Posts Tagged ‘Nancy’

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.

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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.

Aftershocks: Ghosts Check In Pt. 1

October 7, 2017

Aftershocks Ghosts

Lydia and Nancy decided to skip the Principal’s office since he had phrased it as optional. In fact, as weeks went by, they continued to give the principal’s office a wide berth. It was all too complicated at the moment and they still did not know who to trust. After they had defeated the demon Ley, the two girls hoped that things would calm down and stay calm. So far, they were half right but neither of them believed that it would stay that way for long. Ley had talked about the King of Demons being interested in them and Nancy’s heritage probably made her specifically the target. The two of them tried to do as much normal teenage stuff as they could but it never quite washed away the memories of what had happened in the gym weeks ago.

The normal stuff went out the window when they left their last class of the day and found Rob sitting on the curb, eating a piece of key lime pie. He was wearing the same over-sized trenchcoat but was not openly carrying any weapons this time. In the light of day, the pint-sized monster hunter looked a little funny. However, both of the girls recalled that the boy had powers possibly on par with Nancy’s undefined abilities. He was potentially dangerous but he seemed to be on the side of the angels for now.

“Hey kiddo,” Nancy said. “No car today?”

“I have it stashed away,” Rob said without looking up from the pie. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his coat. “I don’t drive it all the time.”

“Smart,” Lydia said with a tiny smirk. “It’s still years before anyone will issue you a license, kid.”

“My name is Rob,” He said. There was no frustration or anger in the words, just a simple reminder of the facts at hand.

“Alright,” Nancy said. She was back to being her usual sunny self but that facade was wearing at the edges in the face of a reminder of a very bad night. “What can we do for you, Rob?”

“Yeah, we actually have homework to do,” Lydia said.

“I wanted to talk to you both after the heat died down,” He said.

“Well, it feels like it’s dead as a doornail now,” Lydia said. “Did you want your sword back?”

“No, that’s alright,” He said. “I just wanted to talk.”

“I’m not sure I’m interested, Rob,” Nancy said. She was hugging herself so hard that Lydia feared her arms might start wrapping around her a few too many times.

“Let’s hear him out, Nance,” Lydia said. “He helped us out. It’s not like we owe him but so far he’s been alright to us.”

“Fine,” Nancy said. “Lead the way.”

Rob stood and tossed an empty pie tin into the garbage and wiped his mouth with his coat again. He led them down the street and into the public park. He led them into the woods where they stood in front of a metal door hidden under a rocky outcropping.

“Nice secret murder dungeon you have here,” Lydia said.

Rob gave her a look. “It’s just one of my mom and dad’s old bunkers. My family likes bunkers.” He shrugged and pulled out a key and unlocked the door. He walked inside, leaving the door open. Nancy and Lydia looked at each other for a moment before going in. How bad could it be? They stepped inside.

The interior of the bunker was actually pretty nice. There were couches and tables and chairs and rugs. When Rob reached over to the light switch, the lights actually came on so he had somehow gotten working electricity in the woods of a public park. Lydia was impressed, Nancy was absolutely confused. Rob kept walking, moving past what looked like a makeshift kitchen with a fridge. He sat down at a table which already had two chairs set up on the opposite side. It was weird to see somebody younger look so professional.

Nancy and Lydia carefully sat down in the chairs opposite Rob. “So tell me what your deal is?” He asked.

“We’re high schoolers,” Lydia said. “I’m not sure what you’re asking.”

“I’m a dream demon’s daughter and she almost married a ghost!” Nancy blurted out.

“Nancy!” Lydia yelped in surprise. “Why did you just tell a stranger that!”

“Almost married a ghost?” Rob asked.

“He was trying to escape the afterlife. It was gross. I’d rather not say his name. Why did I just say that?” Lydia asked.

Rob simply smiled and turned toward Nancy. “A dream demon?”

“He’s really nasty and now I’m afraid I might be a demon too,” Nancy said.

“You’re not. Otherwise, you would be affected by the circle you’re sitting in and not just the truth glyphs that my uncle carved into those chairs. That’s why you spilled the beans,” he said.

“That’s a dirty trick,” Lydia said. Her eyes narrowed.

“My family has a long history of getting crossed by demons and other supernatural surprises,” He said. “If we’re going to work together then I have to know what’s up.”

“Alright,” Lydia said. “I can respect that. So what’s your deal?”

“Yeah!” Nancy said. “We spilled the beans. Your turn.”

“I hunt things that hunt humans just like my family before me,” Rob said. “I’m alone but all the stories I’ve been told say things just work out better together.”

“Together?” Nancy asked. “What do you have in mind?”

“Yeah,” Lydia said. “We’re not agreeing to just anything.”

“After we got rid of Ley together, other problems have started to pop up. There are signs of other demons. The three of us are the ones to shut them down. We have the experience and the power,” he said.

“How do you know so much about demons?” Nancy asked.

“My family studied them. Also, they fought them directly,” He said. “A lot of the ancient demons are dead thanks to my family or people like them. But demons get created every day and some of the new ones have become just as powerful as the old ones. Ley was barely anything compared to these assholes.”

“So who are we going after then?” Lydia asked. “Which nasty thing?”

“They call him Jack,” Rob said. “He’s a demon of madness which makes him a loose cannon. He’s killed a dozen before I noticed but he’ll only get worse.”

“We have to help, Lyds,” Nancy said. She turned to give Lydia her best puppy eyes.

Lydia looked back at her best friend and fellow outcast. With her oversized sweater and her innocent smile, Lydia was weak to all of that. “Fine. We should use our experiences to do good in the world. Where do we find this Jack?”

“I’ve tracked him down to a hotel,” Rob said.

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 5

October 27, 2015

Aftershocks 2

Two figures appeared from the shadows under a dead tree on a hilltop not far from the school. The first figure was dwarven with red hair and lots of facial scars. The second figure had slicked-back blond hair and a long leather coat. They both looked agitated and disappointed but the blond one was especially frustrated.

“Charles.” The blond one said. He was tall and mostly human-shaped but way too pale to pass for anybody normal.

“William.” The short one said. He was a cruel mockery of the human form, his body parts exaggerated in all the wrong places. He was more like a doll than a real person.

“The attack failed, Charles,” William said, beginning to pace in the moonlight. His face twisted itself up into a demonic form.

“Relax, William. There’s plenty of time to get the job done.”

“I wanted to get my hands dirty. Specifically, I wanted to get them bloody.” William said with a sneer on his face.

“We both will. Soon.”

“Sooner now that Ley is back in the fire,” William said with a shiver. That wasn’t a fate he would have wished even for that asshole.

“Yeah, that’s true. Speaking of, we should probably get back and report.”

“Right. Back down below we both go.”

The duo slipped back into the shadows. The smell of sulfur drifted out on the night air.

* * *

Principal Wood sat patiently behind his desk, his arms folded. He had driven the girls home the night before but had called them to his office as soon as he could the next morning. Lydia had given him the vaguest of excuses for breaking into the gym but she could tell he wasn’t buying it. Nancy had not been any help, preferring to stay silent, but Lydia couldn’t blame her. Even now Nancy was reserved and wore a blank, closed off expression. Her arms were hugged tight to her body and she was staring at an empty corner of the room. Lydia wished that the two of them could have talked more but the Principal had interrupted that. At least Rob had disappeared at some point.

“I’m serious. I want an explanation from both of you.” Principal wood said and he leaned in slightly.

“I promise you wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” Lydia said with a shrug. “Just give us detention.”

“Ms. Brewster. Believe me when I tell you that I have seen plenty of strange things. I might surprise you with how much I believe.” Wood said with the faintest little smile.

Lydia felt like his eyes were looking straight through her. The two of them stared at each other over the desk. Maybe he would believe her. Maybe she didn’t have to stumble through this alone with her best friend and a ten-year-old kid who might never show up again. Adults never seemed to believe or, like her father and mother, tried to pretend that it wasn’t real with drugs and therapy. She had communed with ghosts and nearly married what was apparently a really important demon.

“Like what?” Lydia asked.

“Like I smelled a lot of sulfur in that gym before I turned the ventilation fans on. Was it demons?”

Lydia’s eyes went wide and she could feel Nancy suddenly come to life next to her. “Wait, how did you know!?” Nancy nearly shouted.

The Principal laughed a deep, satisfied laugh. “I’m not one of them if that’s what you’re thinking. I’ve just fought a couple of them through the years.” He said and Nancy started to respond but Lydia silenced her by putting a hand on her shoulder.

“Maybe it was demons. Maybe we’re not ready to talk.” Lydia said, trying to keep her face neutral.

“I can help you but only if you can trust me enough to talk to me. If it was demons, the school is still standing and they’re no longer there. That might mean I have you to thank. I don’t really see the need to give you detention. However, if you were to show up after school anyway, maybe we could discuss the matter a little further. I just want to help you girls out.”

Lydia smiled and looked over at Nancy who gave a half-hearted little smile. “Maybe that will happen,” Lydia said. “But don’t hold your breath. Come on, Nancy. We have to get to class.”

Before the girls could get through the door, Principal Wood spoke up. “Be careful, ladies. I’ve seen what happens when a young woman goes up against a demon alone.”

Lydia pushed Nancy through the door and smirked without turning. “Yeah, we win.”

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 4

October 20, 2015

Aftershocks 2

Several of the lights had been fried and it was a little darker now. Lydia pushed herself to her feet and pulled out a candle. With a force of will, she let the candle go and it floated into the air and lit itself. It followed her as she crossed the room and climbed into the bleachers. She leaned over and looked down at Rob. He blinked up at her and gave a weak smile.

“Are you alright, Rob?”

“I think I’m going to make it.” He said and reached his hand up carefully and Lydia helped him to his feet.

“Maybe we should get you to a hospital? Although, it looked like you had a somewhat feathery landing there.” Lydia said, gesturing the wings as best as she could.

Rob looked at her sharply. “Wait, so you saw those too? Any sign of them now?” He asked and turned in place so she could get a good look. There wasn’t a single feather now.

“No. They’re gone. If you’re alright, I need to check on Nancy. Come with me so I know you’re OK.” Lydia said and it wasn’t at all a question.

“Alright. Lead the way.” He said with a shrug and picked up his shotgun.

They walked out of the gym and into the night. Nancy was sitting on one of the swings in the swingset, a silhouette against the full moon. The demons probably used the magic of the full moon for such a massive demon summoning. It was the only thing she could think of that made sense at the moment. Lydia had no idea who the King of the Demons was but she guessed that the title was pretty self-explanatory. If he cared about her and Nancy then they must have felt threatened. If they felt threatened before, then how would they react to Ley being defeated? There was no way they were out of the woods even with the addition of Rob.

Of course, she was thinking about all this instead of walking the few feet to talk to her best friend. She didn’t know what to make of the transformation she had seen. If she were a little more truthful with herself, she would admit that she was scared. Scared that she would say the wrong thing and scared that Nancy might not be Nancy anymore. That was the scariest thought. Nancy was the first person to truly embrace her after the incident. Sunny Nancy could not be evil. It was that last thought that allowed Lydia to move her feet forward. She walked toward Nancy slowly, the candle still following her.

“Did I hurt anybody?” Nancy asked before Lydia had reached her. She asked without turning around so she couldn’t see it when Lydia shook her head. Lydia closed the gap and stood next to her friend and tried to be brave. What she had seen was scary but she had to believe that her friend was still in there. She just had to.

“Just that Ley demon and that’s a good thing, Nance,” Lydia said and reached over to stroke her friend’s back gently. She could see the tears on Nancy’s face and her normal hands clinging to the chains of the swing.

“I’m scared, Lydia. Of me.”

“Nancy, I know you. You wouldn’t hurt anybody. I believe in you.”

“I don’t know about that.” She said and turned to face Lydia, tears still flowing. “I think part of him is still inside of me.”

“I know, Nance. I know.” Lydia said and pulled her friend into a hug and the two girls stood hugging in the middle of the abandoned playground in the moonlight. Lydia could feel Nancy’s tears on her own cheek and only hugged her tighter.

“Ladies, can you explain what happened here tonight?” A voice said. Nancy and Lydia both looked up to see the muscular form of Principal Wood.


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