This blog/serial is dead.
At least for the forseeable future. I’m not a dedicated enough writer to keep this active. Sorry folks.
This blog/serial is dead.
At least for the forseeable future. I’m not a dedicated enough writer to keep this active. Sorry folks.
Alone in the old storage room Kat hopped up and down, getting amped up for the imminent fight. The need was building inside her, growing hotter and more powerful the longer she waited. She needed to fight, to hurt, to feel that oh so glorious rush of violence and the absolute certainty that she was still alive.
From behind her came a chirping, her cellphone laying atop a gym bag. She’d already changed into suitable clothes, an old tanktop and sweatpants. Nothing to restrict movement or be grabbed by her opponent.
Grabbing the phone she read the message and bared her teeth, it was time.
The crowd was already producing a dull roar from the main room. The sound felt like a physical force as she opened the door. The current combatants were just finishing up, one man flopping ineffectually on the mat while the other was only marginally more hale, leaning forward with hands on thighs for support. Money was changing hands all around, people were screaming in celebration or derision.
This was it, this was the life.
“Kat!” Just like that her good mood crashed down. That damned voice. She whipped around. It was him. For a moment she had hoped it had been a cruel trick of her imagination.
“Just hear me out! I need to talk to you for a minute, please.” He held his hands up.
Kat grabbed him by the collar of his grungy denim jacket and hauled him into the storage room. She slammed him against the wall and then slammed the door. For a few moments they stared at each other.
“Forty seconds left.” She broke the silence.
“I want you. For a job. A good job, proper contracts, good pay.”
“Why exactly should I even consider it, coming from you?”
“Because…it will…if the boss is right, we stand a better than average chance of getting gangraped by demons.”
“Two to five year contract, fifty grand salary plus a share of forty percent of all gains from jobs, most expenses paid, plus a live-in office, apocalypse prophecy. If it doesn’t come true, that’s still a damn good option and it gives you a way into the industry. If it is true then we all die painful, fiery death. That’s pretty much exactly what you said you wanted, right?”
“Well there’s a prophecy about the Harbingers and apparently they’ve been spotted and–”
“That’s not what I meant!” She cut him off, “Why did you come back? Why do you keep doing this?”
“Sorry? That didn’t stop you from abandoning me! You left!” She shoved him back into the wall.
“You know damn well why I left. I didn’t want to hurt you, I still don’t.”
“But you did anyways, you hurt me more than anything I wanted you to do would.”
“I can’t do that for you. I care about you too much.”
“Yeah, you care so much that you walked the fuck away when I needed you most. Why the hell do you keep lying to yourself? You liked it.”
“I left because I do care. What you want…I can’t. I just can’t. Nobody deserves that.”
“I deserve it!” She screamed and slapped him, then looked at his face in confusion as though seeing him for the first time. “What the hell? Why do you have a bandaid, why is your nose busted up?”
“I hit my face on a window yesterday.”
The glare she gave him could have peeled paint off the wall.
“So what, you’re masochistic now?”
“I’m trying to stay low profile.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“No. You know what, just forget this. Enjoy the apocalypse.”
Steve turned around and started to open the door. Kat kicked the door shut, crushing his hand. Bone snapped audibly. Steve roared and spun around, backhanding her with his other hand. They fell to the ground, punching and clawing at each other. He was stronger, forcing her arms aside and grabbing her throat.
“Stop…lying…to…yourself!” She gasped out as he choked her.
“Fuck you!” He screamed in her face. With disgust he rolled off her and stood up.
“Heal it. Please.” She gasped, staring at his broken hand with conflicted anguish and hunger in her eyes. He looked down at his hand, the bone bent and giving his index finger an extra joint. The skin was torn open, exposing glistening muscle underneath. The wound was not bleeding, giving it an oddly artificial appearance.
“No.” He said, and turned to leave.
“Heal it. I’ll take the damned job just heal it!” She cried.
Slowly the blood flowed over the wound, ignoring gravity and the broken blood vessels. Gradually the wound closed and the bone straightened itself. In a few moments no trace remained.
Steve extended the hand to Kat, pulling her up off the ground, pulling her into a hug.
“I’m trying to keep some things private. This group doesn’t know about me. They don’t know about us. Not everything anyways, they know we fought in the pit, but that’s it. I’d like to keep it that way, I don’t need any complications right now.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t be who you want, who you think you need. You deserve better than that.” His head perked up, “They’re calling your name. Go. We can talk later.”
Kat threw the door open and stomped away, pushing through the crowd. She needed to hit something.
Steve leaned against the wall, banging his head. A moment later he did it again, harder. He was being stupid again. One minute with her and the entire last year fell apart. As soon as he saw her all the lies crumpled and he turned into an animal.
Before he knew what he was doing he punched the wall. Something in his hand snapped, probably the same bone that had just healed. Everything he had went into the next punch, no time to think except to punch until it stopped hurting.
Time gets a little weird when you’re experiencing mind-altering pain. It felt like hours later when he slumped to the ground. He was exhausted and his hands throbbed with a persistent dull ache. Even despite all his efforts to heal it the pain lingered. It was…clarifying. Everything was reduced down to a single issue. Things were simplified again, at least for a while.
Gargoyle Interlude 2-Samurai pt. 1
Later that night Blaithe had just finished programming the scanners to accept Steve’s and Lucky’s handprints. The boy wandered off with a smartphone Blaithe had given him.
“Who do you want to recruit next?”
“I will leave that decision to you. Take some time to review the files and we can make a decision tomorrow morning. “. Blaithe checked his watch, “That’s all the time I have tonight. I’ll be back at eight. Goodnight.”
Just like that Steve was left alone. He grabbed a cup of water and made his way up up the stairs. On the third floor he was headed to his room when a shadow moved in the corner of his eye.
“Agh! Damn it kid, that’s seriously creepy.”
Lucky was sitting in the dark, his door open. The light from his phone illuminated his head blue amid the darkness.
“I’m about to turn in. Is there anything you need?”
Lucky shook his head.
“Alrighty. We can get this organized tomorrow, get you some furniture. If you need anything just knock.”
Steve couldn’t help but shake his head as he locked his bedroom door behind him, he wasn’t sure how to deal with that kid.
He grabbed the files off the desk and flopped onto his bed. Picking one at random he opened it. A photograph of a young girl stared at him from a hospital bed. Pale white skin, messy black hair, shadows under her eyes so dark that they looked like bruises. She didn’t look much older than fifteen, with brown eyes staring wide. If anyone could have been said to be haunted it was her.
The caption under the picture said “Andree Nichell”. Something about the picture just plain looked odd. Very uncanny valley, like a photoshop with incomplete alterations.
After a few moments he realized what the difference was. The girl’s reflection on a nearby cup of water had inverted colours. Black skin, white hair
“Weird.” Tossing the other files aside he started to read.
Starting as a young child, Andree had an imaginary friend, named Aimee. A harmless figment of imagination her parents thought. A normal occurrence for an only child. The figment persisted through the years, growing stronger rather than fading away. It became clear that this figment was a dark and violent thing, as evidenced when she was five years old and her parents found her having butchered a cat. Andree insisted that it was Aimee who killed the cat.
Andree was taken to a therapist, and after months of treatment Aimee faded away. Andree was pronounced as healthy and normal as could be expected.
Two years later, while she was seven, Andree began suffering nightmares. While she slept she would be held captive by terrifying dreams, and awaken having scratched herself until she bled.
Again she was taken to a therapist, and prescribed medication to ease the anxiety and nightmares.
Six months later an elderly neighbour was found dead in their home, by all accounts mauled violently by some sort of animal. Suspiciously, the home was locked tight with no open doors or windows and no evidence of any animal or intruder.
Afterwards, once per month, there would be another attack. Pets, stray animals, mailboxes, vehicles. There was no discernible pattern to the attacks, save that they occurred in the vicinity of Andree. Dawn would rise and reveal some new violence that had occurred during the night. Scratches and claw marks were the only trace left behind, no fingerprints or hair or any of the usual evidence. After several months the attacks began occurring more frequently, until they reached a rate of once every fourteen days. Some neighbours reported hearing scratching at their doors during the night, or even footsteps scampering over their rooftops.
Andree’s parents confided in their therapist that they suspected she might be sleepwalking, or otherwise responsible. It was agreed to place cameras around the house, to monitor if the girl was leaving the house during the night.
The cameras did not detect anything, and still the attacks continued. Relieved and guilty, her parents confessed about the cameras. Starting that night the pattern changed, over the period of the next month every camera in a five hundred meter radius was destroyed.
The neighbours were growing suspicious, and a few filed complaints with the police. The family therapist recommended taking Andree into a hospital for observation and testing. Fearful, the family fled to stay with relatives a few hours away.
For a week there were no more attacks in the old neighbourhood, or in the area they were visiting. At the end of the week the therapist was found dead in his home. He had been mauled horribly, torn apart and scattered throughout the house.
This was taken as proof, albeit gruesome, that Andree was innocent, as she was a hundred and thirty kilometres away from the crime scene and had been awake all night watching a movie marathon with her cousins.
The family did not realize this until they saw it in the news the day after.
When they arrived back home they were questioned by the police, but it was clear that they were not even in the city, let alone near the crime scene.
Three days later they receive a call from their relatives, one of Andree’s books had been left behind. In it was a detailed drawing of a mauled body, which matched the dead therapist. Details were included in the drawing that were never released to the public, the smearing of blood on the walls, the exact layout of the room. It was a detailed recreation of a room Andree had never been in. Even at that age she was a talented artist.
The police again came to visit, revealing that they had a witness, who briefly saw a young girl through the window of the therapist’s house.
The details were damning, and Andree was taken to a psychiatric hospital for review. She was put on new medication, and for a time there were no more attacks. Her parents were distraught, exhausted by the unceasing barrage of hope and horror, and decided it was best for Andree to remain in the hospital, at least for a while.
The night Andree found out that she would be forced to stay, her parents died in a car crash on the way home. It was never officially linked to her, but traffic camera footage shows her father suddenly swerving directly in front of oncoming traffic.
Andree stayed in that hospital for the next four years, and there were no more attacks. However her nightmares returned, with force. Every morning she would awake with bleeding cuts. New medication would only be effective for a few weeks at a time. Any restraints on her would cause a panic attack, and she would relapse with more hallucinations. The only solution was to leave her free to hurt herself, and desperately try to find some medication that would help her.
At twelve years old she was transferred to a different facility. This new clinic was better equipped to treat her, the doctors were more specialized. She stayed there for two years, until the night when two dozen of the staff and patients were slaughtered. Andree escaped that night, fleeing into the city.
Over the next two years there were sporadic sightings of her, but keeping track of a single teenaged girl in the city was problematic at best. Now, at sixteen years old she was living on the streets.
The most recent photograph was dated one week ago, a cellphone picture showing a scruffy teenaged girl wearing an oversized hoodie and carrying a backpack.
Steve rubbed at his eyes and tossed the file down. Where the hell had Blaith found these candidates, and why the hell would he want to be anywhere near them? Ghoul was bad enough, with the risk that he’d spaz out and be unstoppable, or infect them with some plague he didn’t even know he was carrying. Now the old man wanted to invite in a little emo girl who appeared to have amassed a body count in the low thirties before she even hit adulthood.
“Sure, why not. She’ll fit right in with Kat.”
That thought made him realize that at some point during his reading he’d decided to recruit Katherine next. If anyone was suited to tangle with ghost girl it would be her and Ghoul, between the two of them they should be able to survive anything she threw at them. Maybe.
Sighing, he shut off the light. For a long while he stared at the ceiling, maybe it was a bad idea to be reading about the murderous little girl who kills people at night.
Eventually he sighed and grabbed his phone. Opening the browser he started searching for medical supplies, odds were pretty good that they would be necessary in the near future.
Steve had spent a few hours that morning putting up drywall in his room and was sitting at the kitchen counter eating a bowl of cereal when Blaithe arrived. Katherine’s file was opened in front of him, Steve had been browsing it as he ate. Most of it he already knew. Ghoul was asleep on the couch, he had apparently decided it was a bit more comfortable than the floor in his room upstairs. The older man picked his own stool.
“Hey. I’m thinking we should get Katherine next.”
Blaithe cocked an eyebrow, so Steve continued, “She’s not very friendly, but neither are the people you’ve got your eye on. This Andree girl, I’m not sure I could survive it if she decides to get violent. Kat probably could.”
“I look for the best in people, getting beat up is what Kat’s good at.”
“You’re a real gentleman. It’s a sound plan, let’s do it.”
“We should try to get her before she fights tonight. She tends to get a little crazy afterwards. I think it might be best if I go alone.”
“I would have thought you’d want Lucky there, he is eminently suited for emerging unscathed.”
“Well yes. Sending him in is the smart move, but I don’t think we should play that card yet. Hopefully not too many people know we have him, and I’d like to keep it that way. If we announce that he’s with us, people are going to act against us. Fame, money, or just for the challenge. He’s got so much reputation that fielding him will escalate things.
Or even if nothing happens, and he we get Kat and everything is rainbows and hand holding, he loses some of his mystique just from being spotted without doing something impressive.
“You have a point. We still have not discovered who it was that initially abducted him either. What is your next move?”
“Andree. From the sounds of it she is essentially the opposite of Lucky, pure offence. Much like with Kat, I’d prefer to be on her good side. Even if her abilities turn out to be less than advertised, she comes with some reputation. If we play it right, we can use that to our advantage. Spin it so she looks weak, play up the mystery surrounding her and spread the word that it’s just hype, or work her reputation so she sounds like the angel of death. Both plans have their drawbacks, we won’t know which is best until we get there. Do you have a lead on her location?”
“I’m told she frequents the shelter on 68th and Midland. Should be able to find her in the dinner line for the soup kitchen.”
On the couch, Lucky muttered and rolled over. He slid right off the cushion and sprawled onto the floor.
“Morning.” Steve waved a spoon in salute.
Lucky took a moment to get his bearings, then heaved himself upwards. “I need a beer.”
“Sorry, kid. Last call was at midnight.”
The teenager grumbled unintelligibly and trudged off up the stairs.
“I’ve got corn flakes!” Steve yelled after him.
“What are your plans today, before going to see Kat?”
“Got some more files to read. Still some renovating to do. Could use some more furniture, beds and such for the last three rooms.”
“I can do that last one, I’ll bring Lucky with me as well. Oak and Yew are taking the day off so you’ll have the place to yourself.”
“Just give me a call when you’re back so I can put some pants on.”
As soon as the others left, Steve was out the door as well, but out the fire escape at the back. He had already investigated the door, and the building’s alarm system, and it only recorded when the door was opened when the alarm was engaged. Since the garage door was also being opened, he had a few seconds before the alarm would activate. It was a bit of a security weakness, but it was coming in handy.
Not wanting to leave any evidence, he couldn’t use the fire escape ladder, because it was an older style that would need to be manually pulled back up. No point making it too easy for someone to get into the building.
The ground was a good thirty foot drop onto hard pavement. Not exactly the kind of thing he made a point to do very often, his power didn’t make him that durable. Still, a few risks were called for in the pursuit of secrecy. He stepped off into the air and plummeted down.
Gargoyle Interlude 3-Blackeyes
Naitlyn clutched the strap of her purse tighter and chanced a glance over at the group of guys walking out of gym. Shirts stretched tight over muscles, the faint hint of abs. The group’s eyes passed over her as they walked by, none even registering her presence. What she wouldn’t give to have them actually see her.
“Oh, Daniel, harder!.” A voice from behind her breathily moaned. Naitlyn jumped and spun around, seeing one of team member’s girlfriends, Jessica leaning close.
“What!? I didn’t say that!”
“You wanted to, don’t deny it. I saw you looking with your puppydog eyes. You were about to melt.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Naitlyn shut her locker and started to walk away.
“He likes you too. He’s got a thing for the whole librarian chic…” Jessica waved her hand, indicating the whole of Naitlyn, “thing you’ve got going on.”
“Uh, yeah. You should come by after the game, at about seven. We’re going to go hang out.”
“Okay…” Jessica was already walking away.
Collapsing against the locker her head spun. This was almost exactly the way she had imagined. It was like something out a fanfic. Perking up at the thought, she ran to the bathroom. She had to write this down, it was gold.
Later that night she nervously clutched the hem of her coat as she hurried towards the school. She had gone all out for this, skirt, heels, and tie. Daniel was going to get all the librarian chic he could handle.
Only a few other people were nearby, leaving the gym and heading for the dorms or parking lot. By the time Naitlyn got to the gym there was no one else in sight. The doors were locked, though light shone through the cracks.
“Hello?” She called, knocking on the door. No one responded, so she checked her phone to see the time. 7:06, she was pretty sure this was the time Jessica had said. Or had it been the latest they were staying, or had they left and were planning on coming back shortly after seven? Had they ever planned on being here? Had it been a joke? Had they forgotten about her?
Only now did she realize that she didn’t know the phone numbers of any of them, and wasn’t sure who she could call that did have their numbers.
In the distance a door burst open loudly, and hope blossomed anew. She ran around the corner of the building to see a pair of tail lights speeding out of the parking lot. Probably not them, right? They were probably just taking their time.
At eight thirty Naitlyn was forced to admit that the only hanging out that she’d be a part of was by herself in the increasingly cold night.
She wasn’t going to get upset, this wasn’t a big deal anyways. It’s not like she wanted to be their friends anyway. Stuck up skinny bitch.
She wasn’t going to cry. Kicking the door she stomped away towards the bus stop. The last bus would be coming through at eight thirty five, then she’d just go home and spend some time with people who actually appreciated her. Even if they only knew each other through the internet.
The bus stop was empty, no busses or people waiting. She sat on a bench to wait and then hopped back up, the metal bench was freezing.
Eight fifty rolled around without any sign of the bus. Was it late? Or had it been early? It had been stupid to wait so long by the gym, she could have been home by now.
“Screw this.” She muttered and started walking, it was only a half hour walk.
A few minutes into the walk someone stepped up beside her. Naitlyn shrieked and nearly tripped, leaving a very confused man staring at her.
“Are you okay?” He asked
“I’m fine!” She tried to regain some composure but didn’t feel like it was working.
“Okay. You probably don’t want to hear it, but you don’t look fine.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Jerk.
“Well, you’re walking down the sidewalk in a naughty schoolgirl outfit, crying. Or is the running mascara supposed to be part of the look? I’m really not sure. I mean it kind of works for you, yeah, but I don’t know if that’s what you were going for. Am I talking too much, I am aren’t I? I don’t get out much. I’m Steve. I’ll stop talking now”. He moved away a few steps, muttering “Too much. Probably too much.” Then he glanced over, “Oh, you’re crying again. Or still crying. Are you cold?”
“I’m fine! I’m not crying! I’m walking home because I want to! I’m not alone!”
“Well yes you’re not alone, if you were I wouldn’t be here. Or you wouldn’t. Or neither of us would be. You look cold, do you want my jacket?” Before she could say anything he was taking off his jacket and holding it out.
“Go away, I’ve got mace! I know….the death touch!”
“I don’t have to follow you. I won’t, take the jacket and, um…” He pulled out a notepad from his pocket and scribbled on it, “you can call me and return the jacket later. Or don’t call me, but still please return the jacket it has important sentimental value. I bought it for eight dollars. It was on sale. Please just take the jacket.” He thrust the jacket and paper at her, then spun around and hurried off, muttering “Oh, sure, smooth. Totally not coming off as a psycho, but she did stop crying so that’s a benefit. You’re really horrible at talking to girls, aren’t you? What do you expect, I’m nervous. I’m talking out loud aren’t I. Yes I am. Don’t look back. She’s not screaming, so I think it went pretty well all things considered.”
“What the fuck just happened?” Naitlyn asked as the guy disappeared into the night. She looked at the paper on which he’d written his name and number. Just dropping it and the jacket here on the sidewalk was a tempting option, but his kind of crazy probably wasn’t contagious, and the night was cold. Hesitantly she inspected the jacket, it wasn’t too bad, even if it did have a junior hoarder collection of things in the pockets. Chapstick, facial tissues, a flashlight, a notepad and pen, a lighter, a folded map of the city, and multiple other things in various other pockets.
Pulling the jacket on she wrapped her arms around herself and hurried home. All the way she kept glancing around, trying to see if he was following her.
Working up her nerves, she held her phone and waffled about dialling the number so she could return the jacket.
She was grateful for it, it had been a genuinely nice thing to do, and even if the guy had been talking to himself he seemed to have that handled. Only after she had gotten home had she realized how badly the night could have been. Horror movies started with scenes like that.
On the other hand, he was a nutjob that she wasn’t sure she wanted to ever see again.
On the third hand, he was a nutjob who might go completely crazy and stalk her to get back his precious jacket. Or stalk her anyways. Was this all an elaborate setup? Would he really have passed up his chance last night only to get all rapey today?
She couldn’t take advantage of the poor guy. She hit dial. After a few second the jacket started ringing.
“Oh you’ve got to be kidding me.” She dug through the pockets and found a cellphone showing an incoming call from her phone. Steve had forgotten his phone in his jacket pocket.
She ended the call and examined his phone, no password required. Flipping through menus she found his contact list and started looking for something reasonably likely.
Narrowing down the contact list didn’t take long, as he only had a few dozen entries. “Work” was the most dialled number. In fact it was the only dialled number in the last month, for a grand total of two calls. The runner up was a “Tim” with one call yesterday. Busy guy.
Before she could think twice she hit the button to redial “Tim”. The line rang for a while before cutting to a generic voicemail service. She ended the call before it could start recording. There was no history of text messages, and the email client showed only generic spam. What did this guy do if not use his phone? The notebook, maybe he actually wrote things down.
Boy did he ever write things down. Each entry was dated, and it started weird and got worse. Either this guy was insane, or…the alternative was even more scary.
On 2.9.2016 Steve had started fighting in the Pits, the quasi-illegal underground fighting organization. That continued for months until he fought a woman named Kat on 9.14.2016. During the fight Steve almost died after Kat broke the rules and tried to gouge out his eye before she hit him in the face with a piece of rebar.
The notebook included a picture, presumably taken at the hospital, showing a battered slightly younger Steve with a shaved head and fresh stitches.
From there, the story got worse. Describing the slow healing process and evident descent into insanity because he started talking about his blood being alive. The entries over the next couple months involve him cutting himself to try to access the power in the blood.
In the middle of all that, he started working a few odd jobs, though never lasting very long. After a string of jobs that barely lasted a week each, he became homeless.
Desperate, broke, and facing down the dim prospects of living on the streets he went to Kat. The woman who “started it all”.
A bloody thumbprint was smeared across the next page, which was otherwise blank.
The last entry in the notebook was dated 8.25.2017, a week ago. It said only a few words. “Tim. 6pm @ 1307 Saint street. 9.2.2017”
“Tonight?” She asked, double checking the date. A search of the address showed an old medical clinic that had closed down a few years ago.
Naitlyn heaved a sigh. Was this real? Should she call the cops? This was crazy. It was a stupid idea. It was…exciting.
Thinking about it got her heart racing, she was almost short of breath at the idea of it. An adventure. Something forbidden, maybe even dangerous. This was the kind of thing that happened to other people, it was going to be great.