Dishonest, Interlude

Horus Corley calmly walked into Beth Azure’s bedroom. The cat sleeping on her bed stirred, immediately knew something was wrong.

“Hey there, baby!” grinned Corley. He flashed his surgically sharpened teeth. The cat arched his back, hissed, and jumped off the bed. Corley laughed as he watched the cat run down the hallway.

It only takes Pestilence Men two minutes to make their target sick. Horus Corley had been standing at the foot of the bed for a half hour. Despite his best efforts, Beth Azure slept soundly. Corley smiled his surgically sharpened teeth, but it was only a smile of embarrassment. He tried again.

“Heh, heh. I’m not sure what’s wrong. Have you simply have been taking more vitamin C this whole time? You keep sleepin’ like you’re dead. Well wake up!”

Beth, curled up like a little child, hugged her pillow like it was a teddy bear. Whatever she dreamed was pleasant enough to make her smile. Was it the warmth of the blankets?

“Why won’t you listen to me?!” shouted Corley. Then he covered his mouth. Shh. Don’t wanna get the rest of her family sick. They’re not on the list. Yet.

Aw, no. He heard coughing in the next room. Beth no longer smiled in her sleep.

“Com’n, fever up,” said Corley, “I got others to sicken tonight. Wait a minute—!”

He saw Beth put her hand on her ear to check something, then went back to sleep.

Earphones?!

Something Corley’s boss did not tell him was that Beth Azure always slept with earbuds connected to her phone, which played soft music all night.

“The Briostone coulda been useful tonight,” muttered Corley.

Despite their reputation, Pestilence Men, like delivery services, had to follow rules. Corley was presently invisible, incorporeal, and could not simply remove the earphones. Due to job ethics, the Briostone, which made Corley flesh and bone for a brief time, could not be used while on the job. So how would he accomplish his mission?

He’d just return the next night. He’d return as long as it took, until the night when Beth forgot to wear them, or something unfortunate happened to her phone.

When Corley left the house, he was contacted by his boss.

“Is the task complete?” asked the voice on the other line.

“Yeah. Sure is, boss.” Corley smiled, “She is sick as a dog.”

There was a long pause.

“It will snow tomorrow,” said the voice on the other line, “The snow makes everything better for us.”

From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

Go to Next Page

Go to Previous Page

Unlisted, Tangible, Interlude

Principal Gordon Luthar winced as he removed his shirt. How could Horus Corley have left him with a terribly nasty knife wound on the shoulder, yet made a simple stroke with his fingers? Luthar never knew it was there until he got home that evening.

He got out the antiseptic and bandages and went to work. There. That should hold until the next tribute arrives. Tribute of ether from other specters allowed the Briostone to heal his body, but the next payment would not be due for another week.

“Gordy! Supper’s almost ready!” said his wife.

“Sounds good, Lucille,” called Luthar, “What is cooking?”

“We’re havin’ minute steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed broccoli! And carrots!”

“Oh, baby! You KNOW what I like to eat!”

“Oh, I know what you LOVE to eat!” Lucille laughed.

Lucille and Gordon Luthar had been married for over 15 years. She had yet to discover his secret. Such was the skill of his Briostone. He was so alive it was like living forever. Perhaps, when she was near death, he could get a Briostone for her too?

The Briostones could, with various degrees, give its wearer the best of life and death. It could turn its wearer tangible, giving them the physical body to continue living as if they had never died, but keeping the advantages of being a specter. But that also means he or she is now susceptible to all the dangers of life. They could die, were vulnerable to attack from other specters, and therefore had to learn some form of defensive combat.

In Luthar’s case, his Briostone was among the Rare types. He could get dressed, have a wife, and run a school with all the demands being Principal required, at the cost of lesser specters paying him tribute.

Specters with Lesser type Briostones could not have the life that Luthar enjoyed. Not without lots of hard work to raid other stones. Consequently Luthar had many enemies.

Ether now flowed in the veins of specters, instead of blood, and it was what kept the Briostones from shriveling up. Merging them with other Briostones could make them more clear, increasing their skill.

Certain levels could be acquired from injecting ether into a Briostone to change it from common quality, to premium, to rare. But there was that certain level of quality that just could not be attained.

The Unique class of Briostones was legendary. They required far less ether to perform, which explained why the specters who had them never revealed themselves. Scarcity and random appearances were telltale signs that a specter had a Unique class Briostone. The more they showed, the greater the risk of being attacked and losing it.

Yet if Luthar could get his hands on a Unique level Briostone, merge it with his own Rare Briostone? Who knows what it would create!

Actually, it might blow up.

Never mind that, it’d still be cool to have one!

There were 23 other specters whose haunts were on school grounds. Luthar knew them all rather well. They all had agreed to give him tribute on certain days of the month. Some poor soul had written a children’s book about them. The teachers would never know how frighteningly real it was.

Yet that was a book on the specters who appeared most often. In reality, there were a few other specters in and around the school and the neighborhood. They did not appear as often and therefore were not considered as “scary” as Luthar, alias “Hector Hundred.”

The Unlisted group of specters appeared at first glance to be solo types. Their need to appear only happened when other flashier events happened, like New Year’s Eve, or in catastrophic events like hurricanes or tornados. In truth, they were a very tight-knit organization. Their level of danger was far greater than that of Luthar. That bothered him. They had to go.

All the occasional, strange phenomenon, without-a-trace stories were the work of the Unlisted group. They tended to have their meetings in abandoned buildings under heavy guard. But they never invaded onto school property. What if they ever did? Would the students be safe?

Luthar mused briefly if Corley was working for the Unlisted. Hmm. The only specter he knew that might know the Unlisted group members personally was the former head coach. He only appeared on a quarter moon. Or was it a half moon?

It didn’t matter. He showed up in human form, body intact, often enough at the local pub. Luthar hesitated, then looked up the number and reached for his home phone.

 

From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?