Posts Tagged ‘Broommates’

Broommates: Fire

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Part 23 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning or read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

* * * * *

The barghest appeared in the back of Grant’s attic, behind the man himself, and collapsed to the ground. “Look alive, John,” it growled. “Intruders in the cemetery.”

Grant stood in front of an altar covered with a rich purple cloth and piled high with food and liquor. He wore a loose-fitting black suit and was crafting an elaborate symbol on the floor, like a cross flanked by coffins.

“That would be why I employ you as a guard,” Grant said. He did not pause or take his eyes off the mixture of cornmeal and ash falling through his fingers.

The creature whined. “I am… injured.”


“I think… yes.”

Grant finished the symbol in silence, then wiped his hands on a clean white cloth. He glanced over his shoulder at the blue flames leaking out of the black dog.

“You’re lucky,” he said. “I was about to parlay with someone who can help you.”

On the floor nearby sat a djembe, which he carried over to the symbol on the ground. He lit four candles on the altar, then tucked the drum between his legs, crouched down slightly and began to play. At first, the beat was simple enough, almost like a waltz. But soon the pace quickened, more like the hoofbeats of a horse in gallop, a man’s heart full of the fear of impending mortality. All the while, Grant chanted in a language as old as man, his hands a blur, the candle flames brightening until their flames were blue as ghostly blood.

When it seemed that the beat couldn’t be sustained any longer, the symbol erupted in the same blue fire and a tall man appeared. His black suit was more tailored than Grant’s, with tails and a silky white shirt underneath a purple vest. A top hat covered his long white hair, and his left eye was hidden behind the smoky lens of the glasses he wore. The right lens, however, was missing, revealing an empty eye socket. This wasn’t surprising given that the rest of his face was a bare skull.

“Baron Samedi,” Grant said, bowing over the drum.

“John Grant.” The baron’s voice was deep and rich, with a hint of humor. “Are you already upon the seventh incarnation of your soul?”

“Not yet.” Grant gestured at the altar. “Please, have yourself some piman. I’ve got a deal for you.”

“Ah, bon, straight to business.” The skeletal figure slipped bony fingers around a bottle filled with hot peppers and drank the rum inside like it was water.

The barghest whined and Grant rolled his eyes. “First, what would you ask for healing that lazy mutt behind me? I’m right fed up with his tomfoolery but it’d be a shame to have to find a new one.”

The baron rubbed his chin. “That is quite a wound. I have not seen its like since… ah, but knowledge is like a pretty girl: you must court it with gifts before you take it to bed.”

“How much?” Grant asked.

“Five of your fattest ghosts,” Samedi replied. “One will be consumed in the process, the other four are for me to… enjoy.”

Grant looked back at the barghest and frowned. “Damn veterinarians always charge an arm and a leg. Fine, deal.”

The baron grabbed a fat cigar and lit it on one of the candles. “Now that I have something to look forward to, what is the real reason you summoned me here?”

Grant smiled. “I propose to help you corner your market, so to speak. Here’s my plan…”

* * * * *

The five weary travelers made it back to the house in record time, mainly because Miranda drove like a demon while Parker maintained a misdirection illusion on the car so people would ignore it while getting out of the way. Nobody said a word.

Booker waited for them on the doorstep, frowning and fidgeting. “How d-did it go?” he asked. Miranda just shook her head. They all trudged inside and Booker followed. He gasped when he saw the bandages on Beatrice’s back.

“Are you… is that… should I…”

“I’ll have a cup of tea and a salve for this mess,” Parker said, gesturing at his arm and side. Booker stared at him blankly for a moment before rushing off. “Oh, and a sandwich. Peanut butter. No crusts.”

“You do think with your stomach,” Miranda said. She sank into the couch and massaged her right calf.

“Among other bits, rarely his brain,” Anthony muttered. He paced back and forth in the living room until his temper overflowed. “We could have just waited!” he shouted.

“It could have gone for Grant,” Miranda said. “We weren’t to know.”

“And if Grant had come, we could have fended him off, too!”

“Or we could have been hit by lightning. Or a meteor. We don’t know what he can do.” Her own temper rose to the occasion and she found herself on her feet, arms akimbo. “Give it a rest, will you? It’s done.”

“You just wanted to see the sword again,” he said, jabbing a finger at her. “Any excuse, eh? Even if it almost got us killed?”

“You aren’t half full of yourself, are you? Well, let me tell you something–”

“Oh!” Booker interjected, nearly dropping the armful of creams he carried. “I nearly forgot. In the b-basement. You need to s-s-see.”

Anthony made it downstairs first by virtue of his longer legs. He froze above the foot of the stairs and Miranda had to lean over him to look.

Hovering in the air in front of the door to the lands Below was a word, scrawled in foot-high letters of blue-white flame: TOMORROW.

“Is that–” Miranda started to ask.

“Not from Below,” Anthony interjected. “It must be Grant. Where are you going?”

Miranda was already halfway out the door. “Upstairs. If Grant’s planning something for tomorrow, I’m going to prepare him a nice welcome party.” She shot him a look that would have melted sand into glass. “You can sit here and wait since you’re so fond of it.”

Broommates: Frying Pan

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Part 22 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning or read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

* * * * *

Parker was the first to break the silence. “The spooky pooch is gone. Let’s go before it finds Grant and we get a visit from Mister Magical Nuke.”

“How do you know it’s gone?” Miranda asked. “It could be a bluff, like Anthony said.”

They stared into the darkness of the forest, unable to feel the wind that shook the branches of the trees. Clouds massed in the sky, threatening to hide the moon and make it even harder to see.

“Kitty, can you see anything?” Anthony asked. Kitty shook her head. “Beatrice?”

Beatrice cracked an eye open. “If it is here, I cannot see or sense it.”

“So we have two options,” Miranda said, ticking them off on her fingers. “One, we wait here until morning and hope it hasn’t gone to get Grant. Two, we hope it’s gone and make a run for the car.”

“I hate plans that rely on hope,” Parker muttered. “They always end badly.” The moon disappeared briefly, like a light flicked off and on.

“What’s your big idea, then?” Anthony asked. “Run out and get us all mauled to death?”

“Better than sitting here waiting to be killed!”

Miranda threw up her hands. “That’s it! I’m leaving even if you aren’t. I’m not standing here listening to you bicker all night.”

“Don’t be ridic–”

“And anyway,” she continued. “Are you really willing to risk going up against Grant on his own ground?” She pulled a metal rod out of her backpack, then knelt down and checked that the laces of her sneakers were tight. She looked up at Anthony, who frowned. “Why don’t you get your sword ready, just in case?”

He crossed his arms. “I can defend myself fine without it. And anyway, this is a bad idea.”

Beatrice had resigned herself to the situation and was limbering up. “You fear the sword,” she said. “Sensible.”

“What’s to be afraid of?” Miranda asked. He didn’t answer. “Whatever.” She picked up the candle at the center of the magic circle. “Everyone ready?”

“One sec.” Parker, who had been fumbling with his glowstick, finally managed to crack it open. Some of the goo dribbled on the ground; the rest, he poured into his cupped hands.

Miranda started to ask what he was doing, but felt the tingle of a spell being prepared and opted to keep her mouth shut instead. When he looked up at her and nodded, she held the white candle up and blew it out.

The magic circle sank into the ground and the night breeze finally hit them, chilling sweat that they hadn’t realized was soaking them until now. Seconds passed like minutes as they waited for an attack that didn’t come.

“Looks like he’s gone after all,” Miranda muttered.

“Hold up,” Parker said. Careful so as not to mar the line of salt marking the perimeter of the circle, he stepped out and tossed the glowing goop he held into the air. Instead of arcing like a liquid, it exploded out in a shower of glittering globules like luminescent snowflakes, settling on his head and shoulders so that he was visible against the darkness.

And then, so was the black dog.

It growled, low and deep like the engine of a massive truck, and tried to shake off the faint green light. “Now, that’s cheating,” it said, but Parker was already moving, and so was Miranda.

“Randy, no!” Kitty shrieked.

“Yes.” Miranda lit the candle and raised the circle again–with Parker stuck on the outside. He turned to face the dog, digging a hand into his pocket.

“You and me, cheeky bugger,” the dog huffed, tensing its hindquarters to leap.

Parker pulled a mirror out of his pocket and pointed it at the creature. “In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni!”

“Latin isn’t going to stop my teeth, you silly–what?”

Instead of one Parker, there were now seven standing in a line, each eying him smugly.

“Oh, very nice,” it said. “Can’t find the tree for the forest, hmm?” The dog started to pace and each version of Parker took a step back, then another. “Fee, fi, fo, fum…”

Anthony shouted, “Parker, you fool, he can smell the real you! Run!”

“You really are a spoilsport,” the dog said. “I was going to give him a head start.” Without another word, he jumped straight at the real Parker.

Kitty screamed. Miranda blew out the candle and raised her rod, firing off a ball of flame the size of a cantaloupe. Beatrice dug a foot into the ground, twisted it, and launched herself to intercept the dog, which swiped at Parker’s chest. Parker dodged but took a vicious gash to his left side and arm.

Miranda’s fireball barely singed the dog’s ghostly fur, and it barked, whether in laughter or in surprise she wasn’t sure. Anthony pulled in the cold left behind by Miranda’s spell and used his sweat to form a trio of vicious icicles, which he sent flying toward the creature. It managed to dodge, but for its efforts received a solid kick to the ribs from Beatrice.

Growling, it went incorporeal and misty, jumping through her like a shock of cold water only to solidify on the other side and slash open her back. Beatrice hissed in pain and went after it again, but now it was heading for Kitty, who knelt next to Parker. Miranda lobbed another fireball at it, her teeth chattering as all the heat went out of the air, but it was in its ghost form and the spell sailed through it.

Anthony got to them first. The veins in his arm blackened and in the blink of an eye, his sword appeared in his hand. The barghest leaped and Anthony swung.

The dog landed in a clumsy heap nearby, blue fire leaking from where Anthony cut it. “You can’t…” it whined, limping backward. Anthony advanced and in a flash of the same blue flame, it disappeared entirely.

“Back to the car, now!” Anthony shouted. They all obeyed without a word. Miranda watched the blackness writhe in Anthony’s arm as he grimaced and brought up the rear. Maybe she would wait to ask him about the sword after all.

* * * * *

Part 23: Fire

Broommates: Black Dog

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Part 21 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning or read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

* * * * *

Kitty, who was outside, heard the howl most clearly and knew it for what it was.

“Black dog,” she whispered. She couldn’t move for fear of the creature. If it had her scent, running was pointless anyway.

Inside, everyone else was nearly frozen, but for another reason. The air had solidified like molasses in a freezer, hard and just as cold, black as pitch. Miranda could feel it trying to force its way into her mouth; she gritted her teeth against the sensation. Here was Grant’s trap, then, but what was it? Solid fog wouldn’t be so dark, and neither would a temporal stasis, which tended to cause red or blue trails. What it really felt like, when she thought about it, was ghosts. A whole swarm of them, all piled together like a rugby team made of mist. Unfortunately, she couldn’t move her mouth to attempt a banishing.

Behind her, something screamed, something decidedly not human and very much in pain. This scream was joined by others, until the cacophony nearly split Miranda’s head. Within seconds, she could move freely, and the dim light of her glow stick once again pushed back the darkness. She turned to see Anthony swinging a sword at Parker, who was covered in a layer of what looked like filmy black smoke. Beatrice was already free and rushing outside to stand beside Kitty.

“When we get out of here,” Miranda told Anthony, “you are spilling the beans about that sword if I have to–”

“Later!” he shouted.

Miranda exited the crypt to find Beatrice and Kitty both staring at the trees barely a hundred feet away. Another howl pierced the air, closer than the last.

“Just what we needed,” she muttered. “Is that a barghest?” Kitty nodded mutely. “Let’s get the boys and raise a circle. We can wait it out until dawn.”

Grant’s stomping grounds were not an ideal spot for a circle of protection, but luckily there was bare earth surrounding the tomb for several feet in all directions. Miranda wondered if things simply couldn’t survive there with the press of ghosts sucking all the life out of the place. She fished in her bag for a jar of salt to make the circle, taking care that it be large enough to accommodate them all comfortably, or at least allow people to alternate sitting and standing.

Anthony and Parker stumbled outside, Parker especially looking pale and haggard. With a heave, he proceeded to experience his dinner for the second time. Anthony’s sword was gone.

“In here, quick, so I can cleanse it!” Miranda shouted. They obeyed. With everyone inside, she closed the gap in the salt, lit a white candle and banished everything but them from the now-glowing ring.

Kitty shuddered and buried her face in Parker’s shoulder. “Shh, we’re safe,” he said. “Couldn’t get in here with a tank.”

“Can’t get out, either,” Anthony muttered. Miranda pinched him. Beatrice had already sat down in a full lotus position and was meditating.

At the edge of the forest, a pair of glowing red eyes appeared. The outline of an enormous dog became visible as a blackness even darker than the shadowed trees around it. The creature padded forward, moving straight for them but in no hurry, as if it knew they were not going anywhere. It stopped a few yards away and sniffed the air. This close, it was as tall as Anthony, short-haired and stocky as a Rottweiler.

“Does a doggie wanna biscuit?” Parker crooned. Kitty gasped.

“Come, now, there’s no call to be cheeky,” the dog said in a thick English accent. “If we’re to keep each other company until I find a way through your shielding, we might at least be civilized about it.”

Parker rolled his eyes. “Huh. Talking dog. Figures.”

It cocked its head to the side, one ear flopping over. “I could look like something else, if you’d prefer.” It flickered from a bunny to a cat to a flaming, headless man and back to a dog.

“Cat was good,” Parker muttered.

The dog politely ignored him, pacing slowly around them as it spoke. “So what brings you chaps and ladies out here? If you were looking for Grant, I daresay you were disappointed.”

“Are you his lap dog, then?” Anthony asked.

“His would be quite a lap, if that were so.”

“Guard dog?” Parker asked. “Can you do tricks? Sit, roll over, maybe play dead–”

The creature leaped at the circle, fangs bared. It hit an invisible barrier and slid to the ground, pawing at thin air. Miranda hissed in pain and the others recoiled instinctively.

“That’s it,” Parker said. “Let’s just send Beatrice out to teach him real manners.”

“Needless risk,” Beatrice said, eyes still closed. She pursed her lips. “Wiser to wait for dawn.”

If a dog could smile, this one was doing so, tongue lolling out the side of its mouth.

“What about your sword, Anthony?” Miranda asked.

“Haven’t faced a good swordsman in years,” the creature said. “The touch of cold iron does tickle one so.”

“Yes, cut him up with your sword,” Parker said hotly. “Like butter. Melty, soft butter.”

“Shut up,” Anthony said. “Beatrice is right, we wait.”

Parker ignored him. “You hear the ghosts inside screaming? That was him. Slice and dice.”

The dog sat back on its haunches. “Is that so?” It sniffed the air. “Yes, they’re quite gone from this realm. Rare for a mere human weapon to do more than repel a spirit.”

“Parker!” Anthony shouted. “I said put a lid on it.” Parker almost retorted but thought better of it and glared instead.

“Spoilsport.” The creature stood and began to pace again. “He had all but told me the sword’s name, and then I would have had rich intelligence for my master. Still, I suppose Grant is clever enough to puzzle it out for himself.” It yawned again, and stretched, pawing idly at the circle as it did. “I shall tell him immediately, as well as inform him of your presence.”

Miranda grabbed Anthony’s arm. “We can’t let him get away. We’ll be sitting ducks!”

“It’s a bluff,” Anthony retorted. “He’ll just go invisible and wait for us to try to escape.”

The dog was already retreating, but paused to look back over its shoulder. “Perhaps. And then again, perhaps not.” It vanished into the trees as silently as it had appeared.

* * * * *

Part 22: Frying Pan

Broommates: Grant’s Tomb

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Part 20 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning or read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

* * * * *

As bleak as it had been during the day, at night the old cemetery was washed out under the light of the gibbous moon. All color had been leached away to leave mottled grays and whites, shadows pooling in corners and shifting as the moon moved through the sky. The newer graves were closer to the church and the road, as respectful distance succumbed to space constraints over time.

No shovel was needed; Grant was laid to rest in a family tomb barely within sight of the church, near a copse of trees at the far end of the grounds. After some argument about whether someone should go alone, or in a pair, and no Miranda most certainly would not stay behind thank you very much, it ended up that all five of them skulked about in dark clothes, hoping that no one was looking.

“Are you sure I can’t–” Parker began.

“No!” Miranda whispered. “No illusions. No magic. Grant’s probably laid alarms or traps for that. We can only hope he didn’t expect a more mundane approach.”

“Or that he hasn’t booby-trapped anything because he doesn’t want to draw attention.” Anthony tapped Kitty on the shoulder, and she squeaked. “Sorry,” he said. “See anything yet?”

She shook her head. “Just ghosts. They’re staying pretty far from the tomb, and from the trees.”

“Come on, then.”

The tomb itself was a stone mausoleum, with a single entry door flanked by Grecian columns. Slits carved in the stone on the front walls looked like windows, and the roof was pitched with a simple decorative border beneath. Bare trees reached bony branches toward the sky at regular intervals, but whether they were dead or dormant wasn’t apparent.

Miranda reached into her backpack and produced a packet of glow sticks, which she cracked one by one and distributed. Without a word, they stepped inside.

The first room was a kind of foyer, bare white marble starkly contrasted by a black obelisk in the center, figures carved into the slightly reflective stone. Anthony approached it, running the dim green light he carried over its surface.

“This isn’t any language I know,” he said. “Wish we’d brought Booker.”

“Not enough room in the car,” Miranda murmured, examining the carvings herself. “Looks like Enochian.”

“Do you speak it?”

“I don’t think anyone does.” She leaned closer, peering at the letters that were almost a cross between Greek and Cyrillic. “I had to learn to read it in school but that was years ago. Haven’t seen it since.”

Parker eyed her curiously. “Where did you go to school, anyway? Enochian wasn’t in our course catalogue.”

“Sherwood School for Girls,” Miranda answered primly. “Not that it’s any of your business.”

“Never heard of it.”

“I have,” Anthony said. Miranda frowned at him and he shrugged. “My mom went there.”

Before Miranda could ask, Beatrice held up her light. “Look.” She pointed at a door in the back of the room. Marble like the rest of the walls, but with the barest hint of an outline, and an elaborate iron lock.

“Allow me,” Parker said, producing a set of lock picks from the inside of his jacket.

“No magic, remember!”

He rolled his eyes. “I was doing this before I ever knew how to set a spell, princess prep school. Keep your pleated skirt on.” Within minutes, there was a muffled click and the door swung inward.

Inside was another simple room with a raised dais in the center. This one, however, had writing on the walls that on closer examination proved to be names.

“Bodies or ashes, I wonder?” Anthony whispered. The green light from their glow sticks cast eerie shadows even as it gave their skins a sick pallor.

Miranda searched the names for Grant’s, glancing up to see Kitty standing frozen in the doorway. “Kitty, what is it? What do you see? Is it his family?”

Kitty squeezed her eyes shut. “How could they?” she whispered. “Oh god, it’s disgusting.”

“We’ll be out in a second,” Anthony said soothingly. “We just need to find Grant. Can you see him? Is he here?”

“None of us know what he looks like, genius,” Parker muttered.

“They’re laughing again,” Kitty said. “He’s not here, not here, still not here after all these years… no, not us, too! It’s coming for us.”

The shadows seemed to close in around them, feeble light dimming even further.

“What’s coming?” Miranda asked.

“We have to get out!” Kitty backed away and the others, after exchanging a quick glance, followed her lead. The darkness had grown almost palpable, and now it thickened around them so that every step was more difficult than the last.

Outside, a mournful howl pierced the air.

* * * * *

Part 21: Black Dog

Broommates: Dead Again

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Part 19 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning or read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

* * * * *

“If you ask me whether we’re almost there yet one more time,” Miranda told Parker through gritted teeth, “I swear I’ll stick your voice in my pocket.”

Parker shifted his legs, which ached from the long ride. The back seat of Miranda’s car wasn’t made for someone his size, and his rear end had begun to complain a few minutes before he had. “You couldn’t pull a spell like that while driving,” he muttered.

As if being cramped wasn’t bad enough, he’d been stuck next to Kitty the whole time. Since the debacle with his now very likely ex-girlfriend, she had avoided him and he’d returned the favor. But as the smallest of the group, it made sense to put her in the middle of the back seat, between Parker and the even more enormous Beatrice. While the latter had slipped into some kind of meditative trance within minutes of leaving the house, everyone else endured an uncomfortable silence broken by occasional bursts of news radio.

Anthony twisted around in his seat to look at Parker. “We passed a sign ten minutes ago that said it would be thirty more miles. So we should be there in twenty minutes or so.”

Tapping his fingers on his knee, Parker stared out the window. Gently rolling green hills stared back along with the occasional herd of cows or horses. Thick swaths of kudzu draped every object that didn’t move, from trees to bushes to what were presumably fences underneath the leafy blankets, but might have been some especially lazy cows.

An old church passed into view, its walls whitewashed but faded like a sock after too much bleaching. Parker saw the big bell in the campanile swing back and forth and even fancied that he heard it ring for a moment. At their speed, it could only have been his imagination. People stepped inside, all of them dressed in dark clothes, including the ones who lifted a large wooden casket from the back of a waiting hearse.

He felt like he should do something, say a prayer or cross himself maybe, but Parker had never been one for religious spectacle. Instead, he closed his eyes and tried not to think about Kitty’s thigh pressed against his.

* * * * *
They parked in the lot behind a diner like something out of a movie. Truckers sat inside making slow work of greasy food and a constant stream of coffee. Young waitresses leaned forward to flash bare skin while older ones leaned back against the counter to rest their feet.

“I’m starving,” Parker announced. “You can all tool around in the Mystery Machine while I give my stomach some much-needed exercise.”

Miranda glanced at the doe-eyed waitress serving pie and smirked. “Just make sure you don’t eat with your eyes,” she said. “Anthony, you and Beatrice try the post office.”

Anthony gave a mock salute. “Yes, captain. We’ll see if we can’t get my poor old uncle’s address right, for my mum’s sake.”

“Could you be a worse liar?” Miranda asked. “Maybe you should wait until Parker finishes stuffing his face and let him try it.”

Anthony shook his head and stalked off, Beatrice following like a giant blond shadow.

“Right then, Kitty.” Miranda laid a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Are you sure you’re up to this?”

Kitty smiled. “It’s okay. This stuff is easy. Like riding a bike!”

You can get killed riding a bike, Miranda thought. “Good. Let’s go listen to some gossip.”

* * * * *
They reconvened at the diner an hour later.

“You’re not going to believe this,” Anthony said.

“Grant’s dead,” Parker interjected, casually scratching his nose. “I told the waitress I was in town to see him and she was very… sympathetic.”

Anthony pursed his lips. “Well then, Sherlock, did you happen to find out where they’re holding the funeral?”

“Kitty thinks it’s at a church about twenty miles back where we came from,” Miranda said. “The ghosts are flocking in that direction. She felt some movement earlier but didn’t know they were related.”

“Let’s get going, then,” Parker said. “Don’t want to miss the party.”

Frowning, Anthony trudged back to the car. “Next time, I’m staying in the diner and eating apple pie.”

“Blueberry, actually.”

* * * * *
The organist at the church was very sorry that they’d missed the service, but gave them excellent directions to the cemetery where the late John Preston Grant was to be buried. Within minutes they had parked on the outskirts of the old but tidy grounds, wary of moving too close to the funeral party for fear of attracting attention.

“Big crowd,” Miranda murmured. “I suppose he was well liked.”

Parker shook his head. “The waitress said he had a huge family. Loads of brothers and sisters, kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews… great big rutting band of breeders as far as the eye can see.”

“Thank you for that spectacular image.” Miranda pulled a pair of binoculars from her purse and trained them on the crowd. “Looks funerary enough. People crying, kids fidgeting, priest reading something out of a book.”

“So that’s it?” Parker asked. “Case closed, we’re in the clear, all’s well that ends with that bastard in the great beyond?”

“If you buy that,” Anthony said, “I’ve got a bridge to sell you.”

Miranda looked at Kitty. “Any ghostly rumors knocking around?”

The woman’s face was pale. “They’re so quiet,” Kitty whispered. “Watching. Waiting. Like they’re afraid he can hear them. And there are others…” She closed her eyes and a tear escaped. “He killed so many of them. But he had help. He still does.”

“Who?” Anthony asked. “His family?”

“Some of them, I think. And some… some of the dead. It’s terrible.” Another tear. “They’re… laughing.”

“That settles it,” Miranda said. “We wait for the party to break up, and later tonight, we pay our respects. With a shovel.”

* * * * *

Part 20: Grant’s Tomb