December 11, 2009

Spirits and the newcomer

The others took my car and headed over to Kerwin's club (after picking up Nadi) in boys town to get the key for where ever the fuck Ned had stashed those files. I didn't feel like showing my face in front of a shit ton of people who might want me dead, so I took Gio's car and headed back to base. They had further to go and more alligators to wade through, so they took the armored car. Just in case. I studied up on my Japanese while they were gone. I still hadn't read the scroll that the monk had given me. I didn't want to have Nadi or Gio translate it, because he'd said to read it in private. So I was learning Japanese. And enjoying the seldom had solitude.

Instead of showing back up, I got a phone call from Gio about two hours later. It yanked me out of own thoughts so suddenly that I had a moment of mild panic that something had happened. It was like being pulled out of a sound sleep by load crash. I took a deep breath to calm my jittery ass down before answering.
"Hey Gio. Everything ok?"

"Huh? Yeah..fine. We got the key and location, though Kerwin wasn't happy about being the middle man. It was pretty damn hilarious. Apparently Ned was using us to fuck with him, and it wasn't the first time. But something else has come up. Volkas called about the shit going on with the meatpacking district."

That got my attention. I stood up and started grabbing my gear, sheathing knives and holstering my gun as we talked. "Yeah? Did he find anything?"
"Yeah. Apparently every ten years for the last century there has been a family murdered in the district, except this year. Volkas can't figure out why not this year, but he thinks it may have something to do with why my family started buying up all the property in that area recently. But anyway, he gave us the addresses for each of the nine murders, and we're headed over there to check it out. Probably connected to the spirit Sansome was talking about. Volkas called it 'Pain of Animals'. Which, I vaguely remember Tommy mentioning at some point too."
"Sounds good. I'll meet you there." I hung up and headed for the door, only pausing long enough to make all the weapons disappear, grab a navy blue wool coat and jam a baseball hat down over my obnoxiously bright red hair.

I parked the car in a nearby parking garage and walked the rest of the distance. Normally going on foot wouldn't be as safe, but I had no idea what we were going to be up against. Going in on foot let me survey the area more thoroughly and unobtrusively than pulling up in a car. My senses were in overdrive.

I met up with the others without incident. From what I could tell, the area was clear. Nadi showed me the list of addresses that Volkas had given us. As we discussed where to go first, Nadi looked out over the area, presumably using her mage voodoo, because she suddenly flinched and squeezed her eyes shut, hand to her forehead. Rebbecca moved in close to her. "Are you okay?"
Nadi nodded and slowly opened her eyes. "Yes. The place is overrun with death. It blinded me for a second."

We waited for Nadi to recover. It didn't take long. We decided to go to the closest of the locations first. 1146 Amberlane. It happened to be the only scene that was a single family home, rather than an apartment. As we walked down the street, we saw one man on the balcony of an apartment. He stared at us as we went. He had a shotgun resting against the railing. He was the only sign of human life we saw the entire time we were in the district. It was creepy.

The house was rundown and deserted. In fact, most of the housing here was deserted due to the Santori family running everyone out. The front porch was sagging, and when we entered, we could see peeling wallpaper and rotting floorboards. A few rats skittered out of sight as we made our way inside.

Nadi looked at me and quirked an eyebrow. "Need a snack?"
I was too surprised to think of a witty comeback. Instead I just said, "You too? I would have expected that comment from one of the guys."
She shrugged and the corner of her mouth twitched in her ultra reserved version of a smile.

The house was mostly unremarkable. It didn't seem like anyone had lived here in decades, except maybe squatters. It was pretty safe to assume, given the state of disrepair, that the house hadn't been legally occupied since 1969, when the family was killed there. Nadi kept glancing back at the front door as we investigated the house. I caught her eye and gave her a questioning look.
"There are pig spirits at the door, watching us. Dead ones.. faces skinned." She said softly.
I frowned. "Since when can you see spirits?"
"Since the Professor gave me his book."
Gio spoke up from the kitchen were he was opening and shutting cabinets. "Well that's damned useful now isn't it."
"Are they doing anything?" I asked.
She shook her head, looking out the door. "No.. just watching. For now."
My expression was dour as I shoved the stained and torn love seat across the floor to check underneath. "Let us know if the situation changes...and.. what do you know about the symbolism of Bulls?"
Nadi turned to regard me a moment, I'd say she was curious, but its always so hard to tell with her. "Depends on the culture. They usually denote strength and stubbornness. Why do you ask?"
I turned my back on her and starting looking around again. "I'll explain later."
I felt her staring at me for a few more seconds before letting it go and turning back to face the doorway.

I heard her try to talk to the pig spirits, asking them what they wanted..but she told us all they did was grunt at her. Almost like they were laughing.

I continued to move through the house looking for any clues I could find. On the far side of the living room, near the stairs, I saw the edge of what looked like a stain beneath the wallpaper. I started to tear at the paper (which came away easily) until I had revealed a large blood stain that covered two thirds of the wall, floor to cieling. "How exactly did Volkas say these people were killed?" I called over my shoulder.
Nobody glanced over, he had been investigating the downstairs closet and study. "He didn't, I don't think."

Becca came out from investigating the bathroom covering her face with a gloved hand. "Smells like my old roomate's.... hooooly fuck." She stopped mid-complaint when she saw the giant splatter, eyes widening. Her free hand grabbed for the tire iron looped to her belt, like a security blanket. Her other hand stayed pressed against her mouth and nose.

Nadi walked over and stood beside me, looking at the bloody wall. "He just said they were killed, and that most of the details of how hadn't been released."
I took a few steps back to get a better view. "This is a shit-ton of blood. I mean, on the floor, I could understand. But on the wall? It was like someone exploded against it."
Gio limped right past the grim scene and up the stairs, calling back behind him, "Or several people."

We moved up the stairs, one at a time, wood creaking under our feet threatening to give out any second. Nadi muttered that the pig spirits followed us to the foot of the stairs, but didn't come up.

When we all got to the second floor, Gio had found the entrance to the attic, a narrow and steep set of stairs, instead of a pull down ladder. He struggled up them while the rest of us scoured the small upstairs portion of the house. It only consisted of two small bedrooms and a single bathroom, which apparently smelled as bad as the downstairs one had.

"Hey! I found something!" Gio called. All of us were in the attic in seconds. The attic was larger than most, you could stand up straight, for one. A strange thing for such a small house. Gio was standing in front of the doorway that led to the stairs down to the rest of the house, looking at something above it. He'd caught sight of it as he had been leaving to rejoin us on the second floor. When we were all there he pointed to the top of the door frame. Scrawled across the very to of the frame, in very small characters, was a familiar looking language that none of us could read.

"Is that werewolf- speak?" Nobody asked.
"Looks like it." Gio confirmed. "But none of us can read it."
Nobody shrugged. "Volkas can right?"
"Heh.. this is true.." Gio pulled out his phone, snapped a photo of the inscription and texted it to Volkas. We all stood there in silence for a few minutes, waiting for a response. Becca jumped when Gio's phone went off. She smiled sheepishly at everyone, but she tightened her grip on the tire iron.

Gio read the text out loud to everyone. "This is the sacrifice."
"Sacrifice to what, the spirit?" Nadi asked.
"Probably.. they must not have known about it, why else would they stay? Who would've written it?" I mused.
"And why would they need a sacrifice at all?" Gio replied.
That was the million dollar question.

We looked around the rest of the house, but found nothing of interest. We decided to move on to the the next place. It was only about a block away, and it had been the site of the first killing, in 1939.

As we walked Nadi muttered, "The spirits are following us. There are a couple more now."
I glanced over my shoulder as though I'd be able to see them. "That doesn't make me very happy..."

The next location was a bust. The apartment building had been demolished, God knows how long ago. Nothing but an empty lot remained. Gio leaned on his cane and surveyed the area. "We should be doing this chronologically, not geographically. Where was the latest murder?"
I pulled out the list and Nobody grabbed it out of my hands (just to be a ass, I'm sure.), scanned it, and said, "Green Haven Apartments, Apartment 1022. It's about a block west of here." I gave him an annoyed frown, he just grinned at me.

We found the apartment with little trouble. It wasn't as rundown as the house, but this place had seen residents within the last 10 years. Investigation was quicker, since we knew what to look for now, and yielded a multitude of blood spatters.. the carpet and wall paper had been replaced, but it didn't take us long to tear them up and find that the padding beneath the carpet hadn't. Bio-hazard, anyone? From the patterns, it looked like someone had been attacked in the hallway, crawled towards the door and been dragged back into the place. There was also what could only be described as an explosion of blood in one corner of the living room. I absently wondered why no one had bothered to paint over it, instead relying on wallpaper.

I glanced over at Becca, she seemed pretty nervous. "You okay?" I asked.
She nodded. "Yeah, but..uh.." she jerked her head over at Nadi, who was looking out one of the windows. Just as I looked up at Nadi, she spoke without turning around. "There are more of them. A dozen or so. There were only 2 at the first house."
Gio frowned as he examined all the door frames. "Do they look like they're going to fuck with us?"
She gave a small shrug. "Not really, they're just...watching us. Following us."

Nobody interrupted by calling out to everyone. He had found the same inscription carved into the underside of the wet bar in the living room. 'This is the sacrifice'

We headed for the next place, it was the second to last murder, and furthest away. Nadi kept reporting that as we walked, more and more dead pig spirits were starting to follow us. And they'd started grunting and squealing.

"I feel like the fucking Pied Piper." I grumbled.

The next place was an apartment on the 2nd floor of the building. Same kind of thing.. old blood was soaked into the wood of the floor when we pulled up the carpet.. and the inscription was hiding on the inside of the door frame of the hall closet. Just as Gio found that, things started to get interesting.

I was inhaling to speak when I smelled it. I paused, nostrils flaring, and inhaled again. "Does anyone else smell that?"
Giovanni nodded. "Blood."
I frowned. "Yeah, but.. old blood."
Nadi was staring out the window. "Well, you've been standing in a spiritual river of old blood the entire time you've been here. We should go."
I was already moving towards the door. "What's going on?"
"Something is coming.. something big. I think the pig spirits are calling it to us."
Everyone's quick walk turned into a fast run (as fast as we could go without leaving Gio behind). When we reached the sidewalk, everyone stopped. The smell was stronger. I looked down and began to see flashes of what Nadi had been talking about. A river of blood, roughly up to my shins. I would see ripples, then nothing. It was only partially manifesting.

Nadi pointed down the street we'd come. Her voice got a tad more urgent. "There. Its huge.. and coming this way. It looks like.. a big steer.. made of dead animals... and we're surrounded completely by pig spirits."

We all looked up to where she was pointing, expecting to see nothing. And the frightening part was, we could actually see something. It came to us in flashes, like the river. It was like something that was hidden behind trees, and as the wind blew you could see glimpses of it. The flashes were not only getting steadily closer, but longer, more detailed, and more solid. It was manifesting.

We started to see flashes of the pig spirits as well. We were well and truly surrounded. The spirits had not fully manifested yet, but it would only be a manner of minutes. According to Nadi, the pig spirits blocked all of our escape routes. There were hundreds of them. The second they manifested, we'd be hemmed in, a new sacrifice for the approaching horror.

I assessed the situation and was struck by something significant. Nadi had said the spirit looked like steer.. a bull. The air shimmered, and I could see it now. It tossed its head in the air as it moved slowly towards us before fading out again. It was bigger than the tallest building within eyesight. At least 15 stories.

"What are you doing? Why are you calling it here?" Nadi yelled in frustration, presumably to the pig spirits. They must not have liked it much, because she stumbled back like something had lunged at her. We turned to help her up, only to find she had fallen back into the chest of a guy we'd never seen before. He was roughly 6'2, early twenties, and had the angular features of a Native American and his black hair fell just past his chin. He was dressed in clothing that looked like it came from a military surplus store, with the exception of the golden yellow scarf around his neck. There were two intricately carved sticks hanging from his belt. He also had shockingly bright blue eyes. He gave us a sheepish smile. "Hi, I'm uh.. apparently supposed to help you."

I was too preoccupied with the incoming monster to even bother scowling at the newcomer. I used that micro-second to scan his aura instead. "You're a werewolf. Who the fuck are you?"
The stranger gave me an incredulous look. "And your Kindred. Is this really the time for that? I was sent to help. And from the look of it, you guys need it." He pointed down the street.
I unsheathed my knifes and turned to face the manifesting spirit bearing down on us, I doubted the knives would do much to it, but at least I was armed. "By whom?"
Gio rolled his eyes at me and started moving down the street. "He's a werewolf? Lucky us. How about we get into the specifics after he saves our asses."

I did have to admit..sometimes my priorities got skewed.

"Be right back." The mystery werewolf pulled a small mirror out of his pocket and.. disappeared. Nadi took point, because she was the only one who could see him as he cut a path through the partially materialized pig spirits. We could see impact points on the spirits before they'd wink out completely. He was moving fast.. and pretty damn effectively. We started running. Nadi told us he was using the carved sticks to bash their heads in. She seemed impressed, and given her poker face, that's saying something.

The spirit at our backs was gaining. It was now fully materialized. It was grotesque. Thousands of slaughter animals made up its body. Skinned pigs, cow heads with caved in skulls and bulging eyes, headless chickens that still flapped their wings.. and it started to move faster. At this rate we probably wouldn't make it to the edge of the district before it caught up. We were halfway down the first block when Nadi started talking. She had one hand on her right shoulder blade, touching the tattoo on her back. It sounded like we were hearing one half of a two person conversation. "We need your help. I'll explain later. We're being chased by a big spirit in the meatpacking district. Can you help? How long? Okay." She switched hands and touched the other tattoo. Most of the conversation was similar, except a few phrases. "We don't know if it will stop when we get to the edge of the district. Do you need me to stand still? How long? Okay." And she stopped dead in her tracks.
Gio nearly ran into her. "What the fuck Nadi! We need to go!"
"You go. I'll be fine. I can't move for a minute."
I looked back over my shoulder. It was only getting closer. I jerked my head at Gio and the others, urging them on. Gio, knowing what I was thinking, nodded and grabbed Rebbecca's hand, who looked much more hesitant, and kept going. He pulled his phone out with the other hand and hit a speed dial number. Seconds later he was giving a terse explanation to Sansome as he hobbled down the street dragging Rebbecca.

Nadi frowned at me. "What are you doing? Go."
"Nadi, if needed, I can get you out of here before the others even reach the edge of the district." My expression was something between reproachful and annoyed. She regarded me silently for a half second before nodding once in agreement. As though I needed her to agree with me..

I may be able to run 5 times faster than everyone else in the group, but watching that amalgamation of animal corpses stampede towards us was more than slightly unnerving. Thankfully we didn't have to wait long. After roughly a minute of standing in that one spot (which felt like a year), a young guy who looked vaguely like Nadi stepped out from no where. He was wearing ratting jeans and an old t-shirt. His hands, arms, and clothes were covered with paint, like Nadi had interrupted him in the middle of a project. I thought it had the annoyed look down pat, but the look on this guys face told me I had a thing or two to learn about annoyed expressions. It didn't become less annoyed when he saw the spirit, but tinged with surprise. Nadi's brother, Alexi, started towards the others. "Lets go."

So we ran. It took us a few more minutes before we reached the edge of the district. The whole time the spirit was bearing down on us. I kept thinking that any second it would stomp us flat, but somehow, we beat it out. I urged it to stop chasing us in my head. Like the Mask had done in the asylum, leave us alone once we left it's territory.. but when we crossed out, the spirit just kept coming. We turned to face it.

"Is it going to stop?" Nobody asked as we stood at the edge of the district. He was implying what we were all thinking. If it followed us out, Chicago was in big trouble... it was no use running at that point.
The stranger reappeared from no where, having worked up a minor sweat taking out the pigs. "They aren't following us out of the district...but that is." He said, pointing one of the sticks at the giant walking slaughterhouse. Fantastic.

About that time a dark sedan came barreling around the corner, screeching to a halt beside us and launching gravel through the air. The door burst open and Sansome was striding towards the creature before the car was even parked. "Meet me back at the shop." He said as he broke into a run towards the monster. Alexi stood at the very edge of the district and started painting the air and ground in front of him.

We watched as Sansome stood before the beast and raised his blade in the air. It glowed bright red at the tip, like a beacon.. which is exactly what it was for. Two seconds after he raised it, we heard a sound like thunder, and watched as something like a shooting star passed over our heads and slammed into the spirits body. It reared back and howled with the pain and anger, pieces of its body flying off in all directions. It quickly faded out, dematerializing in the face of the attack. At that same moment, Alexi finished his spell. A latticework of red light shot out of the ground and into the air. It formed a cage that encompassed the entire meat packing district. It was only visible for a moment before fading out to nothing. Alexi stumbled back and wiped the blood seeping out his nose on his shirt. "I don't know how well that will hold it. The rest is up to them."

Sansome was gone, having followed the spirit into Twilight. Everything seemed silent again, but the tension and quiet thrum of power was still heavy on the air. It had all happened so quickly. I marveled at how fast Sansome had managed to get here. Seeing nothing else we could do, we retreated back to the cars, and headed back to Gio's shop.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments or questions are welcomed