Chapter One to an as yet untitled Urban Fantasy piece. I've done no revising to this piece
|I was dreaming again.
I was in a cave, seated upon a high platform of expertly crafted stone. The walls worn and polished smooth, stretch far back and out of sight. In the distance, steady as a heartbeat, water dripped, the sound a constant echo. Light was supplied by sporadically placed massive bonfires, the smoke rising high into the air to gather at the cave's roof high above.
There were people, corpses actually, and yet I felt comfortable with that knowledge, almost at peace with their presence. As far as my eye could see, they shuffled and moved, feeding wood into the massive fires. I stood slowly, and every face turned towards me, every denizen of the cave dropping to their knees in my presence.
I felt power, coursing power, rushing through me. My own heartbeat accelerated, rattling in my ears like a violent drumbeat. A voice, like thunder, rumbled through out the cave, so loud it forced my eyes closed.
"Jack...Open the fucking door. Jesus H, It's colder than shit out here man."
I opened my eyes and could allready feel last night's whiskey reeking its havoc in my skull. Every nerve strummed with a dull ache like over tuned guitar strings, vibrating through my skull.
A fist hammered the door again, nearly shaking it in it's frame.
"I'm coming, I'm coming." I said, still bleary eyed and fighting the hangover.
I stood up, putting a hand against the wall to steady myself and made a mental note to stop drinking when the sun rose. I stagger stepped towards the door, pulling it open.
I was greeted by two things. First, it was ungodly cold out, four inches of snow blanketing everything in sight under a pristine cover of white. The sky, bruised gray, held the promise of more weather to come. The second thing, was Eddie Chase.
Eddie was my "emissary" for lack of a better term. A tall, wiry guy, face framed with shoulder length dreadlocks around an almost too pale face. He was dressed shabby, as per the usual, but managed to make it look good. Tattered and patched jeans, old black boots, bundled under a heavy winter coat with a fur lined hood.
I motioned him inside the small studio apartment, and pulled open the mini fridge beside the bed withdrawing two beers from it's confines. I tossed him one, and cracking the other, plopped back onto the bed.
"So, how's things Jack?" Eddie asked popping the beer's top and taking a long pull, despite still shivering from the cold.
"Things are things." I said with a shrug.
He nodded, taking a pull from the beer.
"Talk to Mel lately?" He asked.
My eyes narrowd just the slightest at him, and he responded with a wide grin. Melissa Solovyov was a touchy subject and Eddie damn well knew it. Granted, it wouldn't stop him from ragging me about it constantly.
"No. Eddie. I haven't." I said glaring at him, shaking my head slowly. Despite being a first rate smart ass, Eddie was the best, see only, real friend I had.
"So, what brings you here on this sunny, balmy day?" I asked after a moment, and as if to punctuate the joke the tinny sound of sleet hitting window began. It was going to be a nasty, nasty storm.
"Someone's asking for ya."
I leaned forward, raising a brow, my interest peaked.
"Nice girl too, real pretty. Doe in the headlights type, but a little young for the law's taste, if you follow me."
He grinned. I simply leveled a stare on him. It only fed his good humor.
“I think she's the real deal man.” Eddie said, the grin fading from his face.
I nodded, taking another swig from the beer. If this girl was looking for me, that meant she was on bad times. I make it a point to be hard to find, accessible only to the people willing to put in the work to get my name. I make it a point to keep myself off the radar. My utilities bills, lease, all that are set up in a way to lead a curious type away from, rather than towards me, thanks to a clever hacker who owed me a favor. I have no social security card, no driver's liscence, and a throw away pre paid phone that I replace weekly.
For the past five years, since I was twenty two, I've made it my business to help people in “odd” situations. Situations that other people either won't believe, or refuse to believe. Things the cops won't touch, and wouldn't be equipped to deal with if they could. Supernatural things.
See, the truth of the matter is that werewolves, faeries, vampires, ghosts angels, demons, wizards, zombies and pretty much every other thing that goes bump in the night from fairytale to myth exists and not all, most as a matter of fact, are not exactly what one would term friendly. I've learned that the hard way, and I have the scars to prove it.
“So what's her story?” I asked quietly, settling the beer on the floor next to me, the hair of the dog, chasing off the worst of the hangover.
“Well,” Eddie began withdrawing a small notebook from his coat pocket and flipping back a few pages, “Kid's name is Ally. Sixteen. From Maine. She was sparse on the details.” Eddie looked up at me, his gaze sober. “Kid was scared man. Real scared. Couldn't really say for sure of what though. Was like she had some kind of fugue going on. All she remembers is her and her sister and some other street kids tried getting into this warehouse in Southside. Place to sleep, that kind of thing. She woke up the next morning, found a coupla the kids she came in with dead in a real nasty way and a few just gone. One of em being her sister. She tried to go to the cops, they checked it out and didn't find so much as a trace of blood, hair, none of that evidentiary shit.”
He ran a hand over his dreadlocks, brushing them back from his face and for the briefest instant I could see the pentacle tattoo, smaller than a dime, in the center of his forehead at the edge of his hairline. Eddie was a witch. Not one of the new age, crystal peering set, but an honest to god, full blown, spell slinging witch. It was a hereditary thing he had told me once.
I motioned for him to continue.
“The cops gave her the usual speel about false reports and brushed it off, from the sound of it. She pushed the issue though, asking
around see if anything like this had happened before. Eventually she got our number.”
I nodded slowly, playing it over in my head briefly.
“Right. You know who she got in touch with us through?”
Another nod. Cyrus ran The Lounge, a seedy dive bar in Southside. Cyrus was a good sort, for a banshee. For the record, banshees are
fae, not spirits. Nor do they announce death, rather their call summons the one crossing over and they lead them onto wherever it is they go next.
“Well, whatcha think Eddie?”
“I think you need to give me another beer.” He said, grinning while he emptied the one in his hand. I snorted, and opened the fridge tossing him another. Once it open and firmly in hand he settled back in the worn, overstuffed fake leather chair and sighed.
“Dunno man. Sounds up you're alley, but it's awful sparse.”
“Yeah,” I rubbed my temples absently for a moment in thought. Southside was Faerie territory, and to be honest, I knew next to nothing about the Fae, outside of Cyrus. They were the ones I'd had the least amount of dealings with over the past year. Though, something like this didn't sound too much like Faerie work. Wasn't their style. Too blatant. If a Faerie snags someone, they don't leave a building full of corpses for someone to find. They just snatch and grab.
“You think it's worth looking into I take it?”
“Would I have driven over here in the middle of a blizzard if I hadn't?”
I grabbed a pack of smokes off the top of the mini fridge slash nightstand and lit one, taking a slow drag and standing. I paced for a moment, while Eddie drank, perfectly content. His second beer finished, he set the empty on the floor at his feet.
“So, what're we gonna do?”
I sighed, resigned.
“You got a way to get in touch with her?”
Eddie's eyes widened in mock insult, “Do I look like an amatuer?
“You look like a white guy pretending to be Bob Marley.”
He snickered, “Yeah, I gave her a prepaid.”
“Call her. We'll meet her at The Lounge in...” I looked at the clock again. “Forty five minutes. I'm gonna grab a shower. Don't drink all my booze.”
“Yes you. Asshole.” I said with a grin.
I showered, taking my time and enjoying the near scalding hot water. My apartment wasn't much a single room with a kitchenette and a bathroom. The carpet was hideous, the ceiling waterstained, the walls chipped and cracked, but I'll be damned if the hot water heater in this hole wasn't amazing.
The shower done I stepped out and dressed quickly in jeans, button up work shirt and boots. I gave myself a quick glance the mirror, almost on habit and eyed my reflection. Nothing had changed. Average build, average height, short brown hair, needing to shave, the majority of prison tattoos covered by the shirt. I nodded briefly and stepped back into the apartment proper.
Eddie was just hanging up as I stepped out, working on his, from the looks of it, fifth beer.
“How the hell do you put em away that fast and not get drunk?”
“Good breeding brother.” He grinned up at me and stood, emptying the bottle in his hand before setting it with the rest of his fallen brothers.
“She'll be there.”