The Weathervane

Authors: JenJess

Hosted by

1: More Bad Weather Coming

August 25

Micki stretched, eyes still closed in a vain attempt to shut out the dim morning light. She could already hear Jack and Ryan speaking in low tones outside her bedroom doors. One of the hazards of having a room right off of the dining room, particularly one with glass-paned French doors, was the inevitable early morning wake ups caused by Jack and Ryan plotting out the activities for the day. Micki swung her feet around the side of the bed and shivered as her toes hit the hardwood floor below.

It had been an unusually cold, stormy couple of days. And as cold as Chicago could get during the winter months, this was late August and it had been in the low 30s practically every day this week. And with the cold of the past few days had come the relentless storms with their driving rain and angry bouts of hail.

With some effort Micki pushed herself up, slowly lumbered towards her robe, and pulled it over her slender frame.

Jack and Ryan looked up from the manifest as Micki walked out, still dazed from the abrupt wake up," Morning," Ryan chirped in unison with Jack's throaty greeting. Micki let out a wide yawn, "Good morning. Why are you two up to so early?," she asked, looking at the clock for the first time this morning.

"Jack thinks there's something up with these crazy storms," Ryan stated matter-of-factly. Micki looked at them, confused, "OK, I'll admit the weather's been a little odd lately. But, it's just weather…Mother Nature's fickle."

"That figures. After all, she is a woman," Ryan said through a wide grin. Micki cocked an eyebrow at him and headed for the coffee pot, "So, if the weather is a 'cursed event', what have you two found?"

Jack and Ryan exchanged glances and neither of them said a word for a few long seconds, "Well…we haven't exactly found anything yet," Jack finally muttered, "But, I'm sure if we keep looking we'll be able to make some kind of connection. Did you know that the coldest day on record for August was set back on August 29, 1965? And even that was 49."

Ryan's eyes lit, "Hey, that means we've beaten that record nearly every day this week. Once again Ryan Dallion is an integral part of history." Micki looked over in time to see Ryan's smug smile being covered by the edge of his large coffee mug, and plopped herself down into a chair.

She set her cup of coffee down and switched on the television. Usually the TV was downstairs, but Ryan had been carting it upstairs every night so that he could watch the late night creature features from his bed. The TV now sat perched at one end of the dining table, the result of Ryan's late, late movie viewing from the night before.

Within seconds the dining room was filled with the familiar, pleasant tone of the meteorologist predicting the week long forecast:

"And it looks as though our stormy days will be moving on for the rest of this week. In fact the weather will be clearing up as early as this afternoon around 3pm. Now, folks, you can tune into other stations, but, as I'm sure you already know, the only truly accurate forecasting is right here on KAHN…"

Micki took a sip of her coffee, "Isn't that the truth. If I had been watching this channel maybe I wouldn't have gotten caught out in the rain while I was trying to bring home the groceries. I don't know what system this guy has, but none of the other channels predicted…"

"Micki, that's it!" Jack interrupted excitedly, springing from his seat, and tucking the large manifest under his arm, "That's precisely it!" Jack bolted downstairs leaving Micki and Ryan in his confusing wake. "What do you suppose…?" Ryan's eyebrows furrowed and he stood, going downstairs after Jack. Micki was right behind him.

"What's going on?" Ryan asked, taking his usual seat in front of the large, dark-wood desk at the front of the shop. "A few days ago Micki was caught in the rain. It went from a mild, mid-70s day to a downpour…she got drenched in an instant!" He chuckled, pleased at whatever he had discovered but not yet disclosed.

Micki took a seat at the foot of the stairs, "Glad you find that so amusing."

Jack looked up from his paper article and shook his head, "No, no, Micki, that's not it…It's just, well, read this." He handed over the folded up article to Micki. It was from a gossip and entertainment magazine from a few weeks prior.

Micki began to read aloud for the benefit of Ryan who was sitting there looking lost, "Weather personality John K. Barkman at risk of being fired due to his inability to forecast the weather. John Barkman, meteorologist for KAHN is rumored to be on the chopping block, and is likely to be replaced by a weatherperson who has not only a more likable personality, but also the ability to forecast the weather. Negotiations are said to be going on at the station and Barkman's firing is likely to happen within the week…"

Micki stopped reading and looked up, "But this article was written 3 weeks ago and Barkman didn't get fired."

Jack was, by now, grinning like a madman, "Exactly, Micki! And do you know why?" Jack rambled on before either of them had a chance to answer, "Because he started predicting the weather, and he has gotten it right every time." Ryan straightened in his chair, "So, you think that our man Barkman is more than just lucky?"

Jack nodded, "Precisely."

Micki handed the article over to Ryan, "Maybe he's just had a streak of accurate predictions." Ryan shook his head, now utterly convinced that there was something sinister behind the fickle, stormy weather. "But no one else had the scoop on this freak storm except for Barkman, you said it yourself. I mean, one minute, not a cloud in the sky, and the next..." *Crash*" Ryan slapped his palms together to simulate the crashing of thunder.

The loud noise made Micki jump, "Maybe they just have more accurate forecasting equipment at KAHN…"

Jack shook his head again, handing Micki another article, "There's more to it than that, I'm afraid."

Micki glanced down at the newspaper article that Jack had handed her and Ryan watched as her slightly annoyed look changed to a concerned frown. "What? What is it?" Ryan leaned forward enthusiastically and Micki handed him the newspaper article. He read it aloud, "Bizarre murder baffles local authorities. Man found dead in alley from a large stab wound to the heart. Police have no suspects, but forensics reports indicate that the weapon was constructed of an alloy commonly used in the construction of pre-20th century weathervanes."

Jack opened up the manifest to one of its middle pages and pointed a finger at one of the entries, "Sold. One weathervane. Constructed in the 1700's by Shem Drowne." Jack looked up, "Drowne was reportedly the first American weathervane maker. It was said that he could predict weather more accurately than ever before just by watching which way the wind was blowing."

Ryan was now leaning forward, intensely focused on Jack, "Like the way Barkman is predicting the weather more accurately than any other meteorologist out there?"

Jack nodded, "That's exactly it, Ryan."

Micki stood, moving towards the two men, "So, was the thing sold to Barkman originally?"

Jack shook his head, "No, Micki, it was originally sold to a Mr. Myron Ellis. But, according to one of the articles we found the day you two moved in here, he died. So, somehow or other, Barkman must have gotten a hold of it." Jack scribbled down Ellis’ old address on a piece of scrap paper that was laying on the desk.

Then he shut the manifest with a thud and stood, "Micki, Ryan, you two head over to Ellis’ old place, see if you can find anything out about this weathervane. I'm going to head over to the station and see if I can't have a few words with Mr. Barkman."

"Be careful," Micki warned, sounding concerned.

"Yeah," Ryan chimed in, "We have a pretty good idea of what this guy is capable of doing."

Jack nodded, "Micki, hurry up and get dressed, you two can drop me off at the station on your way to Ellis'." Ryan pocketed the address and Micki rushed upstairs to dress.

2: The Mind of a Madman

The large, black Mercedes slowed to a stop. Micki and Ryan peered out of the passenger-side window at the dilapidated house that stood just off in the distance behind some overgrown shrubs and sprawling trees. "Heck of a fixer-upper," Ryan half-jokingly muttered.

"Yeah," Micki agreed, "At least we won't have to worry about trying to figure out Jack's lock picks," she motioned one, long finger towards the front door which was slamming against the side of the house with every strong gust of wind. The two of them got out of the car and walked silently towards the front door. The overcast day cast misshapen shadows as the sun peeked through the clouds, and the howling wind made the entire area seem even more morbid.

Ryan moved forward and walked into the large house, followed closely by Micki. The sun was again shrouded by one of the large, dark clouds that was being swept around by the wind and the house fell into shadows. Ryan moved instinctively for the switch, but, as expected, there was no electricity. They squinted and made their way through the living room. Piles of papers and drawings littered the wood floor, and every flat surface in the house seemed to be covered in paper.

Micki moved towards on of the large paper stacks and picked up a drawing, "Look at this." She held out the paper and Ryan squinted down at it. There were strange doodles and formulae followed by a series of geographic coordinates and Xs. "The mind of a madman," Micki found herself whispering. Ryan grabbed a handful of papers and began looking through them, "What do you suppose all this means?"

Micki shook her head, "I don't knowlooks like he was trying to put together some kind of invention or something"

"Also looks like the guy went bananas trying to do it." Suddenly, Ryan stopped, staring down hard at the papers, "Would you look at this."

Micki squinted down and moved her eyes over the page. There was a series of formulae and graphs, alongside an intricate drawing of a strange little device. It was a flattened circle, about 10" in diameter, and it was covered in little designs and buttons. Micki and Ryan exchanged baffled glances and Ryan hurriedly shoved the papers into his coat pocket. True, there was nothing of immediate danger in the house, but it was giving Ryan the creeps and he wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Besides, he knew if anyone could decipher the bizarre writings and drawing it would be Jack.

Jack squinted hard, leaning over the drawings and writings that were strewn across the desk. He had gone to KAHN and had been all but forcibly removed when he had tried to talk with Barkman. It seems that Barkman had become quite the celebrity recently, and the security around him was tighter than ever. So, as usual, Jack had decided that Barkman would have to be followed to obtain any useful information from him.

But now, as Jack pored over the bizarre collection of paperwork in front of him, he grew confused. "And you two say that these were all over the house?"

"Yep, absolutely everywhere. All over the floor, the walls, any flat surface, even the fridge and the stove. But what confuses me is that he died about 3 months ago. Why is his house exactly as he left it? Shouldn't someone have come to clean it out, even if it was the mortgage company?" Ryan wondered aloud.

Jack seemed thoughtful, "Maybe, just maybe, it would help to find out who owns his house now. I'm going to pay a visit to the county assessor and see what I can find out."

What do you want us to do? Micki asked, leaning forward and taking the strange sketch off of the desk.

Jack looked thoughtful for a moment before speaking up, I want you and Ryan to do some research. Find out everything you two can about Barkman. I dont know how this curse works, but if its anything like some of our others, well want to get this cursed thing back in the vault as quickly as possible.

3: Inherited

By the time Micki and Ryan made it back to the shop the sun was hanging low and a vibrant orange hue painted the sky. Jack looked up as he heard the bell of the front door, and watched Micki and Ryan make their way up the small set of stairs.

"Glad to have you two back. Have I got some interesting information, have a seat." Jack was obviously pleased with some recent discovery as he shoved two steaming mugs of coffee towards the cold pair of antique dealers. Jack started talking before either of them had a chance to thank him. "You see, it seems Mr. Ellis had been Barkmans professor and mentor back in college. A few years back, Barkman fell on hard times, before he started working at KAHN, and Ellis took him inlet him live in his house. Then, after Ellis died, it was discovered that he had left Barkman the house and all of its contents."

Jack made a face, "Highly doubtful. I have a sneaking suspicion that Barkman changed that will because he wanted something in that house. And I think that something was our weathervane."

Micki and Ryan looked impressed, "You learned all that from the assessors office?"

Jack chuckled, shaking his head, "Well, that and a very nosey busybody who knew Ellis. And heres something else I found out. I did some digging into Lewis records and came up with this..."

Jack paused for what seemed like an interminably long time while he sipped at his mug, "The weathervane acts like a sort of calendar for predictions. Barkman kills 12 people, and for each person, hes granted one prediction. After he kills his last victim, number 12, he has until midnight of that night to kill number 13."

"What happens after number 13?" Ryan asked, eagerness and concern apparent in his eyes.

"After 13," Jack looked solemn now, "Barkman controls the skies. And with control of the sky comes power. I think we all know the source of that powertheres no telling what Barkman will unleash on the world."

Micki took a sip of coffee, and looked concerned, "We also found some information."

"Ellis was nuts," Ryan cut in excitedly, "he had been working on some kind of device to control the weather. We found a few articles in some crackpot magazines about how he was closer than ever to controlling the skies with his handy dandy weather gizmo."

Ryan took a big gulp of his coffee and Micki used the opportunity to cut in, "Problem is he never managed to make the thing work. He pretty much locked himself in his house and went mad."

Ryan leaned back precariously in his chair, "So, being the great detective I am, I decided that we should go back to Ellis place and have another look around. Thats when we came up with this."

Mick handed Jack a small, wrinkled slip of paper and Jack put on his glasses before he started to read aloud, "A receiptfrom Vendredi Antiques, dated May 29th, for one weathervane. Sold to a Mr. Myron Ellis. Paid by check."

Jack looked back up, Ryan was still grinning proudly. So, when Ellis died Jack finished Ryans sentence for him, Barkman got the weathervane.

Angie walked down the street, rubbing her hands together to keep warm. The rain had cleared up, but the nights were still freezing, and she had forgotten her gloves in class.

The parking lot was almost empty by nowone of the problems with arriving for class when the lot was full was the inevitable, somewhat creepy late-night walk to the car after the lot had emptied.

She shivered, pulling her coat tighter against her chest, and tried to open her purse to get her keys. Her cold, stiff fingers had a hard time working the clasp, and she had to try 3 times before the cold metal finally released.

She heard footsteps behind her, quickly coming up behind her, and she spun around, not really wanting to see who (or what) was lurking behind her. When she saw her friend, she breather a sigh of relief.

Oh, hi, Leslie.

Hi, Angie. Cold night, eh?

Very. I cant wait to get home and take a nice, hot bath.

Leslie looked jealous, I wish I could. Im due at a study session. Well, have a good night.

You, too. Leslie gave a quick wave as she watched Angie drive off, then started towards her own car.

As Leslie walked around the back of the Honda to the drivers side, she frowned. There, on the ground, was a crinkled up $20 bill. As she leaned down to pick it up, her instincts warned her that something was wrong.

Leslie looked up and, in the side-view mirror, caught a glimpse of a dark form as it walked up behind her. She dropped her purse and ran.

The sound of heavy footsteps close behind her spurred Leslie on and she bolted down the hill at the back of the lot. Leslie remembered to scream, desperate for someone to hear, but the scream sounded weak and breathless.

She ran across the field that lay between the parking lot and the street, hoping to reach the nearby bank of streetlights where someone could see her. In the spring and summer, the field was normally filled with wildflowers. But now, with the frost and torrential rains they had been having, the field was filled with sticky patches of mud.

Leslie managed to make good progress through the field, though the mud suctioned to her feet, threatening to hold her to the earth. She even managed to look back and realize that she was gaining somewhat of a lead over her pursuer.

She strained her eyes forward, seeing the streetlights as beacons of safety that shone through the night. She pressed on faster, seeing a car round the bend in the road, and fell flat as her foot caught on a tangle of dead plants.

She didnt see anything, no attacker behind hernothing. Just the dead silence of the night. Then she felt it searing pain piercing through her chest as she threw her head back and screamed.

The field lit up with a flash of lightning and Barkman laughed maniacally, looking down at the weathervane that was stuck in the mud, in the middle of an impression of a human form.

I must thank you, Barkman started, speaking to the impression in the mud, Youre number 12, my dear. Youve allowed my to predict yet another astonishing change in the weather. And after tonight, I only need 1 more victimWith victim 13, I will control the weather!

4: Recovery

Jack slid into the backseat, handing two take-out cups up to Micki and Ryan who sat in the front seat of the old Mercedes. €œAnything?€ he asked hopefully, already knowing the answer.

€œNot a thing all night,€ Ryan said, sniffing at the liquid in his cup.

Micki sighed, €œI don€™t think he€™s going to show.€

Just then, out of the darkness, a new model, black luxury car emerged. It rolled quietly up to the old abandoned Ellis house. The trio watched as Barkman got out of the car, walked around to the trunk, and pulled out a large, angular item.

Ryan held the binoculars up to his eyes, €œHe€™s got the weathervane.€ They watched as Barkman went into the garage, flicking on a dim light. A few seconds passed and Barkman emerged from the garage, without the weathervane, and walked into the house. As soon as the front door was closed, Jack spoke, €œMicki, Ryan, you two go into the garage and try to get your hands on that weathervane. I€™m going to go over to the house and keep an eye on Barkman.€

With a quick nod, Micki and Ryan bolted towards the garage as stealthily as they could. Their feet padded along the recently wetted ground until they got to the soft crunch of the pea gravel that covered the driveway to the garage. When they got to the garage, they squinted through the dim light of the overhead incandescent bulb, straining to catch a glimpse of the weathervane.

€œThere it is!€ Micki exclaimed in a whisper. She leaned down near a pile of unrecognizable clutter and pulled out the cursed prize. When she grasped the bottom end of the weathervane, she drew her hand back and stared at the sticky blood that coated her fingers.

€œI knew you two would come snooping around here eventually€ Barkman said in a menacing tone that made Micki and Ryan jump. €œYou see, that€™s why I didn€™t worry about finding my next victim€I knew that I would have two victims coming to me before midnight€Do you really think I didn€™t know that you two have been sticking your noses where they don€™t belong?€ Barkman made a sweeping motion with his hand, €œThe whole perimeter of the house, videotaped for security. I€™ve seen every move the you two have made here in my house.€

€œMicki,€ Ryan muttered, €œRun!€ Micki bolted for the only door out of the garage, but Barkman stepped in her way, withdrawing a gun from his coat pocket, €œI€™ve already taken care of your nosey friend in there. Don€™t make me kill a beautiful woman such as yourself so early in the evening€It€™s not even close to midnight yet.€

Micki stepped back and Barkman snatched the weathervane from her hands, €œNow both of you, get inside.€ He motioned towards the house. Micki and Ryan, fearing the firearm, did as Barkman instructed.

When Micki and Ryan reached the living room of the dingy, old house they saw Jack, obviously unconscious, sprawled across the hardwood floor. €œJack€€ Micki breathed, attempting to race to her friend, Ryan at her side. They were stopped by the barrel of the gun that Barkman was brandishing, €œDon€™t make another move. You see, you€™re too late. I am just one murder and a short time away from controlling the weather. I€™ll be a god! And I€™m not about to let you three mortals stop me. In fact, I am forecasting an unfortunate accident for the...Two prowlers struck by lightening as they attempted to scale the house...€

Barkman lunged forward, hitting Ryan over the head. Within seconds he was beside Micki, binding her wrists together in a tight knot that scratched at her delicate skin. He did the same with Ryan, who had begun to stir from his stupor. Then Barkman instructed the two of them to follow him out to the upstairs balcony.

Once there, he tied them both, side-by-side, on the surrounding, wrought-iron railing. Micki and Ryan looked down at the 10-foot drop, then looked at one another as they began struggling with the scratchy rope that bound them. €œGive it up,€ Barkman growled, fastening the weather vane to the wrought iron rail with heavy chain. It was inches away from where Micki and Ryan were positioned precariously close to the long drop. He looked at his watch €“ 11:57pm - €œIn a few short minutes, you two will have elevated me to omnipotence.€

Micki and Ryan struggled frantically against the ropes, then stopped, hearing a sound from behind them. €œIt€™s too late,€ Jack said groggily, still unsteady from the nasty gash on his head. €œTime€™s up, Barkman. It€™s after midnight.€

Barkman whirled around and held his watch up to his face, squinting through the darkness, €œAh, but you€™re wrong, Mr. Marshack. You see, it€™s only 11:57.€ Micki strained to hear the clock bells way off in the distance. Barkman heard them, too, €œNo€it can€™t be€€ He held the watch up to his ear, desperate to hear the ticking sound of a functioning timepiece. There was nothing but silence. €œYour watch has stopped,€ Jack stated matter-of-factly, leaning his weary body against the wall.

Barkman turned to Micki and Ryan, "You did this to me! I wanted to control the weather, but you! You red-headed witch, you already control time itself!" He started to stalk towards her, and his attention whipped upward at a crackling sound from the weathervane.

"No, no, I have three victims right here, I just need the time..." he didn't have time to finish. The weathervane become the source of an expanding, crackling, blinding field of concentrated electricity.

"Duck!" Jack yelled, throwing himself flat against the roof. Micki and Ryan did the same, as well as they could. The orb expanded to envelop Barkman, and his pleading turned to a scream.

Micki looked in the gold-framed mirror that hung from the stairway, and sighed.

Jack chuckled, not looking up from his newspaper as he sat at the desk, "You look fine, Micki."

"Yeah, and it will grow back," Ryan said, dusting the suit of armor that stood by the cash register.

Micki looked sharply away from the mirror, her stylishly layered bob-cut swishing forward. She pushed her hair back away from her face, "I'm just lucky Susie could fit in an appointment for me, and do something with this. With as singed as it was, I was afraid I was going to have to shave my head."

"It's a small price to pay for what we accomplished last night. If Barkman had managed to gain complete control over the weather, who knows what kind of world we would be living in today," Jack turned the page of the newspaper.

"Yeah. We're really lucky that you control time," Ryan quipped.

"Very funny, I suppose things would be different if you had lost your hair..."

"Would you look at this," Jack interrupted the squabble before it could get started. "Local weatherman-celebrity John Barkman found struck dead by lightening late last night after neighbors called in a disturbance. What he had been doing on the roof is uncertain, but authorities say that the house was in a state of disrepair indicating mental instability and an obsession with occult means of controlling the weather. Whether or not (pun intended) he was able to achieve this goal, we do know that he was an excellent weatherman, and will be sorely missed by our city."

Ryan whistled, "If they only knew. Speaking of which, what's up with the weather out there?"

The three of them looked out the shop-front windows at the driving rain just as a flash of lightning illuminated the sky.