Red, Black, White – Part 10

Roger finished the circle, then bade O’Malley to step back to a corner. The stocky Irish cop nodded, and moved to the corner closest to the hall opening. As a precaution, he pulled his .44 magnum, flipped open the cylinder to check that all cartridges were loaded, then snapped it closed. He lowered it to his side, ready for use I something bad happened. As he’d seen before, bad things did happen often enough that he wanted to have his weapon to hand. Roger began chanting, holding the hairs he’d collected from the bedroom.

His trace spell began to take shape as his consciousness slowly dropped into a near sleep. He felt the tendrils of the spell trail out and surround the hairs, melding with them and sending a call to more of the same. He frowned as interference started unraveling the spell as it formed. His consciousness returned to full wakefulness, and he opened his eyes. The bodies had begun shifting. O’Malley brought the pistol up and fired a shot at the one nearest the circle. The bullet struck the side of the head, blowing brains, flesh, bone, and maggots all over the floor away from Roger and the circle. The maggots wriggled then crawled towards the body, which pushed itself to hands and knees, and continued a slow crawl towards the circle.

Roger felt the pull at his spell, and focused his senses. The pull of energy was to the moving corpse. Out of the edges of his perception, he could see the other bodies begin to slowly animate. As they began moving the pull on his circle increased. Growling a curse, Roger fed more power to the circle and watched the closest body begin to move faster towards him. O’Malley’s second shot tore into the body’s shoulder, propelling it onto its side, where it thrashed three-limbed and tried to right itself. Is it using my spell to power itself? Thought became action as Roger dropped the circle. The bodies furthest away dropped to the floor, inanimate. Only the closest continued moving. “Screw this,” Roger snarled, then called up a fire spell. The one armed body tried to reach for Roger, then disappeared in an oily burst of heat as the spell consumed it totally.

He stepped over to the next body, and burned it, then repeated with each body. “What was that? It didn’t act like any zombie I’d seen before”, O’Malley commented as Roger methodically burned the last body. Roger looked down at his employer and friend. “They’re not. It was something else. When I powered the spell, the bodies started moving. I think it was those maggots that were doing the work.”

“The maggots?”, O’Malley asked him. Roger nodded. He went over to one of the few that were still mobile. “Watch, I’m going to focus a little power at this one.” O’Malley watched as the maggot suddenly accelerated, crawling deliberately at Roger, growing to the size of a fat grub in mere moments. He glanced at Roger, who gasped, and stepped back. O’Malley took that as a cue, and stomped the growing maggot flat under his shoe.

“They feed on magic. I could feel it pulling at me. I was overconfident.”

O’Malley nodded. “You figured it out. That means you’ll know what to do next time we see them.”

“That’s true. I just hope we don’t need any magic soon. I need to rest.”

“Gentlemen, if you’re finished in there, you have visitors out here.” Lieutenant Kruger stepped into the doorway, then gasped, and covered her nose with one hand. “What did you do to the bodies? Burn them?”

Roger smiled mirthlessly. “Yes, they were infested.”

Lt. Kruger frowned, then glanced at O’Malley. “Your other ‘consultants’ arrived.” She fixed O’Malley with a irritated green-eyed gaze. “How about not destroying more evidence until after we’ve gotten some images to reference?”

O’Malley nodded. “Sure, so long as the evidence doesn’t try to jump anyone.”

Roger walked out onto the front porch of the house. He saw Marian, and Wally exit the vehicle. Marian smiled as she approached, which turned into a grimace as she got close enough to smell them. “Gods what have you two been doing? You smell like burned meat.”