CECIL & BUBBA
MEET A SUCCUBUS
by Terry M. West
Copyright © 2013 Terry M. West
Published by Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.
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All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publishers, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
These tales are works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This wasn’t the weirdest thing they had ever done for cash, but it was up there high on the list. Turner “Bubba” Teague was known to ingest just about anything if there was enough money behind it. And Cecil McGee had made it with a rich old invalid’s young wife right in front of the fella for nearly a thousand bucks. Hell, Cecil would have done it for free, or maybe even contributed a few bucks toward it himself.
The boys made money, but it was never enough. They enjoyed gambling, drinking and impressing women. These pursuits made rations a little bony sometimes.
Smarter people earned more than them, and probably had an easier time of things. But the boys weren’t stupid. Cecil and Bubba were high school graduates. Granted they had climbed no higher in education, and they got their diplomas largely because of the promises and threats made by their parents.
The boys were underachievers to be sure and the pair had known each other since junior high. They were both thirty. This was still a young age for men but an awfully old one for slackers. They rented a double wide together at a trailer park in Azle, because birds of a feather, as they say.
Cecil was a grease monkey, but he was consigned mostly to oil changes and air filter replacements. His daddy owned the garage, and wasn’t that impressed with his son’s work ethics or abilities. Cecil was sometimes allowed to hold the droplight while his more seasoned coworkers dirtied their hands on carburetors and transmissions.
Bubba was a bouncer at the Busty and Lusty topless club in Forth Worth. Bubba was a big pussy cat, but he looked intimidating as hell at six foot three and over three hundred pounds. Bubba generally worked weekends when the Busty and Lusty was extra crowded. He was paid fairly, but he put an awful lot of his salary into video games and fast food. His job was an easy one. All he had to do was stand there, scowl and look big. Occasionally he was called upon to manhandle somebody. But it didn’t happen often. Bubba still complained about his job an awful lot, though.
Habits aside, the boys still had their minor cash flow problems; but they were earning some extra funds tonight. And they weren’t being called on to do much of anything except stand around; an old hat for Bubba. They were sure they could manage the task well.
Cecil and Bubba were on their way to the old Reynolds property. Cecil drove a weather-beaten 1975 F-150 Ford pick up down the 287 toward Cowtown. He tapped the steering wheel as he sang Family Tradition.
The radio was broken, so Bubba had to endure the piercing torture Cecil was handing out. But at least he wasn’t desecrating Johnny Cash anymore.
“For all that is holy, stop,” Bubba pleaded, at his limit with it. “I know you’re doing this for the simple pleasure of getting a rise out of me. You’ve won. Now take your blue ribbon and shut the hell up already. You couldn’t carry a tune with a bucket.”
Cecil grinned, his bottom teeth caked with chewing tobacco. “You’re just jealous is all.”
“Yeah,” Bubba snorted. “I’m jealous of the way you set the trailer park dogs to crying when you try to sing. They’d blow their heads off, if they could.”
Cecil laughed good-naturedly.
“Why don’t you replace that radio? Real music would be nice every once in awhile. You got a heap of problems with this vehicle, man. The gas gauge is busted. The body is starting to rust. Your tires are bald. You should fix it up. You are a certified auto technician, after all,” Bubba nagged him.
Cecil shrugged. “Who’s got the time?” Bubba didn’t know the truth. The most Cecil could do for this vehicle was feed it fresh oil.
“Like a barber with a bad haircut, I’ll tell you what,” Bubba said, shaking his head and staring out into the dark. It wasn’t your usual night out there, he realized. You could almost taste it on the air.
It was the night before Halloween. It was known by diverse names in other parts of the country. Mischief Night. The Devil’s Night. Cabbage Night. The boys didn’t really have a name for it. Though it was associated mainly with kids egging front doors or wrapping trees and houses in toilet paper, the boys knew it was still considered a mighty powerful and magic night by the superstitious. Storm clouds brewed in the dark sky, as if aware of the night’s reputation and potential.
Of course, the night was nothing to Cecil and Bubba except for an opportunity to make some much needed cash. They had stopped egging doors near or on Halloween a long time ago. But Bubba suddenly thought better of the night for a different reason entirely.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this,” he said, his big feet getting chilly all of a sudden. “Not after that thing with Rosalita.”
Cecil groaned. Rosalita Perez was an elderly Hispanic woman who was slightly crazy. They had gotten into a dust-up with her last Saturday.
Cecil and Bubba were at the Cherokee Lounge, their favorite stomp, tying one on. Rosalita had come in to warm her bones and have a snort before closing time. She had tied her pit bull, Crackers, to a tree near the entrance of the parking lot. It was a good distance away from the establishment because the son of a bitch was vicious; Rosalita kept the dog for protection. Cecil and Bubba were backing out of the Cherokee Lounge parking lot, drunk as skunks, and they had rolled over Crackers, right in front of Rosalita who had come to liberate the dog and go back home to the section eight apartment she rented.
Rosalita, who had long claimed gypsy blood in her veins, swore a curse against them right there on the spot. Bubba remembered the words:
“You will be plagued by the strange and evil until the end of your days,” he recited them out loud again as a reminder to Cecil.
Rosalita had topped off the curse by giving the boys the middle finger and spitting in their direction; it had been crude, but it was still an effective seal on it, Bubba was convinced.
“Don’t go on about that again,” Cecil said. He picked up an empty Styrofoam coffee cup from the cup holder between the seats and emptied his chaw into it. “There ain’t no such thing as a curse.”
“I don’t know, man. She looked pretty mystical and serious about the business,” Bubba believed.
“She flipped us off and spit at us,” Cecil said incredulously. “I don’t think that’s how curses go. Not professional ones, anyway. She was just drunk and pissed.”
“It still sent a shiver down my spine,” Bubba said, illustrating by quivering his shoulders.
“Well, if she was that all powerful, I don’t think she’d be living at that apartment complex she calls home. Have you seen the place? It’s a dangerous shithole. I think she’d use that mumbo jumbo to whip up a nicer place to live, if there was real magic in her. I know I would. Shit, I’d voodoo me up a mansion.”
“Maybe you’re right. But curses are still things I take seriously,” Bubba said, suddenly distracted off the topic by his growing hunger. He opened and dug into the glove compartment, scrounging for food.
Cecil noticed Bubba’s heavy fingers circling around. “What are you looking for?” Cecil asked.
“We got anymore of that jerky left?”
Cecil shook his head.
Bubba frowned and shut the glove compartment.
Cecil squinted at the dark road. “Where is this place?” he asked, digging the directions out of his jacket pocket.
Bubba took the cocktail napkin from Cecil and unfolded it. “It’s not easy to find.”
“We’re making some easy money tonight, my friend,” Cecil said with a dirty smile. “A hundred bucks each to watch over this guy in a haunted house. It’s a bunch of nonsense, but I’ll take his cash.”
“At least we ain’t doing it on Halloween, ‘cause that’s when the spirits come out in full force. It’s their night. And I’m gun shy enough with this curse business and all,” Bubba said, studying the directions scribbled on the cocktail napkin in the dark. He lit a lighter to see them better; the interior light was broken as well.
Cecil grunted. “You really believe in that garbage, don’t you? Curses. Ghosts.”
“There are things that can’t be explained by man or his science,” Bubba said, deciphering the directions.
“Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s all a bunch of horse hockey and there ain’t no Santa Claus either.”
“Well, who knows? Maybe tonight will change your mind.” Bubba said.
“Doubtful. It ain’t Christmas Eve,” Cecil shot back.
“I kind of hope we see something. Just to prove you wrong.”
Cecil hooted. “Bubba, you’re the biggest chicken shit alive when it comes to that stuff. You leave the lights on after we watch horror movies.”
“One time, and that flick was scary as hell,” Bubba said, motioning up the road. “Take the next exit and turn right.”
Cecil took the exit and turned down an unmarked and unnamed country road, all but lost to time. They were swallowed by solid darkness, the headlights bouncing off of the thick brush on either side of the rough dirt road.
“This is what you call the high and hard sticks, my friend,” Cecil said, keeping a safe speed over the bumpy road.
Bubba sighed, still not sure what they were heading toward. He remembered their meeting with Conrad Woods the other night.
It was at the Busty and Lusty club, and Bubba had been working so Cecil had done the negotiating. Conrad was a man both of the boys had met at the club. He had struck them as the tight-assed metro sexual kind, and they had figured him just another sexually repressed horn dog; like most of the customers who brought sweaty dollar bills to the place. They eventually learned that Conrad Woods was a man from the East Coast who called himself a parapsychologist. He was investigating the famed Reynolds house, thought to be the one of the most haunted houses in the Dallas/Forth Worth area. Busty and Lusty had seemed like an odd place to conduct their business, but they had while Cecil and Conrad both got their laps swept by asses and Bubba did his job at the door.
Their task was simple. They just had to look out for Conrad while he conducted his investigation. It was decided that the investigation would be done on the 30th, as the Reynolds house was being rented out to a religious organization that was hosting a chaperoned high school party there on Halloween night.
Cecil and Bubba had never been to the house. But it was a miracle anyone ever found the place, as far out in the wild as it was.
“I wish we had eaten before we left,” Bubba said, patting his empty belly. “Don’t think there’ll be much food where we’re heading.”
Cecil snickered. “Is that all you think about, man? Food?”
“No,” Bubba said, defensively. “I think about pussy every now and again, too.”
“Well, keep eating like you do, and you won’t be able to find your pecker if you do find a woman who’ll have you,” Cecil advised, navigating carefully. The road was getting worse.
“Hey, now. Plenty of women would go for me,” Bubba said, a little hurt.
“We ain’t counting circus freaks,” Cecil joked.
Bubba held up a middle finger, wondering if he could curse Cecil with it himself. “Sit and rotate, man.”
“Come on, you know I’m just bustin’,” Cecil said.
“Well, you really know how to hurt a guy. Not all of us can eat whatever we want and not gain an ounce,” Bubba whined. “My momma always said you had a tape worm thirty feet long.”
Cecil was the same size he had been his senior year of high school. He even wore his old leather jacket from his high school days that night, because if he was hired on as muscle, he was going to look the part.
Bubba, on the other hand, looked like he did all of the time. He wore a flannel shirt that was a size too big so he would look thinner and ratty jeans. And those boots of his needed either a shining or the trash can.
Cecil loved Bubba like a brother. Hell, that’s why he teased him so often; he just wished Bubba could stop being so damn sensitive about his weight and drop a few pounds. The least he could do was lay off of the fried foods. The fool fried everything.
They had gone on around ten more miles or so in silence- Bubba was stewing- when they saw the light. It popped through the thick brush and was less than a hundred feet or so on their right. It was the porch lights of a white, rectangular two-story colonial home. Large European columns supported a second story terrace. There was a row of windows, unvarying in size, on the second story that had very ornamental and expensive shutters. Two carved columns bracketed the tall entrance doors and extended to the top floor. A cherub sculpture was perched above the twin doors. The grass around the house was short and neat and the shrubs were all trimmed, indicating that someone still cared for the place.
It was the most beautiful property either of them had ever laid eyes on.
They spotted a white rental van pulled to the side of the house.
“Must be it,” Cecil muttered, pulling in close to the van.
Bubba drank in the place and whistled in appreciation. “Wow, man. What a house. I could hang my hat, here.”
They jumped when Conrad appeared at the driver’s side window and rapped on it.
Cecil rolled down the window angrily. “Christ, man. Don’t do that ever again, Conrad,” Cecil barked.
“I damn near shit myself,” Bubba threw in over Cecil.
Conrad laughed softly. “Sorry about that. But take my word for it; I’m the least scary thing out here. Good to see you, Cecil. Turner.”
As they got out of the truck, Bubba said, “No one calls me Turner, ‘cept my mama. You can call me Bubba.”
“Okay… Bubba.” It didn’t quite roll off of Conrad’s tongue and sounded rather awkward in his mouth.
Conrad wore a dark turtleneck sweater and matching slacks. He was a well-groomed man in his early forties with slightly receding light brown hair and a van dyke on his upper lip and chin. His sculptured nails and soft hands had never been soiled with work. That much was sure.
He shook their hands and motioned for them to follow him to the van.
“I’ll show you the mobile lab,” he explained.
Conrad opened the side van door and showed off the equipment inside. Among special cameras and other devices that neither of the boys recognized, there was a computer set up on a small table. A large monitor showed an array of rooms under surveillance. It looked like the security television at the liquor store, Bubba observed.
“We’re all set up inside. I’ve been placing cameras in position all day. These are feeding into a digital video recorder, so I can study the footage later for evidence.”
“Evidence of what?” Cecil asked.
“Apparitions. Items moving of their own accord. Strange lights. Things of that nature,” Conrad said. He closed up the van and stepped up on the porch. “Let’s get inside and I will give you both the lay of the land.”
Cecil and Bubba followed him into the house. They stepped into the huge formal room. The first thing Cecil and Bubba saw was the massive chandelier above their heads. There was also a sweeping staircase leading to the upper floor. The house was stripped of furniture and other possessions. The only thing present was a small folding table with more of Conrad’s equipment on it.
Conrad caught Bubba admiring the place. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it, Bubba?” The name sounded a little more comfortable in Conrad’s mouth now.
Bubba nodded. “It’s a hell of a place.”
“It’s awful empty,” Cecil noticed.
“This place has been vandalized so much over the years. The pieces that weren’t damaged or stolen were moved to storage units. The house is being meticulously restored. The plan is to repopulate the place with its personal effects once all of the repairs are done and the current owner hires a caretaker for the house,” Conrad explained.
“Looks all right to me,” Bubba said, admiring the polished marble floor in the formal room.
“Not all of the rooms are as nice as this one,” Conrad said. “Some are gutted and awaiting restoration.”
“So what’s the story with this place?” Cecil asked.
“You don’t know the story behind this house?” Conrad replied, surprised. He had thought the legend common knowledge. Especially to those who dwelled near it.
Bubba and Cecil both shook their heads, wondering if they were in the minority.
“This house was built in the early nineteen hundreds by the Harrows family. It stayed in that family until it was sold to the Reynolds clan in the forties. Daniel Reynolds came from a long line of land tycoons. He and his young wife, Hattie Mae, moved into this house, along with Daniel’s two brothers, Andrew and Clifford.
“It turns out that Daniel was somewhat of a sexual deviant. He shared Hattie Mae with his brothers and sometimes visiting friends and acquaintances. He apparently got off on watching his wife with other men.”
Cecil smiled to himself, remembering that money he had made off of the invalid and his wife.
“Hattie Mae, however, was not very pleased with this arrangement,” Conrad continued. “It was rumored that her ancestors were witches that had somehow escaped the Salem trials and the magic in her blood attracted the attention of Satan himself. Hattie Mae made a deal with the devil and every man who had touched her died from a horrible affliction. Her husband and his brothers were the first to go, dying from a disease that the doctors could not figure out. Of course, the sickness did not befall Hattie Mae or the help.
“Suspicions arose and Hattie Mae was put on trial. She was eventually exonerated. Not long after, she killed herself. She hung herself from the second story balcony,” Conrad said, motioning up the staircase. “But then Satan called in his marker, as he is quick to do, and Hattie Mae became what is known as a succubus.”
“Suck a bus?” Bubba said.
“Succubus,” Conrad corrected him. “It’s a female demon from hell that uses the sexual energy of men to feed on their life force. The devil has a sense of humor in the torment he hands out, it appears.”
“Baloney,” Cecil had to say. “No offense, Conrad, but you believe that bullshit?”
“Ah,” Conrad said, grinning. “A skeptic. And you, Bubba. Is this bullshit to you as well?”
“I don’t know,” Bubba said, looking back and forth between the skeptic and the believer. “There are things out there you can’t explain, I guess. Just put me in the middle of the road on it.”
“A dozen families have owned this house since the Reynolds tragedy,” Conrad said, returning to his story. “Seven young men have died in this house, all under mysterious circumstances. A world renowned medium, Maggie Tilson, came into contact with Hattie Mae in the sixties during an investigation of the house and the legend of Hattie Mae’s deal with Satan was born.
“There was a well-documented case in the seventies. It’s a matter of public record. A teenager named William Kelly entered the house on a dare one Halloween night. He came out hours later and he looked like he had aged thirty years. He was practically catatonic. When he recovered, he spoke of Hattie Mae seducing him. He even identified her from an old picture. He had no memory of how he got away from her.”
“I still don’t believe it,” Cecil said, sticking to his guns.
“But, Cecil, it’s a matter of public record,” Bubba reminded him.
“It doesn’t matter whether you believe or not,” Conrad said. “It won’t affect this investigation either way. We have a lot of ground to cover. Are you gentlemen ready to begin?”
Cecil and Bubba nodded in harmony.
“I want to go dark and cover this whole house. I figured we would do EVP sessions down here and upstairs. But I want to start with the hottest spot in the house. Hattie Mae’s bedroom,” Conrad said, excitedly.
They followed him up the stairs to one of the many rooms located at about the midway point of the house. They entered the room. The walls were gutted. A large, antique canopy bed resided there. The only other furnishing was a card table with three chairs surrounding it. The table and chairs sat within the chalk outline of a pentagram, bordered with a white candle at each point. It immediately sent Cecil’s hind hairs up.
“What is that?” he demanded, pointing to the pentagram.
“It’s a pentagram,” Conrad said, nonchalantly. “It’s a circle of protection.”
“We didn’t sign up for that,” Cecil said, suddenly wary.
“I gotta agree with Cecil on this one,” Bubba added. “That’s a thing of the devil.”
Conrad looked at the pentagram and then he laughed. “Well, Cecil, I thought you didn’t believe in this bullshit.”
Cecil shook his head. “I ain’t fooling around with that thing. No reason to take a chance if you don’t have to.”
“The pentagram is a form of protection against evil. It’s been perverted by heavy metal music and bad horror movies to mean something else,” Conrad insisted.
“Don’t care,” Cecil said. “I ain’t stepping foot in that thing.”
“We need protection for the séance,” Conrad explained.
Bubba and Cecil both looked at each other.
“Séance?” Bubba asked. “You mean calling upon the dead?”
“How else are we going to contact Hattie Mae? They don’t have cell phones on the other side.”
“We’re out,” Cecil said flatly. Bubba nodded in agreement.
They started to leave.
“Wait, boys,” Conrad said after them. “Is there anything that would entice you to stay and go through with this?”
“Well, we sure as hell won’t do it for a Scooby snack,” Cecil shot back. “Give us a minute.”
Cecil and Bubba conferred quietly but heatedly on the other side of the room. When they returned to Conrad, Bubba looked defeated. He had lost the argument.
“We want an extra hundred for the pentagram. And we want another hundred on top of that for the séance. And it is payable now. Or we scoot out of here,” Cecil informed Conrad. The boys knew their host could afford it.
Conrad smiled and pulled a wad of hundred dollar bills out of his slacks pocket. “You boys drive a hard bargain,” he said, removing a money clip from the pile and paying them. “And I’ll even buy the first round at the Busty and Lusty after this.”
Cecil was satisfied with the deal, but Bubba was still a little cautious about the entire thing.
Cecil stuffed the money in his leather jacket and then motioned to the bed. “I thought you said all of the stuff was out of here.”
“I personally requested that Hattie Mae’s bed be brought in for this investigation. It’s where the many offenses occurred. Spirits will usually have a connection with a material object,” Conrad elucidated.
Conrad took a silver lighter from the card table and began lighting the candles with it. Once all five were lit and burning, he asked Bubba to turn off the bedroom light. They all sat at the table. Conrad switched on a digital recorder and put it on the table. He then stretched out his arms.
“Let’s take each other’s hands,” he instructed.
Bubba and Cecil were hesitant.
“Guys, this isn’t a sexual proclivity,” Conrad said, a little exasperated with the two. “We need to raise energy.”
“As long as that’s all that’s being raised,” Cecil muttered.
They all took hands.
“Hattie Mae,” Conrad began. “We respectfully request that you grace us with your presence, tonight. Please, give us a sign that you are with us.”
There was a large banging sound in the room. Bubba gasped softly, almost taking his hands back. Conrad and Cecil held them in place.
“That was the quickest reaction I have ever encountered,” Conrad beamed. “Was that you, Hattie Mae?” he asked the darkness.
“Probably just a loose pipe or something,” Cecil wagered, sure the noise had been a natural one.
Conrad hushed him.
There was silence. Conrad frowned and continued to request Hattie Mae’s presence. This went on for a long time. Bubba and Cecil’s hands began to sweat. Almost ready to abandon the room and focus elsewhere in the house, Conrad gave it one more attempt.
“Hattie Mae, come forth and make yourself known,” he said with authority.
Suddenly, the flames of the candles shot several feet into the air. The boys could feel the heat coming off of them and they smelled the melting wax. The flames died back down.
Bubba sat in silence, afraid to move.
“Tricks candles, Conrad? Kind of lame,” Cecil said, suspiciously but with a little bit of apprehension mixed in.
“I assure you, I had nothing to do with that,” Conrad claimed, sounding as surprised by the incident as the boys.
A breeze picked up in the room, chilling them all.
“Tell me you got something to do with this, Conrad,” Bubba implored him. “If it’s a joke, I won’t be mad.”
“Yeah, what is this? Is it a TV program or something?” Cecil asked, waiting for the crew to rush through the door. “Y’all better not make me look stupid.”
Conrad shook his head. “This isn’t my doing,” he promised.
The room began to shake, as if caught in a sudden earthquake. The men gripped tighter to each other’s hands. White dust and flakes of spackle rained on them. The shaking carried on for a long time, and it was making Bubba queasy as hell. Finally, after a lesser tremor or two rocked them for a second, the room was still.
The men sat with white knuckles; each to his own silence.
Cecil’s eyes crawled quickly around the room. “If that was a special effect, it was a God damn expensive one,” he said.
There was a clear female sigh in the room. It had come from the canopy bed. They all trained their eyes on the mattress. An eerie glow lit up the room. Something stirred the bedding, and grew under the sheets of the bed. The sheets and blankets were slowly pressed upward. A body blossomed there, underneath.
When the figure had finished rising, the canopy bed held a corpse. Then, the bed dressing slowly retreated away from the cadaver. The satin sheets slid to the floor. A female form was revealed to the room. The body was still. Life was slowly assembling in it.
“Stay in the circle,” Conrad warned, fascinated and afraid at the same time.
Bubba looked to Cecil for reassurance. There wasn’t any.
Cecil looked just as stunned.
The shapely figure found its breath and existence and slowly rose up off of the bed. The ghost moved as if swept by a gentle breeze. It was a beautiful woman, wrapped in a white see-through nightgown. She had dark red hair and a fair complexion. Faint summer freckles dotted her cheeks and the bridge of her nose. Her eyes were green and seemed to give off a light of their own. She smiled tenderly, and all three of the men smiled back, despite their fear. They couldn’t help themselves.
“You have called and I have come,” Hattie Mae spoke softly, standing next to the bed.
They could make out her curves through the nightgown. She had a large bosom. Her light pink nipples blended into her skin and were barely visible from a distance. Bubba had a hard time getting his gaze past Hattie Mae’s chest; his lips puckered involuntarily toward her breasts. Cecil studied her body further down, preferring things he could stick his prick in. She was one of the finest pieces of ass Cecil had ever gazed upon, and he noticed that the carpet most definitely matched the drapes.
Hattie Mae began to glide slowly toward them, her arms extended.
Cecil and Bubba had to fight the urge to stand up and greet those widely spread arms with their bodies. They were gripped by her but the feeling of absolute dread in them still trumped that; though not by a large margin. This was due to the fractional attention she gave them. Had she given the boys all of her energy, they would have been hers entirely. But she seemed more attracted to their host.
“Conrad,” Hattie Mae spoke, zeroing in on him like a predator that had spotted the weakest of the herd. Whatever made him most vulnerable was her secret.
Her lithe body pulled toward him. “Come to me, Conrad.”
“Take your own advice. Be strong, man,” Cecil said, noticing that all of Hattie Mae’s attention was focused on Conrad now. It freed Cecil further from her charm but also made him jealous as hell.
“She’s a suck a bus, Conrad,” Bubba cautioned, pulling more out of Hattie Mae’s spell, himself.
“Succubus,” Conrad corrected Bubba inattentively, his eyes never straying from Hattie Mae. He looked deep into Hattie Mae’s eyes and the boys could see that he was a goner.
“Hold onto him, Bubba,” Cecil instructed. “Don’t let him break out of the circle.”
Cecil and Bubba tightened their grips on Conrad, who was already starting to pull away.
“Let go of me,” Conrad commanded in a thick voice. “She wants me. Don’t you see?”
“She’s only using you for your life force,” Bubba said, having a hard time holding the slender guy down.
Hattie Mae stared straight into Conrad’s essence. “Come,” she beckoned. She licked her lips and pawed at her body. “Don’t you want me?”
“Oh, baby,” Conrad whispered. He suddenly bound up, nearly knocking the boys over, and tore away from their grip.
The circle was broken. Conrad smeared the chalk pentagram with his heels as he moved, scarring and ruining the ring of protection. He stepped hastily to Hattie Mae.
“Don’t do it, man!” Cecil warned. “She’ll kill you!”
Conrad wrapped his arms around her. Hattie Mae kissed him hungrily. She hiked one of her legs around him, pulling him in closer. The color faded from her eyes, and they became soulless white orbs. Her skin began to twist and sag, turning so ashen that her blue veins stood out like deep scars running the length of her body. Puss-filled sores grew all over her and a thick green fluid trickled from the corner of her mouth. Her countenance took on that of a demonic crone. She glowered evilly.
Conrad pulled away and looked at the thing he had been kissing. He turned back to Cecil and Bubba. He grinned, the green bile on his lips and chin. “Look at her! Isn’t she beautiful?”
“No man! She’s an ugly ass demon!” Cecil shouted, wondering why Conrad didn’t see that. And as ugly as she was, Cecil still wanted to fuck the thing something fierce.
“Get away from her!” Bubba hollered as well; concern and envy doing a strange bop together inside of him.
Hattie Mae began to kiss Conrad again. Her blackened tongue snaked into his mouth. The sight almost made Bubba puke. Conrad’s moans of pleasure slowly turned to muffled screams of pain and fear. Hattie Mae broke off the kiss. She stared delightedly at Conrad, who now screamed at the top of his lungs. His face began to shrivel and grow old. His hair all fell out and his spine began to curl. As this happened, Hattie Mae’s beauty slowly began to restore itself.
Conrad shrank inside of his clothes and his face became gaunt. Hattie Mae dropped him to the floor. The husk that had once been Conrad Woods looked at the boys with dying, gray eyes. Conrad’s concluding breath shook his chest on its way out. He looked like a hundred-year-old corpse.
Hattie Mae, beautiful by mortal standards once again, stood for a second with closed eyes, savoring the taste of the life she had just ingested. She slowly opened her eyes, and looked to the mess on the floor.
“Get up, lazy bones,” Hattie Mae said to the body. “All Hallow’s Eve is near. And there are things to be done.”
Conrad’s corpse began to twitch and jerk. Slowly, the lean zombie rose up off of the floor. It straightened, its head lolling around like it had a screw loose somewhere. The dead thing that had been Conrad lurched to attention in front of its mistress. With a bent head that rested on its scrawny shoulder, the zombie regarded Hattie Mae. Its obedient white eyes looked to the succubus for instruction. The mouth on zombie Conrad drooped to one side.
At the sight of Conrad, despite the fear pumping fast and hard in his veins, Bubba was suddenly reminded of his grandmother after her stroke.
The boys could have snuck off while this was happening, but they were rooted there by fear, fascination and the affection for Hattie Mae that was being supernaturally inspired in their hearts and loins.
“Minions always come in handy,” Hattie Mae said, tenderly stroking Conrad’s cold and prominent forehead. “Go clean the house. We are having a party tomorrow, and this place must shine.”
The zombie turned itself toward the door and shuffled to it. Before it left the room, its dull gaze found Bubba.
“Bbbbbbuuuuuuubbbbbbbbaaaaaa,” it said slowly, and Bubba wished he had let the name Turner stand. He never wanted to hear his name played out of that dead and sideways mouth ever again.
“Your friends will join you shortly,” Hattie Mae promised the lifeless Conrad.
It moved clumsily out of the room.
“You boys have pulled me in a little early for the festivities this year. I plan on going back to the darkness with a full belly this time,” Hattie Mae said, turning her full attention back to Cecil and Bubba. “I’ve always enjoyed two at once,” she murmured, moving in on them.
They wanted to run and they wanted to stay. Those beautiful green eyes of hers held them there, and they were petrified in their love for her.
“Worse ways to go,” Cecil decided, mesmerized.
The boys had no more will left. Hattie Mae placed a hand on both of them. She chose Cecil first; he was the more depraved of the two and he would certainly have more flavors. She came in for a kiss, and then stopped herself. She pulled back and stared at the pair curiously. She sniffed at them. And then a hiss escaped from her angry lips. Hattie Mae put her hellish face back on. There was no reason to hold them anymore. She shoved them both to the ground.
Cecil and Bubba snapped out of Hattie Mae’s spell and balled up fearfully on the floor as she raged at them.
“Your souls have stains upon them!” Hattie Mae shrieked in a demonic voice. “You have been cursed!”
Bubba looked at Cecil. “I told you so,” he scolded, despite the presence of death in front of him.
“I’m starving but I cannot feast on you! You are bad meat! The accursed! You are the damned!” Hattie Mae shouted. She shook angrily. “Be gone! Leave my home and take your black souls with you!”
Cecil and Bubba ran from the room. They heard her wicked laughter behind them in the distance as they navigated the stairway as quickly and carefully as they could.
They passed Conrad in the formal room. The reanimated subordinate was wiping down a window with a dirty rag.
“Hold up,” Cecil said, running back toward Conrad.
“What the hell, man?” Bubba called after him. “We ain’t bringing him with!”
Cecil patted down dead Conrad. The jostling attention did not take the zombie away from his chore. Bubba watched as Cecil returned, Conrad’s money quickly going into Cecil’s own pocket.
“That’s like robbing a walking grave, man,” Bubba said, frowning on it.
“He don’t need it no more. And we deserve it,” Cecil said simply, as the pair approached the front door.
They made it out of the house and jumped into Cecil’s truck. Cecil started it and they took off. They went about fifty feet, and then Cecil slammed on the brakes. He looked to Bubba.
“This ain’t right,” Cecil said firmly.
“You’re damn right it ain’t,” Bubba said, stomping the floor board with his heavy foot. “We’re not moving! Get us the hell out of here!”
“We were hired to protect him.”
“Well, I don’t think he’ll be asking for a refund.”
“We gotta take revenge in his name,” Cecil said, opening his door and stepping outside.
“Cecil! Shit!” Bubba cried, following Cecil out of the truck.
Cecil walked to the back of his truck and pulled out an emergency gas can. He carried it because of the busted gas gauge.
“What are you doing with that?” Bubba asked, concerned.
“I’m burning the bitch’s house down,” Cecil announced, going back to the house and dousing the front porch with gas.
Bubba noticed Conrad’s dead face pressed against a window. It stared at them like a grounded child that wanted to come out and join in the game. It mouthed Bubba’s name.
Cecil made a liquid trail from the house to Conrad’s van and soaked the inside of the van as well.
“You’re burning the van too?” Bubba said, following Cecil and keeping his eye on the door, fully expecting Hattie Mae to come crashing out through it at any moment.
Cecil motioned to the computer monitor inside. “Evidence,” he pointed out, pitching the gas can into the van.
They walked back toward the front porch.
“Give me your lighter,” Cecil told Bubba.
Bubba handed it over. Conrad continued to watch, his slanted and gray lips kissing the window pane.
His fondness for the demon totally out of his system now, Cecil started the porch to burning. A trail of fire ran to the rental van, igniting the interior. They walked back to Cecil’s ride. Cecil took his time but Bubba scooted along quickly, eyes over his shoulder every few feet. He made sure hell wasn’t rushing up behind them. As they got back into the truck, Bubba swore he could hear the faint, angry cries of Hattie Mae on the night wind. They drove away.
“What do you think is going to happen to her?” Bubba asked, watching the fire grow through the back window of the truck.
Cecil didn’t look back at all.
“Hopefully she’ll stay in hell where she belongs, now that she doesn’t have a house to haunt,” Cecil said.
The van exploded behind them.
Bubba cringed when it happened, but Cecil merely smirked. The entire front of the house was engulfed in flames. Bubba watched until the heavy brush on the road hid the inferno. He turned back toward the road in front of him.
“That was for you, Conrad,” Cecil muttered. He looked over at Bubba, who sat there silently. “You want to eat, Bubba? How about a chicken fried steak? I could go for a chicken fried steak.”
For once, Bubba wasn’t hungry. “Cecil?”
“Yeah,” Cecil replied, filling his mouth with a fresh piece of chaw.
“We’re cursed,” Bubba said. His eyes were downcast. The reality of it sank in.
You will be plagued by the strange and evil until the end of your days.
A combination of anxiety and resignation came over Bubba.
“We’re cursed,” Bubba repeated quietly.
“Well remind me to buy Rosalita a puppy,” Cecil said, noting the positive. There was irony to be found here. Even a dumbass like Bubba had to see it. “If it weren’t for that curse, we’d be cleaning windows, right about now. And that place had a fuck load of them, too.”
Bubba just stared quietly at the glove compartment, and Cecil knew his friend wasn’t thinking about that jerky anymore.
He decided to let Bubba be. Cecil himself regarded it as one of those things you simply had no control over. Like the weather. He wasn’t in the mood to spend anymore worry on it tonight. He was hungry and tired and there was fresh money heating up his pocket.
He took the Styrofoam cup from the cup holder and spit tobacco juice into it. There was a huge clap of thunder. Rain started spotting the windshield.
“This is only the beginning, ain’t it?” Bubba finally said.
Cecil picked at his teeth and kept his eyes on the road.
“It is gonna be hell on earth for us both from now on,” Bubba figured gravely.
The rain came harder. Cecil turned on the wipers and regarded Bubba. “How about that chicken fried steak?”
Bubba stared at Cecil. At that moment, Bubba had no idea what his best friend was put together with.
Cecil steered his truck down the hazardous road through the storm. He hummed to himself and smiled like he had just thought of something funny.
“Yeah,” Bubba finally gave in. “I could eat.”
After a spell, the rain stopped and the storm passed. They could finally see the starry night sky which had been hidden there, under the chaos, all along.
About the Author
Terry M. West is an American horror author. His best known works: What Price Gory, Car Nex, Dreg and his Night Things series. He is also the managing editor of the Halloween/horror website, Halloween Forevermore. He was a finalist for 2 International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi hot list for his YA graphic novel series, Confessions of a Teenage Vampire. Terry was born in Texas, lived in New York for two decades and he currently hangs his hat in California. www.terrymwest.com