Chapter 23: A Sort Of Showdown
I don’t remember much about the race home, only the thoughts rushing through my head. If I hadn’t been sitting in a driver’s seat, I would have kicked myself in the ass for being so stupid. Summer had been leading me around blind, pretending to have lost her memory, feeding me just enough to lead me to her victims. But why? If she wanted to kill somebody, why not just do it? Why the ruse? Why string me along for the ride? Was her purpose to drive me mad? What had I ever done to her? The answer to that was nothing. This wasn’t Summer. This was an illusion. Summer was an innocent face, a mask for something darker, vengeful. It didn’t take much to figure out who was wearing the mask.
I came screeching into the driveway and jumped out of the car. I needed my tools. This had gone beyond a simple case of a ghost. This was a malevolent specter, a possession of someone else’s spiritual form. I was going to have to perform an exorcism of sorts.
I slammed the front door behind me and raced to my bedroom. I flung open the closet door and reached up onto the top shelf. There hidden behind an old hat box, it sat. My mojo bag. A black satchel in which I kept the necessary tools for the most difficult of situations. I opened the drawstring and peered inside. Yes, everything was there. I tied the bag around my belt loop and dashed back out into the hall.
What else was I going to need? My mind raced trying to think. Maybe I better warn Deacon trouble was coming. Into the living room I went, straight to the phone. I picked it up and listened for the tone. I automatically began dialing his number.
“Come on, come on,” I whispered, impatiently waiting for it to connect. It began to ring on the other end. “Pick up Deacon, pick up.”
After five rings, the answering machine kicked in. “Shit,” I growled and slammed the phone down in its cradle. Deacon could already be in trouble; I had to get over there fast.
I spun around to head for the door and stopped where I was. Someone was in the doorway. Her dress was white lace and her long blonde hair lay across her shoulders as if she had been brushing it for hours. She smiled, and for a moment, the mask held. But I wasn’t being fooled any longer. This wasn’t Summer Dennings.
“Hello Dexter,” I said.
Her smile grew wider and she clapped her hands in slow mock applause. “Well, well, well. It’s about time, Cole. I thought I was going to have to just whisper it in your ear there for a minute. It’s amazing just how stupid you can be.”
“Why the masquerade? Why pretend to be someone else?”
“Now, now, you know if I had shown up at your door as Dexter Dean, where would the fun have been in that? It has been entertaining watching you torture yourself so. Oh poor Lacey, oh woe is me..” The figure pretended to dot her eyes with a handkerchief.
“Where is Summer?”
“How should I know? Maybe heaven. Maybe hell. She was a suicide, you know.”
“You made her jump.”
“She made that choice herself. I was offering her immortality. All I needed was her flesh. To get inside her.”
“To possess her?”
“I needed a flesh and blood body. A way to get at you. What better way than such a pretty young form as this.” She spun around, her dress billowing out at her sides. “But when she wouldn’t let me have her, when she jumped, I just had to settle myself with this. It’s amazing what one can do as a spirit.”
Her shape began to change, and Summer ‘s form seemed to change into an old man, then into a child, and finally into a shape that haunted my every night. Lacey.
“No,” I trembled. Had Dexter mastered the spirit form so much he had played at being my Lacey, too? Lacey and Summer had never been in the same place at the same time. Could every spirit I’d dealt with these days been The Kaleidoscope Killer?
Finally the shape changed again, this time into a tall man, broad of shoulder, a hulking mass of muscle and sinew. “There, this is better. It may not be quite as I was, but it will do, considering the circumstances.”
The face of Dexter Dean leered at me from a bodybuilder’s frame and I put my hand on my mojo bag protectively. He noticed the movement.
“Oh, and what is that, hero? Magic fairy dust?”
I reached into my bag and pulled out a piece of chalk. I dropped to one knee and drew a circle around me. The spirit threw back his head and laughed.
“Oh, that’s rich. Do you really think a circle is going to protect you from me now? I have been practicing a lot of things since I’ve been dead.”
He picked up a chair that sat in front of my computer desk. He physically lifted it as if he had form and held it over his head. “A little hatred can go a long way when you are dead,” he cackled and threw it at me.
There was no way to dodge the chair. It came at me too fast. I threw up my arm to block it but the force was strong enough to knock me off my feet and out of the circle.
“I might not have a physical body anymore thanks to you, but I can still hurt you!” He walked over to the front door and picked up my coat rack. He turned it upside down and shook everything off of it. He stalked towards me, the rack held out like a spear in which to gut me with.
I rolled over and got to my feet. I reached in my mojo bag, but I knew there was nothing there that could hurt him now. He had somehow managed to cross the line between living and dead. He had no physical form, but he could command physical objects.
Wham! The coat rack smashed into the side of my head and the room spun around me.
“You killed me, Cole. Shot me dead in the back. Like a coward!”
Wham! The top of the rack jabbed me in the gut and all the air was pushed out of me. I coughed and clutched my stomach. I was trying to come to my feet.
“You killed all those people,” I sputtered.
Slowly I stood up, while Dexter pranced around me, bouncing on the balls of his feet like a boxer. He swung the coat rack at my legs. Crack! My knees buckled and I went down. He was too fast, moving like the flash from a camera.
I tried scurrying away and this just made him gloat over me more. “It’s different when you’re on the other end of the stick, isn’t it?” I braced myself for the coat rack to come slamming down on my back as I tried to crawl away. But he was content to watch me trying to escape.
Finally, I got to my feet and ran. “Where do you think you’re going?” he called after me. I limped down the hallway trying to get to my bedroom. I had my other gun in there; maybe I could get to it before he caught up with me.
I stumbled into the room and fumbled with my dresser drawer. I finally pulled it open and there it was. I knew there was one bullet in the chamber. I had saved it for those desperate nights when I got to missing Lacey more than most.
I spun around and marched back out into the hallway, where Dexter stood, the coat rack still held like a weapon in his hand. I raised the gun and came right at him. I don’t even know what I was thinking. I knew the gun wouldn’t hurt him. Though he had command of physical objects, I knew they couldn’t hurt him back. But I was desperate.
“Oh please,” he snickered and swung the rack. It hit my wrist and the gun went flying out of my hand, spinning back down the hallway far out of reach. I clutched my wrist. It felt like he may have broke it. I was fighting back the painful tears.
Dexter turned around and went back into the living room, no longer concerned about me. He knew I was helpless. Just as he had been helpless when I gunned him down in a dark back alley.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly, feeling defeated. “I should have let justice take its course. I should have taken you back to jail. but you killed my..”
He reeled around. “Sorry? You’re sorry?” He threw the coat rack down in the middle of the floor. “Don’t be sorry, Cole. You killed me and made me a God!” He threw back his head and laughed madly.
I looked at him and suddenly knew real fear. I backed up. I knew this was it. The time had come; he was done with taunting me.
“And you know what the beautiful part is? There is nothing you can do to hurt me!”
From a corner of the room came a voice. “No, but I can.”
Dexter spun around at this new voice, and so did I. We were no longer the only ones in the room.
The figure shimmered and stepped towards us. “I will not allow you to hurt my husband,” Lacey said, an angry glint in her eye.
“You bitch, you can’t hurt me either! I am invincible!”
“Just like a man to think that,” she grinned slyly. “But I will be a lady and give you the choice to leave now. Leave this house, leave this plane.”
“Oh my, you are a tough one, aren’t you?” He laughed, as Lacey walked past him and went down the hall.
I was still clutching my wrist as she went by. “Lacey, what’s going on?”
She didn’t answer, but stopped at the gun that lay there in the floor. “Dexter, I see that you mastered the art of handling material objects.”
He quickly reached down and picked back up the coat rack. “Yes bitch, let me show you.”
“Well I have mastered something as well,” she replied. “In fact, I think I can do you one better.”
Dexter hesitated, suddenly unsure.
“I have learned to take material objects and make them immaterial.”
He sighed in relief and leered at her. “What’s the point in that?”
She reached down. “Because now I can take a solid object and bring it onto the spiritual plane.” She picked up the gun. At her touch it shimmered and gained a transparency. “And by bringing it on the spiritual plane, I can use it against anything there.”
She pointed the gun at Dexter, who suddenly realized he had made a mistake. He was starting to back up, looking around himself for anything to defend himself with.
“One bullet, husband?” Lacey asked me.
“Yes,” I answered.
“You don’t need it,” she stated matter-as-factly. I watched her finger pull the trigger. There was a muffled bang as if the shot were coming from a room far away. The bullet struck Dexter in his chest. He barely had time to register a look of shock before he went down. He clutched his hand to his chest, and though there was no blood to see, I swore it looked like a mist; a sort of ectoplasm was seeping from his chest.
“You haven’t beat me,” he snarled in my direction. “I will find a way to come back again and again until you are dead as she is.” He made a gesture of spitting to the ground at my feet.
“You’re not coming back,” I said, and reached into my bag. In my hand I held a piece of chalk with rune type markings up its side. I knelt down and drew a circle around Dexter’s fallen form.
“What are you doing?” he looked at me frantically.
“This is called a conjuring circle,” I told him.
“What are you conjuring?”
Completing the circle, I muttered the words I had committed to memory, yet never hoped to have to use. With each arcane word, Dexter trembled. He knew what was coming, and I could hear their growls and snarls in the distance.
Lacey turned her face from the scene. She didn’t want to see, but I had to watch. I had to make sure he wasn’t coming back. They materialized within the circle, three black dogs that circled his prone form, salivating from their jaws.
“No wait,” he cried out, right before one of the hounds clamped down on his ankle. He screamed, as the dogs began to drag him away. They weren’t dragging him out of the circle, but further within it. A darkness seemed to slowly envelop them as they faded from the circle. His screams took longer to fade.
Finally gone, I collapsed, a certain darkness enveloping me too. I closed my eyes and welcomed it.
“Advocate For The Dead ” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.