Hells opened the shutters of his bedroom window; the moon was a perfect horn. A cat’s claw pillowed upon the rolling clouds, lumbering slowly across the midnight sky. The dark blue of the night, was sensuous, and the nimbus were heavy, threatening to storm. If he was to do it, the time was now. Quietly, so not to creak the hardwood, he swung his backpack over his shoulder, and slowly he placed his foot upon the windowsill. Adept, and nimble as a tree martin, he reached and clutched the drainpipe and swung himself out and then as though descending a ladder, down the pipe he went. He jumped the extra meter or so, his feet thumping onto the cool grass, righted himself, and quick scatted away. He tucked himself in the shrubberies and foliage, hugging the manor wall, and crept beneath the last lighted window of his homestead, where he knew his mother, presently, was reading by the firelight. He could hear the hearth crackling, and in the dead of the night, could even hear his mother lazily flip a heavy page. Hells held his breath, crouched, and stepped, soft as a mouse; he had had much practice, after all, those not long ago years of high school sneaking-out still coming in handy. To the corner of the house he reached, and looking back, a sly smile escaping onto his face, he turned the corner, so to run down Roland Hill and into the wood.
But he ran right into his brother, Gentry, causing them both to curse out loud.
“Cats!” Hells swore angrily, pushing his brother away, “To shit what are you doing out here?!” he hissed.
“For Morrigan’s sake!” Gentry said, not bothering to whisper, “I’m just out having a smok – Mmumph!”
Hells clasped and hand over his brother’s mouth, shoving him backward and away from the open window. After much scuffling, Hells managed to drag him to the gazebo, adorned with his mother’s precious climbing roses, and when relatively sure they were out of immediate earshot, he threw Gentry from his grasp, who stumbled and shouted, “What do you think you’re – !”
“Shh! Shut up!” Hells hissed, “Or you’ll get me caught!”
“Caught?” Gentry echoed quizzically, but then, running his fingers through his luscious black hair, grinning mischievously, he quipped. “Soo, sneaking somewhere, are we? You know that you don’t have to sneak anymore, right? For the love of shit, Hells, we are men! College boys! We don’t have to justify where it is we are heading off to in the night!” Gentry harked, his pearly white teeth, straight and attractive, flashing. He eyed his brother with a grin, and shoved his hands into his pockets, his back turned to him slightly, and then, with his thick brows pinching, he quickly added. “By the way where are you off to?”
“Snort madwort. I’m off.” Hells growled, turning on his heel.
“Whoa! Whoa!” Gentry chimed, hurrying up to him, “In a bit of a mood, are we?” Hells kept marching, and Gentry, always finding reason to tease his brother, fast as a cat snatched Hells’ satchel from off his shoulder, and danced away as Hells started swinging.
“Give me that!” Hells barked.
“Oh! Oh! What is in here?” Gentry crooned, dodging his brother’s attacks, “Little brother, what are we doing this Crone Night?” Having unzipped the bag, standing some distance back, his brother frozen with his teeth clenched in frustration and shoulders taught, Gentry reached into the bag and pulled from its folds a massive leather bound book, obsidian black, with a silver lock upon its cover, the latches clutching the volume closed with dragonlike claws. The book was sinister and sleek, ungodly thick and heavy, like a cinder block. A numb moment settled over them both, and Gentry, shaking the initial shock, looked up in horror, as Hells groaned, rolling his eyes and stuffing his hands into his pockets. “This is mother’s B.O.S.!” Gentry stated, his eyes wide. “What in the holy Hera are you doing with this?!”
Hells walked over, and snatched the fat book from his brother’s hand, stuffing it back into his backpack, barely able to squeeze the enormous volume into the pocket. He then looked up at his brother and glared. “Whatever the hell I like.” he said pointedly. “And stop calling me your, ‘little brother’. You are six minutes older than me!”
“Never-the-FUCK-mind that what are you doing with that!” Gentry raged, now trying to keep his voice low. “The Mages! She’s going to know you touched that the second she lays eyes on it again!”
“I suppose so.” Hells said, “And I guess she’ll know, that you touched it too.” he lifted the heavy bag and pointed it at him. Gentry reeled.
“Oh my – you little SHIT.”
“Should have minded your own business -”
“I should have eaten you in the womb -”
“Likewise.” Hells bit back.
“What’s going on?” a voice came, as the dirt crunched and in stepped Lycan from out the garden path, appearing from behind a hedge, an orange-tipped cigarette glowing in his hand.
“Deep SHIT. That’s what’s happening.” Gentry stated.
“Now what the blazes are you doing out here?” Hells heatedly asked. Lycan looked absently to both his brothers, his eyes darting from Hells’ sharp, irate face to Gentry’s mildly horrified, offended expression, and then down to the bag, the book’s edges piercing out and glinting in the thin light of the darkness. He paused.
“…Is that?” he began.
“Piss off.” Hells scowled, “I’m leaving.”
“Not with that you are not -!”
“Gentry, ger’off me -!”
“Hey! Hey!” Lycan flicked his cigarette away and tried to pry his brothers apart, the mess of them scuffling and scratching about the gravel in hisses and grunts. He at last managed to wrench Hells away, the littlest of the Deadman Three, and the youngest of the triplets. Calming themselves, standing apart in a triangle, the three looked about at each other. Hells, his black hair cut crisply, bangs slicked wet and clutching his pale forehead, glared at the other two, angry and frustrated that his night might have been foiled. His frame thin and wiry, and short, he looked little like his two brothers, who were about the same height, and far more muscular than he was. Something he had always hated. Gentry wore his hair long and thick, tied expertly into a ponytail, and kept his face shaven, his brows plucked, his appearance prompt and gentlemanly. Lycan, the eldest, was quite possibly the opposite, looking slightly gruff, and rather unkempt. His beard was bulky, though he trimmed it, poorly, as though he barely had the time to keep it in check. His hair was curly, slicked behind his ears, though it sprang hither and thither, and his chin was square, his eyes penetrating – more like Hells’ – rather than the soft, puppy-look of Gentry’s. They all wore black (a habit they couldn’t seem to shake from one another) and they all didn’t fit in well with the world. However, the Deadman men rarely did. They also all, typically, didn’t get along well.
Tonight seemed no exception.
“Listen, Hells. I don’t know what you are planning, but you do not mess with mother’s B.O.S. That thing can kill you.” Lycan said, his hands up, as though trying to calm a mustang.
“Yes! What he said!” Gentry chimed, “Not to mention mother will kill us if she finds out you bloody took it!”
“I am NOT going back and I am NOT giving this up.” Hells stated angrily, his eyes wide and wild. “I don’t care what you two do. Fine. Go tell mother. Go tattle on me like children. But tonight is the night, and I’m having it!” He charged ahead, trying to escape, but his two brothers leapt forward, grabbing him by his arms, and threw him back. “LET ME GO!” Hells shouted, no longer caring who or what heard him, “I’M TAKING IT TO THEM TONIGHT! RAH!” The three scuffled again, Hells throwing in a punch, that whizzed over Lycan’s head as he shoved his brother away again.
“I know what this is about!” Lycan huffed, glaring at his brother, “You are planning to hex tonight, aren’t you?”
A silence fell over the three. Hells’ eyes burned, his chest heaving, emotion catching in his throat. Gentry, flabbergasted, looked back and forth between his brothers, and then exasperatedly flapped his arms to his sides, groaning, “Aah Hells.”
“Like you’ve never thought of it.” Hells snapped. Lycan and Gentry looked to each other, wordless things passing between them. Hells, zipping the bag up and tossing it over his shoulder, seized upon the opportunity, his voice tinted with gnarled emotion. “All they’ve done to us. The hazing. The jokes. The smugness of their fat, bulbous egos and the prejudice of their martyrous boots, walking all over us. It never changes. This town is a swine hole – full of rich, petty pigs who look down at us because of what we are. Because they’re scared of what we are.” Gentry went to speak but Hells stopped him, his voice almost rising to a shout. His nose, flared, and he looked hard at Lycan, who’s eyes had shifted to the ground. “You know what happened today? Mm? I went into town, to get a coffee. A damned coffee. A year at college and I thought maybe things would be different. That I could go out and get a damn coffee. But no. Same old bullcrap! The whispers. The giggling. I am SICK of pretending I don’t give a shit! Cause you know what, I do!” His eyes darkened, as he hissed, “They deserve it -”
“We aren’t talking about a prank here, Hells.” Lycan stepped up, his tone sturdy and thick. “We are talking about dark, dangerous, magic.” The wind, flumed, rustling the leaves and bushes around them. Hells locked eyes with his brother. The storm that had been rolling was approaching. He knew he had to do it now.
He shouldered his brother Lycan, marching toward the tree line, not bothering to look back. Gentry didn‘t stop him as he moved past, an unreadable expression on his face. Hells strode onward, down Roland Hill. The moon was right. There was fire and anger, raging through his blood. He had intent. He had the will. He had the way.
Footsteps hurried up behind him, and his brothers appeared at his sides.
“I’m not – !” Hells began, but Gentry cut him off.
“We’re going with you.” he said, puffing a bit from his sprint.
“Wait, what?” Hells said, not stopping his walking, but slowing a bit.
“We’re going with you.” Lycan repeated.
“Can’t let you have all the fun.” Gentry quipped.
“Besides, there are three of us now.” Lycan added. “What are the odds of Gentry and I stumbling into you tonight? We’ve all been home for two weeks, and have managed to avoid each other. But tonight? The old Crone looking picture-perfect in the sky? That’s not coincidence, that’s -”
“Synchronicity.” the triplets said together.
Lycan grinned, “Right.”
Hells, feeling a change in the wind, smirked at his brothers. There were three of them. That was good. The air was thick with magic. They could all smell it. They could all feel the electric twinge, tickling their senses; the atmosphere was ripe for Black Arts. And with their mother’s, the Great and Terrible Ursuline Black’s Book of Shadows, nothing would stand in their way. And what did it matter? They were all dead men anyway. A Deadman always got his, no matter what.
The town would shake tonight.