Happy New Year!
To celebrate, here is a snippet of that urban fantasy world I’ve been going on about. There’s some expository text that I cut from it (such as what Scott actually is, which should be evident from the title), which I’m probably going to add in later (if not in a revised chapter one, then in chapter two) and I still haven’t introduced most of the characters, but you can read it anyways. Enjoy! As usual, mind the spelling and grammatical errors.
The morning sun slanted through the bedroom window. It was a hot summer day, so the light came early and stayed late, the perfect day to sit outside, sip lemonade, and watch the world go by, the kind of day when nothing exciting happens.
Unless you live in my apartment complex, known colloquially as ‘Oddball Corner’, then a day where nothing exciting happens is probably due to divine intervention.
I glanced over at the other side of the bed. Empty, no surprise there, Dave would probably be patrolling right now, or maybe he was stuck behind a desk today, doing paperwork and hating every minute of it. He was the kind of person who felt as if he could do more good in the field, always a man of action.
Pencil-pushing, now that was my specialty.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed, stood, and stretched before sliding my feet into slippers and heading to the bathroom. A hot shower did wonders for one’s wakefulness. I always took a hot shower, even in summer, just one of my many quirks, the momentary discomfort I always feel as the water hits my body reminds me that I’m alive, despite everything that’s happened, I’m alive, I persevere.
“Pretty good for a man wanted by the government,” I say to the mirror after stepping out of the shower’s warm embrace.
Not a moment after I dried myself off, someone knocked on the door, two sharp raps. There’s only one person in my section with a knock like that, and they aren’t the type to wait as the person on the other side of the door struggles to clothe themselves.
I wrapped a towel around myself and headed to the door, yanking it open.
“Good morning, Scotty-boy,” a scent washed over me, a mixture of lemons and burning wood. The person standing before my threshold was blond and blue-eyed, possessing the androgynous beauty of a Botticelli painting, or perhaps something by one of the Pre-Raphaelites, except when he smiled, then he reminded me of a shark.
He was smiling now, that didn’t bode well.
“Good morning, Rofocale,” I said, not bothering to hide my irritation. “Why are you darkening my threshold today?”
The smile never wavered. “Oh, Scotty-boy, always straight to business, hm? Don’t look so annoyed, you are too underdressed for that.” He glanced pointedly at my towel, and I fought the urge to turn away from him. There was something about his gaze, about the way his eyes glittered, as if he could see through it, maybe he could.
Rofocale didn’t seem to notice my discomfort, of, if he did, he chose to ignore it. “As a matter of fact, I have a proposition for you,” he continued, and his smile became something much less predatory and far more genuine. “May I come in?”
I hesitated. One does not simply invite someone like Rofocale into one’s home, but the alternative was talking shop in the hallway, and it would have sent a message that I was afraid of my visitor.
“You know the deal,” I told him.
Rofocale sighed. “After all these years, Scotty-boy, your lack of trust in me is quite…disheartening,” but he held up a hand, and began to recite the words of a binding oath. “I do so swear, by my True Name, that I will do no harm to you or yours, nor destroy any of your property, for the duration of this visit.”
It was not a truly binding Oath, for that, I would need his True Name, and it was practically impossible to force any of Rofocale’s species to give up that precious tidbit of information. If I had had time, I probably could have extracted more exacting conditions, as they were always on the lookout to twist your words to their advantage.
Just one of the many hazards of dealing with demons.
I sighed, but held the door open for him to enter. He swept past me, lemon-and-campfire scent in his wake, and perched on my black leather sofa, glancing at me expectantly.
It was just like a demon to act as if they owned the place. Demons were classified as Y-Class entities by the government, which meant that they had more power in their smallest fingernail than the average human had in their whole body, even those enhanced by gene therapy.
So, basically Rofocale owned the place in all but name, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to take some precautions. Demons were dangerous, but so long as you were polite, weren’t standing in their way, and careful about bargaining with them, you would be relatively safe—most of the time.
As I approached, he slid over, obviously expecting me to sit next to him, but I pulled up a chair from the dining area, keeping the coffee table between us. There was a newspaper on the coffee table, open to a headline proclaiming that Genetech’s stocks had reached an all-time high, no surprise there, gene therapy was at least a fifty billion dollar business, and Genetech was the company that had started it all.
Rofocale idly tapped the newspaper with one long fingernail. For some reason, I always expected that he would have claws instead, but of course he never did, so much for stereotyping.
“Such advances are quite fascinating, do you not agree?” He remarked.
I shrugged. The world has always had people with extraordinary abilities, special powers, call them what you will, but it was generations earlier, with the mapping of the human genome in 2006, that we really began to understand the nature of these abilities. Now, thanks to Genetech, anyone could discover what abilities lay hidden in their genetic code—for a price, of course. Some abilities, such as Dave’s Pyromancy, were mapped to dominant genes, others, such as his Empathy, were recessive traits. He was a kickass cop in general, but no criminal wants to tangle with anyone who can fling fireballs about with impunity.
Who wouldn’t pay any price for that sort of power?
Rofocale pushed the newspaper away with such a graceful gesture that I was sure he practiced it every day, and then I had to bite my cheek to keep from laughing at the absurd mental image.
“Very well then, to business,” he said, adjusting the collar of his shirt. “I need you to do something for me, Scotty-boy; it is a matter of some importance.”
“Do you need someone to write up an obituary?” I asked, only half joking. Demonic politicking was frequently deadly, which was why Dave told me that the police gave them a wide berth most of the time.
Rofocale snorted. “No, Scotty-boy, as a matter of fact, I need you to attend a party.”
My eyes narrowed at this. “If this is another excuse to get me to attend one of those orgies of yours—“
Rofocale cut me off with a dismissive wave of his hand. “No, nothing of the sort, I assure you,” he smiled. “I would never dream of sharing you with one of my kin, Scotty-boy, as it is, I can barely tolerate sharing you with that husband of yours.”
“There is no ‘sharing’, Rofocale, remember?” I said, flashing my wedding band at him with a smile. Granted, neither Dave nor I were really opposed to the idea of an open relationship, but I wouldn’t dare discuss it with anyone else before I discussed it with him, and we both liked our current arrangement very much.
“You humans and your…fidelity….” Rofocale remarked, shrugging, “Have it your way, then, Scotty-boy.” He rested his hands in his lap, a sure sign that he was finished with flirting, for the moment.
“As I was saying,” he continued. “I require your assistance at a party, a little soiree for my closest kin, a small gathering, a meal, perhaps some entertainment, nothing more.”
“Nothing involving demons is ever ‘nothing more’,” I said. “But, say I’m feeling suicidal enough that I’d be willing to walk into a nest of Y-Class entities, what would I be doing?”
Rofocale glanced pointedly towards the kitchen. “Do you have anything to drink, Scotty-boy?” He asked.
Well, this was new and frightening behavior, Rofocale knew full well that I kept a bottle of red for him, and usually he poured himself a glass straight off, he certainly never asked for a drink. Still, I didn’t think it was wise to bring it up, so I simply poured him his customary glass and sat down again.
Rofocale didn’t take the glass right away, he simply sat there, looking at me with a curious expression on his face, as if I was a difficult puzzle he was trying to figure out. After a moment, he plucked the glass from the table and took a sip.
“I require you to act as my bodyguard for the evening,” he said.
Now I really had to stifle a laugh. “What are you talking about?” I blurted. It was like a lion asking a ladybug for protection. “Besides, you have the wrong man for the job. I think you need to speak to my husband about any security issues.”
Rofocale scowled. “You may find this terribly amusing, Scotty-boy, but the fact is that I require someone with your….unique talents….to play a part at this little gathering.”
I stood up. “The answer is no, Rofocale,” I said, surprised at how calm I sounded. “I won’t kill for you. I won’t kill for the government, and I sure as Hell won’t kill for you or your kin.”
Rofocale wasn’t looking at me; he was gazing into the wineglass, a serene expression on his face. “You would not have to kill for me, Scotty-boy,” he murmured. “I am quite aware of your…scruples….”
“Then you know that I can’t help you,” I said.
Rofocale sighed and released the wineglass, but instead of shattering, it floated gently to the sink. It always unnerved me, these subtle displays of power, but to Rofocale I imagined it was as natural as breathing.
“I suppose we shall be in touch, then, Scotty-boy,” he said as he rose and drifted towards the door.
“No, Rofocale,” I said, decisive. “This discussion is over. Leave.”
For a moment, his eyes flashed angrily, and I felt the icy finger of fear slide down my spine. You’re a fucking idiot, Scott! I cursed myself. Even under an oath not to harm me and mine, Y-Class entities like Rofocale were still dangerous. But, to my surprise, he bowed his head, blond curls falling to caress his cheek.
“I shall leave you to your scribblings, then, Scotty-boy,” he said, though there was a definite undercurrent to his tone that proclaimed that this discussion was far from over, and with that, he swept out of the room, the door closing behind him.
I leaned against the nearest wall and sighed. “Stupid, Scott, stupid….” I murmured. It wasn’t healthy to provoke species like demons, especially when that demon lived just across the hall from you, not if you wanted to live a long life and die of old age.
Still, what Rofocale was asking me to do was out of the question. I would not put myself in a position to risk discovery, and I certainly wasn’t going to harm anyone on his behalf.
When you’re a Splicer, you see, it’s next to impossible to avoid causing harm.
I was born to middle class parents who always seemed to be balancing on the edge of the poverty line. Linda and Thomas Raine didn’t have much to their names except each other, and me, of course. I had no idea what they had had to do to be able to afford gene therapy for me, and, to be honest, I didn’t want to know. There were parents who (quite literally) would sell their souls so that their kids could have it done.
My tests revealed that I was a Telepath with a memory that was more than slightly above average, though nowhere near photographic. Perhaps it doesn’t sound that impressive, but it meant that one day I would have the sort of skills that would net me a way to make a comfortable (if not lucrative) living in this gene-focused world, and that was enough for my parents.
It was in high school that my troubles really began….
I closed my eyes. No, no, don’t think about that now, I scolded. Just get your phone and call Dave….
I had left the phone on the nightstand in our bedroom. Dave’s was one of the few numbers I kept on speed dial, just in case. He probably wouldn’t answer at this time of day, but I needed to call him, just to give him a heads up.
“Hey Dave,” I said at the beep. “Had a visit from you-know-who today, he had quite the tale to tell….”