SuperHeros and Asses

This is my weekly writing prompt challenge. It fell short of my 2000 word minimum but I felt that it would get muddled if i added to it. The prompt was the first line:A powerful man has to have powerful enemies, baby girl…

“A powerful man has to have powerful enemies, baby girl.”

“If you ever call me that again, you won’t have to be worried about looking for powerful enemies, you’ll have one right in front of you.”

“Wow, you’re in a foul mood.”

“You woke me at 6am and dragged me to the not so nice smelling area of town. For what? To stare at a shack.”

“To defeat the enemy, we have to know him. What better way, than to see him in his natural habitat.”

“Or we could go get coffee and read about him in the paper like everyone else.”

“Come on Courtney, just for a bit.”

“His name is The Scourge. You’re just Charlie.”

“Think about what they’ll call me after I’ve faced The Scourge.”

“Dead Charlie?”

“Look, I didn’t ask for these powers, but now that I have them, I need to use them for the good of mankind.”

When the mattress factory had an explosion, it was discovered that it was a secret government facility.  Those within a certain proximity developed super powers. Some people developed more than others.

“Ok super strength is cool but, have you even practiced fighting?”

“I don’t expect you to understand the weight of responsibility that came with them. I mean no offense but, you can conjure a breeze. What would you do against someone like that? Oh, maybe you can mess up his hair.”

“I’ve been using my powers. I think I can handle myself Oh look there he is.”

The Scourge lived up to his name. He was seven feet tall, bald, a wall of muscles, and completely bald.

“I guess, messing up his hair is out.”

“Come on.”

The Scourge had headed down the street. He stopped in a coffeeshop and the watched him have breakfast, from a bus stop on the other side of the road.

“So, what’s the big plan, anyway?”, She asked, as she raced rocks down the sidewalk with her powers.

“We wait unit he does something wrong and get him for it.”

She tossed her long blond braid over her shoulder.

“Great plan. But wait. What if today is like his day off or something.”

“You don’t take a day off from evil.”

“I would. I mean, can you be evil if its laundry day? Unless its evil laundry…”

Charlie had stopped paying attention halfway through her rambling. Courtney was a good friend but she was a bit out there sometimes. The Scourge finished breakfast and they followed him to the barber for a shave, into a bank that he didn’t rob, and a visit to his grandmother in a retirement home. Finally, he went into the club where he worked as a bouncer.

“Well Charlie, it was a nice afternoon but, I’m done.”

“What? You can’t leave now.”

“Why not? I’m bored. I’m hot and we’re both two years too young to get into that club. He didn’t do anything bad. Maybe you could help in other ways. I like to go to the park and see if anyone is trying to fly a kite.”

“just a bit longer, please.”

“Fine but can we get food first? He ate but we didn’t.”

They ate hot dogs and chips from the convenience store across from the club, watching for The Scourge.

Courtney said, “I don’t know why you want to be a hero so bad, anyway. I think the villains have more fun.”

“Heroes get all the attention. Heroes get the girls.”

She snorted. “You’re not really going through all of this to get girls, are you?”

“No, of course not. Well mostly not.”

The evening wore on. They found a comfortable bench and waited. A throat cleared waking them both up. A cop was standing over them.

“You kids lost?’

Courtney said. “Um no officer. We just fell asleep.”

“Can I call someone for you?”

“No, we’re heading home right now.”

Charlie said. “We are?”

“Yes we are, right now.”

She grabbed his hand and dragged him toward their neighborhood.

“We can’t. We’ll miss something.”

“Look Charlie, you can’t get yourself in trouble trying to do good. That’s just stupid.”

“Fine. Meet me back in front of his house in the morning.”

“Charlie!”
“Courtney, I need a sidekick. Please…”

“Whatever. You have a week. Then I’m done with this.”

They’d followed The Scourge for almost a week. The most he ever did was yell at a guy for bumping into him.

“I’m glad this is almost over.”, Courtney said as she swatted at flies. They were currently hiding behind a dumpster in the alley next to the club.

“What do you mean?”

“Tomorrow makes a week. I think I might go to the mall. I definitely deserve a mani-pedi.”

She gathered a breeze for some relief from the flies and the smell.

“We’re so close to greatness. The Scourge will do something wrong, I can feel it.”

“No, I said a week and I meant it. Find a new sidekick.”

“Fine. Why don’t you leave right now then? I can do this on my own.”

“I don’t need you to yell at me. For a hero, you’re a real ass.”

She turned and stomped out to the street.  She was about to step onto the sidewalk when she heard shouting behind her. She turned and ran back. There was The Scourge holding Charlie against the wall by his neck.

“What are you doing spying on me?”

Charlie let out a gurgling noise.

“Let him go.”, Courtney said.

The Scourge didn’t bother turning.

“Get lost girlie.”

“I said, let him go.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

She gathered a gust of wind that picked up the dirt and debris from the ground. It funneled into a mini twister and flew right into his face. He dropped Charlie and covered his eyes.

“You bitch. I’ll get you for that.”

“No, you won’t.”

A page from a newspaper flew onto his face and held there. He pulled at it. He tried to yell but couldn’t get a breath. Charlie pulled himself to the wall and sat against it.

“Nod if you promise to behave yourself.”

The Scourge nodded and the paper flew off and fluttered to the ground. He glared at Courtney.

“You’ve won this round girlie but, you and your little sidekick better watch your backs.”

Charlie coughed and said, “She’s the sidekick, I’m the hero.”

The Scourge laughed. “You? You keep telling yourself that boy. In the meantime, stay out of dark allies.”

He went through a door marked with the name of his club.

Courtney went over and helped Charlie up. He started to limp to the street.

“Why are you limping?”

“Don’t ask. In fact, don’t ever speak of this again.”

“Oh, don’t be like that. Sidekicks get girls, too.”

She threw her arm over his shoulder and walked him home.

 

 

 

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Rainy night in the city

writingprompt#3

Writing prompt week three. I made both the one day goal and my minimum word count.  This photo was called The Storm. As they say “there are eight million stories in the naked city, this is one of them”

Water splashed up from dips in the sidewalk too shallow to be called puddles. Well, my new boots were ruined and I had no one to blame but myself. It wasn’t enough to make a dramatic exit, I had to do it in the middle of a rain storm. There was no turning back now. What would I even say? How would I explain myself?

By the time I reached my destination, the rain had slowed to a cold drizzle. I stepped inside and waved my hand down my dress. With just a little magic I was dry. Maybe my mother could help with the boots. I looked around the bar that my family called home.  More accurately, the sprawling three story townhouse upstairs.

Apparently, even the most social drunks were fighting sobriety at home, tonight. The only patron in the place was the old man everyone affectionately, called the Young Oldman. There had been an Old Oldman, but that was before my time. Young was about 75. I had never been in Alistair and Co, and not seen him sitting in that spot.

I nodded to him as I headed to the opposite end of the long counter.  I ran my hand along the polished wood. The shiny 1916 pennies, embedded in the resin catching the light as I went. According to a plaque on the wall, the pennies had been found in a canvas sack under a floorboard when the bar had been remodeled in the 1970’s.

A glass of white wine on a napkin automatically appeared, as I slid onto a stool.  I looked up and smiled at the bartender. He smiled at me from his almost 7 feet. His dark eyes and dark skin showed his Egyptian heritage. I smiled back.

“Margot. I wasn’t expecting you in. What brings you out on a night like this?”

”Ah Robi, I let my feet do the walking and they brought me here”

He gave me a knowing smile. “Work or love?”

I took a sip of the wine.  “You know me too well.”

“Spill.”

The wind gusted as the door opened, letting in two young couples. They took one look at Oldman, then me hunched over my glass, finally to the 6’9” bald Egyptian, and headed to one of the tables.

Robi went over to the poor guy elected to get the drinks. I ignored the bowl of peanuts and leaned over to grab the jar. Young Oldman banged his mug on the bar.

The annoyed bartender called out. “I’ll get to you in a minute.  Don’t be an asshole.”

The customer in front of him raised his eyebrows at the obscenity. My phone buzzed in my pocket. I’d left my apartment without my keys and wallet, but I remembered my phone. The voicemail beeped. This was the fourth call I’d gotten. I knew who it was. I just didn’t know what to say.

Robi made his way back to me, in time to give me another wine.

I looked up at him. “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be off tonight.”

“Yeah. Your sister had a hot date.”

My sister was two years older than me and still trying to find herself. My parents were happy to indulge her, as long as, she worked. There was an expectation that she would someday take over the bar. I certainly didn’t want it.

“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on with you or am I going to have to keep guessing?”

I stared at my drink.

“I’ve been seeing this new girl.”

“I know. Your mom is beside herself, wondering when you’re going to bring her by.”

“I don’t know if I am. After everything happened with the last one…I don’t know.”

“Not every girl is going to turn evil.”

“I know, but when I got home tonight and found a romantic candlelight dinner; I just panicked.”

He chuckled. “She sounds like a piece of work alright.”

“Don’t mock me.”

“I’m not. It’s just that we’ve all been waiting for you to get over your ex.”

I looked up at him.

“She tried to kill you. She tried to kill everyone I love.”

“We all survived. And I’m not downplaying what happened with Cartier. But, you need to find someone. It’s been two years. We’re all starting to wonder if you still want her. You’re not like waiting for her, are you?”

“This isn’t about wanting Cartier back or still having feelings for her. I’m over that part of it. And I know that no other relationship will crash and burn like that one.”

“Then what is it?”

“It’s stupid.”

“I’m sure it’s not.”

I sighed as the wind gusted. We both looked up. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the young woman standing in front of the now closed door. Jillian looked around, taking it all in. Her eyes landed on me. Oldman gave her a mocking salute with his glass, as she headed in my direction.

I was quiet as she settled next to me. Why was she here? Robi had moved away but came over to get her order.

“I guess I’ll have whatever she’s having.”

We were both quiet as he put the wine in front of her.

“Your wallet was on the hall table with your keys. I was worried that you’d be stuck somewhere.”

I said, “Thanks”, as she slid them across the bar to me.

“It doesn’t matter here. This is my family’s place. If the tab gets too high, my father will make me work a shift or two.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Alistair was my great-great-great grandfather. The “co” was his wife. They didn’t think anyone would come, if a woman’s name was on the sign, too. I grew up in the townhouse upstairs.”

She was quiet as looked down at the pennies. Her hair fell, obscuring her face. She was so petite that her feet didn’t touch the footrest. Neither of us said anything, until Robi gestured for me to start.

“How did you find me? I don’t remember telling you about this place.”

She looked up. Her cheeks reddened.

“Um, you didn’t. Remember the other night, we were playing around with that tracking app on our phones? We forgot to turn them off. I’m sorry. I don’t usually do this; stalk my girlfriends”

I chuckled. “I think stalk is a strong word. Maybe, check on?”

“Yeah. You were pretty upset when you left.”

She sighed, her brown eyes filled with tears.

“I didn’t mean to scare you. I mean, we’ve only been going out for a few weeks. Telling you how I felt, like that…”

“No! No, it’s not that.”

I’d been in love with Jillian from the first time we met. She was a party planner and been hired to help with the launch of a new artist.

It’s just…well…the last time that someone told me that they loved me; things ended very badly.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

“It’s been pointed out to me that it’s been two years and I should be over it by now. I should have been honest with you.”

“There’s no time frame for healing a broken heart.”

She was being too understanding. I had to tell her everything.

“Her name was Cartier. We met in college. At first, it was everything that they tell you, love is supposed to be.”

“So, what happened.”

I took a sip of my wine. I really didn’t like telling this story.

”We were going to be married. It wasn’t legal at that point, but it’s accepted in our community and our families approved.”

She looked down at her glass. “What happened?”

“I found out that she was lying about certain things. It wasn’t just to me, but to her family as well. I found out just before the ceremony. I wanted to postpone until we could get things figured out, but we were standing in the church with two hundred people.”

There were parts of that evening that I hadn’t told anyone. I still wasn’t ready to talk about them, but Jill deserved as much of the truth as I was able to give. I looked around. The outsiders were gone.

“I thought it would be okay. We could deal with it after.”

“That never works.”

“No, it doesn’t.”, I took her hand across the bar. “Jill, if you really do love me, you need to trust me. You need to believe what I’m about to tell you is true.”

“Ok, now you’re starting to scare me.”

“Jillian. Me, my family, even the old man over there, we’re all witches.”

“Witches?  As in Wiccans?”

“No. As in flying broomsticks and turning people into toads. All of the fairy tale creatures; vampires and werewolves. It’s all true. Cartier tried to use our wedding as a way to steal the power from every magical being in the city. She stabbed the priestess with the ceremonial dagger.”

She took her hand out of mine. “I’m not saying that I believe you, but finish.”

“Some quick moving vampires took her down. Nobody was really surprised, and they were waiting for her to do something.”

“So she was, what, a wicked witch?”

“Yes. All of the emotional energy that an individual puts out goes into the swirl of global energy. If everyone is happy, then the general mood of the area is happy. Witches manipulate the energies around them, so what they put out matters more. My coven is made up of witches who put out more positive energy. Cartier and her family are negative. It creates a balance. Cartier, she’s not about balance. She wants chaos.”

“Did you know? When you were dating, that she was like that?”

“Yes. I guess I was hoping that I could change her. I think she was hoping the same for me.  A joining like ours, would have blended our powers. Cartier thought that she could was stronger than me.  By killing that priestess in a sacred circle, it sealed her fate. She couldn’t join with me even if we wanted to.”

“Where is she now?”

“We have our own version of prison. In our society, killing a priestess or priest is a serious crime. I haven’t seen her trial.”

Jillian was quiet for a while. She sighed.

“You know that I trust you but, something like this. I’m going to need proof.”

“I understand.”

I looked around to make sure we were alone. It took just a bit of concentration and a small cat was suddenly sitting next to me.

“Dammit Margot, you know I’m allergic to those things.”

“Sorry Oldman.”

Just as suddenly, Jill was sitting back on the stool. She blinked and looked around.

“Was I…I was just a cat. Right? That really happened?”

“You did say that you wanted proof. This is ok? Did I freak you out?”

“No. I mean, yes, I’m freaked out. But, I think I’ll be ok with it.”

“Good, because, I love you too.”

I leaned over and kissed her. Those soft lips opened and I was lost in her. A throat cleared next and I paused to look at Robi. He looked up at the ceiling. I’d been so caught up that I’d missed hearing the elevator.

“So…um…Jill. There’s something else I need to talk to you about.”

“There’s more than you being a witch?”

“It’s just a small thing, really. It’s about my mom and how she’s going to be around you.”

“You’re not allowed to date non-witches?”

“Oh no, I can date you but, my mom can be enthusiastic.”

“That’s not a bad thing. My family isn’t okay with the whole lesbian thing. We just agree to pretend I’m not. If I bring you home, I’ll have to introduce you as my friend. Then we’ll have to endure my mom telling me that I need to settle down with a nice boy. I don’t bring girls home often.”

“My mom is the opposite of all that, plus ten.”

“Oh, that is enthusiastic.”

“I only mention it because they just got home and by now they know I’m down here with you.”

“Now? I’m meeting you mother after I’ve been crying all night? And I’m soaked.”

“She’s going to be on your side and yell at me for making you cry. As for the being soaked, I can take care of that.”

I passed my hand down her front.  She ran a hand down her, now dry, shirt.

“That was awesome. You know that you could have done that instead of turning me into a cat.”

“She was showing off.”

I leaned over and looked down the bar.

“Shut up, Asshole.”

I looked back at Jillian.

“You look beautiful. If you still want to be with me after you meet my parents, we’ll go to see yours.”

“You do love me.”

This time she started the kiss that was still happening as my parents came in with the gust of wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bored

writing-prompt#2

This is my week 2 writing prompt. I didn’t quite make it to my 2000 wordcount minimum but I got it done in one day. 

“If I wanted to work late, I would have applied at a Mini-mart. At least there might have been some activity.”, Ava said, as she thumped her purse on the desk.

“Quit your bitching, or you might find yourself there, yet.”, Brie said.

She tossed her hair and began to pack her homework to leave.

“I’m sorry that you couldn’t unload your closing shifts onto Dean this month but, you don’t have to take it out on the rest of us. Everything is done. Why don’t you find a book to read? This is a library, after all.”

Brie laughed. She knew full well that, Ava had only gotten the job to look smart on her resume. She and the others teased her all the time. Ava hadn’t realized that the library, being so close to the colleges, would have late hours some nights. The librarians rotated so you’d only have to close on week per month. Ava had gotten Dean to take her turn. His new girlfriend made him impervious to her charms.

As soon as, Brie left, Ava pulled out her phone and settled in. Aside from the usual post-day class, pre-night class rush, the evening was quiet. She was in the breakroom, staring at the snack machine, when the counter bell dinged.  She hid a sigh when she saw who it was.

“Hey Bryan.”

He was cute in a geeky way but, he had no social skills.

“Hi Ava. I sent you a third friend request. Did you get it this time?”
“Oh, I’ve been busy with school and stuff. I’ll look for it later.”

“Cool.”

After an awkward pause, that seemed to last minutes, Ava said. “So, did you need something?”

“Right! I’m on the waiting list for the new Lords of the Dark Kingdom book. Has it been returned yet?”

“Did you get an email?”

“No.”

Another awkward pause.

“I’ll go look.”

She was just turning to tell him it wasn’t there. Something flew by his head.

“Did you see that?”

“See what?”

He turned to look where she was staring.

“Has that poster of the bird always been over that water fountain?”, she asked.

“I think so. Are you alright?”

“Fine. I’m fine. Um…your book isn’t in yet.”

“Ok. Thanks for checking.”

Ava spotted shadows out of the corner of her eye twice more but, didn’t see anything when she looked up from her phone.

Around five, a boy came up to the counter. He looked about nine. He was dressed in black velvet shorts and jacket.

“Are you in some kind of play?”, Ava asked.

“No, why do you ask?”

“Um…the outfit?”

“What’s wrong with my outfit?”
“Oh. Um…nothing. I guess. What do you need?”

“I wish to complain. The selection of fairy tales in your children’s’ department is woeful.”

“Woeful?” Who was this kid? “Are you alone? Where are your parents.”

“All of them are about princesses and dragons. Where are you books about real fairies?”

“Real fairies? You mean like the little ones with wings and fairy dust?”

“That would do for a start.”

“Where did you say your parents are? I’m not a babysitter.”

“I not being a problem, am I?”

“Well no.”

“Then can you lead me to the fairies?”
“Um sure.”

Shortly after bringing the boy to mythology area of the children’s department, it was time for her to walk the stacks and close up the third floor. Stepping off the elevator, she ducked as a large gray shape came at her.  She looked as the bird flew off toward the research lab. She couldn’t leave it locked up here all night. There were policies about everything else, there would be one about this. She searched the whole floor. It was gone.

She disabled the elevator and locked the door to the third=floor stairwell. The lights coming into the lobby seemed exceptionally bright. That poster was definitely new. Settling at the desk, she pulled out her phone. Her sister was supposed to be bringing her dinner. She hadn’t texted though.

A fluttering made her look up. An owl was sitting on the counter, blinking at her. Carefully, she stood up.

“Nice bird. Good bird.”, she said, slowly walking toward it.

Just as she reached it, it flew into the stacks. She ran after it but again it was gone. She turned and ran into the little boy.

“Oh sorry. This is going to sound weird but, have you seen…”

“An owl? No. I need you to find more books.”

“I gave you every kids book that has the word fairy in it.”

“I want the ones in the adult section now.”

Ava sighed and brought him to the mythology section on the second floor. As she was coming down, the bell dinged. There was Bryan again.

‘I’m ready to check out. Are you sure that you’re alright? You look winded.”

“I’m fine. It’s just a busy night.”

He wouldn’t believe her about the owl. She hardly believed her. Once Bryan left she sat down to the dinner that was sitting on the desk. A text on her phone told her that her sister had been in a hurry. Before she could take a bite of her sandwich, someone cleared their throat. She looked up to at the most beautiful boy, she’d ever seen.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt your dinner but, I’m looking for a boy. I think he might be in here.”

He had a light accent that she couldn’t place. His eyes were a bright green and his long hair was so black that it shined in the light.

“I think I know who you’re talking about. He’s on the second floor in mythology. Would you like me to take you up there?”

“That’s probably not a good idea but, thank you.”

“No problem. The elevator is off but you can take the stairs.”

He nodded and headed that way. Ava took her bite. She was halfway through her fries, when she heard shouting.

“Watch out.”

An owl swooped low over her head and aimed for the door. It hit them hard enough to open them but, she’d just switched the security to night. Nobody could go in or out unless she hit the button. The owl fell back and turned to go the other way. Cute boy was right behind it.

“Wait.”, She called as he disappeared into the stacks.

Suddenly the bird flew out of a section, saw her and flew into a different one. Cute boy ran towards her. She simply pointed to where the bird had gone. He took off in that direction.

She heard a crash and ran toward it. Cute boy was picking himself off a pile of books. The owl watched him from above. It looked like it was laughing at him.

“Miss, it would be best if you went back to your dinner.”

“What’s going on here?”
“I apologize but I need to get that boy home before his parents do.”

“What boy?”

He just looked at the owl. Who shook its feathers and settled back down. Cute boy, who was also, apparently, crazy boy, started putting the books back on the cart. Ava kneeled down to help.

“That’s not a boy.”

“I can assure you that it is. He is my nephew, Ian, and my brother is going to kill me if I don’t get him home, right now.”

The last part was directed to the bird. She decided to play along.

She asked the bird, “Is that why you were looking into mythology? Do you not know what you are?”

Cute boy stood up and placed the last stack of books on the cart. He laughed.

“Oh, he knows exactly what he is. It’s what we both are.”

“Owls?”

“No. We are fae. We are phooka.”

“Isn’t that a dance?”

“That’s a polka.”

Ava started to lead him back towards the front. She wasn’t sure what to believe. She wasn’t ready to admit that fairies were real.  She had to sit down.  If the owl really was the curious boy from earlier, he’d follow.

“Phooka are shapeshifters. We are an old type of faerie. In fact, I just moved here from Ireland.”

They’d gotten back to the front and she sat in one of the lobby chairs.

“Your accent, it doesn’t sound Irish.” At least it didn’t sound like the Irish she’d heard on tv.

“As I said, we are an old people. We are far removed from modern Ireland. My brother and his family have been here for a while. My nephew doesn’t have any accent at all.”

The owl had flown out and perched on the counter again. He was listening intently. It really wasn’t the boy. Was it?

“Let’s say I believe you. Don’t fairies live in the woods and stuff?”

“Phooka are drawn to the chaos of the city. We also seek places that need a little action.”

She looked around.

“Yeah, well this is a library.”

“He wasn’t drawn to the place. He was drawn to you. You needed the chaos.”

Suddenly, the little boy, Ian, was standing next us. He curled up in the seat on the other side of his uncle.

Cute boy said, “Some part of you needed a little chaos. Ian is young. He doesn’t have the control over it yet. He also loves books so he probably didn’t fight it too hard.”

Ava considered her night. It had been the most exciting night, she’d had at work.

“Nobody needs chaos.”

“Oh, but they do. In some situations, it comes with important life lessons. Sometimes, it brings change. In your case, I think you just needed a bit of excitement. I can’t imagine this place offers a lot of that.”

She laughed.

“Yeah, my job is pretty quiet.”

“So, are you ok? This must be a bit of a surprise.”

She looked at cute boy. And held out her hand.

“I’m Ava.”

He smiled and took it.

“Liam.”

So, Liam. What are you guys doing tomorrow night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gantry

I’ve started a personal challenge. One short story, not related to my WIP per week. It will be based on a writing prompt, between 2000-5000 words, and be completed in one day. No editing or rewrites(except a quick spellcheck). Critiques of content are encouraged. My week 1 prompt was this fellow here…

ganrtywp

Gantry stood on the overlook. The sheep in the field behind him, quiet in the early morning. This was the only place on the island where the view to the sea was clear. He raised his spyglass toward the calm waters. It had been nearly five years since his family had left him with the monks. They were supposed to have returned after four. He’d received word that his sister was finally on her way.

He’d been up here every morning looking for a vessel. Today, his diligence was rewarded. The boat was merely a bobbing dot on the horizon. He closed the glass and slipped it into a pocket of his robes. The path down the mountain was long and not well maintained. He hadn’t traveled it since his arrival but, he still remembered it well. There was only a few weeks of the year that it was travelable. A few potential acolytes died each year.

It was late in the season for young potentials, but he passed a few. They took in his robes with awe. The monks on this island were legendary.  He was the only one going down. The two-day journey gave him time to reflect. His elder brother had left him here just after his fifteenth birthday. They had gotten such an early start that there had been no time for goodbyes.

When he arrived at the western dock, the sun was lighting the water orange. His sister would arrive on the morning tide. He claimed one of the small cabins nearby. A few smoking chimneys and glowing windows showed a few were already occupied. He built a fire in his own and ate the small supper he’d packed.

His sister was just a year older than him. When he left she was picking among large group of suitors. It wasn’t just that she was beautiful, she was kind and good-natured. They’d always had a good relationship. Unlike his brother who had turned everything into a contest.

He woke long before the sun. the dock master was looking over the manifest of a small boat that had been rowwed in overnight.  Gantry looked out into the small cove. A personal boat was making its way in. It was the same kind that had carried him all those years ago. This had to be his sister. He pulled out the spyglass. He would have recognized that figure anywhere.

It took a bit before she saw him standing on the dock. Immediately she waved. Still the craft kept its unhurried pace. As it drew to the shore, workers appeared on the deck and prepared to tie up. The dock master stepped forward to receive the manifest. Gantry had seen him hold everyone on board the other vessel until the proper protocols had been followed. One look from the monk and the master stepped back.

She was in front of him as soon as the gangplank was lowered. She seemed shorter than he remembered and she smelled like their mother.

“You’re really here. You’re alright.”, she said, tears streaming down her face. She threw her arms around him. Short. She was so short.

“I missed you too.”

She stepped back but seemed reluctant to let go. We were getting looks from the dock master and the family that was saying goodbye to the boy that, had finally been allowed to get off the other boat.

“Come with me. There’s so much I need to tell you and I don’t what to do it here.”

She took my hand and pulled me up the gangplank. There was a table with chairs set up on the deck. A man was putting out food. Another man sat in one of the chairs, already having a plate in front of him.

“Gantry, this is my husband. He was the one who made this trip possible.”

I bowed as I would one of the elder monks. He had smile as warm as my sister’s. I knew she’d chosen well for herself.

“Thank you.”

“It’s no problem at all. I asked your sister where she’d like to go for the last bit of our honeymoon and she chose this.”

I turned to her.

“Honeymoon? But, you were making decisions about who to marry even before I left.”

She sank down in the chair opposite her husband. I sat in the chair between them but faced her.

“Oh Ganny. That’s what I needed to tell you. Right after you left, mother and father were killed in an accident. Our dear brother used all of the money, including what had been set aside for my marriage. It took me until now to find someone who didn’t; care about such things. And you…he told us that you were dead.”

Her husband reached across the table and handed her a handkerchief.

“Dead? Mother and father didn’t send me here? Why would he do this?”

“He found out that you were going to inherit everything. They didn’t trust him. Even after he told us that you two had snuck out and that you’d fallen into the river, father never believed him. He got rid of you, I’m certain he was responsible for our parents deaths, and he kept me as a servant.”

I’d been taught by the monks to keep calm in any situation, but this was a lot to absorb.

“How’d you find me?’

“It was the letter you sent, last year. You sent it to me, not mother and father. It was delivered to our manor.”

“Ah. Why would he bring me to the monks? Why not kill me?”

“There had been a monk in town. I remember, right before you left. He was talking about how dangerous the island was and that not many boys survived. I think that’s how he got the idea.”

I remembered that too. Our brother had mentioned the encounter. He’d told me that was how father got the idea to send me here.

The kind gentleman said, “Are reports of the danger exaggerated or did you just figure out how to survive?”

The monks’ methods and teachings were very much a secret to outsiders. As was the true nature of what we did.

“It was as deadly as the rumors have it. I made it through with a few scars.”

My sister looked me up and down. Taking in the robes.

“I don’t understand. The monks are supposed to be scholars. The one we met told us he was in town to visit the library.”

I thought for a moment.

“Do you think our brother believes the same?”

“I don’t see why he wouldn’t. Isn’t that what you are?”

“To a degree yes. But, there’s much more that I can’t reveal. When do we leave.”

She looked startled.

“You can’t come home. He’ll kill you, like he did our parents.”

Her husband reassured her, “If he is at our manor, your brother will never know that he’s back.”

“I must leave the island. I can’t complete my training until I’ve been away for a year and a day.”

She still looked doubtful, “Why?”

“I need to see what I’d be missing. If I return, it means that this is what I want. It means that I’m prepared to focus only on my training.”

The husband said, “We will leave tonight with the evening tide. Will that be enough time to gather your things?”

“I brought everything with me. My satchel is in one of the cabins. It won’t take a minute to fetch it.”

“Dear why don’t you walk with him. I’m sure you’d like to catch up some more.”

She looped her arm through mine as we followed the dirt path. She told me of life in the manor and what had become of some of my old friends. I wasn’t sure what I’d have in common with any of them now. Fitting in wasn’t part of my new life plan. I had already decided to complete my training. First though, I get vengeance for my sister and our parents.

The trip home was brief. Even late in the evening, I was unprepared for the large crowd at the harbor. The town had grown in the five years I’d spent with the same handful of monks. My sister must have noticed my discomfort. She stayed close as her husband waved down a handsome cab.

Their home overlooked a park in the wealthy area of town. Watching out the window, I only recognized bits and pieces.

“It’s a proper city now. Isn’t it?”

“It is. We had a few industries really take off and it’s brought a lot of jobs.”

“Where does our brother fit?”

“He still lives in our old house. Most of the servants left within a year of our father’s death. The rest were let go as he lost more and more money.  I don’t think he meant to put me in such a bind but, he took advantage of the situation.”

“How long have you been away from him?”

“We were married last year. We waited to take our honeymoon so my husband could finish a bit of business. We also wanted to have one big trip before we started our family.”

A late supper was laid out for us at my sister’s house. The house itself was twice the size of the one we’d grown up in. It was an older home. The furniture was worn but still in good shape. My host noticed my curiosity.

“The house has been in my family for a few generations. Most recently, my grandmother lived in it. When she died I inherited it but it was a bit too big and stuffy for a young bachelor.”

Soon after, my sister and her husband retired for the evening and I was led up to my room by a very nervous housekeeper. The room was large but simple. A bed, wardrobe, desk and dresser were the only furnishings. I placed my few toiletries on the dresser. The rest of mu belongings stayed in my satchel, which I hid behind my cloak, now hanging in the wardrobe.

I woke with the sun but didn’t go down to breakfast right away. My window overlooked the park and I’d pulled out my spyglass. The park was occupied by laughing children and tired nannies. A young couple strolled by hand in hand, oblivious to everything but each other. I turned as my sister knocked at the door then stepped in.

“Is this alright? There are other rooms but this one had been freshened up recently.”

“This is fine. My room in the island wasn’t even half this size. And the furniture not nearly as nice. I guess my first step is to find other clothes.”

She looked surprised.

“Are you allowed to?”

“For the year and a day that I’m gone. I may dress as I wish. Most acolytes leave the island and can’t afford anything but their robes. Come to think of it, I don’t know if I can either.”

“Don’t worry about that. My husband has already told me to get you whatever you need.”

“He is very generous.”

“He is. He doesn’t have any family left. I think he’s pleased that I have one brother that isn’t a monster.”

I smiled. If she only knew.

“Thank him for me. I’ll do whatever I can to make friends then.”

“I glad that you said that. We do have a favor to ask.”

“What is it?”

“We are having a party tonight. We’d really like for you to come.”

“Is our brother coming.”

“He wasn’t invited but the last one we had, he showed up.”

“It must really get to him that you married so well.”

She smiled.

“Oh, it does. He tried to tell me that I owed him for the years that he let me live with him. My husband threw him out. If he does come, are you thinking of confronting him?”

“I wouldn’t abuse your hospitality. I will settle with him when I’m ready.”

She gave me a hug.

“Be careful. He’s dangerous and I just found you.  I’ll send someone out for some clothes.  Meanwhile, I had them leave you some breakfast. We ate on the porch overlooking the garden. Then, feel free to explore the house. We’ll be setting up for the party soon, but the library will be quiet.”

Breakfast was simple but the garden was in bloom and full of bird song. I found the library and it was indeed quiet. The morning passed quickly and I slowly became aware of more activity in the rest of the house. I put the book down to see about some lunch and offer my help. Before I could, my sister’s husband stepped into the room and quietly closed the door.

“Your sister is in your room with some clothes for you to try on.”

“Thank you. I was just looking to stretch my legs anyway. I’m not used to being idle.”

“I should say not. I hear life on the island is quite arduous.”

“Oh?”

“I had a childhood friend that was sent there. He sent letters begging to come home every week. He even sent a few to me, asking to be rescued. He never went into detail but it seemed that he was being tortured.”

“Some do find the training difficult. There were even times when I found it so.”

“The thing is, this friend did come home for his year and a day, vowing to never go back. He told me of the monks’ true purpose.”

I went on guard. There were many things this acolyte could have said and I didn’t want to give anything away.

“And?”

“You are welcome to stay here for as long as you want. I don’t care if you kill your brother. In fact, when I hear of the things that he put your sister through, I could have done it myself. I know she won’t be upset if you do. I only ask that whatever you do, you don’t bring trouble to us.”

“I promise that whatever happens, I will leave the two of you out of it.”

“Good. Now let’s get you to your sister.”

My sister was indeed waiting in my room. Even after so long away, I knew the girl standing next to her.

“See Amelia, I told you he wasn’t an imagination.”

“Maybe he is a specter. Perhaps I’ll have to pinch him. To make certain he is real.”

I smiled. She still took my breath away. Her sharp green eyes and serious nature brushed most the wrong way. I only saw her quick wit and wicked sense of humor as assets.

“Don’t you mean that you must pinch yourself. To make certain that I’m not a dream.”

She snorted.

“I believe, it is I, who would be appearing in your dreams.”

“I have spent the last five years surrounded by smelly old men and sheep. Appearing in my dreams wouldn’t be a great feat.”

She smiled at me.

“Oh, how I’ve missed you Gantry. No other boy will insult me like you do.”

“I missed you too. It’s so tiring to be charming and poetic.”

She laughed.

“I didn’t realize sheep liked poetry so much.”

“Oh yes. They love it, the more romantic, the better.”

My sister sighed.

“I do have other things to do right now. I am having a party in a few hours.”, She said with a smile.

“Sorry. Let’s look at those clothes.”

There were two sets, one formal and one casual.  My sister watched me look them over.

“I guessed at the size. You’re so tall and thin, the pants may be too short.”

“I think they’ll be fine, but if you two could give me some privacy…”

My sister said, “Oh, of course. Come on Amelia. We’ll be having lunch when you’re ready.”

The pants and shirt fit perfectly. I put my robes in the wardrobe. I wouldn’t be needing them any time soon. I went downstairs and helped my sister with the party. Amelia had gone home to get ready.

I’d gone up to get my vest and jacket on, when the first guests arrived. I slipped quietly among the crowd. I recognized a few of the guests; none seemed to know me. My sister swooped in and saved me from listening to the dullest conversations. She led me to the area that had become a dance floor.

“It’s a shame about the robes. You’re very handsome, like father was.”

“By the end of my year, you’ll be so tired of me, you’ll be begging for me to put them back on.”

She laughed.

“I can’t imagine that.”

A tap at my shoulder revealed my sister’s husband and Amelia. There was a worried look on her face.

“Trade partners?”

“Of course.”

I stepped away from my sister and held a hand out to Amelia.

“Your brother just walked in. He hasn’t noticed you yet but we wanted your sister away before he did.”

I watched her track his movements from the refreshments to the seating area. He was making the rounds.

“Are you going to kill him?”

“That seems to be the question. Do you think I should?”

“He kidnapped you and tormented your sister.”

“And you?”

She looked at me, surprised.

“Your parents had approached mine about a marriage between you and I.”

“I remember.”

“As soon as you were gone, he went to my father about a union.”

“My father had told me long before that he didn’t believe in selling off his only daughter. If I didn’t want to get married, I could take the money and go to school.”

“You chose school?”

“Don’t get any ideas. It wasn’t like without you, I didn’t want anyone. I just realized that I didn’t want a husband that was possibly in it, only for the money. When my father told him, there wouldn’t be a dowry…he said some pretty insulting things about my family.”

“Bad enough to see him dead?”

She blushed.

“Nobody respects him or his opinion, but he brought our issues into public. Even though my father is very respected, he is also very private. It brought a lot of stress to our home.”

Her eyes got big.

“Has he spotted us?”

“He has spotted me. I don’t think he’s seen who you are yet”

“Let’s fix that.”

I turned and bent down and whispered, “Laugh, as if I’d said something wicked into your ear.”

She laughed and rubbed her hand up my arm. Anyone looking our way, would certainly see it as a flirtation. I spotted him out of the corner of my eye.

“Oh, he’s noticed me now.”, I said with a warm smile.

She laughed and smiled back.

“I imagine he looks a bit shocked.”

“He’s definitely shook. I’m going to end our dance, I think maybe I’ll get some air, take whatever is coming into the garden.”

I gave her one final nod and stepped away. She smiled and melted back into the crowd. I still hadn’t acknowledged him, but I could feel my brother’s eyes on me. Grabbing a drink, I headed for the doors. He was right behind me. I leaned against the wall and took a drink.

“Gantry?”

He was not the boy I remembered. The years of stress and evil doing had etched into his face.

“Hello brother.”

“How…”

“I found him. After all these years. Isn’t it wonderful.”

My sister stepped out of the shadows. Her husband was at her back. My brother never took his eyes off me.

“it is. Welcome back Gantry.”

“Thank you, brother, it’s good to be home.”

“So…how…where did you find him?”

“He’s been on the isle with the monks, this whole time. He sent me a letter when the ones that he sent to mother and father weren’t answered.”

“I was shocked to learn of their passing.”

“Yes. It was a shock for all of us.”

“I am actually surprised to see you here. They said that you hadn’t been invited.”

“I just stopped by to welcome them home. I had no idea they had company.”

“Yes, I’m sure you got a big surprise tonight.”

“So, you’re staying here?”

“For now. I haven’t made any real decisions yet.”

My sister had been watching the exchange interrupted, “Gantry, you promised to be social. Come meet some of our friends.” To my brother, she said, “Can you see yourself out or did you need an escort like last time.”

His eyes blazed for a moment.

“I know where the door is.”

We watched as my brother stormed out.

“So?”, my sister asked.

“I think I’m going to have a little fun before I decide what to do with him.”

She sighed. “I wish I could advocate for him.”

I put my arm around her shoulder.

“I wish you could too.”

The house was quiet as I slipped out, later. I was wearing the dark pants and shirt but, I had pulled on my cloak. It helped me blend into the shadows as I’d made my way across town. No one paid me any mind as I watched the house that I’d spent the first fourteen years of my life in. It was seeming asleep but, I could see my brother pacing upstairs. I’d known, that he’d have moved into my parents’ bedroom.  Was he expecting me or just pacing with worry? I’d soon find out.

I entered through the attic window with the broken lock. Passed, what I imagined to be everything that had been mine or my parents. I couldn’t stop. Thanks to my training, I didn’t even leave footprints.

I stopped in front of the bedroom and pulled a vial of powder from my pocket. I carefully broke it open and rolled it underneath the door. There was an exaggerated thump. My brother was indeed expecting an attack. I waited. The real thump came a few minutes later. Still, I waited for another moment. All was quiet.

He was sitting on the floor with his back against the bed. He’d kept my parents’ furniture but the personal touches that made the room theirs were gone. He looked at me as I stood over him.

“Let’s get you comfortable. It’s going to be morning before you’ll be able to move.”

I didn’t see the pistol until I’d lifted him onto the bed. He must have dropped it and then landed on it.

“You were waiting for me.”

He finally spoke. I had him lying down propped up on the pillows. He eyed me angrily.

“Obviously, I had good reason to.”

“Oh now, don’t be like that. Didn’t you miss me.”

I put the pistol well out of reach.

“If you kill me, everyone will know it was you.”

“Oh, I doubt that very much. I also doubt anyone would care enough to make an inquiry.You’ve made more than a few enemies.”

“I am going to kill you. I hadn’t decided until, just now. But I do want to have some fun with you first.”

“I should have knocked you in the head and dumped you into the sea.”

“Oh, I agree. That would have been your best move. But as much of a villain as you are, you’re still squeamish. First, dropping my off to meet my fate with the monks and then arranging an accident for our parents. Too good to get blood on your hands?”

“What about you? If you’re going to kill me, why not just do it?”

I laughed.

“I have plenty of blood on these hands and there will be plenty of more. Just a word of advice brother, the next time you want to get rid of an enemy, don’t leave them at a training camp for assassins.”

“What?”.

“I have spent the last five years of my life learning how to kill you, well, not specifically you. I hadn’t even thought about it until our sister told me all that you had done to her and our parents.”

“Please, you can’t tell me that you weren’t angry about my tricking you.”

It was time to reveal everything.

“You didn’t trick me. I knew about the inheritance. I fully expected you to kill me that night. Our sister was on the verge of marriage and you’d get everything, once mother and father were dead. It was a small sacrifice. But, you got greedy. You ruined things for our sister, kept her here. You killed mother and father…”

I leaned down and put the tip of my knife under his chin.

“For those things, you will die but first, I’m going to get the best revenge. I will become the opposite of you. I will become beloved in the social circles that you are so desperate to join. I will succeed in business. I will have what you’ve taken from others. Then I will kill you. Or, I may leave you to suffer in the gutter. For now, I will leave you like this, a taste of things to come.”

“I will kill you first.”

“I have no doubt that you will try.”

As I returned to my sister’s house, I saw the light on in another familiar window. Before I thought twice, I was knocking at it. Amelia was quite surprised to see me.

“Did you do it?”

“Not yet. I told him that I plan to ruin him first.”

“Are you?”

“Yes. I might need your help.”

She stepped over and slid her arms around my neck. “Consider me your partner in crime.”

“I always have.”, I said, right before I leaned in to kiss her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to Live Dark

 

Even as a small child, I was never afraid of the dark. The first time I woke in a coffin, changed that. I opened my eyes in pitch black, the weight of it pressing down and the silence ringing in my ears. I screamed myself, hoarse. All these years later, I’m still not accustomed to it. This night, I startle awake and force myself to breath. I don’t need to but, the feeling is comforting.

My coffin is carefully hidden in my family’s mausoleum. I was the last to be interred here. They say my death was a cursed one. I was one of many that caught the fever that summer. The illness was a good cover for what really happened.

My coffin is in a secret room meant to hide family treasures. I have filled it with trinkets that were left for the dead. I am, after all, one of them.

The little courtyard in front of my resting place has become a bit overgrown.  The scent of jasmine and roses coats the entire area. The little statue of the crying angel is covered with vines. Recently, a gardener attempted to cut it back. He shouldn’t have been there when I woke. I feasted that night.

I am pruning roses in the cool fall air. I hear them, teenagers dancing among the graves. My cemetery has always been a place to gather. I can usually find one among them for blood.

I go and dance with them, just a pretty girl in a long dress. The music is loud and I do my best to find the rhythm. I am dancing with a girl. She smells of cigarettes and rum. She is not afraid of me, yet. I spin her around until we are both dizzy. I turn. I see him. He is standing in the moonlight, watching us. The one who brought me to this life.

The girl is frightened now, but not of me. I let her go and she stumbles in her attempt to get away. I would get away too, if I could.

He smiles and holds his hand out to me. I go to him and take it. Somehow, its warm. I am always cold.

“Your hand is warm.”, I say. I look at anything but him. It will be alright, as long as, I don’t look at him.

“I was thinking the same thing about yours. It is our nature. It’s why we are always seeking those of our kind.”

He is looking away too.

“I don’t.”

“I know. It would be better for you, if you did.”

“I guess it would.”

He leads me away from the party. Finally, I can’t stand it.  I steal a look at him. His dark hair is longer. His dark eyes seem darker, but he is the same handsome boy I remember.

We had grown up together. The night before he went off to fight in the war, we snuck away. We kissed away each other’s fear. He promised to come back to me. His mother received a letter. He would never come home.

Then one night, he came to my window. I was sick with fever and didn’t notice how cold he was.  I let him in. He came every night to kiss away the fear. He told me that I wouldn’t die like the others. We could be together. I said yes to it all. He was my love.

I died alone. No one would hold my hand at the end. They were too afraid of the fever. My lover was in his coffin for the day.

Later, I read about my wake and funeral in the newspaper. I still have the clipping. Everyone came. I imagine that it was quite the affair. There was a picture of my mother and sister crying. It was nothing compared to their terror at my return.

We are in my garden now. He never says it, but I think he likes it here. He sits on the bench and pulls me down next to him. We still don’t look at each other. We are quiet. He sighs. I know what he is going to say.

“You can’t be happy here, existing off reckless kids and the homeless who linger too long. It’s no way to live.”

I pick a rose and begin to pull at the petals. He is watching me, waiting for an answer. I should have stayed with my prey.

“I left once.”

“Yes. I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have stolen you away.”

“No you shouldn’t have.”

“The world has changed. It’s too dangerous for you to stay.”

I stand up. I have been thinking of this myself. There was a great panic when my last boy was found. I had left him alive, but he’d fallen asleep in the cold. I had to hide for days. Still, I have always been here.

“Where would I go?”

“With me. We will travel and explore the world. You wanted that once.”

“The world was bigger than I’d imagined.”

He sighs behind me. I turn. My beautiful boy looks so sad. I can’t help but go to him.

“The world is big. It’s much bigger than it was, but you will be with me. I will keep you safe. I promised that I would.”

I look down into his eyes. They are pleading with me.

“Why don’t you just forget about me? Make another.”

He pulls me onto his lap. I put my head onto his shoulder.

“I only want you. It’s always been you.”

“Why? I’m certain you have met others.”

“I have.”

This makes me a little sad.

“I compare them to you. There is no one like you.”

“You expect too much of me. What if I am not enough me, for you?”

He laughs. I sit up and look at him.

“I mean it. We haven’t been together in a long time. What if what you loved isn’t there anymore?”

He slides his hand to cup my face. I wish he would kiss me.

“Where does all of your fear come from? I’ve been around, watching you. You are still the same.”

“What if you’ve changed, then?”

“My love, we don’t change. Ever. I am the same me and you are the same you.”

We hear voices and still. They don’t notice my garden and soon pass. For so long, no one came to this part of the graveyard. I know that some night or day, I will be discovered. My love is right. I am not safe here anymore. I do not want to think of that.

“Come back to the party with me. I’m hungry.”

“I have a better idea. You come with me. I’ll take you hunting and you’ll see that I can keep you safe.”

My stomach drops. Suddenly, I’m back there. My mother is screaming. The priest is shouting about the devil. My sister has fainted. There are men with dogs and guns.

“I can’t.”

He saw. He knows. He’d warned me not to go back. I hadn’t listened.

“Please. I won’t take you far. We’ll come back here after. I’ll stay until you’re ready to leave this place for good.”

I look at him. I’d sent him away. He’d come back, but he’d leave again. I know that staying is a lot for him to promise. Inside, I am screaming. I begin to shake as I find myself nodding my head to consent. He smiles, clearly relieved.

I am quiet as we walk to gates. I have stood here myself many times. I want to be brave for him. We step onto the sidewalk.

The cemetery was once outside of town, a lonely quiet place. Now we are surrounded by big buildings, lit with artificial light. I am biting my lip so hard there is blood.

“We’ll only go a short way for the first time. I have someone picked out.”

I can only nod. I hug his arm and hide my eyes, trusting him to guide me. It’s late and there aren’t a lot of people. Still, I feel as though I’m being stared at.  We don’t walk far. I look up. He has stopped us in front of a brick building.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes.”, I say. It comes out in a whisper.

He kisses my head.

“I’m proud of you.”

I look around. I don’t recognize the items in many of the store windows. I’ve seen cars as they’ve driven through the cemetery but, I’ve never seen them move so fast. I step back until I’m against the wall.

“it’s ok. I’ve got you.”

I nod.

“Come, it’s time.”

He leads me around the corner. We walk to a driveway that goes down under the building, I can see cars. He pulls me into the shadows. We wait as several people leave. Now that it is quiet, I am feeling braver. I still haven’t had blood.

“What are we waiting for? Any of these people would have been okay.”

“Have patience, my love. I want you to have a true meal, not the mediocre snacks that you’ve been living on.”

Footsteps echo through the dark. They are fast and purposeful. A woman stops at a car near us. I am certain that she will see us. She is distracted, looking behind her. I smell her fear. I am so hungry. She quickly gets in the car and drives away.

A man comes from the same door that the woman did. He looks around. I recognize his phone from my cemetery victims. My love whispers in my ear.

“He is our victim tonight.”

I look at the man in a new way. He is big and now he is angry.

“Wouldn’t the woman have been better? Easier?”

“Easier, yes. Better, no. Just relax. You’ll know what to do.”

I don’t understand, but I agree to do as he says.

I stay very still as my love slowly moves to stand in front of the man. He doesn’t notice. I can hear his conversation now.

“I see that you left early. I was hoping to see you. Well, I’ll make sure to see you in the morning.”

He puts his phone away and turns. He sees me. I don’t know what to do. I am afraid.

“Well where did you come from?”

He steps forward. Suddenly, my love is between us.

His eyes are on the man, but his words are for me.

“I’m sorry. He wasn’t supposed to spot you first.”

The man is angry now.

“What’s going on? This is private property. You can’t be in here.”

“Actually, we can be anywhere we like.”

“That’s it. I’m calling security.”

“There is no security. I’ve been watching this place. I’ve been watching you. Security only stays an hour after the building closes.”

The man is nervous now. He looks at us differently.

“We aren’t armed and we aren’t here to rob you.”

I can taste the man’s fear on my tongue.

“You kids need to run along, then.”

“We will soon enough. First though, I promised my lady a good meal.”

His heart is beating fast now.

“What?”

“She wanted to have the woman, but I knew better. Women expect attack. They are cautious. There is usually only a bit of fear. You on the other hand, are a predator. When you find yourself in the position of victim your fear is intoxicating.”

He motions to me. For the first time, we share a meal. It’s glorious. I am not afraid.

Later, we are lying together in my coffin.

“What did you think?”

“I was afraid.”

“I kept you safe.”

“Yes you did.”

“Well?”

“I drank down that man’s fear with his blood. I don’t think I will be happy with drunk teens again.”

“I told you.”

“You’ll teach me?”

“Yes.”

“You’ll keep me safe?”

“Yes.”

“Then yes. I will go with you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And That’s What Happened to the Folding Chair…

image
A few weeks ago I saw this random chair. It needed a story…
“Aren’t sacrifices supposed to be virgins? I’m not one you know, a virgin.” Cyrus asked.
Leon grabbed a folding chair out of his trunk. His large frame temporarily blocking the light.  Of course Cyrus would have to be kidnapped by the captain of the wrestling team.
“You totally are. It doesn’t matter though.”
Cyrus pulled at the ropes tying his hands together. One minute they’d been playing video games at Leon’s house, the next Cyrus was waking up in the back of Leon’s Dodge. Now he was sitting on the ground, leaning against the car. They were inexplicably in the parking lot of the movie theater. He couldn’t tell what time it was, but the theater was closed. A low fog was moving in.
Cyrus’s dark hair flopped over his eyes as he struggled to get free. The ropes caught on the bolt holing the tire on. He wondered if he could work them off. It worked on t.v. all the time.
Leon set the chair up in the middle of the parking space next to them. He came over and stood in front of Cyrus.
“Look man, it’s nothing personal. Usually my parents do this and they find a homeless person or something. This year, its up to me. I had stuff to do and forgot until the last minute.”
A car pulled into the spot on the other side of the car. It wasn’t until they came around that Cyrus could see who they were. His spirits rose. He knew both of the girls. Alyssa was tall and thin, a cheerleader. Katie was a bit shorter with red hair. She smiled at Cy, then frowned, as if realizing where they were.
“Hey Katie, you’re looking cute tonight.”
Katie’s face reddened making her freckles stand out. Cy was a sucker for freckles.
“Thanks Cyrus.”
Alyssa looked down at him and back to Leon. Cyrus had never liked that girl.
“Really, Leon, Cyrus O’Malley? You were supposed to find someone who wouldn’t be missed.”
Katie said, “Yeah Leon, I don’t want to see Cyrus get sacrificed.”
“Well, you guys were supposed to help me. He’s the best that I could do.”
Cyrus had finally managed to get the ropes loose but he wasn’t free of them yet. He needed to buy some time.
“I know what’s going on and it’s not going to work.”
Alyssa snorted.
“Cy, you don’t know anything.”
“I know that Katie’s nose scrunches up when she’s concentrating in history class. I also know that this town is home to  the great lizard god Lazlos. And that you think you’re going to sacrifice me to him.”
Katie asked, “How would you know about that? You just moved to town.”
“Correction, I just moved back to town. Actually, my family goes back to when this was just a native settlement.”
Leon said, “The natives in this area were all wiped out with the first settlers.”
“Not all of them, some escaped and hid in other parts of the area.”
Alyssa said, “None of that matters right now. Lazlo wakes every fifty years and if we don’t give him a sacrifice, he’ll go on a rampage and destroy the city.”
Leon said, “Let’s get this over with. It’s getting late.”
Cy had managed to get the ropes off but he pretended they were still tied. Leon easily lifted Cyrus and  maneuvered him onto the chair.
Katie paced back and forth, looking worried.
“I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to use Cy. It’s not too late to find someone else.”
Alyssa said, “Stop being a wimp, Katie. I don’t want to go looking for someone else.”
Leon nodded his head in agreement.
“Yeah Katie, I still have homework.”
He stepped back and admired his handy work. He didn’t noticed the ropes that had slipped almost completely off Cy’s wrists. The fog had gotten thicker. Cy knew that Lazlo was on his way.
“Look you guys, the natives that survived were priests of Lazlo. We protected his offspring from the early settlers and he promised never to harm us. He won’t accept me as a sacrifice.”
Alyssa said, “We’ll see about that. I just think you’re trying to get us to let you go.”
The fog had gotten so thick that Cyrus couldn’t see Leon’s car. He could feel the ground rumbling deep under them. Lazlo was on his way. It was too late now to try and escape. An argument had broke out among his captors. It seemed Katie liked him after all. At the very  least, she didn’t to watch him get eaten by a giant gold lizard.
The pavement began to separate where there were already cracks. Leon and the girls backed away. The chair lifted, throwing Cyrus to the ground.  He sat up just as Lazlo made his appearance. His head lifted out of the ground, in front of them. Stepping out of the hole, he was as tall and long as a train car, but much wider. Somewhere in the fog his tail lashed shaking them. Up until now Cyrus had been confident in his boasting. Now he wasn’t sure.
The giant lizard’s scales gleamed under the streetlights. He shook off the remaining pieces of asphalt and flicked his long tongue at Cyrus.  Unsatisfied in him as a sacrifice, Lazlo turned to the others cowering against Leon’s car. He moved forward, crushing the chair that had somehow survived until now.
Cyrus stood up and calmly walked around the god. He grabbed Katie’s arm and gently pulled her out of the way. All of Lazlo’s attention was on Leon. His tongue flicked out again and Alyssa screamed. Suddenly, he looked at her as if he’d made up his mind. Without any more thought he wrapped his tongue around her and pulled her into his mouth.
Grunting once at Cyrus, he backed into the hole he’d come out of and disappeared. None of them moved for a few moments. It was Leon who spoke first.
“I guess we’d better cover this back up.”
Cyrus sighed. He’d been enjoying holding Katie, but Leon was right. So the three of them pushed the heavy pieces of parking lot back together like a giant puzzle. By the time they were done there was no sign of the sacrifice. The folding chair lay broken in a space.
“Leon do you want the chair back. It’s a bit…stepped on?”
“No, just leave it. Hey man, no hard feelings right?”
Cyrus looked at him and put his arm across Katie’s shoulder.
“Nah, we’re good.  Katie is giving me a ride home so I’ll see you in school tomorrow.”
Taking the hint Leon nodded and pulled away. Katie took his hand.
“Well that was a weird night.”
“It was pretty normal for me.”
“Really?”
“Stick with me, you’ll find out.”
She smiled and said, “I can’t wait. Let’s go.”

The Beach

              The yearly ritual began with a simple cup of coffee and the sunrise. Mornings were already
feeling a little cooler. The woman breathed the salt air in deep and relaxed, almost meditating. The
blue-jays in the nearby sycamore chased each other with a joyous freedom. She wondered if they could
feel the change in the air too. Finally ready, she set her mug down and strolled across the deserted
street. Her few year round neighbors were all still asleep or already off to work.
Leaving her sneakers on the wooden fence, her toes felt sand for the first time in two months. A
cool breeze played with her hair. The beach was welcoming her home. She made her way down the
worn path that would soon be a memory. Her feet alone weren’t enough to fight off the inevitable
build-up of sand. The drooping fence would soon be the only marker to the entrance.
Coming over the last dune, she surveyed the unsanctified land. Under the scattered debris, the
sand glowed yellow white. The city sent people out to clean the beach but there was always a lot of
trash they missed. She didn’t really mind. In fact, there was pride in the growing bag of soda cans and
hot dog wrappers she held. Halfway through, she had to shed the light sweater that she’d put on in
hopes of it being cooler. It would be soon enough. Her patch of the beach wasn’t large, but it always
seemed to attract the messiest people. She made sure to walk the whole thing. Reconsecrating it with
her joy alone.
It was only after erasing all evidence of the summer people, that she sank onto the warm sand.
The ocean sparkled in the sun. Gulls dove into the surf and flew away with the small fish they’d caught.
The tide rolled over her bare feet. She accepted the water’s blessing. This moment was what she’d been
dreaming of. The ritual complete, she could finally relax.
The silence wrapped around her like a blanket. She had only ventured here once during a
seasonal siege. The noise had run her off before she could even touch the sand. There was no too loud
radios or children playing to break the peace, now. Tomorrow, after the first swim of the season, she
would bring her sketchbook and work on her newest masterpiece with her toes buried in the sand. The
beach would be her’s until next summer’s invasion.