At 5:30 he went back to Hussein’s office. Harper was sitting outside, and she leapt up as Bryan approached.
“Don’t tell me you were waiting for me,” he said.
“I was,” she admitted.
“For how long?”
“An hour. Maybe two.”
“Just sitting here?”
“I assumed you wouldn’t want to be searched out.”
Well, she was right. “Are you checking on me under orders or for yourself?”
“Can it be both?”
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter VI Part VII”
They sat in the courtyard, though the wind was nigh freezing. Bryan sat with his back to Cam so he wouldn’t have to look at him while he ate.
“Damn,” Cam said. “It’s getting cold.”
“You brought me out here to talk about the weather?” Bryan took a bite of the sandwich. It tasted like nothing. He couldn’t even tell what was in it.
“Sorry.” But then Cam said nothing more for a full minute.
Bryan chewed and swallowed. “Christ, Cam. What is it?”
Again he didn’t speak right away. Then, finally, “Remember when you recruited me?”
“I didn’t recruit you. I found you. You recruited yourself.”
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter VI Part VI”
I still don’t know if this type of break room would sell food, and maybe I should call it a cafeteria. But Bryan needed a sandwich.
At 12:40 he got word that the synagogue had been contained. Hussein was rubbing sleep from his eyes as he answered Bryan’s knocks. The emails waiting for him told them DC had contained perfectly their own building – an empty church – at 10:30. LA was certain they had found their own gate in a ruined Sikh temple and was gathered and waiting for it to open.
“I’m not used to all this good news,” Hussein said, shuffling the papers on his desk. “I’m waiting for notification of a meeting on how to manage all this good news.”
“Can I have my demons back?” Bryan said. He wasn’t aware that the question came out of nowhere. It had been on his mind all night, and now was a strategically good time to ask, while Hussein was in a good mood.
“No,” was all Hussein said, his demeanor changing entirely.
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter VI Part V”
Here begins the “Bryan mopes around the office” portion of the book. Because when I have writer’s block I just keep writing until I work it out, and I’m still not convinced I’ve worked it out.
Hussein burst back in the room, looking oddly triumphant. “Finally some good goddamned news,” he announced. “DC and Vancouver have found their gates.”
“What?” Harper gasped. “How?”
“We’ve been sending out samples of the dust from the synagogue. Our colleagues have been using it as a compass of sorts. Seems alphas store memories too, you just have to give them a strong enough stimulus to pull them up. Anyway, DC and Vancouver found their gates last night, and LA thinks they came close before the sun came up. They’re going to try again tonight. The samples to Mexico City and Cordoba are still hustling through customs but they’ll be receiving them today. The found gates have the same dust, which can be sent elsewhere. Exponentially we should reach all cities within five days.”
“That’s great,” Bryan said, “but how will they do anything about Somalia and Syria, or North Korea? You can’t even enter those areas, let alone find a gate.”
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter VI Part IV”
Hussein insisted he be given local anesthetic only, which probably seemed like a good idea, but Bryan was certain it wouldn’t make a difference whether he was knocked out or not. And either way he didn’t care, even if the surgery on his arm did take several hours. He stared at the ceiling as the doctors worked trying to save the severed nerves and torn muscle. Not bored. Not anything.
And then he was put back in a hospital room. Full circle. But the morning sunlight through the window was too bright, the walls shining. He screwed his eyes shut against it all until he heard the door open. It was Hussein.
“Close the blinds,” Bryan said. They were his first words since he spoke to Harper in the synagogue, and Hussein was relieved to hear them. He visibly relaxed and went to the window and drew the blinds closed. Even then the room was still too bright.
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter VI Part III”
I wasn’t going to post today, but it’s my birthday, so I should post a birthday post or something. Here’s an old old story of mine that was once published on a webzine that no longer exists. It’s got issues, but I’m not going to read through it and fix them cause it’s tooooo old. Like me.
Short Story: Horror
The old man shuffled around the perimeter, his body stooped, his eyes downcast. Even now the boy moved his hand over the machine’s surface, his face radiating ecstasy, and as he turned his attention to the old man his eyes widened in expectation.
“Is it ready?” he said, his breath a reverent whisper.
“You know as well as I do,” sighed the old man. “We have done our best with it, yes.”
Continue reading “The Naming”
He had to fight against himself to keep speaking, until Harper was pulled back out, blood flying from her arm where the thing had clawed at her. Then he stopped, and fell to his knees. Opening a gate wasn’t a one-man job. He was spent from directing the demons.
The demons rushed out from the synagogue, the force of the gate closure blasting them out over the city. They hadn’t gone through the gate – there had been nothing for them on the other side. The other Possesseds hadn’t expected it and couldn’t contain it. A few of them were knocked to the floor, not from a physical cause but a mental one – it felt like a weight had been thrust against them.
Then it was silent in the synagogue. That horrid dead dust spun in the air, kicked up by all the commotion. Everyone stared at Bryan. He felt guilty of something he couldn’t put a name to.
Hussein stood up from Harper’s side and spoke too loudly for the space, as if he had forgotten the madness was over. “Connors, everyone outside and give assignments. There’s still hunting tonight.”
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter VI Part II”
The pain was incredible, but he didn’t cry out. It fit him, it was supposed to be there in his heart and veins and every nerve. The thing in front of him leapt for him – he felt that more than saw it. He threw up a barrier and though it broke it, it was bounced back. By then Bryan had snapped the arm off of a pew. He swung it with all the force he could pull from himself and struck the thing in the head with a satisfying crunk.
It went down, skull cracked, skin torn from the scalp, but it didn’t stay down. It was only slightly fazed. Bryan tried to hit it again but it both blasted him backwards and ran for him. The only thing that saved him was another barrier he put up to save his bones as he struck the wall, and a temporary loss of coordination in his enemy.
He lamented giving up his knife after the first Eternal fight. If he had it now he wouldn’t be wasting all this time. He swung the chunk of wood and only grazed the thing as it stepped back. Then it threw up containment around Bryan, and Bryan did the same back.
He didn’t have time for this. If the Possesseds captured all the demons he wouldn’t have anything to work with. And then this would have all been for nothing.
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter VI Part I”
End of this chapter.
It was the same as the night they had all gathered to watch the gate open: three groups taking turns possessing, watching. Only this time they were here to act. Once the gate opened the group possessed at the time had maybe five seconds to begin containment and alert the others that it was time. The other two teams had only a couple of seconds to possess, deal through the pain, and help with containment. It wasn’t enough time. Everyone was on edge whether they were possessed or not. Only ten minutes in someone panicked, thinking the gate had opened, and everyone possessed only to discover the glow of a mouse in a corner had set the agent off.
“Christ, people!” exclaimed Connors as they regathered themselves. “We’re not looking for a mouse! You’ll know the gate damned well when you see it! Stop getting worked up!”
This is where we are, Bryan thought. Connors is telling people to not get worked up. Indeed, Connors was wringing his hands so hard he might work them off his wrists.
Hussein interrupted the ribbing at the faulted agent and got the room quieted down again. The only sound was paper rustling, mostly from Connors’s book.
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter V Part VI”
He and Harper got there last, as late as Bryan could make it. He wanted to deal with as little social niceties as he could. Everyone – thirty-one Possessed including Hussein and Harper – gathered at the front of the synagogue, just waiting in the street. Everything in a mile radius had been shut down and evaced. The media was having a field day. Bryan had driven through a sea of reporters and cameras that was breaking waves against the police patrol ringing the area. They knew now that there was a “gate” that the demons were coming through, but little more. That didn’t stop them from tossing out theories though. And of course the Office was to blame for not finding it sooner, and for putting the people living in the neighborhood in danger.
Joining the group, Bryan saw all eyes turn to him. At least there were no Spotters, save for Harper. Just Possesseds here, in case everything went tits up and the demons ran around trying to feed. Still, Bryan withered under the scrutiny.
“So what the fuck’s going on?” Skinner asked him.
That made him smile.
Continue reading “Black Heart – Chapter V Part V”