Scarlet Davis sits at her desk skimming through a file filled with mind-numbing paperwork. She is also on the phone with her little brother Sam, who has her full attention. Multi-tasking is not in her wheelhouse. She puts the file on her desk, runs a hand through her long, wildly curled red hair, and listens attentively on the phone.
“Come on Scarlet! It’s Dad’s birthday in a week.” He pleads into his cellphone. “You promised you’d be there.”
“Yes, I did.” She says into her desk phone and sets her pen on her desk. “Okay. Homicide is slow anyway and I am due a vacation. I’ll be there Baby Brother.”
“Come on Scarlet!” He whines in the comical way that he does. “I’m seventeen. I’m a man now.”
Scarlet rolls her warm emerald, green eyes. “Not to me Squirt. I’ll see you soon.”
“Okay good.” Sam says. “Love you!”
“Love you too!” She chuckles as she hangs up the phone.
Scarlet reflects on her family as she picks up her favorite picture of all four of them together. Two of the most wonderful people she could ask for to be her parents adopted her when she was only three weeks old. She was found in a dumpster in an alley, so any hope of finding her birth mother is impossible but Scarlet isn’t bitter about it. She looks at her real mother with her greying black hair and almond-shaped eyes, who is always there, who has guided her from the beginning, and has shown her nothing but love.
Her name is Rose, and she came from South Korea where she met her true love, Scarlet’s father when he walked into her family’s restaurant one fateful day. His name was George Davis and he came from Wales to teach English in her country. His glorious blue eyes reveal the world’s kindest face, so she can see why her mom said it was love at first sight. After they married, they came to this beautiful country to raise a family in spite of the two of them being infertile.
At the bottom of the picture is her brother. An African-descended teenager with a mischievous sparkle in his eyes and an energetic attitude. Although they tease each other, their sibling love runs deep. There isn’t anything Scarlet wouldn’t do for her family.
She stands up and goes to the captain’s office to discuss her vacation. She checks her outfit to make sure she looks immaculate. Her floral blazer is straight, her white blouse is neat, dark-wash jeans are pressed, and kitten-heeled boots are clean. This is her capsule wardrobe; a funky blazer, solid-colored blouse, jeans, and sensible but striking boots. She may be a homicide detective but she prides herself on her style and this stylish investigator needs some time with her family. Her father passed away five years ago from a heart-attack and every year on his birthday, the family does what they can to honor him. That’s why she is in front of Captain Jack Bryant’s office and knocks on his door.
“Come in.” He calls and Scarlet walks in.
Sam is hard at work on his computer. He wants this family slideshow to be spectacular. Not just because he wants to pay tribute to his father but to show that going to school for graphic design is a great idea. It’s his career choice even though his mom is weary about it. He takes Scarlet’s favorite picture with all four of them together and begins typing in a small caption at the bottom.
A loud ping sounds from his computer. At the bottom right of his laptop screen, a pop-up from Facebook notifies him that “Krazy Karen” has a new video. The curious teenager clicks on the link and is taken to the website. This site contains a video called “Krazy Karen’s Wild Adventure.” It starts off with a pleasant looking older woman walking out in the ugliest patchwork dress that he has ever seen.
“Do you like my dress?” She says in a goofy high voice. “I sewed it myself.”
After hearing her ridiculously high-pitched giggle and seeing her curtsy to the camera, Sam deduces that this woman is trying out for a kid’s program. She is a spindly caucasian woman with blue eyes, neck-length white hair, and small oval glasses sitting on her longish curved nose. As Sam studies her features, he figures that in her youth, she must have been an attractive woman despite the menacing smile.
“I’m Krazy Karen and I would like to welcome you to my Krazy show.” She says brightly. “Let’s have some music.”
A clap of her hands starts up a light-hearted song that she begins to dance to. Sam takes out his notepad and writes down “Krazy Karen” on it. It is a silly looking video, but the cinematography is good. He continues to watch this in hopes of getting some inspiration. The video suddenly becomes dark like it went from day to night in an instant. Candles that he swears weren’t there before are bursting into tall flames.
“Sam!” The woman says hatefully into the camera. “It’s time to die.”
A confused Sam is still looking at this woman whose smile becomes unnaturally wide even clown-like. Black veins start to come out of this smile and spread throughout her body. Her eyes turn into shiny black gleaming pits, and her hair becomes these static spiky points on the top of her head. When her long cracked hand reaches to the camera, Sam turns off his laptop.
He starts hyperventilating since he can’t believe what he has seen. Sam shakes his head and rubs his face in hopes of waking up from this horrible nightmare. When things get quiet, he starts to calm down. A stupid video that happens to say his name can’t do anything to him and perhaps it’s an idiotic joke from one of his friends. With logical thinking taking him over, Sam turns his notebook screen back on.
The demonic figure’s face is up close to the camera, reaching its long arms out of the screen towards him. She pins his arms to the chair with her horrible long-fingered hands, and straddles onto his lap with her short but surreally strong body. He screams in agony and no one hears.
Scarlet jolts up from her bed as soon as she hears her cell phone ring. She looks to her alarm clock and sees that it is 3:00 AM. With a sigh, she picks up her cell phone and sees that it is Captain Bryant. This means he needs her to check out a scene.
“Boss?” She says into the phone. After she hears what he says, she whispers alarmed. “What?”
With jeans on and a plaid blazer over her sleep shirt, Scarlet strides past the police barricade and dashes inside to see her mother sobbing on the sofa. Officer Andrews is sitting next to her both to comfort and question her. Rose looks to Scarlet with red puffed eyes.
“Where is he?” Scarlet says in a dead serious tone.
“Upstairs, he…” Rose didn’t even finish when Scarlet runs up the stairs past all the forensic techs and officers.
She barges into Sam’s room and sees what’s happened. There is her brother with his face frozen in fear, his eyes are wide albeit lifeless while his mouth is open in a stagnant scream. His normal dark skin is replaced with a disgustingly greyish color and his body is pressed up against his chair as if he was being held there.
Shock takes over Scarlet when she sees her brother like this. She doesn’t even hear the people around her or feel the officer pulling her out of Sam’s bedroom. As soon as she no longer sees his body, Scarlet releases her arm from the officer’s grip and goes back downstairs to her mother.
Scarlet leans up against the hood of her car waiting for Bryant and thinking about her mother’s statement. Rose had found Sam like that when she went into his room to tell him to go to bed. She is sitting in Scarlet’s car sobbing and waiting for her daughter to take her to her apartment. After ten minutes, Bryant finally approaches Scarlet. She nudges herself to her feet and straightens out her jacket.
“I’m putting Campbell on the case.” He says quickly in hopes of not having to talk about it.
“Campbell!” Scarlet yells. “That incompetent drunk bastard! He can’t solve his way out of a whisky bottle!”
“I know but he is all I have, and you can’t do it since you are related to the deceased.” He calmly explains. He shakes his head sympathetically. “I am truly sorry Davis, but you know you can’t do this. It’s a conflict of interest for both of us. Your father has been my best friend since he and Rose moved here, but we can’t be directly involved. I’m sorry.”
Bryant unhappily walks away but turns to look to her. “Take your vacation now for as long as you need. I promise you we will take care of it.”
He walks away and Scarlet goes inside her car feeling sick. She says nothing to her mother and starts the vehicle. She drives into the city to get to her apartment as soon as possible with her mother in tow. Normally, her mother would be chatty but the poor traumatized woman next to her doesn’t say a word. When Scarlet parks in her spot, she still tries to keep her emotions in check. She gets out of the car and waits for her mother by the passenger door. Scarlet takes Rose’s hand in hers and leads her into her apartment building.
As soon as she opens her unit’s door, Scarlet and her mother walk inside. Scarlet collapses to the floor and sobs in pain. Her crying mother squats down and embraces her.
“I can’t believe this has happened!” Rose wails holding her daughter.
“I’ll find out who did this.” Scarlet vows. “I promise you Mom, I will bring this murderous fucker down!”
There on the entry floor mother and daughter cry together over the loss of the person most precious to them.
Early in the morning, Scarlet goes to Doctor Cassandra Patel’s favorite coffee shop. Although she is going there for coffee, tea for her mom, and a couple of scones she hopes to “bump” into her friend who also happens to be the precinct’s coroner. Luckily, Scarlet sees her walking towards the door as soon as she does. Her normally long black hair is tied back into a large bun, her flawless chestnut-colored skin is decorated beautifully with make-up, and her natural elegance shows through even with her blue scrubs on.
“Scarlet.” Cassandra puts a hand to her heart and opens her arms for a hug. Scarlet welcomes the embrace. “I’m so sorry. If you need anything.”
“I do need something.” Scarlet utters not holding back her heart break. “Listen. Sorry to drop this on
you but could you please tell me what happened to Sam?”
They walk along the line-up and Cassandra immediately answers. “Absolutely. I’m about to go in and start the procedure. When I know something, you will know something too.”
Scarlet gently squeezes her hand in gratitude. “Thank you.”
She releases her friend’s hand and the two of them walk into the cafe to get their goods. It’s a great relief to Scarlet knowing that she has a friend at work who is willing to keep her informed.
Inside her mom’s house, Scarlet goes upstairs. The forensics team is running around trying to gather evidence while she is under the guise of picking up some items for her mother. Whilst they are sweeping the entire downstairs, Scarlet uses this chance to slip under the police tape and look around in Sam’s room.
Her search begins at his computer desk where his laptop looks like it had exploded from the screen since the broken shards are all over the desk. Could it be that this was all an accident? Scarlet’s gut tells her that the answer is no. Especially when she sees the words “Krazy Karen” scrawled on his notepad. Scarlet pulls out her cellphone and takes a picture of it knowing that she has a place to start.
She leaves her brother’s room untouched, sneaks under the police tape again, and goes to her mother’s room to complete her mission. Scarlet may have wanted to get involved in the investigation, but she refuses to be a liar. As she packs some clothes into a suitcase, her cellphone rings with Cassandra’s name on the screen.
“Detective Davis.” She immediately answers.
“Scarlet. I just finished the autopsy on Sam.” As she explains, Scarlet can sense the dread in her friend and she isn’t squeamish. “Your brother died of parasympathetic rebound.”
“What does that mean?” Scarlet asks.
“His heart valves burst in a moment of extreme terror.” She breaks and continues to clarify. “He was frightened to death.”
Scarlet looks up from the bags she packed. “Thanks Cass. I owe you one.”
She clicks the phone off and her resolve is burned up. She takes the suitcase and makes plans to find out who this Krazy Karen is on the internet when she gets home.
Scarlet has been on her laptop all day searching for whatever she can find on this Krazy Karen. After several hundred clicks on many different websites, Scarlet has finally found something. It is a video of a woman named Karen Spell. When she finished watching the video, Scarlet saw the world’s most deplorable human being in this sweet-looking little package. Spell goes on vile racist rants and wishes anyone who is different from her a violent death.
“Disgusting.” Scarlet says to herself.
She puts Karen Spell’s name in the search engine and what she finds is the answers to some of her questions. She is nicknamed, “Krazy Karen” in her hometown of Elktown which is two hours north of the city. Reading article after article, Scarlet learns that Karen Spell has called the police on her neighbors and family when no crime is being committed. She harasses, bullies, and vandalizes other people’s property but the worst thing she has done is cyberbully. This is what stands out to Scarlet the most. It turns out that she was placed under arrest for it and released eight months ago. The article says that she is back in Elktown and things surrounding her have been quiet ever since.
Tomorrow, Scarlet will go to Elktown and check that out. She gets the feeling that this mentally unstable woman is not finished with her hate crimes.
Scarlet stops at the Brass Pony bar given that it is the only place to eat in this swampy red-neck town and therefore the only place to ask some questions. Scarlet walks inside to see that there is an older woman with long stringy blonde hair wiping down the bar. She walks up to the bar and the woman directs her eyes at Scarlet.
“What the hell do you want?”
“I’m looking for Karen Spell.” Scarlet answers ignoring the woman’s impertinence.
“Why?” The woman gazes at her. “One of her boys in trouble again?”
Scarlet finds herself interested. “Tell me about them.”
“What’s to tell?” The woman scoffs. “The youngest Ollie is always in rehab or jail. Then the older boy Cole, he’s always the one picking a fight with anyone or anything just for fun. A sadistic bully that one.”
This new knowledge paints a pretty good picture of the Spell family but she still has to figure out the heart of this matter. Scarlet cuts to the chase. “Where can I find her?”
“Her trailer is just on the outside of town near the woods. Go down the highway and bank left. You can’t miss it.” She instructs gruffly.
“Thanks.” Scarlet turns around and goes to the door, but the woman gives her some parting words.
“If you’re here to take her shit, please take her too. We don’t need more loons like her haunting us.”
Scarlet says nothing and leaves the pub. She shakes her head because she can’t believe that people act like this in real life. She gets into her car and follows the directions that the woman gave her. As it turns out, she’s right. You can’t miss Spell’s trailer, since it is a rundown place that is depressing to even look at. Garbage is strewn all over the yard, the windows are broken, and the trailer’s once blue paint is chipped and faded.
As soon as she steps out of the car, the whole atmosphere has a heavy feeling like something sinister is stalking the area. She tries to get over this by going into the trailer to look around inside. The place is equally messy and smells rancid but the computer in the corner looks clean. Scarlet moves towards it but steps on something made of glass. It’s a small black candle holder that would house a tea-light. She sees six of these little tea light holders around a strange symbol burned into the floor.
The mark looks like a circle with multiple triangles, an arrow pointing to the right, and an anchor to the bottom lefthand side. Scarlet takes several pictures of it with her phone. She ‘s not an expert on this but she has a sense that this is something ritualistic.
The sound of the computer starting up grabs her attention. It gives off a low hum that makes her uneasy. The computer screen flips through many images as soon as she approaches it. The first image she notices is an old picture of the Ku Klux Klan, then a picture of Adolph Hitler appears, and a picture of millions of locusts feeding on crops. Scarlet scrunches her face in confusion.
Why am I seeing this? She contemplates to herself.
The screen lights up with a side profile picture of man with a large, crooked nose, sagging skin on his cheeks, and long dark hair all over his face. What stands out the most to Scarlet is his light-colored angry looking eyes. She would hate to be on the receiving end of that. Then the word “Abaddon” flickers over and over on the screen.
“Wha…?” Scarlet mutters and suddenly a book flies towards her head.
She ducks just in time for the book to miss her by inches and hit the opposite corner of the room. When she turns and looks where it came from. She sees nothing there but other items including dishes start flying towards her. With a wave of her arms, she keeps the plates from hitting her head and instead smashes them to the floor. All the small items that can be picked up and thrown are coming at her in every direction. Scarlet dodges the debris through summersaults and ducking but she can’t see who or what is throwing these objects. There is no one else there but her.
She looks to the computer to see the name, “Abaddon” still flashes on it. Scarlet takes a step backwards as a vase floats up in the air in front of her. It tips as if water is being poured out of it, and then flies at full speed towards her. She takes the glock twenty-two from her hip holster to her hands, and fires it at the vase. It explodes into several little pieces as soon as the bullet hits it.
Her breathing becomes erratic, and Scarlet finds herself more terrified than she has ever been. A dining chair turns from the table and moves its way towards Scarlet. She steps back to avoid it, only to have the heel of her boot go through the floorboard at the edge of that mysterious symbol. Things suddenly stop and the objects that are suspended in the air drop to the ground. The computer screen turns off and Scarlet feels like everything is totally safe.
However, her foot is still stuck in the floorboard. She wiggles it and despite having a hard time shaking her heel out, she eventually gets it out in a couple of seconds. As she investigates the floorboard, she sees something hidden underneath. She kneels and dislodges the floorboard to find something so repulsive that she covers her whole face in a combination of shock and disgust. Under these floorboards is the rotting carcass of a dead Karen Spell. She runs out of the trailer and puts a call in to Captain Bryant.
“Captain.” She says as he answers the phone. “I’m in Elktown. You have got to see what I have found.”
Scarlet gasps for air as she hangs up her phone. She knows she is going to have to answer for this but at least she has the time to get her story straight.
Sitting at the kitchen table across from her mother, Scarlet sips her coffee as she shakes her head. “You wouldn’t believe it Mom. You just wouldn’t.”
Rose reaches across the table and holds her daughter’s hand. In a concerned voice she speaks, “Honey, you know I want justice for your brother, but I also don’t want to lose you too. Are you sure you should be involved in this? I mean, you said yourself that Captain Bryant isn’t happy with you going to Elktown.”
Scarlet puts her other hand on top of their joined hands. “I must Mom. I’m not going to rest until I find whomever or whatever killed Sam. Besides its not like I outright lied to him. I just omitted the unbelievable.”
Before another word is said, the two women hear a knock at Scarlet’s door. She isn’t expecting anyone but goes to the door to see who it is. It’s a casual-looking Cassandra with her hair down, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, holding up a pizza box.
“Cassandra’s here.” Scarlet says looking to her mother before opening the door. “Hi Cass!”
Cassandra holds up the pizza box and pipes up. “I thought you two could use some comfort food.”
“We honestly could.” Rose says as she stands up to get some plates out of the cabinet for their slices.
The three of them sit around the table. A jaded Scarlet begins to explain to Cassandra what she had experienced in Karen Spell’s trailer. From the heavy atmosphere to the body under the floor, all Scarlet could do is shake her head.
“…And I know I’ve seen that name Abaddon before.” She finishes.
“Abaddon?” Cassandra inquires to her with a bite of pizza in her mouth. “Like the demon?”
“Yeah. It’s all over the internet. It’s in videogames, movies, magazines.” Cassandra pauses as she looks at Scarlet and Rose’s bewildered faces. “Well anyway, Abaddon is a really bad dude. So bad that he has his own special place in hell named after him. He’s the one that sends locusts onto earth to torment human beings. Some people also say that he doesn’t just send locusts but some bad people like Hitler, some members of the KKK…”
Scarlet’s eyes widen in realization, she interrupts by slamming her hand down on the table. “I saw those pictures when I was in Spell’s trailer. Just before so many items got thrown at me by an invisible force.”
“Talk about being hit with the paranormal.” Cassandra states.
“Yeah!” Scarlet answers with a huff. Not believing what she saw herself, she rests her head in her hands. “I’m fighting demons. I’m supposed to be fighting criminals, I’m not a ghostbuster. I don’t even believe in them.”
“Well, there is more to this. If you want to hear it.” Cassandra starts and Scarlet waves her hand to let her know that she has the floor. “If a person commits suicide especially in his name, they end up with dark powers including being able to kill a person with their worst fears.”
“Like Sam?” Rose chimes in.
There is a long pause and Scarlet looks up from her hands. “Yeah. I’d say so.” Cassandra excuses herself as soon as she looks at the two women’s open-mouthed expressions. “I’ll just use the washroom.”
After she leaves for the bathroom, Rose looks to Scarlet with trepidation. It’s clear that on her face, she wants Scarlet to stop. Scarlet looks her straight in the eye and speaks. “No.”
“What if she is right? What if this is what happened to Sam?” Rose says in a shrill voice. “This is something you can’t fight!”
“No! I don’t believe it and even if I did, I will find a way Mom.” Scarlet demands adamantly. “Demonic Karens will not stop me!”
In the bathroom, Cassandra waits for a lull in her friend’s argument with her mother. It doesn’t seem like they are going to stop anytime soon, so she gets her phone out to play Candy Crush. Instead, she gets something that she doesn’t expect. A video pops up of a woman screaming obscenities. Cassandra can tell that this woman is Karen Spell since she saw her body before leaving the morgue.
“What the hell?” She whispers at her phone.
She tries turning the phone off and that seems to work but before she puts it back in her pocket, it flashes back on. There she sees the skeletal Karen Spell with her baggy eyes and equally baggy clothes. She stares at the camera with the most noxious look that Cassandra has ever seen. Spell walks forward and presses her face close to the camera.
“Time to die Cassandra.” Karen says with venom in her voice. “You and your kind don’t belong!”
Spell’s face contorts into her demonic appearance from the spikes growing out of her head to the dark pits for eyes. Cassandra starts shaking in fear when Spell’s face starts squeezing through the screen and into the bathroom with her. She drops the phone, and it breaks. This does not stop the demon from crawling out. Cassandra lets out an ear-piercing scream.
Downstairs, Rose and Scarlet are standing up from the table and still arguing until they hear Cassandra’s scream. They stop to look at the bathroom door. Scarlet runs to the door calling out Cassandra’s name. She turns the knob and can’t get it open. This door doesn’t lock!
“What’s going on?” Rose shrieks and frantically knocks on the door. “Cassandra! Sweetie?!”
“Out of the way, Mom!” Scarlet shouts as she points her gun to the doorknob. “Cover your ears!”
She shoots the gun, and the knob falls off. With a kick of her long-left leg, the door breaks off and, in the room, Scarlet sees a hellish sight. A shadowy demonic presence is on top of Cassandra, pinning her to the ground, and writhing around her. Scarlet points the gun at it and yells.
“Karen Spell!” The creature looks up at her and screeches showing off her decaying needle-like teeth. “You get the fuck off of her!”
The demon doesn’t comply, so Scarlet fires a few rounds at her head. The being stretches herself and flies back inside Cassandra’s broken phone. Rose runs to Cassandra while Scarlet looks at the phone where this creature has entered. The cellphone blinks on and off while emanating static rendering it completely useless. She looks to Cassandra and sees her face twisted in that same frozen fear as her brother’s.
“Cass! No!” She runs and crouches down to check her vitals. Quickly she pulls out her own phone and dials 911. “This is Scarlet Davis! I need medical assistance at my apartment now!”
The paramedics roll Cassandra in a body bag out of her apartment on a stretcher. Rose and Scarlet are holding each other not knowing of how to explain this. This situation is getting worse and now she lost her good friend. Captain Bryant approaches her, speaking softly
“Davis. What happened?”
A tearful Scarlet shakes her head, lifts her hand only to drop it, and replies. “I don’t know. She was in the bathroom and then…and then.”
Captain Bryant puts his hand up and doesn’t allow her to finish. “Take your time. We’ll piece it together.”
With that he walks away, and everyone leaves. They are not treating this as a crime scene even though it is. Scarlet shakes her head and wonders what she’s going to do. After the last medic leaves, Scarlet gets a buzz on her phone. She looks at it to see a shocking message.
“Rodents like your brother and friend need to be erased. The game is on.”
Scarlet feels the rage build from her heart all the way into her throat. She looks at the message and says to it. “You better believe it, Bitch! I’m coming for you.”
Scarlet is more fired up than ever. This being has killed her brother and her friend. She may not be a ghost buster, but she is going to bust this ghost. One way or another.
Special Thanks to:
The Loophole : For outstanding hot bevvies and service 1040 8 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1J2 https://www.theloophole.ca/