Six edge-of-your-seat tales of the supernatural.
When a catastrophic invasion by elementals from “the other side” kills Oliver’s grandfather and leaves Oliver crippled, he chooses to dedicate his life to investigating other-worldly phenomena, especially the nature of elementals, the evil force which sent him on his life’s work.
“Can’t you see what you’re doing?” I screamed. Elementals massing. I knew, I knew the elementals were nearly strong enough now to enter from the other side. In vain I strained, powerless to move forward, wanting to disrupt their damnable chanting. I found I could retreat, though. So I left the room and took the steps three at a time. I thought of my grandfather successfully dispelling the spirits, but when I reached outside I felt helpless. My grandfather succeeded because he knew what to do. I knew nothing compared to him. My experience, my reading, had not prepared me for anything like this. I began screaming I know not what into the night. Suddenly, an enormous peal of thunder followed by another and another crashed about me. One jagged burst of vertical lightning stood in precarious balance atop the old house. Flames shot from the roof of the house as I watched. Dim, shadowy forms silhouetted by the brilliant flames swirled about the house. They were through! The elementals were through!
A moment of indiscriminate whirling of those forms about the housetop quickly turned into a concerted effort on their part to reach me. A horrible stench swept over me. I heard my name over and over, whispered, shouted, mumbled by these malignant, malevolent creatures. They knew me! They pushed, pulled, twisted, shoved, and spun me about. It felt as if every bone in my body exploded. My arms and legs bent into unimaginable, twisted contortions and always I heard their laughter, sensed their glee—the elementals’ joy at breaking through into our world; their joy at breaking me.
The fire in the old wooden house raged. The heat from this inferno added to my torture, and I lay in agony until the world quieted, and the storm passed.
People from town found me in a heap just outside the range of damage from the fire, barely conscious, mumbling incoherently. When my senses returned, I remember concerned, frightened eyes looking into mine. My mother’s. The first sound I remember hearing was her sobbing. I soon found out why. I was grotesquely crippled, yet none of the doctors could understand why. How could a fire do such a thing to me? But I knew. I knew but didn’t tell them. And I vowed never to forget.
A week later, bedridden though recovered enough to take some action, I asked for the newspapers immediately following my disaster. Switzer, the town librarian, dropped them off for me. The story of the fire and the eight bodies found in the ashes made page one of The Brunton Bulletin, but very few stories followed up on the disaster, and those that did added nothing to what I already knew. As time passed in my slow recovery, I browsed subsequent newspapers and the daily menu of horrors caught my eye. A maniac kills twelve people with a handgun. A plane plummets from the sky in India for no apparent reason, killing hundreds. A mother drowns her four children in a bathtub because the devil told her to. The elementals at work? How many had gotten through that awful night? How much prime malevolence entered the world with them? Once the elemental settled into a human host, limitless evil could result.
I made a solemn promise to myself, as I lay in my bed, to learn all I could, as my grandfather before me did, to understand and confront these forces whenever and wherever I found them, and having, according to the doctor, a full six months of recovery ahead of me and my grandfather’s library and private papers available to me, I vowed not waste a single moment.