A Santa Maria story
James M. Sullivan
Start from the beginning of the Santa Maria series
Daphne Nolan slowly opened her eyes. She saw a quaint pastel drawing of a pale green vase filled with freesia. Just below it was wooden chair with an upholstered seat and back, which were beige and hunter green check. She turned her head and discovered a window framed with dark green curtains. Next her were various monitors and machines.
Oh Lord, I'm in the hospital. What happened?
"Hello? Please, I need to know Kyle and Mackenzie are safe." She tried to get out of bed, but winced with pain. A nurse entered the room. She was dressed in white pants with a baby blue short sleeved blouse. She looked to be in her forties. She had tan skin, dark eyes framed with tiny wrinkles and she had short dark brown hair touched with threads of gray. Her name tag read Anita R.
"Mrs. Nolan, please! Stay still. You had quite a nasty accident," she said, hurrying over to Daphne.
"They boys? Are they--"
"Mrs. Nolan, your son is fine. He was barely bumped in the car crash. He was very lucky. Your foster son Kyle is staying with your friend Rodrigo."
"Rodrigo? Yes, Rod. Okay, good. Please, may I call my son?"
"Yes, Mrs. Nolan." Anita moved around to bedside table and moved the phone onto the bed. "Here you go, Mrs. Nolan. You call your son and I'm going to go let Dr. Bloomberg know you are awake."
"How long was out?"
"A little over 17 hours, Mrs. Nolan," Anita said with a comforting smile. "I'll be back in a few minutes and I'll need to check your vitals and few other things. Please keep your phone call short." Anita smiled again. She then turned and left the room.
Daphne picked up the phone and dialed her son's number.
"Mackenzie, it's Mom."
"Mom, you're awake. That's stellar. How are you feeling?"
"Like I was in a car crash. What happened?"
"I'm not sure, the ghost I think. The Ghost Lords have her now. It was Miranda, Mom. Is Miranda. They are trying to help her to move on."
"Why would Miranda's ghost be protecting that beast? The giant wolf was a threat to her son Kyle. Has she been twisted around somehow? Is someone controlling her?"
"No, Mom. She's just a regular ol' restless dead. She was protecting the giant wolf because it's Joel."
"Mom, Joel is a werewolf. I know this is a lot to take in, especially considering your current state."
"Of course he is." She paused, "Look, Mackenzie, are you certain? Werewolves are part demon. This is a serious accusation."
"How do you know about werewolves?"
"There was a problem with one back when I was mayor the first go round."
"Oh. Well, then you know there is nothing to be done than to kill him. It's the only way to save him from himself."
"Mackenzie, that's not true. You can destroy the demon that created his lineage. Certain demons mate with humans creating a genetic line of werewolves. It is rare and recessive, but once a human turns, most of their time as a beast is the direct result of control from the demon they share a connection with."
"The Chatu-mu didn't mention anything about that, mom."
"Well, no, they wouldn't. There world view doesn't quite encompass this. To them a werewolf is man who has become one with an evil spirit, which is true. However if you destroy that spirit, or demon as we think of it, all of the werewolves descended from initial pairing of human and demon will be free. The problem is of course, destroying a demon. It isn't an easy thing, even for an Avatar."
"I'm amazed that you know all this, mom."
"Well, I did have a small bit of help from Rodina. She warned me something like this was going to happen. I mean, I had no idea that Joel would be a part of this, but... Look, Mackenzie we need to bring the Chroniclers in on this. They may have records that will indicate what demons could be associated with this area. We also need to start assembling people to fight. A demon cannot be killed alone."
"I will spread the news, mom. You just get better. I love you."
"I love you, too. Call me once you have let people know. Goodbye, Mackenzie."
She hung up the phone and sighed. "Rodena," she said aloud, "you really did know what you were talking about. I admit it, you were right."
When Anita R. came back into the room to run tests on Mrs. Nolan, she was gone.
Calliope sat with the ghost of Miranda Wilson.
"Please," the restless spirit wailed, "please let me go. I have to protect my son. Mackenzie Nolan is trying to kill him!"
"I cannot let you go, Ms. Wilson. Even if I wanted to. The power that holds you is far greater than I could control at this point in my training. I understand you are scared, but the Avatar isn't going to kill your son if he doesn't have to."
"My son is sick."
"I know, my mentor explained it to me. Your son actually tried to murder me. Do you know why he would do that?"
"I'm, I'm so sorry," the ghost whispered. "He's not himself. He's infected. Becomes a beast. He isn't in control. You're a lovely girl, I'm sure if he wasn't ill he'd be quite fond of you."
"Thank you. Look, I've met the Avatar and my friend is very close to his friends. I'm sure if there is anyway we can save your son, we will. Will you please trust us to do this? You need to move on across the sea to find peace, Ms. Wilson."
"I won't leave until my sons are safe."
Calliope sighed. "I understand, Ms. Wilson. I'm just an apprentice, but I promise to do what I can to help."
"Thank you. You are a kind girl."
A robed figure entered the room. "Calliope, Brady is here to see you."
"Thank you, Davis. Will you please keep Ms. Wilson company while I talk with him?"
"Of course," the robed figure replied.
"Ms. Wilson, I will be back shortly. Try not to worry."
The captured spirit nodded to the girl who stood and left the room. She walked down the hall and entered the waiting area of the bethel.
There was Brady, wearing his usual jeans and vest without a shirt. He smiled as soon as he saw her.
She crossed the room quickly and hugged him.
"Oh Brady, I feel just terrible lying to poor Miranda Wilson. She wants to save her son. How can I tell her the only way to save him is to kill him?"
Brady left his hands around her waist.
"Well, it looks like there may be another way. Mac has discovered that if we kill the demon responsible for making Joel a werewolf, he will be free from the curse. Isn't that great?"
"Well, yes. I suppose. I don't know much about demons, but I do know they are one of the most powerful forces on earth. It won't be something we can just easily do. Demons are much more potent than ghosts, even Eidolons."
"I know. Rod, I mean the Stewart, is coordinating things now. You and I will babysitting Helen, his daughter. All we have to do is keep a regular guy from her and that likely won't even come up. He's suing for custody."
"Oh, well I'd have to check with--"
"It's been handled. We should get going."
"Don't worry, Calliope. We're not Skipping. Nobody is since Ant was attacked."
The look of relief on her face was quite clear. "Is he going to be alright?"
"Yes, they think so. Everett and the lady from the Chroniclers are trying to identify the wound now. Most people think it's one of those proto-vampire spirit things that somehow got caught in the spaces in between."
"In between what?"
"Everything else, I guess. It's just what they call were we go when we Skip."
She nodded. "Okay, let's go."
Rod looked down at the package in disbelief. He hadn't bothered with it when it arrived, but now as he was waiting for people to assemble, he decided to busy himself with his mail. The picked it up and looked once again at the "From" label.
How can this be from Aubrey? She's been gone for over a year, taken back to the Land of Fae.
He tore at the plain brown paper. Beneath it was a plain white cardboard box. He set it down and opened the lid. The box fell apart and faded away. In its place was a small wooden chest with a brass lock. Ghostly figures surrounded by celestial symbols were burned into the lid. More astonishing was the bright light that floated above it.
"Rodrigo," a tiny voice tinkled from the orb of light. "You have been a friend to the Fae. You allowed me to come to this world to help my mortal kin and it is now time I repay you. Aubrey felt this would be of the most aid to you."
Rodrigo stood slack jawed.
"It is a relic of the Ghost Lords," the tiny voice continued. "You must use your gifts to enhance its power and then give it to the young Ghost Lord child."
"Wait, but. Thank you, but I mean, opening the gate was a fee itself. You don't owe me anything and Oliver died because of everything we did."
"Oliver was a seer and chose to embrace his fate, Rodrigo. You were punished for opening the gate. Let it never be said that the Fae do not repay kindness. Remember, boost its power and then give the chest to Calliope."
Then small twinkling like then sped off. Rod turned his head to follow, but it was gone. He looked down at the box and began to reach for it when someone pounded on the door.
He paused, then shouted "One moment." He then jogged to the door and opened. His laywer, Iris Arco, pushed passed him and entered the apartment.
"Is everything simpatico?" she asked, the concern evident in voice, even with her thick Latino accent. She looked around nervously.
"Yes, everything is fine, Iris. I'm sorry, but I'm very busy. Has there been a change in the case?"
"No, everything is the same. I just had a bad feeling. Is Helen okay?"
"Yes, she's fine. What's this all about?"
"Oh, it's nothing. Just a feeling. You know women sometimes get those maternal instincts. May I see Helen?"
"What? No. Iris, this is a little weird. Like I said, I'm busy," Rod said trying to maneuver Iris back towards the door. "I really need you to leave now."
"Not until I know baby Helen is alright." Her eyes narrowed with determination.
"Iris, what has gotten into you? You're beginning to creep me out. We hired you to make sure we keep custody of Helen, not to be some sort of rabid watchdog. Now please, go." Rod opened the front door for her.
"Rod, look, you may not understand this, but I sensed a foreign type of energy in your apartment. Helen is in much more trouble than just being awarded to a long lost relative."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Rod asked, disbelief washed across his face.
"Baby Helen is in grave danger. A demon is trying to gain control of her."
Story and image by James M. Sullivan, Copyright 2009