The Hangman's Noose

Billie Black and her friends are closer than ever before to rescuing their loved ones whom were stolen from them years ago. A journey around the country proves perilous when the coven and their allies come face to face with their greatest enemies.

A band of men hell bent on killing all that is unnatural to them - Witches, Vampires, Werewolves and many other Supernaturals flee from their path or die at their hands.

Billie can't rest till she knows her lost loves are safe but new knowledge shows they are defenseless. Learning all they can about these men they seek a weakness a chink in their chain of command and only one man may show them mercy in spite of his beliefs.

Now Billie must lead them all to safety or perish in the Hangman's Noose...

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5. Potion Time

Pressing the black side of the blade into my left palm I quickly slice through my soft flesh and fist my hand over the cauldron’s large rim before quickly passing the athame onto Ruby.  As all three of us bled into the belly of the cauldron, I deftly dug out my cell, warning Riley and the other vamps to stay away from the upper floors.  It wouldn’t do to have four vampires burst in on us whilst bleeding out.

 

Taking the athame along their palms again with the silver side they healed up quickly and Nana set about getting cookies and orange juice for us whilst Ruby called Torsten for an update.  I added another inch or two to the pool of blood gathering inside.  I was soon alone and only then did I draw the silver side along the cut on my palm.

 

Nana returned with OJ and cookies for me and left me to my potion, trusting my instincts good naturedly.  After necking the juice and eating the white chocolate chip cookies, I set the glass and dish aside and started working on the ingredients.  I found Riona’s large wooden stirrer and hastily began to stir as I squirted in half a pint of eucalyptus oil, followed by eucalyptus leaves, cedar wood, sandalwood and willow bark, for healing.  To show how personally, and strongly, connected we are bound I added some sweet basil, aster, ragweed and cardamom and a handful of moss for luck.

 

The tang of the blood filled the room, not once being over powered by the healing scent of eucalyptus.  The smell of sweet basil and cardamom grew stronger though and the black redness of the potion slowly started to change.  I don’t know why I said it or how the words came to me, but the spell seemed to shift and change the potion.

 

“Blood do thy will

Herbs heal thou soul

Over sea and hill

Seek what Dexter stole”

 

The scent of blood vanished as the red cleared and the potion shimmered, sparkling silver.  It looked like what I imagined unicorn blood would look like.  It was bright, twinkling and innocent looking, yet somehow it managed to smell like chicken soup.

“This should work.” I muttered to myself, smiling as I scooped up the potion into an empty nearby jar.

 

Riona arrived back in the living room with Rowanne, they’d been successful in finding something that belonged to Sophia and Vincent down at the old cottage on Ivy Row.  Riona gave me a silver heart-shaped locket, belonging to Sophia, which contained baby pictures of Ruby and Vincent.  Vincent’s personal object was something that once belonged to Pops, an old pocket watch with an engraving on it from Nana celebrating their tenth anniversary.

“You sure this’ll work?” Riona asks uncertainly as I take each item from her.

“Well, I just got a little nudge from Josephine on the spell-work so I’m sure it’ll work just fine.”

 

This seems to relax the room, that is, until I dunk the locket and pocket watch in the potion filled jar.  To be honest, I really didn’t know what I was doing.  After dunking them in the potion I pulled them out right away.  I held them both over the centre of the map, waiting for the potion to drip down, waiting and praying for something to happen.  But the potion stuck to the pocket watch and locket.

“Try spinning them one at a time.” Suggested Riona.

“Why?”

“Just do it.  May be it’ll drip off.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t.  I just have a feeling that you ought to spin them.”

 

Everyone in the dining room, Rowanne, Dulcie, Brian, Matilda, Ruby, Nana, Riley, Faith, Willem and Leonard, all furrowed their brows, glancing between Riona and I, hoping to see the right answer hanging somewhere between us.

 

Dropping the locket back into the potion jar, I took the chain of the pocket watch and fisted it in my right hand.  Hovering the watch over the centre of the map again, my right wrist flexes and the chain and watch begin to swing in circular motions.  Wider and faster it swings without any instances.  Just as I turn to arch a questioning brow at Riona, something pulls the chain.

“Okay, who did that?  Seriously, it’s not funny!” I complain.

“No one touched it, Bill.” Brian said, brows rising high.  “Something tugged it but it wasn’t one of us.”

“Swing it again, Billie.” Riley coaxed me.

 

Obligingly I swung the watch again never taking my eyes of it.  Just when I began to think nothing was going to happen, I felt the tug.  The chain slipped from my fingers and we all watched as the pocket watch, almost, flew to the other side of the map.

“Where is that?” I said to those on the eastern side of the map.

Faith, nearest, dutifully lifted the watch by the chain from the map when strings of the potion stuck to it like glue.  “This silver stuff has made a little ring around a town.”

“Which town?” Leonard asks.

“Hang on, let me clear some of it away, I can’t quite make out the name.  Let’s see… Boston.”

“He’s in Boston!  Vincent’s in Boston!” Nana cried happily.

“Torsten’s already there!” Matilda burst out.

“Quick, let’s find out where Sophia is!” Riona called to me over the raucous celebration.

 

The silvery potion still stuck to the locket just as it did with the watch.  Just like before, I had eyes only for the spinning locket.  After a couple of minutes the same tugging feeling pulled the chain free from my grasp and the locket landed somewhere to the west, on the other side of the country.  The excitement died away at once.  Sophia was very far away, I wasn’t sure I could make the journey but, then again, I did manage to teleport all the way to Germany, why not the west coast?

 

Matilda leant over the table and lifted away the locket – the potion still sticking like strings of glue – and cleared away the pool of silvery potion to reveal –

“Seattle.” Matilda whispered in awe.

“At least we know where she is.” I said to break the tense silence which had fallen.  “We should start making plans for retrieving them.  Matilda, call Torsten again, find out if there’s been any progress.”

“On it.” She said, getting to her feet.

“Dulcie and Brian, get online and list all hospitals in Seattle and find out which ones would care for coma patients.”  The two turn away together, searching for their laptops.  “Nana, can you put the rest of the potion into vials?  Just in case we need to use them again.”

“Of course, Billie dear.”

“What do you want me to do?” Rowanne asks.

“Get in touch with Lee, find out how Lexi is.”

“Bill,” Matilda called, catching up with Riley and I as we made our way to the kitchen, “Torsten’s at the coffee shop just now.  He wants to talk to you.”

“Thanks, Til.  Torsten, any news?” I asked, taking the cell from Matilda.

“He’s having coffee with a doctor.”

“How do you know she’s a doctor?”

“Her white lab coat is hanging off the back of her chair.  She has a name tag but all it says is Dr Moore.”

“Nothing else?”

“I think the name of the hospital is on it but I can’t really see it without getting closer and I don’t want to draw attention to myself.”

“Of course.  Can you describe what she looks like?”

“Yes.  She’s an elderly woman with dark skin and greying hair.  She has a walking stick – the handle is black but the cane is cherry red.  She’s quite short and she has hunched shoulders.”

“Are you sure she doesn’t have her full name on the tag?”

“No.  Wait… okay, I can see it actually says Dr F A Moore.  Does that help?”

“I’ll see if I can find her online.  May be we can figure out which hospital she works at from there.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“No, stay on them.” I’m about to say goodbye when I can hear raised voices from Torsten’s end.  “Is that them?”

“Yes.  Dexter’s really mad.  I don’t know what the argument is about but he’s not letting the doctor leave.”

“Do you want me to come get you?”

“No, no, I’ll be all right, Bill.  They’ve not even noticed me yet.  Hang on, she’s leaving now.  Do you want me to stay with Dexter?”

“Actually, no, follow the doctor.  But remember, she isn’t under Rowanne’s control – stay hidden and vigilant.  If you find yourself in trouble, call me and I’ll take you away.”

“Will do, speak soon.”

“Bye.  Brian,” I call snapping the cell shut and tossing it back to Matilda, “where are you?”

“In the kitchen!”

 

Riley follows me mutely everywhere.  When I shoot him a questioning look he just shrugs and smiles politely.  Brian and Dulcie sit shoulder to shoulder, compiling the list of Seattle hospitals.

“What’s up?” he asks.

“Can you do a quick search for me?”

“Sure.”

“Look for a Dr F A Moore in the Boston area.  I want to see if it brings up which hospital she works at.”

“Most popular result is Mercy Hospital.” Brian says, turning the screen to show me a snapshot of Dr Moore, on Mercy Hospital, tending to a patient.  She fits Torsten’s description.  Short, hunched shoulders, dark skin and short greying hair.

“Excellent.  Is there any chance they have a map or hospital layout online?  See if you can find the coma ward or any ward that would possibly care for coma patients.”

 

I leave Brian to search and follow Riley out into the garden, hoping for a moment of peace but Rowanne runs out after me.

“Bill!  You need to go get Lexi and Lee out of their now!”

“What?  What’s happened?”

“The Preachers are there.  I think they might’ve hurt Lee, I just lost the connection.”

“On it.”

“Not without me you’re not.” Riley warns, taking my hands in his.

“Be careful.” Rowanne says.  Nodding I blink and Riley and I find ourselves in Lexi’s abandoned hospital room.

 

All seems fine at first, the level is eerily quiet and empty.  We haven’t taken one step outside before I feel Riley’s grip on me tighten excruciatingly.  When I glance at him, I can see his fangs have extended and his eyes darken from pale grey to stormy grey.

“Riley, what is it?” I ask, trying to shake him off.

“I smell blood.”

“We are in a hospital.” I say, trying to sound contrite as I scold him.  “Riley, snap out of it.”

His eyes lighten a shade or two as he looks me over.  He nods, “Stay behind me, Bill.”

 

Out in the corridor, the nurse’s desk is empty and there isn’t a patient to be seen anywhere.  Riley stiffens, tightening his grip on me again as we stop next to the set of stairs Riley, Rowanne and I teleported from earlier.  Peaking over Riley’s shoulder, I watch as he tentatively pushes the door to one side.

 

Lee is lying unconscious on the floor, there’s an ugly looking gash on his fore head, another along his jaw and a scrape beneath his collar bone.

“Is he all right?” I ask panicked as Riley pulls me towards him.

“He’s alive, just knocked out.  Looks like he put up a fight at least.”

“Where the hell is Lexi?  You don’t think they got her, do you?”

“Let’s get Lee out of here first, then we’ll come back for her.”

 

Nodding, I take hold of Lee and leave Riley to watch over the stair case as I teleport home.  Everyone in the living room jumps startled, as usual, by my sudden appearance.  But I have no time to explain, leaving Lee on the sofa, I teleport back to the stair case and Riley’s gone!

 

He’s not in the corridor or in Lexi’s room.  I’m too scared to go outside, wondering where the Preachers are I hide in a small supply closet just outside Lexi’s room and start to astral project.  I’m next to the abandoned main desk.  There’s no sounds coming from the floor I’m on.

 

What has happened to Riley?  I’m terrified and wishing I’d never left him behind when he suddenly streaks through the open doors to the stairs with Lexi in his arms.  He’s panting and burnt in places but cradles Lexi in his arms as he looks wildly around.

“Bill?” he calls out.

“I’m here.” I say, shifting around a little to let him see my transparent form.

“What are you doing?”

“I didn’t want to come out in case I was attacked.  I’m hiding in the supply closet.  What happened?”

“She about took out everyone in the upper levels.”

“What do you mean?”

“They came back to finish what she started, she said.  She went mad when she saw them hurting Lee.  They’ve got Witches on their side, Bill.”

“Not possible.” I mutter, doubtfully.

“I saw them too!” he said frantically.  “What are we going to do?”

“I need to get Dr Moore out while I’m here and Torsten.  Put Lexi back in her bed, I’ll call Torsten.”

 

Blinking, I open my eyes to find myself back inside the supply closet then went back to Riley and Lexi whilst fishing out my cell to call Torsten.

“Torsten, are you okay?”

“Are you here?” he asks, sounding hoarse.

“Yes, where are you.”

“I just got outside.  Dr Moore and I were both outside when we saw the fire start and she ran in.  I had to go in after her; I knew you’d probably want to speak with her.”

“Is she alive?”

“Yes, she’s with me now.  Shaken up a bit though.”

“Where about outside are you?” I ask, turning to the window.

“Just by the little camper van made to look like a small coffee place.”

“Yeah, I see you.  Is that the doctor on the bench?”

“Yeah, she had to lie down.  Where are you?”

“Upstairs with Riley and Lexi, I had to take Lee home he was injured.  You haven’t asked Dr Moore about Vincent have you?”

“Not flat out like that, no.  I made a passing comment about coma patients and she said there are no coma patients at the hospital just now.”

“She knows something though.  Dexter wouldn’t have gotten in touch if she wasn’t connected.”

“I agree.  What should I do?”

“Stay there, I’ll be right down.” Riley had already lifted Lexi in his arms by the time I snapped the cell shut.  “Give me your hand.”

 

The safest place to teleport to without being seen was right behind the coffee camper van.  Torsten looked extremely relieved to see us appear relatively unharmed.

“Is she all right?” Dr Moore said, voice husky and hoarse as she leapt to her feet.

 

Even with a walking stick she managed to move at some pace, covering the ground between herself and Lexi in an instant.

“She’s fine, just over-exhaustion.” Riley said wisely.

“Let me see her.”

 

The doctor moved closer to Lexi whilst I took hold of Riley, indicating for Torsten to do the same, I grasped the doctor’s shoulder firmly with my other hand, trapping her between the three of us and transporting her to my room in New York.  She doesn’t react right away.  Still bent over, examining Lexi, we watch as comprehension slowly dawns on her very lined face.

“What the…” she began to say, her eyes wide and fearful.  “Where am I?  What did you do?”

“Dr Moore, please don’t panic.  You’re safe here.”

“Who are you?” she asked stunned, beholding me as if I was the creature from the black lagoon.

“I’m Billie Black.”

“Black?”

“That’s right.  I’m Vincent’s cousin.  I know you’ve been working with my uncle, Dexter Kerr.  Did he bribe you to keep my cousin comatose?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She started defensively.  “I don’t know what you are but you have no right…”

“Tor, be a dear and bring Rowanne up, won’t you?”

“Right away.”

 

Riley and I effectively ignored the doctor as she bristled with indignation.  Torsten came back with both Rowanne and Willem in tow.  Willem, Riley and Torsten all fussed over healing Lexi, soon to be joined by a conscious Lee who looked well again if not a little scraped and bruised.

 

Dr Moore jumped at contact with Rowanne.  Snatching her hand away from Rowanne, with a rather violent motion, she inched fearfully away as an angry growl came from Rowanne’s throat.

“Best behaviour, Rowanne.” I warned.

“Who are you people?” Dr Moore asked.  “How did I get here?”

“Dr Moore, my name is Billie Black.  I am Dexter Kerr’s niece.”

“You’re looking for Vincent.” She gasped.

“Yes, he’s my cousin.  Dexter has kept him from his family.”

“There are very dangerous men looking for him.”

“Yes, for all of us.” I said, indicating the others in the room.  “Do you know why?”

“Dexter made you all out to sound like monsters amongst other ridiculous things that shouldn’t exist.  Am I right?”

“Wrong.” Nana said, as she entered the room.  “We are Witches.  We are not monsters, not evil and we do not worship the devil.  However you or my son-in-law would describe us, will only add insult to injury.”

“And trust us when we say, you do not want to insult us.” Riona threatened, entering after Nana.

“Don’t threaten me!” Dr Moore spat.  “I have been looking after that boy for almost two years.”

“Where is he?” I asked.  “He’s not at the hospital.  You told our friend Torsten there is no patients in the coma ward.”

“I had him moved recently when a stranger sought him out.”

“A stranger?”

“An Englishmen.  I had him moved to safe place.”

“Where?”

“Like I’d tell you.” She laughed.

“Row?”

“On it.” Rowanne said, taking the elderly woman’s wrist.  “Where is Vincent?”

“No.” she protested.

“Where?”

“I can’t… he’s safe there.”

“Where is he, Doctor?” Rowanne asked once more.

“He’s… at my home.  Top floor, spare room.”

“Where do you live?”

“Revere, a couple miles outside Boston.”

I smirked at my cousin who grinned back heartily, “Well, no time to lose.  Let’s get ready.”

 

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