Devil Cares: Chapter Ten

May 21, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Devil Cares) ()


“You know, Wesson will want to come,” Kimber said as he got in the truck. “I don’t think we should let him.”
Barrett nodded as he put it into gear. “He’s not ready for something like this.”
This earned him an arched brow. “It’s not a matter of him being ready, it’s a matter of him being sixteen.
Briefly, Barrett shot him a look before putting his eyes back on the road. “We were hunting at that age. We turned out okay.”
“Did we?” Kimber asked softly.
Barrett dodged that question. “But, yeah, I don’t think he should come. Especially with his arm, if something happens he’ll already be at a disadvantage.”
“Oh, yes,” Kimber bit off scathingly, “that’s what we should be worried about, our brother’s tactical worth.”
“Look, Kimber, what do you want from me?” Barrett snapped.
“I want you to let our brother have a childhood,” Kimber said, “as normal a childhood as possible.”
“Mom and Dad just died!” his brother shouted. “That’s pretty much impossible.”
“Exactly!” Kimber snapped back, “We should do everything we can to minimize the trauma.”
Barrett’s bright blue eyes narrowed. In a low, almost dangerous voice he hissed, “You haven’t been around for four years, Kimber. If you wanted to have input into how this family works you’re a little late.”
His voice filled with ice, Kimber replied, “The way this family works is the reason I’ve been gone for four years.”
“And you’ve never moved past that, have you?” Barrett’s voice had bitterness of its own.
“Oh, but I did move past it, Barrett,” he said. “I wanted to live my own life so I went out and did it. Look at you. Until they died, you were a twenty-six-year-old man living with his parents.”
“It’s tradition.”
“It’s codependent!”
“I loved my parents!”
“I loved them, too, Barrett!” Kimber screamed, “I’m not the one who said never come back!”
The fight seemed to go out of both of them with those words.
“You haven’t even been out to see them yet,” Barrett said softly.
“When was there the time?” Kimber replied, “And anyway, so what? They aren’t in there, Barrett, it’s just a hole in the ground. If I had something to say to them, I could say it right now and they would hear it.”
“That’s not what I mean,” his brother said, “it’s a closure thing. You need to make it real to you.”
Kimber’s voice was little more than a whisper. “Oh, it’s real to me.”
Once again, the ride back to the Mossberg Mansion was had in silence.
Wesson was eating cereal at the bar when they got home.
“So,” he said, “what’s the deal? That lady off herself or was it something else?”
“It was a residual essence,” Kimber said as they shuffled inside.
“Cool.” Wesson’s face was bright. “Can I come?”
“No,” both of this brothers said at once.
His face fell. “Why not?”
“Because residual essences are bad news, Wes,” Barrett said. “You’re not ready.”
Wes’s deep blue eyes turned almost black as he stood up. “How do you know unless you let me try. Kimber, tell him.”
“I don’t want you to do it either, Wes.”
He looked almost betrayed as he said, “Why? Why don’t you think I can handle this?”
Kimber sighed, in no mood to have this conversation. “It’s not about that, Wes. You shouldn’t have to worry about this.”
“I think I should worry about exactly this,” the youngest Mossberg declared.
“Wes, I just want you to have a normal childhood.”
“Well, that’s pretty much over,” Wes replied.
“My god, Wes,” Kimber said in disbelief. “You’re sixteen, there are so many other things you should be doing right now.”
“I don’t wanna be doing them,” Wes said, “I wanna do this.”
He looked at Barrett. “And I want you to know I can do it good.”
“Well,” Kimber corrected automatically.
“Whatever.” Wesson continued, “The point is I want to hunt. I’ve been trained as much as you guys had been by my age, and I know I can do it. It’s more than just the family legacy to me, I want to do it.”
Kimber rubbed his hands over his eyes. He let them drop and looked at Barrett, who gave a small shrug. Wesson held his breath.
“All right, fine,” Kimber said, “you can come.”
Wes grinned in triumph.
“But,” his brother continued, “you will stay within your own circle and you will not budge.”
“Aw, come on,” Wes protested.
“It’s that, or stay home,” Kimber replied in a voice that brooked no argument.
“Okay, I’m coming,” Wes said quickly.
“Then go get your stuff.”
Wes scampered up the stairs.
As soon as he was gone, Kimber’s shoulders slumped. “This is a mistake.”
“He needs to see that for himself,” Barrett replied.
“That doesn’t make me feel any better,” Kimber all but whispered.
Barrett shrugged. “We need to get supplies of our own.”
Kimber nodded, “I’ll meet you back here.”
They followed their brother upstairs, each going to his own room. In his room Kimber took a quick glance at his father’s files still in his room but nothing seemed important. He’d have to look and see what ritual his father prescribed for residual essences. That would still be in the master bedroom. He kicked out of his shoes, grateful he had chosen not to wear his usual black leather boots. If those had gotten wet he would’ve had quite a fit. But they were the only other pair of shoes he’d brought besides the wet sneakers he’d been wearing earlier, so after he changed his socks he pulled them on and zipped them up. His hair was a lost cause, but he squirted some product on his fingers and quickly dragged them through his hair.
He retrieved some things he’d need for the ritual, adding them to his attaché. That reminded him he still needed to restock all the herbs he’d used from his mother’s greenhouse. Satisfied that he was as ready as he could be he left his room. He saw Barrett in their parents’ room, and assumed he was getting the files on the ritual. Kimber headed downstairs to the greenhouse.
Barrett hadn’t needed many supplies from his bedroom. His father had given him a canvas that rolled up with slots for knives and daggers. One of his knives was made of pure iron, which might be an asset if things got out of hand during the ritual. He threw this in with his other supplies, his salt, holy water, and other weapons, then headed into his father’s room. The ritual to purify a place of a residual essence was in his father’s notes on spirits and hauntings. A quick scan of the documents gave him a list of everything he’d need to safely conduct the ritual. He brought the notebook with the ritual down with him as he left the room.
In stark contrast to his brothers’ moods, Wesson was stoked. He couldn’t wait for his chance to prove himself. Granted, he didn’t actually get to participate, but that was okay. He would keep his cool, not react to whatever his brothers thought would get nasty, and then next time maybe they’d let him actually help. His duffle bag full of hunting supplies was always under his bed so he pulled it up to take a look through it. The black stained evergreen spike was on top, under that was a flagon of holy water, a pocket bible, a not very thick but kind of long iron chain, and dagger his father had bought him. It wasn’t much, but it would be better with time. He didn’t have his own gun, like the older boys did, but he would.
He changed into some thick carpenter jeans, a long sleeve shirt, a black hoodie, and his Carhartt. Then he pulled his sterling silver cross, which was identical to the ones Barrett and Kimber had received on their sixteenth birthdays, out of his top drawer and pulled it on. Wes was a little worried his wight-wounded arm wouldn’t give him much motion if things went wrong, but he’d make do. That was part of being a hunter, dealing with unexpected circumstances. At least it wasn’t his right arm, anyway.
Down in the greenhouse, Kimber picked some anise, ash leaves, a few sprigs of holly, basil, and some St. John’s Wort. Packing all these things in the bag, he turned to go. Then he had a thought. He knew that the purification ritual would unleash negative forces from the house, so he picked some lavender leaves and rubbed them on his shirt across his heart.
Barrett was already waiting for Kimber at the bar when he returned, in his arms he carried a box that Kimber knew held a silver censer. A brown box and two sawed-off shotguns were laying on the table next to him. Kimber assumed the little box held the rock salt rounds.
Wesson came clomping down the stairs, his duffle over his shoulder.
“Everyone ready?” Barrett asked.
His brothers nodded, though Wesson’s was more energetic.
“All right, let’s head out.”
Due to the rain, and the haze it brought, it felt more like evening than mid morning. The boxes sat in the back of the truck covered by a tarp to keep them dry. With everything secured, they began the long drive back to town, Barrett driving, Kimber reading over the ritual, and Wes all but bouncing in his seat in between them.
“This is a long ritual,” Kimber commented. Wes peeked over and began reading over Kimber’s shoulder.
“That’s the way it was in Dad’s notes,” Barrett said.
“Are you really going to walk the circle three times?”
“That’s the way it was in Dad’s notes,” Barrett said, as if this ruled out any alteration.
Kimber made a quiet sound that in a less polished person would have been a snort.
“You didn’t tell me what to bring out of the greenhouse, but I have some of these things,” Kimber began, but Barrett shook his head.
“All the herbs and whatever were in the box with the censer.” Barrett told him, “I figured I’d let you take care of what to sprinkle and when to do it. You seem to know about this stuff already.”
“I can do that,” Kimber said, already tallying up the ways he could shorten this overblown ritual.
“You know,” Wes said casually, his eyes scanning the notebook “I brought some iron with me, I could help you finish the banishment.”
“No,” Barrett said.
Kimber agreed. “You will stay in a salt circle as we agreed, or we’ll turn around right now.”
Sighing, Wes flopped back against the seat. “It was just a suggestion.”
The ride out to the Byrne’s house passed without any more such suggestions, but Barrett and Kimber did discuss how they would handle the herbs required for the ritual. In no time at all, the Byrne’s house appeared in front of the windshield.
With some amusement, Kimber noticed Andy wasn’t waiting for them in the house. He was sitting outside in his cop car. As the brothers’ truck pulled up along side him, he got out and headed over to them. He offered to help carry some of the boxes, but the brothers declined this offer.
Andy had locked the door this time, so he moved ahead of the Mossbergs to let them in.
“Do I need to do anything?” he asked hesitantly.
“No, man,” Barrett said, “you need to stay down here and not do anything.”
“Don’t react to anything you hear,” Kimber said. “If you hear us cry out to you specifically for help, don’t move a muscle. Understand?”
Shakily, Andy nodded.
“Barrett, why don’t you and Wes head up now.” Kimber added, “I think I should explain things to Andy a bit more.”
Barrett shrugged and headed up the stairs. When they were both on the move, Kimber turned back to his brother’s friend.
“Listen, Andy, things could get bad up there. Really bad.” Kimber continued, “I don’t want you to worry about it, we have everything under control.”
He pulled out one of the sprigs of holly and handed it to him. “Put that in your shirt pocket and try not to get too worked up.”
Kimber picked up the remote to the television where it was laying on the end table by the couch and handed it to Andy. “In fact, why you don’t turn on your favorite show and leave everything to us. And remember, don’t do anything. Don’t even move from the couch until we come down. Whatever happens, it shouldn’t take long.”
“Can…can I just go back to the car?” Andy asked pitifully.
Kimber sighed. “Yes, Andy, you can go back to the car.”
The cop went to hand back the holly.
“No, keep it,” Kimber said. “Just in case.”
Without any urging, Andy turned and hurried for the door. Shaking his head, the middle Mossberg took to the stairs to join his brothers.
When he got to the top, he saw that Barrett had already drawn one salt circle in the bedroom. Wes was standing in it with his arms crossed. As Kimber approached, he gave his brother one last pleading look, but Kimber merely shook his head, handed him the second sprig of holly, and moved on.
In the bathroom, Barrett had drawn another circle in salt. When your bathroom is big enough to perform magic in, Kimber thought, it’s too damn big. It was convenient, though. Four candles had been placed around the circle, one for each of the cardinal directions. The northern candle was facing the tub (which was still full of the salt and basil water concoction). They were all white, Kimber noticed, which didn’t inherently harm the working, but he preferred candles in the four cardinal colors. Inside the circle, his brother had lain the salt shotguns and box of rounds, an iron knife, and a box of candle matches. At the moment, Barrett was filling up the censer. Kimber headed over to try and convince him to add the St. John’s Wort to the bowl, but as he got closer he caught a whiff of the powder and realized it was made from the plant he’d wanted to add.
Barrett looked up at him as he tightened the censer’s lid. “You ready?”
Kimber nodded. “Let’s get this done.”



  1. Zappaz said,

    Excellent chapter, as always. ^_^ I can’t wait for the next installment.

    Also, I did find a few typos:

    “My god, Wes” Kimber said in disbelief. Missing the comma after Wes and before the second quotation mark.

    …and Wes all but bouncing in his eat in between them. Self explanatory.

  2. Seth Gray said,

    Thankies for the catches. I noticed your favorite chapters seem to be the ones where Kimber and Barrett are going at it, lol.

  3. Yahrlan said,

    Hmm…I think I’m sensing a build-up to something big and probably bad.
    Also, Kim seems to be under-estimating just how much their mom influenced/improved all the hunting gear that their dad had/used/passed to the boys and how much she may have taught Bar and Wes.

    DC Playlist
    I’m not sure that the particular title I grabbed is the one Seth had in mind. So Seth? Is it? I’ll change it if it isn’t (and I can find it). If I had a lucky guess or if I can’t find the right one Cher will stay.

  4. jekloneo said,

    I like this chapter too.

    A typo I found:
    When your bathroom is BEGIN enough to perform magic in, Kimber thought, it’s too damn big.

    Is that supposed to be “big enough”?

  5. Seth Gray said,

    Yahrlan: The actual song I used is “Take On Me” but you can never go wrong with Cher.

    Jekloneo: Thanks for that, it’s amazing the things your mind will edit out. Glad you liked.

  6. Zappaz said,

    *chuckles* Seth, what can I say? I’m a sucker for tension between family members.

  7. Yahrlan said,

    Well, I know what to do next time I can’t find whatever song. lol.
    Fixed. Still not necessarily the right ‘Take On Me’ but eh.

  8. Kyla said,

    Sure does help having the author across the table from you when reading! Makes understanding a lot easier!! Love you and yours as always. Here’s what we talked about:

    They followed their brother upstairs, each going to his own room. In his room Kimber took a quick glance from his father’s files…He’d have to look and see what ritual his father proscribed for residual essences.

    — should be:

    They followed their brother upstairs, each going to his own room. In his room Kimber took a quick glance at his father’s files… He’d have to look and see what ritual his father prescribed for residual essences.


    He retrieved some things he’d need for the ritual, adding them to his attaché. That reminded them he still needed to restock…

    change to…

    He retrieved some things he’d need for the ritual, adding them to his attaché. That reminded him he still needed to restock…

    Just in case you want to change it…

    His duffle bag full of hunting supplies was always under his bed so he pulled it up to take a look through it.

  9. Kyla said,

    That was part of being hunter, — need an article (like a hunter).

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