• The 19th Century Paranormal Investigator: Chapter 25

    I’d love to spend more time lying here, but there’s work to do.

    “No time to rest just yet, Con.” I struggle to my feet, my chest aching in such pain. “We have to find out more. This demon is down, but not dead.”

    Con looks annoyed as he sits up.

    “So what? We tie him up with that special rope of yours? Torture him to make him talk? Not sure how well that’ll work.”

    “Now that’s just silly.” I shuffle back towards my bag, hoping I remembered the healing powder. “We clearly don’t need rope. It’s incapacitated from its injuries.”

    Con shakes his head. “Okay, but what about talking with it? These things only speak that weird stuff. Unless they’re pulling from people’s memories, they don’t speak no human language.”

    “They speak Enochian, similar to the angels, but there are ways to translate that, if necessary. However, I don’t think we need it since you have a rather useful skill.”

    I make it to my bag. Rifling through it, I find what I had hoped. A small vial of a glittering dark powder. It can mend my wounds, and heal my bruises, but it costs something most aren’t willing to give.

    Luckily, I am not most. I pull a small pinch of dust out and throw it at my chest. The effect is immediate. Bones literally snap back into place. Blood starts flowing again through mended veins.

    The pain increases to unbelievable levels for an instant, but becomes non-existent soon after. I groan and then stretch, making sure everything is as it should be. My chest feels almost like new. Well, except my clothes. But I can mourn my coat later.

    “Hey, Branner. What is that stuff? I could use some after that fight.”

    “You do not want this, Con. It’s dried blood of the fae. It can heal wounds and extend your life, but it costs a bit of your humanity each time. The more severe your wound, the more it takes. And with you being half demon, you have very little to give. Your demon abilities will have you healed soon enough.”

    I replace the vial in my bag. “It’s time to get to work. Let us see what this beast knows.”

    I cross back to the mayhem the battle with the demon left. Not much could be done about it, but I’m sure the Doctor’s staff will clean it all the same. The creature that had been tormenting us was lying sprawled on the floor, pieces of his arms and torso missing from his body. So much was more visible now.

    Between the dust, blood, and outlines of wounds, I could see his entire form. The serpent tail fused to the humanoid torso was as strange as last time, but there was a stranger sense to it. Like it didn’t belong, even to such a foul beast as this.

    “I’ll need one more item.” I run to the pile of destroyed bookshelves and start sifting through the wreckage. The statue I was initially trying to get should be in here. After a short search, I find it.

    “Con! I’ll need you to hold on to this. It should help you acquire a connection with the beast,” I call back to the boy.

    As he walks over to get the figure, the doors to the study burst open. Several servants enter the room, followed by the undercook, and finally Doctor Maladar himself. They gasp at the destruction in the room.

    I look around from the destroyed bookcases, to large holes in the walls, to the beast itself, sprawled upon the ground.

    “I’d tell you this isn’t what it looks like, but I can’t imagine what you believe this to be.”

    I was not very gifted with humor, but I had been told it helps to disarm a bad situation.

  • Seeking Dusk: Part 14

    “Aluma, being so accustomed to the workings of these humans, would you mind showing us to the one called Alexander Matthews? We would have words with him.”

    Zadkiel exited his crater as the other of The Dominion did the same. He came right towards me, while Ariel went off to the side, seemingly to speak with Puriel.

    “Doctor.” Rand’s voice popped up again, unexpectedly.

    Zadkiel looked genuinely surprised. “Excuse me?”

    “He has a medical degree. He prefers to be called Dr. Matthews.”

    Rand! Now is not the time for semantics!

    “Oh, that is cute. Humans giving themselves titles.” Well, that was a bit condescending of Zadkiel…

    “He earned it! And his healing proficiency has saved your soldiers more times than I can count!” The fury of the human was beginning to show. Dammit Rand.

    “Oh, don’t be so dramatic. I am very grateful to one, anyone, who would serve The Presence, but the affairs of the hosts are so far above you humans. Your lifetimes are so short, as is the knowledge you can accumulate.”

    “And it’s that very knowledge you now need from a human, so give it a little respect,” Rand sneers.

    Oh that is enough!

    “If you two would please stop posturing!”

    I swear, whether they be hosts or apes, men are all the same. Maybe I should have used more caution around my superiors, but I’ve never been one to make proper decisions.

    Still, I gather up my composure and continue my mission. “Now, if you would all please follow me, I can take you to the mortal you seek.”

    “Not all of us are going. Zadkiel, Puriel, and Muriel will accompany you. Myself and Kushiel must away to other business.” Ariel spoke floating away from Puriel, their conversation appearing to be concluded.

    I give a bow of acknowledgement.

    “As you wish, Lady Ariel. Please, let us go. The sun is coming up, and our human friend is not as well shielded from mortal repercussions as we. He likely needs rest.”

    “Actually, could we borrow your comrade? The human warrior might be of use.” Kushiel spoke while studying Rand. What could they have in mind for my friend?

    “I suppose… Rand, what do you say?”

    He walked around, looking over the angelic hosts, inspecting what little trinkets and things he can see.  It was all a show of course. I’ve seen Rand do this before. Feels it makes him seem more perceptive than he really is. Does he really think-

    “I’ll go with them. Looks like they could use my help.”

    …I think Kushiel just relaxed a bit. How the hell does Rand get away with this shit?

    “Then it’s decided! Let us all away!” Zadkiel’s enthusiasm caused me to smile. Just a bit.

    As we flew through the air, the three Dominion that accompanied me kept looking around the city and making comments. Some thoughtful, others a bit condescending.

    “Look! Most of these buildings are larger than the Tower of Babel! Amazing what humans can do in a few thousand years!”

    “The females in these images are barely wearing any clothing… Are such advertisements directed at the men, or the women? And what is the secret of Victoria?”

    “The telecommunications implemented are impressive, but seem to be poorly utilized.”

    It was exasperating at times, but at others, it was amusing to see such powerful beings amazed at the technological advancements of these humans. They sometimes forget, but Lucifer fell because he couldn’t see their value. And it’s best if more of my brethren could learn to understand these creatures.

    We finally reach the home of Dr. Matthews. The sun is fully risen by now, but I can only hope he’s not still sleeping. It was a long night. We land outside the building, in an alley way.

    “It’s common human courtesy to rap upon the portal and wait to be invited in before entering,” I explain.

    “That seems frivolous! Why not just enter the building! Our matter is of the utmost importance!” cried Puriel.

    It certainly didn’t seem that way when you all sat staring at the giant television screen downtown for the better part of half an hour…

    “Please, this is their realm. It is best if we abide their customs.”

    I focus my energy to push the air in front of the door to give the impression of a short succession of knocks. There’s a shuffling of books and papers from inside as I wait for the man to open the door. When he does, he seems surprised to see me.

    “Aluma, what are you-“

    He stops as he notices my guests. Another human who’d never seen The Dominion. But unlike Rand, the doctor knew their significance. And he froze, unsure of how to react.

    “Greetings, Doctor Matthews. May I present to you, members of the Dominion order of Hosts. Lord Zadkiel, Lady Puriel, and Lady Muriel.” At the mention of each of their names, the angel gave a bit of a nod.

    “H-How do you d-do?” The doctor gave a bit of a bow, but kept his eye fixated on the beings of light.

    “We are well, thank you Doctor Matthews. Please, might we come in?” Zadkiel spoke with the joviality he so adored.

    “Of course!” The human bade us inside, quickly scampering about, attempting to straighten up and clean what he could for his guests. Puriel looked unimpressed, but Zadkiel seemed to delight in the frantic movements of our host. Muriel just kept her affable smile on, not paying attention to much of anything.

    “I’m terribly sorry, I wasn’t expecting guests.”

    “That’s quite all right, sir.” Zadkiel seems to have taken Rand’s words to heart. At least, I hope so. “Now, if you don’t mind, we have a few questions of you.”

    “Anything for the servants of my Lord.” As he spoke, Dr. Matthews moved his hand towards the crucifix around his neck. I could see him mouth a little prayer to himself and his god.

    “Thank you.” Zadkiel tursn towards me. “Aluma, if you could please leave us, this matter is private.”

    “Excuse me?” I can’t contain the surprise with a hint of anger in my voice.

    No but seriously, what the hell?

    “The subject of this conversation is not for you. I am sorry.” There was no twinkle in Zadkiel’s eye this time. I was to not know what they talk about here.

    “Of course, my lord. I have a mission to complete anyway.”

    I give a quick bow and float out of the house.

    This entire matter is perplexing me.

  • Mild Mannered: Issue #10

    I’m lying on my couch, holding my phone above my face. My eyes are glued to the little “Saved” counter on my profile on the Fantastik Comics website. In the time since I got home, the number had gone above 1,000.

    The front door opens and closes as Kara gets home from work. The unique jangling of her keys tells me she’s carrying something in her hands.

    “Jules! I bought food!” She yells out, probably assuming I’m in my room.

    “I also used the money from your account to do it…” she says more quietly, not realizing I’m on the couch.

    I don’t react to this though. I’m still too focused on the rising number on my profile. I have an audience now. There are going to be people looking at my art just because a stupid, haughty, well dressed stranger told them to. That’s pressure I don’t need.

    “JULES!” Kara yells up the stairs.

    “I’m over here.”

    She pops her head in the living room, holding what looks to be takeout. We probably should have just got groceries, but I’m not exactly complaining either.

    “What are you doing in here? I figured you’d be obsessing over your computer.”

    “I didn’t make it that far. I got caught on my phone here.”

    She sits down next to me, setting the bag of food on the table. She holds out her hand, and I place my phone in it.

    The light shines and flickers across her face as she flicks down to refresh the page.

    “A lot of people have been looking at your profile…”

    “Yeah.”

    She jumps off the couch, eyes glimmering with energy.

    “This is amazing! See, you have a following now! I told you your art would be good enough!”

    I snatch the phone out of her hand. I tap the screen, perform a quick search, and hand it back to her.

    “It wasn’t me. It was him.”

    Kara takes the phone and sifts through the artwork Tobias had submitted. She seems impressed, but her face contorts with furrowed brow.

    “I don’t understand.”

    I explain everything that happened at Michael’s shop while we eat. When I mention that Tobias has comic strips that go viral online, her face lights up with understanding.

    “Oh! I think I’ve seen one of those. Never really thought about who drew it though.”

    She pulls out her phone and starts scrolling through it likely, to show me.

    “Yeah, it’s just, I don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, this is likely the only way I was going to move forward in the contest. On the other, it feels wrong that I only got by on a chance encounter.”

    Kara finishes finding the comic and hands me her phone. It looks like someone else edited the word bubbles to make a funny meme, but I don’t think I get it.

    “You gotta relax, buddy. Successful people often work hard, but they all got a lucky break somewhere along the way. Maybe this is yours?”

    I finish scrolling through the comic and set her phone down.

    “But is this a lucky break, or is it just cheating?”

    Kara throws her hands in the air.

    “I give up. You’re completely hopeless.”

    “Hey!” I exclaim.

    Kara stands and walks away, taking her takeout box with her.

    “You’re hopeless. You catch a lucky break, and decide to sit there, over analyzing it. Do you know how badly some people would love to be you right now?!”

    “But I didn’t get there on my own! What kind of man am I if-”

    “What are you even talking about?! ‘What kind of man are you?’” She mocks. “You’re the kind who doesn’t know what he wants, and is too afraid to go for it when he does, and when he’s forced to have what he wants, he asks if he deserves it.”

    “I mean, you don’t need to say it like that.”

    She sets the takeout on a counter, and turns to face me.

    “What was the name of the last guy I tried going out with?”

    “It was Rodrigo, right?”

    I’m not sure what just happened here? What is her point?

    “His name was Rodney.” Her voice is low. Quiet.

    “Why does this matter? You shut him down because you thought he was boring, didn’t you?”

    “Yes! But you don’t care enough about me to ask why I haven’t tried finding someone since. You haven’t asked why I started picking up more shifts.”

    I wasn’t sure what to say. I’ve been sitting here worried sick about this art contest and Michael and I couldn’t tell you what my best friend was doing the last few weeks outside of work and talking me through my shit.

    “Jules, my mom cut me off.”

    “…What?”

    “She wasn’t exactly happy that I dropped out of college. We’ve been going back and forth for months, but she finally pulled the trigger.”

    “Kara, I’m so sor-”

    “I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear how sorry you are. I just want you to stop being so damn sorry for yourself.”