For most it was a typical winter night in North Dakota. Cruel and harsh, with merciless winds. And fierce cold that chilled to the bone.
For others it was the beginning of an ancient battle. The nightmares of tortured minds.
Charity Froste closed her eyes. She could see the huge ugly bird as it descended. Red eyes glowing like the embers of fire. Snow white fangs that devoured everything in its path.
The wind howled, shrieked and sent forth blood-chilling screams. Tree limbs slapped and scraped the sides of the house, like the huge bird’s dagger-like talons.
The bones never lied.
Charity tossed the fossil stones, her eyes still closed. She would not easily be devoured. The white fangs, red eyes and razor sharp talons of the Piasa held no fear for her. She had faced it before. She feared little beyond the balance. And the balance had shifted. Billy had called the white wolf, weaved the dreams, and she had done what she had to do.
A distinct chill blew across her nape.
She opened her eyes, studied the bones. The bones never lied.
“Sure wish you was here, honey chile.”
Charity smiled at the huge painting of Marie Leveau, hanging just above the dining room mantle. Now there was a woman to be reckoned with. The most powerful voodoo priestess in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Marie smiled back at her, huge sapphron eyes glowing with unspoken knowledge.
Charity picked up the fossils and dropped them back inside the medicine bag. She listened to the howling of the wind, the ticking of the clock. She could stop neither the wind nor time. Nor could she change the entire future foretold by the bones.
Charity hefted her heavy frame from the comfort of the old rocker and threw another log on the fire. The weatherman had said the wind chill factor was once again below zero. Warned everyone to stay inside. But Charity knew there was one out there. She could feel him.
“They’s bad things about tonight, Mystique.”
The black kitten blinked her pea green eyes in silent answer, stretched and licked a paw.
Flames crackled and popped. “Bad things,” Charity continued to mumble as she moved around the small dining room. She’d had no customers today, and if the weather held, there’d be no customers tomorrow. She didn’t need the money, but she sure missed the company.
Shifting curtains aside Charity glanced into the darkness. The snow had stopped and she watched as the wind piled huge drifts around her porch. She’d have to get someone to shovel her out in the morning. If morning came.
Replacing the curtain she made sure the amulet was hung center pane. He would see. He would know.
She could feel the evil closing in. The room was growing chilly despite the roaring flames of the fire.
Crossing to the door she took a small vial from her pocket. Pouring the liquid in a thin line along the bottom of the door she prayed, “Give light unto my eyes, Lord, lest I sleep in death.”
Picking up Mystique she returned to the rocker, gently stroking the smooth black fur of the kitten. Her eyes disappeared into the folds of her face as she laughed out loud. “Papa La Das sure be angry tonight, Mystique.”
The clock chimed. The wind howled.
They thought her an old busybody. Warned her not to interfere.
Well, what would be would be and what was done was done. She’d just tipped the scales. Evened the score so to speak.
The lights flickered, dimmed and went out. Charity hugged Mystique closer to her breast, rocking in the shadows cast by the flames of the fire. “Yep, Papa La Das sure be angry.”