grandmother’s signature cinnamon bread swirled invitingly around him. He dressed and trotted downstairs. His friends and their parents arrived, each bringing a special breakfast treat to share.

They gathered around the table and were about to give blessing when there was another knock at the door. Brian, who was closest, hopped up. Chase walked in with his Aunt Cynthia and his mother. They all greeted Dora, hugging her gently. Brian gave her his chair and Annabelle got her a small plate of food. Chase served himself and his aunt before sitting on the floor next to Brian. They shared the coffee table in the living room.

“Your mom looks good,” Brian said.

“Yeah. We’re gonna be okay. We’re going to move in with my grandparents for awhile. Mom’s determined not to go back to our house. Honest to God, I can’t even think about it either. I’ll still be at school, so it’s not like I’m leaving.”

“Good. Cause I’d miss seeing your goofy grin every day.”

Chase laughed, throwing his napkin at Brian.

When breakfast was over, the children went outside to play with the dogs, who had popped over for a visit, leaving the adults and teens together.

“Now,” Annabelle said. “I want the full details. I know all hell broke loose, I could feel it. I may not be in fighting form anymore, but some things you never lose.”

“You’re the chosen one from your generation?” Brian was surprised to find that out. “I had no idea.”

“Yes. I’m surprised you never picked up on it. It’s not like I ever tried to keep it a secret.” She smiled, running her fingers through his hair. “But your grandpa and I never had to face what you have.” She hugged her grandson, kissing his forehead. “Oh, you’ve had us so scared!”

Once she’d calmed down, they talked about what they’d felt or observed. They were most interested in what happened to Jordan, Brian and Meru.

“It was like she stepped into me,” Jordan explained. “It was cold and dark, the place I went when she took over my body. She didn’t shut me completely off. I think she wanted me to see what she was doing to Brian. She had some sick reason to punish him and torture me.”

“So Opal was a witch? I wonder how that happened,” Marissa said.

“I have a theory on that,” Annabelle said. “There are often, even among the chosen, those who are hungry for power. They’re ambitious and will stop at nothing to get more. Mr. D. exploits that. He’s a master at temptation, seducing someone with their own desires. My guess is that Opal was one of those.”

“What a shame,” Jordan said. “There were vestiges of her there. I caught glimpses of her memories of her life with Luminous. They were good together.”

“But they were never in love,” Brian said. “Unlike you and I, they didn’t bond. Luminous was in love with another woman, but he couldn’t have her. She was married to his best friend. She died in the fighting. Opal killed her. That’s what he meant by losing the love of his life.”

“Man, that sucks!” Chase said. “He sure had a shit ton of kids for a man who didn’t love his wife.”

“Interesting thing about that,” Brian added. “This was a slave territory. Luminous was a preacher, but he was also the son of a wealthy man.”

“So, some of those children were born on the wrong side of the sheets,” his grandmother said. “Men!” She rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

“Enough about Opal and Luminous,” Jordan said. “I want to hear about Meru!”

Dr. Meru smirked, sitting up straight. Hands on his knees, his dark eyes glittering excitedly, he explained.

“My family line is full of spiritualists and shaman,” he explained. “We have the Druid blood line because of the people who settled from the British Isles, but there was magic in our blood before that. Virtuous Meru, as he was known in this country, was my many greats-grandfather. He was a descendant of prophets, priests and kings. I’m not sure why he was here, though I know he was a freeborn man. How he came to be in this area in 1713, I don’t know. I hope to find more about it later. In any case, he arrived near the height of the fighting. Skills he never knew he had, kicked in when Opal and Luminous fought. He didn’t interfere, by then it was too late. He knew Opal had to die in order for the others to survive. He proceeded as I did, drawing a magical symbol on the ground and cast a spell. You have seen first hand what happened afterward.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 54

the man who wasnt thereDr. Meru takes action against Opal, doing his best to destroy her crypt. The others help him. Once her attention is off the parents, they join the battle. Opal leaves Jordan’s body and Brian is able to attack her directly.

Brian jumped off the roof, curling into a ball as he struck the ground. The air left his lungs with a loud oof. Once he was out of the way, Meru advanced on Opal. She bled from half a dozen wounds, her mouth and nose were sealed. Her skin glowed from within with thousands of flickering colored lights. Meru squeezed his hand into a tight fist. The bonds around her tightened. Opal tried to scream, but couldn’t. Writhing against the vines, her screams turned to moans.

Meru slammed his fists together. Opal groaned, shuddering as she staggered. Yanking his fists apart, Meru tore her body in half. It fell in tiny, black pieces, scattering like ashes. A whirlwind formed, whipping the bits of Opal into a tight cloud. It swooped up, whirled and slammed into the top of the mausoleum. The building shook as the earth rumbled.

“Get down,” Brian commanded, controlling the mini-tornado with his left hand.

Meru flung himself off the top. The others fell to the ground. The earth groaned and growled, vibrating hard and fast. Seismic waves undulated the ground, shaking the mausoleum to dust. With an acrid puff of dust, it collapsed to nothing but a cloud of dust and debris. Bright flames burst from Brian’s hands, catching every mote of dust from the accursed building. Within seconds, it was consumed. Only a blackened pit was left.

Brian collapsed. Jordan crawled to his side. He was breathing, but his pulse was thready. Picking himself up out of the churned dirt, Claude stumbled to where Brian lay.

“Is he all right? Is he hurt?” Miles asked.

“Just exhausted, I think. Let’s get him in the house. Is anyone badly hurt?” Claude called.

A short triage showed that no one was seriously injured. There were a few cuts, bumps and bruises, but nothing more severe. Together, the men carried Brian into the house and put him on the kitchen table once more. The women scrambled around searching for ingredients in Dora’s well stocked cupboards. Jackie brewed a restorative tea while the others cleaned his many wounds with herbs steeped in holy water.

Brian came around a few minutes later, sitting up slowly as he looked around the kitchen. “Where is she?” he asked slowly. “Where’s Opal?”

“She’s gone,” Jordan said. “You and Dr. Meru totally destroyed that evil bitch!”

Brian hung his head. “So, it’s happened again. Once more, I murdered my wife.” Cradling his head in his right hand, he burst into tears.

They stared at him in stunned silence. Only the wind outside and the clock ticking on the wall made any sound. Jordan’s mouth dropped open, her eyes filling with tears. Her hand crept over the table, fingers twining with his. He raised his face, tears creating clean spots in the dirt and blood.


“Nay, lass. Luminous. Brian is no longer here. I can’t feel him.”

“Where is he? Where did he go?”

“Opal took him. Brian dwells with her now.”

Jordan’s eyes grew wide. She clutched Luminous by the shirt, yanking him over to her. “You’d better have a way to get him back!” she yelled. “You bring him back! Bring him back!”

Luminous pulled her close, kissing her passionately. Jordan hit him with her fists, pushing him away.

“Don’t you dare touch me! How could you let her take him?”

Luminous grinned, blue eyes twinkling. He started laughing.

Jordan screamed, shoving at him. “That’s obscene, laughing at me with his voice. Kissing me with his mouth. I want him back!” She hit him again, landing a punch squarely in his gut.

Luminous laughed louder. “Y’all help me before Jordan flat out kills me. Babe, it’s me. It’s really me, I swear. Luminous is gone. They’re both gone.”

“Oh, you bastard!” She reached for the knife rack, intent on grabbing one, but Chase stopped her.

“Please don’t, those are Mama’s favorite knives. She’ll have your hide and mine if you kill Brian with one.”

Brian slid off the table, approaching Jordan warily. He took her hands. “Forgive me. When I first opened my eyes, I could feel him. It took a little bit for me to shake him off. I swear, I’m the one who kissed you. I promise.”

Jordan flung her arms around him, holding him tightly. “Don’t ever tease me like that again! I thought I’d lost you!” Weeping, she clung to him. “How could I get you back if they took you?”

The others drifted into the living room, giving them a few minutes of privacy. Claude checked Meru to be sure he hadn’t been injured. He was tired, but hale and hardy. They talked quietly about everything except what they had just experienced. None of them wanted to relive the horror of the last hour. Brian and Jordan joined them a few minutes later, arms around one another.

“I’m starving,” Brian said. “I’d kill for a feta and pineapple pizza.”

“Pepperoni for me,” Sweet said. “Double meat.”

Talking about pizza orders gave them a good way to bypass the subject they knew they needed to discuss, but were in no frame of mind to do. Still talking about pizza orders, they compiled a list and phoned it in. Chase, Marissa and Dwight volunteered to go pick it up. The others went to Brian’s house, since it was the closest.

Filthy and exhausted, they dropped on the furniture and floor of Brian’s home. His grandmother served beverages, waiting for an explanation.

“It went well?” she asked repeatedly.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 53

the man who wasnt thereDwight attacks the Rider on Brian’s shoulder, and it drops off, only to grow and become Luminous Cayce. He faces off with Opal, who has come out of the tomb. Unfortunately, Jordan gets too close and Opal manages to grab her.

A black bladed knife appeared in her hand. “Take another step, Luminous, and I’ll end her.”

He paused, considering the situation. “As you wish, Opal.” He stepped back.

“Are you f**king kidding?” Brian had revived. “What’s wrong with you?” He advanced on Luminous. “That’s my future wife that your evil dead bride has at knife point. Do something!”

“I am truly sorry,” Luminous said, grasping Brian by the shirt.

Before they could stop him, his spirit slid into Brian’s body. Opal did the same with Jordan and the two faced off. The blue flames reached for the sky, now encircling only them. Chase no longer controlled the flames, they swirled and danced at Jordan’s will. Moving apart, the two circled each other, looking for an opening.

Jordan’s hand shot out. Black goo landed on Brian, burning his skin. He laughingly shook it off. Though it left red welts behind, he didn’t seem to notice them. He hurled ice crystals at her, but she raised a shield of flames. The ice melted and Jordan threw it back, water droplets sharpened into tiny darts. Dirt rose between them and the pin shaped water drops were buried before they reached Brian.

Back and forth, they flung spell after spell, summoning the elements, countering one another. With Opal’s concentration on Brian, the adults shook off her influence. They let go of their children and stared at one another.

“What do we do now?” Harold asked. “This could go on for ten years. They’re equally powerful.”

“No,” Meru said. “She draws power from her resting place. We must destroy the mausoleum.” He raced forward, running to the dark edifice. Summoning earth, he built a mound tall enough to bring him to the top. He pulled something from his pocket and started writing on the roof.

Jordan’s arm halted midswing. The flames she was casting fizzled and dropped to the ground. Earth encompassed her feet, crawling slowly up her legs. She tried to move, but couldn’t. The dirt rose to her shoulders. Opal sprung from her as the dirt closed around Jordan’s throat.

“Brian, NO!” Jackie yelled. She hurled an air bolt at him, knocking him back.

Gasping and coughing, Brian lost his balance. Dropping to his knees, he lost control of the dirt. Following his last command, he covered Jordan. Maribelle sprang forward, water drenched Jordan. Air followed, blowing away the mud. Shivering and choking, Jordan fell to the ground.

Brian scrambled toward her. “Jordan? Babe, I’m here! I’m so sorry.”

“Get the bitch,” she whispered, pointing where Opal had retreated.

The ghost watched the action on top of her mausoleum. Others had joined Meru. He continued sketching, chanting. Teens and adults surrounded the structure. Marissa sang, her voice pure and clear in the chilly night. Andre joined her. They didn’t shape words, only sounds. It was the notes that held importance now. Anyone who could carry a tune, joined them. The air filled with their song.

Opal’s face twisted with fury. Screeching, she rose on a pillar of fire which carried her to the top of the mausoleum. The surface shocked her when she stepped on it, but she shook it off. Taking another step, she screamed, this time in pain. Her feet came to rest on the stone, unable to move. Flaming vines twisted around her legs and torso.

Meru finished his drawing. With a hop, he landed in the middle of it, head to the sky. His voice joined the song, winding power words throughout. Ribbons of color formed in the air. Strands of musical notes, each a different color, wove intricate patterns around him.

The mausoleum shuddered beneath him, but he continued to sing. Opal couldn’t move. The flaming vine held her, but now the multi-colored notes hammered at her, covering her body like splats from a paintball gun. Wherever they hit, a tiny indentation formed. The skin beneath hissed and smoked. The vines tightened. Opal screamed again, fainter this time.

The strands of notes attacked the mausoleum, diving into cracks and chinks in the stone, expanding like ice, they went to work. Tiny cracks grew into larger ones as Meru continued to sing. Brian rushed forward, placing his hands on the wall of the building. The others on the ground, joined him. Concentrating on the colors, he pushed with his mind, driving them in like blows from a hammer. The walls cracked and crumbled under the assault.

“Keep going,” he yelled, scrambling to the top.

Opal was completely covered with colors. The vines burned brighter, scorching her skin, but she fought as hard as ever. Here and there, the colors turned black, the vines faded. The areas grew larger. Soon, one hand burst free, pointing at Meru. He stopped singing, dropping to one knee.

Brian reached Opal, knife in his left hand. Luminous’ ring burned with blue fire. With a swing of his knife, he severed her arm. It fell at their feet, a pile of blackened bones which he crushed beneath his foot.

“I told you not to touch her, you bitch!” He stabbed into the flames, twisting his blade.

Opal roared, black goo gouting from her mouth. It burned where it touched him, but Brian didn’t falter. He stabbed her again, wrenching up before turning the blade again.

Meru regained his feet. Taking his stance once more, he sped up his incantation. This time, multicolored flames shot from his hands, forming bonds around Opal. Brian stabbed her again. When she screamed the flames jumped down her throat. More wrapped around her head, closing her mouth, sealing it.

“Get back!” Meru bellowed.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 52

the man who wasnt thereMarissa manages to get Brian’s seizure to stop. They run outside to find that the other boys have been pinned down by tree roots. Brian frees them and advances into the circle around the mausoleum, yelling a challenge.

Brian stood tall, shoulders back, head raised in defiance. His face held another aspect, more mature, weathered. “You wanted my attention, you’ve got it! Be not mistaken, I do not give my attention lightly and you will not enjoy this. Let it be finished.”

A ghostly figure emerged, becoming more opaque as it rose from the depths. It shimmered and coalesced into a solid form of a woman. Her body was draped in a pale gown that was gathered beneath her breasts. Her belly was covered in blood and it had seeped into the fabric of her gown. Her beautiful face held a deathly pallor. Her masses of dark curls were gathered on top of her head.

“Welcome, my love. Did you miss me?” Her voice dripped insincerity.

“Be gone, you evil witch.”

The woman stepped forward, fingers tracing the line of his jaw, winding in his blond curls.

Brian pulled her hands away, stepping back from her. “I hoped never to see you again.”

“Why, darling, what a way to speak to me after all this time. You can’t tell me you didn’t miss me a little bit.”

“The only thing I missed was having the life sucked from me.”

“Oh, my God,” Jordan gasped. “It’s his wife!”

“Whose wife?” Dwight gasped as he ran up next to her.

“That’s Opal, Luminous Cayce’s wife. The one who died in the battle. The one he said he was forced to kill. That bitch! She’s a witch and she’s after Brian!” Taking a running leap, she soared over the thorns, flattening them as she vaulted over. She landed on the other side, crouched and ready for battle.

“She’ll kill you!” Dwight yelled, following her.

“Like hell!” Jordan ran forward, iron stiletto in her left hand, a silver one in her right. She stopped a foot away from Opal in a fighter’s crouch. “Get away from him, you bitch!”

“Oh, who’s the kitten?” Opal crooned, stroking Brian’s jaw.

“Don’t touch him,” Jordan yelled.

“Darling, you can’t hurt me. Besides, he wants me. Can’t you see?” She gestured languidly to Brian. He stood still, slightly dazed, obviously aroused.

Jordan took a swipe at Opal with her iron knife. A wound opened in the ghostly woman’s arm. She laughed, shaking it off. The line closed, scabbed and fell away like dust.

“What a clever girl you are.” She turned to Brian. “Take care of her, darling.”

Brian advanced, eyes confused, face set and blank. Part of him fought the control Opal exerted, but he wasn’t quite strong enough to do it on his own. He reached for Jordan, big hands grasping. Suddenly, his legs flew out from under him as Dwight tackled him. The other man straddled Brian, fists pounding his right shoulder and above, in the curve of Brian’s neck. Not all the blows landed on Brian, some of them were aimed at what was apparently thin air. However, they connected with something. A dull thump sounded with each blow. It flashed dully with each hit.

Groaning, Brian quit fighting Dwight. “It’s me! Help me up!”

Dwight lifted Brian to his feet.

“Thank you. Now, let’s see about this bitch!”

“First,” Dwight said. “We’ve got a Rider to dislodge.” He held out his hand to Jordan. “Silver.”

Opal had retreated, watching the events unfold. The parents hadn’t moved, but they muttered something. The words made Jordan’s skin crawl. Opal’s smile shifted when Dwight poked the air near Brian’s right ear. The silver stiletto disappeared about an inch.

“Reveal,” Dwight commanded. “If ever we needed you, Rider, it’s now. Reveal yourself!”

Opal backed up another step, arms sweeping behind her, lips snarling. The adults chanted louder, spreading out to encompass the action a few feet away.

“This is your fault!” Dwight yelled. “Come out now, you craven, selfish, coward!” He poked harder, hand reaching toward Jordan.

She was already at his side, silver skewer in hand, she plunged it in beside Dwight’s. Both iron spikes joined the silver.

Brian screamed, staggering. Dwight caught him. Jordan steadied him. His friends ran forward as their parents closed ranks. Each pair grabbed at one of the teens. Chase slid through, placing himself between Jordan and her parents. Shielding her and Brian with his body, he summoned a wall of cold, blue fire. Their parents halted, puzzled by the sizzling cold.

Chase’s hand flew out, casting something in Brian’s direction. With another shriek, Brian went limp. A shimmer of movement on his right shoulder revealed the creature lurking there. It hopped off, limping. One by one, the skewers dropped to the ground, covered in dark blood. The figure grew larger, standing tall as he moved to counter Opal, who had stepped closer to them, despite the fire.

“You again,” he said, his voice a chilling blend of Brian and Miles’ voices.

“Hello, darling,” she crooned. “Happy to see me?”

“Hardly,” was the cool reply.

Opal stepped closer, her voice hypnotic and silky. Jordan was mesmerized by the beautiful woman. Dwight was occupied with Brian. Chase fought with their parents. No one saw Jordan take a step too close to Opal. The mottled arm shot out, grabbing the front of her shirt. She pulled Jordan before her like a shield. The hapless girl stood meekly, just as Brian had done. Whatever influence Opal wielded, it was stronger than all of them.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 51

the man who wasnt thereWanting to get away from the crowd, the Circle members decide to meet up at the mausoleum where their ancestors are buried. Unfortunately, something has happened to the adults. They seem to have been possessed. Instead of going to the cemetery, they head to Chase’s house. Brian and Dwight head to the cemetery, but when Brian has a seizure, Dwight knows they have to join the others.

“Our folks drove us to Chase’s house. Why didn’t Brian answer?”

“He’s in a bad way, Jordan. I’m on my way. Lost at the moment. Where am I? Bloody hell. Help!”

“Where are you?”

“No earthly idea.”

“Dwight’s on the way over,” Jordan said to her . “But he’s lost. I’m shit with directions.” She held out the phone pleadingly.

Chase took the phone and gave Dwight clear and easy to follow directions. Within minutes, he pulled up. Brian’s seizure was still going. By now, he was drooling.

“Did he eat or drink anything?” Jordan asked.

“No, nothing. It started in the cemetery. I figured maybe you’d gotten your wires crossed and come here. I guess you had no choice. What are they doing?”

“No idea. Help me get him in the house,” Jordan commanded.

“Isn’t it locked?”

“Chase is here.”

It took all of them, but they got Brian up the steep steps to the front door. Chase let them in and they carried Brian to the kitchen, laying him on the table.

“Let me look,” Marissa said. “Boys, go keep an eye on our parents. We’ve got this.”

“You sure?”

“Positive. If anything happens, Jordan will kick ass and take names.” She gave Chase a quick kiss.

The boys left. The girls assessed Brian’s condition. The seizure hadn’t stopped. The drool had become foam.

“Someone’s torturing him,” Marissa said. “Think, dammit!” Taking a few deep breaths, she made herself stop shaking. “Okay, symptoms. Foaming at the mouth. Seizing. Arched spine. Can’t check the pupils as the eyes are rolled back.”

“What do we do?”

“Wing it. I’m not sure what this is, but I think it’s magical not chemical. He was careful what he ate and drank. He didn’t have anything at the party, like the rest of us. Okay, improvisation time. Jordan, I need a couple of your spikes, one of each, please. And some of the blessed salt. He should have plenty in his pockets. And holy water. A pot.” She reached above them to the pots that hung over the butcher’s block. Fortunately, the stove was gas and hadn’t been damaged when the grove blew up.

Marissa poured the holy water and a teaspoon of blessed salt with cumin into a pot and set it to boil. Jordan stirred the mixture with her spikes while Marissa searched Dora’s cupboard for Valerian.

“I want it for the seizure. It’s calming. I don’t know if we can get him to drink this, but we’re going to try.”

She added a measure of the herb in the water. It boiled for a minute before she poured some off and blew on it. With a silver spoon, she dipped some out and put it to Brian’s lips. He spit it out, gagging on it, but she gave him more. His seizure increased. Marissa held him as he thrashed, muttering an incantation. The girls helped to hold Brian, but he was bigger and stronger than all of them. Jordan invoked air and held him firmly with invisible bonds.

“Keep holding him. He needs the rest of this.” Little by little, Marissa spooned the salty water into Brian’s mouth. When it was gone, they waited and watched.

With a shiver, he relaxed. His eyes returned to normal and he quit gasping for breath. Jordan approached, touching his face and neck gingerly.

“Are you okay now?”

“What the hell happened? One second, I’m in the cemetery. Now I’m in Chase’s kitchen?”

They explained as he tried to stand. Wobbly and weak in the knees, he was determined to get outside.

“There’s no telling what’s going on.”

“How do you think this happened? They didn’t eat or drink anything. We were all really careful.”

“Someone very powerful,” Brian said. “If they got to me, they can get to our folks.”

“Why not us?” Marissa asked.

“Because we’re not considered as big a threat,” Jordan said. “For once I’m glad of their narrow minded chauvinism. It gives us an edge.”

They ran outside. Marissa screamed. The boys were all face down on the ground, pinned by tree roots. She tried to run forward, but Jordan and Louisa caught her.

“My turn,” Brian growled. Stepping forward, he entered the circle and strode purposefully toward their parents.

Tree roots jumped up, trying to snare him, but he tied them in knots with a swipe of his hand. Another flick of his fingers and his friends were released. They rose to their knees, the roots receding rapidly. The girls ran forward to stand by their future mates. Jordan tried to follow Brian, but a wall of thorns sprang up, blocking her path. She didn’t know if it was from the Evil, or if Brian had done it to protect her. Either way, she didn’t fight it, but retreated slightly.

“I’m here,” Brian bellowed.

The air in front of him shimmered and glowed. Like water cascading over stones, the walls of the mausoleum appeared. Where the other was white marble, this one was black. The vines covering it were vivid red with putrid green leaves. The ground around it shifted and the doors swung inward.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 50

the man who wasnt thereThey spot a strange looking couple at the ball. There are several more strangers, already circulating. The people there seem to be under a spell, and they discover that the punch is tainted. Brian realizes that the band members aren’t who they seem to be either. He gives the leader a five dollar bill full of blessed salt, and isn’t surprised when the fellow overreacts to its touch.

“No, sir. Sure won’t.” Brian walked away and the band started playing.

“What was all that?” Chase said, watching the band leader.

“Had a feeling about something. I gave him some salt. He didn’t much like it, but he didn’t act like a demon either.”

“We’ll keep an eye.”

Brian’s discomfort increased. Though he dribbled salt around the dance floor and rubbed it on people as he passed, he could tell it wasn’t having a lot of effect. He signaled the others to regroup. They met in the middle of the dance floor. He hadn’t seen the strangers for several minutes and that had him somewhat concerned, because he wasn’t sure they were really gone.

“I think we need to get out of here,” he said. “Maybe divert them away from here. Too many potential hostages.”

“Where to?”

“I have an idea about that. Let’s meet up at the family crypt.”

“In the cemetery? In these shoes?” Jordan said. “No worries, actually. I have better ones in the car.”

They left in a hurry, heading to their cars. Brian and Dwight stayed behind for a few minutes, making sure that the strangers knew they were leaving. Even if he didn’t see them, he knew they were still around. Brian wanted their exodus noticed. If these people had a mind to slaughter innocents, he wanted to get them as far away as possible. He and Dwight made a big show of leaving, with luck, drawing the attention of the creepy couples. They could feel half a dozen pairs of eyes on them as they walked out.

“You sure about this, my friend?” Dwight asked.

“Not at all. Got a better idea?”

“No. But I want it on record that I don’t like it.”

“Neither do I, but it seems the logical place to go. They’d love it if we went to the bad crypt. I’m not willing to endanger us that much.”

They drove into the empty, silent cemetery, heading down a narrow gravel track to the vault. When they arrived, they looked around for the others.

“They should have been here by now,” Dwight said.

“Did you see them in the parking lot?”

“No, their cars were gone. I have a really bad feeling about this.”

Brian did too. His hackles rose and his ancestor’s ring burned cold on his left hand. He could see the stones glowing. Reaching into his shirt, he pulled out his amulet. These stones glowed too. They pulsed in time with his heartbeat.

“Call Jordan,” Brian gasped, handing Dwight his phone.

“You okay, mate?”

Brian couldn’t answer. His head slammed against the headrest, his chest arched and his eyes rolled back in his head. The ground rumbled. Tombstones jittered and danced, uprooting and toppling over. The ground roiled as Brian continued to shake.

Dwight made the call, but got voicemail. Horrified, he opened the doors and pulled Brian’s stiff body across the center console and into the passenger seat. He couldn’t do anything about the apparent seizure, but he could get them away from the mausoleum. He had a feeling he knew where the others were. With a few false starts, he got his bearings in the unfamiliar town and headed to Chase’s house.

Jordan walked out of the community center and headed to her father’s car. Her clothing and shoes were in the back. She changed quickly, watching her friends do the same. Brian and Dwight still hadn’t come out and it had been at least five minutes.

“Time to head out,” Miles said.

They got in the cars with the adults driving. When they came to the main thoroughfare of town, instead of turning right to go to the cemetery, all the drivers turned left.

“Dad, what’s up?” Jordan asked.

He didn’t respond. Instead, he sped up, flying down the narrow highway at 90.

“Dad? Speak to me!”

He said nothing. Her mother was equally unresponsive. Diving into her bag, Jordan pulled out her phone. Her father’s hand shot out, grabbing it. He hurled it out the window before Jordan had a chance to react. Moments later, they pulled up at Chase’s house. The others joined them a few seconds later.

The adults got out of the car and went to stand in a circle around the far end of the clearing. By the paint on the ground, the teenagers knew that was where the mausoleum stood.

“Can we call someone?” Jordan asked.

“Dad took my phone,” Marissa said. “And Mom took Chase’s.”

“Dad threw mine out the window,” Jordan added.

A short consultation revealed that they’d either left their phones at home or had them taken away. Jordan assessed the situation and ran to her father’s car. The door wasn’t locked and she quickly pulled it open. As she’d hoped, her father’s phone sat in the hands free dash attachment. Snatching it up, she dialed Brian. It rang and went to voice mail. She called back. The third time she called, she got an answer. It wasn’t Brian.

“Dwight here. Problems all round. Where are you?”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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