Authors: Mitchell Olson
Devil Ash Days
By Mitchell Olson
Copyright 2012 Mitchell Olson
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Thank you for buying this book. Although this is a self-published book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to buy their own copy at Amazon.com or DevilAshDays.com where they can also discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.
In a grassy field that sat two miles from the nearest town and one mile from the nearest house, something strange occurred. With only nature to bear witness, a narrow ring of light formed floating feet above the ground. It grew rapidly as it hovered, widening until it was five feet across. The ring became a solid white beam of light that lifted into the air, depositing three people as it disappeared into the evening sky.
“Here we are,” a man said. “
The group stepped out of the ditch and onto a nearby gravel road. After looking both ways, the leader pointed south.
The man started walking, his two disciples following closely behind him.
* * * *
One mile south, in an old farmhouse that sat at the edge of a small forest, an intense battle was about to take place inside the second-story bedroom of a teenage boy. Crashing drums, thumping bass, and a shrieking punk rock guitar solo drowned out any sound coming from the TV as the boy gripped his video game controller.
“I made it, Zane,” he said to the cat, a longhaired gray dozing on his bed. “I’m about to fight the final boss.”
The cat gave a disinterested yawn before turning away. The boy spared a moment to take his glasses off and wipe away the smudges. Unopened college brochures gathered dust on his desk next to pictures of friends that had moved on without him. Band posters lined the walls and stacks of video games shook from all the bass. There was a knock on the door, but the boy could not hear it over the punk rock music blaring from his stereo.
“Coming in,” the boy’s mother, Grace, said as she stepped through the doorframe. “I thought we agreed that you would wear headphones when you listen to this…
“Sorry mom, I forgot,” said Ash. The boy reached for his stereo remote and turned the music down.
“Have you looked at any of those brochures yet?”
“I flipped through a couple,” the boy said, pausing his video game. “I’m still not sure, though.”
“You could work at the grocery store until you decide,” she said. “Maybe save up a little money over the summer. Money that you
spend on CDs and video games.”
,” said the boy as he turned his attention back to the game.
“Dinner’s almost done,” his mom said. “Come down soon. We can talk more about what to do with you.” Grace went back downstairs to finish setting up for their meal. The boy played his game for a few more minutes but his heart was no longer in it.
“You’re lucky you’re a cat, Zane,” he said to his napping pet. “Human life
Ash turned his gaming system off and went downstairs, where his mother had the table set and dinner ready.
After the meal Ash helped his mom wash the dishes. The horizon outside the kitchen window became orange as the sun sank like an anchor from the sky. With his spirits low from the dinner conversation, the boy wanted nothing more than to return to his fantasy world for the rest of the night.
They didn’t get many visitors at the Kaplan house, living so far out in the country. It was strange then at this time of evening to hear the doorbell ring. Ash gave his mother a skeptical look and she returned it with her own.
“Are you expecting anyone?” he asked.
“No. Could it be one of your friends?”
“No,” he replied. “Everyone’s gone already.” Ash set down the towel he was using to dry a plate and headed for the front door.
He opened it to find three strangers standing on the porch. Two men and one woman, all wearing black suits and ties. They stood in a triangle formation: one man in front and the other two shoulder-to-shoulder behind him.
“Good evening,” the man in front said. “May we perhaps come inside?”
me?” Ash asked.
“I am sorry,” the front man said. “Perhaps I should explain myself first.”
“Who is it?” Grace said, stepping out of the kitchen.
“Good evening, ma’am,” the front man greeted her.
“Hello, can I help you?” Grace asked.
“I believe you can,” he replied. “You see, our…vehicle-”
“Automobile!” The woman behind him said, correcting him.
,” he agreed, “has ceased to remain in forward motion. May we come inside and use your telephone?”
Grace and Ash stared at them.
“I’m sorry, do none of you have a cell phone?” Grace asked. This time, it was the three strangers that looked confused. The man and woman in back shot each other a look while the front man fell deep into thought. He snapped out of it all of a sudden, as if he had just thought of something intelligent.
“I am sorry, but we have not stored telephones within our cells,” he said.
“Yet!” the woman added.
“But!” the other man said, “we intend to do so as soon as we get home.”
“So you see, we require of the use of
telephone.” The front man seemed pleased with this strange explanation.
Grace and Ash however, were only further baffled. Ash leaned over and whispered to his mom, “I think they’re
“Um…” Grace stammered, “fine, come in.” Under the assumption that they were a couple of foreigners stranded in the middle of the country, she felt sorry for them. She remembered a long time ago, when she and her husband were on their honeymoon in Germany. They had wound up lost and dependent on help from the locals to find their way back to their hotel. The evening sky was turning gray with clouds, signaling the beginning of a storm.
“Thank you very much indeed,” the front man said, entering the house. His two followers stayed behind him in formation, smiling politely and nodding their heads.
“I’m Grace and this is my son Ash.”
The three strangers looked to the boy.
“Hello Ash,” the front man greeted him, staring into his eyes.
“It is a pleasure to meet you!” The other man added.
“An honor!” The woman said.
Grace cleared her throat. “What are your names?” she asked.
“My name is Sosime,” the front man introduced himself.
“I am Cyril,” the other man said.
“I am Arthemise,” the woman said.
“See?” Ash whispered to his mother. “Foreigners
“I’m not so sure,” Grace whispered back.
“We are businessmen!” Cyril announced.
“I am a business
,” Arthemise added.
foreigners,” Grace said under her breath. “The phone is this way,” she said, motioning for Sosime to follow her to the kitchen. As they disappeared through the kitchen door, she turned around and mouthed the words
to Ash. He nodded.
For a moment, Ash sat back and sized the pair up. Cyril was an average-looking man in all regards, probably in his early thirties. The woman, Arthemise, was no beauty queen but she wasn’t unattractive either. She looked uncomfortable in her suit.
“Would you like to take a seat?” Ash asked, leading them into the living room.
After exchanging another look with his partner, Cyril gave their answer. “The seating arrangement is adequate. I wish to leave it as it is, thank you.”
Inside the kitchen, Grace tried to look busy while Sosime used the phone. The leader of the three foreigners, Sosime was the standout. He was tall, handsome, and probably in his late thirties. His golden hair made Grace’s blonde hair look dull in comparison. She hung around to eavesdrop on the phone call. It was one of the strangest conversations she’d ever heard.
” Sosime put an unusual amount of emphasis on the word, as if to assure Grace that he was chatting with someone who was indeed a friend of his. He even turned to look at her as he said it, smiling. Grace gave a forced smile back while pretending to wipe off the dinner table.
“I am sorry to inform you that we have encountered vehicle troubles,” he announced into the phone. “
he corrected himself, shouting and making Grace jump a bit. She stared at him and he stared back at her. “Automobile troubles,” he said, more definite. “I am contacting you from the home of some very kind, generous and
people we’ve found. They are allowing us to use their telephone, as well as providing us with temporary shelter from the storm.”
Grace stared out the window at the gray clouds outside. A storm was definitely approaching.
“We are in need of assistance,” the man said.
In the living room, Ash was no longer having fun with his guests. They were beginning to creep him out. They seemed a lot less like foreigners and more like space aliens.
Ash tried to be polite and make small talk. “So what kind of business are you two involved in?”
The two strangers exchanged glances, and then Arthemise answered. “The business of helping people,” she said, smiling.
“How do you help people?”
“We provide protection,” Cyril answered.
Ash could hardly believe these strange people were capable of protecting anyone. “Protection from what?”
Cyril said. Arthemise shot him an angry look for his ominous tone and he froze up suddenly.
“Oh,” said Ash. The boy stood up and got out of there. As he left the living room to join his mother in the kitchen, he could hear Arthemise scolding Cyril for his comment.
The other man was still on the phone, nodding his head and saying “yeah
a lot. Ash didn’t think much of it, and went to the cupboard for a glass. As he was filling it with water from the sink, his mom leaned over and whispered to him.
“He’s been standing there saying
for a few minutes now. I’m beginning to think no one’s on the other end.”
Sosime turned toward them with a guilty look on his face. “…No,” he said, and turned his back on them once again.
“The other two are really creepy, too,” Ash said.
“I don’t really like this. I think we should get rid of them.”
“I’ll drive them into town. Drop them off at a mechanic.”
Suddenly aware that he had perhaps been on the telephone for longer than anyone ever should and holding a conversation with one simplistic word, Sosime said goodbye and slammed the phone down on the wall receiver, disrupting Ash and Grace’s conversation. The mother-son combo spooked at the sudden sound and unnatural speed of their unwanted guest, and turned their attention to him.
“It appears my colleague isn’t able to offer us immediate assistance. I am afraid we are at your mercy for the remainder of the evening.”
“I can call my friend Harry. He’s a mechanic. He’ll fix your-” Grace didn’t even finish her sentence before a loud, thunderous clap from the storm outside struck. All the power in the house went out, leaving them standing in the dark kitchen.
“Well that’s inconvenient,” Grace said.
“I think we should all move to the living room now,” Sosime said with an sense of urgency that he hadn’t yet displayed.
“Why?” Grace challenged him. “Are you afraid of the dark?”
A bright bolt of lightning flashed, illuminating the kitchen. At that exact moment something came hurling through the window. Glass shattered and sprayed everywhere, covering the floor.
“Get back!” came Sosime’s voice again. The other two foreigners entered the kitchen and called out “
!” They both had looks of concern on their faces. Ash and Grace hadn’t even seen what caused the window to shatter yet. Whatever it was must have rolled underneath the kitchen table. But the room was dark, and the tablecloth hung down almost to the floor, blocking their view.
“Get back, both of you!” Sosime ordered. He crossed the kitchen to reach them, and while they were still confused and trying to process the last ten seconds, he managed to corral them into the corner.
“What was that?” Grace asked.
“Places, you two,” Sosime commanded the others. They split up and stood on opposite sides of the table.
“What is-” Grace tried questioning them again, but she was shushed by Sosime. She stayed quiet and watched. Sosime signaled to his associates, holding up his hand. He counted down slowly from three, and when he reached zero he sprang forward and kicked the table so hard it lifted off the ground and flew at the wall. Grace was about to object, but events transpired too quickly for her to get in a single word of complaint. Whatever it was that came in through the window and hid under the table was alive. It was also growling like a mad dog.