Coyote

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

Danny stood in the doorway to his room and stared at the spirit sitting on his beanbag chair like he owned the place. The boy slammed the door and turned around, stalking into the kitchen.

“Mom, Coyote’s back.”

Danny’s mother turned away from the sink, and from the two bird spirits having an angry conversation on the counter.

“Oh, he is, is he? And what did he have to say?”

The boy scuffed his foot on the floor and then sighed.

“I dunno, I slammed the door.”

The look on his mother’s face was one of abject horror.

“Come on, time to run damage control.”


She strode to his room and pulled the door open, not at all surprised to see Coyote lounging on the beanbag chair with the Xbox controller between his paws.

“S’up.”

“Hello, Coyote. Did you have a particular request or are you just here to play?”

“Well, I was hoooooping that Danny here could help me out with something.”

She turned to her scowling son and grinned wickedly.

“Have fun and try not to get arrested this time.”

Recruiter

There are two kinds of ghosts in the world. It’s a fact I know as well as I know my own name, and a fact I know far better than the hallways of the old house I was trudging through. Somewhere in here there was a prospective student for Sycamore Hill Academy, but only if I got to her before they did. And as usual, the darker side of things had a head start on me.

The briefings for prospective student meetups are surprisingly well-prepared, all things considered. Most of our incoming students don’t exactly have the most thorough records. I had a short file on the girl. Seven years old, name Sara or Sarah, likely to hide from strangers but she likes dolls.

The stairwell ahead was dark but I could hear small feet running on the next floor up. She had to be running from something. Picking up my pace, I barrelled up the stairs and fished blindly in my bag for one of the pre-made sachets. If what I thought was here was up there, I would need it. When I reached the top of the stairs, I turned and darted into the hallway. It was like my sense left me. Something caught me in the shins and I fell forward, arms pinwheeling madly while the floor came rushing up to meet me.

I must have hit my head because the next thing I knew, a teenager had a hand over my mouth and was examining the cloth ball I’d held. Looking him over, I frowned, trying to place what seemed off. Then I had it.

“You’re not dead.”

“And thanks to me, neither are you.” He crouched by my head, staring down at me with brown eyes that oddly reminded me of dark citrines. “What are you doing here?”

“Doesn’t matter. What are you doing here?”

He smiled slowly.

“I live here.”

That set me back on my heels and I reexamined him.

“Okay, let’s try this again. I’m a recruiter and I’m looking for the little girl. Do you know where I can find her?”

He stood and offered me a hand up.

“Yeah, but you’re going to have to convince me first. I take care of her.”

Urban Magic

Mason tossed the empty can of spray paint into the trash and turned to gaze at his masterpiece. The sigils were woven into the mural so carefully he doubted anyone would see them, but they would be charged by every kid who came out to this park to play and in turn, the sigils would keep the kids safe. He’d been seeing some of them starting to experiment with magic which was all well and good, but some few of those kids might start finding the darker stuff and he wanted to keep them safe for as long as he could. Pulling up his hood, he stepped away from the wall and started the long walk home. A few kids were already arriving after school, happily yelling the rhyming spells all children seemed to learn. An old woman sat on a park bench feeding the pigeons and quietly exchanging gossip with them. The birds went everywhere and they certainly had the best gossip in the whole city. He hopped onto the 131 bus headed towards his apartment. The whole city was humming under his feet when he stepped back out onto the sidewalk and turned the corner towards his building. There would be a thunderstorm later. Definitely a good day to put some jars on the roof to catch water. And he could recharge those crystals he’d borrowed from Amily. Perfect. Mason smiled to himself as he drew a circle on the doorknob with one finger to unlock it. He had a lot of things to do before Amily got home.