A Taste of “The 10th Demon”
I’m pushing my book series for Halloween. Scary books with demons and vampires and ghouls and . . . well go the order page and check them out! And, for those of you who are faithful readers here is Chapter One of the upcoming “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone”
7:46 A.M. CDT
Quantum flux surveillance
Grimvox Mammalian Neural Interface
“Animals, especially dogs and cattle . . . have shown noticeable agitation in the presence of UFO phenomenon.”
“So, this here lady says she’s lost her ‘Poopems’?” Theo King asked Jonathan as they stood on the perfect lawn of the small house. In contrast to the tiny gnome guarding the flowers around the front porch, Theophilus Nosmo King towered over six and one half feet tall and tipped the scales at three hundred fifty pounds. Very little of his mass was fat. He wore a black and gold Saints football jersey and long athletic pants. He pulled off his sunglasses and wiped sweat from his face. “Who would call their husband Poopems?”
Jonathan Steel put a piece of gum in his mouth and looked up at his partner. “We are what we do.”
“Ah, I get it. He’s like Cephas. The old man shouldn’t eat cabbage.”
“He likes cabbage.”
“Yeah, but cabbage don’t like him!” Theo looked up at the sun and back down at Steel. “What does losing ‘Poopems’ have to do with demons?”
Steel shook his head. The sun burned with incredibly intensity after the clouds left by the hurricane had receded. Already, sweat soaked his tee shirt and dripped down his legs inside his jeans. He should have worn shorts. “I don’t know. I’m just doing my next-door neighbor a favor. She asked me to help her friend.”
Theo raised an eyebrow and the sunglasses sitting on his forehead moved with it. “You have a neighbor? Someone actually came over to your house and asked for coffee or something?”
Steel gave him his best acid look. “Are you saying I’m not the friendly sort?”
Theo shrugged and pushed his sunglasses back down over his eyes. “You just as soon bust somebody’s chops as say ‘good morning’. That’s all I’m saying.”
Steel took off his cap and wiped sweat from his short hair. “There’s a lady lives in the condo next to mine. I asked her to check on the condo while I was gone. Her husband put up the window and door covers when Hurricane Leo came through. In return, I told her I’d help her friend.”
“She probably all wobbly from those eyes of yours.” Theo said.
Steel blinked. His eyes glowed a bright turquoise. Some people found them beguiling. He found them a nuisance. “She was probably color blind, Theo.”
“Fine with me. Not a whole heap of damage here, eh Chief?”
Steel looked down the street lined with oak trees and palm trees. Hurricane Leo had pounded Orange Beach, Alabama. It had only skirted Pensacola. “Don’t look like it.”
Theo nodded and glanced up at the burning sun. “Hot as Hades out here. When we get inside, I’ll turn up the AC. You talk to the little old lady. Let’s go find Poopems.”
Steel watched the huge man walk across the lawn toward the small house. Just a few weeks before, Theophilus Nosmo King had been a drugged up homeless wreck of a man. Steel had seen something worth saving in the man when he had tried to rob Steel one night outside a shopping mall. Steel didn’t know why he sometimes heard the still, small voice inside telling him to “save” someone but he was glad he had heard it that night. Theo had helped save Josh Knight from the twelfth demon, Rudolph Wulf. And, he had been by Jonathan’s side when he faced down the eleventh demon. Since that time, Theo had sobered up and was now his partner in this odd business of tracking down evil in the lives of ordinary people.
Steel took off his sunglasses and wiped sweat from his forehead. For a second, he studied his reflection in the mirrored sunglasses. His bright, turquoise eyes gleamed in the sunlight and once again he wondered just who he was. His amnesia had not released its hold on his mind. For over a year now, he had tried to recover the lost memories of a lifetime as he pursued the powers of darkness across the land. He sighed and pushed the sunglasses back over his eyes. He spit the gum into the broken shells of the house’s driveway. It didn’t take him long to get tired of gum.
“You coming, Chief or are you gonna get some more sun?” Theo asked from the front porch of the small house. He wished the man wouldn’t call him that.
“And then Elvira just floated up into the air right up there next to the chandelier.” The old woman gestured toward the chandelier above the dining room table.
“So, Mrs. McGilacutty, Elvira floated up past the chandelier and then what?” Steel asked.
Mrs. McGilacutty looked back at him with her incredibly pale face and powdered wrinkles. Crying had rimmed her eyes in red. “Elvira just disappeared. Right through the ceiling.”
Steel blinked and leaned forward across the table. “Did your husband go and try to find Elvira?”
“Then where did your husband go? I thought you husband was your ‘Poopems’?”
Mrs. McGilacutty opened her mouth and shook her head in confusion. “Elvira is my Poopems.”
Steel closed his eyes and leaned back in the dining room chair. “Where is your husband?”
“My husband has been dead for years.” Mrs. McGilacutty said.
Steel cringed. “Your friend, Mrs. Allen lives next door to me over in Orange Beach.”
“Yes, I heard about your ability to investigate the paralyzed normal.” She pointed a stained tissue in his direction. “I just knew that my Poopem’s disappearance had to be due to something paralyzed normal.”
“Paranormal.” Steel closed his eyes in frustration. This is what he got for making promises. “I don’t really investigate the paranormal. I just help people, well, with evil.”
“And what would you call something that can suck your puppy right through the ceiling, eh?”
“Mrs. McGilacutty are you on medication?”
“Listen here young man, all I have left in the world is my Poopems.” She began to sob. Something huge moved behind Mrs. McGilacutty and Theo stepped into the room.
“I looked all around the house, Chief and I didn’t see any signs of forced entry.”
Steel frowned. “We’re looking for a dog.”
Theo lifted his right foot and studied the underside of his running shoe. “That explains the smell. You are what you do.”
“Poopems is more than a dog!” Mrs. McGillacutty stopped her sobbing. “She is my companion, my friend.”
“What kind of dog?” Theo asked.
“So we’re looking for a dust rag.” Theo grinned. He was enjoying this way too much.
“Poopems is not a dust rag!” Mrs. McGillacutty stood up and her white hair shook with emotion. “Now, Esther told me you were a good man who would help me. So, now that you’re here find my Poopems. She’s been gone for three days.”
Steel looked up at the ceiling. “And, you saw her go through the ceiling?”
“Right after she talked to me.”
“She talked to you?”
“Yes. It was the first time she’s ever said anything to me.” She sniffed. “Sometimes I talk for her. You know, I say what I know is on her mind. In the voice I hear in my head. But, she didn’t sound anything like herself.”
“What did she say?”
“She said the Children of Anak were coming.” Mrs. McGilacutty said.
Steel had expected some weird diatribe about fleas. “Who is coming?”
“The Children of Anak. A. N. A. K. She even spelled it for me. And then, she told me to call Esther Allen and get her to get in touch with you. She said only you could find her.”
Steel raised an eyebrow and glanced at Theo. Now things were getting weird. “Anak? You recognize the name?”
Theo’s forehead wrinkled with thought. “I remember that name from the Old Testament. I’d have to look it up.”
Steel nodded. Before Theo had gotten into drugs, he had been a preacher at a church in California. Among other things. Steel wracked his brain for more information on the word. “It’s there, all right. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s there.”
“You think little Poopems had a visitor?” Theo said. He put his thick hands in the air and waved them around in a ghostly fashion. “Say, maybe Satan!”
“What?” Mrs. McGillacutty glanced at Theo.
“Just calm down, Mrs. McCillacutty.” Steel patted her bony shoulder. “Mr. King is just kidding.” He glared over his shoulder at Theo and the man shrugged his huge shoulders and pointed to the ceiling.
“I think you had best be climbing on up into the attic, Chief.” Theo whispered. “It’s probably hot up there and I’m sure old Lucifer is right at home.” He grinned and pushed his sunglasses back down over his eyes. “I’ll stay here and protect Mrs. McGilacutty.”
“Very funny.” Steel said and looked down the hallway from the kitchen. “Is that the ladder that leads up into the attic?”
“Yes it is. Now you be sweet to Elvira.” Mrs. McGilacutty said. “And, if she talks to you, you answer her back. She has a very sensitive personality.”
Steel stepped off the top rung of the attic ladder and ascended into smothering heat. Hot air hovered in the attic, trapped there by the simmering sun just on the other side of the roof. A year ago, he would have laughed at Mrs. McGillacutty’s assertion that her dog had spoken to her. But, that was before he had met Rocky Braxton and his mentor, the thirteenth demon. Steel had been pulled headlong into the battle between the forces of good and evil and had found himself a somewhat reluctant draftee. He had seen things in the past year that would drive most men mad. The idea of a speaking dog telling its owner about the children of Anak was just another minor incident in a typical day for Jonathan Steel.
Steel felt the heat seep through his tee shirt and blue jeans and sweat instantly burst out on his forehead. He pulled a small flashlight from his back pocket and its tiny cone of light filled the shimmering air with a cone of light. Boxes piled haphazardly around the attic threatened to ignite in spontaneous combustion in the heat. The odor of old cardboard and dry dust filled his nostrils. He wiped sweat from his face and studied the layout of the ceiling joists to determine where the dining room should be. He carefully stepped from wooden beam to wooden beam avoiding the insulation until he rounded a vertical support and made out the peaked roof over the dining room. There, hovering a meter from the highest point of the peak was the tiny furred body of a dog rotating in circles as if it were a planet.
The hair stood up on Steel’s neck. He had seen human sacrifices. He had been attacked by a giant scorpion. He had fought off an army of vampires and had almost been shot by a white-eyed ghoul. But, still the sight of something ordinary gripped in the claws of the supernatural filled him with a primal terror. He drew a deep breath and said a quiet prayer for help.
He stepped slowly across the beams until he stood just beneath the slowly rotating body of Elvira, Mrs. McGillacutty’s Poopems. The dog seemed paralyzed and no worse for wear for having hovered in the stifling heat of the attic for the past three days. He illuminated the rotating dog with his flashlight and it suddenly came to life.
Elvira began to wiggle as if struggling against some unseen force until she looked down at Steel. Something filled the dog’s eyes with intelligence and a tiny voice issued from the dog’s snout.
“We’ve been waiting for you, Jonathan Steel. It’s time for us to play. The sons and daughters of Anak are here.” Mist poured from the tiny dog’s mouth and the air became frigid. Steel shuddered as the heat receded in a mist of moist, frigid air. His breath steamed.
“Who are you?”
“Friends of the tenth demon. And he will see that you are swallowed up by the mouth of Satan! Swallowed whole by the molten breath of Satan down his gullet, down his mouth!” Elvira said. Then, she fell onto Steel’s head and he stepped backward onto soft, mushy insulation. He felt the sheetrock ceiling crack beneath his weight and he fell backward. His back thudded against wooden beams as he plummeted. He grabbed Elvira in a desperate hug as he landed on Mrs. McGillacutty’s dining room table. It cracked beneath his weight and he finally came to rest on the floor surrounded by insulation, sheetrock, and broken table bits. Mrs. McGillacutty’s face appeared over his and she smiled as she pulled Elvira from his grasp.
“You found my Poopems.” It was the last thing he heard as he faded into unconsciousness.
If I can sell enough copies of “The 11th Demon” then I can get this book out and into the hands of my readers by early spring 2015. Keep looking to the skies!!!