Mana Pool – The Ghost Factor – Chapter 1 Sample

Happy Halloween, folks.

The second novel is still not done. That’s just the hard fact to stomach, and I know it’s taking this long to write it. I figure that since it’s taken this long, I’ll just have to cave and share what I have.

One chapter. Just one. That’s all you will get for now. Hope you enjoy the beginning, I’d love to hear what you think.

Mana Pool Divider

wave_crystal

Magnolia Lane Plantation

Derry, Louisiana

April 14, 2013 10:17 PM ATW

Remember me saying things will get complicated after my sister got home? Well, fuck complicated. Things got ridiculous.

One hour. Just one hour from starting the night’s hunt and everything turned south so fast. My right hand shook my camcorder and flashlight in the other as fear radiated through my body, causing goosebumps on my arms to rise as dense as sandpaper. I experienced poltergeist activity before, but miss, after The Wave, this felt different.

I mouthed curses as I watched a candlestick float several feet away from me in the upstairs hallway. All three candles were lit, orange and yellow flames flickered. It swayed right to left, slow and ominous. It was a cliché, right out of a ghost story, but it was real. It happened.

I was scared, but the greatest feeling was excitement.

“K-Keep recording, this stuff is great,” I said to Alex.

“How about breathing? You’ll jerk that camera off your hand,” Alex said, more scared than me. I failed to make a comeback.

What we witnessed and captured was as much as movie and TV special effects. Now, before The Wave, those effects did not exists in the real world. Actual poltergeist activity like objects moving on their own were rare. Common activities were EMP spikes on detectors, disembodied voices in white noise recordings, and unexplained white orbs on video. Capturing the rare events is a hunter’s goldmine to prove the afterlife’s existence.

It’s as if The Wave shook the ghost world too. But from my knowledge, people refuse to acknowledge it’s a big deal.

“Poke it,” Alex said.

“Poke a candlestick?” I said back. “Alex, knock off the jokes.”

“Who’s the leader? You are. You convinced us to come here and you’re the most needy to get evidence. It’s your hunt. Check for wires. It has to be wires.”

My former investigation partner was this stuck up skeptic of the supernatural. We knew each other since college. He covered the equipment issues like batteries, memory cards, replacements, and some repairs since his film degree didn’t go anywhere. He needed a side job anyway. Yeah, it took some convincing to join me on this hobby of mine, but the travel aspect was the seller. He kept his stubbornness and skepticism, but since The Wave, it lowered to being anti-terran. He was scared of magic as the rest, even checking whims for tattoos every day, anticipating the day he’ll be what my sister is.

“Knock it off with the wire jokes, Alex. If you think so, check yourself,” I said.

“Nah uh. Not me. You-“

The candlestick darted away and into the master bedroom before Alex finished. I cursed loud and my skin prickled.

“What’s going on up there?” Frank yelled from downstairs, another former tech. He was in freelance audio for recording studios, the one that made a living on his degree.

“Don’t come up, we got this! Stick with Tabitha and Sassel,” I said and ran to the bedroom, fearing just about anything to go wrong.

Luckily the curtains were only on fire. Good thing it wasn’t the bed. “Shit! Alex, help me with this!”

The plantation-era antiques had been preserved by the owners for years. They’d kill me if I let anything else turn to ash. The candlestick was out and on the floor. I kicked it away as I and Alex tore the half-burning curtains down and stomp them out. The floor was scorched a little but better than a burning building, right?

Alex’s voice jittered as he talked. “Oh man, this is getting too real, Robert. Too fucking real. We need to leave.”

I made several more stomps before saying, “This is small, Alex. It’s the best footage. Tabitha hasn’t even started yet.”

“Small? Listen to yourself! You’re being obsessive. We’ll die if we stay long enough.”

He had his own reasons, but I was the leader. I waited too long to find and capture my evidence and that small poltergeist act would not scare me away.

“We will not die. Stop thinking so overboard about—“

“Fuck this theory. I’m out,” he exclaimed.

I restrained myself from socking him in the jaw. “Alex! This evidence is important. I can’t stress this enough,” I argued. “I’m not backing out and neither is Tabitha.”

“Bringing her was a mistake!” That prejudice tone was there like bad cabernet, strong enough to can’t be drinkable.

“Hey, feel free to leave for all I care. This is the third strike from you about her. Go, but I will not leave until I get my—“

A high pitched scream from downstairs cut me off, and a familiar one to make me forget Alex’s judgement. Frank’s voice came next. “Whoa, whoa, Tabitha, stop! Holy shit!”

Her scream got louder and higher in pitch just like that monk voice during The Wave, but raw fear was mixed to make me feel it within my skin. Magic had a play I’m sure. Blue light shone from the hall, along with the sound of a power generator, lasting for several seconds. Frank screamed again. Then a heavy thud hit the ground floor along with Tabitha’s terror filled voice.

“No,” I whispered.

“She didn’t!” Alex yelled then turned to me. “Nice job getting us killed, dickwad!”

Suddenly, the whole house shook under my feet. The walls groaned like a tired old man. The antiques on the shelves and tables in their place, even some fell and crashed to the floor. I stood strong against it, but Tabitha’s safety was all I concerned about.

I ran out of the bedroom ignoring Alex’s warnings and pocketed my camcorder. I grasped my flashlight tight in my right hand. Alex yelled to wait up but a thud and an “oof” made me turn back. Alex was flat on his chest. An ottoman was under his legs. I never saw that near us but on the other side of the room during the initial house scope an hour ago. Just like other stories. “Alex, you okay?”

He waved me away after groaning. Hi looked up with hateful eyes at me. “I’m fine, but this is all on you. Stop that terran before she kills us!”

“She’s not a killer!” I did not help Alex. Not all terrans are killers. I know it all too well. Screw Alex.

I was almost to the stairs when a table from the wall suddenly moved to block my path. Yep, poltergeist activity was doubling in strength. It had to be terran magic pulling another surprise on me, yet others will argue as always. I dodged it without clipping my hip on its edge. Then a couple of paintings flew at my face as I ran down the staircase, but I avoided each one without hesitation and got to the ground floor.

Frank ran past me in a blur before I stopped him. That guy looked scared to hell, running out the door screaming, “I quit!.” He ran past the Jeep, through the long driveway, dropping his equipment in every direction so to run faster. It felt pointless to stop him.

“Robert, come! Tabitha’s out cold!” Blared a shrill, female Southern voice.

Instead of the voice’s owner, my eyes fell on the living room’s highest poltergeist activity. My flashlight fell from my relaxed hand. Older antiques floated and circled in a vortex of charged mana near Tabitha’s unconscious body. The voodoo priestess-turned-terran was on her back, her white turban was knocked off. She wore her traditional white dress and modified it a while ago to accommodate her terran tail to sway free, but it was pinned under her back. Her pointed ears stood out from her shaved head. On her chest, her black cat totem was performing CPR and swatting Tabitha’s face with no change.

“Dammit, Tabitha, now’s not the time to cat nap!” The cat yelled again with another swat to Tabitha’s cheek, its glowing blue eyes showed much concern.

I called out her name before kneeling beside her avoiding the chaos overhead. She still breathed, shallow, like in a deep sleep, but her mouth moved to quiet mumbles of her ancestral African language, without her deep, sweet Southern motherly accent.

“Sassel, please tell me Tabitha did it intentionally,” I said.

“On purpose? No, she bloody did not! Separate to cover more ground. What a brilliant idea!”

“Never mind that.” I dodged a heavy book that narrowly clipped my head. “What happened?”

She shook her head then said, “She. Got. Scared. She got defensive, charged her mana, and it all got sucked out of her. Happy!?”

I wasn’t. “All of it?”

“Every last drop. Don’t you dare question a totem’s words.”

A gaping hole in my stomach opened. If I knew one thing about totems, they know their masters, all their lives. They are their physical subconscious after all. I had no say to argue against Sassel, but it proved part of my theory. If only I wasn’t so nearsighted to stay with her. Sometimes I hate my bad choices.

“Shit. We need to leave before Hell breaks. Alex, get your ass down here!” I started pulling Tabitha from under her armpits. Man she was heavy. She still mumbled. I then noticed the lack of terran tattoos. Was she really drained of mana?

Alex was already at the bottom of the stairs. He saw the vortex, dropped his camcorder, and bolted out the front door. “Fuck this shit!” He screamed. Jerk.

Before I was five feet from the door, still dragging Tabitha, the floorboards rattled as piano keys to stop me. Each space gave off the familiar blue light. A booming voice of someone—or something—overcame me, as if whaling in bone-splitting pain. Fear overcame me.

Wind from nowhere blew around me, then toward the vortex. I spotted charged mana seeping from the floor board cracks, adding to the growing torrent of energy.

It was close…

That feeling of “Get the hell out!” and “See it before it disappears!” fought within me, but the ladder won. I watched the charged mana morph. It was the same as the other stories, and some video on the internet. Nothing to stop it, yet I had to see see the result for good reason. The thing was near completion when Sassel hissed at it. As it faced us, Sassel screamed and ran out. I stayed, seeing, almost losing my grip on Tabitha. She can summon that?

Some places were fully manifested, some yet to be complete. I could see inside its chest cavity; organs, intestines and ribs expanded with each hoarse breath. Its arms and legs were on different places on the semi-merged torso. Like a headless body drove neck-first into the other’s lower back. It’s stretched head stared down at me with four empty eye sockets. It struggled for air and gurgled fluids, desperate to be alive.

To put it in perspective, that damn thing was a Picasso/John Carpenter stitching of a Confederate soldier and a slave woman.

It’s only a ghost it’s only a ghost, I thought.

It opened their mouths of crooked teeth, unhinged. It gurgled, then screamed to vibrate the whole house and my body.

“BATS TOIIIIIII!”

I snapped myself out of it and found the urge to carry Tabitha on my shoulder and ran out. Frank being long gone, me, Alex (somehow waiting for me), Sassel and Tabitha got into the rental Jeep. I took the driver seat, fired up the engine, and sped on  the driveway screaming as my throat turned dry. Looking in the rear view mirror, the damn ghost was out, running after us, still screaming that word.

“Drive faster!” Alex yelled.

“I am, I am.”

Once I drove passed the gate and looked back, the ghost was already dissolving away.

Told you things got ridiculous!