Amwren Origins III: Aldis, Hunter of the Scarlet Pact

Happy Tuesday everybody!

Did you know that the Issus coleoptratus is the only known insect on the planet that has gear-like joints? They synchronize its joints for even jumps. Neat.

…yup. Don’t have much more of a cheeky intro than that, so let’s dive on in.

Today’s is another installment of the Amwren Origins series, introducing Aldis, this time. Perhaps the group’s most somber character – though certainly well within his reasons – I always liked him for the way he kept his compass straight, if that makes sense.

Oh! And bonus points if you can spot the homage to Kurt Vonnegut running through all these.

Anyway, may I present:

Aldis, Hunter of the Scarlet Pact

Aldis spent his younger years in the small, unremarkable town of Zylast. His childhood days were passed avoiding chores brought to him by his mother and father. Instead he chased the caravans that would come through on their way to Faraday or the bands of fighting hopefuls off to the desolate lands beyond Neven. As he watched, his mind would fill with dreams of his own adventures: the monsters he would slay, the duties he might perform, the women his tales would woo. Years of these thoughts aged him restlessly, and he grew eager to make them real. A few moons after his seventeenth birthday, he stole away into the night with naught but his clothes, the spear his grandfather had gifted him, and a farewell whispered to his sleeping sister, Talia.

The road to Stettin was straight and relatively safe, but stretched far. After weeks spent connecting with caravans headed in the same direction and foraging for what food he could not barter for, he crested a small hill to see the capital city’s walls on the horizon. Making camp, he new that defining days lay upon his near future.

Through the outer villages and eventually the towering city gates, he parted from the caravan with whom he’d arrived and sought out to earn his stay within the walls. The size of the walls, crowds, and deafening noise overwhelmed him at first, but he soon grew to quite like the buzz that the city offered. Knowing his goal, he searched for the city’s recruitment office and barracks of the capital guard. When he approached, he was laughed away by what soldiers were present and waved away by the attending officer. Sullen and dejected, but no less determined, Aldis found himself in the dark, unlit streets of the Stettin Warrens.

From his left, he heard a small clatter, and as he tensed, a figure leaped out at him from his right. A club struck him in the shoulder from the right and he felt the piercing pain of a dagger to his left thigh from his flanked side. Surprised and frantic, he thrashed with his arm and caught the knife-wielding figure on the chin with his elbow as the other man made for his head once more with the club. Aldis barely deflected the strike with the butt of his spear and spun around as he had practiced back home. Now facing his assailants, he was slowly backing away down the alley. They poised to attack again. Aldis turned and ran down a side alleyway.

Dodging under beams and leaping over refuse, he ran with his pursuers hotly behind him. His foot caught the edge of a hole in the cobbled road and he was sent into a tumble. On the ground, he turned around as the knife-wielding man leaped at him. Aldis closed his eyes and screamed, expecting to feel a sharp sting to the chest. What he felt instead was a warm spatter of viscous fluid across his cheeks. He opened his eyes to see the man with the knife, mouth agape, shocked, and slowly dying on the end of his upraised spear. As the man fell to the side, Aldis saw the other man standing in the street, looking on as his friend lay there dead. Slowly, he peddled back then turned to run away, apparently determined not to meet the same fate. Aldis breathed a sigh of relief that was cut short when he heard a voice not ten paces behind him.

“Well done,” it said, the speaker behind a veil of shadow.

“What do you want?” shouted Aldis, expecting more trouble.

“Me? Nothing. The question might be, though, what is it you’re looking for?”

“Listen, I don’t want anymore trouble here.” Aldis stood up and braced his spear. The man speaking to him was dressed in scale mail that shimmered against the moonlight, but his face remained hidden.

“That kind of attitude might mean you’re in the wrong part of town.” The man stepped forward so Aldis could now see him. He was tall and may have at one time been handsome, but had clearly seen years of conflict and weathered many adventures as his visage was now marred and rough. “But, you show promise. How’d you like to learn to use that thing?”

Aldis breathed slowly and, after several long moments’ silence, gave a soft nod.

Aldis’s first days at the Fighters’ Guild in Stettin were difficult, but justly rewarding. There, he worked hard under the tutelage of the man who’d found him, whose name, Aldis learned, was Hommin. He worked for his keep, scrubbing the dishes the fighters used, assisting the guild hall servants, working to maintain the guild members’ practice gear, and polishing the warriors’ weapons and armor. In return, he was taught the rudimentary lessons in movement, placement of one’s self in a fight, sizing up one’s opponent and analyzing them for weaknesses to exploit as well as strengths to be wary of. He learned to use his spear and weapons of its like, how to fit and dress one’s self in armor, and how to attend to wounds to some degree.

After some months spent in this manner, Hommin approached Aldis and told him to gather his things, saying that his days at the Guild were over. Hommin quieted his Aldis’s protests and as the young man was stepping out the door, his mentor caught him by the shoulder with a powerful hand.

“Where am I even supposed to go?” Aldis objected, fervently still.

“Go back to the recruitment office.”

“They wouldn’t take me!”
“They will now.” Hommin handed Aldis a rolled up piece of paper with the seal of twin swords across a rook tower, of the Stettin Fighters’ Guild.

Aldis walked the streets of Stettin, now on patrol for the city’s Honor Guard as an apprentice. He accompanied two pledged members and he felt a little out of sorts as his armor was brigandine under the light robes and the badge on his chest that marked a trainee, while the armor of pledged guards was a shimmering plate mail. They walked the streets, keeping order where it was needed, and as these days wore on, Aldis became quite accustomed to the unexpected as the matters of the job presented him with all manner of strange goings on – fights, brawls, drunks, occasional small riots, missing persons reports, even reported sightings of monsters and illegal wizards.

This experience could not steel him for the arrival of his sister, however, late one evening. He sat at a table in one of the Market District’s taverns that catered to the guard, The Bronze Toad, when she came through the door.

“Talia?” Aldis exclaimed, nearly covering himself in ale he coughed out his nose.

“Hello, brother.” Her voice was soft as heather and her smile was wide upon seeing her estranged sibling.

The two sat and spoke to the late hours over what he’d done since coming to the city, what their family had done in his absence, and, of course, what she was doing there.

“I’m pregnant,” she explained, “and soon to be married to Patryck. You remember him, from the Feishod farm? Ah, no matter at all. Anyway, I’m here with father to meet with an associate of mother’s to see about a wedding dress. Can you imagine? From a tailor!”

“Let me go with you! I’ll ask to make it a part of my patrol tomorrow. Not every day you come around, after all.”

“It might be. Patryck’s pursuing an apprenticeship under a master cobbler near here in Market Square. We’ll be close again.”

With that, each smiled and agreed to meet the next day at high sun in front of the shoemaker’s building.

“What do you mean, ‘nothing to be done’?” Aldis screamed. “We have to catch the fucking whoreson that did this! We have to find him and catch him! Kill him! We can’t let him get away with this!”

Aldis knelt beside the limp, mutilated body of his sister. It was the early morn, and her body was reportedly discovered not an hour ago. Dark dried blood ran from her still eyes and the corners of her mouth. There was a deep depression in her chest, a sign of a ritualistically removed heart, as well as dark tracks along her arms and neck which indicated she’d been subjected to chemical or magical paralytics. Most horrifically grotesque of all, though, was the viscera that ran from between her legs into the street. It was apparent to the examining officer present, as he would explain to Aldis and the other guards at the scene, that the goal of her attackers was the attainment of the unborn child she had carried; towards what purpose, he couldn’t say, but the work was indicative of skilled Blood Mages.

“So we do nothing?” Aldis exclaimed, standing. “This man or group of men are a menace and they have to be dealt with!”

“That’s not your call to make, boy,” reprimanded his accompanying guard.

“He’s right,” continued the officer. “Blood Mages are a dangerous ordeal, true, but from this it seems they’re targeting pregnant women, which is a far cry from a wide set crisis. Their target group is a small, temporary minority, and a harvest like this will keep them and their work busy for some months. It’s better that we not address this immediately while we have the time to do so.”

“We do nothing,” repeated Aldis solemnly.

“I’m afraid so.”

Aldis looked down once more at Talia and knelt beside her again. He looked to her neck and saw the opal necklace he’d given her when they were children. He’d found the stone at the bottom of a small river and thought of no better purpose for it. He’d almost drowned getting her that damned stone. He took it from her now and closed her eyes. With it, he turned his back and walked away.

“Where do you think you’re going?” called one of the guards.

“Let him go,” calmed the officer. “He’ll come back when he’s ready.”

Aldis would not return to Stettin’s walls. If those blind, pig-headed fools in the guard won’t do anything about an atrocity like that, he thought, then he would.

For months, Aldis traveled the countryside. He hunted names and chased rumors that had anything, even remotely, in line with the arcane nature of what had befallen his sister. One night, while in a tavern in the town of White Tower, he drank away his frustration as his most recent trail had gone cold. The doors to the establishment opened and a man walked in, dressed in robes of light lavender. The man approached Aldis and, without so much as a word, extended a hand offering a rolled piece of parchment with a seal that held an emblazoned ‘B’. While confused, Aldis cautiously accepted the parchment and the man, giving a warm smile, turned and left the building. The parchment sat on the table for a long moment before it was opened.

The note was addressed to Aldis personally by a man named Alistair, of the Order of Bokonon in Tallin. The parchment offered him details of his own recent life, from his training in Stettin to the murder of his sister, as well as his investigations since then. It warned of a matter of great importance coming to the world and his role to play in it. As a measure of good faith, the letter bore a name and promised it meaning in his search: Morvanna.

Without hesitation, the next morning, Aldis rose with the sun and traveled due west to the city of Tallin, the City of Temples.

FIN

The Take: Looking back on this one was cool, if strange. Since it was meant as a backstory for a D&D character, it was already pretty detail-rich for what it was. Given what he has happen, though, it would have been pretty well served in a longer form; especially the confrontation with the officer towards the end. The guard has a pretty calloused reasoning for handling the situation the way they are, and while they rationalize it, Aldis doesn’t accept it. Call it naive, call it moral or emotional, it’s a revenge story at its most classic.

See ya Thursday!

Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here (and tell ’em Evan sent ya!): 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PRN5ZQ1

Today’s FableFact source: 
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/this-insect-has-the-only-mechanical-gears-ever-found-in-nature-6480908/

Amwren Origins II: Cerlina, Voice of the Dawn

Sweet Tuesday evening to you, everybody!

Did you know that upwards of 150 wallabies roam the wild forests near Paris due to a jailbreak zoo-escape in the 70’s? Definitely in the running for most adorable jailbreak in history

Hopping straight into it, tonight’s tale is another of the Amwren Origins series. This one introduces Cerlina, a young half-elven girl, born into poverty and strife, but she holds her head high through it all and emerges as something…different.

Also, if you’re sensitive to foul language and racist attitudes…I mean, maybe just read over those parts.

(And in case you missed it, check out Revan’s origin story here:
https://thelightofday.blog/2019/04/30/amwren-origins-i-revan-of-the-crossroads/)

May I present:

Cerlina, Student of the Dawn

Born to an elven mother and a father unknown, Cerlina spent her early years enduring the cold gazes of man and elf alike. She and her mother, a woman fit of body but of waning mind, lived with Cerlina’s aunt, Maydene, in a communal living circle on the outskirts of the small town of Zylast. The circle was primarily composed of elderly women and their husbands who were, like Maydene, though a widow, practiced spinsters and herbalists. Cerlina’s childhood was but a glimpse as at age six, old enough to carry a pail, she worked tirelessly about the community, doing chores that the elderly could not and caring for her mother to the best of her ability.

This was the life she knew until her early teenage years when there came an unusually harsh winter. The cold air bit one’s skin, killed what few crops could manage the earth, and even hearth fires faltered, lashed by the chill. Inspired by the danger it proved to the old and frail, Cerlina made the march to Lomas, two day’s journey with a caravan, and appealed to the local baron. Despite his people’s stores of plenty, the man haughtily denied Cerlina’s call for aid and dismissed the poor peasant girl. That night, she found herself wandering the paved Lomas streets, kneading in her mind how she would word her disappointment to her aunt and her mother.

“Hey, half-breed!” she heard called out from a group of boys by the town’s central well. “Oi! You ‘ear me? I called to ya, ye prick-ear’d bitch!”

Resolute not to provoke any conflict or to make a scene, knowing Fenrici prejudices against elven kind, Cerlina quickened her pace. She soon heard several pairs of shoes smacking the ground behind her in pursuit and so she broke into full flight. She rounded a corner and squeezed down a tight alleyway, leaping over piles of refuse and sidestepping stray beams. She broke out the other side as footfalls echoed off the walls behind her. Making the mistake to look back, Cerlina’s breath escaped her as she was tackled from her blindside. From there, her memory of the clash was blurred.

The sound of approaching shoes.

The cold, stone street against her cheek.

The taste of blood in her mouth.

The next clear memory Cerlina had left her always with a strange blend of gnawing regret and anxious pride. She looked down after the frantic scramble at three boys laying in the street, bloodied and moaning, while two others fled so quickly the wind removed their hats and neither stopped to catch it. “Animal! Bloody she-devil!” they called behind them as they ran. Cerlina suppressed an embarrassed smile and looked back to the squirming bullies. The flash of a ring caught her eye and her pride turned to fear. She recognized the crest as the Halwin family sigil, the ruling family in Lomas. Fearing reprisal and punishment, Cerlina couldn’t wait until the morning caravan and instead set immediately to the dark night road alone, to Zylast. In two day’s time, she sat by the fire with her aunt and mother, relaying the news of the unhelpful baron.

“Well,” sighed Maydene after a long moment’s pause, “it may be time, if only too soon, to recognize what we must do.”

“I’m confused, Aunt May,” Cerlina said softly. “We already appealed in Lomas, the wood’s running out and our axe is broken. At this rate…”

“We won’t last the winter, I know, dear. We’ll be fine.” She smiled sweetly and looked into Cerlina’s eyes for a long moment before continuing. “What I was talking about was you. We planned this quite some time ago, but we wanted you to grow and, well, we still needed the help. But now is as good a time as any, and when opportunity knocks, you don’t turn her away. Those bruises you came home with are evidence enough that you’re ready.”

“I still don’t know what you’re-”

“We’re giving you to the temple of Idun, dear. Perhaps there, you might learn the healing arts, escape this life, and maybe one day…” Maydene’s voice trailed as her eyes moved to her sister sitting voicelessly by the fire. “Well, one day you might find us again and show us all what you’ve learned.”

Against her initial protests, Cerlina was taken to Tallin, the City of Temples. Once there, she was greeted by the head priestess with a knowing smile and quickly inducted into the order. Her beginning weeks were full of learning. She was set to rigorous study under the head priestess herself, Ana Salde, and in that time she spent long hours in the central cloister learning the basics in the proper use of herbs, natural remedies, and the rudimentary beginnings of spellcraft; though it was not to last.

After three weeks with the priestesses of Idun, Cerlina lay in her room, modestly furnished with only a small cot to sleep, a candlelit desk, and small stool, looking out her window at the passing clouds. Her wandering thoughts were interrupted by calls of commotion and protest from the cloister. She moved to investigate the sounds but was met by three armed men at her door as her feet touched the stone floor.

“Ah, there you are,” spoke the first, his comrades behind him holding back Cerlina’s classmates. “Took us a lil’ long to find you. Now,” he produced a scroll and read from it with mock elegance. “Under the authority of Lord Hammel Halwin his’self, Baron of Lomas, we’re to bring you in for the mistreatment of Lord Halwin’s firstborn heir, Ulfric Halwin.” The man rolled the scroll back up and smiled at her nastily. After a long moment’s pause, Cerlina quieted her peers and accompanied the soldiers with no more than a scornful frown.

Four years and untold lashings later, Cerlina sat in the corner of her cell. She was listening to the soft, familiar drip coming from a crack in her ceiling when she heard the clack of approaching boots. She slowly rose and stood up straight with her chin high. The years had been hard, but it had been a test for the resolve her aunt had taught her. “Don’t forget where you come from, child,” Aunt May had instructed. “People will scorn you, mock you, try to hurt you for your lineage. Never, never fall prey to their low thinking.” The jailer rattled his keys in search of the correct one and, upon finding it, opened the heavy door with the dull thud and grind of iron.

“Today’s your lucky day, little fairy. Free to go. Go’on, get out.”

Cerlina said nothing. Eyes closed, she emptied her lungs and then filled them with a strong breath before gracefully stepping forward and out of her cell. Her footsteps fell silently as she walked the hall toward the exit.

“What the…” muttered the jailer as he inspected the inside of the cell. What had been at one time a small, featureless, stone cell now had a bed of thick moss and was framed by a modest hanging gardens with bulbs in the beginning stages of bloom, all lush green despite there being no sunlight.

“Fucking elves.”

Cerlina sat in the shade of a grove on the outskirts of the city. She held in her lap the belongings she received upon leaving the prison, and among them was a package of letters. They were dated through the years of her stay. The first was a pardon from Lord Halwin for the “mistreatment” of his heir. She scoffed to herself and folded it behind the others. The rest were from her family in Zylast. In them, she read of her relatives’ lament for what had become of her, the close of the harsh winter which had taken her there, the success and failure of crops, various celebrations that had been held in town, as well as other general news.

As she read, kissed by the gentle southern breeze, Cerlina would smile, laugh at tales told by the page, until finally she came to the last letter, dated by eight months. It told of her once-widowed aunt remarrying a well-off man from a far away land whom her healing herbs had saved from sickness, stating his wishes that she and those close to her move with him to the city of Hallendren.

While she wished with all her heart the best for her aunt, Cerlina could not deny the pang of loss that she felt and of renewed loneliness, even now free from her cell. She made her way home to the community where she’d lived and toiled, finding her aunt’s now vacant cabin. Inspecting the outside of the cottage, it seemed everything was in place and as she remembered it.

“There were looters,” said one of her neighbors, a beanpole of a man whom Cerlina recognized as one of the younger husbands in the circle. “But we chased ’em off. We figured you was comin’ back some day and, well, wouldn’t feel right to let it happen. All you’s done for us, that is.”

“Thank you,” Cerlina replied sincerely, a soft smile adorning her lips.

The man bunched up his lips and offered an embarrassed nod before resuming his work.

She laid her hand on the door’s handle and left it there for a lingering moment before finally pulling it open. The inside of the cottage was not as she’d expected it. All the furniture and family possessions were as they were when she’d left, but beyond that, the cottage felt lived in, not abandoned. There was a fire in the hearth and she was surprised she hadn’t noticed smoke from the chimney. Her eyes eventually fell upon her mother’s chair and she gasped silently.

“You there,” she announced. “What are you doing here?”

The man stirred, as if from a gentle nap.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he yawned looking over his shoulder at her. “I had wished to be awake and ready to receive you but it appears I dosed off.”

“What are you doing in my home?” she repeated.

“Looking after her, of course.” He stood and now Cerlina saw that he was not a vagrant but some manner of priest, as indicated by his lavender robes. As she came slowly closer, she heard the scratching of dull claws on the wooden floor and she saw a large dog rising also to its feet. “She came here seeking shelter once your family had gone. I thought it only right to take care of her until you returned.”

“No, wait. How did you know I was coming back, or even gone, for that matter? Who are you?”

He smiled warmly. “I am from the Order of Bokonon, in Tallin. That is who I am and why I know you, Cerlina. I trust Ana prepared you properly, despite your time with those of Idun being short?”

“Are you why I was accepted?”

He gave a soft nod. “We did so because you’re needed, Cerlina.”

“Needed for what?”

“There is coming a time of great strife, a time you’re to play a role in guiding. Come to the Temple of Bokonon in a week’s time at dusk.” With that, he nodded and moved gently by her to the door. “Please, gather what you need and I hope to see you then.”

“Wait,” she called.

He stopped.

“What about your dog?”

“Her? She isn’t mine.”

“But,” Cerlina looked down to the dog who was looking back at her with large, gentle eyes. “Then who does she belong to?” she asked, but when she returned her gaze to the man in lavender, he was gone.

“Well,” she sighed to herself, looking to the dog again. “What do we call you, hmm?”

The dog cocked her head to Cerlina’s words and barked.

“What about ‘Alma’?”

She clacked her paws against the wooden floor and wagged her tail.

“Great! Alma it is, then.”

Cerlina and Alma spent one more night in the house they’d both known to call home and, rising with the morning sun, gathered what provisions they each might need. Together, they put step to path and journeyed out, returning to the City of Temples.

FIN

The Take: Much like Revan, I really like Cerlina. She’s born into a pretty crappy hand of cards, but uses what she’s given to the best of her ability, does what needs to be done, and doesn’t complain while enduring the world’s prejudices. Even though she’s treated unfairly, she doesn’t mire in that. She’s hardened, but she isn’t stern – a virtue I think resonates with a lot of us, because it’s such a difficult balance to strike: strong enough to steel against hardship, but not so jaded by that one’s guard never lowers.
Also like with Revan’s story, you might notice some similarities. They both start a little impoverished and they both also wind up speaking to a man in lavender robes – that’s a theme that will continue through the origin stories; albeit, in various forms and for various reasons.

Anyway, see ya Thursday!

Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here (and tell ’em Evan sent ya!): 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PRN5ZQ1

Today’s FableFact source:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11763787/Up-to-150-wallabies-living-wild-near-Paris-in-Rambouillet-forest.html

‘Hitchcock and Grayson’

Happy Thursday evening, all!

Did you know that a female turkey can, in the absence of any males, reproduce all on her own?

-snaps fingers “Don’t need no man” style-

That’s weirdly topical because of today’s story. It’s an excerpt from from a longer work that I wound up scrapping, but thought was really fun on its own. It might make a revival some day in one form or another, but the basic gist was about a kid sorcerer named Samson that ran a magical detective agency/law firm inside his own head called “Hitchcock and Grayson’s”.

The name came from a trip to Oakland my girlfriend I went on some years back. We went to the Morcom Rose Garden where we met a house cat with a little name tag that informed us his name was Grayson (the name tag, not the cat – though that would have been pretty cool too). As well as a (presumably wild) turkey that we named Hitchcock for the shape of its neck and jowls. Thus, ‘Hitchcock and Grayson’s’ was born! (In name, anyway.)

Without further adieu, may I present:

Virgin Mental – Hitchcock and Grayson’s

Phelp Harris stood outside a door in an alleyway as a clock somewhere struck midnight. He breathed out of his nose as he shivered and watched the cold turn his breath into wisps that danced in the air. Should be in and out in twenty, they’d said. Forty minutes ago, he’d believed the guy. Personal Protective Services usually meant a lot of standing around looking tough, but not in the freezing goddamn cold. This job was supposedly easy money, though. They didn’t expect any trouble, so They said, and just wanted some muscle with a background in brawling if the situation called for it. Maybe a shady pitch by a shady character, but for what They were paying him, Phelp felt it was easily worth it.

The soft clapping of footsteps sounded at the edge of the sidewalk by the alleyway. Phelp straightened his back and puffed out his chest as the sound came closer. Showtime, he thought. Standing in the bubble of bleak lighting offered by a single exposed light bulb, the approaching figure was smaller than he’d expected, silhouetted against the distant streetlight. “Hey, can I help you, kid? Doesn’t seem like the kinda place you ought’a be.”

Stepping into the pale light was a boy, no older than maybe twelve or thirteen with light, woody brown hair, hazel eyes that blinked more often than they should, and a space between his front teeth big enough to fit the right Lego piece if you tried. He was dressed in a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt under a puffy red vest, jeans with holes at the knees, shoes just a size or two too large for his feet, and a backpack. “Is Danny home?” he asked.

Phelp blinked his eyes in confusion. “Kid, I don’t think you heard me. You don’t belong here, understand? Now run along and find your parents, or something.”

“If they were around, you think I’d be in a back alley with some perv at midnight on a weekday?”

“What the? I ain’t no perv, kid,” said Phelp defensively.

“Just sayin’. You’re the grown up here with an unsupervised eleven year old. It’s the dead of night, no one knows where we are. Kind of fits the formula wouldn’t ya say, PedoBear?” The kid pulled out his phone and made a show of pretending to tweet about it.

Oh, a wise ass, huh? Time to turn this up a bit. “Listen kid,” Phelp said pulling back the flap of his jacket to reveal the handle of a 9mm Glock. “Like I said, you need to go. Ain’t the place for you.” Phelp gave a half guilty smirk at the kid’s startled reaction. It soon faded as the boy’s sobs became hiccups and then a full fit of the chuckles.
“Listen, Harris- can I call you Harris?” began the boy. “Whatever they’re paying you, I’ll double it.”

“Hang on a second, kid. How’d you know my name?”

“You’re wearing a name tag.”

“No I’m not.”
“Yeah, ya are.”

Phelp looked down and saw a ‘Hello, my name is’ sticker on his chest that he knew sure-as-shit wasn’t there a minute ago. “What the…?”

“You want some gum?” offered the kid, already chewing.

“What? No,” he said, inspecting the sticker with his name written on it. Looking at it more closely, he could smell it had been written with scented marker.

“Suit yourself.” The boy chewed for a moment and, after a look of eye-crossing focus, blew a gum bubble through the gap in his teeth. “So, what d’you say? Wanna make some money?”

“Look, kid,” Phelp said, discarding the sticker. “You really gotta get outta here. Not safe for you. You don’t go, I’m gonna have to make you.”

“Ooo-hoo-hoo!” sang the boy. He did a little dance in place pretending as if he was scared.

Strike two, you little prick, thought Phelp.

“You seriously don’t want to take the bribe? I thought bribes were like, like hotcakes to bouncers n’ hired goons. Seriously, I can pay.” The boy reached into a pocket in his vest and produced a roll of bills which he undid and counted out eight hundred dollars.

Phelp stood in place with eyes wide as the youngster handed him the money.

“Who the hell are you, kid?”

The boy smiled coyly and said, “Your worst nightmare.”

Before Phelp could react, there was a bright, silent explosion of color. A massive rainbow of light spouted forth from the kid’s open palm like a snow making machine, enveloping the surprised bodyguard. When the effect ended and the lonely bulb resumed its monopoly on light supply in the alley, Phelp was left dazed and stupid on the ground beside the door, froth dripping from the corner of his mouth. The kid blew another bubble through his teeth and wore a proud smile.

He stepped over the crumpled body that was Phelp and tried the knob on the, frankly, shack door to the building. It was locked. The boy gave a short huff before laughing to himself with an inspired tap to his noggin. He bent over and closely scrutinized the door’s surface. He reached out and gave it a light flick of his finger. The face of the solid door rippled like the disturbed surface of a still pond. The boy looked down at Phelp before stepping through.

“Oh, or just Samson for short.” And with a wink, a name tag appeared on the front of his vest before he disappeared through the once solid door.

FIN

The Take: This one was really fun. I think it was one of the first little doo-dad’s I wrote where I got to use magic. It was a bit of a hump getting over those jitters and realizing it was sort of okay to say something happened “because magic”. Anyway, edited a little bit because the sentences were, upon review, pretty damn run-on-y, but I left in the dumb PedoBear joke that I still think is pretty cringey. Overall, it was a fun little scene to put together with magic, character, n’ goofs.

Anyway, happy Thursday and I’ll see ya next week. Ciao, for now.

Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here: 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PRN5ZQ1

Today’s FableFact source:
https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/wikispeedia/wpcd/wp/t/Turkey_%2528bird%2529.htm