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Chapter 16

“Upsy daisy,” I said, calling my bike to the surface. I heard a slight gasp from Dru. I turned around with a smile on my face. Dru’s eyes raced back and forth, I think she was wondering where the hidden mirrors were. I didn’t take the time to explain it to her. I gave her some partial truth. “It’s a hidden storage area; a voice activated hidden storage area.” That was believable, right?

I gave her my only helmet as she hopped on without question. I fired the bike up and streamlined our way into the grayish dusk of the late afternoon.

She instinctively gripped me around my waist and I instinctively grinned. It felt nice. We raced down to the district and parked near the same spot I had the day prior.

“Stay,” I told my bike. It listened as usual. Dru looked at me like I was crazy; I didn’t bother to explain it to her. I hoped something would come up so I could show her my capabilities, instead of telling her. It would be easier that way.

We walked to the entrance of Night Shade and stared at the line extending around the corner. We didn’t have much time to begin with, let alone waste standing in a line with a hoard of gelled haired too much cologne wearing youngsters.

The bouncer blocking the door wore a simple black shirt, stretched beyond its physical limits, with the word ‘Security’ on the front. He was tall, dark and extremely muscular. He represented the standard type of person that worked in this line. We headed to the front of the line and I pulled a $50 from my pocket, hid it in my palm, and gave the brawny man a handshake.

He pulled the rope back and let us enter, much to the distaste of the crowd. It’s amazing what a simple piece of paper could do.

The club was loud.

The club was extremely loud.

Was I too old for this scene already?

There was a bar to the right as soon as you walked in. Three bartenders hustled back and forth but there were far too many drinkers than there were people who could help them.

The wait would have been agonizing for anyone with a real need to drink. You would wait twenty minutes for a drink and pay $12 for a draft beer, it’s easier to get drunk at home and play video games online. Online the people you cuss at have no idea who you are; it’s a win, win.

The lights flashed to the beat of the music. There was an outdoor patio on the other end of the building for the smokers. They huddled together, shoulder to shoulder. Not only were they smoking their own cigarettes, but they were also second-hand smoking everyone else’s, doubling the pleasure.

Lines everywhere for everything: the bathroom, the secondary bar outside, and even the DJ’s booth–It’s hard to get your groove on if the right jam wasn’t playing through the speakers.

Dru had a picture of her brother with her and we decided that the bar would be the best place to start; bartenders are the Wikipedia of the socialite world.

The wait had to be long because there was a line about 5 deep at the bar. Oddly enough it had only felt like a minute, the combination of the lights flashing and the music thumping had put both of us in a trance. This place should come with a warning: If you have history of seizures or heart attacks please do not enter.

A male, younger than me, very tan, and sporting a million dollar smile finally came over to help us.

“Good evening you two, what can I get you to drink?” He asked a little hurried but understandably so.

Dru took the lead, pulling the picture from her sweatshirt.

“Do you remember seeing this person?” She asked thrusting the picture close to the man’s face.

“Yea, Webb, he comes here all the time.”

“You mean he came here all of the time,” she said with uncontrolled emotion.

“Right, sorry about that,” he said.

It was my turn. Dru didn’t need to get too emotional, too soon. She pulled her arm away from the bartender and put the picture back into her pocket.

“Did you know Webb personally?” I asked.

“I knew him, yea. He would come in here with Deals a couple times a week.”

The bartender started looking around, tapping his fingers on the bar like he was getting impatient. The longer we talked to him the more money he was losing.

“One last question, was there anything unusual about the night he was shot? Do you remember an argument, new people around him, or anything like that?”

His eyes were vacant for a second or two. He was trying to replay the night in his mind. They came back into focus and he answered.

“Actually, yes, there was something a little different. When he came in he was with Deals and no one else. When they left, Webb had a blonde woman underneath his arm. She wasn’t a regular, but she looked expensive. Sorry you two but if you aren’t ordering a drink I need to get going.”

The bartender left and hurried to the other end of the bar. He started waiting on a big group of college students. Each student wore something glowing around their neck, wrist, and pretty much anywhere else. I didn’t get it.

We shoved our way through the crowds and made our way out of the front entrance, back to the street. It was full dark by now and the streets were getting crowded. A group of cross dressers were getting out of a taxi across the street, three business men were walking into a strip club called Night Stories, and many other types of people were going in many other directions. There’s everything for everyone here. And then some.

We walked anonymously towards my bike, focusing on our next step. We still had no idea what our next step should or would be.

“What did he mean when he said she looked expensive?” Dru asked breaking our silence.

I cleared my throat, not because there was something in their but because of the topic at hand. I knew what the bartender meant; I had hoped she did too because I didn’t want to have to explain it to her.

“Maybe she was just very pretty. Your bro looks like he could’ve landed any girl he wanted. He had money to throw around and good looks. What else could a woman want?”

“I guess so. I don’t think that’s what the bartender was implying. Do you think he meant she was a…a hooker?” She asked me, keeping on the one topic I wanted to stop talking about.

“Umm, yea. I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant. Sorry, you had to find out like that.”

“I’m not sorry,” she said. “He’s a good guy but everyone has their faults. I’ve always known he was a bit of a whore, a womanizer if you will. I never thought he would need to pay for it. I guess having more money could change a person like that.” She spoke very easy about the subject, something I wasn’t capable of.

We continued to my bike, once again in silence.

We were in eye-shot of our way home and slowly, at the end of the block, two, dark SUV’s moved like shadows out of the corner of my eye. They looked like gleaming eyes of a two-headed monster as they approached.

“What kind of shoes do you have on?” I quickly asked Dru as I turned toward her in a panic.

“Cross-trainers, why?”

“I wanted to know how fast we would be able to move.”

I grabbed her by the arm and headed back the way we came. The SUV’s roared to life speeding after us.

“Why are we running?” Dru asked in between breaths.

Before I could answer her, gunfire erupted. Guns were extended through the rolled down windows and bright flashes burst out. I wished they were just camera flashes; the paparazzi getting a close up of yours truly, but they were not. They were flashes of death–the bright light before the end. But I wouldn’t be so willing to walk into these lights.

 

Chapter 17

Errant shots kept ringing out, whistling by us as we zigzagged through the street. One of the cross dressers with high the super high heels who I saw getting out of the cab earlier went down in a heap. The pooling blood matched his/her sequined dress as it pooled around the lifeless body.

We needed to get off of the main street. I couldn’t have any more innocent people suffer because of my unwillingness to die. Even in my time of distress I put others before me; I hoped that didn’t get me killed one day.

Still holding onto Dru’s hand I turned right, down a side street. The massive SUV’s wouldn’t be able to fit through here. I wanted it to be enough of an inconvenience that they would give their pursuit up.

I was partially right; the trucks did stop, but instead of giving up the men leapt out and continued their chase on foot.

Six men jumped out in all. They were dressed in their fanciest Kevlar vest’s and night vision scopes on their pristine assault rifles. We continued our running and dodging techniques that had worked so far to avoid the constant spray of bullets.

“Where are we going?” Dru asked hastily.

“Wherever people aren’t shooting at us.”

We turned down side streets and kept moving forward. Behind us, our pursuers did the same. They couldn’t close too much distance but our stamina was beginning to slowly fade. Dru was in remarkable shape. If we lived through this maybe we could go running together. I needed to get back into shape. I have as much stamina as what I imagine a sloth possessed.

I was done dodging bullets: mentally and physically. I was ready to do something a little more my speed; something a little more destructive. Dru and I made it to the end of a backstreet.

“Get behind that dumpster and stay there.”

“Why?” She asked.”

“Because–I’m done running.”

I don’t know if it was because I wanted to impress Dru or because if I had to run any farther my heart would burst.

I scurried up a fire escape and dashed across the roof. The men behind us hadn’t made it to the street we were on yet. They were taking their time, surveying the alley, moving forward cautiously. They moved like a well trained assault team.

I was running as fast as I could. Considering I was already fatigued, my speed was a little slower than I would’ve liked. So I wasn’t done running altogether; I was just done running away. I made it to the fire escape at the other end of the building. It would drop me directly behind the gunmen.

I quietly stepped down the metal steps, which was harder to do than I would’ve thought. The cold steel echoed with the slightest of my movements. I managed to drop down to the street, behind the team, and continued moving forward, staying in the shadows.

Every step I had taken I made good use of. I was gathered my energy as I ran. I built up a healthy amount, holding it directly under the surface, ready to break through at my command.

The alley-way wasn’t even big enough for one car. It was lined with trash of all kinds. Broken bottles, torn bags, and what looked like urine stains decorated the alley. I forced myself to ignore the smell and tried breathing through my mouth. There would be nothing good to come from me throwing up right now. I readied my strength and focused my anger. I tip-toed closer to the group. Shhh, Wes, shhh.

I formed the blast in my mind, shaping it to the alley. It was like the alley was one big giant mold, and I used that, filling it with my power. Before the last man in line turned around, I unleashed my energy in an unseen blast of power; it swept through them…all of them. They flew in every direction, landing hard on the asphalt below. I rushed over to each of them making sure they were no danger to Dru or me. One guy, looking just like all of the rest, decided he wasn’t done fighting. I grabbed his rifle and hit him in the side of his face with the butt of the gun.

“That’ll leave a wicked bruise.”

Now there were new blood stains to go with the urine and others in the surrounding area.

The point man stirred but posed no danger. I strolled over to him; he was the only conscious one left. “Who do you work for?” I asked. It was a simple question and the easiest one to come up with.

He took in a deep breath and didn’t answer me. Dru had come out of her hiding place by now, her mouth wide. She should’ve believed me. There was no magic trick to explain what had just happened. She had been by my side when I asked the man the very easy question. Yet, he didn’t answer.

“It looks like he doesn’t want to talk Dru. What do you think about that?”

She didn’t think very much of it at all. She crouched down in a judo position and squared herself to her target. She let loose with a confident and practiced strike. Simply put, she kicked the shit out of his ribs. I need to stop underestimating her. At every turn she has been more than capable of handling herself.

“Easy lady, we need him to speak. He needs to be able to breathe.” I told her. I was secretly smiling; it was fun to see a woman of such beauty kicking the crap out of her would-be-assassin. She wasn’t as vulnerable as she looked. She had punched me already and now she was stomping on some thug-for-hire. It was easy to say I liked the way she worked.

“Pi…rell..iii,” he answered before he passed out. Of course that’s what he said, why wouldn’t he. Jace was everywhere but nowhere to be found. He was a ghost in my life and haunted my dreams.

“Who’s Pirelli?” Dru asked.

“He’s the puppeteer.”

 

Chapter 18

We left the brute squad to bask in their pain, making our way back to my bike as carefully as possible. There was a trail of bullet holes and the now cooling body of that poor cross dresser that would’ve lead the police to yours truly. I could already hear the sirens in the distance. There wasn’t much time to get out of here. We kept to the back streets and in the shadows. I grabbed Dru by her hand and held it tight, not for any reason in particular, but the contact of our skin, palm in palm, erased some of the tension that had been piling on me. Everybody has their breaking point, even me.

My bike was, as we had left it, shining in its two-wheeled glory.

We rode back to my palace in silence. Only the cold breeze lashing out at us as we sliced our way through the night air. Dru gripped me even tighter than before; I liked that.

We pulled in behind the church and both hopped off. I set my bike over its resting place and murmured aloud, “Sleep”. And it did. The earth swallowed it whole.

Dru looked on, still astonished or shocked by everything she’s seen. Magic was and is very real and it’s much more than cheap card entertainment and having your mind freaked.

I made sure to walk ahead of her as we went through the back door. I let the securities down silently and Dru remained unaware of how dangerous my defenses really were.

Gizmo met us as we entered the great hall. It was the first time he had ever done that. He usually met me at the stairs, but I knew he was there for Dru. You think that I would get the extra love because I feed him and give him a whole side of a comfy bed. But no, he was a ladies dog, and I would never be able to change that.

I don’t think I’m too different than Gizmo; a lady around definitely changed the status quo.

We walked to the kitchen and Dru sat down by the table.

“If you’re hungry I have some burgers, chicken nuggets, and some corn dogs. But they’re all vegetarian.”

“Really? I would not have guessed that about you. I can’t say I’ve tried too much of that stuff. But whatever you’re having will be fine,” she replied. Her elbows rested on the table, her face resting in the palms of her hands. I set a cup of water by her before putting a pile of nuggets in the toaster oven.

I downed a glass of water myself before popping open a soda. I just wanted to get it out of the way so I could have something with sugar in it.

“I like ketchup with my nuggets, what do you like?” I asked. “I also have ranch and BBQ sauce.”

I don’t think she was paying any attention to me or to anything else for that matter. Her face was still buried in her hands.

I opened the mini-oven and retrieved our dinner. I piled them on to a single paper plate and set them in the middle of the table. I opened another bag on the counter and pulled out two treats for Gizmo.

“Here,” I said to Dru, “do you want to make Gizmo an even happier puppy?” I held my hand with the treats out to her.

She looked up at me, with her mascara running down both sides of her face. I handed her the two treats. I left the room and headed to the bathroom two doors down. I grabbed a handful of tissue and headed back to the kitchen where I found Gizmo chomping enthusiastically and Dru giving him a simple smile. I handed her the tissue and sat down at the table, ready to eat.

I had already placed two paper plates down and with them, all of the dipping sauces I could find. She never answered me.

She took a bite out of a chicken nugget and set it down, looking lost in her thoughts again.

“What’s on your mind?” I asked her in between bites.

“Everything and nothing,” she replied. “The fact that I was shot at tonight and chased down the streets; my brother is all but dead; and the only thing we learned tonight was he left with a hooker on his arm.”

“I think the call girl is a more important fact than you think. There are ways to figure out where she worked. Everyone belongs to somebody,” I told her, eager to keep hope alive in her broken heart. “We weren’t shot at for asking a bartender some questions. We were shot at because someone thinks we know something. Your brother was targeted because he might’ve actually known something.”

We wrapped up our dinner in silence. Dru ate the one nugget and sipped her water. I finished the plate and my soda. I cleaned what little mess there was and opened my freezer pulling out the bottle of vodka that I always kept in stock. I slapped two shot glasses on the table and poured each of us a shot.

I picked up my glass and raised it, Dru followed my lead.

“To finding a working girl and putting Matt at peace.”

We drank the elixir together. Dru sighed heavily afterwards. It was getting pretty late. We were both beat. Watching someone die as you run from a barrage of bullets could have that effect on you.

“It’s late, Dru. We’ve earned a good night’s sleep,” I told her. “Please, stay in my room it’s comfy, and Gizmo will be there to protect you.” He would protect her but he wouldn’t need to. The defenses of this building were more than capable of dealing with most anything anyone could throw at it.

“That’s awfully sweet of you but I’ll go home and stay in my own bed. I know in a short time that we’ve been through a lot. But I don’t think sleeping here is necessary.”

I stared at her with an even expression set on my face.

“It wasn’t a question. The people who came after us today know who you are by now. I’m not taking the risk of you going home and being ambushed,” I said firmly.

“I don’t get a say in this?” She asked with her hands on her hips.

“No, I’m afraid not.” I motioned her to my room and she gave in. I pulled out a clean fleece blanket and a clean pillow case out of my closet. I changed the case and threw the clean blanket on top of the black comforter. I couldn’t remember the last time I had it washed. It’s not cheap to get a velvet comforter dry-cleaned.

“The bathroom is the second door after the kitchen. And please, don’t go out any of the doors leading outside. I’ve set the alarm already. Very bad things would come from that.”

“So, I’m your prisoner?”

“No, you’re my pro-tec-tee, there’s a difference. Please don’t go out, it’s very important. There are a lot of awful people out there, and they don’t like me very much and because of that I take my security very serious. So…no sleep walking,” I said. “Do we understand?”

She probably wanted to put up more of a fight, on principles alone, but if she was like me she was tired. I hadn’t led her astray as of yet. There wasn’t any reason for her not to trust me

Her shoulders slumped and she shuffled into the room. In the short time we had known each other we had been through hell and trust was the only thing you can lean on in situations like these. There’s nothing like being chased and shot at to bring two people close.

I left my room with Dru and Gizmo tucked into bed. And of course Cy, the one eyed teddy bear, and the giant tennis ball were there too. I left the hall light on in case she needed to get out of bed; I didn’t want her to stumble down the stairs in the middle of the night. That was one reason, the other being if she was fumbling around in the dark it could wake me up and that wouldn’t be a good thing either.

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Chapter 10

I shoved my skull key into the ignition, fired up the bike, and sped off down the street. Very few street lamps still illuminated this road. It gave the street an unnaturally dark feeling. It felt like I was in the woods or on a mountain side road that had no electricity. I felt all alone with nothing to guide me. It was spooky. The only light I could make out was coming from off in the distance, from the Neon District. They were spotlights shining from the heart of it all, the long arm of seduction.

I parked my bike on the street a few stores up from the restaurant. I pulled the key out of the ignition and murmured aloud, “Stay.” The bike had a different theft deterrent than the church’s door. It was simple really. When the key was out there was no way to start it. You couldn’t hot wire it, you couldn’t break the steering lock, and you couldn’t push it. I gave the bike a little more help when I worked up an enchantment to coincide with the anti-theft devices. It worked like the others. When the key wasn’t in place the bike couldn’t be picked up or moved in any way. It was the opposite of anti-gravity. You could have a crane intended for building bridges and sky-scrapers and you still wouldn’t be able to lift this bike. I left knowing when I returned my transportation would be waiting for me, in the same place, and exactly how I left it.

The neon lights highlighted the stragglers as they staggered out of the various places, trying to find their way home. It looked like they had made an unwise decision to have that one more round and they were paying for it. Cabbies lurked near by, coming and going with precision, darting between other cars and, on a far too often occasion, people. They staked out the hottest clubs and patiently waited for the last call; their meters were always running.

I found the entrance to Forever Dark…or Void of Light…or whatever the name was for the restaurant-bar-club-brothel-drug den I had finally arrived at. I tried the door and it was locked, the open sign had already been turned off. I started to politely knock when I remembered why I had come here to begin with…noise, and lots of it.

With my left hand balled into a fist, in my mind I imagined spikes six inches long coming from the end of it. I then pushed my will, my power down my arm and into the steel door. It was as easy as punching through a wet paper towel. The hardened door ripped from its hinges taking the coat rack with it. It slid across the tiled floor, settling 30 feet away. Now, that was more my style.

A worker came running out of the kitchen and into the waiting area to see what had made such a noise. I stood in the empty doorway marveling at the impressive work I had just done.

“What the heck happened?” The kid asked.

“I’m sorry,” as I spoke, I looked at the kids work attire and found his name tag, “Chris, but the door was sticking when I tried to open it. I thought it was a heavy door, so I gave it a little nudge.” I threw my hands in disbelief, it was my, I was just as surprised as him, look.

He looked bewildered, bright eyed and all. His mind was frantically racing, trying to come up with a logical explanation for the door being 30 feet from where it normally hung. The kid was the definition of gawky to me with his skinny body framed with his red hair, his slouched posture and his un-tucked shirt.

“How do you know my name?” He asked with a touch of squeakiness in his voice.

Ha. Poor kid was obviously tired and rightfully so; it was almost 5am. Either he was at the end of his shift or at the beginning of it; either way he seemed a little off his game. I’d better take it easy on him, he didn’t do anything wrong. He shouldn’t have been the one to deal with me.

“You’re wearing a name tag, Chris.” He looked down to confirm what I had told him. “I’m looking for the owner. I was hoping to catch him on his way out. Is he available?”

“I’ve never met the owner. I wouldn’t be able to tell you who he was if he was standing right in front of me.”

I exhaled ever so slowly, frustrated with life at the moment.

“Is there someone else here that could help us?”

The kid was thinking awfully hard for such a simple question. Maybe I gave him too much credit earlier, maybe this was him at his best.

“I dunno man, I just clean after closing.”

“Don’t worry about it, Chris. I’ll come back at a more appropriate time.”

“I can leave a note or something, you know, try to get a message to the manager,” he said, doing his all to help.

“Do you have a marker or sharpie…or perhaps a crayon?” I asked.

He dug around in his pockets, but to no avail. He spotted something near him behind the counter, grabbed it and handed it to me. It was a red sharpie…perfect.

The door, mangled on the ground looked like a pup tent. I used big, bold, block letters to write a note on the door, making sure they would know it was from me.

Wes was here

It was simple, effective, and juvenile. I liked it.

I tossed the sharpie back to Chris and with a bounce in my step I made my way to the empty doorframe. It’s the little things that kept me going.

“Lay off the drugs Chris, you’ll need all the brain cells you can muster.”

I left the restaurant, pretending to open the door as I stepped through the empty threshold. The sun had started to show itself in the east. It was still more-dark than light but then again this town had always been that way. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 11

The ride home was cool and refreshing. It felt good to do some damage. It had been a while since the last time I was able to destruct property like that. I parked my beautiful bike in its plot, said good-bye, and it disappeared back into the earth. I lumbered up the three flights of stairs and hugged my terrier good-night. I passed out. No dreams, only the passing of time.

I woke up refreshed and strangely happy. I went to the kitchen and poured out a delicious cup of coffee–extra creamer. I always make my coffee in the evening and have it on a timer for noon the next day. Even if it wasn’t that late of a night, coffee would always be good at noon.

Gizmo received fresh water and a cup of food. We would have to go out back in a little bit but for now he looked content in our “morning” routine. I turned the TV on and flipped to the local news channel…nothing. I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t make the news, but it would’ve been cool if one time I could be a side story or something. I should think of a pseudonym, you know a code name I could go by. Rick Deckard could work, yeah I like that one. I may need a good alias someday and that one would do fine.

I feel like I wasted a day. I’ve gone nowhere. Besides some light vandalism, I was still at the beginning with nothing to show for it. Now, my helpy-helper, Harry, has lost his cool and Eddie is–well Eddie is a dick. Speaking of Eddie I should go play my N64; Bond, James Bond–007. Top ten games of all time, all platforms included. No, no, I can’t be distracted; perseverance, dedication that’s me.

My left arm twitched. It was never a good thing.

Bang, bang, bang. The front doors of the church echoed throughout my home. Crap, I knew I was in too good of a mood.

I took my time going down the stairs, waking up, enjoying my coffee.

Bang, bang, bang. The front doors shook a second time.

I walked even slower, my guard dog at my side.

I cracked the door slowly, two police-people stood there impatiently. An annoyed look on their faces as I opened the doors fully, greeting them in my PJ’s which were the same clothes I wore earlier that morning, minus the coat and shoes. I hadn’t even had a chance to brush my fangs yet.

“Good morning Officers or should I say good afternoon,” I said greeting them with as much politeness as I could.

“Sir, we’re responding to an incident that happened earlier this morning. It took place at…” he flipped open his little notebook, “the restaurant, Eternal Night.”

“Can’t say I know what you’re talking about. I was here asleep. What happened? I hope there wasn’t another shooting. I saw that the other night on the news. It’s terrible, things like that happening in our great valley.”

The officers exchanged a glance. I don’t think they believed me.

“We have reason to think you were there…” he checked his notebook again, “around 5am. We have a witness saying a man in a black coat, that fits your description, was there. And his name is Wes.”

Before I could make up some lie, the officer’s radio went off; it sounded important. There was something about a high speed pursuit on the southern end of town; I didn’t know all the cop codes, but they looked fired up.

“Sir, we will be back at some point to finish this conversation.”

That’s all he said and both of them went to their cruiser and left, quickly and abruptly.

Well…shit. Am I the only Wes in this town or what? I closed and locked the front doors with my eight foot oak lock. It felt like I was securing a castle and that was fine by me.

The police had to be randomly going to people named Wes in a ten block radius or something. They were grasping at straws, right? Admittedly, it was a little nerve racking to think that they might come back, but my little shenanigans should fall between the cracks. No one was hurt and a door was broken; no big deal, right? Yet, I still didn’t make the news. I felt like punching myself in the face for using my real name when I ordered power and water and all that stuff for the homestead. I should have used an alias. Rick Deckard, how may I help you? The restaurant probably had to file a police report to get the insurance to cover the damages. I wish that little red-haired kid kept his mouth shut. I thought I was pretty nice to him overall. I gave him a story to tell all his ginger friends. If anything, I helped his life; a good story can do wonders for your reputation. Embellish a little here or there and say I tried to punch him, but he blocked it and threw me to the ground and I went off crying. I wouldn’t have minded if he helped himself.

I’m glad it was past noon. I needed an adult beverage.

On your mark, get set, and go.

Gizmo took the early lead up the stairs, but I was right on his stubby tail. We rounded the second floor platform neck and neck. I abruptly stopped half way up the third flight of stairs, turning to head back down. Gizmo stopped and headed back towards me–where I went he would follow. I quickly darted back up the stairs and passed him with a juvenile cry of joy. One word described how I felt…winning.

We made it back to our room; Gizmo sulking only a little bit. I collapsed in my recliner in the corner as if someone pulled all my bones out of my body at once. I had to get back to the beginning, the basics of the investigation. I started with the newspaper from the morning after the shootings. The paper, Heretic Herald, gave the shootings a front page spread. Usually you would find it on the back side of the page. It must’ve been a slow news day.

Two individuals, both men, were gunned down outside of a local nightclub. Around 2am the partiers exited the building and were waiting for a taxi. A black SUV with tinted windows pulled up. Two masked people leaned out and opened fire. The club, Night Shade, known for keeping the inside barely visible, declined to answer any of our questions. The club has resumed its normal operating hours after the police finished their investigation of the crime scene. One of the men, David “Deals” Hester, a local drug runner and dealer died on the scene. The other victim, N other information could be given at this time. The authorities are awaiting the contact of any family members before they are able do anything else. David is survived by his grandmother Pearl whom he still lived with. Anyone with any information please call the H.V.P.D. @ 1-555-276-6533.

I put the paper down. I felt a slight frown surfacing. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt anything to go by the club. Going to the scene of the crime is generally a useful tool for a private investigator. But, I’m not really a private investigator. There was a problem with that idea though. Jace’s place was only a block away from the club and though I’m not scared of him in general, I shouldn’t draw any more attention to my unforgettable face. I felt like I was in the same place as before. I was in that proverbial tar pit watching the world change as I became a skeleton of my former self. Yikes, that was a little dreary even by my standards. It must be lunch time.

My lunch: a PB & J sandwich on buttermilk bread, an apple, pretzel sticks, and a glass of water to wash it all down. It was better than it sounded. I ended up adding some peanut butter to the apples as well. Gizmo received a couple treats, but the bag was nearly empty. A trip to the pet store was due; he needed to relieve himself anyway.

The sun still tried to make itself visible through the clouds as we stepped out back, but like before the light couldn’t find its way through. It was a typical afternoon here.  The walk to the pet shop took 4 minutes on average. It’s quick and short enough that I didn’t complain. The pup produces a lot of strength within his little frame, pulling me the whole way. I’m not gonna complain about it, he saves me from using too much energy. I wouldn’t want to break a sweat.

Before us, stood a two story brick building with a small sign, handwritten with the name of the store, Pets are People Too. In between two windows, a single glass door held another sign declaring it open. Gizmo pulled us in.

There wasn’t another soul present except for the owner, Charles, a man in his late 70’s. He had thin white hair covering 60% of the area that it should’ve covered. His light brown sweater vest screamed old man and he wore it proudly. He was doing today’s crossword. He was always doing the daily crossword. His glasses rested on the tip of his nose, but not to worry, his slender, silver chain attached to each ear piece would prevent any damage being done if they were to fall. His trusty companion Charge: an enormous, massive, beast of a dog, rested by his side. The bull mastiff, one of the largest breed of dogs, looked nearly as old as Charles. Don’t let his lethargic appearance fool you, Gizmo would attest to that. He learned a very valuable lesson one day: never wake a sleeping bear or in his case a bull mastiff.

Charles greeted us with a genuine smile, few that had ever been directed towards me, (even though I knew it was mostly meant for Gizmo).

The quaint shop looked out of place in the Valley. It belonged in the country side, off of a dirt road, nestled under a sycamore tree. Charles exuded that country, grandfather appeal.

The pet store never sold any pets, it only provided you with the tools and supplies to take care of the ones you already had. Charles did have a fish tank in the middle of the shop with a school of fish in it: a white angel fish, many goldfish, guppies, and a clown fish like ‘Nemo’. These fish were not for sale, this was Charles personal tank.

An aisle on each side of the tank held the various dog and cat supplies. One of the walls was dedicated for fish and the other for rabbits and various vermin. The back aisle had been dedicated to our products. It was our very own special wall.

“Good afternoon Charles, how are you doing today?”

“Hello Gizmo. Hello Wes. I am doing as well as the last time I suppose. I’m still able to get up every morning, open the doors, and go about my business.”

“The little tyke here ran out of treats. Are they still on the back wall?” I asked knowing the answer. “His puppy chow should still have over a week left, so only the treats for today.”

“He looks a little portly, maybe you’ve been giving him too many of those treats. And yes they are on the same wall as last time,” He answered with a smirk.

Gizmo wasn’t portly. He could run circles around any person or any dog for that matter. I have to cheat just to beat him up or down the stairs. And I’m sort of fit.

“Don’t say that Charles. He already has one complex, he doesn’t need another.”

I went over to Charge and gave him some firm pets and how-do-you-do’s before finding my way to the back wall and to the pup’s veggie-friendly treats. Gizmo went to Charge tentatively, giving him a quick lick and a wag of his tail before joining me to pick out his snacks. Last time he had the fake-fish snacks, this time I picked the fake-chicken flavored snacks but the dog in command brought over the bacon flavored snacks. I couldn’t say no, they were shaped like real bacon.

We made our way back to the counter. Charles was still working on the daily crossword. Like I said, he was a typical old man.

“There you go sir, just the snacks.” I said interrupting his concentration.

“Huh? Oh, yes you’re still here. Sorry, today’s questions are harder than usual,” he said motioning to the newspaper.

“What are you stuck on? Maybe this young gun can get his good deed out of the way early today.”

“We’ll see about that, Wes. It’s 12 down. I can’t for the life of me think of the answer.”

“If you think any harder that vein in your forehead may burst, you better relax and let me have a look.”

“Fine, kid, here’s the question,” he said. “The now destroyed home planet of Princess Leia. It’s 8 letters.”

I shook my head and laughed. He pulled one over on me, there wasn’t much else I could’ve done but smiled.

“Good one old man. You got me. If you didn’t want my help you could’ve just said so. I can always help an old lady get through an intersection later or something. I don’t need your help fulfilling my self-appointed daily quota for good deeds.”

“What?” He asked abruptly. “No, that is the question. I’m not trying to trick you,” he said seriously. He looked down his wrinkled nose, “Who is Princess Leia?” He asked pronouncing her name incorrectly.

My jaw dropped. Whatever look I had on my face wouldn’t have been enough to display my shock. Even in his late 70’s he should have known the answer to that question. The original Star Wars movies are the most widely known trilogy of all-time. It hurt me to know there were still people out there that hadn’t experienced the “force”.

“If you really are being serious Charles, the answer is ‘Alderaan’. The home planet of Princess Leia is Alderaan. I would love to go into great detail about the movie but I’m afraid the information would fall on deaf ears.”

“Huh?” He asked turning an ear to me.

“I said, the answ…” he interrupted me before I could finish.

“I know what you said. I heard you loud and clear.” He said with a smile. “Please don’t go on about anything though; I’m too old to learn new things.”

I nodded in agreement. “That’s very true.”

I try to forget how this store stayed open on our desolate street, but if it wasn’t for me our favorite little pet shop would’ve been long gone by now. I only wished that we hadn’t met under such circumstances.

Shortly after I found myself with a dog, I found the store. I started going there almost every day getting something for the puppy. Gizmo was as demanding then as he is now. On one of our daily trips we came in to find Charles behind the counter, but he wasn’t doing the crossword; he was on the ground, bleeding.  It turned out he had been pistol-whipped. The butt of the gun split the middle of his forehead, causing blood to spurt out of the two inch gash. He had been going in and out of unconscious. I remember seeing the faint white coloration of his skull in between the rag changes.

I waited for the paramedics to show up, doing the best I could until they arrived. His dog, Charge, had been locked up in the back room. By the time I let him out the door had all been knocked off of its hinges. Charge had two nails ripped out of his left paw and one out of his right. He never stopped trying to get to Charles, to his family. From that day on nothing would keep Charge away from Charles. I doubt Death himself could.

When Charles returned from the hospital two days later I went over to the store to see if I could help. He gave me the same details as he did two days earlier while we were waiting for the police: two men, both wore masks, one talked with an English accent, and the gun was a revolver—a big one.

The police told him they weren’t very hopeful if no one else were to come forward. The police never particularly cared about this part of the valley; except if someone broke down a door and then left without further incident. If that sort of thing happened they would get that case solved A.S.A.P.

I asked Charles to walk me through the robbery, step by step.

It happened very quickly. They came in waiving the gun, ordering Charles to put Charge in the back room. He did. When he made it back, the one with the English accent smashed the butt of the gun straight down on his head. He fell back behind the counter in a heap on the floor. The other assailant went to the register and hit his hand on the top of it when it stuck halfway open. He snatched the $100 or so that had been in the register. The robber looked down at Charles bleeding and as if he was trying to add lemon juice to his wounds, he ripped the wedding band off of Charles finger.

Charles remembered that the bastard cut himself; an important fact that he hadn’t remembered until that moment. The thief had cut himself hitting the register. Blood…blood was good. I could do something with that.

Magic, energy, aura, or whatever you want to call it, lives inside of everyone. Small, trace amounts in most people but in cases like mine, it thrives and empowers me to be able to do extraordinary things. One of those things is being able to locate anyone, anywhere if provided with a sample of their DNA, their energies fingerprint. And there are no two alike.

I gathered the dried blood from the register and placed it in the middle of my left palm and closed it. I shut my eyes and relaxed, focusing on the energy I felt pulsing on my palm.

It hit me in the face like a freight train. I could see the path this coward had taken to get to the shop. I could’ve seen his whole life if I had wanted to but all I cared about was his location then, right then and there.

He lived close to the shop, within 2 miles. I should’ve taken a minute to think about what I was going to do, but I didn’t. Instead, I made a direct line for the apartment that he was in; the second floor of a three story complex. Shabby and run down but mostly occupied. His name was Scott Miller.

 

 

 

Chapter 12

Apartment 26.

I stared at the mustard-colored paint peeled door. I could feel him in there. I would always be able to feel his breath crawling on my skin if he was anywhere near me. It was the cost of taking his blood. I didn’t knock, I knew he was home. I kicked it in and let my rage wash over me. He sat on his torn couch eating a bowl of fruit loops. Even bad guys liked fruit loops. He was scared and I could feel it. I wasn’t in to torturing people but I knew the longer it took for me to talk it would be like pulling his finger nails off…one…by one.

I waited…and waited some more. I waited until he was prime for what I was about to say.

“You hurt a friend of mine,” I said through clenched teeth. “I don’t have many friends so when something like this happens to one of them I take it very personally.”

“Please, take anything you want, just leave me alone.” He said sinking into his couch, motioning around the apartment, spilling his milk on his already dirty t-shirt.

“Scott, it won’t be that easy. How do I know you won’t be out there tomorrow night? How do I know you will change? There’s only one way I will be sure.”

“I’ll turn myself in man. Call the cops, I’ll confess.”

“Not good enough.”

I closed in on him and grabbed him by the throat with my work hand. I squeezed and he couldn’t do anything about it. Although, it wasn’t for his lack of trying; I was abnormal. I put my mouth as close to his ear as I could and whispered. “I can always find you–remember that.” I lifted him from the floor and threw him against the wall. He landed awkwardly and I heard a snap. He screamed in agony and I didn’t care. His foot pointed in the wrong direction, a moment of satisfaction entered my mind.

“I need you to tell me your partner’s name, Scott. I need to have a conversation with him,” I said, my eyes fixed on his watery ones. “I know he was the one who hit the old man in the skull. The only reason you’re in one piece is because you weren’t.”

Through his tears he answered me.

“I don’t know who he was man. He came to me and asked if I wanted to make an easy $500. All I had to do was help him knock over a pet store. It sounded easy, so I said yes.”

“Why pay you so much? All you stole was a fifth of that and a wedding ring. Speaking of which, where is the ring?” I asked.

He pointed to the top of the T.V. where a tin container sat on top. I went over and lifted the lid. A simple gold ring, dull and dented, rested inside. It hadn’t been forged in Mt. Doom, or meant to rule them all, but it was special to the man who it was taken from. I grabbed it and stuffed it in my front pocket.

“What about the man with the English accent?”

“I don’t know where to find him, I already told you that. All I know is what he called himself.”

“And what was that?”

“King, he’s called King.”

I walked over to him. “You are leaving this valley tonight. Don’t come back. I’ll know if you do, I’ll always know. Every day you stay in my town a new bone of yours will be broken. Every day I will shatter a bone like I was snapping a pencil in two. Today it was your ankle, tomorrow who knows what I will feel like smashing.” I punched him across his temple and grabbed his cell phone. I flipped through it but nothing with the name King; I wrote a few numbers down just in case. I tossed the phone towards Scott, who was “sleeping”, and I strode away. When he woke up he could call for help. I wasn’t going to do it for him.

I returned to Charles and gave him his wedding band back. His wife passed away 8 years earlier from a heart attack. They never had any kids. All he had had in this world had been taken from him, except for his ring. His devotion to her was everlasting. When I gave him his ring back he lost control of all emotions, crying from his beloved’s memory.

I gave him my word that I would be there to protect him and to ensure that nothing like that would never happen to him again. I gave him a vial with a piece of my hair and a piece of my magic sealed inside. It was a way for him to call me if he was ever in need of my assistance again. It worked like a fire alarm: first break glass and alarm will sound. I would know immediately once the vial had been broken. So far there had been no need for such measures.

I’ve still never found who this King character is and it eats away at me every day. There will be a day where we meet and for me that day couldn’t come soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

The walk home had been a blur. I could only remember parts of it. I’ve known this day would eventually come, but I suppose I could’ve never fully prepared for it. There’s only one thing I knew for certain…I needed some mouth wash.

I shuffled around the outside of the church and made it to the back door. Using the front door attracted unwanted attention and if anyone was on my street they wouldn’t be around for long.  A little discretion never hurt anyone. Plus, the front door was locked from the inside with an eight foot piece of solid oak. If I was ever in a hurry I might be able to blast it open, but I doubt it would ever come to that. The rear door was far more secure than the front door could ever be.

The back door had a key that only I possessed. Everyone in the world has an energy that they emit; some people refer to them as auras. I have an unnatural amount of energy and can control it, manipulating the elements. That’s what makes me special.  My energy acts like a fingerprint, unique to my body and my body alone. I infused the door with my power, my DNA so only I would be allowed to enter. I’m able to turn off my defenses with a simple thought, unlocking the bond that the door and I have, allowing other people to enter unharmed.

Somebody could physically open the door, but they wouldn’t like what would happen when they tried to cross the threshold–a little hint– their heart would explode. That was actually a big hint. They would be dead instantly. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make a half-assed booby trap when using my own energy. It’s all or nothing. With the additional power that flowed through the church, it took a minimal amount of my own power to complete the process. Moral of the story would be not to enter, pretend you’re a vampire, and make sure that you’re invited in.

I had a scare once. An alarm had been triggered in my head; I raced down the stairs and through the kitchen. I went to the back door to find it painted with a fresh coat of crimson blood, hair, and guts splattered on the walls, floor, and ceiling. It turned out I hadn’t latched the door securely and the wind had convinced it open. A poor raccoon, looking for fresh food instead of the spoiled in the dumpster, unknowingly walked through the wrong doorway.

The lower half of his body remained outside. The upper half had been sprayed about. It had looked like a giant, red ink blot. I wonder if I’d looked hard enough I would’ve been able to see a butterfly. A faint, pink hue still remained as a constant reminder of the power–the death, I controlled. And to always make sure the door has been closed securely and dead bolted properly.

I’d infused the door with my power so only I would be allowed to enter it. I was happy that my defenses worked, I just wished I had someone to clean it up for me. If something larger had come through I don’t think the result would’ve been the same, or at least I hoped not. I wanted security, not someone’s insides all over my entry way.

I lugged myself up the three flights of stairs and threw myself on the bed, exhausted and frustrated. It was only a little after 10pm, but I was beat. I was in need of a cat nap. I wouldn’t have been able to go to bed this early, plus there’s a lot more I still needed to do tonight. Gizmo tried to persuade me out of bed to walk him, but it fell on deaf ears. I told him, “Not now, daddy…needs…his…re…”

I woke up to a whimper and a lick over the scar on the side of my head. I slept for an hour or so and arose feeling a little better. The first thing I needed to do was take the poor puppy dog outside, so he could handle his business. When we were finished, we went back inside and to the room next to ours. The fridge and microwave were both there, in my make shift kitchen. There was a real kitchen on the ground floor, but it was too big and it was all the way downstairs. Throwing up really emptied me out, I was in desperate need to be refilled. I’m a vegetarian, that’s right; I carry a taser and I don’t eat meat. I love animals, why would I want to eat them? It could have been the orphanage meat that really turned me off from it. They plopped some pretty gross stuff on the plates at meal time.

I placed a fake burger in the toaster oven along with the bun. I added pepper-jack cheese, mayo, and ketchup when the oven dinged. That was all, no lettuce or tomatoes or onions. I’m a pretty lousy veg-head. I grabbed a Pepsi and some potato chips to complete the meal. Gizmo was a veggie lover also. He received a cup of food and two protein based snausages, meat-free of course. The pet shop carried a full line of meat-free treats for him. Like I said before, they love us.

We made our way back to the room food in hand. The whole time the only thing I could think about was what was to be done next. There had to be someone, somewhere I could talk to or intimidate for some answers. I understood Pirelli was behind the hit, but he was behind everything criminal. There’s an endless list of questions that needed to be answered. I fear there’s a lot more to this than I anticipated.

I inhaled my food; I think I chewed some of it. I decided to go where I always went when I needed to think…online gaming. I chose to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the PS3. Nothing cleared my head better than tactical war games. An hour of kicking ass and still I was lost. I suppose I have no other choice. It was time to wake the beast. I grabbed a few things: CD player, a CD; Mozart’s classic masterpieces, and Gizmos ball. Then, both of us headed to the roof.

Gizmo decided he wanted to race me up the stairs. And yes he won. He has four legs, I only have two, and my center of gravity is horrible compared to his. Plus he tripped me half way up here, so I think I will have to disqualify him and name the runner up the winner, (is that me?).

Before we went through the door I put my game face on. We stepped through the steel door and made our way across the roof to Harry. I threw the ball for the pooch and he went running after it. It was better to have him somewhere else instead of annoying the already grumpy gargoyle.

“So, I threw up this evening.” I said, started the conversation on an interesting note. I thought it might grab his attention. “It was as gross as I remembered it being; it was relieving, but gross.”

“Ha. Did you walk by a mirror or something?” Harry, all too cheerfully, replied.

He seemed to be in a pleasant mood and that was never a good thing. Usually, it meant something bad was in my near future. “Ahhh, good one,” I said with a horrible feeling rising in my gut. “Why are you in a good mood?”

“No reason Wes. I’m just enjoying this breezy night.”

“Can you even feel the breeze?” I asked.

“In some form, yes; here comes the mutt.”

Gizmo ran up to me, the big ball in his mouth, but covering his eyes. He didn’t seem too bothered by it. I retrieved the ball from the dog’s mouth and threw it again. He happily chased after it once again.

“Harry, why do I feel like I’m going to throw up again?”

As soon as I finished my sentence, the temperature that surrounded me had plummeted. It had been cool outside, but in a nice way, now with every breath I exhaled a white mist would appear. Before I could react to the changed around me, it was already too late. Whatever weird sensation I had been feeling before intensified in seconds. Harry, in a way I still don’t know how, struck at me with a furious vengeance. He had to have been storing his remaining energy, bit by tiny bit, waiting for the most opportune time, and that time had come. I had been under the impression that it wasn’t possible to do such a thing. I had been wrong.

His raw power surpassed anything I’d ever thought he would’ve been capable of. It was crippling. Through the tiniest crack in my defense he was able to plan an escape. He was trying to break through the front gate and I the gatekeeper. In moments I was frozen. My body stuck, unable to move, my eyes wide open unable to blink. My mouth, mid-open, awaited its next breath.

My heart stopped. The familiar beat to which my body lived to was no longer there. Through my chest cavity an invisible hand had cut through my defenses, through my skin, and gripped my heart, as easily as grasping an apple out of a tree. Harry pressed his thoughts into my own.

His voice was in my head now. There wasn’t an audible sound. There was no noise to be heard and yet I heard. It felt like we were becoming one being, he was after all a body snatcher. Harry and I had always communicated verbally. I could always hear his voice. Maybe I could never hear it; maybe it was only the projection of his voice, just like at this moment.

“I’m sorry it came to this Wes.” His words rolled through my mind, my body trembled without physically trembling; a ripple through my soul. “If only we had met in a different world, perhaps our story together could have been different. I wish there was some other way than destroying you to save me, but I’ve survived this long because I’ve always been able to make these tough decisions. Good bye Wes. I hope your next life treats you better than this one did.”

He cut his voice from my mind and the silence consumed me. The grip around my heart had never faltered. My time was running out. I shoved my thoughts, my will, to the soles of my shoes. If I had any chance of surviving, I would need the buildings help. If I could connect to the church, its power could possibly save me.  I couldn’t even take a breath to focus my mind; I was flailing and soon I would be dead–a frozen time capsule, half-crouched with a crazed look on my face right next to the gargoyle. They would put me with the likes of Ted Williams and some even say Walt Disney, if you want to believe the rumors. Even though it’s documented that Disney was cremated, for fear he would come back as a zombie. It’s ironic considering I could live to be over 200 years old if I could prevent things like these from happening. I wonder if I could come back after being frozen for 100 years; my body is far more complicated than the typical human. Maybe I hold the key to what all those frozen heads have been looking for.

Focus, that’s the big trick to wizardry…always, be focused. As tough as it was to empty my mind, there’s something about being on the edge of death that stretched your capabilities. I reached down, deep down, and tapped into anything and everything I could. I pushed all the energy I had to the roof below. “Breathe Wes, breathe,” I said to myself without moving my tongue or lips. It sounded like the monster that Dr. Frankenstein gave birth to, but it was the only encouragement I could muster for myself.

I gasped. I inhaled the most refreshing breath I’d ever sucked in before. In an instant my body felt warmer and I could move—albeit mostly stumbling. The buildings power had surged through me and sliced through Harry’s attack with deadly proficiency. I took in two more deep breaths of life before I recovered enough to think straight. I rushed over to the demon-within-the-stone and placed my hand on the slate. I needed to act fast while he was still weakened. My magic mixed with the buildings power made it possible for me to rebuild my defenses that Harry had worked so hard to bring down. He was strong, smart, and I hadn’t realized his full power until tonight. I was able to fix the walls and build them taller and stronger while the extra power was available to me.  I added anything and everything magically available to me to lock him down once again.

When it was over, I let out a sigh of relief as I fell on my ass: exhausted…again…already. It felt like my whole body ate ice cream way too fast; brain freeze was annoying, but whole body freeze was completely numbing. My eyes burned with every blink, my skin itched everywhere, and a chunk of my hair had fallen off like an icicle breaking off of a front porch when hit with a December’s afternoon sun.

When the coast was clear Gizmo jumped from his hiding place behind the AC unit and ran over to nuzzle me. I had been careless for far too long with Harry and it had almost cost me my life. I didn’t get a chance to aske him any of my questions before he had attacked. He was of no use to me now. I wasn’t as angry as I probably should’ve been but being alive had something to do with that. Focus on the positives. I set the CD player down on the ledge by Harry and put in a CD. “Mozart’s classics,” I said, “if you want to listen to it, all you have to do is press play.”

Harry would recover in time, but hopefully not too soon. This turned out to be a very un-fun day. Even though I’ve cheated death, today had too many bad with not enough good: knives, guns, and powerful beings…plus, my mouth still tasted like throw-up.

 

 

 

Chapter 8

I zombie-walked back to my room and turned in for the night. Even with the buildings enormous help I was gassed. I was both physically and mentally fatigued. It was time for a deep, deep sleep…or so I thought. I had a dream this night.

I was standing in the computer lab of my old school, all those years ago. I was as I looked in the present day, same jeans and shirt I wore to bed. At first I was alone, and then, one by one, students came in that I had once known. They were the same age as they had been in high school. Single file they entered, walking silently across the lab, and then stood in a line. They all came: every bully, every athlete, and everyone else who treated me like I was an abomination. They never spoke, never coughed, or made a noise of any kind. I was ready to speak but the students turned towards the door and went down to one knee. In walked the man, Mr. Pirelli. He was unlike the other students; he was like me, he was in his adult body.

I’ve seen pictures of him before in the newspaper and he looked just like he had then: tall, tan, and deceptive. He was wearing a fine Italian suit, black with silver pin stripes, and a deep forest green collared shirt with a matching pocket square. Everything had been tailored to fit his athletic frame and he wore it well. A shimmer of light caught my eye. It led me to one of the most interesting watches I had ever seen. I don’t how, but I knew right away that it was an Ulysse Nardin, Genghis Khan Watch. Genghis Khan was the Mongolian leader. He was remembered for a lot of things but perhaps the most important mark he left on society was the empire he had built. It was the largest empire in the history of mankind.

On the face of the watch there were four figures made from gold. Each hour, on the hour, the figures would move and fight one another. What a man wears can say a lot about them and this watch could be Jace’s biography–it also cost a half million dollars.

Jace walked to the center of the room with perfect posture and an ostentatious glow. He turned and faced me. His cold eyes locked with mine and it sent a shiver down my spine. The corner of his upper lip rose as he pulled an evil grin before he spoke.

“I have not forgotten you, Wesley”

My eyes shot open and a bead of sweat trickled down my forehead. My right leg kicked without my permission, sending Gizmo flying off the bed and landing with a thud and a yelp on the floor. That’s a hell of a way to wake up for the both of us. I’d rather be the one kicked off the bed. For a wizard, dreams are not merely a form of entertainment for our minds. Dreams are premonitions…parts of the dreams are anyway. I highly doubt that the students I went to school with have not aged one day. Unfortunately, I believe that Jace remembered me and knew I was back.

And the hits just keep on coming. 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

It was only 3:37 in the morning, so much for that deep sleep. I picked up Gizmo and carried him with me to the kitchen. He received a couple of treats and I received a treat as well. A cold shot of Vodka. My hands ceased shaking and my body started to calm down. I guess I could go to the online world of gaming now, sleep would just have to wait.

I was really hoping for the element of surprise when it came to Pirelli. Without it I felt vulnerable and weak. I felt like I did throughout my high school days, alone and powerless; even though that’s not who or what I was anymore. I’ve evolved into something far more superior than some criminal in an Italian suit and fancy watch. I was drawn back to reset the balance in my city. It was time for me to get some answers. My way.

I turned off the game and threw on some clothes. I threw on some blue jeans, black cons, black pea coat, and a plain black t-shirt. It was 4:15am now and the dives in the Neon District should be getting ready to close up shop. The corporation, known to the public as J.P. Inc, owns a restaurant and bar in the middle of the District called, Eternal Night. I had been there once before following a lead on a different investigation. The club looked standard when you first walked in. A lounge area led you inside, a full bar lined the entire right side, hot new music bounced through the air, and a large dance floor was in the center of everything. There was a back room where dancers occupied individual areas, and many other doors would’ve been occupied within complete secrecy. It was all supposedly legal, but it was foul. This time I was going there with intent; the intent to piss a lot of people off. I’ve been passive enough for one 24 hour period. It’s time for me to make some noise; a lot of noise that would hopefully lead to a lot of answers.

I walked down the stairs, through the back door, making sure I locked it behind me. I crossed the short distance from the church to the entrance of the cemetery. I stepped to the first line of graves and found the headstone marked, ‘For Sale’…it never sold. I bent over and placed my hand on the soil. I only had to think about my bike and the mere thought was good enough to spring it from its resting place.

In an instant the brown grass and dirt parted, raising my street bike from the grave below. My bike repelled the dirt and came out looking brand new.

My motorcycle a 2006 MV Agusta F4 CC, will always be very special to me. There were only 100 made in the entire world. The platinum plate says #21 out of 100. All black with carbon fiber in-lays with red pin stripping and lettering. With a top speed of nearly 200mph meant I could get from one end of the city to the other in a very timely manner. I’d never pushed my bike that hard, I guess I’d never had the need to do so. My bike cost more than I could ever make or ever see in my life. It was a gift from Marcus. I came back to the lair late one night and there it was, with a note attached:

Welcome home and good luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There I stood, staring at an empty building, waiting for the answers to suddenly appear. For months now I’ve come to this place and waited, hoping that one day it would all become clear.
The cold rain beat down on my hard head. The night sky held not one star, not one pin drop of light to comfort those who needed it. The Moon was out, but in no way was it reassuring. The street was still dark. I was alone. It was the same old story.

Sample of Chapter 1 from Book #2.

My initial reaction.
“There it is, finally. It’s smaller than I would’ve thought, but it doesn’t matter how large it ended up being, the only thing that matters was the here part, it was here. It had taken longer than I first expected, not too long for me to forget about it, but long enough for me to wonder if it would’ve ever been done at all. I almost gave up hope, gave up on waiting; I almost had given up on myself. But my book is done.”

My book is as finished as it has ever been before, but it doesn’t mean it’s completed. The editing process has been as evil as a cloven hoofed baby, but it’ll be worth it I’m sure. I have my fantastic writing group, family, and close friends reading the product as I type. As soon as I get the feedback, the errors I need to correct I will get after it and soon have the finished product.


Thank you to everyone that has enjoyed my short stories and soon the book shall be finished.
B

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