by John Michael
Lonny Clark and Brianna Basra
set aside their creative writing studies at Georgia State to drive up to Witch’s Lake, a village north of Atlanta. The two sophomores wanted
to check on a disturbing unsolved murder. The newspaper reported a complaint to the police about a pentagram and charred animal
remains on a farm. Lonny and Brianna feared that could be the work of their old enemy, Black Andrew.
Andrew Dorian, a former acolyte
of Brianna’s late Uncle Nathan, abandoned him and her uncle’s mystical and psychic
teachings and turned to black sorcery.
Lonny and Brianna drove up
in Lonny’s GMC black van. Lonny cranked “La Sexorcisto” by White Zombie the whole way. Witch’s Lake, a small town with farms bordering its outer fringes, hardly looked like a place where
murders happened often.
Lonny drove past the small
high school and way down a crooked road to the McClusky farm. The yellow peeling paint on the house looked like psoriasis.
The home’s black shudders hung like chewing gum held them there. The railing
on the porch was broken and splintered. Two jack o’ lanterns alight in the
window and undersized pumpkins stood in the pumpkin patch.
Crows squawked loudly as they
landed on a scarecrow. Unafraid of the figure hanging in the field, the large black birds pecked at it. Late October in northern
Georgia the leaves above the rooftops burned crimson, orange, and gold. The sweet scent of burning leaves permeated the air.
They arrived just after dark
so they hopefully wouldn’t be seen wandering around
a potential crime scene. They put on light jackets after they got out of the van. Lonny untied his golden brown dreadlocks.
It felt great to let his hair down in the cool evening air. He slammed the last of his Coke. It quenched his thirst from the
Lonny turned on his flashlight
to light his way alongside of the pumpkin patch. “So tell me, are you going to do Thanksgiving
at your folks?”
Brianna turned on her own
flashlight. “Why are you so determined to see me get back with my parents? You hardly
speak to your folks.”
Red and yellow leaves scurried
away from the pumpkin patch to the house. The denuded cornfield stood far off in front of them.
Lonny looked around the edge
of the patch. He read in the paper the pentagram was near the pumpkin field. “My brother
wants me home for the holidays. I’m thinking about it.”
“You’re at least on speaking terms
with your folks. I haven’t had anything to do with my parents since they
told me my psychic power was the work of the devil.”
“Would it help if I came with you?” Lonny asked.
Brianna chuckled bitterly.
“Oh, no. They’d probably faint if
they saw your dreadlocks. They don’t like dreadlocks or even long hair.
They think my hair is too long.”
“I see.” Lonny’s flashlight caught the
pentagram embedded into the ground. He saw a vision of a ritual right around the pentagram. A lone robed figure stood in the
middle of the pentagram.
Brianna bent down and touched
the groove in the dirt. The dryness of the dirt revealed how little rain had fallen there. She held her dark waist-length
hair aside so she could see.
“Get anything?” Lonny asked.
Brianna’s psychic power was much stronger than Lonny’s. “No. This was obviously carved in the ground with a stick. Find me the stick and maybe I can get some psychic impressions.”
Lonny didn’t find the stick but
something of interest caught his eye in the pumpkin patch.
He found the bottom portion
of a large pumpkin, lying upside down. Someone cut it in half and cleaned it out. The charred inside looked like it was used
for a pot. He saw murky flashes of a ritual. Someone really tall and big, like a weightlifter, in a dark robe, burned something
in the pumpkin at the center of the pentagram. Smoke obscured his face. “Take a look
She held it and shuddered.
“I see someone in a black robe lighting red candles around the pentagram. I see his
long dark hair. Lonny, it’s Black Andrew.”
Lonny knew it. “What else do you see?”
Brianna closed here eyes again.
“He used this pumpkin in a special ceremony.”
Brianna’s Uncle Nathan willed her his magical journal. Lonny remembered reading such a rite. It’s a spell that can only be done at harvest time. He thought Nathan called it a purging ritual. Lonny felt a wave of
gooseflesh run down his body. “Anything else?”
She tossed the pumpkin back
into the pumpkin patch. “No.”
They hurried back to his van.
Lonny feared Black Andrew
used the spell to get a corpse to do his bidding. It sounded like Andrew could still be trying to do his Ritual of Killing
of Three to obtain great metaphysical power. Last month he and Brianna stopped Andrew from finishing such a demonic ceremony.
And to achieve that power at least one of the three needs to be a virgin.
Brianna said, “We need to find out what Andrew is up to. Let’s go to the police
to see what we can find out.”
Lonny thought going to the
police first could backfire on them. Once they started asking pesky questions about a black sorcerer who’s performing rituals to commit murders, the small police force would think they were nuts, follow them, and chase
them out of town while Black Andrew carried out his heinous crimes. “Let’s go to the cemetery first.”
They drove past the lake to
the graveyard. They slipped through the black iron gates which squealed like a hog being butchered. In the back of the little
cemetery they found a dug up grave.
Lonny shone his flashlight
into the grave. He touched the edge of the grave. The letters of J and H appeared in his mind. He saw the corpse, the body
of an old man in a dark blue suit, rise from the grave and break into a house to strangle a man. “Can you see
what I can?”
Brianna climbed down to the
open casket. She touched the white padding inside and closed her eyes. She nodded. “I’m getting the name of Jeremy Herbrand. Very clever. How do you arrest and prosecute
a corpse for murder?”
Lonny helped Brianna crawl
out of the grave. According to the purging spell the corpse can’t return to its grave to rest until it has fulfilled its task.
And it can kill only one per night.
They knew if Black Andrew
has ordered it to kill to do the Ritual Killing of Three, and it’s only killed one, it needs to kill twice again. They got back
in his van.
Brianna said, “Where in a tiny village like this could Andrew hide a corpse?”
As they drove by the lake,
Lonny said, “I’ve got a pretty
They drove to the Witch’s Lake Police Station.
It looked like a small strip mall. Only two squad cars were parked outside. No receptionist sat at the front desk at that
time of night. The sheriff sat behind one of the two desks in the office. The office smelled of hot cider. While they waited
on him to finish a phone call, Lonny grabbed a couple of hot chocolates from a vending machine. He gave one to Brianna. The
hot chocolate smelled great. Steam rose like tiny ghosts from the cups. It felt warm going down. The late October Georgia
nights cooled off greatly.
Lonny paced. He wished the
sheriff would get off the phone.
Brianna muttered, “Come on with this guy.”
The sheriff, David Statz,
a tall overweight man with dark hair dressed in a crisp dark blue uniform, invited them over to his desk. His office was very
small, probably just the sheriff and
two deputies. Only one gray
filing cabinet stood next to his desk. The Georgia state flag hung in the corner. A pot of hot cider set on top of the cabinet.
Halloween decorations of a bat, a witch, and some black webbing hung on the walls. He finally hung up. “Okay, why are you so interested in the murder of Fred Berrenger?”
Brianna said, “We know a guy, Andrew Dorian. We think he might know something about the murder.”
The sheriff looked surprised.
“Andrew Dorian? How do you know him?”
“You’ve heard of him?” Lonny asked.
“Yes. He grew up here. We had a few run-ins with him. Now how do you know him?”
Brianna sipped her hot chocolate.
“He was once a student of my uncle’s.
They had a falling out. Is Andrew a suspect?”
“Let’s just say we’d like to talk to him,” the sheriff said. “Andrew is big from weightlifting.
He has long black hair. He
looks like a big rock star. He always stuck out in this little town.”
Lonny was astonished. “He grew up in here?”
The sheriff poured himself
some hot cider. “Yes. People knew him well.”
“Does he have any family here?” Brianna asked.
Sheriff Statz said, “No. His mother moved
shortly after Andrew graduated from high school.
Are you friends of his?”
“No way,” Brianna said emphatically.
“He’s been giving us
a lot of problems.”
“If we can find him, we’d help you
catch him,” Lonny said.
“What makes you think Andrew Dorian has something to do with the murder?” the sheriff asked.
“We read about the pentagram found on the McClusky property,” Brianna said. “Andrew is heavily involved in black magic.”
The sheriff sipped some of
his cider. “I know he was into the occult as a teen. That’s what makes him a person of interest, but not necessarily a suspect in the murder.”
“Has he been seen here?” Lonny asked.
“People said they’ve seen a person
matching his description. If he’s in town, we haven’t found him yet.”
Lonny thought the questions
irritated the sheriff. “Does he have any friends here?”
The sheriff’s chair screeched like a rat caught under a carriage wheel. “I’m not sure, kids. Listen, my office is on it. You don’t need to play sleuth with us. If he’s been bothering you, then
stay away from him. And don’t go looking for him.”
Brianna finished her drink.
“He has to be found.”
“And if he’s here, we’ll find him,” the sheriff said.
“What’s your interest
“He’s a powerful psychic,” Lonny said. “He believes he can
increase his psychic power through black magic and maybe even human sacrifice.”
“We’re psychic, too,” Brianna said. “We know how dangerous
he is. We know how dangerous he can become.”
“Uh-huh,” the sheriff said, obvious
disbelief in his voice. “Where are y’all from?”
“Atlanta,” Lonny said.
“Well, go back home to Atlanta,”
the sheriff said sharply. “We’ll worry about Andrew.”
Brianna thanked him and shook
his hand. Lonny recognized the look in her eye.
Once outside, Lonny asked,
“What did you get?”
“The name of Sheralyn Juneau. I saw him talking to her.”
After they went to the library
and looked up her address in the phone book, they drove out to an apartment complex on the edge of town. Sheralyn was a well-built
blonde dressed in a white sweater and tight cutoffs. She opened the door but didn’t invite them inside. She looked eighteen
or nineteen, hardly old enough
to buy booze and smell strongly of bourbon. “I already talked to the cops,” she snapped.
Lonny said, “We need to see Andrew right away, Sheralyn. Has he been here to see you?”
“Yes. He was here a couple of nights ago.”
“We don’t wish to be rude,” Brianna said. “But can you tell
us what he wanted?”
She rolled her eyes and crossed
her arms angrily. “He wanted to get back together. There’s no way that’s happening. All that occult crap scares the hell
out of me. I don’t want that around me anymore.” She squinted. “Are you friends of his?”
“No,” Lonny said.
He was sick of that question. “Just the opposite. Do you know if he performed
a ritual on the McClusky farm?”
“He didn’t tell me he did,” Sheralyn said. “But who else would’ve done it? He’s the only person
in town who was into the occult.”
“Do you know why he would come here to do a ritual?” Brianna asked.
“The guy who was murdered was Mr. Berrernger. Andrew always hated him.”
“Who was Mr. Berrenger?” Brianna asked.
Sheralyn said, “The physical science teacher at the high school. He always used to pick on Andrew in class. He made Andrew feel small.
You do the math.”
“Did he have any other teachers or people he hated here?” Lonny asked.
Sheralyn groaned. “Take your pick. He hated a lot of people in this town.”
“Guess,” Lonny said
impatiently. “If he wanted someone else dead, who would that be?”
Sheralyn stepped back into
her apartment and grabbed a drink from the kitchen counter. She heartily gulped it. A Halloween decoration of a skeleton hung
on the wall. A jack o’ lantern with a scary face set on the kitchen table. The smell of burning
wax permeated the apartment. “There was Mrs. Cuffy. She was an English
teacher he didn’t like. He thought she was too hard on him.”
“Do you know where she lives?” Brianna asked.
“Sure,” Sheralyn said. “She lives not far from here.”
“Can you show us?” Brianna asked.
Sheralyn pouted. “You mean, like, right now?”
Lonny hated this. She didn’t even care what Andrew was up to. “Yes, we mean like right
now! Andrew is going to kill again to fulfill a black magic spell. We need to stop him.”
Brianna said, “And if you don’t help us, and Andrew kills again, it would be as
if you helped him. Do you want that?”
She slouched and nervously
twisted her hair. “No.”
Sheralyn joined them in Lonny’s van. Before they could get to Mrs. Cuffy’s house, the street
was blocked off by three police cars with flashing lights. Lonny figured that was probably this town’s entire police force.
“Shit,” Lonny muttered. “We’re too late.”
“Oh, my God,” Sheralyn gasped. “You think Andrew killed Mrs. Cuffy?”
Lonny barked, “It was you who said, do the math, right?”
“I think we better go back to the lake,”
Brianna said. “Maybe we can catch the corpse.”
“Corpse?” Sheralyn shouted.
“That’s the black magic spell,” Brianna explained. “We think he’s getting a corpse to do the murders for him.”
“Then he achieves metaphysical power,” Lonny said.
Sheralyn cried, “Oh, God, no. Are you guys putting me on?”
Lonny thought. “No. We’re damn serious.”
They returned to the lake
but no corpse ever showed. They waited until daylight before they gave up. They believed the corpse already returned to the
water before they got there. They’d
have to wait until tomorrow
The next night Lonny and Brianna
picked up Sheralyn. She wore a tight short black dress. Lonny wondered if this girl was completely clueless. She looked dressed
for a night out rather than to help stop a murderer.
The sun set behind the field
in front of the lake. The cool evening provided the occasional breeze.
“Are you sure I need to be with you guys?” Sheralyn whined.
Lonny said, “After you spurned him, we fear you’ll be his third victim.”
They drove back to the McClusky
farm. Lonny dropped Brianna off there.
“You call me if Andrew shows,” Lonny
said. “I’ll let you
know if I find anything.”
“All right.” She hid in the pumpkin patch and waited.
Lonny drove Sheralyn to the
lake. He grabbed a red gas canister and a lighter from the back of his van.
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
“The only way to break this spell is to burn the corpse.”
“What makes you think it’s in the
lake?” she asked.
Lonny set the gas can down.
“It can’t return to its grave until
it completes the ritual. It has to remain hidden somewhere during the day. Without the help of the cops dragging the lake,
how could we find it to destroy it? And I doubt we’re going to get the
help of the police to do that.”
Sheralyn shuddered. “This is exactly why I split up with Andrew.”
A light breeze rippled he
lake. Lonny thought the body was coming up, but the water turned calm again. “What do you
know about the McCluskys?” he asked.
“Herman and Gerald, those two Neanderthals, still live with their father.”
“Do they have any link to Andrew?”
“No way,” Sheralyn
said. “He hated the farmers.”
Dusk turned into darkness.
Lonny nervously looked at his watch. No body rose from the water. Why hasn’t
it risen? He called Brianna. “Anything happening?”
“No. No Andrew. No dead body. How about you?”
“Ditto. Are the McCluskys at home right now?”
“I don’t see any lights on.”
“Maybe they’re gone,” Lonny said. “Maybe the corpse is
hiding there, maybe in the barn or the house.”
“I’ll go check.”
“Okay. Be careful. I’m only waiting
here for a little while longer.”
Lonny hung up. “We know Andrew has killed two older people. He needs at least one virgin to complete the ritual.”
Sheralyn chuckled bitterly.
“What makes you think I’m
a virgin? I lost that to Andrew when we were seniors in high school. I guess that makes me safe, right?”
Lonny was nearly speechless.
The other two people were obviously too old to be virgins. Sheralyn looked so young. He just assumed she was one. “If it’s not you, then who’s his third victim?”
Sheralyn shrugged. “What about your girlfriend? Is she a virgin?”
“She’s not my girlfriend—” Lonny didn’t actually know
if Brianna was a virgin. And still no corpse rose from the lake. If it wasn’t hiding there, where
“Oh, sorry,” Sheralyn said. “I thought she was. Do you have a girlfriend?” She smiled seductively.
Great. I’ve got the ex of a murdering
psycho who likes me.
Two crows flew overhead squawking
wildly as they headed to the graveyard. Lonny remembered the crows picking at the scarecrow.
“Oh, dear Jesus, no,” he gasped.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
Lonny grabbed the can of gas
and ran to the van. “Come on! I think Brianna is in trouble.”
Andrew wasn’t hiding the corpse in the lake. The corpse was the scarecrow. That’s why the crows picked
at it. They ate the dead flesh.
Lonny sped through the village.
He tried to call Brianna but she wouldn’t pick up. “Oh, dear
God, please don’t let me be too late.”
Brianna checked the barn but
found nothing. She saw a dim light on the living room window when she got close to the house. It was a lit jack ‘o lantern. The candle
was nearly burned out.
The body of Jeremy Herbrand
slipped off the cross in the pumpkin patch.
When Brianna knocked on the
door, Herman answered the door. He was tall with a large skull and a short uneven haircut like he did it himself.
Brianna said, “Excuse me, but—”
“Who the hell are you?” Herman grumbled.
“And what are you doing out here at this hour of the night?”
“Sorry, I didn’t think it was that
late. I’m looking to see if you’ve seen Andrew Dorian.”
“Andrew Dorian?” He exclaimed.
“What?” Gerald shouted
from inside. “Andrew Dorian? Is that freak out there?”
“No, but I think one of his Satan worshipping whores is on our front stoop.”
“I’m not with Andrew!” Brianna sneered.
“I bet you’re not, you little slut!”
He yanked her inside and slammed
the door. Gerald grabbed her by the back of her hair and
threw her to the couch. “We’re going to teach you dirty bastards not to worship the devil
on our land!”
another large ogre in overalls with a bad haircut, popped off the couch. The television blared Dancing with the Stars.
Gerald and Herman jumped on
top of Brianna. She screamed as she tried to fight both of them.
Gerald started to tear at
Brianna’s top when someone kicked
in the back door.
“What the hell?” Herman shouted. He leaped
Black Andrew burst into the
living room. He wore all black. His muscles flexed. His long dark flew in all directions. “Damn you!
You rednecks are wrecking everything!”
“Andrew Dorian!” Gerald shouted.
He grabbed a shot gun from the mantle above the fireplace. “You son of
a bitch! We knew you were responsible for desecrating our land.” He aimed
the gun at Andrew. “Say your prayers to your devil, you satanic scum. You’re about to go to Hell!”
The corpse of Jeremy Herbrand
smashed through the front door. Its decomposing flesh stunk like road kill out in the summer sun. Bits of its ghastly white
skin hung loosely over its face.
The crows ate its eyes and
gouged holes in its head. The body dressed in a dark blue suit walked awkwardly, stiff with rigor.
“What the god damn hell is going on tonight?” Herman screamed.
Gerald shot the corpse twice.
The rounds went right through it and blew a large hole through the closet doors. The body staggered and groaned but that didn’t stop it. The corpse
ripped the rifle away from Gerald and flung him over a recliner and against the wall. Brianna covered her ears and curled
into a ball.
Andrew kicked Herman in the
stomach and beat him over the back of the head. He threw
him into the TV and smashed
it. Brianna remained frozen in fear on the couch.
Sheralyn screamed when she
and Lonny ran through the front door.
“Brianna!” Lonny shouted. “The corpse is after you. You’re
the third sacrifice!” Lonny jumped on top of Andrew’s back.
“What the hell are you doing?” Andrew
screamed. “I’m trying
to save Brianna!”
Lonny wanted to kill this
Brianna ran through the fighting
and grabbed Sheralyn and jerked her into the kitchen.
The corpse grabbed Gerald
and bashed his head through the plaster wall and then flung him through the window.
Brianna found a ceramic bowl
in a cupboard in the kitchen. She shoved it into Sheralyn’s hands. Brianna found a bottle of whiskey in another cupboard and poured
it into the bowl.
“What are you doing?” Sheralyn cried.
Brianna turned on a burner
from the gas stove and snagged a roll of paper towels from the counter and ignited it. The corpse stumbled into the kitchen.
“Dump that onto the corpse,” Brianna ordered.
Sheralyn squealed as she splashed
the whiskey onto the corpse and Brianna lit it on fire. The corpse burst into flames and howled. It fled out the back door.
It collapsed onto the back lawn and burned to a charred skeleton.
Black Andrew grabbed Lonny
by the dreadlocks, flung him off, and kicked him in the head.
Andrew saw the burning corpse
run out of the house. “Damn it!” He shot out
the front door and disappeared. Lonny shook away the cobwebs. He heard no sound of a car and couldn’t see where Andrew fled.
Lonny ran to the girls. They
went out back and made sure the corpse burned to its demise. Lonny got a hatchet from the McClusky barn and hacked the corpse
Lonny and Brianna took off
and left the McCluskys to explain the mess to the police. Lonny didn’t care what
they said. Let them try to tell the sheriff about an attacking corpse. Lonny knew the McCluskys wouldn’t mention them after
those farm boys attacked Brianna.
As Lonny and Brianna drove
back home, Lonny said, “I didn’t know you’re a virgin.”
Brianna glared at him. Then
she shot him a seductive smile.
Copyright © John
Michael Osborne 2012
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