I turned the sign in my window to CLOSED and switched off the lights. The street behind the damp glass brightened into view. Snow spun downward, softening the scene.
What did that book have to do with me? I needed to know.
Relaxing my gaze, I steadied my breathing. The holiday lights blurred. I reached with my other senses for Middle World, the world of the spirits. Doyle dated to the Gold Rush, and its streets were thick with ghosts.
An SUV rolled past. Tourists, hand-in-hand, strolled past on the raised walks. My sister, Jayce, swaggered through the batwing doors of Antoine’s Bar across the street.
But no phantom buggies. No spirits in sturdy miner’s clothes. No Middle World. The denizens of that place were everywhere, but I was blind.
Jaw tight, I returned to my counter. The truths of Middle World wouldn’t solve my problem anyway. Harry had died too recently to have become a ghost.
I returned to the computer on the bookstore’s high counter. Harry Mason was a depressingly common name for an internet search, but the fact he was an occultist made things easier. Soon I had his Instagram page. Pictures of altars with antlers and black candles. No friends or family. No photos of his wife.
Had the blonde been his wife? I’d never gotten her name. All I knew was she was afraid of dogs.
But I did have my other visitor’s tattoo.
Quickly I sketched it, photographed it, did a reverse image search online. Found it. A tattoo for explosive ordinance disposal. Military.
I shook my head and kept searching. Images of sigils, bones, an antique tome… An antique tome.
I clicked on the image of an open, leather-bound book with uneven pages and a black cover. Enlarging it, I snorted.
A Necronomicon. Sure.
But it was a good-looking fake. I enlarged the picture again and stilled.
The Necronomicon was pure fiction, a grimoire invented by HP Lovecraft for his horror stories. It only existed in the imagination and in the fevered scribblings of game developers and horror writers. So why, on the title page, was this one signed by HP Lovecraft himself?
Next in Episode 7: A storm is brewing, and Lenore attempts a shamanic journey to Lower World for answers.
Photo (top) by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash. Photo below by Daniil Kuzelev on Unsplash.
About the Author
Kirsten Weiss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.
If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.
Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com
Feel free to follow her on Twitter @KirstenWeiss, on Tumblr at kweiss01, on Pinterest at KirstenWeiss, or on Bookbub, get in touch on Facebook, post a picture of this book to Instagram and tag her @kirstenweissauthor, or send her an email. She’ll answer you personally…which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.