The New Array (3)

"There is an abandoned mall in Scagire, New Mexico. If you go there between 12 AM and 1 AM, and the lights are on, you will find an art exhibit with more interesting artwork than what there is time to look at. You will meet a man and his daughter who are actually dead. They told me that their names were Rembrandt and Carise Monticello. They run the exhibit.

You shouldn't go. The man is insane. I have only left there to have weeks of nightmares.

Leave by 1 A.M. or you might not leave at all."

The New Array

            Slavik had rode his bike or taken his car by Scagire's abandoned mall many times at night, dressed casual with work boots that were good to wear in the winter. In these ventures he always had a loaded gun in his coat, and a knife in his pants pocket; and a bag with a Bible, a Koran, and a copy of the Dhammapada.. The lights were always out though, and the night which had left him with weeks of nightmares seemed less and less tangible.
            It was Wintertime now, and the cold, dark nights were met with an uneasiness, even if it was subtle. An uneasiness that came from that damned abandoned mall. Slavik had peered in on multiple occasions when the lights weren't on, and broke in once. It was always the same, dusty, empty, and waiting to be torn down.. which if it ever happened, Slavik wouldn't get the information he needed to manipulate out of Rembrandt; but at least the lack of a building might also stop the man or monster from taking any more victims.
            It was a frigid night with snowfall that was headed for blizzard thickness, when Slavik decided to take his Buick on what would likely be a futile trip to the same old shopping center.
            When Slavik saw lights as he pulled closer to the driveway, he was filled with as much cynicism as excitement and thought that the streetlights had maybe been replaced by the city. When he got to the expanse of parking lot, there were no cars there, but the lights to the mall were on. A tidal wave of both dread and excitement washed over him from inside as he parked his car over multiple spots on the empty, cracking gravel and turned the key out of the ignition.
            Slavik put on his grey winter coat and put the bag of religious books around his left arm. His right hand was in the deep pocket of the coat, clenched around the handle of his revolver. He could make out the portraits and displays, exotic and strange, but saw no-one. He opened and walked through sets of doors ready for anything, finding this time that oddly, there were two lobbies instead of one.
            Slavik pulled his gun out as he came into the lobby which had some very old, but familiar record playing out of nowhere. He suddenly spotted Carise, she was in the same bloodstained dress as he had last seen her, but was stationary and staring off to space with little more than a twitch of her head; there was a circle drawn around her in blood, with another circle as a border, and filled with symbols. He felt a drop of confidence in his gut, and his grip tightened on the pistol as he held it up in the air.
            "Rembrandt!?" Slavik screamed.
            Rembrandt laughed, "How stupidly bold of you."
            Slavik looked around the court, speaking loudly to wherever Rembrandt might be.. "I came here to use you. If something happens to me, emails will go out to my friends on how to find you, and to tear this mall down at all costs. So your going to tell me how to get rid of your kind."
            Rembrandt appeared from the edge of the hall, his skin pure white and his suit pure black. "You would just tear the place down anyways, you controlling ass."
            Though Slavik kept his revolver on Rembrandt he heard shifting in the ceiling, his heart pounded a little faster, remembering the wrapped up bodies that dropped from nooses the last time he had entered the damned art exhibit.
            Rembrandt came closer. When he was a more normal distance of conversation, with his creepy, narrow-eyed gaze on Slavik, he turned his back with his hands together. "You are correct though, I am tired of you and the living as an artistic medium. I have had grander and bolder visions."
            "What do you mean?"
            "It seems we have a common interest, in the narrow gaze of your morality, you would gladly dispose of anyone like me; but lack any power or will to do so."
            Slavik pulled the trigger back.
            Rembrandt continued speaking, "And I would like to seek out others of my kind and drain the energy from them, and purport their torment into entertainment for future patrons. But.."
            "You need someone living that you can trust."
            The aged artist turned around, "I will leave you intact, if you do the same when bringing me into your world."
            Slavik pushed the trigger forward but kept his thumb on it, "How can I trust you if you have no morality?"
            "Besides that I would consider this an immense pleasure, it would be an humanitarian effort for my daughter. My daughter is my morality. Any more of it would kill me."
            Slavik looked over to Carise, now her head looked like it was twitching sporadically every five seconds. "Why is she like that? What's wrong with her?"
            "I am keeping her from being separated from me. I am keeping her from Heaven."
            Slavik didn't know what to say or how to react, and had no notice of the fully fledged blizzard pouring down behind him.
            "So as long as we hunt after these things, you will leave living people alone?"
            There was a pause before Rembrandt decisively broke silence, "Let's get to work then."
            Rembrandt lead Slavik down the hall and to the right, to a table with various trinkets, among them an Egyptian-looking knife and an old violet box carved out of bone. "You will need this to raise me. Like me it is a Polish artifact."
            Slavik went to touch the box and Rembrandt grabbed it before he could. Then, the old artist took the lengthy blade off of the table. Slavik backed away as Rembrandt opened the box and asked, "How do you spell your name?"
            After Rembrandt was done chiseling Slavik's name under the top of the antique box, he gave it to Slavik along with a small key. Amidst this process, the suited man knifed the bottom of Slavik's bag full of religious books faster than the young man could react.
            The demon looked down at the books after they hit the floor and chuckled over it.
            "If anyone other than you touches this box, they will become like the box. It is carved out of bone." Rembrandt started walking back towards the entrance with the knife still in his hand, towards Carise. "There is one more thing. Hurry up. I have other things to do."
            Slavik picked up the books and followed, a little ticked off and with shot nerves, as a light or two above them flickered incessantly.
            Rembrandt leaned down in front of Carise and using the long knife in his hand, quickly tore off a small piece of her dress where there was dried blood. When he held it out to Slavik his hand and forearm seemed unnaturally stiff and shaky, "I don't like reaching into that particular circle. Take this, put it into the box."
            Slavik did as he asked.
            "When your ready to summon me, draw two circles like these ones with the chalk inside." Rembrandt pointed to the circle within a circle of blood around Carise, while part of Slavik's attention when to shifting sounds above the ceiling.. and a strange moan coming from the rooms deep in the dark of the right hall, where he had once ran through for his life.
            "No symbols." Rembrandt said. "Just put the cloth in the border of the circle, and clearly speak, 'Shtookiste jow-ee kref, Rembrandt Monticello.'"
            "Shtookiste jow-ee kref." Slavik half-said to himself.
            Rembrandt offered a handshake, and Slavik pocketed the gun wearily to take it. The dark artist smiled with an unsettling ambition and bloodlust in his face, "Some dark force in the universe has brought us together to do a service."
            I could be a demon hunter.. or I could be insane. Slavik thought as he shook the madman's hand.

* * *

            It was a late Spring night outside of the abandoned mall in the decrepit parking lot. Rembrandt's suit had purple thread going through it in places where he had been previously stabbed. The twisted artist's protege was less formal, in jeans and a black shirt, with a few pounds more of muscle putting him around 156. Slavik had a notebook and a fountain pen, sensing he was going to be writing until his hand cramped up.
            "The planes of demons are filled with curses and black magic." Rembrandt leaned down and began drawing a circle twice as large as normal. "Its been a long time since I've taught anyone about real occult, over seven decades.. but those people.. are dead now."
            "How nice." Slavik said sarcastically.
            "There are many forms of black magic, but the most important to you will be curses. There is much I cannot tell you, because it would inevitably destroy you in one way.. or another.
            "Though there are curses that kill instantaneously, the curses that do less are much worse, in that they can be added onto each other.. and they often are, from great imbalances in nature, rather than from some conscious will. Though often these imbalances come like backwash from the will of someone, or something."
            "I had bad nightmares after the first time I left here." Slavik replied.
            "It is natural for a demon to cause nightmares and worse to those whose wills in energy manipulation are weak; when you first left here you were cursed with nightmares. I had no conscious part in it. You have developed a tolerance.
            "You can boost your defenses with the right sigil, the right spell, even to the point of stopping your own fatality when a curse threatens you with death. I've written those circles over here, these four, copy them. The words under the circles are what would activate them if spoken. You can stand in these circles, but it would be best to put these symbols on clothing you'd be wearing. If you used the circles on that clothing they would be more localized, but more powerful.
            "Do you got all of that?" Rembrandt had finished drawing the large circle. He was standing now and raised his eyebrow slightly, the dim streetlight lighting up his chalk drawings. "Be warned, the clothing will drain the life out of you if you put too many sigils on it. Any other kind of real magick is no different."
            Slavik had already began writing and was having a hard time keeping up.
            "Demons carry curses, they are not immune to curses. You can curse an evil spirit to sickness or death if you are powerful enough. That is what we may be doing. These five circles here, the writing below them are the incantations, don't speak them. Don't ever stand in these circles. Don't ever write these sigils without circles, that requires visualizing a border; the only way to practice is to constantly risk death, and failure means cursing yourself."
            After Slavik had gotten down almost everything he pocketed the pen and started massaging his hand. "I need to go to Russia, to train with my uncle for a short time. Three months tops. He's ex-military. Will you leave other people alone?"
            "What do you think?"
            "I will take this mall down if you harm anyone."
            Rembrandt grinned as though it didn't matter, "You can leave for a short time, when your done training with me."
            "What is the large circle for?" Slavik asked.
            "Evocation. We're going to cause a lightning storm." The dead man replied.