“Nice place you have here,” She said as she took in everything. “Lots of space.”
“We do what we can, chere.” I answered.
We call it the Library/Study, but I’ve seen smaller museums. All kinds of books, mainstream to obscure to occult lined the shelves. The air was thick with the scent of leather, parchment and recently burned wood. There’s central heating, but we occasionally light a fire in the fireplace, just to give the room a cozier, homier feel. When I was younger, I loved to come here and get lost in the maze of shelves for hours with a good book and some much needed solitude. The memory made me smile.
“We ready, Gus?”
“In your time, Ronnie.” The portly young guy behind the camera said. My smile went away as reality reminded me why we were here.
Gus, the head cameraman, and a full crew milled about setting up lights, anti-sound buffers, signal jammers and applied make-up to record the one on one interview between me and Veronica Weathers, the host of the newsmag, Inside Copy.
The Elders Council set this up to educate the public about us, since a consult we had in Texas (A poltergeist at the Alamo. Don’t ask.) went pear shaped. I, as well as most of the Darquewatch, was against this. We’re an open secret and people tend to give us a little leeway, ‘cuz they know what we do and generally leave us alone. Only certain people knew about us outside of St. Al’s, so I didn’t see the point.
Unfortunately, my opinion didn’t line up with the Elders’.
I was told, since the Texas thing didn’t go down quietly and caused a bit of a panic, The Darquewatch had unexpectedly gone national and some quick damage control was necessary. Sapristi.
Ms. Weathers focused on me, her attention an almost physical force emanating from her bright, blue eyes. Blonde hair cascaded to her shoulders in carefully tousled waves, framing her face and softening the strong line of her jaw. I silently commended her make-up artist, ‘cuz she made her look so natural you’d think she didn’t have any on. She asked if I was ready.
As Gus counted down to one, she focused on the camera and said, “Good evening and thank you for joining me on Inside Copy. I’m Veronica Weathers.
“I’m in St. Alisdaire, Louisiana, home to a very strange, very different group of people. They call themselves the Darquewatch and for the past forty or so years, they’ve protected their hometown and the world from supernatural threats.
“I’m here with Rachelle Duplaix, the “Chieftain” of the group. Thank you for letting me and roughly a million viewers into your home.”
“You’re welcome, chere.” I answered.
“So, how did your group get started?” Weathers began. “I’m sure no one just wakes up one morning and says to their friends, ‘Let’s go fight evil.’”
“No, ma’am. “ I settled deeper into my chair. “In 2015, the Elders, the men who started the ‘Watch, were asked to build a seawall to protect the city from another hurricane like Minerva.”
“We didn’t see any additional seawall when we toured the city.” Weathers noted. “Did they actually construct it out of anything?”
“Yep. Inter-dimensional energy.” I answered simply. “The spell they used was disrupted and the wall became a dome that encased the entire city, but all the natural phenomena, air, weather and the like conducts through the shield, but in the event of a hurricane, it would harden and protect the city.”
“Oui, chere.” I smiled sweetly, trying for innocence. I may be short, light skinned and pretty, but most people don’t buy it. “The other, major side effect was that the Walls between Worlds were weakened and things from the Otherside are able to walk on this side of the veil.”
“How exactly did that happen?”
“I can’t go into details, but the spell was disrupted, which led to its current form.” I explained.
“So, what exactly do you all do? We’ve seen the Ghost Hunters, the Celebrity Ghost Stories, John Edwards’ My Little Ghost and Me that prove ghost sightings, but I’ve heard your organization actually remove ghosts.”
“Well, ghosts, cold spots and the like are basically recordings in the spirit world caused by powerful negative or positive emotions. They’re pretty easily dispelled.”
“You said recordings. Ghosts aren’t intelligent?” Weathers asked.
“More n’ likely, those were demons disguised as the person the people thought they were interacting with.”
“Demons?” she said, her tone thick with disbelief. “Miss Duplaix, It's 2054. There’s no such things as demons.”
I looked at her like she said she liked to tongue kiss horses. A bunch of responses, most of them rude came to mind, but I went the diplomatic route and asked if she was sure about that.
“What about all the documented exorcisms, video and eyewitness accounts?” I asked. “There are cases of demon possession, verified by the Catholic Church and other independent paranormalists, that not only prove that possessions are real but that demons do exist, chere.”
“Please, Miss Duplaix. I’ve investigated some supposed ‘possessions’ myself and they turned out to be elaborate fakes.”
Yeah, this was a great idea. Weathers was already so biased against anything supernatural, it would take an actual encounter for her to even begin to change her mind.
“There may be fakes, but that doesn’t mean the real ones don’t happen.”
“So you’ve seen demons, Miss Duplaix?”
“Yes.” I answered.
“And you’re not just pulling my leg or being sensational.”
I had to be careful. Miss Weathers was being very annoying and I have a very low tolerance for annoyance. “I’m not in the habit of doing that, Mam’selle.”
“So, by your criteria, if demons exist, then so do angels, werewolves, vampires, basically every creature from every horror story we’ve ever read about.”
“You’ve actually seen them.”
“How is it, you see them, but other people don’t?”
I sighed, wishing I was at home with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. “I’m a wizard.”
“Like Harry Potter or Harry Dresden?” she asked.
“Nope. They’re fictional. The reality is much more jarring.”
I paused for a moment. “Being a wizard is like being tuned into an HD radio feed: You’re privy to the World that exists behind this one and, in some ways, it’s more real.”
“But you if you can’t see hear or touch it, how can it be more real than the real world?”
“Because everything that’s seen was made by what isn’t seen.” I stated. “There wouldn’t be a computer if someone didn’t have the idea for a computer first, Mam’selle. Everything in the world was an idea or thought before it came to reality.”
“Not to be unprofessional, but that sounds like a lot of New-Agey, Cosmic Consciousness hooey.” Weathers said.
“It’s not.” I assured her. “It’s a spiritual principle as old as the world. Older even.”
I noticed the camera guy was tapping on the camera, like it wasn’t working well.
“Cut. Cut.” Gus the cameraman said.
“What’s wrong?” Weathers asked.
“Not sure. I was picking up some static in the feed and the buffers were going a little wonky.” He said as he opened up the camera. “Gimme a sec.”
I saw a ripple in the air above the sound buffers. I immediately started to breathe deeper and calm myself down or I was going to burn out their equipment.
See, adepts in the Art are conduits for magickal energies and it slightly increases the amount of Electromagnetic energy put out through our auras, making us walking EMP’s. So, we trade off being able to do miraculous things with affecting all the technology around us.
Fortunately enough, Kenny Djange, a member of my Response Team and our Man-Who-Knows, figured out how to move water in little pumps and lines through the machines and computers we use, since running water breaks down magickal energy. A few businesses in St. Al’s, mostly those members of the ‘Watch own or we frequent as employees, have Kenny’s pump set-up in their computers and such. None of the equipment Miss Weathers’ crew used did, so it was only a matter of time before I affected them.
Finally, Gus gave Weathers the thumbs up and our interview continued.
“So, us ‘Muggles’ can’t perceive this World behind the world, eh?” I ignored the bait. Some adepts may look down on normal folks, but that’s not how I was raised. I was also raised to not say ugly things about people, but in Ms. Weathers’ case, I was about to forget my upbringing.
“Normal, everyday people can’t, no. You either have to be born with a talent in the Art or trained to see it.”
“I see.” She said in a tone that clearly said she didn’t or even wanted to. “So, what happened in Texas? Was that a result of demonic activity?”
“No, Mam’selle. Someone disturbed an ancient Native American burial site and woke up a very angry poltergeist.”
“You mean like the old Spielberg film?”
“Well, without the special effects budget, but yeah, very similar.” I said.
“How did your group stop the poltergeist?”
“We found the mass grave, which happened to be under the Alamo, salted the bones and burned them. Unfortunately, a portion of the building got burned as well.”
“So, the Darquewatch, admittedly, put innocent lives in danger to stop a ‘poltergeist’? Weathers actually did the quotation marks with her hands when she said poltergeist.
After a deep breath and a quick count to ten, I said, “You can ask the three hundred plus people being attacked by swords, chairs, and the like if the poltergeist was real or not.”
“We tried, but no one came forward and the reps from the Alamo are keeping mum except to say the Darquewatch organization did a great service for them.” Thank God for that. It probably helped that we paid for all of the damages.
“So danger is a normal, everyday thing for all the members of the Darquewatch?” Weathers asked.
“To an extent, yes.” I responded. My stomach buzzed with a cold feeling. She was leading up to something I was sure I wasn’t going to like. “Mostly, the Response Teams, but given what we do, all of us have targets painted on our backs.”
“Is that what happened to Alastaire Johannson? Someone took their shot and hit a bulls-eye?”
“No comment.” I spat. My throat started to hurt and I felt tears rising in my eyes. Al dying was a sore spot and being blindsided with that made me angry. I latched onto the anger and let it burn away the tears.
“Eyewitness accounts place you at the house on David Street along with Mr.Johannson and a Rhiannon Blanchard.” Weathers continued. “How did Alastaire die, Miss Duplaix?”
The images from that terrible day came back with a vengeance. We beat the creature inside the house, even though we had to burn it down to do it. Al made sure Rhiannon and I got out as he covered the rear. We thought we were home free. Then a tentacle from the creature grabbed Al and pulled him back into the flames…
One of the techs yelped as all the buffers started to smoke, spark and burn before ultimately failing.
“What’s going on with the equipment?” Weathers snarled.
“I don’t know.” Gus said as they grabbed extinguishers and put out the flames.
“Are the cameras working, at least?”
“Yeah,” Gus answered. “We’ll just have some more ambient noise in the background. I can fix it in Post.”
Weathers paused for a moment. She probably sussed out I wasn’t going to say anything about what happened. It would make for juicy news, but I’m not putting my private pain on blast for her and the world to see or know about. I think she also saw that it wasn’t good to make a wizard angry. As annoying as Weathers was, I had to admit a grudging respect for her. She did her homework.
“Okay, let’s switch gears,” She said. “Rhiannon Blanchard used to be a part of the Darquewatch until a couple of years ago, right?”
“She currently runs a paranormal investigation firm called Tartarus?”
“As I understand it, the both of you used to be on the same Response Team and best friends besides. What happened?”
“Jealousy.” I responded. “I was voted in a Chieftain when my Mother died…”
“Mother.” I corrected her. I stabbed her with an angry glare and said, “Sarai De la Cruz was more a mother to me than my birth mother and that’s all I’m sayin’ about the subject, Mam’selle.”
“As I was saying, Rhiannon wanted to be Chieftain so when I got the position, she got pissed and we fell out as friends.”
“So, Tartarus is a direct competitor then?”
I grinned. “They’re in the same business, but they’re no competition, if you get my meaning.”
“And the fact that two members of the Darquewatch defected to Tartarus is no reason for alarm?”
“No. The people who left had just reached the age to decide how they’d contribute to the Darquewatch,” I explained. All of which was straight up semantics, but I had to deflect it somehow.
“Miss Duplaix, in your opinion, does your organization make any difference in the lives of the people of St. Alisdaire?” Weathers asked. No doubt she’d seen all the archived video, read the eyewitness accounts and talked to Lt.James Lefler, the current head of S.A.P.D.’s Supernatural Crimes Unit and James Pascoe, who relinquished the job to Lefler. None of it mattered. Miss Weathers was like Thomas the Disciple: She wouldn’t believe until she experienced it firsthand.
Then an idea plopped into my mind. As it settled and sunk in, I started to smile.
“Tell you what…,” I began. “…We got a call earlier about a possible possession. How about you and your cameraman Gus come along with us tonight and you can answer the question for yourself.”
Miss Weathers smiled and said, “You’re on, Miss Duplaix.”
Ironically enough, Veronica Weathers ended up getting possessed. But that’s another story.