Once I got to the grave site I began to feel better. I sat down on the place where my wife was buried and I started cleaning up her memorial as I spoke to her in my mind.
‘I just dont know what to do, my love. I’m trapped. I try to fight against Zhubin and save whats left of our family. But I am not strong enough! I told you I would always protect our family, and I have tried. But no matter what I do Zhubin always finds a way to hold what I love the most hostage.’
“Damn him to hell for what he has done to you!” I whispered.
“Anyone I know?” I heard Zhubins voice echo behind me.
“Oh. Its you. Its funny! We were just talking about psychos and POOF! Just like that you appear! I guess its true then, when you speak of the devil . . .”
“OH SHUT UP YOU BLATHERING IDIOT.” Zhubin interrupted. “I have another assignment for your worthless ass. It has come to my attention that Asha is becoming too attached to you. THAT. Is something my plans cant afford.”
“To hell with you and your plans. I’m not leaving her to the likes of you. The only reason I let her work for you in the first place is . . .” I was about to continue but I was once again interrupted by Zhubin’s impatience.
“Why have you always been so difficult? I mean I never had such problems with your lovely wife!” just then a memory ghost appeared in the mist next to Zhubin and it took the form of my wife. Just standing there smiling in her wedding dress like the time I first saw her. My heart stopped for a moment as I saw her dark hair hang in long ringlets along her perfect white face. DAMNED GHOSTES! I hate the accuracy of the images. I hate how perfect they capture everything she was during the life that was stolen from her. Anger begins to build as I watch the ghost emulate my beautiful wife.
“My wife should have stood up to you sooner. Maybe then she wouldn’t be . . . “ I couldn’t bring myself to say the word “dead” even though I was painfully aware of this reality.
“That is where you are wrong I am afraid. You know I can’t spare the life of a rebel. If I did that then I would lose any and all prestige with my, um . . . colleagues and lose a great deal of power over the north region of the Americas as well as my safe holding in Paris and countless others. Really Ammon. I would think you would understand the ‘business policy’ by now. Once you belong to me, you are mine to do with as I will.”
“BULLSHIT! We are people too! We aren’t just your pathetic slaves and you know it. Asha means something to you and don’t try to deny it. It’s not a secret that you coddle her. But my question is ‘why’?” I saw Zhubin take a slow and steady breath in as he fought the urge to kill me then and there for my impudence. I know that only a “job” stood between me and being written off as another business casualty.
“You seem to forget who is the real benefactor of your longevity. I also have your name in my files Ammon. It would be wise if you didn’t push your luck. I still need Asha until she bares a child . . . but you? You like your sweet Tzaddi, will become obsolete far too soon unless you step in line, and do your job. I am letting you stay close to your pathetic little whelp just like you asked. But don’t mistake that coincidence with love, its proving to be a useful arrangement. Please, don’t make this . . . inconvenient.” Zhubin snarled. My stomach churned as I heard the truth in his words. My entire family and life has been nothing but a game of sport and business for him. Bastard.
“You Son of a . . .”
“Now, now, there is no need to try to insult me. Save that for after the honeymoon. Just go here.” Zhubin reached his hand out with a neatly printed card marked with someones name and address. I stared at his hand coldly. “Just take the bloody card! I have a new pupil for you. And this one is turning out to be quite the . . . spit-fire. If you will pardon my pun.” I sneered at his lame little joke. He found another human who could handle intense heat. Great. And now instead of actually getting to know his new monster he has to send someone else to do his dirty work.
I took the card. The address had an arizona zip code.
“Lovely! Now I get to be hot in a car that only has HEAT! That just makes everything better.” I said as I memorized the name and address.
“Oh quit whining. Take this.” he tossed a new set of keys at me. Welp. At least I get a new car out of this wild goose chase and hell at least I’m going someplace warm.
The ghosts dance around me taking forms of my wife and daughter and other shapes in the shadows that can only be described as horrific and obscenely gory. A battered soldier here, a torture victim there. And then something that seemed off amongst the brutality. An elderly woman with boney fingers, a crooked nose and . . . what looked like . . . iron teeth? I did a double take to check that last detail. No, I wasn’t imagining it. The old ghost of a crone had iron teeth. She hobbled around with her cane, and rocked back and forth in her rocking chair and then she would mutter something and then let out a cackle of a laugh.
After Zhubin gave me the new car he seemed to have vanished. Or maybe I was just distracted by a set of shiny new dentures. God, I AM old if dentures now distract me. The old crone crossed my path and I couldn’t help but have a little fun with this ghost.
“Hey sweetheart.” I said in the most seductive tone I could manage while looking at this form that probably could have been someone’s worst nightmare. The ghost paused at my comment. Ghosts and other poltergeists really don’t receive as much attention as they should. For this reason ghosts are a very lonely lot, and spend most of their miserable existence just reenacting the past, because . . . . Well, let’s face it. It’s not like they have a future.
“I was just admiring that beautiful smile of yours. You can’t be a day over twenty-two.” yea. I know. Its an old line, almost as old as the crone herself. But hell, I gotta have some fun in this line of work. The old crone hobbled toward me and sat down in her rocker and started muttering again. But this time she was so close I was able to make out most of what she said.
“How silly you are to seek such power,
you will now seek souls to devour,
from these souls you will gain life,
until a werewolf claims his wife.”
“Welp, that tops my creepy chart.” I whispered to myself. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting from my little game, but I can tell you 100% that WASNT it.
“Benjamin your name may be,
but Zhubin wilt thy soul set free,
if you don’t loose this spell
the werewolves son will begin thy trip to hell.” she cackled at the end of her poem. Or spell. Or whatever the hell that was.
‘Aaand the creepy award goes too. That old lady! She is by far the best ghost in the graveyard.’ I found myself thinking with an announcer’s voice like there was a prize for being the creepiest ghost anywhere. Although, it didn’t escape me that she had said the name Zhubin in her little poem.
Could she be a key to Zhubins’ past? Perhaps his mother? Hell, I think if I were raised by that I might be a manipulative fun sucking bastard too. Ah well. It really doesn’t matter who she was, shes dead now too. Besides being raised by an old bird that spoke in riddles and poems is really no reason to be so cold anyway. You decide who you are going to be, not your parents or your grandparents. You and only you can decide who you are and on what moral ground you want to stand on. Blaming anyone for how you turned out is really a load of bullshit because you could have changed it at any time.
I don’t know what Zhubin expects me to do with this new Pyro-kid of his. I mean I can train him no problem but what the heck is he going to do with a flame-boy? He has Death, water, Air, earth, and likely others I don’t even know about. I have tried to warn them all against doing Zhubins’ bidding but as with all youngsters they don’t listen. They are only looking for that fast buck and they don’t really care who get hurt as long as they get their pay. Well, most of them. Except Asha. Asha takes every kill personally. She blames herself for the loss of life even when she has no other choice but to follow orders. It kills her inside every time she has to walk through her dream state.
God. I hate watching that kid suffer. She has kept this up for such a long time but yet her conscience won’t let her just think about it as another “job”. It kinda makes me think that I raised her right. I don’t know how. But she still turned out to be a good kid. A little repressed maybe, but hell, who isn’t?
I finally make it out of the cemetery and pass the gargoyles once again. I need some coffee. I cant drive to the other side of the Country without something to pick me up. I get into my new car. A new minted sports car from the looks of it. I wonder where he stole this one from. He certainly didn’t PAY for it. Who in their right mind pays for a Porsche anyway? That’s a fast road to “I sold my soul to the bank but gosh its purdy.”. It had an indigo exterior with a light brown oxford leather interior that felt as soft as a babies butt and it was accompanied with a leather covered stick shift on the floor. I started her up and she came to life in a second. Damn. For all the things I don’t like about Zhubin at least he has good taste in cars.
I knew, of course, that I was going to have to ditch this hot rod in the next state over. It’s too flashy for the things we do. Besides someone out there is probably shelling out top dollar just to get this sucker back.
I backed the car up and left the cemetery. I actually kind of wish that damned gargoyl had been right. Even dealing with vamps would have been better than getting a new “assignment”. Like I need more responsibility.
Just then I saw headlights flash in my rear view mirror. No one. And I mean NO ONE would ever come to this cemetery this early in the morning. No one grieves in a cemetery that’s meant for the supernatural world during the day. And no one who isnt already caught up in that world would dare show up before the ghostes are tucked back in their tombs. The hair on the back of my neck began to rise. Something tells me that they aren’t here to prune the roses. I quickly shift into first gear and start driving. The swerves and turns as the driver adjusts his wheel. They are chasing me! The hell?
I only assume that these guys are part of the horde of people that the rich guy called to get his car back. Dear god, I hope zhubin didn’t rip this off of the mafia.
The car behind me rolls down its windows as leans out and starts shooting. Nope. Not after the car. These guys don’t give two rat tails about the damned car. I don’t know what these assholes want but I have no intention of stopping this car to find out. I take a random dirt road to the left of the cemetery and push my foot down until the back tires swerve a little on the road. I struggle with shifting the gears fast enough as I push the car to go faster. I don’t know what kind of car these guys have but its fabulous for this line of. . . DEER!!!!!!!!!!!