A month or so ago, I had a ridiculous idea to send a story around to all the people participating in Nano Poblano. Not everyone participated and it got hung up in a few places, but I would consider it a rousing victory. Next year, (and yes, I think there will be a next year), perhaps we’ll add a sign up sheet or something for those who would like to participate in the story hop to make it easier to pick a Pepper to pass to.
I am amazingly impressed that anyone participated at all. Not only did you play along with my silly story, but you turned it into something delightfully unexpected. Not one of you added just the minimum of two sentences that I requested. Almost all who participated added way more than that, so that the final word count is over 6000 words. Bravo!
I didn’t quite think this idea through since my fledgling story has landed in my lap again and now I have to do something with it, something like an ending. I’d love to keep it going, but I’m sure there’s probably a word count maximum on WordPress posts and we’re likely to find out what it is soon. It’s probably best if we end it here… for now anyway. Perhaps next year, we can pick it up again.
A huge sloppy FOG thank you to all of those who participated, and to everyone who participated in Team Pepper; it’s been fun getting to know so many new blogs this year. It’s been a hell of a month, but we made it!
Also, at some point this week, I hope to create Nano Poblano Survivor badges for everyone. You earned it. See you next November, Team Pepper. Cheers!
Edward walked into the hotel lobby just as the sun began to light up the city. He dragged a large, heavy trunk to the reception desk and rang the bell.
As he waited for someone to answer the bell, he tried to calm his breathing and wiped his sweaty brow with his coat sleeve. He heard a soft thud from the trunk and jerked his head towards it. His eyes had just a touch of fear in them as he listened for any other sounds. He never meant for things to go this far.
When the concierge emerged for the door behind the registration desk Edward stood up straight and tug on the lapel of his coat and says, “Er.” The concierge huffs and says, “Yes, may I help you?” Edward clears his voice and stutters out, “Mr. Maddox told me to deliver this trunk here for him.” Before the concierge could respond Edward abruptly turns and quickly runs out the door.
“What the …,” the concierge half-yelled as Edward cleared the door and ran down the street of still-waking businesses.
The concierge, Randy, was now more than a little put out. First, he had been interrupted while playing Candy Crush at the end of a dull night on the desk. Now, he was having to deal with miscreants leaving junk in the lobby. He hoped his boss didn’t walk in at that moment and chew him out for it.
Well, Randy thought, “I guess I can prop my feet up on this at the desk.” He slowly, but carefully as not to ruin the flooring, started to drag the trunk into the office.
As Randy dragged the Victorian-era trunk with brown leather-bound maple paneling and shiny brass studs nailed into the trim, he noticed that the weight wasn’t distributed evenly. Grunting when he tried to lift the heavy luggage over a snag in the office carpet, he finally maneuvered the large object into position. This would be perfect for resting his tired feet, so he plopped his posterior into the cushy high-backed chair and threw his feet up into the light side of the trunk.
Still bitter about his Candy Crush high score getting interrupted, he decided to pull up Plants vs. Zombies instead. Circulation returning to his legs, he vowed silently that no zombies would eat his brains tonight. He’s seen “Walking Dead.” They weren’t getting him or his sunflowers. Maybe it was thinking about zombies, perhaps it was thinking about how immobile he was if the zombie apocalypse hit, it could have even been the soup he made for dinner, but something didn’t sit well with him.
And then he heard and felt a thud coming from inside the trunk.
He whipped his feet off the trunk so fast, one of this shoes went flying across the room, knocking over a coffee cup. Dregs oozed out from between the cracks of his boss’s favourite mug.
“Damn it,” Randy exclaimed momentarily forgetting the sounds from inside the container. And then the screaming started.
The day clerk, Hank, had just entered the hotel lobby when he heard the screams coming from the office behind the reception desk. He ran fast as he could into the small office and saw Randy slumped in the cushy office chair, wide-eyed and breathing heavily, and wearing only one shoe. Randy’s face was ashen gray and he was literally shaking.
Hank saw the large, antique trunk, its lid open and some sort of thick liquid inside. “What the hell, Randy?” he asked. “What was all that screaming about? And what is that trunk doing here?”
Randy extended a shaky hand toward the open trunk and pointed. All he could say was “something.” He said it several times, his eyes filled with fear.
Hank looked carefully at the trunk and then walked slowly closer to it. That’s when he noticed rancid smell and a trail of dark liquid leading from the old trunk out of the office and into the hotel lobby.
At precisely the moment that Hank’s addled brain (which, frankly, was a rather slow-moving machine in the smoothest of situations) caught up to the reality of what he was witnessing, the sounds of pandemonium crashed into the ears of both men. Screams seeped in under the doors. The metallic crunches and thuds of cars unwillingly having their shapes rearranged filtered through the lobby windows. Hank imagined that he heard bones snapping and blood dripping amidst the chaos, but certainly that wasn’t possible. Was it? Hank locked eyes with Randy, both faces reflecting terror to the other. What had been in the box? More importantly, would they be held responsible? Given his usual weasel-like demeanor, Hank made a brave decision: He would go have a peek at the street to get a better idea of what he had gotten himself into. Inhaling deeply for courage and balance, he shifted his foot to begin the short walk back to the lobby doors. And that’s when he noticed it … he was standing directly in a puddle of the sticky fluid from the trunk, and it was working its way through every opening of his shoe.
All of a sudden, both of his feet started to burn like he had just finished walking on hot coals. He certainly was getting paid enough to deal with such crazy shenanigans. He should have been a lawyer, just like his mother wanted him to be.
A quick detour to the men’s room appeared to be in order, and whatever lurked outside the lobby doors would just have to wait. Leaving a trail of shoes and socks and rancid ooze behind him, Hank pushed through the washroom door, noticed that the cuffs of his pants were ruined and decided to drop those too.
He hopped up to the counter, turned the taps on full blast and plopped both of his burning feet under the gushing, cooling water. It immediately turned a sickly greenish purple. One of the cubicle doors opened and a stunned person stopped dead to take in the sight of a disheveled boxer-clad day clerk effectively occupying two of the sinks, decided against washing his hands just this once, and hurriedly scuttled sideways to the exit. Hank heard the door open, he heard the door close, and in between over the thudding of his own heart, he heard the muffled sound of chaos from the streets.
Outside the hotel, meanwhile, Detective Dick Richards swore loudly and then crammed into his mouth the last third of that cream-filled donut that had distracted him enough to slam into the school bus stopped in front of him, causing the city bus following too closely behind him to make an unmarked-car sammich.
All the school kiddies looked fine, but they were bellowing on the sidewalk outside the hotel, the same joint that he’d been casing undercover for weeks now, waiting for those clerk clowns Randy and Hank to take the trunk from that middle man Eddie. Cripers. Those clerks watched so much HBO they probably thought that trunk held zombies or vampires or something. Dick Richards wanted to clean up this mess outside so he could get back to his binoculars and watch for the next player in the game to show up.
Detective Richards was squirming out the passenger side window and was hanging upside down as Detective Sargent Beverly Hills approached his accordioned vehicle. Dick would know those gams anywhere. Bev had the best legs in the Department, although Andy Highwater on bicycle patrol came in second with his long, tanned….
“What the hell are you doing Detective Richards? You are required to stay put while the fire fighters use the “jaws of life” to remove you from this mess.”
“I’m fine, Bev.”
Dick lost his perch on the car and dropped like a stone further out the window, slamming his head on the curb, effectively knocking himself out. Meanwhile, a HAZMAT Team showed up to contend with the dark ooze that trailed from the hotel. A uniformed officer ran over to Beverly and informed her that a dead man had been found in the men’s washroom of the hotel and he appeared to be one of the desk clerks. An EMT was tending to the revived Detective Richards, so the Detective Sargent followed the Officer into the hotel and to the washroom, relieved to leave the pandemonium outside. Beverly stopped in the washroom doorway, stunned by what she saw.
It was not possible, was it? Given her line of work, she had seen many corpses. But this one was different; this corpse was her ex-husband Hank. “Oh, Hank. What did you get yourself into?” she moaned softly to herself. Despite their divorce, she had no hard feelings toward Hank. He had always been a nice man. He was just so…dim-witted. Ending up as a murder victim in a hotel bathroom was proof, as far as she was concerned, of his general ineptness.
The hardest part of this job was never knowing when you would meet a corpse you recognised.
Slim chance, but there was Hank, with his pale cheeks pressed up against the mirror. A noticeable crack in the glass, overshadowed only by the putrid stench of…what WAS that in the air?
Beverly began to step closer, instead turned away covering her face. A ringtone echoed, and she fumbled for her phone. As she accepted the call, she realised it was not her ringtone but, ‘Everyday I’m Shuffling’, Hank’s favourite song when they were still together.
She hesitated, ‘…Hello?’
‘Hello Bev…you never read my poem’ – the call ended and a text came through.
Beverly sank to her knees frantically trying to open the text with her now trembling fingers, the officer wondering what this idiot woman was doing, tapped her shoulder. Beverly glanced at him and gestured to the phone, ‘It’s from…him’, she mumbled – pointing at the corpse of her ex, ‘I can’t read it, we must read it!’
The officer – being a gentleman – read:
‘You held me with my fears
With a gaze of distant years
Your face reflected in the glass
I breathed in, the scent of arsine
You tried to help me stand,
Then I saw within your hand
Your axe about to thwack
The mirror will expose your crack.’
Heads down, engrossed in the text, they almost didn’t see the dark reflection in the mirror. They looked up just in time to dodge the large axe that seemed to be heading straight towards them. When they turned around, the black cloaked figure was rushing out of the restroom, laughing maniacally saying “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”. Bev and the officer looked at one another quizzically, was it a clue? What seemed most odd to Bev was the voice of the cloaked man. It sounded just like Hank, but how could that be when she was looking at Hank’s dead body, laid out on the bathroom counter before her? It was becoming clear that this wasn’t a normal murder scene and they were dealing with a lot more than contaminated ooze.
Bev’s face felt cool like a slither of ice had been brushed across it, crimson fingertips rose to wipe away a slick of almost slimy sweat from her brow as the other grasped the mobile. Legs weak, trembled like a baby doe as she attempted to rise not initially noticing the officer’s thick hairy topped hands that went to aid her. His greedy digits apparently needed to slide under one ass cheek, stealing a squeeze before hoisting up as the other paw wrapped around her slender upper arm brushing rather too keenly against freshly starched cotton-covered breast.
Though Bev was in shock, she detested this Officer, his actions causing a reaction akin to touching an electric wire as delicate hands rose with purpose, palms flat slamming in to his portly chest, pushing with determination and anger. Neat little heals slipped amongst the acrid slime on the floor, a shrill voice shouted “Get your grubby hands OFF me Officer you dirty DOG!” as whhooooooosh, feet went out from underneath the enraged patron of order.
Slender body crumpled and bent like a piece of old parchment as limbs flailed in attempt to block the obvious conclusion of her action. The accused Officer did as instructed, moving away, only to see the saucy morsel crash to the floor, raven locks billowing over slippery floor as a ‘CRACK’ of skulls echoed over the tiled floor.
“OH BOLLOCKS” could be heard loudly from the restroom. “SHE’S DEAD THE SILLY BITCH” followed with a tone of indigence at the inconvenience of it all. He crouched down just to double check, muttering “what a waste.” Thick set knuckles tugged the mobile from her grasp, standing to stretch as leisurely as a rise from a good night’s slumber, cracking a few joints before proceeding to leave.
“FORENSICS” he bellowed, doing a quick dart back of body avoiding being face slammed by the opening bathroom door as a group of officials rushed in. “WATCH THE FLOOR” he yelled, tucking the mobile in to his trouser pocket, leaving and murmuring “you know what to do”.
Heavy footsteps slowed a moment as a “buzz buzz” was felt against his hip. The phone gyrated like a limber Pilates teacher as sweaty fingers lifted it out, swiping to open the message “I am watching you, you filthy pig faced man, don’t ever touch my ass again!”
The Officers mouth resembled a breath starved goldfish momentarily as he turned, retreating to pop his head back in the restroom.
“She is dead isn’t she?” he asked the gang of forensics.
“Oh yes man, head split open like a melon” one geeky spotty male answered.
A sigh of relief escaped stubble ridden lips as he turned to leave feeling a slither of cold, as cold as ice pass his face.
Blinking repeatedly, a form appeared, floating before his eyes; it was Bev as if made of glass, or water, shimmering almost ethereal like, turning and advancing towards him. He glanced entranced by the pure beauty of what was before him, oblivious as she opened her mouth as if to scream. A sound not heard by others catapulted through his brain, as if splitting it in two, eyes burning and bulging as hands pushed either side of his head as if to hold it together.
Time slowed, everyone slowed, sounds of voices became blurred, movements merged one in to the other as the silhouette of glassy form left.
“This is officially the worst migraine,” thought the officer.
He looked in the mirror in order to fix his hat. It felt tighter than usual. Funny things happened to him whenever the migraines made their presence known.
As he adjusted his hat, he caught a glimpse of Bev’s silhouette in the mirror. By the time he saw the hammer in Bev’s hand, it was too late. He was right though. This was the worst migraine the officer would ever have.
Hours later, Detective Dick Richards knelt just outside the restroom door and put a hand over his nose to try to stifle the thick stench of blood emanating from the room. Now there were five bodies in the restroom, and a trail of bloody foot prints leading down the hall, into the lobby, and out to the street.
Richards took out his cell phone and dialed an old, familiar number. It only had three digits. All of them were the same.
“Yesssssss?” a voice hissed on the other end of the line.
“The plan’s been foiled again. The contents of the trunk are… missing. At least five people are dead. Five good people.”
“And you think I care about thisssssss?”
“No, of course not. But it’s my job to keep you informed. What’s my next move, boss?”
“Since the contents of the trunk have been misplaced, His Excellence will not be pleassssssed.”
“Clearly.” Detective Richards fidgeted, wondering what exactly His Excellence would come up with as punishment this time. Another trip into The Pit? Richards shuddered to think of the time he accidentally misplaced the twelve virgins to be ritually sacrificed.
“Don’t worry, Richardsssss. The Great and Powerful Cortoogoo has wonderful plans for you. Now, it is time to move on to the next step. You must acquire The Key.”
Tiffany Van Helsing, Demon Hunter, hated early mornings with all her heart. She especially hated really early mornings. She also hated cold weather and field work a whole lot and when all three combined as they had this morning, it was extra-special annoying.
She supposed it was all part of paying her dues as the youngest member of the infamous clan of Van Helsings, who had been running a wildly successful Supernatural Critter Disposal company for the past 100 plus years, since Old Gramps Van Helsing first took a cross to Count Dracula in the 1890s. It still wasn’t fair, though. Her older sister, Morgana, not only got the Van Helsing raven curls, height and slender but super-humanly strong build, but she got all the plum assignments too, tracking only the highest-level VIP demons in their swanky jet-set, private club and Monte Carlo yacht environment. Tiffany got five feet of ordinariness, mousy hair, a tendency to put on a few extra that time of the month, and all the crappy jobs. Oh yeah, and she inherited Grandma’s ability to see ghosts. Big whoop.
She had brushed past five spirits already as she gingerly picked her way through the fragile dawn light over the loose branches and slippery leaves of the deserted forest. Damn it, she hated the 5-inch heel over-the-knee platform boots she had to wear on hunting expeditions too. “I mean really,” she bitched to herself for the umpteenth time, “who the hell tracks demons in a boots and a leather mini skirt when it’s 40 degrees outside?” She’d been pushing to update the mandatory uniform for years, but Morgana loved it, and Morgana always got her way. What she would give for some tennies and warm fleecy sweatpants. “Oh well,” she sighed, absent-mindedly tugging the skirt leather over her exposed butt cheek. “Once I corner this evil detective, stop him from opening a portal from the underworld and releasing hell-spawn on the unsuspecting populace, I should have time for a Pumpkin Spice Latte from that new Starbucks across from the office.”
She reached the top of the hill, and crouched suddenly, cursing under her breath as her stiletto heel snapped a twig in the chilly silence. She could see her target, Detective Dick Richards, below her in the faint light, all dolled up in the Standard Issue Robe and Pointy Hood, etching a pentagram in the loose dirt of the hollow. He had already set out a bunch of candles and she could smell the stench of burning incense. Looked like a basic Key Invocation to her; shouldn’t take long to wrap this up. Then she could get on to some warm pumpkin-spiked goodness and much more comfy shoes.
Tiffany was so taken by the thought of it, she could almost smell the intoxicating combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and corn syrup in the air. “Soon enough,” she thought.
Upon completion, Detective Richards rose and began to walk the perimeter of the pentagram. Once. He still couldn’t shake the stench of the hotel bathroom. Twice. The blood. The weird black slime in the sink. Beverly. Poor Beverly. He’s always liked her. Why did she have to get all caught up in this? It was almost enough to make him turn in his black robe, for good. “Damn it!” He’d lost count again. It had to be perfect, or it wouldn’t work. He fell to his knees, quickly erasing the pentagram in the dirt with his hands.
Tiffany, seeing her golden opportunity, agilely leapt to her feet. She took a solid step backward for momentum, a little too solid. Her right stiletto pierced the ground, lodging itself firmly in the mud. Tiffany didn’t hear the leaves crunching behind her as she struggled to free her boot. It came loose all at once with a jolt. She spun, struggling to regain her balance, and found herself nose to nose with Edward and the unmistakable smell of cinnamon. “It’s your favorite,” he said coyly.
The psychiatrist looked at the strange child before him. He had been referred by the school guidance counselor. Several dolls lay in disarray with a tiny trunk at the side. Blood, blood, blood he said. Was this possession? That was the last thought before he was thumped on the head by a toy hammer and bludgeoned to death.
“He was odd from the moment he was born,” his tearful mother blurted out. “I knew the whole time I was pregnant that he wasn’t gonna turn out right.”
“I watched for all those warning signs I see on Dr. Phil but nothing ever happened. One night, I woke up to check on him and he was standing over my bed whispering. When I tried ushering him back to his bed, he said he only took orders from the shadows.”
“I slept with my door locked that night.”
My left temple was on fire and I knew I should have turned my phone to silent. This was going to be one long-ass day and the flask in my pocket was bone dry. I put on my badge and checked my holster.
First things first. I refilled my flask using the larger bottle of Jim Beam tucked away in my bottom desk drawer. After stashing the flask deep into the pocket of my coat, I left the office for the parking lot where I climbed into my rusty 1997 Honda Sedan. The short distance was covered quickly and soon I pulled up in front of the small house on Maple Lane where a good man had been brutally murdered. Even from the outside, there was a stillness. A sense of dread. Nothing good could come of this visit. I took a swig from the flask and reluctantly left the car to walk the front steps and ring the doorbell.
Tiffany looked at Edward blankly for a minute as he stood there with her Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte. “What are you doing here Edward? I’m busy following that warlock you see over there etching his pentagram in the dust and I don’t have time for a latte.”
”Cool!” snorted Edward, “Can I watch?”
Just then they both heard a rustling sound and looked toward the place where Dick Richards had been busy with his pentagram. But Dick wasn’t there. He was standing right in front of them glaring with glowing red eyes. He made a growling noise. Were those fangs bulging out of his slobbery lips?
This is getting pretty freaky , Edward thought, just before Dick sunk his teeth into his neck.
It was all over in an instant and Edward slumped to the ground in a heap taking Tiffany’s Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte with him. Dick slowly turned towards Tiffany smiling wickedly as blood dripped down his chin. Some of the spiced coffee had splashed onto his robe. The spots smoked as if the spices were burning holes into him. Dick tried to smooth over the burning holes with his hands.
“Damn it Tiffany,” Dick said. “Why did you bring that idiot with you?” “He burned holes in my robe with that spiced coffee.” “What the hell?”
Tiffany just stood there looking ravishing in her 5-inch heel over-the-knee platform boots staring at Dick like she had never seen him before.
“Dick, why did you have to kill Edward”, she asked. “I thought you had better ways of taking care of your urges than this,” she said angrily.
Tiffany stood over Edward’s body. She could see the two perfect holes in his neck where Dick had feasted. His body was limp and his skin white from the blood-letting.
But worse than that, she was out of coffee. And it was this stupid Dicks fault. She clenched her fist behind her back and then in one fluid motion decked the unsuspecting Dick Richards with a powerful right hook to his left jaw. He was down and out long enough for Tiffany to turn on her pointy heels and rummage through her Gucci bag for her phone. She quickly punched in a search for “Disposing of Warlocks and Vampires”. Then she added “portal keys” to that. What came up was a confusing list of possibilities. Green smoke, black magic, curse of doom, gates of hell. All of it was giving her a colossal headache, but Richards was beginning to stir and she had to do something fast. She dropped her bag and her Starbucks gift card fluttered to the ground at her feet. Caffeine! Yes, that was the solution! She stooped to pick the card up with a happy smile. Then her face hit the dirt.
When Tiffany came to, she was impossibly tied to a tree. She was both impressed and annoyed that whoever tied her up did a professional job of it and left no wiggle room. Properly typing people to trees is surprisingly tricky business and you have to give props to anyone who can do it well.
She was confused as to how Dick had gotten to her so quickly, since she was fairly certain that he was still on the ground when she was hit from behind. Either Dick’s wizardry was more powerful than she gave the lackey credit for or he must have a partner. Tiffany guessed the latter.
She looked around, but she could only see Dick some yards away in his Standard Issue Robe and Pointy Hood walking in a large circle around the pentagram. Even if she was not a demon hunter who knew what circles and pointy hats meant, she probably could have figured out that something not good was happening here, since the pentagram was glowing faintly purple. Nothing good has ever come of a glowing purple pentagram.
As carefully as his distracted brain would allow, Dick counted the number of revolutions around the circle. It had to be perfect or the invocation would have unintended consequences. He was coming to the last part of the ritual now–the summoning. He took a deep breath before he spoke the Latin incantation designed to open the gate.
“Hexagramma et Pentagramma, Malos Spiritus Sigillent! Lagena Signatoria!”
Stepping back as the purple pentagram began to turn into purple flames, Dick watched in fascination as an ominous figure shimmered in front of his eyes. Demonic eyes glowed red through the shadows as a deep voice that hadn’t been heard by human ears in eons spoke.
“About damn time you puny human! I have waited too long for this moment!”
Tiffany mumbled under her breath, “Oh shit!”
Just as the demon made a move to leave the pentagram there was a bright flash of light and before them a large emerald-green bottle appeared. It rotated slowly in front of the demon.
“What have you done human?!! Can you do nothing right?”
Before the demon could invoke its powerful anger at Dick, the bottle opened and sucked in the demon! It corked itself and then with a loud pop, disappeared!
Dick stood in frozen amazement. His pointy hat slid off his head to the ground and landed with a soft thud. Dick heard Tiffany laughing behind him and spun around.
“You idiot! You not only did the invocation for the demon, you did the invocation to summon the demon sealing bottle!”
“Huh?” Dick looked like he was going to cry. He fumbled in his robes for his ever-present flask of whiskey.
“Untie me, you bumbling fool! We need to figure things out, cus there is going to be a shitload of ‘splaining to do!”
Meanwhile, after work in an office in Virginia our next author, who is determined to finish a post before she goes home, has writer’s block…
And now for something completely different. And by completely different, I mean the same.
Tiffany Van Helsing waited patiently for Dick to fumble with the lid to his flask. Hands shaking from not having a nip of the good stuff in a while, Dick began twisting the lid and shambling towards Tiffany. “Keep yer drawers…er, skirt on,” he groused. His feet picked up some dust from the circle the demon and bottle disappeared through.
It was his biggest mistake.
Dick was a passable detective, but he was a very poor demon summoner. He tried reading “How to Summon Demons, Lawyers, and Celebrities: For Dummies”, but he couldn’t stay awake long enough to make it past the first chapter. In fact, the Latin he used earlier was the extent of both his Latin and conjuring skills. All of this meant that he really couldn’t be trusted with summoning anything important. If he’d known a little more Latin, he would have realized that he was using second declension gender neuter plural instead of first declension feminine singular (in the nominative case, of course). To the lay person, what this meant is that he created a mass summon demon and put things from the circle into the bottle spell.
As he grabbed Tiffany’s rope, he flicked off the lid to the flask. Since he was now a target of his own spell, he and Tiffany disappeared into an extra-dimensional pocket, never to be seen again. How embarrassing.
Fortunately, while Dick was busy screwing up his latest magical adventure, P. Rick Balzac received a call from their same employer. “Isss thissss Misss Balssssac?”
“No,” said Rick. “You must have the wrong number.”
“Isss thissss (867)555-5309?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“And you are Missss P. Rick Balssssac?”
“Oh! Yes, but it’s pronounced Balzac. The other way sounds like–“
“I apologissse,” said the Great and Powerful Cortoogoo. “I have a cold.”
“Oh! It’s you Cortie! How are ya?” said Rick, forgetting that Cortoogoo just said he was under the weather.
Cortoogoo let it slide. There really wasn’t a better demon summoner and fish saleswoman than Rick. She should have been there from the start, but budget cutbacks meant they couldn’t pay Rick’s rates. Cortoogoo cleared his throat with a long, hacking cough that sounded like a pipe snake clearing a particularly clogged septic tank. “I need you to go to the hotel where the school bus accident and bathroom murder spree happened. I need you to check up on Dick Richards.”
“Oh, poor Dick!” said Rick. “He’s probably stuck in his flask again. I’ll go over and help them out.” So P. Rick Balzac, summoner extraordinaire, put on her signature red leather jacket, picked up her infamous bag of magic tricks disguised to look like a fashionable purse, and grabbed her legendary umbrella of rain slaying. Then, she went out the door of her flat and went across the street in search of Dick.
Carl Maddox had been given strict instructions. He was told to wait in the hotel room and, under no circumstance should he leave the room until he received a call from the front desk telling him that the trunk had been delivered. But he’d been under the impression that it was to have been delivered the night before. Carl looked at his watch: 4:20 p.m. Where was the trunk?
Carl picked up the receiver of the hotel room’s phone and called the front desk. The call was answered after just one ring. “Reception, this is Randy. How may I help you?
“This is Carl Maddox in room 666,” Maddox responded. “A trunk was supposed to be delivered to the hotel last night and brought up to my room, but I’ve heard nothing about it.”
“Oh, Mr. Maddox. I’m so sorry,” Randy said. “It was very late when it was delivered and we didn’t want to disturb you at that late hour.”
“I’ve been waiting all day long to get that trunk, young man. I insist that you have it sent to my room immediately. It’s quite important.”
Randy stammered a bit. “W-w-well, Mr. Maddox,” he said, “th-th-there’s a bit of a problem. I think you should come down to the lobby right away.”
Maddox slammed down the phone’s receiver, threw on his suit coat and left the room, heading for the elevator. Once there, he impatiently pressed the down button over and over again until the elevator arrived at the sixth floor. He stepped into the elevator and pushed the lobby floor button, and the elevator made its way down to the first floor.
As the elevator doors opened and Maddox stepped out, he looked across the lobby and his jaw dropped. “Oh my God,” he said when he saw P. Rick Balzac in her red leather jacket, fashionable purse, and unique umbrella entering the hotel lobby. “Oh my God!”
Maddox knew that if P. Rick Balzac was here, then things had gone horribly wrong. Most times, she acted as the cleaner – and all that implies. At this point, he was no longer concerned about the trunk, its contents, or the plan. His only concern was to disappear before P. Rick found him. He had a feeling that The Great and Powerful Cortoogoo was most displeased with him. He had no intention of sticking around and being punished for the mistakes of others. He was not going to be a demon snack. Then his phone buzzed in his pocket signaling he had a text message. He was hesitant to pull the phone out of his pocket, petrified to see who the text might be from.
The text message said, “Collect the contents of the trunk or be banished.”
Oh crap. Banishment didn’t mean getting kicked out of the Demon Club. It meant being sucked into the extra-dimensional pocket where they all lived. It meant being eaten alive by demons for the next millennium and then some. Carl Maddox was having none of that. He pulled what looked like a compass from his pocket, but instead of the normal direction letters, there was one glowing red dot. Carl aligned the pointer in the direction of the dot, and careful to avoid Rick, ducked out the hotel’s side entrance.
Four blocks from the hotel, the slimy shape that had emerged from the trunk was busy eating the remains of one Elma Bradshaw. Miss Bradshaw made the mistake of leaving her house that morning and walking to work, coincidentally as a maid at the hotel where the slime had first emerged from the trunk. Had she not been running a few minutes late and taken a shortcut through the alley that morning, she would have ended up cleaning Carl Maddox’s room that afternoon. It truly is a small world.
As it was though, she was being eaten by slime, but the slime was no longer slime. In the course of eating at least a dozen people–the demon had lost count–it had begun to take on its true shape. It paused on Miss Bradshaw’s leg as its back began to itch. Wings were coming in. Soon, the demon would be born anew.
At that moment, Carl walked into the alley with his demon compass. It had grown more than he anticipated. He ducked around the corner again and searched his person for something that would collect, but not harm the demon. It would have been easier had he just been allowed to kill it outright, but that wasn’t part of the plan. “This will do… I hope.”
He held what looked like an empty bottle of wine, but on closer inspection, it was no ordinary bottle. With some hesitation, he stepped into the alley again. The demon looked at him and its eyes glowed red. Actually, all of it glowed since it was engulfed in molten fire, but the eyes were the most unsettling part as they were fixed directly on him. The demon began to rise to its full height, which at this point, was something like three stories high. Carl had to hurry.
He recited the incantation, “Klaatu barada nikto!” and uncorked the bottle. With a wooshing sound, Carl was sucked into an extra-dimensional pocket.
The bottle fell to the ground. The demon walked over, sniffed at it, then crushed it beneath its hoof. It glanced back at what remained of Miss Bradshaw and decided she wasn’t worth finishing. The demon flapped its new wings and was happy with the feel, but it wasn’t able to fly just yet; it needed a little more fresh meat first. It sauntered out into the street to get some.
To Be Continued…?
Fish of Gold
To Breathe Is To Write
Silently Heard Once
Not A Punk Rocker
Inspiration In Progress
Nerd in the Brain
Knocked Over By a Feather
Lucy at the Excessive Gardener
Debra at Booking It
Idiot Writer at Idiot Writing
Storm Chaser At Parenting A Teenage Tornado
Eclectic Odds And Sods
Destino at Chasing Destino
Cheney at Blog Apocalypse
Drunk on Life
Love Marriage Worms
food for fun
Notes Tied On The Sagebrush
Fish of Gold
To Breathe Is To Write
Not A Punk Rocker
Just Something I was Thinking About