"Rush No More"

South Austria, All Hallow’s Eve, 1125 A.D.

 It was a dark, damp, and foggy that unholy night; the kind modern folks typify for a spooky Halloween.  In that musty old catacomb, all was quiet and dark except for the occasional sound of water seeping its way into the decayed tomb’s ceiling from the soil above, then falling to the ground in an ever downward direction; down, down, down as though it were headed for hell itself.

 And yet the room was not empty.  Something cowered there in the darkness.  Something on its last leg.  Something that knew it would pay for its crimes against the living and against humanity. Something knew that the bell was tolling its’ death chime and that the final hour was upon it.  Quietly it sat there in the corner of the tomb, a place of death it had often found solace in.  Silently it existed in its nigh-invisible, specterish form, undetectable by most mortals, except for the occasional chill it produced that made the hairs on one’s neck stand on end; except for the uneasiness in one’s soul that can only be described as a “presence” or as a feeling that one is being watched.  Noiselessly it hid from the eyes and ears of most mortals, hoping that it’s chameleon-like abilities would save it from certain demise by its righteous enemies.

 A light came from down the tunnel now.  It was an odd combination of torch light and a different, purple light emitting from a sorceress’ amulet.  As the mob of redeemers noisily and overtly approached, the odd light shone across the room, catching the spectre in it’s wierd beam.

 “There!” said the sorceress, as she aimed her amulet more in the direction of the ghastly creature.
 Its appearance was terrifying.  The ultraviolet light illuminated what looked like the creature’s skeleton.  It was twisted and deformed...barely humanoid in appearance.  Its skull, if it could be called that, was a misshapen and jagged face of terror with cracked teeth that ground upon one another in a vulgar manner.  The spectre hung in the air in a dark corner of the tomb, its frame surrounded by a dark myst of some kind.  The evil hunters could almost hear the creature breath psychically as it emanated a supernatural cry of frustration when it realized it was spotted.  The creature instinctively dashed to another dark corner behind the sarcophagus of a long-dead bishop.  Its jagged teeth began chattering in a warning to those who would approach it.  The sound of grinding bones and clicking jowls caused two of the evil hunters to flee in terror as the mere sound.

 “Karvalle, keep your magic on this abomination!  We need it visible” cried a warrior in full plate armor.  As he lifted his war-hammer into the air and his eyes glowed a fierce cobalt blue, a small sphere of bright light appeared in thin air before him and hurled itself towards the spectre, striking it, then dissipating violently.  The creature psychically squealed in pain and instinctively hurled itself towards the proud knight, still barely visible.

 Beams of torrid energy shot from the creature’s body as it clawed at the warrior’s body, melting instantly through pressed iron as though it were butter.  The warrior cried out in agony as the supernatural glow in his eyes faded in and out and he writhed in frustration.

 “Guhval!” cried one of the men in chain mail as he brought his shield before him and ran headlong into the creature in attempts to knock it off of his mentor.  The shielded warrior seemed to pass directly through the ghastly creature and run into a wall, then begin shivering uncontrollably from having contacted the thing directly as it passed through him.  The green light in his eyes, too, began to fade.

 “Buffal, only the crucifix on your shield can harm this creature!  You must use it to ward the abomination, for physical damage is nigh impossible!” cried an aging monk as he swallowed a vial of water.

 “Get it off of me!” cried the shivering Guhval as he tried to move away from the relentless onslaught brought on by the rampaging spectre.  It’s vile clicking teeth were only inches from his face and the dark shroud of myst that surrounded it seemed to grow and encompass the knight menacingly.

 “Tend to Buffal, Gabrina!” cried the holy man as he lifted a crucifix and then seemed to vomit forth the liquid he had just drank.  Approaching the creature, Gavin the Monk took a deep breath and crudely spit out the water he had drank in the form of a widespread vomitous mist.  Bright flames danced off of the skeletal spectre’s form as it left Guhval’s quivering form and backed away from the holy water it was being assaulted with.  The ghastly creature turned towards a wall and began phasing through it in attempts to flee when Buffal approached with his large gothic shield and began chanting prayers and invoking god’s name, ordering the creature back to the center of the tomb.

 Surrounding the creature the first and second generation Slayers all began chanting prayers and conjuring up a spell they had used time and time over in working to bring about the extinction of these vile creatures.

 “Back, dark spectre!” cried Gavin as he lead the chant.  “Back to the hell from whence you came!  No more shall your kind harbor terror upon the world!  No more shall you bastardize this holy place with your vile presence!  No more shall you prey upon the energies of the righteous and the decent!  Away with you plague-sever!  To death’s damnation for you and your kind for all time!”

 A brilliant flash of light, the rush of strange, conjured winds, and then all was quiet.  A group of twisted bones fell to the floor; the last remains of a dark and twisted race of supernatural evil that had plagued mankind for all of recorded history.  As Guhval’s greave crushed the misshapen and scorched skull of the last plague-sever spectre, all went dark in the tomb once again, and  a large stone was rolled back into place, sealing the holy burial ground forever....or so it was believed.

---------

Today

“I’m going to tell this as best I can remember it.  It all happened so fast that I can hardly believe I lived through it.  The truth is I got lucky and shouldn’t be here like the others who were killed.  But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.  Let me start at the beginning.  Things were going well that night.  Really well.  We were having fun. We were enjoying each other and the excitement of the night.  I had gotten to the Big Easy with a few guys from CWAL and the other Slayers from around Irvine early to find that the party had already started, so we helped our self to a few beers and Juss Nuse started working on his little spin that allows us to do this every year and not around any suspicion from the locals.....”
 
 

New Orleans, October 31st 2000, Sunset
(Darkness.  Then the crush of static as a picture slowly forms on what looks like a television screen.  Slowly we zoom into the screen as a voice becomes clearer and we can make out the form of a reporter standing outside amongst the brightly colored fall trees and amidst a group of loud, dirty revelers.)

“....is  This is Juss D. Nuse reporting live once again from the sultry streets of New Orleans, Louisiana where the annual festivities marking Opening night of the “Open Season on Evil” has just officially begun with a sunset toast and charge down Bourbon Street.  The festival is hosted every Halloween by a group referring to themselves only as “evil-haters” who we can only guess are playing upon the macabre joy that comes with Halloween tradition.”

(The shot pans off of the reporter and shows groups of drunk ruffians, most of them men, clanging together glasses of beer or bottles of hard liquor and occasionally indulging in pie fights.)

“...reportedly on hand tonight are “evil haters” from around the country and even from around parts of Europe.”

(The reporter turns to one of the revelers who seems to be dressed as a chimneysweep from Mary Poppins.)

“Excuse me, sir, but what part of the country are you from?”

“Not royt parht of this country at all, bloke!  Me mates and I boated in from Great Britain, we did!”

“That’s great, sir!  How did you hear about this “Open Season on Evil” festival and where did you get that great costume!?”

“Well oy uh...heard about this `festival’ from a mate in uh...Rome...who sent out invitations to most of the blokes you see ‘ere.  The `costume’ as you refer to it is just moy typical wuhrk clothes.  Don’t you Yanks ‘ave anyone to sweep your chimneys!?”

“Of coarse, sir, but none so colorful as you!  Thanks...”

“Step in toyme, mates!”

(The Chimneysweep links arms with one of the other ruffians and begins to do a drunken jig as the sun slowly sinks, turning a brilliant fall orange.)

“I talked to some of the festival goers today and here’s what they had to say...”

(Cut to videotape)

(An unshaven man in a t-shirt wearing a bandoleer stands holding a drinking horn and downs its contents while his friends wave frantically at the camera and make lude gestures.)
“Well, not much’s changed over the years. We basically run around in large groups and if we see any evil, we stake it through the heart or beat it with a blunt object until it stops moving!”

(The men in back of him cheer loudly while brandishing various makeshift weapons.  One of them grabs the mic.)

“An’ we get real piss drunk too!”

“YAAAAARRRR!!”

(A shot of a southern red neck with a beard  in coveralls holding a pitchfork)
“Well, we sorta compete to see who can make the most evil dead.  Halloween’s always been a good time to find lots of spooks crowding the streets aroun’ here, so we dont’ have much trouble finding things to kill. A lotta parents get mad when they see us running around with stakes and stuff, driving them into the hearts of whatever sets us off on the streets, but the way I see it, we’re doin’ them a favor!  Did you know the numbers o’ child deaths are always aroun’ the same as our slay total for the night?  Imagine what would happen if we didn’t drop all the little demons who roam these streets every October 31st!  ...so we keep tryin!  YEEHAAw!”

“YAAAAR”

(Shot cuts back to Juss Nuse with mic)

“Now these festival goers have been camping here in Audubon Park for the last couple of days, arriving by the thousands on foot, by motorcycle, in old pickup trucks, and even on tractors to perform their yearly ritual of “cleansing” on these city streets.”

(Cut to shot of a young man in a leather jacket and felt fedora)

“Yeah, me and mah buddies over dere just arrived in de technowinnebego after a road trip down from Californya.  Say hi, chauses!”

(Camera pans over to a group of apparently costumed freaks who are dressed as either bikers, aliens, or just plain wierd.)

“Hiiiiii!  YO!  AM I ON TV!?  MORE BEER!”

(One large, shaggy, grinning figure takes a pie and shoves it into the mouth of a guy holding a cattleprod.)

“Any good?  Probably not.”

(Cattleprod boy leans over a fence railing and spits out the pie.  He is joined by the seemingly drunken guy in an alien costume who seems to vomit out of his ear.)

(Camera pans back to the reporter and the Cajun guy in a hat.)

“California, huh?  I guess you guys are glad to be off the road after such a long road trip.  What is that keeps you coming down here every year?”

“Actually, de way Lothos drives we got here in under 15 minutes and are now wanted in seven states for highway felonies, but in answer to yer question, ah just like to bring down some of mah house mates every year to get a look at what fun we have at these gatherings and so dey can learn a little bit about where ah come from an’ have a little fun in de process.  Oh, and de beer’s free, so ah practically had to sleep bomb the guys at HQ...er...I mean at the “dorm” to get on the road without inciting a riot.”

“Actually I think it was nerve gas you used.”

“Thanks Gluey.  Anyway, Ah’m hoping to get me a couple of kills on them three foot Power Ranger dopplegangers tonight.”

(Nuse holds the mic down to a black man in a wheelchair, armed to the teeth on stakes, crucifixes, and sharp silver objects who seems to be in a particularly good mood.)

“And you sir, what brings you to Audubon Park this evening?”

“My name’s Chalis, from Natchez Mississippi and ah’m here for one reason and one reason only and that’s to get up out of this chair and fly!”

(The dirty revelers around him cheer and holler as they pat each other on the back and drink in heavily of their cups)

“Well, it sounds like someone’s had their share of `spirits’ this evening, eh folks?”

“There you have it!”  Chaos on the streets, and it’s all in the name of good clean Halloween fun.  This is Juss D. Nuse reporting live once again from the great New Orleans opening day for “Open Season on Evil.”

(Cut to live action in full color as we see a camera operator bring down his gear and shut off his equipment as Nuse wraps up his mic cable.)

GAVAL: You think they’ll fall for it?

Nuse: Why not?  They fell for it the last two years I’ve covered this thing.

(Gatral approaches)

Gatral: We can’t thank you enough for covering this event and helping us maintain our ambiguity during these dangerous times.
Nuse: (putting his notes into a briefcase)No big deal.  I claim exclusivity to the story, you guys provide me with good footage.  The world thinks it’s just some sort of Hick Halloween convention, and everybody’s happy.

GAVAL: Sure you won’t join us?

Nuse: Nah.  I hate to think of what would happen if someone got footage of me blowing away a kid in a Trick or Treat costume just because you Slayers thought it looked evil.

GAVAL/Gatral: Trick or wha?

Nuse: ...right.  Well, I’m off.  TAH!

Lothos: When do we get to start hacking evil to pieces and making smoothie out of their remains?!

GAVAL: As soon as you see em you can slay em!  Why, already this evening I’ve cut down four sheet ghosts, a three foot vampire, a couple of dwarf Sith Lords, and a mini me.  Funny thing is they were all carrying candy.

Gatral: Yeah, and they’re all short this year.  We must have taken out all the mature evil during the Great Holy War.

Cabbott: Come to think of it, they’re all short every year.

GAVAL: But that doesn’t make them any less evil...or dangerous!  For we are the Ambiguous Slayer’s Guild, and we must weed out the surplus evil and consume all over the quota pie and beer supplies as has been our charge over the centuries!

Fron: Whatever.  I just wanted to get oot of the cold weather for a weekend. (He jabs Lothos in the neck with his cattle-prod and chases him around a corner) WANKER-KIWI BASTARD! KEEP YOUR NASTY ASS PIES TO YOURSELF!

Exile: Wait for me!  You’ve got the keys to the Winnebago fridge!  AAAH!  (Exits)

GAVAL: Hmmm...now...what evil shall we slay?

(A couple of short  Buzz Lightyears walk by)

Cabbott: Wow!  Star Command in New Orleans?

GAVAL: It’s good to see we draw that kind of crowd!

(A little princess a pint-sized Chewbacca, and a pumpkin with legs stroll by dragging bags of candy.)
Cabbott: Man, this town is really getting strange.

GAVAL: Now, now!  We can’t go judging the good locals when we ourselves deal with the wicked and the strange on a daily basis!  AAAH!  What’s that!?

(A short little witch holding the hands of an even shorter zombie trudge around the corner and stop dead in their tracks as a handful of Slayers all reach for their stakes and shotguns and holy water.)

ASG: EVAAAAHHHL!

GAVAL: IT’s a witch!  She’s in league with the devil!  BURN THE WITCH!  EVAAAL!

ASG: EVAAAHLLL!

Little witch and vampire: Trick or treat?

Gatral: They cast a hex on us!  Fall back, fall back!  AAAAH!

ASG: NOOO! AAAAH!

(A hundred or so Slayers run deeper into the park and regroup to plan their next attack, nearly trampling a mini-princess Leah and a mini-merlin.)
--------

(Night has well and truly fallen on New Orleans and the Slayers seem to be slowing down as the number of “evil” on the streets has seemingly diminished in response to their success in slaying so many questionable entities on this October 31st.)

(GAVAL, Cabbott, Buffy, Jo-Bob, the handicapped Slayer Chalis, and Slayers-Red neck named Coy and Bub are walking down the streets or rolling in Chalis’ case of New Orleans near a cemetery in hopes of finding any remaining “evil” that may have manifested in the area.)

Chalis: Did you hear about the latest police reports?

GAVAL: Not good is it?

Buffy: I heard it was the same as last year.

Chalis:  The exact number of injured children reports matches the number of evil we’ve subdued or chased away this evening.  Doesn’t that strike any of you white folks as odd?

Coy: I don’t know?  Does it strike any of you paraplegic folks as odd?

Chalis: You don’t want me to get up out of this chair and shove my foot up your ass, do you incest for brains?

Coy: Stakes on wheels!

Chalis: Cracker ass white trash peckerwood!

Coy: Handiman from Harlem!

Chalis: Eh, Coy.  Say hi to your mamma when you get home.  You may not recognize her though when you get there cuz I shaved her back.

(Coy stares at Chalis for a moment looking like he’s about to burst as the other Slayers snort and giggle.  Then he bursts into laughter and pats Chalis on the back as they resume their patrol.)

Coy: You got me that time you coon-eating Cosby Show reject.

Chalis: Not as good as I got your mamma, honkey-ass pasty face!

(As the group of howling Irvine-based Slayers round the corner, deep in the heart of the cemetery they all stop dead in their tracks.)

Bub: Do you feel that?

Jo-Bob: Feels like pins and needles on my neck....what the?

Buffy: Cold....ALOT colder!

GAVAL: I can see your breath all of a sudden...

(Suddenly Cabbott and GAVAL double over in pain, followed shortly after by the remaining Slayers in the group.)

Cabbott: Rush?  HERE?!  After all the evil we chased this evening NOW we rush?!  (His eyes begin to glow royal purple)

Buffy: This is holy ground.  What could possibly Rush us here?!

(As all the Slayers regather their senses and arm themselves, they begin looking around for the cause of their alarm.  Chalis, smiling, reaches for the arms of his chair and rises from his mortal imprisonment as the Rush has temporarily repaired his damaged spinal cord and given him the incredible powers that come with enlightened blood.)

GAVAL: (unraveling his whip)Fan out in two’s and find whatever’s causing this...and be careful.

(Chalis walks up to Coy and whispers in his ear, teasingly)
Chalis: Fuck with me now, white boy!  (He grins wryly and motions for Coy to follow him as they head around a large mausoleum.  Coy shakes his head and follows.)
 

“I don’t know what happen to them from that point on, but I can guess after seeing what we were up against.  I separated off into a group with Bub because he was the youngest.  We patrolled the eastern parameter of the cemetery fully rushed when I heard a scream.  I couldn’t see where it was coming from because the graves around South Louisiana are all above ground and hinder your view in a cemetery.  The scream sounded almost inhuman in the terror it unleased, yet I remember thinking it sounded like Coy.  The next thing I know his body comes flying across the site and is impaled upon an iron crucifix that was fixed on a nearby grave.

I checked his pulse and knew that he was already dead.  The oddest thing was that the body seemed cold...drained...almost disconnected from the light that made us Slayers what we are.  My blood ran cold when I felt that absence in him and Bub was downright about to panic as we surveyed the darkness in hopes of seeing a glimpse of what we were up against.

Then that sound...that horrible sound...it was like the clicking bones against one another....Almost like the sound of a hundred skulls opening and closing rapidly.  If there had been a little moonlight that evening or maybe a little more street light maybe we could have seen something.  The next thing I see, Chalis comes running out of a mausoleum screaming at us to get the hell out of there.

I’ve seen that man stand up against the most sadistic and vile evils the human mind can imagine, and still his face was completely gripped in fear.  True fear.  Slayers are known to be fearless.  Death holds no threat to us because we know we’re assured a seat with the Divinity and that our souls are untouchable by the wicked, so what of this Earth could possibly have scared Chalis so deeply?

The next few moments happened as if they were in slow motion.  I saw Cabbott step out of the Shadows with Buffy and Jo Bob.  Cabbott, looking confused was the first to fall.  As he tried to ask Chalis what was the matter, his body suddenly jerked violently as the clicking sound got louder and faster.  An overwhelming sense of dread fell over me and I can only imagine the others as I saw Buffy go to tears and Jo Bob drop his shotgun and back away from Cabbott.

Cab’s eyes went dark and he fell to his knees as Bub, in a panic tried firing in the empty space near Cabbott.  The flash of the shotgun brought the image of something dark and wispy to appear just near Cabbott, then fade away with a ghastly image burned into my eyes as I winced from the bright flash.  The sense of dread took me even more as I realized suddenly that I was terrified.  Terrified for the first time in a decade....

Buffy and Jo Bob grabbed Cabbott with their enhanced strength, each holding a boot, and dragged him away at a full sprint as I saw Bub begin to shake uncontrollably.  The light in his eyes too went out.  Chalis moved to help him, but I grabbed his shoulder and held him back.  The blood coming from Bub’s mouth and nose and the void in his eyes told me it was too late.  Just like Coy.  We had to get out of there.  I concentrated the way Gatral taught me to and tried to summon the light to help me with whatever horror it was that I was facing, but the fear had me.  The chattering sound seemed to shake my very bones, and before I could stop it, I realized I was shaking uncontrollably just like Cabbott.  Just like Bub.

And then I felt it.  The Light went out of me.  The Rush was just pulled out of me as if my very heart had been rent from my chest.  That’s all I remember.

Chalis tells me he carried  me as far as he could before the distance from whatever evil was out there naturally wore off the Rush and he was able to catch up with Buffy and Jo Bob.  Then they took us here.”

GAVAL looked up at his Uncle Gatral and realized he was shaking again.  That sound...the clicking of teeth...it resonated in his ears and he wondered for a moment if he was going crazy.  “How is Cabbott?” he asked.

“He’ll live,” frowned Gatral as he turned away from GAVAL and looked down.  “Uncle Gat...what happened to us?  What was in that cemetery?  What could drain the Light out of a Pureblood like that?

“The light wasn’t just drained out of you and Cabbott and the others.  It was taken.”

GAVAL looked up at his uncle and tried to stand up on shaky legs.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean the Rush, GAVAL.  It’s been taken from you.  You...and Cabbott...you were victimized by one of the vilest creations under the sun...an ancient form of undead that’s supposed to have been long extinct.”

GAVAL tried to get his uncle to look at him.  “You can’t take the Rush out of a Slayer!  That’s like saying you took the soul away from a Slayer!”

Gatral’s voice was very low and very quiet when he answered.  “Yes.  Yes you can take the Light from a Slayer, and you need to understand this, GAVAL.”  He finally looked up and turned to his nephew, the young Slayer-Cajun he had trained since he was 15 and manifested the traits of Pureblood.  “You’re life as a Slayer is over, son.  Once you lose the Light, you can NEVER get it back.”

GAVAL’s jaw dropped and quivered as he felt the dread take him again.

“That thing out there took a piece of your soul that can’t ever be replaced.  We’ll see what we can do to stop it, but you’re going to have to come to terms with this.  I know it’s hard...you were just getting used to having the Rush, but you’ll be okay...you lived.  That’s important.”

GAVAL’s mind flooded with questions and sorrow.  Sorrow for the dead.  Sorrow for Cabbott who would have to change his life now, and sorrow for himself.  “Why?  What did this to us?  What did this to me?”
Gatral pulled his captain’s hat down to shade his eyes and spoke in a slow, deep, melancholy.  “You’ve been touched by a spectre we’ve not had to cope with in a thousand years.  It’s stories are the stuff of ancient nightmares.  The thing is for all intents and purposes a sort of Slayer Bogeyman come to life.”

Gatral put his hand on GAVAL’s shoulder and cleared his throat.

“Like it or not son, you’ve been touched by Plague Sever.”
 
 

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To be Continued.....

 Rush No More, Part II