The caped man opened the bedroom door, letting a rectangle of light shine onto the staircase leading downstairs. He descended the stairs and entered a room barely illuminated by a small table lamp next to a tattered sofa. Traces of pot smoke still lingered in the air as a Led Zeppelin LP played on a stereo turntable. He heard soft moans and observed his captives, all with their hands and feet bound by shackles and chains while lying prone on the thick shag carpet floor. All three were still unconscious. During the evening of pot smoking and beer drinking he had laced their beer with a high dosage of dissolved methaqualone, eventually causing the three musicians to pass out.
The caped man set a leather pouch containing a variety of knives on a coffee table near the sofa before examining his bound captives. From questions asked earlier, he learned that all three were in their early twenties. Two of them were still living at home with their parents while pursuing dreams of becoming rock stars like their heroes in Cream, Grand Funk Railroad, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and a host of other rock acts finding success in this new musical genre. The caped man had recruited the rockstar wannabes easily; finding them in a local nightclub and promising them paying gigs if they formed a band with him. Encouraged by the marijuana he offered in the back of his VW van in the nightclub’s parking lot, and the free beer promised to them back at his house in the country, he drove them all into the Texas countryside to an old two-story house in the middle of nowhere.
The caped man adjusted the hood of his cape over his long hair and unrolled the leather pouch, revealing six knives with jade-studded handles, each in its own pocket inside the pouch. He chose an exoticlooking knife with a curved blade and examined it in the dim light of the room. The knife’s handle had been carved into the shape of a serpent wrapped around a pole, its eyes decorated with small pieces of jade.
The caped man replaced the knife into the pouch and grabbed a stone effigy pipe carved into the shape of an eagle’s head. With a wooden match he fired the substance in the pipe and drew deeply, letting the acrid smoke expand in his lungs until exhaling with a heavy sigh.
One of the musicians, a drummer, was starting to regain consciousness but the caped man seemed unconcerned. He set the pipe next to an ancient-looking stone mortar and pestle sitting on the table. He removed the heavy pestle and examined the contents in the mortar. The stone bowl contained a mixture of tobacco and a very precise amount of a Datura plant root that had been harvested and prepared according to instructions given to him by an American Indian shaman from New Mexico. According to the shaman, ancient sorcerers of Meso-America had been using similar methods for thousands of years in order to contact various plant spirits that offer the user power and protection. The caped man loaded the pipe with the last of the ground tobacco and Datura root remaining in the mortar.
“Hey, man,” the bound drummer slurred, realizing through his drugged stupor that he was shackled with chains. “What’s up?”
The caped man fired the final bowl of Datura. He began to chant something under his breath, ignoring the bound drummer on the floor.
“Get these chains off, man!” the drummer protested. “This ain’t cool!”
The caped man continued his chanting. He was beginning to feel extremely light-headed. He sensed a change in the room.
The bound drummer was starting to panic. “Let me go, man! Come on! I promise I won’t tell anyone!”
The caped man continued chanting for several minutes while the bound drummer’s pleadings had turned into sobs and whimpers.
The caped man suddenly heard a distant buzzing in his ears before a black form seemed to appear from a dark corner of the room. He stopped his chanting. The mass of darkness swirled slowly until morphing into the rough shape of a person. A low rumbling emanated from the black form before the caped man heard a gruff voice in his head: “Why do you call me?”
“For your power,” answered the caped man.
The black form seemed to grunt in reply while hovering in mid-air.
“I offer you life energy,” the caped man said while gesturing to his bound captives on the floor.
“Who you talking to?” the bound drummer cried out. “You nuts or something?”
The caped man removed the serpent-handled knife from the leather pouch and approached the bound drummer on the floor.
“What are you doing?” the bound drummer shouted, his voice full of terror. “Please! Stop!”
One of the other bound musicians was regaining consciousness. He seemed oblivious to what was going on as the drummer screamed and yanked on the chains securing his arms and legs.
The caped man, with knife in hand, lowered himself to straddle his bound captive on the floor. The drummer’s eyes opened wide when the curved blade pierced the soft flesh of his abdomen. His screams sounded like a wild animal as the caped man began working on the drummer’s stomach with the serpent-handled knife blade.
Outside, an owl in a large oak tree began hooting frantically as the inhuman screams coming from inside the house increased in intensity, until ceasing abruptly …