“Are you serious?” Kaaron vociferated. “You could’ve magicked the key to your possession this whole time and you had us fight for it? I lost three men over this encounter! Why did you do that?”
Babelsama emotionlessly shrugged. “Meh! Too lazy!” Kaaron folded his arms and bore a very vexed expression, but Babelsama paid him no mind at all as he savored his glorious prize. “Yes! It’s mine once more! Now I can reopen the tunnel and resume jinxing the world from afar! But before I do that, I need to take care of you five!”
Blaise had to blink tremendously in order to fully comprehend what Babelsama had articulated. “Wait, you’re including me with your vengeance? But I didn’t do anything!”
“That’s exactly the reason you’re getting it too!” Babelsama relayed to him. “If you had done something to help with this effort, you could’ve prevented needless delays! That’s several days of frustration! I got so stressed that I had to get a walk-in bathtub so my trembling knees wouldn’t cause me to slip in the shower! It looks so tacky, and it takes up so much space! And that’s entirely your fault!”
“Aren’t you already dead?” Ellie wondered.
Babelsama snapped, “You want me to fall into a pool of lava?” He could see that she was about to dish out a smart-alecky retort, so he blocked her retaliation by saying, “Don’t answer that!” She seemed disappointed to not have been able to sass him and pouted as he went on, “Anyways, as long as you’re alive, you’ll interfere with my work, so you have to go!”
I beseeched him, “Hold on!” Guilt plagued me enough for allowing him to get the opportunity to take the key, I wasn’t about to enhance that sensation by letting him murder my blameless friends! And Blaise. I wracked my brain for a method of combating a potent Netherworld guardian as well as his demonic cronies, but I couldn’t unearth a sliver of a clue that might aid us in besting these adversaries! He watched me impatiently, and I knew I had to act fast or I’d lose three people I cared about exponentially! And Blaise… Honestly, this entire ordeal was his fault, so a part of me believed he deserved whatever Babelsama had in store for him, but it would’ve been wrong if I could have prevented his death and didn’t! Well, he already died, but he still had some form of life in his undead body… Anyhow, I kept picturing Damon’s ghostly terror taking over the land in wake of our absence, and I simply couldn’t permit that stupid specter to enjoy that kind of vile victory! The afternoon he unleashed several fear mongers simultaneously was bad enough, I couldn’t imagine how awful it would’ve been if that sort of stunt became the norm for society! To my bewilderment, the memory of that petulant phantom actually gave me an idea! I may not have figured out how to solve our dilemma, but I could delay that fatal fate enough to possibly come up with a better approach to saving us all! I directed the others, “Scatter!”
“Hey!” Babelsama hollered as we swiftly strewed ourselves around the cavern. “You tricked me! Ugh, why did I think you would tell me a useful tidbit?” He conjured a ball of electricity, but we moved around the area too frequently for him to properly aim at us! After a minute of this gimmick, Babelsama irately addressed the three demonic men, “Uh, do you need an invitation to lend a hand?”
Kaaron objected, “What are we supposed to do? If we pin them down, we might get caught in the crossfire!”
Babelsama, who had grown more and more outraged the further our antics continued, lost his threshold of patience with his stooges and screamed, “Make them stay still or you’re next!”
Kaaron lunged after Phoebe as she passed him, but she was able to avoid him. Unfortunately, her focus on eluding Kaaron made her fall victim to one of the other demon men! He pushed her down, which gave Babelsama a clear shot at her! I was so shocked by this sight that I lost track of my footing and crashed into Blaise! Blaise’s head fell off, and he lamentably exclaimed, “Dang it!” as his noggin rolled on the floor. If Phoebe hadn’t been in danger, I might’ve found his torso blindly trying to retrieve the rest of its ensemble comical, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything else but the woman I loved stumbling into mortal peril! She was striving to get up, but she wouldn’t have departed from his trajectory hastily enough to dodge the impact of his hex, so I had to act immediately! But how…?
Blaise’s legs accidentally kicked his cranium, which lodged it right at my feet. Without giving the matter any thought, I picked up Blaise’s skull and hurled at Babelsama’s face! “Woahhh!” Blaise cried out as he flew through the air, which distracted Babelsama enough that he paused his curse! He glanced at the projectile, but he didn’t have the chance to escape its collision! He got smacked on his temples, and the force of the hit sent him tumbling to the ground! As he crashed, he lost his grip on the spoon, and it slipped out of his hand at top speed! “What’s happening?” Blaise queried as Babelsama rushed to rescue his sacred object.
“I got it!” Babelsama declared preceding the event taking place. He nearly clasped onto it as it reached the magma, but not only was he too late, he burnt his fingers in the process! “Ow!” He pulled his paw out and sucked on his digits to nurse his wounds. As he espied the antique silver melting into the inferno, he bemoaned, “Noooo!”
“Why do you even have that in here?” Kaaron questioned.
Babelsama bolted up and raved, “Listen, Mister Know-It-All! Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and up until today, it’s been a useful tool against my enemies!”
Ginger wiped her palms together and asserted, “Well, that’s that! You have no more business in Terra Belle, so we’ll just be on our way!” She surveyed the room and then enquired, “Oh, I forgot- we came in through the trap door! How do you get to lobby from here?”
“You’re not going anywhere!” Babelsama bellowed. “I’ll have your heads for this!”
“Uh, you already had mine!” Blaise pointed out as his anatomy rebuilt itself.
Babelsama growled in annoyance, and then he roared, “Enough of this claptrap! You’re all going to perish for ruining my scheme, and nothing will stop me from completing this goal!”
Instantly after he uttered that, a portion of the craggy walls opened up, and five people in all white suits entered into Babelsama’s chambers! The lady leading the pack ordered, “Stop right now!”
“I’m so sorry, Vanina!” Babelsama put his hands down as though he was not about to unleash a deadly spell that would obliterate his entire domain. “I got a little emotional and let my temper take control of me. It won’t happen again!” It was somewhat amusing that he lost his volition so quickly like that, but the prospect of him getting off the hook after all of the atrocities he committed against us really burned me up! It just wasn’t fair, and I always believed that the afterlife maintained an accurate acumen for who merited punishment for their sins! I bitterly witnessed this interaction and pondered if he had frequently gotten away with these crimes by sniveling pathetically and manipulating his boss into pitying him instead of chastising him like he deserved, and I hoped that I would see some evidence contrary to that opinion to change my grim assessment!
“Don’t apologize!” Vanina directed him. For a second, it did seem as though he would get off scot-free, but then she added, “Start explaining! Pierre reported to us that you authorized the release of a malevolent force!”
Babelsama pretended to feel stumped by her accusation. “I sent out a being of pure evil? Huh! I had no idea that Damon wasn’t on the straight and narrow!”
Vanina stared at him with startled eyes. “Damon? I was talking about Blaise!”
“Ohhhh…” Babelsama’s face fell decidedly.
“I’m a malevolent force?” Blaise repeated in a pleasantly surprised voice. “Wow! I fancied myself as a bit of a thorn in society’s side, but I never pictured that I could do real damage!”
Babelsama tacked on to that concept, “Neither did I! Had I known, I never would’ve sent him to the surface! If you don’t deem as worthy of this post, I have no problem with using somebody else for my mission! Please, don’t’ hesitate to send him back to Hell!”
Blaise griped, “What? After I go the key down here for you, you’re still gonna-?”
“You had very little to do with its return!” Babelsama barked. “Plus, you let it get destroyed, so-.” He caught onto Vanina’s discerning expression, and then he nervously tittered, “We were simply playing a game of Keeper of the Keys!” He chuckled as he gazed at his five superiors to gauge their reaction to his claim, and when he could distinguish that they didn’t buy his story, he sighed and confessed, “I lost a key to the Terra Belle portal, so I sent him and Damon to retrieve it from a human that was holding it hostage. But I only did this to carry on with my important work of spreading necessary chaos throughout the planet, I swear!”
“If your intentions were pure, you would’ve requested a replacement from us while we retrieved the key. The fact that you sent two Hellians to get it tells me that you weren’t acting with the selfless decency you took an oath to use for this position,” Vanina coldly stated to him.
Babelsama slumped over shamefully upon hearing her verdict, but to prevent him from contriving another cockamamie narrative to spare himself from incurring a severe penalty, I jumped in, “He tried to kill me when I came to slay the vampire that was harming our students! That’s why I shut the portal, to protect innocent kids! We went down here tonight ‘cause he opened up a window into my home to demand the key back, and when I wouldn’t do it, he sent the ghost of that vampire to Earth with the power of fear mongers to harm those same children! He wasn’t unleashing typical trouble- obviously, he was doing it for selfish and evil motives!”
With unmitigated spite, Babelsama spat at me, “You don’t get into Heaven by being a tattletale!”
“Thank you for your insight, human,” Vanina gratefully regarded me. She then turned to her colleagues and commanded, “Ramiel, concoct a reversal potion for that window. Angela, recall Damon back to the Netherworld. Michael, close the channel from Guardian Three’s quarters. Seraphina, make me a drink! I’m going on an extended break after we clean up this mess!”
“Yes, ma’am!” Ramiel, Angela, Michael, and Seraphina all chimed prior to initiating their tasks.
As interesting as this all was to me, I began to become antsy by this extended stay! Since the debacle of the key to the Netherworld abated, I longed to go home and resume my paranormal-free routine! Ginger, Ellie, and Phoebe evidently shared my sentiments as we all looked to each other, but before we could discuss how to approach this issue with Vanina, Damon’s ghostly form appeared in our vicinity! He behaved with befuddlement until he spotted us, and then he seethed, “You guys foiled us again? Ugh! Why do you always have to be such a buzzkill?”
Vanina told Angela, “Escort him, Blaise, and the demons back downstairs!”
“We don’t need a chaperone! We’re not gonna try anything devious!” Kaaron protested.
“Speak for yourself! I will have my revenge!” Damon avidly avowed.
Kaaron complimented him, “I like your fire! You’d make a fantastic demon!”
Vanina warned him, “You better not!” She then more gently spoke to us, “I’ll walk you out! No offense, but I hope I don’t see you until you’re ready to go upstairs!”
Ginger rejoiced, “I’m getting into Heaven? Ha! My uncle was wrong about me!” We all chortled at her remark as we vacated the premises.
When we re-entered that abandoned abode’s garage, Aleck and Fletcher jumped from this abrupt intrusion! I expected one of them to say something about their relief at our appearance, but then Miriam unexpectedly piped up, “Oh, thank goodness! You’re alright!”
As she flung her arms around Phoebe and me, Fletcher explained, “She was searching for you, and your neighbor said we went in here.”
“So, the Netherworld doesn’t have any cell towers, huh?” Aleck deduced. “If it did, you would’ve replied to us, right?”
“I didn’t get any…” Ellie peered at her phone as it began to incessantly twitter. Ginger, Phoebe, and I had our cellphones blow up too as we received our missed communications, and Ellie retracted her original sentence, “Gosh! You guys were really worried! Oh, so was my husband! And Manuel! Hmm… I don’t know where to start!”
Miriam espied Phoebe’s hand and excitedly suggested, “How about here? When did this happen?”
Phoebe blushed as she responded, “Oh, yeah! I think we got engaged down there!”
“We did! But if anybody asks, let’s tell them the flowers in the backyard thing worked!” I proposed. She agreed, and everyone delightedly discoursed over this development.
“You’re back!” Rowan breathed in relief as we exited that vacant building. He denoted our disheveled and slightly singed clothing and then asked, “Um, is everything okay with you…?”
With a completely straight face, I answered him, “Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?”
He opened his mouth to react to my disposition, but then Richard and an elderly female walked out in sexy, leather garments, and he probed, “Hey, you all didn’t hear any strange noises last night, did you?”
I had a million ripostes to impart to him, but then Rowan blurted out, “So, I’m the normal neighbor? Uh-huh… Not sure what to do with that! I’m gonna go meditate!”
As he stormed off, Richard and I gave each other a shrug. I found his garb slightly disturbing, but I was too thrilled by our win to let that unsettling image haunt me too much. Besides, if he wasn’t going to interrogate our odd activity, I supposed that I ought to accept his quirk. As he and his companion drove off, another older couple came to my mind, and I revealed to Miriam, “Oh, Blaise died!”
She complained about her husband a lot, but I anticipated a little grief after suffering the loss of someone she was married to for over a decade. It was rather astonishing that Miriam’s visage contorted into a pleased smile as she pronounced, “Finally! I can quit looking at stupid communes and go get a condo in Wilmington! Ooh, maybe I can be close to the beach!” It seemed a bit callous, but then I reasoned that the rest of us didn’t have a strong reaction to this revelation either, so I opted not to judge. As we celebrated together, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that if Babelsama hadn’t recruited her husband, she could’ve gone out on her own a long time ago!
“Mister Fenmore? Are you alright?” Corvina nudged me.
“Of course I am!” I uttered as I picked myself off of my desk. I quickly figured out that I had fallen asleep since I found that a puddle of drool made a piece of paper stick to my skin! I pulled it off and reassured her, “I spent all evening taking care of our spooky scrape. Everything’s gonna be fine from this point forward!”
Corvina exhaled in relief. “Yay! So, Damon’s not coming back anymore?”
I didn’t know how to reply to her! The agitating apparition saga was done, but the memory of Kaaron showing an interest in making him a demon seriously bothered me! Could he turn up in our lives again? Luckily, Peter popped in and announced, “Hey, Mister Fenmore! It’s time to pick out our courses for next year, and I decided to sign up for your class next year! Won’t that be fun?”
“So fun!” I lied. The notion of having another school year of dealing with another airheaded adolescent didn’t exactly fill me with joy, but at least this one didn’t appear to have an affinity with a sociopath like Roxy did!
“Have any of you seen Damon?” Roxy urgently inquired to us.
Corvina let her know, “He’s never coming back, Roxy!”
Roxy’s eyes widened in fear, “Did you…?” I nodded, and she maniacally howled, “You’re wrong! He’ll never be truly gone! He’ll come back one day! You’ll see!” She gave me an acrimonious stare and then stomped down the hallway.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Peter puzzled.
“Who cares!” I refused to let that phase me! I needed to use the remainder of my lunch to return that spell book to the library, plan out an engagement party, and brainstorm inspiration for a graduation shindig that I volunteered to do for logic I couldn’t fathom! I reckoned I was trying to get on Manuel’s good side after coming in so late, but still! Yes, Fletcher’s girls were getting their diplomas as well as some other students I befriended, like Cricket and Colin, but why would I tackle this responsibility prior to my recovery from all this supernatural stuff? Oh well! That didn’t daunt me as much as Damon’s possible return did, but I deemed that I should set the proper example for these youths and not fixate on that too often! I cast it out of my thoughts and then advised Corvina and Peter, “Let’s just go enjoy our break!” I referred to a break from classes, but then I realized that I should view the haunted hijinks in the same manner! Whether or not the nightmare would return, I needed to savor the periods I had without that petrifying predicament!