Devil Cares: Chapter Sixteen

June 4, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Devil Cares) ()

Holy end of the arc, Batman! After today there’s only one chapter left that we’ll be reading from Kimber’s point-of-view. Next week we’ll see things through the youngest Mossberg’s eyes.

His anger was such that Kimber was actually speeding as he drove. He never reached the breakneck speeds his dear older brother was fond of, but he was above the speed limit nevertheless. Mist spewed out from beneath his tires in a billowing cloud, nearly obscuring his own vision. A quick flip of the windshield wipers took care of that.
Part of his anger was directed at himself. He didn’t know why he’d been so stupid as to think Barrett could be of some use anyway. It didn’t matter, he could do this himself.
The years he’d spent away had blurred his memories of which roads led to where, so he’d turned on the navigation system in his cell phone to find Paul Shores’ house. Eventually his phone led him to the right place. He flipped his phone shut and left his car to approach the Shores’ house.
It was a charming little house across the street from the Shores’ hotel. It was a cheery light blue with creamy yellow accents. Elaine was almost certainly in charge of the cozy décor. Heaven forbid a man take an interest in how his house looks.
Standing on the front steps, Kimber took a deep breath. Letting it out, he reached forward and knocked.
A few seconds went by before Paul Shores made his way to the front door. The door slowly swung open, and Paul stood in the door frame eying him up and down. Once upon a time he’d probably been rather good looking. Even dulled with grief, his eyes held a sharp quality. His hair was graying on top, but despite his age he hadn’t lost any. He didn’t look that bad, all things considered. His hair was mussed, his face and eyes red from oversleeping , but he was out of bed and walking around under his own power.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“I’m Kimber Mossberg,” Kimber replied, “I don’t know if you remember me, it’s been awhile.”
Something cleared in Paul’s expression. “Oh, sure, sure. Uh, come on in.”
Paul shuffled backwards so Kimber had room to enter the house. The inside of the Shores’ place didn’t look all that different from the Mossberg house had when he’d first gotten into town. There were empty dishes Kimber spied in the kitchen. Wrappers from various candy bars lay scattered about the coffee table.
Sometimes, all it takes is another person around to realize what one’s house looks like. Paul was taking in his mess as if he’d just started noticing it.
“Sorry, I haven’t been in the mood to clean up this place,” he mumbled.
“I understand,” Kimber soothed, “don’t even worry about it.”
Paul waved him into a seat. “So, what can I do for you?”
Sinking onto the couch, Kimber replied, “I just thought I’d come by and say how sorry I am about Elaine. I just got into town a few days ago, and I hadn’t heard anything about it until now.”
“Oh, that’s all right,” Paul said, “there wasn’t a service or nothing. Elaine didn’t want one.”
“I see,” Kimber said.
“I’m sorry about your parents, too,” Paul added after a bit.
“Thank you,” Kimber nodded. “It’s so strange isn’t it? Your Elaine and then my parents dying so close together? And then Mackayla Byrne, too.”
Shrugging, Paul said. “I suppose it’s strange to us, but in bigger cities four deaths happen every day. It’s not that strange.”
“Yes, but Jericho is not a bigger city,” pointed out Kimber, “it’s just Jericho.”
“Well, sometimes things just happen.”
Kimber gritted his teeth. Letting out a breath, he tried again. “I suppose some things just happen, yes. Did you notice Elaine acting oddly around the time of her death?”
“No,” Paul said slowly, “not really. She was her usual, bubbly self.”
“Did she say something odd, maybe?” Kimber asked. “Talk about things she didn’t normally talk about?”
Sighing, Paul said, “Look, Kimber I know what this is about.”
Kimber blinked. “You…do?”
“You’re here because you found out Elaine sold her soul to the devil,” Paul said, pretty straightforwardly.
Sitting back Kimber said, “Well, I just thought, with the other deaths—”
Paul held up a hand to cut him off. “They had nothing to do with Elaine, she did her working proper. Here, hold on a minute.”
He got up from the couch and headed out of the room. Kimber sighed, and waited for him to return. The thumping of feet on the stairway alerted him to Paul’s return. When he walked back into the living room he was carrying an old shoe box in his arms covered with dust.
Paul offered to it Kimber. After a beat, he reached out and took it.
“This is everything Elaine gathered about the conjuration she did. She kept track of all of it, who she talked to, what they told her to do, all the things she needed, and some of her own research.”
Kimber looked down at the box in his hands, thoughts racing through his head.
“She made sure that the devil could only take her soul and then depart,” Paul went on, “she didn’t want her decision to affect anyone else.”
Standing, Kimber said, “Thank you for your time, Paul. I’m going to go and study these papers just to be sure.”
A sad smile played on the old man’s face. “Kimber, I know how hard it is to loose someone, and I know the feeling of doing anything for them.”
“If you tell me my parents’ deaths were just accidents I might have to hurt you,” Kimber growled.
Paul didn’t look offended, he just nodded. “I hope you find what you’re looking for, really I do. But don’t let it crush you if it isn’t there to be found.”
Without another word, Kimber turned and left the house. When he got back to his rental he threw the shoebox in the passenger’s seat with a sigh. Before heading out of town, he went down to the bank and rescheduled the appointment he had missed going to talk to Paul.
After that, he didn’t head straight back to the ranch. Instead he drove out to the other side of town, out past the Larson place. There the roads were higher up on hills and ditches, with sharper corners, and guardrails. Kimber had learned long ago that it was better to let anger and frustration work themselves out of him rather than try to push them away. So he drove for awhile, taking the turns and corners and letting the little thrill of taking them slightly fast push his dark cloud away.
Finally, he achieved the familiar numbness that came after a heavy burst of emotion, so he began to turn around and make his way back toward the ranch. He didn’t notice the static on the radio at first; there was so rarely a good signal around Jericho. But then he recalled that this was not his own car, but a rental with satellite radio. His gray eyes glanced down at the dial to see it randomly switching stations.
Frowning, he reached out to twirl the knobs, but it made no difference. Kimber felt a chill reaching up his spine as the lights in his dashboard began to blink. He tried to pull over, intending to call Barrett, but the wheel wouldn’t respond. The brake didn’t respond either when he slammed his foot down onto it. A few more desperate turns of the wheel brought about no change, so Kimber dug beneath his shirt for his holy icon.
But when it was exposed to the air there was no blue glow, no holy light. Horror in his eyes, Kimber watched as the orange needle of the speedometer began creeping higher. His hands still reflexively on the steering wheel, Kimber glanced up to see the metal of the guardrail careening toward him.
Praying it would still work, his hand shot down to the emergency brake and pulled with all his might. Tires squealing, the car skidded into the side instead of rushing headlong. The impact jolted Kimber forward, but the seatbelt had a safety feature that locked it up before his head could hit anything. He let out a harsh sound as he rebounded back against his seat. The seatbelt had locked.
Just as he was about to sigh with relief, his engine revved up. Dirt was spat up from his tires as the rental car began pushing against the guardrail. Groaning metal reached Kimber’s ears and he struggled to undo the seatbelt’s buckle. Finally the buckle came undone, and Kimber pushed the car door open.
He was about to step out of the car when he remembered the shoebox sitting on the passenger seat. Ducking back across the seat, Kimber reached out for the box. His fingers had just closed around it when he heard an alarming shatter of metal, and felt a strong arm close around his middle. The arm yanked him out of the car, causing him to give a surprised yelp as he clutched the shoebox to his chest. This shout was cut short as his car went sailing over the guardrail to crash into the ditch far below.
“Are you all right?” asked a voice next to his ear. This voice snapped him out of his staring at the empty space his car had once occupied to he realize he was standing with his back pressed against his rescuer’s chest, one arm still around his waist.
Kimber looked up into a pair of startlingly familiar green eyes, eyes which widened in recognition.
“Kimber?” his rescuer asked, “Kimber Mossberg?”
Cheeks reddening, Kimber pulled away. “Yes.”
“It’s me, Marc. Marc Jones.”
And then Kimber could see it. He had the same wavy, oak-brown hair as his sister, and the same almost electric green eyes. They were even brighter than the bold green shirt Kimber was wearing from his lunch with Missy. As Kimber studied him, he realized that Marc must be a few good inches over six feet. He’d always been strong and tall, but Kimber could never have imagined he’d become so built, or grow so broad a pair of shoulders.
Awkwardly, Marc said, “You know, there are easier ways than this. Not that I’m saying this is a good idea, but what would make you try to go off a cliff? Is this is a grief thing?”
Kimber blinked, lost. “What?”
“I saw you Kimber,” Marc said, nervousness still evident in his warm voice, “you didn’t even slow down, just headed straight for the edge.”
Understanding at last, Kimber massaged his temple with the hand not holding the box Paul Shores had given him.
“This isn’t what it looks like,” he said.



  1. Yahrlan said,

    Well. Hurray for emergency brakes…and big, strong, handsome men. 😉

    Devil Cares Chapter Playlist
    Just a reminder that there are a few titles on the playlist that aren’t the actual title Seth had in mind.
    Oh Holy Smoke (Holy Smoke Iron Maiden)
    Viagra in the Water (Fears in the Water The Vincent Black Shadow)
    Rain Rain (Little Old Lady from Pasadena Beatles)

  2. Seth Gray said,

    We were having a spacing issue, but I fixed it.

  3. Zappaz said,

    *whistles* I second what Yahr said. Hurray indeed.

    No holy light, huh? Curiouser and curiouser…

  4. jekloneo said,

    Does it have anything to do with the box, I wonder. Hmm, this seems to be similar to how the senior Mossbergs died.

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