The Price is Wrong
He approached with caution as he sized up Dawson Barker. He really didn't know much about the man at all. Kevin hadn't had time to brief him on exactly who this man, Barker, was. All they knew for sure was that Dawson Barker had kidnapped Sabrina Michaels, and Kevin was on the war path.
Kevin Fairchild had called him for assistance since he lived relatively close to Hollow Creek. But when he searched for the town on a map, it wasn't there. The town of Hollow Creek, according to state records, didn't exist.
There was nothing to warn him of the evil inside the walls of the town. No sign. No dire warning. Nothing but a filthy feeling of rot and stink. It was an ache he could feel all the way to his bones. Maybe it was the cop instinct inside him or some other internal radar that helped him hone in on those particular impressions. He didn't know. Whatever it was, it all came down to one conclusion. There was evil in this town. Which was why it was the perfect hideaway for a psycho like Dawson Barker.
Keith Banning had no real proof that Barker was holding Sabrina Michaels hostage. He only had the word of a friend he hadn't seen in years. But if Barker did have Sabrina, he would go down and he would go down hard.
Dawson Barker primped in front of the mirror. He had to look perfect for the showdown that could develop at any moment. Thus far, he only had two contestants for his Game. More were on their way. No one usually came willingly, but that was to be expected and what made the reality of it all the more exciting.
He had enjoyed telling Sabrina about the horrors that would lie waiting for her beyond the walls of her cell.
"You've heard of hell, I'm sure," Dawson remarked. "Just think of this as the pre-game show. What comes after this can only get worse."
"Shut up! Shut up!" Sabrina clamped her hands over her ears. "I'm tired of hearing about this town. I didn't want to be here. Why did you bring me here?"
She rattled her chains in the cage but still the dark man on the floor didn't move. Dawson had called him Seth. At least, that much she knew. But he laid there motionless for what seemed nearly a day now.
"You can't keep us here!" Sabrina shouted. "It's inhuman!"
Dawson laughed sardonically. "This is nothing compared to what is to come."
The man on the floor stirred. It was the first time she's seen life in him since he was dragged into the cage with her. The people working for Dawson Barker seemed to know him and some even feared him. They actually had the nerve to call him a monster. Dawson Barker was the monster. A monster with the face of an angel.
"You have to wake up," Sabrina said, shaking Seth. "You have to help me find a way out of here."
Dawson approached the cage and crouched down to see her better. "Oh, my dear. I don't know if that is such a wise move. He may seem like a normal man, but he is far from you or me. We're mere mortals. He's something else entirely. Something created from this place we live in."
The game show host rose and walked toward the door. "You'll find out about his special gifts when the full moon rises tonight. Then you will know why I say that he is the monster."
Dawson turned to focus his attention on the row of security monitors lining the wall. "I'm sorry I must leave you now. But don't be sad, I will return in a very short while." He left the room to the sound of Sabrina rattling the bars of her cage in tune with the scraping of her chains.
"You evil jerk! Let me out of here!" Her voice trailed after him long after he had exited the building.
"Who is our new visitor?" Dawson stared up at the bank of monitors in his security office.
"We think it is Fairchild. He entered the gates on the west side of town ditching his car not far from the border. It's the same make and model as the one we know he rented at the airport. It's him, sir." The security chief was certain, but Dawson didn't take anything on faith. All his years as an illusionist had taught him that. Not everything was what it appeared to be.
"Remember, we want him alive." Dawson said in reminder. "But if you must mame him, not on the face please, I don't want the audience to become too sympathetic toward him because he's scarred. He already has a slight advantage over the others considering his background as a government agent.
The crew of "The Game" split up into teams to divide and conquer. They would bring him back... or die trying.
Maurice the cat had been searching for a special item for his collection for years. He looked sideways at David who was still a spirit due to the whole violin-girl statue fiasco. He knew that he hadn't been exactly straight with David about the idea that he was dead.
"David, wait up." Maurice trotted up to where the youngster had wandered off. Maybe if he was lucky, he could get the kid to help him find the box he was looking for. After all, two heads were better than one.
As he got closer to the area where David had floated, Maurice's eyes bugged out. "No. Please, no. Not in there. Not in the Forbidden Zone!" Maurice pounced on the hard stone path and skidded to a stop near the entrance of the Zone. "David. David you must come out of there at once. There is a very good reason it's called the Forbidden Zone." The cat hoped the Zone hadn't already trapped another victim in its mystical web.
It had only taken minutes for Barker's men to track the human. They had been specifically created for the job of hunting victims. Barker had ordered them directly from Sark himself.
When he finally came upon the man in question, he was not amused. "You're not Kevin Fairchild."
"You know what? You're exactly right." He regarded Dawson Barker in the inky darkness.
"Who are you then?"
"Your worst nightmare?"
Dawson chuckled. "Oh, my friend, you don't know the meaning of the word nightmare." He was tired of playing games and toying with an imposter. He wasn't one who liked to flaunt his power against lesser beings, but he would do it when taunted.
"Maybe we can make a bargain. You can give me Sabrina, and I won't arrest you," Keith Banning said. He thought the direct approach best with psychos like him.
"Arrest me?" Dawson howled with laughter. "Even if that was possible. You wouldn't be able to get close enough to attempt it. You see, I have this little power that protects me. You couldn't touch me even if you wanted to."
"You have quite an ego there, mister. No one could keep me from arresting you."
"I could," Dawson told Keith.
"You've very confident. I like that in an adversary." Keith extended his hand toward Dawson. "The name is Keith Banning. And it's my pleasure to arrest you."
Keith charged forward bounding over the bar separating him from the man who had kidnapped the woman he loved.
Before Keith could get closer to him, Dawson held up an ancient amulet that hung on a chain around his neck. The amulet glowed with an ancient light then emitted a beam that impacted Keith in the middle of his chest catapulting him back across the field.
"I tried to warn you, Banning. I am powerful, and you are... not. Now, leave my presence." Dawson disregarded Keith with a wave of his hand. He didn't kill him... this time. But next time he would surely do his worst to the mere mortal. Before Keith could think of a snarky comeback, Barker and his men promptly disappeared into the mist.
Maurice had tried to lure David out of the Forbidden Zone but to no avail. It was at that moment some of Barker's men ambushed another man Maurice had never seen before. Too many newcomers to Hollow Creek. That could only spell trouble with a capital T. It was the noise of the tussle that seemed to call out to David and bring him back from the brink of no return.
The cat breathed a sigh of relief that he didn't have to go back into that horrid place.
"What is going on out here?" David asked after he again crossed through the gates that led to the Forbidden Zone.
Maurice tried to nudge him further away from the door. "Why don't we go and check it out" The cat had to get the kid away from there. Because the Zone was the last place he want to be.
Keith wanted to pick himself up off the hard dirt, but the blast was greater than he expected.
"What in the hell was that?" Keith growled. He placed a hand to his chest and felt the scorch mark. It was still warm.
A boy and an orange cat appeared to one side of him after Barker had vanished in what seemed to be a puff of smoke. But that wasn't possible. People didn't throw beams across the field like maniacal wizards from fantasy books.
"That, my friend, was pure evil."
Keith twisted his head to the side, his eyes when wide when it appeared as if the cat had been the one to speak.
"Please tell me you're the one who said that, kid."
David Laskey shook his head. "Nope. Can't say it was me. But take it from someone of experience, a cat talking isn't the most fantastical thing that can happen around here."
"Did you say 'cat talking'?" Keith crawled backward away from the two of them. When he was able to open both eyes, he realized the boy didn't seem quite solid either.
"Hello. I'm standing right here," Maurice mewled. "It isn't polite to talk about someone who is standing right in front of you."
"You did talk." Keith stood and tried to place a steadying hand on David's shoulder, but it passed right through his form as if the boy wasn't really there at all.
"Oh, my God," he said, falling to the ground once more. "I'm losing my mind."
Sabrina Michaels struggled with the shackles binding her hands and feet.
"I have to get out of here," she coached herself. Sabrina had been having the most horrible visions of her entire life. Never before has see witnessed such horrors in her mind. It made her believe all of Dawson's claims about Hollow Creek. She wasn't one to tell others about her 'gift' at reading the minds of people, but the minds she had encountered while in the strange town all had a unusual sort of vile, evil bent to them.
"Evil? You think we're evil?" Dawson asked. He had suddenly appeared in the room as if by magic. She hadn't heard him approach.
"What are you talking about?" Sabrina didn't want to believe that a man as horrible as Dawson Barker also shared her gift of 'the sight'.
"Don't play coy with me, my dear. You were just thinking how evil we all are in this town." Dawson tilted his blonde head to one side. "I guess that conclusion is only logical considering the spell binding the town captures only the evil and keeps them all from leaving."
"You're out of your mind," she stuttered. The closer Barker came to touching her, the more evil she felt coming off of him like steam from a frying pan.
"You'll get used to all of us," he assured her. Barker ran his hand down Sabrina's hair and smelled the lush fragrance of her shampoo. "Because you'll be my guest in The Hollow for a very, very long time."
It was in that moment the man stirring beside her opened his eyes, and Sabrina wondered if Barker was right and he to was a monster.
Lane Larson projected his astral image to where he felt Ella's presence most strongly. Usually, he had the power to fight or pick up objects with his astral hand, but this was different. This was Ella. The one woman who had stood by him and Nicholas for centuries.
His hand shook as he leaned down to where Ella Morris's body was slumped on the ground. Lane couldn't make his hand solid enough to touch her or comfort her. Only in times of severe mental duress would he lose the ability to touch and feel.
"Wake up," Lane commanded her. "Wake up, Ella. You can't die this way."
Nicholas de Charme's form appeared through the trees like a dark knight. The horrified look on his face was one Lane was sure mirrored his own. So many people had been taken from him over the years. His first love Violet and now Ella. Why God? He wanted to cry, but he wasn't sure if God listened to the prayers of creatures like him and Nicholas.
"How is she?" Nicholas asked, kneeling at Ella's side.
"I don't think she's breathing, Nick. We need someone who can help her and it is not you or me. We're vampires. We don't breathe!"
"You may have been injected with a vampire virus, but you can still simulate breath in your astral state."
"No, Nick. I tried to touch her, and I couldn't. She could die before I get control of my astral image again."
"If you don't try, then she really is a dead woman!"
Livvie McDaniels sat dumbfounded. A two foot wizard with red hair had nearly run her down and quoted her a curse for good measure. Why had Hampton, her angel case worker, sent Figment in her direction? She didn't have the creativity to contemplate.
A bit of light approached Livvie carefully. It was a small fairy who warned her that another woman needed her assistance. As swiftly as the fairy came, she darted away again.
"Hey, don't leave." Livvie needed to know where this woman was and how to help her.
Fairy's weren't known for sticking around in times of trouble. They were too afraid of capture to do that. Livvie disappeared then reappeared where the fairy was hiding.
She now had the fairy in her grasp. "Tell me where the woman is and I'll let you go."
It only took a second for the shining being to leak her information and dart away a second time. Livvie was sure it was Hampton who had brought the fairy to her. Maybe this was one of the reasons she was here.
She only hoped she could get to the woman in time.
Something was wrong, very very wrong. Cora Laskey could feel it building inside her. She couldn't pin point the exact reason for this discomfort, but she knew that it, whatever it was, was coming forth.
She glanced nervously around the large main hall of the de Charme mansion. Nothing seemed out of place, but then again, she didn't know anything about this ancient house. As she walked the outskirts of the room searching for the object of her discomfort, she passed an old and dusty mirror. Layers of dust covered its surface as if no one had dared look at their reflection in it in a very long time.
Cora swiped a hand across the reflective surface taking with it cobwebs and grime. What stared back at her was her own image, but something was strange about it. It seemed as if something was emanating from the mirror. She couldn't explain what really. It just felt evil and old.
"Finally, you have found me." The voice startled Cora. She glanced around swiftly to see whom was addressing her, but the room was mysteriously empty.
"Not out there," the voice continued. "In here. In front of you."
Cora's eyes grew wide as she realized it was her own reflection in the mirror that was talking to her.
"This isn't real,"Cora whispered. "Reflections don't talk."
"I'm not your reflection." The woman from the mirror taunted her. "I am your past. I am your destiny! Now, you must hurry. There is a box hidden below this mirror. It is hidden by a cloaking spell. Open it and release me!"