[Okay citizens, here’s where we are… Now that I’ve killed the Patreon page, I’m free to publish my entire novella for the whole world to read, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. For the purposes of suspense and to keep the posts from being too lengthy, I’ll continue with the serialized format. That’s more fun anyway. If you haven’t read any of the adventures of Allen Tombes yet, I’ll include a “Table of Contents” at the end of this post with links to the various chapters. For archival purposes, I’m not going to rewrite the intros to the various chapters (which were mostly attempts to get people to visit the Patreon page and give me their hard-earned dough), but I think I’m going to disable the links—because there’s nothing to see there now anyway! Ah, enough with the business, WE’VE GOT ADVENTURES TO EXPERIENCE!!!!]
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 17)
There was a rush of wind, and Chris appeared just outside the destroyed kitchen with half a dozen men in black uniforms, weapons drawn. Chris surveyed the charred remains of the wall and the final wisps of smoke from the melting teeth and claws left by the fallen Shadows. He stepped cautiously into the kitchen.
“What happened here?” Chris asked. He spotted his mother’s body on the floor, and his face fell. “Dad?” he asked in a low voice. Allen shook his head.
Haro, placing a claw carefully on Allen’s shoulder, said, “The child called a Fire Spirit. It destroyed the Shadows and, I’m afraid, a large portion of the house.”
Chris looked wide eyed for a second, his gaze shifting from Haro to Allen to the remains of the kitchen wall. He shook his head, “That’s impossible. How could he have summoned anything?”
“Impossible or not, the Shadows were devoured by a Fire Spirit. I saw it myself,” Haro said. “It was particularly interested in your brother.” Allen looked blank, and shifted the weight of his sword from his left hand to his right.
“Chris? I can’t… Where have you been?” Rose released Angie, who was still cowering near the cupboards, and took a few steps closer to her older brother.
“We don’t have time for that right now,” Chris said, his head apparently clearing. “We have to get you guys out of here. I need you both to go gather the essentials, clothes, weapons, just the bare minimum. We’ve got to leave before the Shadows regroup and come back. They’ve never attacked in numbers like this before. It’s completely unheard of.”
“The other child must come with us as well,” Haro said, gesturing toward Angie.
“No. It’s going to be hard enough to keep these two alive without dragging another helpless kid along,” Chris said.
“She’ll be dead within the hour if we leave her. The Shadows have seen her,” Haro said.
“Chris, please,” Rose pleaded. “She’s my best friend. We can’t just leave her here.”
He looked at Rose, then at the body of his mother lying on the floor. “Fine,” Chris said. “Where’s Oro?”
“He fell,” Haro said, his rumbling voice even lower than usual.
Chris looked shocked. “I’m sorry, Haro,” he said, looking at his own brother. Allen was wiping tears from his face as he stood over his mother’s body.
“He fought well and died nobly,” Haro said. “But now we must protect those who are still alive.”
“You’re right, we’ve got to get moving. Rose, Allen, get your things, and be quick! Your ride will be here in just a few minutes. We’ve got to be gone before the Shadows return.” Allen watched his brother walk out the of the kitchen to speak to the men standing in the yard. Rose grabbed Angie by the arm and led her through the doorway back into the living room and directed her to the couch. Angie sat down, shaking badly.
Allen followed the girls into the living room and found the sheath for his sword. He slid the blade back into it. The house smelled like burnt wood, mixed with a putrid scent that Allen guessed was the remains of dozens of Shadows all melting at once.
“Shouldn’t we call an ambulance or the police?” Allen asked.
Haro lumbered heavily into the living room and said, “It’s unnecessary. Brashley has a cleaning squad who will come after we’ve made sure you and your sister are safe. They will take care of the house. The neighborhood is currently under a sleeping spell to help keep the civilians safe. The damage, and the—remains,” he said, softly, “will not be discovered until morning. However, I am certain that the Shadows will return to make another assault within the hour. Now that they’ve discovered what you are capable of, they will certainly send more than mere drones with their next attempt.”
“More than… There are other—things?” Allen said, his voice quavering.
“You ask this as you are looking at me?” Haro said. “Yes, they have many other things under their control. Now, please child, gather your belongings.”
Allen nodded and headed for the stairs. As Rose hugged Angie and made to follow Allen, they both heard arguing and shouting from the back yard through the open kitchen. One of the voices was undoubtedly Chris. They looked at each other. Rose’s face was lined with tear stains. Allen’s was grim and exhausted. Rose hugged her brother tightly, then they both walked up the stairs.
As Allen reached for the doorknob to his room he hesitated. He pulled Kitsle’s box from his bag and tapped. The bug flew out and hovered at Allen’s eye line.
“Um, hi,” Allen said, and bowed his head a bit. He wasn’t sure if he had to be formal every time he asked for help. Kitsle clicked a laugh.
Allen smiled, uncomfortably. “Is the, uh, door safe for me to open?” he asked.
Kitsle buzzed near the knob for a second, then looked at Allen and nodded.
“Thanks,” Allen said. “And thanks for saving us earlier.”
Kitsle clicked another laugh. He buzzed up to the door and wrote in letters of light, “Good kid” then flew back into his box.
Allen opened his door and went in as the letters faded away. The window was smashed so the room had become very cold. “Why didn’t she just open it?” Allen said to himself, shaking his head. On the floor, drawn in what Allen guessed was the witch’s own blood, was a circle about three feet across with several strange symbols drawn inside of it. Allen assumed that this was all part of the spell that the witch had used to brake the protective barrier around his house and let the Shadows come in. Because of Krystal, his mother had died.
Seeing the circle filled him with rage, but it also made him nervous. He didn’t know how much magic was still alive inside of that circle, so he skirted around the edge of it as he grabbed some clothes, his journal, a few paperback books, and his emergency cash, which he kept in the bottom drawer of his dresser in an old Creature from the Black Lagoon lunch box. He stuffed all of these things into a backpack and slipped it onto his shoulder, grabbed his weapons bag off his bed, and headed for the door. He looked back. He was leaving this room, possibly for the very last time, but seeing the bloody symbols on the floor and feeling the chill from the broken window disgusted him. The witch’s presence had tainted this space, and it no longer felt like home. He closed the door and felt better, then walked toward Rose’s room to see if she was ready to leave.
When he reached his sister’s room it was already empty. Further down the hall he found Rose and Angie in the bathroom, scrubbing the dark streaks off their faces. Allen noticed a backpack, stuffed completely full at their feet.
“But why can’t I just go home?” Angie said, scrubbing her cheeks with a washcloth.
“Didn’t you hear that lizard guy?” Rose said.
“Haro,” Allen interrupted. “His name’s Haro.”
Both of the girls jumped.
“God! Don’t do that!” Angie said, as she went back to smearing a layer of foundation on her cheeks.
“Anyway,” Rose continued, “Haro said that if you get separated from us, those ghost monsters will try to kill you.” Rose grabbed a tube of eyeliner from a little purple makeup bag on the counter and started redrawing the black lines around her eyes.
“But I didn’t see any monsters—except the giant lizard and that giant bird that caught my hair on fire,” Angie said, mussing the singed hair on her head and making a pouty-face. “I just want to go home, and when I wake up in the morning, this will all have been some terrible dream. Stacey won’t be…” she started to say, but stopped, tearing up again.
Rose dropped the eyeliner back into her makeup bag and hugged her friend. Angie took a deep breath and nodded, then went back to fixing her makeup. Rose grabbed a tube of bright red lipstick, and Allen shook his head.
“We’re about to die, and you’re putting on lipstick?” he said.
“I wanna leave a pretty corpse behind, don’t I?” Rose answered, smacking her lips. She tossed the lipstick into the makeup bag, unzipped her backpack, and stuffed the makeup kit in with the jumble of mostly black clothing.
“We’d better hurry,” Allen said and headed for the stairs.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 18)
When Allen reached the bottom of the stairs he saw Chris, Haro, and two very tall, blonde men in black uniforms in the living room, standing near where Haro had bashed the witch into the wall. Her body still lay unmoving beneath the splintered wood paneling, and a rush of anger surged through Allen again. He found it difficult to swallow and knew that his cheeks had flushed red. He tried to calm himself as he walked over to Chris.
“The girls are almost ready,” Allen said as he realized everyone was looking at him.
“Good. Our ride will be here any second,” Chris said.
“A giant dragon, I suppose, to fly us all to a cave in the mountains,” Allen said. Both of the men laughed. Allen smiled at himself, and realized how exhausted he’d become.
“No, not a dragon,” Chris said. “We’ll have to settle for a van. A dragon would be pretty conspicuous flying around in a city.”
“The city?” Allen said, genuinely surprised, “but I thought…”
“I know what you thought. Monsters and magic, like one of your fantasy novels,” Chris said. Allen thought he almost saw a smile on Chris’s lips.
“She’s here,” Haro rumbled.
Allen looked through the still open front door and watched a large black van pull up and park behind his father’s car. A thin woman, not much taller than Allen, with shoulder length red hair, hopped out of the van and trotted to the house. She was wearing the same black uniform as the two blonde men. She walked directly to Chris, said something quietly to him, glanced at Allen, then headed back to the van.
“I’ll get Rose,” Chris said. “Haro, I want you to go to Eddings and tell him everything that’s happened here tonight. See if he’ll be willing to help now that the Shadows have mobilized and begun to move.”
“No,” Haro said, in his lowest, deepest voice. “I will stay with the children until they reach Brashley.”
Chris’s face flushed red. “You were here. You can give numbers, explain how Allen called the Fire Spirit. We’re going to need Eddings’ help now that the Shadows are attacking in the open.”
“I will not leave the children until they are under Shayla’s protection. Send the twins to Eddings. They can relay the story to him,” Haro said.
Chris ground his teeth together, looking at the floor. “Fine,” he said. “Tell the twins everything that you can remember.”
“Who’s Eddings?” Allen asked.
“He’s a Collector, like Chaz,” Chris said, “but more—influential.” Allen looked confused. “Just go get in the van with Haro. I’ll get Rose,” he said and ran up the stairs.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 19)
Allen left his house and walked toward the van, followed closely by Haro, who was again walking on all fours and scanning in every direction with his head. The red haired woman was standing by the side of the van speaking, in hushed tones, to someone on her cell phone. She ended her call as Allen approached and slipped the phone into one of the many pockets of her uniform.
“I’m Shea,” she said to Allen, extending her hand for him to shake. Her grip was stronger than he’d imagined it would be.
“I’m Chris’s brother, Allen,” Allen said, then felt himself blush.
“So I’ve heard,” she said, smiling.
Chris came out of the house, looking frustrated, followed by Rose, carrying her overstuffed bag, and Angie, who looked very angry.
“When do I get my phone back,” Angie said, in a testy voice.
“You don’t. You’re going into hiding. If you send someone a text message, the Shadows can trace the call, find you, and kill you. No phones!” Chris shook his head, then opened the sliding door of the van and told everyone to climb in.
Shea drove and Chris sat in the front passenger seat. The dash was aglow with screens and buttons, almost like a cockpit. Allen, Rose, and Angie sat on a second row bench seat. Behind them, Haro was stuffed uncomfortably in a space entirely too narrow for his gorilla sized body. On the walls of the van on either side of Haro were numerous cabinets with metal-mesh covers through which Allen could see guns, swords, battle axes, and other devices, some of which Allen suspected were grenades or bombs of some kind.
Rose was clearly shaken by the items on the walls of the van, and after a few minutes of shocked silence finally said, “Chris, what is this? Are you in some kind of—military group?” She didn’t use the word “terrorist,” but Allen could feel it there, just behind his sister’s eyes. Shea laughed.
“No, not really. We’re a security service. We protect people from—serious threats,” Chris said as he glanced out the side window of the van, then at the screens on the dashboard. Allen noticed that the screens showed images from just about every angle around the van. He assumed Chris was making sure they weren’t being followed.
Rose, who obviously wasn’t happy with Chris’s answer, said, “Okay, you’re a security agency. And…” She rolled her fingers in the air for Chris to continue.
“And right now, you’re both being recruited to work for the company,” he said. He turned then and locked eyes with his sister. For a second his face was cool, almost cold, then a look of sorrow came into his features. “Just like I was,” he said.
“But I’ve got school!” Allen said, close to panicking. “I’m only fifteen. I can’t work yet.”
“Chris, are we being kidnapped?” Rose said, eyes widening.
“You’re not being kidnapped, you’re being rescued,” Chris said, his gaze moving back to the windows and monitors.
“The company employs some of the best private tutors in the country,” Shea said. She tried to sound reassuring, but all three of the kids in the back seat looked terrified. Looking in the rear view mirror and seeing the looks on her passengers’ faces, Shea said, “Haro, can you explain what Brashley is and does? They look like they’re about to flip out.” Allen, Rose, and Angie all turned themselves around so they could see Haro better.
Haro grunted his assent, then said, “Your family line is one of several who, for a hundred generations, have served as warriors and protectors for their people. The Brashley Corporation, which is currently headed by Shayla McCleggan, Shea’s mother, is the public face of an ancient organization that has secretly served humankind since the days of the Egyptians, though then they were considered warrior priests and sorcerers by most who knew of their existence. You two have a special gift, the ability to see through the glamour cast by many non-human creatures, and at least one of you has the ability, as your brother does, to physically interact with and even destroy those creatures that are a threat to your kind. It’s possible, Rose, that you too may have the ability. The trait runs very strongly in your mother’s line.”
“But, Chris, why didn’t you ever come back and tell us any of this? Why did they take you away?” Allen asked.
“Because I saw a Shadow, one night on my way home from a date. I saw it, and it saw me. I ran home, thinking I was going crazy, and then Haro showed up at the house, tracking a group of Shadows that had come there to kill me.”
Haro laughed, low and soft.
“I was terrified,” Chris continued, “of him more than them. But then he spoke, and told me he could protect me. He told me that I had to go with him, that the Shadows would return for me and would kill everyone in the house to get to me. He said the Shadows knew I could see them, and that as long as I remained at the house, the rest of you would be in danger as well.”
“Then it was your voice I heard the night Chris disappeared,” Allen said, looking back at Haro.
“I recognized your scent, as well,” Haro rumbled.
“Most weapons, knives or bullets, won’t hurt the Shadows,” Shea said. “They are only partially in this world. They come here to feed on the life-force of humans and other animals, and when someone is killed by them, they are drawn into the Shadow’s world and become one of them. But people like your family, and mine, are immune. You can’t be made into one of them.”
“And some of us,” Chris said, “when we are trained how to, can channel our life force into an object, a sword or club, and we can use that energy to destroy them.”
“Your brother has already discovered that ability,” Haro said.
Chris turned to look at Haro, his face confused.
“He has already destroyed a Shadow with his sword,” Haro said, laughing again.
Chris cracked a smile, a real, solid smile. “My brother’s a natural? We’ll see about that!” he said, and laughed.
“Plus, the calling,” Shea said. “I still can’t believe it.” Rose shook her head, and Chris’s smile instantly faded.
“I don’t understand,” Rose said. “What’s does ‘calling’ mean?”
“Somehow, your brother was able to summon a Fire Spirit to help him in his time of desperate need. A Fire Spirit is an incredibly powerful creature that exists on a separate plane of existence from this world. They are worshiped as gods by most cultures that have any knowledge of them,” Haro said.
“It’s an ability that very few humans have. Even after decades of study, most magic users find it impossible to do more than speak across different worlds, let alone draw creatures to our world,” Shea said.
“But you were somehow able to call a Fire Spirit. Few humans have ever done that. Even fewer have survived such an encounter,” Haro said, laughing again in a deep, rolling rumble.
“I didn’t mean to,” Allen said. The entire conversation filled him with a deep fear.
“This is all great,” Rose said, angrily. Allen realized she was glaring at Chris,”But it still doesn’t explain why you couldn’t contact us and tell us you were okay.”
“My mother, Shayla,” Shea said, “does not allow people who we recruit to contact their families or loved ones. The company exists today because it has remained a secret. If Chris or any other agent shares information about our company, our whereabouts or plans, that information could be extracted by the forces we’re trying to keep at bay.”
“What does that mean?” Rose said, her face flashing red.
“It means,” Chris said, “that you or anyone you speak to could be captured and tortured, your minds read a hundred different ways, until our enemies learned enough from you to try and take us down. Then they’d dump your body, or feed it to one of their pets, and come after us.” His breathing was becoming shallow and quick. Rose looked ferocious, glaring at him.
“Besides that,” Shea said, trying with her tone to defuse the situation, “my mother had hoped that Chris would be the only member of your family who could see through glamour. Your mother couldn’t, and the likelihood of more than one family member in a generation having the gift…”
“Curse,” Chris interrupted.
“Or curse…” Shea agreed. “The likelihood of more than one in a generation is pretty small. The last member of your line to be able to see, before Chris, was your great uncle, Siegfried, who, according to official records, died in World War II at twenty-one years of age. In actuality, he worked for us until 1990. He was my favorite instructor when I was a teenager,” she said, fondly. “Brilliant, but a real hard-ass!”
“I knew him well,” Haro said. “He was a good man. One of my best finds.”
“You were the one that saved him? When the Nazi’s…” Shea said. Haro laughed and nodded.
“I still don’t get this,” Rose said. “Are you saying that your ‘company’ takes kids and trains them to fight monsters?”
Haro laughed again, “Not all monsters, child.”
“You saw them, didn’t you?” Allen asked.
“Yes, I saw them,” Rose said, “but why the big secret? Why hide it all?”
“Because most humans are at their mercy,” Haro said, his voice soft and low. “Human-kind has been bred to be helpless and simple, and there have always been creatures who have fed off your species, that use glamours and other magic to confuse and control your kind. But there have also always been those beings who chose to protect humans. Your mythologies are full of stories of gods and titans and other creatures who have aided humanity, and many of those stories are based on actual events and real creatures, though they become exaggerated over time. It is believed by some scholars of magic that family lines such as yours are the results of gifts given by these benevolent protectors, or from interbreeding with non-human creatures who are more resistant to glamour. These humans have usually become the warrior-priests or heroes of their times, unless they were discovered and destroyed by humanity’s enemies first.”
Everyone seemed lost in their own thoughts. Angie’s face, in particular, had gone completely white.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 20)
As Shea guided the van onto the freeway, heading south, but before the Brashley cleaning crew had arrived, a lone figure appeared inside the doorway of Allen’s home—the Shadow Lord. It had been a century since he last came to Earth, but he was interested in these recent events.
Though he swam in the same dark mist as his drones, the Shadow Lord was more substantial. Hints of an ancient, pale body loomed beneath the swirling darkness. The creature’s red eyes glowed brightly in the quiet darkness of the scorched living room. He floated over to the body of the dark haired witch, who lay shattered on the floor near the dented wall.
“You failed me,” the creature said in a hiss, “but you can still be of use.” It reached out with a hand made of dark mist, which solidified into snow white flesh. It brushed its fingers along the woman’s cheek. Her body shuddered.
She gasped and her eyes popped open, revealing orbs of pure black.
“Oooohhhh, God!” she said, then shrieked in agony.
“Yessssss,” the Shadow Lord hissed. It laughed a sickly, wheezing laugh. “Remember this pain. Remember the torment that these children have caused you! Savor it, and then return it to them.”
The witch continued to scream as her shattered bones melted within her flesh, her blood turned to steam within her veins. The Shadow Lord laughed again, then his misty body surrounded her and they both vanished.
[Stay tuned for more exciting MONSTROUS action!!!]
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Grand Hoohaa of The P.E.W.)
Below is the promised “Table of Contents” that will take you to the other chapters of Allen’s story!
ALLEN TOMBES – PART 01 – Chapter 1
ALLEN TOMBES – PART 02 – Chapter 2
ALLEN TOMBES – PART 03 – Chapters 3 and 4
ALLEN TOMBES – PART 04 – Chapters 5, 6, and 7
ALLEN TOMBES – PART 05 – Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11
ALLEN TOMBES – PART 06 – Chapters 12 and 13
ALLEN TOMBES – PART 07 – Chapters 14, 15, and 16