Eclectic Voices

Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More

A Family Affair

stockvault-ghost-sketch110483Part of the Eclectic Voices Halloween Edition
by Ken Patton

As the fire roared deep, warm and bright, Benedict sits as close as he can stand it, marveling at how warm his toes are in their slippers. Hearing a contented sigh, he looks down at the cooing toddler snuggled warmly in his arms, fast asleep. Noticing a flicker at his ear, he brushes away an insistent fly that keeps buzzing around his head. Waving his hand a couple of times, the fly loses interest, and flies away. Looking around the room, he notices that one of the windows is open. Looking at it for a moment, it slowly closes shut. Hearing a creak from the other direction, Benedict looks over just in time to see his father head towards his bedroom. Hearing his father’s door close, Benedict turns his attention once again to his slumbering daughter, though the allure of the crackling fire draws him too, deeper and deeper into slumber.

“How’s my favorite brother on this fine Halloween night?” Startled out of his slumber, Benedict looks up to see a familiar head pop into view in the door. A huge smile forms on his face as the man bounds into the room towards him. Realizing that his daughter is still asleep, Benedict quickly presses a finger to his lips, shushing his brother. “Ah, yes… how is the birthday girl?” his brother replies.

“Sleeping, as you can see. So glad that you…”

“Tis time – tis time!” Both brothers turn towards the door, surprised, as another man bounds into the room. Tripping over a bearskin rug on the floor, he catches his balance before falling to the floor. Grabbing the playpen from the corner of the room, he wheels it towards the two brothers, stopping just short of colliding with them. Amidst protests, he gently takes the toddler from Benedict’s arms, he kisses her softly on the forehead before placing her into the playpen. As she awakens, she starts to cry fitfully.

“Cynric! Look what you’ve done!”

“Now, now brother dear… I’ve got this…” Turning his attention to the fussing toddler, he kneels down beside her. “Fuss no more, cry no more – a simple request from one you adore.” Immediately the little girl settles down, and sitting crosslegged on the floor of her playpen, she smiles happily at the man kneeling before her.

“Well, you’re sure assuming a lot there, aren’t you?” remarks Benedict.

“No… not really – the spell worked, didn’t it?” Cynric replies.

“Can’t argue with that,” remarks the other brother. Cynric and Benedict stare at each other for a long moment, then embrace as the other brother looks on.

Pulling away, Benedict looks first at one brother, then the other. “I can’t believe that we’re all in the same room, much less the same city. Aldrich, did you know he was coming?”

Aldrich smiles. “I had hoped he would, but I wasn’t sure…”

Cynric laughs, as he claps Aldrich on his back. “Of course I’m going to be here – it’s a big night for Demaris… and it’s not often that I get to hang out with my brothers on our birthday… which reminds me… ‘tis time – ‘tis time!” Cynric dances around as Benedict groans.

“Oh, god, no – really? We haven’t done that since we were kids!”

“Correction – we’ve done it every year since we learned it, and we haven’t done it since the last time we were all together on our birthday. And it’s her birthday too, ironically – so why not here, and now? Come on, come on… ‘TIS TIME!” Cynric backs away, and in a low crouch, starts moving around the playpen, as a fascinated Damaris watches intently. Cynric throws up his arms, and with an exaggerated cackle, he begins. “Round about the cauldron go; in the poison’d entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone days and nights has thirty-one swelter’d venom sleeping got, boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.”

Rushing forth and laughing, Aldrich joins his brother and together they circle around the playpen as Aldrich joins in. “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake; eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing, for a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell broth boil and bubble.”

Breaking down, Benedict joins his brothers, and they lock arms together as they continue to circle around the playpen, thoroughly amusing the little girl within. “Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, witches’ mummy, maw and gulf. Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark, root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark, liver of blaspheming Jew, gall of goat, and slips of yew, sliver’d n the moon’s eclipse, nose of turk and tartar’s lips, finger of birth-strangled babe ditch-deliver’d by a drab, make the gruel thick and slab. Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron, for the ingredients of our cauldron. Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon’s blood, then the charm is firm and good. By the pricking of our thumbs, something wicked this way comes!” As they finish they all fall to the ground laughing, while Demaris dances about gleefully in her playpen.

“Did you guys ever wonder why that spell doesn’t work when we do it? We’re all powerful you know!” Aldrich asks, as he plays with Demaris through the playpen.

“Naahhh… that never really crossed my mind. If we were going to execute it as a proper incantation, then we would take turns reciting the verses, and plus – there’s no cauldron, and no ingredients to throw in it, therefore no real weaving of the spell!” says Cynric, as he tries to divert Demaris’ attention away from Aldrich.

“I should go get her bottle,” says Benedict as he starts to get up off of the floor.

“Hey, it’s ok – I’ll get it!” says Aldrich. Before Benedict has a chance to remark, Aldrich raises his right hand, and a bottle of formula appears in his hand. “Oh, oops… it’s cold – here you go!”

Throwing the bottle to Benedict, he catches it, and then closing his eyes for a moment, he concentrates. After a moment or so he opens his eyes, and tests the bottle of formula on the inside of his wrist.  “Perfect!” Benedict hands the bottle to Demaris, who takes it gladly, and starts slurping mightily.

Benedict sits back down on the floor as he surveys his brothers. “Really you guys – thank you for coming. I know it’s an old and antiquated tradition, but I really do feel better performing the Covington blessing for Demaris. Part of me still thinks the whole prophecy thing is a bunch of bull, but it is kinda strange that she is the only girl to have been born in our family, we do have powers, and if things are true…”

“Yes, yes – then she’ll be the most powerful one to have come from our family line,” says Cynric.

“I do find it fascinating – we can trace our gifts back through many generations to a woman, but no females since – not until now, centuries later,” says Aldrich.

“We can’t see the future – well, we can, but since it’s not the primary power for any of us, we’ll have a hard time seeing exactly what is in store for her. Better be safe than sorry.” Cynric looks at the little girl, happily drinking from her bottle. “You know, we could just weave a little spell for her ourselves, a little ‘extra’ protection, so to speak. After all, the prophesy also stated that there would be three brothers born on the same day that would hold unforetold power… and we were also born on All Hallow’s Eve to boot; that should make us extra powerful. You know, we’ve never really tested it…” but Aldrich cuts Cynric off.

“Oh, no – are you forgetting our 13th birthday party? Are you forgetting what happened to that clown?”

“An accident I tell you… an accident! And that didn’t prove anything!” laughs Cynric. “Ah, come on… humor me – let’s give this a shot! Brother’s bond!”

Aldrich and Benedict look at each other, resigned. “Brother’s bond.” Reluctantly, they start to get up off of the floor.

“No, no – kneel, right here, in front of the playpen!” Aldrich and Benedict comply. “Now, let’s lock arms together – like so…” Cynric places his arms out in front of him, each one reaching towards a different brother. Aldrich and Benedict follow suit. “Now, think of bad and scary things that we would want to protect Demaris from… are you thinking?” Aldrich and Benedict nod. “Think of our family line… our ancestors, our heritage. Let’s try to draw from all of that as well. Ok? Ok – now we begin. Birth order, that should help strengthen the spell we’re weaving… so Aldrich; whenever you’re ready.”

Aldrich takes a deep breath, and with a bewildered look on his face, he glances over at Benedict for a moment before starting. “Ages ago, many miles away, a baby was born, with many powers, they say. She grew to be magical, wise and true, and from her our family’s prophecy grew…” Aldrich makes eye contact with Benedict and nods, and Benedict continues.

“One day a man, from this powerful heir, will bring forth three sons, all strong willed and fair, their powers astounding, whether alone, together or as a pair. As for one of the three, he’ll bring forth a she; the one more powerful than all that precede.” Benedict looks at and nods to Cynric, who continues.

“And so these three brothers, with destinies anew, shall rid the world of evil, and stay just and true. Demons shall perish, when their powers combine, with help handed down through the Covington line. So mythical or living, shadow or true, whether unknown or named; as we call forth, hear our warning, heed true…”

Cynric squeezes both of his brothers hands, and they all continue together as Demaris, finished with her bottle, drops it. Reaching up towards her father, she touches his face as they all speak… “Blessed with our powers, our family traits, as one we’ll protect you, from any dark, evil fate. With each of our powers, we’ll blend yours, entwine – and smite all with the power of the Covington line!” Suddenly small white lights appear out of thin air, and swirl around the four of them for a moment, before dissipating. With surprise, the brothers unlock hands, and fall back on the floor, bewildered.

“Well, that was different!” remarked Aldrich.

“Wow – you ever see anything like that before Cynric? You’re the spoken word guru… anything like that ever happen to you?” asks Benedict.

“Nope… can’t say that it has. That was bizarre, to say the least. But then again, we haven’t really tried doing much together… that was pretty cool. Maybe we should work spells together more often, don’t you think?”

Aldrich, lost in thought, pulls away from the brothers a bit. “I don’t know… maybe – maybe not. But that was weird. We definitely did do something. Maybe we should ask Dad about it…”

“Yeah – maybe we should… I’ll get him. Come forth…”

“Not a good idea – are you forgetting what happened the last time you pulled Dad to you from another room? It wasn’t pretty,” explains Benedict.

“Oh, yeah… good point,” says Cynric. “That wasn’t pretty at all.”

Aldrich starts to rise. “Well, this is important – we should…”

Benedict cuts him off, as he starts to get up himself. “Are you two forgetting what day it is? What time it is? He’s busy… let’s give him a moment. We can always ask Grandpa too – he’ll be here soon.” Realizing what Benedict was talking about, both Aldrich and Cynric nod in agreement before turning their attention to Demaris. Benedict watches them silently for a moment, and then quietly makes his way to the door, slipping out as his brothers put Demaris to sleep.

*                    *                    *

stockvault-pumpkin135643“Why is it so cold tonight? It’s horribly cold… a bone chilling cold that penetrates deep, so deep that I can feel the cold in my very core, something I didn’t think was possible. I do believe that it is colder tonight than it is in the deepest recesses of my heart… and that’s cold… I hate this day – a day that should bring joy to me four times over; but it is also a day of unfathomable loss. A day I fear I’ll never be able to reconcile, but I digress; so much to say, so little time to say it in, so let’s get to it.”

He takes a deep breath, and pauses for a long moment, contemplating. He takes a moment to warm his hands in the bright, flickering light of the candle on his desk before continuing. “The boys – the boys are strong, and beautiful, and everything that we would have wanted them to be, and more. They are managing better than I could ever have hoped for, though not in a way that I would support or endorse… but that is another story, for another time.” His eyes suddenly moist, he takes a moment to wipe them dry with the back of his sleeve before continuing once again. But just know that I miss you with all of my heart, and that I cannot wait until the day comes that I can hold you in my arms once again… I love you Maris, forever and always.”

Putting his pen down, he folds the letter in half, then in half again. Holding it in his hands, he rests his forehead against a corner of it for a brief moment, but looking at the clock on his desk, he notices the time, and kissing the paper quickly, he tips the letter into the flame of the candle. The fire catches hold of the letter, its tendrils licking and meandering their way along the creases and folds of the paper in his hand. At the very last moment, just when the flames look as though they were going to burn his fingers, the letter explodes in a soft puff of white smoke. The smoke seems to ebb and flow, taking shape as it starts to dissipate… one moment the smoke looks as though it is going to disappear into thin air, but the next moment the smoke is taking shape, swirling, coalescing… growing, as the room grows brighter and brighter. The shape the smoke takes on becomes decidedly more solid… decidedly feminine. Looking up, a tear stained smile starts to grow on his face as he watches the smoke evolve into a transparent, yet fully distinct woman wearing a white robe. As she smiles, the room seems to grow even brighter, warmer.

“Zachariah Covington, as I live and breathe – has it really been a year? Seems like it was just yesterday when I gazed upon that handsome face of yours!”

The man smiles as he gazes up at the vision before him… “Maris… you look as beautiful as the day I married you. White suits you, you know…” Rushing forth, she caresses his face as his eyes close, savoring the moment, though he cannot feel her touch. “With all of the powers at my disposal, with all of the vaunted power that this family possesses, why is it that I can only see you on All Hallow’s Eve?”

Maris chuckles as she swirls around him playfully. “You know the answer as well as I do – this is the one night of the year when the veil between worlds is at its weakest… it is not the only time I hear your call, or feel your pull – but it is the only time I can answer you. But you know this – I know this, so why waste time on it… come, tell me news of yourself, and the boys… and of our little joy; how is she? Have you…”

Rushing into the room, Benedict stops short, catching himself mid-sentence. “Father, I… oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. Hey Mom – looking good!”

“Benedict!” they both yell at once.

“Son – you couldn’t give me just one moment alone with your Mother?”

“Sorry Father…” explains Benedict. “I’m just a bit impatient – and worried… and a little scared. Demaris is a year old today. She needs protection. Cynric had this great idea, and we…” Zachariah interrupts.

“Your brother is here?”

“Yes Dad – they both are; to take part in the Covington blessing, but…”

Maris floats over towards her son, swirling around him for a moment before speaking. “Hello my love… You’re right to worry – she needs protection, and she’ll have it – and she’ll be doubly blessed, for not only are we blessing her on All Hallow’s Eve, but remember, she was born on this very day, which is a blessing unto itself.” Impatient to move things along, Benedict pauses for just the briefest of moments before continuing.

“Well, Cynric had this idea, and so we crafted and tried our own spell, and something happened that I hadn’t seen happen before…” Benedict’s voice trails off as he sees that his father is deep in thought.

“The blessing will indeed be stronger with all three of you here, executing it; but I am concerned that the three of you tried something on your own… you have no idea how powerful all of you are together, when you combine your powers – there is a reason why I discouraged the three of you from practicing magic together. The three of you – well, you’re a coven onto yourselves; a coven of three, all related, all born on the same day – triplets… there is no greater power.”

“Well, not until now. Not according to Grandpa… and the prophecy. Wouldn’t the most powerful being be my daughter? The first…” Suddenly a blinding flash of light fills the room, silencing both men for a moment. Dazed and confused, both men look up to see Maris smiling down upon them.

“Can we argue later? I only get to see my family once a year, and I for one would love to see my other sons, and my granddaughter… so shall we?

Grabbing the candle while carefully shielding the flame, Zachariah makes his way out of his bedroom, with Maris and Benedict following close behind. As they make their way downstairs, the sounds of an argument become clearer and clearer… Zachariah and Maris make their way towards the bickering brothers, as Benedict heads on down the hallway.

“Why do we have to do this anyway? You saw what happened when we did that spell – I’ll bet she’s protected even more than she would be with the damn Covington blessing! Either that, or the whole thing backfired cause she’s not the one the prophesy talks about. I’m not even sure this prophecy applies to her – after all, she isn’t YOUR son, she’s his son, and the last time I checked, you were the first born; not him, nor me. I mean, really – how can you forget what order we were born in… I mean, come on – just look at our names!” Cynric yells.

“Well, that’s ridiculous! Nothing says concretely that the child has to be born to the firstborn! The prophecy just mentions the Covington Trio, and we’re the first generation in the history of our family to have three sons – and triplets to boot! Everyone else, one boy, or two boys… no girls that live past childbirth… things are kinda pointing towards us!”
“That is a bunch of crap! Your primary power is stronger than the rest of ours – it goes to figure that a child born of you would be stronger than…” Maris flashes bright once again, immediately quieting the two men arguing in the living room. Turning towards the light, they both smile, one reluctantly, one eagerly, as their attention immediately shifts towards their Mother. Swirling around her other two sons, Maris takes her time, as the two men glow and bask in her presence.

As Maris pulls away, she looks the two men over… “Aldrich… Cynric… how wonderful it is to see you. Especially you Cynric – it’s been a couple of years.” Cynric bows his head in silence.

“I know Mom – I’m sorry. I just couldn’t be here…” Maris cuts him off.

“No excuse Cynric – you have the power to summon me just like they do; you all have the power to do that.”

“Yes, but when I do it, you’re never as strong, or bright as you are right now… you’re, oh, I don’t know – more… tangible than when I do it, plus we can only summon you once a year – it seems like Father should get that time with you… not us.” Maris smiles as she comforts her youngest son.

“That’s ridiculous – you’re just as entitled to see me as he is… of course, if you were here when he summoned me, that would make everything easier all around, wouldn’t it?  Four visits, for the price of one summons – makes sense to me! Remember my dear — your primary power is different than your father’s… yes, you all share all of your other powers, vast and varied though they are, each of you is blessed with one singular power that you excel at over all others. And it’s never the same from person to person, from generation to generation – I find great beauty, and comfort in that. My family was magical, yes – but not on the same scale as the Covington line. And your father, well – he gets an added boost from the fact that he loves me as much as he does; so having the Gift of the Written Word really packs a bunch when you write a love letter to your dead wife, and you use that to summon her forth across the great beyond! Really sweetie, I love you, but there’s just no way you could compete with that! Though I do have to commend you – you could have shut down your brother back there with just one word… your self control has gotten quite impressive!” Swirling around his head in a way that would tousle his hair if she were corporeal, she turns to Aldrich. “And how is my eldest boy? Fairing well, I hope?”

“Yes, Mother – I am; but really… didn’t Benedict tell you two about what happened? Aren’t you worried? I know I am.”

Benedict walks back into the room, carrying a small child wrapped in a blanket in his arms. Maris floats over towards them, looking down at the sleeping baby in his arms. “Oh, she is a beauty – I just knew she would be. She looks just like her Mother… oh, you must miss her, my dear.” Benedict nods softly, silently as Maris continues. “I know its all part of the way of the world when you love a Covington man, but I’ll never understand why we have to die, so that your line can live… to think of this poor child…” Maris stops herself, and is quiet for a long moment. “I’m sorry everyone – I reconciled myself to this quite a while ago, truly, but I look at this dear little girl, and I wonder how she’ll fair without her Mother.” Benedict looks around the room before answering his Mother.

“Dad stepped up right away, and Aldrich was just as quick to rally to my aid. Together we’ve been handling things just fine. I moved back here, as did Aldrich, and together we’re raising her, one day at a time.” Aldrich moves toward his Mother , reaching up in a feeble attempt to touch the ghost.

“I would have loved it if we had you with us, in the flesh, each and every day of our lives growing up, and it saddens me that my niece will grow up the same way Mom… truly, it sucks.”

All heads turn towards Cynric, who sits there and fumes when he realizes that everyone is staring at him, waiting for an explanation of some sort. “He has Dad’s help, and his big brothers help to boot; he doesn’t need me here. They are raising a little girl – it’s not rocket science!”

Suddenly the sound of a huge crash is heard from outside, and everyone rushes to the nearest window to investigate. “What was that?” yells Maris.

“I don’t know, but I hope Grandpa is ok…” yells Benedict.

“Grandpa?” Maris and Zachariah look at each other for a moment, and then their heads swing in unison to stare at Benedict, who waves them off with a brief gesture.

“Yes, I invited Grandpa. He is a Covington, after all. He should be a part of the blessing, and frankly, we could use his help and his knowledge right now!”

As they all look outside, it is as though all of hell has broken loose. Spirits are soaring through the sky, zipping around the house , racing back and forth, swooping towards the ground one moment, and towards the house the next moment. Some seem to try to penetrate the walls and the windows of the house, to no avail. The trees appear to have come alive, branches reaching and stretching – some seeming to flail about as the trees seem to struggle to move closer to the house. They don’t seem to be able to rip their roots out of the ground, but it isn’t for lack of trying. After a moment they realize that there is a man struggling against one of the trees outside; he is seemingly trapped in its branches but then suddenly he transforms – one moment he is a man, the next moment he is a snake, slithering around a rather thick branch of the tree as he makes his way away from the branches that were subduing him. As the branches press forth once again, and it seems as though the snake would be trapped, the snake transforms in the blink of an eye to a bird, who darts away from the tree, and towards the house. Seeing everyone gathered at a window, the bird flies over, and throws itself against the window. It takes a moment for the situation to register before Zachariah rushes forth to open the window, pushing his sons to one side. The bird flies into the house, and directly upstairs, quick as lightening. Shutting the window after the bird, Zachariah stares out of the window in disbelief.

“I’ve seen a lot of things in my time, but I have to admit, that has me thrown for a loop… I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen anything like this.” Maris circles, nodding her head in agreement.

“Usually you’ll see spirits, and if you’re in the right part of the world, far in the recesses of the deepest jungle and you’re magical, you can still come across ancient, mythical trees like that, but never in the same place at the same time… never all at the same time… I wonder if…”

“If what? If the world is ending? Well, poppycock!” An older man comes bounding down the stairs, dressed in nothing but a bathrobe.

“Grandpa! You made it – thank you for coming!” Benedict rushes over to hug the man, as Aldrich and Cynric fall in line to do the same. Zachariah keeps his distance, surveying the situation carefully. After hugging his grandsons, the man walks over towards his son, arms open wide.

“So – you got a hug for your old man?” Reluctantly Zachariah hugs the man, as Maris swirls around him.

“Josiah… it’s nice to see you again. Impressive display out there – your primary serves you well.” Josiah smiles as he takes his great-granddaughter into his arms.

“Yes, indeed it does, but that’s not the reason we’re gathered here tonight. I knew that trouble would come out of the woodworks in pursuit of my great granddaughter, but not on this scale – this is ridiculous! I’ve not seen anything of this magnitude since… well, never. And I don’t remember my father, or my grandfather for that matter, telling me about anything like this. Usually supernatural attacks are rare, and shielded, and singular. The world is kind of a crazy place out there right now.” Josiah takes a long look at Benedict, then Aldrich, then Cynric, as he falls silent.

Zachariah also locks eyes with Benedict, who nervously returns his gaze. Josiah, catching the exchange, grabs his son by the arm. “Is there something you’re not telling me?” Zachariah asks his father, shaking his head as he pulls his arm away from him.

“Watch the way you talk to your father, young man.” Zachariah fumes, as he turns his attention away from his father, and onto his son.

“I see… well… Benedict?” As Benedict starts to speak, he suddenly loses his footing, and falls, as the carpet he was standing on rises from the ground. Before he can move, the carpet moves towards Benedict, and wraps itself around him, trapping him in a tube. Stunned, everyone stares for a moment, not sure what to do, or how to proceed. Maris, surveying the scene, frustrated because she can’t really do anything, yells at her eldest son.

“Aldrich – do something!” Aldrich snaps out of it, and rushing in front of his family, he gestures for them to move towards one corner of the room. Once they are there, he closes his eyes for the briefest of moments, and a shimmering wall of light forms in front of them. As the forcefield coalesces, Cynric turns his attention to Benedict and the carpet.

With his right hand, index finger pointed skyward, Cynric swirls the air with his finger while shouting, “Unravel!” The carpet relaxes its hold on Benedict, and slips towards the ground. Once he is clear, Benedict stares at the carpet for a moment, causing it to erupt in flames. While holding the shimmering wall in place, Aldrich points towards the nearest wall. Drawing a circle in the air, he creates a hole in the wall. Cynric, focusing his attention on the hole, speaks clearly and firmly.

“Portal, activate, wormhole inspire – transport this fucking carpet of fire.” Instantly the hole in the wall starts to glow, as a sucking force pulls the carpet into the maw that Aldrich created. As the house starts to shake, another loud crash is heard, coming from outside.

Aldrich closes the hole in the wall with a wave of his hand as Benedict rushes towards the window. As he peers outside, he sees even more of the flying spirits from before. He watches the trees as they grow more and more animated, as they try to pull themselves free from the ground holding them. Taking a deep breath, Benedict focuses his attention first on the spirits, as he creates a tornado. As the tornado grows, its gathers more and more force, pulling the spirits into it, trapping them. Leaving them there for a moment, he glances over at the trees. Almost immediately a light frost forms on the trees, quickly turning into ice, freezing the trees in place. Leaving the trees frozen, Benedict creates a gale force wind, which propels the spirit laden tornado up and away, just as Aldrich reaches the window.

Seeing that the coast is reasonably clear for now, Aldrich lowers the shield, as Benedict rushes over to Josiah to make sure that his daughter is ok. But as he reaches for his daughter, the window behind him shatters, and the tieback cords for the drapes suddenly become animated, reaching up and wrapping themselves around Josiah as a lone spirit rushes into the house. As Benedict catches Demaris, she is suddenly snatched from his arms by the spirit, who hovers in the air, seemingly taunting everyone, while holding Demaris. Josiah transforms into a snake once again, slithering out of the tight tieback cords as Cynric shouts his nieces’ name, while stretching his arms out before him. Demaris is pulled through the air, away from the spirit, and into her uncle’s waiting arms as Aldrich reaches towards it with his left hand, making a strong, tight fist in midair. That motion causes the spirit to be seemingly crushed, dissipating into a thin wisp of smoke.

“Regroup!” shouts Zachariah. Upon hearing that word, muscle memory kicks into place for everyone, thanks to years of drilling and practice within this family. Aldrich creates a bubble of static air around the candle on the table, which Zachariah grabs.

Benedict grabs Demaris as Cynric shouts, “Covington’s one, Covington’s all – living room to altar room, transport us, go!”

In a shimmer of light that almost seems as though a mirror folded onto itself, all of the Covingtons find that they are in the living room one moment, and in their shielded altar room the next moment. Located deep in the basement of the house, this room is protected by layers upon layers of protective and shielded magic that was woven into the construction of the house by the Covington who built it, Elkanah, Josiah’s grandfather. The room is shielded from all outside magical influences, while allowing magic to flow out from the room if necessary. A magical safe room, if you will.

Once inside the room, the family takes a moment to gather their wits about them as Zachariah walks over towards the lectern on one side of the room. Grabbing a large, leather bound book that is resting on it, he concentrates for a moment, then as he pulls away from the book, he places both of his hands in the air above the book, palms down. The cover opens, and the pages of the book flutter and turn without assistance, until they stop. Zachariah starts reading, mumbling to himself. Without looking up, his deep, powerful voice resonates. “So Benedict – there was something you wanted to tell me?”

“Yes, umm, well…” Benedict starts, but the tone of his father’s voice scares him to the point where he is nearly speechless.

“Really Zachariah, if I told you once, I’ve told you a hundred thousand times… that is not the way to get information from someone. If you’d just calm down for a moment, then the boys could tell you all about the spell they cast, and then I could tell you why it backfired.” Everyone in the room falls silent, as they all stare at Josiah. Josiah, meanwhile walks over towards an overstuffed chair. Grabbing Demaris, he plops himself down in the chair, making himself comfortable. Demaris, agitated and scared from everything that has just transpired, starts to fuss and cry again. Josiah looks over at Cynric, and smiles. “Would you mind working your magic on her again?” Nodding in silence, Cynric repeats what he said to her earlier in the evening in the nursery, and Demaris settles right down. After a moment, Cynric snaps out of his apparent daze, as he turns towards his Grandfather.

“How did you know what I did?” Josiah smiles.

“Because I was there. You tripped over me when you entered the room!” Aldrich smiles as realization dawns…

“The fly – of course!” Zachariah slams the book shut as he watches the exchange amongst his family.

“Would someone mind telling me what is going on?” Maris swirls in and around her husband in an effort to calm him down as he glares at his family, his father in particular.

In silence, and in his own world, Josiah mumbles something under his breath, and pulling a pacifier seemingly out of mid-air, he hands it to his great-granddaughter. As he looks up, he realizes that all eyes are on him. Smiling, he waves at everyone. “Settle down everyone, take a seat. I’ve had time to think about all of this, and I do believe it’s fixable. We’re safe in here, thanks to my Grandpa, so settle back and I’ll tell you a little story. It’ll be quicker that way. When I got here tonight for the blessing, I decided that I wanted to surprise everyone, so I transmuted into a fly, and flew into the nursery window. I noticed that Benedict was starting to nod off, so I figured I’d tease him a bit, cause, well… it’s what I do! I buzzed around him for a bit, and after he swatted at me a couple of times I flew off to a dark, quiet corner to wait. I didn’t have to wait long, cause he fell asleep pretty damn quickly after that. I took that time to change over into a bearskin rug, placing myself right by the front door. Pretty obvious, or so I thought. But Aldrich didn’t even notice me when he came in, and Cynric, dear blessed Cynric tripped over me when he arrived! You would think that they would notice a rug in a room that hadn’t been there before – hell, I trained them to notice things like that, but nope… nada… nothing… zilch. Not good boys… not good. I was going to pop up and surprise them – after all, they hate it when I change back in front of them… something about all my dangly, wobbly bits being exposed or something. Anyway, I was about to change back, but I didn’t, because Cynric was eager to have a little fun with Shakespeare… I always loved it when they would do that; I was the one who taught them that scene, after all. It was like the good old days watching them have fun with that incantation, as they entertained the wee one here. But after that, Cynric had this idea – in my mind a great idea, so I know you won’t like it Zachariah. Cynric wanted to try and weave a protection around Demaris using the power within him and his brothers. Something I always thought they should practice more, but you forbade. Well, they crafted a spell – a beautiful one at that. A spell that will work wonderfully… once we remove the one itty bitty little error that they weaved into it.”

Josiah nuzzled Demaris, seemingly lost in his own world with her. Zachariah cleared his throat a couple of times, increasing the volume and insistence each time, until Josiah finally answered. “Yes?”

“Well – what do they need to fix?”

“Oh… that. Well, they built a great foundation, referenced themselves, referenced the family line, and they referenced the prophecy… all correct, all in the proper order, all utilizing the proper syntax. But they also managed to CALL FORTH the evil, instead of referencing it. And the spell got an unintentional power boost, for when Demaris touched Benedict’s face during the conclusion of the spell, there were four in the circle, not three. Four of the most powerful beings ever to walk the face of this planet. So that spell they created not only packs quite a punch, but it also lit up a huge supernatural beacon on the house here. So all we need to do is cancel the spell, and then rebuild it, minus the boost, and those four little words – ‘as we call forth’. The spell is a beautiful piece of work, and in my opinion, it is stronger than the original, usual family blessing. As long as we subtract four little words, and our little angel here.”

Fuming, Zachariah erupts. “You were there… you knew what was happening, and you let it happen? Why Father… tell me, why?” Josiah leveled an even, calculated gaze at his son.

“Because they were attempting to work a spell together – all three of them; something that they hadn’t really tried before, and I wanted to see what would happen. I figured if something went wrong, then we had all five of us here to fix it. And we do, and it did, so we will. The minute the boys went downstairs, I changed myself back, opened the window, let myself out and waited for whatever was bound to come. And I was there to welcome it, wasn’t I?” Zachariah was silent as he glared at his father. Slowing getting up from his chair, Benedict crosses over towards his grandfather.

“So, how do we do this… reversal?” Josiah looked over at his son.

“Well boy… You’re standing there at the book – I know it’s in there; my grandfather needed to do a reversal once, on a smaller scale, but the principles should remain the same. Do you want to look it up, or would you like me to?” After a moment of silence from Zachariah, Josiah starts to get up, but Zachariah motions him to stay seated.

“No – I’ll do it. It’ll be much faster for me with my primary.” Standing over the book as he did before, Zachariah closes his eyes for a moment, hands held over the book. Once again the pages start to do their dance, as the book opens to the page that he needs. Reading for a moment, Zachariah nods, understanding. “Well, it’ll take all 6 of us; since Demaris was the focus of the spell, AND a participant, she needs to be at the core of the channeling circle. We’ll need a circle within a circle to reverse the magic – the boys will form the innermost circle, and you and I will form the outer circle. Maris, as a spirit, you can serve as our anchor. Once we’re done, we can fall away, and the boys can do their thing. Everyone got it?”

Understanding what needed to be done, everyone nodded their ascent as they fell into place. Holding Demaris before him, Josiah cradles her in his outstretched hands as he looks at each of the boys. “You know what to do – let’s take care of her.” Like before, with the candle, Aldrich creates a bubble of static air around Demaris, as Benedict creates a small flurry of air, causing Demaris to float in the center of the room. Locking hands over forearms like before, the brothers form a circle.

“Aldrich, you need to be a due north…” Hearing their father, the brothers adjust to comply with his instructions. “Maris, position yourself directly over Demaris, and Dad, you and I will be at east and west. We will all need to be pretty tight in to make this work.” The brothers once again adjust their positioning as Josiah comes forward.

“Nope – you’re forgetting my primary, Son.” Josiah takes his position at west, while Zachariah takes east. As they get into position, Josiah’s arms stretch until they meet up with, and clasp his son’s. Zachariah nods in understanding.

“Ok – here goes nothing!” Zachariah takes a deep breath, and begins. “Nexus to Manor, Earth to Sky; Come fire, come water, call spirit on high. As Covington’s live, so evil shall perish; within these four walls, protect all that we cherish!” A clap, as loud and impactful as a sonic boom, shakes the house as the room goes dark. After a moment, the lights return. The boys step away from Demaris and the dual circles. Locking arms like before, they repeat the spell they created in the nursery, leaving out ‘as we call forth’, and making sure that Demaris was not in contact with any of them. As they finish the spell, there is a slight buzz and warmth in the air, but no lights like before.

“Ahh… now, that’s what I’m used to!” exclaims Cynric.

Aldrich and Cynric embrace, as Benedict plucks Demaris from her protective bubble. Cynric turns to the rest of his family as he finishes hugging his brother.

“I’m gonna go upstairs and check to make sure everything is ok.” As Cynric heads towards the stairs, Zachariah stops him.
“We’ll all go.” Smiling, Cynric clasps his father on the shoulder with one hand, and Aldrich with the other as he raises his voice to the sky.

“Covington’s one, Covington’s all, from altar room to living room, transport us, go!”

As they arrive in the living room, they all see that the room is an utter mess. Broken glass everywhere, and items not where they belong; some of them are in strange, curious positions, as it they were animated one moment, and still the next.

Surveying the room, Cynric lifts his arms, closing his eyes to concentrate for a moment as he remembers a specific point in time, in the recent past. “Room, reset.” In a flurry of moment, everything in the room returns to where it was before, and the state that it was in before. Out of thin air a newly formed rug appears, identical to the one that was in the room before. The rug falls perfectly into place.

As Cynric restores the room, Benedict hands Demaris to her Uncle Aldrich. Making his way to the window, Benedict focuses on the trees, putting a thaw into motion. Pleased with his work, Benedict closes the curtains and steps away from the window as Cynric puts the finishing touches on the living room. Looking at each other, the brothers embrace. Releasing the embrace, there is an awkward silence as the three brothers look at each other – one holding a baby; the other two standing, facing one another. Benedict smiles slowly, as he playfully shoves his brother’s shoulder. Cynric, also smiling, returns the shove.
Cynric starts to speak a couple of times before actually speaking. “If you really need me – I’ll move back. I love her, you know. I would help… I mean, I want to help, but I just don’t think you need me.” Benedict smiles, as he wraps his arm around his brother’s shoulders.

“Of course I need you; I always have, and always will – but more importantly, I want you here; but only if you really want to be here.” Benedict looks down at Demaris before looking at his brother again. “And she loves you too, you know.” The two brothers hug again, as they look over at Demaris, and at Aldrich, holding her. Motioning him over, Aldrich joins them, and the three brothers embrace, holding Demaris in the middle, between them. Maris floats overhead, smiling warmly at the beautiful family scene before her.

With a loud clearing of his throat, Zachariah calls everyone into the dining room. As they enter the room, they see Josiah placing a large birthday cake, with candles ablaze on the table, next to a bucket with champagne on ice as Zachariah places the Maris candle on the table alongside the cake. “Come, come, come now – If memory serves, we still have some birthdays to celebrate!” The brothers gather around the table, arm over shoulder, as Benedict holds his daughter close to his chest. The brothers beam as Zachariah, Josiah and Maris sing a rousing round of Happy Birthday to them.

Once the song is done, the boys bend forward, and taking a deep breath, together; as one they blow out the candles, blowing so hard that they also blow out Maris’ candle. In a flash, their Mother is gone. “I love you all…” could be heard from Maris on the wind as her apparition dissipates.

Exasparated, Zachariah shakes his head. “Boys, you extinguished your Mother again!”

The brothers, smiling but guilty, look up towards the sky, as Benedict blows her a kiss, Aldrich laughs, and Cynric dives into the cake, grabbing a handful. “Sorry Mom!”

The brothers laugh as they console their Father. Josiah chuckles to himself as he opens the champagne. Tipping the bottle to his lips, he takes a big, healthy glug of bubbly. Letting out a big burp, he too laughs as Zachariah sinks down on a dining room chair, rubbing his temples and shaking his head. Aldrich laughs has he hands his father another sheet of paper, a pen, and a box of matches.

Benedict places Demaris on the table, as he reaches for the cake spatula and a couple of saucers. Crawling across the table, Demaris plops herself down in front of the cake, and taking her from her Uncle Cynric, she begins grabbing at the cake with her chubby little fists, laughing merrily at all that was happening around her.

THE END.

____________________________________________

Born in Dayton, Ohio and raised in New York and California, Ken Patton has been passionate about words, theatre and music from an early age. Upon graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BFA in Theatre, Ken continued his career in the Entertainment by spending the next 3 years at Columbia Pictures Television participating in their now defunct on-site talent training program, learning the various aspects of Television production.  Ken has been known to serve as a Producer and Story Consultant for various independent features. Ken also works freelance as a Production Manager, Event Manager, and Consultant.  Currently, Ken is working on the book and lyrics for an original, contemporary musical Dirty Martini. Workshop performances for Dirty Martini are slated for later this year.

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3 comments on “A Family Affair

  1. jfolschinsky
    October 21, 2013

    Reblogged this on Amused to Death and commented:
    Cool short(ish) story by my friend Ken Patton. That he wrote for Eclectic Voices.

  2. b00kreader
    October 21, 2013

    Great story from start to finish. It makes me want to know more about the family.

  3. Taylor
    October 30, 2013

    When I finally found the time to read this “short(ish)” story, I had a great time. Made me think of Harry Potter and books by Debora Geary who writes and has written a few series of “witch family” stories that I really enjoy. Could there be more stories to come about this fun family?

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