It took me forever, and it’s entirely too long, but here is chapter 50 of the Fiction Relay. If you haven’t been following along, it might be a bit confusing, but that’s exactly why the originator of the story, The Reclining Gentleman, aka TRG, aka Boss, made us an awesome summary page, right here. There is also the Home Page of the relay, here. If you’re interested in learning more about the Relayers, or the Relay, that’s the place to look. I hope you enjoy my little chapter, and visit the other Relayers to keep up on the story as well. With no further delay…Chapter 50.
In the car, staring at the statue that had (Temporarily!!) become her Master, Melissa seethed. In her mind she kicked and pouted, sizzling with anger…and a touch of fright. **Let Me Go! Let Me Go, You…You…You Damn Dog!!** But kick and fight as she would, her body remained under total control…and IT wanted into that mountain. Wanted it with a fury that was stronger than anything Melissa had ever felt, greater than anything she’d ever known existed. Keeping the feeling as deep inside her as she could, down where she kept her true thoughts about her sister…down where even -she- didn’t go…Melissa shivered in fear.
When the Voice spoke in his head, Raj’s mangled rotted body -almost- jumped in surprise…but before he could celebrate the new ability, there came a G*R*O*W*L that not only got his notice, but caused him to reflexively attempt to stand (Well, sit…) at attention. His head throbbed with pain, and the Voice seemed to bounce around it like an empty cavern.
“Raj! Born Khalid, son of Elijah, son of Rhashid, son of Achmed…etc, etc, etc…you will listen to me! You will obey Me! You are M*I*N*E!!”
Raj attempted to nod, or bow, or show his total assent in some other way…until he felt a warmth that cradled his body, and a voice…The Voice…spoke gently into his mind. “You are mine. Since your birth, you were mine. Son of a long line, son of my choosing…do not fear. When the time comes, you will know what to do. You will be -able- to do what needs doing. *I* promise you…” The Voice faded, but the warmth remained. Raj…no, Khalid…could feel it seeping into every dead bone, caressing every muscle and nerve…could feel himself coming back…back from the dead! The terrible smile that had never left his face took on a feral look, echoed in his eyes as the film cleared, leaving them bright once more.
Blue wasn’t afraid until she realized that she could feel no moving air in the tiny cavern. She quickly controlled the quick shiver that shot through her, hoping to hide the fact from Spencer…until his voice came nuzzling into her mind. *I know, babe. I know. Don’t worry. Between the two of us, what chance has some old mountain got?*
She grinned, there in the darkness, and carefully turned toward him. She could feel him grin back…until she smothered the grin with her lips, kissing him over and over again until his laughing thoughts cut through. *Enough, love. Enough, babe. We’ll use up the air that way!*
Defiantly, she straightened up, laying one hand on his beloved face. “Maybe that’s the way I -want- to go out…with you…” She shivered in the outpouring of love that filled the mental space between them…and blinked as it began to pour out into the cavern, as well.
Instinctively turning to Spence, to see if he felt it as well, she saw the look in his eyes…and realized that the cavern was lighting up! Slowly the soft blue light trickled down the walls, a soft, net-like pattern of threads. As they watched in wonder, Spence holding Blue against him, for comfort as well as protection, slowly and gently the “net” covered the walls.
What it showed, however, was not encouraging. The room/cavern was smaller than they had thought, and had no exit, as they had surmised. It was round, like a dome, or an ice-cream scoop, Blue thought irreverently, making Spencer smile and playfully ruffle her beautiful turqoise hair.
When the laugh-almost-cackle sounded from behind them, they both jumped automatically into combat mood, looking toward the sound…and blinked at what they saw.
Standing in front of them was an incredibly old woman, just finished laughing…and looking as if she might start again at the looks on their faces. “Whoo-ie! You all look as if I be de old Baron hisself!”
When she spoke they could see that she was mostly toothless…but the ones she had left had been sharpened razor sharp…as had the nails on her arthritic looking hands.
Typically, Blue took the lead. “Who the hell are you? Did you put us here?” If not for Spence’s quick hand on her belt she’d have tried to jump at the old woman right then. *Whatthehell, Spence? I almost had her!*
Smiling placatingly at the woman, he gripped Blues belt harder. *I…really don’t think so, babe. Just wait for my lead…please.*
*Ok, but you better be right.*
“I’m sorry…she’s a bit jumpy right now. By the way, thanks for the light…is there anyway you could add some oxygen?”
The woman blinked…and chuckled. “Sweet boy…for one ting, you no need de air no more; for ‘nother, there been air here de whole time, you just no feel it.”
“What…do you mean, I don’t “need” air anymore?” Blue sent him a comforting hug, and glared at their visitor.
“I mean what I say, sweet boy…you and you twin sistah theah got no need to breathe, less y’all wanna…” She grinned, mischievously.
This time it was Blue, of course. “You are some kinda crazy, lady…and if you, whatever you are, don’t get us out of here right now, Spence isn’t going to be able to hold me back!”
The grin dropped from the old womans face, and she shook her head before speaking. “Dis always de way. You need some kinda proof, yeah? Well, for one ting…I no make dis here hole…he do.” She nodded toward Spencer, as he gaped. “I…what?”
*She’s trying to confuse you, babe…don’t listen.* The old woman just grinned and nodded to Spence, who was still reeling from her previous statement. “-You- scoop this here hole outta you mama, boy! Jus’you!” With another disturbing laugh, she pulled something small off of her ratty old sweater, and threw it at the wall behind them, causing a flare of light from the “web”. When they turned back, she was gone.
*What…the…holy-hand-grenade…was that??” Spences words, and the baffled frustrated look on his face caused Blue to burst into gales of giggles. *I’m sorry, hon…I’m…just…” She sent him a picture of himself from her viewpoint…and he cracked up as well. Tension release or just exhaustion kept the giggles coming, until both slid down to sit on the cavern floor with a thump, leaning back to back.
Still shaking with adrenaline (and giggles), Blue slid to the floor of the little cavern…only to jump up with an undignified screech and a disgusted look. “Yuck! There’s about a billion spiders in here!”
In the soft radiance of the light “web” it was difficult for Spence to see, but as he watched, the floor seemed to ripple under him as hundreds of tiny spiders moved across it. Only the fact that they didn’t seem to be interested in the humans, weren’t doing more than moving across the floor, kept him still.
“Wait…where are they all going? There’s no way out…” Blue shivered as she pressed against him, eyes locked onto the rippling floor. “Out, hell…how the fuck did they get -in-?” With one swift move, Spence got to his feet, ignoring the crunching sound. “Just a sec…I need to see something.”
Watching the exodus of the spiders, Spence determined the direction of the flood and moved carefully toward that “wall”. Reaching one hand toward the light web, he realized that it too was crawling. This was the spiders destination. At first, he was dissappointed that the insects hadn’t found some hidden exit…then he looked again. “Hey, babe…whaddya think of that?”
Blue glanced toward the wall, then back to the floor to keep her watchful vigil against the tiny predators. “So they’re climbing the walls, so what? Lemme know when they spell out “Some Pig” ok?” He shook his head, watching as the spiders continued to crawl up the “web” in disciplined patterns, covering the lines, the web blackening and falling off as they advanced. “I don’t know…it doesn’t look threatening…but what the hell are they…”
Wonderingly, Spence put out one hand, touching the darkened outlines where the web had fallen off as the spiders continued their march. Forming two lines up the side of the wall, about door width, they continued upward until they met at the top…forming a perfect arch. As the last point of the arch was completed, there was a loud “SNAP” sound and an electric ozone-ish smell and the “web” flared up, almost daylight bright…and the patter of tiny hard bodies could be heard as all the spiders were flung off of the lines to land on the cavern floor, unmoving.
The warm blue light of the web now flared eye-searing turquoise, snapping angry sounds tracing all around the room…except for the solid arch of blackness that marred its perfection. Spence carefully moved his hand toward the darkened portion of wall…grinning as he felt an opening in the rock, and a cold breath of moving air outside it. “Hey, babe…I think our ride’s here…”
Meanwhile, back at the ranch..(ahem)…I mean Doom Room…our three heroes picked their jaws up off the floor and stared at “Jose”. Ephraims hand shot out just in time, snagging Sams collar just as he leapt toward Elijah with an incoherent snarl. “Sam! Don’t…” The currently ex-policeman kept his hand wrapped tightly around the leather of Sams jacket and shook his head, glaring at the man standing before them, arms wrapped around himself as if cold. “That just feeds into his bullshit…we all know that none of us would allow Sammy, aka “Blue”, to get in harms way.”
“Ha!” The highly amused snort from the doorway caused all three to whirl, and Elijah/Jose to pale…an impressive feat for either of them. The woman standing in the door was neither young nor old, neither dark nor pale..in fact, she seemed to be difficult to focus on, as if protected behind a screen of fog or dust. Her voice was similarly neutral in pitch as she spoke to the visibly shaken Elijah.
“You been a bahd boy, child. Tryin’t protect that sweet rascal grandchild of yours…let me -tell- you. You know that lil gal gon’kick your bony ahss if she catch you, yah?” She put her hands on her hips, glaring toward him, tapping one foot. “Well?” She snorts in disgust as he continues to stare at the floor, miserably. “We done here..go home!” She waves one hand in his direction, and with a startled look, he pops out of sight. “You just cahn’t get good help these days…”
Turning back toward the others, her manner seems to soften greatly, and she smiles. “H’lo, children! Apologies for my manners…you can call me Aunt Nancy. I’ve just been t’see your sweet daughter and her cousin…they doin’fine, so don’t you fret…it’s here that the danger comes!” She watches, amused, as Ephraim releases Sams collar and they step toward her, both instinctively moving to guard Meagan. “The strong protectors…good. You gonna need them…”
“What are you talking about? Is this about the “witches”, whatever that’s about?” Meagans voice shakes as she attempts to push her way through the wall of strength that is Sam and Ephraim. “And where is my daughter? I need to see her!”
“Aunt Nancy” shakes her head, her softly accented voice gentle. “Patience, child. She is needed, right this minute…but you will be together soon enough. As for Coyote and his little “army”…I ‘spect that Mama T will be able to handle them until you have done what you must.” Suddenly she whirls, turning toward the door of the room.
“Uh-oh…company!” Her voice gaining the rougher texture of a male, “she” begins to back toward the rear wall of the cavern, eyes wide and aimed at the door. “Sorry, kids…y’all on your own! Thank you for flying Air Ananzi, the exits are here-here-here-here-everywhere…and we’d recommend you take one!” This said, she/he seems to shimmer, and on the floor is a puddle of tiny black spiders which make a quick retreat toward the far wall.
Ephraim curses, turning toward the door, while Sam moves to stand beside Meagan. The door is tightly shut, as it had been…but as he watches, a soft “fumf” sound can be heard, and they watch, warily, as two figures appear before it. Meagans eyes widen, and her voice shakes as she takes a step forward… “Mellie? Khalid? W-what?”
Melissa curses as she stumbles forward, the limp blanket-wrapped form of Raj falling to the floor beside her, and some sort of statue in her arms. “What the fuck? What did you do? Never mind…not important. Just put me back, now!” Taking one angry step toward them, she stumbles again as a dark-skinned hand shoots out from beneath the blanket and grabs her by the ankle.
With a quick, vicious tug, Raj knocks the off-balance Melissa to the floor, causing the statue to fly from her hands and shatter near Meagans feet. A greasy looking smoke begins to billow from it, and the three back up, eyes wide and coughing. Melissa kicks free, scrambling to her feet, and backing toward the door, eyes wide and frightened. With a snarl that Blue would have recognized, Raj throws the blanket to one side and stands, burning eyes sweeping the room. “You!”
Ephraims firearm is in his hands before he even realizes, pointed toward Raj, eyes flicking between him and Melissa. “Stop! Just stop, and tell us what the -hell- this is about! I am fucking exhausted, I have a headache, and I’m -really- pissed off, so you’d better talk quick before I shoot you in the head just to watch it pop! The last time I saw you…” He nods to Melissa. “…you were locked in the shed at the ranch. And you…” a nod toward Raj… “were dead on the floor of the tunnels. So explain!”
Meagan trembles in Sams arms, pulling against the arm wrapped around her shoulders, but he manages to hold her back. Her voice is curiously high-pitched, like that of a child, and she seems near tears as she squints through the smoky room toward the door. “Mellie! Mellie! It’s me, Meagan! Where did you go? I missed you!” Sam pulls her closer, watching the scene at the door warily as he continues to back away from the smoke that is rapidly filling the room.
“I…don’t…have…to…EXPLAIN! I AM!” Raj lunges toward Ephraim as varying expressions of startlement come from around the room. As he moves, he seems to change…in a way that would be extremely familiar to Blue…fingers turning to vicious looking claws, and his teeth lengthening. Ephraims gun cracks loudly, the sound echoing sharply around the closed cavern, and Raj stops in his tracks, half-morphed hand going to his right shoulder with a look of shock. “You can’t hurt me! My Father will -destroy- you!”
Ephraims voice crackles with impatience and anger. “Sorry, kid. Your pop just left…you -just- missed him. Unlike me. Now tell me what’s going on, damn it…or the next one’s going into the middle of your forehead!” Raj sneers, the expression incongrous around that half-formed muzzle full of razor sharp teeth. “You actually don’t know! You, Captain Sees-All, have no idea!” He chuckles, the sound echoing strangely around the room, almost like sharp barks. “That’s all right…you’ll find out soon enough…in fact, I think I’ll leave you alive, to watch!”
The smoke continues to billow, until in an alarmingly short time it’s become almost impossible to see. Melissa’s voice is rough, although from smoke or emotion isn’t clear. “Mellie? Seriously? I have -no- idea what you’re talking about.” Carefully, she begins to step back until she hits the wall of the cave. Always better to have your back against a wall. Her left hand moves to her mouth, and she chews at it…a nervous habit that she hadn’t allowed herself to indulge in since childhood.
Meagan snuggles closer to Sam, eyes squinched against the smoke. “Mell..Melissa? How did you…I’m so confused. You looked like my sister! I remembered! Just like I “remembered” about Sammy! But Mellie’s dead! She died in the accident…” Her voice shakes with weariness and confusion, and she trails off as Sams hand pulls her even closer, and his mental “hand” lovingly strokes her hair. *Love you…don’t let that bitch get to you.*
Keeping a wary eye on the now fur covered form that is Raj, Ephraim maintains his combat stance, firearm aimed. “Look, buddy. You’ve been trouble since we were kids, and now is no different. I don’t want to shoot you again, so you need to just back up real slow, and sit down against the wall, ok?”
Raj smirks, behind the cloud of smoke. “See, your problem is that you -seriously- don’t know what’s going on. If you did, you’d be better prepared when I do this!” With the last word, he lunges forward, nimbly avoiding Ephraims reflexive shot to come up right in front of him, one strangely elongated hand wrapping around Ephraims throat, the other easily twisting the gun out of his hand and holding it to his temple. This close, Ephraim has a close up view of that grin, and the mad eyes that glow almost yellow in the smoke. He speaks slowly, maintaining eye contact. “Alright…you’ve got my attention.” Below Raj’s point of view, one hand begins to move, ever so slowly, into position. “What can I do for you?”
Raj’s grin seems to widen even further. “Me? Not a damn thing…” With that he deftly tosses the gun up, catching it by the barrel, and cracking Ephraim across the side of his head with the butt. Not bothering to catch him as he falls to the floor, head hitting the cave floor with a nasty crack, he simply steps over him, toward Sam and Meagan.
“Now…for you two.” The smoke doesn’t seem to hamper him at all, whereas for Meagan and Sam it’s so thick that all they can see of Raj is a pair of glowing yellow eyes. Sam pushes Meagan behind him, speaking quickly and not taking his gaze off of the eyes as they approach. “Get back…go back until you hit the wall, and -stay- there…no matter what you hear. Please? For me…and for Sammy. She needs her mother.” Meagans mouth is open all through his speech, as if to argue…then as the last sentence sinks in, she shuts her mouth, and frowning, nods. “For Sammy.” As she begins to back away through the smoke, she can feel a loving kiss from Sams mind to hers. “I love you…just remember that.”
“Aww…isn’t that cute. Do you seriously think you can keep me from doing what I want?” Raj emerges from the smoke, shaking his head. His “transformation” is a little more advanced, the muzzle fully formed and teeth and nails pointed and sharp looking. “I don’t know…but I’m sure as hell going to try!” Sams voice shakes a tiny bit as he assesses Rajs new and “improved” physical self with his “x-ray” sight.
The muscles writhe beneath his skin, changing and growing as Sam watches. Bones snap and reform in ways that must be incredibly agonizingly painful, but there is nothing in those yellow eyes but hate. The chance of Sam surviving a close quarter fight, even with the boot knife that Ephraim had slipped him…were almost impossible. There must be another way…but what?
(Next up to bat is my buddy Dawn, who has been patiently waiting…I hope I didn’t mess you up -too- badly!)