Claire’s story continues….
After she slid the robins’-egg-blue envelope into the mailbox, Claire wondered if she hadn’t lost her mind completely. She loved Jaycee like a sister, heck better than a sister to tell the truth, but sometimes even Claire didn’t know quite how to interpret her actions.
True that Jaycee was a firecracker, and had a true redhead’s temperament, yet this time she added a bit of something else to her fury – the occult. Claire had never heard her friend talk of anything else but what was absolutely concrete and right there in front of her nose, but this time was an exception to the rule. Big time.
Claire drove out of the post office parking lot and wondered what would happen now. If anything, she thought with a sudden burst of depression. That idiot bastard who hacked her for what? two years? three? didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. That, she thought with determined realism, was the way things were.
It was a sudden flash.
Like something came out of the sky. Or the air itself. Or freakin’ nowhere.
There was noise. And a kind of smell that was so intense it made Claire sick in about a second. And then, just as quickly as it was there, the flash was gone, Like some kind of bad dream. Or a ghost….
All the way to meet Jaycee.
There was something lingering in Claire’s car that smelled like she ran over a skunk on the way home and it was now dead in the backseat. Ignoring safety and not caring about anything but getting the stink out of her car, she left the windows down and the sunroof open in the hopes that whatever it was would evaporate, got out of her car and walked quickly to the elevator and to the 11th floor where Jaycee lived.
It was a gorgeous place, and the only reason why Jaycee could afford it at all was a very generous inheritance left to her by her great-aunt Thelma, who died childless and picked Jaycee out as her “favorite niece” from a very large family. Everyone else was furious, but there was nothing anyone could do. The old gal may have been eccentric (she probably saw Jaycee twice a year at most) but she was sharp as a tack and could never be called anything else. And so the will was kept in force. And in true Jaycee style, she threw a big party for the entire family to attend when she moved into the huge place she bought with the large windfall. Claire smiled to herself as she pressed the doorbell button, remembering some of the sarcastic responses Jaycee received to that in-your-face invite.
“Claire, honey, come in!” Jaycee smiled and quickly turned to get to something in the oven that was beginning to smell a lot like a call to the local pizza parlor would be in order.
“Damn!” Jaycee burned her fingers on the pan in the oven, and frowned at the charred thing that was once a very nice beef roast. “I just can’t cook! I’m an idiot!” She tossed the pan into the sink, ruined meat and all. “Pasquale’s? ” She suggested to Claire.
“Sure. Make it a veggie-lovers this time.”
Jaycee laughed. “It’s the least I can do. I cooked a charcoal roast here.” She made the call to Pasquale’s Pizza, popped the cork on a good bottle of Chianti, poured two glasses and sat down next to Claire on the sofa, handing her one of them.
“So? Did you do it?”
Claire took a sip and nodded. “Yea, I did. But, something weird happened. At least I think it happened. I mean, it did, and you can still smell it in my car. ”
Jaycee’s blue eyes glowed. “What??” She wrinkled her nose. “It smells bad??”
“Oh God! Like something died! I left my windows open and the sunroof back to try to get it out of my car! It’s like a dead animal is in the backseat!”
Jaycee stood up. “C’mon. Let’s go down there. I want to see what you’re talking about.”
“What – now? What about the pizza?”
“Won’t be here for an hour. Lots of time.” Jaycee grabbed Claire’s keys and led the way out.
The rancid smell hit them within about 10 feet of the car. Maybe 20. Jaycee pinched her nose closed and turned around, “That’s disgusting! Damn! I’m gonna get sick if I go any closer!”
“Tell me about it,” Claire replied, grimacing, “I had to drive 15 miles breathing that in.”
Jaycee was already halfway to the elevator by the time Claire caught up with her, and she turned around with a very serious look on her face. “You have to tell me what else happened. I want to know everything.”
Claire talked quickly, and by the time they got back into Jaycee’s condo, the conversation about the monster was in full swing.
“That’s about what I heard about it, too. Just a flash.”
Claire looked at her friend with a rare determination. “I want to know everything from you, too. Tell me exactly what I did by mailing that letter.”
Jaycee shook her head and shrugged a bit. “I honestly don’t know. It’s all just a story. But it’s a bad one.” She took a deep breath. “There are reports out there about some kind of invisible monster that is attracted to certain shades of blue. The brighter the better I heard from some, and the darker the better from others. No one agrees about the exact color — but the results of that thing showing are all the same. Someone gets killed. Torn to pieces by some weird creature that growls and howls like a storm and smells like death.”
Claire caught her breath. “Damn, Jaycee! That’s what happened when I put that letter in the mailbox! But, it didn’t attack me or anyone else that I know of. It seemed to disappear.”
“Claire, I have to say something.” Jaycee bit her lip and looked a little nervous. “That thing, the monster, may have followed that letter to its destination.”
“What?? Why would it do that, I mean, with the thousands of other letters out there, surely there must be at least some of them in blue envelopes……”
“But not everyone had it in mind that the beast would follow their letter!”
Claire stared at Jaycee. Her voice was now much lower. “You mean to say that you willed the monster to track that letter?”
“Yes. That’s just what I did. In my mind, in my heart and with a lot of gusto I might add.” She paused. “Look I know that singer-dude. I know who he is. I’ve heard the rumors about that guy and I looked up who was playing near your cousin Linda’s that Christmas. I know him. He’s a sleaze. A bald-faced liar who had a great wife and family and treated them like they were nothing. He took up with some equally sleazy woman who bragged about their screwing around online and didn’t care who read about it. Claire, I feel no remorse here. If that guy gets his due it’s his own fault.”
“So – – you know who my hacking bastard is. But that doesn’t mean he should get torn up by something evil – if that’s what will happen.”
“There’s more to the story than just random attacks, Claire.”
“The monster picks out his targets it seems. There has to be a reason. That’s what makes the story even more incredible. The victims all turned out to be up to something bad, or illegal, or both. None of them were just nice people in the wrong place. It’s like the thing senses something about them, the guess is that there is some kind of energy bad people emit, and the monster reacts. Viciously.”
Claire sat back with a thud; the impact of what Jaycee just said hitting her hard. “You’re telling me……. that you tested him with this monster? And if the monster goes after him it means singer-dude really is just a hacking bastard??”
Jaycee nodded slowly. “I know it sounds impossible. I once thought so too. But, you did see what you saw, and you can’t deny that smell.”
Claire felt the tears come to her eyes. It was true that the man used her in a very bad way, took advantage of her naturally trusting nature, and made her feel like a stupid fool, but, should he be punished like this? Was he really any worse than other lying SOB?
Jaycee went on. “I know what you’re thinking, Claire. That this is over the top. I don’t believe it is. Not from what I read. I actually went further, and used some of my connections in the newspaper business to get more information. This guy is bad. Really, really bad. If he’s done half of what I’ve been told about – the monster will definitely attack.” She stopped to think a moment. “But, you know, for arguments’ sake, if your singer-dude turns out not to be the lying Casanova snake, he may survive. That might be a long shot – but it’s still possible.”
Claire didn’t eat any pizza that night. She couldn’t get it down. Before she left she took a can of air freshener from Jaycee and headed out. It would be a while before she talked to her best friend again, she knew that. She needed time and space to think things through. And wait. Wait to see what news came of her hacker.
As she neared her car, she began to realize that something was very different. It was just over an hour later, and even the pizza delivery guy, who had arrived just 20 minutes ago, had commented that “something must’ve died” in the parking lot, but, now, the air was perfectly clear. No odor at all. Not a trace.
The inside of Claire’s car smelled fresh. Better than just that. Like someone came in the last few minutes and cleaned it out – taking the awful smell and replacing it with a pleasantly sweet scent. Something like roses in full bloom.