I have officially titled the August and Minerva Series August and Minerva, Investigators of the Supernatural. So far, it is one of my favourite creations, and it seems like it is a favourite on this here site. Without further ado, here is the second part of August’s Uncle Carl.
My uncle and I sat down to talk about the information we had gleaned thus far. According to uncle Carl, there was nothing terribly wrong or out of place with the apartment that Mr. Russel Stewart had been living in, except for the open window and lack of an occupant.
“It has to be Catherine Belmont.” said uncle Carl with a gleam in his eye. “This is the third suicide here in six months, and each victim has had some kind of relationship with Ms. Belmont. You yourself said that the blood was in the shape of the, uh, sign of?”
“King Bodon’s star. It is an arcane symbol; it comes from the twenty-seventh century SR.” I volunteered the information with a grin, proud of my knowledge.
“SR?” asked uncle Carl, “What kind of abbreviation is that? I know AD, BC, even BCE. But SR?”
“It is from the system that demons use. It starts from the day that the devil was cast into Hell. King Bodon was the ruler of Hell beforehand, and his servants wore the sign of their lord and master. SR stands for Satanus Rex.”
“You know this off the top of your head?” he said with a mixture of awe and disgust. He didn’t know exactly how conversant I was in the arcane, and was rightfully shocked at my nearly encyclopedic knowledge thereof. “So, what does it mean?” he asked.
“It means that whoever is doing this is trafficing with some pretty powerful creatures. Given that so many people around here are older, even elderly, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them might be dealing with King Bodon himself.” I dreaded my uncle’s next question.
“Then what do we do?”
“I call Minerva, and she brings the station wagon over and we work out what we need to do to strip this witch of her power before she manages to kill again.” I said, trying to seem as confident as I could.
“But what should I do?” asked my uncle, almost weakly. I didn’t realize how much this would make he feel bad; he was chasing after doppelgangers and ghouls when I was still trying to master walking. I felt as though I had barged into his world and taken over, leaving him to feel both old and helpless.
“Maybe you should go talk to Ms. Belmont? She’d trust you much more than she’d trust me.” Uncle Carl’s face lit up as he eagerly grabbed hold of his dilappidated tape recorder and rushed off with a grin. I pulled out my cell phone and called Minerva, asking her to rush over as soon as possible, and explaining everything in brief. While I was on the phone with Minnie, my uncle was knocking on Catherine Belmont’s door.
She was an older, well-to-do woman that appeared much younger than her eighty years. She wore a silky, multi-coloured caftan and long strings of beads. When she sat down to speak with my uncle, she was very pleasant. “She told me about her grandkids, her great grandkids, and she just wouldn’t stop. It’s like an addiction with some people; they just prattle on and on about relatives that you will never meet. But, I guess it’s good that she’s proud of them. However, she tried her best to avoid my questions. What I did find out was that she didn’t actually have any kind of relationship with Russel Stewart. She hardly knew the man, but she was rather disturbed about his death. I wish I could have asked her more questions, but she seemed to be getting aggitated.”
We waited on the patio for Minerva to arrive; I was astounded how quickly everyone seemed to get over the death of Russel Stewart. I asked my uncle what Catherine Belmont was doing in Russel Stewart’s room.
“She said she just dropped in to borrow a deck of cards because she was going to play a game with two of the other ladies.” Both my uncle and I considered this for some time. I was convinced that there had to be something more going on. Minerva arrived about fifteen minutes later, Tobias following her like a lanky, vertical shadow. He was grasping his nose; he could smell the odour of the place more keenly than any of us, due to his heightened senses.
“How can you not smell that?” he said in a voice made nasal due to the pressure he was applying to his nose. “It’s gross. Like flowers threw up or something.” Minerva, carrying a thick leather tome, seemed aggitated.
“No, I don’t smell it.” she said assertively as she greeted my uncle. “I hear you have a witch issue,” she said to me pleasently. “Do you think she’s going to wear a dominatrix outfit when the book comes out?” Both my uncle and I smiled slightly, not sure how to react. Minerva put the ponderous tome on the table with a thud, opening it to a page she had left marked.
“I don’t think it is a witch you are dealing with. King Bodon despises women. Are you sure you read the sign correctly?” There seemed to be something strange about her behaviour; she was acting rather hostile. Typically, Minerva was calm and cool, but her posture at the moment was aggressive.
“I know what I saw, but even if King Bodon hates women, he would still be willing to manifest his powers through them.” as I said those words, Minerva started to sneer. I could see tiny waves of energy pulsating up her arms, causing ripples in the light summer dress she was wearing. My uncle noticed it just as I did, and started to slowly back away. Tobias reached out, placing his hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her. She turned swiftly, and I was certain that she was going to slug Tobias in face. Instead, she met his gaze and fell into his arms.
“What’s happening?” he asked.
“I need to go,” Minerva said, “There’s something terribly wrong here. I’m sorry, August, I can’t help.” Tobias ushered Minerva away. I looked at my uncle Carl; he seemed to be piecing together an imaginary jigsaw puzzle. In a moment, his furrowed brow raised in excitement.
“Do you smell something?” asked my uncle.
“Yeah. It smells like old ladies, ammonia, flowers, and chlorine.”
“It’s the smell!” concluded uncle Carl with exuberance. “It somehow gets under a witch’s skin. Minerva used to be a witch, and just being here for a moment and was irritated by the scent. You can smell it, because you are a warlock, though it doesn’t plague you as it does a witch.”
“That’s one theory, but you’d need more than just an aroma to push someone to violence.” I was slowly being convinced by my uncle’s line of thought, but I found myself vehemently trying to disprove him. I suppose it is just a facet of his personality.
“I read somewhere once that sense memories are often the most vivid, and that the sense of smell often triggers the most vivid memories. Minerva said that King Bodon despises women; imagine if he was able to somehow trigger a memory inside of a witch that would push her to commit atrocious acts. There are some that suggest that people have a racial memory; imagine then if someone could tap into a person’s most primal fears, provoking the most violent of responses.” Uncle Carl smiled with self-satisfaction. His idea was plausible, but we needed to prove it.
I rummaged through the back of the station wagon. Luckily, Minerva and Tobias left it behind. I pushed aside a stuffed crocodile leg and rummaged through a box of old World War II era gear. Amidst the goggles, gloves, medals, and helmets, I found a well preserved gas mask. My uncle peeked at the tiny trove of treasures, avoiding asking me the obvious question of why I carried so much junk in the station wagon. I also grabbed hold of a length of parchment. I started to disassemble the filter cartrage.
“What are you going to do with that?” asked my uncle.
“I’m going to make a magical seal so that whatever spell is carried with the scent will be broken down.” Uncle Carl looked at me with a sense of wonder and respect. He seemed as though he was legitimately proud of me. When the entire mask was reassembled, we walked up to Ms. Belmont’s room.
“This is my nephew, August. He’s a investigator.” I could see Catherine Belmont tense at the word ‘investigator.’ I reached out to shake her hand, and saw that she was nearly shivering with fright.
“Ma’am, I think that I can help you.” I said as reassuringly as I could, “We think we know why these things have been happening, and I may have a solution.” Ms. Belmont tearily broke down after she donned the protective mask, telling us that she had used her magic to kill Russel Stewart and two others. She confessed that she had called on the powers of King Bodon several years prior.
“After my husband died, I felt so alone. I was too old to find someone new; my powers had atrophied over the years. When Simon was in my life, I didn’t need to use them anymore. When he died, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t restore my beauty and youth, I just didn’t have the power to undertake such a task. That’s when I called on King Bodon. The other witches here swore by him, saying that he could restore the vigor and blush of youth without exacting terrible prices.
“None of us knew that he was toying with us this way. I was too ashamed to tell the others what I did. Please, Carl, August, help me!” she broke down in tears, sobbing woefully. We promised to help, but first had to speak to the other witches…