Side Show, Midian Unmade
In July of 2013, a call went out for submissions to a new anthology based on Clive Barker's Cabal (Nightbreed). Of the thousands of submission, only a few were chosen to be included. This was my submission. And while it did not make the cut, here is what the editors had to say about it;"[When}I finished it felt like I had read an introduction to a much bigger work (Cabal 2?)."
I encourage you to take the time to read it, and email me if you have comments or feedback using the contact email on this site.
The caravan pulled into the campground stirring up a cloud of flies and dust in the midsummer heat. Seven rusty, beat up fifth wheel trailers attached to seven equally rusty and beat up old trucks. They formed a semi-circle around the one, shiny new RV in the lead. Three on each side like a crescent moon. The seventh held it's self back and parked a little to the side as gate keeper, and if such was needed, an early warning and last defense.
What piled out of the trucks and trailers could only be called a hodge-podge of the dregs of society. If you didn't look too close, they looked like your typical gypsies. Clothes worn thin, stained or torn in a few places, shoes barely covering their feet. Some seemed drunk in the glare of the afternoon sun. Others stumbled about their work squinting against sun tears streaming down their faces.
But, for those with the eyes to see, they were more than a rag tag band of carnies and freaks. For those with the Gift of true sight they could be seen for the wondrous and monstrous creatures they were. They were Nightbreed. They were the monsters that haunted the "Naturals" dreams and nightmares.
Their home had been destroyed in fire and blood by ignorance and fear. They had nowhere else to go, so they followed each other, in the stolen trucks and trailers of the same destroyers who butchered their friends and family. Midian was gone. It was nothing more than a pile of rubble and bones. They hadn't even had time to properly bury their dead.
Their God Baphomet and the Savior Cabal were nowhere to be found, and their leader lay dead with the rest of their brethren. The only semblance of order among them was kept by the old fortune teller. She had no name, or if she did nobody knew it. She was as old as time some said, and could see everything. The past, the future, into your deepest heart and even into those things that rattled around in most Naturals heads that passed for brains.
The door of the RV swung open and a barrel chested mountain of a man stepped down the metal stairs that groaned under his weight. His hair was a short grizzled mess above a high forehead and piercing hazel eyes. He wore the cast off leather jacket of a dead natural over a torn and faded cotton t-shirt and equally faded blue jeans. He pawed the dirt a few times with one booted foot as if to check it's solidity before calling up into the dim interior of the RV, "It's alright Grandmother." A gruff "hrmphff" was all the answer he got. And really, it was all the answer he expected.
The walking wall turned away from the open door and fixed his attention on the others as they went about their routine. And it was routine by now. After nearly a year on the road everyone knew their jobs. It left him without much to do. He pulled a pocket knife from his jacket and picked up a fallen branch from the low hanging oak above his head. He pressed the knife against the wood and began cleaning it in sharp, smooth strokes. He always loved the way the bark peeled back, like skin from flesh. It made him think of the days when he could hunt without distraction. Back before the naturals forgot their place and over ran the primal forests with their towns and filth.
He gripped the knife handle a little tighter and thought of how different the world was back then. When the naturals huddled around their crude little fires and feared to leave the silly circle of light. Their fire hardened spears across their laps in readiness should his kind decide that tonight was the night they were hungry. He missed the call of the pack on the wind and the nights of no moon when they were the only predator who could see in the pitch dark. The only nights when they could hunt the naturals without fear of their spears finding them.
The gentle rock of the RV broke his daydreams of blood and pack warmth. It meant it was near dusk and Grandmother would be getting ready for opening night. He always loved the first night in any new town. The uncertainty and scent of fear that hung around the first few naturals that let their curiosity get the better of them was almost as good as the Hunt. Almost.
The tent was nearly raised and Dani had begun laying out the strings of lights that would run between the tent and the tops of the trailers like the tentacles of some great beast. He didn't envy the campground when they got the light bill.
He followed her movements with his eyes. Her dancer's body was lean and he could see every tight muscle rippling beneath her pale skin. He didn't know whether he wanted to fuck her or eat her. Maybe both if he got the chance. But he'd have to get her away from that cursed redneck Peloquin if he stood any chance in hell of either.
He closed the knife and tucked it and the now smooth branch in the inside pocket of his jacket and swung back up into the gloom of the RV. Another night, another few dollars, another chance to find whatever it was Grandmother was looking for.
The cursed redneck in question was standing on the far end of the curve, staring at Dani's ass and wishing the night's work was done. He had plans for her. And they didn't involve that mangy cur Stephan. He'd seen the mutt looking. Well, maybe he could have what was left of her when he was done. He watched Dani swing up on to the top of the trailer next to him. Her tight ass and long legs flashed from beneath the short skirt she had on. Did she ever wear panties? No, there wasn't going to be anything left. That ass was his. He growled and pushed away from the trailer. It was almost show time and near time for those like him who couldn't hide their 'breedness beneath loose clothes or make up to go to work. Somebody had to play the freak in this three ring circus.
He just hoped the old lady found what they were looking for soon. He was tired of playing the animal in a cage. He wanted meat dammit! And one of these nights that fake cage wasn't going to hold him anymore. With steel bars being all that separated him from all that fresh, still breathing meat every night, it was all he could do not to rip every one of those walking cheeseburgers to shreds and damn the old lady's vision for it.
Twilight came and Dani plugged in the strings of lights to the box behind the lead trailer. The clearing lit up like Christmas. This was always the part she liked best. For just a minute, she could pretend that things were almost normal. It made her feel like her dad was still here. He was the biggest, strongest man she'd ever known. Growing up in the carny world, she'd met a lot of strong men. She'd even fucked a few when she got old enough. But none of them were as strong as her dad.
He was gone now. Buried in the rubble of Midian along with her step-mother and baby brother. They'd only been visiting her step-mother. She refused to leave Midian and join them on the road. No matter how many times her dad had begged her over the years. She said she was tired. She'd seen too many of her children taken from her, or killed by too many naturals. Lylesberg allowed her to stay in Midian, as long as she promised not to have any more half Breeds. But she'd gone against him and had one more. Dani's baby brother.
Lylesberg had tried to take the baby from her step-mom. He said Joseph went against the Law. It didn't matter how much arguing mom and dad did with him. It wasn't allowed. Baphomet's rules. She guessed it was for good reason. Most naturals wouldn't have let him live either. But she'd fallen head over heels for little Joey, and had she been given the chance, she'd have taken him to raise herself. But nobody asked her. Now they were all dead.
A sharp pain stabbed through her and she paused in climbing back up to double check the tie down on the last string of lights. Images of her father's broken body laying over her step-mom and tiny Joey in the smoke choked rubble of Midian flashed across her mind. She closed her eyes as a wave of nauseating hate flooded through her. Someday the naturals would pay for what they did to her family.
Dani might not be Breed, but she understood them more than most naturals ever would. She felt safer with the Nightbreed then she ever felt around humans. At least she knew where she stood with them. Some hated her for being natural, and she was fine with that. Some tolerated her for the sake of her step-mother's memory. And some, like Peloquin, she could read a mile away. That was why she liked Pel so much. She never had to guess what he was thinking about. For somebody who was so tough, he was an open book.
She looked up from the last light string and caught him staring at her from the back of his trailer. He just stood there, trying to look like he wasn't looking at her. But she knew, she always knew he was watching her. She shivered in anticipation. She couldn't wait for the night's work to be done so they could be alone. Pel did things to her that nobody else ever had. And no strong man, Natural or Breed, had ever made her feel like he could.
She turned around to climb down the ladder at the back of the old airstream trailer and caught another pair of eyes on her. It was Stephan. She shivered again, but it was in revulsion. There was something wrong with Stephan's eyes. The light in them was too feral. She was never sure, but sometimes when he looked at her she felt like a piece of meat at the butcher shop. It turned her stomach. She hopped down the last two rungs of the ladder and ducked inside the trailer to get ready for the night's performance.
Darkness finally fell. The lights lit up the little clearing in the middle of nowhere. The players in this little freak show took their places and waited. They never did any advertising, but somehow the naturals found them anyway.
It wasn't long before the lights and dust could be seen coming down the dirt road. A trickle at best, but it was enough. As long as they had money it would be enough.
Daryl, the one who could almost pass for human, had set up a table in front of the lead trailer. Five dollars got you a seat in the big tent for the main show. The usual carny circus, clowns, acrobats, and Dani doing her fire dancing. Twenty got you into the real show behind the tent. That was where Peloquin and the others were. Chained in steel bar cages that wouldn't hold a rabid dog if tested, but they put on a good show.
There were the requisite freaks, the bearded lady, strong man, human knot, and others. But Peloquin was the star of the side show. "The Amazing Lizard Man". He never knew whether to laugh or be pissed as hell at Grandmother for giving him that stage name. Still, it was better than what the mutt had to put up with. Somehow Pel didn't think he appreciated being called a rabid wolf boy. He found it fucking hilarious though.
Grandmother had a small side tent set up on the end of the row of cages. She told fortunes for donations only. Never a fee, it wasn't proper to ask for a set fee. Yet some nights, they made more money from her donations, than both shows put together. It always amazed them all how much naturals were willing to pay for a glimpse of their future.
Tonight was a good night, Grandmother thought as she sat in her high backed chair and sipped her tea. It just might be the night they found what they were looking for. She could feel it coming down in her old bones. She didn't have the heart to tell the others what it was. Especially Stephan. He would go over the edge without her there to rein him in. Still, maybe it would be good for him to learn a little self-control. She wouldn't be around forever.
A faint ripple in the air around her made her sigh. She gently put her tea cup back on it's saucer and picked up the old tarot deck. The deck had been her mother's though nobody would believe that she'd had one. It was so long ago, that she wondered sometimes too. So, tonight was the night. Well, so be it. Who was she to fight fate? She glanced at the old burl wood box that rested next to her cup. She would miss it, and all of her friends, but she looked forward to what would come next. She didn't know what it would be, but the thought of something new after all these years made her almost as giddy as that chit Dani when Pel got within ten feet of her.
The tall blond paid the redneck at the first trailer for herself and her three girlfriends. It had been Haley's idea to come out here and for the life of her, Annie couldn't understand why. She'd never been one to go for these kinds of things. Haley and Sammy and Lisa had practically had to drag her into the car when they'd clocked out that afternoon. It was a thirty minute drive from town to the campground. She hadn't been all the way out here since she was a kid. It didn't look any different. Except for the trailers and lights. And the carnies and freaks of course.
Sammy flipped her long brown hair and grabbed Annie by the hand. "Come on Annie, it'll be fun." She half dragged Annie toward the big tent. The others followed close, laughing at Sammy's childlike eagerness. She had way too much energy for someone twenty five years old.
The flap of the tent billowed in the evening breeze. Annie could see the show was just starting. She could make out several clowns of all sizes running around the dirt floor of the tent. In and out of the crowd and generally making asses of themselves as they were supposed to. Clowns had never been her thing. She pulled back on Sammy's grip and dug in her heels. The breeze caught her attention and she followed it's direction with a quick turn of her head. The little beat up tent behind the big one caught her eye. She turned to Lisa who stood curling her copper curls between two fingers and crushing a cigarette out in the dirt with one stiletto clad foot. "You guys go on in. I'll be there in a minute."
Sammy dropped her wrist and shrugged, “suit yourself". She flipped her chestnut tresses again and ducked under the open flap. Haley followed Sammy while Lisa hung back. "You sure Annie?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. You know I don't like clowns." She tried a halfhearted smile. She'd never tell anybody why she hated clowns. She heard other people say they were afraid of clowns. She wasn't afraid, she hated them. Lisa raised her shoulders and dropped them in a "whatever" way and headed into the big tent.
Annie turned back to the little tent. There was a small, gray haired woman standing in front of the tent. She raised a hand and waved to Annie like they were old friends. Then she raised the flap and went inside. Annie could see the warm glow of candles from where she stood. It took her all of a heartbeat to make the decision between pretending to like the clowns, or finding out who the old woman was. She covered the ten paces to the tent in a couple of breathes and ducked under the flap.
The interior of the tent had been painted. It showed scenes from other times, on other continents. Beautiful murals of fantastic creatures and lush forests. Annie felt like she'd stepped out of her own life and into somewhere else. Somewhere darker, more sensual. Somewhere very old, very primal, and yet, she was more comfortable than she'd been in years. She sighed and turned her attention to the small figure in the high backed chair.
"Welcome child. Please sit down. Would you like me to read the cards for you? I can tell you your past, present or future. Perhaps there is a question you need answered? I can consult the cards and see if there is an answer to be had."
Annie's eyes rested on the well-worn tarot deck on the table. An intricate pattern of Celtic knots wove across the back of the cards. If she looked hard enough, Annie swore she could see something moving in and out of the knots. She blinked and it was gone.
"N-no, I don't think so." Annie felt light headed, like she'd had too much to drink. Except she hadn't drank in years. She hated the loss of control with alcohol. She couldn't ever lose control. It was never good to let people see too much of the real person under the mask. That's how they got to you. Let them see your weaknesses, and they had you. They could make you do anything. Just ask her dad. He'd known just how to manipulate her.
Grandmother saw the girl start to sway. This was not good. She had to be stronger than this. Something wasn't right. She rose from her chair and led the girl to the one that sat opposite hers at the table. "Please child, you look like you could use a rest. You've been running a long time haven't you? Rest for a minute."
Annie sank onto the wooden chair. What did the old woman mean? She hadn't been running anywhere. She laid her head against her arm on the shabby table cloth. Maybe she could rest for just a minute. Just until the air stopped spinning.
The night was half over and Peloquin was already more than ready to get out of the damn steel cage. He paced back and forth and strained against the chains whenever some silly natural got up the nerve to get a little too close to the bars. Grandmother said, "put on a good show. Scare 'em a little. That's what they come for." She didn't know how close he came every night to giving them more than a little scare. Some nights it was all he could do to fight the beast inside him. It wanted meat dammit! He could feel the hunger rise every night.
Tonight it seemed worse than ever. He saw the three women walking towards the row of cages. He could smell them from fifty yards. Innocents. Especially the brunette. She smelled like chocolate and musk. The beasts roared in his head. Without thinking, he pulled a little harder against the chains than he should. The bolts in the floor of the cage groaned under the pressure. He could almost reach her. She stepped so close to the bars, so secure in her innocent belief that the chains were real. Her wide eyes took in the monster in front of her. Wonder tinged with fear, and underneath it, the sexual heat that Peloquin's Nightbreed Gifts stirred in his prey.
If her friends didn't drag her away now, she would be dinner, and the old lady be damned. The red head seemed to sense that something wasn't right. She coughed and grabbed the brunette by the arm. "Come on Sammy. Let's go find Annie."
Peloquin growled and tested the chains again as the red head pulled the brunette out of reach. They walked away arm in arm with the shorter blond that was with them. So close! He growled again and leaned back against the back of the cage. The naturals had better clear out soon. And he hoped Dani was up to a rough night because he had a feeling she was in for one.
Stephan watched the three women walk away through wolf eyes. He too could smell them. Like delicacies in one of those fine restaurants he'd heard about. But where Pel had homed in on the brunette, Stephan had his eye on the fiery one. She reminded him of the women of the tribe of naturals in his home forests of the past. Copper curls and pale freckled skin sweating in the wane moonlight as he fucked them while his pack mates ate the men. The women's screams of ecstasy drowning out the terror of the men. Her kind would always go for the beasts. It might be a few hundred years later, but that kind of stock didn't change. He raised his muzzle and scented her again. Marking the trail. He'd find her after they were done tonight. He didn't give a damn what Grandmother said. He'd been good for too long. She was just too tasty to pass up.
The performance went off without a hitch. A good time was had by all the naturals and Daryl had enough money from this one night to get them new tires for two of the trailers, and maybe a pint of something for himself. He had a good working relationship with old J.D. Maybe he'd see if he could slip a pint in under Grandmother's nose. It wouldn't be the first time. He pulled the lid of the cash box open and began counting the night's haul. He looked up when a small shadow fell across the table. Grandmother stood there.
"Daryl, I need you to do something for me. You know I don't like to ask you to do it. But you see those three young ladies over there?" She stuck a bony finger out towards Sammy, Haley and Lisa where they stood talking to Dani. Explaining that they couldn't find their other friend. "I need you to make them forget that their friend was ever with them tonight. In fact, it might be a good idea if you made them forget her all together."
That last remark took Daryl by surprise. Grandmother never asked him to mind wipe a natural. She knew how much he hated doing it. It reminded him too much of where she'd found him. Chained in the back room of a dirty little pawn shop, being used to mind rape naturals for money. His keepers would make him tear some one's mind apart to get all their dirty secrets, and then wipe their memory that it had ever happened. Just so they could black mail the poor stiff later. But nobody could wipe his memories. Too many dirty, filthy naturals' secrets were forever etched into his head.
"Why? I don't wanna." He didn't go against Grandmother, but he couldn't do it. Not to those pretty girls. What had they ever done to nobody? He shuffled his feet under the table and fiddled with the coins in the cash box. Anything to keep from looking Grandmother in the eyes. He couldn't ever deny her anything if he looked her in the eye. She had that way about her.
Grandmother sighed. She was afraid he'd say that. "Daryl, look at me." She stepped forward and laid her hand over his on the table. "Please? It's very important to me."
That did it. Daryl looked up into her watery blue eyes and caved. She'd done it again. He'd do it, but he wouldn't like it. He never did. He pushed back his chair and stood up. He closed and locked the cash box and stuffed it under the stack of old magazines in the basket next to the table. He picked up the basket and dropped it just inside the door of the trailer as he walked past.
"Oh Daryl, thank God." Dani was relieved to see anybody that might get these girls off her back. She had plans, and they didn't include listening to these three whine about a fourth girl being missing. She saw Peloquin stalk across the yard to his trailer. He looked pissed, or hungry. Either way, it made her wet just thinking about it. "These girls say they're missing their friend."
"She came in with us." Sammy turned to look up into Daryl's near black eyes. "Annie, she's the one who paid you for us when we came in." Sammy tried to flash him a smile but he could see the worry in her eyes. Maybe it would be a good thing to make her forget her friend. He didn't like the worry lines on this one's pretty face. The other one, the one with the bright red hair, she looked like she could tear someone apart. The little one with the yellow hair just kind of stood there. Worried, but unsure what she could do. He liked her the best. The quite ones were always nice to him.
"I don't remember miss. I see a lot of people when I take the money." Daryl turned and touched her hand. She smelled like chocolate. The pretty little one took a step forward and smiled up at him. She must have found her courage.
"It's ok if you don't remember her, or us. But maybe you could help us look for her?" Her smile widened, blinding him for a second. She offered him her hand and it was more than he had hoped for. He touched the back of her hand and she too stood there, looking up into his face with wide eyes.
The red head was a smart one though. "Hey, what's going on here?" she stepped up in his face, pushing the smaller blond back a step. "What'd you do to them?" She reached up to grab his collar. It was her mistake as his hand closed over her wrist. Now he stepped back and dropped her wrist. Three pretty faces looked up at him with wide blank eyes.
For just a second he looked down longingly at the little blond. He could have had some fun with her. He could have made her believe anything. Even that she was his. So many games he could play with her. But Grandmother wanted them gone.
He took a second to look deep into the eyes of the brunette. He planted the memories like Grandmother wanted. Erasing any trace of the tall blond from her memory. He did the same to the red head. But when he came to the little one, he hesitated. Why couldn't he keep this one? He could erase her from their memories too. Just this once, use his curse for himself.
Dani broke his thoughts. "Uhhh, Daryl? what's going on? Why'd you trance 'em? You know Grandmother doesn't like it." She'd never seen Daryl use his gifts. It was creepy the way the three girls stood there. Eyes blank and staring up at him like there was nobody home. And the way he was looking at the short blond girl was even creepier. She'd seen that look before. In Stephan's eyes when he looked at her. She shivered and crossed her arms over her chest. It wasn't cold tonight, but she felt a chill all the same.
"Grandmother told me to do it." Daryl said as he gave in and erased the little blonde’s memory too. Maybe someday he'd do it. He'd find one that looked at him like Dani looked at Pel and he'd keep that one.
Daryl led the girls back to the gate and released them from their trance. They woke to him ushering them past his table and trailer. He mumbled something about "thanks for coming." and near shoved the red head in the direction of their car. She shook her head as if to clear it and then linked arms with the brunette, heading for the gray sedan. The little blond looked up at him like she wanted to say something, then thought better of it and caught up to her friends.
Daryl turned back to see Grandmother standing in the opening of her tent. She waved at him and turned her back to go inside. His shoulders drooped under their own weight. He was really gonna miss that little one. Someday....
Stephan stood, leaning against the RV and watched the red head leave with the others. He'd seen what Daryl did. A handy trick that. He wished he could figure out a way to get Daryl to do that to Dani. He could make her choose Stephan instead of Peloquin. It didn't really matter though. He'd have her anyway. Let her fight him. It made him hard just thinking about her under him, every tight little muscle fighting him. Let her claw and bite. It would do no good. He'd push so deep inside her she'd forget all about "lizard" boy.
Speaking of the devil, Peloquin slammed open the door of his trailer and stood there, arms crossed, and leaned against the door jam in the dim light. Glaring at Stephan, while waiting for Dani to finish up. One of these nights the mutt was gonna get too big for his britches and try something with Dani. Pel could smell it from here. Stephan sniffed around Dani's ass like a lap dog. Fuck him. No, better idea. He whistled at Dani. He'd fuck her instead.
Dani heard Pel whistle at her. Any other girl might get pissed at that. She thought it was funny. If it made him feel better to think he was in control, well so what? She'd give him what he wanted, only because she got her's too.
She turned away from Daryl and near ran the fifteen feet to Pel's trailer. She hopped up the steps and threw herself at him, literally. Pel stuck out an arm to grab the door while catching her with the other one. Hunger and pure sex shined in his dark eyes. Finally! He growled and slammed the door closed.
Stephan watched Dani make a fool of herself and growled. Even a bitch in heat had more control than she did. He pawed the ground with one booted foot and thought about interrupting the laughter and growls he could hear from across the clearing. Fuck 'em both!
He turned back to the RV just in time to see Daryl duck into Grandmother's tent. Now why in the hell was there still light coming from it? Grandmother should have been in the RV already. Half asleep and sipping her nightly tea.
Dammit! He wanted to sneak off after that red head and he couldn't do it with the tattle tale still up. Daryl would make damn sure he never had any fun if he could help it. The boy needed to get laid in the worst way. It might improve his disposition.
He covered the distance between the RV and the tent in a few long strides. He pushed the tent slit out of his way and stepped inside. He stopped short at the scene that played out in front of him.
Grandmother sat sprawled on the floor, blood pouring from her nose and mouth. She was glaring up at the tall blond that had come in with the red head and the others. She stood back against the tent wall, looking like a cornered hare. He could smell the fear and adrenaline rolling off of her. It made his already half hard dick jump. The wolf inside him strained to get out. It knew the smell of prey, and it was damn tired of raw steaks. It wanted out, to rip and tear, and fuck, and it didn't matter what order he did it in either.
“What the hell is going on?” He took a step toward the blonde, intending to snatch her up by the hair. Grandmother’s weak voice stopped him dead. “It’s alright Stephan.” He’d never heard her sound like that, like she was talking from far away. “It’s my own damned fault.” Now that sounded more like Grandmother, but it didn’t ease his mind any, or set the wolf inside him at bay.
He looked down to see her still sitting on the floor, but at least she wasn’t all sprawled out like someone had just sucker punched her. Her gray hair was loose from it’s usual braid and it fell around her like spun silver. The wolf in him cringed at the thought. Silver was the only thing that he hated more than Peloquin. It wouldn’t kill him, he was too old for that now. But that didn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt like hell to get shot or stabbed with it.
“Get Annie something to drink. Something cold, and stiff, I think she needs it. Daryl, help me up. These old bones just don’t bend some ways anymore.” She held up a frail hand to Daryl. He helped her stand and gently sit back in her chair.
Annie still stood against the far wall, but her look of sheer terror had been replaced by half wonder, half curiosity. She looked like a pup that had seen it’s first snow. At least that’s what Stephan thought. He watched Daryl run out to get the drink. He turned and wrapped a huge hand around the girls arm. He had to half drag her back to the other chair. It was that, or let her slide down the tent wall, and he didn’t feel like picking her up. She sank into the chair without seeing him. She just sat there, staring at Grandmother like she’d grown a second head. He glanced over at Grandmother, just to check. Around here, you never knew.
She was sitting as straight in her high-backed chair as ever. She had pulled a lacy handkerchief from somewhere and was busy cleaning the blood off of her face. The smell was not helping his situation at all.
“Now then, Stephan as you can see we’re just fine. So if you’d be a dear and go back outside, I’d appreciate it.” She never took that tone with him. What the hell? He was so stunned that he actually did it.
The air outside had turned chill. Late summers in the North could do that. Hot as hell till the sun went down. He made the mistake of looking across the campground. The light was still on in Pel’s trailer, but it was quiet. He got two steps away when he heard a blood chilling scream from inside the tent. He charged back inside, only to find Grandmother slumped over in her chair, dead, and Annie standing over the body.
She turned to him and her eyes had gone white, so had her hair. She clutched Grandmother’s old wooden box like a babe to her chest and screamed again, backing away from him. He returned the favor and backed slowly out of the tent, nearly on top of Peloquin. Everybody had come running at the sound of screaming. Pel and Dani were barely clothed and Daryl looked like he’d taken the opportunity to crawl inside his bottle. The others fanned out in confusion. Peloquin snatched at his collar, “what the fuck is going on? What did you do this time you son of a bitch.” Now was not the time, but he didn’t give a shit.
Stephan spun and planted a huge right fist against Pel’s jaw. Peloquin went sprawling backwards, knocking Dani out of the way. Finally! Pel had been waiting for his chance to pound the mutt for weeks. He came back at him hard and low. They both went down in the dirt outside the tent. Grappling like the animals they were. Claws came out on both sides. A few well-placed hits and both were bleeding heavily. Nobody got in the way. It would have been suicide.
Meanwhile, Dani stood up and side stepped the two combatants. She knew better than to step between them. She was more worried about Grandmother. She held the flap of the tent back and peered into the gloom. A pair of glowing white eyes stared back. All but one candle had been blown out. The missing girl, Annie, sat in Grandmother’s chair, clutching the tarot deck in one hand and the old wood box in the other. Grandmother’s body had been shoved carelessly into a heap at her feet.
Annie’s hair had gone snow white. Her skin was near translucent. She slowly turned her white eyes on Dani. It made a chill run up Dani’s spine. “Uh… Annie?” Dani hesitated, and then entered the tent.
“Annie is not here. “ The voice that came from Annie’s throat was deep, masculine, and like a dream. “I am The Destroyer. I give and I take away. Grandmother has served her purpose. She found My Voice so that I could once again talk to My Tribes. My Voice has no need of her eyes, for all they see now is Me. Lead her out among my Tribes. Let them hear the will of their God.”
Dani stood stunned for a second. How? She shook with fear and wonder. She held out her hand and Annie placed a frail looking one in it. She led the girl out of the tent. Peloquin and Stephan had both half shifted. Neither was standing by anything other than pure damned stubbornness. Annie’s/ Baphomet’s Voice boomed out over everyone.
“Hear Me Tribes of The Moon.” Pel and Stephan stopped dead in their tracks. Bloody and torn clothes hung across both chests and fell in shreds from ripped thighs. Claws were extended, intent on ripping flesh from bone. Neither willing to give in until the other was dead.
“What the hell?” It was Stephan. He’d never heard that voice before. But Peloquin had. He knew that Voice all too well. He immediately dropped to his knees. That voice could only mean one thing. Boone wasn’t far behind. It was about damn time. He was done here anyway. The voice continued.
“The Savior is coming to lead you to a new home. You will continue to travel. Find your brothers and sisters. Bring the Tribes together and wait for The Savior. This is MY WILL.” The last two words vibrated across the clearing, shaking the trees to the roots and rolling away like thunder. Annie crumbled against Dani, weak from the shear strength of Baphomet’s presence inside her. When she looked up at Dani, her eyes had ceased to glow, but she was still blind. She whimpered and hid her face against Dani’s chest. Dani sank to the ground with her. Annie still clutched the wooden box tightly.
“Annie, give me the box.” Dani tried to take it from her. Annie shook her head vehemently. “Annie, you need to rest. I can hold the box for you. It’s alright.” Annie shook her head again. Dani looked over helplessly at Peloquin.
Pel shoved to his feet and past Stephan. He kneeled in the dirt beside the two women. “Annie. Dani is right. You need to rest.” He was no good at trying to comfort anybody. Annie turned her head away from Dani’s chest. Her dead white eyes seemed to see right through him. To his complete surprise, she handed him the box.
“You have to give this to Cabal. He will know what to do with it.” She turned back to Dani. “You must stay with us. Your work is not done. The Tribes will need friends that are Naturals to go where we cannot when the time comes.” She stood with Pel’s help and turned her gaze on Stephan. “You have a choice to make. Help us gather the Tribes, or leave here now. Neither Baphomet nor I have any time to waste on petty crap.”
She sounded just like Grandmother. For a minute Stephan actually considered her offer. Then he remembered the scent of that red head. No, he didn’t think he’d be staying. He wanted open forests and the Hunt. Annie nodded at the decision in his eyes. “So be it. Go in peace.” And she turned and strode back into the tent dismissing him for eternity.
Dani caught the look in Peloquin’s eyes too. She sighed. She should have known she couldn’t hold him forever. He had to follow Cabal. It was his destiny, not hers. She would stay with the side show. Somebody had to keep these ‘Breed in line, and she was just to Natural to do it. She followed Annie back into the tent. Grandmother would get a proper burial and they would head out in the morning. They would find the Tribes and bring them to Cabal. And maybe when the time came, Peloquin would keep his promise and she would never have to worry about having a Family again.
***This story is based on the world created by Clive Barker in Cabal and the movie, Nightbreed. That world and his characters remain his exclusive copyright, all other material in this story is mine, and as such remains copyright Tabz Jones all rights reserved. This work may not be duplicated in anyway without express written permission from me. ***