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A Santa Maria story
James M. Sullivan
Start from the beginning of the Santa Maria series
Bree heard the front door open and shut. She heaved herself up out of the chair and waddled to the front of the house, an expectant look on her face. Her face fell as she entered through the archway into the front hall. Standing at the door was her sister Melanie.
"Have you heard anything?" Bree asked, wringing her hands.
"No," Melanie answered while removing her sweater. "Don't you think I would have called you if I had heard anything?"
"Well, sure. Of course. Where have you been all day?"
"I had to do some promotional shots for the movie."
"What?" Bree shouted, her face twisted in anger. "Can't you get out of that crap? Our mother is missing and you're fucking working?"
"Bree, yelling isn't going to fix this. No, I can't get out of this. I have a contract. Also, it's my dream. Mom would want me to keep my dream alive."
"Please, Mel. Mom hates that you want to be actress and especially that you're doing horror flicks. What I think Mom would want is for you to get off you ass and find her."
Mel stared at her sister.
"What?" Bree asked.
"What? What the hell are you talking about?"
"Face it, Bree. She's missing in a town with a gruesome serial killer on the loose. She's way too responsible to have just gone off somewhere and forgotten to call. She wasn't reported in any of the car accidents and she isn't in the hospitals. Face it, Bree. She's dead."
"Fuck you, Mel. How dare you loose hope! If she were dead, I'd know. She's no more dead than you!"
"You're a dreamer Bree, a foolish optimist. I'm a realist. I can face the facts! There's very little chance she's alive and I'm not going to string myself along on a sliver of false hope. It's not my way."
"Mel! How can you give up on Mom! Maybe I am an optimist, but it's gotten me through. What's your style gotten you? You moved away and have a bit part in stupid slasher film."
Mel laughed. "It's fame, fool. All you've got in being knocked up and single, mourning your foolish high-school sweetheart who wasn't smart enough to run outside in an earthquake."
"Shut up, Mel! That's not h-" Bree stopped. Mel stared at her. "That's none of your concern. I'm sure he caught trying to help somebody, something someone as selfish as you could never understand."
"Oh trust me, Bree. I know about self-sacrifice. But let's not jump topics just yet. None of your concern was not what you were going to say." Bree frowned. "Why don't you tell me what you were going to say. Tell me your secrets, Bree. We can be sisters again, sharing our secrets. Tell me the truth."
"The truth, Mel is that you're a bitch and I want you out of this house. Now!"
"Fine, fine. Have your little woogie secrets. But this will all catch up with you, Bree. I was just coming by to help, but if you don't want me around, I can take a hint."
"I wanted your help this morning, or this afternoon. Not nine at night! Now get out, Mel!"
Melanie smiled a smug smile at her sister.
"Fine, I'm going," and with that she walked out the door, slamming it behind her.
Bree returned to her room, tears welling up in her eyes. She picked up the picture of Duncan that stood vigil on her nightstand.
Oh Duncan. I miss you. And I love you, too. I can't believe everything Diasuke had to say, but I want to believe you are still around. I will find away to talk to you, even if it is just to say goodbye.
She held the picture chest and cried.
Daphne pushed open the swinging door with her backside and entered the room, arms full of folders and various other papers. She turned and looked at her son sitting on the large sofa that dominated her living room.
"Just a minute, Mackenzie. Let me set these down and then we can talk." She crossed the room and placed the paperwork down on small desk. She turned and walked back to the couch while pulling the barrettes from her hair and shaking out the hairstyle her long hair had been coiffed into for presentation during public speaking. "I don't know how much more I can take. I hope you have good news." She half sat, half collapsed into the large chair across from the sofa. "These murders have to stop. People are frantic. There have been a couple attacks on kids with their hair dyed blue. It's just awful, Mackenzie. The citizens of Santa Maria are terrified and desperate which is a combination that only end in tragedy."
"I know, Mom. I don't really have good news though, I'm afraid. We have more information now, but also more questions. We now know were these creatures are coming from and that they aren't creatures of the spirit realm. Also, there is a storm in the spirit realm and how these creatures are coming here might be due to storm, but it is involved somehow."
"A storm? How bizarre. How are they connected?"
"Well, the creature that we fought that resulted in the earthquake, it. Well, it's there with this storm and it is sending the creatures through and then collecting the souls of those that they murder."
"That's just, well, ghastly. What can be done to stop it?" Daphne asked of her son.
"That would be one of the new questions. We have people looking into. In fact Rodina is taking a couple people to the Ghost Lord's Bethel to research that very thing. Our source said the storm likely could only be stopped from there."
"Is crossing the Ghost Lords going to cause any problems?"
"Well, they abandoned it when they city lost its power."
"Shame that. So many left and never have we needed supernatural help more."
"Well, you got me, Mom," Mac said with a silly, toothy grin.
"Don't remind me. I'm still not happy about your new role in all of this. I worry."
"Of course you worry, you're a mother. Try and think of it this way. I'm much better off having the Avatar bound with me. You can't get much more powerful than that. I'm going to be fine, Mom. You've got to believe in me."
"It's not a question in believing in you, Mackenzie. It's a matter of not trusting the evil in our world."
"Mom-" he was cut off by the ringing of a mobile phone.
"Sorry. I'm the mayor, I've gotta take it," his mother said with a apologetic smile. She retrieved the device from her pocket and flipped it open. "Nolan here." After a few minutes of listening she sighed. "Okay, fax me the details. I'll write something up for the morning press release. Thanks, Tom." With that, she hung up the phone and returned it to her pocket. "Another blue haired boy was attacked. I wish the damn press could have kept the fact that a suspect had blue hair. It just might be the first time that the punks have been chased and attacked."
"Don't stereotype, Mom. Lots of punks are just fine."
"Yes, dear. Now, unless there is anything else I need to write up a piece about how attacking blue haired boys in not in the best interest of anyone."
"Okay, Mom. I'll keep you posted." The both stood and embraced.
"Please, Mackenzie. Be safe."
"Always, Mom. You, too." He kissed her cheek and took his leave.
Melanie descended the hidden staircase and slid open the door at the end of them. She stepped into the brick room. On the wall across from the door hung an ornate mirror. In the corner to left of the mirror sat Helen Montgomery, tied and gagged. Melanie shut the door behind her and then walked over to her mother. Bending at the knees, she reached out for her mother's chin and brought her eyes to look at hers.
Helen choked out an unintelligible response around her gag.
"You'd be happy to know that your precious Bree hasn't given up hope. She insists that your still alive. Makes me sick. And I have to tell you, Mom, that I actually hadn't decided your fate until that point. It was her pompous, self-righteous attitude that sealed your fate. I've no choice really, but to kill you. Bree has to learn she's not always right. Maybe if she finds your mangled body, she'll stop being such a fucking cheerful optimist."
Helen began to sob. Melanie patted her mother on the head. "There, there, Mom. You should be happy that one of your daughters has made something of herself. Or course, I had to die to do it." She laughed and mother screamed through the gag and tried to pushed herself away from her youngest daughter. Melanie laughed more, and then licked one her now elongated canine teeth. "Oh yes, Mom. Did I forget to mention I was undead?" Melanie continues laughing while her mother tried desperately to scream through the cloth in her mouth. After a minute, Melanie stopped and righted herself. She approached the mirror and smiled.
The reflection in mirror wavered like disturbed water and as the reflected images rippled, they changed and in seconds the room's reflection was replaced with a man of pale white with long hair to match. His eyes were gray and piercing. He was possessed of an unearthly beauty.
"My liege," Melanie spoke to the image. "All is according to plan. The talisman is in my sweater pocket which is still Bree's home. The protections Rodina and the Avatar put on the house will no longer keep our friends out."
"Wonderful," the living statue spoke.
"I'm pleased the ritual worked and we are in communication again. It was lucky that Ilene had the spell I needed. After all, thinking of the Chroniclers had just been a hunch."
"Yes, very resourceful, Melanie. I am quite proud. Soon Santa Maria will be ours and I shall be free of this wretched prison."
"I cannot wait, my liege," Melanie said with a wide, fanged smile.
Bree finished wiping the tears away and returned the picture of Duncan to its place. She then headed to kitchen and began opening a can of olives.
In the shadows under the table, creatures crept forward. Bree drained the black olives unnoticed and then placed them in bowl. As she crossed to the refrigerator and removed half a cheesecake, the two of the creatures had advanced, huddled next to the stove. Two remained behind, crouched under the table.
As Bree sliced into the cake, the two by the stove pounced, shadowed claws extended. Bree screamed, wheeled around brandishing the pie server as a weapon. As the creatures came at her, she ducked. They careened unto the counter; sending the cake, bowl of olives and the cookie jar sailing up into the air.
Bree retreated, dropping the utensil and covering her belly with her arm protectively. She stood at the doorway and watched the creature's movements. They hissed at her and one jumped. She extended her hand out and waves of heat distortion erupted from her palm. The energy washed over the attacking creature and it exploded into inky black smoke. A second later the one on the counter experienced the same.
Bree scanned the room and spotted the other two and sent forth another assault. One exploded and the other scrambled into the shadows.
"Fuck," she said allowed.
Rodina, Diasuke, Everett and Jack Dandelion entered the hall of the Bethel, each in their own method ready for trouble. Diasuke with his katana drawn and poised to attack, Everett with an oddly shaped silver gun with a sphere set on the trigger end and lots of odd equipment hanging from his belt, Jack with fists clenched and silver medallion around his neck giving off a soft white glow, and Rodina, with a sparking red aura surrounding her right hand, which was stretched out before her.
They moved cautiously about the large, dusty room. Everett moved towards the large stairs, while Jack and Diasuke moved toward the wall of doors. Rodina moved to the center of the room and closed her eyes.
"Yes, there is a large source of power here and it could be feeding into the spirit realm as easily than into our world. It's possible it is doing both. We must locate the source and-" her eyes snapped open. "They're here."
And with her words, dozens of the creatures that had been terrorizing Santa Maria for months came pouring out of the shadows. Everett began firing a pale green beam from his gun. The auras of magic on Rodina and Jack grew to encompass their whole bodies. Diasuke lunged at the nearest creature and attacked. Rodina began shooting bright bolts of sunlight at the evil shadow beings.
When the sunlight or green beam hit their mark, the creatures howled in pain and recoiled. Diasuke's blade sliced through and severed limbs. Jack blinked in and out, appeared to strike out at one and then winking out again.
Try as they might, there were too many. Bleeding from the chest and left leg, Everett reached for his belt and grabbed a looped wire. He unfurled it, revealing a circle. It dropped it to the ground and stepped in.
"Come on everyone," he shouted, "there are too many. We need to teleport out!" Rodina made her way to the circle, which was now giving off a faint lavender glow. Jack appeared inside the circle. Diasuke however, was overcome by the creatures; he couldn't advance and they're claws were slashing at him more than not. Jack skipped once more to Diasuke and then back to the circle. Diasuke was covered in gashes and tears. Everett flipped open a small box on his belt and pressed a button. The glow of the circle flashed so bright the creatures retreated.
When the light went out, just the circle remained.
Jack carried a bloody Diasuke to the table as Everett rushed to pushed aside his sketches and partially constructed devices. Jack placed him on the table gingerly. Diasuke coughed and blood sprayed out of his mouth. Rodina raced to the table and closed her eyes. Only her hand was surrounded in red light again and she moved that hand over Diasuke's head and then down the length of his body.
"I'm sorry. There's nothin' I can do, darlin's. I'm so, so sorry."
"Fuck," Jack said under his breath. He winked out.
Diasuke started to shake. He reached out. Rodina took his hand.
"Darlin', I am so sorry. I promise you, we will stop this."
"I will still fight, Rodina."
"Shhhhh, darlin'. You just rest."
"No, please. You must take care of my sister."
"We will," chimed in Everett.
"Thank you," he sputtered and coughed again. He began to convulse. Everett ran to a cupboard and retrieved a syringe. He stabbed it into Diasuke and immediately the convulsing stopped.
"I just couldn't. He shouldn't have to suffer."
"I understand, darlin'"
Jack, Ant, and Rod all blinked in existence. Rod and Ant approached the table. They looked down and saw Diasuke torn and ripped, awash in his own blood.
"This must stop," Ant said quietly, shaking. Rod put his arm around him, tears spilling from his eyes.
Story by James M. Sullivan, Copyright 2008
Image by Rory Clark, Stopped Motion Photography, Copyright 2008