Author: Random Geekdom PM
Young Dani Dawkins is consistently abused by her father, until the day a mysterious force violently kills him. That is only the beginning of Dani's story.Rated: Fiction M - English - Supernatural/Fantasy - Chapters: 39 - Words: 33,963 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 01-16-13 - Published: 05-11-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3021527
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Dani waited hours at a coffee shop sucking down her fifth white chocolate mocha, playing on her phone, and wondering what to do next. She didn't know why, but she felt she had to go into the apartment where Ashley and her boyfriend Mike had died. Something was drawing her there. She was waiting at the coffee shop till all the cops left. After that, she hoped that the cops didn't seal the door in any other way than locking it because she had an extra key to that apartment (in case of emergencies). She didn't know what she had planned to do there, but there was no sense in contemplating it anymore. Exiting the coffee shop, she headed back toward the apartment a block away.
When Dani got into the complex and neared the apartment, she was on the lookout for any remaining police that might be there. It was clear so she quickly dashed under the concrete stairs to Ashley's first floor apartment. There was no police tape, which surprised Dani when she turned on the lights. Again, she didn't know what to expect, but the apartment looked normal besides the massive chunks of carpet that had been cut out of the living room floor. Must've been where the bloodstains were. It hit her then. All the trauma in her life should have made her immune to the sadness of losing a friend, and she thought it had, but she realized how wrong she was when she huddled in the fetal position and began to bawl. This occurred for about 10 solid minutes. Afterwards, she saw sudden movement in the kitchen shadows. No one was in the apartment, she was sure, but she still felt inclined to ask, "Is someone there?" To respond, a figure started appearing in the shadows. When it came into complete view, the first thing Dani thought was Grim Reaper. It was translucent but still managed to maintain a shade of grey throughout its body. The body itself looked like a cluster of dirty rags that would fade in and out of existence. Behind the makeshift hood, all that could be seen were the eyes. They burned with a bright blue that would eclipse the clearest sapphire. And Dani could tell by looking at those eyes that this creature meant her harm. This was what her mother had warned her about.
A man's voice all of a sudden rang from the door of the apartment: "Run, you dumb bitch!" Dani didn't bother responding to the insult. She was always hesitant to do something just because someone told her to (which delighted Aunts Elle and Denise to no end) but this time, she did exactly what she was commanded to do. As Dani ran to the door, the owner of the voice moved aside so she could get behind him. It was no coincidence that it was Mr. Goodman. For years, he had planned for this situation that he had hoped would now come to a head. From the sleeve of his green suit jacket, appeared a spear that shouldn't have been able to fit up there in the first place considering how long it was. Creeping slowly, the creature moved closer to the pair standing at the apartment door. Mr. Goodman grasped the spear with both hands then charged at the figure and thrust the weapon into its center. The creature screeched at the feeling of getting stabbed. Turning around, the creature floated away and disappeared along with the spear, leaving Dani and Mr. Goodman alone in the apartment.
Mr. Goodman stood there pensively as silence enveloped the area. The quiet was broken by Dani shouting: "What the fuck was that?"
"That was a wraith," Mr. Goodman replied while still facing the wall where the creature had disappeared. He answered without hesitation and as if it was an everyday event to see such a thing that they just had.
"Huh?" Dani pondered aloud and inquisitively.
Mr. Goodman turned to Dani and spoke to her with a stern look on his face: "We need to get out of here. I thought that spear would kill it but I underestimated its power. You probably have a lot questions but we have to table them until we get to someplace relatively safe."
Dani didn't take long to say, "Let's go." What else could she do? She had deduced that this was the creature (wraith, the stranger had called it) that her mother had warned her to avoid. Things in her life had taken a strange twist. In any other circumstance, she would never be stupid enough to take a ride from a stranger. But Dani figured she would be better off with the man leading her down the stairs than being chased by some reaper-like creature intent on getting her. She could've been wrong. The stranger might have been a psychopathic serial rapist, but so what? Once you've lived for a year getting ritualistically violated by your own father, there's not much the world could toss at you for which you wouldn't be prepared.
Once the pair was down the stairs, Dani followed Mr. Goodman to his small Honda S2000. They drove out of the complex and headed toward Interstate 35W. From there, Mr. Goodman headed north. "Where are we going?" Dani asked.
"Right now?" Mr. Goodman rhetorically asked. "Oklahoma City. You ever been there?"
"Drove through once but didn't stop," Dani said, turning away and staring out the window at the rundown cityscape.
There's was a short pause before Mr. Goodman wondered aloud: "What's up with you?"
"What's up with you?" Dani reflected in a perturbed tone.
"That came out wrong. It's just… Aren't you wondering what that thing was? Or who was this mysterious handsome stranger who just happened to be there when it attacked you? I'd expect a little more shock."
Dani turned back to say, "Nothing shocks me anymore, um… What's your name?"
"Mr. Goodman," the man in the green suit said, giving Dani a nod.
"Mr. Goodman," It felt false as the name passed through Dani's lips. "I'm guessing that's fake. I've gone through too much shit in my life to be shocked by anything; but I'm guessing you know that. I watch a lot of movies and I'm guessing you, the meh-looking mysterious stranger, are here to protect the pretty girl from that thing you call a wraith. I bet you're not human either. I have a feeling, too, that you know a lot about me and my past."
"God damn. You're not far off," Mr. Goodman said before getting a little testy. "By the way, 'pretty little girl,' if I'm meh, then you're blah. As far as protecting you, I could give a shit what happens to you. I have my own reasons for killing the fucker. It's attracted to you, so if it kills you, it'll disappear and I'll have no way to find it. Now shut up and let me drive."
"Did the 'meh-looking' comment bother you that much?"
"Kind of. I pride myself on my looks."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Goodman. You're a very attractive man. Just not my type."
"Fair enough," Mr. Goodman agreed. "Anyways, you don't need to shut up, I like conversation. So, here's the point where you should ask any questions you might have."
Dani thought for a moment before asking the obvious, "What's a wraith?"
"Good question. A wraith is a being that's born of an unnatural event. Basically, when some shit goes down involving the combination of the natural, the preternatural, and the paranormal, that doesn't normally happen, a wraith can come into existence. Not dead, not alive. Basically, when I said I wanted to kill it, that was a misnomer. I mean to destroy it. There's many ways to destroy a wraith, but this one seems stronger than most, so that spear I pulled just stunned it a little. As far as how this one got created…"
Dani interrupted, "Was it because my mom's ghost killed my dad?"
Mr. Goodman was surprised to find out how much Dani knew about her father's death. He hoped she didn't know too much, "That's correct. How much do you know about your dad's death?"
Dani hesitated on what she should say to Mr. Goodman, but succumbed, "All I know is that my dad was doing some horrible shit to me, so my mom got pissed and murdered him."
"Is that all?"
Dani looked pensive, "Is there more?"
"Just that the wraith was born of that event. And now, it looks like it wants to kill you."
"Not sure. You were right about the fact that I know a lot about you. I've been watching you for a while. Years actually. Not in the creepy stalker sort of way, just looking out to see if the wraith would come for you. Since they're mindless creatures, they just tend to seek out what's familiar to them, so you were the best bet. I didn't think it would try to kill you. Makes sense though, since it was born of violence it would be more violent."
"That why it killed Ash and Mike?" Dani asked.
"Yeah, the wraith probably felt your essence on the girl. Since you were friends."
Dani got worried then, "Does that mean it'll go after other people I know?"
"Possibly," Mr. Goodman answered. "But I doubt it. It knows you now, so it's going to come after you specifically. To be safe, though, you should stay away from people you know. I'm sorry, but until I find a way to get rid of the wraith, you can't go back to Seattle or college."
"It's Spring Break, so school isn't a problem. I was planning on staying on campus anyway. My next question, though. Why are you after the wraith? Are you some kind of paranormal hunter guy?"
"Hardly," Mr. Goodman answered. "My reasons for hunting the wraith are personal. I'm willing to reveal a lot about myself to you, to earn your trust so you'll stick with me, but that's something I have to keep to myself. Cool with that?"
"I guess," Dani said reluctantly. "So can you tell me what you are at least? I'm still of the opinion you're not human."
"What makes you think that?"
"When we were at the apartment and you pulled that spear out; there was no way that would've fit up there. I assume you used some kind of supernatural powers to hide it. Plus, all your knowledge of the wraith and stuff."
Mr. Goodman shook his head as if in disappointment, "You're a very smart girl Dani, but you're too far removed from nature living in this urban nation. Humans are just as capable of using supernatural powers as long as the knowhow is there."
"So you are human?"
"Shit no, I'm a demon."
"Like, from Hell?"
"Not exactly. Basically, there's the mortal realm, earth and all, but beyond that there are several others. Heaven and Hell are two, but there are a few others. What you might call Elysia, Purgatory, Limbo, Tartarus…"
Dani surprised Mr. Goodman by bringing up the Aether, causing him to ask, "How do you know about that place? And, also, how did you know how your dad was killed?"
Dani was going to tell him, but decided against it. If Mr. Goodman could have his secrets, so could she, "I'll tell you when you tell me why you want to kill the wraith."
"I see how it is," Mr. Goodman. "A little mystery is a good thing. It'll give us some conversation topics down the road. Anyways, I wasn't born in Hell, technically. Not Lucifer's Hell. I was born beneath Chinvat Bridge in the Kingdom of the Dead."
"Sorry, I don't know what that is."
"And you never will because it's part of a religion that doesn't affect you and you shouldn't give a shit about. All you have to know is it's a type of afterlife for really bad people. Not as torturous as Hell, but pretty bad. For demons, it's just boring as shit. That's why most of us got out of there and are living lives here on Earth. All except the sadists who like to torture for fun."
"What kind of people end up in Hell?" Dani asked. She knew there was some sort of afterlife after seeing her mother in the Aether, but the idea of Hell didn't really seem real. Would Dani go there when she died? She didn't think so, but it was more real to her now and it scared the shit out of her.
"You don't have to worry," Mr. Goodman assured her. "Especially not the place I'm from. You'll probably end up like most people nowadays, in the Aether. Do you know anything about it? Since you brought it up before, I figured…"
"No I don't," Dani answered while still in a pensive mood. "I knew it was a place for the dead, but that's about it."
"Ok, so the Aether is for the middling folks. The people who weren't saints but weren't bad either. Basically, it's a stepping stone into Heaven. You spend your time roaming until enough time has passed that your sins are forgiven and you go into the light." Dani was starting to fall asleep while he was talking, prompting him to ask, "Am I boring you?"
It woke her up, "Sorry. No. I'm just tired. Got up too early. Is it okay if I take a little cat nap?"
"Yeah sure," Mr. Goodman said with a disappointed tone. He truly did like conversation.
"One last question though," Dani asked while leaning her chair back and closing her eyes. "Why Oklahoma City?"
"I know somebody up there who might help us out in finding a way to kill the…" Dani didn't hear the rest of it. She had already fallen asleep. Mr. Goodman realized it when the snoring began. For such a small girl, she could be a loud sleeper.