Savage World of Horror

The Farmhouse
Season 1: Episode 7

Alder’s Creek, New Mexico
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

“Is that a little girl?” Zabloski asked while looking at the graveled road just passed the farmhouse.

Zabloski wasn’t the only one who noticed the little girl, who looked as though she couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. She wore a dirty long dress and her hair was unkempt.

As one, the birds all cawed and took flight towards the girl who screamed at the sight of the hundred of black feathered fiends swooping down on her.

To be continued…


Joe Holland
(Muscle for Hire)

David Zabloski
(Investigative Reporter for The Global Inquisitor)

Special Appearance By:

John Philips Dante
(Private Investigator)

The Birds
Season 1: Episode 6

Near the town of Alder’s Creek, New Mexico
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The powerful guitar’s chord progression, accompanied by the clear-cut drum beats and powerful yet simple bass lines made the car speakers pulsate, working them to the limit they were designed for.

Riding shotgun in Tim Dawson’s ‘67 Mustang Fastback, Monique Hutchinson kept rhythm to Highway to Hell, one of AC/DC’s greatest songs. She looked at her iPhone’s navigation app then looked outside her boyfriend’s car window.

They were on a desert road that didn’t seem to lead anywhere. Nothing but dry shrubs were on either side of the road. Only the occasional power pole indicated that they were still traveling through civilization.

“We’ve been on this road for nearly an hour now,” Monique said sounding concerned. Her cell phone was not getting a signal so the navigation app couldn’t track their location. “Why did you leave the main highway? We could have been in Roswell by now.”

“I thought it was a short—” Tim started to say.

Suddenly, something struck the car’s windshield punching a hole through it.

Monique screamed.

A large black bird went through the windshield and struck Tim’s face with enough force to cave it in. In horror, she realized that her boyfriend was no longer driving the car. And it was heading straight for a power pole on the side of the road!

Reacting, Monique grabbed the steering wheel. But she overcompensated, forcing the car to pull far to the right.

The car veered into an embankment and came to a sudden violent stop.

Monique’s head struck the Mustang’s dashboard.

Then the world went dark.

When she came to, Monique’s head felt as if someone had struck it with a sledgehammer. She looked to where her boyfriend lay dead behind the steering wheel. The bird that struck him earlier was still lodged in his head.

It looked like a crow.

Monique’s training as a nurse urged her to check herself for any injuries. Except for a few cuts, she was relatively fine—although the impact left her feeling dizzy.

She looked for her iPhone and was lucky enough to find it on the seat next to her.

She knew there wasn’t anything she could do for Tim. She carefully freed herself from the car. She fought the urge to panic as she climbed out of the embankment and stepped onto the road.

Monique looked at her iPhone There were no dots which meant she couldn’t call for help.

She went back to the car to see if maybe Tim’s Samsung cell phone was working.

After finding the cell phone where Tim had left it sticking out of the car’s cigarette case, she nearly broke down when it too showed no signs of getting a signal.

Monique made her way back up to the road. That’s when she saw them.

Crows. There were crows everywhere. Hundreds of them.

They were perched on top of the car and on the telephone pole, but most of them were on the road all around her. Monique sensed something wasn’t right. They were all quiet. Not one bird made a sound. And they all seemed to be looking—no, staring—at her.

A wave of fear washed over her.

She slowly started to walk towards the car. Maybe she would be safer inside. She hoped someone would eventually drive by and spot the wreck.

The crows all turned their heads, following her every step.

Then suddenly, as one, all of the crows cawed in anger, took flight and flew towards Monique.

Their cawing drowned out her screams.


Near the town of Alder’s Creek, New Mexico
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

David Zabloski’s BMW went into a sudden and violent spin. From the back seat, Joe Holland woke up after striking his head against the car door’s window.

Zabloski was jolted from his sleep when he felt the world suddenly start spinning. He opened his eyes and wished he hadn’t. He looked out the front passenger window and saw a power pole coming at him…or rather, his car was careening towards it.

Just as the BMW was about to crash, it suddenly stopped inches from the pole.

“Everyone alright?” John Dante asked. He was sitting behind the steering wheel. Both hands were caught in a death grip on the wheel. He was looking past Zabloski and couldn’t believe how close they had all come to hitting the pole.

“Good driving Dante,” Zabloski said.

“What happened?” Joe asked. He looked outside and saw how dark it had gotten since he fell asleep.

The drive from Albuquerque was long. From Angel City, they figured it would take approximately fifteen hours of nonstop driving to reach Alder’s Creek in New Mexico.

A few days ago, Zabloski was called in to her office by Miyoko K. Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief of the The National Inquisitor, the magazine company he worked for as an investigative journalist. Hamilton had talked to Zabloski and commended him for the great work he was doing. During their discussion, Hamilton recognized how Zabloski often risked himself personally to get at a story. She added that Zabloski was exactly the type of journalist she needed working on the company’s digital magazine, or e-zine, The Global Inquisitor. In a way it would be a promotion for Zabloski. The job would have its perks like being able to travel worldwide and being able to dip into company funds to help him complete his assignments.

Naturally, Zabloski graciously accepted.

Miyoko didn’t waste time. As soon Zabloski accepted, he was immediately given his first assignment. She wanted Zabloski to travel to a small town in New Mexico, not far from Roswell.

There had been reports of people claiming to see crows behaving strangely in the area near the town of Alder’s Creek. While birds acting weird wouldn’t normally elicit an investigation, Miyoko noticed that there had been other reports seemingly connected to Alder’s Creek.

Recently, a young couple on their way to Roswell had apparently decided to take a shortcut through Alder’s Creek on their way to Roswell. A call by one of the couple placed them near the small town before they disappeared. A state police’s investigation didn’t turn up anything.

When asked, Alder’s Creek only sheriff claimed not to have seen the young couple. With no further evidence proving the couple were even near Alder’s Creek, the investigation was closed.

It was assumed the young couple had both ran away together.

Joe got out of the car. The sting of the cold night helped to wake him up even more. The others followed and took out flashlights and their guns out of the trunk. That’s when Joe noticed that the car had a blowout. One of the back passenger tire was completely flat. “You hit something hard, Dante,” Joe said pointing to the tire.

All three walked back down the road to see what the car struck. They found what appeared to be a sharp metal piece lying on the road. They weren’t certain but it looked like it may have come off an older model car. They also found a badly dented hubcap in a ditch along the side of the road. It had the image of a horse on it.

“What kind of car was the missing couple in?” Dante asked.

“A ’67 Mustang Fastback,” Zabloski answered.

Joe swept the area with his flashlight. “Looks to me like they came through here,” he said.

“It sure does,” Zabloski said. “But the sheriff’s report said otherwise.”

“Let’s get the BMW’s tire fixed and have a talk with the sheriff then,” Joe said walking back to the car. “It’s just past eight. Early enough.”

Together, they got the car up and running again.

After a short drive, they came upon a closed gate that barred their way. They could clearly see a thick chain and padlock on the gate. A nearby brown sign read that Alder’s Creek was less than two miles further down the road.

“I thought this was a public road,” Joe said. “There shouldn’t be a gate here. Let’s go around then.”

“Can’t,” Dante said. “We’d have to drive into the ditch. This is a BMW, not a Jeep. And we certainly can’t go around the hillside on the left.”

“So now what?” Joe asked.

“I think we should wait until tomorrow morning,” Zabloski said. “Let’s stay here in the car for the night and head on out on foot in the morning. Maybe the sheriff might even come and unlock the gate for us by then.”

Despite not really wanting to, the group decided it was best to stay in the car until morning. They each took turn taking watch.

But as the night wore on, they couldn’t help but sit in wonder at the pervading silence that envelope them all in darkness.

It was as if some malignant force had turned the night’s volume completely off.

The group started very early the next day. No one had come to unlock the gate so they decided to leave Zabloski’s car behind and walk the two miles into town.

They had only walked about a mile along the road when they noticed hundreds of crows circling the area above them.

Suddenly, the crows broke into three murders, and flew straight down at the three.

“Run!” Dante yelled. The other two barely heard him as hundreds of birds descended upon Joe obscuring him from view. Only his pained scream could be heard above the crows’ cawing.

Zabloski, too, found himself fully surrounded by a whirlwind of black feathers, talons, and beaks. He could feel the birds pecking at every exposed part of his body. His kevlar vest protected much of his upper body. He quickly pumped his shotgun and let loose a blast which killed most of the birds around him.

Apparently, the single shot was enough. Having lost most of their numbers, the murder of crows around Zabloski soon scattered in all directions.

Free for the moment, Zabloski ran towards the trees for cover.

He was soon joined by Joe who was also injured in the attack, but had managed to shoot his way through the birds.

The last of the murders was destroyed by Dante who quickly joined Zabloski and Joe.

“Now what?” Joe asked still feeling the effects of the birds’ talons and beaks.

“Looks like a farmhouse just past those trees,” Zabloski pointed. “We need to get inside quick before more of them show up.”

By the time the three made it to the farmhouse, another murder of crows was quickly flying towards them.

Two more murders had joined the first when the three barely made it to the barn.

Inside, the barn was empty save for some old tools and several bundles of hay. A two farmhouse stood less than a hundred feet from the barn. But with the hundreds of birds perched outside of the barn, the house may as well have been a hundred miles away.

Joe got out his first aid kit and started patching up the cuts on himself. He then helped out Zabloski.

“Let’s catch our breaths and make our way to the farmhouse,” Zabloski said.

“I’m not sure the crows are going to let us off easy,” Joe said. He put the first aid kit back when he was done and walked to the barn’s opening. “I wonder why they don’t just fly in here after us?”

“I think it may be because there isn’t enough room for them to fly in together as a group or something,” Dante said. “I noticed back at the road how they tend to attack together like some school of fish or something. Apparently, they’re stronger together.”

“Well at least our shotguns can cut through them,” Zabloski said while reloading his shotgun. He then walked up to Joe and looked outside.

Hundreds of crows surrounded the barn on two sides. They could also hear the sounds of hundreds of birds moving around on the barn’s rooftop overhead.

For the moment, all three had an ominous feeling that they had just been corralled and trapped by the deadly crows.

To be continued in The Farmhouse


Joe Holland
(Muscle for Hire)

David Zabloski
(Investigative Reporter for The Global Inquisitor)

Special Appearance By:

John Philips Dante
(Private Investigator)

Blood and Bullets
Season 1: Episode 5

Abandoned Military Housing
San Pedro, CA
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A car was coming down the street.

From outside, light flooded into the room where Dante and David had just finished searching for clues as to who the cultists were trying to summon.

A large pentacle had been painted in blood on the room’s wooden floor. Even more strange was how the pentacle seemed to be glowing a deep crimson. Around the room, strange symbols covered every inch of the walls.

Zabloski recognized several of the symbols. They resembled those he saw in the art gallery at Carthage College.

They also found remnants of a meal along with dirty sleeping bags, discarded bottles of water, and several boxes of ammunitions for a 9mm handgun and a shotgun.

“Let’s hide!” Dante warned. He ducked into a nearby closet which was missing a door. He hoped the darkness would be enough to hide him.

Zabloski hid himself in the room’s small bathroom. He stepped into a doorless shower and held his readied his Glock handgun.

It felt like he was standing on something wet. He turned on his flashlight and aimed at the beneath him.

The shower stall was covered in blood!

They both heard the sound of a car parking in front of the abandoned house. They heard three or four people get out of the car and make their way inside the house.

Less than hour ago, David Zabloski received a call from Dante. Dante said an informant had given him a lead on possible cultists activity somewhere in the abandoned military housing in San Pedro. Dante recalled Zabloski’s recent brush with an art professor’s attempt to summon one of the Dark Gods at a college in Santa Monica, so decided to give Zabloski a call.

Together, they both quietly searched through several houses in the abandoned military housing in San Pedro before they came upon a dimly lit house.

They carefully made their way inside the house expecting to run into a cultist at any moment. What they found instead was a house being used for an evil ritual; possibly to summon any one of the Dark Gods.

The voices got louder.

When one of the cultists got close to the room where Dante and Zabloski were hiding, Zabloski jumped out from hiding and got the drop on a cultist wearing a leather jacket and T-shirt.

Zabloski spotted a Glock tucked in the man’s waist. He quickly fired off a shot that struck the man in the torso.

The cultist screamed in pain but did not drop. Instead, he drew his own weapon and fired a shot that splintered the doorframe right next to where Zabloski stood.

Dante was next. He ran up and fired from around a corner. His shot grazed the man but didn’t kill him outright.

The cultist ordered the others with him to take out the intruders while he ran back towards the living room.

The next cultist, a younger man wearing a leather vest, took out a handgun. He ducked behind a room and fired down the hallway at Dante and Zabloski. Meanwhile, a third cultist pumped his shotgun and covered the hallway from the living room.

Zabloski was struck by a shot to the torso. Lucky for him, the new Kevlar vest with the ceramic inserts he bought absorbed most of the impact.

Both sides exchange gunfire while one of the cultists, the one Zabloski struck first, made his way outside to the car.

Zabloski, who was standing by a window saw the cultist getting into the car. “One’s trying to get away!”

Dante yelled back at him while he covered the hallways. “Take him out!”

Zabloski fired at the escaping cultist. His shot struck the driver’s window, shattering it. But he didn’t hit the cultist.

From where he stood, Zabloski suddenly saw the barrel of a shotgun appear through a window. Apparently a cultist had made his way outside and tried to flank them.

“Dante, behind you!” Zabloski yelled.

With a deafening blast that drowned out Zabloski, the shotgun went off. The shot blew a hole in the back of Dante’s jacket.

Unbelievably, Dante’s Kevlar vest took the entire shot that would have put an end to the private investigator.

Dante turned around and ran back towards the closet for cover. He fired twice trough the window before ducking for cover.

Both shots struck the cultist in the chest killing him instantly!

Zabloski took advantage of the situation. He moved to the hallway and shot the remaining cultist down the hallway.

His shots struck the man who dropped to the floor, dead.

“The other’s getting away!” Dante yelled.

Turning back to the room, Zabloski saw the car speeding away down the street from the direction it came from. Taking a chance, he moved to the window and took a shot at the car before it disappeared around a corner.

The car kept on speeding away.

Eventually, the police were called as well as the paramedics. Dante gave his report and explained how he and Zabloski found the cultist in the abandoned house.

Detective Dean Lazarus also showed up and spoke to Zabloski.

As the ambulance drove off with Zabloski, he couldn’t help but feel that his encounters with evil cultists of the Dark Gods were just beginning.


David Zabloski
(Investigative Reporter for The National Inquisitor)

Special Appearance By:

John Philips Dante
(Private Investigator and Shadow Chaser)

The Lair in Bel Air
Season 1: Episode 4

Abandoned Mansion
Bel Air, CA
Monday, January 13, 2014

The door splintered in with each chop of Joe Holland’s sharp axe.

“Well, the stealthy approach is definitely out,” Dante said sarcastically.

With a powerful swing of Joe’s axe, the door splintered into large pieces. Light shone into the mansion’s dark foyer.

Joe stepped in after Dante. “Heeeres, Joey!” Joe said imitating the famous line from The Shining.

Inside, the mansion’s foyer was cloaked in darkness. It smelled of ancient dust. The tell-tale scent of copper also lingered in the air. “That’s the smell of blood,” Joe said.

Dante found a light switch and turned the lights on. The foyer was suddenly bathed in light by a large crystal chandelier and wall sconces.

The mansion’s interior was surprisingly lacking in expensive decor one would expect in a Bel Air mansion. No paintings decorated the walls. Except for two marble statues at the top of each of the stairs, no other art objects were visible. Carpeted grand stairs led from either side of the foyer up to the mansion’s second floor. Four marble columns supported the high vaulted ceiling overhead, while large-cut travertine tiles covered every square inch of the ground floor.

On the ground floor, the group noticed three doors which led farther into the rest of the mansion. There were three similar looking doors upstairs.

Everyone decided to search the rooms downstairs before going upstairs.

But as they carefully made their way to the stairs, a door on the ground floor’s far right burst opened. A door suddenly opened upstairs too.

From each door, a vampire emerged with fangs bared and claws cutting deep gouges into the doorframe. Each one wore a loose shirt and faded jeans.

When they saw the intruders, each one’s jaw hyperextended and then let out an ear-splitting roar.

Soon a battle against the bloodsucking undead was underway.

Thanks to the garlic-infused ammunition Whittaker had made for everyone, vampires were being slaughtered just as fast as they were being found. With each shotgun blast, a chop from Joe’s axe and a fatal cut from Dante’s katana, every vampire the group run into went down in an explosion of ash.

In a short time, every room was searched.

And n o vampire they came across was spared.

Zabloski was nearly lost however, when a vampire savagely raked him across his chest. After the vampire that nearly killed Zabloski was destroyed, Whittaker and then Joe worked on Zabloski’s injuries.

Although suffering from his wounds, Zabloski was able to continue on the hunt for more vampires.

“These vampires we’ve been dropping are pretty easy to take on,” Joe said with confidence. “I always thought vampires were a lot tougher.”

“There are kinds that are not killed so easily from what I’ve heard,” Dante offered. “I think we’re just lucky to be fighting the weaker kinds.” He reloaded his shotgun and pumped it, ready to take on more of the creatures.

The pain Zabloski felt where he was raked near his stomach didn’t feel like it was made by a “weaker” vampire, Zabloski thought.

Later, the group found a set of stairs, possibly leading to a basement, on the first floor.

“Perfect place for a meth-lab,” Joe said pointing towards the stairs leading down. He was referring to what the group learned was possibly an organized crime ring ran in part by the vampires. In their investigation, and by talking to Detective Dean Lazarus of the Angel City PD, there had been unconfirmed reports of drug dealers showing signs of superhuman—or supernatural—strength and abilities.

It was obvious that some of the drug dealers may have been, in fact, vampires.

When the group entered the basement, they found that it did contain all the necessary equipment to produce illegal drugs.

They also ran into three more vampires. One of them was armed with a .50 caliber Desert Eagle handgun. Dante recognized him as Butch Miller, the drug dealer Marilee described as the one who forced her to hide drugs in her parents’ restaurant.

The group quickly slew two vampires before Dante was able to reach Butch and cut him in half with his razor-sharp katana.

“That’s for Marilee,” Dante said as he watched Butch explode into ashes.


Everyone quickly searched the basement and found a book containing the names of drug dealers and peddlers all across Angel City. Many of the names were marked with a lower-case “v” which they suspect marked them as “vampires”.

They knew the information they found could prove invaluable in the future.

After setting the basement on fire, the group left the mansion feeling satisfied that they had in some small way helped turn the growing tide of evil which threatened to destroy Angel City.


Joe Holland
(Bounty Hunter)

Whittaker Longstreet

David Zabloski
(Investigative Reporter for The National Inquisitor)

Special Appearance By:

John Philips Dante
(Private Investigator and Shadow Chaser)

Season 1: Episode 3

The National Inquisitor
Downtown Angel City
Thursday, January 9, 2014

The phone intercom chimed in while David was busy talking to Debra on his iPhone. “Mr. Zabloski, there’s a call for you on line six,” the front desk receptionist said with the same crusty monotone voice which always reminded David of Roz, the old lady from Monsters Inc.

Irritated beyond the normal irritation he felt whenever he heard Miss Virginia Jackson, the receptionist speak, David pushed his desk phone’s intercom button. “Miss Roz…I mean Miss Jackson, can you please take a message?”

“I would, but the man on the phone is being pushy.”

“Did he happen to give you his name?” David asked, hoping she was catching on to his irritated tone.

“He said his name was Dante.”

At the mention of the man’s name, David quickly got back on his iPhone and after promising to get together with Debra at their favorite restaurant after work, he immediately switched over to his desk phone.

“Mr. Dante,” David said as he fumbled for a pad of paper and a pen. “I’ve been trying to contact you for days.”

The voice on the other of his cell phone sounded a little like Christian Bale in the role of Batman in The Dark Knight series. “Yeah. I kinda figured considering the amount of voice messages you left. Sorry, but I was out of town for a while.”

“I was wondering if you can drop by my office sometime soon,” David said. “Dr. James Lindon spoke highly of you and recommended that I contact you regarding any unusual assignments I may need help with. You may not remember me, but we’ve met before. I was with you when the morgue—.”

“I remember you. You’re the reporter who packs heat. Well listen, how about you drop by my place tomorrow afternoon so we can talk. As a matter of fact, I’m going to be working on a case this weekend that you may find interesting. It might be perfect for an article for your tabloid—.”

“—magazine.” David corrected.

“…magazine.” Dante conceded.


Dante’s Home
Downtown Angel City
Friday, January 10, 2014

David’s iPhone’s GPS showed that he was at the right address. But looking around, all he saw were some rundown old warehouses and ruined buildings that had seen better days. David was beginning to wonder if being in this part of Angel City late on a Friday afternoon was a good idea.

David was about to put his BMW in reverse when a nearby warehouse gate slowly started to open.

When the gate was halfway up, David noticed a man in his mid to late twenties standing at the top of a large ramp to a huge warehouse. Black hair hung loosely from a green beenie he had on. He also had on a pair of faded jeans and a black T-shirt with a message on the front that read, “I don’t want to kill you and you don’t want to die.” He also sported a pair of black biker boots. Tattoos were visible on both his arms.

David immediately recognized Dante.

When the warehouse’s massive gate reached the top, Dante waved for him to drive his BMW up the ramp and into the warehouse.

He did and found himself parked inside a large industrial warehouse which had somehow been converted into a rather large, spacious home. The ground floor was large enough to park two cars in and still have room for a kitchen, a huge living room complete with leather couches, a pool table, a fully-equipped bar, an old Wurlitzer juke box, a dart board on the wall and a wall-mounted 60" flatscreen TV. David also spotted a Ducati Diavel parked right next to the leather couch.

Just past the living room area, the warehouse had a work area equipped with an array of machinist’s tools.

Next to the work area, David noticed a gym complete with the latest equipment to rival the LA Fitness club David hadn’t gone to in a while despite the exuberant annual fee he had grudgingly paid for.

Factory-like stairs led up to the warehouse’s second floor which David assumed led to the bedroom, or bedrooms, considering how much space there was available.

Under the stairs, David saw an office built with a large window looking out into the living room. From where he stood, the office was equipped with the latest Apple towers, monitors, and wall-mounted interactive touch screens one usually sees on TV shows like CSI: Miami.

Dante walked up to David and shook his hands. “So what do you think of the place?” Dante asked David who, out of habit, tapped the car alarm fob on his keychain. The BMW’s alarm chirp seemed a thousand times louder inside the warehouse.

“I think I clearly picked the wrong line of work to be in.”

For the next hour, David and Dante caught each other up on their latest encounters with the paranormal. It had been nearly two years since they last worked together and a lot had happened since.

David talked about all that happened on Catalina Island during the past summer and what little he found out about a government experiment regarding something called the Lazarus Effect. Despite the island-wide outbreak of some virus which turned those infected into fast-moving ravenous zombies straight out of a movie like 28 Days Later, the government did a good job of covering up the whole incident and explaining the outbreak as a new strain of avian influenza, or bird flu virus, that had contaminated the island’s water supply.

David also told Dante about the more recent events involving Professor Fairchild’s attempt at summoning one of the Dark Gods.

Dante was fascinated by David’s experience on Catalina. He said that it seemed to match events similar to what he experienced on a recent case in Arizona. The case took him to a small Hopi village near the Mexican border. Strangely enough, the village was also only a few miles from an army testing facility.

Dante explained how the village was infected with a virus that had quickly spread to every man, woman, and child. A relative of one of the villager who lived in Tucson called Dante and asked him to investigate what was happening to the village and its people.

When Dante arrived, the village was swarming with infected villagers who were all trying to eat every living thing in sight. Dante barely managed to escape but not before a convoy of soldiers from the nearby base came in with guns blazing. From atop a distant hill, Dante helplessly watched as the army decimated the entire village then quickly quarantined the area.

Just like the incident on Catalina, the government covered up what happened to the village and blamed it on a bird flu outbreak.

David couldn’t believe the similarity in their experiences.

“It sure looks like you’re doing alright,” David said looking around the warehouse.

“I’ve been lucky enough to land a client like Katherine Vanderhill,” David said. “She’s hired me on as a personal private investigator.”


“Katherine Vanderhill.” Dante said. "I’m surprise you’ve never heard of her. The Vanderhills are one of the top ten richest family in America. Mrs. Vanderhill is an eccentric old lady who lives in a secluded mansion in the Palos Verdes Estates. The Vanderhill family history reads like a who’s who of scandalous, adulterous, murderous, and any other “ouses” affairs."

David was intrigued. “So what are you investigating for Mrs. Vanderhill?”

“Mrs. Vanderhill believes an old relative of hers had checked himself into the Healthy Minds Hospital in Boyle Heights back before the hospital was shut down in 1925. His name was Samuel Vanderhill. He had checked into the hospital and was never heard from again.”

“That name sounds familiar.”

“It should. He was the mayor of Angel City at the time of his disappearance. To date, no one knows where he disappeared to. Samuel Vanderhill was a bit hysterical at times and, according to some secret files I came across, frequently checked himself into Healthy Minds for two to three-day stays. He always felt better after his stays, but when he felt his mind beginning to crack, he would hurry back to Healthy Minds for his regular therapy. Naturally, his staff looked into his disappearance. The hospital denied ever having him as a patient.”

David nodded towards Dante’s office with its expensive equipment. “So, how difficult would it be to look up if someone was a patient at the hospital? These days, celebrities can’t go unnoticed checking themselves into hospitals for plastic surgery, rehab, or for trying to escape their cursed fame.”

“It’s harder than you think,” Dante said. “I tried to access any files or records from Healthy Minds online. I even tried to go to the county archives’ office and didn’t get anywhere.”

“Too many files to go through?” David asked. “Maybe I can help.”

Too many files would be a nice problem to have,” Dante said.

“So what’s the problem?”

“The problem is…there aren’t any files to search through at all.”

David was stunned. “What do you mean there aren’t any files? The hospital’s files must have been archived after it closed…right?”

“That’s just it. Apparently, the files were never moved. It was as if the doors of the hospital were unexpectedly closed without notice. There are no records of files ever being removed from the facility.”

“Okay, so what about the patients? Where did they get transferred to?”

“That’s where it gets really weird. There are no records of patients being transferred at all.”

“You mean…the patients were left at the hospital when it closed down?”

Dante was slowly nodding.

“What kind of hospital did you say Healthy Minds was?” David asked despite knowing what the answer may be.


The answer sent chills up his spine. “So…know any good places to eat around here?” David inquired trying to change the subject.

“Sure do.” Dante said. “I know a great hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant on the west side. Their Chicken Marsala is to die for!”


Josephina’s Restaurant
Downtown Angel City
Friday, January 10, 2014

“Dante!” Eddie Settimio, Josephina’s chef and owner, said as he gave Dante a hug. “It’s been a while. How come you don’t drop by more often, eh?”

Dante said that if he came to Josephina’s as much he would like to, he’d have to hit the gym twice as hard every time. Dante then introduced David to Eddie, his wife Vicky, and their college-age daughter, Marilee.

Eddie offered both men a table and told them to order whatever they wanted. He said for them not to worry since their meal was on the house!

Soon the two were busy eating. Eddie was also gracious enough to pair their meal with a bottle of the restaurant’s finest Barbera, a varietal wine produced mainly in the Piedmont region and known for its dry but intense berry flavor. It went perfectly with their meal.

“This Chicken Marsala is amazing!” David said. “It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.”

“I knew you’d like this place,” Dante said biting into another forkful of spaghetti, his favorite dish at Josephina’s.

“So tell me more about the hauntings at this restaurant,” David said sounding like the investigator he is. “What you told me about it on the way here sounded interesting.”

Dante began telling David about the building’s rather strange and even sordid past. According to what Eddie Settimio told Dante, the building was built in 1897 and housed a general store until 1907, when it became a barber shop until 1918.

It reopened in 1920 as a gentleman’s club, but really it was a speakeasy and brothel. The brothel was the site of several murders, including that of a prostitute named Emma May Frye, who was stabbed to death by a drunken customer in 1927. It was closed in 1930 and remained shuttered until it was bought by Eduardo Settimio in 1938.

An immigrant from Italy, Eduardo left his native Italy to escape the fascist regime that he knew what slowly destroying his beloved country. A chef by trade, he quickly established the restaurant and named it after his young wife, Josephina. With hard work, a talent for quality food, and patience, Josephina’s thrived and Eduardo, now called Grandpa Ed, was able to pass the restaurant on to his son in 1978, who did likewise when he passed away in 2000. Eddie Settimio is the third and current owner and his wife Vicky is the manager. Their daughter, Marilee, helps by waiting tables and making home deliveries.

Grandpa Ed passed away in 1993, and soon after the family noticed strange goings on in the restaurant. Objects would vanish and reappear in odd locations, lights flickered for no reason, and the odors of Grandpa Ed’s favorite dishes permeated the restaurant long after the kitchen closed. The family attributed it to good old Grandpa Ed and didn’t think much of it. Until recently that is.

Pablo, the busboy, and Eddie have also claimed to have seen the ghost of a young woman in the upstairs dining room. The apparition seems to only appear in the presence of men.

Soon after Thanksgiving, Grandpa Ed’s antics took a nasty turn. Pots, pans, and glasses rattled for no reason, the gas burners ignited by themselves, and both patrons and workers have been shoved, scratched, or tripped.

Marilee seemed to have taken the worst of the abuse. She’s even received bruises . Vicky was once locked up in the dry and cold storage room. She swore that although Marilee was upstairs in the office at the time, no one was in the kitchen when the door closed on her.

“And it’s been like that ever since?” David asked.

“From what Eddie has told me, yes.”

“Any idea what caused Grandpa Ed to go postal on his family?”

“Not sure.”

David looked to where Eddie, Vicky, and Marilee were busy tending to the restaurant’s numerous customers. “Well, something happened. I’ll question everyone after the place closes and see if I can figure out what’s got Grandpa teed off.”

“Sounds good.” Dante said. “I considered calling Father Blatty about maybe performing an exorcism here, but the Settimio’s not willing to exorcise Grandpa Ed out of their lives. Can’t say I blame them. But, they do want to get to the bottom of this before anyone else gets hurt.”


After the restaurant closed, David began questioning everyone who worked at Josephina’s.

He started with Eddie who simply repeated the building’s history and brought up seeing the young woman upstairs.

David then interviewed Vicky who didn’t add anything new, except how a few nights ago, she overheard Marilee talking to a couple of people out in the back alley. When Vicky went to see if Marilee was alright, she insisted that no one was out there—despite Vicky seeing two men leaving in a car at the end of the alley.

David sat down with Maggie, the young woman Eddie and Vicky hired to help wait on tables during the holiday crowd. Maggie reminded David of a Goth with her heavy mascara, pasty white skin, and darkened short-cropped hair.

When David introduced himself, Maggie’s face lit up. “Are you the David Zabloski who writes for The National Inquisitor?” Maggie asked sounding a bit giddy for David’s comfort.

“You’ve heard of me?”

“Of course! My friends and I love your articles and blogs about all those strange stuff. Wow! Wait till I tell my roommates that I’ve met you. Can I please have an autograph?”

While David penned his signature on a copy of the restaurant’s take-out menu, he asked Maggie about the going ons in the restaurant both strange or otherwise.

Maggie gave the same account as everyone had so far, but added that she had seen Marilee talking to a couple of tough-looking guys in the alley several nights ago. When she asked Marilee about it, Marilee denied talking to anyone and told her to mind her own business.

“Is there anything else you can tell me?” David asked noting how heavy Maggie’s mascara really was. He wondered if the gothic subculture was a direct result of the increasing amount of supernatural presence in the world, or were goths—like so many other subcultures—representational of the forlorn, yet paradoxically angst-driven youth of the current generation.

The world may never know, David thought.

“I’m worried about Marilee,” Maggie said sounding genuinely concerned. “I know enough to tell that…she’s on something. I mean…I’ve seen friends look like that…and she’s definitely on something.”

David thanked Maggie and promised to look into what she said. He then went upstairs to talk to Pablo and Marilee.

Pablo mentioned the same strange occurrences that had been happening in the restaurant since he started working there three years ago. He also mentioned seeing, in the upstairs dining area, the ghost of a young woman dressed in a revealing lingerie; a vision he wished would haunt his house sometime. “I wouldn’t mind that chica hanging around mi casa,” Pablo said.

When asked about any other unusual sightings, Pablo said he had seen a car driving away from the alley a couple of times during the past week. Each time, Marilee was in the alley. When he asked if she was okay, Marilee just ignored him and walked back into the restaurant.

David decided it was time to ask Marilee some questions.

He found her in the office. Just before he stepped inside, he noticed that she was on her cell phone but had quickly placed the phone down when he stepped into the office.

“Marilee,” David said walking into the small office. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you some questions about what’s been going on.”

“Go for it,” Marilee said. She put her cell phone away then began sorting through some customer receipts piled on the desk.

“Can you tell me about anything out of the ordinary going on in your parents’ restaurant?”

Marilee told David about the usual hauntings and ghostly sightings but would not elaborate on anything beyond what David had already heard from everyone he’d questioned.

Knowing he wasn’t getting anywhere, David decided to thrown down his cards. “Can you tell me more about the people you’ve been secretly meeting in the alley doing the past few weeks?”

The look on Marilee’s face was revealing.

“I…I, don’t know what you’re talking about,” Marilee lied.

“Look, I’m here to help. I know about your meeting with whomever those people were. If you’re in some kind of trouble you need to tell me so I can help.” David tried to further persuade her to admit what he already suspected.

Marilee’s eyes began to water. “I’m in a lot of trouble and I’m afraid of what might happen to my Mom and Dad if they found out.”

“Who are those guys you’ve been talking to in the alley?”

“Drug dealers.” Marilee confessed. “I’ve been using meth and I owe them a lot of money. Besides getting the stuff I need, they’ve forced me to hide some of their supplies in the restaurant’s storage room.”

“How much do you owe, and who’s your main dealer?”

“About fifty thousand to a guy named Butch Miller. He’s even tried to pimp me out to repay him, but I refused to do that!” Marilee starting crying some more. "I’m scared. Butch is called “The Butcher” because of what he’s done to people who—"

“—David!” Both Marilee and David heard Dante’ yell from downstairs. “You need to come down here…now!”


When David arrived downstairs, he saw two tough-looking guys standing by the kitchen. One had a bat in his hand, while the other held a switchable.

Dante was standing near the closest goon.

David raised his hand to try to reason with the man holding the switchblade. “I know why you guys are here. Maybe we can work something out.”

David looked to where Dante was while trying to decide on his next move.

“Mind your own business,” the man with the bat warned. He pointed the bat at David. “or I’ll knock out your pearly whites with this Louisville!”

David saw Dante quickly move towards the man with the switchblade. Dante punched the man in the gut, but he may as well have struck a wall by the way the man ignored his attack.

In response, the man’s mouth hyperextended as he let out an unearthly roar! Teeth that were once normal grew into a mouthful of jagged fangs resembling those of a piranha’s. He then buried the switchblade into the nearby wall while his hands transformed into sharp claws.

A wave of fear threatened to sweep over everyone in the restaurant at the sight of the horrific creatures.

The man—or whatever he was—then tried to rake Dante across his chest.

Dante was barely able to dodge the attack.

David moved past Dante and pulled himself over the order counter. He landed inside the kitchen next to the other goon with the bat. He took out his Glock and fired twice striking the man in the torso. To his horror, the bullets didn’t seem to have much affect on the man.

The man opened his mouth to reveal rows of razor-sharp fangs. “If that’s the best you can do, you’re dead meat!” it snarled.

Eddie, who was standing in the kitchen next to David, tried to hit the man with an iron skillet. The man brought his arm up and slapped the skillet aside.

A glass container came flying through between David and Eddie. It struck the man in the chest. Its lid opened, spilling what smelled like garlic powder all across the man’s torso. The man hissed, seemingly bothered by the garlic powder which covered most of his body.

Meanwhile, Dante took out his gun and shot the goon in front of him. His bullet went through just below the man’s shoulder blade. The shot didn’t even phase him.

The sound of a car horn blared in the alley.

Both men then turned and began running out towards the restaurant’s back entrance.

One made it out, but the other didn’t take two steps before David struck him hard in the back with the butt of his Glock.

By the sound of it, David had broken the man’s spine with a single hit!

The man fell screaming.

His body then began to bubble and burst into flames. Within seconds, nothing was left but a small pile of ashes where the man had once stood.

Everyone heard the screech of a car peeling away in the alley.

Dante was already moving towards the front door. “David, let’s go after them!”


“You could use some practice chasing bad guys in a car,” Dante said to David sarcastically. “Maybe I should have driven.”

David sat in the driver’s seat of his BMW and looked out of the windshield towards the dark mansion at the end of the street. “At least they weren’t any better. I didn’t lose them, right?”

“Good point.” Dante said as he marked their location on his iPhone’s GPS. The GPS placed them deep inside Bel Air, an affluent neighborhood in Westside Angel City.

“So now what?” David asked.

Neither was sure about what to make of the attack at the restaurant. They didn’t know what they were up against. Neither had encountered anything like the two creatures before.

Rather than risk themselves any further, they decided to head back to Josephina’s to make sure everyone was alright.

When they got back, Marilee had told them how she had confessed everything to her parents. Although distraught, Eddie and Vicky were relieved that no one was hurt.

“I think I understand why Grandpa Ed’s antics have been more malevolent lately,” David said. He went on to explain how perhaps because of Marilee’s involvement with drugs and those—whatever they were—, Grandpa Ed’s spirt was angry. After all, he clearly loves his family and would be naturally bothered by anything that would harm his family or the family’s business.

David said he would give his friend, Detective Dean Lazarus of the Angel City PD a call in the morning to see what he can do to help.

Meanwhile, Dante suggested that Eddie lock up the restaurant and that they all go to his place where it was safer for the family to stay. Pablo and Maggie who were both upstairs when the incident occurred went home.

Before leaving the restaurant, Dante looked for the stash of drugs Marilee had hidden for Butch. He flushed it all down the toilet.

The next morning, using the computer in Dante’s office, both David and he did some research as to what they were up against. They discovered that they were indeed fighting what they feared: vampires. Fortunately, they learned that unlike the traditional kind of vampires like Dracula , which everyone knows about, there are other kinds of vampires as well.

The kind they fought and had slain last night matched the description of a Vampire Minion. Relatively easier to kill, Vampire Minions have an aversion to garlic which explained why the goon with the bat was annoyed by the garlic powder Vicky Settimio threw at him. Although garlic doesn’t hurt minions, it offers some protection against their attacks.

They also learned that weapons made from wood inflict more damage against the bloodsuckers. However, bullets and all weapons that simply “pierce” flesh do little harm against vampires.

“We need better weapons,” Dante sighed. “I’m glad my Katana comes in handy against them.”

“Yeah, we need to go shopping for more effective weapons than our pistols.” David said. “I’ll call Detective Lazarus. He’s my connection with the ACPD. He might be able to offer us some backup.”

David called Detective Lazarus who wanted to help David but was unable to. He did however share that his department had had problems with drug dealers on the streets at night who, according to certain eye witnesses and police reports, exhibited superhuman strengths and abilities.

The descriptions on the police reports matched the descriptions David gave of the two goons who threatened the Settimios.

Lazarus suggested that David have Dante get a search warrant and then contact others who might be able to help them investigate the mansion. He offered to help as soon as he was able.

David took out his iPhone and began searching through his contacts for anyone who might be able to help them fight against the bloodsucking undead.

To be continued in The Lair in Bel Air, Chasing Shadows: Act 2


David Zabloski
(Investigative Reporter for The National Inquisitor)

Special Appearance By:

John Philips Dante
(Private Investigator and Shadow Chaser)

The Summoning
Season 1: Episode 2

Carthage College
Santa Monica, Angel City
Sunday, December 22, 2013

The campus directory showed that the Art Department was only two buildings away.

David quickly made his way and entered the large three-story building just as a loud clap of thunder reverberated overhead.

Inside, the Art Department had brightly lit wide hallways and a lot more glass cases on walls displaying the latest information about nearby coffee houses, local bands, and upcoming art shows.

David turned down a narrower hallway to try and find a directory of offices when he ran into a campus police officer standing in front of a bulletin board.

The officer turned to regard David with a strange look. “Can I help you, sir?” the officer asked.

“I could use your help,” David said noting that the officer’s name tag read Patrick Koontz. “I’m looking for Professor Ellis Fairchild and I believe Dr. James Lindon may be in danger.” David went on to tell Officer Koontz about everything, from the time he received the frantic call from Dr. Lindon to his arriving in the professor’s rummaged office. He intentionally left out the attack from the crazed woman. Besides, he couldn’t quite figure out how to explain the woman’s body dissolving.

The officer didn’t quite know what to make of David’s claim. He tried to get on his radio to call another officer, but all he got was static. “Damn this storm,” Officer Koontz cursed. “It’s somehow messing with our radios.”

After the officer asked to see his identifications, David asked if he can go see Professor Fairchild and ask her if she knew where Dr. Lindon was. The officer said he would accompany David to see the professor who happened to be working in the gallery on the third floor.


On the third floor, Officer Koontz stood in front of the doors leading into the gallery. He looked through one of the door’s small window and motioned for David to stay put.

“What is it?” David asked. “What do you see?”

“I’m not sure,” Officer Koontz said as he tried his radio again. It still wasn’t working. “I think there’s something weird going on in the gallery. Stay here…for your own safety.”

“I’d like to go.” David insisted.

“Suit yourself.” Officer Koontz said as he unlocked the door and quietly stepped inside the gallery.

Inside, the gallery was spacious. Large display stands took up half of the gallery floor. A strange glow dimly illuminated the back half of the large gallery, while overhead lights flickered on and off throwing shadows across the gallery’s front half. David could just make out a large walk-in kiln built into a corner on the other side of the room.

David walked past abstract bronze sculptures sitting on top of the display stands. David, not one for modern art, couldn’t make anything of what he saw.

Why can’t artists just sculpt statues that look like people? David thought. He recalled admiring the detailed miniature figures he and his friends used for playing Dungeons & Dragons when he was a teenager. Now those were sculptures!

In front of him, Officer Koontz motioned for him to hang back for a moment.

“Professor Fairchild,” Officer Koontz said out loud. “I’m Officer Koontz with campus police. Are you in here?”

There was no response.

David and Officer Koontz both made their way deeper into the room and saw a sight that stopped both men in their tracks.

Professor Fairchild was standing in front of large pentagram painted on the gallery’s wooden floor. She was dressed in a dark gray robe. She held a carved wooden staff in one hand and a dagger in the other. Three abstract sculptures similar to the ones on the display stands David saw earlier were placed on three opposing tips of the pentagram. One was shaped to resemble wind blowing. The next looked like a large clump of dirt, while the third resembled a large wave. A fourth, sculpted to look like a fiery blaze stood just outside the pentagram.

Opposite from where Fairchild was standing, David saw a thin, hunched individual gently rocking back and forth. Long, black hair covered the strange figure’s face. Like the woman who attacked him earlier, this person was also holding a knife in his hand.

Suddenly Fairchild looked towards where David and Officer Koontz were standing.

“You are not welcome here!” Fairchild yelled. “The summoning is almost complete. My master will soon walk upon the earth and he will turn me into the greatest artist this world has ever known!”

Officer Koontz had his hand on his sidearm holster while pointing to the professor with his other hand. “Professor, please put that knife down,” he ordered.

The professor gave Officer Koontz an angry glare. “You will not ruin my plans!” she yelled. She then turned to the disfigured person on the other side of the pentagram. “Kill them both!”

The disfigured figure shuffled towards Officer Koontz and tried to stab him. Officer Koontz ducked under the deadly slash.

David desperately tried to assess the situation he found himself in when he heard someone screaming from the direction of the kiln. It sounded like Dr. Lindon calling for help. And he was inside the kiln!

David ran to the kiln and quickly looked through the small window built into the thick steel door. He saw Dr. Lindon inside. The professor was coughing; clearly he was having a hard time breathing. David tried the door handle but found it was locked. He turned to the kiln’s control panel and discovered that it had been turned on full heat and was then tampered with.

There was no way David was going to turn off the kiln!

“Dr. Lindon!” David tried to yell through the door’s window. “The door’s locked and the control’s destroyed.”

Dr. Lindon, who was slowly succumbing to the kiln’s intense heat, limped to the door’s window. “Fairchild has the key!” Dr. Lindon yelled.

“…And you will not get it,” Fairchild said. The art professor quickly dropped her carved wooden staff to the floor. With her left hand free, she began to move it in a pattern while simultaneously chanting words that to David seemed gibberish.

Suddenly, a strange gray mist began to form in her hand and coalesce into a sharp thorn-like shape about the size of a dagger. With a flick of her wrist she hurled the thorn at David who leaped against the kiln to avoid being struck.

From across the room where Officer Koontz was busy fighting against Fairchild’s minion, David heard gunshots.

knowing he was in no less danger than the officer, David took out his gun, a 9mm Glock 19 he bought for protection. “Office Koontz!” David cried out. “For the record, I have a license for this gun!” David turned the safety off and took two quick shots at Fairchild.

His shots went wide.

David didn’t want to know what it felt like to get hit by the bolts Fairchild was throwing, so he ducked behind a steel rolling tray.

Fairchild began chanting again and waving both of her hands. Her gray robe suddenly began to move as if blown by an unseen wind. Loose folds of her robe began to move around as if forming a kind of textile barrier around her.

David took two rapid shots and struck the professor. Unfortunately, one of his shots only managed to graze her. The other was, amazingly enough, deflected by a piece of Fairchild’s robe which were flailing around her like dozens of tentacles.

Seconds later, David heard Officer Koontz take two more shots at the minion. David heard a scream of pain and saw the minion drop to the floor. He then saw Officer Koontz step towards the professor, his service piece aimed at Fairchild.

A painful scream from inside the kiln reminded David that Dr. Lindon’s time was quickly running out.

Fairchild screamed in fury and hurled a deadly bolt at Officer Koontz who barely managed to avoid the attack. Officer Koontz quickly raised his gun at Fairchild and fired.

Fairchild dropped to the floor. Blood began to flow from where she had been shot.

David ran to the professor’s side. A pained groan escaped her lips. David was surprised to find that she was still alive. He quickly searched her for the keys to the kiln.


The Santa Monica police arrived soon after Officer Koontz was able to call for backup.

Dr. Lindon, grateful to David for saving him, explained that he suspected Professor Fairchild was dabbling in the occult when he dropped by her office and noticed books she had on the subject. His suspicions led him to reexamine the recent suicide and accidental deaths that seemed to lead back to the art department and in particular, Professor Fairchild. When he confronted Fairchild, she denied his claims and threatened him should he continue to delve into her affairs.

Dr. Lindon added that the professor was angered over her being skipped when the college president hired a new chair to oversee the struggling art department. According to Dr. Lindon, Fairchild believed that summoning the Dark God, Jjrikillimsg, would give her the power she needed to exact revenge on those who, in her mind, had hurt her career.

After listening to Dr. Lindon, David vowed to investigate the possibility that Professor Fairchild’s involvement in the occult and attempts at summoning Jjrikillimsg may be larger in scope. He wondered if there aren’t more cultists out there, all trying to bring into the world the apocalyptic return of the Dark Gods.

David had experienced enough supernatural events to know that putting the Russian mafia’s attempt at mixing demon-tainted blood with normal people, the recent zombie invasion on Catalina Island, and other strange phenomenons aside, cultist trying to summon Dark Gods into the world was definitely going to be a game-changer for everyone on Earth.

Dr. Lindon handed David a card with a name and phone number on it. Dr. Lindon suggested that David contact the name on the card should he need help with any future investigations.

David looked at the name on the card. It read, John Philips Dante.

Dr. Lindon said that Dante was one of his former students and like David is very much interested in the investigating the bizarre and the supernatural.

David knew Dante—as he liked to be called.

He and Dante had worked together on a few cases involving zombies at Teleport Industry’s corporate office, an attack by a creature at the city morgue, and another case where a Grimlock—a subterranean creature right out of an H.G. Wells novel—terrorized an apartment building in Santa Monica.

David knew that Dante worked as a private investigator, but considered himself a Shadow Chaser on the side. Shadow Chasers were people dedicated to finding and eliminating malevolent supernatural creatures.

When the paramedics arrived, Professor Fairchild—who had survived her gunshot wounds—was taken to the hospital under police escort. Her minion, however, did not survive the encounter.

Dr. Lindon was taken to another hospital where he urged David to drop in and visit him soon. Meanwhile, David and Officer Koontz were questioned by the police. At Dr. Lindon’s urging, Officer Koontz’s report did not include any mention of any supernatural occurrences he had witnessed. David’s report was similarly lacking in details involving incidents the public should not know or more accurately, was not ready to accept.

After the paramedics cleared David, he left Carthage College, but not before he took out his iPhone and pushed the contact number for Debra.

Perhaps the holidays could turn out merry after all, David thought.


David Zabloski
(Investigative Reporter for The National Inquisitor)

Special Appearance By:

Dr. James Lindon
(Expert on Parapsychology and Tribal Religious Practices)

Officer Patrick Koontz
(Carthage Community College campus police)

A Strange Call
Season 1: Episode 1

Carthage College
Santa Monica, Angel City
Sunday, December 22, 2013

David Zabloski’s cell phone’s ringtone played the X-Files theme song indicating he had an incoming call.

He was busy making copies after deciding to stop by his office on a rainy Sunday evening, and by the time he snatched his iPhone off of his paper-strewn desk, the call had gone to his voice message. He hoped it was Debra, the attractive blonde he met at the shooting range two weeks ago. She found his job as an investigative reporter for The National Inquisitor interesting, while he found her interest in firearms equally alluring. They had gone on one date so far and she had promised to give him a call right before the holidays.

If the call was from Debra, the holidays would be looking pretty merry after all, David thought.

But as he looked at the message on his iPhone’s screen, the call was not from Debra as he had hoped. It was from someone he had not seen or spoken to in ages.

The screen text read…

Dr. James Lindon
Missed Call

Dr. James Lindon was David’s undergrad psychology professor at USC. It was Professor Lindon’s interest in the occult and in the paranormal which peaked David’s interest as well. David remembered how he, along with five other students, approached Dr. Lindon late one afternoon during the fall semester to ask their professor if he would help sponsor the Paranormal Psychology Club they wanted to form on campus.

It wasn’t surprising that Dr. Lindon was more than willing to sponsor the eager students. He even went as far as to host their monthly meetings at his Victorian style home in Pasadena.

After grad school and landing a job at the Inquisitor, Dr. Lindon would often call or email David, usually to praise or question David about his most recent article or blog. David didn’t mind the professor’s call. In fact, Lindon’s expertise in demonology, tribal sacrificial practices, and Victorian occultism, proved to be an invaluable source for some of David’s assignments.

David listened to the voice message.

Dr. Lindon’s voice sounded frantic. He said something about an important discovery he had made. He added that David would be definitely interested and should drop by to see him at Carthage College immediately.

David wasn’t able to make out much of anything else after the last part of Dr. Lindon’s message. It sounded like the professor had been distracted by something else and was then cut off in mid-sentence.

Curious, David tried calling back but it went straight to the professor’s voice message center. David left a message and grabbed his car keys. On the way out, he extended a holiday greeting to the front desk security guard before making his way to the parking structure.


By the time he turned onto Pico Boulevard, the sky had suddenly opened up in a downpour that forced David to turn his BMW’s wiper blades on high speed.

Carthage Community College, better known for its Liberal Arts program, was closed for winter break. But apparently, his former college professor was working overtime.

Clearly, Dr. Lindon hadn’t changed much.

David had just enrolled in Dr. Lindon’s course on Parapsychology in the Age of Enlightenment, at USC when he learned about the tragic and mysterious events surrounding the death of Dr. Lindon’s wife and only daughter.

As the news reported, Dr. Lindon’s wife and daughter were both found dead one night in their home. The coroner’s report indicated that both had been brutally killed after an apparent home-invasion robbery went terribly wrong. Dr. Lindon wasn’t home at the time of the tragedy. He had been on a sabbatical to continue his research on a lost Aztec tribe thought to have assimilated long ago with the local population.

For a while the police considered the professor as a suspect since there were no prints or evidence of a break-in found at the Lindons’ home. Fortunately, his colleagues and students vouched for his whereabouts as well proof from the Mexican government that he was in their country at the time of the murders.

Dr. Lindon was naturally devastated by what had happened. Despite going over the police report, Dr. Lindon knew that something else had gotten to his family. His own research showed that the attack on his wife and daughter may have been connected to any one of his own investigations into the paranormal, especially because of the way his wife and daughter’s body were found. Dr. Lindon knew that both had been ritualistically sacrificed. The evidence was clear despite how the coroner’s report failed to mention a crucial piece of evidence.

Both his wife and daughter’s hearts had been ripped out…while they were still alive! No traces of their hearts were ever found.

After the funeral, Dr. Lindon began investigating his family’s murders. Eventually his investigation ran cold. After a year, he lost his teaching position at USC. He began teaching Psychology at Carthage College in Santa Monica, while he quietly continued his lifelong quest to find out who—or what—was behind the deaths of his beloved wife and daughter.


David pulled up to an empty parking spot right next to the Psychology Department. The rain continued to come down hard as David stepped out of his car and ran into the nearby building. He was soaked to the bone by the time he found out where Dr. Lindon’ s office was located on the second floor.

Above him, the long hallway lights flickered as he walked up to the nearby elevator and pushed the button. The elevator’s doors opened just as the lights flickered again. David quickly reconsidered taking the elevator.

After going up a flight of stairs, David walked towards Dr. Lindon’s office. He knocked and found that the door was slightly ajar.

David took out his iPhone and tried calling the professor again. From inside the office, he heard a cell phone ringing.

He pushed open the door and found a typical professor’s office in size. What was different about Dr. Lindon’s office was how it was decorated—or rather, how it used to be decorated. The office was dimly lit by a flickering corner lamp and a small desk lamp.

The office was in shambles. The window had been shattered from the outside. Ancient texts and artifacts from Dr. Lindon’s numerous travels had been pulled from their shelves and lay scattered across the floor.

David carefully moved through the office, careful not to disturb anything he didn’t have to. He saw the black Android phone on the desk. He carefully picked it up and pushed the power button. A message across the screen showed three recent missed calls from David’s iPhone.

Looking down at the desk, David noticed a white sheet of paper with hastily scribbled words on it. The words on the bottom of the paper caught David’s attention first. He then read the rest of it.

All the deaths are related!
Hanging = Air!
Accident = Earth!
Drowning = Water!
??? = Fire. Kiln Fire?
Summoning the Howler of Truth!?!

Howler of Truth? He couldn’t place it, but he remembered reading about it somewhere.

A quick Google search on his iPhone—which he noticed was losing the normally strong signal—showed that the Howler of Truth was another name given to Jjrikillimsg, one of the Dark Gods; beings who according to most legends may be either super aliens, avatars of gods, or even infernal demon lords.

Skimming Spookipedia, a popular site for people like David, Jjrikillimsg was known as a god who had gone completely mad in a way no mortal can ever hope to understand or emulate. His titles include such epithets as the Insane, One Without True Form, Revealer of Secrets, and Enlightener of Closed Minds. If it has a true form, no one has ever recorded it. Jjrikillimsg flits between many forms, changing so rapidly that the human eye cannot keep up. Every now and then, however, he pauses in one form just long enough for the brain to analyze what it had seen. According to Spookipedia, madness usually follows shortly after anyone catches even a glimpse of this being.

David decided to keep looking around in hopes of finding some clue as what had happened to the professor, or who could have done it.

Several newspaper clippings from the Angel City Herald caught David’s attention. One was about a student named William Jefferson who had hung himself from the college’s flag pole. Apparently he gained access to the flagpole from a window in the art department.

Another article, dated after the first clipping, was about a student named Jane Hellmsbrook, an art major, who suffocated when a pit she was excavating at a local archaeological dig outside of Angel City collapsed in on her. The incident was reported as an apparent accident.

Another article was about Professor Helen Jacobson, of the college’s art department, who late one evening slipped and fell into the college swimming pool, and drowned. The next morning, her body was found by fellow art professor Ellis Fairchild.

David noticed that Dr. Lindon had written down, highlighted, or underscored Professor’s Ellis Fairchild’s name. Did Dr. Lindon suspected the art professor as being involved somehow? David wondered.

The sound of something shuffling behind him nearly caused David to jump out of his skin.

Turning around, David was surprised to see someone standing just outside Dr. Lindon’s office. At first he thought it was one of the college campus police officer, but the person looked more like a female college student.

Except that the female student’s body was terribly deformed!

Her back was badly curved into almost forming the letter S. Both of her arms were bent in awkward angles. Her long disheveled blond hair was draped across her face.

David tried to say something to the woman but she shuffled into the room, raised her right arm to reveal a knife held tightly in a gnarled grip, and moved towards David.

David considered reaching for the gun he kept on him, but thought better of it. Instead he tried to reason with the young woman who clearly was not interested in anything he had to say.

She let out a stifled groan and lashed at David with her knife. He dodged the attack then grabbed both of the woman’s arms and tried to pin her against the wall.

With a groan that reminded David of a scene straight out of the film, The Exorcist, the young woman easily broke free of his grip.

This woman is strong! David thought.

Stepping back, David grabbed a nearby chair and swung it at the woman. She easily slapped the chair to the side.

She tried to slash at David with the knife again. David barely managed to bring the chair up just as her knife cleanly sliced one of the chair’s leg off.

David raised the chair and brought it straight down on the deformed young woman. It struck the woman so hard that it splintered into several pieces. But fortunately, the impact also knocked the woman down to the floor.

David held on to what was left of the chair expecting the crazed woman to stand up and continue the fight. If she gets up again, I’m definitely using my gun! David thought in frustration.

But the young woman wasn’t moving anymore.

David bent down to check on her but just as he was about to check for a pulse, her skin began to bubble in spots across her entire body. Suddenly, a thick,, oily tar-like substance began oozing out of every one of the woman’s orifice. Before David could do anything, the tar-like ooze had entirely covered the woman’s body and had dissolved it.

Within seconds, nothing was left of the college student but a thin black stain where her body once was.

David didn’t know what to make of what he just saw but he knew enough from experience to know that whoever—or whatever—was behind Dr. James Lindon’s disappearance meant that his old professor was in grave danger.

Standing back up, David had a lot of questions running through his investigative mind.

And he knew exactly where he should begin looking for clues to what happened to his old friend, Dr. Lindon.

It was time to visit the Art Department!

To be continued in Winter Break: Act 2


David Zabloski (Investigative Reporter for The National Inquisitor)


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