C17: 13th Hour

Near downtown Geneva, just two blocks from the Novella Bridge, the nightclub 13th Hour served booze until two AM, supplied drugs bagged by the ounce, and sold to-go partners in leather and lace packaging. And on occasion, cursed slaves with demonic power.

All under Cobra’s command.

During the day, 13th Hour looked like a polished, but abandoned building under renovation. At night, Keitaro hadn’t seen much other than the dark, dank backside of the building. Illuminated by a lonesome lantern outside the basement door with a view of the abandoned strip mall across the street.

“That’s the cleaner’s van.” Victor nodded toward the unmarked white van parked outside the club.

From outside the closed down barber shop under the Novella Bridge, Keitaro safely assessed the nightclub. The parking available on the property’s lot exceeded no more than thirty spaces or so. Enough for the staff maybe, but not for the amount of guests the club could accommodate. Keitaro noticed an empty lot across the street; possibly a customer parking lot. The building was constructed like an expensive villa.

Embellished with elegant black trimming and eggshell-colored concrete walls. The structure resembles traditional yet subtle
styles that, with one glance, brought Mexico to mind.

“There are two fire exits?” Keitaro spoke toward his shoulder without taking his eyes off the nightclub.

“The entrance we can see from here, and the one by Cobra’s office that leads out back.”

“Okay. Here’s the plan. I need to know the building’s blueprints thoroughly, to judge distances and develop comfort in the environment. Go in as if you’re me, which means no walking through walls, no transporting yourself across two places.”

“You’ll be able to see what I see?”

Keitaro nodded.

“Can you hear my thoughts or should I speak aloud?”

“Speak, please.”

C14: Work to Do

Bang-bang-bang!

Keitaro glanced at his wrist watch. A little early for room service.

Bang-bang-bang-bang-bang!

“Keitaro, it’s me!”

Keitaro tucked the rest of his button-down shirt into his pants and zipped them up. He opened the door a crack.

“Holy shit. Your face is…normal-ish.”

“I didn’t call for you,” Keitaro said.

“I know, sorry. But you got a special delivery.”

Keitaro heard the crunching of cellophane, but couldn’t fully see the package in Robert’s arms. He opened the door the remainder of the way. “What is it?”

“For you, man. From ‘the lady in the blue dress’, the card says.”

Keitaro moved like he meant to chase her down. “She’s here?”

“No. She dropped it off at the front desk.”

“You saw her?”

“What do you think I do all day? Wait by the front desk watching guests come and go? No, I’m in the back. I got chores to do, errands to run,” Robert said on his way into the hotel room. Keitaro accepted the gift and shut the door.

“I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but one phone call can make history,” Robert read the card.

“It’s a care package,” Keitaro said with a smile that nearly broke his lip wound open. He untied the bow, unwrapped the cellophane and admired the trinkets inside.

“Aw, man. She got you the good stuff. Gummy band-aids. Classic. Think these are real?” Robert rattled the pill bottle.

C10: Sorority Sisters

“You didn’t have to buy dinner, Anja.”

“It was my pleasure.”

Dante pat her hand as it was wrapped around his elbow. They meandered back to his SUV on the cobblestone path, guided by golden lamps and adorned with starlight. Babbling Seneca Lake muffled the traffic noises from nearby midtown.

“You should send him a care package,” Dante said.

“Oh, Dante. That’s a wonderful idea!”

“Fill it with a ton of stuff that won’t help him at all, but will—”

“Make him smile,” she finished.

“You know, those old pill bottles that are filled with mints, and what not.”

“And the gummy band-aids,” she said.

“A corduroy teddy bear.”

“Okay, but if we’re doing this, we should drop it off tonight,” Anja said.

“What’s the rush?”

Anja slowed her steps, sensing her surroundings. “Well.” She tuned into the air and how dense it had suddenly become.

“Anja?” Dante searched the thinned out crowd around them.

Passersby, nothing amiss.

“He didn’t have luggage,” she said as if snapping out of a trance. “He might not be staying more than tonight.”

“Definitely include your phone number then.”

“Dante.” Anja gasped and clung to him in panic.

“What? What is it?” Dante cuddled Anja close as if he could save her from the impending danger.

C8: The Sword of the Spirit

Then

Ting! Tong! Ting-ting! Tong!

The nine AM bells shepherded the flock into the red doors of the chapel. From the parking lot, Anja saw the bell swinging in the tower. Just above it the Cross glinted in the sunlight. Calling all children of God. Come on home, the Cross said.

Brothers and sisters, sinners and saints, the young and the old, the rich and the poor: all are welcome here. There’s a place for me, Anja realized as she blended into the flock. Another sheep being herded home to her family.

Inside, the crowd spread out in ripples. Except for Anja who stood in the doorway with her yellow clutch. Her high heels pressed promptly together. Her body upright and proper. Her eyes filled with wonder, and her smile brightening when children raced past her.

“And she cometh in a ray of sunshine with the smile of an awakening soul,” a man said as he approached Anja head on. “And thou be the bearer of the sword of the Spirit.”

“I’m sorry?” Anja said.

The balding man in the suit extended a hand for Anja to shake. “I’m Pastor Shaun Caplan.”

“Jesus told me to be here,” Anja said, accepting his handshake.

“Because I have something to give you,” he said.

“You do?”

“Come.” He motioned her to follow him.

Everyone Pastor Shaun passed greeted him warmly. Shaun reached out for a gentle touch, a comforting pat on the back, a handshake to an older fellow.

“How ya doin’, Shaun?”

C1: Slave to Stray

Uptown Auburn at midnight felt like dangerous downtown with that casket black Cadillac stalled across the street. All the other shops closed hours ago, giving the plaza its graceful
ghost town essence. Only five cars belonged on the street. Five cars for Keitaro’s five-man closing crew. Counting the Cadillac, there were six.

“How long’s it been there, Boss?” TJ said.

“About two hours,” Keitaro said.

Keitaro and TJ stood at the sides of the picture window concealed by darkness with an idealistic view of the street.

“Can’t see shit. The windows are too tinted, but through the windshield I see two guys and they’re moving around a lot,” TJ said.

“They’re getting antsy,” Keitaro said.

“Why not just come out already? It’s not like they’re afraid of getting caught. They’re parked backward in a handicapped spot,” TJ said.

“Maybe they’re outnumbered by us,” Keitaro said.

“Something silver keeps reflecting moonlight,” the cook said from a table out of the window’s line of sight. “You see it?”

“Probably a gun,” Keitaro said.

“Shit.” TJ lowered his head with his eyes closed.

“Who do you think they’re here for?” the waiter said.

“Ramirez, whose bitch did you not pay?” TJ said.

The cook recoiled in his chair. “Nobody, man. I ain’t been downtown lately.”

“Dylan, you owe someone money?” TJ said.

“Just student loans, I swear,” the waiter said.

Zoë Martinique Investigations By: Phaedra Weldon

Zoë Martinique is a private investigator with a secret
weapon: her ability to go Wraith. As a wraith, Zoë is capable of leaving her body and spying on the living from the spirit world where most cannot see her. During one investigation, Zoë happened upon the Archer, a villainous spirit who targeted her and changed her fate forever. With a band of supernatural heroes, Zoë is out to stop the Archer and anything that stands in her way.

The series is made up of main books and several sub-stories. You don’t have to read the sub-stories to be entertained; but to fully understand the story, the sub-stories are a must. The order of the series is listed below:

  • 0.5 Web Ginn House
  • 1 Wraith
  • 1.3 Out of the Dark
  • 1.6 Holly and Ivy
  • 2 Spectre
  • 3 Phantasm
  • 4 Revenant
  • 4.5 Beyond the Door
  • 5 Geist
  • 5.3 Walking Shadows
  • 5.6 Soul Cage
  • 6 Dominion
  • 6.3 Dark Time
  • 6.6 Dark Possession
  • 7 Seraphim

Continue to pages 2-4 for reviews of Wraith, Spectre and Phantasm.

What the Night Knows by: Dean Koontz

This book…wow! (And that’s an understatement.)

Koontz captured a man’s family at just the right vulnerability and put a supernatural edge to it that fit right up my alley. He used demons to manipulate and attack this family, and the writing alone. My goodness, this man utilizes words to produce visual comparisons that leave me jaw-dropped.

The way the siblings interacted made the family substantial. They were real and graspable, and developing that relationship between the characters and readers is what writing is all about. I loved the family aspect of this book. I loved the husband and wife relationship. I loved them all as my own family. And that love is what brought the real fear to the book. When danger impended on these people I’ve come to know and care about, my fear spiked too.

This book was impossible to put down. I had to know the answers to my questions. I had to know what would happen. I had to know how Koontz would end it. His endings are always surprising and satisfying. His happily ever afters aren’t what you’d picture traditionally, and I love his refreshing tone, voice and imagination.