Chapter 8

For the second time Harvey, or as he known here Hamee, met with the strange old name named Kaatib.

“Okay now we really get to the meat of the subject,” said Kaatib.

“Uh, what do you mean?  What did I read last time?” asked a confused Hamee sitting on top of his desk.

As a school teacher to his pupil the old man explained, “That was just the preliminary in order to give you a background for tonight.  You probably won’t even meet the vampire.  I just wanted you to read about it in case you ran into it in your travels.  So let’s review before you start.”

Harvey groaned red eyes flaming.

“Who is Algharoob?” asked Kaatib.

“Well, he is a demon personified by various creatures and ideas throughout human history.  He is most popularly known and most likes the idea of being a vampire.”

“Yes, it does fit the mortal’s idea of a vampire well, “consented Kaatib, “Continue.”

“He-”

“It,” corrected the teacher.

“It settled in this reality for reasons unknown and picked Earth as his-its favorite hunting ground despite being a veteran of many other realities,” Hamee stopped and looked questionly at Kaatib inquiring, “Why is there so little on the Uprising, and why did Algharoob settle here?”

Kaatib looked helpless.  As a scribe, he was supposed to have all the information, but he just wasn’t that old.

“The Uprising was so long ago.  What the mortals of this reality got was passed down.  Filtered down you could say, the information being so old.  As you know time passes differently here than in Harvey and his species’ reality.  It is more fluid, sometimes faster or slower.  Anyway, what the mortals got, they made up into their stories making it their own however skewed it may be.  There is little record of that event here in the human collective unconscious because they being so young.”

“So there are other libraries?” asked Hamee.

“Of course! But I wouldn’t necessarily call them libraries, more repositories of information.  It doesn’t necessarily mean a building with books,” said Kaatib now reclining on a chair that had appeared.

“Well, can’t you go to them?”

“I wish,” he said ashamed, “it’s only…it’s only, I am confined here.”

“Why?”

As to your second question,” Kaatib replied ignoring the most recent one, “Why he settled here.  I don’t know that either.  The information is gone, and before you interrupt me, trust me when I say, it’s gone.  Its disappearance had dirty fingerprints, big dirty fingerprints.  That’s enough for now.  We’re off topic—to the ether.  Tell me what you know.”

“It was hard to understand,” Hamee said.

“Oh! But you must, how else do you expect to get out of here?” Kaatib exclaimed and then noticing the shocked look on his face, “What you thought you were staying on Harvey’s Earth? He is not there.”

“It, not he,” said Hamee smugly.

“Wrong again.  I said he and meant he.  Why do you think we are still talking about Algharoob?  I said we were finished discussing it,” replied Kaatib.

Hamee clenched the table splintering wood and recited, “The ether is the substance of life itself.  It can’t be consumed by us.  It makes up every and all realities, and they sit upon themselves sometimes fitting together sometimes not.  It is like a jigsaw puzzle in multiple dimensions.  If you have the strength and training, and apparently permission, you can travel through them at will.  All the rules are different for each, but the books describing these realities don’t exist here, at least not in the ones you gave me.”

“Excellent, a few more questions,” said Kaatib, “So why when you come here does your body remain in its reality in a resting state?”

“Because if I were to enter the either completely, I might not make it back out.  I mean Harvey wouldn’t, and if he did, then it would not be without significant changes which…” Hamee trailed off puzzle pieces clicking together, “Well I’ll be damned.”

“Let’s hope not,” Kaatib said in all seriousness, “Hell is not fun.”

Shooting him a look Hamee continued, “No, the kid in the fire.  He passed right through me, and I’ve been changing.”

“What?!!  Why didn’t you tell me?” screamed Kaatib veins bulging on his pale forehead.

“Tell you what?” Hamee said temper rising.

“About the boy?  Don’t you realized what-I mean who that was? That is who you’re supposed to protect!  At least that is what you’ve done all the years before!  Until it gets passed to some human oaf like you!”

“Hey!” yelled Hamee his hackles up, “I wasn’t asked about this job and a lot seems to be riding on your ability to educate me, so the blame is yours!”

Hamee stood up.

“Where are you going?” asked Kaatib.

“To get the boy,” he replied.

“No, you can’t.  Your training is not finished.  You’ll be useless.”

When Hamee hesitated, Kaatib said icily, “Sit down.”

Hamee bowing to the authority of knowledge obeyed.

“Good let’s talk about some bigger fish than a runty old vampire demon.”

Algharoob stood up and felt the breeze flutter its garments.  The niqab tickled his face as it moved resting on the bridge of his nose and held by sting tied around the back of his head.  It sighed.  Home never felt so good.  Kelly’s body lay motionless in a closest back in the reality where her particular Earth existed.  It strode away from the portal to its domain, a large paneled oak door embossed with circular metal designs, supported by a large stone rampart with twin flanking towers.  The mortals he terrorized had at least given it a nice idea for a home.  However, the rest of the castle didn’t play along with that reality’s rules.  It bent at funny angles, some didn’t even look like a castle, and parts would appear and disappear as different areas synced in and out of time.

The creature was a sight to behold finally existing in its true state since leaving the pharaoh so many days ago. Its talon feet dug into the ether as it strode up through the sky leaving the ground behind.  The breeze here buffeted its loose shirt held tightly at the waist with a thick belt made of human skin, followed by loose gray pants cinched at the calf.  Its long spindly fingers readjusted its black silky niqab.  The monster’s face was obstructed by the cloth hiding everything except its black eyes.  The eyes were old and deep, pools of pain and agony.  Its snake back hair glistened and ruffled as it stopped on a cloud and faced the wind.

Algharoob lets it figure go a little fuzzy spreading its arms and just absorbed.  It felt a glow coming from above and behind its left ear and one just past its fingertips. 

“That’s odd,” it thought, “We didn’t expect two.”

As is reached out to touch the one at its fingertips, it stopped.  Its ears quivered upon hearing its name.  Adjusting its head, it listened to the whisper of breath from whence it came.  Then it smiled, its true teeth masked behind the graceful curtain of its silk niqab.

The lights flickered in the library, both Kaatib and Hamee looked up noticing nothing but the swirling dust under the high ceiling lights until there was a bang in a far away row.

“There should be no one else here,” said Kaatib worriedly.

“I’ll check it out,” Hamee replied.

“No, we go together. You won’t know what it is.”

In grudging acknowledgement again, Hamee waited for the old man.  They slowly made their way down the numerous rows.  The shelves seemed to lean into them, the breath of dust, knowledge, and time all of the sudden oppressive. 

“It is best to stay together,” Kaatib advised, “I’ve read too many horror stories, in fact, seen too many things like them too, to know that to separate is to admit defeat.”

A book to their left in the row they were just passing fell to the ground falling open.  It did nothing more than just lay their waiting to be picked up, but nothing had ever seemed so sinister.  Hamee’s eyes picked out four spindly fingers curling around the upper edge of the bookshelf.

“Hamee don’t.” Kaatib muttered seeing the fingers as well.

Reluctantly Hamee relented, his eyes flaming enough for the fire to escape his eye sockets and burn harmlessly on his plated forehead.

“Wait for it.  Whatever it is, it will come to us,” whispered Kaatib.

The old man was right.  From three rows up, a clawed foot snaked out followed by a lithe body and veiled face.

“Hamee run.  This is not your fight, nor mine either.  Save your strength for him.  That is your duty: protect the one from many,” whispered Kaatib. 

“Like hell, this isn’t my fight.”

“Trust me, this shaetan has more tricks up its sleeve than you are prepared to handle.  Go.  Quest.”

With that Hamee turned and ran, plated feet banging down the hall, but the old man who had gripped his hand until that moment let go.  Hamee slowed to turn.

“Go,” Kaatib commanded, “it is my time and my duty.  I know my role.”

Hamee ran and did not turn to see Kaatib lifted by his shoulders and brought within inches of Algharoob’s face.

Kaatib, with his last ounce of bravery stated, “Go tell your master.  It is too late.  He knows.”

Algharoob his and leaned in closer the lips of both men barely separated by the thin layer of cloth and lied through his black teeth, “I serve no master.”

Kaatib’s eyes widened and he violently jerked back and turned his head yelling at the retreating figure, “Hamee! You’re after the wrong creature!  Search for Iago! Iaagooo!”

Anything else, Kaatib planned on saying was cut off Algharoob’s mutterings.  Twisting words coiled within it into a sentence of death.  The words left its mouth and wrapped themselves as poisonous snakes around Kaatib’s body ready to strike.  Kaatib merely stared transfixed in Algharoob’s grip fascinated to be seeing the destruction of his soul, until he saw nothing more.  His body slumped in Algharoob’s hands as the ghost of a vapor, his soul, whispered out of his mouth. 

As he ran, Hamee looked for an exit chest heaving, “Where is it? Where is it?!!”

He was beginning to panic.  If Kaatib said he couldn’t handle it, then he couldn’t handle it.  He passed row after row of endless dead trees but none of them helped him now.  Hamee passed one row, skidded to a halt, and backtracked.  It was déjà vu.  Singing again!  He followed it at a jog and then at a run as titles flashed past him.  He saw out of the corner of his eye a figure flying next to him on the other shelf matching his pace and knew is was the creature.  It was waiting, mocking him.

“I need a wall,” Hamee thought.

One appeared and he crashed right through his arms crossed just as the singing reached a crescendo, and he woke up from his meditation safe for now, but he never heard Kaatib’s last words.

Some hundred miles away Cassius’s body slumped off the cushion and thudded to the floor.  It was the loudest sound in that room since Cassius had talked to the previous owner in it when buying the house from him many years previous.  No one would find his body.

The men crept up to the large house in silence just after midnight.  They were all dressed in black with stockings over their head obscuring their faces.  Signaling with his hand Earl motioned two of the six go around to the right and another two to the left.  Okay came the silent reply from the men who used the corresponding hand signals.  They approached the house while four cars sat at the end of the long driveway.  Three were empty but the fourth held Algharoob, a driver, and Lewis flanked by two beefy men.

The radio in the driver’s hand crackled with a whisper, “Boss we’re in position.”

Algharoob nodded and the driver replied, “She’s coming now.”

“Leave us with the boy for a minute,” said Algharoob.

The three men got out as Lewis cowered in the backseat.  It turned around to look beadily at him.

“This is what we are going to do.  We are going to go knock at your door.  We will kill whoever answers it, and then our men will storm the house and kill all inside,” it said with a cool smile.

“No!” gasped Lewis lunging forward.

“Oh? Is this the me next we talked about earlier?” it said easily grabbing him and pulling his body awkwardly so that it wedged in between the two front seats.

“Tell me, have you ever been kissed?” it asked gripping his head tightly and turning it so Lewis was forced to look up into its eyes.

As Algharoob bent down, Lewis began screaming.  The three men outside turned away from the car not wanting to look.  Then the windshield spattered with blood from inside.

“Glad I’m not driving this car home,” said Tyrone.

“Dammit,” Henry grunted kicking at some pebbles on the road because it was his car.

The door opened and the small figure made its way up the long driveway.  The knock on the door woke Rose whose room was on the first floor.

“What in the cat hair?” she grumbled, “Who’s calling this late?”

Rose achingly made her way to the door shuffling along in her slippers.  She opened the door and stared openmouthed at the woman who stood before her.  She was covered in what looked like blood.  It dripped off her chin and stained the front of her grey t-shirt.  When she waved her hands blood flicked onto Rose’s face and glasses.

“Hey Gran!” it said heartily revealing blood stained teeth, “Guess what I just did.  I ate your grandson.”

Rose’s tear stained eyes, from worry about the disappearance of her grandson, widened, but before she could respond she fell down dead with a cavity where her heart used to be.

Algharoob stood over her gripping her heart and said without remorse, “Sorry.”

It whistled, and the men entered the house by some violent form or another, breaking windows or shooting off locks.  The sounds awakened the rest of the family upstairs. 

Aisha who had been dreaming again was the first to act running to Baybars’ room saying, “They are here for you I know it.  C’mon.”

She led a groggy Baybars to her room and opened a window.  They crawled out onto the roof that held up the screen porch.  Baybars followed her lead as she dangled off the roof and fell rolling to the ground.  None of the men in the house noticed the two fugitives escaping.  They ran to the edge of the property, pushed through the bushes and kept running down the street. 

As they ran, blood pooled in the Brokman house on the stairs, in beds, and in the bathroom as all its occupants lay dead or dying.  Algharoob stood fuming as it realized the one it wanted wasn’t there. 

Bright lights blinded the two fleeing figures as a car rounded the corner.  It was moving quickly towards them.

“Oh no,” said Baybars.

The car screeched to a halt and stopped in front of the two. 

A head poked out the window and a very confused Harvey asked in surprise, “Aisha? Baybars? What are you two doing out here at this time of night?”

The two stood in shock.

“Get in!” he commanded.

In New York, Jason opened his eyes regaining consciousness.  As Baybars opened the door of the car, he fell down clutching his head.  The words ‘Baybars?  Is that you?  Can you hear me?  I’m in New York.  Come rescue me’ echoed madly bouncing around in Baybars’ skull.

2 Comments

  1. wow – bigger fish than Algharoob! And a nice homage to Mr. Horner.

  2. i like to give nods to people who have given me important phrases.


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