"James!" Ghostly McKenzie squeals as she scrambles to her feet and approaches the bleeding man. She glances over her shoulder at her newly possessed body as she drops to her knees by his side.
"Kenzie?" James sputters, a few drops of blood spraying from his mouth.
"James!" she repeats softly. "Oh no, baby, you're shot! You're shot and I've lost my body again! Oh James, what are we going to do?"
The middle-aged man struggles to focus on the scene unfolding before him. Lord Adams continues to hold the cursed medallion in front of him and points it toward the Demon Queen currently inhabiting McKenzie's physical body. She turns her attention from the two demon women worshiping her and addresses the old English gentleman.
"Well, well… I see the years have not been kind, Charles. Have you been enjoying my gift?"
Lord Adams thrusts the medallion forward a little more. The demon queen narrows her eyes and looks a little off to the side, like she's staring into something uncomfortably bright.
"Vial wretch!" He shouts. "Four hundred years! Four hundred years have I been cursed to walk the earth in this cursed state!"
The demon queen shields her eyes a little. "And what of it? A bargain was struck, was it not? I gave you what you sought, did I not? Did you really think there would not be a price to be paid?"
"Vessels for your kind! That was the agreed upon price, you hag!"
Demonic McKenzie smiles and runs her fingers through the hair of the two women still prostrated before her. "Yes, and you have done well in that regard. Thanks to our bargain, the most ruthless of mortals were assisted in their conquest for blood and power."
Lord Adams levels his pistol at the blonde's head. "Release me from this state! I want to die! Now! Do it now!"
She smirks at him, then turns to the bleeding, middle-aged man slowly dying in the dirt before her. "There must always be a bridge, Charles. You've filled that role admirably these last few centuries… but, perhaps there is another that can take your place."
Ghostly McKenzie stands in front of James and spreads her arms in a protective fashion. "Over my dead bod… ", she trails off, then regains her determination. "Not on my watch!" she shouts.
Lord Adams looks at the curse talisman, then over to James. "The lad does have the gift. Could it truly be that easy in the end?"
The Dark Queen continues to stroke Bonnie and Jennifer's scalps. "Fool. All these years and you couldn't even see what was right in front of you? Have it done then. What do I care who acts as bridge between realms?"
"Yessss…" the old man mumbles as he slowly advances on James. "Yessss…" he hisses a second time as he passes through Ghostly McKenzie.
"No! Leave him alone!" she shrieks.
The world starts to go dark for James as Lord Adams stoops down beside him. "Do not fear, my boy. You will shortly be rejuvenated – and I will finally find peace."
"James!" Ghostly McKenzie screams as she plops down on the other side of him. "What do I do? Tell me what to do! James!"
Lord Adam's bony hand places the cursed medallion on to James' clammy flesh.
"You remember the incantation, don't you, Charles?" the Demon Queen asks with a strong hint of indifference. "The one I taught you all those many years ago?"
"I remember," the old Englishman whispers to himself. "I remember". He raises his hands in the air and loudly begins chanting something in an ancient language.
James begins to moan, and his eyes roll into the back of his head.
"No!" McKenzie screams and grips the side of her ghostly head. "No! James! What do I do? What do I do?"
Nothing but a gurgle escapes the wounded man's throat as Lord Adams voice gets louder and louder.
The ghostly blonde's eyes frantically dart around the scene in front of her. Finally, in an act of desperation, she reaches into James' bleeding body, wraps her arms around his spirit, and begins to tug mightily.
James' body begins to convulse and thrash around in a wild fashion.
The Dark Queen narrows her eyes as she watches him flail around. "Charles, are you not speaking the words correctly? That is not part of the transfer ceremony."
Lord Adams stops chanting and looks down at the dying man. "What magics are this? What's going on?"
James' body goes limp as McKenzie finally succeeds in dragging his spirit out. Ghostly James blinks several times, then looks at his savior.
"Kenzie? What happened? What did you do?"
"No!" Lord Adams screams and pounds his fist on the limp body's chest. "No! I was nearly rid of this curse! Blast it, it cannot be!"
Ghostly McKenzie hugs Ghostly James as hard as she can. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I didn't know what else to do. You were about to be given Lord Adams' curse."
Lord Adams rages and pounds James' limp body again.
The Dark Lady scowls. "The spirit that previously shared this body with my demonic envoy… it was… special… changed, somehow. She must be the one behind this."
The old English Gentleman turns and thrusts his pendant toward demonic Bonnie. "Strife! I command you – use fire to cauterize this body's gunshot wound!"
Bonnie scowls and looks at her queen. Demonic McKenzie shields her eyes from the pendant and gives the other demonic woman a nod.
Reluctantly, demonic Bonnie advances on James' limp form. Moving her hands in the air, she draws fire from the surrounding torches and forms it into a small, flaming ball.
"See that you don't damage him beyond repair, demon!" Lord Adam's says with a hiss. He then turns his attention to Demonic Jennifer.
"Discord! I command you – release your hold on the mortal realm. Find the spirit woman responsible for this… and destroy her!"
Demonic Jennifer turns to her queen with a frightened look. The queen continues to shield her eyes but says nothing.
"Obey me!" Lord Adams commands and thrusts his pendant forward once again. "You are compelled to obey the keeper of this cursed thing! Obey me!"
Demonic Jennifer lets loose with a mournful howl and begins thrashing on the ground. Moments later, her howls turn to screams as the demonic entity known as Discord is forcefully compelled to separate from her flesh. Jennifer, now covered in sweat, lies panting on the ground. Discord's horrific form glints in the torchlight for a moment, then fades from view.
"James!" Ghostly McKenzie screeches and points to the evil spirit materializing in their reality.
Ghostly James' eyes open wide a mass of nightmarish eyes, teeth, and tentacles writhes in front of them. He and Ghostly McKenzie slowly back away as the mass begins to shift and reshape into a more utilitarian form.
"James…" Ghostly McKenzie whispers softly.
A powerfully built demonic woman stands erect from within the mass of twisting horror. Her mouth bursts with razor sharp teeth, thorny tendrils erupt from her back and encircle her blood red skin, and six-inch claws protrude from her fingers.
"My Queen demands your demise, my pretty," she says with an otherworldly echo. "The faster I deal with you, the faster I can return to my flesh!"
"We're already dead, right?" Ghostly James asks as he feels his knees knocking together. Discord launches high into the air with her vicious talons extended toward them. "We can't die again, can we?" he practically shouts.
"Not today, buddy!" comes a familiar voice from a glimmering portal that suddenly opens beside them. A large figure in gleaming golden armor steps forward and points a glowing sword at the quickly descending demonic woman. A beam of light explodes from the weapon and strikes her in the midsection. She is knocked from the sky and lands in a heap a hundred yards away.
Ghostly James and McKenzie quickly exchange bewildered looks. "Alan?" they exclaim in unison.
He turns to them with a big toothy smile. "Hey guys! Yeah, turns out angels exist too. Who knew?"
"Ang… Angels?" Ghostly James stammers.
Alan nods and sends another light blast at Discord for good measure. "Yep. We're not afraid of demons at all." He turns to them and flashes another toothy grin. "We're way stronger!" he says with a laugh.
The Dark Queen suddenly clutches the front of her forehead. "Gaaaaaaaah! An angel has appeared! Strife! Assist your sister! Now!"
Demonic Bonnie looks up from the freshly cauterized wound on James' limp physical body and whimpers loudly.
"Now!" Demonic McKenzie shouts.
Bonnie slumps on top of James as Strife voluntarily removes herself from her flesh. Her demonic form shimmers in the air for a moment, then fades from view.
"Here comes another one," Angelic Alan says with a smirk. He points his sword and smites Strife before she can fully form.
"Alan, why didn't you show up sooner?" Ghostly McKenzie shouts from behind Ghostly James.
The angel chuckles again. "Couldn't. Wasn't allowed. We monitor everything, but for the most part we're hands off. The boss said I could step in when we saw your souls were in danger of being torn apart though – you two are a special case. Usually souls either go up or down after being separated from their physical bodies. We don't see too many caught in the gaps like you guys."
"Al… I'm sorry for what happened to you," Ghostly James shouts over the sound of the smiting. "I shouldn't have involve—"
Angelic Alan waves him off. "No worries, buddy. When I called, I was going to say I found the spell to summon that Pleasure Demon again – but James… you should see the ladies in the heavens! Woo wee! Ha ha!"
The angel smites Discord and Smite several more times. Both demons turn and begin running for the demonic portal still shimmering behind the bloody stone alter.
The angelic portal appears behind Angelic Alan again. "Okay guys, that's as far as I'm allowed to assist. Don't worry – I have faith that the two of you will figure something out here."
Ghostly McKenzie waves to the large, shiny man and blows him a kiss. "Thank you, Alan! I always thought you were a major stud!"
Angelic Alan throws back his head and laughs as he steps through the angelic portal. "Liar!" he shouts. A second later, he sticks his head back through the portal again to address James one last time. "Oh, by the way buddy, don't take too long. Those demons fall easily, but they also don't take much time to recuperate. They'll come crawling back out of that portal in a couple minutes and try and repossess their fleshy hosts while they're still weak."
Ghostly James gives a nod to show he's understood and waves goodbye to his old roommate. "You're a good man, Alan Comber!"
Angelic Alan re-enters the shimmering angelic portal with a smile. His hand gives a thumbs up as it disappears.
The Dark Queen grips the sides of her head and screams.
Jennifer weakly stretches her arm toward her as if to ask that her demonic host return. "Mmm… mmm… myyy queeeeen," she wheezes.
Bonnie tries to shake the cobwebs from her mind as Lord Adams grips her by the arm. "Save this body! Save your James! Do something, you useless woman!"
The once powerful brunette struggles to wrench her arm from the old man's grasp. Her training takes over and she finds herself starting compressions on James' chest.
Lord Adams turns back to Demonic McKenzie. "And you do something as well, blast you!" he screams and thrusts his amulet toward her.
The Dark Queen screams again and again clutches the sides of her head. "My guardians… I am exposed!"
Ghostly McKenzie turns to Ghostly James with an excited look. "Did you hear that, James? She's exposed! If we're going to do something, we need to do it now before Discord and Strife come slithering out of that portal again!"
"Come on, James!" Bonnie says in a weak voice as she continues to administer first aid. "Come on! We need you! I need you! Come back to me, James!"
Lord Adams continues to thrust his cursed talisman at the Demon Queen. "Damn you, you wretched woman! Summon more of your servants if that is what needs to happen! I will be rid of this curse! I will!"
James' body suddenly takes a deep breath and he sits upright with a wild look in his eye.
"James! You came back to me!" Bonnie shouts and attempts to drape her arms around the wounded middle-aged man.
"Love you, Bon," he mumbles as he summons all his strength. The pain in his stomach is intense as he feels his legs begin to propel him forward. With all the effort he can muster, he plows first into Lord Adams, then Demonic McKenzie. Jennifer watches helplessly as James, Lord Adams, and the Dark Queen tumble toward the shimmering demonic portal behind them.
"Nooooo," she whines and reaches a limp limb toward the inevitable outcome playing out before her.
Demonic McKenzie lets loose with a blood curdling scream as she feels herself re-entering the Hell portal. "No! Not while I'm wearing my Avataaaaaaaar…"
Her voice trails off as Lord Adams feels the darkness of the otherworldly realm touch his cursed skin. His old face twists into a toothy smile as he disappears into the void.
James' eyes open wide as the awful nothingness of his end looms large to greet him. An instant later, he feels a pair of determined arms wrench his spirit out of his body one more time.
"Gotcha, handsome!" Ghostly McKenzie says with authority. She hugs him tight as they watch his physical body tumble into the nothingness of the demonic realm. "Now how do we close…?"
Bonnie takes the horned skull bowl and empties the sailor blood out of it. The shimmering demonic portal blinks several times, and then implodes with a thunderous crackle.
Bonnie slumps down beside Jennifer, her strength now finally spent.
Jennifer covers her face and begins to softly weep.
- EPLIOGUE -
Detective Jack Morris kneels and lays a bouquet of inexpensive flowers in front of a gravestone. He stands and Bonnie wraps herself around his arm - A light rain punctuating the sorrow of the moment.
"Are you sure he went to… Hell?" he asks.
"Like I said," Bonnie says quietly, "I know what I saw." She reaches up and kisses Jack on the cheek and turns his head to face her. "He's gone. He's gone and he's not coming back. None of them are."
Jack stares into her warm eyes for a moment, then pulls her close and kisses her deeply. After another few minutes, they turn they turn from James Ritter's headstone and walk hand in hand toward the cemetery exit.
"I heard the redhead got five life sentences for what she did to that marine craft," Jack says softly as he opens the iron cemetery gate for his gorgeous brunette bride. "The Feds tried to get her back on home soil, but the Britts say they're going to keep her."
"Good," Bonnie says with a hint of anger. "She tried to kill me while we waited for the British to find us on that cursed island." Her fist doubles up as she briefly relives the conflict in her head. "Too bad no one told her I used to be a stunt fighter!"
Jack pulls her close as they continue down the street into the gloom of the late afternoon. "Come on. Your mother is waiting for us."
A pair of figures watch them from a nearby rooftop.
"Awww they're so cute together, don't you think, baby?" Ghostly McKenzie asks Ghostly James with a big smile on her face. She wraps herself around his torso as he continues to stare down at the pair.
He manages a grin and nods his head as he watches them enter a vehicle and drive off. "I guess so. I think he'll love her the way she deserves to be... at least, I hope he will."
Ghostly McKenzie grunts and squeezes him with all her strength. "Oh, he better! Or else we'll pay them a visit and set things right!"
He smiles again. She pulls him into a deep and loving kiss.
"Come on," she says and ruffles his salt and pepper hair a little. "We're still stuck in the middle, remember? I don't know about you, but I'm hoping to find a doorway to the party upstairs!"
She steps to the edge of the building and motions for Ghostly James to take her hand.
He does so and intermingles his fingers with hers. "Off to find our next adventure then?" he asks with a grin.
She smiles and gives him a wink. "They're never going to see us coming, handsome."
They share a brief moment, then step off of the edge together. A moment later, they disappear from sight.