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A Halloween Short

Voices From the Fire

By Wally Runnels




It had been a good burning.

The flames had climbed to the sky in writhing tongues of light. The wooden effigy of Loup Garoux was as tall as a castle tower. It came to life and writhed in the burning inferno. Its torso wobbled in a two-legged dance. The wooden shoulders that supported a wolf’s face and jaws twisted and the head-like structure rose as if it howled. Flames poured outward and flared from the body like a cloak on a windy day.
It had been a year since Chaud Houd, a local baron who lived on a hill surrounded by walls, had killed the creature. The fire was a celebration of the creature’s death. Burning him in effigy was a way to warn his spirit and hopefully keep others away.
Chaud Houd’s son Rouffe had danced around the burning creature with his friends. They reveled in the joy of a good harvest and hoped the valley would have a plentiful year to come. Everyone had clapped and yelled curses at the burning macabre figure. It had been a whole year without the monster killing anyone.
The air was cold crisp and gray smoke filled the air with a sappy pungent odor.
Rouffe danced with merry kicks and laughed with joy. All reveled in thought of the All Hallows celebration that was to come. Flashes and beams of light from the burning effigy fell over Rouffe and his friends.
A man in chain mail who wore a sword stood respectively in front of Rouffe. He jerked upright at the solemn countenance of the man.
“Young master, your father wishes to see you.”
Rouffe knew him as one of the men at arms his father maintained. “I have a horse for you.”
Rouffe nodded and adjusted his cap and followed his father’s man. He nodded to his friends. His friends took on a quiet demeanor. “Oh Rouffe, what have you done now?” He could only shrug and shake his head.
Rouffe and his escort rode back to his father’s walls. They were granite and marred by previous assaults. Smaller stones set within the larger boulders were patches from hurled missiles from catapults. They looked like scabs. Rouffe had been a baby when the last war occurred. They crossed a bridge and entered the gate flanked by two rearing dragons.
Rouffe worried about what his father wanted. He was fourteen and the age when he might be required to make a formidable adventure. One of which many young men had not survived.

They’re out there. Just don’t be surprised when you see one.

The native Indians in Southern California warned the newly arriving Spaniards of a hairy devil they called Takwis. They had battled with these creatures and eventually ran them into the mountains and the desert.

So now we have the Sasquatch in the mountains and then the Sand Man and the Yucca Man in the desert. Recently there have been sightings in the desert along with run-ins in the mountains.

Edwards Air Force Base in Lancaster, California, has many encounters on the grounds and under the ground in their secret storage chambers. According to a 2009 report a creature with bright blue eyes has been at night on important landing sites. Videos have been made, but are classified and are not approved for public viewing.

The Mexican/American border cuts through vast desert regions. And this is where things start to get strange. This area is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s sandy and in general isolated and home to many strange creatures.

So you’re a Mexican Coyote leading ten to fifteen people to sneak across the border into the United States. It’s night the moon is weak, and there is a slight chill in the air. Out of the black you hear heavy breaths and growling grunts and can faintly see a great hairy creature. You flash your light and you see a massive figure with glowing eyes that are looking at you. 

What do you do? 

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The In-Ko-Pah Spirit
A Rocky Series Novella
by Wally Runnels
Genre: Pulp Fiction

This robust novella, another in Wally Runnels’ ongoing Rocky series, brings us to the eerie In-Ko-Pah Mountains, an isolated region on the Mexican/American Border where mysterious forces confound even the best laid plans of the Mexicali drug cartel. Rocky, a paid mercenary and expert hitman must confront his darkest memories and desires if he is to survive the supernatural challenges that arise as he hunts down his latest target, a hunter much like himself.

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Chapter One

“Bob Spriggins here with the Wenatchee Radio News. Sasquatch destroys trailer. Wenatchee resident Willy Berman’s Airstream is now at the bottom of Butcher Creek. Unfortunately, Willy Berman was still in it. Large macabre handprints form an indented pattern against the outside walls. One hand shape goes through. Sheriff says official identification of the body will be forthcoming. We all know Willy, but the sheriff says Willy’s closure has to be official.”

Whoooeee, skreee, whoop, whoop eeeeeeooo, Rocky fumbled with the dial on his shortwave. At three-thirty in the morning,it was another sleepless night. Sleepwas tossing and turning. Rocky had a feeling something was coming and had carried this suspicion for some time.

He did three tours in Afghanistan and lost his left arm working for the CIA. Rocky was a disabled Marine who had become a hitter, known for his quick and quiet work. He made problematic people disappear for American Intelligence and Mexican cartels. Even with only one arm,he was one of the best.

A spiraling climbing chiming of bells assaulted his ears. “Goddammit, faak,” he growled. The thought of it’s onlyWednesdaymorning went through his mind. He rolled over to find his phone.

“Rocky, what the hey?” It was Hector Rosales. He spoke fast, his voice boomingout of the small black rectangle. Rocky held the phone away from his ear.

“Sorry for the hour of my call.”

“Oh, I know.” Rocky yawned, stretching out under the covers. “Cruz is out of patchouli oil.” Rocky was the go-to guy for police Captain Roberto Cruz, the head of the Mexicali Cartel. “He lives under a patchouli cloud.”

Hector ran the business,and Roberto Cruz provided the power. Cruz relied on Rocky to be the closer of bad deals. Sometimes the sight of Rocky all in black, Italian silver tipped black boots and a white Panama Italian hat with a black band was enough. His signature look conveyed a highly respected reputation that made people agreeable.

“Nooo, it’s worse than that,” Hector roared. He sounded frightened, as if backed against the wall by some machete-wielding crazy. “Los Camioneros Muertos(The Dead Truckers) have stolen some meth, crack, and cloud nine.”

“Sounds like it was a feel-good ride.”

“No question. A Humvee packed with fun, damn.” Hector made a chortle that turned into a moan. “Oh lord, it’s gonna be my ass.”

“If they’re dead, how do they steal anything?” Rocky’s lips twisted in a smirk.

“They got a deal with the Devil. Arango Mota originally stole it. The Muertos took it from him.”

“He’s a lowlife flake.” Rocky sat up in bed.

“Nobody lowerthan Arango Mota,” Hector agreed.

“So, I’m the guy to do this.” Rocky shook his head. “Cruz always saves the weird ones for me.”

“You gotta get it all back and drop Arango,” Hector pleaded in a whine.

Rocky imagined Hector with his phone cradled under his chin and arms spread out with roiling grasping beseeching fingers. He knew Hector was afraid of consequences.

When Cruz was pissed off, he leaned really hard on his people. Piercing black eyes and a thick mustache, he slapped and hit. Grunting over his stomach that bulged in his super-tight uniform shirt. Black and blue marks and bloody wounds were the expected results of his judgments. Hector would be the lead target. And Hector was Rocky’s best friend.

“And he probably wants the Humvee returned.” Rocky had a smug look on his face.

“You’re the guy he wantsto deliver it.”

“Alright.” Rocky tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling, thinking. “I thought the Dead Truckers were only a rumor.”

“Not with the Devil running hell and those revved up eighteen wheelers they drive.”

“I find it hard to believe that these things are real.”

“It’s like those goddamned sasquatch. They’re there, but nobody will own up to it.”

“Sasquatch and the Dead Truckers. Sounds like a rock band.”

“Hey Rock, can I use that?”

Rocky was sure Hector had a grin on his face.

Rocky rolled on his bed and sat up, his feet on the cold floor. “Yeah, sasquatch and the Dead Truckers. They’re our real life mythology.”

“They don’t just call themselves that,” Hector fired back in a serious voice. “They are dead.”

“Where youcalling from?” Rocky stretched and walked over to his coffee pot, trying to shake off a sleepless night.

“Mexicali. I’m at the Tuna Club, my place of business, where I watch my money.”

“See you in an hour or so.” Rocky moved unsteadily, stubbing his toe against a chair. “Ow! ” He grimaced at the painful surprise. “What are the payment options? Body count or amount of destruction?”

“Any way you want it.” Hector had calmed down. Rocky figured he was just pacing with his signature jerky steps and still waving his arms.

Rocky heard a loud bang and crash. A feminine voice screamed.

“Got to go,” yelled Hector. He was a good protector of his girls.

Rocky grinned to himself. He was used to Hector’s problems. His business and associates were unique. Especially that dangerous Roberto Cruz. He’d given some thought about going back to school and getting a Master’s ofHistory. Maybe he could find work at a community college, but he would probably be bored to death.

Sometimes his work drew sadness from deep within his heart. He realized people were not all bad, just the few that he took out. For that reason, he had turned down some offers, not believing in the worth of the hit. He could do that. He was a freelancer. In many ways, he felt he was doing society a favor by removing social cancers.

If he were the religious type, he would probably be nervous about being forgiven. But with the people he was taking out he was owed some redemption.

He stretched, still waking up, and grabbed his coffee pot. Couldn’t think without drinking his cowboy coffee. Rocky filled the old metal coffeepotwith water. It was white, battered with a charred bottom from previous fires and hot coals. He scooped finely ground Arabic coffee into the water and put it over the fire on his propane stove.

He shaved every day. It was a Marine ritual he had retained. When he got out of the shower, he ran a brush through his short black hair and stared at the fair,chiseled face in the mirror. A thin scar ran over his left eyebrow to his left cheek, made by a knife from an ISIS warrior.

He had a heterochromatic condition that had frightened many marks. Caused by anger and tension, his normally gray eyes would shift to a blazing green. Sometimes they glowed.

The water was boiling when he arrived inthe kitchen. He pulled the rumbling container off the flames and set it on the counter. Then poured a cup of cold water around the inner walls of the vessel. The cold water pushed the grounds down to the bottom. It was the chuck wagon style of making coffee.

In Rocky’s mind, when one uses what they got, they don’t need much else. When he finished dressing, he poured his first cup.

It was hot when he took a light sip. “Hah, yeah.”He smiled as the flavor ran through him. He enjoyed the caffeine jolt that came with every cup. Coffee was Rocky’s favorite drug. He packed his pistol and ammo belt into an olive drab bag and refilled his coffee cup.

Locating his brass Buddha, he held it in both hands and murmured a quiet prayer before tucking it intohis jacket pocket. It would seem strange that Rocky had become a Buddhist. He held a nonviolent belief that murder could be condoned to save the lives of others. But he knew there was still the distant factor of karma.

He walked out the door, didn’t lock it, got into his truck, and headed for Mexicali.

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s coming.

What’s good to read.

Here I am with the big guys.

Red Spirit!

Put it in your bucket!

CHAPTER 2 SHORT

CHAPTER TWO
Rouffe and his escort rode back to his father’s walls. They were granite and marred by previous assaults. Smaller stones set within the larger boulders were patches from hurled missiles from catapults. They looked like scabs. Rouffe had been a baby when the last war occurred. They crossed a bridge and entered the gate flanked by two rearing dragons.
Rouffe worried about what his father wanted. He was fourteen and the age when he might be required to make a formidable adventure. One of which many young men had not survived.
They passed under a round vaulted portal. Torches blazed on the walls. Rouffe always felt humbled by this place. This would become his if he lived long enough.
They approached two men who sat on the ground with swords across their knees. “Ha, you got the boy, good work.”
Rouffe and his escort stopped at a wooden door held together by iron bands. Gouges pitted the door. It was more evidence of an assault by an invading force. The door opened with a groan. Armed guards nodded as they entered.
The great hall was lit at the far end by a huge fireplace. Along the walls leading to the flames were captured battle banners, swords of their vanquished enemies and battered pieces of armor.
Roffe saw his father sitting on one side of the burning fire pit. He sat slumped over as if mourning a loss. The baron was not a tall man but he was thick and muscular. His beard was gray was gray and matched his hair in color. His leather shirt was worn and patched. It reminded Rouffe of the man who wore it.
Without looking up he raised his arm. “Sit next to me, we must talk.”
Rouffe bowed slightly and sat. “How are you father?”
“I am well.” He nodded, sighed and grabbed his elbow as if feeling some invisible pain. “This has been a wonderful. No wars and now we have had a wonderful harvest.”
“I watched the fire,” Rouffe said. He rocked his shoulders and smiled at his father. “Everyone was dancing and laughing. They were happy.”
“No more Loup Garoux. But still people are cautious.”
“I have heard he had a son.”
“That is possible.” Choud nodded. “If there is a son he will be hell bent on vengeance.”
“He would be after us.” Rouffe shook his head.
“That’s why I hesitate to ask this.” Choud bowed his head and looked away from Rouffe. “I want you to go to the Outer Mountains and find a All Hallows log.” Choud looked into Rouffe’s eyes and frowned. “People are afraid to go to that haunted area.”
Rouffe nodded, “I will go.”
“It will be good for the people to see and hear the voices when it burns.”
“The voices of the dead.”
“Yes those warriors who were killed around the tree.”
“When it burns the voices will come out?”
“Yes.” Choud gave a slight shudder. “I have heard the voice of your grandfather coming from an All Hallows log.”
“It must have a strong spirit in it.”
“Yes voices of ther dead killed in combat.”
“It sounds scary.”
“Yes and there are still All Hallows logs out there.” Choud leaned back and sighed. “I would like to hear the voices again.”
“This is a task for a true warrior.”
“Yes it is Rouffe, and this is something you must do for me.”

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Voices From the Fire.

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

Rouffe followed his friend’s look and turned to look over his shoulder.

 

A solemn man in chain mail who wore a sword stood and studied the young crowd.

Rouffe jerked upright at the solemn countenance of the man.

“Gladsdon, what brings you here?”

“Young master, your father wishes to see you.”

Rouffe knew him as one of the men at arms his father maintained. “I have a horse for you.”

Rouffe nodded and adjusted his cap and followed his father’s man. He nodded to his friends who took on a quiet demeanor.

 

“Oh Rouffe, what have you done now?” One grinned. He could only shrug and shake his head.