Copyright (c) 2017 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Joanie Otter knew something unusual was happening even before she showered in ice cold water, and started applying Lime Crime black lipstick. All three of the moon glow junipers outside her upstairs window were whispering together. The two-inch long crystal she wore on a silver chain around her neck was putting off strange pulsations almost as if creatures that weren’t supposed to were trying to communicate with her.
Joanie rolled her eyes and spit the F word three times when she saw the cerise Gucci pants and matching blouse her mother had placed on the cabinet next to the sink; they must have cost a fortune. Joanie knocked them onto the wet floor and used them to wipe up the water, wishing she would have done it when her feet were still dirty. Her mother hated how she dressed in her senior year of high school, but even the mayor of Cloverdale’s daughter had to choreograph her own death. Joanie knew the truth: all living things on the planet were actually in the process of dying. Why try to deny it? She dropped the wet designer clothes in the toilet bowl and closed the lid. Maybe now “Mrs. Cleaver” and her LSD - Ladies for Student Development friends would take the hint.
Her mother was yelling again from downstairs about the time. Joanie put in a CD of Siouxsie and the Banshees and cranked up the volume on Passenger to earthquake levels to drown out the sound.
Even though she was on the thin side, Joanie struggled to get into short black denim pants so tight they looked painted on. Black garters supported black bell-bottom leggings exposing three inches of creamy white thigh. The black mesh-top sleeveless shirt with a satanic star woven with silver thread on the front barely covered her small breasts. Separate black sleeves went from her wrists to just past her elbows. She dried her straight shoulder length ebony hair with a towel and shook it out. Joanie could hear distant rumblings when she put on her crystal earrings and silver bracelets. It sounded like millions of tiny grinding teeth with thrashing legs were blowing up a storm. Better go easy on the pocket-niners. (Ecstasy-pills)
The nine-buckle boots, with two inch stomps, had a hidden zipper and were very tight but easy to put on. Joanie wanted to get to school early to blow doom crumbs with Bitch and Babybat. Two new kindergoths, Kent Lopez and Scotty Target, were scheduled to be tar-tongued (initiated into the coven) on Saturday night. They better each have a crystal soaked with virgin blood! The nineteenth was the only black wedding in April (first full moon). Joanie was feeling euphoric, excited and desperate.
Something uber-dangerous was coming to Cloverdale, Joanie could sense it, the crystal necklace she wore accentuated her perceptions, but she didn’t think it was Abra Cadaver the rival coven from Salt Lake City or Mortuary Frost the smaller one from Anaconda … although both groups had been extra threatening as of late and a territorial war was definitely coming.
Ham, Abra Cadaver’s reining Doom Queen, had sent Joanie a crushed black rose with a shredded stem inside a plastic bag filled with blood, urine and feces. Joanie sent Ham a huge rotting cucumber with a condom stretched over one end and a black post-it note attached that said stick it written with white chalk. The message was clear, the vicious Mormon-spawned bitch intended to eradicate Joanie’s coven and drown her in the Cottonmouth River or even worse in Cloverdale’s crumbling sewer system. The Cloverbone Coven was her responsibility. If Joanie didn’t destroy all enemies, things could get new sod ugly for the members … and for her fishy - wet and forever cold. And she was still plowing bones … (looking for answers).
Two new kindergoth might help. Joanie hated Ham and the Margaret Hamilton bicycle she always appeared riding after an impressive Mansonite bang of smoke. Big cities could bleed gallons more effects than the tiny. Abra Cadaver had almost thirty forks (boy members) and forty spoons (girl members). Joanie stumbled as she rushed down the stairs and almost fell.
Margaret Otter gasped. “Joanie, be careful!” Then she tried to hand her fleeing daughter a plate of scrambled eggs, toast and a glass of milk.
“I’m on a f#$%$#$ diet mother!” Joanie screamed as she ran through the kitchen. “Don’t be a smell that follows!”
“But you’re over five-foot seven … and you barely weigh a hundred and nine pounds!”
“I know that, mother! Don’t be a f#$%$%# doom cookie!” Joanie yelled as she slammed the front door hard enough to make screws pull out from the hinges.
The Federal Bureau of Land Management was charged with eradicating the two-hundred acre swarm of murderous bugs moving across south-western Montana. Local newspapers and nation television were calling it an Ant Farm. The governor had declared a state of emergency after the insects were blamed for at least nine deaths and a hundred million dollars in property damage. James M. Billman oversaw the loading of three air-tankers filled with two thousand gallons of concentrated Pyrethroids in Missoula airport. “As if range fires aren’t bad enough now we have ants crashing every picnic in the Big Sky state,” he grumbled as the planes took off.
Twenty minutes later all three pilots radioed that the poison had been successfully delivered. “Any chance of survivors?” Billman radioed back.
“Negative,” all three pilots declared. “If the poison itself didn’t kill them … they are surely drowned.”
No one was on the ground near the moving army of ants and didn’t see the millions of tiny holes they had dug deep into the earth just before the chemicals splashed down.
Kent Lopez was overjoyed with his new found powers. He paid Cloverdale’s local jeweler twenty bucks to mount the crystal and attach it to a silver chain. Just by holding the crystal in his hand and thinking about something, he was able to make it happen. “How about letting me wear the crystal for a while before we have to give it up,” Scotty Target suggested when they were gathering books out of their lockers for third hour geometry class. He was thinking about the Cloverbone initiation on Saturday night. “After all we both found it!”
Kent was annoyed with his friend’s persistent claims to something that was obviously his. The whole Goth thing was beginning to seem stupid and childish. “Not until I discover its secrets,” he said. Marsha Hicks happened to be walking down the hall alone. Kent thought she looked exceptionally fine in a short skirt and a tight Cashmere sweater. “Let’s see if those things you’re covering up are real or not,” Kent mouthed the words as he rubbed the crystal and stared. Marsha stopped suddenly and dropped the armload of books she was carrying. She lifted up her sweater with both hands exposing her bra-covered breasts while looking up and down the hallway with eyes like two vacant burned-out buildings. Suddenly she realized what she was doing, pulled the sweater back down, picked her books off the floor and ran down the crowded hallway amongst a chorus of hysterical laughter.
“Did you make her do that?” Scotty staring was in awe.
“Perhaps,” Kent said, “or maybe we just got lucky.” Kent smiled as he tucked the crystal back under his shirt. ‘It’s good to be king.”
Joanie wasn’t as surprised as she should have been when she opened her locker with a key and found a dead rat hanging from fishing line with a silver-fork stuck through its neck. Still she dropped her books. She had been expecting this. Ham’s powers were second to none. The word Cadaver was written on the back of the locker with red fingernail polish along with words Froth Moon. The dead rat meant it was a fight to the death and Ham and her coven would be waiting for them Saturday at midnight in Black Rose cemetery. Baby Bat came up behind her. “What’s wrong?”
“Everything,” Joanie told her. “We have a fight coming and we’re outnumbered.”
“Mortuary Frost?” Marsha smiled. “I think even with just eleven we can make them go soft.”
“Ham sent me a message.” Joanie opened her locker to show her best friend. “She wants me banned from the planet and Cloverbone scattered in the wind.”
Marsha let put a hushed shriek and stepped back when she saw the tortured animal. “How did she get in your locker?”
“Who knows,” Joanie said looking up and down the busy hallway. “Ham has spies everywhere.” She fingered the crystal hanging around her neck and glared at a pimple-faced sophomore stumbling past with an armload of books. “Naked, sex, boobs, look ….” Joanie chanted. Robert Maxwell stared straight ahead refusing to divert his eyes. “It could be him,” Joanie said. “Either that, or he’s scratching a different itch.”
“Maxwell is just afraid of spilling his milk,” Marsha snickered. “I heard him crying in confession and telling Father Walters that he’d looked at a Playboy while washing dishes at Spare-A-Dime.
Joanie wasn’t convinced. “A ribbon like that is easy for a grave-queen like Ham to control with her powers.”
“Speaking of power,” Marsha said. “You’re future Deathbats approach.
Kent Lopez and Scotty Target danced down the hallway as if they owned the school and everyone in it. Joanie felt the crystal around her neck vibrate and knew the pair possessed at least one of their own … and it was very powerful.
“Remember,” Joanie told Kent when he ambled up to her. “Your crystals have to be soaked in the blood of a virgin before Saturday night.”
“Just a prick of your finger … from either of you … should do the trick,” Marsha snickered.
“I haven’t been a virgin since I was twelve years old,” Kent boasted; Joanie knew he was lying. “And I think we have the blood thing covered.”
“We’re sharing a crystal because it’s extra-large,” Scotty blurted.
“I’ll decide whether you share a crystal or a pine box,” Joanie told him. “Let’s have a look.”
Kent reluctantly removed the crystal from his shirt casting sly glances up and down the hall to make sure no-one was looking.
Joanie and Marsha gasped when they saw the magnificent stone. “Where did you get that?” Marsha squealed.
“Let’s just say I was victorious over an army of thousands.” Kent smiled.
“We were victorious … and it was more than thousands,” Scotty added.
“Whatever,” Joanie couldn’t take her eyes off the stone. “Make sure to coat it with virginal blood, cut your own finger if you have to, but both of you be at Black Rose Cemetery by eleven on Saturday night.
“I thought a Black Wedding was always held at midnight,” Kent tucked the crystal back inside his shirt.
“There’s a Baking Contest scheduled in that time slot,” Marsha injected.
“We need two new Gravers to bring our Deathbats up to thirteen otherwise we fade by default … so we’ll push things up an hour!” Joanie tried to project a confidence that she didn’t feel
“What are you chicks baking?” Both girls could tell Scotty was serious.
“Ham,” Joanie told him. “Cloverbone is hopefully baking a big juicy ham.”
On Saturday morning, a gasoline delivery driver filling underground tanks at the Conoco station/convenience store just outside of Cloverdale called 911 in a panic. Sheriff Walker and two deputies responded fifteen minutes later. The last three days had been Hell for Montana law enforcement. It didn’t look like a robbery had taken place; all the money was still in the cash register and the only thing that appeared to be missing was a half-dozen 100 lb. sacks of sugar from the grocery section. The attendant, Charles Adams, who lived upstairs with his wife June was found in the garage part of the building. Someone or something had peeled every ounce of meat and gristle from his body and left his bloody skeleton hanging four feet off the ground from an air-powered lube hose. Sheriff Walker turned his head away respectfully as one of his deputies vomited. The sheriff went through the cash register receipts, Charlie hadn’t been to the bank in over a week, and the sheriff noticed a gas credit card receipt from three days earlier billed to Alfonzo Lopez and signed by his son Kent but thought nothing of it.
Presumably Mrs. Adams was found in the bathroom upstairs. Only a few teeth remained in the woman’s skull and the sheriff hoped these would lead to a positive identification. The bloody mass inside the still warm soapy water in the bathtub was unrecognizable.
Sheriff Walker stared at the thousands of lines trailing across the bloody floor in the garage and on the stairs coming from the living quarters. It looked as if someone with shaky hands had tried to clean up with a stiff bristle broom. Oddly, the lines ended at an old unused well behind the building. The sheriff put in a request to the FBI office in Butte to have a special confined-space repelling and diving team check it out but was informed it would be after the weekend before they could respond.
Sheriff Walker shook his head. It wasn’t even the end of April and with a dozen unexplained deaths in Comanche County was gearing up for the deadliest summer on record.
Joanie and the other ten members of Cloverbone assembled at Black Rose Cemetery an hour before Kent and Scotty were supposed to appear and two hours before the scheduled fight to the death with Abra Cadaver. Marsha (Baby Bat) had wanted to contact Hermie, the demon inside Joanie’s Ouija board, and ask the spirit for help but Joanie’s mother and her PTA LSD (Ladies for Student Development) friends had taken possession of the strange oracle a year before and refused to give it back. Joanie thought she knew why. Her mother had become mayor of Cloverdale and her friends had all prospered in commerce and romance since they started having weekly talks with the spirit in the basement of the Comanche County Library.
The old Negro woman the cemetery was named after was buried in the back with family members and the huge slab of granite that covered her resting place was one of the oldest stones in the graveyard. Marsha used the time waiting for Kent and Scotty to draw a crude copy of the Ouija board on the stone surface with white chalk. The Cloverbone members gathered around the stone and Marsha used a triangular block of wood for a Planchette. A deep rumbling sound and flashes of lightning made the sky look like a battleground. “We have to hurry before the rain washes away the chalk.” Marsha placed one finger on the pointer and Joanie and the nine others did the same. She made her voice low, respectful and as loud as possible with the rising wind.
“Are you here with us?” The pointer began to move dragging along all the fingers and stopped on YES.
“Will you help us in our fight with Ham?” The pointer moved again and stopped on NO.
A gust of wind lifted sand and gravel from the road and pelted their faces with the force of a tiny tornado. Joanie looked at her watch it was past eleven. Where was Kent and Scotty?
“Why will you not help us?” Marsha was almost hysterical. All the hands were shaking as the pointer took forever to move and stop on six letters: A F R A I D.
“What are you afraid of?” The pointer had barely begun to move when a blast of air knocked all the members to the ground. A ball of fire rose into the night sky and Ham appeared from a cloud of smoke riding a nineteen thirties bicycle. At least forty other members of Abra Cadaver appeared around the edges of the cemetery moving inward.
“You’re early!” Joanie gasped as the dark woman got off the bicycle and limped toward her. The bike stayed upright without a kickstand and Joanie could see the wheels were still turning.
“Life is short and I don’t have time to waste,” Ham hissed. What looked like blood was dripping from the corner of her mouth and Joanie noticed the tail of a rat sticking out from between rotted and jagged teeth.
“But we’re not ready!” Joanie’s voice sounded like a plea even to her own ears.
“No one is ever ready for death,” Ham whispered and then she smiled.
Kent and Tony sat inside Kent’s father’s car just down the street from the Bliss residence listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. “Damn it! Johnny was supposed to be grounded!” Both boys stared at their friends bicycle parked on the lawn of his girlfriend Sheryl’s house.
“His parents probably went out to a movie or something and Johnny decided to sneak off.” A flash of lightning showed the rubber mask Kent was examining in his hands. The grotesque features on the disguise looked like a dead person that had recently risen from a grave … even better when he put it on with a human-hair wig. Scotty was using a sandstone to sharpen the edge on a sixteen inch butcher knife. In the back seat was a video camera with sound and infrared capabilities.
“Are we really going to kill her?”
“Yes! We have to!” Kent dropped the mask in his lap and was rubbing the crystal. “We were always meant to kill Sheryl … only we didn’t have the power … now we do.”
“Cloverbone ain’t gonna like it when we show up at the cemetery late!”
“When we show up with the crystal, and Sheryl’s severed head, all will be forgiven.” Kent laughed. “I’ll do it slow … just make sure you film everything!”
Kent looked at his watch it was just before midnight. The door to the house opened and Johnny walked toward his bicycle. “Finally! I thought he was never going to leave her alone!”
The two watched their friend pedal down the street as they walked toward the garage. “You remember where the fuse box is?”
“Yes! On the back wall.”
After they cut the power to the house they watched as a single candle moved from room to room. Then Kent put on the mask and clutched the knife while Scotty held the camera and they tried the back door. It was unlocked … and they crept inside.
TO BE CONTINUED …