And so the story begins…

Cheery-campfire
– The cracking of a camp fire, the smell of the wood smoke, the listeners wait expectantly-

Hello weary traveler,

Pull up a chair, sit by the fire and warm yourself…I was about to begin the stories. Stories of adventure, of other worlds and other lives. Stories of blood, of heartache, of violence and of heroism. Tales of dastardly deeds, damnation, salvation, joy and loss.

So shall we begin?

This is a collection of stories I have written as part of my adventures in the world of Role play – be that table top or live action – I hope you enjoy.

 

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The long day is over

The following is a story relating to the Profound Decisions LARP system, Empire.

This is the aftermath for my character Eira Pridestalker, The Shadow Lioness, of the death of the two Generals of Navarr. This in particular relates to the death of Carr Foxden.

The long day is over

The dark haired changeling waited in the trees at the edge of the glade. Some would complain of the cold, but summer burned through her veins and she stood unmoved in the chill night air.

Waiting.

Waiting with the patience if one who stalks and hunts.

But this was not a hunt, she was waiting for the people to leave. She had no stomach nor tolerance for the masses, her rage smouldered just below the surface, threatening to break through once more. She growls softly as she stepped into the glade, now empty except for the one person she wants to speak to. She brings the bottle of mead to her lips and cannot suppress a slight grin. Well at least this time he cannot answer back. As quickly as it amuses her, the sorrow swells igniting the rage again. She swigs the golden liquid, the sweet and strong alcohol a momentary distraction. She remembers the jovial attitude before the stepped through the portal, bottle in hand and barely armed. She had been the same.

It was sport, a game, play. Nothing more.

The instant they had seen there was more, the consequences of a lack of foresight the focus was instant. Actions always have consequences. Eira remembered his dash, she had almost followed but chose to stay, to keep the enemy distracted. Regret swells momentarily and she hisses at the wrench. Then, rounding the corner to see…Cormac, Connaught and…she looks at the body that she saw in the sun, now in the moonlight. Her heart drops as it did then.

Eira walks to the body of Carr lying in the grass. She remembers the last moments, launching herself at the enemy to drive them back allowing precious moments to save her striding mate, her friend…but not in time to save him. She had listened to his dying words to Connaught before he ended his suffering. The rage pushed against the edges of the cage of her mind like an angry lion. A growl of anguish and frustration escapes her lips as she sits heavily next to the corpse. Her head tilts as she observes him for a moment, he looks…wrong. It takes a moment to realise that his face is relaxed, not wearing a frown or a sardonic smile or teeth bared in rage. She pauses, then punches him in the arm. “You bastard ” she mutters “only you would die on a fucking game of hide and seek” she knocks back the bottle again. “I never did get that hunt…” she smiles wistfully at the memory of Mourning Hollow. He had been so angry at being called a prey animal, and the fierce grin when she had said that she liked a challenge. The Generals had been announced. Brennos had the Quiet Step and Ulric the Black Thorns. The quick appointment was required, but still felt jarring.

“I gave him the sash – I wanted to bring it to you – but you told me to give it to the next” she growled and then snorted a brief laugh “I get the feeling he thought I was going to punch him”

She waited

“No, I do not trust him, but neither did you”.

She drank again.

Silence.

She watches the body, wishing it would move. Some scathing retort or sarcastic remark. But that would not happen. He was gone into the Labyrinth, as so many others she had cared for. The changeling felt tears sting her eyes. They had not been close, but he was a fellow thorn, a leader, and a friend. He had spoken to her when he thought he was not coming back from battle. Perhaps…no fates had decided his dance was to move on.

A single tear falls. Too many empty seats, too many spaces at the fire side. She traces the link of chain tattooed on her right forearm. Lingering on the second to last. Two of the freshest. Loyalty to the dead. Her Generals.

She drinks again, and begins to sing. The words come quietly as if they are pouring from her soul:

Feeling tired

By the fire

The long day is over

The wind is gone

Asleep at dawn

The embers burn on

With no reprise

The sun will rise

The long day is over…

The silence engulfs the night again. She looks at the body, as if trying to burn his face into memory. Eira bends down and kisses his forehead “See you soon Carr” she sets the half bottle by his side. The changeling removes her pride stalker sash from her belt, and lays it next to the body. Eira turns to leave, but her peripheral vision catches a slight swaying, one of the many trinkets in the trees caught in a shift of light. A small, rough carving of the Foxden. Carved by Merryn. Her heart drops again. Another goodbye yet to be. Her fingertips touch the wooden amulet lightly.

A twig snaps and there is a familiar swoosh of skirts. The changeling growls softly. She is in no mood for company, no matter how congenial, not even Sian.

Eira slips quietly away as her friend approaches, stalking into the shadows without trace.

 

Never Think

Apocalypse 1 - blank

This carries on from “A matter of life and death”

Alex stirs. The DVD had finished some time ago. The menu screen on the TV casts the only light into the room. Blinking, she peers at the time on the DVD player 3.40am. She’s been asleep seven hours give or take. The awkward position on the sofa arm had made her neck ache. She bends it experimentally- listening to it crack. She arches her back a little; her joints protest the small movement. Her muscles ache dully like she’s been running. It must be the stress. She feels worse for sleeping fully clothed.

Becoming more aware of her surroundings, she realises her hand which had been placed around Ray’s midriff, has slid down, and rests on his inner thigh. Her face colours at that and she carefully moves her hand. This makes her aware of how tangled their limbs are and feels a second rush of heat to her face. Her leg hooked round his, she’s almost lying on top of him! She’s ended up further down than she started now leaning on him rather than the other way round, her head against his chest. His head now gently pressed against the top of hers. The position is intimate. His heartbeat rings in her ears.

She moves concentrating on untangling herself from him, to remove the temptation but the act causes Ray to stir. She looked up at him, and he blinks at her. She sees him slowly register where he is and who he’s with. His eyes light up in recognition. A slow tired smile spreads across his face.
“Sorry, babe, I feel asleep” he mumbles She shudders involuntarily. ‘Don’t say that Ray’ She thinks ‘it makes you sound like someone you really don’t want to’. His pupils are huge in the dim light. They fall silent just looking at each other, a heart beat, both suddenly very aware of the press of their bodies against each other; she sits up, shifting the blanket, swinging her legs to the floor. The air in the apartment is cool and she feels him shiver slightly behind her with the blanket removed. ‘He needs to be somewhere warm with this level of sleep deprivation’ she thinks sluggishly. ‘A sleep deprived person cannot regulate their own body heat’. Thanking her seminar on the effects of sleep deprivation, the police have only just started to take the effects of it seriously in RTAs. Only problem is you couldn’t test for it, not like a blood alcohol test, but it was just as lethal. She shudders again, this time thinking of the consequences if she’d have let him walk out. ‘No don’t think about that’. She takes his hand.
“C’mon Ray” she said sliding off the sofa to her feet “You need to get to bed”
He allows himself to be pulled off the sofa, and starts looking for his shoes, assuming this was kicking out time. His limbs feel heavy and uncooperative, like he’s moving through treacle. She sighs at him and doesn’t let go of his hand. He stands, still a little shaky, looking more than a little confused. She guides him and he follows, stumbling a clumsily after her. She leads him to her room.

‘Just put him to sleep in your room.’ She rationalizes. ‘You sleep in the spare room.’ She guides him across the apartment floor and to the door of her room.

 ‘Thank God Maura isn’t here!’ she thinks. ‘She’d be unbearable if she found out!’  She opens the bedroom door and leads him inside.

’It smells nice’ thinks Ray still not catching up where he was being lead. It smells like vanilla and cinnamon. His thoughts fogged by fatigue even after sleep and the chill of the wooden floor on his bare feet. Wait Alex is talking and he realises he hasn’t been paying attention.

“Ray? I said you need to takes some clothes off if you’re going to bed” Her face reddens suddenly realizing the connotations of her words. There’s a moment of awkward silence. He says nothing he doesn’t seem to have leapt to that conclusion. She clears her throat “I mean you need to be comfortable to sleep” She breaths a sigh of relief.

Fatigue still clinging to him, he still sees the logic and misses her flushed face in the dark. He starts to undress, clumsily pulling off his trousers, almost falling over. He catches himself of the bed. He struggles with the buttons of his shirt, unable to get a hold on them. He can’t focus. He resorts at last to pulling it over his head. He sinks down onto the bed.

She looks away guiltily. He doesn’t notice, lying down gratefully. It’s good and comfortable and smells like her. His eyes close and he feels her move on the bed near him.

She moves over the bed to pull the covers over him to keep him warm and plans to make her exit, when she feels a strong arm around her waist. She freezes. Rays arm round her waist, his eyes still closed. He pulls her gently but determinedly to him. She resists at first but he frowns without opening his eyes and she relents, allowing herself to be pulled to him. He holds her close, clinging to her like a safety blanket.

“Ray?” She whispers. His name barely registers.

‘God she smells good’ he thinks sleepily rubbing his cheek against her shoulder. ‘Wait did she just say something?’

“Mmm?” a sound nothing more to indicate he’s heard her.

’He’s too tired to think right now’ she considers. ‘It’s not like anything’s going to happen’.” Nothing, Ray. You sleep.” She sighs resigned

“‘K.” He mutters; sleep starting to take him again.

Alex lies awkwardly, wide awake. The need to sleep is still there but she’s fully dressed. ‘And there’s a man in my bed’ she thinks uncomfortably. ‘The first once since…’ she lets the thought trail off no she would not think of him, not at a time like this.

She fidgets uncomfortably. Her trousers are bunched up, and starting to cut off circulation. She moves away from him cautiously and he stirs a little. She can’t sleep in her clothes again! But…aww hell! She makes the decision.
She moves again and unbuttons her trousers and starts to slide them off. She feels him open his eyes and freezes again. ‘Shit.’ Rays hand flexes on her stomach.
The movement wakes him. Rays heart near stops, thoughts catching up like a freight train slamming into him. He realises that he’s half dressed. He’s lying in her bed. And now she’s getting undressed. The thoughts make him suddenly very awake. “Alex…?”

She looks at him. She can taste her pulse in her mouth. “I, er…” She starts quietly “Can’t sleep all my clothes” She finishes lamely.

She’s painfully aware of the line of his body close to hers and that he has gone very still watching her carefully. She looks away and concentrates on the task in hand. She continues to take off her trousers mentally telling herself off for being stupid. ‘You’re both adults, its just lying in a bed grow up!’ She arches her back to take off her bra under her t shirt leaving it on and her underwear. ‘And’ she notes. ‘He’s seen dressed like that before remember?’ Again she feels heat rush to her face at the memory, fleeing the still hand on her midsection. She slides her discarded clothes to the floor. ‘Its comfort’ She tells herself ‘just comfort and sleep’

He watches her undress under the covers, seeing nothing. But the idea of it…it’s just too much. He looks away trying to push the thought with his gaze as he feels himself rect. He still has his arm round her waist. He starts to move it when he feels her pull his arm gently round her as she settles leaving him spooning her still form. Ray freezes looking now at the back of her head. “Err…” He starts unsure if this is wise.
“Cuddle.” She states tiredly “like on the sofa, less clothes but like that”

She feels tired now; despite the voice in her head telling her how weird this was. Why am I so comfortable with this? She wonders briefly. A feeling of safety for the first time in months, she’s tired but her racing mind still wont let her sleep yet, but the relaxation is a welcome relief to the usual trauma of bedtime.

She feels him relax a little. ‘Good at least one of us will get some sleep’ she thinks, trying to still her thoughts. She closes her eyes willing sleep to find her and take the sensation of him pressed so close against her.

He snuggles up her, she moves in closer as he does. The involuntary little movement from her makes her hair fall, exposing the line of her shoulder. He moves his face closer to the nape of her neck, his arm draped across her. This is good. He thinks. It feels safe. He breaths in the scent of her skin.

His warm breath gently plays her neck and shoulder. She smiles a little; this is good whatever it was. She pulls his arm further round herself. She sighs contently.

Through the haze of comfort and the becoming of sleep Ray is aware of the press of her body against his. The scent of her skin with each breath he takes. Her small movement leaves his fingertips brushing the bottom of her breast. Her soft breathing, a gentle sigh. He bites his lip and tries concentrating on sleeping and not her body against his. She moves slightly shifting her body closer against him. He feels the involuntary stirrings of his groin, and moves little away from her lest she think him a sex pest.

Alex registers the shift of his hips, creating a cold spot. She moves back against him and feels him hard pressing into her thigh.

Ray stops breathing.

Alex can feel the pounding of her heart in her chest like a caged animal throwing itself against the bars. Her eyes open now, keenly aware of him behind her. She feels things tighten low in her body and a fresh flush of heat to her face.

She moved her head to look at him. He’s looking away; she turns to him and moves his face to look at her. Their eyes meet.

After neither could remember who moved first, but all at once they were kissing urgently. Alex locks her fingers in his hair the other grips his shoulder and slides down his back. A brief press of her nails on his skin. Ray’s hand gently sweeps his hand down her body and across the side of her stomach towards her hip, hitting a ticklish spot making her flinch. Ray stops kissing her pulls away, thinking he’s made her uncomfortable.
“Sorry” he whispers, a little breathless
She notices the concern in his eyes, even in the dark. She wants this, she wants him “Stop being a gentleman and kiss me, Ray” her voice is breathy but the command is clear in her voice and he can’t say no. He closes the small distance between them.
The kiss resumes, more urgent heightened in its intensity. Ray, feeling more confident, slides his weight on top of her, her hands clumsily pulling him closer. His kisses move across her jaw to caress down to her neck and shoulder. She reciprocates the gesture kissing with burning need; she softly presses her teeth into the muscle at the base of his neck as it joins to his shoulder. The sensation makes him gasp and he pushes himself against her. The sensation of him pressed against her, hard and eager makes her hips gyrate grinding him against her.

Her hands slide down is back onto hips. She bites his earlobe gently, teasing between her teeth making his breath come in sharp ragged gasps. Her breath on his skin turning him on. Her finger tips hooking on the edge of his boxers.
She locked her legs around his waist, embracing the moment. “Please” she hears herself plead “please”. And like two teenagers they took it, fumbling with underwear under the duvet. Ray pressed down on her, filling her up. Her breath catches sharply at the sensation. He stops and starts to move back thinking he’s hurt her.

“No… Don’t stop” she breaths. She moves quickly and he discovered exactly how powerful her legs actually are, swapping their positions deftly leaving her on top. He attributes horse riding to that strength, briefly before she pushes down onto him, forcing a gasp from his lips. She arches back pulling the t-shirt off. He watches like a starving man; before she bends down to kiss him again, as if feeding from his lips and mouth. Her need matching his own.

For the next few hours, the rest of the world didn’t exist. They loose themselves in one other, and finally drifting off in each others arms, entwined and blissful.

Alex opens her eyes. 08.10am the alarm clock reads. She smiles remembering the night before, or should that be this morning? She gently she rolls over to find the bed next to her empty. Her heart jolts sharply. He’s gone. She sits up cautiously holding the covers across her chest. She looks round the room. Nothing. He isn’t there. The disappointment stabs at her. A mixture of sadness and anger. ‘Not even a fucking letter’ she thinks bitterly.

The bedroom door opens.

It takes a moment to process. Ray stands in her dressing gown – well not exactly. She stifles a giggle. He’s wearing the short scarlet silk dressing gown Gill had bought her from Thailand! Even she doesn’t wear that! He backs into the room, hands occupied. He turns, hair tousled and smiles at her tray in hand. She looks to the tray carrying two cups of steaming coffee and some toast. His hairy naked legs and arms protruded from the rather amusing attire.

Alex feels the tightness in her chest subside and berates herself for thinking he would just walk away.

She looks him up and down and raises an eyebrow.
“Don’t worry, I am not naked under here” She grins at her “I have my pants on. I didn’t want to give anyone any frights down in the kitchen.” He looks over his shoulder.

“Maura’s gone home” she tries to suppress the grin tugging at the corners of her mouth. He still smiles but looks faintly surprised, it makes him appear younger. She covers her mouth to suppress another giggle. He moves to the bed putting the tray on the chest of drawers and picking up a cup of coffee he moves to her on the bed.

’We’re alone’ she thinks and it makes her grin wickedly at him. He sees her grin and looks at her quizzically. Her hand reaches out catching the tie on the dressing gown and starts to coil it in her hand until it’s tight. She tugs on it softly but it enough to spill a little coffee on the silk. He doesn’t notice ‘That wont come out’ but pushes the thought aside. ‘Never liked it anyway’ “You better put that down before I make you spill it” she says, breath catches slightly. She grins putting the coffee cup on the tray behind him. He plants his feet slightly stopping the steady pull. He smiles turning his gaze to her.

“Why Ms Newman!” he remarks in mocking scandalised voice “I do believe you are trying to get me back in bed!”
Her grin widens “Maybe…” She trails off looking up at him “Maybe I just want to show you how glad I am you’re still here…” The soft pull on the robe tie increases. He allows himself to be reeled in. He laughs a low masculine laugh in reaction to the heat in her eyes.
“Oh really?” he asks leaning over the bed stopping inches from her “And how glad is that?” He watches her eyes move over him. She seems a little unfocused, distracted. She doesn’t appear to be listening to him, not really. She drops the covers, her other hand reaching for the robe he’s wearing. The movement makes the sheets fall to her waist bearing her breasts. His breath catches at the sight of her pale skin. She doesn’t notice, biting her lip eyes level with his chest. Her free hand slides against the silk moving though the gap in the robe pressing against the warmth of his skin briefly before running her hand over his shoulder. She grips, pulling him closer. Her eyes flick back to his. The wanting there makes him shudder in anticipation.

‘This doesn’t make any sense!’ Shouts a voice in her head ‘Not with everything, not with what you have to do…’ No more thoughts like that. Too much thought, don’t think for once. Just for once don’t think.
“We’ll if you come down here I’ll show you” she whispers. She heard him alright.

He moves closer “Will you now?” loosing the mocking edge now, his voice almost as breathy as hers. She closes the distance and kisses him moving him down onto the bed. Her soft incessant kisses move across to his neck, and he finds a voice “And just how will you…” He trails off as her lips move down his now bared chest. He savours the sensation. She moves the silk and continuing the press of her lips against his skin moving to his stomach, continuing lower…

He gasps.

A Matter of Life and Death

Apocalypse 1 - blank

There’s a knock on the door. It makes Alex start despite expecting it. He said he’d be here in 20 minutes she thinks and then glances at the clock. It twenty past six. Damn it.

She looks at the MP3 recorder sat on the counter. Her stomach lurches uncomfortably. Just breathe, there’s an explanation for this she reasons with herself there better be. She adds cynically. Push past it Alex. Time to put your game face on.

A second knock. Deep breath. Let it out. She feels the muscles in her face relax, smoothing into blankness. She moves to the door and opens it.

Ray stands at the door. She notes the crease in his brow. He’s worried. Despite the fresh clothes she notes he still looks exhausted, clearly getting as little sleep if not less than she has these past few weeks. She knows her face doesn’t change but she inwardly winces. He brought chocolates?

He notices her eyes flick to the box in his hand. “Before you start, I brought these, kind of a lame thank you.” He begins.

She moves out the doorway to let him past and shuts the door. Deep breath Alex, she cautions herself. Keep it together. Don’t yell let him explain it. She locks the door and turns to face him. He frowns a little and carries on, all business.

“I won’t take the field during the Gaol Op.” he states. Her face must be as blank as she hoped. “I think you’ll have a better chance of controlling the egos if mine isn’t on the line. I’ll try and keep the police off your back for as long as I can. End of story.” She waits for him to continue.

“You said we needed to talk, in my experience, that’s a cloister bell of doom.” He pauses briefly “Do I sit down or shall I stay by the door?” He tries to smile unsuccessfully. Its easy for her to see how little he likes being wrong footed, it’s clear he was expecting some kind of drama. Is that how his ex wife reacted? She wonders idly before remembering what she has to do. She moves to the kitchen breakfast counter and sits down.

“Sit down Ray” She indicates to a seat opposite. She’s grateful her voice is keeping neutral. She wont doesn’t want to leap to the conclusions her emotions are screaming at her. Run away! Do not trust him. He will let you down and break your heart. She pushes the thoughts to one side.

Rays eyes flick to the MP3 player next to her hand but takes the seat offered. Alex waits for him to settle and clicks play. Rays voice emanates from the tinny speakers:

“Miss Simmons? It’s Ray. I would ask for a moment of your time, please, to discuss Alex.” There is a slight pause
“Let’s not pretend, I know. As much as you know about her and me, I know about you. How you feel. There are some things I think you will find beneficial discussing with me, but not over a phone. I’d like to meet, just you and me, civilly. I don’t mind where, but it ought to be soon.”

She stops the recording scanning his face for a reaction. The silence stretches before his careful reply.
“Those words were spoken by me” his expression is guarded and once again he looks uncomfortable. It genuinely seems he didn’t expect this. “Do you have Miss Simmons bugged or has she passed the recording on to you?”

“It came this morning posted through the door.” No point in evading it.

“You’ve heard the whole lot I hope and not an edited version?” He thought of that too. Good.

“Its not edited as far as I can tell.” Keep it simple, she thinks get it checked at the lab. “It appears to be a full conversation.”

“Please play the rest of it.” His voice cool, mirror of her own If my intent is not obvious, I’ll explain” No reaction, so she decides to try to provoke one.

“I haven’t even gotten to my favourite bit yet, but I’m sure you know where that is Ray.” Her voice is icy. He flinches. It’s a tiny movement, almost as if the words hit him. She feels a brief flash of guilt. No one would have seen that if they didn’t know him…

She clicks play before she gets stuck on the thought:

Theresa’s voice cuts through the kitchen. The voice is colder than her own, as if all the emotion had been drained from it. It’s difficult for Alex to listen with the memory of the same voice so full of warmth.
“Mr Storm, of Storm Watch; currently bidding for the Derby CCTV contact and recently arrested in connection with the murder Dale “Zero” Wilson – what can I do for you?”

Alex realises there is a tone to the voice despite the coldness. Mocking. She’s mocking him and he doesn’t realise it. He probably thinks she was just being a cold bitch.

“You surely don’t expect me to meet you simply because you ring me? What would I possibly have to discuss with you regarding Alex?”

There is a slight silence and Ray begins talking on the recording. Quality is slightly lower; its obvious which end the recording was done.
“I know you’re older than you look. I know you have been told about the heralds. And I would guess you know that your previous relationship is nigh a death sentence if the more wayward of our aware community learns of it.” He pauses allowing her to consider the implication “You, like I do not want to see that happen. Now I aim to help and protect her, while I can. But there is no way, I can compete…long term, if you catch my meaning. I am sure you are a patient woman. In your position, I would gauge you as incredibly smart too. Alex has feelings. I am sure you would prefer to discuss that with the ability to see my eyes and measure the truth of what I have to say and propose. No tricks.”

Alex stops the recording again. “I’ll stop throughout that way it gives you a chance to explain and see if anything has been left out” she pauses briefly, careful to keep her face blank. No emotion. She has already guessed that most of this was to bait Teresa into showing her hand, by giving her glimpses of what the group has. You don’t know her Ray! Screams the little voice in her head she plays her hand close to her chest, she’s not some first time criminal you can sweat in the interview room! The anger she feels is not and immediate. Not directed at him but at her self. You should have seen this coming you idiot she berates herself.

“I would like to state firstly I have never used the term ‘heralds’ to her.” She’s surprise by the steadiness of her voice “I am still unsure how to trust Teresa. She suggested the idea of another party doing this, by which I mean making me into a hunter; I simply confirmed this with little explanation.” She remembers the point of her stopping the tape “I would like an explanation as to what you meant by ‘competing long term'”

She stops, studying him. He sighs and looks more tired than before if possible, she isn’t sure how that even is possible. The man looks as if he’s about to drop where he stands.

“I’ll put my business head on.” He starts watching her warily “I deduce that she doesn’t love you” Unexpectedly something inside her twists and she fights to keep an entirely blank face. He watches her carefully before going on. He spotted it. He continues “Not in the conventional sense. This recording being indoor hands in not unexpected, although I had thought her smarter to perhaps have provided photographs of us meeting to really drive a stake into your heart.” That was cold

“Shouldn’t that be the other way round?” She states flatly

He frowns “I meant metaphorically Alex” he replies coolly

“I realize that Ray” she smiles professionally. Blandly. “Hunting humour. Please carry on”

The frown deepens, and then he returns to his own neutral expression. Well if its like that, two can play at this he thinks. “She is more obsessed. Therefore more dangerous, if being a vampire wasn’t bad enough. Throughout this recording that you are about to hear, you’ll see I test her in conversation to try and learn more about her. As for my references, well, they are carrots, lures, feints; non committal statements you might use in police interview room to cross examine a subject.” She’d guessed as much. ‘But you don’t tell confirm everything’ she thinks exasperated ‘You get them to fill them in!’

Ray hesitates a second. Her face has gone from neutral to cold. ‘Damn it, I’m loosing her’ He thinks desperately. Honesty time.
“If I can take my business head off for a second” he lets the emotion slip into his words a little “Before you continue, I love you.”

Her heart skips. The honesty in the statement is almost tangible. Keep it together woman!

“I am sorry” He continues “But you ex is a vampire, and this is pretty new.”

“To both of us” She points out, keeping her emotional maelstrom out of her voice. He nods.

“I needed to gauge the threat. She is not like Barbara, and from this tape, you’ll see that I think the longer a vampire is a vampire, the more they try to cling to human things, but equally become more detached, cold, callous. I guess, childlike. Currently I see no redemption for her. I’m sorry.”

She hesitates, feeling the blood drain from her face. A sick feeling twists her gut. Could I do what’s necessary if that’s true? She wonders. Can I kill the woman I used to love if it was the right thing to do? And to her horror she realises she might be able to. It would kill something in her but she could to save these people. To save him. Even if it meant her death too. Cold bitch, you’re more evil than she is. She blinks slowly forcing the thoughts from her mind, returning to the current situation.

He notices the silence, thinking his words have hurt her. He briefly wonders if he should reach across the table.‘ No’ he admonishes himself ‘That wont help, not now’. He shifts his hands clasping them on the table in front of him resisting the urge to slide them across the table to hers. He composes his thoughts.

“Please play the rest of the tape”

Alex is silent for a moment considering forgetting the whole thing. ‘Why is this so important? He loves you!’ Her thoughts at war ‘but it never lasts and they always let me down. I won’t let it happen again.’

“So you conclude her ‘love’ is more obsession” clinging to the path of questioning like a life raft “More akin to stalking behaviours. Fair enough you have drawn conclusions about her from your conversation. I have other experiences to draw on not just one meeting. Although I never knew what she was there was a truth to her behaviour looking back on it, hence my uncertainty.” Honest and precise.

“I understand interviewing techniques” She continues “But it doesn’t make it any easier to hear. So I will reserve any thoughts until I have given you chance to explain.”

Alex clicks continue on the player and through the speakers Theresa continues:
“And what? You expect me to play the gracious loser because some other power has afflicted my beloved with a false vision of me and driven her into your arms?” the voice holds an edge of bitterness now

“I am an incredibly patient woman Mr Storm, but just because my time on this earth is infinite, it does not mean my patience is of a similar length.”

Ray speaks:
“Loser? No, not at all. She is driven to my arms for many reasons, most of which surprise even me, but one of them, one of those reasons, is that she doesn’t think you have the humanity. I think, if you are capable of love, proper love. Then she is wrong.” He’s baiting her that much is clear “I can’t confess to wanting to genuinely help you win her… but she deserves to see all the cards in the deck. to make an informed choice. I don’t want to gamble my opportunity away, don’t get me wrong, I want her to be happy, even if that’s with you.”

The words make her feel uncomfortable despite trying to keep a neutral stand point. She can’t help but feel like she’s a bit of live stock being bartered for.

In the kitchen Ray notices the brief dark look pass across her features. He mentally curses the Vampire for sending the recording, she was never meant to hear this. ‘The bitch knew this would do the damage’ he thinks bitterly ‘I should’ve known and now I’ve damned myself’

The recording plays on and Ray on the tape continues in a reasonable voice:

“The question might be, do you want to prove the Heralds wrong? There are ways you can do that. By listening to me, that’s all I am asking, that you give me a shot at convincing you. I’ll meet you wherever you want. i trust you not to harm me, because you know you’ll lose her. I hope by letting you set the time and place, you’ll trust me. You’re a business woman, Miss Simmons, Theresa. You can see an opportunity to business when it presents itself. And for the record, I believe your time is not infinite…sorry. Anyhow, I’ll discuss that with you and more, if you give me that opportunity.

Alex Stops the recording again. She takes a breath and lets it out slowly trying to calm herself again.

“I may not be able to word myself at this point diplomatically” ‘or even fucking want to‘ she yells angrily in her head “or in any way impartially.” Miraculously her voice remains controlled “So go ahead” She prompts

“You want me to repeat myself?” The exasperation he feels leaking into his voice “Okay. Carrots. Lures. I want to scope her out, I want to see who she is, what she is, gather information. What exactly would you like me to say? I love you?”

Her breath catches involuntarily.

“I want you to be with me because you’re the only thing that gets my scarred face out of bed in the morning?” he can’t stop the words coming out “To see you smile? Fuck me Alex, It lightens the day.” He looks away from her, unsure why he couldn’t stop the honest outpouring “Could I be genuinely happy that you were with her? Probably not, if you chose her over me”

She looks at him blank face but her mind awhirl, unable to pin down a coherent thought.

“But if you were happy? Well, that’s the Mary fucking Poppins of it, that’ll be the spoonful of sugar to take away the bitter fucking taste of my heartbreak” No that feels too close to a lie for him. He doesn’t want to have to let her go “No, I have no inanition of willingly letting that happen” realising that’s the truth of it “But I need to get her out of her castle. She holds so many answers to so many things.” He pauses trying to regain his composure, barely managing it. “She’s given you this tape, to cause friction between us. I gauged that as a calculated risk, I thought perhaps we were strong enough on the trust to work by this.” He looks to her warily “That’s what I would still like to think. She has no hesitation in hurting you if it means she can have you. That’s what that recording proves.” His voice imploring towards the end.

Alex sighs involuntarily, the emotional strain taking its toll on her patience.

She skips the recording forward and clicks it on:

Teresas voice mid flow:

“Alex will not return to me since she has you, you must convince her otherwise”

She stops the recording. “That makes me not trust her” She states “And this…” She moves the recording forward again. Rays voice this time mid speech:

“What I want is knowledge and power, temporal power to help those I know are out there getting killed.”

“This makes me not trust you” She guesses what will be the answer and hopes it’s the truth. She waits as the silence stretches as he looks at her

“I’ve said what I said, I am not going to repeat myself for a third time. But I will add there is a huge chunk of dialogue missing before i said that, dialogue that would certainly put that statement into context.” He looks down and off to one side, recalling the conversation.

“Along the lines of ‘I rarely go into a meeting without a clear idea of what both parties are seeking to get out of it, you have said that you want something from me and in return you will no doubt desire something from me; if I have some idea what these things are then I can judge objectively whether or not a meeting is worth my while.’” He’s almost word perfect to what Theresa says on the recording.

“Now I said more than that.”

“I know you said more Ray, I’m just pointing these sections out.” She struggles to keep her voice neutral.

She has the recording, he surmises she must know the exact words so there’s no point really but it should prove that the speech was rehearsed “I don’t remember verbatim, but I rehearsed before I spoke to her.”

She can see him concentrating through his fatigue. He starts speaking as if reading from a script in his mind.

“You have a dog problem at Simms metal. No doubt you are aware of various…afterlife phenomena that makes your business difficult. Zombies knocking on your front door for example. People like Zero are looking for people like you. You, however, are good at staying off radar, but your businesses and interests fall close to view. You offered £150K to deal with the Simms metal. Money that has got to be gotten from somewhere, creating audible trails. What’s the need of all that when you can pass the required information on to us, and it’ll get done for you…? And yet by seeing to help us protect humanity, you get a chance for Alex to see you in a different light. What I want is knowledge and power, temporal power to help those I know are out there getting killed. To help Alex stay safe. That’s your food source, these people. In a nutshell. And by aiding me, The community is even more less likely to interfere directly with you and your immediate agenda because I will be aiding them and earning credibility”

He pauses letting her take the speech in and judge for herself.

“Now if you don’t trust me, Alex” His voice getting a little hard, the weariness and emotion getting to him “Or believe me, I’ll leave now,”

Ray picks up again on her inner struggle to remain calm. He wonders if he’s projecting the emotions or he’s seeing them for real. It’s hard to tell ‘she must be something in an in interview’ he muses briefly.

“I have trust issues” She continues “I admit that but neither of you seem to be giving me any leeway on that. What do I do Ray trust blindly? No all that’s given me has been heart ache.” She’s loosing control of herself she has to get away.

She stands suddenly, catching him off guard. Alex feels her façade beginning to crack like ice on a lake and tries pushing the feelings down. Ray watches her shut down her thoughts, turn inwards.

“Trust is something you earn Ray, it’s not just given” The sudden bitterness in her voice is scalding compared to the emotionless voice she was using before. He sits stunned for a moment watching her walk to the glass doors leading to the small balcony outside. Without looking back at him she unlocks the door slides it open and walks out leaning heavily on the railing

He watches her still form through the mist of the privacy curtain. He sighs heavily. ‘I mean it’s not like you can say Man the fuck up to a woman!‘ He rubs eyes burning with the exhaustion he still keenly felt. ‘She talks of trust’ he thinks ‘but she didn’t warn me of the incoming raid, and she knew, I know she must have been in a difficult position… but…’ His thoughts trail off. ‘She was at the station! He realizes. It doesn’t make the let down much easier but explains why. He continues to watch her and sees her shoulders sag as a tension leaves. He gives her a moment to calm down before raising and walking to the glass door.

She feels him move up, stopping short. There’s a hesitation and a few more steps forward. She wants him to hold her, but knows he won’t. He’s too unsure, they both are.

He moves a hand forward, but stops himself running it through his hair instead.

“We need trust, if we are going to enjoy something between us before the end of the world.” His voice holding all the emotional strain of the last few days “Now, I am not going to force anything or pull out recording tapes to get my way, no blackmail, none of that. I have been straight and honest with you. You knew I would phone her, you gave me her number!”

“I didn’t make the logic leap Ray, the last few days have made me slow” The response spoken away from him is barely audible. She sounds numb

It’s cold out here, and if the only reason you are out here, because I am in there, Then take a leaf out of my book, say what needs saying, and I’ll go. You are not the only one here with trust issues. I am a divorcee I loved and married, kids the whole package deal” He hadn’t mentioned kids before “I can’t let the loss make me something I don’t want to be” He hurries on “I will be absolutely bolloxed if I am going to let those experiences ruin any chance of any kind of happiness in my life.” he is surprised how much he means it. Ruin my chances with you, he thinks “We may be the sum of our experiences that makes us, but it’s not what you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.” He pauses to reflect on that for second the words are strangely familiar. Alex recognised her own words turned back on her.

He continues “It’s your life. How do you want to spend it? I am here giving you a choice, a choice I never thought my workaholic ass would ever have again” he tries to find the right words “A chance for a rebirth”
‘Don’t let this mean I’ve lost you’ He pleads silently ‘ please don’t let it come to that, I cant take that right now. That would be the last nail in the coffin’

She remains silent facing the city. Unresponsive to his words. ‘Damn it’
He bites his lip to stop himself cursing out loud and presses his fingers to his eyes again. “You have my number” he says as neutrally as he can, hearing his own voice start to crack.
He turns to head on the door; he feels a hand grab hold of his arm gently but firmly stopping him moving. He looks round to see her hand on his arm. Her face still turned away starting out into the distance not seeing the city at all

Her voice starts, quiet and wistful “I know that my feelings and issues aren’t unique. A little like me really. Never enough for anyone, not unique. I’m not weak Ray.”

She turns to face him.

“You treat me as if I am but I’m not. It’s not in my nature. This macho bullshit has to stop”

“It has to stop or this will NOT happen. You tell me we do this together. She is dangerous and will stop and nothing to get what she wants. What worries me is you showed her our hand, without thinking about the consequences. As usual you dove in and decided the best thing without consulting me or anyone. It has to stop Ray.” She looks away briefly at the street below and back to him a tiny sad smile on her lips “It has to stop now because otherwise I swear I will kick your ass.”

Alex takes a moment. She hadn’t realised how much him running off to resolve everything himself bothered her until now.

“If you really want to go then go, but if you walk now I know that you’ll never see me as an equal, but as a thing you have to protect”

He’s surprised; He has never considered this woman weak. Why did she think he did? “I know you not weak, I ‘m not aware of treating you as weak” his frustration shows more “I wouldn’t have put you forward for leading all these fuck ups if I thought you were weak. As for Macho Bullshit! huh…” he trails off

He pulls his arm free, shivers, and goes inside.

She watches him go. He stops and seems a little lost, then sinks down onto the sofa ” I didn’t kill four hunters in a van” He mumbles mostly to himself “I didn’t shoot one of our own number, I didn’t break the iron circle and free the freaking spectre….” His voice becoming a little strident, he looks directly at her, face blank “I didn’t have a relationship with a vampire” That fucking hurt. He looks away “I’m not even married to a vampire; I just spoke to one and learned some stuff when she already knew everything.”
His head falls back, resting on the sofa cushion and stares at the ceiling

Alex moves in slowly watching the man on her sofa. He looks; she struggles for an appropriate word, defeated. It’s frightening. He’s burning himself out quicker than even she expected. She quietly closes the sliding door behind her and clicks the lock, leaning on the central partition briefly. She wonders if she should sit next to him.

“I want us to be together. So fill me in. or kick my ass.” His voice is resigned and almost numb “I honestly don’t care” He crushes his eyes closed and there is a brief look of pain before he opens them again to continue looking at the ceiling.

Alex moves slowly shutting the curtains and moves to the sofa, sitting but giving him space. She is unpleasantly reminded of talking down a jumper her first year on the force. She shakes her head to clear the image or Ray at the edge of a cliff.

She keeps her voice quiet and calm “You treated me as less by not consulting me. You talk over me and don’t recognise when I’m actually trying to stop you putting your foot in it.”

No response

“You don’t know how much she knows and from the conversation you should have let her do more of the talking – lead her into talking by all means, but you told her outright. I didn’t tell her names, only yours as you’re compromised anyway. I found out more in my conversation with her – she has been around for centuries, she has little to no knowledge as to what hunters even are let alone about the heralds and her main goal is me not revenge on everyone else”

Still nothing. There’s a brief flair of anger “I didn’t have a relationship with a vampire”. That was really out of line even for his level of exhaustion.

“I think you were pretty damn callous with that last bit Ray. NDY can’t help that his wife became a vampire – he’s the innocent in that one. Me? I just fell in love. I did not know she was a” She hesitates its still not easy to say it out loud “Vampire, until that night I had her in the car. And you have no damn idea what that was like Ray.”

He still sits unmoving, and there’s a stab of fear. What if he’s too far gone already?

She hesitates moving a little closer, continuing with difficulty.

“You’re argumentative and refuse to accept any help – yeah macho bullshit. With all its damn posturing. Worse than the fucking cadets and the police combined!” He turns to look at her then, she smiles a little. His face remains unreadable. She carries on hoping to get him to talk “You have to remember despite our common ground, we’re all nearly strangers here – we know nothing of each other and have no reason for trust.”

She sighs. Still nothing from him. He keeps looking at her.

” I believe you may have put us more at risk as I said before – you revealed our whole hand trying to get her to talk. We needed to go into that with a strategy, you need to talk with Rev and explain yourself. Gain his trust and you help get more of them to trust your judgement calls. No they aren’t easy to deal with but it helps if you are honest and have a little diplomacy”

She waits. The silence stretches out.

“I’m tired Alex.”

She breaths out the breath she didn’t realise she was holding.

He sits forward resting his elbows on his knees rubbing his eyes again with one hand.
“I ….” He looks pained again hesitating. He looks at her “My calling is visionary. It plays on me. Not in the same way Courier has with his wayward kill all shit programming, but ….” he struggle to find words “But there is something there. I don’t want to lead, but understand, all these people were frightened and pulling in every direction, panicking. I tried to pull them together. Except NDY and Pints, as he was back then, they didn’t like “the man” trying to do that. They always took exception.” Frustration again
“I just wanted to find out what we were fighting before we fought it. They were more intent with killing foot soldiers. And yet more of this plot falls into their hands and they are not sharing it. If they don’t tell us what the fuck is going on how can we make good decisions?”
He looks down at his hands.
“I don’t trust Rev, well I do but I don’t. I have come to despise his religiosity. He didn’t come to help you. He is not morally superior, as he likes to make out…” He trails off. He looked away because he thinks that would offend her. She partly registers a bitter thought ‘I haven’t forgotten that, he came later maybe if it had been sooner…’she stops herself

‘If wishes were fishes…’

Ray sighs and starts talking again “Part of me would like to go back to be a single lonely ignorant workaholic. But then I would never have met you” he glances at her then ‘The only worthwhile thing in this whole fucking mess’ he thinks. ‘And I’m going to loose you to a fucking vampire, nothing left to loose…’

“Alex, One name is not a hand.” He persists “Hitting the gaol is not a hand. It’s fuck all. If the entire hunter community was hinged on us knowing that one name…. we are dead. I am not convinced. I need to see proof. I am an ex Cop, and a visionary. It’s all about the evidence, the theory, and the fact.”

‘Verification’ she adds mentally. She’s about to speak when she registers he is blinking frequently and his words slowing. When did he last sleep?
He rubs his face with his hand again. The gestures becoming more frequent. His eyes burn with the fatigue he feels.
” Fucksake” He slurs the words “I mean if I knew how to do an exorcism, I’d go do it myself…..” He falls into as stare, and then continues as if he remembers what he’s saying “But it is so far Rev’s monopoly and he knows it.”
He rubs face again. Its now clear that he’s severely sleep deprived. Has he been sleeping at all? She wonders horrified at the thought of him trying to do anything in that state. How long has this been going on?
“Look, I am tired” – An understatement, she thinks – “I best head back to the hotel. I gotta tidy my house before the estate agent comes round to value it. I don’t believe I made a mistake, I am missing information that makes that compute… show me, tell me, and then I’ll say it was a mistake. And If I am wrong, it wasn’t done for any malicious reason, had I been kept in the loop, different things would have transpired.”
He stands up, something cracks and he waivers slightly. He rubs his face again. He’s trying to stay awake.
“You said something about refusing help? I can’t remember what I did then? When did I refuse help?” he looks puzzled.” Don’t worry, forget it.” He yawns.
He moves to the front door. He yawns again.

He stops at the counter leaning on it heavily and he smiles suddenly
“Alex, you have a terrible taste in partners.” he snorts shaking his head.

He turns to look at her and mistakes her concern for offence ‘back pedal, back peddle!’ his tired brain commands. “I ‘m sorry.” He mumbles and turns to the door, and tries to open taking him a few tries to realise that it’s locked.

A pillow collides with the back of his head “Death by soft furnishings” he mutters. He turns expecting her angry, the grin on her face is quite a shock. She’s laughing at him?

“You’re doing it again, that thing you do where it’s the world verses you and you gotta ride off into the wild blue yonder and fix it all on you’re lonesome. You have to give them some leeway they don’t know you they just see you pushing and shoving. You have to remember – most of us are strangers like I’ve said” She smiles again “you got that look on your face that whole lone ranger ‘A mans gotta do…’ thing all that macho bullshit I’m talking about, and…” her voice cracks the laughter leaks in “And I could think of nothing funnier in that moment than to throw a pillow at your head”

He looks stunned and blinks slowly. The situation isn’t registering properly yet.

“I’ll expect the Rev will be busting a move on the forum shortly. I won’t lie.
We will see how that pans out, but….” he looks at her, adoringly. How the hell did this happen? He wonders and feels himself sway on his feet having to catch his balance on the work top “I need to crash. No use to man nor ornament.” He tries to think clearly, sleep fogging his brain “Rev’s not in charge, I don’t answer to him on any level.” She frowns a little about to protest “I know… I’ll be civil; in fact, I’ll let him post to his hearts content. Let him sound off, take the beats, but if at the end of it, he still hasn’t shown me that I as wrong… I…. you telling me, that one name was our hope, was everything we had… well that’s pathetic. We have to do much better. I may be a macho bullshit gobby whatever it was you called me, but I hang central in view to everyone, from the crazy fucked fanatics who will burn the world to kill the enemy, to the hug a zombie group on the other side…” He trails off and suddenly starts again “People don’t like their home truths being pointed out to them, and yeah, I guess that includes me to.” She raises and eyebrow.

He wobbles again still supported by the counter still. She moves towards him but he barely registers it. He’s still fighting to think clearly.
” What fucks me up is the visions. I see” She recalls her own recent vision. How does he cope with them? She wonders or does he? He seems to stop then blinks in rapid succession. Micro sleeps, he’s worse than I thought. She thinks.

“I might not have the …the constant sound Courier has, and I am not going diss the guy for his woe, but I fucking live the visions. Do you understand how much…how much concentration has to go into working out how things might have to change to make differences… or when the other types hit, how to make sure Courier doesn’t get his head blown off by a police sniper… or have Maglight rush in and take his place” He sways dangerously she starts forward but he catches himself
” I had less than half an hour before they came.” He seems to be talking more to himself now “I had to get Joanne and her mom sorted and out, get Courier to stay away and convince Maglight not to come. Nearly a dozen armed men hit my house. Had he been there, we would be dead. And you know what? I’d have taken that bullet. Only Maglight called to warn me. He found out through other means, he put his ass on the line to warn me.” That upsets her but he doesn’t notice “Like I had risked everything to help Courier, like I will do the same for you. If the wayward found out about you and Theresa, You are …” his red rimmed eyes glisten shiny with tears that don’t fall. His words fail him temporarily and he looks away and continues softly “You know what they’re likely to do.” He pauses trying to get himself together “So yeah, I’ll take this gracefully. But you, you gotta keep quiet. You must not, tell anyone else about her. Understand?” His gaze finds her again, she nods ‘no point arguing with him in this state’ “And I’ll take this gracefully” He promises “Rev will have his chance to show me, otherwise, he….”
His lip quivers and he bites it to make it stop. He sucks in a breath, his breathing becomes heavier. The look of someone trying to not let themselves fall apart. She moves forward slowly.

He takes a breath “I am going to go to bed now. I have a lovely large bed, with room service. I am going to hide there. Thanks for the talk Curious Alex.” He reaches for the door again missing the handle stumbling slightly. She darts forward and grabs his arm to steady him.

“Nuh Uh, you are going nowhere in this state Mr” She moves him to the sofa, no resistance from him. Thanks goodness she breaths inwardly. She makes him sit. Gently removing his jacket and making him sit back.

He looks confused as she takes off his shoes and watches her fetch a blanket

“This isn’t important right now” She puts the blanket on the coffee table and sits next to him “You’re burning out Ray you cant save the world on your own. You just can’t.”

She looks at him blinking slowly barely able to keep himself awake. She reaches out carefully and brushes his cheek. She runs her hand down his arm and takes his hand. He keeps his gaze fixed on her, but is having trouble keeping focus.

“None of us have had a chance just to be ourselves for so long.” She smiles at him “We know what’s out there and we’re letting it consume us. Do you think…” she hesitates, hoping he will just agree and he doesn’t try to leave thinking her foolish “Maybe just for tonight we can just be us?” She asks “I’ll be Alex and you be Ray” she smiles awkwardly, that made so much more sense in my head “I think the other way round would be weird…” She trails off, he doesn’t react he’s just watching her. “Anyway, let’s just sit. We watch a film and lounge on the sofa. Then we go to sleep…” She trails off again looking back at him.

He wobbles and gently tips his head onto your shoulder. She smiles to herself “Ray?” There’s a muffled reply against her shoulder “Mm!”

She moves him gently so they are both lying on the sofa pulling the blanket over them.

Another muffled comment “You be Alex…” His breathing starts to slow. His eyes flutter shut.

She leans over and kisses the top of his head

“You be Ray”

She lies cradling him against her until she is sure he is sleeping. She clicks the DVD in the player on and the DVD picks back up where it left off, volume very soft.

“A matter of Life and Death” flares to life on the screen. An appropriate film she smiles to herself. Fatigue starting to pull at her.

Its towards the end of the film. David Niven is being cross examined by Raymond Massey in hevens courts “You claim you love her.” He states,
“I do love her!” Niven insists
“Can you prove it? Massey retorts
Niven smile charmingly “Well give me time Sir. Fifty years will do.
“But can you prove it?” persists Massey
“Well” Reasons Niven “Can a starving man prove he’s hungry except by eating?”
“Would you die for her?” He asks
“I would, but er” Hesitates Niven “I’d rather live”

The observers laugh. She feels her eyes start to droop.

‘So would I’ she thinks tiredly before sleep finally pulls her eyes closed ‘So would I’

Future Echos

Curious 2 - Blank

Alex has her first vision. For those of you that don’t know the setting Hunters are prone to “visions” glimpses of possible futures. Despite being a Defender this is the route I took Alex…

She walks to the kitchen sink, feet and limbs heavy from sleep. The memory of her ex lovers face covered in her mothers blood…and what was that with Nick why was he there? And Ray…the image hurt more than she wanted. She rubbed her eyes and moved to the sink filling a glass with water.

She turns moving back towards the bedroom lifting the glass to her lips. The glass in her wet had slips…and then…

The helicopter blades are loud even in the thing itself and the buffeting is throwing off Curious’ aim “Damn it” she curses softly

Another lurch from the struggling chopper, “Got to land it.” Yells Maglight
” What about Boatman” Rev. Yells back
” What about the fucking Spectre” he retorts

Through the scope Curious sees Boatman badly wounded one arm useless leaps at the Spectre only to be sent flying into the side of the broken car. The impact is heavy and dents the side of the already battered 4×4. Despite the hit he moves scrambling for something inside the car. There’s a gleam of silver and a look of triumph on the blood streaked face. He raises his chin and glares at the thing defiantly “Cummon you Mother FUCKER!” He grins manically.  Oblivious the Spectre moves in for the kill, boatman flicks the Zippo over his shoulder.

“NO!” she shouts as the helicopter impacts with the roof top, taking out a near by air-conditioning unit and Ariel. The impact throws all of them to the floor.

“Fuck!” curses Maglight as he powers down the engine

Apoc holds a hand out for Curious “You ok Alex?” She briefly smiles and remembers. She grabs his hand and pulls herself up Rifle already slung over her shoulder “We have to get Boatman.”

The explosion is deafening, a fire ball erupts and an unearthly shriek cuts over it all and dies away.

NDY leaps out the chopper “Boatman!!” He sprints to the edge of the roof top. The others quickly move to follow. NDY flinches as the secondary explosion rocks the nearby building dangerously “Boatman…” he says quietly and trails of staring at the burning wreckage.

“That’d be the oxygen talk I had” says Romeo numbly “the whole wagon was full of petrol…”

“Was he in there?” asks Digger
” Last time I saw, he was right in front of the bonnet” said NDY.

Curious gazes at the wreck “He was there as far as I could see; he pulled out a Zippo and threw it in…” She trails off “How many do you think he got.”
” Less than he liked” said NDY. “That’s fucking judgement right there.”

He takes his helmet off. A tribute to the fallen soldier. There is a moment of respectful silence.
” I don’t know if it’s bothering anyone else” asks Digger coolly “Where’s the spectre?”

“It’s been Boatmaned!” said NDY quietly with pride in his voice.
Digger looks blank, not getting the pun “What?”
“It’s been judged” Curious answers “He means its been Judged”

Digger raises her eyebrows “Oh” she says flatly

Rev and Apoc have been talking quietly during this; Curious can’t make out what they’re saying. Apoc says something and the Rev pales and starts to stammer. Curious sees Rev Buckle and moves towards them “Rev?”

He looks at her pale faced and shaken; he regains his composure and gives her a small smile

“I think I bruised my leg during the crash”

Curious sighs and mutters to herself in Italian “Pensa Im un idiota?” She looks at him “Fine tell me when you’re ready”

She turns on her heel and almost collides into Mask.

“So what’s the plan?”

She convulses as if gripped by a giant unseen hand. Events play in front of her eyes. She watches them plan, unable to change it to do anything.

The Rev smiles “Survivors, praise be!”

“Help me!” A weak voice cries “Please! Help me!” A man stumbles towards them bloody clothes

The Rev moves to the man “Are you hurt son?”

“It hurtsss, the pain is so bad but they wont open the door”

Curious moves cautiously along side Rev kicking on her sight

“NO!” She throws Rev out the way catching the flashing blade in her shoulder. The creature cackles “You will take away my pain” She cries out landing heavily on her back but not before her weapon is drawn and she hits the ground firing. Gunfire answers form Overhead as Maglight and Curious empty their clips into the creature and it falls to the ground.

Mag light moves to the fallen figure and he stamps on its face until bloody pulp is all that remains. He stops breathing harshly “Rev can you heal her?” he says without turning.

The Rev kneels next to Curious. “Can you move?” He asks concern etched on his face for the woman who saved him. She sits up wincing at the pain of the large knife in her shoulder. She smiles weakly “Get me inside then you can work your holy mojo Rev” It earns her a brief smile.

Maglight strides towards the door to the frightened pale faces at the windows that haven’t moved to help them. Anger still burning from the fight and the rage that had driven him to smash the things face to nothing he yells

“OPEN THIS FUCKING DOOR, NOW!”

Another convulsion wracks her, and the scene carries on

“What’s going on out there?!” Asked a hysterical young woman

“Revelations” Replied the Rev quietly “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains”

Everyone looks shaken and some are slipping into shock. Digger is stood by the windows staring at the un-dead beating at the windows, studying their faces. Curious, shoulder now healing and bandaged sighs and closes the distance across the room to move her away.

The crowd of civilians are uneasy some have started crying.

“What the hell does that mean?” Demands a man in a tattered business suit

“End of the world, The Apocalypse” States Apoc “This is it. Now we’re going to take you out of here to safety, a bunker not too far from here with supplies”

A woman’s face brightens slightly “Hey! I know you your that Storm guy aren’t you?”

“Yes I am”

The crowd murmurs, they seem visibly lifted by the presence of someone they know. It not much but it’s something to cling to.

“Careful, you know how strong they are” cautions Curious

Digger looks at her impassively “I was just…”

“I know” Curious interrupts, she shakes her head “Go on, help the others with loading the civvies, I’ll look for any first aid kit”

Digger reluctantly moves away. Curious smiles and shakes her head “Always the scientist”

She moves to the offices just off the foyer in search of anything useful. The office is dark and she moves with caution, gun sweeping the room. A movement behind her and a strong arm goes round her waist. Really not the place Ray she thinks to herself “ Found you darling” whispers a female voice near her ear “Ter..”

And the world goes black

Her eyes roll back in her head, standing on tip toe as if suspended from the ceiling. Humour, camaraderie and rallying all cover the fear that’s palpable from the hunters that they will not be enough. That they don’t have enough time; she knows it she can’t say anything. On it goes.

“All aboard?” Apoc asks

Digger scans the crowed bus “ Curious isn’t here, I last saw her in the lobby by the windows” She pauses “ she was moving me away from the windows, I was studying the creatures for a more effective way to…”

Apoc isn’t listening he sprints to the Foyer

“Wait!” Shouts Maglight taking off after him shortly followed by Digger

Behind the wheel of the other bus NDY throws his hands up “where the fuck are that lot going?”

“Curious is missing” states Mask

“You heard that eh?”

“Yes.”

“Hearing like a fucking bat” he mutters fumbling for his gun

“Heard that”

“Keep and eye on that lot eh?” He says taking off after the others “Can’t miss a search and rescue can I?” He grins taking off across the room

“”Curious?… Curious where are you?” Apoc shouts desperately “Alex? ALEX!!”

“Apoc WAIT!” Shouts Maglight, grabbing him by the arm. Digger comes up a close second

“As I was saying she was getting supplies from the offices…but…” She looks round “she isn’t here is she?”

Maglight realizes what Apoc’s thinking “You aren’t going after her alone”

“We’re coming too” Digger states matter of fact

“Oi!” shouts NDY out of breath “Don’t forget about me!”

Apoc looks at the buses and gazes out the window “No, get them out.”

“But…” Starts Maglight

Apoc turns to him “Needs of the many, mate”

Maglight looks likes he’s about the protest when one of the passengers on the busses starts sobbing loudly. The press of the horde outside groaning a till trying to get to those inside.

“Good Luck Ray”

“See you soon Darren”

Digger looks stunned at the two men shaking hands “Well I’m coming too and that’s it” she scowls at them. Apoc looks at Maglight, who quickly throws a look to NDY. “Well if that what we’re doing… See you Apoc”

NDY grabs the small woman round her waist and flicks her easily over his shoulder. She flails at him hitting him hard but unable to escape. “Cummon missy back to the bus with us”

“This is UNDIGNIFIED put me down NOW!” She shouts at him all the way back to the buses where Mask helps him put her on the appropriate bus. They can see Rev talking to an irate Digger trying to calm her down, her demanding to be let out.

Apoc nods his thanks to Maglight. The men turn and head in opposite directions not looking back.

She senses this is coming to an end, but not yet there’s more… The images shift.

“Honey wake up” Coos a female voice “Darling? Are you alright?” The woman’s voice is pained “come on Baby wake up for me?” She pleads

Curious is vaguely aware of being held in someone’s arms. It’s familiar, these strong arms with their sure grip on her form. Her eyes flutter and the pain splits her head “ Mum?”” She croaks “Don’t move baby you’re hurt but I’ll make you better, all better” The voice is soothing and she feels the arms rock her gently. “You’ll see!”

She forces her eyes open and sees her. A beautiful pale face framed by think brown hair. Her sea blue eyes gaze down on her with love, eyes to drown in. She’s weeping this beautiful woman is weeping for her. They are tears of blood. They Virgin Mary weeps for her, have I died? She thinks to herself

“Hail Mary, Mother of God” She whispers “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen”

“Oh Baby Girl” Smiles the figure sadly “I told you there is no God”

The woman’s face contorts showing the sharp eye teeth

She has time for a moment of revelation “No Teresa DON’T! Pl..” Too late she feels the sharp fangs pierce her neck. She tries to shake her off to call out but nothing she’s weakening. It stops hurting, the pain stops like it was switched off and she gasps.  She feels light likes she’s floating away from everything and then…

“No, no this isn’t right!” Teresa is shaking her. Curious smiles “It’s all so small” She whispers

“What? Baby, what’s small?” Alex raises her arm weakly “Madre è che lei? E’ davvero?” She can see her face beaming opening her arms to her “Please Alex Baby don’t, Please come back to me!” she hears the woman holding her scream

A twist of pain, Muscles spasm. Alex’s muscles fight the pull, sweat pours from her like a marathon runner on the home run. And then a shift…

“Checkpoint one this is check point two, do you read me over?” The radio hisses. She sighs and taps the button on the radio “this is check point one reading you loud and clear, Gary I told you radio silence…”

“Nat you said to report if we got any men down” wined the voice over the radio “Steve and Cherry haven’t reported in for over an hour, well…” he hesitates “over” Useless fucking men.

Natalie curses quietly and clicks the button “They’re dead Gary get the chopper ready, I’ll get the boss. Over.”

“Roger, ord..s received…ve..” The radio sputters out to static

Damn it she thinks, must be interference the storm can’t be far now.

She turns her attention back to the scope

Nat watches as Teresa buries her head into the chest of the woman on the ground, no the body. The woman’s dead, shit the boss is gonna be pissed Natalie thinks. Teresa howls in anguish.

She’s surprised by that. Who have thought the cold bitch had feelings but who was she to think of it she pays the bills. She isn’t paid to think.

She sees a man advancing on Teresa gun drawn. He takes a bead on his head finger hovers over the trigger. This is what she’s paid for. He watches the dawning comprehension on his face as he takes in the scene; this must be the guy the Boss was so worked up about, the one they couldn’t put a bullet in. Shit, this wasn’t covered in the orders and she sure as he’ll wasn’t gonna piss the boss off over this. She sees the guy (Ray was it?) briefly contemplate killing the Vampire, but he lowers the gun. She moves her finger back off the trigger.

Still looking through the scope she watches as the man moves over to Teresa and the prone body. What the fuck is going on here then? She thinks why stop now when she’s dead? Nothing left to loose right? Men really are bloody idiots, she thinks bitterly.

He sits next to the grief stricken Vampire who looks at him in confusion. He holds both his fallen lover and the woman that she loved and bends down placing as kiss on the body’s head.

“I hope you can see this Ray, to change this”

“Me too”

You have got to be fucking kidding me! She thinks

 “Cummon boss, rip his face off…” she hisses “and we can get the fuck ou…”

She stops as her view is suddenly obscured as the storm him. “Oh fuck no” she turns to run, but you can’t outrun a storm. She screams in horror and agony… And then…

Alex falls to the floor. The strings of the heralds cut. She falls heavily into the broken glass not noticing it cut her hands. Her head starts to sink to the floor when a hand rests lightly on her shoulder. “Alex, are you…”

She reacts out of fear; she grabs the arm and punches at the body standing over her hard. She hears a gasp and a solid thump as the body impacts the counter and falls to the floor.  She uses the time to her advantage and scrambles up to a fighting stance ready to defend her self. Her vision clears.

A stunned Ray is looking up at her. Oh God she hit him! Quickly she scrambles to his side “Ray I’m so…Oh God! I’m so sorry I don’t…” She trails off flustered.

He starts to question but catches sight of her bloody hands. He takes them in his own looking down at them and the pieces of glass stuck in them “Alex you’re hurt…” Blood hits the floor from higher up. He looks at her face. Pale face, wide eyes with blood pouring from her nose. His look sends her finger tips to her face that come away bloodier.

“What..?”

 

“You had a Vision”

Fairytales and Nightmares

Curious 2 - Blank

After adventures with the Vampire Ex and some horrors at Simms metal works involving a child ghost…Alex returns home…

Alex puts the key into the lock of her apartment door cautiously. She’s been jumping at shadows since the little chat with her ex vampire girlfriend. Oh God it just sounded like a bad sci-fi film, but that was her life right now that or a really bad slasher flick. Great my life is a B grade movie she thinks.

 

The man stood behind her senses her hesitation “Are you sure you want me here?”

 

She sighs loudly and speaks without turning “I wouldn’t have suggested it if I didn’t Ray” She opens the door and scans the room before flicking on the light.

 

She steps in and systematically goes found the apartment turning on each light checking each room, talking as she goes. “This is the bathroom, towels and spare bedding is in the heating closet” She moves through the living room that has an open plan kitchen attached. She frowns “Oh God she cleaned” She mutters and she spots the note attached to the fridge. She’d recognise Maura’s precise writing anywhere:

 

A,

 

I made dinner for you.

 

It’s in the fridge now I didn’t know when you’d be back.

 

In the spare room, I have work tomorrow so I need to sleep. We can talk then.

 

M.

 

Crap. She’d forgotten Maura was staying here too. She opens the fridge cautiously. Sure enough a cling film wrapped plate sits on the middle shelf, containing what might be some burnt looking chicken with some over cooked unidentifiable vegetables. Everything else in the fridge is either in Tupperware or wrapped now, not how she usually left it. A large box sits on the bottom shelf. Are those sandwiches? She smiles to herself and shakes her head. Always the scientist, but definitely not a cook.

 

She turns to Ray, who stands a little awkwardly in the middle of the room. “Well looks like Maura’s got the spare room – Rev wanted her to stay with me” she says quietly “Well you can either sleep in my room, the beds big enough or you can sleep on the sofa but you’ll have to make it up” She pauses to take off her boots “It’s up to you but I need to sleep, so I’m going to bed now” She says talking off her jacket and hanging it up.

 

She doesn’t wait for a reply. Exhaustion has made her blunt and practical. She realizes she’s not being the best hostess but if she doesn’t sleep soon then she’ll pass out where she stands. She falls on the bed, at least managing to get out of her trousers and the sensation is blissful. Unlike the usual battle, she briefly registers the comfort before her eyes flutter closed. She isn’t sure if she hears her door open before she falls into unconsciousness.

 

She opens her eyes and looks round ‘must be dreaming’ she thinks. It would make sense unless she fell asleep in Cornwall. The sun is bright setting just above the horizon and the calls of the seagulls’ echo round the cliffs. A figure is standing at the cliffs edge with his back to her. The figure is dressed in a sharp pin striped suit with a purple shirt; he turns to her and smiles warmly.

“Of course you’re dreaming Hon; why else would I be here”

“Phil?” She walks over slowly

“Well sort of” She smiles as she draws level to him “The one in your head anyway, I’m sort of a projection”

“What are you talking about?” She’s thoroughly confused

“Your subconscious is trying to speak to you sweets” He turns a little looking out to the sea and he slips his arm through hers “You picked this place because it’s safe, our first holiday was here remember?”

Alex nods smiling “We stood on these cliffs every evening watching the sun set, before deciding that you’d ‘had enough of this nature bollocks’ and made us go to the nearest pub for a drink” She shakes her head “of course I remember”

Phillip laughs warm and loud “And then I’d get merry and the drinking games would start, you always drank me under the table and had to carry me home” He stares out to see “That’s why you picked here Alex and why you had me here. There’s some things you need to get sorted in your head before you can decide what you can do” He turns and looks at her then half his face accented red by the setting sun his head starts to bleed from a cut above his eye. He raises his hand to touch it and looks at the warm sticky substance on his fingers. He’s wearing a hospital gown now.

“Alex there’s not much time” his words soft and urgent , he takes both her hands in his “ Once the sun sets I’ll go and you gotta go face what’s over there” He gestures with his head to the woods that have appeared behind them “Remember its not real Alex, remember its what you fear, what you need to face before you can move forward” He smiles at her with the darkness coming on fast “Don’t worry sweets you know I’m waiting for you, we’ll be together again” And with the last night has fallen and Alex realises she’s standing alone, but not on the cliff top.

 

The woods are dark and intimidating. The trees are so tall. She smells the wreck behind her. She’s 9 years old again.

 

Alex stands in the clearing and the trees tower over it like a cage, tall and distorted. It’s a child’s memory. She’s facing the low shrubs and can hear a low wailing sound. A small child sobbing in fear. Jim she thinks he’s hurt he needs a doctor. But she knows she has to go to the car first. She has to get Mum.

 

She cautiously moves to the wreckage of the silver car. ‘I don’t want to see this’ she thinks ‘Not again’. Her hart pounds against her rips like its trying to break out and she can feel the cold sweat forming on her palms. Her harsh breath fogs in the cold air and she feels herself start to whimper. She looks in.

 

Nothing.

 

Her mother isn’t there. Only a red stained seat. Alex reaches in to touch the vacant seat and her fingers come away wet and bloody.

 

“Cant change the past baby girl” A familiar voice says behind her. Eye wide she turns to see Teresa. The woman is dressed in a long black military coat, her pale face and hands the only clearly visible bit of her seem to almost glow in the darkness. The Vampire holds Alex’s bloody and broken mother. The dead woman’s eyes stare at her unseeing.

 

“She isn’t coming back” a sly smile creeps over her face “Or could she?” The monster bends into the corpse in her arms fangs bared and feeds.

“ NO!” Alex hears herself scream, her response immediate. She runs. The clearing distorts and stretches. She falls to the ground tripping in her haste, small form sprawling on the grass. She looks up to see the Vampires face twist in disgust, dropping the body to the floor where it promptly crumbles to dust “ Guess not” Teresa quips blithely “Still waist not” She smiles wickedly.

 

“This is how you see me now isn’t it Baby?”

 

Alex stands she feels taller. She’s aware she now appears as she is today. She faces her one time lover trying to speak.

 

“Don’t bother denying it” laughs the Vampire “You can’t lie” The face in front of her changes. She’s looking at the face she sees every day in the mirror with a dark smile twisting its lips. “Not to yourself” the other Alex mocks. She watches the other Alex smile widen evilly and the face slips back to Teresa’s visage. Alex blinks.

 

When her eyes open Teresa is only meters away “You know coming to me makes sense” Her voice solicitous and low. Alex blinks again. Teresa stand just millimetres from her face “Who but I could understand? Who but I could want you?” The vampires luminous eyes flick over Alex’s shoulder “He’ll see what you are soon enough.”

 

Alex turns to follow her gaze to see him standing at the edge of the tree line. “Ray” she whispers.

 

“Traitor.” His voice cuts across the clearing. One word hitting her like a blow. “You damned us all!” He turns moving into the woods

 

She wants to shout after him but no words come. ‘Ray please wait’ she pleads silently. She’s rooted to the spot unable to move.

 

“Don’t bother Dooshyenka” A male voice soothes behind her. A hand lightly brushes down her arm “He would never understand, but I would” the familiar Russian accent sends a thrill through her. ‘Why him’ she thinks ‘Why now?’

 

“You left me Nick” She says not wanting to turn to see him “I wasn’t enough for you either remember?”

 

She finally turns to find her lost love not behind her as expected but standing on the far side of the clearing. “Yes Dooshyenka” he smiles “But it doesn’t stop part of you thinking I would be more tolerant, that I would understand. Because I know you Dooshyenka more than you know yourself. I know the dark places you can go to. And I loved you despite anything”

 

The pain of those words are sharp and immediate. Almost physical in sensation.

 

He sticks out from the woods in his sharp tailored suit and jacket with the slightly unbuttoned shirt immaculately pressed. The suit he wore when he said he was leaving. A harsh growl emanates from the woods. The slightly mocking smile leaves his face, leaving him serious. He steps back into the woods “What will you do Dooshyenka? What will you do?”

 

Voices and shouts behind her. Briefly looking over her shoulder she runs after him quickly breaking the tree line.

 

He registers barely as an outline in the woods but she knows he has turned to face her. His voice is sing song and quiet “If you go down to the woods today, you better not go alone” He stops laughing maliciously “The hunter becomes the hunted”

 

“Isn’t there another way?” a voice cuts across the darkness, the sound of undergrowth being pushed aside. Maura? Was that Maura. Her voice is stuck again she can make no sound

“We have to put an end to her, bitch sold us out” Dale or was it the other him?

“Right” her heart sinks, its Ray “Split up in twos she cant have gotten far on foot” Her blood runs cold. They’re after her.

 

Nicolas laughs again coldly “See Dooshyenka? They hate you! You are tainted by the evil they hunt. They will hunt you. They will kill you.” Lights strife across the woods and his eyes luminesce like a cat in the dark. She stares after him trying to see his face.

 

An impact hits her chest sending her sprawling forwards. Numbness followed by overwhelming pain. It’s starting to snow. It gets heavier and heavier. She feels fear rising to consume her. She forces herself to her feet and runs clutching the wound on her chest. Blood pours out of her, she feels weak and light-headed. Each breath bringing fresh burning pain. A moment of vertigo and she lands heavily in the snow back in the clearing. The cold numbing her wound. She lies breathing heavily. There’s a hand at the back of her head as she is yanked to her knees.

“Traitor” Rays voice hisses in her ear. ‘No wait’ She pleads mutely.

 

The knife flashes in the dark and bites deep into her throat. Red blood spurts onto the white snow. Alex rolls her eyes up to see her killer, knife bloody in his hand staring dispassionately down at her. His hand releases her hair and she falls…

 

Alex bolts upright in bed with a strangled cry, gasping for breath and hands flying to her throat. It takes a good few moments for her to realise where she is. Home. A dream just another Nightmare. They’ve been getting worse especially since that kid at the scrap yard.

 

Hospital revelations

Curious 2 - Blank

Alex wakes with a jolt having fallen asleep in the chair by Philips hospital bed. She relaxes as soon as she sees nothing has changed. Her eyes flick to the clock, it’s been about an hour. The coffee is empty but has done no good .What did she expect really? Through the exhaustion and emotional rollercoaster a little caffeine isn’t up to the job.

 

Ray is standing near the door wiping the blood from his nose. Another vision she thinks briefly concerned at the toll theses seem to be taking on those who have them. Suddenly she remembers the conversation.

”Ray? I need to tell you something…” This is difficult and she can’t think of the right words. She fidgets in the chair unable to meet his eyes as he turns” I …I don’t know how to…” she trails off a little lost.

“Would this be about Theresa Simmonds?” The name jolts her gaze to his “About wanting to literally deal with devil to restore your friend, at such a small price? Perhaps, whilst I was out of the room, you made a call, or received one, an offer you feel you can’t refuse? And right now, perhaps you are hoping that I have an answer. Something to legitimise the thoughts and actions going through your head?” He pauses briefly, the hurt is evident.
Would that about cover it? because if it were, or even close, then I would agree with you, You do need to tell me something” He looks serious and slightly angry.

 

The tirade catches her off guard. She looks at him wide eyes face pale with shock. He softens at this and walks round the bed and takes her hand in his.
Alex regains her purpose looking down at her hand in his snatching it away. She stands stiffly moving to the other side of the room, well out of reach. Damn it. She curses swiftly in Italian. He knows already and I didn’t get a chance to explain.
She composes herself and turns leaning against the far wall.

“I don’t need to legitimise my thoughts; if you had the chance to save someone you loved it would be an awful temptation for anyone. I’m not a saint. Not by any stretch of the imagination.”

She finally meets his gaze.

“If it means anything… I said no.”

She looks away quickly. It’s hard to look at him when she’s not sure if he’s angry at her. She can’t read him at all. She steals herself to continue and get in her explanation. She won’t have him hate her without him knowing what happened.
“She was the second person I’ve ever loved Ray – I haven’t seen or spoken to her since I saw her on the night of my imbuing. I was driving the car that took her away.”

Silence. He just looks at her. Why is this so hard? She wonders.

“I’m not the judge.” He begins “You do know what she is. You do know we have been looking for her, crikey; you and I wasted our time running around B&J looking for a way to find her…. But I also understand why you haven’t told anyone. You know that this… Connection, your relationship is unlikely to remain hidden forever?”

 

She’s stunned. He’s all business, damn it doesn’t he feel anything about this? Is it just that she damaged her reputation among people she barely knows? And about something she couldn’t have known  would turn into all of this.

 

“And what was I meant to say Ray?” Her voice bitter and full of sarcasm “‘Hey guys that vamp you’re looking for? Well she’s my girlfriend!’ Yeah that would’ve gone over just great.”
”It would also occur to me that this accident with Phil may have been arranged

Y’know, to get you back. Whenever this hits the hunter community fan… You are going to get sprayed in major shit. Not many will feel able to trust you.”
Ray moves to her and tries to take her hand again. She backs away hurt and angry.

“I mean it I have only spoken to her tonight. Damn it Ray don’t you think the first thing I asked her? If she did this? She said No she was watching him but her people were to make sure he was safe. I believe her Ray, she isn’t stupid, knows me she knows what I would do if she hurt anything I love.”

 

Her eyes briefly flit back to him and dart away. Oh God how did it happen again and she didn’t notice?
“She is going to kill you. She loves you and wants you that much. I’ve seen it. You love her too don’t you?”

 

Teresa’s voice haunts her ‘I’d planned to make you immortal so that we could have been together through all the ages of the world to come’

 

She means to keep me forever she thinks unsure how that makes her feel.

 

“I don’t know what to think about her or this Ray, but I sure as hell know how NDY feels.”
Alex takes a breath trying to calm the turmoil inside her. Ray is frowning, considering her.

“You said she said she had people watching your friends? That’s a bit single white female, if you ask me. That not normal. ‘Her people’? What do you know about Theresa? Really?”

 

She stares at him. The question has thrown her a little. It what she’s been thinking and she’s not used to having her own thoughts voiced. She speaks quietly
”Some things I know, she’s well connected, smart, passionate and a damn good sparring partner… I know she cared or she wouldn’t be this bitter.” She grits her teeth words pushed out between them “others I don’t there are so many things I don’t know, She says she didn’t know how to tell me” The bitter laugh takes even her by surprise “that’s not how it meant to work.”

She frowns hard and stares off into the distance.

“She’s bitter Ray she wants me, me … she was adamant about it.” She looks a bit lost “I..I threatened her, if she hurt anyone innocent, if she came after the hunters. I said she would have to do it through me. Its given her enough pause but she’s said she doesn’t want to see me with and die.” she pauses hearing Teresa’s voice again ‘Immortal’ ” It’s the heralds she’s most pissed at the ones she thinks took me from her. She’s pretty keen on you too. You’re a rival, or at least that’s how she sees you. She’s La donna vilipeso , the scorned woman.” She smiles sadly  to herself ” I said if she hurt you in any way whatsoever I would kill her. She knew I meant it too – she’s promised not to, but I don’t know what that’s worth anymore…”

Why is he doing this she thinks bitterly can’t he just fucking say it? That you’re as bad as she is. She turns to him venomous.

“You can’t say what you really think can you Ray?” she hisses at him “that your pissed off at me, that I let you down… fine I don’t fucking care any more  if its what you think walk away. Then I can add you to the list of people who I tried to love but wasn’t good enough for”

She walks angrily out the door

Ray takes a moment to decide on whether to be a gentleman and accept the rudeness or chase after her and angrily kiss her. Option C it is. Follow and talk. He follows her out the door, but doesn’t have to look too far to find her.

She’s standing just outside the door and curses as soft tirade of Italian.

 

She never looks prettier than when she’s angry. Thinks Ray, was that a John Wayne film? He can’t remember. She flings him a look and he remembers why he came out the room.
“We can complete this so far one sided conversation if you wish my participation.” Don’t kiss her he thinks that won’t help “Unless you wish to have my opinions for me. I am glad our relationship has progressed to that level; next we will be able to fart comfortably in each other presence or leave the toilet door open.” If in doubt try for humour, a woman appreciates a man who can make her laugh was that right? Because the looks are definitely not an option he thinks bitterly “But It would be nice for me to tell you rather than you assume what my Point of view is or my opinion.”
He pauses she hasn’t moved or spoken.
“You can’t leave me here with Phil. I don’t think he likes me? Please? Or I can leave instead?”

 

Was that a joke? She thinks. He looks at her blank face and hurries on

 

“Look, if I have something to say or something needs saying, I’ll say it. I don’t hide behind excuses. If I think something’s not for public digestion, I’ll take it off line to sort, I don’t dangle carrots. I am growing disillusioned with the constant bashing and snide evasions, It’s practically Carry on Hunting “Ray puts on a bad Kenneth Williams voice “Oh… Rev..er…end!”

Alex smiles despite herself, a pale ghost of a smile. How did he manage to make her smile with all of this going on?

“And I was a serious crimes detective, not a love detective, I’ll put my hands up to my failings and romance and woman are really not my speciality.” He states sadly “I mean your ex is a centuries old, Jaded and Jilted Blood sucking lesbian Vampire” Oh if that’s not a bad film title she didn’t know what was. He continues “And head of a large legal corporation. It’s getting a bit Scott Pilgrim here, y’know! Not that I am implying your loose or anything but is there a werewolf boyfriend in there too, if so I think I’ve already met him ” Ray traces scars with fingers whilst smiling “If you can love a face like this, then you are really encouraging me to hold on to you. You make it worth getting up to fight all this y’know. I meant what I said.”

She pales visibly at the thought of Theresa and Ray meeting “This isn’t Scott Pilgrim like you said, you don’t have to defeat my 7 evil exs to date me, I don’t even have many so it would be a really short really bad film”

 

She pauses thinking about Nicolas for the first time in years.

 

“And as for a boyfriend the one and only boyfriend and only other I’ve been with for that matter dumped my cus mummy didn’t approve and threatened to cut him off from the inheritance…” she trails off as she realises how much that still hurt “If you have to ask such stupid questions…you haven’t been paying any attention.” She pauses “Yeah I care about her, how could I not? I loved her; I think a small part of me still does. But this” She indicates between them with a small gesture “This is different. At least I thought so…” How do I tell him? She thinks “I never expected all this and I didn’t expect to meet you…”
She trails off unsure how to proceed.

 

“If you ask me to leave, to save the others I’ll go. But I’ll be going so she won’t hurt you and that’s the truth of it.”

 

At least she can be honest with him.

 

“No, No I don’t want you to leave the community, but if you lead it, they won’t take kindly to your relationship history. It ought to stay buried with me… and your confessor?”

 

Alex stares at him. Did he really just ask her to keep this a secret?
”You know you should have just shut me up by kissing me” he smiles at her gently “Or you can give me Theresa phone number….. Which I will be asking for please?” He says quickly switching subjects “And before you ask.. I want to talk to her. Just talk. Her and me.”
She moves towards him and stops short but close enough a breath would make them touch. She contemplates leaning into him and kissing him, but shakes away the vastly inappropriate thought.
“Can we talk about this in the morning? If you want her number then I’ll give it. I just have to check on Phil’s Mum and we can leave” She looks up at you “You can’t go home now, I have to stay with you, and she won’t try anything when I’m at risk. The logical thing is for you to stay at mine.” Rays eyebrows rise comically shocked “Please it’s just for tonight then you can decide what you want to do and what you want me to do.”

His laugh surprises her. He’s been doing that allot tonight.
” That’s the most ingenious ‘come back to mine line’ I’ve ever heard.” He grins at her “I can’t refuse a beautiful woman in need of a gentleman.” She flushes slightly embarrassed, unable to take the compliment “Yes. Theresa won’t kill me. I will have her number please.” He states momentarily serious ”Now, I’ll grab some stuff, stay at yours, make sure you’re settled…. but I’ve decided to stay at hotels whilst I fix up the house and sell it. Heck my office is private I could even kip there if needs be…”
He pauses realising she’s not looking at him
”Alex?” She moves to look at him as his fingers brush her chin and moves to kiss her for the second time.

She stiffens momentarily at the one thing she least expected from this, but rapidly melts into the kiss. She pulls away reluctantly
“Umm…I have to…see Marie, tell her I’m going home for now. She’s trying to get him a private room…” She trails off. Oh come on it wasn’t that good a kiss! “Don’t go anywhere”

 

Oh hell who was she kidding?

What we have to Loose

Curious 2 - Blank

The following is the beginning of my Hunter – the reckoning character Alex Newman Hunter ID Curious29. Theresa was her girlfriend, but when Alex was imbued she saw her love was a Vampire…Her best friend Phillip was hospitalized a few sessions later…a car “accident”…this is where we pick up the story…

The Hunters had all gathered to try and lend what aid they could to the stricken shell of a man on the hospital bed. Philip, still bloody and scraped hooked up to the whirring bits of machinery keeping him breathing and his heart beating.

The hiss of the pump forcing the air into unresponsive lungs, the click as it resets, the incessant bleeping of the heart monitor. Shhh, Click, Beep, Shhh, Click, Beep.

“I’m Sorry, There’s nothing I can do, I’m so very sorry” The Rev is unable to meet the silent circle of faces. Alex’s face is blank unreadable, she lowers her head and her hair covers her face casting it into shadow.

She rose slowly and mechanically, moving politely around the hunters. She barely made it to the ward door to hear the click of the latch as the door swung shut behind her before the storm inside her broke.

When the raw emotion left she found her self in strewn debris of the plastic hospital furniture, sobbing for the first time since her mother died. Her back is pressed against the cold hospital wall. The new guy, Oh God she thought I haven’t even asked his name… was the first to come to her, kneeling beside her.

“I won’t ask if you’re ok”

“Good because I’m not” came the muffled reply

“I’m here if you need me”

Her phone sounds a new text message arrival. It’s her again.

“Let me know if you’ve considered my offer xx”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure”

“What would you do to save someone you care about?”

“I don’t…”

“Would you make a deal with the devil?”

“I …” The young man looks confused and concerned. The question is unusual, not what you would expect from a grieving friend.

Quietly the door opens Ray and Maura walk in awkwardly, unsure what help they can be. She looks at them red eyes too wide stopping the tears from falling.

Ray kneels down by her as the young medic retreats out of Alex’s focus

“What can I do?” Ray hovers, unsure if he should go to her and hold her, unsure what would be appropriate

Alex buries her face in her hands muffling her voice “What would you do to save someone you love Ray?”

“I don’t…”

“Would you make a deal with the devil?”

“What?”

“Would you?”

“I..” Ray stops noticing that Alex is not listening but staring deadpan at a message on her phone he can’t quite see.

Maura standing over them, face impassive, bends down to Alex and motions requesting the phone. In a daze Alex lifts her hand outstretched with the phone. Maura deftly plucks the phone from her hands. She scans the message briefly, eyes briefly widening in surprise and without any hesitating flings the mobile against the far wall. The mobile shatters into pieces. The hall falls into silence as the others stare at the small woman in front of them. Maura walks away muttering “No deals” She pauses at the door to look at Alex. “I’ll wait for you inside”

A stunned silence follows. People shift uncomfortably drifting away leaving Ray and Alex alone.

Ray watches as this broken woman in front of him pulls herself together in front of his eyes. It is an eerie spectacle; it’s like watching a film in rewind. A few moments and the only evidence she was ever crying are the red rims around her eyes and the streaks running down her cheeks.

She sighs and tilts her head to look at him.

“Ray what would you do to save someone you cared about? Honestly?”

Ray hesitates briefly, still thrown by the question “I would do what I could.” But I also believe something’s happen for a reason. Your Friend, for example, it could be this moment that is set to define who you are and why you do what you do.” Ray pauses thoughts turning inwards, his eyes grow distant

“I lost my mum to cancer” pain etched on his face “There was nothing I could do to help her. I couldn’t end her suffering and I watched her deteriorate and die strapped to a machine. For several years after I was enthusiastic in promoting cancer awareness. I even neglected time with my own family to raise money. My mum would never have wanted that. She would have wanted me to enjoy what I had.” His eyes return to hers, Alex feels uncomfortable with the weight of that look. She isn’t sure she’s earned that, not yet.

Ray moves and upends two of the unbroken chairs in the corridor against the wall, offering his hand to Alex to help her to her feet. She stands with difficulty sitting on the floor for so long has given her pins and needles. She thumps down on the chair that wobbles worryingly. He takes a seat next to her.

“You can’t bring your friend back, and I doubt he would want you to donate brain matter or work some fancy black magic mumbo jumbo if it meant you would suffer for it. This guy means a lot to you. I see that. I reckon we should let other doctors, perhaps better doctors provide an opinion” He doesn’t want to continue but he knows he has to.

“But I think you should prepare for the worst.” Alex’s wide eyes turn glassy at this stretching wider to stop the tears falling. He hurries on feeling guilty for her fresh wave of emotion.

“Grief is awful. The Loss is awful, but you still can control on what it turns you into. I am here for you.” His arm goes round her shoulders, Alex never noticed before now but he’s actually taller than her. She’s struck by the peculiarity of the thought. Why is that important now of all things? Maybe its shock.

She looks away from him trying to make a little space between them how can she explain this so he won’t end up hating her for this secret? She wants to tell him everything, but the fear ropes round her mind squeezing out and rationality – He’ll leave like they’ve all done. He’ll betray you… a nasty spiteful voice in her head. The betrayals, the lies and the pain over and over again. Did she dare open up to another one? Would this one prove that niggling doubt or quash it?

Start at the beginning sweetheart. – As always she’s right.

“Phil has been my friend since we were two. You might say we were inseparable, but that would be an understatement.” She shakes her head trying to get rid of this creeping feeling that her girlfriend, no her ex, is somehow involved in all of this “I cant quite shake the feeling that this was no accident that everyone I care about it going to get hurt ‘cus of some damn stupid thing that I didn’t ask for.” For the very first time she feels a stab of resentment. If this is God’s will why the hell did he do this to Phillip, he never deserved this just as she never asked to be one of these chosen few. If this is His will she realised she wanted some damn answers…

She suddenly realises the silence has stretched and Ray is looking at her concern etched on his face. She may as well tell him everything. But can she? She breathes deeply and starts

“I was 9 when my mother died” the pain hits her as fresh as the day she first experienced it . She breaths out sharply trying to quash the raising panic.

“It was a car crash. Something big and hairy ran in front of the car she swerved and we crashed. My brother and I were in the car. He was 3. When I came too the car was smashed against a tree and my Mum” She paused taking a breath as the images come into her mind “wasn’t moving.” Alex takes a breath to steady herself “I dragged my sobbing brother from the wreck because I knew something was still out there. I had 4 broken ribs and a punctured lung, but I knew I had to keep him safe and quiet.” She realises she’s not ready to tell him what she saw, the fear wins again, she can practically hear its triumph. Alex struggles to find a way to continue she needs to tell him about…her.

“I know about loss. I’ve lost allot but I have more to loose. Family, friends…” She looks at him. There he is listening attentively and her heart skips.

This feeling she’s only ever had twice maybe only once for real. Is it possible? All she’s sure of in that moment is this man; this stubborn, wilful man has just made the list of people she has to take care of. Someone she cannot allow to be hurt. Someone she loves. Damn it. Another person she can loose, who can break her heart. She does the only thing she knows she moves forward.

“There are things you don’t know. Things I need to tell someone but I can’t yet. It puts you in too much danger.”

Ray contemplates for a moment.

“I had something similar happen to me four months ago.” Alex frowns at him he clearly hasn’t picked up on her implication and he quickly carries on

“I had a vision that a werewolf was hit by my neighbour’s daughter’s car. It tore the car open in rage and killed her.” His eyes close. She wonders if these visions damage the visionary, because even the memory of it looks painful.

“I changed the future, and it tore through my house trying to kill me.” She studies his scared face – Ray has been the hunter most in the line of fire “I was hospitalised but I managed to repel it from my bedroom.” Ray pauses pressing his free hand over his eyes. As if trying to find a way to wipe out that memory “Look, you clearly have been exposed to these horrors before. I see that. You are not obliged to tell me anything.”

Yes I am She thinks quietly to herself. He pauses cautiously
“But you can.”

They sit in silence for a few moments, When she says nothing he continues.

“I have no evidence. I used to go by hard facts but there are so few around that I am steered by Intuition more and more, but I believe there are no accidents. The driver of the car that did this was under the influence. But we don’t know what” Alex realises she’s not even asked yet and makes a mental note to find that out as soon as she can, it might be the link she needs to find what’s responsible for. No not yet, he isn’t gone, yet.

“I think pigment. I think Pigment is supernatural in its origin and its being put out there to cause more death and deadlight.” Alex looks at him, his gaze is far off connecting all the strands of evidence he has finding where they lead. She knows that look well from years of police work.
“I believe it’s calculated, and I believe a great monolithic evil is masterminding it.
No one of us to going to stop that, but if enough of us give up, if enough of us are distracted, it certainly will get its way.” He stops, pausing for the right words.

“I believe it’s that fucker that needs to pay the bill for the suffering we are all enduring.”

Yes she bloody well does

“Alex, babe, Be with your friend, but don’t let the darkness win. I am right here.” He closes she space between them and holds her close.

Just tell him you idiot! Carry on from where you were he needs to know it all.

“Ray I was on medication for years.” She hesitates, this is laying her soul bare and hoping he wont run “They thought it was post traumatic stress! 2 close calls with clumsy werewolves who have no fucking traffic sense, a zombie attack in a Tesco…and others. I thought I was crazy and then this all happens it kind of gets explained, but so much isn’t!” Surprised at her own frustration she lapses into silence, but continues “What are we fighting Ray? When do we all become monsters because we believe we’re doing “the right thing”?” Sudden realisation that’s what she fears most abandoning all she is all she loves to chase the monsters down. Not protecting them, letting them down.

Ray moves to look into her eyes.

“We are not monsters.” He states “We carefully assess the morality of what we are doing. We are not like Serial or Zero, who walk dangerously close to that line.”

“You certainly don’t.” She looks unconvinced
“I have said from day one, we need information, rather than just blinding running around twatting something because it’s different. We have our Calling Roles. I think the wayward are our answer to our own monstrousness; they’ll do the things we with our humanity and calling cannot do. That is their purpose, and the rest of us, possibly the visionaries, I think we are supposed to give them direction to the right targets that require that response. The heralds gave us a sign to live up to.”

Alex has closed down, but the turmoil within rages. And I forgot mine. I didn’t defend Phillip. I forgot, thought he would be safe. Such a child’s thought. She shakes her head sadly, faith shaken.

She laughs quietly, humourlessly.

“If this is Gods work he’s got a really sick sense of humour”

“As for Gods sense of humour” He laughs darkly “I really don’t think I can start that discussion again!”

Alex remembers the ridiculous online debate. What a stupid thing to get caught up in, they all did. Petty and pathetic. But that summed up what they’ve been doing blundering about and swinging blindly. Sometimes hitting allies and friends.

“Ray most Catholics realise the world all fucked up. Remember I’m a scientist too!”

His expression sobers
“You have done amazingly well for yourself from such a challenge. You are a beautiful, successful woman.” She looks softly stunned, he looks embarrassed and continues “You kick ass. I know you are all crunchy and stern not he outside and all soft in the inside. You do a fantastic job.”

He pulls her close again rubbing her back in a comforting gesture. It feels so normal, why wasn’t it all normal? She sighs against his chest and pushes the dark thoughts away to smile despite the darkness. She pushes back from the embrace

“….Wait” trying to keep her face deadpan “Are you saying I’m a Dime bar or is that an Armadillo?” the corner of her mouth twists into a small, lopsided smile

She is thankful after the surprise vanishes he returns the smile, clearly happy to see her smile.

“It’s the same thing, from the same advert. You know….”dime…bar”.” The grin softens “But no, I wasn’t calling you a dime bar.”

They sit holding one another.
Thoughts start to creep into her mind. What if their blind hostility was leading to them to destroy so called monsters they were meant to save, was it possible? She sighs heavily. Ray looks down at her the unspoken question clear. What’s wrong?

“How do we separate the monsters from the men? How do we call what is what?” Poor Barbara for instance

“Is Barbara a monster for existing as she does? Did she have a choice? Or was this foisted onto her?” Her Ex’s smiling face springs into her mind unbidden. Could she really? Surely she wasn’t that cruel, that petty.

She feels bad for her questioning but it’s easier to say it out loud. To voice this discomfort she feels.

“Hell there’s enough difficulty in telling what human being to trust let alone if you can count someone as a monster just for turning furry or biting people!” And suddenly her role in all this is clear “If there’s evil intent or they’re harming folk who don’t deserve it I will hunt them until the end of the world. But some confused lady who woke up from the dead? Not so much. Where does the woman stop and the monster start?”

Ray signs obviously hoping to have stopped the serious talk for a while, but this lady was a thinker and a person of action and deeds. Much like him, and he knows he sure as hell wouldn’t be deflected by a flippant comment.

“Look, We are not going to define what a monster is based on if it’s alive dead, hairy or shaved it could be half dead with a Brazilian wax…. then what the fuck… ?” She laughs despite herself “It’s not the cover of the book we have to Judge. It’s the acts. the GOOD, and the evil, that’s how we define it.”

He’s right she knows it, but is it really that easy? Sometimes the world isn’t black and white but shades of grey. Who is she is judge these creatures. How will she be enough to hold back the bad guys from those who need protection? You have to be one of the good guys Alex because there’s too many of the bad guys out there. She can’t remember when she heard it, who said that to her? It’s her mothers voice? Maybe. It bothers her before she realises Ray is still speaking.

“…Man has wrestled with them for years. Man is inherently evil as he is good, so really before all this, were we monsters? We have to have our moral compass and be prepared to live with our own actions. Monsters feel nothing.” He stops hesitating looking to her.

“Like now… I want to kiss you.”

She blinks realising they haven’t done anything like that yet. She flushes slightly at the idea of it, that even now it’s what she wants. He rushes on thinking he’s caused her embarrassment. When really it’s the guilt of her desires.

“It’s wholly inappropriate under the circumstances.”

Not really she thinks with a fresh stab of guilt.

“If I just do it I am and it’s not wanted, I am pretty much a bastard and I have to deal with the consequence and have to reconcile loosing something special. Am I prepared to risk everything on that action now and live with that consequence? No. I prefer to go with patience and decency.” She smiles at the hastily worded analogy; he’s sweet when he’s flustered.

“But if I had said yes, regardless of the consequences… Monsters lack that reasoning and I would hazard always goes with option A over B. Granted this example not exactly at the extremes of good and evil, but I am reasonable sure my point got lost in their somewhere.” He’s not been looking at her thought the last part of the example. She vaguely wonders if it’s not decency that’s stopped him but his worry that his scars upset or repulse her. She smiles, whatever happens he’s always Ray. Yes it hurts when he gets himself hurt but nothing could change who he is.

Ray moves back a little awkwardly. Alex smiles more he thinks he’s upset her because she’s gone quiet, she sakes her head. Men are so unobservant at times.

He clears his throat “Dime Bar? Coffee? Lift home?”

He pauses shuffling his feet and looking at the floor or down the corridor, unable to meet her eyes, like a school boy at this first telling off in the headmaster’s office.

“Er?… Look, I might do a walk round of the hospital and see if I spot some random grubbily that you and that new guys saw, give you some time with your friend.
Unless you are ready to leave?” A brief pause, his eyes briefly flitting up and returning to the empty corridor “Whatever you want.”

Alex steps towards him “Ray you’re an idiot”

She kisses him, not sure if it’s the smart thing to do but it sure as hell feels like the right thing to do. She pulls back, light headed.

She hesitates a little flushed, that was impulsive, but the look on his face is worth it. Ray stands wide eyes, not moving not quite sure if what just happened was real. She stands close holding both his hands

“I want you to stay with me,” She wants to explain it all but will he understand; it might be the only time he lets her close again. “Will you stay?”

He slowly registers the question and nods. She smiles at him.

“Well if we’re in this for the long haul you better get yourself something to eat, I have some calls to make so no rush. Could you bring me a coffee?” Ugh it feels to close to a lie, but she has to get it straight. Then she can tell him everything.

He nods again and remembers he can talk “Milk and sugar?”

“No milk, 3 sugars. I like my coffee Black as might sweet as sin”

That earns her a smile from him

“Sure you’ll be ok?”

“Yeah I’m ok. See you in a bit”

“I’ll be right back I promise…” He hurries down the corridor briefly looking over his shoulder. For some reason she’s reminded of her Greek mythology.

The story of Orpheus and Eurydice, the deal made with Hades that Eurydice would follow him to the surface and once there be transformed once more to a living woman. But in his fear that he has been tricked Orpheus, looks back. He sees her briefly before she disappears this time forever. He forsook his Gods and his followers, in the end being torn to pieces by his enraged female followers as he forswore the love of women after the loss of his beloved wife. He was not as the modern myths say torn to pieces by the furies that he made weep with his beautiful songs, but for his vows to his wife.

The thought is dark and painful. But what end can there be for those that fight but death nd despair? The death of hope will be the end of us. There has to be hope, there has to be goodness or what is there?

Alex goes over to a payphone and dials in the number – she knows the number from memory and doesn’t need the mobile that Maura smashed. She hears the phone pick up after just two rings as she knew it would.

“We need to talk”

 

The Hunters had all gathered to try and lend what aid they could to the stricken shell of a man on the hospital bed. Philip, still bloody and scraped hooked up to the whirring bits of machinery keeping him breathing and his heart beating.

The hiss of the pump forcing the air into unresponsive lungs, the click as it resets, the incessant bleeping of the heart monitor. Shhh, Click, Beep, Shhh, Click, Beep.

“I’m Sorry, There’s nothing I can do, I’m so very sorry” The Rev is unable to meet the silent circle of faces. Alex’s face is blank unreadable, she lowers her head and her hair covers her face casting it into shadow.

She rose slowly and mechanically, moving politely around the hunters. She barely made it to the ward door to hear the click of the latch as the door swung shut behind her before the storm inside her broke.

When the raw emotion left she found her self in strewn debris of the plastic hospital furniture, sobbing for the first time since her mother died. Her back is pressed against the cold hospital wall. The new guy, Oh God she thought I haven’t even asked his name… was the first to come to her, kneeling beside her.

“I won’t ask if you’re ok”

“Good because I’m not” came the muffled reply

“I’m here if you need me”

Her phone sounds a new text message arrival. It’s her again.

“Let me know if you’ve considered my offer xx”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure”

“What would you do to save someone you care about?”

“I don’t…”

“Would you make a deal with the devil?”

“I …” The young man looks confused and concerned. The question is unusual, not what you would expect from a grieving friend.

Quietly the door opens Ray and Maura walk in awkwardly, unsure what help they can be. She looks at them red eyes too wide stopping the tears from falling.

Ray kneels down by her as the young medic retreats out of Alex’s focus

“What can I do?” Ray hovers, unsure if he should go to her and hold her, unsure what would be appropriate

Alex buries her face in her hands muffling her voice “What would you do to save someone you love Ray?”

“I don’t…”

“Would you make a deal with the devil?”

“What?”

“Would you?”

“I..” Ray stops noticing that Alex is not listening but staring deadpan at a message on her phone he can’t quite see.

Maura standing over them, face impassive, bends down to Alex and motions requesting the phone. In a daze Alex lifts her hand outstretched with the phone. Maura deftly plucks the phone from her hands. She scans the message briefly, eyes briefly widening in surprise and without any hesitating flings the mobile against the far wall. The mobile shatters into pieces. The hall falls into silence as the others stare at the small woman in front of them. Maura walks away muttering “No deals” She pauses at the door to look at Alex. “I’ll wait for you inside”

A stunned silence follows. People shift uncomfortably drifting away leaving Ray and Alex alone.

Ray watches as this broken woman in front of him pulls herself together in front of his eyes. It is an eerie spectacle; it’s like watching a film in rewind. A few moments and the only evidence she was ever crying are the red rims around her eyes and the streaks running down her cheeks.

She sighs and tilts her head to look at him.

“Ray what would you do to save someone you cared about? Honestly?”

Ray hesitates briefly, still thrown by the question “I would do what I could.” But I also believe something’s happen for a reason. Your Friend, for example, it could be this moment that is set to define who you are and why you do what you do.” Ray pauses thoughts turning inwards, his eyes grow distant

“I lost my mum to cancer” pain etched on his face “There was nothing I could do to help her. I couldn’t end her suffering and I watched her deteriorate and die strapped to a machine. For several years after I was enthusiastic in promoting cancer awareness. I even neglected time with my own family to raise money. My mum would never have wanted that. She would have wanted me to enjoy what I had.” His eyes return to hers, Alex feels uncomfortable with the weight of that look. She isn’t sure she’s earned that, not yet.

Ray moves and upends two of the unbroken chairs in the corridor against the wall, offering his hand to Alex to help her to her feet. She stands with difficulty sitting on the floor for so long has given her pins and needles. She thumps down on the chair that wobbles worryingly. He takes a seat next to her.

“You can’t bring your friend back, and I doubt he would want you to donate brain matter or work some fancy black magic mumbo jumbo if it meant you would suffer for it. This guy means a lot to you. I see that. I reckon we should let other doctors, perhaps better doctors provide an opinion” He doesn’t want to continue but he knows he has to.

“But I think you should prepare for the worst.” Alex’s wide eyes turn glassy at this stretching wider to stop the tears falling. He hurries on feeling guilty for her fresh wave of emotion.

“Grief is awful. The Loss is awful, but you still can control on what it turns you into. I am here for you.” His arm goes round her shoulders, Alex never noticed before now but he’s actually taller than her. She’s struck by the peculiarity of the thought. Why is that important now of all things? Maybe its shock.

She looks away from him trying to make a little space between them how can she explain this so he won’t end up hating her for this secret? She wants to tell him everything, but the fear ropes round her mind squeezing out and rationality – He’ll leave like they’ve all done. He’ll betray you… a nasty spiteful voice in her head. The betrayals, the lies and the pain over and over again. Did she dare open up to another one? Would this one prove that niggling doubt or quash it?

Start at the beginning sweetheart. – As always she’s right.

“Phil has been my friend since we were two. You might say we were inseparable, but that would be an understatement.” She shakes her head trying to get rid of this creeping feeling that her girlfriend, no her ex, is somehow involved in all of this “I cant quite shake the feeling that this was no accident that everyone I care about it going to get hurt ‘cus of some damn stupid thing that I didn’t ask for.” For the very first time she feels a stab of resentment. If this is God’s will why the hell did he do this to Phillip, he never deserved this just as she never asked to be one of these chosen few. If this is His will she realised she wanted some damn answers…

She suddenly realises the silence has stretched and Ray is looking at her concern etched on his face. She may as well tell him everything. But can she? She breathes deeply and starts

“I was 9 when my mother died” the pain hits her as fresh as the day she first experienced it . She breaths out sharply trying to quash the raising panic.

“It was a car crash. Something big and hairy ran in front of the car she swerved and we crashed. My brother and I were in the car. He was 3. When I came too the car was smashed against a tree and my Mum” She paused taking a breath as the images come into her mind “wasn’t moving.” Alex takes a breath to steady herself “I dragged my sobbing brother from the wreck because I knew something was still out there. I had 4 broken ribs and a punctured lung, but I knew I had to keep him safe and quiet.” She realises she’s not ready to tell him what she saw, the fear wins again, she can practically hear its triumph. Alex struggles to find a way to continue she needs to tell him about…her.

“I know about loss. I’ve lost allot but I have more to loose. Family, friends…” She looks at him. There he is listening attentively and her heart skips.

This feeling she’s only ever had twice maybe only once for real. Is it possible? All she’s sure of in that moment is this man; this stubborn, wilful man has just made the list of people she has to take care of. Someone she cannot allow to be hurt. Someone she loves. Damn it. Another person she can loose, who can break her heart. She does the only thing she knows she moves forward.

“There are things you don’t know. Things I need to tell someone but I can’t yet. It puts you in too much danger.”

Ray contemplates for a moment.

“I had something similar happen to me four months ago.” Alex frowns at him he clearly hasn’t picked up on her implication and he quickly carries on

“I had a vision that a werewolf was hit by my neighbour’s daughter’s car. It tore the car open in rage and killed her.” His eyes close. She wonders if these visions damage the visionary, because even the memory of it looks painful.

“I changed the future, and it tore through my house trying to kill me.” She studies his scared face – Ray has been the hunter most in the line of fire “I was hospitalised but I managed to repel it from my bedroom.” Ray pauses pressing his free hand over his eyes. As if trying to find a way to wipe out that memory “Look, you clearly have been exposed to these horrors before. I see that. You are not obliged to tell me anything.”

Yes I am She thinks quietly to herself. He pauses cautiously
“But you can.”

They sit in silence for a few moments, When she says nothing he continues.

“I have no evidence. I used to go by hard facts but there are so few around that I am steered by Intuition more and more, but I believe there are no accidents. The driver of the car that did this was under the influence. But we don’t know what” Alex realises she’s not even asked yet and makes a mental note to find that out as soon as she can, it might be the link she needs to find what’s responsible for. No not yet, he isn’t gone, yet.

“I think pigment. I think Pigment is supernatural in its origin and its being put out there to cause more death and deadlight.” Alex looks at him, his gaze is far off connecting all the strands of evidence he has finding where they lead. She knows that look well from years of police work.
“I believe it’s calculated, and I believe a great monolithic evil is masterminding it.
No one of us to going to stop that, but if enough of us give up, if enough of us are distracted, it certainly will get its way.” He stops, pausing for the right words.

“I believe it’s that fucker that needs to pay the bill for the suffering we are all enduring.”

Yes she bloody well does

“Alex, babe, Be with your friend, but don’t let the darkness win. I am right here.” He closes she space between them and holds her close.

Just tell him you idiot! Carry on from where you were he needs to know it all.

“Ray I was on medication for years.” She hesitates, this is laying her soul bare and hoping he wont run “They thought it was post traumatic stress! 2 close calls with clumsy werewolves who have no fucking traffic sense, a zombie attack in a Tesco…and others. I thought I was crazy and then this all happens it kind of gets explained, but so much isn’t!” Surprised at her own frustration she lapses into silence, but continues “What are we fighting Ray? When do we all become monsters because we believe we’re doing “the right thing”?” Sudden realisation that’s what she fears most abandoning all she is all she loves to chase the monsters down. Not protecting them, letting them down.

Ray moves to look into her eyes.

“We are not monsters.” He states “We carefully assess the morality of what we are doing. We are not like Serial or Zero, who walk dangerously close to that line.”

“You certainly don’t.” She looks unconvinced
“I have said from day one, we need information, rather than just blinding running around twatting something because it’s different. We have our Calling Roles. I think the wayward are our answer to our own monstrousness; they’ll do the things we with our humanity and calling cannot do. That is their purpose, and the rest of us, possibly the visionaries, I think we are supposed to give them direction to the right targets that require that response. The heralds gave us a sign to live up to.”

Alex has closed down, but the turmoil within rages. And I forgot mine. I didn’t defend Phillip. I forgot, thought he would be safe. Such a child’s thought. She shakes her head sadly, faith shaken.

She laughs quietly, humourlessly.

“If this is Gods work he’s got a really sick sense of humour”

“As for Gods sense of humour” He laughs darkly “I really don’t think I can start that discussion again!”

Alex remembers the ridiculous online debate. What a stupid thing to get caught up in, they all did. Petty and pathetic. But that summed up what they’ve been doing blundering about and swinging blindly. Sometimes hitting allies and friends.

“Ray most Catholics realise the world all fucked up. Remember I’m a scientist too!”

His expression sobers
“You have done amazingly well for yourself from such a challenge. You are a beautiful, successful woman.” She looks softly stunned, he looks embarrassed and continues “You kick ass. I know you are all crunchy and stern not he outside and all soft in the inside. You do a fantastic job.”

He pulls her close again rubbing her back in a comforting gesture. It feels so normal, why wasn’t it all normal? She sighs against his chest and pushes the dark thoughts away to smile despite the darkness. She pushes back from the embrace

“….Wait” trying to keep her face deadpan “Are you saying I’m a Dime bar or is that an Armadillo?” the corner of her mouth twists into a small, lopsided smile

She is thankful after the surprise vanishes he returns the smile, clearly happy to see her smile.

“It’s the same thing, from the same advert. You know….”dime…bar”.” The grin softens “But no, I wasn’t calling you a dime bar.”

They sit holding one another.
Thoughts start to creep into her mind. What if their blind hostility was leading to them to destroy so called monsters they were meant to save, was it possible? She sighs heavily. Ray looks down at her the unspoken question clear. What’s wrong?

“How do we separate the monsters from the men? How do we call what is what?” Poor Barbara for instance

“Is Barbara a monster for existing as she does? Did she have a choice? Or was this foisted onto her?” Her Ex’s smiling face springs into her mind unbidden. Could she really? Surely she wasn’t that cruel, that petty.

She feels bad for her questioning but it’s easier to say it out loud. To voice this discomfort she feels.

“Hell there’s enough difficulty in telling what human being to trust let alone if you can count someone as a monster just for turning furry or biting people!” And suddenly her role in all this is clear “If there’s evil intent or they’re harming folk who don’t deserve it I will hunt them until the end of the world. But some confused lady who woke up from the dead? Not so much. Where does the woman stop and the monster start?”

Ray signs obviously hoping to have stopped the serious talk for a while, but this lady was a thinker and a person of action and deeds. Much like him, and he knows he sure as hell wouldn’t be deflected by a flippant comment.

“Look, We are not going to define what a monster is based on if it’s alive dead, hairy or shaved it could be half dead with a Brazilian wax…. then what the fuck… ?” She laughs despite herself “It’s not the cover of the book we have to Judge. It’s the acts. the GOOD, and the evil, that’s how we define it.”

He’s right she knows it, but is it really that easy? Sometimes the world isn’t black and white but shades of grey. Who is she is judge these creatures. How will she be enough to hold back the bad guys from those who need protection? You have to be one of the good guys Alex because there’s too many of the bad guys out there. She can’t remember when she heard it, who said that to her? It’s her mothers voice? Maybe. It bothers her before she realises Ray is still speaking.

“…Man has wrestled with them for years. Man is inherently evil as he is good, so really before all this, were we monsters? We have to have our moral compass and be prepared to live with our own actions. Monsters feel nothing.” He stops hesitating looking to her.

“Like now… I want to kiss you.”

She blinks realising they haven’t done anything like that yet. She flushes slightly at the idea of it, that even now it’s what she wants. He rushes on thinking he’s caused her embarrassment. When really it’s the guilt of her desires.

“It’s wholly inappropriate under the circumstances.”

Not really she thinks with a fresh stab of guilt.

“If I just do it I am and it’s not wanted, I am pretty much a bastard and I have to deal with the consequence and have to reconcile loosing something special. Am I prepared to risk everything on that action now and live with that consequence? No. I prefer to go with patience and decency.” She smiles at the hastily worded analogy; he’s sweet when he’s flustered.

“But if I had said yes, regardless of the consequences… Monsters lack that reasoning and I would hazard always goes with option A over B. Granted this example not exactly at the extremes of good and evil, but I am reasonable sure my point got lost in their somewhere.” He’s not been looking at her thought the last part of the example. She vaguely wonders if it’s not decency that’s stopped him but his worry that his scars upset or repulse her. She smiles, whatever happens he’s always Ray. Yes it hurts when he gets himself hurt but nothing could change who he is.

Ray moves back a little awkwardly. Alex smiles more he thinks he’s upset her because she’s gone quiet, she sakes her head. Men are so unobservant at times.

He clears his throat “Dime Bar? Coffee? Lift home?”

He pauses shuffling his feet and looking at the floor or down the corridor, unable to meet her eyes, like a school boy at this first telling off in the headmaster’s office.

“Er?… Look, I might do a walk round of the hospital and see if I spot some random grubbily that you and that new guys saw, give you some time with your friend.
Unless you are ready to leave?” A brief pause, his eyes briefly flitting up and returning to the empty corridor “Whatever you want.”

Alex steps towards him “Ray you’re an idiot”

She kisses him, not sure if it’s the smart thing to do but it sure as hell feels like the right thing to do. She pulls back, light headed.

She hesitates a little flushed, that was impulsive, but the look on his face is worth it. Ray stands wide eyes, not moving not quite sure if what just happened was real. She stands close holding both his hands

“I want you to stay with me,” She wants to explain it all but will he understand; it might be the only time he lets her close again. “Will you stay?”

He slowly registers the question and nods. She smiles at him.

“Well if we’re in this for the long haul you better get yourself something to eat, I have some calls to make so no rush. Could you bring me a coffee?” Ugh it feels to close to a lie, but she has to get it straight. Then she can tell him everything.

He nods again and remembers he can talk “Milk and sugar?”

“No milk, 3 sugars. I like my coffee Black as might sweet as sin”

That earns her a smile from him

“Sure you’ll be ok?”

“Yeah I’m ok. See you in a bit”

“I’ll be right back I promise…” He hurries down the corridor briefly looking over his shoulder. For some reason she’s reminded of her Greek mythology.

The story of Orpheus and Eurydice, the deal made with Hades that Eurydice would follow him to the surface and once there be transformed once more to a living woman. But in his fear that he has been tricked Orpheus, looks back. He sees her briefly before she disappears this time forever. He forsook his Gods and his followers, in the end being torn to pieces by his enraged female followers as he forswore the love of women after the loss of his beloved wife. He was not as the modern myths say torn to pieces by the furies that he made weep with his beautiful songs, but for his vows to his wife.

The thought is dark and painful. But what end can there be for those that fight but death nd despair? The death of hope will be the end of us. There has to be hope, there has to be goodness or what is there?

Alex goes over to a payphone and dials in the number – she knows the number from memory and doesn’t need the mobile that Maura smashed. She hears the phone pick up after just two rings as she knew it would.

“We need to talk”