Rita’s Story

I was given these words to make up a story:  Happy, smiles, my girls, hubby, family, vacation,explore, goals, travel, Love.  This is what I came up with.

Living a California life comes with connotations.  I am sure you can come up with your own version of this story but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.  It especially doesn’t mean it’s mine.  Rolling down the freeway with the top down and the music up, however, that stereotype I’ll let you have.  For now.  But watch it with how far you run off with this narrative until I’ve told you you can go. 

In this season of resolution people are always rambling on about goals.  What are my goals?  Do you have goals?  Of course I do.  We all do.  What sets us each apart is our dedication to accomplishing those goals and our path to seeing them through.  Living, laughing, loving, smiling.  These are not goals though.  These are mindsets.  I am of the mindset to love my life, laugh off the bullshit and smile though it all.  That is the California way.   

So what do you do to breakout?  That’s a question every Californian gets.  Where do you go when you live in the place everyone comes to escape?  How does one vacation from paradise?  This also depends on perspective.  For some people a vacation means just stepping out of their little bubble and escaping the humdrum for a day.  For others it means blowing all the money they’ve worked hard to save for who knows how long.  Vacations for me are opportunities. 

The world is vast and time is short so every chance I get to step away is a chance to explore.  An opportunity to find new places and new experiences, to see life and to grab it with both hands.  Being a mother, and not only that, but being a mother of two beautiful girls is a responsibility.  I have a responsibility as a guide and a teacher to show them all that this world has to offer.  I want to hike through the forests with them and climb mountains.  Show them how to climb trees and what if feels like when you fall out.  Falling is natural, it’s the getting back up we all have to learn. 

I want to travel the globe with my girls and learn as I teach, teach as I learn.  Being a parent doesn’t always mean being the one who knows the answers.  Sometimes you have to humble yourself and learn from the young the many things you have forgotten as you grow up.  There is nothing like having daughters to remind you how to smile at the simple things. 

My hubby can come along as well.  Someone has to open the doors.  Joking aside, there is no doubt that my husband will be there.  That is what love is about; being there to experience life together.  It’s not about me anymore.  It’s not about him.  It’s about us.  You go, we go.  And so it goes.      

A happy life is not defined not by any one thing but by the measure of all things tangible and intangible.  The things you hold and the things that hold you.  What holds me?  Love holds me and I hold it back.  Love of my family.  Love of my girls.  Love of my husband.  When you live a life full of love you are doing it right. 

So what are this California girl’s goals?  To explore this wide world with my hubby and my girls, to love and laugh and smile every moment, and to know every second of every day that this is what it means to be happy.

Othersiders: Arts of the Necromancer – Pt.5

Othersiders: Arts of the Necromancer

Alice King’s house was a ten kilometre walk from the train station and it gave Finian plenty of time to think of reasons why they should back out.  Over a long enough time line Finian Kelley found a reason to back out of any decision, however benign. 

“I’m just saying, Evie, what do we have on us to fight a ghost if one appears?  What if one of your spirits actually shows up?”

“I’m sorry, who was it again that was trying to convince me that we had to live in this current moment and to move forward?  I think that was you.”

“I know, but that was back in the nice, safe train station when you were looking all sad and lost and in need of a strong man to set you straight.  I have since given up that role and returned to wise cracking pansy and I feel that I should point out how under prepared we seem to be.”

Evelyn ignored him.  As soon as the line, “strong man” came out of Finian’s mouth it was meant to be describing him she knew that anything else he said would be utter nonsense.  Truthfully the majority of Finian’s words were utter nonsense.  This made gaining any real insight from the things he said very difficult.  You had to wade through a whole sea of absurdities just to fine the one nugget to truth.  For Evelyn that was too much effort at the moment.

They arrived at Alice King’s house and every sense set off alarms that Finian’s nonsense was much more logical than either of them wanted to give it credit for.  The house was ripped out of a forgotten time and thrown slapdash into a well kept neighbourhood like a troll throw into a group shot at the Miss America pageant.  The grass was the yellowish green of cast off ear wax and the paint on the house appeared to be pealing away in an attempt to play no part in what the rest of the structure had become.  For blocks the two friends had enjoyed the songs of the spring birds on a rather warm day but but as soon as they arrived in front of Alice King’s they were met with a chilly, deafening silence. 

Finian’s mind was made up the moment he realised that this was the house they were meant to enter.  The word asinine came to mind.  Asinine is a word you use to describe something that is completely foolish or stupid, like say giving a blind man a chainsaw and asking for a shave would be an asinine idea.  Walking into Alice King’s house was just as asinine to Finian.  He would much rather have taken his chances with the blind man. 

“I’m not going in there.” 

Evelyn, on the other hand, knew that this was the answer she had been waiting for.  This house represented vindication for all the years of stubborn refusal.  She had never given up on Akira and this was her reward.  The battle to get her brother back would begin in earnest the moment she walked into Alice King’s house.

“Then you can go home, Finian.  Thank you for coming this far with me.”

Evelyn walked towards the door with her eyes focused on the house.  She was staring it down, daring it to look away first.  She would not be afraid of a rotten old house.  Even with it’s smell of rot and stale death.  Evelyn Stone would not be afraid.

“Oh, for the love of Christ.  Wait for me.”  Finian said, running to catch up with her.  He would regret that decision for the rest of his life.

Othersiders: Arts of the Necromancer – Pt.4

Othersiders: Art of the Necromancer (tentative title)

Finian stood alone at the train station, watching the endless crowd of people come and go with his imagination running in overdrive.  A mother and her two daughters marched past him with purpose and determination, the small girls pulling character suitcases on wheels, and Finian decided that this was a mother vampire and her two sucklings.  They carried blood packets in their suitcases and they were off to visit Dracula in Transylvania.  A man in a black suit with a black bowler hat was the owner/operator of the world’s largest poodle farm and he was taking a trip to West Whateverville to purchase the largest puce poodle in the Northern Hemisphere.  This prized overgrown cotton ball with eyes was worth more than all the bananas in Antarctica and he would not go living another day without her.  The stories went on and on.  Finian could never get enough of people watching. 

Lost in his own little world Finian never saw Evelyn coming.  She came up from behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder, resulting in a near ear splitting scream.  Finian was not known for his bravery. 

“Finn, it’s me, calm down.” 

Finian turned back to face Evelyn, his chest heaving and his hands on his hips like he had just run a great distance.

“Yeah, I know.  I was just giving off that war cry thing that they do in martial arts.”  Evelyn stared back at him blank faced.  “You know, the shout before they kill you, or while they are killing you.  I was never clear on that part actually.” 

“Are you talking about ‘Kiai’?” 

“Yep, that’s it.  I was letting off my ki thingie..  I hope I didn’t scare you.” 

“You didn’t.”  Evelyn said with a total lack of emotion.

“Right.  Good.  So, what took you so long?”

Evelyn did not respond.  Instead she turned toward the schedule board to begin looking over the train times.  Finian could feel that Evelyn’s mind was somewhere else as he attempted to read her expression.  He usually tried not to make a habit of looking too hard at Evelyn because he knew he ran the risk of being caught staring.  Looking at her was dangerous, like staring into the sun.  As she brushed her short black hair out of her eyes though he could see they were puffy.  She had been crying recently.  Finian also noticed that she did not have the books she had gone to get from home.  He put two and two together and decided it was best not to ask what was wrong.  He knew the answer already. 

“It looks like we only have about five minutes until the train, we should get moving.” 

She turned back and Finian was caught doing just what he had been trying to avoid being caught doing.  He panicked and just kept staring.  Her hazel eyes boring a hole in his face, he could feel his eyes getting wider.  Crippled with indecision he nodded his head quickly. 

“Yeah, I got the tickets already.  No problem.” 

She raised one eyebrow and cocked her head, a strand of red that was streaked through her hair falling back into her eyes.  She looked sad.  If Finian did not know her better he would have said she looked defeated as well.  He really wanted to know what had been said between her and her parents but asking would be bad tact.  The best he could do was smile and pretend he knew nothing.  That was one thing Finian was an expert at.

“Shall we go?” he said, looking around to see if he was leaving anything behind even though he had been standing there holding all his worldly possessions from the moment he came into the station.  Finian never put his belongings down.  He was too paranoid. 

“Yes, let’s,” Evelyn said, taking a deep breath and sounding a bit more like the girl Finian knew but still not quite right.  This made Finian nervous.  They would need her if they were going to get anything useful out of Alice King. 

The train ride was long and uneventful.  Evelyn sat by the window watching the countryside roll by with a stony expression and Finian occupied himself by making up more stories.  He had found the reanimated zombie corpse of Abraham Lincoln, a fairy, two shape shifters and Madonna’s sex slave.  He was also quite sure that the ancient old lady sitting across from them knitting a Christmas sweater was Tupac in disguise. 

When they arrived at their stop Evelyn turned toward Finian and she almost looked surprised to see him.  Avoiding the topic of what had happened back at Evelyn’s house had become impossible.  Finian had to say something now. 

“Evie, are you alright?  Your head seems like it’s somewhere else.  I mean, I know I am one to talk.  My head is usually somewhere else and VP Grant feels that my head spends the majority of it’s time in a place that I am quite certain I am physically incapable of putting it but that is the point, isn’t it?  I am the shifty space cadet.  You are the strong, focused one.  We really can’t switch parts right now, not when we are going in to question someone who really could know something about these ghosts you have us chasing.” 

The whole time Finian was speaking Evelyn looked completely blank.  She did not smile or frown.  The fight with her parents had obviously done some serious damage to make someone as strong as Evelyn turn this stoic. 

“I’m fine, Finn.  Don’t worry about it.”

Finian was torn.  The non-confrontationist in him wanted to run from this discussion like a witch from fire but then he thought again about what would happen if they really did find ghosts at Alice King’s.  He was quite certain they could end up in serious trouble if Evelyn was not focused.   

“Evie, look,” Finian said, putting his hand on her shoulder.  “I know things at home went badly.  I know you fought with your parents.  It’s written all over your face.  If you want to call it quits for today and just wander around out here in the butt end of nowhere, let’s do that.  But let me tell you something my dad always told me when I moped about.  He would say, “Finn, every moment of your life is precious and you will never get a single one of them back.  People spend a lot of their time looking back at moments and wishing they had done one thing or another differently but it’s impossible to go back.  That means you should focus on the moment you are in.  How do you want to spend it?  Whatever you do, don’t you dare spend it looking back at the one you just left.  That is just a waste.”  So here we are, Evie, and you have to decide if you want this moment right now to be about right now or if you want it to be about what happened back at your house.  It was bad, I know.  If it shook you this much it had to have been.  But it’s over.  So you tell me, are you here with me, or are you still back there at home?”

Evelyn blinked and stared down at her hands.  A small laugh escaped her lips and she sighed. 

“Finn, you are a strange boy.” 

“Yes I am.” 

“What I don’t understand is why you insist on playing stupid all the time when you’re not.”

“It keeps the expectations low.  Besides, sarcasm, good sarcasm, takes a lot more intelligence than people give it credit for. 

Evelyn nodded.  Finian used jokes as a kind of armour and she could respect that.  Evelyn did not believe in arming herself and always rushed headlong into danger with her emotions bared.

“I’m here now, Finn.  Thank you.”

“Any time, homie.”




“I know.  Shut it.”

Evelyn and Finian turned and headed off the train to find Alice King’s house. 

Othersiders: Arts of the Necromancer – Pt.3

Evelyn knew there was going to be trouble the moment she walked into the house.  She had gone home to collect a few books she needed before heading off to meet Alice King only to find her father sitting in his chair with his chin resting on his laced fingers.  This was Paul Stone’s introspective pose and it always meant it was time for a talk. 

The last thing Evelyn wanted to do right then was fight with her father.  She loved her father.  She loved him so much that it hurt.  It hurt her to think that the strongest, smartest man she had ever known was denying that his own son had ever existed.  It hurt even more that he was treating Evelyn as if she were abnormal for not doing the same.  The thing that hurt the most though was knowing that he knew the truth and seeing how straight faced he could lie to her.  Evelyn knew in the depth of her heart that the lying was tearing him apart and could never understand why he refused to relent.  Her father was stubborn, just like her, and their prides were about to force them to say more things they would regret. 

“Evelyn,” he began and she could hear the heavy weight he was carrying in his voice.  He was tired.  Fighting with the only person next to his wife who he treasured most in life was taking the fire out of him.  “I need to speak with you for a moment.”

Evelyn stood in the entryway, torn.  She could engage him here and get it over with or try to ignore the seriousness of his face and proceed upstairs.  He would follow her and still say whatever he was going to say, making the attempt to avoid the fight futile, but at least she could change the venue and possibly tip the balance of power.  These little tactics were below her though.  She was not a coward.  Evelyn stepped into the living room and crossed her arms under her breasts.

“Okay, what’s up?” 

“I got a call from your school today.  Your class counsellor is a bit worried about you.”

“Why?  I haven’t gotten in trouble for anything and I am a straight A student.  I am actively involved in social clubs and I have more extra curricular actives than most of the other students.  I also have a lot of friends.  What could she possibly have to be worried about?” 

Paul unlaced his hands and began rubbing his fingertips together. 

“It’s the issue of which friends you are hanging out with, Evelyn, that has us all a little worried.”

This is where he is going to bring up Finian,” flashed through her mind.

Evelyn had been careful never to bring Finian around the house because she knew how her parents would react.  They would look at him and see a crazy kid come to support her in her wild ideas, making her so-called, ‘problem’, worse.  She would not allow her parents to belittle Finian’s pain.  They did that enough to her.

“What is wrong with my friends, dad?” Evelyn said in a tone that was meant to sound innocent but came off entirely too sarcastic.  She had been spending way too much time with Finian. 

“I think you know what the problem is, Evelyn.” 

“No, I don’t, dad.  You were the one that wanted to have a talk, so why don’t you stop beating around the bush and talk.”

Paul sighed.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. 

“Who is Finian Kelley?”

Evelyn flexed the muscles in her jaw.  She knew this was coming but it still made her so angry.  Angry at her counsellor for butting into something that was none of her business, angry at her father for what she knew he was about to tell her, and mostly angry at herself for not being more careful about how and when she met up with Finian.  She was sure that Finian would be getting a call to his counsellor as well and Evelyn hated thinking that she put that burden on him. 

“He is a new boy at school.”  Evelyn knew what answer her father wanted and had purposefully avoided giving it to him.  She immediately hated herself being such a coward.  it made her feel like she was playing the same game as her father so she quickly added, “he’s my friend.”

“I see,” her father replied.  His voice sounded completely defeated.  “When did you become friends with this Finian?  Before or after you learned that he has a wild fantasy about a family that never existed?” 

Evelyn herself could not have predicted how furious what her father had just said would make her.  She had been preparing herself for the worst but it was not enough.  Finian was not there to defend himself and she would not let anyone speak that way about her friend.

“How dare you!  You don’t even know him and you have the audacity to say something like that?  How could you possibly know what he’s been through?  What evidence do you have that he’s not telling the truth.  What the hell do you know!”  Evelyn shouted the last sentence so loudly that it brought her mother into the room. 

“Is everything okay in here?” she asked.  Airi, Evelyn’s mother, had a slow, calm way of speaking that always brought tempers down from a flare. 

Evelyn had not realised in her passion that she had moved closer to her father.  She was pointing at him, her finger shaking with rage, and she stepped back quickly when her mother entered the room. 

“Yes, everything is fine.” 

“It’s not fine, Evelyn.  I don’t want you hanging around that boy.”  Paul said in a flat tone as he rose from the chair.  “You are not to see Finian Kelley again.  I will say this only once.”

Evelyn laughed.  That is what she usually did when someone threatened her.  Her father never could get it through his head that she was his daughter.  She was just like him – strong, stubborn and spirited.  They were both mustangs.  The more you tried to control them the more they kicked.  Telling her never to see Finian again was only going to assure she never missed an opportunity to be around him.

“And I will say this only once, Paul.”  Evelyn put all the emphasis she could on his name.  She wanted him to know that he was not being her father just then.  She wanted to make him finally see what he was becoming.  “You are never going to tell me who I can and cannot spend my time with.  What are you going to do?  Pull me out of that school?  Move us to another state?  Another country?  I will find a way back.  I will ride a bike, row a boat, walk if I have to.  Whatever it takes.  I will always find a way back here until I find Akira.”  Evelyn did not remember when she started crying but the tears were racing down her cheeks now.  “I don’t care if you’ve given up.  I won’t!”  She turned to face her mother as well, “Do you hear me!  I won’t!” 

Evelyn turned to leave the house in a rush, all the books she had wanted to collect completely forgotten when her father grabbed her by the arm.  His hands were so strong.  She had almost forgotten. 

“When did we become enemies, Evelyn?”

She could not bear to turn and face him.  She knew he was crying too.

“Do you really need to ask that question?”

“I am trying to understand, Evie.  I want to know what is going on with you.  I want to understand why you won’t let this strange fantasy of yours go, but I can’t do this anymore.  Why can’t you see that I am not trying to hurt you, Evelyn.  I am trying to help you.”

Evelyn was so filled with hurt and fear and anger that she could not find words at first.  He had called it a fantasy again.  He had called it a fantasy so many times that she could feel herself almost starting to question if it just might be.  He was wearing her down.  She had to fight it.  For Akira’s sake, she had to fight it. 

Evelyn spun and faced her father, ripping her arm from his grasp. 

“Let me ask you a question then, dad.” 


“Do you love me?” 

It was a simple question but the implication of it made Paul start.

“Of course I love you, Evelyn.  I love you more than anything in this world.”

“For how long?”

Paul drew his eyebrows together and shook his head.

“I don’t understand what you mean.  How long have I loved you?  Since the moment you were born.” 

“No.  I want to know for how long you would have kept on loving me if it had been me they took instead of Akira.  How long would it take for me to be a stupid fantasy.  How long would you care?” 

The shock in Paul’s face was indescribable.  His mouth hung open and his lip began to quiver.

“These are the thoughts that I have to live with.  Looking in your eyes and knowing you have given up on him.”  Evelyn’s voice caught and she had to swallow before she could finish.  “Knowing that you would give up on me.  Knowing that you wouldn’t fight.” 

“I would tear the world apart to find you, Evie, you have to believe that,” Paul said, grabbing her by both arms and pulling her to his chest. 

She let him hug her for a moment but she felt nothing but sorrow.  Every fight they had brought them one step closer to a completely broken relationship.  Evelyn feared that even if she was able to bring Akira back and put her family right, she and her father would never be the same. 

“I wish I could believe that,” she said, pushing away.  “But I don’t trust you anymore.” 

Evelyn turned away again slowly and walked out the door.  She left Paul standing in the entryway with a look of numb shock on his face.  The silence she left in the house was oppressive enough to be considered painful and Paul was rooted to the spot where Evelyn had cut him down. 

Airi approached him and folded herself into his chest.  She wrapped her arms around him and tried to be what comfort she could. 

“How long must it go on like this?  Will this ever end?” 

Paul said nothing.  He had not words left.  Evelyn had taken more from him with her words than she could ever have imagined. 

Othersiders: Arts of the Necromancer – Pt.2

Libraries are temples of knowledge.  They are palaces of silence and concentration where seekers come with questions and leave with answers.  The books contained within any library represent the life work of the very wise and the very creative.  Children are taught from a young age to respect the silence maintained in the library because, as anyone should know, deep thinking is taking place there.  A person who would raise their voice in a library was surely reared in a barn of some sort and deserves to be punished severely.

“I found something!”  Finian Kelley shouted and the echoes of his voice boomed in that hallowed place. 

“Finn, lower your voice.  We are in the library.”  The look in Evelyn’s eye said there would be pain if he did not comply.    

“Yeah, okay, I’ll whisper,” he said in a slightly lower tone but nowhere near an actual whisper.  “This is really great though, Evie.  I found just the person we have been looking for!”

Over the course of the past several weeks Finian and Evelyn had been digging around to find a link to the spirits Evelyn held responsible for the disappearances of their loved ones.  When they began their search they looked for any and all traces of supernatural occurrences.  Their initial research brought back results that were so widespread and numerous that Evelyn was spending nights on end reading through books.  It was Finian that came up with a solution.

“We don’t need any old ghost story or rumours of hauntings.  What we need are cases of delusional people who believe someone has been abducted that no one can account for.  If we try and hunt down every single ghost story on Earth we will be reading books forever.  Any by we I mean you,”  he said offhandedly.  “That is not to say that I don’t like reading but I like sleeping a lot more and reading what you want me to read would prevent me from doing so.” 

“Let me guess, too many big words.”  Evelyn had said with tired look.

“No, actually.  I like big words.  It’s the abundance of master level ghost stories that often leave me in need of a nightlight I cannot stand.  Did you know that they make clap on, clap off nightlights now?  Who knew nighttime could be so fun?” 

Finian had thus set them on a more manageable course and the two of them began tackling the odd world of delusional abduction cases.  Neither were surprised to find that the largest number of cases fitting this description originated in Nevada.  They both quickly agreed that those cases were not worth looking into.  As willing as Evelyn was to believe in spirit abduction she wanted nothing to do with the, ‘little green men poked me in the no-no zone,’ crowd.

Finian passed Evelyn some newspaper clippings and began to read over the notes he had made. 

“According to the report this woman…”

“Alice King.”

“Yeah, her.  She claims to have had a son that was abducted years ago by what she described as…” Finian began flipping through pages, “… a blue spectral being who radiated heat like the sun and smelled of elderberries.”  Finian stopped and looked up at Evelyn.  “What the hell is an elderberry?”

“They look like blackberries and the grow in the warm parts of North America and Great Britain.  I wouldn’t worry about that part though.  So she claims her son was abducted and she is definitely a bit off, how does this make her perfect?” 

“Ah, right,” Finian continued, his voice still carrying all about the library.  “I forgot about the best part.  So she has this photo album set, right?  She has pictures of her with this child over a whole decade.  The kid was ten when he disappeared, if you believe he existed, and she has all these pictures of her with him.  Pictures of him as a baby, pictures of him at the zoo, probably a few of those choice pictures that all parents take of their children just to show other people when they grow up so that we have a full appreciation of the word, ‘shame,’ as well.” 

Evelyn had an introspective look on her face and Finian decided to elaborate. 

“You know what I’m talking about, right?  The bathtub pictures where mom and dad get the full butt shot that they feel obliged to show the first boyfriend who ever shows up at the house to?  Boys usually have the old hot dog sale pictures as well but I didn’t mind so much when mom and dad showed that one off.  I’ve been selling foot longs for a while, if you know what I mean.”   

Evelyn sighed and went back to her reading. 

“Pictures can be faked Finn.” 

“If you don’t want to believe the pictures lady I can unleash the fury right here!”

“Finn, you drop your pants and I drop you.  I am not talking about your childhood pornography.  I am talking about Alice King.  She could easily have faked those photos.  We can look into it if you want to but I don’t think this is worth getting this excited about.” 

“Evie, listen.”  Finian gave up any pretence of whispering and began speaking in his usual hysterical half scream.  “This woman has over thirty albums full of pictures.  Photoshopping one picture takes time.  Photoshopping an entire lifetime of pictures would be an enormous venture and this woman does not have a scrap of computing experience.  She’s a seamstress.  The way I see it we have found someone that is either, A: the lead we have been looking for, or B: a world class nutcase.  Either way I think she sounds like someone you would want to talk to.” 

“I am not going to tell you again about lowering your voice.  Now, why would I want to speak with a nutcase?”

Finian looked incredulous. 

“Because you think there is a secret ring of spirits out there abducting people?  Because you have tasked us with hunting ghosts?  Because everything about who we are is totally freaking nutty?”

Evelyn did not look convinced.  In fact she looked angry and Finian knew this was going to end in bruises of some sort.

“Or maybe just because you need some fresh air.  You have been in the library for too long and you know what they say about God’s special little flowers, they need sunshine!”  Finian put on his best fake smile and threw his arms out wide.  “I could take you out and buy you some nice frozen yogurt, or whatever it is that cheerleaders consume so as to remain at the top of the food chain.  I assume whatever it is has a cool abbreviation like ‘froyo’ or ‘spasm.’”

“What is ‘spasm?’”

“It’s a Spam sandwich.  I don’t know why that popped into my head.  I don’t even like Spam, and I’m a bottom feeder.” 

“Finn,”  Evelyn paused and Finian knew what was coming.  “Shut it.” 

This was something he heard at least five times a day.  His constant running off at the mouth usually ended in him being told to, ‘shut it,’ but he never could manage to do what he was told.

“Yeah, no problem.  I’ll just be quiet.”

Evelyn looked down at the papers that Finian had brought and she was hit by a flash of deja vu.  She knew Alice King.  The woman staring back at her in the paper was someone she had met before.  Evelyn had seen her somewhere before but she could not remember where.  It had been at some kind of party and the woman had looked much happier then.  Who was she? 

Finian began drumming out a beat into the desk and Evelyn gave him a death stare that sent his hands into the air like a surrendering criminal.  He made it so impossibly hard to concentrate.  Evelyn needed to focus to remember where she had seen this woman before and Finian had just chased off the loose thread she was grasping for. 

“Hey, what’s it gonna hurt if we go out and give old batty five minutes to spew her crazy all over us?  It’s not like we’re going to catch it from her.  We already have it.  Besides, maybe she can hem some of the rips you have put in my clothes.” 

Evelyn sat up straight and her eyes shot open.  That was it.  Alice King was a seamstress.  She fixed clothes for a living.  Evelyn’s parents had hosted a party in celebration of her mother completing her doctoral dissertation and they had needed a seamstress to fix her dress.  Alice King had been in Evelyn’s house. 

“My parents know this woman.” 

Finian looked as if he had been slapped. 

“What are you talking about?” 

“She has been in my house.  I have met this woman.  She’s a friend of my father’s from University, if my memory serves me right.”

Evelyn’s memory was impeccable and she knew it was not tricking her now.  Alice King had come to her house to fix the dress as a favour to Evelyn’s father.  Alice had spoken with Evelyn about Alice’s son and said that she wanted to bring him by sometime so that they could become friends. 

“She wanted me to be friends with her son.  I remember her!”

“Okay.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that your family befriends whack jobs but this jumps ole Alice here up a few notches on the list of people I don’t want to have hiding in my closet eating ice cream.” 

“Who would you want hiding in your closet eating ice cream?”

“Scarlett Johansen, for starters.  I have a whole list.  Would you like it alphabetically or…”

“Finn,” Evelyn growled.  “Shut it.”


Alice King was the perfect place to start and Finian had found a way in all his rambling to help Evelyn remember why she was important.  He had also been the one to come up with the plan for narrowing their search.  As much as Evelyn hated to admit it, Finian was a good companion.  He served as a counterweight to her because he was definitely opposite of her in almost every way.  Finian was loud, sarcastic, ridiculous in every way imaginable and completely lacking in the backbone department but Evelyn knew then, just as she had known when she first met him, that this boy was going to help her find her brother. 

He was a part of her world now, whether he liked it or not. 

Othersiders: Arts of the Necromancer – Pt.1

I grew up in a wonderful place with a loving family.  I had a brother and a sister that I loved with all my heart and a mother and father who were caring an supportive of me in every way.  I went to a nice school, had many friends, and got to experience all that life has to offer a young man still learning about the world.  I had a perfect life. 

At least, I think I did. 

I have learned over the last year that what you think you know and what is true are not always the same thing.  What I believe of my past is all strawberries and sunshine.  The truth is more like haggis and hurricane betty.  Neither of which are good for digestion, for different reasons of course. 

My life now is a walking nightmare.  That much I am absolutely certain of.  My parents are gone and so are my brother and sister.  There is a long tale that goes along with that but for now let is suffice to say that my psychiatrist tells me they never existed.  Señorita Rosquilla, as I have affectionally styled my shrink, should be the poster girl for processed sugar products.  Little Debbie needs to step aside.  I wish I could disappear her in that same magic la-la land my family supposedly has been lost to but unfortunately I think she is far too fat to be sucked into the blackest of black holes.  Such is the sad fate of my life. 

I am told that I have created a fantasy world where I had the ideal family to compensate for the crappy life I have now.  I don’t disagree with the ‘crappy life now’ part, but the rest is absolute rubbish.  I did not make up my family.  They existed and I am dead set on proving it.  That is my goal now.  It is my only goal.  Homework be damned!  Okay, that last part serves a dual purpose but let’s not focus on that right now.

For the longest time I had no vent for my frustration, no place to put all my confusion and anger over the entire world’s insistence on telling me that my family was just a dream.  Then I met Evie.  The day I saw her my whole world turned upside down.  That was mainly because I was staring at her with my mouth open like she was a box full of Big Macs and I was a recent parolee from fat camp.  The drool was probably not helping my cause, but that is still neither her nor there. 

Either way, Evie flipped my bony frame over and gave me a rather gentle lecture, for her at least, on why staring is considered rude.  I say ‘for her’ because I have come to learn how extremely painful Evie’s lectures can be.  Evie, or Evelyn if you are a teacher, or her dad, or some other official sounding person who does not like abbreviating names, or you are God and have thus decreed that be thine creature’s name and thou shalt callest thine creature thus or thou shalt be struck by the holiest of lightning… I lost my train of thought.  Oh, yes, Evelyn.  She is a Jiu Jitsu master and the head of the cheerleading squad.  An odd combination to say the least but being the most popular girl in school and someone who could wipe the floor with any member of the student body, male or female, no one has ever thought to comment outside of, “Wow, you’re pretty.”  Even that can get you punched at times. 

On the same day that Evie decided I needed a small lesson in manners she came to find me after school.  I was ready for her this time and whipped out my brass knuckles.  I was going to lay her out, Mike Tyson style, when compassion overtook me and I let her live.  I swear that is what happened.  Whatever else you may hear I did not see her and start running for my life like a zebra who somehow escaped the most terrifying lioness the Sahara had ever spat out only to be tracked back down by the same said lioness.  There may have been urine.  Again, stop focusing on the unimportant parts. 

Evie finally caught me and threw me to the ground in a heap of bones an futility… I mean, I put my brass knuckles back in my bag and… either way  I could tell that she did not want to hurt me this time.  She helped me up and explained that her thrashing of me earlier in the day was a show she had to put on from time to time.  You see, Evie is playing the ‘it’ girl for a reason.  She says it has its uses.  Outside of parting the hallways like Moses I do not know what this really means but she says I do not need to worry my pretty little head about it.  She really did say my head is pretty.  I did not make that part up.  Some of the other stuff I did but I can guarantee you one hundred percent she said my head is pretty.  I totally agree. 

I am sure you are wondering though how it was that Evie came to help me, besides picking me up from the concrete after having turned me into a human asphalt stamp.  I had transferred to Pacific High nearly five months previous and had become a bit of a legend.  The official story that came along with my transfer was that I was an orphan who’s foster parents had died.  I do not know where this story came from or who made it up but it is not true.  I woke up one day in a house that was not the one I grew up in with police officers in my face asking me questions I could not answer.  Yes, two adults were dead in that house.  No, they were not my parents. 

I told Evie this.  She was the first person my own age I had told the true story to because every adult I told gave me the nod and smile that said, “Sure, sure, you broken little thing.  Any story you want to make up to make the boo boos go away is just fine.”  Adults make me want to punch something, which ultimately would not really do any damage so I should probably start saying something like, “adults make me want to make Evie punch something.”  Now that would wreak some havoc.  We are talking max level warrior with a wicked fire mace of righteous fury, attack +20.  Total destruction.  But I digress.

I looked into Evie’s hazel eyes and told her the truth.  She looked back into my blue ones and believed me.  The shock was such that I put on that same face she so disliked from earlier on in the day and I was nearly given a refresher course.  Thankfully I got my mouth shut quick enough for her to huff it off.  Evie explained to me then that she had experienced something similar.  She had had a little brother who she loved intensely.  Then one day she woke up and he was gone.  Everyone tried to pretend like he had never existed but Evie knew better.  She would not be lied to.

Sadly Evie had suffered an almost never-ending series of set backs in her attempts at discovering the truth about her brother.  Her parents had started off gently with her, trying their best to understand why she was making up such a wild fantasy.  When she persisted they made her go and see Señorita Rosquilla as well and that has oddly become another in the long list of things that tie Evie and my fates together.  Who knew the skinny, brainy boy who most people think is some kind of poltergeist and/or foster parent killer would have so much in common with the Amazonian Princess of the total hotness?  Life can be funny.  Life is funny.  Almost every moment of the day life is a gas if you choose to see it that way.  Most people do not not, however, and that is really sad. 

Talking with Evie I learned that she had traveled much further down the track of finding an answer than I would have even thought to go and she believes she has found the key to finding her brother.  She is also convinced that, if she is correct, it will lead to finding my family too.

Evie says it was sprits that took our families. 




She says it with much more convincing style.  I could not convince a starving man to eat the most delicious apple on earth.  This is another reason why Evie and I make such a great pair. 

Evie has done a lot of research and says that there are ghosts everywhere.  She claims that all humans have a spirit and that when we die our spirits move on to fulfil some other role in the world.  Reincarnation is the term for it I guess but she also believes that, just like there are bad humans, there are bad spirits and they come back as all the negative things that exist in the world.  Evie thinks that there is a place between living and dying and that the good spirits and the bad spirits are fighting there over the balance of the world and if the bad spirits take enough of the good spirits into their own little prison then humanity will plummet into total chaos and darkness.  Evie claims that this is why humanity is continuing to lose its spark.  She says this is why people can seem so mean and heartless at times.    

So my family was taken because we were too bright.  We were a happy family and the darkness needed to put us out.  I just cannot figure out why they left me behind though.  Oh, wait, yes I can.  Again, you really need to lay off the unimportant details and let me tell the story.

Evie’s brother was taken because, according to Evie, he was the final piece in her family’s puzzle.  As a whole they were the perfect family.  Mom, dad, Evie and little brother.  Four wonderful, beautiful people.  Taking one out made the puzzle incomplete.  The question that burns Evie and I both is why are we the only ones that remember?  How is it that everyone else has simply forgotten?  Evie believes we have to answer that question first and then everything else will fall into place. 

Her plan of attack is, well, insane. 

We go ghost hunting in our free time.  That, interestingly enough, is one of the few times I have not been joking since I started this rant.  We hunt ghosts.  Like the Ghostbusters.  Only we do not have fancy suits or laser gun things.  We have backpacks with pencil cases in them, a lot of books and some courage.  Okay, Evie has a lot of courage and I have none so that balances out to ‘some’ in my book.  It is a terrifying job but Evie thinks it is going to help us find our lost loved ones.  I just hope it does not take us off to be with them in the boogieman land that Evie describes as, ‘happy purgatory.’  She added the happy when I started to cry the first time. 

Evie has become my hero.  She is my light at the end of the tunnel, my guardian angel, my guru, and the person who constantly beats me senseless.  Please do not pity me.  I had no sense to begin with.  We are travelling about hunting ghosts or rumours of ghosts and I spend most nights pretending to sleep because I cannot turn the lights off anymore, and who can sleep with the lights on? 

So that is my life.  Or I should say, that is my life up to now.  I can only imagine how much worse it is going to get from here.  At least there is a hot girl to share it with.

Please do not tell her I said that.  I like all my parts where they are. 


Downfall IV: The Seeker

Another dark day, another rainstorm, and another murder.  If this guy doesn’t learn to appreciate warm, sunny weather soon I am going to be spending a lot of time wringing out my socks.  Visions of wet dog syndrome dance in my head.

The last victim was an abstraction that I was forced to construct with only half of the materials present.  That meant shading in whole sections blind and gods know if I was even close.  The physical evidence was absolute zero.  The weapon used was unidentifiable as it failed to register in the database.  It was a stabbing weapon with several unique characteristics but we would need him to keep using it to get a better idea of what it is.  Unfortunately he has decided he likes pushing people as well so no luck on comparing the weapon with the next victim.

“Detective!”  The voice booms out over the sound of the pounding rain and what little focus I had on the current stream of thought is scattered to the wind.  I turn to find the chief of police, one Gregory MacGregor, storming in my direction.  Chief MacGregor is five feet three inches tall, thin and wiry like an acrobat with the attitude of a short man who has been treated like someone’s pet for most of his life.  Being put into a position of power almost naturally made him run wild from the power.

“I hear you are claiming this murder had something to do with the stabbing that occurred several weeks back.”

“I did and it does.”

He is waiting for me to elaborate but I don’t have the time to indulge him right now.   I need to see what this killer saw.  I need to understand why he pushed this man into the street.  The woman he killed because she stood out.  How did this man stand out?  Why risk killing this man in the midst of a crowd?

“The M.O. is completely different, the sex of the victim is different, the location and time of day is different.  What could possibly lead you to believe that these two murders have anything to do with each other?”

He’s looking at me.  Damn.  He was just asking me something and I didn’t hear a word of it.  For the life of me I can’t understand why people promote someone to a position and then insist on constantly questioning their ability to do said job.  The whole idea of a supervisor is completely superfluous the vast majority of the time.  The only thing they accomplish is slowing down the supervised with their idiotic questions.

“I am waiting for an answer.”

“That’s interesting.”

“What is?” he barks.

“That you are waiting for an answer.  I am waiting for silence so I can concentrate.  Looks like we are both going to have to grapple with our personal disappointments.”

He is giving me his jaw flex.  This is his power move.  Lacking muscle in his actual frame the only muscle he can flex that a person would visually notice any change in rests in his jaw.  So he is giving me his best chest thump.  I guess I have to stop what I am doing and play with him before he threatens to take his ball and go home.

“I wonder if you have taken a moment to speak with the eyewitnesses.”

“I have not.”

“I gather as much as that may have answered your question and saved me the trouble.  How about you do that now and then we’ll both be satisfied.”

“Why should I ask them when I have my very own source of answers right here in front of me and this person is paid to answer every single question I might have, however inconvenient.”

I love a short man who likes to swing dick.  It gets me all hot in the nether regions.  At least it would if men got me hot in the nether regions.  I guess that means it’s just another pointless exercise in the long list of mundane things I have to deal with to remain employed.

“Over thirty eyewitnesses and they all tell a similar story.  The victim was in a hurry and pushed his way to the front of the crowd.  He was waiting for the light like anyone else when a man dressed in black with a black umbrella either bumped, nudged, shoved or collided with him depending on the animation of the story.  In the chaos everyone lost track of the man in black and it wasn’t until several moments later that anyone even gave the man a second thought.  By that time he was long gone.  Disappeared into the rain just like the last time.”

Captain MacGregor is thinking.  He scratches his baby soft chin and furrows his brow.  These are the telltale signs of the captain in deep thought.

“Similar attire doesn’t mean it’s the same killer.  The method is still different as is the victim.  What do these victims have in common?  Not to mention the first victim was killed in relative isolation.  This man was killed in broad daylight.”

Oh the absolute absurdity.

“I assume by, ‘broad daylight,’ you are meaning to say that he killed this second victim right in front of a mass of witnesses.  As to that it still amounted to the same.  Not a single witness could tell us more than the last set could.  A tall, dark male character in a dark suit.  The suit could be black, or dark blue, or brown.  He was wearing some kind of hat.  He is also carrying a dark umbrella.  How many businessmen in this city fit that description?  We would need to arrest half the city to start our interrogations.  Would you like to apply for the court order or shall I?”

The captain is not amused.  He opens his mouth to begin berating my stupidity again when one of the patrolmen approaches with a woman in an ostentatious scarf and makeup tracked all over her face.

“Detective, I am sorry to interrupt but I think you might want to hear what this woman has to say.”

I look at her and immediately think psychic.  This looks like more of a waste of my time than the captain.  At least it will be a change of pace from the annoying conversation I have been trapped in for the last several minutes.

“Yes, Miss.  Do you have information relevant to our investigation?”

The fortune teller eyes me like she sees something she likes.  I am wondering if I have sucker written on my forehead.

“I don’t know if it’s relevant or not but I was serving that man coffee right before he died.”

“Oh?”  I say.  So fucking what I think.

“He was a serious asshole.”

“Most men in suits are.  What makes this man an exceptional asshole?”

The girl is caught off guard by my lack of tact.  She is not the first nor will she be the last.

“I don’t know how to quantify his asshole-ness for you but when he was kicked out of the coffee shop the whole crowd gave him a standing ovation.”

I stand corrected.  This oddly dressed wreck of a girl just gave me the very thing I was looking for.  I underestimated her because of her eccentric style.  I let the captain get in my head and it almost cost me.  I need to drink less and meditate more.

“Was he the reason your makeup ran?”

She clenches her jaw and I think that her and the captain should go out for coffee after this and share workout routines for their angry face.


That’s all I am going to get for asking the insensitive question she just wanted me to intuit without verbalising.

“That’s the connection.”  The captain looks confused and the girl looks indifferent.  “This killer kills people who stand out.  He killed the first woman because she was beautiful.  She stood out for her beauty.  He killed this man because he was a jerk.  He stood out for being an asshole.”

I give them a moment to digest this before going on.  “The rain also connects them.  This guy knows that the rain makes gathering evidence twice as complicated.  He is using it to make finding him that much more difficult.  That and he isn’t planning these things.  He has no connection to his victims for more than the two or three minutes before the impulse to kill them strikes him.  That means we are dealing with a killer that is prepared at any moment to murder and he is smart enough to get away with it in such an impulsive way.”

A long silence draws out and I know that this monster is going to haunt me for months.  Perhaps years.  Most likely the rest of my life.  Or maybe I’ll get lucky and stand out for the wrong reason on a rainy day and this will become someone else’s problem.

“So we have a killer that is killing with efficiency in a pattern that we can understand but in no way predict?  You want me to go to the chief of police with this?  To the mayor?  What are we going to tell the citizens when the panic ensues?”

“Welcome to the big city.  Population… something minus one.”

He glares at me.  He wants a better answer.

“I would tell them they have nothing to worry about.  The only people this killer is after are the ones that stand out.  For the first time in history it will pay to be totally and completely ordinary.  Be kind, but not too kind.  Be pretty, but not stunning.  Don’t be too fat, or too skinny.  Don’t walk too fast or too slow.  Do everything just enough and you’ll be just fine.”

I smile thinking of how impossible it will be for the vast majority of humanity to stay out of this killer’s way.

“Tell them all to just be mediocre and we’ll never find another dead body.”

The captain is still glaring at me.

“Or just tell everyone they have to buy bright colored umbrellas.”

The captain’s face takes on an introspective look and I am in sudden, desperate need of a drink.

Downfall III: Pusher

“No, goddamit, this isn’t correct.”

Belligerence before 7 o’clock in the morning should be a crime.  The money lender in the overpriced power suit does not share this sentiment however and the pay-by-the-hour aspiring painter/actress/writer is brought to tears for misunderstanding what money buys one beyond the material, it affords one the right to belittle and berate all those of a station deemed only as, ‘below.’   She shall now pay for her crimes in tears.

“I am so sorry sir.  I prepared the order as it was given to me.”

Honest though this answer may be it will not avail her.

“So you’re telling me that the incompetent one is that bitch over there?  The one that took the order?  She fucked it up first and now you are just the bearer of bad news?  Is that the story?”

He is shouting with such vehemence that the veins in his temple throb like a woofer.  The song might have been, “Another one bites the dust.”

“I don’t care which one of you cunts was the originator of this mess I just want to know what you are going to do to make it right?”

The girl is timid.  She has learned by now that speaking will only incite him to further anger.  She has tried unsuccessfully now three times to derail him with kindness and honesty only to fuel the fire.  At a loss for what avenue to pursue next her hesitance only brings about the next volley before she can make a choice.

“It’s beyond me how such a simple fucking job could be so easy to fuck up.  I mean, for chrissake, this is fucking coffee.  Is it really that hard to understand?”

The girl stares back, still searching.  Her limp blonde hair hangs from her like her now beaten spirit.  Her whimsical attire has lost its flair and the playful makeup running down her face has transformed her into a kind of drunken circus clown, one who has been wandering the streets giving out hand jobs after the last show went south.

“It isn’t that, I just…”

The stammering definitely does not help.

“Do you know what this costs me, you ignorant bitch?”

She opened her mouth to speak but he was not actually looking for her to answer.

“It costs me time.  Do you know what my time is worth?  Ten minutes in my life could mean the difference between hundreds and hundreds of thousands.  I could have bought a small fucking country in the time it took you to stick your head up your ass and fuck up a drink order.  I could have purchased your entire backwater family and sold them into prostitution in Thailand and then bought fucking Thailand with the profit by now.  But no.  I have to stand here and get a stupid look from a cunt wearing a hippie bandana with yin yang tattoos who doesn’t realise that the worst thing about the drug addled sixties was that every last one of those hippie fuckers were dirt fucking poor.

“Oh yeah,” he gesticulates like the enormous raging hard on that he is, “free love and drugs.  That’s the ticket.  Then maybe you’ll write a screenplay and tell everyone about your feelings and it will sell a million copies and you can buy fucking flowers with it you dopey bitch.  Sounds like a real winner.”

The girl is crying uncontrollably now.  The tears that fall are not from the pain of being exposed but of being so woefully misunderstood.  They were the tears of bearing labels that were not hers to bear.  The scarf was her mothers and the tattoo was not a ying yang.  It was a picture of two intertwined women that represented the love of her life.  What did that matter to this man though?

“I’ve got some advice for you,”  he whispers.  “You want to sell that screenplay?  Write that book?  Be in the big film?  The place to start is right here.”  The man places his hand on his crotch.  “Sucking my dick would finally give you a story to tell that someone might want to listen to it, mind you up the word count on the details of my cock and tone down the bits about your second hand ass.”

“Sir,” in steps the manager.  It took him this long because his spine was left somewhere in the stock room and he needed his balls to find it and those were also MIA.  “We are going to have to ask you to leave this establishment.  You are not welcome here anymore.”

Tough words.  If only he had managed to say them whist standing in front of the girl, rather than behind her.  A full five feet behind her.

The man in the suit laughs.  Expulsion at this point is the perfect finale to his tirade.  It could not have fit his agenda more perfectly.

“You want me to leave?  Fine.  I’ll leave.  You just wait till I get back to my office and light this shit hole up on social media.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Tumblr.  Instagram.  Your ass is about to be mud.  You have no idea who you are fucking with.”

The girl mumbles something under her breath.  She is attacking back but the fear gets the better of her.  She cannot fling her arrows as straight and true as this man.  She simply lacks the hate that he is capable of.

“What was that you dike bitch?”

That last one does it.  Attacking her mother pushed her further than she had ever been pushed.  Mocking the tattoo brought her to the line.  The last insult finished it for her.

“I said I am surprised that someone who claims that their time is so valuable would waste it playing around on sites like those.  Aren’t you afraid someone will buy up Thailand while you are updating your statuses?”

The entire coffee house erupts in applause and the man claps along.  His hubris is bulletproof. He strides out through a rain of jeering patrons into a torrential downpour.  He grabs an umbrella from the rack near the door, not one belonging to him but that is irrelevant, and strides out into the city streets.  He is thinking of nothing but what the rest of the day will hold for him.  The applause got him going and the fight in that girl’s eyes when she finally got the nerve up to say something.  He liked that.  It got him hard.  He would have to find out where that little hippie lives and pay her a visit.

He steps up to a crowded intersection and the light is red.  He pushes his way to the front and glares at the light.

Damn lights in this city are never ending. 

He looks down the street and sees a delivery truck speeding toward the intersection. Just then he feels someone nudge into him.  The last thing he remembers in life is a soft voice whispering into his ear.

“Rudeness is an intolerable defect.”

As the throng of people scream, panic ensues.  Several people would recall later to the police seeing a man in black with a dark umbrella turning from the scene just as the man fell before the speeding truck.

Not a soul could remember a thing about his face.  The only thing they seemed to recall was the umbrella.

Downfall II: Gumshoe

Rain.  I hate the goddamn rain.

The dead woman I don’t mind so much.

Murder with so little flair is passé.  If it weren’t for how beautiful this woman had been no one would have given a second thought to her being stabbed in the street.  But with the obvious expense she had gone to to do herself up it warranted all the big guns.  Sirens, cameras, tape and media.  Let the circus begin.

Does that make me the ringleader or the clown?  Perhaps I can be that lout with the whip trying to tame the lion.  Or maybe I am the lion.  With the way my head feels now it would make sense.

“Christ man, what a waste.  Why kill this girl?”

The forensics team has arrived and they feel the need to add irrelevant blather to my list of problems.

“For all the same reasons that any human kills another human.”

Cue the dumfounded look of a scientist who only understands test tubes, slides and DNA.  These people understand humans on a molecular level, all the little bits and pieces that actually make them substantial in a physical way.  They understand the crude matter.  Forensics people spend their lives studying humans, not human nature.  Motive is something they will never get.

Turning to the collector of all those little pieces that amount to the truth of humanity in a court of law I can’t help but feel exhausted.  It is my job to understand the reason and their job to understand the method but like all humans these too desire to be the thing they are not.

“Money, love, rage, jealousy, fear, loneliness, impotence, hate, lust…”  I look into the blank face and know that the truth is not getting through. “None of these are the reason this woman is dead though.”

I walk away knowing this case will come to nothing.  This woman is dead and I will never find the killer.

“So what is the reason?”

He just had to ask.

Feeling the rain hot on my face I know the answer to that question without a second’s hesitation.  It has been staring me in the face from the first moment I laid eyes on the body.  This wasn’t a crime of passion.  This wasn’t even planned.  This was a crime of circumstance.  It was totally spontaneous.  She was killed for standing out at exactly the wrong moment in exactly the wrong place.

“He killed her because she was remarkable and because he could.”



Downfall I: The Umbrella Man

A tall, lean woman stepped from the train gazelle like with her blonde hair trailing behind her.  Heads turned like falling dominoes as they watched her move fluidly amongst the crowd, a soft skinned spectre smelling faintly of vanilla.  She had a date and she was late.  The woman was obsessive about punctuality and abhorred the state in which she now found herself.  How had this happened? 

The crowd came to a bottleneck, forcing her to slow, and she pushed a stray hair behind an ear and brought her long, slender arm up to look at her watch.


There was nothing to do but accept that she would arrive less than ten minutes early.  This was unacceptable.  Her attire was immaculate, purchased at all the most well known designer stores and her body she kept with equal care.  Her skin was moisturised, her hair meticulously washed and conditioned.  Even her scent was perfectly researched so as to perfectly accent her natural aroma.  She spent an hour a day doing vigorous exercise and ate only all natural foods.  Her body was a temple and it was cared for and accessorised as such. 

The crowd began to pour from the building and she was released into the night only to be approached with a new horror.  It was raining and she had no umbrella.  This was the second thing this evening she had not thought of or planned for.  Her brows knit in frustration and disbelief.  She must have checked the weather report before leaving her office.  This was a detail a woman of her organisation would never overlook. 

Exasperation began to overwhelm her when a man emerged from the crowd like a dark god stepping out from the mist.  A man in black with eyes like a dragon and a knowing smile.  He saw her plight and had come to rescue her, umbrella in hand. 

If pressed to answer she could not have said what it was about him that caused her to completely lose track of all the things she had been thinking and feeling but she had.  He was stark and real unlike any man she had ever seen in her life.  He took her hand and led her into the night. 

“I have a date.”

He only smiled and she followed.  They stepped from the train station into the darkness, the rain pelting down.  It was a hot, summer rain at the end of a long day. 

The stranger led the woman into the heart of the storm and her mind began to fight back.  It was the time that did it.  She could not be made to be any more late than she already was.  She reached up to dislodge herself from his lead and he spun her into his arms.  She pushed back halfheartedly, anticipating his lips and the heat they would bring.  Her feelings were all wrong.  What was happening to her? 

When she came face to face with the stranger her eyes locked with a darkness she could not comprehend. 

This was no gentleman. 

This man was death. 

She realised it a moment too late and the piercing pain in her back just below the shoulder blade told her there was nothing left to fight.  He kissed her, long and deep, and she felt her life leaking from her in a torrent. 

“Why?”  The words tumbled from her trembling lips as her heart betrayed her, pumping faster and faster, speeding her to the end.

“For the same reason any man destroys a beautiful thing, to ensure that it is his and his alone for all time.  It was the only way to truly have you.” 

She slipped from his arms to collapse into the dark street.  The rain began to wash away her perfectly painted mask, all the time and care amounting to nothing in the last moments.  Not a single eye turned to see what had become of the creature only moments ago they could not pry their eyes from.  Her life flowed into the night and the man with the umbrella strode away.  The darkness enveloping him as completely as it had produced him and her last fleeting thought was of how terribly late she would be now.