Ghosts of the Nightmare Gods – Chapter 1

Ghosts of the Nightmare Gods – Chapter 1

Shawn was floating through the depths of time and space, passing a mystery of the universe when he heard the doorbell ring, bringing him rapidly back to the reality of the Charming 3/2 Ranch Style Home in the Riverview Subdivision. As if sensing his moment of return, there was another ring, which seemed somehow more emphatic.

“Let’s see what the gods have sent me this time…” he muttered under his breath. He hated being interrupted. 

He opened the door to find a quiet mousy girl standing before him. Barely 5’4, with thick glasses and disheveled hair, she was doing her best to look nice, but she only managed to look like an overtaxed librarian. She tugged nervously at the cardigan wrapped around her shoulders, too warm for the day, but whatever; at least she was interesting.

“I’m sorry Sir, my car, just randomly stopped and I can’t get a signal. Would you mind calling a tow truck for me?” she said quietly, almost as if she was embarrassed to even speak.

This, this is what they sent me?  He said to himself. There was a stirring to the air, then a subtle green flash; as it subsided, a form began to take shape in the corner.  He felt the presence of a familiar wisp fade in next to him.

Oh great, Dil was here.

“The Fates aren’t without their sense of humor ya know, and if you would stop for a moment and stop being cynical…. Well you might even see that there’s something there,” the spirit said in a huff, mimicking, for a moment the act of breathing.  His form grew more solid to Shawn while remaining invisible to his guest, and revealed a visage akin to someone in their twenties; brown hair swept back in a gentle wave  over the tips of his pointed ears, while his green eyes sparkled with mirth, concealing a lurking seriousness. He radiated power, and the sudden appearance added mystery to the moment.

Excuse me, Sir?“ Oh yes, she was still here, that’s right. He thought to himself, experiencing linear time with its many inconveniences. There was never any time to stop and appreciate the little things.

“Yes, I’d be happy to make a phone call, would you come in and make yourself comfortable? No need to wait out here,” He added a little magic to that last part, just a touch, to make her feel safer about the whole deal.

“Yes. That would be just fine. Thank you,” she said, nodding, her head seeming almost heavy.

“Great, make yourself comfortable on the couch and I’ll grab my phone in the next room,” he replied.

Surreptitiously, Shawn slipped out, venturing into his room reserved for ritual, and he reached out to the wisp again.

“You rang?” Dil said, appearing almost instantly.

Oh, he was being a smart ass, perfect.

“Oh that tone again? Really? What did I do this time?” Shawn replied, feigning hurt.

“Do we really have to go into it? After how you came by this place?” Dil said, picking at an old wound.

“It’s a Charming 3/2 Ranch Style Home in the Riverview Subdivision, which has been my patch of forest to guard for the last few millennia.” Shawn explained.

“Yes, but the person you changed and slipped into his life had a destiny ya know,” the wisp replied. 

“The original Shawn Pyke is much happier as a mother, I mean… I could show you…” This really didn’t need any further explanation did it? He saved his grove, everyone was happy, except the Fates, apparently but Shawn knew you couldn’t win all the time.

“Enough; the Fates have decided that since you think it’s fine to interfere with their weaving…”  The spirit took on a more formal tone, switching from banter to the official business at-hand.

“Wait a minute…Wait just a minute,” Shawn temporalized, holding up his hands.

“Yes?” Dil raised an eyebrow as a grin spread across his face.

“They tapped you directly?” The guardian asked, shocked.

Dil began, “As I said, you’ve pissed them off. Since you have decided to interfere with their…” 

“Pissed them off? They tap a wisp directly for the first time in ages after bulldozing into my territory, disrupting my grove… ” Shawn protested indignantly. The spirit ignored him and continued on.

“Then they will use you to correct it,” The wisp replied with a tone of finality.

“Dil,” he said, for the first time using his name, which got the spirit’s attention as it always did.

“Yes?” He answered, projecting an exasperated put-upon look.

“They’re absentee landlords.  Why be their errand boy? I don’t see a binding collar?”  The spirit’s look flashed from put-upon to aggravated.

“When the fates talk, you’re supposed to listen. If you had learned that, if you had respected that… ” Dil lectured.

“Respect goes both ways. They want it; don’t put golden-threaded mortals in my way, infringing on what’s mine,” Shawn said dismissively.

“Gods, this is the whole point,” Dill muttered. “You act like a teenager sometimes. So young man, it’s time you learned some responsibility. ” Dil took on a mocking fatherly tone. 

This time, it was Shawn’s turn to look annoyed, and then a moment of awareness dawned.

There was someone waiting in the living room.

“You don’t mean…”

“Yes, they are giving you an assistant, a charge, to keep you out of trouble for a few centuries, maybe a few other surprises. They weren’t too keen on giving me many details to pass along.  They are deeply aggrieved, enough to send me and break ages of silence, ” Dil went on, his words falling with the weight of final judgment. 

“This is an outrage! I am a Guardian, a firstborn, charged with sacred duties and they dare treat me this way? Fuck them!” he growled.

“There’s nothing you can do. They’ve interwoven your destiny and that of your current house guest with golden thread… They had me watch so I could report the news first-hand. It was quite an honor and first time for me. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a first time on anything?” Dil replied.

“Shit…” Some days, it just didn’t pay to get out of bed.

“They’ve made their point. There’s no reason to take this any further. Lesson learned,” Shawn replied, back pedaling for dear life.

“There are consequences for your actions; consequences you are not allowed to ignore or dismiss, for once,” Dil’s voice trailed off, as he muttered under his breath.

With a resigned sigh, Shawn switched to damage control. He could handle this. “So what’s the situation?”

“Misassigned familiar. Something zigged when it should have zagged. Since you have such a fetish for transformative magic, the Fates thought you might put it to good use,” Dil answered.

“The original Shawn Pyke, the one I changed, really is much happier as a mother; he has a lovely fawn. If they hadn’t invaded my territory…” Shawn tried to continue, sounding pained and put-upon.

“Shawn this is settled, move on,” Dil snapped, bringing him back to the matter at hand.

“Ok, so you’re telling me that I’m stuck with my recent houseguest,” he replied, letting the matter go. There was no winning against those odds anyway.

“You always were a bright buck,” Dil said, patting him on the head, between his spectral antlers.

“You always were a smart ass,” Shawn snapped back.

“And you wonder how I ended up with you?” Dil grinned.  “Anyway, yes, your mission, whether you like it or not. Pop her out of her mortal form and set her on the right path. Should be easy for you, and after a while, her natural instincts will kick in and you’ll have a shiny new pet.”

“Yeah that’s what you think, they are a pain in the ass to train…” Shawn muttered and began to slip out.

“So you’re actually going to take the time to train this one?” Dil questioned, stopping him in his tracks.

“You’re the one that said it. It’s an assignment, not a choice, and besides, I have been a bit bored lately,” Shawn grinned devilishly.

“Try taking this seriously. Maybe try to be nice for a change? If you really want to smooth things over, you will take this seriously,” Dil chided.

“Nice? I’m always nice. At least, that’s what they always end up thinking,” Shawn said, grabbing his cell phone and giving Dil a look of pure confidence.

“Yeah, whether they like it or not,” Dil replied cryptically, as Shawn left the room.

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