Backstory: The scene Gabriel is critiquing in Chapter 2

In Chapter 2 of Book of Gabriel, we are introduced to Dr. Gabriel Wolfe as he is working as a technical consultant on a pretty bad B-grade horror film. I thought it might be nice to share the scene he is watching, before the lights in the screening room come on…..


“From the outside, the house in Studio City looked like any other suburban post-war tract home in Southern California. Neat lawn, properly trimmed hedges, a clean walkway bordered on either side with beds of pansies and petunias. Not exactly the place you would expect to find a haunted house.

It was a mild afternoon and the driveway was well shaded by a magnificent elm tree. Gideon Fox sat in the car, reading a battered paperback and listening to Gregorian chants set to techno music on his iPod. His partner was inside, wrapping up the preliminary investigation of the house.

Suddenly he glanced up from his book and pulled the earbuds from his ears in surprise. Minerva stood at the car window, her face frozen into a mask of terror. She trembled and her breath came in long ragged gasps.

“Come on…” she said as she fought to catch her breath. “I need you in there.”

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I think they summoned… something.” Her voice held real fear. It could only mean one thing.

“You have a demon in there.”

She nodded and allowed herself a small nervous smile.

“Okay then, it’s showtime,” he exclaimed with flourish. He set the book down, rolled up the windows and got out of the Tahoe. By the time his feet hit the paved driveway, the color had returned to Minerva’s face and she was breathing normally.

Gideon relaxed when he saw that Minerva had regained her composure. He headed to the rear of the SUV and opened the back doors, Minerva trailing behind.

“Okay, so what did you find?” he asked as he began to rummage through equipment stored in a plastic milk crate.

“At first, I didn’t see anything,” she began. “I checked all the common areas and didn’t get anything. No weird feelings, not even a cold draft. Nothing. Then I went to check out the bedrooms. So I walked past the den and I saw the Board there. The table was overturned, papers thrown everywhere. It looked like the aftermath of Hurricane Daemon,” she laughed nervously at her own joke. “My guess is that something interrupted their little séance.” She paused and scratched her head. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t actually see the Board,” she added, “just the mess. But I know it’s there.”

Gideon nodded.

“I started to go into the room, but then…” she trailed off, rather embarrassed now at her frightened outburst.

“Ugh,” Gideon interrupted. “Why on earth do they still sell those stupid things in toy stores…you would think after all that has happened…”

“You don’t have to remind me,” she agreed with a nod of her head.

“It’s okay. We know where the entity is and how it got there now,” he smiled. “We’ll get rid of it and be back home before the sun goes down.” He winked. “You said there were signs of a séance… what did the family tell you?”

“Not much,” she confessed. “That there was paranormal activity in their den and that they were scared to go home…”

“…So they called us,” he finished her sentence with a chuckle.  “Let me guess… you forgot to ask them if they were trying to summon demonic entities on a Ouija Board?”

“Hmmmm…” Minerva’s eyes glinted with a hint of mischief. No trace remained of the fear that paralyzed her only a short time before. “Guess it slipped my mind.”

“Thought so,” he growled melodramatically. “Oh well, let’s get this over with.” He grabbed his equipment.

“Did you remember the holy water?” she asked, baiting him.

He raised one eyebrow. “Do I ever leave home without it?” He slammed the back of the Tahoe for effect.

They crossed the front yard. Gideon had his favorite ghost-busting weapon slung across his back – a “super-soaker” filled with holy water. He kept two extra water tanks – backup ‘ammunition’ – in a backpack and he had a gallon water jug in each hand.

Minerva looked at him and suppressed a chuckle. “Don’t you think you’re packing a bit much today?” she remarked, eyeing the extra water jugs.

“Well I don’t know,” Gideon replied. “You said you needed my help, remember? If it’s got you spooked its gotta be something a little more than your typical Casper.”

“Well we don’t know that yet,” Minerva said, straightening herself to her full height, which was almost to her partner’s chin. “I asked you to help because I was being careful.”

“Riiiiiight,” he replied in a tone that said he knew she was lying. “Well I am too. Demons don’t scare me – it’s just I don’t like to get close to them. Exorcising them can be messy.”

She shrugged. “I guess that makes perfect sense in a kind of oddball sort of way.”

Their banter ceased as they got close to the house. Minerva put a finger to her lips as she opened the front door. They entered the house and found themselves in the middle of a paranormal tempest.

“I thought you said it was localized to the den!” Gideon shouted over the commotion as they ducked behind an overturned sectional. A plate exploded against the wall directly above them.

“It was! Everything else was quiet,” she retorted.

“Well apparently you must have charmed with your good looks or something!”

“I’m betting it’s your winning personality!”

He didn’t respond. His attention was diverted by a large entertainment center that was beginning to shudder and detach itself from the opposite wall. “Move!” he cried out as he grabbed Minerva’s arm and pulled her towards the safety of the hallway. There was a large crash as the heavy oak cabinet slammed into the spot where they were crouched only moments before. “Let’s start by getting rid of that effing board!” he swore. “Where’s the den?”

“Down the hall. Watch your step,” Minerva cautioned as they gingerly stepped over broken furniture, scattered papers and a pool of something that looked like liquid detergent. “In here,” she whispered as she pointed to a door that was slightly ajar.

They entered the room.

True to Minerva’s description, the room was in complete disarray. Gideon wrinkled his nose in disgust as the strong smell of excrement mixed with sulfur assaulted his senses. The source of the odor was smeared on the walls and ceiling in strange symbols. A card table was overturned and the Ouija Board lay underneath it, partially obscured by broken glass and garbage. As they crossed the room, the smashed remains of what once might have been a series of collectable plates crunched underfoot.

“Where is our little friend?” Gideon asked Minerva in a low voice.

She nodded her head towards the door nervously. “Elsewhere… somewhere around the kitchen, I think.”

He nodded. “Good. Let’s get this over with before it figures out what we’re doing,” he said, surveying the scene. He retrieved the Ouija Board carefully and dropped it into a black trash bag produced from one of the pockets in his cargo pants. “Hey, did you see the planchette anywhere?” he asked.

Minerva shrugged and searched through the debris for the pointed marker used to spell out messages on the Ouija board. She located the plastic tripod and dropped it in after the board.

“People really shouldn’t play with what they don’t truly understand,” Gideon commented dryly, pouring Holy Water from a canteen into the bag. The contents hissed and sizzled, sending a cloud of steam into the air. The exorcist grimaced and swore as the acrid vapor stung his eyes. He stepped back, muttering an incantation. A loud crash came from the kitchen.

Gideon smiled. “Cool. I wasn’t sure if that was really going to work. It’s from that thirteenth-century Latin text I’ve been translating for the University.”

He shot the wall with holy water and the markings and smell disappeared. “Well that’s a promising sign,” he remarked. “At least we’re not dealing with a high-level demon.”

Minerva nodded.

“Okay, any idea which of the little darlings had the brilliant idea of inviting this supernatural playmate into the house?” Gideon said with a grin. “This doesn’t look like the work of one family séance night.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Minerva agreed as she kicked a broken chair out of her path. “I didn’t have a chance to scope out the bedrooms, but my gut tells me there is more stuff behind Door Number One.” She pointed towards the doorway.

Gideon nodded. “Teenaged girl?”


“Gotcha.” He tied a knot in the top of the garbage bag and leaned it against the wall by the door. “Let’s go check it out.” There was a crash from another part of the house, this time noticeably closer than before. “Uh-oh. I think we just may be out of time,” he said softly. He sprayed the walls one more time for good measure, then exited the room with Minerva following close behind.

Almost immediately they were assaulted by a blast of icy wind accompanied by a noxious odor. The source was a black, shadow-like demon about the size of a large German Shepard.

“Well, hello there,” Gideon remarked under his breath. “What do we have here?”

Minerva trembled with fear. The demon circled her on four legs, its body shifting as if made of smoke. It had a long dark snout and jaws full of sharp teeth that gleamed whenever it snarled and bared its fangs at her. Its legs ended in long spidery fingers, each equipped with a lethal claw. It moved in an odd, flowing motion, like a shadow reacting to a moving light source.

“Hey! Ugly!” Gideon called out in an effort to attract the demon’s attention. It ignored him at first, so he strode up to Minerva and put himself between the demon and her. It shifted its focus to him. He whispered in her ear. “I’m going to distract it. As soon as I’m in the living room, get in that room and find the rest of the stuff used to conjure up this thing.”

Minerva nodded.

He backed away from her and the demon followed. It pelted him with shards of glass as he ran down the hallway into the living room. “Now!” he cried as he took off down the hall in the direction of the living room.

Minerva ducked into the bedroom and shut the door behind her.

The shadow demon followed Gideon as far as the dining room and then hovered just outside, gathering strength for an attack. The exorcist continued to ignore it while he soaked the walls with his Super Soaker. He casually reloaded the gun from the water jug while keeping the creature in view. He knew better than to turn his back on it. The demon appeared angry and confused, however it made no move to attack. The exorcist knew it was looking for any weakness it could exploit. He began to recite a Tibetan incantation that would provoke the demon into attack.

Within moments after the last words left his lips, the furious entity entered the dining room. It kept to the center of the room, hovering over the dining room table under the expansive brass chandelier. It radiated bestial hatred.


Gideon shot it with a stream of holy water. With a snarl, the demon turned back to him, spitting a foul stream of ectoplasm that he deftly avoided. The entity pulsed and swirled with rage, flinging obscenities and broken china at him.

The exorcist pulled out a large gold crucifix. “In the name of Jesus Christ, BEGONE!”

A horrible caterwauling started coming from the blackness. ‘I WILL NOT. YOU CANNOT MAKE ME!” screamed the demon.

Gideon moved in closer. He thrust the crucifix towards the demon again. “In the name of Jesus Christ, BEGONE, or I will be forced to exorcise you completely!”


The exorcist ignored the demon’s attempt to distract him. “No, I will not listen to your lies. BEGONE!” He pushed the crucifix into the center of the swirling mass, grimacing as he felt the acidic burn of spectral matter engulf his arm.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” the demon howled in pain and misery, forced to release its hold on the house. The game was over. The entity channeled all of its rage into a final burst and levitated the furniture in the room several inches off the ground. With a sigh like air escaping a balloon, the demon imploded and disappeared. The furniture crashed to the ground.

Gideon fell to his knees, clutching a blackened and smoking crucifix.”

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