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Thursday, August 22, 2013

ZOMBIES: Read an excerpt from 'Alamo Rising', the latest from ZombieBloodFights.com

GHOST HUNTERS FALL ASS-BACKWARDS INTO A CLANDESTINE CONSPIRACY
by
Bowie V. Ibarra



Here is an excerpt from the latest ZombieBloodFights.com title, 'Alamo Rising'.  It's a supernatural horror story about a team of ghost hunters who unwittingly become embroiled in a dark and sinister plot against the city of San Antonio, Texas.

Check out the excerpt here, and grab a copy for yourself in paperback or kindle here.


ALAMO RISING

BY

BOWIE V. IBARRA        


With a forward by ERIC S. BROWN

 

ALAMO RISING


 


A ZombieBloodFights.com book


Published by arrangement with the author


This book is a work of fiction.  People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.


Copyright 2011, 2013 Bowie V. Ibarra and ZombieBloodFights.com.  All Rights Reserved.


No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author and publisher.


 

This story is dedicated to Daniel Cohen, whose ‘encyclopedias’ about Ghosts, Monsters, and other myths enthralled me as a child and sparked my imagination as I prepared for a life as a parapsychologist, just like the Ghostbusters.

 To Bo Woodman and Holly Ann Kasprzak.  Your help and opinions are treasured immensely.

 To Celeste Dillon, whose true-life ghost hunting advice helped create segments of this story.  And likewise, to the ghost-hunting community.


 To all my family, fellow writers, and friends that always supported me no matter what: Thank you.


 And to all my readers, new and old, thank you for giving my works a chance.



I Hate Ghosts


By


Eric S Brown


 


            When Bowie Ibarra asked me to write an introduction to this book I was both stunned and honored.  I’ve read Bowie’s work since I first became a writer myself.  The very first published edition of Down the Road sits between David Moody’s Autumn and Len Barnhart’s Reign of the Dead in my vast collection of zombie books.  Bowie is a writer who has proven not only that he can relate a great and entertaining story to his readers but also make that story fun and intense as only he can. 


 


None the less, I scratched my head.  Given this book’s subject matter, why me?  I am pretty open in my hatred of all things ‘ghost’.  Unlike my wife, who is a big believer, I just can’t bring myself to seriously consider this particular staple of the horror world’s existence.  Bigfoot?  Oh yeah, count me in.  Aliens?  They’re out there man.  Yetis?  Dude, they’ll rip out your entrails and have them as a snack.  But ghosts?  Nah.  Ghosts are nothing more than electro-magnetic disturbances, lingering psychic residue from powerful or terrible events where the energy released continues to hang around for a while, or simply stories told like myths to explain things we can’t understand. 


 


When I think of writers out there putting pen to paper about ghosts, Bowie does not leap to my mind.  I think of the likes of Stacey Graham and her Ghost Hunting Guide for Girls.  But perhaps that is exactly why Bowie asked me.  Alamo Rising may indeed be a book about ghosts but it’s on a whole other level than things like Ghosthunters or Straub’s Ghost Story.  This book, like a good Fulci film, puts the hammer to the floor with its climax and leaves the reader breathlessly going “Wow! That was awesome”. 


 


Along the way to that climax, Bowie presents deeply woven characters that one can’t help but become taken by.  For those of you who do believe in phantasmal creatures, Alamo Rising delivers with suspense, terror, and all those creepy things you guys dig so much.  For folks like me, I think you’ll find you will be equally impressed.  This book, like The Fog, The Supernaturals or Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, delivers action, gore, and an ending that even us monster folk will relish in.  As a bonus, you get Bowie’s characteristic style and some cool pop culture references that will make you smirk. 


 


So whether you’re a ghost fan or not, stop reading my sad ramblings here and tear into Alamo Rising because as always Bowie will not let you down with his latest novel of terror. And from now on, when I think of ghost books, the name Bowie Ibarra will come to mind as well.  If Mr. Ibarra can win over an anti-ghost guy like me, well. . .enough said.


 


=== Eric S Brown, Author of the Bigfoot War series, the A Pack of Wolves series, The Crypto-Squad series, and comic book scribe (currently scripting the adventures of the superhero team The Stormchasers and the Unstoppable Origins title for Unstoppable Comics).

PROLOGUE – THE BATTLE OF THE ALAMO


 


            Blood-bathed bodies blessed the brown dirt and green grass in and around the Alamo amid the cruel blasts of gunfire and cannonade of the soon-to-be legendary conflict.  The hand of death was baptizing the land with the warm, sacred crimson lifeforce of the warring soldiers.  Bodies began to stack upon bodies.  Some were still groaning in pain, missing limbs.  Some had portions of their heads blasted away.  Some were cut in half by cannon fire.  Streams of life were flowing from gaping and fatal wounds.

            The Mexican soldiers forced the hand of the Texicans defending the sacred building on the 13th day of the siege.  Now, the fires of liberty burning in the hearts of the defenders of the Alamo were scorching their souls as they fought to the death, resigned from the start of the siege to make the ultimate blood sacrifice to defend what they thought was right in the fiery core of the cruel hellscape.

            “Hold this wall!” yelled the tall volunteer from Tennessee.  His signature coonskin hat had been lost only moments before, replaced by a sweaty brow and mussed hair.  His hardy team of defenders was dropping in numbers to the gunfire, bayonets, and cannonade of the forces of Santa Anna.

            As the onslaught of Mexican soldiers closed in on yet another wall, two defenders looked at each other.  They nodded.  Both fired at the storming Mexicans before rising and leaving their post, running off together.

            “Flores!  McKinney!  Where are you going?” yelled the tall Tennessee volunteer, watching the two conspirators run away.  “Get back here, you cowards!” he yelled in anger as a small group of Mexican soldiers breached the abandoned wall.

            Alejandro Flores and Marshall McKinney ran to the chapel in the middle of the Alamo grounds.  Before they reached the wall of the chapel, they watched as one of the barricades were demolished by the Mexican forces.

            The two raced to a set of barrels, passing scrambling defenders, women, and children.  They fell to their knees, pulling out two separate and different objects.

            “Are you ready?” asked Marshall, pulling out a small music box.

            “Yes,” said Alejandro, retrieving an ancient charm from his pocket.  Its carved stone suggested Aztec or Mayan origin.

            They reached down to a Masonic amulet hanging down from their respective necklaces, pulling their individual charms to their lips and kissing them.  The shouts of Mexican soldiers grew louder, melding with the cries of the dying.

            The two men placed their charms in a pre-set wooden chest in a hole they had dug days before.  Marshall pulled out a letter, folded and sealed with wax, and placed it in the chest.  They both pulled out their knives.

            “Dear Lord,” Marshall began, pulling out a knife, “bless this day with the promise of your furious vengeance.  May you smite those that defile your land with the souls of the men whose blood now graces our temple.”

            Though the prayer initially sounded like an homage to the Christian God, their appeal was to the most unholy of spirits.

            Death.

            The two men made their blood sacrifice, cutting the palms of their hands with the blades.  They held their sliced hands over the objects and allowed the blood to flow over them.  The clenched their fists, squeezing blood from the wounds.  The hot fluid suddenly sizzled against the charms, and black smoke rose from the chest, a supernatural sign that their unholy curse was cast.

            The two conspirators closed the lid of the chest before allowing their bloody hands to christen the box with their red lifeforce as well.

            Trae su venganza con la música de este jugete,” said Alejandro, touching the music box Marshall had retrieved.  “Ahora y para siempre,” he said, placing the malevolent and eternal revenge curse on the device.  They opened the chest again and placed the music box inside along with the other objects.

            Bullets whizzed around their heads as they covered the chest with dirt, hiding the object and ending their ritual.  Dirt and blood caked on their sliced hands, sullying the handles of the shovels with their blood.

            The two men shook sanguine hands, blood brothers, before rising to their feet again.  The cries of the dying mixed with the shouts of the desperate grew louder.  The Mexicans were breaking the walls on all sides.

            The tall Tennessee leader was falling back with the remnants of his team as Felipe and Marshall rejoined them temporarily.

            “Vengeance will be ours, Mr. Crockett,” shouted Marshall, running headlong into the storming Mexican soldiers.

            ¡Tejas para siempre!” yelled Alejandro, running side-by-side with Marshall into the fray.  With fists flying and knives flashing at the burst of gunfire, the two sliced and punched their way into the mass of soldiers with an unholy fury.  Blood splashed on their faces as they took out as many Mexicans as they could.

            “Good Lord,” whispered Crockett as he opened fire on the group of Mexicans stunned by the audacious attack of the two unholy conspirators.

            Crockett led the remnants of his team to the doors of the chapel, passing the covered ground where the men had buried their curse.  As the team regrouped for their last stand, Alejandro Flores and Marshall McKinny, a Texican and a Tennessee volunteer, were cut down savagely with gunfire before being run through multiple times by bayonets.  Their bodies were trampled by the Mexican soldiers, who were flowing into the Alamo grounds like a cattle stampede.

            The sacrifice of the two disciples of death gave Crockett precious few moments to move his team to their last stand where they would meet their destiny in the fire and blood of the Alamo.

_@_


1.       SAN ANTONIO – 2010

 


“… and as we all know, the defenders of the Alamo did not make it out alive.  Santa Ana had their bodies burned…”

“Tory, how many times do I have to hear the story of the frikkin’ Alamo?”

“We’re Texans, Kim,” whispered Tory, her friend.  “The Alamo is in our DNA.”

Kim Hawkins and Toribio ‘Tory’ Jiménez had been taking notes in their Texas history class.  Mr. Hawthorne was passionate about history, especially tales of the Lone Star State.  The eighty-three-year-old professor beamed when talking about the story of the Alamo.  His enthusiasm rubbed off on his students.  Except for Kim.

“Give me the cattle drives,” groaned Kim.  “Give me the Indians.  Give me the Aztecs or Mayans, for crumb sake.  Just, please, no more Alamo.”

Ya, cálmate, Kim,” chuckled Tory.

“Tory,” called out Professor Hawkins, “Is the lecture not interesting enough for you?”

“Sorry, Mr. Hawthorne,” said Tory.

Kim groaned, pulling out her cellphone.  Holding it under her desk, she looked down as subtly as possible and wrote a text message.  She sent it to Tory.

It read:  I need a beer

Tory’s phone buzzed.  He knew enough to keep his phone on silent.  He pulled it from his pocket and read the text.  He looked at Kim and smiled.

He sent a text back to Kim:  Let’s go to Pat Finleys

Kim read the text and smiled as Mr. Hawthorne gave the assignment.

_@_

            The University of Texas at San Antonio was located near downtown S.A.  Though parking was just across the street from the main building, Kim and Tory thought it would be easier just to take the bus to the bar.  It would be cheaper than parking downtown.  After they put their books away in their cars, they paid their fare and hopped on a bus.

            Conversation was light until Kim brought up something curious.

            “Did you know San Antonio is the second most haunted city in the U.S.?”

            “Really?” said Tory.  “What city got number one?”

            “New Orleans.”

            “I could see that,” said Tory as they drove past Mi Destino restaurant.

            “Now that would be an interesting topic in class,” said Kim.

            “What?  Ghosts?”

            “Yeah.”  Kim smiled.  Her full lips spread across her freckled face.  “Like, a ghost hunting class, or a ghosts and legends class.”

            “There are a buttload of Texas ghost stories, though,” said Tory.

            “A lot of them are here in this town,” she said, indicating the city just outside the windows of the bus.

            “I don’t know about ghosts and ghost stories,” said Tory.

            “What do you mean?  You don’t believe in ghosts?”

            “Well, it just all seems like stories people make up for fun,” said Tory.  “You know, to scare people by the campfire.  Kind of like an oral tradition passed down through the years.”

            “But you don’t think oral traditions and stories, ghost stories, have some element of truth to them?” asked Kim.

            “Well, yeah, but by the time it gets to be told, what’s the truth and what’s being exaggerated?”

            Kim shrugged as the bus paused on Houston St.  “You start with where the story is and go backwards.”

            “Make connections, but that’s a lot of digging.”

            The bus revved up as Kim replied, “If you want the truth, sometimes you have to dig.”

            “Buried in the sands of time,” said Tory, waxing poetic.

            “Exactly like that,” said Kim, smiling.

            They looked out on their city, a metropolis of great Mexican food, music, and art.

            Then Kim had a thought.

            “Hey, Tory. Why don’t we form our own ghost-hunting group?  You and me?”

            “Ghost hunting?” said Tory.

            “Yes,” said Kim with a sly smile.

            “In San Antonio?”

            “Anywhere,” she replied.  “Everywhere.”

            Tory smiled, sighing.  “Will there be beer?”

            “If you join, I’ll make sure there’s beer,” she said, chuckling.

            “Then consider me in,” said Tory with a smile.  He offered his hand, and Kim shook it back to seal the deal.

            The bus arrived at a stop near a bustling downtown spot near Rivercenter Mall and the Alamo itself.  As the two contemplated their secret team handshake, they stepped off the bus.

            “You know,” said Tory, “It’s just so strange, in a way.  Walking here by this place where hundreds, hell, thousands died and spilled their blood for our state.”

            “Oh, God,” groaned Kim.  “Not another Alamo story.”

            “Well, seriously,” said Tory, indicating the shops and tourists who patronized the stores.  “Look around.  People, many years ago, died for our state here.  Their blood ran where these streets are, on the ground.  Just a massacre.  Slaughtered.  And we honor them here with a 3-D Mine Shaft ride?” he said, pointing to the amusement ride in a building directly across from the Alamo.  “Kind of rude.”

            “I’ve never even been in the Alamo,” stated Kim.

            “Wait.  What?” asked Tory, dumbfounded.

            “Seriously,” she said.  “I’ve lived in this city all my life, and I’ve never been to the Alamo.”

            Tory shook his head, taking Kim by the hand.  “Come with me,” he said.

            “What are you doing?”

            “I’m taking you to the Alamo,” he said.

            Kim chuckled.  “What?”

            “I’m taking you to the Alamo.”

            Kim started laughing.  “Tory, I don’t want to go to the Alamo.  I hate the Alamo.”

            “Dammit, Kim,” said Tory with playful intensity.  “No friend of mine is going to call themselves a Texan without going to the Alamo.”
            “Okay, okay,” she groaned with a smile.  Tory was funny, and always good for a laugh.  His brown baby face and glasses gave him a nerdy charm.  She liked him.

            As they walked onto the Alamo grounds, a young man approached him.

            “Have you two been saved?”

            The comment surprised the two friends.  “Wh...what?” asked Tory.

            “Are you two living your life for Jesus?” he asked with a smug smile.

            “I’m Catholic,” said Tory.

            “Baptist,” said Kim.

            The man handed them a small pamphlet.  “That’s great, but are you living your life for Jesus?”

            Tory looked at the pamphlet.  On the cover was an illustration of the Alamo sitting in a pool of blood.  Over the Alamo was an image of Jesus, holding his hands benevolently outward.  Beams of light emanated from behind his head.  A caption read: Are you ready for your last stand?

            “Yes, man,” said Tory, turning and moving away.

            “Of course you are,” said the man, lacing his words with condescension.  He followed Tory and Kim, looking at the two suspiciously.  “Follow His word, or when His reckoning arrives, you will be lost forever.  Only His word will save you.”

            “Okay.  Thank you,” said Tory, walking away.

            “What’s your name?” asked Kim.

“Peter,” he replied.

“Peter.  How appropriate.  Thank you, Peter,” said Kim with a ‘rasberry’ and middle finger.  “Now get away from me.”

            “God’s vengeance will claim you,” he called out.

            “Not if it claims you first, mister,” Kim replied.

            “C’mon, Kim,” said Tory, pulling her away.

            “But seriously, what was that all about?” asked Kim.

            “Just, whatever, c’mon,” said Tory.

            The line to enter the Alamo was not too long for Friday.  The pair took their place in the queue. 

            “How much does it cost?” asked Kim.

            “It’s like a state park, so it’s free,” Tory replied.

            “How long is the tour?” asked the person in front of them.

            “It’s not even twenty minutes,” said Tory.  Then he asked the strangers, “Is this your first time here?”

            “Yes,” they said.

            “Where’d ya’ll come from?” asked Kim.

            “Toledo,” they said.

            “See?” said Tory to Kim.  “People come from as far as Toledo to pay homage.”

            Kim turned to the tourists.  “It’s my first time, too.”

            “She’s lived here for twenty-four years and she’s never been here,” said Tory.

            Kim slapped his arm.  “Stop it,” she said, playfully.

            “Today, you get your Texas card,” said Tory.  “You’ll be a card-carrying Texan after this.”

            After only a few minutes of waiting in line, they reached the front door.  Tory pointed out a plaque on the outside wall next to the door.

            “Check this out,” he said, reading the text as Kim looked on. ““Be silent friend.  Here heroes died to blaze a trail for other men.””

            “I know, I know,” groaned Kim.

            “Did you know they say there’s ghosts here?” said Tory.

            “Really,” said Kim sarcastically.  “What did I say earlier?  The Alamo and all the battles in this city help make it the number two city, remember?”

            “Number two,” chuckled Tory.  “Like going poopy.”

            Kim started laughing.  “No, stupid.  You know what I mean.  Ghosts.”

            “Oh, yeah.  Number two haunted city.”

            They walked to the doors and into the historic monument.  As they stepped into the edifice, Tory bumped into a park ranger, who was walking out.

            “Excuse me Ranger…” Tory read his badge.  “Ranger Rick.”  He chuckled.  “You’re Ranger Rick?  Like the kids magazine?”

            Kim stifled a giggle, and so did Tory.  The man glared at them as he walked past the two.

            “That was his real name.  Ranger Rick.  He was Ranger Rick,” said Tory.

            “Shh,” said Kim, smiling.  “Just go in.”

            The two looked into the building.  From the front doors, there was a large open space filled with tourists meandering through the building.  Flags stood tall in posts, lined up against the wall. Ribbons hung from the flags with numbers.  A cannon stood alone in a nook right by the door.

            Kim looked at a statue, pointing and asking, “Who’s that?”

            “St. Anthony,” said Tory.  San Antonio.”

            Kim examined all the flags.  “What are all these flags here for?”

            An elderly woman approached Kim to answer her.  “Ma’am, those are the flags of the states and countries of the people who fought and died here.  The name of the country or state is listed on the ribbon above the flag.  The number represents the number of people who sacrificed their lives for our state.”

            Kim gulped.  “Wow.”

            She examined the flags closer.  “Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Scotland… Scotland?  Really?”

            “Yup,” said Tory.  “Ireland and England, too.”

            “There were even soldiers from Spain and Denmark, too,” said the lady.  “People from all over the country and the world fought and died here.  A tremendous sacrifice.”

            “Wow,” said Kim again.  She was beginning to feel the depth of the battle and sacrifice made.  “Wow,” she said again.

            “Come check this out,” said Tory, leading Kim to a large standing display case.

            The glass display case was set on a table near a wall in a back corner of the room.  It was set up so people could walk around the large case and see the details of the model inside.

            “The battle of the Alamo,” said Tory, presenting the case to Kim.  “In a miniature model.”

            “Oh, wow,” said Kim.  She examined the model.  “So, we’re here,” she said, pointing to the interior area of the Alamo model.

            “That’s right.  Check it out,” said Tory, indicating another section of the large model.  “There are the breaches there, where the Mexicans came in.  And there.”

            “Man,” said Kim.  “Bad news,” she commented, looking at the number of small model Mexican soldiers that outnumbered the defenders of the Alamo.  “Bad news,” she said again.

            As Kim’s eyes wandered, she noticed something subtly hidden behind a set of flags.  As she looked closer, she noticed it was a small display case.

            “Hey, what’s that?” she asked, pointing.

            Tory followed her gaze and her finger and asked, “Where?”

            “Behind the flags.”

            It took Tory just a few moments to find what she was pointing at.  But he saw it.

            “Hmm,” mumbled Tory.  “Dunno.  Let’s check it out.”

            The two walked through the scattered tourists and made their way to the case.

            It was a glass case posted against the wall in a back corner.  Partially hidden by the flags, it was inconspicuous enough to be ignored by virtually everyone in the space, but it was hidden in such plain sight that anyone who was paying attention could see it and observe its contents.

            Kim and Tory walked up to it as several tourists stepped away from the box, completely oblivious to its existence.  The duo looked at the items encased reverently in the case.

            “What are they?” asked Kim.

            “Hmmm,” was all Tory could give as a response.

            “Well, c’mon, Alamo know-it-all.  What do we got here?”

            “Looks like relics from the battle,” theorized Tory.  “That’s weird, though, because they have some relics like these in the building next door.  I wonder why these are set up here.”

            Kim shrugged.  “Something special, or something.”

            The case held a mix of items.  A small plaque read that the objects were on the battlefield at the Alamo all those years ago.

            “Chalk from a child’s blackboard tablet,” said Kim, reading a description inscribed near the relics.

            “The iPad of the 1800’s,” said Tory.

            “Good one,” said Kim.

            “A folded flag,” said Tory.

            “Bullets, a cannonball, a medal,” said Kim, reading along.

            “Dirt.  Dirt?” asked Tory, observing a bottle labeled as such.

            The two looked at each other, puzzled.  Tory crossed his eyes.  Kim giggled.

            Looking back at the mysterious display, they saw the numbers ‘12’ and ‘13’.

            “What is this?” asked Tory, puzzled.

            “Let’s find out,” said Kim, turning to one of the guides.  She patted the guide on the arm and said, “Excuse me, what is the significance of this display?”

            The guide, an elderly but spry woman, gladly replied, “It’s a set of relics from the battle donated to the city many years ago.”

            Kim noticed her nametag.  It read: Patricia Mitchell.  Below her name, it read: Daughters of the Alamo.

            “Who donated them?” asked Tory.

            “No one knows,” replied Patricia.  “They are legitimate relics.  But no one knows why they are here, who donated them, or where they came from.  Just wild rumors.”

            “And what are those?” asked Tory.  “The rumors?”

            Patricia played it off.  “Just rumors.”

            The two friends looked at the case again.  It had two hinges and a latch with a lock on either end.

            “Someone paid for the case and the installation,” said the guide.  “It’s just one of those curious little mysteries of the Alamo.”

=  =  =

            The sunny spring afternoon was giving way to the night as Tory and Kim strolled from the Alamo to Pat Finley’s Irish Pub.  They passed Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Wax Museum.  They considered buying a raspa from a street vendor, but didn’t think it was worth paying five dollars for it.  The souvenir shops they passed sold various sundries as ponchos, souvenir Alamo shirts, zarapes, and sombreros.

            “Check that out,” said Tory, pointing at a shirt that said Tú eres un pendejo with a translation under it saying, incorrectly, You are my friend.

            “That’s not what that means,” chuckled Kim, knowing enough Spanish to understand it was a funny insult.

            She then saw another one.  “Check that one out,” she said, pointing. 

            The shirt read, Relax, gringo.  I’m legal.

            Tory laughed.  “That’s a good one.  Good one.”

            The colorful stores all had their variation of souvenir and clever shirts, blankets, pictures of Mexican revolutionaries Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, and even lucha libre masks.  If it was a kitschy Mexican item, these stores had them in spades.

            They walked up to Pat Finley’s where Kim groaned, “Beer, here I come.”

            The duo walked in and were immediately greeted with a friendly welcome.

            “Kim!  Tory!  What’s going on, ya’ll?” asked the bartender.

            “Texas history over beers,” Kim replied.

            The bartender chuckled as he tugged at the nearby tap, drawing a beer into a chilled glass that the duo usually ordered: Lone Star Beer.

            “It’s the best way to study Texas history, Brant,” said Tory.

            “Or do just about anything in Texas, in general,” Brant stated.

            “Football, baseball, soccer,” said Kim.  “Movies at Alamo Drafthouse,” she said, name-dropping the maverick Texas movie chain.

            “Pro-wrestling, flat-track roller derby, money fights in a back alley,” chimed in Tory.

            “Needlepoint, crochet, poetry,” teased Brant, handing them their beers, which they gladly accepted with a laugh at his comment.

            “I bet Joe Lansdale has thrown back a beer or two when he writes,” said Kim.

            “Whatever works,” said Brant as Kim and Tory raised their beers.

            “A toast,” said Tory.  “To the heroes of the Alamo.  If it weren’t for them, we’d be drinking Corona right now.”

            “You can still drink Corona,” said Brant.

            “Let me rephrase that, then,” said Tory.  “We would be drinking Corona from the draft now,” chuckled Tory.

            Kim and Tory toasted and took a swig.

            “Corona’s not so bad,” said Brant.

            “There’s better Mexican beer, though,” stated Tory.  “Like Bohemia or Superior.”

            “Indio is good, though,” said Kim.  “And Victoria is good, too.”

            “What about Carta Blanca?” asked Brant.  “Or Modelo Especial?”

            “Two thumbs up,” said Tory.
 

            “You alkies,” chuckled Brant.

            “Thanks for enabling us, Brant,” said Kim with a smile.

            “You guys are out of control,” said Brant with a smirk, moving to wash some glasses.

            “Hey, Brant,” said Tory.  “We’re putting together a ghost hunting group.  You want to join?”

            “I don’t believe in ghosts,” said Brant, shrugging.

            “Really?” said Kim.  “I think there’s something to it.”

            “I’m not a ghost atheist or anything,” said Tory.  “Just like a ghost agnostic.”

            “I’m a ghost atheist,” said Brant.  “Maybe when I was a kid, but not anymore.”

            “Well,” said Kim.  “We’re just getting it started anyway.  Maybe when we get bigger, you can join.”

            “What’s the name of this team, this super-team?”

            Kim looked at Tory, who shrugged.

            “Well,” said Kim, “we haven’t thought of that just yet.”

            “How about the Ghost Hunters?”

            “Those people on TV already have that one,” said Kim.

            “Well,” said Tory.  “What about the Ghost Hunters of San Antonio?”

            “Or,” Kim interjected,” we can just do away with the ‘hunters’ and be like ‘Ghost Team of San Antonio’.”

            “Or league?” said Tory.

            “Society,” said Brant.  “The Ghost Society of San Antonio.”

            “Ooooooh,” said Tory and Kim at the same time.

            “I like it,” said Kim.

            “That’s the name,” stated Tory.  “That’s definitely the name.”

            “A toast,” said Kim.  Tory promptly picked up his glass yet again.  “To the Ghost Society of San Antonio.  May we progress the further education and discovery of ghosts in our community.”

            “Educate ghosts?” asked Tory.

            “Shut up,” chuckled Kim.  “You know what I mean.”

            Tory chortled with Kim.  “To the GSSA.  Salud.”


2.       THE ENTERPRENEUR

 

“I need to speak with Mr. Belmont Smith, please.”

“Mr. Smith is unavailable right now.”

“I need you to make him available right now.”

Prescott Madison had all the charm of the New York politician he used to be.  Strong, intelligent, and rich, Prescott was used to getting what he wanted.  His blonde female assistant, clad in a business pant suit and standing by his side, was used to doing what she was told.

This lady behind the desk was not.  At least not by Prescott.

“Mr. Smith is not taking visitors at the moment,” the secretary replied.  She was unaccustomed to discussions like these, but was still no stranger to them.  Her dark eyes glared at Mr. Madison behind black horn-rimmed glasses under dark hair.

“What is your name, ma’am?”

“Judy.”

“Judy, my name is Prescott Madison.  Within the next few days, I’m going to be your boss.  So if you want to keep your job when I become your new boss, I suggest you make it happen right now.”

His tone of voice almost made the young secretary cry.  It reminded her of the days when her father scolded her in her youth.  It was so demanding, so strong, she felt somehow demeaned.  She looked at Prescott, then his assistant, who gazed at her with a smug grin.  The blonde didn’t laugh, but Judy could sense the lady wanted to.

Judy gave in.  She dialed up her boss.

“Mr. Smith,” she said into the phone.  She didn’t expect to be slightly choked up when she spoke.  She cleared her throat and said, “You have visitors.”

Prescott and the assistant turned away for a moment to let the wheels turn.  They looked upon the walls of the office.  It was Belmont Smith’s personal wall of fame.  Newspaper clippings throughout the years were testaments to Smith’s financial success.  A clipping of a groundbreaking ceremony in the ‘60s.  A ribbon cutting in the ‘70s.  A party from the ‘80s.  A check delivered to a children’s home.  Another check delivered to a battered women’s shelter.  Yet another philanthropic donation to an animal clinic.  A photo-op handshake with the mayor in the ‘90s.  Smith’s pride in his business endeavors knew no bounds.

There was even a plaque with a compass and t-square on the wall.

“And he’s a mason,” said the blonde woman.

“Hmph,” grunted Prescott, nodding his head.

The duo could hear a curt response from the other side of the phone line as they examined the accomplishments of Smith.  Judy’s reply was simply, “Prescott Madison.”

The pause in the conversation could be felt by the duo, who turned and grinned at each other.  That’s when Judy hung up the phone.

“You can go in,” she said.  She subconsciously raised her shoulders and tucked her neck, like a dog that had been disciplined with a rolled up newspaper.

Prescott and his personal assistant and legal councilor walked into Smith’s office.

There was no warm greeting from Belmont Smith as the duo walked into the room.  Instead, cold words were exchanged.

“I told you never to come back here,” said Belmont.  His cold, old blue eyes glared at Prescott.  The vein in his forehead became prominent under his aged skin.  “What do you want?”

“I need you to sign these papers, delivering all your Riverwalk properties to Madison and Associates Corporation,” said Prescott, holding his hand out to his assistant, who dutifully pulled out the file from a briefcase she held.

“What kind of nonsense is this?” asked Belmont.  He removed his pinstriped coat, as the conversation had made his blood pressure rise.  His long-sleeved white shirt was topped with a western pull tie.

“When we spoke three months ago, I informed you that my associates have found that all of your properties are in violation of city safety codes.  You had the opportunity to make the repairs yourself.  You chose not to.”

Prescott’s assistant provided the documentation to back up his statement.  She handed it to Belmont.

“Who do you think you are walking into my office like this?” growled Belmont in a huff, slamming the papers on his desk.  His haggard pale skin was turning pink around his cheeks and ears.

“The new owner,” Prescott responded, getting another file from his legal council.  “These papers have been drawn up by my legal team, approved by the San Antonio city manager, and signed by the mayor, making all the listed properties assets under my corporation.”

Belmont wanted to explode and punch Prescott in the face.  “You dirty Yankee sonovabitch,” shouted Belmont.  “You can take those papers and stick them up your ass.”

“Refusing to sign these papers would be considered a violation against city statutes,” said Prescott, dropping the papers on Belmont’s desk.  “I will give you a day to have these signed.  My counsel, Ms. Noel, will be by to pick them up tomorrow at 4:45pm.  If they are not signed, we will pursue further legal measures.  You will be compensated monetarily.  It will be an appropriate compensation - you would be a fool to turn it down.  Good day.”

And with that, Prescott and his assistant walked out of the office.

“Go to hell, Prescott!” shouted Belmont.

“You first,” was the snide reply.

Prescott turned to Judy, who was wiping a tear away from her face.

“When you come to work for me, no heels, Judy,” he stated, walking out the door.

Whimpering in humiliation, Judy walked into Belmont’s office.  “What is he talking about, Mr. Smith?”

Belmont was looking at the papers.  He said, “He’s using city ordinances to grab my property.”

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

“I’m going to talk to my lawyer, number one,” he said, walking to another plaque on the wall.  “Number two, if that doesn’t work, I’m going to talk with some of my brothers.”

The plaque Belmont was gazing at was molded bronze.  The design was the same Masonic square and compass that was in the reception area.  In the center of the two tools stood the letter ‘G’, the ancient symbol of the Freemasons.


3.       FIRST MEETING OF THE GHOST SOCIETY OF SAN ANTONIO

[HA1] After agreeing to form The Ghost Society of San Antonio, Tory and Kim had to decide when to meet.  Considering they were going to be slightly hung over, they figured convening the next afternoon would be the best choice.  They usually met at La Taza Azul every Saturday afternoon for menudo and a Big Red.  It was a south Texas dish that claimed to help with hangovers.

Tory walked through the door.  As agreed upon with Kim, he brought a friend to join the club.

“I know this place,” said Tory’s friend.  “Fun place.”

“I gotta tell you, Hank, for as lame as S.A. can be sometimes, this place is actually pretty cool,” said Tory as they took a seat at a table.  “A combination of taquería and coffee shop is a step in the cool direction.”
            “Townies and trendies,” said Hank.  “Two different crowds, for sure.”

“Over on the stage, they do open mic nights.  Poetry and comedy.”

“Awesome,” said Hank.

The friends talked, then gave their order to the waitress when Kim walked in with her friend.

“Wow, Kim.  This place is so cool.”

“Check out the art on the walls,” said Kim, indicating the various paintings from local artists.

“Cool,” said Kim’s friend.

Along the walls were colorful paintings of still lifes, Mexican revolution icons, and other cultural symbols.

“What are we doing here again?” asked Kim’s friend, snapping a picture on her phone to upload to her WhatsUp page.

Kim saw Tory and waved.  “Pam, we’re going to a meeting.”

“Meeting?” she asked, typing away on her smart phone.

Tory stood up from his seat and gave Kim a hug.

“This is Hank,” said Tory, motioning to Hank, who was arranging his Magic: The Gathering cards on the coffee table.

“Ya’ll play Magic?” asked Hank.

“What?” said Tory.

“This is Pamela,” said Kim, indicating her friend who was still texting away.

“Are you on WhatsUp?” asked Pamela.

Tory looked at Kim.  “Um.  Yeah.  I’m on Kim’s friend list.”

“Cool,” said Pamela.  “I’m going to send you a friend request.”

As Pamela took a seat, Tory looked at Kim.  “Who are you bringing to this meeting, Kim?”

“Hey, so whose team are we on?” asked Hank, shuffling his Magic cards.  “I want to play with someone with a white deck, because I have a black deck.”

“Who are you bringing to this meeting, Tory?” said Kim, chuckling.

The two friends sat down by their guests.  Tory spoke.

“Okay, everybody.  It’s good to have you here.  Welcome to the first meeting of the Ghost Society of San Antonio.”

“Ghost Society of San Antonio?” said Hank.  “Why not call it the San Antonio Society of Ghosts?”

“Hank, we already picked the name,” said Tory.

“You can still change it,” said Hank.

“Hank, we’re not changing it,” said Tory.

“What’s your last name, Hank?” asked Pamela, looking up from her phone briefly to get the answer.

“Overstreet.”

“Great,” said Pamela, typing into her phone again.  “I’m going to send you a friend request on WhatsUp.”

“Hey, guys,” said Tory, trying to get control of the meeting back.  “Can we come back… put attention back up here, please.”  He indicated himself with his thumbs.

“I’m on your team,” said Hank.

“What team?  The Ghost Society, you mean?”

“No.  The ‘Magic’ team.  We’re playing the girls, right?” asked Hank.  Kim shook her head at Tory.

Pamela looked up from her phone.  “You know magic?  Can you, like, make a quarter appear from behind your ear and stuff?”

“Who said anything about magic?” asked Kim.

“He did,” said Hank, pointing at Tory.

“I didn’t say Magic: The Gathering or even magic, like ‘abracadabra’ magic.  I said The Ghost Society of San Antonio was going …”

“You mean the San Antonio Society of Ghosts,” said Hank.

“It’s not the San Antonio Society of Ghosts.”

“We’re not ghosts,” said Kim.

“There’s ghosts?  Where?” asked Pamela.  “Oh, I’m going to put that as my update.”  She began to type into her phone again.

“I have two ghosts in my Magic deck,” said Hank.

“We’re not playing Magic,” said Tory.

“You know magic?” asked Kim, pointing at Tory.

“I don’t know magic,” said Tory, getting flustered.  “Listen, everybody, just… shhhh…” he said, putting a finger to his lips.

“But…” said Hank before being interrupted by another shhh from Tory.

“Listen.  We are not here to play Magic, or pull rabbits out of a hat magic, people.  We’re here to talk ghosts, okay?”

Hank sighed.  It was clear what he wanted to do as he shuffled the deck out of nervous tension.

“But I’m scared of ghosts,” said Pamela.

“Don’t be afraid, Pam,” said Kim.  “Ghosts can’t hurt you.”

“Are you sure?” she asked with concern.

“Pretty sure,” said Kim with a reassuring smile.

“Alright,” said Tory.  “It sounds like we’re all on the same page.  Finally.”

Kim chuckled, shaking her head again.

“Listen, I just wanted to hand it over to the founder, Kim Hawkins.”

Kim stood up and started her presentation as the waitress brought the food for Tory and Hank.  “Wait, ya’ll ordered food?”

“Yeah,” said Tory.  “They’re just breakfast tacos.”

“Ma’am,” said Kim.  “I’ll have one potato and egg.”

“Me, too,” said Pam.

The waitress left with their orders and Kim continued.

“Anyway, thanks for ordering tacos for us, Tory,” said Kim sarcastically.

“No problem,” came the reply as he bit into his breakfast.

“So, as I was saying.  Thanks all of ya’ll for showing up today.”

“No problem,” said Hank, talking with his mouth full of breakfast taco.

“What we want to do is form a group that will go in and around the city and document ghostly activity.”

“What kind of ghostly activity?” asked Pamela.  Goosebumps rose on her arms.

“Well, manifestations, possessions, poltergeists, just anything that has to do with ghosts.”

“What about haunted things?” asked Pam.

“What do you mean ‘things’?” asked Tory.  “You mean, like, Ouija boards or dolls?”

“Like paintings,” said Pamela.

“Paintings?” said Kim.

“What do you mean ‘paintings’?” asked Tory.

“Well, I heard there’s this painting that’s painted with the blood of those from the Alamo.”

“What?” asked Tory, Kim, and Hank together.

“You haven’t heard of the battle of the Alamo painting at the old LaChantel house?”

“No,” said Kim.

“Do tell,” said Tory.

“Well,” said Kim, typing away on her smart phone.  “My dad says the legend is that many years ago, this guy, this Mexican soldier who was an artist, pulled bodies of both Alamo defenders and Mexican soldiers.  He filled a cup with their blood and added it to his black paint.”

“No way,” said Tory.

“Well, I don’t know for sure,” said Pamela.  “It’s just what my dad said the legend was.”

“Go on, go on,” urged Kim, intrigued.

“So, the day after the battle, they burned the bodies of the defenders.  That painter guy painted the scene of the burning of the bodies by the Alamo and, well, he painted it with their blood.”

“Wow,” said Hank.

“So, how did the painting end up there?” asked Tory.  “At that house?”

“Hang on,” she said, continuing to text on the phone.  Tory shrugged at Kim.  Kim just shook her head.  The three looked at Kim with great anticipation.

“Okay,” she finally said.  The three audience members exhaled, mumbling, “Okay.”

“Anyway,” said Pam, putting the phone aside for once.  “They say Santa Ana took it, but then he asked for his servants to burn it because the ghosts of the defenders would whisper to him in his dreams.”

“Let me guess,” said Tory.  “The servants didn’t burn it.”

“Right,” said Pam.  “They took it and sold it to a rich land owner.  But he became haunted by the same dreams.  So, he sold it.  The next owner of the painting went mad.  The next one killed his family.  They say even the Nazis had it, trying to utilize the blood in the painting for a dark ritual.  It even ended up at the… what’s that museum in France?”

“The Louvre?” suggested Tory.

“Yeah.  The Louvre.  But they were having strange things happen, too.”

Pamela then paused, picking up her vibrating phone again.  She tapped her fingers along the face of the phone as Kim, Hank, and Tory nodded in wonder.

Pam took an extra second to find something on the Internet application on her phone.  She then shared it with the group.

“Here it is,” she said, holding up her phone.  “It’s a picture taken when it was loaded into the Louvre.  There was a buzz on its arrival, and a newspaper snapped this picture.”

Tory took the phone and passed it around as Pamela continued.

“From the Louvre it went back to a family there in Paris.  The LaChantel family.  Bad things happened with the family and members of the family came to Texas - right here in town.  It’s been at their house ever since.”

“This is wild,” said Kim.

“We gotta go now,” said Tory, excited.  “We’ve got to go, like, today.”

“I agree,” said Kim.  “This would be a great first project for the Ghost Society of S.A.”

“Where’s this place at again?” asked Tory.

“By the McNulty Museum, but I’m not going,” said Pamela.  “Too scary.”

“What?” Kim asked, incredulous.

“Hank, you’re coming with us, right?”

Hank just shrugged. “Meh.  I told some friends I would meet them at Dragon’s Lair Comics to play Magic after this.  So not today.”

Tory and Kim looked at each other.  “Well, uh, let’s finish eating and call the meeting adjourned,” decided Tory.

Everyone agreed.

“Guess it’s just you and me,” said Tory to Kim.

“Oh, well,” she shrugged.  “At least the GSSA is official now.”

The friends enjoyed their meal and had a few laughs before going their separate ways.  Pam and Hank one direction.  Tory and Kim another.


4.       THE LaCHANTEL MANSION

 

Just as Pamela’s GPS app on her iPhone had directed them, the LaChantel mansion was just off Broadway near the McNulty Museum.  A large parking lot stood across from the house, labeled by an old rusty sign that read ‘LaChantel Parking’.  The paint was peeling off the sign, faded and abused by time and the harsh south Texas weather.  There were a few other cars in the lot, indicating others must be looking at the pearl of San Antonio history as well.

Tory and Kim stepped out of their vehicles, then walked to meet each other near the old sign.  They gazed at the big, old house.  It was hidden among thick and tall pecan trees.  The long, dark branches were filled with green leaves.  Small, green pecan pods were open, waiting for nature to pull the hard nut out, spitting it on the ground.

“Wow,” said Kim.  “That’s a big house.”

“That’s an old house,” said Tory.

“It’s a big, old house,” said Kim chuckling as the two walked toward the building.

“Kim, this whole ghost deal is one thing.  To see a painting that supposedly is haunted or whatever is really stretching it.”

“You were excited about it just a little while ago,” said Kim, walking and noticing another sign.  “What the hell?” she mumbled.

The sign was as old as the parking lot sign, but had at least received some attention to refresh the paint over the last decade.  The sign read:

 

LaChantel Mansion.

Open Mon-Sat

11am-6pm

Sunday 1pm-5pm

Daily tours at the top of every hour

Established 1834

 

“Oh,” said Kim.  “The last tour of the day is about to start.”

Tory was looking up at the house again.  Kim could see his Adam’s apple rise and fall in his throat.

“If I were to ever picture a haunted house, this would be it,” said Tory.  Kim joined him under the canopy of pecan trees.

            The two-story house loomed over the two friends.  Its combination of red brick and white wood trim pattern evidenced its antiquated design.  The horned gargoyles, forever obnoxiously sticking their tongues out at visitors and the city alike, stood just below the roof at the corner of the house.  Dark mold melded with white bird droppings over the head and shoulders of the guardians, providing a palate of color that made the worn stone statue both gruesome and menacing. 

            “After you,” said Tory.

            “After you,” said Kim.

            Even though they were kidding around, both could sense the true anxiousness in the other.

            “Ladies first,” said Tory, chuckling.

            “You big chicken,” she said, starting up the stairs.  Adrenaline stomped through her heart.

            “Age before beauty,” said Tory, following her up the stairs.  A bead of sweat fell from his brow.

            “You’re older and uglier than me,” she said, teasing Tory.  Cracking the joke was her unconscious way to alleviate her nerves.

            “Older, but not uglier, freckle-face,” teased Tory with the same soul-soothing motivation behind his words.

            “O-M-G.  Second grade,” Kim retorted as they reached the front door.

            A stout man with a red coat and earpiece stood at the door.  “Five dollars,” he stated simply.

            “Man, there’s a cover charge?” asked Kim.

            “Five dollars,” replied the man with a cold charm.

            “Club LaChantel,” said Tory.  “Do you need my ID?” Tory joked.

            The man turned to Tory and smiled a sinister smile.  His skin reminded Tory of an embalmed corpse, even though the man was very much alive.

            “Okay,” whispered Tory, awkwardly.

            The two paid the admission and received a ticket.  As they passed through the door, another large man took the ticket with his thick fingers.  A patch of hair decorated his knuckles as he tore the ticket and handed it back to the pair.  “The line starts over there,” he said with a deep voice, indicating a crowd gathered at the bottom of the staircase.

            “I guess if you had a haunted house, you should make some bones from it,” said Tory.

            “Pun intended, right?” said Kim, pointing at a human skull embedded in a display case in the wall.

            “Yeah,” said Tory, suddenly as stunned as Kim.  “Right.”

            “Look at that.”  Kim pointed to a doll posted on a pedestal.

            “Tory, is that a … a voodoo doll?” asked Kim.

            “Considering those pins,” he said, pointing at the base of the doll.  “I would say yes.  Yes, this is a voodoo doll.”

            “What the hell did we just walk into?” whispered Kim.  Needles of fear poked her heart.

            Then, a man in a classic Old West suit appeared at the top of the stairs.  The man was shadowed by a woman wearing a red Victorian-era dress.  Elegant lace lined the outfit.  A ruffled collar fell around her neck.  The dress fit her frame all the way down to her feet.  When she walked down the stairs, her buckled shoes could be seen.  It was as if the woman had stepped out of a portal in time, completely out of place in the modern world.

            “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,” said the man in the suit.  Even his accent and demeanor lent itself to the feeling that the two were in the wrong era of Texas.  “My name is Lucien LaChantel.  This is my grandmother, Ms. Marianne LaChantel.  We welcome you to our family home.”

            “This ought to be good,” chuckled Kim.

            “Well, as long as we see the painting, it will be good,” said Tory.  “You think Pam knew what she was talking about?”

            Kim just shrugged.  She had caught a brief gaze from Ms. LaChantel and was frozen.  The look from the old woman reminded her of an owl, or a big cat.  Kim almost made a cross with her fingers at the woman.

            Lucien gestured to the crowd.  “We ask that you place all cell phones on silent.  No pictures allowed.”  As the crowd placed their phones on silent mode, Lucien said, “Please, walk this way.”

            “Well, I guess we’re about to find out,” said Kim as they walked up the stairs.

            “The wooden stairs and railing you are walking on are made of cherry wood.  Through careful preservation and upkeep, we are actually walking on the same wood that was originally installed in 1834.”

            “Kind of like walking through history,” said Tory.

            “Through time,” whispered Kim.  The friends looked at each other, rattled.  “Walking on history.”

            When they reached the top of the staircase, they were led down a long hallway.  Two doors were open on either side of the hall.  All of them revealed luxurious bedrooms.

            Lucien and Marianne stopped at the end of the hallway and turned to the crowd.  Behind them, illuminated by two small lights was a painting.  In it, a woman in Victorian dress stood over a man seated in a chair.  Beside the man was a child.

            Lucien and Marianne stood on either side of the painting.

            “This,” said Lucien, indicating the painting, “is a painting of the LaChantel patriarchs.  Standing is Lady Annemarie LaChantel.  Her husband is seated, Baron Lucius LaChantel.  Originally from Paris, France, the family found out about the land opportunities in Texas and took advantage.  They purchased this land and also large swathes of property along the San Antonio River.”

            “Kid looks like he should be wearing a beanie and sucking a lollipop,” whispered Kim.

            The old lady glared at Kim.  It went unnoticed to the duo, who were stifling a chuckle.

            “Hey, check out that genie lamp,” whispered Tory.  In the painting, a lamp typically associated with Aladdin stood on a tabletop behind the family.  On the table were two drafting tools neither could identify.

            “To your left and right,” continued Lucien, “are the bedrooms of the family.  All of them lived here at one time or another thru 1987, when the family moved to new accommodations at La Cantera.  This house was also deemed a State Landmark in 1988.”

            “So they don’t pay taxes,” whispered Tory.

            The woman casually glanced at the pair again.  Again, the look was so subtle neither of them noticed.

            The friends were led with the crowd through the upstairs portion of the house.  Antiques from the time period were shared, as well as general information and stories from the household.

            As the tour wound back down the stairs, Kim saw what the duo were looking for.  The painting Pam had told them about was located in a downstairs study.

            “There it is,” said Kim.  Her heart skipped a beat as she pointed to its location.  Tory looked and immediately saw it.

            “Ooooh,” he groaned.  “That’s it.  That’s definitely it.”

            Tory raised his hand like an anxious student, waving it conspicuously over the people of the tour.

            Lucien was trying to conclude the tour, ignoring the waving hand.

            “The LaChantel family is proud to be a part of San Antonio’s rich history.”

            Tory impudently started snapping his fingers, trying to get Lucien’s attention.

            Lucien continued, “We appreciate everyone who has attended here today.”

            Tory spoke up.  “Sir?  Sir?”

            Lucien looked directly at Tory with annoyance.  “Does anyone have any questions?”  And then he nodded at Tory.  “Yes.  You, sir.”

            “Can you tell me about the painting in that room, that study, that we didn’t go into?”

            “Why, yes, sir.  I’d be happy to tell you about the painting.”  Lucien addressed the crowd.  “If anyone is interested in viewing this historic artistic piece, please follow me.”

            “Good job,” whispered Kim.

            “If you don’t ask, you don’t get,” he replied.

            Lucien cut through the crowd heading to the study.  The duo noticed Lady LaChantel remained near the exit.  She glared at Tory and Kim with a sinister stare that made them shiver before following the crowd.

            The group that remained entered the room where Lucien was standing by the painting.

            “This is a painting of the aftermath of the siege of The Alamo.  It was painted by one of the Mexican soldiers as it was happening.  It has been passed down for generations, and we are proud to display it here.”

            “Why don’t you show this as part of the tour?” asked a member of the group.

            “Considering the subject matter, we feel it is best to keep the painting available to those who ask to view it,” he said, glaring at Tory.

            I got to get a picture of this, thought Kim, taking out her cell phone.  She set it to camera mode and held it up to take a picture.

            Lucien jumped in front of her, holding out his hand at the phone.  “No pictures, ma’am.”

            Kim flinched back.  “Sorry.  I’m sorry.  I forgot.”  She put the camera away.

            “Delete the picture, please.”

            “I didn’t have time to take one, sir.”

            “Are you sure?”

            “You didn’t hear it snap, did you?”

            Lucien glared at her.

            Kim leaned in to Tory.  “I don’t think we’re welcome here anymore,” she whispered.

            Everyone took in the painting with dark curiosity.  Pasted and carved on the textured canvas, the ancient oil displayed an abstract painting of death and woe.

            Dark flames and smoke rose from a fire emanating from a stack of bodies.  Mexican soldiers in Napoleonic uniforms were dragging bodies to the pyre.  Some were in the middle of tossing them on the fire.

            The Alamo was clearly illustrated in the distance, where other Mexican soldiers were gathered.  The blue of the soldiers contrasted against the browns, gray, and black of the landscape, burning bodies, and smoke.  The textured oil marked the work with cruelty, delivering the impression of the images, but warping the pictures slightly, like a dream.

            Some visitors turned away and made their way out of the mansion.  Others wept gently.

            Lucien nodded his head.  “It’s a powerful painting, to be sure, in many ways.  It is why we are selective of who views it.”

            Kim spoke up, trying to frame her query as diplomatically as possible.  “What are the stories associated with the painting?”

            Lucien tested her true knowledge.  “What do you mean?”

            Kim gulped.  “Well… uh…”

            “Is the painting cursed?” he asked, looking her directly in the eye.  “Is that the question you wanted to ask?”

            The crowd all turned their attention to the duo.  It made them anxious to suddenly be the center of attention.

            Lucien waited for an answer, letting the silence fill the room and forcing Kim’s hand.  “Well?”

            “The legends of the Alamo Death Painting are false,” boomed a voice from behind the duo.  The small group looked toward the entrance to the study as Kim and Tory turned as well.

            It was Lady LaChantel.  She was smoking a cigarette with a classic long filter.  Tory noticed that in spite of her age, there was still a dark beauty to her.

            “The unfortunate circumstances that befell previous owners were purely coincidencidental.  It resides here with no incident.  Any reference to death, curses, or the Cult of the Alamo is all pure fiction.  Fantasy.”

            “Cult of the Alamo?” whispered Kim to Tory, who just shook his head.

            “Our tour is now over,” said Lady LaChantel, taking on a harsher tone.  “It you could please exit out the front door.  Thank you.”

            “Well, that was quick,” said Tory, turning to look back at the painting one last time with Kim.

            “You think she was telling the truth?” asked Kim, looking one last time at the painting.

            “She’s rich,” said Tory.  “She doesn’t need to tell the truth.”

            “Neither do I, though,” said Kim as the two exited.  “Let’s get to the car.”

            “What?” asked Tory, following Kim.

            As the duo arrived at their cars, Kim motioned to Tory to enter her vehicle.  When they entered the car, they rolled down the windows.  The Texas heat had already overcome the interior.  Tory turned on the air conditioner full blast as Kim spoke.

            “I got a shot.”

            “What?” asked Tory.

            “I got a shot of the painting,” she said, pulling out her phone and tapping the phone screen to the camera album application.

            “No way.”

            “The phone was on silent.  There was no snapping sound.”

            Kim scrolled through the album with a victorious smile and then found the painting.  Her smile slowly dissipated.

            “What?” asked Tory.  “Did it come out blurry?”

            “See for yourself,” she said, holding the phone to Tory, who looked at the shot.

            The picture was perfect.  Lucien’s hand dominated the picture.  Part of his face could be seen just above the hand.  Even the hint of a booger in his nose was evident.  In the background, some of the luxurious wall and ceiling could be seen in perfect detail as well.

            But it was the painting that was the most curious.  A significant portion could be seen in the picture, but the entirety of the painting was black.  There was no hint of oil, of detail on the painting, or anything else.  It was completely black.

            The duo looked at each other, then back at the house.

            On the front porch of the building, near one of the pillars close to the front door were Lucien and Lady LaChantel.

            They were looking right at Tory and Kim.
 
================
 
'Alamo Rising' is now available on CreateSpace or Amazon from ZombieBloodFights.com.  Network with Bowie for updates today.

Need a zombie horror fix?  Pick up the 'Down the Road' zombie horror trilogy from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuster today.

Down the Road, Down the Road: On the Last Day, and Down the Road: The Fall of Austin.  Pick them up in paperback or Kindle today.

 


 
BOWIE V. IBARRA earned his BFA in Acting and MA in Theatre History from Texas State University.  Network with Bowie at his official website, ZombieBloodFights.com today.

1 comment:

  1. There is a chance you are eligible to receive a Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete