Roan had never been in a police car before. He had mixed emotions that his first ride was not due to an arrest, but rather a mad dash to stop bent on destroying him and his town. It was an odd feeling.
Sheriff Dunn was at the wheel. Fires to sinkholes dotted the pavement. She did not allow herself to blink as they zipped to Grandpa Fletcher’s home.
“Is the road spewing lava over there?” Celia asked.
“It appears so,” Flint replied.
Roan admired the ability to quip at a time like this. He was marked for demon lunch and his cousins were practicing detached sarcasm.
“Guys,” Roan started. His tone was curter than he had intended, “here’s the plan. We have to get in, find every old book in the house, speed read every word and hope a demon summoned by our ancestors doesn’t eat us.”
He trailed off at the end of his statement as he realized the plan was terrible.
“I’ll take the really old books. I’m taking Latin right now.” Celia said.
“Latin?” Flint questioned her life choices.
“Mr. Belling always has Doritos in his room. You have to think these things through, Flint,” Celia explained herself.
The Sheriff laughed. Every time she pulled over the teacher there was a bag of nacho cheese chips in the passenger seat.
Thunder claps and lightning strikes were becoming more and more common as the car arrived at Grandpa’s house.
The screen door was hanging by a single hinge, kicked down by someone trying to enter the home in a hurry.
“Looks like we were not original in this idea,” Roan said. He looked over the door and the house’s entryway.
The rug that welcomed guests was covered in muddy footprints from a half dozen different shoes. Tables were turned over and closet doors were left wide open. The house was ransacked. Roan was losing hope they would find anything helpful.
“Yeah, I know a guy that can clean this up. Twenty bucks and he’ll have a shop vac over here in no time,” Celia said as she entered the house.
“You’re sixteen, Celia. You don’t know anybody,” Flint said.
She nodded in agreement.
Sheriff Dunn pulled service revolver and told the students to stay back as she conducted a quick search. The students fell silent and listened to the creaking floorboards under the Sheriff’s steps. The sheriff moved through the house, one room at a time, as silent as could be.
She called into the house, “This is Sheriff Dunn. If there is anyone presently in this house, identify yourself and walk to my voice.”
She called again.
No response. No footsteps. Not a single sound to indicate the house was still occupied.
“I think we’re clear kids. Let’s read,” the sheriff signaled.
The three students ran to different bookcases and began rummaging. The sheriff stood guard by a shattered window in the living room.
“Guys, we’re going to find out a lot about Grandpa we did not want to know,” Flint said as he pulled a magazine out of an encyclopedia.
“Just look for anything demonic or old,” Roan instructed.
“What is more old and demonic than an encyclopedia?” Flint countered.
“Guys, this book says Comesh,” Celia said.
“In Latin?” Flint asked.
Roan ran over to Celia and ripped the text from her hands.
“Sorry, but, you know, not really,” he said.
He looked over the text. It was parchment bound in a leather cover. The text was blurred and worn, but he could make out some symbols on the old paper. Celia had found his answers sitting on a bookshelf that also housed one of Grandpa’s moth eaten sweaters. He hoped one day he could laugh about that.
They needed to find a cauldron with a horned skull on it, a flower with eight points and a squared center, and a scepter according to the glyphs on the page.
“Where do we even start?” Flint asked.
“Should we split up?” Celia questioned.
The sheriff tapped the paper, “that scepter is in Judge Ansley’s chambers. We can get that quickly enough. That flower is found all over Route 4.”
“And the cauldron is at my house,” Roan said. His voice was soft, sad. “We use it as a Halloween decoration every year. The skull is not quite scary, but not quite cartoony. My dad says it is his favorite part.”
“Well, then we should get moving. Take Route 4 over to Roan’s house then hit the chamber,” Flint said.
“We need to find out where we’re taking everything though. If we had to be in that field to start the ritual we certainly have to be somewhere else to complete it,” Roan said.
As he spoke, the stairwell from the basement creaked and the only sound the four could hear was the thud, thud, thud of footsteps.
They were not alone in the house.