“So what you’re saying is?”
From a folding metal chair that he was sitting on in a room in an abandoned hanger building, Colonel Marcus Powell looked at Allison Hoffman, who was also sitting on one of these ragtag chairs, and he said, “You didn’t kill Ralph Richards.”
“But I threw out all of the light energy that I could at that prick. I literally saw it going out of my body and toward the spirit. I lost two of my friends as a result of the explosion.”
“I know. You’re not a bull shitter. That’s why you’re here, working with all of us to solve our mutual problems.”
“You just watched the video feed of me doing it again, out there in the desert of wherever the hell we are.”
“You saw me incinerate the test site.”
“So how didn’t I kill him if I blew the hell out of that area?”
“Your weapon is like a nuclear bomb, but smaller, and it doesn’t emit nuclear radiation, though it does have a concentrated blast source and a lot of thermal heat, plus a lot of light. It also has a special substance seen only in paranormal explosions.”
“How do you know that?”
“We’ve been working on this stuff for a while.”
“Essentially, our scientists were able to determine that you only put off a fair bit of contained energy at the site in the form of thermal heat and blast strength, plus that extreme light.”
“You’re telling me what I already know.”
“It all came back to a simple thing really: the windows.”
“We speculated that this was the case, but we had to be sure.”
“So how about you tell me how this is.”
“The windows were still standing. From where you unleashed your mind power, a blast that would have been big enough to neutralize a developed and aggressive poltergeist would be something in the neighborhood of 500 pounds of TNT. That would have taken the building to dust or at least necessitated screen windows.”
“And you know this because of?
“Tests we did with other people who have these powers and who have used them on angry ghosts.”
“So I’m not the only one you’re studying like a lab rat?”
“Of course not. We don’t place all of our eggs in one basket.”
“But if I didn’t do it, then who did?”
“Why would he kill Ralph?”
“Well, he didn’t do it alone. You helped him. Neither one of you were strong enough alone, but you could do it together, so when he saw you getting ready to do it, he jumped in the game to help out.”
“What did he use?”
“We’re assuming something that got inside of Richards’ mind. It crushed his will to resist and made him more susceptible. Simply put, Kaldac crushed his inner strength while you tore through his outer frame.”
“That’s quite a one-two punch.”
“Yes, especially since we know that Kaldac can forcefully speak to people who cause problems for him.”
“But why would he kill his faithful servant?”
“The curse punished them to walk this ground together. If they weren’t together anymore, then the curse didn’t work. It’s kind of a supernatural loophole.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Neither did we, but apparently, Kaldac’s gamble worked so right now, we have the brother of Bsoashavic looking to regain contact with his demonic family in an effort to control the souls of these two sacrificed children’s spirits.”
“You’ll have to bring me up to speed.”
“All in due time.”
Melissa Silver looked back into the burning brothel that once housed her livelihood. Even before the boards of the saloon turned into a raging inferno, she knew that she should have never conspired with Bob Clifford, the head of the Ford Silver Mine, and Leon Durham, the town sheriff, in order to bring Ralph Richards to justice. Even with a posse of company men and law enforcement types, Richards had that demon on his side. She knew the beast’s power because she once found herself in allegiance with it, too. Now, the witch knew that she had to get away from this destruction forever. However, before she could follow her destiny, she had to lay a curse to both Richards and Kaldac, which would imprison them to this land together for all time’s sake.
“As long as you both shall walk this earth, you will be bound to these grounds of Eureka, Nevada. Your forms will stay with these ashes, and you will be trapped here,” she said, betraying her former master and his extreme demands to chain it and his henchman to the desert nothing.
Melissa knew there were always ways for curses to be broken, but in 1879, she would take her chances that nobody who had those powers would come there to do this for a long time. Sure, there were other witches. She herself was one. There were also men who would willingly choose to serve Satan and his minions. She led Ralph to become one. Nevertheless, there were degrees of allegiance to the darkness, and there were some things that she just couldn’t do. Ralph had no filter for what he wouldn’t do. This scared her, and she never spooked.
She just had to get away from these things, but where and how? Then she remembered their discussion of the twins in Blackrock Canyon. They too were cursed by time, but maybe she could use her powers to break that curse or to find someone else who could help her.
Until then, she had other places that she had to go in order to get away from the duo. Right now, she had a date with another miner named Franklin Urban, who was going to help her escape from the town and start anew in Utah. She would be close enough, but far away from the twins when the time came. Franklin would assist her in being ready to fulfill this endeavor. In return, she would have to give him a place at the table and a share of the wealth and her “love,” but with help, all things were possible. Until then, she would be rid of Ralph Richards and Kaldac.
“So how much power do I have?”
“Well, based on the strength of your actions in the desert this morning, I’m thinking about the equivalent of a hundred pounds of TNT, but it’s all concentrated in that the blast is contained around your target and about a ten-yard circle surrounding him.”
“I don’t understand how it couldn’t be strong enough.”
“That’s what we need you and the others to confer on. How can you pack more of a punch with your mind energy? I don’t need an answer now, but I need you to think about it.”
“Either way, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
“That’s why you’ll have others to talk to. We have one woman who set off what was the equivalent of a kiloton nuke in the astral world while all the while protecting herself from so much as a scratch.”
“I assume that’s really good.”
“She never did it before. It would seem she’s a natural.”
“Yeah, that’s also what I said.”
“So where is Kaldac?”
“He’s free, and he’s already in southeastern Utah.”
“But how did he get there?”
“It seems Tim Wesley gave him a ride when the curse ended.”
“Where’s Tim now?”
“He was disposed of permanently. I think we all knew that it would come to this when he went missing, but we didn’t think he’d be found so closely to Blackrock Canyon. That means that Kaldac is planning for the next stage of this war.”
“The end of the world.”
The beat-up old 1976 mint green Chevy Nova pulled off the side of Hovenweep Road. Looking at his companion, the driver, a nearly sixty-year old Native American, informed his wife it was time for a bathroom break. She looked at him with annoyance that he couldn’t wait to get back to their house, but he informed her that nature was calling, and he was answering, even if it was here on a roadside in the middle of nowhere.
As the man walked away from the road, he spied what seemed like a person lying down in the desert brush. The body was about thirty feet away, so he tried to ascertain what it was in the morning heat. As he did, instantly, his thoughts transferred from needing to water the weeds to seeing what this was.
“What the hell are you doing, John? Hurry up. I want to go home and watch The Steve Wilkos Show.”
“Shut up, will you? I think I see something?”
“Well, what is it?”
“I think it’s a person sleeping, but that can’t be. Who the hell is sleeping out in the open on a hot July day?”
“Sleeping or passed out?”
“Well,” he said moving to what he clearly saw was a person. “I’m not sure. Hey, mister?”
The body didn’t move, so the man put his boot on the body’s shoulder and shook the man’s body hard enough that he would wake up, but not too hard in that he would hurt him. The man still didn’t move, so John knelt at the body’s side.
“Be careful with these drunks, John.”
John rolled the body over, and saw the hollow expression of death on the body’s face.
“Linda, I think we need to call your brother. This guy is dead.”
Calling a local policeman was all they could do since no amount of medical treatment was going to save this man. However, the authorities of the Navajo Nation would be able to at least find out who this misplaced guy with his flashy West Coast style suit was. Even if they couldn’t do that without American police, they would at least be able to take care of his corpse before the buzzards did.
For all that they didn’t know, two things were certain: this man definitely wasn’t from around here and he didn’t appear to be murdered, if the lack of blood meant anything to all of this.
“Are you familiar with a woman by the name of Anne Kline?”
“Annie?” Allison asked.
“Yes, she’s the one. She’s here with us, too.”
“But she has to be about seventy-five now. What can she do to help with this?”
“She can teach you, and she can also confer with you on other issues.”
“Issues like what?”
“She taught a woman by the name of Susan Heilman a little over a decade ago. Are you familiar with her?”
“I’m sorry, Marcus. I don’t know her.”
“That’s OK. We do. We’ve been keeping an eye on her for a while. She’s in Moab, which isn’t far from the ultimate destination of where you’re going.”
“Blackrock Canyon. Did you ever hear of it?”
“Isn’t that the archaeological place in southeastern Utah?”
“One and the same. You know your news. That’s more than I can say for Ernie.”
“The cliff dwellings never were his thing.”
“Well they’re this gal Suzie’s thing, and seeing as she sets off mind bombs in the astral world, we’d like to know more about her.”
“So why didn’t you bring her in to talk about them and protect her from whatever is out there?”
“We need her to stay hidden from the demonic forces and the men who are working with them.”
“But isn’t she in danger?”
“Not really. In fact, she’s safer there. Besides, astral bombs, remember?”
“I’d think that because those things are after her, they would be a little bit more than the average astral realms evil spirit. Am I right?”
“Apparently not. Annie can help you understand.”
“The last time I saw her, she couldn’t even help herself.”
“She does have her issues. A lot of people in your profession do, no offense.”
“None taken, dickhead.”
He laughed at her, and then said, “With all of the hucksters and freaks, we ruled out a lot of people quickly. How did you ever end up with a pair of con artists like Lee and Maggie?”
“Opportunity to be in active spots and to get paid. They did their game, and I gave them what I could. I also got real experience. Most of my stuff was subtle and not fit for television, but it was real.”
“We know. Annie told us so.”
“So then she’s doing better than the drugs and abusive relationships that she was in.”
“No, not at all.”
“Because she’s been ingesting some serious new drugs.”
“Hallucinogenic drugs now. Well, that and pot. Our main interest is something weird out of Mexico. It’s called Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
“You want to keep her clean?”
“Actually, we want to monitor her while she uses it. There are some really wild effects in it. When it comes to psychic abilities, this stuff accentuates the hell out of them.”
“Is this some CIA LSD experiment?”
“Not at all.”
“And you’re saying these psychic and hallucinogenic properties are real? I mean Nostradamus had an apothecary background going into his clairvoyant days. I’m sure I can see some pretty wild stuff on those substances, too, but that doesn’t make them real. If you’re this worried about fakers, how do you know Annie is real?”
“I assure you, her psychic ability is on the up and up. She may be a mess of a woman when it comes to relationships and issues with chemicals, but she’s already predicting things we can confirm.”
“Above top secret. Sorry.”
Allison looked at him with anger.
“You’re not going to get more out of me than I want to tell you.”
“Can you at least tell me where I am?”
“You’re in Nevada.”
“Is this Area 51?”
Powell smiled, and then he spoke again.
“We’ve been keeping close tabs on Annie. She’s off the charts with her memories of what she dreams and daydreams.”
“That’s something, but is she safe? How bad is this stuff?”
“She is safe now, and we can’t be sure how safe the stuff is. When we brought her in, we made the decision that she would do Our Lady of Guadalupe with or without our blessing. We wanted the data, so if we can get as much as we can… then we had to greenlight it.”
“Fair enough, I guess. As for this Suzie, how are you watching her? Does she know?”
“She is not aware, at least in the fact she hasn’t let on regarding preventative measures at avoiding us. As for the surveillance, we have insiders in the police department in Moab. There is one in particular who can make what we need to happen occur.”
“And he’s who?”
“Right now, that’s on a need to know basis, too, and while you will eventually need to know, you don’t need to know now.”
“I don’t understand that either.”
“It could be days before that need to know happens. If someone finds you and captures you, you could divulge his secrecy. We’ll tell you when you shake hands with him.”
“But what if I’m captured after that? I could still give away details.”
“Trust me; you won’t be captured.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Think about it, Allison. The demons who are interested in all of us will be destroying the world when we rendezvous with the police in Moab. They won’t need information because they’ll be strong enough to kill everyone, you and me included.”
“That’s what I said.”
“So what do we do to make sure that doesn’t happen?”
“A good place to start is working with Annie about what the two of you know and what Suzie knew or could know as based on her training with Annie.”
“But that was ages ago. She could have met many teachers since then.”
“I know because she has; however, this will at least give us a baseline reading to go on. We’ll just run some fancy regression analysis on our computers, and then we can estimate.”
“Even military paranormal investigators use statistics. I guess I should have taken my class more seriously.”
“You should have,” Powell said smiling. “But then you wouldn’t be helping us now.”
“So it’s us three real women against the world with Gilly and Ernie backing us up with Atomic 2000 Squirt Blasters.”
“Not really. The two of them are being trained with real weapons.”
“Are they here, too? Can I see them?”
“No and no. There’s a reason that we split you up. Different people need different training in different places. You’ll be together really soon. I promise.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
“And I will bring you all together, really,” he replied. “But right now, we have other things to do.”
“So tell me how do bullets work against things that aren’t living? That’s why we went with the holy water guns.”
“We’ll have holy water for some things, but they’ll use specialty bullets against the demons.”
“I know there are rounds for guns, like Hydra-Shok for pistol ammunition, but what can that do against demons?”
“What does an aging hippie psychic know about that kind of ammunition?”
“Strangely, I seem to attract a lot of men who want to hunt monsters, so I hear these things when they try to recruit me?”
“You don’t let them?”
“That would be a deathwish.”
“Probably a valid point. All the same, we won’t be using those. Let’s just say there are certain holy relics, which can be cut down and melted into the tips of ammunition.”
“But isn’t that desecration?”
“Maybe, but we have Vatican approval to do what we need to do. Besides, the church is about the power of God. These things are best used to eliminate Satan’s power on earth. We’re doing what we have to do with the limited resources we have available.”
Allison sat in stunned silence
“I know. That’s what I said, too.”
“With all our similar expressions, you’d think we came from the same mother.”
“But those holy relic things; I can only imagine they’re one of a kind and priceless,” Allison added.
“Allison, life on earth is more priceless and valuable than anything we’ve recovered. Without these things, we don’t stand a chance.”
“That was my remark, too.”
Raymond Stoltzfus looked at Gilly and Ernie, and he smiled.
“I’m glad to see you’re a natural with the guns.”
“Thanks, but what’s an Amish guy doing training people for combat with demons?”
“What’s a British guy doing in America pretending to look for ghosts?” the man said back at Ernie.
“Good point, but we weren’t pretending.”
“That’s not what I heard, though I did hear that pretending for the camera pays well. Maybe you can train me when we’re done with this mission. I’d rather make bank that risk my neck day in and day out.”
“We were looking, but we did elaborate things from time to time. However, we can hold our own when the chips are down. That’s for sure,” Gilly said.
“That’s why you’re here. You were looking, and you did deal with a certain particularly nasty being. You almost beat him.”
“So that says we can take care of ourselves when the game is on the line,” Ernie said.
“No, it means that you got lucky, but we figured it was easier to train you and offer you a shot at revenge than just kill you outright and have to dig a hole.”
“So what does the training consist of?” Gilly asked.
“Handguns, sniper rifles, shotguns, and hand to hand combat briefly. That and you get to work out in the gym to stay fit while avoiding the legal entanglements of what’s going on back in Eureka.”
“Why only brief hand to hand combat training?” Ernie asked.
“Well, gentlemen, this is where I give you the bad news. If you go hand to hand with a demon, you will die. We try to stay far enough away that we can take carefully placed shots at them. All hand to hand will do is give you a chance to keep them away from us while we run like hell in the other direction.”
“That’s messed up,” Ernie replied.
“I’m going to say this the hip way, gentlemen. I’m all about keeping it real. There’s no point lying to you. You’d find out soon enough anyway.”
“Is there any way to refuse this job offer now that we accepted?” Gilly asked.
“You know the answer to that.”
“That’s what I thought,” Gilly laughed.
“So what’s a regular guy like you doing here?” Ernie asked.
“I made the mistake of helping to rescue a downed UFO a few years ago. We got it out of the woods, and a man named Bart Doherty recruited me and some of the other guys for this little circus sideshow. It was kind of hard to go back to farming in Big Valley when I saw dead alien bodies being carted out of the Pennsylvania mountains in pickup trucks.”
The two men looked at him.
“Are you for real?” Gilly asked.
“As real as you are with fighting demons in close quarters with squirt rifles filled with holy water.”
“Awesome!” Gilly replied and slapped the man with a big high five.
“You’re a unique bloke,” Ernie added. “Now can you tell me when we get to use those M-16s.”
“I thought you’d never ask.”