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|| Part 1
Connor MacLeod smiled at that comment. "I heard that Mister Ryan."
Richie grimaced. Connor continued into the bar. "I saw your note to
Duncan on the dojo door." He headed for the stools, but he never
fully got out his drink request; Joe placed a glass of honey-orange
colored drink in front of him.
"Connor, Joe Dawson. Joe, Connor MacLeod," introduced Richie.
Methos put the scarecrow decoration down on the bar and picked up his
beer. Richie chose that moment to introduce Methos to Connor. "Connor
MacLeod this is ..."
Connor interrupted Richie's statement with, "Long time, Old Man." The
two immortals raised their glasses to each other, then drank.
Joe looked at Richie, Richie looked at Joe, then both turned to look
at Methos and Connor, who had moved further down the bar and picked
up a conversation as if it had only been interrupted to take a drink.
Richie and Joe decided that now would be a good time to look in the
box Richie had left on the stage. "Do you think he knows?" asked Joe.
"Not a clue," replied Richie. "Not a clue."
While Methos and Connor continued to chat, Richie and Joe began
placing pumpkin oil candles on the tables and pulling other
decorations out of the box. "I understand he's supposed to be helping
you with this," Connor's voice stopped Richie and Joe in the mist of
their actions. "I also understand you," indicating Joe, "threatened
not to give him another beer. Good threat. So, what can we,"
indicating Methos this time, "do?"
With Methos and Connor's help, Richie hung a banner over the stage
while Joe gave directions of "up on the left", "lower on the right",
and "the center's sagging."
Twenty minutes later, the rain had yet to let up as a very wet Duncan
and a dry Amanda walked into the bar. "What happened to you?" asked
"She," Duncan pointed at Amanda, "happened to me."
"Like it was my fault your umbrella inverted itself, or that that car
went through that puddle," Amanda pouted.
Duncan, didn't noticed Connor was there until he heard him chuckle at
Amanda's comment. "Connor?"
"No," answered Connor. "I'm just a figment of your imagination. And,
how are you, Amanda?"
She smiled. "Dry."
"So, as I was going to ask before you interrupted," said Duncan,
taking off his black trench-coat. "What are you doing here?"
"I saw the note Richie left on the dojo door about coming here, to
"No, Connor. I mean what are you doing in Seacouver?"
"Oh," Connor laughed. "I came to check on this rumor about an
immortal possessed by a demon." Richie grimaced. "Also, I understand
you recently met Patrick and Rebecca O'Brien."
Now it was Duncan's turn to say "oh."
With the explanations temporarily out of the way, it was Joe's turn
to speak. "Okay, everyone back to work."
"Well, Duncan, since you're already drenched, I guess it wouldn't
hurt if you set up the "bobbing for apples," Connor said.
"Hey, yeah. I know where the giant cauldron is," Richie chimed in.
"Not funny," Duncan warned. "Either of you."
Methos grinned. "Oh, pretty funny from here."
"Nobody asked you," responded Duncan.
Abruptly, everyone except Joe turn to the door. "If I didn't invite
you all, I'd think there was a convention in town." Joe shook his
A bolt of lightning and the sound of thunder announced Altea's
presence to the people in the bar.
"Well, she knows how to make an entrance," Methos said to no one in
particular, as Altea walked through the door and towards Richie.
"Well, Richie, who's your lady friend?" asked Amanda.
"Altea this is Amanda. I told you about her." Altea nodded. And,
Amanda this is Altea, who I'm sure Mac has mentioned."
Amanda smiled. "Run and play with the boys, Richie. Let the women
talk." Altea had to smile at that, and voiced her agreement.
"What are these for?" Altea asked, picking up one of the pumpkin
candles. She turned it over in her hands.
"Halloween party for tomorrow night," Richie replied as he passed the
two ladies. "Joe drafted us into helping decorate."
Methos and Richie approached the bar for the box that was there, but
Altea stopped them for a moment. "What exactly is this Halloween?"
"It's a commercialized version of So-vahn. It's Gaelic for November.
It's the Celtic New Year, actually--a day when they believed that the
veils been this world and the other world were thinnest, and when the
spirits and faeries were walking around," Richie made himself more
comfortable on his bar stool, taking a moment to gather his thoughts.
"That's where Halloween comes from, actually. See, the Celts used to
have this big celebration to mark the new year...and before they left
their houses to travel to it, they would set out bowls of milk and
cakes and stuff--for the spirits that were traveling in this world
during the night. And the pumpkin thing comes from the fact that they
used to carve gourds into masks that looked like their dead relatives
and ancestors to wear for the celebration. It was a time for
remembering those who died and for celebrating the harvest. The
Christians are the ones who made it a scary thing."
When Richie finished his explanation, Methos commented, "You've been
doing research...writing another book."
Richie paled a little, but Methos continued an explanation to Altea:
"Today, people get dressed up in weird costumes, go to parties, and
dress their kids up, who can then go door-to-door saying 'trick-or-
treat,' so people will then give them candy. And, it's an excuse to
stay up all night and watch scary movies. What?"
"Nothing," Richie responded, "I just never took you for the scary
Methos smiled. "There are many things you don't about me, kid."
Duncan walked by with a bag of apples. "I don't watch scary movies
anymore. I lived a scene right out of one...."
"...That should just about do it," Duncan said, pounding the last
stake into the ground. He stood and brushed the dirt from his jeans.
"Just in time, too." The sun had started to set, and pitching a tent
in the dark was not his favorite part of camping. He hadn't been
camping in a long time, and never in Florida. It was turning out to
be an...interesting experience. He had tried to brace himself against
a palm tree, not noticing the needle-like projections on the trunk.
Now he had to deal with the large red welts on his hands. That, and
he'd been dive-bombed by flying roaches. At least, that was the
closest comparison Duncan could think of. But he had never seen
roaches that big. [I won't freeze to death out here, at least,] he
thought. The last weather report he'd seen said the night-time low
was going to be about sixty-five.
While he was waiting for his fire to start, Duncan began unpacking
his gear. A Jeep with the Florida Parks department logo pulled up to
the trash bins. The man driving it appeared to be about forty,
with graying hair and a dark tan. "Evening," the ranger said, nodding
to Duncan. He retrieved two empty trash bags from the Jeep and
started putting them into the barrels. Another giant roach appeared,
heading straight for the ranger. "Damn palmetto bugs," he muttered,
swatting at it.
"So they're not mutated roaches?" Duncan asked.
"Nope, they're not." He lifted the barrels back into the mesh
cage, closing the top to keep the animals out. "They like to hide out
in the sabal palms," he gestured towards the tree that had attacked
Duncan. At that moment, there was a loud shriek. It sliced through
the air, and it sounded like it was coming from elsewhere in the
campground. Duncan's head snapped up, but the ranger didn't even
look. "That's just a loon," he said, answering Duncan's unasked
Duncan nodded uneasily. He'd heard loons before, but never one quite
that loud and high-pitched. Plus, he didn't think a loon would be
that far south. But, he was able to pass it off as another peculiar
part of Florida nature--like the hostile trees and mutant roaches.
The next evening, it was almost dark when the ranger drove back by
to empty the trash. Duncan had heard the shrieking again; this time,
it had sounded closer than last night. It had been followed by a loud
cracking sound, like a large tree limb breaking. "I told ya'," the
ranger said. "It was a loon." He climbed in his Jeep and drove off to
the next campsite.
"A loon," Duncan repeated to no one. It hadn't sounded like any bird
he'd he'd ever encountered. He thought about the breaking wood noise,
and decided that maybe he didn't want to encounter one. He crawled
into his tent and proceeded to take off his sneakers. There was a
scratching behind the tent. In a flash, Duncan had his katana ready.
He crept out of the tent, and found himself staring into a pair of
beady black eyes. They belonged to the strangest looking squirrel
Duncan had ever seen. It was brownish red in color, with barely any
fur and a mangy tail. It was also a lot smaller than the squirrels he
was used to. "Well, hi there." The squirrel didn't seem afraid of
him. In fact, it walked right up to him--and started to climb up his
leg. "Hey! Cut that out!" Duncan said, frantically shaking his leg.
The tiny claws were digging into him. For a brief moment, Duncan
contemplated a midnight snack of squirrel-kabobs. Duncan kicked his
leg out and the pesky rodent went sailing into the darkness.
"Never again," Duncan muttered. Florida was just not his cup of
tea, between the kamikaze roaches, the killer palm trees and
now, super-aggressive squirrels. He returned to his tent. "Next time,
I'm staying home."
Just as he was about to fall asleep, there was a loud tearing
sound. Something was cutting through his tent. A long blade lunged
through the fabric towards him. Still groggy, Duncan barely managed
to parry in time. Then, he heard it--the scream. It was right outside
his tent. Duncan charged through the opening at the back of the tent,
scrambling to his feet. A figure jumped towards him. It was a tall
wiry man, with stringy blond hair that hung limply down his
shoulders. He was wearing an olive jacket, torn black pants, well-
worn combat boots and a hockey mask. In his left hand was a machete.
He wasn't an Immortal, but he had a sharp-edged weapon, and that was
enough to cause Duncan concern.
However, when Duncan stepped towards him, his own sword ready, the
figure stumbled backwards. He dashed towards the woods, with Duncan
at his heels. Unfortunately, not wearing any shoes slowed Duncan down
a great deal. He lost the would-be attacker in the woods. Duncan
stopped running and turned around, heading towards the ranger's
house. He pounded on the door. A light came on and the door opened.
"Something wrong, sir?" the ranger asked.
"Yeah, something's wrong," Duncan said. He crossed his arms and stood
in the doorway. "When we heard that shrieking noise, what did you say
"A loon," was the reply.
"A loon? Someone with a machete just tried to kill me!"
"...And the ranger said to me, 'Well, you wouldn't call someone who
went around killing campers sane, would you?'..."
"...Duncan," Connor said. He looked down at the counter, shaking his
head, "That was..."
"Hey, I think I saw that movie when I was about fourteen," Richie
"Yeah, I think I saw that movie when you were fourteen too," Connor
Duncan leaned against the bar, gazing pointedly at Richie. "Can you
do better?" he asked.
"Well there was this one weird thing that happened back in Junior
High," Richie leant back into his chair, his gaze that of someone
settling his teeth into something. "It turned in to a kind of urban
legend, 'cause the guy left tapes of what had happened. He was one of
my teachers his name was Burrows..."
...Mr Burrows wasn't the kind of man whose past you'd suspect of
being darker than average. He was a math teacher whose life seemed
governed by the same logic that he preached from behind his desk. He
was a middle aged man on the geekish side of slender. He was vaguely
timid in the way he carried himself, though he was tall, he was
always slightly hunched over. Burrows could never be called exciting,
like so many habitual bachelors because he always dressed in the same
sports jacket and slacks, both were wearing a little at the seams. He
lived with his cat, Sebastian, and as he always told himself, he was
content with that. He enjoyed teaching, priding himself on being able
to reach even the most awkward in his class, even Ryan, such a
rebellious boy. The teacher was sure he saw potential in those bright
eyes, he'd said so more than once, but he was never sure if the child
took any notice of him. It was the blond teenager with whom he was
grappling on that fateful afternoon when his past caught up with him.
"The dog ate it, Sir," Richie protested, his blue eyes wide with
innocence. Burrows was sure that that innocence had long ago been
stripped from the wayward youth.
The man stared hard over the rim of his glasses at the pupil lounged
nonchalantly in the back row with the other so called troublemakers.
He leaned on his desk in what he hoped was a commanding manner. "You
don't have a dog, Ryan," he replied. He made a point of knowing the
troublemakers, and he knew all too well the unsettled, but pet-free
home-life of the boy.
"Not mine, next door's," the quip came back almost as quickly as the
last excuse was put down, and the youth's face said he wouldn't back
"Then you shouldn't have taken your homework next door. I want it on
my desk by recess tomorrow, understand?" the teacher made his
ultimatum, but knew it fell on deaf ears as the boy nodded with a
reverence that didn't reach his gaze.
The man sighed; today was worse than usual and a headache was growing
at the back of his eyes. Burrows pulled off his glasses and rubbed
the bridge of his nose.
"Right, turn to page sixteen and do as many of the problems as you
can before the bell," he ordered, disappointed in himself for
resorting to ignoring his class, but unable to concentrate his
thoughts to teach.
As the groans accompanied the slamming of books on desks, the teacher
wandered away from the almost defensive position he held behind his
own table at the front of the class. As the central heating dried his
throat and made the throb in his head worse, the man drifted to the
open window for some fresh air. The school yard stretched out in one
large blur two stories below. Burrows placed the light, wire rims
back on his nose and the world slid back into almost focus. He
blinked a moment at what he thought was a blob in his vision, but as
he cleared his eyesight, the anomaly became a figure. Then he refused
to believe what he was seeing. His skin went cold and he felt his
whole body dampen in a chill sweat as deep, dark, hateful eyes met
his own wide open stare.
She was as beautiful as he remembered, willowy, her skin as perfect
as marble tinted with cafe-au-lait and a wild shock of jet black hair
framing her features. Now those locks really did seem wild, savage
billowing in the wind of the cold October day, as they framed a
visage that held none of the warmth the man remembered. Despite the
chill, the figure wore only a light cotton dress, it's fabric holding
to her slender frame, pathetically inadequate as it was tugged by the
Autumn gusts. It was the same dress she'd worn on balmy Summer
evenings when they'd laughed and loved together in their secret
That had been over ten years ago, but the man's heart went out to the
almost plaintive figure as old emotions rekindled without warning.
Yet, his gesture froze in his chest as he met those hard ice eyes
once more and knew this couldn't be. She was dead. The woman who
stood below had been murdered as she waited in their woodland
hideaway for him, violated because he'd been late for their meeting.
The reality of the moment began waves of sickness in the man's
stomach as all he had left behind came coursing back through him
unchecked. The cold hatred coming from the silent, statuesque form
dug into him like a physical attack, hooks barbed with memory holding
him under her scrutiny, making him see the rage. Recollections of
death, terrible and bloody, wiped away the world as he surveyed the
creature who showed no signs of it. He had loved that beauty, been
swept away by her, but even as he recognized every contour of her
face, he could find nothing there to comfort him, her features were
set hard, keeping him out.
The man's breath refused to reach his lungs and he gagged as his
world became heady. The horror for which he had left his country home
and run to the big, anonymous city descended onto him too fast for
the suddenly feeble man to stand. He felt a strange relief as shock
collapsed his knees and the vision of her disappeared as he descended
gracelessly to the floor.
Five hours later, Burrows sat at his table in his tidy, economical,
lonely apartment. The fingers of his left hand were settled round a
tumbler half full of the brandy he normally kept for cooking, but
even as he stared at it, he didn't dare pick up the glass, even now
he was shaking too badly. The vision still rested in his mind's eye,
and chilled his blood. He was trying not to think, it was the only
way it dimmed, but wouldn't disperse, that terrible glare was etched
on his memory, uncapping a decade of flight. As he sat there,
recognizing his own isolation, the man could do nothing but let the
past back in. He dared to drag the glass to his lips, needing the
sting of the alcohol on his throat, anything to feel something real,
physical, something to make the image of her feel unreal. Yet, it
would not go away.
Burrows had no-one to tell his story to, he didn't have friends, he
hadn't let himself really feel in ten years and friends meant caring
about someone. Instead, he had his diary, a tape recorder, the sound
of his own voice to offer whatever comfort was available. The aging
piece of equipment was sitting by him on the table, a big old
microphone reaching up to him, demanding an explanation. The man
glanced at it as he coughed back the fiery liquid and placed a
trembling finger over the pause button which had been straining for
ten minutes or more since he had last spoken onto the tape. It
clunked and whirred in a familiar fashion and Burrows watched the
spools go round a moment, before he drew in a ragged breath.
"Her name was Beth," he continued a train of thought begun earlier,
"and we were engaged. Nothing official, our parents didn't approve,
we met in secret, in a shed we thought was abandoned in Godstone
Woods...Louisiana, that sounds so far away. I was working my way
through college, and we'd agreed to meet there late one night, when I
clocked off from the bar. I was late, and the shed turned out not to
be so deserted as we thought. Someone, a man, had been using it to
store stolen goods, and he came to collect. God, if only I'd been
there, Beth would have been alive today...but I wasn't, the bastard
raped and then strangled her. Only she knows who he was, they never
Burrows paused, there were many such cogitative silences on his diary
tapes, but none had felt quite so lonely as this one. The man could
not find the words to express the pain in his heart. How could he
explain to a machine that he'd run away, from the investigation, from
the sympathetic looks, from the memory of her crumpled body? Only his
stifled breathing made testimony to the pain that the man was
"Ben," the sound slipped into his ears, a whisper he remembered, but
now there was chill in the tone where there had been heat.
The man threw his chair rapidly backwards and backed away from the
darkest corner of the room from which the voice had come. He didn't
stop until he slammed into the far wall and there he stayed,
transfixed by the moving of the shadows in the dingy apartment. She
formed out of the swirling patterns the eye makes from gray nooks,
the turn of her face lit by more than just the sorry bulb in the
light socket, the darkness in her eye made of the shadows she left
behind as she moved into the open. The figure crossed the space
between them with a grace that held no natural qualities to it, and
in terror, Ben knew he could find none of the human woman in the
supernatural creature which she had become.
The man whimpered.
No mercy, no love, just ice - the human sank down the wall away from
the hand which was extended to him, but she merely reached down.
Fingers brushed his face and Ben gasped at the chill which ran
through his flesh; yet it was nothing compared to the touch of the
palm which followed. The man screamed as preternatural strength
showed him pure anger. It sliced through his head, wiping away all
else, raw and unstoppable. Neat emotion was all this creature knew,
but a mortal mind could not sustain the intensity. Unable to fight,
Ben ran away again, he fainted.
Concrete made a difficult bed, and Ben Burrows knew it had been his
for a long time as he woke. His body ached in the places it wasn't
numb with cold and the man moved only very slowly. His head was
foggy, his mouth furred, and he realized with some disgust that he
was lying in a pile of rubbish. He leant up against the wall and
looked down a dingy alley, trying to get his bearings. Yet, he barely
remember his own name, let alone the street he was in. If for nothing
but to distract from the throbbing in his brain, the man stood up and
headed towards where the dimness became street lamps. He staggered
out onto a damp October night and his ears split with the sound of a
TV blaring out of a dirty cafe whose garbage he appeared to have used
as a duvet.
Ben realized he needed the bathroom, urgently, and so he headed into
the greasy spoon. A couple of the regulars at the counter gave him a
strange stare, but they looked little better than he felt. This was
not an upbeat neighborhood.
Coming out of the washroom, the man felt a little better, he'd washed
his face and been surprised to find money in his pocket. He was still
weary, so he settled himself on a stool and was poured a coffee by
the sour-faced waitress. It was thick, black treacle, left far too
long on the hot plate, but it was hot and filled a surprisingly large
hole in his stomach. Ben made a face as he downed the first cup in
one, but held out the vessel for another none-the-less. Taking more
time over the second cup, the man turned to distract his fuzzed brain
with the TV. It was a news report.
"...Police are still searching for the man who attacked here last
night," a woman almost chewed her microphone as she stood in front of
a crumbling tenement; the place seemed familiar. "Witnesses have
stated that the man, well dressed and in his thirties broke into an
apartment on the third floor," a chill began to creep up Ben's spine,
"and attached one Roland Jenks. Jenks' girlfriend said that the man
was unarmed, but picked up her lover, a man of over six feet, by the
neck and threw him against the wall. Jenks, originally from
Ben had heard enough, images came flooding back into his mind, of a
man, screaming at him, of a fury so complete the other's terror had
meant little, of a horrible need for vengeance. He felt Jenks' flesh
under his fingers again as he'd squeezed and then snapped his spine
with a strength borne of pure rage. The man dropped the cup and
backed away from the counter, feeling sick and frightened.
"Hey buddy, you gonna pay for that?!" a hostile voice demanded of
Ben gave the closed face of the waitress one look, and remembered
another glare with so much more animosity in it. He ran, an idea that
The apartment was dark, but Ben didn't need to see to find the brandy
he now remembered deserting on the table two evenings ago. He gulped
it down as the memories of the night and day he had lost began to
come back to him. More and more he saw Jenks' face, filled with
terror, uncomprehending of the madness which took his life. Ben knew
that madness, he'd felt it as the apparition's power had surged into
him, he had become that vengeance.
The man's hand knocked the familiar old microphone as he half
collapsed over the table, and he felt a little absurd, but could not
stop himself as he grappled with the tape recorder. It was something
normal, something he knew, and he fumbled the tape out and turned it
over. He'd hit the record button before he really knew what he was
doing, and he babbled into the microphone, "I killed him...no she
killed him...Jenks...I didn't even know him...Oh God this is
madness...she...I..." he trailed off into a sob of confusion and
His own sniveling did not stop Ben from hearing his name, called
softy like icicles sliding into snow and he screamed again as he knew
she stood there behind him. The microphone clattered to the ground
and the man dived away from the figure whose presence sent a frozen
glow into the damp air around her. He tripped over the chair he'd
discarded the night before and crashed into a heap on the floor.
Lights danced in front of his eyes and Ben moaned, unable to get up.
Instead, he curled into a little ball, trembling and he pleaded, "Go
There was silence, but he didn't dare look across at the shade who he
knew was coming closer, he couldn't bear to see that hatred again. He
felt her shadow on him as he cowered.
"Ben," the voice was softer still, but frost dropped from the tone.
She was even closer, he could sense her, her attention drawing him
out of the ball. With a whimper, the man opened his eyes. He gasped
as he turned his face up and found another only inches from his. All
his grief welled up inside Ben as he saw the animosity where there
had once been love, and he could not stay silent.
"Why?" he moaned, none of his pain hidden from the supernatural
"You abandoned me to him, to Jenks" she whispered like snowflakes on
"I didn't abandon you," he protested immediately and her eyes flashed
with the darkness of hatred, but he pressed, "the car broke down, I
"You abandoned me to him," the ghost repeated, "he has paid, now you
"Beth," the man breathed, unable to believe what he was seeing
anymore, "what happened to the Beth I loved?"
"You killed him for me, but it's not enough," the creature ignored
his feeble sound.
"Not enough?!" Ben muttered and found a little anger in himself, his
own anger, long buried with the grief and the loneliness, he grabbed
hold of it and stared up into the shadows. "Not enough?!" he demanded
more strongly. "Enough for what? For your pain? What about mine? I
found you, lying there in that stinking hut. I had six months of
nightmares, of trying to be brave, trying to help the police find who
killed you, but I couldn't stand it. Everything I did, every breath I
took reminded me that you weren't there."
The specter moved back from the out-pouring of grief, the ice glare
failing. The man sat up, his anger softening to the lonely grief he'd
tried to forget and he continued, "I ran away. I missed you so much,
He stared down at his feet and began to weep tears which should have
been shed a decade ago.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there," he moaned quietly, "don't you think I
wish I had been?"
This time he didn't shy away from the fingers which touched his face.
No chill accompanied them this time, only a light brush of nothing as
they felt the water on his cheeks. Ben looked up and into eyes no
longer angry. He wasn't sure what he saw there, confusion, surprise
or compassion, but the emotion brought the memory of the woman he'd
loved closer to him. She'd been gone so long, and this creature had
brought back the pain, but now she returned some of the better
thoughts to him. He remembered a warm, loving smile not quite on
those lips, but they held the potential now. The man didn't want to
let that go again.
"Take me with you," he whispered.
The spirit seemed startled by the admission, she froze a moment, her
gaze wondering as she stared into his misted eyes. She was looking
for something, Ben didn't know what, but he let her look anyway. The
creature titled her head, and the corners of her mouth twitched as
whatever it was, she found it. Then, in the blink of an eye, she
leaned forward. The kiss touched his lips and the man parted his
mouth in a manner which he was warmed to find he had not forgotten.
She was neither cool nor warm, and he tasted nothing from the touch,
but Ben tensed in pleasure as energy lanced into his body. He clung
to the intensity as the world dropped away....
"...the police found his body the next morning," Richie finished,
his tone low and deep, "and he'd got the lot on tape. Funny thing
was, it sounded like he was talking to someone, but there was no-one
else's voice on the tape, only this rushing noise."
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