The Sunday Witch Hunters: Second Contact
Good evening witch hunters 😀
Back after its hiatus is episode 9 of the Sunday Witch Hunters, for your kick of demons, ghosts and sexy exorcists. Sexorcists? Let’s not even go there.
The story so far…
17 year old Joe Malone is the newest member of the Muraluna Witch Hunters, a ragtag gang of exorcists. As Joe struggles to find his place in the complex net of romances and rivalries, he is blissfully ignorant of the demonic war machines churning under his feet; and that the Muraluna Witch Hunters may well be all that stands in the way of Hell on earth.
Characters in this episode:
- Joe Malone (17): student at Lochan Key High. New to Muraluna, Joe joins the Witch Hunters as much to make friends as explore his powers. He’s fond of Lily.
- Lily Buchanan (22): law student. A blonde bombshell with feelings for Knox. Lily is possessed by the shinigami (death god), Drake.
- Balthazar “The Chief” Knox (28): librarian and demonologist. The Chief of the Muraluna Witch Hunters, and Joe’s mentor. Seemingly oblivious to Lily’s affections.
- Presley Holloway (68): retired, ex-Navy. A veteran exorcist with an enviable repertoire of war stories.
- Bliss van Hook (84): retired senior citizen. Probably that “nasty old bat” your grandmother always bickers with.
- Iluka Wright (26): paramedic. Self-effacing and reliable, Iluka isn’t an exorcist, but plays a vital support role in larger demon hunts.
- Neila Speer (30): librarian. A straight-laced suit whose life’s anguish is to have Knox as her boss both at the library and in the Witch Hunters.
- Erin Ireland (18): shoe shop assistant. Probably a nice girl, but who knows? She’s easily overlooked. Lately she has taken to driving past Joe’s school in the afternoon, hoping he will need a ride home. So far he hasn’t.
And now for our feature presentation…
The Sunday Witch Hunters
Episode 9: Second Contact
“Last one to shut up shouts the next round!”
The conversation bundled to a halt. Attention swung to Presley. He let out a raspy chuckle and pulled his spectacles over his beetroot-textured brow.
“I thought that would get ya. Before we start, has everybody answered the roll?”
The conference room door was thrown open, and Joe staggered to the table, red-faced and panting, his jacket knotted around his waist. He slid bonelessly into the solitary spare seat. “I haven’t,” he gasped, “Sorry. Car trouble. Had to run here.”
Lily whistled. “That’s got to be five kilometres to here from your place.”
“Five and a quarter,” Joe nodded, apparently melting. “I counted.”
Presley plastered the role to the table and obligingly scratched off Joe’s name. The reins of the meeting were handed to Knox, who was too immersed in his first beer of the evening to notice. Bliss Van Hook gained his attention by smacking her cane into his shins. Knox dropped his beer. The glass struck the table and spilled across it, soaking the job sheets and running in rivulets to the carpet. Knox stared wild-eyed at Bliss.
“Have some sense, Van Hook!” he barked, leaving Sylvie and Iluka to mop frantically at the beer, “Don’t you realise it’s seven years’ bad luck for spilling beer?”
“Pup like you oughtn’t be drinking in front of all these wimmin and kiddies to begin with!” Bliss spat in return, “You deserve every minute of bad luck in that whole seven years!” And she rapped her cane over Knox’s shins again.
From the opposite end of the table, the svelte if stern Neila Speer adjusted her wire-frame glasses in no uncertain manner. “Ahem,” she went, and both Bliss and Knox glanced guiltily at her. “If you are unprepared to do so, Knox, then perhaps I will open the meeting?”
Sylvie, who was beside Joe, paused mopping beer to elbow him. She waggled her eyebrows. “Oh, isn’t this exciting – diplomatic rivalry!”
“Um.” Privately, Joe didn’t see the diplomacy of hitting someone with a cane.
“Listen, Bliss,” Knox was saying, “Hit me with that cane again and you’ll be wearing it as a hat. Understand me? All right, Ms Speer, I’ll start. Apologies for this meeting?”
He ignored Bliss as she continued to mutter and fume, and looked brightly over the gathered Witch Hunters. His keen black eyes settled on Joe. “Ah, Joe. I see you’ve deemed fit to join another meeting. I was afraid Miss Ireland’s expectations may have chased you away.”
“I put his shoes in his mailbox,” Erin retorted haughtily, as if this excused any transgressions she could have committed.
“Yes, thank you, I found them on Wednesday morning,” Joe told her. He decided against mentioning that although beautifully cleaned, his shoes were also frozen solid from the late autumn frost, and he’d had to wear his grandfather’s loafers for the second day in a row. Boy, didn’t his classmates have fun with that.
Presley coughed. “Moving on. Apologies. Last meeting we had all the regulars here plus Joe. This week Lee sends his apologies on account of a potty calf what’s got the flu, also Harvey on account of he isn’t here. All the rest of you lot are here plus Joe. Where’s that damn shinininny?”
This was spat out as one long unpunctuated sentence, in monotone, punctuated less with a question and more with an expectant glance at Lily.
“Ducky’s playing pool in the main room,” Lily said, interpreting quickly. “He’s possessing that Stevenson man, the one with the limp and the monobrow.”
“I hear he’s picked to win the tournament,” Knox said.
Lily smirked. “Sure is. Ducky wouldn’t back a loser.”
Presley raised his eyebrows as if not entirely in agreement with shinigami possessing people over a game of pool. He raised his eyebrows and continued, “A’ight then. Someone want to do the credo? We don’t hardly ever do it, Joe, but since you ain’t heard it before than you may as well know what you’re missin’ out on.”
“I’ll do it.” The strikingly beautiful Iluka Wright raised her hand. Joe had been so busy sneaking glances at Lily that he had barely noticed Iluka. He was noticing her now. Face the shape of a heart and skin as dark as molten chocolate, complemented by soft, clever charcoal eyes. She was taller than Lily, and looked stronger, with almost Amazonian curves. Her voice was as soft as the breeze. Joe thought he might have to check his chart again. “The Sunday Witch Hunters pledge to stem the rising tide of the ghastly undead, the demonic, the hell spawn, and the malevolent; the blood we shed and the comrades we lose will serve only to strengthen our resolve as our hearts are unified in the ether of the soul, a wave of light to crush the darkness. Amen.”
A murmur of “Amen” circled the table, until it reached Bliss Van Hook, who bashed a gnarled hand to her pigeon chest and bellowed, “AY-MEN!”
“And glory be!” Presley thundered, and saluted the picture of a fox hunt on the back wall.
“Alleluia,” Neila muttered.
“Anyone got any questions about the last meeting?” Presley demanded, relaxing. No one dared venture any such questions. Presley nodded, satisfied. “That’s me done. Take it from here, Chief.”
“Ad why not? I must earn my title and nominated role somehow.” Knox gazed fleetingly towards the door, as if the spirit hadn’t quite left the bar behind. He picked at the soaking papers in their puddle of beer. “First item of business: correspondence from Canberra thanks Ms Speer and Master Gasper for their participation in the annual OH&S training weekend. They especially thank Ms Speer for her suggestions for improvements to their program. They say that they will,” he sighed, “overlook Master Gasper’s indiscretions as a favour to Ms Speer. Honestly, that fellow. Caught trying to pedal codeine to somebody’s grandmother? Is that why he isn’t here tonight?”
Neila’s eyes narrowed. “With any luck, he’ll never be here again.”
“Amen to that. We do also have quite a few jobs here. They’re a touch on the soggy side. But if you don’t mind…”
He peeled the papers up and splattered them into the centre of the table. There was a brief, chaotic rush to shovel up as much damp paperwork as possible. Joe was surprised by the work ethic until the reasons for the hurry dawned on him: they were scrounging for the good jobs. Anyone who didn’t throw in would be left with, oh, say, slaying ogres in a lava pit or contending with haunted bed pans.
Seated slightly back from the table, Knox watched the other Witch Hunters idly. As usual, O’Roarke appeared to be a sleeping straggler left over from a previous meeting. He yawned and stretched as the job rush continued, and Knox glanced his way.
O’Roarke nodded. “Standard.”
“Did you try that album I sent you?”
What was this? Joe, who was far too intimidated to partake in the job rush, was suddenly all ears. The Chief, owning an album? O’Roarke, listening to music? Okay, so O’Roarke was wearing an Arcade Fire T-shirt over his worn jeans, but Joe had taken that for co-incidence.
O’Roarke nodded again. He faced away from Knox. He was wearing his Ray-Bans. Maybe he was a cool kind of guy. Or maybe he was a total snob. It was impossible to say.
None of this deterred Knox in the least. “Has it helped at all? There’s that track, six, I think, and as soon as I heard it I thought of you. Did it solve anything?”
“Hm.” O’Roarke yawned, and stretched, and dropped his languid posture so that he was finally looking at Knox over the tops of his Ray-Bans. His aqua-coloured eyes slid to Joe, then back to Knox. “It’s a good song. Good album.”
Joe found himself wishing that O’Roarke would say more. His voice was just … mesmerising. Such a gravelly, sweet drawl, a whisper on the verge of breaking into speaking volume. It sounded like it could get louder, much louder, until it shook the heavens and rolled like thunder across the Earth. Well, that was Joe’s impression. Maybe he was just being pretty. It was true O’Roarke’s voice was as languid and aloof as the man himself.
“I’m glad you think so. Anything I can do to help, you let me know,” Knox smiled. O’Roarke replied with a grin and leant back in his chair.
The job rush was over. Six or seven stray bits of paper were left sitting on the table. Knox pulled the soggy papers towards him and threw half to O’Roarke. They hit the table with a splat. With an expression of amusement Knox checked the scumbag jobs he’d landed. He looked at Joe.
“How’s your schedule this week? Are you available on Thursday evening?”
“For a job? Sure,” said Joe with a shrug.
Lily raised her hand. “I’ll be in on that.” She scrutinised Knox. “You are going, aren’t you? You wouldn’t let poor Joe go by himself.”
“It could just be me and you,” Joe told her.
“It could be,” Lily agreed slowly, “But it could also be you and me and the Chief. Wouldn’t that be better?”
Oh, I see what you did there, Joe thought. He forced himself to smile. “Of course that would be better. It’ll be a threesome I mean an outing.”
“A foursome, technically,” Knox provided, “I assume Drake will be along.”
Lily tipped her head and smiled at Knox. “You’re so cute when you’re being innocent.”
O’Roarke sniggered. “Who says he’s innocent?”
“You can go instead of me, if you like.” Knox told him, “We’ll see how innocent you are after a night with Miss Buchanan.”
So many thinly-veiled references were giving Joe chills. The good kind of chills. The image of Lily equipped with a thunder cannon blasting away at wisps, wow, magnificent. Although whether Lily was actually in the habit of going into battle in a camouflage-print bikini and combat boots remained to be seen. Oh, and Iluka beside her, blue bikini, plasma rifle. Did they even have those here? Did it matter? On a cloud of dreams Joe drifted through the rest of the meeting, smiling the whole while. Before he knew it the Witch Hunters were filing out of the conference room, taking Lily with them.
“Um, Chief?” Joe ventured, stirring from his daydreams. He waved brightly to Lily as she called a goodbye, then turned back to the table without so much as hearing Erin’s softly-uttered farewell. “Can I get a lift home with you?”
Knox was chatting rather idly to Presley when Joe broached the question. The three were alone in the conference room. Knox glanced up. “Oh, of course. I’ve my car back, so I can drive you anywhere you please. Except Tasmania. The state revoked my license there.”
“Thanks. Though just to my grandma’s house will be fine.” Encouraged by his lingering Lily-induced euphoria, Joe added, “What’s up with O’Roarke?”
It was the kind of question he immediately wished he hadn’t asked. All of his questions should have been limited to Lily, Iluka, and maybe Erin. End of story.
Knox exchanged a look with Presley. Presley started to laugh.
“He’s all right, him,” Presley snorted, capillaries flaring across his fleshy red face, “Dunno if I’d want to live like he does, but he gets on all right.”
Smiling and frowning at once, Knox asked, “What brings this on, Joe?”
Heat leapt into Joe’s face. He knew it! He should have just shut up. He stammered, “Sorry, I don’t mean to pry. Only you made it sound like his girl had left him or – or – or something.”
Now Presley really started laughing. He wiped tears from his eyes, his glasses perched on his quiff bobbing every time he snorted. “Holy, holy! I never heard the likes!”
“It’s not quite that sort of thing,” said Knox, eyes shining. “O’Roarke has a certain talent, well, problem, which causes him no end of trouble. I’d like to help, yet I’m rather limited. As are we all. The problem must be left to O’Roarke and O’Roarke alone. In the women department, however, I believe he’s doing swimmingly.”
Joe did his best to ignore Presley. “What kind of talent? Like a demon hunting power?”
“That does come into it.” Knox gave Joe a strained smile, and Joe knew he wouldn’t be hearing the answers he wanted. Well, Joe wasn’t about to be brushed off as some kid.
“You have powers like that,” he told Knox, and Presley abruptly stopped laughing. “I know. I know you do.”
Knox stole a glance towards Presley, who was staring at Joe, his face flushed but the mirth evaporated. Knox gave his trademark bark of laughter, and for once it killed the tension rather than sending it through the stratosphere.
“Oh, no, I assure you’ve I’ve nothing like the powers possessed by O’Roarke,” Knox said with a grin, “My meagre abilities couldn’t hope to match his.”
“Nor can mine,” Presley grunted, and Joe had the impression this wasn’t an admission he made lightly.
“No, no. O’Roarke’s talents far exceed our own. And yours. And everyone else in the Witch Hunters, probably even were we to combine our talents into one sort of giant demon-hunting chimera.” Knox smiled, pleased with this analogy. “It’s rather bothersome for him, but it does earn him a living. You can take a job with him one day, hm?”
“Hm,” said Joe, knowing he’d missed his answer.
Knox and Presley tried to return to their conversation, but Joe’s interruption had derailed it completely. Within a few minutes the three men walked together from the conference room. Presley grunted a goodnight and headed for the poker machines. Still wondering how he could get some answers, Joe tagged Knox into the parking lot. The night was crisp and cold. Joe opened his mouth to ask something when Knox stopped in front of a huge black shiny beast of a car.
“This is a 1969 Boss 302 Ford Mustang,” Joe breathed, gazing numbly at the beast of hard, meaty curves and fierce, boisterous lines. His questions slipped away. “Raven Black, if I know my colours.”
“She’s a beauty, isn’t she?” Knox slid into the driver’s seat. The locks were manual. The gearbox was an overhauled six-speed manual. The interior panels were red-washed walnut. The interior was cream and smelled of polished leather and fuel. It was a good smell.
“Is this really yours?” Joe wanted to know, climbing delicately into the machine, fingertips lingering on the upholstery.
“She’s a hobby of mine. One I rarely have occasion to indulge. I suppose she’s rather too splendid for me, but I do enjoy her.” The car roared to life with a rumble like distant machinegun fire. It snarled as Knox toyed with the accelerator, impatient for Joe to get settled. Knox’s fingers drummed the steering wheel. He glanced fleetingly at Joe. “Um. About the club.”
“There’s…” He sighed. “I’m sorry you can’t hear more about O’Roarke. I realise it’s frustrating, and you likely feel we don’t trust you. Please don’t assume that’s the case. You must realise one thing about this club and its members; we’re all here for a reason.” He seemed to struggle for the words. “You must understand people born with our kind of power don’t always necessarily become exorcists. It’s only some of us, and there is always a reason we gravitate towards it.”
“Sir. Everyone does everything for a reason.”
Knox conceded him that. “Yes. And, you will learn, if you stay. You will learn what it means to be an exorcist. To have that power. The more demons you face, the more demons you have. None of us are afraid of the night. All of us are afraid of ourselves.”
Sensing Joe had nothing to say, Knox flicked the gearstick into reverse. But he was wrong. Joe did have something to say.
That’s all for tonight. I hope this has been a nice kick back into the realm of the Witch Hunters. Join me again tomorrow for the all-important reading list as well as an update about the various goings on at the House of Malchien.
Until then, goodnight, and … happy hunting.