The Darker Fringes

The reddish orange leaves scattered over the steps that led to her mentor’s cabin conjured up images of blood and fire. This isn’t helping, she thought, rushing down the remaining steps.

She reached the door and almost walked in without knocking, before she remembered whose home this was—a Captain of Crossroads’ trigger finger didn’t lose its speed just because he no longer worked for the government.

The door opened before her knuckles hit wood.

“I sensed your anxiety before you even—” A glance at her clothes silenced her mentor.

He reached for her hand, but she stepped back before he could touch her skin. She didn’t want him to sense the raw energy of the recent carnage, not before she could explain. “Can I come in?” She pointed at the blood staining her t-shirt, at the burn spots on her jeans. “It was bad, Sir.”

Her mentor moved aside to let her in.

She walked into the one-room cabin, removed her badge from her belt, unholstered her M9 pistol, and placed them on top of a rustic coffee table next to a steaming mug.

“Care to sit?” her mentor said, settling in a ratty armchair and offering a loveseat. He grabbed his mug without saying a word about the gun or the badge.

“I attacked my Captain of Crossroads.” When her mentor said nothing, she sat down and waited.

“What happened?” Perhaps perceiving her hesitation, he added, “I didn’t leave the agency because I was tired of my career. I have always fed on the energy I get out of serving and protecting. One of those two was compromised by agency policy. I complained and was told to consider my place, to think of the dangers, to remember who I was. I did. I remembered that it was dangerous to allow myself to get so hungry that I nearly forgot why I needed to serve and protect others.” He returned the mug to the table. “Tell me what happened.”

Her mentor’s words banished the unease. And she told.

“Earlier this morning, I noticed that the names of two Mythicals I escorted to Headquarters three weeks ago didn’t make it into the End of Quarter Report…”

“Nothing says ‘You have no life’ like visiting strangers on your day off,” she said to the foyer mirror before walking out of her apartment. But she was being too hard on herself. A one-parent family leaving Pre-Chaos to join the general population was a rare thing. She couldn’t be the only agent curious to see how the young father and his son were adjusting to New York City, where they would have to hide what they were from almost everyone.

She headed towards South Ferry Station wondering if it would be appropriate to get a small gift for the child. Maybe next time, she thought, scrolling down her emails and opening the file that contained her EQR.

After skimming through the document a couple of times, she stopped walking. The date was correct. The badge number in the subject line was correct. Everything was correct; except that she had escorted 21 Mythicals last quarter, not 19. She almost called Crossroads Headquarters to request the two Mythicals’ temporary address. But her unit was fewer than five blocks away, and she decided to walk there to print an updated copy of the report.

Since the building was supposed to be empty on holidays, the harshness of someone’s distress took her by surprise. She glanced towards the front desk. There was no one there. She started to think that she was only feeling the annoyance of someone who had to finished paperwork on a day off, when a man’s pleas crawled out of the Captain of Crossroads’ closed door.

She pulled her M9 and began inching towards her boss’s office.

“Don’t do this, please.”

She didn’t recognize the first voice, but the second speaker was her boss.

“It’s simple,” he said. “Work with us, and your kid will be placed with a good family.”

“You don’t understand. He… he needs me,” the man spoke through sobs. “He won’t be safe without me around to teach him. He’s too young. His control… He won’t be safe. Please, let—”

“Fine,” her boss said. “I’ll ship you to Headquarters. The doctors there will be more persuasive. Just know that I was offering the kinder choice. You’ll walk in front of me. Make the wrong move and I’ll send the kid to sleep.”

She took a few steps back and crouched by the front desk.

The man was in handcuffs. The child’s hands were zip-tied and there was a hood over his head.

When the man neared the spot where she hid, her boss said, “Stop right there.”

The man stopped. And looked right at her.

She raised a finger to her lips, and breathed a sigh when the man did nothing to give her away.

Her boss locked his office door and attached the end of a leash to a collar around the child’s neck.

“Let’s go,” her boss said to the man.

She crouched lower, waiting for her boss to walk by. When she glimpsed the back of his shoes, she got to her feet and pushed her M9 to the back of the Captain of Crossroads’ skull.

“Don’t make a—” she began to say, but he jabbed an elbow into her gut and the gun went off.

Her boss and the child collapsed.

The child’s feet began to twitch. She ran to check on him, but the child’s father got there first.

“He’s too short. I couldn’t have shot—”

“It’s the cord,” the father said, pointing at her boss with his chin. “He’s using it to drain my boy and heal himself.”

“What do you…?” Then she saw what he meant. The wound her bullet had left in the Captain’s head was closing. She knew that every agent working for Crossroads possessed some minor Mythical ability, but no one had ever said anything about instantaneous regeneration.

“…the cord,” the father yelled as he tried to flip the Captain’s body, while still handcuffed. “We need to sever the cord or he’ll kill my boy.”

She handed him a set of keys. “How can I help?”

Removing the handcuffs, he said, “The cord connects into a wristband. There,” he pointed at an iridescent bracelet encircling the Captain’s right wrist. “I need to hold on to my son. He’ll wake up confused. I’ll let you know when to unplug the cord.” He knelt in front of his son, his hands hovering palm down over the child’s back. “Now!”

She yanked on the cord. And the Captain was on her, pinning her to the wall. She tried to scream, but no sound left her mouth. The room darkened, her body began to go limp…

As consciousness slipped away, she heard a soft voice, saying, “But I must, Daddy. I must help.”

“When I came to, I was in a sleeping bag under a maple tree at the south edge of your property.” She stood up and took a note out of her jean’s back pocket. “This was in the bag with me.”

Her mentor grabbed the crumpled paper from her hand, and read aloud, “I healed your crushed ribs and trachea. I’m sorry to have caused trouble. The man at this address was listed as your emergency contact. He helped people like my boy and me in the past. You’ll be safe with him.”

“I killed the Captain, Sir. I will never—”

“You only injured that parasite. The child did the rest. He didn’t mean to,” her mentor said, when she opened her mouth to argue. “You helped him. He wanted to protect you. He lost control.”

“Who is that child?” she said.

“He’s one of several children who have been running for their lives since before they could talk.” He walked to stand by her and put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “He is a Mythical who can use the help of anyone willing to give up gun and shield and walk the darker fringes with me.”

She stared at the blackened blood that had stuck to her singed bootlaces, and said, “I can walk.”

inspired by “Balance”, winner of the sixth Expanding Wee Bits of Dark Fiction and Poetry

Red Maple Leavesdetail from “Red Leaves Stair Forest Fall Scenery Wallpaper”

Large, Powerful, Wild

When the archer sprouted through the concrete floor, Fine Arts Macabre rippled. The force that was making the building pulsate had also added a silvery glow to the archer’s skin and eyes. Her metallic lips moved without producing audible words.

“What do you think she’s chanting, Miss Flynn?”

Laila had been reduced to a transparent sphere of energy that shimmered a few feet above the floor, encircling DeeAnn’s body. Her awareness shared headspace with DeeAnn’s consciousness. Because of it, Laila could speak through her apprentice’s lips. But she chose to answer in the girl’s mind, hoping DeeAnn would follow the example. “I don’t know what she’s doing.”

“I wish she would stop looking at me like that and mumbling,” DeeAnn said.

Through DeeAnn’s eyes, Laila tried looking towards the door—her view was blocked by the archer. Laila had used the last of her energy to separate her mind from her maimed body. It had been the only way to keep DeeAnn from irreversible harm. “Don’t let her see your fear.”

“I’m sorry, Miss Flynn. It’s just… Well, that woman’s eyeballs feel like hot fingers in my head. It’s hard to concentrate on anything else.”

DeeAnn’s choice of words made Laila pay closer attention to the archer’s movements. She, too, had believed that the archer was looking at DeeAnn. By the time she realized what was actually going on, the archer had pulled two of the three arrows that impaled Laila’s limp body to Fine Arts Macabre’s front door, and had shot an energy jolt that yanked Laila’s mind out of balance.

The channeling spell the archer had been chanting slammed Laila’s essence back into her dying body, giving her no time to tell DeeAnn what was happening.

Laila couldn’t speak. She tried, but her words turned to gurgles. The archer had removed the last arrow leaving a hole in her throat. There was no pain, but the blood loss was stealing her senses.

As consciousness left her, Laila saw the archer’s twisted features illuminated by the flaming hand she waved in front of her face.

DeeAnn’s fading voice yelled threats and obscenities.

“Quiet!” the archer shouted.

DeeAnn’s yells ended.

Laila tried opening her mouth to curse the archer. But her brain couldn’t find her lips. And her magic ignored the call of her will.

Amparo stood on the sidewalk leaning on her walking stick, her back to the entrance of Fine Arts Macabre. She disliked the sudden silence that oozed out of the building, but not nearly as much as she hated the smirk spreading over Blanche’s face. When a member of the Traditional Guild of Tales looked that joyous, it was almost certain that one of Amparo’s friends would suffer a great deal; or would lose the ability to ever suffer again, she thought. “Don’t look so happy, Blanche. If something has happened to the Curator or her apprentice, I could think you were involved.”

“Don’t be stupid, Keeper. I have no love for the Flynn woman, but I would never risk my position as Curator just to scratch an inconsequential itch. The Guild sent me and a Scout to check this place, after it showed as the center of an energy fluctuation. The voice you heard inside belongs to—”

She was too upset to allow Blanche to finish the sentence. “No one other than Laila can survive Fine Arts Macabre’s crisis wards. Not even me.” Amparo kept her tone leveled, but in her mind she screamed until Blanche’s face melted into a sad bloody puddle at her feet.

Blanche leaned forward until she was only a foot away from Amparo, and whispered, “What happens to the wards when the Curator is no longer breathing, Keeper?”

Amparo heard the door open behind her. She didn’t want to turn around, not while Blanche grinned like a pretty carnivorous flower that ate every one of the family’s kittens. But she forced herself to glance over her shoulder. The sight was much grimmer than she had expected: it looked as if the flower had butchered all the children before eating their four-legged playmates.

A tall blonde woman wearing black cargo pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and combat boots—the preferred attire of the Scouts of the Traditionalist Guild of Tales—stood in the threshold. Her hands were wet with blood.

Amparo squeezed her walking stick, and turned to face Blanche. “You are not the only choice left for Curator.” She was in so much pain. Her foot throbbed. Her calf was thicker than her thigh. Perhaps it’s been too long. Neutrality can’t last forever.

“I’m the only one here now,” Blanche said. “And I’m the only one left who isn’t a criminal on the run. The building will choose me.”

“Not while I am still Keeper,” Amparo said in a soft voice, as she jammed the iron tip of her walking stick into her inflamed calf. Pain, and a gargoyle the size of a cat, burst out of her skin.

“Stop him!” Amparo heard the Scout yell, right before Laila and DeeAnn ran out of the building.

But the warning had arrived too late. Amparo’s symbiont had already exposed the back of Blanche’s throat.

“The Blanche woman vanished before hitting the ground,” DeeAnn said, again and again, as if everyone hadn’t seen it happen. “Where do you think her body went, FAM? Did you eat her?”

“My reach doesn’t go beyond the walls of this building,” FAM said. “The Blanche lookalike disappeared because she was made of energy that doesn’t belong in this Realm. The essence went home.”

“How were you able to eat Aurora then?” DeeAnn raised an eyebrow. “And why didn’t the archer’s body go poof after you healed Miss Flynn? She was made of weird too, wasn’t she?”

“I haven’t eaten anyone. Aurora and the archer were never alive. They were energy shaped into bodies, controlled by Riders. When Aurora collapsed inside the building, I repurposed the energy that gave her form. I used the power to push out the mind that rode the archer, and morphed the energy left behind into something this Realm could understand.”

“You ate Aurora.” DeeAnn crossed her arms. “Just admit it.”

FAM exhaled her irritation and left the room, through a wall.

Laila stood near the door to her office. She hadn’t spoken since walking back into the building. She kept quiet when DeeAnn argued that, “Fine Arts Macabre is just too long of a name to call anyone. And ‘Fine’ is just too presumptuous. And we can’t just go around calling a building and its Sentinel by the same name. FAM just makes sense.” Just, just, just… the words echoed in Laila’s head. She stared at Amparo, and at the small stone creature pacing at her friend’s feet.

“Does it have a name?” Laila addressed the question to no one in particular, but the edge in her voice pointed at Amparo.

“His latest name is Dexter. From the TV show,” Amparo said. “He saw an ad on the side of a bus.” When Laila said nothing, she added, “He gets bored watching over the building night after night. So he renames himself, binge-watches TV, and reads when—

“He spies on me?”

“No, Laila, he doesn’t spy on you.” Amparo took a step towards her, but stopped when Laila shook her head. “He watches the building. I am Keeper. Dexter is Watcher. Our work is not—”

“Why didn’t you tell me? How can we be friends if I don’t know you?”

“I am your friend and you know me. I am also the Keeper of Tales. The latter has always been neutral.” Amparo was crying, but her voice didn’t shake. “I thought that if I told you about Dexter, then the essence of the Fine Arts Macabre’s Sentinel would have compelled me to share the same information with the Traditional Guild. They can’t be trusted. You’ve been Curator long enough to know that.” Amparo pointed at FAM. “After she went silent, I had no guidance. I didn’t know a way to keep our friendship completely honest without losing Dexter.”

“Why would he leave you for being truthful?”

“The Watcher’s allegiance is to the things guarded by this place,” FAM said, reentering the room through a different wall. “A new Keeper is appointed by the Sentinel, if there is evidence of trouble, Laila Flynn. But the Watcher has been around since the first Crafter left her original tale, and was read into a new Story Realm. Dexter can’t choose his host.”

The gargoyle curled up around Amparo’s leg, and bared his teeth at FAM. Laila started to like the little beast for that.

“And you?” Laila said.

FAM watched her for some time, and then said, “The essence animating this body belongs to the first Curator. She… I… chose to merge with the building when the energy needed to catalogue and shield powerful items, which had been separated from their wielders, became too unstable to be moved from place to place safely.”

“You gave up your life to keep strangers from getting hurt.”

“I’m not that selfless, Laila Flynn.” FAM grinned. “I didn’t give my life, for the change didn’t kill me. I exchanged my freedom for the protection of something that means everything to me.”

“What’s worth so…?” Laila’s words trailed off when the building began to shake.

FAM’s eyes silvered out of focus. “Something’s trying to get through my wards.”

“Trads?” Laila said.

FAM shook her head. “I don’t recognize the entity’s essence. But it’s large, powerful, wild.” She turned to look at Amparo, before saying, “And it’s coming from Pre-Chaos, New York.”

This is the conclusion of the Laila Flynn web serial. To read the tale from the beginning, visit my Stories page and scroll down until you reach the Laila Flynn heading. A novella, which will include the polished web serial plus the events taking place right after, will be published this October. This is a tendril of a much bigger world…

Tendril Tree, by OnirimTendril Tree, by Onirim

G.G.’s Rekindling Spark

“Missing your breasts, big sister?” Lum said to Cruellest, who had been staring at his cleavage the entire time they had been waiting on a balcony outside the window of Darlene’s aunt.

“It’s not that, little brother.” Cruellest grinned. “I enjoy my three Moon Days as a man as much as you enjoy yours as a woman. I was just thinking that you are so damn lucky. It has been ages since I was with someone to whom I could show my true self every day of the month. And I can’t even remember the last time I was in love and was loved back.”

Lum let Cruellest’s words simmer in his mind, as they waited for Darlene to enter a room where Big Bear Vasilescus, a man who was convinced Darlene had killed his brother, tested a sharp knife on her father’s flesh. “How do you know what she feels? It could be lust.”

Cruellest stuck a finger in the soil of a flower pot whose inhabitants had been victim of a recent severe frost. Bright green shoots sprouted out of the dirt, and after a couple of seconds the pot was bursting with purplish flowers that smelled like a fresh pizza. “One shake of her hand, little brother, and I can bring Greek oregano back from the dead.” Cruellest winked.

“Is that why Grandmother sent her The Spark?”

“What do you mean?”

“Is Grandmother trying to bind Darlene to me without giving her—?”

“Don’t be an idiot, Luminous. Not even G.G. would be that reckless. Something old and hungry fled the pits of Pre-Chaos and is hiding in New York City. The foretelling showed you and Darlene at the center of this thing’s mess. G.G. wants to give Darlene a way to protect herself.”

“I will protect her.”

“Don’t shame me by speaking like a brainless testosterone factory while your body has a vagina and your boobs are bigger than my head, little brother. Ridicule doesn’t suit you or womankind.”

Lum was going to say something, but let it go when Juliana, Darlene’s aunt, left the room. He’s going to pay for that, he thought. Vasilescus had forced Juliana to crush her own fingers with a cast iron teakettle. Seeing the bloody towels around her hands had infuriated Lum enough to want to forget about his promise to Darlene, and run into the apartment to break the man’s neck.

“Are you ready?” Lum said to Cruellest, after he saw Darlene enter the room, Juliana following her with a small pile of blades cradled in her arms.

“Better be, your woman is weaponless.”

“Darlene is her own woman.”

Cruellest nodded. “Yes, she’s her very own unarmed woman. Now shut it. We don’t want to miss our invitation, do we?”

Luminous tried to open a wider gap in the semi-closed blinds, but the tips of his fingers flattened against the invisible barrier of the home’s natural protections. “Fuck.”

Cruellest looked at her brother’s hand and echoed his curse. “You’ve never been here.”

“I have not. And she probably forgot that she has to invite me in.”

Lum heard Darlene call his name at the same time she reached for the knife she had been concealing in a sheath on her back.

Vasilescus shot her before she could draw, and then stabbed Darlene’s father in the shoulder.

Juliana dropped the knives and rushed Vasilescus, but he had his gun to her neck before she could do anything. When Darlene’s aunt struggled, he grabbed her by the hair and smashed her face against the table until Juliana went limp.

Darlene sat against the wall breathing fast, bleeding from a wound in the middle of her chest, staring at Vasilescus.

Lum banged his fists on the invisible barrier and screamed. But the blinds where partially closed and no one inside the house paid him any attention.

“Stop that,” Cruellest said. “Stay still for a second. Can’t you feel that?”

“Wind,” Lum said.

“And the trees.” Cruellest pointed at the trees lining the sidewalk.

The leafless branches were swaying. The trees were dancing. Even the resurrected oregano had intensified its scent. “Grandmother is coming.”

“Yes,” Cruellest said. “And look at your Darlene.”

Darlene was on all fours. Her right hand was creeping towards Bloom, the knife she borrowed from Cruellest before going to rescue her family. Her eyes were on Vasilescus.

Vasilescus noticed the knife in Darlene’s hand, and smirked.

Darlene pushed herself up and threw Cruellest’s knife. It grazed Vasilescus’ arm, right before he shot her again. She collapsed.

“She got him, Luminous!”

Lum stared at Darlene’s body on the floor. “He shot her twice, Cruellest. She’s human and he shot her twice in the chest.” He looked at The Spark, now useless in his hand.

“Watch his arm, little brother.”

He looked, and the worst part of him smiled. One small cut from his sister’s knife had been enough. The blade’s edge was poisoned with Cruellest’s Bloom, a little white flower created by Lum’s big sister on one of her worst days. The flowers spread like wild fire and fed on flesh and bone. They didn’t stop multiplying until the last body tasted by the blade was consumed. Little Bear Vasilescus had lost an arm and most of a shoulder. His mouth remained untouched. It was screaming.

Lum fed on Vasilescus’ agony, while trying to reject the life force leaking out of Darlene. But he was what he was, and her nearness to death was calling to him.

“G.G. is here,” Cruellest said, moving out of the way of the oregano plant, which had grown as tall as the window ledge.

Lum’s grandmother appeared kneeling in front of Darlene’s aunt, a healing hand touching Juliana’s face. After whispering in Juliana’s ear, she turned towards Darlene’s father.

Juliana regained consciousness and stumbled to the kitchen. She opened the blinds, and stared at Cruellest and Lum. “Please come in,” she said in a ragged voice.

Lum leapt through the window, not slowing down until he neared the puddle of blood blossoming around Darlene’s trembling body. As he lay on the floor in front of her, he heard Cruellest apologizing for broken dishes, and explaining to Juliana why she was not to touch the bejeweled caterpillar his little brother had dropped in the sink.

Darlene’s father first asked and then begged that Lum’s grandmother helped Darlene. “Your daughter is beyond the kind of healing I can do, good man. It’s up to her and my grandson.”
The carpet felt rough against the side of Lum’s face. “I’m here, Darlene.” Her eyelids shuddered, and then her nearly black eyes were looking at him. “She’s awake, Grandmother.” Lum eyes focused on Darlene’s eyes, his face just a couple of inches from her face. “Please help her.”

“I’m dying,” Darlene said.

He wanted to ease her fear, but he could feel her essence leaving her body and entering his.

“She doesn’t have to die, Luminous. But if the choice is not made with haste, she is going to. She will be lost to this world and to you. You must give her The Spark.”

“Who…?” Darlene tried to turn towards the voice, but the movement made her body jerk.

Lum held her. “There is a way to keep you, Darlene, but the price—”

“Just tell her, Mr. Luminous. My daughter’s mind is stronger than you might think.”

“Daddy, you okay, Daddy? Aunt Juliana?”

“We’re fine, honey,” Darlene’s aunt said. “We—”

Cruellest began to cough. “Something’s coming. It’s dead and nasty and close.”

“Luminous Winter of my heart,” Lum’s grandmother said, from where she loomed at Darlene’s back. “Just because it was foretold, it doesn’t mean that the two of you can’t choose how it will happen. She will die without it, Luminous. Her death will mark the beginning of suffering and chaos this world hasn’t seen in a long time. We need her to live. I need you alive, and whole.”

Lum looked at the earthier of his two mothers. She was dressed in autumn’s mountains and valleys. The hand she extended to him showed the colors of a forest floor covered in fallen leaves. The Spark glowed in the middle of her left palm. Lum took it, and said, “Give us space.”

“What’s he going to do to her?” Darlene’s aunt said.

“He’s going to use his essence, his life force, to rekindle hers,” Lum’s grandmother told her. “We should move into the kitchen. That kind of exchange can be shocking for those not involved.”
“You’re dying, Darlene. And I—”

“It’s snowing inside your eyes,” she said.

“I’m nervous,” Lum told her, and choked on a bit of laughter. “Darlene,” he put The Spark in front of her eyes, “there is a stone inside this jewel, a Mythica Stone. It will heal your wounds, but… it will also create an everlasting bond between us.”

“I’m not afraid of really long dates.”

He sighed. “The Spark will bind you to me. You will fade if you’re away from me for too long.”

“And you?” she said.

He looked at her in silence for a few moments, trying to find the best way to say the words and settling for the simple truth. “I would only gain. My nearness to you will keep you alive. Your nearness to me will make me stronger.” He caressed her face with the back of his hand. “I don’t want you to die. And I don’t want you to have to be leashed to anyone.”

“People will suffer if I die.”

“Not your fault,” Lum said.

“You will suffer if I die.”

“Not your—”

“I don’t want you to suffer, Luminous. I don’t want to die yet.”

“This is going to hurt a lot,” he said.

“I’m ready. I’ve hurt before.”

Never like this, Lum almost said aloud, as he put The Spark in his mouth, cracked the jewel with his teeth, and wrapped his arms and legs around Darlene.

Lum’s skin began to frost until a cocoon of ice encircled his body and Darlene’s; she screamed and bucked. He held her tight against his breasts; she fought the pain of her flesh and bones knitting back together. When she stopped convulsing, he released the energy of the Mythica Stone into her. They were joined.

The shell of ice that protected them from outside energies exploded.

Lum’s arms were still around Darlene, their eyes on each other.

“You changed back,” she spoke into his mouth, her still cool lips hovering over his.

“My three Moon Days are up. The Silver Mother returned my shape.” He touched her cheek, delighting in the new bluish-white of her irises. “You also changed. Inside and out, it seems.
Lum’s grandmother removed the memories of herself, of Cruellest and of Big Bear Vasilescus’ visit from the minds of Darlene’s father and aunt. She replaced the nightmare with a late night of dominoes where Juliana impressed her niece’s partner with fresh oregano butter on hot rolls.

“How is it that Aunt Juliana and Dad aren’t shocked by the oregano jungle growing in the kitchen?” Darlene lay in her childhood bed, facing Lum. “And they said nothing about my eyes.”

“I cast glamour over your eyes and my outfit.” Lum’s six feet of lean-muscled man had stood in front of Darlene’s family wearing a tight silver mini-dress and five inch stilettos. “You have to ask Grandmother about the intricacies of memory tempering. I don’t know how it’s done.”

“And the bond, does it frighten you?” she said, the intensity of her words filling the bedroom.

“Are you scared, Darlene?”

“Immensely curious and anxious,” she told him. “But scared? No. I trust you.”

Lum moved closer to her, laid his head between her breasts, pressed his cheek against the spot where the man had shot her. He breathed in pure relief when her arms wrapped around his neck. “I am terrified, Darlene.” To stabilize the energy of the Mythica Stone while outside its natural environment, Lum’s grandmother had to give years of her life. “Whatever is coming must be terrible for Grandmother to feel that she had to use one of her rekindling Sparks.”

“I’ll protect you, little Luminous,” Darlene said, kissing the top of Lum’s head.

He laughed into the swells of her breasts. His mirth brought out bursts of her laughter. He fed on the energy of her joy, squeezed her as tight as it was possible without causing her pain, and pushed his essence into her body until he felt her skin burn with the cold fire of his life force.

They would have to be strong of mind and flesh, as individuals and as a team, if they were to stand in front of the horror that had escaped Pre-Chaos, New York, to threaten The City.


This is the conclusion of the Lum and Darlene web serial. To read the tale from the beginning, visit my Stories page and scroll down to the Lum and Darlene heading. A novella, which will include the web serial and the events taking place right after, will be published this October. This is a tendril of a much bigger world…