July 9, 1975
Westerby School was one of the premier schools in New England, and apparently one of the most haunted as well. “Damon, are you sure we’re ready for this?” Mason asked, pressing down the front of his brown corduroy suit for the hundredth time. He hated the clothes, preferring his bell bottom jeans, white t-shirt, and rawhide coat.
“Of course we are. You need to relax, and stop fussing with the suit. It’s important we blend in as much as possible,” the 30 year old didn’t even glance at the younger man, concentrating instead on his driving. His hair, thick mustache, and mutton chops were white, making him look even older. He was a stout man, filling his brown suit to busting.
“Blend?” Mason laughed, a slight hysterical edge to his voice “I look like Tonto pretending to be Wayne Brady.” He pulled the coat flat again.
“Relax, you’ve been dealing with spirits since before I found you. You have training of a sort, and this isn’t my first rodeo. We’ll be fine,” Damon said firmly.
“Spirits, sure. Never one that is out for murder. We can head back and no one will ever notice,” his voice was pleading.
“My friend Richard is expecting us. Anyway, here we are.” Mason pulled into the guest parking in front of the administration building. Built in a Victorian style, the stone building was well maintained.
The pair exited the car and headed into the entrance, Mason trying to hide behind the older man. “Have some dignity, boy,” Damon growled. Sheepishly, Mason rose.
The secretary wore a smart olive dress with perfect permed hair. “Greetings, gentleman,” she looked over Damon’s shoulder at Mason. “We don’t take indians here.”
“He’s too old to be a student in any case,” Damon answered. “I’m here to see Mr. Timson.”
“Who may I say is visiting?” she asked in a bored, nasally tone.
“Mr. Patterson, thank you”
The women clicked a button on the intercom “Mr. Timson, a Mr. Patterson is here to see you,”
A buzzing voice answered “Very good. Send him up Carol. Be a good girl and make us some coffee.”
“Of course sir,” she answered. She rose and gestured to a large door behind the desk. “This way sir and friend.” She lead the way up to the top floor and pointed out a door on the left. “The office is there. Make sure your companion doesn’t bother Mr. Timson.”
Mason tensed and opened his mouth, but Damon laid a hand on his shoulder. it’s not worth it, echoed in Mason’s mind. The pair entered the office and found a portly man in a black suit pacing.
“Thank god you’re here Damon. It’s getting worse!” the man was sweating and wiping his bald head. He saw Mason and said “Who is that?”
“This is my companion, Mason. He is here to help me handle your issue. Can you tell me what has happened since we last spoke?”
“Medicine man or something?” when Mason didn’t answer he shrugged and continued. “3 more boys in the last 12 hours. Same as before, curled up and screaming. One boy keeps saying “Keeps the bugs away! Jesus save me!”
“That makes 10 total, then. You should have contacted me sooner Richard.”
“I wanted to but the administration decided to have an exorcist come in.” The man stuck a cigarette in his mouth with a shaking hand. Damon offered him a light, which he took gratefully.
“The clergy are good for the soul, but very few know much about spirits anymore,” Mason answered.
Richard gave him a dirty look. “Damon, are you sure this boy is ok?”
“He has my absolute trust.” The conversation ended as Carol entered with a pot of coffee and some mugs. She poured each of them a cup then ducked out. “You said you have a room where we can work?”
“Yes, of course. In the Pillson Building, there’s an old gym we no longer use. We plan on converting it into a-”
“That is fascinating, but we really need to get to work,” Damon interrupted.
“Oh yes, absolutely,” he handed Damon a key. “Room 105. Try to keep out of sight. We’re trying to keep this as quiet as possible, and there are a lot of people who know you.”
“I am always discreet Richard. I’ll be in touch as soon as we learn something.” Damon bowed and they left the room.
As soon as they were alone Mason snarled “Medicine Man? Not respecting my opinion? We should leave these people to their curse and laugh all the way.”
“If we don’t perform they don’t pay. What will you do then? Go back to living in a rat hole motel? I thought you wanted to become more than a con man?” Damon gave him a stern look.
“Yeah, well, I thought people would respect me, not treat me like some sort of animal,” Mason yelled.
“Respect is earned. In any case be quiet. We can’t attract any undue attention. This job requires us to be invisible.”
Mason flushed “Right. Sorry. I keep forgetting I’m a professional now.”
Damon nodded and the pair quietly went to the Pillson building, a large brick of a building with rows of small windows going up 4 stories. They entered quietly and wandered the empty hall until they found room 105. Clicking open the lock, they entered a dusty gymnasium with mouldering wood and thick cobwebs lining the ceiling.
“Mason, I know you’re nervous but it’s time to use your talents to the benefit of others. You can do this,” Damon laid a hand on his shoulder.
Wide eyed, Mason nodded. He went to the center of the room and drew a large circle surrounded by celtic runes. He produced a few medallions that he laid carefully in a diamond around the circle. Finally, he produced 4 red candles that he put at each corner of the diamond. He walked around the formation 3 times and dropped into a kneel before a candle. His eyes were glazed as he began to speak in a strange clicking language unlike anything spoken by man.
The air in the room began moving, kicking up clouds of dust, making Damon cough. The entranced Mason ignored it as the wind grew to a great storm around him. He raised his hands and let out a fierce cry. Each candle burst into green flame that spread in thin lines, connecting the four candles. Mason rose and walked silently to Damon and the pair stood firm in the swirling winds, waiting.
Time lost all meaning in the pull of the winds. It could have been minutes or hours before the winds roared inwards with a crash. Both felt a press of blackness as the entity coalesced in the circle.
“Damon, what is it? It feels powerful,” Mason whispered.
Damon looked upwards at the pulsing green monster. It was a strange, bug-like thing. It had thousands of legs and a giant head with fly-like eyes 5 feet wide. Souls swirled within, several banging on the outside in a vain attempt to free themselves.
“It doesn’t matter Mason, I need the charm.” he held out a hand.
“Yes..” Mason sputtered and pulled out a silver disc on a necklace of teeth. He gave a short twittering chant and the object glowed white. He handed it to Damon who tossed it over his neck. The warm glow surrounded the man. Silent as a grave he stripped off his suit, revealing swirling symbols that danced over his skin.
“Creature!” Damon yelled, “I command you to release the souls you have stolen and leave this plane for all time!”
“Yooo shalll makkee a finnee meal…” the creature buzzed. Mason shivered at the sound but Damon stood firm. The creature charged and bounced off an invisible with a flash of green energy.
Mason groaned and dropped to a knee. “It’s so powerful. Hurry, I can’t hold it for long.” Damon didn’t bother to react, instead holding a hand forward, pushing his will at the trapped creature. His golden energy enwrapped the creature, spikes digging into its form.
Screaming, the creature exploded outwards, its energy shattering Damon’s glow and knocking Mason back into the wall, the air roaring from his lungs.
“Can’t hold..” he wheezed.
“Just a minute more, you can do it,” Damon answered. Mason closed his eyes and began to chant. Damon made a slashing motion, a blade of silver flashing out, cutting into the bug’s eyes. The trapped souls flowed outwards, bouncing off the barrier. “4th quarter Mason. Drop the shield.”
Gasping, Mason released the field. The green fire vanished and the souls flew in every direction. Groaning, the young man passed out. Damon gave him a quick glance, then charged the creature, wrapping his rune covered body around the insect’s form. An explosion of gold surrounded them both. They writhed together, the creature beginning to fade and Damon’s glow was failing. They fought with everything they had, but Damon didn’t have enough. The crumbling creature tossed the man back next to the unconscious Mason.
Desperately, Damon shook the younger man awake. “Mason, damn it wake up. We need the trump card!”
“I can’t. Too weak…” Mason answered, head lolling.
“Do it or die!” Damon screamed. Nodding Mason reached into a pocket, pulling out an ankh. Holding it up he screamed and a burst of green slammed the creature, who dissipated. Mason gave a huff and lost consciousness. Damon looked at him, smiled and passed out. It was a long time before they awakened.
Once they awoke, they slowly began picking up their tools. “Damon, I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough. I need more power,” Mason muttered weakly.
“Power comes from experience. That was a far stronger entity than I expected,” Damon answered.
“You scryed this place, how did you not know it was this strong?” Mason snapped.
“You know as well as I this isn’t a science,” Damon answered.
“I know, but that was my limit. I’m not strong enough. Not now, but I will be,” Mason said, his voice ice.
Something about the statement raised the hairs on Damon’s neck. “Give it time. After a few days you’ll feel better and see that we were more than enough for this.”
Mason gave a short grunt and went silent.
They met with Richard who reported the children were recovering and handed them a fat check. The tired pair thanked him and drove to a nearby hotel where they rented a room and slept for 2 days. As they slept Mason dreamed of power. Power he was determined to get at any cost.