This is the thirteenth and final part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
The following evening, all the residents of the cemetery gathered on the outskirts of the Wee Woods to celebrate Samhain. The atmosphere was charged with expectation and hope. Hope of seeing loved ones again. Hope of being remembered by those still living.
Damon sat quietly off to the side, a cup of hot chocolate in his hands. Samhain was a difficult time for him. Naturally, he marked the occasion as a time remember those he had lost, especially his parents, who had never really understood him after he had been turned into a demon. Yet, unlike the other hopeful dead and undead of the crowd before him, he harboured no illusions that he would be receiving visitors when the veil thinned. He hadn’t yet.
And so he sat at the edge of the world of the living and looked across the Veil and into the world of the dead. The latter was a place forbidden to him until the day he shed his demon nature. Yet he had spent such a long time in the former, he was reluctant to let it go, as his time at the mercy of Artemon had shown him.
As the Veil thinned, the crowd dutifully whispered their ohs and ahs and sighed in anticipation, and then…the Veil was down and the spirits began to cross. Names were called out. Shouts of joy heralded happy reunions. Shouts less joyful indicated where past disagreements were picked back up, yet it couldn’t stop the smile from slowly spreading across Damon’s face. Even in crossed words there was a rekindling of connection. After all, life and death rarely went smoothly all the time.
Damon transferred his attention from the crowd to what lay beyond the Veil itself. A world of majesty and wonder, a world of growing things. He could see mountains and rivers, and hills and valleys, and oceans and meadows, and waterfalls and sandy deserts, and glaciers and forests, and flowers and islands, and so much more. The magic of Veil offered those who looked across it a vision of spectacular beauty, unspoilt by man. Our world as it should have been.
‘One day I’ll get there,’ he whispered to himself. ‘One day…’ Then he stood up, draining the last of his hot chocolate. ‘But for now, my cemetery needs me.’
And with that said, he went off to start patrolling this park of the dead and undead, and some times the living. In search of trouble. In search of anyone who required his assistance. In search of another hot chocolate.
This is the twelfth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
The roof was falling in. Candles were falling over. And Damon, stunned by another bang to the head, this time the result of flying through the air and been thrown against a pillar, couldn’t make sense of what was going on.
Someone was screaming. He couldn’t tell who.
Flashes of fur seemed to be darting all around the room.
Were they connected? He had no idea.
It only took a few seconds for his vision to clear, but it felt much longer. He looked around and realised the door to the mausoleum had been blown in. Standing in the doorway, with a crossbow in her bony hands was Shelly the Skelly. Damon rubbed his eyes, believing what he was seeing must have been as a result of a concussion, but she was still there when he looked again.
Tabitha was just inside the room, wielding a slingshot, which she was employing with deadly accuracy. Magic balls of…something, Damon didn’t know what, were hurtling across the room, and whoever they hit disappeared in a puff of green and purple smoke. She paused in her slaughter momentarily to offer him a thumbs up, before she diligently returned to her task.
Yet the most surprising thing of all was happening towards the rear of the room, where a giant squirrel was holding Crispin in one of its paws and shaking him until he turned green.
A movement close to the altar alerted him to the cowardly, cowering presence of Artemon, who was doing his best to hide behind it. Damon stood up and walked over to him.
‘Doesn’t look like you’re too fond of surprises either, does it?’ he commented. ‘Now what are we going to do with you?’
‘Well, naturally nothing awful,’ Artemon whimpered. ‘After all, those on the side of good never harm their enemies. Instead they try to show them the error of their ways so they may relinquish the evil in their hearts and never again commit a foul deed.’
‘Nah, that doesn’t sound right to me,’ Damon said. ‘You were going to sacrifice me, so forgive me if I think the punishment needs to be closer in kind.’
‘Damon the Demon, stop what you are about to do, ‘ a voice boomed around the ruins of the building. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked around, trying to locate from where it was coming from.
Using the distraction, Artemon began crawling away, but the voice sounded again. ‘Artemon the faithless. You cannot leave this place with a debt owing.’
Only then did Damon realise it was the book talking, and so he directed everyone’s attention to altar.
Wisps of ether curled out from the pages of the book until they took on the form of a spirit, though it remained hazy and indistinct. ‘Artemon’s life is mine now. Do you remember what the punishment for failure was, Artemon?’
‘Fail and you lose everything,’ Damon recalled for him.
‘Shush!’ Artemon hissed angrily.
‘He’s not asking you because he’s forgotten, silly.’
‘Artemon of the Black River, you have gambled, and you have lost.’ The spirit of the book broke apart into dozens of curling fingers of mist, and though Artemon tried his best to run away, they caught him quickly, dragging him kicking and screaming into the pages of the book. Only then did the mist reform into the shape of a spirit once more. ‘You are a good person, Damon the Demon, with a kind heart. For you to have enacted vengeance upon so worthless a specimen as Artemon, would have been disastrous for this cemetery and those under your care. I could not let that happen.
‘Now what to do with him,’ the book spirit said, indicating Crispin. ‘Ah, I know. Great Squirrel, bring him hither. Now be gone from this place and never think to return!’ The spirit transformed into the curling misty fingers and took hold of Crispin from the squirrel and threw him out through the broken door and out into the night. ‘Be gone!’ it shouted one last time. ‘And now it is time for me also to leave here. Damon, you are now the keeper and guardian of my book. Goodbye.’
‘No! Please! I don’t want to be the keeper…’ Damon bemoaned, but it was too late. The mist had dispersed and the spirit had returned to the book, which had closed shut, sealing itself from the world. ‘At least the eye’s gone,’ he muttered. However, he wasn’t keen on handling the hairy thing.
Two arms, one fleshy, the other bony, were then draped over his shoulders.
‘Girls,’ he said, ‘you saved me. What would I have done without you?’
‘Thank Shelly,’ Tabitha said. ‘She thought there was something odd about Crispin and came to tell me. But then we couldn’t find you anywhere.’
‘And then this furry darling said he could help,’ Shelly chirped in. ‘Being made much bigger has given him an increased sense of smell and he managed to track you to here. The rest, as they say, is history.’
‘Well, I’m just grateful you arrived when you did. That reminds me, did anyone find out where that scream came from?’
‘The Undead Amateur Dramatics Society. They were rehearsing for their latest play, And They All Were Killed Horribly.’
‘Oh,’ Damon said, a little disappointed with the answer. ‘Come on. I think it’s time to go home.’
He started walking towards the door when Shelly, who hadn’t moved, said, ‘Umm…aren’t you forgetting something, Damon?’
He turned back around to find her staring at the book. He sighed but returned to collect it, only to find a letter addressed to him was sitting on top of it.
‘To Damon the Demon, Keeper of the Book of Secret Spells, Guard me with your life, such as it is. Protect me, and thus the world from those who would wreak havoc and harm. I suspect you’re more adept at this sort of thing than you let on. Otherwise, were all going to be in a lot of trouble. Supernaturally yours, The Spirit of the Spell Book.
‘It’s so unfair. All I ever wanted was a quiet life,’ he bemoaned as they exited the ruined temple and headed towards home.
Apologies to those who have been waiting for the final parts of this story. I managed to get them written by the end of last week, but I had no time to post them, or read everyone else’s responses to the prompts, or respond to comments. Sigh. I will catch up this week, but for today, I will share Part 11, 12 & 13. Then it’s time to make a start on my NaNo goal 🙂
This is the eleventh part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
‘Crispin, will you do the honours?’
It was over before Damon had a chance to protest, let alone react to what was about to happen. A small ceremonial dagger cut the top of Damon’s arm. Then the knife was handed over to the Master.
‘And so it begins,’ he said, holding the knife above the book. Damon watched entranced as the tiny amount of blood on the blade trickled ever so slowly downwards. Then it gathered in volume until one large drop spilled from it and splashed upon the dark fur.
An eye appeared on the cover of the book. Damon screamed because it was quiet horrible.
‘Who thinks himself fortified with such wisdom as to dare trouble me?’ The words seemed to emanate from within the book itself.
‘I do, Artemon of the Black River.’
‘And you think yourself worthy?’
‘I know I am.’
‘Then let us find out.’ A clasp appeared on the side of the book, which opened itself. Then the cover lifted and pages began to turn quickly as if stirred by a gale.
‘Destiny picks the ritual that will prove your worth,’ the book proclaimed. ‘If it ends without your destruction, you will have all that you seek. Fail and you lose everything.’
‘I hardly think so, but I do not exist to remind you of your stupidity. Only to bring into effect what this book decrees.’
Damon saw the man he now knew as Artemon blanch in the candlelight. Had he believed the consequences of failure might be less fatal than the book suggested? Still, he could not back out now.
Suddenly the grimoire fell still. Artemon leaned closer to see what ritual the book insist he performed. ‘The Spell of the Well of Unending Riches,’ Artemon read aloud. ‘Deep inside the Forest of Knowledge, at the source of The River of Understanding, there lies the Well of Unending Riches, where the wise may go and draw power and wealth without limit…Yes, I have heard of such a place and long have I desired to take my rewards from its waters…Yet in order to receive both in such vastness as only the Well may grant, something of great value, of equal value, must be given in return…Surely nothing can equal such a gift,’ he mused, looking up from the book and scratching his chin, before he continued reading. ‘Work the rite on the night before the Samhain Veil falls…yes, yes, that is tonight…And have with you a worthy sacrifice, a sacrifice you have chosen.’ His head snapped up and his eyes, burning red and gold with the reflected light of the candles, locked on to Damon.
Artemon’s arm stretched out towards Damon. ‘Crispin! Bring him to me.’
Damon stepped backwards, only recalling that they was a ring of candles behind him, just in time to pause.
‘Damon, don’t you think it’s a little late in proceedings to decide that you don’t wish to be part of tonight’s main event?’ Crispin asked, stepping towards his brother.
‘I don’t remember ever saying that I wanted to be here, brother. Now, if you would kindly point me in the direction of the exit, I’ll make my own way out.’
Crispin lunged at Damon. Damon sidestepped him and leapt over the candles and into the clear space beyond. Just when he thought he had a moment to get his bearings and make a plan, a creature the likes of which he had never seen before, came bounding out of the shadows towards him. This time he wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way, and together they fell to the floor, scuffling.
‘Don’t harm him, my pet,’ Artemon called out above the din. ‘I need him alive.
Sharp teeth snapped inches from Damon’s face. He aimed a punch at it’s nose, but the thing didn’t seem to register it. As it sat on the demon, Damon could tell the creature was all muscle for it was heavy as hell and crushing the breath from him.
Stars started to swim before his eyes. He could feel his strength leaving him. Then, just as he thought he was about to breath his last, Crispin was standing over them.
‘Leave! Drop!’ he shouted at the creature, as if it was some sort of dog, but to no avail. In the end Crispin had to haul the beast off him, flinging him back to the shadows from where it had come.
Then it was Damon’s turn to be hauled, this time back on to his feet. ‘Now that’s enough silliness for tonight. Promise you’ll be good?’
Damon made no answer. He was breathing heavy and could barely hold himself upright.
‘Is he undamaged?’ Artemon called.
‘He’ll do. Go on,’ he said, pushing Damon back towards the circle of candles. Yet neither he nor Crispin, ever reached it.
There was an explosion of stone, flashes of light, rumbles of thunder and the screaming of banshees. Something else had been unleashed in the cemetery that night. Something none of them ever expected.
This is the tenth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
There was nothing for Damon to do but sit and wait and to see what happened. To see if the chance arose in which he could attempt an escape. It was clear from what the diminutive, sharp-toothed fellow had said he wouldn’t be coming out of this alive. And, to make matters worse, no-one knew where he was.
Looking about him, he could tell he was in one of the rooms beneath the fake mausoleum. And, to confirm his suspicions, as if after all he had heard and witnessed wasn’t proof enough, there was a newness to his prison that you just simply didn’t find with ancient tombs. There was no dust on the floor. No cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. The smell of damp and decay was missing too. The stone floor wasn’t cold from the earth beneath it, and the one wall Damon could touch, the one he was now leaning against, did not run with damp.
The sunbeams strengthened as the day wore on. Then they faded as noon turned to afternoon, and then afternoon to evening. When the sunlight had been exchanged for the softer silver of moon and stars, noise from the other side of the door grabbed his attention. He stood up.
It was Crispin. ‘Come along, dear brother. Your presence is required. And don’t try anything silly. I don’t think you would enjoy another bash over the head, given you’re having a bit of trouble with healing, so I hear.’
‘You really are detestable,’ Damon said with contempt.
‘Spare me the lecture.’
‘As if I would bother wasting my last breath on you.’
Damon was in fact pleased to be leaving his small cell. The only way he had any hope of getting out of this was to play along until things turned in his favour. And he held on to that thought like it was a life preserver, because if he let it go, there would be no question of the outcome. He would be as dead as a dodo.
Surprisingly, Crispin led Damon up a set of stone steps, which led into the ground level room of the imitation sepulchre. The room was in darkness except for the dozens of candles which were lit around the room. Yet they seemed negligible against the blackness. Shadows rose up around the room. The corners were pitch. If was there was anything hiding in them, Damon would not have known.
In the centre of the room was a stone altar. On the flat top sat a closed book; beneath on a second marble bed and surrounded on three sides by carved pillars, was the prostrate figure of the small, ancient creature who appeared to be master of these proceedings. Around this altar, at a distance of perhaps a metre and a half, was a circle of candles.
‘Master, it is time to wake,’ Crispin said. His voice was quiet but it echoed around the chamber.
Slowly the figure rose and announced, ‘It is time. Bring our…guest.’
Damon was led to the altar, but not before he had to carefully step over the barrier of burning candles. On the other side of the stone platform waited the little man who reverently laid his hand upon the book.
Now that Damon was closer he could see that the book was no ordinary book, for there was no cover to it as such. You could not simply lift the cover and turn the pages, the latter being also concealed somehow. And, the tome appeared to be covered in a thick, dense, dark fur.
‘I have waited a very long time to see what secrets lie within,’ the man Crispin had called Master said. ‘And now, my wait is over.’
‘If you don’t know what’s in it, how do you know you want to open it?’ Damon asked, looking aghast at the horrid item.
‘Be quiet or I shall silence you, demon. Now, to unlock the grimoire we need one drop of our sacrifice’s blood.’
Damon felt all eyes turn to him, and knew something very bad was about to happen.
This is the ninth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
A swift and sudden crack to the back of Damon’s head removed any possibility of argument, contradiction or recrimination. His world went dark to the sound of Crispin commenting,
‘He always was easy to manipulate. By me, at any rate, if no one else.’
‘You did well,’ the thin, raspy voice said.
Then Damon heard no more…
It was daylight when he regained consciousness. Hazy shafts of golden light broke through cracks in the ceiling, highlighting dust motes as they swirled through the air in a downward direction.
As Damon righted himself and sat up, there wasn’t any doubt he was very angry with himself. He should have known. Crispin could never be trusted. And did he not protest too much at approaching the mausoleum?
Shouldn’t we be running as fast as we can in the opposite direction? Hadn’t those been his very words?
It’s not even if Damon had fallen for one of his tricks. He had simply not been paying Crispin enough attention. His inner and outward focus had been on the mausoleum, not on his brother.
His head hurt terribly. Gingerly he rubbed the point of impact. It wasn’t suppose to hurt so. One of the upsides to being a demon was a faster-than-human rate of healing, yet something seemed to be impeding it.
‘I’m so sorry about all of this,’ the same thin, raspy voice said who had been speaking to Crispin.
Slowly Damon turned to look in the shadowy corner and out stepped a small, stooped figure. It was only when they crossed into the light of a sunbeam did he realise his size and bent frame was through age. The little man must have been five hundred years old, if he was a day.
‘I don’t really think you’re sorry at all.’
‘Oh I am, only not enough to stop what we’ve set in motion.’
‘Ah, that would be telling.’
‘I don’t like surprises.’
‘I don’t care.’ His old wizened face broke out into a wicked smile, showing Damon a mouth full of small, sharp, pointed teeth.
‘Who are you?’
‘Damon, I think you will understand if I decline to reveal myself to you at this time.’
‘Names have power.’
‘Indeed they do. I know yours. I am not foolish enough to let you know mine.’
Damon stood. The world was a little unsteady beneath his feet, but he worked to keep his balance. The only problem was that no matter the direction he attempted to advance in, he could not move more than three steps without hitting an invisible barrier.
‘I see you’ve found my insurance policy.’ The old man chuckled quietly. ‘You see, Damon, we’ve been planning this for a very long time. No short cuts and meticulous preparations will see that I gain all I want on Samhain.’
‘Wait for the surprise you don’t want,’ he suddenly snapped, his thin, wheezing words replaced with a venomous snarl. Then, his voice returning to the softer, weaker timbre, as if his short outburst had cost him a lot in terms of energy and effort, ‘The Devil’s in the detail. Isn’t that what they? I can promise you, ever detail has been precisely determined.’
Damon felt a chill tickle the hairs on the back of his neck. Then he watched helplessly as the old fellow shuffled away, back into the shadows. However, before he had gone he said, ‘I would tell you to get some sleep, but soon you’ll have plenty of time for that.’
A little more shuffling, then a very heavy door banged closed and Damon was left alone to ponder his predicament.
This is the eighth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.
‘Where did that come from?’ Damon asked no-one in particular as they crested the hill they had been climbing. On the other side, the cemetery plateaued, the ground only ever-so-slightly undulating.
The clouds above had parted, and the moon’s silver light cascaded down in wide illuminating beams. One of these moonbeams landed squarely on a building in the middle of Damon’s field of vision. A building he had never seen before. A bone house in the style of a Greek temple.
‘That wasn’t there last night,’ he commented.
‘Looks like it’s Victorian, Damon. Therefore, I would guess it’s been there a while.’
Damon turned narrowed eyes upon his brother. He did not appreciate his sarcastic tone. ‘I know how old it looks but it wasn’t there last night. It’s never been there before.’
‘Right, right. Bone houses just sprout willy-nilly out of the ground.’
Damon ignored Crispin’s quip. This was just another strange thing in a long line of strange things, that alone would probably not have bothered him so. Yet, when all these events combined, the implications would have stopped Damon’s heart if it was still beating.
He had been told stories of gravestones and burials that materialised out of thin air, and none of them heralded anything good and they all ended badly. From what he had learnt, they were used to cover portals, the idea being they were hidden in plain sight. And though this didn’t bode well, it wasn’t something he could turn his back on.
He took a deep breath in and squared his shoulders. Then he started to head in the direction of the marble structure.
‘Er…where are you going?’
Damon pointed at the mock Greek temple. ‘There. It’s a portal. It has to be.’
‘Shouldn’t we be running as fast as we can in the opposite direction, then?’
‘You can if you want.’
‘And leave you alone to deal with it? Wouldn’t be really fair now, would it.’
‘It didn’t stop you in Venice when I was being chased by that angry mob.’
‘You’re not still harping on about that are you? Shouldn’t you have forgiven me by now? Shouldn’t you have forgotten it?’
‘Crispin. Be quiet or go away.’
They reached the impressive building and the brothers climbed the slippery steps, covered with fallen autumn leaves. Damon pushed at the stout wooden doors but they did not budge. So he was left with no option but to announce his presence. He balled his hand into a fist and rapped his knuckles against the dark timber.
The sound echoed through the quiet night. Not even the sound of the Witches Brew concert reached them where they stood.
Then suddenly, the sound of movement could be heard on the other side of the door.
‘Who’s there?’ a thin, raspy voice asked. ‘Is that you, Crispin? Have you returned?’
Damon slowly turned to face his brother.
Crispin was casually leaning against a stone pillar, checking his fingernails for dirt. ‘I would say I’m sorry, brother, but that would be lying. I know how much you hate lies.’
This is the seventh part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.
‘So what you been doing for two hundred and fifty years?’ Damon asked his brother.
Crispin shrugged. ‘You know…stuff.’
‘What sort of stuff?’
‘You know,’ Crispin repeated. ‘Same old, same old.’
Damon was about to sigh, when he realised he wasn’t particularly interested in hearing what Crispin had spent the last two and half centuries doing. No doubt it was nefarious. No doubt some of it at least, was criminal.
They fell once more into silence, though it could hardly be described as companionable. Yet it wasn’t too long before the sound of rattling could be heard somewhere amongst the gravestone to their right.
Damon halted and peered into the gloom and a moment later the cause of the noise became apparent. ‘Oh no,’ Damon whispered.
‘Oh Damon, darling!’ a call went up.
‘Oh no,’ he whispered again. They had been spotted.
Damon stayed on the path and groaned audibly as a bright, white skeleton dressed up to the nines, wobbled unsteadily towards them. The skeleton was wearing a wig of long, flowing blond hair and a long, bone-hugging dress in blood red. Around her neck vertebrae was a feather boa and on top of her head, a top hat, positioned precariously atop the wig, at what could only be described as a jaunty angle.
‘How is my favourite demon?’ she cooed, before realising her favourite demon was not alone. ‘And who is your handsome friend? Won’t you introduce us?’ She offered Crispin what she hoped was an alluring smile but it was nothing short of sinister.
Crispin, who had seen a lot of the world of the living and the dead, instinctively took a step backwards.
‘Crispin, this is Shelly the Skelly. Shelly, this is my brother, Crispin.’
‘Your brother! Oh how divine!’ she crooned. ‘How very nice to meet you,’ she said, offering Crispin a hand encased in a black glove that reached up to the elbow.
Crispin declined to shake it, kiss it, hold it, look at it, and Damon suppressed a chuckled. Crispin it seemed, was a little frightened of Shelly.
‘Umm…don’t we have a thing…’ he mumbled, turning to Damon. ‘Better go and see what it was, eh? Can’t have people screaming without good cause, even if we are in a cemetery. We better be off,’ he directed at Shelly, taking another step away from her.
‘But you can’t go yet! We’ve only just met! And Damon, you haven’t even commented on my dress!’ She turned around, before looking over her shoulder at the brothers. Then, with a hand on her hipbone, she asked, ‘Do my bones look big in this? It’s my outfit for the Halloween party at the college down the road. I thought I’d have a bit of fun with them.’ She would have winked if she could, but she couldn’t. All she managed to do was dislocate one side of her jaw in the attempt.
‘You look lovely as always, Shell. The colour really suits you. I’m sure you’ll knock ’em dead.’
And with that, he waved and then continued on his way. Crispin ran on ahead.
This is the sixth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.
‘Now, now. There’s no need to be like that.’
‘You’re not supposed to be here,’ Damon reiterated.
‘And yet here I am.’
Silence engulfed them. It had been a long time since Damon had last seen Crispin. 1797, he thought. Crossed words and then nothing for centuries. To be honest, he would have preferred it if things had stayed that way.
Damon had found himself a demon purely by accident. Crispin on the other hand, liking the sound of living forever, or at least if not that long, longer than humans usually lived, had sought out a way of lengthening his allotted time himself. And things had gone downhill from there…for the both of them.
Finally, Damon asked, ‘What are you doing here?’
‘My girlfriend got some tickets to a gig she was just dying to see.’
‘And you thought you would pop by the cemetery afterwards?’
‘No. The music concert is down there. Witches Brew will be playing in a bit.’
Suddenly the bright lights made sense. Witches Brew were a motley band of undead musicians who liked to blend the old with the new. The old being medieval love ballads and the new, disco balls. They also had a habit of turning up at places unannounced. Damon was not a fan.
‘Nobody told me. They haven’t a permit.’ Damon was about to say more, a lot more, when the second scream of the night interrupted his thoughts. He was needed elsewhere.
Damon started to walk back the way he had come, completely ignoring his brother. A moment later and Crispin was walking alongside him.
‘Where are you going?’
‘To do my job.’
‘Can I come?’
Damon gave Crispin a sly look. Why was he trying to be so friendly after all this time? ‘I thought you came here with a girlfriend?’
‘I did but I don’t want to listen to that rubbish. I’ve heard it a thousand times and those dreary songs never get any better. So what are we going to do?’
‘Find out what that scream was.’
‘Really? You hear screams in a cemetery all the time. What’s the point?’
Damon sighed. Why was it no-one really understood the intricacies of his job? ‘Something untoward might be happening.’
‘And it’s not right.’
‘But we’re in a cemetery, Damon. If you can’t scream – or make someone else scream – in a cemetery, where can you?’
‘Honestly, Crispin. You’ve not changed at all. Your understanding of right and wrong is as muddled as it’s always been.’
This is the fifth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.
Damon left the tent to the accompaniment of Tabitha’s protestations at being booked. But before he went, he offered her a word of warning: if her remedy failed to return the squirrel to its pre-spell proportions, she would be seeing another yellow card. And that meant banishment from the cemetery over Samhain.
Damon didn’t like to be stern, but he knew he had to be. In his position, any sign of weakness would be exploited, and if the wrong elements gained an upper hand, the cemetery would become an even more dangerous place than it was already. It was his job to keep the living and the dead safe, though most days and nights it was a thankless task.
As he continued on his way, a blast of autumn chill billowed around headstones and trees without warning, buffeting the demon. Instinctively, Damon pulled his poncho closer about him. Yet this cold breeze had brought with it more than icy air. A shiver ran up his spine. It was as if someone had walked over his mausoleum. Perhaps they had.
Things were noticeably different in the cemetery that night. There was trouble on the cards, he could sense it.
Picking up his pace, he descended into The Hollow, an area of the grounds located at the bottom of several gently sloping hills. And that’s where he saw them: bright lights of all colours, shining from out of the darkness.
‘I wouldn’t go down there if I were you. Not sure you would be welcome.’ A figure stepped out from behind a big Celtic cross. ‘Hello, Damon. Long time, no see.’
Damon stared into the once familiar face of his brother. Time had changed him, but then it would have. He had been dead for quite some time before being resurrected. ‘Hello, Crispin. You’re not supposed to be here.’
This is the fourth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.
Tabitha led the way to her tent. She didn’t actually live at the cemetery like the majority of the residents, but then she was neither dead nor undead, but very much a live. However, she did spend a lot of time here, and if there was over-night work for her to attempt, she usually pitched her tent in one of the clearing near the woods.
‘Tea? Coffee?’ she asked over her shoulder as she unzipped the door and then cast her bag of knitting to one side.
‘I’m not here for beverages, Tabby. You promised me an explanation.’
She huffed. ‘Fair enough. But I’m in dire need of tea.’ She set the kettle on the little gas stove. Only once her drink was made did she begin her tale.
‘Samhain approaches. As you know, at this time of year, every year, I treat myself to a new spell working to add to my spell book. This latest one I found on the internet.’
Damon groaned. ‘What? You know you can’t trust anything you find on there!’
Tabitha shushed him. ‘Everything was going well…I cast my circle and called the elements and my spirits of protection…I added all the spell ingredients into my cauldron and then said the magic words…’
‘So how did it go wrong?’
‘Who says it went wrong?’
‘There is a squirrel the size of a woolly mammoth two hundred yards from where we are standing.’
‘I know that, Damon. What I meant was, perhaps the spell was simply mislabelled. Anyhoo, the furry fellow we just met wasn’t so big before the spell-casting. He was just an average sized, run-of-the-mill squirrel.’
‘So how did he get so big?’
Tabitha coughed. ‘I…er…accidentally…stole one of his acorns and he wanted it back. You see, I needed one for the spell and when I wasn’t looking he jumped into the cauldron and whoosh.’ Her arms went flying outwards to mimic the squirrel’s expansion. ‘The pesky creature broke my cauldron. It was a family heirloom.’
‘So how are you going to fix this?’
‘Do not worry, my friend. The remedy is in hand. I’ve been baking.’
‘Soul cakes. My own recipe. Ground acorns, I think the squirrel with love them. All I need to do is wait until midnight and get a witch’s dozen of spirits to sprinkle a little soul dust on them and we’re good to go.’
Damon pulled a face. ‘That’s not what a soul cake is, Tabitha. They’re a tasty, baked, part biscuit, part cake thing, with currants made into a cross shape.’
‘You and I must work from different recipe books. Now, if all you’re going to do is tell me how to do my job – notice, I’ve never told you how to do yours – you might as well go and see what that scream was all about.’
The scream had all but been forgotten by Damon. From the back pocket of his jeans, he pulled out a little notebook, that looked awfully like the ones carried by football referees.
‘Oh, Damon, no!’ Tabitha protested. ‘You can’t book me. I’ve never been yellow carded in my life!’
‘Oh I can, and I will, and I think we can all agree, you deserve it, Tabitha,’ he said, scribbling down a few notes, before he pulled out a yellow card and showed it to her.