That Face

His eyes fluttered open and then immediately slammed shut again. Screwed tight against the light that screamed at him through the window. The damned nurse must have opened the blinds again. He fumbled for the button box that controlled them but came up empty. He must have knocked it off the bed in his sleep. With the brace on his leg getting up was problematic at best. There was a low muttering sound coming from somewhere. They must have turned the television on television as well. He rolled his head away from the window. That’s where the face was.

The face, leaned close, hair neatly swept back and all smiles. It was attached to a lab coat and a blue paisley tie, with an ID on a lanyard that didn’t match that face. It was sitting on the back of a chair, with pink high topped sneakers planted on the seat cushion; bent at the knees that its elbows rested on, both hands up to let that face rest on them. The smile didn’t show teeth, but it was quite clear that teeth were an option. That face again. He knew it was going to turn up sooner or later, he had just hoped it would have stayed away a little longer

He reached again for the remote, to press the call button. But, the face reached down and lifted it by the wire that trailed from the bed, dangling it.

‘Here you go Guy, I think you dropped this,’ The face said offering it to him.

Guy took it from him and decided not to bother the nurses, He was pretty sure they weren’t qualified to deal with the likes of him, not in this ward anyway.

‘You got yourself all banged up on that last one, didn’t you? Took us a while to figure out which quackery you ended up at.’

‘I got hit by a car.’ It hadn’t been that bad, just some bruises and a torn meniscus but, he had faked a head injury to get them to keep him for a while. It would only be a few more days they’d be willing to keep him here.

‘Mama always told you to look both ways before fleeing a crime scene didn’t she?’

‘I guess she did’

‘Where is it?’

‘Safe, it should be until I get out of here.’

‘Cut the crap Guy. Where is it?’

‘I said it’s safe. It’s as safe as I am. How safe is that Jacob?’

‘You wound me my friend,’ protested the smile, ‘You know I’d never hurt you. I like you to much.’

It was probably true, for some unknown reason Jacob had some weird, psycho, guardian angel complex toward him. It was a shame that Jacob wasn’t the only one he had to worry about.

‘Look, it’s safe. Tell them that for me,’ Guy relaxed a little, ‘Tell them I can recover it as soon as I get out of here.’

Jacob’s smile flattened out on one side. It always did that when he was weighing his options. He oozed off the back of the chair and stood beside it. ‘Alright, when you get out then,’ he said finally, ‘that’s fair enough. He stood there for a few more moments and gave a short nod before turning around and walking out of the room.

The door made a quiet click when as it shut and Guy took a deep breath. Talking to Jacob had always been unsettling, the doctor’s coat didn’t help. He’d wait until after they served breakfast and then start insisting on a discharge. Hopefully he could find away to leave the hospital without being noticed. He wasn’t sure how long he had before Jacob came back.

Then it dawned on him. Jacob didn’t say goodbye. Jacob never left without saying goodbye.

He sat bolt up and started to inch himself off the bed. His foot had just touched the floor when the door flew open. In came a wheel chair being pushed by that smiling face.

‘Good news Sunshine! You’ve got a clean bill of health, time to go home.”

Trash Day

They were lined up before dawn again at that old, white house today. The desperate ones, that didn’t ration themselves out quite right and wind up milling around the street waiting for the morning delivery. The sun’s come up on the avenue. Now some old addict walks, bent near sideways, holding broken glasses tight to his face. He’s looking too casual as he searches. For the odd, stray pill dropped on the asphalt or maybe the lawn. I don’t think he notices as I pass him on my way home from the run down park where the bus picks the kids up for school.

They don’t bother me much most days, except when their memory gets fuzzy and forget that they’re not supposed to come up in my yard.

It’s more likely they’ll get violent with each other than with anyone else. Usual only ever gets as far as them yelling about who owes who what money, or who took that last dose. They all owe each other something it seems. Most days they keep it low key. They have to, or Big Tattoo will run ‘em off.

Too much noise is bad for business I guess.

The cops? They all know what’s going on here. They know about all the other houses in the neighborhood just like it. They’re not going to do a god damned thing either, not unless someone calls in a complaint. When that happens, they’ll probably just tell you that “It’s under investigation” and push some papers around the office. 

Who are they going to arrest anyway? No big busts to be had here, no feathers in a cap. None of the knuckle heads are ever have the stuff on them for too. No big stash is kept there. Operation’s supplied by a system of small timers and junkies on rusted out bikes; they do all the leg work. Some young punk with a voice like sandpaper runs the business end, and Big Tattoo keeps them all in line. Pretty sure the kids hanging out at the end of the street are lookouts. Ready to make that call, warning them every time a cruiser heads their way.

It’s not even their house. They just sling their shit off the front porch.

Place belongs to some poor old guy in his seventies. They offered him a cut at first. Social security wasn’t quite making ends meet, so why the hell not? It was just a little weed when it started. He probably should have seen it coming. Maybe he did. Hard to say, old fool is so drunk most of the time no one can really understand him. I can hear the fear though, when he mumbles at the night about how it’s his house. The sadness when he mutters about not seeing any money from them.

And they all know me and, they all know where I live. This is the nicest part of town we’ve lived in for years.

My bad knee creeks as I walk up stairs. Groaning when I realize, I have to make another trip down with the garbage.

It’s trash day, and it’s all gotta go down to the curb.

Portal Dread

He stared at the open door with sickening dread. Had he been robbed? Had the landlord shown up?  He nervously approached the yawning frame. No, he had been careless, left it open. Peering inside there was only darkness. He had let it out.  A wren lay, pristine and bloodless, one wing spread open across the threshold. A sign, he knew what it meant.  The bird was just the first. Now it was loose in the world.  It was his fault. He went next door and knocked gingerly.

“Hey Tom.”

“Hi Sarah, have you seen my cat? She’s gotten loose again.”

On That Hallowed Night

Based on a true story…

Sheltered from street view and behind the gate leads a path. To the old water oak, that tonight displays the sign of the hanged man; upside down, arms spread, insisting a choice be made. The paving stones to the house or up the hill back to the world.

Downward on the  path to the threshold a spiked necked mongrel stands guard. A token gift promises safe passage, one way at least. Mirrors in the vestibule shine back candlelight and shows faces adorned, and not quite real.

In the main hall, guests all sit, passive, their frozen faces painted in gruesome display, staring at the black robed man paces in the prison he has painted on the floor. Spiraling in towards the tome laid open on the floor. The last few are seated around. The lights are dimmed, leaving only candle flame and an odd glow from runes on the floor.

A harlequin in domino, visage of smiling death, bells tinkling, nods and the droning pipes begin. A low, steady rhythm that can be felt in the bones. From a dark corner the jinn motions his hands and draws unearthly percussive notes from the air, as if some invisible organ plays them. A rabbit faced woman begins to pluck the strings of her long necked and alien instrument. The flock inhales as one gaping mouth. The black clad magus begins to read aloud from his book of blasphemies.

His voice his raspy and unsteady, near stumbles through the words. Fearful of a misspoke syllable that might displease his host. Gaining speed and courage as the work flows through him, out of him and into the ears of this singular night. He finds the pace amidst the subtle changes of the pipers drone. His voice touches the notes of the composer and melody driven by the strings. Together they weave the call. From an open door the damp smell of new fog drifts in from the world outside. In his strange words he sings of the worlds both old and new. Intones things beyond his vision. He dances in his circle and calls them, asks them, begs them, to draw nearer. To hear him, to see him, to wrap their arms about him. To love him, as he has always loved them. He makes flowing gestures with his arms and implores them to be here on this sacred night. He makes them the ancient promise in unknown words, and it is done.

The pipes, the music, his voice all stop without warning or cue.

The flock exhales. They look at each other oddly. Unsure of what they witnessed, or of what to next. A few moments of awkward glances, the rise and mill about. When they are certain there is no more to be done they slowly, in small groups walk out to the yard to make what can be from the rest of this special night.

The magus turns towards his fellows and smiles. Outside there is a sharp, inhuman  roar, followed by all too human cries of fear. He shrugs as he looks out the window to the scene on the lawn. The guitarist joins him raising her mask. Wondering how she was going to get all this crap unstuck from her instrument.

It had been a good turn out for the night. The show went well, except maybe some of the party guests had eaten a few to many of those brownies. The mystic symbols in the glow in the dark paint, under the black light had been a nice touch. Too bad that asshole in the Leatherface mask was chasing people around with his chainsaw now.

“Who the fuck invited that guy?”

“That’s Josh.” The skull faced jester said setting his didgeridoo aside.

The vocalist adjusted the robe, “What a douche.”

“We already knew that. Fuck it dude, it’s Halloween, let him have his fun.”

“I guess you’re right.”

Angel Tears

Down into the tunnels he went, amid the damp, fecal smell of the sewer drains. That’s where she lived. Where he kept her. It had been four years since he had found her. A beautiful, and broken thing. Fragile and, beaten and, violated. Yet, even in anguish, that voice was the most glorious song.

He brought her here, to the waste of what they called civilization. Brought her food, tended her wounds. Slowly nursed her back to health. Kept her safe. Kept her for himself. Hidden from the others who wanted to steal her song.

Such a lovely, painful song.

Sentinal

Ellis Durant was crouched on the ledge, looking down at the dark blue sedan parked in front of the warehouse.. It was a slightly older model Taurus, kept clean. It was in good repair. He could barely tell the engine was running. He knew Jerry was behind the wheel, waiting. A few floors below him, in a vacant office was a man, he was also looking at the sedan. He was also waiting. Ellis could just see the tip of the rifle’s barrel sticking out the window, pointed at the driver side roof. He turned his head slightly to see the unkempt figure behind him.

He was younger than Ellis, but shared the same impassive, grey faced expression. The same rough cut muscular build. He wore jeans and a black hooded sweat jacket, the zipper open, with no shirt beneath it. Ellis motioned downwards with his index finger and his feral looking companion nodded and walked quietly toward the stairwell door. If things went badly, they would take the man with the rifle back to Mr. Davis. This would probably happen too late to prevent Jerry being killed. He hoped thing would turn out well for Jerry today. He liked Jerry, but guarding his life was not why he was here. Not that it mattered. Today, tomorrow it was going to end the same way. It always did, it was just a matter of when, and who. Then there was the why.

Ellis didn’t bother with why. The priests had always said that everything happens for a reason, all part of the divine pan. Ellis had taken to this notion quite well. If it all came down to divine reasonings, then reasons didn’t matter. People lived, events happened, people died. If you eliminated the whole question of why everything else was simple to deal with. He had often marvelled at mankinds need for whys, they so seldom got around to figuring out the hows. when he talked to the Cardinal about this he didn’t pretend to have a thoughtful response. Ellis remembered thinking this was one of the few points in the man’s favor. Being up on this roof, watching, waiting, made him mis his days with the church. The days of guardianship over that cathedral were a lifetime ago, at least one at any rate.. He and his band were proud of themselves once. “Before the whole world went to shit.” as Mr. Davis would say.Now they had to settle for being something between a spies and a babysitters. Still, everything happened for a reason; and, even if that weren’t true, everything still happened. At least he had today to be out in the sun and the wind.

People began to come out of the warehouse. First one man, then the other holding the door. Then, Ellis’s eyes widened slightly. He could not believe what he saw. It wasn’t possible. The thing that walked arm in arm with the man to the car, should not be here. she was supposed to be dead. Dead and a world away.

The blue sedan lurched forward slightly then smoothly pulled out, and drove away.

No wonder, Mr. Davis did not want Baba’s name spoken. She was The Baba. After all this time, she had come back to the world.

This scene is the 16th in the series “The Untitled Thing” The rest of the story is indexed here.

The Pick-up

Jerry sat in the car parked outside the warehouse, engine idling, struggling to keep his eyes open. He was sure he fell asleep at some point each night but, he could barely tell. He would be laying in bed  each evening in, his alarm  sounded and it was morning again. The time between just gone, blank, devoid of either rest or dreams. What he really found draining right now, however, was how monumentally boring the waiting was. He began to think the reason why Maslow’s guys all smoked was just to pass the time.

He reached down to the console for his coffee, the cup now half empty and cold. This was supposed to be a simple pick up. Something in a shipment, something hidden from customs, was delivered to the warehouse. Jerry didn’t know what it was but it had to be small enough for Victor and Joseph to carry it out themselves. Drugs, jewels, art, the people who dealt with Maslow had diverse tastes. Somewhere, high up, Jacob would be looking at the car, just in case something went wrong. In case Jerry couldn’t be trusted. He was fairly certain there was a rifle involved. It didn’t worry him, just more of Peter’s over zealousness when it came to planing. Betrayal wasn’t part of his job at the moment.

The more he thought about it the less sure what is job actually was in all this. He began to wonder what was taking the other two so long. This thing should be pretty straight forward. The warehouse was friendly. Peter said he got the call confirming the package was delivered earlier today. What if someone else had gotten turned? Working for someone else? One of the warehouse employees, one of Maslow’s people?

Suddenly Jerry could feel the cross hairs weighing on him. He wanted to throw the car in gear and take off. He knew that was the worst decision. If he wanted to get through this he had to ride it out. He just had to wait. He breathed out slowly.

Glancing into the rear view he saw the door to the warehouse open. Joseph stepped out and walked to the rear passenger side door of the sedan. He just stood there. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at Jerry he just watched the door he had just come out of.

A long minute later Victor emerged. He held the door for an older woman in a business suit and dark green sunglasses; hair graying probably in her fifties. Victor took her arm as the door closed behind them. They walked towards the car. Every step she took seemed thought out, purposeful.

Joseph opened the door of the car and the woman entered the vehicle. Victor stepped around to the other side and got in. Joseph closed the door behind the woman then stepped into the front passenger side. They sat for a moment in silence.

The others began to have a quick paced conversation in Russian. Jerry struggled to understand at the speed they talked. He was able to figure out they were discussing his credentials. He just stared forward and pretended not to listen.

“Your name is Jerry?” the woman asked with a slight accent.

“That’s right ma’am.” Jerry looked at her in the mirror, his gaze reflected in her sunglasses. His head began to ache slightly.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No ma’am.” The dull ache in his head seemed sharper now, almost piercing.

“I am Liliya. They,” she waved her hand around the car indicating the two other men, “they call me Baba. For you, ma’am will do for now.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good, you will take me to see my nephew Peter now.”

She turned her head away from him. He felt the pain begin to ease.

Jerry put the car in drive, and headed back to the office.

This scene is 14th in a story currently known as “The Untitled Thing”. The rest of the series is indexed here

The Stuff of Legend

He inhaled, taking in deep the lovely smells of the night. The earthy impending rain, the sweet blooming honeysuckle, the acrid smoke of the campfire, the sharp musk of her sweat. They all lolled around in his nose and mingled with the taste of rotted meat from his last meal , and the fresh bloody gore of this man’s flesh in his teeth. He breathed it all in as he slowly chewed his the meat of his kill. He blinked as he stared up at the moon with large, half blind eyes. He ran his talon across what remained of the throat of the man, brought it up to his wide mouth and licked at it thoughtfully. The flesh will taste better in a day or two. Best to let it cure.

She hadn’t gotten far. He could hear her feet plodding the soft damp ground, she was trying to skirt the edge of the water. She’d make better time if she swam. There were alligators to be sure, but eaten was eaten. The reptiles would at least give her a fairer chance. He rose up from his haunches, scraping a stubborn piece of meat from under a claw.

She was young, but they all were to him.  She was afraid, he could only guess how terrifying he appeared to her. His heart began to pound, they always ran from him. The anticipation of the chase excited him. He heard her trip, likely on a cypress knee, letting out a short scream as her hair was pulled by a low hanging branch. She splashed in the shallow brackish swamp, trying to get her feet.

He preferred the women, they were smarter, they ran. The men were dumb, they tried to put a fight too early. He had nearly been killed only three times in his life, each time by a woman. Always after the chase. After their blood had flowed, after the fear and exhaustion had done their work. Long after reason and sanity had left. That is when the fight mattered, when it was all they had left. That is why the women always tasted so much better when they were fresh.

He pushed off from a nearby tree and began his silent loping run. He always loved the chase. She would take the high path back to the car.

He cut into the thickets of reeds, ran across the fallen tree spanning the narrow end of the swamp. He leapt up onto the high embankment, and reached the bend in the trail. He crouched and waited.

She came, breathing hard, scrabbling for a hold on the step-like roots of the eroded path. Closer, she couldn’t even tell that she was crying. Tears of panic leaving streaks down her muddy face.

Closer, his heart beat louder, blood pounding in his ears. His excitement mounted.

Too soon he reached out for her arm as she climbed the path. She screamed, and slid back down. Landed on her back. He jumped down to where she lay, landing astride her. He bent forward, jagged claws reaching for her throat.

There was a hot pressure, cold pain, warm blood.

A stone perhaps a log. Something heavy had been in her hand when she swung. He was off-balance. She manged to kick him off her. On her feet quickly, running leaps up the trail. He slowly pushed himself back up. He stretch his jaw feeling it fall back in place with a click that echoed in his skull. He spit a broken tooth, tasting his own blood.

She was running again, harder now. She was hurt, bleeding now. Her hand, where she struck him.

Shaking himself back to sense he set off again. Ducking under branches, pushing aside tall grasses, and thorned vines he cut a way towards the lot. She would still try to reach the car, that was escape in her mind. She was deep in the fear now, past the panic. She had shown that now, razor focus only on escape, safety. One thing mattered, life.

This was life for him. This is all that was, just the chase.

He reached the clearing where visitors to this preserve leave their vehicles while the walked the trails. She was just coming off the trail, running full speed towards the large truck parked there. He ambled in to the moonlight. She didn’t look, but she saw him. Her chest heaved with every step. He could almost hear the excitement of hope in her breathing. He began to run. The closer she got to the vehicle, the faster he chased. He could hear both their hearts beating, reaching the same tempo of excitement.

She reached out for the door.

He reached out for her.

She stepped sideways and threw the door open. It struck his arm as he tried to grab her. He spun around fully and reached again. She dove into the cab of the truck. His claws sank into her leg. Her heartbeat was deafening as he pulled her out and turned her to face him. This was life. This was how the chase ended.

A click, and a thunderous bang.

Another shot rang from the revolver. His breath left him. He lost his grip. Again she fired the gun.

The door slammed, tires skidded in the packed dirt of the lot.

Rain began to fall on his body. He coughed blood onto the ground.

This was how the chase ended.

It had been ages since one had escaped. Others would come, to search the swamp, for the dead man, for him. It didn’t matter.

He would hide in the swamp. The man would provide meat for a time. Then he would sleep, he didn’t know for how long. In the time they would stop believing. Soon enough no one would remember the exact name of the woman who got away from him, or when it happened. Her story and her description of him would blend with the other tales through time. People would forget again.

He would slip back to being just the stuff of legend.

 

Iron Circle

It had been quiet day so far, he thought as he pulled up to the former pizza joint to see Aunt Bea.

The old witch had opened the place years ago, no one knew back then.  Gray hair, flowing skirts, Lennon glasses, and healing crystals, everyone just pegged her as some aging flower child when she moved here. She made good pizza though. No one really believed she was a witch except for a few kids who listened to her stories. The ones she told when she’d sit outside the store like she was holding court, over her tall glasses of overly sweetened tea. No one understood the day she changed the sign of her shop.

CBsH823W8AEwt0V

 

Soon after her “sisters” moved to town. After that the rumors started, then news reports, then the blackouts. No one wanted to believe, but now they had to. The Fey had returned to earth.

The hear Aunt Bea and her sisterhood tell it, those modern Wiccan types got it wrong. The root of witchcraft wasn’t so much the worship of nature or the fairies and their kind. The spells, the charms, the herbs all of it meant to placate the their king and to keep them sedated and pacified, safely away from our world. Centuries of inquisition, and witch trials decimated the keepers of that part of the lore. Time  and the frailty of human memory did the rest. When she would get in one of her moods she would mutter about blood. How girls these days were too squeamish about the blood. According to Bea, it always came to the blood sooner or later.

The news brought by the thin, steady trickle of refugees fleeing from the cities and towns sounded like mad tales, invented by trauma stricken minds. No one wanted to believe their stories of chaos and bloodshed. Now, Oberon led his armies across the world. They wanted their blood and would take it as they liked. Those who stood against them were cut down by ancient eldritch weaponry. Those who ran were left for the huntsmen, most every night you could hear their packs howling with savage glee.

When the fairy king finally turned his armies in their direction people on the outskirts of town took the worst of it. Even after hearing the horror stories of survivors, after Aunt Bea called for everyone to move to the center of town; some fools stood both in defiance and disbelief as waves of goblins and boogeymen were driven forward and over them by beautifully radiant men and women who rode upon gaunt specter like horses. Panic soon took over as bullets and weapons seemed to do little to stop the marching host. The Fey continued  forward, setting buildings ablaze, strange grey men in red coats would prowl the carnage feasting on the bone and blood, of both living and dead. People fled to the sisters, begging for help. The three women stood in the center of town, hands joined, eyes closed. At their feet was a brass bowl. It was filled with blood.

They lifted their heads and screamed.

The Fey screamed. They howled, as they piled up behind one another unable to stop their advance as they seemed to march into an invisible wall. They roared and shrieked as if they we burned. There was a great flash of light, then silence.

The brass bowl was empty. The Fey had retreated, vanished.

The lucky ones, who made it into the town were saved.

The sisters had picked that little town because back in the eighteen hundreds, right after the civil war a would be rail baron decided to make it his home, there was a silver mine, a boom, then a bust. After that there wasn’t much left to see. But, the old baron’s legacy remained a wide circle of railroad track, wrought iron was still there, buried under the streets and building foundations. The Fey found it nearly unbearable to cross such a line. The sisters workings kept them further at bay most days.  Aunt Bea says there’s more than likely others who found away to get by, to drive back some. Others who knew how to hurt them. One day we might find out for sure.

When they asked her where the armies were, where the nukes were. How did the government let this happen? Why didn’t the sisters do anything to stop it?

She tells them that their leaders were probably the first to go, replaced by changelings months before it all started, the sidhe aren’t stupid. The armies used lead and steel and fire, they weren’t any real use, not without iron and magic. Bea said, they should just count themselves grateful that Oberon is too stubborn and too bloodthirsty to use them; besides he wants this world for himself. And, as for doing something? What could be done, their warnings fell on deaf ears. Best could be done was saving who they could.

She never bothered to change the sign.

Not like things were about to change anytime soon. The old wood ovens still fired but they hadn’t produced a pizza in months. Now the days are filled with tending to little rooftop gardens or sneaking out of their small iron ring of safety to find food and other supplies. Their nights are spent huddled together telling old stories and, marking runes on rifle slugs or filling shotgun shells with shrapnel made from what scrap iron they could scrounge. In the space in between they tried to live.

As he reached for the door the old hand cranked siren on engine company number two began to moan it’s sad warning. Letting all know to prepare themselves. Fey had been spotted off to the east. He turned back to his car and drove to the clock tower to take his perch with the others. The rest of the afternoon would most likely spent looking through a rifle scope, waiting.

And it had been such a quiet day.

This was written for a Flash Fiction Challenge, hosted by Chuck Wendig at his blog Terribleminds. You can find some damn fine stories over there.

Coffee Talk

The cafe was situated on a quiet side street, away from the noise and smoke of heavy traffic. Its outdoor seating area was a large plaza surrounded by small little boutiques filled with mid-scale clothing and jewelry. There was of course a head shop operating under the label of a tobacconist. They weren’t fooling anyone, no one really smoked cigarettes anymore. Casual nihilism was loosing its charm.

Janice used to frequent a shop like this when she was younger. She and her little covey of friends used to meet there and act all artsy and tragic. Sipping coffee like it was wine, scrawling in little notebooks and sketch pads, and generally discussing life as if they had unraveled some deep spiritual mystery. She would bet even money that inside the shop there would be a little shelf full of board games, all of them missing pieces. She let herself smile for a moment, remember her life as a teenager. The smile quickly vanished when she spotted the person that she was here to meet.

“Is this going to take long?” she asked taking the seat across from the old man, “I do really despise our little encounters.”

“Don’t worry sweetie, I’ll try not to take up too much of your time.” Davis checked his watch, tapping on the glass covering its dial a couple of times. “I got a full schedule myself. Where is he now?”

“I thought you had your gargoyles keeping tabs on him.”

“They don’t like bein called that. At any rate, you’re the one sitting in front of me, not Ellis. You look like you need an espresso. Let me get you an espresso,” he waved his hand to attract the waiter, “and maybe a biscotti. You look like you could use a somethin to eat.”

“I’m fine,” she said. “Jerry’s at work right now, I’m meeting him for lunch in about an hour.”

“Two espresso and biscotti. Don’t worry I’ll try not to make you late. You’re gonna love the biscotti here, They got it right, just almonds and anise. Beautiful, simple.”

“Get to the point Davis. Did you want to see me for some reason pertaining to my work, or are we having this meeting solely so you can be irritating to me socially?”

“Jerry needs to forget about me.”

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, No.”

“I don’t think you understand the terms of your employment. You remember where we found you, right?”

“First, I wouldn’t call this situation I am in employment. Second you are done defining the terms.” She paused, smiling politely at the waiter while he placed the coffees in front of them. “I have a carefully designed serum that is already suppressing large portions of his memory; it would take months to alter it any further, especially to remove something as specific as a single person. Beyond that it would be dangerous to him.”

“I am more concerned with the success of this operation than his safety. You and I both know this kids basically a walking corpse as it is. Let’s also remember that your continued safety is tied into the success or failure of this endeavor. So, let me say it again, I want him to forget about me. I’m not asking you this Janice, I’m telling you what’s going to happen.”

She pushed the little cup and saucer away from her and leaned in to meet the gaze of the man across the table. “I heard you the first time. I said no. Not only is it dangerous, it is unnecessary. Your association with him is already pretty weak at this point so in another week or two there will be no practical sympathetic link back to you. You will be safe. He won’t be, but that that’s not what matters to you. If you insist that I jeopardize his sanity because you are feeling insecure about the plans you set in motion, I am going to walk away from the whole thing.” She leaned back in her chair. “Now would like to  threaten me with what ever you think you have on me. Go ahead, I’ll wait.”

Davis glared at her.

“You’re done? Good. Let me be clear about this. We both know, if anything happens to me your whole operation falls apart. If Jerry stops treatment, he’ll start remembering his old life again. Unless you want a repeat of that little episode we had two months ago I suggest you don’t push me too far.

The old man smiled at her. “Okay, Have it your way. After all, when it comes to fuckin with people’s minds, you”re the expert. If you say everything’ll be fine, I’ll believe you.”

“Glad you see it that way.” She stood up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me I have a lunch appointment.”

You really like the kid don’t you?”

“Not really, he’s quite boring to be around actually. I just have too much pride in my skills to let someone else take care of him. That, and treating him provides the occasional opportunity to annoy you.”

This scene is part of an ongoing work. The rest of series can be found here.