By Greg Bullard
Welcome to part seven of the nine part fiction series “Immortal Blues” by Greg Bullard. Aine Marina hangs around long enough to create more questions than answered and again, shots are fired. If you need to catch up, here is Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.
I stared into those deep brown eyes, alit with foreign thought, and in that instant, my memory betrayed me by dragging me backwards through time to a small hill, a green meadow and a beautiful girl so many centuries ago.
I was a conqueror, grown weary of battle. The scent of blood and flash of metal death no longer sustained me. Instead, I hunted true emotion, raw feelings, first pleasure, final pain and more. I was a skilled hunter.
The hunt had brought me to that hillside, where my lips stalked the flesh of the human woman who would ascend to be Queen of the Fey. She shuddered beneath my touch and trembled at the slightest brush of my fingertips on her blushing skin. Amidst that knee-high grass and the warm caress of the spring sun, I achieved my greatest conquest to date, drinking deep of the love-spilled tears of a once-virgin princess.
As clear as yesterday, I remember the passion aflame in those emerald eyes, framed once in alabaster skin and again in a fan of loose, red curls, spilled out around her on the hillside. I snapped back to the brown eyes before me, framed once in olive skin and again in long, straight hair of the deepest black. Impossibly, yet actually, they were the same eyes.
“It has been far too long, Your Majesty,” I inclined my head to her, politely, yet without a trace of subservience. “I admit, I had not expected you, but I am pleased none the less that you are here. Will you allow me to show you about the city? It’s a marvel of human creation.”
Marisela blinked once, doubt spread quickly across her features and was, itself, chased out by fear before she collapsed in front of me. I caught her inches before her head struck the hardwood floor.
Cradling her in my arms, I brushed the hair from her forehead and passed my senses over her. She was uninjured, but asleep in a fullness of depth and peace from which she would not soon awaken. The alien presence was gone, and along with it any sense of my own confidence that I somehow controlled this situation.
I stood with Marisela draped in my arms and looked questioningly at Isabella.
“Place her on her bed,” Isabella coughed, clutching at her cane she steadied herself. “Then you must leave.”
I was ten blocks from the Crone’s house, flitting from shadow to shadow, when the tidal wave of questions that I should have asked, came, unbidden. Why did you say you were sorry? Why must I leave? Did you know Aine Marina was coming? Why weren’t you more surprised?
I started to double back, but I’d made good progress towards home and it was late. Still, the state of events was confusing and frustrating. Over and over, I kept asking myself, had I just been played? If so, how long was the setup?
The trip home was nerve wracking. I had to double check each street and alley to insure I wasn’t observed, and no matter how clear it looked, I kept seeing movement in the shadows, but I knew no one was there. I kept telling myself I was just being extra careful. My little ink spot of darkness, absent the moon, stood out all too easily on the big city streets.
Finally, I made it safely across the Manhattan Bridge, and then down to the streets below. Walking in the shadows of the bridge, no longer quite so concerned with the moon, I let my guard down a bit. That’s when I was spotted.
Two drunks stumbled out of the backdoor of a dingy tavern, right into my path. I stepped around them, still mostly lost in my thoughts when I realized that one of them had spoken to me.
“Yous dere,” he slurred in the drunken, thick Italian-American accent of a Brooklyn native, “Yous gots some cash for me and my buddy ‘ere? Eh? We’re busted.”
I shrugged, shook my head and continued walking – and maybe offered up a few choice words about his state of employment and drunkenness. I then went back to ignoring the fool and his friend. That’s when, for the second time in a few days, I heard the unmistakable click of a hammer being drawn back on a gun.
I wheeled and fired my most menacing glare at him. Normally that does the trick, but I think he might have been too drunk to care or notice. He swayed back and forth, barely maintaining his feet, while the blued steel barrel of his snub nose .38 wavered back and forth, pointing in my general direction.
“Careful friend,” I said, again in my most menacing tone, “it’s been a bad week already and you’re quickly getting on the wrong side of me.”
“Di’ja hear that Antony? We’re on ‘is bad side,” he blinked, steadied himself a bit and tried to make an effort to aim the gun at me. “You knows what? You’re on our bad side too,” he added, “what says yous empty yah pockets and see about getting on our good side. Eh?”
Fed up, I blinked and flicked my hand in his direction, shifting reality slightly in the process – at least, that’s what was supposed to have happened. His eyes went wide at my gesture. There was a moment of panic on his features and then fire blossomed from the end of the gun.
The world never slowed down around me. Time didn’t flow like cold molasses from a full jug. The end of the barrel flashed with fire, and then the hammer of the gods slammed into my chest.
I crumbled to the ground, dropped in my tracks and the breath exploded from my mouth in one great gasp. I was left writhing amidst the trash and filth of the city’s worst streets, and I was scared. Something was very, very wrong.
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.