Friday, June 26, 2009

Saturday (Very Early) Morning Breakfast Serial

Ah, insomnia. But there you go. You know the drill. Bowl? Milk? Okay.

I opened a seam into the first-floor bathroom of Cassandra's house. Strange? Not really. It was the one place I was pretty sure wouldn't be affected by a pitched battle. I could seam in there and not be in the way.

I appeared in the middle of the ancient-claw foot tub, and almost fell on my ass. The house was shaking. Not just a little either. We're talking major tremors, resulting from explosions.

Oh shit.

I could smell smoke, even feel heat rising up through the floor as I ran. I could feel Cassandra's pain. I don't know how. But it hurt, making me stumble as I made my way to the staircase leading down to the lab.

As I steadied myself against the stairwell wall I realised, I still had the Ladysmith in my hand. It was loaded, but the safety was on. I remedied that, and continued downward, moving as quickly and quietly as I could. Not that anyone was liable to hear me over the sounds of battle and Cassandra's screams of pain and defiance. Still, I was hoping for some semblance of surprise.

I should've known better.

After all. Tracker had tied himself to the shields. He'd have felt me coming. I was two steps from the bottom when he turned to me with a cold, hard, smile on a face that both was, and wasn't as familiar as my own.

"Well, well, you're finally here. Hoping to save the day?"

I didn't answer. I couldn't. It was one thing to have Cassandra say we were betrayed. It was another to see, with my own eyes, that Tracker was the betrayer. Tracker, my best friend. It didn't make sense. I felt a wave of pain that had nothing to do with Cassandra's injuries, or my own exhaustion. It was purely emotional. I fought not to let it show, and failed.

He laughed. "I guess I played my part well then. I'm the last person you would've expected to betray you." With insulting casualness, he threw a blast of magical energy at me. I got out of the way in time, moving behind a ruined counter for cover, steadying the gun to take aim.

"Still no magic? Then they interrupted in time. Too bad for you."

He lobbed a ball of energy up so that it hit the countertop, spreading like magical napalm, over the formica, down the sides of the cabinets. Everywhere it went, it burned white hot, like magnesium. The light from it was bright enough to make my eyes water, or maybe that was the smoke, because smoke was filling the basement making my breath burn in my lungs. Through watering eyes I saw Cassandra's form, crumpled on the ground in the center of her summoning circle. Not far from her was a large, still smoldering corpse that had once been Lucy.

A tidal wave of rage surged through me. With a roar of defiance, using a two-handed grip, I began firing the gun. Steady, measured shots. Of course he was shielded against them. That wasn't the point. He thought I didn't have offensive magic; thought the gun was my only weapon. When the last shot was fired, he'd let his guard down. When he did, I was going to kill him.

I pulled the trigger that last time; saw the concentric rings of light and shadow as the bullet impacted his shield an instant before he dropped it entirely. Gathering my will and my power, I prepared, and threw, my best magical punch at him.

But in the instant I released the power I felt something else. A seam was opening, the shields had crumbled enough that someone was coming through. Whether it was a friend or enemy I had no clue. I turned, readying myself. But so did Tracker, and my blow, which would have killed him had it hit full on, only clipped him, setting his right side on fire, sending him into a staggering spin as he screamed hideously. I saw Buford step through the seam, Eleanor's limp form in his arms, his body interposed between me and his son. I shouted for him to get down, but he simply stood there, in dumbstruck horror. And before I could move around him, before I could do anything, I felt another seam and knew that Tracker was gone.

# # #

Helena and Evan were dead, the church burned to the ground around them. Lucy was dead; Eleanor and Cassandra gravely enough injured that they will never fully recover. I didn't chase Tracker. It was more important that I get the wards and shields back up around the house and its contents. And it was more important to me that I save my friends lives if I could.

The battle was over. Not the war. He'd be back.

And I'd be ready.



Tammy said...


Excellent story - thank you for telling it to us.

Dolly said...

Please tell me you're gonna have a second season. Love the story and really enjoy my Saturday mornings with you and the posse. Hope the writing is going well.

C. T. Adams said...

Thanks guys!

This particular story *Run* is over. I may come back and visit Sahara and the others later. We'll see. But for now, the entire thing will be pulled together, edited lightly, and put on the new website (an actual professional is working on the site as we speak) on either the "Freebies" page or my subpage, depending on how it gets organized. I may take a week off. (Or not, depending on how the book is going). But starting Saturday (either this or the next) it'll be a new story that I'll make up as I go along, just like I did this one.

You may feel free to make suggestions as to humor, mystery, or another urban fantasy/paranormal. I'm willing to listen. I may not FOLLOW them, if I don't get enough mojo behind it to make it work, but I will definitely listen.