By Greg Bullard
Dodging quickly to the right, I aborted my charge, narrowly avoiding the extended claws of the multi-armed behemoth.
The demon, snarling with rage, wheeled his massive form, dug into the concrete floor with clawed feet and hands, adjusted his momentum with shocking ease and leapt straight for me.
Like a matador at his finest, I danced adroitly to the side, exposing the subway’s third rail directly behind where I had been standing, right in the path of the airborne fiend. I waited for the smoke, the sparks and the heady aroma of charred demon flesh.
You can imagine my irritation when he landed on the rail and nothing happened. I can only guess that my scream – excuse me, my battle cry – had damaged more than just the lights. Whatever it was, there was no juice to make the demon do the subway shuffle.
This also didn’t leave me in the best of positions. I sprung backwards, but still felt the sharp impact of razored claws sliding across my ribs.
Thankfully I had suppressed my usual overconfidence long enough to take a few precautions. I took the time last night to dig a little something out of my closet – you know, just for those special occasions when people shoot me or demons claw me.
The long talons raking down the mesh rings of my True Silver surcoat bruised a rib or two, but I didn’t want to think about what would happen if it were still in my closet.
Using the momentum imparted by the demon’s blow, I rolled backward, coming to my feet in one smooth motion. Extending myself while the demon readjusted, my left sword dug a furrow into the creatures back, a long, straight gash of smoking, ruined flesh.
Rinse and repeat and you have a breakdown of how the next five minutes went. The demon was massive, quick and fierce. His saliva was caustic, his blood poisonous, his claws razor sharp, and for all that, he never really had a chance.
When all was said and done though, I knew I’d been in a fight. I was bruised, disheveled and soaked with sweat. My breath was coming in great, ragged gasps. For a moment I just stood there, staring at the torn, scattered remnants of the demon.
Knowing I had to get out of here, I knelt, and cut a few choice items from the demon, things he wouldn’t miss. Stuffing those away in a pocket, I felt fatigue setting into my muscles. My hands were beginning to tremble as I bent over my small pouch of True Silver, whispering words quietly in an ancient language.
A warm, gentle heat spread in the palm of my hand as my prayers to Dana took effect. A soft glow rose from the opening of the pouch. I wept a little at the cost of so much True Silver, but I didn’t see a choice. It’s not like alligator-in-the-sewer can be used to explain shredded, flayed demon body in the subway.
Sighing, I sprinkled the contents of the pouch on the lifeless body. Where the imbued True Silver dust touched the demon’s flesh, it flashed white with flame and shriveled to ash.
Seconds later, the stench of the demon was replaced with acrid clouds of smoke. The once blood-spattered walkways were black with soot and ash. Officially, after a short investigation, they would call it an electrical short, caused by a ruptured piece of steam pipe falling on the main line. Unofficially, they would try not to think about it too hard.
I looked wistfully at the corridor down which my mysterious blues man had disappeared. That trail was long since cold. Shouldering my way deeper into the tattered remnants of my long coat and the shadows that hung, clinging to my form, I made my way through the tunnels under the city to the subway entrance nearest my place.
An hour later, I was showered, changed and felt a helluva lot better. I took a few minutes to store some goodies around my person. Who knew what would happen next? Also, I refilled the pouch of True Silver dust from my dwindling, private stash. I’d have to see about refilling it, which wouldn’t be easy.
For a long twenty-count I stared at the complex lunar calendar on my wall. It showed a few things that weren’t on your typical lunar calendar, which is probably why it covered the whole wall. As I pondered it, an itch in the back of my mind was telling me that I shouldn’t even be thinking for a second about going out tonight. So of course, I was thinking about going out tonight – damn the full moon.
Dana and I are on good terms, as evidenced by the fact that she still answers my prayers. The same can’t be said for all of the gods and goddesses. Aine Marina, for instance, has it out for me. It’s a long story, but let’s just say she doesn’t like being tricked into giving up the goods. I say she had a fine time that night and should let bygones be, but she feels differently.
Whatever, the end result is, the light of the full moon won’t touch me. I’m used to the shadows and to a life in the shadows, but that’s not the same as walking along in a little black spot on a bright night – that kind of stands out, and all my best efforts to mask or hide that shadow are useless. Usually it means that for a few nights a month I catch up on my reading while she gets her petulant little kicks. Tonight it was going to be a pain in my ass, but what can you do?
I needed to talk to the Crone again. Touching the pocket of my long coat, I could feel the gnarled claws of the demon. That should be all she’d need to give me some real answers.
About Greg Bullard:
Greg currently resides in Austin, TX, trying to do his part to Keep Austin Weird. While his wife, Julia, and daughter, Emily, both work hard to keep him on his toes, it is Julia’s red editing pen that does the most work. When he is not muddling his way through some fiction, he usually writes about What Greg Eats.
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