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Blood Moon Rising

666





Family Secrets

Copyright © 2018 S K Gregory

All Rights Reserved



Familiar Love

Copyright © 2018 Kat Gracey

All Rights Reserved



O.M.F.G

Copyright © 2018 DJ Doyle

All Rights Reserved


Sorry

Copyright © 2018 Jo Zebedee

All Rights Reserved



Tally

Copyright © 2018 Ashley Ford

All Rights Reserved


Freya’s Lost Pack

Copyright © 2018 Donald Armfield

All Rights Reserved



Contents


Family Secrets

S. K. Gregory


Familiar Love

Kat Gracey


OMFG

DJ Doyle


Sorry

Jo Zebedee


Tally

Ashley Ford


Freya’s Lost Pack

Donald Armfield





Family Secrets

S. K. Gregory



“This is the stupidest idea you have ever had,” I said to my friend Kirby.

He grinned in that annoying way he did. “You’re just scared. Admit it, you actually think it will work.”

I rolled my eyes at him. “Yes, Kirby, you’re actually going to be able to summon a demon. I’m shaking in my boots.”

“You’re shaking in your fuzzy slippers,” Kirby corrected.

I shoved him. “Shut up.” I tucked my pink slipper clad feet underneath me. We were seated in my basement along with our other friend, Shannon. She was currently gorging on pizza and had yet to add her thoughts on Kirby’s idea.

“I think it’s dumb,” she said finally.

“Thank you!” I said.

“But it could be fun,” she said.

“Yeah, real fun. Most teenagers go to parties on a Friday night, but let’s hit up Satan, I’m sure he’s a real chill dude,” I said.

Kirby started laughing hysterically.

“What’s going on down here?” Mom said. She stood at the bottom of the stair in a pink robe and hair rollers.

“Nothing,” I said, covering the book Kirby had brought over on demons. He had found it at an old junk shop downtown.

“Do you kids want anything from upstairs?” she asked.

“No, we’re fine, Mom,” I said, wishing she would leave. My slippers didn’t compare to her outfit, not that Kirby and Shannon hadn’t seen it all before.

We had been friends for years and my house was the popular hangout because of our basement. It used to be full of junk that my parents had collected over the years. Then Dad got the idea of cleaning it out to create an exercise room for himself. That quickly turned into a man cave, but since he mostly came home from work and fell asleep, he rarely used it. So, it unofficially became out place to hang out.

I think Mom was glad we were out from under her feet, but not out partying.

When she went back upstairs, Kirby put the book back on the table. He flipped it open to a random page and started reading.

I grabbed another slice of pizza, wondering what kind of parties were going on outside these four walls. I know I should be grateful that I had two good friends, but part of me always felt like I was missing out on something.

Yeah, a hangover and embarrassing pics on social media.

“Here’s a good one,” Kirby said, interrupting my thoughts.

“Thought all demons were bad,” I quipped.

Kirby ignored me and started reading from the book.

“Azareen is a powerful demon who has the ability to grant wishes to those that are worthy. Cool, like a genie.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, sure. And what exactly would you wish for?”

“Easy, money, girls and a sweet ride.”

“Typical. What about you, Shannon? What would you wish for?”

Tucking her red hair behind her ear, she shrugged, but her face went beet red.

“I know what she would wish for. Brett Turner.”

“Shut up!” Shannon cried, throwing a balled up napkin at Kirby’s head.

Shannon had been crushing on Brett for over a year now, ever since he spoke four words to her. Those words were – “Sorry, didn’t see you,” after he bumped into her, but the way Shannon behaved, you would think he had proposed.

“Why don’t you just ask him out?” I suggested.

“Are you crazy?” she said. “I can’t do that, he’s dating Lucinda. She would kill me.”

This was part of the reason we were losers. None of us ever had the balls to change things. Myself included. Maybe if one of us did, things would be different.

“There’s a summoning spell,” Kirby announced.

“For God’s sake, Kirby. No one cares,” I said.

Shannon got up and headed to the corner of the room to grab another soda.

Kirby started to chant, struggling with the foreign words. It kind of sounded German, maybe?

He finished with a flourish and I opened my mouth to call him an idiot, when my mother appeared in front of us. Appeared as in poof, magically appeared as opposed to coming downstairs.

“What the..?” she said, looking confused.

I was still trying to figure out what was going on when Kirby exclaimed, “Oh my God. Oh my God, Sarah, your mother is a de…”

His words were cut off when Mom slashed her hand across his throat. Blood hit me in the face and when Kirby toppled over, with a gaping hole in his neck, I started to scream.

Mom’s hand had morphed into long black claws.

This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening, I kept repeating it in my head, but it didn’t change the scene in front of me.

“Stop it, Sarah,” Mom snapped.

I closed my mouth but started to whimper instead. Mom picked up the book Kirby had been reading.

“Where the hell did this come from? I thought they were all destroyed.”

She turned to look at me and I almost fainted. Her eyes were completely black.

“You’re a d-d-de…” I started stuttering and found it impossible to stop.

“Demon?” Mom finished for me. “Yes, I am. But right now, we have more pressing matters, like getting rid of the body.”

I glanced at Kirby, half hidden by the coffee table, then I turned and vomited on the floor.

Mom put her hands on her hips and sighed. “Try and stay calm, Sarah. I was going to tell you all of this when you turned eighteen, anyway.”

I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and glared at her.

“How can you be so calm? You killed Kirby!”

“He knew what I was, I didn’t have a choice. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”

She knelt beside his body, rolling him onto his back. In my mind, I was trying to reconcile the woman in front of me with my mom. My mom who baked us cookies and was a member of the PTA.

“This is a joke, right?” I asked, hopefully, waiting for Kirby to spring up and say ‘Gotcha!’

“Grab the trash bags from under the sink,” Mom said.

“Mom?”

“Now!” she said.

I got to my feet, my legs were like jelly. I moved to the sink in the corner, my mind went blank for a moment.

There was an open soda can on the ground. It was spilling out onto the beige carpet – grape soda. All I could think about was the blood from Kirby’s throat.

Mom glanced my way. “Hurry up.” She paused and looked around the room. “Where’s Shannon?”

Shannon? She was here when Mom appeared. The soda. I put two and two together. She had seen Kirby die, then most likely legged it up the stairs. None of us had noticed.

“She, uh, she went home,” I said. “Stomach ache.”

I turned away to get the trash bags, so she wouldn’t see my face. She always knew when I was lying, but right now she was to pre-occupied with Kirby to notice.

If Shannon was here, would she kill her too? She said herself, no witnesses. I handed Mom the trash bags, wondering what Shannon would do. Her parents weren’t home, so she would probably call the cops. Would they arrest Mom? Could they?

I watched as she moved the coffee table out of the way, opened several trash bags and laid them out on the floor. She rolled Kirby onto them. I saw his eyes, frozen open in terror, before he flopped face down onto the plastic.

“Mom, maybe you should turn yourself in,” I said.

She didn’t seem to hear me. Maybe I should call the cops. It was the right thing to do.

“Mom?”

“Sarah, we will talk once we get rid of the body. We can’t let your father see this.”

“Does Dad know? Is he like you?”

“No and no. He’ll be home soon. Go to the garage and open the trunk of my car. Move.”

I scuttled up the stairs as Mom wrapped the body and hoisted it over her shoulder like it weighed nothing.

Like he weighed nothing. It was still Kirby. His parents knew he was here. How did she expect to get away with this? I was an accomplice now.

I could tell Dad. He would know what to do. All these thoughts were flying through my brain. I had no idea what I was even doing. I realized I was in the garage.

Mom dumped the body in the trunk and slammed it closed.

“Now we need to clean up the blood.”

How many people has she killed? She is so calm. The thought sent a chill through me. Would she get rid of me just as easily if I turned on her?

We returned to the basement and Mom dumped half a bottle of bleach onto the carpet and started scrubbing.

“Clean your face,” she said.

It seemed like such a Mom thing to say that for a moment I couldn’t understand why she was saying it. Then I caught sight of my reflection in a mirror on the wall and I saw the blood sprayed across my face.

I grabbed some napkins, soaked them in water and started scrubbing my skin. I kept going even after it was gone. I could scrub for days and I would still see the blood there.

I’m the daughter of a murderous demon. Then it hit me. Mom was a demon, which made me a half demon. I stared at my hands, looking for claws, but they were normal looking.

Rushing to the mirror, I pulled back my lips to see if I had sprouted fangs.

“Sarah, what are you doing?” Mom asked.

“Looking for fangs,” I answered.

I saw Mom roll her eyes in the reflection. “We don’t have fangs. We’re not vampires.”

“We? So I am like you?”

“I said we would talk af…What’s this?”

I turned to find her holding Shannon’s backpack. Shit, she had left it behind.

“That’s mine,” I said.

She arched an eyebrow, turning the bag over to reveal the name SHANNON bedazzled onto it.

“Why would Shannon leave without her backpack?”

Her eyes travelled across the floor to the soda can and it all clicked into place for her.

“She saw!”

She barrelled toward the stairs and I forced myself to move in front of her, blocking her way.

“Mom! Please stop!” I cried, trying to hold her back.

“Get out of my way, Sarah. There can’t be any witnesses.”

“Please, Mom. It’s Shannon. She’s never hurt anyone.”

“And you think she’s just going to forget what happened? The cops are probably already on the way.”

“I’ll talk to her. I’ll convince her to keep quiet.”

“It’s not up to me, Sarah. There are rules. If I let a human live, then the Order will come, and they will kill us all. Your dad included. Is that what you want?”

I started crying, how could she put this on me?

Mom pushed past me and ran up the stairs. I chased after her. Shannon lived a few houses down from ours. The house was in darkness when we got there. Maybe Shannon had gone somewhere else. Like a neighbor’s house.

Mom banged on the door, then called, “Shannon, sweetie? Come out. It was all a big joke. There’s no need to be frightened.”

Her voice was all sweetness and light, but I could see the clenched fists. She was going to kill her.

I grabbed her arm. “Mom, don’t.”

She shook me off, grabbed the door handle and twisted it sharply. It broke off and the door swung open.

She marched into the house, moving swiftly from room to room, searching for Shannon. I followed her, my heart in my throat. Every time she opened a door, I expected to see Shannon, but the house was empty.

“Goddamnit!” Mom yelled. “Where the hell is she?”

“I don’t know,” I said, glad that she hadn’t found her. I couldn’t watch another friend die.

As Mom did another sweep, I stood in Shannon’s bedroom. I picked up one of her stuffed animals from the bed and hugged it to my chest.

“Wherever you are Shannon, don’t come home,” I whispered.

Maybe she ran into town to get the cops. I know if I was her, I would run and never stop. Shannon was always running away. As a child, whenever her parents would argue, she would run to the treehouse in the back yard. She hated conflict.

I peered outside, into the yard. I wonder… The yard was pitch black, I couldn’t even make out the treehouse from here, but I was sure she was there.

“Where would she go, Sarah?”

I jumped at Mom’s voice in my ear. I backed away from her.

“I don’t know. To a neighbor? Town? She could be anywhere.”

Mom looked like she was going to implode. “Let’s go,” she said finally.

Back home in the basement, Mom continued with her cleaning. I sank into a chair in the corner. I wondered how long Shannon would stay hidden. I needed to distract Mom, get her to forget about Shannon long enough for her to get somewhere safe.

“How many?” I asked.

“How many what?”

“People have you killed?”

She squeezed her rag out into a bucket, before adding more bleach. The carpet was destroyed, it would have to be replaced.

“That’s not something you need to hear,” she said finally.

“You said you were going to tell me when I turn eighteen. Why then? What happens when I turn eighteen?”

“Half demons start to exhibit powers at that age. I’m required to tell you, then the Order will test you and your abilities. Then they will give you a place in our world.”

“I don’t want a place in your world. I don’t want to be a killer like you.”

“That’s the human side of you talking. The Order will teach you how to block emotions. It will make things easier.”

“This is insane. Why are you living in suburbia? Why marry a human and have a kid? It makes no sense.”

“The old days when we were worshipped are gone. Nowadays we have to assimilate. Blend in with the humans. Two demons can’t procreate. We can only have children with humans. Better a watered down demon, than letting our kind die out.”

I wondered how many demons were out there. Acting like regular humans. Other moms, teachers? Cops?

“No,” I said, getting to my feet. “I don’t want this. I can’t deal with this.”

I headed for the stairs, wanting nothing more than to go to bed and hide under the covers until the world made sense again.

The sound of the front door closing stopped me. Dad?

“Sarah, keep your mouth shut. You’ve seen what happens when humans find out. Do you want your dad to end up like Kirby?”

“No,” I croaked.

She got to her feet. “You and Kirby had a fight and he stormed out. Shannon went home too. Kirby knocked over some soda which is what I’m cleaning up. Okay?” She had me by the shoulders.

“I’m home!” Dad called.

“Sarah!” Mom hissed.

“Okay,” I said, because what else could I do?

I didn’t want Dad to end up dead too. I went upstairs to find Dad taking off his coat.

“Hey, honey. Are you okay? You look upset.”

I choked back tears. “Um, yeah. Kirby and I had a fight.”

“Oh. I’m sorry, kiddo. I’m sure you two will work it out.”

“Yeah. I’m going to go to bed. I’m tired.”

“Okay, goodnight.”

“Night.”

Let Mom finish telling him the lies. I got into bed, not bothering to change. I curled up into a ball and shut my eyes. When I did, the events of tonight replayed and I saw it all again. I started to shake. I put my fist to my mouth to stop myself screaming.

Please let this be a bad dream. It can’t be real.


*


I jerked awake to find the sun streaming in my window.

Morning? When did I fall asleep?

“Sarah! Breakfast is ready.” Mom’s voice came from downstairs. It sounded normal. For a brief moment, I had hope. Hope that it had all been a crazy nightmare.

I got up and hurried downstairs. As I entered the kitchen, Mom was on the phone.

“No, Beverly, I haven’t seen Kirby since last night.”

Hope vanished. Kirby’s mom would call the cops. They would come here and ask questions.

I shoved my feet into my sneakers and ran out of the house.

I had no idea where I was going until I found myself in Shannon’s back yard. If her treehouse was good enough for her to hide in, then it was good enough for me. I climbed the wooden ladder and crawled inside. It was dark and cramped. It was fine when we were seven, but not now.

I found an old mouldy blanket and some of Kirby’s old action figures. I picked them up and clutched them in my hands. Poor Kirby.

Someone sniffed loudly, and I nearly screamed. I squinted in the darkness. There was someone huddled in the far corner.

“Shannon?”

“Are you going to kill me?” she said softly.

“No! Of course not.”

“What about Kirby? Your mom killed him, didn’t she?”

“Yes, but I didn’t know what she was. What she would do. I swear.”

“When my parents get home, I’m going to tell them everything. They’ll get her locked up.”

“You can’t do that, Shannon. She’ll kill them.”

Shannon started to cry. “Why is this happening?”

“I don’t know,” I whispered.

“Shannon, you have to run. It’s the only way you’ll be safe.”

“Run where? I have nowhere to go! No money.”

“I don’t know, Shannon. But if my mom sees you she will kill you. Please, just run.”

It took some persuading, but I finally convinced her to go. I acted as a lookout as she grabbed some things, including her life savings – 200 bucks. It was enough to buy her a bus ticket anyway. I had no idea where she would go after that, but wherever she went, she would be a hell of a lot safer.

Once she set off downtown, I went home to check Mom was still there. She was waiting for me in the kitchen.

“Where did you go?” she asked.

“I needed some air,” I said.

She came toward me, eyes blazing, but was interrupted by Dad wandering in, wearing only his boxers and a white t-shirt. “Did you say something about breakfast?” he asked, yawning.

She plastered on a smile. “Yes, dear. There’s bacon in the pan.”

She motioned for me to follow her into the living room.

“You know where she is, don’t you?”

I looked her straight in the eye. “I did. Not anymore. She has left town.”

“You little…If the Order finds out…”

“Who is going to tell them? I’m not. Think about it. Shannon and Kirby will both be missing. Do you want the cops looking for two bodies? Or two teenagers, madly in love, who ran away together?”

She frowned as she considered it. “You can sell that?”

“I’ll sell whatever you want, as long as no one else dies.”

She folded her arms. “As long as Shannon keeps her mouth shut and keeps moving, it could work.”

“Good. I’m going to get changed,” I said.

Back in my room, I changed my clothes. I found an old gym bag tucked at the back of my closet. Checking that Mom was still downstairs, I threw some clothes into it, then hid it under my bed. Mom might think everything was fine, but it wasn’t. I would stick around long enough to give Shannon a head start, then I was getting the hell out too. I just had to try and act normal until I saw my chance.

I went downstairs and ate breakfast with Dad. Poor, clueless Dad, who thought he had a perfectly normal family. If he knew what Mom was, would he hate her? Would he hate me? I hoped not. I didn’t plan on leaving a note when I went. There was so much I wanted to say to him.

I got up from the table and kissed his cheek. “Love you, Dad,” I said.

“Is that your subtle way of trying to get out of clean up?”

“No, I’ll do it later, I swear.”

As I was heading for the stairs, there was a knock on the front door. I froze. Who was it? Kirby’s parents? The cops?

Slowly, I made my way to the door and opened it. Two men stood on the other side, both dressed in black. The tall one looked like a wrestler, with dark hair and a beard. The other one was a foot shorter, bald with glasses.

They must be cops, I thought. My stomach clenched as I thought of the lies I would have to tell them.

“Hello, my dear. Is your mother home?” the bald man asked.

“Um, yeah. Mom!” I called. I didn’t like how shaky my voice sounded. They were going to know something was wrong. Mom appeared from the kitchen. When she saw the two men, her face turned white.

Way to look innocent, I thought.

“Sir, what an unexpected surprise,” she said.

“Sir?” I said. Why was she calling him sir? I caught on to who they were as they stepped into the house and closed the door.

Dad came into the hall. “Oh, we have guests.”

The big one lashed out, striking Dad in the face with such force, he flew back and hit the wall behind him, his body crumpling to the floor. I screamed and ran to his side.

“You killed him,” I screamed.

“Please! I have the situation under control,” Mom babbled.

“I don’t think so, Azareen. We’re here to clean up your mess.”



About the Author

S. K. Gregory writes horror, urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels. You can find out more about her books through her website

www.skgregory.com



Familiar Love

Kat Gracey



“I am never dating again,” Dana said, slamming the front door behind her.

Her best friend, Becky, looked up from her place on the couch. “Does that mean you’re into chicks now?”

“Very funny. Although after tonight, that might be a good idea. What is it with these jerks I end up with?”

She moved to the refrigerator and grabbed a pint of mint chocolate chip, her go to when she was having a bad day. Considering her luck lately, it was a wonder she didn’t weigh 300 pounds.

Becky was already waiting with two spoons.

“What was wrong with this one? He seemed perfect.”

“He was. On paper, anyway.” She paused to scoop some of the ice cream into her mouth, revelling in the minty goodness.

“We went to dinner, he was charming, polite, he even pulled out my chair for me. Who does that anymore? The last guy didn’t look up from his phone long enough to say hello. So we ordered food and we started talking about our jobs. I told him that I am a graphic designer and he said that he was a designer too. When I ask him a few questions, it was clear he was lying. So I called him on it. He laughed and said he was just trying to impress me. He didn’t even have a job, he lied and when I said I would never date a liar, he just lost it, started shouting, I’ve gone to so much trouble, why do I never get it right.”

“Sounds like he was really invested,” Becky said.

“It was one date!”

“Well, I’m sure the next one will be better,” Becky said.

“I don’t know, Bex. Maybe I should just give up and become a nun.”

Becky laughed. “You wouldn’t last a week. The right guy is out there. I promise.”

“Yeah, but he’s probably married.”

She left Becky with the ice cream and went to bed. It wasn’t that late, but she was tired.

Curled up in bed, she wondered if she was the problem when it came to dating. She was the common denominator.

Maybe I talk too much, or I’m saying something that turns them into psychopaths.

Unable to sleep, she grabbed her phone and opened the dating app that Becky had signed her up for. Becky did her due diligence, thoroughly checking out each guy, hunting them down online, before organising a date. Dana often wondered why she didn’t go into law enforcement as opposed to being a personal trainer.

Maybe Becky just sucks at picking guys, she thought. But she never agreed to any dates she didn’t want, so she couldn’t blame Becky either.

Dana flicked through the pictures, ignoring the personal info and focussing only on their appearance. She was too caught up in finding someone who was successful, who seemed to be going somewhere in life. It was time to try a different approach, to go with her gut for once. What did she have to lose?

She was scrolling for about fifteen minutes when someone caught her eye.

Caramel colored eyes and a warm smile, specifically, caught her eye. According to his profile, his name was Marc and he was a veterinarian.

Score.

And as luck would have it, he lived within three miles of her.

Grinning, Dana sent him a message, not expecting a reply, but one came through less than five minutes later.

This is so weird, I was looking at your profile during lunch, but I was still working up the nerve to send you a message.’

When Dana glanced at the clock again, it was 2am. She had been talking to Marc for hours.

I should really get some sleep.’

Sorry, I should have realized the time. Could we meet for coffee? Tomorrow?’

Definitely.’

Dana went to sleep with a smile on her face.


*


“Where are you off to?” Becky asked, as Dana passed her on the way out the door. She didn’t want to say anything to jinx the date, but she was too excited.

“I’m going on a date.” She held up her phone with a picture of Marc on it.

“What? With who?” Becky said, leaping over the couch to snatch her phone. “Who is this guy?”

“His name is Marc, I was talking to him last night. We’re going to get coffee at the diner near the mall.”

“I thought we agreed to decide together on who you date.”

Dana laughed. “I don’t need your permission. He seems nice, and it’s just coffee.”

Becky frowned. “What happened to becoming a nun?”

“The nunnery can wait. I have to go, I’m going to be late.”

“But wait…”

Dana hurried out, ignoring Becky. She didn’t want to show up late, some girls might believe it was fashionable, but Dana thought it was just rude.

She had butterflies in her stomach and she couldn’t help but wonder if her bad luck streak was finally over.

Marc was waiting for her when she arrived. He was dressed in a dark blue shirt and khakis. He stooped to kiss her cheek when she greeted him.

“It’s nice to meet you,” he said. “And can I sound completely cliché and say that you look more beautiful than your picture?”

Dana felt herself blushing. “Oh, thank you. That’s sweet of you to say.”

They took a seat at one of the tables. “What would you like to drink?” Marc asked.

“I’ll have a latte, please.”

Dana watched him walk away from the table and it was quite the view. She fanned herself with a menu.

When he returned with their drinks they started talking about what they liked doing.

“Don’t laugh at me, but I actually like ice skating,” Marc said. “It’s a great way to unwind.”

“I love ice skating, I would beg my mom to take me to the rink every week. We should totally go.”

“I’d love to. I don’t really get a lot of free time with work, but I love what I do.”

“I would love to work with animals, but I don’t know how you deal with it when they have to be put to sleep. I would be a wreck.”

“I’m not going to lie, I get choked up at times.”

“Do you have any animals of your own?”

He lifted his phone. “I do, actually. This is Lola.”

He showed her a picture of a husky puppy with big blue eyes.

“Oh my God, she’s gorgeous!” Dana cried, earning her a few looks from the other customers.

“She’s a sweetie,” Marc said. “Maybe you could meet her some time?”

“I’d love to.”

“I’m just going to go to the restroom,” Marc said.

Dana pulled out her phone and shot off a quick text to Becky. It’s going great. I love him!

She finished her latte as she waited for Marc to return. He was taking a long time, she hoped that nothing was wrong with him. Or he’s busy climbing out the restroom window!

She started tapping her fingers on the table. What if he had left? Maybe he was just too polite to say anything, and he took the coward’s way out.

If he has run off, I’m going to die of embarrassment.

Just as she was about to leave herself, he appeared from the restroom. She breathed a sigh of relief.

His shirt looked a little crumpled and he seemed out of breath. What the hell was he doing?

“Is everything okay?” Dana asked.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, fine.”

“You were gone a long time.”

He glanced back toward the restrooms. “Oh, yeah, I got a phone call. Sorry.”

“Was it something serious? Do you need to leave?”

“No, of course not. I’m happy here with you.”

He took her hand in his. Dana felt her brain turn to mush as he gazed at her with his gorgeous eyes.

“Why don’t we go back to my place?” he said.

“What? It’s the middle of the afternoon. Oh, you mean to meet your dog.”

“My what?” he asked.

“Your dog, Lola.”

“Oh! Yeah, sure, that. And we can, you know…” he waggled his eyebrows at her.

“We just met. I’ve known you less than a day,” she said, shocked that he would suggest it. He seemed like a decent guy.

“Well it feels like it’s been a lot longer. Let’s just be honest, you like me, you’re hot as hell, what’s stopping us? Let’s fu…”

Dana slapped him in the face. “You’re a pig.”

She stormed out of the diner and back to her car. What a creep! He seemed so nice, where the hell did that guy go? But of course, it was all an act to get into her pants. She felt like such an idiot.

As she was getting into her car she glanced in the diner window. Marc was standing in his boxers! He had stripped off his clothes! What the hell?

Dana wasn’t waiting around for him to come after her, she jumped in the car and sped away.

As she entered the apartment, Becky appeared from her room, visibly panting.

“What’s wrong with you?” Dana asked.

“I…was…on the…treadmill.”

“Really? I thought it was just for hanging your clothes on.”

“Ha ha,” Becky said, dropping onto the couch.

Dana rolled her eyes. She was going to injure herself if she wasn’t careful. The girl was supposed to be a personal trainer, but she was the most unfit person Dana had ever met. She was tempted to check out one of her classes at some point to see if she actually worked out or if she just sat in the corner eating donuts and yelling at people.

“How did your date go?” she asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“That bad?”

“He stripped off his clothes in front of a diner full of people.”

“Oookay. That’s weird.”

“I am done with men. I mean it this time.”

Becky looked like she didn’t believe her but didn’t say anything.

“I think I’m jinxed,” she muttered.

“Or you’re too picky,” Becky said.

“What!”

“Well, there’s always a problem with every guy.”

“They are legitimate reasons! What are you saying? That I should have gone back to a stranger’s house for a quick bunk up?”

“Maybe it would loosen you up,” Becky muttered.

Dana stared at her friend in disbelief. How could she say that? Dana grabbed the mint chocolate chip and stormed into her room, slamming the door behind her.


*


Dana sat at the desk in her room, staring at the sheet of paper in front of her. It was a list of traits she wanted in a man, something she had written a long time ago. She hadn’t even shown it to Becky. Why was it so crazy to want to find the right guy? What was the point in wasting time and energy on a relationship that was going nowhere?

On her list she had caring, successful, funny, smart, loyal and good looking.

“I’m going to die alone,” she said.

She really needed to shower and dress. As she stood up, a breeze from the open window blew the sheet of paper outside.

“Crap,” she said. She didn’t want anyone finding that.

She shoved her feet into her boots and ran outside to find it. She found it fluttering in a hedge near her window. As she leaned over to grab it, it fluttered free and blew up and over her head.

She turned, just as it landed at a man’s feet. He bent down to pick it up.

“Is this yours?”

She was too stunned to speak. The man in front of her was a God! He was tall, with dark brown hair, blue eyes and she could see every muscle through his tight t-shirt.

“Huh?”

He waved the sheet of paper. “Are you looking for this?”

“Oh. Yes, thank you.”

She took it from him, quickly stuffing it into the pocket of her robe. My robe? Oh crap.

She had come out wearing her pink fluffy robe over her Mickey Mouse pajamas. I must look awful.

Pulling the robe closed, she raked a hand through her hair, hoping it wasn’t standing on end.

“I’m Ben,” he said.

“Uh, Dana. Nice to meet you.”

“I uh, caught a peek at your list. If they are your attributes, then you may be my dream woman.”

Dana laughed. “Oh my God, I’m so embarrassed. It is actually a list of things I am looking for in a guy.”

“May I?” he asked, holding out his hand for the list.

Reluctantly, she handed it over, feeling her cheeks go red. He read through it. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and well, you tell me.”

Dana took the list back. “You’re certainly confident, but for all I know you could be lying.”

“Well, there’s only one way to find out. Dinner?”

Despite everything that had happened, she found herself saying yes.


*


I must be insane, Dana thought. After all the crappy dates she had been on, she was actually considering another one, but there was something different about Ben. She couldn’t deny that there was chemistry, and the page landing at his feet seemed like fate.

Ben was waiting by the pier when she arrived.

“Hi, I thought we could grab something to eat in that little restaurant,” he said, pointing to a place just down the shore.

“Sounds great.”

Ben let her do most of the talking while they ate, but he was funny and charming. He worked as a doctor. When they had finished eating, they took a walk on the beach.

“Look, dinner was great,” Ben said. “But before I say something stupid, I need to tell you something.”

“Okay, that sounds serious.”

He stopped walking and ran a hand through his hair. “Okay, it’s probably best to just come right out and say it. This isn’t our first date.”

“Uh, I’m pretty sure it is.”

“No, it’s like the 20th date.”

“You’ve lost me,” Dana said.

“That’s the problem. Every time we go on a date, it ends with you walking out. I have tried literally everything, but it always ends badly.”

“Ben, I think you’ve lost your mind.”

“I’m not Ben, or Marc, or Oliver. My real name is Larry.”

Dana looked around to see if there was anyone nearby she could call for help. I’ve done it again!

“Dana,” he said.

She looked up to find Marc standing in front of her. “What the hell?” she cried backing away. She stumbled in the sand and fell on her butt. Marc took a step toward her and as she watched, he changed into Ben again. He actually physically changed into another person.

“How…huh…wha…” She had lost the ability to form words.

“I’m a shapeshifter. I can look like anyone.”

She shook her head, this couldn’t be happening.

“I’ve been trying to create the perfect date with you, but you always seem to find fault. Nothing I do is good enough.”

“No, you can’t be every guy I’ve dated, that isn’t possible.”

“I have a lot of dating profiles, it’s actually very expensive to keep up this ruse. The point is I’m in love with you. I want us to be together. You’re obviously attracted to me, and if you get bored with one body I can switch to another. What do you say?”

Dana thought back over all the dates. The rude, obnoxious behaviour, the crazy antics.

“No! You’re crazy. Just stay the hell away from me.”

She got up and started running.


*


Back at the apartment, Dana locked the doors, checking to make sure the apartment was empty. How could this be happening? A shapeshifter? She had seen plenty on TV, but never imagined that they were real.

How many of her dates had been with…Larry, was it? She felt her flesh crawl, to deceive someone like that. She was so glad she had never gone home with them…him!

Her phone rang and she screamed at the sudden noise. She answered it without checking who was calling.

“Hello?”

“Dana, don’t run away from me. We are meant to be together.”

She hung up the phone. He sounded desperate, was he dangerous? He could be literally anyone, who could she trust? If she went to the cops, they would laugh in her face. Even if they did believe her, how would they ever catch him? He could do an entire line up by himself!

Her phone buzzed, he had sent her a text message. I can’t live without you, Dana. We are going to be together one way or another.

“Shit, shit, shit,” she said.

The front door opened causing her to scream.

“What’s wrong?” Becky said.

“Oh thank God, it’s only you. Close the door, quick!” She wasn’t sure if he could make himself look like a woman, but Becky used her key to get in.

“Why?”

She pushed Becky aside and locked the door. “Some sick creep is after me.”

“What? Who?”

“It’s too hard to explain, but we can’t stay here. Let’s leave. We can go to my parents’ cabin.”

“Are you crazy? We can’t just up and leave.”

“We have to. I’ll explain everything once we get there. Pack a bag.”

Dana threw some clothes into a bag, she decided to leave her phone behind. That way she didn’t have to read any more of his messages. She practically dragged Becky out the door.

Once they were on the road, she kept glancing in the rear view mirror every few seconds to make sure they weren’t being followed.

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Becky asked.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Try me.”

Dana sighed. “You know that guy I went on a date with.”

“Which one?” Becky said sarcastically.

“Yeah, that’s the problem. They were all the same guy.”

“What? Like someone in disguise?”

“Something like that.”

“No, they looked nothing alike.”

“I don’t know how to explain it, just trust me. This guy is a total stalker. I just need to get away for a few days, so I can decide what to do.”

“Why don’t you just call the police?”

“Because…he’s a master of disguise.”

We arrived at the cabin a few hours later. As far as I could tell, we weren’t followed. Becky grumbled the whole way but didn’t demand that I turn around, so I guess she believed me.

“There’s no wi-fi,” she said as soon as we walked in.

“You’ll survive.”

“Where’s your phone?”

“I left it behind.”

“Seriously? What are we supposed to do here? At least tell me there is a TV.”

“Nope.”

“This blows.”

Dana left her in the living room while she put her bag in one of the bedrooms. She was exhausted after everything that had happened. All she wanted to do was sleep.

Maybe I’ll just rest my eyes for a minute.

The next thing she knew, she was waking up and it was morning. She rolled over on the bed to find Ben beside her.

“Good morning,” he said.

Screaming, she leapt up and ran from the room.

“Becky! Where are you? We have to leave.”

There was no sign of her. She opened the door and raced outside. Maybe Becky had gone for a walk. Or he has murdered her.

“Dana.”

She turned to find Becky in the doorway. “Oh my God, Becky, get out of there. He’s here,” she hissed.

“I know.”

“What do you mean? Did you let him in?”

“No, you did.”

“What? What are you…?”

Becky disappeared to be replaced by Ben.

“Oh my God. No. What did you…? Where’s Becky? What did you do to her?”

“Nothing. I am Becky. I have been all along.”

“No, that’s impossible.”

“Is it?” he said with Becky’s voice. “Why do you think I was so eager to help you find a boyfriend? Why I sat with you, listening to you whine about how no one was good enough for you? When you arranged that date with Marc? You really tested me there. I had to knock the guy out in the restroom and steal his clothes.”

Dana stopped. “So you lived in my house, learned everything about me and you still don’t measure up? What does that tell you?”

“That you’re too picky.”

“That I’m not interested! Take a hint!”

He lunged at her, but she dodged him and got into the car. He banged on the hood. “I’ve come too far, Dana. We are going to be together.”

She started the car. “Wanna bet?”

Revving the engine, she jerked it forward, trying to get him to move. He lifted a rock and hefted it at the windshield. Dana covered her face as it broke the glass.

“Get out of the car!” he roared.

Dana threw the car into drive and gunned the engine. The car shot forward, hitting him. He was flung over the hood. Dana kept driving straight towards a tree. Hitting it head on, Ben was pinned between the car and the tree.

Dana got out of the car on shaky legs. Ben morphed into Becky, blood dripped down her chin.

“I just wanted you to love me.”

“I’m sorry,” Dana sobbed.

She grinned. “I guess I got what I wanted. You’ll never date another man again. You’ll always wonder…”









About the Author

Kat Gracey is a paranormal romance author from Northern Ireland. She enjoys reading and yoga. Check out her website

www.witchesandwerewolves.co.uk







OMFG!

DJ Doyle


1

I’ve been a little concerned about Father Dylan since that night in Tipperary at the late stage possession, he’s been a tad quiet and not as sociable as before. I’d even go as far as to say he was being a right grumpy tosspot.

Maybe he’d had enough of this line of work, who knows?

I mean it’s not like we get paid well, there is no fame and fortune, and we risk our own lives. Sometimes I wonder why I still do it. Then my memories come flooding back like a tsunami; my sister. After the possession, I went to visit her. She’s in a looney bin. Wait, I shouldn’t say that… she’s in an ‘institution for the mentally ill’. Yes, that’s the politically correct wording. I’m not allowed to say what everyone is thinking. All this political correctness drives me fecking mad.

This offends me. That offends me,’... what a load of bullshit. So fucking what? Just because someone is offended, doesn’t give them entitlement. And that is what is wrong with the snowflakes of the new generation, they think they’re entitled. Well, fuck that! If they had to struggle like the generations before, they’d be happier, not always wanting to achieve everything out of reach.

Jaysus, I’m going off on a rant with me, myself, and I.

So, after a few hours of tossing and turning in a local hotel that night, I decided to visit Katherine as the sun started to peak over the hills. I hadn’t a clue what I was gonna say, I didn’t know if she would remember me. Drugs may have had an adverse effect on her brain, making a zombie out of a demon. Father Niall dropped me off in the paddywagon while the lads slept off the after effects of the possession, it really does take a lot out of a person. I remember my first... not the first I saw, which was my sister’s, the first demon I vanquished back into their own realm. After my training and a mission in Africa, I returned home and felt I could do more. More than giving a sermon to a congregation of sinners, more than listening to individuals tell me their sordid details, and more than putting kids through a rigmarole of the Sacraments. To say children wouldn’t enter heaven because they were not baptised is a shameful statement. The longer I stayed as a parish priest, the more I despised the practices of the Catholic Church. I knew there was a division who conducted exorcisms, I had seen them myself, I just had to connect with the right people. After some research, I demanded to see the Cardinal of Ireland. He refused, of course, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to talk with the little bollocks. I kept track of his diary, which didn’t take long, and followed him on many of his visits around Ireland. I bided my time, and I finally followed him into a public toilet containing three stalls. He went into the one farthest from the door, I went in the middle cubicle.

“Cardinal Burn,” my voice echoed throughout the bathroom, “I’m Father Jack Malone. I have been trying to talk to you for many months now. I want to be on the ‘other realm’ team.”

“This is not the time or place to discuss this topic. Make an appointment with my secretary,” he answered.

I could tell he was not amused.

“Stop talking shite, will ye. I’ve tried that… numerous times. You’ve avoided every call, every invite. I’m sick and tired of trying to meet you in the middle here. I had to be proactive and take the bull by the balls.”

Cardinal Burn nearly choked on his cough.

“You’re insubordinate. I won’t have it.”

“And I won’t take no for an answer. My sister was a victim, I understand what I’m getting into. You put me forward for the ‘other realm’ team, and I won’t bother you in the crapper again.”

He grunted and flushed the toilet.

“Leave it with me and leave me alone from now on.”

The dirty little fucker ran out the door and didn’t wash his hands. That is a pet hate of mine. If someone shakes his hand now, they’re practically holding his balls in their palm. I’m glad he left the room, I didn’t want to thank him with a handshake.



2


A week later, the phone call came. Father Seán invited me over to his quaint apartment in the suburbs to talk. When he opened the door, his short and stout frame was opposite to what I expected from someone who fights demons to look like, and opposite to my tall, lanky frame. He already knew everything about me, so I didn’t need to talk about Katherine or my mission.

“You’re on the team, Jack, this is just a formality. I wanted to meet you before we receive a call. I know you’ve seen an exorcism, but have you ever closed a large portal?”

I didn’t know, I hadn’t seen a large open portal before. Just the one the Father’s opened to suck that bastard out of my sister.

“Nope, never. Only the minor ones that suck those fuckers back to their realm.”

Father Seán explained the different realms, that we know of, and what some are capable of. What shocked me most was the realm that focused on kids to devour, only because the slimy fuckers were a little shorter than most adults and easily overpowered most kids. I blocked my mind and covered my ears with invisible muffs so as not to hear what they did with the kids once they sucked them through the portal. Some want slaves, and they’re mighty fuckers. Giants I suppose. They look just like us, yet on a bigger scale, and their eyes are close together. I believe this is where the legends of giants and the cyclops come from. Over the next couple of hours, Father Seán went through every realm and exorcism he’d encountered. My jaw hit the floor a couple of times, reality smacked it open and shoved a dose of the real world down my throat.

It was three weeks later when my first assignment came in. I nearly shit my pants, it had been so long since I saw someone in that condition. I was nervous, and my stomach churned. I vomited.

Pull yourself together, Jack.

We drove to Dublin city centre in a van, this was before we had the paddywagon, and parked outside a large block of apartments. Six priests jumped out of the van and Father Seán rang the buzzer for apartment six on the fourth floor. Buildings were never too high in Dublin. We scuttled upstairs, by the drunk on the steps, hollering his incoherent rant, until he saw the white collar, then it was like - “Oh, hey der, Fatherz. Godz bless, Godz bless.”

The smell of piss and shit drifted up my nose, my feet moved a little quicker away from him. I heard a loud fart while we were a floor above and an echoed slur.

“Shorry, shorry, Fathers.”

When we found the apartment, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up like a meerkat watching for a predator. I shuddered, and dread crept over my soul; I hadn’t felt this way since my sister. My body wouldn’t move, it wouldn’t go through the door frame.

“Are you okay, Jack?” asked Father Seán.

“I can feel it. It’s fighting to hold on, but she’s strong and is desperately clutching to life, her life,” I answered.

The dumbfounded expression on Father Seán’s face said it all. “I never said it was a girl. How did you know?”

I didn’t know, my senses were on high alert, and I felt its presence. My gut, my instincts, my sixth sense… one of them, all of them wedged into the crevasses of my brain. I shrugged my shoulders and forced my body into the apartment by holding onto the frame and pulling. It didn’t want me there.

Father Niall, Ronan, Tadhg, and Ruaidhrí were preparing the religious ‘fake’ tasks, like the holy water, the Bible, and the crucifix. Father Seán took me aside and handed me salt. A little canister of salt. My brows covered half of my vision…

‘Huh?’

“Their weakness is salt. It burns their skin, it hurts them. We don’t know why, the pagans discovered it centuries ago with dried sea salt.”

At that moment, I experienced a flashback of when my sister was surrounded by priests. They sprinkled white dust everywhere. I didn’t know what it was at the time. Reality just hit me then and there, no wait… Father Seán just slapped me across the cheek.

“Snap out of your daze, will ye. I need your head in the game. The fecker keeps staring at you and snapping.”

I hadn’t even looked at the girl when I walked in, I think subconsciously I was afraid to. Maybe because of the terror I felt as a boy with my sister. Maybe it was because I knew it felt me, too. One thing was for sure, neither of us were happy to be in each other’s company.

“Get him out! Get him out!” it screamed, in such a deep hoarse voice. Her parents stood against the wall and wailed when they heard this voice projecting out of the fragile body of their little girl.

“Stop it, Janice. This is not you,” her mother said.

I turned to see a tiny girl spitting yellow slime down her cheek and gnashing her teeth. She growled and squinted her eyes. “Yes, you. Get out of here.”

It was then I knew this was my calling, my destiny. It feared me. All eyes in the room rested on me, waiting for a word, a reaction. I shrugged my shoulders like it was no big deal, but secretly I was trembling inside. I didn’t want to show the demon my weakness.

It hissed and pulled the restraints holding the girl’s arms. They had to use net stockings as cuffs, belts and rope were too big, those little hands would slip through most. Her mother and father knelt on the ground and held their hands together in prayer. Oh boy, like that’s going to help.

When I reached closer to them, their eyes opened, and they raised their heads in unison. Scratches decorated the delicate skin, with purple bruising on cheeks and eyes. Their shame etched into the blackness of the coagulated blood in the centre of each scratch, their guilt shone on the blood spots under their skin.

“Trust me. There is nothing you could do to prevent this from happening, and it’s not your fault.” Father Seán squeezed their shoulders in support. He asked them to do menial tasks to keep them busy while we worked on Janice. Father Niall assessed the girl’s eyes and checked her vitals.

“It isn’t a late stage possession, this is not gonna be too hard,” he said.

Father Tadhg, a tall, dark skinny man, read from the Bible while Ruaidhrí, blond with blue eyes, splashed the water on the bed. The demon just laughed at their attempts, not knowing the real fight was about to come. Father Seán and I sprinkled the salt on the body. It roared out of Janice’s little mouth. As I crumbed the salt from my fingers, the skin blistered and little puffs of smoke accumulated and spiralled up towards the ceiling. Scorch marks spread like wildfire.

“Leave her now before you end up in oblivion,” Father Seán demanded. He took two black crystals from his pocket, tourmaline, and rubbed them. Crystals are pyroelectric, which generates electricity and stores an electrical charge, causing it to release negative ions and infrared radiation.

A portal opened, and the vacuum sucked the demon from its tiny host. It held on to her being with all its might. A high-pitched scream came from the doorway, Janice’s mother, anchored to the ground, hollered from the bottom of her lungs and her face looked like a slapped arse. We do our best not to let the parent or parents see that part, the fright could make them pass out. If they had a weak heart, who knows what damage it would do.

“For fuck’s sake. Father Tadhg, get her outta here,” ordered Father Seán.

Father Tadhg gently pulled the terrified statue of a woman outside the room and into the kitchen and advised the panicked husband to give her something strong to drink.

In the meantime, during the kerfuffle, the demon tried to re-enter its host.

“Quick,” Father Seán passed me the crystals. I think he wanted to see how I reacted under pressure. The portal had diminished in size and lost its vibrant colours. I rubbed the crystals, and within seconds, the portal expanded, flashed brightly, and sucked the demon from her soul and back into its realm. The only legacy it left was the echo of a shriek which quivered my eardrum.

The other priests stood with their mouths gaped in astonishment.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Did ye see tha’?” Father Niall nudged Seán in the arm. His red nose, from years of alcohol abuse, twitched in amazement. I suppose this job would drive you to drink. You could tell he drank the hard stuff like vodka and whiskey, otherwise he’d have a beer belly and look like a pigeon with those skinny legs.

“Yes, I did.” Father Seán didn’t say much after that. He said a brief farewell to Janice, her parents, and us, then said he had to go somewhere.

Did I do something wrong?



3



At home, after a pint with the lads in the pub to celebrate our victory, a loud bang on the door awoke me from a snooze on my chair. My heart raced, thinking my house was on fire and I didn’t know about it. When I peeked through the spyhole, I saw the back of a vertically challenged white-haired man. It was Father Seán. I slowly opened the door and welcomed him in.

“What can I do you for at this time of night? Is something wrong, Seán?”

“Take a seat, Jack. I need to talk to you.”

I pointed towards the sofa and gestured for Seán to sit, and I sat in my old comfy reclining leather chair.  It was worn down to the threads, but I would never get rid of it. Every evening I slid into my imprinted groove that my arse had made over the last ten years.

“Jack… I’m getting too old for this line of work. I want you to take over the running of the team. Listen and don’t interrupt. I know what you’re gonna say… you’ve only attended one exorcism, but you’re a natural. Actually, you’re more than a natural. I think this is your calling, your destiny. I have never seen anyone open a portal and suck in a demon that quick. I know it wasn’t a late stage, but that demon feared you. I’ve never seen that before,” he said, scratching his head. “The thing is, I’m sick. I’ve got cancer and not long left. My brother invited me to Australia for my last few months, he’s the only family I have left in this world. So, will you do it?”

How could I refuse?


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