Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Update

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I meant to post this earlier but got distracted by work. (Shh, I'm at work right now typing this; don't tell my boss!) Because of the holiday (why do so many people grocery shop on Thanksgiving Day itself?), the next chapter of Evil Walks will be posted tomorrow. A name like Black Friday would certainly suit Deanna's usual moodiness, after all. 

What's that? What is Thanksgiving like in the Wesson household? They drink Pumpkin Spice Kahlua and store-bought pumpkin pie, obvs. Thanksgiving is always traditional for awkward family arguments. 

Gossip Ghoul

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Evil Walks Ch. 6: Self-Destruction

Evil Walks
Chapter Six: Self-Destruction

"End of passion play, crumbling away
I'm your source of self-destruction
Veins that pump with fear, sucking darkest clear
Leading on your death's construction

Taste me you will see
More is all you need
You're dedicated to
How I'm killing you..."
-- "Master of Puppets" by Metallica

Deanna awoke with a strangled sob. The same nightmare, the flashback to when she was five, plagued her nearly every night. The nightmares had gotten more and more vivid since she had turned seventeen the previous month. It was more than just remembering or dreaming. She was reliving it, watching her mother die again each night.

And just like in the past, Johnny did absolutely nothing to save them. Nothing! He didn't even try. It was like he'd just given up once his wife became possessed.

Well, he had. He gave up on raising his kids after that night. He still wasn't doing anything to save their souls.

Deanna sat up in bed and ran a hand through her sweat-soaked hair. She inhaled deeply and then sighed. A big part of her just wanted everything to be over with, to just end it all. What exactly did she have to live for, after all? Definitely not Johnny. Not Jared, either, because even though she was his caretaker, when her soul got dragged to Hell, so would his. Not her string of one night stands. She didn't even talk to most of them. So then what? The next issue of Hellblazer? Some deep, meaningful life.

And that was what drove her toward self-destruction. The cigarettes, the drinking, the few times trying harder drugs, sure, a lot of it was an attempt to blur or forget what happened the night her mother died, but a big part of it was to bring on the end. Hell, no, she didn't want to die, but she didn't have anything worth fighting for.

Except maybe Jared, but then again, she was the one destroying Jared's life.

Deanna was the one to bring him down to the basement that fateful night, so it was her fault that he'd been damned too. She was also the one to introduce him to alcohol and cigarettes. And she first got him to try heroin. Now he was developing a full-blown addiction. All thanks to her and her major fuck-ups. 

The sooner she was dead, the better, and yet...

She really, really, really didn't want to go to Hell. Plus the demons fucking terrified her.

And Johnny still didn't give a shit. Deanna fucking hated him for it. He had the protection of archangels, damn it! The demons couldn't even touch him! So why didn't he do anything? It wasn't her fault they were claimed for Hell; it was Johnny's fucking fault! But of course he couldn't man up enough to clean up this mess and protect his own damn children!

Calm the hell down, Deanna, she told herself with a groan. God, she needed a cigarette. Rooting through the pockets for the leather jacket draped over the foot of her bed, Deanna pulled out an almost empty pack, her lighter, and a deck of tarot cards. Not her Lovers deck that she'd painstakingly crafted as a way to pick up girls, but her actual Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck. After a momentary pause, she lit the pillar candle on her nightstand (and a cigarette, naturally) and used the soft light to set the mood as she shuffled the deck and dealt a three card spread.

Death. The Two of Swords. The Devil.

Deanna stared at the cards on her lap as she inhaled her sweet cigarette pain. Damn, she thought. That was certainly an apt summary of her situation. No way out. The cards never gave her an answer of how to escape, no matter how many times she'd asked. A bit of ash fell onto the middle card, and she studied the figure in the picture as she wiped away the ash. An androgynous, blindfolded brunette girl carefully balancing a pair of swords, she looked infinitely more serene than D felt. She didn't even want to look at the other two cards and definitely didn't want to think about what they meant.

Leaning back, Deanna blew out a slow puff of smoke. For a moment, the smoke seemed to turn from grey to black, and she glimpsed a pair of eyes in the apparition. A shriek left her mouth before she could help herself. The eyes were glaring right at her while the black smoke turned into the shape of a man with shadowy wings stretching from his back and a hand reaching out toward her. There were shadow claws on that incorporeal hand. Deanna screamed involuntarily as it moved toward her.

Footsteps clattered in the hallway. Her door flew open, and Jared scrambled to turn on the light switch. His eyes were wide with alarm. "What's wrong?" he asked fearfully.

Deanna found herself watching normal cigarette smoke dissipating, and another chunk of ash tumbled from the cigarette in her quivering fingers. The ash landed on the picture of the chains binding the Devil's captives on the tarot card. Her cheeks reddening, Deanna instinctively retreated behind her tough, bitchy demeanor. "What the fuck is wrong with you, bitch?" she snapped as she stamped out the cigarette in her ashtray. "You can't just bust into my room like that."

"I heard you scream," said Jared, confusion bleeding into his concerned voice. "I thought..."

"Fuck off! I didn't scream. Get out of my room!"

His eyes cold, Jared flicked the light switch back off and left. He shut the door, leaving Deanna alone in the dark.

Her chest tightened, and she glanced about wildly, waiting for the smokey apparition to reappear, but it didn't.

Those eyes...

They were different from the black eyes that haunted her dreams. These eyes were golden-yellow, and they gleamed in the candlelight like an animal's.

Had the Devil come for her at last?

Though her pulse was drumming a beat she could feel and hear in her ears, Deanna forced her expression not to reveal any fear. "I'm not afraid!" she called out, hoping that hearing the lie would convince herself. She relit the black candle that had extinguished itself -- or had the thing put it out?

Eventually, after what seemed like hours, Deanna drifted back off to sleep, but as her kohl-smeared eyelids slid closed, she could feel yellow eyes watching her in the dark.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Evil Walks Poll

So let's take a poll:

Based upon what you've read so far in Evil Walks, what do you think should happen next? Tell me your answer in the comments below.

A. Haley needs to get the hell away from Deanna and not get mixed up in any of this crazy shit.
B. Deanna needs to her angsty head out of her ass and find a way to stop her damnation.
C. Johnny has a plan up his sleeve that will solve everything. Being the best character in the series and basically all-around awesome, he'll totally find a way to protect his kids.
D. Deanna should stop focusing on problems she can't do anything about and hook up with Haley.
E. Haley should save Deanna and Jared's souls and lives.
F. Haley should save Deanna and Jared's souls and lives, and then she and D should hook up.
G. Deanna needs to go off and get the hell away from all of this and actually do something like see the world with the few months of her life that she has left.
H. The Summon Bigger Fish Ploy: they should summon a bigger demon to fight off this demon.
I. Other: you tell me what you think should happen.

Let me know in the comments. I look forward to hearing what you guys think. Also, for the two of you with whom I have discussed books that take place after this, no spoilers. You know who the two of you are. Everyone else, let me hear your speculation.

Gossip Ghoul

Author's Note For Chapter Five

So if you're wondering why they're fucked up, that's why they're fucked up.

Also, I'd like to reiterate the "Suggested For Mature Readers" disclaimer and rating.


Evil Walks Ch.5: Welcome Home

Evil Walks
Chapter Five: Welcome Home

"Welcome to where time stands still
No one leaves and no one will
Moon is full, never seems to change
Just labeled mentally deranged
Dream the same thing every night"

-- "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" by Metallica

She never truly understood why she had woken up that late night in August of 1996. Maybe she had heard something, or more likely, some thing had called her. Whatever the reason, it didn't matter. The fact remains that five-year-old Deanna woke up late that night feeling terrified.

First she ran to Jared's room. The two-year-old was sitting in his crib crying a high-pitched siren of one long scream, for he was struck by the same fear that gripped Deanna's heart. They hurried to their parents' room, but Mommy and Daddy weren't there.

That was when the shouts from downstairs arose -- down from the scary, dark basement they weren't allowed to go in.

The basement door was just barely open, and a thin sliver of light shone into the hallway. They shrank away from it at first, with the memory of Daddy angrily yelling at them to stay away from the basement discouraging them, but the hallway was brimming, no, swarming with shadows. Shadows with claws. Shadows with teeth. Shadows with glowing eyes. Shadows of things that could get them. Jared clung tightly to D's arm as they stared wide-eyed at the surrounding darkness. They both swore for the rest of their lives that some shapeless black thing lunged toward them, and that spurred the children on to open the door and scramble down the basement stairs with a shriek.

There the kids founds Mommy and Daddy with two of Daddy's friends. On the floor lay something that reminded Deanna of when she squashed a worm on the sidewalk with her shoe, except this was much, much bigger than a worm, and it was covered in red and pink and black goo. Then there was an eyeball dangling from its socket, and it was looking right at her, and Deanna felt that stare penetrate through her skin. She felt it on her insides, and it was like a million bugs crawling on her and in her and all over her. Jared held D's hand tightly as he trembled, and she knew he felt it too.

It was the first dead body they ever laid eyes on. It certainly wouldn't be the last. Or the messiest.

Daddy and the others weren't even looking at the body. They were too busy watching Mommy, and something was very wrong with Mommy. Her eyes were all black, like the pupils had dilated until there were no whites or irises left, and she was bent over at a weird angle. The cracking of her spine filled Deanna's ears as Mommy bent backwards almost in half, far more than anything human should or could.

Deanna had been afraid of Daddy's temper from time to time, but never before had she been of afraid of Mommy. Until now. Now she would be afraid of Mommy until the day she died.

"Irene, no!" cried Daddy with a sob of despair. There was a glow, a blue-violet-white kind of aura emanating from him, which made the Mommy-thing hiss like a snake when it touched its skin.

Behind Deanna, Jared was sobbing.

One of Daddy's friends, Father Matt, a tall, skinny priest with dark blood staining his cassock and crimson stole, was holding aloft an iron crucifix and reading aloud from a book. "Exorcizo te, omnis spiritus immunde, in nomine Dei Patris omnipotentis," he struggled to read, his voice hoarse with terror as he stumbled over the words, et in noimine Jesu Christi Filii ejus, Domini et Judicis nostri, et in virtute Spiritus Sancti..." He was so involved in his chanting that he couldn't dodge when the Mommy-thing sprang at him and twisted his head clean around.

The second dead body Deanna and Jared ever saw dropped to the ground, and their shrill voices let loose screams.

That drew the attention of the Mommy-thing and the others to them. The Mommy-thing's black eyes snapped towards them, and its bloody mouth opened to give an amused chuckle.

"No, get back!" yelled Daddy, and he tried moving toward the kids, but some invisible force knocked him back. The shiny aura around him flickered and dimmed for a moment.

The Mommy-thing bounded toward them spider-like on all four limbs and grabbed their little throats. It squeezed hard enough that Jared's scream was choked off, and Deanna struggled for breath. The Mommy-thing had talons, and their skin burned where the talons cut them. Its breath was hot against their faces, and darkness swirled before their eyes.

"Get the fuck away from them!"

Whipping its head in Daddy's direction, the Mommy-thing grinned toothily. There was blood and bile smeared on those teeth. "Are you still so adamantly against negotiation?" it asked pleasantly in a dry, masculine voice that sounded too human to match the horror of the creature who spoke.

"Fuck you!" Daddy snarled, though his dark green eyes were filled with anguish. "I'm not fucking surrendering to Hell, you son of a bitch!" 

Deanna's vision blurred and filled with black spots -- like tiny little versions of the Mommy-thing's eyes everywhere.

"Not even for their souls?" it taunted. It released its grip on the kids a breath away from strangling them, and with a taloned hand it yanked on one of Deanna's brown pigtails. White as a sheet, white as a ghost, Deanna could not find the courage to say anything or even to move away, like Jared was doing, crawling back toward the stairs while tears and snot ran down his face.

Daddy's other friend, Uncle Eric, dove toward Fr. Matt's corpse and was leafing through his book, trying to find the exorcism incantation. "Don't you do it!" Eric shouted, although Deanna never figured out if he meant that for Johnny or for the demon.

Daddy's fists were clenched so tightly that blood dripped from where his fingernails dug into his skin. "Fuck. You. Bitch," he repeated forcefully as the glow of blue-white light coming from him began to pulse.

"F-f-fuck y--" Deanna sputtered, trying to echo Daddy, but one look from those black eyes shut her up. (It was the first time she'd ever used one of Daddy's bad words, the first of many, many times. This night was night full of firsts.)

The Mommy-thing's sharp talons cupped Deanna's face while its bloody lips twisted into a smug smile. "Okey dokey, then," it chortled. "Their souls are mine. Both of them."

All color drained from Daddy's face. Beside him Uncle Eric was stumbling through the Latin incantation from the book and badly mispronouncing the words, but Deanna could barely hear him. The sound of the demon's voice filled her head until there was nothing else as it said, "I'll give you some more time with them. Let you get attached before I harvest. It will be nicer, by which I mean more painful for you and more fun for me."

"Bastard!" Daddy spat, though he made no move forward.

"Before the girl comes of age, Satan himself will take them," the thing that had possessed Mommy said. "We're going to have so much fun with them."

"Daddy!" Deanna screamed, but it became a cry of pain as the demon threw her to the floor unceremoniously. She crawled over to her sobbing brother.

The Mommy-thing swerved toward Daddy. "See you soon. In Hell," it laughed, and it continued laughing as its talons began slicing away at Mommy's face. The shimmering purple-white light that somehow came from Daddy surged toward the demon while Uncle Eric's chanting rose in volume, and suddenly there was an explosion of light and flesh.

When the glow faded, the entire basement was covered in pieces of Mommy.

 The thing's laughter was still echoing in Deanna and Johnny's heads as they kept on screaming.

August 16, 1996. For the Wesson family, that was the night the world broke into a million pieces, just like Irene Wesson had.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

News flash

Just a heads up, everyone: today's chapter will come out later than usual, sometime this evening, instead of the usual 11 A.M. time. So check in later tonight. 

Oh, and if chapter three freaked you out, well, let's just say chapter five is a hell of a lot freakier. 

Gossip Ghoul. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Evil Walks Ch. 4: Bad Reputation

Evil Walks
Chapter Four: Bad Reputation

I don't give a damn 'bout my bad reputation
You're living in the past, it's a new generation
A girl can do what she wants to do
And that's what I'm gonna do
And I don't give a damn 'bout my bad reputation
Oh no, not me.”
  • “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

The smoke burning her throat as Deanna inhaled on her cigarette felt so damn good. Deanna Wesson knew well that nothing in life came without pain, and hey, pain was a sign that she was still alive. Still alive and out of Hell – for now. Then again, dealing with Johnny certainly made her life a living Hell.

She used to idolize Johnny. No shit, it's the truth. He was her big hero, the one she swore would always protect her and her baby brother from the demons coming after them. For years she looked up to him, tried to do everything he said and live up to his expectations, and ignored the way he fell apart after losing her mother. She also overlooked the fact that he called her “son” and pretended that she wasn't a girl, since anything feminine would remind him of him of his late wife.

Then Deanna hit puberty; and it became a lot harder for Johnny to ignore her growing femininity (AKA boobs), and it was a hell of a lot harder for Deanna to continue putting up with Johnny's bullshit as she grew increasingly disillusioned with her hero.

At age twelve, she got her period, and Johnny refused to buy her tampons. That was the last fucking straw. Deanna finally realized that she could never be Johnny's perfect little soldier and that she shouldn't have to be.

Blaring the Mötley Crüe cover of “Anarchy In The U.K.” so loudly that the neighbors complained, twelve-year-old Deanna locked herself in the bathroom, haphazardly chopped off her hair, and bleached the remains with hydrogen peroxide. Then she went out and used all of her allowance to buy a trenchcoat and to bribe an older kid to steal his dad's cigarettes for her. Deanna had cast off one hero to become just like her replacement hero from her Hellblazer comic books, John Constantine. All the while disregarding that she herself was just using another method of hiding her femininity, of course. Johnny fucking hated it, and that was felt glorious and exciting and rebellious and free.

Coming to terms with her femininity and her sexual orientation was a whole other set of obstacles to face.

Deanna honestly felt that fighting ghosts and monsters and the undead was a hell of a lot easier than coming out of the closet a few years later. She and Johnny fell into a vicious screaming match when he refused to acknowledge her as a lesbian, and once word got around town that Deanna was sleeping around with girls, she had to put up with sexual harassment galore from guys at her former high school and even creepy middle-aged men at the cafe where she worked part time. It's not uncommon for lesbians to face propositions from guys who “want in on the action” or think she just needs to know “what a real man is like,” and with Deanna's reputation as a slut, things got bad fast. Deanna's already sour and prickly disposition hardened like a shell, except around her younger brother.

Deanna had always taken better care of Jared than Johnny had taken care of them both, and though the siblings argued and bickered constantly, they relied on each other a lot. Despite that, after Johnny's less-than-warm reception of her announcement, Deanna hesitated to come out to Jared. With a cherry pie she bought from the supermarket, she took a tube of squeezable frosting and wrote out “D is for Dyke. I like girls.” over the top crust, since D was Jared's nickname for her (Well, D and Jerk.). Jared had taken one look at the pie and shrugged. “So is this dinner or what?” he said, unfazed. Deanna felt her heart swell with love for her brother, not that she'd ever admit it out loud, and she poured them each a shot of Bombay Sapphire.

Yeah, Deanna was also Jared's enabler. That was yet another fucking series of issues.

And sure, Deanna was screwed up in all kinds of other ways too. Their sibling bond didn't stop her from stealing three of Jared's girlfriends – and then dumping them after she got what she wanted. And giving Johnny the finger both figuratively and literally didn't stop her from secretly craving his approval. And everything she did, all the booze girls and cigarettes and even the escapism of comic books and music, didn't serve as anything beyond a momentary distraction from the looming promise that the Devil was coming for her soul.

There were times at church when she felt so uncomfortable in her own skin – and not just because of all the glares she got for being an evil lesbian with a nasty attitude and devil music. No, Deanna couldn't help but wonder if the demon had put a mark on her soul as part of claiming her for Hell. On two occasions, spirits she was hunting remarked that she had been touched by Hell.

Between that and the nightmares she suffered every night, it was no wonder Deanna tried so damn hard to be John Constantine, to be someone else, to be someone smooth and confident who could always get out of a bad situation and away from demons, to be anyone but her, the girl who nobody really loved except brother. And even he sometimes hated her.

Jared certainly seemed to hate her that night at dinner from his scowling expression, at least. His eyes were bloodshot, and his nose and lips chapped. He grabbed the cigarette from her very hand and pulled a drag.

“Hey!” Deanna cried as she snatched it back. She gestured to the open pizza box on the table. They'd been eating the leftovers for two days now. Johnny's grocery runs only ever involved whiskey and gin, not food, and none of them could cook. “Shut up and eat up, bitch,” she ordered.

“Whatever, D,” Jared sighed. He and Deanna ate the cold pizza sliced straight out of the box so that they wouldn't have to wash any dishes. Johnny had already grabbed his slice and a bottle of Crown Royal and was eating in his office off the adjoining hallway.

Taking a sip of gin straight from the blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire, Jared wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Aren't you supposed to be at work?” he slurred, referring to her part-time gig at the cafe.

Deanna peeled a thin strip of chipped black nail polish off her thumbnail before casually responding, “I'm over that place.”

“No shit. You got fired again?” It wasn't really a question, and Jared didn't even blink an eye in surprise.

With a self-righteous scoff and a volume much louder than necessary for just the two of them, Deanna explained, “The manager grabbed my ass. Obviously I had to break his wrist!” Her green eyes flickered to the hallway, where she knew Johnny was in earshot. “He might even press assault charges!”

There was no response, not even a grunt, from Johnny's office/living room.

“Attention whore,” Jared mumbled under his breath at her patheticness before sipping more gin. Deanna scowled at him and seized the bottle out of his hand in order to add more Bombay Sapphire to her gin and tonic.

While capping the bottle, she gave her brother a cold look. “So what's this I heard earlier about you cutting school again?” she asked hypocritically disapprovingly.

“Piss off, D.” Jared rolled his eyes. “You used to ditch class all the freaking time.”

“Yeah, for cigarettes, not for drugs.”

“Cigarettes are drugs, stupid.”

Deanna glanced toward Johnny's office again. No sound or sign that he'd heard or even cared. “Just knock the fuck off with the drugs,” she hissed.

Jared gave her a contemptuous glare. “Why?” he said bluntly. “We're just gonna die anyway in how many months now?”

Deanna didn't have anything to say to that and just sipped her gin and tonic.

Johnny didn't have anything to say to that either. He didn't speak a single word to them at all that night.