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Old 03-19-2020, 11:16 AM   #61
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Default E13: Venus in Robes

It’s been a long time since the cassette reached the end, but neither man had noticed the silence. Wojciechowski flipped the cassette over to the B side and Leonard Cohen started to sing ‘So Long, Marianne’, sadness palpable in his scratchy voice. Wojciechowski spoke without affect.

“From Houston we learned that they had contact with Danny Daniels for whole hour after Dante Villareal went in. Danny was communications sergeant in Special Forces, he’d set up our radio rig and tactical comms for reaction team. Last they heard from him, he was reporting that Dante hadn’t checked in, had spent longer in there than he should and that Izzy Landry was considering entering health club to extract him from whatever trouble he might have found.

“Houston also notified us that cell tower in area was on fritz and last communication from Danny was coded message on AM radio from car, telling them tactical radios didn’t work. Message in clear, so not specific, due to need to avoid ham radio operators hearing things they shouldn’t, but Danny said that he had tried everything to overcome interference and just managed to get out this message. Could have been technological jamming, but more likely, surge in thaumatological energies.

“Paranormal phenomena interfere with modern electronics. Both we and others have developed ways to use that effect deliberately, make technological communication difficult or impossible. As magic goes, not difficult to perform, as long as there is energy available. Occult causes also consistent with Vietnam-era radio continuing to work when cell phones and modern tactical radios were useless. Something with history, something restored as labor of love, interacts differently with supernatural forces than commercial technology.”

“Is that why you use something like an outdated bolt-action hunting rifle instead of a modern weapon?” Kit asked. “It has some kind of a personal meaning to you?”

Wojciechowski nodded. “Tak. Mannlicher-Schönauer M1903 carbine. It was my grandfather’s. Old Man Kessler has linked it and some of my other weapons with my life force. Enchanted weapons, you could call them, although more accurately, enchantment concerns link between object and person. I carry Mannlicher for silver bullets, M28/30 Finnish Mosin for cold-forged iron. Powerful enchantments were even harder to do back then, but strengthening of old rifle to handle unusual ammunition was subtle enough to work even in early days.”

“Clever,” Kit said. “Supernatural beings usually have some kind of weakness, just like in fiction, and instead of just trying to carry ever more firepower, you guys focused on the ability to hit them with the right kind of weapon. Silver bullets, literally. So you and Vlad loaded up with enchanted weapons to ride to the rescue, like an awesome lock-and-load montage?””

“We had to use subtlety,” Wojciechowski said. “Health club, ‘Venus in Robes’, was over river in East St. Louis. State of Illinois doesn’t recognize Texas license to carry and any kind of open carry ranges from doubtful to forbidden there. You know East St. Louis?”

Kit shook his head. “I’ve never been.”
“Don’t bother.” Wojciechowski said seriously. ”You know movie, ‘Escape from New York’? Kurt Russel as Snake Plissken, sent into lawless post-apocalyptic hellscape urban jungle to rescue President?”
“Sure”, Kit said dubiously.

Wojciechowski grinned coldly. “Well, it’s filmed there. Since 1950s, city has lost two thirds of its population. Post-industrial wasteland, they call it. Movie was surprisingly true to life, except that East St. Louis still had embattled police force, overworked, undermanned and not likely to take kindly to heavily armed strangers on their streets.

“So, we carry longarms in gun cases in trunk of car and hid pistols under coats. Illegally, but at that point, we had decided that we would have to break some laws. This was back when we bought Heckler & Koch weapons, so we had Mark 23 pistols with Knight’s suppressor as full-size Night Rider handgun. Good boat anchors; stupid choice for carry handgun. Still, .45 ACP copper hollow-point filled with blessed salt are worth carrying, just in case.

“Vlad drove us there. He was Spetsnatz before he was Legionnaire. Been soldier almost as long as I. Vlad became man in Afghanistan; left some other things there. So [fornicating] Vlad was grinning like madman while he drove, because he had been bored working security detail and because that man was only happy when someone was trying to kill him.

“We told Dr. Lapointe to stay behind in hotel. Safe and sound. He thanked us politely and then went ahead and did what he wanted, which was to come with us. Les filleuls are all cousins, at least to their way of thinking, and way he saw it, he had two in harm’s way. Dante and Izzy. So, he fixed ridiculous glasses, checked fancy Damascus-steel pistol his godfather must have given him and told us things we’d really rather not hear.

“Like that Mississippi river was blocking some of it, but even so, he could feel raw energy surging from east. See, Cahokia, Mound City, to north of St. Louis, is Indian ruins site everyone knows about. On east side of river, though, less than half a mile from us, much of East. St. Louis was once mound site also. They were building new bridge over river at that time and archaeologists were working overtime trying to analyze some of these sites. Fifty prehistoric mounds, centered somewhere around where ‘Venus in Robes’ was located, just over river.

“And something had woken power there, power to match what could be found inside Vile Vortices. Maybe smaller area, maybe just temporary, but that was small comfort to us that night. We were heading into it. Dr. Lapointe told us that energies roiling around were enough for gifted occultist to shape effects he could only dream about in ordinary times. Some consolation, eh, żabko?”

From the car stereo, Cohen sang ‘But let me ask you one more time; O children of the dusk; All these hunters who are shrieking now; Oh, do they speak for us?

Wojciechowski continues his tale, “So, maybe thaumic energies not entirely bad thing. Double-edged sword, as magic so often is. Dr. Lapointe, he has all kinds of occult gifts. Using old compass, map and sextant, he could pinpoint all our fellow Night Riders. In minutes, he performed divinations that should have taken days of preparations, and he found them all, with precision like GPS. They were inside health club and they were alive.

“So, we crossed Eads Bridge and drove past riverboat Casino Queen, into wooded area to northeast of it. Less than three klicks, but might as well have been moon. Few factories, mostly abandoned. Ghosts of old stockyards; one of greatest abattoirs in history. And one fancy new health club, ‘Venus in Robes’, lit like Christmas tree, all marble and neon, like slice of Las Vegas in overgrown urban desolation. Standing on Cahokia Street, because of course it was.

“We found Izzy’s Cadillac and Dupont’s Mustang parked in next street from health club, well hidden. They were empty of men, but locked, well-secured. Like Izzy would have left them if they made entry to extract Dante Villareal. On ‘Venus in Robes’ parking lot, we saw Babe Olson’s Lincoln Continental, looking empty from distance, so that was where rest of Dante’s team had been stationed. No threats visible at first glance, but we parked half click away, behind abandoned factory.

“So. I hope to God you never have to do something so stupid, żabko, but we were more afraid of what was in there than of police. So I put on tactical vest with rifle plates and attached Mannlicher with sling to me, gave Finnish Mosin to Dr. Lapointe and told him to carry if for me. Vlad had VEPR rifle, civilian copy of RPK, semi-automatic, with folding stock and modern tactical accessories. He was already citizen, I was not yet, so he had night vision and I did not. We would have broken any laws or regulations at that time if we could, but we hadn’t brought NVDs for me.

“We sketched up quick plan and moved out. We were going to approach the health club and then Dr. Lapointe was going to reach our people with mental contact. He knew spell for it, one that he had never tried outside of Penemue library while sailing occult tide. Still, with thaumic energies as they were here on top of ancient mounds, it was worth try. No use planning for what we’d do after that. It depended too much on what contact would reveal if we succeeded.

“Me, I was hoping that we could call in local police and then disappear. Better have Izzy and them fight gun charges in Illinois court than me and Vlad having to fight whatever [fornicating] thing had trapped nine Night Riders without raising any alarms. Hell, it might be Illinois, but this was still America. If O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake could be acquitted for killing wives, all because they had few dollars, having godfather like Kessler should be good for making gun charges go away. Otherwise, what did I become capitalist for?

“Neon lights outside health club were flickering, bathing all in eerie lighting that was there one moment, gone next. Vlad tapped my shoulder, signed at me to get down. Pointed out what he saw. Couple of guys patrolling. Walked like men of war, that kind of arrogant certainty of their own power that you see in soldiers, at least young or dumb ones. Except they don’t seem to have rifles, just clubs. And in cold November night, they were bare-chested, wearing silly masks.

"It wasn’t until one of them half turned I could tell he had wings.”
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Old 03-19-2020, 02:28 PM   #62
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Default Re: E13: Venus in Robes

Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
... Leonard Cohen started to sing ‘So Long, Marianne’, sadness palpable in his scratchy voice.
I don't know just what atmosphere you were trying to evoke by choosing Leonard Cohen as background music to the story, but it's doing creepy unpleasantness really well for me.
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Old 03-19-2020, 03:06 PM   #63
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Default Re: E13: Venus in Robes

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I don't know just what atmosphere you were trying to evoke by choosing Leonard Cohen as background music to the story, but it's doing creepy unpleasantness really well for me.
Well, I'm not much of an artist, so I'm afraid that most of that is due to verisimilitude rather than conscious artistic choice.

Tomasz Mateusz Wojciechowski is a devoted fan of Leonard Cohen because Cohen was the most popular musician in Poland when Wojciechowski was at that crucial teenage to young adult age where musical tastes solidify.

Cohen's father was a Polish immigrant and Poland has always had a remarkable love-affair with Leonard Cohen, even before he gave a concert there in 1985, while the country was still Communist. Bootleg cassettes of Cohen's songs were hot commodities in Poland when Wojciechowski was young and a local artist, Maciej Zembaty, translated and performed his songs to huge success in Poland.

The only artistic choice I made was making a point of mentioning Wojciechowski's music selection when his story started. He started playing a cassette of Songs from a Room and then, when both sides of that finished, he inserted Songs of Leonard Cohen.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:49 AM   #64
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Default E14: Trouble with Tulpa

There was a high-pitched, tortured scream. Kit’s heart stopped for a second, until he processed that the pig had lost the coral and was squealing, sounding like – well, a stuck pig. Cursing under his breath, he rooted for the ivory coral on the car floor while Wojciechowski changed cassettes again. Juman opened one hooded eye, confirmed that no danger threatened, and slipped back into relaxed sleep. By the time Kit had found the enchanted coral and gotten the pig happily suckling again, Cohen was singing ‘I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons…’

Wojciechowski resumed his tale. “Flickering neon light shone on bronzed warriors and revealed truth. They wore headdresses, but not masks. What I’d taken for masks were their faces, part-human faces with sharp, cruel beaks. Clawed hands held decorated war clubs and grotesque rattles made from skulls. Large enough to be human skulls. Their wings, folded on their backs, were not large enough to lift human-sized being, not bio-mechanically, so perhaps they were vestigial, but at that point, who could know?

“Nowadays, if stars are wrong, we have certain conditions on ley line or Place of Power becomes Bad Place because of ruined Threshold, you can get worst kind of monsters anywhere. Back when I started, it was very rare to find them outside Vile Vortices. Human cheval with spirit riding him, sure, but while that might grant power and cause all sorts of horrible behavior, it wouldn’t make someone look like movie werewolf – or horrible birdman.

“That was level of supernatural way beyond what we tended to see in those days, outside Vile Vortices. But 2011 and 2012 had been very bad years. Not so much inside Caribbean Vortex, no, not like stories I heard about 2008 or 2010 for that, but worst anyone had seen for paranormal phenomena outside Vile Vortices. I don’t know if you remember, żabko, but world was supposed to end 21.12.2012. Old Man Kessler didn’t subscribe to that theory, but there were plenty of foolish cultists and rogue magicians who did. There was even time when I thought – well, if not end of world, at least end of world as we knew it.

“So, one-third of all Night Riders in world had no business being in St. Louis, where we knew nothing about local conditions and when there were plenty of worrying developments in dozens of other places. But there we were. Nine of us maybe incapacitated or worse inside ‘Venus in Robes’. Me and Vlad staring at two ugly mother[fornicators] with beaks outside. Dr. Lapointe scattering holy water around himself, placing mirrors and protective apotropes around ritual space, trying to prepare for his spell without drawing attention from birdmen guards.

“Even when it flickers and sputters in strong magic field, night vision device is useful tool. Vlad spotted two other ugly beak-mouth buggers by main entrance. We figured it was good odds that more would be lurking by back doors. No firearms, just clubs and skull-rattles, but we didn’t know if high level of thaumic energy meant they could use magic tactically.

“And we didn’t know what the hell these things were. Fae of some sort, so they’d be vulnerable to iron? Shape-shifted humans with bonded spirits that could be hurt with blessed salt, silver or right kind of wood? Or were they vulnerable to electrum or gold? Were they embodied spirits or demons, maybe requiring some other kind of precious metal, jade or yet another material?”

Wojciechowski shook his head, “That kind of not knowing is why Night Riders should never operate in unfamiliar territory, without local support and prior research.”
Kit frowned, “Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing right now?”

A cold smile lit up the face of the older Night Rider. “Like I said, żabko, welcome to Night Riders. More things change, more they stay same. We don’t have as much bureaucracy as military, but we can organize [flustercluck] just like real military. Mr. Murphy is more powerful than any prophecy or divination. No charm can keep him away and no plan survives contact with enemy. Magic or no magic. And sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself doing exactly what you shouldn’t and wish you didn’t have to, because if it was easy, they wouldn’t give it to Night Riders.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Kit.
“Bugger off, żabko, I work for living.” Wojciechowski grinned without mirth. “But not that night. That night we did not earn our pay.

“So, żabko, if you’ve been on operations at all, you know silenced gunshots aren’t. Suppressors save hearing, they don’t remove all noise, not without magic anyway, and in those days, we didn’t have enchanted suppressors. And silent sentry removal is more for movies than reality. It usually doesn’t work and even when it does, alarm is raised anyway because only fool has isolated sentries without visual contact. And that is human sentries. These birdman [illegitimates] could have been tougher than Bruce Lee on PCP for all we knew.

“As luck or lack thereof would have it, however, illustrious [fornicating] Mr. Murphy dictated that mental contact ritual Dr. Lapointe needed was written in Enochian in notebook of Katherine Dee, which meant he would need light to perform his spell. Light of two-century old beeswax candle made by Grace Donne, specifically, because it was hard magic to perform and he wanted to use everything he could to improve his chances.

“We tried waiting, but it was soon obvious that two mobile birdmen guards would always be risk to see candle during ritual. So, decision time. Not hard. Innocent people don’t have rattles of human skulls or guard buildings where nine of our people were trapped, captured or worse. We made executive decision, we declared war on Sons of the Bird. Vlad took up position as security where he could see mobile pair and also keep eye on back door. I readied boat anchor suppressed pistol on my vest for quick access and moved behind rear birdman with good, sharp knife.

“Two operators was really too few for what we were trying. So, at certain point, we had to abandon security element. Not recommended, żabko. Never do as I do, only as I say. So, I waited for Vlad to move into position next to me, pistol aimed at back of head on second birdman and in other hand, because Vlad was madman, was his axe. Not entrenching tool, not tactical tomahawk. Axehead was from 18th century Cossack war-axe and Vlad made handle himself.

“At point we picked, out of sight from other birdmen guards, we struck. I grabbed mine from behind, turning head with hand on beak, stabbing down with knife where clavicle met neck, riding him down to ground. He arched, struggled, fought, but I moved knife around, making sure I severed subclavian artery and extended knife into thoracic cavity, through lungs into heart and coronary arteries. At least, where these would be for human, but there was no blood. No wheezing sound when lungs are punctured, no feeling of heartbeat stopping through handle of my knife.

“It was like I had my knife in solid block of ballistic gel, but [illegitimate] birdman kept fighting with inhuman strength. Vlad struck at base of neck, back of head, designed to sever spine. Like me, he rode his target down, struck again kneeling on top of birdman. No blood, but axe made head into unrecognizable lump and his birdman did not move again. Instead, it started to dissolve, leaving nothing behind. Tulpa – emanation body or thought-form; magic, myth or imagination made flesh.

“Still, real or not, these tulpa were evidently fae enough to hate and fear the iron in our weapons. Yielding thought-form flesh sizzled and disappeared at touch of my knife. It took horrible half-minute of fierce struggle, but I destroyed my tulpa target as pink neon sign of Venus rising from waves intermittently lit our forms on ground. Vlad moved to cover back door, suppressed pistol in one hand and axe in other.

“Dr. Lapointe lit his ancient candle and started to read incomprehensible Enochian words in low voice, surprisingly calm for situation. Al Lapointe is much tougher than he looks. Born during Congo Crisis and grew up in Angola and Zaire, with mother who was somewhere between cadre and fighter. I myself reject pacifism as philosophy, but I was never child soldier in civil war. When Al says he won’t kill people, it is not out of cowardice, it is courage of his convictions. If meek inherit world, he can have my share.

“Now, żabko, trouble with tulpa is that they are called into existence by someone. If that someone is aware of what he is doing, he often has some way to monitor his creations. This makes them pretty good sentries, but was understandably somewhat inconvenient for yours truly, when swift-moving, shadowy figure swooped over neon-lit parking lot. Vlad gave empathetic, if unspecific warning as he swore, “Blyad!” in gleeful voice of madman who finds joy in war.

“I could see two moving figures coming from front parking lot. They were stealthy, moving like predatory shadows, and I think they were sure they could catch us by surprise. At least pair were coming from other direction, into Vlad’s line of fire. Four would have been bad, but I glimpsed stalking form close to building, using shadow from neon light to stay hidden, and I guessed at location of another one, more feeling than anything else.”

Leaning forward in his seat, Kit asked eagerly, “And then what happened?”

With a quiet bark of laughter, Wojciechowski said, “Well, żabko, they killed me – as Wild Bill Hickock said to soiled dove.”
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:05 PM   #65
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Default E15: Riddle of Steel

Impatiently, Kit waved aside the irreverent aside from the old Night Rider. “That was Jim Bridger telling a tall tale to a tenderfoot around the campfire. When the tenderfoot asked him how he survived, Bridger said, ‘I didn’t. That dratted Injun killed me.’”

Wojciechowski shrugged, “Also works, tenderfoot.” He grinned without joy. “Except, of course, I survived, as per evidence of your senses. Dratted Injun birdmen were fast, swift as striking falcons, but they didn’t have guns.

“Heavy staccato barks from behind me told me that Vlad was firing his suppressed pistol. Controlled pairs, quick as he could, way he always worked. One of birdman mother[fornicators] ran right at me, another tried to flank me to left. Both must have thought I had not spotted them because of lighting and because I was still standing up.

“Muscle memory, żabko. Hell of thing. Keeps you alive in situations you’ve trained for, but also doesn’t ask questions, even when you need thought more than action. I rose from knees into two-handed shooting stance, leaving knife on ground. Mozambique drill at first one, two in chest, one in forehead. Didn’t stop, didn’t slow, because tulpa didn’t come with vital organs or brain and it didn’t seem to care about blessed salt or copper hollow-points. Faster than thought, I drilled it again, two in chest, one in head, but same effect.

“It reached me, then. Fortunately, thought caught up before war club split my head. Somehow, I slip to side, release one hand from weapon, block descending arm, grab, shift center of gravity and let birdman fly over hip. I felt ten feet tall, for all of heartbeat, until other birdman hit me. I dodged club, took bastard [sphincter] square to side.

“Boat-anchor pistol had one advantage. Both weapon and can were steel, close enough to iron for government work. Heavy too, like spiked mace. So I hit bastard birdman on head, hard enough to kill human. Then again. And again. As it slumped down, I did threat scan, two more [fornicating] birdmen coming for me, screeching horribly.

“I was thinking now, so I stepped backward to my knife, shooting low, at legs and knees. No vitals doesn’t mean no load-bearing joints. Dropped one [fornicator] when leg buckled under it on run, dove down to grab knife. Emptied my handgun into legs of birdman [fornicator] I’d put on the ground first, trying to encourage it to stay down. Rolled away with knife in one hand, still firing with other, managed to parry sharp claws with knife from limited-mobility bastard on ground. Hit bastard in face with handgun, slashed arm and when it rolled on top of me, jammed knife into neck and kept hitting it.

“Copper hollow-points might not kill bastard birdmen, żabko, but they put ugly holes in thought-forms and I could see neon light through head where I’d put two bullets earlier. Screeching hate through inhuman beak, it started to dissolve. I left pistol on ground, rolled to feet and blasphemously cursed Virgin and Child. I’d spotted four on my side after we took out sentries. Destroyed one, put two on ground, one with ruined leg, another with battered head. Fourth was in air, jumping at me with razor talons coming.

“Something hit it in face as it dove, but it was little comfort. I managed to take one talon on rifle plate, but other ripped open side and stomach. Large, jagged cuts hurt more than being shot, żabko. Hurt like hell, feel like your guts are torn from your body. All your world becomes pain and horror that you’ll never recover, die screaming with innards ripped from belly.”

“I know,” Kit said quietly.

Wojciechowski looked into the rear-view mirror and there was a long moment of eye contact. “So. You know, żabko. And I screamed. While I screamed, I slashed, trying to disable legs and stop talons from tearing more of me.

“Vlad hadn’t been able to reach me in time, but he’d thrown his axe. Crazy [fornicating] Białorusin! Birdman face was ruined mess, beak split in two. Some tulpa feel pain or maybe confusion. I brought it down next to me, establishing leg lock with knife, cutting back of knee joint. I couldn’t stand up, pain almost blinded me, but I rolled over on top of it and stabbed it in back, again and again.

“Vlad arrived, chopping with big Vityaz Cossack knife, taking its head in three strokes. Then he ripped axe from dissolving head and moved to finish crippled or stunned [fornicators] on ground. I lay there, trying to breathe, and bled into puddle on ground. Cursed Maryja Dziewica some more, because it felt better than screaming, reached for IFAK, got out Israeli bandage and tried to put pressure on stomach. Realized that ‘Medice, cura te ipsum’ was [bull droppings] by the time Vlad had secured immediate surroundings well enough to render assistance.

“Vlad had taken couple of blows, but stupid Białoruski head too thick to break. Also, he wore helmet and took one blow on vest. Broken nose and bad cut on forehead, lacerations on arm, but no serious injuries. So he put on pressure bandage to keep my guts inside. Loaded our pistols, put Mannlicher in my arms in case more bastards arrived and asked what we were going to tell police.

“I told him what to tell police. Explicitly and at great length, until he told me to stop cursing at him. Then I reached into IFAK and injected Aunty Genie’s obeah elixir for holding death at bay. It’s herbal. Well, mostly herbal. Hurts like liquid fire when it hits you, then makes you cold as ice. Upside is you don’t feel anything else, like your guts trying to escape your stomach. And it slows bleeding, prevents shock and lets you function when you really need to. Good thing about high-quality load-bearing gear, it’s got solid belts and stout buckles to rig around an open stomach wound.”

“Jesus,” Kit said. “Why didn’t you just call the police? Ambulance? SWAT, if there was a hostage situation inside? I get that you might catch a gun charge, but [excrement], what the hell help were you going to be with your stomach ripped open?”

A dry chuckle escaped Wojciechowski. “You think I cared about gun charge, żabko? No. If it helped other Night Riders, I’d have gone to even American prison. Besides, Old Man Kessler employs best lawyers. I think I could have walked, if I could convince jury I was black celebrity. In right light, I am blacker than Michael Jackson.

“It was not that. Consider, żabko, Vlad and I were old in war. We had been reckoned beside very tough men for many, many years, in Spetsnaz or GROM, in 2e REP of Legion, and among Night Riders. And we were used to being best. No empty boasting; but no false modesty. We were warriors born; forged in battle like tempered steel. We’d lost speed and conditioning since we were young, but dealing death is not sport. It is not hard abs that kill. It is hard heart.

“And we knew about supernatural, we knew how fast and strong some things could be. We knew that shooting them did not always work. We had training, knowledge, basis for forming some kind of tactical plan. With all these advantages, we’d barely survived that attack. What were ordinary police going to do? Would they even see stalking, predatory birdmen bastards? If they shot at them and it did not work, what could they do? When they looked into eyes filled with insane cruelty of bottomless evil, what would they cling to?

“No, żabko. Even good men, brave men, cannot just come upon that kind of thing and hope to survive long enough to learn. Cops would have tried, some in terror, some with courage. Most would show both, because one cannot exist without other. But they would have died. The first responders, certainly. Likely enough, officers from several cars also, as many as tried to get in to pull out others until orders were given to close everything down and wait for SWAT. And SWAT? They’d probably win in end, but fighting beings that required cold steel to kill, they’d lose many men. More men than I was comfortable condemning to death in fight where they didn’t know rules.

“So. We stuck to plan. I tried walking, found that I could. Went to exchange Mannlicher with Mosin, because Mosin had steel armor-piercing ammo. Picked out zones of fire, took up firing posts, identified fallback positions. Waited for Dr. Lapointe to finish his ritual, because as much as we wanted to rush into health club, we knew that rushing in blind was useless. Whoreson bastards inside, whoever they were, knew we were there. We needed to know what they were and what they wanted.

“In light of single candle and flickering neon, every shadow looks like monster. Enochian is made-up language, fraudulent creation of forger and conman. It has no connection to angels or demons, it just happens to be a very effective ceremonial language for Hermetic magic. But chanted in low voice next to you while you are straining every fiber in body to sense rapacious foes you imagine all around you, any language can sound demonic.

“In voice not like his own, Dr. Lapointe called upon the Metatron, Raziel, Jophiel, Zaphkiel, Phanuel, Gabriel and Uriel. When he ended his chant, he closed his eyes, sat in silent contemplation. My friend Alfred Lapointe is born in the Congo. His eyes are as brown as his skin. Yet when he opened them again, they were blue. Bright blue and glowing. He spoke and in voice of Izzy Landry, he told us: ‘We yet live. Enter and slay none unless attacked. Trust no one, expect treachery, but do not incite violence. Make your way to the baths in the basement, on the east of the house. We are – ‘”

“Then voice stopped and my friend Lapointe had his own brown eyes again. If he were different sort of man, he would have sworn like sailor. Since he isn’t, he sighed. ‘Something stopped it. Or I just couldn’t hold it any longer.’
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