“Damn it!” exclaimed Grant as he watched the beat-up Chevy roll down the hill and off the curve of the winding mountain road. He took a couple steps, lurching forward as if to save it, but the car was all ready tumbling down the steep and rocky mountain. He looked at the ground to see Kappa still laying on his back, wrenches suspended in the air. A small stream of oil was running down his arm, forming a puddle by his elbow.
“I’m really sorry, man” said Grant, his deep red skin blushing purple. “I had it! I sweat, and then it just slipped out of my hands. Kappa looked up at his friend and tried to smile. He really wanted to just let the incident wash over him; I will be the cliffs that stand unmoving as the waves crash against them. I will not let this get to me, and I will not lose my temper. “Don’t worry, Grant. We’ll just have to make the walk to Dunwich.” Kappa said, worrying that his feigned smile was too wide. He remembered the first and final time he had enraged an Oni, and he had no desire to test his limits with Grant. He had been fishing on the sea side when he first met Grant, who was in trouble up to his nipples. Grant had not always been an Oni, but the right combination of events fell in place to turn him into one. Grant had wanted to be a hero, but instead became a murderer. Since then, he and Grant had traveled many weary miles. It seemed like something was trying to keep them from escaping the law. The loss of the Chevy, and all their clothes and supplies was proof of that, or at least enough proof for Kappa.
Grant stared down to where the car landed and watched as a mushroom of flame exploded from the car. Kappa, adjusting the bowl of water he always wore on his head, simply rolled his eyes.
“I thought that only happened in the movies. How the heck did it explode?”
“Divine intervention. Someone is trying to hinder our escape.”
“What makes you certain?”
“My sandals ran away, then I couldn’t find my license when we were trying to get through the road block outside of Greenville. Now this.” Kappa brushed the dust off of his weathered green T-shirt and started to walk down the road. “Might as well get walking. Dunwich isn’t going to come to us.
Grant glanced down at the flaming wreck that had been his home for the last two months and chuckled. At least that took care of the mask. El Monstruo is dead and burned away. All that’s left is me, and a new life. He turned from the sight of the smoldering heap and followed Kappa, striding jauntily.
Adam smiled as he passed his hand over the shimmering orb. The image of Grant and Kappa rippled into darkness as Adam tossed a velvet bag over the crystal ball. Rita sat, arms crossed, glaring at the mystic, hating that she decided to go to him.
“Is he safe?” she asked, her patience wearing thin.
“In due time, dear.” Adam’s voice dripped with delight. “You never told me your friend was so extraordinary. One of the Yokai, traveling with another of their foul breed. This information is much too important to let go of without an elevation of price.” The mystic leaned back in his creaky chair, folding his arms over a cheap plastic medallion he bought at a Halloween store. It was enough to give him an air of authority, at least over the old ladies that were his usual customers.
“Buddy, you say ten dollars, it is ten dollars.” said Arouna with his thick African accent. Adam had nearly forgotten about the big man. However, he wasn’t going to be intimidated out of a few extra dollars.
“It is ten dollars for a question, but it is fifty dollars for my silence.”
“You are insane!” exclaimed Rita, shoving herself away from the table. “Either answer my question, or…”
“Or you’ll have someone beat me up? Report me to the police? Listen, I haven‘t charged you a dime yet. You want to leave? Leave. If you want me to keep quiet, it‘s gonna cost you.”
“And if we don’t pay?” asked Arouna, trying to look as threatening as he could; a smile came to his face much more easily than the sneer he forced on himself.
“Then I will talk about this. Maybe even blog about. I might even call the police.”
“Quit your bluffing. No one’s going to believe you anyway. Besides, you gave me my answer.” Rita stood up and saw worry cross the mystic’s face.
“But I can tell you where they are.” he pleaded, his greed getting the best of him. “We’ll just say twenty dollars, and we’ll be right as rain, how’s that?” His sudden pleasant tone grated on Rita’s nerves, but she wanted to know where Grant went.
“Twenty and we’re through.” said Rita, trying to sound like a shrewd business woman.
“He’s on the highway, headed North. He’s in the mountains, going towards Dunwich.” confessed Adam once he saw the wrinkled twenty dollar bill on the table. “Alas, there is someone that works against him, putting disaster after disaster in his path.”
“Who is it?” asked Rita eagerly.
“That is something I cannot see, I’m sorry.” said Adam, forlorn.
“All right. Thanks then.” Rita left the small room, followed closely by Arouna.
Adam watched as they left, a devious grin spreading on his face. He locked the door and turned his shop sign to the side that read “closed.” He went into his apartment above the shop; it was tiny and had a spicy smell about it. In one corner, a pile of cages writhed and shook.
“Don’t worry children. You’ll be going home soon. I found our erstwhile friends, and soon, we’ll be able to return home.” Adam watched with delight as an old paper umbrella in one of the cages opened a huge eye. A deep red tongue lolled out of its mouth as it let out a cackle of delight. Adam smiled a thin grin as his head rolled off of his shoulders and bounced into the kitchen. His body followed slowly behind, opening the refrigerator.
“What to eat tonight?” asked Adam of no one in particular. He looked at the shelves of the fridge and considered his choices. “Hands. I think I will have some hands tonight. Braised in coconut milk; yes, that would be fine.”