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Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Day of Mayhem with Justin Gustainis - Part 2

Happy Sunday Everyone!

I hope that part of your celebration today involves checking out the second part of our interview between Libby Chastain and Quincey Morris. This is the third part in a series of blogs by Justin Gustainis.

Last week Sunday, Justin graced us with the real ending of Bram Stoker's Dracula, a tale that fell into his hands through a twisted tale. If you are just coming in and would like to catch up with the intro and part 1 of the interview, follow the links below:

How Dracula Really Ended

A Day of Mayhem with Justin Gustainis - Part 1

If you've read those are waiting on pins and needles for the second part of the interview, as am I, I won't waste any more time and we'll get right to it.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Yes, Cecelia was a nasty piece of work. And not the only one we’ve faced, recently.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Well, it comes with the job, Libby. If it was like petting baby bunnies, then anybody could do it.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Well, there were for sure no baby bunnies in Idaho last year. Or if there were, we didn’t get to see them.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Idaho, or Iowa? I always get those confused.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Idaho. Coeur d”Alene, to be exact. Where Walter Grobius—

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Crazed zillionaire Walter Grobius. Precision is everything, Libby.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Well, if you want precision, it should be the late, unlamented crazed zillionaire Walter Grobius.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: (Laughs) Okay, you win. Let’s just call him Walter Grobius. And you’re right, it was Idaho. At that huge estate he had out there.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Not much left of it, now, is there?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: No, I had a guy fly me over the area a few days after … well, you remember.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: The late unpleasantness.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: You always had a talent for understatement, Libby. Okay, a few days after the late unpleasantness, I flew over Grobius’s estate. Looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off in there.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Whereas the reality was so much worse. Hellfire doesn’t discriminate. Ait destroys everything – and everyone -- in its path.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Served the bastard right. You were almost killed twice during that mess.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Three times, actually. But who’s counting? And we both nearly bought it in Kent, Ohio, when Grobius hired that sorcerer to get rid of us.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Oh, yeah, the devil bats. I still have nightmares about those things.

[Editor’s note: Readers curious about Morris’s reference to “devil bats,” may find the following passage enlightening]

Roderico Baca stood on one of the hills overlooking the Shady Tree Motel and prepared to release Hell – or a reasonable facsimile thereof. He knew that Chastain was down there – he could smell the bitch. He would assume, for now, that the man was with her.

Baca had spent almost an hour in preparation, once he had set upon the method by which he would destroy Chastain and her companion. Several others might well join them, constituting what the U.S. military calls “collateral damage.” Baca was not bothered in the slightest by this prospect.

He had chosen the spell he was using with great care. Pardee had said he wanted Chastain’s death to be nasty. “Nasty” was one of the things that Roderico Baca did best. He had drawn the necessary symbols in the earth, using a silver dagger he had made with his own hands. Then he mixed four of the key ingredients in proper proportion, all without the use of any kind of light. Baca had acquired the ability to see in the dark. That was appropriate, since, in a sense, it was where he lived.

Once the dry ingredients were mixed, to the accompaniment of the proper incantation, Baca was ready to add the final component. He reached into his leather bag and produced a small glass vial of baby’s blood. The ancient spell specified that this ingredient be fresh -- blood that is not refrigerated tends to congeal into an unworkable sludge vey quickly.

Baca had made one stop on the way here. He knew the ingredient was fresh.

Although it is theoretically possible to perform black magic at any time, Baca much preferred the night for his work. Quite apart from the symbolism (and in magic of any kind, symbolism counts for much), it was known that the Dark Powers were stronger and more active after the light had fled. The darkness was also beneficial for a more pragmatic reason: some of the creatures that a black magician will call to do his bidding only come out at night.

Bats, for instance.

Despite their association with vampires in popular culture (which was a laugh, because, as Baca knew, vampires had no power to take the form of these creatures), bats are generally harmless to humans, the exception being the rabies virus that they sometimes carry. But rabies takes weeks to incubate before it kills, although its victims’ final hours are very painful, indeed.

Disease aside, bats constitute no threat to people. They are generally small creatures, and most species eat nothing but insects or fruit. Even the fabled vampire bat, native to South America, will take less than a fluid ounce of blood from its host, whether animal or human.

But just because bats were harmless by nature didn’t mean that they had to remain so.

Baca first sent out his power to call the bats to him, and from the skies for miles around, they came, by the thousands. Soon, they were flapping in the air above Baca in a great, circling cloud. He had them flying high above, lest the squeaking they use to navigate be heard on the ground and give warning of what was to come.

The Summoning was done. That was the easy part of the spell. Now for the Transformation. Baca spread his arms wide apart, summoning the power of the Dark master he served, directing that power into the great mass of bats above him, causing the creatures to transform.

To grow – the bats began to double in size -- some of them, to triple

To change – even the largest of the bats had fangs less than a half-inch long. But no more. Under the command of Baca’s magic, the bats’ teeth grew, until they looked like parodies of Halloween decorations. The teeth were long now, and they were pointed, and they were very sharp.

Then, to become savage – bats have little capacity for emotion, but Baca’s spell increased that capacity, then filled it with rage and the need to destroy. Any moment now, they would start fighting among themselves. But Baca had better quarry in mind.

Finally, he said a word of power five times and pointed at the motel room where Chastain and her boyfriend were staying. The bats could not see him point, of course; Baca’s purpose was to focus the bats’ energy and fury on one place.

And so he did.

Thousands of the devil bats dived, almost as one. Their goal was the building down below. Their need was to use their new, razor-sharp fangs to kill the warm-blooded creatures inside.

They descended on the Shady Tree Motel like a great, black tidal wave of death.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Those bats were about the scariest things I’ve ever seen. And it seemed like there were millions of them.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Yeah, we’d have been right screwed that time, if it weren’t for Hannah.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Poor Hannah. She had issues, for sure, but there’s nobody I’d rather have watching my back. Present company excepted, of course.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Of course, and thank you. I don’t suppose there’s any chance that Hannah made it out of there?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: I don’t see how. You saw what was left of the place, Quincey.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Yeah, but her body was never identified.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: There were quite a few bodies in there that were never identified.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: I know, I know. But if anybody could get out of that conflagration alive, it’d be Hannah. What did that FBI guy, Fenton, say about her?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: I believe it was, “That lady’s just too damn mean to die.”

[Editor’s note: This appears to be a reference to “occult bounty hunter” Hannah Widmark (1966-2008?). Readers unfamiliar with this remarkable woman may find the following passage interesting]

Gunther Krause slipped into the abandoned house through the back door a few minutes before sunrise. There were stories that the undead could take the form of mist that could be directed anywhere they wished to go. If that were true, Krause had yet to figure out how to manage it, which was a pity. It would have made his existence much easier.

Krause was four paces from the basement door when he suddenly realized he was lying on the floor. A moment later, the pain hit him – a searing, merciless agony at the base of his spine that only one thing could have caused. Silver.

He heard them then, the sounds of boot heels crossing the uneven wooden floor. A few seconds later, the owner of the boots came into view. Krause didn’t really need to breathe anymore, but he gasped, nonetheless. He had in an instant taken in the black hair, the pallor, the scar along an otherwise beautiful, if hard, face. The woman’s shirt and pants were black, to match the boots. In one hand she held the still smoking, silenced .25 automatic that she had used to fire a silver bullet into his spine.

Through teeth clenched tight in pain, Krause managed, “They say you don’t … exist A legend … a myth, no more.”

The woman let a tiny smile appear on her face. “And now you know better,” she said, in a beautiful soprano voice that sounded like angels singing. “Pity you won’t get the chance to spread the word.”

“Who … who sent you?”

“The family of your second victim. The second in this town, anyway. You didn’t disguise your work quite as well as you thought. They figured out that it was one of you leeches who killed him.”

Her boots tapped out another slow rhythm on the floorboards as she walked over to the nearby window. Miraculously, its shade was still intact. She moved it aside a few inches and glanced outside. “Sun’s almost up,” she said, conversationally, and walked back to where the wounded vampire lay.

“What are you … waiting for?” Krause moaned. “Finish it.”

“In due time,” she said. “Which will be very soon, now.”

“Just … because your first shot … missed ….”

She laughed with what sounded like genuine amusement. “Missed? Oh, dear gracious me, no. That bullet went exactly where I wanted it.”

“Why maim … not kill?”

“Because I wanted to spend a few minutes having this little chat with you, Gunther. You don’t mind if I call you Gunther, do you?”

A few minutes later, she sauntered back to the window and peered out again. “Ah, sunrise!” she said. “Looks like it should be a beautiful day.”

She turned back toward Gunther Krause again, and for a moment there was something in her face that would have frightened half the demons in Hell. Then she reached down slowly and grasped the bottom of the window shade.

“Any last words?” she asked pleasantly.

“Screw you … you sick, twisted … bitch.”

Hannah Widmark, known in some circles as Widowmaker, smiled broadly. “Well, those will serve, I suppose.”

She yanked the bottom of the shade down hard, then released it.

She stood there for a full minute longer, watching impassively and listening to the screams.

Then she left, her boots crunching as they walked over the gray ashes that lay strewn across the floor in the shape of a man.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: So, what’s next for you, Quincey?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: What’s next for us, you mean?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: If you prefer. I’m just trying to maintain some literary distance here.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Well, I recently stumbled upon a rumor that bothers me some. And if it’s true, I expect it’s gonna bother me a lot.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: If you’re waiting for me to feed you the next line, then I will: what’s that, Quincey?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: It’s possible, just possible, mind you, that a future Presidential candidate is … possessed by a demon.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Isn’t that usually the province of Vice Presidential candidates?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: I’m serious, Libby. And if it’s true, and this dude manages to actually get elected, the result could be ….

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Hell on earth. Literally.

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: Exactly.

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Well, then I suppose we’d better do something about that, shouldn’t we?

Quincey MorrisMORRIS: I was fixin’ to. Can I count you in?

Libby ChastainPLAYBOY: Can’t you always?

The End

Hmmm. I'm not so sure about that. It's quite possible we might see these two again when their next story is ready to go public. I'll keep you filled in!

Remember to make a comment to enter your name into a drawing for a signed copy of Black Magic Woman!

2 Moonbeams (comments):

Sheila Deeth said...

Hell bats in Coeur dAlene, and that excellent line about Vice Presidents. This certainly sounds fun.

Justin Gustainis said...

Actually, the hell bats attacked in Kent, Ohio. The REAL shit hit the fan in Idaho about a week later--- on Walpurgis Night, the Night of the Witches' Sabbath.

Walpurgis Night (April 30th) was a little more than a week ago -- but this year's wasn't nearly as interesting as the one that Quincey and Libby went through -- as chronicled in EVIL WAYS.