Thursday, December 31, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 13-6

While a few conversations continued at the table, over a dozen faces turned myway. I suddenly felt very put on the spot. I forced an awkward smile onto my face.  

“It’s not a special story or anything. Dad died in World War II. My brother died in Korea. Mom lost it and ended up under hospice care. I was left pretty much alone just as I graduated high school. I just tried to make a life for myself after that, so I went to trade school and got a job in the office pool.”

Solomon nodded knowingly. “You are far from the first of us that have lost family before coming to the Survivors’ Club. Some of us lost them to death, others to decisions of theirs or others. But all of us are in a situation where we have no one to welcome on this day or often, any day. Because of this we gather together and find companionship. That brings us all together for this meal, which several of our members graciously prepare every year. And it brings you to us, hopefully for the first of many such visits to our little club.”

I nodded. “I think I would like that.”

Audrey’s hand found my shoulder. “We would all certainly enjoy that as well. You’re one of us already, Meredith. You just didn’t know it until today.”

As I turned to look at her, I saw the scowl on Jolene’s face. She really didn’t like Audrey’s attention towards me, but I wasn’t quite sure why. I wondered if their bond was more than friendship in Jolene’s eyes.

“Thank you,” I told Audrey, trying to ignore Jolene’s look. I turned my attention back to Solomon. “And thank you for being such a gracious host.”

“I am not the host,” Solomon said. “We are all equals in the Survivors’ Club. I just happen to enjoy greeting new members, such as yourself.” He gave me his grin again and I couldn’t help but fall into that smile. Something about his charm drew me in. I could see myself with this man and unlike the men at the agency, I didn’t think I would regret this.

Our conversation turned more casual after that, mostly onto weather and the latest programs on television and radio. Audrey raved for a bit about Some Like It Hot, but I gathered most of her audience already knew about her affection for Marilyn Monroe. I just sat and took it all in, finally happy to feel accepted for a change.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 13-5

Audrey didn’t give me time to ask about what she meant by ‘interesting’. Instead she whisked me back into the crowd where she let me talk to a few more of her friends. Jolene followed us, but was far more quiet than she was. I wasn’t sure if she was angry, but she seemed a bit jealous of the attention Audrey was showing me.

I didn’t apply that much thought to it as I fell into a series of conversations with eligible bachelors, promising young men and a few young women that I suspected might have as much interest in me as either of the other two groups. Audrey was a charmer, able to control any conversation and at her side I quickly found myself comfortable with the ragtag group of men and women that made up the Survivors’ Club.

I didn’t even notice the hours passing until Solomon returned to the rest of the group to declare dinner to be served. A few of the younger members of the club appeared after his announcement with multiple platters and set them up around the punch bowl in the middle of the long table. Chairs came next and I found myself sitting at a feast of ham, ribs and roasted beef. Audrey sat to my left (with Jolene, still not quite happy, to her left) while Solomon took the seat to my right.

He gave me a knowing smile as he exchanged nods with Audrey. “How are you enjoying your first meeting, Meredith?”

“It’s quite lovely, Solomon. I have to say you’ve all been incredibly gracious hosts. It means a lot to find people like myself on days like this.”

“Indeed it is. We all have different reasons for coming here, but we all have a need for love and camaraderie in common. I lost my beloved wife to cancer while I was off fighting in the Pacific. I’ve never felt the need to remarry, but that doesn’t mean I wish to be alone. I’m sure Audrey and Jolene have told you how they don’t feel that societal norms for women fit their lifestyles. I can give you a dozen stories from a dozen different people at this table, my dear. But what I wish to know is why a woman such as yourself is alone on the holidays, Meredith? Please, tell us your reasons for coming here tonight.”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 13-4

Solomon introduced me to all the guests as we made the rounds. The group was about thirty strong and I certainly couldn’t memorize everyone’s name. But most of the group seemed open and inviting, even if they were a bit wary of a new outsider in their mix. I suspected the Survivors’ Club didn’t get many new members as often as Solomon implied.

Solomon left my side a bit after he introduced me to Audrey and Jolene, two of the women already hard at work on a punch bowl that I suspected held a bit more than juice. They seemed about my age and dressed as if they were regular office workers as well. I watched him return to the elevator to await any more guest arrivals.

Something about the man intrigued me. I was always intrigued by older men and Solomon knew how to groom and present himself. I wasn’t quite sure how the man could be without family at Christmas, but I wanted to know more about him.

Jolene threw an arm around me and leaned in close. “Audrey, it looks like our new friend Meredith here already has eyes on someone.”

I quickly turned my attention back to the two women. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t be modest,” Audrey said. “He’s a handsome man. A bit old for me, but I can see it if you’re into that type.”

“Hush,” I said sternly. “This kind of talk isn’t proper for mixed company.”

Audrey and Jolene both chuckled. Jolene leaned in close to my ear, her breath showing the hint of vodka under the fruity concoction she drank. “Don’t pretend like the men don’t do the same thing all the time. You’re either predator or prey when the hunt begins. Audrey and I just like to find a target that’s the right size for our appetites.”

I felt my cheeks grow red. I wasn’t sure if it was the drink, but Audrey and Jolene certainly were much more forward than any women I had ever met. In the office, the subject occasionally turned to the eligible bachelors of Davis Brothers, but it never grew so colorful.

“Now, Jolene,” Audrey chided. “I think you should settle down with that talk. Meredith clearly isn’t used to being as free and open as we are.” Audrey took my arm and pulled me away from Jolene. “The Survivors’ Club doesn’t really worry about the limits society puts on us. You see all the women here. Most of us are the type that don’t want families, but rather want to make our own way. We can be open about that here in a way we can’t when we’re working ten hours at Yancy’s. Get it?”

I nodded.

“Good. Now let’s get you some punch. And trust me when I say that if you want a shot at Solomon, stick around to later. That’s when the party gets really interesting.”

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 13-3

I walked into an empty lobby. Not just empty in the sense that no one was there, but really empty. There were no desks, no chairs, no people. The tan carpet showed dark spots where dirt had been tracked into it again and again.

I wondered for a moment if I was in the right place at all.

“Welcome!” A tall man followed the voice from the back half of the office. I turned around and saw the area behind the elevator was freed with a group of people mingling over a punch bowl and snack table.

My welcomer was in his early fifties, with deep set eyes and a square jaw. He was bald, not from age, but clearly groomed that way.

“My name is Solomon Davis. Welcome to the Survivors’ Christmas Party!”

I looked around, a bit confused. “Survivors?”

Solomon chuckled. “Yes, we’ve survived without family or close friends, even through the holidays. And we think that’s something to celebrate. So our little group gathers every month, at least until we find love or friend elsewhere. It gives us a bit of camaraderie missing from our normal lives. Every holiday we invite anyone alone into our gathering. It’s something of a recruitment drive mixed with commiseration.”

“I see. Well, thanks for having me. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the paper, but I figured anything would be better than sitting alone.”

“Very, very true! The party goes all afternoon and evening. We will have dinner at five and drinks after. You’re welcome to stay as long as you would like. Generally, we run well into the morning hours, ringing in Christmas like some people ring in New Year’s.”

“That—that honestly sounds nice.”

“I hope so. I like to think our Survivor’s Club is a friendly place. We may not be family people, but that doesn’t mean we have no social graces. We just like to find time to find others like ourselves. You never know where things can go from there.”

“Do you have many relationships form in the club? I’m sure you have some success stories.”

Solomon shook his head. “Not really. It rarely is something club members end up wanting. But that’s a topic for some other time. Right now, let me take you around and introduce you to everyone. Don’t worry, we won’t have a quiz on everyone’s name, not until the drinks start at least.”

I laughed as he ushered me away from the elevator and into my first meeting of the Survivors’ Club.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 13-2

The walk to the Lenox Avenue address wasn’t anything unusual for me. I walked Downtown River City five days a week and Lenox was only a few blocks away from the Davis Brothers offices. But as I watched the men, women and children, many in full family units, taking in their final Christmas shopping, I grew more nervous. I wanted that life, but at the same time, I loved my freedom. I loved just being me. And now I was walking into some club that might change all of that.

I didn’t know if I could handle that change.

I stopped in my tracks. A mother with two children almost ran into me from behind. She tsked at me as she ushered the children around me. I wanted to glare angrily at her, but I kept my face passive. It was so ingrained in me not to cause trouble, that I doubted I really could ever do that.

No, fear isn’t the answer. Fear has left me alone this long. It’s time I stand up for myself and take what I want.

With a nod, I powered down the last two blocks to the address.

488 Lenox Avenue wasn’t a building all that different than the office complex that held Davis Brothers. A six story structure, each floor held a business. Three accountants, a law office and an insurance agency filled the other floors. Suite B had nothing next to it. From all appearances, it was empty. I didn’t hesitate. I opened the front door and walked towards the elevator.

No one else was around. The ground floor office was dark, closed for the holidays. I shrugged it off, opened the elevator gate and pressed the button for the second floor.

My worries and fears whirled around in my brain like a vortex of indecision. I didn’t know what I was walking into and as the elevator ascended, I realized for the first time that I might be in danger. I hadn’t considered that I might run into violence, just strange people that made me uncomfortable.

“Stay calm,” I said to myself out loud. “You’re going to be just fine. Everything is going to be alright.”

The elevator slowed and came to a stop. With a deep breath, I reached out and opened the gate and walked out into whatever holiday I would have.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 13. Then

I wasn’t anyone special. I knew that. I mean, no one cared what happened to Meredith Munro. I was already thirty and I hadn’t found a man. My two brothers and father were both dead, killed by two wars without purpose. Mom lived in Maui surrounded by pool boys years younger than me. I was alone in the city with nowhere to go on another Christmas. Sure I had my job at Davis Brothers Advertising,but no one there really cared. Goodness knows I let more than enough of the young ad men there woo me. All I received for my trouble was a few too many ex-boyfriends and an uncomfortable case of crabs.

So as the city bustled with the last minute shopping on Christmas Eve, I was in a deeper funk than ever. I was thirty and alone in a one bedroom flat in the heart of Downtown. It was nearly noon as I stared at my open address book. I could call Vic and at least have company tonight. The younger Davis twin made no secret of the fact that he liked me, even if he did get rough. I walked out of a few too many of our encounters with bruises, but at least he would see me.

No, I’m not doing that to myself again. I might be alone, but I didn’t need my boss to know exactly how desperate I felt.

I rose from my reading chair and padded over to the kitchen. I looked down at the advertisement I circled near the bottom of the classifieds. It was just a few simple words, but when I saw it over my morning coffee it had intrigued me enough to stop and look at it.

 

ALONE AT CHRISTMAS? JOIN US AT 488 LENOX AVE SUITE B, 2 P.M. CHRISTMAS EVE

 

I read the words to myself again and again. No phone number, no organization, not even a name. I wondered who else would want to do something like this for a few moments, but as I thought about a series of stranger and stranger characters, I knew it didn’t matter. My decision was already made.

I didn’t want to be alone again on Christmas.

I stopped only long enough to check my hair in the mirror before I put on my peacoat and a sensible pair of shoes. I grabbed my keys and was out onto the busy streets of River City.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

River City History: The Red Hawk

With Yankee Doodle Jones removed from power over the city, the last few months of World War II were not good ones for the city’s leaders. The citizens of River City were none too happy about the mayor and city council giving in to the power-mad ex-hero’s demands. With so much animosity in the air and the disappearance of the city’s heroes, organized crime realized they could make major in-roads into the city. Ultimately they would all fall under the control of one man.

Jacob Redhawk Moore grew up among the Native Americans of South Dakota. Though she was white, his mother married a full blooded Sioux. A mixed breed boy not accepted by either group, he grew up on the reservation where he took to many outdoor activities. An expert hunter by his teens, he moved from his childhood home at eighteen. With limited calling for his skills during the Depression, he fell into petty crime. But his skills quickly came to the attention of one of River City’s crime bosses, Frederico “The Duke” Angelosetti.

The Duke was a childless but cunning leader. While many bosses fell to the city’s heroes, The Duke kept his profile low enough not to be noticed. As other criminals in the area were arrested and killed, he slowly moved into their territories. Jacob became his chief agent in his forays into other territories. He set out to convince the former lieutenants to come to work for the Duke. Wearing a mockup of Indian garments from movies, he used his own infamy to bring fear to his foes. If someone refused his offer, he killed those who stood in the Duke’s way.

Jacob Redhawk Moore’s criminal past connected to his days in the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He fought valiantly in the Pacific theater, but his mixed heritage often led to enmity with his commanding officers and other pilots. Some historians believe many of his kills were awarded instead to other pilots in the theater. Redhawk may have the most kills of any military-affiliated pilot in the Pacific theater, but his heritage kept him from receiving acknowledgement for that during his time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 12-5

The conversation paused as a server brought Mel her food. It hissed still on the plate from the heat. The smells hit Rosa’s nose and made her contemplate buying a replacement for her own burrito which was nearly gone. If it didn’t mean leaving Mel with Keith, she would have.

“Come now,” Mel said. “I don’t think with a young lady clearly as talented as Rosa here, you need to visit a place like Lumber Jacks to fill your time. But come now, I have doubts you can say you’ve never been inside such a place. Not a red blooded American male like yourself.”

“Well—”

Mel laughed. “As I thought. Nothing to be ashamed of, is it, Rosa?”

“I guess not,” Rosa said. “I don’t know much—”

“Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with young men and young women enjoying each other’s company, nor is there anything wrong with my choice of profession. I think both of you would have a great time. Perhaps you should stop in tonight.”

Keith threw up his hand. “I don’t think that would be—”

“Maybe it would be fun,” Rosa said. “I’ve never been to a place like this Lumber Jacks. We could go together.”

Keith studied her, his eyebrows slightly raised, as if he was studying her response. Rosa wondered if she had overstepped the bounds of their relationship. She wasn’t even sure if it was a relationship really. She liked Keith, but so far most of their contact had been physical. And while he seemed like a nice guy, she wanted more than that in a significant other.

Mel laughed aloud. “You are both far too uptight! I think you need to loosen up! Come out, have a drink and a good time.”

She ripped into the burrito and started to eat. She gave a nodding approval at her simplified version of the dish.

“Well?” Rosa said. “Do you want to? I mean we don’t have to, but it might be a fun date.”

“Yeah, I guess. I have to say that isn’t where I expected to take you out to for our first night out.”

Rosa smiled. “I guess I’m a bit more full of surprises than I look.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Mel interjected as she picked up her burrito. “I think you are both full of surprises. See you tonight.”

Both Rosa and Keith could only watch as the raven haired beauty sauntered out of Rey’s and back onto the street.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 12-4

Rosa found her burrito still waiting for her, a thankful sight after the strange arrival of Mel. After the both sat down, she quickly introduced Mel to Keith before going back to her food. While she wasn’t quite sure what to think about this beautiful woman suddenly inserting herself into the day, she couldn’t quite be sure whether it bothered her or intrigued her.

Mel leaned on both hands as she took in Keith. “So, what do you do for a living, Keith?”

“I’m a police officer, miss. I’m off duty today, but that doesn’t mean I care for trouble like you seemed to be causing.”

“My apologies. I am new to the area and wasn’t really familiar with the local cuisine.”

“Where are you from that doesn’t have burritos? Timbuktu?”

She shrugged. “Close enough. Rhode Island.”

Chewing the food in her mouth quickly, Rosa realized Keith was far from happy with the new arrival. “Rhode Island, huh? I just had some friends come back from there. Very small state, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Mel said. She glanced Rosa’s way, but seemed to clearly not be happy about the interruption of her flirtation. “It is a small state.”

“The smallest,” Keith added. “Tell me what brings you to River City, Mel?”

“I have family here. I had a falling out with my parents and thought it was prudent if I relocated. I just scored a job here, so I’m sure everything will fall into place just fine for me here. I have a way of making sure I get what I want.”

“I’m sure.” Keith glanced towards Rosa. Rosa only shrugged. She didn’t know what else to say.

Turning back to Mel, Keith said, “where is it you’re working, Mel?”

“Oh, it’s right down the street, Keith. You should come stop in some time. I suspect you will like what you see. I’m over at Lumber Jacks down the street.”

“Lumber Jacks? You mean the strip club?”

Rosa coughed and gagged on the water she was sipping. I invited a stripper to a lunch with my boyfriend. Am I a complete idiot?

“Of course,” Melinoe said. “I’ll be starting as a feature there tonight. I’m sure I can get you in if you’re interested, Keith.”

“That’s very generous, Mel, but I don’t generally frequent such places. Unless I get a call for some kind of trouble in the parking lot.”

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 12-3

Rosa walked calmly up the yelling woman. Until she got up close, Rosa hadn’t realized quite how stunning the woman was. As the woman glanced her way, Rosa could not help but feel that this woman had to be a supermodel of some kind. She wasn’t quite sure why a woman this beautiful would even be in River City, let alone eat at an establishment like Rey’s.

“Hello, maybe I can be of some help. It seems you are not too familiar with Mexican cuisine.”

The other woman eyed Rosa up and down. She offered a sly smile, the kind of look that said she knew what she wanted and intended to get it. It sent a shiver down Rosa’s spine. She knew this type all too well.

“I do not know about Mexican cuisine because I do not care to know. I only wish to be served what I requested. It seems simple enough. I have money and I want what I have called for. Why is that so hard for you… people to understand.”

Rosa’s eyebrow twitched at the strange pause before people. She wondered what the woman meant to say instead, but knew now was not the time to ask. “Look, my name is Rosa. I can help you get something. Generally they serve some variety of meat, cheese, bean and rice inside a tortilla. They’ve got a variety of meats, but only serve Mexican cheeses. I’m sure if you don’t want the beans or rice you could pay extra to have them replaced by more meat or cheese. And there’s no wine, but they do have several beers if you want alcohol. If you don’t understand any of the Spanish on the board I can help you translate.”

“I do not—” The woman shook her head. “No, your offer is gracious, mor—Rosa. You may call me Mel and I would greatly appreciate some filet of pork and a large amount of this cheese from Mexico.”

Rosa rattled off the order in Spanish along with an apology to the order taker. “There you go, Mel. I put your order in. Generally, it takes a few minutes for them to make it, but you’ve got a bit of a line ahead of you.”

“Yes, the line. I am not used to waiting.”

Rosa chuckled. “I know the feeling.” She offered a quick shrug at Mel’s quizzical expression. “Perhaps you would like to join my friend and I?”

She pointed to the table Keith sat at. Mel gave her a smile. “Dear girl, it is dangerous to invite another woman to meet your gentleman friend.”

“It’s alright. I’m not the jealous type.”

“Perhaps you should be,” Mel said as she sauntered towards the table and Keith.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 12-2

“Maybe you and your friends should have some kind of memorial for Garrett. It could help you quite a bit. I know when I lost my father, hearing everyone’s thoughts about him really helped me get through it. You should give it a try.”

You’re right that I need to end this, but I’ve already lost too many people to just let things go that easily.

“I will talk to the others when I meet with them. It’s a good idea even if I’m not sure if I’m ready to close things like that.”

“We never are, Rosa. We never are.”

“I guess.”

They fell to silence, the somber conversation subsumed by the need to eat. While she knew some people with a lot on their minds didn’t eat much, Rosa had never been one of those people. Maybe it was because her powers consumed so many calories, but she always wanted her next meal no matter what. It being as good as Rey’s burrito was just a plus.

A female voice boomed over the quiet hum of the other customers at their tables. “I will take your finest meat, your finest cheese and your finest wine!”

Rosa and Keith both turned to look at the new arrival. A dark haired woman stood at the order counter. A thin streak of white hair cut through her dark locks, but it did nothing to detract from her striking features. She was dressed in clothes a size too small, but it only served to accentuate her body, which seemed so perfect as to be sculpted from bronze.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. We have steak and queso, but we don’t normally just serve them separately. We have them as burritos, tacos, salads and such. And we don’t have any wine. We have beer, maybe a Corona—”

The new arrival glowered at the order taker. “You have heard me, woman.”

With a sigh, Keith started to rise from his seat. Rosa reached out to grab his hand.

“No, I know it’s your job, but let me handle this one. Perhaps I can help her understand the restaurant a bit better. I want to help and this is something within my power.”

Keith lowered back into his seat. “Alright, but if she gets any more belligerent, I’m going to step in. I would rather not have to write up the paperwork on lunch, but I’m not going to have a fight break out here.”

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 12. Rosa

The placed was called Rey’s Burritos which sounded like exactly the kind of place a girl born and raised in Guadalajara wanted to eat north of the border. It was the kind of name that just sounded like America’s weird hodge podge of American cooking and traditional Mexican cooking. But Keith insisted she try the food. She frowned when she saw the neighborhood. Most of the businesses were a bit rundown and a twenty-four strip club was clearly visible a couple blocks down.

But as she looked at the open kitchen and smelled the food, it was clear the place knew what it was doing. It was clear the people at Rey’s knew something about authentic cooking. She smiled as the couple in front of her ordered tacos and did not receive the crunchy abominations that some American invented.

“See,” Keith said. “This isn’t so bad is it? Besides, I’m buying.”

“So far they’re doing well. But I haven’t tried the food yet.”

The line moved quickly. Keith went first ordering a steak burrito (everything seemed like it was steak here) and a large pop. She followed him up and studied the meat choices and was surprised by several choices that reminded her of her childhood. “I’ll take the lengua please,” she said in Spanish.

The order taker smiled and rattled off both orders in Spanish to the two men behind her.

It took less than ten minutes for their food to reach the table. It might have taken longer in Mexico, but speed was something Americans loved in their food, even if it cost them quality regularly. But as she took the first bit of her burrito, it was clear Rey’s was not that kind of place.

Keith smiled as she took a quick second bite after the first. “I told you this place was great.”

She chewed the mix of rice, meat, bean and tortilla filling her mouth. Unable to speak she gave him a nod and smile.

“Look, I really wanted to thank you for coming out with me. I know your mind is on the friend you lost. I just wanted to say that while I think your heart is in the right place, you need to leave this to the right authorities. I know the detectives are hard at work. Homeland Security is assisting. We take bombings really seriously. We will find out who did this.”

“I know. I just need some kind of closure.”

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Casting Call: Stomp

Garrett Vos has a limited pool of young actors that can play him. A mixed kid with a crazy afro isn't exactly the most common casting call in Hollywood or anywhere else. But one young actor made a name for himself with that look. And while he spent a bit too much time singing and dancing in High School Musical, Corbin Bleu certainly has some acting chops. He would make a fine addition to the cast of the mythical Walking Shadows movie.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ICONS Character Profile: Peach

Name: Peach

Real Name: unknown

Origin: Transformed

First Appearance: Book One, Chapter Six



ABILITIES

Prowess 4

Coordination 5

Strength 2

Intellect 4

Awareness 6

Willpower 6



Stamina 8

Determination 3



SPECIALTIES

Art (tattoo)

Languages (?)

Occult


POWERS

Magic 8

(Extras: Slow Recovery; Limit: Preparation, Source [tattoos], Tiring)

Stunning 5


QUALITIES

Connections: ?

Connections: ?

Identity (Secretary)



CHALLENGES

Enemy (?)

Social (promiscuous reputation)

Weakness (?)


HISTORY & PERSONALITY

Peach seems to be a woman with no past and no special abilities. She’s a young woman in her early to mid-twenties, heavily tattooed and with a reputation for being easy. She does nothing to assuage people’s belief about her nature as she is more than willing to hide her true nature from those around her.

Peach met Alli Finch nearly ten years ago when both were still high school aged. Peach was a runaway dropout, the bad girl that helped protect Alli as she came to admit her connection with the spirit-world. Their bond remained for years to come, despite Peach’s background still being mostly a mystery. They’ve remained fast friends with Alli knowledgeable about Peach’s mystic prowess, even if she knows never to question Peach about any of it.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 11-4

“You say this is the future, but can it be stopped?”

“I don’t know for certain,” Kaihime said. “I can spout quantum theories at you, but I’m not a time traveler by nature. I don’t know what it means. But I knew that I could trace the rise of GENESIS to this moment, when they sought to secure a group of powers unlike their previous victims. Your friends. If we can stop GENESIS now, we might be able to make it too much of a liability for the Court of Shadows to continue their work.”

“How? This is too big, Kaihime. I hunt ghosts. My friends have powers, but none of us are heroes. We can’t fight an endless army.”

“Then the world is lost.”

“What about F.O.R.C.E.? Why not go to them?”

“A government entity? The Court’s reach is long. They have agents on the inside. They would tip off GENESIS before F.O.R.C.E. could do anything. No, we have to do this ourselves.”

“It’s too much,” Alli said.

“I know my words are terrible. But the mission must be completed, one way or another.”

“But what if we can’t find Marilyn and the others?”

“Then we have to find someone else to help us. And for that we need to return to Spirit Cop Headquarters.”

“Why?”

“I believe you have files in place. We must unlock them and find the rest of their metahuman database. River City has more metahumans. We can only hope they will come to our aid in our time of need.”

“Alright. You make it sound like I don’t have much choice. But when this is over, you need to help me find Marilyn.”

“You care about her a great deal,” Kaihime said. “Is this what you call love? It’s an emotion I can fathom, but I’m not sure I fully understand.”

“Yes, I would call it love,” Alli said. “And maybe someday you will get a chance to understand it, Kaihime. But it sounds like we’ve got a lot to do before then. Let’s get you to those files and see what you can do with them. Then we find my friends and stop this GENESIS once and for all.”

Kaihime could only nod her head in agreement.

This was going even better than she could have hoped. She thought she would face far more resistance to her revelations. But Alli believed her every word. She would follow and help her find the others and stop GENESIS. And when all was said and done, Kaihime knew her real plan could begin.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 11-3

“GENESIS does numerous experiments of a questionable nature. One of their areas of research is into replication of extranormal powers. But such research requires subjects, individuals with powers. Individuals with few connections to society are the most convenient. They constantly research internet records, police records and whatever other network they can access to find individuals that fit that pattern. Individuals like your friends.”

“Doppelganger works for this GENESIS?”

Kaihime nodded.

“But if they want us so bad, why haven’t they tried again already?”

“Their attempted capture of you was not their original plan. GENESIS operates in secrecy. Five disappearances would have caused the police and the news to find a pattern. Their hand was forced when Ian escaped their clutches. So they tried to capture all of you, even though they only managed to secure your friend Rosa.”

“How do you know all this?”

Kaihime tapped the side of her head. “I have access to the GENESIS communication channel. They keep most of their most important information off the line, but they use it regularly during strikes on targets. That’s how I knew who all of you were. A few internet searches followed by a hack of the city’s CCTV system, helped me find your vehicle. I had hoped you could lead me to the others. What about the one you called Stomp?”

“If the radio in the car is telling me the truth, he’s dead. He died in an explosion on the pier while I was...away. I’m not sure what happened. I figure Rosa has the answers. I have nothing. I’m just stuck trying to figure out where the hell everyone went.”

“This bodes ill. If your allies are already gone, GENESIS could already have them. And if GENESIS has them, they could—” She stopped short as she realized she said too much.

“They could what?”

“I—it is dangerous for me to say too much. When I started to research coming to your world, I experimented with the connection point between the Aerie and this world. In the process, I managed to unlock the ability to shift the Aerie through time. I saw the future. And in the future, GENESIS has conquered the world. Billions are dead. They rule with an iron fist, perpetuated by an army of superhuman soldiers that can download any power necessary at a whim. The rich have powers of their own while the poor scramble to support the culture of excess. And anyone that steps out of line dies.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 11-2

“The circuitry?”

“Yes. They embedded my body with a new neural network. It controls millions of nanite antibodies in my blood that keep the cancer from returning. But without it, I would have no immune system and no nervous system. I live, but I am as much machine as woman.”

“But you live and that’s something.”

“It is,” Kaihime said. “After my parents found my cure, they freed me from my slowed time statis. I was approximately eleven in my own frame of time reference, but they spent over thirty years finding the answers they sought. I watched my parents age every time they visited me, far faster than anyone should. By the time I joined them, they had already made the decision to remain in the Aerie until they died. I stayed with them, learning about your world through our connection with your computer networks and your television.”

“You’ve watched us.”

“My parents were scientists for a group known as the Court of Shadows. They were a secret society of men and women that sought to protect humanity by controlling it from the shadows. They did this by hiding technologies they considered humankind not ready to handle. My parents researched this technology and they stole it when they built the Aerie to save my life. They eventually died for it when the Court found them during a supply run. I watched them die from my home as my mother cut off the portal between worlds. I was left alone in The Aerie with my only escape wired into my own hardware. And I knew I had a purpose. I had to stop the Court of Shadows from hurting anyone else.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Alli said. “But what does any of this have to do with me or Marilyn or the others?”

“The Court of Shadows has many branches though in my research I’ve learned they are only one of many such societies seeking to force their influence over mankind. But one of those branches is a research group called Genetic Enhancement and Neurological Improvement Systems Analysis Group. They call themselves GENESIS, because there is nothing the Court loves more than a good acronym.”

“I don’t think I like where this is going,” Alli said.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 11. Kaihime

Kaihime still wasn’t sure what to think of the carbon spitting locomotion Alli drove through streets filled with hundreds of other similarly poisonous vehicles. She knew that this world was far more noxious than she could see from their broadcasts. Thousands of articles existed to discuss the harm this transportation did to the air of a city this size. But no one seemed to care as they drove them to and from work or school or even nowhere in particular. She couldn’t quite understand why people would be so disinterested in their own well-being. Even if their technology couldn’t be made cleaner, some means of well maintained public transit would be far wiser for their continued well-being.

“Look, Kaihime. It’s time you stopped staring out the window. I told you I need answers if I’m going to keep driving around this city on a wild goose chase.”

Kaihime turned back to the other woman. “What do geese have to do with this mission?”

“Nevermind that. What is this about?”

Kaihime studied the intricate pattern tattooed onto Alli’s shoulder. It poked out from under a sleeve and traveled down to her elbow. The ink braided into skin reminded her of the circuitry bound to her own form. She wondered if the tattoo was anywhere near as painful as her own transformation.

“I come from a place called The Aerie. It is not of this world, but adjacent to it. I believe the best term I could use in English is a pocket dimension. It is a space made separate of Earth society where I could be raised in isolation.”

“Okay, that’s certainly not anything I can begin to comprehend and I talk to ghosts, lady.”

“It is nothing unusual for me. It was the way of my life. I was born with a deadly illness, a cancer that ate away at every ounce of my body from the day I left my mother’s womb. Exposure to this atmosphere would have made it far worse. My mother and father sought a way to raise me outside of normal time where they could retard the cancer’s growth until they could find a way to destroy it. In The Aerie, I could be kept in a state of slowed time while they would be able to use the intervening years to find the answers they need to keep me alive.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

River City History: The final stand against Yankee Doodle Jones

With the insanity of Yankee Doodle Jones now an institution even as World War II neared its conclusion in the European theatre. With police thinned by the fighting overseas, they didn’t stand a chance against the massive super-powered being more powerful than any mortal. Heroes of comparable power existed—but most were also too busy aiding the war effort to lend a hand.

The Midwest city found itself alone against a power it could not hope to control. Jones declared himself emperor and set out to systematically destroy anyone that opposed him. The police and city government saw no choice but to bow to his whim when it was clear no one would aid them in their plight.

The other heroes of the city took up the call. The Dragon would gather Echo, the Enchanted Dagger and California-based hero Barry Kuda to join him in his fight against the insane created man. Kuda was a mysterious underwater hero only in the area by chance. But when The Dragon looked for heroes, the undersea adventurer answered the call.

Everything came to a head on October 14, 1944. The four heroes confronted Yankee Doodle Jones face to face…and the battle would rock the city to its core.

In his mad quest to take total control of the city, Jones now ruled from city hall, flying off to destroy anyone or anything he might see as a threat. As night fell, the combined might of the heroes made their move.

The details of the battle can only be pieced together in hindsight. The heroes succeeded in ending the life of the artificial man, but Echo and the Enchanted Dagger were both killed in the conflict. The Dragon disappeared from the city, his whereabouts to this day still unknown. Barry Kuda returned to California after the victory, but refused to speak of that night for the rest of his life.

The Dragon left Yankee Doodle Jones’s body little more than a burning corpse, his components melting away. Only dental records were capable of identifying the former hero. River City was free of his rule, but now stood with a broken government, a police force in shambles and no super powered protector to help its through the post-war transition.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

River City History: Alias the Dragon

The origins of police scientist William Norton remain shrouded in mystery. Before his arrival in River City in early 1944, no record of a William or Bill Norton that fit his description can be found. The name was almost certainly an alias for the mysterious figure, but no amount of research has ever brought any more information about Norton to life. Whatever the secrets of his origins, he quickly found a place as part of the River City Police Department in their laboratory.

But as a police scientist, he seemed to rarely involve himself in cases. Not officially, by any means. Instead Norton worked under the Alias of the Dragon, a deadly crimefighter on the streets of the struggling city. Wearing a skintight piece of red fabric unlike anything in the world and a green cloak that seemed made of some lizard-hide, he was a strange figure in the dark nights of River City. His red bodysuit was impervious to flame, while his green cloak was bulletproof. He carried a strange ray gun that could unleash massive blasts of flame unimagined by the most modern flamethrower designs, dwarfing even modern techniques. Truly the Dragon was a mystery wrapped in an enigma, a figure that not even history seems able to explain fully.

Either as Norton or as the Dragon, he would remain a fixture in River City as Yankee Doodle Jones’s insanity grew. He would become a key player in the coming battle that would threaten to tear the town he now called home to pieces.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 10-5

Phoebe chuckled. “I know you only have a week’s worth of experience to go upon, but you don’t have to rush into decisions, Ian Page. We are talking about a potentially life changing experience. These people after you could be far more deadly than you suspect. They could have given up on any urge to capture you.”

“I need answers. And I can’t crack their files despite clearly being good with computers, even if I can't remember why or how. So you’re right that this is how I find my answers. I don’t think I have any other path.”

“Have you considered that the answers you seek may not be the answers you want? What if you are not the person you think you were? What if you were someone far worse than you are now?”

“I—if that is what happens, then I will face it when it comes. But if I’ve learned anything in the last week, it is that I cannot let my fear force me down my path. I need answers and I cannot let any worry about what I might find out stop me from going after them.”

“Alright then. When we return to Alli’s shop, we should figure out a plan.”

Ian nodded. “What about Rosa? Should we find her first?”

“I’m sure she will be fine with her new boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend? You think her and the cop are an item?”

“She clearly has affection for him. I suspect they are intimate, though whether you wish to define that as love or lust is up to you.”

“Do you ever give a clear answer?”

She smirked. “After living as long as I have, one gets used to not just jumping to one simple answer. I’m used to having time to make decisions.”

“I hadn’t thought about it that way,” Ian said. “I told you I’m not used to this immortality thing.”

Phoebe slung an arm around him and gave him a playful squeeze. “I promise you this, once you get used to it, you lose half the fun. Come on, Ian. Let’s enjoy the rest of the day. And tonight we start to solve the mystery of your missing life!”

Ian laughed with her as they continued down the pier.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 10-4

Phoebe nodded. “You could very well be much older than you look, Ian. You also could be naturally immortal, but still a young one. I cannot answer one way or another. But none of this explains your memory loss.”

“What does then?”

“If I were to guess, I would suspect someone removed those memories. But it could be accidental or purposeful. That I cannot know without learning more about your past, just as you wish to do.”

“Then we’re back at square one.”

“Not exactly. You have knowledge of what you are. And it seems you have one source that must know something about you.”

“What? Who?”

“You’ve told me the story of how you and your friends came together,” Phoebe said. But I don’t think you’ve considered it as deeply as you might. Yes, the people you escaped from had your name and the others on the list, only one of dozens of files you’ve managed to open. But don’t you think if they have this many files on you and your new friends, they also have more information about who you are or where you came from?”

Ian stopped in his tracks. “I suppose. But even if they do, it does me no good. Doppelganger is dead and whoever he was working for vanished as fast as the police could cover up the crime scene.”

Phoebe turned to face him. “But they’re still out there and they have answers. All we have to do is get their attention. You just have to be ready to turn the tides on them.”

“We don’t know how many men they have,” Ian said. “They could come at us with a small army.”

“You could be right. You have to consider whether or not that is a chance you wish to take.”

Phoebe started to walk again. Ian stared at her for a few more seconds before he ran to catch up with her. But he still wasn’t sure what to think about her words. Facing danger was never his natural inclination. Phoebe was right that Doppelganger’s employers had to have some answers for him. Besides, they were still out there somewhere. They would be back to hound him and the others soon enough. It just made sense to take the battle to them.

“I’ll do it,” he said.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 10-3

“Dang, I hoped I might have an answer.”

Two more tables down, Phoebe was now at the back of the store where a bored teenager paid them little attention as she listened to a pair of earbuds. She didn’t appear to want to even be working, let alone give any help to either of them.

Phoebe didn’t pay any heed to the clerk. Instead, she seemed to find exactly what she wanted from the store. She picked up a simple black knitted beret. It was oversized and clearly made for someone with a lot of hair. It didn’t look like anything particularly special, but Phoebe studied it harder than she did her previous choices. She turned it around in her hands more than the two circles of the other hats. Then she put it on her head and pulled her long braids up under it.

“How do I look?”

Ian shrugged. “Honestly, Phoebe, I think you’re gorgeous no matter what.”

Phoebe laughed. It was a loud roar—a rousing guffaw that almost shook the tiny shop. “You are a flatterer, Ian Page. But thank you. This is the one that I want.”

She pulled the hat off and brought it to the girl, who looked up from the Scribblenauts game on her tablet long enough to mumble, “Twenty bucks.”

Phoebe brandished the card. Ian stopped, suddenly fearful that the clerk would ask for the identification neither of them had. But the employee barely looked at them, so it was no real surprise when she didn’t even ask for a signature. Ian silently scolded himself for letting his own fear get too much control over him again.

As they left, Phoebe one again positioned the beret over her head and tucked her blue braids beneath it.

“Do you feel better now?”

“Much,” Phoebe said. “I’ve never been on this world but that doesn’t mean I’m interested in sticking out.” She paused. “Is the idiom ‘like a sore thumb’ correct? That makes little sense.”

“It’s correct and you’re right that it doesn’t make much sense.” Ian glanced back at the store for just a moment. “Back there you said that my memory loss couldn’t be due to the fact that I’m way older than I look. But everything tells me I am, from Ian Page in the thirties to the barrier stopping me to this El Sanguijuelo business tells me that I have to be an immortal. It feels strange using that word about myself, you know.”

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 10-2

She perused the hats as Ian slowly followed behind her. She would pick up at least one from each table as she passed through. She examined it carefully, turning it around in her hands a few times. But she wouldn’t try it on, only place it back on the rack or mannikin head she took it from.

She turned to him after the third table and the fifth hat. “You have went silent again, Ian Page. I know mortality is a trait seen as normal for the human race here, but throughout the universe it isn’t that way. Billions of sentients from across the universe have paid for or been rewarded with the ability of consistent cellular repair. But even that comes with problems. You see, the human mind is much like one of your computers. It has amazing processing power but its storage space has limits. The cells of the brain may stay stable, but their capacity doesn’t grow. Once you reach about three hundred forgetfulness sets in without a proper memory extension.”

“Memory extension?”

Phoebe pushed the blue braids away from the back of her neck. A tiny piece of metal barely showed against her skin, just to the left of her spine. A casual glance might take it as a strange piercing, but it was clearly embedded deeper than that.

“Your world is already beginning to explore the melding of man and machine. I would think a memory storage upgrade wouldn’t be all that surprising to you.”

“I—I guess I’m not really sure what to think. But I wonder if you’re describing what’s wrong with me. Could I be so old I’ve developed some kind of complete memory loss?”

“It doesn’t really work that way,” Phoebe said. “Memories simply fade over time. Most people rarely remember more than a few snippets of their childhood by the time they’re forty. As time comes between the reality and the memory, the memory fades. But it is the distant memory that fades, not the near one. A thousand year old without a memory extension will remember the last couple hundred years alright, but he may have forgotten his first love, his first marriage or even all of his first five hundred years. It all depends on the individual. If you are truly old, your memory might suffer from some degradation, but your current loss of your past is not due to this.”

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 10. Ian

Ian walked in silence with Phoebe down the pier. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk. It was that he wasn’t sure what to say. The mystery of his own existence whirled around in his skull over and over again. He wanted answers—he needed answers—but he couldn’t find a single clue outside an eighty year old newspaper entry.

Well, maybe not the only clue. He glanced to Phoebe. “Can I ask you something?”

“I suspect it’s been wandering through your brain for quite some time. But you know you can ask me anything, Ian.”  

“Back on the prison world—”

“I called it Elsewhere, though its proper designation was D97F9931.”

“Yes, there. When you were possessed by Caelus, you needed a mortal to break through the barrier that held the portal between worlds. But I couldn’t do it. It stopped me the same as it did you. How is that possible?”

“You’re clearly not a mortal, Ian.”

Phoebe said it so matter of factly that Ian wasn’t quite sure how to respond. An immortal? Even the concept seemed preposterous, though he was now speaking to an ancient human from outer space and fought a god only two days ago. Perhaps it was time to accept nothing in his life was preposterous.

“I’m not a god,” Ian said. “I barely can stand on my own in a fight. I have to overcome my own terror every time any danger comes near.”

“You don’t have to be a god to be ageless, Ian.” Phoebe stopped short in front of a tiny little hat shop. She pointed at the heavy blue braids on her head. “Come on. I need something to tame this.”

Ian followed her in. “Do you have any money?”

Phoebe laughed. “I took the liberty of confiscating Ms. Finch’s business bank card. It seems simple enough to operate. I will replace the funds in it soon enough, but I need to be a bit less conspicuous first, I suspect.”

“I guess. I just think maybe we should have said something to Alli before we spent her money. I don’t even know if she’s got any—”

“You worry too much, Ian. One thing you learn over decades and centuries is that worries only make you feel older. And after a few hundred years, it’s hard not to feel ancient, especially on a world that hasn’t unlocked any significant medicinal restoration.”

“Uh, I guess.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Love Walking Shadows? Support it on Patreon!

I have been working on Walking Shadows in one form or another for three years now. While its current iteration only dates back to early 2015, the previous incarnation featured far shorter posts on a daily basis with less overall content. But as I've worked on the story and developed the characters, I have wanted to put more and more time and energy into the world of Ian, Stomp, Cyrus, Alli, Marilyn, Rosa, Peach, Phoebe and Kaihime. But I also have to be realistic: Walking Shadows has never turned a profit of any kind.

Last year I set up a Patreon to allow fans to directly support my work. I left it unused for most of this year, but starting in November, it will become the go-to support method for fans that enjoy Walking Shadows. Readers will be able to donate anything from a single dollar up every month to show their support for great fiction delivered at three pages a week.

What is Patreon? It is a crowd-funding profit designed for fans to directly contribute to the creators they love and want to support. Put simply, it is a way for anyone reading this to show their support financially for Walking Shadows and super powered fiction as a whole.

If the Patreon proves successful however, I plan to do much more than just bring you Walking Shadows. I want to bring things like a dedicated domain, paid art and professional site design to Walking Shadows. I also want to increase the publishing schedule as well as debut new serialized features like Cosmic! and Lightweight.

All supporters get access to exclusive content only available to patrons. Supporters can get also ebook editions of Walking Shadows delivered on a monthly basis, plus novels in the Metahuman Press library and even print editions.

This doesn't mean I plan to put this series behind a pay window or anything like that. I plan to bring Walking Shadows free to readers for a long time to come.

Please head over to Patreon and check out the campaign, the goals and the rewards. With your support, we can start to make them a reality.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Interlude I

They called themselves Pain and Pleasure. He was able to heal any wound and coupled with his super strength could break any man. She could bring orgasmic excitement with just a touch. Men melted for her and women wanted to be her. They sold their abilities to the highest bidder, but even they weren’t sure about this one.

Pain and Pleasure stood inside a darkened warehouse. Shadows loomed above them. The sunlight was blocked by the lack of windows and the black paint over the few that remained. Pain gave Pleasure a sideways glance. She knew the meaning: I don’t like this.

“Show yourself,” she said. “Or we’re out of here.”

One of the shadows above shifted with blinding speed. A second later, the figure appeared directly before Pain and Pleasure.

She wore very little, just a black halter top and a thong made of the same lace. Normally Pain’s eyes would be all over the woman. But his eyes were focused on the woman’s mouth and the elongated canines she showed as she smiled.

“We do not mean to disturb you, but we are not one for the light.” She pointed to the single light that hung over the mercenaries. “We are creatures of the night after all.”

Pain shook his head. “You’re telling me your vamp—”

“What do you want us to do?” Pleasure said.

“We need agents during the daylight hours. An individual somewhere in the city poses a great danger to my people. And we need for this threat to be destroyed.”

“A threat,” Pleasure said. “That sounds like something we can help you with. We’re experts at eliminating threats.”

“Excellent. But this is no ordinary threat.”

“Lady, we get it,” Pain said. “You ain’t no ordinary client. This dude needs to be taken out and he’s got powers. We’ve done this dozens of time. You know the price. We just need a name.”

The vampire woman smiled, again bearing her fangs. “It is not a he. And she is not just another power. She is a goddess among men. And though she has been humbled, she still presents a dangerous threat. Her name is Melinoe and she must die before she can bring forth the end of everything.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Casting Call: Ian Page

Like many people in the world I like to take fiction and design my cast around it. My own writing often comes with a sense of casting early on as I attempt to visualize the figures I'm writing about. In Casting Call, I share my thoughts of who would make the perfect actor to bring a character to life.

Ian needs an actor with depth and range. I've been more than impressed with the work of Nicholas Hoult both in his more blockbuster movies (the X-Men franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road) and in his edgier or more artful work (Skins, Warm Bodies). I think he has all the range to play Ian, although he might need to play a figure a bit more meek than the other damaged figures he has played.

Nicholas Hoult. From a Flaunt magazine photo shoot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 9-4

“I don’t know. Melinoe’s connection to nightmares might help her see us. We could—”

“No. No, you could not.” The new voice seemed to echo as though it was a dozen voices talking as one. “You will go nowhere without our permission and our sanction.”

“Who are you?” Cyrus yelled. “What do you want with us?”

Cyrus screamed in pain as he was yanked away from Marilyn. His body struck hard against the closet door. Marilyn could see some kind of force distorting the air between her and Cyrus. It held him fast and seemed to be slowly crushing him.

“We have no interest in you,” the mysterious voice said. “You are a strange entry into our plan, godling, but you serve little purpose to ourselves or our future. You are but a pawn, an odd one perhaps, but still a pawn. You will stay where you are and you will be silent. For we have little need to keep you alive if your precious love refuses to help us.”

“What is this?” Marilyn said. “You want my help, then you better show yourself and let Cyrus go!”

The room seemed to flicker. Marilyn could see something flow around her. They were insubstantial though. It was though the room filled with outlines of people rather than actual people. But they formed all around her, encircling her. They came in all shapes and sizes: adults and children, skinny and fat, tall and short. At least a dozen of them in total. One held an arm up, the force holding Cyrus to the wall extending from it.

“The godling will stay where he is, dear girl.” Cyrus’s captor seemed to be the focal point of their words, but all of them spoke as one. “You have much to answer for. You will explain yourself and then you will complete your mission.”

“Mission? What are you talking about? I don’t know what any of this is.”

“The mission we created you for, homonculus. You may have denied yourself the memories but it is time you finally complete your only purpose of existence.”

“What? I don’t—”

Marilyn clutched at her throat as something squeezed it shut. She started to shift her body, change her method of breathing, but it was too late. The bones cracked as she lost consciousness.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 9-3

She reached out to take her girlfriend’s arm, but her hand just passed straight through it. Marilyn quickly turned back to Cyrus, her eyes wide in shock. He rushed over to her and pulled her back. But she resisted just long enough to cause him to stumble. He fell straight towards Alli—and straight through her as well.

“No, this isn’t right,” Cyrus said. “This is very, very wrong.”

“What is happening?”

“I’m not sure. But it shouldn’t be happening. Apparitions aren’t living people, just shades left behind by those that have passed.”

“Apparitions? You mean ghosts? That can’t be right. If we were ghosts, Alli would still be able to communicate with us.”

“I don’t know,” Cyrus said. “But you meet a lot of ghosts when you’re the son of the death god.”

Alli turned back to the other woman. “I guess our next move is to head back to Spirit Cop. We have to find the others somewhere.” She turned back to the apartment door and opened it again.

“We must hurry,” the other woman said. “We are all in grave danger.”

“So you’ve said, but you’re going to explain it to me in the car. I’m not driving all over this damn city without a good reason.”

“Of course,” the mystery woman said as the door closed behind her.

Marilyn didn’t know what to do as they stood in the otherwise empty room. She leaned in to Cyrus. He wrapped his arms around her, a comforting gesture as she tried to resist the fear that threatened to overwhelm her. She nestled her head into his chest.

“What do we do?” She resisted the urge to sob as she said the words.

“We have to figure out what did this to us. We didn’t die, so someone or something must be responsible for pulling us out of sync with the living world.”

“But what? And how? Why can’t Alli detect us when she talks to ghosts on a regular basis?”

“I don’t know,” Cyrus said. “I wish I did.”

She pulled away from him. She took a deep breath and forced down the worries that raced through her mind. He was right. They needed answers and she would be strong. She survived a fight with an insane god with him. She would survive this as well.

She turned to the door. “Where do we go to find help?”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 9-2

“I don’t think that’s the only reason.”

“Well, it doesn’t hurt that I like you quite a bit, Marilyn. You intrigue me. And you know what you’re doing. Not all girls can say that.”

She just shook her head and bit her lower lip as she felt another climax coming.

Cyrus stopped suddenly just as she nearly peaked. His eyes were wide beneath her, his head up and alert.

“What?”

“The door. A key—”

She turned her attention to the front door. She heard it now. The click and the turn of a key in the lock. And only one other person had a key to her apartment.

She lowered her voice. “Shit! Get in the bathroom. Now. I’m not quite ready to have this conversation yet.”

“Wait, who is it?”

She stepped off the bed and gathered the ball of his clothes. She threw them into his arms. “Go! Now!”

Cyrus looked perplexed, but he took the wad of clothes and headed towards the bathroom. Marilyn turned back to the door and rushed towards it.

Clothes formed over her body as she bounded towards the door. A pleated black skirt and a simple blue sweatshirt formed over her. Her feet stayed bare as she never hardened them into shoes in her house. Her hair straightened into her normal style, the classic look of her namesake.

She sat up in the bed and composed herself just as the key clicked and the door swung open. She gave Alli a smile.

Alli looked around the room a couple times and then let out a sigh. Another girl, this one with some kind of circuits seemingly interweaving her skin, entered after her.

“Marilyn!”

Marilyn’s eyes narrowed. She couldn’t understand why Alli was calling out for her. “I’m right here.”

Alli turned to the other girl as if she hadn’t even heard Marilyn. “Well, from the state of the bed she clearly slept here, but she’s not here now. Damn it, where did she go?”

“I’m right here!” Marilyn yelled the words, but the other women still didn’t seem to hear. With panic, she turned back to the bathroom. “Cyrus!”

He stumbled out, his clothes a mess. “Alli, hi, uh, who’s your new friend?”

Neither Alli nor the other woman took any notice of that question either.

“Cyrus, it’s like they can’t even see us.” Marilyn climbed out of the bed as Alli threw up her arms in frustration. “Alli, I’m right here.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 9. Marilyn

Marilyn stretched like a cat as she sat atop Cyrus. He was still inside her, but flaccid now. The godling was covered in sweat while her own skin was still pristine. It was another perk of her control over her own body.

“Are you okay?”

Cyrus exhaled deeply. He sat silent for a few long seconds after that before saying, “Yes, I think so. My parents may be gods, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get tired.”

“I’m sorry. Am I wearing you out, Cyrus?”

“You’re insatiable. I think you’re actually trying to kill me.”

“Not kill you. Just have some fun. I didn’t hear you complaining during the act, did I?”

“No, milady, you did not. Thanks by the way. I think I needed this. With everything that happened with my family and Caelus, with having my sister suddenly become my roommate, it just feels good to enjoy myself a little.”

“You’re so sweet,” Marilyn said. “I would like to say I was doing this for you, but really I just wanted to see how good you really were. I got just a taste on the rooftop. I wanted the full smorgasbord today.”

“Well, did you get your fill?”

She flexed her inner muscles. Cyrus groaned beneath her. “What do you think?”

“Are you sure you’re not trying to kill me?”

Marilyn felt Cyrus grow inside her again. He certainly had stamina, a good trait in a man. One of her favorite things about other women was their ability to keep going for most of the night. In her short life, she hadn’t learned much, but she did learn she hated it when someone finished, rolled over and went to sleep.

He grabbed her hips as she slowly started to ride him again. His eyes were wide, even as he lengthened to hit the spot she wanted him to hit.

“I’m not sure if you’re a god, but you do how to make a girl’s knees weak, Cyrus.”

He thrusted into her and she groaned as her orgasm rushed over her.

“You’re good,” she said. “Very very good.”

“I try. Sometimes I succeed. But I think you’re more receptive than most.”

She started to ride him again. “Oh, have you had lots of chances to try out your prowess with the ladies?”

“Not a lot. But a few.”

She smiled. “I didn’t know. You seemed rather repressed when I first got you naked on the roof.”

“Well, it had been awhile.”

Saturday, October 17, 2015

River City History: The Echo

The detective known as Echo was really a professional ventriloquist named James Carson. Carson and his wife Cora were a pair of traveling showmen, but they regularly worked and performed in River City.

Jim Carson was many things, but never was he a man that lived a slow easy life. He lived for adventure and with the rise of the costumed adventurer, he seemed bent on carving his own path as a hero. But as a famed celebrity and well known public figure, he knew he needed an edge that would keep him from the public eye.

His brother in law Cornelius Doom would provide him the answer to his quest. Doom stumbled upon a strange chemically produced gem that he embedded in a belt buckle. When twisted the gem would cause a field of light to bend around the person wearing the belt and make them invisible. Along with another special weapon, a ring that created paralyzing rays of energy, Carson was able to become the invisible hero known as the Echo.

The Echo’s adventures would continue for much of the World War as a bad knee would keep Carson stateside during the war (though he did work in ad campaigns for war bonds.) Though he rarely faced challenges as great as other heroes, he would still be forced into battle with the mad Yankee Doodle Jones.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 8-2

Something was definitely different about this woman, but Alli knew Kaihime wouldn’t give her any answers until she found the others. She still didn’t know why they weren’t answering the landline back at Spirit Cop Headquarters. Nor could she understand why neither Cyrus nor Marilyn picked up their cells. But she knew they wouldn’t have long to find out.

She pulled into the parking lot of the tiny lot in front of the brownstone that housed her business. Alli still wasn’t sure how she would keep the place afloat without Peach’s assistance. But that wasn’t what was on her mind now. She needed answers and she would get them soon.

She climbed out of the car and rushed to the door. She slammed into the locked front door and stared blankly at it before she fished her keys out of her pocket.

She didn’t know why the door would be locked, but she quickly got her answer as soon as she walked inside. Phoebe and Ian were gone. Next to the phone, she found a note scrawled on the “while you were out” notepad. It said simply “Went to see Rosa.”

“Shit,” Alli said. “Shit! Shit! Shit!”

“I understand this ‘shit’ to be an expletive of frustration or anger,” Kaihime said. “Have we arrived too late? Have your friends been taken?”

“I don’t know,” Alli said. “But they’re not here.”

She started back towards the front door, her cell phone already out and dialing Rosa’s number.

No answer came from Rosa.

Of course, there’s no answer. Because every time I think anything is going to slow down and get back to a modicum of normal, things get crazy again. This bullshit has got to stop.

“Your friends are in danger,” Kaihime said. “We must find them as soon as possible.”

Alli dialed Marilyn’s number again, but it again went to voicemail.

“We need to find Marilyn and Cyrus first,” Alli said. “They might know where the others went.”

“The longer we wait, the more danger your friends could be in. We must hurry.”

“I can only hurry so much in River City traffic. This cisty is built for anything but hurrying in fact. Wait—how much can you carry?”

“I am not sure,” Kaihime said. “Perhaps five hundred to six hundred pounds. I have never tested my carrying capacity in flight.”

“Five to six—” Alli shook her head. She didn’t need to ask details about this woman’s powers.
Kaihime would probably obfuscate them anyway. She needed to find Marilyn and Cyrus, and she needed to find them quickly.

“Nevermind. Can you fly me? If we go by air, we can move faster. We can get to Marilyn’s apartment and figure out our next move from there.”

“This is very wise,” Kaihime said. “Let us go, Alli Finch. We have no time to lose.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 8. Alli

As they drove slowly down the street back to Spirit Cop Headquarters, Alli wasn’t quite sure what to make of the strange woman in her car. This Kaihime clearly knew her somehow, but she stopped talking as soon as she sat down in the Spirit-Mobile. Once inside, she just stared both at the inside of the car and the outside world slowly passing by. She rubbed the dashboard and the seats as if they were something foreign and mysterious.

“Where are you from?” Alli finally asked after the fifth rubdown of the car’s interiors. “Why did you have to make such a dramatic appearance? I have a phone after all.” She waved the cell phone in between them as a reminder.

“I am sorry,” Kaihime said. “I’m a bit unsure of this world. It is...different than I expected.”

“What do you mean ‘this world’? Are you an alien? Because I think I’ve already had my share of those.”

Kaihime shook her head. “No, I simply come from somewhere else. I’m not sure what I can tell you. If I say too much I might endanger the ti—It might be dangerous.”

“Endanger the what?”

“I may have already said too much.”

“What is this about? You said something about Doppelganger. You said he’s alive and targeting us. But we all saw him die. We checked the body. He was definitely dead.”

Kaihime looked out the window again as they whisked by a dilapidated liquor store. “I must tell the others as well. The more often I speak, the more danger I may bring. Please just hurry.”

“You’re not making any sense,” Alli said. “What danger? What problems? You tell me Doppelganger is alive somehow and back after us, but you can’t tell me anything else. I need something to work with here.”

“Bring me to the others. I can give you answers then.”

Alli didn’t much care for the stranger’s attitude, but this Kaihime clearly presented at least an air of truth. The circuits integrated into her skin marked her as something more than human. Alli knew technology-based metahumans existed in the world, but Kaihime seemed completely unlike any of them. The tech in her skin was several generations ahead of anything on the market. And the way the circuits laced into her skin looked like some body modification gone horribly wrong.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

ICONS Character Profile: Melinoe

Name: Melinoe, goddess of nightmares Origin: Birthright First Appearance: Book Two, Chapter 2 ABILITIES Prowess 5 Coordination 4 Strength 5 Intellect 6 Awareness 5 Willpower 8 Stamina 13 Determination 9 SPECIALTIES Deception Occult Psychiatry POWERS Constructs (Limits: Can only be used to bring nightmares to life) 8 Dream Control 5 Immortality Magic 4 Telepathy (Extras: Mind Probe; Limits: can only read fears) 8 QUALITIES Above Mankind Connections: Hades Connections: Olympus Connections: Caelus Goddess of Nightmares CHALLENGES Glass Jaw In Persephone’s Service Weakness: any attempt to kill a human results in power loss
HISTORY & PERSONALITY Melinoe is the three thousand year old goddess of nightmares. Daughter of Persephone through an affair with an unknown god (presumedly Zeus), she exists in the middle of the uncomfortable relationship between her father and Pluto. Neither her presumed father nor stepfather has ever given Melinoe anything but cruelty. Melinoe learned as a child that manipulation was the key to her survival. Unwelcome to stay for long periods of time in either Hades or Olympus, she learned that she could use her abilities to get her wishes. 
She rampaged across much of the world for several hundred years before being forced into service of the dream gods Morpheus and Hypnos by her fathers. In recent centuries, the sleep god and the dream god vanished and left Melinoe as sole arbiter of dreams in the Greek pantheon. 
Though her powers have grown limited in the last one hundred years, her nature makes her one of the most potent gods on Earth and a danger to anyone that faces her. Fortunately, her abilities are limited by her mother’s own magic. Trapped in the human world and under the supervision of her brother, she now works at a strip club called Lumber Jacks, biding her time until she can rise to power again.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 7-3

“You like me that way.” Marilyn grabbed his back and pressed her body close to him. She rubbed herself across him, let him feel her wetness against his manhood. She teased him like that as she kissed him. He stifled a groan as he kissed her back.

“Do I need to sing happy birthday to you, Mr. President?”

He grabbed her by the hips and pulled her down on to him. She groaned as she felt him slip inside her. She started to ride him as he stared up into her eyes enraptured.

Cyrus grinded into her, but it wasn’t enough. He needed her like he never needed anything in the decades of his life. He needed her body, her mind and her soul. He needed everything, even if deep down he knew he could never fully have them.

But for now—for now they were his.

He grabbed her by the hips and lifted them both off the bed. He twisted in the air and dropped her back on to the bed. It happened in just a few short seconds, all without losing their connection. Now on top and in control, he drove himself down and into her over and over. Her hand dropped down above their connection. A second later, he felt her body shiver and shake again beneath him.

He slowed, panting, but did not stop. His focus was only on her, only on their passion.

He found his personal Olympus between her legs.


***


Cyrus never caught a glimpse of the shadows on the edges of the room.

He never saw the slim shadows move and deepen as they grow, slowly edged closer on the couple’s love-making. They moved as though something alive, something in need. As the darkness grew outside, they grew stronger. In time they would have enough power to make their presence finally known. The night was their domain and soon, the whole world would be in their hands.

Finally, their plan would be revealed to the entire world. And whether the woman before them knew it, she would help them fulfill their quest. Or the little godling would pay with his life.

He smiled and shook his head. “You’re insatiable, you know that.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Walking Shadows Book 3 Chapter 7-2

“Do you think Alli knows that though?”

“Why wouldn’t she? We agreed to it.”

He sat up and pulled her up with him. “Because that was over a year ago, Marilyn. Emotions don’t just remain static forever. And I’m several decades older than everyone here. Most people I know are thousands of years old. And even they don’t keep the same attachments. There’s a reason why every god is fucking everything around them. That’s what happens when divorce isn’t an option, but emotions change. You have to expect her to grow feelings. Haven’t you?”

Marilyn shrugged. “I still love Alli. But we have a thing that’s mostly about convenience. She fucks good and I fuck good. It makes us fun. Just like you’re fun. But it doesn’t make me linked to her forever anymore than you and I are linked for life.”

“I just wished I could be as sure that this will go down as easy as you are,” Cyrus said.

She reached out and rubbed his cheek. “Poor Cyrus, you’re always so concerned. Always thinking so hard. Calm down. If it’s a problem, it’s not your problem. It’s mine. I’ll talk to Alli. I’ll see how things go. I like being with her, but I like being with you too. She will either deal with that or she won’t.”

“How are you of all people so zen about everything? It’s weird to see you like that especially with that face. I met her once you know. She wasn’t anything like you.”

“Who?”

“The other Marilyn. Monroe. I was pretty young, but Mom and Dad had a reception for local politicians and celebrities in the early sixties. President Kennedy was there and so was she. Little did I know they were a thing on the side. But she was nice, but terribly manic. She was anything but stable, but she knew how to have a good time. It was clear to anyone with half a brain though that she wasn’t going to live a long life. She had too many problems for that.”

“You never told me that.”

“I hadn’t thought about it in years.”

She planted a slow kiss on his lips. “Well, you can tell me more if you would like.” She kissed him again. “Or I can make you feel like a President.”

He smiled and shook his head. “You’re insatiable, you know that.”