Carnival of Lost Souls
By Jana Denardo
Author’s Note: This was written for the 2017 Spook_me challenge on Dreamwidth/Livejournal. You can see my prompt here and he’s even the right coloring for Faolan. This is set in the Lucerna universe that began with the story, Triskelion (which is a freebie, just ask me for it, if you’d like). Happy Halloween!
Summary When Faolan’s sister, Sorcha, lets slip that brave demon-hunting mage Faolan is afraid of clowns, his two lovers, Jason and Derrek, have to know the back story.
“I will pay you to make him go see the new It.” Sorcha, Faolan’s sister, beamed, wheeling into Faolan’s office.
Jason glanced up from where he’d artfully draped himself on the window-seat. “I’ll take that action.”
“Not going to happen.” Faolan didn’t bother to look up from his paperwork. Maybe they’d take the hint and leave him alone. His two overs, Derrek the werewolf and Jason the vampire obviously had nothing interesting to do other than sit in his office and trade the typical werewolf versus vampire barbs.
“The coulrophobia is strong with this one.” Sorcha giggled.
Derrek twirled his office chair in a circle. “What’s that?”
“Fear of clowns,” Jason supplied.
Derrek looked at Faolan as if he’d lost his mind. “What’s wrong with clowns? They’re fun. How can you be afraid of clowns? You face down demons on a daily basis.”
“Yes, lover, how can you be afraid of clowns?”
At the smugness of Jason’s tone, Faolan tossed his pen aside. “I never said I was afraid of clowns.”
“I know why,” Sorcha singsonged. No matter how old they got, he and she remained children when it came to teasing each other.
“I will pay you to shut up.” Faolan pushed back from his desk. He wondered if he should just run for it. Sorcha would tell the story, especially if Jason poured on the charm. No, what did he have to be ashamed of? He’d been just a little kid at the time.
“Now I want to know even more.” Derrek stretched.
Faolan sighed. “All right, meet me in the apartment so we can be comfortable and I’ll tell you the story.”
“I’ll buy beer for us or at least make tea.” Derrek jumped up.
“No, you make terrible tea.” Faolan knew once they heard the story they wouldn’t laugh. It wasn’t that sort of tale. Yes, maybe it is a bit silly to be afraid of clowns but he had good reason, and it wasn’t just Spielberg’s awesome Poltergeist to blame. Faolan did, however, wonder how horror movies found a market when everyone knew ghosts and demons were real. His group, the Lucerna, was only one of many organized to fight them.
He wasn’t surprised that Jason and Derrek raced ahead of him to the apartment that they oft-times shared, but Sorcha’s following them was. “You know I don’t need you to tell this story.”
“And miss out?” Sorcha wheeled along in her chair. “Deidre is still at her friend’s house so Mommy has time to herself. And you do need me. I know parts that you didn’t get to see.”
“But you’ve told them to me.” He shrugged. “It’s fine.”
“Unless you plan to get naked and have your boyfriends cuddle you as you tell a scary story.” Her grin bordered on evil.
He rubbed his chin, pretending to contemplate it. She reached up and slapped his butt. Faolan chuckled and slipped inside his apartment. Jason already had a kettle on the stove for them, and Derrek had fetched a beer. The werewolf wasn’t much on tea.
“What do you want?” Jason asked.
“Earl Grey will do.” Faolan sat on the couch and kicked off his shoes. He might as well get comfortable. “I was nine and we were still in Ireland at the time. Mom, Grandma and I were cleaning Great Aunt Mary’s house. She had passed at the ripe old age of ninety-nine, and she liked her collecting, Great Aunt Mary did.”
“That’s putting it mildly. I was there too, but I wasn’t of an age to help much. Mostly I followed Mom around getting in the way,” Sorcha added, parking her wheelchair next to the coffee table.
“Sounds like a boring thing for a kid,” Derrek said, claiming a recliner for himself.
Faolan shrugged. “I was on a quest for hidden treasure. Grandma Brighid promised us treasure.”
“More like lied to get you to do work.” Jason sat next to Faolan, giving Faolan’s knee a squeeze.
“Exactly. Anyhow I was let loose in the attic. I had one job, carry down the boxes to the lower levels of the house where it was cooler so we could examine them without sweating to death. In addition to, uh, collecting, Great Aunt Mary loved cats, cats who were so hoping for mice in those attic boxes.”
“Mom and I got to sort through all the boxes.” Sorcha grinned. “It was kind of fun.”
“Yeah she got to look for treasure, and I got a hernia before I was in double digits lugging a million boxes full of crap.” Faolan snorted. “Great Aunt Mary had this full length mirror, you know the kind that swiveled like on Indiana Jones? I know better to linger on a reflective surface for too long, even then, but I was a cocky kid sure my wand could handle any ghost that might crop up.”
“Phrasing.” Jason said, hopping back up as the kettle whistled.
“You’re banned from watching Archer!” Faolan poked a finger at him. “Anyhow, I paused to look in the mirror as I was struggling along with a bunch of hat boxes.”
”You nearly died for a bunch of moldy hats,” Sorcha blurted out before dissolving into giggles.
“You would have cried.”
“Yes but I’d be sure the headstone read ‘Beloved brother, died for hats’.”
“She’s evil.” Derrek swigged his beer.
“Always. All the females in my family are right down to her daughter.” Faolan twisted on the couch. “Two sugars please, Jason.”
“I’m familiar with you.” Jason brought Faolan and Sorcha their tea, and fetched wine for himself.
“So you looked in the mirror,” Derrek prompted.
“Looked in, posed, pretended he had muscles.” Sorcha flexed her arms in a strongman pose.
“Hush, you weren’t there. You don’t know.”
“I could have been peeking at the door. I was, you know. That’s how Mom and Grandma were warned so fast.”
He rolled his eyes. “I was looking in the mirror, and instead of the wall lined with a million boxes, there was a clown with a balloon right behind me in the reflection.”
“Shit!” Jason’s eyes widened, outdone by Derrek’s stunned look.
“Right? I whipped around but there was no clown. Right then a hand reached out and dragged me into the mirror.”
“At which point you wet yourself,” Derrek said.
“I thought it looked like fun because I was so little. I heard the carnival music when Faolan got pulled through.” Sorcha blew across her cup. “I tried to get in before I went to tell Mom that Faolan went to Narnia, and yes I know it’s a wardrobe but what do you want? I was a kid.”
“Weirdo. I’ll tell them about the other plane and then you can tell them about the rescue.”
Sorcha gave him a thumb’s up.
“So crazy Great Aunt Mary had a portal mirror in her attic, and a demon clown dragged me through it. I was dead, and I knew it. The clown had a grip like a vise.”
“And you were a skinny kid,” Sorcha said.
“I’m telling this story,” he huffed. “But she isn’t wrong. He dragged my scrawny arse into this circus on LSD. Tents had teeth and eyes. They pulsated.” Faolan shuddered, feeling their vibrations all over again as if he were back there. Jason took his hand. “It had that music, you know the one you always hear with circuses, but put through some warped filter. Everything about the place was warped, the performers, the audience, like it was the circus of the damned.”
Derrek leaned forward, “Then what? This is really real, right?”
“A hundred percent. The clown dragged me into a tent where other clowns were getting ready, putting on their make up, and he tried to force me to sit down. He was going to paint my face, and I knew that once he did, I’d be one of them. I’d be there forever.”
“How’d you get away?” Jason squeezed his hand. “Because I’d notice anything clownish about you.”
“Well some things can get clownish red on him but it’s not usually his nose.” Derrek waggled his eyebrows.
Sorcha flung up a hand. “I don’t want to hear about my brother’s sex life.”
“And I’ve never heard complaints before. Are you trying to say something?” Faolan narrowed his eyes at Derrek.
“That milk has more color than you,” Derrek replied without missing a beat.
“You glow in the dark,” Jason added.
Faolan scowled. “And you two can go find someone else to cuddle up with.”
Sorcha studied them. “Will a vampire and a werewolf cuddle without you in the middle?”
“I thought you didn’t want to hear about my love life.” He turned his glare on his sister. “To get back on track, I might have been skinny but I was like a greased pig when it came to holding on to me. That’s about the only thing that saved my life.”
“Anyone else thinking about oiling him up and seeing what happens?” Jason pulled Faolan against him, kissing his neck.
“No one is thinking of that,” Sorcha replied darkly.
“I am,” Derrek muttered.
“Then maybe you shouldn’t have implied he’s Faolan the red-dicked albino reindeer.” Sorcha arched her eyebrows at him.
“Oh god.” Faolan covered his face with a hand. “Just tell them about the rescue.”
“I was jealous, like I said, because I wanted to go through the mirror but when I touched it it was solid so I went downstairs to tell Mom that Faolan was having fun without me.” Sorcha shrugged. “I liked clowns, you see. Mom took one look at Grandma and asked ‘Wasn’t Aunt Mary supposed to destroy a Mirror of Ocala way back when?’ They decided for some reason Aunt Mary kept this one, and they went racing up to the attic. I wanted to go with but of course they wouldn’t take me.”
“Yeah a demented circus from hell is probably not the best place for a little girl,” Derrek agreed.
“Definitely. Anyhow Grandma knew the spell to open the portal. She and Mom charged in, wands ready.”
“It didn’t take them too long to find me. It took me years before I realized they had a tracking spell on me, expecting me to get in trouble like any little boy, especially one with too much power at his disposal.”
“So Brighid and Mom whipped some clown ass?” Jason grinned.
“It was terrifying to behold.” Faolan nodded. “They hustled me back home, and destroyed that mirror like Great Aunt Mary should have eons ago.”
“And no residual clownishness? No urge for greasepaint?” Jason’s grin broadened.
“Not so far so I’m sure it’s safe.”
“Maybe we should strip him down and check for greasepaint.” The tips of Jason’s fangs peeked out.
“I’m not opposed to that,” Faolan assured him.
“While not opposed, I sure as hell don’t want to watch.” Sorcha put her tea cup on the table and wheeled toward the door.
Derrek held it open for her while Jason took his laptop off the table and started tapping keys.
Faolan shot Jason a quizzical look. “Do I want to know what’s up with the computer?”
“Just wanted a little mood music,” Jason replied and Nox Arcana’s Carnival of Lost Souls spilled out of the speakers.
Faolan glared. “You suck.”
“Vampire, duh,” Derrek said, stripping off his shirt.
“Why do I love you guys?” Faolan sighed.
“We’ll show you.” Jason promised.
Faolan had absolutely no objections to that.