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April 20, 2014

Demons Ascension - THE Bible

[Posted by Ted H]

exposition dump...part 2...

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[Demons Ascension - THE Bible]

            "So what is it that you even needed?" Matthew asked, ignoring the question. James went to talk, but stopped as he sprang up. "My bag!" he exclaimed "Where is it?" Matthew pointed to a corner of the room where he had tossed the bag. "That thing is radiating with something unholy," he said "I'm not touching it until you tell me what you had me drag in with you."
            James went over and retrieved his messenger bag. Out of it he pulled the book and presented it to Matthew. "For starters, I was hoping you could tell me what it is," he said as Matthew stared at it wide eyed for a moment. "That's" he said as he placed his hands around the book and took it "That's...no, it can't be."
            Matthew opened the book and gasped at what he saw as he flipped through the pages. "Can you read it?" James asked. "No," Matthew responded without looking up "There is nothing alive that can read this. This is a dead language, beyond ancient."
            "So, what, Latin?" James asked. Again, Matthew was not amused. "You obviously know a what it is," James said "So what is that thing?"
            "It's a bible," Matthew said as he continued flipping through the book.
            "Jewish? Or Christian?"
            "Neither. This is not God's bible."
            "Whose is it? The other guy?"
            "This is not a bible from Heaven nor is it from Hell."
            "That was a joke before. You mean to tell me that both sides have their own bible?"
            "And this one is neither."
            "So...So whose bible is that?"
            "You know about the Bible of Heaven, and I just informed you of the Bible of Hell. This bible, however, is known as the Bible of Earth. Bound in flesh and written in the blood of a god, it isn't just any bible, it is THE bible."
            "...You lost me."
            "This realm, earth, existed long before God dared to shape it as he saw fit. It existed before he even existed in theory. Before there were any other realms."
            "Realms?"
            "Earth is, for the sake of simplicity, a nexus or starting point for other realms. Heaven and Hell, for example, aren't separate planes so much as they are augmented realms that are connected to the earth. There are many more than those two though. In theory they all exist, but it's tough to actually prove them because they can come and go or never exist at all. Some are practically in synch with earth, constantly blurring the lines between our world and theirs."
            "...I'm gonna pretend what you said didn't just go right over my head..."
            "Here," Matthew said as he turned to one of the last pages of the book "I can't read the language, but someone once showed me a long time ago a translation they did." He trailed his hands along lines until he came across a section that looked familiar. He looked at James and smiled before he started to read.
            "And in the end there was only darkness, and the powers that be saw to it that it was good. And enter came a being not from this realm who raised his arms and shouted "Let there be light," and there was light, staggering and radiant, driving back any and all that saw it, and he proclaimed it as good. This being proclaimed itself as Elohim and he set forth to change the earth as he deemed fitting. The old gods did not have the strength nor the ability left to challenge Elohim so they retreated to the darkness that remained, for the darkness is infinite and even a being claiming to be not almighty but THE almighty cannot force the darkness to cease. And from that, the great divide occurred."
            Matthew closed the book and laid it on his lap. "Cute story," James said. "I wish I could understand and read the rest," Matthew said "The secrets of the universe are literally sitting on my lap and I can't access them. The stories and secrets of the original superpowers, older than God and the Devil...You need only one hand and not even all of your fingers to count how many of these exist, period, not even just in our realm."
            "But you can figure that one passage," James said "Can't you use it as a Rosetta Stone?" Matthew shook his head. "It is so much more complex than anything I could describe."
            "So what did a demon from Hell want from it?" James asked "And how is this thing connected to what's happening in Chicago."
            "Demons have no use for the old powers," Matthew said.
            "Well, what significance would it have to require human sacrifices?"
            "You're asking me to figure out the motives of a hell spawn using a bible that predates the existence of humanities supposed creator."
            "So...you're saying you wouldn't know."
            "Not without any sort of context. Look, Blake, I know I said I'd help you, but you're asking an awful lot from me."
            James sighed as he sat back down. "Well what about some of these symbols?" he asked as he searched his pocket for the papers he traced back at the apartments.
            "These are," Matthew said as he looked them over "Protection runes. You carve them into an entranceway to prevent, essentially, unauthorized entry. Crude, yet vastly effective, especially if you wish to avoid detection of any sort when you initiate it."
            "Any way to narrow down who would have that kind of knowledge?"
            Matthew looked at James like he was a small child who asked a stupid question. "It's one of the most basic things you can master," he said "Akin to asking a basketball player if they know how to dribble."
            "Yeah yeah, well, how about this?" James said as he passed the napkin over "That symbol look familiar?"
            "Not particularly," Matthew said as he glanced the symbol over "The old gods had no need or concept of symbols."
            "Well how about demons? I think this one was left as a calling card."
            "Hmmm," Matthew said as he kept turning the napkin to different perspectives before getting up and searching his bookshelf for a particular book. "I know that symbol," he continued as he scanned his library "I just haven't..." James waited patiently while he absent mindedly picked up his cup and sipped at it, regretting the decision immediately. Matthew continued searching for a few moments before his head shot up and he immediately reached to a specific place and pulled out a book. It had multiple pieces of written on paper sticking out of its yellowed pages.

April 12, 2014

Demons Ascension - Not Dead

[Posted by Ted H]

aka-exposition dump part 1

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[Demons Ascension - Not Dead]

            There was an annoying and heavy scent of incense in the air. James placed a pillow over his face to stop from smelling it but he learned the pillow itself was also permeated with the smell. Then he realized not only was he now awake, but he was still alive. He sprung up in an unfamiliar room with a series of towel placed over his naked body. the entire bed felt damp with an odd smelling liquid. At the far end of the room in the doorway was a man in a dress shirt and sweater with black rimmed glasses and blond hair spiked up.
            "Where are my clothes?" James demanded.
            The man turned to his left and in a sarcastic tone said "Gee Matthew, thank you for saving my life!" He then turned to his left and spoke more normal but still with a slight hint of sarcasm said "No problem Blake. I sure love putting my ass on the line against Satan's minions to save the insignificant lives of people such as yourself!" James stared at him while he looked back over. "In a pile at the foot of your bed," Matthew said as he turned and left the room.
            James quickly jumped out of bed and scrambled some clothes on. He had no idea how long he was out and it didn't matter to him when he picked up his shirt and examined the hole in the back and the uncomfortable amount of blood that was around it. He reached behind him and felt the cut and some stitching. The entire area around the cut felt sensitive and raw, almost like he was also burned. He threw the shirt on and made his way out of the bedroom.
            Out in the living room sat Matthew in an elaborate armchair while sipping out of a coffee cup. James could tell by the smell that there was no coffee though. "Have something to drink," Matthew said as he motioned to the lone cup sitting on a tray on a nearby table. "No thanks, got some coffee?" James asked as he walked over to a less elaborate looking chair near Matthew. "That wasn't a question, have some," Matthew said "It helps your recovery."
            "I feel fine," James said but took the cup anyway. The drink looked like watery mud and didn't taste that far off. James made a face as he drank some. "It's organic," Matthew said "Good for you." James put the cup down. "Diarrhea is natural too, but you don't see anyone putting it into a cup to enjoy later," he said. Matthew was not amused. James took a second to look around at the vast and cluttered collection of strange books and figures strewn about.
            "Thanks," James said after a moment "Seriously. That guy came out of nowhere. Fast too."
            "That was no man," Matthew said "And he was actually moving pretty slow as far as demons are concerned."
            James waited for Matthew to smile or hint that he was joking, but he maintained a stern look. "Demon?" he asked.
            "Yes, Blake," Matthew said as he folded his hands onto his lap "I know you've pissed off a lot of people in the past, but a soldier of hell coming for you is a record even for you."
            "What makes you think it was a demon?"
            "That thing knew where to stab you; Exactly where you were shot before. That's not dumb luck either, it was right on without looking or moving your shirt. It was also the dagger it used." Matthew picked up a book from the floor and turned to a page that showed a large dagger curved exactly like the one James found in the apartment basement.
            "When I appeared and confronted the demon," Matthew continued "It broke off an end of the dagger in you."
            "Why?" James asked as he inadvertently reached around and placed his hand on his  wound.
            "To kill you faster," Matthew said, maintaining his stern look "It wasn't going to be able to kill you on the spot, so a broken piece of the blade, left to fester in you, would do the trick over time. He wanted you to suffer."
            "But you got it out, right?"
            "Not at first, but I got it. I had to heavily cleanse your spirit before I could even begin to pull it out. The demon obviously did not think I was able to do such a thing."
            "So it thinks I'm out of the picture."
            "Yes. And if you're smart, you'll avoid pissing any more demons off in the future."
            "Not possible. I have a knack for annoying everything I come across."
            "Yes, you are quite the charmer in that regard," Matthew said as he rubbed his temples.
            "How'd you even stop the demon?"
            "The magic of the old gods is still quite potent."
            "Old gods?"

April 6, 2014

Demons Ascension - Still on the Case

[Posted by Ted H]

Google Adolph Luetgert, then come back. Guaranteed you'll never look at sausage the same after.

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[Demons Ascension - Still on the Case]

            John and Lyle waited with a bag of potato chips between them. Neither were allowed near the case anymore, mainly due to what James and John, but both were interested in what was going on in Chief Monroe's office as he and Bradford were having a closed door meeting. Other officers had been coming and going with passing interest, but only John and Lyle were actually waiting around.
            "Scale of one to ten, how angry is Monroe?" Lyle asked.
            "Six," John said.
            "Really? I had money on eight."
            "James left. That was the bigger concern. If Bradford was smart, and he is, then he'd mention that right away."
            "Seriously though, what were you thinking bringing that guy in?"
            "James is smart. He solved Meg Hart's murder when no one else could. Figured his insight would be useful."
            "He solved a murder that a backwoods bunch of idiot cops fucked up. We're not Cazenovia. Besides, he involved the two of you in that matter and you got stabbed in the stomach."
            "Yeah, it didn't go that smooth, but we solved it. The whole reason I switched majors and decided to do what I'm doing now was because of what we did back there. Bradford can't throw too many stones anyway, he used James too."
            "Yeah, I heard about it. Monroe did too. Letting amateurs get involved doesn't sit well with the chief."
            "Think he'll kick Bradford off the case?"
            "If Bradford was white, defiantly."
            "Gotta love race politics."
            "This case should've gone to Truman."
            "Who gets a heart attack at 36 nowadays?"
            "Truman," Lyle said as both laughed for a moment "Best damn homicide investigator, dead a week before some nut starts cutting people's hearts out. Four dead within two weeks. Unreal."
            "The guy ate McDonalds every day for lunch and weighed 300 pounds. It was only a matter of time."
            "Yeah, right before the weirdest set of murdering done since Adolph Luetgert. Sad coincidence."
            "Hmm," John pondered as he stuffed a handful of chips into his mouth "Isn't it our job not to believe in coincidences?"
            Just before Lyle could respond, the door opened and Bradford walked out. He looked mildly annoyed, but no worse than most people see him. "Still on the case?" Lyle asked. "Yup," Bradford said, paying no mind to him as he pointed to John. "Monroe knows about your boy," he said as John rolled his eyes.
            "How thrilled was he about a civilian trumping through all the crime scenes?" Lyle asked.
            "He's more concerned about how Blake knew where to be that night in the church. Did you ever get an answer?"
            "Not one you'd like," John said "Besides, he left. Nothing more he could do."
            Bradford grabbed the bag of chips from John. "Notice how I'm not believing you," he said as he took a chip out "Blake is gone now, but I'd bet all my earthly possessions that he'll be back, otherwise he wouldn't have taken your car. When that asshole rears his head back in this city, I want to know because Monroe has made him my personal responsibility."
            "You gonna arrest him for obstruction?" Lyle asked as John shot him a look.
            "Flimsy reasoning at best, so no," Bradford "Unless he's been tampering with evidence."
            "He's done nothing but help," John said with his best poker face "He's trying to catch this guy too."
            "Either way, he comes back, him and I become real good buddies until he decides to leave for good. If he knows something, I'll know. If he's somehow involved, I'll know. If he turns out to be a Sherlock wannabe without a clue, you bet your ass I'll know."
            "It's been four days," Lyle said as he looked into the now empty bag of crumbs "You really think this guys coming back?"
            "I honestly couldn't give a shit," Bradford said as he walked away "Now if you ladies excuse me, there's a killer on the loose and I'm convinced that he's not done killing." He pointed to a nearby officer. "Lowfield," he shouted "You have anything on that name search?"
            "FBI hasn't gotten back to us yet," Lowfield said back.
            "Call them again," Bradford said as he approached the elevators to leave "I want the names of everyone in their database with even the slightest connection to ritual murders, prioritizing for anyone with a connection to anyone or anything related to a "croal". I want it before morning."
            "Needle in a haystack," Lyle commented as Bradford disappeared into an elevator.
             "What the hell is taking you so long, James?" John asked to himself "We've got nothing on our end."

March 30, 2014

Demons Ascension - The Projects

[Posted by Ted H]

Oh my God...ACTION! Somewhat.....Anyone who knows me knows I like doing constant dialogue but I also love when shit goes down and any sort of struggle takes place, so understand how hard it was for me to wait until almost the halfway point to actually write some confrontation...

Also, Longtime readers of mine should recognize the setting, because it's leading up to the reveal of someone from my last novel. [Gasp! Continuity? Between writings? Who am I to build on a universe?]

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[Demons Ascension - The Projects]

            James headed out and made his way back home, the brown bag of liquor tucked under his arm as he fished out a cigarette. He wondered if just being near a flame would ignite the skull as he lit up and continued walking. He involuntarily shook as he realized it had become considerably colder out than when he first entered the liquor store.
            "Schizophrenic upstate weather," he mumbled to himself as he used his free arm to close his jacket as best he could while picking up the pace of his walk. A large formation of clouds had rolled in and blocked the sun out, but James felt that clouds alone couldn't be responsible for the temperature drop.
            James then happened to glance behind him to see a person quickly duck out of view at the last second. Casually, he looked back forward and continued his walk home, taking great care to listen behind himself for any approaching footsteps. The rest of the way he didn't hear anything and all quick checks behind himself yielded no more sightings of a person following, but he couldn't shake the feeling that someone was still following him.
            Back in his apartment, James made sure to lock and deadbolt the front door. He lived on the second floor with no fire escape, so the only way in was the one door. To be safe though, he went around and made sure all the windows were locked tight. He wasn't sure if the person who may or may not have been following him had anything to do with Sal, but he wasn't taking any chances.
            Feeling more secure, James took out his Jagermeister and placed it into his empty freezer. He then took out and looked over the glass skull bottle. He decided he wanted to try his new expensive drink as he turned it over and access the knob. Where the knob was situated, it was almost entirely overtaken on all sides by the rest of the bottle and James was unable to situate his fingers in a way that would allow him a grip to open the bottle with.
            "Maybe it's called death because you need to kill the bottle," James said as he placed the skull down. He thought about taking a hammer to it as he decided he had better things to do than to drink some Russian vodka promising death. He decided to head out again, not enough money left for food but he didn't mind. Three in the afternoon wasn't quite the evening, but as Ed alluded to before, the evening would be coming sooner than expected. He grabbed a messenger bag and placed the book inside it, then slung the bag over his shoulder.
            James checked and double checked outside before leaving. There was no one around as he thought about taking John's car but decided instead to walk down a few blocks and wait for a bus. It was still cold out as he walked and he spied the occasional snowflake make its way down. He figured with the way the sky was packing more and more clouds into the sky, it would snow a few inches and melt away within a few days. It was far too early in the season for any sustainable snow.
            The bus pulled up and James gave one final look around for someone as he boarded. There were eight people on board and none of them seem to pay any attention to James as he walked passed them towards the back. A few seats ahead of him sat a homeless looking man in a trucker hat and some torn up gloves that had their fingers removed. He was looking out the far side window with his head turned, allowing James to see the side of his head as he inserted his index finger into his nose and start rooting around.
            James looked away as he caught the eye of a mildly attractive woman standing in the aisle a few feet farther away from the homeless guy. She shifted her stance on heels while constantly adjusting a halter top that was a size too small. The short skirt she was wearing was also inappropriate considering the weather. "I don't have any money," James said as she immediately turned away and paid him no more mind. The rest of the ride was uneventful as James found himself strangely drawn to the spectacle of the homeless man searching his nose for buried treasure.
            James got off around the projects district. He always admired the way the crack addicts looked over their shoulders at him as they crouched in the nearby alleyways, as if he was some important person in their lives that they didn't want to see them like this. As he walked through the parking lot of an apartment complex, he passed a black man sitting on a bench with a concealed bottle in a small brown bag. The man took a swig of his drink as James looked at him then furrowed his brow as he shouted "Boy, I ain't got nothin to say to you! Now get the fuck away from me!"
            "Charming," James said to himself as he walked. The apartment complex was run down, but not condemnable. The brickwork was covered in layers of graffiti and most of the ground level windows were boarded up from the inside. There was an iron gate with a broken latch leading into a courtyard. "Top notch security," James said as he used his foot to open the gate and slide through.
            A string gust of wind suddenly blew in from behind and the gate slammed closed. James looked up to see dark clouds roll over the sky as it became impossibly dark out. "Uh oh," he breathed as he turned to go right back out the gate, but it would not budge. Light sounding footsteps on the pavement behind him cued James in to him not being alone.
            As the footsteps reached him, James balled his right hand into a fist as swung wild as he spun around. The approaching person quickly ducked under and was behind James before he could even focus on the guy. What he did see worried him immediately as he took notice of the gray fabric of a trench coat. As James attempted to turn around and see the man's face, he was kicked and ended up tumbling forward several feet.
            The mystery figure then grabbed James by the back of his jacket and toss him into the brick wall as easily as one would pick up a baby. His head bounced off the wall but he did not fall because the figure then ran up and braced him against the bricks face first.
            "You disappoint me," the man hissed into James' ear "You were hyped so well, I expected more. Yet here you fall, more easily than a child."
            "Yeah well, speed and strength aren't my strong suit," James said as his face was slowly being grinded into the bricks "But I'm a snazzier dresser."
            "Not too bright either," he man said as James felt the tip of a knife poking him in the back. He felt the knife drag up towards his shoulders, then back down to his lower back. It then trailed slightly higher and to the right to where an all too familiar injury resided. "This isn't the first time you've meddled and paid the price, but I'll make sure it's the last," he said as he pressed the knife tip slowly into James, the same point where he had been shot by Suzan Daniels years ago.
            There was something else in play with that knife, James just could not tell what. He felt his entire body grow numb. The knife wasn't nearly deep enough to cause any mortal injury, but it was causing him untellable amounts of pain, and the man in gray had only just begun. James began to grow light headed as his vision started to black out. "As much as I would love to keep you around so you may suffer," the man said as he slowly pushed his knife inwards "There is far too much at stake to risk with petty ordeals such as having you around."
            James struggled to cough or scream as the knife pushed farther into him. Suddenly as light flashed behind his field of vision and he felt the knife withdraw. The man released him as he fell crashing to the ground, James lacking the energy to even raise his hands to brace his fall. His hearing felt clouded, but he could make out a different voice chanting something his didn't understand. The light intensified as James attempted to roll over and ultimately passed out. He knew he was still alive since he could hear his heart pounding against his chest.

March 23, 2014

Demons Ascension - No Name Liquors

[Posted by Ted H]

The part of the story where Blake wastes valuable time on a pointless expedition to the liquor store...also where I continue my well defined trend of not wanting to name anything.

...I also make no claim to knowledge of the Russian language...google translate

Blog Housekeeping note: I've added some select one-shot stories and poems to the sidebar just so newcomers don't immediately think this site is all about one or two novels. Also I've edited the "Popular Posts" to only show the last 30 days, not all time. That way new stuff has a shot to make it on there...

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[Demons Ascension - No Name Liquors]

            The next day had a pleasant change in temperature. James actually considered leaving his coat behind as he stepped out. He tried again to call his contact, this time getting an answer. James had explained that he had some questions and he could only do this in person. He was told to stop by in the evening. This gave James the entire day "off" he figured as he decided now was a good a time as any to restock some alcohol, and food if he had any cash left over.
            He set aside enough cash to gas John's car back to Chicago, then set off. It was a little after noon and James decided to hit up his usual liquor store guy who would always sell to him no matter what time of day or county law prohibited. As he walked down the street, he heard a familiar engine rev as a red SUV with tinted windows pulled alongside him and the passenger side window rolled down.
            "Blake," a black man with a toothpick in his mouth said.
            "Ty," James said without looking over as he kept walking, the car crept up with him.
            "Sal's been wondering when you'd get back in town."
            "Short stay," James said "I'll be gone before you know it. Best ignore that you saw me."
            "Nigga, please," Ty said with a wide grin "It wasn't me who saw you. You think I ain't got better things to do than watch the streets for your creepy ass?"
            "Yeah, my neighborhood isn't for people like you. Way too upscale. Too far from the nearest crack house."
            "Usually your smart ass mouth entertains me, Blake, but you best shut it and listen."
            "I'm not staying. I will literally be gone by tomorrow, so whatever Sal wants can wait."
            "Oh you best make time for Sal before me makes time for you."
            "Do you even listen to yourself when you talk, Ty?"
            "Whatever, bitch. And my neighborhood is fucking immaculate compared to this shithole you live in."
            "You're right. The hookers a block away from your den really brings the whole street together in an aesthetically pleasing way."
            Ty turned to the man driving the car he was in and asked "Can you understand what this mother fucker is saying." The driver smiled as he shook his head.
            "Always the intelligent conversations with you, Ty," James said as he began to walk faster, absent mindedly thinking he could out power walk a motor vehicle "My bad, I forgot to keep all words to three syllables or less with you."
            "Shut the fuck up," Ty said as he snapped his hand at James as he began to talk loud and slow at him "Sal. Be there. We're not asking."
            With that he rolled his window up and the SUV sped up down the road, leaving James. As he turned the corner, he stopped momentarily at the sight of Stan waiting for him, arms crossed and casually leaning against a fence. James was both surprised at the sight and at the same time felt like he should have expected as much. "We should talk," Stan said as James kept walking and passed right by. "You're gonna have to get in line," James said without looking back "Scarier people are demanding my attention, and I'm in no rush to see them either."
            "Scarier, eh?" Stan asked but made no effort to actually follow James "You're wasting days you don't have, Blake." James waited until he was a good length away before checking behind him. Unsurprisingly again, when he looked, Stan was nowhere to be found. "I gotta learn that trick," he said as he approached the liquor store.
            The liquor store was one of those old style setups with the huge bars over the windows and some tacky neon signs over the door that made it seem like it would rather be a bar. Inside was a mess of disorganization that would make any OCD patient cripple in horror. The border along the top of the walls was lined with liquor types from rum and whiskey to vodka, yet the set up below was anything but. The whiskey was displayed on the opposite end of the store from where the border said it would be, the vodka was actually scattered into various areas. For a first timer, finding what you needed would be a disorienting journey. For a regular like James, it was a system you were used to. Oddly enough, there was no name above the store, but that was intentional.
            "Blake!" A pudgy man from behind the front counter said as he put down the porno magazine he was reading "Someone said you skipped town."
            "Nah, just a family emergency, Ed" James said.
            "You don't have a family," Ed said with a sideways look.
            "Extended family?"
            "Not buying it."
            "Someone did die, I assure you."
            "Awe, that's sad. Anyone I would know?"
            "From Chicago?"
            "So, no."
            "Friend of a friend."
            "You don't have friends either."
            "Anyone tell you that you missed your calling as a comedian?"
            "I assume whatever you're doing has the potential for a few bucks?"
            "You know me so well."
            "So what brings Mr. James Blake to No Name Liquors?"
            "Some of the usual," James said as he made his way towards the back corner "Got anything new in?"
            "Do I?" Ed said with excitement that suggested he'd been waiting all day for someone to ask him. He rummaged behind the counter while James picked out a tall bottle of Jagermeister and walked it to the counter. As he placed the bottle down, Ed sprang up with a skull shaped bottle of something clear and placed it next to the bottle.
            "And just what am I looking at?" James asked.
            "Pure, powerful, Russian Vodka. Strong as hell."
            "180 proof?"
            "If I didn't know better, I'd say it was 300 proof."
            "Riiiight. So it's gasoline in a skull bottle."
            "That's how it's packaged. The box calls it something funny. "Smeptibuh" or something."
            "It says "
смерть" you dolt. It's Russian for "death". Are you even suppose to have this?"
            "Probably a mix up, but we haven't been called about it. Tell you what. I'll sell it to you for cheap. Call it a loyal customer discount."
            James looked at the bottle for a moment. "What's its usual price?" he asked.
            "A wise man once said if you have to ask, then you sure as hell can't afford it."
            "Does my "loyal customer apply to my Jager as well?"
            Ed smiled as he help back a laugh. "Sure," he said.
            As Ed punched some numbers into his register, James picked up the skull glass and peered into it. The way to open it was a knob on the base, virtually unseen when the skull was placed down upright, allowing an unobstructed view through the rest of the skull. James wasn't even sure there was anything inside since the liquid inside was so crystal clear. The weight of the skull and the tiniest of air bubbles are what suggested to the fact that there was something inside.
            "$61.66," Ed said as he reached for a brown bag.
            "Jeeze," James said as he pulled out his cash.
            "Whoops, forgot to ring up the Jager too."
            "I don't even wanna know," James said as he peeled off several twenty dollar bills and placed them on the counter.
            "I suggest you give up smoking before you drink this. The way you go, you'll blow up the whole damn street."
            "Right. How many of those do you even have back there?"
            "Just the one," Ed said as he took the money "I like to think that somewhere in Russia, someone is getting a case of Ketel One that was supposed to come here."
            Well, it's their loss," James said as he took his goods and stepped for the exit "Tell Roger and Maggie I said hi."
            "Come back real soon and spend all your money."
            "You think with all the money I give you guys, you'd at least be able to put a sign over this place."
            "That would defeat the whole purpose."
            "Yeah, who'd want people to actually know what this building was, right?"
            "We get by."
            "Right. By the way, you wouldn't happen to have the time, would you?"
            "Almost three. Feels like it's five though, damn daylight savings malarkey."
            "Thanks. See ya."
            "Have a good one, Blake."

March 16, 2014

Demons Ascension - The Number You Are Trying To Call...

[Posted by Ted H]

.........and the tie ins to "That One Night" begin...

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[Demons Ascension - The Number You Are Trying To Call...]

            It had taken James the better part of the day to drive home; a depressing little city called Syracuse. By the time James got home to his apartment, the sun was already set. The place wasn't very big, but James always figured it fit the life he was leading. The neighbors never bothered him and it was within walking distance of a liquor store, a bar and a strip club; none of which James deemed essential but each a definite plus for himself. Inside were several plants he often neglected to water and an infestation of something crawling around inside his walls.
            As he entered, James tossed his coat in the same corner he usually did, three other coats sat crumpled nearby. He walked to the kitchen and lightly tossed the book onto the table as he passed. He flipped on the small television in the corner of the room and waited for any mention of the Chicago murders. After realizing how the local stations cared more about the local college's embarrassingly bad football team than the occurrences of the rest of the world, he switched the TV off and pulled out his phone book. He  searched and tracked down a certain number to dial. James dialed and waited patiently as the phone on the other end rang endlessly.
            "C'mon," James said as the phone just kept ringing. Eventually he gave up and hung up the phone. He sat at his table for a moment with his head in his hands. "This is crazy," he said as he reached over and pulled the book he brought over. He flipped through the pages again, hoping that something would appear that he would recognize. He knew most foreign languages when he saw them, but this was something he'd never seen before.
            "Not even a picture to look at," he said as he lit a cigarette and walked over to his fridge. "Lucky," he said as he pulled out a couple 40 ounce bottles and returned to the table. He proceeded to go through the book, page by page as he drank, looking for anything that could tell him what its purpose was. After both bottles were emptied and the book skimmed cover to cover, he put his head down on the table in frustration.
            "This book is beyond me," he said as he picked his head up and rubbed his eyes. He didn't know how much time had passed, but he was tired and the book had given him a headache. He looked over and pondered his phone book for a moment before he grabbed it and searched out a new number. He sat back and dialed the number as he lit a new cigarette and waited.
            "Hello?" a voice on the other end said after a few rings.
            "Hey Tom," James said "It's...it's James."
            "Blake?"
            "You know anyone else by that name that have saved you from jail time?"
            "What do you need, James?"
            "Remember the good old days?"
            "We never had good old days."
            "Relatively speaking."
            "The two of us probably had one of the more atypical years of college."
            "Sure was memorable though."
            "You call me to reminisce about my dead ex-girlfriend?"
            "Back when a murder was nothing more than one person killing another for simple reasons."
            "What's going on?"
            "Nothing," James said as he couldn't help but start to flip through the book again "Remember John's sisters?"
            "...Yeah," Tom said with hesitation. James knew he was throwing the man for a loop.
            "What do you think would have happened if I went with you guys to that party?"
            "You would've had fun. Probably would've gotten laid too."
            "Think it would have kept you from getting hit?"
            "God dammit...I told him never to tell you that story."
            "Sorry, but seriously, what do you think would have happened?"
            "I probably would have kept better track of which twin was which. Why? You think you could've gotten with Brittany?"
            "I thought Brittany was the one you were trying to get with that night?"
            "Piercings don't really do it for me. You remember that fight Meg and I had when she gauged her ears?"
            "Vaguely. But you still wanted to take Brittany home with you that night."
            "Well," Tom said before pausing for a moment "She was into me, both were, and Brittany was just more aggressive than the other one. I ended up drinking a little too much and forgot the timid sister even existed for a while. That led to my little mix up."
            "Who would have guessed..."
            "Listen, can we not talk about my exes?"
            "Sure...so, how's the wife?"
            James and his old roommate continued with random small talk for some time, with James only paying some detached attention as he flipped through the pages of the strange book. After a while, Tom comments about how it was getting late and hung up. James stood up and wandered over to the front door, wondering if it wasn't too late to walk down to the liquor store.
            Tom was a much different man than what James knew in college. Back then he was lazy, unintelligent, showered rarely and was promiscuous, even after he started dating Meg Hart. After Meg was murdered, he took on a slightly different perspective on life. Now he was happily married with a child, a second on the way and word was that he actually took up showering regularly. Not much could be said for his intelligence, but seeing how he graduated and James never got the chance, he would reserve the right to insult the man.
            A steady rain had begun outside, so James dismissed the notion for more booze and decided to retire for the night. The ache in his head wasn't going away and his amateur treatment of cigarettes and more cigarettes didn't seem to be working. He resisted the urge to look at the book anymore as he wandered his way into his bedroom and kicked off his shoes. After spending the last few nights sleeping on couches, the allure of his was bed was strong.
            He laid in bed and listened to the rain hit his window for a time while he lost himself in his own thoughts. He kept going back to the night the Praque siblings and Tom all went to the party without him. He wondered what would have happened if he had gone and hooked up with one of the sisters, or had at least prevented Tom from mixing up sisters. What could have changed from that one night in Cazenovia?
            "Meg would still be dead and I'd still be kicked out," he said, partly answering his own question. But he also wondered what impact things would be for the sisters. Maybe if one of them ended up with Tom, they would be the happy wife living in some suburb outside of Buffalo and the other sister wouldn't have ended up in Chicago. Either way, Stephanie wouldn't have been where she had been when she died.
            But James then pondered the actual ritual murders themselves. It had to be Stephanie and it had to be in that house. Would someone else had died in that house or would Stephanie would have died elsewhere? He decided these questions were too big for him in his current tired state and attempted to drift into sleep. His last thought was that of regret; That somehow, some way, he would have been able to spare Stephanie her fate if he had only a little more backbone back in college.

March 9, 2014

Demons Ascension - Well THAT Went Well...

[Posted by Ted H]

Wherein the protagonist finds out he's not very good at interrogations...

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[Demons Ascension - Well THAT Went Well...]

            As John was call calling in the situation, James figured Bradford would have some choice words to say, and would want to know the significance. James knew there would be difficulty in that especially with how things have been to this point. He looked down and the book in his hands and flipped through various pages, but the writing was in some language he never saw before. He knew if he could figure out what this book was, then he could determine what the ritual murders were trying to accomplish, and maybe figure out the next target before it was too late.
             "What you say?" James asked as John approached, now off the phone. "I just called in some officers saying that I found something." he said "They're wrapping up for now at the church. Victims name was Father Nicholas Brooks."
            "Anything to do with the previous vics?" James asked.
            "So far, not a chance. Stephanie never really went to church and Williams was from the other side of town. Maybe some digging into Brooks can yield something, but I'm not too optimistic about it."
            "So, despite a new murder and victim, you guys are still where you started?"
            "Actually, there is a pattern that Bradford noticed."
            "What's that?"
            "Williams was killed six nights ago. My sister six nights before that."
            "So you're thinking this guy will strike in six more days?"
            "I don't know what to think," John said as he looked down at the book James was flipping through "Why did you take the book?" he asked "That could be evidence."
            James shrugged "You guys won't be able to read this." he said as he closed the book and tucked it under his arm.
            "And you can?"
            "No, but I know a guy who might."
            "Who?"
            "Friend of a friend of a friend. Something like that. Met him a couple times, has a knack for supernatural stuff like this."
            "Think if we brought him here he could help?"
            "You'd have to go a long way to find this guy, but he could help me."
            "So let's go have a chat with him."
            "No, just me."
            "Why?"
            "This guy, he's...a little different. He doesn't own a cell phone and he rarely leaves his house. No way he's gonna cooperate with someone around he doesn't know and especially if that someone is a cop."
            "So you're saying that you alone, with that piece of evidence, can get us the answers we need."
            "Yes," James said knowing full well that police procedure would be nothing short of punching James in the mouth and taking the book for professionals to look at as evidence.
            John stood for a moment and shook his head. "You're sure that is the clue we need?" he asked as James looked up and locked eyes with him. "Yeah," he replied "We just need someone who can read it."
            "Where is this guy?"
            "Back in New York, not far from where you found me."
            "How can you get there?"
            "Uh...bus? Maybe a plane would be quicker if you wanna loan me some cash."
            John tossed James the keys from his pocket. "Go," he said "Find some answers." James smiled as he all but ran for the door in excitement, but a woman entering got in his way and they almost knocked each other over. She gasped as she almost dropped the coffee in her hand and backed up. "I'm so sorry," she said as James exhaled and nodded. "Are you ok? I didn't see you there," she said as James waved her off and apologized. She was wearing a large tan colored coat that was mostly covered on her shoulders by long red hair. She wore black gloves on each hand and she wore leather boots that disappeared unto her coat, leaving James to wonder just how up far they reached. On her head she wore a black knit hat, leaving her pale face as the only exposed part of her entire body. She had thin framed glasses that were slightly fogged as they sat on her red cheeks.
            "Amanda, do not get in the way of police investigation," Mark exclaimed as he rushed in from another room. "Police?" Amanda asked as James just knew John was rolling his eyes again. "What are you investigating?" she asked as James smiled. "Uh..." he started and tried to keep the book from view "Yeah, well, we're not at liberty to talk about this, uh, investigation. Right, Mark? Need to know only."
            Mark pondered it for a moment before his eyes lit up and he smiled. "Yes!" he said "Need to know only! Only important people, like me and the police." Amanda nodded slowly and apologized. "By the way, officers," Mark said as he walked over to James "I've called supervisor about that door. We should have it open soon!" James couldn't help but laugh a little. "It's detective," John corrected Mark before pulling him aside "And about that door..." John pulled Mark into the staircase, leaving James and Amanda alone.
            "Again, I'm really sorry," Amanda said as she side stepped to allow James to leave. "Happens all the time!" James lied "Most people wouldn't even think I'm a cop. I'm James by the way." Amanda laughed as she shook his outstretched hand. "Well," she said "I honestly thought, and hoped, you were a new arrival."
            "New arrival?"
            "Oh yeah. Some people are gone now, so there's room for rent I believe."
            "That's odd," James said "Mark said there was no vacancy."
            "Oh," Amanda said "Maybe he doesn't know. Friend of mine in the building said a few of the guys wouldn't be around here much longer. I naturally figured they were leaving. I assumed Mark knew."
            "Any of them named Crow by any chance?" James asked, not expecting much of a result. Amanda nodded quickly and smiled. "No, he's still around. He's actually the friend I just mentioned." James no longer wanted to leave. "I need to see him, now," he said. "Police business," he added.
            They made their way to the elevator and went to the top floor. "So you live here alone?" James asked as they stood together in the cramped elevator. "Yeah," Amanda said "Low income housing is the worst, but some of the people around here make it interesting."
            "Low income? That hard finding a good job?"
            "I don't like working boring jobs. But the interesting ones don't pay very well."
            "How are the people around here?"
            "Great. Crow is a doll to have around, though I'm not sure I'm his type. And times I think he doesn't even prefer girls."
            "What about the people he typically hangs with?"
            "Bunch of...random dudes. I dunno. I never really liked his friends. Creepy guys."
            "And they're all gone now?"
            "Last I checked," Amanda said as the elevator stopped and they got off. "One day Crow mentions that they're gonna be gone soon. Next thing I know, I don't see them about anymore."
            "What about Crow? He make plans to leave."
            "No, he told me he'd be sticking around. Said he could never imagine not having me as his neighbor. I thought that meant he was into me, but I can never tell with him. You think that means a guy's into you?"
            "So," James said with a smirk "I take it no boyfriend in your life."
            "What makes you think that?" Amanda said with a smirk of her own as she led him down the hall.
            "By the way, I'm not a cop," James said with a wink as they walked down the hall. Amanda thought about it a moment before winking back "I get it," she said "Undercover." James chuckled to himself as they approached what was Crow's apartment. "He lives right across the hall from me," Amanda said as she pointed behind James. "There's my room," she said with an arched eyebrow that got James' attention as she turned, red hair being flipped towards his face as she spun, and knocked on Crow's door.
            As Amanda knocked, James realized he had nothing to approach Crow with that wouldn't tip his hand about the police investigation. "You know, actually I'm a little busy right now," he said as he began to back up. At the very least he probably could use John and his gun backing him up. "But you came all this way," Amanda began as the door opened.
            Out stepped a man wearing black pants and a blue satin shirt with a fire design on it. He wore thin rimmed glasses with a light amount of black makeup around each eye. He had jet black hair gelled into place in a messy way and he had a cigarette tucked into his left ear. "What?" he asked in a light, crackly voice.
            "Crow," Amanda said "This is my friend, James. James, this is Crow." Crow looked over at James with his blue eyes almost as if he was trying to burn holes right through him. James had closed his coat with the book inside and crossed his arms to hold it in place. "I've heard a lot about you," James said, trying and failing to not make things awkward.
            "From who?" Crow asked.
            "Wouldn't happen to know a guy named Rickey Kenton?"
            "Never heard of him."
            "How about a chick named Amy?"
            "Nope. You a cop?"
            "Of course I'm not a cop."
            "You smell like a cop."
            "You smell bacon?"
            "No. I smell cop on you, among other things."
            "The name Stan ring a bell, Crow? Cuz he knows you I think."
            Crow narrowed his gaze. "There a reason you're bothering me?" he asked.
            "Heard a lot of your friends are gone. You wouldn't know where they are now, would you?"
            "We're done here."
            Crow immediately went back into his room. Amanda drew breath through her teeth and had an unsure look on her face. "I dunno what that was, but he's usually a lot friendlier." James backed his way towards the elevator. Amanda followed. "I guess he's just upset that all his friends left," she continued "But he's always been a much sunnier person."
            "Even behind all that eyeliner?" James asked. "Don't knock it," Amanda said "He makes it look good." James called for the elevator and took the book back out. "You think he's involved in something?" Amanda asked as James stepped back into the elevator. "I'm not too sure," James said "But do me a favor, would you?"
            "Of course," Amanda said as she stood straight and smiled. "You know that other cop? The one that went with Mark?"
            "Yeah, I remember him."
            "Could you just find him and let him know about my little chat with Crow? He'll know what to do from there."
            "You can't tell him yourself?"
            "I need to be somewhere, specifically not here. Gotta go out of town for a case."
            "Oh," Amanda said with a look of disappointment "Leaving town already?"
            "I'll be back before you know it," James said with a smile "We'll do dinner when I get back?"
            "I'll hold you to that," Amanda said as the doors closed, leaving James to go down alone.
            "Real smooth, James," he said as he dropped his head against the wall. Finding Crow caught him off guard and blundering right at the supposed man behind all of this was probably the last thing James should have done. Crow was odd, but something was definitely up with the man. The only real problem was convincing any cop in Chicago to do anything about him.
            James decided not to let any of that bother him when he stepped off the elevator. He made his way to the street as police brushed their way passed him on their way in. James immediately walked to John's car and fired up the engine. He had some serious driving to do, and dinner with a redhead waiting for him when he got back. But first, he needed some coffee for the road.