Monday, October 3, 2016

Midnight Mist & Moondust - Chapter One

Look for the flash to post every Monday until the end of the month. Fair warning: there are some scenes of dubious consent. If you've read any of my books, you know I don't do rape, but this *is* a Halloween flash. It *is* going to be a bit on the dark side. I *am* going to push the boundaries. 

*Evil cackle.* Bawhahahaha, you've been warned. 

Chapter One
“O dea tenebris mater immortalibus puer tuus fac me sicut renascentur mea lux vestra absorbere liceat mihi locus ad tenebras sicut ex utero immortales filios tuos in ulnis quibus invocaverit te frater. O lunae lumen puer tuus fac me sicut renascentur me duce tenebris sunt i ita erit renatus."
“So what do you think?” Caleb asked as Raleigh finished looking over the printout.
“I think this is insane, that’s what I think.” Raleigh tossed the sheet of paper onto the coffee table. “What language is that, anyhow?”
“Latin, I believe.”
“You believe?” Raleigh rolled his eyes. “So it could be Spanish, as far as you know.”
“It’s not. I can damn well read Spanish, and that’s not it.” Caleb picked up the paper and smoothed out the wrinkles left by Raleigh’s rough handling. “Come on, man, it’ll be fun. The guy at Midnight Mist and Moondust said the spell has to be done under the full moon.”
“Of course it does.” Raleigh scoffed as he picked up the remote and muted the TV. “You’re such an easy mark, you know that, right? This is what comes from reading all those vampire books. And movies. Mustn’t forget the movies. You’re obsessed.”
“Am not.”
“Am too.” Raleigh tossed the remote onto the end table. He grabbed the paper with the spell written on it from Caleb and waved it in the air. “How much did you pay for this crap?”
“Fifty dollars. And gimme that.” Last thing he needed was for his dumbass friend to rip it.
“Unbelievable. Did the guy at least use lube before he screwed you?”
Caleb glared at Raleigh as he laid the spell on the end table next to him. “It’s my money to burn.”
“Hey, the next time you’re in the mood to stick a match to a fifty-dollar bill, please, let me know.” Raleigh stood and stretched. He twisted to the left then the right. “Christ, my back hurts. The morgue was hopping last night.”
Caleb shuddered. “How the hell you stand to work in a place like that is beyond me.”
“And you’re the one who wants to be a vampire.” Raleigh shook his head.
“But you work around dead bodies! The smell, the torn flesh, the lifeless eyes, the—” The thought alone made him want to hurl.
“It’s not all blood and gore, you know. Some people do die quietly in their bed.”
Caleb briskly rubbed his hands up and down his arms. “But they’re dead and… that’s just… just….”
“Just what vampires are—dead bodies.”
“It’s not the same, and you know it.”
“You keep telling yourself that. Speaking of morbid things, are you going to the Halloween costume party at The Edge?”
Caleb was relieved at the change of subject. Raleigh’s job was something he did not like talking about. He was more than willing to talk about their favorite gay nightclub. “Yes. I take it you’re going too?”
“Yeah, I got my costume, so I’m good to go.” Halloween was roughly two weeks away. It fell on a Friday night.
“What are you going as?”
“Pirate. What about you? No, no, let me guess….” Closing his eyes, Raleigh pressed his fingers against his temples. “I’m getting an image… wait, wait. It’s an image of a…” Raleigh opened his eyes and looked at Caleb. “Vampire.”
Grinning, Caleb stood. “Got it in one.”
Raleigh turned the lights off in the den. “Wasn’t hard to guess, believe me. I know you.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Caleb walked with Raleigh down the hallway then stopped in front of his bedroom door. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Good night,” Raleigh said, turning toward his room.
“Night.” Caleb opened his door and slipped into his bedroom, shutting it behind him.
He laid the vampire spell on his desk. He’d debated showing it to Raleigh, and now he wished he’d gone with his first instinct and hadn’t. He knew his best friend would make fun of him, but Caleb couldn’t help himself. He wanted to share what he’d found.
Certain paranormal legends dated back hundreds of years across several different cultures and countries. Why were the myths so persistent if there wasn’t some seed of truth intermixed with the legends?
Odd things happened all the time—things no one could explain. Was it really so far out of the realm of possibilities to believe there might be a creature who drank blood? A creature who could shift into a wolf?
What if the spell worked?
The possibility was as tantalizing as it was frightening. He’d been interested in vampire lore for as long as he could remember. It fascinated him, although the recent rash of sparkling vampire movies left him gritting his teeth. What utter bullshit. Vampires all over the world probably cringed when they saw those movies.
Sighing, he smoothed the paper again. What he hadn’t told Raleigh was that his money bought more than just a spell. Even he wasn’t foolish enough to spend fifty dollars on what basically was nothing more than a sheet of paper with a dead language written on it.
He pulled the necklace out from underneath his shirt. The spell had also included a really cool leather necklace with a pendant. The stone was a deep dark green with spots of red on it. The setting consisted of a skein of bats flittering about the stone. Of course, he hadn’t realized the setting was of bats until he got home.
At first he thought it was just fancy scrollwork. Upon closer inspection he realized the scrollwork was actually bats. One was at the top where the chain attached. There was a bat on each side and two at the bottom clutching the stone. It looked old and kinda creepy. The gothic setting suited Raleigh more than him.
Raleigh was tall, pale, and had straight shoulder-length black hair. He tended to wear all black, wore neat-looking ornate jewelry, and had some the coolest tattoos Caleb had ever seen. Hell, Raleigh even worked in a morgue. If anyone fit the description of a vampire, it was him.
Caleb snorted. Where Raleigh was dark and pale, Caleb was blond and tanned. There was nothing brooding or dark about him. He hardly ever wore black and never got into wearing jewelry. Tattoos were out of the question, as were piercings, since he had a phobia of needles. He was as vanilla as vanilla could get.
But that damn pendant called to him. From the moment Caleb saw it, a yearning stirred deep within him. He had to have the damn thing. He had no idea what the stone was, and the clerk who sold it to him couldn’t be bothered with answering questions since he was texting.
Caleb had seen the owner around earlier, but he’d disappeared or Caleb would’ve asked him about it. Well, maybe not. The guy was fucking sexy, but weird. He looked like he was in his early thirties, had long, wavy dark auburn hair, and aristocratic features. And those light blue eyes of his were capable of freezing a guy to the spot. Beautiful, mysterious eyes that stole his breath and left him shaken. In those eyes Caleb saw an old soul—a soul that had lived through many ages.
There was this vibe he put off that made Caleb’s hair stand on end, but at the same time… drew him in. It was the whole ‘moth versus flame’ thing. He wanted to get closer even as every sense he had shrieked he’d regret it.
Good grief. He really needed to stop reading all those goth vampire novels. Caleb shrugged. The store owner was probably boringly normal, but he was still worthy jerkoff material. Oh well, at least the pendant was cool. He undressed and climbed into bed with his laptop.
After updating his status and yakking with his friends, he clicked over to his favorite gay porn site. So what if it the actors dressed up as vamps? Seeing those long teeth sinking into flesh, listening to the actors moans as they were bitten, seeing their eyes roll in pleasure, did it for him every time.
After he rubbed one out, he cleaned up and got ready for bed.
* * * * *
Friday morning brought clouds and gray skies. Tonight was the full moon and excitement rushed through him. He tossed the sheets off and bounced out of bed. After a quick check of the forecast, he relaxed. Fortunately, there was no chance of rain. Stomach growling, he walked into the kitchen and started breakfast.
Ten minutes later Raleigh stumbled in after him, fixed his coffee, and plopped down at the kitchen table. “Ack.”
“Good morning.” Caleb smirked. One sure way to get Raleigh out of the bed was to walk into the kitchen. Swear to God, it was like he had a built-in radar. Someone in the kitchen equaled cooking, which equaled talking somebody into cooking for Raleigh. “Perfect timing, as usual. Are you hungry?”
Caleb poured himself a cup of coffee. “You want your eggs scrambled?”
“So talkative.” Caleb laughed at Raleigh’s grunt. Raleigh was definitely not a morning person. “Breakfast will be ready in a couple of minutes.”
Once Caleb finished cooking, he set a plate in front of Raleigh, who still wasn’t awake enough to do more than grunt. Caleb fixed his own and sat. Neither spoke as they ate.
“Thanks, man,” Raleigh finally said as he finished cleaning off his plate. “That was good.”
“It speaks!” Caleb laughed at the disgruntled look Raleigh flashed him. “You’re welcome. You got to go in today?”
“Yeah, I’m off at eight tonight.” Raleigh finished off his coffee. “Some of us are getting together and going out after work. You want to join us?”
“Nope, full moon tonight, remember?” Caleb liked the guys Raleigh hung out with, but he had more important things to do.
Raleigh took his plate to the sink and turned on the faucet. “So you’re really going to do this?”
“I sure am.”
Raleigh finished rinsing off his plate and put it in the dishwasher. He fixed another cup of coffee and leaned against the counter. “Just exactly how are you going to read that spell? Last I checked you didn’t read Latin. Or speak it.”
“Ever heard of the dark web?” Caleb wiped his lips and set his napkin by his plate.
Raleigh dropped his coffee mug on the table, the liquid spilling. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I thought you had enough sense not to fuck around with stuff like that. God, what am I saying? You’re the one who bought a spell that’s supposed to turn you into a vampire, for crying out loud.”
“Bite me. I found this thing called ‘spells for dummies’—”
“Spells for dummies’?” Raleigh stood, grabbed a towel to clean up his mess, and then tossed it back on the counter. He sat down again, scowling at Caleb. “Jesus Christ, Caleb.”
“It’ll read off obscure language spells. Last thing I want to do is turn myself into a viper instead of a vampire.”
“Oh well, God forbid.” Raleigh shook his head. “Yeah, I can totally see where that would be a bummer.”
“It’ll translate all the dead languages for just $9.99.”
“Most definitely a bargain when you consider how much you’d stand to lose if you no longer had legs and all the pants in your wardrobe went to waste. One of us has lost his ever-loving mind, but I’m not sure which one of us it is.” Raleigh pinched the bridge of his nose. “Where are you doing this? Our little apartment back patio?”
“I don’t know yet. I’ll figure out something, though.”
“I guess I can’t talk you out of this, huh?” Raleigh asked.
“Jesus. Well, I probably won’t be in until later tonight, if at all. Check in with me at some point, will you?”
“Worried about me?” Grinning, Caleb stood with his plate and walked over to the sink.
Raleigh shrugged. “This isn’t the first harebrained idea you’ve ever had, and I’m sure it won’t be your last. Don’t be stupid, okay?”
Caleb finished rinsing his plate off and put it in the dishwasher along with Raleigh’s. “You better get a move on if you have to be at work by noon.”
Raleigh glanced at the microwave clock and frowned. “Yeah, bitching at you took more time than I thought. I’m going to be late if I don’t get a move on.”
“Shower’s all yours,” Caleb said. “I’m in no rush.
“Cool.” Raleigh, coffee in hand, hurried out of the kitchen.
Caleb took his coffee and curled up on the couch with his e-reader. He was getting engrossed in the story when Raleigh rushed through the living area, truck keys in hand.
“Okay, I’m out of here.” Raleigh grabbed the lanyard with his badge on it and slipped it over his head. “Talk to you later.”
“Later, man.”
Once he finished reading the eBook he started, Caleb tried passing the time watching TV, but the day dragged on. Finally, he got up and walked out on the back patio. He shut his eyes and lifted his face, the weak sunlight trying to warm his skin. As his tanned skin testified, he spent plenty of time in the sun, but he was willing to make the sacrifice to be a vampire.
Returning indoors, he checked the time again. Screw it. He was ready to go, so he returned to his bedroom and picked up his suitcase. What he hadn’t told Raleigh was that he’d rented a cabin about an hour from where they lived. There was a state park close by that rented cabins on a lake. He needed to be somewhere where he wouldn’t be disturbed just in case things got… loud.
When he bought the spell and pendant, it came with computer-generated instructions. Basically it said he would say the spell and the transformation would start very soon afterward. That wasn’t very specific.
For fifty dollars he would have thought whoever wrote this could have bothered to narrow down the time frame a little better. It warned he needed privacy because within an hour after the transformation started, all the fluids from his body would be flushed—okay gross—and then he’d sleep for twenty-four hours.
After that, he’d wake up and would need to feed. By then his body would be totally transformed and his fangs would automatically drop. According to the instruction sheet, human blood was best, but he could use animal blood, even at first.
That was odd, but what did he know? All the books and movies said he’d need human blood almost immediately. Frankly the instructions were a little unclear in regards to aftercare, but that wasn’t going to stop him.
“Okay. I guess that’s it. Time waits for no one, so let’s get this show on the road.” Caleb locked the front door and walked down the steps to the parking lot, suitcase in hand.
With a farewell wave to the apartment, Caleb pulled out of the complex. The instructions didn’t give a certain time to perform the ceremony; it only said it had to be completed in the light of the full moon.
As he drove, he glanced out of the windshield up at the sky. Fortunately, the clouds that were hanging around were moving out, so moonlight shouldn’t be a problem tonight. He’d hate to have to wait another month.
An hour later Caleb stopped at the rental office and got the key for his cabin. Twenty minutes after that he was parking in the driveway. The cabin was nothing special—a one bedroom, one bath surrounded by woods. He’d requested one without a lot of windows, which he was pretty sure raised some eyebrows in the rental office, but whatever.
Caleb grabbed his suitcase and hurried up the cabin’s steps. He unlocked the door, flipped the light switch, and walked inside. The kitchen had only the bare necessities and opened up into the living area. There was a couch and a recliner in front of a wood-burning fireplace, which was nice. Thank God the place had a TV.
He shut the door and wandered through the small cabin. Good, not too many windows he’d need to cover. The bedroom was at the back and consisted of a bed, dresser, end table, plus another window he’d need to cover. Next to the bedroom was the bathroom. It had a freestanding shower, toilet, and sink. And another window.
Raleigh wanted him to check in, and he intended to, he just didn’t intend to tell Raleigh where he was. In fact, he planned to call right before Raleigh got off work and leave a voicemail. Raleigh couldn’t answer his phone at work without getting in trouble.

Chapter Two
Caleb spent the rest of the day exploring the woods surrounding the cabin and watching TV. He brought extra towels to cover all the windows. Fortunately, they all had curtains, but extra precautions were called for. He also didn’t eat or drink any more—there was that whole getting rid of fluids thing—although his stomach growled.
Night arrived. It was getting close to the time Raleigh would get off, so Caleb left a voicemail as planned then shut his phone off. When Raleigh got the message he’d probably be furious, but it was for the best.
Last thing Caleb needed was for Raleigh to show up here, especially if he was in the process of vamping out. Unable to waiting longer, he opened the cabin door and stepped outside. The moon was out and the clouds were gone, so why wait? And damn, it had gotten cooler. He went back inside to get his heavy coat, slipped on it on, and grabbed the flashlight. Excitement roared through his body as he stepped outside and locked the door.
Earlier he found a little clearing in the woods not far from the cabin, which would be perfect. In a rush he hiked there, the bright moonlight lighting his way. A sharp wind blew, ruffling his hair. Caleb shivered. It wasn’t all from excitement—it was rather nippy out there, but the quick trek warmed him.
Once there he scouted around until he found the perfect place for the moonlight to shine through the branches upon him. His breath quickened and his heart pounded as he took one last look around.
So, this was it. In this clearing, here in the middle of nowhere, his life was going to be irrevocably changed. Caleb pulled out his cell phone, unlocked it, and tapped on the app. Earlier he’d typed the spell into the app’s translator. Now, all he had to do was click play.
His thumb hesitated over the icon.
The hair on the back of his neck prickled, and he quickly glanced around. What was that? Had he heard something rustling through the tall weeds? Oh God, were there bears out here? Bobcats?
Why did he have to think of that now while he was out there in the middle of nowhere armed with nothing more than a cell phone and flashlight. He swallowed frantically, trying to clear his throat. Was that… was that whispering he heard? It couldn’t be. There was nobody out there but him.
He hoped.
At the edge of his vision a shadow caught his attention, and he jerked his head in that direction. Was that movement? Was somebody out there? That did it. He was never watching another horror movie again. Ever. For the rest of his life. Damn imagination was going to be the death of him.
Of course there was no one out here with him. That was just silly. Nevertheless, he took another slow look around the surrounding area, intently study every pool of darkness beneath the trees he could find. There might not be anyone out here with him, but he sure couldn’t shake the feeling he was being watched.
And wow, it was ever quiet out there. At least during the day he’d heard birds and other things, but now…. Caleb gulped, then looked around the area once more. Now there was nothing but dead silence. Once more he glanced around then he frowned. The trees rustled in the slight breeze, and he glanced up. Moonlight shone down through the branches.
The darkness obscured the bright fall foliage. Now all he needed was for mist to rise up and… Yeah, his brain really needed to shut the hell up. Taking a deep breath, he hit play on the app.
A husky male voice began to speak, and his shivers increased. Caleb shut his eyes, listening to the rise and fall of the words, which were almost lyrical in stark sort of way. Heart pounding, he listened to the spell being read aloud.
Then it ended.
Caleb opened his eyes and glanced around. The clearing looked the same. It was still dark. The aforementioned mist still hadn’t shown up. Nothing howled in the distance. Moonlight still shone down upon him. And it was still cold, dammit.
He scratched his head.
Alrighty then. He hadn’t known what to expect, but this wasn’t it. And speaking of nothing changing, he took a quick inventory of his body. His feet hurt from all the walking he’d done earlier. His heart no longer pounded. In fact, it was slowing down to its regular rhythm but still beating regularly.
The fact that his heart was beating probably meant the spell hadn’t worked. Not to mention he was still cold. His stomach was still growling too. Damn, pizza sounded like a good idea right about then. Caleb snorted. Instead of craving blood, he wanted a damn pizza. Disappointment sung through him.
“Well, shit.” Caleb turned the app off and put his phone back in his pocket.
As far as he could tell he was the same old Caleb. Wasn’t that a disappointment? He couldn’t see any better, couldn’t smell better, and certainly didn’t feel faster… all things that were supposed to be vampire traits.
This was certainly anticlimactic.
Only then did he admit he hoped something would happen, as improbable as that hope had been. Which was just stupid. He knew there was no such thing as vampires. Raleigh was right, he had wasted his money.
Hell, he probably could’ve bought the stupid pendant online for ten dollars. Next time he got the wild hair to waste fifty dollars, he’d do what Raleigh jokily said and just give it to him. Might as well. And Raleigh was right about something else—Caleb was becoming obsessed with the myth of vampires.
It was time he grew up and stopped playing in make-believe land.
Disgruntled, he stomped back to the cabin. Yeah, he certainly didn’t feel any different except for now he was in a funky mood, had to piss, and dammit to hell and back, there was no food in the cabin.
He unlocked the door, let himself in, and hurried toward the bathroom. Once he had taken care of business, he returned to the main living area. Standing there, Caleb glanced around. What was the point in staying? There really wasn’t one, except for the cash he paid down to stay there tonight. Apparently that was a waste of money too.
What he should do was uncover the windows he’d covered, pack his stuff, and head home. The place he rented from had a key drop off right outside their office door. But if he returned to the apartment, that meant he had an hour drive in front of him.
Although he wasn’t tired at the moment, as soon as the adrenaline stopped pumping through his blood stream, he’d probably be exhausted. Having a wreck would just be the spoiled cherry on top of this craptastic adventure.
He could stay here, although the quaint little cabin had quickly come creepy. Fuck this shit. There was no point in driving home. Besides, he paid good money to stay here, and he might as well have something to show from this idiocy.
Mind made up, Caleb checked his cell, and seeing it was still fairly early in the evening, grabbed his wallet and headed right back out. There had to be some something still open in town.
* * * *
Caleb parked at the first pizza joint he saw. It looked like a little mom-and-pop restaurant instead of a fast food chain. He sincerely hoped the place didn’t sucked because he was starving. There were several cars in the parking lot, which was hopefully a good sign.
He parked, got out, and quickly made his way to the front door. Another breeze ruffled his hair. Caleb pulled the collar of his coat up and shivered. The streetlight in the parking lot flickered then dimmed.
Shadows danced at the edges of the darkness, expanding outward almost as if reaching for him. From the corner of his eye something flew past, moving too quickly to be distinguished. Chill bumps raced over his skin, and the hair on the back of his neck stood up. His breath quickened, and his step sped up.
Once inside Caleb breathed a sigh of relief then shook his head at himself. He wasn’t one to jump at shadows, but that was exactly what he was doing, and he couldn’t figure out why. All he knew was suddenly his overactive imagination had taken a hard left turn into Creepville.
He shrugged off his coat, folded it over his arm, and took a moment to check out the surroundings. The first thing he noticed was the exposed brick and memorabilia on the walls… and the low lighting. The one time he would’ve preferred place to be lit up like Madison Square Garden, what he got was subtle lighting. Lovely.
The floor was black and white tile done in a checkerboard pattern. The tables and booths were covered in a shiny red tableclothes. Each booth had a small pendant light that hung down. The tables had small lamps. Overall it gave the restaurant a romantic ambience.
Caleb seriously considered turning around and leaving. The last thing he was feeling at the moment was romantic, but his growling stomach reminded him of a more pressing need: food.
There was a sign by the cash register requesting patrons wait to be seated. Fine, he had nothing better to do but wait—it wasn’t like he had to worry about things like… oh, you know… sunlight. Although, if they didn’t hurry up and seat him, there was a distinct possibility he’d start chewing on the counters he was so hungry.
As he waited he tried to wipe the scowl off his face. In its place he pasted on some semblance of a smile. From the look on the hostesses’ face, he hadn’t succeeded. She seated him, left a menu, and got the hell out of Dodge. Caleb couldn’t blame her. In the mood he was in, he’d run from himself too.
A few moments later the waitress stopped by, and he placed his order. The temptation to order a beer was great, but since he was driving, he resisted. He did order a deep dish pizza and fully intended to eat every damn bit of it.
Caleb passed the time playing on his phone. He was watching a stupid cat video when the hair on the back of his neck stood up again. Nonchalantly, he glanced around the restaurant. A group of teenage girls sat at a nearby table, but they were more interested in talking to each other than staring at him.
There were several couples in booths, but they weren’t paying any attention to him either. Not too far away a waitress seated a man at a table, but he couldn’t see the stranger’s face since he was sitting with his back to Caleb.
From the way the stranger’s head was tilted, Caleb assumed he was watching one of the large screen TVs set around the restaurant. Caleb’s gaze lingered on the back of the man. He had long dark auburn hair tied back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck. A black leather jacket covered his broad shoulders.
Caleb had a thing for long hair, and that shade of hair—that shade reminded him of the owner of Moonlight Mist and Moondust’s hair color. Which was silly considering the guy was most likely doing his own thing… an hour away from here. The chances of him sitting in the same restaurant as Caleb at the exact same moment had to be astronomically slim.
Disgruntled, Caleb looked back down at his phone as a spine-chilling sensation slowly dissipated. Where were these damn creepy feeling coming from? His mom would have said he had a possum walk across his grave—damn Southern sayings—but it described his reactions this evening perfectly.
The same thing had happened when he was in the woods, but he contributed that to being… well, out in the woods. Then it happened walking to the restaurant. What the hell was this?
The waitress brought his pizza and set it down in front of him along with a plate, his drink, and a knife and fork. Caleb grabbed the biggest piece of pizza and bit into it. Oh yeah, this was possibly the best pizza he had ever had. He all but gobbled down the first piece and was starting on his second before his stomach settled down.
Now that he was no longer starving, his thoughts turned back to his reactions this evening. Nothing had changed except… except that spell. Except he had a bunch of words repeated in a dead language he couldn’t read.
What if… Christ, what if he had unleashed something he hadn’t meant to unleash? Obviously the vampire spell hadn’t worked—the fact he sat there stuffing his face was proof of that—but, but… He set his pizza down. Okay, so clearly he wasn’t going to turn into a vampire, but what if he called up a demon?
Now the pizza sat like lead in his stomach.
Every second of the movie The Exorcist ran through his head. Oh God. The first time someone’s head did a complete 360 he was going to lose his shit. He didn’t know the first thing about demons. Vampires were his obsession.
He picked up his pizza and returned to nibbling on it. Okay, the likelihood that I called up demon is probably next to none. I’m just overreacting. I mean, obviously I’m not going to turn into a vampire. Caleb took another bite of pizza to enforce his point he wasn’t about to vamp out and washed it down with his soda. That made sense. Perfect sense.
So why couldn’t shake the feeling he was being stalked?
As he ate he discreetly scanned the restaurant, but nothing seemed off to him. Well, nothing he could see. His eyes were telling him there was nothing wrong, but the itch between his shoulder blades argued vehemently.
Danger. Danger. Danger.
The fact that nothing was obviously wrong didn’t mean a damn thing. Some primitive part of him said there was. Problem was, he couldn’t find the threat. All he had was a feeling that something was not right.
He finished eating and requested a to-go box. The waitress brought his bill, which he paid, then left a nice tip. After he shrugged on his jacket, he checked his cell phone to see what time it was. Yeah, it was getting late, and now that his belly was full, he was getting tired. No sooner than he finished that thought, he yawned. Nope, no way was he driving home tonight.
Caleb stood, picked up the to-go box, and nodded good-bye to the waitress as he walked out. Since the yawns were coming more frequently, he kept the car a little cooler than what he would’ve preferred. Even though he was tired, he made a pit stop by the gas station on his way out of town.
They didn’t have much, but outside of a few bottled drinks and some snacks, he didn’t need much. Between this and the pizza, he wouldn’t starve before he got home. While he was there he gassed up his vehicle.
The drive back to the cabin seemed the longer than the trip into town. When he pulled into the driveway of the cabin, he sent up a quick thank you to whomever might be listening for getting him there safely.
Now he was yawning so hard his eyes watered. And tired. Suddenly he was so damn tired he couldn’t see straight. Glad he made the decision to say, he grabbed his to-go box and got out. Jeez, now the wind was really whipping. Maybe there was a storm blowing in? He glanced up at the sky. Dark, ominous clouds rolled across the moon. The beautiful starry night from earlier was gone, and in its place was gloom.
After he locked his vehicle, he trudged up the steps to the cabin, unlocked it, and let himself inside. All he wanted to do was go to bed. Exhausted now, he stumbled to the bedroom. On the way he flipped on the hall light.
He stripped, threw his clothing on top of his suitcase, and unmade the bed. With a groan, he fell onto it, and after double checking to make sure the alarm was not set, pulled the covers to his chin. Comfortable, he snuggled down into the bed. Just as he drifted off to sleep he could’ve sworn the howling wind was calling his name.
* * * *
The next thing he knew he was wide awake and staring at the ceiling. Confusion flooded his mind. Where the hell was he? His bedroom had a ceiling fan, and the ceiling he was staring at did not. He blinked, and, nope, still no ceiling fan.
Then some helpful part of his brain supplied the answer: cabin. He groaned. He was at that stupid cabin in the stupid woods that he rented for his stupid adventure. Caleb scrubbed his hands over his face and tried to get all his synapses firing.
What the hell had woke him up? He’d been so tired when he went to bed. And why was it so dark in here? He distinctly remembered leaving on the hall light. Still flat on his back, his gaze returned to the ceiling. It was really dark in here, which was just odd. He was pretty sure it hadn’t been that dark when he went to bed.
Huh. Now that he was awake, he couldn’t miss how the wind shrieked outside the cabin. Man, that wind was howling… then he huffed. Damn it. Of course, now it made sense why it was so dark in there. Thanks to the wind, the electricity was out. Still, he got up to double check.
He opened the curtains in the bedroom and glanced outside to see if everyone’s lights were off too. Then it hit him what he was doing. “Well, duh. I’m in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods. Of course there is no lights around me.”
Just how hard had he been sleeping? Still, he checked the bathroom light. Nope, not juice. The electricity was indeed out. Great. He climbed back into bed and lay quietly listening to see if he heard thunder. Nothing. Ah well, at least it wasn’t storming.
Well, he was due a lucky break, and apparently this was it. He set up and carefully felt around on the end table until he found his cell phone. It vibrated when he picked it up. Someone had a message—probably Raleigh—but he didn’t bother to check. Right now he was more interested in the time. He nudged the alarm clock toward him so he could see the face. Yep, no electricity.
Thank goodness he charged his cell battery before he left. He tapped the button on the bottom of his cell and lit up, showing the time. 2 AM. Seriously? Disgusted, he tossed the phone on the end table and flopped down the bed.
There were a lot of fun things he could be doing at 2 AM on a Saturday morning, but this wasn’t it. He rolled over onto his side and wrestled his pillow into a more comfortable position. Would this night ever end?
Sighing softly, he tried to will himself back to sleep. A cool breeze ruffled his hair, and he wrinkled his nose. Maybe he should have turned on the heat. He shivered and reached for more of the bedspread.
Jeez, was nothing going right? Where was the damn thing? Since feeling around wasn’t working, he opened his eyes… and was greeted with a rolling mist coming from underneath the bedroom door.
Caleb blinked.
Then he blinked again.
When the mist didn’t dissipate, he began to worry. Was there actually mist coming from underneath the door? Or was that smoke? Shit. Was there a fire? But the smoke detectors weren’t going off. Weren’t places that were rented out supposed to have those? He was pretty sure they were.
He set up in bed with some vague thought of getting dressed. He needed to get out of there just in case something was burning. But why didn’t he smell smoke? Before he could throw the covers off of him, the midst began to condense. Flabbergasted, he watched as it swirled and spun, moving faster in a tight spiral.
 Caleb blinked again.
Just what the hell was he seeing? As he watched, the mist formed a body… a body that stood at the foot of the bed. Caleb’s heart pounded furiously. Oh hell no. No, no, no, no, no. He was so not doing this.

What in the hell had he called up with that damn spell?