Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fiction Friday - Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences: The Curse of the Gorilla's Paw

It's another Friday and I'm back with another short story, this one a sequel to the one I posted last week about occult investigators Biggs and Wedge. The first story, by the way, can be found here. I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing with this, if I'm making it a series of short stories, or maybe something larger with an overarching storyline, or eventually even a longer story... right now, I'm just enjoying writing again. So read it and hopefully enjoy it; hit me up with some feedback if you can, I'd love to know what you guys think.

Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences:
The Curse of the Gorilla’s Paw

“That’s definitely a monkey’s paw.”
            “Technically, it’s a gorilla’s paw, Biggsy,” my partner, Wedge, corrected me. In answer to my questioning stare, he shrugged. “What? I watch National Geographic sometimes.”
            I stared at him for a second longer. “Fine. It’s a gorilla’s paw. Now that that’s out of the way, what do we do with it?” I’d seen a lot of weird, supernatural stuff in my time as a medium, but an actual monkey’s… excuse me, gorilla’s… paw? A fictional classic like that was new to me. Who am I? Henry Biggs, one half of Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences. Aldredge “Wedge” Thompson, my aforementioned partner, is the other half. But maybe I should start the story a little earlier than this…

* * * * *
            “So there we were, at Skywalker Ranch…” Wedge was saying to a group of young coeds at the bar. I drifted away, not interested in hearing a story I lived through for the millionth time, and walked to my usual corner booth in the bar we owned, The Haunted Hops. Wedge was halfway in the bag already, definitely drunk enough to not realize those girls were all too young for him, and I was working up a good buzz myself. For once, though, we weren’t drinking to run away from the shit we saw in our jobs.
            Business had been slow for weeks now, which, after the drowned baby fiasco, was a break we definitely needed. And I didn’t mind not having the money from the cases coming in, because the bar kept us more than comfortable.
            I sat down in the booth, took a long sip of my beer and leaned my head back, closing my eyes to enjoy the relative peace… so naturally it was all of about three seconds before that peace was disturbed.
            “I can feel you staring at me,” I said as I opened my eyes and looked at the diminutive form of Alexa Fogel, the fresh-out-of-college business major we hired to run the Hops since we were always too busy with the other business or otherwise just too lazy and/or drunk to be bothered. Since then, she had also become a sort of unofficial administrative assistant for the occult business as well. “Is interrupting me when I’m actually relaxing something you do on your own, or did Wedge put it in your job description when I wasn’t looking?”
            “Just something I do to keep myself entertained,” Lexy answered with a smile so charming and disarming it had me trying very hard to fight down feelings I’d been repressing since the moment we hired her. “Listen,” she said, “there’s gentleman here who’d like to hire you two, he’s over at the bar,” she inclined her head towards the bar so I could tell who she was talking about. “His name is Ryan Jenkins. He says he’s being haunted.”
            I leaned out of the booth a bit to size Mr. Ryan Jenkins up a bit. He definitely had the look of someone who was haunted; disheveled, twitchy, bags under the eyes. Something felt off, though. Sighing, I chugged the rest of my beer. “Alright, I’ll go talk to him,” I said, standing up, which made me a good foot taller than Lexy.
            “Should I go tell Wedge and have him join you?”
            We both looked over to where he was, seeing him standing on a bar stool and gesticulating wildly, clearly up to the good part of the Skywalker Ranch story. “Nah, he wouldn’t be very helpful right now,” I answered with a laugh. “Thanks, Lexy.” I heard her say “you’re welcome, boss,” as I walked away.
            As I got to where Jenkins was seated at the bar, I reached out with the spiritual sixth sense that made me a medium… and what I felt confused the hell out of me. I wasn’t expecting much, of course; if he was being haunted, the spirit wouldn’t be with him, after all, but would be centered in his somewhere, in all likelihood. Still, there would have been some residual feeling coming off him. And there was something there, but it didn’t feel like a spirit haunting. I decided to get his side of the story. “So I hear you’re being haunted, Mr. Jenkins” I said without preamble as I sat at the bar next to him.
            “Y-y-yes, I am,” he stammered as he overcame his surprise at my sudden appearance.
            “Why do you think that?”
            “These terrible things keep happening to me.”
            Well, that was vague. “Such as…?”
            He went on to relate a list of things. Dishes breaking when he touched them. Heavy objects slipping out of his hands onto his feet. An ATM ate his debit card. He almost got his by a car… twice. It sounded like too many things to be coincidental, but it didn’t exactly add up to a haunting, either. “Have you seen anything? A ghost, or floating objects, or anything weird like that?” He shook his head. I wanted to tell him it sounded like he was just clumsy, but I stopped myself. I did feel something coming off him, so it wasn’t just that. “If I’m honest with you, it doesn’t sound like a haunting. If anything, it sounds like maybe someone might have laid a curse on you.”
            “A curse?” He sounded positively aghast. “Who would do such a thing?”
            “That’s what I was going to ask you. Do you have any enemies, or have you maybe pissed someone off lately?”
            He looked down at the bar sheepishly. “Well, umm, my girlfriend… ex-girlfriend, I guess… walked in on me with another woman, and, well, she said I’d be sorry.”
            Well now. That was a puzzle piece right there. Maybe she found something to curse him with.
            “Oh!” he added, as if something just popped into his head out of nowhere. “Two days later I found this monkey’s paw in my mailbox.”
            I stared at him, not at all comprehending how he didn’t think to lead with that little bit of information. “Lexy,” I shouted suddenly over my shoulder, knowing she’d somehow hear me like she always did, “put some coffee on! We need to sober Wedge up!”

* * * * *
            And that pretty much brings us current. I quoted Jenkins our usual curse-breaking price… plus five hundred extra for being a moron… before getting his house keys and telling him to go spend the night in a hotel. We sobered Wedge up, more or less, and now here I was with him, sitting around the kitchen table staring at a gorilla’s paw after Wedge had gotten it down from the shelf Jenkins had put it on because he thought it would be a conversation starter when he had guests.
            Screw the extra five hundred. The “moron fee” is going up to a thousand.
            “Curse-breaking is such a pain in the ass,” Wedge complained, a hand on his forehead due to what I could only imagine was a murderous headache. “It’s too bad we can’t just break it the easy, old-fashioned way.”
            I laughed. “I know, it’s too bad the occult investigator’s license doesn’t come with a license to kill, Double-oh-seven.” The easiest, most surefire way to break a curse was to the death of the person who cast it. “Maybe one day, Wedge.”
            “We can only hope,” he sighed. He always got a little sad when a job didn’t involve any violence at all. That was, after all, his role in the business.
            “At least it’s only a cursed object,” I said to make him feel better. “Much easier than if she actually got a curse placed on him directly. I’ll just grab this, feel out the curse, break it, and we’ll be on our way back to the Hops.” I reached out to grab the gorilla’s paw, and as I made contact, my body recoiled like it had been electrocuted.
            Cursed objects don’t really have any feeling to them, or at least not an emotional one. There’s some malevolence, maybe a sense of foreboding, but that’s it. But when I touched the paw, it was like being blinded by primal anger and rage and violence. It was so overwhelming it took every ounce of willpower just to make myself drop it, letting it fall to the floor. Even breaking the connection was so powerful I almost fell off the chair. If Wedge hadn’t caught me with a steadying arm, I very well might have.
            “What the hell was that, Biggsy?” Without even thinking about it, he kicked the gorilla’s paw into the corner of the room.
            “Whatever it was,” I said when I had finally caught my breath enough to talk, “that thing isn’t cursed. It’s possessed.”
            “His ex sent him a possessed gorilla’s paw? Talk about a chick you do not want to piss off. So, what, summoning and banishing?” I nodded, and Wedge grinned. He’d get to stab something, at least. “I’ll get the stuff out of the truck.”
            I collected myself in the time it took Wedge to go to the truck, get what we needed, and come back. I took the can of chicken blood he handed me… we had taken to killing chickens and bottling the blood in our downtime so we wouldn’t have to do it on the spot… and the paintbrush and carefully began the double pentagram, setting it up in the center of the living room. One pentagram was needed to summon the spirit, which, in this case, was clearly a poltergeist from all the rage I felt when I touched the paw; and the other pentagram was used to hold the spirit in place so Wedge could use his sword or dagger, each anointed in the blood of the innocent, to banish it. As I formed the pentagrams, he made himself comfortable on the couch, rubbing his two blades together slowly, testing their sharpness. His mood had lightened considerably now that there was violence at hand, his hangover headache all but forgotten. My mood, on the other hand, had sourced; I was not looking forward to having to feel out the spirit attached to what I felt in that paw.
            When the double pentagram was finished, I sat in the center of it. “Alright, get the paw and drop it in front of me, and get ready.” Wedge did what I asked, putting the paw directly in front of me and then stood to my left, just outside the pentagram’s boundary, the long sword in his right hand and the dagger in his left. I took a deep breath to steady myself, and then reached out with my senses, contacting the rage and anger I felt in the paw.
            Almost immediately, I heard what sounded like Wedge’s dagger hit the floor and he muttered, “Holy shit.” I opened my eyes to see what he saw…
            And towering over me in the center of the pentagram was a large silverback gorilla.
            “You made a silverback!” Wedge yelled. “Undo it! Undo it!”
            “Banish it!” I screamed in response.
            Remembering himself, Wedge lunged with the long sword, aiming straight for the silverback’s heart… and it reached out with a mighty paw and smacked him away before the sword could get there, knocking him across the room with a mighty roar.
            Seeing that kicked my survival instincts into high gear and I backpedaled out of the pentagram. It only took a second to notice the wet feeling on my hand. Looking down, I saw it was smeared with blood.
            I had broken the larger pentagram, the one that binds the spirit in place.
            And now a very large, very angry silverback gorilla poltergeist that was beating its fists against its chest angrily was free to chase me.
            I scrabbled to my knees and then up to my feet, grabbing Wedge’s fallen dagger as I did, and then started to run, making it three steps before a paw almost as large as my head wrapped around my neck and lifted me off my feet. With another growl, it barreled over to the wall, slamming me up against it, still holding me up. It brought its face close to mine and roared, fetid breath overwhelming my senses as spittle splashed against my cheeks. The silverback snapped its jaws closed millimeters from my face and then pulled its head back to enjoy my fear.
            I promptly embedded the dagger hilt-deep into its eye.
            Getting stabbed with that blade should have banished it like every other spirit it had ever been stuck into. I don’t know if it was because of the gorilla’s size, or how full of rage it was, or if it was just because it was the poltergeist of a frigging gorilla, but as it dropped me to the floor, it roared a roar that was clearly more anger than it was pain. I tried to crawl away from it, but it recovered quickly and kicked me in the ribs hard, lifting me a few feet in the air before I crashed back down, no breath left in my body
            “Biggsy! Here!” Wedge had managed to pull himself towards up a bit from where he had landed across the room in a heap, and he now slid the long sword across the floor to me. I reached for the hilt and grabbed it as I looked up and saw the silverback’s foot raised, poised to crash down upon my head. Saying a prayer to whatever deity might be listening in this crazy new world we lived in, I thrust the long sword straight up, into the poltergeist’s crotch, and kept pushing until the hilt hit flesh… flesh that finally disappeared as the anointed blade finally did its job and banished the beast.
            The sword clattered to the floor as I rolled onto my back, catching my breath. “You all right, Wedge?” I asked when I was finally able.
            “Yeah,” he called back hoarsely as I had him pull himself up to a sitting position. “You?”
            “Been better,” I answered as I finally sat up, facing him as we were both slumped against opposite walls.
            “Gorilla ghosts,” he said with a forced laugh. “Never heard of that one before.”
            “I could have gone my whole life without hearing that one.”
            “I need a beer. How about you, Biggsy?” He pulled himself up to his feet and then walked over to help me up.
            “I need a whole case. And some painkillers,” I answered as he pulled me up. He gathered up the sword and dagger. My body ached in places I didn’t even know I had places.
            Screw the thousand dollar “moron fee” for Ryan Jenkins, I thought to myself.
            An extra twenty-five hundred sounded much better.


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