Chapter OneThis is a featured page


Chapter One

The truck roared down the Oakland Bay Bridge, fog lights blaring dimly as it drove through the misty late night fog and headed towards San Francisco.

Benicio slept silently in the passenger seat, his head lolled on the side of the window with a string of drool running down the edge of his gaping mouth. The shadows played and streaked across his face as they passed the seemingly endless rows of suspender cables that held the bridge together.

A song called
Flashing Lights, by a man who called himself Kenye (or was it Kanye?), played softly in the background as Miguel drove on. He ignored its distracting lyrics and stared into the deep mist ahead with a nonchalant glare, musing on yesterday's hunt. Things he'd have to change, things he'd have to remember, little mistakes he'd try to make sure he never made again. And, most of all, things he'd need to teach Benicio. Even after all these years, the boy still needed teaching.

His eyes shifted in his son's direction. He moved, positioning himself more comfortably and wiping the drool off his face before falling back asleep.

The soft features on Benicio's sleeping face reminded him of Elicia and he found himself drowning in the memories that had haunted him since her disappearance. Slightly frustrated with his inability to control these thoughts, Miguel turned the dial away from Kenye's
Flashing Lights and onto the local country station. He raised the volume when he heard Johnny Cash and his trademark, rustic guitar chords, played with sadness only dead men were supposed to know.

As they approached the end of the bridge, and the city lights ahead emerged from the fog like a thousand blinking eyes, Miguel clenched his fist and gave his son a rough nudge on the shoulder.

Levantate.” He growled in his usual rough and gruff tone of voice. “Get up, you sloth. We’ve arrived.” Benicio mumbled a soft string of gibberish before falling back asleep and Miguel, not one for waiting around, grabbed his son’s arm and squeezed.

“AAY!” Benicio cried out as his father’s powerful grip painfully squeezed down on muscle and bone. “Damn it, old man! Let go!”

Miguel took a moment to turn to Benicio and arch his eyebrow, before letting go of his grip and turning back to the road with both hands on the wheel. Benicio hissed in pain, rubbing at the area where his arm had been squeezed, and gave a deep yawn.

“Could have at least
tried to wake me up with words first, y’know.”

“I did.”

“No, you didn’t. I didn’t hear you.”

“Yes, I did. You wouldn’t wake up.”

always wake up.”

Miguel turned to Benicio and glared, as the truck continued down the bridge and neared the exit ramp. Benicio faltered in his opinion, always a little uneasy under his father’s hardened stare, and quickly got the point. He was wrong and the old man was right. Like always. But when his father continued to stare at him, ignoring the road ahead of them and the approaching exit ramp, he started to worry.

“Hey, uh… I get it.” He started, straightening a little in his seat. He turned forward. The exit ramp was less than a second away. “Dad! We’re gonna miss the-“

There was a sudden screech of tires and the truck swiftly swerved onto the exit ramp, barely missing a collision course with the concrete divider that separated ramp from road and forcing Benicio’s body against the passenger’s window.

Sh!t!” Benicio cursed, trying to compose himself after the wild and unexpected turn. “Don’t do that!"

Miguel released a chorus of throaty laughter. “You scare too easily,

They arrived on the scene just in time to see Harvey driving down Kearny street in his pale green, ‘71 Chevelle Malibu 350, growling like a old dog with a grudge. He waved at them from afar, sticking nearly his entire arm out the window and gesturing towards a fairly cluttered parking lot nearby. They both pulled in, maneuvering past news station vans, police cruisers and people preparing their camera equipment, when finally they reached an empty area in the foggy corner.

Harvey parked his car a few spaces away from Miguel’s ’69 Chevrolet C-10 and stepped out, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses and zipping up his cheap brown jacket after experiencing the bone-chilling cold outside the warmth of his car.

Both Miguel and Benicio promptly stepped out to greet him, each giving the man a firm handshake and a soft pat on the back.

“Nice to see you again, Miguel. And Benicio! Boy, have you grown.”

Benicio smirked. “What’s it been? Five years, maybe?”

“Seven years, four months and… lemme think…ah! Three weeks, I think.”

“Your brain still tickin’ like that, huh?” Benicio chuckled. “That really used to annoy me back in the day, y'know.”

“Ah, yes… sixteen year-old Benicio Ramas. Such a pain to look after.” Harvey smiled, running his hand through his stringy brown hair and remembering the trials he’d had to go through trying to teach Miguel’s eccentric teenage boy how to recite a proper banishing spell. It hadn’t been easy and more than a few things had literally gone up in flames by the time Benicio completed his classes.

“You both just arrived, right?” He asked, turning to both of them.

Miguel nodded. “Right off the Oakland Bay Bridge. Just finished a job in Hayward. “

“The skin-walkers, yes, yes, I’ve heard. Nice job. Wouldn’t even had known it was you if Benny here hadn’t informed a friend of mine.”

Miguel gave a frustrated glance in Benicio’s direction. “You did what?”

The peaceful smile that had resided on Benicio’s face slightly withdrew. “Well… What’s the point in ganking a couple skin-walkers if we can’t brag about it later? I mean, we’re saving lives here! Harvey, you get me, right?”

Harvey responded with a chortle and a shake of his head. “Don’t get
me involved.”

Miguel pointed at his son with an authoritative finger, “We’re going to talk later
, vas a ver.” Before turning back to Harvey. “What can you tell me about the case, Chandler?”

Harvey straightened at the sound of his last name,
hadn’t heard that in years, and pushed his horn-rimmed glasses back when he felt them sliding down the edge of his pointed nose again. “Yes, yes, let’s discuss the case at hand, shall we? Very important.”

He turned and opened the passenger’s seat of his car, reaching into a messenger bag that sat on the cushioned seat and taking out a map. Paper-clipped against this map, which described in great detail the state of California, were several newspaper clippings. He shut the door behind him, flinching a little when it slammed with a loud snap, and spread the map over the hood of his car.

Benicio and Miguel both strode over beside him and watched as he began to explain.

“Like I had stated in the e-mail Benicio received, rather strange activity has been occurring lately. In the past two months, two weeks, and four days, to be exact. The first known incident occurred… here!” He landed his wandering finger on a small, red star sticker that had been pasted over an area called Half Moon Bay.

“What happened there?” Benicio asked.

Harvey nodded and reached for a newspaper clipping on the left side of the map, pulling it out carefully from underneath its paper clip and handing it to Benicio. “This happened.”

Benicio took the clipping and held it up so his dad could see. It read:


The black and white picture showed a thin black sheet, spread over the grass and covering what the title had described as 'charred remains'. The heap was surrounded by a group of confused golfers and police officers, most of them scratching at their heads, without a clue as to what had happened. Reading further into the article brought to light the testimonies of several witnesses, either working or visiting the Half Moon Bay Golf Links, and people who knew Frederick; the victim.

Benicio furrowed his brow. “Spontaneous combustion? Really?”

“Allegedly.” Harvey replied.

“Did you check for sulfur?” Miguel asked, turning to Harvey as Benicio continued to read the article.

“Yes, and people have only reported smelling something like it before I got there, but as far as I can tell, there haven’t been any omens in the area that suggest a pyrokinetic demon is in our midst.”

“What about spirits? Any history at Half Moon Bay?”

“Plenty- but nothing that lead to a vengeful poltergeist with a hard-on for golfers.”

“Ha ha!” Benicio laughed. “Check it out, says here the guy was passing gas that whole day. What a way to be remembered, huh? The fart guy.”

Harvey frowned. “Well, they do say that’s one of the warning signs of spontaneous combustion… excessive gas, I mean.”

Miguel ignored his son’s
idiotic comment with a grumble and continued. “So they smelled sulfur, did they?”

“Apparently,” Harvey answered. “But when I got there, there wasn’t a trace of the substance to be found.”

“Demon covering its tracks maybe?”

“That’s what I thought, too, but why would it attack a golfer in this manner? And why hasn’t it done so before or after? There haven’t been any more reports of spontaneous combustion or suspicious fire activity, and the victim was clean, as far as I can tell. A little too stuck-up, maybe, with all his wealth, but certainly not one for black magic or crossroad deals.”

Benicio finished reading the article and slid it back under its paperclip, while Miguel huffed out a breath and checked the parking lot for anyone who might be listening in or paying some interest to the three inconspicuous hunters in the corner. He knew there wouldn’t be anyone but it was just an old habit. An old habit that had proven useful many times before, and he had many just like it.

“So a golfer turns extra crispy in a matter of seconds,” Benicio started. “Isn't it possible that we might be dealing with an actual case of spontaneous combustion- instead of a demon attack or vengeful spirit?"

Harvey furrowed his brow. “I… suppose, so. And there are many theories that could explain it. Some scientists speculate that the electrical fields that surround a human body serve as an igniting agent for the flammable gases within humans, like the methane in our digestive systems. Others blame it on static electricity, or the psychosomatic theory but that doesn’t correlate-“

“Cool down, Professor Know-it-all.” Benicio interjected. “I lost you at ‘theories’.”

“Of course you did.” Harvey smiled, adjusting his glasses. “Still not the brightest bulb in the class, eh, Miguel?”

“Not even close.” He replied, scratching at the facial stubble that covered his cheeks. “So what do you have next, Harvey? I’d like to keep moving forward, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course, my friend.” Harvey replied and turned back towards the map.

What Harvey spoke to them about over the next few minutes couldn’t have gotten weirder if Russell Simmons himself started whacking it with a weird stick. After the incident at Half Moon Bay, San Francisco had become a haven for strange and unbelievable occurrences. There were reports of alien encounters, UFO sightings, mole people, alligators in the sewers, people stuck with funny expressions plastered on their face, people getting mauled on by tigers, people strung up in alleys with spider web, men waking up with breast implants and long hair, women waking up with full-grown beards and chest hair, strange orbs of light floating in the air… the list went on and on.

Benicio couldn’t help but think these were all isolated incidents, that each case could be explained by a run of the mill demon attack or some other creature of the dark, and he knew that the same thought had crossed his father’s mind as well. But each victim, the ones that had been attacked and survived, at least, had given clear descriptions of what they’d seen and nothing pointed in Benicio’s favor.

“Jesus… this can’t be true, right? Aliens and freakin’ mole people? C’mon.”

“I just connect the dots, Benicio.” Harvey replied, folding his map neatly. “Some of these incidents have gotten people killed. There’s something strange going on in here and I was sure the two of you would be interested in helping out.” After stuffing his map back into his messenger bag and shutting the passenger door, he looked at Miguel. “So... any ideas on what we might be dealing with? Because, quite frankly, I'm stumped.”

Miguel stared off into the distance and thought. “I’d like to see what we’ve got here, first. Before we come to any conclusions.”

Harvey looked over Miguel’s shoulder at the news vans and police cruisers on the other side of the parking lot. “Ah, yes… the exhibit.”

Benicio’s face nearly split open with his smile. “I definitely need to take a look at this.”

Miguel gave a grunt before turning back towards his truck and unlocking his glove compartment, filled with a variety of ID’s, paperwork and a single flashlight. Benicio followed, while Harvey returned to his ’71 Chevelle to obtain his own credentials.

“What are we going as this time, old man?” Benicio asked, holding the passenger door open while his dad shifted through the items in the glove compartment. “News reporters for Weekly World News?”

Miguel, not understanding the amused tone in his son’s voice, grumbled, tossing Benicio his ID. “News reporters for Telemundo. And no funny business, you understand me?”

“I’ll be as serious as a heart attack.” He replied, distractedly checking out his ID and alias: Diego Rivera.

Miguel shut the glove compartment box and emerged from the car with his own ID, a notepad and a black pen. He closed the door and, after checking that his car was locked, buttoned up his dark brown, P40 greatcoat and checked his ID.

Ignacio Zaragoza, reporter for Telemundo news and, for anyone who’d studied Mexican history, the name of the general in the Mexican Army who’d repelled French invaders at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

He slid the ID into his front pocket and nudged his black pen on his right ear, just as Harvey approached.

He carried a withered brown suitcase, which matched very well with the rest of his shabby clothing, and his cheeks glowed red from the cold breeze that swept through the air.

“All set, fellas?” He asked, stopping a few feet in front of them.

“Let’s go.” Miguel sternly replied and about-faced directly towards the crowd of people on the other side of the parking lot.

Benicio walked beside Harvey as they headed towards the crowd, hands resting comfortably in the pockets of his navy blue Sherpa utility jacket.

“What’s with the suitcase, Harv?” He asked, exhaling experimentally to glare at the fog of cold breath he’d created.

Harvey lifted the suitcase with both hands, holding it sideways. “This thing? Just a prop I use once in a while. And it’s not Harv, my boy.” Smiling, he traced a line beneath a brass nameplate on the center of the suitcase.

Marvin Radcliffe?”

Professor Marvin Radcliffe.” Harvey corrected. “From Pepperdine University.”

“I should’ve known.” Benicio chuckled. “Harvey Chandler, trying to spark up the dream of becoming a professor again.”

“One can only try, Benny. One can only try.” He grinned, pushing back his horn-rimmed glasses.

The three of them made their way through the crowd of news reporters, news staff, police and vehicles, not bothering to make eye contact with any of the cops for more than a few seconds and heading straight towards the corner of the street. The number of people they ran into intensified as they proceeded and by the time they crossed the street, heading directly for a recreational area near the Pier 35’s harbor, the crowd was too thick to maneuver through without shoving a few shoulders.

“They’re surrounding it.” Harvey said over the clamor of people and the clicking of cameras. “I suggest we split ways. Meet back in the lot in 10 minutes?” His eyes darted from Benicio to Miguel, waiting for their approval.

Miguel nodded and Harvey promptly disappeared within the crowd, squeezing between a cameraman and a rather obese gentleman and heading towards the center of all the commotion.

Benicio turned, eager to finally lay his eyes upon the reason for the crowd’s excitement, when Miguel suddenly grabbed his shoulder mid-turn.

“Don’t do anything stupid.” He advised firmly.

Benicio narrowed his eyes. “Why do you always say that?”

Something like a smile appeared on Miguel’s face, though it was too small to actually tell whether or not it was a smile or something else entirely, and he let go of his son’s shoulder- only to scruff up Benicio's hair immediately afterwards.

“Hey!” Benicio cried with reproach. “Not the hair!” And Miguel chuckled, in what sounded more like a death rattle, and turned around, blending into the crowd within seconds.

Benicio huffed and smoothed out his brown hair before following his father’s suit and merging into the crowd.

People shoved and people cursed, somewhere near a police officer demanded the crowd to disperse in a calm and orderly fashion. Apparently, a truck was coming soon to load up the anomaly and take it away. Those who were desperate enough climbed on the backs of their companions, snapping as much pictures as they could before their companions gave in and dropped them on the ground again.

“Move it, jacka*s!” Benicio shouted when somebody stepped on the toe of his leather shoe. He squeezed his way through the riled crowd and for a moment all he could see was a wave of wool jackets, flashing cameras and the back of people’s heads.

Then finally, he spotted a glimpse of glistening pale blue. A cop intercepted him as he moved forward.

“That’s as far as you go!” He exclaimed over the clamor, holding Benicio back. “No one’s allowed beyond this point!”

Benicio quickly glanced to his sides and noticed the other police officers, holding back the crowd and barking orders. He quickly dug into his pocket, almost falling over when somebody from behind shoved him, and showed the cop his ID.

With a slight Spanish accent, he said, “I work for Telemundo news! Can you tell me anything about what happened here, officer?”

The officer shook his head and pointed to a crowd of reporters surrounding a single police sergeant at the side of the crowd. “Press conference, there!” He replied. “Now please step back!”

Benicio nodded, but wouldn’t move until he saw the thing with his own eyes. To his luck, the officer leaned away and he finally managed to see, clearly, what Harvey had informed him about in the e-mail.

The crowd was surrounding a large block of transparent ice, and within that ice was the San Francisco Iceman.

Latest page update: made by october57rain , Dec 18 2013, 5:30 PM EST (about this update About This Update october57rain Edited by october57rain

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