The following events take place around December 1940, and while the Lair of the Occult may be immune to the ravages of time, its occupant is not. Please enjoy.
Something is wrong.
The thought crosses the minds of two men, one lying before me, the other, while relevant to the present, is rooted firmly in the past. The man before me calls himself the Ghoul, vigilante detective and pure of heart saint, and dresses like his namesake. He's vastly important to the universe, at least supposed to live until the year 1959, and right now, his guts are spread out across the pavement like spaghetti, belching blood from his wound. I, dear reader, am your humble narrator, the Oculus, former master of mysticism, and current storyteller for the darker parts of humanity, and this very evening, I have broken my vow of non-interference for the second time in as many months.
"Oh... it's you..." The injured detective groans, looking up at me from his spot on the ground, a gloved hand hovering just above the gaping hole in his torso. It's a friendlier greeting than most that I get, and given that this is only our second meeting, after the events of Halloween, it warms my heart that he's not disturbed by my sudden arrival. "...great..."
"Fear not, my friend." I tell him, forcing cheer into my voice that simply isn't warranted. "You will not die this day." My mind summons the relevant mystical energies, my hand performs the necessary movements... and my lips speak the words. The words that have the power to do anything they wish. "May the Healing Hands of Hasuumm, reach out and save you."
The Orb of Omniscience, constantly my eyes for the situation, hovers upon my shoulder, ruffling the black, tatty robe bound to my flesh. The bandages over my eyes, a souvenir from a most violent battle, years ago, seem to shuffle in the breeze, yet it matters not. From my hands, the color green, pure and flowing, emerges and spreads around the Ghoul, latching onto his wounds, and disappearing into his skin, as the detective's wounds begin to seemingly stitch themselves together, skin spreading out from his flesh and attaching to the corners of his wounds. The man screams, loudly, but the streets of New York are silent, as if its inhabitants know to avoid the strange events occurring, this evening, in the district of Soho.
"JESUS!" The Ghoul yells, wound repaired, yet blood still splattered across his coat. He lies on the ground, skin pale, and doesn't move except for his chest gasping for breath. Behind me, the Orb of Omniscience blinks orange fire, alerting me to some sort of Occult flux, but I ignore it for now. "Jesus that hurt." The detective moans, slowly climbing up to his feet.
"Yes, well, it's a healing spell." I say. "Not a comfort spell."
"Can you help her?" He nods down to Penny, the injured prostitute lying behind me, someone that I had completely forgot about until my attention was drawn back to her. She's unconscious, head black with bruises, left side of her skull cracked and flowing a thick, red liquid that I would rather avoid.
"Of course." I say, kneeling down by the poor girl and dabbing a bit of cold rainwater on her forehead. "Gates of Glamoon, guide this soul." The girl vanishes with a pop, something that makes my friend jump out of his skin, currently stuck in a world he's not used to. He looks at me, and I sense confusion. "My healing spells only work on injuries from a mystic source." I explain. "So I've transported her to a hospital."
The Ghoul scratches the back of his head, understandably agitated. "Better than nothing." He grumbles before twinging with pain, and rubbing his chest. "So. Uh... 'Oculus'. Are you gonna tell me what kind of nonsense I've managed to stumble into?"
A smile breaks across my face, amused by the nature of the Ghoul's personality. He's even more stubborn than I've heard, a trait I can respect.
"Ghoul, my friend, you just picked a fight with Jasper Meadows."
"The serial killer?" The detective asks, completely intrigued. He tilts his head, confused. "The one from the 19th century?"
Laughter escapes my mouth, unnerving the Ghoul, which, dear reader, is understandable considering my ability to laugh was altered beyond compare by an angry warlock I got on the wrong side of, hence why I try to avoid doing it.
"Indeed. Undead and kicking. He's like you, Towie." The Ghoul winces upon hearing me use his true name. "He's a ghoul, too. An evil spirit seeking vengeance, like yourself but in a more sinister fashion."
The detective stands tall, shaking his shoulders to loosen them up. "How do I stop him? I take it you'll be as vague as ever." The man clearly understands how I work, forever forbidden to directly interfere, only able to offer advice and information, rather than full blown assistance.
"Silver." I explain. "Wear silver, and you will be able to strike the undead, as they are able to strike you."
The Ghoul doesn't respond, simply watching my back turn towards him, as I begin to walk away, into the shadows of the alley.
"Funny." I say. "In times old, parents would hide their children from the ghouls and the monsters. Nowadays they ask the ghouls and the monsters to save them."
Something is wrong.
There's a ripple in reality, the walls of the world giving way to white, blinding nothing. Soon the walls reappear, and we find ourselves within a dank, filthy cell somewhere in the 1800s, stinking of nothing less than evil. Jasper Meadows sits up on his bed, scruffy and ragged with wild, haunting eyes peering through thick shades of hair.
There's a knock at the door.
"It's time, Meadows." A voice says, belonging to the man's guard. He can't be seen through the shadows, just a disembodied voice hovering in the air. "Death day." Meadows doesn't react, simply sitting still, the hair on his head covering almost all of his face. The guard steps into the cell, nothing but a vague, twitching outline of energy. "Come on, Meadows!" The guard snaps, clanging a baton on the bars of the cell. "Come o-"
There's a quick movement, confusing to behold, but the result is clear. Jasper springs up from his bed, and smashes the guard's skull repeatedly against the cell wall, leaving thick, bloody marks on the side. Quickly, a huddle of guards storm in, and soon the blood on the walls is joined by blood on the floor, and Jasper Meadows dies... in a manner of speaking.
The Orb of Omniscience blinks once again, and again, reality shifts again, returning us to the alley where this dark story continues. Only this time, dear reader, it's the next day. The next evening to be more precise, and the events are already in motion. A drunk hobo sits against the alley wall in a pool of his own urine, oblivious to what's happening all around him. In the alley, a woman screams, tears streaking down her face as she falls to the ground and desperately starts crawling in an attempt to escape her attacker. There's a thick cut upon her cheek, one leaking blood that Jasper Meadows seems fixated upon as he twirls his knife, and moves towards his victim, raising his blade as he looks forward to the kill.
Then something steps between the two, a saint dressed completely in white, pure of heart and one of the bravest men this world will ever see.
Jasper looks at the Ghoul, standing silent and menacing, and the Slasher looks deeply confused, recognizing his victim from the previous evening. The detective takes a deep breath, hands tucked into his pockets, and he grins beneath his mask.
"Round two?" He asks. The Slasher obliges, thrusting his knife towards his adversary, quicker than anything the detective has ever seen. This time, however, the Ghoul is prepared. He knows what he's doing, and as he steps back to dodge the attack, tricking Jasper into a sense of familiarity, he pulls his hands from his pockets, and reveals several pieces of silver cutlery taped to his fists. The moment Jasper's knife misses, the Ghoul strikes, landing a punch into the Slasher's cheek that sends him spinning backward. His knife clatters on the ground, and the Slasher places a hand on the golden, steaming bruise forming on his paper, coloured flesh. He looks at the Ghoul with a look in his eyes, not one of delight, or cold blooded hunger, but fear. The Ghoul catches the fear, and he enjoys it, calmly walking towards the evil spirit.
Jasper lets out a screech, a caged animal as his fingers turn to claws and a look of pure hatred spreads across his face. He lunges at his foe, quick like a rat, but not quick enough. A solid jab from the Ghoul shatters Jasper's nose, spraying black blood over his astral form, and he falls to the ground, body flickering different colors like a dying flame.
"Get a haircut." The Ghoul grumbles before gripping the Slasher by the hair and pulling him up off the ground without a hint of mercy.
"I..."Jasper's voice cracks, using words that have been hidden for so long. He stares deep into the Ghoul's mask, eyes fixed on the blackness of his goggles. "I'm not scared of you!"The Ghoul pulls him close, grinning like he's just heard a joke, and Jasper begins to tremble.
"You @#$%£*> should be."
The Slasher lets out one, final howl, and then the final blow lands, smashing through his jaw and severing it from his body. Jasper's body seems to crumble, essence making up his skin, slowly fading away, revealing a rotting, maggot filled skeleton beneath. The Ghoul drops the wretched thing, and the bones all fall apart, covering the ground, as Jasper's wailing spirit soars up into the black, night sky, finally heading back to the realm it belongs. Tired, the detective watches silently, and takes a breath.
Not forgetting why he's here, the Ghoul turns towards Jasper's intended victim, still lying on the ground, frightened, and he offers a hand to help her up.
"Are you alright?" He asks as the girl gets up of her own accord, she steps back towards the alley exit and gives him a look of pure disgust.
"Get away from me!" She yells before running into the relative safety of the New York streets. The Ghoul lets out a sigh, and calmly leans against the alley wall, having a minute to himself.
"Excellent work!" I say, Orb of Omniscience removing its spell of invisibility from my body. "Couldn't have done it better, myself."
"Do you have a smoke?" The Ghoul asks, not bothering to look at me, disappointment, emanating from his soul. "I think I could use a smoke." I kneel down next to the hollow skull lying on the ground, and pocket it under my robes.
"No." I say. "And I wouldn't recommend it. The chemicals those things contain are beyond awful."
"Chemicals?" A new mystery catches the man's attention. "What kind of chemicals?"
"I don't know what that is."
Bored with the conversation, I start to move back down the alley, letting the shadows appear around me, but then the Ghoul calls out my name, and I decide to stop, and pay him some attention.
"Hey, Ock." He says, standing in the center of the alley exit, street lamp bathing him in an orange glow. "Why did you help me, tonight?"
I stare at the man, not through the bandages covering my eyes, but through the raging fires of the Orb of Omniscience, a curse gifted to me, and only to me.
"Because, Towie. You're destined to be my greatest friend." I force a smile, and let the winds of the world lift me up off the ground, hovering mid-air. "And if our friend, Jasper, should ever come back..."
"I'll be waiting for him." The Ghoul tips his hat and leaves the alley, returning to the streets. I soar upward into the sky, and return to the realms of the night.
Reality shimmers, and I find myself caught again in Jasper Meadows' company, sitting alone in a cell, hanging over an empty void, face dented from his injuries this evening.
"I escaped death."He whispers, staring into his hands. "I'll escape this."
Reality moves again, and we find ourselves in another cell, this one belonging to the injured girl, Penny. This cell, is in fact, a hospital room, Penny lying dormant on a bed, unable to awaken... yet sat by her side, asleep in a chair, is the Ghoul, keeping an eye on the poor girl's upbringing. He'll be there when she awakens, and try to ensure she comes out of the situation unaffected.
Now, dear reader, we return to a cell of my own making! The Lair of the Occult! The Orb of Omniscience returns to its stand, slumbering for the evening, and I place the skull of Jasper Meadows, the Slasher, alongside the numerous other trophies that I've collected over time... and that, dear reader, is where our dark, grim tale comes to its end. I, the Oculus, your humble narrator, bid you a friendly farewell, and a simple warning, that you shouldn't be afraid of the dark.