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 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.

 

Acciddents Happen

And so, due to a episode of spastic incompetence on my part,  I managed to push the wrong  friggin button and accidentally post the piece of fiction that I planned on publishing this day two days ago. I thought I was just saving it as a draft. Instead it went out unfinished, and unedited, and unnoticed by me until morning. A simple mistake, one that I could easily prevent in the future, I probably won’t though.

Anyway even though it annoyed me to no end I decided to just leave it and just let it ride. Unfortunately it is part of a serial(ish) and I had to double check some continuity issues, and while I had it up on the blocks I went back and did some work on it and I’m a little happier about the situation. That particular scene, Coffee Talk can be found here.

If you’ve already read that part the index for the rest of the serial is here.

If you’re already caught up, or don’t give a crap, and still want want some thing else to read there’s always the library.

Or you can check out Catastrophe Jones’ latest serial DeathWatch over at her site. I Finally caught up with it and highly recommend it.

In the meantime I’m just going to go binge watch Daredevil. I’ll see you on Monday.

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.

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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.

Day Planner

He sat slumped on the office couch, staring out at space, slightly trembling hands shaking lightly clasping at a half-drank Redbull.

“Jerry? Jesus Jerry, you still with us?”

“What?” He shook himself back to the world, “Yeah sorry Pete must’ve just drifted off for a minute.”

“You look like shit man. You feeling ok? You ain’t doing drugs are you?”

Jerry let out a thin exhausted little laugh. “No Pete, nothing that much fun, not since college at any rate.” He shifted himself back to a sitting position. “Just been having a rough time sleeping lately, can’t seem to stay down at night.”

“Well just try and keep up, we only got a little bit more to go over.” Pete turned back to dry erase board.

Jerry watched him walk back across the room. It wasn’t that Peter Maslow was necessarily a bad person, it wasn’t even that he was a stupid person. He was just grew up with people not expecting too much from him; now that they did he really let it get to him, he overcompensated. This was the fourth time they were going over his carefully, thought out, bulleted list of equipment, and his ridiculously ordered time table. It was all he could do keep his eyes open while a telescoping pointer drifted repetitively across a diagram of a rather unremarkable intersection. The other men in the room seemed to just sit with humored impatience.

They were the real talent here. the specialists of the organization. They’d been working together for years, some of them had known Pete when he was just the boss’s son. Now the boss was dead, and  the bigger fish up the line were letting the kid run the show for the time being; because that’s how it was always done. They listened as Peter droned over his plan again and again knowing that when the time came, they’d have their own plan to follow.

This was a comforting thought to Jerry.

“Jerry, you paying attention?”

It didn’t matter they’d been over it enough and his end was the easy part. “I wait in the car til Joseph and Victor get back from the pick up. Been a while since I’ve been a wheel man but, I think I got it.” Jerry let a smirk creep over his face  “The gas pedal still the skinny thing on the right, or did we change that?”

The rest of the guys started to chuckle but saw Pete’s look of annoyance.

“Alright,” he said, “that’s enough for tonight. You guys go get something to eat.”

Jerry could tell that was not directed at him. He waited patiently for the managerial talk that was sure to follow as the other gentlemen left the room.

“Look Jerr, I know this kind of job is old hat to you but, this thing it means a lot to me. I’ve been under a lot of scrutiny, you know how it is. The new kid handed they keys to the corner office. I know I seem uptight about this but, I got a lot to prove.” he poured a couple of drinks from the decanter on the credenza,  “Look, we got someone big in the organization coming in soon, and lets just say my transition into management hasn’t gone as smooth as I’d like. ” He handed one of the glasses to Jerry. “You, well from what we hear you’re good at what you do. Despite that, until I get the go ahead with my bosses I got to ease you into the job. When you look at you got a lot riding on this too.”

“I got you Pete, I really do,” he waved his glass casually at Peter,  “sorry about that little joke. Just, everyone’s tired and tense, and we’re all anxious to just get the job done. I really do want to get back to work. ”

“Well you got your wish then. The date’s set, we move on Teusday.” Pete fished in his pocket for his cigarette case. “Just do me a favor Jerr, get some rest.

Jerry rubbed his neck. “I’ll sure as hell try, so long as you do something for me.”

“Sure thing.”

“Stop calling me Jerr,” he smiled, “it’s bugging the shit out of me.”

“Try and take this seriously Jerry. I’ll hook you up with my doctor, he’ll give you something to help you sleep”

This scene is the 13th in a series. The rest of the story is indexed here.

Professional Discourse

This week I am once again participating in Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge. This time he has asked for us to write as profanely as possible. Well that’s not exactly what he asked for but that’s what he’s getting from me. Sufficed to say some people may wish to read something else.

Continue reading

Status Update

Ellis Durant entered the suite and walked along the only path not cluttered by the entropy that had taken over in the two weeks since he had last visited. He looked around at the empty take-out boxes, stacks of photographs and reports that he had sent over, the random placement of magazines most of them laying open and face down. There was a pattern here. There was always a pattern

As he walked, he looked. He was observant. It’s what he lived for. To observe, to watch, to see. Sometimes you had to see what wasn’t there. There was always a pattern.

There were no clothes. All this chaos and there were no dirty clothes strewn about. Ellis blinked. The clothes would all be found neatly folded in drawers or hung in the wardrobe, each hanger facing the same way. The laundry stored neatly in a hamper, waiting for the service to come pick them up.

The mess was window dressing. An elaborate prop.

Sometimes the pattern was a lie.

Ellis came to a stop behind his employer, who was standing at a purposely cluttered counter fixing a drink.

“How’s our boy?” The older man dropped a handful of ice cubes into a glass, and poured the amber liquid over them before turning to receive his answer

“Tired,” the gray faced man replied flatly, “and nervous. He does not like it that you do not return his calls”

“Can’t do it, you know that.” He swirled his drink, watching the ice spin for a moment “I can’t have any direct contact with him at this stage.”

“So you have said.”

“You don’t believe me?” The old man took a long sip off his drink. “I’ll have to say I’m a little hurt by that.”

“To be clear Mr. Davis, I do not see my beliefs, or your feelings needing to enter into this.”

Davis smiled broadly and patted his shoulder. “You’re a good man Ellis.” He looked his companion over quickly, shrugged and then added, “Well you know what I mean.”

Ellis stared at him, waiting.

Davis turned and topped off his drink. “What has Jerry been up to lately?”

“As planned he has been meeting with Mr. Maslow and his associates. They are thoroughly satisfied with the credentials you have provided him. We have overheard several of them discussing offering our Mr. Standish a position in their organization.”

“What about her?”

“Jerry still spends most of his later evenings in the company of Ms. Karns,” little else on Ellis face besides his mouth moved as he spoke, “they were at his hotel room when I left.”

The older man pinched the bridge of his nose. “I ain’t askin about Janice. I know what they get up to at night, I order it. I mean Maslow’s boss, you know our actual objective. Any word on her.”

“They are certain she is on her way. They do not know when she will arrive. Some think she is already here. The word on her appears to be Baba. They don’t use her real name.”

“Neither should you. Especially, not in my presence.” Davis briefly fiddled with something around his neck, then dropped it back down his shirt. “We clear on that Mr. Durant? You do not speak her name anywhere near me.”

Ellis nodded, “I assume this measure is for security.”

“Yeah, mine. While we’re talkin security, from here on out if Jerry starts trying to discuss me you get him to change the subject, pronto. What about his language studies?”

“He uses the interactive course some. I have been helping him practice. His usage is crude but passable.”

“You speak Russian Ellis?”

The grey man just blinked at him.

Davis shook his head, “Of course you do.”

This Is the 12th installment in a series of scenes that bears the uninspired name The Untitled Thing. The rest of the serial is indexed HERE.

In the Dark

“Are you sure it’s down here?”

“Yes damn it, now be quiet.”

He walked silently behind them through the cold murk, as they argued in whispers.  Walking in circles for hours. Blinding each other with flashlights. Pointing guns at the shadows as they rounded corners. Following every odd noise, spray of blood’ or smear of slime glistening along the wall. Given their haphazard, second-hand knowledge of these forgotten tunnels, they should feel lucky they made it this far. You had to admire professionals.

“You”re sure it’s down here?”

Yes, he thought as he unfurled his claws. Yes, I am here.

This drabble (which by the may now be one of my new favorite words) was written in response to a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds. So you should check that out too.