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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Going On The Offensive

Storm Chapter 10

“What’s your idea, Storm?” Ted asked, looking with exasperation at his partner, who gave him the wave off with attitude.

“I’ll show you,” Storm said quickly, grabbing up the knife Kevin had tried to use earlier, still wrapped in the handkerchief Janet had picked it up in. She took it over to the sink and sliced her thumb with the blade.

“What the hell…” Ted began, launching out of his seat, only to halt, nod his head, and sit back down. “I get it. Real slick, Storm, real slick.”

Logan watched Storm curiously. She allowed her blood to drip over the length of Grable’s blade, coating it on both sides and part of the handle. She then set it aside on the countertop while she covered her thumb with a paper towel.

“Do you have any holy water left?” Storm asked Logan.

“It’s on the porch with the salt where I was sleeping,” Logan replied with a nod of understanding. “I’ll get it.”

Logan jogged out to the porch and retrieved the partial bottle of holy water still left over from their earlier confrontation with the demon. Storm held out her thumb. Logan poured the holy water over the self-inflicted cut. Storm smiled up at him.

“Just covering all the bases,” Storm said. She covered her thumb up again.

“Want to tell us what you have in mind, just to make sure we’re all on the same page?” Janet commented. “I’m sure Kevin here will want to know what’s in it for him.”

Storm sat down next to Janet, still holding the paper towel over her cut. Kevin looked at Logan fearfully as he took a seat next to him again. He glanced at Storm hopefully.

“We give Kevin the knife with my blood. He goes back to Grable. He tells her he killed me and that he should disappear before the police get him. She’ll try and get him to stay. If Kevin is insistent enough, she’ll let him go. He comes back here and stays in our house until this ends. The spell I did last night will prevent her from sending the demon after him. Grable won’t want to let him live. When she sees me in school, she’ll freak, thinking I somehow came back from the dead. Kevin will be here safe and out of sight. Would she try to coerce any of the others into doing something freaky?”

“She…she’d do anything,” McGraff answered. “She doesn’t trust any of the others; but she knows they’d do nearly anything not to die like those five girls. June has Amador and Blake completely in her power. Both believe even if they lived, Grable would have them put in prison. She chose her membership carefully. From what she told me, those five girls the demon killed were there to feed the thing and keep the rest of us in line. The twins would have been next.”

“I have news for you, genius,” Janet put in angrily. “Grable wouldn’t have stopped with the twins either. I’ll definitely have to be in the school. Can you work out of the Honda outside the school, Ted, or do we need to acquire a van?”

“I have enough range to work out of the Honda down the street a ways,” Ted answered. “We don’t have time to round up a surveillance van. I’ll be close enough to back you up.”

“You better be a great actor, McGraff,” Ted added after a moment, looking over at the white faced young man. “I doubt you’ll get a second chance. Can you do this?”

“I…I don’t have a choice.”

“Sure you do, Kev,” Logan assured him grimly, putting his arm around the cringing McGraff. “You can die right here.”

“I can do it,” McGraff stated, glancing over at Ted. “I’ll need to come right over here if she lets me go. Otherwise, she’ll send that thing after me.”

Ted stood up. He jacked a shell into the chamber of his weapon and handed McGraff the Amulet. “Pick up the knife and walk out of here. Keep it at your side and let the blood dry. Don’t make any goofy moves or I swear to God, I’ll empty this clip into your head. Get going… slowly.”

Logan moved out of Kevin’s way. McGraff stuffed the Amulet into his pocket. He picked up the knife by the handle off the sink. Keeping it next to his side, McGraff walked to the front door with Logan shadowing him and left the house. Logan stood by the door watching Kevin walk down the street toward his car. When McGraff was out of sight, Logan returned to the kitchen where Ted was putting antibiotic cream and a Band-aid on Storm’s thumb. Janet refilled their coffee cups and sat down again when Logan did.

“You could just stay here and let Grable think you really are dead,” Logan offered.

“We need to get her crazy,” Storm replied, taking Logan’s hand. “Seeing me ought to send her into crazy land. She might be pissed enough to screw around looking for Kevin. I know she’ll be obsessing about me. It may buy us enough time to make it all the way until midnight. If Grable’s distracted we may be able to get rid of her demon without having to confront her while we’re doing it.”

“Where the hell does Zelda hide the damn thing since she doesn’t have the tree in the park to store it in?” Janet asked.

“Kevin says it’s her familiar now,” Storm replied. “She may have trapped the demon inside the body of something like a cat, fox, rat, or even a horse. Since we can rule out the larger animals, my guess is it’s inhabiting something small we didn’t see.”

“Jesus…” Janet groaned, putting her head in her hands. “Beam me up, Scotty. For God’s sake, please beam me up.”

Ted laughed, getting up and coming around the table behind Janet’s chair. He began massaging the base of her neck with his thumbs. “Migraine, huh?”

“Big time,” Janet moaned. “That…that’s it, Archibald! Keep pressure on right there.”

“Get a room.” Storm chuckled.

“Shut your pie-hole, Wendy! Go get ready for school!”

“Can Logan come up and shower with me?” Storm asked, catching Logan’s eye.

“Oh… you… little…” Janet griped between grunts of pleasure as Ted dug in and alternated the pressure rub of his thumbs with a shoulder massage. “You… you better…”

“I’m leaving Ma’am,” Logan interrupted gently, leaning toward Storm and kissing her quickly. “I’ll pick you up in an hour.”

As Logan began standing up, Storm pulled him back down, taking his hand in both hers. “I forgot to tell you what we need next from Father Daniels. Can you get him to bless a silver blade, some incense, and enough candle wax to make an effigy?”

“When I tell him what happened last night he’ll probably want to come along,” Logan answered. “Where do I get a silver blade?”

“There’s a silver letter opener down on my computer desk in the cellar,” Ted volunteered without looking up as he concentrated on the still moaning Janet. “Will that do?”

“Yeah, that’ll work,” Storm answered. “C’mon I’ll show you.”

“It doesn’t take two of you to…” Janet began to object as the two young people left the table and headed for the cellar entrance.

“Let them go,” Ted whispered.

“Okay… but I’m counting,” Janet assured him. “A little further up with the thumbs… oh man… I…I think it’s lifting…”

“You really would’ve let Logan kill McGraff?” Ted asked.

“In… a… heartbeat.”

“Wow, this is some setup,” Logan looked around admiringly at the bank of computer monitors and audio gear as he slipped his jacket off. “It’s hot down here. This stuff generates some heat, huh?”

Storm handed him the silver letter opener from Ted’s work station. She moved into him until her head rested against his chest. Logan’s arms wound around her as he flipped the letter opener onto his jacket where he had laid it on a chair. His hands moved over Storm’s back, feeling her body warmth through the thin material of the robe. She looked up at him after a moment and Logan kissed her gently at first, moving his lips around her partially open mouth. Feeling Logan’s attraction for her through the robe she had allowed to fall open, Storm pulled him closer. Logan’s kisses changed quickly from gentle exploration to passionate insistence. Logan broke away reluctantly, forcing Storm to arms length.

“What…what’s wrong?” Storm asked, looking up at him with a soft, half lidded gaze Logan had to avert his eyes from for a moment to regain control.

“We need to beat this thing before anything else, baby,” Logan whispered.

“If this plan of mine doesn’t work… this might be the only time we’ll ever have,” Storm reasoned, stroking Logan’s arms as they held her away from him.

“Don’t say that, Storm. The stuff you’ve pulled off already is amazing. Your idea to freak out Grable with the bloody knife was sheer genius. You’re on a roll. We need to stick with it until after midnight. I care for you and…”

“You…you think you’ll weaken me by…” Storm giggled. “Okay, I get it. I’m a fatalist. I’ll either get it done or not. What happens tonight won’t depend on what we do or don’t do here.”

“I can’t help wondering why you’d look twice at a scarred up…”

“I can see more than you think.” Storm stroked his face with her fingertips.

Logan looked long and hard into Storm’s face before pulling her to him in a fevered rush. Storm moaned loudly as she opened her mouth to his. Logan pushed aside her robe as Storm undid the front of his pants, fumbling with eagerness.

“Oh Wendy… you whoooooo…” Janet called down from the top of the stairs. “I’m counting down from five and if you two aren’t up here by then, I’m coming down with a stun-gun.”

“Oh crap!” Storm muttered as Logan pulled away reluctantly. “I’m coming, you…”

“Temper, temper,” Janet cut her off with a laugh.

“I am so going to make your clothes disappear at the worst possible time. You’ll be…”

“Blah, blah… blah, blah, blah, turn that record over, Wendy,” Janet intoned. “Get up here before I come down and give you a good spanking.”

“Can I do it?” Logan called out, fending off a gasping attack from Storm and causing raucous laughter from the top of the staircase.

“You’re too willing, Jarhead,” Janet replied finally. “Now, march your underage butts up these stairs. You may be old enough to fight life and death battles with witches and demons but sex is off the table.”

Logan picked up his jacket and the letter opener, kissing Storm once more while urging her toward the stairs.

“I’ll get you for that remark,” Storm promised.

“Until then, Wendy… until then,” Logan said huskily as he followed her up the stairs.

* * * *

“You did it!” Grable met McGraff at the door, throwing it open as he approached.

McGraff nodded tiredly, a feeling he did not have to pretend. As Grable pulled him in, McGraff handed her the bloody knife and amulet. “They worked just as you said they would.”

“How did she die?” Grable asked, running her hand over the blooded knife ecstatically.

“You never thought I’d live, did you?”

“Odds were against it,” Grable admitted. “Oh, Kev, I can feel her on this blade, baby! C’mon, tell me how she died!”

“Screaming silently,” McGraff answered, keeping his eyes on Grable. “I have to leave, June. They’ll be coming after us now, big time.”

Grable wrapped her arms around him sensuously. “You don’t have to go. We’ve got them now. Stick around and I’ll take care of those two morons tonight. We’ll go to school today and intimidate to the max.”

“Look, I did what you asked, June. I’m getting the hell out of here for now. She wasn’t alone. There’s something more to those supposed parents of hers. I can reappear in a couple of weeks. I’ll get my folks to cover for me somehow.”

“Okay… go,” Grable agreed, taking up the knife again possessively. “I’ll call you when I’ve dealt with her parents. I need you back with me when I take care of this.”

“I’ll be back,” Kevin promised without looking away from her piercing gaze. He knew she was testing him. “You don’t need a murderer around you right now. You’ll be able to keep Blake and Eager in line without me. I doubt you’ll need me to send your demon out. I have to stop by my house and get cleaned up before I go. You have my cell number. Call me when this blows over.”

“Where can you go? You…”

“I have an Aunt in Cleveland. I’ll stay there. In fact I’ll phone you with her number.”

“Okay,” Grable replied, still stroking the knife. She looked up at McGraff finally. “Don’t forget about me, Kevin. I have a long reach.”

“Believe me, June, I know what’ll happen if I don’t stay in touch.”

Having said that, McGraff turned and walked from the doorway, needing all the willpower he could summon to keep from breaking into a run. He breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the door close behind him. Only after closing the driver’s side door of his car with him safely inside did McGraff glance at Grable’s house. Not seeing her on the porch, McGraff sped off, his hands gripping the steering wheel in a death grip.

* * * *

Logan saw McGraff’s car pull up in front of Storm’s house as he parked his Ponitac across the street. Kevin saw him and waited next to his car for Logan to cross the street. McGraff could see the barely concealed anger struggling across Logan’s scarred face. They had been friends for years, since they were kids. Now, McGraff knew he had been only moments from death earlier by his friend’s hand.

“Did you get it done?” Logan asked him coldly, stopping a few feet away.

“She believed Storm’s ruse. June could sense it was her blood on the knife. She filled in the blanks without my help. I…I’m sorry about all this, Logan.”

“It’s a little late for that now, Kev. Tracy really liked you. You’ve known her almost as long as we’ve known each other.”

“I’m not doing this because I’m afraid, Logan. This is the first time since I got into this mess I had a way out. You killing me would have been a blessing. If that thing takes me, it won’t stop with ripping me apart. It’ll suck my soul out.”

“I saw what it did in the park,” Logan admitted more quietly. “We consecrated the ground under the tree where you and Grable carved the marks. Those… those girls were released. I saw it happen. Their souls were freed.”

“Thank God!” For the first time, Kevin felt hope. “I talked them into it. Watching them die like they did… it killed something in me, Logan. It made me…”

“Leave it be for now,” Logan said, walking toward the house. “Let’s go inside. I have to get Storm into school so we can get this show on the road. Don’t even step outside, Kev. Once Grable sees Storm and the shock wears off, only her protection spell will keep you from ending up like those others.”

“Do you really think she can get rid of that devil?”

“From what I’ve seen, she’s the only one who can,” Logan replied, as they continued on into the house. “For your sake, you better pray she can.”

* * * *

“Hey, how do you feel?” Logan asked as he and Storm walked out to his Pontiac.

“I’m alive,” Storm replied wearily. “I thought I slept enough last night. Wrong. How come you can sleep on my porch and look like you slept in paradise?”

“I was thinking of you,” Logan glanced over with a smile.

“It’s that soldier thing, huh?”

“If you mean have I slept in worse places, the answer would have to be yes. I woke Father Daniels up. I told him the truth about last night. He found all the stuff you wanted and went through the whole ceremony without even questioning me. He heard about the bodies they found in Perkins Park. If you want his help in person, I’d bet he’d come.”

“We have a long way to go before midnight,” Storm replied, taking Logan’s hand and bringing it up to her lips. “I thought about you. Did you think about me while you were gone?”

“I haven’t thought of much else,” Logan admitted, opening the passenger side door for her. “What’s your plan once we get into school?”

“Go on like it’s just another day at high school,” Storm said. “She’ll be consolidating what she thinks was a win. Grable will be waiting for the police to run around asking useless questions about my death. Kevin said she’s planning on putting a scare into Ms. Blake and the Eager girl. Do you know Carmela?”

“Not really, but she’s in Grable’s English class with Chris and Nancy,” Logan answered after sliding into the driver’s seat and starting the car. “I’ve never taken an art class at Harding, so I don’t know much about Ms. Blake either.”

“Maybe we’ll have a chance to sidetrack them away from this before Grable gets to them this morning.” Storm’s cell-phone vibrated suddenly in her hand.

“I thought of you too, Wendy,” Janet snickered over the phone after Storm answered it. “Forgot you were wired again, did you?”

“You…are…so…annoying!” Storm spit out each word with emphasis as Logan laughed. He figured the reason for the call and Storm’s reaction.

“Archibald says good thinking on our loose ends. I’m on my way to the Honda as we speak to round them up after I have a chat with the Principal. Unless she does a round robin to their houses before school, I’ll get to the two of them before she does.”

“Good, if nothing else, you can take them out of the game,” Storm replied seriously. “If they don’t react to their chance to get out of this as Kevin did, at least I won’t have to be watching for them over my shoulder. The Goth’s got skills. She’ll send her trolls after me once she sees I’m still alive.”

“Not today, Wendy,” Janet retorted. “You and the Jarhead stay out of the broom closets too. Picture me pointing my fingers at my eyes and then at you. I’ll be…”

“Bite me, Scully!” Storm cut her off, and hung up.

Tracy, Chris, Nancy, and Carol were waiting for Logan and Storm near the high school entrance. The group’s solemn faces made it clear after the past night’s encounter with Grable they knew being Storm’s allies could mean their lives, or worse, their souls. Without any preamble, Storm related the events concerning Kevin. She explained her plan was to throw Grable off balance.

“We have her for first period,” Chris said. “Should we skip class today? You, Tracy, and Logan don’t have to attend her class. The rest of us will be in an on going horror show.”

“I can’t tell you what to do, Chris,” Storm replied sympathetically. “The woman FBI agent you met will be here to talk with Principal Spelling and keep an eye on the Goth. If you’re too freaked out, don’t go. After last night, I’m not going to tell you there’s no danger. You all know better than that.”

“It would help screw with her mind though,” Carol put in. “I’m going.”

“I’m in,” Nancy added. “We’ll catch up to you in Chemistry, and let you know if she has happy feet in anticipation of taking us out since she thinks you’re dead.”

“Yeah, when do you plan on raining on her parade, Willow?” Chris asked, grinning at Storm’s immediate frown at her Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference.

“It will only take me a minute to get out of Physics class,” Storm answered. “Instead of hooking up in Chemistry, I’ll head right over for a meet outside Grable’s classroom. Then I’ll pop in on her and say hi.”

“No way I miss that,” Tracy spoke for the first time. “I’m coming along. If the three of us sit in the back of Powanda’s class today, we can get out fast.”

“Okay then, I’m in,” Chris agreed. “The Goth will come unglued.”

“That’s the plan,” Storm said. “After school, we all need to lay low until I nail her familiar. Without that thing backing her play, we’ll have the upper hand.”

“Don’t spoil our surprise,” Logan added, speaking to the three girls in Grable’s class. “Grable will be stunned the three of you came to class. Pretend like it’s just another day.”

“I doubt we’ll pull that off,” Chris muttered. “So what happens to Kevin now?”

“That’s up to the FBI,” Storm answered. “I’m not sure there’s a lot of physical evidence linking him with the killings but he’s definitely an accomplice. I doubt whether the two agents working with us know for sure what will happen to Kevin.”

“We better go inside,” Logan advised, looking at his watch.

* * * *

Janet entered Harding High School via one of the side entrances. She made her way quickly to Principal Spelling’s office. After exchanging pleasantries with the office secretary, Janet asked to see Spelling. The secretary picked up her phone and rang in Spelling’s office. After a moment Spelling answered. Hearing who waited for him in the office, Spelling came to his door and gestured smilingly for Janet to come in. She stopped Spelling from propping the door open.

“We need to talk in private,” Janet advised.

Spelling nodded and closed his door.

“Come in, and sit down, Ms. Crandall,” Spelling said, pulling out a chair in front of his desk for Janet to sit down on. “How can I help you?”

“My real name is Janet Dixon,” Janet explained, showing Spelling her identification. “I’m with the FBI’s special crimes unit. My partner and I are here investigating the killings in Perkins Park.”

“So, your daughter… I mean the girl posing as your daughter is an agent too?” Spelling asked in confusion.

“No, she’s a student from Columbus, who agreed to help us with her parents’ consent,” Janet replied, telling half the truth. “She’s been instrumental in getting us this far. We have a solid lead to one of your teachers as the ring leader of a cult, involving students and faculty.”

“Oh my God…” Spelling muttered, stumbling around his desk and sitting down, while Janet took a seat in front of him. “Wha…what do you want me to do?”

“Nothing,” Janet stated. “I need to shadow June Grable and make sure she doesn’t cause anymore trouble in school while we complete our investigation. Also, I need you to call in Cynthia Blake, the Meyers twins, and Carmela Eager without any announcements. If you could send one of your assistants out to bring them to the office I’d appreciate it. Above all, I don’t want Grable tipped off. My partner will be here shortly to pick them all up. They will be held incommunicado until further notice.”

“I…I can’t believe this. Is it safe to even allow Ms. Grable to be in the same classroom with the other kids? Why take a chance on her doing harm?”

“It’s not as easy as it seems,” Janet replied. “We are in the evidence gathering stage at this time. I’ll be watching her. I need a letter of permission signed by you. If I do have a run in with someone around here, I’ll be able to show them your letter, allowing me to be in the school. Blake and Eager will be taken to a place of safety.”

“They have rights,” Spelling reminded her. “If they don’t want to go with you, what then?”

“Oh, they’ll be most cooperative,” Janet told him without hesitation. “You’ll see. Gather them one at a time so they don’t get a look at each other before getting in here. The twins can be brought in together.”

“I’ll send my assistant after Carmela right now, then Ms. Blake later, and finally the Meyers twins.” Spelling picked up the phone and outlined to his secretary what he wanted done.


raine said...

I'm imagining them asking the priest for the wax to make an effigy, lol.
Like the trick with the knife. and the way you give each character a fair part. Well done.

BernardL said...

Thank you, Raine, I appreciate your comments. I'm glad it's still holding your interest.