Who would build a house with straw? I mean seriously? Well apparently pigs would, and they would pay the high price for it! Ready to find out what happends when the Big Bad Wolf battle against Quincey Morris? Make sure you read until the end for your chance to win Justin Gustainis’ latest release!
Big, Bad Wolf
A Morris & Chastain Mini-Investigation
“B-b-both of my b-brothers have been bu-bu-bu-bu -- killed and eaten,” the pig said.
“I’m very sorry to hear that,” Quincey Morris told him. “But what leads you to believe that these tragic events call for someone in my field?”
“You mean the s-s-s – ”
“Supernatural. Yes, exactly.”
Under most other circumstances, Morris would have lowered his voice when discussing this kind of thing in public. But traffic through Toledo Express Airport was sparse in early afternoon. Morris and his porcine companion had easily found a table in the airport bar that was a comfortable distance from potential eavesdroppers.
“It’s b-because of the way it was d-done,” Porky Pig told him. “In b-both cases, their houses were smashed flat by a windstorm that nobody else in the neighborhood even n-noticed.”
Morris’s eyebrows drew together. “You mean like a tornado that touched down, wrecked one house, then went back into the sky? I’ve heard that happens, occasionally.”
The pig gave him a look. “You ever hear of it happening t-twice in the s-s-same town? Within two months?”
“Yeah, that would be pretty damn unusual.”
“So unusual that the N-national Weather service has no r-r-record of it happening – anyplace.”
“Except for your town, Bowling Green.”
“N-not even then,” the pig said grimly. “There’s no record of any tornado activity, either time. Nothing showed up on their r-r-radar.”
“So you’ve got two localized tornadoes that flattened a couple of houses, and the NWS says it didn’t happen?”
“You got it.” The pig reached into an inside pocket and an iPhone. “But I’ve got the p-pictures to prove it.” He pushed some buttons then handed the phone to Morris. “This is the first one, my b-brother Timmy’s place.”
Morris studied the photo closely.
“There’s m-more,” the pig said. “Just use your finger to scroll down.”
Morris did, and saw other views of the wreckage. Then he peered closer. “What was your brother’s house made of? I can’t quite –”
“Straw,” the pig said, and had the good grace to look embarrassed.
“Straw? In Northern Ohio? Doesn’t it get a little cold around these parts in winter?”
The pig nodded slowly. “Yeah, it sure d-does.” He shrugged. “My b-brother Timmy wasn’t exactly the b-b-bright light of the family.”
“I reckon not,” Morris said, “meaning no offense to the dead. When did this happen?”
“Two months ago – May 12th. Two in the morning. Poor g-guy never had a chance.”
“You said he was killed and eaten?”
The pig nodded sadly. “Almost completely d-devoured. The cops had to identify him b-b-by his hoof prints.”
Morris reached into his jacket pocket and produced a small leather-bound date book. He flipped through the pages for a few seconds, then stopped. He had apparently found the page he wanted, but what he found there didn’t seem to cheer him.
“What are you l-looking up?” the pig asked.
“Before I tell you, give me the date of the second tornado, or whatever you want to call it.”
“Just over three weeks ago. My brother Petey died on the thirteenth.”
Morris flipped pages again, stopped. After a moment, he nodded to himself and put the book away.
“What were you looking up?” the pig asked again.
“My date book gives the phases of the moon for each day. May 12th and June 13th have an interesting thing in common. They both fell during the time of the full moon.”
“You think that’s sig-sig-sig – important?”
“Remains to be seen,” Morris told him. “Your other brother’s house – was that made of straw, too?”
“No, P-petey built his from sticks.”
Porky pig made a face. “He wasn’t the g-genius of the litter, either.”
“You’ve got pictures of that wreckage, too?”
“Of c-course I do.”
When the woman’s voice in his ear said “Hello?” Morris said, “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.”
“I remember that show – one of the cable channels was showing the reruns last year. Diana Rigg sure was hot in those days, wasn’t she?”
“I think it was all the black leather,” Morris said. “But I do have a job for you, if you’re free.”
“For you, I’ll rearrange my appointments,” Libby Chastain said. “Where’s the gig?”
“A little place called Bowling Green, Ohio.”
“I thought that was in Kentucky,” Libby said.
“They have one there, too. But the Bowling Green in Ohio has been experiencing some very strange weather, lately.” Morris told her what he’d learned from his new client.
When he was done, Libby said, “A black magician could conjure up wind strong enough to blow a house down, especially one made or straw of sticks. But the butchery afterward is puzzling.”
“Remember the dates,” Morris said. “May 12th, and June 13th.”
Libby was silent for a moment, then said, “Full moon, both times.” Witches, both white and black, keep track of the moon’s phases.
“Exactly. I thought that might have something to do with the fact that both pigs were devoured, almost completely.”
“You’re thinking … werewolf? Seriously?”
“Could be,” Morris said.
“Then where does the black magic come in? Lycanthropy and sorcery have nothing to do with each other, far as I know.”
“I’ve got an idea about that,” Morris said. “But I’ll tell you when you get here. You are coming out, aren’t you?”
“Cowboy, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Porky Pig’s red brick house was at the end of a cul-de-sac, and it was there, three nights later, that he and Libby Chastain awaited the rise of the full moon.
Libby had asked permission to use the dining room table, and had carefully laid out there the equipment she’d brought. This included bowls, small bottles, a brazier, and a foot-long metal rod that Libby had said was her wand.
“I never knew that black magic was so com-com- hard,” the pig said.
“I explained this to you before, Mister Pig,” Libby said with a touch of impatience. This is white magic, not black. As Quincey told you when he introduced us, I am a practitioner of white magic.”
“What’s the d-difference?” the pig asked.
“The differences are many and profound. But one important distinction is that black magic is used to hurt people – some would say that’s its primary purpose. White magic can’t be used to inflict harm on others, and as a practitioner I’m not even allowed to try.”
“Sounds like the g-guys in b-b-black have all the advantages.”
“Not at all. White magic can be a very effective defense against black – and sometimes even turn it back on the practitioner, as I hope to demonstrate tonight.”
“I sure hope so,” the pig said. He pointed to a small rectangle of gray plastic that lay to the side of the other implements. “What’s t-that do?”
“This?” Libby picked it up. “Magic of a more mundane sort.” She smiled at the pig. “It’s my cell phone. And it may prove to be the most useful implement I brought with me. We’ll see soon enough.” Libby looked at her watch. “Moonrise in about fifteen minutes.”
Quincey Morris was two blocks away, standing in the doorway of a drugstore that had closed for the night. He held a pair of binoculars to his eyes, the lenses focused on the area in front of the pig’s house. It was a fairly affluent neighborhood, and there were plenty of street lights. He had been scanning the area for twenty minutes when he suddenly stopped moving the lenses and held them steady. Then he reached for his cell phone, and pressed a single button.
Libby answered almost at once. “Hi. What’s happening?”
“What’s happening is Mister Pig has a visitor,” Morris said. “A man, alone, dressed all in black. He’s carrying a good-sized book. I can’t get a good look at it in this light, but I’m betting it’s not the new Danielle Steele.”
“Pity,” Libby said. “I’ve been wanting to read that.”
“You all set up?”
“Yup. Ready for any contingency, more or less.”
“How’s Mister Pig doing?”
“To mix a metaphor, he looks ready to have a cow.”
“Maybe he’ll feel better soon,” Morris said. “Okay, the fella in black is standing in the street, facing the house. He’s got the book open, and it looks like he’s reading aloud from it. He’s starting to wave one arm around now. Yeah, there’s some conjuring going on, Libby.”
“I’d better get busy, then. I’ll put the phone on speaker, so I can still hear you.”
It was almost a full minute before Morris spoke again. “Something’s happening. The darkness between the guy and the house is starting to get a whole lot thicker, and it looks like the wind’s picked up.”
There was no response from Libby Chastain, but Morris wasn’t expecting one. A little later he said, “Some kind of funnel cloud is forming. Nothing like full size – this thing looks about twenty feet tall. The breeze is really strong now – I can feel it way back here.”
A few seconds later Morris said, “Okay, he’s pointing at the house, and the funnel cloud is obeying him. You’ve got a mini-twister headed right at you, Libby.”
The miniature tornado moved in a slow, straight line. It would be on top of the pig’s house in a minute or less, Morris estimated.
“Okay, Libby, he’s transforming – taking on wolf shape. We were right: the wizard is also a werewolf. The man uses black magic to destroy the house, then the wolf eats the occupants. But you’re not gonna let that happen this time, right?”
The words were barely out of Morris’s mouth when they proved prophetic. The tornado’s forward progress stopped, as if it had come against an invisible barrier of immense strength – which was exactly what was happening.
The tornado spun in place impotently for a few seconds – then it began to reverse course. It was heading, at the same deliberate pace, right back where it had started, which meant it was aimed right at the werewolf standing in the middle of the street.
Quincey Morris dropped the binoculars, left the protection of his doorway, and started running toward the pig’s house and what waited for him outside it.
Morris was in good shape and covered ground quickly. The werewolf was running now, too, and the geography of the neighborhood meant that it had only one direction to go – straight toward Morris.
Morris stopped running about a hundred yards from the pig’s house. Chest heaving, he stood in the middle of the street, feet apart, and waited. His left hand held the phone near his mouth. The right arm dangled by his side, the fingers twitching slightly.
The werewolf had seen Morris now. The half-animal brain realized that Morris was the only obstacle between the werewolf and safety. It ran right at Morris, growling, carnivore’s teeth bared.
Morris waited. The creature was about fifty yards away, and closing.
Morris said into the phone, “Kill it, Libby! Now!”
At once, the black tornadic spiral began to dissipate. The werewolf, either not knowing the danger was gone or not caring, kept coming.
Twenty yards. Morris could hear the animal sounds the thing was making.
The werewolf was twelve yards away when Quincey Morris drew the Colt .38 Special from the holster on his right hip and put a silver bullet right between its red, crazed eyes. Momentum kept the corpse traveling forward a little longer, until the dead thing came to a stop less than an arm’s length from the man who had killed it.
Inside the brick house, Porky Pig started at the sound of the shot.
“What the hell was that?”
Libby Chastain looked at him, a wide grin splitting her face as she said “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”
To celebrate the release of the third book in the Morris & Chastain Investigation series, Sympathy for the Devil (released July 26th, 2011), Justin would like to offer a signed copy to one of you!
Senator Howard Stark wants to be President of the United States. So does the demon inside him. With the competing candidates dropping out due to scandal, blackmail, and ‘accidental’ death, Stark looks like a good bet to go all the way to the White House. And if he gets there, Hell on Earth will follow.
Occult investigator Quincey Morris and white witch Libby Chastain are determined to stop this evil conspiracy. But between them and Stark stand the dedicated agents of the US Secret Service – as well as the very forces of Hell itself. Quincey and Libby will risk everything to exorcise the demon possessing Stark. If they fail, ‘Hail to the Chief’ will become a funeral march – for all of us.
Interested in winning this book?
This giveaway is open to Internationally
To enter, just leave a comment letting me know your favorite moment of this story?
You can to earn an extra entry (1) by spreading the word, please provide link in a second comment
Tweet: #FantasticFables Justin Gustainis' take on The 3 Little Pigs | Win : Symthapy for the Devil | http://www.tyngasreviews.com/2011/08/ffthree-little-pigs-by-justin-gustainis.html | #giveaway PLZ RT
Ends September 7th, 2011.
Mr. Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002.
His academic publications include the book American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, published in 1993, and a number of scholarly articles that hardly anybody has ever read.
In the Summer of 2008, he attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop.
More Books by Justin Gustainis