“Alright, you bloody wanker, we need to have words.”
The teenage specter stood with his arms crossed over his chest and glared at the old man who had just moved in with the small family. The old man turned slowly, his eyes hollow pits.
“I don’t need to talk to you, boy. They’re my family, not yours.”
“And it’s my house, Gramps. So we need to set up some boundaries or something.”
The boy took a step towards the old man, his gaunt face turning more skeletal than ever. The old man just laughed and dropped down through the floor.
“I told you, boy. I don’t have to talk to you.”
It was my first job out of law school, working as an intern at a Pro Bono law office in the city. The place was run by two women. The first, my direct boss, was pretty much the poster child for female fire iron. She was the kind of woman who thinks nothing of staring down a judge and telling them that they’re wrong about a point of law. If you look up ‘she-demon’ in the dictionary, she’ll be there smiling out at you in a pantsuit and sensible flats. Her partner wasn’t exactly like her. She won every case she ever saw, but she also showed up late a lot of days wearing a tracksuit and carrying a gym bag.
It was your average Tuesday, which meant new cases coming our way and I got to deal with the clients in the waiting area. Make coffee, translate what Mrs. Gonzalvez was saying about her landlord, try to pretend I didn’t know the meanings for some of those words because those should not ever be written in anything official. Stuff like that. That was the day that the young man walked in. He was thin and pale, his clothing ill-fitting and his hair roughly cut like he’d done it himself. When he spoke, his voice was higher than I’d expected and light.
“Excuse me, but…can you help me file…something? I don’t know what I need. I just need to get away from my parents and keep them away.”
And my boss was there before I could call her, gray eyes flashing and her stance like she was ready to put a spear clean through someone.
“I’m sure we can help you.” She glanced at me. “A pot of coffee and order a pizza. Feta, olive.”
“Of course, Ma’am.”
Her partner was talking to the woman in the corner with the two toddlers and the black eye. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but that wasn’t important right now. I placed the order with the pizza place on the corner and they said they’d bring it as soon as it was ready. I heard my name called and stepped into the back deposition room.
“Yes, Ma’am? Did you need something?”
The young man was sitting at the table, tears of relief on his face as my boss presented him with papers and options and plans.
“How’s the coffee?”
“Coming right up.”
“Good. Can you also pull an official change of name form and…” She paused, thinking. “And call my sister and see if she needs an extra counselor at the camp of hers.”
There was something about that office. It wasn’t just that we tried to help people, or that my bosses always won their cases. It was like the women who walked through the door left stronger no matter what. Like they had a glow of confidence about them.
Octavia screamed, hurling curses in Latin at whoever it was who had grabbed her. He, it had to be a man with hands that large, tried to cover her mouth and she bit him as hard as she could. Then she slammed her head back into his face.
“Grab her, you idiot.”
Another set of hands grabbed her as her first attacker dropped. This time they were smart and more than one of them grabbed her, keeping themselves at a safe distance. Another man, one she recognized as disliking her presence in their village, came up in front of her and punched her in the gut as hard as he could. Her stomach lurched when she saw him pulling his fist back to do it again. But the blow never came. Instead, the man crumpled in a heap revealing Breccan standing behind him, casually spinning a staff.
“Let her go. Now.”
Octavia fell to her knees as they let her go and ran. When she looked up again, the sun was behind Breccan and he stood holding the staff in one hand with a raven on his shoulder. A shiver ran up her spine looking up at him and for a moment, she wondered if she’d been struck harder than she’d thought. But he really did look like a god in that moment, come down off his pedestal just for her. He knelt, gently wiping the blood from her lips.
“Are you alright?”
“I am now.”
He smiled and for a moment he lingered there, so close and yet so far. Then she reached out to put her arms around his neck and it was as though something in him broke. His lips crashed into hers. For half a second, she froze. She could feel him starting to pull back and clung to him, returning the kiss with an urgency she hadn’t known she had in her.
“But, of course, marching into the city as a soldier meant that Caesar wouldn’t be able to become Consul. So, he had a decision to make: whether to lay down his arms and grab the consulship or walk in as an Imperator and receive a Triumph.”
Professor Marianne Wright paced at the front of her class in a pair of cargo pants and a gray t-shirt with a latin phrase across the front in crimson. She was a fairly young woman, though she’d been teaching at this university for the past five years. For the most part, her students were paying attention to her lecture as she flipped through slides and talked about Roman history. Or at least they were until the doors opened to reveal a tall man in a no-nonsense suit with a pair of aviator sunglasses on.
“Excuse me, Professor Wright?”
She looked up, arms crossed over her chest.
“Yes, that’s me. But I’m in the middle of a class, so I’m going to have to-”
“I’m Special Agent Decker, Homeland Security. You need to come with me.” Then he looked around the room. “Class dismissed.”
“You…you can’t just…”
She sputtered and stammered, stalking towards him up the aisle. He showed her a badge, a frown on his face.
“I can and I have, Ma’am. Now, I need you to come with me. It’s a matter of national security.”
Marianne fidgeted with the security badge they’d given her and followed Special Agent Decker through the barricades that were up all around the Lincoln Memorial. She’d been wracking her brain the entire way there, trying to figure out what use they could possibly have for a Latin professor and history nerd. Or at least she had been until she saw the agitated man pacing back and forth before the seated statue of Lincoln.
“Miles, rogo iterum, ubi est sacerdos huius templi?”
She froze then, blinking. The first thing she really processed was that this man was wearing sandals. Only after that did she take in the tunic with the traveling cloak thrown over it, and the metal helmet with wings sprouting from either side. He was speaking to a very confused man in National Guard uniform who was plainly in over his head.
Special Agent Decker stood beside her, nodding slowly.
“He’s speaking Latin and he’s dressed like an extra in a gladiator flick. That’s what we need you for, Professor Wright. Figure out if this guy’s some kind of wacko or if he’s something we actually need to worry about.”
She pivoted in place, glaring up at the special agent.
“First off, he’s dressed like Mercury, the messenger of Olympus. Note the winged helmet. Second off, he just asked that soldier where the priests are. He thinks this is a temple.” She looked pointedly up at the doric columns that held the roof of the memorial up. “I can see his point.”
She paused for a brief moment and then looked up at Decker again.
“Can I go talk to him? Is that alright?”
Decker took his sunglasses off, cleaning the lenses on his shirt.
“Go ahead. If he makes any funny moves, we’ll make sure you get out.”
“Well, thanks for that…” she grumbled as she strode towards this strange man, trying to decide which term of address would be the best choice.
Imagine getting a phone call at 12:01am on your 18th birthday from the older brother you haven’t seen in 4 years telling you to meet him at the diner down the street when it opens at dawn. I didn’t know what to say, so I went. The sun was just barely coming up over the horizon when I was standing on the sidewalk with a jacket pulled tight around me. My hands were in my pockets and I kept pulling my phone out to check the time. He’d be here soon.
I nearly jumped out of my skin, whirling around.
He looked just like I remembered with his varsity jacket and his jeans. He had a little bit of scruff that was new, and he was wearing sunglasses.
His hands were in his pocket and he was reluctant to speak.
“Danny, where the hell have you been? Mom thought you were dead.”
“I couldn’t help it.” He took a breath. “I was hoping I could protect you from this, save you. That maybe if I could just stay alive until past your birthday…that maybe you would never even have to know.” He hung his head. “But I was wrong.”
My head was spinning now. Stay alive? Protect me?
“What’s going on, Danny?”
“It’s your turn, Trisha, to keep our family secret.”
Before I could do anything, or say anything, he grabbed my arm. It burned like a hot poker and I screamed. I screamed until my voice was hoarse, until the pain overwhelmed my other senses. When I woke up, I was on the ground and my brother was gone.
My name is Trisha Helwyr. I was going to go to college this fall. I never went. As far as everyone I used to call friends knows, I’m dead. I’m different than I was then. My eyes used to be green. I’m a lot stronger than I used to be. Faster too. I have to be. There are things in the night that need to be hunted, to protect humanity. My family has lived for centuries with one mission: hunt that which hunts humans.
They sang of an island
in the midst of a bonny lake
with herons and berries
and reddest stolen cherries
And they came to me
where I sat to play
while brown mice ran about
in my parent’s cottage home
Papa in his smithy
and Mama at her stove
when Faerie folk came to play
and promised wonder and joy
They told me of the human world
and how its full of sorrow
But that with them I could live forever
And play in the sun all day
They promise Mama won’t miss me
and Papa won’t weep
They say their home is full of toys
and other little boys
Come away, o human child
that is their call
and I wonder at their message
And the sorrow of the world
And so I chose to go
and forsake my human home
Leave behind Mama and Papa both
With a Faerie hand in hand
A bonny lad of three am I
and forever will I be
To play in sunlit woods
and heather filled dales
Centuries gone are my family
But I remember them not
Save the tang of iron in Papa’s forge
and the smell of soup on Mama’s stove
Halloween is nearly upon us. As such, the Board would like to remind everyone of our time-honored traditions. As usual, the trick-or-treating hours will begin at exactly 6pm and will end at 9pm. We will also be hosting a pumpkin decorating contest on the Town Common at 7pm. All children from ages 1 to 16 are expected to wear the official costume. This year’s costume is a Ghost. You can purchase the town approved costume at any of our town’s fine retail establishments. Please remember to return home with exactly as many children as you left with. Anyone caught with extra children will lose their parental rights for the year. Those children will be placed in other homes. Don’t leave unwanted children on the Common. We don’t want to have a repeat of last year. If you would like to volunteer to stay late for any children who are not taken, please contact the secretary to the Board. If you would like to keep your current child or children, be sure to keep a firm hold on them throughout the evening. Otherwise, they are considered available for trade. Be sure that all children are wearing their health advisory wristbands so their new parents are made aware of any medical conditions or allergies they may have.