Forneus Corson was one of my earliest stand alone novels and I really enjoyed penning it. It was because of that story that I decided to attempt a real thriller. So many had said that they got wrapped up in the thrill of the story that they often forgot it was supposed to be supernatural.
So…after a few asked if I would consider making it a series, I actually sat down and started a follow up. The premise was fairly simple…Forneus Corson would be changing places with his prey. This time, he’d have to go on the defensive and run for his life as the devil sent out bounty hunters to bring him the heads of those demons who broke rank.
Then I quickly lost interest.
Anywho, this is what I came up with at the time and just haven’t brought myself to deleting it from my hard drive.
Just keep in mind that this is the story in it’s most raw form. Unedited, no proofreader… not even a second glance.
Forneus Corson: Idle Hands
A stiff Fall wind blew down the long grey sidewalk as shoppers and businessmen hurried along their way. Traffic never slowed unless some idiot dared jump the curb and try to rush across the road outside the marked lines for pedestrians. To those foolish few, they were met with loud honks and heavily accented curses.
A tall, pale-faced man strode along with the ebb and flow of people as they herded themselves, mindless to the ominous grey clouds above threatening rain. Temperatures slowly dropped as the season pushed through, dragging winter along behind it, but the gangly gentleman in the long black overcoat never seemed to mind. He paused at the street corner and watched as more and more people pushed their way along the storefronts, their breath puffing from their mouths like steam from hundreds of tiny individual locomotives.
Turning slightly, he stopped and stared at the front of the antique and collectible book store and allowed the people passing by its doors to simply melt into the background like so much white noise. Tentatively, he stepped closer to the large plate glass front and placed a gloved hand to the painted surface. He could almost feel each and every tome in the building. Closing his eyes, he made a mental inventory and smiled inwardly. Something was calling to him and he knew he must have it.
Stiffening and squaring his shoulders, the tall man pulled his fedora down tighter and reached for the handle. A bell above the door announced his arrival and he felt the wave of heat from within hit him like a wall just as the smell of thousands of antique books assaulted his nostrils. To some, it was an unpleasant odor. To him, it was as comforting as a newborn baby to a mother.
The tall man stepped further within the store and craned his neck to look around. He slipped his hat from his head and quickly shook off the heavy overcoat. Like any other man of his age, he folded it gently over his arm and began perusing the stacks of old books when a young fellow with dark skin approached him. “Can I help you find anything in particular?”
The tall man turned and gave him a warm smile. “No, thank you. I’m really just browsing.”
“If you need help with anything up high, just let me know. I have a stool over here and I’d be glad to help.” The young man tilted his head and went back behind the counter to inventory the new arrivals.
Forneus Corson was many things, but first and foremost, he was a bibliophile of the first order. The older, the better. Originals were his first love, but he wouldn’t turn down reprints if the item was rare. He stood amongst the stacks and inhaled deeply. He could feel something drawing him to it, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint the exact location. Slowly he moved down the aisle, his hand held out in front of him. He could feel the pull, the tingle in his palm as something called to him. His eyes and hand scanned the rows until the tingle became almost a burn. Slowly, the edges of his mouth curled up as his hand reached for a well-worn leather bound item with no title.
As his hand grasped it, the tingling burn increased with such intensity that he could barely keep a grip. He slowly opened the book and was surprised to find that it was simply a copy of Tom Sawyer. His face fell as he realized that he already had this in his collection. In fact, he had a signed first edition. This one, while old and in rough shape, was not a first edition and it wasn’t signed by the author. His brows furrowed as he stared at the tome. His hand gingerly flipped through a few pages until it came across something that he didn’t expect. A single sheet of parchment, folded and placed in the middle third of the book.
As his fingers brushed the parchment, the tingle turned into an electric shock that ran up his arm and caused his shoulder to twitch. Painfully. The old man paused and cocked his head slightly to spy the shopkeeper still working the new inventory behind the counter.
Forneus turned slightly and unfolded the parchment. He felt a cold shiver throughout his body as his eyes scanned the document. Written in the antediluvian language of the angels, Corson had not seen the dead script in centuries…nay, millennia. What some early theological scholars erroneously called Enochian, the parchment was written in flowing script, and appeared to be in blood.
Corson let out the breath that he hadn’t realized he had been holding and spied on the shopkeeper once more, still toiling away behind the counter. Corson needed to know if the parchment had been penned by angel or demon. He held the corner close to his face and slipped his tongue out slightly. One taste of the blood and he knew. It was human. This was a demon parchment.
He folded the parchment once again and slipped it gingerly between the folds of his coat. Thumbing through the book once more, he ensured that there were no more parchments hidden within and slipped it back into the shelves. He continued to glance about at the various titles, but his mind was on the parchment draped across his arm.
Finally, Corson turned and approached the young shopkeeper. “Excuse me, my dear young man. I’m hoping that perhaps you could help me after all.”
The young man set down the book he was working on and gave the pale old man a smile. “Yes, sir?”
Corson pulled the parchment from his coat and held it out to the shopkeeper. “By chance, have you seen anything that has writing like this?”
The shopkeeper took the parchment and opened it carefully. His brow furrowed as he studied it. His head shook as he scanned the dead language. “I’ve never seen anything like this. What language is it?”
Corson gave him a tight smile. “It’s an extinct language. But I’m always on the lookout for more examples, or books on ancient languages. You know, to assist in deciphering it.”
The young man shook his head again and handed the parchment back. “I don’t recall ever seeing anything like that here, but there is a professor at the university that specializes in ancient languages. He might be able to assist you.” He turned and dug through a notebook. “I have his number here somewhere. He may even have other examples of the writing that he’s deciphered. It might give you a jumpstart.”
Corson politely waited until the young man handed him a slip of paper with the name and number then slipped his coat and hat back on to fight against the winter chill. “Thank you, young sir. I very much appreciate it.”
Slipping the parchment into his coat pocket, Corson tipped his hat and slipped out the front door. He quickly made his way to an alley and pulled the parchment from his pocket. As he read through the declaration, he realized, this was only part of the document. Demons, unlike angels, had a tendency to be quite wordy when writing, especially in the dead language.
As best he could tell, it was a decree. An announcement to all Hunters. Rogue demons were fair game, a percentage of their collected souls would be the reward for returning them…
Corson felt his blood run cold. He was a rogue demon. He had been for centuries. There was no telling how old this decree was. He had no idea how long Hunters had been out looking for his kind.
He quickly folded the parchment and placed it back into his pocket. He stood quietly in the alley and stared at all of the people walking by, oblivious to him and his world that was, for all intents and purposes, crashing down around him.
He forced himself to remain calm. While he had collected a fair number of souls, he saved just enough to maintain himself and keep a bit back for retirement. He was no crossroad demon, nor was he truly a ‘wish granter’. He simply made things happen, but only for certain types of people. Writers, artists, musicians…people who might otherwise starve without his services. Deserving people. People of the arts.
He flipped the collar up on his overcoat and stepped out of the alley and back onto the sidewalk. Best to take this problem home and put his mind to work on it over a cognac and a good book.
Corson stepped up the stone walkway to the entrance of his Brownstone and checked nervously over his shoulder. He laughed off his paranoia and unlocked the door to his home and stepped inside. The warmth enveloped him like a blanket and he quickly pulled his coat from his slender frame. He hung it carefully in the foyer and stepped into his library, parchment in hand.
Within the walls of his domicile, little could harm him and he knew it. He had placed enough wards and safety spells around his home that he should be undetectable by demon or angel. He laid the parchment by his favorite chair and poured himself a cognac. The large snifter clinked against the aged decanter as he filled the glass and he gently lowered himself into his favorite leather backed chair. Retrieving the parchment he looked at it again. The words were always changing, it seemed. Minor variations here and there, but they could make a huge difference in how the words were interpreted. He hadn’t seen this language in so long he’d almost forgotten how to read it.
He held the parchment to the light once more and read through it again. With a sigh he laid it on the table and sipped at the cognac. His mind wandered back to the old days. Forneus had once been a Great Marquis of Hell. He’d held a very important position and had twenty nine legions of demons who served under him. They did all the dirty work and he got all the glory. His power came from the ability to allow man to understand and utilize languages and rhetoric. So much so that even their enemies would soon learn to love them. He had so enjoyed his job back then. But then, in those days, mankind was mostly uneducated barbarians. To see that light come on, to see the recognition in their faces when they realized what they had been missing, it was priceless to him.
Forneus had consumed Corson after King Solomon had constrained him. Corson had been one of the four principal kings of Hell. To be constrained by a mere mortal was a complete embarrassment to demons throughout all of creation. Forneus knew he had to have Corson because he was the King of the West and Forneus had seen the writing on the wall…well, so to speak. He knew that the West was where the future of mankind was to make its largest leaps. With his access to the West secured, Forneus had his foot in the door. He came to the New World himself and began making his own deals. He bypassed his twenty nine legions and bargained some of the best contracts in the history of demons.
Corson sighed to himself as he remembered how his greatness was downplayed by the others. He was a fine manipulator, but he wasn’t messy like some of the others. The possessors, the crossroad demons, the negotiators, the tormentors…they became like rock stars. In his own despair, he fell off the grid and did something that he thought was unheard of. He stopped sending his collected souls to Hell. He kept them. He consumed them. He absorbed their power himself.
He knew better than to tap all of that power. Even with the wards on his home, tapping into that kind of power could easily cause him to be detectable. He knew he had amassed quite the collection over the centuries. Many who were famous, skilled and with a wide range of abilities. He tapped at his chin as he considered the possibilities. Professional Hunters were nothing to sneeze at. These are the likes to take on angels. And not just any mind you, but the big guys like archangels. The likes of Michael and Gabriel. No, to deal with a Hunter, he’d have to be very careful. And he’d need backup.
Forneus sipped at his cognac and picked up the parchment again. The wording had changed, but again, only in a minor way. The message was still the same. He folded the parchment and slipped it into his coat pocket.
If he is going to have to face Hunters, he was going to need a small army. And what better army to have then one made up of renegade demons. Others, like himself, who were being targeted. He smiled to himself as his mind formed a plan. He finished his cognac and placed the glass carefully on the table. He needed to do some recruiting. There was strength in numbers.
Abaddon stepped into the gloomy bar and stood silently by the door. He stared into the smoky darkness and spotted each of the other demons who sat in small groups and chatted or sat alone and drank in silence. Demons wearing the meat suits of bikers, drug addicts or even business men all tended to migrate to this particular watering hole. It was said that the bar was a sanctuary from all evils, even the evils of other demons wishing to do harm.
He stepped away from the door and approached the bar. “Something wet.”
The bartender gave him a suspicious look as he wiped out a glass. “Care to be more specific?”
“I don’t care. As long as it’s wet.” Abaddon took a seat at the bar and studied the others in the mirrors reflection.
The bartender set a draft beer in front of him and scooted a small bowl of salted peanuts closer. “There ya go.”
“Is it always this quiet?” He picked up the beer and sipped from it, his eyes still scanning the mirror.
“On weeknights, yeah.” The bartender wiped harder at the glass then set it down. “You smell familiar to me.”
“I should.” Abaddon finally made eye contact and the bartender shuddered.
“T-this is a sanctuary. No violence here.” He pointed a fat finger at the demon sitting on the other side of the polished wood.
Abaddon simply nodded. “I’ve heard that.” He tossed a few peanuts into his mouth and took another drink. “But I figure you’ll have to leave eventually.”
“Abaddon, there’s no need.” The bartender lowered his voice to a whisper and leaned across the counter. “It’s been centuries. Millennia even.”
Abaddon nodded. “Yes it has. And I don’t forget.”
“Is there a problem, Barbas?” A demon wearing a biker meat suit asked, doing his best to appear intimidating.
The bartender shook his head. “No, there’s no problem.”
“I’m going to kill him as soon as he steps out of here.” Abaddon stated flatly.
The biker stared at the somewhat large man sitting at the bar threatening to kill his favorite bartender. “Oh, you are?” He turned and laughingly called to his biker friends. “This asshole says he’s going to kill Barbas after his shift. What do we say to that?”
“You say nothing.” Abaddon waved a hand and each of the bikers collapsed, grasping at their throats, choking from an unseen hand.
“Abaddon!” The bartender yelled at his new patron. “Release them now! This is a sanctuary.”
Abaddon waved his hand again and all of the bikers were suddenly sucking in air, their hands still grasping their necks. The one closest to him crawling to his knees. “D-did he say, Abaddon?”
Abaddon nodded slightly and continued to sip at his beer.
“Forgive me, lord. I had no idea it was you,” the biker groveled.
“Beat it.” Abaddon placed a foot on his forehead and pushed him away. “As for you,” he pointed to Barbas. “Quitting time. You and me. We have an appointment.”
He stood and walked out of the bar, all eyes on his back as he stepped out into the dwindling sunlight.
And that was where I yawned big and pushed away from the story.
Not every word can be a golden nugget. 😉