Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

I knew when I heard the title that I had to read this one. I am a fan of the paranormal, whether ghosts or cryptids, haunted houses or urban legends. The legend of the Jersey Devil has always been a popular one, and being one of the bigger known cryptid there is much information to be found about it.  Still, it all boils down to a story passed down along generations leaving us to tread in the murky waters of its true origin. Author Hunter Shea takes this legend and breathes life into it by way of tons of action, gore, lovable characters, the perfect setting, and a story that won’t quit. In short, he gives us monster hunters what we want and so much more.

This tale follows the Willet family and their connection to the famed beast that spans generations. The elder patriarch has been waiting for the chance to go head-to-head with the Jersey Devil, and the time has come. He, along with his child and his grandchildren will venture into the Pine Barrens in search of the monster to settle an old score, once and for all. Some of the family members bear a strange symbol that connects them to the Devil somehow.

Even if we do find it, do you think it’ll change anything?” Ben said.

April sidled next to him, lifting his shirt to expose his side. A bright red birthmark marred his pale flesh. The mark was in the shape of a cloven hoof. “You mean like make this go away?”

She dropped his shirt, lifting her own, revealing an identical birthmark. Daryl did the same.

“I don’t know,” Ben said. “At least we can find out what it means.”

Their father also bore the same mark. They hadn’t seen it since they were kids, but they knew it was there – a brand that had haunted them all their lives. Ben knew it was more than that. Much more. They all knew Boompa’s story by heart, how their grandmother was the first to bear it. He’d suspected there had to be more, but if the old man hadn’t seen fit to tell them, he must have had a damn good reason.

Maybe the answer was somewhere out there in the Pine Barrens. And maybe the only way to find it was through the barrel of a gun.

The Willets are driven to understand their curse and to break it so that it no longer affects future generations. Others join in on the adventure, and many, many more are unwitting victims as the Jersey Devil goes on a murderous rampage.

Shea’s style fits this tale perfectly. He spins a tale that grows bigger with each page, trailing along at speeds that seem to go faster, never slowing. The cast of characters is huge, if you’re counting the victims that the Devil piles up in droves. And believe it or not, in the midst of all of this bloodshed, Shea manages to give the Devil himself his own type of humanity. The best part is the unbelievable twist that Shea delivers. I won’t say much more about it than that.

Shea’s personal interest in the paranormal shines in the way he tells the story. He has other novels that highlight different creatures such as The Montauk Monster  and The Dover Demon, and many others that contain monsters of his devising.

With each novel I’ve read by Mr. Shea, I have to say they’re getting better and better. Die-hard fans of horror will rejoice with this selection. The days of renting a good horror flick from the mom and pop video store down the street are back – in print, that is. Grab a copy of The Jersey Devil today at Amazon for a fun and filthy trip into the Barrens to meet the extraordinary beast.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween is not over.

I am sad waking up the morning after Halloween.

My email inbox is filled with Christmas ads and tree sales. The Hallmark channels were already playing non-stop Christmas movies since at least yesterday. YESTERDAY WAS HALLOWEEN!


I always play my own defiant card. I leave the decorations up for a few weeks. The pumpkins, even if they are rotting and full of mold, are too painful to throw away. My crepe paper decorations are hanging by a thread, sideways and mournful, but by gosh they're still there.

I watch all of the Halloween shows and movies I have recorded and refuse to erase. I play the Halloween stations on Pandora in the background.



I won't let it be.

Friday, October 30, 2015


I titled this post "Life" because that's what I wanted to write about. Life can get in the way sometimes, and sometimes it's almost unnoticed. I mean we go about the motions, and if we're lucky it all keeps chugging along like a boat on a calm sea. But most of the time there are dips and swirls and merry-go-rounds that we learn to navigate as the years tick by. Maybe it's more faking it than being an expert, but it's all a part of the experience. I feel like some people handle life better than others. I wouldn't be included in that group, though. And it also seems like some people have a harder go of it than others. Like the cards they were dealt were kind of shitty to begin with. Their lives are not calm seas and cotton candy. They are weathering storm after storm.

That kind of life is what I've been dealing with.

Now I'm not trying to write a sob story or gain sympathy. In fact, this is cathartic, writing about troubles. It takes some balls to put it out here like this. I have no idea how this kind of post will be received, and I probably won't be advertising it. I may even end up hiding it at some point.

But today it is here.

I've always had health problems. Not giant, life-threatening health problems, usually, but I was frequently at the doctor as a kid and still am. So I go to my mammogram earlier this year and they see by my paperwork that I have a high family history of breast cancer. They offer a quick and easy genetic counseling session to rate my risk and I agree. The first stage is to answer some questions on paper. This netted me the highest risk they have. So now they encourage me to do a more thorough question and answer that will be plugged into some software. It tells me that my risk is something like 26% - again the highest this particular program will go. Now it's serious. Now they offer a DNA test.

This is where it gets hard.

My mother died at 52 from breast cancer that metastasized. She has two sisters. One of them had breast cancer two separate times; the first in her 30s. The other sister has had numerous lumpectomies and a nipple removed. I lost touch with my mother's family after she died in 1998. This is what I know of up to that point. I did find out that the aunt that had cancer twice died a few months ago. I have to wonder if she had some other cancer in the end.

I was told about a way to protect myself back in 1998 after mom died. They told me I could start taking Tamoxifen and have a radical mastectomy, after I had children and breast fed them. I had no children then and didn't seriously consider this at that time. This was overwhelming, but I kept it in the back of my head.

Two years ago I faced my fear and tried to have the DNA test only to find out my insurance company wouldn't pay and I didn't have the thousands of dollars to cover it. That left me in a dark and angry place. Now I was looking into that same black cave.

I agreed to the DNA test and sat in a chair as they opened a fresh test kit. I swished Scope around my mouth for a set amount of time and spit it out into a jar over and over until I gave them the required amount. A week later I got a call from the lab that processes the test. My insurance wasn't paying. Again.

I sat in my bathroom after that call and had a bit of a breakdown. I'm a mother of three children. They are 6, 8 and 15. They need me and they will continue to need me for many more years. I just turned 41. That's only 11 years from the time my mom died.

That wasn't long enough.

Without giving myself enough time to doubt this I called my insurance company. I told my story, I cried, and I opened myself to them. The lady that answered my call just happened to be someone who cared. She went to bat for me and big time. She fought the company that paid her and she didn't stop until she got an approval. She told me that she wanted me to live for my children.

Many more phone calls back and forth between the lab and the insurance company continued for a couple of weeks. The DNA would be viable for 30 days. On the 29th day I got a call from the lab and was told they got the approval. My DNA would be tested.

About one week later I got another call. This one was from the local facility that did the test. They left me a voicemail that I got as I changed classes on campus. They wanted me to come in to their office to discuss the test results with a nurse and a radiologist.

I knew this wasn't good.

I found out I am positive for BRCA1. This is a breast and ovarian cancer gene. We suspected that it came from my mother's side of the family, given the history. My cancer risk was 87%. That's way too close to 100 for me.

I quickly found out that when you are diagnosed with a cancer gene you get sent to a lot of doctors. A lot.

Genetic counselors, surgeons, gynecologists, oncologists, plastic surgeons, nutritionists, menopause specialists, you name it. And because I have a connective tissue disorder, namely Ehlers-Danlos, along with other significant health problems, I wouldn't be able to go with a team of local doctors for the surgery. No one had worked with, or mostly even heard of Ehlers-Danlos. I would have to go to a bigger hub. The surgery would include a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction and ovarian removal. I was given a few options, but I wasn't a candidate for the drugs because I have blood clotting disorders. I wasn't able to go with the monitor it every six months with a mammogram/breast MRI rotation because my vertigo doesn't allow me to lay flat back for the tests, and I didn't want to sit back and wait like a ticking time bomb. The other option was the radical surgery option. Once I remove the ovaries and the breasts, my risk is cut by 90%. NINETY percent. You can't deny those numbers. It was a no brainer.

Everything happens fast when you find out something like this. It was the first week of April when I got the diagnosis. In June I was going four hours away to Vanderbilt University Hospital to meet with a team of surgeons. An oncologist surgeon would do the mastectomy while a gynecologist would remove the ovaries, leaving a plastic surgeon to do the reconstruction. All three would work together on a 6+ hour surgery, I would stay in the hospital for one night, then I would be on my merry way home with a lovely 4 hour drive ahead of me.

My surgery was on July 28.

It went ok, and I had severe vertigo as soon as I woke up that lasted over 12 hours. My pain was unreal. It hurt to breathe. I had been cut on from my shoulders to my groin. My chest was one large bandage and I was being held together by some hideous and ridiculous surgical bra. I had 4 drains, 2 on each side, that came out from between some ribs and hung about 2 feet outside of my body. They had to be stripped and drained at least twice a day. Thank goodness for my 15 year old daughter, who did all of my after care because my husband is crazy squeamish.

I wasn't able to tolerate the narcotics because of my vertigo and they upset my stomach, so I was left taking Advil. Regular old Advil. I did that for a week until I was told that nope I couldnt' take that because I was already on blood thinner shots in my stomach daily to keep from having a blood clot. That meant that all I could take was Tylenol. Oh, but I can have the extra strength kind they said. They did nothing. I cried.

So I went without.  

Three days after surgery I started having hot flashes and didn't know at first what they were. I would cry out of nowhere, and I mean hard crying. The kind where you make noises. I wasn't depressed, I was just crying.

This was menopause.

The gynecolost told me at my post-op visit that women who have their ovaries removed and cannot take hormone replacement therapy go into menopause fast and furious. She wasn't kidding.

Now I forgot things. I was always forgetful, but now I have no memory of certain things. It's like they've been erased. I also can't multitask. At all. It's like that part of my brain has been turned off.

There were some complications afterward with the reconstruction, but nothing too bad. I was given expanders that were sandwiched between the chest muscle. I would have to go back every week at first to get saline injections that would stretch the muscles and my chest, expanding my breasts outward. We had to take it slow and do a little at a time because my ribs were dislocating and my spine and shoulders couldn't take it. Ehlers.

In the middle of this I find out my thyroid is going nuts, and I was diagnosed with another connective tissue disorder on top of the Ehlers. Maybe even lupus. Who knows at this point.

I am overwhelmed and I stopped talking on Twitter, my form of social media. I haven't really written since the surgery until this post. I guess you can tell because it's ended up being so long. Sorry guys. I guess I needed to talk after all.

I wanted to write this before November because October is breast cancer awareness month. I felt I had an obligation to do so. I don't know how long I will keep this post up, and I will be amazed if anyone makes it to the end. Thank you, if you do. It means a lot to me.

This is my life.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I have a few strange interests, well, maybe more than a few, but storms are one of them. It's the big, bad thunderstorms that I like. The ones that turn the sky black with howling winds, rain and hail. Really, it's the prospect of a tornado that gets my gears turning. When I hear the siren, it's like a triple shot macchiato injected straight into my heart. At the start of a storm, I will be the one standing in the yard staring up at the sky. I've been this way since I was a kid. I don't know any defining moment that caused this, but there was a close call when I was about 3 that should probably be mentioned.

My mom had left me and my brother in the car to run into a grocery store. It was mid-afternoon, and within moments after she had disappeared through the doors, a storm approached. I can remember it in snippets, but my brother had better recollection (he was older than me). What I do remember is the strange noise the storm made, and the wind. I turned backward in my seat and watched a garbage can fly across the parking lot and heard distant screams from wayward shoppers unloading groceries. The winds quickly got worse, and garbage cans turned into stop signs and power lines snapping. I don't think I cried, I remember feeling like I was watching a movie.

After the whole thing was over, which wasn't but a few minutes at the most, I remember wanting my mom real bad. My brother wouldn't let me out of the car, and when mom finally made it back to us, she told us they had locked everyone in and wouldn't let them leave because there had been a tornado. The tornado had went right by us and left considerable damage behind. A drive in theatre down the same stretch of road we had been on had been hit pretty hard, destroying the wooden screen tower. As an interesting side note, very close to this structure sits the famed Nascar track in Bristol. I don't believe it was hit.

 Twin City Drive-In October 1, 1977

Around this area you could actually see the path the tornado had taken across the mountain. I remember that vividly. So please don't let anyone tell you that a tornado can't cross a mountain, or that living in them protects you. In fact, in the Super Outbreak of 1974, tornadoes were known to cross bodies of water and continue back on to land, and even go across ravines and continue. This particular tornado was on the ground for a bit, lifted, and came back down to do more damage.

One of my cousins' homes had been hit (no injuries, thank goodness) and we all took a long car ride the next day to survey the damage.

My dad liked to make pictures, and he made a lot that day. After all of these years, my parents' divorce, and many moves, unfortunately the pictures are gone. I looked back at them periodically, and remember the sheets of metal twisted into the barren trees, the lonesome tractor turned into a 'U', its back end facing the front, and my cousins' pool that had been lifted and thrown 300 yards out. This tornado ranked as an F1 on the Fujita scale, and there were 10 injuries reported, no fatalities.

So I guess maybe this experience had something to do with my fascination.

Years later a microburst picked up our small building at the bottom of our backyard and blew it apart as if it had been stuffed with dynamite. I watched that one from the safety of the picture window, eyes wide, tongue lolling, panting, I'm sure. For a kid who was nervous around loud noises, odd enough, I didn't mind the lightning and thunder.

Growing up in northeast Tennessee, you won't see many tornadoes, so any time there is a chance, most people take it seriously.

In April of 2011, we saw a few serious storms again. I live a few miles away from where I grew up, and on the afternoon of the 9th, a tornado touched down at our Veterans' Administration campus nearby. It tore through the scenic cemetery and continued across the campus ripping trees from the ground and stripping others until all that was left were large, pointed toothpicks in the ground. Several buildings suffered damage, and a roof had been peeled back on a local business. We had only recently acquired a warning system at the nearby university. When the alarm went off, a lot of people didn't know at first what to make of its eerie opening tones and the voice warning them that a tornado was on the ground. It was a fast process and the last announcement declared that all was safe.

I did get some startling pictures and ominous videos of the sky before it hit. The sky was so calm and quiet before the storm. The clouds were amazing.The video doesn't do it much justice.

 This was the first siren call. (That's my southern drawl there, y'all.)

There's another pretty good video of the siren going off, informing everyone to get in their basements and stay away from their doors. I didn't post it because I am quite freaking out at that point, along with some dear family members who sound like straight up panicked hillbillies. Ahem.

As we were hearing the siren announcement, the tornado was hitting about a half mile away, in the direction I am pointing the camera. Here's some of the aftermath at the VA campus:

This was another F1.

A little later that year, in August, I caught this beauty on accident as I was out running errands. 

 I know now this scary looking UFO wannabe was a supercell silently gliding over my head.

I got in my car right after taking the above video, and I drove around to the back of the shopping center that you can see, and surprise SURPRISE...

Here she was, about 100 feet from my hood. I didn't bother to cut my engine off (you can hear NIN singing on The Crow soundtrack in the background), I just jumped out and took this video, probably while holding my breath.

I followed it and watched it dissapate as it crossed the road.

Here's the tail end of the supercell with the storm following like skeletal fingers poking at the asphalt.

This has been the longest blog post I've ever written, but it also contains the most pictures or videos, too, so there's that.

We haven't had as active a storm season as 2011, but I keep hoping every time I see a lightning bolt in the forecast on my phone's weather app. That season inspired me to get trained through NOAA as an official storm spotter (yeah, I got a card ;).

Have you been through a tornado or watched one from afar? Please feel free to share any stories you might have in the comments.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Truth or Dare

It's been a long time since I've put a short story up here, and with Halloween coming tomorrow, I thought I would share this scary tale. I hope that you enjoy!



“Go on. You picked dare.”

Lucifer, whose real name was Tony, sneered and elbowed her lightly. He had insisted they pick new Goth names a few weeks ago and Emily was having a hard time remembering to use them. Her own moniker was Chaos. She had written it down on small pieces of paper that she would throw away, trying to drill it into her brain.

Why here, wondered Emily, why did he have to pick this place?

The large gothic Victorian house stood in front of them, owning the darkness. Spires tipped the corners, pointing to an ebony sky, and sharp arches sliced through the night. Each window looked like a set of empty eyes holding sentry to a tenebrous world that lie just behind the glass. Emily couldn’t shake the feeling that the house knew they were there, that it was watching them. The hairs on her neck stood in agreement.

The home was tall. Its shudders were drooped, hanging idly from a few lazy bolts, the shingles sagged. The front door looked like the crooked grin of an old man with the various small panes of glass long ago shattered and broken leaving haphazard shards behind. The porch boards were curled and nails had worked their way out of the wood, poking upward in dangerous angles. No one knew the last time people had lived here.

Emily swallowed, her fear a hard lump in her throat.

Tonight, Emily had pushed her luck when she had suggested they play Truth or Dare. Stephanie, now known as Paradox, liked Lucifer, and Emily did, too. Emily had stood in the shadows for long enough. Her timid demeanor put up against Paradox's bold self confidence was no contest, but tonight Emily was determined to show Lucifer another side of herself. She had never considered they would end up at this house tonight.

Lucifer and Paradox stood back, uncharacteristically silent, taking in the house from the street.

Emily hesitated before she put one boot in the yard. A small rush of wind blew her skirt around her and her hair into her face, taking her breath. Tears formed, spilling over slightly, making her thick eyeliner sting as it slid into her eyes. She briefly fought the urge to turn and run, but with clenched fists, she stood still until it passed.

With resolve and Lucifer foremost in her mind, Emily started toward the house.

An ornate, clover shaped window on the steeply pitched roof held beautiful stained glass. The vibrant colors were muted by the darkness, but Emily found herself drawn to it, staring. From behind her, Paradox began to giggle. Emily could only imagine how Paradox would be flirting with Lucifer when she wasn’t around. She needed to get this over with and send Paradox on a long dare herself. The thought made her smile.

Emily trudged on. The porch creaked and sagged under her weight.

With a sudden sharp crack, Emily’s left ankle fell through the boards. She started to shriek but stuffed her fist into her mouth, effectively cutting it off. Dust plumed all around her, making her cough. Thank goodness her boots went up to her knees, otherwise the jagged wood would have cut into her leg as she yanked her foot free.

She was shaking as she made her way to the front door, the adrenalin still pumping through her.

The large front door stood sentinel for the house, yet Emily only needed to push and it easily opened. She glanced back at Lucifer and Paradox, who were still watching from the street. She noticed Lucifer now had his arm around Paradox, who was leaning into him. A silent scream ran through her mind as jealousy burned deep. Exhaling, Emily turned and faced the darkness of the open door and stepped inside.

Once inside, Emily waited for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. The strong smell of mold caused her to wrinkle her nose. She stumbled forward, sliding her feet instead of picking them up for fear of falling over something. Finally she remembered she had her cell phone in her pocket. She pulled it out and pressed a round button on the front, turning it on. Dense blue light illuminated a path in front of her.

Holding the phone straight out ahead, she opened her eyes wide to better see, blinking from the dust motes swirling in the light.

She was in what appeared to be a large sitting room. Old furniture sat decaying and mildewing like the skeletons of ancient creatures, tented with thick cobwebs that trailed from their corners to the ground. The fabric was thin and split open with age. A tarnished mirror hung in the large living room, reflecting a hazy, milky image.

Thick dust covered the floor and there were no footprints. It had been a long time since anyone had been in here. 

Emily carefully made her way through the large room. To her left was a staircase. Her phone did not allow her to see to the top of the stairs, but she guessed from the way they curved, disappearing into the darkness, that it was long.

It was when she was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking up into the ebony nothingness, that she heard the voice.


It was whispered, barely audible, and after jumping, she blurted out her first reaction.

“Guys, you know that’s not my name anymore!” Emily figured it was her friends playing a trick on her.

It became quiet again.

Emily made her way to a window and looked out. Paradox and Lucifer were still standing in the street, near the front lawn. Now they stood side by side, playing with their cell phones.

A prickly feeling crawled across Emily’s neck and down her back, leaving her hair standing on end.

She walked back to the staircase and once again looked up.


It was the same as before.

The realization that it wasn't Lucifer or Paradox fell over her. Her breath strangled in her tightened throat, her body started to tremble. She couldn't run out, she couldn't let him see her scared. She would have to face this, whatever was in the darkness. After a few unsuccessful attempts, she finally squeaked out, “Who’s here?”

There was no reply.

The thought of them setting her up with someone upstairs to mess with her gave her a burst of bravery. Emily exhaled sharp and aimed her phone at the stairs. “Listen, I’ve got a knife. Be warned.” She surprised herself with the confidence that came through.

Remembering there had been no footprints in the dust, fear mixed with curiosity, and a giggle from Paradox rode in on the dank air, compelling her forward.

She put one foot on the first step and pressed down. A slight groan came from the wood, but it held steady. Emily slowly put her other foot down and waited. It seemed that it would be able to hold her weight, even when she lightly bounced on it, so she began to climb the steps.

Soon, something began to pull her along. Her body went numb. It felt like a hand was reaching deep into her belly, its fingers gripping her insides lightly, tugging her farther up the steps. It tickled and despite the undercurrent of fear, Emily found herself nervously laugh.

The stairs curved upward in a circle. Emily didn’t know when they would ever end, but the pulling persisted and began to feel like a cold breath that licked at her ears.

Emily," the breathy voice died in the distance.

She climbed ever further. The air thickened the closer she was to the top. The distinct feeling of moisture clung to her skin, leaving a sheen of slickness behind.

Not able to tell from which direction the voice came, she turned, going toward her right. There were three doors that opened to reveal bedrooms with more decrepit furniture filling them. Going back down the hall, she continued down the other side.

On this side there was another bedroom and a small bathroom. The bathroom had a claw-footed bathtub that was filled with gelatinous brown muck. The smell was so strong and pungent in here that it burned her eyes. Emily backed out quickly.

Feeling frustrated, Emily was about to go back downstairs when she heard it again.

This way,” it breathed. The ‘s’ sound was elongated, mimicking a snake’s hiss.

It was coming from behind her.

There was a brief but strong primal instinct that kicked in, urging her to leave right now, but her emotions overpowered it, shoving the tiny voice away. With her head held high, she turned to see a door that she hadn’t noticed before. When she opened it, there was another smaller set of steps lying before her, wrapped in a strange silver glow.

Emily pocketed her cell phone because the light here was ample enough that she didn’t need it.

The voice became louder and less breathy as she climbed the steps with automatic movements.

Emily, come here,” it beckoned.

A large attic space opened up. Lit with the same silver glow as the steps. It housed many items such as a large, decorative mirror, stacks of moldy books, a coatrack with an antique white lace dress hanging in tatters from the edge, and framed portraits. Ladders were angled against the wall, a steel tub had been filled with boxes and old hats hung on pegs. Emily stared in wonder at the room. There was a dream-like quality to the moment with its filtered appearance and her muffled thoughts; her movements had slowed as if she were under water.


The voice was coming from a corner.

She followed it to find a large, black trunk sitting up against a wall. Kneeling, Emily pushed the heavy lid up.

There were stacks of books and old photographs bundled with shiny ribbon. A pair of boots lined with tiny, round buttons and a dry-rotted pinafore. She removed each item with ease, laying them each on the floor beside her.

Near the bottom, there was an old hairbrush, its bristles frail and brittle, and a matching hand mirror. They used to be silver but were now tarnished so bad that they appeared mostly to be a dull brown. She tried to look at herself in the glass. Still holding the mirror, she noticed something glowing in the bottom of the trunk.

Picking up a small, wrapped bundle, Emily began to unwind the gauze that covered it. The more she took off, the stronger the glow became. With the last of it removed, she could see that it was a necklace. A blue and white cameo; the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Carved into it was a child, his angelic face forever captured in pristine innocence. His blue eyes shone and seemed to be looking right at her. A snake that wound around his small legs and up his rounded belly to rest on his shoulder, lovingly, encircled his swathed body. The child appeared to be floating on a puffy cloud with stars lining the background, a small set of wings sprouting from his back.

Emily rubbed her fingertip across the pendant; each delicate score was painstakingly detailed. The blue was almost electric as it glowed in her hand.

She bowed her head and lifted the necklace, setting it in place around her throat.

Instantly the room went black.

Emily snapped out of the dream-like trance she was in and remembered where she was. Fear gripped every inch of her and she opened her mouth to scream. Before any sound could escape, something touched her neck.

A raspy voice hissed, “You have released me. For this I thank you, but, please forgive me; I haven’t fed in centuries.”

Searing pain blossomed from her throat as something sliced into her soft flesh. Warm blood spilled onto the floor with a heavy splash.

Emily clutched at her throat, gasping for air that was bubbling in the gaping wound. As she fell to her knees, her body was pulled from behind up into the air.

She managed one last scream that slashed through the silent night with piercing clarity. Lucifer and Paradox‘s heads snapped up at the sound. The two of them saw the glow coming from the stained glass window that now blossomed with color, and ran toward the house.

A river of blood fell upon the floor, and the necklace dropped beside it, the glow fading into the night.

“Emily!” In their haste, nicknames were forgotten. Their cries rang out as they clumsily made their way to the top floor.

The attic had darkened. Lucifer aimed his small penlight and saw that a large pool of blood covered the center of the room.

Lucifer paced the area looking for Emily. Paradox stared in shock at the blood.

A large drop of blood fell on Lucifer’s shoulder. He stopped where he was and slowly looked up.

In the darkness he could make out the edges of the eaves disappearing into inky blackness.

Another drop of blood fell on his cheek.

“Emily?” he asked in a weak voice.

From the black came the sound of wings beating followed by a harsh squeal.

A large creature emerged from the darkness above, swooping down at Lucifer who shielded his face with his arms and crouched, screaming.

The thing landed with a thud, its talons clicking on the wood.

It stretched its arms wide, and opening its chest, it leaned its head back and shrieked again, flexing large, veined black wings. It had the head of a snake. A forked tongue flicked out of its enormous mouth between long, sharp, red-stained fangs. Moist, bulbous eyes contained pointed pupils. 

As Lucifer trembled in the floor, Paradox stepped forward; her eyes open wide and fixed on the creature.

“You are real,” she said softly. Lowering her head, she dropped to one knee. “I bow before you.”

The creature tilted its head and ambled its lanky form ahead.

It bent down and enveloped her with its large wings. A loud crack and a quick squeal were all Lucifer heard as he sat in the floor, rocking back and forth.

Paradox’s limp body fell to the side.

The giant creature lifted itself off the ground with its wings. Wind swirled in the room kicking up papers, dust and debris.

Pointing a clawed finger at Lucifer it said, “Tell them I have come.”

Lucifer snapped out of it in time to see the creature’s visage change from the beast that it had been to the form of the small, beautiful child on the necklace. Bright blue eyes glowed in the darkness. In an instant it morphed back into the beast.

With a powerful whoosh of its wings, it propelled itself forward with great momentum, crashing through the stained glass window and off into the night.

Its large black form was briefly silhouetted against the bloated, full moon.

A shriek rendered the night alive.