Devil Cares: Chapter Eight

May 16, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Devil Cares) ()


Considering the circumstances, yesterday had been so ordinary, Kimber thought. After lunch he’d gone upstairs to go through his father’s things. That had been an…interesting experience. Memories wanted to well up and choke him at every different thing he put his hands on, so he took the box of his father’s files and fled to his own room to escape the images. Not that the room he’d called his own when he had lived at the Mossberg Mansion held less memories, but they were the kind that were easier to deal with.
He’d opened the box of his father’s recent case files and begun to read. Not a lot was known about the creature his parents had gone after, the unhcegila, and many thought it was a genuine myth. There had been sightings around Mount Rushmore though, so his parents had gone to investigate. From what Kimber had gathered from his father’s files the unhcegila was a land creature that had no wings, but was nevertheless described and depicted as “dragonoid” in the scant sources available. Kimber thought it sounded something like a North American gargoyle.
Apparently, they could move through trees like fish through water, left no footprints, and when they devoured their victims they ate every scrap. Even the bones. It was due to this, his father’s notes said, that there was still doubt as to its existence among the hunters of America. His parents must have believed enough to go out looking and they must have been right, for Wesson said they’d told him they’d killed it. Wesson had gone on to say that no blades or bullets had any effect on the thing, according to their father’s recount of the tale, but when it had tackled their father, their mother had bashed its head in with a rock. And that was that.
Pulling a pen from his pocket, Kimber added must be killed with stone weapons to the notes on the unhcegila.
After that, Kimber had spent the remainder of the afternoon going through the rest of his father’s files, and before he even realized it the day was over. He’d pushed the files back in the box and slid it under his bed. Then he’d gone downstairs to get the broom and had returned to his room.
Reading his father’s files had unleashed a host of emotions and memories he’d rather not deal with, so as he swept (clockwise, of course) he visualized all of that leaving his room. Following that, he’d lit some sandalwood incense and placed some peppermint and peridot beneath his pillow. When he felt sufficiently calm, he had taken the broom back down stairs, and then returned to climb into bed.
As it turned out, he had cleared his mind too much, for the dream he’d had depicted the death of a woman he’d never even known. He had gone into his father’s room at eleven thirty, when the dream had woken him, to turn on the police scanner. His father always kept one on hand for just such occurrences.
It was from the scanner that he’d learned the details of Mackayla Byrne’s apparent suicide. Of course, Kimber knew it was not a suicide. She had not dunked herself under, she had been pulled. He’d felt it. Once he felt he’d heard enough he’d switched off the scanner and gone back to bed. He removed the peridot from under his pillow before he fell asleep.
Morning had brought the happy task of convincing Barrett what he’d dreamed. That hadn’t gone especially well, but at least they were on the way to investigate. It was a start.
“So,” Barrett said, “you dreamed this, huh?”
Kimber sighed. “I saw it in a dream, yes.”
Deciding that Barrett would be easier to deal with on this if Kimber let him drive, they were in the truck instead of Kimber’s significantly more comfortable rental.
“And this dream of yours,” Barrett went on, “led you to believe it was something other than suicide.”
“She was dragged, Barrett,” Kimber said. “Something she couldn’t even feel pushed her beneath the water and wouldn’t let her up.”
“Assuming I believe you, and I’m not saying I do, why would something supernatural attack Mackayla anyway?”
“That’s why we’re going to investigate, isn’t it?” There was a beat and then, “Did you know her, Barrett?”
He shrugged. “A little bit, I know her husband better. Dad hired his company to make the repairs around the ranch. He’ll probably be the one sending people to fix our window next week.”
Kimber mulled that over. “Well, maybe that’s the reason. She was connected to us.”
“I would hardly say she was ‘connected’ to us,” Barrett said. “I saw her a few times when she brought her husband lunch on a job. And even if there was a connection, so what?”
“Our parents died last week, and now this girl?” Kimber gave him a look. “I don’t think that’s coincidental.”
“And Elaine Shores, too.”
Blinking, Kimber asked, “What?”
“Elaine Shores. She killed herself, too.” Barrett said, “I was at her scene the day Mom and Dad died.”
Thunderstruck, Kimber stared at Barrett. “Three deaths in just over a week and you don’t think there’s a connection?”
“Some people actually kill themselves, Kimber, it’s not always demonic.”
“Some people actually kill themselves, yes, but not two people in a row with another suspicious death in between.”
Barrett sighed. “Whatever. We’ll see when we get to the house.”
They rode in silence the rest of the way.
Andy Koonz was there to let them in. He’d apologized profusely when they’d called him because paramedics already taken the body away. He hadn’t thought to call them because there hadn’t appeared to be anything strange about it. Barrett had managed to calm him down and finally hung up. As the brothers pulled up to the drive, he came sprinting down to meet them.
“Hello, Andy,” Kimber said as he exited the truck.
“Hello, Kimber, Barrett,” Andy said, his eyes flying between them. “You should have all day, we haven’t released the house as a scene yet.”
Kimber started the walk up to the house with no further preamble, Barrett quickly caught up with him.
“You think there’s something up with Ms. Byrne’s death?” Andy asked, slinking along behind the brothers as they walked up the drive to the Byrne’s house.
“Kimber thinks so,” Barrett said, “either that or he has an over active imagination.”
In a low voice, Kimber replied, “Just because I dreamed it does not mean it came from my imagination. I mean, really, isn’t the fact that I dreamed about this death at all, a death that then happened, reason enough to look into it?”
“Well, when you put it that way,” Andy said slowly.
“Why, thank you, Andy,” Kimber said.
Barrett grumbled.
The front door had been left unlocked, so they all shuffled in. Kimber reached inside his ever-present canvas attaché to withdraw a leafy green twig and a lighter.
Barrett eyed him. “What are you doing now?”
“It’s something Mom taught me,” he replied, “the smoke of mistletoe will banish the presence of evil.”
As Kimber lit the stick, Barrett shook his head, but said nothing. The smoke wafted through the air as Kimber walked around the room gently moving his arm to spread the fragrance. In no time the smell of the plant hung sylph-like in the air.
“Now, describe everything for me one more time, please,” Kimber said as he worked his magic.
Andy took a deep breath and then began. “Well, nobody really knows anything. Her friends at work say she was fine when she left, grumbling about how busy they were like people at work always do.”
Nervously, Andy’s eyes tracked Kimber as he walked the room. “Anyway, she got off work a little before five like always. That’s the last anyone saw her.”
Not quite, Kimber thought, I saw more than enough.
“Jim came home late that night. He stayed late at the office to finish up some paper work, and then he had a flat tire,” Andy continued.
Barrett asked, “Can anyone back that up?”
“Carl came out to hoist the truck up enough to change the tire,” Andy said. “It was one of those big pick ups and the jack Jim had with him wasn’t big enough.”
“We should go talk to Carl again,” Kimber said as he came back to stand with the others. “Just to be safe.”
“Kimber—” Barrett began, but his brother smoothly cut him off.
“So, what happened next Andy?”
Nervously, Andy’s eyes flickered to Barrett before coming back to Kimber. “Well, Jim got home after eleven, came upstairs to find his wife dead in the tub. The time of death and Carl’s story meant he couldn’t have anything to do with it.”
“And they didn’t notice anything strange about the body?” Kimber asked.
Licking his lips, Andy again cast a glance at Barrett.
“Andy?” Kimber prompted, drawing the man’s attention away from his brother.
Reluctantly, Andy began, “Well, there were these bruises on the sides of her arms. Bruises the ME couldn’t really explain.”
“Bruises like her arms were smacking against the sides of the tub as she struggled to get out?” asked Kimber.
Andy nodded his head. “Yeah, that’s what the ME thought at first, but then there wasn’t any bruises on her shoulders or anything to show she’d been pushed down. So, she just decided that Ms. Byrne had gotten the bruises post-mortem when her arms were laying against the side.”
Kimber shook his head in disgust, and turned toward the stairs. “The master bath is this way, correct?”
Barrett reached out a hand to stop him, “Now, Kimber, just wait a minute.” But his brother was already heading up the stairs.
Sighing, Barrett followed after, slowly trailing the smoke his brother left behind.
Already at the top of the stairs, Kimber turned and headed into the bathroom. Unlike Barrett, he knew exactly where he was going, courtesy of the macabre little movie theater that had played in his head last night.
He turned at the end of the stairs, and headed into the bedroom, then on into the bathroom. Kimber’s gray eyes quickly swept over the scene, though nothing seemed out of place. The police had already cleaned things up.
Reaching into his bag, Kimber pulled out a handful of hawthorn leaves. As he got over the tub he released his hand. The leaves fluttered down, but before they could enter the tub they floated sideways to the floor, almost as if a natural column of air had pushed them out of the way.
Arching a brow, Kimber withdrew another handful of leaves. This time he leaned his hand over the tub and brought it down beneath the rim before he let the leaves go. Just like before the leaves slowly fluttered up and out. It was nothing so dramatic and obvious that the average mundane person would notice something was wrong, but to the trained eye something was definitely expelling the leaves.
Straightening up, he eyed the tub critically. An idea occurred him to then, and he looked at the mistletoe in his hand and then back at the tub. With deliberate force, he tossed the sprig of mistletoe into the tub.
There was a sound like the pop of a fire as the mistletoe sprig was consumed, and then the smoke of it rushed up out of the tub and billowed into the room.
Kimber whirled around, coughing and waving the smoke away from his face.
“What’s going on in here?” Barrett asked as he entered the bathroom.
“I threw the mistletoe into the tub and it exploded.” Kimber looked up triumphantly into his brother’s eyes. “I think this tub is haunted.”



  1. Zappaz said,

    And the mystery deepens. Excellent. Another good update, as always! ^_^

    However, I did find a few typos…

    His must have believed enough… Either “He” or “His father”, I’m guessing.

    …through the rest of his fathers files… Missing the possessive apostrophe.

  2. Seth Gray said,

    Thanks for the catches. You’re a peach ^_^.

  3. Yahrlan said,

    I art bad Yahr again *sigh*

    Oh, and I can’t find the ‘Holy Smoke’ I thought was the title Seth used, so this chapter’s track is just a goof-off, still appropriately named, though.

    DC Playlist

  4. Seth Gray said,

    You’re right. That wasn’t the song I titled the chapter after, but holy GOD it was hilarious.

  5. jekloneo said,

    The bath tub was haunted? Really?

    No other typo errors, excellent.

  6. Yahrlan said,

    Haha. Glad you liked it Seth. I’m gonna try to find funny titles if I can’t find the actual ones.

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