Posts Tagged ‘Aftershocks’

Aftershocks: Dark Carnival Pt. 4

October 24, 2020

Frustrated laughter rang out over the public address system. “You know what? I shouldn’t have left all of this to my idiot friends,” Killjoy said. “I’m motherfucking Killjoy. Time to get my hands dirty.” A spotlight went on and a twisted-looking clown jumped down from somewhere and landed hard on his feet. He was carrying a huge hammer which grew as he flexed it. He chuckled.

“Finally,” Lydia said. “We were getting tired of your voice.”

“Ha ha,” Killjoy said with a withering glare. “You’re so funny. I’m gonna have so much fun squashing your skull, killing a couple dozen people, and then dragging little Nancy back to Hell with me.”

“We keep hearing that same line,” Nancy said. “You’re not getting an opening night and my dad is going to be disappointed again. I hope he punishes you.”

“Big words,” Killjoy said. “It’s hammer time!” He raised the hammer high and brought it down and it shook the Earth beneath their feet. The three struggled to keep their footing as Killjoy lunged forward. He suddenly disappeared midstep. He reappeared behind them and Rob fired his shotgun into the clown point blank. Killjoy shrugged off the blow and laughed. He seemed to concentrate and his cheeks slowly filled with something.

“Run!” Lydia said and the three scrambled for cover.

Killjoy started to spray shotgun shot from his mouth, the pellets slamming into everything in the immediate area. Everybody had managed to find cover and barely avoided being maimed by their own ordinance. Killjoy laughed again and stalked toward them with his hammer. He swiped the hammer and smashed apart the cart that Lydia was hiding behind.

“Time to make some goth juice,” Killjoy said with a chuckle. “You know who is going to be so jealous.” He raised the hammer.

“Hey Killjoy?” Lydia said with a smile.

“What?” Killjoy asked, frustrated.

“Ice to meet you,” she said with a gesture.

Ice quickly formed under Killjoy’s feet and he started to slip and slide uncontrollably, finding it hard to keep his balance but not falling.

“That was terrible!” Killjoy said. “Leave the jokes to me, kid.”

The ice spread out in a line. Rob ran at Killjoy and shoved him as hard as he could, making the clown slide along the ice. Killjoy picked up speed and slammed right into Nancy’s outstretched claws. She was grinning happily. He was instantly impaled but did not die. Instead he started to squirm and try to get himself free. Just as Nancy withdrew her claws, Rob hit the back of Killjoy’s right knee and sent the clown sprawling to the ground.

“You’re the joke,” Rob said. ” and nobody’s laughing.”

As Killjoy writhed on the ground, Nancy grabbed up Killjoy’s hammer and held it out to Rob with a smile. Rob nodded and took it and raised it over his head. His invisible angel wings flashed into existence for a moment and then he brought the hammer down with a vengeance on Killjoy’s head. Nancy actually laughed and jumped up onto the hammer, driving it harder into the clown who vanished in a burst of confetti and hellfire.

The tent started to fall apart around them without Killjoy to hold it all together. The three of them ran toward the exit in a sprint and were left catching their breath in an empty parking lot.

“See?” Nancy said. “I told you clowns are funny.” The other two shook their heads but had to give Nancy a smile in return.

  • * *

Killjoy landed in Hell and clutched his head.

“The worst headache I’ve ever had,” Killjoy said. “Outside of that one hangover back in clown college.”

“Can’t you do anything wight?” Batty asked. “Now we’we stuck hewe again.”

“Lay off, Batty,” Killjoy said. “Can’t you see I’m tired. I don’t need nagging. Let’s just lay low so the King doesn’t get on our case.”

“You guys really screwed up,” a voice said from the shadows. “If you wanted Showtime, you should have gone with the master.”

“B..” Batty started to say before Killjoy clamped his hand over her mouth.

“You don’t work well with others,” Killjoy growled. “and you’re not a clown.”

Betelgeuse laughed. “I’m not a clown,” he agreed. “I’m the main event. My turn is coming and I’ll show you all what the ghost with the most can do.”

Aftershocks: Dark Carnival Pt. 3

October 17, 2020

Nancy stood seething and breathing hard in her anger with her fists clenched. Lydia moved to her side and gently touched her arm and Nancy calmed down a little bit. Rob stepped up to her other side and gave her a little nod. She nodded back.

“Killjoy!” Nancy shouted out. “If you’re working for my dad, we have a problem. Come out here!”

“No no, you little shits,” Killjoy shouted out through the PA system. “I still don’t think I am going to do that. Not when I still have people to fight for me. I pick my spots.”

“Show yourself clown!” Lydia called out. “We want to get this over with.”

“Unless you’re a coward,” Rob said with a smirk. This set off some grumbled curses over the PA system. Obviously, they had touched a nerve.

This was when a spotlight went on and in the middle of the pool of light stood the most pathetic, rotten-looking clown that any of the three had seen. They all instantly recoiled from him as he had a sinister air to him. He only had one eye and the missing one looked like it had been stabbed with a bladed weapon. Everything about him looked disheveled or injured, unlike the bright-painted clowns they had just dispatched. He was calmly smoking a cigarette. This thing had a completely dirty feel to it rather than the flashy, dangerous feel of the others.

“Who are you?” Nancy asked, all of them tensing up again. They knew that even the most pathetic looking demon could still be a threat.

“The name’s Stitches,” Stitches said in a Scottish accent. “I’m about to rain on your parade.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flower and put it on his lapel. The flower suddenly erupted with a geyser of water that the three barely dodged. Stitches adjusted aim to follow them and ended up hitting Nancy who was nearly washed away. She dug her claws into the ground and held on tight. She tried to turn her head so she did not swallow all of the water.

“Stop it!” Rob shouted and fired his shotgun, the ironshot and salt mix pelting Stitches on his right side. Stitches looked annoyed at best.

“Quit it,” Stitches said calmly and gestured at Roy and a noisemaker shot out and somehow knocked Rob off of his feet.

Lydia muttered a few words and threw a fireball at Stitches. At the last moment, Stitches pulled out a red-stained umbrella and used it to block the fireball.

“Cool off!” Stitches growled angrily but the geyser of water died down as he turned toward Lydia. A blade sprang from the point of the umbrella and he advanced on Lydia with extra menace. Nancy was still struggling to her feet, belching water onto the ground. Stitches swiped and stabbed at Lydia who had to scramble backward. She used her baseball bat to deflect some of the shots. The situation was dire.

“Stop!” Nancy managed to get out. “It’s me you want. It’s me that my father wants.” She started to struggle to her feet. She was soaked to the bone but she was still staring daggers at Stitches which only seemed to amuse the clown. He laughed and walked a few steps toward Nancy.

“That’s true enough,” Stitches said. “but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun first. Hell does not really like your friends here. The three of you have been a pain in the arse and Hell will be glad to be rid of both of them before we drag you home to daddy.”

“Come get me then,” Nancy said, getting to her feet. “Come and get me already.”

Stitches started to walk toward her in earnest, spurred on by her taunting. At that point, Rob attacked on Stitches’ blindside and stabbed him in his empty socket. Stitches cried out and screamed and then started laughing.

“Third time is not the charm, boy,” Stitches says. “I’ve been stabbed before.”

“Not with an angel blade,” Rob said and smiled. Stitches’ smile faded and he suddenly cracked like an eggshell and collapsed into nothing.

Lydia moved to hug Nancy. “Are you alright?” she asked.

Nancy nodded. “I’m just tired and very, very angry,” she said. “I want to go home.”

“We’re almost done,” Lydia said. “One to go.”

Aftershocks: Dark Carnival Pt. 2

October 10, 2020

The three of them arrived at the fairgrounds and looked up at large tent that had appeared only two hours previously. They had taken the time to gather their weapons and get ready for whatever or whoever they would be facing. They had faced a handful of threats together but who knew what the future might hold? Lydia had recently enchanted a baseball bat which she had gotten pretty good at wielding. She had inscribed runes on its surface and then she had applied a finish to protect the writing. When she had reconnected with Dorothy and her friends, she had also reconnected with her mystical training. She was trying to embrace that. It was silly to handicap herself considering all of the threats they were facing lately.

Rob had a shotgun slung over his shoulder and a makeshift scabbard that held his angel blade. Lydia was still not entirely sure what Rob was. The first night they met she had seen him grow a glowing set of wings amid an explosion. He kept talking about family that he had not elaborated on them but she knew that they hunted monsters. Rob had somehow inherited a bunker from them. There were books on all manner of creatures and she kept seeing the word “hunter” everywhere as if that had a specific meaning. Lydia had worried that he might object to Nancy now knowing about her demon heritage. He had never once backed down from his support of Nancy.

Nancy was wearing her familiar striped sweater that changed shape based on her mood. It usually got baggier and looser as she got more nervous so she could hide inside of it. At her most confident, it could become a t-shirt. It was currently only a slightly loose knit sweater. Her hands were balled into fists but Lydia had seen those hands form into vicious claws. She had seen Nancy do inhuman things. With her own history with he who literally should not be named, she should have been repulsed but she loved her friend even more. Despite the demon heritage, Nancy was so vulnerable but she was still defying the forces of Hell. Lydia could never walk away from that. They were in this together.

A heavily painted female clown stepped out of the tent. She had green hair and a curious design painted on her belly that looked like a vertical mouth with sharp pointed teeth. She also had a smirk on her face.

“Oh look!” the clown said. “It’s little miss daddy issues.”

“Go to Hell,” Lydia said. She looked over and saw Nancy tensing in anger.

“Oh we awe going back but not without you little demon missy,” the demon said. “Come with me and you won’t get huwt.”

“Get ready for a fight, clown,” Nancy said, her look fierce.

“The name’s Batty Boop, pintsize,” Batty said. “You awe a little eawly but we awe weady for you. Step right up!”

The three adventurers charged forward, Nancy at the front with claws extending from her hands. Batty laughed and disappeared in a shower of confetti. The three looked around and then entered the tent. They were immediately met with a blinding spotlight and they all had to adjust for a moment. As soon as they did, the spotlight went off which absolutely ruined their night vision.

“Welcome welcome ladies, gents, and pipsqueaks to the greatest circus on Earth or in Hell, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus!” a voice rang out. “Nancy! You have won an all-expenses paid trip to Hell! The rest of you get a lovely parting gift of death. I think we’ll kill a whole bunch of people before we leave town. What do you think?”

“Come down here and fight us!” Rob yelled out.

“Hmm no I don’t think I’ll do that,” Killjoy said. “I think you should say hello to my friends instead!”

A large shape moved through the darkness and hit Nancy like a bus, sending her sprawling. A spotlight hit the shape and revealed a large hobo clown with comically big boxing gloves. He advanced on the girl with a grunt. As Lydia moved to stop Punchy with her bat, she was cut off by the sudden appearance of Batty Boop. Batty almost sliced into Lydia with a nasty-looking sword. Rob turned to face the last figure which was an odd mime conjoined with what looked to be a robot baby. The baby detached itself and leapt at Rob who was forced to wrestle it to the ground. The three of them were forced to struggle with the three killer clowns. The laughter of Killjoy could be heard from somewhere up above.

Nancy made it to her feet just as Punchy swung down at her. She dodged to the side and had to keep dodging his brutal strikes as she shook off the earlier blow. She was so angry all of a sudden and she wanted so badly to hit back. She balled her fist up and jumped into the air and landed a heavy punch right on Punchy’s chin, sending him stumbling backwards. She punched him again and again and finally wound up and hit him with an uppercut. She punched him so hard that her fist went through his jaw and out through the back of his head. Punchy exploded into confetti.

Lydia dodged wild sword swipes from Batty, the sword clanging off of her baseball bat. Lydia hung in there as Batty got more and more sloppy. The demon clown was not used to prolonged fights. She was more used to seduction and surprise attacks against more helpless prey. Still, she was definitely giving Lydia a lot of trouble. With a tongue foreign from Earth, Lydia lit the runes on her bat. Lightning arced from the bat through the sword and into Batty’s body. She fell to her knees smoking. Lydia tried to think of a pun on Batty’s name and using a bat but just swung for the fences. Batty’s head and then her body exploded into confetti.

Rob wrestled with the little machine as it gnashed its teeth and tried to strike at him. Eventually, he was able to grab his angel blade and stabbed the little baby in an explosion of confetti. The mime swung downward with a pickaxe but Rob rolled away. He recovered his shotgun and one shot sent the mime to an otherwise silent death.

Aftershocks: Dark Carnival Pt. 1

October 3, 2020

Lydia, Nancy, and Rob were all lounging in the bunker. Lydia was elbow deep in a stack of books, lost in thought. Rob was on a laptop, scrolling through news sites constantly. Nancy was bored so she was playing on her phone and playing some music. Lydia had welcomed the music as she was good at multi-tasking. Rob, on the other hand, had complained. When he had been overruled, he put on some big headphones and grumbled a bit. The girls did not take it very seriously, Rob had long since given up on being a pint-sized authority and was now fully partnered with the two teen girls. They were really meshing as a team. The witch, the demon daughter, and the angel boy.

A vase on the table in front of Lydia started to shake, vibrate, and wobble. Lydia looked up casually but Rob got tense and threw off his headphones.

“What is that?!” Rob asked, shouting the question. He stood up.

“Calm down, Rob,” Lydia said. She reached for the vase. Nancy had already sat up and was hugging her knees. “It’s a little present from Dorothy that Sabrina left here. I finally got it to work.”

“Ah, a witch trick.” Rob asked, calming down now that he saw that the girls were not panicked. “What is it, though?”

“It’s a sort of trouble detector,” Lydia said, cradling the vase. “Dorothy called a Weather Vane, Sabrina calls it a Dark Detector. It tracks dangerous magic or magic used for dark purposes. It’s not a perfect system but it’s better than nothing.”

“It means our peacetime is over,” Nancy said softly. “We have to get back in the saddle.” She sounded so sad that Nancy patted her shoulder.

“Finally!” Rob said with a smile. “Does that Trouble Tracker have another step? I mean, it’s nice to know there’s trouble but it’s not very helpful.”

“Yes,” Lydia said and she reached into the vase and drew out some powder and tossed it toward a map of the city hanging on the wall. “Reveal!” she shouted. The powder stuck to the map in a wide pattern but slowly started to consolidate around the downtown area.

“What is it?” Nancy asked, staring at the point on the map.

“The magic doesn’t go that far,” Lydia said. “We have to actually get out and investigate. It could be anything.”

“It’s always demons,” Nancy said. “They’ve made it clear that they want me. He wants me.”

“It’s not going to happen, Nance,” Lydia said. “but it could be something subtle like Jack and Charles or something more blatant like West or Ley. We just have to find what does not belong.”

Rob was looking at his computer again. “News alerts have us covered,” he said. “It wasn’t there a few minutes ago but there’s a huge circus tent that went up at the fairgrounds. Ads have started to play online. We have a Dark Carnival situation.”

“What’s a Dark Carnival situation and is it what I am afraid it is?” Lydia asked.

“Yeah,” Rob said. “It’s kind of like an evil circus. They’re pretty common. Sometimes called a Circus of Fear. They always suck.”

“Why do they always suck?” Nancy asked, confused. “I like carnivals. I like circuses. How bad could they make it? What’s so bad about circuses?”

“Clowns, Nance,” Lydia said.

“I hate clowns,” Lydia and Rob said in unison before looking at each other.

“Clowns aren’t so bad,” Nancy said. “I think they’re funny.”

“I definitely don’t,” Rob said. “but that’s why they’re dangerous. Everybody thinks what they do is innocent fun until it’s too late. Clown ghosts, clown demons, clown monsters. All horrible.”

“Alright,” Nancy said. “I’m on board with hating on ghosts, demons, and monsters. What do we do?”

“We get ready for showtime,” Lydia said. “and then we bring down the curtain.”


“I want a progress report!” Killjoy yelled out. He was pacing inside of the trailer behind the main tent. He was his usual grumpy self, his hands itching to shed some human blood.

“Well, they sent us up here to Oyth but they weally wanted that Pennywise guy but he didn’t go to Hell,” Batty Boop said. “Pwetty dumb if you ask me.”

“No!” Killjoy yelled, shaking liking a maniac. “I mean what’s the progress of our plan?!”

“Plan good!” Punchy said.

Killjoy leaned against a table and looked into the mirror and shook his head and sighed. “Very descriptive, Punchy,” he said.

“Don’t take it poysonally, Punchy,” Batty said, patting the big man on the shoulder. “He’s just nervous because he hasn’t performed for such a big audience before.”

“I had a wildly popular web show!” Killjoy shouted.

“Did you, though?” Batty asked. “Did you really?”

Killjoy grunted. “Where’s Freakshow and our newest recruit?”

“Freakshow and Stitches aw putting the finishing touches on everything with all of the zombie clowns.” Batty said. “The plan is fine, baby. Relax. It’s not gonna go like the last time we had a mission from Hell.”

“You had to remind me of the one who got away!” Killjoy yelled.

“Punchy, will you go outside while I calm down our glowious leadew?” Batty asked with a smile.

Punchy left the trailer and kept moving when he started hearing the most hideous of noises. He wondered when he would get to start tearing teens apart again. As long as dragged that girl back with them, they could do whatever they wanted.

Aftershocks: The Goblins Down Below 2

October 26, 2019

Aftershocks Witches

The Wicked Witch of the West cackled and, as her arms raised, the goblins surged forward trying to surround the three girls. The Witch slowly walked forward, the goblins streaming around her and she had a smug grin on her face. Except, then the lights began to dim in the vast warehouse and the Witch paused. Then all of the sprinklers came on at once and a deluge descended from the ceiling. The Witch practically scurried for cover but the goblins looked confused as the water washed over them. The falling water started to rise from the puddles on the floor and formed into a giant serpent made of water. The serpent stretched open its jaws and then lunged at the Witch and swallowed her whole, completely submerging her in the water.

A moment later, the serpent exploded from the Witch’s magic and she started to laugh again. “Silly, girls,” she yelled. “Water won’t end me this time.” The water coalesced back into the form of Nancy.

“We figured as much,” Sabrina said. “but we had to try.”

“The water was actually for your goblins,” Lydia said. “Sorry.”

She and Sabrina snapped their fingers in unison and lightning shot out from them and jumped along the soaked goblins, frying them where they stood. All three girls watched as the goblins wriggled and squirmed from the voltage and the sparks lit up the face of the startled Witch. Unfortunately, the lightning did not get everybody and Lydia and Sabrina drew their swords while Nancy’s hands turned to claws. They started to slash their way through the remaining goblins. Salem leaped from the shadows and started to slash and rip through the goblins as well. There were still plenty but luckily the Witch was hanging back and getting her bearings. She might have been hit by the lightning.

After a long and bloody battle, the girls stood panting and sweaty and ready for action. There was a sudden explosion of swirling smoke and the Witch appeared again. She was floating in the air on her broom.

“The games are over, my pretties!” The Witch yelled. “Time to go to Hell!” She formed a huge fireball in her hand and launched it toward Nancy.

Sabrina stepped in front of Nancy and formed a shield from pure magic, barely blocking the fireball’s impact. Lydia pointed at the Witch and a magical bolt of energy lanced forward from her finger and shot straight through the Witch’s chest. Salem appeared from behind her and drove his claws into the Witch’s back and rode her body all the way to the ground. He landed and retracted her claws and walked over to the three girls and into Sabrina’s arms for a nuzzle.

“Thank you for protecting me,” Nancy said to Sabrina.

“Yes,” Lydia said. “Thank you for protecting her.”

“We’re friends now, Nancy,” Sabrina said. “It’s not often I get to vanquish a demon.”

“Who are you calling vanquished?” A shaky voice came from the direction of the Witch’s corpse who was very much not dead yet. “One way or another. You’re going to Hell!” Her skin blazed with fire and her eyes went wild. The goblin corpses on the floor around her started to burst into flame. Before the girls could react, an ax flew out nowhere and hit the Witch in the head and she went down again. She burned up quickly, and thankfully the wet goblins didn’t spread the flame. The girls looked around and there, standing just next to what looked liked a magical gateway was The Tin Woodsman.

“Sorry I’m late,” The Tin Woodsman said. “I came as soon as I could.” He tipped his funnel hat to the girls.

“Nick!” Lydia yelled. “You were right on time. It’s good to see you!”

“Let’s clean this mess up, shall we?” Tin asked.

* * *

“Do you really have to go back to Kansas?” Nancy asked.

“Yeah,” Sabrina said. “It’s where I belong right now. I have to help the others get back on their feet.”

“Good luck,” Lydia said with a smile. “You’re the right person for the job.”

Sabrina tilted her head. “You won’t come with me?” She asked. “There’s a spot there for both of you, I’m sure.”

Lydia looked at Nancy and then shook her head. “This is where we need to be right now,” Lydia said. “At least until we’ve figured out this King of Hell thing. Besides, we can’t put the group in danger while they’re injured. It’s nice to know you’re out there, though.”

“We always will be,” Sabrina said. “Remember what she taught you. Dorothy loves you.

“You all taught me something,” Lydia said. “I love you all. Give my regards to Dorothy, Dani, Coraline, Amy, and Glen.” She smiled and hugged her friend. It was a long hug. As soon as the hug ended, Nancy was suddenly hugging Sabrina. She found herself smiling and ruffled Nancy’s hair as they separated.

“Tell them yourself when you visit next,” Sabrina said. “Stay safe. If you need us, just call.”

“We will,” Lydia said.

“I promise we will,” Nancy said. “We’ve got each other.”

(Fin.)

(Can you guess who the movie characters are in Dorothy’s coven?)

Aftershocks: The Goblins Down Below Pt. 2

October 12, 2019

Aftershocks Witches

It was hours later when Sabrina showed up. She had bone-white hair and she was incredibly attractive, it made Nancy feel somewhat self-conscious. She shook off the feeling and moved on. She saw the worried yet happy look in Lydia’s eyes and wondered if she was not keeping her best friend from making other friends. Although she was cute, Sabrina had a cut across her cheek and a visible burn mark on her hand. Both had been properly treated but they were clearly fresh. They had met in front of the town library since neither Nancy or Lydia thought that Rob would agree to the risk of inviting a stranger to the bunker, even if Sabrina was a trusted friend of Lydia’s. As soon as they met, they moved quickly to a back room in the library so they could talk privately.

“Are you alright, Sabrina?” Lydia asked. “You look a little banged up.”

“I’ll live,” Sabrina said. “And luckily so will the others but it was a really close call.” She looked more relaxed now that she was sitting down but she still looked keyed up about something. It was definitely something really bad.

“Maybe we should start from the beginning,” Lydia said. She glanced over at Nancy in the corner. Nancy’s t-shirt had morphed back into a floppy sweater which was a clear sign that she was nervous. “Sabrina, this is Nancy, my best friend. Nancy, this is Sabrina, my old friend and classmate.” Nancy visibly brightened at the mention of her being Lydia’s ‘best friend’.

“Nice to meet you,” Sabrina said to Nancy. “Any friend of Lydia’s is somebody I can trust.”

“Thank you, Sabrina,” Nancy said. “What happened to you?” Nancy healed really fast so she was more likely to fuss over other people’s injuries. She had certainly fussed over Lydia and Rob enough.

Sabrina’s expression darkened and she shuddered. “That’s why I came here. She’s back, Lydia. The Wicked Witch of the West has returned and she’s in our world this time,” she said.

Lydia’s eyes went wide. “She’s dead!” she shouted and then remembered they were in a library. “Dorothy killed her in Oz.”

“Yeah,” Sabrina said. “but all worlds lead to the same Hell and they brought her back. There was a huge burst of hellfire and there she was. She caught us all off guard. Dorothy and I were the only ones left standing and we only kept everybody alive with a desperate defensive spell. Dorothy and the rest are safe in a hospital but I had to come and warn you.”

“Warn me?” Lydia asked. “What could she want from me?” and then her brain caught up with her and she shut her eyes with a sigh. “Oh.” She looked at Nancy.

“Not another one!” Nancy cried out and buried her face in her sweater sleeves. The rest of what she had to say only came out as mumbles as she was muffled by the fabric.

“What’s going on?” Sabrina asked. “What does she want?” The mystery had been eating at her the whole trip and now she was so close to figuring it out.

“She wants Nancy,” Lydia said. “Not me. The King of Hell wants Nancy.” She could feel the fear and anger rising inside. Nobody was going to take Nancy anywhere.

“Why?” Sabrina asked without knowing how loaded that question was.

Lydia and Nancy locked eyes and then Nancy nodded slowly. She literally trusted Lydia with her life. “Nancy’s dad was a demon,” Lydia said. “She inherited a lot of his powers and maybe even more.” Nancy watched Sabrina nervously.

Sabrina took that in for a moment. “That’s alright, Nancy,” she said. “A lot of my family worshiped the Devil for a while. Also, I’ve heard a lot of weird stories from our circle so I’m a little jaded at this point.

Nancy smiled and her sweater changed back into a t-shirt. “So who is this evil witch?” She asked.

“The Wicked Witch of the West,” Lydia said. “She clashed with our teacher Dorothy but died almost by accident from getting wet. It, uh, sounds sillier than it was.”

“Sure,” Nancy said. “but what is her name? You keep saying the Wicked Witch of the West.”

“She and her sister sold their names a long time ago in exchange for more power,” Sabrina said. “They have gone unnamed for a long, long time.”

“That’s pretty twisted,” Nancy said.

“They were some pretty twisted sisters,” Lydia said. “They ruled over large sections of the land of Oz and warred with the admittedly ineffectual government. Dorothy took both witches out and ended up helping with a regime change too. She’s gone back and visited some but that first trip was pretty rough.”

“So what are we going to do?” Sabrina asked. “We need a plan.”

“I think I have some ideas,” Lydia said. “Which I’ll need your help with, Sabrina. Nancy, think about what you can bring to the table. I know your powers take a lot out of you so we can’t rely on just you. We’re in this together.”

“As usual,” Nancy said with a smile.

Aftershocks: The Goblins Down Below Pt. 1

October 5, 2019

Aftershocks Witches

“Oh dear sister,” the West said. “My mistake last time was getting fixated on you and that little girl. This time, I’m going to stay focused. So, I’m not bringing you with me.”

“Damn you!” East said. “You can’t leave me down here.”

“Oh dear sister,” West said. “I have the stamp of approval from the King himself. I’m about to do what I could not do before. I’ll get that little girl and then I’m off to capture the King’s prize.”

*                *                 *

It was summer vacation and Lydia and Nancy were left to their own devices which mostly meant just hanging out in the bunker or swimming down at the local pool. Rob had reported at the start of summer that his parents were making him go to summer camp and he would not be around. Demon activity had been strangely quiet but the girls knew that something would be back. They had interfered three times with demon plots and the one that had started it all, Ley, had said something about the King of Hell wanting Nancy. Lydia was not about to let that happen. So, they spent a lot of time studying whatever books they could get their hands on. The Bunker also had a remote link to a database from something called the Men of Letters which had been very enlightening so far.

It was on a hot July afternoon when Lydia had gotten a text. She was honestly surprised, she had been caught in that belief that overtakes people that once physical and temporal distance separates us from our past, it is gone forever. There were parts of her life that she had not told her best friend Nancy about. She never imagined she would tell Nancy about any of it but they had both been open books otherwise. They both had horrible pasts but that had bonded them together. Now their future did not look exactly bright but there was hope if they stayed together. Important to that was telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

“Nancy,” Lydia said. “I just got a text.” She felt nervous. They had faced down demons and ghosts together on several occasions. She had had her own encounter with a deadly ghost. Her best friend was some sort of demon offspring. Still, she was nervous about not telling her friend something from her past. The words did not slip through her lips easily.

“Oh?” Nancy asked. “I didn’t think Rob was allowed to have a phone at camp.”

Lydia paused at that. “Is it troubling that he is our only other friend really?” she asked. The two of them ate lunch together at school, hung out together all the time, and had only recently started to hang out with the much younger boy who had shown up in their lives in a car with a trunk full of weapons. He had introduced him to the family bunker, a family he revered like kickass saints.

“No,” Nancy said. “The teen years are supposed to be awkward, right? Also, we’re totally weird.” She was not wrong, a witch and the daughter of a devil.

“True,” Lydia said. “but no. I got a text from an old friend. We’re going to be getting a visitor.” She slid her finger along the edge of her phone over and over, a nervous tic.

Nancy looked curious. She had changed since Lydia and she had met. She had started to blossom into a young woman who was less scared of the world and, most importantly, less scared of herself. Lydia had assured her over and over that she was not her father and that her admittedly fantastic powers were not a sign of evil. Nancy looked less like her usual muppety self without her trademark sweater but she had somehow used her own internal magic to turn it into a t-shirt. Those familiar red and green stripes were something that Nancy was rarely seen without. “Who’s coming?” Nancy asked. “I’m interested to meet one of your other friends.”

“When everything happened to me and my parents were killed I felt lost,” Lydia said. “My foster family just did not understand. I met a bunch of girls like me who were being tutored by a wise older lady named Dorothy. Like us, she had been the victim of magic. She had experienced another dimension and had come back changed from the experience. She had set out to learn witchcraft to make sure it never happened again to her or anybody else. I brought what little knowledge I had to the circle and they taught me so much. Eventually, my foster dad got a new job and we moved. We lost touch and I started off on my own journey and met you.”

“Wow,” Nancy said. “so you were part of an actual coven? I’ve only seen that kind of stuff in movies.” She looked so intrigued. She had such big wide eyes that made her look so innocent.

Lydia shrugged and smiled. “I’d hesitate to call it an actual coven,” Lydia said. “We never used that word. I’m sorry for not telling you about all of this until now.”

Nancy shook her head. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “We’re friends. Best friends and I trust you more than anybody in the entire world.”

“And beyond,” Lydia said with a smile.

“And beyond,” Nancy agreed. “So who’s coming? Are they riding a broom?”

“My old friend Sabrina,” Lydia said. “and maybe. You make fun but some of us learned to do that stuff. She’s on her way now. I can only imagine this will lead to a new danger for us.”

“We’ll face it together,” Nancy said.

Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 4

October 27, 2018

Aftershocks Playthings

It took a while to find out where the kids were. This time, Lydia had no reservations about Rob doing some hacking. Already having access to a server was not the same as actively hacking into a government computer. Lydia spent her time trying to keep Nancy calm as Rob worked, knowing how much she cared for those children. Also, she knew the way her dad had preyed on children weighed on her and had her wanting to balance out his actions. It was a hard weight for sunny Nancy to carry and Lydia could see that. Also, she knew that Nancy’s freak out had started to wear on Rob’s nerves. How she became team mom, Lydia had no idea.

They arrived at the safehouse not quite as put together as they had been at the toy store. Lydia’s nerves were still jangled from combat, she was getting more battle-hardened but she still had a ways to go. Rob put on a brave face but Lydia was sure she could tell that he was nervous. Still, he was obviously the most composed. In the backseat, Nancy was like a dog begging to be let off of its chain. There was a wildness in her eyes that Lydia could understand but knew that they could not afford to indulge. She took Nancy’s hand in hers and spoke softly.

“Nancy,” she said. “These kids need us but they need us to be strong for them.”

“I’ll be strong for them,” Nancy said. “I’ll tear Charles apart like Ley and Jack.”

Lydia squeezed Nancy’s hand. “Nance, you are scaring me. We got lucky the last two times but this time they have hostages. We have to play it smart.”

Nancy looked helpless.

“You need to keep the monster at bay,” Lydia said. “Unless we absolutely need her. You are not a monster. You’re my happy friend. So let’s go save the day and make those kids happy again.”

Nancy took a deep breath. “Alright,” she said. “I’m with you.” Her voice was shaky but she looked sufficiently calmer.

Rob stepped out of the car and the girls piled out after him as quietly as they could. None of them were exactly stealth experts. At that moment, it really hit Lydia how young they were and how normal fighting demons had become. It was inspiring, frightening, and sad all at the same time. She wished she was reading paperbacks back in her room. She wished Nancy was leading sing-alongs back at camp.

Unfortunately, it was gunfire that snapped Lydia from her revelry and the three of them scrambled to duck back around the car. Rob cursed loudly as the bullets impacted the car but it was lost in the noise. Lydia reached into her bag and grabbed a mirror and held it up to try to see who or what was shooting at them. A bullet grazed the car near her arm and Lydia lowered the mirror. She whispered a few words and waved her hand over the mirror and she remotely viewed their surroundings. There were two cops with rifles aimed at their car.

“We’re not the bad guys!” Lydia yelled out. “We want to protect the kids.”

There was nothing but silence from the cops but they had stopped shooting.

“There is a maniac named Charles who is after the kids,” Lydia said into the night.

Both cops simultaneously tilted their heads back and let out insane cackling laughter. Then they spoke in unison. “The kiddies will be mine just like these two dopes. Either come and submit to me or I’ll pull out your eyes.” They both cackled again in perfect unison.

“Shit,” Rob said. “They’re possessed!”

“What do we do?” Nancy asked, eyes wide.

“We improvise and move forward,” Lydia said. “Sorry, Rob.”

Before Rob could ask what for, Lydia waved her hand and the hood of the car pried itself up and floated in the air. Lydia walked toward the house as the cops shot up the hood. The other two hurried to follow behind Lydia. At the last moment, she waved her hand again and the piece of metal flew into one of the cops. Rob pulled a revolver and shot the other cop in the shoulder. He pulled out a vial and sprinkled liquid onto the cop that Lydia had hit with the metal. There was no reaction.

“They’re gone,” Rob said. “It’s not normal demonic possession.”

Nancy actually growled and her hands sprouted sharp claws. Lydia actually mom armed her, raised her hand and snapped and both cops caught on fire. What had formerly been the cops flailed around but succumbed to the flames. Rob moved to pick the lock on the front door but Nancy lunged forward and dragged those claws down the door, cutting it to pieces. The three of them slipped into the house.

In the living room, the kids were unconscious and tied to the furniture. A little red-headed toy man stood in the middle of it all with a twisted grin on his face. He did not look afraid of the three newcomers. Lydia knew at once what this little man was planning and hoped that he had not succeeded.

“You can’t stop me,” Charles said. It was the same voice that came from the cops. “Their bodies are mine. They will be the start of the Army of Me.”

“No way!” Nancy yelled.

“Yes way!” Charles yelled out. “Do you think I subdued all these kiddos myself?”

As if on cue, toys came out of hiding and attacked. Nancy lunged at Charles, claws out and began to wrestle him. It would have looked comical in any other situation. The other two combatted the rest of the toys, slowly hacking and smashing their way through them. The living room was chaotic with battle and thankfully the kids really were out of it. At one point, Nancy and Charles crashed through a window and outside which was impressive since there were bars on the windows. Rob and Lydia did their best on their own, slowly destroying each toy and it seemed to take forever. Finally, they made sure the kids were safe and headed outside.

They arrived just as Charles got the upper hand, landing on top of a prone Nancy and pulling out a large wicked knife.

“I’ll rip your guts out, kid!” He yelled.

A shot rang out and then two more and Charles went flying from shots from Rob’s revolver. He and Lydia charged forward, covering for Nancy as she tried to recover.

“You little shits!” Charles yelled out. “You’ll never win. Me and the big guy are friends to the end.”

“This is the end,” Lydia said. She snapped her fingers and Charles burst into flames.

His screams were horrible but oddly satisfying. The three of them stood and watched the doll burn. When the screaming stopped, Rob made an anonymous call to the police to come to clear things up. Nancy continued to watch the remains of Charles burn as Lydia and Rob collected the car’s hood and untied the kids. They came and grabbed Nancy and Lydia was satisfied that Charles would continue to burn down to cinders before the police arrived. The three of them left. None of them really wanted to talk about things yet.

Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 3

October 20, 2018

Aftershocks Playthings

Once again, Lydia insisted on driving, pushing Rob into the passenger seat since he was still a much younger kid. Nancy climbed into the back and made sure everybody buckled up before they started off toward the toy store. Nancy thought about how normally she would have been overjoyed to explore a toy store, even an abandoned one. Now, she knew that this was not going to be fun. It was going to be the gym and the hotel all over again. Beneath the fear was an anger quite unlike her usual happy demeanor. She clung to that anger a little, trying to use it to fight back the fear as she bounced a bit in the backseat of Rob’s big black car. Lydia glanced back at Nancy, a little worried for her best friend.

“So what’s our plan?” Lydia asked. “Go in hot like usual?”

“They’ve already hurt the parents,” Nancy said. “We need to crush them before they go after the kids.”

“Agreed,” Rob said. “Besides, the tactic has worked for us before. I don’t know what their plan is but we have to stop it.”

Nancy nodded. “For the kids,” she said.

“For the kids,” Lydia and Rob agreed. The three of them were still all under the age of eighteen but they did not really feel like kids anymore. Nancy looked over at Rob and wondered about him most of all since he was the youngest but had way more experience fighting these things.

Lydia felt the whole thing was unfair. She and Nancy had been pulled into this because of their shadow-touched pasts. They never chose it, it had been thrust upon them. Lydia was in this because her parents had dragged her to that house and things had gone off the rails. He had nearly married her and would have been unleashed on the world. Nancy’s story was even worse. She was only in the game because that demon had somehow impregnated Nancy’s mom so the process had been started long before her birth. It was maddening but if they could not get away, they both had decided to confront the problem head-on.

The three of them piled out of the car at the toy store and they opened the trunk to get out their weapons. Rob pulled out his silver blade, the one he called an ‘angel blade’ which was curious knowing what they had seen during their first encounter with the boy. Lydia pulled out her sword, an item that always made her feel sufficiently badass. Nancy grabbed the iron fireplace poker that she had taken from their last adventure in the hotel. It had served her pretty well and it was something she was more comfortable using than her own powers. Lydia was ready to use her magic spells. Finally, Rob grabbed a shotgun which Lydia was going to object to but thought better of it. The kid obviously knew what he was doing and they would be fighting sentient toys, not people.

Rob picked the lock on the sliding doors out front which raised some eyebrows with the girls but both of them let it go. The three of them slipped into the store which had shelves of old merchandise. Obviously, that made the three of them tense from what they had seen back at the bunker. They stood in the middle of those aisles and before any of them could comment, the shelves erupted with living toys. The three of them sprung to their defense and all three slashed at the attackers. It was an absolutely ludicrous sight to see three kids smashing and cutting up a whole bunch of toys. Everybody involved was screaming bloody murder and when the dust settled, the floor was littered with stuffing, plastic bits, springs, and all sorts of other parts. The three demon hunters were relatively unscathed. They walked toward the back.

“Where are you, Charles?!” Lydia called out, working at getting her breath back.

“Your plans are over!” Rob yelled.

They walked into the back and they almost ran into a baby doll, a teddy bear, and a jack in the box. The baby doll was smoking a cigarette calmly.

“This is the end of the line, kiddos,” the baby doll said. Its voice certainly sounded like it smoked.

“For you,” Nancy said.

“Charles isn’t here,” the jack in the box said, its voice like nails on a chalkboard. “We have a deal. He gets the kids, we get you.”

“What do you mean he gets the kids?” Nancy asked.

“Enough talk,” the baby doll said. With a growl, the teddy bear grew into a real bear and lunged after the three. Rob, Nancy, and Lydia spread out and the bear ended up chasing Lydia. The others each went after Rob and Nancy. Lydia swiped her sword at the bear, making sure to keep out of its reach the best she could. A couple of times, the bear nearly took her head off. She led it back into the shelves. Each slice with her sword only exposed stuffing under the bear’s fur. She was getting nowhere and she could feel her arms beginning to hurt and her swings started to slow down. Backed into a corner, she waved her hand and called out an incantation and set the bear on fire. As it panicked, it lost interest in Lydia before falling to the concrete and slowly burning away. Lydia leaned against the wall and tried to recover.

The baby doll had chased Nancy through the storeroom. It moved surprisingly fast for something with such little legs but Nancy supposed that demons worked with different rules of physics. She turned and swung the poker at the thing and was startled when the baby doll blocked the shot with a switchblade knife. Nancy thought it must have looked ridiculous as she started to fence with a baby doll. She was never going to look at another doll the same again. After a few moments, she gained an edge over the baby doll. At last, she disarmed the doll, sending the switchblade flying across the room and sticking into the wall. She drove the poker into the doll’s face and, as it shuddered and stopped moving, she worried about the nightmares this might cause.

As for Rob, he squared off with the jack in the box which laughed maniacally, showing off needle-like teeth. After spending some time trying to stab the thing with his angel blade, he gave up and retreated. As the thing laughed in triumph, Rob cocked the shotgun and blew its head off. The laughing abruptly stopped.

“This isn’t over,” Lydia said. “Charles is going after the kids. Where are the kids?”

“They’re all gathered together,” Rob said. “at the social services safe house.”

“Let’s end this then,” Nancy said. “Nobody messes with kids when I’m around.”

Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 2

October 13, 2018

Aftershocks Playthings

While they were waiting for Rob, Lydia and Nancy had tried to do their best to research the problem. They had called a few people to see if they could separate fact from the rumors that had started to circulate. They found out which parents had died specifically and they had started to theorize what the actual plan was. The children were all going into the system but in the meantime, they were being held at a Social Services-sponsored group home. Without more information, neither of them had a clue what was going on. They were not even sure that the problem was supernatural in nature. There was definitely a killer on the loose, though.

Rob showed up at the bunker a bit later in the day, hanging his coat up near the door. He looked tired as he laid his magical blade across two pegs on the wall of the bunker. He took a deep breath and turned toward the girls.

“So,” he said. “People are getting murdered again.”

Nancy nodded. “A lot of them so far,” she said. “At least the kids got away. Do you have any ideas about what did this? Is it a demon again?”

“Slow down,” Rob said. He was a serious little kid and he looked sternly at Nancy’s frantic behavior. “I poked around little myself and yeah I think it’s demons.”

“What makes you think this is demons?” Lydia asked.

Rob pulled out his phone. “I found some stuff at one of the houses,” he said.

“You snuck into an active crime scene?” Lydia asked, her eyebrows rising up in surprise. “That’s a huge risk.”

“It’s not like we could flash a badge and pretend I’m FBI like my family does,” Rob said. “I’m too young for that. Nobody would buy that you two are law enforcement.”

“Thanks,” Lydia said with an edge of sarcasm. “I guess it’s fine as long as you didn’t get caught. People’s lives are on the line. What did you find?” Lydia was pragmatic and, although she was not much of a rule breaker, she recognized that the demons obviously did not care about rules.

Rob showed them the screen of his phone and the word ‘Playtime!” was written on the wall in a reddish brown liquid. The two girls had seen enough violence to know blood when they saw it. It still made them cringe and feel a little sick. “I found this written on the wall of the garage where one of the dads was found.”

“Oh geez,” Nancy said. “Why would somebody write that?”

“I have a theory but I wanted to check if the cops have uploaded the crime scene photos yet,” Rob said and moved toward his laptop.

“How?” Nancy asked.

“I have a backdoor into their server,” Rob said. “I installed it months ago to keep tabs.” He started to type on the computer.

Lydia took a deep breath. “I’m going to hold back my disapproval and just focus on how all the crimes you’re committing are saving lives.”

“It’s kind of a family tradition,” Sam said. “Look at these.” On screen there were a series of photos of similar writing on walls. Messages like ‘Friends til the end’, ‘Jack wuz here’, and ‘Wanna play?’ all written in blood. There were dozens and dozens of messages. “The messages are all written close to the ground like really close to the ground. That confirms my theory. The toys killed the parents.” He got up from the computer and headed toward the door.

The girls looked at each other and then back at Rob. “The toys?” Nancy asked.

“Are you alright?” Lydia asked. “Did you hit your head or something?”

“I’m fine,” Rob said and started fishing through the pockets of his coat. “I found something else at the house.” He pulled out a plastic container and walked into the interrogation room, the room where the three of them had officially become a team. He dumped the contents onto an elaborate symbol engraved on the table’s surface. The girls walked in to see what the fuss was about and saw a little sailor doll which looked kind of cute. Except that the doll was moving around by itself and its little hands were stained with blood.

“What the Hell?” Lydia said, joining Nancy in taking a step back from the creepy little doll.

“Exactly,” Rob said. “It’s possessed by a demon.” He turned toward the little demon sailor. “Tell us what happened.”

“Go f%9# yourself!” The little doll yelled. Despite its efforts to seem tough, it came off a little bit cute if creepy.

“I don’t think it’s going to talk to us, Rob,” Nancy said.

“Strange,” Lydia said. “We’ve killed quite a few of his kind so far.”

“You don’t scare me, lady, you’re a c&*7!” The little thing yelled at the top of its tiny lungs.

Lydia started to gather a fireball into her hand but Rob caught her wrist. “Hold that thought for a minute,” he said. “I have something they’re all afraid of.” He started to chant in what sounded a bit like Latin and the sailor started to scream and writhe in pain. “Talk and the pain stops!” He yelled at the demon. Nancy backed up a little further and hugged herself.

“Stop! Stop!” the demon screamed and Rob stopped chanting. “I’ll tell you what you need to know.”

“Go ahead and talk then,” Lydia said.

“He told us to kill the parents but I was out of practice and I hung around too long and that’s why you caught me,” the demon said indignantly. “It just felt so good.” The demon sighed. “He’s going to be mad.”

“Who’s he?” Nancy asked. One could practically see her pulse speed up.

“Charles,” the doll said in a mocking voice. “What a loser.” Nancy started to relax and Lydia reached over to squeeze her hand gently.

“Where are the other demons?” Rob asked. “Where’s Charles?”

The doll hesitated, looking down. “I dunno,” it said but gave itself away by smirking.

Rob started to chant again. “Talk!” Nancy yelled, furious at this little creature for harming the children she cared for. Her eyes flashed inky black for a moment and the doll recoiled from that even as it was in pain from the chanting.

“Harbin’s Toys!” The doll yelled out. “43rd and York! Please!”

Rob tapped that into his phone and then nodded at Lydia who tossed the fireball onto the doll and the three of them watched it writhe as the flames consumed it. It melted before the flames got hot enough to actually burn it to cinders. Lydia extinguished the flame with a gesture and they all left the room. Rob sat down at the laptop and searched the address.

“It’s an abandoned toy store,” he said.

“Perfect for finding little murderous bodies to inhabit,” Lydia said.

“We have to stop them,” Nancy said. “Charles must die.”

“I’ll get the car,” Rob said.


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