Posts Tagged ‘Fanfictober’

Aftershocks: The Goblins Down Below Pt. 3

October 19, 2019

Aftershocks Witches

The trio had to find a safe place to wait for the Wicked Witch of the West. None of them wanted to involve the general public in this fight. Of course, all three knew that human authorities were of no use. Sabrina came from a society where such things were strictly forbidden. Nancy’s mother had tried to appeal to the police and psychiatrists to no effect. Lydia and her family had never had the chance to call for help but it was unlikely normal humans could have done anything.

Besides, human authorities either did not want to deal with these sorts of things or they were not really capable of keeping up. Either way, it was best to fight fire with fire and it was easier to cut loose when innocents were out of the way. To facilitate that, Lydia and Sabrina worked on weaving a cloaking spell which would keep people away from the warehouse they had chosen. If all went well, the Wicked Witch would be cast back to Hell and nobody would be the wiser.

While they prepared, the other girls told Nancy in detail the story of Dorothy’s first trip to Oz during which the encounters with the Wicked Witches had happened. They told her of falling houses, a scarecrow, a tin woodsman, a talking lion, and all sorts of other wonders. They told her of subsequent trips and what Dorothy had learned. They talked about when they met and some of the other girls in their circle. After hearing the stories, Nancy very much wanted to meet Dorothy and the rest of the circle. Lydia promised the two of them would somehow make that happen if they got through the next fight. Maybe Sabrina could come back and meet Rob, too.

When the spell was in place, Sabrina snapped her fingers and a small black cat appeared. Nancy leaned down to pet the cat with a smile.

“Is this your cat, Sabrina?” Nancy asked. The cat quickly crawled up Nancy’s arm and draped itself across her shoulders, purring.

Sabrina laughed. “That’s my familiar, Salem,” she said. “He’s not exactly a cat. Not really.”

“What does that mean?” Nancy asked.

“Like you, Salem is more than meets the eye,” Nancy said. “Familiars are otherworldly creatures usually in the shape of Earth animals.”

“Salem will be good in the fight,” Sabrina said. “He is way tougher than he looks. Let’s finish getting ready for her.”

It was an hour later when they started to hear banging on the outside of the corrugated metal walls of the warehouse. It started slowly at first with what sounded like the occasional tennis ball hitting the wall. Then the sounds started to surround the girls and they got faster, louder, and more numerous. The three of them stood their ground and tried to stay calm.  The sounds began to get more rhythmic and synchronized, signalling a small army outdoors. As the sound climaxed, the sliding doors of the entrance slid open. Standing in all of her glory was the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, just as Dorothy had described her. She carried a broom etched with wicked-looking runes and there was a twisted smirk on her face.

“Well, my pretties,” West said. “Time to go to Hell!” Her voice was thin and high-pitched but somehow compelling and forceful. Her clawed hand flexed and she gripped the broom tighter. She grinned, revealing incredibly sharp teeth. Her face was impossibly angular and she was instantly identifiable as something no longer human. From the stories Lydia remembered, the Witch had ceased to be human before her death.

“Back off, West,” Sabrina said. “Nobody’s going to Hell but you and your stupid monkeys.” All of Dorothy’s girls knew the stories almost by heart and who could forget flying monkeys as villainous henchmen?

“Is that what you think they are?” West asked. “No. No more winged monkeys, no more Winkies. I have new friends now.”

“What are you talking about?” Nancy asked. “What are they?”

Creatures started to make their way through the door, they had orange-red skin, sharp teeth and they behaved like feral animals. “The goblins from down below,” West said. “You must be my prize, the one called Nancy.”

“Leave her alone!” Lydia called out, moving slightly in front of her best friend. The two of them glanced at each other and there was no need to say anything. They were in it together until the end.

“It’s best to give up now and save me the trouble,” West said. “Then I can go back and finish off that troublesome Dorothy.” She was having fun drawing out the anticipation and trying to get the three girls to squirm. All three bravely stood their ground and glared at the wicked witch.

“Back off, witch!” Lydia yelled. “Let’s get this over with.”

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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.

Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 1

October 6, 2018

Aftershocks Playthings

Charles stepped into the back of the toy store and admired the blood stains on the walls and floor with glee. The only thing he regretted was that the deaths that had occurred in the storeroom were not his handiwork. He had been out of the game for far too long and he was ready to spill plenty of blood himself. He placed one of his small hands against a blood spatter on a shelf of toys and found that it was still wet. He reveled in the feel of blood on his flesh once again. He wondered if enough of it was wet that he did not need the blood he had brought with him. He shrugged and figured he might as well use the bucket he had gotten out of the taxi driver.

He dipped his finger into the bucket of blood repeatedly as he drew the pentagram on the floor. He was really more of a voodoo guy but this was how these things were done. He focused his will on the symbol and a little boy appeared in the middle of the pentagram but partially transparent. He looked impatient and annoyed which turned to complete disdain when he saw who summoned him.

“Oh,” the boy said. “It’s you.”

“Yeah yeah,” Charles said. “It’s me.” He liked being recognized but usually, that recognition brought unreasoning fear. “We haven’t actually met yet but we’ve both worked with sort of a similar theme.”

“I’m far more creative than you are,” the boy said, folding his arms over his chest. “The other yous are slightly smarter but still not as smart as I am.”

“And yet you failed once and haven’t done squat since,” Charles said. “Look, I have a different plan from those other mes and I need a power source to do it.”

“Why do you think I will help you?” the boy asked, his eyes narrowing.

“Look, I know this is a crapshoot,” Charles said. “You are plan C after things with Toulon and Hartwicke didn’t work out.”

“I’m so flattered,” the boy said.

“If you help me,” Charles said. “I’ll make sure to give you credit and when He hears how much you helped, he might let you out.”

“Then playtime could really begin again,” the boy said with a grin. He thought of the last time he had gotten to come out and play and the lives he had been able to take. Of course, Charles had been right when he had reminded him of his failure. That door was shut forever but new doors could always be opened.

Charles laughed his wild laugh, his red hair flinging all over the place as he tilted his head back. “Exactly! But for now, it’s my turn.”

“I suppose I can learn to share,” the boy said. “On one condition. You have to say the thing.”

Charles hesitated and sighed and nodded slowly, mentally filing away that he was being forced to say the phrase once again. “Give me the power. I beg of you!”

* * *

Lydia was in the bunker, which was where she was spending much of her summer. She had always been pale and unathletic so going out into the sunshine hardly sounded like fun to her. She much preferred to dive into Rob’s collection of arcane tomes to research the world of magic. As she read, she realized that she had only just dipped her toes in the world of magic and there was so much more to learn that it made her head spin. It was all so fascinating and she ended up spending whole days absorbed in reading book after book.

Nancy, on the other hand, could not stand to be cooped up for too long and reading about demons made her nervous. Twice she had displayed her father’s demonic powers but in the real world instead of the dream world and it dredged up too many shadows and fears inside of her. She spent most of her days in the sunshine as a camp counselor run out of their school. Laughing and playing with kids in the light lifted her spirits and seemed to bring her back to herself. Sometimes she came to the bunker and brought Lydia dinner or a DVD so they could have a movie night. This was why Lydia was startled when Nancy walked in before lunch one day in early July.

“Lyds!” She called out as she burst through the door. “It’s so terrible.”

“Nancy?” Lydia said, looking up from yet another book. “What are you doing here? What happened to summer camp?”

“People are dying, Lydia,” Nancy said, pacing back and forth. “It keeps finding us no matter what we do.”

Lydia stood and hugged her best friend. “Slow down, Nance,” she said. “You said something terrible happened?”

Nancy took a couple deep breaths and then started speaking again. “Summer camp was canceled today since the parents of three kids died last night.”

Lydia took a moment and thought about that. The two of them had experienced death and violence before both before and after they met. Nancy was excitable and all but she was frantic. Children were involved and the deaths had happened at night. Lydia was able to put two and two together and realized that Nancy must have been reminded of her father. She made sure to hold onto her friend’s shoulders and looked her in the eyes. She tried to make her voice as comforting as possible.

“Nancy,” she began. “I know what this sounds like. I know how much you like kids. We’re going to get to the bottom of this. We’re going to stop whatever is happening.”

Nancy nodded and she started to shake a little less. She started to calm down but still clung to her best friend. “Alright,” she said.

Lydia nodded reassuringly. “We are going to need to call Rob to get him in on this. All hands on deck, right?”

“I already called him on the way here,” Nancy said. “I left a voicemail for him.”

“Wow. That was probably an interesting message,” Lydia said.

“Oops,” Nancy said. “Yeah, let’s actually fill him in.”

Aftershocks: Ghosts Check In Pt. 4

October 28, 2017

Aftershocks Ghosts

When the three of them opened the door, there was an intense blast of heat. The furnace must have been in overdrive or something. It was like walking into the desert and it took some effort to keep walking down the stairs. Lydia was glad that she had her hair up as usual but she looked with sympathy at Nancy who had long, shapeless hair draped everywhere. Rob pretty much had a crew cut so he was fine. Why was she thinking so much about hair? It must have been the heat that was making her delirious.

“We need to finish this guy off quickly,” Rob said.

“Can’t take the heat, Rob?” Lydia asked with a smirk. Nancy tried to cover her mouth before she started laughing but she failed.

“Quiet,” Rob hissed.

“I think they know we’re coming, Rob,” Nancy said.

“I know,” Rob said. “Maybe I just want you to stop mocking me.” He kicked open the door at the bottom of the stairs. The three of them moved into the room and fanned out.

A man was standing in front of the furnace with his back toward them. The flames made his shadow dance around the room. He slowly turned to expose a manic but determined look on his face. He was stone still and his eyes looked and smile looked devilish.

“It’s over, Jack!” Lydia shouted out.

“I don’t think so kiddo!” Jack said. “Enough is enough, time for you kids to get punished.”

“Come and get it!” Rob shouted.

Jack chuckled and pulled out a bloody axe from behind his back. “Here’s Johnny.” He said softly. He ran toward them, swinging the axe in a wide arc. The kids scattered and readied their weapons again.

The first to attack was Lydia, running at the left side of Jack and thrusting her sword as hard as she could. Jack simply stepped back and swung the axe downward in one movement but when the axe would have hit Lydia’s back, she evaporated into mist and reappeared a few feet away. Jack roared at her, his eyes going blood red.

In the confusion, Nancy swung the iron poker hard at Jack from his right side with a yell of fearfulness that suddenly found courage. This was a demon and if they did not step up to the plate, they would die in a hotel basement and nobody would ever stop Jack. She put all the balled up fear of the day and all the days before into that swing. Unfortunately, Jack sidestepped that one as well. He struck Nancy in the back of the head with the butt of the axe and a bit of blood spattered across the concrete floor as Nancy stumbled into a corner.

Rob pulled out a pistol and fired point blank at Jack. The first two bullets hit Jack in the stomach and he barely flinched even as more blood hit the floor. The next two bullets struck Jack’s chest and he started to laugh. The laughter grew more manic as bullet five hit his cheek, tearing a little bit of it away. The laughter did not die when the sixth bullet hit Jack right in the middle of the forehead. If anything, it got louder.

“Holy shit!” Lydia shouted. “That should have worked right?”

“It was worth a try,” Rob said. “At least it was supposed to slow him down.”

“Man,” Jack said with a sigh. “You kids make me want to drink. Instead, I guess I’ll bash your brains in. That tends to solve problems.”

“You’re not hurting anybody else,” Rob said steadily. He pulled out the silver spike of a blade from his coat again. Jack’s eyes were immediately drawn to the thing.

“I’m supposed to be scared of that thing?” Jack asked. “I know what that is. Don’t know how you got it but I know what it is. Real fancy, boy. You still have to actually hit me with it and none of you have had a bit of luck.” He had a very demonic grin on his face, his eyebrows knitting together.

“Demons will never win,” Rob said. “In the end, demons lose and humans win.”

“Whatever, kid,” Jack said. “I’m not going to let another snot-nosed kid beat me this time.”

“I think we’ve had about enough of you,” Lydia said. “Enough talking, more killing.”

“I agree,” Jack said with a grin.

All of the lights in the basement suddenly went out including the fire in the furnace. There was an ominous silence. Lydia and Rob tensed, holding their weapons in front of them. This must be one of Jack’s tricks. The flame of the furnace restarted and once again cast light in the basement.

Out of the darkness behind Jack, there was suddenly the looming face of Nancy. However, just her face was about ten feet tall, her hair cascading into the shadows. Jack saw the astonished faces of Rob and Lydia but as he turned to see, giant hands floated out of the darkness. Those hands were the size of cars. One grabbed Jack’s right arm and the other grabbed his left arm and held him in place. Jack struggled as hard as he could but the now titanic Nancy was way too strong.

“Now, Rob!” Nancy boomed, fiercely serious eyes looking down at Rob. Rob snapped out of it and ran forward with his weapon and thrust it through Jack’s chest. Jack’s body lit up as if he was a jack o’lantern and a candle had been placed within him. After a moment, the light went out and Jack slumped in Nancy’s grip. The furnace light flickered again and Nancy was suddenly standing next to Lydia and Jack was lying on the floor.

“Is he dead?” Lydia asked.

“He’s dead,” Rob said and took a deep breath.

Nancy looked at Lydia, worry in her eyes but Lydia reached out and took hold of her hand and smiled and Nancy smiled back. Lydia pointed her other hand at Jack’s body and it turned to sand and seemed to blow away in a non-existent wind. They stood there for a long moment before all of them noticed that the furnace was starting to burn brighter and brighter. All of a sudden, ghosts started to descend through the ceiling, sucked into the furnace and seemingly burned up.

“We should probably get out of here, right?” Nancy asked, staring into the fire.

“Yeah,” Rob and Lydia said almost in unison.

“Let’s go then,” Lydia said and she pulled Nancy up the stairs with Rob very close behind. They ran from the basement and through the hallway and the lobby and out through the automatic doors. When the doors closed behind them, there was a harshness and a finality to the sound. There was the huge sound of an explosion from deep inside the hotel and the whole building seemed to go up in flames. After a few seconds, the building was completely gone. Nobody on the street seemed to notice.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Rob said.

“Well,” Lydia said. “I think we’re up to it.” She looked over at Nancy.

Nancy nodded. “More than up for it. This time, it’s the demons’ nightmare.”

Aftershocks: Ghosts Check In Pt. 3

October 21, 2017

Aftershocks Ghosts

The three of them ran as fast as they could, blood sloshing at their ankles and their footfalls splashing as they ran. They ducked through a doorway and Lydia slammed the door behind them. All three of them held the door against the pressure of the flow of blood, breathing hard. They looked around and found that they were in what looked like a small ballroom with tables set up for some kind of party. There was a rolling bar set up in one corner. In the other corner, there was DJ equipment set up.

“What was that?” Nancy asked. She was looking down at her formerly white socks which were now red. Her sneakers were probably ruined.

“It wasn’t cherry kool-aid, that’s for sure,” Rob said.

They slowly eased off of the door and it held by itself. They made their way into the room.

“This place has some really creepy tricks,” Nancy said.

“I’ve heard some nasty things about the place they used to be in. I think it was called the Overlook,” Rob said.

“I don’t think I want to know,” Nancy said.

“So, where is Jack?” Lydia said. She practically yelled it she was so mad.

“He is down below,” A voice from behind the bar said. “doing the devil’s work. He is not to be disturbed.” The man’s name tag read Lloyd and he was dressed like an employee of the hotel.

“Well,” Lydia said. “He’s as good as dead.”

“Yeah,” Nancy said. “We kind of want to talk about this place’s policies on demons and by ‘talk’ we mean stab.”

“I’m afraid that we can’t let that happen,” Lloyd said. “You’ll have to die and we’ll feed you to our new home like all the rest.” As he spoke, several other ghosts faded into view and surrounded the three young demon hunters. The three of them found themselves standing back to back to back, facing the threat.

“Try us, asshole,” Lydia said, practically bearing her teeth in defiance. The ghosts started to move toward the trio.

Nancy swallowed hard and gripped the iron poker tightly. She swung it at the oncoming ghosts and watched them flicker angrily and disappear as the poker passed through them. She kept swinging hard, thrashing around viciously. Rob aimed his shotgun and fired over and over. He wished that he had had time to shake out a salt circle around them to try and hold off the ghosts. He searched his mind for any memories of what his family would have done in this situation. When he ran out of shells, he pulled out a wicked silvery spike and swung that at the ghosts. Its impact made a burning line in each ghost and they flickered and disappeared. For her part, Lydia was also fighting hard. She swung her new sword at each ghost and its steel composition had a similar effect on the ghosts. Her slashes and parries made each ghost flicker and disappear.

After a while, the three of them started to get tired. They kept swinging and getting rid of ghosts but they were starting to notice that ghosts they got rid of earlier were only coming back for more. Lydia had had enough. She dropped her sword and flexed her magical will as she gestured her hand toward Lloyd.

“Back to Hell!” She yelled out. The words somehow sounded amplified and reverberated through the room. The ghosts all suddenly got very still and Lydia closed her fingers one by one. Lloyd’s form trembled and then started to smoke and then it burned up like a piece of paper in the fireplace. She turned to the other ghosts and gestured more widely and they all started to tremble and then burn up. In the silence that followed, she found that she was suddenly sitting in a chair trying to catch her breath. Nancy was kneeling beside her, holding her hand.

“Are you alright?” Nancy asked. Her eyes were wide and glimmered like a puppy dog’s eyes. Nancy was such a good person despite her lineage.

“Yeah,” Lydia said. “Sorry that that took so long to figure out.”

“Don’t apologize!” Nancy said. “That was awesome!”

“It was really impressive,” Rob said.

“Thanks,” Lydia said. “It’s been something I’ve been working on for a while just in case you-know-who comes back someday. I’m just really glad it worked.”

“Where would you even learn something like that?” Rob asked. “My family doesn’t have a lot of good experience with witches.”

“She’s a good witch,” Nancy said. “Like Glynda.”

“Glynda with attitude but only because I was tired of being like Dorothy,” Lydia said. “I learned everything from reading and some coaching from some friendly ghosts. I could let you skim some of my books at some point.”

“Really?” Rob asked.

Lydia nodded. “Ever heard of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased?”

“No,” Rob admitted. “But I would love to see it.”

Lydia smiled. “Ask me about it later, then.”

“So,” Rob said. “Are we ready to go downstairs and deal with Jack?”

“I don’t know,” Nancy said. She almost seemed to shrink into her over-sized sweater as she frowned deeply with worry.

“Come on, Nance,” Lydia said. “We’ve come this far and if we don’t do this, then nobody will. Maybe nobody can.”

“She’s right,” Rob said. “Nobody is going to believe us about the demons. Believe me.”

“Alright,” Nancy said. She sighed and then took a deep breath. “Let’s get this over with.”

Aftershocks: Ghosts Check In Pt. 2

October 14, 2017

Aftershocks Ghosts

The hotel was in a run-down part of town, probably perfect for hiding the murders of people less likely to be missed by a loved one. It looked like it was frequented by tourists looking for a bargain, maybe even people flying in to deal business in the old financial district fifteen blocks away. Whatever the case was, it looked like any other non-chain hotel that Lydia and Nancy had ever seen. It looked like it was an alright place to crash after a night on the town or a day in the boardroom. There was even a sign on the door advertising free wifi which looked like it was a new addition.

They took Rob’s car but only because of the trunk full of weapons, otherwise Lydia wanted to take a cab or ride share or something. When you have dealt with demons and demon ghosts, dealing with an Uber driver suddenly felt easier. Lydia insisted on driving because she actually had a legitimate driver’s license and the thought of riding in the car while Rob drove made her nervous. It was a strange place to be in when she was more worried about a car accident than facing down a deadly demon.

“Will you teach me to drive?” Nancy asked. It shook Lydia from her thoughts.

“What?” Lydia asked.

“I don’t have my license yet and I want to learn how to drive,” Nancy said. She was curled up into a ball on the passenger seat, hugging her knees. She was staring straight ahead.

“I can teach you,” Rob offered from the back seat. He had grumbled at having to sit in the back seat of his own car but had finally relented when Lydia pressed the issue.

“No,” Lydia said. “Not you. You keep forgetting that you are younger than us. You should not be driving this thing. If we’re going to be partners, I’ll do the driving unless it’s an emergency. We can’t risk getting the car pulled over by a cop. They might search it.”

“Besides, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you, Rob,” Nancy said.

“Fine,” Rob said and went back to putting guns from the trunk hatch into his duffel bag.

They pulled into the parking lot and walked toward the hotel. Lydia was a little bit surprised that the sliding door just opened so readily for them. When it did, they were hit with the air-conditioning and also the specific chemical smell of bleach. All three of them looked at each other and they stepped into the lobby. It was absolutely empty. When they were not looking, somebody must have come to the front desk from the office. Lydia saw that he had a neutral face which suddenly turned into a practiced smiled, a move known to all in the retail or service industry. He was obviously taking in the well-armed teenagers and preteen.

“Can I help you?” The man asked. His name tag said Grady but Lydia was not sure if that was a first or a last name.

“We would like to speak to the manager,” Lydia said calmly.

“I am sure I can help you and we do not need the manager,” Grady said. “Shouldn’t you be off at some school function?”

Lydia drew her sword from is scabbard. “We know about Jack, Grady. We’re here to stop him.”

“Don’t pull any tricks,” Nancy said and put on her best tough face.

“I don’t know what tricks I could possibly pull and I don’t know who this Jack is,” Grady said. “You would do well to turn around and go home before I call security to correct this situation.”

Rob pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired it directly at Grady. Lydia and Nancy screamed but noticed that Grady was not injured, he just dissipated in the pray from the shotgun. “Salt rounds,” Rob said. “It looks like we have some angry ghosts to deal with.”

“Great,” Lydia said. She ran behind the front desk and found some keys and tossed them to Nancy. “Nance, see if these will lock the front door. We don’t want to be interrupted.”

Nancy went to the front door and the key worked and she locked the sliding doors into place. She pocketed the keys and walked back over to regroup with the others. They checked the office and it was empty. They started down the nearest hallway, Lydia with her sword, Rob with his shotgun and Nancy with a poker that she had pulled from the lobby fireplace.

“Stay close, there’s bound to be more of those ghosts,” Rob said.

“Do I look like I’m afraid of ghosts?” Lydia asked. “Some of my best friends are ghosts.”

“You’re just afraid of one ghost,” Nancy said softly. Lydia shot her a look and Nancy shrugged.

“Not anymore,” Lydia said. “If I see him again, I’ll be ready.”

Nancy yelped as Rob’s shotgun went off again, dissipating another ghost. “I have a feeling that if we get rid of Jack, the ghost stuff might clear up?”

“I hope so,” Rob said. “Otherwise there are ways to get rid of ghosts for good too.”

“Wait, are there guests here?” Nancy asked.

“Not that I saw on my stakeout,” Rob said. “At least not living ones.”

“Then who are they?” Nancy asked as she pointed. She was pointing at a pair of children standing in the middle of the hallway ahead. The two young girls were identical with sunken eyes and plain dresses and looked absolutely out of place. As they were noticed by the heroic trio, their dead eyes seemed to come to life a little bit.

“Come play with us,” the girls said in unison.

“That’s super creepy,” Nancy said. “What do we do?”

Rob pointed his shotgun and fired and the little girls screamed as their bodies dissipated just like the other ghosts.

“Were you a hundred percent sure that they were ghosts?” Lydia asked.

“Ninety-seven percent. Maybe Ninety-six,” Rob said and shrugged.

“OK,” Nancy said. “That’s slightly less homicidal then, kiddo.”

“But only slightly,” Lydia said.

At the end of the hallway, there was suddenly a rumbling noise that started to get louder and louder. Rob aimed his shotgun until it was clear that whatever it was would not be bothered by salt fired from a shotgun.

“I think you pissed it off,” Lydia said.

The elevator doors slid open and thousands of gallons poured out of the elevator. After that first wave, what looked like millions of gallons started to pour, rushing down the hallway towards them. For a moment, all three of them stood there with their eyes wide. Nancy started to run in the opposite direction down the hallway. Lydia punched Rob in the shoulder.

“Run!” She yelled.


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