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Authors: Rain Oxford

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The Guardian's Grimoire

BOOK: The Guardian's Grimoire
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The Guardian's Grimoire

 

By Rain Oxford

The
Guardian’s Grimoire © 2015 Rain Oxford

All
Rights Reserved

 

Chapter 1

You’ve got to be kidding me…

I heard heavy breathing right behind me and didn’t
dare turn to look. Once again, I ran with everything I had. My injured ankle
made the agonizing exercise slower, but huge, snapping jaws was a fantastic
motivator. The beast was barely jogging; he was toying with me.

It wasn’t long before I landed wrong on my uninjured
ankle and hit the ground hard. Small, sharp rocks dug into my back, but I
didn’t have the chance to get up before the beast had me pinned. I stared right
into pure blood-red, globe eyes.

The creature had the general appearance of a huge
wolf with matted black fur, and a flatter snout. Its ears were flat against its
head in anger, but its snarl looked more like a grin than a scowl. The beast
knew I was injured and out of strength.

Bloody dribble dripped from its mouth onto my
shoulder and a large section of the skin went numb. Its saliva was venomous,
probably a paralyzing agent. With a loud growl, the animal opened its mouth
wide and---

 “Mr. Carter! Do you plan on joining us today?” Mr.
Luis’s voice woke me from my dream with all the subtlety of a hammer to glass.
I blinked against the bright florescent lighting and tried to recall what I had
just been dreaming.

“No, sir,” I answered. When he glared at me, I
resisted the urge to shrug. “What was the question?”

“What were Freud’s shortcomings and achievements?”

“Freud’s psychoanalytical theory was shot down
because it didn’t predict anything, his ideas were implausible, and they were
invalidated. However, he drew attention to the unconscious, the struggle to
cope with anxiety and sexuality, and the conflict of biological impulses and
social control.”

“Very good. I should call on you more often.”

“Whatever you want, sir.”
Whatever you command,
Mr. Satan. My soul is yours for another…
I checked my watch and groaned.
Why
the hell does time move backwards in this dungeon?
This is purgatory, I
swear.

Mr. Luis’s psychology class was a two-hour lecture
that seemed to last four hours on the best of days and always smelled of metal
and mold. The moldy smell was surely because Mr. Luis was at least three
hundred years old and the metallic smell was from all the blood he drank
between classes. The only window was small and high on the east wall, so by
this time of day, it was gloomy at best. The buzzing lights would occasionally
blink, giving everyone the feeling of being in a predictable horror movie.

Unless a question was being asked or answered, the
classroom remained silent as the grave. The students soon began to prefer the
silence, as the alternative was Mr. Luis’s meaningless ranting. His thick
British accent, which was funny on the first day of school, very quickly became
painful to listen to. My body reacted to it by freezing up and shivering
uncontrollably. A poor young girl, Amy, was released from class after the first
week because his voice made her faint. It didn’t help that he had been cussing
her out in some foreign language for being a woman.

The most interesting distractions in the room were
the stories and graffiti on the desks, which, as the semester progressed,
involved fewer and fewer love notes and anime scribbles, and more and more
homicidal depictions and plans. There were still some interesting experiment
designs left over from when we studied antisocial personality disorder. We were
obviously all responsible adults who were very dedicated to our studies.

I must have fallen back to sleep, because the next
thing I knew, I was being shaken. I jerked up and found myself alone with my
girlfriend. “Hey, Vi.”

“I got worried; thought maybe Dracula had finally got
to you.”

I stood up and stretched. Vivian was twenty-three
years old; a year older than me, and a couple inches shorter at five-eight. Her
thick, dark red hair was long, straight, and silky. It made her soft, light
green eyes look even softer and her porcelain, smooth skin look even more
flawless. She had the tall, naturally thin body of a model and looked really
good in the camouflage-patterned tank top she wore often, along with a denim
jacket, blue jeans, and high-heeled boots.

“Are you hungry?” I asked.

She sighed. “Yeah, if only I had time to eat,” she
said. I grabbed my bag, put my arm around her shoulder, and we started walking
out. “I have to get to the library before the freshmen crowd. Pick me up
something, though. I’ll come over tonight and I’ll be hungry.”

Vivian was a surprise and all around treasure. She
was beautiful, brilliant, and talented. Unlike most women who fit even one of
those descriptions, she was also extremely kind, pretty humble, and very
giving.

I nodded and we walked up to the campus’s grand
waterfall, which was simple, very large, and loud. “I’ll be there.” I kissed
her for a few seconds before she broke it with a smile. The waterfall’s flow
was suddenly disturbed, but we both ignored it.

“Bye.” She walked off, pulling her jacket tighter.
That thick jacket was the reason I hated winter. I walked slowly off to my
apartment on campus.

I unlocked the door, closed it, and fell to the couch
only two steps away. My apartment was a depressing representation of my
minuscule paycheck. Who would’ve guessed that working at a fast-food restaurant
wasn’t the best way to get rich?

I stretched my hand out in the dark for the remote.
After failing to find it, I sighed and put my hands behind my head. The
television switched on and I watched. It was the news. As I didn’t care much
for horror shows, I sat up, grabbed the remote off the coffee table, and turned
the channel to cartoons.

A large gray cat jumped up on the table and made a
sound I recognized as a cry- more like a demand- for attention. “Hey, Dorian.
How was the mate hunting?” I pet him and was rewarded with a half-hearted purr.
“Vi’s coming over tonight, so handsome yourself up.” I stood up and went into
the kitchen. A few seconds after I flipped the light switch, it flashed lazily
on.

A mint green mini-fridge from the seventies hummed
loudly beneath a precariously balanced ancient microwave. In the middle of the
long counter across from it was a rusty metal, single-bowl sink. To one side of
the sink was an electric skillet that worked at least half the time, and on the
other side was an electric pot that worked almost a couple days a month.

I picked up Dorian’s metal food bowl and pulled his
food out of the cabinet above the fridge. Normally, the temperamental beast was
waiting impatiently when I got his food out, but when I filled his bowl and set
it on the floor, he was nowhere to be seen. I went to the door and flipped on
the living room light. Dorian was on the couch, hissing at the door with his
back arched, his hair standing on ends, and his claws outstretched. “What’s
wrong? Is it Mother? I don’t hear thunder or smell sulfur.”

The door creaked ominously and twilight spilled into
the room, but nobody, no ghoul or person, stood at my apartment entrance. I
stepped out cautiously.

My apartment complex was definitely safer than
cheaper ones, since it was very close to the university. Living so close also
meant that I didn’t need a car, which I couldn’t have afforded anyway. Thanks
to my scholarships, secure job, and lack of any social life, I was one of the
rare students who were completely debt free. Living on ramen was worth the
extra security, because I could walk out into the hallway or stand in my tiny
lawn without being attacked or harassed. Being on the ground floor was
definitely a bonus, since we had no elevator.

The wind howled and I was about to turn back when
something caught my attention. A small, thin, black book lay innocently on the
grass in front of my steps. It looked harmless, but I had the urge to run back
inside and leave it. It was like in a horror movie where you know you’re in an
evil place or that something evil is watching you. So, naturally, I picked it
up.

It made my skin tingle, but not necessarily in a bad
way. There was no writing or title on the black leather cover, which was
flexible, yet not flimsy. The pages were unusually stiff and cold and most of
them were blank. Only the first ten pages had anything on them, but it wasn’t a
story or even a journal; instead they were filled with what appeared to be words.
While some words were in familiar languages, most were incredibly bizarre. I
closed the book, glanced around, and went back inside.

Dorian took off to my bedroom at a run as I came in.
I didn’t want to bother him when he was being weird, so I just set the book on
the bookshelf beside my small television. My empty stomach, now riddled with
knots, growled and I grabbed my coat. I didn’t look back at the disturbing
book, nor did I think to wonder why I kept it.

After a couple of days, I forgot about it completely.

 

*          *          *

 

Where do we go when we die? I was told that I would
go to Heaven if I was good, but I always found the concept of an afterlife
difficult. While I tried to always do what was right by never hurting anyone,
never stealing, and lying only when necessary to spare a person’s feelings,
such morals were subjective. It was entirely possible that my blatant sarcasm
would earn me a place in Hell. Then again, if I couldn’t be sarcastic in
Heaven, I didn’t belong there.

Unfortunately, very early on in my life, I realized
that nothing particularly exciting would ever happen to me. At least, not for
as long as I remained inside the moral boundaries I was taught. I woke up, went
to school, went to work, and went to bed; there was nothing to look forward to
in life.

 

*          *          *

 

“As the death toll rises, people are turning to
self-protection. The crime rate is reaching its highest in a decade in Dallas.
Although it is still being investigated, authorities believe that fires started
at two police stations in both Dallas and Fort Worth are the result of arson.
Two people were arrested after trying to rob a bank. However, they were too
busy arguing to keep an eye on the witnesses… because they were not working
together, they had just chosen the same bank. They also were at a disadvantage
because the bank they were trying to rob was currently being investigated by
six on-duty police officers.”

It wasn’t difficult not to snicker, though I would
have any other day. I found it amusing if not hilarious when idiots get caught
doing wrong because of stupid mistakes. This time, however, I wanted the TV
off, or at least on mute.

My head throbbed with a dull pain that scrambled
words into senseless pain. The cold laminate counter against my cheek felt good
but didn’t quite make up for the wall of noise that pressed in, suffocating me.
Feverish heat that made me both sweat and itch was horrible enough without my
pounding heart, dehydration, and unbearable nausea. I wished I hadn’t sat so
close to the TV, but there had been someone in my normal seat and I didn’t have
the strength to move. It was a bad idea to go to the cafeteria when in my
depleted condition, nevertheless I always found myself there anyway; my vampire
of a psychology teacher wouldn’t search for me in such a public place.

“Hey.” I didn’t look at Vivian as she took a seat
next to me. “Are you okay?” she asked. I pulled myself up into a sitting
position and tried to give her a reassuring smile. The best I could do was
glare at her before returning to my spot. “Oh, no, it’s three already? I have
to go.” She jumped off her seat, checking her watch. 

I wasn’t sure how I found the strength or balance to
manage it, but I reached out and grabbed her wrist before she disappeared, then
pulled her around to sit in my lap as I started to fumble with her watch. “It
was daylight-savings time last night. You’re fine.” I fixed her watch and
turned back to the table, forcing her out of my lap, then noticed she had a
stack of files. “Working hard?”

“Yeah. Apparently some rich people moved in and
started trouble, so the vampire had to step in and pick up the money.” Vivian
was a lawyer’s assistant. “It’s not as bad as it will be soon, though.”

“Why? What’s going to happen?” I asked. She stared at
me like I was being ridiculous, but I didn’t complain; as far as I knew, the
Wernicke’s area of my brain was burned out so I had no idea what I was really
saying.

“Well, with the wave of murders and crime coming
closer, it’s only going to increase my workload.”

“What? What murders? What crime? What are we talking
about?” Okay, so I was a little slow, but it had been a hard day. Mondays are
grueling on a good day and after five hours of testing, bubble filling, and
essay writing, there was little left in my head that wasn’t raw. Trying to
carry on a conversation with Vivian when she was in her “working mode” was like
trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube with my eyes closed.

She sighed. “You’re impossible on Mondays. The news
is talking about it nonstop. There’s been a sharp increase in deaths, and
what’s more, it’s getting closer,” she said. I knew my expression was less than
polite, but I didn’t have a lot of control over meaningless muscle functions
like my face or mouth. “All the deaths are the same.”

“They are?” That didn’t sound right.

“Yeah. They’re all accidents.”

“Run it by me again how that makes them murders.”
Again, I was a little slow, but Vivian was the kind of person who went on and
on out of a conversation she had in her head. Unfortunately, I often didn’t
know when she was or wasn’t doing that.

“The number of confirmed murders hasn’t changed much,
and any positive correlation can be attributed to fear. That’s because everyone
can see what’s happening. There’s been a huge increase in accidents involving
everything from fires to collapsing buildings to massive traffic accidents.
This isn’t a coincidence, it’s just untraceable. All the same, people are going
to get blamed so money will be spilled. How was your test?”

BOOK: The Guardian's Grimoire
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