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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

By Mark W. Meier

Part 48

Act V


Chapter Five

In the months since Michael Grambic had died, “Howe” had built a secure room in his Wilmington Island home. The most important feature of the room was it would take a human a long time simply to unlock the door.

Chamos rode Howe into the room and locked it up – six deadbolts and a combination lock. Of course, Chamos had no need of using a key to open the deadbolts. A mere thought from a Brother could work them all simultaneously.

Howe, on the other hand, without the powers of the Brotherhood, had no hope of opening a single one without a key. A comfortable recliner stood centered in the room, complete with manacles for wrists and ankles.

He sat, and with a thought fastened Howe to the chair. Metallic restraints were enough for Chamos to be comfortable vacating his gelding. He appeared in physical human form. “Stay here, nice and quiet, and you won’t suffer – as much.”

Howe’s eyes burned with hatred. “What are you doing?” That he didn’t yell showed a level of self-restraint. On the other hand, the man obviously knew the room was sheltered using the best acoustical tile on the market.

“You know what’s going on,” Chamos replied. “I’ve been inhabiting you long enough you should know pretty much everything relevant about me.”

“Yes, but your goals don’t make sense! What did an astrologer or politician or wizard have to do with soundproof tiles?”

Chamos scowled, and Howe shrank back in fear. “You don’t know enough, evidently. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Even if you manage to escape the chair you won’t be able to open the locks before I return.”

A moment later Chamos arrived in the space between spaces where the Brotherhood met. Kulak was waiting.

“Taking your time, Chamos?” Though sound didn’t exist, communication between Brothers could easily be interpreted as if they spoke.

“I can’t simply vacate without preparations. You know how it is.” Chamos suspected Kulak had more experience than most Brothers. Riding a human, while fun, took some effort and a lot of practice to do it right. Eventually the human welcomed not needing to make decisions. Then a Brother could leave for hours without a problem.

Kulak grinned. “Indeed I do know how it is. Some are more welcoming than others, so Howe must be resistant.”

“Endless screaming. It’s wonderful.” Chamos let a smile slip into his malign countenance.

“You’ll tame him. Any bets on how long it’ll take?”

“Loser spends a week with Pop?”

Kulak shuddered. “Never mind.”

Chamos brought up the topic of the meeting. “You called. What did you want?”

“One of my staff tells me a lawsuit has been filed in Georgia contesting the will of the late Michael Grambic.”

“It was probably inevitable.”

“How is it you didn’t know about it already?” Kulak twisted his face into a hideous scowl. “It’s your job to control that situation.”

Chamos wasn’t impressed with Kulak’s displeasure. He’d known his boss long enough to understand he was simply a blowhard. “I’m inhabiting one of the most powerful people in Georgia. Howe deals with courts and lawyers all the time. Grambic, when he was alive, even delegated most of his legal affairs to Howe. This is a minor annoyance.”

“Not this time, Chamos. There are enemy spies lurking about. Don’t underestimate what’s going on, or you’ll spend a week with Pop just on general principle.”

“You don’t need to threaten me.” Chamos prepared to leave. “I already have enough invested in this project. If it fails, we both know what will happen.” Chamos only suspected what would happen, but hoped he could bait Kulak into confirming that suspicion.

Kulak grunted. “Havoc must be created, Chamos. Go. Do that.”

Not a denial. Then it was true – the scorched earth policy of the Brotherhood was the only tactic left. Then the only way to actually harm their archenemy was by hurting His people. Through the millenia he’d been doing that, but now he knew there was no hope for his kind.

Chamos returned to the secret room just as Howe managed to open the first lock on the door. The recliner, somehow, had been reduced to flinders and the human had managed to use a bit of metal as a lock pick.

Howe must have sensed the presence of his tormentor. He backed into a corner, swearing. Then the remaining tatters of his composure fractured and he screamed, “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

Chamos’ response was ice cold. “You wanted Him to leave you alone. That’s why I can use you as I wish.” He glanced over the remains of the chair. “Looks like I’ll need a new way to secure you. Next time it won’t be so comfortable.”

Howe gave a wordless shriek and attacked, but Chamos simply dove into the human once again. Ephemerals had no inherent defense against the Brotherhood.

Chamos/Howe said aloud, “Handcuffs bolted to the floor. I’ll give you a pad, but if you defy me again I’ll remove even that.”

The tiny corner of “Howe” that was still Howe sent a stream of invectives at Chamos. Anyone else would have blushed, but Brothers had heard far worse.

“Shall we see about your new restraints?”

Using a twitch of his personal will Chamos unlocked the rest of the deadbolts and swung the thick door open. The late Michael Grambic’s butler waited in the faux granite hallway. “What is it, Charles?”

“A man is at the door and wishes to see you.” He glanced past Howe. “Would you like me to clean up that mess, sir?”

“Please do.” Chamos stepped into the hall to allow the butler to enter the sanctum. “Do you know why he wants to see me?”

Charles stopped in the threshold and turned his back on the destruction. “I’ve heard Mr. Grambic has a cousin suing to contest the will.”

Chamos smiled. The butler was an asset to be utilized. “Give yourself a thousand dollar bonus, Charles.”

The butler nodded impassively. “Thank you, Mr. Howe.”

The dwindling resistance of Victor Howe tried calling to the butler, sobbing. “Help me, Charles!” None of the plea found voice, squelched by the Brother dominating him.

“Before you clean the mess, please show the man to my day room.” Chamos didn’t know how he’d handle the man, whom he suspected was a process server, but humans were simple to figure out and manipulate.

All in a day’s work.

If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.

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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

By Mark W. Meier

Part 47

Act V


Chapter Four

Kiel visibly pulled his attention away from the window and pointed at Grambic’s will. “Back to the issue which brought me here. I watched Mr. Grambic’s executive assistant sign and date the last page. The two witnesses are dead – killed the next day in a car crash – and the notary doesn’t recall signing, though experts say those three signatures are genuine.

“I’m convinced this is a fraudulent document. Miss Drabbs, you were intended to be the major recipient of Mr. Grambic’s estate, and you’ve been cheated out of your inheritance. Do you want to do something about it, or let the criminal go without a fight?”

Amy didn’t know how to respond. She looked at Pastor Brill for guidance, but he merely gave a slight shrug. She asked, “Well, what’s in that estate?”

“Grambic Tiles, worth about two hundred million dollars. His mansion along the Savannah River, a few million dollars more. His other holdings – cash accounts and investments – about twenty-five million.” Kiel held Amy’s gaze. “His net worth was just over a quarter of a billion dollars, and someone stole it from you.”

Amy leaned back in her chair, speechless. She couldn’t comprehend hundreds of millions of dollars. A clerk at a convenience store would never earn that in a dozen lifetimes, though she hoped to become a veterinarian and make a decent living.

“Two hundred . . . million.” Amy looked from Kiel to Brill and back again. “What would I do with that kind of money?”

Pastor Brill cleared his throat. “Wrong question, Amy. Think about what you could do.”

Amy noticed Kiel’s unnerving stare and wondered what he was looking for. “Money is the root of all evil.”

“No.” Brill shook his head. “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

Amy smiled. “Just checking to see if you’re listening, Pastor.”

Kiel smiled and slid the will back into his briefcase. “I’m convinced we have a case.” He pulled out another packet of paper. “This is an agreement for me to represent you in a lawsuit to challenge the existing will.”

“I can’t afford to hire a lawyer.” Amy didn’t even look at the papers.

Kiel tapped the top sheet. “This is a contingency contract. I don’t get paid a cent unless we win. Then my rates will be half the going fee schedule.”

Brill raised an eyebrow. “Why would you do that?”

“I’m fully aware of her financial situation. Though I have a check for her in the amount of a million dollars, I suggest she not cash it. Doing that would be tacit acceptance of the will, and work against us in court.”

Amy gave a weak smile. “I think he means why half normal rates.”

“I liked your cousin,” Kiel said. “He treated me well, he paid his people above what would normally be expected, and wouldn’t stoop to underhanded tactics to get things accomplished.” He smiled. “At times he’d use his wealth as a club, but only to clear his path of useless detail. He never used money for nefarious purposes.”

“He’s gone now,” Brill pointed out. “Why would you help Amy now?”

“I don’t like the man who did this to you.” Kiel’s expression turned ominous. “He’s cheated you out of something of real value, when his other option would have been better for everyone involved – himself included.”

Amy took a pen and considered, clicking the ballpoint open and closed.

“Let’s do this.” She signed.


Chamos felt something change. A fundamental shift happened that presaged difficulties ahead. A moment later he received a summons to return to the Brotherhood.

“Miss Peralta.” He forced a resistant Howe to climb out of the office chair. “I’m taking the rest of the day off.”

The secretary nodded and pressed a button on her desk to call the elevator. “Have a nice day, sir.” The tone of her voice was perfunctory.

Chamos smiled at the transparency of Peralta’s indifference. Howe’s expression reflected his master’s humor.

Jousting with Peralta could be a fun way to spend a few hours, but he needed to get back to the Wilmington estate. He couldn’t leave an awakening Howe unattended while he visited the Brotherhood.

Chamos had prepared a special room so his . . . client . . . couldn’t thwart the Brotherhood while unoccupied.


Howe lamented the actions he’d taken. Since being “hijacked” by the entity called Chamos, he realized how self-centered he’d been. Hiring the mercenaries to murder the man who had blown up the factory in Paris, forging Grambic’s signature, giving himself a bigger raise than Grambic had suggested, and so many other acts over the years. He now knew he’d somehow left himself open to Chamos.

Howe marshaled his willpower. The horror of being forced to watch “himself” from the inside, unable to affect his own body, was a crushing weight on his psyche. He had to fight back. Somehow he’d push Chamos out and regain control.

If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.

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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

By Mark W. Meier

Part 46

Act V


Chapter Three

Amy pulled on her jacket and opened her apartment door to find a man about to knock. “Oh!” Amy exclaimed. “Are you here to see me?”

The man drew a glossy business card from his suit jacket. “Miss Drabbs? I’m Ben Kiel, your cousin’s attorney.”

“Cousin? I have a cousin?”

Amy had been trying to pull her life together for more than three months. Somehow, though, one death after another touched those she knew. Even a few of her friends had died unexpectedly. Who would have expected a fireplace accessory to fall and kill someone at a home improvement store?

“Yes, Miss Drabbs. Michael Grambic. May we step inside to talk?”

“I’m running late for work.” Amy glanced at the business card in her hand. “Mr. Kiel, if you want to meet with me tomorrow morning at church, I’ll have some time then.”

“I could drive you to work. We could talk on the way.”

Amy gave a weak smile, remembering Andy trying to get her alone with him. “Wouldn’t be proper, Mr. Kiel.” She pulled her door closed and headed to the steps. “Corinthian Missionary Baptist on Willow Street. Nine thirty.”

“Very well.” Kiel nodded.

The next morning Amy pulled open the church’s front door precisely on time to find the lawyer already waiting in the lobby, seated in a not-too-comfortable chair between two plastic trees designed to make the area more homey. Kiel stood as she entered.

“Mr. Kiel.” She shook hands with the attorney. “Let me see if Pastor Brill is available yet.” She’d asked David Brill to be on hand to chaperone the meeting. “He’s probably in his office.”

Amy pulled open the glass door to the office suite and walked down the short hall to Brill’s office. “Pastor? Ben Kiel’s here.”

The elderly pastor stood. “Conference room?”

Amy nodded. “That should work. I’ll get him and meet you there.”

Amy was apprehensive about the upcoming meeting. In her experience, lawyers typically were an unemotional lot – stuffy, in fact. She wasn’t prepared for the compassion in Kiel’s eyes when she asked him to follow her to the small conference room.

By the time Amy and Kiel arrived, Pastor Brill had already taken the seat at the head of the table. Amy and Kiel sat across from each other. A window with open blinds graced the end of the room opposite Brill.

Kiel slid his briefcase onto the table and popped open the latches. “I have here a will signed by your cousin, Michael Grambic, from Savannah, Georgia.” Kiel pulled out a packet of papers and slid them across to Amy.

Amy took a cursory glance at the top page of the document held together by a binder clip. “I didn’t even know I had a cousin.”

Brill was apparently satisfied to simply bear witness to the proceedings. He watched and listened, fingers interlaced and resting on the table, but otherwise didn’t contribute.

“Your cousin was very aware of you, Miss Drabbs. No doubt some of his final thoughts were of you.”

Amy thumbed through the stack of papers without looking. “How many pages is this? And what does it say?”

“Sixty-three pages, Miss Drabbs. In short, it says he left you a million dollars, with another hundred thousand every year for the rest of your life.”

Amy exchanged a shocked glance with Pastor Brill. Though not exactly impoverished, the congregation at Missionary Baptist didn’t claim any millionaires that she knew of.

“A million dollars?” Amy’s eyes widened more as she looked up at Kiel. “A cousin I’ve never heard of left me a million dollars?”

Then Amy thought she saw something move out of the corner of her eye. She turned to look out the window and felt a chill. Nothing there, but she shivered.

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. That document is a forgery.” Then he, too, turned toward the window.


After taking down Grambic, Ruax should have been assigned another project. He couldn’t help, though, watching what the lawyer was up to. Unable to enter the church, he settled for watching through windows like a peeping Tom.

When Amy turned to the window Ruax thought he’d become visible. No, it must just be a coincidence. Then Kiel’s head rotated his direction. They must both be able to see him. Then Brill’s gaze speared Ruax with a third dagger of awareness.

As Ruax slid away from the window a percussive sound came from his left. The rancid flavor of the sound told him who had appeared. “What are you doing here, Pop?”

“You know I don’t like that name, Ruax.”

“They can see us. I don’t care what you like.” Inconsequentials didn’t enter into Ruax’s decisions. “We should let Chamos know.”

Baraqijal laughed. “You tell him. Don’t include me in your stupidity.”

Ruax pondered. Chamos would be busy with the beagle, but he had other staff from the Brotherhood. “I guess it’s not our responsibility, but maybe we should tell someone, Pop.” He used the nickname simply to irritate the annoying Brother, who’d been promoted from imp not long ago – for the third time.

Baraqijal grimaced. “Not our circus. If Chamos isn’t aware enough to have these ephemerals watched, it’s on him. We can have fun with an easier target or get another assignment. There are thousands of plans to promote.”

“Nobody will miss us for a few days, I guess.” Ruax grinned. “What do you say we make a plane crash somewhere?”

Baraqijal returned his Brother’s smile. “Deal. As long as it’s not here where so many people can see us.”


“You felt that, didn’t you?” Amy gave Kiel a penetrating stare. “And it’s not the first time.”

The lawyer grimaced. “I first felt it when Michael Grambic saw that will.” He pointed at the stack of papers. “I didn’t think much of it at the time, but this was stronger.”

Amy fought to keep from crying. “Andy had that aura around him, too. When he died I saw a . . . creature . . . in his apartment. Then it and Marshal Woods saw me and disappeared. Pastor, I’ve always believed there were . . . forces . . . in the world. It’s a shattering experience to actually see one. Or rather two.”

Brill leaned forward. “I understand. Did you tell the police what you saw?”

“I’m not stupid enough to talk about a horrific monster hovering over my dead boyfriend, Pastor.” Amy wondered if her words were too caustic. “I’ll never forget how it looked at me. Like I was a piece of meat.”

Kiel looked back and forth at the others in the room, as if unsure what to think. “You saw them?”

“Yes. And I can only say they were horrible beyond belief.”


From the streets of Savannah, Chamos looked out through Howe’s eyes at Grambic Tower. Howe’s position as majority owner of Grambic Tiles would be the perfect tool to advance the Brotherhood’s agenda on a scale Chamos knew he deserved. Money, mayhem and misery – he could use all of it to advance himself into the upper ranks of the Brotherhood.

Sure, there were ways to promote their agenda without money, but to keep their goals from becoming too obvious made their work easier. The kind of wealth Grambic Tiles gave them access to provided a believable source of influence in the physical world.

Chamos had Howe walk into the building’s lobby and cross to the elevator, greeting people along the way. Howe had seen Grambic do that a thousand times, and the Brother knew it engendered loyalty to the company.

In the elevator, Howe’s special key bypassed the lift’s normal operation to make the ride an express trip to the top floor. The doors slid open to the desk formerly known as Howe’s, now manned by a very competent, if buxom, brunette. Chamos had no intention of taking advantage of her. Very few Brothers were actually licentiousness, and he had more important things to do with his time.

“Good morning, Miss Peralta.”

“Mr. Howe.” Peralta handed him a single-page briefing of what had happened overnight and an estimate of what the day would require of him. “Looks like Dannacona will be smooth sailing.”

Chamos smiled at the woman. She probably didn’t know Howe’s predecessor had been a sailing man. “Let’s hope so. I want to expand the company, and our Canadian factory will be a big part of that process.”

Chamos wondered what tactics his enemies would use to fight him in Quebec. They tended to be a sneaky lot, using misdirection more often than brute force. Well, the Brotherhood could be cunning, too. Keeping Howe operating as he normally would was key to a larger plan.


After months of a nightmare existence of torment, Howe felt like he’d awakened.

Only the nightmare wasn’t over.

Chamos’ smile broadened as Howe screamed anew.

If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.

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