Like Totally Haunted

Like Totally Haunted 1

Brentwood is scary. Everyone who doesn’t live there knows that. But this place wasn’t scary in the: I’m-gonna-spend-a-million dollars-on-a-sweet-16-birthday-party-scary more just an outright: standing-on-my-own-grave-creepy-scary.

“Why are the lights out?” asked Regency.
“Because there’s no power?” responded Corey.
“Wise-cracking is in my job description,” Regency rolled his eyes.
“I wasn’t being sarcastic. Power’s off on the whole block…which in this neighborhood is like 3 houses,” Corey had long ago given up being overwhelmed from accumulation of wealth. Things like stately homes seem silly when you lead a long life.

The circuit or fuse or thingy, what am I an electrician, had blown the power in this posh area. Not a usual event, but then again, not unheard of either. HOWEVER, when the DWP people followed the lines to the broken source, they entered this stately and abandoned home. Then they ran for their lives!

They made up a whole bunch of reasons why they were NOT going back to fix the problem. A second crew laughed until they too came running out, one of them carried unconscious. Now had this happened in a less affluent area the problem might never be fixed. Or the city would label it as a lost cause until some poor sucker bought the house and made it their problem. But this was rich-ville and the poor boutique-organic-salt of the earth folks, who were slightly inconvenienced, were not about to let ANYONE know their block was not the best block in the blockade! You paid for more than real estate if you live in Brentwood.

To be without electricity was akin to living like an animal and foaming at the mouth. To say you lived near a haunted house might mean you weren’t invited to the party of the season. I am not sure which is worse.

Luckily…or unluckily, depends how you see it, money has a way of finding answers. Sooner than you can say “Oh Buffums methinks a ghastly ghoul is located in the East Wing” Corey’s phone was ringing. De Rigueur I’m so sure!

Subsequently Corey’s unfortunate crew, and Detective Demilla, so as to give a sense of authority, came bumbling to Brentwood in cars that weren’t worthy of the asphalt.

Corey had been immediately aware of “a presence” but couldn’t place it. Nor could he call it forth from the giant house. Slightly unusual for a typical poltergeist. So the gang split up trying to find the what-not or clues to the what-not. Corey was currently stuck, I mean paired, with Regency and a few flashlights.

Regency continued, “So the spirit gets angry and blows out the lights on a block?”
“Apparently.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know and it’s not very bright,” he paused for effect, “nothing? Not even a chuckle at my pun?”
“It would have to be funny for me to chuckle. Ok why isn’t it a smart thing to do. Don’t leave me in the dark!”
“Ha ha ha good one!” Corey smiled.
“No it wasn’t a good one. I was saying a lame-one to show you…never mind,” scowled Regency.
“Well think about it. If you were a ghost trying to live in peace, the last thing you’d do is draw attention to yourself. Which means this spirit is either a newbie, stupid or it wants us to hear him. He wants us to be here! He wants us to DIE!” Corey screamed.

Regency jumped about 16 miles in the air and dropped his light. Corey laughed so hard he snorted, “Now THAT was funny!”

“You. Are. An. Asshole!” he shook as he spoke, “Feel my heart! It’s beating like a sub-woofer at a WeHo tweaker club!”
“Sorry,” Corey didn’t mean it, “Fear just gives ghosts something to feed on. Get a better game face. Relax.”
“You’re not scared at all?”
“Kid, I’ve seen the baddest, nastiest, meanest stuff on this world and a few others. Trust me. I’m not scared of anything.”

Regency’s heart raced again. He loved it when Corey sounded like Han Solo. What would it take? There they were alone in the dark. Practically touching. All he had to do was turn and kiss him. Then Corey would realize how friggin’ hot Regency was and BAM! Boyfriends!

Or he could push him way and make a face that would break Regency’s heart. “Ok Brave One,” Regency fumbled, “I’m going to check on the ladies. You got this.” And he went away before Corey could tell his face was flush.

Leaving Corey alone. Corey wasn’t really happy to be left alone. He was totally scared! He had just been pretending to make both of them feel better. Like when you have to deal with a cockroach, or other gross bug, all manly and brave so your niece doesn’t cry. You don’t want to, but you can’t act like a baby in front of a baby…so you kill the bug. “Kill the bug.” Corey thought, straightened his back and continued to search for the entity. He wasn’t actually afraid of this newbie spirit but alone in the dark Corey could remember what he did fear.

The Haunting of Corey

The battle had been intense. We lost. We knew we were losing right after it started. We were out manned. Out numbered. Out classed. Out maneuvered. It’s not the first time I fought a losing battle. One might say I pride myself on them. It’s easy to say when you’re the only victim.

The town had been run over. Most of it burnt. Even the storehouses. At first, I thought was weird, but quickly learned these guys didn’t want hostages or slaves or food. They just wanted us gone. All of us. We were never to have existed, I guess. I’m sure that’d prove something to someone somewhere but at the time I sure as Jove couldn’t have cared less.

We ran back into…the church you’d call it. To us it was The Holy Place. It was a special cave that led into the mountains. You could hear water but not ever guess its source. You could see light, even at night, inexplicably. And it always spelled like ripe fruit even in winter. You will most definitely laugh at this but at the time such places were called Mother’s Opening. Yes. I guess it’s funny now. But they were as sacred to us as the groves to Druids.

Mother Earth was there and received our offerings and heard our sorrows and praise. I had come to the village a few years earlier in need of a little escape and a whole lot of help. I found it at Mother’s Opening. The Holy Place. And now it was burning to the ground.

Abled men and women were feebly fighting our awesomely powerful enemy elsewhere. They were buying me time to get the priestess, mostly old women, to some semblance of safety. But the enemy divided and followed. We were stuck in the cave at the top of a small hill. The soldiers broke upon us again and again. The Holy Place was not easily defended. We held for a moment or two. We had no choice but to hold. Yes there were tunnels but they went on for days and these were old women, some of whom could barely walk. They looked to me to save them. I didn’t.

The epic detail is long and for another story. The village fell. I, with help, had been able to protect our location for two days. That’s saying something. Shields, barriers, backlash spells and good old-fashioned weapons were dispensed. I held my own fairly well, being more a warrior than these worshipers. Do not get me wrong. The Priestess Crones were formidable but their power was not about harming others. Much magic was thrown at us those two days. I certainly didn’t combat all of it. But in the end training will out. There was no way we were going to last another day.

Caves seem like optimum defenses but they can’t last forever. We could have easily starved to death as our supply…actually offerings to beings greater than ourselves, Goddess help us…dwindled. I didn’t want to die from exhaustion or as an example either. I knew we were running out of everything. I knew this wasn’t going to have a happy ending.

I didn’t want to die in a cave. As the army regrouped to charge the hill of the cave, I handed out what few weapons we had and spells we could conjure to those who could fight. I rallied the priestesses into frenzy. We would not go out easily! We dropped the barrier that was about to fall and ran out. Ran like warriors. Screaming. Defiance. I looked at the eyes of my fellow heroes. They too saw blood. Their eyes empty of the compassion that was their purpose. Eyes that saw their last bit of light. I was the only one to break through. The enemy wasted no more soldiers on me and attacked the cave and remaining women with…with…ambition. On the now deserted field were only eyes. Empty eyes reflecting no souls. Only my stupidity. My hubris. What had I done?

I didn’t want to die in a cave. How could I get a group of old women clear? I needed a distraction. A really big distraction or false trail that would lead the army away and we’d make our escape over the mountains. We’d need three to four day’s lead-time. How would that be possible? I looked in to eyes of these ancient faces and sought wisdom. They returned many things: kindness, grace, compassion and a fear. But none were strategists and mostly their eyes looked to me for that wisdom. They found none. When I disclosed my plans the ancient mothers wept. It was an abomination of the very sacred magick they swore to protect. They’d have no part of it. I called them fools. I told them I would do the spell with or without their permission. The next morning I woke to save our butts and they were all dead. They ended their lives rather than live with betrayal of what they lived for. Their eyes were at peace. For a moment I considered joining them but quickly realized that too would be an abomination. They died with dignity. I just wanted to die.

I didn’t want to die in a cave. So I ran. I left them there to fend for themselves and die.

I didn’t want to die in a cave. There was no way we were wining this. I looked at the faces that surrounded me. Eyes beckoned me to do something. Anything. So….I surrendered. We dropped the barrier that was about to fall. We bent knees and lifted arms. The soldiers dragged us out into the field. The bound us arms up. I assured the crones we would get through this. Their eyes looked at me with trust. Then they started executing us.

One by one. Like some horrible game. I watched the women as they, each in turn, screamed in pain. Their eyes glow and dim. I, their champion, was let go. Mockingly. The soldiers bowed to me. Called me great warrior as they threw rocks at me to run me off. Like a dog. And I ran. And not because of the rocks. Because of the shame.

I didn’t want to die in a cave. So we senselessly took to the tunnels. The first few hours we tried to leave booby traps. Then we stopped when we ran out of resources and hope. We ran 4 days. For the first 2 days we buried the dead. Closed their hallow eyes and prayed for their next journey. Then we stopped when we ran out of energy and hope. On the 5th day I came out on a hillside over looking a lake. I dove in and drank. I was alone.

I didn’t want to die in a cave.

I didn’t want to die in a cave.

I didn’t want to die in a cave.

I play it over and over again. I can’t remember which version is correct. And it doesn’t matter. I think they all are. I failed. It wasn’t the last time but it was the worst. The eyes of the crones are still looking at me. In the dark. Or in a mirror when I’m distracted. At nightfall. Or in ponds. I see eyes. Hallow eyes. My incompetence. Tearful eyes of inevitability. That I was not more than I thought I was. I see them seeing me. Some are angry. Others show compassion, which is worse.

A few years later, driven by vengeance I had a bit of revenge on the army. I’m not proud of what I did to them. But I did it anyway. I thought it was righteous. I thought they deserved it. I thought I merited executioner status. I thought it would give me peace and the visions, the hallow eyes, would go away. It didn’t. It made it worse. It made them more frequent.

LTH 2

“Uhg. What are you doing here?” Demilla protested.
“Corey doesn’t need my help,” Regency didn’t appreciate the lack of appreciation.
“And I do?” Demilla quietly barked.
“Relax woman. I hear you roar. I’m just checking in!”
“Sorry,” Demilla bowed her head and lowered her gun/flashlight thingy, “walking around in the dark makes me jumpy.”
“yea well it doesn’t exactly make me wanna ….wanna…I’m so scared I can’t even pun!” Regency laughed.
Demilla sighed a laugh as well, “then let’s hope the spirit isn’t an ex-nerd or English teacher!”
“You mean it could be possessing me to not pun!”
“I don’t think so. Mostly they want to be left alone. Possessing spirits have to be commanded or at least want something very very badly.”
“Like what?” the conversation made Regency less scared to death…kind of more scared to near-death.
“Like love? Or a final wish? It’s always unique. Once…nah..”
“…no please tell me!”
“We’re supposed to be quiet looking for signs.”
“Yea but if I know more I’ll know what signs to look for.”
“And this is no way because continued conversation makes walking through a haunted dark mansion less terrifying?” She snarked.
“You’re scared too?”
“Duh!”
“Well you’re so tough and stuff….”
“Regency. Come on. Sure I beef it up in front of the guys, but when have I ever been some badass? I’m just a person. We all have sides and masks. And right now I’m totally chicken shit.” she turned a corner flashlight first.

Regency paused. He had always made assumptions about Barbara. Took her on face value. When he stopped to think about it, well except when she was yelling at him, she was pretty nice. He also remembered how upset she was when Corey had been abducted. He wondered why people always made sweeping stereotypes and outlines first and then let the picture fill in. Hadn’t he been victim of similar prejudices?? Then he realized Demilla was still talking.

“…if you weren’t scared you’d be nuts!”
“Corey’s not!” he defended.
“You HAVE to stop pedastalizing him. Yes he has power but he has the same weaknesses as we do. He’s just as scared as we are,” she didn’t let him continue, “regardless of what he says. He’s sacred. We’re scared. The Spirit here is scared. We’re a nightmare of scary things.”
“I’ve never had a nightmare.”
Demilla reverse stepped and shone the light on his face, “What?”
“Never. I’ve only ever dreamed a few times and then I only sort of remember having a dream not the actual thing.”
“You’ve NEVER woke up screaming or panicked?”
“Nope.”
“Wow!”
“Do you have them?”
“Ummm…sure,” she hoped Regency couldn’t see her shutter.
“Are they anything like walking around a big scary haunted mansion?”

“Actually they’re more terrifying. In dreams you don’t think as clearly. You have infinite options in dreamland but, typically, none come to you. You’re just running. Or stuck. Or falling. Or naked.”
“You’re naked?”
“That’s a standard dream for many people…that and teeth falling out, oddly” she laughed.
“So do you…” Regency stopped himself. He suddenly realized he didn’t want to know what scared Demilla. Not now. Not here.

“Go check on Madame.” Demilla suddenly ordered.
“WHY?”
“Because if any of us is going to contact the dead, it’s her.”
“…and again WHY would I want to be near that?”
“Because…” Demilla wanted to be alone in her thoughts. She knew where Regency’s questions would lead and recounting nightmares in haunted house seemed like something characters in really bad horror movies did. “…someone should check in on her and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to come into the basement with me.”

Regency looked at the staircase they had come upon. No. He defiantly was NOT going down there. He watched movies. “Cool. Yea. I’ll check on Madame.” He rushed away.

Barbara couldn’t decide if Regency was the luckiest or most unfortunate person in the world. Dreams were flights of joy. She loved to dream. Even the weird ones gave insight or humor or thoughts. And the price for dreaming is nightmares. She had resigned to that long ago. Yea with her training she could have shut down the dreams, and thus nightmares, but that seemed a coward’s way. And she loved her escapes. She would cope with their cost.

The Haunting of Demilla

How I get there is always different. Sometimes I’m having a perfectly lovely dream before I find the door. Other times the chase is already on and see the door a mile down and know I have to go to it even though, part of me, knows it’s going to end badly. Either way I’m at the door. Sometimes I consciously open it and other times….well I’m just on the other side of the door. You know how dreams are.

But there I am in this stone tower. Spare me the Freud ok. It’s more like the tower card on your average tarot deck. I’m at the bottom looking up. There’s a bazillion staircases crossing above me. There are also sounds, horrible sounds, below me. The scenario is so obvious I roll my eyes.

As I do I notice the cages. Some are metal, like dog kennels, and others are wooden, like shipping crates. Inside are children. Young, like 4 to 6, children who look starved and dirty. Something nags at me to run and leave them. But I’m a sucker for crying kids and can’t leave them to the monsters whose sounds are getting closer.

I free the kids and tell them to stay close. I’ll save them. I’m a cop. I got this! They paw at me, wanting hugs, I need my gun more. I look up at the long journey to the roof. I know, just know, freedom is at the top. Like someone waiting. Or protection. I have to get these kids up these stairs. We ascend. The monsters’ voices ring in my ears.

I turn on a landing and a monster man is trying to block my way. It’s almost human looking. Almost. I shoot. I hit. As the monster grabs its chest I can see its face. Or rather the area that would be a face if it had a face. Most of it is missing. The jaw unattached swings uncontrollably. This explains for the “sounds.” They must be saying something but without jaws or faces it just comes out all vowels and upsetting. I shoot again. I falls. We run faster.

Half way up the 4th staircase it moves. Or rather we move. Or the world moves. Inexplicably I am running down instead of up. We’re headed back down towards the faceless monsters. I want to swear but there are kids ya know? So I just yell “turn around.” The young faces look at me like I’m crazy. Didn’t I say to run this way??? We bound up to the next level. Half way up it changes and we’re running down again. This time I do swear.

A monster leaps at us. Kids scream. I grab it by the throat. Its face snarls, like that’s even possible with only a quarter of a face. It looks like the face has been sawed off. Maybe a piece or two sewn back. The few teeth are broken and crooked but the tongue is there full and fat. It swings unvexed by palette and gums and it lashes out at me.

I will NOT be stopped! I release its neck only to come back harder with a chop to the windpipe. It reels back and I hitch kick it off the stairs and down it goes. I grab young hands and haul up the next flight of stairs.

Again we change direction. But this time I’m wising up. Without a hitch I turn mid step and that keeps us going up. Yes. Fool me twice and whatnot. Six similar stairs, each with a twist, we are going to make it. The monsters are in full force coming after us. But I know, I just know, I can do this. The top is in view. The kids are breathing hard. They have probably never stairmastered. I yell for them to keep up. “Almost!” I yell. Almost there.

Up the staircase suddenly there’s a monster at the opposite end. It’s screaming and flailing its arms at me. It points to the kids. Yea, good luck with that. I grab the kids and charge the sucker. I can’t open fire. I have to reserve ammo. I wait a few more steps to take this bastard down. Then BANG I send the bullet straight at its heart.

But half way to the monster the bullet, inexplicably, turns the other way.

It changes direction and flies back into one of the kids.

It blows his face off.

Cheek, teeth, flesh and blood splatter all over me. The young person turns to me arms flying. Grasping at his non-face. The other children scream. I do not. My arm goes limp. I stare at the child monster I’ve just made.

I’ve made them all. They were warning me. To stop. To leave these kids alone and stop shooting their faces off. I didn’t mean to. I was trying to help. I help people! I grab the kid and try to sew his face back on but it wont listen and the kid wont be still. I shake him. I’m sorry. Let me fix this! Oh please let me fix this!!!

Then all of the kids are faceless. Everything is faceless. They reach out to rip off my face. They pull my nostrils. My jaw is in vice-like hands stretching, breaking skin as it pulls free. They want my face! I scream and shove at them but they’re too small for me to hit. This is what I get! This is what I get! My face comes ripping off……

And I wake up.

LTH 3

Regency wasn’t sure if he should call out to Madame or if that might get the attention of the spirit, entity or ghost or whatever. He whispered her name a few times.

A faint freezing wind blew by. It felt like…something hard to place. Like Jello? More than a draft. It felt intentional somehow and Regency knew, just knew, it was something otherworldly. Instead of jumping or screaming he whimpered.
“mm-mmmaadaaaammmmee pleeeease…wh-where are-r-r- yy-you?”

A hand reached out and grabbed his shoulder!
“Ahhh!” now he jumped.
“SHHH FOOL!” Madame towered over Regency and always slightly scared him, “Silence. I’m tracking spirit.” Which Regency thought sounded really like Elmer Fudd twaking wabbits. But he did not dare laugh out loud.

“Sorry.”
“Did you see it?” Madame asked scanning the room lit only by streetlamps.
“No but I felt a chill…like cold wind and cobwebs….” Regency did a full body shutter suddenly placing the odd sensation.
“Delicious!” crooned the drag queen psychic. “and what did you smell?”
“Smell? I didn’t smell anything.”
“We shall have to work on your perceptiveness should you continue upon the path you are set.”
“What did you smell?”
“Nothing.”
“So what’s wrong with my perceptiveness…”
“Shhh. Tongues are not for lolling. Let us smell where this sprite leads?”

That is precisely why Regency didn’t really like Madame I Ogli drag queen or not. She never made sense. He could handle the moo-moos. Almost. And the make up that looked scary from 10 feet away. (And he didn’t buy that is was magic makeup for the record.) He could even forgive the ratty purple wig. But damn it make sense woman!

“Ahh,” cooed Madame as she touched a spot on doorway, “It’s recently chilled! We’re close!” Regency touched the spot and it kind of felt colder…maybe?…sort of???
Madame continued, “Come little spirit! We have much to discuss!”
“is that a good idea?” Regency gulped.
“We are here to deal with the problem…Philip, are you scared?”
“YES! Stooopid!”
Madame laughed, “Oh you are so adorable I could eat you! Gobble you right up!”
“Ok ewww with that.” Regency backed up a few feet from Madame not completely sure the threat wasn’t literal. “You don’t need to make this any scarier.”
Madame tried to hide her grin. She didn’t mean to enjoy playing with Regency but she just couldn’t help it. The enjoyment.
“Demilla says that we are ALL scared. And you’d be a fool not to be. SO I guess that means you’re not?”
“Your attempt a dig was not worthy of you. But no, I am not scared of a little ghosty. I’ve spent years in the dark. I am quite a formidable weapontress. But I am sure someone, like you, who hasn’t spent much time in the ether and even less with actual ghosts and who never dreams, this would be…”
“How did you…. were you eavesdropping?” Regency looked embarrassed but wasn’t sure why.
“Of course not. DO you dream? That you remember?”
“No.”
“See. Your tether to that realm remains weak. I can see it on you.”
“I thought you said you’d stop making this scarier,” Regency huffed.

They turned a corner again into a huge kitchen. Huge as in: feeding nations huge. Stoves and metal basins ran along the walls for YARDS. Every type of pot or pan from every cooking show ever hung over the center butcher-block isle. Both their eyes fell onto the wall literally covered with knives of every shape and size.

Madame stiff backed, “we do not yet know if the spirit can materialize. We should tread with open senses.”
“You mean it could throw those knives at us.”
“If it can materialize.”
“And the nightmare continues!”
“How would you know, “ Madame teased, “and this isn’t a nightmare it’s a haunting.”
Regency halted, “what’s the dif?”

“Well a nightmare conveys a feeling of desperation and helplessness. We are neither. The spirit doesn’t seem to be in rage does it? Which means it wants. It craves. It haunts. And that you too should be able to relate to.”

Regency tried to pull all of this together, “So it’s all scary but I should be grateful this is a haunt and not a nightmare.”
“No!” Madame sounded offended, “Let me explain it this way. Have you ever lost your temper and so lost control of the heated exchange you said something terrible?” Regency nodded eagerly. Madame continued, “that is a nightmare! To be so out of control like that. But your remorse for hurting someone’s feelings so destructively, well, that could haunt you. And if you did it over and over again, you may very well spend hundreds of years roaming in remorse. Unable to say sorry to those you injured.”
“Or you could get over it!” Regency tried to scoff the touching statement and its implications.
“I think the saddest thing about your generation, dear Philip, is you actually believe you can ‘get over’ anything. Oh well. Why don’t you run along to the staff quarters? I’m sure they are quite safe, as staff in a place like this would never wish to linger, but should be gone through anyway. I will venture to the third dining room.”

Regency knew he was being dismissed and he didn’t mind. He headed down the small hallway to rooms that looked ridiculously small in comparison to the rest of the house.

Madame made a small sad smile at Regency’s back. “To be haunted,” she thought, “is like begging to ‘let go’ on a cliff.” She reminded herself that work needed doing, problems solved and a spirit dealt with. She would not indulge in the luxury of being haunted. That was of another time.

The Haunting of Madame

I was young. Don’t all horror stories start out that way? Tragedy, it seems, is savored for the ends of the spectrum, while comedy embodies the safe center. Not always certainly, not always. But it is true I was very young. And so fair. It is hard to think back without remembering what a beauty I was. It, of course, being a double-edged sword all its own. My fair androgyny had seen me kicked out from, for lack of a better word, home and yet opened many doors. Better doors. Powerful doors whose homes were honored and usually grateful for my beauty and gifts.

But let me get to the story at hand. A hand. Yes. An odd turn of phrase for me.

I was in Europe working as I would in the trade. Fortunes mostly but more lucratively, now and then, the skin trade. Hard to imagine now, I know. Many a powerful man will pay quite the price for a young man with supple hips and skinny wrists. It was no different back then. I preferred fortune telling and general spelling, but times were dark and the arts scared people too much to advertise. And to be honest, when you’re young the idea of some paying you to do what you want to do all the time anyway seems a dream!

It is here I met some of the best friends I have ever had. A motely crew we were I suppose, but we thought ourselves so glamorous. So refined! We weren’t at all. We were just slim boys who, with lighting, passed as girls and we had silk robes and pretty things to prove it. Every morning coffee was filled with gossip, comparisons and hyperbole! My, as you’d say now, bestie was Driana. Adrian became Adriana became Driana. I shall not tell you may nom de slut.

Driana and I were a hoot. We fought and competed over everything. We once went into a tailor shop to be measured to see who had the roundest hips and the smallest wrists! He never let me live that down, though I had revenge when I was larger the one place lady-boys can be manly. Ha ha I go on too much! Perhaps I am avoiding the truth. That would be so like me.

One client was infamous. He was, what Americans would call, a gangster. Not in the current thug way, more in the charming man in rich well cut suits clinging to a chiseled physique, whose smile won hearts. It was, of course, well known he could be horrible. Evil and cruel if his payment was late but to the community and world, he was a swell guy. Swell is a most wonderful word I wish would regain popularity.

Our little fey gang knew both sides of him. His loving smile as he handed over cash and the sneer that replaced it after you accepted. My magic warned me of him and I stayed clear. But some of the boys, Driana included, found it amusing. A tall tale to tell! What were a few bruises with a fist full of paper or a new necklace or robe! I never intervened for their path was theirs and I was younger and they seemed to enjoy it and well, one gives many reasons for not setting friends straight don’t they.

One morning my bestie was not at coffee. A plumpish boy with streaks of eyeliner, ghastly in the morning sun and simply not done, came flying into the café. He brought me to Driana. He lie broken and bruised. His smile missing a tooth, he tried to laugh at his current state. He couldn’t muster the strength. And when such as we cannot gest things have gone too far. Being skilled in the healing arts I did what I could for Driana. Sticking down my anger and rage. All through the day he tried to slip from me. I fought death like a mother bear!

Finally he stabilized. I set Driana’s cot down in front of the fireplace. I stirred and poked the coals with intent. I planned for his attacker. I entertained a variety of payments from impotence to pain. I even entertained even death. I shuttered at that dark art. I, so young but so learnt, had also gained a touch of wisdom on the road to nowhere. That place I would not tread. Instead I found myself in the spot where Driana was often picked up by this man. I foolishly thought a conversation would suffice. I’ll say it again: I was young.

It wasn’t much of a difficult thing to arrange alone time with him. I was fresh meat and though Driana’s wrists were slimmer, I wasn’t exactly shabby. When alone in a small apartment he kept for exactly such purposes, I could smell blood. Literally. Driana’s blood had been spilt here. I wondered who cleaned it up. Odd what enters the mind. He advanced and I stopped him. I told him I was not there for his kink and whim but for retribution for Driana and threatened if he ever hurt one of my friends again he would pay with more than riches.

I have learnt since, it is never bright to threaten a man. Especially one who considers himself top-dog. The smile he shone on me was terrifying. He licked his lips as he struck. I hit the floor faster than I could have dreamed possible. A kick came all too soon as he roared with hate and laughter. The names he called through that smile were contradictory and inherently wrong. He ripped my clothes excitedly as he recounted what he had done to Driana and spoke my future. The rage the absolute rage of him was a fire I caught too easily. I threw him off of me. I had been trained in arts martial as well as magical. I would not be an easy kill. This would have taken a normal man back on his heels, but this fool became even more excited. A new challenge seemed to elicit an even crueler response.

What I did next I chalked up to self-defense for years. Told myself I was cornered by a horrible man in a horrible place and I did what I had to do. That is a lie. Yes he was stronger but there were options before me. I chose not to take them. Blind with rage and fear I called upon the dark arts. I felt it creep into my veins and suck the anger from the room into tangible power. I chanted words I was told only to make sure I never spoke them. And the idiot laughed at me. So I made sure he smiled forever.

I unleashed a force that stamped that hideous laugh into a permanent deranged state. He clutched at his face as I doubled those huge arms and fingers so disproportionately that they lumbered to his sides. And that man-piece he was so fond of painfully ramming I tripled in weight. It strained it against his groin and sent a whole new form of pain to his demented smile. I made ripple times what he was! I made the body reflect the soul: a monster!

His speech and screams were unintelligible with lips pulled back into grimace, but still he threatened and hated me the more. Catching sight of himself he howled like an animal as he lumbered over to the mirror. I left him. Shaking at what I had done. Yet, oddly, to be honest, proud. I didn’t know I could do something like that and I felt justified. As the dark powers released their hold on me, I laughed triumphantly. Justice had been served!

It never occurred to me that this monster may have a home. A family. To which he would return. A wife and two children, who would run in terror from the beast and, in-turn, be slaughtered by the man of the house they were so happy in. I couldn’t have foreseen, or could I, that I had turned a monster fueled on rage and shame into the dark streets. What had I thought would happen? I realized quickly I had never thought of beyond the moment. Revenge never speaks of consequence. And I had, single handedly, created a killing machine.

Theories and ideas abounded in the terrified general public. No one knew the true cause. Few could find the beast. No one could stop it. I knew I was responsible. I knew I had to put him down. I knew too I was the only one who could. That was the first time I went monster hunting.

The beast had a pattern and a trail. I prayed for forgiveness but then too prayed for power. Dipping in again to the darkness, how easy it is, I fortified myself with weapons I knew were wrong. Hadn’t I learned? Apparently not.

He had mostly attacked the unfortunates. Tortured, maimed and sometimes killed those kinds of people…well people like me. I realized he was leaving calling cards. He wanted me as much I now wanted him. I realized where he’d end up later than I should have. I definitely should have known. Should have protected him more. Should should should…

When I tracked the monster to Driana’s room, I became single purposed. Take him down. Bind him, drain him, unhex, whatever I had to do, but he was not leaving that room monster!

I flew open the door making a show of an entrance, but my bravado tumbled into darkness. There were no words for the condition I found Driana. The fire had dwindled. It cast a faint eerie glow upon an already eerie sight. The vile-smiled monster knelt on the floor besides a barely breathing Driana still on the mattress. What was left of him.

Parts of Driana were being clumsily chewed on by the grin. There was no blood. I surmised too fast that as it ripped off a piece of my once-beautiful friend it cauterized him.

The display was a negotiation. The thing looked at Driana then at me. It spoke, obviously having had time to practice with tongue and teeth. It offered me the remains in exchange for a restoration. Driana’s face looked at me and whispered my name. I shook as the monster I had created clutched into my friend who could no longer scream. A decision it wanted. A decision it got.

The darkness did not take me this time. I crammed it into my veins and thrust it through my hearts and lashed it onto my tongue. I spoke the killing words with a calm rage: single minded and single purposed.

I did not know that when you release a killing spell it can, as darkness does, spread to those touching it. No one had ever told me for no one believed I would ever do it. I never, again, stopped to think about cause effect and physics. I destroyed the vessel of the monster and watched, with a witch’s eye, its soul, evil and darker than my creation, howl with rage as it left this plane. Slinking into the darkness. To whatever hell would have such a thing. But it wasn’t alone.

A wisp of a soul was in its claws. Driana looked with horror at the thing that grappled his life essence. A single slender wrist reached out to me for help. Shocked, I reached back but the hand wafted through mine and was gone. I sent Driana’s soul to the evil place with its tormentor.

I am no longer young. I have learned much since then. With zeal I tried to learn about other planes and contacting the dead. All in order to save him. To mend my error. To fix that which so needs fixing. But never have I come close to catching and holding and saving that slight hand that still reaches out to me.

LTH 4

Regency explored the staff quarters with stealth and ridiculous amounts of action-movie-moves. A mouse scampering almost gave him a heart attack, but besides that all four chambers were empty. He went back into the kitchen. The counters were covered with dust. Even the mixing bowls and spoons were dirty. Inches of time left undisturbed. That is until Regency wiped to counter with this forefinger. That’s when he heard a sound.

Was it a laugh or a gasp or just the wind? He looked frantically to the windows and was fearful. They were closed. He had definitely heard something. This time it was accompanied by movement. The knives on the opposite wall were shaking. Maybe twitching. Slightly but definitely moving!

Regency blurted out, “OMGOD girl don’t even think about it!”
And the knives stopped. He didn’t expect that. He pressed his, what he thought was, advantage.
“Look spirit, whatever you think you are. I am not being diced, chopped or julienned today! I will exorcise your ass and I do not mean sweating to the oldies! Do not cross me!”
A slight windless gust crossed over Regency’s face. It felt…like…a…slap? Did spirits slap? Did she just slap him!
“Oh Hell no! You did not just do that! Violence much. You better time out or I will Ninja-Jedi your skanky butt. That’s right. I know a chick slap when I feel it. I got you! Skank! I said it!”

Regency heard a distinct huff sound and then all was quiet. Very quiet. Regency immediately became full of two things: pride and fear. He had stood his ground to a spirit, which equaled awesome. But he had also insulted her and had NO idea what to do if she decided to do more than slap. It was time to find Corey.

He went back through the dining room and as he emerged into the parlor…BLAM!

Demilla was not thrilled to be in the basement but she’d never admit that. It was a huge basement filled with junk. The kind of junk that seems to cast shadows of faces and grins. “Awesome,” she thought.

Her turn around the cobweb ridden, smelly, creepy-as-crap basement was almost, thankfully, complete. Well that’s not entirely true. She had ignored the tarp draped over something in the far corner. It, also covered in a decade of dust, was definitely hiding something. Shapes poked out like a skyline. To top off the creepy factor it also felt wrong. Odd. Out of place.

Demilla had intentionally circled away from the tarp on instinct. Perhaps she thought lifting a tarp in the scary basement to not be a good idea. Its secrets were covered for a reason. Obviously. But, unfortunately, nothing evil had jumped out from the shadows, she was not dead or possessed and the last place to look was under the ominous tarp.

She was about to give herself the ‘ok get it together don’t be a wimp’ speech but instead used her words for a better effect. She spoke the sacred words and cast a small sphere around her immediate person. It wouldn’t stop bullets, that was the function of kevlar, but it would stop some magick. Demilla always felt a bit like a cheater when she used magick on the job. Other cops didn’t have that advantage… “but other cops weren’t in the basement of a creepy haunted house so screw ‘em.”

She approached the tarp. One hand on the gun and flashlight, the other reaching out slowly. To pull it off quickly and jump back or to slowly pull it back and quietly peek, that was the question. Quoting the Bard in a time of crisis is a bad idea. She decided she’d rather die quickly. She ripped back the tarp and re-gripped her gun and flashlight all while landing in a crouch to the side of where she had been. There was a figure!

It didn’t move. It seemed…fuzzy? It was, upon closer inspection, an enormous teddy bear. Presents. A dozen or so, very well wrapped, presents, pink and glittery, stood in the LED light. Demilla sighed. Laughed. Lowered her gun and went to inspect the odd boxes. One had a large label. ‘Happy Birthday’ was written on it. She was reaching out to touch the smallest box in front of her when it happened.

“MINE!” came the scream from behind the boxes and a gale of freezing wind burst out to knock her over. Demilla’s shields held firm and the wind, probably entity, couldn’t knock her down or take her. It just bounced off. Demilla, startled and scared, heard a distinct huff and then…nothing.

“Ok. Ok” Demilla regained her calm, sort of, “that’s that’s that’s Ok time to get Corey. Ok Ok OK.” She ran up the stairs 2 at a time. She turned from the east wing and as she approached the parlor she saw the entity in front of her. She didn’t freeze. She holstered her gun, formed a triangle with her index fingers and thumbs and shouted “Down and Ground!”

Corey had conquered his fear of the past and fear of the uppermost bedrooms. He had even started to joke “here spirit, spirit, spirit…be a good little sprite!” But nothing happened except mood elevation.

The nursery had really creeped him out. Cradles covered in dust was just wrong. Little dolls, every doll you could imagine, placed perfectly on shelves and just left there, staring, was now on his list of things that make you go ewww.

Humor having mostly returned his nerves, Corey tried to process what he was seeing. ‘Ok supposedly haunted house.’ Yes he had felt “something” but that could be any sort or type of malcontent. So far he hadn’t seen any spirit or proof or evidence of one. What he did see was a huge abandoned mansion.

He rumbled thoughts around his brain. Clearly the house was abandoned. It was full of furniture and clothes. As if someone simply left. Or died. But no one? Not a single relative or court appointee came to clear it out? It looked as if it had been empty for a decade or two.

Rich people have a different sense of material goods. Had these people been so rich they just left everything and re-bought the lot? That seemed unlikely. Did the spirit pull an Amityville and scare them away? But what about the one room….

One room Corey entered in the top floor had been packed away. Deliberately. There was nothing save a few packing boxes and a tape dispenser. Why this room cleared? Were they in the process of moving when the ghost arrived? ‘Assuming there was ghost. Uhg.’ Corey’s head hurt. It was time to check in with the others. Maybe they had clues.

He decided to go down the back staircase that led to the staff rooms and kitchen. He hadn’t been down them yet. The looked innocuous enough. Something twitched in his brain. A math problem he couldn’t do. A fill in the blank that was…well, blank. On the second landing he heard it.

A scream. Faint. Not really here. ‘Far away or long ago?’ Corey thought. He backed up the stairs and when he hit the second landing he heard it again. On his third try there was an additional action. A cold wind came at his back and pushed him down the stairs.

Corey caught his balance before he broke his neck. “That was not nice.” He chided the air around him as he heard a soft huff and then nothing. “Ok spiritual evidence accounted for!” he half-laughed and cautiously went down the remaining stairs and through the staff quarters. In the kitchen he saw a movement at the far side.

Silently he followed it. As he entered the dining room, he saw a shape slip into the parlor. ‘I got you now!’ he thought. He quickly followed the path and then saw it. A gleaming bright humanoid figure! He held out his hand and pulled it sharply as he yelled something in a foreign language and the binding spell spun forward trapping its victim!

Madame I Ogli was having no luck! Zip. Nada. She was, frankly, getting bored. The downside to monster chasing were the stakeouts and false leads. If she had a nickel for every time someone insisted their house was haunted when it was just neglected! She wandered down the hall completely unfazed and even hummed a little tune.

The tune hummed a bit louder. What was that song? Isn’t it nerve wracking when you have a song stuck in your heard and can’t get it out? “Bum, bum bum..bumm…what is that!” Madame pondered and hummed. She, however, continued singing away as she walked in a circle. And again and again. Again. And again she circled and hummed. She was about the break out in song….

…when her actions caught up with her brain or rather the opposite and she realized she had been humming a familiar tune much without her own intention. There she was in the foyer now circling and humming a merry tune and about to, showtunes style, break into song? Why? What had forced her…as she came to her sense she saw the glimpse of a young girl in the mirror. Madame stopped singing at jumped back: startled for the first time.

The reflection was her own again. She distinctly heard a huff and then nothing.

What had happened? Oh why oh why had she let her guard down! She had to find this troubled girl. She had to help. But first she’d have to keep her still long enough to make conversation. She knew just the spell. Madame placed it on her lips. She walked to the mirror and inspected it. Just then she heard a high-pitched yell from the room adjacent.

Madame barged into the parlor and flung her spell at the girl. Chains appeared out of nowhere brought the dear thing to the ground!

LTH 5
Regency was not pleased. I’m sure even the most extreme fetishist would not appreciate his triple times tie down. Yet, there he was on the ground immobile. His body was pancaked to the hardwood floor as if by glue. His arms and legs pinned to each other. Oh and a chain wound around him head to toe.

“Regency!”
“Oopps”
“Oh Dear.”

“Madame? Chains?”
“I do enjoy an old standard!”
“Nicely tossed.”
“Thank you dear. And you…ground him to the Earth? Not an easy spell off the actual dirt. Excellent work.”
“My binding was cool.”
“It was lame….”
“What!”
“Seriously Corey. We look to you for inspiration…”

Regency yelled a few obscenities, which, more or less, amounted to get these spells off of me! Apologies abounded and Regency was free. Free to complain and yell and whine and scold for spelling first asking later. Apologies re-abounded.

The crew compared notes. It seems the dilemma was obvious. Almost even to Regency. The solution was trickier.

Madame intervened, “so how do we make her manifest?”
“We could go back downstairs..”
“No.” “Woman are you nuts?” “Perhaps not.” all replied too fast.
Demilla smiled in amusement and relief, “Chickens. Back staircase? I’d rather it be on friendlier ground.”
“With room to work” added Corey. They all paused. Minds whirling.
“Madame,” Demilla had a new thought, “you say you sang a song you can’t recall? Did you dance with the spirit?”
“Why?”
“If you had an affinity with her, maybe she’d…”
“Oh no,” corrected Madame, “I’m quite sure she didn’t like the look of me. I seemed to scare her somehow.”
“I can’t imagine how?” snickered Regency. Corey elbowed him as he added, “and she tried to kill me or at least scare me. Not sure which…did you yell at her? Cause I did!” Regency announced.
“You talked to her?” they all seemed to say at once.

“Well it wasn’t actually a conversation. I ya know, felt a breeze by the mixing bowls and then knives started shaking and I was like oh hell no! Calm your fat ass skank-a-lot! And she was like shake shake shake a butcher knife and I was like bring it biotch! And she like slapped me I was like HELL NO HO! That’s what yer getting for x-mas! And then….”

Regency stopped when he saw their faces. Three slack-jawed, wide-eyed, brow-scrunched faces stared at him in disbelief. “What?”

“so you’d say you have a relationship with…her” Demilla asked. “As though she’d recognize you again?’ added Madame. And Corey chimed in too, “She must like you…that’s that’s good. Great.” Regency didn’t quite realize he was being brought, ushered as it were, back into the kitchen. He spun around as he realized he was being surrounded. “what’s going…” Corey took out the pouch Regency always teased him for wearing, “Yea renaissance powers activate.”

No one laughed. They just handed the pouch to each other and spilled its contents. Before he could argue Regency saw the circle around him.

“NO!” He yelled.
“Don’t break the circle,” Corey commanded, “remember what happened last time?” He was referring to the time Regency had accidentally poked a succubus in a containment circle and thereby contaminated the containment and set it free to eat their faces off. He stood still.

“Is is gunna hurt?” he asked quietly.
“Oh Dear no,” said Madame and Demilla skewed her face into a ‘kind of’ grimace.
“Kid. I wont let anything happen to you. Promise.” Corey said in an awesome Han Solo, “just stay there.”

The three lifted their arms palms-out towards one another. There was silence for a beat. Then Corey mumbled…something like the word circular to Regency’s ears but he wasn’t sure. Obviously the other two had no problem hearing him because in order, Demilla then Madame said it too. There was prickling sensation and suddenly his skin felt tighter and breathing was harder but…smoother?

Corey stepped back and banged the mixing bowl with the spoon creating and awful sound. Regency had never heard a sound that annoying or loud. There was a new ripple on his skin or in his head. It hurt, kind of like stubbing your toe but with your brain. His head jerked back and then Regency was falling. Falling. Falling.

The Haunting of Regency

I’m falling. OMGOD I’m FALLING! Help. Why don’t my arms work? STOP SPINNING! SSSTTOOOPPPPP and they did. Actually all of him did. He landed in a bedroom. It was very early. The sun was that morning color you saw when you woke a bitt too early and started morning negotiations to go back to sleep for a few more minutes.
The room was white with so many pink accents it might have been better said to be pink with white here and there. It was cold. He shivered. He was sad. Crazy sad. He wanted to cheer himself up with a joke but couldn’t remember a single one. Even the New Kids on the Block poster didn’t make him chuckle.

Why am I so sad…but before he could complete the thought a new stronger one arrived: ‘I bet no one even remembered my birthday.’ Regency knew that at some point during the day he’d get a phone call from his, her, father with birthday wishes and a package would arrive later. ‘When Daddy remembers. Like last year.’

He looked at the princess phone in the corner and wondered when it would ring. He looked around the room. The closets were full of clothes that could style a third world country…well if they were a short people with a penchant for pink. ‘They’re all stupid! I hate all of them’ he thought bitterly.

Regency in all his years of alone-time nerd-ness had never felt so alone. Ever. It was a terrible feeling. How could her family not be throwing her a party…and again before the thought was finished, he knew there was going to be a party. Next week at a convenient time for everyone…else. But today, on the actual day, it was just another day to be ignored.

Regency gripped his fist in a desperate attempt to cheer himself, herself up and thought, ‘they love you. They just don’t know how to show it.’ “UURRGGGG” he heard himself swear, “Now I’m hearing that stupid shrink in my own head! I hate him! Yes yes yes ok they love me great! Awesome! I am so totally sure!”

Suddenly regency had a memory of an office, a really nice office, with a man looking at him, her and two adults. They were saying they loved him, her but it sounded like robots saying it. More annoyed robots than parents. ‘Wow this sucks’ Regency thought and again it was answered. “Totally.”

Regency sat in the darkness watching the sun lift its head with a full heart of despair. Maybe there some spell? Maybe he could help? He had called upon the Earth once. It tickled. Would she laugh then? Regency wanted nothing more than to make this girl feel better.

“Charity! Come down!” a pleasant voice rang up for below.
“NO!” he heard himself say.
“Come on birthday girl!” the voice continued.
“No.” he said with less conviction. Why didn’t he, she want to go down…and again the answer? It was bound to end in disappointment. Eggs scrambled the way she liked with a half hearted hug from someone else’s Mom. “I don’t feel well Henrietta!”
“Aw too bad I’ll have to scratch the cake I was making! Such a waste…”

‘CAKE! Did she say cake?’ thought the girl’s head. ‘Yes,’ retuned regency, ‘cake is totally awesome let’s go scarf!’
“I was hoping to have yer help with the frosting.” Henrietta half-laughed, “As I was stirring it, I couldn’t be sure exactly what shade of pink to make the icing! But if yer feeling poorly…”
‘Should I?’ thought Charity’s head. ‘GIRL!’ added Regency full of hope he shared with her, ‘we are gunna eat some pink cake! LET’S GO!’

And Charity ran out of the bedroom and down the back stairs smiling for the first time in a long long time. Pink cake! Down the stairs she ran to the second landing when she tripped. ‘Ouch!’ Regency and Charity laughed as they landed.

They, in one body, jumped up and ran into the kitchen! On the counter was the unfrosted cake. And next to it, in a bowl: ICING! A tiny finger swooped down to taste the sugary-awesomeness. And the finger went straight through the bowl. ‘Huh’ he, she thought. They tried again but her full arm and hand went right through the bowl and counter.

“AAAHHHHHH!!!!” Henrietta’s scream behind them made them jump.

They ran to Henrietta’s wailing “NOOOO!” She was up on the second landing holding something. Like a large doll…or something….she was holding Charity. She had tripped on the stairs and was dead.

Regency’s mind whirled in confusion and loss. He spun to try and find someone to help. He spun again. And again. Again…and he was falling. Falling down a flight of stairs unable to stop himself. Falling. Falling. Falling.

LTH 6

The ritual worked, as Corey knew it would. It was an old, tried and true method. It was easy enough to acquire the props, but Cory had gone to the supermarket to make sure the items he sought were perfect. Actually he pulled rank on Demilla and Madame, both begging to go, because it was all so weird an annoying. Dark magick hadn’t hurt his brain as much as this.

Regency obediently stood in the circle as Corey called forth the entity. Having had a sort of bond with Regency she came right away. A swoop of cold entered the circle and then Regency’s head snapped back. When it snapped forward a new spirit was there. And she was a brat.

“Oh My GOD! People! What the H.E.C.K.! I am totally sure you are not supposed to be here! I am so telling! Am I trapped in a circle? AM I? Whatever! I am freaking out. Are you guys like Ghost Busters, ugly badly dressed fat ghost busters? Obviously you totally do not know who I am! For sure!”

The insults and tantrum went on from there. Charming really. No one was sure if it was more disturbing that the whiney screechy 16-year-old girl’s voice coming out of Regency’s mouth was alien or somehow made sense. Corey stepped away as Demilla and Madame held the circle fast and tried to calm down the spirit. That tactic lasted less then 5 minutes. When Corey returned it sounded like this:

“I so can to exorcise you!” huffed Madame.
“cannot stupid!” the 16-year-old Regency howled..
“Look little girl. I am not telling you again,” bellowed Demilla in her best authoritative voice, “stand down!” Corey ran in as Demilla was reaching for her weapon
“I know you are but what am I?”

Corey finished lighting the ritual candles. A pause fell over the group. Everyone hoped this would work. Corey started the chant. Well, song. Madame sighed in relief as she could now identify the tune trapped in her noggin. The three joined in with as much gusto as they could muster and ended in three part harmony, “…happy birthday to you!”

The spirit jumped up and down and clapped Regency’s hands. The she blew out the candles on the cake outside the circle. Corey, Madame and Demilla eyed one another. She shouldn’t have been able to do that. Corey shrugged his shoulders, “her house her rules?”

“PRESENTS!” barked the girl now known as Charity. Begrudgingly Demilla went back into the basement. This time with no fear, in fact, she was sort of hoping some maniac lie in wait so this nightmare would be over. She brought the presents up as Charity was listing off what she wanted.

“…and if I don’t get New Kids on the Block tickets I will totally freak out! Ohh presents!”

Demilla handed them to Corey wanting no part of this brat’s happiness. Corey stopped not sure of how to get the presents over the protective circle. Not a problem for a 16 year old girl apparently. The present soared over the barrier as if it didn’t exist and she began unwrapping them with Regency’s now-awkward teenage hands. It was even more disturbing.

Each gift was “awesome” and yet somehow had a flaw. The dress was not pink enough. The purse was too old lady (she offered it to Madame). This was not exactly what she wanted. That would do. The enormous Teddy bear was ignored completely. Only the NKOTB tickets made her completely happy. But then she turned around, realizing there were no more gifts, and shouted, “NO PONY!?”

Demilla, Madame and Corey exchanged a look. Was there more? She was supposed to go now. Ya know, cross over. Head to the light and stuff? They looked each other and shrugged. Finally Charity commented, “Umm cake?”

If there was away for Madame to storm into a kitchen with more anger…no there wasn’t. It was pretty much wrath on heels. Returning she purposely butchered the cake Corey had bought and handed everyone a piece. Smartly, she set the girl’s plate just outside the circle. It too crossed the barrier with ease and was shoveled into Regency’s mouth. Charity squealed, “so good! The best birthday ever!” and light shone.

An honest to, dare I say, god light came into the circle. Regency glowed brilliant white for a second, gave a huge smile and then everything went dark. Corey caught Regency as he stumbled out of the circle with only one spirit remaining.

Demilla protested, “SHE gets to go to heaven! HER?!?! Oh nothing is fair!”

The clean up was fast. Phone calls were made. DWP returned. All was put right and bright. Brentwood was safe again.

It wasn’t until after saying goodbye, as Demilla and Madame drove away, that Corey realized Regency hadn’t said a word since the circle. That in itself was probably an omen of the apocalypse. Corey turned to joke Regency. He knew that possession was invasive and his best way to deal with it was humor. But when he saw the wetness in Regency’s eyes he stopped.

“What’s up?”
Corey listened as Regency recounted to whole haunting, “…so it was me. I made her run down those stairs…I killed her…”
“Regency,” Corey put his hand on Regency’s shoulder, “you were reliving a memory not time-travelling. Your voice was probably the voice in her head, in all of our heads that tell us things can get better. It was the sound of care. You did NOT kill her.”
“Are you positive…cause it feels like I did…” Regency was new to remorse and it was painful to watch.
“Yes. As positive as I can be.” he cut Regency off, “And I can be really positive of things. It was a horrible accident. That’s all. Despite what Demilla says, she might have been a brat, but no, she didn’t deserve it. It was bad all around. I figure the staff started cleaning and packing her room but the family couldn’t deal and just…moved. The death of a child has a horrible impact on everyone involved. It devastates. And now it seems to have effected you. I’m sorry you had to re-live that.”

“You think she was a brat?” Regency said somewhere between question, concern and defense.
“Big time!” Corey laughed, “Don’t you remember what you said? Ordering us around. Complaining about everything. And she was MEAN! I mean like mean-mean. Yes. I think she qualifies as a super brat! And I thought you were going to be the biggest brat I ever faced!”

“Wicca please,” Regency mumbled trying to joke, “I have not begun to brat!” Regency turned back at the house, now dark and empty. He could feel something. Some pain lingered. It made him sad all over again, “She wasn’t a brat. Not really. She was just a kid. A kid who wanted her birthday cake.”