The Abby Normal Series Book 1
by Samuel Thomas Fraser
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror
Abby Henderson has lived her whole life under a dark cloud. When she was born, a demon called the Deacon claimed her family as his property. When she turned 13, she was traumatized by an ominous psychic vision. When she turned 14, her dad had a psychotic breakdown and tried to kill her.
She’s just turned 25, and now people are dying all around her.
This is all according to the Deacon’s plan. He believes that Abby is the key to a ritual that will unleash an ancient evil on the world, and he will stop at nothing to make sure that ritual succeeds.
Now, Abby is in the fight of her life against an enemy that defies all reason. Together with her pious girlfriend, her magic-slinging ex-teacher, and a hotheaded Amazon with a machete, Abby will have to use every trick in the book to outlast the Deacon. Because if she can’t, her next birthday is going to be Hell.
“Abby? It’s time to go. Abby? I say, Abby?” Abby Henderson felt a hand jostling her shoulder and looked up from her school planner. She’d been doodling in the margins again and hadn’t heard the final bell. All the other desks in the classroom were empty, and the only person left was her English teacher, Mr. Lockhart. “What time is it?” she asked, setting down her pencil. “Nearly quarter past three,” Mr. Lockhart replied. “I rather think it’s time you were getting home.” Abby craned her neck to look out the door of the classroom. The hallway was teeming with kids running in every direction, riding that Friday afternoon high. “Can I have five more minutes?” Mr. Lockhart followed Abby’s gaze out the door and saw three tall, athletic girls in green t-shirts, with yellow printing on their chests that said “FBSS VOLLEYBALL”. A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. Riley Carson, Jenna Jackson, and Lisa Sheehan. They were speaking in hushed tones, looking in the direction of Mr. Lockhart’s room every now and again, and laughing behind their hands. “Ah,” he said, and marched toward the door. “I’m glad you asked me that, Abigail!” he announced, putting on a show for the girls outside. “You see, I think what Irving intended with ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ was—” He shut the door fully and turned back to Abby. “That lot giving you trouble again, are they?” “‘Again’ suggests they stopped at one point,” she muttered. Ever since elementary school, Abby had had trouble with bullies. It was bad enough that she was too shy to ask a stranger for the time of day, but she wasn’t what you would have called a “traditional beauty” either: she was thin as a rail no matter what she ate; her frizzy brown hair stuck out every which way like a startled ficus tree; and a row of shining braces in her mouth spanned a large gap between her front teeth. Nor were there many girls her age who took to Sinatra, Stephen King, and The Twilight Zone the same way she did. The kids in her neighbourhood even had a nickname for her: Abby Normal. As in, “That girl is very strange.” “Strange? She’s not strange, she’s Abby Normal!” But it seemed that all the heckling and the insults had gotten exponentially worse since Abby had started Grade 8 at Frederick Banting Secondary School. The trouble had begun early in September. Abby was in a Grade 8/9 split PE class with Riley and Lisa, and one of the first classes of the semester had been indoor volleyball. Missing two consecutive passes had been bad. Fumbling her first serve right into the net had been worse. But when Abby went for an overhead serve and smashed the ball right into Lisa’s face? That was when she had irreversibly fucked up. Abby was losing track of how many times she had tried to apologize in the last month, but every time she met Lisa’s eye, the other girl would just sneer at her from behind a chipped front tooth and a bent nose. “You mustn’t be afraid of people like that, Abby,” Mr. Lockhart said as he crossed to the desk beside her. “There will always be people in this world who don’t take to you, wherever you go, and at some point, you just have to let them alone. Filter out their venom and live your life on your terms.” He pulled out the orange plastic chair and lowered himself into it, a look of profound discomfort creasing up his face. “Blimey, these things are uncomfortable. I can see why so many of you little animals don’t sit still.” Abby giggled behind her hand, and this got Mr. Lockhart giggling. He always knew how to make her smile. Abby had known Mr. Lockhart for a few years before she came to Fred Banting. He was an old friend of Karen’s and he often joined her for a cup of tea at the Henderson house on the weekend. He always had a silly grin on his face and a cunning look in his eye, like he was privy to some grand secret that he wasn’t going to tell you, and his soft English accent made everything he said sound a lot cleverer than it probably was. Truth to tell, Abby adored Mr. Lockhart, and he excited her in a way her other teachers didn’t. She rated a consistent C+ average in all her other classes, but she was one of the top three English students in her grade. When nobody else was paying attention, Mr. Lockhart would always smile at Abby and say, “Top of the class, Henderson.” The chatter outside the classroom died down and Mr. Lockhart went to the door for another peek. “Looks like they’ve moved on. Best make your escape while you can.” Abby got up and grabbed her bag. “You don’t have to tell me twice.” As she left the room, Mr. Lockhart waved her goodbye and told her to give her parents his best. Abby confirmed that she would, then pulled her portable CD player from her backpack and slipped on her headphones. Nothing like a bit of Bob Dylan for that rainy walk home. She passed two more classrooms and the first-floor girls’ bathroom before she heard the footsteps behind her. This was joined by some stifled giggling, and then the world went dark as someone slapped their hands over her eyes. “Guess who?” the someone laughed. Abby smiled and grabbed the someone’s wrists. “Hello, Kelly,” she said as she turned around and locked eyes with the fair-haired, freckle-faced ninth-grader standing behind her. Kelly Munro pouted. “How did you know?” Abby laughed. “Who else around here has this many Band-Aids on their hands?” She turned Kelly’s hands over in hers and inspected them. “Or this much dirt under their fingernails?” Kelly snatched her hands away and rubbed them on her pants. “So I like to roughhouse a bit. Big whoop.” “I’m serious. Speaking as someone who just had her nose an inch away from your hands, you need to wash them suckers.” Kelly rolled her eyes, still smiling. “Fine, Mom. If it’ll shut you up.” She tugged Abby’s headphones off her head and heard a few chords of Bob Dylan leak out. “Are you still listening to this garbage?” Abby snatched her headphones back and stuck out her tongue. “Bob Dylan is not garbage. And ‘Watchtower’ is one of his best.” Kelly shook her head. “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the Hendrix cover blows this version out of the damn water.” Abby sighed dramatically. “You poor, naïve child. Must you continue to fight me on this?” Kelly smiled and marched into the girls’ room. “Pistols at dawn, butt-munch. And who are you calling ‘child’?” Abby followed her and said, “What are you doing here anyway? Don’t you have soccer practice on Fridays?” “Cancelled ‘cause of the weather,” Kelly grumbled. “It’s pissing rain today.” She soaped up her hands and looked at Abby’s reflection in the mirror. “So, what’s the story, Jaws? You decided what you want to do for your birthday? Thirteen! That’s a big number.” Now Abby rolled her eyes. About two days after they’d first met, Kelly had decided that Abby’s new name was “Jaws”, because of the gap between Abby’s large front teeth. It wasn’t as funny as Kelly thought it was, but it beat the hell out of “Abby Normal”. Abby put her CD player back in her bag and said, “I was actually thinking about a sleepover at my place. We could put sleeping bags out in the living room, roast marshmallows in the fireplace, tell ghost stories—” “Sacrifice a rooster and summon Ichthuantl’k’til, Dark God of the Everlasting Fire?” Kelly suggested. She shut off the water and shook her wet hands in Abby’s face. “There. All clean.” Abby laughed and smacked Kelly’s hands away. “You’re kind of a bitch, you know that?” “Okay, I’ll shut up. So, who all were you thinking of inviting? Besides me and my awesome personality?” Abby shrugged. “I don’t know. Wanda. Lauren. Samantha. You know.” Kelly nodded. “The usual suspects, huh?” Abby stifled a smile, slouched, and scrunched up her shoulders. She adopted her best sleepy-eyed hangdog look, like Benicio del Toro in the film, and slurred, “Gimme de fuggin keys, you cogsugger, whadafuck.” Kelly toppled against the sink, shrieking with laughter, which sent Abby into hysterics as well. Then the bathroom door opened, and they both stopped laughing. In walked Lisa, Riley, and Jenna, who circled Abby and Kelly like sharks hungry for chum. Lisa, the Queen Bee of Fred Banting, crossed her arms and snapped, “What are you losers laughing at?” Abby looked at the floor and went very quiet. “N-nothing,” she mumbled. “Nothing! Nuh-nuh-nuh-nothing!” Lisa crowed. “Guess all that metal in your face makes it pretty hard to talk right, doesn’t it, Abby Normal?” Kelly was about to step up and smack the grin right off Lisa’s face, so Riley, who was a head taller than Kelly, grabbed her by the shoulders and held her back. Meanwhile, Jenna moved around to the sink and pumped the soap dispenser while Abby fumbled for a response. “Actually, we heard you two from outside,” Lisa continued. “The language in here! Ugh! You know what they used to do to kids who swore at school?” She spun Abby around to face Jenna. “They’d wash out their mouths!” Jenna shoved her hand—and the inch-thick coating of soapy froth around it—right into Abby’s face. As Abby gagged and coughed bubbles, Kelly broke away from Riley and ran at Lisa. “What the fuck is your problem, bitch?” Lisa grabbed Kelly’s wrists and held her off. “Back off, Munro! There’s plenty of soap in here!” She planted her feet and shoved Kelly to the floor. With one hand, Abby helped Kelly up. With the other, she scrubbed the soap out of her own mouth. Meanwhile, Lisa and her coven vacated the bathroom, laughing. “What a cow,” Kelly muttered. Abby didn’t respond, still spitting out soapy bubbles, and Kelly noticed that Abby was crying. “Hey, come on, Jaws—” Abby sniffled and ripped a paper towel out of the machine to wipe her eyes. “Come on, Abby. Lisa Sheehan’s had her head up her ass since kindergarten.” Abby blew her nose into the paper towel. “I know. But why does it have to be me all the time? I’ve apologized up and down for the volleyball thing.” Kelly patted her on the shoulder. “I don’t think it’s that anymore. I think it’s ‘cause you’re smart. And Lisa hates smart.” Abby sniffed and smiled. “Thanks, Kel. You’re pretty smart too.” Kelly held up a gold charm bracelet. “Goddamn right I am.” Abby gasped. “Ohmygod! Is that—did you—” Kelly spoke for her. “Is that Lisa’s favourite bracelet? And did I swipe it off her wrist when she pushed me? Yes. Yes, I did.” Without another word, she walked into the nearest stall and dropped the bracelet straight in the toilet. “Oh. My. God. You are bad, Kelly Munro!” “Especially when people mess with my friends,” Kelly snarled. She flushed the toilet, shouting at Abby over the rush of water. “So, tell me again about this sleepover thing?”
“Within minutes,” Kelly whispered grimly, “half the student body had gathered outside her dorm room to see what the matter was.” She paused and let her hand fall into the flashlight’s beam, casting a ghastly shadow on the back wall. It was the last Saturday of October, and Abby could not have asked for a better atmosphere for a spooky birthday/early Halloween sleepover. The rain was coming down in buckets from a coal-black sky, and the wind was throwing pine needles and dead leaves at every flat surface for ten blocks. The fire was crackling, the bag of marshmallows was half-empty, and the five girls had already polished off three rounds of s’mores. Wanda—supposedly the most “grown-up” of Kelly and Abby’s friends—was currently building her fourth, despite Abby’s warnings that she was going to fall into a sugar coma. “The girl reached up,” Kelly continued, “her hand trembling, and pointed.” Here, she extended a hand and pointed just above her friend Lauren’s head. Lauren shuddered and implored Kelly not to do that. “And there, on the wall above her roommate's body, was a message written in blood: ‘Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?’” Kelly dropped the flashlight and clapped her hands together. A terrified shriek rippled through the living room as one of the girls burrowed into her sleeping bag. “Jeez, Kelly! Warn us before you do that!” Kelly smiled. Of course Samantha would have been the one to break first. “It’s just a story, Sammy,” she said as she picked up the flashlight. Samantha crawled back out of her sleeping bag, her glasses akimbo and her red hair flying everywhere. “Yeah? Well, I think your ‘story’ made me pee a little bit.” “I’ll take that as a compliment.” Kelly thrust the flashlight toward Abby. “Come on, Jaws. Your turn. Let’s see what Stephen King’s biggest fan has to say for herself.” “Cawmf omf, Avvy!” That came from Wanda, whose mouth was full of s’more. Translation: Come on, Abby! “It’s your turn!” said Lauren. Samantha, who had forgotten all about her previous scare, pumped her fist in the air and chanted, “Sto-ry! Sto-ry! Sto-ry!” Abby stood and handed the flashlight back to Kelly. “Oh, you’ll get your story,” she vowed, “but not yet, ‘cause I need to use the bathroom.” The others moaned and protested like candy had just been outlawed. Lauren was especially pouty: “You can go after your story!” Abby shrugged, gave a quick apology, and climbed the stairs. As she went, she could hear Kelly whispering to the others: “I bet my story was too scary for her. That’s why she has to go all of a sudden.”
In the years to come, Abby would often think back to this night, and she would curse herself for not seeing the warning signs. The first thing she should have noticed, as she walked down the hall, was the night light right outside the bathroom. As she got near it, it buzzed and flickered wildly, creating a dizzying orange strobe effect. But Abby barely noticed; the house was old, and the wiring was less than reliable. The second thing she should have noticed, as she closed the bathroom door, was the noise. A low, groaning whisper seemed to come from behind the walls. It was the same collection of sounds, repeated over and over: Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Again, Abby ignored this. The pipes in the house made a lot of weird noises in the dead of night, and the wind was really howling outside. It was surely just a breeze blowing around the house that made it sound like whispering. The third thing she should have noticed, as she sat down, was how cold it got. The toilet seat felt like it was made of ice, and Abby felt a shiver run up her entire body. Her teeth chattered and she had to tuck her hands under her arms for warmth. But still, she put this down to the house. Her parents had often complained of a distinct draught in this part of the house, and the heating was completely knackered. As she flushed and went to wash her hands, Abby assured herself that the night of ghost stories, bad weather, and spooky TV was simply starting to play tricks on her. There was nothing lurking in the shadows waiting to grab her. Besides, she had other things on her mind: she knew a thousand ghost stories by heart, but she still had to pick one that would scare the hell out of her friends. Bloody hook on the door handle? Too obvious. Caller inside the house? Way overdone. Killer... in the... back... car... seat...? Suddenly, the room tilted dangerously. Abby’s legs went numb and she grabbed the vanity to keep herself from falling. With hands and a head that were suddenly made of lead, she turned off the water and pulled herself back up. She tried to yawn but closed her mouth as soon as she opened it. She wanted to throw up all of a sudden, and opening her mouth would surely break the seal. Abby looked in the mirror to see if she could see what was wrong. But what she saw looking back at her was more wrong than anything she could have dreamed. There was no Abby and no bathroom on the other side of the mirror. There was instead a large, decrepit hospital room with cracked tiles in pale white and snotty green. Rusty, leaking pipes snaked up drab concrete pillars to a ceiling fifty feet high. The walls were covered in rows upon rows of strange sigils and pictograms like Abby had never seen. In the center of the room was an obsidian altar measuring twelve feet by seven. There were no tool marks on its smooth surfaces, and it looked as though nature itself had constructed it that way. And then she heard the chanting. It was a low, guttural sound, a canid growl with a serpentine back beat. And it was the same odd collection of non-words that she had chalked up to the whispers of the wind not two minutes ago: “Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi.” The chanting seemed to come from everywhere at once, but the room was empty. And then it wasn’t. A horde of weird figures in black robes and blood-red hoods marched across the mirror, close enough that Abby thought she could reach out and touch them. Of course, when she tried, all she felt was the smooth glass. Yet still the figures marched, paying Abby no mind. It was as if the mirror had ceased to be a mirror, and had become a window into some dark, unknown dimension beyond time and space. The image changed, and Abby jumped back. The hooded figures were standing in a V-formation, facing her. Thin, luminous bands of coloured light surrounded the figures at the front of the V, and when Abby concentrated on the lights, she could instantly tell what the hooded figures were thinking. They were watching her. They wanted her. She couldn’t see their eyes, or much above their mouths, but one look at those auras and she could feel their eyes boring into her. They were still chanting that horrible chant in perfect unison, but lower this time. The words came in a hoarse, whispering chorus. “Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi. Kha’al Azna’ghal ixxi.” At the very point of the V, one figure was not chanting. His robes were not like the rest, either: rather than black, he wore brilliant white, with gold accents at the collar and sleeves, and a hood of deepest purple. Abby looked past the figure to his black-and-green aura and her eyes read it like a barcode. In the image centers of her brain, she saw a large serpent, the size of a city bus, with the snarling head of an alpha male lion and two gargantuan, veiny bat-like wings on its back. The aura whispered to Abby that this lion-snake creature was the white-robed figure, with all his coverings removed, and that he was in charge. And he was called the Deacon. Abby didn’t know where these people had come from or why they were so interested in her. She didn’t know how she instinctively knew so much about them, things that she didn’t want to know. She just wanted to get out of here. She backed up, flat against the shower door, and the Deacon started to speak. Abby decided she’d liked the Deacon better when he was just staring at her. Every sound he made pierced the air like a gunshot, even though he barely spoke above a whisper. The words he spoke made no sense to Abby, but his followers obviously understood perfectly. “Ko kxx grav ak ra sytqa lach, Kha’ell Ag’haz lekxxo tov godaj-xu. Ek rataz haec Godaj-pael, ek-eli karnu godaju izot ynhash allac cymhael li tazhael. Paka ko sidit karnu.” As the Deacon spoke, the hooded figures stared even more intently at Abby. Slowly, they began to chant again, but a different chant this time. “Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx.” Abby knew she had to get away from here. More than anything she wanted to run, to scream for help, but her legs were paralyzed and her mouth refused to make any sound beyond a small, terrified squeak. The Deacon raised his hand, and the chant grew louder, faster. “Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx.” The hooded figures were working themselves into a frenzy, though they remained stock-still. Their auras intensified, and Abby could see in their deepest hearts the monsters they really were. Hybrids of humanity and cetacean, baying hounds with too many eyes, goat-legged monstrosities with tentacles falling out of their mouths. Every one had a monster in its core, like the Deacon and his lion-snake, and the monsters were rabidly excited. “Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx. Ka ag’haz dul kxx.” Abby’s heart was pounding. The hooded figures followed the Deacon’s example and raised their hands, trying to reach for her. The chanting was still getting louder and faster. “KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX!” And then the impossible happened. The glass separating Abby from this terrifying spectacle dissolved, and the Deacon glided forward like a phantom. His hand reached out of the mirror. Abby started to cry. Her heart jackhammered against her breastbone and the sweat poured off her like a waterfall. A voice inside her head was screaming, RUN! Open this door and RUN! But she knew she couldn’t. Her whole body was shaking, and she couldn’t get it under control long enough to take two steps in any direction. “KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX! KA AG’HAZ DUL KXX!” The voice in her head continued: If you can’t run, then scream. Cry, yell, bang on the door, just get somebody’s attention! Just do something, anything, that will help you GET! OUT! OF! HERE! And then the Deacon spoke again. But this time, Abby understood what he was saying. “Abigail. Abigail... Henderson...” He knew her name. Dear God, he knew her name. How did he know her name? Suddenly, Abby found her voice again. And she screamed.
Her friends heard her from downstairs, and they all jumped to their feet as Abby came sprinting out of the bathroom, still screaming blue murder. She so badly wanted to get away from the Deacon that she completely forgot about the stairs. When she reached the end of the second-floor hallway, she turned and took another step, but her foot dropped into empty space. As her whole body pitched forward, Abby realized her mistake two seconds too late. Crash. Bang. Thud. Smash. Boom. Smack. Bump. Whack. Thwack. Crash. Bang. Thud. CRACK. Abby’s friends were speechless as they gathered at the bottom of the stairs, huddling around her limp, pale body. She was covered in scrapes and reddish bruises and one of her wrists was bent the wrong way around. Terrified, Kelly bent down to check on her friend and then shouted upstairs: “MRS. HENDERSON!”
Samuel Thomas Fraser is a writer and actor from the rainy mountains of Vancouver, BC, Canada. A lover of medieval literature and truly weird fiction, Sam holds a BA in English and a Certificate in Creative Writing from Simon Fraser University. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in outlets including The Macabre Museum and Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies Vol. 1. As a performer, he has inhabited such memorable stage roles as Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest and Charlie Cowell in The Music Man. Abby Normal is his first novel.
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