The SIS team has dealt with all sorts of things that go bump in the night–vampires, zombies, even demons. But not everything odd or occult walks or breathes. The CIA calls on SIS leader John Benchley to alert him to a strange set of occurrences around an abandoned house in Baltimore. Investigating, the SIS team stumbles on to something unprecedented and deadly. And not every SIS member gets away from their encounters unscathed.
Life continues to go on–even around vampires, mad scientists and demons. SIS FBI liaison Gabrielle Dichenz, who is the lover of both John Benchley and Evan Garrett, John’s boyfriend, is coming to terms with her new life. Recovering from her past with an abusive ex means looking closely at her present. Evan’s waiting patiently to integrate both of his lovers into his wider life. John, on the other hand, isn’t the sort of personality who takes well to waiting. There’s something really good growing between the three of them. Gabrielle just has to decide whether to truly grab for the brass ring or let her past dictate the shape of her future.
John placed a hand on the doorknob. He already had a slightly creepy feeling about this place and he wondered if it had to with the reputed ley lines that Fiona had indicated might be beneath the house. The knob twisted with moderate ease and he pushed the door open. “No need to break out the lock picks.”
There were signs of scuffed footprints through the dust and dirt in the foyer and he stood motionless for a moment just looking inside.
“Are we going in or what?” asked Todd.
“Yeah, yeah. Todd, you and Cecelia check upstairs. Rich, circle around back and see if there’s a door there. Evan and I will start on this floor.
There was a murmur of assent from the team members, and they began to head in separate directions. Evan was left standing a few feet behind John.
“Is it just me or does this place kind of make your skin crawl?” asked Evan.
John glanced back at him. “No, it’s not just you. Any thoughts as to why?”
Evan stepped in the direction of the front room and stood studying the decorative molding above the door. “Take a look at the corners,” he said pointing to the square blocks topping the corners. “Those look like Thelemic stars to me.” He pointed to the two overlapping chevron’s carved into the wood. It was all stained the same color and the symbols were not immediately apparent.
“Thelemic… that ritual magic stuff right?”
“Not just ritual, more along the lines of ceremonial, and more specifically utilized heavily by the Crowley crowd. I think theremight be more than one version of the stars, but I don’t know offhand what the differences might indicate.”
“Okay this definitely leans in the direction of supporting some of last few things that Fiona found. You take the right hand rooms as we move toward the back of the house and I’ll take the left. It should only take us a few minutes to go through,” said John.
Evan walked into the dimly lit room near the back of the house. It had one window, much smudged and cobwebbed that let some daylight in. Along the wall was a dusty broken chair, a fabric duffle bag and a pair of beer cans. He turned around to glance at the walls behind him, near the door. On the right hand side of the door hung a long narrow mirror in a heavy, dark, carved frame. He was standing at a sharp angle to it and couldn’t see his own reflection. Heading toward the duffle bag, he glanced at the mirror again. His image was wavy, distorted and he idly wondered how old the glass was. Something drew his eye.
In the reflection Evan saw a man behind him, and he whirled around to face the stranger. Gabrielle’s body was sprawled limply on the floor. Tom Garner, Brie’s psycho ex-boyfriend, was kneeling beside her, a knife in his hand, stabbing her again and again. Evan screamed, “NO!” He tackled the man and knocked him backward to the floor.
As John reached the back door and met Rich in the narrow kitchen, he wondered if Evan had found anything. “Go check upstairs and see if Todd and Cecelia need any help. I wonder of this place has a basement or just a crawl space. Look for a door that goes down,” he said to Rich.
John backtracked and veered into the very abbreviated hallway that separated two of the rear rooms. He glanced into the left hand one, empty, unless you counted dust and a squashed soda can.
“Yo, Evan. Find anything?” he called out. He looked into the right hand one. Evan was standing motionless, staring into an empty corner, his hand outstretched. John started toward him. “Ev’?”
Suddenly Evan lunged at him, screaming. They went down in a tangle. Evan’s hands wrapped around John’s throat, and he began banging John’s head on the edge of the door frame. The first blow stunned John and he flailed helplessly against the floor. The second was a bolt of agony through the back of his head. He could barely breathe, Evan’s hands were wrapped so tightly around his throat. The blows continued and consciousness was fading into blackness. Evan was still screaming at him, “No! NO! You killed her! Oh God you killed her!”
A.R. Moler is a chemistry professor at a community college, a homeschooling mom and an avid science fiction fan. She is a devotee of first hand research for her writing whenever possible and to this end has – learned to fire a handgun, been rappelling, ridden with both EMS and the police, flown a helicopter, bought a motorcycle and learned to ride it. She has traveled to nearly all the places where her stories are set and taken hundreds of photos for documentation. She has been writing since her high school years, but only recently has become published. She recently launched a website for her writing http://armoler.com
Her blog is www.playdohstoichiometry.blogspot.com and is entitled Playdoh, Legos and Stoichiometry. When asked why such a name for her blog, she commented that it reflects 3 of the many phases of her life. Her daughter has been an avid playdoh artist, her son owns enough Legos is fill a 55-gallon drum and the stoichiometry–one of the most challenging topics to many chemistry students. Her husband’s only contribution to chemistry is brewing beer.