Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chapter 4 of Symbol of the Dead

SS Note: Hey readers, here's another chapter of my upcoming ebook Symbol of the Dead. I'm thinking of releasing at least five free chapters of the book. Also, when it comes out (I'm aiming for a near-Halloween release), I will have the ebook available free of charge for a full 24 hours. So say, if I release it at 11:24 p.m., it will be available until that awkward time.

I'm thinking with certain chapters, I may have to split them up into parts, rather than posting the whole thing. The other chapters were relatively small, but the upcoming ones are getting pretty big in page numbers.

And please, please, please, comment on what you thought. Even if you didn't like it, I'd still like to know what you liked and didn't like (as long as you're not a troll about it.) I realize that some people are mainly into serious, horror paranormal books, but the Afterlife Chronicles is more of a fantasy/comedy/adventure. It clearly stays true to the nature of Scared Sheetless, so if you enjoy what you see on this site, I'm sure you will enjoy the book. But please take a moment and tell me what you thought, whether its on here or on my Facebook.

For those who haven't read the previous chapters:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


Chapter 4
The Relick's

            "You've been kicked out of the Afterlife."
            "If you wish to stay you will have to say 'sorry'."
            "NEVER!" Rigor yells in triumphant as he puts out his arms and a blue burst of energy comes out of his hands, hits a cabinet and destroys it. He looks at it for a second and smirks.
            "I still got it."  
            He then looks and sees the letter that Ole gave him earlier, crumpled up on a table with the words, Eviction on it. He shakes his head.
            "Evicted from the Afterlife? Where are they going to send me? New Jersey? Better get the spray-on tan, I'm looking a little pale." 
            He has a change of heart.
            "Wait, wait, wait. I don't need to follow orders from a bunch of politicians. I'm above the law. I can choose anywhere I want to go. But where can I go? Wait! I got it! I know someone who will take me in." Rigor pauses. “On second thought, nobody will take me in. I’ll just break in." 
            Rigor begins looking through the random papers around his house, then stands up, rapidly raises his arms and everything in the room rises to the ceiling. He looks up, searching, lets out an “ah!” and flies up, grabbing what looks like a yearbook.
            "I had a ton of friends at Poltergeist Academy who'd love to catch up on some old times with their favorite ghost. Hopefully some chicks." He looks through the Ladies Dorm section and skims through the name-captioned headshots. "Nope. Restraining order. She cursed me a few times. Nun. Ectoplasm change ... gross. Damn, no likely ladies."
            He turns to the “High Honors” pages and continues to skim. Among the collection of dorky characters, prominent figures and downright foully snooty ghosts, there is one skeleton. Just one. His name on the golden bar is "Jack Relick."
Rigor smiles, snaps his fingers, and vanishes.

Jack Relick

            In another dimension, far away from the reaches of Earth or The Afterlife, is a land called Hollow Hill. A place where creatures of the darkest corners lurk, but live in peace and harmony. Where vampires and werewolves share a meal rather than trying to bite each other’s necks off. Where zombies and ghosts share cemeteries rather than having territory wars. The picture is quite clear, when you’re here, you are no longer in Kansas, Pittsburgh, or Timbuktu. Or the Afterlife.
            Inside Hollow Hill is where the King of this land lives. Jack Relick. He is a great king; everyone loves him. All women adore him, especially his loving soul mate and his daughter. All the men, young and elder alike, want to be in his presence. More notably, he is also known as a weird king, because he spends a lot of his time in a lab doing strange experiments. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill king.
            Jack holds a lab glass up to his face. And what a face. Before Jack died, he was burned to the stake during the Salem Witch Trials. At the moment he died, some of his skin still remained but where it was burnt off, bone was exposed. He only has one functioning eye and a fake eye is in the other socket. He thinks of himself as a human/skeleton hybrid because of his body features. 
During his spare time being a King to his adoring denizens, Jack is also a well-known scientist. He spends countless hours working on new experiments, new cure methods for his people’s ailments, and on this particular day he is working on making bugs talk. He has always been fascinated by the possibilities of what people could learn from animals and insects if only they could talk. The liquid he is looking at has a green tinge. He adds a blood-red fluid, and the resulting concoction turns entirely clear. He turns to his trusty ghost dog, Seven, who is lying on the floor next to him. 
            "Seven, I am close to making these bugs talk. Just think of what we can learn from them." His speech has a tang of Irish, but even more New England twang.
            One of the ugly bugs screeches as Seven looks up at Jack. In the next sound it makes there is a hint of a possible word.
            "Jack. Oh, Jack. Hey bonehead!" 
            Jack looks down at the bug on the table. He tilts his head back curiously. Sure, weird things do happen in Hollow Hill just like anywhere else and sometimes like nowhere else, but most bugs do not talk. Yet.
            "You can talk?"
            The bug suavely lifts his buggy eyebrows up and down and looks back at Jack.
            "Yeah. Of course I can talk."
            "My experiment worked then!" He puts up his fists in triumph.
            "No, it’s me!"
            Jack lowers his arms, the triumphant look on his slightly skeletal face melting away.
            "Wait a minute. That voice sounds familiar. Rigor? Oh no, I can’t let you in. I got a family now."
            Rigor sheds his bug form, and morphs into an equally tiny human version of himself.
            "Why not!? Is your wife hot? C’mon man, I need a place to crash … err, I mean stay,” he says, not wanting Jack to know he was kicked out of the Afterlife. If Jack knew, he probably wouldn’t let Rigor stay.
            But Jack is not stupid. "Did you get kicked out of the Afterlife … again?” he asks.
Rigor scratches the back of his head.
"Come on. Out with it." Jack says. 
            "Um, I came here for a visit! You know it’s been well over a hundred years since I last saw you."
            "You know, you could of wrote."
            "I'm a righty with two lefties." Rigor tries a lame excuse to explain why he hasn’t written to his best friend.
 Jack rolls his one eye and shakes his head.
"Jack, please. Just for a little while."
            "I would, but the thing is, Hollow Hill denizens hold a lot of things against The Afterlife and its inhabits. You would be viewed as a liability. I can't deal with that right now. We just had a locust invasion. They weren't as troublesome as you are though."
            "Really?" Rigor grins.
            "Figured you'd take that as a compliment. But no, you here? Bad idea.”
            "What do you mean? I’m practically a ghost legend!"
            "Regardless …”
            "A week?…Two weeks?…" Rigor's voice gives away his desperation.
Jack is almost tempted to reconsider, when Rigor goes on.
"… A month?"
            "A month!? You DID get kicked out of the Afterlife."
            "Alright, fine! I did get kicked out and this time they mean it, but it wasn‘t my fault!"
            Jack chuckles. "Yeah, Rigor, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that before."
            But Rigor is serious. "They want me to say the ‘s’ word, Jack."
            "Shower?" Rigor gives him a stern look. "Because, you know, in the years I’ve known you, you could use one."
            "You know better than that.”
            "Then what?"
            Rigor turns pale and moves closer to Jack, who lowers himself in front of Rigor.
            "They want me to say, so...suururrr..."
            "What? Tell me."
            "They want me to say...sarower."
            "You're not making much sense. Come to think of it, that's pretty much the norm for you."
            "Okay, fine. I'll spell it out. S.A.W.R.E!" He even spells it out with his arms like he's doing "YMCA". 
            Jack lips it out Rigor’s attempt at spelling the word. "Oh, you mean 'sorry!'"
            Rigor snaps his fingers. "Yes!"
            "Just go ahead and tell them then. It's not like you haven’t said it before without really meaning it."
            "Well, those times I was extremely wasted and you know what a poor sap I am when I drink."
            "Yeah, it's pretty pathetic.
            Rigor shoots an angry glare towards Jack, but his expression quickly shifts to pleading.
"’re still my best friend."
            Rigor's eyes then get all big and teary. "Please, Jack."
            "That is not going to work with me." Jack says, but Rigor's eyes get bigger and more teary.
            Jack lets out an aggravated sigh. "Alright, but you need to keep a low profile. AND you …"
            But Rigor hollers an excited "Woo-wooo!" and transforms into his normal height. He jumps down from the table and puts his arm around Jack's shoulder.
            "Thanks pal, if you kept on beating around the bush like that, I'd have to break your skull in."
            "You didn't let me finish: AND you need to obey the rules."
            Rigor looks at Jack smugly.
            "Jack, baby, I'm not a rules type of guy. You know that."
            Yes, yes, Jack does know.
            "Yes, but--and do NOT call me baby--if you are going to stay here then you are going to HAVE TO obey the rules. I've saved this town from a corrupt king and given them a King not many of them want to disembowel." 
            Rigor claps encouragingly. "Good deal. I mean, the whole not-many-people-want-to-disembowel-you sounds pretty boring, but hey, I'm proud of you." Rigor lights up a smoke. "First things first. Where's the ladies at?"
            "Jack!" A pleasant yell rises from downstairs.
            Rigor smiles. "Oh, I hear lady number one. She the royal skull cleaner?" His eyebrows go up and down.
            "She's my soul mate." 
            "Get off of it. That's just a dorky way of saying bed pal."
            "I believe I said, soul mate." 
            Rigor puts his arm around his shoulder. "Is this a happy relationship?" Jack gives him an angry look. "Because, you know, I can take her from you." 
            "Jack! What’s with all the rumbling going on up there?" Jack's soul mate yells again.
            "Be right down in a minute!" Jack calls down to her.
            "So, you going to introduce me to your woman?" Rigor smirks devilishly.
            "Yeah, I suppose I should. I still consider you my best friend. But no, I'm not going to."
            Rigor doesn't look pleased. "What's up with that?"
            "You’ve stolen a few of my girlfriends. I don't want the same thing to happen here." 
            "Not my fault. They loved me for my sexiness! I can’t help being a sexy beast!" He chuckles. "Nah, I’m just messing with you. I couldn’t help it if you weren’t that smooth with the ladies, Jack."
            Jack just shakes his head. "God, I hate you," he turns around and walks down the metal, spiral staircase.
            "Oh, you love me and you know it," Rigor laughs. 
            Jack walks down the steps with Rigor gliding a few short feet behind him. A pretty lady wearing a red and black dress is in the kitchen cleaning, with her back to the stairs. Jack motions for Rigor to stay where he is, behind the opening that leads into the kitchen. He rolls his eyes, and lights another cigarette with a flame flaring from the tip of his thumb. Jack goes to his soul mate and puts both arms on her shoulders.
            "Jack, what was that sound?" the woman says, turning around.
            Rigor sees that despite being dead, she is quite lovely. Decomposition has not touched her skin and her facial expressions are lively.
            "Katrina, you know how you were telling me I should get some new friends?"
            "Well, an old friend from my school days just showed up."
            She smiles, a sweet, gentle smile. "Really?"
            "That’s great! Where is he? I'd love to meet him." 
            "You'll be the only one." Jack laughs nervously. "That's for sure." He turns his head to Rigor's direction. "Rigor."
            "Rigor? That’s kind of a funny name." 
            "Yeah, his last name is Mortis."
            "Hmm, he must be an interesting type."
            Jack mutters, "That’s an understatement." He then calls again. "Rigor! Come in and meet Katrina." 
            Rigor glides through the entryway into the kitchen.
"How’s it…” his voice trails off. His vision fogs. Katrina is all he can see and his brain seems to be on hold.
She is smiling, but Jack watches Rigor suspiciously as Rigor starts to mumble things not even a drunk utter. Jack quirks an angry eyebrow. Katrina’s smiles takes on a nervous edge.
            "Rigor, are you okay?" Jack asks. He snaps his fingers in front of Rigor's face.
            Rigor comes to but still appears to be slightly entranced.
"Wow," is all he can manage.
            Jack smiles, "Yeah, she is wow."
            Katrina wraps her arm around Jack. "Aw, thanks Jack,” she says sweetly.
            Rigor’s mind wakes up and kicks into dirty gear. "You’re a spicy hot, momma! Let me guess? On your first date, ol' Jacky boy here left you in stitches, huh? Ha! Stitches! You get it?" Jack laughs nervously as Katrina's smile fades a little more.
            "It's a pleasure, Rigor," she says coolly.
            "Yep. You know, back in our Poltergeist Academy days, me and Jack used to be quite the pair." Rigor says with a smile, thinking of the old days.
            “That was a long time ago,” she says sternly.
            "Maybe, but you know what people say. Some things never change, right Jack? Me and Jack always had one rule." Rigor says, holding up his index finger. 
            "Oh, really?" Katrina responds in a frosty tone of voice.
            Jack is getting a little nervous as he butts in. "Uh, Kat, don't you have to go to the Witches’ Shop or something? I think I got to go and take Rigor out back and show him my VERY SHARP guillotine."
            "No, Jack, she wants to hear the rule. Don't you?" Rigor says to Katrina. 
            “I suppose so,” she says politely.
            Rigor puts his hand on Katrina's shoulder. "The one rule is, Jack lets me mingle with his ladies. It's kind of like an open house. So, with that being said, want to go do the monster mash?"
            "Oh, god." Jack smacks his head as Rigor smirks in his annoying fashion.
            Katrina’s polite smile disappears, anger flares in her eyes. Without telegraphing her intention, she punches him in the face and stomps out of the room.
 This chick knows how to throw a punch, Rigor thinks, realizing his nose is squashed into his head. He likes that about her, of course. He smacks the back of his head with his hand and his face goes back to normal. He smirks at Jack, who clearly does not share Rigor’s feeling.
            "You haven't lost your way with woman, I see."
            "Were you really that surprised?"
            "Not really."
            "Jack." Katrina calls to him from the door. "I am going to the Witches’ Store to buy some supplies. I will be back in a few hours...he better NOT be here when I return!"
            She slams the steel door behind her with strength that not many woman, dead or alive, have. Jack jumps from the door’s crashing. He looks at Rigor angrily, but Rigor’s smirk is unchanged.
            "'Buddy!'" Jack mocks him. "You've been here for a half an hour and already you're causing more ruckus than the Headless Horseman!"
            "I'll be a good little boy, Jack. I’ll be better. But for now, how about a grand tour of this place?"
            Jack doesn't like the idea, so he tries to stammer out of it. "I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure they’ll die to see a legend of the ghost world, but these ghouls are different here than they are in the Afterlife."
“How so?” Rigor asks.
"These ghouls are not accustomed to…" Jack flails for an answer as Rigor looks at him with a “go on” expression. "A ghost of your type." 
            But Rigor is persistent. "C’mon, Jack. What’s the worst that can happen?"
            "With you? Anything!" Jack says, knowing from experience. 
            "Hey! I'm offended by that. Look a tear." Rigor says, pointing to his eye. 
            "You're dead, you can't cry." 
            "I can dry cry!" 
            Jack has had enough. Just give him his own way, he'll be fine. Jack says to himself. "Fine, if I show you around. Will you at least try not to destroy this place?"
            "No promises." Rigor says jauntily. 
            Jack sighs. "With you that's good enough."

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