Goodbye, Brand – part 2

[background music] On the night in question, as they say, I have no memory of posting the last entry in this blog that appears under my name or of going to the amphitheater. What I remember is feeling like someone was waking me up, and finding myself in the middle of my dream from two weeks ago. With the major difference that Ella was there and placing a dagger into my hand. I was disoriented, but seeing the urgency and fear in Ella’s face and the figure in front of me gave me a surprising resolution and certainty about what I had to do next.

“See ya, shorty,” I said, drew my arm back and thrust the blade into the apparition.

I felt something like an electric shock in my arm, saw an explosion of a color that I still can’t identify, heard a long, painful screech, and was thrown back by a strong wind that also blew Ella’s hair back like she was a model at a photo shoot. And yes, I did see large, strange shapes beyond the amphitheater. It was like seeing something in your peripheral vision even though you were looking right at it, if that makes any sense.

And then there was stillness.

I looked at Ella and we didn’t say anything for a few moments. Then she asked me if I was all right and I said I was. A few more moments of silence. I said I wouldn’t mind leaving and Ella readily agreed. I followed Ella to where she was parked, not realizing until I got there that my own car was in that area too.

“I think I should, um, stay with you for a while tonight,” said Ella, looking sideways at me.

“I think that’s a good idea,” I responded, in a voice I tried to make sound casual but slightly flirtatious.

Ella nodded. “What’s open 24 hours? Perkins?”

I sighed. “Yeah, Perkins,” I said in a voice that was casual and not flirtatious.

So, yeah, we went to Perkins.

Actually it was a good idea, since it turns out an excessive dose of normalcy was just what I needed to combat my anxiety and, well, fear, I have to admit. Ella filled me in on her side of the story, which she posted about. I asked if she still had that metal disc that had started all the trouble, and she said no, she had gotten rid of it. That couldn’t have been easy and I told her so, but she said the photos she took were sufficient, adding with a shrug that “Anything worth having is something worth giving up, I guess.” I thought this might have been a proverb she came across in her studies but she said it’s a song lyric by the author of a blog she reads.

We spent a couple of hours talking about non-supernatural things, how she likes living in Detling, etc. I don’t remember exact details. By then I was feeling OK and went home, with her following me again.

Ella assures me that I have nothing more to fear from Brand and I believe her, but I’m still uneasy. In one of my first posts I talked about deepening my experience of Detling by going to the downtown bars that were previously unfamiliar even though they’d always been there. Within the last couple weeks I find out that there’s this whole new dimension of things about my hometown I wasn’t aware of.

Detling Adventures, indeed.

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Goodbye, Brand – part 1

First of all, Arthur’s fine. In no time he’ll be back to sharing his wit and offering subtle observations about women he finds attractive.

Mr. Spindle had a much more thorough conception of Brand’s plan than you would probably expect from Arthur’s report. While the vial and dagger Arthur received were genuine, it was also unlikely that he would have a chance to use them. Mr. Spindle’s assumption was that Brand would take the action he ultimately did take: manipulate Arthur into going to a place where Brand would be powerful enough to transfer his spirit.

In a way I suppose we were misleading Arthur, but given the connection between he and Brand, I believe you’ll see the necessity.

To the real plan then, which Mr. Spindle shared with me while Arthur’s senses were distracted. The process required to prepare the dagger was complex, true. But not so complex that Mr. Spindle couldn’t create two of them. He knew where Brand would likely take Arthur; if you read the post about the dream you can probably guess too. And he even knew approximately when to expect Brand to commence his operation.

I was prepared to wield the dagger. And as I found out the next day when she brought it to the bookstore along with another vial of the Armitage formula, so was Ingrid. Mr. Spindle had told her about the situation and she was enthusiastic about the opportunity to combat an… “incorporeal asshat” was the phrase she used, I believe. Perhaps you’re surprised that she would so readily accept such a premise. I was somewhat surprised too but then she shared some her experiences out in the country and, well, her crossbow bolts aren’t tipped with silver simply for decoration, let me just say that.

Ingrid and I kept watch at the amphitheater in shifts, beginning Friday night. During our confidential interview on Monday night Mr. Spindle had given me a tracking device, developed by Ingrid’s husband, to attach to Arthur’s car, to give us advance warning when he arrived at the site.

And so it was that within half an hour of posting that rather chilling midnight entry, Arthur arrived with me at the ready, waiting in the woods that bordered the amphitheater. He walked slowly to the edge of the stage and stopped there, which is what cued me to proceed. I ran to where he was and, opening the vial, threw the contents in front of Arthur, in what I perceived to be empty space.

The space did not remain empty. I saw a dark apparition similar to what Arthur described in his dream: a human figure wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a cloak. I intentionally avoided looking directly at it so I don’t know if its face was visible. Looking at Arthur, I saw him blink and look about him confusedly, indicating that I had temporarily interrupted the hold Brand had over him. I grasped Arthur’s right hand, put the hilt of the dagger into it, and closed his fingers around it. Which is the point at which he informs me he would like to continue the narrative.

One final thing before I close. Based on the thorough if idiosyncratic eye for detail I’ve observed in Arthur’s posts, it’s possible he may refer to seeing shapes behind the amphitheater that seemed barely within the range of human vision. This is likely an optical illusion likely brought on by the unique stress of the situation he found himself in, so please don’t ask him to try to remember more details.

Hello, world

At the conclusion of his last entry in this intriguing journal, our young friend questioned the plausibility of an “undead warlock” reading his work.

Well, here we are.

Spindle’s plan was not without merit. Indeed, I am astonished and pleased that a man of such knowledge and wisdom can be found in Detling. He will present a delightful challenge. However, Spindle underestimated me. You observe the influence I possess over your author. Momentarily I will direct him to a place where ancient and dreadful powers are exalted, and my life on earth will begin anew.

Vast perspectives of success unfurl themselves before me. I proceed to accomplish a grand destiny that this callow typist should be honored to be a part of.

Farewell.

Leaving Spindle

After Spindle and I finished our conversation Ella started in with some fangirl talk in which I recognized maybe two references, from my own reading of Spindle’s stories. She did get him to agree to making an appearance at the bookstore.

Spindle drove us back in the golf cart thing to Ella’s jeep. Ingrid stood in her doorway again and said she’d see us at the bookstore sometime.

“You took all that pretty well,” said Ella on the drive back to town. “Yeah, well, I’m kind of used to dealing with weird stuff from my old job,” I said.

“So you believe everything you heard in there?” asked Ella. No, I didn’t, and once Ella reads this she’ll know that, but in response to her question I said “If an evil spirit wants to take over my body, I’ll use the vial and dagger instead of calling the police.”

“Wasn’t that amazing?” said Ella. “Getting help from Ted Spindle like that? Being invited to his house?” “I guess,” I said.

For the rest of the drive back Ella asked me more questions about Brand and reminded me a couple more times how amazing Ted Spindle is. Before she dropped me off, she asked me if I thought I could handle everything on my own. I said I probably could but may call her anyway. She even felt the need to check one of my front tires, which she said looked like it needed air.

“I’m going to follow you home, if that’s all right,” she said. “To make sure you get back OK.” I said it was fine and that maybe she could follow me inside too, to be extra safe. She responded by giving me the ECG look. On the way home, to avoid having another existential panic attack, I kept my mind occupied by mentally playing and replaying the song Rio.

You know, I try to have an open mind about the supernatural and about things not known to science (nobody makes me go to church, after all) but Spindle’s story just got more ridiculous the more I thought about it. I figured it would be harmless to play along and I’ll keep the vial and weapon around in case Spindle wants them back. He’s got a better imagination than I once gave him credit for in his stories, but what he told me tonight? I need to watch what I write because an undead warlock might read my blog? Come on.

Spindle’s plan

“The object and incantation you discovered is part of Brand’s plan to live past his physical death,” Spindle told me. “He has persisted in spirit form and now requires a body.”

I played along. “So you and Ella think that because I said those words and held the disc, Brand’s going to be taking over my body?” I said. “That is his intent,” said Spindle.

“Wait a minute,” said Ella. “If Brand can get inside Arthur’s head and appear in a dream, won’t he know that we’re planning a way to stop him?” “I believe that will work in our favor,” said Spindle, “Brand’s influence over Arthur is becoming greater, and we need Brand to reveal himself now.”

“He cannot read your thoughts directly,” Spindle said to me, “but he will likely recognize that you feel you can stop him. I believe this will prompt him to commence the final part of his plan prematurely. His overconfidence is his weakness.” “I just hope my faith in my friends isn’t mine,” I said. Spindle bowed his head. “Well played, sir.”

“Brand will appear to you, likely in the shape in which he appeared in your dream,” Spindle continued. “When you see him, shatter the vial in front of him.” “Can’t I just pour it out?” I asked. “Shattering it is more dramatic,” responded Spindle.

“So some chemicals are going to stop this evil spirit?” I said. “No,” said Spindle. “Just make him vulnerable. To stop him, you need this,” and he withdrew a long dagger from his coat. “Preparing this is what kept me from speaking to you before now,” said Spindle. “The rituals are complex, the materials uncommon. But the blade is strong and true and will strike at the heart of the beast.” “Yeah, I was going to ask if it did that,” I said.

I was having a pretty hard time taking this seriously. What seemed more likely was that Spindle was orchestrating some kind of publicity stunt that involved me as an unwitting accomplice. Thinking about whether I should call him on it, I saw a stack of cards on a table near where I was standing, about twice as long as a regular playing deck but not significantly wider. For no particular reason, I cut the deck.

I decided to continue with the premise. “So, what’s the plan?” I asked. “Do I wait here for Brand to make his move?” Turning my attention back to the cut deck of cards, I flipped over the top card from the former bottom half. It was a drawing of a seated woman with the title Queen of Wands.

Spindle responded that Brand wouldn’t do anything to me at Spindle’s home, since there were too many protections. “So, what, I just go home at wait?” I said. “Essentially,” said Spindle. “Are you going to be around to help?” I said. “My vigilance is required elsewhere,” Spindle responded. “You chose an interesting time to return to your hometown, my friend. Regardless, the fact that you spoke the incantation means that you must be the one to dispatch Brand.” Of course.

I must be able to do something,” said Ella. Well! Maybe there was going to be a benefit to playing Spindle’s game. Spindle looked at me, then went to the shelf of liquids and came back with another vial, which opened and placed in front of my face. He asked me to inhale and, without thinking, I did so. I felt like I had wet Pop Rocks in my nose. Ella and Spindle appeared to be conversing but I couldn’t hear anything and I was blinking so much I had trouble seeing. The effect passed eventually.

“What was that supposed to be?” I said. “I don’t wish to take the chance that Brand can find out any aspect of our plan,” said Spindle, “so part of it will be unknown even to you.”

“Fine,” I said. I was reaching the limits of my patience. “Hey,” I said, “I don’t suppose you have a gun that shoots wooden stakes, do you? You know, in case there’s a vampire I have to deal with.”

Ella rolled her eyes but Spindle reached under a nearby table and showed us a wide metal cylinder with a pistol grip. He opened one of the chambers that were positioned parallel to the axis, revealing a pointed wooden shaft. “Something like this?” he asked. Ella clapped her hands and laughed. I sighed. “Never mind,” I said.

“One final thing,” said Spindle. “I must ask you not to write about what transpired here until Brand has been dispatched. If it’s recorded, it will be easier for Brand to learn about it.” I made a non-committal “Mmmm” sound. Obviously, I didn’t follow Spindle’s advice. Are you reading this, Spindle? Find another sucker to kick your made-up monster’s ass.

Meeting Spindle 2

Spindle said we would take a shortcut through the woods between his home and Ingrid and her husband’s home. He led us through the salvage yard toward something that looked like a golf cart, but with rows of lights on all sides. I asked Spindle why he had sent the letter.

“I was concerned when I read the description of your recent dream,” said Spindle. “If your adversary had not appeared to you, I might not have seen a need for action until it was too late.”

“Adversary?” both Ella and I asked at the same time.

“Indeed,” said Spindle. “Eilert Brand.”

Ella clenched her teeth and drew in her breath sharply. “That thing did do something when you said the incantation,” she said to me. Apparently she hadn’t read that post after I told her about the blog. “I wasn’t positive,” I said in a borderline whiny kind of way. If it was just the two of us I suppose she would have had more to say to me, but she was more interested in how Spindle knew about Eilert Brand and asked him about it.

“I have knowledge of areas that might be considered…esoteric,” Spindle said. Ella then told me to explain what happened to me in the jeep before our abrupt stop. I did so, though probably not as artfully as I did in the post. “Fascinating,” said Ella.

A couple of minutes later, we arrived at Spindle’s home. I was expecting something ostentatious, maybe even some non-Euclidean geometry, but the structure wasn’t all that bizarre. It was about two stories, had the wide overhangs you associate with Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, and was made of wood. The only unusual thing was the tower attached to one end.

Spindle parked the cart beneath a canopy. “Welcome to my house,” he said. “Enter freely.” We followed him through a door framed in an archway, passing through a short hallway into a large circular room.

A group of narrow bookshelves covered about half of the area, and shelves with glass containers containing a variety of colored liquids were on the opposite half. There were several tables in the room and while electronic lights provided illumination, all the tables had candles on them. One table also had a crystal ball on it. There were a ton of other things in the room: some of the things I noticed were a dreamcatcher, a stone tiki, and a statue of a seated man with an elephant’s head. The middle part of the floor was bare but it looked like there had been a series of chalk markings there that were now mostly wiped away. I smelled incense.

Ella asked “So, how much time does Arthur have?” “Time before what?” I said. Spindle walked to one of the shelves with the liquids and asked Ella if she was familiar with the Armitage formula used in the Dunwich manifestation. Don’t ask me what that is, I’m just reporting.

Ella looked like Spindle had offered her the deed to his house. “I wrote a paper on Dunwich!” she exclaimed with the kind of delight I associate more with girls the age of Miriam’s daughter or Ingrid’s niece. “This is a variation on the formula,” said Spindle. He removed a vial from the shelf and gave it to me. “Brand will be making his move soon,” said Spindle.

“You know,” I said, “now would be a good time to tell me just what exactly you’re talking about.”