FROM THE AUTHOR: Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Life got complicated for most of January, but things have settled down. Unfortunately, still couldn’t come up with a good short story at this time, so I’m giving you all another glimpse into my current novel “The Door” which will be Nathan’s first appearance in my Para-Earth Series, before he gets his own novel later this year.
In this scene, Julie Cloudfoot (a shamaness) is being brought to the ruins of a burnt out building by her spirit guide, a huge white wolf. Here she will make a discovery of great importance, as well as encounter a bit of Nathan, but unknown to either another figure is watching the proceedings with great interest…
As her ride began to slow down, Julie’s nose detected a burnt smell in the air. There was nothing on fire as far as she could see, which meant that this odor was from a previous fire which had long gone out. This was just the lingering tang of a conflagration that had taken place somewhere in the vicinity.
Then she remembered there had been an old building that had housed a large generator to power the mansion during blackouts. Veronica’s coworkers had run cables from the old machinery in a final attempt to electrocute the creature from the bridge. Unfortunately, the aged equipment could not take the strain and exploded in a huge fireball that lit up the night.
“So we have to be close to what’s left of the generator house,” she murmured, peering into the darkness. Soon her sharp eyes could make out the form of a blackened stone structure between the trees. With silent determination her mount slowly made his way towards the building and stopped.
She could clearly see that most of the stone building remained intact. However, its roof was completely gone, along with the doors and windows which filled her with dread. It was like gazing at a blackened skull of some long dead giant, whose empty eyeholes seemed to be staring at her.
“Why are we here?” she asked her mount.
White Wolf responded by nudging her leg with his cold wet nose.
“You want me to get down and go inside?” she asked incredulously.
The animal gave her what could only be described as a ‘pointed’ look.
With a long suffering sigh, Julie slid down and made her way towards the burned out structure, muttering to herself as she went. “Bet Uncle Jason never had to put up with a pushy spirit guide when he was the family shaman. Dragging me away from my girlfriend at all hours…”
The sound of moving rubble from inside the ruined building cut off the rest of her grumbling. Pausing in mid-step she listened closely. For a moment there was complete silence. Then her ears caught a faint crunch of footsteps from inside.
“Who’s there?” she demanded.
Immediately the noise ceased.
Squaring her shoulders she called again. “I know someone’s in there. It’s safe to come out. I’m not going to hurt you.”
For a moment nothing seemed to happen. Then just for a brief instant she spotted what looked like a mouse. It seemed to stand up and study her for a moment.
She studied it in turn and then blinked. Her eyes must be playing tricks on her. For some reason the little guy’s entire body looked like it had been painted a deep red.
Shaking her head, she tried to focus on him again only to discover the animal had disappeared.
‘Must’ve gone back inside,’ she thought and started drawing closer to the open doorway. Carefully, she moved towards the opening and paused to peer inside. In spite of the fact that there was no roof, her eyes still needed to adjust to the interior’s gloom. Broken machinery and rubble covered most of the floor. She’d need to watch her step.
Overhead the clouds that had been threatening rain all day began to thicken, as the sound of thunder rumbled in the distance.
“Great, just perfect,” she muttered to herself. “First I get dragged out to this charming building, and then a storm decides to join the party. What’s next? Frankenstein’s Monster? Dracula? Or maybe a bunch of zombies?”
At that moment the room lit up as a flash of lightning crackled across the sky, which allowed her sharp eyes to spot the mouse she’d seen earlier in the center of the room. It had several companions which had gathered around a strange looking object amidst the debris that covered the floor.
Pulling out her cell phone she switched it over to camera mode and turned on the flash function. After making sure it was recording and not just taking photos, she hit the green button. Immediately the flash turned on as the cell phone began videotaping everything in its sights.
With her improvised flashlight, Julie slowly made her way towards the spot where the mice were gathered. She could see clearly now that indeed the mice were a strange shade of crimson that seemed to glisten in the light. The sight of such strange rodents sent a shiver down her spine.
Even more unnerving was the fact that they did not seem the least bit troubled by her presence. Only when she got really close did they take off, disappearing into the rubble or through a hole in one of the damaged walls. Yet her eyes remained fixed on the object they had been hovering around.
Something about it seemed oddly familiar to her. Drawing closer she lit was about the size of a fist and had what looked like four tubes, of varying length sticking out of it. The ends of each tube looked torn, meaning it had been part of something else. But it was hard to say, since entire object had been exposed to the heat of the blast and had been thoroughly blackened.
Puzzled, she grabbed a charred piece of wood and used it to turn the strange item over which forced a gasp from her lips. The underside of the thing had somehow escaped the conflagration. It was covered in blood that had long since dried, but the pattern was unusual to say the least. At first she it made her think of a flower, but one with only five petals and a very large center. Then she got a good look at the lengths of the ‘petals’ and realized what she was looking at was a hand print. Someone had been holding this thing when the explosion had occurred.
With growing alarm she forced herself to take a closer look at the unburned section of the object and let out a gasp of horror as recognition finally set in. Backing away slowly she made her way out of the building. Turning the camera function of her phone off so she began dialing the authorities, totally oblivious of the fact that one of the nearby shadows began to slowly recede into the brush.
* * * * *
Back among the trees, Z quietly straightened up and smiled grimly. While spying on Cassandra and her friend in Santa Cruz he’d learned that his ally could act as a listening device. The creature could send out appendages to incredible lengths which allowed him to hear what the girls had been saying from literally hundreds of yards away.
Naturally, he’d expected the same thing to happen when his companion sent out its feeler tonight. He certainly hadn’t expected to be able to see as well as hear what the shaman girl was up to.
While this delighted him to no end, he had only been able to see what was happening on the outside of the generator house. His accomplice had not been able to extend itself into the building. To do so would have meant getting close to the wolf who might have detected its presence.
However, they had learned enough. The muscular girl had found something inside the building. Exactly what it was, he did not know. However, he had ways of finding out. With that he faded into the darkness and vanished from sight.
Had he waited a few moments more, he might’ve noticed the swarm of red mice which passed through the spot he’d just vacated.
* * * * *
Near the section of stream, a short distance from Jason’s old cottage, the blonde-haired visitor stood. He was wearing a long black jacket which reached all the way to the ground, rendering him almost invisible in the dark. Oddly, of the sleeves of his garment hung limply at his side as if empty. His eyes were closed and his brow furrowed as if in deep concentration.
Soon, a swarm of tiny dark figures began to swim across the stream towards him. They appeared to be red mice. As soon as they reached the shore, the rodents made straight for the hem of his long coat which they proceeded to slip under, vanishing from sight.
As the last mouse followed its kin, the jacket sleeve that had been hanging limply began to fill out. Soon long fingers followed by a hand slid out from the cuff of the sleeve. Only then did the figure open his eyes and murmur, “So she’s the new shaman.”
Silently, the man began pacing in a circle for several minutes straight as he tried to take it all in. When the news of Jason’s passing had finally reached him over in Europe, he hadn’t expected any of this. The bridge gone, its prisoner dead, it was all so much to take in. The family obligation that had been handed down to his friend should be over. Yet he had been summoned here, why?
He continued to pace for several more minutes. In the distance the sound of a police car’s siren could be heard. Pausing in mid-step he turned to stare at the broken pillars that had once supported the stone bridge. The image of the burnt heart with its untouched underside which his mice-self had discovered loomed large in his mind. “It’s not really over and Julie’s going to be caught up in it,” he murmured in a troubled voice.
Just then a long lonely howl rang out in the distance and he nodded. He knew what was expected of him, but he had no idea of how to go about it.