The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 14)

Chapter 14

When Terrie got to the library, Brad, Nate, Devon, David, and Sky were all sitting on the front steps waiting. “I’m sorry it took so long. Are you guys leaving? What’s our plan?”

Brad stood up. “Nate had to lock up. The library just closed. Why don’t we move this strategy session to Will’s Diner? I’m hungry.”

Terrie rolled her eyes. “You are always hungry, Bradley. I pity anyone who tries to date you!”

Nate broke out laughing. “Is it too late to change my mind? Maybe an abort mission button?”

Terrie’s eyes widened. “Wait… what? Are you guys dating? Since when? Why didn’t I know?”

“Chill, bestie. We haven’t gone out on a date yet. We talked while I was here last night, and, well, once we’re not all in mortal danger, we’re going to go out.” Brad said.

Nate walked up behind Brad. He slipped his arms around Brad’s waist, and he rested his chin on Brad’s shoulder. “Don’t listen to him. It’s official. We’re dating. This gorgeous stud muffin is all mine.” He kissed the side of Brad’s neck.

Brad blushed and melted back into Nate’s embrace. “Ok. What he said. We’re a couple.”

“Cutest couple ever!” Terrie squealed.

“Now we need to find a girl willing to date my toad of a little brother, but they will have to ignore his grotesque appearance and lack of social skills.” Sky laughed.

“Whatever, bro, whatever,” Devon said with a grin.

“Terrie, did Matt say when he would be joining us? He’s not answering texts.” David looked worried.

Terrie’s expression clouded. “He might be with Elias for a couple of hours. They are… it’s a long story. Let’s get to the diner, and I’ll explain what I know over lunch. Matt asked me to fill you guys in on what I know, so we could have time to discuss everything while we waited for him and Eli to do… whatever it is that they think they can accomplish.”

David scowled. “I don’t think I like the sound of that. Let’s get going, so you can explain further.”

————————————————————————————————————

Matt stood in the corner of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, waiting for Eli to fill the tub. Elias dumped most of the herbs into the steaming hot water and stirred it around. He glanced over at Matt and raised one eyebrow. “You know you’re going to have to drop that towel eventually, right?”

Matt blushed. “I… sorry… I know, and I know we’ve been messing around a bit. And I know we both want to mess around a bit more. When it comes right down to being naked, I guess I’m a little nervous. I’ve taken showers in school and at the beach, but I’ve never actually been naked with someone…. one on one.”

“Wow. No one? I guess I assumed that you’d been with girls before, even if you’d never been with a guy.”

“Nope. No girls, no guys. Nothing but kissing for me so far. The furthest I’ve ever been with anyone was when you slipped your hand down the front of my pants last night.” Matt blushed.

“I hope that didn’t freak you out. If I’d known… we can take things as slow or as fast as you want, Matt. I am perfectly fine with letting you control the pace of whatever we do or don’t do.”

“It’s not like I’m saving myself or anything. I just haven’t found the right person, at least not until now, and now I’ve found two.”

Eli smirked. “Can we continue that conversation later? Right now, I need you naked and in this tub. This isn’t sexual, Matt. I won’t do anything inappropriate. When that happens, you’ll know, and it will only happen with your consent and full participation.” Eli winked.

Matt dropped the towel and stepped into the tub. He sat down and slid under the water up to his neck. Matt looked nervously at Elias. “What now?”

“Now we see if I’m any good at being a witch.” Eli huffed out a laugh. “Let’s begin.” Elias stood over Matt and started reciting the spell. Eli was speaking in Latin and sprinkling more herbs into the tub. The water began to bubble and swirl.

Matt’s eyes were wide as he watched the water swirl around his body. “Is this what’s supposed to happen?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like this before, but we know that if something happened, it would probably mean we were doing it right.” Elias said. Then, Matt’s body went rigid, and he cried out. Eli held onto Matt’s shoulders. “I got you, Matt, I got you.” Eli saw the pain on Matt’s face, but he also noticed an inky blackness starting to cloud the formerly crystal-clear water in the tub. Eli looked into Matt’s eyes. “Do you trust me?”

Matt couldn’t speak, but he nodded. Yes, he trusted Elias. He trusted him with his life.

Eli placed one hand on top of Matt’s head, and with his other hand, he grabbed another handful of the cut herbs from the nearly empty pouch on his belt. “Take a deep breath and hold it, Matt.” Matt complied, and Elias pushed his head under the water. Eli sprinkled more herbs into the water and recited the spell a third time. There was a brilliant flash of light, and then the darkness was gone. The water was crystal clear again. Elias released Matt. Matt’s head broke the surface of the water, and he took a breath.

Elias wrapped his arms around Matt’s chest. “Are you ok, Matt? Talk to me! Please!”

Matt leaned back against Elias and looked up at him. “I’m ok. That was intense, and for a short time, it was painful, but I think whatever happened is over.”

Elias looked thoughtful. “After that flash of light, the water cleared. I’ll make some herbal tea while you dry off and get dressed. Then I’ll cast the aura spell, and we’ll see if we were successful.”

Matt had taken a quick shower to rinse all the herbs off his body before he dried off and got dressed. He was now sitting across the kitchen table from a grinning Eli. “What? Did you do it? What did you see? Why are you grinning like a crazy person?”

“I am grinning mostly because of what I don’t see. I can’t see the darkness of the curse. Your aura is beautiful, Matt! So vibrant and full of colors. Before it was… I don’t know, diminished. The first time I saw your aura, it was shrouded in darkness. Now it’s the most colorful aura I have ever seen. You will do great things in your life. Being a witch is just the first step in a long line of amazing things you will do.”

Matt nearly jumped for joy. “Complete success? Can we try the other one now? This is awesome!”

“I want to bond with you, but we need to test you first. If dark magic still taints you, the bond would infect me, and that would ruin our chance at, well, everything, including cleansing David.”

“Ok. What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to cast a spell while I can still see your aura. If you use magic, I’d see the darkness infect your aura. A simple fire spell should be easiest for you to perform.”

Matt looked excited. “I’m ready. What do I do?”

Elias smirked. “How good are you at learning languages?”

Matt rolled his eyes. “Will there be homework?” He huffed out a laugh. “I’m in my third year of Spanish. Straight A’s. I mean, it’s not easy, but I can read, write, and speak quite a bit now.”

“Spells are spoken in Latin. I’m not sure if anyone has tried to create any in other languages, but for now, we’ll stick with established spells.”

“That makes sense. People probably created spells thousands of years ago. It would be so cool to make new ones, though!”

“One step at a time.” Eli smiled. “Ok. Extend one hand out in front of you, palm side up. Cup your hand like you are holding something.”

Matt followed the instructions and looked expectantly at Elias. “Done. Now what?”

“I’m going to have you create fire, then increase the size, and finally make it disappear. Are you ready?”

“Ready.”

“First say ‘ignis flammae.’”

Matt repeated the phrase, and a tiny spark ignited in the air over his hand. “Wow! I did it!” He was grinning ear to ear.

“Now say ‘invalesco’ and if the fire grows successfully, say ‘recedo,’ and it should go out.”

Matt followed the instructions, and both spells worked perfectly. “That was awesome! Did… did you see what you needed to see? Am I cleansed of the curse?”

“Yes, you are free of the curse, and you are free to join with me in forming a coven if you still want to.”

Matt stepped in closer to Elias. “Of course, I want to join with you in every possible way. Magical, physical, emotional, everything.” He lightly kissed Eli’s lips. “If what we were doing wasn’t so vitally important, I’d join with you right here and now.”

“Well, that’s the plan.” Eli grinned. “But, magically, not sexually.” He laughed, then turned and retrieved an extended length of red ribbon and an elaborately carved dagger from the table.

Matt cocked his head. “Do I want to know what we need to do with those?”

Eli smirked. “Nothing kinky… yet. I need to make small cuts on the palms of our right hands. Just enough to draw blood. Then we will clasp hands, and I will wrap the ribbon around our hands, wrists, and forearms to symbolically join us together, then we repeat the spell.” Eli pointed to the book on the table. He had the book propped open, and a passage highlighted.

Matt read the passage then looked at Elias. “What is the translation?”

“It says ‘Join together in spirit. Join together in magic. Our bond is unbreakable. Stronger together than apart. Our coven grows.’”

“Cool. I like it. Let’s do this.” Matt extended his right hand out toward Eli.

Elias took Matt’s hand. He made the incisions on their hands, and they clasped hands. Then Eli joined them together with the ribbon. “It’s time.”

Both boys repeated the spell. “Simul iungere spiritu. Simul iungere magica. Nostris foedere indissolubili sociavit. Sine solito fortiores. Coven crescat nostrae.”

Matt felt his whole body start to tingle, starting with his right hand and waves of energy flowing all through him. Then he felt his hand go ice cold, and he felt another hand on top of his and Eli’s. He saw his confusion mirrored in Eli’s eyes, but just at that moment, the figure of a woman materialized with her right hand joined with theirs forming a circle of three.

Eli’s jaw dropped, and then his eyes narrowed. “Mother, I have been trying to summon you for days. What made you decide to show up now?”

“You didn’t think you could cast such powerful magic without notice, did you?” Marie Carrier said. She glanced at Matt. “I sense the Montana bloodline. How dare you enter this sacred place.” She turned her ghostly gaze onto her son. “How dare you bond one such as he to our coven!”

“If you had appeared to me any of the six times I summoned you, I would have spoken to you about this. I needed your help, but now I have found my answers. You abandoned me as a baby, and you ignored me even now when you’re a spirit. As the last living member of this coven, I decided to remove the Montana curse as a first step toward undoing the evil that our ancestors caused this town. Besides, Matthew is my soulmate. You will accept him as part of my coven, or I will banish you from this house and my life.”

“You have grown stronger in your magic and your attitude. That is why I did not show up at your every whim. I can not be with you. Therefore you needed to learn to figure things out on your own.”

Elias glared at his mother. “With Matt by my side, I will never be alone again.”

Matt felt Marie’s hand grow warmer as she focused her gaze upon him. “You love my son.” Her eyes narrowed. “But you love another as well.”

“I do. I love both very deeply. I’m trying to figure out what that means.”

Marie’s lips curled up in a smile. “Coven witches have had polyamorous relationships for centuries. Make sure everyone plays by the same rules, and no one gets hurt. I sense only goodness in you, Matthew Montana. I approve of my son’s decisions.”

“I don’t need your approval!” Elias snarled as he unwrapped the red ribbon. “I cleansed and bonded with Matt, and we are going to remove the curse from David whether you approve or not.”

“You are still my son, and this is still my coven, Elias. You have my approval, if not my help, but watch your tone.”

“This is my coven. We did not bond with a ghost.” Elias said.

“Nothing is ever as it first appears. The two of you have the power to cleanse the elder Montana boy but beware. Darker forces are gathering beyond what you now know. Be careful, my son. Danger is everywhere.” With that, Marie Carrier disappeared.

“I didn’t expect to meet your mom today. That was interesting.” Matt said.

“I tried to summon her to ask her questions about all this, but she only shows up when she feels like it. I guess I can’t expect someone who dumped me off as a baby to be reliable even in death.”

“She did say that we are strong enough to cure David. That’s encouraging.” Matt looked at the time on his phone. “We should meet up with everyone and decide what to do next. Are you ready?”

Elias couldn’t help but smile. “After what we just did… with you as my coven mate… and whatever else we are or become… I am ready for anything.”

“Whatever else I am to anyone else, I am yours forever, Elias. If we add anyone else to our coven or our lives in any way, I never want to lose you. You know that, right?” Matt held both of Eli’s hands and stared deep into his eyes.

Eli leaned in, and their lips met in a brief kiss. “Yes, I know. I am yours forever, and I know that you are mine. I love you.”

Matt blushed. “I love you, too. Now let’s go find our friends.”

————————————————————————————————————

When the six friends reached Will’s Diner, they pushed two tables together, and then they placed their order. Terrie waited for everyone to settle in, and then she pulled two photographs out of her purse. She slid them across the table to Brad. “Dad got these back already. His friend thought dad was pranking him.”

Brad smiled. “I knew I took good photos! I mean, now we know more than we did last night, and these aren’t the important puzzle pieces that I thought they might be, but it’s still nice to see the hard evidence right here in my hands.” Brad looked over at David and slid him the photos. “That’s you, cuz.”

David’s hands were shaking as he picked up the pictures. He leaned against Sky. “So, this is what you saw last night. I don’t even know what to say other than I hope Matt and Elias can fix me.”

“You do not need fixing, babe. We’ll figure this out. You had the opportunity to attack me and Brad and Terrie’s little brother. You chose to run away instead. Even as a wolf, you made the right choice.” Sky said.

Brad nodded in agreement. “David, you were scary as hell. You roared and growled, and you were right there in front of both me and Johnny. You didn’t touch either of us. I agree one hundred percent with Skylar. The night before, the wolf that attacked Kevin, that wolf never hesitated. That wolf went straight for the kill.”

The conversation drifted from story to story, with everyone getting caught up on everything that had been happening. David ran his fingers through his shaggy blonde hair and let out a low whistle. “This is almost overwhelming, especially since my little brother and I are the two central figures in all of this. I guess the next step is to decide how best to lock me up without attracting attention while we figure out how to stop the change from happening, right?”

“We also need to make a plan to capture or kill the other wolf. That wolf is a killer. That wolf killed my best friend.” Brad said.

“And my best friend,” Terrie added. “There is one more important thing I need to share. My dad’s deputy, Lilly Monroe, revealed to us that she is part of a secret organization of witch hunters.”

Terrie was startled when a voice from behind her spoke. “Did you just say witch hunters? Where? Here in town? Who is it?” She turned and saw Matt and Elias standing behind her.

Matt blushed. “Sorry. We were just about to say hi when we heard you say witch hunters.”

Terrie pointed to the two empty chairs. “We saved your seats. Sit down, and I’ll tell you what I know. I just got everyone else caught up on the other stuff you told me.”

“We have more to share as well, but let’s hear about these witch hunters first. I’ve read a lot about them in the journals of past coven members.” Elias said.

“The who is Lilly Monroe. She’s my dad’s newest deputy. The timing didn’t mean anything to him back then, but as it turns out, she moved to town right after you started visiting the witch house, Elias.”

Eli’s brow furrowed. “They must have a way of sensing magic use. What Matt and I did today, well, we will have to be careful moving forward, but there are things we still have to do that will require powerful magic.”

“Did you… were you successful today?” Terrie asked.

“Yes. Success times two.” Elias couldn’t help but grin.

David leaned forward. “What did you two do?”

Matt grinned. “He removed the curse from me, and we formed a coven. I’m a witch! Now we can concentrate all our efforts on you. The curse’s power over you will be harder to remove. He wouldn’t have had the power to remove it by himself, but a coven combines the powers of the joined witches. Now we should be able to do it.”

“Can we try today? Now? Before the moon rises? I bit Sky. I’m not sure if anyone caught you two up on everything that’s happened yet. Is he cursed now? Will he turn into a werewolf tonight?”

“We need to move this to my house,” Elias said. “I have to consult some books. If we can’t cure you before nightfall, we may have to contain you and possibly Skylar.”

“Ok. Let’s go. We need to hurry.” David said, and the group of eight friends left the diner and headed for witch house.

————————————————————————————————————

Elias paced back and forth between the kitchen and the living room of what most people still called the witch house. Eli was beginning to think of it as home, and he never had so many people at his house before. Hell, the only one besides himself that had been in here in the last twenty years was Matt. Brad had refused to come, and that had played into the breakup. Eli’s mind raced as he paced. Everyone was looking at him for answers, even Brad. Now that they accepted that he was a witch, now that they believed in the supernatural, they were all looking at him to save the day. Elias felt his anxiety ratcheting up, and he paced even faster.

Matt leaned against the wall and watched Elias pace. He could tell that Eli was trying to work things out in his head, but Matt could feel the anxiety growing inside Elias. Ever since they bonded, Matt felt an empathic link to Eli. He couldn’t read the other boy’s thoughts, but he sensed Elias’s emotions. Right now, Matt could tell Eli was spiraling toward an anxiety attack. Matt knew he had to do something and do it now.

Eli’s eyes were darting from face to face while he decided what to say to the seven, wait, six? Where was Matt? Then Eli felt the strong arms wrap around him, and he heard Matt’s soft voice in his ear. “Stop pacing. Take a breath. You can do this. Hell, you can do anything. I believe in you. We all do.” Then Matt kissed the side of Eli’s neck.

Elias melted back into Matt’s embrace. “Thank you.” He smiled and stood up straight. Eli took a step forward and looked right at Skylar. “Aurae apparaistis!” Eli stood back and cocked his head, studying the aura. He looked several times from David to Sky and back again with a furrowed brow.

“What? What do you see?” David and Sky asked almost in unison.

Elias sighed. “There are overlaps and similarities in colors and patterns, but it’s difficult to compare because,” He said, looking at David. “a darkness shrouds your aura that is not apparent on Sky’s.”

“Does that mean I’m not going to be a werewolf?” Sky asked.

“Not necessarily. It only means you are not cursed.” Eli turned to the bookshelves and began taking books off the shelf and setting them on the table while he talked. “While I researched how to remove the curse, I learned a lot about werewolves. Lycanthropy is a blood-borne disease that fundamentally changes your DNA. It’s not a curse, and a parent can pass it to a child, similar to any other DNA marker.”

“What does all that mean for me? Can you cure me? Is there another way to tell if Sky is a wolf?” David asked.

Elias sat down across from David and Sky. “I have more research that I need to do. Comparing your aura,” He said to David. “To both Sky’s and Matt’s, I think I will have to use a different spell than I used on Matt. The darkness hovered around Matt, but it did not touch him. The dark magic entwines throughout your aura. It will take greater power and a more intense spell to extract the darkness of the curse from you. It will not happen before moonrise tonight, for that I am sorry.”

“Speaking of Matt,” David glanced at his brother before focusing back on Elias. “You’re sure that he’s free from the curse, and you and he are… what exactly?”

Elias gripped Matt’s hand, their fingers entwining. “Yes, he is free of the curse. We tested it to be sure. Matt was born a witch. I believe you were, too, David, but the werewolf bite forever corrupted your magic. The dark magic of the curse blocked Matt’s magic. When we removed that, he became his true self, a witch. As for him and me….” Eli looked at Matt, and Matt smiled.

Matt interrupted Eli. “As for what Eli and I are… mostly we’re still figuring that out, but the part that directly affects you guys is that we’ve bonded our magic and formed a coven.”

“What exactly does that mean? What benefit or advantage does that give you as opposed to just working together?” Nate asked.

“As a coven, our magic is bonded. Coven witches can draw on each other’s power. We are stronger together than each of us separately. I do not think that I alone could remove the curse from David, but I think that Matt and I can do it together.”

Devon spoke up. “So, you don’t know if my brother is a wolf, just that he isn’t cursed, is that correct?”

“Yes, that is correct. I’ve read that lycanthropy is transmitted through a bite or a scratch, but I don’t know if it’s a one hundred percent transmission rate. I’d lean toward caution and have Sky with us when we lock up David.”

“There’s no way that I won’t be there, wolf or not.” Sky said.

Now Brad joined the conversation, but before he spoke, he walked over and knelt in front of Elias. Brad’s eyes glistened with tears. “Eli, I can’t express how deeply sorry I am that I abandoned you last year. The way I treated you, I don’t even know why you decided to help my family. I wouldn’t even defend you from Derrick and his goons, and here you are doing all of this. I acted like an idiot when Matt started hanging out with you. I regret that, too. I hope both of you can forgive me, and we can start fresh moving forward.”

“There’s nothing to forgive as far as I’m concerned. We’re good, cuz.” Matt said.

Elias reached out and took Brad’s face in both of his hands. He used his thumbs to wipe away the tears. “Bradley, I do not regret loving you, and I hope you don’t regret loving me. You were my first love, my first heartbreak, and many other firsts. You will forever hold a special place in my heart. A month ago, I may not have been able to say this, but now I can say and mean that I forgive you.” Eli let go of Brad’s face. “With the intense looks we’re getting from Nate and Matt, I’d say we’ve both moved on. Clean slate, Brad, no looking back. We were friends before we were lovers, and maybe we can be again.”

“I’d like that,” Brad said. “But now we have a much more important topic to discuss.”

Elias nodded. “You mean the late hour, and out one… maybe two werewolf friends, right?”

“Yeah. Any thoughts?”

Matt leaned forward. “I found an abandoned warehouse that has a chain link fenced off section where their shipping and receiving department must have been. We should head there soon and clear out the boxes and maybe buy a padlock on our way there.”

“What about this other wolf?” Terrie asked. “The one that we think is the one who is murdering our friends. How do we stop him? Or capture him? I know helping Matt and David, and now Sky has been our priority, but this monster has murdered three of our friends. Isn’t stopping him just as important?”

“Of course, it is. I’ve been so focused on learning the healing magic that I….” Elias trailed off.

Brad spoke up. “We got you, Eli. Nate, Devon, and I did a ton of reading on werewolves. After my close encounter, I focused my research on killing the monsters. I was scared that I was possibly researching how to kill my cousin, but after Kevin’s murder, I was going to take the thing out no matter what.”

David huffed out a laugh. “That’s understandable, Brad. Did you find anything good?”

“Pure silver, wolfsbane, and beheading,” Brad smirked. “I printed up a map of the area showing where wolfsbane is growing.” Brad looked outside. “It’s starting to get dark. Collecting wolfsbane needs to be the top priority tomorrow, and getting David and Sky to that warehouse needs to be the top priority right now.”

Elias looked thoughtful. “While you collect wolfsbane, I’ll research charm spells. Maybe we can lure the beast into a trap.”

“That’s brilliant,” Brad said.

“So, who’s going to the warehouse?” Matt asked.

“I am for sure,” Devon said. The group talked and decided that Brad, Nate, and Terrie would go home. David and Sky had to go to the warehouse, and Matt and Devon wouldn’t leave their brothers. Elias also went to the warehouse. For him, it was a combination of supporting Matt, and also, he thought he might be able to fortify the cage with magic. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky, so the eight friends left Eli’s house and went their separate ways.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 13)

Chapter 13

The stack of books and newspapers tumbled out of Nate’s arms as he sat at the study table. He sighed and looked over at Devon and Brad. “That’s the last of what I think will be worth looking at. We should be done in a couple hours. The library closes at noon today anyway.”

Devon tossed the book he was reading onto the table and reached for another one. “There are a lot more stories about witches than werewolves and almost nothing about the two of them together. Didn’t you say you had some local stories?” He scanned the material spread out on the table.

Brad pushed a stack of newspapers closer to Devon. “These are old and local papers.” He said without even looking up from the paper he was reading. “There’s not much here, myths and legends and family trees. I found that every person who was suspected to be a witch has no living relatives in Roxbury Falls, except Elias, and Eli just moved back here a couple of years ago with a foster family. He didn’t even know anything about his family history until last year.”

“That in itself is weird, isn’t it? That many old families moving away?” Nate asked.

“They didn’t all move away. There were a lot of deaths… all deemed accidents.” Brad said.

“We need to move on to the next stage of our plan,” Devon said. “I’m gonna text Sky and tell him to come to the library and to bring David with him. Matt said he’d text after he talked to Terrie, right?”

“Yeah, and I’ll let him be the one to text Elias, too.” Brad rolled his eyes. “Nate? Let’s put all this away. We need to switch to searching the internet. It’s time to dig deep into the crazy conspiracy blogs.”

Devon grinned. “Now that sounds fun!” Devon shot off a quick text to his brother, which read, ‘Come to the library. Bring David.’

————————————————————————————————————

Matt sat cross-legged in the middle of the blanket. He took the food that he brought for the picnic out of the basket while he waited for Terrie. A shadow crossed over the blanket, causing Matt to look up and smile. “Hey, beautiful. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you. How are you?”

“Silly boy. You were just at my house. This looks wonderful.” Terrie said as she sat down.

“But I miss you every minute that we’re apart, and that makes it seem so much longer.” Matt grinned and then sighed. “I wish… I wish we could be just another young teen couple out on a first date in the park, but we’re not. A lot has happened, Terrie. There’s so much we need to talk about. You know some of it from talking to Brad last night and this morning, but there’s a lot more. I found out so much at Eli’s house, and I had another weird dream and woke up to find David outside in the bushes.”

Terrie reached over and took Matt’s hands in her own. “Tell me. Tell me everything.”

Matt started with the easy stuff. He told her about his dreams of the blue-eyed werewolf, and he told her about the new details that he learned with Eli’s help. Matt told Terrie that he was now almost positive that two werewolves were stalking the town, and because of that, he had hopes that his brother had not yet killed. He skipped, for now, details about Elias. Instead, he told Terrie about finding David in the bushes. He told her as much about the curse as he had learned. Then, after he finished telling her about werewolves and curses, he had no choice but to tackle the more complex topics, Elias and witchcraft. Terrie was still holding Matt’s hands. He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead, then took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, that’s what I know about werewolves and the curse that is on my family. But, there’s more that I need to tell you.”

Terrie’s eyes opened wide. “Wow. What else could you possibly have left to tell me? That’s a lot already. It’s all so hard to believe, but with you and Brad and even my little brother Johnny having seen stuff, I one hundred percent believe you guys.”

Matt frowned. “Most of the rest is about Eli and how he ties into all of this. Eli is a witch, and on top of that, he has proven to me that I am a witch, too.”

“What do you mean? Did he show you real magic? Can you do stuff?”

“He did show me his magic. He also explained his family history to me. There are many old books in the house that everyone calls the witch house, and he has learned from them. One of his ancestors was part of the coven that cursed my family.”

Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Then is he helping you, or is he the enemy that we should be wary of?”

“He’s helping. Ever since that first day that he saw me at Will’s Diner, he has wanted to help me. He dreamed about me before he ever met me, and I know he wasn’t lying. Elias described to me exactly what I was doing on my last night in California. Even David didn’t know what I did that night.”

“I can’t say that I like Elias dreaming about you, but that’s pretty cool that it was accurate.”

Matt blushed. “There’s a lot more that I have to tell you about Eli, and there’s more that you won’t like.”

Terrie looked concerned, and she held tighter to Matt’s hands. “You can tell me anything. But, especially now in these scary and unbelievable times, we have to be honest with each other and lean on each other.”

Matt sighed. “I agree. I just hope you still feel that way after I tell you everything. So, after Eli told me about his dream, I told him about the dream I’d been having about David. Eli got the idea to try to use his magic to enter my dream and help me see things about it that I hadn’t been able to see before. His idea worked perfectly. With Eli’s support, I stayed in the dream past when I would normally scare myself awake. It was near the end of the dream, the new part that I hadn’t seen, that I knew for certain that there were two wolves, and they match up exactly with the descriptions that Brad gave.”

“This is all scary as hell, but it seems encouraging. Like maybe your brother hasn’t killed, even though he’s a werewolf. So why would you say that I wouldn’t like what you had to say?”

Matt pulled his hands away from Terrie’s. He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. Matt rested his forehead against his knees and spoke softly. “I’m getting to that part.”

Terrie reached out and put a hand on Matt’s shoulder. Hey, I’ll say again that you can tell me anything. I have a feeling that I know where this is going, and it’s ok.”

Matt looked up with tears starting to form at the corners of his eyes. “I didn’t even know where this was heading until it was happening. How could you?” He took a deep breath and let it out. “When I saw the new ending of my dream, and I saw the danger that David was in, the danger that we were all in, I jumped and nearly fell out of the chair that I was sitting in. Elias caught me, but my momentum crashed us up against the wall. I was scared out of my mind, but he held onto me until I felt safe. First in the dream, and then there in his arms up against the wall, he made me feel safer than I’ve felt in months. He held me until I stopped shaking, and then he promised me that he would save my brother.”

“There’s still more to this story, isn’t there?” Terrie said. Her expression was sad.

“Yes.” Matt sighed. “I mean… I won’t make you listen to details. Not much physical happened, but I wanted it to. I stopped myself, and I stopped him until I could figure out exactly what I want. I needed to talk to you before I did anything I would regret. I didn’t… I wouldn’t cheat on you, Terrie. I’ve never been sexually attracted to a guy before. I’ve never been as attracted to anyone as I was to him last night, yet, sitting here, I know I’m falling in love with you. I’m so confused. I don’t want to hurt either of you, but I don’t want to abandon either of you. Saying that out loud makes me sound selfish, but I want both of you!”

Terrie’s eyes were wet with tears. “Is it possible that the dream caused your connection in real life? Maybe the magic?”

“We talked about that very possibility. According to Elias, the magic that binds us to each other could enhance feelings, but it couldn’t create feelings out of nothing. Terrie, there’s still more that I need to tell you.”

“What else could there possibly be?” Terrie raised her hands, exasperated. “Did you kiss him? Did he kiss you? More than that? What else?”

“I didn’t kiss him. I wanted to, but I didn’t. Full disclosure,” Matt pulled his shirt collar down, exposing the hickey on his collarbone. “That happened, but that’s not what I need to tell you. The physical stuff didn’t go further than him briefly kissing my neck. Terrie, you need to understand something about witches. Their powers grow when multiple witches are bonded in a coven. Eli doesn’t think that he’s strong enough to break a werewolf curse by himself, but he does think that he could break the curse’s power over me. If he can do that, I could bond with him, forming our own coven. It might be the only way to save my brother, but I think it is something I would want to do even if David wasn’t cursed.”

“I’m not really sure what the right thing is for me to say to all that, Matt. I think I’m falling in love with you, too, but you’ve said so much more than that. I can’t tell you not to bond with him if that’s even possible. Saving your brother and protecting the entire town has to be the top priority. You have to keep hanging out with Elias to do that. Besides, I care enough about you that I want you to be happy even if it isn’t with me. Go figure yourself out. I won’t abandon you. I won’t even break up with you right now, but I can’t say that I will be ok with whatever you decide. I’m your friend no matter what, Matt. We need to stick together through all the craziness and then, as long as we all survive,” Terrie huffed out a laugh. “We’ll figure out where to go from there.”

Matt nodded his head. “I suppose that’s the best possible reaction that I could expect from everything I told you. I appreciate what you said, Terrie. As soon as I know what the hell is going on with me, you’ll be the next one to know. I’m so sorry that I screwed up our picnic with my drama.”

Terrie shocked Matt with what she did next. She moved over closer to him and then straddled his lap. Terrie cupped Matt’s face in both her hands. “Babe, the fact that you tried to have a picnic with me while this is going on tells me how much you care.” She leaned in and gently kissed his lips. “You are an amazing man, Matthew Montana. I will stand by you while you figure all this stuff out. The supernatural stuff, and the romance stuff. I’m not ready to let you go.” She leaned in again, and he leaned in to meet her this time. Their lips crashed together, and their tongues entwined. They didn’t part until they were both breathless.

Matt was nearly panting. “That. Was. Amazing! Unfortunately, we have to meet up with everyone else now. David and Sky were going to meet up with Brad, Devon, and Nate at the library. I… I gotta go to Eli’s house before I go to the library. Do you want to meet up with everyone else before I get there, or should I swing by your house on my way there?”

Terrie’s brow furrowed. “I’ll go home first and try and find out if my dad found out anything about Brad’s photos. Then I’ll go to the library on my own. You do whatever you need to do with Eli and meet us as soon as you can. It seems as if Elias is a central figure in all this almost as much as David is. I’ll see you at the library, babe.” With a final kiss, Terrie got up and left the park. His head still spinning from the entire conversation with his… girlfriend? Ex-girlfriend? Friend? … whatever she was now… Matt sent off a text to Elias to let him know that he was on his way.

————————————————————————————————————

Brad followed Nate deeper into the library as they put all of their research materials away. As Nate set the last book back on the shelf, he turned and grabbed two handfuls of Brad’s t-shirt and pulled him in close. “I hate having debts hanging over my head. Do you mind if I pay you what I owe you now?” His green eyes sparkled, and his full lips curled up in a smile.

“I’ve added interest onto the debt, so now you owe,” The rest of Brad’s sentence was cut off when Nate pressed him up against the bookshelf and kissed him. Brad wrapped his arms around Nate’s neck, and Nate’s hands slid down Brad’s back and came to rest on his hips.

Nate broke the kiss, nearly breathless. “Oh, God, you’re an amazing kisser, and you taste just as sweet as you look. I have wanted to kiss you for two years, and I am not the least bit disappointed in the result!”

“I sure hope you don’t wait two more years to do it again!” Brad said with a giggle.

“Definitely not.” Nate leaned in for another kiss, but they were interrupted by the sound of Devon clearing his throat.

“I hate to interrupt the nerdy library sex, but Sky answered my text. He and David are on their way here. So you two might want to keep your clothes on a little while longer.”

Brad laughed. “Has it been that long for you that you confuse kissing with sex, Dev?”

Devon rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, dude.” Devon huffed out a laugh. “I like being a single pringle. Anyway, I’ll start organizing all our notes, so we’re ready for my brother and his werewolf boyfriend. Have you heard from Matt or Terrie yet?”

“Nothing yet. I hope he made out ok. That conversation could have gone bad. If he doesn’t text me soon, I’ll text him.” Brad said as the three boys walked back to the research table.

————————————————————————————————————

Terrie walked into the house and looked around for her father. Her search took her to his home office, where she finally found him. Terrie’s alert eyes noticed that her dad minimized whatever he was looking at when she walked into the room. “Hi, dad. I’m home. What’re you working on?”

“You’re home early. I didn’t expect to see you until curfew. Is everything alright?”

“No, dad. Nothing is alright.” Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Did you get anything back on Brad’s photos yet?”

“Why do you ask? Let me handle that. You don’t need to be concerned with it.”

“You’re wrong. I do need to be concerned. Brad was telling the truth. I’m sure of that now. The photos will prove it.”

The sheriff sighed. “What else has happened? Why do you say that you’re sure of it now?”

“You know something. You got the photos back, didn’t you, dad? I’ll tell you everything I know if you do the same.”

“Ok. It sounds like you’re involved already.” The sheriff opened the photos that he had been looking at when Terrie got home. “My forensic photographer friend emailed me these, and he asked me why I was trying to prank him with pics of a werewolf.”

“You know it’s not a prank, right?” Terrie asked.

“I’m getting there. It’s taking me a while, but I’m getting there. What do you know? What else has happened?”

Terrie stared at the photos of the blue-eyed werewolf, and then she looked over at her father. She pointed at the pictures. “That is most likely David Montana.”

The sheriff’s jaw dropped. “Tell me everything.” Terrie sighed and began telling her father everything that Matt had told her earlier and everything she had talked with Brad about the night before.

Ronnie shook his head in wonder. “So, there are two werewolves, and all the stories about the Carrier witch house are true. This… is unreal. And Matt is a witch? What about Nancy and Brad?”

“Not as far as anyone knows. Nancy and Brad aren’t in the direct bloodline, so they should be safe from the curse. Matt isn’t sure where the witch blood comes from yet. Who knows? This is all crazy, dad.”

The sheriff scratched his chin. “It is crazy, but if all this is true, then maybe all the stories are true. Do you know my deputy? Lilly Monroe?”

“Yeah. Lilly is nice. What about her?”

“Right after I hired her, she started asking a million questions about the town history. Now that I think about it, she moved to town and applied for the job right after the rumors started about the Carrier kid visiting the witch house. She tried to convince me to burn down the house. Let’s take a ride to the station. I think we should have a more in-depth talk with Lilly.”

“Do you think it’s best to get someone else involved?”
Ronnie shrugged. “If my hunch is right, she’s already involved. So we should know as much as possible.”

“Ok. I’m in. Let’s go.” Terrie said as father and daughter walked out of the house.

————————————————————————————————————

David and Skylar walked into the library, and Sky looked right at his little brother. “I can’t believe that I’m seeing you, of all people, in a library.”

Devon rolled his eyes. “We have a lot to talk about, big brother, but I’m sure that you know that already.” Devon’s eyes darted toward David.

David took Sky’s hand in his own. “Where is Matt? We may as well tell all these stories all at once. There’s no sense repeating everything multiple times.”

“I hoped Matt and Terrie would be here by now. Elias as well, I guess. This is all so unbelievable, David. I know we want to wait for everyone to get here, but I have to ask, do you know for sure? Are you a werewolf?” Brad asked.

“Yes. I do know for sure. I am a werewolf, and… I accidentally bit Sky. We’re not sure what that means yet, though.” Everyone started talking at once. Waiting for the rest of their friends went out the window as the five boys became lost in telling everything they knew and everything they had researched. It wasn’t for another hour that Brad’s phone alerted him to a text. Terrie was on her way to the library, but she was alone. Matt was at the witch house with Elias.

————————————————————————————————————

Matt knocked on the door, and it was answered by Eli’s foster mom. “Hello, can I… oh… you’re Eli’s friend, aren’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m Matt. Is Eli home?”

“Yes. Let me get him.” Before she could even turn around, Elias ran up behind her.

“Hey. Matt! Come on in.” Elias said with a grin.

Eli’s foster mom stepped aside, and Matt followed Elias up the stairs and into his bedroom. Eli spoke softly. “I just need to grab a couple of books to bring back to the other house. I think I found all the spells and ingredients that I will need to accomplish both things that we need to do.”

“Do you mean…” Matt’s eyes were wide and hopeful.

Elias grinned. “Yes. I don’t know if I’m capable of succeeding in either task, but I’m pretty sure I figured out how to remove the curse from you and bond you into my coven.”

Matt closed the bedroom door and then stepped in close to Elias. Matt’s blue eyes burned with desire as he stared deeply into Eli’s eyes. There’s a third experiment that we need to do today. One that I want to try before you cast any of your magic spells on me.” Matt smirked as he maneuvered Elias closer to the bed.

“What about… did you talk to… can I….” Elias stuttered out half sentences as he stared into Matt’s eyes.

“If your lips can’t form whole sentences, maybe I should find a better use for them.” Matt leaned in, and the two boys shared their first kiss. As the kiss deepened, Eli tried to take another step back but stumbled because his legs were already against his bed. As he fell, he clutched onto Matt’s shirt, pulling Matt down on top of him. Elias moaned into Matt’s mouth as he wrapped his legs around the other boy’s hips.

Matt pulled back and smiled down at Eli. “I hereby declare this experiment a complete success. Admittedly, I don’t have a ton of experience to compare it to, but that was easily the most amazing kiss of my life.”

Elias blushed. “It’s like you lit my whole body on fire. I hope this means that you want to be with me?”

“There’s a lot we have to talk about, but there’s one thing for sure, I never want to be without you ever again. I crave your touch like it’s a drug.”

Eli pulled Matt into another fiery kiss then pulled away. “I could lay here and kiss you forever… and do so much more, but we have things that we need to do before dark. With any luck, we can help your brother before the change hits him tonight.”

Matt rolled off of Elias. “It is getting late. It’s good that one of us was thinking with their big head.” Matt huffed out a laugh.

Elias giggled and sat up on the edge of the bed. “Being near you makes all this scary stuff a little easier to deal with.”

“I feel the exact same way.”

Eli grabbed his backpack and led Matt out of the room. At the bottom of the stairs, he poked his head into the living room. “Hey, Judy. Matt and I are going for a walk. I probably won’t be home until late.”

“Just make sure you get in before curfew, Elias,” Judy said.

“I will. Thanks. Bye!” The two boys left the house and walked toward the witch house.

————————————————————————————————————

 Terrie stood in the corner of her father’s office and listened intently as her dad talked to Deputy Lilly Monroe. “So, you haven’t found any hard evidence about the Carrier boy, have you, Lilly?”

“You sound like you are a lot closer to believing me, Ronnie. What do you know?” Lilly’s eyes darted to Terrie and then back to Ronnie.

“Let’s just say that my mind is open to possibilities now.”

“You know that there are no bears in the middle of town, right, Ronnie?”

“Witchcraft didn’t kill those kids either. What do you think did it if not bears?”

“You know the stories, and I can see that you know something of what’s happening now. First, the boy reopened the Carrier house, then the Montana family bloodline returned to town. It was after those events that people started dying, Sheriff. Dark supernatural forces are at work in Roxbury Falls. If the sheriff’s department can’t stop it, I know people who can.”

“Lilly, give me time to wrap my head around all this. Then, bring me your evidence, and we’ll work together. Don’t bring in outsiders.”

“If there are any more deaths, others will come. That is unavoidable. I will try my best to work with you to regain control of your town.” Lilly looked at Terrie. “I have seen you with the younger Montana boy. If you find things getting weird or out of control, come to me. I will help you.” Lilly nodded to both Ronnie and Terrie and then left the office.

Terrie and her dad both looked at each other after Lilly left the office. Terrie spoke first. “Thank you for not giving her any details of what I told you. I don’t think she would care if they are killers or not. Her opinion appears to be that all supernatural beings are evil.”

Ronnie nodded. “If David is a killer, you realize that I won’t be able to protect him. I won’t want to protect him, and I won’t be able to arrest him. We would have to involve Lilly and her friends.”

Terrie frowned. I’m meeting all the guys at the library this afternoon. I promise I’ll keep you in the loop. Please don’t involve Lilly until I talk to you again.”

“I expect you to keep that promise, and I will promise in return that I won’t get Lilly involved. Of course, if there’s another death tonight, she may get involved whether we want her to or not.”

Terrie shot off a text to Brad and then spoke to her father again. “I might be out late, dad, but I will be in before curfew. I promise.”

“Be careful, Terrie,” Ronnie yelled as his daughter nearly ran out of the police station.

————————————————————————————————————

Matt sat at the kitchen table in the house that he thought of as Eli’s house instead of the witch house. He watched Eli’s lithe form dart back and forth across the kitchen. The rich earthy aroma of herbs filled Matt’s nostrils as he inhaled deeply. “Are you cooking me dinner or casting a spell? The kitchen smells amazing!”

“Both,” Elias smirked. “The spell first, though.”

“Can I eat it? I’m starved!”

Eli rolled his eyes. “I’ll make sure you get fed. I have no idea how your body will react to the spell, and I don’t want you to puke on me.” Eli laughed.

“Gee, thanks! Are we ready?”

“I think so,” Elias said. “Huge disclaimer. I’ve read about these big spells that include herbs and potions, but I’ve never actually cast any. The biggest things I’ve done are all the protection spells around the house. So you’re going to be my guinea pig.” Eli huffed out a laugh.

Matt arched an eyebrow. “What’s the worst-case scenario if this goes wrong?”

Eli got a serious look on his face. “From my research, I am relatively certain that if I do this wrong, nothing at all will happen. If something does happen, I’ve done it right. I don’t know. What I think will happen is that the dark magic will be expelled from your body. What does that mean? Again, I’m not sure.” Eli shrugged. “Do you still want to go through with this?”

“Absolutely one hundred percent yes. WE know what’s happening with my brother. I’m willing to take my chances with the unknown to help him. But, doing nothing is not an option.”

Elias pushed Matt’s chair away from the table and straddled his lap. Eli ran his fingers through Matt’s thick dark hair as he stared down into his eyes. “You have the most beautiful blue eyes that I have ever seen. I would die before I ever did anything to hurt you. I will be careful. I will do everything exactly right. I made you a promise last night that you would not lose your brother. I mean to keep that promise, and the first step is cleansing you of dark magic.”

“What do you need me to do?”

Eli’s fingertips slid across Matt’s face and down his neck, finally coming to rest on his shoulders. Elias smirked. “The first thing you need to do is follow me into the bathroom and take off all your clothes.”

Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “What kind of spell is this?!”

Elias laughed. “I knew you would immediately think naughty thoughts. These herbs,” He motioned toward the kitchen counters. “Will go into a cleansing bath. The magic should draw the darkness out of you and into the water.”

“Oh! Ok! That makes sense.” Matt blushed. “It will be weird to be naked in front of you and not have it be naughty, though,” Matt smirked.

“We might get naughty later. Who knows?” Eli waggled his eyebrows, then turned away from Matt and collected all his bottles and bowls of herbs. Eli led Matt down the hall and into the bathroom.

Khristoff the Red

Sit right down by the fire.

Be forewarned, the story is dire.

I’m not here to tell of the original eight,

Or the ninth reindeer who came in late.

This is a tale of a red-nosed twin,

And why he was driven out by his kin.

Rudolph is a beacon of hope, that’s true,

But I wonder if you ever knew.

There is always a balance of wrong and right,

Beware of the other who gives off red light.

I don’t mean to fill you with fear and dread,

But be on the lookout for Khristoff the Red.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 12)

Chapter 12

David let the hot water cascade over his body. He watched the shampoo and soap mix with the reddish-brown water as it all swirled down the drain. He wracked his brain trying to remember where he had been tonight. His last clear memory was of Sky. They’d had dinner and then they went to the park and then… what? Had he hurt Sky? He couldn’t remember. Texting Sky would be the first thing he did when he was out of the shower.

Three nights, three blackouts, and three times waking up covered in blood. Matt’s idea was ridiculous and impossible, but it was also the idea that ran through his own head. Skylar told him not to think that until all other possibilities were ruled out. It looked like that time was now. A werewolf. Was it too late to convince Matt that he was just trying to fit his own nightmares into David’s reality? How much did Matt know? He’d have to have a long talk with Matt when he got out of the shower. He just couldn’t have that conversation standing there naked and covered in blood.

David stepped out of the shower and toweled himself dry. He slipped on a pair of sweats and went back into his room to talk to his brother.

—————————————————————————

As soon as David closed the door, Matt leaped to his feet. “David, you have to listen to me. I never told Brad that the wolf in my dream had blue eyes and now he says he has seen a blue-eyed werewolf and has pictures of it! And I know that it was a wolf and not a dog that bit you in the backyard. Add that in connection with what’s been happening with you and how can it be anything else?”

“Matt, werewolves don’t exist outside of stories. I can’t explain my lost time, and yes, I am very concerned about waking up covered in blood. But a werewolf? Come on.” David sat on his bed while Matt paced back and forth in front of him.

Mat stopped directly in front of David and held up both hands clenched into fists. He raised one finger with each point he made. “Gramps’s stories. My dreams. The wolf biting you. Your lost memories. The blood. The animal attacks in the park. And Brad seeing the blue-eyed werewolf.” Matt shook seven fingers in front of his brother’s face. “What more proof do you need, David?”

“I…” David sighed. “Ok. I have considered it. I’ve even talked it over with Skylar. I didn’t want to worry you. There has to be another more rational explanation.”

David sighed and looked up at his brother. “Stay with me tomorrow night. Record me all night. Brad too. Even if I’m not a werewolf, I may be dangerous in my sleep. The blood worries me most of all. Especially with the deaths in the park. I don’t want to believe that I’m responsible, but I guess we have to be sure. Will you do that for me? You and Brad record me all night?”

“Of course, I will, David. It’s kind of scary. We should do it somewhere else though. Not here. Somewhere safe just in case I’m right. Don’t you agree?” Matt asked.

“Yeah. I’ll meet you guys at the abandoned warehouse down by the school at six. Okay?” David ran a hand through his still damp hair, concern evident on his face.

Matt’s brow furrowed while he considered the meeting place. “That’s as good a place as any I guess.” Matt glanced at the clock. “It’s almost morning. Thank God it’s Saturday or it would be almost time for school. I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you in a few hours, David. Try and get some sleep. You look exhausted.” Matt turned and left the room.

David flicked off his light and lay down on his bed. He stared at the ceiling and thought about everything his brother told him. He was anxious to see the photos that Brad took, even if they were super blurry. David did not want to even consider the possibility that he was a werewolf. Not only was it ridiculous, but if it was true, then that meant that he had killed two or, more probably, three people. That was just unthinkable. There had to be another explanation.

Considering the hour, he doubted that Sky would be awake, but he couldn’t fall asleep without sending his boyfriend a text. He was just too afraid that he possibly hurt Sky. He knew he would never be able to live with himself if that happened. He didn’t expect an immediate response, but he sent it anyway.

David: Hey. I need to hear from you as soon as you get this. I don’t care what time it is. I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            had another blackout. The same thing happened. I woke up the same way again.                                                                                                                           My brother found me this time. Please call. The last thing I remember is I was                                                                                                                                             with you. I hope I didn’t do anything to you, Sky. I love you.

David set his phone on the nightstand and closed his eyes. He tossed and turned, trying to force himself to fall asleep. He nearly jumped out of bed when the text alert on his phone notified him of a new text message. He glanced at it. The message was from Sky.

Sky: I’m ok. I haven’t been able to sleep all night, though. I’m not hurt, but there is a lot                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   that we have to talk about. I’ll be over your house in a few hours. Try and get some                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             sleep. I’ll text you when I’m on my way. Good night, David. Or morning or whatever                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             it is. Haha. See you soon. I love you, too.

David could tell that something had happened, but at least Sky was ok, and he was coming over to talk. David closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.

————————————————————————————————————

After Matt left his brother’s room, he went to his own room to try and sleep. Before drifting off, he sent Elias a text.

Matt: I just found David outside in the bushes. He was covered in blood, dirt, and what                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            looked like chicken feathers. We were right. He’s not ready to openly admit it, but                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   even he knows that something is seriously wrong. I guess he’s already been talking                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to Skylar about it. He’s had blackouts and memory loss three nights in a row. I have                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to see Terrie first, but I’ll meet up with you later for sure. Things are starting to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        happen quickly. More and more people are figuring this out. Brad has pics, but I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 guess they are super blurry. I’ll see you soon. I miss your touch on my skin.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 (Blushing emoji) (Heart emoji)

Less than a minute later, Matt’s phone beeped with a text alert from Eli.

Eli: Wow. Things are happening quicker than even I expected. We can’t let word of this                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        get out to the wrong people. We have to handle this ourselves. It’s almost morning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I’ll just get up now and get to the research. I miss you, too. See you soon. (Hug emoji)

Matt put his phone back on the nightstand, turned over, and tried to sleep.

————————————————————————————————————

Fresh out of the shower and still fiddling with his hair, Matt went downstairs and into the kitchen. David was already sitting at the table, eating a bowl of cold cereal.

“Where’s Aunt Nancy?” Matt asked.

“She’s in her home office. I think she’s going to go pick up Brad soon.”

“Did you get ahold of Sky last night?”

“Yeah. He was a little mysterious about it. I’m going to meet him in about an hour.”

“He was cryptic in his texts to me, also. He might have seen you transform. I know you’re not ready to admit what we both know you are yet, but too many pieces are falling into place. We have to decide what to do before the moon rises tonight.”

David sighed, his eyes downcast. “I know. I know. Let me talk to Sky, and then we will both meet up with you and discuss everything.”

“That sounds like a good plan. You talk to Sky, and I’ll find out exactly what Brad knows. I also have to meet up with Terrie and have a completely different kind of stressful conversation.”

“Everything ok, little brother? Trouble in paradise?”

“I…” Matt sighed, looked down, and blushed a deep scarlet. “I almost kissed Eli last night.”

“What?! I thought we always told each other everything. I didn’t know you were bi! What happened?”

Matt rolled his eyes. “You know I hate labels. I don’t think bisexual would fit me anyway. I’ve never been attracted to any other guy in that way. I mean I’m not afraid to admit that a guy is attractive, but I’ve never been interested in touching them or kissing them or whatever. There’s just something about Elias. The attraction is intense. He touched me and it felt like my whole body was on fire. I wanted him more than I’ve ever wanted anyone, more than I’ve ever wanted any girl, even more than I want Terrie. I guess, if you have to put a label on it, I’m pansexual more than bisexual. I want him because he is Elias, not because he is a guy.”

“And you’re going to tell Terrie?”

Matt shrugged. “I have to be honest with her. Hell, I don’t want to break up with her. I really like her a lot, but I really like Eli, too.”

“Good luck with that, little bro. I doubt that either one of them will let you date them both. I know I wouldn’t stay with Sky if he was dating someone else!”

“You’re probably right. I’m just going to talk with her, be honest, and tell her everything. I’ll see where things go from there. There’s other stuff that I need to tell you about Elias. He is deeply involved in all this werewolf and curse stuff. When I meet up with you and Sky later, I’ll tell you both at the same time. I might even bring him along.”

“It feels like we’re living in a movie. I can’t believe this is all real.”

“What movie are you boys living in now?” Aunt Nancy asked as she walked into the kitchen.

“Not sure what we’ll name it yet, but I’m ready to change the channel.” Matt quipped.

Nancy laughed. “Do either of you need to be dropped off anywhere? I’m heading over to the Hanson’s to pick up Bradley.”

Matt stood up. “I need to talk with Brad before I meet up with Terrie, so I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll just hang here and chill. I’m meeting Sky in an hour.” David said.

“How much trouble is Brad in?” Matt asked his aunt just as they pulled into the Hanson’s driveway.

Nancy’s expression grew thoughtful. “I’m not making a decision on that until I talk to the sheriff and see those alleged werewolf photos, but regardless, he’s in big trouble for running off and putting himself in danger without telling anyone.

“Such a crazy story.”

“People deal with tragedy in a lot of different ways.”

“I get that. So much has happened in the last six months. I can barely wrap my head around it.”

Nancy put a hand on her nephew’s shoulder. “If you ever need to talk, I’ll listen. You know that, right?”

“Of course. Thanks, Aunt Nancy. Anyway, we’re here. Let’s go get him.” Matt smirked.

————————————————————————————————————

Matt knew he’d get more information from Brad alone, so, while Aunt Nancy marched straight into the den to talk to Sheriff Hanson and Brad, Matt snuck off into the kitchen to find Terrie.

Terrie jumped up from the table as soon as she saw Matt enter the room. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hey, you. I didn’t expect to see you for another couple of hours.”

“I came with Aunt Nancy to pick up Brad.” Matt rolled his eyes. “I didn’t even want to witness that reunion, though. I’m excited to hear about what he saw last night, but I’ll talk to him when we’re alone.”

Terrie huffed out a laugh. “You should have just waited for him at home then. Less chance of getting caught in the crossfire.”

“He texted me. He’s going to have her drop him off at the library. He plans to tell her it’s for a school assignment, but it’s for more werewolf research.”

“I still have a hard time believing that we’re seriously considering the possibility of werewolves. Did you find anything out from Elias last night?”

Matt couldn’t hold back from blushing. “I… yeah. A lot happened last night. We’ll talk at lunch. You’re still meeting me down by the lake at noon, right?”

She smiled up at him. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world! It’s our first real date.” She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled his face down to hers. Their lips met in a kiss that started tender and quickly turned passionate. The sound of someone clearing their throat from the kitchen doorway caused Matt and Terrie to separate and look guiltily toward the sound.

Brad stood there, grinning. “You ready to go, Matt, or do you need a condom and another twenty seconds?”

“Shut up, perv.” Matt rolled his eyes. “Ignore him, babe.” Matt said, turning back to Terrie. He leaned down for one more quick kiss and then left with his cousin.

————————————————————————————————————

“The library closes at three on Saturday. You better be home before three-thirty, Bradley.” Nancy said just before the boys got out of the car.

“Yes, mother. I’ll go straight home when I’m done with my research.”

The boys sat down on the front steps to the library, and they both sighed. Matt looked over at his cousin. “You didn’t just lie to your mom, did you?”

“Nope. I said I’d be home when I’m done with my research. I never mentioned the library or what type of research.”

“Clever. So, I have a lot of news to share, but I want to hear about your close encounter first. Do you have the photos with you, or did you leave them with the sheriff?”

“I gave my thumb drive to Sheriff Hanson, but you couldn’t see much anyway. Just a big brown blur with two little blue blurs for eyes. Let’s wait on the story until Nate and Devon get here, so I don’t have to tell the same story two or three times in a row.” Brad laughed.

“That’s fair.” Matt said with a grin. “I feel the same way about my news. We really need to get everyone together. So much is happening so fast.”

“It’s so crazy. I can’t believe it’s real.” Brad looked at his phone. “Nate and Devon should be here any minute.”

Just then, Devon walked around the corner and up onto the steps of the library. “Are you using my name in vain again, Holliday?” He smirked.

“Every chance I get. It’s about time you got here.”

“Looks like I beat your boyfriend here, so shut your face.” Devon’s smirk turned into a wide smile. “Hey, Matt, what’s up?”

Matt looked surprised. “Boyfriend?” His head swiveled from Devon to Brad and back again. “I thought I only missed updates on research. What’s this about a boyfriend?”

“He’s not my boyfriend. At least not yet.” Brad blushed.

“Who? Who isn’t your boyfriend yet? What did I miss?”

“Well, duh! He’s the only other person who isn’t here yet.” Brad rolled his eyes.

“You mentioned someone named Nate.” Matt shrugged. “Have I met him? Does he go to our school?”

“No. That’s true. You probably haven’t met him. So much has happened, it seems like you’ve been here forever, and not just a few days.”

“So? Who is he?”

“He’s the assistant librarian now. He’s older than us. He graduated last year.”

“Did you guys ever date? Were you friends? Two years older isn’t really that much.”

“I barely knew him. I mean, I knew who he was, but we weren’t close. Now shut up, here he comes!”

Nate walked up and smirked at the three boys waiting on the steps. “Gee, I’m not used to so many eager faces waiting to get into the library on a Saturday morning.” His gaze stopped on Matt. “You must be one of the Montana’s. Matt I’m guessing. I’m Nathan or Nate. I’ll answer to either.” He stuck out his hand toward Matt.

Matt shook the offered hand. “Nice to meet you. We were just talking about you. You are everything that I expected.” Matt winked.

Nate shot a look at Brad then grinned at Matt. “I hope you were only told good things.”

Brad piped in. “I barely had a chance to tell him your name before you showed up. He’s exaggerating as usual.”

Nate winked at Brad as he finished climbing the steps. “It’s good to know that I left enough of an impression to be talked about.” Then Nate unlocked and opened the library doors. The other boys followed Nate into the library, and they all settled in at the same table in the research room.

“I may need to be out front from time to time, but I should be able to help in here again, too. What books do you need me to find today?”

Brad spoke up. “Anything you have on werewolves. Specifically related to this area if there’s anything, but werewolves for sure. They exist. I saw it again last night. Possibly a different one, I’m not sure. I took pics, but they are super blurry. The sheriff might try and get them cleaned up for me.” Brad looked right at Matt. “Johnny Hanson was there. He saw it, too.”

“Sky came home from his date early last night, and he was acting weird. He went right to his room. Matt, how was David acting last night after he got home? Did they have a fight?” Devon asked.

Nate was practically jumping up and down. “You saw a werewolf again? Did it attack you? How did you get away?”

“Loud music and yelling. He ran off. I probably got lucky; I don’t know for sure. I think it was a different wolf than the other one that I saw, but I don’t want to believe that there’s one, much less two!”

Matt sighed. “There are two. The monster that bit my brother, and my brother himself.”

All eyes turned to Matt. Brad spoke first. “Do you know for a fact that David is a werewolf? Have you seen him change?”

“I haven’t seen him change, but I dreamt about it.”

“A dream? Come on, Matt, that isn’t proof!” Devon said.

“Elias helped guide my dream last night. It was very vivid. Then, later, I found David outside our house in the bushes. He was nearly naked and covered in blood and what looked like chicken feathers. I’d like to think that the blood was chicken blood, and that my brother isn’t eating people. We need to find out exactly what is going on, and we need to do it fast!”

“Elias was in your dreams?” Brad asked, one eyebrow arched.

Matt blushed. “You were right. I was blind. There’s… something more there. I hope that’s ok with you?” Matt said, looking pleadingly at Brad.

“Oh, wow. I figured that he liked you. I didn’t expect you’d like him back. Yeah, it’s fine with me. No big deal. Terrie might have a different take on it though.”

“I will be having that conversation with her today.” Matt said with a worried expression. “Anyway, I did find out a lot from Eli last night. The curse is real. Eli’s magic is real. That’s where you guys should focus your research, in my opinion. Try and find out as much as you can about the witches. Elias will do research at his house, but the town records and newspapers may say things about the witches that they wouldn’t say about themselves. Knowing both sides is always best.”

Devon looked totally confused. “You’re gay? And you like his ex?” Devon pointed at Brad when he said “his.”

“I am not gay, but I’m not straight. I’m dating Terrie Hanson, at least for now, but I do have strong feelings for Elias Carrier. Call me bi, call me pan, call me whatever you like. I hate labels. I like who I like. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for everyone.”

Nate stood and clapped. “Here, here! Great speech! Everyone should feel that way. I mean labels do sometimes make people comfortable, but if you don’t want a label, society shouldn’t force one on you.”

Matt cleared his throat. “Thanks, but right now the labels that matter are werewolf and witch. There’s a lot more that I need to share with you guys, but there’s also people missing that need to be told. It would be easier to tell everyone at once. For now, you guys research the witches. In particular the coven that lived here. If you happen to find anyone named MaryAnne Carrier, find everything that’s available. Eli’s ancestors were a big part of this. I’ll go have a talk with Terrie about everything. Obviously, I’ll have to talk to her about the Eli stuff, but also, the monster stuff. We need to find out if her father has found anything. I hope she’ll still help us after we talk. Hell, I hope she’ll still date me!”

Nate gave Matt a sympathetic look. “Figure out what you want,” he tapped Matt on the chest with one finger, “before you let other people’s decisions affect what you do.”

“I want them both, but I know that’s unrealistic.” Matt blushed.

“I wouldn’t agree to that, but hey, you never know!” Nate huffed out a laugh.

“I’ll cross all my fingers and toes.” Matt laughed. “Ok, I’m gonna take off. You guys get to the research, and I’ll try not to get murdered by my girlfriend.” He looked at Devon. “Sky was going to meet up with David. If you hear anything, let me know. I’ll do the same if I hear from David. Later we all have to meet up somewhere and share all of our various stories.”

“Definitely, dude. Call us if you wanna bring you girlfriend back here or your boyfriend or both or your brother or whatever!” Devon giggled hysterically.

“On that note, I’m outta here!” Matt said and turned and started toward the door.

“Bye, Matt!” Devon yelled.

Matt turned just before he was out the door. “Later, guys. Good luck with the research!”

————————————————————————————————————

David was nervous and pacing in the kitchen when he heard the soft knock on the door. He raced over and yanked the door open. “Sky! David wrapped his arms around Skylar. “I’m so happy to see you! What happened last night?”

Sky hugged David tight, and then he stepped back. He looked at David with a worried expression. “You don’t remember anything?”

“It’s just like the two nights before. I only remember up until a certain point and then nothing. The last thing that I remember, I was with you. That’s why I was so worried and texted you.”

“You were with me. I know what happened. I know why you are losing time. Our worst-case scenario is true, David, you’re a werewolf!”

David slumped into a chair and took a long drink of water. “I kinda knew. We both did. I guess there’s no denying it now.”

Sky huffed out a laugh. “No. You can’t deny it now. Not only did I witness the transformation, but you also bit me!”

“I bit you? I thought you said you were ok. Sky, I’m so sorry! Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine. At first, I thought you were being a little too aggressive. You barely drew blood. We were kissing, and you bit my lip. I pushed you backward, and I was going to scold you for being too rough, but then I saw you transform. It was scary as hell!”

“I can never apologize enough. I don’t think Hallmark has a “I’m sorry I turned into a werewolf and bit my boyfriend” card. Now I guess I have to worry even more that I may have killed people.”

Sky sighed. “Even after seeing you change; I just don’t think that you would kill anyone no matter what form you were in. Have you checked out the news yet today? We know about the deaths from the other two nights, we should find out if there’s anything else today.”

The two boys walked into the family room and turned on the tv. They sat on the couch, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. They sat like that for a few minutes, not speaking, just watching the local news reports. David nervously drummed his fingers on his thigh and kept casting furtive glances at Skylar. Sky smiled and turned toward David then clasped David’s hand within his own. “It’s ok. I’m fine. We’re fine. I know you didn’t mean me any harm.”

“I could have hurt you, though. I could have killed you.”

“I honestly don’t think you would have. You said that your brother found you this time. Was there anything else different? Did Matt notice anything that you didn’t?”

He found me outside in the bushes underneath my bedroom window, so that was different. He also said that Brad took blurry photos of a blue-eyed werewolf. I guess people are starting to piece things together. I’m really scared, Sky. The only relatively positive thing that I’m holding onto right now is that this time, even though I was covered in blood again, there were lots of feathers around. Matt and I think they were chicken feathers. We hope that the blood was also from chickens.”

“See! It’s still possible that I’m right. Maybe all three nights all you did was raid farms and kill animals.”

“I guess so. We can hope. Hey, wait a minute. Let’s listen to this. The sheriff is on tv.”

The boys listened to Sheriff Hanson talk to the local news. He was standing in front of the park which was almost completely roped off with yellow crime scene tape now. The sheriff looked into the camera and began to speak. “Citizens of Roxbury Falls, it is with a heavy heart that I am speaking to you today. For the third night in a row there has been a vicious animal attack in the park. A third teenager is dead. For now, we are not releasing any names. We are giving the families time to grieve. I am extending the 8pm curfew indefinitely. We believe that there is a rogue bear coming into the park at night to hunt. We ask that you do not go and hunt this animal yourselves. We are searching for the bear, and we are confident that it will be found and destroyed very soon. If you spot a bear, or anything else suspicious, please report it to the sheriff’s office immediately. Thank you for your time.” The sheriff turned, ducked under the crime scene tape, and walked into the park.

“A third teenager is dead! There was an attack last night. What if it was me, Sky? What if it really was me?”

“You said that Matt has more information, and Brad has photographs, why don’t we chill here and try not to think about it until we hear from them. My brother is with Brad at the library, so I’m guessing that he’s in on the research. There’s more than just the two of us to figure this out, David. We’ll help you get through this.”

“Matt has been talking to some kid named Elias about this, too. I guess his family is also tied in with the story of the curse. A week ago, I would have laughed at the idea of a witch, but, hell, now I’m a werewolf. Witches probably exist, too.”

Sky pulled David in close and gave him a quick, tender kiss. “Let’s ‘Netflix and chill’ until they text us.”

David smiled for the first time since the new report. “That is a fantastic idea.” David slid his arm around Sky’s waist and snuggled in close to his boyfriend.

Sky leaned down and softly kissed the top of David’s head. “We will figure this out, babe. I promise.”

The Haunting of Tommy Mills

“Tommy, who were you talking to?”

“My new friend Lucas. He said he lives here.” 

“Where is he?”

“He’s right next to you. Geez, mom.”

“Tommy, no one’s there. Stop fooling around and help me bring these boxes in the house.”

“Now he left. I think he’s mad.”

When Tommy walks into his new bedroom, he sees Lucas sitting on his bed, and says, “I thought you were gone for good.”

 Lucas stretches out on the bed. “Nope. You’re stuck with me. This is my room, but I guess I can share.”

“Mom can’t see you. “

Lucas laughs. “Good catch.”

“So, you lived here before? What happened to your family?” asked Tommy.

“Dad deserted us when I was real young. He used to hit mom and she cried a lot. We were both happy when he left.”

Tommy opened a box full of clothes and began putting things away.

“Where’s your mom?” asked Tommy.

“We were in a car accident,” said Lucas. “A drunk ran a red light and t-boned us. Mom died immediately and I was taken to the hospital. I died in the emergency room. Now I can’t find mom, so I came back here.”

Tears welled up in Tommy’s dark brown eyes.

“Please, don’t be sad Tommy,” Lucas said as he began to phase in and out then disappeared.

“Lucas, where did you go? Please come back.”

Lucas reappeared then explained, “Sorry about that. Sadness drains my energy field.”

“You can bet as soon as my energy recharges I’ll be back,” Lucas said. 

Tommy asked, “Can you please tell me what’s going on with you?” There was a silence that seemed to go on for what seemed like forever, and then can the loudest boom and everything shook violently.

Tommy’s mom yelled from the other room, “Tommy! What was that? Are you ok?”

“I’m ok, mom! I’ll be right there!” Tommy looked at Lucas. “What was that?” 

“He’s coming! Get out! He can’t find you in my room!” Lucas looked scared and used his energy to nudge Tommy towards the door.

In the hall, Lucas held onto the doorknob, while Tommy cringed at the loud, angry voice booming from inside his bedroom.

“Lucas! I can smell him. If you’ve shown yourself again, I’m going to kick your friendly Casper ass!”

“W-W-Who’s that?” asked Tommy, backing down the hallway away from the bedroom door. 

“Someone you never want to meet,” cautioned Lucas.

Tommy suddenly backed into a body and he thought that thing, that monster, whatever it was had escaped the room.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Two hands grabbed Tommy’s shoulders.

“Tommy! What was that loud noise? What are you doing?”

Tommy was never so happy to see his mom. He grabbed her and hugged her tight.

“Oh, my God, Mom!  You literally scared the sh__” he caught himself, “livin’ daylights out of me!”

Tommy looked as white as a sheet as he continued to shake with fright.

“You look like you have seen a ghost, son.”

“Duh, Mom. That’s what I have been trying to tell you.”

“Stop being silly. There are no such things as ghosts.”

Suddenly, all of the walls started shaking pictures flew off walls and the lights flickered! “Mom, see that it’s the mean one he’s messing with us now!”

 Mom said, “That’s utter nonsense. It’s either a jet flying over or an earthquake. “Go to your room and stay there. You will scare your brother.”

Tommy made a move as if to re-enter his bedroom. A cold force stopped him. “No, Tommy, you can’t! Please don’t go in there!” Lucas wailed. 

Tommy looked from the ghost back to his mom. Tears of anguish stung his eyes, “Mom, I’m sorry,” and he rushed past her and down the hall.

Sobbing loudly, Tommy bolted wildly out of the house, down the street, and into a public park. He slowed and threw himself on the grass near a picnic table. 

As he used his tee shirt to wipe his eyes, he felt guilty about leaving his mom alone.

“You run pretty fast, Tommy.”

“Lucas? You followed me? That thing in my room has got to go. Mom and I can’t live there like that,” said Tommy.

Tommy sniffed and wiped his nose on the arm of his tee shirt.

“What is that thing?”

“I don’t have all the answers,” said Lucas. “I haven’t been dead long enough.”

“I wish there was some kind of instruction manual for dead kids,” said Lucas. “Maybe we could find something at the library.”

“The LIBRARY?” yelled Tommy. “We can use my iPhone.”

“Your what-phone?” questioned Lucas.

“Hey! Just exactly how long have you been dead?”

“I really have no idea. I can’t feel time pass at all. I remember playing Galaga at the arcade next to Blockbuster video store yesterday.” Lucas answered.

“The arcade? Blockbuster? They have been closed for years. l can play games and watch movies on my iPhone.” Tommy explained.

Then all of a sudden, the phone rang. It was Mrs. Winslow his next-door neighbor. “Tommy you need to hurry home. Something has happened. Your mother said to call you and tell you to rush right home.”

“I’m on my way. I’ll be there soon as I can.” Tommy hung up phone and ran home quickly.

Tommy slowed as he got home. His mom and brother were out front with a cop. His mom waved him over. “Why didn’t you say there was someone in the house? I didn’t see him, but he pushed your brother!” 

Tommy’s younger brother, Brandon, scowled right at Lucas. “Who’s he, Tommy?”

“I’m Lucas. I met Tommy at the park. Right, Tommy?”

 “Uh, yeah. Right. We met at the park.”

 “Hello, Lucas. I’m Tommy’s mom.”

 Tommy looked from his mom to Lucas. “Mom, you can see Lucas?”

 “Of course, dear. Really, I don’t know what’s gotten into you!”

Lucas grinned.

“0kay,” said the cop. “Why are you pretending there’s some invisible kid there?”

“Wait, you can’t see him?” asked Mrs. Mills.

“See who?” asked the cop.

“Him!” she said, pointing at Lucas. “That boy! Right there!”

“Look lady, do you want to report a crime?”

“Ma’am tell him no,” said Lucas.

“Errrr, I’m sorry, Officer. There’s been some sort of mixup,” said Mrs. Mills.

The cop mumbled something under his breath and returned to his car.

“What’s going on?” asked Tommy’s mom.

“No human can see me unless I let them,” explained Lucas.

Tommy, Brandon and their mom walked back into their house. The air in the living room became as cold as ice. A loud crash came from inside Tommy’s bedroom.

“It must be that thing again!” Tommy yelled. “We really need to find out what that thing is, Lucas.”

As Tommy slowly moved to his bedroom door he was sweating profusely and couldn’t calm his breathing. “Are you coming Lucas?”

“No. I can’t, Tommy, be careful!” Lucas said.

Tommy opened his door and stepped inside. His stuff was floating around the room and bright lights shined out of the closet.

Before he could take another step, Tommy felt a cold breeze and Lucas was there in front of him. “I can’t let you face him, Tommy. He’s my problem.” 

“Who…” Tommy started to speak but was cut short by all of his stuff crashing to the floor.

“There you are, boy. Daddy is home.”

Tommy was scared but he just had to know who or what was behind this. He finally got his nerve up enough to speak.

“WHO ARE YOU?” Tommy shouted in his most demanding voice. 

A disembodied voice shouted back.

“SILENCE YOU LITTLE HUMAN TWERP OR YOU’LL JOIN MY SON IN DEAD LAND!”

“Dead Land?” Thought Tommy. 

Now it began to make sense. Lucas’ dad treated him bad in life, and now he must have died and is hunting him down in the afterlife. Tommy had to help his new friend… somehow… no matter what it took.

Tommy yelled, “SHUT UP YOU BIG BULLY!”

The demon inside of Lucas’ dad had completely taken control of him in the afterlife. Its eyes were now glowing bright red. Lucas floated in front of Tommy to protect him. 

“Ah, there you are Lucas boy! Looks like you found a new boyfriend. You filthy freak!” 

Suddenly, with a sudden upward motion Tommy was lifted off his feet with force so strong he blacked out. Lucas screamed at the demon that his dad turned into, “Stop! You want me, not Tommy. Please! He’s just my friend and I don’t want nothing to happen to him. Please, oh no!”

Brandon raced into the room and knelt by his brother. He shook Tommy, trying to wake him. Lucas growled, blasting a wave of energy at the ghost of his father. 

“Just as much of a sissy now as when you were alive. How many of your little boyfriends am I gonna have to kill, boy?”

As Brandon was shaking Tommy, trying to get him to respond, his eyes focused on an object hanging on the wall. It was a large religious cross. He remembered seeing a movie where a cross was used against evil.

Brandon jumped up and grabbed the cross from the wall.

He raised it high above his head until he could reach no higher. Brandon yelled at the top of his lungs.

“I COMMAND YOU IN THE NAME OF CHRIST… LEAVE THIS HOUSE AND LEAVE US ALONE!”

The demon inside Lucas’ dad turned into mist and flowed out through the air duct. His ghostly shell was left laying on carpet, unconscious. The cross and incantation also made the ghost of Lucas light up like a Christmas tree. He too collapsed onto the floor. 

Brandon yelled for his mom. “Mom! Hurry!”

Slowly, mom walks into the room with an evil laugh, “Hahahaha! You think you can get rid of me that easily little boy?” With a gust of air, the cross was chucked out the window. “Awe, what’s a matter, son? Mommy is gone for a while!”

Lucas’ energy levels fluctuated then stabilized just in time to hear what the boys’ mom said. “Brandon, help Tommy get up. I have to get you guys out of here quick. We’re in double trouble now that the demon and my dad have separated!” 

The ghost of Lucas’ father began to move.

Brandon helped Tommy to a standing position and as Tommy’s senses started returning, he saw his mom standing there.

Without knowing, Tommy instinctively ran to his mother’s waiting and protecting arms.

Brandon made a grab, but Tommy slipped through his fingers.

Simultaneously Lucas and Brandon yelled to Tommy.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

As Tommy reached his mom, the evil within her possessed body grabbed him and pulled him close, their bodies melting into one large evil entity.

Meanwhile, the ghost of Lucas’ dad awoke. He saw Lucas and said, “I’m so sorry for what I did and said to you son. The demon took over. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

Lucas’ dad lunged at the demon possessing Tommy and his mom. “Take me!”

The demon used his powers to take Lucas dad and send him away from the house to the netherworld! “Now, as for you, little boy, we have plans for you.”

Lucas stood in front of Brandon and said. “You will leave him alone! What if I take his place?”

 “No! Lucas, you can’t I won’t let you!” Brandon screamed.

The demon hesitated and almost split back into two. Lucas took the opportunity to fling it against the wall. A path to the front door stood clear. 

“Brandon, come on! We need to get outta here and come up with a plan!” 

With a final glance at the demon, Brandon followed.

Lucas ran out the front door and just as Brandon reached it, he noticed his Super Soaker Water Canon in the top of an unpacked box. He grabbed it without stopping and continued out the door.

“Lucas!” he yelled, “Look!” Brandon held up the water gun for Lucas to see.

“That’s only a toy,” said Lucas.

“Yeah, but what if we filled it with… Holy Water?” suggested Brandon.

“It could work,” said Lucas. 

They stood out in the middle of the street, looking one way, then the other.

“But where are we going to find Holy Water?”

Brandon thought for a minute then said, “We could order holy water on Amazon or go into that church across the street. They have it for baptisms.”

“Going to the Amazon is too far.” Lucas replied.

“Not that Amazon,” Brandon giggled. “Forgot this is all new to you.”

“Well we can’t just go into the church and get it,” Brandon said.

“I know. I can’t enter the church. I’m dead and it is a barrier to me,” Lucas said.

Then all the sudden a lady in white came floating down the road with beautiful flowing blond hair and emanating light all around her.

“Mom?”

Lucas’s voice trembled as he watched his mother float towards him. “Mom! I looked everywhere for you! Where were you?!” 

“I was stuck in an in between place. I tried to get to you, but I couldn’t. Your father freed me and said you needed help!” 

Brandon watched, mouth agape.

Lucas and his mom hugged, creating a bright, white halo around them. Brandon was frozen in awe at the miracle he witnessed.

“Mom, I want you to meet Brandon. He’s a human. His family is being possessed by an evil entity. We need to find Holy Water… quick.”

The mother spirit glanced around and saw the church nearby.

“Brandon,” she instructed, “You need to run inside that church and yell for help. If no one hears you, look for a stone structure that looks like a wishing well. That’s where you’ll find Holy Water.”

Brandon opened the heavy, oak church doors and stepped inside. He looked around but didn’t see a soul. He did however see a bird bath looking thing with water. “This must be it.” Brandon thought to himself. He hastily filled up his super soaker then ran back outside.

“Now that I have my super soaker filled with holy water, I’ll see what I can do.” Brandon thought to himself. Then out of nowhere a swarm of mayflies started descending towards him. Brandon started to run as fast as he could, but when he turned down the alley, a pack of wild dogs chased him to large fence.

Brandon backed against the fence at the end of the alley and raised his super-soaker. He had to try something, and it was the only weapon he had. He shot at the cloud of mayflies and each one that was hit by the holy water burst into flames! 

Now the dogs were closing in.

Brandon aimed carefully at the lead dog and squeezed the trigger. It was a direct hit and the dog howled as it burst into a small fireball and disappeared. 

Brandon smiled and quipped, “Yes!”

This was just like a video game and he was good… really good at games.

He looked down the barrel of his super-soaker and kept his eyes focused on the sights.

Each time he aimed and pulled the trigger, he uttered, “Pow!”

“Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!”

Every shot was a hit. Every hit destroyed its target. Finally, he stood alone, his heart beating hard.

Suddenly, the demon possessing Tommy and his mom appeared. 

Brandon yelled, “Get out of my mom and brother now!”

He pulled the trigger on the super soaker, but it was dry. The demon smirked.

“Lucas, help!” Brandon screamed as he too was taken into the demon.

As Lucas watched Brandon be taken in, he felt so defeated. After all he was just a simple little boy ghost. “What am I to do? I brought this on this family.” He thought. In an instant he had idea. “I will go sit outside the church and leap into the priest when he comes out. He can help me figure this out!”

The priest exited the church and walked down the steps. Lucas leapt forward. Just before he reached the priest, a blast of cold power pushed him aside. 

Lucas’s mother stood on the sidewalk. “You were always an impulsive teen, even when you were alive. There are other ways.”

The priest stopped suddenly as a cold shiver ran through his body. He looked around, but saw no one.

“Hello! Is someone there?”

He got no answer, so started on his way.

“WAIT!”

He stopped again and turned around. Slowly, out of thin air, a young boy started materializing.

“Sir, we need your help. Please. My human friends and their mom are all possessed by a terribly evil spirit.”

Suddenly Lucas’ mom’s spirit materialized next to Lucas and confirmed what he said.

“It’s got three humans and grows bigger and stronger with each passing minute.”

Another spirit appeared next to Lucas and his mom. It was his dad who had been freed of the demon. He hugged his family saying,

“Love you both. I’m sorry for the bad things I did in life. We must stop the demon from destroying another family. Can you help us priest?”

“I don’t know if I can,” said the priest. “but I can try to do my best and assess the situation. I will consult with God and see if he can help me out.”

 Meanwhile, the demon was trying to talk with Satan. The demon snarled, “This is not just my battle, it’s the ultimate evil vs good!”

The sidewalk cracked under the demon’s feet. Smoke and the odor of sulfur filled the air. The priest uttered a frightened squeak and fled back into the church.

A voice bellowed from the crack. “It is not your place to question me, demon. Collect the souls, especially the boy!”

The demon headed toward Lucas, but Lucas’ dad jumped in front of him. 

“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” yelled the dad spirit, as he made the form of a cross using his arms and held them up in front of the demon’s eyes. “I COMMAND YOU TO LEAVE!”

The action did nothing but annoy the demon.

“GET OUT OF MY FACE,” bellowed the demon. “Satan wants the boy’s soul and he shall have it.”

The demon swatted at the dad spirit, knocking him off his feet, then grabbed at Lucas. 

Lucas saw the evil claw-like hand coming at him and bolted for the church door.

Lucas’ mom and dad continued to fight the demon as its clawed hand grabbed Lucas’ head. The memory of his death rushed back to Lucas. He recalled his dad yelling at him in the arcade, running into the basement and falling down a shaft. The same shaft he saw in Tommy’s basement.

Lucas remembered he came face to face with Satan before. He was told that one day they had plans for him and that he was the chosen one to lead them to victory over the forces of good. But remembers that something was told to him by something else but he can’t focus on what.

Lucas felt himself being absorbed into the demon. His parents continued to fight but it did no good. Then the church doors flew open and the priest stood there holding the biggest balloon that Lucas had ever seen. The priest threw it at the demon’s face. Water sprayed everywhere.

The Holy Water spilled down over the demon and its skin began burning and smoking. It released its hold of Lucas’ soul and Lucas slowly returned to the Holy Spirit that he had been.

The Demon becomes transparent and the human bodies of Tommy, Brandon and Mrs. Mills are released.

The six of them stood there with the Priest looking on, thinking the demon had finally been defeated.

The ground suddenly rumbled, feeling much like an earthquake and the small crack that had opened previously got wider.

A netherworld voice trumpeted from the depths of hell.

“Spirits back to limbo where you belong!”

Huge vines grew out from the crack, wrapping around Lucas, his mom and dad slowly dragging them underground.

“Tommy, you will find our bodies in the shaft. Give us a proper burial so we can finally be at peace!”

“I will Lucas. I promise!”

As Tommy made his way back home, he thought about all that had happened he was still shocked to know ghost and demons existed he made a promise to himself right then and there that he would always help kids and families being haunted or possessed by demons. He headed for his basement.

As soon as they reached home, Tommy’s mom and brother collapsed on the couch and fell asleep. The ordeal inside the demon wore them out. Tommy was too restless and was determined to find the bodies. He went downstairs and located the opening to the shaft and peered inside.

It was pitch black inside, but Tommy could see that the shaft went down a short way, then cut its way back into a tunnel. A rickety wooden ladder was attached to the side of the shaft’s wall.

He climbed onto the ladder and carefully made his way down to the tunnel.

He peered into the tunnel.

“HELLO!”

‘Hello… Hello… Hello…’ only an echo answered.

Tommy pulled his iPhone from his pocket and turned on the flashlight. He pointed it into the tunnel but could see only a few feet ahead.

He cautiously entered the dark, damp space.

Tommy was glad to be on solid ground. He thought to himself since he almost slipped off the ladder a few times coming down, “I’ll bet that when Lucas’ parents came looking for him, they fell to their death climbing down that rickety old ladder.” He shined his phone’s flashlight on the floor and saw three skeletons. He carefully collected the bones in the three canvas bags he had brought with him.

Before he could start climbing back up, Tommy heard a loud booming voice, “You Can’t Have Them! A swift glowing red hand snatched the canvas bags out of his hands. They belong to us and now so do you! You will never be able to get out of this portal to Hell!

Something grabbed Tommy’s legs and pulled him deeper into the tunnel.

Tommy kicked at the claw that held him, but he couldn’t get free. In desperation, he yelled into his cell. “Text Brandon. Help! I’m in the tunnel! Found bones but the demon got me!”

The one bar he had on his phone disappeared so he tossed it behind him, hoping it would be found.

Brandon and his mom had been sleeping upstairs, but Brandon had found the urge to pee. As he stood at the toilet relieving himself,

“Ding!”

He pulled his phone from his pocket and clicked on messages, seeing what Tommy had just wrote.

He zipped up and ran back to his mom.

“MOM! WAKE UP!”

Brandon showed the text to his mother. Mrs. Mills jumped up and the two of them hurried to the basement.

“TOMMY? TOMMY?”

They found the uncovered shaft entrance but couldn’t see or hear anything. 

“Brandon, run upstairs and get flashlights from the kitchen.”

Brandon quickly got the flashlights and ran back into the basement. He and his mom were right under where the arcade was years ago. They shined their flashlights down into the dark shaft and yelled, 

“Tommy!”

“I’m going down.” Brandon said.

“Be careful honey!”

He was getting scared as he made his way deeper and deeper, it was so dark. He got to a spot that was so hot that he was sweating badly and was hearing screaming and very loud voices. “Boy, how dare you come down here. You can’t help your brother. He’s mine now. Replacing Lucas in my army! Roar!”

Brandon recognized the voice of the demon. The same demon who he had just recently escaped from. He stopped and picked up his brother’s iPhone. Further along, he found the three canvas bags. He wondered to himself, “If I bury the bones, will they be free to help me again?”

He grabbed the bags and quickly made his way back to the basement. 

“Mom, these are the bones of our three spirit friends. I think we need to bury them to lift this curse and get Tommy back.”

“I think you’re right, son. Take them to the church yard and hallow ground. Hurry!”

Brandon grabbed his folding Boy Scouts shovel and ran to the church. His mom had phoned ahead, and the Priest was waiting. He quickly led Brandon around back to the cemetery.

“Dig right there,” said the Priest, pointing. “Make it deep enough so we won’t ever have to disturb it.”

Back in the tunnel, the demon had Tommy pinned to the wall and was ready to consume his soul. Suddenly, a brilliant white light flooded the tunnel. The demon screeched then disappeared as three angelic beings appeared. It was Lucas with his mom and dad.

“Our souls have been freed.”

Tommy was then greeted by an angelic figure. The angel spoke, “You are the guardian of good here on earth. I am bestowing you with special abilities to help you in your journey of fighting evil demon spirits and protecting souls from evil. Do you accept?”

Tommy grinned. “Yes! I will gladly accept. Thank you! I am ready.”

Tommy looked at his mother. She nodded, knowingly.  He faced the three spirits. “As Guardian I can release you to Heaven.”

Lucas blurted, “I wanna stay with you!” As Lucas’ parents agreed they shimmered and were gone. Tommy took Lucas’ hand and Lucas became a live boy once more.

Epilogue

Tommy led Lucas into his bedroom, hand in hand. “I’m so happy that mom got all the paperwork sorted to let you live here. I even started cleaning out the spare room to make it into your bedroom.”

“Don’t you mean your bedroom? This is my bedroom.”

“Very funny. This is my bedroom.”

“It was mine first. I guess we’ll have to share it.” Lucas smirked and winked.

Tommy blushed a bright red. “I wish. Mom would never go for that, though.”

Lucas sighed. “Ok. Ok. Let’s go check out this new bedroom.”

Back down under the arcade, the tunnel began to glow with an orange light again. Heat and the smell of sulfur poured forth. A clawed hand appeared out of the darkness pulling its owner forward. The demon’s eyes flashed with Hellfire. “I’m not done with you yet, boy. I’m coming and Hell is coming with me.”

The End…. For Now.

The Witch

Finally, able to close my eyes tight,

I’d managed to survive to see daylight.

Last night was ruled by goblin and ghost.

The whole land was overtaken by an evil host.

Halloween used to be a time for fun,

Now, it’s a time to scream and run.

Many a fateful year ago,

A wicked witch put on a show.

At first, she wasn’t all that mean,

Then she was taunted by every teen.

She cast a spell over this town,

That begins on Halloween, at sundown.

Each teenager becomes a huge beast,

Hungering for flesh to make their feast.

Though the spell lasts but one night,

It’s enough to cause a fright.

The body count, last night, was small,

Just three more bodies killed in all.

As morning light turns into day,

We who survived begin to pray,

That next year we break this spell,

And send that witch back to hell.

The Hunter

The bat fluttered through the sky,

In a blink, gone from my eye.

A shadow broke away from the wall,

The vampire stood over six feet tall.

With looks and swagger, he stalked the night,

He used his charm, he did not fight.

Many women and some men,

Became victims in his den.

He used them for sex and for food,

Depending on his whim and his mood.

A hunter appeared one October night,

Looking to end the vampire blight.

The hunter lured him to a place,

Where he could see the vampire’s face.

He looked the vampire in the eye,

And told him that he would soon die.

The vampire could not charm this man,

So, he tried a different plan.

He tried to turn, he tried to run,

But his long-lived life was done.

A wooden stake thrown like a dart,

Hit the vampire right in the heart.

Another town safe at last,

The hunter’s fame growing fast.

The Last Prophet (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1

Grayson sat at the bar, nursing his drink. He stared down into his beer, letting his mind wander over the disaster of his life. Just this week, he found out his parents were getting divorced. His grades were in a steady decline, and now, just this morning, he walked in on his boyfriend cheating on him.

Maybe breaking up with Sebastian would help him study more and bring his grades up, he chuckled. There you go, Gray put a positive spin on it. The sound of the door opening in the nearly empty bar caught his attention. It brought his focus back to his present surroundings.

He glanced towards the door, and his jaw dropped. The man from his dreams stood framed in the doorway. Gray always had weird dreams, but for the last week or so, they were exceptionally weird. And a guy who looked exactly like this guy in the doorway was in every single one of them. Gray looked away before the guy caught him staring.

The man walked up and sat down right next to Gray. Gray finished his beer and tried to concentrate on the TV over the bar. He heard the man say, “Bartender, two beers. One for me and a refill for my new friend here.” Just the voice alone sent shivers down his spine. Gray turned, and the man was smiling at him.

“I thought it looked like you needed another one. You look a little stressed.” The man said.

“Thanks. Its been a long week. I’m Grayson… well, just Gray is fine.” Gray took a good look at the man beside him. Tall, over six feet, jet black hair, and deep dark chocolate brown eyes. The eyes held Gray’s gaze. For just a second Gray thought he saw bright crimson sparks at the center of the eyes, but then the sparks were gone.

“Nice to meet you, Gray. Different people have called me by different names, but you can call me Luke.” He smiled and extended his hand.

Gray shook his hand. “Very mysterious answer, Luke. Do you go to college here? You look familiar.”

“No. I just got to town today. I’ve traveled around a lot in my lifetime, but this is my first time here.” Luke said.

“What brings you to this boring, tiny town? Not much here but the college and this bar.” Gray laughed.

“I guess you could call it a family drama. I am looking for my Father. No one has heard from Him in quite a while.” Luke said.

“I hope you find him, and everything is ok. I know how rough families can be. I just found out that my parents are getting divorced.” Gray rolled his eyes.

“Thanks. The sooner I find him, the better it will be for everyone.” Luke said and then leaned in close to Gray and placed his hand on his knee. “So, do you have a boyfriend?”

Gray smiled a crooked half-smile. His eyes flicked down to Luke’s hand and then right back up to his eyes. “What makes you think it would be a boyfriend and not a girlfriend?”

Luke slid his hand halfway up Grayson’s leg as he leaned in even closer. “Because, ever since I walked in the door, you have looked at me like you’ve wanted to take a bite out of me.”

Luke smirked, then he added, “Do you have somewhere private we can continue this conversation?”

Gray knew he would probably regret it, but he said, “I should say no, but yeah. Follow me.” He led Luke out of the bar and two blocks over to his small apartment, just off the college campus.

The barely got in the apartment and closed the door, and Gray was kicking off his shoes and grabbing for Luke’s shirt. After removing the shirt, he pushed him into the small bedroom and down onto the bed. Luke was taller and had a more muscled body than Gray, but Gray was eager and determined to work off some of his built-up stress from the last week.

He crawled up Luke’s body, planting kisses along his chest and neck. He covered the other man’s mouth with his own, and then he felt Luke’s hands in between them. Luke gently pushed Gray up to a sitting position and looked deep into his eyes. “Gray, slow down a minute. We need to talk.”

Gray tried to push Luke back down. “Talk later. There are other things I’d rather do right now.” He leaned in and nipped at Luke’s ear with his teeth.

Luke pushed back again. “You’re not making it easy to stop.” He nearly growled. “But we have to talk. It’s important.”

Gray looked a little hurt. “What’s wrong? Don’t you want this? Don’t you want me?”

Luke took his face between his two strong hands. “Baby, I want you more than I’ve wanted anyone in over a millennium, but that’s why we have to talk now. Before we go any further. I want you to know what you’re getting yourself into. There’s a lot we have to talk about.”

Gray looked completely confused. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. You aren’t making any sense.”

Luke grabbed Gray’s hips and flipped him over on his back as easy as flipping over a piece of paper, then he sat upon the edge of the bed. Gray sat up and leaned back against the wall, waiting for Luke to speak.

Luke sighed and began. “Remember, I said I have gone by many names?” Gray nodded, a curious look on his face. “The names you humans most commonly call me are Devil, Satan, or Fallen One. The name my Father gave me upon my creation was Lucifer.”

Gray laughed out loud. “Come on. Did you interrupt the hottest sex of my life to tell jokes? I thought you had something serious to say.”

Luke rolled his eyes and stretched out his right arm, then he snapped his fingers and opened his hand. A small ball of fire appeared, hovering over his palm. “Is this a joke? May I continue?”

Gray’s eyes widened in shock and fear, he scooted back against the wall. He started to get up, but Luke stopped him. “Please stay. I would never hurt you. What I have to tell you is vitally important.”

Gray relaxed back against the wall again, mumbling to himself. “I can’t believe I just made out with Satan.”

Luke chuckled. “Whatever!” Then he continued. “My Father, God, has not been seen or heard from since the time of Creation. I tried to keep order the way I knew he would have wanted, but my brothers disagreed with my decisions. It was not God who cast me out of Heaven. It was my brother, Gabriel. Once he got Raphael and Michael on his side, the others all fell in line. The few lesser angels that tried to help me were cast out with me.”

“Wait. Wait. Wait. So, you’re saying that they cast you out of Heaven because of sibling rivalry, not because you are pure evil and tried to overthrow God?” Gray asked, mouth agape.

“Yes. My Father had no part in my banishment. I tried to honor Him the best way I knew. Gabriel is power-hungry. Always was and still is. It is Gabriel who has spread the lies and propaganda about me to you humans.” Luke said.

Grayson sat there, shaking his head. “I’m trying to soak this all in. Keep going.”

“I was cast out along with a handful of loyal lesser angels. We couldn’t stay on Earth, so we were forced into the Inferno dimension.” Luke looked pointedly at Gray. “Though a substantial portion of the Inferno is indeed a fiery prison for evil souls, I have fashioned a Paradise separate from the Fire Pits. Not all the souls barred from Heaven’s Gate deserve torture. The Inferno accepts any who wish to enter. Once there, we judge your soul and process you into either Paradise, the Fire Pits, or Limbo.”

Gray looked lost deep in thought. “That sounds fair, to be honest.”

“Thank you for your approval, kind sir.” Lucifer scoffed.

Gray smiled shyly.

“There is so much more I need to tell you, but we are pressed for time. Gabriel’s thirst for power reached a new level three days ago. He sent a force of angels into the Inferno, where they united with a force of traitorous demons. Their combined army is marching against my loyalists at the Fire Pits. Gabriel wants to set all the damned souls loose upon the Earth. He wants the humans destroyed in such a way that he can blame me. Then he will swoop in as a savior. He will destroy the damned souls, and he will have won Heaven, Earth, and the Inferno.”

Gray was shocked. He didn’t even know what to say or how to respond. “Luke, why are you even telling me this? Angels and demons are real. God is missing in action. The Archangel Gabriel is a dick who wants to take over the world, and the Devil himself is half-naked in my bed. Why me? Why are you here? You should be out leading your army and saving the world.”

Luke stared at Gray with a look of fierce determination. “My army can hold the Pits without me. At least I hope so. But here’s the thing. The only way we stop Gabriel now is with my Father’s help, and you are going to help me find him.”

If anything, Gray looked even more shocked. “How am I going to find God if you can’t?”

Luke grinned at him. “Because you are the last Prophet of God.”

Gray laughed despite everything. “What are you talking about? My life is a disaster. How am I a Prophet?”

Luke cocked his head to one side. “Have you ever had dreams that came true? Or you were somewhere, and something happened, and you felt like you’d seen it before even though you knew you’d never been there?”

Gray thought for a minute. “Now that you say it like that, yes. Those things happen often. And you have been in every one of my dreams for the last week.”

Luke smiled. “You have been touched by God. You have a connection to Him. You will help me find Him. We just have to make sure that Gabriel or his goons don’t find you first, but based on your dreams, it sounds like I was meant to find you, and you are meant to help me.”

Gray nearly screamed. “What?! Does Gabriel know about me? Are they coming after me? What should I do?”

“We leave this town first thing in the morning,” Luke said.

“I suppose I don’t have a choice, do I?” Gray asked.

“Gray, I need your help. God has chosen you. If you learn to focus, I believe you can lead me to Him. You can help me save all of humanity.” Luke said.

“And when I brought you back to my apartment, all I wanted was to get laid.” Gray laughed.

Luke joined in the laughter. “Let’s get some sleep. We should start early tomorrow. We have more to talk about as we travel.” Lucifer lay back on the bed and pulled Gray close to his side. “Is this ok?”

Gray cuddled in close. “It’s probably a huge mistake, I mean you are the Devil after all, but yeah, I’m ok with it. Wait, are you even gay? Was all this a big plan to get me to help you?”

Luke heaved a big sigh. “There is no label to describe me. Over the centuries, I have slept with countless men and countless women. There have been few, however, that I have cared for. A kind and loving soul attracts me, not sex. Man, woman, angel, demon… these things do not matter if the soul inside is pure. Do you understand?”

“I think I do. That was actually a really great answer.” Grayson said as he drifted off to sleep wrapped in Lucifer’s arms.

The Clown

A long time ago on Halloween night,

A villain decided to blot out the light.

Many fell with a slash of his knife,

Starting with a farmer and his young wife.

Next was a stranger, just walking by,

Not knowing that this was his night to die.

The villain then wandered into the town,

Dressed like a smiling, happy clown.

Trick or treaters ran by him, like a live flood,

Never noticing that he was covered in blood.

The clown’s death toll now stood at eight,

He continued to hide, continued to wait.

The police were now aware of this clown,

The deputies searched all over town.

The finally found him, perched on his twelfth kill,

They drew guns and shot him, firing at will.

Dozens of bullets hit their marks,

The clown just smiled his eyes like twin sparks.

Riddled with bullets, yet still standing strong,

The deputies now knew that something was wrong.

The clown charged at them, wielding his knife,

Every deputy fell, empty of life.

The clown was covered in blood, head to toe,

Never have we seen such a villainous foe.

He turned to go up the next street,

But then there came the thundering of feet.

A mob turned the corner and stared at the clown,

He slashed with his knife, he would not back down.

According to legend, I tell you this day,

The mob was all children, not one hair was grey.

The clown’s grin widened, as he faced them down,

The children never wavered as they charged the clown.

The children were armed as if going to war,

The clown’s laugh was gleeful as he started his chore.

He slashed, and he killed as the children came near,

Never once showing the least bit of fear.

The children continued to stab at their foe,

The clown started to weaken, his arms moving slow.

Though he was weaker, the clown still wielded his knife,

Each swing of his arm ended a life.

The situation began to look quite dire,

Until one small boy lit the clown on fire.

The fire burned him right down to his core,

With a bright flash of light, the clown was no more.

They lifted the boy and began to cheer,

Shouting his name for all to hear.

The boy never sought to accomplish this feat,

He only wanted some candy to eat.

When he left his house all he’d want to do,

Was to go trick or treating with a friend or two.

The Spider’s Web

The spider’s web stuck to my skin,

But the fear, I would not let in.

A hundred eyes stared at me,

I tried to run but could not flee.

The web held me, stuck in place,

As the spider crawled towards my face.

I’ve never seen a spider so large,

Nearly as big as a fishing barge.

It’s venomous fangs, three feet long,

Eight hairy legs muscled and strong.

Then a noise caused me to shake,

My alarm buzzed, and I did wake.

It was a dream, I’m safe in my bed,

Halloween thoughts drifting through my head.