Monday, August 25, 2014

Beginner's Start: A Silverwest Manor Short Story

This is a short story based on my fantasy novel trilogy for readers of all ages. Enjoy.

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Before a year ago, Susan Weatherby was just like any other girl, apart from her being mute and her eyes shutting off whenever she got up and walked. But then her stepmother inherited the estate of a distant relative. It was at the town of Fallen Oak that Susan's stepbrother ended up inheriting Alexander Silverwest's place as a warlock. And Susan ended up dragged into the world of magic as well, with its talking wolf and cat, a klutz of a spell caster, a scary Goth witch (?), and demons that want to kill her for her magic power. Did I mention that Susan is also the reincarnation ofthe Faerie Queen?

"Why do I have to do it, and Marcus doesn't?" Susan complained. Well, it might be complaining. It was hard to tell since her phone was doing the talking and it was a complete robot.

The young man in the silver suit looked up at the dilapidated house where the mission would begin from beneath the brim of his hat.

"Well, he did pretty much save the town from an old demon," Silver said with a shrug. He was chewing on a toothpick. "Now, do you have everything?"

There was a short pause as Susan typed into her phone. Her answer: "Yes. I still think that's overkill. It's just a bunch of imps."

"Tell that to Jenny," Silver said, putting his hands in his pocket.

"So who does this house belong to?" Susan asked, pointing to the house she would be performing the exorcism in.

"Not sure," Silver answered with a shrug. "It's been empty since before I came to this town. From what I heard, it belonged to a warlock, though that was obvious."

Imps loved to live in places with a lot of magic in it, and there was no other place there would be magic in except for a warlock's house, even one that's abandoned. Magic spells always leave long-lasting traces, even the ones meant to get rid of the imps.

"I'll wait out here for you to be done," Silver said.

This was going to be Susan's first ever mission by herself. And although she can't see where she walks, it was something that she had to do alone. Neither Marcus, nor their parents were thrilled about that, but the adults assured them that it would be perfectly safe, since it was just a basic imp infestation. And just to get them on board, the representative even signed a contract that said that if anything happened, Marcus could curse his family. Not that Marcus would do such a thing. He and Dad would probably beat the snot out of the representative, but they wouldn't curse his family. Later they would learn that he didn't even have a girlfriend.

Susan took it a few steps at a time. Every time she walked, everything was black. When she paused, it was as if her eyes had been closed for a while and she was just opening them. The house was still in front of her with nothing in the way. Silver was there chewing a toothpick and watching her back until the door closed behind it.

Looking around, Susan saw that the furniture was still there. Apparently, there was no one to claim the previous owner's stuff. A thin veil covered the lamp, the chairs, and the couch, but everywhere else was covered in thick layers of dust. There were framed pictures and portraits hanging on the walls against the peeling wallpaper, but those were too obscured by the dust to make out.

Susan was careful not to touch anything, not wanting to get dust on herself. Even without the magic she's learned so far, she could hear the scurrying around and high growl of imps as they scampered about within the walls and beneath the floorboards which squeaked every time the girl took a step.

She had her flashlight in hand, but she didn't turn it on, not wanting to draw attention to herself. Taking a deep breath, she made for the center of the house, which was the door to the kitchen. Standing at the entryway, she focused her power. A familiar warm sensation traveled up her spine and into her clasped hands. With her head bent, she felt like she was praying.

Warm air blew around her, and she didn't need her eyes opened to know that she must be glowing. Over the blowing wind, she could hear louder scampering as imps emerged, sensing the great power of the Faerie Queen in their domain. They must be gaping at her from what they thought was a safe distance. There would never be a safe distance with this spell.

The gust of wind grew loud and then silent in an instant. There was no more scurrying, no more shuffling, and no more scratching from the imps. She should be completely alone, except for the ordinary pests.

When she opened her eyes, she yelled out and reeled back. At her face was the face of a zombie.

"You are trespassing on private property," the zombie said, craning its neck and popping its neck bones. It was tall, though hunched on its back. Beneath the moth-eaten suit was leathery, yellow skin. There was only three strands of hair on its cranium, and a few crooked teeth in its mouth.

Susan backed away, heart pounding and reaching for her cell phone. She typed in Silver's number and was about to make the call when the zombie swatted the phone from her hand and then reached for her throat. With a soundless scream, the little girl ducked beneath the undead's arms and squirm past him, keeping back the bile and disgust at brushing against such a creature. Just what kind of magician must have lived here that would conjure up something like that?

"You will not leave here alive!" the zombie yelled as it gave chase. With a roar he lunged, dropped to the floor and managed to catch the girl by the ankles.

Panicked, she desperately kicked at the hand, fear blocking out the pain in her ankle as the zombie held on tight. Throwing her backpack off, she used that to club the zombie at the head. That seemed only to agitate the creature more.

Somehow the zipper became undone, as did the cap to the bottle of salt water that Silver insisted she bring along. Droplets of water landed on the living corpse's bare skin, and it hissed as it burned. With a yell of agony, the zombie let go and Susan was able to run, carrying her backpack and whatever was left in it. She was, of course, blind as she ran, but fear pushed her to pick herself up after crashing into something and continue. If she dallied for even a second more, death would surely follow.

She must be covered in dust by now, landing in the couch, pulling sheets off the old furniture, and falling on the floor more times than she cared to count. Susan kept scrambling around in zigzag, having seen it done on TV one time as a means of keeping the enemy confused and maybe out of reach.

Just when she thought she was doing okay in surviving, she was suddenly flung against the couch by something like strings on her clothes. She landed on the floor with a thud. When her vision came back, the zombie was upon her, its hands outstretched. The back of one of them had black scorch spots where the salt water had done its work. Its feet was also smoking, but the salt powder was reacting only to the dark magic on its shoes.

"You've seen too much," said the creature. "Now you must die!"

Susan scrambled back until her back hit the wall. There was nowhere to run, and she could not scream for help without her cell phone. If only she didn't lose her voice! Out of desperation, she reached into her backpack. There was only one thing left in there, apart from her snacks, and that was the water pistol, just one of a pair used by the Weatherby siblings to shoot water at each other on a hot day. The bottle cartridge was empty, of course.

After pulling the water pistol out, she fought hard to steady her hands and calm her mind to concentrate while aiming the plastic toy at the horrific creature.

The product of forbidden magic cocked his head and then guffawed.

"What do you hope to accomplish with that?" it asked. "And here I thought you were clever with the salt and all."

Susan said nothing, mostly because she was concentrating her energy into her toy weapon and not because she didn't have a voice. When the zombie boldly advanced, the little girl pulled the trigger, and out came a blinding flash of light followed by a clap of thunder that completely overshadowed an agonized scream.

When the spots finally disappeared from her eyes, Susan saw with disbelief what remained of the walking corpse was a yellow smudge with the top half of a skull at the center. She was still gripping strongly the water pistol that was used to destroy it, its ammunition the potent magic from which proved that Susan was the Faerie Queen in human skin. Her grip eventually slackened and the pistol slipped through her fingers before her hands dropped to her sides.

Wood splintered and smashed as it was kicked open. Silver came in holding his favorite flintlock pistol out, straight-armed. His head was that of a silver-pelt wolf.

"Whoa! There's a lot of dark magic in here," he said after a deep sniff.

He swept the pistol over the living room, lifted the weapon to his ear and then made for Susan who, to him, looked like a complete mess.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Susan slowly lifted her head, tearing her eyes where the corpse had been, to face Silver. She gave the Lycan a shaky smile and mouthed: "Mission accomplished."

The next time Susan went on a mission, it was with her brother and Jenny both, and West the cat all there to keep a close eye on the little girl, which put Susan off quite a bit. Silver was kicked out of the house for a week and was the one to deliver the Weatherby family's several-pages long complaint that was accompanied by a CD video and was later followed by a lengthy phone call.

As for the dark magic discovered at the house, the one that was used to create the undead familiar, the house would later be burned down and then a new one was built over it, the secrets hidden gone forever.

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If you liked this story, click HERE for the Amazon pages to the main books of the series.