Fiction Friday - Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences: The First Case Part 1: A Medium's Tale
It's Friday again, so that means I have another short story for you. This is the fourth Friday in a row that I've had a story in this series ready, which is easily the most consecutive Fridays I've posted a story since I started this blog two years ago. I'm really enjoying this series and these characters. Admittedly, this installment is a little slower and more expostion-heavy than the first few parts, but it's an origin story, and only the first half of one at that, so what did you expect? You can find the last installment here; there's a link to the other chapters there as well. If you read it, leave me some feedback, please! If you don't, it's kind of like going to a play and not clapping when it's over!
Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences:
The First Case Part 1:
A Medium’s Tale
“This is definitely a bad idea.”
“It’s not a bad idea, boss,” Lexy answered, for what had to be the hundredth time. Alexa Fogel, fresh out of college, ran the Haunted Hops, the bar me and my partner Wedge owned, and was also an unofficial assistant for our occult business. Even though the bar made money hand over fist, she was always trying to find ways to drum business up even more. Chalk it up to youthful exuberance, I guess. This time, though, she had come up with a way that I was particularly against.
Whether she knew it or not, though, I’d go along with anything she asked me to.
“Listen, Hank,” she said as she reached up to adjust the black-and-blue striped tie she was making me wear as we stood in my office in the bar’s basement. She was one of the few people in the world who called me by my first name instead of just calling me “Biggs” or “Biggsy.” “Weekly World Now magazine is a big deal. Millions of people across the country read it. This interview is great exposure for the bar and for the occult stuff too. And exposure means business, and business means money. You like money, don’t you,” she asked slyly, looking up at me under lowered eyebrows as I towered a foot over her.
“Not as much as I like peace and quiet,” I answered grumpily, but again, I’d do anything for her… anything short of actually telling her that, that is.
She finished adjusting my tie, smoothed down the front of the black suit jacket I wore maybe once a year, and stepped back to look at me. “There we go. You look great, Hank,” she said. Then she wagged her finger at me and grinned. “Now, stop being a grump. I’m going to go upstairs and send the reporter down. Just be yourself, you’ll be fine!” Standing on her tiptoes, she leaned towards me and kissed my cheek, and then turned on her heels and walked out.
I watched her walk away, going over in my head all the reasons why I could never act on what I felt for her. Shaking my head, I walked behind my desk and sat down, opening the bottom draw to take out the bottle of Glenfiddich 1937 I kept there. Easily one of the best… and most expensive… scotches in the world, this bottle had been a gift from a very wealthy client and I had been holding onto it for a few years now, only having a shot of it for very, very special occasions. I figured the hell this interview would probably be would qualify, so I opened the bottle and took a large gulp before sealing it up in the desk again as I heard the reporter coming down the stairs.
She walked into my office with a big smile on her face, looking young enough to make me wonder if the magazine had just sent in intern instead of a real reporter. “Mr. Biggs, hello! My name is Melissa Adaire, from Weekly World Now. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this.”
“You’re welcome,” I tried to sound as friendly as possible, if only for Lexy’s sake. I gestured to the chair in front of the desk and as she took a seat, I asked, “So, where would you like to begin?”
“I can’t help but notice the rather large replica of the Millennium Falcon that hangs from the ceiling upstairs,” she said as she took out her tape recorder and pressed record. “Why don’t we start with the infamously mysterious time you and your partner visited Skywalker Ranch?”
“No can do.” I shook my head. “We signed about eight different legally binding, ironclad nondisclosure agreements over what happened there. All I can tell you is that the Falcon up there is one of the gifts we received from a very grateful client in that case.”
She laughed. “I didn’t think I’d get anywhere with that, but it was worth a try. Why don’t we start with you, then? You’re a medium, correct? Tell our readers briefly what a medium is, for any who might not know.”
“Okay. A medium is basically anyone who can communicate with spirits, usually through senses and feelings, but sometimes through more direct means, like just talking.”
“And how did you find out you were a medium?”
I sighed slightly. I didn’t enjoy telling this story, but I had promised Lexy. “My grandmother died when I was seven. Shortly after that, whenever I picked up my toy phone, I would hear her talking to me. I told my parents about it, they just thought I missed my grandma and had made her my imaginary friend, you know? But after awhile, they would overhear me talking about things that had happened before I was born that I couldn’t know about, things that she told me on the phone. Understandably, it freaked them the hell out. When I saw how much it bothered them, I told my grandmother I couldn’t talk to her anymore, and I never heard her voice on the phone again.”
She tilted her head. “You mean you were able to, um, banish her that easily at such a young age?”
“I didn’t say I banished her,” I snapped slightly, “just that I never heard her voice again. I was seven. I had no idea about mediums or spirits or banishings yet. I was just a little boy talking to his grandmother, and when it got scary and I asked her to stop, she did. Probably just because she loved me, I guess. When I did learn all about banishings and everything, I did go home and release her,” I added softly.
“Okay,” she said. “So how did you go from there into becoming a full-fledged medium?”
“I grew up. My grandmother was the only spirit I ever talked to, but as I grew I could feel them all around us. It scared me, but after seeing how my parents reacted to the thing with my grandmother, I never mentioned it to them. And then when the existence of spirits really came to light all over the world, it all clicked for me, that I was what the news was calling a ‘medium’ and that I could talk do what these people on the news could do.”
“Is that when you set out as your tour as a medium?”
I shook my head. “Hell no. I didn’t want anything to do with this stuff at first. I went to college, got a degree in English. I wanted to be a writer.” I laughed, a bit more bitter-sounding than I had intended. “It took me a few years after that to realize that there wasn’t any money in writing unless you were already a famous writer, so I gave that up. The only real marketable skill I had after that was my abilities as a medium, so I started doing the John Edwards Crossing Over-type stuff, first in little clubs, then in colleges, then in stadiums. The only difference between me and John Edwards, though, was that when I did it, it usually wasn’t a load of shit.” Realizing what I said, I looked at the tape recorder. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry,” she laughed, “it happens all the time. I’ll just edit it out later. What do you mean when you say usually?”
“There’s no such thing as a sure thing at a medium show,” I answered. “Here’s a trade secret for you. People are never haunted. Places? Sure. Items? All the time. But not people. So if I was at a show, and nobody there had anything on them that was haunted… I had to make something up fast. Luckily for me, if you have hundreds of people together, odds are there will be a few haunted family heirlooms around so I only had to make things up a few times, but it did happen.”
“Did you feel bad those times when you had to lead people on?”
I shrugged. “Yeah, but once I got popular as a medium, the money was flowing in faster than I could count it. I was a cocky twenty-something making more money than I ever expected, and I helped people talk to the dead. To say I was full of myself would be a gross understatement.”
“I got one hell of a rude awakening.” She looked at me, obviously waiting for me to elaborate. “I was backstage at one of my shows… my last show, as it turned out… and a very wealthy couple paid a whole lot of money to see me backstage for a few minutes. It turned out they wanted to see me because they thought their house was haunted. I told them I didn’t do banishings and that they should find someone else, but they offered me an exorbitant amount of money, so I couldn’t turn them down.”
“So you took the job even though you knew you weren’t qualified?”
I laughed. “Like I said, an exorbitant amount of money. And remember, I was cocky as hell. Plus, all the spirits I had ever dealt with before were ghosts, like my grandmother. Ghosts; pure, friendly spirits just hanging around their loved ones, like my grandmother was. I figured all I had to do was learn how to do a banishing, and I’d be all set.”
She gave me a knowing grin. “It sounds a bit like that isn’t what happened, though.”
“You could say that.” I shook my head and loosened my tie, sick of wearing it. “It started out alright. I learned about the double pentagram to summon and bind the spirit. I learned how to use chicken blood to paint the double pentagram in the center of the focal point of the haunting. I went to one of the occult supply stores that had popped up everywhere and bought a hand axe anointed in innocent blood to banish the spirit. I figured I was all set. I told the wealthy couple to head out to their weekend home for the night and went to their house, swaggering around like I was the cock of the walk. I didn’t even use my senses as much as I should, ignoring what I felt from the spirit, focusing on finding the focus of the haunting. Once I did, I painted the double pentagram, sat down with the axe on my lap, and reached out to summon the spirit… and that’s when all hell broke loose.”
“What happened,” she asked, leaning forward in her seat.
“For one thing,” I answered as I leaned down and pulled the bottle of scotch back out of the desk drawer, “I realized what I had missed when I was ignoring my senses. This wasn’t one of the ghosts I was used to dealing with.” I raised the bottle to my lips and took a drink, ignoring the surprised look she was giving me. I wasn’t sure if she was surprised I was taking a drink mid-interview or was surprised I hadn’t offered to share. Either way, I didn’t care; the warmth that was already spreading through my body was something I desperately needed to get through the rest of this story. “I was suddenly face-to-face with my first poltergeist. A raging, violent poltergeist. As it let out a very inhuman roar and everything in the room that wasn’t nailed down started flying through the air, I realized everything I thought I knew about spirits up until that moment meant precisely dick.”
“That must have been… rough,” she said, her voice revealing just how inadequate she knew that word was.
“It was the single worst moment in my life,” I answered, taking another short drink before putting the bottle back in the drawer. “I was shocked into inaction until a Ming vase missed taking my head off by about a millimeter. I pulled myself up to my feet and lunged axe-first at the poltergeist, stumbling over the electrical cord of a lamp that was skidding across the floor. Somehow I managed to chop the axe into the poltergeist’s thigh, and that should have been the end of it.”
“But it wasn’t?”
“Nope. The hand axe might have been real, but there was no innocent blood. Which made it about as effective against a spirit as a cotton swab would be against you or me. The poltergeist actually looked at it for a second while I stared, dumbfounded, until the poltergeist hit me with the back of its hand, knocking me on my ass. I scrambled backwards as fast as I could… and completely obliterated the bloodline keeping the pentagram together. Free now, the poltergeist took off after me at full speed, and I got up and ran faster than I ever ran before, making it out the front door just as I felt its nails scratch down my back, drawing blood. Luckily, it couldn’t leave the house, so I was safe.”
She was on the edge of her seat. “What happened next?”
“What happened next?” The pain of reliving that memory aside, I grinned in spite of myself. “Wedge happened next.”
To Be Continued…