My brother Aaron called. I love Aaron but when he calls it usually means that he needs my help. I’ve got a ghost in my house who is going through a serious bout of depression, I’d promised to stop by and Eleora and Tellias (our ancient elders), and then I had more stuff to take care of with my daughter after school today.
It can be anything with Aaron. A suspicion of time travelers lurking around, a dried up Vampire under a house that needs coaxing out (or worse), a confused new Vampire, a picture to be drawn, research into the odd or unknown, feline behavior woes, Ghost or Werewolf trouble. I never know.
So I asked, “What is it Aaron?”
“I have a book I want you to see,” he said.
“Can you bring it over tonight?”
There was a pause then, “You don’t want it in your house. Teddy is here. We’re at my office.”
Without so much as a thanks see you soon he hung up.
I grabbed my keys, and the dog followed me. Aaron didn’t say no dogs. As I locked the door the air on my front porch suddenly dropped about 40 degrees. Leaning against the porch rail was The Ghost, Nigel himself.
“I’m in a hurry,” I said. “I don’t have time for this.”
He smirked at me and said, “I’m going with you.”
Fine. We all got in the car, the dog in the back and Nigel and me in the front, and off we went, a Vampire, a German Shepard, and a Ghost to my brother’s law office downtown. Of course if anyone saw us they’d just see a brown haired woman in a burgundy colored sweater and a large and exceptionally nice looking dog in a blue sedan. Nothing special or unique here.
We, at least the dog and I, climbed the stairs leading up to Aaron’s office in the converted Queen Anne style house. Nigel was already at the top waiting by the tall front door.
“You know,” he said, “the front porches are on the second floor because the city used to flood every winter.”
“I know I was here,” I said as I opened the door and my entourage followed me in.
We went inside and found the place deserted except for Aaron and my husband Teddy in a conference room. A large, somewhat old book was on the table.
The dog was happy to see everyone. My husband gave me a smile that would make any woman’s knees go weak, and then kissed me. Aaron looked at Nigel then back to me.
“You brought a ghost,” he said.
“I brought a dog too.”
Right off the bat I realized that my brother had a spell book. Yes, as in Witch’s spells.
“What do you think?” My brother carefully opened the book then stepped back.
The pages were bordered with black and white illustrations with a forest motif. I recognized the artist. “Julian Rix,” I said.
“You knew him,” said Aaron.
“I did. He was quite the flirt. This is weird. He’d never deal with Witches,” I said.
Aaron scowled. “That is what I thought too. They must have hired him to do the borders then added their spells. There is no sign of any magic or strangeness in the drawings.”
“You knew Julian Rix? Holy shit Juliette. How well did you know him?” That was my husband.
“Well enough. He and Grandmama Lola were friends. I was around seventeen, maybe eighteen. You were off somewhere learning how to become a Vampire. Val and I had just come back from a trip to New York,” I said. “From the style and subject I figure the drawing were done around 1876 or 77.”
The text was in an odd script, in an odd language I didn’t know. It was written in rust colored and black ink. I ran the tips of my fingers over one of the pages. Then I immediately pulled them back. Son of a bitch, the words burned my finger tips. The rust colored writing was in human blood. Of course it was. I might drink blood but I’d never be so crass as to write with it. God only knows where it came from because it wasn’t from a Witch.
“Where’d this come from?” I asked my brother.
“A client found it in the walls of a house he was restoring,” said Aaron.
I should have known. “It was Austin Durant, the contractor, historian… oh right and Vampire Hunter. What the crap Aaron?”
Nobody said anything. Then Nigel spoke up. I’d forgotten he was even in the room.
“You’re looking at a cypher used by seventeenth century occultists.”
We all looked at him.
“What? Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I’m stupid. My girlfriend Mary was born in the seventeenth century. We spent a lot of time looking at old books when we were off haunting a castle in Scotland. She knows about all of that stuff. Hey, it isn’t like we had anything else to do.”
Without touching the book Nigel turned the pages with a raised hand. “If I were you I’d seal this thing back up in the wall, or even burn it. Then again, the illustrations… oh man, if you burned this it would be a crime. Why not just take a blade and cut out the spells. Most of the spells are for weird love potions and revenge potions anyway. Nobody needs that shit. There is also a nasty nasty spell on it and a lock down spell. I’d keep away from this if I were you. Whoever wrote this did not like Vampires.”
I looked at the clock. “We have to go. I’ll do some research and get back to you. Nigel, you may stay if you want.”
He smiled at me, one of those shit eating grins of his, “I know I make you guys uncomfortable, but I might just stay a little bit longer and browse through this interesting piece of history, you know, since it burns your precious undead fingers.”
I left to help the elders with some things, and then go pick my child up from school. Teddy and Aaron assured me they’d lock up the mysterious book in a safe place. I told them to burn it. Nigel flipped me off as I left. The dog wagged her tail and licked everyone on the face.
When I picked seventeen year old Clara up from school she told me all about her upcoming AP testing (Advanced Placement, look it up if you don’t know.) Her teacher asked the kids what they need to do to get ready and write it on the board. Someone wrote cry.
We don’t have time for spells, and chants, and flesh burning texts. All I want are the beautiful borders, and stunning landscapes that are on my wall and not in a toxic book.
Spells are like lies and time travel. They change things that should not be forced to change. They bend the will of one person. They screw with the order of the universe. They are false and steal away choice. Sounds like I’m talking about politics doesn’t it. But seriously, you don’t go where you’re not invited. You can’t force anyone to love or hate. You can’t buy passion.
Julian Rix had his heart-broken by a woman who lived to be a hundred years old. He didn’t last so long. The entire story is all too sad for me, but I doubt if he’d been happy with a love spell. It should have been a shallow love, like a shallow grave that can’t hide the fact that someone was hurt.
Anyway, tomorrow we’re going on a college tour, then the dog will take her test in dog school (she failed last week), and then I’ll think of how no spell can being one true love. I know THAT for a fact. Ask my husband about it.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman