Posts Tagged ‘girl’

First Feeding

Posted: September 13, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
Tags: , , , , ,

vampire girlBloody and sated, Alyson made it home at about 11:30. She wasn’t sure what time it was. Her watch was broken. The electronics on her phone still worked, but the face was cracked so badly the colors sprayed whatever was behind it like a kaleidoscope. That and the blood stains kept her from reading it. Alyson was too upset to remember that her car had a clock on the dashboard.

She stood in the foyer. Mud and blood had to be streaking the marble tile. “Father,” she called. The sound echoed through the house. She’d barely spoken, but the reflection of her voice had never sounded so loud.

He came running from the library, barefoot and robed, white hair blown out wildly behind him. “Allie. Allie girl, what happened?”

Her father stopped when he saw her. His hands dropped. “What happened?”

“What does it matter?”

He sighed. “Of course not.” He shouted, “Renfield!” The twitching lump of a man came running in from the kitchen. He had crumbs under his fingernails and mustard on his lips. “Go to Smiths’ residence. I believe there’s been an accident. You know what to do.”

“Yes, master,” Renfield said. He normally would have walked past Alyson and left by the front door. This time, he backed away how he came. He didn’t turn around until he had gone all the way back into the shadows.

Alyson wanted to be shaking or screaming. Instead, she wanted more blood. “When does it stop? The thirst?”

“Never. You will master it. Like your mother and I taught you to master watching too much TV and eating too much junk food.”

“It felt good. I wanted to stop. I tried. The more angry and fearful they got the thirstier I became.” A single tear fell from her eye and mixed with the blood. The teardrop swirled with red ran down her face.

“It’s who we are. Why don’t you go clean up?”

“Why don’t I stay this way forever. It’s who I am.”

He folded his arms. “I understand. It’s difficult at first. Go ahead and stay that way for a while. It might help you to accept that things are different now. It’s ugly. It’s frightening. But it’s the truth.”

Alyson pushed past him. She didn’t want to hear his truth. It was hard enough to be a teenage girl who had an allergy to sunlight. Now she had to deal with vampirism, too.

Photo credit: “You Have to Invite Me In” by alicexz at deviantART.com. Used without permission.

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Meet Marissa

Posted: June 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

dancing girlBefore tonight’s sample from Shadow and Shade, I wanted to remind everyone that it’ll be available as a free download for Kindle as a special promotion tonight and Sunday only.

I hope you love it. If you do, leave a cool review, and spread the word! THANK YOU!


Logan’s nostrils caught the thin trace of a smell on the breeze that didn’t quite belong. It was like smoke, but sweeter, like pine needles. He looked around carefully, then noticed that Laik wasn’t sitting in his usual place. “Who else is coming?” Logan asked.

Laik frowned. “What makes you say that?”

“You usually sit over here,” Logan said, gesturing to his right. What was that smell…Logan thought it was…incense?

Yes, that was it. There was a missionary in the village from the lands past Wood’s End who always smelled that way. In good wind and settled mind, he could pick up the scent a mile away. The missionary’s second home, his ca-pel—Woodlanders couldn’t say chapel—usually reeked of it. Logan frowned. There was no way Laik would have spending time in Jon’s chapel. “Who else is here?”

Laik’s looked back over his right shoulder and raised his voice. “He knows! You can come out now!” Unmindful footsteps cracked the branches and kicked over stones behind Laik. “My friend, this is Marissa. She arrived in the village a few days ago, and I thought she might enjoy a little hospitality.” Logan drew his gaze to the girl who walked out from the shadows. His eyes widened.

Marissa moved fluidly, gracefully, like someone more inclined to dancing or a stroll than hard, sweaty work. She didn’t notice that her skirt was close enough to catch on the fire, or if she did, she didn’t care. Marissa was a Southlander, like the missionary. Her eyes would reach just above his shoulders, and they were a lustrous shade of nearly black brown. They had the flicker of the wisdom that Laik’s seemed to have. Her skin was lightly tanned. He followed the line of her nose to her lips, from her lips to her neck. Her rounded cheekbones and chin had the mirthful hint of a smile. Marissa’s hair was brown, lighter than his, with scattered strands of red in there that spiced it up. It was brushed away from her face, letting him see the delicate curve of her ears.

The kerchief that the missionary’s daughter and wife always wore dangled from her hand. That explained the incense. “So you’re Logan,” she said, speaking passable Woodlander. Logan smiled as she sat down in Laik’s usual place.

“Did he tell you that?” Logan asked.

“You’re the mystic, not her,” Laik said. “How else did she know?”

Logan tossed a stone at him. “Don’t be a pain,” he replied. He looked at Marissa, then asked Laik, “Did you bring it?”

“Never forget it.” Laik produced a short, wooden flask of his father’s wine from behind his back and tossed it over to him. All Woodlanders made fruit wine as a social drink, but Laik’s father made it with a stronger taste, and usually a better kick.

Logan asked, “Slug, Marissa?”

“Guests always first,” Laik added.

She cocked her head, and yes, a mirthful smile appeared. Logan also had the impression that not only was she an experienced drinker, but she might be a challenge to drink under. There was a mischievous look in her eyes: we’re smarter than we look, but don’t tell anyone. That way we can get away with more. That kind of look.

Photo credit: Cuadros y Lienzos
Used without permission

Fly On, Angel

Posted: February 27, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy, Lost Angel
Tags: , , , , , , ,

modern angel

That night, Angelina stood on her fire escape, looking up at the stars. You couldn’t see many in the city, but she’d camping in a state park once, and seen thousands of them. Tens of thousands. It reminded her of seeing the angels, each one doing good deeds every second.

“Ahhhh,” she sang, middle C. Angelina liked music. “I wonder if angels like music, other than harps,” she said aloud. You talked to yourself, when there was no one else, when you were an orphan.

She could feel her wings fluttering behind her. They wanted to fly. She wanted to do more good. Then she heard purring and felt a soft tickle walking around her ankles. Milo was wondering why she was out here. He hated the fire escape, but he wanted attention more. Angelina looked at him. “Did you always know what I was, and just not tell me?” Milo just rubbed up against her. His green eyes were steady and sure. “Well, at least one of us knows what his horizons are. Good for you, cat.”

She had an idea. Angelina carried Milo back inside. She changed into her favorite black jeans and black shirt. She turned off the lights, went back outside, and went for a flight.

The next day at lunch, Daniel showed up again at the soup kitchen. Angelina beamed when she saw him. She was wearing the same shirt she’d worn last night, one with little crystal beads that formed stars on it. “Hello, Mr. Daniel. Today we have tomato vegetable soup. Would you like some?”

“That’ll be fine. Thank you.” Angelina nodded to the student volunteer next to her. He started preparing Daniel’s tray. “Have you thought about the little stroll we took yesterday?”

“I thought about it all last night.”

Daniel frowned. “Do my ears deceive me, or do you sound strangely chipper today?”

“It’s not strange to my friends. I’ll bring your tray over and we’ll talk.”

Daniel still didn’t look happy. Angelina had the feeling he’d been making reservations for her with the celestial choir. She collected his tray and led him to an empty table near the end of the line.

“Last night I did some more good. I stopped three muggings, helped six kids study for college, comforted a lonely old woman, reminded a couple to use birth control, gave a triathlete strength to keep swimming, and kept someone from driving drunk.”

“Well, good for you.” Daniel didn’t sound happy yet.

“Then I went to bed. This morning, instead of t’ai ch’i, I helped a mother get her kids off to school, then flew over to Camden and encouraged a homeless person to get some support.” Daniel held his cane. He was losing patience. “I made that soup myself. Aren’t you going to have any?”

“Angelina. I came here for a reason.”

“Well… ‘dad,’ if you really are… it’s time to let your little girl fly on her own.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You showed me yesterday that I don’t have to go to Heaven to help people on Earth. So I didn’t. I’m my own superhero now. I can help people right here. My pay job is my secret identity.”

Daniel stamped his cane on the floor. “This isn’t a game, child!”

“I didn’t say it was! But if you believe things happen for a reason, then there’s a reason I got lost. I’m not supposed to go home yet.”

Daniel froze. “You’re truly serious about this.”

Angelina took a breath. She nodded. “More than I’ve ever been about anything.”

Daniel chuckled. Then he laughed. Then he dropped back his head and laughed so hard people turned to look at him. Angelina didn’t know if he meant it or he was putting on some kind of mocking show for her. When he recovered, he was dabbing at tears in his eyes. “The Almighty truly does work in mysterious ways. I’ll need to ask Her about that when I get back. Maybe She wanted to teach an old angel something about service.”

Angelina smiled uneasily. “You’re not mad?”

“I’m confused, but I don’t think it’s any more confused than people are with the way things work.” He reached for his cutlery and found the spoon. “I think I’ll try some of this soup before I go. It does smell delicious.” He held out his hand. “Fly on, Angel. Be good.”

Angelina shook it. Her stars glittered under the fluorescents. She said, “Keep playing that flute. I’ll listen for it while I’m out doing my thing.”

Daniel nodded. Angelina went back to the food line, helping one person at a time.

Dazzling and well-acted, from Lightworker Entertainment. The end and the overall look reminded me of the movie Oblivion.

Good Little Kids

Posted: September 30, 2013 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

super girlUncle Steve and little Catelyn walked out of the Franklin Institute. She danced on Ben Franklin’s nose on the mural painted on the stairs. They should have had an exhibit on Catelyn. She was a perpetual motion engine and showed no signs of slowing down. Steve smiled his best Zen smile and took yoga belly breaths as Catelyn tried to drag him down the street. “Where do we want to go? What’s next?”

A truck selling ice cream and candy was parked at the bottom of the stairs. Steve tried to ease her down the street. Too late. Catelyn jumped up and down pointing at the truck. “I want one, I want one, I want one! I want it I want it I want it!” she cried.

“You had ice cream with your lunch fifteen minutes ago, honey,” he said.

“That tastes better!” Steve squinted. He knew what she was pointing at: old school Pixy Stix. Pure sugar. She’d be tap dancing on top of Independence Hall in five minutes. On the bright side, when she came off the sugar rush she’d probably want to sleep. She’d feel sick, too.

Steve smiled again. No, that wasn’t very Zen. Or nice. “I have a better idea. Let’s go to the Please Touch museum.”

“I hate museums. Every time I go, I have to stand back and not touch anything.”

“That’s why this one’s the Please Touch museum. You can play with everything.”

Catelyn folded her arms. “I think you’re trying to get me to forget about the candy.”

“Not at all. Tell you what, little miss. If you spend two hours with me at the Please Touch Museum, you can have one more piece of candy. After we’re done.”

“Can I have the sugar sticks?”

At least she knew what she was getting into. “We’ll see. They might not have any.”

The museum was a bigger rush than sugar. Catelyn jumped on jungle logs and played hopscotch on clouds. She rowed a flying machine and built a car. She played jungle drums and made waves in a pond. She shopped for groceries and flew an airplane. She climbed a kid-sized climbing wall, five times, and she played for well over the two hours she promised.

On the subway ride home, Catelyn dozed off under Steve’s arm. A woman sitting next to him smiled at her. “She’s precious. Such a calm, quiet little girl.”

Steve just smiled back. No comment.

cat in lapKerri jumped when she saw the dead sparrow. It lay in the middle of her bedroom floor, presentation-style, and it hadn’t been there an hour ago. The cat was leaving her gifts again. “Ugh! Damn it, kitty!” Lady trotted into the room and sat down next to her trophy. Yes, I killed this. Yes, I did it for you.

Kerri called into the other room, “Andrea, your cat is a killer.”

“You might want to sleep lightly, then. And that’s your cat, not mine.”

Andrea kept setting up snacks in the living room. Kerri spotted popcorn in one bowl, Cheez-Its in another, and wine for both of them. A glamorous Saturday night. Kerri dug a dust pan from under the kitchen sink. “I don’t know where she finds them. She must be sneaking out the window when I’m not looking.”

“Do you need a hand?”

“I’ve got it. Get the movie queued up.” Andrea was squeamish anyway. It would take her twenty minutes to do what Kerri could take care of in five. Kerri swept the bird up, dumped it in the garbage, then dumped the garbage down the chute in the hallway.

Lady seemed surprised by all the fuss. The cat looked at the floor, at Kerri, and walked around her while she scrubbed the rug with disinfectant. Kerri looked at the cat as she said, “She hisses. She spits. She scratches. She acts like this apartment is hers.” The cat bumped foreheads with her. Awww.

Kerri flopped down in her easy chair across from Andrea. “Just like her mom.”

“Would that be me, or you?” Andrea asked.

“Both.”

Lady walked into the living room. She looked at Andrea, then at Kerri. Andrea said, “She’s wondering whose lap is warmer.”

“Who feeds you, kitty?” Kerri reminded Lady.

Lady sat down. Her regal posture reminded the two humans that it was an honor to have a cat in their lap.

“Whatever, your highness,” Kerri said.

Lady picked Kerri. The cat fidgeted until Kerri stretched out her legs, giving the cat more room to lay down.

“Brown noser,” Andrea said.

“Extra tuna for you tomorrow,” Kerri whispered. Lady seemed happy with that. She asked Andrea, “What movie did you bring?”

“Sherlock.”

“Oh, I love that. Hey… since when do you like Brit TV?”

“I missed it when you left. I guess it rubbed off on me.” Andrea tried not to smile. “And you let me have visitation rights. I figured I owed you one.”

Kerri settled in. She had one friend in her lap, and another sitting across from her. What were friends for?

The Girl and the Window: Who’s the Stranger?

Posted: September 16, 2013 by writingsprint in The Girl and the Window
Tags: , , , ,

pet catWhen we last left the story…

The cat didn’t have an opinion, but it did seem to be curious over the stray on the other side of the window. Kerri smiled. She scratched at the window where she would normally rub the cat behind the ears. The tabby pawed at her fingers.

“So cute,” Kerri said. “Well, all right, Mr. Tabby. My name’s Kerri, and I hope we meet again sometime soon.”

Andrea walked out from the shadows between her kitchen and her living room. Kerri jumped so fast she almost fell over the fire escape’s railing. The cat went running. Andrea put her hands on her hips. “What the hell are you doing on my fire escape?” she asked.

Kerri said, “You didn’t return my call. Or answer your doorbell.”

“I didn’t want to talk to you.”

Kerri felt like Andrea had punched her in the belly. Normally she’d cry but she didn’t want to let her off the hook that easy. “I heard about the cat. I wanted to adopt her.”

“You said so on the phone.” Andrea shifted her weight from one foot to the other. The cat crept back halfway into the kitchen. It looked past Andrea to Kerri, through the window.

“Well?”

“Ah hell. You can’t just stand there. Someone’ll call the cops.” Andrea unlocked the window. As if she were talking to a vampire, she quickly added, “Come in.”

Kerri climbed in. The kitchen was a mess. Andrea used to be neat as a pin. Kerri looked at her. Andrea seemed to look at her face, not her eyes. Andrea turned away. She walked into the living room. Kerri knew the way. Cloth tapestries in the hallway, abstract art by her friends in the living room, plus a few family pictures. Kerri smelled incense, but not tobacco smoke. That was new. “You quit smoking?” Kerri asked.

“Yeah.” She waved to a package of Nicorette gum on the end table by her chair. Kerri found her way to the couch. When they watched TV, this was normally how they would sit, if they weren’t cuddling on the couch.

The cat walked over to the stranger, tail up, ears perked. Kerri put down her hand. The cat sniffed it, then rubbed its head against her hand.

“So, you two have met,” Andrea said.

“She’s a good conversationalist.” Kerri gently rubbed the cat behind the ears. The cat arched her back and rubbed against her jeans. Kerri missed Scrim.

“I miss Scrim,” Kerri said.

“Sorry,” Andrea said. Kerri snorted. “I mean it. You loved that old cat.”

The ratty old cat, Andrea had once said. Kerri let it go. “Thanks.” She kept petting the cat.

Andrea kept rubbing the back of her neck. Then she rubbed her hands together. It must have been the cigarette withdrawal. Kerri had never felt like the calm one. This was weird.

“Are you okay?” Kerri asked.

“You came here to ask about the cat.”

“Jeez. Fine. Can I have her?”

“I don’t know if I want to give it away any more.”

Kerri looked up. The cat did, too, which almost made Kerri laugh. Even the TV had gone to a dead air between commercials. The quiet in the room made Kerri’s ears ring.

“I’m just not sure. I’ve had it for a week, and I’m starting to get used to it.”

“That’s why you didn’t answer?”

“Yeah,” Andrea said. Kerri didn’t believe her. Andrea never a one-word answer to anything.

The cat walked between Kerri’s leg and the couch, like a scarf tied around her ankles. Kerri thought it was adorable. Kerri’s stomach boiled with tea from earlier in the night. Between her batgirl antics and this, she’d need an antacid to go to sleep.

Kerri stood. “All right. Well, I’m interested. Let me know when you make up your mind. I’ll… leave by the door this time.”

Andrea stood. She started as if she was going to give her a one-arm hug, like they did when they first broke up, then held the door open for her instead. Kerri nodded. She left the apartment. When the door closed behind her, she said, “What the hell already.”

What do you think of the story title? I’m not sold yet. Yea? Nay?

The Girl and the Window

Posted: September 6, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life, The Girl and the Window
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

city windowKerri stood on the corner of 21st and Locust, hands in her pockets, looking up at the third floor window across the street. Her former girlfriend, Andrea, lived in that apartment. The light was on. Tonight was Wednesday. Andrea would be home eating spaghetti in sweat pants and bare feet, watching reruns of Bewitched on Nickelodeon. She wished Andrea would come to the window. She missed her. She would look down, wave, and they would talk and watch reruns together.

Kerri’s eyes came down to street level. She saw her own reflection in the black windows of Kuato’s Dry Cleaning Service, and Rocket’s Hair Salon, closed for the night. Kerri brought her dry cleaning here sometimes. Once she’d even run into Andrea. It had been nice rather than awkward. Tonight… Kerri’s breath caught. Tonight she was having a hard time.

A taxi slowed down near her. She was standing too close to the curb. Kerri backed up from the curb. She shook her head and the cab sped on.

Kerri swallowed. She glanced up at the window one last time. She looked back at the ground. She started walking. Kerri’s cat died yesterday. Mr. Scrimshaw had been twelve. He had been old and walked with a limp, a stray that Kerri hadn’t had the heart to ignore. Half the time she hadn’t even been sure he liked her. But he always came back, and he was more than happy to come inside when winter came. She’d found him yesterday next to her bed. He’d died in his sleep. First she’d been angry, then she’d called animal control and cried for an hour. Andrea had hated ‘that ratty old cat,’ but she was the only one who understood how much Mr. Scrimshaw had meant to her.

She made her way to a local coffee shop. The barrista knew her. “Hi, Kerri,” he said. He must have seen something in her body language. More meaningfully than usual, he asked, “How are you doing?”

Kerri smiled with only half of her face. The other half drifted down. “Not so great. Scrimmy died yesterday.”

“Aw, you’re kidding!”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Yes she did, but not here. Not right now. “Can you give me an Earl Grey with sugar?”

“Yeah, absolutely.” She started fishing for money. “Forget it. It’s on me.”

“No, I didn’t mean to—”

“Shut up.” He put a piece of cinnamon apple cake next to her cup. “Look what fell next to your tea.”

A few months ago I was walking home from an appointment and saw a girl at the end of the block looking up at the buildings across the street. By the time I passed her, her gaze hadn’t moved.

Nightmare

Posted: October 28, 2011 by writingsprint in Dream Girl, Fantasy, postaday2011, postaweek2011, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Evil Skull
Night fell. Tom and Mr. B sat in Tommy’s apartment, with the lights out, waiting. Tom checked his watch. “Midnight,” he said.

“Do you want something to drink?”

“No.” Tom smacked his lips. He rubbed his eyes. “This salt vapor is killing me. I feel like I’ve got crystals forming on the inside of lungs.”

There were four vaporizers running in the room, one in each corner. They sat, humming, blowing out clouds of steam that vanished inches above the machines. Tom and Mr. B had light sheens of water on them as if they were sweating, even though the air was cool tonight.

A little bundle of four-leafed clover peeked out of Tom’s pocket. Mr. B had one just like it, plus his old policeman’s Bible. Tom closed his eyes and repeated the words to the “prayers” he planned to use against the creature.

The temperature dropped in the room. Buster jumped up onto the bed and stretched out his legs. The little mongrel purred. “Hi Amy,” Tom and Mr. B said. Tom sensed fear. Caring and fear. He brushed at a sensation like silk touching the hair on his legs. A sound like little jingling touched the edge of his imagination. Out of the corner of his eye, Tom could see the salt mist swirl in circles. Buster purred and watched them.

“I think she’s dancing.” Smiles. Yes. He watched the mist swirl some more, opened up his imagination, and could almost see her. Tom snapped his fingers. “Belly dancing! That’s where the bells came from.” He had a sharp image of Buster’s claws. “She’s ready to fight, too. It’s like wrapping a knife in a silk scarf.”

Mr. B smiled. “Atta girl. I always knew you had some Mata Hari in you.” He took a sip of water. He warmed up his whistle on the first verse of “Danny Boy.”

Time passed. Mr. B sat in his chair and kept watching the room. He told Tommy it was like any other stakeout. Tom shook his head. The dude was like bedrock, completely calm and still. Tom sometimes paced, other times picked books off the shelves and re-read the words. Nothing helped.

The city never slept, but sometimes there were nights when you knew that bad things were happening somewhere. A little at a time, that dark feeling started to creep into the room. Tom gulped when he noticed it. He checked over his shoulder. Nothing there, but it made Tom rub his arms. He wanted to feel warm, to feel better. “Can you feel it?” he asked.

Mr. B nodded. “Like watching a drug house after dark. It’s moving.” He blessed himself, closed his eyes and said a prayer.

Tom looked around the room. He opened up his heart for a moment and imagined holding Amy’s hand. Nicely, then with that never letting go ferocity that he’d felt that first night. “Just wanted to let you know,” he whispered. He felt her fingers brush his.

The lights in the hall flickered. Mr. B stood up. He pressed his hand over his heart. “My heart beat… feels like…”

“Footsteps,” Tom said. “Is your breath shallow?”

“Like there’s no air.”

Buster ran to his crate again. The three of them faced the door. The flickering hall lights framed the door. Tom imagined a hand pressing against it. A hand from a thing named Hunger. Nothing but hunger. It recoiled from the salt cloud, then felt seething, oily rage.

The air snapped like a bedsheet. Now a curtain of black, living smoke hung and twisted between them and the door. In Tom’s mind’s eye he saw a wet, living skull shape in the middle of the smoke.

“Jesus,” Tom said.

The wind that was Amy’s breath roared. It met the smoke halfway between them and the two turned into a white and black tornado. In Tom’s mind’s eye, he saw Amy dancing a sword dance. Her fingers raked out where a dancer would have been graceful. Her body twisted and wrestled where it would have moved with music. Bells beaded her dress, ankles and wrists, and they all stung the creature where it tried to touch her.

Mr. B shouted in Latin. He splashed holy water at it. Tom smelled a stench, and saw that the smoke actually got smaller. Mr. B kept throwing.

Tom took a deep breath, and uttered, with the voice of an exorcist, the words from Hamlet, “Angels, and ministers of grace, defend us! Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn’d.” The smoke jerked inward like he’d stung it with a whip. Tom kept going. “Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell. Be thy intents wicked or charitable. Thou com’st in such a questionable shape…” and shouting, “…that I… will… SPEAK TO THEE!” He threw a handful of salt at it.

Tom never saw what hit him. He heard a bang. It felt like he’d been punched in the face. Light flashed behind his eyes, and he had the wind knocked out of him from the back. Tom choked. He staggered back to his feet; he didn’t even know he’d been knocked down. He’d been thrown ten feet across the room.

A tentacle of smoke struck at Mr. B. There were two, one for each of them. He saw Amy’s ghost getting snapped at by the horror skull in the center of the smoke. He heard Amy cry out inside his mind. The words spilled out of his mouth: “There is real love just as there are real ghosts; every person speaks of it, few persons have seen it.” Amy seemed to grow stronger again.

Mr. B swung his Bible at the limb, still praying. The silver clasp on the outside shone bright. Tom thought it looked brighter than it normally would have in this light.

Another tendril swung at Tom again. He took the hit, and felt a puff of air ooze out of his lungs. “Bloody thou art,” he snarled, from Richard III. “Bloody will be thy end!”

The smoke tendril got inside Mr. B’s guard. It snaked around him, under his legs, over his back, inside his clothes. Mr. B cried out. He brushed at his body like sweeping off bugs. It was getting worse. More black smoke wept back into the cloud, growing from the fear.

“Mr. B! Wally! Whistle!” Tom shouted. He’d forgotten about it.

Mr. B’s glasses fell off his face. He couldn’t stop staring at it. He started to whistle, weakly, but it wasn’t enough. Tom could actually see black smoke sneaking into his nose. Tom gritted his teeth. He had to give it something else to think about. He ran forward and jumped into the cloud. “Come and get me, you son of a bitch!. I’m the one you want!”

Dream Girl was originally inspired by a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

Evil Skull” is a drawing by Kate VerKuilen.

Death is an Evil Cloud

A cloud of death

Tom and Mr. B sat in Tom’s apartment later that morning. Mr. B switched shifts with one of the other watchmen. Tom called his boss to say he was projectile vomiting and needed another day off. Just in case, Mr. B called a doctor friend who owed him a favor from his police days, who said he’d write a note for Tom to back him up. Tom made eggs for Mr. B, and Tom himself was having a bowl of Froot Loops.

First, Mr. B asked Tom to explain what had happened the night before. Then he asked him again, highlighting areas that Tom had expected him to. What did it feel like when the thing attacked? What did it feel like just before the attack? Did he see anything? Hear anything? Smell anything? Then he asked him about things he didn’t expect. What song was he thinking about during the attack? What color was Amy’s dress? What color were her eyes? None of them made sense, but as he tried to think about strange details, it jogged his thoughts and made him think of some details that he’d missed. Mr. B smiled. “You’d be an excellent witness, Tommy,” he said.

They went down each other’s lists of what they knew so far.

“It’s not a ghost like Amy,” Tommy said. “That’s the biggest difference between them. It didn’t need permission to enter the room and it had to come under the door. Like a poison gas.”

“It sounds like an animal, and it usually feeds like an animal, attacking the weak and helpless.” He looked off into space, thinking. “To kill an animal, you either corner it and shoot it, or, you lure it someplace, then kill it. The difference is whether you’re hunting it, or it’s hunting you.”

“The latter,” Tom said. He rubbed his throat.

“Right. The bad news is, you’re the bait, Tommy. You’re also the aberration. You’re connected to Amy. I can’t see her; nobody else can. I hear it all, and no one else ever talked about ghosts or seeing people dancing on the window ledges. It’s not attacking you now because you’re sick. The first time, over a year ago, maybe, but not now. It’s attacking you to get to her.”

“What does that make me?”

“I sat here and listened to you talking to that poor girl, while you were unconscious and you were dreaming.”

Tom just went with it. “Either I have one foot in the afterlife, in the grave, or she’s really not dead.”

Mr. B folded his arms and nodded at him. “Exactly.”

Tommy suddenly remembered something from one of the library books stacked on his desk, next to Mr. B’s elbow. There were legends of people taken away by the faerie. A body was left in their place so people wouldn’t know they were gone. What if she really wasn’t dead? Or did it matter?

“You’re the bridge, Tommy,” Mr. B said. He poked him in the chest. “You love her.”

“I…” Shit. Tom suddenly felt like he was standing in front of a room full of people in his underwear. Mr. B saw right through him. Tom was glad he had never faced Mr. B in a police interrogation room. “Well, I mean, we only just met…” Mr. B was laughing and nodding his head. “What sense does that make? I only talked to her once. We only met, what, two days ago?”

“Tommy, if there’s anything I’ve learned in all my years, it’s that some things are timeless, and some things happen in a place where time has no meaning. Haven’t you ever met somebody and felt like you knew them your whole life?”

Tom just nodded. He was fighting for his life and Amy’s against something he thought only children were afraid of. He kept going with it.

Dream Girl was originally inspired by a prompt from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.