October Frights 2019 – Night at du ballay Part V – the finale

Welcome back to the 2019 October Frights Blog Hop, Part III! Part IPart IIPart III and Part IV.

All good things must come to an end, and thus it is with October Frights 2019. As always, big thanks to AF Stewart for wrangling this bunch and setting this up every year!

Fear not, October is only half over, and the fun has just begun.

And now, the finale.

I ran for the nearest tree, and pulled the pistol out of my pocket. An arm wrapped around my throat and tried to pull me down. I turned to look, and the hipster zombie was trying to take a bite. I shoved the muzzle of the gun into his face, but a hand came down and knocked it away. A spirit came in and knocked me to the ground. Another dove in and tried to pry its way in through my mouth, and found a nasty surprise there, but the hipster was trying to gnaw his way through the leather into my neck.

I threw an elbow back, knocking him loose.

I cut a quick look at JayJay. Rumble was giving him a hell of a fight, and taking enough attention away he couldn’t finish the ritual, but I saw my hound’s resolve weakening.

Another spirit laid a hell of a punch into my jaw, and everything went gray, but for a moment. I grabbed a fallen branch, and slammed it into the hipster. If he’d been alive, it was a killing blow, but it only got his attention. 

I drew back, and put my palm into his nose, hoping to drive some bone and cartilage into his brain, and pulled back. I rolled over to grab my pistol, and missed another cheap shot from a ghost that must have been a boxer. 

I drew back and leveled with the hipster’s head and fired. Amazing what a small hole in the front can do, but I laid him to rest permanently as whatever was left of his brains clung to the inside of his exploded brain pan.

I said a quick prayer, and the boxer vanished into the nearest coin. I was going to have a hell of a tab in the underworld.

I rubbed my arm and neck where the hipster used me for a chew toy, and closed the gap, holding my pistol as steady as I could. JayJay’s eyes burned with hate in my direction, but in this half-state, he’d hit about all he could take.

“Oliver, you got two choices. You’re about to vanish forever either down the gut of a necromancer or a hellhound.” I glanced at a shiny coin on the ground. “Or you can take your chances with the ferryman.”

“I can’t move.” Oliver’s eyes plead in agony. “Help me.”

“No.” Ellie cried. I felt the burn across my side before I even heard the shot. “I need this. We… need this.”

I’d had enough family disfunction for one day. I squeezed the trigger, and hit JayJay in the shoulder. I’d been aiming for his head, but was thrilled I’d hit the necromancer at all. 

Rumble fell free, and pounced onto Ellie, holding her down.

I held my hand over my wound. The leather had taken most of it, but I’d have a new scar across my side where her shot cut a crease.

JayJay clawed at Oliver’s spirit, pulling him towards his final reward.

I limped forward, “Oliver, what did you decide?”

“I’ll take my chances.” The spirit punched at his former body. “Just please, help me.”

JayJay spat a curse at me, but he could either attack me, or chew down on Oliver, but not both. And this was a one-shot deal.

“You should have taken my offer, necromancer.” I took aim at his heart, pulled the trigger and came down on an empty shell.

Well, damn.

JayJay erupted in a guttural laugh. “Soon as I’m done with him, you’re mine.”

I whipped the gun around in my hand and charged, bringing the wooden grip down between his eyes and breaking the bridge of his nose. The necromancer’s eyes closed, and he tried to open his mouth to escape. I clamped his mouth shut with one hand, and smashed his temple with the grip of the gun until he went limp.

Ellie stumbled over, Rumble growling on her heels.

“I need tape now.” I pointed to the house. “Get it, or my hound finishes the job.”

Oliver stared down at his body. “What now? Can you put me back in there now that you’ve… taken care of JayJay?”

Oliver’s pulse was thready and fading fast. He didn’t have much time. I opened his eyelid. JayJay’s rage stared back. He didn’t have total control over the body, and couldn’t escape. It was a race to the finish. “I’m sorry, but no. Only way to destroy him at this point is in a corporeal form. And even if I could put you back in, I’m pretty sure it’s not somewhere you’d want to go. Whatever damage I didn’t cause to your brain incapacitating him, JayJay is shredding as he fights to take over.”

“But— “

“The die is cast. When you cut deals with forces you don’t understand, you still have to pay the price.” JayJay was stirring, trying to lift his hand to knock mine away. “Where is that damn tape?”

“Here.” Ellie threw a roll of duct tape at me like it was a bunch of rotten bananas. “What do you intend— “

I ripped off a strip as best I could with a hand and a half and slapped it over his mouth. A few strips later, and JayJay’s host looked fit to be the silver disco version of the invisible man in bandages. I strapped his hands and feet together for good measure.

 Ellie sat down on the stairs and buried her face in her hands. “What do I do now?”

“I’d suggest you say your piece, but he’s standing there.” I pointed in Oliver’s general direction. “I’ll have you a body back in a few hours. Mostly ash, but you’ll have something to bury.”

“I have people that can clean up the mess.” She looked up blowing snot and tears. “We’re famous. They can’t just disappear. And what about our business? All this for nothing?”

“Lady,” I grabbed JayJay’s taped together hands and lifted him up to throw over my shoulder. “You’re lucky I don’t send you along with your brother to the next life, but I expect that’ll come soon enough. And as for your money, I couldn’t give two damns.”

I loaded Oliver’s body onto my shoulder and ignored the chain of threats and curses behind me. It might have been kinder to let Rumble have one more snack, but I’m not that nice.

Besides, I was sure she’d give him indigestion, and I didn’t need another brimstone cloud in the car.

I loaded the body onto the slab. Oliver’s spirit climbed in to ride along. I could leave him here, or toss him a coin, and he’d fade away soon enough. Or maybe haunt his half-sister. I’d drop him off for his last trip after I took care of JayJay.

I slipped into the driver’s seat.

“Now what?” Angelique chirped.

I leapt out the car to try to catch my pounding heart before it escaped my throat. “What are you doing there?” Her hold on the world had been so thin, she should’ve been long gone.

“Well?” She shrugged, “Something about taking refuge in Betty. She says I’m stuck.”

I sensed something about the same coming from my car.

“And she says you owe her a deep cleaning, new whitewalls, paint— “

Sweet Jesus. I cranked Betty up. I’d at least be able to get rid of one du Ballay today. 

I hope you enjoyed this year’s offering!

Looking for some horror and supernatural scares? Need some new books for Halloween? Check out the October Frights Spooktacular.

https://storyoriginapp.com/to/NUWnFAv

Remember to hop on over to check out the other participants offerings as well.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The Word Whisperer

Hawk’s Happenings

Carmilla Voiez Blog

M’habla’s!

CURIOSITIES

Frighten Me

Winnie Jean Howard

Always Another Chapter

Balancing Act

James P. McDonald

greydogtales

October Frights 2019 – Night at du ballay – Part IV

Welcome back to the 2019 October Frights Blog Hop, Part III! Part I, Part II and Part III.

Rumble sat outside Betty’s door, licking his paws. He gave me a lazy look as I panted, and hoped for at least one more cafe au’ lait before I died. Again.

I didn’t have anything with me to deal with a full on necromancing Voodoo priest. I wasn’t sure if there was such a thing. Warden and Lange might have an idea, if I could get back to the city. If not, Blackrose might. 

I held the door open for his majesty, and I’d be damned if he was getting another treat anytime soon. I dove into the driver’s seat and slammed the door.

“You’re back.” 

“Angelique?” I damn near flew back out the car. I’d have thought her spirit would have been long gone. “What are you still doing in there?”

“What a cute puppy.” She reached back to scratch Rumble’s ear. “I’ve been chatting with Betty. I’ve got no where to go until you drop me off. She said that’s what you do. She told me all sorts of things.”

“Then let’s do that.” I threw Betty in reverse and floored it, bouncing into the driveway, and doing a graceless 180 in haze of rubber. Betty was going to demand new shoes, and finding whitewalls was a bitch. I could only imagine what kind of encouragement she was getting from the ghost of a spoiled heiress, and needed to get her out before we had our own reality show. 

I made the last turn before getting to the main gates and laid on the brakes. 

The gates were closed and chained. JayJay held a basketball sized ball of swirling and sparking red gas, and a couple dozen spirits around him. His voice reverberated in the car. “Now reaper, I don’t care about you. Fact is, I think we could have a beneficial arrangement. Just take the girl back to the house, and all will be as it’s supposed to be.”

Angelique pointed to JayJay, “Who’s that?” 

JayJay paced forward, his voice like he was speaking in my ear. “I have a legal and binding contract. Nothing here needs your attention.”

“Angelique.” I turned her to face me, “Did you know you were here to be sacrificed?”

Her bloodshot eyes were saucers. “What? Hell no.”

“And you don’t recognize him?”

“The pimp from a 1970’s horror movie?” Her eyes shined with the last vestiges of life. “No.”

There’s a lot of different kinds of abominations out in the world. Hell, a lot of people would call me one. But necromancers are at the top of that list. Messing with death has a cost, and you don’t get to default on the loan. But I wasn’t about to let anything happen to this girl if I could help it.

Even if she didn’t herself agree to the contract, a generational contract could be hard to break. Sounded like they were here to renew for another generation, and just hadn’t fulfilled it just yet.

Then there’s my other problem. I wasn’t dead, but wasn’t exactly alive either. The necromancer had enough power over me to hold me in place, and that was without thinking about it. If he focused on me and realized… not to mention, he might be able to influence Rumble too. Hellhounds share a special relationship with death.

I squeezed Angelique’s hand. “Do you trust me?”

“I don’t know who to trust.” She nodded, “But I don’t seem to have a lot of options, and Betty seems to like you.”

I was wondering about my car as a judge of character. “Hold on, we’re going to have to improvise.”

I rolled my window down, and leaned out like I was ordering at a drive-thru. “I think we can have a Parley. Come to some arrangement.”

I cranked the window up, turned Betty around, and started the slow progression back to the mansion. A spectral honor guard formed up on both sides, and the hellish glow from JayJay’s orb filled Betty, much to her dismay.

I don’t get along too well with technology, but I needed some advice. And the Powers That Be weren’t answering my call at the moment. “You got a phone on you?”

Angelique patted herself down, and I don’t know where she pulled it from, but it seemed this generation could manifest a phone like a plague of locusts. 

“Dial this number, and put it on speaker, keep it out of sight.” I have her the number to Blackrose Occultist Shop, and held my breath until J.D.’s sultry voice hopped on. “Need some quick advice, J.D.”

“And hello to you too, Galen.” She poured on an extra spoonful of wildflower honey. “Rumble puking up hairballs again? Imp infestation? Betty needs new whitewalls?”

“Two out of three, but I don’t have a lot of time.” I glanced around to see if there was any sign of unwanted ears. “I’m dealing with the spirit of a bokor, who’s also a necromancer trying to take possession of a new ride.”

“You always find ways to land in the pickle jar.” She chuckled. “Swing by, and let’s see what we can figure out.”

“Problem is— “

“I see.” J.D. sighed. “Off the top of my head, best thing is to shove him back into his body, salt it, and burn it.”

“And if I don’t have that?”

J.D. hummed the long tune when she mulled something ugly over. “Does he already have a vessel picked out?”

“She’s right here with me. The brother killed her, by accident I think.”

“You can’t let him have the body. Or the spirit.” The sound of pages being turned echoed in the car. “The ritual he’s using will require him to enter the body and consume the former resident’s soul to complete the transition.”

“How do I stop it?”

J.D. huffed, “If you can trap him in something, force him into another vessel like a fetish that you can bring here, we can get it ready for you to take on a final ride. But whatever you do, don’t let Rumble near him.”

“Could he possess Rumble?” I shuddered at the thought of giving a necromancer a hellhound’s power.

“Maybe. I’d be more worried about what that’ll do to his sensitive stomach, all that crap you feed him.” J.D. gave a sad chuckle. “But yeah, he might be able to take control of Rumble.”

“Thanks J.D.”

“Call me when you’re on the way over.” J.D. sniffed, “Or Rumble, give me a heads up if you get a new partner.”

“What do we do?” Angelique killed the connection. 

I stopped in the middle of the drive to face her. “I will do everything in my power to keep your soul safe, and deliver you to the next life. I promise you that.”

She stared straight ahead, like she was trying to take in one last trip to the family mansion. As it came into sight, she slumped down into the seat where she could barely see over the dash. Ellie loosely held the pistol aimed at the ground. A trail of blood ran down the side of Oliver’s head here he sat on the steps, glaring at his sister.

It looked like every spirit on the property and for miles around had come for the festivities. I doubted Oliver or Ellie could see them, but Angelique sure could.

“Who are all of them?” She swung her head around at the sea of specters. 

“Souls trapped here on this plane, and from the looks of it, tied to your property.” A pit of fire burned in my gut on seeing all the poor bastards stranded here, in perpetual servitude to the family. No, to JayJay. “Stay here. Remember, Betty is the only safe place for you.”

Ellie raised the gun as I stepped out of the car. The hipster and the suit zombie shambled out the woods. I was mostly covered by the door, and by Betty, but I didn’t need any more grief over holes or scuffed paint.

“Where is Angelique?” Ellie cocked her head trying to look through the windshield.

“In the car.” I wrapped my hand the grip of my own weapon. Rumble nuzzled me as he slinked out of the open driver’s side door. “Where’s she’s staying. She’s got an appointment with the other side.”

“How quaint.” Ellie moved to the passenger door. Betty’s windows were tinted almost as black as her body, and shiny as sunglasses. “Come out dear sister. You’re safe with family, not this crazy man.”

JayJay appeared on the mansion steps behind Oliver. “You offered a Parley, which I took in good faith. What do you want, reaper? I just want the girl to fulfill the family contract.”

“I want Angelique’s soul. She didn’t consent to the contract, and it hasn’t been fulfilled by this generation.”

“And her body?” JayJay played with the swirling red mass in his hands, down to the size of a baseball. “I am assuming you propose to hand it over?”

“Not exactly.” 

Ellie squeezed the trigger. I couldn’t be sure if she meant to hit me or not, but the spirit the bullet flew through looked surprised as hell, and she did manage to hit an oak twenty feet away. “Angelique. Come on out.”

“Stop.” Angelique opened the door, and stood near it. “I’m here.”

Ellie ran over and wrapped her arms around her sister. “Thank God you’re alive.”

JayJay motioned, “Come here, child. You’re safe now.” 

“That’s just it, Ellie. I’m not.” Angelique pushed her sister away, and took her hands. “I guess Ol killed me. If I take more than a few steps away from the car, I’m— “

“That’s crazy.” Ellie motioned for Oliver to come over. “Tell her.”

“Never mind that, boy.” JayJay took a careful step down. Go get the implements. Looks like we’ll be doing this outside.”

“No.” Ellie dropped her gun, grabbed Angelique by the arm, and tried to drag her to the house. The suit grabbed the other side, but was more of an anchor than a help. Between the rigor in her body, and weakening of her spirit, she only resisted a moment and made it a few steps before flopping on the ground. They slid her body back to lean against the open car door.

“I told you.” I slipped the gun out of my pocket and held it at my side, just out of sight. 

“Damn you,” JayJay shouted, his cane clicking on the ground with his hurried steps. “Hurry up before we lose her.”

Oliver ran out of the house with some knick-knacks in hand. Ellie fought to lean Angelique up against the open car door.

I knelt down where I could see Angelique’s face through the open car. Her spirit materialized in the passenger seat, where only I could see. She turned to look at me.

My palms were sweating rivers. “I don’t think you’re going to be able to have an open casket.”  

Her spirit mouthed, “I know.”

Ellie turned to face me, “What are you saying?”

“Goodbye.” I finished dropping to my knee, and brought my weapon up, squeezing the trigger once, the shot going straight through Angelique’s eye socket. 

“Oh God.” Ellie fell back covered in clotting blood and gray matter.

The suit zombie tried to reach through the car to get me, but Angelique touched his arm, and whispered something to him. I took the chance, and the shot, bloodying up an expensive suit.

Betty was not going to be happy about the mess.

Oliver stopped a few yards away.

JayJay cast some command to the air, causing the surrounding spirits to close in. I wasn’t of a mind to get immolated in hellfire, but wasn’t looking too fondly at being torn to shreds by a ghost army. “You requested Parley. What exactly are you offering?”

“These folks rescind the contract.” I shoved my gun back into my pocket, and dug for anything useful. “And you take your rightful place in Hell.”

JayJay howled, and fired off a chant.

The spirits took on a red glow, and all seemed to be looking at me.

“Dead of Blue Oaks Plantation.” I shouted out in my most commanding voice, “I offer you release from this place, and freedom from this bokor who has held dominion over you for too long.”

A spirit bigger than your average NFL lineman grabbed my duster, and hurled me away from the car. He picked up a rock, and readied to bash my head with it when Rumble dove through his body and left nothing in his wake.

The other unearthly denizens paused, seeing one of their own gone in a single bite. I flung a handful of coins, all I had in my pocket, into the crowd. Maybe Charon would give me a bulk discount, or at least bill me later for ferrying all these souls.

It looked to be about fifty-fifty, maybe more that vanished into coins. Rumble wasn’t wasting any time on the others. I hadn’t let him feed on his preferred diet much recently, and he’d found the hellhound equivalent of a feeding frenzy, inspiring more spirits to take a chance with the ferryman.

“Enough.” JayJay held Oliver’s head between his hands, a red glow and abject terror coming from the eldest du Ballay child’s eyes. “This one will fulfill the contract nicely.”

Ellie’s hands trembled like an earthquake as she found the pistol and aimed it at JayJay. “Wait.”

JayJay grinned, “Yes, child?”

“You’ll fulfill your end?” Ellie whispered, “You’ll make us rich again.”

“For another generation.” The necromancer shrugged, “But if this is the true last of the du Ballay bloodline, we will need to have some amendments. Do you consent to a change in bloodline? I mean, you’re not a true du Ballay, except in name only.”

Ellie nodded, tears streaming down her eyes.

JayJay screamed, “Say it. Say it aloud.”

“Yes.” Ellie screamed back. “Yes, damn you. Now take his body and let’s get down to business.”

Oliver managed to mouth “bitch” before his jaw fell slack and his own spirit left the body.

JayJay faded, but I was pretty sure I was the only one that saw him crawl in through Oliver’s mouth. With a new driver at the wheel, Oliver’s eyes turned black as his soul stood aghast. 

I snapped my fingers, and Rumble pounced to beat JayJay to the critical meal.

The necromancer snatched my hellhound in midair, and held him there. “You’ll make a lovely pet, once this is done.”

“Let him go.” My voice cracked as I shouted. 

“You had your chance for a deal.” Oliver’s voice deepened. “And you will be my new pet’s first meal.”

Come back tomorrow for the big finish in Part V.

Looking for some horror and supernatural scares? Need some new books for Halloween? Check out the October Frights Spooktacular.

https://storyoriginapp.com/to/NUWnFAv

Remember to hop on over to check out the other participants offerings as well.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The Word Whisperer

Hawk’s Happenings

Carmilla Voiez Blog

M’habla’s!

CURIOSITIES

Frighten Me

Winnie Jean Howard

Always Another Chapter

Balancing Act

James P. McDonald

greydogtales

October Frights 2019 – Night at Du Ballay Part III

Welcome back to the 2019 October Frights Blog Hop, Part III! Part I and Part II.

I kept a tight grip on my pistol in the darkness, trotting along the winding driveway just on the other side of the tree line. 

It was getting to be midnight. Early in the city, but late out here in the sticks. It was also the best time to work any dark hoodoo, if that’s what they were really up to.

A brand-new silver BMW was parked behind the white van, and the body now flopped on the ground. A classic white Bugatti sat in front of the main staircase. 

I knelt in the soft earth, looking for movement in the house. A shadow moved upstairs in the bedroom. Lights were coming on and off along the second floor. It looked like most of the lights had been extinguished in the ballroom.

Something warm and furry rubbed up underneath my hand. “Where have you been?” I scratched Rumble behind his chewed ear. He didn’t look any worse for wear if he’d been play hide and seek with JayJay. If anything, he felt like he’d been taking a nap.

Lazy mutt.

He nuzzled at my hand until I pulled a treat out of my pocket. “We’ll both pretend you deserve this.”

He swallowed the chunk in one bite, and settled low to the ground.

“Keep a watch outside, and howl if you see anything.” I tossed him one more treat, and sauntered to the open front doors like I owned the place.

I pocketed the gun, but kept a firm grip on the handle. Nothing seemed to be moving here, but the faint sounds of bickering came from a couple floors up.

I took careful steps climbing up the staircases, trying to make as little noise as possible. It didn’t seem to matter the way the two voices, a man and a woman, were shouting at each other.

“…where is she Ol?”

“How the hell would I know, Ellie. I gave her enough she should still be passed out.”

“She’s got to be here somewhere.”

Feet stomped coming towards the stairs. I ducked into a service closet, and cracked the door to watch them storm by, but two impeccably dressed people, and from the looks of it, the other two du Ballay siblings stopped on the landing.

“The contract is due, Ol.” Sweat ran down Ellie’s pale skin. “I don’t want to think about what will happen if all three of us aren’t here.”

“I talked to him this afternoon.” Oliver ran his hands through his short cropped blond hair. “Everything was set.”

“What about the bodies downstairs?” Ellie’s eyes flared. “No one was supposed to be here.”

“The rest of the crew was packing up when I left. I have no idea why Nicky, much less Jordan were here.”

“How are we supposed to pay up?” Ellie took a step down. “If he did this to Jordan, he was just her boyfriend. And Nicky was some kid on the crew. What do you think he’s doing to Angelique?”

Oliver pushed past to march down the stairs. “Come on, it’s almost time.”

Careful to keep a safe gap, they were easy to follow with the snipping back and forth, blaming each other. 

I found a hiding spot on the ground floor in an empty coat room. I hid in the back, in the darkness, but the siblings were perfectly framed in the hallway.

Three knocks came at the front door. Ellie straightened Oliver’s tie, and smoothed her dress when he moved to open the door. I couldn’t see the figure, but I knew the voice.

“May I come in?”

JayJay stepped into the hallway. He wasn’t as scrawny as before, and looked younger, but if it wasn’t him, I’d give Ramble a bath in the Betty’s back seat. He filled out the same worn overalls, and had found an old-style work blouse.

Oliver stood to the side, “Please come in.”

JayJay transformed on crossing the threshold. The overalls faded away to be replaced head to toe in a scarlet suit, shirt and shoes. I couldn’t see the detail, but white and gold embroidery traced patterns on every piece of clothing. He adjusted a white fedora with a scarlet band and feather, and tapped a wooden cane on the floor. “Much better.”

Damn. I tightened my grip on the pistol. I’d definitely not come with enough hardware to take on an elder bokor. 

“Are you ready for the ritual?” JayJay looked up to the marble landing. “Where is your dear sister?”

“We.” Oliver swallowed. “With all due respect, we thought she might be with you?”

“Why would you think such a thing?” JayJay flashed a mouth full of pearly whites. “Our agreement is clear, even if your side hasn’t lived up to the bargain for several years.”

“For which we have worked to rectify our error. As you know, we were not aware, until recently.” Ellie offered a bottle of rum and a cigar to the voodoo priest. “And we have done everything in our power to prepare.”

“We shall see.” JayJay took a hard draw from the rum. “So, what shall we do about a vessel then?”

“We do have two other bodies for you.” Ellie opened the ballroom door. “This vessel, he comes from wealth and power, more than we have ever had. He should be more than— “

“Suitable?” JayJay seemed to study the body on the couch. “He looks like he could be acceptable.”

Oliver ran in and tried to lift the corpse. “Excellent, give me one minute— “

“Except for the terms of the contract are quite clear.” JayJay shook his head, feigning sadness. “It must be someone from the du Ballay line, preferably the youngest of the generation who has reached legal age. Then, and only then, am I free to roam, and to ensure your family maintains its wealth and power. Since my last host has died, you can see how your family has suffered.”

“Ellie will do it.” Oliver blurted out. “She’s next in line.”

The young woman’s jaw fell slack, “No… I… Oliver, you bastard.”

“Another ideal candidate.” JayJay traced her jawline with his finger. “If only your daddy was your father. You might want to have a talk with your momma.”

“No.” Oliver shouted, drawing a gun that shook in his hands. “Let me find Angelique.”

“Maybe the fella’ that was here earlier today has her.” JayJay moved the barrel of the gun aside with the tip of his cane.

“Who?” Oliver plead. “Who was here?”

JayJay shrugged, “Big fella, dark like me. I chased him off, but maybe he came back.”

Oliver dropped to his knees. “Give me time.”

“Degare du Ballay drew up the contract when he asked for my services. We have until sunrise this day to complete the ritual.” JayJay pushed the tip of his cane into Oliver’s chest. “Shall we get on with it? Unless you want to wait another year. I don’t see you holding out that long, seeing how the old homestead looks. Maybe the new owners will be agreeable to—”

Ellie brought a vase down on her brother’s head, knocking him out. “Like you said, let’s get on with it.”

“Maybe there is some of that cold du Ballay blood in your veins.” JayJay pointed at the landing with his cane. “Shall we?”

“A little help?” Ellie grabbed Oliver under the armpits and tried to drag him.

“Sorry my dear.” JayJay tipped his hat. “I’m not exactly corporeal this moment. You’ll have to manage.”

I couldn’t stand by and watch, even if all they were doing was fulfilling a generational blood contract. I tapped the gun barrel on the door frame and stepped from the shadows. “Your sister was right. Nothin’ like sibling love.”

Ellie dropped Oliver, drawing a pained grunt.

“Well damn.” JayJay tapped his cane on the floor. “Thought we was rid of you.”

“This him?” Ellie picked up Oliver’s gun from the floor.

JayJay nodded. “Sure is.”

“Where’s my sister?” Ellie’s hand shook almost as bad as her brothers when she took aim. 

She was as likely to shoot herself as me.

“Dead and gone.” I lowered my weapon, holding it at my side, hoping it would calm the girl. “I guess your brother did it? Or was it you, JayJay?”

Ellie cut her eyes, “What’s he talking about? Is Angelique dead? Did you kill her?”

JayJay clasped the handle of his cane with both hands. “I would never do such a thing. I prefer my hosts still living. At least until I make myself comfortable.”

“What about the other two?” I edged closer to the door. “I know you took them. Where’s their souls?”

“I needed to get my strength up for tonight.” JayJay flashed his too-white smile. “But since you mention it, I am still feeling a little… peckish.”

“I don’t think you’ll find me to your liking.” I should have let Rumble take the spirit out when I had the chance. Now, it was going to have to be the hard way. I pocketed the useless pistol. “Why don’t we step out and leave these folks to their house.”

JayJay got a look like he’d been slapped with the ass end of a rotten carp. “Well damn me. You a reaper.”

“I didn’t damn you, JayJay.” I fumbled in my pocket for the vial of holy water. “I’m just here to give you a ride. You, and that girl.”

The click of the hammer being drawn pulled my attention. Ellie’s hand steadied. “Where’s my sister?”

“I’m sorry miss, but she’s already dead.”

“That’s unfortunate. But her body can still be used to satisfy the contract.” Ellie cut a glance at JayJay. “Isn’t that right.”

“Depends.” He rapped the cane on the floor three times. “But if he still has her spirit, and the body isn’t too far damaged or gone, it’ll do.”

“Let’s go, Mister Reaper.” Ellie motioned with the gun. “My sister, if you please.”

Not being in the business or reaping the not yet dead, and not having a better alternative, I raised my hands. “She’s in my car. Just up the drive.”

I kept my hands away from my sides and walked out the front door, and down the stairs. Ellie’s footsteps sounded like she was close behind me, but not close enough to disarm her.

“Stop.” Ellie called, and walked around to face me, keeping a safe distance. “Where would your car be?”

I pointed, “Just up the drive.”

“Keys?”

I wasn’t about to leave Betty under Angelique’s control. It was one thing to leave her sitting in the seat, but I wasn’t going to let the dead take her for another spin. I pulled the keys out of my duster pocket, and palmed something else in the process. I jingled the keys, palmed them, and tossed what turned out to be a chunk of jerky. 

Rumble lived up to his name, and let out a cry that could make the dead run a marathon, and snagged the treat in midair and slammed into Ellie in the process.

JayJay stood on the front porch, his grin turning sour. I tossed the vial of holy water into the brick over his head, covering the spirit in a shower.

Ellie shrieked like a scream queen on an audition, but JayJay simply wiped away the water. 

“Well now.” JayJay rubbed his chin with his hand. “Seems it’s only fair if I bring in a little help of my own.”

JayJay took a hit off the rum bottle, and lit the cigar with a snap of his fingers. I could only stand there frozen while he blew smoke rings and blew fire after shots of the harsh liquor, and chanted off an old incantation.

The kid in the driveway stood up behind the van, his milky white eyes now pitch black and a bit of drool running down his chin. A nearby spirit, barely visible in the light, turned and glared at me. The other body from inside staggered out with the same midnight stare.

“You’re a damn necromancer?” I sputtered. The Powers That Be really needed to start giving me better intel. 

“I am a Bokor.” JayJay traced a sigil in the air with the cigar. “Necromancy is just a hobby, but a lot more interesting since my transcendence.”

I sent out the first blessing that came to mind, and damned if it wasn’t grace for dinner, but it was enough to distract JayJay and break his hold. My pet hellhound passed me with a look somewhere between ’this is the most fun you’ve let me have in years’ and ‘I only need to be faster than you.’

I pointed the direction with my middle finger. “Just get to Betty.”

I risked a glance behind me. Spirits were gathering into an army, but not chasing me yet.

Ellie, on the other hand, was chasing me waving a pistol in the air, and wasn’t so fast in heels. I ignored her threats and curses. From there, she was about as likely to hit me with a snub nose as win the lottery with someone else’s lost ticket. I decided to cut through the woods and not follow the winding driveway. 

See you tomorrow for Part IV!

Remember to hop on over to check out the other participants offerings as well.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The Word Whisperer

Hawk’s Happenings

Carmilla Voiez Blog

M’habla’s!

CURIOSITIES

Frighten Me

Winnie Jean Howard

Always Another Chapter

Balancing Act

James P. McDonald

greydogtales

October Frights Spooktacular Book Promo

Looking for some horror and supernatural scares? Need some new books for Halloween? Check out the October Frights Spooktacular.

https://storyoriginapp.com/to/NUWnFAv

October Frights 2019 – Night at Du Ballay Part II

Welcome back to the 2019 October Frights Blog Hop! If you missed Part I, start here!

Betty’s original caretaker, I couldn’t say anybody owned her, that just wouldn’t be right, he liked to talk to the people he carried to the other side. I can’t say for sure how she does it, I’ve got my ideas, but she does it for me too. Sometimes. If you ask just right.

Tonight, I was having about as much getting lucky as a virgin in a vacant nunnery.

“Betty, I promise you a nice sponge bath, and the best waxing.” I’d been pleading for a while. “I’m sorry about earlier, but I got my ass whipped too. I need to speak to the young lady. All business, no need to be jealous.”

I could feel her grumbling. It was part of the bond I had with her, but I felt her equivalent of an eye roll that was about as good as I was going to get tonight after driving her through the bushes.

A white vapor took on a vaguely human form in the seat beside me, made of ectoplasm pulled in from the ether. I’d have get this done quickly.

“What?” The girl’s voice echoed hollowly, “What’s happening?”

“Stay focused on me.” I leaned in closer to get her attention. “This is going to be a little hard to hear, but— “

She turned to look into the back. “Oh god, is that me? I’m—“ She shrieked, throwing an ectoplasmic shower everywhere. I’d have to clean it up before it left a stain. 

“Yes, you’re dead.” I held out my hands to try and calm the specter down. “Now just hold on a minute so we can talk.”

“What kind of freak are you?” She screeched, and slimed my face with a ghostly slap. “I demand you help me right now. Get me to a hospital.”

I shook my head. This was always the hard part. “That won’t do no good, you’re already long past that point. But I can still— “

She slapped at the seats to crawl over them to her body. She straddled herself, pounding on her own chest, but her hands just slipped straight through. Next thing I knew, she was slipping into her meat suit like a drunken toddler into his dad’s overalls.

This never ended well. “Miss… don’t… damn.”

Her eyes fluttered open. Her limbs fluttered like she’d been connected to a 110 outlet. In under a minute, she thrashed and howled in a tantrum that would make any two-year-old proud.

“When you’re done.” I turned around and settled into the driver’s seat, “We can talk.”

As it turns out, spoiled heiresses really can throw a better than average hissy fit. I wanted to step out of the car so I didn’t have to hear all the ranting, cursing, and threats, but Betty gave me a subtle hint that I’d asked for it, and if she had to listen to it, so did I.

And I did, until I’d had enough. I stepped out of the car, and opened up the back hatch. The little princess tried to spit at me, but what came up was a whole lot less pleasant. It missed me, but left a nice red clot on her dress.

I settled down on the bumper “You done?”

She slammed her hands down on the slab. “Let me go.”

I folded my arms, and leaned back against the open door. “I will, but you need to know something first.”

“Let me go, or I’ll scream.”

I grinned, showing my gold tooth, “You mean something different than what you’ve been doing the last twenty minutes?”

“Look here, goth pimp, or whoever you are, I’m wealthy beyond anything your feeble mind can imagine.” She tilted her head to use whatever feminine wiles might have worked when she was alive. “Let me go, and set this right, and you’ll be paid well. We won’t even discuss this kidnapping thing.”

“Do you know your name?”

“Of course, you imbecile.” She rolled her half-dead eyes. “I’m… I’m…”

She was starting to lose her memory. It shouldn’t have been happening that quickly, unless she’d been dead longer than I thought. Days longer.

“Angelique du Ballay.” She blurted out, “Heiress, television star, and soon to be a movie star.”

Denial runs deep in the south. 

“I’ll let you go, but we need to have a chat.” I rolled the slab out. “Don’t try to run. You don’t have long.”

“Let me go.” She locked a chilling gaze on me. “I’ll be happy to chat and make arrangements for your payment, but I’m not saying anything else as long as I am tied down.”

I took a deep breath, and sighed. I loosened the three straps, and helped her to sit up. “I’ve got a couple of questions.”

“Certainly, just give me a minute to stretch.” 

She arched her back, leaned over into some yoga pose, and came up with a right hook square into my jaw.

I shook my head and grunted. It wasn’t a surprise she’d go for it, and I rubbed my jaw and watched her get to twenty feet away where she flopped to the ground and convulsed for a few seconds, and was out. Betty’s power was all that was keeping her soul and body together and animated. And she wasn’t about to give this harpie anything more than the bare minimum.

I rolled the slab into place and closed the back hatch. I opened the passenger door, and fetched her body, dropping her into the front seat. It took her a few seconds to come around, and she made a break for it. Again. And again. 

“Okay miss, are you getting the hint yet?” I stood in front of her, blocking her from running again. It was only funny the first couple of times, and I had stuff to do. “You can’t get more than a few feet from the car. I just have a couple of questions about what you and your friends were doing.”

“What did you do? Did you do this to them too?” She stared at her bruised hands. “Where are they?”

“I ain’t done anything to you, or your friends back there.” I pointed towards the house. “And you’re a damn sight better off than they are.”

“What?” Angelique slammed and locked the door, slid into the driver’s seat, and cranked Betty. 

I shuddered as branches scratched at Betty’s paint as she was backed through the woods. I was never going to hear the end of this. 

I ran to try and keep up, and once I saw she was turning up the drive to the house instead of off the grounds, I gave a small sigh between pants. I needed to cut back on the beignets.

By the time I caught up, Betty was parked right behind the white van. Angelique held her hand over her mouth, staring at the dead hipster, sobbing with bloody tears trying to escape her eyes.

“I’m sorry, miss.” I rest my hand on her shoulder just enough to get her attention. “But we don’t have long, and I need some answers.”

“You need answers?” She shrieked, becoming more banshee like with each moment, “What about me? You drugged us. That’s why I feel so weird. This is all some promotional stunt. Marcus is so fired when I see him. Come on out you bastard. Nicky, get up. Nicky.”

“Miss.” I opened Betty’s passenger door. “It’s no stunt. You’re dead. He’s worse than dead. And someone has plans for you based on how I found your body. So, if you’d get back in the car so we can talk, I may be able to help you. Help him, and the other one inside.”

“Worse than dead? What’s worse than dead?” She ran for the house screaming for someone, but only made it a few feet before collapsing again. 

I picked her up and put her in the car, and backed Betty away to a quiet spot just off the main drive. I didn’t want her looking at the body of her friend, or JayJay to show up and decide I was responsible for what happened to a member of the family.

“Jordan?” She mumbled. “Jordan is dead too?”

“Gray suit? High and tight cut? Looks like he hasn’t cut a smile in fear of getting a wrinkle?” 

Angelique nodded.

“Yeah. He’s like your friend.” 

“What’s worse than dead?” Her voice a whisper, “Who did this?”

“I don’t know who did it, or how exactly.” I rest my hand on her shoulder. “But if you’d been dead like them, we wouldn’t be talking.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your soul was still attached to your body.” I looked for any sense of understanding, and came up snake eyes. Crap. “Theirs’s weren’t any more. And it wasn’t like the usual deal where they went on to the light. They got sucked dry.”

Her bottom lip quivered, “What happens to them now?”

“Could be nothing, could be something.” I caught a glimpse of headlights as the went up the drive. “But I need to know a few things.”

She nodded.

“Do you have any idea how you died?”

She shook her head. “I wasn’t feeling well after the afternoon shoot. My brother Oliver was here for a mostly staged fight for the cameras. Emmie, my sister, was supposed to be here too, but called Oliver back to the city. I was so aggravated, I had a migraine come on.”

“Any other siblings? Close family?”

“Not here. Mom and dad are in London. There’s only the three of us. A few distant cousins on mom’s side.” She twirled her hair in what looked to be an old habit, and cocked her head at me. “Don’t you watch our show? Everyone does. We put everything out there.”

“Problems with your family then? Siblings?”

“Nothing serious.” She tried to rub life back into her hands. “With the show and all the business stuff, we haven’t been together as much, but we’re closer than ever. We’re planning a trip abroad as soon as the season wraps. Time to rejuvenate the family business, as it were.”

I shook my head. Something wasn’t fitting, but I didn’t know what. I looked at her dress. “Are you into voodoo? A Practitioner?”

“What?” She gasped. “You mean like the tourist stuff?”

“I’ll take that as a no.” From the looks of it, she wouldn’t be able to stay in the body much longer. The stress was making it even worse. “Is there anyone that would want to kill you, and your family?”

“I get hate mail.” She shook her head. “Mostly jealous bitches.”

“What’s the deal with the empty house? The work being done?” I was digging for scraps, but sometimes big renovations opened up doorways to the spirit world that were better left closed.

Angelique shrugged, “We said we were closing it down to use as the set for this season of All About Angelique, but really, we couldn’t keep the doors open. Needed some of the pieces to keep up appearances in New York and Los Angeles. The show is keeping the family propped up. Company business has taken a few hits in the last few years. But don’t let anyone know. We hoped between the show, and turning it into a high-end resort we’d be back in the black.”

I didn’t give two damns about their family business, and no one I knew would either. “But, has anything strange been happening?”

“Not really. Couple of locals trying to sell pics of me and the show.” She tried to fold her arms, but rigor was making it difficult. “One of the few people left that work on the property while we’re shut down gave me the creeps. Really skinny. Skin a lot darker than yours.”

Sounded like it could be the specter. “Name JayJay ring a bell?”

“Family legend about an overseer during the plantation days. Led the revolt that burned the house to the ground. Something about my however many great-grandfather making a deal with him to rebuild the plantation and get everyone back to work.” 

“Could the man that creeped you out have been JayJay? You ever seen him?”

She giggled. “It’s an old folk tale for the tourists. They love ghost stories. It wasn’t a revolt that burned the house to the ground. His first wife went nuts and tried to kill everyone, burned the house to the ground cause grandpa had some side action. Supposedly, this JayJay saved the rest of the family, and was rewarded for it. But I don’t think much of it was true, except for grandma whatever being a whacked-out bitch. Ever since then, it seems like there’s a big loss every generation or so, but on the show, we proved it’s no worse than any other family. You don’t believe ghost stories, do you?”

I took a deep breath and pointed to her. “I’m talking to one right now, ain’t I?”

“Oh god.” She trembled, “What’s going to happen to me now? Am I going to be stuck wandering these grounds, just another story to sell tickets?”

“I can’t speak for how they’re going to handle marketing your death.” I wiped the sheen of sweat off my scalp. “But I can make sure you go where you’re supposed to. And maybe even help your friends.”

“So that’s it?” She pounded on the dashboard. I could feel Betty counting down ’till this one was just a corpse again. “I’m too young, too rich, and too beautiful for this to happen. I have a hit show. Who can I talk to? There’s always a deal to be made.”

I flipped my middle finger out the window. I didn’t need to look to know one of old scratches underlings would be sniffing around outside to try for a last-minute fire sale for her soul. Inside this car was one of the few places they couldn’t go. “I’m sorry, but dead’s dead. Nothing can be done about it. Nothing good.”

“But there is something.” She leaned in towards me.

“Not for you.” I bit my lip and shook my head. “And no deal that could be done is worth it. Take my word on it. It wouldn’t be what you think.”

“But.”

I drew my pistol and aimed it at her head. “I said no. Better I snuff what you have left out than let that happen.”

I didn’t have to hear Betty to know she was telling me to take it outside. One more mess and I’d be walking.

Angelique nodded, and folded her hands in her lap in something resembling prayer, for someone who hadn’t done it since they were still playing with dolls.

I hoped it’d work out for her.

A second set of headlights cut up the drive through the darkness. 

She’d have to work it out for herself.

Come on back tomorrow for Part 3, and remember to hop on over to check out the other participants offerings as well.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The Word Whisperer

Hawk’s Happenings

Carmilla Voiez Blog

M’habla’s!

CURIOSITIES

Frighten Me

Winnie Jean Howard

Always Another Chapter

Balancing Act

James P. McDonald

greydogtales

October Frights Spooktacular Book Promo

Looking for some horror and supernatural scares? Need some new books for Halloween? Check out the October Frights Spooktacular.

https://storyoriginapp.com/to/NUWnFAv

October frights 2019!

It’s that time of year again! The October Frights Blog Hop.

This year’s offering is a little five part story called Night at Du Ballay

I hope you enjoy, and check out everyone else too!

Night at du Ballay

I don’t recommend you grab a hellhound by the scruff of his neck, ‘less you raised ‘em in the pit from a pup and you’re fluent in a corrupted dialect of Enochian. I hadn’t, and I couldn’t, and Rumble and I had quite a rough start. 

Now? He’s the only one I trusted, but a little beef jerky bought a lot of loyalty.

If it’s got 2 legs, it’s gonna betray you some time, somehow. And in my line of work, you end up dead. Or in my case, dead for good. And the folks waiting for me on the other side weren’t exactly waiting on me with biscuits and gravy and a jar of shine.

“Stay out of sight.” I opened the door of my 1951 Cadillac coroner’s ambulance, just as black and shiny as the day she rolled off the lot. Except for a few dents and dings that came with the business, Betty was old enough to collect Social Security if cursed steel and rubber was eligible for such a thing. Course, I’d be giving the actuary a migraine if I was on the rolls.

 I ruffled the hounds mangled ear and fed him a chunk of gas station beef jerky. “You know what to do.”

The springs squealed as two hundred pounds muscle and teeth covered in oily raven black fur pounced silently onto the driveway. He glanced back, a red flash in his eyes, and vanished into the dark.

From the gates, the driveway snaked between the basket oaks for more than a mile before the famous main house of Blue Oaks Plantation came into view. Once, it had been a big tourist spot, but had been closed to visitors for a few months. Supposed to reopen in the spring. 

Spotlights turned the centuries old plantation house into a glowing white beacon in the Louisiana marsh surrounded by no small number of spirits stranded on the mortal plane, passing through like moths to the flame. Tomas du Ballay had built it as the center of his indigo empire in the early 1700’s, and his grandson had rebuilt it a couple of generations later after a revolt had managed to burn all but the front six marble columns to the ground. His decedents still owned it, but the family business had turned to mergers and acquisitions instead of dying jeans. 

When the call came, it sounded like a case of light possession. Maybe one of the old spirits still hanging around the place was pissed off. Nobody cared as long as the ‘haints stuck to themselves and each other. Making a little rich girl who was famous for being famous levitate on her reality show was another matter. Maybe she’d taken a deal with a spirit to get a bump in the ratings.

I don’t have a television, and never really saw what the big deal was. People acting the fool for people sitting and watching fake lives instead of having their own real ones didn’t make sense to me.  

But the unwanted attention was enough for the powers that be to call him to do what he does, and send the unruly spirit wherever it belonged. 

From the looks of it, the call came a little late.

I parked a safe distance from a white Econoline parked to the side of the house and stepped into the sticky night air. Putting my trusty Smith & Wesson model 15 between me and the body slumped over the open doors and the equipment packed into the back of the van, I did a quick search before checking on the victim. The kid couldn’t have been more than in his mid-twenties, but his eyes were milky white and his spirit long gone. The slit in his throat sprayed blood all over his scraggly beard and a bunch of glowing boxes and screens that looked expensive. Whatever did this was hungry for souls. 

It was hell wearing a leather duster any time of year in the swamps, but gave a healthy level of protection. I wiped away the sheen of sweat beading on the stubble of my scalp. If I didn’t keep it shaved close, it’d be an unruly afro in a week. Besides, hair didn’t grow to well in the big scar along the left side of my head. My daily reminder of what happens when you get too confident and stop paying attention to the little things. It’s how I got this job.

I moved around the left side of the house, thankful for the little breeze coming in off the river. I took a peek into the main ballroom across the wraparound porch and through the open floor to ceiling windows. A dozen or more production lights bathed the great room in a stark and unnatural aura that spilled outside like an overfilled champagne fountain. The faint specter of a young child dressed to work in the fields marched without a thought into one of the rivers of artificial light, seemingly washed away. I couldn’t be sure if she was gone, or was just too weak to be seen any more.

Moving to the rear of the house, the kitchen and other wing had a few scattered lamps, but no other signs of life. I climbed the stairs onto the porch, and found the back door of the main hall locked. Cupping my hands over the glass, it looked like the pedestal for a guest book had been knocked over. Maybe nothing. But I doubted it was a good sign.

Something tickled at me, sending a shiver down my spine. I spun to look, but I didn’t see anything. I tightened my grip on the pistol, marched down the stairs, and finished my lap around the house. 

I whistled to get Rumble’s attention, calling him closer to the house. Two short howls told me he was on his way. Mostly, I wanted to remind him not to go snacking on any of the unfortunates stuck and not yet able to cross over. 

The bottom step creaked under my weight. It wasn’t loose, just an old form of alarm system. A few loose boards could let out a squeal to rival an electric siren on a quiet night.

“Sumpin’ I can help you with?” A deep voice drawled.

I spun on one foot, and damn near spilled myself when my foot caught the baluster, but still brought the gun to bear on a shadow underneath one of the younger oaks. “Come on out.”

“No need for that.” The figure moved in enough to see a rail thin man in worn overalls and nothing else. “I’m JayJay. Overseer of this place. You is?”

I lowered the gun, knowing it wouldn’t do me any good with the spirit before me. A few patches were translucent, but for the most part he could pass as living, if you didn’t look too closely. “Galen. I got a call to come check on the du Ballays.”   

“You can see me.” JayJay moved a little closer. “Good. Now get on in your muleless wagon there and go.”

I could feel the smirk crossing my face. It pissed even me off if I looked in the mirror at the wrong time. “It looks like some things need attention here. I think I’ll stay a while. Why don’t you go on to your eternal rest and let me do my job?”

Before my foot could reach the second step, JayJay had a grip on my collar, and I couldn’t move.

“Now look, you’re no guest here, and you ain’t welcome.” The ghost released my collar and moved between me and the door in an instant. “You done being a domlon at this house.”

Protective spirits, especially ones bound to the land could be powerful. And like this one, stubborn. It didn’t surprise me he could touch me. I lived on the cusp of both worlds. For me to be able to interact with them meant some of them could do the same with me. I held my hands to my sides to look as non-threatening as I could, considering I was tempted to let Rumble have a snack. But since he seemed to think I was some kind of back yard snoop, I couldn’t blame him for being overprotective. He likely couldn’t help himself if he tried. “Now JayJay, I’ve been sent out to check on the house, and on the family. You ’n me want the same thing.”

“Even I can’t go in the house if’n none of the family here.” His eyes turned pitch black. “And ain’t none of ‘em home. You need to go before I make you get on.”

“They aren’t here?” I reached into the pocket of my duster for a vial of holy water. “Or they aren’t alive?”

“You sayin’ I ain’t safin’ my home?”

“Were you protecting the plantation against them?” I pointed to the van and the body on the ground, “Is that why you killed him?”

JayJay shouted something at me in a blend of creole, French, English, and string of sounds I couldn’t put together. He clicked his tongue and a red cloud exploded around me, launching me well into the driveway. 

Grateful for the first time that day I’d worn the duster, otherwise I’d have been shredded by the blast or the pavement. As it was, I wiped away a couple of blood trails from my face.

JayJay narrowed his onyx gaze, the look on his face saying he was a little on the shocked side I was getting up.

To be honest, I was too. He’d hit me with a punch of some hoodoo that made me feel like my guts were turned to jelly. So far, I wasn’t puking blood, but I might feel better if I did. I managed to get to my feet and stagger back to Betty. I damn sure wasn’t going to die out here and become another lost soul on these grounds under JayJay’s watchful eye. Then again, it might be a better deal for me. 

I collapsed into the seat, gasping. I pulled in my leg, slammed the door and felt better instantly. Whatever he’d hit me with couldn’t come inside, and Betty gave me a little healing juice.

JayJay cut an impatient snarl at me, pulled a swirling red ball into the space between his hands, and pushed it at Betty, wrapping her in a scarlet cloud. 

I threw it in reverse and hit the gas, and backed over an azalea just before the cloud erupted in flames and vaporized the bushes. Betty squealed in protest, and she’d make me pay for it later. 

I whipped up the drive like a hellhound was on my tail, but the specter held his ground on the front step. Once I’d gotten out of the sight of the house, I killed the lights, and pulled off the road. I opened the door, and the residual energy of whatever JayJay had thrown at me set my skin to tingling. It was going to take more than a detailed wash and wax for her for her to forgive me for that one.

I’d never seen anything quite like what JayJay threw at me. To have that kind of power meant he was bound to the land. From the looks of it, old blood magic, otherwise he’d be as faded as the rest of the shades on the property. He reminded me a cursed guardian spirit I’d cleared in the northwest part of the state. He’d been a great warrior sacrificed to protect a cluster of earthworks from a long dead people.     

If JayJay had been sacrificed and cursed to guard the property, I didn’t want to condemn him for eternity if I could help it.

I whistled and pulled a chunk of dried beef out of the bag. Rumble’s eyes glowed red and he flashed a mouth full of too sharp canines to trot out of the bushes. He’d watched the show, and thought it was funny to see me get my ass handed to me.

“Time to go to work.” I tossed the meat in the air for it to disappear in one swallow. “I need to keep the protector spirit busy. But don’t hurt him unless you have to.”

 Rumble growled, until I threw him another chunk. 

“I didn’t say you couldn’t have fun with him.”

The hellhound loped into the woods.  

I waited until I heard three short howls to close in on the house. I drove through the gardens, around the edge of the property and parked around the back in the loading area for the kitchen. Climbing up the stairs to under the mansion, I still had pulverized butterflies in my stomach looking for their wings, but they disappeared when I slipped through an open window into the ballroom. The lights felt warm on my skin and a faint ozone scent hung on the air. Most of the furniture had been moved to one corner to make space for the lights, cameras, and other equipment I no idea what the hell it was for.

As I got closer to the lights, it was almost like sitting on the beach at high noon in July, only I didn’t have to dig sand out of my shorts. My exposed skin was hot and tingling, but not painful. How the hell could people spend so much time under these things to be on camera and not get roasted?

The closer I got to the double doors leading to the hall, an old friend tickled at my nose. Death has a particular mix of smells, depending on how it happens, but you can’t mistake it. Tucked between two Queen Anne couches was the body of a man in an expensive suit. Mid-thirties, close shave and severe haircut. He had a few scrapes and bruises, but nothing serious enough to kill him. Except his head was turned almost all the way around his back. I moved to where I could check on him. No question he was dead, and had been a couple hours. His spirit was long gone, and his eyes were the same milky white of the guy outside.

I pulled the pistol out and held it at my side. I couldn’t be sure it would do me any good, but if I was goin’ down, I damn for sure wouldn’t be the only one bleeding.

I stuck my head into the hall and looked towards the front door. It looked like JayJay was gone. Probably still chasing Rumble, if not the other way around.

The formal dining room across the hall was dark and in order. So was the kitchen. A lamp cast shadows in an office full of charts and a desk covered in paperwork. The other rooms on the ground floor seemed all but empty. No furniture. No art. It looked like all of the crap that went along with being this rich had been taken elsewhere, but if all they used the old house for was some bad show, maybe they wanted the good stuff in their other houses. Wasn’t like any of them actually lived here any more. Still, it was creepy to be so empty and hollow.

My footsteps echoed on the grand marble staircase as I moved to the second floor. On the landing, it looked like some props from a Bourbon Street tourist voodoo shop were scattered around for effect. The lights were set up, but off. I turned one on to break the gloom. Except for a few tools and some equipment, the whole second floor was empty too. Gutted down to the studs and a few original plaster walls. What the hell were these people doing?

I opened the double doors leading to the top floor. The sign read ‘Private Residence.’ 

On the other side, a dark wooden staircase split and wrapped around upwards. One side had one of those rail chairs for old folks instead of an elevator. I took the other side. Two lights were on in the east wing. The west was pitch black. The first room had racks of clothes and a couple of oversized suitcases full of clothes. It looked like the wardrobe for the staff when they were open for tourists.

I passed a couple of dark and empty rooms to the end of the hall, and the other light. I could fell it before I came around the corner. A body lay on the bed, arms at her sides, fully dressed in a white gown with a red sash belt. Her golden hair was splayed perfectly like a halo. 

The body was staged like damn Sleeping Beauty.

I checked for some sign of life, knowing it was useless before I did it. She was still warm, but rigor was starting to set in. Couldn’t have been dead more than a few hours.

It was Angelique du Ballay, the youngest of the three kids. 

I lifted her eyelid, and was greeted by lifeless blue eyes. I could feel her spirit was still attached. 

Whoever… whatever had done this could still be around, but it didn’t look like JayJay could get in without permission, I wasn’t betting it was him. But it was looking more and more like someone was playing with old school hoodoo. And she looked like an initiate ready to move to the second year.

What a pain in the ass.

I didn’t really want to do it, but I needed some answers. And there was one way I could get them from her. It just wasn’t going to be pleasant for either of us. 

I picked her up in my arms, and with some work, the rigor settled enough where she was like carrying a hundred-pound rag doll. I debated putting her in the chair to go down the one flight of stairs, but decided it would be more work by the time it was all said and done to throw her over my shoulder.

The late October night air had picked up a chill on the wind since I’d gotten here. It was getting late. If someone was planning a ceremony, it would be soon time to start.

I opened the rear door and rolled out the slab. It was meant for coffins, or at least a gurney, but I was in a hurry. And I wasn’t planning on going anywhere with the body for it to bounce around. I strapped her down, rolled the slab back in, and shut the door. I climbed in the driver’s seat, and had Betty crawl to a quiet corner away from the house. No need to be interrupted by some damn cult looking for their rag doll. Or errant paparazzi catching a shot of me with an heiress’ body.

Come on back tomorrow for Part 2, and remember to hop on over to check out the other participants offerings as well.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The Word Whisperer

Hawk’s Happenings

Carmilla Voiez Blog

M’habla’s!

CURIOSITIES

Frighten Me

Winnie Jean Howard

Always Another Chapter

Balancing Act

greydogtales

October Frights Spooktacular Book Promo

Looking for some horror and supernatural scares? Need some new books for Halloween? Check out the October Frights Spooktacular.

https://storyoriginapp.com/to/NUWnFAv

DragonCon 2019

It’s that time again!

My schedule so far is:

Title: Social Media as an Effective Tool for Authors
Description: Social Media is an author’s best friend/worst enemy. This panel discusses how to maximize the benefits without the side effects.
Time: Fri 04:00 pm  Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Bill Fawcett, Anthony Francis, Tyra A Burton, Anya Martin, Trisha J. Wooldridge, James Nettles)

——————-
Title: Dragon Con Short Takes:
Description: Bite-sized readings from some of your favorite authors, featuring those you know and love—and those you haven’t discovered yet.
Time: Sat 08:30 pm  Location: Kennesaw – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin, John G. Hartness, Jeanne P Adams, James Nettles, Trisha J. Wooldridge)

——————-
Title: #TooSexyForTumblr & Other AI Problems
Description: Tumblr’s artificial intelligence filter is blocking lots of false positives and removing beneficial content. What’s missing is the balance that human judgment brings. Is this a sign of things to come across all social media platforms, or all Internet content in general?
Time: Sat 10:00 pm  Location: 208-209 – Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Kurt Opsahl, Erica Portnoy, Jairus Khan, James Nettles, Natalie Zina Walschots)

——————-
Title: Social Media Marketing for Authors & Creators
Description: Tips, tricks, and advice for the novice or seasoned authors and other content creators to navigate Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. We will take a brief look at the various platforms where authors, artists, etc., promote, and examine the common themes for maximizing engagement.
Time: Sun 04:00 pm  Location: 208-209 – Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, James Nettles, Tyra A Burton, John G. Hartness)

——————-
Title: Another Opinion
Description: How to make the best use of critique groups & beta readers.
Time: Sun 05:30 pm  Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Glenn Parris, Eric R. Asher, James Nettles, Corinne O’Flynn)

——————-
Title: EU Copyright Articles 13/15/17: What it Means in the USA
Description: The European Union passed directives over stringent opposition requiring nearly all Internet publishers to filter content for copyright violations using automated filters. What are the risks, given that filters often fail or over-censor? Also, how will those outside of Europe be affected?
Time: Mon 11:30 am  Location: 208-209 – Hilton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Courtney Lytle, Kurt Opsahl, K`Tetch, James Nettles)

I’d love for you to come by, and feel free to contact me in the app!

By the way, check out the new site, https://James-nettles.com – I’m in the process of migrating to the new site!

My ConCarolinas 2019 Schedule

It’s here! 

I’m excited to be your Science and Tech track director for ConCarolinas/Deep South Con 2019!

I’ll also have some books, including the new release Business Essentials for Writers.

I’ll be around all weekend, but here’s my panels:

Friday, May 30

10:00 PM – The new privacy (Moderator)

Saturday, June 1

12:00 PM – A conversation with Tory Belleci (Moderator)

2:00 – Is this real life? Is it just fantasy? What is augmented reality?(Moderator)

4:00 – More with Tory Belleci (Moderator)

9:00 PM – Ask a Mad Scientist

11:00 PM Love Sex & Futuretech (Moderator)

Sunday, June 2

10:00 AM – They did what?

12:00 – Social media for the anti-social (Moderator)

2:00 – Is it science or science fiction? (Moderator)

Ravencon 2019 and a book launch!

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I posted until I hopped in to make some updates! I’ve been out there, really!

For our writer types out there, you should check out https://www.authoressentials.net/. I’m one of the partners and contributors!

And the new book is out! Business Essentials for Writers – http://be4a.info will take you right to it.

On to the fun stuff. Leaving for #Ravencon2019 in the morning, and we will be doing a launch party for the new book. My schedule is:

Friday

5 pm (Panel) The Real Middle Ages / Room F
7 pm (Opening Ceremony) Large Auditorium
8 pm (Panel) Music and Art Influences in SF/F Fiction / Room F

Saturday

9 am (Workshop/Presentation) Business Fundamentals for Creatives / Room 1
Noon (Panel) 50 Years of Computer Gaming / Room E / Moderator
1:30 pm (Book Launch) Set Up / Room 5
2 pm (Book Launch) Room 5
3 pm – 3:30 pm (Book Launch) Clean up / Room 5
6 pm (Panel) Writing Ancient Cultures / Room F / Moderator
7 pm (Panel) Apocalyptic Survival Kit / Room G
9 pm (Panel) Crime and Fantasy / Room 8

Sunday

10 am (Panel) Food & Drink in SF/F / Room F
11:25 am – 11:50 am (Reading) Room 4
1 pm (Workshop/Presentation) Fundamentals of Intellectual Property / Room 1

#Ravencon #williamsburg #williamsburgVA


It’s DragonCon time again!

Sorry I haven’t been showing the love over here, but it’s  been a busy summer!

 

Anyway, if you’re an author, swing by and check out authoressentials.net and authoressentialsworkshops.com!

 

Now, it’s DragonCon time again (already!) and a busy fall schedule.

If you happen to be there, here’s my schedule so far with more to come (Look for Jim Nettles)

Sat 10:00am  208-209  How to Know the Right Business to Start
w/ Ron Daniels <ron@dlawllc.com>
Andrew Greenberg <HDIAndrew@aol.com>

Sat 11:30pm  208-209  Love, Sex, and Relationships in the #MeToo Era
w/ Adrianne McDonald <Adrianne.mcdonald@icloud.com>

Sun  1:00pm  208-209  Social Media Marketing for Authors and Creators
w/ Gail Z. Martin <Gail@ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com>
John G. Hartness
Eric R. Asher
Joseph Nassise
Rick Gualtieri

 

More to come! Follow me at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jimmacauthor and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jimmacauth/ for updates all weekend. Who knows, I may even show twitter @jimmacauth a little time too.

Illogicon 2018

If you’re at Illogicon in Raleigh this weekend, come on by and say hi!

My schedule is:

Friday 3:00 PM (Moderating) – Plunge! Turn Your Hobby into a Career

Friday 8:00 PM (Moderating) – Fair Use and Fandom

Friday 9:00 PM – Aliens Among Us

Friday 11:00 PM – Sex in Other Worlds (18+)

Saturday 2:00 PM – Stranger Than Fiction: Flora and Fauna to Inspire Your Next Fantasy World

Sunday 10:00 AM – (Moderating) How What We Read for Fun Sculpts Us

Sunday 12:00 PM – Reading!

Sunday 2:00 PM – Living the Dream and Getting Paid

 

There's madness to my methods… oh wait…