Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Bearers

Olivia hits the ground with a sickening crunch, but she barely feels it. Her vision is swimming, her ears ringing, and it takes her a moment to realize she’s landed left hip on the pavement, her arms supporting her upper torso. Her jaw throbs with a dull ache, the site of the punch that sent her sprawling. She shakes her head slowly, lightly, trying to clear the disorientation. It helps, some, as her vision snaps back into focus. She is relieved to see Petalbloom still held securely in her right fist.

Slowly, carefully, she pushes herself up to her knees and then to her feet. Petalbloom’s Weight resists the motion, but only slightly, as if to remind her of what it is. She hefts it reflexively, sunlight glinting along the length of the 12-inch blade. With her free hand, she wipes a dribble of blood flowing from her burst lower lip down over her chin.

That should not have happened, she thinks, staring at the blood glistening on her fingers. Then aloud, “That should not have happened.” She turns to face her assailant, who stares her down mere steps away in the alley, smug expression fixed on his face.

“You,” she says, a puzzled tone to her voice. “You’re a Bearer?” His response is to spread his arms wide and grin even wider, as if to say, So? Only one of his hands is gloved, and she realizes, too late, that the glove itself is an Object. It is wrapped in that unmistakable aura of Weight that all Objects possess.

Which only confuses her further. “You’re a Bearer,” she repeats, incredulity replacing confusion. “And you fight me?” she asks. “Why?”

He laughs, dropping his arms and tilting his head back, roaring at the sky with obvious delight. Then he looks back at Olivia, his eyes cold and hard, all traces of a smile wiped from his face. Olivia notes a glimmer of madness in those eyes and feels the flesh on her arms prickle.

“Why not?” is all he answers.

“But, Bearers are supposed to be heroes,” she stammers, that note of confusion returning to her voice. “We don’t fight each other. We fight monsters. We fight evil. We push back the darkness wherever we find it. That is our purpose and our calling. No Bearer can claim an Object without first accepting those terms.”

His face turns suddenly angry, livid with rage, and she feels a cold fist of fear in her belly. His next words are even colder, like frost on a mid-summer’s day.

“Go be a hero, then, Olivia Childress,” he spits, and she tries not to let the shock that he knows her name show on her face. “Not all of us are meant for such things. Maybe some of us are meant to be something else. Maybe some of us meant to be antiheroes. Maybe some of us are meant to be Breakers.”

He turns on his heel and begins to walk away, and Olivia feels that cold chill of fear on her skin once more at that word she has never heard before but immediately recognizes as somehow being fundamentally wrong.

One final question escapes her lips.

“WHO ARE YOU?” Her own voice is deafening, enhanced by the Weight she bears. It thunders down the alley, bouncing off the walls. The ringing returns to her ears, nearly drowning out his answer.

“You’ll know soon enough, Olivia child!” His laughter drifts back to her even after he turns a corner and disappears from sight.


Fiction: Mob

Damion stands at the edge of the woods, just inside the treeline. His attention is focused on the house 35 yards away, the house that is surrounded by a teeming mass of the living dead. He hears screams from inside, cries for help from the poor souls trapped within. The home has not been breached — yet. But it’s only a matter of time.

He glances down at the two bodies still smoldering at his feet. Their presence troubles him. Sentries? he wonders. That implies intelligence, caution. Organization. It is a new development and not at all what he had been led to expect.

A new scream from the house tears his attention away from his worries. He whips his head back up to see that the undead have begun to pull several boards away from the windows.

“Time to work,” he says, stepping out of the trees. He raises his hands, palms up, fingers curled up to the sky as the first of the living corpses notices him and begins to charge.

“Come get some,” he challenges, and lightning begins to dance between his fingers.

Fiction: Beautiful Insanity

He is a tiny man. Under four feet tiny. Balding pate. Small eyes. Round, tortoiseshell glasses. Tattered brown suit. Nothing to look at, certainly, not that anyone is looking.

He glides through the crowd, clearing a path without word or gesture. People move aside for him, unaware. A corner of his mouth is quirked up in a bemused, crooked smile. His eyes are distant, focused on an image only he can see.

“Close, close. So very close,” he titters, his voice a sing-song. His fingers creep under his coat, and from his breast pocket he pulls a key, blue and cold as the winter sky. He holds it up between thumb and forefinger, and now his eyes finally seem to focus on something tangible. He giggles.

There you are!” he moans. “So lovely.” He leaps, somersaulting in mid-air, landing lightly on a young woman’s shoulders. She doesn’t notice. He jams the key into the top of her head and twists sharply, then leaps off and bounds away, laughing madly. The visions he just unlocked in her mind will haunt her the rest of her life.

Weight of the Kraken

Chaz raises the weapon he holds in his left hand. He can feel the Weight of it dragging his arm back toward the earth, but it is that very same Weight that allows him to wield the hand cannon at all. When he first claimed the Kraken, when he first held the Object that had laid him on this path, this disparity had been distracting.

But he has long since made his peace with it. The weapon is now a part of him, an extension of himself that transcends the steel he now holds.

The creature before Chaz barely blinks. It is indifferent to the cold gaze of the Kraken. It knows Objects of this type, has lain waste to their bearers before. Chaz knows this, knows the creature will not be easily dispatched, knows that even with the force of the Weight behind each bullet he fires the creature will not go down easily.

Chaz has no words for the beast. It wouldn’t care even if he did. No, he knows the creature respects only action.

“Ok,” he says.

A deep breath, then, his finger squeezes the trigger, and time stops.

Shriek

She accosted him on the sidewalk, as he was loading the last of his gear into the truck. He had just come from a client’s house, the last job of the day. He was loading his backpack sprayer when she slammed into him, nearly knocking him off his feet.

She was hysterical, weeping and wailing, clutching at his shirt. “YOU KILLED MY CHILDREN!” she cried.

“Ma’am…” he sputtered, trying to regain his composure.

“YOU KILLED THEM! YOU KILLED THEM! YOU KILLED THEM!” she screamed.

“Ma’am, no!” he protested. “I never killed no one! I’m just an exterm—” He stopped then, eyes widening with sudden understanding. “Oh. No.” He tried to back away, but couldn’t. “Oh, god no.”

He realized her eyes were glowing crimson — how had he not noticed her eyes?! — and wondered, What is she even doing here? There had been no forecast of a Shriek anywhere in the area for weeks. If there had, he would have, should have, taken the day off.

“YOU. KILLED. MY. CHILDREN,” she repeated, extending her claws.

He supposed he had.

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Grimnebulin

I shamelessly stole the name of the monster in this story from China Mieville’s main character in Perdido Street Station. Sorry about that, China — and thanks. ‘Grimnebulin’ is just a really kick-ass word.

——————

Greg set his tray on the table and took a seat across from his friends. The expression on his face was one of pure misery.

Tom inclined his chin at the sickly creature clinging to Greg’s back. “Still carrying that little bugger around, eh?”

“Of course he is,” Mike replied. “He still hasn’t gotten the nerve up to go see the old lady.”

Tom waved his fork at the creature’s fingers, which were wrapped around his friend’s throat. “Y’know, Greg, it looks like it’s dug those claws a little deeper into your voicebox today. If you ever hope to speak again, you’re gonna have to go see her.”

Mike snorted and elbowed Tom. “He doesn’t like owing the old lady a favor.” He looked at Greg. “Suck it up, old buddy. None of us like it, but we all have to do it eventually.”

“Seriously, Greg,” Tom added, “once she gets it off, you can’t ever get infected again. And, besides, her favors aren’t… unpleasant.” He looked away. “Well, mostly not.”

Greg just nodded and kept eating. A problem delayed was a problem denied.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Ritual

His hood is pulled up, casting his face in shadow. The bus rolls to a stop in front of him, and he steps on board. He ignored the driver’s terse greeting. It’s not like he means it. Years of driving kids to school has turned this ritual into little more than a Pavlovian call-and-response.

He walks toward the back of the bus, looking for an open seat. One of the upperclassmen makes room for him.

As he takes his seat, the upperclassman peers under his hood. “You’re looking healthier. Eating better?” he asks.

He shrugs. It’s not like it matters. He always looks gaunt.

The upperclassman notices what he’s holding. “They’ll never let you take that into the school.”

“I know,” he replies. “It doesn’t matter.” The upperclassman nods like this makes sense.

At school, he steps up to the metal detector. One of the guards approaches. “Sorry, Famine. I can’t let you take the sickle in. You can get it back at the end of the day.”

Famine nods. This, too, is ritual. School policy. It’s not like he really needs it.

Originally posted on Ficly.

Listen to Ava

Beth stood on the knoll and gazed at the broken city some seven miles distant. The voice on the city’s public broadcast system was audible, even from here, but distance diluted it such that it merely caused Beth a mild headache. Had she been within the city proper, that voice would have been enough to make her skull pop like an over-ripe tomato.

Thad stepped silently up beside her. “Any change?”

Beth shook her head. “She’s been broadcasting non-stop for five days. The girl’s not human.”

“I think that’s fairly well established at this point.” Thad’s expression was grim, his mouth pressed into a firm line.

The two stood in silence for a while. Finally, Beth spoke.

“They marched a 6-year-old girl down in front of the world press and held her up as savior. ‘Listen to Ava,’ they said, and then the first word she spoke literally blew the top off the heads of everyone watching.” Beth clenched her fists and fired her next statement with explosive force. “I hate that little bitch.”

Originally posted on Ficly.

Veni, Vedi

“What do you think’s in there, Rob?”

“No idea, Finn. Juice, most likely.”

“Juice?”

“Sure, you know, electricity. Stuff’ll juice you, sure as I’m standing here, if you touch it. Knock you flat, leave your hair all sparkly and curled and smelling like something that crawled out of a wall socket.”

“Oh.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“No, what?”

“It’s silly.”

“What? You can tell me. I won’t laugh.”

“Well… it’s just that…”

What?

“I wondered if maybe… it was possible there might be something else coming through those lines.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Magic, maybe.”

“Magic?”

“Sure, why not? Electricity runs back and forth in wires all the time. Why not magic?”

“Because there’s no such thing as magic.”

“See? I knew you’d think it was silly.”

“Now, don’t get all upset. That’s not what I meant. It’s just… you really think there could be magic up there?”

“Sure! If someone were to touch them, who knows what would happen.”

“I don’t know, Finn. That seems a little far- Hey, what are you doing?”

“I’m going to climb up there and touch one, see what happens.”

“Be careful! Those things might be dangerous!”

“Don’t worr- Whoa.”

“What? What’s happening?”

“I… it’s not magic, exactly. It’s something else. I can feel everything, I can see… everything. Rob, you should try th-”

“Finn? Where’d you go? Finn? FINN! There… there’s nothing here. Oh, Finn. You took it all with you. Where did you go?”

Originally posted at Clarity of Night.