Episode 2 of the Time Channeler Chronicles, Fiery Eyes From Hell, introduces us to Cornelius Bones who Chase and Elise meet after their world went dark in Episode 1. How does Cornelius already know Elise? Chase also reveals more of his story, including a vicious attack by something dark and malevolent!
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The darkness morphed into a motley panoply of colors, vividly radiant, yet swirling about them in a type of fog. When the fog lifted the colors had settled into their new surroundings which greatly resembled their old surroundings except the building interior had grown even more broken and decrepit. Part of the ceiling had collapsed in the corner where the shadow had first been seen, and the wooden floor had grown spongy underfoot.
Elise was dazed and baffled, “What the hell was that?”
“Shhh!” Chase’s eyes flitted about. “This isn’t where we were supposed to end up.”
“I told you, ‘Shhh!’ Keep hold of my hand.”
A deep groan reverberated throughout the core of the structure, shaking crumbling plaster from the walls and buckling the floorboards beneath them. The door behind Elise blew open just as her world went dark once again.
This time when the color settled they emerged in some sort of archaic den. Dusty wooden bookshelves bulging with tattered tomes lined the walls flanking a solitary oak desk upon which stood mountains of yellowed papers and a single burning oil lamp. The must in the air hung on them like an old wool blanket, heavy and thick, but not mildewy like the room they had just left. Or was this the room they had just left?
Elise spun about and absorbed the design of the structure. It was roughly the same size and shape — the window on the far wall of the room in which she had met Chase Michael DeBarlo also sat in roughly the same spot, gazing out upon the backyard of the property, and the floorboards were eerily reminiscent of those that she had just witnessed buckling. The door behind her which had just blown open stood there still ajar, although far less weathered.
Elise wrested free from Chase’s grip. “What the hell is going on and where are we?”
Chase smirked. “From the look on your face I think you’ve already worked that out, but don’t want to admit it.”
“Look around and tell me.”
Elise opened her mouth to speak, but a scratchy male voice called out from beyond the door, “You there! Stop dawdling about and come into the parlor!”
“Who was that?”
“Do you want to ask questions all day or do you want some answers?” Chase gestured toward the door. “Let’s venture in so you can meet Cornelius Bones.”
Elise passed through the doorway first, followed by Chase whose eyes scanned their surroundings. The parlor seemed to be a cozier version of the den; bookshelves stood against the far wall to their left and small tables were scattered about stacked with either books or papers. Moth-eaten drapery fell down over two windows that otherwise stared out upon the front yard of the house, and blackened paintings of long lost country sides adorned the walls. Seated in one of two worn brown armchairs before a lit hearth was a short, plump elderly gentleman in a tattered blue waistcoast bulging at the midriff, frayed black trousers, and black leather boots, cracked and fading. His wispy white hair fell down nearly to his shoulders and he donned a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles. On the floor near his feet were the dark brown red remnants of a bloodied handprint.
He stood when they entered and addressed the pair. “Oh, hello, Elise. Chase… always a pleasure, of course.”
Elise looked to the old man, to Chase, then back to the old man. “I don’t understand. How do you know me?”
From behind his spectacles the man sighed, “You’ve been here before, of course,” then turned to Chase, “Where are we in the conventional timeline?”
“I’ve just met Elise tonight, and this is the first time she’s been here.” The old man laughed and shook his head, prompting Chase to frown. “What?”
“You have to understand what this must be like for me. I just saw you yesterday with Michelle, off together on one of your crusades, no less. But to you, in this very moment, how long has it been since you’ve last seen her?” Chase said nothing. “Four years, perhaps? You still haven’t mastered control.”
Elise was baffled. “Who’s Michelle?”
The old gentleman turned to the young woman and eyed her over the top of his spectacles. “And you… I am Cornelius Bones. It’s a pleasure to meet you for the real first time, apparently. You see, Chase is living with his guilt right now, but you haven’t developed yours yet. In time.”
Elise folded her arms and scoffed, “You don’t know anything about me.”
“Oh, yes, I do. You are Elise Hypatia, the only child of Theodore and Alexandra who died in an automobile accident on their way home from dropping you off at your first semester at college. You tried to go back, but it didn’t last as you kept seeing visions of them whether you were waking or sleeping. You spent the next two years intoxicated, but that didn’t stop the visions, and no amount of therapy could help you. But then you noticed that it wasn’t just your parents that were visiting you. Other beings were visiting you as well, and that frightened you more than the visions of your parents. There’s a quality about yourself, however, that trumps your fear, something innate within you that has ultimately brought you to us. That is your curiosity. You’ve been searching for years, and my friend here, Chase Michael DeBarlo, is the last in a long line of people from which you’ve sought answers.”
Elise stepped back, mouth agape. “How did you know all of that?”
“I know it from a conversation that you and I have already had, but for you, we’ve not yet had it. Funny… I wonder if there’s any point to us having that conversation now. It’s so hard to keep up with paradoxes, you know.”
“And if you know that about my parents, then why would you think I have no guilt. Of course I have guilt over that. Anyone can plainly see –”
Cornelius stepped forward, invading the invisible box around Elise that she had cordoned off as her personal space. He’d done it so quickly that she hadn’t had time to step back, and within inches of her with a cold, blue ice-piercing stare he whispered through gritted teeth, “You haven’t harbored any real guilt until you’re holding the bloodied corpse of the one you’ve loved as no other in your arms knowing that cause of their death is your fault, and your fault alone. Your parents’ deaths were the fault of a drunk driver, not your choice of university, but I’m telling you now that you will be back in this parlor one day with blood on your hands.” He sighed and pointed across the room. “That dark hand print on the floor near my chair is yours, my dear.”
Elise pulled away, tears welling in her eyes from the memory of her parents, eyes that darted to the spot on the floor where the remnants of the dark handprint lay. She pushed passed the old man, dropped her knees, and hesitantly pressed out her left hand across the print. It was a perfect match.
“The blood from your other hand ruined a shirt that I’ve since thrown out. Now, would you like some tea?”
Elise stood and collected herself, then spun away from the print of her hand on the floor. “This is supposed to be 1876, right? How could you possibly know what an automobile is? And, Chase, what the hell do you keep looking for?”
Chase’s eyes had continued to flit about the room since they’d first entered, and he’d since wandered over to the door near the bookcase to peer into the entrance hall.
Cornelius sighed, “I’ve assured you before that I’ve put up the necessary safeguards.”
Chase spied the entrance hall one last time then meandered back to the hearth. “You can never be too sure, and we can’t lose you.”
“One day, you’re going to lose me, my friend, but you will always find a way back.”
Elise’s head was swirling, but she had picked up on the implied connotation. “Are we in some sort of danger?”
Cornelius explained, “They’re drawn to the energy we emit. The dark shadows you see are any number of different entities, some worse than others, some not even terrible at all, truth be known. But there are some that are extremely malevolent, evil beings that wish to do you harm and drain you of your life’s energy. Chase can see them, too, although not quite as well as you. Has he told you?”
“He told me about when this really began for him, about being tied in a chair, and then about his friend Marcus and the balls of light.”
“Then he has only just begun.” Cornelius sat back down. “Do tell her the next part of your tale. It will help her begin to understand your vigilance.”
Chase scoffed, “My vigilance… as if I’m Batman. I wear a fedora, Cornelius, not a mask. Very well, then.” He gestured to the second armchair in the room, but Elise did not take it. “I followed the balls of that had raced away from Marcus’s body through the entrance hall and into the dining room where I found the bodies of Hal and Andrea Holden, the husband and wife founders of Society of the Haunted. I tried to call the police with my cell phone, but it was no use. It was dead. I was contemplating multiple homicide, maybe some sort of recompense for the case which originally brought us together, when I heard a commotion outside…”
Sirens and screams filled the air and Chase raced outside just in time to catch a glimpse of two police squad cars hurtling down the street. Front doors of the neighboring houses blew open and people poured out to the road running off after them. Something seemed to be chasing them, but Chase could not tell what.
“What the hell?”
From behind the short hedgerow that lined the sidewalk in front of the house across the street from where Chase stood he recognized a familiar tuft of blond hair peering out.
He raced across the street and crouched down beside the young woman who trembled at his touch when he placed a hand upon her shoulder. She didn’t meet his gaze and, instead, continued to peer out from the top of the short hedge.
Her whole body suddenly began shaking as if she just grabbed a live electrical wire. “I’ve never felt this kind of energy before!”
Claire Waterhouse was a 24 year old budding psychic medium still coming into her own. With long, wavy blonde hair, sparkling green eyes, and a fair, innocent complexion of the girl-next-door, she could have been quite popular when she’d gone to school. However, the other children didn’t understand her abilities, believing she was some sort of freak, and relentlessly teased her by calling her “The Claire Witch Project.” Now, she was experiencing something truly freakish, and very, very real.
Chase wrapped an arm around her to try to calm her down, “What are you talking about?”
Claire pointed a nervous finger over the hedge toward the intersection just another house away. “It’s trying to drain her.”
There at the street corner underneath the yellow glow of the streetlamp, Michelle Wu, Society of the Haunted’s case manager, was wrestling something dark and large upon her back. Chase squinted in a vain attempt to make out any detail, but the darkness twisted and contorted as the Chinese American woman writhed about, clutching at her neck. She shrilled out in agony, adding to the cacophony of cries and screams of the scene. Another squad car scorched by, but did not stop to help the woman, and, instead careened into a mailbox three houses past the intersection then sped off into the chaotic night.
Chase leaped over the bushes and raced to help her without a second thought. There was no making sense of the situation, the bodies he had found, the orbs of light he had seen speeding through the air, the chaos in the streets, and, of course, that vision of being tied in a chair. What had that voice told him? The words didn’t matter at this moment as he was about to throw his body at the mass of black and swirling smoke, but in the last step before he reached the two he finally saw what had a hold of Michelle.
From underneath the hood of its long, black cloak he glimpsed a set of eyes blacker than death, save for the small bands of red that encircled their irises, and the palest skin he had ever seen, milkier than the whitest ivory. Protruding forth from thin purple-blue lips were a set of razor sharp fangs that he could have sworn he had seen buried into Michelle just a split second earlier, but he saw no blood. Instead, what he saw of Michelle were dull, sunken eyes encircled by grey ash growing darker by the heartbeat. She was still writhing about, but her knees buckled as her breathing became more labored.
Shocked beyond disbelief, Chase was paralyzed to the sidewalk beside Michelle and gazed up into fiery eyes from hell as the creature rose up and loomed over both of them.
Watch and listen to The Time Channeler Chronicles “Fiery Eyes From Hell”:
Copyright ©2016-2017, Mike Ricksecker
Illustrations: Copyright ©2016-2017, Adam D. Tillery
Episode 1 of The Time Channeler Chronicles, Darkened World, introduces us to Chase Michael Debarlo, a former private investigator who has seen the darker side of the paranormal. A young woman, Elise, seeks him ought for answers to her own supernatural abilities in a world that has seemingly forgotten itself.
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“What happened is not nearly as important as what is going to happen.”
Chase tried to turn toward the voice of the one who answered him, but that’s when he realized he was unable to move. A faint light shone on him from above revealing to his sore eyes that he was fastened to a wooden chair. With hemp his ankles were bound to the legs, and he suspected that’s what had his wrists bound together behind the chair back. He guessed he was in an empty room, but it was only a guess since he couldn’t see beyond the small area the light encompassed around the chair.
“Who are you and where the hell am I?”
“Again, these are irrelevant questions. Where you are is not nearly as important as where you’re going to go. And they say you’re some great detective?”
Detective? Yes, he was a private investigator, but how come he had nearly forgotten that? It must have been one hell of a blow he suffered to his head; he didn’t even recall what he had previously
been doing before waking in the chair, yet his head felt no pain. Chase Michael DeBarlo, yes, that was his name. Had he really almost forgotten his own name? What the hell happened? Oh, right, that was an unimportant question. For some reason, Chase believed that was actually true.
“What do you want?”
“Now we’re getting somewhere! I want you to return, to integrate yourself within your fellow man, to even help them if you must.”
He couldn’t place the voice. It was male, deep with a touch of malice behind it, and it was seemingly coming from all around him.
“I already do that.”
“You did, yes, but that was a different world back then, all the way back to ten minutes ago.”
“I don’t understand.”
The voice cackled, “You don’t need to. All you need to know is that I’ve given you a gift, and when I choose the right moment I will ask for repayment.”
Chase shook his head. “I’ve struck no bargain with you. Let me out of here!”
“Oh, but you did many years ago, although you may not remember. You will remember, however, that you were here today when your world went to hell. Or was it already there?” The voice cackled again while Chase struggled uselessly with his restraints. “Oh, it seems you’ve dropped your hat.”
The familiar embrace of the black fedora slid down upon Chase’s head, although he did not see the hands that placed it there, and the room grew as still as death.
“Show yourself!” Beads of sweat trickled down his brow, the salt stinging his eyes like
tiny needles. “Damn you!”
The cackle emerged from the darkness one final time. “Touché.”
The tremor reverberated through the floor and jarred his comatose body awake. His eyes strained to focus, his vision warping in and out as if he were trying to view the world through the bottom of a glass soda bottle. He thought it may have been the slam of a door that had awoken him, but he couldn’t be sure. A door slam? Where?
He rubbed his pained eyes and shook his head as his surroundings finally came together. He was crumpled on the floor of a library in a historic home in downtown Fallsbury, Massachusetts. To his right a large stone encased fireplace gaped at him as if it had just spit him out while shelves of books and historic artifacts rose above him on the opposite wall. At one end of the room a set of French doors opened to a parlor while the other end contained a baby grand piano in a
half moon bay beside which an entranceway to the front foyer gaped wide.
He was just starting to get his bearings when he realized he wasn’t the only body on the floor. Sprawled out, eyes opened wide, laid the still figure of a dark, muscular African American man.
It was starting to come back to him. Society of the Haunted had asked him to tag along on one of their paranormal investigations. While he was a licensed private investigator, not someone who went out ghost hunting, he had previously been hired by the team during a case in which they had stumbled upon a corpse in another historic Fallsbury home. Since that time getting to know Chase, if ever they took on an investigation that involved the more historic locations in the area they would invite him along as a guest investigator. He loved the aura of centuries gone by that enveloped him when he entered such places.
This particular house was of Victorian vintage, built in the 1870s, and while there were certainly older homes in Fallsbury, this was one of the more aesthetically interesting ones, recognizable for its three story tower, wrap around porch, and the stone gargoyles that flanked the front entrance
The man remained motionless on the floor and Chase crawled to him. Marcus Davis was an electrical engineer by trade and the technology expert of Society of the Haunted. He had gone to college on a football scholarship, but focused on his studies when he blew out his knee during his sophomore year of school. Friends considered him a large teddy bear of a man, raising his 14 year old son on his own, and now he was completely comatose on the floor. Chase shook the large man, but he had seen dull, lifeless eyes like that before, and he sank back.
What he hadn’t seen before was the small blue ball of light that suddenly emerged over the body of Marcus. Chase stared at it for a moment, baffled at what his eyes were seeing. His head must have hit the floor hard whenever he passed out. He began to recall a massive wave of energy overwhelming him near the fireplace before blacking out. What he may have hit on the way down he had no idea, but whatever happened it was seemingly causing him to hallucinate, for the next moment was even more baffling.
From the French doors a red ball of light zoomed into the room and chased after the blue light which sped off through the doorway near the piano. Chase shook his head. Did that red ball of light have a tail? He wasn’t sure what he had seen, but the one thing of which he was sure was that his friend, Marcus Davis, lay dead before him.
“Why should I believe you?”
“You made the decision to believe me before you even walked through that door, otherwise you would never have come. But why should I believe you?”
She was young, most likely in her early twenties, with short cropped brown hair save for the looping bangs that fell into her emerald eyes, and a lightly freckled complexion that masked her age for a teenager. The way she carried herself, however, the manner in which she spoke with a cool-headed level of maturity, betrayed that youthful visage. It had been subtle clues such as these that Chase Michael DeBarlo had looked for when he had once been a private investigator, and that ability to assess still proved useful in his new occupation, so to speak. He was utilizing them this very moment as he carefully scrutinized the young woman who called herself Elise.
Her slender fingers protruding from black fingerless gloves straightened her worn denim jacket, a similar style Chase had once worn himself during his formative years. He had smirked when he first saw her, and inwardly chuckled at the notion that style always recycles itself. She stared past his shoulder and addressed his question, “I see it behind you. It’s in the corner, lurking, and I think you’ve known it’s been there the whole time.”
The room of the small abandoned house in which they’d met contained a singular light source, a small lantern that burned in the center of the room between them casting a small radius of yellow light. Shadows grew deep beyond the radius of that light, but in one particular corner the shadow loomed much darker.
“Yes, but you must understand. While you are standing there wrestling with the conflict of whether or not to believe me, I must also be sure that you are who you are.”
“Of course I’m –” she stopped short just before stating the obvious response that would have sounded utterly silly. “Are you always like this?”
Chase suppressed a grin. “I’ve always been a wise ass, yes, but I’ve grown a little more mature about it as I’ve aged in this lifetime. Tell me what you see.”
Elise suppressed her own grin and peered into the darkness. “It’s a dark entity, humanoid-type figure, no features… tall, perhaps as much as six feet. It’s just staring at us like it’s sizing us up.”
“And it doesn’t frighten you?”
She shrugged. “It hasn’t done anything yet to make me scared of it. It’s just… there.”
Chase nodded. “Good. You are one of the few that haven’t entirely been affected.”
“Affected by what?”
“Affected by the veil that’s been pulled over most everyone’s eyes. Some years ago that veil was completely lifted and the world erupted into utter chaos, but at some point that veil was dropped back into place, so far, in fact, that nobody even remembers that it had once been lifted. It’s as if the world has been going on its steady beat eternally and the atrocities that unfolded never happened at all.”
Elise shook her head, “I don’t understand,” then noticed that the shadow in the corner had moved. “Um, Chase, that thing is moving toward us.”
“I don’t understand entirely myself. What I know is that the entire world as I’d known it has changed; everyone that I cared for is gone and nobody even remembers that those people had once existed. There is something amiss, and you are one of the few that can see past that. You sought me out because you are seeking answers, like I, and know that I, too, can see past that veil.”
She was listening to him, but a concerned tremble crept into Elise’s voice, “Chase, the shadow.”
“I may be willing to accept your original proposition, but you must be willing to come with me to 1876.”
“1876? That’s a little high for the house numbers on this street, isn’t it?” The shadow now loomed large just a few feet behind Chase, seemingly growing taller by the second. “Well, we can find it. Let’s go.”
“What? Chase – the shadow!”
The tall humanoid figure, devoid of any discernable features was now right on top of Chase, nearly engulfing him.
“Take my hand.” He stretched out an arm in her direction, beckoning her to come forth.
“What? Are you kidding? Let’s just go!”
“Take my hand!”
Hesitantly, Elise slid her hand into his as the shadow bore down upon them… and her whole world went dark.
Watch and listen to The Time Channeler Chronicles “Darkened World”: