Supernatural Fiction posted March 16, 2021 Chapters:  ...54 55 -56- 57... 

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The Curse/A Novel of the Breedline series

A chapter in the book THE CURSE

Kill for Me/Part Two

by scongrove

Thanks for taking the time to read my chapter. It's new, so if you catch typos or mistakes, please let me know. Stay safe & enjoy!
When Joseph checked his watch and saw he had only a few hours until lunch, he scribbled his last edit on a piece about a car fire near a high-end nightclub on Durant Avenue.

A tip came in early this morning that the incident was thought to be a hired hit. Although the victim had been burned beyond recognition and the police remained tight lipped, word still traveled. According to the club’s owner and the registration on the vehicle, the unidentified victim was thought to be the head physician at the Summit Behavioral Institute. And that wasn’t the only angle he had to go on. His informant had more pressing information on the institute. Apparently, it had been recently shut down due to an illegal research operation with a big pharmaceutical company. Going by his source’s details, the institute was getting paid to experiment on their own patients. But there were two missing pieces of the story: the name of the pharmaceutical company and the type of experiments the institute was doing.   
With all the violent crimes, drug trafficking, and prostitution in the city, there was plenty of news to keep him busy. Although, he’d been holding out for the perfect article that would lead to a promotion. So far, he was just a beat reporter, but he had dreams of becoming more and this story might just get him there.   
Finally, Joseph put the article aside and focused on his computer screen. He pulled up a file he’d been researching on demonic possession. His fingers flew over the keyboard, typing a rash of words in hopes it would lead him in the right direction. He was desperate to find something… anything that would free him from the unruly and insufferable voice inside his head. 

“Hard at work, Parker?”

Joseph quickly changed screens and looked up. “Hey, boss.” He faked a grin. “Just finishing up some proofreading.”

“I heard you got a big lead on that car fire.”

“Yeah,” Joseph replied. “I got lucky. I happen to know a guy who is kin to the club owner.”

“It never hurts to know the right people.”

Joseph nodded in agreement. “It sure doesn’t.”

“Keep this up, Parker, and it might just get you promoted.”

“Thanks, Mr. Johnson.” He smiled for real this time. “Will do.”

As soon as his boss walked away, Joseph heard his phone ding. He reached for it and noticed he had a text from Carrie. His eyes widened the second he unlocked his phone and read her message.

We need to talk ASAP. Are you free for lunch?

Shit! He wondered if Carrie had talked to her boss. If so, did Veronica tell her about their confrontation and what she’d saw? Unfortunately, there was only one way to find out.

Sure. He texted back, adding a smiley emoji. Where would you like to eat?

How ‘bout Zach’s?

Sounds great. Want me to pick you up?

I’ll meet you there.

Uh-oh, he thought. Does she know? Desperate to dig for answers, he texted her back: Carrie, are you okay?

Can’t talk. Boss nearby. See you at noon.

He texted back a thumbs up emoji and sank back into his chair. Seconds later, his phone started to ring. He almost answered it, thinking it was Carrie, but when he looked at the caller ID, he saw it was his therapist. Dammit. He ignored the call and let it go to voice mail. Besides, he had a pretty good idea why Dr. Mendoza was calling. He’d left this morning’s session in such a hurry, he’d forgot to reschedule his next appointment. The thought of going back made him sick to his stomach. Whatever was on that recording she had, he didn’t want to face it, much less talk about it. He’d rather pretend it didn’t exist and deal with his problems on his own.   
“Kill the doctor,” the Shadow abruptly said. “Then your problem will be solved.”

Joseph ignored the voice inside his head and brought up the file he’d been working on. He clicked on the search engine and typed: Names of demons. Instantly, he deleted it, thinking of a better word. Instead, he typed: Shadow demon.

God, he cringed at the image that popped up. It was hideous. A cross between the devil and the grim reaper. And then a horrid thought came to him. Is this what’s inside of me?

“Hey Parker… got plans for lunch?”  

Joseph flinched. “Jeez…” He heaved out a deep breath the second he looked up and saw his coworker leaning over his desk. “Stewart… you’re one sneaky bastard.”

“Sorry, man,” Stewart said, holding up his hands in defeat. “Didn’t mean to startle you. What’s got you all jumpy? Too much caffeine?”

Joseph shut off his computer screen and rose from his chair. “Yeah, I guess,” he said. “Between that and not getting enough sleep.”

“You too, huh?” Stewart arched a brow. “I think everyone around here is on edge, stressed over that new position that’s up for grabs.”

“You mean the lead reporter position?”

“Yeah,” Steward said. “Don’t tell me you’re not interested.”

“Eh…” Joseph shrugged. “I’m not getting my hopes up. But I can’t say I’d hate the thought of landing that gig. That job comes with a lot of opportunities.”

“Well, good luck, Parker. I don’t know anyone at the Chronicle who deserves it more than you.”

“Thanks Stewart. You too.”

“So, you got plans for lunch? I thought we’d check out that new café on Montclair Boulevard.”

Joseph brought his wrist up and when he saw what time it was, he groaned. “Ah, crap. It’s almost noon. Sorry, buddy.” He dug in his pocket for his keys. “I’ve got to get going. I made a lunch date with Carrie.” He started off down the hall. “Maybe next time. My treat,” he hollered on his way out of the newsroom, waving over his shoulder.

Stewart waved back. “I’ll take you up on that.”

Shortly after, as Joseph arrived at Zach’s, he noticed Carrie’s Volkswagen Beetle parked in front. Fortunately, it wasn’t too packed and there was an opening next to hers. He wheeled into the vacant parking space, put it in park and hustled to get inside.

The moment he spotted her sitting at a table in the back, she looked up from the menu and waved him over. As he approached her, his nerves were on pins and needles. But before he could get a word out, she said, “Hurry, sit down. I can’t wait to tell you what happened at work today.”

Joseph sat down, holding his breath.

“Veronica actually apologized to me this morning,” she blurted. “She said I deserved more respect and a big raise.”

His mouth opened with the longest sigh. Thank God. Then, he reached across the table and placed his hand over hers. “That’s wonderful.” His eyes softened. “Congratulations, Carrie.”

“Thanks Joseph.” She intertwined her fingers with his. “But I have to wonder what caused her to have such a change of heart. I mean… you should have heard her. She was practically on her hands and knees begging for forgiveness. Do you think it has anything to do with you?”

His eyes rounded for a moment. “W-What makes you think that?”

“Well…” Carrie shrugged. “You’re probably the first person who’s ever stood up to her. Maybe it had some weird effect on her. You know… opened her eyes to her own bad behavior.”

“Who knows. But whatever the case, I’m just glad you’re finally getting treated the way you deserve. And now you can look forward to going to work instead of dreading it.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” She smiled and squeezed his hand a little. “I think this is the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time aside from meeting you.”

Her kind and sentimental words warmed his heart. How in the hell was he going to find the courage to let her go? The mere thought nearly tore him into a million pieces.

“You’re pathetic,” the Shadow whispered into Joseph’s mind. “I knew you didn’t have the balls to go through with it.”  

Joseph shut out the voice and simply smiled at Carrie. “Come now,” he said, changing the subject. “What do you say we order some food?” He released his hand from hers and reached for the menu. “I’m starving.”  

To be continued. . . 

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Photos by: google/Facebook

A reference for terms and cast of characters in this chapter, especially for new readers:

BREEDLINE - A species of humans that have the ability to change from human form into wolf form if they are born an identical twin. They are not like the old legend of the Lycanthropy myth. The Breedline species can shift into their wolf at will. The moon has no power over them. They do not pass their ability to other humans. Although they live among humans, their species is secret. In wolf form, they have super-strength, speed, and heightened senses. Compared to humans, Breedlines have tremendous advantages when it comes to health. Their bodies heal fast and are not subject to illness or diseases. The only thing that slows their healing process is silver. It is their kryptonite. Besides old age, a silver bullet to the brain is the only way to kill a Breedline.
All male Breedlines change into their first wolf at the age of eighteen. Female Breedlines do not go through the change until they make love to their Breedline bonded mate.

BREEDLINE COVENANT - The Breedline species must live within the boundaries of their Covenant. There is one in every state. A council governs its laws and oversees the species population.

Carrie Randall - She is Detective Frank Perkin's niece. She works as a substance abuse counselor in Berkeley, California. She has a love interest in Joseph Parker.

Joseph Parker (a.k.a. Joseph Harris) - He works at the San Francisco Chronicle as a freelance journalist. At age five, an evil entity invaded his body after his father murdered his mother. While his father was sent to prison for his crime, Joseph was placed into several foster families until finally forced into a mental institute after diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. As time passed and with the evil entity's guidance, Joseph was later released into society.

The Shadow - An evil entity who has possessed Joseph Parker. Its main purpose is to gain access to souls by using its host to kill, consuming human flesh.

Veronica Hernandez - Carrie's boss.
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