Chapter 1 of Blood And Stone – An excerpt

The room shifted from normal to a darkened reflection. Color bleached out of the space, turning the blue walls into light gray. Splashes of black ichor covered the walls, oozing down to the floor in chunky rivulets.

In the real world, the boy was on his back. My magical sight showed him curled in a ball, sniveling and weeping. His aura was a ghastly shade of gray, a sign of how terrified he was inside. Along the edges of James’ aura, I could see purple sparks. It looked like a generator misfiring.

What I saw cradling the boy’s body stopped my breath. A figure made of shadow held the boy’s upper body pressed against its form. The masculine frame burned with a kaleidoscope of fiery red and midnight black swirls. Glowing crimson eyes stared up at me. I felt a push of the spirit’s will against my mind.

I closed my eyes and centered myself, steeling my mind against the intrusion. It had been a weak attempt, more of a test than a true attack. When my eyes opened again, the room had returned to normal. I exhaled and felt Malcolm’s hand on my shoulder. There was a quiet hum of energy behind his touch, a reassuring presence of power. It’s been said that faith can move mountains. I haven’t seen a man or woman of any faith pull that trick off. But for protecting oneself from otherworldly spirits, it certainly helps.

I reached into my satchel bag and pulled out a small circlet of metal charms. Each circular charm had a steel bar connecting it to the ring. The charms were carved into odd shapes and symbols. I pressed one of the charms into the sole of the boy’s foot.

“What’re you doing?” asked Patricia. She must have entered the room while I was using the Vision. She was standing close to her son.

“Don’t get too close,” I said. “Last thing we need is the spirit to jump ship.” I went through each charm, letting the metal stay in contact with the boy’s skin for a second or two. There was no reaction of the first seven or eight.

“What are you doing?” she asked again. She sounded more insistent this time, but at least she had taken a step away from her son.

“Gotta figure out what kinda spirit possesses your son.”

Looking to Malcolm, Patricia asked, “Can’t you do anything more, Pastor?”

Pastor Richards shook his head. “I’ve done all I can,” he said quietly. “Nico may be brusque, but he’s a good man.”

“Exodus 22:18, Pastor,” said Terry. He stood by the door with his arms crossed. He seemed satisfied that he’d won some kind of argument.

Before Malcolm or I could retort, James let out an inhuman shriek. A wisp of smoke rose from the boy’s foot. I looked at which symbol had caused the reaction. The color left my face. My arm hairs stood up as the spirit inhabiting James released a small pulse of energy.

Everything electronic in the back half of the house fried instantly. Putting charm ring in my satchel, I turned my gaze to James. Spit dribbled from the edges of his mouth. He roared at me. Behind the spoiled-milk eyes I could see the demon staring back at me. It was enraged.

Terry moved much more swiftly than a man his size should. He made a beeline for me. Malcolm got in his way. Terry had the pastor by at least sixty pounds and almost a foot in height. That didn’t stop Malcolm from putting his hand on Terry’s chest, stopping him cold.

“He’s not hurting him,” Malcolm said. “The demon’s been identified and it’s pissed.”

I looked at Terry. “You want to save your nephew?” I said.

Terry heaved a few breaths before curtly nodding. His face was strained with anger.

“Good. Then stop trying to be the a******e who picks a fight.” Turning to Patricia, I said, “Could you hand me my cane, please?”

Patricia didn’t understand my request but she complied. Once she’d handed off the cane, I said, “Tell the people on the porch to clear out. Terry, I’m gonna need you to carry your nephew.”

“Carry him? Where?”

“Where I tell you to go.”

Neither of them looked happy, but they did as I instructed. When it was just me and Malcolm, the pastor looked at me and sighed. “You should try to be more polite.”

I stared into James’ milky eyes. “You should have called me sooner.”

“Thought I could handle it. What’s inside him?”

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