[Well, this is it folks! Here are the final FREE chapters of the ALLEN TOMBES saga, which I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy if you actually read them! (If you’re a fan of horror, science fiction, urban fantasy, or Y.A. adventure, that is.) If you like what you’ve read so far, I’ll be posting the rest of the novella, all 37,000+ words of it, at the Primitive Patreon page, in serialized fashion, over the next several weeks! And all YOU have to do is sign up to contribute a buck a month, and you can read the whole dang thing. In addition, if you become a contributor, you’ll get the SATISFACTION of knowing that you’re helping an INDEPENDENT CREATIVE TEAM make things that would not exist in this reality without your involvement! Cosmically speaking, that’s pretty cool! So go ahead and read these final free chapters, and then decide for yourself if this seems like a project that is worth supporting! I know you’ll do the RIGHT THING!!!! (Ha!) Thanks for reading!!! —RFY]
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 5)
Allen called for Chris but got no answer. He waited, watching out the window until the last bits of tooth and claw had melted into the lawn, then he closed his window and locked it. He walked back to his bed and sat down.
“That was Chris. He’s still alive,” he said.
Allen got up and walked out of his room, down the hall to his parents’ door. He hesitated for a moment, hand on the doorknob, then turned it and went in.
“Mom,” he whispered. He saw his father on the opposite side of the bed twitch and move.
“Mom,” he said, a bit louder.
“Huh? What?” she said, opening one eye. “Allen?”
“I saw Chris,” he said.
His Mom looked at him for a moment then closed her eye again, frowning, and said, “Oh, sweetie. Go back to bed.”
“No, Mom, I really saw him! He was in my room!”
“Allen,” his Dad said in a tired, grouchy voice, “I’ve got to get up in just a few hours to go back to work.”
“But, Dad, it was really him!”
“Please, hon’,” his Mom said. “Can we talk about it in the morning?” She rolled over.
Allen stood there for a few seconds, then said good night, softly. He closed his parents’ door. Allen thought about waking Rose up to tell her, but went back to his own room instead.
He laid back down in bed and held the gargoyle charm tightly in his hands. It was still warm, but he knew now that the warmth meant safety. If it got hot again…
He kept his eyes on the window, terrified of seeing more smoke, trying to get back to sleep, but he knew it was useless. He watched as the sky slowly turned grey, then orange, and then he finally heard the alarm clock start to beep in his parents’ room.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 6)
He was tired and distracted at school the next day, sluggish and withdrawn. Several of his friends and even a couple of teachers asked him if he was feeling well. He said he was just tired, which was mostly true, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone about what he’d seen. Not even Wallace, a fellow horror fan.
As soon as school was out, however, Allen practically ran to Chaz’s shop.
“Chaz!” he yelled before the doorbell had even clanged behind him. “Chaz! Where are you?”
Again, Chaz’s grey head peaked out of the doorway to the office. “Oh, hey Allen! You finish those Lovecraft books already?”
“Well, yeah, but that’s not why I’m here,” Allen said as he hopped over a pile of magazines to get behind the counter. He was almost breathless as he sped toward the office door. “Where did you get this necklace?” Allen held the charm out by its leather string, but didn’t take it off. He wouldn’t take it off, now, for anything.
Chaz’s face went pale, the usual smile dissolving into worry, an expression Allen had never seen on his friend’s face before.
“It worked, then?” Chaz asked, in a low voice. “It must have if you’re standing here.”
“Chaz, where?” Allen said as calmly as he could.
“He was right,” Chaz mumbled to himself. “Damn,” Chaz looked at the charm hanging around Allen’s neck for a few seconds, then looked Allen in the eyes.
“It’s a Druidic charm, kid. A protective spell is etched on the back, powerful stuff. Your brother sent it to me.”
Allen stared at Chaz, his mouth open slightly. Chaz looked ashamed of himself.
“Chris sent it to you?” Allen said, nearly a whisper.
“Yeah, his letter said to give it to you right away. I hoped he was just being overly cautious. I should’a known by now to trust his instincts.”
Allen stood there, stunned. He had so many questions that they jammed in his throat and none of them would come out.
Chaz stood up, patted Allen on the shoulder. We’ve got to talk, kid. Just a sec’.” Chaz stepped around Allen and walked to the door of the shop, his short, thick legs moving quickly. Chaz twisted the metal clasp on the door and the lock snapped closed, then he flipped a little sign in the window that said, “Be Back When I’m Damn Well Ready,” and walked back to the office. He pointed at a stool in the corner, with only had a few paperback books on it, and said, “You better sit. I’ve got some heavy shit to lay on you.”
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 7)
“You’ve got troubles, my man. Big, bad, and nasty. Not your fault though—comes with the genes, your mother’s side, the Brewsters. I have a book on old ‘Rabbit’ Brewster, somewhere around here. He was a legend!” Chaz turned to a huge bookshelf and started scanning spines.
“Chaz! What are you talking about? Do you know where my brother is?” Allen’s eyes were wild. His hands shaking.
“What? Oh, I guess I can find the book later,” Chaz sat down in his office chair. He drummed his fingers on the arms of the chair and chewed on his bottom lip.
“Chaz—where is my brother?” Allen said, trying to sound low and cool. It almost worked.
“Right now? I don’t know. I’ve only ever seen the guy two or three times in person. He’s a bit intense—kinda scary, if you ask me. But he asked me a couple of years ago to keep an eye on you. I said I’d do my best.”
“But why? Why you? If he’s been alive all this time, why didn’t he just come home?”
“Hold kid,” Chaz interrupted. “Hold it. Let’s slow down. ‘Why me?’ Because I know things,” he winked. “I’m a merchant, I got connections. And I’m close by. Why doesn’t he come home? Because he’s busy. He’s seriously freakin’ busy. Doing what, I’m sure you’re gonna ask? That’s where things get sticky. I need you to listen carefully here because this is real important.”
Chaz stopped drumming his fingers, and his cheeks lost color. He breathed in deeply.
“People are not the only intelligent things on this planet, and I’m not talkin’ dolphins or sign-language usin’ monkeys. There’s other things here too. Lots of ‘um. They have the ability to hide themselves from most people, but every once in a while, only the Gods know why, you get some people who’re immune to their mind control shit, and they can tell. They usually know who can see and hear them, and they don’t like it.” Chaz continued to stare at Allen’s eyes, watching as comprehension dawned on his face.
“So that smokey thing in my room last night, that was one of them?”
“You saw… You can…” Chaz stood up and paced his office. “Shit. Shit. He was right.”
“It came in through my window, but Chris was there. He killed it. Then he jumped out of the window and, I think, killed more of them in the lawn.”
“Damn it…” Chaz stopped pacing and looked at Allen again. “You don’t get it, Allen. If you’ve seen one, they know! They’ll ALL know. They… You’re not safe here!”
“But Chris killed it! I’m sure it’s going to be okay. It couldn’t have told anyone that I could see it,” Allen said, but his body had gone cold, and he knew… He knew Chaz wasn’t lying. He knew that things were out there, watching, and hunting. He knew why people had always been afraid of the dark. He knew all of this, but he didn’t want to believe it.
“There was a whole group of them,” Allen said, “but Chris killed them.”
“That’s not the way it works with Shadows, Allen. They’re all linked up, like psychically. What one knows, they all know. Damn it! I gotta think.” Chaz started pacing again, chewing his nails as he walked back and forth. Allen, who had been hoping only to find out the origins of his necklace when he came into the shop, now felt very small and very cold. His heart thumped painfully against his ribs.
From outside the office door, Allen heard a sound like rushing winds. Papers fluttered, and a few small items sounded like they hit the floor, then there was silence. Chaz opened a drawer, quietly, and pulled out what looked like an ancient revolver. The sound of heavy footsteps moved outside the doorway approaching the office. Chaz raised his finger to his lips, then poked his head carefully out the office door just as a large creature stepped into Allen’s line of sight. It was the size and posture of an ape, but hairless, with reddish-brown scaly skin, and a lizard’s face. Allen gasped, covering his mouth with both hands.
“Hey! Haro! Good to see you, my man!” Chaz said, suddenly chipper again. The creature extended a huge clawed hand toward Chaz, palm up, and Chaz slapped him a low five. Chaz flipped his hand and the creature, slapped, rather carefully, back.
“Allen, this is Haro!” Chaz said. “He’s a Simmeron, one of your brother’s buddies,” he said, noting the look of horror still on Allen’s face.
“The child is here,” the creature said in a voice so low and deep that it sounded like a train rumbling far away. It was a voice that Allen remembered from a nightmare, nearly five years earlier. The creature moved out of the doorway, and Chris stepped passed him and into the office.
He was taller than Allen remembered, skinnier too. His blue eyes seemed darker, ringed by bluish circles, almost like bruises, and his usual mischievous smile was missing, replaced by a flat, emotionless expression that gave Allen the creeps. But it was Chris.
Allen stood up, looking at his brother, who seemed to be assessing him. It was obvious that he didn’t like what he was seeing. Chris had a dark blue shirt on, black jeans, and a black denim jacket. His hair was much too long and unkempt, which made the haunted look around his eyes more disturbing.
“Chaz,” Chris said, “he needs a weapon. Something solid to channel into. Send the bill to the company.”
“Chris, where have you been? Why didn’t you come home?” Allen said, anger and sadness in his voice.
“I couldn’t,” Chris said, his voice still flat. “I had to stay away to protect the family. I hoped I’d never see any of you again.”
“How can you say that?! Mom was destroyed when you disappeared! And Rose! The police even thought that Dad might have murdered you!” Years of sorrow welled up in Allen’s eyes.
“Listen, Allen, none of that matters now. Chaz, the weapon.” Allen was shocked into silence.
“Oh, yeah. He’s had his eye on a jade handled samurai blade, 17th century. Maybe part of him knew this was coming,” Chaz said.
“Will it work?” Chris asked.
“Yeah, absolutely. Few blades better.”
“Fine. Let him have it, and gather up any other charms or items that you think will protect him. Do it as quickly as possible. The company will cover anything he needs.”
Chris turned back to Allen. Tears were dropping down the boy’s cheeks, but his face was hard.
“I’m sorry it has to be this way, Allen. I really am, but right now you need to be protected until we can get you somewhere safe. It’s going to be dark in a few hours.” Chris turned to look at Chaz, who quickly fled the office. Chris turned back to Allen. “I want you to follow Haro back to the house. He’s going to look like a big dog to most people, but don’t let anyone try to pet him. He doesn’t like it. Go straight to the house and go inside. We’ve put several strong protection spells on the property that will keep anything non-human out. The spells should hold until I come for you. You are not to leave the house for any reason, do you hear me? I shouldn’t be more than a few days.”
“A few days? I have school tomorrow!”
“No. Absolutely not,” Chris said. “You have to stay inside the protective barrier. If you leave, you risk being killed, and right now we can’t afford to lose you.”
“Killed?” Allen said, quietly.
Chaz came running back to the office carrying a bag used for baseball gear.
“Here you go, kid. Sword’s inside, plus a few goodies!” He passed the bag to Allen, who looked confused, but took it.
Chris nodded at Chaz, then spotted the charm on Allen’s chest. “Good, you’re still wearing the charm,” he said. “It will warn you if anything dangerous comes near you two on the trip home. Tell Haro at once if it starts to get hot.”
“Follow me, child,” the creature rumbled and started toward the front of the shop. There was a rush of wind in the office, and Chris was gone.
[And that’s it for the FREEBIES! Exciting stuff! Will Allen ever find out why his brother is acting like a jerk? Will Chazz ever get paid by the mysterious “Company”? Will Haro have to bite someone’s hand off for trying to pet him? Will Allen be safe from the sinister “Shadows”? Will Chris ever comb his hair? Find out the answers to these thrilling questions and MORE by clicking on the link to the Primitive Patreon page and becoming a P.E.S.T.! (A valuable member of the Primitive Entertainment Support Team!) Thanks for reading! Now click on through to the Patreon page and give it a look (then go MAKE SOMETHING!!!)]
—Richard F. Yates
(Commander in Cheap of The Primitive Entertainment Workshop)