It was a dull, dreary day. So dull and dreary, in fact, that Wednesday Addams was outside without her umbrella, and Pugsley was jumping into mud pits with tremendous amount of glee. Wednesday was, in fact, in the range of the mud splashes, but curiously none of it hit her dress. Their parents were relaxing on the porch. The mother’s make-up was running in black jagged streaks down her face, and the father was dismally flicking off hair gel from his sodden hair. It had started to rain.
The thunder cracked. The children shrieked with glee and Wednesday jumped into the puddle and attempted to drown her brother.
“Morticia, my darling,” Gomez said, “I do think we have a magician around.”
It cracked again. There was no lightening.
“I do believe so,” Morticia said. They both paused. Thunder once more, but no lightning. “Definitely British.” As if in response, there was three flashes of lightening, and a distinct smell of smoke. It had hit a tree some miles from them, and had set it aflame. “Gomez, mon cheri, let’s invite them over.”
“ Trish ,” Gomez said, delighted, “You know how I feel when you speak french!”
He started to kiss up her arm. The children fetched the weather antenna, and started to try and attract lightning.
Some miles away, next to a bus stop, a man yelped as the tree by him caught on fire. He patted himself down to fish out a carton of cigarettes, but before he could use the tree as a risky light, the rain managed to douse it. He swore and fished out a lighter, but like the universe had something against him, the bus he’d been waiting for arrived.
“Strewth!” he said, and shoved the cigarette back into the carton before climbing aboard.
The bus dropped him by a cemetery. John Constantine, for that was the man’s name, finally lit up. He took one step, then another, and then stopped in surprise. It had been doused not by his hand and nor by the rain, but in fact by the woman across the street. She was holding the hands of two children, and all three of them were staring at him. “Why,” she said, and he heard each word as clear as a bell, “if you don’t intend to share, than you shouldn’t be smoking.” They then vanished into one of the shops, and John shrugged and relit.
He’s never shared a smoke in his life and he didn’t intend to start now.
“Right then” he said around a mouthful of smoke. He kicked a rock, a set off after the woman. But despite him being only minutes, seconds , behind her and the children, they had vanished into the rain. Odd, that.
He gave it up, a lost lead. John didn’t want to be here in the first place, but he’d missed his stop on the Greyhound and the paper the woman next to him had been reading had something about “Satanist Murders In Westfield,” which had only been the next stop and a short bus ride in.
He went to the bar next. It was always a good place to find the dregs of the town, and a decent place to gather gossip. Only place better was at a PTA meeting, but he wasn’t interested in seducing another single mother.
It probably would have been better to seduce the single mother, because there was a man at the bar feeding small sips of beer to a baby. John, of course, sat next to him.
“Thought you had to be twenty one here, across the pond.” John said teasingly, “He looks a wee small to be of age.”
“Ah, I started him early.” the man said cheerfully. “Addams always start early on the depravity!”
There was a short silence as John stared. Quick fleeting glances of memory flitted through his brain, of a stack of hair that talked and a woman with two heads. He was fairly certain he’d taken one to a motel. To be fair, he’d been drunk. To be also fair, he’d also angered the other one fairly recently in the past months. Addams never took it well when you cheated better than they did, and it was doubled if you beat them when you were both drunk off your ass.
“Right,” he said, a little shocked. He was desperately trying to wrack his brain for any other memory of the clan, for he was sure he’d met more of them before. “How old is the little lad? Eight months?”
“Ten!” The man said, “Just the right age! I’m Gomez, and you are…”
“John.” John said. He smiled, one he’d used on many a hook-up in a bar. Gomez Addams would know about the Satanist activity, if he wasn’t conducting it himself. Would make for some lovely pillow talk. He could put the kid in another room, surely.
“Sorry,” Gomez said, waggling his left hand, “Married.”
“Bed’s surely big enough for three,” John said. “It’d be fun, wouldn’t it?”
There was a crack of thunder. Gomez looked at him interestedly, before opening his mouth. An explosion outside cut whatever he was about to say off, big enough to rock the glasses racked up and the pictures to shake. Gomez gathered the boy and the two of them were out the door to see what was going on.
The shop across the street was the source of the bang, with strewn pieces of debris and several children wailing. The Addams child started to laugh at the destruction.
Gomez offered the child his cigar, and John had spotted the markings above the debris. One line slashed down over a curved one. Circles curled through the entire design, and there was one enormous chunk of it missing that had John thinking it used to be a massive protection sigil. It hadn’t been there before he’d gone into the bar, which meant someone had gone into great troubles to hide it.
“Anyone you know around that’s repressed?” John asked Gomez, who ignored him in favor of loudly pointing out various injuries to the baby. “Location of the church?” he tried.
He got a thumb pointed in a vague direction.
Long after John had wandered off towards the church, Gomez shot his head up and reclaimed his cigar from Pubert. “Oh damn .” he said, and went to fetch Morticia.
He’d after all, had sent John Constantine to a church so hell bent on redemption that they still sent people to recruit the Addams to their church twice a week, never mind the fact that Gate usually ate at least two of them a month. It was, in fact, a cult, but you couldn’t expect Gomez to keep up with the local church newsletter.
It’d announced the change of church into a cult only last week.
It was about twenty minutes later when John reached the church. It was a new one, with glossy dark wood and windows that still gleamed despite the rain. It was the sort of church that people who made money would go to, and certainly not the working class in their sunday best.
John looked at his muddy work boots and his still sodden trenchcoat and smiled.
He took the time to relight the cig the mother had put out, and ambled into the church. Dry flecks of mud peeled off from his boots, and he was leaving behind puddles of water with every step. The first person he came across was an elderly woman with dyed brown hair that stuck up every which way, and she delicately gasped when she saw him and the enormous puddle. “Hello love,” he leered, “Where’s your pastor?”
She pointed towards the oak doors. He couldn’t hear a sermon, so he’d either arrived just after or just before one. When he cracked open the doors, the pews were empty and the pastor himself was sketching another protection circle on the wall behind the pulpit in white paint.
“Nice,” he said, drawing the attention of the pastor, “What are you planning on summoning? Hope it isn’t something to scare the kiddies- you know how the TV is these days.”
“No child will be part of our church of gold,” the pastor spat. “We need no squalling babe to steal our wealth and distribute it among the masses!” He flung out his arms and John narrowly dodged the paintbrush flung at him. “The patrons will pray to our God almighty, and he shall bring back the days when there was no thing called the IRS!”
“Are you trying to comment on millennials?” John asked with no small amount of disbelief. “You spent your own money on your own selfishness.”
“Lies!” The pastor spat. “Our children donate to charities!”
“Listen mate,” John said, trying to turn back to his original question, “who are you trying to summon?”
“The angel Gabriel!” He said full of rapture.
John really wished he stayed on the Greyhound. “The angel what .”
That’s when the elderly lady from the hall hit him over the head with a folded chair.
He went down with a loud yell of surprise, and struggled to get back up before she hit him again. John kicked at her knee, and she dropped before she could go in for the haymaker, and the used the pew to stand up. The lady on the floor was cursing at him, utter rage bereft to her being a lady of the lord. “Watch your bloody mouth,” he told her, and winced when she called him names he hadn’t heard since he was a football fan.
“Father.” John almost yelled to be heard over the lady, “You can’t hope to contain an angel- they’d burn you...out…” His eyes had caught onto the center of the protection sigil. He couldn’t move all of a sudden, eyes almost bugged out.
It was Nergal’s sigil.
The bastard was dead, but would they summon up poor Richie, who was currently wearing his skin? Who’d probably give anything to murder John where he stood? He’d no idea if Richie himself had a new sigil, nor if the one they were using would actually work. Either way, John would sacrifice them all if it meant he didn’t drag Richie Simpson up from the depths of hell, from the depths of a lonely grave and a funeral only John had attended.
“You need to stop this,” John said, “The angel ,” John said with as much malice as he could muster, “would sooner kill you than help you get rich and whatnot.”
“The nonbeliever lies! For his fellows had visited us, over and over, to tell us how to summon him from Heaven itself! And now the Lord has seen fit to give us a human life to give to the angel tomorrow morning!” With each word, the pastor jammed a finger into his chest, until John got tired of it and shoved him back. “You shall be the be the guide to the Light coming our way, nonbeliever, it shall be your destiny!”
“I’m not going to be your bleeding sacrifice,” John spat, backing up towards the door, “You’re nuts, that what it is!” He had his cell somewhere in the pockets of his coat, he’d call the police. They’d be able to put a stop to this, or at the very least, delay it. While they were haggling it out with the coppers he could disrupt the magical items, an easy task.
At least, it could have been.
Another patron of the church had come through the open doors unnoticed with the pastor’s ranting. He’d had a cloth soaked with chloroform, and wrapped an arm around John’s face, another burly arm a death grip on his wrists. John thrashed. It only made the process faster.
“A sacrifice for Gabriel!” the pastor said, and John dimly wondered how Richie would like his soul, almost as worn as a used condom.