Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Coffin Hop 2014 Stephanie's Story Part Three

Stephanie sat on a stool in her grandfather’s basement; a potions book opened and propped up for her to read by the flickering candlelight as she ground her third dram of moonstone, reducing it to a fine powder to be mixed with the bubbling broth of concentrated nightshade and valerian root. Together, once these three reagents formed a juice that smelled of roses, she would add a single dram of Moon Children nectar. She would then extract several syringes worth of it and inject herself with two, then inject Cloud with two.

A tad extreme, to be certain, but if she were ever to gain his love the way she wanted she realized the carnal delights they’d been partaking in for the past two years may not be enough. No, to truly bind him to her she would have to enslave his mind as well as his body. This love potion amplified positive feelings while also allowing certain, ahem, anatomical changes that would make each person more desirable to the other. The nectar, when mixed with powdered moonstone, had the opposite effect it’s youth attaining properties.
Smiling as the faint floral scent of roses reached her nose, she picked up the syringe with a dram of nectar, pushing the plunger to add the substance to the brew slowly. Soon, she and Cloud would have the bodies of adults just over the age of twenty-two to twenty-four. This was perfect as, mentally, Stephanie reflected that she was most likely celebrating her eightieth birthday this year, and while she was wise enough to know that with age comes wisdom, she also knew what folly age could wreak on the body. Her grandfather had perfected the Moon Children serum when he was in his sixties, back before the land was united under one flag.
A mortician and chemist, her grandfather had opened this graveyard and mortuary with a silent partner, where they both experimented with things that were considered taboo, even by today’s standards. Her grandfather designed the entire graveyard as a series of traps for people he could lure in and derive their vital essences from, killing them in the process. Through thirteen tortured souls, he crafted his first Moon Children seed, and planted it near the front of the graveyard, to bloom beneath the stars and moon as it drained the life from those that died on the property.
Stephanie smiled as she tapped out the last few drops of nectar into the cauldron, stirring with a metal ladle clockwise once every three seconds for the next three minutes. According to her grandfather’s notes, this serum would be much more potent than the serum used on them already on a near decade basis, though it would cause aches and pains for weeks to come as those affected felt their bodies grow and age to a certain degree, before locking in at that age forever. Scars would fade, wounds would heal over a matter of minutes… the body would be made whole once more, even if injured.
Sadly, her grandfather and grandmother (who required yearly injections of the standard serum) were too old for the modified version. It would kill them within minutes of it being pumped into their veins, the juiced up nectar too potent for their frail bodies to handle. Smiling slightly, she heaved a sigh and continued stirring.
Her grandfather was getting too old to keep running everything around the graveyard. He kept the finances to himself, in his private study, but Stephanie knew that the business of handling bodies was by and large a needed trade. Stephanie knew how to prepare a body for burial, and they had routinely pulled up older bodies for the Lurkers to eat, in order to make room for a “new arrival”. Her grandfather was too soft on how things were run around the graveyard though, allowing the Lurkers free reign after dark. Her cat had escaped their clumsy attempts at eating him numerous times, climbing a tree to avoid their sticky hands.
Reaching out with her senses to find her wayward familiar, she frowned as he was in a state of terror. Not anxiety from being chased, but terror for his life! Continuing to stir, she closed her eyes to try and see through his. What she got was confusing…
Two separate images came to view, blurring together, of blood pooling beneath the cat as it was being held by something. She couldn’t hear chewing so nothing was eating her precious familiar, but something was hurting it. Opening her eyes she finished stirring and pulled the ladle out.
Before she could move to do anything else, she felt the threads of fate connecting her to her feline familiar sever, a sharp thrust of needles behind her eyes telling her one fell swoop, her companion had died. Dropping the ladle and falling from her stool, she shrieked as she clutched at her bleeding eyes, scratching at them to relieve the pressure and pain of the loss of her beloved companion. For minutes, she squeezed and pressed, pushing the blood out from behind her eyes like lancing a boil. She regained sight after five minutes and the ability to stand, albeit woozily, after another ten.
“Damn whoever did this!” She cursed, kicking away the stool. She grabbed a section of cloth to wipe away the drying blood around her eyes. “That cat took me years to raise! And even longer to bond with! Without it, I can’t cast half of my repertoire of spells!”
Batting at her eyes, she stomped about the basement, cursing her luck and misfortune while prattling on about what she would do to the person that killed her cat. She finally calmed down enough to realize that, should she be able to find her pet, she should be able to revive it using a dose of the serum. Grandfather wouldn’t approve, but she hardly cared what the old dodder thought anymore. Each day he was growing weaker, while she was growing stronger! All she had to do was wait for him to die, or perhaps have an “accident” and she’d take over the whole graveyard!
“The first thing I’ll do is slice dear grandmothers neck!” Stephanie growled, filling syringes full of her fortified serum. Once she’d filled ten, she slid them into a roll out leather pack, before tucking it into the back pocket of her jeans.
Stomping up the steps to the main section of the house, she walked into the kitchen to the sight and sound of a tea kettle boiling over. Grabbing it quickly, she moved it off the burner before turning it off while looking around. Surely someone would have heard that, if not her screaming?
“Hello?” She called out, walking into the den. “Grandpa? Grandma? Where are you?”
She stopped as she heard a wet splat, causing her to look down at the puddle of blood she’d just stepped into. Looking up she could see it dripping from the ceiling, seeping through the plaster and wood down here.
“What in the hell?” She said, staring up so intently she didn’t notice her company until it was too late.
Slammed in the stomach, she skidded back a few feet with a grimace before growling and looking up. A man, a tall broad-shouldered man with dark eyes and a smooth head, stood there, his blood-stained hands spread wide as if he were expecting a hug. His turtleneck sweater, a rich black, shimmered with a silvery sheen from the glow of the fireplace.
“Who the fuck are you?” Stephanie demanded, gathering up what magical reserves she had access to.
“A simple musician my darling,” the man said, bowing deep and low before rising fluidly. “But one on a mission. The first of which was to purge you and your family from dishonoring the Moon Children in the way you have.”
That caught Stephanie’s attention. She smirked, “so you know the potential the Moon Child flower has? Well, they’re ours! You can’t have any!”
“You misunderstand child, and I use that term loosely with you if the age of your eyes is any indication of your real age. I approve of their use by mortals, but only mortals who have proven themselves worthy of such a gift. Guardians of the dead do indeed deserve an aid to perform their service, so the Moon Child is a fitting plant to see here.”
“So you don’t want them?”
“No, my dear, what I want is you. You who have abused what tricks and treats you’ve been able to manage after injecting yourself with the magical serum,” the man smiled, causing Stephanie to recoil a bit. His teeth were sharp, and very bloody, as if he were a Lurker who had just taken a bite out of someone. “Your family, from what I can tell, lures the young here to their demise and allows the youth to spill into the flowers, creating swollen pods of nectar from which you can harvest.”
“What of it?” Stephanie demanded a spell crackling at the edge of her fingertips, the words dancing on the end of her tongue.
“What of it? Well, for starters, I’ve killed the two older members of your family after speaking with a young man out on a moonlit stroll. He’s been handled quite thoroughly, though you would know more about that then I would.”
“You hurt Cloud? I’ll kill you!” Stephanie shrieked, cupping her hands together and unleashing a crackling green torrent of electricity into the chest of the man, a solid hit that sent him flying, smoke and smoldering sweater falling after him as he crashed into a china cabinet, crumpling to the floor as dishes fell over him, shattering and smashing atop him.
Stephanie was breathing hard from the exertion of releasing that much energy at once, especially without her familiar to anchor the magics… still, the job was done. Though it may have been premature, her grandfather and grandmother were probably dead. Smiling as she gasped for breath, she thought of the riches that would be reaped after tonight.
Her thoughts were silenced when a hand clasped her through, the arm coming from behind her, clutching her trachea as if it were the handle to a knife. Twisting her around and hefting her into the air, the man stood unscathed, save for a hole in the chest of his shirt, where pale, creamy muscles were already knitting back together, no blood in sight.
Reaching her hands up to grapple with his wrist, she kicked weakly as he choked her enough to cause lightheadedness. Looking down at him, her eyes widened when she found him looking at the leather parcel holding her syringes. He looked back up at her.
“This is a much more potent mixture of Moon Child nectar than I’ve ever seen. Why, an injection might even do me some good. But no, this evening isn’t about me. It’s about love.” The creature said, squeezing her neck once to get her claws out of his skin. “I’m not from America, you see, but if I recall the proper way to kill a witch was by burning, am I correct in that assumption?”
Stephanie gurgled in response, punching at his immovable arm as he held her aloft. Eye bulging as he grabbed her by the shoulder, he spun her around unceremoniously and gripped the back of her neck, before lunging forward and pushing her upper body into the fireplace, the logs crackling merrily with hearty flames.
Flames which were now charring Stephanie, burning into her skin and causing immeasurable pain as she breathing in the searing air and smoke. She could feel her skin bubble, her hair sizzle and pop, her eyes bulge as the fluids within began to boil. Her teeth chattered as her lips fell away, her gums blackening from the heat. Her bare muscle was exposed now, slowly tanning due to the crackling flames, crinkling and drying out as the muscles became brittle until finally, her head went up in flames itself.
He pulled her out, holding her still by the scruff of the neck before dropping her to the ground onto the carpet. Crawling slowly, she scraped and patted at her skull, smearing away sheathes of skin and flesh off of her steaming bone, glistening from the boiling blood that had just been coursing over it. Gasping for breath as she crawled feebly away from the man, she looked around the room for any kind of weapon she could use, her swollen eyes making her vision strained.
A hand wrapped around her ankle, dragging her back to him.
“Oh no. We have so many delights to try tonight, and with the serum in your blood, death will not come knocking for quite some time. I had to sever your grandparents’ heads, chewing through the softened bone and grey matter as they struggled and screamed. Even headless, their hearts beat feebly, though I doubt for much longer.”
“You’ll…kkk…never…kk… win…kkk. K-k-Cloud will… kkk… save me.” She rasped, her throat mere ribbons of cooked meat now, her vocal chords barely intact from the roasting she’d received.
“We shall see. But first, let us see the limits to which the Moon Child will heal those that have imbibed the nectar like you have. After all, we have all night…”

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