This is the first part of a Halloween story from Stephany Simmons.
The first clue that the day was going to be weird was Carl walking through the door decked out as Darth Vader. Despite the voice disguising device in his mask that made him sound like James Earl Jones, I knew it was Carl. The real Vader wouldn’t be caught dead wearing black converse with his robes.
The second clue was Vader throwing a hissy fit in the middle of the bar. “I SWEAR TO GOD BOYD,” he yelled “If you don’t shut up about it, I’m going to kill myself just so I can strangle you!” Carl’s spirit companion, from what I understood, could be a real pain in the ass.
Carl took one look at me in my Saloon Girl costume and leaned in, resting an elbow on the bar. “Hello Miss Kitty!” he said in the artificial James Earl Jones voice. “Where’s the Marshall?”
I snorted. “You mean the lord of the Pagan facts? King of the Halloween buzz kill? Or maybe he who won’t even consider dressing up for Halloween?”
Carl removed his mask. “That’d be the one.”
“LIAN!” I yelled.
Lian poked his head out of his office door. “I can’t really talk now.”
“Oh hell no.” Carl said, putting a little of his former cross-dressing psychic attitude in the statement. “We have to talk, now.”
Lian consulted his watch. “You have five minutes.”
“Okay.” Carl got comfortable on a bar stool. “I was out to dinner with friends last night, normal friends, you know people who don’t know about Boyd. Half way through the meal, they all saw him standing behind me. They asked him to bring another round of drinks and then he disappeared right in front of them.”
“Yea.” Carl said. “Trust me, there’s no missing a little effeminate dude with a 1970’s white man afro.”
“Druids.” Lian said.
“Huh?” Carl and I harmonized.
Lian stared at me, shaking his head. “I’ve been talking to you about it all week, but all you seem interested in is my costume possibilities.”
I sighed. “I thought you were just being annoying.”
Lian huffed and led the way into his office where we all huddled around his computer.
“Blog posts on the subject have exploded this week."
“Really Lian, blog posts? Want me to go out and get you some tabloid newspapers to go with them?” Carl gave me the hairy eyeball and nudged me with his elbow.
“If they can pull off a worldwide ritual tonight, we could be looking at a permanent thinning of the veil between the living and the dead.” Lian said, running his fingers through his hair.
“How do we stop a worldwide ritual?”
“We don’t need to stop all of them, we just need to stop the local ritual. They’re all connected. Disrupting one will stop them all.”
“Okay then.” I said. “Let’s go bust some Druid heads.”
Lian swiveled around in his chair. “It’s not that easy, Figg.” He said, “Lily’s coven has been searching. These Druids are keeping a very low profile.”
The door chime jangled.
“Count me in.” Carl said. “There’s no way I can put up with Boyd in the flesh!”
“Hello!” A voice called and I reluctantly tore myself away from Carl and Lian to tend to work responsibilities.
The visitor was a tiny goth girl wearing a Team Edward shirt and ripped up black jeggings. I stepped behind the bar. “Are you even old enough to be in here?” I asked her, well aware that my face probably looked like I’d smelled something bad.
“I’m 25” she said.
“Yea, and I’m 19. Show me some I.D. sister.”
“Whatever,” She blew me off, “I’m just putting up fliers for a bonfire party tonight.”
I took the flier from her, my mouth hanging open as I read. Samhain stood out at the top and it just got worse as my eyes moved down the page. The words ritual, sacrifice, veil and spirits of the dead stood out, printed in black on the neon orange page. “Who’s organizing this thing?” I asked, but she was already gone. “I hate it when they do that.” I said to the empty room.
“Looks like we’re going to a Halloween party after all.” I slapped the flier down on Lian’s keyboard.
Three hours later, it was full dark and the three of us, four if you counted Boyd all piled into the Lincoln and headed to the ritual. It was being held in a ridiculously public location. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the police allowing it to proceed, but after talking to Lily the witch, Lian reported that it was probably cloaked in magic, visible only to those who were seeking it.
It looked like any other outdoor festival to me. A band played alternative sounding rock on a central stage and two massive bonfires illuminated hundreds of party goers. There were several booths set up and a food truck selling refreshments. Even looking for it, I couldn’t see anything sinister.
We waited all night for something bad to go down. Drunk girls in slutty costumes continued to party and the band played on showing no signs of wearing out.
I was almost asleep, sitting on the Lincoln’s hood, reclining against the windshield when I glanced over at Carl and Boyd was sitting next to him. “Um,” I nudged Lian with my elbow. “Who would you say that is sitting beside Carl?”
Lian scrambled off the hood. “It must be starting.” He said.
“I thought rituals were a midnight kind of thing.”
“Midnight in Ireland.” Lian looked at his watch. “Or it will be in eight minutes.”
The music died and instead, chanting started coming from the bandstand. The crowd’s size doubled as we stood there. Faintly see-through people were appearing as the chanting continued and the human part of the crowd fell into a mass make-out session for all the world to see.
Lian sprinted into the crowd, gracefully avoiding the real people. I started after him and wound up bumping into just about everyone he’d managed not to. Near the stage, the crowd was thick. It would be an orgy scene that would make Caligula proud before too long. “Lian!” I yelled, resting my hand on the butt of the gun I’d hidden in the skirts of my costume.
When I cleared the sea of overly friendly partiers, Lian was nowhere in sight. I pulled the gun and pointed it at the lead chanter. He winked at me. “Sto” I started to yell stop that, but before I could utter the first word, I ran into a wall of what felt like static electricity and the world changed around me.
I was plunged into an inky black night, gun still drawn, finger on the trigger. I yelled for Lian, unable to make out anything. “Over here.” He said, “You don’t have to yell.”
“I can’t see you.” My voice sounded panicky even to my own ears.
Gravel crunched under feet, someone was moving closer to me. I hoped it was Lian. “Your eyes will adjust.” His hand pushed my gun down to my side. “Modern humans forget just how black the night can be.” His other arm went around my waist and pulled me as close to his side as was possible.
“Where are we?”
“I think we’re on the other side of the veil.”
“Are we dead?”
“Not yet. But if the veil becomes solid again while we’re on this side we will be.”
Stephany is hard at work getting her follow up, Vampire Blues out to us. I cannot wait!
Stephany's blog is at http://stephanysimmons.com/blog/
She is on Good reads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5028646.Stephany_Simmons?origin=
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