As We Grow: A Poem

Blissful, Blissfull

Twist and Turn

Dance with fireflies

Crash and burn

Dip and sway

Kiss and breathe

Take love and give love

If you please

Me, I’d be delighted

To stay a while longer

Hold you and keep you

With arms

No stronger, will

My heart beat as we grow

Into new verses

We may never know…

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Chapter 40: Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 40     

Clive punched his desk with such force that he was almost certain he heard the mahogany crack. It wasn’t he who was so infuriated, it was the Pulse. Its presence choosing to linger over and around him, overshadowing him like a tumultuous cloud only to descend upon him in fits of violent rage.

Clive pressed his eyes closed, his heart pounding in his chest. He needed it to stop racing. He tried to tell the Pulse so only to feel his mouth seal shut against his will. He yielded to its desire. He didn’t understand what the issue was. Who cared what happened to Vanessa Wong? Who cared what happened to any other insignificant person broken out of the sequence?

Wong was now an afterthought, he had tried to argue. He was the one who was the vessel. He was the one who had been faithful. Even this past Sunday he had ushered six foolish souls back into the fold, not of the faith of Christ, but that of the Pulse and the sequence.

He had done that, even while the Pulse was somewhere flitting about the universe. “Does loyalty mean nothing to you?!” He had questioned as soon as his tongue was released, only to have pressure knock him to his knees. The Pulse had sought to lay him flat, but he resisted. Instead his own hand had rose to his throat, and clamped so tightly around it that he could do little more than gag.

“You are unstable!” He let the thought slip across his mind giving little effort to trying to shield the thought as he had in times past. Something was different about his wayward god. The feeling of its presence was laden with anxiety, and a fire of need that even Clive could not put into words, but he understood what it was. He had danced with it himself each time he had attempted to deny his flesh the taste of whiskey, not out of an attempt to remain sober, but because his pockets were to thin to afford its cost. He settled for Hooch on those occasions, made from rotting fruit and bread, refined in his own bathroom—a skill he had honed during his stays at the county jail.

The result of his homemade high typically made him aggressive and volatile towards Tilly, much like the behavior of the Pulse in that moment. It had obviously tasted some Hooch of its own making.

“You are getting off track!” The Pulse hissed, easing Clive’s hand from in his own throat. Connecting fully with him only to rent itself away again. The feeling was like the first pain of a brain freeze. Clive hated it.

He palmed his forehead and began to massage away the pain from his head and his throat. “Why do you do that, separate from me like this? It hurts! And why in god’s name—”

“There is no god but me!”

            “Why are you trying to kill me?!” Clive hissed through clenched teeth, trying to keep his voice down so that Doris did not hear him.

“I want to make sure I have your undivided attention. Do I?”

            There was an edge of rebuke in the Pulse’s tone. Clive shrugged it off as if he was flinging off unwanted hands. “You know you have my attention. I have done what you have asked. I have been doing what you have asked.”

“You have, but not with a whole heart. You are distracted, and because you are distracted, so is everyone else! Time is of the essence and the more time you waste spying on your insignificant wife, the more ground the Etta-beast gains!”

            Clive clenched his fist. “What ground? She hasn’t made a single move. In fact, she is hiding away, with her tail tucked between her legs thanks to me, thanks to the work I have done!”

“The work you’ve done?” The burning stench and darkness overtook Clive’s office. Pain radiate through his chest again, and down his left arm. Heart-attack. “While you sit in this room pretending some false victory, scheming against your wife, I have lost more souls. That is precious ground.” The pain amplified.

Clive waited for several minutes for the full on cardiac arrest to set in but it never came. The pain only hovered, lingered in place like a wall. Boldness threaded through him and out of his mouth. He had done what he had been asked so far and he had nothing to show for it except for the knowledge that he was needed—a puppet on a string.

But the Pulse needed him just as much as he needed it. So what if a few people had been lost? There were always casualties in war.

“You won’t kill me,” He wheezed. “You need me.” He felt his body suddenly grow chill and push back into the wingback chair. The rage of the Pulse made his vision shake. His pale eyes clamped shut as if in anticipation of a brutal physical attack only for the chill to subside with a knock on his office door.

“Pastor Meeks?” Doris barely entered, only allowing the fluff of her blond hair and the rim of her glasses to crest the door’s edge. “There is a gentleman here to see you, a Mr. Anderson.”

Clive had never been more grateful for Doris until that moment, even though he felt the words of the Pulse radiate through his mind. “We are not finished with this.” An idle threat? A warning? He didn’t know. He would deal with it later.

He cleared his throat and readjusted his clothing. “Send him in Doris and,” He fanned his hand around as if that would catch the words that had suddenly escaped him. “And go get lunch. Come back in an hour or two. Go!”

Doris’ blond hair disappeared and Arnold Anderson entered in only moments after.

“You didn’t answer my calls, Mr. Anderson, and now you show up at my office a day later. Bad form, sir.” Clive reluctantly shook the man’s hand, afraid he would note the tremble in it, never mind the cold sweat that dotted his hairline.

Arnold smiled. “My apologies. I had some business to attend to,”

“What business? You aren’t from here. And last I checked the only reason you were sticking around is because I asked you to.” He sat down, suspicion swirling through his icy eyes.

Arnold smiled. “That is not entirely true. I told you I would be around for a little while longer prior to you making your first call to have me stay, but that is beside the point. The point is I am now settled, my rental car paid up for the next couple of weeks as is my room.” He pulled a folder from his briefcase and slid the receipt print outs to Clive. “I expect full reimbursement.”

Clive hitched an eyebrow. “You almost make me look bad staying at that hovel of a motel. I am tempted to pay you to stay somewhere else. God forbid you eat their chicken and die before you have been of any real use to me.”

Arnold laughed recalling the dry chicken sandwich he had to wrestle down his throat in order to swallow. “Too late for that. But I assure you it is a mistake I will not be making again.”

“That, and ignoring a paying customer’s attempts to contact you.”

Arnold only smiled. Clive’s need to stick it to his wife was of little consequence to Arnold. He was more concerned about getting justice for Baldwin Falk, and since Etta Castle-Teague was not only at the center of that case, but a thorn in Clive’s side, he was willing to kill two birds with one stone. Anything he could further glean from Clive in his personal pursuit against Etta would help him towards his end with Baldwin.

He was also feeling a lot more eager since he had received a message from Jørn Teague only an hour earlier. That was information he had no intention of sharing with the Pastor. Water and oil, he had told himself, the two didn’t mix.

“So,” Clive took to speaking again realizing his intimidation was of no use for someone like Arnold. “You said that you could help me prove that the Etta-beast is indeed guilty of murder.” Clive’s face flushed with calling Etta by the hateful name the Pulse used for her. Arnold seemed to not notice. If he did he did not make any show of it.

“That is what I do, Pastor Meeks.”

“Well what is taking you so long?”

“You only hired me the other day. I have a lot more digging to do.”

Clive huffed. “I only hired you a few days prior to you exposing my wife, and you practically stripped her naked and walked her out before a firing squad.”

“The information I gave you on your wife was only seen by my eyes and yours.”

“Don’t misunderstand me. I could care less if Tilly is put to shame. I am burned by the fact that you can prove this efficient with her, but you are going to need all of this time with Baldwin Falk and Etta?”

“Is this personal?” Arnold allowed himself the question. Him referring to her as “The Etta-beast” had raised a red flag. He made sure to guard his tone, refusing to reveal his own suspicions towards Meeks and anyone connected with him. The man was strange, high strung as if he was hiding something that he didn’t want the world to know, and it had nothing to do with his wife but everything to do with Etta. The man obviously needed her quiet. Why?

Clive snorted. “Yes it’s personal! The sooner she is dealt with the better; the better for me and the better for this town. Greenwich Pass was once a respectable place, and now we are hit with scandal after scandal because of her.  That woman is a virus and a murderer! The people here are beginning to see her for who she is, but not fast enough. They forgave her before they will probably do it again.”

Arnold nodded. He knew the case well. He had even worked on it as a cold case a few years after Etta was no longer seen as a suspect. Jørn had started to dig again back in those days and Arnold was the one who was called to work on the cold case. His work was halted after little evidence could prove her guilt, and more pressing cases landed on his desk. That didn’t mean that the death of the Baldwin didn’t linger on his mind. Now that it was brought back into his life he could only assume it was the will of God.

“I just want justice, you understand? I want justice for myself against Tilly, and I want justice for this town. I want order to be restored.”

“You are referring to the ascensions?”

Clive’s face darkened. “Partly. Is that a problem for you?”

“Not at all. Its human nature I suppose, wanting the ascension back, adhering to the sequence.”

Clive huffed. “So now that I am paying you, what is it that you need from me, and how long do you think this is going to take? I am not made of money.”

“It will take as long as it takes, Pastor Meeks,” He raised his hand stopping Clive from going on a tirade, the evidence of it found in the deepening of red in his cheeks and eyes. “This is not like your first request of me to gain info on Baldwin Falk and Etta. And it is no like your case with Tilly. Your wife is not a murder. She was not trying to hide a body, but a paper trail. Murders, people like Etta Castle-Teague are careful. If this had been a crime of passion then you wouldn’t even have needed me to prove her guilt. Rick would have done that years ago.

“But it seems to me that it was not a passion crime. It was planned and plotted, like a row of dominos. The thing of it is, somewhere she has made a mistake. I just need time to expose it.”

Clive seemed pleased with that, at least for the moment. He wiped his chin before lacing his fingers over his chest. “Is there anything that you can give me, a token of good faith?”

“Good faith.” He repeated noting the irony of a man who preached in the pulpit, behind the guise of the Cross, but had no care for faith at all. Arnold would play along. He figured it wouldn’t hurt anything if he remained careful. At the least it would give him more slack to the leash Clive thought he had on him. “I found her mother. That is a good start.”

Clive’s eyes narrowed. “Francise Castle? She died years ago. Albert told me,” He stopped talking as a smile edged on Arnold’s face.

“That is what you were told. Well planned, like a row of dominos.” His smile broadened before fading away. “That is all I am going to tell you for now. Walls have ears, and I don’t want to give Etta any cause to become a flight risk. I promise you this is going to come to an end and soon.” He stood up and made ready to leave.

Clive followed suit. “Do you need anything to help you, Rick maybe?”

Arnold considered him again. What kind of sway did this man have over Rick that he, a pastor of a small chapel, could get the local Sergeant of Police to do his bidding? The thought was unnerving. Clive was hiding something awful and Rick was somehow tangled right in the midst of it. He shook his head. “No, Pastor that won’t be necessary. Actually, Rick paying me unannounced visits and having a squad car follow me only makes people suspicious. If you want me to be effective I need space just as much as I need time. Rick will only get in my way. You understand.”

“Indeed I do. Have all the space you need, but time, that is limited.”

“This I understand.”

“Thank Mr. Anderson.” He reached to shake the man’s hand again.

“Call me, Arnold.”

*          *          *

The hearts of men were wicked. The Pulse knew it all to well. It had tasted them, drank of them like fruit of the vine and could attest to it, and Arnold Anderson was wicked. Clive was too much a fool to see through the man’s hidden agenda, too deaf to hear the vibrations of deception clashing throughout the room.

            More than once the Pulse was tempted to whisper the truth in Clive’s ear, but thought better of it. The man was born a fool and would die a fool, and the Pulse would not interfere with that.

            He had swiftly run out of use. He was unstable.

            Like a wave the Pulse moved about the space of Greenwich Pass seeking hearts, pure hearts to own against Etta. The hunger and need for the sequence and its fruit was becoming too much, and as Clive’s deceitful guest had said, this needed to end and soon.

            The Pulse searched through the mass of vibrations, curious at the information that Arnold had yielded. The mother of the Etta-beast. What could be gleaned from that field?

It searched through Albert Castle’s song clear into the distant echo of his son’s and found a similar trace to his wife, Francise, that rang dimly but close by.

            The sound grew vile as it neared it, horrible, destructive, so much so that the Pulse shrank back in desperate retreat. The vibration was that of made men, tainted wine that only amplified the hunger for purity.

Now sickened by the noise of Francise Castle, far worse than anything that the Etta-beast had ever done, the Pulse sought healing through the drinking of another of its kind, shamefully sucking away its life force and devouring the result of the sequence they all desperately needed again.

            Shame, how shameful to do such to ones own kind, but the sacrifice had to be made again and again…and again, until the Pulse was at ease.

            It listened to the silence in the loss around it and if it had tears it would have wept.

This had to end and soon, else there would be none of them left. 

Chapter 39: Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 39

She didn’t know why she had driven all this way out. She had not even planned to make the trip. But after she had finished reworking the frequency to the grey seeds, and paying another trip to the hospital, she felt the need to do so.

She stared at the name placard of the building, highlighted by the white light the shone from beneath it. If a person didn’t pay heed to the name they might have been fooled into thinking that West Haven was nothing more than an upper crust university, fit for only the finest of minds. Sadly the converse was the truth.

She headed inside and smiled at the nurse at the front desk.

The nurse smiled back. “Visiting hours are almost over, my dear. You might have a good fifteen, twenty minutes before you have to go.”

Etta nodded. “I probably won’t even take up ten. How is she doing anyway?”

The woman, Emily, signed Etta in, knowing of whom she spoke. “She’s been in her room all day. She wouldn’t come out. I don’t think it is anything to be worried about. She has days like this every now and again.” The glass door opened up and allowed Etta to enter.

She had not been to West Haven since before the last ascension. Now that she was there now that she could see, feel, read, taste and almost smell the frequency that was coming off of everyone and nearly everything, she found herself almost turning sick being near the patients of West Haven. She was almost sad that Baldwin was not there, his frequency to act as a buffer against all the others.

The sound and feel was chaotic. It was worse than nails down a black board. It was nothing short of noise pollution. It almost enraged her. She felt her pulse begin to raise and her forehead prick with the coming tide of sweat. Swallowing down the bile that rose up in her throat she hurried down the hall and focused her mind on shutting off the sound and feel around her.

She had gotten better with controlling this “gift” she was given. But she wasn’t so in control that the thought of running out of West Haven had not crossed her mind. She steadied herself outside of Francise Castle’s room. Dabbing away with her coat sleeve the sweat on her face and lip she knocked on the door before letting herself in.

Francise sat in the corner staring out the window into the rolling darkness of the evening and coming rain. She didn’t move, not even to acknowledge that Etta had come in. She never did.

“How are you doing today, Francise?” Etta kept her voice calm even though she wanted to shout. The volume from outside was still intruding her mind. She focused deeper to block it out. She focused on Francise’s instead.

It amazed her how her mouth suddenly dipped as she studied her mother more closely. It wasn’t because she had abandoned her all those years ago in favor of the bottle and the breaking of her own mind, but the fact that even her frequency was so…

What was it? She didn’t have time to figure it out. Not there.

“Nobody loves me,” The words crept past Francise’s dry lips.

Etta rolled her eyes and unzipped her purse. “Do you want some lip gloss, Francise? It will make you feel better, even pretty.” Her fingers grazed one of the seeds in her bag as she reached for her makeup pouch. She had already paid her visit to Vanessa Wong, giving her a stone, freeing her from the Towes grasp. The results were fruitful, very fruitful. She had yet to see to Ayo or Claus, however. She figured one at a time would do, especially since she didn’t have an immediate need for either of them. What she did need was for Oliver Taubmen to put his attentions elsewhere. Because of his ranting and chatter, her brand new car had been keyed twice, her sales had dipped at the store and the same old convicting eyes that she had first received when Baldwin had gone from sight were suddenly staring at her again.

She needed Taubmen to be occupied with other matters. The mayor being under her thumb, or better yet, her frequency would do just that. The Pulse wouldn’t be fool enough to let Wong wake up and stir the pot without trying to regain control of the spoon. Touching the seed again, the thought to give it over to Francise, just to free her, not control her, crossed her mind, but only briefly. She quickly decided against it realizing that the less people she had to protect from the Pulse, the better, and if Francise’s frequency was this repulsive to Etta it had to be even worse for the Pulse.  The Pulse wouldn’t come near something so unpleasant.

Francise drew her dark eyes to Etta’s bag. She then touched her lips. “I used to be pretty. Maybe,” She took in a sharp breath and grabbed Etta’s hands. Etta pulled one hand free and gently brushed down the stray hairs that had come out of Francise’s poorly constructed bun as her mother continued to talk. “Maybe if I am pretty again, Grant will come back! He will come back! He used to love me when I was pretty. Give me the lip gloss. Give it!”

She greedily wrestled the tube of lip gloss from Etta’s hand and slathered it onto her lips, pressing them together as she shifted her eyes back towards the window. Etta sat on the bed. Melancholia fell across her shoulders. Why had she come? Why had she driven all the way out here?

Comfort? Reassurance?  Hearing her mother, a woman who only knew her as a stranger, speak about her loss of her father only seemed to make the ache she was feeling about Jørn radiate even more within her. The scent of the perfume she had smelled in his clothing a few nights past seemed to assault her nose again from the vividness of the memory.

No, she shouldn’t have come. She stood up from the bed and closed her purse the same way she was closing up her heart again, and made her way towards the door.

“He is going to come back to me,” Francise said again, her eyes twinkling with tears as she turned towards Etta. “You’ll see. He is going to love me again. He will. He will.” She almost sang the words with sorrow and pleading.

Etta lingered in the door way and considered her mother, wondering if that is what her own future would hold if Jørn actually left her for whoever it was who didn’t have the good sense to buy a decent bottle of perfume. Would she linger at the window telling herself he would come back again, turn her broken heart over to addiction until her mind became as fractured as her life? Her eyes narrowed and her jaw clenched.

No. She wouldn’t. Jørn was hers and if he were to leave it would be because she sent him. She would deal with the smelly trespasser though, by coma or other means.

She made herself to smile back at Francise, shoving the jealous anger aside. “You do look pretty Francise, very pretty.” Francise ignored her. Etta left without another word.

*          *          *

Maryam pulled the door open and felt her hand rise to her mouth. Attempting to hide the delighted smile that bloomed upon her face, she turned her away and pulled the door open wider.

“Come in, Jørn! I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow night.”

Jørn passed the threshold chewing his bottom lip. He had nearly followed Etta once he saw that she had driven out of town to West Haven, but he had suddenly made a detour that led him to the doorstep of Maryam. “I am sorry to impose—”

Maryam closed the door behind him. “There is no imposition at all. I didn’t have any clients today.”

“That is my point. I can come back tomorrow,” He pointed his thumb towards the door, uncertainty creasing his brow.

Maryam grabbed his hand and led him near the sofa. “No sir. You came all this way. Obviously you have something on your mind that you need to workout. If it made you come without calling, it is probably something that will take both today and tomorrow to work through.” She hoped.

Reluctantly Jørn sat down, leaning forward he pressed his steepled hands against his lips. Maryam sat across from him, watching him. How that man had gotten under her skin in a way that was far from professional she did not know, but he had.

She did not urge him to speak but settled for watching him instead. When he did speak, she was not expecting to hear what he had to say, but she was glad for it.

“Maryam, I have been following my wife.” His eyes looked like a stricken child’s when they met hers.

“Why, Jørn?” She laced her fingers in her lap.

Jørn blew out a breath before drawing his lips back in. Maryam felt her heart flutter. She had dreamed about kissing those lips, combing her fingers through the hairs of his beard and head. Clearing her throat, she brought her mind back into focus having missed the first part of his explanation.

“I know it was wrong. I know that I should have just been upfront with her and asked her directly, but she is never straight about any of this.”

“So how does this make you feel?”

He leaned back and pinched his eyes closed. “Convicted. Guilty, like I am the one who is wrong, and maybe I am,” His voice trailed off before picking back up again. “I just wasn’t expecting to find what I did and now it is not only too hot to hold it is too hot to touch, you know?”

“What is too hot to hold?” The glint in his eye made her realize she had missed something important. She kept a placid face even though she inwardly kicked herself.

“West Haven, Baldwin being at West Haven Psychiatric Hospital, that’s what!”

Maryam flinched. She had definitely missed that. She circled about and tried to save face. “I am sorry, Jørn, but did you verify that Baldwin is the one at the hospital?” His face crinkled, a sign he had not considered that. “I only ask because you are allowing yourself to feel a level of guilt that is a result of speculation and not verified fact or truth. That is not to say that Baldwin is not at the hospital, but you don’t know that for certain.”

He took a breath and considered what she said. “You are right, but who else could it be? I know what I heard the other night when she was in the woods on the phone.”

His tone seemed more of a challenge than anything. “I don’t know, Jørn, but I do know that you said your wife had been hiding things for over a decade, that neither you, nor anyone else knows what happened to your cousin, and that even though there was an investigation prior to your coming to Greenwich Pass, there was no evidence to conclude where he was or is. And I am certain that if Baldwin Falk was in a hospital less than two hours away that someone would have found out by now.”

Jørn’s jaw shifted from side to side as he stared down at his hands. He slowly raised his gaze as if to concede to what she had said. A flicker across his eyes led her to believe that he had also lent his minds wonderings elsewhere concerning his situation.

She asked, “What are you thinking now?” Again he took his time in answering. The man was even more handsome when he brooded.

“I am thinking that I am becoming more and more open to accepting the truth about my marriage and my wife.”

She let her brow rise as a way to nudge him forward. She had already determined that if the covenant between him and Etta was going to be broken that it would not be at her hands even though she would prepare herself to pick up Jørn’s shattered pieces.

He let out a long breath through flared nostrils. “I love her…so much it hurts, and even though everything keeps telling me she has lied to me and done me more wrong than anyone else in this world, I can’t bring my heart to believe it, but that doesn’t mean I will not allow my reasoning to guide me in my future choices.”

Maryam shifted in her seat, crossing her legs as she considered him. “What choices? I would encourage you not to be too hasty in whatever you have decided. You don’t want to look back with regret. Often our emotions, our need to have gratification and answers, can lead us to make decisions we wish we had not.”

“I know that. That is why I am talking to you.”

She smiled, and tried not to read too much into his statement although she found it much harder to do than it should have been.

“It was hard for me to even call you that first night, and even though it has gotten easier for me to come and talk to you, it still isn’t the most comfortable thing for me. Etta doesn’t know that I am seeing, but she should. Just because she hides things from me doesn’t mean I should be returning the favor.”

“But haven’t you hidden things from her long before any of this became an issue?”

A shadow darkened his eyes and his voice lowered an octave. “You are talking about her not knowing that I have been five years sober.”

She nodded.

Jørn huffed and laughed with an air of resentment. “I shouldn’t have to tell her that. That she should have noticed.”

“Far enough, is your reasoning the same with this situation; your following her and knowing about West Haven?”

“I don’t understand what you are asking me.”

Maryam leaned forward and searched his eyes. “Are you going to tell her?”

He shook his head. “No. At least not yet, not until I have all my ducks in a row.”

“Okay, so what will it take for you to get to that place of order? What is your next step?”

He ran his fingers through his hair. “I met someone earlier today, he told me that he could help me if I wanted to know the truth, about Etta, about Baldwin. He said he was a detective and that I should call him.”

“And you are leery?”

“Obviously.” He chuckled.

“You once felt the same way about me.” She smiled softly.

Jørn only shook his head. “I was never leery of you, Maryam. I was more leery of what I would find out if I opened up Pandora’s Box. Now that the box is opened I realize I need more help sorting through the mess than I thought. So I might be enlisting more help to that end.”

“So the obvious question, is?”

“Am I going to call him? I don’t know if I have a choice not to.”

Maryam bobbed her head. “I think you are on the right track, Jørn. I really do.”

*          *          *

If she had not called Doris and asked if she could swing by, and had the woman not been so excited with the prospect of her visit, Etta would have went home. It was nearly ten thirty and Doris had to man the chapel in the morning. But Doris had been excited and she was already on her porch with her finger pressing into the doorbell.

As soon as Doris opened the door, her bright smile faded when she looked at Etta, and without a thought she pulled Etta into her arms and began to squeeze her the way that Etta realized she had hoped Francise would have. It all seemed silly to her now but nevertheless a valid need.

“Oh sweetie,” Doris cooed, nearly coaxing tears from Etta’s eyes. “You come in here, and I will get you some coffee. Do you want coffee? I have decaf.” She dragged Etta inside and set her down at the kitchen table before scooting into the kitchen to get the coffee ready.

Etta didn’t even remember if she had said yes or no to whether or not she wanted some, but she would gladly take it. While the coffee pot worked its magic Doris joined Etta at the table, squeezing her hand. “I am so glad to see you, Etta. I have missed you so much.” She beamed, the sincerity of her words rang true with the words of her frequency.

Etta shrugged off her coat.

“Yes, get comfy, hun! I mean unless you can’t stay too long. I don’t want Jørn to be worried about you.”

“Thanks, Doris.” She didn’t bother saying anything about Jørn, doubting that he would worry about her at all. He hadn’t even called her.

“So…how are you, Etta? How are you doing, really?”

Etta let her eyes roll closed and leaned her face into her hands. She wasn’t going to cry but she did feel the weight of everything all of a sudden. She was human after all, human with the weight of the world on her shoulders, an alien entity that was thirsty for her blood, and a husband that was keeping company with another woman. Everyone had their limits, even Etta.

She said, “I have seen better days, Doris,” She peeked through her fingers, grunted, and then leaned back in the chair. “But I know that I will get through this just like I have gotten through other things.” And she would. She had left no room for any other options.

“Yes you will. You are hero. My little local Wonder Woman.” She beamed again.

Etta chuckled. “You really think so? After all the crap that has been being said about me; that I killed Baldwin Falk, put my grandfather in a coma.” She didn’t mean to sing her own song of self pity, or to make Doris’ smile wane. But even her words couldn’t knock the woman’s happiness down for too long.

Doris said, “I don’t give two hoots about what people are saying. See cause, I know you, Etta. I know the truth about you.” She wagged her finger at her.

“Do you?” Her voice was so small that Doris grabbed her hand again.

“Absolutely! I know that when I was scared you comforted me. You let me hide in your office with you for a week, and I know I can be a bit overbearing with my chatter. You came and stood by me when the Seats of the Silence revealed themselves, and you selflessly saved my life by stopping the ascensions. So yes, I do know you and I am proud to. And there is no one, and no thing that could ever change my mind about how wonderful you are!” She patted her hand.

Etta felt the back of her eyes sting, but rather than give into tears she gave Doris a big hug, allowing some of the stress to wax away. “Thank you, Doris. You have no idea how much that means to me.”

“Well, I mean every word.” She rubbed Etta’s back and released her when the coffee pot finished making the coffee. “Now,” She pulled out of her embrace and stood. “How does my friend take her coffee?”

Chapter 38: Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 38     

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

People and Lotus are like sound recordings. The track sounds completely different when you play it backwards… 

*          *          *

Rachel immediately stopped moaning from the stab of pain that had assaulted her nervous system. The frequency of the grey Lotus seed around her neck had completely broken the connection between her and the Towes Web, sending a fire throughout every cell in her body that would have made her collapse to the ground had Etta not instructed her to be silent and remain standing.

Obeying the unspoken command, relayed to her by the new frequency, she turned around slowly, and eased herself into the chair in front of her, the back of her hand touching her suddenly dampened forehead.

“Wow!” She flushed, the flesh of her chin turning pink. “I’m sorry, I-my head. I just got dizzy all of a sudden.” Confusion shot through her eyes, just as evident as it did the glow around her.

Etta poured her a cup of water from the pitcher at Mr. Albert’s bedside. “You’re probably just tired. What was it, a 26 hour shift, not to mention having to fight my grandfather back into the land of the living?”

The confusion kept Rachel staring forward unable to formulate a response until Etta helped her along. Suddenly the corners of her mouth drew up in a smile, betraying the bewildered panic in her eyes. “You know what, Etta? There is some truth to that. And I think I am going to keep this, the pendant that is. It’s beautiful.” She tucked a stray lock of hair that had shaken lose from her ponytail back behind her ear.

Etta kept her eyes on her, noticing the wisps of color that lashed outward from Rachel, mixing in with the dull white frequency from the seed that held her will bound. She was trying to fight against the hold that Etta had put on her. She was somehow vaguely aware of the fact that something had happened to her.

“Did it work? Is she disconnected?” Baldwin eased to Etta’s side, his arms folded curiously across his chest.

Etta gave an inconspicuous nod before pulling the box containing Michael’s keychain from it. She handed it to Rachel. “I made a keychain for Michael. I know that he has been helping you with all of this. Give that to him for me, please. I would appreciate it.” Put it on his keychain yourself if you have to. Do it as soon as you leave here. Tell him it is a gift from you. She sent the message in the form of a vibration, same as she would the Lotus she had taken over.

Rachel cleared her throat and stood. She gave the pendant a startled look and went to touch it before the sudden fear of doing so pulled her hand down. “I am going to give Mr. Albert a quick check up, and then I will be on my way. Is there anything that you wanted to know?”

“No, I think I know everything that I need to know for now.” For one thing she needed to spike up the volume of the frequency. If Rachel Steves was fighting it like this there was no telling what a person like Vanessa Wong would do.

She grabbed her purse and headed for the door. “I will see you around, Rachel.”

*          *          *

Jørn should have taken this time to get some rest, really rest. Etta was not home which meant he did not have to pretend to sleep next to her. He was never very good at acting although lately he had to give himself much credit. Feigning ignorance about much of Etta’s activities was something of an act he had regrettably become well versed. But what choice did he have if he wanted to get to the truth?

His leg bobbed up and down, nervous anxiety popping throughout his joints. The number to Nobody taunted him. He was certain that it was Baldwin’s number, but what was he going to say when his cousin answered? Would he be able to say anything at all?

He had practiced the scenario over in his head, a few times with anger being the ultimate response. That he could not help. His cousin had lied to him, his wife had lied to him. So what they had some big plan to save the world from the ascensions. Was Jørn the collateral damage or their mends to a seemingly justifiable end? Was Heidi?

He crumpled the paper in his fist and leaned his body forward, the bobbing in his leg radiating to the other. Casting all caution to the wind, he punched the ten digit number into his phone and sent the call.

His heart beat in his chest like an angry fist against a barred door. It skipped a beat when the phone on the other end answered. He stood to his feet, nostrils flaring, waiting to hear the tenor of Baldwin’s voice. Instead a woman made his acquaintance.

“West Haven Psychiatrics,”

The woman said, no name given, no hello. The sound of other voices in the background rang true through the phone. Jørn glanced down at his cell phone. Maybe he had typed in the wrong number. He had not.

“Hello?”

Jørn cleared his throat. “Hello, I am sorry I dialed the wrong number. Please excuse the ring.” He hung up before the woman could say anything else. His brain suddenly felt weighted with all of the thoughts that tumbled in, and with their pressure he found himself sinking back down onto the sofa.

Nobody. Nobody was in a Psychiatric hospital? Baldwin was in a psychiatric hospital? He shook his head as if that would knock away the realization. He glanced over at a picture of himself and Etta on the wall. Glaring at it he asked her, “What in God’s name happened, Etta?”

*          *          *

Arnold Anderson put down his sandwich and slowly swallowed the wad of dry chicken breast on white bread before swallowing it down. It wasn’t the best meal he had had, but having forwent a far better meal at Dahlia’s that morning in exchange for black coffee with a side of aggression from Jørn Teague, it was better than nothing.

Rick Henley had let himself into his motel room, sitting down across from Arnold with a steely scowl. Yeah, something was off with the man. He knew better than to come at Arnold that way.

Keeping his cards close to his chest Arnold didn’t allow the disrespect to bait him. “How can I help you, Rick?”

Rick shook his head. “Why haven’t you called back Pastor Meeks?”

Arnold rolled his tongue across his gums, dislodging a chunk of chicken breast that had tried to find its home there. He dropped his napkin onto the plate. He had had enough of the chicken. “I am going to call him back. I needed to take care of a few things and get some food in my belly before hand.”

Rick frowned at the sandwich. Arnold continued, “Why are you coming to see me about a phone call anyhow? This town hasn’t ever been much on violence, but I am sure you have better things to do than hunt me down about conversations I have yet to have with your local Pastor, that is unless you are aiming to proselytize me.” He didn’t bother telling him he had become a man of faith some seven years now.

He held Rick’s gaze for several moments before letting a smile ease up his face. Something had happened to his friend. The leeriness he displayed towards him was uncommon. His running around like the squire to the Pastor was also out of character. Somehow it all had to do with Etta Castle Teague and Baldwin Falk. Or maybe it didn’t. “Hey if you just wanted to hang out with me and shoot the breeze like old times that is all you had to say. No need in pretending official business.”

He further studied Rick’s behavior. Rick finally smiled, knocking his knuckles against the Formica table top. “It has been a long time, nevertheless you have got to call the Pastor back. The man won’t leave me alone until you do. And,” He flicked the white bread of the sandwich and turned up his nose. “It wouldn’t hurt if you got some real food in your belly. You’d be better off eating gravel than that garbage.” He stood up and adjusted his belt. “Call back Pastor Meeks, for my sanity and yours.”

Arnold nodded. “Will do.”  He waited until Rick had pulled out of the parking lot, watching him from behind the curtain, before he headed to his bed and pulled out his computer. He didn’t want to waste anytime on the Pastor, but something in his gut told him he needed to. He needed to just as much as he needed to figure out how Etta had murdered Baldwin Falk.

*          *          *

The break was subtle, both of them were, but the Pulse felt it, felt it as much as it felt the need that rippled through its being and distorted its own vibration. One, no, two had been disconnected from Their hold, lost in the clutter of sound and frequency that hummed from the face of the Earth.

The Etta beast.” It seethed, hating its enemy more and more for what she was doing and what she had made The Pulse do, but the need…The need was so great that the Pulse had devoured one of its own. If one without form could shutter, that is what the Pulse had done as the lingering essence of the vibration They all sought and ached for was imbedded itself with in the very make up of the Pulse. The feel of it was vile ecstasy, lovely and hated all at once.

But it would soon be over.

Soon the earth would be set to right, the sequence would be reimplemented and all of Their kind would have Their need and thirst sated. Stretching out its tethers that coursed through the aged body of Clive Meek’s, the Pulse searched from another vessel through which it would accomplish the task. They would take the whole of Greenwich Pass if they had to.

Monday’s Muse: March 30th Writing Prompt

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YOU CREATE THE OPENING LINE: For this week’s prompt, take the time to look at the image and write down the first line that comes to you. Afterward post your opening line in the Comments section below, and I will choose the best line to use in writing my 15 to 20 free flow. (I won’t say best, I will say the one that sparks my muse the most. ;) )

I will choose the best line by Midnight on Wednesday April 1st.

As always, once you have written your piece, add a link to this original post and remember to add the tag, Monday’s Muse, to your finished piece.

Cheers!

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Writing Prompt Results: From March 23 Free Flow Write

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He watched them from afar, but the disdain he felt for them was so closely lit in his chest he feared he would combust and light the sky with his flame. If only he had flame. If only he had anything at all with which to pay them in full the debt of the indignation they had birthed in him.

How easily they had come into his world, and how easily they had slipped out, snatching away from him all hope for the future he had so diligently clawed to obtain.

“Liars!” He hissed, following them closely in the cover of deep black shadow. They were nothing but a pair of liars, off again to do to others what they had done to him.

He raised trembling fingers to his face and gingerly touched the angry scar that ran atop his forehead and down towards his jaw. She had given that to him, sliced him so effortlessly that one would have thought the witch was cutting through dinner meat.

But it was her companion who gave him the limp, crushed his ankle like stale bread. Even now he had to clench his jaw to keep from hollowing from the lingering pain that radiated throughout when the wind was too chill or he put to much pressure upon it.

Such a brutal pair, dressed in finery; clean and crisp without a care. But it was his fault, all his fault that he had let her honey colored eyes seduce him into welcoming her into his world only to later find that she had a shadow that bore more weight than she.

His only consolation, his only reward was the one Judas kiss she had dealt him before his house of cards crashed to the ground. Now she strolled upon the artificial lights of the night, holding hands with the man she had claimed was nothing more than her brother.

No, he was far more than that, as was she. A groan escaped his lips as pain nearly brought him to his knees. Curse his ankle! Curse the liars! He slipped deeper into the blanket of dark, sweat trickling down the grooves of his scared face.

He closed his eyes and focused on his breath. The pain would cease and when it did, he would follow them again. He would figure out his plan for retribution. He had nothing else to lose nothing else-

The sound of a hand gun being cocked and readied, caused his eyes to peel open. Sweet, warm lips brushed the side of his cheeks as her familiar voice rang in his ear. “I told you that it was over, Jo. We offered you the plea deal and you took it. But you just couldn’t leave well enough alone.” She kissed his cheek and again took the hand of her man.

The liars, the agents, the man who stole his career and the witch who stole his heart. He slumped down right before the bullet slipped through the silencer. “Naw, Judith. I couldn’t leave you alone. Love does that to a man.”

THE END.

My apologies for finishing this a day late. I let too much time drift away and by the time I realized midnight had come and gone, my story had not been made. Alas, here it is. 

Cheers!

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Love in 10 sentances: A Challenge

It is with great pleasure that I accept the challenge given me by, Lisa, author of the REAL MOM OF LONG ISLAND blog.

What is the challenge? The challenge is to write a poem composed of 10 sentences, each no more than 4 words long, and each containing the word LOVE. Then, at the end of my poem, which you will find below, I am to include a favorite quote about love, AND challenge 15 other bloggers to do the same! How exciting.

1426672100e9zz2Love is a promise…

Love is a kiss

Love is a whisper

Love is a friend

Love is a sister

Love is a risk

Love is your laughter

Love is for now

Love then, and after

Love…is a promise

Quote:

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Dr. Seuss

As a writer, I live in my dreams, and then express them in story form for others to live in as well. But how glorious is love that the heart of one other being, beating in tune with yours would make you want to wake up? Just lovely!

Thank you Lisa for this challenge!

My list of people I have chosen to Challenge:

E. I Wong

Blondewritemore

Military Wife Okinawa life

Stories By Frances

A Daily Ritual of Writing

Creative Metaphor

Frausto

K. L Register

A little Bird Tweets

Writing Sprint

A. D. Everard

Christine Fichner

Poems and People

Awkward Girl

Nemiboyo

Remember folks, this is all in fun so take your time and know you are under no obligation to participate, but it would be nice if you did!

Cheers!

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March 23 Writing Prompt Results by Rick Aguirre

Hello all! I had the pleasure of reading the results of our latest writing prompt, done by Rick Aguirre. As he does not have a blog of his own (which with chops like these, I think he should consider acquiring one) I have decided to share his results for him.

Enjoy!

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He watched them from afar, but the disdain he felt for them was so closely lit in his chest he feared he would combust and light the sky with his flame. The sounds of the city clattered on like an old jazz tune which, in another time, another place, might have been endearing but here and now only served to stoke the embers smoldering in his bowels.

His gaze fell upon them like that of an owl leering through a wooded hollow as they blithely sauntered down the narrow street. Details emerged from their silhouettes as they passed a well lit storefront only to fade back into obscurity once they traveled beyond the light’s reach.

Light or no he could see them. He needed no illumination to discern the monsters beneath their mediocre facade and superficial pleasantries. He knew the atrocities they committed behind closed doors.

A cold sweat began to breech the surface of his skin and gave him a faint chill as it met with the cool night air. The quiver in his breath became an undeniable rhythm as he leaned forward ever so slightly.

The haphazard scaffolding which perpetually blemished this town threatened to obstruct his view and allow them to slip back into the masquerade.

“Not tonight” he whispered to himself as his grip firmed. His left eye gently closed as he exhaled and waited for what seemed an eternity for one , then the other, to wander into his cross-hairs.

(Words written by Rick Aguirre)

Monday’s Muse: Writing Prompt March 23 2015

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OPENING LINE: He watched them from afar, but the disdain he felt for them was so closely lit in his chest he feared he would combust and light the sky with his flame.

RULES: Using the above line and the picture provided, create a story (or even a poem) within 15 to 20 minutes. Once you have finished your super awesome masterpiece, add a link in the comments section of this  post to your story for others to read, as well as a link on your page back to this original post for others to follow along and write with as well. In your “tags” section, add the tag “Monday’s Muse.”

My results will be posted on Thursday March 26th under the FICTION tab, then the WRITING PROMPTS AND EXERCISES, then MY WRITING PROMPT RESULTS.

Cheers!

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