New Justyce (Book 1 / Episode 6)

Book 1: Justyce Begins

Episode 6: Puzzle Pieces

Carl Chambers stomped into the main room at the union hall, his lion mane flying around his head. “What the hell happened, Dani? Why are we lugging two duffel bags full of rocks when it should be money?”

“Beats me. I saw the tellers fill them with money. I saw it with my own eyes.” Danielle’s eyes nearly squinted shut, then opened wide. “There was something kinda weird. When we went outside, one of the guards aimed his gun at me, and I knocked him to the ground. I swung my tail to impale him with my stinger, but I struck the concrete sidewalk, and he was twenty feet away. Maybe he had powers?”

“No. If he had powers, we’d probably be dead or in jail. Someone had powers, but I doubt the guard would have stolen the money and let us go free.”

Rick Myers turned in his seat at the minibar. “Sounds like you two had almost as much fun as I did today.” He shook his head, his bull horns nearly touching the eight-foot-high ceiling. “What exactly happened? I left before you two decided what you were gonna do.”

Carl growled. “We robbed the Newville Community Credit Union, or we thought we did. We left the bank with two duffel bags full of cash, but when I opened one of the bags to start counting, it was full of rocks. The other bag is the same! I have no idea how it happened. With everything going on, my only guess is there are more powered people than just us.”

“You would be correct in that assumption, and the army is already involved,” Rick said.

“Oh, this keeps getting better and better.” Danielle snapped. “What happened with you?”

The union hall doors burst open, and Jordan Winters rushed in, ice dripping off his grey fur as he stalked across the wooden floor. Jordan looked at the unhappy faces of his three friends. “Collecting the meteor rocks isn’t going to be as easy as we thought.”

“We’re all figuring that out.” Carl snarled. “Me and Dani robbed the credit union and came back here to find we had two bags of rocks. Rick was just about to tell us about his day when you came in.” Carl looked over at Rick. “Continue your story.”

Rick sighed. “I caught the scent of the meteors right outside the antique shop. The shopkeepers saw me and tried to lock the door.” Rick shrugged. “I smashed through the door, and they ran out the back. They managed to get to their car and drive away.” He kind of chuckled. “I guess I’m fast now. They hadn’t gotten far, so I lowered my head and charged. I hit the car broadside. I must have been going thirty miles an hour. The car went airborne and flipped a few times.”

“Wow. That’s impressive.” Danielle said.

“Yeah, well, when I caught up to the car, I expected to finish the two dudes off and take the rocks, but another guy was standing in my way. I think he was reading my mind, and he could move objects without touching them. He pushed me aside like I was nothing, but I charged at him and knocked him down. I tried to finish him off, but every mailbox on the street started firing at me like missiles. I shrugged them off, but then the army showed up. I didn’t want to deal with them, so I ran back here. I’m sorry, Carl. I came back empty-handed.”

Jordan reached into his pants pocket and slammed his hand down onto the table. “I didn’t come back empty-handed, but I didn’t have a good time either. We need to go out in groups if we’re gonna hunt for these rocks. We know now that they’ve affected more than just us.” Jordan lifted his hand off the table, revealing a small pile of blue meteor rocks.

“Great job, Jordan!” Carl said. “What happened, though? And what’s with all the ice?”

Jordan shook his head, melting ice still dripping from his fur. “I followed the scent of the meteors to the high school baseball field. Half the infield is a huge crater. Something big hit there, and it must have been bigger than the meteor that hit us. That’s where I gathered these rocks.” He pointed at the pile of meteor rocks.

“You sound unsure of what caused the crater, Jordan. Wasn’t it still there?” Rick asked.

“No. Whatever crashed there was gone. Someone got to it before I did. It had to have been big. Maybe the army got it.” Jordan shrugged.

“What about the ice?” Carl asked.

“I was getting to that,” Jordan snapped. “After I picked up those rocks, I could smell that there were more. I followed the scent and spotted two teenage boys. I knew they had pieces of the meteor, so I charged at them. I figured I’d scare them into giving me whatever I asked for, but I was wrong. The younger one hid behind the car, but the older boy exhibited abilities. It looked like the powers surprised him as much as they surprised me, but he created enough of a problem for me that the two of them were able to run away. He could create ice out of thin air and shoot ice beams from his hands. He encased me in an ice cocoon, for crying out loud! I could have followed him, but I thought it best to check-in and take someone else with me next time.”

“Interesting,” Carl mumbled, drumming his paw-like hands on the tabletop. “One with psychic abilities, one with ice powers, and whatever it was that Dani and I faced. There are probably more if there’s three out there, plus the twelve of us.” He gestured at the room they were in. “We need to get out of here before the army or anyone else tracks us down. Let’s start packing everything up, the meteor first. I know of a couple abandoned warehouses where we can set up headquarters until we find something more permanent.” The other three nodded in agreement and started packing up the union hall.

Grace was still pacing in front of Justyce Labs and glancing at her phone when Caleb’s car finally pulled up. Grace wondered why Caleb brought a teenage boy with him, but, for now, she pushed that thought aside. “Caleb! Finally! I have a lot of questions I thought you might find interesting. There was no one else that I could think of that might have any answers.”

“Not even your army contacts?” Caleb smirked.

“Especially not them. Not with this. Is there somewhere we could talk?” Grace’s eyes wandered over to Obadiah and then back to Caleb.

Caleb saw the look and nodded. “I have to wait out here for a few deliveries, but I’ll unlock the door for Obadiah to wait in the lobby.” Caleb clapped a hand onto Obie’s shoulder. “Come with me, Obadiah. I have a comfortable couch and a tv in the lobby of my lab to keep you entertained while I talk to Grace.”

“Will this tv have the same show I was watching on the other one?”

“I’m not sure, but we can check and see.”

Obie looked at Grace, then continued walking with Caleb. “Do you think she knows Logan?”

“I’ll be sure to ask.” Caleb unlocked and opened the lab’s front door and ushered Obadiah inside. After setting Obie up on the couch with the tv remote, Caleb went outside to talk to Grace. “How can I help, Grace? What do you trust me with that you won’t trust the government?”

Grace arched an eyebrow. “I think you may already have an idea why I’m here. I saw that boy’s eyes. Who is he?”

“I’m not sure yet. He showed up at my sister’s house last night. He was injured and had amnesia.”

“And you didn’t take him to the hospital or call the police?”

Caleb smirked. “Didn’t you just say that we shouldn’t trust the government with whatever is going on?”

“Very true and very smart. Your sister lives over on the other side of the high school, doesn’t she?”

“Yes. Why do you ask that?”

“I took a walk down there while I was waiting for you. Have you seen the crater? Looks like something big hit there, but it’s gone now. The impact in the crater looked like the imprint of a body, not a rock.” Her gaze wandered toward the boy in the lobby.

“That’s interesting. I will check that out as soon as possible. Things are happening quickly, Grace. What prompted your visit?”

“Did you see the meteor shower last night and all the news clips today?”

“I didn’t witness the event, but I read about it. I’ve been busy in the lab and with my sister and Obadiah, so I haven’t kept up with the news. I do know that other strange things have been happening. Your call isn’t the only one I’ve gotten today.”

“Check your phone. I sent you a couple video links.”

Caleb’s eyes widened as he watched. Finally, he slid his phone back into his pocket. “I have heard about these beasts, but I hadn’t gotten the chance to watch the videos yet. This is amazing. Did you see this in person? Is that why you’re here? You’re not affected by this, are you, Grace?”

“I’m not surprised that you’re aware of this. No, I’m not personally affected, but I am involved. The meteor rocks that didn’t burn up in the atmosphere caused all the fires. I’ve seen one of the rocks, and it glows with the same blue light that shines in that boy’s eyes.”

“I’m not sure how he is involved, but I intend to find out. Do you still have the stone? Did you pick it up?”

“I did not touch it. That’s why I’m here. My friend Bryson has one. He fought one of those monsters that you saw in the video clips. He has superpowers.”

“Superpowers? What can he do? Can you bring him here? I have already started gathering some items that may be involved since I learned about the boy. I would love to talk to someone who has been affected and does not have amnesia. We need to figure this thing out, Grace. I’m glad you came to me instead of the authorities.”

“You were the first one I thought of. I knew you’d want to be involved if you weren’t already. I can get Bryson to come here with me. You can talk to him and get to see a piece of the meteor.”

“If he allows me to examine both him and the stone, that may be key to figuring out what is happening. Now you must excuse me, Grace. It looks like my other guests are arriving.”

Grace turned and saw two ambulances pulling into the parking lot. “Do all your guests arrive by ambulance, Caleb?”

“They were in the car accident caused by the minotaur. The same wreck that your friend Bryson was a part of. One of my associates at the hospital called me to tell me that both cases were highly unusual and glowing blue rocks were among the possessions of both men.”

“How did you get the hospital to release them to you? Never mind. I don’t want to know. What’s with the armored car pulling in behind the ambulances?”

Caleb grinned. “Another oddity. The credit union was robbed, possibly by people in animal costumes. Now, I’m thinking it may have been more of these mutants. A security guard friend called me to tell me that the surveillance footage showed something he couldn’t explain, so he sent it to me.”

“Looks like you’re going to be busy. Are you sure you want me to bring Bryson?”

“Absolutely. Obadiah has amnesia, and these other two men are in comas. Bryson could be the key to helping all of them.”

“I’ll let you get to work. I’ll text you after I talk to Bryson.”

“Wait. One other thing. Do you know anyone named Logan? He’d probably be a teenager.”

“No, but maybe Bryson does. Can I take a picture of Obadiah to show him? He might recognize the boy.”

“I took some photos for documentation. I’ll text you one.”

“Thank you. I’ll be in touch soon.” Grace’s phone beeped as she walked to her car. She opened the text, saved the picture, and immediately sent it to Bryson.

Grace: Bryson, do you recognize this boy? He is involved with the meteors. He may                                               also be connected to someone named Logan.

Bryson: He doesn’t look familiar. My new friend Harvey has a brother named Logan. It                           may not be the Logan you’re looking for, but I’ll send the pic to him and ask.

Grace: Thanks. I’m on my way to your house. Are you there?

Bryson: I’m at my friend Erik’s house. He’s also involved in this. I’ll be home soon.                                  I’ll meet you there.

Grace: Ok. See you soon.

Harvey and Ashton rounded the corner almost within sight of the Kastala house. Ash stopped and pointed across the street. “There’s Logan and Gavin right other there. I wonder where they’re off to.”

“They might be looking for me. Come on.” Harvey led Ashton across the street to meet up with his two brothers. “Yo! Where are you guys going? I was just heading home to check in and tell you about what just happened to us.”

Logan lightly punched Harvey’s shoulder. “We were looking for you, you jerk! Don’t you ever answer your texts?”

“Sorry! I was kinda busy. I’ll tell you all about it at home. Let’s get off the street. A lot is going on.” Harvey said.

“More than you know! Wait until you hear about Gavin!” Logan said. “And I have a story of my own to tell. A lot has happened in the last day and a half.”

“Well, it seems we all have stories to tell. Who wants to go first?” Gavin said once they were all settled in at home.

Logan pulled the glowing blue feather out of his pocket. “I think my story takes place before any of the others, so why don’t I start?”

“Woah! That feather is glowing blue, just like the meteor rocks. Where did you get that, Logan?” Harvey yelled.

Logan arched one eyebrow. “That’s what I’m about to tell you.” Logan retold his story about meeting Obadiah and what happened the day before when Obie revealed his true nature to him. “So, just before the angel police or whatever they call themselves showed up, Obie gave me this feather and told me it would connect us. Last night it started glowing. The feather led me to the baseball field, where I found a huge crater. Then Gavin showed up looking for me, and we noticed the blue meteor rocks. I agree that it’s not a coincidence. I think Obie came back for me, and he’s hurt. Maybe the meteors hurt him. I’m not sure about that, but it must be connected. The rocks hold power. Gavin is proof of that.” Logan grinned.

“Wait! Wait! Wait! Your new boyfriend is an angel from an alternate dimension and may have been part of the meteor storm that’s causing everything?!” Harvey’s eyes were wide, and his mouth was agape. “I thought you guys were gonna think Ash and I were crazy or lying, but now our story isn’t so weird!”

“Wait until you hear what Gav has to say.” Logan huffed out a laugh.

“Can we hurry this along? I have a date tonight.” Gavin smirked.

Ashton started laughing. “Seriously? All this is happening, and you’re sitting there planning a date?”

“Life goes on. If nothing else happens, yes, I’m going out.”

“Must be quite the girl.” Ash laughed.

“Becky Michaels.” Gav grinned.

“Oh, hell yeah. Continue planning your date. Rebekah is hot!” Ash said.

Harvey rolled his eyes and elbowed Ash in the ribs. “Don’t encourage him.”

“Ow! That hurt!” Ashton yelled.

Gavin shook his head. “Can I continue the story now?”

Ash was rubbing his ribs. “Please do.” Then he leaned against Harvey and looked up into his eyes. “You’re hot, too, by the way.”

Gavin laughed, watching his youngest brother blush and squirm. “Anyway, after I found Logan at the baseball field, we were attacked by some sort of half-man and half-ram mutant beast.” Gavin retold the story of his fight with Aries and of him and Logan narrowly escaping and running back home. “I guess I have superpowers. I don’t know if it’s permanent or will wear off, but at least for this afternoon, I could shoot ice out of my hands.”

“Wow! Can you still do it? What else can you do?” Harvey asked.

“I haven’t tried, and I’m not sure. I should experiment in case any more of those monsters come around.” Gav shrugged.

“Here.” Ash handed Gavin a glass of water. “Freeze the water.”

Gavin took a deep breath and concentrated on the water. The water froze, but Gavin caused the water to freeze so quickly that the expanding ice shattered the glass. “Oops. I still have powers, but I need to practice with them.”

“That’s cool… literally! Wait until you hear what happened to Ash and me at school and in the park.” Harvey and Ashton took turns with the narrative, filling Gavin and Logan in on what happened that afternoon. When Harvey finished the story, he noticed a text message from Bryson. He opened the text and saw a picture of a teen boy and a note from Bryson: “This boy is connected to the meteors and knows someone named Logan. Does your brother know him? His name is Obadiah.”

Harvey looked over at Logan. “Didn’t you say that your angel friend’s name was Obadiah?”

“Yes. Why?”

Harvey handed his phone to Logan. “Is this your friend?”

“Yes! Wait, isn’t Bryson the psychic dude in your story? Is Obie with him?”

“Yes, that’s the same guy, and I’m unsure. Let me text Bryson back while we finish up our discussions here.”

“Hurry! I need to find him. I think he’s in danger. I can feel it.” Logan gave Harvey his phone back.

Harvey sent a text to Bryson while the four boys discussed the utterly unbelievable stories they had just shared. The fact that three of them had superpowers and the fourth was dating an interdimensional angel had all their heads spinning.

“Be quiet!” Carl hissed at the other three members of the Zodiac Club. They were busy packing everything up in the union hall. “Someone is coming in the delivery entrance. Probably one of us, but be ready for anything.” Carl crept into the kitchen, his lion senses on high alert. Then he heard voices he recognized, and he stood up as Brent Irons strode in, followed by an obviously angry Lisa Jensen.

Brent nearly ran to stay out of Lisa’s way. “Be careful, Lisa. This place wasn’t built to accommodate horses.”

Lisa’s hooves echoed on the wooden floors as she walked into the main room. She threw the remains of her bow onto the table. The weapon was blackened, and the string was missing. She glared at Brent. “It wasn’t built to accommodate giant crabs either.” Then she looked at Carl. “We need to get out of this building, and we need a plan. There are more people than just us with super abilities.”

Carl motioned toward all the boxes. “We’re almost ready to move out. I’m waiting for everyone to get back. What happened to the two of you?”

“We were nearly incinerated. We were in the park picking up some of the meteor rocks and chasing away the picnickers, and suddenly there were a couple of dudes with powers. One guy had superspeed, and the other was throwing fireballs at us.”

“There was a third boy with powers. He was emitting electricity from his body. The boy didn’t seem to know how to control his power. We left when the fire guy started heating up. It looked like he might explode! If we want to take control of this town, we need to take these guys out before they get better control of their abilities.”

“We have the army to worry about now, too.” Jayden Stone said from the doorway.

Luke Adams walked past his boyfriend and set a handful of meteor rocks on the table. “We didn’t encounter any powered people, but the army seems to be everywhere.”

“Did they give you any trouble?” Rick asked.

Jayden shook his head. “No, but Luke can still blend in with the normal people. I hung back in the shadows while he gathered intel.”

“Did you hear anything useful, Luke?” Carl asked.

“Yeah. We need to lay low, hide and hope the army leaves. They’ve been collecting meteor pieces and taking exposed people into custody.”

“We’ll leave as soon as it gets dark,” Carl said.

“Where are we going?” Jayden asked.

“I know of a couple of abandoned warehouses down on Water Street that would be perfect,” Carl said.

“I know which ones you mean, and I agree. The location should be good, and the warehouses are huge and empty.” Luke said.

Eight heads turned as one when the front door opened. The five remaining members of the Zodiac Club walked in, and Carl spoke loudly.

“Gather around the table, everyone. We need to make some plans.”

Caleb Justyce checked and rechecked all the read-outs downloading onto his computer screen. He had been performing tests on his three new patients all afternoon. The two men from the car crash would need extensive surgeries. Caleb had some ideas about that. He needed to contact a couple surgeons that he knew would work off the radar. Brett was going to need multiple amputations. Caleb knew of one surgeon who worked extensively with bionic limb replacements.

The other patient, William, would be an even more challenging case. The man’s body sustained massive internal injuries and bleeding. Caleb tried a blood transfusion, but that wasn’t keeping up with the damage inside of William. Luckily, William’s only broken bones were a couple of ribs, but the other injuries were troubling.

Obadiah allowed Caleb to take two vials of his blood. Caleb studied the properties of the glowing blue blood and thought that it might be what William needed. Obie’s blood contained strong healing properties. The problem was that there was no way of knowing if William’s body would accept an alien blood transfusion. Caleb shrugged. Without the transfusion, William would die, so there was no harm in trying.

Caleb glanced at the sleeping form of Obadiah. The boy looked entirely human other than the glowing blue blood and the scars on his back that suggested he may have had wings. Obadiah was a living, breathing humanoid alien. Caleb knew there was life beyond planet Earth. He had evidence right downstairs in the sub-basement of this lab, but that was a bio-synthetic virus. Caleb was so wrapped up in figuring out what to do with Obie, William, and Brett that he hadn’t been downstairs all day. Before today, the project in the basement was his number one priority. Now it completely slipped his mind.

Coming Soon: Episode 7 – Date night Interrupted!!

New Justyce (Book 1 / Episode 5)

Book 1: Justyce Begins

Episode 5 – A Firefly and a Pocket Watch

Oliver Mills was having a dreadful day. His girlfriend left him. Ollie’s landlord kept nagging him about late rent. Then his car wouldn’t start, and Oliver missed the bus. That caused him to walk to his job interview, and Ollie was already running a half-hour late. He wondered what else could go wrong today when Ollie heard the screaming. Great, someone was robbing the credit union. Ollie ran across the street to hide. He peered out from behind a bush in time to see two security guards flying backyards out of the credit union front windows. Ollie knew he should run in the opposite direction, but curiosity got the better of him.

Oliver heard more screams from within the bank, and then he saw something he couldn’t believe. A lady with a scorpion tail and a lion creature walked out of the credit union’s front doors carrying large duffel bags, presumably filled with money. Ollie stepped back to hide within the bushes, and his foot slipped on a metal object. Kneeling to look at whatever he almost tripped over, Ollie dug the item out of the dirt and brushed it off. It was an old pocket watch. Ollie doubted if it would even still work. Curious, he opened the front case and cleaned the glass face. The time looked right. Ollie checked his phone, and sure enough, the watch’s time was exact.

Oliver pulled the crown to check if he could still set the time if needed. The watch looked antique. Maybe it was worth something if it still worked perfectly. Ollie was about to push the crown back in when he noticed something else odd. Everything today was weird, but this was beyond all the rest. A butterfly hung in the air right in front of him, floating there, not moving. Oliver glanced around. He could move, but nothing else moved. He peered through the bushes. Even the monsters stood frozen in place. Ollie absentmindedly clicked the crown of the pocket watch back in place, and everything roared back to life.

Erik screamed and started beating at his body with his hands to try and extinguish the bright yellow flames. “What the hell? Why am I on fire, and why am I floating?”

Cancer sneered and stepped closer to Ash and Harvey. “While your fiery friend is beating himself up, I’ll take care of the two of you. I can sense the blue stones. Give them to me, or the consequences will be severe.”

Ashton pulled Harvey’s unconscious body away from the crab creature, then stood between his friend and the terrifying monster. “You’re not getting the stones, and you’re not getting to my friends without a fight!”

“Ash! Duck!” Erik yelled.

Ash looked behind him and saw Erik with his arms out and intense concentration on his face. Ash didn’t hesitate. He dove on top of Harvey to protect him from whatever was about to happen. Just as Ash dove, he felt a searing heat above him. Ashton saw a stream of yellow fire emitting from Erik’s hands and striking Cancer directly in the chest.

Cancer ripped his burned shirt off when the flames stopped and threw it on the ground. “That hurt, boy, but I’m still standing. What else you got?” Cancer said, taking a step toward Erik.

“Damn! Those flames were hot, but they were too light and airy. I wonder if I can adjust the heat levels?” Erik mumbled to himself. He kept an eye on the advancing crab creature and tried to take a step backward. Erik was still floating and had lost his sense of balance. Erik did a summersault in mid-air as he stepped back before regaining control. Once he was upright again, Erik threw another stream of fire at Cancer.

The crab slowed his advance. “That’s annoying, boy, but you’ll have to do better.”

Erik clenched his fists and closed his eyes in concentration. He pictured himself creating a massive ball of fire to throw at Cancer. Erik felt himself fall, and his feet hit the ground. Erik stumbled, but he stayed upright. When Erik opened his eyes, the flames covering his body had changed from a bright yellow to dark orange. Also, he was holding a giant ball of fire. Erik threw the fireball as hard as he could. It hit Cancer with a thud, knocking him off his feet and sending him twenty feet backward.

Erik glanced over at Ashton. “Get Harvey out of here and help the others down in the park. I got this.”

Harvey was awake but dizzy. Ash helped Harvey get groggily to his feet, and the two friends disappeared into the trees heading toward the park’s central section.

When Ash and Harvey cleared the tree line and looked down into the park, the centaur was still firing arrows at people as they tried to run away. Ashton put a hand on Harvey’s arm. “I’ll be right back. Let me go and help these people.”

“I can help. Just let me clear my head. I’m still a bit dizzy.”

“Sit down, Harvs. I’ll be right back.” Ashton said and was gone in the blink of an eye. Harvey looked around and then spotted Ash fifty yards away, knocking an arrow out of mid-air and helping a lady escape into the trees. Harvey couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His best friend was a bona fide superhero! He took out his cellphone and started taking pics and videos of the action.

Cancer got up and charged at Erik. Erik tried to form another fireball, but the crab was on top of him before he could get one ready. Before Cancer reached him, Erik tried to float but couldn’t get off the ground. Cancer struck Erik right in the midsection, and the two tumbled to the ground. Cancer knelt on Erik’s chest and raised his claw above his head, ready to strike. Erik raised both hands and shot a small fireball right into the crab’s face. Cancer rolled off Erik, and Erik leaped to his feet. He willed his flames to get hotter again. Erik’s whole body glowed with yellow fire, and he rose into the air. That was the key. The orange and red fire was heavier and better used for fireballs, and the yellow fire was hotter, lighter, and perfect for flight. Erik was starting to figure out his power. He wondered what else he could do. He’d have to experiment when he wasn’t fighting for his life!

Finally gaining a little control over his new power, Erik fired shots of the yellow fire at Cancer, making the crab yelp in pain and roar in anger. Erik knew he couldn’t defeat the monster this way, but he tried to lure the creature away from his friends and the innocent bystanders in the park. Erik led Cancer to the east, away from the high school and toward the docks.

Ashton was busy dodging arrows and carrying people out of harm’s way. His confidence grew with each person he saved. Unfortunately, with overconfidence comes complacency. Ash failed to notice Sagittarius leap on top of the boathouse to gain a broader range for her arrows. Ash set a small boy down inside the tree line and turned back toward the lake. Before he could move out of the way, Ash was struck in the left shoulder with an arrow. The force of the blow caused him to stumble, and then another arrow embedded itself into his right thigh. Ash fell, moaning in pain.

Harvey saw the scene unfolding right in front of him, but he couldn’t do anything to stop it. Harvey yelled for Ash to turn around, but his friend was too far away and couldn’t hear him. Harvey stood up, slid his phone into his pocket, and ran as fast as possible across the park. Harvey reached Ashton’s side just as the other boy fell to the ground. Harvey looked up at the centaur, standing on top of the boathouse. “Leave my friend alone! What do you want? Why are you doing this?” Harvey barely noticed that his entire body felt tingly, and blue electric sparks ran back and forth between his fingertips.

“I’m here for the blue stones and will kill anyone who has them. I will also kill anyone who stands in my way. That means your friend must die, and you too, by the looks of things.” The centaur said as she notched another arrow into her bow.

“I won’t let you kill him,” Harvey said. As Harvey’s anger rose, the electrical sparks multiplied and arced in the air around him. Harvey looked at himself in wonder, not understanding what was happening. Harvey didn’t even notice as Sagittarius let loose the arrow and let it fly directly at his chest.

Ollie scowled. No. It couldn’t be. It’s not possible. No way. Ollie pulled the crown back out, and everything froze in place. He thought, “If giant scorpions and lion-minotaurs are real, why not magic pocket watches that stop time?” He looked at the watch, then back at the scene in front of the bank. Ollie spun the hands of the watch forward. Everything moved forward at the same pace at which he moved the hands of the pocket watch and stopped when he stopped moving the hands.

Ollie noticed that, forward in time, the scorpion lady drove her stinger into the chest of one of the security guards. He stepped out from his hiding spot and twisted the hands in reverse. Ollie watched as the tail pulled out of the guard’s body and the wound closed. Even the clothes knitted back together. Oliver Mills realized that he was now in complete control of time.

Ollie thought about the day he’d been having and decided to take fate into his own hands. Luck and fortune had spit in his face for years. It was time for that to change. Oliver left the crown, pulled out, and slipped it into his pocket. The first thing he did was pull the security guard out of the range of the scorpion’s tail. There, that was his good deed for the day. Now it was time for Ollie to take care of himself. He found a pick-up truck parked on the street. The driver was frozen in place just outside the truck. Ollie took the keys from the driver’s pocket and pulled the man onto the sidewalk. Then he went back to the front of the bank. Ollie took the duffel bags one at a time from the monsters, emptied them into the truck’s cab, and returned the bags full of rocks.

Ollie sat in the truck, took the watch out, and pushed the crown in. He started the truck and drove off. Oliver Mills was gone before the truck owner realized what had happened. He never looked back, or Ollie would have seen the scorpion strike the sidewalk full force with its stinger and yell in rage and pain.

Erik led Cancer around the park’s edge and then caught a whiff of ozone in the air. “That’s weird.” Erik thought. “There’s not a cloud in the sky, much less a thunderstorm.” He shot another fireball at the crab and floated higher into the sky to look around. Erik looked toward the lake and spotted the centaur on the boathouse. She had her bow raised. Erik looked to see what she was aiming at and saw his two friends. Ashton was on the ground, and Harvey was standing between Ash and the centaur. Erik saw that Harvey was the source of the ozone smell. Blue electric sparks danced around Harvey as he stood defensively in front of Ash. Erik noticed that Harvey was not making a move to get out of the way of the arrow, so he turned toward his friends and flew as fast as he could, shooting flames out in front of him the whole way there.

Harvey felt the heat before he saw the fire. He looked up to see a flaming arrow disintegrating on its way toward him. Then Erik was landing next to Harvey, covered in bright yellow fire. The centaur cursed and reached for a new arrow, but Erik let loose another stream of fire. Sagittarius reared up to escape the flames, causing her to lose her balance. She fell to the ground but quickly got to her feet. Sagittarius reached for her bow, but it was ablaze on the ground near the boathouse.

Cancer ran up, slightly out of breath, to stand next to Sagittarius. “You can’t beat us! The Zodiac Club will destroy you all!”

“Just watch me!” Erik said, his eyes glowing white. The yellow fire first turned bright white and then became tinged with blue. Erik floated even higher in the air as his flames got more intense and hotter. Cancer first covered his eyes, then gave up and jumped on Sagittarius’ back, and the two raced off into the distance.

Erik’s flames just kept getting brighter and hotter. Ash and Harvey had to back away from Erik. The intense heat drove them back, and they shielded their eyes from the bright light. Both boys yelled as loud as possible, letting Erik know the monsters were gone. He didn’t seem to hear them.

Ash looked at Harvey. “What will happen if he can’t stop heating up, Harvs?”

“I don’t know, Ash. I don’t know.”

A voice from behind them startled the boys. It was Bryson Indiana. “Harvey? Ashton? What is going on? Is… is that Erik Reilly?”

“Yeah,” Harvey said quickly. “He can’t hear us. We were under attack by monsters, but they are gone now. We’re trying to tell him that he can relax and cool down, but he won’t listen! Can you help us?”

“Let me try,” Bryson said. He knelt and closed his eyes. Bryson tried to focus on his newfound powers. He sent calming thoughts out toward Erik to connect with his friend.

Erik’s mind was awash in flames. He couldn’t find his way out. Erik frantically tried to regain control, but everything got hotter and hotter. Then a familiar voice called out to him. It was Bryson. Erik closed his eyes and let Bryson’s voice guide him out of the flames.

Logan slid his phone into his pocket and turned off the tv. He looked over and saw his brother grinning at his phone. “Who are you talking to, Gav? Has Harvey answered yet? Anything new from dad?”

“Nope. I haven’t heard from either of them. We should go look for Harvey right now. I have plans later tonight,”

“Plans?! Who are you texting? What are you planning?”

“I’m texting Becky. I told you I have a date tonight, don’t you remember?”

Logan’s jaw dropped, and it took him a moment to answer. “Yes, I remember you planned on going on a date, but that was before the town was attacked by monsters. It was before dad was called up to active duty. Your date was before our little brother went missing. Most importantly, it was before you turned into Ice Boy or whatever you wanna call yourself. How can you still go on a date as if nothing happened?”

“All the superheroes date, don’t they? Like Spiderman and Mary Jane? Or Lois and Clark?”

“At least you didn’t say Spiderman and Gwen Stacy. She was murdered by the Green Goblin. Most superhero significant others have short life spans.”

“Logan, I know a lot is going on, and yes, we need to find Harvs before I go, but I need this one normal thing on this crazy day. You can understand that, can’t you? Plus, Becky is the hottest girl in school. I don’t know why she said she’d go out with a dork like me, but I do not want to screw it up before our first date.”

Logan raised his eyebrows. “I’m not hitting on my big bro, but you’re a hottie, Gav. And you’re smart and interesting. I don’t understand why you don’t have all the girls and half the boys fighting over you. Especially now with those cool blue highlights you put in your hair. They totally match your eyes. Becky is the lucky one, not you.”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t dye my hair.” Gavin reached up to touch his hair as he walked to the bathroom to look in the mirror. Gavin walked back out and stood in front of Logan. “I don’t understand. It must be a side effect of the ice powers.” Gavin shrugged. “You’re right, though. It does look good. I hope it stays like that.”

“Can we go look for Harvey now? If we find him and he’s ok, I promise I won’t complain about you bailing on us and going out on a date.”

Gavin grinned. “Deal.” Gavin reached over and ruffled his younger brother’s hair. “Thank you for what you said. It means a lot. Now let’s go find our little brother.”

Erik was finally able to turn his flames off. He regained control of both his mind and body. The first things he saw when he looked around were the emerald green eyes of Bryson Indiana. “I thought I heard your voice, but from inside my head. What’s happening, Bry?” Erik started to wobble a little bit, and Bryson guided him to a park bench and sat down.

“I think it’s those rocks, Erik. I don’t know how or why yet, and I also need to figure out why they affect different people differently. I can read minds and pick up things with just a thought. You… I don’t know… you turn into fire?” He motioned toward Harvey and Ashton. “They both have powers, and there are the people who have been transformed into evil brutish monsters.”

“I don’t turn into fire. It’s like the fire is inside me. It’s always there waiting for me to call it forth. I’m learning to control it, but I’m not there yet.” Erik said.

“Maybe the people who turned into monsters were already evil. They were doing bad things, and it sounded like they had a master plan. I think there’s more of them.” Harvey said.

“There’s more to it than that.” Bryson looked thoughtful. “There are definitely more of them. I fought one earlier today that looked like an old Greek minotaur.”

“Wait… a bull, a crab, and a centaur. No wonder they called themselves The Zodiac Club. I sure hope there’s not twelve of them!” Ashton quipped.

“That is a horrifying thought, but one to keep in mind. I suggest we all keep in close contact while we’re figuring this out for our safety and to keep an eye on the monsters.”

Erik took a close look at Harvey. “You’re Gavin Kastala’s brother, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. I’m the youngest. I’m Harvey.” Harvey extended his hand and then quickly pulled it back. “Is… is it safe to touch you?”

“I could ask you the same question, electric boy,” Erik smirked.

Harvey looked thoughtful. “Good point! Also, if we’re naming ourselves, I think Thunderbolt makes a more ominous name than the electric boy.” Harvey huffed out a laugh.

Ashton slapped the palm of his hand against his forehead. “Oh geez, what’s next? Spandex costumes?”

“Maybe in your fantasies,” Harvey smirked.

Ash blushed. “No comment.”

“If you two are done awkwardly flirting, can we all exchange cell phone numbers?” Bryson laughed.

After the four boys exchanged numbers, Harvey clapped Ash on the shoulder. “I have to get home and check in with my brothers. We should probably get off the streets anyway. I’m not ready for another fight! Do you need to go home, or do you wanna hang at my place?”

“I have no reason to go home. Let’s go.” Ash looked a little sad, but he gave Harvey a small smile.

“Hey, guys, before you go, do you know anyone else who may have come in contact with the meteor rocks? Harvey, what about your brothers?” Bryson asked.

“Logan left early this morning, but he didn’t say anything about the blue rocks. Gavin didn’t know anything about them because he looked confused when we saw a news report. Our dad is in the army. I’m pretty sure they know something because they activated his unit, and the only one at school that did anything weird was this guy.” Harvey pointed at Ashton and grinned.

“Yeah, the thing with the desk was bizarre, but now I know it was related to the whole superspeed thing I got going on.” Ashton shrugged. “To answer the question, no, I don’t know of any other freaks but us.”

“Ok, guys, stay in touch. Harvey, text me after you talk to your brothers.”

“I will. See ya later.” Harvey and Ash turned, jogged out of the park, and took the turn toward Harvey’s house.

As the other two boys ran off, Erik turned to Bryson. “All that power in the hands of teenage boys just trying to figure themselves out. I hope there aren’t many more rocks out there. This could be a global disaster.”

Bryson gave Erik a half-smile. “We’re not doing much better than them. You nearly went supernova! You’re right, though. Someone needs to take charge of this thing. We need to know who was affected, how many rocks are still unaccounted for, and why we all react differently to the meteors.”

“Harvey said the army is involved. Won’t they figure all that out?”

Bryson rolled his eyes. “Never trust the government, Erik. Even if they do figure it out, they’ll never tell us. If the government got their hands on anyone with powers, they’d be lab rats for life… or turned into military weapons. I’m gathering my own data, and I have a friend who is an investigative journalist who is also working on a few leads.”

“I trust you, Bryson. That’s why I followed your voice out of the fire.”

“You want me. I knew it.” Bryson smirked.

“Don’t ruin the moment, jerk face.” Erik blushed.

“Let’s go back to my place and wait for Grace’s call.”

“Quick stop to check on my dad, and maybe some burgers on the way? Flying really makes a guy hungry.”

Bryson shook his head and laughed. “I wouldn’t know, but I’m hungry myself. Let’s go.”

Ollie pulled into a car dealership and flagged down a salesman. The salesman showed him a few cars out on the lot, then Ollie asked to see the cars in the showroom. The salesman looked skeptical but agreed. Ollie spotted what he wanted almost immediately. “What about this one?” He asked.

“We can check out your loan options and credit reports at my desk. The price of that one is $78,592.00,” The salesman said.

“No loans or credit checks necessary. How much if I pay cash right now?” Ollie asked.

“No one pays that much in cash. What did you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.

“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $10k if you stop asking so many questions.”

The salesman frowned. “I can’t take a bribe. Where did the cash come from? I’m calling my manager over.” He turned to walk away. Ollie sighed and pulled the watch out of his pocket. He pulled the crown and twisted time back just a few minutes. Then he pushed the crown back in.

“No one pays that much in cash. What’d you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.

“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $25k if you stop asking so many questions.”

The salesman looked around, then bent closer to Oliver. “Let’s finish this conversation in my office.

Oliver Mills drove off the car lot in his brand-new cherry red Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R with white stripes and a black leather interior less than an hour later. Ollie’s difficult day was long forgotten; he pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Hey Siri, are there any luxury penthouse apartments for rent in Newville, Virginia?” He couldn’t stop smiling as he drove off into a brand-new destiny.

Coming Soon: Episode 6 – Puzzle Pieces

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 17)

Chapter 17

Terrie exhaled and began the spell. “Sanguis venande invocavite. Sanguinem autem ejus de venator defendat. Sanguis enim venator covina praesidio!”

Terrie felt a tingling sensation all over her body, which soon dissipated. She looked at Eli and nodded. Eli lifted the ceremonial dagger off the table, proceeded to slice open the palm of his right hand, and did the same to Matt’s left palm. Elias handed the knife to Terrie, and she cut open both of her palms. Terrie stood between the two boys, and they joined hands. All three chanted the words to the bonding spell in unison. A wave of energy spread outward from the circle. Terrie’s jaw dropped. “Wow. It’s not that I can read your minds, but I can feel both of you in the back of my head. It’s an image of what you are feeling. It’s so clear that I can tell which of you is which.” She looked at Matt. “Stop worrying about everything. We’re going to figure this out.”

Eli grinned. “That’s what I’ve been telling him.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “If it’s always going to be two against one, I may back out of this… whatever we call this relationship.”

“I believe the trendy name is throuple.” Nate quipped. “But I think you guys are beyond labels once you add in the supernatural connection.”

“I’ve never liked labels, even when I thought I was straight,” Matt said.

“Society always wants to label everything. You guys just ignore all the bull and keep being who you are. All three of you are very special to me.” Brad said.

Elias quirked an eyebrow. “You’ve changed, Bradley, in good ways. I approve of the more mature and wiser Bradley 2.0.”

Brad blushed. “I’d like to think that I was changing on my own, but all of this,” Brad motioned around them. “Was bound to change us all.”

Eli shrugged. “Point taken, but some people would have been changed for the worse. You have changed for the better. Nathan is a lucky guy.”

“So is Matt.” Brad grinned.

Eli smiled. “Ok, Terrie, what’s next?”

“We go to Lilly’s cabin,” Terrie said to Elias. “While Matt, Brad, and Nate finish preparing the curse breaker and wolf charm spells.”

Eli handed a spell book to Matt. “The two pages are marked. Gather and separate the ingredients. Don’t mix anything until I get back. I should be gone less than an hour if all goes well.”

Matt took the book and turned toward Brad and Nate. “Ok, boys, let’s get to work.”

Sky kicked at the gravel path as he walked next to David. “There was nothing out of the ordinary at either of those houses. Are we wasting our time checking out the third one?” Then, Sky’s nostrils flared as if on cue, and his eyes opened wide. “Do you smell that?” He nearly growled.

“I don’t smell… hey! Slow down! Hey!” David yelled as Sky was running and pulling David along behind him. David managed to pull Sky to a stop before he entered the backyard of the house they were approaching. When Sky turned to face David, David’s eyes went wide. “Skylar! You need to calm down. Talk to me. What do you smell? What are you feeling right now?”

“What am I feeling? I’m feeling angry and powerful. Can’t you smell that? I smell everything, but from that house, I smell wolf and blood and fear and death.”

“Babe, look at your hands.”

“What the hell? Why do I have claws?”

“You also have fangs. You need to calm down and get yourself under control. Elias said that you might be able to change at will even in daylight because you aren’t cursed. At will is the key. Right now, your emotions are in charge. Take control of your mind and body, Sky.”

Skylar knelt and bowed his head, then took deep, calming breaths. He watched in amazement as his claws retracted. Sky felt his teeth and found the fangs were gone. He looked up at his boyfriend. “That was intense. When we are somewhere safe, I will try and do that on purpose.”

“You should also try preventing the change tonight. If we can control when we change and remember what we do as wolves, we might be able to get a handle on this.”

“Good idea.” Sky nodded toward the cabin. “We know where he lives. What should we do? Should we try and take him down right now or proceed with Eli’s plan?”

“Let’s go back and consult with Elias. We don’t know what he’s capable of. I’m still cursed, so I can’t change in daylight. You don’t have control of what you can do. If he can do what you do but controls it, we may fight against a werewolf while we’re human. There are too many unknowns. Let Eli trap this guy with magic, and then we can decide how to deal with him from there.”

“Ok. Let’s go. Hopefully, Elias has the spells ready to break your curse and trap this guy. We still have tons to do today, and it is already afternoon.” With one last look at the cabin in the woods, the two boys turned and started walking quickly toward the Carrier house.

Elias and Terrie stopped inside the tree line and looked down the hillside at Lilly Monroe’s house. “Are you sure Lilly is with your dad at the police station?” Eli asked for the sixth time.

“Yes, Eli. I even texted my dad again just to check. She is there.”

Eli stepped into the open and raised his arms. “Quae latebat claustra reveletur. Nune ponite insidias quae volebat. Patere nos omnia pericula sine limite.”

The air between them and the house shimmered with light, and there was a strong sulfur smell. Then, the light and the odor vanished. Terrie looked quizzically at Elias. “Did it work? What exactly did you say?”

Elias shrugged. “I hope it worked. A loose English translation would be ‘Barriers which were hidden now be revealed. Traps that were set now be sprung. Let the path before us be clear of all dangers.’”

Terrie nodded. “I like the wording. I guess we proceed cautiously and find out if it worked.”

“I wish I could say there’s a way to know for sure, but if there is, I haven’t learned it. If I knew what she did, I could have a better plan, but we don’t know, so proceed with extreme caution.” Eli said as the two started walking toward the house.

They got to the front porch unharmed and without setting off any alarms, at least none they knew. Eli reached for the doorknob, but Terrie grabbed his wrist and stopped him. “I think it would be safer for me to go in alone.” She said. “You got me this far, but we already know that she had one barrier in place inside that only a hunter could pass through. Who knows what else she’s done?”

 “Isn’t that why you asked me to come? To help you get through the barriers?”

“Outside the house, yes. When I was with Lilly, she kept me close to her while we were outside and let me roam free once we entered the house. I suspect there may be anti-witch traps inside. I do, however, have one more task for you.”

Eli cocked his head to one side. “How else can I assist?”

Terrie pointed to the right of the door. “I can pick locks and walk past magic barriers, but I don’t think I can fool that. She used her thumbprint and a retina scan to unlock the house.”

“Neither can I,” Eli mumbled as he knelt in front of the keypad. “Did she also use the keypad?”

“Yes. Is there anything you can do?”

“I’m no hacker. I can get you inside the house using magic. Still, if she has cast anti-magic spells to secure her alarm system, I can’t guarantee you’ll get in unannounced.”

“Do it. Get me in the house. After I’m inside, go home. It’s already well past noon, so the boys should be back at your house. I can finish this on my own. You are needed there to cast your spells before moonrise.”

“I hate leaving you here, but you’re right.” Eli shook his head. “Matt will kill me when I get home without you, but he’ll understand.”

“Do your thing, magic man.” Terrie grinned.

Elias stood up. “Averte virtutem.” The keypad and the retina scanner shut down. “Aperi ianuam.” The front door swung open. “Enter at your own risk.” Elias huffed out a laugh.

“Get home. The boys need you more than I do.” Terrie said.

“As long as Matt doesn’t kill me.” Eli grinned, then turned, leaving Terrie alone as she stepped cautiously into the house.

Elias saw David and Skylar enter his house as he crossed the lawn toward the kitchen door. Eli walked into the house and was met by the pungent aroma of fresh-cut herbs. He smiled as Matt walked toward him, but then the other boy stopped in his tracks and scowled.

“Where’s Terrie?” Matt asked.

Eli sighed. “She’s still at Lilly’s house. There was no way I could get in, so she sent me back here to do the curse breaker spell and prepare the werewolf charms.”

“You promised that you’d keep her safe, Eli.” Matt frowned.

“I did everything I could, Matt. I got her past all the barriers and traps in the yard and disabled the door alarms. When the front door swung open, she insisted I come back here and do what needs to be done.”

“We’d sense if she was in danger, right?”

“I think we would. I’ve never done this before, Matt. I’m learning on the fly. We don’t have time for proper training. Everything is happening too fast.”

“I understand.” Matt wrapped his arms around Elias. “I think I have everything ready for you, babe.”

Elias looked deeply into Matt’s blue eyes. “I wouldn’t have left her if I thought she was in danger, Matt.”

Matt leaned in, and their lips met in a tender kiss. “I know.”

A voice from behind them startled the two boys. “Before you two start making out, can we uncurse my boyfriend? Uh, wait, is uncurse a word?”

Elias and Matt stepped apart, and Eli looked over at Skylar. “We weren’t making out, and yes, uncurse is a word. Also, yes, we can start the process of uncursing David. Let me gather everything, and you and David meet me in the dining room.”

Matt helped Eli carry all the herbs and potions, except for the wolfsbane, into the dining room. Matt spread all the items on the table, looked at Eli, and smirked. “Does David have to get naked like I did, or was that a special stipulation for me only?”

David’s eyes went wide. “Wait, what? Naked? What exactly is going to happen?”

“We will talk all that out before we begin the spell, and, no, you don’t have to be naked. The spell will be drastically different from the one I did on Matt. The curse is affecting you in a much different way than it was affecting your brother.” Eli said.

Sky leaned forward. “What about the charms and traps we have planned for the grey wolf? We are ninety-nine percent sure we know who he is and where he lives if that will help.”

I’ve picked out an area that I want to lure him to. It will definitely help to know where he lives, but we still don’t know if he transforms at his house. I can cast multiple charm spells near the home and in the areas where he has been most active. Once the spells are in place, I’ll explain what I need everyone to do. Hopefully, by the end of today, David will no longer be cursed, and the grey wolf will be in the sheriff’s custody.” Eli said.

“Will a regular jail hold a werewolf? Do we want the world to find out that werewolves exist? Wouldn’t that put all of us in danger?” Sky asked.

“I haven’t solved those problems yet. I’m not sure I can murder a living being despite this person’s actions as a werewolf. The sheriff knows everything. I hope he has his own ideas on handling the grey wolf.” Elias said.

David shrugged. “One step at a time. What do we need to do for the curse breaker spell?”

Eli took a deep breath. “Brad, take Nate and Devon into the kitchen. You guys cut the wolfsbane exactly like I showed you. Sky, you can stay here, but do not touch David while I do the spell, even if it looks like he’s in distress. I’m not sure what would happen. Ok?”

“Got it. I’ll be here if you need me, but I won’t interfere unless you give the go-ahead.” Sky said.

Elias nodded. “Matt, sit across from your brother. I’ve written the spell down. Repeat it with me. You might feel tired once we begin. That will be from me drawing power from you. We talked about that. I need your strength, Matt. I can’t do this without you.” Elias looked back at David. “As far as the spell itself, I’ve set up these bowls of herbs.” He lit three of the bowls on fire. “These will burn like incense.” Eli handed a coffee mug to David. “Drink this.”

David made a face. “I hope this doesn’t taste as bad as it smells!”

Elias chuckled and set a second mug on the table next to the first one. “This one smells even worse.”

“This better work.” David frowned.

“I’ve had good results so far.” Eli shrugged. “Are we ready to start?” They all nodded. “The closest English translation to this spell is as follows: Dark magic release. Werewolf is strong. Nature magic is cleansed. Let this cursed wolf be free. The wolf shall be free. The curse shall be broken. This I command.” Elias looked at Matt. “Let’s begin.”

Elias and Matt started chanting in unison. “Tenebris magicaeest abiit. Versepellem volebit. Mundandus magicae naturae. Et lupus maledictam esse liberum. Lupus ad liberum erit. Maledictionem conteratur. Lubeo fiet.”

Matt slumped forward, and David’s body went rigid and then convulsed. Elias took one of Matt’s hands and placed his other hand on David’s forehead. Eli repeated the spell. The bodies of both Montana boys shook, then a dark cloudy mist rose out of David’s body. The cloud grew and swirled around the room.

Elias pointed at the swirling cloud and shouted, “Dispello!” And then he collapsed onto the floor.

Sky leaped to his feet and rushed to Eli’s side. Sky frantically looked from Elias to David to Matt. All three boys were unconscious. “Devon! Brad! Nate! I need you in here!”

“What happened?” Brad asked.

“After Eli and Matt did the spell, a black mist rose out of David, and then they all collapsed.” Sky said. “One of you, get some cold, wet facecloths from the kitchen.” Sky pulled Elias to his feet and set him in one of the chairs. Devon brought the wet cloths and placed them gently on the three unconscious boys’ foreheads. In a few minutes, all three began to wake up.

“That was intense. Did it work?” Matt asked.

David leaned against Sky. “I felt weird for a while. When you guys were chanting, my body felt tingly. Then it felt like my insides were being ripped through the pores of my skin. Finally, I felt exhausted, and I passed out.”

Sky wrapped an arm around David’s waist. “A freaky black cloud rose out of your skin and eyes. I’m not surprised by how you describe the feeling, babe. I’d like to say that it was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen, but we’re werewolves, so I don’t know. Par for the course, I guess?”

Elias still held his head in his hands but finally spoke. “I think it worked. We’ll know for sure after you change tonight, or rather after you change back in the morning and tell us if anything was different.”

“Can you tell anything from my aura?” David asked.

“Good idea. I should have thought of that.” Eli said. “Aurae apparuistis.” Eli stared intently at David, then at Sky, then back at David. “It does look different than it did before. Your aura is now yellow, silver, and blue. The black and grey that were clouding it are gone. I think the curse has been removed.”

Matt moved around the table and squeezed in next to Elias. “You’re doing awesome with all these spells, babe. What do we do next?”

“Next, we set the traps for the killer wolf,” Eli said as he stood up and walked toward the kitchen.

Terrie made her way to the basement of the hunter’s cabin without tripping any traps or setting off any alarms., at least as far as she knew. She decided it would be best to avoid the bookshelves where she encountered the barrier last time. Who knows if that would alert Lilly to her presence? Books weren’t what Terrie was looking for this time around. She passed by the cabinet with the wooden stakes and other anti-vampire weapons. Terrie bypassed the charms to protect against witches and warlocks. Finally, she found what she was looking for.

Terrie examined the glass case in front of her. There was no way for her to be sure if there were any magical alarms on it, but now that she was this close, there was no way she would leave without the silver sword. Terrie took the sword out of the case. She was surprised by how light it felt in her hand. She prayed that it would have enough weight for the task she planned for this sword. With her prize in hand, Terrie opened her backpack and started filling it with an assortment of necklaces, rings, and medallions from other tables and glass cases in the room. Terrie focused on the items she believed were most important to werewolves and witches. This may be her only chance to pillage the hunter’s cabin, so she wanted as much as she could carry.

Terrie heard a noise from the room above, footsteps. She went to the top of the staircase and listened until the footsteps faded. Whoever was there ascended the stairs to the second floor. Lilly must have come home. Terrie cursed herself for taking too long in the basement. She opened the basement door and stepped into the kitchen as quietly as possible. Terrie stealthily made her way to the front door.

Taking a chance that the alarm was off, Terrie exited the house and broke into a run. When Terrie reached the tree line, she heard shouting. Terrie turned and saw Lilly standing on the front porch. Terrie turned, ran off into the trees, and didn’t stop until she was back at Carrier House.

Matt stood on top of a small hill and surveyed the scene around him. Elias picked the best place to fight the grey wolf. Old Hickory Lane was the only road in sight. The road came up the hill’s south side, crossed the clearing, and disappeared into the trees to the north. The other significant feature was the bike path that crossed Old Hickory Lane from east to west. The bike path led into Roxbury Park, traveling east, and ran past the house that belonged to Christopher Parker, the grey werewolf.

After David and Sky identified the house, finding information on the homeowner didn’t take much research. Matt compiled all their research and composed a draft of an email that he would send to Sheriff Hanson just before moonrise. After he sent the email, Matt would text the sheriff to ensure the email was received and read. The sheriff would be informed of not just Parker’s information but also of the plans to capture the grey wolf. Hopefully, Sheriff Hanson would devise a plan to keep Christopher Parker, and his wolf locked up. The boys, so far, had not come up with any ideas.

Matt looked at Elias. “The charms have been placed, and I’ve memorized the spells that we might need. I have to say that I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life. We are intentionally trying to lure a murderous werewolf to us. We plan to trap it using spells that we haven’t even been able to test to see if they work correctly.”

Eli took both of Matt’s hands in his. “Those are all valid points. I’m scared, too. Everything that we’ve done so far has worked perfectly. I’m confident we can continue that streak.”

Devon shrugged. “Not to be the Devil’s Advocate, but one could say that because everything has worked perfectly so far, your luck is due to run out.”

“Elias isn’t relying on luck, Devon. Look at what he’s accomplished with Matt and David. Have faith, little brother. The grey wolf is going down.” Sky interjected.

“The moon will start to rise in less than an hour. I can already feel its power. Do you want me and Skylar to stay here or go to the warehouse, Eli? You might need us if you can’t contain Parker, but we still don’t know how much we will be able to control our wolves. We might be a help, or we might add to the chaos.” David said.

“I want you both here in case our spells fail. We need to take the chance that you will have at least as much control as Sky did last night.” Elias said.

“I agree with Eli. I remember everything from last night. It was a conscious decision to do what I did to calm you, David. I acted to keep you safe from hurting yourself against the cage. Plus, it was fun.” Sky grinned. “If you are cured, I think we’d be more useful here than locked in a cage.” Sky said.

Brad spoke next. “What about me, Nathan, and Devon? Don’t even try and tell us to leave. We’re all in this thing until the end.”

Eli smirked. “I knew you’d say that.” He looked at Nate and Devon. “Do you both agree with what Brad said? If either of you wants to leave, this is your last chance.”

“Count me in. I’m not leaving my brother or any of you guys.” Devon said.

“There’s no way I’m leaving. I’ve dreamt of being involved in something like this my entire life.” Nate said.

“It’s not a game or a horror novel, Nathan. If you stay, I have an important task for you.” Elias said.

“Sorry. I know it’s serious. I’m in. What do you need me to do?” Nate said.

Eli tossed his backpack to Brad. “Inside my backpack is all the wolfsbane that you guys cut up. Split it between you three. Once the wolf is here, spread the wolfsbane in a circle around the clearing, then light it on fire. Even if Parker breaks free from my spells, he won’t cross the line of burning wolfsbane.” Elias looked at David and Sky. “Stay near the center of the clearing once they light the fire. It shouldn’t harm you if you don’t inhale the smoke.”

“I understand. Hopefully, we have enough control to remember and stay away.” David said.

Sky grabbed David’s arm and leaned against his boyfriend. Sky’s voice was deeper, almost like a growl. “We’re going to find out soon. I feel the wolf stirring inside me. I’m trying to hold him back, but I’m not sure I can.”

David’s eyes were wide with wonder. “The other nights I changed, I blacked out from the pain. This is different. Sky is right. I feel the wolf inside like a separate being trying to break free from confinement. It… he…. I want to howl and run free under the full moon’s light!”

Eli’s eyes lit up, and he looked at Matt. “If these two are feeling the change, Parker must be, too. Get ready!”

Brad tore open the backpack and handed Ziplock bags to Devon and Nate. “Spread out, guys. As soon as we see this freak, get ready to work!”

Then, they heard a bone-chilling howl, and the grey werewolf stepped out of the trees and started walking up the hill.

New Justyce (Book 1 / Episode 4)

Book 1: Justyce Begins

Episode 4: Frozen Fisticuffs

“Gav, I know we have to check in with dad, but promise me we will come back and look for Obie. I know he’s close. I can feel his presence with the feather.” Logan said as he reached for the car’s door handle.

“Ok, Logan, I promise. As long as dad doesn’t say that we can’t, I’ll bring you back here.” Gavin started to go around the car to get into the driver’s side. Before he could get in the car, Gavin heard a loud yell. He looked to the side just in time to see a large shape hurtling toward the vehicle. “Logan! Get down!” Gavin yelled.

Logan looked around, and his eyes widened in shock and fear. He dove toward his brother, barely getting out of the way in time before something big crashed into the car. The windows shattered, and the vehicle was knocked onto its side. Logan rolled over and looked to see what hit the car. He couldn’t believe his own eyes. What Logan saw stood on two legs like a man, but the similarities ended there. Where the creature’s massive leg muscles burst through its jeans, long dark grey fur showed through the rips. The same hair covered the creature’s bare upper torso. The beast’s upper body was humanoid and just over six feet tall. The broad shoulders and heavily muscled arms ended in large than hands. Logan could see the once human face was now distorted and covered in the same grey fur. The creature’s ears were pointed and closer to the top of its head than human ears. Still, the most shocking feature was the set of enormous, curved ram’s horns protruding from the sides of the monster’s head.

“What are you?” Logan asked, his voice shaking with fear.

The beast turned toward Logan and snarled. “I am Aries the Ram, and you will give me the blue stones, or I will crush the life from you and take them.”

Gavin leaped in front of his brother and faced Aries. “Stay away from my brother, you freak. You’ll have to come through me to get to him.” Gavin turned his head to look at Logan. “Get behind the car, Logan. Hurry!” Logan scrambled backward and crouched behind the overturned car. Gavin set his feet and faced his foe.

After Bryson left her apartment, Grace Santos scrolled through her contacts. She almost clicked on one of her top government sources but thought better of it. Grace didn’t think anyone in the government would give her a straight answer to this, even if they knew. Instead, Grace called a number that she had not called in years. She called an old college friend, Caleb Justyce. Grace didn’t hang out in the same circles as Caleb, but she knew that this problem was something that would pique his interest. The call went to voicemail, so Grace left a message and waited.

Bryson ran the three blocks from Grace’s apartment to Erik’s house and banged on the front door. Erik’s father answered. “Hi, Bryson. What brings you here?”

“Hi, Mr. Reilly. is Erik home?”

“No. The last I saw him, he was heading to see you. Didn’t he show up? That was quite a while ago.”

“Yeah, he was at my place earlier. I thought he’d be home by now. I’ll walk through the park and see if I can meet with him. He’s not answering my texts.”

“Is everything alright, Bryson? Is there anything I can do?”

“No, Mr. Reilly, there’s nothing to worry about. When you see him, just tell him to text me.”

“Ok. It was nice to see you again, Bryson.”

Bryson was a little alarmed that Erik wasn’t home yet. He should have had plenty of time to get here by now. Bryson turned and walked toward the park.

“You are either brave or foolish,” Aries sneered.

“I will not let you hurt my brother,” Gavin stated, fists raised in front of him.

“Gavin, come on! Let’s run!” Logan yelled from behind the overturned car.

“Too late for that, boy,” Aries said as he butted his horns against the car, pushing it further off the road.

“What do you want from us?” Gavin asked.

“The blue stones. Give them to me willingly, and I might let you live.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t have any blue stones,” Gavin said, slowly backing away from Aries.

Aries sniffed the air. “I can smell them. You can’t lie to me, boy. I’ve had enough talk. Prepare to die.” Aries lowered his head and charged.

Gavin dropped to his knees and raised his arms over his head in an effort to protect himself. Gavin gritted his teeth, closed his eyes, and prepared for an impact that never came. Instead, Gavin heard what sounded like breaking glass, and a loud thump came from behind him. Gavin opened his eyes and looked warily around. Shards of ice were everywhere, and Aries was between Gavin and the car. Gavin couldn’t figure out what had happened, but he quickly sprung to his feet to place himself between Aries and Logan.

Aries’ eyes narrowed. “I knew I smelt the stones. You’ve been affected by them, so now you must die!” Aries charged at Gavin.

Gavin side-stepped the charge and swung his fist at Aries. Before his punch struck its target, Gavin felt an extreme coldness run through his body. A cocoon of ice formed around his fist just as the blow landed. The ram was nearly knocked off his feet and stumbled away from Gavin. Gavin looked down in awe at his ice-covered fist. He thought how cool it would be if his whole body were protected by the ice, and then it happened. Gavin was covered in icy armor from head to toe.

Aries watched as the ice formed around Gavin. Hoping to catch Gavin distracted, Aries lowered his head and charged. He hit Gavin full force in the mid-section with his horns. Gavin was thrown back and smashed against the car. He was unhurt, but the icy armor shattered into a million pieces. Gavin saw Aries closing in on him and tried to move away. Gavin was pinned against the car and couldn’t get away fast enough. He raised his arms in self-defense, wishing he had something to throw at Aries. Streams of ice shot out of Gavin’s fingers and struck Aries square in the chest, knocking him backward. Frost continued streaming from Gavin’s fingers until the ram’s legs were frozen solid.

Gavin leaped to his feet and rushed to the car’s other side. “Logan, come on! That probably won’t hold him for long. Let’s get out of here.”

Logan’s dark brown eyes were wide open and staring. “Gavin, you’re a superhero!” He ran over and hugged his brother.  

“Whatever! This might make me believe your story about angels a little more. We can talk at home. Let’s get out of here before he breaks free,” The two boys turned and ran down the road as fast as possible, leaving Aries howling with rage.

Grace sat behind her desk and thought about Bryson, trying to wrap her mind around what he told her and what she had witnessed with her own eyes. Bryson had picked up her coffee table using his mind. An hour ago, Grace would have laughed at the idea. Her focus was now on figuring out how it happened and how to proceed. There wasn’t just Bryson to consider. There was also the monster he fought. How many others were out there? She knew that Caleb was the best shot at finding answers. Grace glanced at her phone again. Still no return call from Caleb. After a while, Grace decided to go straight to Justyce Labs and talk to Caleb face to face. Caleb was the most intelligent person that Grace knew. He graduated from high school when he was fifteen and had a master’s degree in mechanical engineering by the time he was eighteen. When Grace started college, Caleb was twenty-eight and working towards his third master’s degree. Now, he was thirty-seven and had his own research lab. If anyone could figure out what was happening, that man would be Caleb Justyce. Grace left her apartment, avoided downtown, and drove as fast as possible to Justyce Labs.

Harvey and Ashton both leaped off of the bench. “Dude! I thought you were joking. Who is chasing you?” Harvey asked.

“Yeah, I thought you said monsters, not crazy bow-wielding maniacs?” Ashton quipped.

“I did say monsters, and I meant it. One is a half-woman and half-horse creature from mythology. That monster is the one with the bow. The other is a guy who looks like he has a shell and a mutant claw for a hand! They’re not chasing me, but we need to get out of here! They’re in the middle of the park, terrorizing everyone in sight!” Erik replied, pacing back and forth.

“A centaur and a crab man? Are you trying to prank us? Where are the cameras?” Harvey said.

“Harvey, duck!” Ash yelled!

Harvey looked up and saw another arrow heading straight for him. Harvey didn’t even have time to react. Then something barreled into him, and Harvey landed on the ground on his back. The breath was knocked right out of his lungs. Harvey coughed and blinked and tried to roll out from under whatever landed on him, then he saw that it was Ash. “Ash? How? You were way over there.”

“I… I’m not sure.”

“I was looking right at you and didn’t see you move. You were next to me one second, and then there was a blur and a gust of wind, and you were on top of your friend.” Erik said.

“A lot of weird stuff has been happening today,” Ash said, getting up off Harvey. “Maybe we should do like Erik said and get as far away from here as possible.”

Harvey leaped to his feet. “No! If they are hurting people, we need to try and help! I want to get a few pictures to send to my dad. These creatures may be the reason that his army unit was activated.”

“This is a stupid idea, but I’ll show you where they are. You’ll change your mind and agree with me as soon as you see them.” Erik said in frustration, but he led the other two boys through the trees and into the picnic area in the center of the park.

“I thought you were exaggerating, but that does look just like a centaur,” Harvey said.

“She’s firing arrows right at that family. Harvey’s right. We have to at least try and help.” Ashton said and took a step forward, and then, in the blink of an eye, he was gone.

“Ash? Where’d ya go? Erik, what happened?” Harvey said, looking all around.

“It’s the same as when he tackled you. A gust of wind and Ash was gone. Wait. Isn’t that him over by the pond?”

“It can’t be. That’s over a hundred yards away. How would he….”

Erik heard a thump and turned to see why Harvey had stopped talking. When he turned, Erik first saw the mutant crab monster, but then he saw Harvey lying face-first on the ground at the creature’s feet. Erik clenched his fists. “Get away from my friend, you freak!” To Erik’s surprise, the monster took a step back. Then Erik felt a gust of wind, and Ashton appeared.

“Harvs!” Ashton yelled and knelt by his best friend. Ash looked up at Erik, and his eyes grew wide. “Erik! You’re on fire… and you’re… floating!”

Erik looked down at himself, and his eyes widened in shock and fear. Ashton was right. His entire body was floating a foot off the ground and was engulfed in flames.

Gavin slammed the front door shut and locked it. He turned to his brother, “Logan, go to the family room. Stay away from the windows. We don’t know if that thing followed us. Hell. it might be able to track us!”

“That was scary, Gav, but you were awesome!” Logan said as he hurried into the family room.

“I… I’m not sure what I was or what happened.” He looked down at his hands, which were still covered with a light frost. Gavin wiped his hands on his jeans to try and dry them off. He sat on the couch and picked up the remote. “Let’s watch the news and see if there are any reports of other creatures like the one we saw.”

“Wow,” Logan said in awe as they watched short homemade video clips play on the television. “If we didn’t see what we saw, I’d think the footage of that minotaur was fake news!”

“Looks like the army is setting up checkpoints all over town. We should try and get in touch with dad and find out what’s up.”

“Ok. You text dad, and I’ll text Harvs. If the high school hasn’t closed yet, it will soon.”

Grace paced in front of the entrance to Justyce Labs, peering through the windows. She saw no movement, and Caleb had not answered any calls or texts. Grace didn’t want to drive back home yet. Grace went for a walk while waiting to hear from her friend. She was close to the high school, so she explored in that direction. Bryson told her that he saw fires near the high school last night. Maybe Grace could find a piece of this troublesome meteor.

Grace saw the only unusual thing at the high school was that it was deserted. The school must have let out early today. She wondered if that was related to all the strange events going on. It had to be. She kept walking past the school but stopped short when she reached the baseball field. There were scorched patches of grass all over the area and a sizable crater right where the pitcher’s mound should be. Grace opened the gate and walked in.

Grace didn’t see any of the blue stones near the scorched patches of grass. Grace made her way to the crater. She guessed someone else must have removed the meteor that caused the hole because she saw footprints everywhere. At least two different shoe treads and one set of barefoot tracks. Grace knelt down and examined the indentation at the center of the crater. That’s odd, she thought. It looks more like a body’s outline than a rock’s shape.

As Grace stood up, she didn’t notice the other shadow that merged with her own. Before reaching the top of the crater, Grace felt a cold chill run up and down her spine. She shivered and rubbed her arms. Grace stepped into the sunlight and never gave the weird feeling a second thought.

Logan wandered into the kitchen, looking for his brother. “Gav, Harvey still isn’t answering texts. I even tried calling, but it went to voicemail.”

Gavin gulped down the rest of his Mountain Dew and frowned. “I saw on the news that the high school closed and sent everyone home. He should be here by now.”

“Any news from dad?”

“Yes, but just vague stuff. ‘I won’t be home tonight. Don’t worry. Don’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary.’” Gavin shrugged. “He’s probably not saying anything specific in case anyone monitors his phone.”

“Should we be worried about Harvey?”

“We will look for him if he’s not home in another half hour. In the meantime, keep texting him. Hopefully, he’ll answer soon.”

“Got it.” Logan wandered back into the family room to watch the news for more updates about the strange events all over town. At the same time, he continued to text his younger brother.

Caleb didn’t even bother knocking when he got to Christine’s house. He was too excited to see this boy she told him about. Caleb rushed into the kitchen and found his sister sitting at the table drinking tea. “Where is he? You didn’t let him leave, did you?”

“No. Of course, the boy is still here. He just woke up. He doesn’t remember what happened to him. I turned the tv on in the living room and made him a couple of sandwiches. Take it slow, Caleb. That boy looks like he’s been through Hell.”

“What about the wounds on his back? You said his blood is blue and glowing?”

“Yes, and he’s healing remarkably fast. The cuts were open and raw last night. Now, they look like they’ve been healing for a week!”

“Amazing! Let me go talk to him.” Caleb said and rushed out of the room.

Caleb stopped just inside the doorway to the living room. His breath caught in his throat. At first glance, the view could have been mistaken for millions of similar scenes worldwide. A teenage boy was sprawled on the couch watching tv while practically inhaling sandwiches and potato chips. Then Caleb noticed the boy’s eyes. He had the brightest blue eyes that Caleb had ever seen, but that wasn’t what caught Caleb’s attention. The boy’s eyes weren’t exactly glowing, but they shone in the dim light. It reminded Caleb of how a cat’s eyes reflected low light allowing them to see in the dark. The boy turned his head and looked directly at Caleb. A momentary jolt of fear shot through Caleb, but when the boy smiled, Caleb knew that there was not one evil bone in that boy’s body. Caleb slowly moved further into the room. Not wanting to spook the boy, Caleb sat on the opposite end of the couch.

The trauma surgeon stormed up to the Emergency Room Nurse’s Station and slammed his fist on the counter. “What happened to my patient. The guy with the two crushed legs. I expected him in my operating room fifteen minutes ago. Now I find out that he isn’t even in the hospital anymore! Why wasn’t I updated! Where did he go?”

The nurse took a deep breath before answering the angry surgeon. “Please do not yell at me or any of the nurses, Dr. Jackson. I know that two men in lab coats came in with paperwork from hospital administration. It gave them permission to transfer your patient and another patient who came in at the same time.”

“Where did they take them? They were in no condition to be moved.” The doctor said wonderingly.

“I’ll check the records and see if I can find out.” The nurse replied. She hit some buttons on the computer, clicked away with the mouse for a few minutes, and then looked back at Dr. Jackson. “Looks like they were transferred to Justyce Labs. That’s weird, isn’t it, doctor?”

“Very, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Caleb Justyce donates more money to this hospital than all the other donors. I don’t know what he plans on doing with those two young men, but the hospital would never say no to him.” The doctor scowled and left the nurse’s station.

“Hello. My name is Caleb. My sister,” Caleb motioned toward the kitchen, “said you’ve been hurt. What is your name? Can you tell me what happened to you?”

“I…” The boy got a look of intense concentration on his face. “I think my name is Obadiah, but I am not sure. I can’t remember much of anything before last night.”

“That’s ok, Obadiah. Take it slow. How did you end up here at my sister’s house? Do you live nearby?”

“I woke up in the middle of a field. It was raining, and everything around me was burning. My back hurt. A lot. The only light that I saw led me here.”

“Can I see your back, Obadiah? I promise I won’t hurt you.”

Obadiah frowned but turned away from Caleb and gently lifted his shirt. Caleb’s eyes widened, and he nearly gasped. The wounds were still raw, but they looked like wounds that had been healing for days, not overnight. Glowing blue blood still oozed from several spots, but the lacerations mainly had scabbed over. Caleb sat back and looked intently at Obadiah.

“I know you don’t know me, and there’s no reason for you to trust me, but I would like you to come to stay with me at my laboratory. I’m a research scientist, and I think that I can help you. They wouldn’t know what to do if you went to a regular hospital. They’d probably ship you off to the army base, and no one would ever see you again.”

“No! I won’t be locked away by the soldiers!” Obie looked directly into Caleb’s eyes. “I think I can trust you. I will go to your lab.”

“Do you remember anything before waking up in the field, Obadiah?”

Obie thought really hard. “I was falling. It felt like I fell forever. I think I was falling away from people who hurt me, but I was also falling toward someone. I think I was falling toward someone named Logan. I will go with you, Caleb, but only if you help me find Logan.”

Caleb nodded. “Of course, I will. Maybe Logan will know more about you and where you come from.”

“Thank you.” Obadiah stood up. “I am ready to go with you now.”

Caleb said goodbye to his sister and led Obie out to his car. Caleb glanced at his phone and saw about a dozen missed calls and texts from Grace Santos. After listening to and reading the messages, he pulled his car out onto the street and sped off toward Justyce Labs.

Carl Chambers pulled the black van into the Newville Community Credit Union’s rear parking lot. He parked far away from the other cars. Carl shook his head, his golden mane flying wildly around his face, and glanced into the rearview mirror at Danielle Gordon. Dani was sprawled out on the middle seat of the van. “That was interesting. Even everyday things like driving will take some getting used to with our new bodies.”

“Yeah. We’ll have to customize everything. I can’t even sit properly with this tail. Some of us won’t be able to move around in public without attracting attention.”

Carl looked thoughtful. “You’re right. Especially once we begin our plans, we will have to find a new headquarters. Somewhere secret. They would find us at the union hall. We’ll move the meteorite and anything else important tonight.”

“You ready for this, Carl? We’ve mugged people, robbed gas stations, and other small stuff, but this is big.” Dani pointed at the bank.

“I’ve been ready for this for years. Let our reign of terror begin.” Carl threw his head back and roared.

The lion and the scorpion walked through the credit union’s front doors, and everyone stopped and stared. One of the security guards sauntered over with a smirk on his face. “Y’all can’t come into a bank wearing those silly costumes. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Dani sneered at the guard. “Silly costumes? How dare you address the Zodiac Club in such a bold manner!” Dani’s tail swung around and hit the guard square in the chest, sending him flying backward out of the front window. He landed on the sidewalk in a shower of broken glass. The second guard barely had a chance to move before Carl grabbed him and threw him through the window to join his partner on the sidewalk.

Carl looked around the bank. He pointed at the customers with one big furry paw. “All of you get on the floor facedown, and you just might live to see another day.”

As the customers obeyed Carl, Dani walked up to the closest bank teller and set a pile of bags on the counter. “Hello. My name is Scorpia. My friend Leo and I represent the Zodiac Club, and we would like to make a withdrawal from your bank today. Fill up all these bags, and don’t try anything heroic. I don’t want to kill you, but I will.” Scorpia smashed her tail onto a nearby desk to emphasize her point, splintering it into kindling. The bank tellers quickly got to work filling the bags.

Coming Soon: Episode 5 – A Firefly and a Pocket Watch

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 16)

Chapter 16

Nancy Holliday stared down at the two boys asleep on her couch. She shook her head and smiled. They found a loophole, like all teenagers eventually will. She told them they couldn’t sleep in the same bedroom, so instead, they slept on the couch. At least they were both still dressed! Nancy used the remote to turn on the tv. The two boys jumped and nearly fell off the couch.

Brad ran a hand through his strawberry blonde locks and yawned as he reached for his glasses. “Did you have to turn that on so loud, mom?”

“If you were sleeping in your own bed, you wouldn’t have heard it.” Nancy arched one eyebrow.

Brad grinned but blushed at his mother’s words. “We did not break your rule.”

“I know you didn’t. I didn’t raise a dummy.”

“Wait! Shh! Shh! The sheriff is on tv!” Nate yelled.

Nancy and the two boys listened in horror as Sheriff Hanson reported the fourth death in the park. It was a teenager, another friend of Brad’s. His name was Justin Thomas. “I’ll make a quick breakfast before I go to the park and talk to the sheriff. I’m afraid to ask what you boys will be up to today.”

Brad looked up from his phone. “I can happily confirm that David and Skylar were not in the park last night, which adds to my certainty that David isn’t responsible for any of the deaths.”

“That’s good news, but we have to find the responsible person. You boys keep doing whatever you’re doing, and I will track the crime scenes like I do for any other murders. You track the wolf; I’ll track the man.”

“That’s brilliant, mom. Sheriff Hanson is doing the same thing. Maybe one of us will get lucky.” Just then, there was a knock on the door. “Who’s here this early?” Brad asked as he jumped up and raced to the door.

Brad walked back into the living room with Terrie Hanson. “Add one more for breakfast, mom,” Brad said.

Terrie grinned at Nate. “I was going to say that you got here even earlier than I did. But now I notice that the couch quilt is pulled down, you’re wearing the same clothes as yesterday, and you have an exceptional case of bed hair! You stayed the night.”

“By the time we got here last night, it was close to curfew. It only made sense to sleep here.” Nate shrugged.

“Anyway,” Brad laughed. “What brings you here this early, Terrie? I thought we were all meeting at the warehouse. Did something else happen?”

“You could say that.” Terrie nodded toward the kitchen. “How much does your mom know?”

Brad sighed. “As of last night, everything. She’s digging into the deaths, and she’s good at what she does. I thought it best to tell her, plus I hate lying to my mom.”

“I’m glad she knows,” Terrie said. “Let’s join her in the kitchen. I’ll tell all three of you my news.”

Nancy slid a plate of waffles and cut up strawberries to each of the three teenagers sitting around her table. “Ok, give it to me. What else do I need to know before I go to the park?”

Terrie took a deep breath and told the other three everything she discovered about Lilly Monroe, the witch hunters, and her mom. After she finished, she looked at Brad. “Lilly gave me a book about the history of witch hunters and how to become one. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Obviously, I couldn’t hunt Matt or any of our friends. Now that I know that I can use the same ritual to become a witch protector, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be just like my mother.”

Nate leaned forward. “What can we do to help? Can we assist with research?”

“For now, I don’t need anything. If I read anything in this book that needs further research, I’ll text you first, Nate.”

Nancy collected the empty breakfast dishes. “I’m heading to the park. Do you need me to relay anything to your dad, Terrie?’

“No. We talked before I came here. Thanks, Mrs. Holliday. I’ll clean up the kitchen while waiting for the boys to shower and change. Be safe out there.”

Brad grinned at Nate. “Should we shower together to save time?”

Nate laughed. “That would not save time. I’ll shower first. You let everyone know that we’ll be on our way soon. Maybe we can have a plan of action before we get there.”

“Good idea,” Brad said as he took his phone out of his pocket, and Nate ran up the stairs.

Sky yawned and stretched, trying to wake up. His whole body ached, but he thought that might be normal after his transformation last night. Sky’s memory was fuzzy, but he remembered the change’s intense pain. He started to turn over and felt himself press against the warmth of another body. Sky blinked his eyes open and found himself wrapped in David’s arms.

David woke up, and the first thing he saw was Skylar. He smiled. “Good morning, beautiful.”

“Good morning. Such a nice way to wake up.” Sky pulled David’s arms tighter around his body, and David kissed the side of Sky’s neck. Then they heard voices and the sound of someone clearing their throat.

“I’m glad you two are so comfy but don’t forget that you’re naked and still in the cage.” Matt laughed. “I’ve unlocked the gate and set your backpacks inside whenever you’re ready.” Matt tossed a couple of blankets to David. “Just cover yourselves. We’ve seen enough. Too much, actually!”

“Hell yeah! Way too much! Horny devils!” Devon laughed.

David caught the blankets and handed one to Sky. “Do you remember last night? I remember them putting you in the cage and then waking up with you in my arms.” David frowned.

“I remember images and emotions. But, more and more memories are coming back as I focus.” Sky said.

“What do you remember? Did we…?” David blushed.

“Yes!” Matt, Devon, and Elias yelled in unison.

“It was like nature documentary porn!” Devon groaned.

Sky blushed. “I remember now.”

“Elias has a video,” Matt said.

“What?! Why?!” David said, eyes wide.

“In case you two couldn’t remember. I thought you might want to see.” Eli shrugged.

David stroked the side of Sky’s face. “Ignore them, babe. What do you remember?”

“Let’s get out of this cage.” Sky said. He stood and wrapped the blanket around himself. Sky picked up his backpack on his way out of the cage and sat at the table where the other boys had played gin rummy all night long. He looked from face to face and then focused on David. “It was strange. I felt like me, only different. I was stronger, more primal, but I knew that I was still me. I was a wolf, but I was still Skylar.” He held tight to David’s hands. “When they first put me in the cage, your wolf was angry. All he wanted was to get out of the cage and hunt. I’m not sure how I knew, but I knew he was angry and hungry and wanted to get out of the cage and run free.”

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” David asked.

“No. Absolutely not. When I looked into the wolf’s eyes, I knew that I was looking into your eyes. Somehow, I could sense that the wolf was in charge, but you were in there fighting for control. Once I was sure it was you, I knew what I needed to do to calm you.”

“What did you do?” David asked.

“I submitted myself to you, both as a member of your pack and as your mate. Wolves mate for life, by the way. You’re stuck with me now.” Sky grinned and blushed at David.

“I wish I could remember!” David’s head spun toward Elias. “Why can he remember, but I can’t?”

“I have some theories that align exactly with how Sky describes things. My theory is that when you bit Sky, you passed the werewolf gene on to him, but not the curse. All the stories about werewolves in the witch’s journals have led me to believe that the wolf and the man maintain a symbiotic relationship. The curse is what put your wolf in control, David. It makes you more primal, more instinctual. That would explain the wolf’s focus on freedom and hunger.”

“Does that also explain why I can’t remember, but Skylar can?”

Eli shrugged. “It makes sense. The wolf is the dominant personality for you, so you can’t remember. For Sky, he is in control or, at the very least, a co-equal partnership. Therefore, Sky retains the memories.”

“We really need to cure me of this curse,” David grumbled.

“We need a three-pronged focus today. One group working on potions and spells for your cure, one group collecting the supplies I need for the werewolf trap, and the final group searching for the wolf in human form.” Elias said.

“Do you think there’s anything else different about me?” Sky asked.

“There are stories of wolves changing in daylight. Other stories about partial changes, and we know that the wolf that bit David changes completely into a wolf. The two of you changed into what resembled horror movie werewolves. We may not know what you are capable of until you do it, Sky.”

Skylar sighed. “I guess I hoped you had an instruction manual.” He laughed.

“Not at all, but I will help you as much as possible.” Elias looked from Sky to David and back. “I will not abandon either of you no matter what.”

The two boys each put a hand on one of Eli’s shoulders and said in unison. “Thank you, Elias, that means a lot.”

Devon leaned forward. “So, who does what for these three tasks?”

“We’ll decide that at my house. Brad, Nate, and Terrie are meeting us there. While David and Sky get dressed, we’ll pack up everything else, and then we’ll meet the others at my house.”

The two groups of friends arrived at Eli’s house at nearly the same time. They all went into the house and gathered in the living room, just like last night. Terrie sat on the ottoman right in front of Elias, and she took his hands in hers.

Terrie took a deep breath. “Elias, I am starting to think that we were all fated to find each other. We have deeper connections than we ever knew.”

“What do you mean? What else have you discovered?” Eli asked.

“Lilly was at my house yesterday. She took me to her home. Lilly’s intent was to convince me how dangerous the supernatural is. My intent was to gather information to help you guys. What we discovered surprised us both. Lilly has a secret sub-basement full of tools to fight all manner of creatures. Witch hunters, I guess, is a generic label. Hunters fight all of the supernatural. Prime example, there was a case full of wooden stakes. Vampires are real. Who knew?” Terrie shrugged.

“I wonder what else is out there,” Eli said, his eyes full of wonder.

“Well, there were also shelves full of books in the basement. When I approached one of the shelves, I felt a tingly sensation all over my body.”

“Are you ok? What was it?” Matt interjected.

“I’m fine. It was a spell designed to only let those with witch hunter blood approach the bookshelf.”

Eli’s eyebrows scrunched together in concentration. “Does that mean that you are descended from hunters?” The room went silent.

“It does, but there’s a catch. My mom had hunter blood. Her ancestors, going back generations, were all hunters. My mother became best friends with someone she later discovered was a witch. She knew that woman to be a good person. My mom cast a spell when she found out that the hunters were going after her friend. She bonded herself to the witch as the first witch protector in a thousand years. Elias, the witch that my mom bonded herself to was your mother, Marie Carrier. My dad told me that my mother didn’t die in a car accident, as I was told. She was killed by the hunters. She died trying to protect the same coven you and Matt are now rebuilding.”

“I’m not even sure what to say to that. I’ve read about protectors, but only in the oldest journals. My mother’s journal said nothing, though it ends rather abruptly, probably with her death. Her spirit has never mentioned it either, but all of our conversations have been about witchcraft and werewolves.” Eli said.

The air shimmered behind Elias, and Marie Carrier’s ghost appeared. The spirit stared at Terrie before it turned to Eli and spoke. “What she says is true. Her mother fought for the coven, and she died a hero. The coven and this house would have been destroyed seventeen years ago if not for Julia Hanson.” Marie’s eyes darted to Matt. “When I sensed that you loved another besides my son, I did not know it was the daughter of the most powerful witch protector in a thousand years. The hand of fate is upon you, Matthew Montana. You and you alone have drawn this band together. It may seem that events center on the wolves or my son. They do not. You are the thread that connects them all. Without you, it all falls apart. Stay strong, Matthew.”

“Well, that’s not too much pressure!” Matt huffed out a laugh as the ghost disappeared.

Hands reached out from seemingly everywhere, patting Matt on the back or knee. David reached over and ruffled his brother’s hair. “We all have your back, Matt. We will find the grey wolf and the hunter, and we will deal with them. We can do this!”

Elias took Matt’s hand and laced their fingers together. He kissed the back of Matt’s hand. “I was pulled into your orbit before we ever met, and I am not even a little bit sorry. David is right. We can do this. With you by my side, nothing is impossible.”

Everyone in the room gave similar statements of support to Matt. He leaned against Eli’s shoulder with tears dripping from his eyes. “I feel the same way about each of you,” He looked around at everyone, then focused on Elias. “What do we need to do first?”

Terrie held up the journal she had gotten from Lilly. “I have my own task.” She looked at Eli. “I may need your help with something, but first, I need more details from this journal.”

Elias nodded. “Understood. I will be right here. Matt and I will be researching spells and gathering ingredients. I need to refine the curse breaker spell, and I need a werewolf charm spell.” Elias looked around the room. “Brad and Nate, take the wolfsbane map. Find as much as you can, but make sure it is tightly sealed before bringing it back here. The scent alone could make our two wolves sick, and speaking of our werewolf friends,” Elias smiled at David and Sky. “You two get to hunt.”

Sky smirked. “Fitting, but we may need more instruction than that.”

“I’m referring to the wolf, for now. We’ll deal with the hunter if we must. I’ve marked a map with all known or suspected locations where the grey wolf has been. I’ve marked your aunt’s house, and all four kill sites in red. Brad, Nate, and Devon found a lot of reports of large animal sightings and unexplained livestock deaths. I used their research to mark all those on the map in blue. As you will see, they are surprisingly close together. It should give you guys a strong starting point.”

“We’ll do what we can except knock on doors and ask if any werewolves live there.” David laughed.

“We’ll do some sniffing around.” Sky smirked. “My senses are enhanced even in human form. I’m not sure exactly what we’re looking for, but maybe we’ll know it when we see it or smell it.”

David, Sky, Brad, and Nate all left the house and went about their tasks. Terrie settled in on the couch with the hunter’s journal, and Matt sat next to her with his own pile of books to research charm spells. Eli wandered into the kitchen to gather supplies for the curse breaker spell.

Sky and David sat in the file room of the Roxbury Falls town hall, looking at deed after deed. It wasn’t the search they expected, but after they had walked around the park for an hour without a clear plan, David called Aunt Nancy. He explained to her that they wanted to narrow down who might be the werewolf, but all they had to go on was a map of the kill sites. Nancy suggested that they check the homeowners in their search area, then narrow that down by who lived there the longest. Once they had fewer houses to check, they should start with the ones in the center of the search area and work their way out.

Now, three hours later, they had a list of eight names. Five were married couples with children. Three homeowners were single males, so they had three possible suspects or three wild goose chases. David sighed. “I don’t know how Aunt Nancy does this kind of stuff all the time. It’s mind-numbing! Plus, we don’t even know if one of these guys is our guy or if we’ve wasted the entire day!”

“It’s still early. Let’s swing by all three houses and see if anything sticks out as weird.” Sky shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt.”

“I was thinking the same thing. If we can get a name and address, it will help when Elias sets up the traps.”

“First step, 96 Mitchell Lane.” Sky said as they left the town hall.

Brad snapped the lid shut on the Tupperware container, and he looked over at Nate. “Do you think this is enough, or should we go to the last field on our map?”

Nate took out his phone and snapped a pic of the three containers of wolfsbane that they had collected so far and texted it to Elias. A reply came back in seconds. Nate looked up and grinned. “We’re done. Eli said he could kill five hundred werewolves with what we have. But if there were five hundred werewolves, Eli would leave town without stopping to make potions.”

Brad rolled his eyes and laughed. “That sounds like Eli. Let’s get this stuff back to the house. Maybe we’ll have time to finally eat unless he has anything else for us to do.”

“I like that plan.” Nate grinned.

Brad and Nate walked into the kitchen and set the containers of wolfsbane on the counter. Brad leaned against the counter next to Matt and nodded toward Elias and Terrie. “That sounds like an intense conversation.”

“Yep. I’m staying over here until those two decide what to do. I am not getting in the middle of Eli and Terrie.” Matt said as Nate joined them. The three boys stood back and listened to their friends talk.

“Come on, Elias! We have to at least try!” Terrie said.

“If you knew how many defensive spells she has set up or where they all are, I would be more inclined to say yes. If I miss just one, we could alert her to our presence, or worse, it could be dangerous to someone like me. Hunters would likely have anti-witch barriers in place.”

“There’s so much in that basement that we could use. I saw a sword made of pure silver.”

Eli sighed. “There is a spell that I found that could make other spells visible. I’m not saying yes, but if we go, you do not question my judgment if we encounter a spell that I can’t nullify. We stop and return here. Do you accept that as a condition?”

“If that’s the closest thing I’m going to get to a yes, then I accept. Can we go now? I can call my dad and make sure she’s still at the station.” Terrie said.

Matt interjected. “No. Hold on. If the two of you are rushing off into danger, I have my own condition.”

“You are NOT coming with us,” Elias said forcefully.

“I one hundred percent agree with Eli. There is no reason for you to put yourself in danger, Matt.” Terrie said.

“While I struggle to not be offended by that, can I say what I actually intended to say now? Is this what life with the two of you will be like? A life of unfinished sentences?” Matt smirked.

“You may continue, my love.” Elias and Terrie said in unison, then blushed at each other.

Matt looked at Terrie. “I don’t trust either of you to call for help. I want to know that you are safe. You said you found the spell you were looking for. Bond us. Become the protector of the Roxbury Falls coven just like your mom was. Do this before the two of you run off into danger. If I can sense you through the bond like I can Eli, I will feel better about letting you do this.”

Terrie looked at Elias. “Do you think the changed wording for the first spell will work?”

“Yes, and I have an idea for the second one. I’m prepared if you’re both sure this is what you want.”

“I’m ready,” Terrie said.

“What do I need to do?” Matt asked.

“For now, sit there and look pretty,” Elias smirked. “Then, when we start the second spell, it will be nearly identical to when we bonded.”

“Should me and Brad leave?” Nate asked.

“Not necessary. Just don’t touch any of us. I’m not sure what would happen.” Eli said.

“Got it. No touching.” Brad huffed out a laugh.

Terrie and Eli started setting up the circle where the spells would be performed. First, they set out the herbs and lit the incense for Terrie’s witch protector spell. Once they were ready, Terrie stepped inside the circle and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the incense smoke.

New Justyce (Book 1 / Episode 3)

Book 1: Justyce Begins

Episode 3: Monsters and Heroes

Gavin didn’t look convinced. “An angel? Are you serious? That’s impossible, Logan. Maybe he’s part of whatever is going on. Be careful, Logan. The army is involved. I think you should stay away from Obadiah until we talk to dad.”

“Come with me, please, Gav. Let me show you what I found.” Logan led his brother back to the field and down to the crater’s center. “Look at that. Doesn’t it look like the imprint of a body? And look at the size of this crater, and the footprints only lead out of the crater, not in.”

“It is all very odd. I guess that’s the theme of the day. But an angel, Logan? I just don’t know. It could mean just what I said. He could be a part of whatever is happening.”

“Gavin, there’s something else. The feather was glowing a bright blue earlier, the same blue as all these little meteor rocks! Explain that! Touch one, and maybe you’ll understand.” He picked up a blue rock and tossed it to his brother.

“What the hell? It feels weird. Like it’s pulsing or something.” Gavin was now staring at the glowing blue rock in the palm of his hand. “Grab a couple more rocks so we can show them to dad when he gets home.”

Logan stuffed a few more blue rocks into the pocket of his jeans. “Gavin, I think Obie is out here somewhere. I’m worried that he may be hurt. What do we do?”

“Let’s go home and see if dad is there. If dad isn’t home, we can drive around and see if you can find your friend. But, Logan, we don’t know where he is or even what he is. You must understand that we probably won’t find him.” Gavin said.

“When I hold the feather, I feel if he’s close, but I can’t get an exact location. I appreciate you trying to help. I really do.” Logan said.

“Let’s go home and see if dad is there,” Gavin said, and they walked back to his car.

Ashton Connors sat in math class, trying to calm his nerves. Ash couldn’t sit still. His mind was in overdrive, and he hadn’t even had his usual latte that morning. Ashton heard a cracking sound and looked down. The tile underneath Ashton’s foot splintered as if someone had hit it with a hammer. “Crap!” Ash thought to himself. “I hope Mr. Bailey doesn’t see that, or he’ll blame me!” In his nervousness, Ash started tapping his pencil faster. Ashton watched, spellbound, as his hand moved so quickly that all he saw was a blur. With another loud crack, the pencil drilled entirely through the desktop.

“Mr. Connors, what is going on back there?” Mr. Bailey asked as he turned from the blackboard and looked directly at Ashton.

“Nothing, sir. Everything is fine.” Ashton was so worked up between the broken tile and the pencil sticking out of the desk that his whole body started to shake. Ash could barely follow his own movements as the desk began to vibrate.

“Mr. Connors, whatever you are doing, please stop this instant!” You’re disrupting the class, and if I have to speak to you one more time, you’re going to the principal’s office.”

“Mr. Bailey, I…” Ashton started to say, but then… CRASH!

Ashton’s desk fell apart, and he landed amongst the pieces on the floor. The students closest to him leaped out of their seats and backed away.

“Ashton! What have you done? Are you okay?” Mr. Bailey rushed to Ashton’s side.

“I’m alright. I don’t know what happened.”

Mr. Bailey’s eyes took in the disassembled desk and the smashed tile, and the pencil impaled through the desktop. He shook his head. “I don’t understand why so many of you kids have to be so destructive. Come with me, Mr. Connors.”

Ash opened his mouth to try and defend himself but quickly closed it again. It was no use. He couldn’t even explain what happened to himself, never mind explaining it to an adult. Ashton sighed and followed Mr. Bailey out of the room.

As Bryson drove through town, he took a right turn onto Sunset Street, and without warning, a car fell from the sky and landed upside down in front of him. Bryson slammed on the brakes but still smashed into the other car’s side.

Shaken up but unhurt, Bryson got out of his car and rushed to see if anyone needed help. Bryson got to the other vehicle, looked in, and saw two unconscious men. The vehicle lay on its roof, and both doors were wedged shut. Bryson peered in through the smashed windshield to see if he could pull the victims free. The driver was pinned in place by the steering wheel. The passenger hung upside down from the seatbelt and moaned softly. Bryson called 9-1-1 and reported everything he saw. After he hung up, Bryson crawled into their car to see if he could do anything while waiting for the paramedics. Bryson began feeling pain all over his body, then heard a voice. He looked at both men, and they were both still unconscious, yet a voice clearly said, “Oh God, please help me. I can’t feel my legs. I hope Brett is okay.” And someone different crying, “Oh my God, what was that thing. It looked like a bull. I can’t believe it picked up the car like a toy. Why can’t I wake up? Where’s William? I can’t see anything!”

Bryson shook his head. What the hell just happened? Was he hearing their thoughts and feeling their pain? Bryson searched to see if he could find the names William or Brett, anywhere in the car, but then he felt different feelings. Bryson was now filled with white-hot rage and heard a roaring inside his head so loud it felt like his skull may bust in two. He fell to his knees and grabbed his head. Slowly Bryson turned toward the road and then wished that he hadn’t. Bryson found himself face to face with something that should not exist outside of the movies.

The creature was seven feet tall and looked to Bryson like a minotaur out of Greek mythology, but he could still see human features beneath the dark brown fur. It had a brown leather-like hide that completely covered its massive body. The creature’s head closely resembled a bull, except the muzzle wasn’t quite so prominent. The monster also had large, sharply pointed horns protruding from its head. Its arms and upper body would put the bulkiest bodybuilders to shame, and its tree trunk sized legs ended in hooves instead of feet. Bryson could not believe his eyes. He was almost too stunned and scared to react at all. Bryson tried to slowly back up but immediately hit up against the wreckage of the cars. Bryson nearly fainted from shock when the creature began to speak.

Harvey was startled out of his reverie when he noticed his friend Ashton Connors walk out of the school, closely followed by the vice-principal. They walked to the end of the parking lot, where Ash kept walking off school property, and the vice-principal turned and walked back into the school. Harvey was staring outside, lost in thought, even though he should have been paying attention to his calculus teacher. “What was that all about?” Harvey thought to himself, then he raised his hand.

The teacher acknowledged Harvey. “Yes, Mr. Kastala?”

“May I go to the restroom, please, Mr. Sawyer?”

“Can’t it wait until the end of class?”

“Not really, sir.”

“Okay. Fine. Go. Make it quick.”

Harvey grabbed the hall pass from Mr. Sawyer’s desk and ran out of class. He ran past the bathrooms and out the front door. When Harvey got to the street, he looked all around, trying to see if he could find Ashton. Bingo. Harvey spotted Ash across the street, just entering the park. Harvey dashed off to catch up to his friend.

“Stand aside or share their fate. The stones they possess must be mine.” The bull creature stared at Bryson with glowing red eyes and waited for him to move.

The thoughts that ran through Bryson’s head were, “Could this thing be talking about one of the blue meteor rocks? Can he possibly know that I have one too? Can I live with myself if I just let him do whatever he wants to these injured men? What do I do?” The words that came out of his mouth were, “Are you really a bull? I called the cops already. Should I call animal control instead?” 

The creature roared as it charged at Bryson. He reacted without thinking. Bryson ducked under the creature’s outstretched arms and extended his own arms out towards the bull, palms outward. He felt a power surge through him, and he saw the beast thrown through the air back towards the center of the street. The bull was even angrier now. “Who are you, little man? You must have a blue rock, too. Taurus the Bull shall grind your bones to dust and take it from you!”

“Taurus the Bull shouldn’t refer to himself in the third person. It’s pretentious, especially for a heifer like you.” Quipped Bryson.

The bull lowered its head and charged again. Bryson tried to do the same thing he did before, but it didn’t work. Pain exploded in his right side, and he was lifted off the ground and tossed thirty yards down the street. Bryson smashed into a row of mailboxes. He looked back towards Taurus and saw that the bull was trying to pull one of the men out of the car. Bryson was scared, but he knew he had to try and protect the men from Taurus. Bryson groaned and stood up. He thought about how he had thrown the creature using only his mind. Bryson needed to access that power again. He looked around at the mailboxes and posts, broken and scattered at his feet. Bryson closed his eyes and pictured picking up a mailbox with his mind. When Bryson opened his eyes, one of the mailboxes was floating in front of him. He concentrated, and the mailbox flew at an incredible speed and smacked Taurus right in the back.

Taurus snarled and turned to face Bryson, letting go of the man in the car. The bull strode forward, head lowered, and yelled. “I’ve had enough of you, little man. I’ll beat you into a pulp and then finish what I came to do.”

Bryson crouched behind the pile of mailboxes and started sending them out at Taurus. Taurus, caught off-guard by the sudden rain of metal, stopped, and covered his face with his arms. Seizing this as an opportunity, Bryson let his new weapons fall and sent his power out at Taurus, sending the creature flying about fifty yards backward through the air.

Sirens wailed in the distance, growing ever closer, drawing Bryson’s attention. Bryson saw two police cars blocking the end of the street. The police were not attempting to move any closer. Bryson waved at the cops, trying to get them to come to help the men in the car. He didn’t even care if they wanted to help him fight Taurus. Bryson knew the cops saw him, but they moved no closer. While he watched, an ambulance drove up. The police initially stopped the ambulance, but Bryson heard raised voices. Then the ambulance pulled onto the sidewalk and drove past the police roadblock. Help was on the way. Now all Bryson needed to do was distract the giant homicidal cow.

Bryson positioned himself in between the ambulance and Taurus. The bull was back on his feet and ready for a fight. Bryson could hear the creature’s jumbled thoughts. “You’re from the docks? Who were you before you became Mad Cow Man?” Bryson asked with a smile.

“Get out of my head!” The Taurus yelled. “I’m gonna shut your wise-ass mouth for good.” Taurus charged at Bryson. Still listening to the bull’s thoughts, Bryson easily dodged the charge. He kept taunting Taurus and leading him further away from the paramedics and the two men in the car. When the bull realized what Bryson was up to, it was too late. They were three blocks away when Taurus noticed the ambulance driving away in the other direction. He turned to head towards the accident scene when two army helicopters landed in the street.

Men poured out of both helicopters. Taurus started forward, then thought better of it and ran off, roaring in frustration. Bryson considered checking on the men in the car, but he caught random thoughts from the army guys. They planned on questioning him, so he decided to leave before they could grab him. Bryson darted down a side street and disappeared into the city.

Christine Justyce heard the boy stirring in the living room. She peered in to see if he needed anything, and Christine saw that he was already back to sleep. She picked up her phone and made a call. As soon as the other person picked up, Christine began to speak. “Caleb, it’s me. I need you to come over to my house right away.”

“What’s wrong, sis?”

“An injured boy showed up at my house last night. He’s hurt bad. Can you come over right now?”

“Why did you call me and not an ambulance or the police, Christine? What else is wrong?”

“He has two huge, very raw wounds down his back. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“I’ll ask again. Why call me? What is happening?”

“His blood is bright glowing blue. He showed up covered in mud right after that strange meteor shower. Caleb, I don’t think he’s human.”

“I’ll be right there.” Caleb Justyce hung up the phone and headed to his sister’s house.

Erik didn’t have a plan of action after leaving Bryson’s apartment. He decided that he wasn’t going to class. There was too much on his mind to focus on college. A pleasant stroll through the park might be just the thing Erik needed to clear his head. Erik started to hear noises when he was about halfway through the park. He slowed his pace and left the path. From behind a stand of bushes, Erik peered into the big picnic area situated right in the park’s center. What he saw, Erik could hardly believe. For lack of a better word, two monsters were terrorizing a family near the barbecue pit.

One of the creatures looked like a mythological centaur. The centaur was a female and had long chestnut brown hair that matched the color of her horse body. The second monster was something Erik had never seen before. It had the basic shape of a man, and Erik could see that it had human facial features, but the skin had a reddish hue, and things that the family threw at him bounced off as if the skin was a hardened shell. The creature’s left arm ended in a relatively normal-looking hand, but the right arm ended in what looked more like a giant claw. Erik wondered to himself if this could be his own fate. Were these monsters caused by the effects of the blue meteors? Would he turn into one, too? He’d have to find an alternate path to get home, but should he call 9-1-1 first? Could he do anything to help? Could paramedics or even the police help against monsters? Erik snapped a couple pictures with his phone, then turned and ran back towards the school as he called the police.

Two ambulances pulled into Newville General Hospital and dropped off their patients. There was a flurry of activity in the emergency room. Both William Fuller and Brett Greene were in critical condition when they arrived. William had numerous broken ribs and internal injuries. Blood was dripping out of his mouth and nose. Brett had cuts all over his face and upper body. He also had a broken left arm and crushing injuries to both legs. Both men had glowing blue rocks in the pockets of their jeans.

“Ashton! Wait up!” Harvey yelled as he closed ground on his best friend.

Ash heard someone yell his name and stopped. He turned around and saw his closest friend, Harvey Kastala, running to catch up to him. Ash took a seat on a park bench and waited for Harvey.

Slightly out of breath, Harvey sat down next to Ashton. “Hey, Ash.”

“Why are you here, Harvs? Shouldn’t you be in class right now?”

Harvey waved the hall pass in front of Ash. “I’m in the bathroom. Duh!”

Ash rolled his eyes. “Go back to school, Harvey. I’m fine.”

“What happened? I saw the vice-principal walk you off school property?”

“I’m not sure what happened. My desk fell apart, and the school blamed me. Destruction of school property. It’s been a weird day, Harvs.”

“I know. My dad’s unit is on high alert because of the meteors. They think there’s more to it than that.”

Ashton’s eyes grew wide. “Do you know what they think is going on? Are the meteors dangerous?”

“Ash, what are you not telling me? What happened at school?”

Ashton sighed. “You know me too well.”

“You’ve been my best friend since kindergarten. Now spill it!”

“Okay. Alright. Well, my strange day started before I got to school. I was passing by the antique store on Park Avenue. The store burned down in one of the fires last night. I stopped to check it out, and I noticed a bright blue rock in the antique store’s ashes. It was stunning, so I picked it up.” Ash pulled the rock out of his pocket and showed it to Harvey. “The damn thing started glowing and made my whole body feel weird. I don’t know why, but I kept it.”

Harvey started to reach for it, but Ash pulled it back. “No! Don’t touch it. At least not until I finish my story. Then you can decide for yourself.”

“It may be too late for that.” Harvey reached into his pocket and pulled out his own four small blue stones. “They’re a lot smaller than the one you have, but I felt the same energy pulses throughout my body that you described. So, please, I need to hear the rest of your story.”

Ash reached out, placed a hand on Harvey’s forearm, and stared deep into his bright blue eyes. “Oh, Harvs, what’s happening to us. I hope to God that you don’t experience what I did today.”

“Just tell me, Ash. What happened?” Harvey asked.

Ashton relayed his story. He told Harvey about the floor tile, the pencil, and the desk falling apart. Ash explained that none of it was intentional. His body vibrated so fast that Ash could barely follow his own movements, and he had no conscious control of it. “So, that’s my story. It can’t be a coincidence. It’s gotta be related to the stones, right?”

Harvey was about to respond when an older boy came running out of the park. Harvey thought he recognized him. Erik? Something like that. He thought the boy graduated with Gavin. “Dude, where’s the fire?” Harvey said as the boy ran over to where Harvey and Ashton sat.

“There’s not a fire, but there are two monsters in the park, and I think they’re chasing me! We need to get out of here!”

“Whatever drugs you’re taking, you need to quit,” Ash said as an arrow flew out of the trees and stuck in the bench right between him and Harvey.

Bryson was out of breath when he reached Grace’s apartment. He took a few minutes to gather himself and then went upstairs and knocked on the door. Bryson heard Grace yell out from inside the apartment, “Come in!” Bryson opened the door and went inside.

 “Bryson, what happened to you? Your clothes are all torn. Are you okay?” Grace asked.

“I need your help, Grace. Even more now than when I called you. Have you seen the news yet this morning?” Bryson was pacing as he talked. The events of the morning had him pretty freaked out.

“If you are talking about the meteors and the fires, I’ve seen all the footage. What’s that have to do with the fact that it looks like you just went ten rounds with King Kong?”

 “Turn on your TV. Maybe you can see it for yourself. You gotta see this, or you won’t believe it. I don’t believe it, and it happened to me.” Bryson waited while Grace turned on the TV.

“What is this, Bryson? This can’t be real. Is this a movie stunt? Wait… is that you?” Grace looked from the TV to Bryson and back again. “What is that thing?”

“It’s not a movie stunt. I just fought a freaking minotaur or something close to a minotaur anyway. It called itself Taurus the Bull, and he was hunting two other people, but I found myself right in the middle. Taurus was looking for these.” Bryson pulled the blue rocks out of his pocket.

“Are they pieces of the meteor?” Grace asked, reaching forward.

Erik closed his fist around the rocks. “Don’t touch them. Something happened to me when I picked them up. I’m different now, Grace. I could read their thoughts, the two injured guys in the car and Taurus. His thoughts were jumbled, but I know Taurus came from the docks, and there was a big explosion down there during the meteor shower. It must be all tied together. I think that the rocks turned Taurus into that monster and gave me powers.” Erik lifted Grace’s coffee table up with his mind, spun it around, and sat it down.

Grace was in complete shock. She could not believe or understand what she saw, even though it was happening right before her astonished eyes. Bryson had been right. If Grace hadn’t seen it for herself, she would have never believed it. Grace didn’t want to consider it even now. “This is a lot to take in, Bryson,” Grace said, running her fingers through her long dark hair. “What else can you do?”

“So far, I can read minds and move things with my mind. If I can do anything else, I haven’t discovered it yet.”

Grace looked closely at Bryson. “Your eyes have changed. They are a much brighter green than they were before. You’re not wearing colored contacts, are you?”

Bryson ran to Grace’s bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror. He came back into the room and sat down again. “They are brighter. It has to be connected. My friend Erik Reilly found a meteor, and his hair changed color. Give me a minute to send him a text. I have to see if he’s experienced any other changes yet.” Bryson sent Erik a text, which was not immediately answered. “I need to go look for him. Will you help me find out what’s happening, Grace? The army showed up while I was fighting Taurus. I know you have high-level contacts in the government.”

“I’ll do what I can, Bryson. Go look for your friend. Keep me in the loop. Lay low. You were on that video clip. The army will probably come looking for you. You may want to stay somewhere other than your apartment.”

“That’s a great idea, Grace. I didn’t even consider that. I’ll find Erik and let you know if anything else happens.”

“Buy a new phone. Call me when you and your friend are both safe. I’ll contact my sources and wait for your call.”

“Thank you, Grace. I knew that I could count on you.” Bryson ran out of Grace’s apartment, toward Erik’s house, and down the street.

Coming Soon – Episode 4: Frozen Fisticuffs

New Justyce (Book 1 / Episode 2)

Book 1: Justyce Begins

Episode 2: The Zodiac Club

Bryson Indiana stepped out of the shower, still thinking about the strange fires he saw last night. Bryson felt there was an interesting story there that he had to investigate. After getting dressed, Bryson checked his appointment calendar. No clients were coming in today, but he did have a meeting with a reporter later that morning. Bryson’s private investigator business had finally started to take off last week. Three new clients! He didn’t need a new problem to solve, but his curiosity wouldn’t let him not check out those mysterious fires. Bryson wanted to walk to Starbucks to get his morning coffee anyway. He finished tying his shoes, pulled on a hoodie, grabbed his favorite beanie, and ran out the door. Autumn had finally started to take hold in northern Virginia.

            Carl Chambers woke to the sound of a crash. When he opened his eyes, his vision was unfocused and blurry. Carl stood on shaky feet and stumbled into the union hall bathroom. His body felt weird, and he couldn’t concentrate. Carl’s head ached, and he put one hand up to massage his temple and felt a massive amount of thick curly hair. Hair that hadn’t been there just the night before. Carl looked down at his arms and saw them covered with golden fur. The muscles in his arms were rippling and appeared to be growing right before his eyes. Carl rushed to the mirror and saw a face that he barely recognized. Carl’s appearance was warping and changing. He ran to the doorway and called out to his best friend and top assistant, Rick Myers. “Rick! Rick, get in here! Something is happening to me!”

Carl heard the same clip-clop of hooves on the wooden floor that he heard last night just before he blacked out for the second time. Then, Carl heard Rick’s voice, but it was deeper and gravelly. “Something happened to all of us, Carl. Something strange and powerful.”

Rick turned the corner, and Carl jumped back in surprise. What Carl saw, he barely recognized as his best friend. Carl could still make out Rick’s facial features, but that face was covered in brown fur, and horns were growing out of the sides of Rick’s head. The new Rick was around seven feet tall, and his shoulders were broad enough that Rick would have to turn sideways to enter most doors. As Carl gaped at his friend, he noticed that Rick’s legs ended in massive hooves.

“Oh my God, Rick. What is happening?”

Rick waved a hand at Carl. “You tell me, boss.”

“I think it was from the meteor last night. I felt it pulsing, but I never expected these physical changes. I don’t know what is happening, but I feel powerful!”

“Carl, I have horns growing out of the side of my head. It’s weird, but you’re right. I feel powerful!”

“You said it’s happening to everyone? Are they all still here? I want to see.”

“They’re still here. Some are just waking up. Some are happy, but not everyone. We may need to finish that meeting that was interrupted last night.”

“You’re exactly right, Rick. This could be the best thing to ever happen to us.” The two best friends strode out into the union hall meeting room to assess what had happened to the rest of their friends.  

Bryson walked to the edge of Newville Park, noting scorch marks on several trees. He knelt down to get a better angle to take some photos, and his trained eyes noticed a couple odd looking blue stones. He picked them up to look closer and nearly dropped them again. Peering at the rocks in the palm of his hand, Bryson saw that they seemed to glow and pulse with energy. He felt a surge of energy rush through his entire body. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, and then he slipped the two blue rocks into the pocket of his jeans.

Bryson stood next to one of the scorched trees and oriented himself to look straight at the part of the docks where he had seen the fire last night. Spinning around one hundred and eighty degrees, he faced the high school baseball field. He still needed that coffee, but he was in an investigative mode now. Starbucks was too far out of the way; he’d settle for the Dunkin Donuts next to the school. He walked slowly, scanning all the buildings he passed for signs of fire.

‘Brett’s Antique and Thrift Store’ must have been the destination of some of the firetrucks that passed his house in the night. By the time he reached the antique shop, Bryson had four blue rocks in his pocket. He was just about to continue on toward the school when he got a text message from Erik Reilly.

Erik: “Bryson, I need to come over and talk to you about something. It’s kind of important. Are you home?”

Bryson: “No. I’m on a case. Can it wait?”

Erik: “I don’t know. Something weird is going on. Did you see all the fires last night?”

Bryson: “Yes. That’s what I’m investigating. I’ll go home now. Come right over.”

Bryson slid his phone back into his pocket and nearly ran home.

            Obadiah woke up lying on a wooden floor in front of a big fireplace. He was disoriented and couldn’t remember where he was at first. Then the events of the night before played out in his mind. Obie stumbled away from the muddy field and walked towards the only light in the distance, this house. He didn’t know what else to do, so Obie knocked on the door. A lady answered, and then Obadiah couldn’t remember anything after that. He must have passed out, but Obie couldn’t remember. When Obadiah tried to recall anything before last night, all that came to him was the feeling of falling from a great distance. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. He also remembered that his name was Obadiah, and he recalled another name, Logan. It felt like Logan was important. Obie needed to find Logan, but right now, all he could do was lay his head back down and fall asleep.

As soon as Logan was up, showered, and dressed, he ran downstairs. Logan wolfed down a quick breakfast and threw a couple pieces of fruit and some trail mix into his backpack. Logan wasn’t sure where he planned on going yet, but he could still feel Obadiah’s presence nearby. Logan slipped on his shoes and slung his backpack over his shoulder. Logan poked his head into the living room. “Harvey, I’m going for a walk. I don’t have a class until ten. Tell dad and Gavin for me, please.”

Harvey glanced up from his phone. “Really? Ok, bro. See ya after school.”

Logan left the house and started wandering up and down the town’s streets. It’s not like the feather was a GPS that gave him specific directions. He could only get a vague sense of direction and distance. About ten minutes later, Logan heard police sirens. Soon after that, he saw two army helicopters fly towards the city’s center. Thankfully, the feather was leading him in the opposite direction. Logan had been walking for another fifteen minutes when he passed by the high school baseball field. Like last night, the feather started glowing, so Logan turned and walked into the field. Everything looked burnt, and he could still smell the smoke.

Logan found a massive crater in the center of the field, right where the pitcher’s mound used to be. He saw footprints leading away in the mud, but Logan didn’t see any footprints leading toward the crater. He crawled down into the hole and saw the muddy imprint of a body. The feather pulsed and flashed in his hand. Did something happen to Obie here? Logan was now even more determined to find his friend.

Logan crawled out of the crater and followed the footprints. A blue glow off near the edge of the field caught his attention. Logan walked over and looked down. He found two small rocks that glowed with the same blue light as the feather. Logan picked them up and felt the stones pulse in his hands. A wave of energy washed over Logan’s entire body. He felt different. Changed somehow. Maybe Obie could explain what happened when he found him. Logan put the two rocks in his pocket and followed the muddy footprints.

Carl walked out into the union hall’s meeting room and scanned the room. The creatures, his closest friends, were all spread out. Carl leaned his head back and let out a ferocious roar. Everyone spun toward him, and he spoke, “Friends, gather around the table and let us continue our meeting.”

“You’ll excuse me if I don’t sit at the table,” quipped Lisa Jensen.

Carl turned his head to speak, “I expect…” he stopped when he saw Lisa. Lisa looked the same from her head to her waist, but where her lower torso and legs should be now stood the body of a beautiful chestnut-colored horse. Carl began again, “No. Take the end of the table across from me.”

Brent Irons pounded his fist on the table, more claw than a fist, actually. His hand was bright red and hardened into a shell-like substance. Brent’s fingers were fused together, and his thumb was elongated and had a serrated edge. “Do you really expect business as usual, Carl? Look at us! We’re freaks! How can we even go out in public? Jayden was suffocating for no apparent reason. I’m not even sure if he’s still alive, and you want to continue a business meeting?!”

Carl looked around. “Where’s Jayden now?”

“Luke took him into the kitchen,” Brent answered.

Carl tapped Rick on the shoulder, “Go check on them.” Then he turned to the rest, “Let me address the questions Brent brought up. Can we go out in public? Yes, I say, and let them fear us! We are not freaks. We are amazing and powerful beings. Do I expect business as usual? Hell no! I expect that now instead of ruling Newville Heights… we can rule the world!” When Carl finished speaking, the rest of the assembled group pounded on the table and cheered.

“Time to get ready for school,” Harvey grumbled to himself. When he turned the game off that he was playing on his phone, Harvey noticed a text from his dad. The text was also sent to his two brothers. It read: “Boys, they activated my unit this morning. There are reports of strange activities and possible terror attacks in the city. I may not be able to come home tonight or possibly for a few days. Watch out for each other. Stay safe. Dad.”

Harvey flipped the television on and turned to one of the twenty-four-hour news channels. He could hardly believe what he was watching. Could this be real? They showed amateur film clips of glowing blue meteors racing across the sky and fires raging all over the city.

He was still watching when his oldest brother, Gavin, walked in and stood behind him. “Harvey, did you get a weird text from dad?” Gavin looked up from his phone. “What the hell are you watching?”

“The news, I think. Weird, right?” Harvey said.

“With this text from dad, I’d say it must be accurate, or the army thinks so. It sounds like they think it’s more than just meteors.” Gavin said.

“Should I go to school?” Harvey asked.

“Yeah. Go ahead. I’m sure the school will cancel classes if this gets worse. I don’t have class until this afternoon, so I’ll keep an eye on the news and watch for dad’s texts. Keep your phone on in case I need to contact you. Where’s Logan?”

“He went for a walk a while ago. He said he doesn’t have class until ten today.”

“Ok. I’ll try and get a hold of Logan; you go get ready for school.” Gavin sat down and texted Logan while Harvey finished getting ready for school and left the house.

Rick Myers walked into the kitchen of the union hall. Whatever he was expecting to see, what he saw wasn’t it. Luke Adams was standing by the sink with his arm outstretched. Luke’s hand was held out, palm facing upward, and his fingers were extended. Luke had a look of intense concentration on his face. The first shock for Rick was that the water that ran from the faucet arched upward and rained down on Jayden Stone. Jaydon sat on the floor, leaning against the sink.

Jayden, himself, was the second shock, though, at this point, nothing should shock Rick, considering his own transformation. Jayden’s skin was now bluish-green scales, and his eyes were narrow and a deep amber color. There were two slits on the sides of Jayden’s neck that were slowly opening and closing. Rick guessed that they must be gills, which must be the problem with Jaydon’s breathing. Rick cleared his throat. “Luke, Jayden, is there anything I can do to help?”

Rick’s voice distracted Luke, and he lost concentration. Water started spraying all over the room. “Rick? Is that you? What is happening to us?” Luke got the water spray back under control, but Jayden stood up from the floor, looking not entirely out of breath.

“Shut the water off, babe. I think I got this under control now.” Jayden said, between deep breaths.

Luke’s green eyes shone with concern. “Are you sure, Jay? What about the gills?”

“Yes, I’m sure. My body got confused when the gills formed, and I tried to breathe through them. I can switch back and forth between the gills and my lungs. It’s kinda cool now that I know how to do it.”

Luke switched off the water and rushed over to wrap his arms around his boyfriend. Luke tried to pull Jayden close, but Jayden took a step back and pushed Luke away. Luke had a look of shock and confusion on his face. “Jay, what’s wrong?”

“Look at me, Luke! I’m some kind of grotesque freak! I have gills and scales. You don’t have to pretend to still want to touch me.” Jayden said with tears streaming down his face.

“I’m not pretending, Jay. I love you. You are still you, and that’s the only thing that matters to me. You are still the most beautiful man in the world.”

“Can we talk more about this later?” Jayden looked over at Rick and motioned towards the meeting room. “What’s going on out there with everyone else? It sounds like a party.”

“Carl restarted the meeting from last night. He’s getting everyone fired up. We should get out there and find out the details for ourselves.” Carl turned and walked out of the kitchen, followed closely by Luke and Jayden.

Harvey decided to take the shortcut through the park on his way to school. On his way there, he noticed burned trees and scorched grass. “Weird,” Harvey thought. “All the burned trees are in a straight line.” Coincidentally, the line of burned trees was right along Harvey’s route. He noticed a bright blue stone in the center of a burned patch of grass. After seeing the news reports about meteors, Harvey bent down to take a closer look. Harvey tentatively picked up the stone, and it began to glow and pulse in his hand. Harvey’s whole body felt weird. He shrugged and stuffed the rock into the pocket of his jeans. By the time Harvey got to school, he had found and pocketed three more stones.

Gavin prepared a quick breakfast for himself, then sat down to channel surf. He wanted to see if he could find out what was going on in town. Gavin became engrossed with the news reports of the strange meteors and fires causing damage and the conspiracy theories about the army taking over the investigation. Gavin grew tired of watching the same video clips over and over. He looked at his phone for any new messages. It was odd for his brother to not answer a text right away. Gavin could not sit still and wait with everything happening, so he got up to go looking for Logan.

Carl glanced over when Rick re-entered the meeting room, followed by Luke and a third figure who must be Jayden. “Good. I’m glad you three could join us. We were discussing plans for taking over the docks and then the entire town and beyond. We should first search the city and find as many blue rocks as possible. No one else must be allowed access to them.”

“What if others have already found them?” Lisa asked.

“Kill them. We can’t allow anyone else to gain the powers that we have. We should even name ourselves to strike fear into the people.” Carl said.

“Like individual names or the group?” Luke asked.

“Both,” Carl answered thoughtfully. “Let me think.”

“How about The Freak Show,” Brent said with a laugh.

“No. No. Look around. It’s obvious now that we’re all here.” Carl said, looking from face to face. “We are The Zodiac. Literally. Look at us. Leo the Lion, Taurus the Bull, Cancer the Crab. We all fit the zodiac. That’s who we are… The Zodiac Club.” Everyone at the table looked around and nodded in agreement.

Erik Reilly rolled out of bed and turned on the television. He saw the news on every channel about the meteor shower and the fires, but, oddly enough, there were no reports of any meteors being recovered. Erik thought that was bizarre. If he found one, others must have as well. Maybe they kept it quiet for the same reason Erik did, the strange behavior of the rocks. He didn’t have any classes today, so Erik decided to text his friend, Bryson Indiana. Bryson loved mysteries. He even had his own private investigator business. Bryson answered his phone right away, and as soon as he found out it was about the meteors and fires, he was interested. Erik turned off his television and practically ran out the door.

Gavin drove up yet another street in his search for Logan. Finally, he spotted him. Gavin drove past his brother and pulled off the road right in front of Logan. Gavin got out of the car and walked right up to his brother. “What the hell, Logan? Are you trying to worry Harvey and me? With all that’s happening, you decide to just wander off and not answer your texts?”

Logan looked confused. “What are you talking about? What’s happening?”

“Didn’t you get the text from dad? Or the texts from me? Have you seen the news?”

“No. I left the house early. I didn’t watch any news, and I don’t have a text from dad. What time is it?” Logan looked down at his phone. “Dang. I didn’t turn my phone on this morning. I guess I was too preoccupied, Gavin. I’m so sorry. I meant to go to my class. I didn’t realize it was almost ten o’clock already.” He said while turning his phone on. “Here’s the text. What does this mean? What’s going on, Gavin.”

“There was a weird meteor shower last night. The meteors were glowing with a blue light. It was odd, but I wouldn’t have been too concerned. What’s got me worried is that the army must be worried. With the text from dad, I just don’t know.” Gavin said. “Your turn. Why are you out so early and not in class?”

“They were glowing blue, you said?” Logan’s voice trembled. “You might think I’m crazy, even with what you told me.” He pulled the feather out of his pocket and showed it to Gavin. “My friend Obadiah gave this to me. It also glows with a blue light. Gavin, Obie plucked this out of his own wing. He’s an angel. Well, more precisely, a seraphim. That’s what they call themselves, but yeah, Obadiah is an angel.”

Bryson rushed home to turn on the news and catch up on the stories about the meteors while he waited for Erik. He didn’t have to wait long. Less than ten minutes later, there was a knock on his door. “Come on in,” Bryson yelled.

Erik rushed in and closed and locked the door behind him. “I see you’re watching the reports about last night. Have they said if any meteorites were recovered yet?”

“No. Maybe the meteorites were too small to find or were destroyed in the fires.”

Erik grinned. “I find that hard to believe. I found one right behind my house last night!”

“Show me! Did you see it fall from the sky? Are you sure what it is?”

Erik took the blue rock out of his pocket and held it in his open palm. “Before you touch it, I need to tell you something. Yes, I saw it fall from the sky. I pulled it out of the charred remains of that big maple tree in my backyard. My dad is gonna be pissed. He loved that tree! But, anyway, as soon as I picked it up, it started giving off energy. The stone pulsed throughout my whole body. I feel different, Bry. I feel stronger. Hell, it even changed the color of my hair! Weird, right?”

“I noticed the hair. Bright red looks good on you.” Bryson winked.

Erik blushed. “Thanks. You just don’t give up, do you?” Erik smiled shyly.

“You’re even cuter when you blush. Give up the straight life, bro. Bisexuality is the only way to go! So many possibilities!”

“Can we please get back to this?” Erik waved the meteorite in front of his friend.

Bryson smirked. “Ok.” He reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out his own four blue stones. “I went for a walk to investigate the fires, and I found these. I felt the energy pulses that you described. I haven’t experienced any physical changes like you with your hair, but you’ve had yours since last night, and I just found these an hour ago.”

“What do you think it means? What’s happening to us, Bry? I’m scared, but I’m excited at the same time.”

“I have no idea, but it’s obviously my top priority to find out. A reporter friend of mine has helped with a lot of my cases. Grace should be able to help. I’ll call her. She has a lot of contacts in the government that I don’t have.”

“Reporter? Government? Can you trust her?” Erik thought for a moment. “Do you think we should turn these rocks over to the authorities?”

“To answer your first question, yes. I trust Grace as much as I trust anyone. To answer your second question, no. I can’t tell you what to do with yours, but there’s no way I’m turning mine over to anyone until I find out what they are and what they’re doing to us. If we give them to the army, the best-case scenario is we won’t find out anything. The worst-case scenario is that nobody ever sees us again. We’d be lab experiments forever once they find out about the energy pulses.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“Let me investigate and get Grace involved. You carry on with your everyday life. Go to class. Have fun. I’ll be in touch.”

“I knew you’d know what to do. That’s why I came here first. Thanks, Bry. I’ll text you if I notice any other physical changes or feel any effects.” Erik said as he left the apartment.

Bryson was on the phone with Grace Santos and headed for her apartment before Erik had been gone five minutes.

Carl Chambers sat in quiet contemplation. So much had happened since last night. Most of the twelve members of his group experienced at least minor physical changes, and, for some, the changes were dramatic. They all felt different. After their strategy session this morning, Carl sent ten of his friends out to search for the blue meteor stones with orders to kill anyone who had already touched the rocks. Carl wanted their group to be the most powerful beings in the town and the world. He glanced over at the other remaining person in the room, Danielle Gordon.

“Dani, have you figured out how to balance and properly move with that.” He pointed at the six-foot-long tail that curved up and over Danielle’s head.

“Yeah. It pretty much just came naturally. It is surprisingly maneuverable.” She swung the tail around from side to side.

“If you’re sure, then we have a job to do.”

“Collecting rocks like everyone else?”

“No. If we are going to rule this town, and eventually, even more, we need cash. What do you think about robbing the Newville Community Credit Union?”

“That sounds perfect to me, boss. Let’s go.”

Carl stood, shook out his golden mane, and led his scorpion-tailed companion out the door.

Coming Soon – Episode 3: Heroes and Monsters

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 15)

Chapter 15

Brad walked hand in hand with Nate up the front steps to his house. “Are you sure you want to meet my mom?” Brad shrugged. “We haven’t even had a real date yet.”

Nate huffed out a laugh. “We are not living in normal times. Dating protocols can go on hold while we battle the freaking supernatural!”

Brad grinned. “Agreed. Let me do the talking if she asks about Matt and David.”

“Yessir. Lying to your mom is your job.”

“We might not have to. My mom is the newspaper editor and works closely with the sheriff. I don’t know if they’ve talked today or if he’s told her anything.”

The two boys walked into the house. Nancy Holliday turned from making dinner as they walked in. “Bradley, you’re home. Have you seen your cousins? I’m almost done with dinner. Oh, hello.” She said, noticing Nathan standing next to Brad.

“Mom, this is Nate. Do you mind if he stays for dinner?”

“Of course, he can. I’ll set out an extra plate.”

“Not necessary. Neither David nor Matt will be home for dinner. I’m not sure when they will get home, but I will text them later. They were busy when I left them.”

Nancy quirked an eyebrow. “Boys, sit.” She pointed to the kitchen table and sat on one of the chairs. “I know there’s more going on than what is being reported by the sheriff.” She looked directly at her son. “And I know you’ve got yourself right in the middle of it. Talk to me, Brad.” She smiled. “You know I’m going to find out anyway.”

Nate nodded his head and looked at Brad. “I think we should tell her.”

Brad sighed. “You’re going to hate this, mom. Either you’ll think I’m lying to you, or you will believe me, and that might be worse.”

“Just tell me, Bradley. At this point, I think I need to know.”

“You’ve been to all the animal attack sites, right?”

“Yes. The sheriff even let me look at what was left of the bodies and read the coroner’s reports. I won’t go into details because I know you knew all three of the kids, but it was not a pleasant experience.”

“Did anything that you saw resemble any bear attack you’ve ever seen or heard of?”

“Honestly? No. What are you saying, son?”

Brad reached into his backpack and pulled out the two photographs. He slid the photos across the table. “These are the two photographs I took in the park last night. The sheriff got them back from his friend already.”

“And you want me to believe that this is a werewolf?”

“I want you to believe that that is David. The Montana family curse is real. My ex-boyfriend is a witch. Elias was drawn to the witch house last year because it is his family home. Eli is the last living descendant of the witches that cursed the Montana family.”

Nancy’s eyes were wide. “Are you saying that you think David is responsible for the three deaths?”

“Nope. Remember when David got bit by the big dog in the backyard, and Matt insisted it was a wolf and nobody believed him?”

Nancy quirked an eyebrow. “Second werewolf?”

Brad shrugged. “Technically, that one is the first werewolf.”

“So, this is why you boys have been suddenly living at the library?”

“I work there.” Nate quipped. “Brad will be spending more time there even after this is over?”

“I think we skipped over something in introductions. Are you dating my son?”

Nate blushed. “Yes… well, we haven’t officially gone out yet… but yes.”

“Are you still in school?”

“College and I am the junior librarian. I am pursuing a double major in Library Sciences and English Literature.”

“And how old are you?”

“Eighteen.” Nate huffed out a laugh. “All that may have made me sound older. I’m a very ambitious college freshman, and I fell into the library job. Mr. Harris needed help, and I was in the right place at the right time.”

Brad covered his face with his hands. “Mom! We haven’t even started dating yet. Don’t scare him off with the third degree!”

“You’re in high school. Nathan is in college. A mother worries.” She looked at Nate and then back at Brad. “I approve, but we might have to pry him out of the library and into the newsroom.”

“I considered journalism. No offense, but I’m more of a teacher than an investigator. The last few days’ research has been fun, but I’m more of a stay in the library guy than a go hunting for werewolves in the park guy.” Nate huffed out a laugh.

“Hey!” Brad yelled. “I resemble that remark!”

Nancy shook her head and winked at Nate. “I raised him to be too much like me. He needs someone like you to keep him grounded.” Then she looked at Brad. “Now tell me the rest. Where are my nephews.”

Brad took a drink of his ice water. “Settle in, and I’ll tell you everything I know. This might take a while.” Brad began his story.

———————————————————————————————————-

The five boys walked into the abandoned warehouse and looked around. Sky looked concerned. “Are you sure we won’t set off any alarms and get arrested for trespassing or anything?”

“Or maybe get accused of impersonating Marley’s Ghost?” Devon rattled the chains that he had wrapped around himself.

“We won’t be arrested,” Matt said. “If Terrie’s dad shows up, he already knows what’s going on.”

“Or that deputy shows up and burns us all as witches and monsters.” Elias scowled.

Matt shrugged. “Yeah, I guess Lilly Monroe is a new problem that we have to add to our long list of problems.”

“Where’s this cage, Matt? I can feel the moon.” David said softly.

“Come on, let’s get you back there,” Matt said, pointing toward the back of the warehouse. “Sky? How are you feeling?”

“Nothing yet, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel.”

“You’ll know it if it happens. The first time was the most painful.” David said.

“That’s comforting, babe.” Sky laughed.

Just as David stepped inside the cage, he fell to his knees. “It’s starting. Lock me up, guys.”

Matt helped Devon unwrap himself, and they started weaving the chains through the chain-link fence. Then Skylar screamed. Matt, Devon, and Elias all turned towards Sky as he fell to the ground in obvious pain. Sky’s emerald eyes were now a bright yellow, and his teeth were lengthening into fangs. In a deep growly voice, Sky screamed, “Help me! Please!”

Devon’s eyes were wide with fear. “What do we do? We don’t have a second cage!”

Matt looked to Eli. “Any ideas? Can we put them together?’

“I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this. We weren’t sure this would happen and had no time to prepare. We don’t have a choice but to put David and Sky together and hope for the best.” Elias shrugged. “We can watch them closely and try some calming spells if they get violent.”

Devon looked at Matt. “No matter what, they are our brothers. What do you think we should do?”

“Sky trusted that David wouldn’t hurt anyone, even in wolf form. I agree with Elias. If they retain any of their own thoughts, they will be fine. We must take the chance.”

“Agreed. Now we need to act fast to get Sky in the cage and not let David get back out.”

Sky was still predominantly human as Matt and Devon half carried and half dragged him to the cage door. As soon as they were there, Eli opened the gate. They successfully got Sky into the cage and then finished securely locking it up with the chains and padlocks.

“Who’s going to make the first coffee and snacks run? This is bound to be a long night.” Eli quirked one eyebrow.

Devon sighed. “I’ll go. What do you guys want?”

———————————————————————————————————-

Terrie got home and yelled out to her father. “Dad, I’m home! Do you need me to start dinner?”

“I’m in the den, sweety. Come in here before you get started.”

Johnny ran up to his big sister. “That mean deputy is in there. I don’t like her, Terrie. I heard her talking about you, Brad, and your other friends. Brad and Matt are both super nice. Brad saved my life! Don’t let her hurt them!”

Terrie ruffled her brother’s hair. “I’ll be careful, Johnny. Thanks for the heads up. I will always protect my friends., almost as fiercely as I protect you, little bro!”

Johnny grinned. “Love ya, big sis!”

“Love you, too,” Terrie said as she turned and walked into the den.

Terrie barely acknowledged the presence of Lilly Monroe as she walked over to her dad’s computer desk. “What’s up, dad?’

 “Lilly told me there’s been a lot of activity at the witch… at the old Carrier house. Do you know anything about that?”

Terrie shrugged. “Why, yes, I do. A bunch of us were there today. Eli’s foster parents have finally gotten all the legal issues straightened out. The house will officially belong to Elias upon his eighteenth birthday in a couple of months. We were helping him clean the old place up. Is there a problem with that?” As she asked the question, Terrie was staring right at Lilly.

“No. I…” The sheriff began, but Lilly cut him off.

“Yes, there is. You are getting involved in things you cannot control. The more you hang out with the Carrier boy and the Montana boys, the greater the danger you are in.” Lilly said.

“If you are this great supernatural hunter, why haven’t you done anything? How do you know that danger exists beyond a rogue bear?”

Lilly’s eyes narrowed. “We’ve spoken of this. You know that the supernatural exists, and you know it exists in this town. With your father’s permission, I can show you further proof if you come with me to my house.”

“Dad?”

“Go. Learn everything you can.” Ronnie said.

Lilly and Terrie left the house and walked to Lilly’s car.

———————————————————————————————————-

Before Devon left to go on his coffee and snack run, he stopped to watch the wolves. The two wolves were sniffing and circling each other, only stopping to rattle and shake the chain-link enclosure. Then the smaller wolf, the wolf with the greenish-yellow eyes – Skylar, lay prone and submitted to the blue-eyed wolf’s inspection.

Devon kept watching for a while, then his eyes went wide, and he turned to Matt. “Are they doing what I think they’re doing?”

Matt had an equally shocked expression on his face. “It’s like National geographic porn with a Stephen King twist. I don’t want to watch, but I can’t look away.”

“Eli! Are you recording them?! I don’t even want to watch this once. Why would you save it?” Devon asked.

Elias huffed out a laugh. “Not for me! For them. David has told us that he can’t remember his time as a wolf, except maybe a few flashes of memory. I thought this might be something they want to remember.” Eli shrugged.

“I don’t even know what to say to that. Or to that.” Matt pointed to the cage.

“It’s probably their first time together, too. Can life get any weirder for all of us?” Devon said.

Matt rolled his eyes and then laughed. “A couple weeks ago, I was living the straight life on the beaches of Southern California. Now, I’m a bisexual witch watching my brother and his boyfriend have werewolf sex. No. I don’t think life can get any weirder.”

“On the positive side, this may prove that they retain at least a portion of their true personalities as wolves. They are less restrained and more primal, but they are who they are. I believe Sky was right about David. He would not kill, even as a wolf.” Eli said.

“I hope you’re both right. Looking at those two, I’m inclined to believe it.” Matt said.

“Since we’re sure they’re not going to kill each other, I’ll head out on that coffee and snack run,” Devon said.

“Excellent idea. I’m starved.” Eli grinned.

———————————————————————————————————-

Terrie followed Lilly into her small cottage, situated on the edge of town. Lilly pulled open a door which led to a darkened stairway.” “Follow me,” Lilly said.

Terrie frowned. She was a little nervous, but her dad knew where she was and who she was with, so she followed. At the bottom of the stairs stood a steel door that looked like the door to a bank vault. “That doesn’t look like it belongs in this old cottage.”

“I did some home improvements when I moved in,” Lilly said as she stood in front of an electronic scanner to the right of the door. She put her thumb on the pad and waited for the beep, then she entered a series of numbers into the keypad. Finally, the door opened. Lilly led Terrie into a room that was bright and shiny. Everything was either stainless steel or painted white.

“Ouch. I didn’t know I’d need sunglasses.” Terrie scoffed. Then the items in the room caught her attention. There were swords and knives and guns and weapons of almost every variety. There was also a ceiling-to-floor bookshelf that covered three walls. Most of the books looked ancient. “Wow,” Terrie said in awe.

“Feel free to look around and ask questions. This is one of our oldest collections of books and weapons. Roxbury Falls has been a beacon for the supernatural for thousands of years. We thought we had finally eradicated the witches nearly twenty years ago, then magic was again detected here.”

“You are talking about Elias Carrier. You thought you had eradicated the witches by murdering his mother, but you didn’t know about Eli.”

“It was not me, personally, but yes, the rest of that is accurate.”

Terrie’s eyes narrowed. “Are you planning Eli’s murder right now?”

“If he continues to use magic, he will be dealt with most harshly.”

“What if he is using magic to help people? Magic isn’t inherently evil. People are. Would you kill him if he was helping people?”

“Magic and magical creatures are unnatural and cannot be allowed to exist.”

“So, you lied. Even if Elias doesn’t use magic, you still want him dead because he is magical.” Terrie said as she turned away from Lilly. “Wooden stakes? Are vampires real?” Terrie asked as she stared into a glass case full of stakes, holy water, and other vampire fighting gear.

“Most of the legends have a factual origin. Vampires haven’t been sighted outside of Eastern Europe in over a hundred years.”

Terrie nodded and moved on. She walked toward the bookshelves. As she got closer, she felt as if she had walked through a curtain of spiderwebs, but nothing was there. Terrie turned and saw Lilly staring at her with a shocked expression.

“What do you know about your mother?” Lilly asked.

“Not much. Why do you ask?”

“You just passed through a spelled barrier that only those with Hunter blood can pass through. That explains why you have been drawn to the witch and the Montana boys. Hunters are drawn to the supernatural, so we can destroy it.”

“I don’t know if I am what you say I am, but no one will destroy my friends. I will stop you myself.”

“You will change your mind as the bodies pile up in your town.”

Terrie’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve shown me your toys. You’ve spun your tales. I already believed that there was more going on in Roxbury Falls than most people think. Can I go home now?”

Lilly handed Terrie a book. “Take this. Read it. It explains the importance of your heritage as a witch hunter. It also explains why you can never trust a supernatural creature, and they are creatures. Even the witches who walk around looking human. Elias Carrier is not a cute teen boy to watch movies with. He is an emissary of Satan who must be burned out of existence.”

Terrie took the book. “I’ll read your book, but I’ll also hook you up with a good therapist and some anger management classes.”

Lilly led Terrie out of the basement and back to the car. “You will be back, and when you come back, you will be begging for my help to eradicate the evil that has infected your town.”

As Terrie listened to Lilly rattle on, she tried to remember as much about the setup of the house and security systems as she could. Terrie thought that she and her friends might need some of Lilly’s weapons to kill the rogue werewolf. With one last look around the property, Terrie slid into the passenger seat of Lilly’s car.

———————————————————————————————————-

Brad slid his phone back into his pocket and sighed. “Do you want the good news, the bad news, or the weird news first?” He asked Nate.

Nate reached over and grabbed another handful of popcorn before answering. “May as well start with weird.” He huffed out a laugh.

“Werewolves have sex. Well, at least our two do. LGBTQ+ werewolf sex. I’d like to see that in a pride parade.” Brad grinned.

Nate’s eyes went wide. “Glad I wasn’t taking a drink! I may have squirted Mountain Dew out of my nose. That is wild!” Nate’s brow furrowed. “I guess that means that the bad news is that Sky is a wolf for sure, and the good news is that they didn’t kill each other, am I right?”

“Yep! That’s the news update for now. Did you pick out another movie yet?”

“How about ‘Julie and the Phantoms’ instead of a movie? I’m sure this won’t be our only Netflix night.” Nate waggled his eyebrows.

“I sure hope we have more! That show has hot boys and great music. Can’t go wrong with that combo! Excellent choice!”

“Oh, aren’t I a hot enough boy for you?” Nate gave a pouty look.

Brad rolled his eyes. “Of course, you are, but more is better, right?” He laughed.

Nate smiled. “You’re funny. I think I like you a little bit.”

Brad started the show and snuggled up against Nate. “I’ve thought of a loophole in my mom’s rule. She said that she better not find both of us in the same bedroom in the morning, but I really don’t want to be alone tonight.” He looked up at Nate.

Nate leaned down and gave Brad a kiss that was little more than a quick peck on the lips. “What’s your loophole?”

Brad smirked. “We watch tv until we fall asleep right here, just like this.” He snuggled in closer to Nate.

“I approve of this plan. It’s evil, yet sweet and innocent.” Nate chuckled and let his hand slide down from Brad’s shoulder to his waist. Nate leaned his head against Brad, and the two boys settled in to watch tv.

———————————————————————————————————-

Devon got back from the snack run and stopped in his tracks when he saw Matt and Eli. “Dude! Should I wear a bell or something? First, I had to see Sky and David getting busy, now the two of you.”

Elias rolled his eyes. “We were not having sex. We were barely kissing. I wouldn’t even call it making out.”

“You’re just jealous.” Matt laughed. “We need to find you a girlfriend. Sky said the same thing.”

“Not really looking right now, bro. I talk to a few girls, but I’m just so busy with school, lacrosse and baseball, and the newspaper that I don’t have time to date. It’ll happen when the time is right.” Devon shrugged.

“The important thing right now,” Eli smirked, “is did you get my Mountain Dew and white cheddar Cheetos?”

“Your wish is my command.” Devon grinned and handed one of the grocery bags to Elias. “Where are we setting up for the night?”

Eli took the bags and pointed. “We set up a table and the sleeping bag over there. Only one sleeping at a time, I think. Two can stay awake easier than one.”

“Agreed. How’re our boys doing?” Devon nodded toward the cage.

Matt grinned and blushed. “It seems they wore themselves out. They’re asleep. They look kind of adorable for werewolves. They’re asleep and cuddling.”

“It’s comforting that humans aren’t the only ones that fall asleep after sex.” Devon laughed.

“I know, right?! And cuddling! I sure hope that witches are into cuddling, too!” Matt smirked at Elias.

“Oh, absolutely! I can one hundred percent confirm that they are.” Eli laughed.

Devon rolled his eyes. “Get a room!”

“We have a whole house, but no, we’re here with you instead,” Eli said.

“Blame my brother. No! Blame his brother.” Devon pointed at Matt.

Matt rolled his eyes and pulled out a deck of cards. “We’re in for a long night. What card games do you guys know how to play?”

The three boys settled in at the table with cards and snacks while always keeping one eye on the werewolf cage.

———————————————————————————————————-

Terrie got home and rushed right into the den to talk to her father. She found him still working at his computer. “Dad, we need to talk. It’s important.”

“What is it, honey? What did you find out at Lilly’s?”

“More than I wanted to, but all of it was important. The first thing is that Lilly’s house has a secret basement full of books and weapons. All of it is about tracking and killing supernatural beasts. Lilly said that Roxbury Falls has always been a beacon to the supernatural.”

“The town, this whole area, has always had unexplained deaths and weird things happening. Knowing what we know now, Lilly might be right.”

Terrie looked directly into her father’s eyes. “How much did you know about all of this before the last couple of days?”

“What do you mean? What else did she tell you?”

“What I mean is, did you know that the supernatural was real? Did you know that there was a werewolf in Roxbury Falls as soon as Kim was killed?”

Ronnie sighed. “I suspected after Kim, and I was pretty sure after Kevin. That’s why I put the curfew in place so quickly. I didn’t know it was a werewolf, not for sure. I’ve never dealt with anything like this, Terrie. I thought all this supernatural stuff was behind us years ago.”

Tears started to form in the corners of Terrie’s eyes. “You thought it was over after mom died, isn’t that what you mean? My mother was a witch hunter, wasn’t she? What really happened to her, dad? Did witches kill her?”

“No. Just the opposite. Witch hunters killed your mother while she was trying to save the life of her best friend, Marie Carrier.”

“Wow. Oh my God. That’s insane. So, mom wasn’t a witch hunter? Lilly told me that I have witch hunter blood.”

“You do. Your mom’s ancestors were all witch hunters, but she chose another path. Your mother was the first witch protector in hundreds of years. She wanted to make peace with the covens, and she had done just that. Marie and Julia were inseparable. Your mom went nuts when the witches started dying. She tried everything to save them, but there were just too many hunters. The hunters wouldn’t listen to anything your mom had to say about peace. They believe that all supernatural beings should be killed no matter what.”

“Did you know what Lilly was when you hired her?”

“Not until you told me about Elias. I know Lilly was fascinated with that house, but I had no reason to believe that hunters would come back to this town until you told me that Elias was a witch.”

“All of my friends involved in this are in danger now, aren’t they?”

“If they have ties to the supernatural, then yes. I’ll try my best to handle this as sheriff. If it’s only Lilly, we might be able to manage this. We do need to confirm who or what is killing kids, though, Terrie. I’m sure you want that just as much as I do.”

“I do, but I’m thinking that even if we deliver the guilty wolf to Lilly, she will still go after Elias and the others.”

“If she is anything like the hunters who were here seventeen years ago, you are right. I’ll try to get her to leave town, Terrie. Please don’t do anything stupid. I can’t lose you like I lost your mother.”

“I promise not to do anything stupid, but I will defend my friends. I won’t sit back and let anyone hurt Matt or Elias or any of the others.”

“I would expect nothing less. You are exactly like your mother. Just be safe, Terrie. That’s all I ask.”

Terrie grinned. “Saying that I am like mom is the best compliment you could ever give me. I’ll try my best to be as safe as possible, dad. I won’t back down, though.”

“I meant what I said. I am proud. You are a strong and independent woman. Your mother would be proud, too. You and your friends just try to lay low while I get Lilly out of town.”

“Thank you for being honest with me, dad. I’ll keep you in the loop. This new information about witch protectors might be what we need to get Lilly off our backs. Just know that it’s much too late for us to do nothing, and we’re not going to hide or run.”

“Understood. Good night, Terrie. I’m heading off to bed. I love you.”

“I love you, too, dad. Good night.”


New Justyce (Book 1 / Episode 1)

Book 1: Justyce Begins

Episode 1: Angels and Meteors

Logan Kastala’s eyes widened in fear. He saw the car speeding right toward him, but he knew he didn’t have time to get out of the way. Logan lifted his arms to try and shield his face, and then everything went black. Someone or something lifted Logan off the ground, and then it felt like he was rolling. Logan stopped moving but could not see a thing. He was still in total darkness. Logan moved his arms and felt a soft barrier like a blanket of feathers. He tried to push his way out, but Logan felt another person in the darkness with him.

“Hey! What’s going on? Who’s there? What happened?” Logan asked.

What Logan thought was a blanket pulled away from him and parted, letting in the light. Logan blinked and saw his friend, Obadiah. “Obie? You’re always helping me out of tough spots lately. It’s good we met! Thanks for the save!” Logan laughed, but he cut his laugh short when he got a better look at his friend. “Obie?” Logan said, backing up slowly. “You have wings! Am I dead, Obie? Are you an angel?” Tears welled up in Logan’s eyes.

Obadiah reached out and grasped Logan’s arms. “Don’t be scared, Logan. You’re not dead. Yes, I have wings. But I’m still the same guy you’ve become friends with over the last few weeks.” He tried to give Logan a reassuring smile.

“What are you, though? Are you an angel? A mutant? Something else?” Logan didn’t pull away from Obadiah, but he was still nervous.

“I am what you call an angel. We call ourselves Seraphim. We are not religious spirits from a place called Heaven. We are a race of beings from an alternate plane of existence. Our doorway into your world opens in the space between Earth and Mars. Many years ago, a human saw one of us coming to Earth. They saw him “descend from the Heavens,” and the myth of angels sprang up from that sighting.” Obie guided Logan into the park while they talked. They finally settled at a picnic table off by themselves.

“Why me? Why would you befriend and help me? And I can’t see your wings anymore. Where do they go?” Logan peered around behind him, looking for Obadiah’s wings.

“The wings are always there. I can control when people see them and when they can’t. As far as helping you and making you my friend? I genuinely like you. I sense great and special things in your future, Logan. You will do amazing things. I’m sure of it.” Obie said.

Logan blushed. “I’m nothing special.”

“Oh, but you are. I know it.” Obadiah’s smiling face turned suddenly serious. “I will get in big trouble for revealing myself to you. You probably won’t ever see me again. My father sits on the Council of Judgement, though I doubt if even he can get me out of this mess. If I never see you again, I want you to have something.” Obie’s wings reappeared for just a moment. He plucked one bright silvery feather, and then the wings vanished again. He handed the feather to Logan. “Keep this close, and you will always feel my presence when I am on Earth, and I’ll be able to sense if you are in danger.”

Logan’s head was reeling. He was still trying to absorb everything that was happening. First, a car nearly ran him over. Then an angel saved his life, an angel who happened to be his friend. Now, that friend gave him a magic feather plucked from his wing. Could things get any weirder? Logan reached over and took the feather. “Thanks, Obie. Everything that is happening is overwhelming, but I mean it when I say thanks. I’m just trying to wrap my head around all this.”

Obadiah reached across the table and took ahold of Logan’s hands. “Logan, everything will be ok. I promise. Even if I can’t come back, I sense remarkable things for you. You’re special, Logan. I knew it from the first time we met.” Obie leaned across the table, staring intently into Logan’s eyes.

Logan blushed. “I am not special in any way. I barely know what I’m doing from one day to the next. How am I supposed to have an important destiny? You must have me confused with someone else.” Logan huffed out a laugh.

“I could never confuse you for anyone else,” Obadiah smirked. “I can’t exactly see your future, Logan. I can only sense that you have an important destiny. You will overcome many difficult challenges very soon. You will not be alone. Others will gather around you, but you will be a central figure as the events unfold.”

“Well, that’s frightening. Are you sure you won’t be around to help and guide me through whatever happens?”

“If I can be here, I will be. I fear that if my actions today are known to my people, they will call me home to face judgment.” Obie frowned, his eyes downcast.

Logan reached over and lifted Obie’s face. “Your actions today were heroic. You saved my life. You didn’t do anything wrong. They have to see that.”

“We are forbidden from interacting with humans in any way. They won’t care that my intentions were good.”

“Let me talk to them. I’ll make them understand.” Logan reached across the table and took Obadiah’s hands in his own.

“That would only make things worse. I hope I am wrong, but I may never see you again after today. Please know that it wasn’t my choice to abandon you.”

“I pray that you are wrong! I’ve grown to care a lot about you in the short time that I’ve known you, Obie. So, if I might never see you again, I better do this now.” He closed the remaining distance between them and kissed Obadiah.

A bright flash of light caused both boys to pull back from the kiss quickly. Logan grinned and said, “Wow. That kiss made the sun brighter.” But then his smile faded. Three angels were standing around them. Two wore bright, shining armor, and each one grabbed one of Obadiah’s arms and pulled him to his feet. The third angel wore a suit and tie and was obviously in charge. Logan could see their wings. The two armored angels had silver wings like Obadiah’s, but the other one had golden wings.

The angel in the suit spoke first. “Obadiah, son of Samael, I hereby place you under arrest by order of the Council of Judgement. I order you to go with me to the Council Chambers for your trial.”

Logan sprang up from his seat. “No! He didn’t do anything wrong! He saved my life! How can that be a crime?”

Abathar glared at Logan. “Your words have no bearing on the business of the Seraphim. Obadiah knows our laws, and he chose to break not one but three of them. Forget you ever saw us, human. Especially forget you ever saw him.” Abathar pointed at Obadiah.

“I’ll never forget him. We’ll find a way to be together again. You can’t stop us.” Logan scowled, then looked at Obie, and his smile returned. “I’ll wait for you, Obie. No matter how long it takes.”

Abathar scoffed. “Let us be gone.” He motioned toward the other two Seraphim.

Obadiah reached out toward Logan but looked at Abathar. “Wait! I….”

He started to say more, but Logan never heard what Obadiah would say. All four angels disappeared in a flash of light. Logan waited around for a while but gave up and went home. He hoped that Obie was telling the truth about the feather. He clutched it tight and prayed that someday it would lead him to Obie.

———————————————————————————————————-

The two Seraphim Law Keepers half dragged, half carried Obadiah through the Council chambers before pushing him down into the Judgement Seat. The Law Keepers fastened the restraints and left the room. Obie’s face contorted in rage as he turned to look at the third Seraphim. “You could have let me say goodbye to him, at least. Two more minutes would not have mattered to you, Abathar.”

“If you want mercy, speak to Zadkiel. I seek only to see you judged for your crimes against our society. Crimes which you added to just before our arrival.” A look of disappointment and disgust crossed Abathar’s face. “With these new crimes, even your father won’t be able to help you, Obadiah. You held such promise.”

Obadiah sat straight up in his chair and stared directly into Abathar’s golden yellow eyes. “I did what my heart commanded of me. If the Council judges that to be a crime, then so be it! I would do everything the same all over again!”

The doors at the end of the Great Hall opened, and six more Seraphim entered, all with golden-hued wings. Abathar joined the other Council members. Three sat on each side of the table. The last, the High Judge, stood opposite the Judgement Seat. The High Judge, Azrael, spoke to the accused. “Obadiah, your father pleaded with the Council to show you mercy. We were inclined to accede to his wishes until news of your added crimes reached us. Your crimes have tied our hands, and our decision is final.”

Obie glared at each member of the Council. His father wouldn’t even meet his gaze. He clenched his teeth and looked directly at Azrael. “I did nothing wrong. Not one thing I did hurt anyone here or on Earth. I saved Logan’s life and fell in love with him. He has an important future. I’m sure of it. Earth benefits from what I did. I committed no crimes!”

Azrael shook his head. “You know that interfering in a human’s life is not allowed. You also know that engaging in sex with a human is a crime. And just for your crime of same-sex activity, the punishment is banishment. All three of these crimes individually are serious offenses. You committed all three. We cannot ignore that.”

Obie blushed in embarrassment and anger. “I did not have sex with Logan! And besides, none of those things should be crimes. Love is not a crime. Humans are a lot like us. If we interact with them more, we can help them. They can even help us in some ways! Your views are ancient and bigoted.”

“My views are the views of our people. My views are the law. You kissed that human boy. If we allowed it to continue, you would have gone further. Obadiah, you know why we passed these laws. The last time a Seraphim became involved with a human, he impregnated her. The humans called it a miracle birth. Hell, they still have wars over it over two thousand years later! The Council cannot excuse your actions, no matter how much we’d like to.” Azrael walked over to where Obadiah sat. “Obadiah, son of Samael, you are forever banished from our kingdom. If you return, your sentence will be death.” Azrael pushed a button, signaling the Law Keepers to return. Azrael and the other six members of the Judgement Council left the room. Samael never once glanced back at his son.

Obadiah’s screams echoed throughout the Great Hall as the Law Keepers removed his wings and dragged him to the Plains of Judgement. Obie saw his father in the crowd, “Father! They took my wings! Father! Help me!” Samael merely turned his back and walked away.

The Law Keepers opened a rift to the blackness of space above the Earth. They forced Obadiah to stand, then pushed him through the breach.

As Obadiah fell through space, his Seraphim power leaked out of the wounds on his back, mixed with his blood. The power attracted space dust and rocks that gathered around the young Seraphim like a meteor shower. Obie entered the Earth’s atmosphere as part of the most massive meteorological event ever recorded. There were so many rocks surrounding Obadiah that no telescope caught sight of his body at the storm’s center. The meteors, glowing with a bluish light, streaked through the warm August night sky on a collision course with a small town on the east coast of the United States. Newville, Virginia would never be the same. The entire world was about to change forever.

———————————————————————————————————-

Erik Reilly glanced away from his computer and looked out the window. A flash of light in the sky caught his attention. As he continued to stare, Erik saw what, at first, looked like a shooting star. He was puzzled. Erik knew he shouldn’t be able to see any star, shooting or not, through driving rain. Then there was another bright flash of blue light. Specks of blue fell like rain in the meteor’s wake. Erik watched in awe as, just as the shooting star or whatever it was broke through the clouds, it exploded into several pieces. One reasonably large chunk fell towards the docks, while the biggest one and many little ones continued over Erik’s house and towards Newville Park.

———————————————————————————————————-

Carl Chambers pounded his enormous fist on the table. “Full house? How do you have another hand like that, Myers?” Carl threw his cards into the air.

Rick Myers shrugged his shoulders. “Lucky night, I guess.”

“No one is that lucky,” Carl grumbled.

“I don’t know why we all even play. The two of you argue every single week.” Lisa Jenson complained.

“We’re here for more than poker. That’s why. You know that, Lisa. Now that Rick has all our money, we may as well get down to our real business. We need to tighten control of our territory. I’m sick of these piddly street thugs thinking they can come to my docks and rob people. If anyone is getting robbed, it’ll be by us!”

Carl was just getting warmed up with a speech about his plans for their next moves to take over more of the town. “First, we put a stranglehold on the docks. Every business must pay! Then, we take over the city, working out street by street, block by block.” Carl nearly yelled.

“Yeah! Let’s do this! First Newville, then the world!” Rick cheered.

Carl smirked as he looked around the table at his friends. He had them all convinced of his plans. Carl was ambitious and wasn’t satisfied just running Newville Heights and the docks. Carl wanted it all. Then, as fate would have it, a massive meteor smashed through the union hall roof ending the meeting abruptly with a loud, literal bang that would change their lives forever.

———————————————————————————————————-

Logan Kastala woke up screaming. He had the worst nightmare he could ever remember having. Logan felt as if he had been falling for hours, and his back felt like it was on fire! The pain subsided now that Logan was awake, but he still felt it. That’s weird, Logan thought. He could never remember a physical reaction to a dream quite like he was feeling now. Logan was about to fall back to sleep when he noticed the glowing blue light. Logan leaned over towards his nightstand to see what it was. The feather that Obadiah gave him was glowing! Logan picked up the feather and felt Obie’s presence nearby. Obadiah was somewhere on Earth for sure. Logan desperately hoped that Obie had not gotten into too much trouble with the other angels or Seraphim. Logan clutched the feather close and drifted back to sleep. Tomorrow he would begin his search for Obadiah. Logan never looked out the window, or he would have seen blue streaks falling out of the sky right over his house.

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Erik went outside to get a better view. He ran to the top of a hill right behind his house. Drenched in seconds, Erik brushed the water out of his eyes and watched as tiny meteors fell and hit the ground. Suddenly, a tree not twenty yards behind Erik exploded in flames. In his excitement, watching the small meteors hit, he lost track of the big one, but he thought it was still heading toward the park. 

“Wow!” Erik thought. The rain put the fires out quickly. Erik ran over to the remains of the tree. A small, glowing blue rock sat right in the center of the blackened and burned tree. Erik waited for the rain to cool the stone, then he reached in to pick it up. He thought better of it at the last minute, and he continued to stare at the rock.

The meteorite was about the size of a marble. Erik finally threw caution to the wind and picked it up. He almost dropped it as soon as he picked it up. It looked harmless. The stone wasn’t hot anymore, but it started to pulse in his hand. Erik could feel waves of energy coursing through his body with each pulse. He wasn’t sure what was happening to him, but Erik immediately felt different, more vital. He liked the feeling. Erik put the rock in the front pocket of his jeans and ran back into his house.

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The meteor at the center of the storm hit the baseball field behind the high school with enough force to leave an impact crater and rattle the windows of nearby houses. A shockwave was sent deep into the earth, awakening an ancient supernatural force. The shadow peeled itself away from the wall. It could sense the power of the being directly above, but more importantly, it could smell a world full of delicious evil. Evil that the shadow was eager to devour.

The shadow swirled upward, sliding through the cracks and crevices in the earth. It had been over a thousand years since the shadow was free to roam the land. The scent of evil was nearly intoxicating. The shadow needed to bond with a host, but it could sense that the being that had awoken it would not be suitable. The shadow had waited for a long time. It could wait a little longer.

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Everyone in the union hall jumped to their feet and backed away from the glowing blue rock. Part of the ceiling collapsed, and the wall caught fire. Carl felt waves of power emanating from the stone, and he leaped into action. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and yelled to his friends. “Don’t just stand there! Grab the rest of the extinguishers or buckets of water. We have to put this fire out and cool down this rock. I feel that it’s important!”

“Carl is right!” Yelled Rick. “Cool that rock down and put out the fires as soon as possible. And do not call the fire department! We have to handle this ourselves.”

Anyone with an extinguisher sprayed water or chemicals on the already glowing and pulsing meteor rock. The chemicals began to bubble and boil then the entire rock exploded. Steam and dust enveloped the twelve people in the room from head to toe. They all started coughing as they breathed in the mist. Carl dropped to his knees and then collapsed onto the floor. He looked through blurry eyes and saw all his friends on the floor around him.

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The boy groaned as he tried to lift his face out of the mud. He felt disoriented by the overwhelming number of sensations he was feeling. The most immediate was the almost unbearable pain in his back. It felt as if someone was ripping his muscles right off the bone. He could not remember ever feeling such pain before. As that thought crossed his mind, it occurred to him that he could not remember anything at all. The boy had no idea where he was, how he got there, or even who he was.

The boy, with significant effort, sat up and tried to clear his head. The pain in his back made it nearly impossible to concentrate. He opened his eyes and wiped the mud, rain, and hair out of his eyes. The cold, driving rain that pelted his face and body helped ease the burning pain in his back just a little and helped him clear his thoughts. He was cold and wet. His clothes were torn, dirty, and smelled of smoke. The smell of smoke was also thick in the air. The entire field was empty, burnt, and, in places, still smoldered. The rain helped to put out some of the small fires.

He got up and stumbled off in the direction of the one light that he saw. He hoped to find help, or someone might know who he was or how he got here. All he knew right now was that he needed to leave this field and get out of the rain.

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Bryson Indiana woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of sirens. He stumbled out of bed and out onto his patio. The first fire trucks Bryson saw were racing toward the school. The fires were past the school when he looked closer, maybe at the baseball field or a nearby house. Just as Bryson turned to go back into his house, he noticed the other fires. There were small fires in what appeared to be a nearly straight line from the school in the south to the Newville Docks in the north. Bryson’s curiosity was piqued, but it would have to wait until morning. Right now, all he wanted was more sleep.

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Carl rolled over and pushed himself up to a kneeling position. He felt weird. Strong. But weird. It was challenging to understand all the feelings that coursed through his body. Intense pain nearly caused him to blackout again. He looked down and saw tan hairs sprouting out on his arms and hands. His hands were growing and changing, nails turning into claws. He tried to look around for his friends, but the blue mist still hung over the entire room. He called out for help, but his voice sounded like a growl. He heard other growls answering his own, and just before he blacked out again, he perceived the distinctive clip-clop of hooves on the wooden floor.

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The boy stumbled away from the crater, and toward the light he saw in the distance. Words and images kept flashing through his foggy mind. Tree. Road. House. Logan! He immediately knew that Logan was important, but he did not know why. The boy crossed the street and walked through an empty parking lot. The boy walked to a dimly lit building at the far end of the lot. The doors would not open, but the boy saw a reflection of himself in the glass.

“Obadiah? Is that who I am?” He touched the face of the reflection, then drew his hand back and felt his face. “Logan would know if that’s my name. I must find Logan.”

Obadiah turned and once more headed in the direction of the only light in the distance. The glow belonged to a house. Obadiah walked past a metal box with writing that said, “C. Justyce.” He continued past the mailbox and stood in front of the blue wooden door. Obadiah raised his hand and knocked.

A woman opened the door, and her eyes went wide with shock. “Who are you? What do you want?”

Obadiah started to speak but became dizzy and fell to the ground. Obadiah looked up at the woman with pleading eyes just before he passed out. “Help me. I need to find Logan.”

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(Coming Soon: Episode 2 – Monsters and Heroes)

Return From Paradise (Intro)

Taylor stepped out of the Light. He looked around and grinned. Taylor was finally home. Most people beyond the Light found peace and contentment, but Tay only found mind-numbing boredom. He longed for an adventure. It took a lot of convincing, but Peter finally allowed Tay to leave. Everyone beyond the Light was shocked. No one could remember anyone ever willingly returning to the land before the Light. Taylor shrugged. He had never fit in anywhere else, why should he fit in there? He took one last look over his shoulder and watched the Light disappear. What now?

Tay took a closer look around and scowled for just a moment. He was exactly where he was when he entered the Light, the bottom of the big hill on Mill Town Road. Taylor had a brief flashback of the two bright lights, and he shivered. He sighed and started walking up the hill. Taylor had his backpack slung over his shoulder, is skateboard tucked under his arm, and he knew he would be home in less than fifteen minutes. Life could be worse. Tay wondered what everyone would think when he showed up. How much had changed in the six months he had been gone? He was excited to get home to surprise his family and friends.

When he reached the top of the hill, Tay set his board down and glided down the other side. He skated all the way to the end of his driveway. As he picked up his board, he noticed two teenage boys playing in his front yard. He thought they looked familiar, but he wasn’t sure who they were. Tay assumed they must be friends with his little brother Dustin. Dusty was way more popular than Tay, and it seemed like he was friends with the entire town. Taylor walked over to the two boys, who eyed him suspiciously.

“Hey, guys, where’s Dustin?” Tay asked.

“Dustin who? The only Dustin I know is our dad.” One boy said.

“No, no. Dustin Bell. He’s my little brother. We live here.” Tay pointed at the house.

The two boys looked at each other, both confused. The older boy spoke. “What are you talking about? Who are you? Dustin Bell is our dad. We live here.”

Tay’s eyebrows shot up, then a look of intense concentration formed on his face. “That can’t be right. I’m Taylor Bell. Dustin is my younger brother. This is where we’ve lived our entire lives. Who are you guys, and why are you lying to me?”

The younger boy tapped his brother on the shoulder. “Jimmy, look at his skateboard! Look at him! He looks exactly like all the pics of Uncle….” Crash! The sound of breaking glass stopped the boys’ conversation.

“Tay? How can you be standing there? You look exactly like the night you left. Even your clothes are the same!”

Taylor looked at the older man standing behind the two teen boys. He squinted his eyes nearly shut, then opened them again. “Little Chief? Is that really you?”

The man stepped in front of the two boys. “I didn’t want to believe my own eyes, but no one else has ever called me that name. How are you here, Tay? Are you a ghost?”

“I’m not a ghost. I’m back, Dusty. How… how long was I gone? It was only a few months for me.”

“Tay, you died thirty-two years ago. I was devastated. I’ve missed you so much. We all have. What’s happening, Tay? How are you here?” Tears were streaming down Dustin’s face, and his two sons were both intently watching and listening.

Taylor reached out and took Dustin’s hands. “I’m back, Dusty. I’m here, but I have no idea why it was six months for me and thirty-two years here. Time must move differently over there.”

“Over where? Where have you been? We… we buried you, Tay.”

“Can we go inside the house and talk?” Tay looked at the two teenagers again. “These are your kids?”

“Yes, and yes.” Dustin put his arm around the older boy. This is Jimmy and that is Brian. James Dustin and Brian Taylor to be exact.”

“I’m named after you, Uncle Tay.” Brian beamed.

“That’s cool,” Taylor said. “How old are you boys?”

“I’m 14 and Jimmy is 15,” Brian answered.

“This is confusing, Uncle Taylor,” Jimmy said.

“I’ll explain it all the best I can when we get inside, Jimmy. I’m a bit confused myself.”