Friday, April 28, 2017

The Once and Future Dufton


"So that was awkward."

"I didn't tell you to hug her." Gilbert was driving fairly fast, Clarissa felt he was trying to lose Sylvia, but seeing as her car was a lot nicer than Gilbert's fan, she figured that wouldn't be a thing he'd be able to do.

"I'm talking about you two, what could she have possibly done to keep you so distant."

"Sold her soul to a south american god of the hunt to save herself." Clarissa sat there in silence for a bit.

"That would do it I guess."

"She actually the older sister, up near her eighties even, but she was on an expedition down south, followed some damn fool or another and one plane crash later things were looking pretty grim until she accepted that offer."

"Well its hard to judge..."

"I damn will judge her, you never accept a deal like that if offered, Clarissa you don't know Gods like I do, they never do anything for your benefit, what Sylvia did was accept a deal that will come due later and she'll be paying to the hilt for it trust me."

"You say this while telling me to give my soul over to a demon." Gilbert felt flushed in the face.

"That's different, we aren't doing anything for the heaven/hell dynamic, we are merely telling them we'll play by the rules giving the one piece of currency we have."

"So us giving our soul over is ok because we get a worse deal than Sylvia got." Gilbert felt flustered.

"It's completely different, but I'm not going to get into this argument with shiiiiii." Gilbert had turned a corner towards the Dufton estate when he almost slammed right into an overturned car. Sylvia almost hit the van as she stopped too. Gilbert could see smoke and fires beyond the car, he was already too late for Dufton.

"A little warning next time?" The three of them had exited their vehicles, Clarissa saw Sylvia had armed herself with some kind of old fashioned rifle, all wood side panels and the barrel looked to have some weird inscription in it.

"Oh hey Sylvia I'm going to suddenly stop when a car is just overturned near me."

"Asshole." Gilbert opened up the back of his van and futzed around, Clarissa thought for a moment he'd open the green box, but instead he took out the revolver and fluids.

"No bone this time?"

"Don't have one, and he's not a monster like Paul was, he's just a man bullets should work, or this stuff." Sylvia looked at the jar, it was a black goo with gold flecks in it.

"Troll blood? Why would you?"

"It's caustic, shit will burn through most things, I know my business Sylvia, besides I got you and that rifle in case it doesn't, Clarissa you stay with Sylvia, don't know what Dufton is up to, but I don't want you getting hurt."

"I took on Paul, I can handle..."

"Stay." Gilbert's tone told Clarissa the matter was settled. Clarissa looked to Sylvia who was standing near the end of the wrecked car, she shrugged.

"Fine, but if you get killed."

"I'm not getting killed." Gilbert moved to the front of the car, said something to Sylvia, and then Clarissa lost site of him. She moved up to Sylvia herself who had taken bullets out of a leather bandoleer and put them in her fist.

"It's to reload, the rifle only holds one shot."

"Is everyone a mind reader in this industry?" Sylvia chuckled.

"It was all over your face, and before you ask, I don't need a scope Sinaa gives me the sight." Clarissa felt her face go flush, she was glad that Sylvia was too focused on watching Gilbert run between cars as he approached the Dufton mansion.

The subdivision that Dufton lived on had become a war zone. At some point police had been called in and their bodies lay next to their cop car. In a past life the one before working with Gilbert, Clarissa might have been surprised by the carnage she could see, bodies splattered and decapitated, but after her visit to Geode Creek nothing was surprising. Gilbert was almost to the gate of the Dufton place when Dufton emerged covered in blood and wielding the ax.

Sylvia didn't wait, she fired, the booming echo almost hurt Clarissa's ears. Dufton didn't even react to it. It was far enough away Clarissa couldn't see if the round hit or not, but judging on Gilbert jumping back it had, but it just didn't do anything. Gilbert himself opened fire and had a similar non reaction. The slime didn't seem to do anything either.

"Never seen something like this, it's like he's possessed." Clarissa had an idea and ran back to the van. Sylvia didn't even notice she wasn't here as she fired extra shots hoping one of them would stop Dufton. Clarissa grabbed the dust and one of the ghost papers from earlier and ran towards Gilbert. She heard Sylvia call after her, but ignored it because she could see Dufton had knocked Gilbert around pretty badly. When she arrived the possessed man was about to cleave Gilbert in two.

"Hey asshole, read this!" She threw the dust on him and the paper, immediately Dufton seized up, the air smelled like sulfur briefly and then he collapsed, blood oozing from the multiple wounds he'd received.

"Read this?"

"Couldn't think of something good."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sylvia Plath, Not the Poet


"There are things I saw in there that will haunt me." Clarissa removed the ear plugs Gilbert had given her upon entering. It felt like hours had gone by, but based on where the sun was in the sky it was at best mid afternoon.

"Ghosts are like that, especially Mortensen satan spit on his awful soul."

"I made a perfect pun joke set up and you just let it fall to the floor."

"No I got it, I just chose not to engage." Clarissa stuck her tongue out at Gilbert and he laughed. They needed some levity after sending Mortensen and his band of awful spirits to wherever they would go in the afterlife, both hoped hell or some place stronger. Neither person noticed the BMW coupe parked next to Gilbert's van. It wasn't until the driver said something they were shaken from their revelry.

"Not even a hello Gil?" Gilbert looked at her for a moment and cursed and spit into the dust.

"Sylvia I heard you were in town, but I hoped much like a lot of bad rumors it was false."

"You cut me deep Gil, is that anyway to talk to your sister in law?" Sylvia was in her 40's by Clarissa's estimation, she had raven black hair and a scar that ran underneath her right eye from the bridge of her nose to the back of her face where Clarissa lost track of it. She was dressed in a loosely hanging suit and looked like a lawyer if not for the facial scar.

"I liked your Cadillac, crash it into a tree while texting?"

"You ever hunt a yeti?"

"Aren't they in the Himalayas? You drove your car over there?"

"Not all of them are, this was in Mexico of all places, damn thing ripped my car in two before I shot it down."

"Hi I'm Clarissa its nice to meet someone from Gilbert's family." Clarissa didn't like being ignored, she had her hand out for a shake and Sylvia pulled her in for a hug.

"It's always nice to meet Gilbert's coworkers they are nicer than he is."

"I'm plenty nice to people who aren't you Sylvia, what are you even doing here?"

"Sylvia Plath nice to meet you Clarissa."

"Like the poet?"

"Exactly like the poet, did you know that when I met Gilbert he didn't even notice that? He's not a man of letters."

"What are you doing here Sylvia?" Sylvia stopped the hug and smiled at Gilbert.

"Your friend Roy..."

"He's not my friend."

"Well your whatever Roy sent me."

"He better have sent you with an ax and an explanation or I'm going to be very upset at that illusionist."

"It was st..."

"God damn it Roy."

"olen by some rich guy you know? Apparently Roy was able to discern that the ax." But Gilbert was already getting in his van.

"Get in we're leaving Clarissa." Clarissa ran to her side of the van, she didn't want to be left behind at the creepy mansion even if they got rid of the ghosts.

"I'll follow you!"

"The hell you will Sylvia."

"You'll need me Gilbert, you'll see."

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Mortensen Place


It was only nine in the morning, but the heat was already coming up. Clarissa felt stifled despite wearing shorts under her jump suit. Eastern washington was a bitch in the summer, but it felt like a really mean one on this particular july day. Her and Gilbert were outside of the dreaded "Mortensen" place.

Once upon a time Vincent Mortensen had been a ruthless merchant. Someone who got rich when times were lean and built his empire on misery. The jewel of the empire was his house which sat on a bluff outside of Ellensburgh. At one point in the past it was surrounded by a lush garden and lawn, but all Clarissa saw was the bones of that, just like she saw the bones of the house. A twisted warped old mansion that looked frightening to be near, let along having to go into. Gilbert seemed to of the same mind as he sat there staring in the heat, and made no move to go inside. He hadn't even been that talkative when they left his house in the morning, just a brief meal of eggs and coffee and away they went.

"So proton packs?"

"Nah ever since that shit in new york they don't let you run around with an unlicensed nuclear accelerator."

"Ghost Busters was real?" Gilbert smiled.

"No I was just having some fun with you."

"Cruel Gilbert, mean and cruel."

"No that's what inside, I don't recall exactly why Mortensen is in there, but I do know from stories he's a right bastard now, and his cruelty has attracted other things. If you didn't want to go in there I'd understand."

"No way, the chance to actually bust some ghosts is not something I pass up."

"I hope you keep that optimism with what we'll see in there."

"Guaranteed, so how do you bust some ghosts." Gilbert sighed and opened the van door, he rummaged around for a bit and withdrew some bags of dust.

"Magic dust? You fight ghosts with magic dust."

"Sort of, its a hoodoo powder."

"You mean voodoo?"

"No hoodoo completely separate, and just as a tip never confuse the two or you'll have some very upset people, just trust me on that as I made the same mistake once upon a time." Gilbert, having said that, went back to the van and pulled out some papers, they almost looked like certificates.

"Is that to certify its ghost free?" Gilbert laughed.

"No no, you hit them with the hoodoo powder and then give them one of these well that's what you do with bad ghosts, the dangerous ones, this is an incantation that sends them where they need to go. With reasonable ghosts you can usually talk them into taking it, they are only a ghost because they are afraid of what comes after, you talk them down, get them to accept they are dead and need to move on one way or another."

"That sounds actually pretty decent, doing it to the nice ones I mean."

"Well if they don't take the damn thing I still hit them with the powder and give them the incantation, ghosts are wrong and need to go either way its the only way we get paid." Gilbert started walking toward the front porch and stopped. He could see Mortensen waiting for him. The old ghost almost looked like a normal person, if you didn't know he was dead you'd almost think he was a lost old man. Gilbert could see it though, the maliciousness behind his eyes. The creature Mortensen had become in death was worse than he was when he was alive and he was a monster when he was alive.

"He's a looker isn't he?" Clarissa startled Gilbert.

"Yeah Mortensen, the last couple to own this place was found skinned alive hanging from the porch."

"Gruesome, you think he's going to just keep standing there so we can get him judged and on to the afterlife." The old man had dissappeared.

"Nope, and the thing you have to understand," Gilbert came up the steps and opened the door inside, "The house is bigger on the inside." With the door open Clarissa could see what looked like some kind of horrific carnival going on inside.

"Well that's terrifying to start."

"Also Mortensen isn't the only ghost here." As Gilbert said that a headless clown came walking by the front of the door.

"This is going to suck right?"


Friday, April 7, 2017

Crazy Roy's Magic


The ax was a mystery. It looked like a well worn fire ax. Nothing jumped out as special to Gilbert or Clarissa. Clarissa even tried to bathe the ax in fire thinking it was like Lord of the Rings and some secret writing would show up. Nothing looked out of place with it, and Gilbert was getting frustrated at looking. It was nearly midnight when he gave up and called his magic guy Roy.

"Sorry for calling so late."

"Gil my shop opens at 5pm, do you think I keep normal hours?" Roy sounded fairly young to Clarissa, even younger than her.

"Well I have this ax..."

"Right took it off that Paul creature right?"

"How did you?"

"I'm a magician Gilbert, I've told you that several times and every time you seem shocked I know things."

"You mean you're a bullshitter, the only magic you seem capable of is taking money and turning it into useless junk."

"That hurts Gil."

"Roy I need you to look at the ax not do your Kreskin act, so are you going to do it or not?" Gilbert's patience had run thin.

"Sure sure no need to bite my head off, I'll make sure to have some coffee on for when you get here." Gilbert looked at Clarissa with a shrug. He almost did a double take, since she had chosen one of Shirley's old jean dresses for a brief moment in the light she looked like her.

"Got to go by Roy's shop, shouldn't take too long, then maybe get a decent night of sleep, see Doris, that sort of thing."

"Fine by me, is he a real magician?"

"No, Roy O'grady is many things, but having actual magic is beyond him. At best he's an illusionist, makes you think you see one thing when you are in fact seeing something else. Most of the time it means you think you are seeing someone competent, when you are in fact seeing someone making shit up. But he's the best at dealing with magical objects, which is a statement on the sorry state of magical research." Clarissa didn't have anything to add to that so into Gilbert's van they went.

Crazy Roy's Magic Shop was near downtown. It was in what had once been the town movie theater. The shops next to it were not occupied, some commercial rental signs sat dustily hanging. Clarissa remembered from her college days, which seemed like years ago despite having literally been days ago, seeing the magic shop with its odd hours and seemingly empty businesses next door wondering how such a hokey place kept in business. Roy himself played the part of the cheap magician. He was wearing a three piece suit like a carnival ring leader, with a large curled up mustache and overly large top hat. Roy looked almost impossibly thin as well, but Clarissa worried if that was an illusion as Gilbert had warned.

"Putting on the ritz for me Roy?"

"Not for you, your new assistant, nice to meet you Clarissa, the name is Roy O'Grady and I'm every bit the scoundrel your boss holds me out as." Gilbert sighed, but Clarissa appreciated the attention even if Roy looked to be at least twenty years her senior.

"Now I know someone told you, had to be Santinni, he's the only one who knew of the ax and Clarissa." Roy frowned.

"Guilty Gilbert, he swung by earlier giving me his usual spiel about not paying for illegally obtained items, making sure things are on the up and up and no creature enslavement, I swear he thinks the worst of me."

"Because he knows you. Now about this Ax." Gilbert put it on the counter, it looked somehow more menacing in the shops light versus Gilbert's living room.

"Mortensen place." Gilbert looked at Roy with a glare.

"Excuse me."

"You want me to look over the ax, I need you to clear out the Mortensen place, you scratch my back, I scratch yours."

"It's a god damned ghost house Roy."

"Yeah and I want to run people through it, but not when there are actives ghosts in it Gil."

"Isn't that what you are selling them on? Seeing ghosts?"

"Not the homicidal kind that rip flesh from your face, the idiot kind like you see on tv where things creak and bump and oh no did you hear a whisper. But that's the deal, you clear the Mortensen place, I'll look over your murder ax, deal?" Roy held his hand out and Gilbert reluctantly shook it. Gilbert hated ghosts, but he wanted to know about the ax, and so he agreed against his better judgement to exterminate some ghosts.