Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 24

 

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

 

Kian and Aidan set a quick pace over the ridge, she with Lucky on her back and Aidan with a small duffle over his shoulder. What had once been a Jeep trail was now overgrown with bushes and small saplings. They kept the trail in sight, but hiked through the old-growth forest where the sun had not encouraged as much lush foliage. It was easier going, and they could make better time.

Twenty minutes later they climbed out of a low ravine and found the road to the cave entrance. It would not be far now, Kian thought as she reached back to give Lucky a reassuring pat. He was still–too still. Frightened, she lowered the pack and untied it. When she reached in, he jumped out and ran into the forest. “Aidan,” she screeched.

“Wait, I’ll get him. You stay behind that boulder,” he said as he pointed to one just down the road.

“He won’t come to you,” she replied and hurried after him into the forest. Aidan set an even quicker pace, suddenly more on edge.

“Kian, I don’t like this. I feel someone coming.” He was about to grab her arm and pull her back up to the road when they spotted Lucky ten feet farther down the hill. Together, they ran down. Lucky waited until they were inches away and then turned to sprint between two tall craggy rocks. Fortunately, Kian was able to scoop him up. She shoved him back in her pack, but not before Lucky swiped at her, scratching her arm.

Aidan reached over and pushed Kian down. “Someone’s coming,” he repeated.

They watched as two people hurried toward the cave, arguing as they went. “I told you they wouldn’t be at the house. Kian left last night. I heard it in town. Come on before Raven finds we’re gone. That treasure they talk about, I’m sure it is in that cave somewhere.” The two passed around the bend.

Kian looked at Aidan. “Now what?”

“Is there another way in?”

“Not that I know of.”

Lucky let out a loud growl, pushed his way out of the backpack again, and swiped at Kian’s legs. When she bent down to grab him, he disappeared between the two craggy rocks.

“Looks like an adequate hiding place,” Aidan offered as he peered into the darkness beyond the opening. “See if you can get in there.”

Kian was able to squeeze herself through the narrow slit in the rocks, but Aidan had to get down on his belly and slithered in like a snake.

They found themselves in a tunnel. Barely high enough for Kian, Aidan had to stoop slightly to make his way through.

They used their outstretched hands to follow the cave walls until they were well away from the narrow entrance. Aidan switched on his flashlight. Lucky was sitting six inches in front of them. He allowed himself to be placed back in the pack, but this time rode with his head sticking out.

“You think that cat knew where he was going?”

“Maybe,” Kian replied, more as a reassurance to herself than to Aidan. “He did come out of these woods.”

Two minutes further along, a shaft of light broke through the darkness. There was a small hole that opened to the sky, allowing the sun to flood in. Aidan switched off the flashlight, and they followed the tunnel to a large room. Aidan, now able to stand, arched his sore back.

On the far side of the room, seven steps led down to another tunnel. “So far only one way in, so only one way out. We can’t get lost. Let’s give it a try.” Aidan switched on the flashlight again.

Several hundred feet in, the tunnel ended at a large boulder.

Aidan carefully moved his fingers along the edge, looking for handholds. He could find none.

“Let me try.” Kian handed Lucky, now crouched down in the backpack, to Aidan. She took the flashlight and started shining it along the edge of the rock. “Nothing. Let me try the other end,” she said as she moved to the other side of the boulder. She moved the light all along the edge before saying, “I think I got it.”

After carefully placing the flashlight on the ground, she moved her fingers into the chipped ridges and pulled back. The rock tilted slightly.

“Here, take Lucky. I may be able to do it.” Aidan grabbed the rock and pulled back. It tilted again. As Aidan maintained the force he was exerting, Kian walked around and, shoving her back into the side, she added her strength to his. The rock rolled out of the way. They peered into the darkness. Aidan picked up the flashlight and aimed it. Someone darted around a corner, disappearing down a side tunnel.

“Damn, Kian, who else knows about this place?”

 

To turn and leave would expose their backs to the shadow. Safer to move forward, Aidan figured. He motioned Kian back a couple of steps as he pulled his Sig Sauer from his waist. “Keep low,” he whispered before easing his way down the tunnel. Kian crouched and held the flashlight so it was shining in front of him as he moved. Aidan turned to her and mouthed, “No, keep it behind me.”

With his back to the cave wall, weapon pointing down in front of him, Aidan eased along taking his time. When he got to the side tunnel where the shadow had disappeared, he paused. He then mentally counted down, “Three, two, one.”

As if out of nowhere the shadow exploded from the tunnel and, with a swift kick to the gut, knocked Aidan to the ground. He managed to hold onto his weapon and was raising it to take aim when that, too, was kicked away.

Kian screamed just as the shadowy figure wrapped a garrote around Aidan’s neck. Aidan hunched his shoulders upward and tightened his neck muscles as he felt the garrote jerk, just enough to cut off some but not all his air. It was enough to prove the skill of the person who had attacked him.

Aidan relaxed his neck and elongated it, making just enough room to slip his fingers under the garrote. Then he feigned rolling to the right. When he felt the shadow pull to the left, he quickly jerked his entire body in that direction, sending his opponent off balance. In one swift motion he was on top. The figure bucked.

Aidan looked up to see Kian now inches from them staring at the woman he held down. “Kian,” he shouted, “I could use some help here.”

But Kian just stood there looking bewildered. “Mom,” she finally said.

“Litu, who is this man?”

Aidan looked at Kian. “Litu? That’s Apache for ‘red’.”

“She’s my mom,” Kian told Aidan. “Please, let her up.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure, now let her up.”

“We are not called Apache,” Kian’s mother informed him as he loosened his grip. “That’s the Zuni word for enemy. That is not who we are.”

“Tineh,” Aidan corrected himself, “‘Litu’ is Tineh for ‘red.'” He stood and, shaking himself off, he offered the woman his hand. “You must be Cat Buchanan.” She took it and stood. Graceful was Aidan’s assessment. Just like her daughter.

Cat took her daughter by the shoulders. As she looked at Kian, a slow smile spread across her face. Kian stared back, both women now with tears in their eyes. Cat took her daughter into her arms and held her for several long minutes. Aidan could see Kian was crying, and Cat was trembling as well. Neither woman said a word. Aidan supposed neither knew quite what to say.

When finally Cat broke the embrace, she looked over at Aidan. “You are?”

Kian stepped forward. “Mom, this is Aidan, Aidan Scott. Aidan’s been helping me.”

“He’s cute,” Aidan heard Cat whisper in Kian’s ear as she turned and motioned them to follow her down the tunnel.

 

Dressed in doeskins with shells dangling from the hem of her dress, Cat made a pleasant clacking sound as she walked. Around her neck was a necklace of turquoise and amber. On her feet she wore soft moccasins.

Her mother was shorter than Kian remembered, and older now, with graying hair still worn in her customary three braids. There was a commanding grace about the woman, one Kian recognized as belonging to her mother. Kian wanted to walk arm and arm with her mother. But, that was not Cat’s way. Indeed, she had been surprised at her mother’s earlier embrace. Cat held her distance in front of strangers, and Aidan was a stranger to her. So was she, Kian realized. Eighteen years was a long time. And it would take a while before they knew each other again.

After traveling several minutes, they rounded a corner, rolled another boulder out of the way, and entered the familiar cave. Kian blinked twice to focus. An older man sat at the rickety table.

The man stood. “Is this my Kian? My, my, but you have grown into a beautiful woman.” Kian rushed to her father as he limped toward her. She hugged him as tightly as she could. “Been practicing that bear hug since we left, huh?” He gave her another hug then drew back slightly and kissed her forehead. It was good to see him.

“Dad, what happened to your foot?”

Red Buchanan lifted his tattered trouser leg. His ankle was twisted and scarred. “Got it crushed,” he said.

“What he is not telling you is that someone crushed it for him,” Cat clarified putting her arm around her husband.

“That’s how we got stuck in those infernal tunnels,” Red added. “I couldn’t walk. Kian, I’m so sorry. If I’d been more careful all those years ago, we might have made it back home to you.” He looked at her, tears welling up his eyes.

 

 

Photo Attribution

By Usamasaad (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 23

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CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

 

Kian, relieved to have an excuse to get away from the dead body, headed upstairs and found Lucky napping on her bed. “Sorry, buddy, but we are going to have to leave soon.” She tossed her backpack next to him. After emptying it, she held it against Lucky. He would fit inside.

She rummaged through her drawers and found some drab khakis and an olive tee shirt. She pulled these on and kissed Lucky on the head. The pack slung over her shoulder, she left to find her favorite hiking boots. They were in the attic. She brought them down to the living room sofa and pushed her feet into them while Owen paced at the front window.

“Will you sit down? You are making me nervous. How’s your head, anyway?”

“I have a headache if that’s what you are asking.”

“How bad?”

“Is that Kian the nurse asking, or Kian my friend?” Owen scowled at the sun’s glare off Jimbo’s monster truck.

“What’s eating you?”

“Those two guys. I don’t like them, and I don’t trust them. We know nothing about them.”

“Aidan saved my life, not once but a few times.”

“Well, I say it’s a ploy. He and that buddy of his are up to no good.”

“Who? Jimbo? He’s a Cameron and you said the Camerons were Guardians.”

Were, Kian. Were! Not are. The Camerons were driven out. They joined the wrong side. They tried to steal the Ark. That was why your great-great grandmother had to leave here. The Camerons betrayed her. You want to know who led that little coup? A guy by the name of Power. Power, Kian, Power. Like Aidan’s boss–that dead guy over there. Why can’t you get that? They are both on Power’s side.” Owen turned to stare out the window again.

Kian walked over and put her hand on his shoulder. “No, Owen. You are wrong. Both Aidan and Jimbo are okay. I know they are. Owen, I’d feel it if they weren’t. Listen, we have to work together.”

“Okay, I have to accept that. It is part of the code.” He turned away again. “But I don’t have to trust them.”

 

 

Owen scowled at the body on the floor. Damn that Aidan. He’s made this mess; he should be the one to clean it up. He looked out the front window. Exposed, that’s what they were. Exposed. He should have removed Kian days ago, taken her to his place. Damn the FBI and their falsified reports. He should have known better. If his father was still alive…. But his father wasn’t, and now he alone shouldered the burden.

“I don’t like standing here,” he told her as he led the way through the pantry to the basement steps, the only place they could not be seen from a window. There he motioned for her to sit, but remained standing with his arms folded and his back rigid against the old doorframe.

The cool air drifting up from the cellar tasted of damp dirt, but it felt good.

Kian broke the icy silence. “I want to know more about our family history. Could our ancestors really have settled here ten thousand years ago?”

Owen remained rigid, staring ahead toward the living room. He had a duty to call in the murder of Power, he knew that. But he also had a duty to Kian, to keep her safe. She’d be questioned, and how in the world would she ever explain an FBI Director tied and shot in the head without being implicated?

“Owen, I need you to tell me what you know.”

“We came here during the last great earth upheaval. That was twelve thousand years ago. Not ten.” Owen was silent again. Damn FBI anyway.

“Last? How many were there?”

Instead of answering, Owen studied his fingernails–worn and dirty.

“Owen, don’t be like this. I need to know, now tell me, please.” She looked up. He found her startlingly green eyes both sad and imploring. Since they had been young children, Owen had not been able resist her. I wonder if she knows that?

After a long moment, he sat down beside her. “Well, there have been many catastrophic events on this planet. One wiped out the dinosaurs like everyone says, but there were others, too.” Kian laid her head on his shoulder. He wanted to put his arm around her, but was afraid she’d move away.

“I read this guy Creighton. He says cosmic waves from exploding stars cause them. I’m not sure about that, but I do know there were three major upheavals in the last 100,000 years.”

“Three?”

“Yes. The first was about 70,000 years ago, a second maybe 30 or 40,000 years ago, and then a third 12,000 years ago. Kian, our families always knew when ‘The Times of Tribulations’ were coming. That’s what we call them when the earth goes into upheaval. During the first Tribulation, 70,000 years ago, people dug tunnels and sheltered in caves. When they emerged, they had to rebuild and start again, but the knowledge was kept. I don’t just mean how to plant and harvest, I also mean the spiritual knowledge, the real spiritual knowledge. So when it happened again, the second time 40,000 years ago, people were prepared, and they moved back into the tunnels and caves. When this had subsided, they came out again and rebuilt making it even better. This would be the time of Atlantis, Shambala, and the Golden Age.

“When the third Tribulation came, we knew we had to leave our cities again. But first we buried our Temples so the earth changes would not destroy them. Gobekli Tepe, Nabta Playa, that’s when those sites were buried. And other cities, too, ones nobody has discovered yet.”

“Dad used to talk about them.”

Owen could feel her warmth, and he again wondered if he should put his arm around her, like he did when they were kids. But he let the moment pass. “It’s all recorded in the Book of Knowings,” he finally said.

“So, tell me how Uncle Jacob got the wings. I know there was a storm and the wings got lost, but how did Uncle Jacob find them?”

“Jacob’s family had them all along. One of his ancestors found them on the beach after the storm and kept them. That’s how Jacob inherited them. Then he found us. Or actually he met your father and, well, I think you know the rest.”

Lucky jumped into Kian’s lap. He cuddled in as, absent minded, she scratched his ears eliciting a loud purr. “So who do you think killed Power?”

There was a loud thump at the door. Owen jumped up, grabbed his weapon, and pointed it toward the noise.

The door burst open. “Kian, we are out of here now,” Aidan shouted. “Let’s go!”

Owen watched Kian grab Lucky and shove him into her backpack. She tied it securely, then mounted the pack on her shoulders and took Aidan’s arm. “Okay, let’s go. I have had about enough of this place anyway.” Turning, she motioned to Owen. “Come on.”

“No,” he replied. “I got to call this in.” He was still wearing his orange tee shirt.

 

 

Note:

The “earth changes,” the catastrophes, as Owen relates them are accurate. His accounting of human history during those changes is theoretical. However, there is mounting evidence to support the contention that humans have been on the planet a lot longer than previously suspected and that more advanced civilizations have thrived and then been wiped out by natural disasters.

 

Photo Attribution:

By Ben Crowder (Flickr: Comet Crash) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 22, continued

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“Earth to Scotty,” Jimbo said. “I could use some help here. Grab this asshole’s other arm would you?”

“Huh? Oh, sure.” Aidan took hold of Power and together the two men hoisted him onto one of the sturdy oak dining chairs. Power’s scalp was bleeding and the rag had fallen off his bloody hand. Aidan looked over at Kian. “Get us something to tie this guy up, will you?”

Hurrying to the pantry, she found a roll of duct tape, tossed it to Aidan. Without a word to either of the men, she quickly returned to nursing Owen. “Are you ok? Anything hurt?” Kian asked, her voice soft and caring.

“Just my head,” Owen replied.

“Move your arms and legs for me, will ya?”

“Sure.” Owen flailed his extremities about, catching Kian around the neck and pulling her closer. “I’m fine. See?”

Aidan growled. Kian looked up to see him yank the tape tighter around Power’s wrists. He cut the tape with his teeth and then roughly wrapped each of the man’s legs, securing them to the chair.

Kian hurried to the kitchen and returned to Owen with a flashlight and an ice pack which she placed on his head. “Close your eyes,” she said. A minute later Kian carefully peeled the right eyelid back to shine the flashlight into it. She repeated the procedure with the left eye. Satisfied, she patted him on the shoulder. “Pupils equal and reacting to light. You seem to be okay. Can I get you anything? Hungry?”

With a boyish grin, Owen replied, “Got coffee? Haven’t had any this morning.”

Kian heard Aidan mumble, “I haven’t had my coffee either,” and watched as Jimbo feigned a punch at his head. “Maybe you need to get yourself knocked out, meathead.”

Before Kian could say anything, Power groaned, bringing everyone’s attention squarely back to the task at hand. Aidan stepped in front of Power, grabbed him by his collar and growled, “You want to explain what’s going on?”

Power’s look shot daggers first at Aidan and then at Jimbo. The room went eerily quiet as everyone waited for the answer.

Power scowled, fixed his gaze on Kian, then studied Owen who was now sitting up and holding his head. After a minute, Power turned to Aidan and spit at him.

“Seems we won’t be getting much out of you.” Aidan wiped the back of his hand on Power’s shirt.

Power let out a defiant snarl and scrutinized Kian. “Baby, you have no idea what’s going to happen next. But, you can stop it. Just give me that Ark.”

Aidan grabbed Power’s chin, forcing his gaze away from Kian. Jimbo stood with arms crossed leaning against the counter that separated the dining table from the kitchen.

“That box is mine, not hers. Her family stole it from me and I sent you idiots to find it, not hog-tie me.”

Kian took several steps toward Power, capturing the man’s attention once again. Her voice was calm and steady. “So, why do you say it belongs to you? Just tell me. Just explain it to me. If it’s yours, I’ll give it to you.”

Power jerked his chin out of Aidan’s grip as his expression softened. “I’ll tell you everything. But first bring it to me.”

“Can’t do that, old man.” Jimbo leaned forward. “It’s not here. And you aren’t getting it ’till we know how it’s yours.” He leaned back again. “So maybe you should start the story.”

“Okay,” Power smirked, “what do you want to hear first? About the Ark? Or would you rather hear how Raven opened a Demon Hole back there and what came out terrifies even me?” Power let the silence linger for a few moments. “Which is it?”

From across the room, Owen gasped, “The Demon Hole.”

“Okay, the Demon Hole it is. I want you all to listen up. Someone’s got to put that thing back and it’ll take a sacrifice, but that’s what you all enjoy so much, right? Sacrifices? Okay, so here we go.”

There was a muffled pop, like an explosion of air. Jimbo took a dive for the floor as Power’s chair fell to the side, sending the big man crashing down. Aidan and Owen both rushed for Kian, pushing her down to the floor and shielding her with their bodies. Minutes passed. Nobody stirred.

Finally, Aidan whispered, “Anybody hurt?”

“Okay here,” replied Jimbo.

“Kian, you ok?”

“If you two lugs would get off me, I might know better. I’m suffocating.” Aidan and Owen both scrambled away.

“Stay down, all of you.” Jimbo pointed toward the side window, the one that faced the shed. Shattered glass covered the hard wood floor. “That bullet came through there.”

Jimbo eased himself up onto his knees. Kian noticed something sticky on his hands. It was blood. He wiped it on Power’s shirt. “Not mine,” he said. Kian could see one neat clean hole right in the center of Power’s skull.

Aidan broke the silence. “Stay down,” he whispered. “Someone’s coming up the driveway. We’re not alone.”

“I don’t hear anything,” Owen said as he started to stand, but Kian pulled him back down.

“You won’t,” she said. “He senses things like that. Now shhh….”

Seconds later, Kian heard men coming up the driveway.

“It come from ’round ‘ere,” one man insisted. “I’m telling ya, I heared Bigfoot callin’, like the matin’ call or somethin’, and twenty minutes later I heared a shot.”

“I didn’t hear no shot,” a second man said.

“Ya gotta know what your hearin’ out here. You aren’t still in the suburbs ya know. It was high powered. A rifle. Muffled. Real big game stuff.”

“Think someone bagged one? Think someone finally got us a Bigfoot carcass? Now that would be the smokin’ gun, wouldn’t it? Get it? Smokin’ gun? Gun? Killed it? Got the proof?” He laughed.

“Don’t be stupid,” a third man interjected. “Them things is inter-dy-mensional. They blinks out before you can hits ’em.”

“Says who?” There was a challenge in the jokester’s tone.

“Those guys on the internet, the ones with all them books. They come in space ships.”

A woman spoke this time. “Okay, smarty-pants, you ever see one blink out?”

“No. You ever see a Bigfoot?”

“No,” the woman replied.

“See, I told you.”

Still arguing, the voices trailed off into the forest, and the house grew quiet again.

“Think those guys scared off our shooter?” Aidan crept over to Power’s body and placed two fingers on the fallen man’s neck. “No pulse.”

Kian crawled over to Power. The man was dead, she could see that. No amount of resuscitation would bring him back.

“From the look of the wound, I’d say he had no idea what hit him,” Jimbo offered with a shrug.

Aidan, a crooked grin on his face, looked quizzically at Jimbo. “You want to be the one to call this in, buddy?”

Jimbo rolled his eyes, “Not me, it’s all yours.”

Owen stood and confronted the two men. “Call it in? To whom? The FBI? The local authorities?” Despite Jimbo’s warning look, he marched over to Aidan. “This is no joke! This guy was tied up when he was shot. How’re you gunna explain it? You two baboons got any ideas?”

Owen’s tall lanky frame towered over Aidan, but Aidan raised his pointed his index finger pushed it at the taller man’s face, causing him to back up. “Listen, sonny,” Aidan said. “We got a bigger problem. This was no random shot that just happened to find this guy’s skull. Whoever did this is professional. That was no yahoo. That was a trained sniper, and a good one I might add.”

“I don’t understand,” Kian said. “Who would kill him?”

“Good question.” Jimbo walked to the kitchen door, opened it, and looked out. “I’m going scouting. You coming, Scotty? I could use some back-up this time.”

“Be right with you.” He turned to Kian, “Get dressed and ready to move out. Wear something that blends in with the land back there. We may have to hike out of here.”

Then he pointed to Owen. “You. Stay put until you hear from us. You say you’re her Guardian? So now prove it. Guard her. And ditch that orange shirt while you’re at it. There should be something more suitable in my duffle. I already got one dead body on my hands. I don’t need two.”

 

Photo Attribution:

By Rizuan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 22

 

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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

August 6th

 

The sunlight, as it filtered through the trees, cast twinkling specks of light and shadow across Kian’s face. On any other day, she might have watched as she lay there, enjoying the bright morning sun on the gossamer curtains surrounding her bed. Almost like fairies, the prisms formed from sunbeams on sequined pillows danced on her walls.

Barely past six in the morning, the day was already hot and muggy and it would get worse, she knew. So unlike the summers she remembered as a child.

She wiggled into her faded denim cut-offs, found her lacy demi-bra, castoff the night before. She then pulled on an electric orange cami, vibrant against her tussled red hair. She went over to close the windows against the already growing heat. The rotation of the ceiling fan continued, slow and lazy. She left it running. Any movement of the air was good.

Kian opened her door and tiptoed downstairs. When she reached the living room, she was surprised to find Aidan missing from her sofa, the sheet neatly folded under the pillow. Probably out scouting around, she decided as she busied herself in the kitchen. She made coffee in the Keurig, fed Lucky, and grabbed a yogurt for herself.

Not sure what else to do, Kian grabbed her laptop from the kitchen counter and set it on the dining table. She hadn’t checked her email since Jacob’s death, and she wondered what her friends might be up to. Lucky jumped into her lap and settled there, his contented purr keeping her company.

After reading a mountain of birthday wishes, Kian opened one from Cathy. “After your unforgettable 27th birthday, hope this one is quieter.” Her message brought back the memories: Cathy shot and lying on the emergency room floor in a pool of her own blood, Kian kneeling beside Cathy trying to staunch the flow.

Now, on her 28th birthday, thugs were shooting at her. The irony of it struck her as almost funny. She scratched Lucky behind the ears and then checked the time on her computer. Only 6:30 AM. “Another eventful birthday, I am afraid. Call u later.” She did not want to worry her friend with the details. Satisfied the message said enough, she hit send.

Kian leaned back and was about to close her laptop when Lucky took a swipe at the curser. Kian kissed the top of his head before swirling her finger on the track pad, causing the curser to dance on the screen. Lucky studied it and crouched to pounce. Just as he did, there was a beep and a new message appeared. Lucky hissed and nipped at Kian’s hand as she opened it. The address read, AScott@FBI.gov. Odd he’d email me, he’s never seen me use my computer. The message read, “Meet me in shed. Urgent.”

Alerted now, Kian got up and cautiously stepped closer to the side window that overlooked the shed. She peered out. The shed door was open.

Her computer beeped again. AScott. “I saw you at the window. It’s safe. Come out.”

Apprehension growing, Kian reached out with her awareness. She was being watched, that much she knew. But she did not think it was Aidan. Standing at the dining table, she placed her fingers on the keyboard and typed, “U R not Aidan. Show yourself.” Lucky nipped at her again.

The screen remained still. For a long moment Kian held her breath. Then a new message appeared. “I have Aidan. Come out.” There was a momentary pause, then another message. “NOW! I know where Cathy lives.”

Oh my god!

Kian grabbed Lucky and pushed him toward the steps. She called after him, “Go. Now. Hide,” before turning back to her computer. Lucky tore up the stairs. All was quiet again as Kian debated about what to do next. Then she heard Lucky’s favorite toy, a ping-pong ball, bouncing on the hard wood floors above her. Dammit, Lucky, I don’t have time for this! I said hide!

Fear and anger rising, Kian turned back to her computer and pounded out, “Show yourself.”

“Come to the window.”

Kian did. This time Power stood in plain sight, one hand bloody and wrapped in an old rag, the other pointing a gun back into the shed.

“I want to see Aidan first,” Kian called out.

The Ping-Pong ball bounced down the steps. Kian snapped around to scold Lucky, but instead she saw Jimbo, barefoot and looking more like a bear coming out of hibernation than a human. “Get in front of the fireplace,” he growled when he reached the bottom step. He peered out the glass panel to the right of the front door. “Power may have friends.”

“But he has Aidan,” Kian objected.

“It’s a ruse. Nobody gets Scotty unless he wants to get got! Especially not that clown. Now, please, you need to take cover.”

Kian took three steps to her right and sat on the hearth.

Jimbo cupped his hands around his mouth and pierced the air with a guttural screech. “Let’s see how long it takes those Bigfoot baboons to get here.”

Moments passed. They heard a gunshot. It came from the shed.

“Stay down. I’ll check.” Jimbo crept behind the sofa and over to the side window. With the wall shielding him, he let out another Bigfoot howl, stole a quick glance, and crouched back down again. “Power is gone,” he said.

There were footsteps on the porch.

“Quick, get behind the sofa,” Jimbo whispered. “And stay flat.” Jimbo made his way back to the front door, using the furniture for cover.

Kian peeked out from behind the sofa to see Power peering in the living room window. Jimbo mumbled, “Cheeky bastard,” and flattened himself against the wall next to the front door.

Kian’s shoulders tighten. She ducked back down. “Is he going to break in?”

“Don’t know.”

The door rattled. “Kian, open up,” Power shouted. “I know you’re in there. Kian, don’t make me break in.”

“Guess he is,” Jimbo said. He pulled his Sig-Sauer from his waistband, and released the safety, keeping it pointed at the floor.

Kian heard the glass panel shatter, allowing easy access to the lock. She peeked out again.

Power used the butt of his gun to clear the shards away. He reached in to open the door, but before he could unlock it, there was a scuffle outside. The hand disappeared. There was a loud thud, and the hand reappeared, but then withdrew again. They heard a second thud, this one heavier than the first. Kian ducked back down.

Someone rapped on the front window.

“Hey, guys, I could use some help out here.” It was Aidan.

Jimbo reached over and opened the door. Kian rushed to his side and together they peered out in time to see Aidan stepping over two bodies heaped on the porch.

“Place is crawling with perps and Bigfoot bozos,” Aidan told Kian before turning to Jimbo. “I can’t tell which is which, or which witch is what as the case may be,” he sniggered. Kian watched the two men slap their thighs and laugh themselves silly, all the while lumbering around like Bigfoot baboons.

Finally, after a final chorus of “I’m off to find the Bigfoot,” Jimbo grabbed Power by the armpits and dragged him inside.

Still laughing, Aidan hoisted an unconscious Owen over his shoulder. With the lanky officer precariously perched and looking more like a rag doll than a human, Aidan crossed to the sofa, leaned over, and deposited him on the seat.

Too long for the sofa, Owen lay there with his head awkwardly curled against one armrest. His back was arched, his knees bent, and his feet splayed out on the floor. Kian ran over and gently lifting his head. She placed it on Aidan’s pillow. She then lifted his legs and rested his bent knees against the overstuffed back. Blood from a cut on his nose stained his orange tee shirt.

“He’ll be fine,” Aidan assured her. “He tried to stop Power but Power was too big for him. Owen got his head knocked against the door, that’s all.”

“That’s all? That’s all?” Still shaking, Kian turned on him. “This isn’t Keystone cops. You know that, right?” Disgusted, she turned her attention back to Owen.

“I thought which witch was pretty funny myself,” Jimbo muttered, still holding Power by his armpits. But Aidan was looking at the sofa where Owen groaned and began pushing himself up on his shaking elbows.

“Shhh, quiet,” Kian murmured. She checked his pulse and then placed her ear to his chest. His breathing was shallow, but steady. “You got a lump on your head,” she told him, stroking it gently. She could feel Aidan watching her, and she found it annoying.

 

Photo Attibution:

Gwen and James Anderson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 21

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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

 

Raven watched with amusement as the big guy in the tattered horse blanket led the Bigfoot buffoons around the forest, leading a group near their camp in the horse pasture. Good, she decided. It would keep the others under control. She smirked, make my job easier, why don’t you?

Once the man in the horse blanket was out of sight, Raven crawled under one of the cars and removed the bug. It had been useful before, but now she did not want the FBI agent to know where she was going. She left it sitting on the grass and crawled back to Power.

Nuzzling his ear and stroking his thigh, she whispered, “Let’s find somewhere more secluded. Too many people around. I have a present for you.” She stroked him playfully until she felt him “rise up.” She snuggled in closer. “Let’s go to the chamber.”

When they reached the chamber, Raven lit candles, ones she’d placed on natural ledges inside earlier that day. They cast an inviting glow and diminished the dampness within but, set high on the wall, they did not warm the natural coolness of the chamber too much.

After ten minutes of passionate sex, the two lay upon a bed of pine needles and soft furs. In the distance, crickets chirped their mating songs, and a night bird crooned to the far off cry of a coyote. The glowing chamber might have been inviting, she thought, if not for the figure now sleeping next to her.

Raven enjoyed the natural coolness one more minute, then she crawled out of the chamber and into the muggy darkness of the night. With one more glance back to be sure Power was still asleep, she slipped into her thin shift and grabbed her moccasins. She had work to do.

One particular stone–that was the reason she had enticed Power back to the chambers. She needed to be close enough to slip away and explore that stone before he woke and noticed she was gone.

The stone, triangular in shape, was placed over a small opening in the ground. On it was a shape, perhaps a hawk, perhaps a raven. She was not sure which it was, but she did know the red was rusted iron and iron was used to contain demons.

She allowed her senses to extend out in all directions, checking for danger. Thunder crackled in the distance. Streaks of lightening illuminated the old pines, and Raven saw a coyote prowling in the distance, a shadow of a beast in the flashes of light. That wasn’t the kind of danger she feared.

Raven focused on the stone. Yes, there was something there, a spell, a binding she knew, and the binding was contained in the stone. The work was well done. If there was still something inside, something sentient, she merely needed to move the stone to release it. “What do you hide?” she whispered. “Would you like to come out to play?”

Raven felt the force charge at her, a force angrier than a raging bull. It rushed at her only to be blocked by the binding and the stone. She recoiled at its fury–hot, slashing, and seeping through. This would be a challenge, even for her.

“Tell me your name,” Raven commanded when at last her heart beat normally again.

“No, I’ll give you no power over me,” snarled the demon within.

“Then you’ll stay under there for all eternity.” Raven stood and turned to walk away. Would this creature be hungry enough to call her back, to tell her the one thing that would give her ultimate power over it? I will not have a monster loose unless I control it. It would be such a waste.

“Come back!”

Raven shot a backward glance and walked on.

“Come back, I say.”

She turned her head and lowered the pitch of her voice. “Do not presume to order me.” Her words were slow and deliberate. “Give me your name, or I leave now.”

“No name,” the beast countered in return. “Just my word. Among thieves, as they say. And three wishes–I will give you three wishes. Isn’t that traditional? And then I’ll be on my way. No harm to you.”

“The word of a Trickster? No, I am no fool.” Raven turned again and took two more steps.

“Come back,” the demon shouted into her mind, but Raven did not turn this time. Instead she continued her slow measured pace and moved farther away. “Please.” Still, Raven kept walking. “I will give you my name, but you must come closer. I will not shout it.”

Raven turned slowly and studied the stone, calculating the risk. Names, true names were words of power. With this creature’s name she could summon him anywhere, any time. He would have to do her bidding. But he could also trick her by giving a false name. Hungry to possess a human form once again, she would be his first victim. The only way was to use the name, to throw it back at him, but that would not work through the binding. She’d have to draw him out and into a protected space, one where she’d have the control, one that would contain him as the binding and the rock had done. She knelt down beside the rock.

“What have you found, my Lady?” Power stood over her, sweating and naked. He thrust his soft erection toward her, inviting her to respond. She wondered if he could even see his “thing” under that protruding belly. He reached out to touch her shoulder. Memories of his wet, sloppy lovemaking made her shudder. I should have switched his Valium for his Viagra.

“My Lady, did you hear me? I asked what you found.”

“My Lord, I have found one who can help us. Cast a circle, I will draw him out.”

“This could be dangerous.”

Raven whipped her head up, narrowing her eyes as she glared at him. “I did not come all this way to turn back now. That Ark is going to be mine.”

“Yours?” He drew one well-manicured fingernail, kept just a bit too long, roughly down her cheek. It left a long red welt on her smooth olive skin.

“Ours,” Raven conceded as she forced herself to look up at him. She smiled sweetly, allowing her hair to brush across his protruding flabby penis.

“I did not spend years training you only to have you take what is rightfully mine,” he bellowed. “Work with me and it can be ours. Work against me and, trust me, you will regret it.”

Raven lowered her gaze to the ground. “Together, we work together. As always. I did not mean….” Her voice trailed off.

Power stood before the Demon Stone. “The demon’s name is Ashta-molon. It will take both of us, I think, to safely bring him out. Cast the circle.”

Raven drew the dagger from her belt. Facing east, she held it in a two-fisted grip and pointed it to the sky. Hidden in the darkness, coyotes seemed to howl in response. “By the powers given to me in veiled-times and shrouded-places, I cast this circle of containment.” She lowered her arms to point the dagger out before her and slowly circled Power and the Demon Stone. When she got back to the east, she turned and bowed to Power. “It is done. The circle is cast. Our work may begin.”

Power pointed to the stone. “Demon! Arise before me.”

The very ground under them shook even as the forest itself remained deadly still. “Unbind my hole,” cried the demon.

Power smirked. “Raven, my dear, lift the stone.”

Once out, the demon would be hungry to possess the warmth of a human body and Raven knew she would be placing herself in danger. Once the stone was lifted, she needed to use its name before Power did. Then it would be under her control, not his. She knelt down and placed her dagger on the ground, making sure it was in easy reach.

The stone was heavy, heavy enough to give Raven an idea. “My Lord, I need your strength. I am not powerful enough to move it alone.” She smiled seductively at Power.

He knelt beside her. “But foolish enough to have tried, I see. We shall release this thing together.”

Raven stroked her fingers up Power’s inner thigh and watched him grow hard again. “Together,” she whispered in his ear.

“Ah, my dear, twice in one night. This time I shall make sure you come slowly, oh so slowly.” He reached down into the top of her shift, teased her nipples until they sat hard and yearning on her breasts. Then he reached for her mouth with his wild searching tongue.

Raven reached out to take up her dagger.

Power pulled away. “Later, my dear. First the demon.” He grabbed one end of the Demon Stone. Puffing out his pudgy chest, he heaved. When he had gotten it away from the hole, he beamed at Raven, just as she raised her knife.

“Ashta-molon!” Raven screamed as she sliced down deep into Power’s right hand.

 

 

“Fucking Bitch!” Power screamed and then lunged at Raven. Grabbing her, he threw her to the ground. The demon soared above them, the warmth of human flesh now within easy reach.

“Ashta-molon, I give you this man,” Raven shouted, still lying on the ground.

The demon soared down, drawn by the blood and the naked body below. Power pushed himself away and grabbed a rock.

The demon lunged at Power, but he wielded his rock like a hammer, striking blow after blow at the demon as they struggled. Power could feel the demon inching into his mind. Despite the heat of the summer night, Power felt himself grow cold and colder still until he dropped the stone no longer able to grip it.

Think man, think.

The binding stone was behind him. I need to position the stone between myself and the creature. If I do, it might be enough.

Power threw himself backward and scrambled over the stone. The demon, unable to cross, withdrew his grip on Power and circled to the left.

“Ashta-molon, leave me,” Power yelled, trying to stare down the demon who now circled to his right. Power circled to the left, just enough to keep the stone squarely between them.

The demon approached again, this time from the left. Again Power called the demon’s name and circled, keeping the stone between them.

Raven, unsure of the outcome, used all her stealth to open the circle she had cast, and using all her skills, disappeared into the forest.

The demon, hungry to take form, any form, human or animal, shot into the air and disappeared into the night, looking for easier prey.

Power, exhausted, sank to the ground as he stared at his injured hand. “Fucking bitch!” His manicured nails now dirty and tattered, his body exhausted, what he needed was a plan.

 

 

 

 

Photo attribution:

Louis Le Breton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons