by U.B. Schultz
This is where you can find my works in progress and advice that I have for other writers.
Welcome to my first post! It's chapter one of Trial by Fire from the first superhero trilogy I'm writing! Enjoy!|
The crunching of leaves pierces the crisp autumn air like a needle. I bolt out of sight. Man, these guys are like hounds! I don’t understand why they’re chasing me. It might be because I’m the son of the cruelest man in town and I didn’t turn out like him or that I declined their invitation to join their gang.
My mom left my dad ten years ago when I was five. I don’t know why she left, but my dad blames me for it. He was a different man before she left, but now he’s always angry and drunk, and he beats me. I’m done putting up with him. I’m running away.
“You can run but you can’t hide Tarquin!” Snarls the portly gang leader. I think his name is Antonio. “Oh yeah?” I taunt from my hiding space in the bushes, “Then how come you haven’t found me?” “We’ll find you soon enough!” Bellows Antonio’s weasel-faced cronie. They’re going to find me soon. There aren’t many places to hide, and in a minute, they’ll have searched the whole area so I dart over to a tree and begin climbing, the rough bark scraping my shins. When I’m about fifteen feet up, the smallest of them, Tank, notices me and squeaks, “There he is!” Dang, it.
For a moment, I freeze. Then, I scramble down the tree, knowing it would be no good to keep climbing. They’d make sure that I’d fall and break my neck, rendering me defenseless or dead. I’ve seen it happen before when they wanted Bertram, a quiet young man known for his strength, to join them. He hasn’t been the same since. I land on my feet and try to get at least a small foothold in the situation. “Haha, you found me. I gave you a good bit of sport though didn’t I?” I fake a laugh, trying to hide how scared I am. Antonio and the rest of the boys look at me as if I lost my head. For a split second, I think I have some sort of foothold, but their shock only lasts momentarily as they close the circle around me, cutting off all forms of escape. “No one says no to the Pyrokinetics. I like you, Tarquin, so I’m giving you one last chance. Will you join us?” I look from face to leering face and make my probably last decision. “No.” “I thought that might be the answer. Boys, take him to the hideout and teach him what fire really is.”
I dodge as one of the ‘boys’ tries to pull a sack over my head, but two others are a step ahead, grabbing my arms and tying them behind my back. I struggle uselessly against my captors as the burlap sack goes on. The next five minutes are silent as they march me to where ever their hideout is.
When we reach their hideout, the sack comes off, and I am tied to a metal pole. The men take turns ‘roughing me up’ which basically means each of them brutally punch me so hard that it’s going to bruise for weeks if I even live that long.
Once I’m beaten senseless, they decide that they’re done for now. I heave a sigh of relief although it sounds more like a wheeze because my face is so swollen. The Pyrokinetics laugh cruelly. This is worse than any flogging my father could have given me.
I was used to pain sure. I practically lived with it, but it only ever had to live up to one man’s satisfaction, my father’s. When he was done, he let me go, but these men, they would never be done.
They’re sitting at a table playing cards. Their murmurs float through the stale air of what I can only assume is an abandoned ware house. Not so abandoned now. “We’re going to have to do it.” “We’ve already put it off too long.” My head is spinning, not only from pain
but with questions. Do what? My lesson with fire? Putting it off? “Someone’s going to have to do it.” This voice is gentle, deep, and whispery. It barely carries even though the air is still and quiet. “You mean you’re going to have to do it Phobe’.” “But I-” “Or we can have Shred do it. He’ll be a lot less gentle about it.” A beat. “Fine.”
One of the men break off from the group and stalks toward me. His face is pale. So pale that it almost looks grey. He’s scared. Nearly as scared as I am. He pauses and examines my face for a moment then draws back his hand as if to slap me. I flinch and he gently presses the palm of his hand to my face. “I’m sorry.” He whispers and everything crumbles to black.
It stays dark for a few moments and then there’s a tickling warmth at the back of my mind. I smell smoke, and feel sunlight, but I can’t see anything. A bitter, acrid taste fills my mouth, blood. Heat crawls up my legs and then everything explodes in a whirlwind of fire. My right arm feels as though it was being poked by a million white hot needles. Everything smells of pain, blood, and smoke. I hear a gunshot, the splat of blood on the floor and then, nothing.
Sabrina: sarcastic, diva, ‘queen of burns’, can be a little annoying, gets straight to the point, despises fruit punch, interrupts a lot
Jasper: mischievous, video game nerd, confident, thinks of himself as brilliant, people pleaser, diffuses fights with humor, bored with movie’s plot line
Kane: sweet, patient, manages things pretty well, has good ideas, peacekeeper
Natalie: gentle, teasing, can be loud when she wants to make a point, hard worker, good at impersonations, can really become a character if she wants
Fabian: sensitive, fights with Sabrina a lot, acts stiffly, a little rude, loud, short temper
Director: impatient, wants to make it big in Hollywood, works with what she’s got, frustrated with cast, favorite word is ‘cut!’, do not touch her script, everything must be perfect, divahood will not be tolerated
Stunt Doubles: three boys, two girls, stuck on themselves, think movie is all about them and think their scenes are the best, athletic, fight with stagehands constantly, suck up to the director
Stagehands: two or three boys or girls, witty, fed up with all the fighting, do odd jobs, smooth over hostilities, make sure things run smoothly
The War for the Movie
Five actors, Sabrina, Kane, Jasper, Natalie, and Fabian are on a stage practicing for the movie, Supernatural. The director and a stagehand are below. The stagehand is filming while the director directs. The five stunt doubles are on stage right practicing for the battle scenes.
Sabrina: rolls eyes My name is Burn.
Kane: My name is Cassiday.
Jasper: My name is Glitch.
Natalie: My name is Naren.
All actors: Something supernatural happened to all of us.
Sabrina: I can move a three-hundred-ton object with a snap of my fingers.
Kane: I can travel at the speed of light.
Sabrina: Well your mind can.
Jasper: I glitch. Like how some characters do in video games.grins I guess the name kind of gave it away.
Natalie: And I happen to be from another universe.
Fabian: stomps on Jasper’s foot
Fabian: Don’t forget me!
Sabrina: growls We didn’t forget you brosowsky. We just didn’t introduce you.
Fabian: steps forward The name’s Fives.
Sabrina: crosses arms Yeah, yeah whatever. So anyways, this guy-
Sabrina: Fives can pick up anything and turn it into ash.
Fabian: stiffly That’s actually not what I do. I’m a shapeshifter.
Jasper: pushes Fabian and Sabrina apart Are you two lovebirds done chatting yet? gives each of them a knowing smile
Sabrina and Fabian: Wait!? What!?
Jasper: puts hands over head Nothing. Just lightening the mood.
Natalie: fake announcer voice Ladies and gentlemen, our two contestants are at a major crossroad. Two choices. Are they going to argue all day or save reality?
Director: shouts Cut!
The stage hand runs off to backstage with the camera.
Director climbs onto stage
Director: That was terrible! You all went off script and began to fight! It is in your contract that you will do exactly as I tell you!
Sabrina: It is also in my contract that there will be no fruit punch on this set. Why is there fruit punch in the party scene?!
Director: No more divahood on this stage! I will not tolerate it! Bring in the stunt doubles!
Stunt doubles come in with sunglasses on. The boys are wearing girl wigs, and the girls are wearing their hair in buns.
Director: mutters If I have to use all of these stunt doubles here as my actors to make it big here in Hollywood, I will.
Stunt double #1: flips wig hair So when are you going to put us in more scenes D?
Stunt double #2: puts arm around director. Yeah D. You know all of our scenes are the best.
Stunt double #3: makes square with hands Picture this: You on stage at the academy awards, named best director of the year. The movie has made billions of dollars. People are raving about it, and you. They all want to know what your secret is, and you don’t tell them, at least the whole story, but your secret is using the stunt doubles as your main actors and incorporating lots of action scenes.
Director: Maybe I’ll convince our scriptwriter to put in a few more fight scenes, but now, rehearse!
Stagehand comes back with camera and fight scene ensues between Stunt Doubles. Fight scene finishes.
Director: Cut! Nicely done. Now get backstage while I do more director stuff.
Stunt double #4: Sure will D!
Stunt double #5: whispers We killed it.
Actors file onto stage. Director makes stagehand sit in chair with camera, still filming.
Director: pacing You have all been terrible! Your acting is stiff. You don’t stay with the script. I have warned you all about not sticking to it-
Fabian: mutters It would be a lot easier if this one points at Sabrina wasn’t such a diva.
Director: I do realize that you don’t always get along, but I need you to focus and try to pull it together.
A crash echoes across the stage. The stunt doubles are in the midst of a cat fight.
Director: yells Stop it! I am trying to have a director moment here! Stagehands! Please go break up the cat fight!
Jasper: Cats?! The little devils plotting to take over the world?! I’m going to go help.
Jasper and stagehands run backstage.
Director: yells Fight scene!
Stunt doubles and stage hands fight. Jasper comes in with a rope and stunt doubles run frantically, Stage hands surround stunt doubles and grab Jasper’s rope. They then tie stunt doubles up.
Stage hands: We captured their stunt doubles!
Stunt double #2: What are we in, Spaceballs?
Director: Cut! I said break them up! Not tie them up.
Camera Stagehand: Well that can easily be done… takes out scissors and smiles maliciously
Stunt double #4: shrieks Augh!!
Camera Stagehand: What? I was just going to cut the ropes to break them up.
Stagehand #2: I think that you overdid it with the malicious smile.
Stunt double #1: I think she’s been under too much stress.
Stagehand #3: Yeah. Let’s make the rest of today’s shift a little different.
The actors, stagehands and stunt doubles rearrange the director’s work area and put director on beach chair. Director wakes up.
Sabrina: That was quite the shock you had.
Natalie: marching on stage All right troops! We have a lot to do! There are scenes to be rehearsed, a director to please, and fights to resolve! Let’s move, move, move!
Camera stagehand: salutes Yes sir!
Natalie: Don’t call me sir! Do I look like a sir to you?
Camera Stagehand: No ma’am!
Everyone then begins to change the scene to make it seem like a military headquarters.
Sabrina: Hey, so what am I supposed to do?
Natalie: Grab the fruit punch from the makeup trailer!
Sabrina: I would rather die.
Camera Stagehand: That can be arranged…
Sabrina: puts up hands Fine, fine. I’ll do it. Just keep those things points at scissors away from me!
Director: speaking to Natalie Wow. You really got our diva problem under control. How’d you do it?
Natalie: Well it was all Kane’s idea really. You should ask her.
Fabian: Also, while we’re on the subject, why is ‘Cut!’ your favorite word?
Kane is in the back with lots of charts and is currently explaining a phase of her plan to Jasper.
Kane: … so once the actors are in place our stunt doubles are going to go through a costume change…
Jasper taps Kane on shoulder
Kane: Oh, hi director!
Director: sits back No, no carry on. You’re doing fine. whispers to stagehands Can we film this please?
Stagehands close curtains.
Stagehand #2: Eight months later…
Stagehands open curtains. The scene has changed to where it appears that they are all at the academy awards on the red carpet. Actors, actresses, directors, and reporters are everywhere. Many of them are holding their awards and chatting with each other.
Reporter: I’m here at the Academy Awards and a miracle has happened! The War for the Movie has won multiple awards, and it was filmed, edited, and produced in only eight months. The movie has made billions! Oh and look! Here’s the director and her amazing cast now!
Director and crew and cast are making their way through the crowd and waving off paparazzi.
Reporter: Director Milliken, you have been named best director of the year. What’s your secret?
Director: My secret? Oh, as my stunt doubles said at one point: ‘My secret is using my stunt doubles as my main actors and incorporating lots of action scenes.’
Reporter looks shocked and drops microphone.
Director: laughs No way. I was joking. My secret is going with the flow and my amazing little sister, Kane.
Reporter: So you’re saying…
Director: Yes. Kane Milliken who plays Cassiday in The War for the Movie is my little sister is my co-director.
Sabrina: interrupts Wait! You just drop this whole information bomb right now and expect us to swallow it!
Fabian: grabs Sabrina’s arm Of course she does, oh queen of burns. She’s the director.
Kane: being mobbed by reporters Yes, I am an actor and part time director. No there is nothing going on between those two. In a word, complicated. No there’s not going to be a sequel.
Natalie and Jasper push the reporters out of the way so that way Kane can breath.
Natalie: Okay folks! I think we’ve had enough questions. We need to go support our director.
Jasper: Yeah, we’ve got to go. No I am not going to answer any questions. What, do you think I’m leaving just to come back?
All the actors join the director in front of a wall of reporters
Sabrina: sidles up to Jasper So Casper, you’re back! Where have you been all my life?
Jasper: What are you doing? Flirting? I thought you and Fabian were a thing.
Sabrina: Nope. Just making it seem like the romance in The War for the Movie is legit.
Fabian: Hey. Sabrina and I are not a thing. At one point in the script of Supernaturals , Sabrina was supposed to have this romance with the villain-
Natalie: interjects Alright everyone! I think that’s enough!
Director: gathers everyone Enjoy the show tonight everyone and good night World!
|A few characters from the Runaways Trilogy
Mimic: skinchanger, hitwoman, mentally unhinged, gained control from ABZORB, works for Antonio, uses any weapon
given to her, intelligent, likes to settle on a form with no face
Mulligan: double agent, crook given second chance by insurance agency, gives info. to runaways, 27, mockingbird, actual
name is Ephraim Monoterro
Gallian: Antonio's ward, odd, unsure of what he will do with his inheritance, kind, not necessarily innocent, struggles with
people, 14, tall for his age, matport, strong
Pepper: curly dark brown hair, works for detective agency, genius, argumentative, does what she thinks is right, fighter, 17,
investigating Pyrokinetic's activities
|An Open Window (from the Game of Power Series)
Splat! Thunk! The sound rang through the air of the quiet lobby. Jess saw it a split second before it happened. For some reason, Chartruse had decided to run headfirst into the sliding glass door of the lobby. It was closed, but it was so clean that he couldn't tell it wasn't open. He smashed into it, stuck for a moment, and groaned, "I thought that was open!"
|Sorry I haven't posted in a while! Here's a quick teaser for Book 2 of the Runaways
A Survey of Controls
Vanish: the ability to manipulate light particles around the user rendering them invisible to the human eye
Skinchange: the ability to shift one's appearance in any way the user sees fit
Mockingbird: the ability to throw one's voice and mimic other's voices with ease
Combust: The ability to manipulate chemical reactions to produce fire from the user's body
Mist: the ability to produce a gas that muddles an opponents senses
Nightmare: the ability to see the greatest fears of an opponent and make it materialize in their mental scape
Silvertounge: the ability to control weaker minded opponents through voice
|I run down the street as quickly as I can, trying to get home before dark. I stop at a crosswalk, panting,it’s sunset, the time when the monsters and creatures come out. I’m scared and sweaty. Not a great combination. The town is usually a beautiful and fun place to live but now at sunset, though breathtaking it hides an ugly secret. The light turns green and I walk calmly across the street, concealing my anxiety and as soon as round the corner, break into a full out run. I sprint all the way home. I sigh with relief, I barely made it home and the sun is sinking down over the horizon. I reach my hand in my pocket to pull out my keys and unlock the door but find an empty pocket and a hole. Panicked, I begin to knock on the door shouting, “Help! Let me in!” desperately trying to get my family’s attention, but they don’t seem to hear me. The sun sinks below the treeline and it’s pitch black for a few seconds and then the street is bathed in an eerie white light. I spot a figure in a black hoodie under one of the streetlights. Creepy, but not creepier than any monster could be.
Timidly, I call, “Hello? Could you help me get into my house?’” The person moves closer but stops a few steps away from the sidewalk, dangling my keys in front of their face. A wide frightening smile breaks out across their face and they say in gravely, croaky voice, “Aren’t you going to come get them?’
It's close to midnight. Something evil's lurking from the dark
I close my eyes and take a breath, then I open them to a scene I couldn’t even begin to explain. Grotesque creatures of every shape size and species. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
Under the moonlight. You see a sight that almost stops your heart
I stifle a scream in my throat before it could come out. I never should have stayed so late at the coffee shop. This mistake could get me killed or worse.
You try to scream. But terror takes the sound before you make it
I carefully pull out a flashlight, maybe the monsters are afraid of bright lights? That’s just wishful thinking on my part but at least I’ve got a little bit of protection.
You start to freeze. As horror looks you right between your eyes. You're paralyzed
I flash the light into the horde of creatures and the keys drop, clanging on the ground as a shriek rings from a bats lips. The monsters move closer, moving as one body, snarling, and growling. I’m done for.
'Cause this is thriller. Thriller night. And no one’s gonna save you.. From the beast about to strike
I’m paralyzed with fear and I can’t call out for help anymore because my voice won’t work. I quiver a little bit and step away from my doorstep, running to get over the fence to the back door, but the creatures have already thought of that.
Suddenly, an arrow flies and stabs one of the monsters through the head. “Stay away from the girl!” the distinct growl of a man rings out as yet another arrow flies taking out another monster. I sigh quietly, feeling a small spark of hope light up, but my heart sinks when the man says, “She’s mine.” The monsters clear a path to reveal a slender man in a cloak carrying a bow and holding a knife menacingly in his hand. He moves slowly and seems to have a limp but suddenly he moves with more swiftness then should be possible and in an instant he has cut my throat and I’m dead. Everything fades to black and nothingness.
A bright light pierces the dark and I wake up panting, in my bed, safe and away from the monsters. Still panicked, I survey my room and it finally dawns on me. It was only a nightmare. A nightmare that felt more real than life, I can still feel the knife at my throat... I think I’m doomed to die tonight.
I pull myself over the steep cliff ledge, and begin to find handholds on the sloping bank quickly. My muscles burn from the strain and my eyes are watering because of the wind. But I keep pushing myself. Today’s climb definitely beats any of the others I’ve taken, but right now I’m climbing for my life, so I don’t have time to reminiscence over this.
A gunshot cracks through the air, snapping me back to the situation. A gang of arsonists who’ve been terrorizing my home town are furious with me for having screwed up their last plan. The thing is, I couldn’t let them burn down the marketplace. It’s where most of us make or livelihoods, so this would have been devastating if I hadn’t changed out their chemicals they were going to pour everywhere for water. They found out it was me and so now I may get killed. The good news is, they have no idea what they’re doing. They aren’t even locals. The men have heavy English accents that makes it incredibly obvious.
The bullet pings off of the ledge about twenty feet below me as I scramble over the edge. I pause for a moment, panting, just to catch my breath, and run into the jungle. A resting macaw is disturbed as I run past. Ruffling its feathers, the bright red bird squawks indignantly and snaps at my bag. “Sorry little friend!” I call over my shoulder and jump onto a low-hanging branch.
I have to get to the highest ground as is possible. The Pyro’s may be slow, but there are about fifty of them chasing me so I need to get as far away as possible. A loud curse cracks through the air like a whip as I struggle up a large tree limb covered in green moss, tangled vines, and wait, was that-? It was.
Sitting innocently in the middle of a cluster of ivy is a bomb. I pick it up carefully, knowing one wrong move could trigger it. By now the gang is about a hundred meters away, so I put it in the pouch of my slingshot, pull it back, and it thwips through the air with a sharp whistle.
The explosive hits the ground with a soft thunk and combusts five seconds later. The arsonists were about fifteen meters away and were knocked over by the blast. I scramble across the branch and slip away into the dense tree tops. The green and brown canopy blankets my escape. The rustling of leaves in my wake causes a swarm of gnats to buzz angrily at their afternoon nap being interrupted. They buzz away in the opposite direction.
Moments later, I hear shouts of surprise and frustration. I smile. The rainforest floor is not a great place to be right now, what with all the deadly insects, poisonous animals and silent predators, and they just figured that out.
I see the girl I’m supposed to collect falling, falling, and falling. I guess Antonio’s lot got to her first. Smart girl though, making sure that they’ll never have her or what’s in her head. She is getting close to her death though, so I do need to bring her back to HQ alive.
I walk down the side of the building silently. Not wanting to attract anyone’s attention and grab the girl around the waist, halting her plummet to death. She’s panting heavily, and I would let her rest for a moment to catch her breath, but I can hear shouts, and we don’t have much time. “Can you stand?” I ask, my voice clipped and taught. She shakes her head, trembling. Heh, shock has probably made her temporarily mute, and it was foolish of me to ask. Nobody can get back up on their feet right away after a fall like that.
“All right then. Get on my back. Up you go.” I say this as I lift the girl carefully onto my back. She grips my shoulders so tightly that I’m pretty sure that my arms are going to be numb by the end of this ordeal. I walk back up the building carefully so as not to throw the girl into hysterics. I pull us over the rim of the roof of the building and we’re standing on top.
I hear the creak of a door opening and set the girl down. I spin on my heel to face the possible threat. I see a woman in a leopard print pant suit opening the door. She’s quite ugly really. There’s an entourage of men behind her. Dang. A bloodcurdlist. I notice her reaching into her pocket for something, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a blood vial.
“What’ve you got there witch? Blood? If you think you can control me, you’re wrong.” I snarl, blocking my charge from view. “You silly boy,” the bloodcurdlist laughs whimsically, “I wouldn’t dare try that with you. You’re much too clever. No. I have something much more effective.”
I tense, preparing for the worst. The woman smirks and pulls out… a knife? She must be more stupid than I thought! She throws it perfectly. The knife cuts through the air, whistling sharply. It’s almost as fast as a bullet. Deftly, I catch the knife and taunt, “You missed.” “Oh I never miss darling.” She drawls. I feel a tickling sensation in my palm and glance down at the blade in my hand. Blood is trickling down the smooth, steel surface. Great. Just great. I guess it’s the hard way.
I pull a smoke bomb out of my pocket with my good hand and toss it at the goons’ feet. Careful not to breath in the smoke, I put the girl over my shoulder, run down the side of the building, and disappear into the maze of streets and alleys. I can hear sharp voices and footsteps behind us as I sprint through Elbert Drive. “Where’d they go?” “They can’t have gone far!” “Yeah! He won’t last long! Mistress’ poison is fatal!”
I slide into the sewers and the voices fade away. It’s going to be one smelly trip to base, but it’s the fastest way there. Luckily, the water level is low so it makes for easy travel, otherwise, I would have been waist deep in sludge. In about fifteen minutes, we’re at the entrance. “Password?” The word rings out before I can even knock on the door. “Antonio’s Bane.” I breath. “Welcome back chief.” I flinch at the word chief as the door closes behind me. I’m not the leader. I’m just subbing in for him until he gets back.
I put the girl down gently on her feet. “Thank you.” She mouths as a few of the other kids lead her away. I shrug, and then, the world begins to spin. “Hey, can I get somebody to check out this cut?” A younger boy’s voice says as I crumple to my knees.
|As a writer, and an editor, there are a few great things you can do to really make your writing great and not tick people off as they read it. Here they are:
1. Always reread your work before posting. If you don't you may miss some spelling errors that totally change the meaning of your story, or grammatical errors that confuse your reader. Other times, there may be a description withing your story or piece of writing that doesn't make sense, such as saying it was dark, but then have the whole room described in detail and saying the sun shone off of a certain object.
2. When foreshadowing, don't make too obvious or obscure. If it's too obvious, everyone will have guessed the twist before it's time. If it's too obscure, than the twist will seem entirely out of the blue and that's just bad writing.
3. Don't be redundant unless it's supposed to add humor. I've read too many pieces where the author uses too many variants of the same word to the point where I'm about ready to just shut the book or put down the paper.
4. Stay on topic, unless it's supposed to create humor. If you are trying to set a mood such as a dark alley way and suddenly you say there's a bright pink butterfly, then your reader will be confused and won't know whether to think its menacing or a tea party.
I hope these help!
He was drunk. He was drunk again. My dad had been drinking everyday since I could remember, but it had never been this bad. Sure, there had been the time that he had almost jumped off a four story building for a girlfriend, but wasn’t nearly as drunk as today. Like the dutiful daughter I was, I always cleaned in the back of the apartment when he threw his big parties and had his twenty some odd lady friends over.
He belches loudly, and one of the ladies daintily giggles. “Oh David, you always do that at the right moments.” She was a blonde, curly haired temptress, and she was sitting in my dad’s lap . arms wrapped around his neck, and fingers entangled in his copper hair. My father, how was I even related to him, presented her with a small box, smirked, and whispered something in her ear. Then, they shared a kiss. I turn away in disgust as the other women guffaw like a brood of expectant peacocks.
I bet a ring was involved, a very special one. I can guess what’s coming next. “Veronica! Veronica” He bellows, words slurred, “C’mere! I wan’ ya’ ta’ me’ yor’ new mother!” I then hear a crash followed by glass rattling on wood. I sigh, setting down the plate I’m drying. Why am I not surprised? Quietly, I come into the dining room. My father is collapsed, snoring on the loveseat across from the table. The other women have vanished, and the blonde woman remains. Well, this is new.
She smiles and purrs, “Antonio’s sister, how long I have waited to speak to you. Veronica, I presume. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Marda.” I blink. Antonio’s sister? Marda? Then, I say, remembering my manners, “The pleasure is all mine. Now, would you kindly explain why my dad is drunk beyond comprehension.” She laughs, a light, delightful sound that scrapes in my ears and turns sour, “Dear, this man is not your father, but if you must know, I’ve taken a fancy to David, but more importantly, I’m intrigued by you.You should not exist after all. To explain my fiance's intoxication, I be very persuasive if I want to, so I convinced him to drink a few more glasses than usual.” She smiles deviously as I try to puzzle out what she’s saying. “As for the rest, he proposed to me tonight, so I sent the whole horde packing, so I could enjoy a little family time.”
I had my suspicions about her beforehand, but this only raises them further as she casually flashes the engagement ring on her finger. I grimace at the smell of her breath in my face. What did she eat before now? Garlic? “Your brother is an odd man with little mercy. He killed all of your sisters for your real father. He was supposed to kill you too, but for some reason, sixteen years ago, he left you here on this drunkard’s doorstep. I work for your brother, and I have a message to relay to you. Antonio wants you to come home to him. He’ll give you a good home, help you to master your abilities and so on. All I need is a small vial of your blood, and we can be on our way.”
I recoil as she moves closer, like a tigress stalking her prey. “You lie,” I growl, “I don’t have a brother. Any chance of that died with my mother in the crash that killed her. I will not be manipulated by your honey coated words and empty promises.”
I watch as her face contorts from panic, to confusion, to cool rage. “Now let’s not be too hasty.” she says in a sickly sweet voice like poisoned honey, standing up and licking her blood red lips, “All I’m asking for is a bit of blood. Nothing more.” I fight back a gag and ignore my trembling hands that are slick with sweat. “Stay away from me you sicko!”I shout this with as much force as I can but it comes out more terrified than angry. I back away slowly, keeping as much space between me and the enchantress as possible.
Marda snarls, her anger turning her lovely features ugly. She reaches deep into the pocket of her leopard print pantsuit. Her hand clasps around a small vial of something dark red. She then uncaps it and empties its contents into her mouth.
I hear a low moan. And my father staggers over and stands by Marda. “Oh dearie,” She trills, “Would you please hold our daughter still?” “Yes mistress.”Mistress? Since when has my dad called anyone mistress? My vision is tinted red. My breath falls into an uneven pace. I need to get out of here before I hurt anyone or someone hurts me. I begin to run. I run out our apartment door and down the hall. Dad lumbers after me. His eyes are glazed over, and his movements are jerky and unnatural. “Bloodcurdle*” I mutter, recognizing the signs immediately.
I turn a corner and find one of her minions standing at the top of a stairwell. I quickly realized that I’m not going to be able to make it. Marda probably has her guards at every exit. Lucky for me though, it’s a hot night, so the managers have the floor to ceiling windows open. This is my only chance at escape. I take it.
I’m falling through thin air toward the pavement. Plummeting to my highly likely death. I know that this is probably better than having my life controlled by that slimeball of a woman, but in these probably last moments of my life, I ask myself, what was I thinking? I reach out my arms, grappling for a handhold. I’m about to accept my fate when someone or something, catches me.
*Blood curdle: The ability to control a living being by ingesting their blood.