Paranormal Investigations

Paranormal Investigations Part One 01.

 

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Caspian winces as his brother yells into a phone, “Spazzer,where have you been? Again you disappear and leave the family worried.”

I’ve been away in another reality learning the fundamental rules following its restructuring. I’ve also been eating a load of vegan burgers and battling Satan in a very strange and secret college.” He kisses the finger Bernice is stroking his lips with and squeezes closer to her on the sofa.

The brother barks, “Stop your nonsense and listen.”

Well, it wasn’t only me… Thinking about it, it was mainly Bernice.” Caspian pronounces ‘Bernice’ as if it would rhyme with ‘furnace’. “I went along for the ride.”

Bernice?”

One of my two lovely fiancées. The other is Celia. I love them both to bits despite their being very peculiar indeed.”

You can’t marry two women.”

If Bernice and Celia want to marry me, frankly there’s nothing I can do to stop them. Anyway, what can I do for you, dearest bruv? You only phone me when you’re in trouble.”

I need you to do an investigation?”

I do other things now.”

A very discreet investigation.”

Please refer to last answer … uh … discreet? What have you been up to?”

Someone threatened to kill me.”

Do go on.”

That’s it.”

And the problem is?”

Don’t be stupid.”

Caspian lies back on the perfectly white sofa and scans his huge office, the lofty windows and a fireplace in which you could park several vans. His brother goes on, “You can still hack and delete security footage?”

This gets more interesting by the second. What were you up to?”

Nothing. There’s some faked video of me running into a room full of women without my trousers on and threatening to shoot one of them.”

A whole room of women not wearing your trousers? What were they wearing instead?”

Shut up and listen.”

I’m seriously listening. You’ve rescued me from a boring afternoon of normality.”

I need to see you. Where are you? I take it since your last office collapsed you’re working in some litter-bin alley.”

I’ll give you my postcode.”

That won’t help. My car was stolen.”

Caspian nearly chokes on a piece of pickled garlic. “You have lots of cars!”

The Bugatti. I daren’t go home to get another. My wife and the police may have seen the video.”

Get a taxi.”

Don’t be stupid. I lost my wallet … it was stolen too.”

Bernice, pressed against Caspian, her ear beside his phone, says, “I’ll get him. But only if he has his trousers back on.” Her long jet-black hair pours across Caspian’s face.

He says, “Don’t scare him. He’s my brother.”

I’ll take Celia. She’ll look after him.”

Oh, dear God. Can he be alive and sane when he gets here?”

He’ll be alive. Is he sane at the moment?”

Caspian rolls his eyes. “He thinks he is. Don’t do anything horrible.” Back into his phone he says, “So where is this video?”

Martlesham Suite, White City. I went with the board for a meal.”

On it.” Caspian slides a screen closer on the coffee table. “Your Bugatti should be easy to track too.”

Bernice gets up, straightens her floor-length black gown and asks, “Where is he now?”

Where are you, bro?”

Under a fire escape somewhere.”

Bernice draws a wand from her belt. “I’ll find him.” She marches out of Caspian’s office.

~

An hour later Caspian is so deep in concentration Bernice has to squat beside him and plant a kiss on his cheek to get attention. “We’re here…” She sits on the sofa and curls round him.

His brother towers over them. He’s dressed in a suit but with a blanket around his waist

Caspian rubs his nose against Bernice’s and looks up at his brother. “Nice to see you, bro. Guess what? Your Bugatti got up to 310 kilometres an hour on the M11. It’s stopped now.”

Robin replies, “You have deleted the video?”

From the hotel, yes. I stuck it on Youtube instead.”

What?”

Joking. Get yourself a coffee – and one for me while you’re at it. I’m still analysing the footage. Bernice, can you help me with this?”

Do I want to?”

Uh … you really don’t. OK, I’ll describe it instead. Robin whips his shoes, socks, trousers and underpants off, draws a very realistic gun … a joke novelty pistol … from his jacket, runs screaming into a room and says to the first woman he meets, ‘Die bitch!’ and pretends to shoot her. Then he collapses in a faint.”

I’m so glad we weren’t invited.”

Robin says, “I can’t make coffee and hold this blanket up.”

Bernice leaps from the sofa. “Sit down. I don’t want to throw up.” She goes to the machine while Robin joins Caspian. He stares at the looped footage. “I don’t remember any of that. Well, only the bit after I woke up.”

Caspian slows the video. “This is what I find most intriguing. As soon as you faint, the woman takes your water pistol and wallet, runs out of the room and grabs the car keys from your trousers still lying in the corridor. She shows no shock. What’s even weirder is that she knew exactly where your wallet and keys were – she didn’t have to search for them. Look, there, she’s got your wallet, runs from the room into the corridor, snatches your keys from a trouser pocket and sprints for the car park.” He frowns. “I take it she knows you very well.”

Robin growls, “No. That’s Sandra – something – a board member’s mistress. I’ve only met her once.”

Evidence points a little to the contrary. How about being honest? At least when you die you can tell God that you tried it.”

Robin snaps, “I am being totally honest!”

And you and she didn’t pre-plan this little prank?”

Robin gags. “Of course not.”

How would you know? You don’t remember anything. Incidentally, what is the last thing you do remember?”

Robin frowns. “The car park. A woman leapt out and pointed the gun at me and said ‘Die, you bastard.”

Bernice puts mugs on the table. “And that’s as far as you’re going to get without my help.”

Caspian smirks. “Are you sure? I think I’m putting together a picture here.”

A picture? What style?”

OK, maybe Picasso at the moment but I’m refining things. We may get a Da Vinci yet”

Not a chance. You remember you wanted to start a paranormal investigation service?”

I had it on my office door.”

Now is the time to start it.”

Caspian sips coffee. “Hmm, nice. Do go on…”

The clue is in ‘Die, you bastard’ and ‘Die, you bitch’.”

Caspian pats her hand. “Of course it is. Go and lie down. You may have been overdoing things.”

Bernice tilts her head, smirks and says, “It was the same person talking.”

I … ooer…”

Yes, you do.”

It…” Caspian taps his lips and stares at the ceiling arched high above. “It fits, yes. OK, missus, go on.”

Bernice turns to Robin. “How did you feel when the woman pointed the gun at you?”

Furious!”

She places a black fingernail on the screen and runs the video back.”When you pointed the gun the woman screamed, terror all over her face. That’s how you felt.”

It would take more than…”

Bernice draws a wand and interrupts, “I can get the truth or you can just say it.” She points the wand at him.

Well, I may have been momentarily…”

Caspian says, “I’ll get the car park security video.”

Robin hisses and says, “All right. I was scared but who wouldn’t be?”

Bernice narrows her eyes and whispers, “Did you scream?”

I … I don’t think so. I don’t think I had time.”

So … it’s not the scream. No … scream wouldn’t work. Some people would freeze in terrified silence. Did you make eye-contact with her in the car park?”

I… Yes I did.”

And you made it with this Sandra by the look.” She moves the video back and forth. “So that’s it. It relocates using fear and eye-contact.”

Caspian asks, “What relocates?”

If you are asking that question I’d suggest a little education before advertising paranormal services. It’s a demon. It takes over a body, has a wild time, maybe eats and drinks too much expensive food, decides it wants to severely embarrass someone by making them run around half-naked, frightens the shit out of a pretty girl, takes her body and thinks driving up the M11 in a Bugatti would be fun. Of course the demon knew where the wallet and keys were. It had been dressed in those clothes while it possessed you.”

Caspian groans and looks at Bernice. “Now what do we do?”

She shrugs. “Nothing. It’s not our problem.”

I’m saying it is.”

Fine then.” Bernice hisses and wonders why marriage means cooperating with lesser species … men.

Caspian rises, pads barefoot across the thick carpet and calls back, “It could have swapped bodies several times already. How are we going to find it and who wants more espresso?”

Robin asks Bernice, “That wand can do real magic?”

No: I can.”

Caspian speaks over the hissing of the coffee machine, “You can find a demon like you found Robin?”

Bernice stares into space. “Probably … but I know someone who can do it better.”

Caspian returns and sits beside her. “Celia…”

She pulls out her phone. “Celia dear, can you track down a demon possessing…?” She listens for a moment. “Good idea. I’ll confront it; you bind it.”

Great.” Caspian sits back. “Sounds like they’ve got it sorted and I can take the day off.”

Bernice tilts her head and grins at him. “Seventh sense, the ability to travel to other planes and worlds – when the demon learns about you it won’t be able to resist: you’re the bait.”

What?”

Relax and look tempting.”

I always do.”

Robin says, “Can someone get me some trousers and shoes?”

Don’t think I have anything that would fit you. I’ll take a look.” Caspian strolls towards his room, passes through, and steps onto the balcony overhanging the gardens thirty metres below. A huge demonic andrewsarchus strolls over the castle lawn. Head thrown back it bares flaming teeth as big as hands and shakes the air with a howling roar. Caspian waves. “Hi, Andy, I’ll be down in a bit.” He turns and starts rummaging through clothes. “Uh … why do I have a dried pig’s ear in my sock drawer?”

He walks back to his office and throws cargo shorts and XXL T-shirt to Robin. “Here you go. But don’t try to look too like me. Fighting off the women is exhausting.”

A distant door opens and a thin woman totters in wearing a long black dress almost identical to Bernice’s. Caspian jogs over to her, says, “Celia!” and wraps her in a hug.

She wrings her hands and stares up at him, eyes wide.

Lilitu, one of my demon-slaves is here with the demon trapped in a binding. You must be careful.”

If it’s trapped in a binding where’s the problem?”

Lilitu is the problem. I had to release her. She may resist being bound again. She likes … men.”

I think I’ll stop asking for details at this point. Fine, I’ll leave. I was about to go and say hi to Andy anyway. Do introduce Lilitu to Robin instead.”

Celia nods. “Yes, Andy will keep you safe.”

A tall raven-haired woman strides into the room, her fist raised. “I have the demon crushed in my hand. Bind the bastard.” Her laughter screeches through the office.

Celia raises her wand. “I must bind you both, Lilitu.”

The woman shrieks and pretends to toss something to Celia. “Fine by me!”

Celia points her wand at the demon. “Wait … that’s not…”

Lilitu grabs the back of Caspian’s head, draws a gun and screams, “Die, you bastard!”

Caspian rolls his eyes. “What are you going to do – novelty me to death?”

The demon controlling Lilitu’s body glares, pulls back and hisses, “Don’t even think about resisting me.”

I’m not thinking about it – I’m doing it. Try to be a little more observant.”

Fear me!”

Sorry and all that. The list of things that utterly terrify me is already full. I can put you on a waiting list or you can hope for a cancellation.”

Bernice is trying to paralyse the demons. The air fills with swirling smoke glowing and whipping her hair. Celia is trying to bind Lilitu with a magical golden thread.

Caspian is very much alone with the demon of possession and seriously relieved when Lilitu collapses in a faint. He says, “Ha! That’s you sorted.”

Celia gasps. “She was always very hard. I’ll take her away.” She heads for the door and drags Lilitu after her, golden threads tight round Lilitu’s neck.

Caspian turns in triumph to Bernice. “Cool, huh? I beat a demon. I’m amazing.”

A moron! Why didn’t you let it take you over? That would have been so much easier. You just declared all-out war.”

I didn’t – honest.”

That demon of possession just failed. Unbound it must return to Hell where it will be tortured and humiliated. Guess what will happen after that?” She lowers her wand, shakes her hair straight and slumps on a sofa. “Oh, and guess who it will happen to…”

Robin’s head emerges from behind the sofa. “Is it all over? What happened anyway? What was all the shouting about?”

Caspian sits beside Bernice. “If you’d been watching instead of hiding you might have…”

I wasn’t hiding – just getting changed. Can someone get me a taxi?” Caspian passes his phone to Robin and asks Bernice, “How long does it take to torture a demon?”

Hell has no time, only eternity. For all I know it’s back already. When it gets you there’ll be blood everywhere, entrails splattered across walls, exploding eyeballs and the stench of incinerated flesh … could you go outside?”

Good idea! I’ll go and see Andy. A demon is hardly going to take on a cacodemon. Er … or is it?”

Bernice taps her lips with the wand. “You’ll be fine. I’ll stay here. This is where it last saw you and probably the first place it will start searching.”

You’ll be OK?”

She closes here eyes. “You ask such stupid questions. Do you have a book full of them or do you really make them up on the spot?”

Mostly the last. I’ve been practising.” He walks to the door. “Bye, Robin. Get out while you can.”

Jogging alone the corridor her enters his room, stops dead in his tracks and wishes he had his phone. Racing back to the office, he throws the doors open. “I think it’s in my room. I saw something move…”

Bernice rises, takes a blister pack from the table and recharges her wand with a fresh battery. A zigzag line of light crackles across the room. “What did you see?”

Dunno, just something out of the corner of my eye.”

Right, let’s go and zap it horribly.” She whips out her phone. “Celia dear. Can you come to Caspian’s room?” She listens. “No, not a threesome; a demon.” She takes Caspian’s elbow. “Stay close.”

I think I probably will.”

They march along the corridor and stop in the centre of the bedroom. Bernice looks round. “Nothing that I can detect. Did you really see something or were you just panicking?”

Most of those. Take your pick.”

He stares at his reflection in the mirror. The reflection’s eyes widen and it says, “Boo!”

Bernice, it’s my reflection… Bernice … where are you?”

He whirls round a stares at a portrait on the wall. Something is odd about it. A nanosecond later Caspian realises it’s reversed. He turns and slaps the mirror. “Bernice, watch out: that’s the demon! I’m trapped in the mirror.” Helpless, he watches her searching the room, doppelgänger in tow. They’re talking but Caspian can’t hear anything. Celia comes through the bedroom doors.

With a twitch of her wand Bernice paralyses the demon. It stares in horror as Celia sends a golden thread round its neck.

Bernice walks to the mirror; she’s almost crying with laughter. She stops, clutches her stomach and taps the glass. “Get out of there, moron. You fell for a child’s trick.”

How did you know it wasn’t me?” Caspian steps back into the room.

Because it wasn’t acting like an idiot or a wimp.” She stands on tiptoe and kisses the tip of his nose. “But it was the intelligent conversation that convinced me.”

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©Gary Bonn 2015

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Bernice and Caspian first meet as mutually contemptuous enemies in The Cross-dresser’s Habit. A wild ride through the paranormal.

CDH 207 x 331

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