Thursday, July 31, 2014

Note to Newcomers

The Nate and Seth series is a continuing story that includes challenge prompts. To read them in chronological order, click on the Nate and Seth Series page and follow the links. I hope you enjoy!

ETA: The story is now complete, so if you've been waiting for us to finish, we have.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Right Tool for the Job

His elegant fingers reached for me. Behind him, the shadow of decaying wings, a bullshit trick; earth-bound angels can’t fly. No means of escape, I suffered his touch. His resultant smile set fire to places I wish I didn’t have. When I say you shouldn’t fuck with angels, I mean it.

“Just kill me,” I begged. “Whatever you want me to do, I’m gonna screw it up. Maybe on purpose. Your observers should’ve reported my predilections.”

“Indeed. I hope to see you indulge them all, and then some.”

“Why?”

His smile left me raw. “Because daughter, it will waken Lucifer.”

Traditions

Marla stirred methodically, humming a lullaby familiar as my own name. I picked seeds from piles of pungent leaves, making a pyramid of possibility on splattered harvesting canvas. The kitchen smelled as it always had on brewing days: sweat, herbs, roses, and the stink of clarifying fat.

Marla sang with the same cadence as grandma had. Mama had skipped out on this part of her duty. On us, too.

I joined Marla, my fists filled with crushing green sweetness. “Told you Charlie Wright was good for something.”

“Bones woulda been optimal,” Marla said. “Still, it’s gonna be a fine gravy.”

Apostate

Stitches for the bigger lines
vining pink now that the blossoms
have been washed off,
running brown down the drain to disappear
in streams of crusted lifesblood,
promising scars much deeper
than a knife could go.

Plasters over nicks and scrapes,
mere reminders of the feel –
his hands on my nape, hers on my back
where welts now fade
to mottled yellow with a purple center,
another flower for the flower of my youth
crushed callously under heel
because I would not.

They call me heretic
when my only sin
was hearing the voice
of a god not their own.

You Get What You Pay For

When the city came down, flight was not an option, literal or figurative. We were cut off from the world, our own forever changed, no idea who survived or where.

We weren’t taken down by the strife of nations fighting over god and territory – never asking approval from the people who suffered and died – nor a “rogue operative” with a dirty bomb.

We did it ourselves, too busy focusing on sucking all the resources from the earth to notice the cracks – in society, the ice, the flatlands.

Seas rising, land trembling, our only prayers now are for a merciful end.

Outskirts

Peggy and I were mismatched as a pair of girls could be, she willowy, me a human fireplug. Ignoring snickering boys, frowning biddies, suspicious parents, she was my world and I hers.

The penalty for what we planned was beyond reckoning, but we had to get away. The woods whispered of a different world. We’d heard of its horrors our whole lives.

Dauntless, we climbed the wall and found it all true. Woodland people are savage, ruthless, cunning. Fighting every step, we learned first how to live, then thrive.

Civilization is a false façade for slavery. We will never return.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cold Comforts


Kaia leaned against the bar, dark eyes trained on me. Calling her had been foolish, but she’d come without demanding recompense.

“So, of the many things you wish you hadn’t done, which ranks higher: killing your father, not ensuring he was truly dead, or introducing me to your brother?”

“Hard call. Snuffing out that thing that claimed to spawn me? Pretty satisfying.”

“He impregnated your mother. Lying to yourself about it solves nothing.”

I ignored that. Denial was my second favorite drug. “I can’t regret leaving him buried in the woods. Nate was dying. Well, had died and then not.” My life defied simple explanations.

“That leaves me.” Kaia smiled, white teeth too sharp to be human. “If you hadn’t been bleeding profusely, I believe you’d have tried to stop me from kissing your brother.”

Bourbon provided an excuse for silence.

She patted my arm. “When last we parted, his heartbeat was strong and very, very fast.”

I didn’t want to think about the implications of Nate having sought the company of a Fury, much less what they’d done. “And his soul?”

“Tainted, but intact. Trust me, if I come after one of you, I’ll be coming for both. Your sins are too intertwined to untangle.” She leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Stay on the light side, Seth. I can always find you.”

She stepped through the door, unfurled black wings, and disappeared.

I dialed Nate’s number, sighed, then closed my phone. He’d contact me when he was ready.

Anniversary



Falling in layers, falling apart, rotting silk conveys in scent the enormity of what I’ve lost. One day. One happy day. Maybe a week. Two? Not a whole month. Never a year.

He loved me. I remember that. It was his undoing.

She was ruthless, his ex. Never laid a hand on us. Never showed her face. Just systematically destroyed his reputation, his credit, his faith. Then he started looking sideways at me.

Watery sunlight strikes remnants of a gown that was to herald a new chapter. It did that, if not as intended. He hanged himself with my veil.

Six of One

“Last bible thumper tried to save me got a blowjob. One before that got a punch in the face. Which you in the market for?”

Posh, twitchy, disdainful of my riot of curls, torn jeans, and bruises, the woman held her ground. “I represent someone with a proposal for you.”

“Blowjob it is.”

She sniffed. “He is above such things.”

I snorted. “No man is.”

“He is not… like others.” Truth, if tissue-thin.

He emerged from the limo, shining like a god, smirking like the devil.

“Shit,” I whispered. “Another fucking angel.”

“It is time, daughter.”

They’d finally caught me.

Homecoming

Thomas left his card, as a gentleman should, on the silver tray. Neither his name nor face caused spark of recognition in the butler, who withdrew silently. The only visitor to Pennsfield since armistice stared at the sparse décor, pretending he did not feel the mold slowly eating at the manor and everyone in it.

Eliza emerged, widow’s weeds exchanged for dove gray, better to hide the lack of quality. She looked at the visitor with a sad longing, her smile a memory.

“Liza, love, can you not greet your husband?”

She sighed. “Not until you admit you’re dead, Tommy.”

Friday, May 02, 2014

Saturday Night

Pretty girl at the end of the bar ignored her drink, stared at nothing. Beefy boys circled, convinced she’d fall for a square jaw, sculpted muscle, carefully tousled hair – young wolves sniffing around skittish prey.

“Slim chance,” I muttered to amber liquid, praying tonight I could get hammered and forget. Slim chance of that, too.

“Come on, baby.”

“I’ll buy you another drink.”

“Aren’t you in my psych class?”

Silence.

“Too good for us?”

“Frigid bitch.”

“I know where you live.”

She smiled. “Lived. Past tense. Let’s go.”

Drink forgotten, I followed them to the alley and watched her feed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Impact

Garnet pulled a loose thread, widening the ladder in the sweater her mother had knit. She tried to remember mum’s blonde curls bouncing as she laughed at a joke. Garnet had been funny, then. But the image would not come, supplanted by cornflower blue eyes wide with fear, body tilting at sickening angles as the car spun on grease-slicked road, rolling over and over, filling with smells of piss and blood and smoke.

Garnet had crawled from the crumpled wreckage of her life, just inches from the cliff. Freed from the hospital at last, it was time to go over.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Cotillion

I stood at the top of the stairs in a cold sweat. The rumble of genteel conversation below frightened me more than a pack of snapping dogs. Hounds I could quiet, but mine were secure behind an iron gate so as not to disturb the guests.

Brightly bedecked girls flowed down the steps, sanguine despite the cacophonous swirl, or perhaps because of it. We had been plumped, plucked and primped. Taught to dance, play, flirt, we were admonished above all to avoid scandal.

My sisters were too young to understand that this was not a party. It was a sale.

Esprit

Deft fingers turning ancient dial, quiet clicks echoed in Malcolm’s head.

“Hurry up!” Sal hissed.

“One shouldn’t rush delicate work.” The last tumbler fell into place, satisfying need for perfection.

“Cops could show at any minute.”

“Then you won’t have done your job.”

“Fucking ponce.”

Malcolm opened the safe and laconically placed stacks of bills into Sal’s shaking hands. The younger man zipped it up and turned away, anticipating dissipation.

Thin wire across delicate throat, pink bubbles erupting from surprised lips, Sal fell.

Bonds tucked into his inside jacket pocket, Malcolm stepped over the body and into a finer world.

I know what I know

First time Ciara woke up with a broken bone, Father demanded to know who had hurt his baby girl.

“Happened in the dream place, Pop-Pop.” She wouldn’t recant, even for a chocolate shake.

Sixth time, she came into the den dragging her leg. “Oakmen disturbed the King’s concert. They trampled me.”

Despair filled Father’s eyes. He already had a bed in the psych ward on standby.

That very night, They came for their Queen, and I watched my little sister disappear through the wall.

Nothing you say or give me will make me recant, but I do appreciate the bed.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Investment

“Bette earned her bonus the old fashioned way.” The girls in the typing pool giggle, having heard the rumors.

Pouty pink lips purse at my approach. They turn away, presenting a neat row of honey-blonde ponytails and tight French twists, pretending to be scandalized, wanting to peek but afraid of reprimand from the herd. Not one will look me in the eye, some instinct warning against it.

I am everything they fear, all curves and mounds encased in black, balanced comfortably in obscenely expensive shoes, and I did earn my promotion the old fashioned way. I purchased the right spell.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Last Supper

The restaurant hummed with conversation, clinking glass, the verse of a bayou anthem. Empty bottles testified to the heat of superb gumbo and need for distance from recent events.

Nate sopped up the last of the soup with earthy bread. “I don’t blame you for keeping it secret.”

“It seemed prudent. You hate witches. I can’t change what I am.”

“True. On both counts.”

“You had no problem with it when you needed my magic.”

“Not true.” He ordered whiskey. “So, this is our last drink.”

“Forever?”

He clinked my glass. “For now.”

Shots done, we went our separate ways.

______________

And so we come to end of Nate and Seth's story. This story, anyway. The boys are taking a well-earned rest. I suspect they'll come roaring back at some point, but probably not for a while. Even monster hunters need a vacation.

To all who have come on this journey with them, I thank you.

Bone Tired

By Colleen Foley

I came to with Marie kneeling over me, whispering a short verse in French, over and over again. I rolled to my side, coughing more blood, and saw Seth.

“My brother?”

“He wake soon. His mother protect him, give him a final gift. ‘Dis is over now. The blame is mine. I make it right as I can. You take him away from here. Go back to earthy things for a time. Eat, love…rest. You be needed again soon enough.”

Her touch on my face faded.

I sat in the gently falling rain and waited for Seth to wake up.

__________
Next

Friday, February 28, 2014

Full Circle

Like a marionette, I lurched toward Marie.

“Nothing I need from you, cher.” She waved her hand, cutting my strings. I fell, twisting in time to see Nate slam into the priest.

Screams overlaid music I knew well – a lullaby of childhood, a spell of protection. Free, my mother’s spirit tore through his, burning his essence in a final act of retribution.

Her ghost appeared, young and beautiful. “One last souvenir, bébé.” Icy kiss from insubstantial lips seared like fire. I slumped, gutter fallen, rain washed, a new mark throbbing just behind my ear.

Nate coughed blood, then was still.

___________
Next

Take Down

By Colleen Foley

Laveau’s words were music to my ears. Seth reached for the jar in my hand. Almost too late, I batted it away.

“No! Help her. I’ve got this.”

For once he actually listened. As I steeled myself, one mark flared. I howled in pain, launching myself forward. She dropped her hand, her power guttering, as I plowed into his chest, driving us both to the ground.

“Thanks for playing, douche bag. Here’s your souvenir.”

Grinning down at him, I shoved the bottle into his open mouth, slamming my other hand under his chin. Teeth and glass shattered onto his tongue.

____________
Next

Friday, February 21, 2014

Danse Macabre

The dead child gained no entry, the only tattoo for which I’d paid finally proving its worth. Frustrated, he reached for Nate. I reached for salt, and the boy dissolved with petulant cries. Other spirits approached. I could not dispatch them all.

Marie’s child thrashed in a vulgar parody of dance, beat set by throbbing bead. Madame Laveau had been crowned Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, and the queen judged her son unworthy.

I wondered if my mother, spirit loosed from glass, would find me wanting. Compelled, I lunged for the wretched jar, seeking salvation or damnation. Either would do.

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