Residual Fear 1 of 8
Kablooey went the beast. Maybe more of a Galroop-Pop sound went the beast. Kablooey makes it sound silly and cartoonish. None of the victims were going to find anything funny for a while. At best they’d be tortured with fiendish nightmares and daydreams for months if not years. At worst, they’d be trapped in their own private hell as every fear personkind has invented and evolved to hate wormed through their brain and before their eyes. Some immobile, like a waking coma, infested with imagined terror for life. That’s what Fear-demons do. And although this one just went Kablooey or Galroop-Pop the real damage was only beginning.
One would imagine that kids would be the worst victims. Traumatized for life and whatnot. And it’s true some would suffer. Hell-beasts aren’t known for sparing children. But children have a way of coping that adults never would. Their brains are still processing the world and figuring it out. Adding some information, like another language or, in this case the existence of monsters, just sort of goes into the equation and is made sense out of. (And p.s. kids already know there are monsters, it takes a lot of work to convince them otherwise.) It’s the adults that get the worst of it.
As adults we’ve defined our worldview. We’ve long since settled on the who’s and how’s and why’s and have a grasp on “the possible.” The tangible, undeniable proof of horror wrecks havoc with our core understanding. It happens even with the slightest whiff of magick. Mortals tend to stay clear, ignore and simply not notice the ethereal around them. They have decided it doesn’t exist. Now put that well-adjusted adult in front of a demon and forget about feeling adult or well-adjusted. Now make that demon a Fear-demon who is actively trying to mess with you? Your brain gets scrambled. You see, or rather think you see, horrible things like your children being violently harmed. You might see monsters eating your skin. Or spiders spinning your family into webs and sucking them dry. Or maybe old guilts resurfacing to your bitter end. You feel, smell, hear, or think you do, every sensation at the violation. Every sense that you’ve spent your life relying on, now tells you this atrocity is happening; over and over and over again. Some will spend the rest of their lives in this state. It’s torture for their families as well.
This is not what one expects when one visits The Grove. One might want to catch the latest movie or shop till they drop, or eat an assortment of goodies at the Farmers’ Market food stalls. One does not expect one’s life to come to a screeching and horrifying halt.
The Grove was unusually crowded, which is saying something, but special family fun days bring in the Angelenos and strollers. The open-air mall was covered in toddlers and annoyed moms of every ethnicity. A few dads stood in the fray and helped negotiate the pre-chaos chaos. The famous mouse was going to sing, dance and teach about healthy eating. What could possibly go wrong with songs about vegetables being sung by a falsetto rodent?
The music started and an emcee came out to rouse the already rowdy children. A television actor/singer came out to…lipsynch and wave relentlessly. Then came three young ducks who were eating sweets. To reprimand them, a giant, like huge, plastic head appeared. Two round black ears popped up and then the oh-so-happy eyes, nose and smile rose from behind the young ducks. It started to sway and sing about healthy choices when things went terribly wrong.
Disney Junior Day went as badly as a family event can go. The hot air lifting the giant-head-balloon was apparently too hot. The mouse melted in front of a few hundred happy kids and their strollers. His ears fell into points and his face became a horrifying grimace. His eyes glowed red. No trademark could endure this rebranding. Macabre-Mickey scared the hell out of the assembled crowd. Literally. Meaning the screams were so loud, the terror so real, that a gateway to hell, well a hell-like dimension, found an opportunity to open. A Fear-demon entered our world. At The Grove. At 2 in the afternoon. In Sunny L.A. The sad part is this isn’t a metaphor.
Panic just made the demon stronger. A lot stronger.
The mall cops were not qualified to handle the chaos that followed. Nor were they even remotely capable to deal with a giant Fear-demon. The Grove luckily had a very thorough terrorist evacuation procedure that saved many lives. People were ordered to walk by a very loud P.A. system. People responded orderly. They walked, kind of briskly, out of The Grove and poured onto neighboring streets as the police arrived and formed a perimeter. Thank goodness for fire drills and the human need to follow directions.
Regency saw it all on one of his many news feeds.
Demilla heard it on radio.
Madame felt it.
Corey was at The Grove buying a Catfish Po’boy (which btw are delicious).
A lot of things went down all at once. The logistics were a nightmare. Corey hid behind a pizza counter until the coast was clear. Found the Fear-demon in Anthropologie and called Demilla. (Normally this would be the perfect place to mock Anthroplogie for existing but there isn’t room in the very dramatic narrative.) Demilla was already on her way with the rest of LAPD. Madame and Regency weren’t far behind. The problem was not necessarily the Fear-demon. He was easy enough to kill. Well…if you were Corey. But he needed help. Getting Detective Demilla inside was near impossible. Getting a computer geek and a drag queen through security was never going to happen.
Corey was talking to Demilla loudly, “I need you guys!”
Demilla, “I get that but I am way out of my league here! Can you do it alone?”
“Maybe” Corey hesitated, “but if I screw it up it could be worse…”
“How much worse?”
“ummmmm D-day?” Corey tried to find a correlation to evoke panic.
“We won D-Day?”
“yea…” Corey was annoyed, “…finally!”
The problem facing Demilla was obvious. You can’t just walk up to the person in charge and say it’s a demon and we’re the only people who can handle this! Or can you? In fact the reverse happened. And it was almost as terrifying as the Fear-demon.
Residual Fear 2 of 8
News crews, National Guard, LAPD, FBI and tons of people who didn’t know better than to leave a crime scene, surrounded the huge mall on all sides. Yet in all this chaos, a man with a grey suit calmly walked right up to the Detective.
“Detective Demilla?” said the grey man. He waved a badge of some sort.
“Yes sir?” she responded as innocently as possible.
“Come with me please,” and without another word he walked away. She followed. Nervously. She ended up at a black SUV where a man in a blue suit rolled down the window.
“Detective Demilla?” said Blue suit.
“Still me” she quipped.
“What do you know about the situation?” Blue continued.
“Well sir,” she played it straight, “terrorist action of some kind….”
“Don’t jerk me Detective!” Blue’s mouth tensed. He seemed to be the kind of man who had no time for nonsense. “I’m with, what you would know as: Delta. I’m going to ask you again: WHAT is it?”
Demilla hemmed and hawed she loomed over her shoulder. She was suddenly afraid. So she wasn’t as far under the radar as she thought.
“DETECIVE!” snapped the Blue man.
“Fear-demon sir.” The words flew out with the order. Trained to obey overrides self-preservation in any warrior.
“This is a disaster.” The Blue man stated the obvious, “how do we kill it or whatever it is you do to a Fear-demon?”
“Ummm..I have man inside. I need to get me and two others inside as well. Give us 20 minutes.” Demilla couldn’t believe she was telling anyone this information, let alone some suit with nothing more than a code name.
Less than 6 minutes later a computer geek, a drag queen and Detective Demilla go into a mall…. None of them thought anything was funny. Everything they did was somehow more important and twice as scary.
Corey met them. He calmed their panic and helped everyone to breathe, “we’ll deal with the suits later. Trust me. I’ve always known they know. As have you guys on some level. They always know. Somewhere people in charge know”
The other three tentatively agreed.
“So,” Corey continued, “nothing to freak out over. Just a confirmation of info we already knew. Let’s get this beastie and get out!”
The demon was ripping through the wall to Ban-Rep. It obviously hated fashion. Wouldn’t you claw your way out of Anthropologie and go to Ban-Rep? It also gave the gang more space to work in. The Fear-demon was huge. 13 feet tall and weighing close to ½ a ton. It’s hard to describe because it’s fear. As soon as you get “used to” one face or description it would change. It constantly morphed into new hideous images. Fun.
Corey’s plan was simple. Magick is always simple, the intent is the hard part. Each one would take an element and form a circle to bind the Fear-demon. Corey had taken some of the necessary elements from the food stalls. He assumed they wouldn’t mind.
Demilla stood West. She held a bottle of water.
Madame guarded North. She held dirt, oregano and garlic in her hands.
Regency, scared as shit, shifted his weight uneasily to the East. He held a really ugly crystal necklace from Anthropologie. Corey comforted him, “you are new beginnings, kid. Tell yourself this thing has no tomorrow!” Corey knew the Han Solos speak would help. Regency got brave.
Corey grabbed the energy of the South. He suddenly went on fire.
That got the Fear-demon’s attention! It turned and circled, scanning all four. It roared as it felt invisible barriers slam around it. It punched and spat onto its new prison. The energy walls shook but the gang stood harder. It looked at Corey. Its face changed to something so horrible any sane person would scream and run to someplace far far away.
Corey laughed. He had seen it before. He announced, “Go! You will leave or I will send you away! You have no place here! Be dismissed! Your wickedness is spread. Go! Be sated in anger or I will banish you to beyond where wickedness is terrified. GO!”
The Fear-demon seemed to wavier in its decision. Corey waited. Any demon leaving via its own choice was a lot better than forcing it away. In general a non-violent end is preferable to the alternative. Triple so in magick.
The Fear-demon threw back its head in some sort of laughter and mentally pushed at the boundaries again. Regency stepped back but held firm. Corey knew the newbie wouldn’t last much longer. “Very well then. You have been told thrice!” Corey yelled something Greek sounding, like Aristophanes but not really, and created in his hands a giant ball of blue fire. The demon, who didn’t really have eyes, got wide-eyed somehow. It screamed, it did have a mouth or two, and threw itself towards Corey.
Corey dismissed the circle and hurled a few hundred years of magick at the beast. And the Fear-demon went Kablooey and/or Galroop-Pop. It blew up and splattered away. All over the sale items, new arrivals and the four witches. They were covered in plasma but the thing was gone.
But that is by no means the end of the story. Fear stays with you and does…well, fearful things. Corey, Madame, Regency, Demilla were about to receive the consequences of heroism. Poor bastards.
Residual Fear 3 of 8
Demilla calmly, kind of like a spaghetti western at sunset, walked out the mall and onto the now silent Beverly Bld. She walked tall albeit covered in slime. A zillion faces seemed to be trying to get a glimpse of her. She quietly approached Blue’s SUV. Grey interrupted, “where are the others?”
“Gone out the back,” she smiled, “they did their job. No reason to detain them. Right?”
“I’m not sure that was your…”
Grey got interrupted by Blue re-rolling down his window and cut him off, “Jesus Thompson show some gratitude.”
“Sorry Detective,” Thompson in grey said humbled a took a step away.
“I get it,” Demilla didn’t need him humbled to her, that was bad politics, “we’re cool.” Demilla did happen to notice Thompson quietly speaking into his walkie. Had she heard ‘watch the back.’ Maybe?
“So,” Blue continued, “is it gone? We heard a kind of weird galrop-ing noise…”
“It’s gone,” Demilla wanted out of there, “all of it. Nothing but some plasma if you want some?” She offered her drenched hand.
“No thanks.” Blue almost smiled, “nothing left hmmm….”
Demilla was ready for the “no body” problem. She and Corey had concocted a ridiculous idea to blame the disaster on, “apparently the mouse-head-balloon exploded and released some kind of gas, not toxic but dizzying, and people panicked. Unfortunately a seeing-eye dog was affected. Went nuts poor thing. We had to put it down. Give the site 20-30 minutes to…um self-clean? And it can be taken by animal control…if ya know…you have a few pillows and blanket…”
Blue actually laughed, “nice! There’ll be pics and maybe video all over the web…”
“I’m sure you can handle that. We’re already on it as well, Sir” Demilla smiled back.
“Regency is one of the best…” Blue didn’t accidentally let Demilla know he knew her associates, maybe he had offered a little quid pro quo? If he knew about magick he was covering his butt. He continued, “well seems I made the right call. Good for me.”
Demilla gulped. She thought of about a thousand questions. A million things she needed to clarify. But instead she looked him in the eye and quietly responded, “we’re all on the same side Sir.”
“I know that Detective. I really do,” Blue went back to formal, “Anything else to worry about?”
“Not for you” Demilla again referred to the slime all over her, “I need a shower and have to get ready for any residual effects…”
Grey jumped farther away, “residual?”
Demilla thought about reaching out the touch him like little kid with cooties but thought better of it. Instead she explained what Corey had told them all, “apparently, this plasma everywhere has trace “vibes” or whatever, and it can cause hallucinations….temporarily. Apparently…if you believe that sort of thing. So give the site 20 minutes and you should all be fine. Gas remember?” She wiped some slime on her shirt.
Grey had now moved three feet away and Demilla was pretty sure Blue slid a bit farther into the SUV, “Good job Detective.” He rolled up the window, which seemed to move faster.
“Later.” She nodded to Grey. Demilla was pretty darn happy with herself. It was handled. And there was some comfort in knowing the Feds were on her side even if the LAPD was sometimes not. She covered her car seat in a blanket from the trunk and drove home pleased with a job well done.
“Ow!” Corey hissed at Regency, “Stop stepping on my foot!”
“We ARE invisible ya know!” Regency snapped back.
“SHHH!” Madame scolded.
The three of them were under Corey’s invisible-wall. They had slowly crept out just behind Demilla. She’d make a sort of grand exit to the Feds and they would, hopefully, not notice the invisible threesome sneaking away. The inviso-wall, as Regency called it, was good but not perfect. Someone staring, or looking for them, might see strange things, like objects, maybe a fire hydrant, move out of sight and then back into view. It wasn’t easy to control what got invisible as they walked. So they moved with the setting sun praying to get the heck out of dodge without making a federal case out of it. Literally.
After the Fear-demon exploded, they had all decided they did not want to be questioned. At all. Ever. Hence the use of almost invisibility. They also came up with a plan or rather excuse or reason for the calamity. Basically they would blame the mouse, but hey, he owned a world and a kingdom, he could handle it.
Corey had also warned his friends about the possible post-traumatic affects of a Fear-demon and the plasma it spewed. The horrible images it morphed into would not be easily forgotten. They had a way of borrowing into your psyche. It wanted you to remember it. You would be “jumpy” he said. Little things like a creak in the floor or door would seem terrifying. “BUT” Corey warned, “we probably all ingested a bit of fear plasma. So it’s going to be intense!”
“INGESTED!” Regency spat.
“Yea,” Corey continued, “it’s going to seem really real. Hang on and breathe through it.”
He told them to check their imaginations. Remind themselves continually that everything was about to look worse than it was. “Use and operate through cynicism and common sense.” He even gave some examples from simple ones like, “the spider crawling towards you is probably not there. DO spiders normally grow that big? No? Then it’s not real. Ignore it.” He assured Regency about 64 times that it couldn’t actually hurt him. Then he got into hardcore examples, “if a clown jumps out at you from the back seat or closet, remind yourself there are no clowns in your back seat or closet and ignore it.”
“Umm…” Regency gulped, “two things. Ignore it? How the hell am I supposed to ignore a killer clown? And 2 what if it’s really there!”
“Then you’re probably dead,” answered Madame laughing at the whole affair.
They invisibly slipped between two police barricades. In midst of the crowd Corey lowered the shield.
“Well done dear!” Madame laughed. “Don’t fret Philip. The fear will only last a little while!”
“Where are you going boss?” Regency asked.
“There’s work to be done.” Corey said mission-like. “These people have been traumatized. I know a few spells that might be able to help them. Maybe coax them out of the most severe images…..”
“Can you help me first?” Regency did not want fear at all anywhere! “Spell me up!”
“You’ll be fine. You’re smart. Capable.” Corey continued, “Some of these people got the full brunt. They might already be in comas. I have to try and help them before they fall too far into madness.” And Corey ran off to help the innocents.
Madame wished she was still invisible. People were staring at her. Many laughing. She was tired and dripping plasma. She wasn’t sure how she looked but she imagined it couldn’t be as laughable as some of these creatures thought. She frequently hated people en masse. ‘Oh well’ she said to herself, ‘and still I saved the lot of you!’
Madame wasn’t sure how to get home. The place was packed with people. Walking would be problematic due to the crammed streets.
‘What kind of sicko wants to hang around for a terrorist explosion?’ she thought, ‘stupid humans!’
The busses had been closed down. Traffic was at standstill. She decided to brave the Metro. L.A.’s slowly but surely attempt at becoming a real city with actual public transportation. She whipped out her favorite magickal device: her smart phone. Ever since Regency sat her down and explained how it worked, Madame was hooked! She clicked and pressed and voila the map showed her where to walk and when the train would arrive! Walking to the Metro was difficult but she held her head high and pushed merrily through the throngs of mortals. She took a short cut down an old alley.
A black cat hissed at her. She laughed, “nice try Fear-demon. It takes more than that to scare Madame!” She passed by the cat who looked slightly disappointed.
At the end of the alley a police car pulled up. A young looking officer leaned out his window, trying to not laugh, “You must be Madame I..um…. eee…ogling?”
“Madame I Ogli,” she corrected, “may I help you?”
“Yea well how many purple wigged drag queens is a guy supposed to see in an afternoon.” He laughed. Madame did not. He felt bad, “sorry I was just fooling. Detective Demilla sent me. Told ne to give you a lift.”
“I am not accustomed to getting rides from strangers…” Madame was weary.
“Hey if you wanna walk fine by me,” the officer looked relieved, which pissed off Madame a bit, “just make sure you tell the detective you declined. I did my job!” He started to pull away.
“WAIT!” Madame suddenly realized just how tired and filthy she was. “I’ll take the ride young man.”
“Great,” he said unenthusiastically. And Madame sped off in a police car happy to be done with it all.
Regency was very nervous and decided he did NOT want to be alone. He walked along the very crowded street. He tried to hail a cab but wasn’t sure where he’d take it. He was tired and lonely. So alone. Why was he always so alone? It’s like no one would miss him if he just died….maybe he should…. “WHOA!!” Regency said aloud realizing he was being affected. ‘Common sense and cynicism’ thought Regency, ‘I am not suicidal. Back off plasma!’ Wow the Fear-demon’s juice was crazy strong. Regency needed human contact: stat!
He walked into the closest bar. He ordered a beer. Dropped a ten and went in the bathroom to clean up a bit. Slime is slimy. He was using most of the paper towels when a voice came from the stalls, “hey buddy?” followed by a tapping of toes.
Regency was no newbie at cruising. He didn’t approve but was usually flattered, “Hi.” He said politely.
“Wanna come in?” said the disembodied voice with an emphasis on come.
“I’m good. Thanks.” Regency cleaned up the rest of himself.
The voice got mad, “you rejecting me faggot?”
Regency gulped and grabbed the door. He ran outside to the bar and looked around. Everyone was laughing at him. Pointing at him. Screaming and heckling! “Hey look! That faggot was doing IT in the bathroom!” or “PERV” or “gets AIDS yet?”
“STOP IT!” Regency screamed.
A hand reached out to his shoulder, “Sir?” Regency pushed it off and backed away.
“Sir?” said the bartender, “are you ok?”
Regency saw that everyone was still staring at him but with looks of confusion. He realized he had just screamed “stop it” at the top of his lungs for only imagined reasons. Or rather, reasons he feared. He gulped, “yes…sorry…I…ummm…I’ll go.”
Regency ran out of the bar embarrassed and shaking. This Fear-demon shit was real! He did NOT want to be in public. He ran to the street and hailed a cab. He got it in and purposely asked the cabbie to take him home via the long way home. He had to pull it together.
Residual Fear 4 of 8
Det. Barbara Demilla drove home quickly as possible without using the siren. She needed a bath faster than you can say “yuk I’m covered in slime!” She wasn’t a neat freak, insomuch as she wanted this crap off her yesterday. Demilla was all too familiar with spells and demon remnants haunting your dreams and waking hours. She pretty much considered bathing a code 1.
She flew into her driveway and kept her eyes closed as she unlocked her door. She only stopped for a moment when inside her home back against the door. “Made it.” She let out a sigh. She had been terrified she would do something stupid and/or dangerous in public: like think she was shooting a monster and kill an old lady. She knew how fear worked. But she was smart and therefore: afraid.
Possibly more afraid of what might happen than anything that did happen. “Fear itself…” laughed Barbara. She took a deep breath and went into the bathroom. She fought the urge to look into each closet and behind every door. That would simply feed the fear. She was too tough for that.
“Gosh DARN IT!” Demilla half swore. The water in the shower was freezing! She stood naked and shivering. She reached down and smacked the faucet. “Stupid water!” and suddenly the water became warmer. Then hotter. Then scalding! “OW!” Demilla jumped to the back of the shower and out of the steam. Before she could guess ‘what the hell’ she started laughing. “Nice try Fear-demon! I’m not afraid of water!” But then she second guessed herself. What if this wasn’t a Fear-demon making her think the water was too hot? What if it really was boiling? Was she going to give herself third degree burns to spite what might not be there? She hated being bullied but she hated the idea of burns more. But maybe the water initially wasn’t cold she just imagined it was and she was already burnt? Was she covered in BURNS! “Oh My Gods Relax!” she yelled to herself.
It was supposed to have been the longest shower ever. Like Guinness long. She sighed. Shook her fist at an imagined enemy and got out of the shower. Put on her robe and using the floor towel picked up the clothes she had been wearing and brought through the kitchen and into the laundry room. She had been expecting giant beasts or one-eyed monsters under her bed and all she got was hot water. “Ha.” Demilla tried to find the humor.
She heard the door open, “Barbara?” a voice gently asked. ‘Ahhhh’ thought Demilla as she smiled and she immediately felt safe. Amanda was here. Amanda her sweet smart and sexy girlfriend. Everything would be cool. “In here!” Demilla called.
Amanda tall and elegant, caramel skin and sultry brown eyes, wearing a grey suit that hugged her in ways that made Demilla jealous, swayed into the kitchen. “You’re bit early,” laughed Demilla, “hang on I can throw on some clothes…or ya know, just take them off?”
Amanda didn’t laugh. She looked down and back up, “we have to talk.”
Corey wasn’t sure which hospital to go to. Luckily he didn’t have to go far. They brought the hospital to The Grove. Tents and trucks were everywhere and crammed with people. There were so many victims how could one choose? He had wandered into the make shift triage and tried to look inconspicuous. He was pretty sure, “Hi I’m a witch with healing powers here to help” wasn’t going to go over real well. He also wasn’t totally sure his spell idea would work.
In theory all he had to do was pull out the spell…kind of. It would depend on how deep and how meshed the bad-mojo was in the victim. If he could get the victim to relax, let go and be at ease, but NOT asleep, he could see what was real and what was not. If was lucky the energy would look like a helmet or maybe even a small, yet significant prop held in the victims hand. Once he had removed an evil-energy teddy bear from a magickally-infected child.
Or it could be worse. If the energy had blended into the very fabric of the being, like on a cellular level, there was little Corey could do but pray. And oddly, prayer had worked. There were a few Ancient Gods who still cared. He swore looking at the hundreds of people lay out on the ground. He would try anything.
Corey spoke the words that made him almost invisible and unnoticed. He gently moved through the crowd of medics, EMTs, doctors, nurses and apparently anyone else with any kind of medical training swarming over the bodies. “No, not bodies,” he reminded himself, “people.”
He found a pop-up tent filled with children. They must have been isolated from the media. It was horrible. The 20 by 20 blue box was eerily lit by a harsh hanging bulb. Corey wasn’t sure how you should light a plastic box filled with traumatized children but he hatred that bulb. ‘Calm down or you wont help anyone,’ he told himself. Two nurses and a guard with what seemed to be an uzi, squatted down and checked pulses and shared glances. Most of the kids were silent. One or two were whimpering. He decided to start with the whimpering girl with clutching her chest in pain. She was at his feet and on the other side of the tent from the three attendants. He had to start somewhere. DO something.
Corey knelt down and whispered, “it’s ok I’m here to help you. My name is Corey.” He held out his hand and touched the girl’s forehead. He said the magick words to relax her. It was an easy spell. First you teach yourself to let go and relax and then you do it to other people. He had been doing this spell for…well a really really long time. It was easy.
Madame prayed the officer wouldn’t want to make small talk. She didn’t feel like explain: why she wore what she did or who she was or if she was a fraud. She just wanted to go home and relax. She wished she could have helped Corey with the victims but that kind of healing was out of her league. Now if it had been a spirit possessing those people Madame could have kicked ectoplasm!
She laughed at the phrase. Regency, dear little Regency, was rubbing off on her. How delish! How proud she was that he had held his own in the face of that Fear-demon. Even she had been afraid. The beast morphed and changed into hideous forms. They had all, yes even Corey, taken a step back as the Fear-demon turned towards them. It yelled and shrieked and cried, hurting your ears. But they had all stayed strong. Stronger than that thing from the Deep! What a team they were becoming. Yes yes yes, they had definitely kicked ectoplasm! Madame stifled a laugh.
“What’s so funny?” said the police officer up front.
“Oh nothing,” Madame didn’t want to seem callous, “nothing at all. Terrible tragedy really. I suppose I’m just on edge from it all.”
“What exactly do you think happened?” continued the officer.
Madame was afraid of this. She couldn’t tell him the truth. Mere mortals and scared little hominids were not prepared for gateways to hell and residual fear juice. They would never, hopefully could never, grasp it. So Madame lied, “gas leak.”
The officer snorted, “you’re lying.”
Madame was taken aback, “I don’t know what you’re talking about young man!”
“Yes you do,” the officer smiled into the rear view mirror, “you’re telling me what you think they want to hear instead of what you believe happened? Aren’t you?”
Madame didn’t know if she was being played, but then again, maybe this fellow was in the know? Maybe he had a touch of the spirit realm in him. He seemed honest enough…
“Tell me. It’s ok,” he reassured.
“Well…,” Madame despite herself couldn’t resist a good story, “We battled a Fear-demon from the nether world!”
“That’s what I thought you thought!” laughed the officer. “Doesn’t it feel better to be honest?”
“I suppose,” replied Madame.
“They can’t help you if you aren’t honest,” he calmly quoted.
Madame smiled. Then her brows knitted, “They? Who are they?”
Just then Madame realized she had not been heading home. She didn’t recognize where she was. Through the window of the police car she tried desperately to get geographical grip, “WHERE ARE WE?!?!”
The nice young officer hushed her, “You’re home.”
And the squad car pulled into Los Angeles Psychiatric Center for the Criminally Insane.
Regency’s cab pushed slowly through traffic. The cabbie seemed to pay no mind that Regency wanted to take the long way home after Regency promised him a decent tip. Regency was nervous. He was afraid. He told his brain to shut up. He rolled down the window then rolled it up. He took out his cell phone then decided against it. He wanted to cry.
“You ok?” said the cabbie.
“Umm yes. I don’t mean to be rude but it’s not a good idea to talk right now,” Regency gulped.
“Your call,” said the cabbie as he went on, “I just want to make sure you aren’t on drugs or gonna puke in my car or anything.”
“No I won’t,” Regency hoped he wasn’t lying, “It’s just been a rough few hours.”
“Yea the gas leak..”
“Please don’t talk to me!” Regency snapped. The cabbie went quiet.
Regency sighed. Maybe it was over. Maybe that restaurant nightmare had been to worst of it. Regency felt it was so Regency to get all worked up over nothing. And now he was being a jerk to this poor old cab driver for no reason. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
“All good.” Whispered the driver as he threw up his hand in defeat and was silent again.
Something about that gesture gnawed at Regency. It was familiar. He tried to look at the driver through the rear view mirror. He met the cabbie’s eyes for a second but turned away guilty. The last thing he needed was the cabbie thinking Regency was flirting with him.
Regency’s eyes fell on the license in the window. He gulped audibly. He started sweating. The cab was moving quickly down the boulevard now maybe he could jump out at the next light? He licked his lips, “pull over!”
“You sure? Not a great neighborhood….”
“I’m sure,” Regency was shaking, “PULL OVER!”
“That’s a real bad idea son.” The cabbie’s voice seemed kind.
“Don’t call me that?” Regency gulped again.
“Why the heck not?” the cabbie turned around and half-faced Regency. The cabbie was older. He had laugh lines and wrinkles. A few age spots formed at his receding hairline. His eyes seemed a bit dull but not in a dim-witted way. He looked…..he looked a lot like an older Regency.
Regency’s eyes and mouth were wide with fear and something else…something like expectation, or longing. He spoke in a whisper, “Dad?”
“It can’t be.”
“Why the heck not?
Residual Fear 5 of 8
Demilla leaned back against the door jam of the laundry room. Something in Amanda’s manner upset her. But of course anyone who has ever been in a relationship loathes the words “we have to talk.” It always means one thing. Well that’s not exactly true. Sometimes the phrase means “I need space,” or “we should see other people” but isn’t that ultimately the same thing? Demilla knew this but pushed it out of her mind. No way would Amanda be breaking up with her. ‘Maybe she has cancer?’ crossed Demilla’s mind in a manic and macabre need for anything other than the obvious to be true.
She pushed that stupid idea away as well. She braced her back and drew tension in her shoulders. She calmed her breathing and smiled, “So talk. What’s up?”
Amanda smiled gently back, “I’m sorry to do this, but I can’t let it go on any longer. I care about you Barbra I really do. But your life. Your cowboy mentality. I can’t do this anymore.”
“You don’t like that I’m a cop?” Demilla laughed in a far too tough way.
“No” corrected Amanda tears in her eyes, “it’s not a cop thing. It’s a you thing. Christ Barbara, you pulled a gun on me 3 weeks ago!”
“On accident,” Demilla barked, “I didn’t shoot you and you snuck up on me.”
“Which normal people do!” Amanda stopped herself, “I don’t want this to be a blame game. None of that matters. I just have to break up with you.”
“Wow you have shitty timing!” Demilla tried to clear her head. “I can’t believe this…..”
“I’m sorry,” Amanda bit her lip, “I shouldn’t have let this go on as long as I did. I’m really sorry Barbra.”
Demilla coughed and said before she thought, “I…I thought we were in love?”
Amanda looked down again.
Demilla fought back tears.
“Sorry,” Amanda whispered. “Maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s me?”
And Demilla wished her gun was in reach to blow this bitch’s head off.
Corey shook his head and hands. He slowed his breathing. He saw the gentle green light. Light like a willow branch as it sway through a pond. A bird chirp sweetly above. A flower framing the water smell sweet. Peace and stillness is. Corey’s face relaxed as he extended a hand like that willow, tender. Serenity flowed out of him….Nope. Nada.
He couldn’t do a basic relaxation spell? Maybe it was this one girl? Maybe she was too tense to even try. Corey left the whimpering girl with a quiet, “I’ll be back…” and went to the next youngster. Again he reached inside and touched the child to relax. Again nothing happened.
Corey’s mind raced. Obviously the Fear-demon took a lot out of him. Maybe, Corey could admit to himself, it had scared a lot out of him. But had it really taken that much power to destroy it? Had Corey over estimated the blow that got his friends all slimed? Maybe he had gone too far and now was drained.
Yea that’s it he was drained. It was hard being Corey. And no one understood. Everyone just thought he was super-freakin-man and he wasn’t. He was just a tired lonely witch who instead of helping a tent full of kids would now epic fail and leave them to madness. It wasn’t fair that he should feel guilty. But he did. Innocents all around him suffering and all Corey could do was feel sorry for himself. Hopeless. Useless. Corey shook his head and let a tear fall.
Madame read the sign and stifled a scream, “where are you taking me?”
“You know perfectly well Mike.” The officer laughed.
“Mike?” Madame’s head started to spin, “Who the hell is Mike? You have the wrong person! Turn around! NOW!”
The officer just laughed.
Two large orderlies came to the squad car door. Madame locked it and backed away. “You’re not helping,” said the officer with an eye roll.
“I have no intention of helping!” Madame yelled.
“You’re just making it worser,” said the officer in his most calming voice.
“Worser?” Madame huffed and grabbed the handle as the officer unlocked all the doors. She pulled at it with al her might but the orderlies were just that much stronger. She got pulled out and onto the ground. The larger of the two put a knee into her shoulder. She tasted gravel. Her wig fell a few feet away.
“Frisk her” one of them barked.
“I’m not touching him!” laughed the officer.
“Where does she get these clothes?” laughed the other orderly.
Madame’s chin scrapped the driveway as she tried to yell. Her “Get off of me!” came out unintelligible and sounded insane.
“Steals them. Who cares? Let’s get them off” said the first voice as he ripped the back of her moo-moo.
Madame shook with anger and humility. Held down and stripped outside a mental house was too much. This was too much. She stopped fighting, “not here please not here!” This time her words came out clearer.
“You got any weapons you Mike?” said the voice.
“No.” she answered un-correcting him. Mike was not Madame’s boy-name. There must be some confusion. ‘Let us not add chaos to the mix. Go along and calmly explain everything in due course,’ wisely thought Madame.
“If I let you up you gonna be a good girl?”
They let Madame up. She gathered her ripped moo-moo around her and attempted to stand as upright as possible. “Thank you” she said as they ushered her into the hospital. She shivered as the doors closed.
The larger, nicer, orderly, more gently than she thought he would, brought her to a nurses desk. A plump woman with a thick accent laughed, “Finally! Do you know how much paper work you caused us!!!! Glad you’re back safe Dearie.”
“There’s been some mistake,” Madame said quietly, “I am not this Mike. I need to make a phone call. I’ll explain everything…”
The nurse smiled sweetly., “would that be Corey? The man-witch?”
“Yes Madame!” laughed the nurse, but not unkindly, “we know all about your powers Dear. Now why don’t you go to your room and you can talk all about it to the doctor when she comes by. Go on. Get some clothes on and I’ll bring you some meds.”
“I am not mad,” she said with as much dignity as she could muster.
“I know Dear. Run along now,” smiled the nurse. Outside Madame could see the officer and the other orderly playing soccer with her large purple wig. “I’m not mad….” She said again with less dignity.
“So I’m dead? SO what? You believe in all other nonsense, run around with witches, wizards and weirdos!” Regency’s dad laughed.
“Ok you can let me out now.” Regency tried to stay calm, “You’re not my Dad. You are remnants of a Fear-demon. Yukky plasma in my head toying with me. That’s all. Now pull over!”
“Do I look like a damn Fear-demon?” Regency’s Dad barked. “I’m trying to save you son. I let you go now bad things’ll be happening to you. I’m trying to help. And that juice is not just in your head. You swallowed some and inhaled more. It’s all through you son. You go out there without my protection…”
“PULL OVER OR I AM JUMPING OUT!” Regency screamed and lifted the door handle.
“Pain in the ass brat!” Regency’s Dad spat a she pulled over the cab. “Get on out then!”
Regency stepped onto the curb. He was furious. The neighborhood was unsavory. Trash billowed like some bad movie of the week. Regency was sure this was more mind games. Nothing could look this obviously like a film set. No sooner had he spoken those words when a chainsaw roared in the distance. Shadows moved with purpose. A cat screeched. Regency had the feeling he was being surrounded. Over his shoulder the warm interior light of the cab glowed with safety.
“Regency,” whispered a disembodied voice.
“Come and play!” yelled a child.
Regency ran back into the cab and slammed the door shut, “So um pretend-Dad or whatever, you said something about protection?”
Residual Fear 6 of 8
“Wait so let me get it straight,” Demilla laughed in violence, “It’s not me it’s you?? Seriously? You couldn’t think of a better line than that? Let me guess, the friend speech was busy this week? Or couldn’t find a stamp for your dear Jane letter?” The venom flew out of Demilla. “I did everything for you! I took a chance! I tried. And now you throw it in my face with some paltry cheesey one-liner! I deserve more than that!”
“How would you like me to break your heart?” Amanda snapped back, “You think this is easy for me? What do you want me to say?”
“The TRUTH!” Demilla screamed, “Be woman enough to say the truth! Isn’t that what being a public defender is about? Not getting perps off but exposing The Truth!”
“FINE!” Amanda took the bait, “I’ll tell you. It’s not me. It is YOU! You , you, you take anything good and purposely destroy it. Your family, your friends, and now me! You tried? Oh honey I’ve tried so many times I have whiplash! You are too angry. Too judgmental. No one is good enough for you. And that makes you un-loveable. You are un-loveable!”
A small hand touched his shoulder. An even smaller voice said, “It’s ok. You can go ahead and cry the monster got us too.”
“The m-m-m-monster didn’t get me…”Corey whispered.
“Are you sure?”
Corey looked up at the small girl with round eyes who had been whimpering a second ago. ”Yea, I’m sure. I got him!”
“You did!” smiled the girl.
“Yea he won’t hurt you anymore.” Corey lied.
“Why is everyone so sick if he’s gone?”
“He….he made everyone sick…like a sneeze spreading germs…” the little girl coughed and Corey continued, “but I can make everyone better.”
“Are you a doctor?”
“Kind of” Corey didn’t want to use words like witch or magick because Hollywood had made those bad things, “I’m a special kind of doctor.”
“Well what are you waiting for? My tummy hurts.” And the little girl crawled up on Corey’s lap.
Corey allowed her to climb even though he knew he wasn’t supposed to. He didn’t care. She was scared and if all he could do was hold one little girl to drive the belly grumblings away damnit he would. “I can fix things but it’ll take me a while. I’m really tired.”
“I’m tired too” said the little girl as she leaned into Corey’s arms. “So tired and I am so scared….so scared….HELP!” she suddenly screamed. “NO! HELP!”
Corey couldn’t see what was in the girl’s mind but he tried to talk her down, “It’s not real. It’s Ok I have you. Nothing can hurt you! I have you!”
But the girl’s eyes were wider than you’d think possible and she started violently shaking. He whole body seizured and shook and while those round eyes stared at something imaginably horrific.
“NO! YOU’RE OK! STOP! LISTEN TO ME! YOU’LL BE ALRIGHT! I HAVE YOU! YOU’LL BE ALRIGHT! STOP!!!!!”
…and the little girl stopped. She stopped dead in Corey’s arms.
Madame sat in her room. It was beige. A color that mocked drag queens. She sighed. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the plastic mirror. It distorted her face like a fun house. “What a terrible thing to put in a nut house” said Madame to no one. The monochromatic room had a bed attached to the wall. Paper sheets, apparently so you couldn’t hang yourself or someone else. A shelf with nothing on it. The mirror over looked a sink/toilet thing. It was jail. A beige jail. Of course what color should a jail be?
Her chin had dried blood on it. Her lipstick was everywhere but on her lips. Her base and eye makeup smeared and raced in every direction possible. Her little hair stuck up or was matted down. She had looked worse but not recently and not much worse. She reached over and grabbed the cheap toilet paper and started to remove her makeup. She did so carefully.
Her makeup was not simply some store bought crap. No. It was homemade and filled with magic and applied with ritual that protected and preserved Madame. She had learned the ancient secrets years upon years ago in Italy. She also studied Native American mask works and Ancient Egyptian Eye Technique. Then of course through experimentation and training had made the current concoction and effect that made her Madame. This drag was well-won and powerful mojo!
“Who thinks this?” Madame said to her reflection, “what sane person thinks they are an all powerful two-spirit trained around the world in spiritual combat?”
“You do.” Said the reflection.
“yeah,” sighed Madame, “and look where that got us.”
Regency looked at his older self. It was somehow comforting. And maybe even safe. Regency shook his head. He had to think clearly: cynicism and common sense. “Just drive please.”
“OK dokey,” smiled the cabbie, “You can relax. Nothing’s going to hurt you. I’m right here.”
“Yea you used to say that a lot.” Regency huffed.
“Wasn’t it true?”
“No!” Regency rolled his eyes. “A lot hurt me….life…being me.. OH GOD I’m actually think I’m talking to you. I’m insane!”
“What if you are.” The cabbie smiled and pulled out onto the now abandoned street. “I mean talking to me, not insane.”
“Ok I’ll bite,” Regency couldn’t help but talk, “why now? Why suddenly are you back from the grave after….what twenty, twenty-one years?”
“Been that long? Shit!” Regency’s Dad laughed. “Time is different depending on…well depending.”
“And still you didn’t answer the question!” Regency laughed, “I hate residual fear! It’s the plasma that’s making me hear you!”
“Of course it is!” The cabbie quipped, “how else could I be here? You’re filled with magick right now. Demon magick but nonetheless. I saw you headed into the night and bad things a-coming so I brought you safe. That’s all. Standing up to that Fear-demon! DAMN! You done me proud! I thought for sure it’d eat ya. But if you didn’t just sit there and man-up! Like a hero! I always thought you’d be a hero!”
Regency shifted uncomfortable, “See, now I know you’re not real. My Dad didn’t think I was a hero… he thought I was a sissy.” Regency wasn’t sure what effect was going for. Maybe he just wanted to hurt the guy who had hurt him (even if he wasn’t real) or maybe he expected him to laugh at him…again. But the old man behind the wheel sniffled and coughed.
He cleared his throat and wiped at his eyes, “I was scared. Scared for ya. I knew how bad the world could be on a man who it deemed not manly enough. Heck, I thought I had to toughen you up. Didn’t know I’d up and die a few days later. Didn’t know that was the last words we’d have.”
Regency didn’t know what to say. What if this was his Dad’ ghost giving him a hand? Regency found himself biting his lip and whispering, “we both said some terrible things…” Regency couldn’t quite get the words ‘I forgive you’ out of his mouth. That was till too hard. What was happening? This couldn’t be residual fear. It wasn’t scary. It might have terrified him a few decades and three therapists ago… but now, it was just sad. “So you’re really my Dad? Not just Fear-demon juice?”
“Of course I’m Fear-demon juice!” and the cab continued down the road.
Residual Fear 7 of 8
Demilla felt the deathblow. Her gut actually caved in. She could no longer stop her eyes. She gasped for some kind of self-control. She had none. Amanda just stood there, in her grey suit, looking sorry.
Demilla found air and with ragged breath shook, “get out!”
Amanda didn’t move she just stood there, “look at you. How could I have ever loved you?” Barbara fell to the floor no longer able to be brave.
She heard the door open and close. She looked up glad her tormentor was gone. But instead Amanda was still there and another Amanda, just entering the kitchen, joined her.
This Amanda wore jeans and a tight white t-shirt. This Amanda looked worried as she spoke, “baby what’s wrong?” Dropping her bag, she flew to Demilla side. Firm arms wound about Barbara’s body, “Shhhh it’s ok. Whatever it is, it’s ok…”
Demilla let herself be held. She looked up and over white-t-shirt Amanda’s shoulder to see grey suited Amanda smiling. It started to fade away. It seemed to laugh as it grew paler. Demilla wasn’t sure but she thought she could see the vision mouth, “gotcha!’
Corey was screaming in shock. His hands trembled and clenched. Setting the girl down he looked for a pulse. Hands grabbed at him. Pulled him up and to the side of the tent. Corey could have forced them off but he was weak from exhaustion and overcome with emotion from the child’s death.
“SIR!” a voice screamed. “SIR! Look at me!” Corey obeyed and saw a large nurse standing over him. “Sir what are you doing? Are you alright?”
“The girl….help the girl…” Corey whispered.
“I know it’s horrible and we’re dong all we can. I know it’s upsetting but screaming at tent full of children is NOT helping. I need you to walk away.”
Corey’s eyes adjusted. He was being held down by the cop with the uzi and another nurse. This nurse, with his blond hair and large chin, was holding his head trying to get some sense into him. “Sir?”
“Sorry,” Corey found his voice, “I’m sorry.”
Corey continued to breathe as he heard the large chinned nurse tell the other to let him go. He also heard something like ‘we have enough on our hands. Post traumatic stress. Let it go. Get him out.’ As Corey felt a hand on his shoulder guide him to the flap he looked down and there was the little girl still whimpering. The cop didn’t have an uzi. Realization hit him hard.
Corey wanted to hit himself on the head repeatedly for being so stupid but he couldn’t waste anymore time, so he said, “I’m sorry. I panicked. My name is Corey and I am here to help.”
“The best help you can do…Corey, is to go outside and let the professional do our job,” replied the blonde.
“ummm sure. Ok but can I show you one thing?” Corey gave the nurse his most puppy-dogged look and prayed he’d be allowed to stay. (And ok, sent a psychic command for the nurse to trust him.)
“One thing.” Said the nurse.
Corey reached down to the whimpering girl, who may or may not have round eyes, and touched her forehead. Corey saw the spell as mask over her eyes and into he nose. He whispered a word and her face relaxed. In one fluid motion, Corey used his magic to pull off the mask and return it to the nether world. The girls’s eyes blinked. She, it turns out, had large round eyes and immediately asked, “where’s Mommy and Daddy?”
Relief filed the two nurse and non-uzi wielding cop. Corey stopped his fear, told it to shut up and leave him alone. He was not useless. Hope never is. Then he went over to each child in the tent and did what he could.
Madame sat for seemingly forever in that horrible room. Her thoughts betrayed her over and over again. She was crazy. She wasn’t crazy this was a mistake she had been mistaken for this Mike. No she might be Mike and just thinks it’s someone else. No I am not mad I am Madame! No you’re a nut. She inner monologue cycled round and round leaving her spent.
She washed her face and stared into her own eyes. Those eyes had seen things. She had memories. Could they all fake? If so, what was real? She dried her face and stood naked in the funhouse mirror. Was this real now? Was that her body, distorted by plastic?
Facts. She needed facts. Even if she was crazy and she wasn’t really a spiritual detective at least the idea of being a sleuth had to come from somewhere, She must be reasonably smart or cunning or deductive. “What are the facts?” she said out loud. “Fact 1 I talk to myself. Not a great sign but maybe I’m a genius and they do that all the time. How do I know that? Well I guess I don’t. Fact 2 I am a man at least biologically. Fact 3 I was brought in wearing a fabulous frock and makeup. I must be some sort of trans-person in some capacity. And judging by the fact I said fabulous frock I might go with drag queen….. Fact 4 I believe I can do magick.” There was the rub. If she could do magick she was sane if not…well she’d get a better name than Mike.
Madame/Mike sat down and thought of the most simple spell to do. A defensive spell. Quite typically the first thing you learn from any decent master of the art. Not a huge bullet stopping spell but a small one. A tiny protection spell. She wadded up a piece of toilet paper. She would throw it at the ceiling. As it came down she would send a spell through her hand to shield herself from it. If the toilet paper hit her…..well first things first.
She quieted her mind and willed her energy. She tossed the paper up and released a spell to protect her. The paper went away. As did the beige room. The hospital started to fade as well…. “That’s some spell,” laughed Madame.
Regency was confused, heart-broken, and angry. He breathed slowly. He was being toyed with, “Well I gotta tell ya, for Fear-Demon leftovers you kind of suck. I mean kudos with the whole Father figure from the grave but, honey you are not scaring me. At All.”
“I’m not?” Regency’s Dad forced his face into a quizzical mask, “Well I’ll be. I thought for sure I was what you fear most?”
“My Dad crying?” Regency laughed.
“No.” the cabbie paused before he stung, “being a hero.”
“What you fear most Son, is being a hero. That you might actually have power. That you can change and maybe save the world. You mock it. You go all gay and whatever you don’t care crap. But inside of you, somewhere, you know you can do something. And it scares the shit out of you.”
“Great Oprah-fear.” Regency paused, “that’s probably my gay over it don’t care crap right?” The Cabbie smiled back.
Amanda hadn’t pushed. That’s because she’s Amanda and amazing. They held one another through the night. Barbara watched her stomach lift and fall as Amanda slept. She held her tighter. She had broken down in front of someone. Someone she loved and it was ok. She had even felt safe to do so.
Fear-demon Amanda was cruel. She had said everything Demilla thought about herself. Yet, in the saying of the words, she now saw how stupid it had all been. How stupid her fear had been. She was loveable. Here she was: loving and being loved. She even sounded like a hallmark card and it didn’t make her nauseous. She laughed in bed. She watched Amanda’s profile as the sun rose and woke her before the alarm.
Amanda left a while later both ladies smiling. Peace. That’s what Demilla had found among her fear. Peace. Now she had to track down Corey and kill him.
As morning rose, Corey left the tents exhausted. This time really tired. He had treated dozens of people. He would come back to whatever hospital they were moved to tomorrow and see who needed more help. That was his way. But alas, daytime meant more staff to try to hide from and less time to concentrate so he’d have to do it another evening.
He needed to track down the gang and see how they handled the night. He was sure they were fine. The sun was rising. He’d call them all later. Maybe even after a nap. He was sure he was about to drop from exhaustion if his hunger didn’t kill him first.
Madame looked around her. It was late. The cat in the alley meowed loudly. She was on the ground covered in trash. There had been no hospital. No squad car even. IF she was crazy it was in her own special way. Madame rolled her eyes more for acting like an amateur and less from smelling like debris. “One for the Fear, zero for Madame,” she said to the cat. Which wasn’t entirely true was it? She imagined the worst. The fear that ate at her. That quiet voice that tells us we’re always wrong. That she was crazy. Even with proof to the contrary it was hard to shut out life times of rejection and cruelty and people telling you you’re crazy. She had never realized how completely it ruled her life. Her very self-image. But all in all she had won. She was MADAME!!!
She’d go home shower. A lot. And then wait till morning. Enjoy the sunrise and then go and kill Corey.
The Cabbie/Daddy brought Regency home. He smiled wide and didn’t accept Regency’s money.
“Sun will be up in a few hours, I can hang around if ya want….but I think the effects are wearing off….”
“No that’s ok.” Regency paused outside the cab. “Thanks.”
Regency went inside and tried to sleep. He could feel the change. No more adrenaline. Less eye movement. He was safe. But then again not. He was upset and had no one to talk to who wouldn’t think him crazy. He watched the night pass and sun rise. The Fear-demon-Daddy was really cool and said nice things but it all swam in Regency’s mind and he went back and forth from despair to joy like some twisted pendulum. He grabbed his cell and check Facebook out of boredom. He saw a check in and found the person he could talk to…if he didn’t kill him first.
Residual Fear 8 of 8
“Mm Breakfast! One of the things Americans really get right!” Corey mumbled happily as his 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, toast, and side of fruit were set down besides his HUGE cup o’Joe. Corey thanked the waitress at Astor Diner and smiled at his plate of cholesterol. He normally read the “paper” from the tablet thing Regency bought for him. But on this early grey LA morning Corey wanted to kick it old time. Or whatever that expression was the kids used. In order to alleviate some, techno-guilt he had checked in on Facebook. Another thing he was never sure of why he did but Corey had learned after few centuries adapt or die. So he tried to use technology, except sometimes you just need to read a real paper with your eggs.
He folded his newspaper so he could continue to read about yesterday’s gas leak. ‘Man, mortals believed anything,’ thought Corey as we wolfed toast with egg goo. He was tired and probably should have slept but hunger won. After half a night of no-magick and then the other half the night actually doing magick he was starving and needed comfort food.
There was public outcry about the supposed doggie but not too much mention of the people who were hurt. Corey rolled his eyes. The Grove, nor Disney, nor special events company nor inflate-whatever company were accepting culpability. The blame game was being played well. They would avoid ownership until the public eye went elsewhere. Corey wondered, as always, what would happen if someone just said ‘It was an accident. A terrible accident which caused a Fear-demon to rise from the underworld. But hey! AT least LA’s own coven made it go away!’
Corey laughed at the word coven. Were they a coven? In the loosest sense of the word, maybe? That thought made Corey feel kind of cool. Less alone. More committed. A coven was a type of family. Most people thought of a coven as set of witches in a circle mumbling magic and making things happen. Which is sort of true, but a coven is also a group of friends, magickally aligned friends, who looked out after each other. Made sure each other was ok and on the up and up. A coven brought out the best in you. They also allowed you to be human. Fallible, but eyes on the right road. Or so he had been told. Corey hadn’t been involved with many covens, at least as a member. Maybe he had commitment issues, or maybe assembling a group of people that special was a truly rare thing. That thought made Corey smile even more.
Until he “OW” got punched in the arm.
“Ow that hurt,” Corey glared at Regency as he sat down opposite his own eyes glaring.
“Spider? Spiders crawling? Isn’t that what you said the residual fear would be? I’d kill for spiders! You are an A-hole!” Regency huffed but silenced once the waitress walked over. He pointed at Corey’s plate and the waitress walked away. “Wicca Please! You are so buying me breakfast!”
“So you got a bit more than spiders?’ Corey laughed but not too loudly.
“Spiders from Mars!” Regency grunted and then got mad when Corey obviously didn’t get he reference. For being wicked old Corey had a crappy memory or else he had his head filled with so many memories that one song/movie/art thing whatever wouldn’t catch his attention. “Not really from Mars.”
“My Dad is what happened!” Regency almost yelled.
“I didn’t know you had family in town?” Corey was confused.
“No stupid,” Regency never got passed the schoolyard name calling phase, “I saw my Dad and he’s…” Regency whispered, “dead.”
“WHAT!” Corey yelled too loudly. “Sorry. Huh?”
“Yea huh?” Regency mocked, “he drove me home in a cab!”
“Did he hurt you?” Corey was thinking of a hundred spells fast!
“No.” Regency sounded disappointed. “He was really nice and helpful. Way more than my actual Dad.”
“Oh…” Corey was more confused, “so with the punch?”
“Because moron,” Regency was brimming with annoyance, “It was super freaky! He’s been gone along time…and I wasn’t prepared for it. I wish you had told me…I could have….do you think it was him?”
Corey didn’t want to tell Regency’s hopeful face no. But in fact, he wasn’t totally sure it wasn’t his Dad. Obviously the Fear-demon did something to people but it usually involved, ya know, fear. Maybe he was helped form a ghost? Or maybe the residual effects were deeper and Regency hallucinated help? Or maybe a million other things. Corey sensed regency wanted it to be his Dad so Corey decided not to take that away from him. Corey sighed, “I’m sorry. I have no idea if it was your Dad or not. I really didn’t know it’d go down like this. I am sorry it freaked you out.”
“well,” Regency gave in, “at least your sorry.”
“I really am…” before Corey could finish that thought “OW” he got smacked in the back of the head.
“Common SNESE?” roared Demilla. She took a seat next to Regency and glared at Corey so fiercely that Corey hoped she hadn’t been whispering spells along the way here or he was screwed.
“Good morning?’ Corey tried to smile.
“Yea the morning is GREAT! Especially after an evening that sucked so amazingly I lack words to describe it!” Demilla somehow yelled quietly.
“So fear?” guess Corey, “look, I had a horrible night too. So did Regency. I really didn’t think it would be so bad. I swear. I thought I lost my magick.”
Regency rolled his eyes but Demilla shot them wide. She had been a witch for while and understood what those words meant. “I’m so sorry Corey.”
“So he looses magick!” Regency spat child-like, “I saw my dead Dad!”
“Yes but it was at least a rewarding experience!” Corey grasped at silver linings. “Was your experience rewarding?”
Demilla started to speak but then didn’t. The two men stared at her so she had to say something, “in the end. It was painful but yes, kind of broke my heart for a second there, but yes, in the end it worked out well. What does that mean?”
“I call it Oprah Fear!”
“I like that!” Demilla laughed.
“AND Corey’s buying us all breakfast!” Regency announced.
“I like that too.”
Corey raised his hand to call over the waitress but was topped by someone grabbing his newspaper and pummeling him with it.
“A clown jumping out of a closet?” yelled Madame through her swings, “A clown?? Really?!?!?!”
“OW!” Corey held up both arms, “look I’m sorry! I didn’t know it’d be so severe! We all had bad nights! Stop hitting me!”
“Move over!” Madame commanded and sat next to Corey in the booth pouting. The waitress came over and everyone ordered on Corey’s bill. Only after the round of coffee was poured did Madame continue, “I thought I went crazy.”
“You mean you don’t think you’re nuts every time you pass a mirror?’ Regency laughed alone, “Sorry lightening up the mood.”
“It was SO real” she continued ignoring him.
“Yes but was it Oprah Fear?’ Regency never actually stopped talking.
“It seems,” clarified Demilla, “some of our fears and phobias confronted us and we three got out of them….well…better. Or better off…or smarter?
“Stronger.” Said Regency.
“I guess I am reminded of who I am…” Madame searched for meaning, “but it was cruel! Perhaps the best lessons are?”
“But why these lessons?” asked Regency. “I mean have a whole lot more fears than my father-issues, even if he is a spirit. I mean I HATE snakes. Why not…”
“AH-ha” interrupted Madame.
“I hate when she does that”
“Sorry dear,” laughed Madame I Ogli, “but you held the crystal necklace did you not?”
“And he was feared by spirit!” Corey smacked himself on the head.
“I held Water,” added in Demilla, “It stands for emotions. “And that’s what I got played with.”
“And I Earth,” Madame realized, “my fear was of the very stuff of which I am made.”
“And I was Fire,” continued Corey, “the power of creation, of passion, magick.”
“Yea ok,” questioned Regency, “but why?”
“I am quite sure a Fear-demon didn’t mean to evolve us…” Madame laughed.
“I don’t think it tried to do anything. I think the magickal items we held determined what we would fear. And the fear came. Except it had one little problem” They all looked at him. “The problem that we are amazing. We were stronger than it thought we were, than we thought we were, than we thought we could be.” Corey smiled, “and hence: amazing.”
Fear had been faced and defeated. Hidden voices heard and hushed. Past panics put to bed. Secret dreads made dead. The breakfast tasted good. Better than it had ever tasted before. Silence and smiles filled the booth. Not a lot remained to be said that day. Except maybe “yum.”