Fiction Friday - Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences: This Ain't a Ghost Story, Part 2
This Friday sees me back with another short story, this one the conclusion to the two-parter I started last week that is a bit of a game-changer for the series; you'll see what I mean as you read it. As always, feedback is not just appreciated but requested! If you missed any of the stories, by the way, just click the "Fiction Fridays" label at the bottom of the post, it'll take you to a page featuring all the installments, from newest to oldest in descending order as you scroll down. Enjoy!
Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences:
This Ain’t a Ghost Story, Part 2
This was definitely not shaping up to be a good night.
Let’s review. I, Henry Biggs, and my partner, Aldredge “Wedge” Thompson, were on a case. The Reislings thought their ten-year-old son, Dennis, was haunted by a spirit that I thought was a poltergeist. A banishing had no affect on Dennis, who now had his fingers pressed painfully against my trachea. Blades anointed in innocent blood had no affect on him either; Wedge had pressed his dagger against him, and Dennis… or whatever was in Dennis, who spoke with a thick Arabic accent and had no problems throwing around words like “twat”… had pressed his neck against the blade until it bled, and the blade turned to dust.
Oh, yeah, and I was drunk as fuck from playing the Alphabet Game with Wedge earlier in the night.
So taking this case might not have been the best idea.
“Biggs!” I heard Wedge scream as I fought in vain against Dennis’ hands, trying to pry them away from my neck, but he was much stronger than a ten-year-old could ever be. Stronger than Wedge, too it turned out, because as Wedge grabbed his arms to try to pull him off me, the kid released my neck with one hand, swung his arm back, and shoved my partner so hard he fell out the second-floor window.
His hand was back around my neck before I could blink, and I was convinced my ticket was about to get permanently punched. “What… the hell… are you?” I managed to choke out between painfully strained breaths.
“What the hell am I?” He laughed uproariously. “There are more things between heaven and hell, to paraphrase a bit… for an occult expert, you don’t have the first fucking clue what’s going on, do you?” His fingers eased up ever so slightly as he leaned forward and licked my cheek wetly. “Let’s see what you are instead.”
He held my head still and forced me to look into his eyes. Again, I saw fire blazing in them, and to my horror I felt that fire start to burn into me, into my mind, my memories.
I could feel him in my head, ripping through all my thoughts and experiences with abandon. My childhood, past cases, everything that ever hurt me before; he was taking a tour through my darkest times and making me relive them while he did. To fight back against it, I instinctively thought of the brightest spot in my life, thinking about Alexa Fogel, our assistant, our bar manager, also known as the woman I loved.
“Oh, you have a woman,” he sneered with glee. “I think when I’m done with you and your jerkoff partner, I’ll go pay her a visit, maybe slowly flay the skin from her bones while I rape her mind and body into oblivion.”
That was it right there. The reason I had never acted on my feelings for Lexy, the fear that she would be dragged into the shit I did and would be hurt, or worse, killed because of it. My mind went to the last time she had gotten involved in one of our cases, when Fr. Rube Eliot came to us because there was a poltergeist at Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows, where we had to use Lexy as bait after the ‘geist had appeared in front of the altar, under the giant crucifix…
As the image of the crucifix came into my mind, Dennis recoiled and hissed, releasing my neck. He recovered quickly, though, the sneer returning to his little face as he spun back onto the bed and lunged on the pillows. “You know a priest, huh? Tell you what, assface. I’ll let you and your butt-buddy down there live for now, and you can go ask him what I am, and then get back to me. Even better, you can bring him back here with you. Sound good?”
I was on my feet and moving towards the door before he had finished talking, one hand massaging my bruised neck. I couldn’t resist, though; at the door I turned and asked, “What makes you think I’d ever come back here?”
“I’ve been inside your mind, asshole,” he laughed. “With all that responsibility you feel because of what you can do, you’re too stupid to just leave me here.”
I turned and stumbled out the door, not bothering to answer him. The truth is, he was right. I couldn’t just leave him here now that I knew about him, to hurt or kill someone. Maybe that was stupid. Lord knows, if I was smart I never would have insisted on coming here despite how drunk I was in the first place.
But one thing was for damn sure: I couldn’t leave him around to go after Lexy.
I stumbled down the hall and down the stairs, breaking into a run as I hit the ground floor, out of the apartment and around to the side of the house outside the kid’s window, to find the Reislings trying to help Wedge to his feet. The overgrown shrubs ringing the house had broken his fall somewhat. I moved Mrs. Reisling out of the way, taking Wedge’s right side while Mr. Reisling took the left, and together we got him up to his feet. “You alright, Wedge?” I asked hoarsely.
“Been better,” he grumbled, standing gingerly, unable to fully put his weight on his right leg.
“How’s our son?” Mrs. Reisling asked desperately.
I looked from her to her husband and back to her again. “Listen to me. Do not, under any circumstances, go back into that house,” I told them. “We have to go.”
Mr. Reisling’s face clouded darkly. “You’re leaving?”
“We’re not done here,” I promised him.
Wedge sighed as he took a step and almost tipped over; the way he was looking at his right ankle made me think it must be pretty badly sprained, and he was holding his right arm tight against his side. “We’re not?”
“No, we just have to go get something,” I told him. I turned back to the Reislings. “But again, do not go back in there. If he calls to you, don’t trust him. In fact, get out of here. Go stay in a hotel or something.” They started to protest, but I talked over them, forcing the words out of my sore throat. “Trust me, he doesn’t need you to take care of him right now, and we’ll be back soon.”
Without giving them a chance to argue, I slipped Wedge’s arm over my shoulder and started helping him to the front of the house where our truck was parked. “What do we have to go get,” he asked lamely, “money to bribe the kid to leave us alone?”
I ignored the sarcasm. “Answers,” I told him as I helped him into the passenger side. Once he was settled I ran over to the drivers’ side and got in. I started the engine and took off like a bat out of hell for Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows.
* * * * *
“Biggsy, don’t you think maybe you had too much to drink to be driving this fast and talking on the phone?”
“Lexy, don’t argue with me,” I said into the phone, ignoring Wedge, “you need to take the rest of the night off, leave the bartenders in charge. Go see a movie or something.” I spun the steering wheel hard with my free hand, turning left a bit too sharply. I kept the van under control, but Wedge was probably right.
Still, needs must when the devil drives, and if the sneaking suspicion I had was right, the old saying wasn’t far off from just who was in the driver seat tonight.
“Good. Thanks. I’ll explain everything tomorrow, I promise.” If I’m alive, I added to myself silently as I threw the phone into the back of the van.
Wedge looked up from massaging his ankle. “She leaving the bar?”
I had told him what not-Dennis had said about her. “Yeah. She’s not happy about it, and now she’s worried as hell about us, which didn’t help anything, but I got her to agree to it.” I actually chuckled a bit, despite the circumstances. “I’m going to catch a friggin’ earful tomorrow.
Even though I was focusing on watching the road, I could feel him grin as he said, “You could always just shut her up by kissing her.”
“Too bad I can’t shut you up the same way,” I grumbled as I stopped the van. “We’re here,” I said, getting out of the van before he could say anything smart. I walked over to the passenger side and helped him out, then quickly began heading for the church.
“Hold up, Biggsy.” Wedge grabbed my arm to stop me. “This time of night, no one’s going to be in the church.” He nodded his head towards a building next to it. “They’ll be in the rectory.”
I changed direction, walking to the rectory’s door and ringing the bell. Wedge caught up to me, limping on his bad ankle. I looked at him, the way his right arm was still tucked protectively against his side. “You alright?”
“Ankle’s sprained pretty bad, feels like I bruised a couple of ribs.” He shrugged. “I’ve had worse, believe me.”
“It’s a good thing the night isn’t over yet,” I said as I heard locks turning on the other side of the door. “Still have a chance to put that to the test.”
The door swung open, and a very sleepy Fr. Rube Eliot, wearing a warm-looking blue bath robe, looked at us in surprise. “Mr. Biggs? Wedge? What are you doing here?”
“Drop the mister stuff, Padre,” I said. “Listen, we’re sorry to bother you so late at night, but we need your help. A kid’s life depends on it, and who knows how many others.”
“Of course,” he responded, stepping out of the doorway to usher us in. “Wedge, you’re hurt! Can I get you anything?”
“Just coffee, Father,” Wedge answered as we stepped inside. “Very, very strong coffee. It’s been a night, to say the least.”
The priest nodded. “Right this way.” He led us down a short hallway to the right and opened a door, letting us into his office. “Have a seat.” He went over to a coffee machine on a table against the wall and started making coffee as Wedge and I sat in the two chairs in front of his desk. Wedge reached over and grabbed the small garbage bin next to the desk and moved it over so he could rest his ankle on top of it.
I sat there quietly, trying to gather my thoughts. The drunken haze had been chased away by the adrenaline and almost dying, and hopefully the coffee would clear my mind completely, because there was no way what I was thinking was going on was possible. It had to be a drunken theory, or so I hoped.
Fr. Rube brought the coffee over, handing us two very hot mugs. “Thanks, Padre,” I said before taking a big sip, not at all caring if I burned myself. The pain would probably help, at this point.
“Alright,” Fr. Rube said as he sat down behind the desk, leaning forward with his hands folded on the desk in front of him, “why don’t you tell me what brings you here?”
I took another long sip and told him everything about the case, about how the summoning failed, how the dagger disintegrated, everything about the kid and his voice and his strength and the fire in his eyes and what it felt like when he was gleefully ripping through all my worst memories. “But there are a couple of things I noticed, Padre,” I said when I had finished the general retelling, “a few details I want to point out.” I leaned forward to put my mug on the desk, and to be able to watch him a little more closely. “When Wedge said, ‘thank Jesus,’ the kid hissed and shot him a nasty look. When he saw the crucifix in my memories of the church, he hissed again and pulled away from me, finally letting go of my neck. And when he saw I knew a priest, he told me to ask you what he is. So tell me, Father, just what are we dealing with here?”
“I don’t know,” he answered quickly; a little too quickly. I was sure I saw a flash of recognition in his eyes.
“You want to try that again, Padre? Lying is a sin, you know.”
“Biggsy!” I hadn’t told Wedge my suspicions yet, so I’m sure to him this sounded like my grudge against religion popping up again.
“Come on, Father,” I pressed, “You owe us one.”
He grinned wryly. “I’d say that, considering the size of the check I wrote you on behalf of the Church, we’re more than even. But,” he paused to shake his head, “alright. I should not be telling you this, and I can’t be sure, but it sounds to me like the boy has been possessed by a demon.”
Wedge’s jaw dropped. “I thought you said you didn’t know anything about this stuff, that’s why you needed us to get rid of the ‘geist in the church.”
“No,” I answered before Fr. Rube got the chance, “what he said was the Church has never come out with an opinion about spirits, but that they do have an exorcist for demons. Right, Padre?”
“That’s true,” he sighed. “The fact that there is an official exorcist is no secret. But honestly, most of the clergy I’ve ever met doubted possessions ever happened. A few years ago, however, when all this business with spirits became more commonplace, the Vatican let the clergy as a whole in on a secret: possessions do happen. Demons are real. And the way it was described to us… strength, voices that don’t fit, everything else you mentioned… sounds very much like what you’re dealing with, but I can’t say that with certainty.”
“Yeah, that isn’t something the world at large needs to know. You have to love the Church sometimes.” I held up a hand to forestall the argument I knew he’d have ready for that. “I’d love to go round for round with you on this one, but we don’t have the time right now. When they told you about this, did they also happen to tell you how to exorcise a demon?”
I could see his eyes dart to the top desk drawer before they came back to me. “Well, yes, just in the rare case of any of us coming into contact with a demon, but as I said, I can’t be sure this is what you’re dealing with. I should come with…”
“Absolutely not!” I said at the exact same time Wedge said, “Fuck no!” He followed his response up with a sheepish grin and said, “Sorry, Father.”
“Padre, we didn’t even want you in the church with us last time because of how dangerous what we do is,” I said before the priest could protest, “and this demon is much worse than the average poltergeist. There’s just no way it’s going to happen. So why don’t you just open up the desk draw and show us what we need to do to sound this thing back to hell?”
Fr. Rube hesitated.
“Come on, Father. We both know you’re not going to let a little boy suffer longer than he has to, are you?”
He frowned at me as he opened the drawer.
* * * * *
“So, you got a plan, buddy?” Wedge asked as he finished wrapping his ankle with the bandage we got from the rectory’s first aid kit. Once he was done, he slipped the knife Fr. Rube had given us from the kitchen into his belt and looked at me.
Much more sober now, I was driving the van far safer than before as I tried to wrap my brain around this situation enough to answer that question. “The beginnings of one,” I finally said. “Thanks to the priest, we know the demon’s weakness now, as well as the symbol to exorcise him and how to draw it, and the incantation to go with it.”
“Yeah, but how are we going to get him to tell us his name?”
“I’ve been thinking about that. He could have killed me up there, right? Easy. But he let me go. He told me to find out what he is. He wants us to know what he is. I bet that goes for who he is, too.” We pulled up to the Reislings’ home again and I threw the van in park. “I’m guessing all we have to do is push the right buttons, and he won’t be able to stop himself from telling us.”
We got out of the van, Wedge able to manage without help now that he had wrapped his ankle. I was already walking towards the front door when I heard Wedge say, “Biggsy, look.”
I turned my head and saw the kid’s parents sitting in almost the exact place they were standing when we left. “What the fuck are they still doing here? They could have been killed!”
“They’re his parents, bro,” Wedge said simply, as if it explained everything.
And I guess it did. “Stay out here, this will all be over in a few minutes,” I called out to them as we headed to the door again… and it was the truth, one way or another.
When we got to the door, Wedge touched my arm to stop me. “Biggsy, I just want to say something before we go in there, just in case. It’s about Lexy.”
I turned to him in frustration. “Wedge…”
“Hear me out, buddy. You owe me that.”
I sighed and motioned for him to continue.
“I can tell you’re in love with her. It’s fucking obvious. And unless I’m suddenly a complete idiot, she’s in love with you too. And I understand, you’re afraid if you two get involved this shit we do will get her killed… but let’s face it, it’s far more likely this shit we do is going to get YOU killed, not her. So considering there’s a chance that every time we walk out the door on a case we’re walking to our death, it’s pretty stupid of you to deny yourself whatever happiness you can have for as long as you can have it… and pretty damn selfish of you to decide Lexy can’t have that happiness either.”
He was making sense, and I hated that, but I didn’t want to admit it. Instead, I said, “What makes you so sure we’ll both be dead, not just one of us?”
Wedge grinned. “C’mon, Biggsy, you know when you die, it’ll be because whatever kills you already killed me while I was protecting you.” Without another word he walked into the house, heading right for the stairs, and I followed in his heels.
We walked upstairs and down the hall to Dennis’ room, bracing ourselves outside the door for a moment. Wedge blessed himself, something I never saw him do, despite how Catholic he sometimes was.
“I can smell you, shitstains,” the Arabic voice called from inside. “Get your asses in here already.”
“Follow my lead,” I whispered to Wedge before I walked into the room. “What’s up Dennis?” I tried to sound as nonchalant as I could.
“You don’t really think my name is Dennis, do you?” He laughed as he craned his head to look around Wedge as he walked in behind me. Then he frowned. “Where’s the priest?”
I shrugged as I walked to the foot of the bed. “He said he couldn’t be bothered to come here, Dennis; that he had more important things to do and you weren’t worth his time.”
I had planned to say more, but suddenly I was thrust against the wall as his hands wrapped around my throat again. “Don’t fuck with me, boy,” he growled, the accent becoming harsher, “you know exactly what I am, don’t you?”
“I do, Dennis,” I managed to choke out, “and I know your weakness, too.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the small wooden cross Fr. Rube had given me and defiantly thrust it into the demon’s face, confidant that it would repel him as the priest said it would.
The demon just laughed and swatted it out of my hand like it was nothing. “That only works if you believe in it, mongoloid.”
Shit. Damn me and my ridiculously angry agnosticism…
“What about when I do it?” Wedge asked as he came between me and the demon, pressing his cross into its face now. “Does it work when I do it, Dennis?”
The demon hissed and leaped back onto the bed, getting as far from Wedge as he could.
I think that was the first time I was ever thankful for Wedge’s faith. I reached over to the child’s desk against the wall and grabbed the small wooden chair, pulling it behind Wedge. He felt it and sat down. His large frame mostly obscured what I was doing behind him as I reached into his belt and slowly removed the knife he had slipped there in the van.
“Relax, Dennis,” Wedge said casually as he held the cross in front of him, “we’re not going to hurt you. We don’t even know how to hurt you. Right, Biggsy? We have no idea how to hurt Dennis here, do we?”
I kept the pain out of my voice as I used the knife to cut a deep gash into my forearm. “Right, you have nothing to worry about, Dennis.”
“Stop calling me Dennis!” the demon raged suddenly. “My name isn’t fucking Dennis!”
“His name isn’t fucking Dennis,” Wedge said to me over his shoulder.
“I thought his name was fucking Dennis,” I responded as I dipped my finger in my blood. Human blood was needed to draw the symbol that would make an exorcism possible. I began use my blood to trace the symbol on the back of the chair in front of me: three nines over three sixes, with the bottoms of the nines becoming the tops of the sixes. When the numbers were done, I drew a circle around them, and then a pentagram with the circle at its center. “I guess it doesn’t matter what his name is, the priest said he’s probably just a minor demon, no danger to anyone, really.”
“A minor… no danger to…” The demon was literally shaking with rage. “I am Ronwe! I command nineteen of Hell’s Legions! I will find and kill everyone you have ever loved and then rape their souls into oblivion!” He leapt towards us, but Wedge jumped up to meet him, the cross in Ronwe’s face again, forcing him backwards.
“That’s great, Ronwe,” I said smugly. “I just have one thing to say to you. I banish thee, Ronwe, by the power of thy name.” I paused briefly to wipe my palm in the blood running down my forearm and then slammed my palm into the circle in the center of the pentagram before continuing. “And condemn thee back to the pits of Hell!”
The demon shrieked, an unholy sound that shook me to my core and made me miss the sound a spirit makes when they get banished. The boy’s body slumped back against the bed, and Wedge rushed to his side, pressing the cross against his face; no reaction. Fr. Rube said that would mean the exorcism worked. I walked to the window and saw Dennis’ parents staring up at me. “It’s over,” I called down to them. “You can come up now.”
“Demons, Biggsy,” Wedge was saying as he shook his head. “Like the spirit cases weren’t getting hard or weird enough, we got demons to deal with now.”
“Hopefully this was just a one-time thing, man.”
He laughed as he put his cross back in his pocket and then picked mine up from the floor, handing it to me. “With our luck, what do you think the odds of that are?”
“You’re right, we’re fucked.” When he turned away, I chucked the cross out the window.
* * * * *
“You have got to be kidding me!” We drove back to our bar, The Haunted Hops, and as I parked the van across the street, I could see Lexy’s car parked in front of the bar in the exact same place it had been when we had left hours earlier when this whole nightmare started. “She never left!”
Wedge laughed. “Yeah, that sounds like her. You really thought she’d leave while we were out there in danger? The way you talked to her on the phone, it probably scared the shit out of her for us.”
“I was trying to scare the shit out of her for her!”
He looked at me like I was a painfully slow child. “She loves you, dumbass!”
I sighed as I pulled the bar door open for him. “I’m going to go find her and… I don’t know, yell at her. Or something.”
“Not so fast,” he said, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me over to the bar. “You still have to do a triple shot for losing the game earlier.”
“I didn’t lose!”
Wedge just stared at me.
“Fine, I lost,” I sighed. Wedge had the bartender pour me a triple shot of Jameson and got each of us a Heineken. I downed the shot quickly, then chugged half the beer to wash it down.
“Good job, Biggsy,” Wedge grinned. “And good luck with Lexy. I’m going upstairs to stick my ankle in the freezer for an hour.” He clapped me on the back and went off to the door that led to our apartments upstairs.
I looked around the bar, checking everyone’s face until I finally found what I was looking for: Lexy, sitting at a booth in the far corner. I made my way over to here, realizing that she was sitting across from someone. Was it a guy? I pit formed in my stomach.
When I reached the booth, I saw it wasn’t a guy, it was Melissa Adaire, the reporter from Weekly World Now magazine who had done a story on Wedge and I a few weeks ago. Seeing her didn’t exactly make the pit go away. “What’s she doing here?” I blurted rudely.
Lexy ignored my question as she jumped up from the booth and threw her arms around me. She was so much shorter than me that as we hugged my chin ended up resting on the top of her head. “Thank God you’re okay, you scared me half to death with that phone call!”
“Yeah?” I pushed her back to arms’ length to talk to her, but her hands stayed on my arms. “Then why are you still here? I told you to leave.”
“Like I’d leave after a call like that, with you guys obviously in danger?” She punched my arm harder than I’d have expected she could, given her size. “Idiot. So what happened?”
I looked at her before I answered, saw the concern in her eyes, her beautiful eyes, saw the way the corners of her lips curved down as she frowned… god, she was beautiful, even pissed at me.
So considering there’s a chance that every time we walk out the door on a case we’re walking to our death, it’s pretty stupid of you to deny yourself whatever happiness you can have for as long as you can have it… and pretty damn selfish of you to decide Lexy can’t have that happiness either.
I heard Wedge’s words in my mind. Damn it, the big idiot was right. I reached out and took Lexy’s hand gently.
“Can I tell you over dinner?”