The Parker Brothers: Nos Galan Gaeaf (Part IV of IV)
The boys were no strangers to the strange and unusual. They came by it honestly. Their father was a respected paranormal investigator and author of dozens of books on anagogic non-fiction. Sometimes it seemed like they’d been hunting ghosts since they’d first learn to walk. Finding themselves face to face with a preternatural sow, its eyes aglow with demonic hellfire, while disturbing, was far from abnormal. they were frightened, to be sure, but that was an emotion they had been trained to master. Keeping their wits about them, the Parker Brothers fanned out, ready to face the beast should it charge again.
Dale stood his ground, a trusted camp knife in one hand and a talisman in the other, a consecrated Cross of Lorraine he had received from one of his father’s confidants, the occult detective Landon Connors. Connors had called it a Checkmate Cross, assuring the boy that it was an ‘endgame’ talisman of protection, but not meant to be used lightly. “It’s as close to a tactical nuke as we’ve got on the prime material,” he’d said. “Use it wisely.”
Allen had armed himself with a stout tree branch, but was unnerved, it resembling his delusion falling his tumble down the hill. The boys had quickly come to terms with their mutual hallucinations. It was all witches work and while they had no experience in actually facing such a creature, they had received practical training and advice from their father and his allies. An entity like this was nothing to be trifled with and they had quickly determined that ‘getting out of Dodge‘ should be their top priority.
Now if only the sow would cooperate.
The black thing snorted, rutting into the ground, clawing at the moist soil with its cloven hoofs. The boys backed slowly away, as mindful of their surroundings as they could be, when Dale had an epiphany. He stared at the sow, then to the ground it was clawing, then back to the sow. His mind was racing.
“Allen?” he called out.
“Yeah,” his brother replied.
“Do you trust me?”
“Ah man,” Allen moaned, “whenever you ask that it means trouble. Usually for me.”
“All I want you to do is run,” Dale said. “Just run and keep on running. If I’m right, you’ll know when to stop.”
“And if you’re wrong?”
There was a long silence, then Dale said, “I love you, little brother.”
“Are you freaking kidding me?” Allen snapped. “Fine. When do you want me to bolt?”
“Now!” Dale screamed and Allen was taken aback. Tossing his stick into the creek bed, he took to flight, running east as fast as his feet would carry him. The sow took notice and galloped quickly after. Dale waited for the black beast to pass him, then clamored up the hill to where the sow had been clawing at the ground.
With his bare hands, Dale clawed at the mud, every once in a while looking up to see if he could see of hear his brother, but other than the sounds of something out there tearing through the brush, he was in the dark.
Then his hands wrapped around something solid and Dale drug it up into the campfire light.
In his hands was a skull, old and insect eaten. Cracks fissured across the cranium, and the empty sockets stared out with an unnatural sentience.
Dale shoved his sacred cross into a crack in the skull’s plate and paused over the fire. With a silent prayer he dropped the skull into the flames and held his hands up to the heavens as green fire erupted and rose into the All Hallow’s Eve sky. He felt like a conductor, weaving unheard music like an occult symphony of harmony and magic…
Then Dale heard heavy panting as the flames died down to a red and orange fire. Turning he saw his brother Allen, hands on his knees, gasping for air.
“Wh-what… did you…do?” the younger Parker asked.
“I laid the witch to rest,” Dale replied and the two boys walked off into the night.
The following Monday, before first bell, Dale Parker stood in front of his locker. Opening it slowly, a note lay there waiting for him.
Diolch ac hwyl fawr. Yr wyf yn
golygu unrhyw niwed i chi .
And while he appreciated the sentiment, he couldn’t help but wonder who, or what, had led him to that place, and why. Yes, they’d laid the witch to rest, but there were no answers to this mystery readily available and if there was one thing that got a Parker’s goat, it was that.
He closed his locker and walked toward first period Algebra, oblivious to the pretty freshman standing by the stairwell, her nose in Gruffydd’s Rhiannon: An Inquiry into the Origins of the First and Third Branches of the Mabinogi. Tracy Larson smiled and headed for Freshman English, hopeful that her sleepless nights would now be behind her.