Empire State (Part 7 of 7): Escape
I broke from the reverie, heart beating faster, pulse raising. Sam was in danger. I could try and rush the bodyguards left to keep me here but there were two of them and one of me. They were also pretty big. Instead, I stood and took a circuit around the room, gathering lit candles from the holders that dotted the walls. I counted five. Placing them in the shape of a pentagram, I sat in the middle and, once more, closed my eyes. I took my mind back to the time in the meadow, the occasion Sam had disappeared. My eyes screwed up with effort, thinking, remembering, hearing Sam’s chanting. I could hear the words; just barely. But I could hear them.
The incantation was reaching its climax. The High Priest was in a fervour: reciting, chanting, hands waving rhythmically in the air like a conductor leading an orchestra. He reached down (the dagger had been laid on the floor). Picking it up, he held it high in the air. Any moment, it would come crashing into Sam’s chest. The prone victim started to lift up from the altar. Nobody noticed, what with eyes closed and concentrating. Sam looked like a crash test dummy, his body rigid. Only his eyes had control of movement. He was being kept in stasis by the power of Carter’s mind. Something else was now subverting this. He rose up like a mummy in some old, black and white B movie and felt feeling return to his limbs. Something unseen was pulling him up – quietly, unobtrusively. He slipped off the tableaux and onto the floor.
The two disciples with hands linked closest to the door felt something tug at their arms. The pull became stronger. Before they had time to think about resisting, the bond was broken. They looked at each other in shock and then turned. There had been nobody else in the room. No one. Like a shimmering haze turning solid, I appeared like a triumphant David Blane. I looked at them smiling, glancing at Sam.
“You coming or what?”
With that, Sam bolted for the newly created gap, running crazily, in fear of his life. We both crashed through the door, heading down the spiral staircase. Carter had realised what was going on by now.
As soon as the circle had been broken, the cloven demon had instantly vanished. The room became charged like an electric storm. Carter was wide-eyed, his face contorted with rage. No words were needed as the brethren present turned as one and scampered after us in chase.
Sam led the way as we barrelled along the corridor on the first floor. The grandiose staircase came into view. I trailed in my friend’s wake as he bounded down the stairs, taking steps two at a time. At the bottom were the bodyguards from the reception room. Sam carried on, piling into both as they all went flying in different directions. Whilst they were dazed, I grabbed Sam by the arm and pulled him to his feet. The sound of pursuers was loud with pounding noises on the steps from their cumulative clamour.
We were through the front door and out onto the gravel drive now. We made for Sam’s car. Opening the doors at speed, I jumped into the passenger seat while Sam fumbled into the driver’s side, groping for the ignition slot with his key. He found it and turned, slipping into first gear and engaging the accelerator at warp speed. The car lurched forward then stalled. Too hasty. Sounds came from the front door, angry acolytes chasing their prey. Sam tried again. Nothing. I glanced back through the rear view mirror and saw a myriad of legs and limbs charging towards us. The leader of the chasing pack (the swami) put his hand on my pane of car window; he looked wild-eyed and frantic. The engine gunned one more.
Finally, the motor pulled away and we were heading towards the electric gates and beyond. I started to panic, worrying that the exit would be closed, penning us in, cannon fodder for the lunatics behind. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, the sight of them wide open a relief. I could only think that either someone had forgotten to close them or it was anticipated that folks would be leaving shortly. Either way, I was grateful as the mansion disappeared from view as we progressed to the dirt track that led back to the main road. I could see the shining light of headlamps illuminating the forest all around. They were determined to catch us.
After what felt like an eternity, we made it to the B road with Tregatta to the south and Tintagel to the north. Getting back on the main drag was a huge relief, even with the knowledge that unsavoury elements were still close behind. It must have been another half an hour before either of us spoke. Sam drove like the wind, I rode shotgun keeping watch. After a while, we convinced ourselves that we had made it to dry land and the coast was clear.
“Well that was fine and dandy.” I remarked dryly. “The wheels came off well and truly, wouldn’t you say?”
Sam continued to stare ahead, the road lit by the beams from the headlamps.
“Yeah, that was a close one. You never do really know somebody.” He seemed far away as he spoke, almost trance like.
“On the upside, we’re still here. And still mates, I guess.” I’m not sure how convincing this sounded but Sam smiled.
“The old religion would welcome you, y’know. Then again, how about a game of cards and a bottle of scotch back at the ranch?
“Sounds good to me”
Back in the observatory, Carter is looking into his mirror. The magical mirror. He sees an old, green sports car cruising along, two young men inside chatting. It’s dark and light rain is falling. He glowers, taking a large book and opening it to a specific page. He notes the spell. Looking back at the road scene, he whispers. It sounds like “We will meet again.”
To anyone that’s followed this from the start – my eternal gratitude. This was only meant to be a two-parter but feedback on ABC (Drew has a lot to answer for) resulted in my going for the stretch. This is the result and at around 11,200 words, it’s far and away the longest thing I have written. It’s still short of the pages needed to make it to novella but I guess I have a draft to play with and change as necessary. Chapter 5 probably needs a rewrite.
There was a piece on here recently about all written works being derivative. This is no exception in that it is mainly influenced be Dennis Wheatley’s “A Devil Rides Out” from 1934. I was transfixed as a kid by his tales of the occult. Mr Carter is a nod to the antagonist “Mocata”. The book was turned into a Hammer horror in 1968 with Christopher Lee as the Duke re Richleau and Charles Gray as the sinister High Priest and is considered to be one of the movie stable’s best films.
Thanks again for following. It’s been a wild ride and writing a book takes application and discipline, two qualities I may eventually develop. In time.